Recall Shasta’s Hail Mary Pass Falls Short: Judge Denies Extension

There’s a reason hucking a football 70 yards downfield toward a dozen teammates and opponents jockeying for position in the end zone is called a “hail Mary pass.”

Only 10 percent of such passes are completed in the NFL, and if saying a little prayer will help guide the pigskin into the right calloused hands 10 percent of the time, quarterbacks will take all the help they can get.

Recall Shasta and the Shasta County General Purpose Committee faced similar odds Tuesday in Shasta County Superior Court when they sought to extend the 120-day limit for collecting local recall petition signatures by 32 days, allegedly because smoke from this summer’s wildfires hindered their signature gathering efforts.

Legally, as will be explained shortly, that’s a heavy lift. It’s possible recall attorney Chad Morgan was unaware that his clients, Recall Shasta and the Shasta County General Purpose Committee, represent the local vanguard of a protofascist, anti-mask, anti-vax COVID-19 death cult in Shasta County.

Recall Shasta attorney Chad Morgan takes a seat inside the courtroom Tuesday.

Nevertheless, the attorney demonstrated a demonic sense of irony when he stated in the ex parte request for a writ of mandate that because of the wildfires “the effect of the evacuations and poor air quality was comparable to the closure orders during the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

That’s one helluva hail Mary you’re winding up for, Chad. Hope you don’t have a rubber arm.

The stakes couldn’t be higher for the two groups seeking to recall Shasta County Supervisors Joe Chimenti, Leonard Moty and Mary Rickert. The recallers falsely allege that the three supervisors kowtowed to Gov. Gavin Newsom’s COVID-19 executive orders and misspent pandemic relief funds.

Apparently, despite previous boasts to the contrary, in the 120 days allotted, the recallers have failed to gather the number of signatures required to recall any of the three supervisors.

That’s why they went for the hail Mary. Unfortunately, the ball squirted out of their hands and fluttered like a wounded, wobbling duck across the courtroom, landing with a dull quack in front of the transcriber’s desk.

Judge Tamara L. Wood was not impressed.

“Based upon this record,” she said, “the court concludes that the petitioners have failed to establish the fires or the smoke resulting from the fires unconstitutionally infringed upon their constitutional recall rights in consideration of the application of the 120-day deadline. Therefore, the court renders judgement in favor of the respondent.”

That respondent would be we the people rejecting the fascist recall movement. But if you’re on the losing team, the fascist team, it’s time to move the goal posts.

No better way to do that than with a last-minute ex parte writ of mandate request, generally reserved for family law cases, but sometimes used by right-wing nutjobs to clog up courts with absurd arguments.

In this case, it’s recall attorney Chad Morgan lobbing the long bomb, not at some deadbeat dad but at the highly respected Shasta County Voters Registrar Cathy Darling Allen.

An air quality index advisory is the same as a COVID-19 shelter in place order, Morgan argues. But the court finds that such an advisory is not the equivalent to a governmental order, such as an order to shelter in place.

The judge found no evidence of school closures, business closures, or government or private facility closures caused by wildfire smoke and the elevated air quality index.

It was a huge win for opponents of the fascist recall movement. You could hear defeat in Recall Shasta head Elissa McEuen’s curt “no comment” when asked if she intended to appeal the judge’s decision as she stiffly walked out of the courtroom, dressed in black right down to her high-heeled shoes.

For all intents and purposes, Shasta County’s far-right-wing recall movement is kaput. Our year-long nightmare of civil unrest, blood in the streets and national embarrassment may be finally coming to an end.

How solid is this victory?

Let’s flashback to the start of the proceeding, where Morgan, representing the petitioners, and attorney Christopher Pisano, representing the respondents, e.g. Cathy Darling Allen and the civilized citizens of Shasta County, put forth their cases to Judge Wood.

It was up to Morgan to present the case that the recall petition drive effort was hindered by this summer’s wildfires.

Yet as Pisano pointed out, the petitioners didn’t provide the court with the number of signatures they’ve gathered so far, making a quantitative analysis of the signature gathering rate before and after the fires impossible.

Attorneys Christopher Pisano, left, and Chad Morgan state their cases before Shasta County Superior Court Judge Tamara L. Wood Tuesday morning.

Instead, Morgan offered qualitative statements made by various recall proponents describing the residents of smoke-shrouded Shasta County reeling from “melancholy and trepidation.”

This reporter, with the help of members from the Thought You Should Know Shasta County Facebook page, was able to document that Recall Shasta and the Shasta County General Purpose Committee have conducted recall petition drives virtually nonstop during this summer’s fire season.

The evidence is overwhelming: The smoke from wildfires didn’t slow their efforts in the slightest.

Respondent attorney Pisano asked if the recall petition collection efforts have been delayed, why didn’t the recall petitioners tell the court the total number of signatures they’ve gathered so far? That way, the number of signatures gathered before the wildfires could be compared to the signatures gathered before and after smoke inundated the region.

Judge Wood concurred:

“A significant fact in the court’s view is that petitioner presented no evidence whatsoever of the number of signatures that they have been able to collect to date in total or for relevant districts. Petitioners did not provide any reliable information on the pre-fire circulation results and the post-fire circulation results.”

Judge Wood also demolished the recallers’ claims that the air quality index advisories issued by Shasta County were the same as state COVID shelter in place orders.

“The actual evidence shows there was no such formal order, rather the county issues air quality advisories are just that,” the judge said. “The court finds that such an advisory is not the equivalent to a governmental order, such as an order to shelter in place.”

“Finally, there is no evidence presented to the court that the subject districts at issue here were subject to school closures, business closures, or government or private facility closures,” the judge concluded.

It was a crushing defeat for the recall movement. A win is a win, and make no mistake, the forces of evil in Shasta County just got their asses kicked.

Attorney Chad Morgan leaves the courthouse with Recall Shasta head Elissa McEuen as a Red, White and Blueprint videographer follows along with his camera. Photo by Doni Chamberlain.

Nevertheless, the wildfire smoke, the current high COVID-19 infection rate, the continuing persistence of half of our community denying climate change and modern medicine doesn’t necessarily imbue one with a sense of hope for the future.

But right now, let’s take the win.


9/29/2021 update: Click here to see Shasta Forward’s press release posted after this story’s publication.

R.V. Scheide

R.V. Scheide is an award-winning journalist who has covered news, politics, music, arts and culture in Northern California for more than 30 years. His work has appeared in the Tenderloin Times, Sacramento News & Review, Reno News & Review, Chico News & Review, North Bay Bohemian, San Jose Metro, SF Bay Guardian, SF Weekly, Alternet, Boston Phoenix, Creative Loafing and Counterpunch, among many other publications. His honors include winning the California Newspaper Publishers Association’s Freedom of Information Act and best columnist awards as well as best commentary from the Society of Professional Journalists, California chapter. Mr. Scheide welcomes your comments and story tips. Contact him at RVScheide@anewscafe.com..

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