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How many will vote?

Kaye Ferry

By this time next week, we should have finally come to the end of a very long and tedious election process. I can’t imagine that there’s anyone alive that won’t be glad when it’s over, regardless of the outcome. And I don’t know about you, but to me it seems as though it gets longer and longer each time. I mean, they’re already talking about who’ll run in 2008, which of course is somewhat dependent on who wins in 2004. But maybe, just maybe, the voter turnout this year will be respectable. Certainly the fever pitch that’s been reached in the media would have you believe that we can’t wait to get to the polls to cast our choice. But I wonder if the reverse isn’t true. Could it be that we’re all so sick of the interminable process that we’re actually over it before we even have a chance to pull the lever or punch the holes or now, in some states, to touch the screen?I wrote not too long ago about my experience with jury duty. In that recount, I stated there are two fundamental rights that we have, neither of which is taken seriously enough in this country, serving on a jury and voting in elections. And I posed the same question then as I am now. What would your response be if tomorrow a proclamation was issued stating that neither opportunity was available in the United States anymore?The answer to that question is easy. A roar would rise from coast to coast. Meetings would be held. Marches would be staged in cities and on campuses. Talk shows would have a new topic for their 24-hour-a-day marathon discussions. And lawyers would have a field day.The backlash would be inconceivable, yet in 2000, there was only a 51.2 percent voter turnout, the fourth lowest since 1924. Sadly, that was an increase over the 37 percent turnout in 1996. I don’t know what the answer is any more than I could attempt a solution to the apathy surrounding attitudes toward reporting for jury duty. What I do know is that the right to vote should not be ignored. As we learned in the last presidential election, every vote does count. Who knows what the results would have been if the other 48.8 percent had shown up to vote in the last election?But as Americans take this right for granted, I was struck by news coverage of the recent election in Afghanistan. I will never forget the image of donkeys with boxes strapped to their backs, carrying ballots over the hills, followed by shepherds on foot guiding them. Guiding them towards the thousands of people standing in line patiently in unusually cold weather to vote in their first presidential election in their first democratic process. Men voting separately from veiled women, all being marked on their thumbs with ink meant to identify those who had voted in a process that could take weeks to finalize.And the American media fears that a little bad weather could cause light voter turnout here. Would that the rest of the world only had to worry about a little rain. “SAVE THE HILL GANG”: Once again, the Vail Town Council saved the day. At their Oct. 19 meeting they heard an appeal of a Design Review Board decision regarding the development of a lot in East Vail. The owners of the lot had presented a design to DRB and had been turned down. They made some changes and resubmitted their plans and received approval on the second go around. The changes seem to be so minimal as to beg the question of the change of opinion. It appeared as though the approval should have been granted the first time.The room was filled with neighbors, mostly those voicing support for the appellant who was requesting that the Town Council not allow this new home to be constructed as approved. They called themselves the “Save the Hill Gang.”A few facts need to be considered. The owners were asking for no variances. All aspects of the home meet all guidelines, setbacks and building criteria of the town of Vail. The neighbors just simply don’t like the way it is to be situated. In a tight knit hill side arrangement of homes, the new kids on the block are also the last ones to build – they will also be building on the highest point on the hill. The neighbors do not want anyone “looking down” on them as they use their hot tubs, etc.But the part they were missing is this is America. Views aren’t protected. Property rights are sacred. Once you own the property and have complied with the rules and regulations, you should be able to do as you like. To all of our benefit, the DRB made the right decision and the Town Council upheld it.INITIATIVE 5B: An interesting question was raised at last week’s Town Council meeting during the catch-all called Citizen’s Participation. How does the VRD’s ballot initiative regarding funds for a new golf course clubhouse jive with their lease? If passed, the property tax to fund the new building will have something like a 20-year life, but the VRD’s lease only runs another eight years. What kind of problem does that pose?Do your part: call them and write them. To contact the Town Council, call 479-1860, ext. 8, or e-mail towncouncil@vailgov.com. To contact Vail Resorts, call 476-5601 or e-mail vailinfo@vailresorts.com. For past columns, vaildaily.com-columnists or search:ferry. Kaye Ferry is a longtime observer of Vail government. She writes a weekly column for the Daily.Vail, Colorado


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