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What is it about this world that we feel the need to connect with other humans in any way we can.  Electronic media makes it possible for us to pretend to connect to one another, but then why is it so hard to deal with each other face to face? I crave the satisfaction of visiting with my friends in person, of seeing them, talking to them, flirting with them... but somehow it is so difficult to open up to them face to face.  Why is that? shouldn't we feel more closely tied to those we see everyday? to those we talk to and do things with?  Why is it easier to share our deepest, most intimate thoughts via electronic medias? because it's more anonymous, perhaps? but then the sharing has not brought us more intimacy.  Just pretend intimacy.  Why is it so hard to be truly intimate on a personal, face to face level?

Is This Thing On? tap, tap, tap....

I was recently on twitter and having a conversation with someone who was a declared Barb Higgins supporter.  I admit to having been a Nenshi supporter since I first heard him speak about his initial 3 Better Ideas at a wine and cheese reception downtown.  I liked his concept of changing City Hall from a regulator of small business to a facillitator of business.  It appealed to me as I am just such a business owner having had permitting and licencing headaches for no other reason than City Hall ineptitude. 

So I am always curious as to why others choose to support other candidates and when this Higgins supporter showed up at #yycvote, I threw out a general inquiry asking why people were supporting their chosen candidate.  There was a reasoned discussion going on (if you discount the divisive and inflammatory comments from the hawkesworth supporter) and when it was time for the Higgins supporter to head to bed, they suggested I read through Barb's platform and we could continue the discussion the next day. 

Being a reasonable person and truly curious, I took them up on that offer.  I do, after all, like Barb Higgins.  Who among us could say we don't really like her?  And I would love to be able to vote for her because she is a woman... but when it comes to being mayor, regardless of gender, or race, I still have to vote for the best person for the job.   Ok, Barb, I thought, prove to me you are the best person for the job....  I did go to Barb's website and looked through everything. I read her policy book from cover to cover (so to speak!) and really looked at it with an open mind. 

She does have some nice, warm fuzzy things to say about what she would do as mayor, but where are the concrete plans to back it all up? She talks about meeting with committees and looking into things and learning about what needs to be done.  It all sounds good, but what it sounds like to me, is that she is still at the ' I have to figure out what needs to be done' stage.... She would be a fantastic Ambassador for Calgary... she clearly loves our city.  But what I was left with after reading through her policy book was a sense that she hasn't given much deep thought to what the actual job as mayor entails.  She has not come up with any workable solutions to the problems which need to be addressed straight away.  Barb does not seem to already have an idea what it is she is going to do exactly to make the city better.  She wants to conference and discuss and find out what needs to be done...  which would be fine if what we needed was an Ambassador.  I need a Mayor.  A good Mayor.  One who can hit the ground running.  One who can start to clean up the mess left behind by current council.  I don't see that in Barb Higgins. 

I cannot vote for anyone who is currently on city council running for Mayor, either.  Ric McIvor is clearly in the back pocket of the developers and builders (they were the names which kept repeating on his donor list ~ see my last blog on donor list revelations).  Current city council members were unable to show any decent leadership with their deadlocked 8-7 votes the last 3 years.  Plus how do you let every single project run over budget?  Every single one? Really? I could go on, but I am not in the mood for an out and out rant....
Suffice it to say that Ric does not represent for me, any sort of change.  I see someone who would maintain the status quo and really, with the way he released his donor list (can't see the forest for the trees...)   I am afraid his administration would be the kind to bury us in detail in order to hide what it is we are better off not knowing.  I do not trust him.  I do not trust him in the least.

So yesterday, when the advance polls opened, I went over to St.Maria Goretti School and cast my ballot.  I voted for Nenshi because I am ready for a change.  I want a Mayor who understands what the problems in City Hall are and one who has given much thought to how we can solve them.  I want a Mayor with experience on a world stage and one who is still in touch with the average citizen like me.   This election we can change things by voting for Nenshi.  We can decide that we want a leader who is educated, thoughful and not afraid to ask hard questions.  We can decide that we want a leader who will inspire us and one who isn't afraid to get his hands dirty, working in the trenches with the rest of us.  With each vote for Nenshi we can decide we want a better, safer Calgary for our children,  and a City Hall which encourages us to do business and keep it here in Calgary.  With each vote for Nenshi our voices can be heard!

Make sure your voice is heard! Go VOTE!
Advance polls are open now! Voting day is October 18th.

~Treycee Cox

Donor List Revelations -Calgary 2010

Speaking as someone who was regularly a "dis-engaged" voter until recently, I have been trying to wade through all the information and policy platforms and go to forums and ask questions; all in an effort to make an 'informed' vote this election.   In years past, I have felt unheard, unimportant, and unempowered - everything was going to stay the same anyway - my vote counted for nothing. This election feels different. Things could change.  This election, my vote may count for something.  This election I feel like my voice at the polling booth will make a difference, and I know I am not alone in feeling this way.

The amount of information available to me is overwhelming.  Websites, YouTube video, Facebook, news reports, forums, and festival appearances are all ways I have been able to connect with and learn about the candidates.  But I wonder if anyone else sees the importance of the way the mayoralty candidates released their donor lists to us as a way to sift through and identify who they are and what kind of mayor they will become for Calgary?

Let me explain:

The first current mayoralty candidate out the gate to release his donor list was Naheed Nenshi.  His list is extremely easy to look at and it answers my two questions clearly and efficiently.  I want to know who the big money support is (donations in the $2,500- $5,000 range) and I want to know where the majority of his donors are (which segment of donors is giving the most support).  With Nenshi, in a few moments I could see he has 20 donors in the big money support ($2,500- $5,000) and a massive list of names in the $100 and Under category.  (I stopped counting at 250ish).   So in a few minutes, I clearly see that his motivation and support is coming from people like you and me, and NOT from big developer companies, or those who are out of touch with what the average joe cares about.   Nenshi's list is easy to read and within seconds I knew what I wanted to see.  It doesn't matter to me if someone gave $12 or $88.  It matters to me if someone gave under $100 or over $2,500.  That's what I look for and that's what this donor list provided for me. 

What this list tells me is that Nenshi is serious about being accountable and transparent to me, the voter.  The way he released his list and organized the information for me, tells me that he wants to make it easy for me to understand it and he gets what it is I want to know.  At a glance I am finished and I go away satisfied.  

The next mayoralty candidate to release his list was Ric McIvor. His list is about 1,200 entries long.  Organized chronologically, his donor list goes back to 2007.   Upon more careful inspection, I start to see the same names show up over and over and over and these repeat names are giving large amounts of money ($2,500 to $5,000 each).  Most are builders and development companies! I want to know how much these companies and these people gave altogether, but to try and figure that out was hurting my brain after staring at the list for over half an hour.  I do not want to spend a great amount of time figuring this out. I have better things to do. 

What this tells me is that although he released his donor list, he is not serious about making the information readily understandable.  He released the list due to pressure from Nenshi, I suspect.  The feeling I got when trying to pick through his massive list of repeat donors, was that he was making it impossible for me to see the forest for the trees... he gave me so many bloody trees!  Can I tell at a glance who his big money donors are? No.  Can I answer my questions about his donor list in under 5 minutes? No.  This list should go on FailBlog as he missed the mark with this one.  You and I, as average voters, need to have some sort of secret software to figure out the answers... the information is not organized for me in a way that is relevant to what I need to know.  I feel like he was trying to bury the truth under a whole pile of detail... and although I am still wondering what it is he is trying to hide, I just don't have the patience or the time to try and sift through his 1,200 entry list to discover it.  Is that what he's going to be like as a mayor too?  I don't want that.  So far Nenshi is head and shoulders above when it comes to donor list revelations.

So then we come to Barb Higgins and Wayne Stewart.  Both of these candidates, on camera, were seen to be bristling when initially asked if they would reveal their lists.  Certainly not until after the election, they both said.  But then Barb Higgins caved and released her  list of donors, arranged alphabetically.  Alphabetically? Are you serious?  So the names are there, and the amounts are scattered throughout the list and again I am left to sift on my own to figure out where the big money is coming from.  A trend starts to form, and I realize that the majority of her donors are big money names, giving in the $2,500 to $5,000 range.  Only a few donors gave under $100.  I was disappointed.  I used to love watching Barb on the news, and I'm sure she's a lovely person, but I don't understand why she wants to be my mayor.  It doesn't make sense to me. 

Wayne Stewart's list is a list of names with a grand total at the bottom.  Is he that unplugged that he thinks this is the same as releasing a donor list? I am not, in the end, interested in knowing the grand total of what your war chest is.  We want to know who the big money donors are and who you may be beholden to after election day.  A list of names with a grand total offends my sensibilities.  My questions have not even had the courtesy of being addressed in the least. 

And good ol' Bob Hawkesworth, who's team has been viciously attacking Nenshi, McIvor and Higgins, (what are you so desperate for, Bob?) has not, to my knowledge,  even released a list yet.

 The way and how each candidate has released their donor list has shed a vaste amount of light on what they think of me, the voter, and has illuminated for me who is really being transparent and accountable, and who is listening to us, and what we want.   This exercise has made it clear to me that NENSHI is the only candidate who is willing to treat you and me with respect, and listen to what we want and give it to us in a way that makes sense and respects that our time is as valuable as his.  

I challenge the other candidates to reorganize their lists so that we can really see where the money is coming from.  Show us what we want to know.  Make it easy for us to compare lists and make a decision.   Oh, wait, I did that... and the choice is clear ~ NENSHI is the only way to go!

So this previously dis-engaged voter, now excitedly engaged voter, will be going to the polls to make my voice heard! Make sure your voice is heard this election and VOTE! 

~ Treycee Cox