Tweetbook CEO Katherine Nelzer, Incumbent President Angela Rosenthal, take 1st, 2nd place in 2018 Freedemian Presidential Election

QUENTINSBURGH- The official results of Monday’s election for 2018 Freedemian President have come in after a complete hand vote to check against the digital vote was completed.

Tweetbook CEO Katherine Nelzer came in first place with 31.8% of the vote, with incumbent Angela Rosenthal coming in second place with 29.9% of the vote. The two will have a runoff election on Saturday, November 4th to see which “winning candidate” gets the role of president and which candidate becomes the vice president.

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Results of the 2018 Freedemian Presidential Election. Nelzer and Rosenthal move on to a runoff election for the President seat (runner up becomes vice president).

Incumbent Vice President Patrick Houser had a strong showing, with 23.4% of the vote, and Vandover Mayor Lily Mae Clarington’s controversial campaign did quite well considering, raking in 13.8% of the vote in a very difficult field of candidates. Economist Derrick Barson, despite having dropped out, got about 0.8% of the votes, with Actor Craig Schulderman (who had also dropped out) snatched up 0.1% of the vote.

Some of the remaining 0.1% or so of votes were scattered among many, including a couple familiar names like temporary security committee leader Marco Nelson and Graham State Executive Diane Wooten-Whitaker, both of whom ran for the vice presidential seat in 2016.

Runoff for the “top of the ticket”- Possibly a very tight race

Even just looking at the numbers at face value, it already looks like a close race. Nelzer won 1st place with only 1.9% more of the vote than Rosenthal received.

However, there’s also another factor that makes this even more open to change- with the runoffs, the voters who voted for someone other than Rosenthal or Nelzer will have to choose between the two. With the exception of Barson’s 0.8% that would likely go to Nelzer, there’s about 38% of the votes cast that acts as a near tossup.

Complicating matters further, earlier polls and exit polls imply VP Houser took a massive amount of votes from Rosenthal, considering he presented himself as the other experienced candidate as the current Vice President, and those votes could be enough to sway the election in Rosenthal’s favor. Add onto that the fact that polls showed among all voters 89% strongly trusted Rosenthal’s leadership and 92% believed the country was moving forward under her lead, and Nelzer could be facing a perfect storm.

Rosenthal and Nelzer are both widely popular, and it’s going to be extremely close. With that many votes up for grabs, there is no guarantee that Nelzer will retain her narrow lead.

Meet the last 2 candidates one last time:

Incumbent Angela Rosenthal is currently one of the highest esteemed presidents in Freedemian history, and was the favorite for reelection early in the campaign. Her moves to make citizenship easier to obtain for law-abiding individuals and families; her spending reallocation act transferring money from military spending and elections to healthcare, infrastructure, and education; and her pushes for Freedemia to take its stand on the global stage in technology, innovation, and tourism have been huge steps forward for the country. Rosenthal is actually the reason for the shorter campaign period, as she pushed for election reform earlier in her term including a drastic reduction in funding for campaigns.

Katherine Nelzer has become a familiar household name. Founder and CEO of the social media site TweetBook, Nelzer has become more politically outspoken in recent years, especially pertaining to the growing global cyber-security threat. Nelzer believes that Freedemia is one of the most likely worldwide to be a victim of a large cyber-attack, due to its large and growing global footprint, minimal military action, and lackluster national cyber-security protections. “A pacifist society can still be a secure one. Cyber warfare is a thing, and we need to be prepared.”

Nelzer also believes that in this changing society technology is key. She supports Houser’s pushes for things like nationwide wifi and data, and, like Barson, believes incentivizing the tech industry could be one of the most important moves to help make Freedemia even more of a world leader. She cites Stepstone Technology and BuyGolly.com as two of the successes she hopes to see repeat in tech innovations nationwide, and hopes, like Houser, to see Freedemia become a champion of smart cities as a global example. Nelzer is open to the concept of public-private partnerships to fulfill the infrastructure and technology plans, with the goal of shrinking the government and further growing the economy.

Both candidates have announced plans to move forward with ideas proposed by Patrick Houser, including large investments in green infrastructure and modern solutions for renewable energy such as wind turbines, water turbines off the coast, solar farms, more desalination plants, and lining motorways with solar panels and wind turbines.

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PWN Politics- Recapping the events leading up to Monday’s Freedemian Presidential Election

QUENTINSBURGH- Here’s a recap of the events that led up to Monday’s election.

September 5th, 2017- Schluderman drops out, endorsing Nelzer. 5 candidates remaining in the race

Actor and comedian Craig Schluderman dropped out of the race Tuesday with a television and auto phone call announcement endorsing Katherine Nelzer.

September 15th, 2017- Freedemian legislature decides to delay the election two Mondays while they discussed a bill for Ranked Choice Voting in National Elections

QUENTINSBURGH- Seemingly out of the blue, the House of Populus decided to finally take on a bill proposed many times before to save the country money by incorporating ranked choice voting into presidential elections, thus eliminating the top 2 runoff. Due to possible conflicts of interest with both President Rosenthal and Vice President Houser running for president, the House of Decisions voted for the bill to be able to pass if both the House of Populus and the House of Equal Representation passed the bill with more than 65% of the vote.

September 17th, 2017- Poll released shows Clarington taking votes from Houser, Rosenthal and Nelzer neck and neck, Barson stagnating at 3%

QUENTINSBURGH- Getting closer to election day, in early September, a poll released showed that with Nelzer and Clarington gaining more support, Houser is starting to struggle, dropping into third place.

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September 19th, 2017- Freedemian legislature votes to delay voting/discussion on the bill until after the general election but proceed in January with goal of approving Ranked Choice Voting for all future elections, ending the Freedemian tradition of runoff elections

QUENTINSBURGH- A resolution passed with 44 out of 47 Poplators and 32 out of 33 Representatives, stating that Ranked Choice voting is worth moving forward with at a later time for the 2022 election, but that due to possible conflict of interest with the election having been so close, they would delay moving forward with crafting the full proposal until January under the new president.

September 22nd, 2017- Oddly no campaign events scheduled for Barson, raising suspicion that he may be dropping out

FRANKLINSBURGH- Several news outlets observed that the newest press releases for Barson didn’t actually have any public events planned. Often in the past this has been a sign that a candidate is strongly considering dropping out of a race and endorsing an opponent.

September 27th, 2017-  4 candidates remaining, as Derrick Barson drops out

QUENTINSBURGH- Economist Derrick Barson dropped out of the race on Wednesday Sept 27th, announcing his decision at an event in Sean Bond Park in Quentinsburgh. He didn’t explicitly endorse any candidate in the race, but he did express confidence in Patrick Houser and Katherine Nelzer especially, based on discussions they had over various issues. “Both candidates have proven they are willing to work with private companies to stimulate the economy while also giving our country a 21st century infrastructure for the green and digital age,”  he mentioned in his speech. Barson also expressed confidence in President Rosenthal’s leadership, though he did express hope that she would consider the newer ideas her opponents have suggested. He also gave a shoutout to Clarington and Nelzer for being open to discussions about reducing penalties for victimless crimes in Freedemia.

September 30th, 2017- Last debate before election shows a strong showing by Clarington, but not enough for her to catch up- meanwhile in polling, Nelzer’s lead growing, Houser catching up to Rosenthal

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PERSONSBORO- The final debate showed discussion on the bigger issues such as infrastructure and military.

Clarington gained a lot of support on the military side- despite standing by her controversial 85% standing military reduction, she did express, for the first time, support for Katherine Nelzer’s drastic increase in cybersecurity measures and incorporating them under the military umbrella. “I don’t think Freedemia is threatened by actual physical military forces. We’ve pretty much successfully stayed out of combat for our entire lifespan as a country. But our lack of cybersecurity protections is a real threat that could destroy everything we’ve worked so hard for over the years. I’d be happy to have a large military if that military was focused on protecting our country in the digital age.”

Clarington even had something to add herself: “I’d feel it would be a good idea to also look into the threat of biowarfare and medical threats like viruses that could be spread by enemies. I don’t think it would be in our military persay, but it could be a major part.” Nelzer wholeheartedly agreed with the biowarfare consideration.

Řots Government approves construction of new international airport near Nekkar

(Nekkar, 7 July 2017) – The government of Řots has approved the contruction of a new international airport near the capital, Nekkar. This was announced by traffic minister Gerben Arva Larin this morning. The new airport will replace the existing one, which has been considered too small and out of date. “The facilities at the current airport are not of this time anymore”, the minister said. “Expanding and modernising it at its present location is not possible according to experts, so the government decided to select another site and build a new airport from scratch.”

This new site will be in the province of Māp, east of the towns of Īssikem and Sorteka approximately 35 kilometers from the city centre of Nekkar, where an area will be ‘cut out’ and added as an exclave to the province of Nekkar. The new airport should attract commercial, business, and cargo flights and will include a large business area; the government intends to promote Nekkar as an alternative international hub.

Man dies after accidentally walking onto Line 2 Subway Tracks near Family Monument

QUENTINSBURGH- A young man in Quentinsburgh passed this morning in a tragic accident after walking onto at-grade express subway tracks near the Family Monument metro station and getting hit by a line 2 metro train.

Jared Leederman and some of his friends were hanging out near the bridge over Henry Stream on Fredrick Street when they went to walk down to the stream. Jared’s other friends’ said they had crossed over the tracks before and never had any problems. However, this time Jared made the mistake of walking out right as the line 2X express train was leaving the tunnel, hitting Jared.

The 2 and 2X come out of the downtown tunnel in that area and travel across ground level on a short stretch of track before going up on the elevated structure that it runs on for the rest of the line. QUARTA announced plans to fence in the area around where the train leaves the tunnel. Currently it is surrounded by a short railing, warning signs, and vegetation.

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The Line 2 did continue running, though line 2X express trains would be slowly redirected onto local tracks, causing delays. Delays are expected to continue through this evening, with all trains stopping at the Family Monument station.

PWN would like to remind everyone, when it comes to metro and railroad tracks, stay off and stay safe.

QUARTA announces new alignment for Phase II of QLine metro route 10, construction shortened 2km, saving around 150 million Freedins and moving up completion date to 2019

QUENTINSBURGH- As construction proceeds with construction of the elevated track structure up Apex Drive North and  March Point Road about halfway completed, QUARTA has officially changed the final alignment of the QLine Metro local Line 10.

Originally, the line was to proceed up March Point Road all the way to M. Williams Parkway, merging with Line 5 and running out to terminate in Matherspark Village alongside lines 1, 1x, 5, and 5x. However, this was a slight problem. Tracks in the QLine system are only made to support 3 train lines at a time. Line 10 would be the third local line running in the Matherspark Village area, and the tracks technically would have been able to handle it, but local line 1 uses an immense amount of capacity as one of the most used lines in the system, which means some sort of extra tracks after the “merge” may have been necessary to support the additional local line 10.

The primary purpose of the merge with line 5 was to provide a final link back to line 1, as line 10 was built largely to help take some riders off the crowded lines 1 and 14, as well as line 5 which was slowly becoming more crowded.

What QUARTA decided to do instead of the merge with line 5 was to go up March Point Road up until Hinespoint Road and merge with line 11 to run local along Tortoise Ridge Road out to Tortoise Point Towne Center to terminate at Capitol Boulevard with lines 3, 3x, and 11. This realignment connects line 10 with lines 1, 1x, 14 and 14x at Hesperic /Tortoise Ridge, lines 6 at Christian/Tortoise Ridge, lines 2 and 2x at Tortoise Ridge/Bond, and lines 3 and 3x at the terminus, creating far more connections than the original alignment.

The new alignment is also cheaper. By eliminating the 2km bridge between Hinespoint and M. Williams Pkwy, QUARTA saved about f‘150,000,000 on Phase II of Line 10. The new version will be finished by April 2019 in contrast to the mid-2020 originally estimated.

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Opinion: Constructing QUARTA’s Trams was the biggest waste of taxpayer money in recent Quentins History

QUENTINSBURGH- The following is an opinion editorial by recently hired QDOT transit planner Greg Sullivan, who specializes in helping find cost-effective transit/roadway solutions. The contents do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of PWN News.

There’s been a lot of talk recently about QUARTA potentially wasting taxpayer money with a few of their big infrastructure projects.

A lot of the discussion arose again when QUARTA announced plans to put emergency call buttons at every QLine Metro entrance, in every metro station, in/at every park and ride, and at all major bus stops and transit centers. I think this is largely unnecessary. Quentinsburgh is one of the safest cities in the world, and QUARTA is one of the safest transit systems in the world. Most metro stations already have these buttons on the platforms, and transit centers and park and rides usually have either existing buttons, a staffed building, or phones that already serve this role. But it’s an understandable move. QUARTA has been safe for years, and it seems like they’re making sure that continues to be the case. I still think that the cost may be worth more than the benefit in a system already known for safety, though.

I think there’s also a strong argument that QLine metro lines 11 and 12 (constructed originally as lines 10 and 11 and running most recently as lines 9 and 11) were a waste , as the area seems like bus rapid transit, like QLine 15 off the coast, may have been a more effective and more reasonably priced alternative that would have worked very well in the area. While the area is growing, it’s still not big enough to have truly needed a heavy rail line, even if it’s just a local one. These lines could have been built as BRT and simply rebuilt as a light rail as density and demand grew enough to warrant it.

But there’s one part of the QUARTA system that is the single biggest waste in the system’s history, and that’s the construction of the 3 stand-alone trams; the PlaneTrain, the Fairgrounds Tram, and the Geolympiad Shuttle.

For one, these trams aren’t linked to the main metro system track-wise. They don’t use the same train cars (in fact, they don’t even use the same company! Tram cars are made by Starmobility, while subway cars come from Chang y Sainz) and thus cannot be linked into the main system. You can see evidence of that along the Geolympiad Shuttle, where the tram LITERALLY runs ALONGSIDE the metro line 2 for two whole kilometers. That’s TWO MILES OF REDUNDANT TRACK. There’s also a one-station redundant stretch along Clayton Road.

This also leads to “island routing”, or lines that literally seem to go nowhere productive and can’t be expanded without certain parts being redundant. Take the Fairgrounds Tram, for example. QUARTA has been looking for a way to extend it and make it more effective for years. The problem? The subway system surrounds the tram and serves the area well enough that there’s nowhere to expand the tram without it being an even bigger waste of money than it already is.

But the biggest problem is the fact that PRACTICALLY NO ONE RIDES THEM.

As implied by the names of the three trams, the Fairgrounds Tram, Geolympiad Shuttle, and PlaneTram, these lines were built for very specific venues and in some cases, very specific events as well.

The Geolympiad Shuttle tram got huge amounts of riders DURING the 2016 Pancontinental Games in Quentinsburgh, as visitors/spectators used the tram to get back and forth from venue to venue. Ridership was easily in the hundreds of thousands. But that ridership only lasted through the Geolympiad itself. Currently, the most ridership on the entire line is Read University students using it as an extra way to get across campus or a way to connect to nearby metro lines that do not come far into campus. A little extra amount comes from those going to Quentinsburgh Firestorm baseball games, or the Horizon Plaza Mall and Hotel Complex (also built for the Geolympiad). Ridership today? only 5,000- on a good day. To make matters worse, the area is already surrounded by subway routes. Something as simple as a couple infill stations and a really reliable bus circulator could have done the trick, for the Geolympiad and even today for the occasional rider.

The Fairgrounds Tram is even worse. There was no real big event that warranted even the consideration of such a cost-ineffective transit project. The Quentins State Fair has seen declining visitors year after year, especially as Thrill Planet becomes more accessible, and less and less events are being hosted at the Quentins Fairgrounds. Yet we have a tram that was built especially for the Quentins Fairgrounds. Ridership, at best, is around 100 on a good, non-fair day, most going to either a small expo at the fairgrounds or trying to transfer between QLine Metro lines 1/14 and line 2 without going downtown. During the state fair that number can reach as high as 500 daily (yayyyyyyyyyyy *sarcasm*). The tram was built with the capacity of handling 15,000 passengers or more daily. A bus could have EASILY done the job.

The PlaneTram is easily the most effective and cost-worthy tram of the three, being used by hundreds of thousands of passengers every day. I wouldn’t call it a waste persay. But the same need could have been easily and effectively met by a frequently running airport shuttle bus, without the cost of new construction.

To be clear, I’m not referring to QUARTA’s small but successful trolley system. The Downtown Trolley has been running surprisingly well after some route tweaks, the James Street Trolley has greatly improved surface transportation in downtown Quentinsburgh, and the Waterside Park Tram (which, ironically, is actually a trolley) provides a quick connection to Waterside Park Isle and to Quentinsburgh Beach. All three have proven to be valuable assets to the system.

But the three standalone trams, as well as the costs of continued operation, have been a weight around QUARTA’s ankles for a long time, and will continue to be until they figure out what’s the best financial decision for the trams.

 

Freedemian National Court rules in Walden v. VAULT that water cannot be included in “no food, no drink” policies, solidifies water’s status as an essential right and need

QUENTINSBURGH– The Freedemian National Court made a long awaited ruling during a special judicial session on Saturday in the case Walden v. VAULT. The ruling mainly ruled that water cannot be included in “no food or drink” policies, including “no outside drinks allowed” policies, based on a court case between VAULT (Vandover And Urban Laneston Transit) and an asthmatic passenger.

QUARTA, Quentinsburgh’s transit system, stopped including water in their “no food, no drink” policies back around 2013 when it became clear during an abnormally dry and hot season that the hundred-degree temperatures (Fahrenheit) and difficult access of water in some places was part of the reason heat strokes and other exhaustion/dehydration related illnesses were so rampant in Freedemia. A couple other Freedemian transit systems, such as PLATA in Personsboro/Leonard, GoFARTher in Franklinsburgh, and LART in Trenchent/San Grande, followed this lead, which would lead to a lot of businesses and school systems also changing their policies similarly.

However, VAULT was not one of these transit systems, which would end up leading to this case. In July 2016, on one of the hottest days in the year, Maurice Walden ran to catch a VAULT bus to get to work with a bottle of water. While he was allowed on the bus, when an out of breath Walden tried to drink some of his water, the driver (who will remain unnamed) asked him to follow the “no food, no drink” policy. Walden, an asthmatic, attempted to explain that he needed the water after running to catch the bus, but the driver made Walden put the water away anyway. Walden would have an asthma attack a few minutes later.

While he ended up being okay, Walden reported the way he was treated to VAULT, only to get a letter saying that he had been in violation of the “no food or drink” policy. Walden would sue VAULT, and over the course of the year the case would make its way up to the National Court.

The ruling in favor of Walden asserted that water is a “fundamental right and an essential need”, and that the only times it is reasonable to include water in a “no food or drink” policy is if its a location like a science lab where drinking water could result in the direct harm of the person drinking. This is a pretty big deal, and solidifies through the courts the importance of easy access to water. President Angela Rosenthal has been trying to emphasize the importance of water and restroom access for a while, passing WAWAA and the slightly more controversial RAWAA, but this is the first time that the judiciary upheld the importance.

Vice president Patrick Houser praised the decision as a huge step forward. “This day marks a step towards a time where Freedemia becomes, even moreso, a world leader in fundamental rights and environmental consciousness”, he said during a brief remark after the ruling. Houser has been known as a champion of moderate environmentalism since his election in 2016 to vice president, advocating for a faster move to public transportation, more reliable renewable and green energy, easier access to water, and higher standards in green architecture and design.