It all changes a month from today
What has roughly the same number of words as the U.S. Constitution, three times more than the Declaration of Independence, and is five times longer than this column?The answer fills 11 standard pages of text with 620 separate lines and 3,944 tedious and somewhat vague words of legalese that the average Happy Valley Joe would equate with pushing the “Accept” button on the fine print of any software update.For those needing a hint: It used to require a dark blue or black ballpoint pen and could not be torn or defaced in any manner, but now will be like playing Tetris with people’s political careers.If you guessed Mark Foley’s confessional to “Politicians Blaming Catholics and Alcohol for being Pedophiles (or NAMBLA for fans of the “Daily Show”), go to the back of the pretentiousness line and we will hope you are sick in bed on Nov. 7.However, if you took a stab at it and came up with the general election ballot that most of us will be filling out one month from today, you win the prize! (There’s not really a prize – living in a democracy should be prize enough.)Just go to http://www.vaildaily.com and click on the Election 2006 button to see the entire sample ballot in all its wordy glory. Granted, due to geographical restrictions, not each of us is able to vote for each item listed. But for the most part it is what each of us will be rushing through and choosing during lunch break that first Tuesday in November.One month from today we will have a new congressman, governor, secretary of state, state treasurer, attorney general and state representative for District 56. (For those keeping score, it will be Udall, Beauprez, Gordon, Hillman, Suthers and Gibbs).We will have the option of allowing five appellate judges to keep their jobs. I will personally vote NO on each simply because I like democratic variety, but chances are none will need to start packing any boxes.At the county level I absolutely guarantee the county clerk, treasurer, surveyor and coroner will win with landslide victories. You can take that to the bank. The sheriff will keep his boots on, as well, and the new assessor will probably be a Republican. (I’m not against ALL stereotypes.). If Brown keeps writing letters and Fisher stays in the background, Edwards will be sitting in Stone’s seat.Town of Avon council choices will come down to the two incumbents and the next two in line with a favorable listing order on the ballot.And then comes the really exciting part with all of those stimulating words – amendments and referendums!Now remember, class, amendments are simply additions or revisions of existing rules and regs, while referendums are brand new rules and regs.Got it?Good, because we have seven of each at the state level and 10 more referendums at the county level for an even two dozen choices to make in about five minutes in the voting booth that will have an affect for the next twenty years, at least.For amendments we will be able to limit new ballot initiatives to 75 words (No. 38), force school districts to spend at least 65 percent of its operational budget on classroom instruction (No. 39), begin term limits for appellate court judges (No. 40), force some vague description of ethics on elected officials (except those under home rule, believe it or not, No. 41), increase the minimum wage to $6.85 (No. 42), stop gays from tying the knot (No. 43) and legalize smoking a joint for those over 21 (No. 44).Five will pass and two will fail.I don’t have the space to cover each state referendum, but for sure to win the Irony Award will be Referendum I, which gives gays some of the rights and responsibilities seen in marriage. Go figure.Eagle County, as most of you should know by now, has the babysitting tax (1A), the Home Rule Charter (1B), the school district’s $128 million question (3B) and two library district requests (5A and 5B).Only one has a chance, and it depends on how progressively patronizing its main proponent becomes in future letters to the editor. He/she/it is working kind of hard to lose it at the moment.So there you have it, a very brief recap of the almost 4,000-word ballot to be quickly deciphered four weeks from today that can change everything in Happy Valley for the better or worse.Or perhaps everything will just stay pretty much the same regardless.And if you don’t like or agree with any or all of my prognostications, please feel free to call Tipsline and share your thoughts. Just be sure and leave your name and number in order to share your brilliance with the rest of the class.Richard Carnes of Edwards writes a weekly column for the Daily. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org Vail, Colorado
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