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OPINION: A ballot is the purest form of democratic process

June 15th, 2017 | David E. Bitterman Print this article   Email this article  

While driving in town I have noticed several signs along the road urging Homer's voters to come to the polls on June 13 to uphold the free speech rights of the three Homer city council persons who are subject of a recall effort. I find these signs curious for many reasons:

1. A judge has already ruled that the recall, and its underlying causes, are not a free speech issue.

2. I do not believe that anyone supporting the recall believes that a private citizen does not have the right to free speech as a prescribed by the United States Constitution. However it should be pointed out that the three council persons were not speaking as private citizens, but rather as elected officials. The speech of elected officials, in the Alaska State Constitution, and the bylaws of the Homer city council are restricted in certain areas, including that of speech in a purely political activity or manner.

3. For me the recalls is about: (1) whether the three council persons violated their oath of office by engaging in purely political activity while representing all citizens of Homer and; (2) Whether the three council persons lied to the public while in session. Both are reasons dismissal under the code of ethics prescribed in city ordinances.

I find it especially intriguing that the three council persons and their supporters now want to clothe themselves in the Constitution after initially attempting to ignore some of the very bedrock of the Constitution. Namely the form of election of the president and the obligation of states and cities to abide by and uphold federal law.

The method of election for the president is found in Article II of the Constitution and the 12th Amendment to the Constitution, which prescribes election by the electoral college and not a popular vote. President Trump lost the popular vote, but won the electoral college. He was constitutionally elected, end of story. However, this group does not want to accept that and the proof is in the reading of the original resolution document which for the most part is a rant against the election of Donald Trump with a call to make Homer a sanctuary city as a short resolution at the end.

Article VI establishes the Constitution and federal law as the "supreme law of the land" and makes state and local law inferior to it. In other words, the states and other governmental entities below the federal level have the duty and obligation to uphold and obey federal law.

One of the provisions of the so called "inclusivity resolution" was for local authorities to "resist" certain federal laws. Obstruct is a synonym for resist and obstruction of legal authority is itself a violation of law.

So, in effect, if passed, the resolution would have made it the policy of the city of Homer to violate laws that they do not like or consider unfair which is again contrary to provisions of the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the State of Alaska.

If you do not like a law, petition those with the authority to change it to do so. You do not have the right to simply ignore or disobey. And city government certainly does not have the right to obstruct any law.

After the council meeting where the resolution was discussed I was deeply concerned that I could not rely on these three council persons to honestly represent me. In session, they used outright lies and sophistry to claim the resolution was not a sanctuary city resolution when their emails and the intent of the resolution clearly indicated otherwise. In fact, their e-mail clearly stated that it was a "sanctuary city" resolution calling it such on numerous occasions. The language was changed after the original document was revealed to the public, but its intent never changed.

Since this resolution was advanced the city of Homer has been deeply divided. People I thought were friends no longer talk to me because I do not agree. The courts have been engaged, and trust has been lost. Apparently, you can only be included if you agree with this group.

So be it. I have spent my entire adult life "supporting and defending the Constitution of the United States of America." I took an oath to do so over 40 years ago and it is still in force. It is the obligation of all voters to decide these issues and in fact a ballot to recall is the purest form of democratic process. It takes the simple question. Can we still trust these officials to honestly do our bidding?

David E. Bitterman lives in Homer.


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