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Thread: No menu - no override

  1. #1
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    Default No menu - no override

    On Thursday May 7th, 2010 the Wayland Town Crier published two op-ed pieces on the upcoming debt exclusion override.

    One op-ed was entitled "Vote 'yes' on debt exclusion override question" and it was authored by the entire Board of Selectmen.

    Another op-ed was entitled "No Menu Means No Override" and it was authored by myself.

    I was pleased to see that the Crier had posted both of these op-ed's with equal weight and side-by-side as a point counter point comparison of these two approaches to presenting ballot questions.

    The opinions are very clear...
    One man's divisive is another man's line-item-veto and freedom of choice.
    One man's divisive is another man's all or nothing and a beauty contest.

    Gee, I have a lot to say about this going forward and trust me, I will..

    But now its time to step up and debate this out in the open.
    Any takers?

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    Default Is this manipulative?

    I have yet to hear a good explanation for why we should lump such diverse things as road repairs, technology for schools and replacing the beach house, together as one line item and asking us to vote on it.

    The only logical reason I can see to do it the way we do is so that some less popular items can get apporved by association with more widely supported items.

    I could understand it if simlar items were grouped together such as road repairs & building repairs, or school technology & textbooks.

    But lumping such unrelated items together just seems either irrational or manipulative.
    John Flaherty

    Any views expressed are NOT mine alone.
    Wayland Transparency - Facts Without Spin
    http://www.waylandtransparency.com/

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    Quote Originally Posted by John Flaherty View Post
    But lumping such unrelated items together just seems either irrational or manipulative.
    Irrational NO ... its very rational and very evil. About as evil as 'pork barrel' rationally gets.
    Now manipulative ? Well yes..........

    And Oh, I just don't see a lot of dialogue on my thread other than you John...
    Whats up with that enews ?
    Last edited by AlanJReiss; 05-08-2010 at 06:47 AM. Reason: A happy ending....

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    Quote Originally Posted by AlanJReiss View Post
    Irrational NO ... its very rational and very evil. About as evil as 'pork barrel' rationally gets.
    Now manipulative ? Well yes..........

    And Oh, I just don't see a lot of dialogue on my thread other than you John...
    Whats up with that enews ?
    Evil, really? That's more than a bit harsh. I think reasonable people can take either side of the issue, but to say you are right and the opposition is evil demonstrates a complete unwillingness to hear those who think differently. It is also intimidating those who might want to espouse a different point of view. Talk about a discussion closer! I am disappointed and surprised you would take this position.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kim Reichelt View Post
    Evil, really? That's more than a bit harsh. I think reasonable people can take either side of the issue, but to say you are right and the opposition is evil demonstrates a complete unwillingness to hear those who think differently. It is also intimidating those who might want to espouse a different point of view. Talk about a discussion closer! I am disappointed and surprised you would take this position.
    When I look at the consequences of forcing a YES/NO both at the local level and at the federal level then the word 'evil' comes to mind.
    So no, I don't accept your guilt trip.

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    Quote Originally Posted by AlanJReiss View Post
    When I look at the consequences of forcing a YES/NO both at the local level and at the federal level then the word 'evil' comes to mind.
    So no, I don't accept your guilt trip.
    I have a viewpoint that might be somewhere between YES and NO, but I am afraid to share it with you. You used the word "guilt", not me. I'm definitely done with this particular discussion.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kim Reichelt View Post
    I have a viewpoint that might be somewhere between YES and NO, but I am afraid to share it with you. You used the word "guilt", not me. I'm definitely done with this particular discussion.
    Somewhere between YES and NO... I would be very curious to hear about that on this situation.

    When I was on the BoS there was an instance where ambulance drivers were being lumped into a multi-million dollar YES/NO override and I attempted to separate public safety from the millions to be spent on other things. I was told point blank...

    "If you want your ambulances then you gotta go for the multi-million dollar override" ... right there at the table... I was astonished.
    At that point I replied with another term... much worse than evil ... it was

    "Oh so now I get it... I and the people who depend on fire station 2 in Cochituate are being extorted"

    No reply at all back from that BoS table to me on that occasion.

    So which term is worse EVIL or EXTORTED ?
    Either way... this is what happens with YES/NO overrides when you lump things together that shouldn't be together.

    Perhaps somebody besides Kim wants to jump in on this... since Kim has closed down this discussion with me.

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    I'm inclined to agree with Alan.
    No reason to feel guilty about the use of the word "evil" for something that seems to be designed for selfish interests and to force people into voting for something they otherwise might not vote for just because it's lumped togehter with something else that they do want.

    It doesn't work in the private sector. You're not forced to buy a loaf of bread when all you want is a quart of milk. You have options. You can pay for only that which you want.

    However, I DO have a willingness to hear from those who think differently.
    In fact, I would like to hear some logical explanation for why this type of thing is acceptable and in the best interests of "the people".
    John Flaherty

    Any views expressed are NOT mine alone.
    Wayland Transparency - Facts Without Spin
    http://www.waylandtransparency.com/

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    Quote Originally Posted by John Flaherty View Post
    However, I DO have a willingness to hear from those who think differently.
    In fact, I would like to hear some logical explanation for why this type of thing is acceptable and in the best interests of "the people".
    Hey John, I want to hear from other people too on this. Thats why I setup this thread which had no real action until I labeled YES/NO pork barrel ballot questions as EVIL and EXTORTIVE.
    I'm all ears... tell me why this is incorrect? I'm here to be taken to rug on this.

    By the way... interesting story...

    When the MSBA provides its funding grants and the town has to create a ballot question for its share of the funding.... ready for this.....

    The MSBA demands that the town list the high school funding ballot question as a separate item and not lumped into any other spending measure.
    In fact, I was in the BoS room when that revelation was brought up by the town administrator.... I seem to remember that there were potentially other items that could have been lumped into the high school ballot question and the BoS was advised not to do it.

    Remember that ballot question? Only ONE item... just the high school... nothing else.

    Wayland has NEVER had a menu ballot question and the high school ballot question wouldn't allow a YES/NO lumped with other things. So it stood alone.
    My theory, no precedence could be created by that instance of a menu.

    I called the MSBA and asked them to explain why they demand menu or separation on the school funding issues...

    Want to know what they said? Kim come back and ask me and I'll tell you.

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    Default Very apt

    You know, I think I agree with Kim. The word "evil" is just so negative and probably doesn't apply to the individuals who promote grouping expenses together like this to make sure they get certain things passed.

    I think "extortion" is a much better word for it - forcing something out of someone by manipulating the circumstance so that the alternative will be even worse for them.

    Alan, I think you hit the nail on the head here.
    John Flaherty

    Any views expressed are NOT mine alone.
    Wayland Transparency - Facts Without Spin
    http://www.waylandtransparency.com/

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    Quote Originally Posted by John Flaherty View Post
    You know, I think I agree with Kim. The word "evil" is just so negative and probably doesn't apply to the individuals who promote grouping expenses together like this to make sure they get certain things passed.
    Thanks, John. I appreciate this compromise for the sake of civility. To call someone who disagrees with "evil" is to discourage debate. In the words of Jeff Baron (in an entirely different context):

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Baron View Post
    I think my ultimate beef is my ... perception of your arrogance. It never seems to be that you could be wrong. It never seems to be that you acknowledge the other side has a point. You are so dogmatic about your beliefs that you have lost sight that your neighbors might not share them.
    Now, I am not going to answer the question of where I come down precisely on Menu v. Single overrides until I have some recognition from Alan that alternate viewpoints are legitimate.

    What I will do is provide an economic argument for why single overrides might make sense. Let's take an oversimplified but not entirely unrealistic example:

    Voted as A Menu Override

    There are three pieces to a proposed override, taken as a menu:
    Part I: for the library, which 42% of voters support, 58% either would prefer cut back or don't support at all
    Part II: for the schools, which 45% of voters support, 55% either would prefer cut back or don't support at all
    Part III: for public safety, which 48% of voters support, 52% either would prefer cut back or don't support at all

    A few people support none of these, but most support at least one of these items, some people support two, and others all three.

    With these distributions, each of these voted separately would fail. We would not pass any override.

    Voted as a Single Override

    However, it turns out that 55% of the voters would have voted for all three items together. (Just using numbers from a recent override vote.) So all three pass. It turns out that these voters so value one or more of the three parts, that even though they might not support all three pieces, they are willing to pay the total amount (or even more) in order to have the ones they do support. To have voted all three down, would make very few people happy (because most people would have wanted at least one item), and in fact we know from the all-or-nothing override that 55% of the people were willing to pay the full amount, only 45% preferring to have all fail.

    Which is the better outcome from the standpoint of maximizing resident happiness? The single override.

    Not extortion, certainly not evil, but economic utility maximization.

    Just saying...

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kim Reichelt View Post

    There are three pieces to a proposed override, taken as a menu:
    Part I: for the library, which 42% of voters support, 58% either would prefer cut back or don't support at all
    Part II: for the schools, which 45% of voters support, 55% either would prefer cut back or don't support at all
    Part III: for public safety, which 48% of voters support, 52% either would prefer cut back or don't support at all

    .... To have voted all three down, would make very few people happy (because most people would have wanted at least one item),
    What am I missing here?
    In each of the 3 examples, a majority did not want each item.
    But you're saying most would want at least one item......?
    John Flaherty

    Any views expressed are NOT mine alone.
    Wayland Transparency - Facts Without Spin
    http://www.waylandtransparency.com/

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    Default Boolean Override Logic

    Quote Originally Posted by Kim Reichelt View Post
    Thanks, John. I appreciate this compromise for the sake of civility. To call someone who disagrees with "evil" is to discourage debate. In the words of Jeff Baron (in an entirely different context):
    Confused, "To call someone who disagrees with 'evil' is to discourage debate"
    I didn't call you evil ... I said YES/NO overrides are evil and thats because of the way they are used.
    Sometimes truth hurts but there you have it.

    Discouraging debate? I'm not one who was taking their toys and going home.
    I said I'm here to be taken to the rug. So far I'm standing.

    Quote Originally Posted by Kim Reichelt View Post
    Now, I am not going to answer the question of where I come down precisely on Menu v. Single overrides until I have some recognition from Alan that alternate viewpoints are legitimate.
    You want me to acknowledge that alternative viewpoints are legitimate?
    Where did I say that alternative viewpoints are not legitimate?
    If I said that YES/NO overrides are evil or become extortive then thats a viewpoint.
    Your supposed to say, NO YES/NO overrides are NOT evil and they NEVER extort... where did I say that its not legitimate to say what you think? I don't need to acknowledge this because its acknowledged when I started the thread and argued this point as far back as 2006 while on the BoS.

    But for you "I HEREBY ACKNOWLEDGE IT"
    So now you promised something... make it happen next.


    Quote Originally Posted by Kim Reichelt View Post
    What I will do is provide an economic argument for why single overrides might make sense. Let's take an oversimplified but not entirely unrealistic example:
    There are three pieces to a proposed override, taken as a menu:
    Part I: for the library, which 42% of voters support, 58% either would prefer cut back or don't support at all
    Part II: for the schools, which 45% of voters support, 55% either would prefer cut back or don't support at all
    Part III: for public safety, which 48% of voters support, 52% either would prefer cut back or don't support at all

    Which is the better outcome from the standpoint of maximizing resident happiness? The single override.

    Not extortion, certainly not evil, but economic utility maximization.

    Just saying...
    In your example you showed that three cohorts of citizens each would have rejected the three items individually and were then forced to spend the whole thing? And you now say they are happy???

    So what you are saying is that enough people would have felt compelled to vote for something they didn't want just to get something they do want... And they are happy? OMG ! You've just proven the extortion hypothesis.. thank you.

    I'm going to expand on your example but in a more clinical fashion.
    There are three items to be voted on A B C.
    The quantum of the vote is 50%.

    A three-way Menu Override:
    A < 50 B < 50 C < 50 No winners
    A < 50 B < 50 C > 50 C wins
    A < 50 B > 50 C < 50 B wins
    A < 50 B > 50 C > 50 B & C wins
    A > 50 B < 50 C < 50 A wins
    A > 50 B < 50 C > 50 A & C wins
    A > 50 B > 50 C < 50 A & B wins
    A > 50 B > 50 C > 50 A & B & C wins

    Notice there are 8 possible outcomes from this contest. Your example Kim only accounted for the first possible outcome.
    Therefore, your example only covered 12.5% of the possible universe of voting outcomes.

    In a real three-way menu override we would have to account for the other 87.5% of the possibilities which you did not account for.

    Now lets compare this to a single YES/NO
    A < 50 B < 50 C < 50 No winners
    A > 50 B > 50 C > 50 A & B & C wins

    The YES/NO only accounts for the first and last possible outcomes and neglects 6/8ths (or 75%) of all the possible outcomes.

    Since the voting public is diverse and has different needs and wants and has different economic situations (since we are ALL individuals) then ONLY a menu override can account for all of the possible permutations of outcome and its the only FAIR, non Extortive way to do it.... by neglecting the other 75% of the possible outcomes then we force people into outcomes that they would not have done if given the choice. They cannot possibly be happy about that. In fact, conversely they are sad because they are now forced to spend more then they can afford or they have been forced to spend on things they don't want.

    Trust me... they are forced. The town has a first lien on their real estate, a lien above the first mortgage. They are forced.

    Now why did I go for the 'E' word again (and no I didn't say Evil)

    Lets say that A stands for Ambulance and
    B stands for Better education and
    C stands for Creative pothole filling

    And B's dollar value is >>>>> then A's or C's dollar value
    Now we get into the subject of what people want and what people can afford.
    You want those A's then you go for those B's
    You want those C's then you go for those B's

    Thats the Extortive method of the tactic. And thats what makes it Evil !

    Now some might say that Menu's are a tactic too... perhaps but they are the fairest tactic since they cover all 100% of the possible permutations of voting outcomes where YES/NO only cover 2 of the voting universe.

    Now Kim, since you were kind enough to come back after my unapologetic usage of the word Evil... I'm going to tell you what the MSBA told me when I asked them why they did NOT want the high school ballot question lumped into any other spending measure.

    They said...

    1. They wanted to make sure that people were not confused as to what they were spending their money on and
    2. They wanted to not be pressured into voting for any other spending while making the decision to spend or not on the high school.

    See Kim, the fact is that when its important; the state; the MSBA knew how to do it.

    NO MENU - NO OVERRIDE

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    Quote Originally Posted by John Flaherty View Post
    What am I missing here?
    In each of the 3 examples, a majority did not want each item.
    But you're saying most would want at least one item......?
    John, in my example, the total of the three votes is 135%, so the math does work out such that the average voter supports 1.35 of the 3 items.

    At one extreme, we could have 3% that support Public Safety and the Schools (but not the library), 3% that support only Public Safety, and 42% that support all three. That would work out to 42% library, 45% schools, 48% public safety. At this extreme, 42% support 3 items, 3% support 2 items, 3% support 1 item and 52% support none of the items. (The average of this would be (.42*3 + .03*2 + .03 * 1)/1 = 1.35

    At the other extreme, we could have very little overlap. We could have parents plus a few seniors supporting the schools, we could have seniors plus a few parents supporting public safety, and we could have younger adults plus a few parents and few seniors supporting the library. In this example, if young adults, parents and seniors are the whole population of the town (all this is simplified, yes), then everybody is supporting something, and some people are supporting more than one thing, and nobody supports nothing.

    You can draw a few Venn diagrams to see this and play around with the possibilities.

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    I see. The math does work out.

    It works out in such a way as to push items through that actually have a minority of people voting for them.
    You just said that.

    Well, it's a clever way to circumvent democracy, I suppose. I'll grant you that.

    But I still believe that it is not in the best interests of "the people" to force them into voting for something that they don't actually want, but that someones else does.

    It really IS a form of extortion then, isn't it?
    John Flaherty

    Any views expressed are NOT mine alone.
    Wayland Transparency - Facts Without Spin
    http://www.waylandtransparency.com/

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