odds and ends

I haven't posted anything up here for a month because I have been so tied up with the shit going down in FVC, nicer shit going on with BICN, and with this new university course i am doing. Also I have had some bad news from home.

I think most of this stuff is worth reading, so I will send it out as one blog for everyone's edification. I do not intend to go on treating this blog as little more than my diary. Now I have the kind of platform I need, I am going to start writing publication quality stuff again.

May 12

Well, folks, I have found something at a good time. I hope it stays up on youtube. I have been looking for something like this for a long time; a good, concise, practical explanation of what psychopathy is all about.

It explains what a psycho is, how they have effected history, how they effect modern society, and how to recognize and defend against them. I think it should be compulsory viewing for anyone who wants to be an officer of any civil society organization.

So everybody on this list go and view it, and then if you still do not notice that Meslin is a secondary psychopath and working for primary psychopaths who want Fair Vote shut down or coopted, then maybe you should forget about voting reform and go join a bird watching society.

The video lays out the basic strategies to get rid of the Mez bunnies;

1) You are not going to negotiate any compromise with them. Any attempt to respond to them at all gives them a lever to manipulate you.

2) They can only be dealt with unemotionally, patiently, and from a position of strength. The object is to remove them from the field.

3) Their response will be very vicious and we will have to be capable of outlasting it. The film advises leaving them an escape route, however in this situation I do not think they have an escape without being exposed, which is what they will really fear.

The best ending for this story is for us to get a strong core of people in charge of Fair Vote who see things correctly, cannot be conned or cowed, and whom Meslin decides is more trouble than the prize is worth. He then folds up RaBIT, probably claiming it was achieved its aims, and finds a new "campaign", some new people to bother.

So, pop some popcorn, pull up an easy chair, and enjoy.


No date on this one but obviously before the FVC national vote on May 17.

Well, it is time to write some more to the Fair Vote ginger bunch. I have news for them.

I am in a somewhat somber mood today. I have a big bandage on my head, which aches a bit. It is there because the dermotologist cut out a little piece of my hide and stitched up the hole. He did that because the report from the biopsy said that the smaller piece he dug out two weeks ago was cancer.

I was suspicious of something like that. I had a similar growth on my ear a couple of years ago. I am not hugely worried, because there is some history of skin cancers in my family. My grandfather had repeated bouts with it and he lived to be 94.

But my clock is ticking and I would like to accomplish a few things in life, now that my health is much better in other ways. Two things I want to focus on are;

1) helping to build the alternative social media, so people can communicate like facebook and twitter without going through facebook and twitter.

2) Help start the counter jihad against the power brokers reaction to voting reform, meaning in effect, AV pushers.

Toward the first, I have now had my new social engine software up and running for a little while. I like it so far. But all I am using it for right now is as a platform for my own blog. I finally have something I can control, that is really portable.

So, go read my blog. http://www.burble.ca/index.php/blogs/1

Want one yourself? It is free. Just go to http://www.burble.ca and sign up. Be the first real person to do so.

I have had about twenty personas try to sign on. Most of them seem to be computer generated. A couple seem to have had the idea that this is a place to sell stuff.

Now, the question I have for you folks is; should I get the groups plugin or the forums plugin? At one point there was a forum about voting reform. If there still is one I am unaware of it.

That format might suit some of the people on this e-mail list. Or, you might want to have a "group" to talk about voting reform stuff. I have some more experience with forums than with "groups". However, a group is really just an enhanced form of e-mail list like this one and I have had quite a bit of experience with those.

This is the key to doing anything on the net; there has to be a competent moderator. The quality of the group is largely the quality of the moderator. This is why facebook and twitter are both basically useless. The internet gives the lie to the idea of anarchy, regardless of the ideology of so many of its participants. It is a labor intensive endeavor, something like education. Or democracy.

I might try moving everyone onto a group inside burble, although it does not look like there is an easy way to do that. I assume by now everybody assents to being on this list. But it is notably hard to get people to try out something new. Advice written about managing online forums often advises just signing people up and let them drop if they want.

I do want to have this thing going well before I start trying to promote it.

But what do the people on this list want? Is a forum or groups format the best idea? One thing I have noticed about members of FVC lists is that they are not terribly assertive. They are passive followers because, I suspect, active followers or leaders have been actively weeded out.

I think that is a big part of what is now going badly wrong with FVC. It has always been a rather elite group with the idea that a small group is going to lead and a a bigger group is going to do the grunt work without question, and that was all that was needed because achieving the goal was going to be just about lobbying politicians.

That is not how it works anymore and there are not to many obedient followers around anymore. Most are now getting pretty old, too. What you do have a lot of is parade follower types, and very timid people who want something safe and undemanding to belong to.

So when a group like RaBIT shows up and starts making noise, the former join the new bandwagon and are uninterested in underlying principles, and the silent types back out because it has suddenly become disturbing. So the leaders no longer have a following and instead of dealing with the loudmouthed takeover types, try to keep everything quiet so as not to drive off more people, and to find some way to appease the interlopers.

The solution is, of course, to draw back into the FVC community the people who the snobs have pushed out, the people who get what voting reform is about and have the guts to stand up to the loudmouths. Such people are always scarce in Canada, but they are the people I would like to attract. So again, how? How to reach them?

But now I have pretty much gone into the second heading, how to fight back against the power brokers and their stooges. They are still winning by default. To illustrate, here is the recent article in the SUN. They are shooting for a mayoral election by AV in 2018 and for city council by 2022. This seems slow. maybe it is just to lull us into thinking we have time, and they will slip it all through by 2014.

The URL is http://www.torontosun.com/2013/05/04/toronto-group-pushes-for-ranked-ballot-in-municipal-elections


I cannot find a damned thing on the FVC site or anywhere else even responding to he AV campaign. They obviously have FVC utterly cowed and beaten. A new leadership group in FVC is going to have to hit the ground running to make up for this lost time. We can't waste another year.

So, how is the election doing? We seem to have a full slate of pretty good people. But do the people voting know what they are voting for, what the issues are, what s really going on? That is questionable.

Not many people seem interested in finding out more, or they are being discouraged. I am one of only two candidates to give out an e-mail address; no biters. I am the only one to set up a web page. I have had only 33 unique visitors so far. How many people are eligible to vote?

It is maybe not as bad as it looks; looking at my stats page it seems the ones who are visiting are going through my material quite thoroughly, sometimes visiting more than once.

Well, it is now late and time to go to bed and heal the scar on my head. If no more information comes in tomorrow I should decide how to rank the mudville nine and vote. tr

No date for this one, either, but before the city hall hearing on the AV resolution in mid May

Well, today I received some very timely information from Foxy June. There will be deputations at Toronto city hall on Monday about reforming the vote system. The deadline to register to speak is at 4:30 the day before the sub committee meeting. So I got the news from June, on the Toronto chapter, on Friday. I happened to open it up right at 4:30.


I might call the committee clerk on monday and see if I can still get slotted in. But usually you have to be there all day waiting for your chance to talk. And I have a fairly important meeting scheduled for Monday evening.

So, the rabbits in Toronto seem to moving along pretty well. The foxes can't seem to get it together. The rabbits are being slowed more by the administrative problems of enacting a new voting system than anything else.

If serious public resistance to AV cannot be mobilized, it is probably going to become fact. AV is pretty attractive to most Toronto council incumbents. While it is not really true that they can't lose and will usually get over half the vote, AV would give most of them a considerable advantage, at least as much as the plurality system.

But who would really love it are the local party bosses. If you look at the results of the last election, what strikes you is that there are very few independents who polled high and apparently none who won. Almost all councillors are connected to a political party. AV would enhance party control because it would be harder for an independent to even come second.

But the big attraction for the present establishment is that AV would cement them into place. I am sure they would really fear STV; not because it would make it all that much harder to win seats, but that it would create multi member constituencies. This would very sharply restrict opportunity for control and patronage.

I think people would be amazed at what a change it would make when people can waltz out of their councillors office on councillor row in city hall, after the councilor refused to play ball with them, and stroll into the office of one of their other councillors.

So, while it is important to show that there is an argument against AV, and some people willing to make it, I wonder if city hall is where the main effort should be directed. In fact, it is the lazy way to go about things; much easier than getting out and mobilizing the public.

So, I might come down to city hall on monday with a three minute miracle written down and see if I can get some air time. I am probably not one of the stronger advocates for PR at city hall; I am strongly disliked by some of the more hard left councillors around there, for reasons which have nothing to do with Fair Vote or PR.

It would be interesting to see how FVC-T performs at city hall, given how it has given its troops such short notice and seems to have been caught with its head up its ass.

The talking points June gives are not the really strong points you would use in talking to these people. The message should really be, we will not allow this to be rammed through by unethical means. It is a spurious reform intended to cut off real reform. Her only good points are about the expense of reform versus the benefits, the lack of any real improvement in AV.

The howling bad talking points are; that AV makes it harder for women and minorities and that AV is only used in a few places. As to the former; how? Where is the proof of that? Which leads us to the second; guess what? STV is not used in many places either, especially for local government. Weak argument.

Of course, the real advantage to PR are just what the politicos will not want to hear; the weakening of patronage politics.

If you are at all interested in the local Toronto situation regarding voting reform, you want to read the staff report at http://www.toronto.ca/legdocs/mmis/2013/gm/bgrd/backgroundfile-57756.pdf

Start at page eight.

Note a very significant objection to any kind of rank ordering system; the large numbers of candidates in Toronto elections. The only way to do STV would be to have voters mark only as many candidates as there are seats, and with the numbers of the candidates from off a list.

It also occurs to me that an advantage to STV might be that it is cheaper overall. I wonder if anybody has looked into this where STV is used and can be compared with other systems? You would have fewer districts over all, requiring fewer tabulating machines and some other logistics.

So, if I can get down to city hall while this is going on, I will report back. Fortunately this is not a big panic, we will not be getting AV for 2014. Plenty of opportunity to stop it if we get our shit together in the next year or two.

And here is what I had to say to their councillorlynesses

For distribution to city council

Submitted to the subcommittee on Governance management on May 13, 2013, regarding item GM22.15, proposed electoral reforms

May 13, 2013.

To whom it concerns;

I, Tim Rourke, am a member of Fair Vote Canada but at present in no official capacity. Below is my own opinion.

I am opposed to the idea of the city adopting the Alternative Vote system as proposed by members of the Ranked Ballot Initiative Toronto (RaBIT) group. I have long been involved with the voting reform movement in Canada and in Toronto. I have observed the development of this RaBIT initiative and its activities.

I know this group to be a fake group, whose governance is secret, and which I do not believe is incorporated. It has been put together by operatives of the Federal Liberal party, which has an official policy of promoting an Alternative Vote (AV) system. Nominally, this voting system is being promoted federally, but the core of operatives behind the initiatives obviously have a very aggressive, "eliminate all alternatives" kind of strategy for achieving it.

This includes establishing AV at other levels of government, and trying to have it implemented by fiat, without discussion of any alternatives. Indeed, the aim is clearly to eliminate any civil society elements advocating anything different. Liberal party leadership candidates and members of parliament who advocate proportional representation have been threatened using the language of "career ender".

Organizations such as Fair Vote Canada and Canadian Electoral Alliance are being subject to quite nasty "rule or wreck" tactics from RaBIT and other groups traceable to the Liberal party. These tactics have been very effective; the Toronto chapter of Fair Vote Canada has been paralyzed for three years, and the national council for at least a year, by the bully tactics of people affiliated with RaBIT.

After the national council of FVC adopted a policy about conflicts of interest, these people withdrew themselves from the Toronto chapter, but are still seeking to harass and disrupt. They are running candidates for the national council. Their very clear and consistent aim is to stop FVC from opposing their effort to establish AV in Toronto, or even to endorse AV.

If FVC ever endorsed AV at any level, that would be the end of FVC, as shown by its internal referendum on the subject. Some of the rhetoric of proportional representation is misleading, even the name. Proportional voting is not about having the allocation of seats to parties exactly conform to the popular vote. It is not about ensuring that everyone has a representative who they voted for, even as a third of fourth choice, through ranked ballots.

The object of PR is to insure multimember constituencies, because a single representative cannot fairly represent an entire geographical area. Multiple constituencies also greatly reduce opportunity for patronage and lobbying, which I am sure many Toronto political types will be pleased to hear. The goals of proportional representation do not require formal political parties.

Another principle which has been developed within the voting reform movement, by which I mean the legitimate movement, is that members of a legislative body are in a conflict of interest if they try to decide the voting system by legislation. Despite great resistance, the principle is being established in this country that major changes to the rules require some form of public consultation followed by a referendum.

In fact, the public consultation should take the form of a citizen's assembly. Your staff memorandum notes that all public consultations on voting reform in Canada have failed. There have been some cases in other English speaking countries. They have failed because they proposed phony reforms, as in the AV referendum in the U.K., or because they were set up to fail, as in Ontario and PEI. In British Columbia, the referendum passed the first time and the rules were misinterpreted to nullify it.

New Zealand and Scotland have overcome conflicted interference and held successful referenda on both national and local voting reform. The results have been satisfactory to the public of these countries. Successful change of the voting system through democratic means can be done; it requires a proper process so that those with improper motives cannot interdict it.

So, if you want to change the way councillors in Toronto are elected, here is how you do it;

1) We need some form of noncompromised public consultation to study local voting systems, determine if a change is needed, what change is needed, and the form of a referendum question. It should hear from academic experts on voting systems and not place much weight on front groups run by professional activists.

2) We need a referendum on the change to be held separately from a general election. The vote must be preceded by an information campaign with enough time and money for a "yes" organization to get its message across to the public.

3) There is no need to publicly fund a "no" side. Experience shows that they will have no shortage of resources from private sources. Any initiative to enlarge the scope of democracy, or set a good precedent, is stomped on very hard.

4) Victory for the Yes in a referendum means 50% plus one; not 60%, or majorities in some combinations of districts, or any of that nonsense. Yes means yes.

I would also note that a referendum election would be a lot cheaper to hold than a general election.

To conclude; a proportional voting system for Toronto would greatly improve local governance by making councillors much more responsive to their constituents and much more independent of special interests. The AV phony reform would have the opposite effect and would be hard to reverse, which is its intent.


Another, from day after deputation was done.

Now it is time to ramble a bit.

I went over to Toronto city hall this afternoon at about two, to take in the committee storm and thunder about the AV voting motion. These meetings usually start at nine or ten, but I have been to some of them and the item everybody was there for did not start until late afternoon.

I did not think it was likely I would get a chance to speak to the committee, but I had scribbled some notes just in case, and brought along copies of the written presentation I did. I am attaching it to this message.

I stopped at the info desk to ask what room the thing was going on in, when the usual suspects from the Toronto chapter walked up and surrounded me. It seemed the thing was all over, and had ended rather inconclusively, with a tie vote. It was going on to the city council and they were not clear how they should proceed from this point. Usually you are not able to make deputations to the full council.

I collected copies of other deputations which were made and I will ramble them at you folks, too. But the most disturbing thing I heard from them was that city council committees no longer want to hear "deputations" from ordinary Joe Shmoes anymore. You have to represent some established community organization. Now, that makes some sense; I have always been a bit concerned about these public hearings with people presuming to speak for whole classes of people without saying who they really are.

But it seems that all kinds of people were being allowed to speak for the AV motion, while those speaking against it were having some sort of problems and being challenged. I could not get out of these people exactly what went on, as usual. They still are not straight out about what is going on, which is why they are still shooting themselves in the foot. Soon they left and I was left wondering if it would be possible to get transcripts for this meeting.

They also said that the national council was forbidding them to speak against the idea of an AV vote for the mayoralty. This idea did not seem to be under discussion. As near as I can understand this, this is the national council's idea of an olive branch to the RaBIT group, which is contemptible and slightly whacko.

They thought Meslin was very good at using the institutions of FVC against itself. He has terrified the national council by threatening them with legal action. I have had lots of letters sent to me made up to look like legal documents but without signatures or any court number or even date, and I have not been intimidated by them. Why does this juvenile intimidation work with supposedly smart and educated people on the national council?

What Meslin is using against them is their own paranoia.

We talked a bit about ideas for electing mayors. I said that presidentialization of city government should be discouraged; it would be better for the major to be appointed by the council much like a prime minister is. They seemed to have a "we agree with that but we don't want you to talk about it too much" attitude.

They also talked a bit about a rotating mayoralty, with mayors appointed from council for very short terms. This, too, is an interesting idea. It is close to the ancient Athenian idea of everyone serving as chairman for a few days. The trouble is, there are not too many modern examples of this being made to work. I much prefer to advocate for something with a track record than something that does not.

One other thing they talked about was getting a web site up about; come to think of it they never did explain just what he web site they have in the works will be about. Presumably, about an alternative to alternative vote for city government, but what can they say

So now, do I want to run for the exec of FVC-T now? If I get elected to national council, can I do both jobs? Just running for NC is taking a significant part of my time and mental bandwidth. If I do not get onto the NC, is the local chapter the consolation prize?

Some prize! I will have to deal with these people mostly face to face. I already know that dealing with them is like wading through glue.

The deadline to apply to run for the local is May 20, the results of the NC vote will be known on the 17th. Good idea to wait until then. If I do not win NC, it might be better not to run locally. Being on both the national council and local chapters might give me some useful advantages, but what about the work load?

We shall see, we shall see.