2010 Elections: Your ballot questions answered 

City Paper makes recommendations on referendums

Your civil duty doesn't end after you've picked your candidate. You still have six questions to answer. Here are brief explanations of each question and the City Paper's take on how to vote.

Amendment 1

A "Yes" vote will make it a constitutional right for citizens to hunt and fish and will permit the state to legally provide for proper wildlife management and the protection of private property rights.

Vote No. While we support hunting, we do not think that the privilege warrants constitutional protection in South Carolina. For the record, we also support comic book collecting, beat-boxing, and the bizarre, but commendable collecting of Coca-Cola memorabilia. And we welcome the opportunity to vote against constitutional amendments for these individual passions as well.

Amendment 2

A "Yes" vote will give employees the constitutional right to vote by secret ballot when they are voting on whether to be represented by a labor union.

Vote No. There are legitimate concerns from pro-union groups regarding the manipulation and legal maneuvering of employers when you schedule a secret ballot election, but employers also have a right to protection from intimidation, whether intentional or not, as a union builds its ranks. A democratic process should be the preferred way to either create or dissolve a union. That said, we are again disappointed to see Statehouse legislators using South Carolina's constitution to protect the state from an irrational fear of a federal ban on something like secret ballots. Just because Sean Hannity says it will happen doesn't mean it's true.

Amendment 3

A "Yes" vote will increase the amount of money the state government must keep in the General Reserve Fund (its "rainy day" fund) from 3 percent of the previous year's revenue to 5 percent of the previous year's revenue.

Vote Yes. If the recent recession has proven anything, it is that the state is not adequately insulated from an economic dip and too often seeks out ways to spend its money instead of saving it. This rainy day fund will be particularly important if legislators recklessly turn to fair-weather sales tax revenues to pay for the bulk of the state's programs.

Amendment 4

A "Yes" vote will require the Capital Reserve Fund's first priority will be to replenish the state's General Reserve Fund (its "rainy day" fund) instead of serving to offset mid-year budget cuts at state agencies.

Vote No. While saving a larger portion of revenues should be a priority, the legislature should not have its hands tied on prioritizing spending once revenues again increase. Restoring this rainy day fund first could jeopardize a host of necessary state programs cut in an economic crisis. Let the circumstances at the time drive the decision on where the money goes first, not the whim of 2010 voters.

County Question

Should Charleston County Council appoint a consolidated government charter commission for the purpose of preparing a proposed charter to establish county-wide consolidation of local government function or functions?

Vote Yes. A substantial reorganization of local governments in Charleston, centralizing power in a single municipal county government, is laughable in this heavily (and in some cases bitterly) divided Lowcountry. But county leaders are hoping to take this opportunity to look for ways to consolidate and share resources on programs that local municipalities can agree on. A good example of this efficiency is the new consolidated emergency call center. We're encouraged by the possibilities, but would hope the county sticks to what can be accomplished over any dreams of broader county control.

Ballot Question

Education Capital Improvements Sales and Use Tax Act Referendum for Charleston County.

Vote No. It is nearly impossible to imagine a process that could have been more rife with contention and mistrust than the rough road that has brought Charleston voters to consider adding a penny to their sales tax for new schools and improved facilities. Downtown parents feel their schools have been held hostage and their children sent to refugee camps in a dishonest attempt to twist arms for votes. It is possible that a majority of voters would support a sales tax increase over climbing property taxes, but this approach has sullied any goodwill on the issue. The school district should regroup and re-engage parents and their communities with an honest dialogue about the true needs of these schools and return to voters later with a measure that doesn't require nose-holding to even consider.


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