Watching City Hall
by h. brown
|Thou shalt have early polling places!
|-- John Arntz (Elections Director for the next five years,
sealing the fate of IRV)
I told you idiots so! I told you 3 years ago when Willie bought the
Eagle II machines that there was probably some backdoor way to cheat on
them and that any real reform in the Department of Elections would have to
include dumping ES&S (the machine & ballot company, owned by a Republican
senator who lied about being CEO while his company’s machines were used to
tabulate his own close election which, not so surprisingly, he won).
More on that later.
The aforementioned Arntz has been showing his disdain for the Board of
Supervisors now that he is insulated with a six-figure contract for the
next five years. Who the hell did they interview? Let me guess. Uh,
seeings as I was there when Arntz nearly fainted in his first election
night appearance as acting director cause a few polls got ballots late,
seeings as the new Elections Commission said Arntz tested high on a “mock”
election night interview (for God’s sake, didn’t they see the real one!?)
and was some “300 points” above his closest competitor … hmmmm, who could
he have beaten by that kind of margin (and who scored the test - ES&S?)?
I’d guess he beat out Sylvia Johnson, Frederick Hobson, Amos Brown, and
Warren Hinckle. Personally, I’d have gone with Hobson as the new head of
the outfit as it requires long hours in the basement, sitting among stacks
of paper while brooding and sorting lawsuits. All the better if he did the
gig as “Miss Kitty” and sat in an open window to meet her public à la
I mean, I’m the only one with the balls to say that the San Francisco
Department of Elections is obviously under a curse from God Almighty (in
whatever form you deem her). C’mon, think about the last two Directors of
Election. Remember our own Dr. Phil? He, like, brought an exotic masseuse
to be his assistant. (Copying Da Mayor?) He got popped for raising money
for the mayor. Then, do we really need to talk about the ballad of Tammy
Face it, folks, our elections may as well be run by three witches with
kettles burning on Twin Peaks. And every election should be on Halloween!
We should be so lucky. But what we get instead is a contract for $1.6
million to ES&S when the work can be done, say industry insiders, for a
third that with room to spare. And the contract will never be fulfilled.
The contract, that is, to alter the city’s three-year-old Eagle voting
machines to work for “Ranked Candidate Voting,” or IRV, as it was passed
on election day (“Instant Run-off,” as it was sold, cause it eliminates
the need for run-off elections).
Sandoval and A. Phillip Randolph
Then, here comes Gerardo Sandoval (give this man a raise so he can
clean up his act, pleeeease!). Here comes Sandoval carrying a 2.5 million
dollar special appropriation to a bunch of the mayor’s cronies for
“Outreach” to teach the people the system Da Mayor hates. “Pretend you’re
at the track. You hedge your bet by covering Win, Place & Show. You
understand? We got 2.5 million if you want to go to the track and try it
out first hand.”
Yup, uh huh. Got you. Except for the part with Sandoval carrying
Willie’s numbers receipts. This work will make you cynical if you don’t
drink heavily and smoke the best of ganja daily. Fortunately, I’m covered
on both fronts.
So, the Board’s “reformed” Elections Commission creates Arntz, who
rises from the table and starts kicking some ass on his creators. Yeah,
his bit about not wanting to create more early polling places was a
precursor (my personal guess only), what my buddy Adriel Hampton said on
Comcast’s “City Desk” on Cable 23 last week: “The canary in the mine. The
warning before the great event.”
OK, I’m being too eloquent. Hmmmm, how important are clean elections?
Hell, we never had them before and did just fine.
Anyway, I’m betting (my experts tell me) that Arntz, as a former
computer teacher and law school graduate, should know better than anyone
that the alteration of the ES&S program to accommodate IRV is a piece of
cake. He’s pretending it’s nuclear physics. I see him leading an
obstructionist effort within the department to see that IRV never happens.
The boy is not dumb. For a computer lawyer to suggest a Florida-type hand
count for our first IRV when a simple programming remedy could easily be
had reeks of Willie Brown. Obstruct. Obstruct. Obstruct.
Soooo, prove me wrong John Arntz. Let an outside consultant look at the
It ain’t gonna happen though, is it, boy? Nope, not for 1.6 million.
Not for 100 million. Because it has national ramifications and could lead
to honest elections. The kind of elections the ES&S equipment clearly
compromises. You were there when they bought that equipment, right? Hmmmm.