COUNCILOR RECALL WRONG WAY TO SOLVE DISPUTE

December 07, 2001 11:00 pm

Baker City Councilor Gary Dielman is fighting for his political life in a recall effort that borders on the surreal. There is a lesson to be learned here in Union County when it comes to disagreeing with someone. And those behind the recall of Dielman are showing us the wrong way to deal with a community disagreement.

In the Dielman case, the city councilor disagrees with the Baker City Councils practice of having a Christian prayer before the council goes to work. Dielman has made his point by waiting outside the chambers while the prayer is conducted. He believes the Constitution clearly directs a separation of church and state and that saying a Christian prayer before each meeting is in violation of this provision.

Dielmans concern and response to that concern certainly seems reasonable. If the Baker City Council truly wanted to respect the idea of a community made up of many religious beliefs, then they would be better served by having a moment of silence to honor all beliefs, even those who purport to not believe in God.

Instead of some reasonable response, a group of provincially minded individuals have decided to spend more than $17,000 in private funds to wage this recall effort. The cost to the city to conduct the recall election is another $5,000. Even Dielman has found it necessary to spend around $2,000 to try to tell his side of the story.

The Baker City Herald has been running dozens of letters over the past several weeks, most of which appear to support Dielman.

All this energy, effort and money is being spent to recall a councilor who has about one year left in his term in office. So why are some people in Baker City waging this battle? It could be that Dielman has gotten under their skin and they are determined to make sure he knows that they rule the roost.

Dielman has committed no crime. He has not cheated the people in Baker City because he disagrees with the majority of the councils stand on the pre-meeting prayer. What is unfortunate is that Baker City is getting a black eye, not because Dielman is against this prayer time, but because this recall effort is showing those around the state that small-minded individuals still have too much influence.

The lesson we can learn here in Union County is that no one should be recalled unless they ethically or criminally violate the public trust. Dielman has done neither.

So even when a political person makes us mad, we should express our opinion at the next meeting where that person is present. We should write letters to the editor. And we can vote against them if they run again for office.

But lets save recalls for getting rid of the people who are guilty of breaking the public trust.