Why Wait for a Recall?

You may have read a few weeks ago about Ken Livingstone, the mayor of London, being suspended for making an offensive comment. He likened a ...
by | March 14, 2006

You may have read a few weeks ago about Ken Livingstone, the mayor of London, being suspended for making an offensive comment. He likened a Jewish journalist to a concentration camp guard -- a remark the Adjudication Panel for England ruled was "unnecessarily insensitive," and so an abuse of his office.

Now comes word from Argentina that Anibal Ibarra, the mayor of Buenos Aires, has been removed from office by a two-thirds vote of the city council. Ibarra's offense had to do with a nightclub fire in 2004 that left 194 people dead. Ibarra wasn't accused of having anything to do with the fire -- investigators still have no one to blame for that. His sin was quite different. Ibarra's offense was failing to end a culture of bribery, inefficiency and corruption that led to poor performances by safety inspectors, firefighters and emergency medical personnel. A headline on The Economist's account reads, "The capital's mayor pays for a bureaucracy's sins." Now that's an interesting concept. Should honchos be held accountable for the sins of their underlings -- in between election seasons, that is? I've looked through the agenda of the National League of Cities meeting this week in Washington for panels on the importation of either of these ideas -- ousting top officials for broad government failures, or having them suspended by quasi-autonomous boards for political incorrectness. But so far, my search seems to have been in vain.