Recall Mayor Van Johonson.
Citizens of Savannah and Savannah City Council.
We write to you as active citizens of our city for which we care deeply and support in a broad variety of ways.
The City Charter calls upon the Mayor to govern well, maintain order, and enforce laws. We understand and empathize with the challenges of the times, but the choices and public decisions that the mayor has made, some of which are contestably illegal or unconstitutional, are disturbing.
Mayor Van Johnson routinely demonstrates shameful patterns of degrading communication, most markedly via his official Facebook page. He consistently pits sectors of the city against one another. He uses social media to inflame and cause fear amongst his constituents and also those in the surrounding areas. These behaviors run contrary to the expectations of a mayor. When Mayor Van Johnson selectively disregards or ridicules large sections of his constituency to push his personal agendas, derived from his parties influence, he further brings to question upon all of his public and private dealings, and the transparency of motives behind each “initiative”.
We the People have identified several actions that are contrary to the role of a mayor and begin to highlight both overreach and abuse of power.
1. On June 9th, Mayor Van Johnson announced that the Savannah Police Department was in compliance with “8 Can’t Wait.” This specific campaign for the re-framing of police conduct is actually part of a strategic, tiered agenda for complete police abolition and is distinctly anti-military. Support of this particular program was a rapid and highly political move contrary to Savannah’s long term plan.
2. On June 18th, “Mayor Johnson’s Faith Leader’s Task Force” of select churches recommended a church “re-opening” plan. This was despite being three weeks after Governor Brian Kemp’s Executive Order ending; several church had already begun meeting on their properties again. He directly pitted city churches against one another with his military-termed group, stimulating a culture of intimidation.
3. On June 30th, 2020, Mayor Van Johnson “masked” his overreach of power by invoking the emergency orders provisions to order mandatory mask use within the Savannah City limits despite it being beyond the scope of the Governor’s liberty-minded order. Mayor Johnson would rather the police department neglect their duties and reprioritize their responsibilities to uphold his mask law. He has bullied the police department and levied relationships to join him and distribute masks around the community and/or write a steep $500 citation. The mask order is both unsafe for citizens in these 100+ heat indexes and patently unenforceable with the current police force’s capabilities and priorities. This mandate is a waste of city resources when revenue is short $3 million, a number Alderman Nick Palumbo recently stated.
4. Mayor Van Johnson implemented “Savannah Safe” where businesses can pledge to comply with all of the orders and suggestions he implemented. These businesses who agree to comply would be placed on a list where he encourages Savannah residents to look before they shop or eat out. Businesses are called out publicly when not in compliance with the voluntary compliance. This results in businesses feeling pressured, obligated and sometimes threatened to sign up so their business isn’t targeted and remains successful. It is not the Governments job to mandate responsibility, using a pledge attached to a narrative that drives the quality of life down the drain for the lives of everyday citizens shouldn’t be tolerated. Businesses from downtown to the Islands and out to Pooler are suffering.
There are countless examples of Mayor Van Johnson’s disregard for the rule of order: open threats, promoting the targeting (doxxing) of businesses, exposure of law enforcement personnel, and suppression of citizen free speech engagement within his official government forums. On July 4th, Mayor Van Johnson directly requested that a citizen publicly name an officer not wearing a mask while on duty. She swiftly did so. On July 12th, a concerned citizen mentioned her concern with the city easing into martial law. Mayor Van Johnson simply replied with “Watch us…” He verbally manipulates the optics on the mask mandate saying it is not about ‘force,’ it is about ‘compliance,’ but everything about the order involves a wielding of power to cause citizens to submit, which is, to any educated person, a near and present force. To a local citizen on July 12th, he said ‘He doesn’t need validation’ and then proceeded to treat him with disregard because he lived in Rincon. The Mayor has hundreds of adoring people who follow his government official page from across the state, and welcomes them. Yet, when someone who has a direct vested interest in the city just outside the city limits present a critical comment, he treats them with utmost disregard and insult. This is an abuse of power to suppress free speech.
Finally, in his official duty of presiding over the City Council, he has failed to act with proper agility in re-opening meetings to the critical and traditional public voice. Because of this, his words and actions are rarely checked, nor are those of the Council. The Zoom comments of the public are rarely referenced during the meeting. Virtual structure and public disregard is leading to a progressive degradation of democratic principles in our city. All of the virus conditions can be immediately overcome to return these principles to our city, but he chooses not to do so.
Recalls can be divisive, but are sometimes necessary to restore balance and trust among elected leadership.
This is not our official recall; that will be coming. This is to inform citizens of a carefully gathered and closely observed account of the mayor’s leadership.
Please only sign this petition if you are a resident of incorporated Savannah and will potentially support the recall of Mayor Van Johnson based on these general grounds.
24,175 citizens voted in the runoff election. An official recall petition would require 3627 signatures. Former Mayor Deloach himself received over 9,000 votes.
What happens when I sign
07/16/20 12:22:52 am
Good evening Savannah -
We will post facts about over reach as petition updates.
We were contacted today about a federal lawsuit against Mayor Van Johnson over 1st Amendment Rights violations.
See for yourself.