Wednesday, May 13, 2009

A necessary election?

Yesterday turned out to be a great day in my little part of the world. The sun was out all day, the temperatures were comfortable, and it looks like an even nicer day today. This is the spring weather Maine is all about.

Cities and town have undergone what I would think is a needless expense because of a school consolidation law enacted last year by the state. As a result of that law, voters must give their approval of a school budget before it is finally enacted. The problem I see is more often than not, as in yesterday’s voting procedure, is that because of mandated time tables the voting must take place often with nothing else on the ballot.

That was the case in my town yesterday, as well as the neighboring communities that also held their votes yesterday. There is a pretty big expense to holding elections, and even with just the one question on the ballot, yesterday’s was no exception. The state, however, says we must make this expenditure even in these tight times.

In just another month, the annual June elections will be held, and like yesterday’s with very little for the voters to decide, that too will be a costly day.

Voters don’t generally turn down school budgets, whether in full elections or in town meetings. There have been some communities that have told their elected leaders to cut, but most of the time proposed spending plans are accepted. That was the case yesterday in the three communities that received any publicity about school budget voting.

The sad part is, however, the turnout. I don’t know how many voters are registered in the three communities, but in Portland only 2102 registered voters took the time to make a choice, 2300 in Cape Elizabeth made the trip to the polls, and fewer than 1100 voted in Scarborough. Those numbers make a very expensive per vote cost.

To me, though, the even sadder part is that such a few members of the communities took the time to fulfill their opportunity, their obligation, their right, their privilege to vote. Gator Wife and I did cast our ballots but the line certainly didn’t hold us up one second. I’m proud that I’ve only missed one election of any type since I could first vote back in the 1950s and that was last year’s school budget. I didn’t know it was being held.

Switching gears just a little, remember that massive class action lawsuit filed against the Hannaford food chain for the credit cart breach in 2007? I don’t think the lawyers are going to get rich on that one. A federal judge has tossed out all claims except one saying they were just an inconvenience as the breach didn’t cost those people anything except a little time. We all go through inconveniences every day. The one remaining deals with a woman whose bank did not reimburse her.

Another switch and it’s a “who cares?” type of switch. With all the budget woes we’re facing in Augusta the Legislature continues to work on bills that probably won’t solve any problems. The House has approved a measure that would require lobbyists to wear name tags that include the name of the person or group they’re representing. I’d bet there are very few, if any, lobbyists wandering the halls in Augusta that the legislators don’t know or know about. Seems to me this is just another “feel good” piece of legislation trying to fool us into thinking the legislators are accomplishing something for our good.

Aren’t we all just happy that Carrie Prejean will remain Miss California? Donald Trump says her nudity on the internet isn’t a breach of her contract that says she will not and has not posed in the nude. Her real difficulty came when she got into a debate with a Miss America judge about her support for marriage being between one man and one woman. Trump says that Miss PreJean has a right to her opinions, too. Donald Trump owns the pageant.


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