Wednesday, October 13, 2004

The Midas Touch

Everything we touch improves, some of the young’uns have remarked. Today, we began to touch an essential function of the office: the processing of absentee ballot requests. Incredibly, but almost predictably given the record on such matters, no one had been assigned responsibility for organizing the reviewing, photocopying and delivering and then logging of these ballots. There is a lot of apprehension among folks here about voting. Absentee ballots were supposed to be mailed beginning today. Considering the absentee ballots sent to Robert and myself at our California addresses arrived a week ago, this county does seem a bit behind the ball. Especially if you are out of state, 21 days isn’t a long time to allow for mail both ways and turnaround time. Who can say when the ballots we are still processing and will deliver tomorrow, and the following day, and the day after that, etc., etc. to the Supervisor of Elections’ office will arrive at their proper destinations? We are going to stop telling people to request them on the 18th, when early voting begins, since we feel the need to err on the side of extreme caution.

Despite the fact that we are working long and hard, my frustration and almost disbelief at how unorganized things really are, and likely will remain for the most part, continues to do daily battle with my will to serve the cause. I’m observing more frayed nerves all around, actually, as the days count down. Robert and I have discussed how part of our reluctance to jump into a larger role earlier was an assumption of an organization that just wasn’t there. It took us so long to see and believe it that we let the moment to assume more responsibility and authority slip by. I was so nervous about failing were I too assume responsibility for the big tasks I saw undone; now I realize however the goal is not perfection, and I could have made things a lot better had I been willing to assume leadership. It is a lesson—one of the many—I will take with me out of this campaign.

I’ve got to hit the sack now, but I wanted to end with an update on the office recycling. We drove out to the Solid Waste Authority with my car full of plastic and aluminum, and barely found what we thought was the recycling center. We dumped our stuff where this random employee was using a frontloader to push recyclables into a giant heap in this warehouse. We’re about to leave when these two manager types run out to us and start asking questions. Turns out we had landed in the commercial recycling area, which is run by a private company that gets paid by how much they collect in trucks from curbside programs. In other words, our saving these hundreds of bottles and cans from the landfill wasn’t making these guys money. Ouch. So it appears that other than those random igloos and curbside programs, which aren’t available in many places, in this county Joe citizen is out of luck finding places to recycle. Guess voting isn’t the only arena where CA has the leg up on FL. It makes me miss the Golden State!

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