Sunday, August 22, 2010

Mayoral Recall In New Berlin Not Needed

Readers of this blog know that I was appalled at the way New Berlin jettisoned a plan for affordable housing.

The episode set back regional cooperation and unleashed myths and fears about affordable housing, so I hope that federal authorities convince New Berlin to do its fair part in providing reasonably-priced rental housing for working people in a region where housing, racial, and economic discrimination are still realities.

That said, I was also appalled at the effort to recall New Berlin Jack Chiovatero for having initially supported the plan and having sent out an intemperate email aimed at critics of the plan who eventually helped persuade Chiovatero to abandon the plan altogether.

If some voters in New Berlin are that upset with their Mayor - - and apparently it is a number too small to get the required number of petition signatures to force a recall election - - then let them bring forth candidates in the next regularly-scheduled election and make the Mayor defend his actions and his entire record.

That's why we have elections, right on schedule.

Recall elections should be reserved to deal with incumbents who have committed truly egregious offenses - - legal, ethical and otherwise - - but we don't need a recall every time people get upset with one personality, public policy, program or politically-hot, even mishandled, plan.

And recall elections are expensive: few communities have the dollars needed to crank up the election machinery because some voters want to throw someone out of office.

I don't think Chiovatero handled himself or the affordable housing issue with the professionalism or savvy I'd have expected from a seasoned politician.

But that didn't justify a recall election, and I am glad that the effort, for now, appears to have run out of steam.

Forced elections that arise out of anger, or voter vindictiveness rather than from authentic misbehavior by incumbents are wasteful and counter-productive.

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