Critics of Lake County Sheriff Frank Rivero have taken a holiday from gathering signatures aimed at ousting the controversial lawman in a recall election.
They'd planned to submit the signatures to the elections office before the long July 4 weekend but soaring temperatures stymied the volunteer work, said Lake County Supervisor Rob Brown, Rivero's most vocal opponent and the target of a recall effort by Rivero supporters.
"Right now we've suspended efforts til the heat wave gives way," Brown said.
Rivero scoffed at the assertion.
"Give me a break. I think it means they can't get the people to agree with them," said the sheriff, who has been battling county and city officials — in and out of court — since before taking office in 2011.
The Rivero recall group has until Aug. 15 to collect the signatures of at least 7,026 registered voters, but organizers said they want to submit them early in hopes of getting the recall onto the November ballot. That goal remains within the realm of possibility but it is slipping away the longer it takes to obtain necessary signatures.
Brown said the group has more than 7,000 signatures but wants to submit about 9,000 to compensate for signatures that might be rejected by the elections office. The signatures must belong to registered voters and the information they provide must match what's on file in the elections office.
The elections office has up to 30 days to validate the signatures, officials said. County supervisors must vote to place the recall on the ballot no later than their Aug. 6 meeting to make the November ballot.
Elections officials said they cannot predict how long it will take to check the signatures.
A special election, with an estimated cost of $93,000, will be scheduled if the earlier goal is not met, elections officials said.
Brown said it will be worth the cost because Rivero has generated multiple legal actions, both by and against him.
"This guy spends more time in court than Lindsay Lohan," Brown said.
Brown claims Rivero's polarizing actions have cost the county nearly $750,000, including $250,000 paid to Sheriff's Office employees who challenged being terminated by Rivero.
Rivero also has been sued by a local newspaper for allegedly withholding information and the Lakeport Police Department for cutting off access to computerized police information. He's also clashed with the Clearlake Police Department and the District Attorney, who has investigated Rivero for several incidents and has deemed him an unreliable court witness for allegedly being untruthful.
The recall petition against Rivero claims he's been unethical, dishonest and alienated "every law enforcement agency in the county as well as the entire board of supervisors," which in March asked for his resignation.
Rivero says he's neither daunted nor surprised.
He's accused the county of having a widespread culture of corruption, an accusation that was part of his 2010 campaign for office. He also raised allegations of mismanagement and racism in the Sheriff's Office when he was a deputy.
Rivero has accused Brown of being a part of an "old boy" network that is upset by his attempts to make changes for the better.
It's time to "get rid of this corrupt political system," he said.
The recall petition against Brown contends that Brown bases actions on personal interests and vendettas and that he is rude and overbearing toward citizens.
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