Saturday, May 10, 2008

More ODP Notes

I recorded 1-2 hours of audio, including a few nice snippets. Unfortunately, I'm unable to post it right now due to technical difficulties. Epth.

Before things got juicy this morning, Redfern announced the Convention-to-Convention Challenge, to recruit and train 10,000 new neighborhood leaders between now and the August Dem Convention, creating the largest statewide network of neighborhood leaders in the country.

During the convention this afternoon, Sherrod Brown came on stage to 70's funk. I was amused. He promised a New Progressive Era beginning in 2009, like the 1910's and 1960's.

Rich Cordray told all local, House, and Senate candidates to study everything Ted Strickland was doing, campaign on the issues Ted is emphasizing, and campaign on the need to give Ted support in these endeavors. I've never heard a coattail strategy made so explicit.

Lee Fisher announces that "Economic Development Begins With A Healthy Pregnant Mother," which sounded a little better in context, but not quite as much as one might hope.

Strickland got loud applause when he talked about the need to "clean our own house" if necessary. He ended with a long, quite funny 'prophecy' concerning the attendees experiences on election day, including flipping "just out of spite... to Fox News" to watch a tear roll down ashen-faced Bill O'Reilly's cheek as he announces that Ohio has gone blue. He was great with the crowd.

And one final note... While Ted was talking, a woman was walking through the area where I was standing, passing out stickers...

Enjoy your weekend.

Speculating on Supers - Updated

Update - Shortly after I posted this, an AP story containing a conversation with Dave Regan hit the wires, in which he confirmed his support for Obama. Also, as I added in an update to another post, the conversation I report in the next paragraph was the result of a 'misunderstanding.' After I posted this and returned to the convention center, that misunderstanding was clarified somewhat. My new understanding was that the supers were intended to be 'balanced,' by which I inferred 'collectively neutral.' The implication was that Regan was obviously for Obama (as anyone would assume from the info below), meaning that Bashein is most likely leaning toward Clinton. Treat that as totally 'unconfirmed' for now.

I was told that the new supers were neutral, would stay neutral, and when I joked that their primary qualification was the ability to stay neutral? was encouraged in that belief. That may all be true. And in fact, all of the following may simply be a case of mistaken identity. Or correct identity, but meaningless. Nevertheless...

May 10: "Dave Reagan" named as add-on unpledged delegate by Chris Redfern.

May 7: "Dave Regan" steps down as head of SEIU Local 1199 to join the international union as executive vice-president.

Feb 15: SEIU endorses Obama. "Openers" reports:

Dave Regan, president of Columbus-based District 1199 of SEIU, said Obama has the "potential to unite America in a new and unique way" and "transform America and Ohio."

"This is not a decision against Sen. Clinton," Regan said. "We have great respect for her. This is not a signal that we don't greatly appreciate the support she has given us over the years."

FWIW, William Craig Bashein, the other new super, is a labor lawyer and was a big Edwards guy.

Meeting Notes

The big stories are here and here. In other notes:

Matthew Barrett's replacement will be decided on Tuesday. Redfern states that there are multiple qualified candidates, including elected officials with high name ID, who are interested in running.

Redfern first mentions Barrett and Dann, then pauses to introduce Rich Cordray, then goes back to talking about Barrett and Dann. Hidden message? I'll have audio later.

The Women's Caucus had a concurring opinion inserted in the resolution, which could have been written by Jill. Um, Jill...?

The 5/4 letter from the bigwigs was read in its entirety before the resolution that, among other things, expressed total support for the letter. This seems to be a return to the tough talk on impeachment (although "immediately" is apparently a vaguer term than many realize). In Pho's terms, the letter was a big bet. Still in those terms, I thought it was all-in, which is a big difference in terms of how the hand plays out. I'm starting to think that this same difference in perception exists elsewhere.

RESOLUTION 2008 - (Marc Dann)

WHEREAS, Attorney General Marc Dann's actions have irreparably harmed his ability to effectively serve the people of our great state; and,

WHEREAS, The work of the Office of the Attorney General matters more, and is far more important, than any one single individual. In many, many cases it is all that stands between the people and the powerful; and,

WHEREAS, Our Democratic statewide leaders have unanimously called for Dann's resignation, and have made it clear that if he chooses not to resign, Democratic members of the Ohio House of Representatives would move to seek his impeachment; and,

WHEREAS, The Ohio Democratic Women's Caucus joins the call for Dann's resignation because it believes that women in the workplace need to be respected, valued, and free from intimidation.

THEREFORE LET IT BE RESOLVED, The Ohio Democratic Party no longer recognizes Marc Dann as an endorsed Democratic Statewide officeholder; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED THAT, Marc Dann will no longer be considered an ex-officio member of the Ohio Democratic Party Executive Committee and thus no longer entitled to the full rights and privileges of such membership; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED THAT, Marc Dann is removed as an ex-officio delegate to the 2008 Democratic State Party Convention; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED THAT, The Executive Committee of the Ohio Democratic Party calls on Marc Dann to immediately resign his position as Attorney General of the State of Ohio, and puts itself in support of the letter signed by the statewide Democratic officials dated May 4, 2008.

Redfern Names Two New Superdelegates - Updated

I'm blogging the State Party Meeting/Convention today (maybe I'll run into Nick from BSB...). After a slow start, a couple of big stories. I'll post in a minute about the official kicking of Marc Dann to the curb, but first, Party Chair Chris Redfern has named, and the party approved, the two "add-on" unpledged (super) delegates from Ohio:

Dave Reagan
William Craig Bashein

I'm told they will stay neutral, just like Chris Redfern.

Update: There appears to have been a possible misunderstanding (possibly mine, possibly not) - Once the delegates have been named, there is no injunction on them to stay neutral (in fact, as I reported elsewhere, at least one is almost certainly not neutral). I've heard but can't confirm that the delegates were chosen to be collectively neutral, which implies that Bashein is a likely Clinton supporter. I'm sure others will follow this up more thoroughly.

If anyone knows anything else about these guys, let me know.

Friday, May 09, 2008

So much for having their backs...

I agreed with Eric 100% when he wrote this:

Quick note to Bennett and the ORP: THIS is how you deal with a scandalous officeholder in your party. Swift. Decisive. Correct. So don’t get too happy because it’s NOT what your party did when confronted with a Culture of Corruption. Not what you did at all…

Which is why I wrote my post yesterday hoping to stop folks from leaving the entire leadership of the party hanging out to dry.

Well now, who looks like the buffoon? That would be me. From the Dispatch:

"I have no real role in the impeachment process, and I think the letter indicated that Democrats would file an impeachment resolution," Brunner said. "I think that statement was really more on behalf of the legislative folks."

Gov. Ted Strickland said there are grounds for impeachment, but he also kept the door open for not going through the removal process if the evidence doesn't warrant it.

"I've expressed my opinion, but there's a lot of research going on, and if there isn't very credible evidence that something of a serious nature that can be established occurred, then I certainly would not support impeachment," Strickland said.

Despite the letter warning Dann that the House "will immediately introduce a resolution seeking your impeachment" if the attorney general doesn't quit, Strickland said he always thought that an independent investigation would be conducted.

"I think a lot of people when they hear the word impeachment, they assume it is the trial, or the ultimate determination," he said. "As I see impeachment, it is basically an investigation to determine whether or not to refer the matter to the Senate for what would, in effect, be a trial."

A spokeswoman for Lt. Gov. Lee Fisher, who also signed the letter, said he stands by it but is referring questions about it to the governor's office.

U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, still favors impeachment..

"There should be a move towards removal" if Dann does not resign, Brown said. "We want this fixed in the quickest way possible."

Ohio Senate Minority Leader Ray Miller acknowledged that "it appears we're heading towards an impeachment because the attorney general has been clear that he is not going to resign."

But even though the Columbus Democrat signed the letter, he won't say whether he favors impeachment.

"As a senator, I have to think about the legal process. The Senate becomes the jury in a trial of fact. I don't believe it's proper for me to state a clear position for or against. If you're going to be an unbiased jury, the appropriate posture is to wait until the impeachment resolutions reach the Senate."

Swift - Check. Correct - Check. Decisive - Sigh. Enjoy your weekend.

P.S. Sherrod, that explanation for the torture vote I never really bought? Screw it. Apology accepted. All is forgiven.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Hey Folks, Pick a Side. Now.

I'm not talking about the Prezzie as JK used to refer to it. I'm talking about impeachment of Marc Dann. You can debate the merits over drinks or anonymously here on the 'nets, but publicly, even on background, Dems have to make this decision RIGHT NOW.

Lisa Renee picks up on a few threads, and seems to think that the sweater is starting to unravel. There's plenty more she could have highlighted, but I really hope she's wrong.

See, every Dem with a statewide constituency, Ted, Lee*, Sherrod, Rich, Jennifer, Joyce, Ray, and Chris, they all signed a letter with an unequivocal promise: If Dann does not step down, he will face impeachment.

That means Dann will face impeachment, or every person on that list gets labeled as weak, a buffoon, and/or a flat-out liar. If you plan on helping to inflict that kind of damage on every major public face of the ODP, you'd better do it quickly enough for them to get back on their feet before Labor Day, when the real season begins. Unless total meltdown is actually a goal of some sort.

*I inadvertently left Mr. Fisher off the list when I referred to the letter in an earlier post. My apologies to the Lt. Gov. and thanks to a reader for pointing out my omission.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

You might want to write your State Senator

Jim Siegel has a really good summary in the Daily Briefing called "The Twists and Turns of Payday Lending." I've been talking about this issue for as long as there's been a Blue Bexley, and I'm really happy that the General Assembly is poised to do something to really protect vulnerable consumers.

That action is threatened, however, as the fight moves over to the Senate side. As Siegel reports, among several factors working against the legislation:

After getting steamrolled in the House, the industry is getting more aggressive in the Senate. Payday lenders made more than 50 calls to each Senate office, are hiring additional lobbyists, and organized a Statehouse rally with about 2,000 employees and supporters.

I might give my Senator, David Goodman, a call. I already said I was in agreement with him on Marc Dann earlier this week. I've neglected to mention, although I most certainly have noticed, that he has followed up his support for anti-discrimination laws protecting LGBT workers by resisting a lot of pressure from pro-life groups to cave in on an overly-broad human cloning bill that would negatively impact scientific research in Ohio. Perhaps it's pushing my luck to hope for four in a row, but I really hope that he comes out in strong support of an interest-rate cap and other necessary regulatory conditions on payday lending. This has got to be a tough issue for him - what the lenders are doing is immoral, but regulating them would go against his more libertarian-leaning pro-business tendencies. If he's at all on the fence, letting the lenders do all the lobbying is a really bad idea.

Sen. Goodman's contact info:

Senate Building
Room #039, Ground Floor
Columbus, Ohio 43215
Telephone: 614/466-8064

Find your Senator's info at:


I feel myself sliding into violated kitten territory.

And perhaps I'm biased. When my now-stepmother's boss left his wife for her 20 some odd years ago, it caused a lot of damage to a lot of people. But of all the numerous things that were simply wrong about that situation, I've seen nothing in the past twenty years to indicate that harassment or a hostile work environment were among them.

So, if I pretend that Connie Schultz's column today is in response to my post yesterday (I know it's not - but to paraphrase the great and highly apropos movie The Squid and the Whale, the fact that it wasn't written as a response to my post is... kind of a technicality), then I feel I need to make some clarifications:

  1. Employer-Employee sex is generally a bad idea.
  2. I believe it falls into a category of situations that should be avoided whenever possible, and responsibly managed when it inevitably occurs anyway.
  3. The marital status of the employees involved is usually irrelevant to the arguments made for 1 & 2.
  4. Cheating on your spouse is a crappy thing to do. Regardless of whom employs you, your spouse, or your other.

This happens to basically make up the framework of Dann's argument as well, which Schultz counters:

Jessica Utovich is virtually half Dann's age, has a smidgeon of his higher education, earned about a third of his income and was employed at his mercy.

She's right. The particulars of this affair are particularly damning. I'm not the world's greatest feminist, and my comfort with myself as a white male doesn't really enhance my street cred, but I am a feminist. And this relationship smells strongly of abuse of power differential.

On the other hand, I'm not about to go out proposing rules and laws that imply I can decide better than a 28-year old woman who she is capable of choosing to be romantically involved with.

So, I'll essentially grant Schultz almost every piece and part of her premise: Dann is morally culpable for his affair, and that moral culpability extends to some (unspecified) degree of victimization of his mistress. But I can't buy her argument:

Marc Dann insists that, while others' careers crumble around him, his should remain intact. He wants us to believe that he's still the biggest, baddest law enforcer in the land and that this is what really matters.

In other words, the whole sex thing was overblown, and women are discardable.

...all those women toiling away in less public, less scrutinized offices but subjected to similar hostile work environments. If the attorney general can get away with it, what is to happen to them?

If I were Marc Dann, I would be thrilled with this piece by Schultz. By accepting the frame that he is being punished for workplace infidelity, and that the degree of his guilt or innocence depends on the degree to which his scheduler was willing and capable of deciding to be involved, Schultz has placed the argument on (by far) the best terrain possible for Dann. Perhaps Schultz means to say that even if Dann wasn't more concerned with helping his friends than creating a top-notch AG's office, even if he didn't look the other way while his friends engaged in much more blatant victimization of their subordinates, even if he didn't place his own personal interests above those of his employees, even if he did not act in such a way as to slow the legal process rather than facilitate it, even if he operated in the spirit of public openness that he championed in others rather than working to subvert the public's access to his office's public documents, even if he never actually did any of these things, having an affair with a younger staffer is reason enough, in and of itself, for his career to be over.

If so, she should make that clearer. And, FWIW, if she were to make that clarification, I'd enthusiastically concede that sanctions were necessary, and assistance for his scheduler warranted, but impeachment? I'd have to disagree. Which is why I'm not happy seeing the debate played out on Marc and Connie's playing field.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

It's not the affair. Mostly not, anyway.

I thought this was finally taking a turn in the right direction. Nick at BSB put together this quote from an AP interview of Ted:

When Governor Strickland was questioned about the fact that, while in Congress, he opposed the impeachment of President Clinton, he said the two situations were "dramatically different" and his request for Dann to resign is "not based substantially on the extramarital affair."
with the observation:

a careful reading of the Dispatch's editorial stating that Dann should resign shows that the paper mentioned the affair not even once, while still making a persuasive case that Dann should step down.

Ding Ding Ding. Clinton was impeached because he tried to keep an affair a secret, an affair that had no connection with any of the accusations being made at the time, let alone with any actual malfeasance. It was wrong then to impeach Clinton, and it would be wrong now to impeach an official based on vows they made to their spouse rather than the rest of us. But really, if all Marc Dann had been doing was cheating on his wife, this would still be a NaugBlog exclusive.

Dann hired people who were unqualified for their jobs. He hired them because they were friends, or for other *cough* personal reasons. When his friends were engaging in sexual harassment, crashing state vehicles, etc., he was at best looking the other way while his friends covered up the wrongdoing. The fact that he did not take any serious action until the Dispatch began reporting on the harassment means that either the media should have been running his office for him or he was willfully slow in responding. Dann couldn't or wouldn't put a stop to behavior in his own office that he would certainly have prosecuted in others.

The roles may be reversed for aesthetic purposes, but this is the couple you should keep focused on:

So when I see people who should know a lot better quoted thusly:

“I think this is between him and his family,” Koziura said. “He has not done anything to violate any law… or any of the duties of his office.”

It makes me livid. When I see national stories like this:

Ohio Attorney General Marc Dann is resisting pressure to resign over what he described as a “romantic relationship with a member of my staff,” but the situation threatens to stall his probes of alleged wrongdoing related to subprime mortgages.

Glossed into teasers like this:

Ohio Attorney General Marc Dann is resisting pressure to resign over a romantic relationship with a member of his staff, but the situation threatens to stall his probes of alleged wrongdoing related to subprime mortgages.

I wonder if I'm the only one who cares that there's a world of difference between the two paragraphs.

This is not Boinkgate. Nor is it really the story of J.U., the 28-year-old. This is the story of Tony Gutierrez. The story as it is constructed in my head from the fragments in the media, goes something like this:

Poor Ton, who didn't have a girlfriend on staff. Marc had one. Leo had one. Tony was determined to get one, even if he had to hire her in himself. Marc appears determined to help him ("wherever she fits...""come over for pizza..."). Poor Tony, when his friends romp, he gets himself a complaint filed. When he gets drunk, the truck loses paint. Everybody knows the names Dann and Jennings III, but Tony? Anyone can see that this is a disaster waiting to happen, but what is an AG supposed to do? Tell Tony to give it up, you'll never be cool like Leo and me?

I could be way way off. But if I am, then the D-U affair part is really none of our concern at all. If I'm not, then yeah, the narrative forming has a small place for salaciousness. But only as part of the frame: Marc Dann let his poor personal judgments critically interfere with his professional obligations, and in so doing rendered himself incapable of fulfilling his duties to the State of Ohio. By doing nothing to discourage, implicitly encouraging by example, and possibly even explicitly encouraging behavior that was unethical, unprofessional, and potentially illegal, he showed himself unfit to be the Attorney General. Game over. It's who he hired, and how he disciplined them. Not who he slept with. Don't let him weasel out of this so easily.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Impeachment Timeline

For those still getting caught up, Marc Dann got a letter from Strickland, Brown, Brunner, Cordray, Beatty, Miller, and Redfern (every Ohio Dem with a statewide constituency), demanding he step down or face impeachment. He has refused to step down, and there is no indication that the House Dems are bluffing about impeachment.

When I heard this, my mind immediately started considering whether or not this could either underhandedly or inadvertently lead to the the lemonadiest political outcome for Dems, namely that the party gets to run against the rogue incompetent, but gets to avoid a special election by invoking a process that takes more time than a simple resignation.

So, how long does a state-level impeachment take? The only modern-day precedent I could find was Evan Mecham, the oh-so-charming former governor of Arizona, who was impeached in 1988. The timeline there starts with criminal charges, etc., but I think the relevant date was the presentation of a report by a special counsel on the 15th of January. Conviction took place on April 19. So in that case, it was 3 months, 4 days. If we use the May 2 Espy report as a starting point, we have an approximate Aug. 6 target for removal. Factors could obviously add or subtract from that, but it doesn't look like he can possibly hold on through Sept. 25, which is the date most commonly bandied about as the statutory cutoff for a special election.

So there's no upside in stalling. Godspeed ye, General Assembly.

The relative safety of irresponsibility

With a title like that, I bet you were expecting provocative political discourse. Nope. Although I would be happy to adopt the motto "If you seek provocative political discourse, look about you," not only would that get me kicked out of the ohiosphere, it would be inaccurate today. You probably expected me to be writing about Marc Dann. There's plenty enough being written by others. Jill highlights a quote that I was planning on getting to highlighting (I snozt, I lost), from my state Senator:

“Today, you said you had high hopes for the friends from Youngstown whom you hired. You said that they ‘let you down.’ They paid for that let-down with their jobs. Many voters had high hopes for you. You let them down. And you must pay with your job.”

-State Sen. David Goodman (R-New Albany) in letter to Marc Dann

That pretty much sums it up as far as I'm concerned. For a differing view, one of the only pro-Dann voices I've seen anywhere popped up in my comments section last week. See here for the Dann Pep Talk Comment.

No, the relative safety of irresponsibility refers to a children's party I was at this weekend, in which kids were warned about the dangers of responsibility:

Happy Monday.