Thursday, June 14, 2007

Cranking out Coleman Noise

If I was a right-wing blogger, this is the template for what I'd be writing. Left-Wing hypocrites making excuses for cronyism and corruption, etc. etc.

I'm not a right-wing blogger, I'm one of those lefties, so I might be expected instead to talk about the pity and sympathy owed to Frankie and the speed and transparency with which an investigation was done. Truth be told, it would actually be the easier story to tell. The Ohio GOP points out that Bob Ney had an alcohol problem. Um, guys, I'd much rather Mr. Ney had been passed out in a Motel 6 on the taxpayer's dime than taking payoffs from Jack Abramoff in skyboxes. Maybe that's another one of those left/right things. Furthermore and anyway, I don't care how you counter-spin it, the Colemans and Lee Fisher have both taken big hits from this, and if keeping one's friends and associates from taking such hits is one's goal, this is not how you do it. This was as rapid and ruthless as fairness and propriety would allow.

But, you know, the other side gets one close enough to right that I'm gonna use it as my jumping off point:

"In the end, this case is still not about Frankie Coleman. It's about using government resources to help out a friend and then ignoring the warning signs that led to that friend allegedly engaging in illegal activity."

They're right. Lee Fisher has known Frankie Coleman and considers her to be a friend. He knew she had a problem with alcohol. He knew she had a history of not showing up for work. He hired her anyway. Now why would he do a stupid thing like that? It certainly doesn't seem to be for money or influence or any sort of quid pro quo, the usual suspects when a government official engages in politically hazardous hires.

I've got a guess.

I'm guessing, like the GOP blogger says, that he thought he could help. I'm guessing he thought a 9-5 job tailored to her exact qualifications would be what she needed to re-engage with the world of the sober. I'm guessing he saw in her the potential to really help the DoD if she got herself together. And I'm guessing that she played a big role in convincing him that all of that was true. I'm guessing that Lee ignored one of the most basic pieces of wisdom noted by many but by few so eloquently as William S. Burroughs: Never trust a junkie.

Wouldn't it have been great if it had all worked out? But it didn't. She screwed Lee over. She screwed Ted over. She screwed the ODP over. She was given a second chance (probably not her first second chance), and she blew it. She lied and took the people who tried to help down with her. That's what addicts tend to do.

She's getting treatment. At some point she'll be challenged to take responsibility for the damage she's caused in people's lives. She says she already has. I doubt it. Someday she might. For now, others will deal with that damage. Lee Fisher's judgment and credibility will be called into question. Ted Strickland's judgment and credibility will be called into question. I can't say I blame anyone for trying to help Frankie Coleman. In fact, I'd be a lot more disappointed in a person who didn't. And alcoholism certainly causes people to behave in a manner inconsistent with their morals and values, so I'm not trying to say that Frankie is a bad person who doesn't care about the people around her. But she acted badly, and she needs to understand that before she can make a real apology. And the administration fucked up. They have done what they can to make up for it, but to a certain extent what's done is done.

So, this is not about liberal bloggers spinning, or Dems having the pay-to-play corruption and cronyism that the GOP spent years perfecting. And if this were any other workforce development employee, it would have been strictly an internal workplace issue. Leave it to the right wing to vastly overplay their hand. But circling back to:

"In the end, this case is still not about Frankie Coleman. It's about using government resources to help out a friend and then ignoring the warning signs that led to that friend allegedly engaging in illegal activity."

Well, close enough. Walk it off, team.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Meatspace Encounters

Between being out of town and cramming my paid gig work into what's left of my Ohio time, the blogging suffers. But I do actually get to see more folks up close and personal.

Two interesting folks:

1) A young woman standing across High St. from the Statehouse who kept repeating that she was "an independent contractor" when I asked if she was working with Citizens for Community Standards, Progress Ohio, etc. as she gathered my signature to put the stripper bill repeal on the ballot. I asked her who gave her the petitions to circulate. She repeated again that she was an independent contractor. Oddly enough, the way in which women are stripped of nearly all typical employee safeguards and protections at strip clubs is by being labelled "independent contractors" as opposed to club employees. I signed, as I like to see petition drives for ballot access succeed generally, but the evasiveness really turned me off. I still don't know exactly where she came from.

(I've heard a lot about where volunteers for the GIRFOF drive are recruited, but I've never been approached by one other than at the meeting last month. Sure, a score of 1 to 0 is pretty meaningless, but anecdotally, the strippers seem to be outhustling the teachers.)

2) Anyway, the other encounter happened at a bit of a distance in Burlington, Vermont. The Church St. Marketplace is a pedestrian mall with high-end boutiques and hippies selling hemp jewelry. In amongst the brunchtime crowd on Sunday Morning was a campaign table set up for Obama '08, staffed by two middle-aged women. They had signs for free bumper stickers, and they had other literature, but I couldn't really tell what, because both times I passed the table there were too many people crowded around the table for me to get a good look. Vermont's primary is on March 4,2008. Same as Ohio's.