issmat 
Member since Jan 22, 2009

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I love Halifax and I am a public advocate for its progress and growth. My work is in the field of international marketing, trade, and… More »

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Re: “Was Halifax‚Äôs e-vote hacked?

A negative proof is a logical fallacy which takes the structure of:
"X is true because there is no proof that X is false." - rationalwiki.org

If you're saying that online votes were tampered with because no one can show you proof that they weren't, then you're setting up a non-winnable argument.

The reason you're not getting answers you'll accept isn't because there's some great conspiracy to steal the election. It's because there is no answer that exists that will satisfy your predisposition against online voting. The litmus test you've set up for online voting to pass your transparency threshold will fail if applied to paper ballots as well.

24 likes, 1 dislike
Posted by issmat on 06/27/2013 at 4:12 PM

Re: “Dear Mayor Savage

You're right, Joeblow, that is a fourth possible reason.

My thoughts on this are:

a) If the stipend is defensible and above-board, why should he disclose it to the public before votes are cast?

b) Keeping some things confidential isn't by definition a 'bad thing' or a betrayal of trust if they are legitimate. Sharing may be a nice thing to do, but it would have given fodder to his opponents, regardless of how legitimate or defensible the stipend is.

So, we're back to the same questions: are critics upset because they disagree with the concept or amount of a stipend, or are they upset because they didn't get the chance to use this information against Savage before the election?

Personally, I think insinuating that Savage, as a Mayor, will lie, cheat and steal because Savage, as a candidate, didn't share info about his (totally defensible) personal stipend is an unfair and hyperbolic extrapolation.

8 likes, 8 dislikes
Posted by issmat on 11/08/2012 at 6:11 PM

Re: “Dear Mayor Savage

Bundy: If I understand you correctly, your issue is with the amount he withdrew and not with the idea that candidates should be allowed to draw an income from donations, correct?

Let's say, hypothetically, that Savage did draw only $3,300 (a third of his pre-campaign salary, before tax) each month since the beginning of his campaign in February, and disclosed it from the start. Would you have been ok with the amount?

3 likes, 7 dislikes
Posted by issmat on 11/08/2012 at 4:10 PM

Re: “Dear Mayor Savage

*Correction*

The monthly equivalent, noted in my previous comment, of what Savage drew reflects an annual salary of $40k, not $60k.

To compare, $3,300 per month amounts to roughly 35% of Savage's actual salary in the private sector, before tax. It amounts to less then 30% of the Mayor's current monthly salary.

Is it fair? I guess that depends on the observer's point of view. i don't think there is a current scale that exists to allow anyone to give an objective opinion about what is "fair", what is "less fair" or "more than fair".

5 likes, 6 dislikes
Posted by issmat on 11/08/2012 at 1:12 PM

Re: “Dear Mayor Savage

The rule allowing candidates to pay themselves out of campaign contributions ensures that individuals who aren't wealthy can have a fair shot at political office if they choose to run.

Mounting a serious campaign is a full-time endeavour. For aspiring candidates who, like most tax payers, mainly live paycheque to paycheque, being able to rely on campaign contributions to supplement their income while they run for office can make the difference between winning or losing. More importantly, it determines whether they'll decide to run for office in the first place.

Taking away the ability to use a portion of campaign donations to supplement personal income hurts democracy. It restricts the pool of candidates to those who are independently wealthy and can afford to campaign for nearly a year without employment income or government assistance, which perpetuates the concentration of power in a particular social group.

If the above makes sense to most people, then the issue with Mike Savage isn't the "ethics" of using campaign donations to supplement a candidate's income. The issue seems to be with people's perception of the dollar amount he withdrew. Critics feel it's too high, though I have a feeling that even if he withdrew a quarter of that amount they'll still think it was inappropriate. Most of those critics probably didn't vote for Savage and wouldn't have voted for him even if he didn't withdraw a single dollar.

For those who want a bit of context about the dollar amount, consider that Savage withdrew a total stipend of $30,000 a couple of months before election day. He was allowed and able to withdraw a regular income supplement from day 1 of his campaign. So, taking out a lump sum vs. regular monthly payments is a matter of semantics and budgeting - which isn't where the ethical question is.

To have an idea of what $30k amounts to over the life of the campaign, divide the $30k against the number of months since he left his job and launched his campaign (nearly 9 months), the stipend amounts to about $3,300 a month before tax. This is the equivalent of an annual salary of approx. $60,000. The median household income in Halifax is around $75k (bitly.com/Uo3cFd).

If this was any other Joe Blow candidate who was the sole breadwinner in his/her household, making less than average wage in Halifax, and who managed to somehow attract enough public donations to afford drawing an income to pay the bills while running for office, I doubt that Savage critics will feel the same sense of betrayal.

That leads us to a legitimate question: what exactly are critics not happy about:

1) That candidates (generally) are able to supplement their income from campaign donations?

2) That the actual amount appears to be too high (compared to...?)

3) That the person who did this is Mike Savage, and critics have issues with him or his politics as an individual as opposed to having issues with the income-from-donations practice as a whole.

I think questions 1 and 2 can create good debate, but arguing about the third question is an exercise in futility at this point.

10 likes, 13 dislikes
Posted by issmat on 11/08/2012 at 12:59 PM

Re: “Electronic vote verification was inappropriately delayed: E-voting expert

HRM, not Scytl, are responsible for deciding when the system for voter verification should be available to voters. And so, according to the statements of Mellet (HRM) and Cutchlow (Scytl) in this article, Scytl waited until they received the go ahead from Mellet. To a neutral observer, this issue is not a failure in the performance of Scytl or its software.

Mr. Smith's company may very well have a great e-voting system, but they grossly over-bid for the contract and lost to a larger and more experienced company. Scytl's bid offered better value for HRM tax payers in terms of quality and price, though perhaps not better value for tax payers who define value as "buy local at any price".

8 likes, 7 dislikes
Posted by issmat on 10/24/2012 at 11:33 AM

Re: “Halifax council OKs convention centre deal

"Is there a price beyond which you would change your mind and not support the CC deal?"

Yes. That price is not a specific number. It would be the price point beyond which the city can't afford to do it, given how much money it is willing to allocate to having a new CC compared to other expenditure priorities - those priorities being set (or at least informed) by the electorate.

Fortunately, we're not discussing some hypothetical situation here about an unknown number that's yet to be debated. We're discussing something with a price that is known, and its affordability has already been debated and determined.

The current price may be too much for some, but it's fine for many - as displayed by council's majority vote.

Why do you insist on suggesting scenarios that contemplate an alternate reality (where the price is $500m or $1 billion), and then argue against those made-up scenarios? All that matters is the actual scenario - the actual price. And that price has been determined, by the majority, to not be "too much".

5 likes, 2 dislikes
Posted by issmat on 07/15/2012 at 4:29 PM

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Re: “Minato Sushi Japanese Restaurant

I've only been there in the summer, and enjoyed the kimchi and bee bim bap. The second time I went the Kimchi wasn't very good.

Are they the only restaurant in town that offers Korean food?

Posted by issmat on 01/28/2009 at 2:32 PM

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