Thursday, March 24, 2005
Humboldt County Supervisor John Woolley Considers No Confidence
Since I had never met John before, part of the experience was forming first impressions. I definitely believe him that he intends to read what I provided, and more, to educate himself on the decision the Board will soon have to make about buying new election machines. I wouldn't want to characterize how little or much familiarity he may have with the many thousands of reported issues from the 2004 general "election," but I can say that he was not in denial and very open to hearing what the No Confidence Movement is about.
When I presented John with another copy of the resolution, there was a sense of recognition that I took as a good sign. Perhaps it was just due to having glanced at it when I gave him the earlier copy, or maybe all the media exposure really is elevating awareness.
At any rate, given all the circumstances, I felt like my mission was less about encouraging support for the resolution and more about making the case against buying new machines, and in particular Diebold machines. It is not the strongest of all the talking points, but I emphasized that corporations have inherent conflicts of interest in administering elections because the results have a direct bearing on their only reason for existing which is shareholder profits. Further, with the track record of the machines, the partisanship of the machine makers, and the convicted felons they employ, how can Humboldt County countenance doing business with such companies?
John's response seemed less a counter argument and more of judgment of how that particular argument would fly. He doesn't seem inclined to use this frame. We made mention of framing several times, including my offering about "basis" for confidence being a keyword, and also Consent of the Governed. John didn't exactly pick up "basis" but he did talk about making a positive statement describing the elements of a new and better election system. This, of course, is exactly the way the resolution is structured and absolutely supports the concept of creating a basis for confidence where none currently exists.
Another element of the resolution that we discussed was the call for Instant Runoff Voting (IRV). Like several others before him, John acknowledged the achievement of getting Eureka City Councilmembers Chris Kerrigan and Mike Jones on the same page. The pair will co-sponsor a town hall forum on April 28. I realize as I write this that a good habit to take up is asking people flat out what their position is on something. I don't know John's take on IRV although he specifically mentioned Humboldt County Elections Manager Lindsey McWilliams being "agnostic." John gave me the impression that he would like to be pragmatically curious.
Supervisor John Woolley was entirely approachable and easy to talk to. He had a gentle way of saying it was time to close the topic, but let's chat like people while we finish our beverages. I will definitely follow up with him next week. Of the other four Supes, Bonnie Neely is the only other one to have returned my initial phone message. Unfortunately we've played phone tag. It seems the Supes' staff are able to schedule their appointments so perhaps I'll just politely ask my way to more government access.
That will all wait for next week because I'm off to San Francisco to do a No Confidence workshop at the headquarters of the SF Green Party. My friend Pat was able to secure the office space but it is not an official Green event.
Election Reform Workshop - The No Confidence Movement
Friday, March 25 @ 7:30pm
SF Green Party HQ - 1028 A Howard Street, between 6th and 7th
One last thing for now. On Monday night the Voter Confidence Committee had its first meeting. This is the organization we are building to pursue the creation of a basis for confidence in U.S. federal elections through the specific reforms outlined in the resolution. We are the other co-sponsor for Eureka's town hall forum. VCC will be tabling and doing a workshop on IRV/RCV (Ranked Choice Voting) at The Edilith Eckart Community Involvement Day this Saturday (3/26) at the Arcata Community Center. The event is from 10 AM to 5 PM and the workshop is at 2:15 in the Senior Dining Room. We are also having another organizing meeting on Monday (3/28) at 7pm at the Liquid Cafe in the Burre Center in Eureka. Please join us.
Speaking of your new friend in Supervisor John Woolley...he is on the board of directors of EPIC and is on the Coastal Commission...as he works as a county supervisor. He should either step down from his supervisory job, quit his ties with EPIC, or recuse himself at County Supe meetings when environmental issues come up. Clearly there is a conflict of interest here.
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