Recall Petition: Back to the "bad old days"? 2014.04.09

It’s not good news at all to hear that recall petitions have been filed in an attempt to remove three Morenci city council members. For those of us who have lived in Morenci for the past two decades, it brings to mind events from 1992 when city council meetings turned bitter and video cameras recorded every word.

Just like now, the issues in 1992 were with the police department. After the police chief was suspended and an officer was dismissed, a successful recall vote in 1993 removed from office mayor Jay Funk and council members Kent Deatrick and Gale Brink.

The current recall effort by former council member Everett Cool seems likely to get hung up in court due to a lack of clarity in the wording. The reason for tossing three councilors out of office is simply listed as “incompetent placement of police department leadership.” If it fails, Cool or anyone else will have the opportunity to try again with new wording that better explains the complaint to potential voters.

If any petitioner is successful in placing recall measures onto the ballot, voters won’t get their say until the November election. By then, we hope, Morenci will have a stable police department and voters will see no need to get rid of council members whose opinions differ than their own.

Recall efforts are always divisive in a community. Some recalls bring a needed house-cleaning when elected officials are accused of wrong-doing. Others are more like squabbling over who is going to get his and her way. If the recall makes it to the ballot, it will be up to voters to judge the merits of removing three elected officials.

During the “bad old days” of the early 1990s, the Observer editor’s views ran afoul of some residents and he was hung in effigy in a downtown window—a fact that’s humorously mentioned from time to time in the Michigan Press Association office in Lansing. Although it was an “honor” to receive such high regard, we hope the current situation doesn’t turn as nasty as it was the last time. There’s so much from the 1990s that we hope doesn’t reappear in 2014.