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Keep CalFire, but is a recall the right method?

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Posted: Thursday, August 9, 2012 9:19 pm

Signatures are still being collected in the effort to recall Mike Alifano, Doug Mackintosh, and Gary Riddell from the Coastside Fire Protection District board of directors. Just swing by New Leaf Community Market at lunchtime and you can’t miss recall volunteer John Lynch’s stovepipe-style Uncle Sam hat, which is firmly attached to his head with a chin strap. His style certainly adds some flair to the task (although I do think that the full ensemble with red-and-white-striped pants and a goatee might attract more takers).

While eating lunch, it has been interesting to watch people exit the store. Those that don’t try to skirt the table by going out the “in” door (just pull hard and it opens) are quickly petitioned by those manning the table to “Keep CalFire,” as the big sign says, by voting out the three members of the fire board. The board majority incurred the wrath of recall supporters by voting to return to a stand-alone department, without CalFire management.

This feels a little disingenuous.

You are not actually signing up to “Keep CalFire.” You are signing a petition to bring to the ballot, at some point, a referendum to remove the majority of the board. It is certainly possible, if and when the recall is voted upon, that all of the members would keep their positions. Or that only one member would get the boot, although all or nothing seems to be a most likely scenario. And if all three members are removed, there will need to be another election to vote new members on.

Of course, there is certainly no guarantee that the new directors will be in favor of keeping CalFire. What if the new members also favor a stand-alone department? Do we start another recall effort?

We should keep CalFire. The state agency is doing a fine job by most accounts and is doing so for less money than a stand-alone department would cost — without all the past drama. I have not been convinced that we would be better off with a stand-alone solution. If it’s not broken, why fix it?

But using a recall effort to oust the majority of the fire board doesn’t feel right. Recalls should be reserved for those that neglect their duties or have clearly misused their power, and, as far as I know, the board majority is not guilty of anything like that.

Although the board majority is not obligated to answer to the public, I have to keep the faith that if there is a big enough citizen outcry and enough feedback, any reasonable board member could not, in good conscience, ignore the people’s views.

The bottom line is that the recall effort, even if it is successful, doesn’t guarantee its intended result. Only the concerted effort to convince board members to stay with CalFire will do that. Likely? Maybe not. But no more unlikely than gambling at the voting booth.

Welcome to the discussion.

5 comments:

  • Cid Young posted at 3:04 pm on Sun, Aug 12, 2012.

    Cid Young Posts: 114

    Bill Murray,
    Have you even attended ONE meeting of the Fire Board?
    Have you watched even ONE video tapped Fire Board Meeting on MontaraFog.com?
    If you had, your statement below would then be less than credible.

    "Although the board majority is not obligated to answer to the public, I have to keep the faith that if there is a big enough citizen outcry and enough feedback, any reasonable board member could not, in good conscience, ignore the people’s views."

    They absolutely have been ignoring the "public's" views at those meetings since I started attending in May. Those in attendance can tell you, were it not for the "watchdogs" of the citizens and members of the public, we may all find ourselves waking up to a huge boondoggle.

    No, Mr. Murray, get involved before you begin to spout off about what "doesn't feel right". Please get on the MontaraFog.com website and, starting with the Dec 14th 2011 meeting in which Mike Alifano made the rather rambling motion "to see what it would take to have a "Stand-Alone Department", and then watch as each meeting successively unfurls and snowballs from there. YOU will be educated as to how they operate, and ignore the public pleading with them to not get rid of CalFire. You will be amazed how they hire two sets of consultants ($100,000) and then ignore the facts that it will cost FAR MORE to go it alone, and Vote to go forward towards a "Stand-Alone" model again. You will feel the icky determination to get what THEY want, in spite of the facts and the fiscal uncertainty of it all.

    When they wouldn't listen to the Public, all we could do was start a RECALL.
    Taxpayers can't keep spending money we don't have.

     
  • J C Cervantes posted at 3:57 pm on Sat, Aug 11, 2012.

    J C Cervantes Posts: 185

    Mr. Murray:

    Are you certain your statement about the election of replacement candidates to the Board of CFPD are correct? You said: " And if all three members are removed, there will need to be another election to vote new members on."

    That differs from this discussion of what happens; http://www.ktla.com/videogallery/70313589/News/Fullerton-Council-Members-Recalled-in-Election-Vote

    Your statement also seems to differs with California election law:

    "If the majority vote on the question is to recall, the officer is removed and,
    if there is a candidate, the candidate who receives the highest number of
    votes is the successor to the unexpired term of the recalled officer. The
    officer may not be a candidate to succeed himself/herself at the recall
    election. (Cal.Const., Art. II, Sec. 15; §11381(c), 11384, 11385)"

     
  • J C Cervantes posted at 11:22 am on Sat, Aug 11, 2012.

    J C Cervantes Posts: 185

    Thanks Mr. Murray for your opinions. I am certain that the recall committee appreciates your dress code suggestions.

    What actions have you seen from the Board Majority that would lead you to believe that anything but a recall will stop their actions?

    You imply that there has been no "misuse of powers:

    Would you consider cancelling the contract with CAL Fire with the possibility of no fire service a "misuse of power"?

    Would you consider ignoring the Grand Jury report a "misuse of power"?

    Would you consider closing a meeting to prevent the public hearing the Chief's report a "misuse of power"?

    Would you consider ignoring the financial numbers provided by your own consultant and substituting others a "misuse of powers"?

    Would you consider ignoring a $20,000,000 Cal Pers obligation a "misuse of power"?

    Would you consider being less than 4 months from losing the opportunity to retain Cal Fire and not have a transition budget done a "misuse of power"?

    You go ahead Mr. Murray and attempt to reason with these three. My support will be for the recall.

     
  • George posted at 10:44 pm on Fri, Aug 10, 2012.

    George Posts: 614

    Bill, I believe I understand your point. Don't know tht I agree with the basis for your conclusions, but I think I understand.

    I have three questions here:

    1) I do not recall Clay writing or saying anything positive about the recall, but there is page after page of arguments to your position here that we've all read. Are you and Clay on two different pages?

    2) I see this is an Editorial. Does this represent your opinion or the opinion of the Review?

    3) In part Bill, you say - "But using a recall effort to oust the majority of the fire board doesn’t feel right. Recalls should be reserved for those that neglect their duties or have clearly misused their power, and, as far as I know, the board majority is not guilty of anything like that." I agree with the first sentence, but with all due respect, how can you honestly say what follows?

    I have not signed the recall papers. It troubles me greatly for numerous reasons; but to portray Board actions as you have is surprising to me.

    How would you characterize the Fire Board's actions to date?

     
  • Tyler Durden posted at 11:44 am on Fri, Aug 10, 2012.

    Tyler Durden Posts: 430

    Nice job of trying fight the recall while claiming to be concerned about the process of collecting signatures. We would expect nothing less from the Review---the master of defending the Old Guard's malfeasance for decades going back to the original Godmothers Dolores Mullin and Helen Bedsem and extending to today in the form of Patridge & Co. and Alifano & Co.

    From the editorial:
    "...Although the board majority is not obligated to answer to the public, I have to keep the faith that if there is a big enough citizen outcry and enough feedback, any reasonable board member could not, in good conscience, ignore the people’s views..."

    How long have you lived here? The basic problem with your thinking is that you assume the board majority is "reasonable." If they were reasonable, then the community wouldn't be forced to go down this painful and expensive recall process in the first place.

     

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