Last week, the Poway City Council asked one of its members to resign, but she refused, and now a local resident has begun an effort to recall her.
Four members of the Poway City Council asked Councilwoman Betty Rexford to resign after a settlement in a lawsuit that claimed she used her influence to interfere with construction on her neighbor's property, the North County Times reported.
Council members announced the $360,000 settlement and made the request to Rexford after a closed session on Aug. 20. Rexford, who is in Las Vegas visiting her critically ill son, listened to the meeting by phone and said she would not step down.
Rexford, who is up for re-election next year, defended herself this week, sending a letter to the News Chieftain newspaper.
"I think it is important for the public to know that the amount of the settlement was based upon a reimbursement of the plaintiff’s legal fees, which I understand were approximately $364,000 prior to the settlement. There was no payment for damages," Rexford wrote. "Furthermore, the attorney litigating in behalf of the City has told me that there was no evidence presented to establish that I was at fault. Although the judge found that the case should not be thrown out and the plaintiffs should be allowed to have their day in court, there never was a finding of guilt or impropriety on my part or the part of any City employee."
On Thursday, a letter of intent to recall Rexford was served to the embattled Councilwoman in Las Vegas, reported the Pomerado Newspaper Group. That effort is being spearheaded by Steve Vaus, a longtime Poway resident and recording artist who has been nominated twice for Grammy Awards, according to the news group.
"This is a case where all indications are someone crossed such a well-defined line that, as a local citizen, I can't sit back and ignore it," Vaus told the local paper.
The lawsuit was filed in 2007 by Rexford's neighbors Allen and Dawn Basile and Nathan and Rachel Cannon, the North County Times reported. The suit named Rexford, her husband, Paul, the city and former Development Services Director Niall Fritz as defendants. The homeowners claim Rexford made numerous complaints about their projects and pressured Fritz to interfere with their construction plans.
Vaus would still need to pass several legal hurdles to get the recall on a ballot, including collecting a minimum of 5,657 registered voters’ signatures for a recall petition, the newspaper group's Web site reported.