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Date of Issue: June 23, 2010

Breiter to Barford: Never mind

Recall Harry Stoltzfus committee members Sissy Quinn, left, and Sandy Mattick on Pine Avenue in Anna Maria last week obtaining petition signatures. Islander Photo: Rick Catlin

Tom Breiter of Anna Maria’s Bayview Plaza management team has apologized to Mayor Fran Barford for asking her to tell political candidates and members of the Recall Stoltzfus Committee that the plaza is off-limits for campaigning.

Even before she received Breiter’s apology letter on June 15, Barford said she told Breiter that the issue “is between the (recall) committee and the plaza, not the city.”

Breiter’s first letter to Barford was sparked by an alleged incident between members of the recall committee and a member of the public while both were on Bayview Plaza property in front of the post office.

According to Breiter, federal statutes prohibit campaigning on post office property.

Breiter wanted the mayor to notify commissioners and future candidates that the plaza is private property and “is not intended for the self-promotion of any political candidate for election or for one trying to avoid recall.”

He also asked Barford to insert a notice about the plaza’s position into election packets for candidates seeking office, a request the mayor declined to consider.

“That’s not our problem,” she said then.

Breiter’s attorney has agreed.

“After talking with our attorney,” Breiter wrote to the mayor June 15, “I’ve been advised that the city of Anna Maria should not be involved in the legality of the postmaster’s decision. The recall committee needs to respond to this matter if they wish to pursue the issue.”

Recall Stoltzfus Committee Chair Robert Carter said this is an issue of free speech protected by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

“However, this detracts from our main focus, the recall effort,” Carter said.

Committee members will continue their efforts this week to obtain signatures to the recall petition, but not on Bayview Plaza property, he said.

The committee reported having about 120 signatures as of June 20, and has until Aug. 3 to obtain the required 204 signatures of registered, certified Anna Maria voters for the recall effort to proceed.

If they meet the required goal with the petition, the next step in the process will be to send the recall petition to Manatee County Circuit Court Judge Ed Nicholas, who will set a date for the special election.

However, there remains a motion pending with Nicholas for a hearing requested by Stoltzfus to halt the recall process.

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