Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Mayor backs plaza bill


Cuyahoga Falls Mayor Don Robart wants City Council to help him make good on his pledge to do something about State Road Plaza. The mayor is backing legislation introduced Monday to change the definition of a blighted parcel to include commercial structures that have been 75 percent vacant for at least six months, or 50 percent vacant for at least one year.

Source: Mayor backs plaza bill
Originally published on Tue, 28 Nov 2006 08:01:00 GMT

Now let me say, the State Road Plaza is in bad shape. I'll be the first to agree. They recently evicted a tenant who was $300 short for one month's rent after talking to the news about how it was to be a tenant. Keep in mind this place is at least 50% empty as it stands right now, and I given it how empty the place has been I don't see them filling up any time soon. 

However I hate to see government pass legislation that is clearly aimed at one person or business. This legislation may make sense in the long run, however I see a big court battle ahead if this passes and they go after this plaza.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006


Of course tonight was election night here in America. I do enjoy being able to at least have a little say in who will represent me, although I do hate the process. Before I get to far, let me say that any process is not perfect, and all have their problems. Here is my experiences.


First off there were were 4 precints at my polling place. The parking lot was not large enough to accomodate the number of people. The basement was not large enough to accomodate all the people and the new equipment. Fortunately I got right through, however all the other places were backed up.


First off I have never been a fan of how Ohio takes away my secret ballot. They put the number of the ballot next to where I sign. That ties the ballot to my name, which means you can figure out how I voted, which takes away my secret ballot.


Next I was not asked for an ID. This is the law in Ohio, and the table right next to mine they were checking IDs. Not that I think this is a great way to stop voter fraud, but it is the law. I expect it to be applied equally.


Here in Summit County, we use a scanner that scans a paper ballot right there. In fact I feed it in (with the poll worker watching, seeing how I voted). No apparent problems for that, although I am not sure if everything was read correctly. BTW I was #473 for that machine.


I love our system, although the implimentation can use some work. In a book by Marian Williamson, and I wish I could remember the name, she had suggested making the election "day" several days, moving it to a weekend, or making the day a national holiday to get more people to turn out. A step in the right direction. Here are some of mine:


I like how Ohio now has a "no excuse" reason to get an absentee ballot. That would relieve some of the pressure on overworked and over-extended polling workers/location.


As a programmer, I know that any system that can be touched by humans can also be manipulated by them. Keep in mind you only need a large magnet to wipe a memory card to screw up an election. Or even just a hammer. Getting the internet involved only makes the problems worse. Throwing technology at the problem is not necessarily the answer. There are various levels of "acceptable risk" that software goes through. The most mission critical software & hardware require extensive testing, years of work, and cost a ton of money. You can bet no voting system goes through that kind of rigor. It should, but no one will pay for the resulting system. The other problem is the people who usually work the polls are not exactly tech savy.


I like the paper ballots we used here, although I feel I might as well be yelling my votes from a mountain top with a megaphone. Filling out a huge piece of paper, handing my ballot around, putting the ballot number next to my signature. Ummmm.....what about a secret ballot?


I also feel that no one should be allowed to be handing out any policitical material with 1 mile of a polling place. I was in my way in and the Democrats wanted to give me a cheat sheet on how to vote. Thanks, but I don't always vote Democrat.


One other pet peeve - could we please allow an independant to vote issues only at a primary? Neither party truly represents my views, and in either case I believe in keeping a balance so I usually vote for 1 of each. The only reason I am a Democrat is so I can vote on issues during primary time.


Also, I think that leaving political messages on my answering machine should be punishable by taking a cattle prod to candidate's (or who ever's idea this was) dangly bits. A 30-60 second message is not going to get me to change my view on anything. Let me correct that - you may have just pushed me to vote against you.


Lastly, I would like all election night coverage to stop. Truth be told, no one can make any prediction based on 5% returns, even 50% returns. I don't want to hear about problems at the polls, which would cause people to not turn out. The only thing that should be reported election night is if some polls are staying open late. Outside of that, any coverage is a waste of time and effort. I can read about it the next day when everything is final.


No system is perfect. There is no perfect, it is a process that can always be improved. I think though there are a lot of things that can be done to help make it easier that do not require much thought or effort.

Even more fun with voting machines

Mac noted a problem with her voting machines - the final button to push is rather low, resulting in people not getting their vote counted. I also noted the "To Vote Straight Ticket Press Here" button, which I feel is a very bad idea.

More on my views of elections later, after I vote today.

Now coming to a library near you - Netflix

Hacking Netflix had an interesting post last week about how Palo Alto Library was considering outsourcing DVD rentals to Netflix. They ask "...should libraries be renting movies in the first place?"

The resulting comments were interesting (I recommend reading them). Many things were brought up - The need to stock hard to find movies is not needed because Netflix has everything. Netflix can keep good working copies of movies. One of the biggest points being made that with so much available to stream online, and the quality of various media, why bother with movies, CDs, and to a point even books & magazines?

There was one point not made though. Not everyone has a computer and/or internet at home. You maybe have a DVD player, say from a friend, but no money to join Netflix or even rent from a local brick & morter place.

Many years ago the first VHS machine our family got was from a friend who got a new machine with a remote (yes, that long ago) and they were going to throw out their old machine. Truth was we did not have the money at the time to rent videos so we went to the library and borrowed theirs.

Would I support my library going to Netflix for DVD rentals? Sure. Would I dump my current Netflix membership? Probably not. My guess is that any library would have a 1 or 2 out at a time plan. At this time I am not looking to downgrade my plan. Now if I could get them to pay for my 3 at a time plan...