Towns should take initiative to prod state into adopting recall law

Published5/8/2008 12:13 AM

How many times in recent weeks have you heard or read about "Recall?"

I guess there are about 18 states that have some form of citizen's right to remove an elected official from office.


In California several years ago, the then-sitting Gov. Gray Davis was removed and Arnold Schwarzenegger was elected. The political complexion changed from a frown to a smile. It's not perfect, but it's a lot better.

In 1980 while I was still on the village board, we had a board membership that was very sympathetic to the concerns and wishes of our citizens. So we as a board put both "recall" and a form of "citizen's initiative" on the ballot of the spring election of 1981, and they both were approved by a 65 percent to 70 percent vote of the citizens. Both are still in the Arlington Heights code, just as they were written over 25 years ago.

Because of the immense amount of corruption and political greed that exists in Illinois, especially state government, it will never be easy for the citizens to obtain the right of recall or the power to initiate or eliminate state statutes or laws unless there is a grass roots "boot strap" movement that comes from the citizens themselves.

The politicians who drafted the current Illinois Constitution made it almost impossible for the common citizen to discipline or remove elected or appointed officials for any amount of wrong doing.

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I would like to suggest that the citizens of Illinois circumvent the Illinois Constitution and go directly to the 1st Amendment of the U.S. Constitution which I believe is the far superior document.

The section I am referring to protects "the right of the people … to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

So now, how to fix it? I would use Arlington Heights as a Leadership Community. It already has "recall" and a form of citizens initiative statutes. I suggest Arlington Heights communicate with California, requesting copies of their recall and citizens initiative statutes and get their permission to use them.

Then, even though the California statutes are more appropriate for a state, the village board could adopt them as written, place them in the Arlington Heights Code then advise all other communities in Illinois that we have adopted the California statutes and that if they wished to join the recall and initiative movement -- each community both big and small (even Chicago) could adopt the same ordinances in their Municipal Code.

I estimate that are a little over 700 communities in Illinois. Imagine what pressure there would be on the General Assembly if just 500 of these communities sent a very clear message to the legislature that the citizens as a whole want the unquestioned power of "recall" and "citizens binding initiative." I put citizen's initiative in there simply because it could be far more important and rewarding than recall.


For example the state of Illinois just recently prohibited smoking. Had we as citizens had the authority of binding initiative, smoking would have been prohibited some 15 or 20 years ago, again just like California.

In closing, it takes leadership, I mean real leadership, from communities like Arlington Heights, Palatine, Mount Prospect and many more to find some way for the citizens of the state to be able to officially recall any elected or appointed official and to officially enact, remove or change governmental laws that may be corrupt in themselves or may contribute to the corruption of government as it is now established in Illinois.

Believe me -- having a government that is considered the fourth most corrupt state in all of the 50 states is a very serious grievance and must be redressed.

This is something to consider and act on now, not next month or next year, now! The two issues must be placed on the ballot of the general election of Nov, 4, 2008.

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