The ballot system issue; a counterpoint to the Mayor’s ridiculous spin (7-5)

In the February 7th council meeting we very briefly discussed ballot systems.  The issue was  mail (current) versus internet/ phone (proposed).    A motion to bring a bylaw for internet/phone balloting before council failed.  Against the rules Mayor Jackson carried on debate well after the vote was taken.  Right after the meeting the Mayor sent an email making false statements about my position in the council discussions.  Here are my comments on both the council discussion and Ms. Jackson’s email statements.

Mayor breached the rules by making argument after the vote

The ballot method matter was item 8.9 on the February 7th agenda.   There was very little discussion. Only Councillor Vukovic spoke.  The vote on the item was called (by the mayor) one and a half minutes after the item opened.  Then there was a recorded vote about 1 ½ minutes after the unrecorded vote. The motion failed.

Item 8.9 was at that point closed.  We went on and debated items 8.10 and 8.11.

There are rules governing closure:

 A 19.8 No member shall speak beside the question in debate.

A22.6 After any question is finally put by the Mayor [for a vote], no member shall speak to the question,

A22.7 After any resolution, question or matter has been decided except in those situations described in (a) – (h) below, any member who voted thereon with the prevailing side may move for reconsideration within the same meeting.

16 minutes after item 8.9 was voted and decided, and after we had completed two more agenda items, the Mayor, who had not voted with the prevailing side on item 8.9, started in on item 8.9 again, clearly in violation of all three above council rules.

Rule  A19.10 says:

“Rules of debate and conduct apply to the Mayor in the same manner in which they apply to members of Council.”)

The mayor is bound by the rules.  The mayor was clearly out of order.

Because the Mayor was so clearly out of order, I raised a point of order, but the mayor refused to hear it and shouted me down, (another violation of the rules).

Then with complete disregard for the rules, and in contempt of council, the mayor then proceeded to present the results of her “referendum”/“poll” regarding item 8.9.

Her comments are on an audio recording at:

www.craiggammie.com/audio/council7february2917item8.9ballotmethod.wma

And in a transcript I made at:

http://www.craiggammie.com/audio/Transcriptitem8.9february72017revoting.pdf

I did not change my vote

Jackson said in her February 7th email:

Councillor Gammie voted in favour of bringing forward this change however he reversed his vote today.

This is false.  In the February 7th council meeting the Mayor was clearly confused and had absolutely no idea what was going on.   Because the mayor was so confused the clerk had to explain to the Mayor what issue we had voted on January 17th and also what issue was before us on February 7th.  Here’s a transcript of the exchange between the clerk and the mayor on February 7th.

Jackson: Did we not get to this point in the last meeting? Like is this not the by-law that’s coming forward tonight?

Clerk Cathrae:             …. so at the last meeting you approved that I could bring back a report with the bylaw.  So here’s the report with the by-law and you’re telling me no.  So it’s done.

Jackson: Ok I’m sorry I expected the readings of the by-law today.

The agenda did not have a bylaw up for vote.   Yet the mayor thought we were voting first second and third readings of the bylaw.  The Mayor was very confused.  The mayor either did not read the agenda or did not comprehend what was in the agenda.

On January 17th I voted to bring a report forward.   I did not vote for the by- law January 17.  No one voted for the by-law January 17th.  The by-law was not on the agenda January 17th.  The by-law was not on the agenda for readings February 7th.

On February 7th I was voting against “putting the necessary by-law to approve the alternate voting method of internet and telephone voting on the agenda of an upcoming council meeting for consideration” (emphasis added).

There is no way this can reasonably be construed as “changing my vote”. I did not change my vote.  The Mayor’s statement is false.

Not that there would be anything wrong with changing one’s vote.  Some matters have up to four different votes, on at least two different days, so that we can go out and discuss the matter with constituents, and change our positions if warranted by those discussions.  It is our duty to keep an open mind and listen to the arguments of residents and council members and change our stance if so persuaded.

I did not say constituent’s comments were “meaningless”

In the February 7th email to her list after the February meeting, Ms. Jackson said;

[Gammie] claimed my polling of constituents was “meaningless” and “not a relevant sample”.

This is false, misleading at best.

Ms. Jackson presented her survey as if it was a valid referendum.

In council on February 7th the Mayor said:

…..that I wanted to bring forward which I didn’t really think was necessary but, however, um, and it was a form of a referendum from the people

And,

I think that’s a pretty good polling of how the people feel.

Her survey was presented against the rules.  But because I felt that her so called “poll” was improperly conducted and that the conclusions were clearly invalid, I felt compelled to respond.

My response in council February 7th was interrupted frequently by the Mayor (another breach of the council rules).

Here is a transcript of my February 7th response with the Mayor’s interruptions removed:

Your poll doesn’t meet any of the criteria of a good poll. It’s not a relevant sample.  It’s not random.  All kinds of problems with it.  People on your email list are not a random sample. It’s not a valid sample.  It’s meaningless if you think this is a referendum, you’re sadly mistaken.  You’ve blasted six per cent.  It’s just like you did in that town hall meeting about the about the foodland “all in favour?” as if that was a council vote..

(Hear the full response at the URL above.)

I said the Mayor’s conclusions drawn from her “referendum” were meaningless.  And I stand by that.    I said that the results were not a reliable indicator of the feelings of all of the constituents on the matter.  And I stand by that.  I was trying to express, (while being interrupted constantly by the Mayor), that because the survey size was too small a fraction of the population, and because Ms.  Jackson had asked a leading question, and because the sampling was not random but was rather selective, and because of other problems, that the conclusions were invalid and unreliable and “meaningless”.

I felt that the Mayor’s survey did not necessarily represent the views of the whole population.    That is quite different than “meaningless”.

I did not say and I did not imply and I did not mean that the comments of the individual respondents were meaningless or invalid.  I found the individual responses very interesting and very meaningful.

The mayor was treating her “survey” as a valid referendum and “a pretty good polling of how the people feel”.  I merely pointed out what should have been obvious to her, namely that her survey was neither “valid” nor “a pretty good polling”.

“Spin”

In her February 7th email J. Jackson took a few of my words and presented them out of context and distorted in order to give them a different meaning than was actually delivered and to give them a different meaning than intended.

The mayor’s style seems to be damn the truth and to hell with the facts.

I have to admit she has a gift for “spin”.  But her spin is still lies and is still deceitful and is still bullying and is still behavior unbecoming.

Malice

On February 7th in the short period when the item was legitimately before council only   Councillor Vukovic spoke on the item.   Councillor Vukovic said that the town has more than 13,000 voters and by innuendo said that J. Jackson’s “referendum/ poll” only covered a fraction of that.   Councillor Vukovic did not expressly say that J. Jackson’s “poll” / “referendum” was invalid, but I believe it was clearly implied.

In her February 7th email J. Jackson said not a word about Councillor Ana Vukovic’s position and Councillor Vukovic’s  vote.  And Councillor Vukovic voted after I did, meaning from a technical sense it was Ana’s vote that defeated the motion.

Yet incredibly Ms. Jackson blamed the defeat of the motion on me and only on me.

That is malice.  Or naiveté in the extreme.  Or both.

Standard of review/ Duty of a council member

We were never provided with a proper ballot systems cost comparison, so I had no reliable indicator of whether or not the mail system is significantly more expensive.

My information indicated that security is no more an issue with mail balloting than electronic.

I knew from experience that the slightly longer time to process mail ballots was not a major issue.

But most important for my decision is that I learned that many who had voted with comfort in the past with our mail system would be so uncomfortable with the internet/phone voting system that they simply would not vote.   I believe that any discouragement from voting would be inconsiderate, unfair,  and undemocratic.   In consideration of all voters, (not just those on the Mayor’s list) and in the spirit of democracy, I felt duty bound to vote to stay with the mail system.

While it is our duty to find out what residents think, the standard for decision making is correctness, not necessarily what is most popular.  All members of council were elected to do what is right, whether or not it is popular.

Apparently oblivious to this duty, it seems that at least one council member may be debating and voting not guided by what is right, but rather for what they believe will get them the most votes in the next election.

I will not and would not vote in council for something I feel is wrong (or vote against what I feel is right) just to get election votes.  I would rather lose the next election than be deliberately uncaring or unfair to those in the minority.  I would rather lose the next election than compromise my integrity.

Another, it seems, does not worry so much about integrity.

 

Craig

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