Monday, January 21, 2008

Recall Election "Did You Know"

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.

4 comments:

Scott Bowling said...

Recalling an elected official is something that should never be taken lightly or done without a tremendous amount of thought, and is always a measure of last resort due to the impact on the City and its many unforeseeable consequences, however, I believe it may be time for us Annapolitans to start considering a recall of Mayor Ellen Moyer. Her inability to effectively manage the City is clear and has been demonstrated time after time, and just when you think it can’t get worse, it always does…
1.How many more lawsuits can the City afford to defend and ultimately pay out on(Market House, Police Station, Firemans Pension, etc...)?

2.How many more people have to needlessly die before this Administration realizes there is a crime and drug problem, and actually starts implementing measures to correct them instead of simply talking about it?

3.How many citizens who come to express their frustrations before City Council will be rudely dismissed by the Mayor, as if they have no right to express their fears and concerns?

4.If a majority of our drug traffic and crime is occurring in or around the subsidized (section 8)and public housing communities in Annapolis, why are we avoiding communication with leaders like Eric Brown of HACA, Trudy McFall, Dennis Conti, and many others, who we should be working in partnership with to ensure accountability within HACA as well as safety to all residents.

5.I could continue, but I think most of you get the point …
Recalling the Mayor is a bold and frightful step, but serious problems require serious actions, and this may be our last hope.

No conclusion being drawn, just something for us all to consider.

Scott Bowling said...

Recalling an elected official is something that should never be taken lightly or done without a tremendous amount of thought, and is always a measure of last resort due to the impact on the City and its many unforeseeable consequences, however, I believe it may be time for us Annapolitans to start considering a recall of Mayor Ellen Moyer. Her inability to effectively manage the City is clear and has been demonstrated time after time, and just when you think it can’t get worse, it always does…
1.How many more lawsuits can the City afford to defend and ultimately pay out on(Market House, Police Station, Firemans Pension, etc...)?

2.How many more people have to needlessly die before this Administration realizes there is a crime and drug problem, and actually starts implementing measures to correct them instead of simply talking about it?

3.How many citizens who come to express their frustrations before City Council will be rudely dismissed by the Mayor, as if they have no right to express their fears and concerns?

4.If a majority of our drug traffic and crime is occurring in or around the subsidized (section 8)and public housing communities in Annapolis, why are we avoiding communication with leaders like Eric Brown of HACA, Trudy McFall, Dennis Conti, and many others, who we should be working in partnership with to ensure accountability within HACA as well as safety to all residents.

5.I could continue, but I think most of you get the point …
Recalling the Mayor is a bold and frightful step, but serious problems require serious actions, and this may be our last hope.

No conclusion being drawn, just something for us all to consider.

Peter said...

You are right recall is a serious thing, but there is a reason it is in the city charter. We have a Mayor that is not only unresponsive to citizen concerns but is outright hostile towards them/us. Starting a recall petition is not a serious issue, actually getting 30% of the eligible voters is.

John Lofton, Recovering Republican said...

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