The Darwin Exception

because it's not always survival of the fittest – sometimes the idiots get through

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I Don’t Do Politics, but…

Posted by thedarwinexception on November 8, 2006

Let me preface this by saying that I am *not* political. At all. I know absolutely nothing about politics. Absolutely nothing. In fact I couldn’t even tell you if George Bush is a Republican or a Democrat. I used to have a mnemonic device for remembering, but now I can’t remember if it was that Bush is a *RE* publican because he’s *RE* tarded or if he’s a *D*emocrat because he’s *D*umb. But it was one or the other, I’m pretty sure of that.

For some reason I have this big mental block in my head that doesn’t allow me to understand anything about politics. I try – I really do. I try to watch those “State of the Union” addresses, but my mind wanders. And let’s face it, usually those guys sitting in back of the president while he’s making the speech are pretty much falling asleep, or at the very least they aren’t paying attention, and, hey, if they are falling asleep or acting like they are bored enough to fall asleep, well then, really, can I be blamed for feeling the same way? I mean, they get paid to listen to this shit and they’re bored. I think that’s why those other guys in the audience get up and clap after every sentence – they’re just trying to wake up the guys behind the president that are falling asleep. I mean, check out this picture – isn’t that guy on the left like, dead to the world? If he ain’t sleeping, I’ll kiss your ass.

But it’s not just politics that I am ignorant about. I don’t know geography, either. I couldn’t point out England on a map. And I don’t know capitols, and I don’t know directions. I don’t know if Asia is East or West of Germany. Truly don’t know. And I don’t know where Germany is on the map, either. Which probably is the reason I don’t know if it’s East or West of Asia, because I do know that “East is Right and West is Left,” so if I could place Asia and Germany on a map, I’d probably know if one was East or West of the other.

So those are two of the things I really suck at.- Politics and Geography.

Despite that fact, I voted yesterday. I voted even though I pretty much know nothing about the candidates who are running, and I certainly don’t have any “party affiliation”, because, honestly, I don’t know enough about the distinctions to label myself as anything. But I saw a little tidbit in the Plattsburgh Press Republican that got me all excited to vote. Me! Excited to vote!

The Press Republican ran a little feature article on the 6 people who are running for the 2 empty town council seats in Malone.

Incumbent Democrat Lenora Richards, incumbent Republican Michael Maneely,
Republican Kenneth Nephew, Democrat Todd LePine and Progressive Malone Party
members David Yando and Boyce Sherwin are competing for the four-year terms.

The Press-Republican interviewed five candidates. Repeated attempts to reach LaPine were not successful.

What do you think is the most important issue facing the village, and what would you do about it, if elected?

Maneely: “The biggest complaint is taxes in Malone, and to make a difference, I’d like to see us form service districts … where churches, the tax-exempt properties and those on PILOTs (payment in lieu of taxes) are paying their fair share for things like the fire department and police department and roads.

“Freezing taxes sounds like a good idea, but as costs go up every year, you have to cut services or jobs. We wouldn’t be able to afford to keep giving money to the Adult Center or Minor Hockey or the Garden Club.”

Ummmmm….excuse me? The Garden Club? The fucking Garden Club? Are you serious? We don’t have a fucking bookstore, but we are supporting some fucking Garden Club? Our Main Street consists of dilapitated, boarded up buildings that haven’t seen a successful enterprise since the 1960’s, but we are worried about having the funds to endorse a fucking Garden Club? Where the fuck is this garden, anyway? Because I’ve never seen it. The nicest garden I’ve seen in Malone belongs to the old lady across the street from me. Can’t we just give her $10.00 a year and call her yard the “Malone Garden Club”? Garden Club my ass.

You just lost my vote.

Nephew: “I think increasing the tax base by encouraging people to purchase homes and build homes and to possibly create districts to pay for certain costs, like the Police Department.

“Fifty percent of the village property that is tax exempt would have to contribute to the cost of fire, police and highway services, lowering the costs to the 50 percent that now pay all of the costs of these services. It is a way to lower taxes and to continue to provide good services.

“I’d also like to see more youth programs and a movie theater.”

Holy fucking shit on a stick! Did you see that? Did you?

“I’d also like to see more youth programs and a movie theater.”

A fucking movie theater! A movie theater! Now *here’s* a guy we can endorse! I don’t need to know a single thing about him more than that. He wants to see a movie theater! Well, so the fuck do I, buddy! You’ve got my vote! So, there’s our first guy! Now, we get two votes, since there are two open seats. We’re down to one more. we’ll take the movie theater guy, and let’s look at the rest.

Richards: “The budget. I don’t think people realize that with this last budget, we lowered taxes $1.20 per $1,000. But, because the town did revaluation, assessments went up. We’re at 95 percent of the allowable tax limit and are considered in the ‘danger zone.’ The state would like it better if we were at 80 percent, but we’d have to cut $500,000 from the budget. We can’t do that and maintain the level of services we have now.

“And I’m one who believes if it’s not in the budget and it’s not an emergency, we’ll consider the request another budget year.”

Sherwin: “Affordable taxation. If elected, Dave (Yando) and I will freeze taxes for three years. They are so high now that they are significantly changing property values.”

Yando: “The continued increase in taxes. It’s gotten to the point where it has started to downgrade our housing and lower property values. The $80,000 to $100,000 homes aren’t selling because the buyers look at heating the home and paying the taxes. They can go out of town and buy a house in that range and eliminate a tax. We need to freeze taxes and start looking at how we do business in the village because it is a business.”

The Malone Police Department is operating with 14 officers and a budget that has topped the $1 million mark. If elected, what changes, if any, would you make to the department and why?

Maneely: “If we are able to form service districts, we may be able to afford to add a few officers and bring it back to 16 or 17. They do an excellent job, all of our departments do, but the Police Department is working all the time, and they’re getting burned out. And switching to 12-hour shifts is in negotiations and is something the department wants to do. We just have to get it in place.”

Nephew: “Some people say we need more people, and some say we don’t. I don’t know if there are particular numbers, but I hope with service districts, we could find the funding that would make the police department less of a burden on the taxpayer. We have to have protection in the village. And it’s unfortunate that there is no longer a resource officer in school. But there may be grants or other ways to pay for the officer.”

Richards: “I think they’re going to have to work with the number of officers they have. We’re in negotiations now, and we’re discussing going to 12-hour shifts. The Police Department is 40 percent of the budget, but officers can retire after 20 years. They’re young when they come to the force, and they’re retiring young. And we have to pay for their retirement.”

Sherwin: “We would sit down with the chief and neighborhood leaders and see what the needs are and the number of police that is required and see if we can afford it. If we can’t, we change the mission of the Police Department. The staffing, the money and the mission all need to accomplish the same thing.”

Yando: “I’m all for the village police and protection, but are there innovative ways to do the scheduling? We have to look at that. If we can afford to add an officer, fine. But we have to look at the budget.

“Everything has to be looked at: Coverage without burning them out, external funding without adding to our already overburdened budget and shared services.”

Why did you decide to run for a seat on the Village Board?

Maneely: “I like serving the village and the people, and I follow through on what people need. I’m a taxpayer too, so I’m trying to work on taxes. I’m working on new Main Street lighting, and I would like to get service districts going to make sure everyone is paying their fair share.”

Nephew: “I grew up in this community and have lived here all my life. I’ve been involved and serve on a lot of committees, and it’s something I feel really positive about. And I know it takes a lot of work and a lot of cooperation.”

Richards: “I really love government work and figuring out budgets and working with the numbers. I really enjoy this kind of public service, and it gives me a chance to keep up with everything that’s going on in the village.”

Sherwin: “Because I’ve got a good partner in Dave Yando, and we both have the understanding and skills that will be productive in the village. We want to focus the village government and concentrate on making the village more livable by focusing on the specific needs of specific neighborhoods.”

Yando: “I’ve always been involved since I moved here seven years ago and ran a family business in Malone. I’ve always been on committees, but I think the continual increase in taxes is probably what spurred me to take a more active role. I feel Main Street and the village center have to be looked at again and become consumer friendly, and there should be incentives for businesses to move there.”

Well, that took the whole rest of the article, but check out what that last guy said in his last sentence.

I feel Main Street and the village center have to be looked at again and become consumer friendly, and there should be incentives for businesses to move there.”

I agree with this. Now, we take that first guy who wants to see a movie theater, and you take this guy, who wants to create incentives for businesses to move to Main Street, and make Main Street more “consumer friendly”, and I think we have a winning team! There’s my two votes!

But, you know, I’m a little disappointed that no one seemed to address the things that I think this Town needs to have addressed – more emphasis on revitalization, more emphasis on plans outlining *how* to create incentives for a more positive influx of businesses to the downtown area, more examples of *how* to create a “consumer friendly” zone downtown. Does that mean creative measures to increase parking? What does “consumer friendly” mean? I guess one step in making Main Street “consumer friendly” means having businesses to “consume” from, but the term is rather vague, don’t you think?

Odd how most of the emphasis was on “taxes” and “lowering taxes” and “spreading out the tax base” – you know, I think taxes are rather low. These people should take a look at taxes in Burlington, or Richmond, or any place across the bridge. Taxes will run you 10 times what they cost here. I think taxes are low enough here, I’m not especially worried about lowering them. What I am worried about is creating a town that people will want to move to. And with all due respect to Mr. Yando, who says:

Yando: “The continued increase in taxes. It’s gotten to the point where it has started to downgrade our housing and lower property values. The $80,000 to $100,000 homes aren’t selling because the buyers look at heating the home and paying the taxes. They can go out of town and buy a house in that range and eliminate a tax. We need to freeze taxes and start looking at how we do business in the village because it is a business.”

I don’t think that people are not looking at homes in the cited price range because of the tax rate, or that they are going to outlying towns to buy those homes because of the heating costs, they are going to other towns to buy those homes because other towns offer a fucking Main Street – other towns in the area don’t have the dilapitated, boarded up buildings lining the streets. Other towns offer alternatives for *jobs* and opportunities for people to earn a living. How many people are going to buy a $100K house ina town where they are going to have to commute to outlying towns for a job? Wouldn’t it make sense to just look at housing alternatives in those outlying towns to begin with?

More than the tax rate, I think the underlying issue should be the business opportunities here in Malone. And the populace. Put some kind of law in front of voters that says “From now on, we are going to follow the model in Florida – once you’ve been on Welfare for 24 motnhs in a 60 month block of time, you get the boot. Welfare is a short term solution to an economic crises – it’s not a lifestyle.  Oh, and if you are on Welfare and have another kid, so sad, too bad. You shouldn’t be breeding when you can’t afford the kid(s) you have. No raise for subsequent children. Those kids are on your own dime.” Now, personally, I would include a little thing in there that says “If you are on welfare, you have to be in a training program of *some* kind. Get a GED, for Christ’s sake. You’re getting a paycheck and not doing anything all day – the least you can be doing is educating yourself. ” But that’s just me.

Unfortunately, I think that has to come on a State level, not a Town or Village referendum, although there should be contingency plans when a town finds itself home to a disproportionate number of unemployed people.  But I don’t think there are any such contingencies in place.

 So, anyway, I went and voted for my two people. The movie theater guy and the “Main Street” guy – Nephew and Yando.

Here are the unofficial results as reported this morning in the Press Republican.

VILLAGE OF MALONE
Trustee (two seats): Lenora Richards (D, Unity), incumbent, 597; Michael Maneely (R, Positive Change), incumbent, 440; Kenneth Nephew (R, Positive Change), 425; Todd LePine (D, Unity), 606; David Yando (Progressive Malone), 338; Boyce Sherwin (Progressive Malone), 331. 

Both my guys lost. Crap. No movie theater, no Main Street. And the guy that won was the one too busy too answer three questions from the Press Republican. Well that bodes well, now doesn’t it?

And let’s look at those numbers, shall we? Now, the Village is home to almost 15,000 residents. Everyone got two votes for Board member, because there were two openings. There was a total vote of less than 2,800. With two votes each, that means less than 1,500 people voted out of a total ppopulation of 15,000. Less than 10%. Which coincides nicely with that *other* figure we know of – the one that says slightly more than 10% of the population has a high school diploma.

Well, at least I know that the idiots around here aren’t determining my Village government. Apparently they are also too lazy to vote. I think Mr. Nephew with the idea of having a fucking movie theater should have went door to door and *told* these Welfare recipients that he wanted a movie theater in town, and that he was going to try to ensure that the snack bar at said movie theater would accept food stamps. He would have been elected in a landslide.

Jesus wept. 

 I hereby vow that I am going to learn more about local politics. I am going to attend all those “Village meetings” and shit. I am going to learn about the issues facing the community, and I am going to call to task the people elected to ensure that they address some of the issues that *I* think are important. I am going to ask questions, and get answers concerning the lack of job opportunities, and I’m going to seek out this Yando guy and find out why he feels that taxes and heating costs, and not the lack of job opportunities is the reason why higher end homes aren’t selling.

 And then *next* election, I am going to intelligently choose a candidate, and I am going to work on that candidate’s campaign to ensure that he or she is elected, and I am going to work dilligently to make sure that this place gets “revitalized”, and that somebody gets a fucking movie theater in here – and a bookstore.

Promise.

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4 Responses to “I Don’t Do Politics, but…”

  1. Estron said

    Kim, be very, very careful to endure that you yourself don’t wind up as the candidate. You’d have much more fun being the judge.

  2. John said

    Less than 10% turnout? That is absolutely astounding!

    And I’m with Estron – law is more your field, Kim.

  3. Well, I don’t think there’s a lot of worry about me running for any “political” office – other than judge. To run for a town council seat, I think they like you to have to have a “party affiliation”, which I don’t have, unless I want to be listed as belonging to the “Undecided” party. And to be perfectly honest, I don’t even know exactly what being a “town coucilman” entails. But I’m sure it’s a lot of boring stuff that I’d hate doing. I’d be much happier just being judge. Especially if I could start fining people for people stupid.

    Kim

  4. Lesmond said

    Yeah, My friend Tracy lost her bid for borough council. But, it was only by 30 votes, which was pretty good running as an Independent. We voted in one Democrat and one Republican (this guy is a teacher at my son’s school and pretty slick, but not essentially a nice guy).

    I’m willing to handle her campaign if she runs next time. Her strategy was to distribute flyers. That’s it. I think I can do better, very cheaply.

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