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Fire Hydrant the Politician

2004: UBC Board of Governors

In the January 2004 AMS (UBC student council) elections, Fire Hydrant rolled for Board of Governors on the Radical Beer Faction slate. It finished fifth out of eight candidates, clobbered one slate, came within a factor of two of getting elected, and got votes from about 22% of the people who voted. This sent a rather strong message. I'm not sure what that message was or to whom it was sent, but it was unmistakably strong. There's still a nice policy blurb on the Radical Beer Faction website. Below is a list of the candidates, their slates, and the number of votes they drew.

Mia Amir SPAN 1868 Elected
Brian Duong SfS 1622 Elected
Olivier Plessis SPAN 1596 Not elected
Surina Sproul SfS 1350 Not elected
Fire Hydrant RBF 840 Not elected
Jon Groshuesch tRC 296 Not elected
Andrea Smith tRC 201 Not elected
Daphne Hamilton-Nagorsen --- 152 Not elected

The campaign was quite enjoyable -- I felt appropriately absurd walking around campus with Fire Hydrant and speaking on its behalf at debates. Mia Amir proposed to Hydrant during the election, offering it her ring, but took the ring back right away. At the following debate, she again loaned it her ring, and the ring disappeared" for 15 minutes or so, causing Mia much distress. The following night, at GSS Council (Graduate Student Society), she offered it a tacky aluminum foil ring that was previously owned by a baked potato. If diamonds are forever, tinfoil would presumably be for a few hours until she's done and it can be thrown away or recycled? She'd had her tetanus shots, but hadn't even dated the Hydrant. At least one member of her own slate had shown the Hydrant much more affection during the campaign, but that's another story. The bottom line is that I don't think Mia was very serious about the relationship. She did, however, invite it to speak to the UBC Board, an invitation it might have accepted were it capable of speech.

Shortly after the election, Hydrant and I encountered Campus Security. They caught up to us within half a block or so, and had some nice questions like "Where did you get that sir?", "Name and student number?", and "Where are you going with that sir?". You can imagine how my answer to the third one sounded, as Hydrant was heading off to speak to the Senate Elections Committee about an irregularity in its election. Thanks to subsequent run-ins with Campus Security, I understand that nobody saw fit to write up an incident report. These reports are posted on a board each morning, and I suppose this one would read somewhat similar to a little-green-men-parking-illegally report.

The BoG election had been briefly overturned due to a particularly spectacular election irregularity, but the Senate Elections Committee (chaired by the Dean of Law) was not convinced the irregularity affected this election result more than any other race, and let it stand. While Hydrant was there to offer its take on the irregularity and confess to its peripheral role, most of the questions it was asked dealt with exactly which loophole it was possible to push a Hydrant through. The good news? AMS council decided to ban slates, after the assorted disasters they managed to cause in 2004. The committee was too busy to close their loophole.

Hydrant attended the Board standing committees in November 2004, but was quite content to sit quietly at the back and observe. It was apparently not permissible to take photos in such a meeting, so this is not particularly well-documented. Somewhat ironically, it was permitted to remain in the room during Closed session -- I'm confident, however, that it will never divulge whatever confidential information it may have heard. To be fair, they did try to move it, they just gave up after less than 30cm.

2005: UBC Board of Governors

In the January 2005 elections, Hydrant gave it another try on its own (recall that slates had been banned). It did much better:

Quinn Omori 1165 Elected
Tim Louman-Gardiner 906 Elected
Chris Weston 904 Not elected
Fire Hydrant 900 Not elected
Fan Fan 342 Not elected

That's right, it was six votes away from being on UBC's Board of Governors, with support from about 43% of voters.

VPs with Hydrant
Left to right: Ben Pong, at his last meeting of a 6-year term as staff Board rep; VP External & Legal Affairs Dennis Pavlich; Fire Hydrant; Darren Peets; and VP Students Brian Sullivan.
Photo taken by Mia Amir.
With student Governors
Left to right: Quinn Omori, Mia Amir, Fire Hydrant, Darren Peets, and Tim Louman-Gardiner.
Photo taken by Dr. Martha Piper.
A week after this crushing defeat, Hydrant visited the Board. The Board secretary was not amused: "I wish you'd stop bringing that thing here!" It was told to wait in the hallway. Why? "It's a safety hazard!" "This is a crowded room!" Could it sit somewhere out of the way? "Yes! Out in the hallway!" It relented, and took up a position just outside the door.

At lunch break, it got a chance to chat with/harangue then-VPs Dennis Pavlich and Brian Sullivan (see photo). Then-President Martha Piper walked past, and got introduced to it (she hadn't heard of it). She didn't get harangued particularly, as hearing about its six-vote loss ought to have given her quite enough to think about. I should note that she wasn't overly popular with students at the time, largely for continuing policies introduced by her predecessor.  She announced her resignation at the next Board meeting, effective June 2006. Coincidence? Well, probably...

With then-President Martha Piper
Front row, left to right: Quinn Omori, Fire Hydrant and Tim Louman-Gardiner. Back row, left to right: UBC President Martha Piper, Brian Duong and Darren Peets.
Photo taken by Mia Amir.

2006: UBC Board of Governors

You'll no doubt be shocked to find that it rolled for Board a third time in January 2006. Note the result of the rematch with Tim -- FH came out ahead by 208 this time -- and have a close look at what won the paper ballotting. Sadly, Hydrant lost by 48 votes to Omar, to finish third. I was at a conference in California for half the campaign, which probably didn't help (although it worked for other candidates in the past).

Name Web Paper Total Result
Lauren Hunter 827 194 1021 Elected
Omar Sirri 785 180 965 Elected
Fire Hydrant 698 219 917 Not Elected
Tim Louman-Gardiner 560 149 709 Not elected
Jordan Bruneau 506 132 638 Not elected
Andy Nguyen

469 Not elected
Martin Sing

281 Not elected
Brian "Toaster" Fernandes

256 Not elected
Lauchlan Jankola

217 Not elected
Ricky Wong

159 Not elected

There are some really neat technicalities here. Lyle McMahon, 2004-2005 VP Admin of the AMS, had his nomination form rejected on the basis that he was neither a Canadian citizen nor a permanent resident -- his serving on Board would have violated then-Section 23(1)(c) of the University Act. However, neither the Act nor UBC's Senate Election Policy suggested that candidates ineligible to serve couldn't run. But the technicalities ran deeper.

In response to a request from BC's student societies (largely initiated by me, ironically enough), the province removed this restriction effective March 30, 2006. Lyle could actually have served if he were elected.  We knew this amendment was in the pipeline.

Two other amendments were made at the same time. You see, when the Act was changed to create UBC-Okanagan, Section 19, laying out the composition of the Board, had to be completely restructured. Unfortunately, Section 20, on terms of office, was overlooked (the second other amendment fixed an identical problem for Senate). As a result, all students on the Boards of UBC, SFU, UNBC, and UVic were serving 3-year terms instead of 1-year, as of April 1, 2005. The then UBC-V reps, Quinn and Tim, took office that very day and thus could have served through March 31, 2008 had the Act not been fixed (they could also have resigned to let the new crop of students in).

The election was held on the assumption that the law would be fixed, but Lyle was forbidden from running on the assumption it wouldn't be fixed.

And don't lose sight of the irony that a genuine student politician couldn't run, while a Fire Hydrant could. (Of course, Hydrant has the word "Vancouver" on its head, along with "Terminal City Iron Works", and an arrow labelled "Open", so its citizenship is not in doubt).

2008: AMS VP Academic & University Affairs

In 2008, as I was attempting to write my PhD thesis and escape, Hydrant decided to roll for office one final time, this time for AMS VP Academic (where there'd be some new jokes available). It finished last in a reasonably tight four-way race:

Alex Lougheed 732 Elected
Nate Crompton 695 Not elected
Rob McLean 619 Not elected
Fire Hydrant 559 Not elected

Vote totals were suppressed by roughly 40% due to factors beyond Hydrant's control, and there was some doubt over whether the outcome would be allowed to stand, due to a series of issues and voting irregularities.

It should be emphasized that Fire Hydrant did not make a mockery of this election. If this election was a mockery, that was attributable to the other candidates, the Elections Committee, Student Court, and/or AMS Council.

Parting Thoughts

Me a
The word politics is* a concatenation of the prefix poly, meaning many, with the root ticks, referring to bloodsucking parasites that get under your skin and give you Lyme disease. Thus, a politician is one who behaves like a multitude of ticks. It is important to note that Hydrant has not been successful to date, and would not behave like this even if elected.

*Not actually correct, but possibly amusing.