Another Perspective - Recall: An abuse of democracy

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The proposed “Recall” is a bad idea because it is expensive, unjustified and circumvents the will of the majority.

Democracy has Spoken: The Majority has selected Mayor Ortiz three times in the past three years.

Democracy provides for governance by the majority of the people. Lorenzo Flores, self-proclaimed Recall organizer, argues that Mayor Ortiz does not represent the people. That is untrue. He handily won three elections in three years against many qualified candidates. One year ago, citizens had a choice between Alfonso Ortiz and Tonita Gurule-Giron for mayor.

A clear majority supported the mayor. Before that, Alfonso Ortiz received the most votes in his race against Edward Tsyitee, Chris Lopez, Jill Baskerville, Alex Tafoya, Thomas Rascon, Tonita Gurule-Giron and Bruce McAllister. Two years before that, Mayor Ortiz easily defeated Daniel Holguin and Patrick Romero.

Citizens know their candidates. The process for becoming elected takes time, and a candidate is vetted by the community during his life and the campaign. Our runoff election, provides a process that guarantees that the majority selects the mayor. In the past, one could be elected with only 35 percent of the vote. Today, only those who receive the two highest vote totals will compete against each other in a runoff. This election guarantees that the victor will receive more than 50 percent of the vote.

After several recent elections, the one choice that Las Vegans agreed upon was the selection of Alfonso Ortiz.

Recall should only occur when it is justified with serious reasons

What I find most disturbing about the recall is that there are only trivial and false reasons in support of removal.

Democracy requires that an elected official should be recalled only when there are substantial justifications. In this case, the mayor is not accused of any crime by the district attorney nor is there any scandal which is headlining the Optic.

Recall should be appropriate only when an official is charged with a felony or when he has abandoned his position. The vote of an entire community should never be disregarded without the strictest scrutiny. By law, only the following recall petition reasons should be considered:

Reason No. 1 is that the mayor did “. . . little or nothing to address the needs of the city’s youth.” The fact is that more than 500 young people were given summer jobs during the mayor’s terms. They were given the experience of earning a living and helping their family. Employers often reject those looking for a job due to no experience. These young people now have an employment resume.

Unfortunately, a recall will cost more than $25,000. That money could have been used to provide an additional 50 jobs this summer.

Reason No. 2 is that nothing has been done to address the needs of “its more impoverished residents.” The fact is that the Mayor’s “Community Initiative” has made substantial donations to organizations that help the needy. The list includes but is not limited to the Samaritan House, Big Sisters, SER, Soup Kitchens, CASA, Lions Club, Victory House, Love thy Neighbor and the Salvation Army. These are not city funds. The mayor has provided more than 7,900 meals, shoes and clothing for students; Thanksgiving and Christmas food boxes and help for individuals on the PNM cut off list.
Reason No. 3 is that the mayor has used a “high-handed approach” toward acequias. Lorenzo Flores’ accusation reflects another misunderstanding of city government. The fact is that the decisions about lawsuits and strategy are made by the entire governing body. The mayor only votes when there is a tie. Here, the mayor has made NO legal decisions regarding the acequias.

The fact is that the governing body wants to help our county neighbors. The mayor and the manager have met with the acequias and offered to mediate. The City has provided temporary water to those in the Ojitos Frios area and offers effluent water to all in need.

Reason No. 4 is that the mayor refused to sign proposed law #12-06. The fact is that the mayor strongly favors protecting our water from fracking. He vehemently disagrees with the language in that proposal, which calls for the overthrow of the United States government and its laws. Before taking office, Alfonso Ortiz swore to God, to uphold the Constitution of the United States with the following Oath: I Alfonso E. Ortiz, Jr., do solemnly swear that I will honor, defend, and obey the Constitution of the United States and its laws, the Constitution of the State of New Mexico and its laws, the City of Las Vegas and its Ordinances, and that I will faithfully discharge the duties of my office to the best of my ability, so help me God.

Attorneys describe the Community Rights proposal as a “Trojan Horse” ordinance. Outwardly it has a popular theme, (anti-fracking) but hidden within the proposal is radical anti-government language that calls for the repudiation of the Constitution. It also eliminates traditional water law and strips water rights from acequias and the Storrie Lake Water users by replacing their priority rights with equal rights now given to “ecosystems.”

Did you know that this so-called “community rights” proposal requires that the city secede from the United States if the law is challenged?   Can you imagine if the City tried to remove itself from the United States of America? The state would stop helping with our water problems and close down schools and agencies. One could no longer receive governmental benefits such as disability, retirement and workers compensation. This future may seem incredible, but one should never pass a law that threatens secession without thinking about what that implies. In sum, not only is this community rights ordinance unpatriotic because it disrespects our Constitution, it is also an insult to our veterans who sacrificed for the freedoms we have today.

The mayor would have violated his oath if he would have signed the so called Community Rights Ordinance. I congratulate Mayor Ortiz for his foresight and respect of a sacred oath. Where I come from, a man’s word is his bond and should never be broken.

The final and most important fact is that Las Vegas is in great health. The governing body works well together even though they are independent and don’t always agree. The entire Council endorsed the direction of the city when they extended the city manager’s contract. While other cities are facing bankruptcy and layoffs, the city continues to grow. Even the governor recognized Mayor Ortiz for his leadership and proactive management approach.

Bert Lance summarized his approach to government when he said: “If it ain’t broke, then don’t fix it.” The mayor and the city are doing well and a recall fix is a waste of time and money.

Dave Romero Jr. is the city attorney, but he has submitted this column as an individual and not as the city attorney. He may be reached  by email at 421x1523@gmail.com