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Reserve recall efforts for misconduct
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A recent recall effort launched against Sen. Dale Schultz, R-Richland Center, is all about politics and little about good government.

Those affiliated with the conservative group, Citizens for a Responsible Government Network, are targeting Schultz for recall because of the long-time legislator's opposition to the recent mining bill that would have allowed a Florida company to open a large open iron mine in northern Wisconsin. Also targeted is Sen. Bob Jauch, D-Poplar, who represents the area where the mine would be sited and led the Democratic opposition to the bill.

Backers of the bill cited the number of jobs the mine would create, while opponents charged the mine would destroy one of the last pristine areas in the state. When the bill bogged down in the state Senate, Schultz broke party ranks and opposed the bill because, he said, it didn't provide enough environmental protections. He and Jauch teamed to offer a compromise, which GOP leadership refused, instead offering up their own concessions. Schultz wouldn't budge, Gogebic Taconite pulled back from the project and the bill died when the Senate adjourned two weeks ago.

Now, Schultz - who conservative Republicans call too moderate and too willing to compromise - is being threatened with recall for breaking party lines. Dan Curran of Dodgeville filed the paperwork with the state Government Accountability Board Monday, March 19, allowing him to create a committee to begin the recall process; organizers will need to collect 14,545 signatures in order to recall Schultz.

It's no coincidence the recall effort comes now, when Democrats and Republicans are battling for control of the Senate chamber: The GOP lost its one-person majority recently when Sen. Pam Galloway, herself facing a recall this spring, resigned her post. Now the Senate is split 16-16 with one open seat. Schultz has broken party lines before, including last spring over Gov. Scott Walker's bill limiting collective bargaining and again this spring when he sided with Democrats over wind farm rules. He's a loose canon in the eyes of GOP stalwarts.

For his part, Schultz seems to be taking the recall threat in stride, saying that recalls are a "sign of the times. All legislators accept them as a fact of life now."

That's a dangerous reality. A recall is an important safety valve to protect us from gross abuse or misconduct by an official before his or her term is up. But using recalls for political payback or other unjustifiable causes undermines our lawmakers' independence and opens the door for further manipulation by well-monied special interest groups.

It's just not good government. Whether or not you agree with Schultz's stand on the mining bill, there's no indication he's engaged in any abuse of power or misconduct while in office. Voters who disagree with his voting record, on this or other issues, should remember that when his term is up in another two years and make their wishes known then.

Many of our online readers seem to agree. We asked in our online poll last week if the recall against Schultz was warranted. While online polls are far from scientific, it does cast light on the thoughts of those who responded. Of the 506 votes recorded, 76 percent said the recall was not warranted.

Let's hope that sentiment bears out throughout his district and constituents reject this recall effort.