In Tuesday's H&N, the big story was, "Citizen starts recall effort". Before I begin to analyze the article, notice how the H&N makes this action in itself seem noble. It wasn't a person nor was it a resident. No, no. it was a citizen — inferring that this recall petition is an act of citizenry, an honorable act. No need to go any further and measure whether or not this action make sense or whether it is just. Nope, because a citizen has bravley brought this petition forth, it is now noble. By their headline, the H&N has declared it so and therefore set the tone for their report.
While I could spend an entire article talking about the motives of the H&N, it is more prudent to focus on the act of Chuck Collins (he's the virtuous citizen in this story).
According the H&N, Mr. Collins claims that the two commissioners have not,
... represented the best interest of their constituents by being negligent in overseeing the county budget, neglecting to seek alternative funding for public safety and being "untruthful" about soliciting a legal opinion from the Oregon attorney general.
Let's assume Mr. Collins' motives are pure; he's just looking out for you and me, Joe Citizen. Let's also assume his assertions are true. Why then a recall? Both Al & Cheryl are up for re-election in November of 2012. They are probably more aware of this than you or I combined.
So again, why the recall? Have Al & Cheryl's acts been that detrimental to Klamath County to warrant a recall? If Al & Cheryl haven't been the best public servants, a correction can be made in the 2012 primaries — and very well could be. The primaries are less than a year away. On the other hand, Mr. Collins solution costs the county an extra $35-50K (money that the county doesn't have — ask the Sheriff). Mr. Collins solution also could get both commissioners ousted. If that happens things could get real ugly for Klamath County.
If Al & Cheryl are both recalled, then there is no longer an ability to create a quorum — Dennis Linthicum would be the only commissioner left. Without a quorum, Dennis can not appoint replacement commissioners. Instead that decision would go to Oregon's Governor Kitzhaber. Therefore answer this, do you really want our current governor directly influencing who the replacement commissioners should be — a governor who rarely has set foot in this county? The H&N somehow missed that part of the process.
Mr. Collins also happens to be a County Police Sergeant. One of his major complaints is that the jail has not being adequately funded. Now I can understand that he might be frustrated, since funding directly effects his job. But really?!? Is this an objective point of view? It's like saying, "my department didn't get funded how I thought it should be funded, so I'm going to throw a public tantrum". Let me also point out Sergeant Collins is part of a public union. This means his salary continues to go up and up each year no matter what his performance. Now, he may be a fantastic sergeant. That's not the point. The point is his pay is not tied to his performance, only to his loyalty — his years of service — just like every other public union employee.
The primary reason the county is in the financial mess it's in is due to the rise of public employee wages & benefits. There is no way to curb these expenses when county revenue decreases. If Sergeant Collins wants a real answer to his question, he needs to understand that having a public union is exactly why there isn't enough money for the jails. It might not be his union, but combined, the 400+ public union employees places a great toll on the commissioners' ability to balance the budget.
My guess is that the dollars allotted to fund the jail this year are the same or greater than what they were 10 years ago (which funded all three jail pods adequately). If that assumption is true, then what cost significantly changed? Answer: Public employee wages & benefits.
Sergeant Collins' solution to his "issues" with the commissioners is drastic at best and dangerous at worse. Collins' solution is a French revolution approach — behead them all, and we'll worry about what follows later. Instead, I would encourage the American revolution approach, where a plan was well in place before engaging in battle. While the Collins' approach may seem tempting, in the end our liberal governor will be calling the shots.
Someone once said, "Patience is a virtue". Let's be patient — 11 months patient that is. If you don't like Al or Cheryl's as County Commissioners, then vote them out in the May 2012 primary. That's the right way to handle any issues with their governance.