Friday, August 17, 2007

Correction on Council Candidates

Last night's post identified a single candidate as "the one who isn't currently on the council." As convenient as this shorthand may be, it is simply wrong. Jed Morison, although a former council member, is not a current member, meaning there are two such candidates.

Blue Bexley regrets making dumb^%$# errors like that one, and appreciates reader vigilance.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Mayoral Candidates in the Weeklies

ThisWeek has mini-bios on each of the eight mayoral candidates, along with each of the five council candidates (for a more amusing take on the candidate list, read Introvert's observations below this earlier post). More important than the two list articles, perhaps, are the two lead articles which tout projects (1,2) of the Bexley Technology Commission, the entity that Tech Director and mayoral candidate Bill Minckler resurrected this year.

How do you combat that kind of incidental media exposure? With a letter to the editor, it would appear. Bill Harvey has a letter in the Bexley News reminding seniors to apply for the expanded Homestead Exemption, and Travis Irvine has a letter right across from Mr. Harvey's, touting Green Building initiatives.

The Bexley News has not yet started putting the majority of its content online, so I can't link to the Harvey LTE, but I received an electronic copy of Mr. Irvine's letter (the electronic version has the advantage of clickable links):

Dear Editor,

I was happy to read the recent article about the possibility of the new police facility going ‘green.’ Since I launched my mayoral campaign in June, I have advocated for the city to look into ‘green’ building for facilities, and I commend Development Director Bruce Langer and City Council for looking into this option.

Whether or not City Council decides to pursue the LEED rating (I say go for it, we make up the money in the long run) LEED’s parent organization, the U.S. Green Building Council, has a website www.usgbc.org, that is loaded with links and information.

I personally recommend city officials check the links in the Local Government Initiatives section, to Issaquah, WA, and Scottsdale, AZ, to see what cities close to Bexley’s size are doing to go ‘green’. Closer to home, Cincinnati has started its own local chapter of USGBC, which can be viewed at http://chapters.usgbc.org/cincinnati/.

Bexley homeowners, particularly those with older houses, should check the information about making your home more energy efficient, while http://www.energytaxincentives.org/ is a website for a non-profit organization that offers tax incentives for doing so.

All citizens should also check these Central Ohio ‘green’ projects: the OSU 4-H Center at http://www.osu.edu/features/2006/greenbuilding/, energy efficient homes being built around the city with www.undergroundhomes.com, and developer Joe Recchie’s efforts with www.jeffreyplace.com. More recently, Recchie has begun a project with former boxer Buster Douglas just down Main Street.

A greener image should be pursued full heartedly by Bexley in the next four years, including giving tax incentives for businesses that build green and for home owners who make their homes more energy efficient. The advantages last well into the future, set an example for our children and the surrounding communities, and attract more young house buyers to the community.

Travis Irvine



According to this Bexley News article, Council is taking the month off, so candidates Jones and Lampke won't be in the papers so much over the next few weeks.

Finally, council candidate Ben Kessler (the one who isn't currently on the council) has a website up at benkessler.org. For some reason the construction process over there has involved linking to BB and then removing the link after I responded to the request to email him info on other candidates links. Unless he really only does want Matt Lampke's site listed, and despite the invitation doesn't actually care about the Minckler or Irvine pages, you can color me perplexed. As for me, I really do want to know if other candidates have websites, so as always please let me know as they come online.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Clowns to the Left of Me, Jokers to the Right

Here I am stuck in the middle with Pat Tiberi.

News is coming rapidly today (check out BSB or Ohio Daily Blog for up-to-the-minute updates), but apparently Deborah Pryce is retiring in OH-15, setting up an anticipated Petro-Kilroy race, and Dave Hobson is reportedly retiring (Update -- The 8/16 Dispatch is reporting a statement from Hobson "As of today, I'm running again...") in OH-07, setting up a match between his hand-picked successor Steve Austria and former Democratic challenger William Conner.

Two of three Franklin County seats will be open. The third seat is OH-12, in which Pat Tiberi is raising large sums of money to defeat... well, nobody yet. I can understand the reluctance to run against Mr. Tiberi, he defeated a well-funded challenger in a "toxic" year for Republicans last time out, but it is important that we contest the seat with a viable alternative. If not, all of Pat's time and disposable warchest can/will be spent attempting to get Petro and Austria elected. That's an advantage we really shouldn't be giving them.

Democratic Steel in the Hour of Chaos

I got a letter from the government the other day.
I opened and read it, it said they were...

The Franklin County Board of Elections.

They wanted me for presiding judge or whatever,
Picture me giving...

The info to y'all. See, because Strickland won almost every single precinct in Franklin County, almost every single precinct in Franklin County now needs a registered Democrat as presiding judge. Because of the spectacular nature of Blackwell's defeat, even within traditionally Republican areas, there is a shortage of trained Democratic precinct officials. If you are a registered Dem in Franklin County, and you've ever complained about the way instructions were done, or ID was checked, or provisional ballots were assigned... well you've got a chance to do something about it now. The pay is $160, which sounds like a decent amount for one day's work, but that's a 14-hour day (minimum - see below), with a mandatory 4 hour training session, so you're looking at about $9/hr. You won't get rich, but if you can't otherwise afford to take Election Day off and volunteer, it'll at least subsidize your pro-democracy activities.

Getting this letter was the second thing that impressed me about the BOE this week. The first was Matt Damschroder's heads up concerning November 2008. In 2004, the election in Columbus was a disaster, and lots of fingers were pointed in lots of faces. The Dispatch did what might be the worst piece of data analysis I've ever seen in a mass-media publication (and I pay attention) in an attempt to show that the suburbs were just as busy as the city (if not busier), and that the voting machines were distributed fairly.

They were not. What the Dispatch showed was that machines were at capacity all day, everywhere. The problem was that some machines had a two-minute wait, and some had a four hour wait. A four hour wait disenfranchises voters, and many Columbus voters were disenfranchised.

The reason for the disparity between the distribution formula for the machines, the Dispatch's analysis of machine usage, and the experience of suburban vs. city voters was primarily the ballot itself. Columbus had several very lengthy propositions on the ballot. The rest of Franklin County had a much shorter ballot. Many voters in Columbus found it impossible to cast their votes within the five minutes alloted, and frankly it would have been impossible to read all of the text, process it, and vote within five minutes. Merely scanning the text and confirming that you were voting the correct way on an issue about which you had already educated yourself prior to entering the booth probably added 1-2 minutes to the voting time for each voter.

Mayor Coleman and the City of Columbus want to do this again. It's a really bad idea. I know that the 2012 plan is hugely important for the city and the administration, and that it will be easier to assure passage in a high turnout election, but it is not ridiculous to speculate that this dsecision could cost Democrats the presidency.

Let's run some numbers:
Machine A is one of three machines in a City precinct that is projected to have a turnout of 630. Machine B is in the suburbs, one of two in a precinct that has a projected turnout of 420. Each of these machines is expected to serve 210 voters. Because the polls are open for 14 hours, we expect the machines to handle 15 voters/hour, or one every four minutes. Because of the additional ballot measures on the City ballot, we project that the typical voter will take 5 minutes to cast a ballot, as opposed to 3.5 minutes in the suburbs.

Now pretend that Machine B actually has one voter walk up every four minutes, like clockwork. Typically, they will be able to walk right up and vote, because the person in front of them finished 30 seconds prior to their arrival.

Machine A is a different situation. When the second voter of the day walks up, they will have to wait 30 seconds for the first person to finish. When eight minutes have gone by, the third voter will show up, but the second voter will still be in the booth for another full minute. Each voter adds 30 seconds to the wait of the next voter. After 3 hours, 40 people will have voted, and 5 people will be in line (looks like 10 because there are two machines), with the last person in line expecting to wait almost twenty minutes to vote. After twelve hours, 160 people will have voted at that machine, there will be twenty people in line for that machine (60 total in the precinct), and the folks at the end of the line can expect to wait more than an hour and a half to vote. When the polls close at 7:30, there will be about 24 people in line for each machine, and they'll finish voting around 9:18.

If all 72 stick around.

What's worse, let's say that 30-40% of the electorate waits unti after 5pm to vote, but they space themselves out evenly from 5pm to 7:30 pm. With 75 voters and 150 minutes, we have one voter showing up every two minutes.

At 6pm in the suburbs, we have had 30 people show up (per machine), 17 of them have voted, 13 are in line, and the last person in line can expect to wait less than 45 minutes to vote. At 6pm in the city, 30 people have showed up to vote, 13 have voted, 17 are waiting, and the person at the end of the line has about an hour and 13 minutes to wait.

At 7:30 pm in the suburbs, 43 evening voters have entered the booth, 22 are in line, and the last person will have to wait an hour and 14 minutes to enter the booth.

At 7:30pm in the city, 34 evening voters will have entered the booth, 41 are in line, and the last person in line can expect to wait just over three hours to get into the booth (10:31pm).

An hour and 14 minutes is reasonable for a person ducking in at the wire. Three hours is never reasonable. This disparity does not require racism or classism or even banal incompetence. It just requires 4.5 minutes vs. 3.5 minutes to get through the voting booth.

So, to take this to the important point, lets say that 21 of the 210 people on Machine B decide that they simply can't wait that long in line. Assuming 300,000 voters in Columbus (the 289,000 recorded voters, plus a conservative bump for growth and those who were victims of this situation that year), we're talking 30,000 votes lost. Given the 61-39 Kerry advantage, there would be more than 7,000 net Democratic votes lost.

Is it possible that Ohio will be decided by fewer than 7000 votes?

There are a number of ways to fix this. The Board of Elections has done a pretty good job of fixing things that they can fix since 2004 (although we won't know how fair the distribution of machines really is until November of 2008), and they have sounded the alarm on this issue in plenty of time. I'd encourage the mayor and the city to take this seriously.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Class Meta-Warfare

I recently posted a quick hit rebutting a small piece of a blog post by Maggie Thurber, in which she chastised Toledo for demonizing the wealthy. At the time, I was hoping that making the small point would be enough for me to let the rest of the piece go, but not enough to provoke a real response. Why? Because the piece almost begged for a response, but rebutting a random Toledo blogger's post on "Class Envy" really shouldn't be high on my priority list.

Of course, she did respond. And then I fired off a long comment. And she responded to that one, too. Politely. More politely than I did, certainly, and she has my gratitude and respect for that. I think we still have some fundamental disagreements, but she claims that I really do need to understand Toledo to understand where she's coming from. Perhaps.

You can find a link to the original post on Ms. Thurber's blog, my initial response, and our subsequent exchange *here*.

Blue Bexley, Year Two

One year ago this past weekend, the very first post appeared on Blue Bexley. Blue Bexley came about for two reasons. The first reason was that I enjoyed writing about political issues, but I had become disenchanted with the diary system at the major national blogs I read. The second reason was that when I had sought out information online concerning races on the ballot in my new hometown of Bexley, there was not nearly enough out there. So I sought to be the go-to source for the 3rd Senate District race, and a top source for the 12th U.S. House District race. Along the way, I became more involved in writing about the Campbell/MacGregor race in the 20th State House district.

One year later, I still enjoy writing about political issues, and even though my readers do end up hearing about micro-level family and neighborhood events, as well as broader regional and state issues, first and foremost Blue Bexley has arguably become the top independent internet source of information about Bexley's municipal government and elections, as well as our representatives in both chambers at the Statehouse and on the Hill in D.C.

To celebrate Blue Bexley's First Birthday, I bought the blog a present: Blue Bexley now has its very own domain at www.BlueBexley.com. All of the old links and feeds should still work, but this should cut down on the number of people who have to use a search engine to find the site.

For those of you who have been following all of those links and subscribing to the feed, and to those of you who have posted links to BB, and especially to those of you who have left comments, engaged in conversations, e-mailed tips, and name-checked BB elsewhere on the Internets, thank you very much. Ohio has a great and special political blogosphere, and I'm proud to be a part of it.

-bonobo