March 5th, 2009

I just became a part-time public servant.

A few months ago, I heard that San Francisco was establishing a Voting Systems Task Force, and a few friends suggested that I might be a good person for it. I looked into it at the time, but thought they would only take residents of San Francisco.

Just a couple of weeks ago I learned that the Rules Committee (which decides these things) was also considering applicants who didn't live in San Francisco. So I sent in an application, stayed up late last night preparing something to say, and today I went to my first meeting at City Hall.

The whole event was a lot more lively than I expected, let me tell you. The Rules Committee has three members, and they had several appointments on the agenda today. The very first item began with a vote involving one of the members, so he left the room while the other two voted: one yes and one no. Then he came back into the room, they debated some more, he left the room again and they voted again: one yes and one no. Later during a public comment period (having to do with the Golden Gate Bridge) someone went up to the microphone and started singing, breaking into strains of "Bridge Over Troubled Waters". In response to an applicant representing a labour union, Supervisor Daly brought up a flyer that union had used to attack him, showed it to everyone on the projection screens, and gave a passionate speech on the nature of solidarity and the labour movement.

It took a while, but we finally got to the agenda item for the Voting Systems Task Force. Each of us got a couple of minutes to speak. Then the Supervisors took turns proposing motions to appoint various of us to various seats on the task force, and the motions were approved in quick succession, without discussion. Just like that, I was appointed. The whole meeting was recorded on video but unfortunately I can't figure out how to seek directly to the exciting parts. There's also an error-filled transcript online.

This is my first time on a commission like this, so I'm interested to learn and see how things will go. The other people who were appointed sounded pretty good, and I'm hopeful that we can do some good work here.