On March 15, Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Alvarez got the boot, with almost nine out of ten county voters (88 percent) agreeing to get rid of him. The Miami Herald calls the event “the largest recall of a local politician in U.S. history.” Brandon Holmes of Citizens in Charge calls it “the most significant recall election since California ousted former governor Gray Davis in 2003.”
Alvarez was shown the door for larding aides with hefty pay raises (from $185,484 to $206,783, for his chief of staff) and increasing the salaries of other county employees while hiking property taxes 18 percent in the name of preventing layoffs. Meanwhile, the mayor tooled around town in a taxpayer-subsidized BMW Gran Turismo.
It all seemed like a racket, hardly consistent with the clean-up-government platform on which Alvarez had campaigned. The mayor showed further contempt for voters when he tried to stop the recall vote, twice going to court to block it. It also didn’t help when reports surfaced that the mayor had granted paid leaves to a dozen transit workers, at least one of whom used the time to campaign against the recall effort.
Pundits often describe elections as a referendum on the incumbent. They are, but only partly. Voters everywhere need the power to hold an instant referendum on incumbents who have disastrously demonstrated their incompetence or rapacity. Sometimes these guys need to be stopped in their tracks.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.