Arbor Update

Ann Arbor Area Community News

August 2008 primary tomorrow

4. August 2008 • Bruce Fields
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For all those people who like to cram for tests at the last minute:

ArborUpdate articles:

  1. And the results of my cramming so far:

    sheriff: Jerry Clayton. What Larry said. Minzey seems to be a disaster. Based just on the A^2 news voter guide, Bialec doesn’t look serious. (No policing experience whatsoever?)

    county commissioner district 8: Bergman: the incumbent. Based on the A^2 news voter guide her opponent lists no specific experience and seems to be running mainly on a pro-Minzey platform.

    Mayor: Hieftje: Would Tom Wall please volunteer on some committees and/or run for council first? I’d just like to see some concrete evidence of experience with city government before electing him mayor.

    first ward: Sandi Smith. She seems to have more relevant experience, and a more detailed understanding of the city, compared to her opponent, who just seems to have an axe to grind (to the point where it’s not clear how well she could work with the mayor and the rest of council). I want someone who understands that things are complicated, not just someone with one or two strong opinions.

    Drain Commissioner: Bobrin, the incumbent. Why do we elect drain commissioners, anyway? Again, just going by the A^2 news, the challengers didn’t seem that serious. One lists no administrative experience whatsoever, the other says “As your Drain commissioner you will see me out walking our drains and inspecting them, which will dramatically reduce the amount of tax payers money that is now spent on others that inspect the drains” which seems a little out of left field.

    Judges: no clue whatsoever. More cramming is required.

       —Bruce Fields    Aug. 4 '08 - 06:58PM    #
  2. Bruce, I agree with you right down the line, except that Conan is my Commissioner.

    As for the judges, I’ve ruled out Gutenberg because of the POW! endorsement. Among the others I don’t have much to go on.

    Lowenstein’s temperance crusade probably rules her out, but then she really gets under Blaine’s skin, which speaks in her favor. Also her Hava Nagila ringtone was an act of genius.

    Easthope? He wasn’t the porch-couch guy, was he? I think that was Greden. But he was involved in the Greenway debacle, which is a big, big strike.

    Connors has done a nice job color-coordinating her advertisements. She’s got some skill when it comes to branding, but I don’t know much else about her. Still, as far as I know she hasn’t done anything yet to make me spitting mad, so she has the leg up right now.

       —Parking Structure Dude!    Aug. 4 '08 - 09:30PM    #
  3. PSD, your Connors choice would certainly be consistent with your assessment that “getting under Blaine’s skin” works in Lowenstein’s favor. Margaret Connors was the Prosecuting Attorney who unsuccessfully went after Catherine Wilkerson for her attempt at protecting protestor Blaine from physical harm from the authorities.

    In a post in another thread, I pointed out the apparent ties between Margaret Connors and the Federalists Society, and in a post in still another thread I mention some reasons this is bad. Of course, from this same information, you may come to the exact opposite conclusion. But isn’t that supposedly the beauty of this whole democracy-thing.

       —Michael Schils    Aug. 4 '08 - 11:27PM    #
  4. Michael, I appreciate your thoughts. I didn’t follow the Wilkerson case closely enough to have strong feelings about it outside of a visceral distaste for any proceeding involving the above mentioned chronic rabble-rouser. Still I appreciate your pointing out that candidate Connors is married to the current Judge Connors. There ought to be a one judge per family rule, just because… because… just because I don’t know why, but judge spouses just sounds like a bad idea.

    I’m going to have to go home and sleep on it, but it would seem that a pro-greenway judge could probably do less damage to civil liberties than a judge on a puritanical anti-alcohol crusade, no matter how cool her ringtone is.

    There has to be a better formula for deciding than that. Too bad Larry can’t just tell me how to vote.

       —Parking Structure Dude!    Aug. 5 '08 - 01:07AM    #
  5. PSD, if you let me take you out to lunch on Election Day, we can talk. I’ll be happy to keep your real identity secret — just as I did for AAIO.

       —Larry Kestenbaum    Aug. 5 '08 - 01:18AM    #
  6. Sheriff – Jerry Clayton, of course. “Two terms of idiocy is enough.”

    Drain Commissioner – Bobrin, a nationally known expert we are lucky to have.

    County Commissioner – Bergman, someone experienced in a time of deep doo-doo for county government. Her opponent was put up by the sheriff.

    First Ward Council – Lesko, of course.

    Judge – Lowenstein. She’s not part of the district court assembly line, and will bring a fresh, civil rights-oriented perspective to the court.

       —David Cahill    Aug. 5 '08 - 03:33AM    #
  7. Larry Kestenbaum wrote: “PSD, if you let me take you out to lunch on Election Day, we can talk.”

    Larry, I don’t think that lunch with PSD! [I’m not excited—it’s part of his name] would allow you adequate time to pursue this special Election Day project, which I thought up just for you

       —HD    Aug. 5 '08 - 04:06AM    #
  8. If one examines the Margaret Connors judicial campaign committee initial Statement of Organization filed in mid-February with the Secretary of State Bureau of Elections that is available for doanloading at it will be noticed that the registered committee fax number was (734)222-3082; this fax number, if run through a Googol search, comes up as a Washtenaw County Circuit Court fax line assigned to the office of Judge Timothy Connors; the 2008 Michigan annual bar directory likewise confirms this as a circuit court fax line for Judge Connors’ office. In mid-March of this year an Amended Statement of Organization (also in downloadable form) was filed with respect to Margaret Connors’ judicial election committee that did nothing but change the committee’s registered fax number to a different line that has no apparent connection to the circuit court.

       —Mark Koroi    Aug. 5 '08 - 04:48AM    #
  9. It’s Election Day! Be sure to vote. The polls are open until 8:00 p.m.

    Democracy depends on popular participation.

       —David Cahill    Aug. 5 '08 - 04:28PM    #
  10. Vote early, and vote often!

    And good luck with the AutoMARK machines, if you’re either visually impaired or interested in field-testing voting machines. I wrote up some notes about AutoMARK problems based on last election’s experience. The short answer appears to be to tear off the stub before putting the ballot into the marking device, tear carefully of course to avoid making the ballot hard to insert in the ballot counter.

       —Edward Vielmetti    Aug. 5 '08 - 04:45PM    #
  11. The poll workers are supposed to tear it off for you. (They did at my poll) Then you insert the ballot into the counter yourself, to preserve the secret ballot, and return the privacy sleeve to the workers. I hope there are no problems!

    Oh yes, and vote early and vote often, as they used to say in Chicago under the Sr. Mayor Daley. What a machine!

       —Leah Gunn    Aug. 5 '08 - 05:06PM    #
  12. Arthur D. Hlavaty, writer and critic, likes to refer to Chicago mayors “in the Haitian manner”: Papa Dick and Baby Dick.

       —Larry Kestenbaum    Aug. 5 '08 - 05:13PM    #
  13. But after you vote, don’t go relaxing. As DC said, Democracy depends upon participation, but necessary and healthy participation extends well beyond voting:

    * attend a council meeting

    * speak at public comments

    * attend various debates

    * call your council peoples

    * keep track of how they vote

    I’ll be doing some of all of that. Stay informed and involved.

       —Bob Kuehne    Aug. 5 '08 - 06:26PM    #
  14. Larry, your lunch offer was very kind, and I would certainly trust you with my secret identity, but I’m afraid I didn’t see your note until this morning after I had already voted. In the end I went with my own idiosyncratic logic. Mrs. Structure-Dude! made a different choice for judge based upon a chance meeting with a canvasser a few days ago. So spins the election wheel of fortune.

    With luck neither of us will ever have any need to meet the eventual winner.

    Best of luck in your own race. You got my vote!

       —Parking Structure Dude!    Aug. 5 '08 - 06:39PM    #
  15. Does anyone know how many folks had voted when you voted, at what times and at which precincts?

       —David Cahill    Aug. 5 '08 - 07:48PM    #
  16. Twenty-seven votes at 8:00 a.m. in ward 3 at Pittsfield elementary. There was a short line to vote at the time.

       —Katie    Aug. 5 '08 - 08:01PM    #
  17. I was #108 in 5-4 at Slauson School at about, um, 10:15 am.

       —Ken Josenhans    Aug. 5 '08 - 08:10PM    #
  18. We were the first and second voters at the Mary Street Polling Place. At 9:00am. They are in for a long, sllloooowwww day. I know a few people who voted absentee there, but I would be kind of surprised if it is under 20 total, including the absentee ballots. Which is too bad, because it is a cool building and I am always worried that low turnouts are going to eventually doom it.

       —Juliew    Aug. 5 '08 - 08:52PM    #
  19. JulieW – You are right – it is a cool building. I don’t think Mary St. is doomed because it is owned by the City and used ONLY for voting The problem today is that it’s a mostly student precinct and, of course, they are away. Absentee ballots are up about 16%, I was told, so that is a factor. In any case, I bet it will be jammed in November!

       —Leah Gunn    Aug. 5 '08 - 09:34PM    #
  20. I think I was #62 at Bach Elementary at about 9:45 this morning. It was slow and quiet, and the machine rejected my ballot twice before finally suckin’ it down.

       —sustierras    Aug. 5 '08 - 10:33PM    #
  21. I was voter #43 at Precinct 1-6 (Northside School), but the machine said I was voter #69 because the workers had already put in the 26 absentee ballots.

    In Precinct 1-10 (Arrowwood) the turnout will be up substantially over August, 2007. In 2007 there were 155 votes, while this year, based on an assumption that walk-in voters will be steady throughout the day, I project that 248 total votes will be cast.

       —David Cahill    Aug. 5 '08 - 11:35PM    #
  22. “Judges: no clue whatsoever. More cramming is required.”

    I ended up voting Easthope, though honestly it was a bit arbitrary. The judges are always a bit of a mystery to me.

    Minor whine: is there any place to get a single complete sample ballot online? Would it be possible to do that some day? E.g. is missing most of the local stuff.

    When I handed over my driver’s license (after finding out my University ID doesn’t work—huh) I asked, out of curiosity, whether an out-of-state license would have worked, and they claimed it would work only with some sort of proof of residence. Based on the city’s election page, I’m assuming they were confused, or I misheard. (Anyway, I understand nothing’s really required if you sign an extra form).

       —Bruce Fields    Aug. 6 '08 - 12:23AM    #
  23. Hey, Larry, (or anyone) I might have missed the explanation, but I’m curious why a non-partisan race—the 15th District Court judgeship—was on the primary ballot instead of the general in November.

       —Steve Bean    Aug. 6 '08 - 12:31AM    #
  24. Steve, I think there’s a run-off in November of the top two vote getters.

       —Parking Structure Dude!    Aug. 6 '08 - 12:48AM    #
  25. Steve, there is one judge position available, and four people are seeking it. This nonpartisan vote-for-one primary is intended to narrow down the field from four to two. In other words, the top two finishers in August will compete again in November.

       —Larry Kestenbaum    Aug. 6 '08 - 12:49AM    #
  26. Re: why non-partisan judges on primary ballot

    If you start with the assumption that you want to offer voters a choice of just two different candidates in the fall, then the primary becomes a nice occasion on which to winnow the field down to two. Top two advance to the November ballot.

    Poll workers at Bach School were making an extra point of explaining that you had to pick a Party and stick to it—no crossing back and forth willy nilly across columns—BUT that you could and were encouraged to vote in the third column, which was non-partisan for the judges race.

       —HD    Aug. 6 '08 - 12:49AM    #
  27. Thanks, guys. I had a nagging feeling that I was forgetting something.

    With four candidates that each appear to have considerable support, this race would have been interesting to have tried IRV (in the general, without a vote in the primary.) It’ll be interesting to see if we learn anything new about the two remaining candidates between now and November.

       —Steve Bean    Aug. 6 '08 - 01:06AM    #
  28. Voter #105 at Ypsi’s precinct 3-1 at 12:30pm.

    Pretty good, considering that I’m typically in the #40-60 range at the same time of day. (Always including sample ballots, because my precinct’s workers always have time on their hands.)

       —Murph    Aug. 6 '08 - 02:00AM    #
  29. I heard some speculation around town today that results could be delayed a bit, given that there’ll be more than a smattering of write-in votes in the 1st Ward to be processed.

    But is that really true? I mean, the bubble next to a write-in can be scanned just as quickly as any other bubble, so the reason for the delay would be to check the name written in against the list of aliases submitted (that’s the process, yes?) by the registered write-in candidate.

    So how will that work—results of Write-In reported initially with an official confirmed number later?

       —HD    Aug. 6 '08 - 02:34AM    #
  30. I’m not sure, HD. I expect there to be delays due to workers’ uncertainty about handling variants of Lesko’s name. Also, I don’t know what they will do if her name is written in, but the oval is not checked.

    The results this evening will be “final unofficial”. The Board of Canvassers will meet within a few days and issue a “final official” tally. There is also a recount procedure, but I don’t know how it works.

       —David Cahill    Aug. 6 '08 - 03:58AM    #
  31. If a name is written in, but the oval is not marked, the vote does not count. Write-in candidates typically lose 10% or more of their votes this way.

    I have advocated a change in the law to count otherwise valid write-in votes even if the oval is not marked, but most of the clerks don’t agree with me.

       —Larry Kestenbaum    Aug. 6 '08 - 04:44AM    #
  32. I was at Northside School in the afternoon and there was no sign of any Lesko volunteers passing out literature although Sandi Smith did have one volunteer and her lawn signage in the driveway in front of the school.

       —Mark Koroi    Aug. 6 '08 - 04:46AM    #
  33. Results —first smattering are starting to come in.

       —HD    Aug. 6 '08 - 05:09AM    #
  34. I put up a page with a bunch of deep links to election results where I could and will add in comments here as is useful.

       —Edward Vielmetti    Aug. 6 '08 - 05:15AM    #
  35. Murph: I think you were voter #5 (ballot 105) in 3-1. I was #3 at 9am. My husband was #32 at around 6. There were only 47 votes cast. Go 3-1! It just means our votes are worth more, right?

       —Suzie    Aug. 6 '08 - 02:13PM    #
  36. Suzie – Yeah, after looking at the results, I think you’re right. Disappointing. I suppose this is why we don’t have a polling location in our precinct…

       —Murph    Aug. 6 '08 - 03:29PM    #
  37. Anyone have some creative thoughts on how to increase turnout for August primaries from 13.5% city-wide (Ranging from 9% in Ward 1 to 19% in Ward 5)?

    Bach School precinct continued its track record of offering ass-kicking treat and prize baskets (powdered sugar donut holes, fake-nose-and-glasses). But I feel like it’s going to take more than that.

       —HD    Aug. 6 '08 - 04:28PM    #
  38. HD, what are the reasons for low turnout in the first place?

    More importantly, (stepping back) what do you hope to achieve through higher turnout? After you’ve answered that, ask yourself if higher turnout would really result in it.

       —Steve Bean    Aug. 6 '08 - 06:23PM    #
  39. Don’t expect people to vote when most of the races are uncontested or don’t provide serious competition. I haven’t seen the precinct level breakdown but I would bet that turnout levels tracked those precincts where there were contested races. At the local level, 20% turnout is fairly typical unless there is a tax or policy question on the ballot.

       —John Q.    Aug. 6 '08 - 06:25PM    #
  40. John Q, can questions even be put on a primary ballot?

    If so, there you go, HD, get a tax question on the ballot. Convince the Dems (who hold all council seats) to commit to putting at least one question on each primary ballot as a plank of the party platform in the interest of democracy. But first answer the questions I posed or you likely wouldn’t be able to convince them (if even then.)

    If not, John Q’s comment on competition seems reasonable, and might even explain the differences you reported between turnout in wards 1 (I’m interpreting the presence of a write-in candidate as not competitive—I do think her campaign was “serious”) and 5.

    What do you think about the potential of (not for) IRV?

       —Steve Bean    Aug. 6 '08 - 06:39PM    #
  41. Steve,

    “Policy question” should be interpreted as “charter amendment” or “zoning referendum” or something akin to that which involves a policy question to be decided by the voters. Local governments aren’t allowed to place advisory questions on the ballot so what you suggested wouldn’t be legal.

    I’m not sold on IRV. At the local level, I don’t think that the concerns that IRV tries to address are the real barriers to voter participation. Of any area local government, Ann Arbor has all of the demographics that should favor high voter participation. Why it doesn’t won’t necessarily translate to other communities but it would be interesting to hear the theories on why.

       —John Q.    Aug. 6 '08 - 07:29PM    #
  42. A binding “question” could be put on a primary ballot though? Or are we really just talking about “proposals” that would be decided in a general election? (I’m trying to get at HD’s interest in boosting turnout for primaries.)

    My question on IRV was intended for HD, but I obviously didn’t make that clear. I think what you say about IRV relative to participation locally is probably largely true, but I think it has other potential benefits (and that’s another discussion.)

       —Steve Bean    Aug. 6 '08 - 08:05PM    #
  43. “I asked, out of curiosity, whether an out-of-state license would have worked, and they claimed it would work only with some sort of proof of residence. Based on the city’s election page, I’m assuming they were confused, or I misheard.”

    I didn’t mishear—the people at 1-6 said the same thing to someone else, even after consulting their own list of approved from of ID’s which clearly included licenses from other states. I don’t know anyone who was turned away as a result, but this still seems like a problem. Who’d be the right person to complain to?

       —Bruce Fields    Aug. 6 '08 - 09:27PM    #
  44. Re: on the motivation for boosting voter turnout

    I didn’t mean to suggest that we need to boost turnout in order to achieve something. (As in, say, We need to increase the number of people voting, so that more X-ish candidates will be elected, or so that more Y-ish kinds of referendums can be passed.)

    But rather that a higher turnout would be good because it might be taken as evidence of a greater level of civic/democratic participation described by bob kuehne in an earlier comment.

       —HD    Aug. 6 '08 - 10:06PM    #
  45. HD said: “Bach School precinct continued its track record of offering ass-kicking treat and prize baskets (powdered sugar donut holes, fake-nose-and-glasses).”

    Drat! Scarlett/Mitchell once again let us down :( I did get an “I voted!” sticker.

    FWIW, my husband and I were voters 127, 128 early afternoon in 3-6.

       —TeacherPatti    Aug. 6 '08 - 10:29PM    #
  46. I believe the Ann Arbor electorate made the right decision in sending the two most qualified candidates to the general election in the 15th District Court race.

       —Mark Koroi    Aug. 6 '08 - 10:36PM    #
  47. HD,

    Part of the answer for low turnout is that the number of registered voters is substantially higher than the number of people who still live here. When people move away, their registration may not be removed from Ann Arbor’s voter roles. I did an analysis of the first ward voter registration file and concluded that up to half of the registrations were people who had probably moved. The turnout number should be almost double the stated number.
       —Chuck L.    Aug. 7 '08 - 01:40AM    #
  48. Chuck L. wrote: “I did an analysis of the first ward voter registration file and concluded that up to half of the registrations were people who had probably moved.”

    Point taken. So let’s say that the appropriate adjustment is a factor of two. I’d still like to see civic/democratic involvement in the community that results in greater than 16% turnout for the First Ward and 38% for the Fifth Ward.

       —HD    Aug. 7 '08 - 02:01AM    #
  49. If greater civic involvement, generally speaking, is desired, I think that trying to increase voter turnout would be coming at it from the wrong direction. Instead, I think that lower-level relationships and understandings are needed before civic involvement becomes a higher priority.

    A while back I came up with the term “communitation”, which I roughly define as all those behaviors and actions that build community. You might say that what we have here is a failure to communitate. Sorry, couldn’t resist. :-} I’ve been meaning to blog about the concept but just haven’t gotten around to it.

       —Steve Bean    Aug. 7 '08 - 03:46AM    #
  50. Steve, I think you are correct. Make someone feel that they are part of a community and have a stake in its outcome, and then the desire to vote (to change or maintain the “stake”) will follow. Right? I mean, that seems logical.

    I’ve also heard folks say that we should make voting FUN! Now, you & I know that everything shouldn’t have to be “fun” to get people to participate (I cringe when students say “this isn’t funnnnn….” Well, no kidding—you aren’t at the carnival, kiddo), but making it more of an event might be something to consider. Of course I have no ideas how to do that off the top of my head :)

       —TeacherPatti    Aug. 7 '08 - 05:35AM    #
  51. Does anyone know if either of the two judicail primary losers, Joan Lowenstein or Margaret Connors, have endorsed any of the winnners for the general election?

       —Kerry D.    Aug. 18 '08 - 04:32AM    #
  52. Kerry: According to the campaign website for Chris Easthope, Councilperson Lowenstein has joined the list of his endorsers, as well as a number of other councilpersons and councilpersons-elect. Connors and Company have appeared to join the Easthope campaign as Timothy Connors’ name is on the endorsement list for Chris; however Mrs. Connors is not mentioned on the Easthope website.

       —Mark Koroi    Aug. 21 '08 - 04:55AM    #
  53. As of now, Margaret Connors’ name is on Easthope’s website.

       —David Cahill    Aug. 23 '08 - 03:58PM    #
  54. I find it baffling that Margaret Connors and Eric Gutenberg have worked in the same office since 1989 and yet she would endorse Gutenberg’s opponent in the general election. Does anyone know or can speculate a reason for this?

       —Kerry D.    Aug. 29 '08 - 04:26AM    #
  55. Could it be that Mrs. Connors is a bit miffed that Washtenaw County Prosecutor Brian Mackie supports Eric Gutenberg for 15th District Court Judge and not Connors. If Connors is for Easthope, I’m for Gutenberg.

       —ca1776    Sep. 3 '08 - 10:08AM    #
  56. ca1776: What’s your beef with Margaret Connors? Was it both the failed anti-Ku KLux Klan demonstrator or Dr. Wilkerson prosecutions? Or perhaps something else? I agree it appears the financial contributions and/or public endorsements of Prosecutor Brian Mackie, Chief Assistant Prosecutor Joe Burke, and Deputy Chief Assistant Prosecutor Steve Hiller of Eric Gutenberg had to be embarrassing to Mrs. Connors and likely was a substantial factor in her defeat at the polls on August 5th.

       —Mark Koroi    Sep. 4 '08 - 01:54AM    #
  57. Carsten Hohnke maintained his win in the recount, and will be serving the 5th Ward on City Council. I saw this first in the AA Chronicle – good work from Mary & Dave.

       —Leah Gunn    Sep. 10 '08 - 12:00AM    #
  58. John Floyd won the Republican nomination and I witnessed him in his recent debate. I do not believe that he should be written off; he is an eloquent and informed candidate who should be given serious consideration by the electorate.

       —Kerry D.    Oct. 27 '08 - 05:38AM    #
  59. Is Vivienne Armentrout, loser in the Fifth Ward City Council Democratic primary endorsing her fellow Democrat Carsten Hoenke, her fellow Ask Voters First organizer John Floyd, or making no endorsement at all.

       —John Dory    Nov. 3 '08 - 12:11AM    #
  60. John Dory asked if Vivienne Armentrout is endorsing Floyd or Hohnke or no one.

    According to the November Ann Arbor Observer, she’s not endorsing either.

       —HD    Nov. 3 '08 - 04:25AM    #