The Times deserves some recognition for its coverage of Republican Mark Pettitt and his latest legal issues. A sitting, elected official has a lot of job protection. Unless an elected official seemingly commits an unethical act directly related to his or her government duties, the public faces the unfair process of a recall effort.
As the Times noted, in 2011, Commissioner Craig Lutz faced the prospect of a recall. In fact, two efforts were made to recall Commissioner Lutz. In July of 2011, I failed to collect 100 signatures to start the process. My effort ended in July of 2011.
In August, another group did collect more than 100 signatures. I do not know who was the leadership behind that effort. I saw a few, politically naive people at a meeting with sincere intentions. Because that group had no money, no attorney, and eventually no leadership, they failed. The cost of that failure may deter other sincere and naive people from voicing simple opinions.
As the Times reported, a recall is a “difficult process” with a high threshold to cross. The Times should note that three recalls efforts were made in 2011. There was also an effort made to start a recall of Commissioner Ashley Bell. In April of 2010, an effort failed to remove Commission Chair Tom Oliver and Commissioner Billy Powell by filing an ethics complaint through the state. That effort included a petition signed by 180 Hall County residents. I believe the effort relied upon Georgia Code 45-10-1. Although that was not a recall, it shows our citizens do try to fix government within the narrow rules.
Humans make mistakes. Even judges, juries and voters make mistakes. Correcting the mistakes made in courts and voting booths come at terrible costs. I hope the Times and its staff continue to update our communities about potential problems in government, the campaign positions of potential candidates for office, and the outcome of elections. I also hope people learn from their mistakes. We can’t afford to keep making the same mistakes every few years. It’s just too difficult. And, sometimes, too late.
Michael W. Parker