Sunday, December 10, 2006

Sunday Banana Hearald wrap up

Two stories this morning (Sunday) appear concerning the recent local elections. First Blake Aued has a story concerning the significant changes in our incoming commission. See it here:
Line up Favors Mayor

Anyone else a little creeped out by the power-hungry tone of Elton Dodson's comments?

And then there's this editorial, which I'm going to assume is the work of Jason Winders. (Let us know if I'm wrong, Jason)
I think this idea is only a good one if we actually had a committed, informed electorate. Unfortunately, we don't. I'm still reeling with all of the potential implications this type of system could have, so for now, I'll just put it up for general discussion

31 comments:

rmabry said...

Along the lines of the ABH, Blake's newest blog thread is pretty good:
http://blogs.onlineathens.com/comment/reply/250

Chuck said...

Power corrupts. We have seen that with the Mayor and Commission so far. Now we will see the conclusion of that adage - absolute power corrupts absolutely.

Anonymous said...

From my bag of Conservative sayings:

If you don't like Athens so much, why don't you just leave!

Tom Reagan said...

Then maybe you shouldn't have quit, you fucking loser. Put your money where your mouth is, Chuck. Oh wait, you couldn't raise any money 'cause even the republicans in this town think your a chump.

Again, just please go away.

Chuck said...

Tommy: Again, request considered and denied. And every time I hear that someone wants me to just go away so they can rule totally unchallenged, that simply fortifies my will to stay here and be a well-deserved thorn in their side.

Some people call it sadism, some people call it tenacity. Perhaps it's somewhere in between. But in any case, as long as I know I'm annoying you by being here, here is exactly where I am going to stay.

Have you ever heard the saying, I'm here, I'm queer, you need to get over it? Well 2 out of 3 ain't bad!

Polusplagchnos said...

You showed your cards too soon, Chuck. If the reason why you choose to stay around is to annoy people, all they have to do is just completely and totally ignore you. Every post, every comment, every time.

But, as for being a "thorn", the Athenians killed Socrates, but he had some points. If you think you play the same role for today's Athenians, there's really only one way this can end.

Anonymous said...

Chuck,

Will you please run for Mayor?

Chuck said...

I'm waiting for when David Lynn or Elton Dodson announce for Mayor, so it can be a fun fight! :)

rmabry said...

Representative Elect Doug McKillip gave a great speech today at the Press Conference for raising the minimum wage.

On the same day from Insider Advantage:

Legislative Per Diem Rate Bumped From $128 To $173
Athens, Ga.
(12/11/06) The “per diem” allowance for Georgia legislators will rise to $173 from the current $128 beginning in January, the Legislative Services Committee decided today.
Meeting in Athens during the biennial legislative institute which gave rise to the committee’s existence years ago, the committee - composed of ranking Republicans and Democrats from both chambers - approved the change unanimously.
Senate Majority Leader Tommie Williams, R-Lyons, said the change brings the state in line with the federal per diem level. “People were going in the hole,” he said. “In Atlanta you can’t get a hotel room and meals and we just didn’t feel like legislators ought to be going in the hole.”
Williams said the committee was shown a study, prepared at the request of House Majority Leader Jerry Keen, which ranked Georgia 50th in the nation for legislative compensation, reimbursement and per diem.
“You can’t find a place to stay, even if you rent an apartment, for $120 a day and buy meals,” Williams said.
Even so, watch for some mildly sneering headlines when this hits the commercial press tomorrow morning.

hillary said...

Not to change the subject from who is or isn't a wacko, but what kind of poor consequences could the implementation of instant runoff voting have?

rmabry said...

I can't really think of any, but I've heard a couple of times now that they are out there. I think it could hurt political consultants who have expertise in navigating a general and then a runoff, but other than that... i dunno.

Blackfin_Day said...

My cynical two cents worth about instant runoffs is
a) the ability of the electorate to process the concept; and

b) the ability of candidates to effectively campaign and get their message out

I'm just not sure how this would work and not be confusing for an electorate that already gets confused by the process. I'm also really wary of whether even sophisticated voters would REALLY make their second choice based upon a consideration of the issues, or whether it would be whoever's next on the list after their chosen candidate.
To look a our most recent race, for example, there were Tom Chasteen supporters who supported him from day one of his campaign. Some of them may have been from the "Anyone but Heidi" camp, but others (I know for a fact) knew him personally as their commissioner and decided early on that he had their vote. Were these people paying attention to other candidates during the general campaign? Possibly not. Would they really be able to make an informed "second choice" as to between heidi and charlie? Would they be that exicited about it? Common knowledge tended to favor Tom NOT making it to a runoff, but what if it was a closer race than the one we had this year? If you're voing for YOUR candidate on election day, in a race you think he's gonna win, how concerned are you with a "what if" second choice vote?

Campaign-wise, it's sticky as well. I think it might do the opposite of what the ABH editorial says it would do about more responsive candidates, it might give us even more vagueness from candidates who are trying to piss off/alienate as few voters as possible.

I think it's a bad idea, the more I think about it. Maybe a shorter runoff season might be better.

rmabry said...

blackfin,

good points. I would add that not only do voters have to vote for their second choice but as many candidates as there are in the race minus one. So if you had six candidates, you would have to number 1-5 in order to ensure that your vote counted in every scenario. Check my math on that. I can see how that might be confusing.

Campaign wise, I think it's actually good because a candidate can't go after the conservative vote in the general and then move to the left or vice versa.

The cost is a factor but the overwhelming factor to me is that a lot more people would participate in the process even if it is just the same number of people who are currently voting in the general. To me, that outweighs all other concerns. With a runoff electorate, the vast majority of voters are disenfranchised.

Blackfin_Day said...

rmabry said...
With a runoff electorate, the vast majority of voters are disenfranchised.

I would respectfully disagree with the term "disenfranchised." Voters who choose not to return to the polls for the runoff aren't being disenfranchised, their vountarily giving up their right to determine their elected officials. We've got a turnout problem, without a doubt, but I don't think that this solution solves it. I just think it admits defeat.
I heard alot in the last couple of weeks about the runoff really being about who could get "their" voters back to the polls being the real strategy to win. That may have been the imputus for the ABH's idea. I'm just not sure that there's anything wrong with that. Maybe Heidi is mayor again simply because she excited more people about the idea of four more years than Charlie excited his supporters about "LEADERSHIP FOR A CHANGE" or whatever his slogan was. I don't see a problem (other than a apathetic electorate) with that. If Charlie can't convince enough people to come back out and push a touchscreen for him, how influencial is he going to be on our behalf when it really counts?

I guess I'm concerned that we feel the need to make elections "easier" for a lazy apathetic electorate at the potential expense of the issues and the candidates abilities to take a real stance on those issues.

Blackfin_Day said...

And I apoligize for any misspellings in that post, I meant to "preview" but I hit the wrong button.

rmabry said...

I tend to think it's better when more people vote, whether or not they are generally apathetic.

hillary said...

I guess I'm concerned that we feel the need to make elections "easier" for a lazy apathetic electorate at the potential expense of the issues and the candidates abilities to take a real stance on those issues.

What about enabling some of us to vote our conscience first and foremost while not screwing things up royally for the centrists who are closer to our position? Instant runoff voting minimizes or at least reduces (it seems to me) making choices based on electability. So it probably doesn't harm the issues at all. It might mean that they get talked about more.

Anonymous said...

Anyone know how much money would be saved by having instant runoffs?

Anonymous said...

The AJC reported that the Dec 5 runoff cost 1.2M statewide.

rmabry said...

That doesn't include money spent by campaigns, I would assume.

Anonymous said...

The 1.2M figure is just public expenditure on polling place/Board of Elections staffing, rental and machinery.

As a point of reference, the four local candidates together spent over 40K during the runoff. It would be interesting to see the statewide tally.

It is hard to imagine that instant runoffs could be worse than the current runoff arrangement. I'm sure we could troubleshoot some challenges based on past use of the system elsewhere. Part of living in a representative democracy is the responsibility we have to become educated and to educate others. We should not put barriers in place because it is easier for us wise folk to discern the "good" choices, to get to the polls or to stay activated. The system must be set up to encourage more, rather than less participation. Candidates have to rise to the challenge of informing and motivating voters. If you have to artificially limit my voting pool to win, you don't deserve the seat.

Anonymous said...

Instant runoffs or plurality or use the regularly scheduled Primaries (since we have to have them anyway) as a qualifying round (as is done in some places) or a bowling tournament or anything else is better than what we just experienced!

It's just so WRONG to have yardsigns and Christmas decorations together! ;-)

Al

Fishplate said...

Would voting by mail cost less than the current system? I have heard of one state (Oregon?) that reports good results with such a system.

Additionally, many countries have compulsory voting, i.e. Australia

Note this statement: The following people are not entitled to enrol and vote: * people who are incapable of understanding the nature and significance of enrolment and voting

Now there's a thought...

Here's a link to an explanation of "instant runoff voting" in Oz

dave_in_athens said...

Last summer we bought a floating chaise lounge to take to the lake. It had precautions printed on the vinyl for multiple countries and languages. The cautionary statement printed for "USA" was four lengthy paragraphs. The caution for "Australia" was one sentence - "Use common sense." I kid you not.

Having travelled in Australia, I can tell you there is a sense of pragmatism there conspicuously absent in our litiguous USofA. Are we culturally capable of adopting a system based on common sense?

David Hamilton

hillary said...

POST SOMETHING.

Anonymous said...

No.

Anonymous said...

For real... what about Project Bamboo?

Fishplate said...

This blog runs the risk of becoming irrelevant...

Having said that...the issue that led me here a year ago was the rezoning of the old Cofer's store for Bruno Rubio. Yesterday, I drove by there, and it's still vacant. Sure was a lot of effort expended there for nothing...

hillary said...

As reported in Flagpole, by me, and I think also in the Banner-Herald, that's because Rubio's raising the money to start construction on the new place through operation of his current restaurant.

Ed said...

Well, I see that Al is still flicking his spindoctoring forked tongue. Why do you not get a job, Al? Oh, I forgot. You don't have to. Your dad bought a lot of real estate in Athens years ago so you can spend your days keeping Athens a nice sanctuary for silver spoon in the mouth putzes like you and your ilk.

Blake Aued and his editor bosses are bought and paid for by Al's peers. Y'all should seen the simpering look I got from Jim Thompson at the Melting Point. He was actually crawling in his own mud about the shit he wrote to endorse Girtz.

retired_cowboy said...

I have an "ilk"? Wow! I didn't realize I had an "ilk" - cool!

For the record, my father is named Carlton Hendrix Davison and lives in Kennesaw, Georgia. He never bought any property in Athens other than the house that we lived in. He was just a poor working stiff - he worked for Sears from about 1960 until he took an early retirement due to his visual disability (he has RP). But for the couple of years that he owned a small rental house in Cobb County (he barely broke even on that deal), he has never owned any property other than his own home - for which he still has a mortgage.

I have never owned any property other than my own home - for which I still have a mortgage with a balance of about 2/3 the value of my home. I guess you could say that I actually have only ever owned about 1/3 of a piece of property in Athens. We "own" 3 vehicles and only one of them (my scooter)is paid off - we're still making monthly payments on the other 2.

I am not, nor is any member of my family, related to Dr. Fred Davison (deceased) who was President of the University of Georgia nor are we in any way related or connected to the former Davisons department store.

I've never actually owned a silver spoon. Heidi has a few pieces of silver-plated flatware that her mom gave her - does that count? ;-)


I hate to disappoint you but, if I have an "ilk", it's made up of folks with a lot of heart and brains but not a lot of money.

BTW - I'll be teaching a couple of courses at Athens Tech starting in January as an adjunct (which pays very little) and trying to pick up some consulting contracts to try to help make ends meet around here. We are quite happy and comfortable with our modest life-style.

We are grateful for whatever help we may have received from individual local Democrats and a few others around the state during the campaign but we had no contact with the Democratic Party of Georgia during the campaign.