When you spend a sum worthy of a state senate race on a recall election against a city councilor well, maybe you have bucks to burn.
But that doesnt mean you should be asked to defray the cost of conducting the election. To do so would be to set a bad precedent and further cement the grip of money on our political system.
Granted, the measure Baker City Councilors Nick Greear and Beverly Calder voted in favor of last week would only have asked the Citizens for Responsible Government to chip in towards the $6,500 cost of conducting the Dec. 18 recall election against Gary Dielman.
After all, the Citizens filed the paperwork, gathered the signatures, and put the machinery in motion to trigger the recall election. Then they spent more than $20,000 to prosecute their cause.
It couldnt hurt to ask them to chip in a touch on the citys unbudgeted expense, could it?
Well, yes, it could.
However much we may not have liked the last two recall attempts to go before voters, the citizens who pursued the removal of Dielman and County Commissioner Brian Cole had every right to do so.
To ask citizens to pay to conduct a legal election would set a bad precedent. In effect, the government would be saying to the people that you are welcome to participate in the electoral system if you can afford it.
Already, it is a rare occasion that the low bidder in an election wins a race. Blending politics with money leads to a suspicious populace and worse, unseemly entanglements and conflicts of interest like the ones involving Enron (the company contributed money to the Clinton and Bush campaigns, and John Ashcrofts unsuccessful bid for re-election to the Senate).
No, Councilor Jeff Petry (albeit himself a contributor to the Citizens recall fund) is right: that $6,500 is the price we pay to live in a Constitutional democracy.
If the Dielman recall still boils your blood, wed suggest you contact the Oregon Secretary of State not the Citizens for Responsible Government and discuss reform to the recall statutes themselves.