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Important note:

Please be aware that fair and even heated arguments are desired, but no one wants legal battles.  You will be writing under the laws of Mexico and Guanajuato so be aware of legal and political considerations.

The following articles on gringo politics in SMA  are listed on this page, in this order:

Absentee Voting registration for the 2004 U.S. Presidential Election   by Jon Sievert
Some thoughts about Phil Maher       by Sue Reid
Memories of Col. Phil Maher   by Janice and Fred Edison
Biblioteca election results, by Teddy Alten

April 27, 2004 Absentee Voting registration for the 2004 U.S. Presidential Election by Jon Sievert  

November’s U.S. Presidential election is shaping up as the most passionate and volatile in memory. Candidates from both major parties are already in full campaign mode months before the nominating conventions, and pundits are predicting a record turnout at the voting booth. With poll’s indicating that 2004 election will be very close, overseas absentee voting may well provide the deciding margin just as it arguably did in 2000.  

Do you want to vote, but don’t know how to apply for an absentee ballot, or if you’re even eligible? You can find all the answers, along with links to the form and instructions for applying, at www.absentees.org, a web site run by Absentee Voter Assistance, a non-partisan organization based in San Miguel de Allende that’s dedicated to helping Americans living in Mexico request a ballot.  

In most cases, you can register to vote no matter how long you’ve lived overseas, even if you have no remaining connection to a state. When you apply for an absentee ballot from the county and state where you last resided, you are automatically re-registered. Filling out the application form is a fairly straightforward process using instructions specific to your state.

 Links to the Federal Voting Assistance Program (FVAP) web site allow you to download the Online Federal Post Card Application and State-by-State Instructions in Adobe Acrobat (.pdf) format. Once opened in Adobe Acrobat Reader, you can fill out the application online and print it out, or you can print it blank and fill it in by hand. If you choose to fill it in by hand, take your time, print very legibly, and double check your work. If you make a mistake, start over with a new form. Country registrars who process the applications are quick to reject those that are illegible, incomplete, unsigned, or otherwise unacceptable.  

Note that this specific form may be used to request an absentee ballot only if you live outside the United States. Therefore, it you want the acknowledgement card and ballot sent to the U.S. address of a private mail service that forwards your mail to Mexico, the State Department recommends that you put your actual Mexican address in the Item 7 “Remarks” box, to show that you actually are a foreign resident.  

Once the form is completed, mail the application to the elections office in  the state and county where you are applying. State instructions not only specify what information is required, but also provide the address to send the application. La Conexión (Aldama #3) will mail the card at no cost, even if you do not have an account there. Many states allow faxing of voting materials. If yours does, the state instructions provide fax numbers and directions. If all goes well, you will receive your ballot a few weeks before the election.  

If you would like help filling out the form, AVA has a table in the Jardin every Tuesday morning, where trained volunteers will walk you through the process.  You can also obtain the federal post card application from the U.S. Consular Agency at Hernández Macías #72.  

If voting is important to you, don’t wait to request your ballot. Indications are that absentee balloting by overseas Americans throughout the world will rise sharply this year. Apply now, and make sure your vote is heard.

April 4, 2004     Some thoughts about Phil Maher       by Sue Reid

Although I knew it was coming, I read the announcement that Col Mahel wrote about retiring. I sincerely hope this community appreciates and will honor this man in July. Since 1972 he has served San Miguel starting and helping in so many areas that it is hard to even list. I also read the ad for a replacement...gee how are we going to replace him? I am amused at the ad saying 32 hours a week. How many times have I seen Phil's car there on weekends and holidays...it's more a 24 hour a day job with your wife helping. Visits to the Americans in jail all over this area, investigating deaths, having to identify people, helping runaway kids etc. etc. etc. It might be nice if you can the next time you see him to say "Thanks Phil" as we are sure going to miss him BIGTIME!

 

April 4, 2004 Memories of Col. Phil Maher   by Janice and Fred Edison

We all knew the day was coming and sure enough it is...on July 4th, 2004.  Nineteen years ago on the same date,  Phil Maher opened our first Consular Agency here in San Miguel de Allende.  This is one man I know who should write a book, however, I have heard that he has shredded his own personal notes and files.  I cannot begin to imagine what all he has seen and heard in nineteen years of service to the foreign community.  When I think of people that have gone "beyond the call of duty", Phil, is the first person that comes to mind.  When a U. S. citizen dies here,  he is the first to be notified.  He notifies the family and goes in and seals the house until the family arrives.  When U. S. citizens get put in jail here he is the first to be notified.  He said of all the problems he deals with that the saddest is imprisoned Americans.  I have often heard him say ....learn the laws of this Country and abide by them or there is nothing I can do to help you.  There is only a river between us, but I can assure you we are worlds apart.  I often remind visitors that this is a country of Napoleonic law and you are guilty until proven innocent.  That is really a tongue twister for most of us gringos.  Every week Phil and his wife Muriel go visit imprisoned Americans and take them gifts of toothpaste, toothbrushes, soap, books, food and other items we cannot imagine living without.  This is not part of Phil's job or even a requirement...just what he does on his own time to help his fellow Americans.  This man has no free time except when he plays his weekly golf game with his Mexican friends, the Judge, the Mayor, and the head of Immigration.  I think that this is where most of the problems are solved.  In fact, I have no doubt!  These are his best friends and they have immense respect for each other.  In the rest of his "free time" you will find him at our local hospital visiting the sick and attending the hospital board meetings.  His contributions to this community would be impossible to count.  This is one man who lives by the Boy Scout oath!  He deals with murders, runaways, kidnappings, abuse, and the destitute....not Mexicans....U. S. citizens.  In the rest of his spare time he "Feeds the Hungry" here in San Miguel, a program set up to feed those who have nothing to eat  nor the money to buy food.  We do not have food stamps in this country...  we have Phil and others like him who have set up these  feeding kitchens.  In our years here I have made frequent visits to Phil's office.  Just last week I had him notarize papers for me, as his signature and seal are the only legal notary for U.S. citizens who live in San Miguel.  He has performed other duties for us...my most famous case being the "fingernail case".  In 1992 I walked in to a "Nail Salon" to have my acrylic nails repaired.    I was quoted one hundred pesos by a young girl from California who owned the Salon.  When she finished my nails I handed her one hundred pesos only to be informed that it was one hundred dollars (U. S. dollars)!  I said something like...you've got to be kidding!!!  She assured me she was not kidding...so I gave her one hundred pesos and told her I would return with the rest of the money.  We were staying at Cynthia and Gene Mason's house on Aldama and I ran home to tell Fred what had happened.  We decided this was a case of "gringa ripping off gringa", not uncommon here!   About an hour later the policia appeared at the front door with a summons for me to appear in court to pay this girl!  That was the first time I entered Phil's office!  I remember he laughed out loud when I told him what had happened and told me to come back to his office on my appointed court date and that he would go with me to court!  A week later I appeared before Phil's friend the Mexican Judge!  Phil advised me to let him do all the "talking"!  Between them, they decided that it costs less than $100.00 to get your teeth fixed here, much less your false fingernails!  They both laughed out loud and we left.  To this day when I see the Judge on the streets I say hello!  A few weeks later the girl from California was on her way back home.  This was not her first trip to court with another "gringa".   Apparently, her prey, were other gringas!  I was told a long time ago that the people to watch out for here were my fellow Americanos...and this was definitely the case with the "fingernail lady"!   Another time we ended up at the Consulate was because we had crossed the bridge in Laredo without getting  a  visa or "car permit".  This is not something we are proud of or would suggest others do, but it was at Christmas, and it was cold and pouring down rain and the line for visa/car permits wrapped around three city blocks in Nuevo Laredo.  People were standing in the muddy streets with umbrellas. From past experiences it looked like at least a four hour line to us.  So... we made an instant  decision to just "go for it" !  The next hurdle was getting past the 16K check point ,  but again we were not stopped at the check point because it was cold and raining there also!  We made it all the way to SMA without visa/car papers ...we were wetbacks in Mexico!   It was not until after Christmas and we were getting ready to leave here that we said "oops"!  Off to Phil's office again with another stupid "gringo story".  I am sure he has heard them all!  However, he swears the "fingernail episode" was a first!  Within about fifteen minutes Phil had visa/car permits issued from immigration and we were legally on our way back to Texas.   Phil has often said that the biggest problems he has are between the Americans living here, and that there is little he can do but mediate, unless they commit a crime.  He has been known to suggest,  to what we tag "troublemakers",  that it would be better for them to go back to the states.  If they end up going to jail, there is little he can do but deliver his "care packages".  I cannot imagine the stories that have walked through his front door in nineteen years of service.  Nor can I imagine who is going to take his place.  Phil in another lifetime, before becoming our Consulate, was a Colonel in the Air Force.....forty two years of government service.  By many he is still called "The Colonel".  I call him "The Godfather".  I cannot begin to tell you how much we are all going to miss visiting with Phil at his big desk , where he has solved  our problems for nineteen years!  I do not know of a man or woman who could fill his huaraches!  I assume that the notes on my "Nail Salon" case have also gone through the shredder, but not the shredder in my memories!  Phil, adios does not mean goodbye!  We will be there among the many you have helped and cared for on the Fourth of July to wish you well on what I hear is your third career retirement.  I think your fourth career should be writing your memoirs....I know the shredder did not get it all!  

Biblioteca election results, by Teddy Alten, March 6, 2004

President:               Mary Ann Ramirez   90    William Bennett 146
Vice President:      David Bossman 79   Brian Carrahar 155
Treasurer:               Graciela  Loyola 119      Beverly Rosengren  110 
Ass't Treasurer:             Ali Zerriffi    180

          Recording Secretary:  Jerry Frankel  191
          Directors at Large:       Maria Paz Espino del Castillo   172         
                                                  Jose Trinidad Lanz Cardenas   164
                                                  Farley Wheelwright        160

          241 ballots were cast

        The race for treasurer was very close - a difference of only nine votes.  However, Bennett and Carrahar chalked up impressive victories.  Five positions were uncontested with a yes/no option.  The figures given for those represent the number of yes votes.

Objectives of this page:

1- to allow the full expression of ideas, criticism, suggestions, endorsements, etc., whenever desirable, for any political contest that effects almost only the local expatriate community.  In past contests, much of this occurred behind closed doors and in whispered gossip.   This page is an attempt to keep things cleaner by exposing more of the discussion to the light of public scrutiny. Therefore, for any contested local election (or even an individual office within the election), we will provide space for all sides.  We believe that yelling and screaming out in the open (thereby enabling all parties to defend themselves) is better than malicious and hidden gossip that goes undetected until it is too late to re-but it.  By providing separate departments for each election, we will segregate those who would be heard from those who do not want to hear it.

2- this section will contain all writings regarding "local non-Mexican politics" that meet the criteria described in Instructions .   All notices will be published in the date order of receipt, with the latest notices on top (the oldest nearer the bottom).  The publisher reserves the right to segregate (on a separate, but linked, page) notices that pertain to a specific and highly-contested election) so that people who wish to read about it, may, and people who wish NOT to read about it, will not have to.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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