SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska


No Grounds For Recall
By Dan Ortiz


May 12, 2007

In response to Mr. Fitzgerald's letter entitled "Recall, It Is The Electoral Process", I submit that the author did get some facts correct, but not all of them and that is where the problem lies. It is also why the best thing to do for the community as whole is to not support the recall.

I respect both Mr. Fitzgerald and Mr. Harpold. These gentleman claim that they are supporting and protecting the political process, but an objective look at the facts does not support that conclusion.

1. Both sides of the recall issue agree that the Board acted with in their prescribed duties when they voted to remove the Superintendent from his position. Obviously, it was a difficult decision and a sizable amount of people disagreed with it. Not unlike when the former Superintendent moved to demote Mr. Eklund from his position as Principal at the high school and a majority of the former board voted to back up that decision in a 4-3 vote. That decision drew considerably more objections from the community with public testimony coming from more people, than the recent decision to remove the Superintendent. Yet the majority of the board voted the way it did, disregarding the public outcry. They were within their rights to do so, and no one moved to recall the 4 members of the board. (Mr. Harpold included).

Although I strongly disagreed with the decision, a process was followed. In the recent fall election, of the 3 board members who ran for reelection the only one who got reelected, (and for the 3rd time) was Choc Schafer, one of the 3 board members who voted not to support the Superintendents motion to demote Mr. Eklund. Perhaps the election results were at least a partial reflection of public's displeasure around that decision, perhaps not, but the point is that the proper process took place.

2. Where Mr. Fitzgerald and the committee working for the recall get it wrong, is that the stated reason for the recall is that the "board failed to perform their prescribed duties." They allege that this failure came when "the termination was carried out in bad faith, with critical information either withheld or skewed" and they contend in their second attempt with the Borough Clerk that this was done "intentionally." (Both of these things would have to be true in order for there to be grounds for recall, and remember when the Clerk accepted the second petition, she was not saying these things did happen, only that IF they did, they would be grounds for recall.)

An objective look at the facts shows neither is true. It was reported before the meeting in the March 20th edition of the Ketchikan Daily news in the article entitled "Members move to oust Martin" that Board Member Choc Schafer, (a highly respected CPA in the community,) estimated the cost to the district at $90,837 and that she had budgeted for the most we (the district) would have to spend. After the actual meeting where the board voted on the issue, the Ketchikan Daily News reported the figure to be $91,000. In fact the official budget modifications that were done as recorded in the School Board Minutes of the April 11th meeting, amounted to 76,914. Thus the board members, specifically Schafer and Eakes did in no way intentionally mislead the public in order to minimize the financial costs to the district. It just didn t happen.

3. What this whole dispute comes down to is that some people didn t like the action taken by the board when they voted to remove the Superintendent from his position. That fact is in no way a legitimate reason for recall. The proper response for any member of the recall committee or for any member of public, who thinks they can do a better job than the current members is to declare their candidacy for the Board at the normal election time. That's the process.


Dan Ortiz
Ketchikan, AK

Received May 11, 2007 - Published May 12, 2007

About: "36 year resident of Ketchikan, 24 year teacher in the Ketchikan School District. I have 3 children in the Ketchikan Public Schools."


Related Viewpoint:

letter Recall, It IS the Electoral Process! By Michael Fitzgerald - Ketchikan, AK



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