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Guest Opinion: Democracy is priceless

BY LORI CARDELLA | OCTOBER 13, 2009 7:20 AM

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As I write this progress note on Oct. 11, we are nine days into our quest to obtain 7,299 signatures in order to call for a special election to fill the Board of Supervisors’ seat left vacant by the recent death of Larry Meyers. Thus far, a small but determined cohort has accumulated 945 signatures, not including our e-mail network. We have 25 to 33 days remaining to obtain a minimum of 7,299.

We have discovered that the most common argument against a special election is money. Johnson County Auditor Tom Slockett estimates a price tag of $75,000 to decide an 11-month term, in which normally only 10 percent of the electorate partakes. My rebuttals follow:

1) A local official who only wants one’s money and denies one’s right to vote has overstayed her or his welcome, in my opinion. One may as well live in Cuba, Venezuela, or North Korea.

If I may elaborate: The county budget last year was $75 million. Since last November, voters have passed a $20 million property tax to buy “green space.” A few months later, voters approved a 1-cent local sales tax, not to mention the “franchise fee” that the Iowa City Council will soon vote on.

Councilors can levy up to a 5 percent tax on gas and electricity.

A recent state Legislature maneuver allowed local governments to impose such “fees,” thus circumventing the people’s right to vote. According to MidAmerican Energy, approximately $840,000 will be generated for each percentage point of the “franchise fee.” Oh … and did I mention the $80,000 spent on a sculpture? I would hope Solon Mayor Rick Jedlicka would reconsider and sign this petition for a special election.

2) The other argument is the amount of time remaining on Meyers’ seat, which is approximately 11 months. To this I say, the above taxes have been imposed in fewer than nine months, with the exception of the Iowa City City Council’s yet-to-be-determined fee on gas and electricity.

Please do not put a price tag on our right to vote. Help us fight apathy and complacency when it comes to local, state, and national governments. We are truly grateful “we the people” still have the right to petition our governments when such injustices are perpetrated on our right to vote.

Consider signing our petition for a special election.

Lori Cardella is a Solon resident.


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