Editor’s Viewpoint: Beware of the angry mob
Like any respectable storm, the anger directed at this year’s political candidates is forming into a critical mass. Republicans are mad at Republicans, Democrats are mad at Democrats, and Independents never liked either party to begin with.
Most of us understand the anger and would agree that occasionally shaking things up is a good thing. But, if we took to the streets every time we were angry about something, we would be like the French — and nobody wants that, right?
The winds that are blowing current national officeholders out of their seats have enough force to confront a number of local leaders, as well. Recalls of mayors are on the rise across the country, and a pattern is emerging. New mayors, like Flint, Mich.’s Dayne Walling, who laid off police officers and firefighters, and 20+ year Akron, Ohio, Mayor Don Plusquellic, who tried to raise taxes, both faced recalls and survived. Livingston, Calif., Mayor Daniel Varela Sr., who favored the first increase in the city’s water rates in a decade, was not so lucky, while Omaha, Neb., Mayor Jim Suttle, who increased property taxes and added new taxes on restaurants and caterers, is awaiting his fate as a petition to oust him was launched late last month.
But my favorite — thumbs down — has to be the recall of the mayor of North Pole, Alaska. When you’re already on top of the world, just how far over the top can you go? His accusers, including a councilwoman, say that Mayor Doug Isaacson failed to collect taxes from a defunct restaurant and misused personal leave and a city credit card.
Many of the recalls result from mayors who are attempting to fix a failing part of the infrastructure or keep their cities from going into further disrepair by raising a few bucks from the people who would benefit. The anger of those behind the recalls is genuine, but directing it solely at the mayor is often just more convenient, the same way that thinking that their role in democracy ends when they cast their vote.
Anger has its place, but if it’s misplaced, you wind up with mayors being kicked out of office for raising water rates to repair systems that produce brown and smelly water. And something about that stinks.