The situation in Ferguson Missouri is obviously atrocious.
What I find astonishing is that Ferguson is roughly 68% African American, but the City Council has only one black member out of six, a white mayor, a white police chief and of the 53 police officers, only 3 are black.
How could this be? Well I note in the City Charter that municipal elections are held in April, not November. So it stands to reason that turnout in April was very low. I can't obtain election results from St. Louis county at the moment, their web site is down. So I'm guessing.
But it also appears that Missouri State law provides for the recall of municipal officials. Petitions must include the signatures of 25% of registered voters which should not be too hard to do at this point.
The Mayor and Council members serve three year terms. According to State Law, recall is possible for any official after they have been in office for 6 months. The grounds for recall are "misconduct in office, incompetence, and failure to perform duties."
Again, that standard should not be hard to meet in this situation. I've noticed the Mayor and members of Council have been virtually invisible in this ordeal. They've said almost nothing and clearly are doing nothing to reign in a police chief that is clearly out of control.
Ferguson is clearly a place that has been changing rapidly. In 1990 Ferguson was 74% white. In 2000 it was 45% white but by 2010, only 29%.
But if you look at the City's official web site, the photos tell you a very different story.
While obviously investigations of the killing of Michael Brown must go forward and hopefully justice will be done.
But the heart of this problem resides in who controls City government and the mechanism is there to change that. It seems to me its time to use it.