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DO NOT Try This at Home

A brilliant, tough cop, Oakland Police Department Chief Anthony Batts, is about to abandon Oakland for a better city (pick one).

[For more details, see these two stories in the San Francisco Chronicle: < > and


This follows a disastrous patch during which:

(a) Chronic municipal mismanagement led to a fiscal crash that robbed Oakland voters of the 800 police staffing level they had voted to fund (police staffing now down to 657 when even the high water mark 800 officer level was low, given the resident parolee population).

(b) Oakland’s new mayor, in an attempt to improve plummeting police morale, met with line officers in a group, asking them to recite why they liked doing police work, then left the meeting.  “On her first full day on the job, Quan tried to mend fences by meeting with the rank-and-file cops at roll call. The move fell flat with many officers, however, when – after giving a short talk and asking all the officers to introduce themselves and state why they wanted to be on the force – Quan left without taking questions.”
San Francisco Chronicle: < >

Chief Batts had briefly been able to do more with less, but now the “doing much less with much less pattern” will take hold.

The Mayor elect is an obscure former councilwoman named Jean Quan (notable, according to former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown for having advocated “ebonics’ in an earlier era of lunacy). See Jean Quan off to rocky start as Oakland mayor by Chip Johnson, in the San Francisco Chronicle

Ms. Quan won the office against a much stronger, more centrist (and much more pro-law & order candidate), Don Perata, even thought Quan got only 24% of the vote.  This victory was accomplished by a form of vote manipulation that has its roots in the Bolshevik vs Menshevik dustup in Russia that subverted parliamentary democracy and ushered in the dictatorship of the proletariat.  The scheme avoids runoff elections and the concomitant actual majorities that they produce by a system of “instant runoff’ voter ranking.  The system (sometimes called plurality voting) has the pernicious practical effect of artificially amplifying the negative over the positive to the effect that the angry left (in this instance) slips into power against the sensible center, with a tiny plurality.

Not to put too fine of a point on it:  Ranked voting is a dangerous innovation fully capable of subverting the will of the majority.

Across the bay, San Francisco (where this voting scheme was first hatched in California), has just moved from the irresponsible left to the responsible center.

“…veteran city administrator Ed Lee… will be the city’s first Asian American mayor. …

Popular police Chief George Gascón switches jobs to become district attorney, the first Latino to serve as top prosecutor. He has the skills and cool temperament to take on his new job…The city’s shift to the center is already under way.” [ < > ]

By virtue of just two interim appointments, the City by the Bay could move to the political center for the first time in decades.  Mr. Lee, a practical centrist, is the interim mayor, and Mr. Gascón, a tough, law and order guy, a popular police chief/lawyer, is the interim DA.  But both of these excellent candidates will face the same ranked preference elections, and could well be jettisoned in favor or minority leftwing candidates. [In San Francisco politics every other candidate will be to the left of these two.]   If that happens, the sane, center majority will have been disenfranchised…once more.

“Jim Stearns, a political consultant who’s running Henderson’s campaign, said Gascón ‘could be the big loser of ranked-choice voting.’”
Read more:

Ranked voting is a poison pill that is designed to entrench vestiges of the has-beens (in this instance the left) in power against a reformist trend (in this case the practical center).  See my 2010 post, Quantum Vote Stealing at < > .]

The fallacy of ranked choice is that voters are fully focused on second and third tier candidates and actually think through whether they (say, by ranking Ms. Quan and their second of third choice) seriously want that person to serve as their ultimate one.  Most protest votes are just that, and when a protest candidate slips through, disaster almost always follows.

Key executive positions should always require a traditional definitive choice in which a majority of the to-be-governed voters have actually chosen their leader.  Ranked voting (sometimes called plurality voting) is a bad, bad idea whose time seems to have come.

Do not try this at home.


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