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Those cryptic amendments had no chance

November 07, 2002|by TIM ROWLAND

I slithered into the polls Tuesday armed with an agenda. I wanted to stick it to Montgomery County.

I didn't even bother with page one of the ballot. I went straight to the bottom of page two, where they always have three or four of those "constitutional ballot questions" that make no sense whatsoever that you have to figure out on the fly.

You've seen them, maybe - assuming you don't stop once you get to that heated Orphans' Court race. The amendments always say something like "Emergency Legislation Authorization pursuant to Article XVI Section 34b Subtext 66aa First Second and Fourth Stanzas, whereby General Assembly is hereby for purposes of striking the establishment clause resurrecting emergency abolishment criteria with or without prejudice among the jurisdictions."

They could be outlawing Slim Jims for all I know, so I always vote against the amendments, just in case.

But this time I happened to notice that Montgomery County had its own little pet ballot initiative, and since they, along with their co-conspirators in Baltimore and Prince George's, are always sticking the rest of us with a governor we don't want, I was only too happy to give the initiative a mighty thumbs down.

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Besides being soothingly contrarian, I also think I made a good policy choice. The amendment allows the county council to "appoint a licensed and certified real estate appraiser to estimate the fair market value of property located in Montgomery County that is subject to immediate taking upon a finding that there is an immediate need for a right of way for county roads or streets."

The county already has the right to take your land, now they want the right to take it faster, I suppose. As of this writing, I don't know whether this amendment passed or not, but if you live in Montgomery County and come home from work to find a road where your house used to be, it is not my fault.

I realize by this time, some of you are wondering what I was doing at the polls in the first place, seeing as how I was trying to discourage voter turnout in a recent column.

Simple. I always try to suppress the number of ballots cast so my vote will count more. As strategies go, it leaves something to be desired, the candidates I vote for never win anyway, but you can't blame me for trying.

Tim Rowland is a Herald-Mail columnist. He can be reached at 301-733-5131, ext. 2324, or you may e-mail him at timr@herald-mail.com.

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