Albemarle Clerk of Court Debbie Shipp explains to reporters the recall process, which rarely-- if ever-- happens in Virginia.
Meanwhile, Supervisor Dumler makes the cover of the latest issue of "Crime Times."
In the latest episode of the scandal-plagued, sexual-battery-pleading, jail-time-serving Supervisor Chris Dumler saga, one of his constituents takes 584 signatures to Albemarle Circuit Court to ask a judge to remove Dumler from the Board of Supervisors, a request pretty much unprecedented in Virginia.
Keene resident Earl Smith presented his petitions to the Albemarle clerk of circuit court Tuesday morning, March 26, with a handful of reporters in tow. Before handing them over, he still urged Dumler to "admit what you did was wrong," and advised, "People are very forgiving; they like the underdog."
For Albemarle Clerk Debbie Shipp, Smith's petition for removal of an elected official is the first in her 37 years at the courthouse. "This is brand new," says Shipp. She's been readying for the petitions, and checked with her counterpart in Chesterfield, the jurisdiction that came closest to removing an elected official.
That was the 2006 case of another Democratic rising star, Midlothian Supervisor Ed Barber, who was arrested for two felonies and pleaded guilty to two misdemeanor counts of sexual assault for inappropriately touching his then-16-year-old stepdaughter. Barber refused to resign from the Chesterfield Board of Supervisors, and there was talk of a recall petition. Barber resigned before that happened.
"Why wasn't the law changed in 2006?" asks Smith, a district manager for Kohr Brothers. "Shame on those legislators."
Shipp will put the petition before Judge Cheryl Higgins, who will direct the county registrar to verify that the signatures are Scottsville district registered voters, explains Shipp.
Virginia code pertaining to the removal of an alleged official is much more concerned with pot-smokers than sexual batterers. It calls for signatures of 10 percent of those voting in the district in 2009– 372 signatures– and says a circuit court may remove an official when neglect in the performance of duties "has a material adverse effect upon the conduct of the office..."
But no one can cite a circuit court judge actually doing that in Virginia.
Smith is convinced that the list of adverse effects he's been documenting, from Dumler recusing himself on the Keene landfill votes to being stripped of committee assignments by the Board of Supervisors, will be enough to oust the 27-year-old from the board.
Once the signatures are verified, "We have to serve Chris with the petition," says Shipp, "and the court will set a hearing date."