Recall effort under way for mayor

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Petition filed Wednesday

By Martin Salazar

A notice of intent to recall Mayor Alfonso Ortiz was filed with the city clerk’s office late Wednesday, setting in motion a process that could lead to an election at which voters would decide whether to oust Ortiz before the expiration of his term.

The effort to remove Ortiz from office is led by longtime activist Lorenzo Flores, who has been critical of the mayor’s actions in the past.

Flores announced that he had filed the notice during the public input portion of Wednesday evening’s City Council meeting.

“I’ve come before you like David before Goliath,” Flores said. “... Enough is enough.”

“Let nature take its course,” Ortiz later responded, saying that Flores has a right to circulate the recall petition.

“As mayor of the city of Las Vegas, I’m not impressed with the title,” he said.

“There’s a lot of responsibilites. I have stretched myself physically; I’ve stretched myself financially to do as much as I can for the city. My interest is to be very visible, make the city look very positive.”

Flores didn’t specifically outline why he is targeting the mayor for recall during his remarks.

“The people have to do what they have to do,” he said in Spanish. “It’s nothing personal.”

City Attorney Dave Romero cut Flores off when he began talking about the mayor’s appointments and their connections to a hotel owner who Flores alleged is exploiting members of the community.

He said people in Las Vegas are struggling to pay their bills and getting cut-off notices. Flores said city government needs to help the people. He, along with his Brown Berets, left the Council chamber after speaking.

Flores didn’t immediately respond to a message left for him Thursday morning.

But in a letter to the editor published in the Optic in February, Flores criticized the mayor for his continued support of City Manager Timothy Dodge.

“Apparently, the mayor will not nor cannot function without Tim Dodge,” Flores wrote.

“We are not better off with Dodge at the helm,” Flores wrote. “Despite the mayor’s praise for him, Tim has divided our business community, he continues to blabber-mouth our chamber of commerce and the Las Vegas economic development people. He has done nothing for the over 3,000 at-risk youth in our city. He has done nothing for infrastructure improvements on the west side.”

The notice of intent to file a petition of recall has 30 signatures, including several people upset at the mayor for refusing the community rights ordinance that seeks to make it unlawful for any corporation to engage in the extraction of oil, natural gas or other hydrocarbons within the city and its watersheds.

Ortiz, who doesn’t have veto power, has refused to sign the controversial law, saying it’s unconstitutional because it seeks to strip corporations of their rights.

The mayor brought up that issue Wednesday night, reiterating that he opposes oil and gas drilling in the community but didn’t sign the ordinance because of the language in it.

Under the new city charter, 25 signatures are required on a notice of intent to initiate recall in order to start the process.

The first signature on the petition is that of Francisco Lorenzo Flores, and Mayor Ortiz asked the city attorney to explain why that’s problematic if the signature belongs to the Flores who appeared at the council.

Romero said Flores has previously been convicted, and as such, he isn’t a qualified elector under the city charter and isn’t allowed to sign the petition.

If 25 valid signatures are contained on the document, then the next step is for a recall petition to be submitted to the clerk for her approval as to form.

Organizers of the effort would then have 60 days to gather signatures. In order to force a recall election, organizers must gather enough signatures to equal or surpass 25 percent of the people who voted in the last regular city election.

If enough signatures are gathered, an election will be held, with voters deciding by a simple majority whether to recall or keep Ortiz.

Ortiz said he’s trying to do the best he can for the community, noting that he’s sacrificing time with his family to do the job.

“I’m not here for the money,” he said. “I’m not here for the $10,000 annual salary.”

He said he has worked hard to move the city forward on a number of issues, including trying to improve its water infrastructure.

“The reason we’re working so earnestly to help the people with this water issue, for example, is we’re looking ahead,” Ortiz said. “I’m really concerned about the situation with water. I’m saying without water we’re not going to survive.”