Author's note: This is just my two cents. I have friends on both sides of this issue. Please vote however you see fit. It's all cool with me. Have a nice day. - Colin
The question I have, my personal one million dollar question concerning the UA recall on August 23rd is the following: Why can't we just settle this brouhaha during our regular election in 2017? Isn't that the whole reason we have elections in the first place?
Best as I understand things, UA voters will be going to the polls this Tuesday for a special election to recall four sitting council members. If the recall succeeds, the current council members will then appoint four new members who will then have to run for election again next year during the regular election. Say what? Additionally, this is the first time in the one hundred year history of Upper Arlington that a recall such as this has been demanded. Why is this time so special? Why NOW?
It's been well documented that the recall is costing the taxpayers a cool $65,000 and I am sort of wondering what I get for my money If i support it. Say it succeeds and the four council members are sacked: What improvements should I look forward to in the next 12 months before the "real" election?
But I digress, back to my main question: "Why can't this wait?" Overturning elections is a slippery slope. If it succeeds, one must wonder if the "Recall the Recall" folks will be hitting the streets August 24th.
Forget the $65,000, what is true cost of this recall to the community?
I have seen things written by adults on Facebook pages that if I caught my son Owen writing the same about a student council election at Hastings, he would be grounded until he left for college and/or truck driving school. I know throwing Trump-style firebombs is the style of this current election cycle but these people aren't faceless bureaucrats buried away deep in the bowels of some government building in the suburbs of DC. No, the UA City Council members are your neighbors and part of the Upper Arlington community. They have friends that are your friends. You will see them at the store and at church. Your kids might know their kids. This recall vaguely implies they had criminal intent while serving the city. That's pretty rough stuff for a tough job that pays nothing, or next to nothing. Don't get me wrong, citizens are well served to engage in local politics, but when the tone turns nasty, long lasting damage can hinder compromise for years to come.
I've also seen people demonize city manager Ted Staton and I just don't get it. He has done a couple of Q & A sessions at Colin's Coffee and I came away impressed with both his demeanor and knowledge of the issues. I'm not asking you to be his biggest fan, but this idea that he is "ruining UA" rings hollow to me. We still had the parade. And the fireworks. And the kids all got laptops. And property values are at their highest point in decades. My little shop is doing OK. The sky isn't falling. Not in UA anyway. It's OK to disagree, but why all the hate? Why so much negativity? I just don't feel it.
At one point, it got so absurd that people were implying that the reason the UA City Council doesn't tape their meetings is because they want to keep their decisions secret from the community. Hmm... I guess that could be true though I think there is a better chance they don't tape every single meeting because NOT MUCH REALLY HAPPENS AT AN UPPER ARLINGTON CITY COUNCIL MEETING.
1) All the meetings are open to the public. So if you care, just attend. Easy-peasy.
2) If you can't attend, have a friend tape the meeting and post online so all the info is public. Just like a Grateful Dead bootleg. (And just as boring)
I challenge anybody to tape four city council meetings, listen to them all and then decide taping a fifth meeting is a good use of time. FREE Colin's Coffee drink of choice for winner.
But I digress...
To be fair, I've seen poison words from both sides and I don't like what I see. $65,000 is nothing to sneeze at, but you can't put a price on the ill will and negativity the recall has stirred up. Which brings me back to my original question,"Couldn't all this could have been avoided if we just waited for the regular election?"
"Oh, that Colin sure can dish it out, but he can't take it."
Remember this summer when we were all driving the streets aimlessly, dropping F-bombs in front of our kids because we were late (again) trying to get across the construction on Tremont Road? I sure do. It seemed like every day I picked the wrong route and got stuck. I don't know what that whole project cost but it didn't look cheap. And as a UA citizen, I got very little out of it. To be honest, I would have preferred the money to be spent on a rec center for the kids, fixing the pool or hanging some nets at Northam Park. (click here for that story)
But just because a city project doesn't meet my particular needs do I assume that city council is some branch of a shadow government imposing the tyranny of bike lanes on unsuspecting UA citizens like myself. I suspect I just disagree with the current leaders about the policies that are best for our community at this moment. That's called democracy, folks. That is why we have elections. And elections matter. And if you want to change things, you rally the troops and win the next one.
And to the recall supporters I propose that instead if simply trying to throw members out of office, why don't you run for office and show us how easy it is to please the voters in Upper Arlington. I'm sure it will be a breeze.
I am voting "NO" on the recall.
Colin Gawel owns Colin's Coffee in Upper Arlington and plays in the band Watershed. He isn't an expert on anything though he knows a lot about the band Cheap Trick.