Monday, November 7, 2016

Flip Your Ballot and Vote YES for Measure C

I'm already on the record as endorsing and planning to vote YES on Measure C, but the recent eruption of opposition from the local political establishment has annoyed me enough that I want to weigh in again. If you haven't voted already (if you have, I sure hope you voted yes) then tomorrow when you go to the polls, I urge you to flip your ballot and vote YES for Measure C.

The local establishment doesn't like change and it sure doesn't like potential challenges to the status quo. Here's the problem I have with both of those arguments: they're completely and utterly bogus.

The opposition seems to be under the impression that the voters (those poor, poor voters) would be flooded with so many ballot initiatives they wouldn't know what to do with themselves. They think it'll decrease participation in local elections, not increase. They worry that 'the students won't understand what they're signing' when the hordes of radicals begin petitioning the city for who knows what.

But consider the recent history- I guess there was an initiative that set up the Citizen's Police Review Board. But the big ones that spring to mind are 21-Only and 21-Only: The Wrath of Bar and of course, the First Avenue Extension Shenanigans.  I can think of three- a grand total of three, maybe four since I've been alive- and in all three cases, the local establishment eventually had their way anyway, so the idea that we're going to be California all of a sudden is absurd. 

In short, the Hardcore Townies are clutching their pearls. 

But here's the other kicker: this measure doesn't cover charter revisions, it doesn't cover the City Budget or Zoning Laws- it doesn't threaten in any way to replace the local structure of City Governance with direct democracy/ballot initiatives. What it does do is give citizens another way to participate in local government as well as bring the City's own rules for initiatives in line with what's written in the Iowa Code. 

I'm not immune to the argument that the real problem is lack of voter turnout for local elections- or maintaining interest enough to shepherd these initiatives onto the ballot and over the finish line to actually make sure they win. I just don't see how voting down Measure C solves either of these problems. In a fast-moving, tech savvy society today, people want options on how they participate in the process. This, Measure C would deliver. But if Iowa City is as progressive as it claims to be, then why close the door to a Measure that would bring the current charter in line with existing state code while increasing the potential for participation all at the same time?

Doesn't seem very progressive to me. So tomorrow- flip your ballot and vote YES for Measure C.

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