Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Recall petition based on lies

It's one thing to disagree with the actions or decisions of elected officials. It's quite another to try to dislodge them from office by using a pack of lies.

Yet an outspoken opponent of the proposed Warm Springs Ranch Resort, Anne Corrock, has launched a campaign to recall Ketchum Mayor Randy Hall on trumped up charges of violating the law.

Her recall petition alleges that the mayor violated the law five different ways, charges that are demonstrably untrue.

The petition alleges that Hall doubled his own salary. This is a lie.

Idaho law requires salaries of elected city officials to be set by the city council, which must do so 75 days before an election. That gives the electorate a chance to weigh in on the matter if increases are excessive and prevents newly elected officials from lining their own pockets the day after they take office.

In fact, the Ketchum City Council doubled Hall's salary and increased its own last year as prescribed by law. Hall now makes the princely sum of $3,000 a month for which he copes with wealthy lawyers, developers and residents.

The petition alleges that Hall failed to operate city finances within an established budget ordinance.

Hall does not have the power to singlehandedly change a budget, and he has not. That said, city budgets can be and are reopened by city councils to reallocate funds as a year goes on. However, the overall budget may not be increased.

The petition alleges that Hall held retreats with members of the City Council outside of Ketchum and Blaine County. This is true, but the retreats were duly noticed to the public and the press was invited. Ketchum and Sun Valley have both held retreats outside their respective cities without violating the law.

The petition alleges further that Hall failed to listen to the electorate and engaged in "a general abuse of power."

The meaning of "a general abuse of power" is unclear and in any case, it's not illegal.

If it means that Hall delivered on his promises to move the city ahead on downtown redevelopment, housing, transportation and burying power lines, then count him guilty of keeping his promises and acting like a leader, not a placeholder. If it means that in his spare time, he helped guide the city through last summer's Castle Rock Fire, guilty again.

As for failure to listen to the electorate, under Hall's leadership, the city has gone to great lengths to include the public in overhauling the downtown development plan, creating the Fourth Street pedestrian corridor and pondering proposed hotel projects.

Ketchum voters should give the recall petition proper treatment. They should ball it up and throw it away.

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