Judge errs; Dinosaur recall petition no good | CraigDailyPress.com

Judge errs; Dinosaur recall petition no good

Mayor Blakley to keep his seat on Town Council

Christina M. Currie

A blank line was all the difference needed to determine the future of Dinosaur Mayor Richard Blakley.

A line left blank on a petition to recall Blakley from office was originally counted as a signature and the petition was ruled sufficient in a Nov. 10 hearing. The error was brought to Rio Blanco County Court Judge Laurie Noble’s attention and she reversed her ruling Nov. 14. The petition to recall Blakley brought by former Town Council member Mike Christoff has been ruled insufficient because it lacked the necessary signatures.

“Nine signatures were removed from the initial 51 that were contained in the petition,” Noble’s statement reads. “Forty-two signatures remain, but this number fails to meet the required 25 percent of the participating electorate.”

Christoff needed signatures from at least 25 percent of the people who voted in the last election for the petition to be determined sufficient at least 43 signatures. The petition fell one signatrue short.

Christoff submitted the petition with 51 signatures, three of which interim town clerk Tamara Long determined were not registered voters. Six more signatures were removed by Noble during a protest hearing called by Blakley who said people were misled into signing the petition.

Fifty-two lines of the petition contained signatures, but one had been crossed off.

“The hearing officer inadvertently counted a signature that had been crossed off in the instant petition; the required signatures now fall short of the statutory prerequisite,” the amended ruling reads.

Noble apologized for the inconvenience the miscount caused. No action had been taken by the town to plan for a recall election.

“I am disappointed,” Christoff said. “I put a lot of time and energy into it. The problem was I didn’t hold the petition long enough because I got a little impatient.”

But it’s not over, according to Christoff.

Christoff is checking into the signatures originally declared insufficient by Long as not being registered voters. According to Christoff, two of the people removed said they were registered voters and had voted in the last election. Their names are included in the poll book from 1998, but not on the one for 1999, Christoff said. He is working with the Moffat County Clerk and Recorder Office to settle the matter.

Aside from that, Christoff is not sure what his next step will be. Blakley is up for re-election in April 2000 and said he seriously considers running.

“I’m not going to hide from Mr. Christoff and his little clique,” Blakley said.

Christoff said another recall may be too late, but plans to campaign heavily for any other candidate choosing to run. If Blakley is re-elected, Christoff will consider circulating another recall petition.

Christoff is also looking into circulating a petition to disincorporate the town of Dinosaur. Disincorporation would mean the Town Council would be disbanded and all decisions concerning the town would be made by the Moffat County Board of Commissioners.

“Maybe we’ll be better off. Who knows,” he said.

Blakley is just glad what he calls “personal attacks” are over.

“I’m going to try and move on,” he said. “I’d like to get the town back on track where it belongs.”

But Blakley is not over the issue and still feels bitter about Christoff’s attempt.

“Mr. Christoff is known to be a troublemaker,” Blakley said. “He doesn’t have one ounce of merit and I’ve got facts to back that up. As far as I’m concerned, he’s never going to be happy.”b