I remember -- but do I recall?
As much as I have been throwing “caution to the wind” as I write on many issues, this will not be the case with the issue of the proposed recall of Councilmembers Drew Glover and Chris Krohn.
One of the main sources of my mixed feelings is the fact that I was the target of a recall petition back in 1989, several months after I was first elected to the Santa Cruz City Council. The primary basis for that recall was my vote not to extend an invitation to the US Navy to send a ship to our city for the July 4th holiday unless they were prepared to meet some conditions/standards set by the local community. My opponents wanted an unconditional invitation. To add additional fuel to the fire, I co-signed a silly greeting card that was directed to a pro-navy ship political adversary – and deemed by the local media as “obscene” – that made its way into the public view. (The obscenity was an old person extending her middle finger to the card recipient.) It was a stupid decision on my part to sign the card... one which I public and privately apologized for. It was the beginning of a long career in trying to avoid saying/doing stupid things!
Fortunately, that recall group failed to secure enough signatures—but the experience left a mark on me. I realized that the “recall tool” that voters have can be used injudiciously.
On the other hand, I have been observing the current city council fairly closely over the past many months and have to agree with the sentiment that things are not going well there. I do have fairly strong concerns about how Krohn and Glover have approached their city council jobs. I think they have made some real mistakes. However, they don’t appear to me to have done anything that is a violation of their oath of office or a violation of the law. And much of what they have done is in alignment with the values they articulated as candidates. Even the recent report on their behavioral lapses shows both that they probably did something modestly inappropriate but did nothing that makes them unqualified to continue in office.
So here’s my wishy-washy conclusion: I don’t support the idea of using the recall process to remove them from office and I do support putting pressure on them to make some real adjustments to their approach to serving our community. Perhaps the threat of the recall will do that. (Unfortunately, there is some reason to conclude it will do the opposite and everyone – from all sides – will dig in to their positions and treat the other as an unreasonable opponent/enemy.)
Another local pundit has celebrated the recall as an opportunity to push the “pause” button. However, I don’t sense the recall has paused any of the turmoil or partisanship or division that plagues our local political community. I look forward to a more effective “pause” that this.
PS- I suspect the recall group will not be able to obtain the necessary signatures to place a recall before the voters. When (if?) their effort fails, they will have bolstered the position of their targets: they can claim that the failure of the recall proves that they have community support. I wouldn’t agree with that claim but I wouldn’t fault them for making it.
PPS- There has been some public speculation about what the late Scott Kennedy might have thought about this recall. Though I was close to Scott Kennedy as a political colleague and friend, I have no idea what he would have said about this recall had he been alive to observe it. On the other hand, I’m pretty sure it would have been very funny and perhaps a bit snarky!