The Flathead Valley’s Leading Independent Journal of Observation, Analysis, & Opinion. © James R. Conner.


20 June 2012

Jay’s recount, Paula’s experiment, free speech & Whitefish, GOP stink

Scott likely to lose recount. Jay Scott, 30 votes behind Gary Krueger after the official canvass, asked for a recount. I’m not surprised — a lot of second place finishers request recounts in very close elections; it’s how human nature operates — but I’d be very surprised if Scott wins the recount. Unless Flathead Clerk and Recorder Paula Robinson’s counting machines had an appallingly high error rate, say one in one hundred, and/or dozens of ballots were marked for Scott in a way that fooled the machines but would be clear to the eye, Scott probably has less than one chance in a thousand of winning according to my latest back-of-the-envelope calculations.


Do the experiment right, Paula. In a related matter, reports the InterLake, Robinson plans to conduct an experiment to determine the effect of ballots staying folded for weeks before being run through the counting machine. I urge both caution and a consultation with a professional statistician. If the effect is very small, say one in a thousand, many thousands of ballots, each marked as a voter would mark them, which means marking them by hand, each run through the machine only once, must be run through a sampling of machines to have any hope of obtaining a quantifiable result. That’s a lot of work, and not inexpensive. I’d do a literature search first.


Whitefish may soil First Amendment. Whitefish’s planning board will take public comment Thursday night on a proposal to tighten durational limits on political signs. The planners behind the proposal are playing with constitutional fire. Duration limits on political signs are content based, and therefore unconstitutional, limits on free speech. The key Supreme Court decision is City of Ladue v. Gilleo. A federal district court case citing Gilleo, Curry v. Prince Georges County, should also be required reading for everyone in Whitefish.

In Kalispell, in 2003, an elected official became outraged when a city council candidate, Bob Herron (the same Bob Herron who just ran for county commissioner), ignored the city’s durational limit on political yard signs. I wrote at the time that Gilleo and Curry “…will be cited by Bob Herron if he is forced to sue to keep his campaign signs in public view — and if he sues, he will win.”

Besides, what’s not to love about political yard signs? Democracy in action is much prettier than house for sale signs.


Lowbrow Republicans raise high stink. If you thought the election was headed to the toilet, you received proof outside the Montana Republican Convention in Missoula last weekend. Someone parked his Obama Outhouse outside the convention hall. It was moved across the street after GOP leaders leaped into damage control mode, but by then the convention had been stunk up. The Washington Post’s Dana Milbank mentioned it yesterday, and one can only imagine what Letterman, et al, did with it.

What struck me most, though, was the report that the privy’s bullet holes were painted on, not shot through. Perhaps the builder’s pistol was too well concealed for him to find it in time to plug the plywood. Perhaps. It could also be that these supposedly stalwart supporters of the Second Amendment are actually paintball sissies who faint at the first whiff of gunsmoke.