Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Another Knuckleheaded Recall

In a country that as of late has gone absolutely recall-happy, today I found out that State Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Detroit) is facing the potential of a recall because she opposed the construction of a second bridge to Canada and has voted to turn Cobo Hall over to a regional authority. Interestingly enough, it turns out that the effort isn't being spearheaded by a constituent, but rather Adolph Mongo, a name longtime associated with Detroit city politics. Mongo is apparently working on behalf of Matty Moroun, the owner Ambassador Bridge, and the man who wants to build another bridge right next to it.

Tlaib has come out publicly stating she supports a second bridge - one that would be built 1/4 of a mile away and would end in the Delray district (one of the poorest neighborhoods in the country). The Detroit River International Crossing, or DRIC, would be publicly owned, built, and operated, and would extend into Delray section of Detroit.

What's even worse is the fact that Moroun wants to build his bridge without environmental impact studies and does not have proper permits to begin construction. Tlaib feels (rightfully so) that the negatives of putting a second bridge next to the Ambassador Bridge warrant more discussion than they've received. Even the Canadian government is opposed to it. But that hasn't stopped Moroun from already constructing the ramp.

Perhaps maybe now is the time for people to take another look at the ways and means in which we seek to recall elected officials. Recalls were born out of the progressive era when constituents before had little or no means to punish elected officials other than waiting around until the next election. For some, that waiting could be as little as under two years. For some, it could take close to six years if such person were a sitting US Senator. The point of recalls were to remove those from office who had committed some act or acts of malfeasance. If your elected official, be it from alderman to governor, remained in office for some significant period of time, they still had opportunity to further break the public trust until ousted. It wasn't a guarantee either that a sitting legislator or executive would be removed by his/her peers, no matter how many smoking guns were found.

Nonetheless, In the time since 2000, multiple recall efforts have been made against both prominent and not-so prominent politicians. A recall movement in 2001 in Arizona put Sen. John McCain on the spot for his opposition to the Bush administration's domestic policies - most notably his $10 trillion dollar tax cut. While that movement fizzled (McCain was subsequently reelected in 2004 with over 70% of the vote), another recall effort in California was engineered by a sitting US Congressman, Darrell Issa, a Republican.

Issa argued that then-Gov. Gray Davis (D) had misled the voters about the state's financial situation during an election year. Davis defeated Republican Bill Simon without too much trouble. However, Issa (who actually I've found to have a little more respect for since the recall), thought it was necessary to remove Davis immediately. We all know what happened afterwards, - Governator Schwarzenegger.

In the time since, many politicians (especially here in Michigan) have come under attack for votes they have cast. Legal votes for new taxes has been the most prevalent.

While Tlaib isn't being singled out for tax increases, her support for transferring Cobo Hall to a regional authority and opposition to Moroun's bridge does not make her a corrupted politician. Adolph Mongo disagrees. He argues that she won't listen to constituents who support the new bridge. Even if true, that still is not a crime. There may be political consequences for ignoring constituents, but you can't take Mongo's word at face value, either.

What is obvious is that recall efforts are expensive. With the state and municipalities going for broke, these recall efforts do no one any favor. Moroun and Mongo want to be on the up-and-up with the people of Detroit, they should face her head on. None of these proxy wars by citizens they've recruited to recall her.

To do so otherwise, only makes them look like cowards.

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