Between the fliers in the mail and the spam on my answering machine, I’ve actually gotten curious about the brouha over Propositions 1 and 2 in the upcoming city elections.
When the screed hits the fan, I usually just tune out. Nothing turns me off faster than a political pissing match. Thing is, Proposition 6, which repeals a prohibition on domestic partner benefits for city employees, is on the ballot, and I’m making sure I vote for it.
So I can’t very well vote for one proposition without knowing about the rest.
I read the language of Proposition 1, and I found it very disturbing. I come from a journalism background, and I’m all for government accountability and openness. I’m also a web geek who tries to picture how ideas can be turned into reality.
The "real-time" requirements of the proposition led my imagination to some very dark places. One portion of the proposition states:
… require that the heads of all City departments, all city manager’s staff and all city council members and their staff post online in "real time" information about meetings and phone calls with private citizens
You’re going to need one expensive and solid backend if you’re going to detail that much minutiae. And the procedures to implement that kind of tracking? Where’s that going to come from?
This part of the proposition is chilling:
require that private citizens’ emails to public officials be placed on the City website in "real time," including emails or electronic communications between private citizens and public officials in all City departments, and limit the ability of citizens to keep private the details of these communications, unless legal exceptions apply
OK. So we’re posting communication in real-time unless a legal exception applies. But how do you determine what not to post if it’s already being posted in real-time? The way this proposition is worded, something priveleged would need to be removed from being publicly displayed, rather than being prevented from being displayed in the first place.
Nah, I’m sorry. As much as I like openness and accountability in government, I’m not about to break the spigot of communication to achieve it. Proposition 1 is nay for me.
I live on the outskirts of the watershed, so Proposition 2 doesn’t have as much resonance to me. I’m leaning toward voting against it as well. My sticking point is the limitations on infrastructure. Is there no way to curb development without sticking it to infrastructure?
45th Street is many miles away from the areas affecting Proposition 2, but that road such a piece of shit before crews went in and dug up the pipes. If you start putting limitations on infrastructure building today, what’s to stop the clusterfuck of 45th Street happening smack dab in the middle of Barton Hills 10 years from now?
As for the remaining propositions:
- Proposition 3: Yes. This proposition changes the start of the term for city officials to be compliant with state election laws.
- Proposition 4: No. This proposition allows city officials to run for a third term without having to make a petition. Making a third term difficult to achieve is not a liability from my perspective.
- Proposition 5: Undecided. This proposition raises the limits candidates can accept from individual donors. I’m leaning toward no because political action committees aren’t addressed.
- Proposition 6: Yes. This proposition allows the city to offer domestic partner benefits. Oh, hell, yes.
- Proposition 7: Yes. This proposition would raise the term of municipal judges from two to four years. District and supreme court judges have four-year terms, so let’s make it consistent.