Thursday, December 21, 2006

OH-12 Questions and Speculation

So with a little distance and some time to kill waiting on an update from Bev Campbell (she was meeting with folks yesterday to determine options), my thoughts are drifting to 2008. When most folks think of 2008, they're thinking about the White House. Me, I'm wondering about OH-12.

We had a good candidate with a good staff and a bunch of cash (although not as much as the incumbent). We had one of the most consistent supporters of the President as an opponent when the President's approval rating was lower than Nixon's. We were fighting against a Republican in Ohio in a year where Republicans were associated with all manners of corruption, especially in Ohio. We had all of these things working for us in a district that saw John Kerry take 48% of the Presidential vote in '04.

Bob Shamansky lost to Pat Tiberi by 14%.
Edward S. Brown, spending about 1/10th of one percent of what the Shamansky Campaign spent, got 38% of the district vote in '04, compared to Shamansky's 43%.

So, I'm looking for some opinions. Is Tiberi beatable? If not, why were/are so many of us so mistaken about that fact? If so, what went wrong in this election, when we were running downhill? Can those things be fixed? Given the amount of time and effort Tiberi expended this go-round, is anyone interested in the partial victory of tying down resources (e.g., no Shamansky would have meant fat contributions to people like Deb Pryce)?

After answering any or all of those questions, who would you like to see run in '08?

'08 seems like it's a long way off, especially because here in the 20th State House district, the lights have not been extinguished in the 2006 election. But in 2008 the top of the ballot will be Prez, and then... Senator, gov, SOS/Treas/AG/Aud,... U.S. House.

So, these 18 races will be the #2 race on their ballots, and as such I expect them to start drawing attention early. And if it is decided that it's worth another run at PT, it might well take an 18-month effort.

So to recap: let me know if it's possible to win, if so how, and given how, who?

And if anyone knows an email address for Drew Tappan, if you could drop me a line at bluebexley AT gmail DOT com, I'd appreciate it.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Woodland Meadows one step closer to being razed.

A judge has declared Woodland Meadows a 'Public Nuisance,' and given the owners two months to bring the complex within code standards. That basically means securing the buildings and picking up trash, something the current caretakers view as a Sisyphean task.

Jorge Newbery, the owner of the complex, was a blogger for three days. He used his blog to lay out his side of the story. To paraphrase/summarize Newbery: I did my best, which was better than past owners, and would have been successful if not for repeated misfortune and the withdrawal of counted-on support. I'm willing to work with the city to salvage the situation as much as possible.

The person who wrote that letter was intelligent, perceptive, and told a plausible story. Perhaps he is not really the callous slumlord he's portrayed as being.

Y'know what? I don't really care.

Everyone, from me to the mayor, from neighbors to Newbery's own attorney, seems to agree: those 122 buildings are beyond salvaging. So I don't see the point in bringing them up to code. Knock them down. Worry about what to do with the vacant land later.

This is my best (uneducated) guess as to the overall situation: Mr. Newbery is facing financial devastation, and is holding on to every bit of negotiating power he has to wring something out of the property before he has to give it up and face his creditors. The city doesn't want to bail out someone else's failed investment to the tune of several million dollars. The city wants to take over the decision making process, without laying out $10M+, so they're making the case that Newbery can't or won't take on the responsibility. All the while, everyone waiting for Newbery to pay back loans or reimburse for services wants to be assured that they aren't going to end up eating the entire loss.

Meanwhile a 52 acre chunk of the Eastside festers.

I'm willing to listen to reasonable opinions on this, but the one I'm offering up is this: Taking on Woodland Meadows was a high-risk investment. Sometimes, high-risk investments don't work out. Actually, in the vast majority of cases, high-risk investments don't work out. That's why they're called high-risk.

Woodland Meadows didn't work out.

So, Mr. Newbery is going to have to deal with the loss. His creditors, likewise. Maybe it's a shame that this happened to a modern-day saint, or maybe it was only a matter of time before a smooth-talking slumlord's schemes caught up with him. Perhaps the Mayor and the media have been more than fair in propping things up for three years. Perhaps they are engaging in a petty personal attack.

I couldn't tell you, and let me repeat, I don't care.

Perhaps Mr. Newbery will emerge miracuously unscathed from the situation, perhaps he will be broken. It's not for me to have a preference there.

It is, as the judge declared, a Public Nuisance. Knock it down. Clean it up. Negotiate later.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Provisional Ballots

The Dispatch ran an article on the Voter ID law and provisional ballots yesterday. BSB called it a terrible article (and it was pretty bad, although in my random off-topic opinion the prize for awful article full of unexamined contradictions goes here).

Anyway, the first additional point that I think should be brought up is that the people who warned that the new law would cause a voting disaster didn't just complain, they actually did something about it.

The second is that the problems occured at the electoral pressure points:

...Franklin County election officials are concerned that the county led the state in the increase of provisional ballots this fall from 2004 — a jump from 2.7 percent to 5.1 percent.

(Franklin Co. BOE Director Matthew)Damschroder said it’s not clear why, but he speculated that one reason might be confusion about the ID requirement. For example, some voters who had a valid driver’s license with an old address were mistakenly given a provisional ballot when they should have received a regular ballot.

We've had several races in Franklin Co. that were close enough to recount, from the Campbell-McGregor race to the COTA levy, not to mention the nationally publicized OH-15. When we don't know why there were so many provisionals in Franklin Co., and we think that it may be because there was a difficulty in following the law, one loses a bit of confidence regarding whether or not the law was properly followed in counting the provisionals.

I've said it before, and I'll continue to say it - Matthew Damschroder has done a much better job this cycle than last in terms of keeping the public informed as to what's going on with the vote. I'd still like to see some stats, however, on how many provisionals were accepted and rejected by precinct, and the reasons for rejection. The info I have at this point doesn't add up, and these current statements only further pique my curiosity. While I can wish that this information would have been released when it was most useful for candidates, and hope that it is released before it is of absolutely no use to candidates (e.g. the Campbell Campaign's), I would maintain it is critical information in the ongoing process of making elections as transparent, fair and accurate as possible, so I do hope it will be released at some point in time, regardless.