Monday, November 03, 2008

Now the Voters Get to Chose

Tomorrow is Election Day here in the good old USA.

That means that you all have the responsibility to get off your butts, out of your houses and make the effort to go vote. But remember this one important thing. You are only allowed to vote once.

A while back a commenter asked my what I thought about our local measure N and the city council election.

I hate to admit it but I still have not made up my mind on measure N. I admit that the roads in this town need a lot of work. Actually I have driven on dirt roads that are smoother than some of the "paved" roads in this town. But then this is not a new phenomenon in Ridgecrest. Taxpayers have been trying to get the roads in this town for the entire 23 years that I have been living here. Even when we do managed to get a road fixed it is usually not one that needs it. So I would think that I would be willing to vote for measure N. But that is the problem.

I have never in my entire life voted for a tax increase. I'm not sure that I could ever pull that lever, fill in that bubble, punch that chad, or press that button. Voting for a tax increase flies in the face of everything I believe in politically.

I understand that we need money to fix our roads. But we have needed money to fix our roads for over 20 years. Unfortunately I am not as informed as I probably ought to be about our city budget and where we spend the money we have available to maintain and grow our city. So I can't speak to details. But I do see a lot of money go to waste in town year after year. The city is constantly trying to help bring businesses in town and we usually end up on the losing end of the financial deals. How much money did the city spend to help Matrix Motors, Front Porch Productions and countless others? Could that money have been used to maintain our streets.

Now that is my main concern here. Everyone talks about fixing our streets. My question is, why does our city not have a regular plan of maintenance for our streets. The infrastructure of a city needs to be maintained. You cannot just slap down some pavement and expect it to last a lifetime. And it is not just streets. The entire infrastucture of our city needs to be maintained - streets, sewers, water, electrical, gas, all of it needs maintenance. Since we have not been maintaining our roads, are we also neglecting the rest of the infrastructure of our city? What is next, another 1/2 percent sales tax to improve our sewers? Where does it stop?

I have heard a lot of people complaining that the city spends way too much money on the parks and recreation department that could be used for our streets. I disagree. The parks and recreation department in town is very important for the future of our community. By that I mean our children. Even more than complaining about our streets one of the longest running loudest complaints I have heard around town is that there is nothing for the kids to do. So many of our community's children seem to turn to drugs and sex as a way to entertain themselves. I can't quote figures so I don't know the facts. But from my anecdotal experience the children of Ridgecrest seem to be taking advantage of the parks and recreation department to find many things to keep themselves busy. And in my opinion that is a good thing. In my opinion, it is more important than the condition of our streets.

So I still do not know how I am going to vote on measure N tomorrow.

As for our city council. As a general rule I prefer to vote for small business owners for the city council. They are usually the citizens who have to most to gain from seeing our city prosper. However this year there seems to be a dearth of business owners running for office. Unfortunately we seem to have a lot of engineers running for office this year. I have a real problem with this. I am an engineer and have worked my whole career with engineers. Unfortunately most of the managers I have had in my career have also been engineers. However engineers do not often make very good managers. I have had some good managers in my career who were engineers but they have been far and away the exception to the rule. So as a general rule I do not vote for engineers for office unless I know quite a bit about their background and their beliefs. After all, I am an engineer and believe me, you would not want me in charge of our fair city.

As for our two incumbent council members I have known Steve Morgan for many years and he is a good man who really wants what is best for this city. But the last few years Steve seems to be developing some tunnel vision on how to solve problems for the city. He focuses in on one way of solving a problem and any other options to that solution he just will not consider. Whether or not this tunnel vision will cost Steve my vote or not I have not decided yet. I know I am running out of time to decide but historically I spend most of the election cycle considering my options and making up my mind based on those options while standing in line at the polling place.

But some decisions for me are made very early in the election cycle. For instance I will never cast a vote for Ron Carter. I attempted to make an appointment with Principal Carter at Las Flores Grade School 12 years ago. The run around I got from his office staff eventually led to their flat refusal to allow me to make an appointment to see Principal Carter. I had no choice but to assume that his office staff was working under his direction to keep parents away from meeting with him. The only other option I could imagine was that he did not know how his office staff were behaving. In that case he would be even less attractive to me as a manager than a guy who orders his staff to isolate him from a parent who would be sending their child to his school the next year. But the incident was very upsetting to my dear wife and I. When we tried to complain about his isolationist attitude to the school district we were told "If the Principal chooses not to meet with you that is his business." then they hung up on me. That event was the driving force behind us putting our children into private schools.

So who am I going to vote for for City Council? I will not vote for Ron Carter nor Randy (Charlie Chaplin) Jenkins. The council tends to be populated by clowns on occasion. I don't want to vote for a guy who campaigns on the clown platform.

Beyond them I have Steve Morgan, one businessman, two planning commissioners and a bunch of engineers to chose from. I'm sure I will make a calm rational choice while standing in line tomorrow morning.

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