"She has the machinery and the money to win," Mayor Alvarez offered recently on The Jim DeFede Show on WINZ-AM (940). "She has been at it a long time."
Recall leader Pat Wade admits the group's effort is a long shot. Alvarez's public endorsement of the recall will help the PAC gain ground. "Let's face it, we're just a rag-tag group with no money," Wade concedes. "With the mayor being so popular and so visible, it can only help us."
The people Seijas despises: (clockwise from top left) Elisa Tourino, Michael Pizzi, Hank Hamilton, John Wade, Ann Cates, Pat Wade, Luis Sanchez, and Nilka Gomez
Interestingly Wade did not vote for Alvarez in 2004. "I had visions of a police state. He came across as a cold guy. But I was wrong." Wade and her husband will also vote and campaign for Alvarez's strong-mayor proposal. "Sure, we could get some son of a bitch in there," Wade says. "But when the whole county can vote him out of office, it makes the idea very attractive. We can have one person accountable to everyone."
Meanwhile the county commission has taken steps to make it more difficult for citizens to mount petitions against the county commission in the future. This past November 28, commissioners approved a new ordinance that would impose 60-day jail sentences and $500 fines against people who deliberately mislead others when encouraging them to sign. Of course, the ordinance will be hard to enforce, according to County Attorney Murray Greenberg. "It will be difficult to prove that someone's statement was both misleading and intentional," Greenberg said.
A companion measure makes petition drives even tougher by allowing only one signature per page and allowing signers to later withdraw their Hancocks. Thankfully Mayor Alvarez is considering a veto of both ordinances because they will make petition drives impossible.
Even if Alvarez vetoes, the county commission will most likely override it. And Commissioner José "Pepe" Diaz, who drafted the new law, is planning on introducing a third bill that would allow only registered voters to circulate petitions and collect signatures.
"I'm surprised they don't have us lugging around a typewriter so we can print people's names," Pat Wade cracks. "But I'm sure they thought of it."