Editorial - Numbers do count

Staff Writer
Woodford Times

Mayor Jim Ardis made a jaw-dropping announcement last week during the city council debate on the $35 million library project. 

He said, in essence, those who voted in favor of the library referendum are irrelevant.

“I’m not drinking the Kool-Aid,” Ardis said, in a reference to the 900 people who died in Jonestown. Guyana, after drinking poison-laced Kool-Aid.

Ardis was referring to the 72 percent vote in favor of the library project in an April ‘07 advisory referendum.

“Only 23 percent of registered voters even voted,” Ardis continued. “Everyone will bear the burden of our decisions.”

Ardis is concerned most with looking out for the 28 percent who voted no or did not bother to vote at all.

He went on to say the city is facing a $100-$150 million storm water retention bill.

Third District councilman Bob Manning added there is an upcoming bill for $70 million for community schools, and $47 million in bonds for the airport and, perhaps, $40-$50 million for a new museum.

Ardis is absolutely right when he says everyone will bear the consequences.

Do we really have to tell Ardis and Manning that is the way majority rule works?

While Ardis is not drinking the Kool-Aid on this, he sipped something else that makes council members feel as if only their opinion, and those who have their ear, matters.

We are left to wonder what magic percentage of registered voters would have counted for Ardis and his lieutenants.

Is it 38 percent? Perhaps 46.4 percent, or must it be near three digits, perhaps, 97.9 percent?

We are willing to bet the magic number is not 32.63 percent, even though that is an important number.

Ardis would do well to consider what consequences would arise if his reasoning were carried out farther.

By Ardis’ reasoning, former Mayor Dave Ransburg could have said Ardis had no business becoming mayor.

In the April 5, 2005, election, only 22,372 registered voters, out of 68,558 registered voters, went to the polls. That is a 32.63 percent turnout. Ardis pulled 55.05 percent of the votes from the 32.63 percent that turned out to vote. 

We do not recall any carping from Ardis about the low voter turnout that elected him.

Ardis is fine with majority rule when it suits him.

You can bet he appreciates majority rule on 6-5 council votes. He likes majority rule because, on most issues coming before the council, he is in the majority the vast majority of the time.

The council will be wise to remember the words of Thomas Jefferson — who apparently did drink the Kool-Aid — when he said, “We in America do not have government by the majority. We have government by the majority who participate.”