Time to count all votes

DO YOU LIE… much? Experts say lying actually makes social interactions easier, as in: “Yes, dear, I think the tattoo on the end of your nose does kind of look like my mother…” But what about bigger fibs, the type that could affect the outcome of an election?

County Republican Party leaders say a lot of local voters–245 of them–lied on their paper ballots in this month’s election by swearing that they were eligible to vote here when they actually do not live in Columbia County. These challenges raised by the GOP have left the outcome of several close local elections in doubt.

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Where’s that $9 million?

$9 MILLION is missing from the county treasury… kind of. The money was never there, or it was, but not from the sources that the people in charge led the public to believe. But nobody took the loot, so, really, what’s the big deal?

Confused? County supervisors professed to be when it became clear in 2008 that for many years county government has claimed reimbursements from the federal and state government that neither Washington nor Albany were required by law to pay. The county’s game of make-believe artificially inflated what they reported its fund balance–the amount of money the county keeps in the bank for a rainy day or to help cushion the tax impact of big projects.

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Murphy’s law?

ON A HOT DAY last summer Representative Scott Murphy (D-20th) stood before a couple hundred people gathered at the Golden Harvest farm store in Kinderhook. The main topic that day was healthcare, and Mr. Murphy said he favored reforming the nation’s healthcare system. Using what seemed like irony at the time, he told the crowd that this country has the best health care in the world “for the people who can afford it.”

Even before he narrowly won election to Congress to fill the seat vacated when Kirsten Gillibrand was appointed to the U.S. Senate, Mr. Murphy could afford good care. As a member of the House of Representatives, he has all the care he needs. And the irony now is that Mr. Murphy voted No on the bill adopted late Saturday by the House that would reform the nation’s healthcare system.

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Albany squeezes us again

HEY, BUDDY, CAN YOU spare 10 bucks? It’ll help out a neighbor who’s deep in debt and can’t find a way out. You already know some members of the family involved. It’s not too much to ask for a good cause, is it?

It depends. Even in this economy, what’s $10 if it can help lighten a neighbor’s load? But what if the neighbors in question are the 19 million people who live in the State of New York, and the folks with their hands in your pocket whispering that this little bitty extra contribution won’t hurt at all are the leaders of state government? And what if that $10 won’t make a significant dent in the multi-billion-dollar budget hole the state faces. In other words, it’s quite likely the state will be back for more. Much more.

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Does this election matter?

THIS OFF-YEAR ELECTION doesn’t really matter, does it? All races are local, so no TV ads tell us which candidate threatens puppies, national security and helpless grandparents. How many people even know when or where to vote?

Actually, in Columbia County, quite a few do. More than 80% of county residents over the age of 18 are registered to vote, and turnout is higher than the national and state averages. Voters here understand the importance of selecting the officials who will determine our town and county tax burdens. The decisions these officials make affect everything from whether our roads get plowed to the kind of neighborhoods we’ll leave for the next generation.

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