Disgruntled North Florida citizen pushes recall election of state officials

"When we have legislators that don't believe in evolution passing judgments on biology classes, we have what I view as incompetence in office," he said when asked what particular action of the state government in recent times was an example of why Florida citizens should have the right to recall their publicly elected officials. But he added it wasn't any single issue that compelled him to call on people to join him.

(In 2009, GOP state Sen. Stephen Wise failed to pass a bill that would have required intelligent design to be taught in public schools. He attempted to bring the bill back during last year's session with no success).

In order for Florida voters to recall their elected officials, such a law would need to be implemented by the Legislature or approved via the voters by a constitutional amendment.

To get such a measure on the ballot takes a lot of resources, financial as well as people power. (To get a measure on the ballot requires over 676,000 signatures). Roger Thomas says he doesn't have that capability, but says that his website is simply a vehicle to show Florida lawmakers the popular support for such a law.

"I'm serving politicians awareness that they aren't free to abuse the electorate. I'm asking people across the board to get involved, " he says.

Thomas is a huge critic of Governor Rick Scott, and is a member of the Duval County Democratic Executive Committee. But he says he hopes to make common cause with Tea Party types nevertheless. "I would think that everybody would recognize that, 'Hey, we occasionally make mistakes when we vote.' If you have an ego where you can't admit you made a mistake, there's a problem."

Nineteen states currently allow the recall of state officials.

Thomas, a former aviation officer with the Navy and later a commercial airline pilot, says simply, "People in this state - I can't believe they're not up in arms."

It's not hard to imagine Floridians wanting to recall somebody in state government. Governor Rick Scott's political approval ratings as of last month plummeted to 26 percent, according to a Public Policy Polling survey. And the Florida GOP-dominated Legislature's ratings were just as moribund; Just 27 percent of 1,196 registered voters surveyed last May said they approved of the work the Legislature did during the session. 56 percent said they disapproved.

Last year St. Petersburg House Democrat Rick Kriseman floated a bill that would allow Floridians, if so inclined, to recall elected officials in the state, beginning with the governor and lieutenant governor, as well as cabinet members and members of the legislature.

In the GOP-controlled Senate and House, however, his proposal went nowhere. He is sponsoring a similar bill this year.

Now a Jacksonville man is trying to his own grass-roots effort to get the conversation started.

Roger Thomas, 65, started an online petition through SignOn.org a week ago, and has collected nearly 20,00 signatures since creating it. MoveOn.org, the progressive political network, sponsors SignOn.org.

In a conversation with CL on Wednesday, the registered Democrat said that years of disgust with government prompted him to create the petition site.

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