Thursday, January 26, 2012


I am that. Angry.

About what? The library. Or, not so much the library, but about the (perhaps) end result of town democracy being a rigged election. Let me explain...

I've posted here before about my hometown's trials and tribulations with getting a new library. The really quick version: We need a new library.

Old one is terrific, but it's tiny. Tiny. Tiny. No running water. No real toilet. No place to sit.

Town applies for a grant from the MA state. Gets it. 2.5 million $ to build a new library. That's based on a library that would cost another million and a bit to build. The difference needs to be paid through taxes over twenty-some years.

Various votes for this go well, up until the last one. Suddenly, NO voters appear. They win.

YES voters say "Whoa! The NO people fed voters a ton of last minute misinformation. We need to revote." The Town Council grudgingly (barely) agrees.

Next vote happens a few weeks later. The results. 522 YES - 522 NO. Tie. A tie means that the measure fails.

No new library. But...

There is one ballot deemed provisional. Needs to be looked at. And there are eight ballots that were disputed - someone claiming the voter wasn't eligible to vote.

A few days pass. The authorities meet and agree that the provisional voter is eligible to vote. So...

Vote is 523 YES - 522 NO. Library will go!

Err... Well, no.

The NO voters request a recount. Fine. Let's count up the votes again. This means two things. One, that the registrars decide about the eight contested voters. Two, they then recount all the ballots.

Sounds good, yes? I mean, fuck, I want the library, but if we lose the vote I'll accept it.

And then the recount happens. Kinda...

Again, short version.

One YES voter is deemed invalid. Two NO voters are deemed valid. Problem is that both have a very similar situation, enough so that if the YES voter is invalid the NO voter also is. That would mean that the library is a GO! By a couple of votes!

But... ah... the vote count was rigged. Those two NO voters? They're way less eligible than the YES voter that the registrars got rid of. Oh, and yes, the registrars are on the record as being against the library. They've clearly used their authority to get the vote they wanted.

That pisses me off.

I vote for... lawsuit.

If you have some strange interest in the ineligible voters you can read more here.


Blogger Dan said...

You will never hear me say that sports programs at schools aren't as important as arts programs. But we all know what would happen if this was a vote for a new stadium for the local high school football team. Unbelievable that this can become a political issue. How can any city be happy with an inadequate library system?

9:04 PM  
Blogger David Anthony Durham said...

It's complicated in our case. The area I live in is a book-loving place. We still have several surviving independent bookstores, and some lovely used bookstores as well. It's a generally liberal population, with a high number of college degrees. Should be pretty good territory for library support.

I have to admit that I don't quite understand the resistance. I get it that there is a core of people that don't use the library and so don't want to pay for it. I get it that there's a core of people that think the library isn't really a place for them, so they damn sure don't want to pay for it. I get that there's a contingent of environmentalists that object to building new stuff in general...

What I don't get is how those groups add up to 50% of the population. Honestly, Dan, I would think with our population that a new stadium would face a lot of resistance. I thought the library was a pretty safe bet.

I was wrong.

4:42 AM  

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