There’s talk on the presidential election trail about whether the upcoming fall elections could be rigged to favor one outcome or another. It’s perhaps tempting to dismiss this as conspiracy theory talk by election losers-in-waiting, and maybe that’s all it is. But as someone who’s been following the transition to electronic voting systems and the challenges and potential liabilities they represent in maintaining the integrity of elections (see here and here) I thought it would be worth looking into the “riggability” of elections, at least at the local level here in Wayne County.
I checked in with Wayne County Clerk Debra Berry, who was very helpful in providing some information about our voting equipment and process beyond what’s available on the County’s voter information website. She clarified that we’re using the Hart InterCivic voting machines, which are used by hundreds of jurisdictions nationwide.
I asked about the specific modules and firmware versions we’re using on these machines, which could be helpful to anyone wanting to make sure we’re up to date with vendor provided improvements that address any known security issues:
Continue reading Rigging elections in Wayne County?
A local student writing a research paper recently asked me a series of questions about my life here, including “why did you stay in Richmond?”
It’s a good question that I’ve been asked many times over the years. It’s a question I come back to periodically as I evaluate what I want in life and where I want to be. It’s a question I’ve watched friends and coworkers wrestle with. It’s a question that speaks to all who think about the future of this community.
I came to Richmond to attend Earlham College, and originally had no intention of sticking around any longer than necessary to complete my degree. The Earlham of that time did not do a good job of highlighting the city’s treasures for new students arriving on campus; many students and even some faculty spoke of it with disdain, a surrounding environment to be tolerated and endured instead of appreciated or enjoyed. As graduation day approached my peers and close friends made preparations to move; very few would even consider the possibility of staying in Richmond. The momentum all around me was to launch oneself away from this place.
But for most of my senior year I had chosen to live off campus, in a rental house on South 4th street in the historic Old Richmond district. It was the perfect distance between campus, where I had a few classes to finish, and the downtown area, where the offices of my startup technology company were located. I could walk to both, and on those walks I began to see a different community than the one I’d only occasionally dropped in to for the previous three years. I began to see a community that was more than the stereotypes passed around the campus community: A place that used to be. A manufacturing hub that hadn’t caught up to globalization. Rednecks and racists. Boring and flat. Nothing to do. Nothing to see here.
Continue reading Why did I stay in Richmond?
You may know that veteran Palladium-Item reporter Bill Engle retired from his position at the newspaper near the end of 2015. If you followed and appreciated his journalistic endeavors as much as I did over the years, you’ll agree that this was a real loss for local media coverage.
Happily, Bill has started his own site where he’s once again writing about news, events and issues in the Richmond community. You can check it out at BillEngle.com, leave a comment, share a post, and subscribe for email updates.
Thanks, Bill, for sharing your perspective with us in this new way.
From today’s Pal-Item, local leaders are willing to try something different when it comes to helping people addicted to drugs.
We’re used to a lot of the rhetoric about drugs, drug addiction and related problems being focused on locking people up and getting them out of sight. The “war on drugs” has traditionally meant “get those people off our streets and out of our communities.” But many of “those people” are part of our community. They need help, and apart from some of the most violent offenders sending them to jail doesn’t usually help in changing the underlying environment in which drug sales and addiction have flourished.
So it’s refreshing to see statements that bring a little more nuance to the situation.
Continue reading Trying something different
Former Richmond Mayor Sally Hutton died yesterday.
I followed Mayor Hutton’s political career since arriving in Richmond. It always struck me how accessible, genuine and forward-thinking she was in her approach to community-building and city governance.
It felt like her door was literally always open – whether it be her office at the City Building, her house or wherever she found herself around town. Whatever she was working on, she seemed to keep the needs of Richmond’s everyday worker, resident and small business owner at the center of her perspective. Mayor Hutton was of the people, by the people and for the people in a way we rarely see with modern elected officials.
Continue reading Thank you, Sally
The City of Richmond needs to hire a Director of Information Technology. The position description is here, applications go to firstname.lastname@example.org as noted here.
The person in this role will have some great opportunities to help shape how local government uses technology tools to be more efficient and effective. Yes, there are some things about the current infrastructure to clean up and no, IT in the public sector is probably not going to be as lucrative as it might be in the private sector. But it’s important work in the service of a city that can get caught up and then get ahead, and for a Mayor who has a strong appreciation for good technology management and its importance to running the City well.
I hope you’ll share the position opening with qualified IT professionals that you know, and help us get the right person in the job.