Thursday, August 28, 2008

Obama And Biden in Dublin, OH on Saturday

You're Invited
Please join Barack Obama and Joe Biden at an event in Dublin, OH, where they will talk about their vision for bringing America together and creating the kind of change we can believe in.

An Evening on the Road to Change
with Barack Obama and Joe Biden

Dublin Coffman High School
6780 Coffman Road
Dublin, OH

Saturday, August 30th
Doors Open: 4:30 p.m.
Program Begins: 6:45 p.m.

The event is free and open to the public. Tickets are not required but an RSVP is strongly encouraged.

For security reasons, do not bring bags and limit personal items. No signs or banners are permitted.


Obama for America

If you cannot make it to this event but would still like to support Barack, you can make a donation here:

Vote From Home. Please.

A couple of weeks ago I met up with a guy named Neil who had just arrived in Columbus as part of a group called 'Vote From Home.' These folks are working hard to A) register voters, and B) Encourage all voters to vote early/absentee in the upcoming election. They are young people from around the country, but they seem genuinely interested in learning about their environment, rather than simply parachuting in with clipboards and a script.

They have a website and a blog, and I encourage you to check them out.

Now, I get a number of requests to blog about this or that. Some of which I ignore, some of which I acknowledge and post the info, and some of which inspire me to do my own post. Vote From Home didn't ask me to blog about them, and although I'm singling out their operation, what I'm really doing right now is championing their cause.

Vote Absentee by mail. Vote Early/Absentee in person. Then tell your friends, your family, your neighbors, and your co-workers how easy and enjoyable it was. Please. Please. Please.

Allow me to elaborate:

1) I have repeatedly and vociferously talked about the misunderstandings that many individual pollworkers have about the ID requirements, often because they correctly understand the bad information they've been given. Workers at the BOE are much more likely to understand the rules, and you can be somewhat more confident that any issues that do arise will be satisfactorily resolved. Mailing in your ballot can set you up for new problems (e.g. do you know which number on your Ohio License is actually your License number? It's NOT the one printed on your picture), but at least you can avoid the most common misconceptions that lead to provisional ballots.

2) You will not have to wait in a three hour line if you vote by mail. There is no telling how long you'll be waiting at the Early Voting Location (which I understand to be at Vets Memorial on W. Broad, rather than the BOE offices on E. Broad this year), and there's no telling how long you'll be waiting at your polling place on 11/04. Remember that the consultants who assisted the BOE in coming up with a plan for allocating machines have said that there are almost certainly going to be locations with lines greater than two hours. The difference, hopefully, between 2004 and 2008 will be that the locations where the lines arise won't be so predictably urban. The whole point is to make it just as likely that a line will explode in New Albany as in Olde Towne East. Do you really want to roll the dice just because you've been in-and-out in the past?

3) You will cut 5-10 minutes off the time others have to wait in line in November. If you find yourself with 80 people behind you in line, be aware that your decision to wait until November 4 has probably played a significant role in preventing someone else from voting. It may be true that they are just as culpable for waiting as you are, but unlike that other hypothetical voter you can no longer claim to be ignorant of the potential effects of your decision.

4) One of the biggest reasons for the machine shortages and long lines is due to the inclusion of issues in addition to candidates on the ballot. You will be asked to vote on a number of issues ranging from local tax levies and bonds to mandatory sick days and a new casino. Even the shortest ballots are expected to take more than 5 minutes for the average voter to read and complete. Now, you can try to read the actual ballot language and determine for each whether or not a "yes" vote is a vote for or against your position on the issue while a room full of people waits in line behind you for the machine, knowing that by law you can be asked to vacate the booth after 5 minutes, or... You can sit at your kitchen table and read every word in every proposal at a leisurely pace and cast your ballot with confidence that you have understood each one and voted in accordance with your conscience.

5) You know where the mailbox is. Do you really know where your polling location is? Twenty seven Franklin Locations have changed just since the primary in March.

I know that going to the polls on election day is a tradition bordering on ritual. I personally find it simultaneously reassuring and exciting, and it gives me a big jolt of patriotism. It's more than a little sad to give that up in favor of mailing something on some random October day, but I'm going to do it this time around. If you live in Franklin County, I really hope you'll join me.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Data Dump Day

The U.S. Census poverty numbers are out for 2007. The early reports all focus on ranks, and I can play along with that. The problem is, the rankings are very different depending on your unit of analysis. For instance, when the Plain Dealer has Cleveland at #2 in the country in terms of poverty, they get there by first restricting the rankings to individual cities as opposed to any sort of metro area or region, and then restrict things further by only counting "large cities." There are lots and lots of ways to group populations into places, with the three most common being "city," which is defined by the actual city boundaries, "metro area," which refers to a city that acts as a central hub along with its suburbs, and "CSA" or Combined Statistical Area, which treats sets of metro areas that border each other as being part of the same population area. For Ohio, that means that a place like Cleveland can be defined by itself, as a metro area with suburbs like Lakewood and Parma, or a Metro area including Akron and Canton. Using the CSA approach, the Census Bureau recognizes 9 distinct CSAs in Ohio, which I've ranked by poverty rates below:

Youngstown-Warren-East Liverpool, OH-PA CSA



Toledo-Fremont, OH CSA



Columbus-Marion-Chillicothe, OH CSA



Dayton-Springfield-Greenville, OH CSA



Cleveland-Akron-Elyria, OH CSA



Cincinnati-Middletown-Wilmington, OH-KY-IN CSA



Lima-Van Wert-Wapakoneta, OH CSA



Mansfield-Bucyrus, OH CSA



Findlay-Tiffin, OH CSA



The Central Ohio CSA has a higher poverty rate than NE Ohio or SW Ohio. Something to think about.

The School District Report Cards and the data that they're generated from are also out. Just for fun, here are the top 15 Ohio Districts based solely on the overall test scores that go into the Performance Index:

Franklin County schools, ranked the same way:

Hats off to Jill, who did one post about two datasets before I got mine up, pointing me to Lisa Renee and the PD in the process.

Old Business

1) A commenter on yesterday's post counters that Larry Flowers (R-Canal Winchester), who has run up against term limits this year, is the more likely candidate to fill a potential vacancy in the third senate district. They're probably right, although it makes a lot more sense to move Flowers there if McGregor loses than if McGregor wins. On the other hand, if Flowers is going to be the candidate in the 3rd in 2010 regardless, that could speak to the lack of vigor in McGregor's current campaign.

2) I received an email yesterday that let me know I had missed the answer to one of my biggest questions about the Payday Lending deceptive signature collection allegations. From the Aug. 13 Toledo Blade:

Kim Norris, spokesman for the industry-financed repeal effort, said employees of two organizations hired to circulate the petitions provide extensive training. One company is paying circulators by the hour, the other by the signature. (emphasis added)
Paying circulators by the signature is an invitation to fraud. By choosing to bring in a pay-per-signature outfit to collect signatures, the lenders are about as guilty of deception, IMHO, as if they had trained the circulators to lie. Opponents of Payday Lending, by the way, have a new URL: reflecting the outcome of the ballot language negotiations last week. They also have a new video featuring testimonials from people who claim they were misled into signing petitions:

You'll notice that the video features Peder Johanson, a musician from Bexley.

2.5 / 3) The 'Yes on 5' folks have sent a a letter to the Franklin Co. Board of elections demanding an investigation into the root causes of the signature deception, something that I would certainly like to see happen. The FCBOE denies, however, that they have the power to do anything beyond forwarding a formal complaint to the courts. At this point I need to state that the BOE has been responding to my emails, with Elections Director Michael Stinziano assuring me via email that the BOE will look into additional clarification of the ID requirements on their webpage. In the meantime, the transcript of the Voting Allocation meeting of 8/14/08 is now available from a link on that page. I had originally emailed Ben Piscitelli about the transcript. Mr. Piscitelli is the media relations/public information officer for the BOE. It's kind of sad that the county BOE needs a media relations person, but I've got to say that whether he's dealing with a lefty blogger like myself or the folks at Huffington Post, or conservative wingnuts who display no understanding of the special circumstances preventing voter roll cleanup in 2004, or speaking at length in defense of absentee voting to an alternative weekly, or providing official comment to the print dailies, or just churning out Press Releases, he has helped make the Franklin County BOE one of the most transparent boards in Ohio, if not anywhere. I may complain about information that I can't get, but I'm well aware that I can get much more info more easily in Franklin Co. than I could in Cuyahoga or Hamilton, let alone some place like Warren Co.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Franklin Appeals Court Race, Nancy Garland, connecting some dots.

A thoughtful reader has pointed out that I could have been more specific and more explicit about the reasons a Goodman victory in the Court of Appeals race could potentially be bad for Democrats trying to get and maintain Statehouse majorities:

If Goodman does not win his race, he will be term-limited out of the State Senate in 2010. Although Goodman has made strong showings in his two wins, the district is vulnerable to flipping with a strong Democrat and no incumbent. If Goodman does leave for the bench, the GOP will appoint a successor to serve out Goodman's term, who will run as an incumbent in 2010.

Of course, to really play this game well, the GOP will want to take an officeholder who is term-limited out of his/her current position in 2010, and put them into the Senate seat, creating a stronger incumbent for the Senate race, and allowing them to appoint another Republican into that officeholder's seat (likely pending a special election, I'll have to check), mirroring the process. Are there any potential candidates within the 3rd Senate district for this role? Yes, Jim McGregor cannot serve beyond 2010 in the 20th House district, making him an ideal GOP candidate for appointment to a vacant Senate seat if both he and Goodman win their respective elections.

Of course, if McGregor wins and leaves, a House seat that would have been at worst open and should have been a Dem incumbent could instead then sport a Republican incumbent on the ballot in 2010.

My guess is that Goodman will be the favorite in his Appeals Court race. Thus, the best chance for getting and holding both the 20th House and the 3rd Senate districts lies with a Nancy Garland victory over McGregor in November. The term limit dominoes make this race not only one of the most interesting, but really and truly one of the most important.