Gaming the system?

Politics as usual


The September 21st Fernandina Beach News-Leader had this article on page 3a, by Eric Gutierrez.


Florida is a closed primary state, until 2000 you only vote the ticket of your registration or nonpartisan contest.  But in 1998 Floridians approved a constitutional amendment opening primaries to all voters, via Universal Primary Contest, if all of the candidates are from a single political party.  Thus in a primary if there in no opposition from a recognized party it is designated a Universal Primary Contest and all registered voters can vote.

Two years later, then-Secretary of State Katherine Harris issued an opinion that said the existence of a write-in candidate was enough to cause a primary to be closed.  It has been used to game the system ever since.

If you are a Republican or Democrat facing only opponents from you own party you  have to worry that voters from the other party will vote against you.  You can eliminate this by having a ally register as a write-in candidate, thus creating a closed primary situation.

In this case Justin M. Taylor faced two other Republicans primary candidates; Klynt A. Farmer and Joe Zimmerman and without Don Tanner opposition as a write-in it would have been a Universal Primary Contest open to all registered voters in the district.

Was Don Tanner someone who intended to run as a write-in in the general election, but has for some reason decided to withdraw, we will never know.  Was he an ally of one of the other candidates or just a loyal  Republican, we will never know.  Was he an ally of Justin Taylor, again we will never know, but the optics are not good for Mr. Taylor.

In a primary where the winning margin was 681 votes (4.4% of total vote) would the outcome have been different if it had been a Universal Primary Contest, likely.

It should be noted that this was the only County Commissioner race with a write-in candidate.


I would like to have medical care like this!

For only $611.00 per year.

A clinic, within walking distance of your office, staffed by five doctors with a medical staff of thirteen, who provide routine exams, consultations, and certain diagnostic tests. The office does not provide vision or dental care, and prescriptions may be written but not dispensed.   When a specialist is brought in, you pay no additional costs.  All for a total cost of $611.00 per year, up from $503.00 in 2011, where it had been for the last 17 years.

My last visit to an emergency walk-in clinic was $230.00.

In additions to this clinic you have a comprehensive health plan which you employers covers 70% of the cost.  For only $550.00 per month (your cost for a typical family plan) the plan covers:

• Routine physical exams, which is also available at the clinic
• Ambulance services
• Urgent care, which is also available at the clinic
• Doctor’s office visits, which is also available at the clinic
• Inpatient hospital care
• Mental health services
• Specialist visits,  which is also available at the clinic
• Surgery
• Stop smoking aids
• Lab tests • X-rays, which is also available at the clinic
• Physical therapy, which is also available at the clinic
• Prescriptions, which is also available at the clinic
• Maternity care, which is also available at the clinic
• And more

To avail yourself to all of this and a salary of $174,000 per year, just get yourself elected to Congress.

The clinic is The Office of Attending Physician, U.S. Congress.

Published as letter to editor, Fernandina Beach News-Leader, Wednesday September 21, 2016.


How Not To Design A Roundabout

Nassau County Fails Roundabout 101.

Not far from my house is a prime example of how not to design a roundabout.  The roundabout is on Heron Isle Parkway, between Blackrock Rd. and Chester Rd.

Let’s start with the ideal roundabout, according to Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT).


Nice symetrical design, typical of most of the roundabouts on Amelia Island, such as Bailey Rd. & Amelia  Island Parkway.


FDOT also recommends signage, as seen at 14th and Amelia Island Parkway.


The Federal Highway Administration provides guidance on the radial alignment of entries.

Exibit 6 – 18, FHWA “Roundabouts: An Informational Guide”

.With the admonishment “Approach alignment should not be offset to the right of the roundabout’s center point.” and this elaboration “It is almost never acceptable for an approach alignment to be offset to the right of the roundabout’s center point. This alignment brings the approach in at a more tangential angle and reduces the opportunity to provide sufficient entry curvature. Vehicles will be able to enter the roundabout too fast, resulting in more loss-of control crashes and higher crash rates between entering and circulating vehicles.  Exhibit 6-18 illustrates the preferred radial alignment of entries.” [emphasis added by old curmudgeon]

Now we get to the Heron Isle Parkway roundabout.


The Northbound approach centerline is not only offset to the right, contrary to FHWA guidelines, it is tangent.  Entering from any other approach you are forced to slow down.  Not so for the Northbound approach.  There is signage reducing the speed from 35 mph to 25 mph, but it is not in accordance with the FDOT recommendation, no circle graphic on the sign.


There is also a new approach being built, to service the new homes being built to the East of the Parkway.  The curmudgeon’s Jeep is parked in the center of the new approach.  This new approach will make the intersection more dangerous than it already is.  The old curmudgeon has witnessed two near misses at the circle, where the northbound vehicle failed to yield to a vehicle entering the circle from Gaylon Dr.  Because of the fence, the sight line of the northbound driver of traffic entering from Gaylon Drive is obstructed as is the sightline of the vehicle entering from Gaylon.



The blue line in the figure below represents the sightline, given the fence.  The brown line is the distance from the site line to the entrance of the roundabout, 160 ft.  At 25 mph you have 4 seconds from the time you can see a car on Gaylor until you enter the circle.  The breaking distance from 25 mph is 30 ft, leaving you less than 3 seconds reaction time.  The published perception/reaction distance for 25 mph is 55 ft.  Note: According to Appraiser’s map (figure below) the new entrance will be Furtherview Ct.



Election Prediction – Using UK Market Odds

Studies find that political prediction (betting) to be better at predicting elections than polls.

John Stossel, Fox Business Network reporter and his supervising producer Maxim Lott have put up a website showing the UK Prediction Market odds on the US Presidency.  They use the odds from Betfair.  Betfair is a market, not a bookie, share are bought/sold.  The current value of the Presidential Election Market is $2 Million.

I will update this monthly, click the follow button on the sidebar to get updates.

Since the site went up on October 13th 2015 the chart looks like.

Market Prediction from October 2015

The result for August 2016.

Market Prediction August 2016

The same August results from Real Clear Politics shows a much closer race.


In 2012 Robert Erikson (Dept of Political Science, Columbia Univ) & Christopher Wlezin (Dept of Political Science, Temple Univ) published Markets vs. polls as election predictors: An historical assessment in Electoral Studies (Vol 31, pgs 532 – 539).  The abstract:

Prediction markets have drawn considerable attention in recent years as a tool for forecasting elections. But how accurate are they? Do they outperform the polls, as some scholars argue? Do prices in election markets carry information beyond the horserace in the latest polls? This paper assesses the accuracy of US presidential election betting markets in years before and after opinion polling was introduced. Our results are provocative. First, we find that market prices are far better predictors in the period without polls than when polls were available. Second, we find that market prices of the pre-poll era predicted elections almost on par with polls following the introduction of scientific polling.  Finally, when we have both market prices and polls, prices add nothing to election prediction beyond polls. To be sure, early election markets were (surprisingly) good at extracting campaign information without scientific polling to guide them. For more recent markets, candidate prices largely follow the polls.
(c) 2012 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved

THEIR BIASES by David Rothschild ( Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Business and Public Policy (Applied Economics), The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania), Public Opinion Quarterly, Vol. 73, No. 5 2009, pp. 895–916

Hillary – Bin Laden Situation Room Photo

5 of the individuals seated at table took time to visit with Seal Team 6.

In her speech to the American Legion last night, Hillary was 30 minutes late in arriving from her fund raising event in the Hamptons.  A few of the notable attendees at the fundraiser were Jimmy Buffett, Paul McCartney, and Jon Bon Jovi.

In her speech (14:45/44:22) she highlights her role in the Bin Laden takedown.  She cited “the picture of all of us crowded in smaller situation room”.  Rob O’Neill, on Fox and Friends this morning commented that of the six individuals seated at the table only one couldn’t find the time to visit Norfolk and meet with Seal Team 6, after the takedown.  That one was HRC, the same one who was also 30 minutes late for her speech to the America Legion.  Didn’t she also comment that the VA was doing a fine job back in March?

Speech to American Legion, Situation Room @ 14:45

Sound on Centre

6:00 PM Friday, Sept 2, 2016

This month’s Sound on Centre features the Beach Street Blues Band – Dan Voll, Jeff Malone, Mike Hawthorne, Jay Mac Pherson and Ronnie Stoots – playing music from different backgrounds and traditional (blues, rock, New Orleans jazz and R&B).

2011 Performance

Hopefully tropical storm Hermine will allow the performance, forecast 60% chance of rain, 20 mph winds and 80 degrees.

Weather Forecast (