Los Angeles City Councilman Mike Bonin was handed a recall notice on Tuesday at his Mar Vista home, becoming the latest of dozens of recall efforts sweeping the state in the past year and the second against a Los Angeles City Council member in the last week.
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According to Recall Bonin 2021, the group behind the recall bid, the notice and recall effort were formulated due to years of alleged inactivity and broken promises from Bonin since his election to the City Council for the 11th district in 2013. Specifically, it names the homeless crisis, public safety situation, and the trash buildup in the city and in his district, which covers many high profile neighborhoods such as Brentwood, Pacific Palisades, and Venice, as the main factors for his recall.
“Since he was first elected to represent the citizens and residents of Los Angeles City Council District 11 in 2013, Councilman Mike Bonin’s history of broken promises, terrible and counter-productive public policy proposals, and unwillingness to listen or take action to represent the interests of the people and communities of the westside of Los Angeles have had devastating consequences,” noted the recall group’s website. “Under Mike Bonin’s watch, the humanitarian crisis of the homeless population is growing exponentially. Tax payer money is squandered. Fires. Struggling local businesses. Crime is rampant and rising. Neighborhoods and schools are unsafe. We feel afraid to visit public beaches and community parks.
“After seven years of this self-serving incumbent career politician, we have had enough, and we can’t wait any longer.”
The now live recall petition was more succinct, stating that “our streets have become de facto campgrounds, sanitation policies are failing, crime is rising and Mike Bonin remains unresponsive.”
Bonin railed against the recall bid on Tuesday, saying that a recall election would be a waste of taxpayer money and that those behind it are “right-wing” residents who have fought against homeless initiatives and other social programs in the past.
“This is only the latest in a series of recall attempts to silence strong progressive voices,” said Bonin in a statement on Tuesday. “The recall is backed by people who have repeatedly fought to stop housing, shelter and services, leaving people to die on the streets. This recall has been championed and promoted by the same right-wing forces that are trying to erode the democratic process and take down progressive officials around the state.
“It’s an extravagant waste of taxpayer money. A recall election, held right before regularly scheduled city elections, would be a waste of millions of dollars of taxpayer money — dollars that could be better invested in addressing our homelessness crisis and providing essential services to help families and improve neighborhoods.”
However, supporters struck back at the assertions by Bonin on Tuesday and Wednesday, noting that many who signed have not been against homeless initiatives in the area but area more concerned with homeless encampments in the area and the worsening of the problem since Bonin came into office. They also noted that Republicans, Democrats, and independents alike have joined in on the recall, with three of the five people signing the recall notice given to Bonin on Tuesday being Democrats.
“The recall is not ‘right-wing forces’ coming after Mike Bonin,” said recall co-chairwoman Katrina Schmitt. “We are a nonpartisan campaign of multipartisan residents including many people who voted for Bonin.”
The latest recall effort progressing in California this year
While recalls in Los Angeles have been few and far between, with the last big efforts prior to the pandemic having been 2017 efforts against City Councilmen Paul Krekorian and Bonin, and the last successful recall occurring in 1938 when Mayor Frank Shaw was ousted from power, pandemic and post-pandemic politics have led to a large wave of recalls since last year.
“The pandemic brought a lot of worsening conditions and restrictions due to tightened budgets and efforts to stop the coronavirus from spreading,” California recall researcher Elizabeth Chang told the Globe on Wednesday. “After Newsom’s effort gained steam and ultimately prevailed in getting a recall election, efforts have also shot up, similar to the huge number of recall attempts across the state in 2003 after the recall effort against [then-Governor Gray] Davis succeeded.”
“There have been a lot of attempts started by citizens in years past that never really got anywhere because the reasons varied a lot and people just didn’t get that mad. The ones that did succeed, such as Senator Josh Newman being recalled in 2018, succeeded only because there was a uniting issue that made people furious. For Newman, the big thing was the gas tax increase. For those two Santa Cruz City Councilmembers last year it was workplace misconduct and wanting to close a homeless shelter with no replacement. For Judge Aaron Persky up in Santa Clara County in 2018 it was giving a rapist in a nationally covered case a very light sentence.”
“Now people are a lot more energized and, after months at home and having seen everything going wrong and lawmakers at all levels seemingly doing nothing to stop all sorts of things from happening, a lot more people are upset. Upset enough to sign petitions. Upset enough to donate to recall efforts. And, as many are hoping, upset enough to vote them out.”
Recall efforts have swept through California since late 2020, with many starting to call 2021 “The Year of the Recall.” Recalls have ranged from the high-profile effort against Governor Gavin Newsom, to District Attorneys such as San Francisco DA Chesa Boudin to Bodin’s fellow City Councilmember Nithya Raman who had just been given her recall notice last week.
Bonin is due to run in 2022 for a final term as city councilman. The recall signature gathering against Bodin will likely begin in July, with supporters needing just over 27,000 signatures within 120 days to qualify for the ballot.
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