|Barich has been through recall before - just not as Councilman
There’s a recall effort going on in Cotati, in case you haven’t noticed, but history has a tendency to repeat itself.
Council member George Barich is the subject of this recall effort, but nine years ago he was on the other side of the movement. In early 2000, Barich was a leader in recall effort two Cotati Council members, Richard Cullinen and Harold Berkemeier.
“I think George’s basic ideas were the council wasn’t respecting the public’s wishes,” said Berkemeier. “It was just George being George.”
The recall effort now is based, on part, on the same idea; proponents feel Barich isn’t respecting the public’s wishes.
The two recalls are different, though. The 2000 recall did not make it to the polls, while this one is scheduled to be voted on Nov. 17.
Berkemeier said he didn’t take the 2000 recall effort seriously, mostly because it the movement only gathered about 20 signatures before it was dropped. Both he and Cullinen were in their last year on the council.
The meeting was March 8, 2000 when recall leader leader Mark Firestone “announced the formal withdrawal of the notice of intention to circulate recall petitions,” according to city records. After Firestone spoke to the council, however, Barich “was supportive of the recall campaign and mentioned allegations against certain council members.”
This clashes with an e-mail from Barich to The Community Voice, in which he says, “I advocated dropping the effort and on the record doing so.”
He added, “I never walked door to door to recall anyone in my life.”
While Berkemeier said he never took the recall effort against him personally, “I was part of the committee that started this” recall effort.
Cullinen no longer lives in Cotati and says he has no position on the current recall effort.
The 2000 effort has been a talking point for the recall movement in recent weeks, but Phil Maher of the anti-recall campaign doesn’t think it will amount to much, calling it “unnecessary.” He said, “I’m of the opinion that everybody (on the city council) should be recalled, or at least given the real solid threat of it.”
Berkemeier said the 2000 recall effort didn’t take up too much of his time, and Cullinen, too, felt little pressure from the movement. But Barich has spent time walking door-to-door speaking to constituents about the effort and holds lengthy office hours at city hall. He even has purchased advertising in local newspapers to oppose the recall.
The impetus behind the 2000 recall differs depending on who is asked. Joan Simon, a leader of the 2009 recall said, “The impetus for the recall was that they blocked Council member Pia Jensen from becoming mayor.”
Berkemeier and Cullinen suggested that, too, but added the meeting where a mayoral vote was taken (Cotati’s mayors are a council member selected by council vote each year), eight different votes were taken, and the process frustrated the council and the public.
According to the minutes of March 8, 2000, Barich “expressed concern regarding: 1) the Maple Street drainage, 2) the cost and installation of video system within city council chambers, 3) the allocation of funds for assault rifles, 4) the paving of West Cotati Avenue, 5) the termination of a former city manager, 6) open government, 7) a request for certain traffic revenues, 8) purchases related to the city police department, and 9) the recent mayoral selection process.” But he did not single out a reason for the recall effort.
One more difference of the recall efforts: In 2000, the two council members were in the last year of their terms; This is George Barich’s first year.