Editorial: Clarify rules for recalls - Coeur d'Alene Press: Local News

Editorial: Clarify rules for recalls

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Posted: Sunday, July 15, 2012 7:44 am

Sorry, but the recall debate isn't over.

In fact, prior to the next session, legislators should put their heads together and talk a great deal about it, then adopt stronger, clearer laws in 2013.

Both sides of the recent attempt to recall four Coeur d'Alene City Council members are still sorting out the significance of lessons learned, but they can largely agree on the need for clarity in state recall election statutes.

One concern is the nebulous nature of the 75-day window from the start of the petition drive to the last moment the petition signatures can be verified. Between the offices of the Secretary of State, the Kootenai County Clerk and the Coeur d'Alene City Clerk, nobody seemed to clearly understand how that 75 days should be divided between collecting signatures, turning them in to city officials and then having the county verify those signatures. The timeline seemed to twist and turn like an unruly river, leaving too much room for arbitrary interpretation. The fact that the Secretary of State's office changed its mind in the midst of the Coeur d'Alene petition drive offers ample proof that more specificity is needed for all parties involved.

We're troubled by at least two other aspects of Idaho recall laws. One involves registration; the other, establishing a legal cause for recalls.

As it stands now, recall petition gatherers can carry registration cards with them and have people register to vote on the spot. No identification is required of the person registering, leaving the possibility wide open that someone can register to vote and sign a petition without being a resident or even being the person he or she says he or she is. Further, petition gatherers tend to be volunteers who have a strong personal interest in the outcome of a recall drive. The state should require some level of competence or qualification for anyone entrusted to register people to vote.

Idaho is one of very few states that allows recall drives without any requirement of alleged malfeasance. Recall drives are expensive for taxpayers and can take a heavy toll on a community in other ways, like civic pride and economic development.

At these high costs, some standard of official misconduct should be required by law. Those bringing a recall issue before the public should have to cite specific charges of malfeasance on behalf of the recall targets. Merely disagreeing with elected officials' decisions isn't enough. The remedy for that is a general election.

  • Discuss

Welcome to the discussion.

34 comments:

  • ypinnu posted at 7:26 am on Fri, Aug 10, 2012.

    ypinnu Posts: 13

    Your post shocked me a great deal.The method of presenatation is quite distinctive then other.

    pinterest like

     
  • inclined posted at 11:44 am on Tue, Jul 17, 2012.

    inclined Posts: 682

    Neither my intention, nor practice is to be disrespective, crude or hurtful. Surely there are other reasons for wanting to be anonymous. It is a principle of some to attack individuals. This means, as well, these same would attack my children, my wife.

    Should your own bent be contrary to the Left, it is those, as well, that are the disturbingly unhappy ones, with the greater presence, hard wired to, at least figuratively, destroy you. Don't doubt this.

     
  • the floorist posted at 9:27 am on Tue, Jul 17, 2012.

    the floorist Posts: 331

    See, what really happened is...

    Two years ago Barnes & Noble heard about a heinously hostile plan to stage a divisive recall and they unceremoniously pulled the plug from anchoring Riverstone.

    BTW...that "divisive" BS is moldy now. Call a spade a spade...it's a sociological disagreement of governance and people still disagree with various aspects therein. The city still doesn't have a wet-stamped master plan and in the really real world without an inked contractor and a formal plan the city can't touch that money from the bank...

    ...but LCDC can because of the secured collateral...

    Yet there's no malfeasance...just clever accounting.

     
  • Humanist posted at 8:59 am on Tue, Jul 17, 2012.

    Humanist Posts: 3086

    Quote local res: "Next election I believe that you will see them all removed."

    Then so be it. That's how our electoral process is supposed to work.

     
  • local res posted at 11:45 pm on Mon, Jul 16, 2012.

    local res Posts: 1164

    Humanist how will it look to the progressive companies that you mention if they see a clean sweep when the next election takes place?

    Do ya suppose that they are not coming here because of a lack of leadership from the current council and mayor? They cast a vision that only a small portion of the community was able to stand behind.

    They became like dictators and not Representative officials when they refused the public a chance to advise.

    Next election I believe that you will see them all removed. Personally there are multiple businesses downtown that I will never shop at again. I don't care if they had different opinions, but to work a denying the opportunity to vote was just plain wrong.

     
  • MtnMan posted at 6:00 pm on Mon, Jul 16, 2012.

    MtnMan Posts: 56

    Someone hand me a stick! I want to hit this horse a time or two myself.

    SMH

     
  • Humanist posted at 3:20 pm on Mon, Jul 16, 2012.

    Humanist Posts: 3086

    @AC: While the recall attempt was in full swing, Eric Keck, the city administrator in Post Falls, cited several instances of businesses concerned with the political unrest in Coeur d'Alene spilling over into Post Falls. I am personally not in a position to name the businesses and prospective businesses, but feel free to contact Mr. Keck directly to substantiate this.

     
  • Humanist posted at 11:16 am on Mon, Jul 16, 2012.

    Humanist Posts: 3086

    Regarding the tangential topic here, anonymous versus non-anonymous commenting, here is what Mike Patrick had to say about it.

    "Several years ago we did go to a verified, non-anonymous registration requirement and online comments essentially vanished. We stuck with it for two or three months and then went back to the format we rely on now. "

     
  • Always Curious posted at 11:12 am on Mon, Jul 16, 2012.

    Always Curious Posts: 489

    @Humanist ... "While it was occurring, some businesses that were looking to develop in our area were questioning how wise that might be given the political instability caused by the recall attempt."

    Unsubstantiated, fear-mongering with no foundation in fact. Name them (businesses) if you can.

    Any competent group of business leaders would recognize the situation for what it was and not an indication of "instability" whatever that is or would lead to.

     
  • Humanist posted at 10:11 am on Mon, Jul 16, 2012.

    Humanist Posts: 3086

    Quote AC: "Most of the nation didn't know, hear of or even care about our little political squabble."

    You're right. Most of the nation probably didn't hear about or care. But many of the people who are very important to us DID hear about and did care about our "little" political squabble. While it was occurring, some businesses that were looking to develop in our area were questioning how wise that might be given the political instability caused by the recall attempt.

     
  • Always Curious posted at 9:57 am on Mon, Jul 16, 2012.

    Always Curious Posts: 489

    Limiting the rights of citizens to hold their elected representatives accountable at all times does nothing but increase the attitude of independent entitlement as the term of office is used as a shield and unpopular “decisions” are sheltered under arrogant statements of superior knowledge.
    -----
    Mr Editor, why do feel the standards for recall should be more stringent than those to put an elected official in office?

    Seems backwards and would contribute to the erosion of personal rights and freedoms in the name of vanity, hurt feelings and the oh so nebulous claim of lost dollars when just the opposite could be as easily claimed.

    There is already a method for dealing with illegal acts, impeachment. It is even automatic under certain conditions. It covers malfeasance.

    Verfication of indentity isn't required for voter registration by mail but for petition registration card distibutors it would be?

    The personal agenda of a petition gatherer is no different than a campaign supported during election time but once again a higher standrard is called for by some???

    A higher standard to call for a vote (recall petition) than the actual election process itself?????

    @Editor .. "The state should require some level of competence or qualification for anyone entrusted to register people to vote" . Would this be a call to change the current process for all voter registrations? Right now, you or someone else does it for you, fills out the form, licks the stamp and mails it in ... no verification until it is time to vote. But you want a higher standard for a petition gatherer?

    A term of office is a privilege not a right.

    --------

    As for the national black-eye and other such nonsense, some people in CDA really need to get over themselves. Most of the nation didn't know, hear of or even care about our little political squabble. I found it was difficult engaging in a conversation of any length with many I knew that weren't following the events even locally let alone out of the region. I never heard anyone say they weren't visiting because we were tarnished by a recall, oh my, now the trees will have blight and the sidewalks will crack. Actually a few less tourists might make CDA a little more enjoyable in the summer, nothing personal, I've been a tourist myself.

     
  • ypinnu posted at 4:52 am on Mon, Jul 16, 2012.

    ypinnu Posts: 13

    Can I simply say what a reduction to seek out somebody who truly knows what theyre talking about on the internet. You positively know learn how to deliver an issue to light and make it important. More folks need to learn this and understand this side of the story. I cant imagine youre no more well-liked because you positively have the gift.
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  • Joanne Stebbins aka Stebbijo posted at 8:10 pm on Sun, Jul 15, 2012.

    Joanne Stebbins aka Stebbijo Posts: 2

    @Humanist - I think the real risk is going to be for folks of influence and community stature if anonymous comments are not reigned in - this case with Tina Jacobson will test that assumption if folks who post carelessly and recklessly are not exposed.

    Some people just ruin it for others - before long we will probably have to sign for bath salts. I do understand your concern and other's here on the flip-side to mandatory identity requirements re: employment. We have some crummy employers in this neck of the woods.

    At times more visibility can work in a person's favor. You can find anyone these days - the Secretary of State's site is a massive resource for individuals and business.

    However, it is not so easy to find a current list of sex offenders (most of them are not registered voters :-)) at least in some neighborhoods because that state site is not up to date for address searches - too many changes because of 9-1-1 upgrades. Screws up your signature on petitions like a recall, too. Probably statewide. Oh well, it's Idaho.

     
  • Humanist posted at 6:54 pm on Sun, Jul 15, 2012.

    Humanist Posts: 3086

    Quote Stebbijo: "You probably would not be calling people "whackos" if you posted under your real name"

    Maybe, maybe not. Depends on the poster and the context of the conversation. If I was concerned that said "whacko" would look up my address via the Kootenai County assessor web site (http://www.kcgov.us/departments/mapping/mapSearch/), was likely to carry a firearm and potentially use it in a "whacko" moment, then I would probably refrain from offending them. So, more civility, less ability to speak my true mind. The trade-off would be worth it to some, not to others.

     
  • mister d posted at 5:49 pm on Sun, Jul 15, 2012.

    mister d Posts: 1531

    Caius - totally agree. Not all posters who do not use their names are "whackos", many are regular individuals who because of their positions in the community would be potentially fired for their views, especially political views. I am sure many city emplotees would have felt uncomfortable voicing their support of the recall attempt but they were there nameless and they still have their jobs. Most know the posters they do not like reading and either skip their comments or read them for fun, the choice to read is yours. Take away the alternative names and you will take away the voice of many regular citizens who will not put their jobs at risk to voice an opinion on a public website. Then this site becomes worthless as an open forum.

     
  • Humanist posted at 5:21 pm on Sun, Jul 15, 2012.

    Humanist Posts: 3086

    Quote CC: "If you are using your real name, any time anyone uses a search engine such as google and searches your name, all of your comments will show up as the results. I'm not sure how many of you want your employers or the community to know everything you've spouted off on some comments board."

    I think that's part of the point of exploring this option: to make people personally accountable for what they say. If people are concerned with their comments being read by people who know them, employers, etc. then they certainly could opt out from commenting altogether. It's not like people would be forced to state their opinion online.

    Quote CC: "Anonymity is an outlet for us to speak our true minds that we often times curb due to wanting to be civil."

    Exactly. And it is the lack of civility that many people are tired of.

     
  • Joanne Stebbins aka Stebbijo posted at 5:20 pm on Sun, Jul 15, 2012.

    Joanne Stebbins aka Stebbijo Posts: 2

    I don't know you Humanist - but obviously you got my point. You probably would not be calling people "whackos" if you posted under your real name and certainly your posts would mean more to some of us if we knew who you were. When I scroll thru comments - the first ones that are credible are the real names, the others are immaterial - they just do not hold the mustard per se.

    So, with that said, I am glad you see the value in what the SunJournal is doing and this might be a trend without much arm twisting. Not too tough to fix. I will curious to see what feedback you get from Mike Patrick.

     
  • CaiusCosades posted at 5:06 pm on Sun, Jul 15, 2012.

    CaiusCosades Posts: 380

    Wanting to force people to use their real names in the comment section is a dangerous and radical idea that is either not well thought out or you may just be ignorant to the way search engine indexing works.

    If you are using your real name, any time anyone uses a search engine such as google and searches your name, all of your comments will show up as the results. I'm not sure how many of you want your employers or the community to know everything you've spouted off on some comments board.

    Take a person like me living in North Idaho. I enjoy being able to speak my mind freely without risk to my employment or risk of having some nutcase show up at my doorstep or having a family member dislike me because I believe in something they don't believe in. Anonymity is an outlet for us to speak our true minds that we often times curb due to wanting to be civil.

    I for one think that forcing people to use their real names is an extremist idea that is poorly thought out and downright ignorant.

     
  • Humanist posted at 5:04 pm on Sun, Jul 15, 2012.

    Humanist Posts: 3086

    I just sent an email to Mike Patrick asking what The CdA Press' thoughts are on that topic.

     
  • Humanist posted at 4:59 pm on Sun, Jul 15, 2012.

    Humanist Posts: 3086

    @stebbijo: Being one myself, I think your characterization of all anonymous commenters as whackos is a bit over reaching. Anyway, that is very interesting what the SunJournal has done and I would be supportive of that change here. Personally, I would be willing to forgo my anonymity so the likes of some of the very offensive posters (e.g. JoeIdaho) would have to forgo their anonymity. I think this would result in overall a more civilized and respectful level of discourse. If people want anonymous discussion, they can find other sites (such as HBO).

    I think The CdA Press should explore this option.

     
  • stebbijo posted at 4:37 pm on Sun, Jul 15, 2012.

    stebbijo Posts: 49

    @ Humanist

    SunJournal.com does not allow annonymous names. All content is treated like a letter to the editor including comments to that specific online letter. You can take a look at this link. It is out of the state of Maine. It's so ugly in CDA, that I think the "whackos" are the anonymous commenters.

    "http://www.sunjournal.com/verified

    In the winter of 2011, after some conversations in our newsroom, we posed the question to our readers: Do you think commenters should be required to use their real names?

    The majority said yes. So after some careful thought, we decided that would be our policy.

    Starting on Feb. 1, 2011, we will begin requiring all users to use their first and last names when commenting on our website.

    In order to apply for verified status, you must edit your profile and check the box that says "Please verify my status." We will verify your identity by either giving you a call, using the number you have provided for us in your profile, or by checking your information against our subscription records, if you are a subscriber.

    Once you apply for verified status, you get all the perks of being a verified commenter, with a cool green badge and the satisfaction of speaking with your name behind your words.

    If you don't apply for verified status before Feb. 1, your comments may disappear until you verify your account"


    stebbijo aka Joanne Stebbins :-).

     
  • Humanist posted at 2:32 pm on Sun, Jul 15, 2012.

    Humanist Posts: 3086

    Quote cdasfuture: "We had been denied an advisory vote time and again,

    But it's not as if an advisory vote was actually a right of yours that was denied. It was simply a desire by some citizens, that desire was presented to the administration, they considered it, but in the end decided against it. Yes, them deciding against it was not what YOU wanted, but there was nothing illegal, or even wrong with, them not having an advisory vote. Because this rationale was used for attempting a recall, it really was nothing more than a group of citizens throwing a temper tantrum because they did not get their way.

    By the way, I appreciated your unbiased McEuen meeting report.

     
  • cdasfuture posted at 2:10 pm on Sun, Jul 15, 2012.

    cdasfuture Posts: 123

    The reason I was active in getting these four officials on the ballot for a recall vote was the fact that by the time November 2013 rolls around, it would be too late. We had been denied an advisory vote time and again, and this was the only way to force important changes to the Team McEuen plan.

    I told many that the 4 would have their feet to the fire when they knew they would be up for a possible recall and they would then make some concessions to their constituents, such as forgetting the underground parking and putting it on Lakeside.

    That said, I strongly agree about the registration comments made in this editorial. I could not believe this was accepted.

    I also agree with writers below that we should be using our names when posting comments.

    Linda Wolovich

     
  • DeNiles posted at 2:10 pm on Sun, Jul 15, 2012.

    DeNiles Posts: 2450

    Well if all high crimes got properly and accurately investigated then perhaps the impetus to recall would be lessened?

     
  • voxpop posted at 1:50 pm on Sun, Jul 15, 2012.

    voxpop Posts: 738

    Used to be that recall was for a crime. Now it's a crime when I don't like your opinion, and vice versa. Given the state of political conflict in the country, now and likely for some time to come, recall should only be for those who commit a felony. And the recall should be automatic. If you're convicted, appeal or not, you're out on your ear. Most political groups would fight that however, since they don't want to lose their guy even if they've committed murder. And that goes doubly so for groups affiliated with business.

     
  • Humanist posted at 1:31 pm on Sun, Jul 15, 2012.

    Humanist Posts: 3086

    Regarding anonymous blogging: there are enough whackos on here who feel so strongly about their viewpoints, that are often directly opposite of my views, that there is no way I am going to risk myself or my family by using my real name. For those of you who do feel comfortable doing that, good for you. That being said, the cloak of anonymity does seem to cause many to behave in a way that they would not if they were standing in front of that person they're addressing. I also seriously doubt that The Press would want to expend the resources necessary to confirm commenter identity. Does anyone know of any online newspaper site where only verified commenters are allowed?

     
  • Dan Gookin posted at 12:04 pm on Sun, Jul 15, 2012.

    Dan Gookin Posts: 689

    So anonymous blogging human Adamsfly agrees with the editorial in one post, and then turns around and threatens a public official with a recall for flimsy reasons in another post. Typical.

    Mr. Patrick, the best way The Press can help heal the community is to disallow anonymous blogging and the cowardly mud-slinging it promotes.

     
  • Humanist posted at 11:54 am on Sun, Jul 15, 2012.

    Humanist Posts: 3086

    Quote Randy Myers: "Which is a valid reason for recall Humanist."

    I understand that it is in the State of Idaho. But it should not be (which is one of the points of the editorial). And just because it could be attempted, doesn't mean that the recall CdA crowd should have attempted it.

     
  • Adamsfly posted at 10:54 am on Sun, Jul 15, 2012.

    Adamsfly Posts: 46

    So Dan, are you going to feel the same way when we go after you? I doubt it.

     
  • Dan Gookin posted at 10:15 am on Sun, Jul 15, 2012.

    Dan Gookin Posts: 689

    I believe the tradeoff in the law is that an unreasonable number of signatures are required because the public doesn't need a specific charge of malfeasance. If you're going to require a legal cause for a recall, then the percentage of valid signatures needs to be lowered significantly. Also, the vote should be straight majority. The current 20 percent standard, coupled with more votes than when elected, would be way too high in that case.

    This is part of a larger picture of what's wrong with government in Idaho. Unlike it says in the preamble of the State Constitution, political power does not reside with the people. The power in this state is with an entrenched elected few and their private benefactors.

     
  • Adamsfly posted at 10:07 am on Sun, Jul 15, 2012.

    Adamsfly Posts: 46

    This time the CDA Press editorial staff got it 100% correct.

     
  • Why Not posted at 9:55 am on Sun, Jul 15, 2012.

    Why Not Posts: 4404

    Spot on Editorial. To varying degrees we all disagree with our elected officials from time to time, but should mere disagreement constitute a recall petition? If that was the case shouldn’t the United States Congress should be in perpetual recall? General elections are designed to remedy political differences. Recall petitions should be reserved for legal and moral misdeeds and incompetence. And it wouldn’t hurt to require some training and commonsense guidelines for petition volunteers

     
  • Humanist posted at 9:20 am on Sun, Jul 15, 2012.

    Humanist Posts: 3086

    Quote: "At these high costs, some standard of official misconduct should be required by law. Those bringing a recall issue before the public should have to cite specific charges of malfeasance on behalf of the recall targets. Merely disagreeing with elected officials' decisions isn't enough. The remedy for that is a general election."

    I completely agree with this statement. The recent recall attempt, which was an incredibly negative and divisive time in this City's history, was an example of how the recall process was abused simply because a group of citizens disagreed with some decisions their elected representatives made.

    Clearly it's impossible to make all of the people happy all of the time, so if our elected officials have done nothing illegal and have simply made some citizens upset because of decisions they have made, then that should not be a good enough reason to attempt a recall. I also hope the State looks at the lessons learned from the Couer d'Alene recall attempt and modifies the laws.

     
  • concernedcitizen posted at 8:41 am on Sun, Jul 15, 2012.

    concernedcitizen Posts: 2530

    It's nice when one can have daddy call in a favor to those in power eh?

     
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