Tuesday, September 25, 2007

The Short, Unhappy Political Life of Councilor Don Harris

It's hard not to feel sorry for ABQ City Councilor Don Harris.

I've never been particularly in love with the guy, and, in fact, I believe I've gone so far as to question Mr. Harris' overall intelligence sometime in the hazy past, but a recall? Running against another candidate can be tough, but running against yourself is far tougher.

Whatever a representative of the people does in office, it's sure to upset somebody. And recall allows very few somebodies to invoke minority will to a passive majority. Or something like that. I think James Madison probably said it better. Anyway, it also allows non-candidate candidates, like recall leader B. James Lowe, to say things without being on the ballot themselves. That's a blank check for political slams, and Mr. Lowe is slamming away with zingers like:

"I think the mayor will appoint someone with discretion. He's got to be better than Mr. Harris," Lowe said. "If you've got a weed, you've got to get rid of the weeds before they become so large you can't pull out the roots. This guy is a weed."


"The thing that makes the military run effectively is integrity and respect for each other and performance," Lowe said. "The people in District 9 no longer have respect for him."

As the discerning reader can guess Mr. Lowe is: 1. a retired military person; 2. probably in charge of lawn care in his household.

I'm all for democracy, and prefer it over totalitarian government in just about every case I can think of, but recall elections are right up there with initiative & referendum as co-winners of the democratic "things that sound good in theory, but stink in practice" award, non-Communism Division. I'm one of those weird types who feels kind of the same way about impeaching folks.

The way to change those whose represent us is through elections, not willy-nilly recalls in which some loudmouth person with maximum time on their hands can get a few petitions together, string together some provocative soundbites, hide behind their non-candidacy and round up a few friends to get rid of some guy who pissed them off at some neighborhood association meeting 18 months ago.

For instance, as much as I don't care for the policies, style or existence of Martin Chavez, I would oppose any recall petition of him, barring multiple murders or equally heinous felonies. Elections are weakened enough as it is by low turnout, and recall efforts like that against Councilor Harris (and Councilor Mayer before that) just weaken them even more.


Kelsey Atherton said...

the trick with most recalls is that people have to be willing to go without them, and then "suffer what they sow" - people will need to learn that electing awful candidates is a bad idea, and people will need to be able to make that call before they actually vote someone into office. It requires way more planning and preparation than almost any voter is willing to give

Anonymous said...

Don Harris, why should I care whether you are recalled? After all, aren’t other politicians making little campaign-reporting mistakes, too? Your apologies at the hearing were so self-abasing and your attorney was very persuasive. Surely you are repentant. Surely you wouldn’t do that again.

Well, I did some research and apparently you might. You’ve done it before (19 traffic citations, several late campaign reports). It appears to go like this:

1. You do it (or fail to do it right).
2. When you get caught, you are very sorry.
3. You apologize humbly and explain how little oversights, confusion, and mistakes were made.
4. You (usually) get let off the hook.
5. You repeat from step #1 above.

Isn’t this evidence of a deep-seated moral problem?

Don, I’m a forgive-and-forget Christian, sure, but is your repentance genuine? I see why folks on the receiving end of this behavior could feel disrespected and deceived. It's not very loving of you.

It’d be wrong for us NOT to recall you, if we can.

If you do get recalled, perhaps you will use the time between elections to reset your moral compass.

When your heart is in the right place, if you really want to serve us and not disrespect and deceive us, run again. I would vote for you. You’ve got potential. You’re good looking, you have a nice family, you’re smart, you’re educated, and in front of the camera, quite charming.