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Speer: Have we seen the last of recalls for now?

June 8, 2012
Bill Speer - Editor/Publisher , The Alpena News


It's an ugly word. It's hard to accomplish. It creates ill will and animosity. It burns more bridges than it builds in a community. There never is a winner after its over.

Personally, I believe it should be banned from the political landscape. As far as I'm concerned, voters have the opportunity of recall every election, yet most people fail to care enough to participate in the process.

Recall is a word I personally am not enamored with.

Despite my personal misgivings, recall is a word found often in the newspaper these days.

First, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker successfully withstood a recall election this week. Much is being written, and debated, as to how much to read into the Republican governor's victory, and its implications to the November presidential race.

The recall effort against Walker was organized and supported by Wisconsin union groups upset over the governor's elimination of collective bargaining rights and reduction of pension and health benefits.

At the very least, I believe the election outcome will energize Republicans everywhere and give them new optimism heading into November. Likewise, for Democrats, it will serve as a reminder that every election takes work, lots of it, and will help them refocus their strategy and priorities.

Another truth we can learn from the election is that no matter how you slice it, this isn't your grandparents' political world we are operating in. Throw the old conventional wisdom out the door and buckle up for the wild ride ahead.

The second focus on news stories dealing with recall comes from Lansing, where members of the group gathering petitions to recall Gov. Rick Snyder said Thursday they were abandoning their efforts.

"The results in Wisconsin crystallized how difficult a task it is to recall a sitting governor, even when the unions and the Democratic party play a significant role in the effort," Bruce Fealk, a spokesman for the group, told Associated Press.

The decision gives further credence to the political implications of Wisconsin's electorate.

Finally, in Alpena, at the League of Women Voters' forum Wednesday, the threat of "recall" actions hung in the auditorium like a thick fog as participants danced around allusions to it, yet never "out and out" mentioned it by name.

You can listen to the entire forum at our newspaper's website as a podcast under the extras section of the site (

In Michigan no recall effort can begin until six months after an official takes office. In the case of Alpena officials, that would be but three weeks away on July 1.

It's been 24 years this October since the last successful recall in Alpena. That year residents recalled Mayor Stephen Fletcher by a 2,009-1,900 vote and Councilman George LaFleche 2,104 to 1,799.

At the time a committee - Concerned Citizens for a Better Alpena Government - was formed to lead recall efforts. The group was upset over privatization of the city's water and wastewater services.

In December that year voters elected Bill LaHaie as mayor and Robert Reicks to council.

City government continued on, but it would take years for the wounds from that recall effort to heal. Some would argue time did heal some things, but others would contend some wounds were too deep to ever fully recover from.

Many of us have been there, done that. Many readers, like me, don't relish the thought of another painful experience.

The question this morning is whether readers have read the last of recall efforts, or have the stories this week been the prelude to more stories yet to follow?



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