This Week's View

by Deanna Lee Birkholm
October 16th, 2006

Vote NO!

Lot's of things in the news lately. Writers often write great articles about serious world problems, most of which we can't do anything about. The term for that in "J" school (journalism) is afganistising. A 'coined' word of course, and was adopted many years before the war we are now fighting.

I'd like to tackle, at least address, something much closer to home. You don't have to hold your breath, no political tirade coming.

Everyone in America has an election coming up in November. First, I'd like to encourage everyone to vote. And in Iraq, more people voted in their last election than voted in the entire USA in the last Presidential election. The number I heard this week was one in four vote. If you believe that, and know that JC and I have both voted in every election since Barry Goldwater, that means that six of you did not vote. That's not good.

Worse than that, I don't believe most folks even know who/what they are voting for. We've been researching the issues for the upcoming local election, and the one which seems to be getting the most press is one on property rights. Reading the information, our newspaper mentioned there are 20 or more other states which also have property rights issues on the ballot in November. Interestingly, they are not the same issues. Some states are trying to write special legislation which will protect property owners from eminent domain actions by the local government. This is where your property is seized by the government for "better use." The Supreme Court upheld a particular case this past year where property was taken to be used for 'private' purposes which would bring the local government more tax revenues. What may be legal in one state may not be legal in another - if this sort of issue is on the ballot where you live please research it carefully before you vote.

A few years ago our state adopted a Growth Management Act. It is the law, and had been tested through the courts. There was a huge outcry when it was purposed, lots of public meetings on it, and finally, it became law. The whole point was to prevent urban sprawl, maintain some green belts and public use areas. Some people were hurt financially as they had bought property on speculation planning to sell it down the line for development. It is called speculation for a reason. There is no guarantee in Vegas either.

The issue here in Washington state is I-933. It would require the local government to pay the people owning property if there property is impacted by some law. So if you bought land which the state or local government says is wetland and you can't build on it, they have to pay you. How much isn't spelled out either. And if that sum is more than the government (read taxpayers) can pay, the government has to give the landowner a 'variance.' Meaning you bought wetland, knew it was wetland and get to build on it anyway. Or, build a seawall where one isn't allowed. Or clear-cut the forest right up to the river bank and on and on. Oh yes, did I mention it's a great way to get around the Growth Management laws as well?

In most cases where there is a real reason to grant a variance, most are indeed granted. But this proposed new law is bizarre. An old professor of mine told us repeatedly, "If a law doesn't spell out all the details, vote NO." If the idea is a good one, it will come up again WITH everything detailed. Rather than not vote on a question you can't figure out, vote NO. If you can't figure it out, how do you expect the people in the legislature and courts to rule on it?

This one, I-933 is not a mystery to me. It is full of holes and we will vote NO.

All politics is local. Please pay attention to your local issues. They directly affect YOU. We encourage you to get informed. If your state publishes a Voter Information pamphlet, read it, both sides of all issues are there for the reading.

And one more thing: VOTE! ~ LadyFisher

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