Thursday, December 20, 2012

#ABLegCares... it really, really does.

Oh, what a night.

Politicos, tweeps, MLA's, and just general decent folks from all over the place pledged $4,851 last night. The anonymous donor that Shane had rounded up committed to doubling that number, bringing the total donation to Inn From The Cold up to $9,702. Add all of the items that Shane has received as donations from across the political spectrum during December, and you get more than $10,000.

Nights like last night are why I fell in love with politics in the first place.

We had a New Democrat, a Liberal, an Alberta Party member, a PC, and a Wildroser sitting down together, committing gastronomical atrocities together in the name of charity. We worked TOGETHER, and in one night raised almost $10,000 for Calgarians in need. Truly a Christmas miracle.

For those of you keeping score, or who pledged and want to know what you're on the hook for, here was the final damage:

  1. Vincent St Pierre (Alberta Liberals) - 24 tacos (yes, seriously) 
  2. Joey Oberhoffner (Progressive Conservatives) - 15 tacos (14 hours later, I still have no interest in eating)
  3. Derrick Jacobson (Wildrose) - 41 chicken wings (at 3 wings/taco, we'll round up to 14 tacos)
  4. Marc Doll (Alberta Party) - 13 tacos (at $100 in pledges PER TACO)
  5. Stephen D. Anderson (NDP) - 10 tacos (before driving back to Edmonton)

You can make your donations directly to Inn From The Cold, through this link and clicking on "Donate Now".

The largest donations came from supporters of Derrick, the Wildrose representative, who raised $1,680. Of course, it's never too late to pledge, so if you want to make a donation through the link above, PLEASE do!

The real winner here, of course, is Inn From The Cold.

I owe a huge debt of gratitude to my fellow eaters, who spent much of yesterday haranguing their personal contacts into pledging for this enterprise, which really only took solid form in my mind at around 9:30 on Tuesday night. You put your stomachs on the line for a good cause, gentlemen - thank you!

Also, big props to our official Tweeters, Kirk Schmidt and Patty MacLeod. They were keeping track of funds raised on a taco-by-taco basis, and keeping the eaters motivated. We were the number one trending topic on Twitter in Calgary for much of the night.

Another big thank-you to the Blind Monk Pub, which was extremely accommodating for us. The service and food are top notch, and we truly appreciate their support in making this thing come together the way it did.

And most importantly, a huge thank-you to YOU: The donors. Those who pledged your hard-earned money, less than a week before Christmas, and helped support a fantastic local charity. You're the real heroes of last night - and you've most definitely made Santa's "Nice" list this year.

After Christmas, we can pick up the swords again. That's politics.

But as you spend the holidays with friends and loved ones, know that by coming together as a community of passionate civic-minded citizens and friendly rivals, you all did something amazing last night.

I'm honoured to know you.

Merry Christmas.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Put Your Money Where My Mouth Is

(edited to reflect new participants)

Politics is ugly. It's ugly, and it's nasty, and it's dirty.

But it can also be a noble and uplifting pursuit, when the right people are involved.

With the Christmas season upon us, I've been racking my brain trying to figure out how to put the weight of our weekly pan-partisan Politweet events in Calgary behind something uplifting in time for the holidays. We certainly have a great time and learn a lot by putting away our swords and commiserating as real PEOPLE instead of as faceless partisan avatars retweeting our respective caucus communications trolls... but how do we do something that makes a real difference for someone who needs a hand up?

So here's what we're going to do...

My friend Shane over at Calgary Rants has been working this December to help raise funds and donations of items for the great charity Inn From The Cold. During the course of this process, he has also received a commitment from an anonymous benefactor that all donations will be matched dollar for dollar, up to $5,000. This would make a HUGE difference to the people who need to services that Inn From The Cold offers, especially at this time of year. And we're going to help.

At the Blind Monk (918, 12th Avenue SW) on Wednesday night, Kent Hehr is hosting his regular Pints and Politics night. And at 8:00 pm, taking advantage of the fact that at least 60 politicos, if not more, will be in attendance, we are going to have ourselves a chow-a-thon. Partisans and politically involved folks from all over the province can pledge their support to any one of our designated eaters - some will be downing chicken wings, while some - myself included - will be taking advantage of "South of the Border Wednesdays" at the Monk, and will be crushing tacos instead. In the end, though, it makes no difference: While we're competing for bragging rights for our respective parties, the important thing is that every wing or taco that gets eaten will be raising money - through your pledges - for Inn From The Cold.

We're going to try and get at least one "designated eater" to represent each provincial party, if you define your support as a partisan enterprise. Pledges can be made in the comments section of this post, on Twitter using the hashtag "#ablegcares", or in person at the Monk. Each eater will collect the pledges they earn, and pass them on to Shane to be matched by the anonymous donor.

Thus far, we have the following confirmed eaters - always room for more! Just email me at joey (at) dulcetmelodies (dot) ca to be added to this list! (Eaters will be picking up their own tab, unless someone volunteers to do it for them):

  • Derrick Jacobson (@AlbertaAltruist) - Representing the Wildrose Party. Will be eating wings.
  • Joey Oberhoffner (@oberhoffner) - Representing the Progressive Conservative Party. Tacos.
  • Vincent St Pierre (@vsp) - Representing the Alberta Liberals. Tacos.
  • Marc Doll (@dollhouseyyc) - Representing the Alberta Party. Tacos.

The object here, folks, is to RAISE MONEY THROUGH PLEDGES for Inn From The Cold. While we'll appreciate any cheerleading you can do in person or via Twitter, as well, we're only actually doing any good if you can pledge. Retweet the HECK out of this post, even if you normally disagree with 99% of what I post. There's already a commitment from Jane and Cory Morgan of $2 per wing eaten by Derrick. Surely, my PC friends can do better than that? We're not going to let the far right walk away with this thing, are we? ;)

And not to talk too much trash, here, but I'm going to win this thing. It's going to be April 23rd all over again. Don't believe the polls - I was BORN for this kind of a contest. So if you're looking at making a huge difference in the lives of some of Calgary's less fortunate this Christmas, pledge at least $2 per taco on Joey Oberhoffner's plate. I won't let you down. ;)

Come on, #ableg. Let's show everyone that when the rubber hits the road, we can do more than TALK about how to make things better. Put your money where our mouths are.

UPDATE 1: Where are you, NDP? Alberta Greens? Derrick has confirmed pledges of at least $3.75 per chicken wing. I'm sitting at $4 per taco - but even a skinny guy like Derrick can eat a lot more chicken wings than tacos. I'm going to need some more pledges to defend the honour of the PC Party. Of course, if more PC's want to EAT and raise pledges themselves, that's fine too - Inn From The Cold can use all the help we can offer!

UPDATE 2: Still waiting for the NDP and Greens to get in on the action. The pledges continue to roll in, with Marc Doll having wrangled FORTY-FIVE DOLLARS to Inn From The Cold for every taco he eats tonight.  My fellow PCs, we are getting CRUSHED in the pledge department - I'm going to have to out-eat Marc 3-to-1 just to keep pace! Open your hearts and your wallets - it's Christmas, after all!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

To Merge or Not To Merge? - Guest post by Marc Doll

Note: The following is a guest post written by well-known Calgary politico, realtor, and Bishop Grandin graduate Marc Doll. We don't agree on everything, but we do agree on most things, including the evils of blind partisanship. His text begins... now. - ES

[content edited at author's request - 10:45 am, Dec. 13]

To merge or not to merge... that is not the question.

Based on the Math that may very well be the question but math in human affairs rarely adds up. In my mind the question is to be a Partisan or not to be a Partisan.

Partisanship is the cancer of today's politics.

Partisanship leads to laziness from political Parties. People who vote for or support one particular party regardless of the candidate, or shifting ideas or ideals of the party leads to most of the problems in our political system.

Would Harper have run Crockatt in Calgary Centre if he didn't rely on the blind partisanship of a significant portion of the electorate? Would he have sent his cronies out to ensure the candidate that best reflected his position instead over the general consensus of the centrist Calgary Centre was chosen?

At the moment neither the NDP, Liberalberta or the Alberta Party have put forward a strong enough position or unifying candidate to earn the vote of the forward thinking in Alberta.

So long as we put Party before all else, this will never happen.

It is my argument that those who identify themselves as Liberal, NDP, Conservative etc. are the source of the problem of a disjointed "left". They stifle discussion and do everything in their power to ensure other the other "teams", especially those relatively close to themselves on the spectrum gain no purchase. For decades the NDP has run harder against the Liberals than they did against the Conservative. The reverse can also be said to be true.

It's time we burn our banners and demand that the Parties earn our vote.

Naheed's election was our first taste of this post partisan world. Since Naheed, unlike Higgins and McIvor, did not cling or self-identify with any political brand he challenged us to do the same. He has proven by his 80% + approval rating that there is a large consensus in the centre in a post partisan world.

It is our flags and not our vision of Calgary, Alberta or Canada that divides us.

I believe there is a way to work within Partisan Politics to achieve a post partisan unified reality. The Alberta Party is an attempt to do this but to date it has not attracted the central unifying voice nor the right policy balance to be able to accomplish this. It is my hope that if any of the forward the forward thinking Parties are able to do this, we will be forward thinking enough to put down our Flags and look for consensus in the ballot box.

The Liberal President's letter that has spurred this current conversation is the manifestation of the aforementioned cancer. Defending the reinforcement of silo's and the reinforcement of walls and divisions does nothing but feed this cancer.

I'm sorry that a 22 year old blogger is fed up with this conversation. Some of us have been fighting for this post partisan conversation for longer than this blogger has been alive and will continue to do so until it comes to fruition.

There is no other path forward. 100 years of Liberal and to a lesser historical extent NDP electoral failure and bickering are the proof of this unfortunate reality.

The army of forward thinking engaged volunteers that was assembled under Nenshi and forged under Turner (and I could be convinced under Harvey) is in my view a possible game changer. For the first time in my life, I feel that there is a chance for people I generally agree with, to not only influence but decide elections in this once monolithic Conservative bastion that is Calgary. The upcoming Municipal election is a fantastic time to prove this thesis. If this army is able to identify and coalesce around 2 or 3 strong forward thinking candidates we can completely alter the composition of Council.

If we vote for or work for the candidates who self-identify under our "chosen banner" we will ensure that the DiCu's, Demongs, Hodges' etc. etc. will continue to hold our city back from where it needs to go.

The choice is ours. Partisanship or a coalition of the forward thinking.