Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Scoop?

So I heard a juicy rumour 10 days ago.  Only last night did it occur to me, "Hey - I have a weblog now!  I have some information that has not been reported in the print or any other media!  It concerns the only thing in Lethbridge that people outside the city have any knowledge or interest in!  Maybe these things could be connected in some way!"

Anyhoo, I'm sitting with family and friends around the campfire.  One of these friends occasionally works at Lethbridge City Hall.  And this friend was informed by a now-and-then colleague that Dave Heatherington had been in to City Hall to pick up an Alderman Kit (the forms that you need to fill in to get onto the ballot for October's municipal elections).  Dave is more commonly (only?) known as Mr. Dar Heatherington.

Caveats:  the understanding I got from the campfire chat was that the "now-and-then colleague" cited by my friend was in the room when Mr. H. got his kit, but she could be simply at the end of the City Hall gossip track (purple monkey dishwasher).  Also, you don't need to record or even say who the kit is for when you pick one up, so it could in theory be for anyone.  That said, it does raise the possibility that Dar Heatherington may run again for City Council if she is legally permitted to do so.

I suppose the proper reaction to this is Big Deal - That's Democracy.  Well....barely.  The problem is that Lethbridge elects its eight aldermen off a slate - no wards.  Everyone running for City Council goes on the same ballot that every voter receives.  Voters can make up to 8 choices, the 8 top vote-getters win.

This is why I detest alternatives to good old, first-past-the-post, representative democracy (covered ad nauseam in previous discussions on proportional representation).  The eighth-place finisher in the 2001 election (Dar, by the way) got named by 5701 voters - 23.8% of the ballots.  Hack on first-past-the-post all you want, but no one in my memory under FPTP has ever won an election with such tenuous "support".

If each alderman represented one-eighth of the city, then right now, one-eighth of the city would now be particularly motivated to punt Dar to the moon.  Certainly, her pleas that "she just wants to represent her constituents while she appeals an unjust ruling" would carry even less weight if there were a couple of community associations in her ward advising her to cram it with walnuts.  Instead, she's everyones problem, and thus no one's.  The visible campaign to force her to resign is led by the mayor and his lawyer!  So much for grassroots and citizenship.

In the 2001 election, 137,599 aldermanic votes were cast on 24,003 ballots - an average of 5.73 choices per ballot - interesting only because it demonstrates that there are many voters who select fewer than 8 candidates.  Any sensible voter who strongly supports one candidate under this system will vote for only that candidate, lest they cancel it out by voting for a competitor.

If she runs, I'm sure she'll finish 9th or worse.  But in a ward system, where a specific geographic constituency is invited to support her as their sole representative, or reject her by choosing someone else, she'd be as dead as fried chicken.  Under the slate system, give her some votes from:
- Anarchist and/or dipshit high-schoolers who think it's funny (God bless 'em)
- Family and friends
- People who have actually been helped or represented by Dar on some City issue
- Conspiracy types who think she's being harassed by the phallocracy
- Single male loners who like whackin' it to her hooker outfits at council meetings on cable access

If these people furthermore decide to vote for Dar and only Dar, we suddenly have a bit of a race, and it may not matter if 80% of the population declines to vote for her.  I'll say it again:  transparency and accountability are what makes first-past-the-post the best system going.

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