Friday, May 18, 2007

Your Referendumb Guide

On June 12, a handful of Maine voters will journey to the polls. Enraged by the obtuse wording on the ballot, they will march to Augusta and overthrow the government in a bloodthirsty coup that will leave eviscerated bureaucrats decomposing on the State House lawn. UMaine mascot Bananas the Bear will be sworn in as our new governor.

Wouldn’t that be fun? Alas, the more likely scenario is that the voters will scratch their heads, close their eyes, and make random marks on the ballot. This is how democracy has worked for centuries. Last year I made a smiley face.

What a shame. If only voters had a clear understanding of what the referendum questions mean.

That’s why I’m here.

First, the basics. On June 12 we'll be voting on bond issues. A “bond issue” is where the government borrows money from a bank and promises to pay it back with interest.

I have a bias against bonds because if the state would instead put its giant infrastructure projects on its Discover Card™, we would be eligible for Cash Back bonuses and frequent-flyer rewards miles.

Now, about this year’s bond issues:

Question 1 asks if we want to borrow $100 million for road and bridge improvements. You should vote “no” on this question, because all the money will be spent on roads and bridges you do not drive on.

Instead, the money will probably go to improve relatively pristine roads in Southern Maine, or on stretches of Interstate with insignificant little cracks that give wealthy tourists in RVs the heebie-jeebies.

Question 1 also asks for $3.6 million for transit and bus facilities (another Southern Maine thing) and $3.2 million for airport improvements (we can thank the mighty Single-Engine Cessna lobby for that one). Why does every rinky-dink town need an airport? In Central Maine, there are four within an hour’s drive of each other: Waterville, Augusta, Pittsfield, and Dexter. If this makes sense to you, then you are a pilot living in Central Maine. Otherwise, vote against Question 1.

The $1.7 million for harbors and $500,000 for bicycle and walking trails are the only worthwhile components of this bond issue, but of course they are lumped together with the other garbage.

“Excuse me, waiter? Can I get a glass of juice, please?”

“Sure, but you’ll also have to buy the filet mignon, the lobster bisque, and the roast duck on a brick with side cheese torte.”

“Oh, well, then, forget it. I’ll just have water.”

In which case, you’ll want to vote “yes” on Question 2, which asks us for $18.3 million to improve public drinking water systems and wastewater treatment plants.

Anything to do with making sure sewage goes where it’s supposed to and doesn’t end up negatively impacting water I might need someday gets automatic approval from me.

Vote “yes” on Question 2, unless you like sharing your bath with pieces of turd.

There you have it – a simple guide to voting on June 12. All you have to remember is “yes, no.” Or was it “no, yes?”

If in doubt, just make a smiley face on the ballot and your life will continue as before.

1 comment:

Woman with kids said...

"unless you like sharing your drinking water with pieces of turd."

Eloquent. ;-)

And really? I don't mind a mascot for Govenor.