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Wednesday, July 23, 2008

2009 UUA presidential election resources.

While I was preoccupied with my adorable new son (who's now 13 lbs 2 oz at 9 weeks, thank you very much), there were all sorts of new developments in the 2009 UUA presidential race. The last time I mentioned the race was just after Laurel Hallman and Peter Morales announced in January that they were running to succeed Bill Sinkford, whose second term ends in June 2009. Since then:

P.S. I had speculated back in 2006 on how new Web technologies might play out in the 2009 race. How fun it is finally to find out!

Disclosure: As a UUA employee, I will not be expressing any personal opinions about the race or about individual candidates on this site or elsewhere, nor will this site accept paid advertisements related to the elections. You, however, are very welcome to discuss the race.

Copyright © 2008 by Philocrites | Posted 23 July 2008 at 9:56 PM

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6 comments:

Steven R:

July 24, 2008 07:07 AM | Permalink for this comment

Is there any way that congregations can vote "none of the above"?
(I'm mostly joking, I dont want another several years of this election!)

Tracey:

July 24, 2008 10:17 AM | Permalink for this comment

I am glad to read that your little one is growing so well! The first year is so amazing with all the changes and growth they do.

Second, thanks for posting all those links, it is very helpful. I am still very much up in the air.

Martin Voelker aka jUUggernaut:

July 25, 2008 03:12 PM | Permalink for this comment

Martin Voelker here, fonder of http://uuapresidentialdebate2009.wordpress.com .

Larry Ladd's vague claims of 'bias' have been discussed at length here: http://aaronsawyer.wordpress.com/2008/07/08/introducing-new-uu-blog-forum-uua-presidential-debate-2009/ . Not only are his points moot, he made them at a point when hardly any content was up yet, and he remains the only visitor who has ever made such claims. The 'authored' part of our site (the posts/articles as opposed to reader comments) consists simply of juxtaposed statements of the two candidates in their own words which for the time being consist of my transcript (which is continually updated if a mistake is found) and the corresponding video segments. Not only is there no bias in the selection of material or in the neutral, uncommented presentation, but site visitors can pick whether they prefer the text or the video footage.

Larry misconstrued the insertion into the transcript of brackets indicating audience laughter or applause as somehow biased, even though without it a reader would be unable to identify a remark as, for instance, a well received joke rather than misunderstand it as a cryptic or stupid remark. (Case in point is Hallman's joke about marriage which on paper makes her look odd but becomes meaningful, yes, delightful through the inclusion of the audience reaction). This is standard transcription practice, and as you can see, for excellent reasons.

His other point was that I do not declare myself as a member of Morales' church and his supporter. This point again is moot because for one the other moderator, Aaron Sawyer, is not in the same camp (which is exactly why I asked him to join with full moderating and administrative rights), and for another I participate in the comment section where anyone can see where I stand.

We are committed to playing this fair, and have designed the site purposefully to avoid bias.

Again: 1) posts are completely neutral; 2) opinions are restricted to the comments.
We even went so far as to include an ombudsman (a first in the blogosphere!) to assure readers that there is a mechanism not only to address perceived unfairness but have them rectified (the ombudsman has the final say). (That said, we haven't found a volunteer yet).

In my assessment, at the bottom of Larry Ladd's discomfort with our site lies simply a campaign stratagem: Unlike him, we are truly interested in stirring up a necessary debate, which is grounded in the actual positions of both candidates. Rev. Hallman (Larry's life partner, as her campaign bio acknowledges) has a considerable lead in this race (due to her achievements, long tenure, and large network of friends and colleagues who know her well, and her much earlier decision to prepare herself as a candidate). It is rarely in the interest of any front runner to increase visibility for the rival candidate, and it is not in hers.
It is, however, of considerable interest for us UU voters to have the opportunity to directly compare the two candidates on their merits, positions, vision and track records.
This is what our blog has set out to provide.

In contrast to Mr Ladd I have also received this encouragement from an East coast minister I've never met:

"Ive just had my first visit to the excellent candidate forum you have established. Thank you for a truly useful site. We owe you a debt of gratitude this will be a valuable tool in the months to come."

I hope people will use it for information and spirited but civil discussion, and that it will enable a conscious, educated choice in 2009 based on personal policy preferences rather than seniority or arbitrary loyalties. The site is what readers make of it. I hope to read your comments there: http://uuapresidentialdebate2009.wordpress.com/

h sofia:

July 26, 2008 03:31 PM | Permalink for this comment

Thanks for posting these links. I need to set aside several hours in the coming weeks to sit down and review this material. This is an important vote! Oh - one question ... is there anyone who explains how the voting works? I think I asked this before somewhere on another blog, but can't recall the answer: does every UU congregant member get a vote, or is it only delegates?

Philocrites:

July 26, 2008 07:27 PM | Permalink for this comment

Only delegates may vote — but the delegates don't need to attend GA in order to vote. Delegates may cast absentee ballots, but I'm not sure yet how that will work this time around.

Back in 2001, when Sinkford was first elected, I reported that 3,276 delegates voted. Sinkford won by the largest margin in UUA history with 67.7 percent.

It will be especially interesting to see how many votes are locked down in advance this year. In 2001 I observed:

Although some UUs may have felt torn between the symbolic value of choosing either a woman or a person of color, the response to presentations the candidates made at Friday's candidates forum seemed much more attuned to their ability to present a compelling statement about the UUA's mission. The audience was audibly more impressed by Sinkford's eight-minute speech about the public role of Unitarian Universalism than they were by Miller's six-minute video presentation and brief speech about the importance of congregational life. Delegates who voted at the General Assembly chose Sinkford 7 to 3. (Sinkford won 58.7 percent of the 947 absentee votes.)

("Sinkford is UUA's first black president," Christopher L. Walton, UU World, Sept./Oct. 2001)

h sofia:

July 27, 2008 01:42 PM | Permalink for this comment

Thanks, Chris. That's helpful!



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