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How to make Gold Hill work

The troubled city needs outside help, not another recall or two

Mail Tribune archives are stuffed with stories about recall efforts in Gold Hill. And not just in the past couple of years, since a dispute involving the police chief has festered publicly.

No, it's been forever, or at least it feels that way. Let's revisit just a few headlines:

1994: Gold Hill council recall to appear on ballot.

1996: Gold Hill voters recall mayor.

1997: Another recall begins in Gold Hill. 1999: Gold Hill council members survive recall.

2004: Gold Hill readies for council recall ballot.

Now here we are in 2006. Three Gold Hill council members defeated a recall attempt on Tuesday, and one, at least, said he felt vindicated by the vote.

Anyone would.

But relief at the continued workings of City Hall tend to be short-lived in Gold Hill. You might get by with it this week, but what about next week? Or next year?

There's more for council members and the mayor to consider here than that they made it through another crisis: That's how to make the city work without almost falling apart every few months.

The current dustup, a tangled dispute that originated with how the police chief does his job another popular subject of controversy in Gold Hill, and not just with this chief, somehow ballooned into many months of name-calling and threats.

Who was right, who was wrong, who was lying, who wasn't handling his job or her job correctly: The drama took over these people's lives, and some were hurt.

It should go without saying that city government hasn't been exactly a well-oiled machine, what with all the soap-opera drama going on.

Now that the latest recall has failed, Gold Hill sits at a point of opportunity, a time when it can and should sit down and figure out how to go forward.

Regardless of the merits or problems of the council members targeted for recall this week, we find it hard to believe that a city of 1,000 residents has so many problem leaders it needs to try to recall someone every year or two.

This isn't about a lemon in the mix. It's about finding a new way to do business. Gold Hill needs outside help, the services of a small-government consultant or a professional mediator.

It can't just be someone who will talk. It needs to be someone city leaders will listen to, someone who can motivate them to be honest about their problems, someone to help them find a way to make Gold Hill work.