Every year I have the privilege of attending a water users meeting. This annual meeting informs property owners with water rights of any crucial facts they may need to know when using their irrigation water in the summer.
The meeting is chaired by our group’s mediator and a secretary. Both of them are in their late seventies, early eighties.
Although the meeting has nothing to do with religion, due to the predominant religion in the hood, it is held in a church an starts with a prayer. I purposely arrive late to avoid that activity.
This year, after the prayer, our mediator moved right into the meeting and requested an approval of the minutes (from last year). The man in front of me quickly moved to approve the minutes, then immediately questioned whether or not he should instead make a motion. Regardless, the minutes were approved.
It was then that the mediator made a big announcement, “I’m stepping down as mediator so we need someone to replace me. I really like the secretary and she’s done a real good job all these years so before I step down I’d like to make the decision that she remain the secretary.”
The man in front of me shouted out a name, “Vic Laird.”
“Is that your name? Are you nominating yourself?” the mediator asked. “Huh, well, alright.”
“Yes,” he replied.
The woman a few seats down from him followed suit and shouted out a name, “Bobby Windsor.”
The second name appeared to be more in line with what the mediator wanted. As a result, while still in his position of ‘mediator power’ and at the podium, he shared his opinion of the second nominee.
“I just want to say I really like Bobby Windsor. I’ve known him for a long time and he’s a good fella. Okay, let’s vote if you want Bobby to have this job raise your hand.”
Several people raised their hands. Others, like myself, weren’t sure who to vote for because we didn’t know the credentials (if any) of each nominee and we didn’t know Vic or Bobby. The mediator and the secretary did not let these facts get in the way of their version of a democratic process and started counting all of the hands in the air.
“Nine,” the secretary asked.
“Yes, either nine or ten,” the mediator replied then instructed, “Now, raise your hands if you want Vic.”
Several of us raised our hands, me included. I didn’t know Vic nor did I know Bobby but I felt Bobby got an unfair endorsement for just being a good fella.
The counting began again.
“Ten” the secretary said.
“I got nine or ten,” the mediator advised.
The secretary got up out of her seat, walked over to the mediator, attempted to use her hand to block sound and “whispered” in the mediator’s ear, “What should we do? We’ve got a tie or Vic won.”
The mediator looked at the meeting attendees and announced, “We’re doing another vote. This time, stand if you want Bobby.”
A few people stood up and he advised them to wait until he asked them to stand. Thus, they sat down.
“Okay, if you want Bobby, stand up.”
Several people stood up and the the mediator and secretary started counting quietly together.
“Twelve,” they excitedly announced, most likely assuming that Bobby won.
“Now stand up if you want Vic.”
As they began to reach “twelve” the mediator made an announcement, “I think some people stood up twice. Let’s table this for now. Who would like to approve the minutes?”
“We already approved the minutes,” Vic, our frustrated mediator candidate, informed him.
“Oh, alright then,” the mediator replied and decided to let the water manager from the city have some floor time; most likely in an attempt to buy some time between voting.
The water manager shared the same information he shared last year and the mediator proposed another vote.
“Okay. Stand up if you want Bobby.”
“I don’t understand what we’re doing. I thought we already voted,” a meeting attended said.
“Not really,” the mediator replied.
We had clearly voted, just not for the person he had in mind.
As people stood up the mediator and the secretary counted and reminded them to not sit down until they’re told to sit down.
“I think I see some people in the hall,” the mediator noted. “We want to make sure they vote.”
The people in the hall weren’t interested in voting.
“Well, that definitely looks like twelve or 13,” the mediator told the secretary.
“If you want Vic to do it, stand up and everybody else sit down. No getting up if you’ve already voted.”
The whispered conversation between the mediator and the secretary continued until they announced, “Looks like nine. Bobby is the winner!”
And that is how neighborhood democracy works. Perhaps they should try this highly effective, completely accurate method for the Presidential election. Oh, wait, they already do.