Geographically, economically, demographically, culturally and ideologically, San Francisco and Shasta County are polar opposites, but their constituents have one thing in common: a willingness to kick out officials they don’t like.
A few weeks ago, voters in the district of Shasta County Supervisor Leonard Moty voted to recall the former Republican police chief, who had been accused of being insufficiently critical of the state’s COVID-19 executive orders. The recall leaders were linked to the right-wing militia movement.
Reminders suddenly become fashionable
Last week, voters in San Francisco recalled three school board members accused of neglecting the education of children in their zeal to promote ultra-progressive political causes, such as changing the names of schools to reflect current ideological dogma.
The power to remove office holders, enshrined in the state constitution for more than a century as a safeguard against corruption but rarely used during that time, has suddenly come into fashion as the COVID-19 pandemic and rising crime rates increase cultural and political polarization.
By any rational standard, Shasta County’s Moty is a conservative Republican but has run into hard-right intolerance for anything other than complete adherence to his demands that Shasta refuse to follow the pandemic guidelines of the United States. ‘State.
Were it not for the pandemic, the San Francisco school board’s ideological outbursts likely would have been tolerated, but parents have grown furious over the slow reopening of schools and the board’s decision to halt merit-based enrollment at prestigious Lowell High. School.
The school board‘s recall was so popular that prominent local politicians, including Mayor London Breed, endorsed it. Breed will name the successors to the ousted trio.
Although Governor Gavin Newsom ignored a feeble effort to recall him last year, most recall campaigns that garner enough signatures to make the ballot a success, including that of Governor Gray Davis in 2003 and the occasional campaign for ousting state legislators.
SF and LA district attorneys targeted
We’ll likely see more recall elections soon, including one already qualified with San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin to target. He is accused of refusing to vigorously pursue the criminal cases referred to him by the local police.
Similar allegations are leveled against a predecessor of Boudin, George Gascón, who is now a Los Angeles County prosecutor, and a petition to recall him is pending. Boudin, Gascón and several other Blue County district attorneys implemented less punitive prosecution policies, but rising crime rates and increase in public concern about crime generated backlash.
Following the Shasta County recall, another campaign is underway in another rural county, Nevada, with similar dynamics.
The Sacramento Bee reported“In Nevada County, an activist group alleges authorities exceeded their authority regarding COVID-19 contact tracing, lockdowns and other public health measures that “violated religious freedoms.” and individual liberty.” They seek to recall the five-member council for committing “crimes against humanity.”
According to the Bee, recall supporters see county supervisors as “part of a corrupt system under Dr. Anthony Fauci that is forcing a dangerous, untested vaccine on the masses, refusing to treat patients with ivermectin and depriving them of their freedoms by monitoring them. for contact tracing.
Legislative Changes to Floating Callback Rules
Unsurprisingly, the wave of recalls has generated suggestions in the state legislature to change the process, some to make it harder for a recall to qualify for the ballot, others that would effectively nullify a governor’s recall. .
Perhaps recall is overused or even misused right now, but it’s still a valuable check against arrogant office holders. Changing it could have unintended and negative consequences, so we shouldn’t be in too much of a rush to make sweeping reforms.
About the Author
Dan Walters has been a journalist for nearly 60 years, spending most of those years working for California newspapers. He began his professional career in 1960, at the age of 16, at the Humboldt Times. For more Walters chronicles, go to calmmatters.org/comment.