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Drive to recall Placer County Supervisor Kirk Uhler moves forward

By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
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Facing a fight for his political life, Placer County Supervisor Kirk Uhler used a budget meeting Wednesday to lash out at a Granite Bay group mounting a recall drive to remove him from office. Uhler described the Save Granite Bay group as a “splinter group” resorting to “random and pathetic cheap shots” in its attempt to unseat him. Will Ellis – a Granite Bay doctor and co-founder of Save Granite Bay – listened with a handful of other members of the group who attended Wednesday’s session and said afterward that the blistering attack was no shock. “What else did you expect?” Ellis asked. “But we’ve got an army of volunteers and we’re going to gather signatures every way we can.” Ellis also addressed the board during public comment period. Ellis said his organization represents more than 500 people concerned about the direction Uhler has taken the District 4 supervisor’s office and the future of the community in the face of a potential game-changing community plan update. Uhler said before a repudiation of the group that lasted several minutes that he had been served with a notice of the recall petition when he arrived at the county administrative center in Auburn before Wednesday’s morning session. Uhler was served with an intent to recall notice – the first step in a process that would task Save Granite Bay with coming up with nearly 8,000 names of registered voters on a petition to force a recall election. Ellis said a chief point with Save Granite Bay is the possible expenditure of $750,000 in county funds on a Granite Bay community plan revision that one survey said shows 70 percent of respondents don’t want. Uhler said he’s never stated in public or private that he supports the $750,000 expenditure. The petition accuses Uhler of ethical lapses and “intolerable” disregard for voters who elected him. The intent to recall petition touches on several issues Uhler has been embroiled in over the last four years. They include allegations by Save Granite Bay that Uhler favors developers over District 4 residents, and voted for “outlandish” executive pay while cutting rank-and-file service workers and closing the Granite Bay Sheriff’s substation, . The petition brings up past issues that include what Save Granite Bay calls questionable county contracts with Solar Power Inc. while Uhler was an executive there and a move by the county to hire Uhler’s wife last year to an unadvertised managerial post. Uhler has consistently denied any wrongdoing or involvement. Uhler’s lengthy attack on Save Granite Bay centered on statements made on the group’s website that he said were blatantly false. They included an accusation that he holds 200,000 shares in Solar Power Inc. stock. Uhler said he had options to buy that amount as a founding member of the company but let them lapse last March without exercising any options to buy. Ellis said some of the information on the website had been posted by people who, in their excitement, may have said some things that could be taken out of context or slightly exaggerated. But he added that there were also numerous instances of questionable behavior that should be addressed in a recall drive.