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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Recall petition filed against Mayor Condon over Police Department actions

Spokane Mayor David Condon (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)

A local accountant and Democratic Party official has filed a recall petition against Mayor David Condon, citing a report on the handling of former police Chief Frank Straub’s ouster and his nomination of Craig Meidl as a replacement.

David Green, chairman of the 3rd Legislative District Democrats, said he filed the petition Tuesday afternoon as “a private citizen, not a Democrat.”

“We need to accomplish something, or we need to heal,” Green said Tuesday.

In a written statement Tuesday night, Condon said he was committed to battling the recall effort.

“I think it’s well past time to move forward and do the work we were hired by the taxpayers to do,” Condon wrote. “This complaint, which has been rumored for months, is as unsurprising as it is unhelpful to making Spokane the City of Choice. I look forward to successfully challenging these frivolous and politically motivated charges. My focus is continuing to work for the people of Spokane.”

State law requires Spokane County Prosecutor Larry Haskell to prepare ballot language within 15 days for a potential recall. That language, and Green’s statement of charges, will go before a Spokane Superior Court judge within 30 days to determine whether the charges satisfy legal requirements for a recall.

In his petition, Green alleges “malfeasance” and “misfeasance” against Condon, citing the results of Kris Cappel’s report into the handling of sexual harassment complaints against Straub by a former spokeswoman in the police department, Monique Cotton, and the withholding of public records related to the complaints until after Condon’s re-election by top members of his staff.

Malfeasance is defined in state law as “the commission of an unlawful act,” while “misfeasance” is defined as “the performance of a duty in an improper manner.” Either one could be grounds for the recall to go before voters.

Green also alleges Condon is violating city code by not putting Meidl before the City Council for a confirmation.

Brian Coddington, a spokesman for the mayor, said after a news conference announcing Meidl as Condon’s pick for chief that Condon planned to eventually take the nomination to the council. At that news conference, Condon said he would discuss with council members whether such a confirmation “was necessary.”

If the judge approves the petition, Green will have 180 days to gather enough signatures to put the recall question on the ballot. State law requires a total number of signatures equal to 25 percent of the ballots cast in Condon’s re-election in November 2015. The Spokane County Auditor’s Office said 51,699 votes were cast in the mayoral election. That means Green would have to acquire 12,925 signatures.

Green gave $400 to Shar Lichty’s campaign against Condon in 2015.

Green, who has served on supervisory boards at the Fox Theater and Spokane Symphony, said there was no partisan motivation for filing the recall petition.

“All I did was get the ball rolling,” he said.

The Spokane County Democrats issued a statement earlier this month requesting Condon resign. Chairman Jim CastroLang said the party would not push a recall but would support any effort to remove Condon from office.

Spokane voters last recalled a mayor in December 2005, when 65 percent of ballots cast were in favor of former Mayor Jim West’s removal from office. West is the only mayor to be recalled in Spokane.