SANTA CRUZ — Angry peace protesters at City Hall displayed a realistic-looking, oversized layoff notice for President Bush on Tuesday, advising him to "vacate your office in 24 hours."
The 80 protesters, waving pink slips, are part of a local movement that wants the City Council to be first in America to pass a resolution not only seeking to impeach Bush, but to clean house at the White House.
"We want a resolution from the city to impeach Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Ashcroft, Powell, Wolfowitz and Condoleeza Rice," said Sherry Conable, active in the impeachment movement. She and others also want the City Council to beef up a local resolution opposing the U.S. Patriot Act, by directing the city government not to cooperate with its provisions.
Robert Nahas, one of the organizers, said he’d gathered more than 200 pro-impeachment signatures on Saturday while downtown, and urged the council to "protect us from the crimes of the federal government."
One protester, Louis LaFortune, even stripped down to a "pink slip," as in a pink nightie, while addressing the City Council about impeachment.
Protesters will have to wait, however, because the City Council, deep in budget-slashing sessions, has yet to take action on the resolution and will soon break for its August recess.
Skeptics say a Republican-dominated Congress makes impeachment all but impossible.
Vic Marani, a former chairman of the local Republican Party Central Committee, scoffed at the idea of protesters asking a city council to support impeachment.
"They aren’t going to impeach Bush so fix the streets," he said. "That’s boring, but that’s what local government does. There’s no such thing as a Democratic or Republican sewer or pipe. They have no chance of any kind of follow through, so take that energy and try to keep the Civic (Auditorium) open."
He was referring to concerns that the city-owned 2,000-seat auditorium in downtown Santa Cruz might be scaled back or mothballed in light of budget cuts.
Peace activist Ruth Hunter agreed impeachment wasn’t likely but said that if there is enough of grassroots support, it could pressure Republicans into changing their minds.
Protesters also said they’re heartened by suggested articles of impeachment drawn up by former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark, by Bush opponents questioning his statements about Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, and a recent dust-up surrounding a section in Bush’s pre-war State of the Union address.
The controversial clause referred to Iraq seeking uranium from Niger, a piece of information subsequently criticized as "tainted." The White House later stated the accusation, attributed to Britain, was based on forged information and should have been excised.
The City Council, in September, was the first such body in the United States to pass a resolution opposing a U.S. war on Iraq, a measure that drew a brief but intense bout of national attention.
Among those calling for the latest measure are members of the Santa Cruz Action Network, Santa Cruz Peace Coalition, Green Party of Santa Cruz County, the Peace and Freedom Party Central Committee, Santa Cruz Peacemakers and Code Pink of Santa Cruz.
Though U.S. Rep. Sam Farr, D-Carmel, could not be reached to comment, his spokeswoman, Sarah Rosen, said Farr didn’t think the movement could achieve its goals.
"The congressman definitely supports any efforts that can be made to discuss the credibility of the president, but the possibly of impeachment going anywhere is not even remote," she said. "We’re talking infinitesimal."
She said energy being directed toward an impeachment movement would be better directed toward electing a Democrat president. "We have an excellent opportunity to get rid of this guy and that’s what elections are all about."