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More Dogs on Main Street

Ten days until the election, and the cable news channels are falling all over themselves trying to predict the outcome. The assumption seems to be that voters will repudiate the Republican-led mess in Washington, and turn the House over to the Democrats. The Senate is closer, but the Senate could go to the Democrats, too. Every time Bush speaks, the Democrats get a bounce in the polls. While I firmly believe that the Republicans deserve to have their heads handed to them as a reward for six years of incompetence and corruption, I have to admit that my delight is tempered by the idea of turning anything over to the Democrats. Key committee assignments will be filled by the seniority system, meaning that the oldest, most entrenched Democratic hacks, running from the most safely gerrymandered districts, will be calling the shots. What we need at a national level is a wholesale replacement of members of Congress. If the only thing that happens is an adjustment of the number of each party, with the same people still there collecting bribes from lobbyists and chasing underage pages, we won t have accomplished much. It s like taking control away from the Gambinos and turning it over to the Gottis. So, when it comes to the Congressional races, there is really only one answer — vote the bastards out. On a local level, there are a couple of bond issues. Depending on where you live, you can vote on one or the other. Nobody should be voting on both. The City is proposing a $20 million bond to buy more open space. I m all for it, especially now that I ve sold my rental property in Park City and won t have to pay for it. More open space is good. I m so sick of dodging construction equipment on S.R. 248 between Kamas and Park City that I d support an open space bond of 10 times that amount if it would shut it down. The other day, I counted cars as I drove into Park City, and the ratio of passenger cars to construction vehicles was one-to-one. The odds of getting squashed by a track-hoe entering the highway from some random location are higher than make sense. The Open Space Bond is just for city residents. In the Snyderville Basin (but not in the city) voters have a $12 million bond for recreation. This is for a pool at the field house/recreation center, additional trails, parks and a fair amount of wiggle room in there for other projects that people want, but haven t identified yet. Maybe we can finally get that riding-lawnmower racetrack we ve been needing. A surprising number of people around here don t know if they live in Park City or in the county. This might be a good time to figure that out. If you pay your water bill to Park City Municipal, you live in the City. If you pay your water bill to somebody else, you live in the county. If you don t pay your water bill, it will get shut off. Countywide, the big issue is the proposal to change to a five-member county council with a professional county executive. The idea of putting an enterprise with 300 employees and a $40 million budget under professional management, instead of under a part-time, amateur commission, seems too logical to be debated. But it s a hot topic. On the east side of the county, and especially in the Coalville area, people are dead set against it. We ve had a three-member commission since before statehood, and if it was good enough for a population of 5,000, well, it s certainly good enough for a population that will be hitting 50,000 in a few years. $40 million can spend itself without full-time supervision. I think the real issue is that if you work at the County Courthouse in Coalville, you have a good job with a good benefits package. The fear is that a new management system may shuffle things around in ways that mean that you, or your brother-in-law, or some other relative, suddenly finds himself without that job. Or the job changes materially, and you are suddenly under the supervision of some dweeb you ve hated since the second grade. It s a small town. There are no other options in Coalville. It s not like you can walk across the street and get a job with similar pay and health insurance working at Denise s Home Plate Restaurant or the Chevron. Coalville is the classic company town and the company is Summit County government. Lose your company job, and you could end up commuting to Ogden. There s nothing in the proposal that would necessarily eliminate jobs, or cause Coalville residents to be replaced with new staff recruited from California. The people I ve worked with in the courthouse are doing a good job and have no reason to worry if there is a change. But even if the odds of a job being eliminated are low, the stakes are extremely high if it happens to be your job. So while west-siders tend to look at it as a question of managerial effectiveness, east-siders view it as nothing less than an existential threat. I don t have an answer to that one. The rest of Summit County shouldn t have to accept ineffective governance to provide somebody else a sense of job security. The new system would take two years to implement. Maybe in that time adequate assurances could be found to allay the perfectly reasonable concerns of the county employees affected by the change. This will be the first general election with the new Diabolical, I mean Diebold, voting machines. While they seemed to work OK in the primary, there continue to be doubts about their accuracy, security, and functionality. Most of the polling places are run by very nice senior citizens, some of whom have never used an ATM machine in their lives. I hope they got enough training to make it work smoothly. The voters will be seeing these things for the first time (except for the seven people who voted in the primary). Confusion will be the order of the day.


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