Wednesday, July 27, 2011

A Popular Mayor?

Mid week.  I'm wondering just what I'm going to mention this day.

Nothing especially shattering comes to mind.  I suspect anyone reading this already knows my opinion on the so-called budget crisis in Washington.  It continues to drag along with some votes perhaps today (Wednesday) on opposing plans.  There is some talk of a short, 30 day extension on the deadline, but it's hard to see just what that would accomplish.  It would only postpone the inevitable outcome and continue to make our Congress critters look foolish.

I guess we'll just see what happens.

Portland has another mayor candidate as Democrat activist Ethan Strimling has tossed his hat into the ring.  For as long as I can remember, the Portland City Council has selected its ceremonial mayor from among its own.  Last year voters in the city chose to have the mayor popularly elected and created a new (for Maine) system of election.  So far, there are, according to reports I've read, 19 announced candidates and one announced "write in" candidate.

I must admit that no longer being a resident of Portland I haven't followed this new method as closely as I should as it might just hit other places in the future.  From what I've read so far, I certainly hope it doesn't come to my town.  The good people of Portland said they wanted their mayor to have at least 50% of the popular vote.  And they wanted just one election to do it. 

It looks to me like voters will have to rate the candidates in order of preference.  If one candidate doesn't get the 50% number, then the lowest vote getters will be eliminated and the rest rated once again.  Seems to me the only way this will work is if the voters rate the candidates perhaps several times on the same ballot.  The elimation and rerating will continue until one winner emerges.

As I said, I haven't followed this procedure very carefully so I guess I should simply keep quiet.  But that's no fun.  I will try down the road to get a more definitive understanding, but first blush seems to indicate a nightmare for both the voter and counters.  If my initial understanding is even close to reality, I can't imagine voters trying to rate 19 or more candidates two or more times on one ballot at one time.  Someone will eventually emerge with that 50% or more number and that candidate will boast how the election was a mandate for his/her plans, but first appearances are that it would be only a massive joke.

I will look into this further just for my own education.  My family lines do have a maternal grandfather who was a Portland mayor in the 1930s and a member of the Portland City Council in the '30s and early '40s.  I don't recall right now if he were among the last of the popularly elected mayors or among the first of the City Council chosen mayors.  Or perhaps both.

A new topic:  I have been a defender of umpires ever since I became one back in the 1950s in Florida.  If you haven't yet seen it, look for a chance to see the final out call in last night's Braves/Pirates game.  The Brave's Julio Lugo (Remember him?  Yes, he's still in the majors.) scored the winning run in the 19th inning.  Or did he?  Watch a replay and see for yourself.


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