Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Your Living, Breathing, Suffocating NM Constitution

The U.S. Constitution perfectly fits the oxymoronic description of "secular holy text" in this country. It's an incredible document brought to ultimate reverence by social studies teachers and praciticing lawyer alike. Heck, some folks feel it was divinely inspired ala The Ten Commandments.

But there is the Constitution and there's your run-of-the-mill constitutions. New Mexico's, for example. It seems the guiding legal light of Enchantoland does not allow school elections to be combined with other elections, meaning that ABQs streetcar tax extension vote can't be held alongside the upcoming school board election. And being the Constitution, our leaders are resigning themselves to defeat on the idea, instead of just coming out and saying "the Constitution is stupid".

Let me be the first to say the NM Constitution is stupid on this matter. Living in America, I think a bolt of lightning is supposed to strike me dead at this point. As no voltage seems to be running through me except for this Ceylonese Breakfast Tea I'm gulping, let me list some reasons why this is dumb:

  1. This is the same constitution that has us vote for googleplex judgeship races when 95% of us have no idea who the heck we're voting for, or against.
  2. School board races usually get a turnout percentage roughly equal to that of an avant-garde jazz concert. Combining these pitiful races with anything is a good idea. Unless the original idea was to have as few people vote as possible. Hmmm...maybe the NM Constitution is brilliant after all...
  3. Isn't it just the least bit funny that ABQ has to hold a costly election to continue a tax to build a streetcar that can't be combined with another costly election to "elect" some bozos to a school board that is widely ridiculed? There's a joke in there somewhere...

2 comments:

Michelle Meaders said...

That does seem dumb. Maybe the prohibition is because the boundaries of school districts aren't the same as any other entity. But in the last election we had two different ballots in my precinct (and 7 others) because of AMAFCA.

Aren't we having an election for the even-numbered city council districts in October? That will provide plenty of time for the streetcar people (and opponents) to do their homework.

Besides, we need to vote on an issue that got left off the ballot this month -- for continuing the open space quarter-cent GRT.

I think the mayor came out against the Arts GRT tax (which he had supported in 2004) because he was saving room for this transportation tax.

Michelle Meaders said...

I was wrong -- couldn't get to the Journal article. Here it is from the Albuquerque Tribune yesterday:

Arcane law delays vote on streetcar

http://www.abqtrib.com/news/2006/nov/28/arcane-law-delays-vote-streetcar/

"Back in territorial days, women were allowed to vote in school elections but nothing else, according to City Attorney Bob White. The state constitution still mandates that school issues stand alone on the ballot."

How interesting! They must have missed that one when they redid the State Constitution decades ago. After the state Equal Rights Amendment was passed, they were supposed to make it all gender-neutral. Maybe there's a clause that covers sections they missed.