Monday, November 3, 2008

Understand What's On The Ballot Before Voting

The big event is tomorrow—Election Day.

From all indications, turnout will dwarf our usual participation. While high turnout is great, there will be some inconvenience and some frustration as the system strains under the load. Please be considerate of the poll workers and the other voters. Voting is the sacred rite of democracy, for which hundreds of thousands of brave Americans have sacrificed life and limb. An hour or two of waiting is a trivial matter compared to what it has taken to achieve and protect this privilege.

If we all will take a few moments to look over the sample ballots printed in this paper, it will make things go a lot smoother. Trying to read and understand the ballot, especially the amendments, while in the booth, is not time efficient. It is also inconsiderate of those waiting to vote. Please come prepared, with a good understanding of what you are voting o­n, as well as a good attitude about what it is going to take to have a satisfactory voting experience.

Usually, I wait until the end of the column to talk about the number of calls we get and process. I want to change that somewhat, due to the changing nature of the calls we are now receiving. We got over 500 calls last week, and an alarming number were simply folks looking for work. What you have been reading in the papers and hearing o­n the news about credit sluggishness and a business downturn has now arrived in our neighborhood. This is even more vexing when you consider that we in Beaufort County are in much better shape job-wise than almost any county in the state.

I want to address this immediately and locally before there is time for any negative psychology to accumulate and begin to build o­n itself. To that end, I have been talking to Ms. Graves at First Baptist Church of Bluffton and others in the faith community about having a job fair in the Calhoun Street Promenade to match those seeking jobs with businesses needing workers. This is also an agenda item for my weekly meeting with Chris Long, vice president for political affairs of the Hilton Head Island/Bluffton Chamber of Commerce. I also plan to meet with Mary O’Neill of the Bluffton Old Town Merchant’s Society. A certain fraction of unemployment is about matching workers with jobs. A well-organized job fair is the right fix for that need. This effort must proceed with all deliberate speed.

Another theme that is manifesting in the constituent calls is a concern over banking regulations, particularly from folks who have been getting change notices from their credit card issuers. There have also been calls and emails about regulations governing protection of renters when the places in which they reside become involved in foreclosure proceedings.

Unfortunately, most of the regulations having to do with banking and lending are federal, with the states being somewhat limited because this is interstate commerce. However, I have been in contact with our Labor, Commerce and Industry Committee with questions about how we might be able to address some of the concerns being expressed. Those answers will be forthcoming.

As the election concludes, we will begin planning our delegation meeting. If there is something you need placed o­n the agenda, please call Ashley at the delegation office and we will get it taken care of.