Sunday, May 2, 2010

Too many good choices

I'm not sure I'm all that crazy about "Internet democracy." Surveys, petitions, and straw polls taken over the 'net must certainly be skewed as all get-out. Yet it seems we're stuck with them.

A fascinating on-line vote that's going on right now is giving me fits because there are too many good candidates, and there's some significant cash to be had by the winner.

Theodor Jacobsen Observatory at the
University of Washington needs a new
roof. You can help! UW photo.
My friend Clarence, who recently became the CEO of the Japanese Cultural and Community Center of Washington, tipped me off first with a Facebook note requesting a vote for the center so it could get part of a million dollar grant to help renovate their facilities. A few days later, I went with Ma Weisenheimer to On the Town at the 5th Avenue Theatre, and they handed out cards afterward asking for votes so they could get some dough to fix up their lobby. I didn't make the connection at the time, but when I logged on to check it out, I learned that they were competing for the same pot of money.

The pot is $1 million to be doled out by the American Express Partners in Preservation Seattle-Puget Sound initiative. The partners are essentially American Express and the National Trust for Historic Preservation. More than 100 organizations submitted applications for the grants. Twenty-five nominees were selected for the vote, which began April 15 and ends May 12. You can register at the site and are encouraged to vote daily for your favorite.

When I signed on I noticed several other projects of interest. One is the Theodor Jacobsen Observatory at the University of Washington. Weisenheimer has done some writing on behalf of TJO in his alter ego as Seattle Astronomy Examiner. Town Hall Seattle is a worthy pick. King Street Station, Kirkland Arts Center, and the Point No Point lighthouse are all on the list. As we roll into the last 10 days of Chicago-style voting (early and often) it appears the race is between the Schooner Adventuress out of Tacoma and Town Hall Seattle, with the 5th Avenue running a distant third. Alas, the observatory is near the back of the pack, with less than one percent of the vote. There may not be enough astronomers in the area; the number of hits on my Examiner articles would bear that out!

While I've given the observatory and the cultural center my support so far, I think I'll give my remaining votes to Town Hall to see if they can't catch the schooner.

As was the case with George W. Bush, all is not lost for those who don't win the popular vote. The top vote-getter is guaranteed a grant, but the partners will divvy up the rest of the pot among the rest of the nominees as they see fit. I hope the "supreme court" gives something to my favorites, too!

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