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Judge Slaps an Injunction on Delaware County Dems Over Election Board Change

A Common Pleas judge ruled on Wednesday against Delaware County over rule changes for appointing a minority member to the Board of Elections.

Judge James P. Bradley granted an injunction sought by Delaware County GOP Chairman Frank Agovino and the Delaware County Republican Party, saying an ordinance passed by the all-Democrat County Council is “null and void” and cannot be enforced.

The council passed an ordinance on Jan. 18 that said it could reject appointments to the Board of Elections made by the Republican Party chairman.

By law, the minority party is entitled to representation on the Board of Elections. The now-moot ordinance said the council could reject a list of three nominees given by the minority party chairman. If they do not provide another list within 30 days, the “Council may appoint any member of the minority party,” the ordinance change said.

“Under the election code, the council shall appoint a minority member to the Board of Elections from a list supplied by Agovino as the minority party chair,” the judge wrote. “The purpose of the election code is to guarantee minority representation on the county Board of Election; however, the current ordinance impermissibly affords Delaware County Council a veto power over the minority party’s nomination to the Board of Elections, which unduly expands the powers conferred upon council by the election code.”

Wally Zimolong, the lawyer representing the Delaware County Republicans, said he was pleased with the decision.

“The ordinance was as lawless as it was arrogant. The Pennsylvania Election Code guarantees minority representation on boards of election and gives the minority party chair the power to appoint the minority member,” Zimolong said. “Here, by giving themselves veto power over the GOP’s nominee, the Delaware County Democrats engaged in an illegal power grab, which the court put to an end. Democrats like to claim they are pillars of democracy in the electoral process; this case shows that is scantly the truth.”

Agovino said, “No one believes that one party rule is democratic. Unfortunately, we reside in a county that is exactly that. The current regime of Five Democrat County Council members chose to thwart the minority party’s only seat within county government by attempting to take away the authority of the Chairman to appoint one member of the Board of Elections.”

“After presenting the evidence in a Court of Law, our desire for fairness was upheld and the authority to appoint will remain with the minority Chairman. While this is a matter for the Republican Party today, someday the pendulum will swing. Ultimately, this is about fairness for all residents of Delaware County and we are thrilled that democracy was victorious today,” he added.

Republican Joy Schwartz, who ran for a seat on the county council in 2023, said, “Congratulations to the Delco GOP, Chair Frank Agovino, and attorney Wally Zimolong for prevailing in their petition against Delaware County Council’s efforts to weaken the process of selection of the minority party’s appointment to the Board of Elections. This is a victory for the rule of law and due process. It places an appropriate check on the otherwise unrestrained power of the majority party in Delaware County and exposes their nefarious power grab and their politicization of elections.”

Schwartz was among a handful of people who questioned the changes to the election code at the Jan. 18 council meeting. At that session, Director of Elections James Allen downplayed the changes to the ordinance as updating “archaic” language. Councilwoman Christine Reuther described them as mere “housekeeping.”

Shwartz praised “Delco Election Deepdivers, a grassroots election integrity group that investigates election procedures,” and brought the changes to the attention of the GOP.

Adrienne Marofsky, a spokeswoman for Delaware County, said county officials are still analyzing the ruling, and no decision has been made on whether to appeal.

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KING: Artificial Intelligence — the Greatest Disruptor Ever?

To rephrase Leon Trotsky: You may not be interested in artificial intelligence, but artificial intelligence is interested in you.

Suddenly, long-rumored and awaited, AI is upon the world—a world that isn’t ready for the massive and forever disruption it threatens.

AI could be the greatest disruptor in history, surpassing the arrival of the printing press, the steam engine, and electricity. Those all led to good things.

At this time, the long-term effects of AI are just speculative, but they could be terrifying, throwing tens of millions out of work and making a mockery of truth, rendering pictures and printed words unreliable.

There is no common view on the impact of AI on employment. When I ask, the scientists working on it point to the false fears that once greeted automation. In reality, jobs swelled as new products needed new workers.

My feeling is that the job scenario has yet to be proven with AI. Automation added to work by making old work more efficient and creating things never before enjoyed, and, in the process, opening up new worlds of work.

AI, it seems to me, is all set to subtract from employment, but there is no guarantee it will create great, new avenues of work.

An odd development, spurred by AI, might be in a revival of unionism. More people might want to join a union in the hope that this will offer job security.

The endangered people are those who do less-skilled tasks, like warehouse laborers or fast-food servers. Already Wendy’s, the fast-food chain, is working to replace order-takers in the drive- through lanes with AI-operated systems, mimicking human beings.

Also threatened are those who may find AI can do much, if not all, of their work as well as they do. They include lawyers, journalists, and musicians.

Here the AI impact could, in theory, augment or replace our culture with new creations; superior symphonies than those composed by Beethoven or better country songs than those by Kris Kristofferson.

I asked the AI-powered Bing search engine a question about Adam Smith, the 18th-century Scottish economist. Back came three perfect paragraphs upon which I couldn’t improve. I was tempted to cut-and-paste them into the article I was writing. It is disturbing to find out you are superfluous.

Even AI’s creators and those who understand the technology are alarmed. In my reporting, they range from John E. Savage, An Wang professor emeritus of computer science at Brown University, to Stuart J. Russell, professor of computer science at the University of California, Berkeley, and one of the preeminent researchers and authors on AI. They both told me that scientists don’t actually know how AI works once it is working. There is general agreement that it should be regulated.

Russell, whose most recent book is “Human Compatible: Artificial Intelligence and the Problem of Control,” was one of a group of prominent leaders who signed an open letter on March 29 urging a six-month pause in AI development until more is understood—leading, perhaps, to regulation.

And there’s one rub: How do you regulate AI? Having decided how to regulate AI, how would it be policed? By its nature, AI is amorphous and ubiquitous. Who would punish the violators and how?

The public became truly aware of AI as recently as March 14 with the launch of GPT-4, the successor to GPT-3, which is the technology behind the chatbot ChatGPT. Billions of people went online to test it, including me.

The chatbot answered most of the questions I asked it more or less accurately, but often with some glaring error. It did find out about a friend of my teenage years, but she was from an aristocratic English family, so there was a paper trail for it to unearth.

Berkeley’s Russell told me that he thinks AI will make 2023 a seminal year “like 1066  [the Norman Conquest of England].”

That is another way of saying we are balanced on the knife-edge of history.

Of course, you could end AI, but you would have to get rid of electricity — hardly an option.