Thursday, October 01, 2009

Recycled election

So the big story back in Newfoundland today isn't this (alleged) scumbag turning himself in to face child porn charges or even this scumbag declaring bankruptcy even after bilking the public for hundreds of thousands of dollars.

No, the big story is this scumbag strutting around like cock of the walk over the stupidest method of deciding an election I've ever seen.

For those of you not familiar with Newfoundland geography, Paradise can be described one of two ways:
1. A thriving community just outside St. John's located in the northeast Avalon.
2. A subdivision with delusions of grandeur that really ought to be part of St. John's.

I tend to lean towards the later, but that shouldn't be a surprise given the name of this blog.

Anyway, Paradise had their municipal elections on Tuesday. And in a bit of a shocker Kurtis Coombs beat out incumbent Ralph Wiseman for the mayor's race. The reason it's a shocker is that Coombs is only 19 years old and was, I believe, all set up to be the youngest mayor in Canadian history. Even beating out Steve Kent when he became mayor of Mount Pearl (see description above description of Paradise) and who is now enjoying a thriving career as a Tory backbench MHA trying to suck up for a cabinet position.

So yes, happy news all the way around for Coombs. Except he won by three votes. And Mr. Wiseman certainly has the right to challenge that and ask for a recount. But it also helps that in interviews right after the election he comes across as a sore loser and a bit of a prick.

Recount happens and....it's a tie! And what does the Newfoundland and Labrador Municipalities Act say should happen in the event of a tie? That both names are tossed into an envelope (actually, in this case, apparently it was a recycling bin. Because this story needs to get stupider), and the winning name is drawn. And Wiseman wins.

Dear god...

Wiseman is all kinds of damned in all of this. I mean, it never should have come to this, really. Wiseman and Coombs should have agreed beforehand that in the event of a tie - which there was obviously a real chance - that they didn't want the name from an envelope (or recycling bin) option. That they wanted to talk to Municipal Affairs and see if a run-off election could happen instead. Because drawing a name from an envelope is a pretty shitty way to decide an election.

But no. And I obviously wasn't there, but I'm betting that even if that option wasn't presented, Wiseman wouldn't have went for it. He had a 50/50 chance with the envelope. One gets the feeling given his comments and the fact that people liked the story of a 19 year old being a mayor, he would have lost in a run-off.

As it stands he's pretty damned anyway. People loathe the way this was settled. Wiseman appears unjustly cocky about the whole thing. And it's likely going to end up as a judicial recount. And even if Wiseman manages to hold on to the mayor's chair, he's going to have a brutal term. Talk about no one respecting him.

Wiseman should fall on his sword and end this. He won't, of course. Instead, this will only get more farcical before it's all over. Hard to believe, what with a recycling bin being used to break a tie in an election, but I'm sure it will.

Last Five
1. Paperback writer - The Beatles*
2. Because - The Beatles
3. Unbound - Robbie Robertson
4. Wicked come winter - Matt Mays and El Torpedo
5. The night is still young - Billy Joel

8 comments:

Mark said...

"Wiseman and Coombs should have agreed beforehand that in the event of a tie - which there was obviously a real chance - that they didn't want the name from an envelope (or recycling bin) option."

Yup - that's a great precedent. Let's allow candidates to right their own election rules midway through a campaign rather than respecting the ones they agreed to run under.

WJM said...

Even beating out Steve Kent when he became mayor of Mount Pearl (see description above description of Paradise) and who is now enjoying a thriving career as a Tory backbench MHA trying to suck up for a cabinet position.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

Steve Kent isn't just trying to suck up.

Chris Callahan said...

Fuck, I’m pissed.

There, I said it. I’ve taken the high road until now (and it’s been a fucking hard week) but this fucking sucks. Heads or tails?

Last weekend, I wrote an editorial in the Tely that supported Coombs. A lot of people I knew were voting for him. But this stings. I could link to articles on how I felt about Wiseman (and there are many), but I really felt Coombs was doing this for the right reason.

I’ll include a letter to the Tely I just send that may or may not be published. FUCK.

To say that I’m unhappy with the recount results in Paradise is an understatement. Most people seem to agree. Just look at the online comment section at the CBC or Tely. Most people think it’s an anti-Ralph vote that got initially got Mr. Coombs elected. Perhaps. Regardless, the end results speak volumes on so many levels.

Election results show that there was an anti-whoever-is-on-council vote. Except for Allan English – the only councillor who spoke out against the rapid development in town. His reward? Most votes of anyone running for council. Those who supported Wiseman, and the developers, are either gone or finished poorly. That result cannot be recounted nor ignored.

But give Mr. Coombs some credit - a lot of credit. He had the guts to toss his name in the ring when you and I never. He has taken a beating from anonymous idiots who feel he’s too young, too inexperienced or because he lives with his parents. And he’s taken this criticism like a man. He has not pointed fingers, accused his opponent of running a negative campaign nor blamed our towns water problems on his neighbour’s Jacuzzi.

He has knocked on doors – mostly by himself – and campaigned when no one gave him a chance in hell of winning. He knows the issues we face here in Paradise, when Wiseman and some other councillors don’t. He listened, took notes and acted like a gentleman when going door to door. He actually listened to the concerns of town residents. Despite what Wiseman says, he did not run a negative campaign. Like most people, he just wanted answers. The only difference is that he asked the questions.

towniebastard said...

Mark, I don't see a problem with saying "wow, this is a dumb way to settle a tie, can we pause a moment and see if this is the way we want to decide how a mayor is selected for a major Newfoundland municipality?"

Maybe it does come back down to drawing names from an envelope (or recycling bin), but it would have been nice to have taken a day or two to talk about this a bit first.

This is a result that makes exactly one person happy, and even now, I suspect he's not going to be happy for long, given the level of hate he's going to experience winning an election like this.

When they revise the Municipalities Act to change this (and you know an attempt is going to be made), they might as well call it the Coombs Amendment.

Mark said...

I don't see a problem with it either. All I am saying is that the candidates don't get to set the rules in the way you suggested. That would only make things worse

If change is required - and it sounds like it is - then the place for that change is in the legislature.

Adam Snider said...

I don't have a horse in this race, so my opinion is based solely on what little I've heard about this on the national news. But, when I heard Wiseman's comments on CBC this morning, I immediately thought, "This guy is a tool. He sounds way too proud considering the way that the election was ultimately decided. He wasn't elected; he had his name drawn from a hat (or recycling bin, which is actually funnier)."

I mean, OK, that's the way the system works. In the event of a tie the winner is decided by the equivalent of flipping a coin. Fine. But if you're the winner, you should at least have the good sense to acknowledge that it was a very close race and that your opponent ran a good campaign. You don't act like you're king of the world because the (metaphorical) coin toss went in your favour.

WJM said...

Maybe it does come back down to drawing names from an envelope (or recycling bin), but it would have been nice to have taken a day or two to talk about this a bit first.

And a day or two is likely all it would take, given how very little scrutiny the sad-sack legislature gives to such matters.

But that's where the day or two would have to take place. The two candidates could take a day or two, or a month, to come up with a new method of settling a tie: pie-eating, rock/paper/scissors, no-holds-bard caged death match.

But there's only one method provided for in the current Act, and it's the one that is mandatory. That's what the pesky little word "shall" in ss. 60 and 65 of the Act mean.

WJM said...

It wasn't a recyling bin. It was, in the eyes of the law, a "receptacle". It was trans-substaniated.