EDITORIAL: Recall process too costly

The effort to recall two North Whidbey Park and Recreation District commissioners lost some steam when Superior Court Judge Vickie Churchill announced her decision on the matter.

Churchill found a single reason to allow the recall effort to proceed, but it was not based on an offense that would shock any proponent of open government. The commissioners’ legal sin was voting to give $20,000 to the Boys and Girls Club to underwrite summer recreational programs for youth. This was apparently illegal, as the Park district had no right to give money to another agency.

On the other hand, trying to give $20,000 to the Boys and Girls Club isn’t like taking the public’s money on a gambling trip to Las Vegas. Intentions were good, but the execution was poor. The money could have been given had the proper paper work been done in advance to contract with the club for services. It’s done all the time by other Park districts. This district didn’t have the proper leadership in place to make sure it was done correctly.

The recall organization, Friends of the Pool, levied a number of other allegations against the targeted commissioners, but Judge Churchill found them all insufficient for one reason or another. Barring success in an appeal to a higher court, the group is left with the charge that the two commissioners tried to give money, in an open manner, to the Boys and Girls Club. Hardly a shocking accusation, and scant reason to continue an expensive recall campaign.

Commissioners Brien Lillquist and Janet Sabalausky, with the consent of the board, are using public money to defend themselves against the recall effort. Safe to say, it will cost thousands of dollars, either from property owners’ tax contributions or the fee kids and adults pay to swim in the pool. In either case, this is a waste of public money.

Friends of the Pool would be wise to give up the recall effort. They’ve already made a great public contribution as an effective watchdog group, and the District’s actions are under close public scrutiny. One board position is on the ballot this November. Others will follow in due time. Except in the most extreme situation, elected officials are best thrown out of office the old-fashioned way — at the ballot box.

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