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In Re Petition For Removal of Bower

DECEMBER 30, 1967.

IN RE PETITION FOR REMOVAL OF FRANK BOWER, JERRY D. BLACK, BERNARD EDWARDS, FORREST BUNTING, AND JOHN GINDER, OBJECTORS-APPELLANTS.


Appeal from the Circuit Court of Richland County; the Hon. CHARLES E. JONES, Judge, presiding. Decree affirmed.

MORAN, J.

Rehearing denied February 2, 1968.

Objectors appeal from a decree of the Circuit Court of Richland County upholding the sufficiency of five petitions for recall filed pursuant to Division 7, Article 4 of the Illinois Municipal Code.

Section 4-7-1, chapter 24, Illinois Revised Statutes, 1965, relating to the removal of officers in commission from municipalities provides:

"Every incumbent of an elective office, under this article, except a judicial officer and an officer of a court, whether elected by a popular vote or appointed to fill a vacancy, is subject to removal at any time by the electors qualified to vote for members of the council. The procedure to effect the removal of an incumbent of such an office shall be as prescribed in Sections 4-7-1 through 4-7-5."

The initial procedure to effect this removal is provided in section 4-7-2 of the statute and requires the filing, with the municipal clerk, of a petition signed by electors amounting to at least 45% of the number of votes cast for Mayor at the last preceding general quadrennial municipal election. This subsection of the statute also provides that the petition "shall contain a general statement, of not more than 200 words, of the reasons for which the removal is sought."

Separate petitions were filed in the office of Kathryn Flanders, City Clerk, on September 14, 1966, demanding an election on the question of removal from office of Mayor Frank Bower and Commissioners Jerry D. Black, Bernard Edwards, Forrest Bunting and John Ginder. No charges of malfeasance or misfeasance in office were made and the reasons for seeking the election were identical on each petition and are as follows:

"1. Refusal to permit electors of Olney to vote on an ordinance for the issue of waterworks revenue bonds and the proposed lake and other construction mentioned in the ordinance, (Ordinances 66-21 and 66-26), in spite of repeated petitions by the electors.

"2. Willingness to impose on the people who use water and sewer in Olney high rates which are unnecessary and which impose hardship on residents with low and fixed incomes.

"3. Willingness to disregard expressed wishes of more than 1,500 persons to save Bird Haven in its natural state.

"4. Efforts to relocate the city dump to land near the west edge of Olney directly north of Route 250 where it will be a nuisance to residents in the western part of Olney and a pollution hazard to Fox Creek."

Within the five days allowed by chapter 24, section 4-7-4 of the statute, identical objections were filed attacking the validity of the petitions and the petitions and objections thereto were consolidated for hearing in the Circuit Court of Richland County and for purposes of this appeal. It was stipulated that for the purpose of the hearing, the evidence presented as to the petition regarding Mayor Frank Bower and the court's ruling thereon would be the same on the remaining four petitions if the same issues were raised and evidence presented thereon. It was further stipulated that the number of signatures required on each of the petitions was 1,458.

The original petition against Mayor Frank Bower consisted of 115 sheets containing thereon 1,710 signatures. The original petition against Commissioner Jerry D. Black consisted of 117 pages containing thereon 1,723 signatures. The original petition against Commissioner Bernard Edwards consisted of 115 pages containing thereon 1,708 signatures. The original petition against Commissioner Forrest Bunting consisted of 115 pages containing thereon 1,679 signatures. The original petition against Commissioner John Ginder consisted of 116 pages containing thereon 1,744 signatures.

Appellants first contend that the general statements of the reasons for which the removals are sought are insufficient because they do not charge acts or failure to act, which constitute misfeasance, malfeasance or nonfeasance in office. The Act does not specifically require that the recall be based upon misconduct in office. There are no Illinois decisions construing the ...


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