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legislation;' and this has stopped recall movements in some cases, and has very probably prevented them entirely in others.
While the constitutional amendment was yet before the people for adoption, the recall of a member of the city council of Portland was discussed, to be attempted if the amendment should be adopted. But apparently the first serious attempt to recall an officer was made in Medford the next month after the amendment was adopted. This was blocked by a decision of the circuit court holding that the amendment is not operative without additional legislation. The next year the mayor of Junction City, and the mayor and all the councilmen of Estacada ? were recalled. In the same year the recall of the mayor and three members of the city council of Union was prevented only by these officers' going “through a regular routine of resigning and electing themselves to other offices.3 In 1910 the mayor of Ashland was subjected to a recall election, but the election resulted in his favor. In 1911 a member of the city council of Portland was recalled by the voters of his ward. Thus only four recall elections have actually been held, but in three of those the officers have been recalled. If the affair at Union
1 One judge of the circuit court has held that the amendment is not operative without additional legislation, and another judge of that court has maintained the contrary view. The assistant attorney early held that the amendment is self-operative, but the attorney general later decided that additional legislation is required to allow its operation.
: This was the result according to the actual returns. But the canvassers—the recalled officers-denied the legality of the election (they and their followers generally had therefore not participated in the election), and refused to canvass the returns. The decision of the court in mandamus proceedings brought to compel such canvass was delayed until it became useless by the intervention of the regular municipal election. At that time all the recalled officers stood for reëlection and were all defeated.
: After the recall petition was filed the mayor resigned and was elected recorder by the council. One of the councilmen named in the recall petition resigned and was elected mayor by the council. The other two councilmen concerned resigned and were reëlected by the council. By this process a recall election at the time was avoided. And any further attack was prevented, because the date of the regular election came within the six months' exemption period which followed. “So you can see how easy it is to avoid the recall if the people interested will work together," said one of those who worked together in this case. At the regular election the whole ticket which these officers represented-some of them stood for reëlection-was defeated on the recall issue.
is included as practically a recall, the officers have been deposed in four out of five instances. All of the officers have been municipal officers. All of the municipalities except Portland are small, the largest containing about five thousand people, and the smallest about four hundred. Many more or less serious attempts have been made in other cases to recall officers, including mayors, members of city councils, a member of a board of education, an assessor, county commissioners,4 a district attorney, a circuit judge, a municipal judge—the list is necessarily incomplete; but for one reason or another elections in these cases have not resulted. Further, mere threats are often made to recall officers, which nobody takes seriously.
“The judiciary is not so intimately associated with the daily life of the average voter as is the municipal administration.
The public usually is less interested in court decisions than it is in the acts of governors, legislators, mayors and city councilmen. The recall club is shaken over minor officers every few days.
Experience teaches that if anyone needs protection from the abuse of the recall it is the short term servant of the people whose acts are more intimately within the knowledge of the people than the acts of the judiciary."
Neither in the cases in which the officers were recalled nor in that in which the officer was sustained in the election do the reasons for the demand as stated in the recall petitions disclose all the motives nor always the chief motive for the demand. In one case where it was charged in the petition that the officer was inefficient, immoral, untruthful, and arbitrary in the exercise of his authority, a motive which was influential at least to some extent was the hostility of certain property owners caused by the officer's action in opening streets which they had illegally closed. In one of the bitterest campaigns the petition asserted that the officials had managed the affairs of the city in an unsatisfactory manner, illegally diverted public funds, repudiated the city debt, etc. But the real cause of the recall movement was simply a factional fight waged by two banks and their
• County judges have been included with commissioners, but only in their administrative capacity.
respective supporters which had divided the city against itself ever since the second bank was organized, and which ceased later only with the merger of the two banks. When the petition charged a mayor with incompetency, improper expenditure for street improvements, unwarranted removal of a city employee, and favoritism in committee appointments, the real ground of the agitation seems to have been opposition to his progressive policy in regard to public improvements. Where the petition stated simply that a councilman did not “faithfully and efficiently represent” the interests of his ward and city, the motives behind the recall were various. The officer had been inconsiderate in dealing with some of his constituents who desired his influence in securing certain action by the council. He had fathered an ordinance deemed by the labor unions prejudicial to their interests, and he was opposed by their adherents on this account. Their candidate won in the recall election. Further, the councilman had advocated the location of a sewer outlet in a certain locality and had thus aroused the opposition of some property owners. One of these was a candidate at the recall election. The councilman had also incurred the enmity of a corporation attorney by charging the latter with an attempt to bribe him to drop some legislation detrimental to the interests of the company. The attorney was very active against the officer in the recall campaign. It was also claimed that several corporations which had suffered from legislation originating with this officer were partly responsible for his defeat. In another case where unsatisfactory administration, diversion of public funds, needless expenditures, abuse of the emergency clause in the enactment of ordinances, impairment of the public credit, etc., were alleged in the petition as the reasons for demanding the recall, the movement was really the outcome of a struggle between those who opposed and those who favored the stringent enforcement of the prohibition law. The officers attacked represented the “temperance” ticket which had won at the preceding election.
It appears that some of the charges stated in the petitions in these cases could be substantiated but that others could not.
On the whole it would seem that the recall action was not justified in more than one or two of the cases. However, it is going too far to conclude, as has been maintained here to some extent, that this experience with the recall has shown it to be merely an instrument of personal or factional spite.
The more or less serious recall movements which have begun but which have failed to result in elections—the evidence here is in most cases very fragmentary-have been based on a variety of grounds: against mayors, on charges of neglect of the interests of a particular district of a city, of an “open town” policy, of presence in a bar room after legal hours; of failure to enforce city ordinances against vice, extravagant expenditure of public funds without accounting therefor, etc.; a councilman, on charge of having ceased to reside in his ward, although the real cause was probably that he voted to license a hotel bar, and there was hope of electing as his successor one who would favor a “dry” town; another councilman, on the charge of incompetency, disregard of the wishes of his constituents, arbitrary and unreasonable action, personal interest in certain franchises, and having ceased to reside in his ward, although his activity in the removal of some officers really started the recall movement (one of the deposed officers aided in circulating the recall petition); another councilman, more than once, for refusal to aid some of his constituents in securing certain desired local improvements at the hands of the council; another, because of his official opposition to the widening and extension of a certain street; another, for voting for a public utility franchise in opposition to a demand for municipal ownership of that utilityö; councilmen, for voting for a “blanket” franchise; on the charge of holding up certain improvements, delay in submitting a new charter, excessive taxation, etc.; a mayor and councilmen, for granting a certain franchise-"a record steal,” it was charged; a member of a school board, because of his activity in locating a school building contrary to the desires of certain petitioners and in
• A councilman reports that an agent of a corporation threatened to circulate recall petitions against him with the aid of the many employees of the company unless he dropped certain proposed legislation hostile to the interests of the company.
retaining, also contrary to the desire of petitioners, a teacher who had dismissed some students for disorderly conduct (the father of one of these students managed the circulation of the recall petition); an assessor, on charges of incompetency, unequal assessment, and casting aspersions upon the motives of tax-payers protesting at a public meeting against his assessments and attempting to intimidate them (the assessor's strictness in the way of full valuation as required by law was apparently the first cause of the trouble); county commissioners, on charges of incompetence, ignoring the express choice of the majority of the tax-payers in the appointment of road supervisors, and squandering money in unscientific road construction, contrary to a plan submitted by tax-payers which would have reduced the tax levy (the increase of the county tax levy and the failure to care for certain roads seem to have been the greatest grievances); because their new organization of road construction took considerable authority from road supervisors, and perhaps because of enmity created by the removal of a supervisor; because residents of one district disapproved of the commissioners' improvement of roads in another; on charges of wasteful expenditure of public funds, failure to publish some claims allowed against the county, and giving county work in return for political favors, with an additional charge against one commissioner of buying supplies as a private dealer and selling them to the county at greatly increased prices, and forcing county employees to trade at his store (it is claimed that political enmity was back of the recall movement); a county commissioner, for accepting road improvements not coming up to the specifications of the contract (he was believed to be financially interested in the contract); a district attorney, on charges of unfitness for office, use of his office for personal and political ends, discrimination between rich and poor, protection of gambling houses and saloons in their violation of the law, etc.—apparently well founded. Here is a mixture of motives, good and bad.
Soon after the recall amendment was adopted there was some talk of recalling a circuit judge because of his decision sustain