Thursday, May 27, 2010

OpenSourceDem on a Harris County elections administrator

Occasional contributor OpenSourceDem is responding to this post of mine.

When you realize that Sir Thomas More was pretty much a creep (before becoming a Saint on a legal technicality), you may not be in favor of a “utopian ... non-partisan, unelected official” running elections.

Um, that would be like the county jails, toll roads, sports stadiums, and drainage ditches.  Think about it!

Here is a practical alternative to an Elections Administrator who would be accountable to ... nobody:

Diane Trautman is Tax Assessor-Collector and focuses on tax matters, countering the endless, high-pitched whine from Dan Patrick and Paul Bettencourt, who are both still on the air. Here’s a clue: “Uniform taxation of real property ad valorem” is progressive, popular, and very, very constitutional. And here’s another clue: To do that the Tax Office needs to manage the property records efficiently and impose a “stamp tax”, not to raise revenue so much as to force disclosure of transaction prices.

Ann Harris Bennett is County Clerk and manages elections, including voter registration and history records, responsibly.

Loren Jackson manages the Jury Wheel and provides for the security of personal identity and integrity of property data across all county and state database systems that now, by design, expose Harris County citizens to criminal identity theft, discriminatory pricing, disenfranchisement, and official oppression.

All of the government data and meta-data -- save for keys and valuable or derogatory personal information that is not necessarily or legitimately in the public domain -- should be open and well documented publicly and professionally. To assure this, database and tabulation technology should fall under the routine auspices of a non-partisan and technically proficient county Testing and Audit Board, as well as subject to periodic involvement of non-partisan election officials and workers.

This is not utopian. It is very practical and basically how things worked when Houston was a “bi-racial city in which the rule of white, male (lawyers) was taken for granted”.  That is a quotation from Steven Klineberg from Tuesday night's Brown Bag ... well, except for the lawyer part.  What has happened since then is that as Houston and Harris County have become more “diverse” racially, the white, male (lawyers) have retreated behind legalism, bureaucracy, and police-powers to maintain their control and privileges by replacing pervasively crude, racial discrimination throughout local government and commerce with even more pervasively sophisticated, computer-mediated, economic discrimination throughout local government and commerce.

The result is right-wing and left-wing intellectuals arguing over the literary heritage of Ayn Rand while white, male (lawyers) extract more monopoly rent from government concessions and share it among themselves. What we have here today is one political establishment (bi-partisan!) and a criminal financial superstructure together with a criminal underground economy made palatable by bread, circuses, cute puppies, and mumbo jumbo for a majority-minority middle-class of working families.

Net, net: this gets us a lot of elections and not many voters -- the highest incarceration and lowest political participation rates of cities in our league. It does not get us to republican democracy by any stretch of definitions or imagination.

You can stay in Utopia, but I’m going to Texas!

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