Google Map street view capturing Border Patrol van in San Luis, AZ

Arizona’s controversial immigration bill, SB 1070 {along with provisions from HB 2162} [pdf of 1070], is days from going into effect and a maelstrom of lawsuits are heating up. Those who haven’t lived in a state bordering with México might not be familiar with how heated of a topic immigration can be, although various polls state that many Americans, not just Arizonans, support the bill.

The bill, which became law as the Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act that Governor Brewer signed in April has been in the cards for a while. This article from the Arizona Republic shows how this “local” issue stemmed from frustration about Federal immigration policy and enforcement in Arizona, as well as noting how nobody expected a firestorm in the national spotlight::

“‘I have never felt the racism that you are feeling in Arizona today because of this bill,’ said Mary Rose Wilcox, a Democratic Maricopa County supervisor who is hoping U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton will block SB 1070 from going into effect.

The furious, and fearful, reaction to Brewer’s decision to sign the bill caught both backers and opponents of the legislation off guard.

‘The majority of us who voted yes on that bill, myself included, did not expect or encourage an outcry from the public,’ said state Rep. Michele Reagan, R-Scottsdale. ‘The majority of us just voted for it because we thought we could try to fix the problem. Nobody envisioned boycotts. Nobody anticipated the emotion, the prayer vigils. The attitude was: These are the laws, let’s start following them.'”

On the legal front, there is the Constitutionality aspect, with complaints being filed and the DoJ getting into the mix {both links to the Constitutional Law Prof Blog}, along with how supremacy and preemption factor into the legality. While legal types argue issues of whether Arizona state law with the Act conflicts with or embodies “concurrent enforcement” of federal immigration and naturalization laws. The Act is in a grey area of state criminal law and federal immigration law and policy.

Politically, the dividing line is roughly along party affiliation with Republicans supporting it and Democrats opposing it. Given the rough shape of the economy and joblessness, getting tough on immigration is an easy issue to get support for. Republican Governor Jan Brewer got a boost in the polls after signing the bill and is ahead of her Democratic challenger. Nevertheless, not all Republicans support the law, including Jeb Bush and Karl Rove. It’s a tricky issue for the Republicans, who want to court Latino voters and many of whom aren’t on board with this type of law and may be another issue that can divide, not unite the Republican party. The NY Times stated that immigration is also a touchy issue for the Democrats, but to a lesser degree, and that states are rushing to craft their own legislation, which may lead to a patchwork of laws, rather than a comprehensive national approach.

The problem I see with the law is that it really fails to acknowledge the social reality of what’s going on and is likely to have bad unintended consequences. Some in law enforcement {there’s no consensus on this} are concerned that undocumented immigrants will fear them, making their jobs more difficult. I’ve worked on projects for the James Irvine Foundation earlier this decade and one of the issues that cropped up was the institutional barriers that prevented undocumented immigrants from engaging in society. This manifested in a fear of law enforcement and a reluctance to engage in health and social services, which is borne out by statistics. Some may see this as a good thing, as in lower costs, but I see it as increasing costs particularly when it comes to health care, due to less preventative medicine, increased risk for the spreading of infectious diseases, and greater utilization of emergent care facilities for primary care. Additionally, in Arizona, while causality cannot be determined, there are reports that Latinos may be leaving the state and those who are eligible to vote are…registering as Democrats.

What’s needed is for the federal government to step up to the plate and make the tough choices on immigration. I’m not holding my breath that the Obama administration or Congress will do anything before the November elections.

{In the future, I’ll blog about the economics of immigration and this one misguided project I worked on {but wasn’t the principal investigator on} that had a strange take on the industrial organization of agriculture.}

Song:: MIA-“Pull Up the People”

Twitterversion:: [blog] The sturm & drang of Arizona’s immigration bill. Will Obama or Congress step up to the plate—in an election year? @Prof_K

There are a few creative types on ThickCulture so I’m hoping they chime in on this one. I just saw this on Facebook {via Jennifer Lovegrove via Zoe Whittall} this rekindled my thinking about screenplays. The video explains the Bechdel Test or the Mo Movie Measure to assess female presence in films. The test is not part of a feminist manifesto or a normative stance on what makes a “good” or “correct” film, but poses the question that much of filmmaking caters to men or male-centric narratives. Here’s a list of films and how they fare on I think I know why this is the case. It’s about formula and pigeonholing. So, if we take the parameters of the test::

  1. Are there 2 or more women who have names?
  2. Do they talk to each other?
  3. Do they talk about something other than men?

one realizes that few films would pass this test, but those that do would often get stereotyped in the calculus of Hollywood decision-making that relies on formula and appealing to certain demographics in an attempt to mitigate risk. Too much female presence on screen is often deemed unchartered territory when it ventures outside of the established realm of the “chick flick”. This has gotten me thinking about my screenplays and a TV treatment I’m developing and how, with good writing, there could be much more of a female presence that doesn’t take anything away from the story. Interestingly, my TV treatment has much more of a female presence, but it mirrors a real world context and I’m more cognizant of gender in my writing of late. In any case, I find writing in more female presence, in a smart way I might add, to be an interesting creative challenge that can help freshen the story. I’m not sure I would say the same thing in 2002 when I started writing screenplays, as I think writing stories and dialogue for women back then would be much more difficult. Eight years ago, I think I’d think it’s a great idea but beyond me. Nevertheless, I think pushing the envelope here has the potential for writers to craft better stories.

While I don’t believe that only women can write screenplays that pass the Bechdel test, I think it’s illuminating how relatively few female writers there are. According to a Writers’ Guild of America 2009 report, the number of female screenwriters has languished under 20% for the past few years::

Song:: No Doubt-‘Just a Girl’

Twitterversion:: [blog + video] The Bechdel Test/Mo Movie Measure examines female presence in film. Thoughts on the Hollywood & the creative process. @Prof_K

Last summer, the Obama Administration got embroiled in controversy with the Henry Louis Gates, Jr. arrest and Barack’s comments about the Cambridge police. This summer, Andrew Brietbart set off a chain reaction with clips of a video at a NAACP meeting that he felt showed how a black USDA official, Shirley Sherrod, was expressing racist views. Here’s Brietbart explaining his position on Sherrod’s talk and his allegations that the NAACP audience was “applauding her overt racism”, although he also acknowledges how she draws distinctions between the “haves” and “have nots” in the context of the story::

Subsequently, the Obama administration pressured her to resign.

Well, as it turns out, the clip wasn’t the whole story. Sherrod’s talk in its entirety is about bridging the race gap and how she had to come to terms with her own feelings. In the aftermath, the wife of the white farmer that Shirley referred to in the video and helped, Elouise Spooner, came forward and said that she did right by them::

When the story broke, I saw it in Toronto on CNN, which was only showing clips which were damning and those outraged at Sherrod’s “racism” at a NAACP meeting. It was a jaw-dropping story, how it was framed, but I wasn’t all that surprised when I saw how the story was more complicated and not at all surprised to hear that the Obama administration is backpedaling after figuring out the rest of the story. Apparently, CNN jumped on the bandwagon, throwing caution and good journalism to the winds::

“CNN’s Rick Sanchez said producers there were intrigued by’s posting and immediately started reporting on it. But with all the questions involved — Was this a fair characterization of Sherrod’s full speech? Can she be reached to give her side of the story? — they wouldn’t be ready to discuss it on his afternoon show until Tuesday, he said.

By then, the story rushed by.

“As journalists, we have to protect ourselves the best we can,” Sanchez said. “It’s easy for it to happen to anybody, by the way — jump to a conclusion, get excited, look at the coverage. It’s kind of like creating a bandwagon effect. Once you get on the bandwagon, you can’t hit the brakes. According to the SF Chron::

“CNN’s Rick Sanchez said producers there were intrigued by’s [Brietbart’s] posting and immediately started reporting on it. But with all the questions involved — Was this a fair characterization of Sherrod’s full speech? Can she be reached to give her side of the story? — they wouldn’t be ready to discuss it on his afternoon show until Tuesday, he said.

By then, the story rushed by.

‘As journalists, we have to protect ourselves the best we can,’ Sanchez said. ‘It’s easy for it to happen to anybody, by the way — jump to a conclusion, get excited, look at the coverage. It’s kind of like creating a bandwagon effect. Once you get on the bandwagon, you can’t hit the brakes.'”

So, while CNN and Fox were both focusing on the reverse racism angle of this story, Fox’s O’Reilly kicks it up a notch. He cites several stories that the mainstream media didn’t cover as a journalism fail and evidence of a left-leaning bias. Bill practically accuses other networks of embracing a leftist agenda over giving the audience what they want::

All of this frenzy even duped the NAACP, which initially denounced Sherrod. While the media, politicians, and organizations are quick to jump the gun on incendiary bombs like this, what gets lost are the issues at hand on race and the Tea party movement. It gets convoluted, as even ousted Tea Party Federation activist Mark Williams defended Sherrod, as the controversy swirled. At around 7:30 EDT, there were two “highest rated” comments on the full video {link to all comments}, which shows that views are being expressed that show that people aren’t willing to follow a us-them mentality with respect to the Tea party movement and the NAACP::

“I am a white, Christian, Tea Party conservative from Texas….and I must say that while I appreciate much of Mr. Breitbart’s work, he really blew this one with his selective editing. I appreciated much of what Ms. Sherrod said about racial perspectives from all fronts. She sounded like she was sharing honest feelings based on her background, and how she came to terms with that. She should get her job back! Most of the Tea Party folks that I’m around would feel the same way.”—spastikmunkey

“I’m an Old (57) White Male. After watching this, I believe it is wrong for Mrs. Sherrod to lose her job. Yes, she had – and has – some racial issues – especially understandable given what happened to her father – but her heart is good and she has worked to overcome them and do the right thing. I’m all about grace and allowing people to grow. I only hope that blacks will give whites the same room and understanding. It’s the only way we’ll ever achieve racial reconciliation of any depth.”—lostcause53

The actions of CNN and {allegedly} the Obama administration, given USDA deputy undersecretary Cheryl Cook who phoned Shirley and told her the White House wanted her to resign since her comments were causing a controversy, show how the media and politicians are preoccupied with hype and spin, as opposed to getting the facts straight.

I think it’s easy to characterize any social movement in a stereotypical fashion, but I wonder how this plays out in an era of network politics. Where is the agency and what is the exact configuration of the Tea party movement when it comes to positions on race? Clearly, not everyone in the Tea party movement is on board with race as a wedge issue, but can any leader realistically speak for what is a confederation of localized grassroots activity?

Song:: The Style Council-‘Long Hot Summer’

Twitterversion:: [blog] Sherrod debacle highlights media & political #fail, but implications for social movements in networked politics? @Prof_K

While Sarah Palin’s recent use of “refudiate” twice would be a double facepalm moment for most politicians, perhaps she gets a bye because of her folksy patois. I do think she’s self-conscious of appearing none-too-smart and rather than just shrugging these things off, she gives them too much play, which is more fodder for the press and pundits. Of course, this keeps her in the limelight even more. While I think that might be shrewd for being a political celebrity of sorts, I think all of this self-consciousness undermines her credibility as a potential political candidate to an important demographic—educated suburban/urban moderates and independents.

This reminds me of the old Fox show In Living Color and Damon Wayans’ character, Oswald Bates, full of his own unique patois::

Just in case anyone cares, if you type in “refudiate” in Twitter…

there is a spellcheck that lets you know you’re in neologism territory…or are just misspelling words.

Song:: The Stills-‘Lola Stars & Stripes’ {lyrics}

Twitterversion:: [blog] Sarah Palin’s “Shakespearean” neologism of “refudiate” reminds me of an old Damon Wayans character. #ThickCulture @Prof_K

Screencap from Sharron Angle's website

Embattled Senate Democrat and majority leader Harry Reid seems to be on a rebound after crashing and burning in the polls earlier in the year. Republican challenger Sharron Angle with endorsements from the Tea Party movement and social conservatives won the primary and it looked like Reid was in for an autumn drubbing. She was riding high in the polls after her primary win, with a comfortable 50-39% margin. She’s slipped ever since and the latest Rasmussen poll has her in a statistical tie with Reid, with 11% supporting another candidate or not sure. Reid’s campaign has tried to characterize Angle as too extreme with her views with the help of Obama, which could sway moderate independents and Republicans.

Her latest spot is focusing on unemployment which is a concern of residents, as the rate shot up to 14%::

I’m not sure how effective this ad is. It’s light on content and doesn’t really hit Reid that hard, other than saying that Nevada is worse off jobwise on his watch.

Both candidates have problems with unfavourable perceptions, which is unlikely to motivate voters to head to the polls. Democrats are supporting Reid at 82%, while Angle is getting 75% from Republicans. The independents have favoured Angle with a 52% to 29% margin. Democrats outnumber Republicans, with independents making up a little over 15% of the registered voters.

Immigration is an issue Angle might get traction with, as the Rasmussen poll finds 65% support for a law like Arizona’s controversial immigration law in Nevada. I’m not sure moving far to the right makes the most sense, particularly in an “unpopularity” contest, i.e., a battle to be the least unpopular. Being “extreme” or out there doesn’t garner acceptance, which I think is the key to this race…get the voters to come out and vote for you, even if they’re holding their nose.

So, what’s the latest? What does she do? She states that her campaign to defeat Reid is God’s calling::

When God calls you he also equips you and He doesn’t just say, ‘Well today you’re going to run against Harry Reid,’ the tea party favorite said.

In the Bible ‘Moses has his preparatory time. Paul had his preparatory time. Even Jesus had his preparatory time,’ the former legislator said, citing her years in public office as her preparation for the race.

‘God knew all of this in advance,’ Angle added. ‘I don’t know what’s coming up tomorrow but I do know that He is there. He saw it and that He has provided a way of escape and a way for me to endure.'”

Well, this is one way to go. We’ll see how it works out.

Song:: OMD-‘Joan of Arc {Maid of Orléans}’

Twitterversion:: [blog] Harry Reid battling to keep his seat in Nevada. Polls show a tight race & opponent states campaign is God’s calling.@Prof_K

Roman Polanski, circa 1970s,

No matter how you slice it, Roman Polanski is a divisive figure. I blogged about his detainment by the Swiss police last fall {that post details the case}, when the Los Angeles District Attorney was angling for extradition. I should add that like I said in my earlier blog, I’m not a Polanski apologist and my concerns have to do with civil liberties. The story stirred up quite a bit of emotions with the anti-Polanski camp calling him a child rapist, the victim wanting the whole affair to go away, and his Hollywood supporters making pleas to sway public opinion. Today, the Swiss Justice Ministry refused to extradite Polanski, citing that the LA prosecution failed to provide enough evidence, among other factors. There is no expectation that U.S. authorities will appeal and he’s a free man.

First, I think it should be addressed why the Polanski affair angers so many people. It’s a reminder of an ugly chauvinistic past and the seeming existence of a two-tiered justice system that a CBC article summed it up quite well last fall::

“…For generations, women have suffered unfairly in rape cases, particularly at the hands of the courts. The onus of guilt was often shifted to the woman under the phrases ‘she should have known better’ or, even worse, ‘ she asked for it.’

These ugly phrases and the often lack of support from the police and courts caused untold numbers of women to suffer in silence rather than seek justice in a public forum.

Fortunately, things are changing, but not far enough nor fair enough. Polanski’s efforts to avoid prison —coupled with all the prominent people who are rushing to support him — are a reminder to many women of the unfairness of both public sentiment and the legal system.”

In my previous blog on Polanski, I called into question issues of due process and prosecutorial misconduct. On a Facebook wall, my arguments were reduced to saying that I was equating his crime with possible misconduct::

“[Kenneth Kambara] is trying to equate purported legal misconduct with admitted statutory rape. I think the latter is proven–by admission–and the former possible but unproven. And the efforts to prove it cannot be attempted from Europe.

Polanski wanted to return to the US, that’s why his lawyers were pushing this issue. If extradition is achieved, he will get his wish. He has nobody to blame but himself.”

I must admit I found this to be a curious statement, as in my mind it highlights how the public wants justice and may not have the patience for due process. The above statement refuses to acknowledge that flaws in procedure matter, regardless of the crime and how reprehensible it might be. Nevertheless, being a stickler for due process can upset the sensibilities of fairness when someone who seems dead-to-right guilty gets away with punishment by faulty due process. Yet, without upholding due process, what kind of legal system would there be?

In 1986, Chief Justice of the California Supreme Court, Rose Elizabeth Bird {appointed by Jerry Brown}, and several other “liberal” justices were not confirmed in the general election. One of the major issues was the death penalty and how she overturned cases. The reason? Due process. Bird argued in several capital cases that there were flaws in procedural due process and to try again without the flaw. This holds police and the judicial system to a high standard of conduct, in order to limit the incarceration or death of the wrongly accused. I think this can be frustrating to those thinking that this is a travesty of justice, but it goes back to what type of legal system do the people want.

The Swiss Justice Ministry claimed that they didn’t consider Polanski’s crime, but the LA court’s procedures. The ministry requested documents from the meeting where Polanski’s lawyers met with the original 1977 judge, Laurence Ritterband. The U.S. Justice Department refused, citing confidentiality. Arguably, those documents may have proven embarrassing to the California court and harmed the case. The Swiss threw out the extradition request, which only occurs 5% of the time, citing a lack of support for the request and the fact that it came years after U.S. authorities knew Polanski had a residence in Gstaad since 2006, but failed to act until 2009.

I think FoxNews Entertainment hit the nail on the head on how the State of California managed to look like the bad guy in a child rape case::

“…And [Robert] Reuland [a New York City-based criminal defense attorney] says that while California is probably embarrassed by Switzerland’s decision, this could also be the end of their efforts to pursue Polanski, which is probably costing millions and millions of dollars.

‘At some point, California prosecutors have to decide whether they want to keep at something that is taking so much effort and cost. His public nature plays a big role in why they have pursued it for so long now. But after a certain point, California starts looking like the bad guy in a severely botched case,’ he said.

It’s pretty hard to look like the bad guy in a child rape case, but somehow California managed to do it.”

Song:: Echo & the Bunnymen-‘Do It Clean’

Twitterversion:: [blog] Why the Polanski affair is such a hot topic & the intersection of fairness & due process. #ThickCulture @Prof_K

Vidcap of Jason MacDonald at a G20 Protest, Queen West & Spadina, Toronto, Canada, via impolitical

Notes from North of 49ºN

I was far from the fray two weekends ago when the G20 was in town here in Toronto and I thought the mainstream media was being overly dramatic about the “violence” in the city due to anarchist protesters. On Saturday, the 26th., statements on the news like “Toronto will never be the same” while shots of boarded-up shopfronts on Yonge Street and a police cruiser set ablaze conveyed the message that the city was under siege. More on the cruiser later.

The fact of the matter is that the “destruction” was isolated and targeted at corporate entities, but the lingering fallout will be that of lawsuits and questions pertaining to civil liberties. There were over a thousand detainees stemming from the G20. The Toronto Star {via impolitical} summed things up regarding the detainees and the police use of section 31 {breaching the peace}::

“According to section 31 of the criminal code, officers can arrest anyone found to be ‘committing the breach of the peace or who, on reasonable grounds, he believes is about to join in or renew the breach of peace.’

But according to criminal lawyer Paul Calarco, there is ‘no legitimate basis’ for many of this weekend’s arrests.

‘Wearing a black t-shirt is not any basis for saying reasonable grounds (for arrest),’ he argued. As for arresting peaceful demonstrators en masse, “that is not a proper use of Section 31. That is an intimidation tactic,’ he said.

‘Standing on the sidewalk and exercising your constitutional rights is not a breach of the peace.'”

While some might argue that the G20 protests had the potential to truly get out of hand, the reality was that incidents were isolated. The problem is where is the line drawn with respect to police actions under these circumstances? Should civil liberties be expected to be waived due to extraordinary circumstances and how are these circumstances defined?

One would think that a transit worker in uniform going to work, blocks away from protest activity would be OK, right? Particularly if nothing was “going on”. Wrong. A fare collector spent 36 hours handcuffed in detention for being “in the wrong place at the wrong time”. Gerald Yau heading to work at the Queen’s Park TTC station was tackled and told to stop resisting arrest::

“’I told them I wasn’t resisting arrest, that I was on my way to work. I was in full uniform with TTC shirt, pants, full ID, my employee card, everything,’ Yau said on Wednesday. ‘They said, ‘Really? Well, you’re a prisoner today.’

Moments before, another man had run into him but kept going, Yau said, adding that man was also arrested. There was no protest in sight and not many people in the street, he said.

Berating Yau and swearing at him for being an ’embarrassment’ to the TTC, officers dragged him half a block in handcuffs and shackles and threw him into a paddy wagon, he said.

After a TTC supervisor arrived to vouch for him, he thought he’d be released but was sent to the Eastern Ave. detention centre instead.”

The tactics used by the police bring into sharp focus the lines between public safety and the rights of citizens and visitors to Canada. I tend to agree with Boyd Erman of the Globe & Mail who said the actions of the police give Toronto a black eye::

“But the events of this past weekend have shaken that faith for many. Some of the scenes on Toronto’s streets during the G20 recalled for witnesses those more often associated with dictatorships. There were plainclothes officers snatching people from the midst of seemingly peaceful demonstrations and stuffing them in the back of minivans, before speeding away. Passersby arrested just for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. There were cops busting into homes and pointing guns at innocent people in their own beds. (That’s what one Toronto couple, veterinarians both, claim happened to them when police snuck into the family apartment at 4 a.m. by mistake, then hemmed and hawed when asked to produce a warrant.)

There were police charges at crowds with no warning. (This is a point the Toronto police dispute, but most eyewitness accounts, including those of journalists, are in agreement that warnings were inadequate, inaudible or even non-existent.)

Some showcase. A few broken windows by lawbreaking protesters have, sadly, become expected at these events. But police behaviour like this and the criminalization of civilian dissent is not expected, certainly not in Canada.

None of the criticism of the police absolves all protesters of blame. Both the criminal element who damaged property and taunted police, as well as the many peaceful protesters who nonetheless refused to disavow violence as a tactic, are at the root of the problem.

However, the police must be held to a higher standard. These were the biggest mass arrests in Canadian history, numbering more than 900. There were surely legitimate reasons for some, but the vast numbers of people simply held then released suggests that police simply picked up everyone in sight, a civil libertarian’s nightmare.”

While it might not seem like a big deal that a peaceful protester gets a little bloody from a police shield, the damage is done when it comes to perceptions of proportional use of force. Frankly, it makes Toronto look bush league with a city government worthy of derision, given prior debacles when the city wasn’t able to handle “crises”, such as Mel Lastman’s snowmageddon, when the army was called in to remove the snow. {BTW, I’ll leave it to Rick Mercer to give his un-PC rant about Toronto and the weather}. Sure, nobody expects the Spanish inquisition, but there should be better planning, policies, and procedures in place to deal with crises—that don’t throw civil liberties out the window.

With the luxury of hindsight, this was indeed a debacle and it’s not as if there wasn’t plenty of lead time to prepare for it, including the expectation of Black Bloc activity. There were also plenty of funds to go around. What about the violence and police cruisers set ablaze? Some are saying that they were “bait”, as in props to fuel the media frenzy. Sounds pretty paranoid, right? Well, in Montebello, Québec in August of 2007, a rock-wielding police infiltrator was “outed” at a protest, which was captured on tape and made the rounds on YouTube.

While it may not be surprising that the underground media is stating that the police “staged” the “violence” or at least allowed the “violence” to seem more threatening than it actually was, what might be surprising is that the mainstream media are picking up on this theme. David Warren of the Ottawa Citizen offered this::

“…No one was seriously injured. It would have taken very little traditional police effort to prevent almost all of the property damage that occurred last week. Instead we spent something like a billion dollars in overkill, necessitated by the bureaucratic need to permit violence before awkwardly suppressing it.”

And so it goes…

Song:: Nick Lowe-“So It Goes”

Twitterversion:: [blog] Post-mortem review of G20 #Toronto police actions & civil liberties fallout. #ThickCulture

Sarah Thomson, Toronto Mayoral Candidate

Crossposted on rhizomicon

Notes from north of 49ºN

Last month, the Toronto Star ran an article on the use of social media in Toronto’s mayoral race. This fall’s election will be the first since the proliferation of social media and the wake of Obama’s campaign 2.0. A CTVGlobemedia poll released this week shows that the race is tightening up, as heir apparent George Smitherman {15.9%} was leapfrogged by Rob Ford {17.8} with a 3.1% margin of error and 37.9% undecided.

Now, most of the candidates have embraced social media with various “chiclets”::

for sites like Twitter and YouTube. The “downside” of social media is that it can be hard or impossible to control. This clip of a documentary where Rob Ford gets on the case of a reporter for calling him a “fat f*ck” was making the rounds on YouTube::

Well, first off, this dispels the irksome myth that all Canadians are mild-mannered and polite. How does this video play in the court of public opinion? It’s hard to say. Some might be turned off by Ford’s confrontational style, but it might be “on code” with his feisty approach and accountability stance. Smitherman is no shrinking violet, so it may be interesting if Smitherman and Ford go after each other and voters can see it on YouTube.

I think Twitter offers an interesting mode for engagement. Provincially, here in the Toronto Centre riding, Liberal MPP Glen Murray does a great job of using Twitter to have conversations with constituents. The mayoral candidates should look to Twitter to both engage voters and mobilize supporters, as well as crowdsource ideas to help round-out platforms. A breakdown of the candidates’ Twitter presence follows, in their order in the CTVGlobemedia poll with following/followers/Tweets::

  1. Rob Ford {17.8%} 151/663/256
  2. George Smitherman {15.9%} 1,540/1,609/119
  3. Joe Pantalone {10.1%} 508/591/245
  4. Rocco Rossi {9.1%} 1,019/1,432/732
  5. Sarah Thomson {5.8%} 1,017/1,082/1,066
  6. Giorgio Mammoliti {2.5%} 618/474/ 274

I think it’s important for candidates to follow their followers in order to get the most out of Twitter and the conversations it can foster. Rossi and Thomson are Tweeting frequently and it would be interesting for their campaigns to gauge and analyze how Twitter affects metrics for the various functional areas of the campaign, e.g., volunteering, fundraising, attendance at events, etc.

Song:: XTC-‘Mayor of Simpleton’

Twitterversion:: [blog] Can #Twitter be a gamechanger in #Toronto mayoral race, offering conversations & engagement? #ThickCulture #VoteTO @Prof_K

from Geekpr0n via Tumblr

Just a Friday diversion here on ThickCulture.

Song:: The Clash-‘City of the Dead’

Twitterversion:: [blog-#thickculture] “Empire Urban Regeneration Program” via Geekpr0n. #StarWars @Prof_K

Notes from North of 49ºN

The above AP video shows Pennsylvania House of Representatives member Joe Sestak, who beat White House supported Arlen Specter in the Democratic primary talking about an unpaid job offer discussed by Bill Clinton last year. The skinny is that Rahm Emanuel greenlighted Bill Clinton offering Joe Sestak an unpaid position of influence in consideration for not running against Specter in the 2010 primary. Sestak declined. This wasn’t enough for Republican Rep. Darrell Issa or pundit Liz Cheney. Issa is claiming that this will be Obama’s Watergate and citing 18 U.S.C. § 201 on bribery and wants an investigation. {As an aside, Issa was instrumental in the 2003 California Gubernatorial recall election that replaced Gray Davis with Arnold Schwartzenegger}. Cheney wants the same, accusing the White House of a smokescreen::

YouTube Preview Image

The U.S.C. bribery statute clarifies what consists of a bona-fide bribe, which hinges on the influence of an “official act”. What is an official act? Here is is:

“the term ‘official act’ means any decision or action on any question, matter, cause, suit, proceeding or controversy, which may at any time be pending, or which may by law be brought before any public official, in such official’s official capacity, or in such official’s place of trust or profit.” [*]

The idea is to limit influence on law, not a decision to run for office. While I’m not a fan of Emanuel or these types of tactics, I see this as politics-as-usual and within the scope of the law. I think pressing this one is a lost cause and more blowing smoke, but it may well be “run-it-up-the-flagpole-and-see-who-salutes” season. Happy Memorial Day.

And they call Toronto The Big Smoke.

Song:: Ben Folds Five-‘Smoke’

Twitterversion:: [blog – #ThickCulture] Sestak-Clinton-@WhiteHouse controversy. Whose smokescreen is it anyway or much ado about nothing? @Prof_K