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Tuesday, August 8, 2006
Votes to Watch Today

Lieberman, McKinney, American Fork's tax increase, and that 900 West thing all are voted on today.

Nationally . . .

The most interesting vote is the Senate race in the Connecticut Democratic primary. Multiterm incumbent and former vice presidential candidate Joe Lieberman is trailing in the polls to a rich political rookie, Ned Lamont. Lieberman's crimes are (a) that he treats political opponents such as President Bush as political opponents, not Satan incarnate, and (b) that he supports the US presence in Iraq. Lieberman is preparing to run as an independent if he is defeated today. A Lieberman victory will suggest that the Democratic Party can still be taken seriously; his defeat will signal rather the opposite. I'm rooting for Lieberman, even if he is a liberal, and even if a three-way general campaign might split the vote and elect a Republican. The Senate needs more vertebrates, not fewer. (There was that unfortunately period as Al Gore's running mate, where he flirted with the cartilaginous lifestyle choice, but he put that behind him.)

Of less interest, but still worth watching, is the Georgia primary race for six-term Rep. Cynthia McKinney's House seat. She's the one who had that childish, spoiled-brat scuffle with a US Capitol Police officer a few months ago, and made headlines before that by claiming the Bush Administration had advance knowledge of the September 11 attacks. A McKinney defeat, like a Lieberman victory, would seem to suggest that reasonable people might someday be able to take the Democratic Party seriously again.

For further discussion of these and other national races of interest today, see this Fox News article.

Locally . . .

In American Fork, that is, the interesting votes are in tonight's City Council meeting. The first action item on the agenda is to set the certified tax rate for the fiscal year which began last month. A 35 percent increase in the City's portion of the property tax was presented as what the City needs, but Mayor Thompson and possibly others are now pushing for a lower, 20 percent increase. This will involve shrinking the City's reserve and probably delaying some already overdue capital improvements. I expressed some concerns about that in a recent post (the one that ended with an ice-skating elephant), and I hope to hear some discussion of those concerns. Specifically, I'd like to have some sense of which capital improvements will be delayed. In that earlier post I called the 20 percent increase good news -- which it is, as long as 20 percent is actually enough. I expect 20 percent to pass, but I'll be very interested to see if the vote is unanimous. Will anyone oppose an increase, in a fit of sympathy for taxpayers as such or of simple hatred of taxes, or out of a desire to run for mayor in 2009? Will anyone oppose 20 percent because he or she thinks it is not enough of an increase?

The next two action items on tonight's American Fork City Council agenda relate to the 900 West flap I mentioned yesterday. It's fairly obvious that there will be at least two of the needed three votes to defeat the proposed change to commercial zoning. Will there be three? More? Will any member of the Council mention the dishonorable tactics of one side? Or will the Council and Mayor diplomatically pretend that both sides were virtuous and kind, and cite the merits alone as their reason for voting one way or the other? I'm not saying the diplomatic option would be a bad stance, but it is a point of curiosity. If I had to guess, I'd say the land will remain residential, but the vote will not be unanimous -- and no elected official will mention the bullying, even if some of the residents mention it, and even if more of it occurs in the meeting tonight.

"If I were on the Council" is a dangerous game, but . . . If I were on the Council, thinking of the need to put a water bond to public vote in November, I'd already be concerned about the impact of a tax increase on voter attitudes. But I would also wonder if it might be unwise to antagonize the well-organized, motivated folks in the northwest sector of American Fork by voting against them and with the Carson family. They are a political force to be reckoned with, and not just on this issue. They had a lot to do with who was elected to the Council in November 2005 and who was not. I wish other areas of the city displayed that level of political energy. I'd want them on my side going into the water vote.

I'll blog again tonight, when most or all of the results are in.

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