Comment 91942

By LeeEdwardMcIlmoyle (registered) - website | Posted September 10, 2013 at 12:05:21

A number of interesting suggestions have been made here as to how the PB Poll might be restructured. As I had no hand in the formation of the original bylaws that govern this process at present, I won't speak to points about whether or not the Compromise plan should be abolished, except to say I disagree wholeheartedly.

As for claims that people were encouraged to select the Compromise over their own preferences, I would like to point out that all Polling Supervisors (of which I was one) were trained and instructed not to rush residents, nor to influence their decisions in any fashion, but merely to explain both the ranking process (from 1 to up to 25 out of the 30 proposals present on the ballot could be selected and ranked, in the eventuality that the resident chose more than $1 million worth of proposals) AND the Compromise option, for those that agreed with the fairness of the Compromise ballot, which was carefully presented AFTER the 30 individual proposals, so as not to bias the decision-making process. Anyone who actively promoted the Compromise proposal without explaining the open poll section was not doing it properly. However, during the course of my two days of poll supervision, I actually visited two other polling stations (I was in one of the mobile polling units; Democracy on wheels! A first!), and at no point did I see or hear anyone pushing the Compromise over the open process. In fact, I witnessed at least one notable instance of having to be reminded that the Compromise was being under-represented.

I also like Norman's explanation that the polling process was comprehensive and new. It's a form of democratic ballot not really seen around here before, but then, that's the point. This is what Direct Democracy looks like, folks. Asking for it to be simplified negates the whole point of the exercise. We proved that it could be done. We proved that it works. I witnessed the counting of more than one ballot (during the counting stage, late Sunday night) that was so carefully pre-selected, most likely using the provided sample ballot as a guide, that they managed to get all twenty five of their choices tabulated without running over the million dollar mark. That is proof enough for me that the balloting process was entirely valid.

Any and all necessary tweaks to the polling and balloting processes can and will be reviewed in the coming months, by the incoming PBO and/or Governance Committee, where applicable. No need for some white knight to ride in and show us how to make things better. We will soon have new Assembly Organizers, Liaisons, Governance and Planning Committee Members, and a new Facilitator to oversee all of those things. I honestly believe that any demands that the process be changed or over-simplified at this point are short-sighted, misguided, and premature. I have no problem with reviews and commentary, and I certainly don't object to thoughtful streamlining that makes the process more effective and accessible, so long as participation is not sacrificed in the meantime. PB in Ward 2 has shown us another way to govern. Hamilton has never seen its like before. But there is no reason to believe our city can't learn a new trick every now and then. Hamilton has had a long history of reinventing itself, believe it or not, and this could very well be part of The New Hamilton we've all been talking about over the last year.

Many thanks to Graham Crawford, Mike Borrelli, Kathy, Tara, Ryan McGreal, and Nicholas Kevlahan for your thoughtful commentary, and to Saira Peesker for her insightful article. Looking forward to seeing more such engagement in 2014.

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