Friday, September 12, 2008

Payday Loan Charge More Than a Technicaltity

From Blue Bexley, 08/13/2008:

Given that OPC's website exclaims in bold that "We pay by the hour, not by the signature," either Hagan is wrong, OPC is lying, or someone other than OPC is paying circulators. That last seemed the most likely, so I pursued it first. At least one source told me that Arno Political Consultants had been brought in by the lenders to collect signatures along with OPC.

So, is it all the fault of Arno and a pay-per-signature compensation model come back to make a mockery of the process? That's really unclear.


So, I don't doubt that some circulators are lying to get signatures. I've heard the audio. I'd like for it to stop, but until I can figure out who's actually collecting signatures, who's paying them, how they're paying them, and which of them are consistently lying, it's difficult to figure out who's to blame.

From Blue Bexley, 08/21/2008:

Every entity collecting signatures for the referendum effort is required by law to file a 'Form 15' with the Secretary of State. Lisa Renee at Glass City Jungle tried to get the SOS to tell her who had filed the forms, and was given a pretty silly runaround. I can sympathize.

From Openers, 09/12/2008:

Anyone supervising the collection of signatures must file a Form 15, which asks for the circulators' names and addresses and the names of their employers before they can start collecting signatures.

The secretary's office said it cannot find any evidence that a Form 15 was filed by Arno Political Consultants, a California firm hired by the lenders to collect many of its signatures.

"One of the penalties if you don't file the Form 15 is a misdemeanor, but separately, you could get thrown entirely off the ballot," said Sandy Theis, spokeswoman for the Vote Yes on Issue 5 Committee. The group had filed a public records request asking to see the form.

The group asked Brunner "to throw them off the ballot, and if you can't do that, then at least throw out the signatures collected by this group," Theis said.
We know that some petition circulators were giving voters misleading information in order to convince them to sign. In order to determine the source of the problem, it is necessary to know who was actually supervising and training those circulators. The failure by Arno to file a Form 15 acted to obstruct legitimate inquiries into election irregularities. Any notion that Arno, a company that has conducted a number of signature gathering campaigns in Ohio, simply was unaware of the requirement or just forgot to turn in the form would strain credulity.

Several months ago I wrote that the most important story that would come out of this petition process wasn't going to be about the Payday Lending Bill itself (I'm pretty confident that Issue 5 will pass if it stays on the ballot), but the success or failure of new signature collection methods applied in a compressed time period. It's now obvious that the Lenders did not have confidence that they could make the ballot without resorting to questionable methods that have led to hundreds of thousands of rejected signatures in the past. The allegation, if true, that this decision was illegally hidden from the public and state is a serious cause for complaint.

See Also GCJ, where Lisa Renee continues to out-hustle me on this story :)

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Some Updates Courtesy of My Poor Time Management Skills

I should be busy doing other things right now, but there are a few things that have been on the back burner that should get posted:

1) There is still time to RSVP for the rally in Gahanna this weekend where you'll be treated to the presence of Nancy Garland, Sherrod Brown, and David Robinson, among others. Fired up, ready to go. It's time folks.

2) I get a decent amount of cause spam, where somebody has harvested blog contacts and is hoping to get a bunch of folks to blog about X. Recently, I'd received a few emails from someone who was hoping I could post about cluster bombs, how they're similar to landmines in that they have a tendency to kill lots of civilians, especially children, even after the end of a conflict, and how despite a growing international consensus against using this type of weapon, Russia had been dropping cluster bombs on Georgia.

One reason I don't tend to pass along calls like this one are that you can end up fronting for a group that you wouldn't associate with if you did your research, and I don't have time to do the proper research. I still can't tell you much about Survivor Corps, the organization that is behind the most recent calls to ban cluster bombs, but I'm willing to post at least this much: SC is now noting that both Russia and Georgia have used cluster bombs, so this is not about taking sides, it's about protecting civilian lives. 88% of our NATO allies have signed on to the U.N. Convention to ban cluster munitions, the U.S. has not. According to Wikipedia, McCain and Hillary opposed signing the convention, Obama favors doing so.

There's a bill co-sponsored by Sherrod Brown called Cluster Munitions Civilian Protection Act of 2007 (S.564). It was last seen being referred to the Committee on Foreign Relations in Feb of 2007. Biden and Obama are on that committee. Feel free to contact any of them if you'd like to see the U.S. take some positive action on this.

3) I've been silent on the death of the Sick Days proposal. I would have voted for it (as is the case with many proposals, my voting preference was tipped by the lack of honesty on one side), and I'm somewhat sad to see it go. The reality of the matter is that part of the initial support for the proposal was due to the fact that it could raise turnout among low-income voters. As it happens, turnout in this demographic is already expected to be juiced for this election, and the Healthy Families proposal wouldn't add much to that. On the other hand, national groups were ready to come in and use opposition to this as a rallying cry for conservatives. My guess is that labor got a big win battle/lose war lecture. It might turn out to be a forfeit battle/lose war anyway situation, but that remains to be seen.

On Brunner

Someone recently gave me credit for defending Jennifer Brunner against partisan attacks on her performance. Unfortunately, I can't take much credit on that front. I've spent most of my time concerned with the County BOE's, and only indirectly supporting Brunner by focusing on our shared opinion that there is some serious shaping up that has been needed at that level.

Let me rectify that a bit.

First of all, the GOP likes to push this idea that Brunner is a partisan in an office that should be completely impartial. I'm inclined to think that this is a clever and audacious trap by the GOP, as the immediate response that springs to mind is that Ken Blackwell was the ^$#@ State Chair for the Bush campaign in 2004! He didn't even make a pretense of non-partisan neutrality, and none of today's complainers had a problem then!! Unfortunately, when this defense is used, it can leave the idea behind that Dems are excusing Brunner, by saying that Brunner is not as partisan as Blackwell. That's not it. Brunner has demanded the resignation of Democrats from the Cuyahoga County Board. From the tone of the comments attributed to Franklin County officials, it would seem that she has gotten under the skin of Democrats here as well. She has refused the demands of the stolen-elections crowd to re-open examinations of the 2004 tally. I'm sure that there are Democrats who looked forward to having a partisan in the office. They haven't gotten it.

Second, she has been entirely competent and her office has pushed their successes and fixed their mistakes. Last spring I had some contact with the SOS office about my voting experience, and my pet issue of pollworkers not understanding ID requirements. I got sympathy and an invitation to look at the new training manual, which they were quite proud of. I read it and complained that it was still misleading pollworkers and would lead to bad training. The online manual was updated. On the other hand, when complaints came in from the GOP, and the counties, and the manufacturers about Brunner's insistence that the voting machines in use were not sufficiently reliable, she refused to back down. The manufacturer later admitted that it was not an end-user problem, it was not the fault of some other software interfering with their work, that it was in fact an error in their software code that was leading to dropped votes.

I'd like to add that votes dropped in Butler County in November would almost certainly have been votes favoring McCain.

Then they went after her because she refused to force counties to mail out an absentee ballot application to every voter, as she had been instructed by the legislature. Brunner's position is that the legislature had not provided enough money to comply with the request. I'm more ambivalent on this one. If the shoe were on the other foot I could probably make a case against Brunner. My guess is that the applications will all get sent out, counties will eat the cost, and counties will all know that it was Husted, not Brunner, that gave them the budget hit. I'm sure that if she had issued the directive along with the insufficient funds, there would have been a significant fraction of the 88 counties who would be grumbling abot the SOS instead. I'd be more dismissive of the political move on Brunner's part if I was more confident that Husted hadn't been trying to place her in a situation where he could rip on her regardless of her response.

Most recently, the GOP is upset because Brunner is requiring that applications for absentee ballots not be accepted unless the person making the request has affirmed that they are a qualified elector. The GOP is upset because this requirement is disproportionately impacting McCain supporters. This is true. It is true because the McCain campaign designed an application that makes it more complicated to affirm elector status than the form provided by the state. Once again, I'm ambivalent. I have to admit that I'm generally in favor of giving voters every reasonable benefit of the doubt, and the thought that people are managing to succesfully register to vote, but are not currently qualified electors, and are sending in applications for ballots and intentionally leaving a box unchecked because they are aware that they are not qualified electors, is somewhat silly.

On the other hand, the McCain campaign is not blameless (I've been more than happy to criticize poorly designed forms from the State), and allowing people who have NOT affirmed that they are qualified electors to get ballots is exactly the sort of scenario that typically throws Republican vote-fraud opponents into a major tizzy. I don't think that Brunner could have maintained credibility if she had let this one slide, and I'm reasonably satisfied that sufficient efforts are being made to ensure that applicants eventually receive their absentee ballots.

Finally, the GOP is upset because there is a window during which one can register to vote and vote absentee on the same day. Let me make sure that folks understand something here. In 2006, I had a problem voting. I was given the wrong ballot, and I was vocal about my experience. The reason I got the wrong ballot was because I went to the BOE during the first week in October, registered to vote in Bexley, and was given the opportunity to vote early absentee in person 5 minutes later. As they had never attempted this before, they failed to ensure that my ballot reflected my new registration in Bexley, and not my old registration in the Short North. Eventually, after protesting and much consultation, I was given the right ballot.

For some of you, the point of this story will be that perhaps same day registration/absentee voting isn't such a good idea. I'm neutral on that issue. The point you should all be taking from this story is that


This isn't a new law. This isn't Brunner's policy. It was created and implemented at a time when the Governor, Legislature, and SOS office were all controlled by Republicans.

At the end of the day, running elections is a damn tough job. I make no excuses for having very high standards, but I have a lot of respect for those who put their public reputation on the line trying to meet them. My impression of Jennifer Brunner has been that her first and foremost priority is and has always been ensuring the freest and fairest possible elections in Ohio. The best her critics have been able to do is take shots at the way she has chosen to tackle problems, problems that they wouldn't have had the guts to address at all.

Brunner's attempts to clean up BOE's have not always been smooth, but Husted seems to prefer that elections be run by those with political connections rather than those with competence. Brunner's campaign to ensure the reliability of voting mechanisms has led to major potential expenses for counties and the state, but Husted and the GOP seem to believe that a certain level of slop in the vote count isn't really that bad of a thing. And given the upcoming redistricting battles, you can be sure that Husted and the GOP aren't as upset that the SOS is a Democrat as much as they are that the SOS is not a partisan Republican. They want to win the office in 2010, and they want to have a partisan win it, and they want that person to act in a partisan manner in drawing legislative districts. To that end, they WANT Brunner to be partisan, and I imagine that they are frustrated that she doesn't give them many opportunities to paint her as such.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

In which I Attempt to Actually Influence Votes

There's a number of reasons to be a Republican. Bear with me as I start with the bad ones:

You resent just about anyone who's not like you (racially, linguistically, geographically, economically, physically, sexually).

You can't differentiate between morality and legality.

You believe that the primary purpose of taxation is to take money from you and use it to benefit somebody else.

You are a Social Darwinist.

You are easily frightened.

Then there are the defensible reasons:

You believe that a free market lifts more people out of poverty than does government assistance.

You believe that having and using a strong military is the best way to ensure a stable globe.

You believe that the advantages of free trade outweigh the disadvantages.

You believe that every argument that is made claiming some market regulation is better than no market regulation can be made equally well to defend the notion that some cultural regulation is better than no cultural regulation.

You believe that government is inherently incapable of providing the optimal level of public services.

I tend to think of those whose political affiliation depends on some combination of the first set as the GOP base. The question is not who those folks will vote for, just how many will vote. For those people whose affiliation is primarily due to the second set, what will it take to convince them to vote Dem this fall?

When I think about it at any length, I have to conclude that I'm a really ineffective campaigner. I preach to the converted, but I tend to prefer facts to emotional appeals, which dampens that base-revving enthusiasm. I tend to think of the GOP base as unreachable, and those who can remain undecided even this far out from the election as people who are not heavily influenced by facts or principles, and thus fairly immune to my brands of persuasion.

But perhaps there is a group I can make an appeal to: Intellectual Conservatives. So let me take a shot here.

1) Democrats can be persuaded by evidence. You'll have an easier time convincing Democrats to liberalize trade than we have had convincing Republicans that Global Warming is real.

2) Democrats are more firmly committed to your civil liberties than Republicans are to 'economic freedom'.

3) Loud mouths and pre-emptive intervention are not the pillars of a conservative foreign policy.

4) Just like welfare reform could only be accomplished by Democrats, Medicare and SS reform won't happen unless led by Democrats.

You're not going to win all of the high-level arguments, and there are still some fundamental differences in philosophy that will exist, but seriously, over the last twenty years the Democratic Party has accepted the validity of more Conservative arguments, while the Republican Party has rejected more Conservative arguments. In the long term, hyper-religiosity and nationalism are going to do more to harm freedom than regulatory bodies and estate taxes, and you've got a better shot at convincing Dems that the latter two should be scaled back than you've got trying to convince Republicans that the former two should be.

You've seen John McCain pick a pork-gobbling hyper-evangelical to be a heartbeat away. You've seen Pat Tiberi talk like you but then vote like them. Some day, you'll get your party back, and we'll have some nice vigorous debates. If you do want it back, and you want a country worth debating over when it happens, you'll strongly consider voting Dem this fall.

Early Childhood Candidate Forum

Sheesh. I dropped the ball on this one. The organizers were very helpful in getting me extra info about this event a month ago, but until it popped up on my calendar, I had completely forgotten to post about it.

groundWork is an organization that works on promoting early childhood care and school readiness issues. They are holding a series of candidate forums around Ohio where State House and Senate Candidates will take questions regarding "early care and education issues, including health, mental health, kindergarten, preschool, child care, and other issues important to young children."

The Columbus area forum is TONIGHT at 6:30 p.m. at the Vern A. Riffe Capitol Theater downtown.

Both candidates in the 20th district are on the RSVP list I was sent last month, so you'll be able to hear both Nancy Garland and her opponent discuss these issues. Both candidates in the 19th and 21st had also RSVP'd, as well.

The event is absolutely free, and early registration was strongly suggested. I blew that for y'all, but if you're interested in attending you should by all means get in touch and see if there is still space available:

phone: (216) 781-2944
email: info AT ohioearlycare DOT org

Monday, September 08, 2008

OH-12 profiled in Dispatch

Despite an atrocious headline (It would still be an accurate summary of the article if the headline began "Despite the Evidence,..."), Catherine Candisky's piece in today's CD is a pretty good summation of the race. When Tiberi says that he "goes his own way," the article points out two independent sources that have him as more conservative and partisan than the average Republican. When he tries to use his SCHIP votes as supporting evidence, the article notes that his support came during later votes (he was initially against the proposed renewal/expansion of SCHIP).

(Blue Bexley endorsed candidate) David Robinson's campaign platform of energy independence, renewed infrastructure, and change for the future is given a fair airing. All in all, I hope that this article gets lots of attention from voters in the 12th just now getting ready to pay attention to politics.

On a side note... It's amazing what an article in the Dispatch about Tiberi looks like when his bff isn't writing it...

More Shenanigans at the Franklin County Board of Elections

In the Dispatch this weekend:

Barbara Carmen reports that the Franklin County BOE had quietly allowed top managers to cash out banked compensatory time to the tune of a couple hundred thousand dollars, something which surprised and distressed the county commission. The article states that Matthew Damschroder, former Director and current Deputy Director said that there were no better options, and notes that the board voted in April to pay Damschroder $22,767 for 437 hours of banked time at time-and-a-half.

Oddly enough, Barbara Carmen does not reference her own article from March of this year:

A deal is in the works to change leaders at the Franklin County Board of Elections, just days before the presidential primary draws scrutiny to Ohio.

The board will meet at 1 p.m. Sunday to swap its director and deputy director and name a new chairman.

The move follows rumors that Director Matthew Damschroder would be booted, both because he is bloodied by battles with Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner and because he is a Republican and political control has shifted to Democrats.

William A. Anthony Jr. confirmed Friday that he will step down as chairman of the board, clearing the way for fellow Democrat Dennis L. White to be voted in as director at the board's organizational meeting.

Damschroder, a Republican, will move to deputy director. Doug Preisse, chairman of the Franklin County Republican Party, is expected to be voted in as chairman of the elections board, which he joined just last week.


Damschroder, 32, joined the board of elections in 2003. He said he is now "actively seeking other employment'' and is considering law school.
Of course, that deal didn't work out, and Damschroder was instead given a consultant contract worth $11,250 a month through the "end of the year." All was not lost, however. Three months later, with very little fanfare (media stories about the pick of Michael Stinziano as Director made no mention of it), Damschroder took on the job of Deputy Director that he was denied in March. I'm assuming that that coincided with the end-of-year referred to regarding the consulting contract.

So, the "big shake-up" turned out to be that Damschroder went from being official director to unofficial director with a director's salary to Deputy Director after his employment search apparently became less active. I wonder if it became less active before or after he got a $23K bonus?

Sunday, September 07, 2008

At Least McGregor's Got a Sense of Humor

Earlier this week, I came home and there was a piece of Jim McGregor campaign lit on my porch. I had previously noted (mocked, actually) the lack of campaign activity coming from the McGregor camp, and although some disputed my take, concurring opinions from folks with more mainstream cred than me also followed. So, when I found the McGregor campaign had been through South Bexley I thought to myself "So, I guess they were waiting for Labor Day."

Two days later I came home and there was a different piece of McGregor campaign lit on my porch. I thought to myself A) they're trying to make up for lost time, and B) It's making them sloppy because double-dropping the same turf is not the most efficient use of their resources.

Today, I came home and there was a piece of campaign lit on my porch. It was yet a third distinct piece of literature from the McGregor campaign. I did a quick jog up and down my block. I didn't see any lit on any of my neighbor's porches.

Very funny, guys. I get the message.

BTW, McGregor's opponent Nancy Garland is holding a rally with special guest Senator Sherrod Brown next Sunday. The rally is in McGregor's home base of Gahanna. Coincidence? Probably.