Thursday, June 25, 2009

Recall leftovers:a turkey without the trimmings

AMONG THE MANY disconnects - and there were many - in Warner Mendenhall's failed attempt to eliminate Mayor Plusquellic short of Medieval poison, were his frequent references to democracy. It was a little surprising to me, at least, that a fellow with a law degree could find so little case history to justify his motives other than it was "democracy" in action. Having never spent a minute in a law school class, I can only refer to the cautionary words of John Ciardi, the late poet and poetry editor of Saturday Review and truly civilized human being:
"The Constitution gives every American the inalienable right to make a damn fool of himself."
Trouble is, Mendenhall was costing taxpayers a lot of money while he was trying to perfect his obsession against the mayor (another disconnect because he argued that his recall campaign was nothing personal against Plusquellic!).

Well, for all that, it ain't over yet. Mendenhall and his understudies are giving evidence that there is much more to come as he morphs into Batman's ever-troublesome Joker. His wife Kelly will run for council-at large and a couple of other seats will be challenged by Plusquellic haters. I don't have any problems with that. That's what regular elections are all about, a point lost in Mendenhall's haste to fast-forward a mayoral challenge with a recall election.

But given the failure to make Mendenhall's briefcase issues drive out Plusquellic, we can only wonder whether they will be revived in the council races. Wonder? Of course they will.

** * * *
On Monday night, I happened to tune in to this fellow Tom Erickson on WNIR at another person's request. Glad I did. It's pure comedy. Erickson, like some other right wingers on the station, is driven by demons that, among other bits of sophistry, try to raise doubts about the legitimacy of Plusquellic's Democratic primary victory in 2007. Erickson thinks conspiratorially that it should have been investigated. In a discussion about Akron's debt, an issue raised by his buddy Mendenhall, he declared; "Debt is a crime." But the real fun began in earnest when one woman caller complained that she didn't know whether she could vote in the recall election because she didn't know where she lived; and another caller expressed hope that the recall would fail because the governor shouldn't be kicked out.

Well, there's a lot of this crap going around these days, inspired by right-wing talk show hosts who merely tease their listeners into questioning such long-resolved matters as whether President Obama is actually an American citizen or, for God's sake, whether he is socialist-communist-underground Muslim-etc.etc.etc. And I would simply ask the anti-tax crowd to stay off the paved roads. My taxes paid for them.

* * * * *

Among the first orders of business in the post-recall hours should be finding a way to raise the threshold on the number of petitions to set up a recall election. It was the work of mice and politicians and unless it is dramatically improved, Akron may again find itself in a mayoral recall campaign. The current situation is as dumb as term limiting, which is costing legislators their jobs rather then letting the voters decide who will stay and who will go. The restriction cuts across party lines, of course, and even affects conservative Republican State Sen. Kevin Coughlin, of Cuyahoga Falls, who isn't thrilled with the limits, and must look for other work that doesn't require heavy lifting when his current term expires.


School of Athens said...

Well written. I am wondering if it would be worth your time to analyze the following:
The recall has now shown (beyond any shadow of a doubt) that the political continuum that people are on in Akron is extremely wide. Indeed this is a national trend. We saw it with the 2008 Presidential election. In your years of reporting has it always been this large? Is it getting larger these days as more and more pressing issues emerge? We have never seen a recall in Akron before. when you look back at history there are some times where the nation is really divided politically (1860, 1932, 1960, etc.) but is this different? Is it the same? It feels somehow different (perhaps communication has made it different). It may be worth blogging about. I know at least I would be interested in your thoughts….

Grumpy Abe said...

Though rare, every recall has its own dynamics - the validity of the protest, the residual disposition of the voters toward either side and the aggregate of the forces recruited to do battle. In Akron's case, Mendenhall failed on all counts. He was ill-prepared to challenge Mayor Plusquellic either with his resume or his resources. At the same time, Plusquellic had the broad support of corporate, business and labor interests as well as the media, all of whom saw no reason to make a change. Mendenhall was destined to lose from the outset. The only real question: By how much? In the recall attempt against Mayor Dennis Kucinich of Cleveland a generation ago, all of Plusquellic's positive elements were absent. The corporations and business community, as well as the media, strongly opposed him and most of his political friends deserted him. he still won, by a handful of votes. The moral, I suppose: If you're not prepared to send the incumbent to jail, don't bother.