Mat-Su politicians file suit to toss out recall petitions

Posted: Wednesday, December 05, 2001

ANCHORAGE (AP) -- The Matanuska-Susitna Borough mayor and an assemblywoman filed suit Monday asking that recall petitions against them be declared invalid.

Mayor Tim Anderson and Assemblywoman Kelly Ladere said the recall claims are too vague. In a suit filed in Palmer Superior Court, they said Superior Court Judge Peter Mihalski cited similar reasons when he dismissed a recall last month against Mat-Su Assemblyman Jim Colver.

The claims made in all three recalls are nearly identical: that the borough officials illegally made decisions in a closed-door meeting in March about a proposed ski area at Hatcher Pass and withheld from the public an appraisal of a Hatcher Pass land lease, which the borough later purchased.

In the earlier ruling, Mihalski said the recall petitions needed more details about what decisions were made and whether Colver had been asked for a copy of the appraisal.

The people pushing the recalls say they aren't ready to concede.

Jim Turner, whose group Citizens to Restore Open and Honest Government filed the recall against Anderson, and whose wife, Cheryl, launched the recall against Colver, called Judge Mihalski a ''loose cannon.'' He said the decision to throw out the Colver recall was flawed.

''We don't think they have a strong case even though they won the first one,'' he said.

Turner said his group may seek to intervene in the latest lawsuit.

Recall supporters say they're fighting to make borough officials take responsibility for their ''misconduct.'' Turner noted Superior Court Judge Eric Smith had ruled the closed-door meeting about Hatcher Pass last March was held illegally.

''The law was broken, and nobody has been held accountable,'' Turner said.

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