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October 31, 2013

Elections 2013
Posted by Avram Grumer at 08:47 PM * 104 comments

Wouldn’t it be something if people put as much energy into caring about local politics as they did about the presidential elections? Granted, it’s hard to get as excited about your local comptroller race as it is about the guy who’ll be commanding an army of flying killbots, but most of the legislation that affects your life is enacted at the state and local level. (Note: I don’t know if that’s actually true, about legislation. Sounds plausible, though, doesn’t it? Get out there and help keep your local school board from being taken over by Christian Dominionists.)

I’ve been going through the voter guide the city mailed to me. It’s a newspaper-sized (11″×15″) pamphlet, 40 pages (half in Spanish), with process-color printing on semigloss paper. Nice!

(Special note to John D Berry: See the double-prime marks and proper multiplication sign in the paragraph above? You’re welcome.)

  • Mayor: I’m voting for Bill de Blasio, though Jimmy (rent is too damn high) McMillan is also in the race. Yes, that’s his actual name as printed in the voter guide! I see that John Catsimatidis (a would-be Republican candidate beaten by Lhota in the primary) is running on the “Taxes 2 High” ticket — there’s a party that clearly doesn’t understand the publicity value of light profanity.
  • Public Advocate: I voted for Letitia James in the runoff election, so I might as well support her in the general.
  • Comptroller: Scott Stringer is the Democrat, so yeah.
  • City Council: Looks like Laurie Cumbo is running unopposed in my district (35); I usually withhold my vote from unopposed contests. If you live in NYC, here’s a map you can use to find your own city council district, and here are the candidates by district.
  • Ballot Proposals: My general policy on ballot proposals to amend the state constitution is to vote no unless the proposal is obviously a good idea.
    1. Authorizing Casino GamblingNO — Why? Advocates of gambling always talk about how it’ll generate new revenue for education, then they wind up cutting education budgets anyway. If upstate wants more state revenue, they can authorize a tax hike.
    2. Additional Civil Service Credit for Veterans with Disabilities Certified Post-AppointmentYES — I’ve gone back and forth on this one a couple of times. My main concern is that it’s not limited to veterans whose disabilities were acquired during their service. But considering the massive backlog in processing paperwork at the Dep’t of Veterans Affairs, I can’t be upset about a few disabled vets getting a minor benefit that they might not deserve. And even if it’s the wrong choice, I can’t see any serious damage that could come out of it.
    3. Exclusion of Indebtedness Contracted for Sewage FacilitiesNO — We’ve already seen, at the national level, how legislators who are in favor of enforcing debt limits when it means denying aid to the poor suddenly change their minds when it comes to something they actually care about. Screw that. If you’re not going to treat your debt limits as a hard limit, then get rid of your debt limit. This extends an exception to the state constitution that’s existed since 1962, so it’s probably gonna pass, but if it passes by a narrow margin, maybe that’ll be enough to scare people into thinking ahead for the next extension.
    4. Settling Disputed Title in the Forest PreserveNO — Here’s another one I’m ambivalent about. It deals with the land around a lake in the Adirondacks, supposedly purchased by private residents in tax sales in the late 19th century. Apparently, the proper paperwork wasn’t filed back then, or nobody bothered with receipts, or something, because clear title was never properly established, and ownership has been disputed ever since. Article 14 of the NY State constitution establishes the Adirondacks as a forest preserve, so the state can’t just sell the land without some kind of constitutional amendment. Seems reasonable at first, but bypasses the court system and establishes a potentially dangerous precedent.
    5. In Relation to a Land Exchange in the State Forest Preserve with NYCO Minerals, IncFUCK NO — Allows a private interest to drink the public’s milkshake, with little to no employment benefit. Establishes an obviously dangerous precedent.
    6. Increasing Age until which Certain State Judges Can ServeNO — Gives state judges a later retirement age than local judges, keeps a bunch of old guys on the bench.
Comments on Elections 2013:
#1 ::: Mishalak ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2013, 09:31 PM:

Mostly I also vote "no" on constitutional amendment with the exception that in Colorado we get a lot of "clean up" old provisions measures, because our constitution is hideously complex and specific about some things. For example it contains an exemption on taking of private property by other private entities if you intend to build a flume or canal. Yeah.

Being an off year we Coloradans only face two statewide measures. One to authorize a marihuana tax since it was improperly authorized by the amendment passed by voters last year (yeah, I am voting yes I do not buy the marihuana advocate position that the tax is too high) and one for a tax hike for schools. I am also voting yes on that because it puts income taxes back to where they were before they were lowered early in the last decade.

#2 ::: aphrael ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2013, 09:52 PM:

Ballotpedia has a fair amount of detail on the NY ballot measures.

#3 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2013, 10:05 PM:

I could expound at length on the evil that is Tim Eyman in WA, but I won't. Suffice to say that I've voted already, because WA has voting by mail only. The local mayoral race (in Seattle) was a hold-my-nose pick. And I voted in favor of the tax loopholes being closed -- Eyman got an initiative passed that lets the voters comment on "increased taxes", which means anything that closes a loophole gets treated as (and explicitly called) a tax increase. And the language to be used was mandated in the initiative. It's only an advisory vote and has no effect other than swelling the ballot.

The gift that keeps on giving -- initiatives. Better than not having them, I still mostly think, but not my favorite part of government.

#4 ::: brjun ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2013, 10:32 PM:

Here in San Francisco, we have (through the wonders of direct democracy) four propositions, although actually three (since B and C are actually the same).

A: Retiree Health Care Trust Fund -- deals with funding for the retiree health care trust fund that was previously established. Backed by everyone except the libertarian party -- Yes.

D: Prescription Drug Purchasing -- asks the city to do things in its power about the drug prices. It is not clear that there are any such things, but a lot of advocacy groups really care. So, sure, probably.

B&C: The building of 5 million dollar condos on the waterfront. Proponents point to financial benefits to the city and the generic 'there will be a park and retail' benefits to the area. Opponents point to the view of the waterfront (don't care) and, uh, something about how it will be privately owned? But that land is already privately owned? There is some dispute over the building being close the sewer line. I am actually going back and forth on this, so if anyone here is in SF has strong opinions, I am curious. On the one hand, 5 million dollar condos sound like absentee foreign millionaires and I don't like those. On the other hand, this has passed the planning committee and there is no really good reason to say no. So, probably going to vote for the development.

This is actually my first time living in a place with contentious ballot propositions. It is fun.

#5 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2013, 10:45 PM:

As it happens, I voted today. I voted to re-elect Mayor Parker. Most of the propositions seemed to be not very important, although there was one about subdividing the state for the purpose of taxation on airline parts that I didn't look properly into but voted no just on general principles.

I voted a big time no on a bond issue to redevelop the Astrodome. If somebody thinks they can make money on that, great, but I see no reason why they should get government funds for it. Tear it down, for all I care.

I did vote yes on bonds for statewide water infrastructure. That seems likely to be important, as time goes by.

#6 ::: aphrael ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2013, 11:13 PM:

Interesting issue, brjun.

It looks to me as if there's actually a subtle but important difference between Measures B and C, such that *even if you support the project* you should be highly, highly skeptical of Measure B.

Measure C is a standard order referendum. Under CA law, when the legislature passes a bill, you can circulate a petition to have its operation suspended until the voters have a chance to confirm the law. This is a normal part of the legislative process; it's not used for every law (certainly), but it's not unusual, either. In *this case*, it's on the ballot because, after the planning commission approved the project, someone circulated petitions and got enough signatures to force a referendum.

Measure B, on the other hand, is an initiative introduced by the developer in question. The intent seems to be to short circuit the normal process. In a world where measure B passes, it's a done deal; the only way to change *anything* about the project is to have another initiative in a future election. However, if B fails and C passes, then the normal legislative process for handling things approved by the planning commission proceeds.

In much the same way that Avram is concerned about the precedent set by NY Proposal 4, I'd be concerned about the precedent set by measure B - if a developer can go to the voters and ask the voters to approve a project, and thereby short-circuit the regular legislative process, then the planning commission may be rendered irrelevant by highly funded pro-development ballot campaigns. Measure C doesn't carry the same risk, because it *is* the operation of the normal legislative process.

#7 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2013, 11:26 PM:

Advocates of gambling also like to talk about all the jobs it will generate in the community (almost all of them minimum-wage or minimum-exempt service positions) and the revenue it will bring in (almost all of which gets siphoned off to the casino owners out of state). And they never mention that, while the area shifts to a low-paying service economy, all the rent and food costs will go up to "soak the tourists" levels.

Forget about sin -- THIS is why bringing casinos into your community is a bad, bad idea.

We did early voting last week, partly because it was going to be inconvenient on the actual date, and partly because I wanted to be sure I didn't get caught in the part of the vote-suppression law that's specifically targeted to women. (I didn't.)

Yes, to women voters -- because one of the requirements in the law is that your name has to match EXACTLY on your state-issued ID and your voter registration card. As in, if you have your birth name as your middle name on one but not the other, you're hosed. They almost nailed a judge on this, and they tried to deny Wendy Davis as well. Yes, that Wendy Davis, the one who got up and filibustered like a champion for women's civil rights, and who has now announced her candidacy for governor.

I hope that this is going to backfire on them like whoa, as many of the women who are going to be hit by it are well-to-do white wives, possibly even Republican voters. Of course, I wouldn't put it past them to instruct the poll workers to enforce it only for people registered as Democrats...

Oh, and when I made a for-the-record protest about the voter ID law being unconstitutional, the poll worker tried to tell me it was a FEDERAL requirement. I called him on it and reported him to the Election Commission, but I don't know if it will do any good.

I will admit that I sort-of cheat; I check the endorsement list for the Houston GLBT Caucus and generally vote as they recommend, on the assumption that anyone they're willing to endorse won't be truly awful. It still feels strange to me to be able to bring the list into the polling booth; that was illegal in Tennessee.

On the propositions, I mostly voted yes, since they seemed to be good ideas and not confusingly worded (which always makes me inclined to vote no on the theory of "what are they trying to hide here?").

David, the bond issue for the Astrodome is for the purpose of turning it into a community center. For that, I might be cautiously okay with it because the community would be reaping the benefits, but I still voted no.

#8 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2013, 11:32 PM:

The only item on the local election ballot was to give thumbs up or down on a school levy.

I voted to raise my property taxes.

#9 ::: mjfgates ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2013, 11:39 PM:

Tom Whitmore@2: Oh, c'mon, expound. It's fun! Out here in the boonies, I've barely got anything else to vote about. A couple of city council races, voting against the one mayoral candidate who says we can't have nice roads because the people in the nice neighborhoods would have to pay for them ("get the smelling salts, Jane!")... if it weren't for Tim Eyman, the whole ballot would be less than half a page long.

#10 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2013, 11:40 PM:

Lee@6: And who did the Houston GLBT Caucus endorse for mayor? :-) :-)

#11 ::: Rich McAllister ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2013, 11:54 PM:

Changing one's name to include "rent is too damn high" outdoes my previous favorite ballot label trick: in California, one's occupation is listed; back in the '80s some guy managed to get his occupation listed as "tax cutter".

#12 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2013, 12:56 AM:

There's a person who regularly runs for office around here who changed his name to Mike the Mover so he could put out electioneering signs that would advertise his moving business -- and have them be treated as election signs, rather than advertising. No slouch he!

And a regular attendee of local conventions changed his name to goodspaceguy and ran for Mayor in Seattle (under that name). Finished very low down, and I'm not at all surprised. I personally wouldn't go near voting for him.

#13 ::: Megpie71 ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2013, 01:53 AM:

This year in Western Australia we had the state government elections (in March), the national government elections (in early September) and the local government elections (in mid-October). The state and federal government elections we're required by law to turn out and vote in; voting in local government elections isn't required. Consequently the turnout for the local government elections was ridiculously low this year. I suspect at least part of the issue was what the AEC are calling "electoral fatigue", and the other part was the ongoing state-level campaign to amalgamate various local government regions. I think a lot of people are waiting to see how that turns out before they get carried away with local politics.

My own reason for not voting in the local government elections is we moved house (and consequently local government region) on the 17th of October, and the elections were on the 19th. Now, I could have voted in our previous region (the area where my in-laws live) except I was only living there for about six months, and thus chronically uninterested in the local political dramas in the first place. Attempting to contribute to the local political situation in our new location (a council region I haven't lived in before) isn't something I would have been willing to do even had I been keen enough on voting to get my partner to drive me up to the council offices to vote.

#14 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2013, 02:29 AM:

McMillan’s one of those entertaining fringe candidates who liven up elections without having a prayer of getting into office. According to the voter guide, one of his previous occupations was “independent undercover investigator”, which I kinda wanna know more about.

#15 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2013, 07:44 AM:

Having lived, two decades ago, in the Hudson Valley, I learnt that upstaters believe that New York City is a drain on their taxes, a source of crime, and horribly overrepresented in the state legislature (even though nearly half of the population of the state lives in the five boroughs). Since residents of the city pay far more in taxes than rural New Yorkers, and the city is the major economic engine of the state, this rather jaundiced view is the product of deliberate misunderstanding.

#16 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2013, 08:52 AM:

People who have lived in or near Memphis may recall Prince Mongo, a local bar owner (and immigrant royalty from the planet Zambodia) who regularly ran for office. I don't think he changed his name for the ballot, though.

Tennessee was also the home base for the notorious Byron Low-tax Looper, who decided to improve his chances for election by killing his opponent (he lost anyway; he was running against a well-liked incumbent--the widow won as a write-in candidate, with strong bipartisan support).

#17 ::: BSD ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2013, 09:03 AM:

No on 1
(Unless you create a major gambling Mecca, gambling does not help. Who wants a major gambling Mecca?)
Yes on 2
"THAT'LL SCARE 'EM" is not a good reason to prevent borrowing for major sanitation needs.
Yes on 3
Same reasons presented.
Yes on 4
This should be settled. The courts can't really settle it. The land claimed is not presently forest, and the forest preserve is getting appropriate land.
No on 5
This, on the other hand, is bullshit. It's exactly opposite to the point of the forest preserve.
Yes on 6
I oppose arbitrary term limits by term or age. I also want judges to stay on the bench until they are completely unemployable. I never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever want a judge thinking about their next act.

Fragano @15: This has been a bone of contention for over a century. cf New York is Pie of the Hayseeds

#18 ::: Carol Witt ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2013, 09:19 AM:

I absolutely pay attention to local elections, which is why I was so totally against the person who became our mayor in 2010. Sadly, our local elections were changed to happen every four years instead of three, thus the city is still stuck with him for another year.

Unless, of course, we're not.

#19 ::: aphrael ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2013, 09:33 AM:

I have to admit I'm baffled by NY proposal 3.

the NY constitution has a number of exceptions to the debt limit already - bonds used to provide for a water supply, bonds used to pay for public improvements that yield net revenue, bonds used to bring pension funds into actuarial reserve, plus various special exemptions for NYC, Buffalo, Rochester, and Syracuse.

The exception for sewage bonds is the ONLY one of these which has an expiration date.

So ... why are the others deserving of a permanent exception, but this only a temporary exception?

And if we think the exception needs to be extended *now*, why only for ten years?

#20 ::: Bill Altreuter ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2013, 09:56 AM:

Age limits for judges is a tricky question, but I'm inclined to say that a Yes on this proposition is the way to go. Being a judge requires a skill set that is different from being a lawyer, and it takes some time to get good at it. Most judges have been successful lawyers, and take a pay cut when they take the bench. Allowing them to continue their judicial careers means that the public gets the benefit of the time spent becoming a capable judge for an extended period, and it allows civic minded persons to continue the service that they have undertaken at some personal cost.

Being a good judge has (at least) three components. A good judge should be intelligent. You'd think that would be obvious, but it means more than just "knowing the law". Most lawyers know their corner well, and have only a generalized sense of what the rest of the legal world looks like. A good judge has intellectual curiosity and the inclination to see beyond the narrow confines of the world that she practiced in before assuming the bench. Second, a good judge has a good work ethic. Again, you'd think that would be obvious, but there is no shortage of people who become judges as a politically sponsored form of early retirement. Once their pension vests they are happy to step down, and godspeed. Finally, a good judge has a good judicial temperament. This is the critical piece, and the most valuable. When you have a judge that possesses this you have found a jewel, and forcing a judge like that out because of a more or less arbitrary age limit is foolish. Taking just the recent history of the New York Court of Appeals (our highest court) as an example, age limits have cost us Chief Judge Judith Kaye, Judge George Bundy Smith, and Carmen Beauchamp Ciparick-- all outstanding jurists. Ability should be the yardstick- not age.

#21 ::: --E ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2013, 09:57 AM:

Re ballot proposal #6:

While I understand your thinking, I want to make two points:

(Note: my dad was a NY state supreme court judge in Queens.)

1. In order to continue serving beyond the age of 70, the judges have to undergo serious health evaluations every two years. It's a lot of paperwork and doctor's reports, including mental evaluations. My dad was anxious about it for weeks each time, even though he was in pretty good health (and certainly good mental health). They're not just rubber-stamping judges through. (At least not in Queens.)

2. The way the limits work, there are only allowed to be a certain number of judges elected at a time, except for the ones over 70. Once they hit 70, their space on the bench opens up to election again. They may get the extension to their service (reevaluated every two years, until mandatory retirement at age 76), but another person can run for judge and also serve.

The pertinent take-aways from #2 here are:

a. Even if they're keeping the old justices, they're also maintaining a steady influx of younger judges.

b. By keeping older judges around, you have more total judges than simply elections would allow. This spreads the caseload over more people (and incidentally employs a pile of extra folks: every judge needs support staff).

#22 ::: Teka Lynn ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2013, 10:32 AM:

Our town had only one issue on the ballot, a school levy. I voted yes, and popped my envelope in the mail two weeks ago. Easy as that.

#23 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2013, 10:56 AM:

Tom@12: that sounds like a bonanza for lawyers: when does the electioneering start? Does Mike-the-Mover claim to be running for office year-round, and if so is it believable?

Avram@14: from the little I know, a lot of people get PI licenses; the competence and capital requirements are minimal in many places (and used to be looser in even more places), so it can look like an easy way to scratch out a living. (e.g., the first person I took skydiving lessons from ran a PI business in the ~winter.) It's not necessarily suspicious.

Fragano@15: Peter Beagle said that Phil Sigunick (his former partner in song and travel -- see I See by My Outfit) is now living in upstate NY, of which Phil says "Some of the necks are redder than the barns." The meme of cities as wretched hives of scum and villainy is very old; I've seen arguments that it originated with feudal/manorial lords who resented the freedom serfs could obtain by living a-year-and-a-day in a city, but I suspect it's a lot older.

Boston has a mayoral election next Tuesday thanks to an odd kink in the rules: elections to replace mayors who don't finish their terms happen promptly*, but the cycle is restarted (rather then being completed) when the replacement is elected. Previous departures may have been why Ray Flynn was elected in 1983, 1987, and 1991 rather than on even years -- but when Clinton (in an early round of appointments) made him U.S. rep to the Vatican, the elections were moved to 1993, 1997, ..., 2013.

The Boston election is difficult. Connolly boasts of his education experience -- brief enough to make it look like a veneer over blatant ambition, although he might be able to do something about dodgy schools. Walsh has spent most of his career managing or carrying water for already-strong unions -- a touchy subject just now because the arbitrator for the police contract just gave them a large award to catch up to the firefighters, who were given a large award a few years ago to catch up to the police. (Boston is a small fraction of its metro area; some large fraction of the police live outside the city and won't see the effects of the cost of the contract.)

* Unlike, e.g., Massachusetts governors -- who show another local kink: the lieutenant governor becomes the acting gov (just as if the gov were off on vacation) for the remainder of the term, rather than being sworn in as gov.

#24 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2013, 11:27 AM:

has been Gnomed. Jam tomorrow? (Well, next week, actually, but the raspberries behind the garage have been generous this year....)

#25 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2013, 11:48 AM:

Bill, #20: I would like to point out that even if "ability is the yardstick", there needs to be some mechanism for disqualifying a judge who is, shall we say, slipping. Even now, I worry about the equivalent of Ronald Reagan on the Supreme Court. Give me that, and I'll back your argument; unfortunately, I don't know how that judgment would be made.

--E, #21: And I think you've answered my question. The system you describe would work adequately, if it were universally adopted.

#26 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2013, 12:08 PM:

Lee #7:

Played out interestingly in our family unit. I had no problems, as I kept my maiden name and have never been known as $firstname $spouse on any ID card or voter registration. My husband got caught, though, because his driver's license has his middle name and his voter registration did not. So they let him vote after signing an affidavit, and then sent him a new, corrected, voter ID card.

(I voted for all measures except the airplane parts tax exemption, and paid particular attention to local affordable-housing bonds, as it is a goal of my particular neighborhood--old airport redevelopment--to have 25% of its housing be affordable.)

#27 ::: PJ Evans ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2013, 12:20 PM:

My area has a special election for state assemblyperson in a couple of weeks. Boring. Probably low turnout.

#28 ::: Doug K ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2013, 01:17 PM:

here in Douglas County CO we're trying to stop the forces of corporate education 'reform'. The school board incumbents, lavishly funded by the usual suspects, have begun to destroy the public education system.
This vote may stop them - but we are up against hard-core ideologues and their passionate intensity, so it's quite possible we will lose our school system. The Secretary of State who is supposed to monitor elections, has just thrown his support behind the incumbents.
http://atthechalkface.com/2013/10/29/douglas-county-the-cavalry-is-coming

So, yeah, we're putting some energy into this election ;-)

The marijuana tax is an easy yes. I have to pay taxes on my drug of choice (wine), don't see why the other dope fiends should not pay for theirs.

The tax hike for schools should be an easy yes, but it contains several poison pills to implement corporate education reform 'metrics'. The notorious corporate education reformers Michael Bloomberg and Bill Gates have put millions into supporting the amendment, which makes me leery of it. It also raises taxes only on citizens, exempting corporations from paying more taxes for public education. As much as the corporations whine about the 'skills shortage', you'd think they would be willing to help pay for some remediation. So I'm still conflicted about it.. will probably go for yes, just to try and get our beleaguered not to say embattled schools a few more pennies. We'll have to fight corporate education reform later, again and again.

#29 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2013, 02:12 PM:

Over here in New Jersey we're going to re-elect our disgusting homophobic asshole governor. Here in Hoboken we're probably NOT going to re-elect our stellar gem of a mayor (one of the guys running against her opposed putting in flood pumps, but of course has the backing of developers).

I'm voting the other way on both, in case you couldn't tell. We haven't got a sample ballot yet, though that may just be me (they sometimes arrive after the election, especially if you're a known opponent of certain machine pols).

#30 ::: Fox ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2013, 03:32 PM:

I would LOVE to be able to vote "fuck no" on ballot issues. When I voted in Ohio in 2004, there was a state marriage-"protection" issue, and also two downballot issues (probably one county and one local) that I didn't much care about then and don't remember at all now. And I wanted so badly to waive my right to vote on those in order to vote No on the marriage issue three times.

Alas. So I settled for punching the "no" chad just as hard as I could (voting "hell no", as it were). Didn't work, but getting stabby with the ballot was a little bit satisfying.

#31 ::: aphrael ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2013, 04:23 PM:

Xopher - you should be able to get a sample ballot online at http://www.hudsoncountyclerk.org/elections/

#32 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2013, 05:07 PM:

Here we've got four bond issues of which I approve, so I will vote for those.

Then comes the can of worms. Columbus Public Schools has a levy on the ballot. I will not be voting for it, because we've got a major data-scrubbing scandal* at the school, and little (that I trust) has been done to rectify it.

We also have several School Board members up for re-election. I will not be voting for any incumbent unless they dump their laissez-faire "policy governance" idiocy. AFAICT, this means the school's administrator can do what they damn well please, see "data-scrubbing scandal."

The levy raises property taxes by twenty-four percent. I'm on a fixed income, and I really can't afford that much of a hike. Oh, and this is for a school system that has had its student population drop from 60,000 to 49,000.

The City of Columbus has a budget surplus. If Mayor Coleman is really concerned about the schools, then let the city kick in some more dough.

*At this point both the state and the Feds are watching this one, and there WILL be indictments.

#33 ::: Chris Quinones ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2013, 06:27 PM:

To add my bit on the judge issue: My uncle compulsorily retired at 70 from the NY Supreme Court bench. He has continued working as a mediator in retirement - he's in his late 80s and still mentally sharp. He suffered a nerve injury in a car accident that prevents him from driving, but that's the only major obstacle to his being carried out of the courthouse in a casket, and I say more power to him. And anything that eases caseloads in the judicial system sounds good to me.

#34 ::: tariqata ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2013, 07:25 PM:

Local politics excite me to no end - but I work as a planner and I live in Toronto, where local politics have alternated between infuriating and surreal for the last 3 three years.

@Carol Witt: I think we're going to be stuck with the mayor, personally - given what he's already somehow managed to skate through, the mind boggles at what it would take to actually get him out of office.

#35 ::: Alexander Kosoris ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2013, 09:42 PM:

I just wanted to congratulate Avram Grumer for a great post. If everyone talked about politics like this, we'd be bound to garner more interest in elections.

#36 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2013, 09:47 PM:

Lori Coulson @32 -- what do you mean by a "data-scrubbing scandal"? How does that work in practice?

#37 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2013, 11:23 PM:

Chris Quinones #33: It's perfectly reasonable for an aged-out judge to help out in whatever other capacities he has. As a mediator, if he did start losing it (not necessarily senility, perhaps memory loss, stroke, etc.), the courts (or whatever other agency) can just stop assigning him. As a judge -- well we already have too many demented rulings setting precedent, no need to make it more literal.

#38 ::: John D. Berry ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2013, 03:30 AM:

(Special note to John D Berry: See the double-prime marks and proper multiplication sign in the paragraph above? You’re welcome.)

Thank you! Much appreciated!

No. 12 (Tom Whitmore): And a regular attendee of local conventions changed his name to goodspaceguy and ran for Mayor in Seattle (under that name). Finished very low down, and I'm not at all surprised. I personally wouldn't go near voting for him.

Judging from the photos in the voters' guide, this is the guy who used to show up at the Nameless back in the day (way back in the day) and got dubbed “Robert Who Bites the Heads Off Chocolate Bunnies” because, well, he looked just like the character from a B. Kliban cartoon:

http://www.gocomics.com/kliban/2012/03/30#.UnSpo6V1_AY

#39 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2013, 06:35 AM:

John D. Berry, #36: Holy cats, I remember Robert Who Bites The Heads Off Chocolate Bunnies. I am older than dirt.

#40 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2013, 07:17 AM:

Regarding Avram's post atop this thread: I've actually already voted in the upcoming NYC election, because my travel schedule has me on the other side of the ocean from New York on Election Day. It won't surprise anyone to know that my ballot looked a lot like Avram's. I'm in a different city council district, and I did in fact vote for a candidate who's essentially unopposed--Carlos Menchaca, who challenged our longtime incumbent councilperson in the primary and won in a very hardfought race. He's got no Republican opponent, just a pro-forma Conservative Party candidate who may get a hundred votes, but I like Menchaca and I want to send him into office with a healthy number of votes in the general.

As his site points out, he'll be the first Mexican-American on New York's City Council, which seems pretty reasonable given that our part of Brooklyn's fastest-growing immigrant population is Mexican. The incumbent he turfed out, Sara Gonzalez, actually tried the tack of distributing flyers pointing out that Menchaca was born and raised in El Paso, Texas ("Carlos Menchaca isn't a New Yorker! He's barely unpacked his bags!"--along with images of cowboy boots, longhorn cattle, etc)--a tactic we regarded with some wonder given the number of recent immigrants in our district. But basically Menchaca won by simply out-campaigning her. In the final weeks before the primary, our door was knocked on by his volunteers several times a week, leading up to the Saturday afternoon on which I opened our front door prepared to say yet again, "Yep, already voting for Carlos Menchaca" -- to find myself face to face with Carlos Menchaca. We had a pleasant chat. He's about five and a half feet tall, he looks about nineteen, and he's got that combination of attentive charm and steel-trap intelligence that says to me "one hell of a political future." So far he's as good on the issues as I expect any electable NYC candidate to be, and especially good on the livable-streets stuff I'm personally engaged with.

(I don't think it's on Menchaca's site, but another background fact about him is that he attended the Jesuit University of San Francisco, where he became the first openly gay student-body president of any Jesuit university. Like I said, a born politician, and as longtime readers of me know, I don't sling that word as an insult.)

It has been a bemusing election so far. De Blasio isn't Liberal Jesus but he was certainly the most overtly lefty-progressive candidate in the primary, and even those of us who expected to wind up voting for him pretty much figured he was the no-hope candidate. Then the circus came to town, in the form of the sudden rise and even more sudden fall of Anthony Weiner as a mayoral candidate, and when the dust settled de Blasio was the frontrunner. Nobody's exactly sure how that worked, but we'll take it. In truth De Blasio is a mixed bag, but as far as I can tell the good outweighs the not-so-good by a reasonable margin. I've been following his career for a while--he was our city council member when we lived in Park Slope. He's been on the wrong side of some of the cycling and complete-streets issues I care about. To his credit, sometime this summer he seems to have realized that there are a pretty large number of NYC voters like me, and he cleaned up his act on those issues with admirable alacrity. (Remember, it's only "pandering" if a candidate's doing it to voters you don't agree with.) And by and large he pretty much ticks off all the checkboxes for "as progressive as possible while remaining electable." Which I think NYC needs after twelve years of the peculiarly...medieval situation of being run by its wealthiest single resident.

In the post-primary mayoral election, I think that Republican candidate Joe Lhota's equivalent of Sara Gonzalez's pratfall was when his campaign revealed the shocking fact that De Blasio had, as a young activist in the 1980s, gone to Central America...where he helped distribute food and medicine to people displaced by the various wars happening down there...and criticized the Reagan Administration's foreign policy in the region, imagine that. Duly informed that De Blasio was therefore the second coming of Che Guevara, New York voters responded by increasing his lead in the polls by several points.

#41 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2013, 07:40 AM:

Tom, 35: At a guess, there were shenanigans involving standardized tests. The solution, of course, is to repeal No Child's Behind Left, burn the College Board to the ground, and apologize to the nation's teachers by giving them a 100% raise and reducing class sizes to 20.

#42 ::: Carol Witt ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2013, 07:50 AM:

tariqata @ #34: True, except I'm wondering what physical effects the additional stress will have on him. Note that I am absolutely not hoping for any medical issues, but I worry that's what will take him down instead of what *should* do so.

I suppose I should pay some attention to the Boston election, since the plan to move there still marches on slowly. There's just been too much going on recently.

#43 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2013, 08:07 AM:

CHip, 23: I'm voting for the union shill. The other guy's "education" experience was one year in a charter school, which...just no. He doesn't have the experience or knowledge needed to fix public education.

#44 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2013, 11:12 AM:

BSD & CHip: One big difference from the late nineteenth century is that the "one person, one vote" rule that the Supreme Court laid down in 1962 means that the state legislature is not as disproportionately rural as it once was. However, rural New Yorkers are still convinced that they are the source of the state's wealth and the great city at the mouth of the Hudson is a drain on it .

The situation is similar here in Georgia, where people who live OTP are convinced that metro Atlanta is a great sink of their tax monies (thanks to all the lazy, feckless people of colour who reside ITP). The fact that the metro area is the principal engine of economic life in the state is something they prefer to ignore.

#45 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2013, 11:12 AM:

BSD & CHip: One big difference from the late nineteenth century is that the "one person, one vote" rule that the Supreme Court laid down in 1962 means that the state legislature is not as disproportionately rural as it once was. However, rural New Yorkers are still convinced that they are the source of the state's wealth and the great city at the mouth of the Hudson is a drain on it .

The situation is similar here in Georgia, where people who live OTP are convinced that metro Atlanta is a great sink of their tax monies (thanks to all the lazy, feckless people of colour who reside ITP). The fact that the metro area is the principal engine of economic life in the state is something they prefer to ignore.

#46 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2013, 11:23 AM:

I remember a couple of secession movements in New York some years ago. IIRC, one of them wanted to kick NYC and Long Island (maybe including Westchester?) out of the state.

This would be a great thing. NYC/LI could keep the name "New York," and be governed out of New York. The remainder of the state, governed out of Albany, could be called Albania, which also has the advantage of being the name of an Eastern European country whose economy the new state's would soon resemble.

#47 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2013, 12:15 PM:

Albuquerque's November 19 election has a measure on the ballot which would make an abortion illegal after 20 weeks.

I'm voting to defeat that.

#48 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2013, 02:06 PM:

Serge Broom @45 -- have an abortion, get arrested 20 weeks later? That might cause some problems indeed. (yes, yes, I know....)

#49 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2013, 05:04 PM:

AKICIML:

So, today one of my neighbors asked me for dog poop. With assistance from her daughter (who seemed to have better English), she explained that this to burn in a "prayer" for casting off spells. While their appearance read as roughly Hispanic to me, she also said something about how in her religion she couldn't keep a dog (which smells to me of Islam), but that was also why dog poop was the most powerful way to break spells.

Some of you folks are way more "up" on spell culture than me: So, is this actually a thing, or is it more likely to be meant for something darker? (The elder woman actually asked for this once a few months ago, back then I was thinking of secular mischief, and didn't respond.)

#50 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2013, 05:04 PM:

Whoops, sorry, wrong thread. Will repost in Open thread, please answer there.

#51 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2013, 08:45 PM:

Tom Whitmore @35: Our school systems here are subject to a state reporting system that generates a "report card" on said systems.

Columbus Public Schools has been changing many of the students attendance data to get a better grade on their state report card. When the local paper reported this, they also noted that the Board and the Administrator had tried to intimidate the CPS own auditor, to keep her from confirming the story.

The Dispatch broke the story over two years ago. The Auditor of the State of Ohio has been investigating ever since -- lots of the guilty have retired, and as more evidence turns up, more subpoenas go out to various schools, requesting their records. The CPS chief administrator was allowed to retire, I'm hoping she'll be indicted once this reaches a grand jury.

At first, it appeared that only attendance records had been changed. As the authorities dig deeper, the situation gets worse -- there were changes in grades and test results as well. Recently, we've been informed that money may be involved, in the form of bonuses to administrators for good results on the state report card. That's when the FBI got interested.

To top it off CPS purchased a computer system for all the schools that does not work. Apparently, they didn't bother to get something tailored for the school system's needs, and from what I've read the software isn't compatible with what CPS already had...

The current board is not meeting their responsibilities -- so there is no way I'm voting to give them MORE money when they can't manage to monitor those who are allowed to spend that money.

#52 ::: Christopher Davis ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2013, 09:33 PM:

Since I'm on the other side of the river (and not in Charlestown), I don't have a vote in the Boston mayoral election; Cambridge has the city council and school committee up for votes this year, though.

(The mayor is elected by and from the council, because we have a city manager to do all the actual work of running things.)

Since both groups are elected using Single Transferable Vote, I usually rank any challengers I particularly like first, then the incumbents that I find acceptable. No wasted votes even if my favorite challenger is a no-hoper.

#53 ::: aphrael ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2013, 02:32 PM:

Joe Lhota's campaign seems to be based entirely on the premise that he can win if he can scare enough voters into thinking that electing de Blasio means bringing back all of the bad things about the 1970s and 1980s. It isn't working terribly well.

#54 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2013, 07:03 PM:

TexAnne @ 43: I don't expect either of the candidates to do much about education; it's a hard problem, and neither of their soundbite answers ("Get tough!" "Be cooperative") suggests that they're willing to make what I see as a necessary start: telling people how tough the problem is, and how many people (including parents who think of themselves as pure customers) will have to work on fixes. The union hack might screw up finances more, if he forgets that the majority of his voters (by the local statistics I've heard, not any polling) can't be union members.

Lori @ 51: and education mechanics still wonder why many people think performance bonuses for teachers are a bad idea....

#55 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2013, 07:32 PM:

CHip, 54: You're absolutely right...except that no charter school I've ever looked at with an eye to working there was anywhere close to functional. So if that's the candidate's "education experience" I'm going to run away as fast as I possibly can, because he's guaranteed to make things worse.

#56 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2013, 10:52 PM:

In Ann Arbor Michigan, there's a Twenty-pound Carp running for City Council. It was pulled from a local pond where it was allegedly destroying the ecosystem and relocated to the Huron River, and it's since started running its council campaign using Twitter and yard signs.

#57 ::: Scraps ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2013, 11:05 PM:

I vote against people who campaign on a "taxes too high" ticket. I know that, if pressed, everyone on a ballot would say taxes were too high -- it's a losing position to say anything else -- but to campaign on a "taxes too high" ticket, chances are they mean it.

#58 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2013, 11:34 PM:

Scraps @57, someone a few years ago was going door-to-door with a petition against new taxes. She was rather taken aback when I pointed out that our town has an excellent school system, very good library, streets that are plowed faster than most of the surrounding communities, very fast police response time... and all of that is paid for by taxes. "If you want to live in a well-kept-up town, you have to PAY for a well-kept-up town" I informed her.

I don't think I've ever seen anyone so bewildered in her life. Apparently, in her world, the snow-plow-fairies don't need to be paid...

#59 ::: Scraps ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2013, 11:41 PM:

Obviously I'm biased, but I don't care if veterans acquired their gimpitude in service or not. Gov't benefits are not much in any case: I don't know the additional benefits that veterans get, but I'll bet that in most cases, they'll move up from Poor to Slightly Less Poor. And yes, you point out rightly the massive backlog in Dep’t of Veterans Affairs; gimps I know (and myself) dealing with the government are already dealing with everything else before dealing the DoVA. For instance, it's common that clearly disabled people get turned down once to three times just to get registered as Disabled. (I figure that they figure some people will just despair and won't bother them anymore.) What I'm saying is gimps have enough problems without throwing another at them; let some gimps who don't qualify in. (I know you voted Yes! Just my perspective.)

#60 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2013, 02:11 AM:

Scraps @59

It's been reported that, late last week, Robert Silverberg had a heart attack. and couldn't make it to the World Fantasy Con.

Luckily, he had made it to England. I've not seen anything on which hospital he was rushed to, but the NHS gets the emergency cases. The report I saw is that he was fitted with a stent the next day.

I have had enough experience of the NHS system that I don't need this incident to change my view of some of our current politicians, who seem hellbent on privatising healthcare. They seem fascinated by the example of a system which costs hugely more, and produces worse results.

And the fools didn't seem to notice the celebration of the NHS that was in the Opening Ceremony of the 2012 Olympics. They hardly seemed to notice Sir Tim Berners-Lee: they have this huge blind spot embedded in their definition of "everyone".

Meanwhile, we can all thank the shade of Aneurin Bevan, whose heritage has kept so many of us and our friends alive.

#61 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2013, 08:13 AM:

Dave Bell #60: Winston Churchill said that it would require a "Gestapo" to enforce the NHS. Five years later, when he returned to power, he was in favour of keeping it. A popular, taxpayer-funded, national health service achieved consensus with remarkable speed. Nye Bevan's achievement was truly marvellous.

#62 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2013, 09:02 AM:

Remember the "Atlas Shrugged guy"? Well, the denouement, from James Fallows.

#63 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2013, 10:19 AM:

So it looks like the Atlas Shrugged guy didn't close his business after all. What a surprise.

#64 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2013, 11:43 AM:

57
Me too. Taxes may be misspent (there have been some spectacular examples) but without them, things would be much worse.

#65 ::: aphrael ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2013, 02:17 PM:

Apparently the Post is running a last-minute pre-election hit piece against de Blasio, trumpeting the incredible news that in 1983, when he was in college, he committed the grave crime of visiting the USSR.

Seriously? This is the best they can come up with?

#66 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2013, 04:04 PM:

Xopher Halftongue @46: Albania, which also has the advantage of being the name of an Eastern European country whose economy the new state's would soon resemble.

We've got a similar situation forming up here, in Colorado, with similar demographics and likely economical consequences.

#67 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2013, 06:18 PM:

Lori, #51: There's been some of that sort of thing going on in Texas as well, but I don't recall hearing that bribe money was involved.

Cassy, #58: Go you!

C. Wingate, #62: Wow, there's a classic example of a "taker". He wants to take, take, take, and never give anything back to the community that made his money for him. This is my definition of the term "taker" going forward.

#68 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2013, 11:24 AM:

Remember, remember the Fifth of November,
Government shutdown and rot;
I see no reason why Tea Party treason
Should ever be forgot.

(Yes, that's mine, after the Guy Fawkes day original. Yes, you may republish and spread that. Attribution appreciated but not necessary, if not attributing it helps it spread.)

#69 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2013, 03:32 PM:

Lee, it isn't bribe money. The administrators' contracts specify certain bonuses if their school makes certain grades in their state report card. So altering attendance, grades and test results so that the student body looks better to the state system means potential financial gain for those administrators.

There is also indications that access to the computer system was, ah, not monitored very well. In one case, more than one person had access to an administrator's ID and password...

#70 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2013, 04:22 PM:

Ah. I read it as the teachers being offered money to alter the records so that the school would look better / get more bonuses. Agreed, not the same thing at all.

#71 ::: D. Potter ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2013, 06:36 PM:

Xopher @68: Quoted and attributed. (Bows.) Thanks!

#72 ::: Chris ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2013, 07:33 PM:

I voted yes on the community college tax levy and yes on continuing the school district's budget override. It was a short ballot.

#73 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2013, 09:25 PM:

Virginia is turning into a nail-biter. At 30% precincts reporting, the R's were solidly leading. But the Dems have been gaining: At 84%, Governor is half a percentage point of going blue, Lieutenant Gov has gone blue (good thing, the R is a true loon), but for AG the R's are still 3 points ahead. For any of the R's to win would be bad, though a Gov/LG split would help moderate the damage.

#74 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2013, 09:36 PM:

Background on VA: Cuccinelli made Virginia infamous as AG; getting him as Gov would be trouble, but so would a new R in the AG slot.

There's also a Libertarian running for Gov: Back at 30% reporting, he was above 10%, and if he'd kept that it would have put the Libertarians on the ballot for (AIUI) all statewide races. This is looking increasingly unlikely, but I'm gonna be pissed if the Dems lose with him playing spoiler.

There's something funny going in with the site -- at 91%, the Dems had pulled barely into the lead for Gov (I'm going to be even more pissed if that race is decided by less than the write-in vote), but then the site went back to 87%.

#75 ::: Mishalak ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2013, 11:00 PM:

McAuliffe is at the time of this post announced as the winner by the Washington Post. Fox News has also given up hope.

In Colorado I got part of what I wanted. The pot tax passed, but I expect it will be a moot point since the federal government will like come down like a thousand of bricks upon anyone who actually tries to sell pot without the polite fiction of it being for medical use.

#76 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2013, 01:02 AM:

It looks like all the Texas constitutional amendments passed. In Houston, Annise Parker seems to have won re-election for mayor handily with 57% of the vote. I can't find anything definitive about the Astrodome yet, but the early voting and the early returns were both strongly against it, so unless there's an unlikely comeback, it's probably going to be demolished.

#77 ::: Teka Lynn ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2013, 02:02 AM:

Congratulations, Illinois! Marriage equality in 2014.

#78 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2013, 06:16 AM:

Mishalak #75: Yeah, I had to go to bed, but this morning, McAuliffe and Northam are the winners.

But AG may still be uncertain -- with 0.08% of the precincts still to report, Herring is leading by only 0.03%. less than 600 votes.

#79 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2013, 07:06 AM:

In fact, Ballotpedia informs me that in VA, a vote margin below 1% triggers an automatic recount, so the AG is definitely headed for a recount.

#80 ::: Dave Harmon has been gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2013, 07:15 AM:

Possibly for the link.

#81 ::: Janet K ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2013, 07:33 AM:

I'm so relieved that the Democrat McAuliffe won the governor's race in Virginia.

#82 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2013, 07:43 AM:

Also, the Dems seem to have swept the local races, for Charlottesville City Council (2 seats were challenged by Repubs), and Albemarle County Board of Supervisors (3 D's and an indie, who took 2 formerly-Republican seats and the board majority).

#83 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2013, 08:43 AM:

We had no races here in Athens-Clarke County, but in nearby Union Point the pro-rails-to-trails mayoral candidate beat out the anti, which bodes well for the Firefly Trail.

#84 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2013, 09:53 AM:

Total victory locally (our good Mayor got re-elected, and her slate of Council candidates got in; the good school board team was also elected). Knew I wasn't going to get my way in the Governor's race. Got the minimum wage increase.

Actually I haven't heard what happened with the local rent control referendum (abolishing it). I hope it went down.

#85 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2013, 10:59 AM:

Both parts of the school levy lost. I think the 24% tax hike pretty much sank it.

Lee -- this doesn't involve the teachers at all. The attendance/grades/test scores were changed wholesale by the administrators and their staff.

The Columbus Public School System has always been WAY too heavy on their administrative layer. They should have double the number of teachers and aides per each administrator.

They ought to be taking a hard look at the Reynoldsburg* Public School system. Minimal administrative staff and STEM based teaching. They're getting such impressive results that they have people from all over the nation coming to observe them in action.

*I attended school in their system from fourth grade through high school, and while some of my classmates left much to be desired, I loved my teachers.

#86 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2013, 11:40 AM:

Mishalak @75: The pot tax passed, but I expect it will be a moot point since the federal government will like come down like a thousand of bricks upon anyone who actually tries to sell pot without the polite fiction of it being for medical use.

??? There's an explicitly recreational shop about two blocks from my house. (This is Boulder, though.) I haven't been paying very close attention, but last I heard, the feds had said that they weren't going to bother enforcing federal marijuana laws in Colorado.

#87 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2013, 11:48 AM:

Oh yeah. Here we go:

Boulder-area leaders, pot business owners welcome federal stance
Garnett: Feds 'allowing us to implement what the voters approved'

#88 ::: Mishalak ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2013, 04:43 PM:

#86, #87 ::: Jacque

Yes, but a similar directive and assurance came down from the DEA about medical marijuana in California. But the reality was that soon after Mendocino County Sheriff Thomas Allman started licensing and inspecting marijuana growers in his county to solve a false alarm problem with legal growers the DEA busted the largest licensed medical marijuana grower in the county. I expect that the feds will periodically bust large growers or retailers depending upon who is in charge of a particular department in a given week.

Also, do not forget, AG Eric Holder had a memo about concentrating deportation efforts on criminals rather than people who were illegally in the country but not engaging in other criminal activity. As I recall ICE is still arresting and moving towards deportation of people who would theoretically be left alone by the wording of the memo.

Memos from on high are often ignored by on the ground agents and supervisors.

#90 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2013, 08:25 PM:

Jacque 87/88: In the immortal words of Peter Tosh, "Legalise it, don't criticise it. I will advertise it. Yeah." I am also ready to chase 'way vampire...

#91 ::: Fragano Ledgister has been seized by baldhead Gnomes ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2013, 08:26 PM:

For quoting classic reggae lyrics. Mi a go chase dem crazy baldhead.

#92 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2013, 08:38 AM:

And... the Virginia AG race came within 32 votes, out of 2.2 million.

Both sides are preparing for a recount at their respective expenses... with the old governor asking his supporters helping to fund the R side. Note that electronic voting machines are in heavy use in VA, with even paper ballots being read by a machine.

#93 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2013, 08:46 AM:

Correction: The recount itself is paid for by the state, but both sides have staff costs which they need to pay -- basically, sending people to all the districts.

#94 ::: Mishalak ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2013, 01:07 PM:

And now I will explain the 51st State movement here in Colorado to outsiders.

Some rural Republican politicians thought they could grandstand their way to... something, I am not entirely clear on what they thought they would accomplish with the movement given the practical problems, and so put secession from the State of Colorado on the ballot in 11 mostly rural counties. Those counties listed from most to least populous are Weld, Elbert, Logan, Moffat, Yuma, Kit Carson, Lincoln, Washington, Phillips, Sedgwick, and Cheyenne. Of the eleven counties five (Yuma, Kit Carson, Phillips, and Cheyenne) had a majority in favor of secession. Theses five do form a contiguous area but have a combined population less than American Samoa (look it up).

The totals for all the counties voting were 40,757 for and 50,614 were against the proposition.

On the whole I think that, if they wanted to go, Colorado east of 104°3'W would be more sensibly part of Nebraska or Kansas. The thing is that it is apparent most of the residents are uninterested in the idea.

#95 ::: Julia ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2013, 03:59 PM:

John Catsimatidis (a would-be Republican candidate beaten by Lhota in the primary)

You have to give the man credit, though. It takes some serious talent to get pasted as horrifically as Catsimatidis did when the state Republican party chair's kid (and Nixon's grandchild) is your son-in-law.

Our lunatic randian Republican billionaires usually get at least some small amount of respect in the primaries.

#96 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2013, 09:40 AM:

I was the first person to cast a vote at our polling station today. There was only one thing on the ballot - a measure that'd make it illegal for women within Albuquerque's city limits to have an abortion after the 20th week. No exception for rape or incest. I voted against.

#97 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2013, 10:27 AM:

Mishalek:

It seems like the overhead of changing which state was governing some area would be so high, it would only be worth dealing with for a *huge* improvement. And probably there are not all that many huge improvements available by shifting a peripheral area from one state to an adjacent state.

At any rate, when's the last time existing state boundaries moved significantly? The formation of West Virginia? It doesn't seem like this is something that has been done much in the US, but maybe that's just my ignorance showing.

#98 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2013, 10:52 AM:

96
I have to go out to vote a bit later: it's runoff time for my state assembly district.

#99 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2013, 11:07 PM:

Victory! The good guys trounced Albuquerque's no-abortion-after-20-weeks initiative!

#100 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2013, 11:08 PM:

Serge: Great news! Congratulations.

#101 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2013, 11:33 PM:

Serge, #99: Yay! Also, this makes one more time that the pro-birthers have gotten something onto an actual ballot and had it go down in flames. No matter what they think, the people are not on their side.

#102 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2013, 09:10 AM:

In our part of town, and probably elsewhere, that 'initiative' was the *only* thing on the ballot. I wonder how much it cost the city, and whether that means less funds available to help the born children in need.

I guess we turned left at Albuquerque.

#103 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2013, 12:51 PM:

A Virginia state senator was stabbed by his son, who then shot and killed himself. The senator is recovering in hospital. Apparently, the son had just been turned away from a mental-health center for lack of space in the system (that is, not just that facility, but anywhere nearby).

#104 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2013, 02:32 PM:

And a followup article about the problems in system

It looks like Sen. Deeds was in fact "my" state senator, that is representing Charlottesville.

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