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This Recall Should Be Recalled

Most attempts to recall California politicians partway through their terms deservedly fail. But the number of proposed recalls has risen so dramatically that the taxpayer’s pocketbook is getting a jolt.

There is actually an initiative planned for the November ballot to deal with those that are successful. Proposition 183 would extend the time allowed between a recall and the election to fill vacant seats, allowing consolidation with a regular election to save money. The proposition refers to state officers such as governor and legislators, but the extent of the problem is exemplified by a situation in Orange County.

Three Fullerton City Council members who voted for a 2% utility tax last year were recalled in June in a glaring example of the pernicious effects of single-issue politics. The terms of two of the three would have expired in November anyway. But after winning, recall organizers went to court last week and forced a special Oct. 18 election rather than waiting. That will cost the city an estimated $117,000.

Attempted recalls can be justified in cases of criminal activity or disability. But too often they are used as a protest against one vote. Office-holders are elected to decide a variety of issues and if they deserve to be voted out, the time for a referendum on their job performance is when they are up for reelection. Reducing everything to a thumbs up or down vote undermines representative democracy.

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