Is being mean an impeachable offense?
He was duly elected from a sea of candidates in November, but the honeymoon didn’t last long.
He was criticized for being crude, even vulgar at times. He’s been called a bully, and accused of abusing the power of his office while also overstepping its authority.
And now, less than a year into his term, some of the people who elected him want him gone.
Oddly enough though, I’m not talking about a distant, far-off, orange-haired president, although most of what I previously stated does apply to him as well.
No, I’m referring to a guy named Tony Peterson. Unless you live in Tracy, or follow the actions of its city council, you have probably never heard of him.
He was elected to the Tracy Council in November of last year from a deep pool of candidates … 13 to be exact, which is a story in and of itself.
With that many candidates for three seats, votes were scattered throughout and as a result, Peterson was chosen by only 13 percent of voters.
Usually, when 2,426 ballots are cast, receiving only 338 is a recipe for disaster. With 13 candidates though, Peterson not only was elected, but finished in a comfortable second place.
As mentioned though, not all has gone well since that election. Peterson has sparred with the public and city employees alike. He’s been largely blamed for harassing the previous city administrator until she quit a couple months ago.
And as a result, Tracy voters will return to the polls Feb. 13 to again decide if Peterson should sit on the city council.
Ironically, the same weird math that got Peterson elected may also doom him in the recall. While getting elected with just 13 percent of public support is unusual, the reality is that means 87 percent of voters, or more than 2,000 people, didn’t want him in office.
To get the recall on the ballot, only 130 signatures were needed, or less than 10 percent of those who didn’t want Peterson elected in the first place. And if the same 2,400 people vote in the recall, supporters would only need about 60 percent (1,200) of the people who voted against Peterson in the first election to essentially vote against him again.
In other words, he was popular enough to get elected, but potentially, unpopular enough that for every person who wants him on the council, there are seven that don’t.
But that’s the nuances and framework established by state law. While Peterson’s critics and their cause may benefit from some relaxed numerical standards, it’s hard to fault them as they are using the tools made available to them.
However, while it is possible, should something as drastic as a removal from office be warranted?
A very similar discussion, although in more hushed tones, is taking place in Washington, D.C. As the Russia investigation continues, and more people close to Trump either face charges or plead guilty to them, the word “impeachment” becomes more prevalent.
In all fairness though, Trump’s critics, of which there are a plenty, started those discussions before he even walked into the Oval Office, and his braggadocio, vulgar tweets, and “unpresidential” behavior (whatever that is) has done nothing to temper their efforts.
And that’s where Trump and Peterson’s political plights intersect. I don’t know either man, but if in fact they are rude, crude, vulgar bullies, I’m willing to bet they were the same person before they got elected. Nothing about who they are has changed.
A lot of politicians have been removed from office for a lot of reasons, but frequently, it is because they did something really wrong, most likely of a criminal nature. Being a bully isn’t illegal but harassment is, which Peterson is accused. However, that can be hard to define or prove as one person’s harassment is another person’s coaching or constructive criticism.
As for Trump, maybe the Russian investigation will prove otherwise, but at this time, he really isn’t guilty of anything more than bad taste.
Bad taste, being crude, vulgar or a bully can have serious political consequences. Usually, it prevents a candidate from being elected, although that is starting to change.
I’m anticipating we see more and more candidates embrace the “Trumpian” approach of being standoffish and rude not only to the press and their opponents, but constituents as well.
And in Minnesota at least, we can probably expect voters to use their state-granted “nevermind” option and undo what they did, or at least who they elected.
Call it voter’s remorse.