Note - 17 Jun 2008 - Just in case you read this blog via RSS you may want to see the comments section to follow a very engaging discussion .
This week, Laurel City Council Member Mike Sarich published a press release calling for the addition of a second city polling location in ward two. In his message, Councilman Sarich opens with the following quote, "Laurel in potential violation of multiple election laws, Sarich says." He goes on to provide his findings in support of this conclusion drawing from his own twelve-page legal and quantitative analysis previously provided to the council.
Councilman Sarich concludes: "If we want to continue to willfully and knowingly potentially violate the above laws and guidelines, it is clear that Laurel may face intervention from the courts. In order to avoid this, Laurel should add at least one polling place and redraw its current Ward boundaries". You can find Councilman Sarich's complete press release here.
Laurel Council President Fred Smalls, on behalf of the rest of the City Council, responded with his own message Friday stating, "I, along with the other members of the Laurel City Council, are appalled by Mr. Sarich’s press release and its intentionally misleading, prejudicial allegations developed by his desire to preempt the election process."
Mr. Smalls' continues, "Mr. Sarich has made a bold attempt to publicly shame, embarrass, and discredit the City Council and the City of Laurel. The City Council will meet in special meeting on Monday, June 16, 2008 at 7:00 p.m. to publicly censure Mr. Sarich for his disgraceful actions." You can find Mr. Smalls complete press release here.
I've been an advocate for a second polling place in Ward Two since I served on a city voter participation task force in 1994. However, I strongly disagree with Mr. Sarich's tactics. I'm afraid that he may have turned an excellent policy initiative into an election season political stunt. Everyone loses when elected officials let political agendas trump sound policy making processes.