RECALLS OFTEN INAPPROPRIATE
There are many good things that can be said about Baker County to the south of us. The county sports a wonderful interpretive center celebrating the Oregon Trail, a restored downtown area in Baker City, and an interesting representation of early gold mining at the Sumpter Dredge.
One thing we hope that doesn't slip across the line into Union County, however, is the desire of some Baker County citizens to recall their elected officials.
The latest public figure that is facing recall fever is Baker County Commissioner Fred Warner Jr. Catherine Vandiver and her group, Citizens for What is Best for the Majority, hope to collect enough signatures by Feb. 13 to put Warner's name on the ballot for recall.
What is the horrendous crime that Warner has done? According to the recall petition, the commissioner "has shown his lack of knowledge of county budgets by calling them a waste of time.' " He also allegedly does not support the sheriff's office and 911 dispatch department. The effort to turn Warner out of office comes on the heels of the unsuccessful effort three years ago to recall former Baker County Commission chairman Brian Cole.
Recalls should be reserved for officials who have broken the law, have engaged in some other major misconduct or have neglected the duties of their office by staying away from scheduled meetings, for example. The allegations against Warner do not appear to come close.
Efforts to recall elected officials for flimsy, political reasons have a chilling effect on the process of attracting quality people to run for office. How many people want to go to all the trouble of running for an elected position if they will have to constantly be looking over their shoulders, wondering if some critic is preparing to sic the recall dragon on them?
Recalls should be used sparingly, only to turn out of office those guilty of egregious offenses.