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Since 1994, this is the 1292nd issue of Randy Cassingham’s...

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17 March 2019: Pondering PluralityCopyright ©2019

Where There’s Smoke...: After a boathouse in New Richmond, Wisc., was burned down by an arsonist, deputies simply followed footprints in the snow to find the arsonist. “The tracks angled every ten feet or so,” one wrote in his report, “as if the suspect was turning around and checking behind him.” When they found the end of the trail at the home of John Michael Haag, 55, Haag volunteered that he walks his dog on that path — before they even told him where the fire was. Haag, who hadpreviously been vocal about not liking the boat house, denied involvement in the fire until he noticed deputies saw two gas cans with open nozzles, and said they’d be back with a search warrant. Then he allegedly said, “It was me, I did it, I started the fire.” Haag is charged with arson, and faces a fine of up to $100,000, and up to 40 years in prison. (RC/St. Paul Pioneer Press) ...“That much? That long? Can I retract my confession?”

There’s a First Time for Everything: After a six-month investigation, Appalachian Regional Drug Enforcement Office agents executed a search warrant and arrested Jasper Carlan on charges of trafficking and sale of methamphetamine. The agents seized a half pound of meth valued at $24,000, and $1,300 in cash. After his arrest, Carlan allegedly told police he’d been selling meth in Habersham County, Ga., for 20 years and had never been caught. Carlan is 78 years old. The same investigationnetted two other arrests: Robin May, 55, allegedly helped Carlan distribute the drugs, and Keith Pitts, 52, is a suspected customer. (MS/Gainesville Times, WXIA Atlanta) ...With the effects of meth, they all probably look about the same age.

Nothing to Sniff About: A crime victim rang up police in Craigavon, Northern Ireland, to complain she was the victim of a scam. “OK, are you out any money?” the officer asked. “Yeah I paid over 200 pounds [US$265] and got brown sugar instead,” the woman replied. “Instead of what?” the officer asked. “Cocaine.” The caller didn’t provide her name, but police noted that “Appropriate advice and guidance was given.” (RC/PA) ...“It’s not illegal to get a sugar high.”

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The Won’t of the People: Jasiel F. Correia II was mayor of Fall River, Mass. But he was facing federal charges of tax evasion and fraud, so there was a recall election. He lost: more than 60 percent of voters decided he should go. But the same ballot asked a second question: who should be the new mayor? Five candidates ran, and the plurality of the vote, about 35 percent, went to the incumbent. So now, having been recalled from office and elected to replace himself, Jasiel F. CorreiaII is mayor of Fall River, Mass. (AC/Boston Globe) ...Still think letting the person with the most votes win is the best way to determine the will of the people?

Not Just Eight More Stories: This week you not only missed the Florida man who paid to get his car out of an impound lot ...and then allegedly firebombed it. California not only moves to allow people to take road kill home to eat, but it proposing taking it a step farther.... Burglars take cheap trinkets but leave behind multi-million-dollar painting. Police search dying man’s hospital room for pot because “someone” claimed they could smell THC oil sealed in a bottle. Man fleeing minorfender-bender receives instant karma. School bus driver busted for driving under the influence after abandoning her bus with kids on board. Former vice cop arrested in (yep!) undercover vice operation. Man arrested for going to the gym, working out, and coming home — it’s the why that’s wild. And there’s more? Yep: the results of the monthly Reader Challenge to come up with a tagline on an extra-extra story. Quit missing most of the stories! The full edition is just $32 for52 weekly issues. Upgrade here.

Outfoxed: Officer Harold Nunuvero of the Ellenville (N.Y.) Police Dept. was dispatched to investigate “an aggressive rabid fox” in town. He found it: “without warning or provocation” the animal charged him, but he couldn’t shoot it because it wasn’t safe — his backup, Sgt. Robert Morse, and a civilian, were in the line of fire, so Nunuvero tried to escape the fox by quickly scaling a fence. In his haste, the officer caught his foot in the fence, making him fall. Luckily, he fell ontothe far side of the fence, and the fox didn’t get him — and Sgt. Morse was able to safely shoot it. As Nunuvero landed, something caught the trigger of his service pistol, which shot him point blank in the chest. Luckily, Nunuvero was wearing a bulletproof vest, and escaped serious injury. (RC/Kingston Daily Freeman) ...He may not have the nimbleness of a cat, but I think he just used up two of his nine lives.

Stockholders Feel Stiffed
Australia’s Largest Funeral Firm Assures Investors: More People Will Die this Year, Probably
Adelaide Independent News headline

Did You Find an Error? Check the Errata Page for updates.

This Week’s Contributors: MS-Mike Straw, AC-Alexander Cohen, RC-Randy Cassingham.

Last Week’s Issue Brought several protest unsubscribes. “The sense of moral superiority woven through the issues has become tiresome. Unsubscribe.” wrote “Hobar” in Texas, a nine-year subscriber. Huh? Then “Darl” in Oklahoma, who also subscribed in early 2010, was a bit more forthcoming in explaining his objection. Continues in My Blog: Which Humans Have No Worth? (...or,More Stupid Unsubscribes)

I Think the Concept of a recalled mayor immediately winning election to the same seat was awfully interesting, and Alexander’s tag about it pretty thought-provoking. He decided to expound on it a bit:

“There are other ways to determine what counts as the will of the people. For example, I think single executive positions should be filled by some system where each voter gets to vote for all the candidates they like, not just one. Consider an election where 49 percent of the people think candidate A would be the best choice and candidate C would be terrible, 48 percent think it’s the other way around, and everyone agrees that B would be a pretty decent second choice (except for the 3percent who think B is best). Why not have a voting method that makes B the winner? This way, we wouldn’t have nearly half the voters thinking that the head of our country’s, state’s, or city’s government is terrible. Isn’t a candidate we all think is good a better reflection of the will of the people than one nearly half of us think is terrible? Or, as in this case, a candidate three fifths of the people voted to remove?

“On the other hand, I think legislatures (or at least one house of each legislature) should be elected at large by proportional representation, under rules that make it fairly easy for even a small minority party to get one seat. This way, we can all be heard, and new ideas can have legislative champions. Isn’t a legislature where everyone has a representative who shares their views (and more popular views have more representatives) a better reflection of the will of the people than one wheresome people aren’t heard because the people who happen to live near them disagree with them?

“I’m not very confident in my views on these points, but I think they're plausible enough that we shouldn’t consider it obvious that a plurality vote defines the will of the people. And I think this story is a perfect illustration. The will of the majority was specifically that Jasiel Correia no longer be mayor, but that was overridden because a minority voted to reelect him. Another voting method might have enabled the majority to get its way. For example, imagine the town had used approvalvoting. In the actual election, Paul Coogan was a close second; the other candidates, besides Mayor Correia, were Joseph D. Camara, Erica Scott-Pacheco, and Kyle Riley. If a reasonable number of Camara, Scott-Pacheco, and Riley voters also voted for Coogan (and no one who voted to recall Correia also voted to reelect him), Coogan would have finished ahead of Correia. And considering that a majority specifically voted to make Correia no longer mayor, electing anyone but Correia would have beenmore plausibly called the will of the people.

“Of course, Correia’s reelection might also have been prevented by a rule that says you can’t run for reelection at the same time as you’re the subject of a recall election. But suppose (and this is purely hypothetical!) that most of the voters who backed Coogan, Camara, Scott-Pacheco, and Riley preferred Correia to any of the non-incumbents besides the one they voted for. In that case, under approval voting, most voters might have voted for Correia even if they also voted for someone else.And if the overwhelming majority of voters approved of Correia while a majority of voters disapproved of each of the other candidates, wouldn’t it then be clear that the will of the people was actually to keep Correia — at least until someone they liked better than the other available options was found?”

Well, in any case, this clearly is one way we get politicians that the majority don’t like at all, and there are other ways that voting can be done. Thought-provoking indeed.

Ten Years Ago in True: The start of True’s oh-so-perfect word, obliviot: Beats the Old Bomb Threat Gambit.

Today on Randy’s Random: Just about any parent can relate to In the Wild.

This Week’s Honorary Unsubscribe goes to Johnny Thompson. What does it take to become a “magician’s magician”? Thompson knew. “If you were putting together an important magic show,” says Penn Jillette, “you would bring Johnny in.”

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