Don’t Forget The Ballot Questions!

In the rush to get out the betting slips on the mayoral race, I neglected to mention any of the bond issues or ballot questions. Unforgivable as a columnist, but better late than never.

Rather than just go all “editorial board” and gather everyone together in the same room for a minute to vote on such stuff and tally it up, I’m just giving my personal reasons for voting on such stuff. Besides, since the office move last week, getting everyone that works for this paper all in the same room at the same time is a feat similar to herding cats.

Question 1: This is a “People’s Veto” of legislative action, to turn over the changes in Maine law that made same day voter registration a thing of the past. A “YES” vote means you are telling the Legislature and the Baboon in the Blaine House to get bent. A “NO” vote means you agree that same-day voter registration is absurd, and a pathway to fraudulent voting.

Not surprising to anyone that knows me, the reasons for my “YES” endorsement are simple ones. For the last five years or so, life here in Portland has been a transitory affair of rooming houses, mostly illegal sublets, couch surfing and so forth. After an illegal eviction (I came home to it happening) and losing everything I owned, I led the life that doesn’t quite lend itself to registering to vote in advance. Heck, with a post office box as your only permanent link, you couldn’t register if you wanted to.

Does that make me less of a citizen, less worthy of making a choice, simply because I live a life transitory? Me, who follows local politics with an intensity only matched by a rabid honey-badger mixed with a feral cat? Should my ability to cast a vote be spurned by the paperwork wonkish simply because I choose to live a different lifestyle?

A vote is a vote. Since an investigation that originally accused a couple of hundred students with voting illegally turned up only one case in 10 years, the secretary of state is obviously full of fermented fertilizer.

Questions 2 and 3 are the casino issues. I have no issues with casinos anywhere in the country, as they perform the admirable task of separating silly people from their excess money. Considering that these dollars would be spent on frippery anyway, I have no problem with someone deciding where to spend THEIR money. It’s not mine, nor the state’s. People spending their own money on what they wish does NOT cut funding to education in this state, regardless of what some silly commercial told you. That is, unless the folks who made that commercial had some sinister plan to seize all your money in the first place, you know, for the “common good.”

I’ve always been a bit cheesed off that the Maine Passamaquoddy Indian Tribes got screwed by the feds on the Indian Gaming And Regulatory Act, then got hosed by the legislature that denied their application for a casino, but found the idea good for everyone else back in 1988.

Casinos, take ‘em or leave them. Not my fault that the opposition claims Maine made a “Rotten Deal”, especially when you consider that the funding for the “Maine’s Rotten Deal” group came mostly from the folks involved in the existing casino in Bangor. I’m giving both of these a “YES.”

Question 4 for me is a stumper. I can see the arguments both for and against screwing around with the redistricting timeline. This bill pretty much forces the legislature to act, swiftly, when the census numbers come out and to re-district the state’s two Congressional districts. Picture whatever party happens to be the majority now has to stand in the doorway with a whip and a chair, refusing to let the legislature adjourn until they have come to a two-thirds majority vote on new districts.

Hey, if this involves ritual scarification for the elected, I’m all for it. So this one also goes down in the “YES” column.

The county bond issue on the Civic Center is troublesome for me. Most of what I see on the planning documents are cosmetic changes, things to make life easier for those working at the CCCC. Improved vending spaces sound great, but the already inflated prices of vended items that quite frankly taste like licking a hobo’s shoes, at an INCREASED price to help pay for the bond … well, that is just a little over the top for me.

The Civic Center board has a point when they cite that the size of the venue prevents many national acts from appearing here. I also remember a famous Grateful Dead two-day show back in the 1980’s, that just happened to coincide with the arrival of the new police chief (Mike Chitwood, who promptly freaked out like he had “dropped” something he found on the sidewalk, and DEMANDED that the city and the county change their booking policies.)

A couple of years back, when CCCC security allegedly told Axl Rose he couldn’t have alcohol on stage during his warm-up or during the show, he suddenly “got sick” and cancelled the performance. Guess the dressing room WAS too small for his ego.

I’m still on the fence about this one, as the case has not been made to my satisfaction, at least one worth $55 million by the time the bond is paid off. If we fix it, it might not work, and if we don’t fix it, it might not work. I’ll flip a coin on this one when I get there.

That about wraps it up for the election! There will be a few more days of candidate moaning and such, but like the flu, eventually it will end.


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