Thursday, February 26, 2015

Municipal Recall Effort Doomed?

    One hears that City Clerk Esther Martinez may tell the Las Cruces City Council as early as tomorrow morning [Friday] that the would-be recallers have failed to collect sufficient signatures to trigger a special recall election in any of the three districts in which they sought to boot progressive councilors out of office.
     Certainly our own calculations have indicated the recallers have fallen sufficiently short that it's unlikely they can make up the difference in the 15 additional days they get, under the City Charter, to amend the petitions.  Further, I've been amazed by how many people who signed the petitions want to withdraw their names because they were misled into signing in the first place.  I won't get into detail, but talking to some of those people was troubling, because so many everyday, non-political good citizens got gulled so cynically by the recallers.  That's not how elections -- or petition drives -- are meant to be conducted.   The recallers' conduct didn't comport with ethical constraints, state laws, or basic Christian religious principles.   The latter seem relevant because several of the recall leaders claim to be serious Christians. (Isbell says he's some kind of Christian minister, while Coppedge and others who backed the thing financially purport to be strongly Christian.)  I don't think Jesus would have approved using flat-out lies to fool people into punishing city councilors for supporting a minimum-wage hike.
    What part of that conduct do they suppose Jesus would have approved of?  We know he was pretty sympathetic to the poor and oppressed.  We know he told us it was tough for a rich man to make it to heaven.  He at least hinted that humility and compassion were better ways to get there than greed and arrogance.  We know he was a truth-teller, who gave hypocrites a rude awakening.  Certainly neither history nor the gospels  contain incidents in which he was lying, defaming people, or acting out of pure greed.  Or hatred.  He did make clear that folks who made a big show of their piety but had no time for the needy weren't likely to  meet his Father in heaven.

    So I hope some of those who call themselves Christians but lied to help this vicious recall effort along will take a moment to explain, at least to themselves, how they harmonized their conduct with their beliefs.
    I don't mean to sound preachy.  I don't mean to judge, because I agree with Jesus that judging other people isn't my right, although I also readily concede my conduct isn't always up to the mark on that one.  But I do mean to suggest, respectfully, that some folks meditate a little on some things.

    In the more political realm, what's this development mean?
    It means that the sooner the charter-authorized procedures drive a stake into the heart of the recall effort, the quicker the city can make some progress on healing the divisions that recent controversies deepened.
    It does not mean that the folks behind the recall are through, though.  As some of them have announced, they'll be running candidates for city council and county commission, trying to seize control of our local government.  They'll spend plenty of money on it.   I've heard that one failed city council candidate has reportedly threatened to seek to recall some county commissioners.
     But for the moment, people in three city council districts have rejected lies and hatred because they happen to like and respect three hard-working and honest councilors, Olga Pedroza, Gill Sorg, and Nathan Small.  Kudos to the three -- and the citizens of their districts.

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