When I was driving the other day, I saw a bumper sticker that said "MoyerMustGo.org". I had not heard of such an 'org' before, and I must admit a bit of embarrassment that such an internet-based political journal was outside the purview of my internet-based political journalistic expertise.
To my glorious disappointment, the site no longer exists. Nevertheless, I have anticipated the following question to be asked more and more: What can we do about Mayor Moyer?
There is an answer. Article II, section 9 of the city charter provides for the removal of elected officials via a recall election, much like the fate suffered by former California Governor Gray Davis (who was replaced by Arnold). The charter says the city council should figure out the details of the recall process, which is done in Chapter 4.46 of the code.
The first thing that needs to happen is a petition. The code provides very detailed requirements for a valid recall petition, including specifications for paper type, font, language, and enumeration of reasons for the recall. If the petition is signed by more than 30% of people who were qualified to vote (not registered voters) in a ward (Alderman) or the entire city (Mayor), then you have yourself a referendum election. The question on the referendum ballot is "Should the Mayor/Alderman be removed from office", and is subject to a simple majority. If it passes, the city council must pass a resolution declaring a vacancy within 10 days of the election.
So what happens next? It depends on the timing. If the removal occurs less than 15 months prior to the next election, the central committee of the political party that held the seat can appoint a new mayor/alderman. (This would apply after July of this year). If the general election is more than 15 months away, there is a special election. The removed official cannot be restored to office through the central committee process, but is not disqualified from running in the special election.
So, is this appropriate? Ehh, I really don't know. I see the Mayor as the ultimate lame duck. She has been on the city council forever, and doesn't face reelection. To me, she seems only concerned with leaving her mark (environmental measures), furthering her pet projects (sister cities), and rewarding the people who helped her get to where she is (Malinoff, Miron). She seems genuinely annoyed that citizens would have concerns that she has to address. This is truly how I view the Mayor right now--doing just enough to avoid being recalled.
I generally view recalls as severe and counterproductive. With Governor O'Malley as the exception, I do not think you should recall an elected official for the purpose of reversing a particular policy. However, the recall provision is meant to guarantee accountability, which is precisely the deficiency in the Mayor's leadership. Citizens have repeatedly offered their suggestions and demands, only to be met with directives to become more involved in neighborhood watch. If the Mayor was truly concerned, there would be an emergency session of the city council with emergency spending measures, and the Segways and horses would be on the streets tomorrow. Of course, that's if she really thinks these things would work.
If I'm honest, I was trying to think of reasons to oppose a recall election, but I find I cannot think of any.