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Nov. 4, 2004


Morning after


One thing that can be said about the voters of Humboldt County is that unlike the nation, they spoke clearly on some big issues -- defeating a sales tax increase, approving two school bond measures and giving one young Eureka City Council incumbent four more years. I appreciate election decisions that aren't close, especially after staying up far too late watching the state of Ohio turning pink but not quite red.

I heard from several irate Journal readers this past week regarding the paper's endorsement of Chris Kerrigan's opponent. I patiently explained to callers that the race was supposed to be nonpartisan and that Eurekans were fortunate there were two good candidates from which to choose. I revealed that our editorial staff was not unanimous when we discussed endorsements and that I personally made the final decision in that race. I told one caller that no, I'm not quite ready to retire, but I would keep her suggestion in mind.

When I called the office Tuesday night and learned of the easy Kerrigan victory, one staffer, a Kerrigan fan, asked if I was going to be "contrite" in my congratulatory remarks. Hmmm. "Contrite: grieving and penitent for a sin or shortcoming." I think that's a bit harsh.

In any case, I sincerely congratulate Chris and wish him luck in facing the challenges of the next four years. I am sure he will continue to work hard toward his progressive vision of Eureka's future. (And for a preview of just how tough that may be, see this week's cover story on how he came out on the short end of a recent 4-1 vote.)

Congratulations also go to all those who worked hard on the campaign to pass Measure Q, a bond for facilities improvement at the College of the Redwoods. Its easy approval indicates that voters are willing to tax themselves, or in this case allow the college to borrow, when the goal is specific and the benefits clearly defined. Voters apparently were not ready for, nor did they see the direct benefits of, Measure L, the county's proposed 1 percent sales tax hike.

As a footnote to the local election, it is clear that there is a need to strengthen financial disclosure. In two contests -- the opponents of Measure L and the backers of the mysterious, last-minute anti-Kerrigan ads -- the financiers were able to hide their identity from the voters. Voters are entitled to this information. They should demand it.

Regarding the national election results: What is clear is that half of the nation, give or take a few million, thinks this country is on the wrong path -- launching a pre-emptive war for the first time in our history, allowing the erosion of civil liberties, racking up an unconscionable debt to leave our children -- and may continue to be for four more years.

So on Wednesday morning I found myself re-reading two essays in this week's Time magazine. "The Morning After" by Nancy Gibbs reminds us that there are many values we share, that we are not a nation of two extremes. "Large percentages of Americans ... want to attack the terrorists aggressively but also keep strong relations with other countries, oppose gay marriage but support equal rights for gays, want abortion legal but restricted and limited."

The second essay is, "How to Break the Political Fever: A true believer offers advice for life after Nov. 2 -- especially if your man loses" by Garrison Keillor. "What will reconcile us is what has always restored our sanity, and that is the plain pleasures of the physical world, our common love of coffee, the world of apples, the movement of birds, the lives of dogs, the touch of skin. Music. Dancing to music. Shooting baskets. ... "


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