Editorial

Morro Bay voters should stop signing recall petition

Effort to remove Mayor Irons is a blatant waste of time

letters@thetribunenews.comOctober 27, 2013 

Jamie Irons

DAVID MIDDLECAMP — The Tribune Buy Photo

The recall campaign targeting Morro Bay Mayor Jamie Irons is looking more and more like an act of petulance by a disgruntled minority unwilling to accept the results of the 2012 election.

First of all, the grounds for the recall are vague, flimsy and misleading. (More on that later.)

Then, there’s the matter of timing. If Irons’ foes are successful in gathering enough signatures from voters — they need at least 1,754 — the recall will likely wind up on the June primary ballot … a ballot that will also include the mayoral primary.

Confusing? You betcha.

It’s also unnecessary. If successful, the recall will shorten the mayor’s term by a mere six months, at most. Irons’ opponents would be far better off trying to unseat the mayor in the June election, rather than staging this mean-spirited bit of political theater that will further divide the community.

Recalls should be a last resort reserved for egregious abuses of power or gross incompetence — not something undertaken on a whim to embarrass or undermine a political opponent.

That’s exactly what’s happening here; the mayor’s opponents are capitalizing on public angst over the pending termination of the city attorney and uncertainty over the future of the city manager to get the recall on the ballot.

Strip away that controversy, and what’s left?

A couple of vague, weak assertions that Irons “edited staff reports previous to the presentation to council” and “demonstrated lack of respect for the law.”

The petition also accuses him of disregarding a campaign promise by voting to “withdraw” the wastewater treatment plant application from Coastal Commission review — an assertion that isn’t entirely accurate, since the mayor voted to support the Coastal Commission staff’s recommendation to deny this ill-conceived project.

That, by the way, should have taken no one by surprise; Irons had voted against certifying the project’s environmental report when he was on the city Planning Commission.

Accusations that Irons “reversed campaign assurances by raising building fees and supporting tax increases” also are misleading.

Irons voted to reinstate — not raise — some building fees that had been waived during the recession. And while there’s been talk of putting a sales tax increase on the ballot to raise money for road repairs, it will be up to the voters to decide that issue — not the mayor and council.

We understand that opponents of Irons disagree vehemently with some of his actions. But why target Irons when he is but one of five voters on the council? If he were so off base, so bad for the city, would he be able to persuade two others to vote with him?

Of course not.

We continue to stand by what we said of Irons when we endorsed him for mayor last year: he’s willing to do what he believes is best for the entire city — even if it means bucking the status quo.

We believe that Irons was elected, along with council members Noah Smukler and Christine Johnson, precisely because voters wanted a change.

Launching a recall effort is a blatant attempt to undermine that decision; we strongly urge Morro Bay voters to stop the movement in its tracks by refusing to sign the petitions.

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