Written by Mark Eitrem
Whether the campaign is successful or not is really not relevant. What is relevant is the question of why we are looking at this situation in the first place.
One need only remember our Mayor’s comments to members various members of the community in the last six or seven months. For some unknown reason, abusing or ignoring other public officials seems to be an acceptable modus operandi. What gave the Mayor the right to threaten citizens (read customers), call them names, or to chastise them for doing what they think is right? Is the Mayor that benevolent that we should all just follow him like blind sheep? Or should we, as a thriving representative democracy, expect our elected officials to answer to all of us, not just those that contributed to the election campaign? I wonder know how many citizens that voted for this Mayor are sorry they did? I guess we’ll find out soon enough.
After having experienced the Mayor’s arrogance first hand, I am left with no doubt that sending him a very strong message is truly justified. If he continues to ignore the message, then we must ramp it up until he does. Obviously, the messengers are not going away any time soon and neither is their message.
The Mayor’s continued ambivalence is not winning his critics over, nor is barring city employees from expressing their opinions via online polls help to positively change their minds. The question of whether or not the Mayor deserves to be recalled is clearly one of personal choice. The fact that a recall is even a viable option is tragic. However, now that we are here, we must ask ourselves if this Mayor is the type of person we want to represent us? Does he share our values? Does he possess the knowledge, skills, abilities or attitudes necessary to help move Lansing forward? If the answer is "no" to any of these questions, then recalling him is something to be considered.
As we move closer to the point of making a decision, I would ask each of you to consider another option. A close look at the management of our neighboring communities may provide the city of Lansing with a best practice free of the animosity, arrogance and politics seen today. Many of these cities have City Managers, hired and fired by their respective city councils. These cities have already learned what Lansing hasn’t yet figured out. Taking care of the citizens (read customers) does not have to be divisive, abusive, or rife with malfeasance. When one group of customers is pitted against another, everybody loses. City Managers operate their cities based on the best interest of all, not the isolated interest of campaign contributors.
I hope the Mayor is listening, and I hope he gets the message. If not, he’ll never be able to create the legacy he seeks. And if he doesn’t listen, his only legacy will be that of a recall. The citizens of Lansing must evaluate the winners and losers thus far in our Mayor’s tenure. Are the only clear winners thus far the property developers and business people that live outside the city limits? Are the losers the people that actually live and work here? If either is the case, then maybe we should do what is necessary to convince our Mayor that his priorities are upside down. And then again, maybe we should rewrite the City Charter and eliminate the problem permanently?