more democracy hangs by a thread

Shutting Drawers

As a new face at the BOE ( board of elections ) I noticed people shutting their desk drawers whenever I walked past. I cornered Fred, an old veteran there who I was consulting with and asked what was going on. “Oh, nobody knows you yet and they are all political appointees who don’t have anything to do so they read books but keep them in the drawer. When someone they don’t know comes by, they just close the drawer.”

How long is lunch

We were consultants, billing out at a good rate so every moment counted, and we were all business. We had a set number of hours to get the system up, data from the old servers converted, and the employees trained. We needed to work closely with Dan but every day he would disappear for about three and one half hours. Once more to Fred, “Oh yeah, I think he runs a side business, but nobody can touch him”.

Total Chaos

It takes time to get things ready for an election. That’s why they have deadlines. The ballot needs designed, voters registered, poll books and eligible voter lists printed, tables and voting machines to be tested and ready for shipment. There are loads of temporary workers, and everybody ( even appointees ) pitches in. If a ballot box is misplaced, it is perfectly believable there is so much going on in such a short time. When back in the 2000 election there were issues like this in Florida, in my opinion it wasn’t a plot, it was just mistakes crazy busy people make.

Crazy Voters

Once when John McCain was running for president scores of democrat voters switched parties in the primary to vote for McClain, there weren’t enough republican ballots. The board had to make phone calls, find out where every extra ballot was and get it to the proper place. There is no accounting for people changing their minds at the last minute. Since then, even though it might be wasteful, they print extra ballots.

Fierce Old Ladies

Daily I’d walk past the office where the big computer screen is setup to allow for redistricting. This step lets whichever party is in power change the lines of the wards. For example, you might move the line over a few blocks and add a bunch of republicans to a ward, or move it another way and remove a bunch of apartments that are mostly democrat. The little old ladies that were ward leaders would be in that office just brow beating the director. We used to joke they were the fierce, feisty females, or the grim, grouchy, grannies.


So these are my stories, and why I sometimes tend to favor privatization, but I still have faith in the system because of the many election workers who are diligent and conscientious. I hope you vote because it matters. People need to vote their conscience. I feel that for all the characters I came in contact with, the BOE did as good a job as possible.

One last thing I learned is how important it is for newspapers and bloggers and us to hold government accountable.

8 Comments on “more democracy hangs by a thread”

  1. emjayzed says:

    I am intrigued by people’s passion for politics. I notice that in USA there seems to be a lot greater “care factor” than Australia. Don’t get me wrong, we care very much here and take it seriously but I guess we don’t discuss it as openly as our USA friends do. That cultural difference fascinates me.

    Personally I don’t understand politics much at all but I try to understand enough to vote conscientiously as I do appreciate the freedom I’m afforded to be able to “have a say” in a safe and equitable manner. Not everyone gets that.

    • billgncs says:

      It is a great right, without it, slavery or at least some form of it is inevitable.

      Elected officials have a trust, and I usually vote to try to keep them accountable.

  2. I have the less faith in privatization than I do in the public sector when I know that the top people make 4000 times the pay of the average person, uses corporate profits to hire private jets to travel to government lobbying efforts and accept government money, then make outrageous profits and pay no taxes but use all that money to lobby more politically and fund presidential campaigns, and so on,and then pass those costs on to us, the consumers, in rising prices.

    Hey, how about all those wonderful junkets they set up for politicians and that they get to go on, too? I’m sure that they really don’t want to go, or have to take their families with them, extended or otherwise.

    Or the pennies (make that tenths of pennies, maybe even thousandths) on the dollar that they pay employees; and the lack of benefits or caring they display, the only concern being is for stock prices and benefiting those at the top.

    And it’s only government regulations that make them do something about sound levels in the trenches that cause hearing loss, or poor lighting which affect workers’ vision, and pollutants that affect not only workers but the surrounding communities… Need I go on? I could.

    But throwing that book into a drawer while on company time which a few appointees do, and shouldn’t even be there at all, makes for a heinous crime, not only by the individual worker but an indictment of the whole system. Like wow, some of us really do have it all wrong..

    • billgncs says:

      Hi Randy,

      You know, I knew a person in charge of a military base in Italy and he always said that the excesses of the Congressional Fact Finding Junkets were sickening. Those are usually tax payer funded.

      In the immortal words of Bill Belicheck, I can only go by what I see. I had several gigs with different government agencies and rarely saw efficiency.

      I agree the amounts some executives are paid are excessive, but that is the responsibility of the Board of Directors to protect the shareholders. It saddens me that it happens.

      Once where I worked, the CEO received a bonus of 15 million dollars, however he had taken the share price from low 10’s to over 48 dollars a share adding over a billion dollars to the capitalized value of the company. Maybe not excessive given the value he created.

      I cannot understand people who drive companies into the ground and are awarded excessive pay. That seems wrong.

      • Thank you for your comments.

        Excess is excess whether it is managerial excess in the private sectors or the excess of inefficiencies in public ones.

        Just because a CEO brings a stock price from the low 10’s to 48, why would he receive $15 million? What about the workers who broke their backs doing it for him? What about the stock holders who used to get dividends, and were more interested in slow and steady growth and returns rather than the churning of today and the pan flashes?

        And what would you say to me as a public sector administrator of a $100M budget if I was were to increase services, increase revenues, and decrease my budget by 10%, and then write myself a check for $8m? You’d scream, “But that’s what Randy was being paid to do. And why should Bill, as a tax payer have to pay him that outrageous sum?”

        Well, Bill what’s good for the goose is good for the gander. The same principles need to hold true for the private sector.

        But I really don’t want to talk about the economics of corporations, either private or pubic.

        I want to talk about people, every day people, and the excesses that we, as a society, have allowed, excesses that reach so far into our lives that the average person cannot cope financially, that our children can not make it financially – and we must stop these excesses, we must have regulations – people, corporate people, political people, government people – or the excesses of greed will overcome us all.

        Too many people want to take, but not give. And certainly not give back.

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