What We Learned!
The recall of Mayor LaToya Cantrell is like that hazardous train derailment in Ohio. Like train derailment, the resulting damage is not only confusing and troubling but potentially catastrophic. People in Ohio wonder if they can safely continue to live in their homes. Same for New Orleanians.
In Ohio the Norfolk Southern train pulling 50 carloads of hazardous materials derailed. The derailment caused an evacuation and massive cleanup of the tens of thousands of tons of contaminated soil. Investigators are trying to figure out what went wrong and how to prevent it from happening again. In New Orleans, Belden “Noonie Man” Batiste and Eileen Cater barreled through city hall and dropped off tens of thousands of recall signatures. Each is hazardous to the mayor’s tenure. The New Orleans Registrar of Voters must investigate and confirm each individual signature. But in both cases, the people are confused and troubled.
The government response in each case is at best questionable. In Ohio, people want to know if is truly safe to return to their homes. In New Orleans, people are concerned about their right to vote being taken away. And in each case, government leaders ask the public to trust them. In Ohio they claim that the removed soil is the only toxic material. In New Orleans, the Secretary of State magically removed but not actually removed 25,000 voters from the rolls. This was a part of a settlement in a case brought by the recall organizers. They seemed to have rightfully claimed that local Registrar of Voters, Sabrina Wilson has not properly done her job. Dead people on the rolls and people who moved out of the parish. The judge in the case agreed with the settlement and signed it to approve the Secretary of State’s magic.
Related: Where We Are With the Recall
Oh and Judge Jennifer Medley signs lots of things. Nola.com revealed she also signed to have the mayor recalled. Curiously she did not sign the paperwork to recuse herself from the legal proceedings where she certainly has a built-in bias. At least it appears that way. Judges have specific rules that govern their behavior. And judges must not only be impartial but appear impartial. This rule for judges is appropriate.
“A judge shall respect and comply with the law and shall act at all times in a manner that promotes public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary.”
Any impartiality is hard to discern in this case. Frankly, how can any judge who signed the paperwork to recall the mayor preside over any case about recalling the mayor?
But like the scattered train cars in Ohio, the local Registrar of Voters just left the boxes of recall signatures unattended at the front counter in her office. Anybody might have come and removed 5,000 signatures. The Registrar has been conspicuous by her absence. The lackadaisical and unsophisticated approach to the evidence is disturbing. How have the boxes in the back been handled? We know nothing about the counting process. Both sides deserve a fair and impartial count process. And most importantly, the citizens need to know with certainty that the signatures were properly preserved and accurately counted. As oversight, the press should be in the room or rooms where the signatures are being handled. Can we trust the recall process?
Secrecy on both sides
Both the recall organizers and every level of government involved so far operates in secrecy. Given the lack of transparency from government officials, the recall organizers are smart to play their cards close to the vest. But we deserve a clean and unencumbered recall process. But what we have learned through this is that the Secretary of State trivializes voting records. He just picked a number and declared it so. These are supposed to be official records. The count should be accurate by at least 6o days. People die every day and the records have to be delivered to the Secretary of State. The local registrar is equally culpable. Her approach to record keeping lacks security and regulation. Can we trust the recall process?
Need clean process!
Whether you are for or against the recall, the whole process has to be troubling. From unguarded boxes, and a one-sided judge, to inaccurate voting records, and lack of proper oversight, the monumental and historic work by the recall organizers might be all for naught. If the Registrar indicates enough signatures, the settlement by Kyle Ardoin’s office is a problem. Surely Mayor Cantrell will sue about the suddenly reduced numbers needed. And if that lawsuit happens lighting fast and is in the recall’s favor, the impartial actions of the Judge Medley is another suit waiting to happen. Also, the secrecy of the Registrar is puzzling. The people want to know and have a right to know.
If the Registrar claims fewer than the recall people, those unattended boxes are a problem. The recall organizers will claim stolen signatures. And they will sue for a recount. Maybe the recall organizers have other signatures. Are they still collecting and back dating signatures? Without a firm number from the recall organizers, we really don’t know. Without proper safeguards at the Registrars office, who can say?
Can we trust the recall process? This whole recall has been mismanaged at every level by all parties involved. This is a train wreck. Ask the people in Ohio how things are going!