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Council approves voting locations

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By Arin McKenna

The Los Alamos County Council approved polling places for the 2014–2015 elections cycle during its Tuesday meeting.

County Clerk Sharon Stover introduced the plan, which will again make use of Vote Centers where residents will be able to vote at any of the three locations.

Councilor Kristin Henderson objected to one location in room 200 at the Los Alamos County Municipal Building, which would also be the main voting center during 22 days of early voting.

“It takes a while to get the elevator upstairs, and not everyone can walk up stairs,” Henderson said. “I think it’s really important to have access. Even though it’s only a minor inconvenience for some people, I would rather see it on the first floor.”

Henderson asked why council chambers or the board and commissions room (room 110) could not be used.

County Administrator Harry Burgess explained that those two rooms are the only ones with audio/visual equipment for broadcasting meetings, and setting up a voting station would not allow any regularly scheduled board or council meetings to take place during the early voting period.

Councilor Steve Girrens suggested moving board meetings to council chambers during elections so room 110 could be set up as a voting center.

Council amended the motion to include that change and voted unanimously to approve it.

The White Rock Fire Station #3 training room will also be an Election Day location as well as an early voting center, but will be open for only 17 days.

The Los Alamos County Golf Course multi-functional room will be the third Election Day voting center.

Absentee ballots can be mailed in or delivered to the clerk’s office on the second floor of the municipal building.

Henderson also pulled two items from Tuesday’s consent agenda.
Henderson pulled the Boards and Commissions luncheon meeting minutes not because of any objection but so she could urge citizens to read the minutes for information on board activities.

“The boards and commissions are doing a lot of interesting work for the community, and yet one of the disconnects in our community is the rest of the town doesn’t necessarily know what they’re doing,” Henderson said.

Henderson also urged citizens to sign up to serve on the Fuller Lodge Historic Districts Advisory Board and attend the Oct. 22 council work session.

Henderson also pulled an item that would allow artist Susanne Vertel to produce 50 24-inch maquettes each of her statues of Dr. Robert Oppenheimer and Gen. Leslie Groves.

The original agreement with Vertel allowed the county to retain reproduction rights, contrary to the typical agreement between artists and purchasers.

Vertel requested the change, and the Arts in Public Places Board agreed that 50 maquettes would be a minimum to make the labor intensive process of creating bronze maquettes financially viable for the artist.

Henderson was afraid the agreement would negatively impact the county’s investment, and also asked if the county would be entitled to a percentage of the sale of the maquettes.

“Under federal statute, the work of art belongs to the artist, even though they sell it, and they have a right to recreate it however they want to,” County Attorney Rebecca Ehler said. “For some reason the county chose to specifically change that in making this original agreement.”

Ehler pointed out that neither Albuquerque nor Santa Fe requires exclusive rights on commissioned works, although they may place limitations on reproduction.

“Typically, if an artist is going to give away their intellectual property rights–which is not typical–they would charge more for the commissioned work because they would not be able to reproduce it,” said Community Services Director Charlie Kalogeros-Chattan. “And in this case, the amount that the county paid was the market rate. It’s not that we paid twice what we would have and now we’re giving that up.”

Kalogeros-Chattan also noted that reproductions can actually enhance a piece of art rather than devalue it.

“If you think of how many reproductions of the Mona Lisa you’ve seen in your life, which does not make you not want to see the original, it actually makes you want to see it,” Kalogeros-Chattan said.

“Should these maquettes become iconic of Los Alamos, it may make people want to come see it in life size.”

During public comment, Los Alamos Historical Society President Ron Wilkins supported the change and agreed with Kalogeros-Chattan that the maquettes could generate interest in Los Alamos. He also suggested that artists may be willing to accept a lower price for commissions if they are able to reproduce their work.

Council approved both items unanimously.