That bizarre Frankenmedia creature known variously as the Plain Dealer or the Northeast Ohio Media Group took yet another hit in the national media this week. It comes on the heels of its national shaming for yanking the video of its endorsement interviews with the candidates for governor and subsequent repeated fumbling of the aftermath.
Now, despite heightened racial tensions in the wake of the failure to indict cop Darren Wilson for killing unarmed black teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri last August, the NEOMG decided to pitch a tanker full of gasoline on the flames. A week ago Saturday, two days before the Ferguson decision, a 12-year-old boy, playing with a toy gun at the Zone Rec Center at West 65th and Lorain, was gunned down by a police officer and subsequently died. Video released early last week revealed that officers had rolled up on the boy and shot him instantly with no time for the warnings they initially claimed they had given.
NEOMG’s response? Print inflammatory articles about issues the boy’s PARENTS had with the law, suggesting that this somehow provided context why officers had killed a child clearly in violation of proper policing procedures. And once again, NEOMG’s “vice president of content” Chris Quinn and its “reader representative” (management apologist) Ted Diadiun offered tone-deaf, insensitive justifications for this unilluminating and (probably) unintentionally racist coverage.
Respected media critic Eric Bohlert has posted a piece at Media Matters for America titled “Cleveland.com's Very Bad Month: Attacks Parents of Dead 12-Year-Old After Covering Up GOP Gov's Odd Interview” that shreds the tottering media group for its flagrant lack of journalistic responsibility.
The exoneration of police officer Darren Wilson in the shooting of the unarmed Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, last August is on everyone’s mind. It’s weighed heavily on mine too. But it’s hard to know what to say right off the top of your head. It's something you really need to mull over at the risk of saying the sort of shallow things you're probably seeing on Facebook.
The decision of the grand jury Monday night to — incredibly — not indict Wilson comes on the heels of the killing of a 12-year-old boy with a toy gun by a police officer at the Michael Zone community center in Cleveland’s Detroit-Shoreway neighborhood Saturday.
It almost goes without saying that the victims were black, the police officers were white. That it almost goes without saying is only one of the depressing factors surrounding the shootings and the reactions to them.
One of the most depressing reactions was the amount of kneejerk victim blaming coming from every direction. Friends you would not describe as racist and who were clearly trying to sound reasonable were blaming 12-year-old Tamir Rice and his family, smearing them with secondhand information, as if that would somehow excuse his death — when we still had few facts about the circumstances. (We have more now since the release of the video this afternoon and they deepen the tragedy).
Too many tried the dead boy and his family and found them guilty in their minds. Just as many have given an automatic pass to the officer, again with no facts about the circumstances, insisting an officer’s first duty is to his own safety (no, it’s not) and he was clearly in danger or thought he was. We've now found out he probably acted with reckless haste.
Yesterday it was announced that Columbus is in the running to host the 2016 Democratic National Convention, along with Brooklyn, NY and Philadelphia. Columbus has never hosted a national political convention by either party.
It was announced a few months ago that the Republican National Convention would be in Cleveland for the second time (the first was in 1936), and there has been much conversation and speculation about what this might mean for Cleveland, for creating a favorable climate in Ohio for the GOP and how it might impact Governor Kasich and his alleged presidential aspirations, which should be dead in the water by then.
In fact, in recent years, the idea that holding the convention in a particular state helps that party's candidate carry that state has pretty much been shot out of the water. The last time the Republicans did so was 1992 when George HW Bush was the candidate and the convention was in his backyard — Houston. But the location of the convention would seem to have little bearing on the fact that he carried the state that year (despite losing the election). Many of the GOP conventions since have been in blue states like California and New York but the last one was in competitive Florida, which they lost.
That alleged advantage didn't work out for the Democrats last time out either when they held their 2012 convention in Charlotte, N.C. and lost the state narrowly in the general election. But their schedule as well for the past several decades has been heavy on blue states like California, Illinois and Massachusetts. Before 2012, the last time they lost the state where they held their convention was in 1988 when it was in Atlanta, and Michael Dukakis did not carry Georgia.
In the last few years here in Ohio, we’ve seen a narrow-minded, mean-spirited, misogynist bunch of men (and a few judgmental women who probably see themselves as better than those sluts who accidentally get pregnant) trying to inject government into women’s life-changing reproductive choices.
Among other things, they inserted provisions into the budget bills limiting women’s access to abortion, provisions that had no business being there. Among them was the requirement that abortion clinics have transfer agreements with hospitals — after making it illegal for public hospitals to make such agreements. Since Catholic hospitals won’t make them, that threatened the existence of many clinics, and clinics in Toledo and Cincinnati were closed down.
One clinic remained in the Cincinnati area — the Planned Parenthood clinic in Mt. Auburn —and it was in danger of being closed. According to the Cincinnati Inquirer, that would have made Cincinnati the largest metro area without an abortion provider. The clinic had filed a lawsuit in a federal court to challenge the state law. However, this week, it was granted a variance by the state health department when it lined up four doctors who agreed to accept patients in an emergency, and it has dropped the lawsuit.
“This is an important victory for the pro-choice activists in Ohio that have fought to protect women’s health,” said NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio executive director Kellie Copeland. “We are relieved that abortion will remain safe, legal and accessible in the Cincinnati metro area. We call on the Ohio Department of Health to also grant a variance to the clinic in Dayton whose request has been pending for over a year.”
That was the good news. Now for the bad AND the ugly.
Affordable Health Insurance for Ohioans Hangs in Balance as Supreme Court Considers New Obamacare CaseSubmitted by Daniel Skinner on Fri, 11/21/2014 - 11:27am.
Last week we learned that the Supreme Court will hear yet another challenge to a critical provision of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA). The central question raised in the case, King v. Burwell, is whether those individuals who purchase health insurance plans on exchanges run by the federal government’s web portal, healthcare.gov, are eligible for the federal subsidies that make those plans affordable. In Ohio, according to The Dispatch’s Ben Sutherly, the average monthly premium for plans purchased on healthcare.gov is about $121. But this price is reached only after federal subsidies of about $250 per month are applied. King’s supporters seek to ban these subsidies.
The central question in King arises out of a textual dispute over the meaning of the phrase “established by the State,” which appears some nine times in the ACA’s statute. King asks whether “established by the State” is meant to restrict federal subsidies to those situations in which states have opted to run their own exchanges, or whether “established by the State” is meant to include federally-run exchanges as well.
I may have mentioned before that I am not “Ready for Hillary.” I thought hyping Hillary’s potential presidential candidacy before the midterms was distracting and premature.
Now we’re past the midterms and it’s gotten worse. It’s like the Hillary supporters are trying to lock her in before we have a chance to recover, so we’ll just go along meekly, convinced she's "inevitable" and that we have no voice in the matter. In one 24-hour period a few days ago, I got three emails from Ohio Democrats titled “Ready for Hillary.” Congresswoman Joyce Beatty of Columbus, Congressman Tim Ryan of Youngstown and State Senator Nina Turner of Cleveland all sent out these dispiriting, choice-robbing missives.
While the result of the midterms wasn’t exactly some unanticipated bolt out of the blue, there’s a lot of conversation, both in Ohio and nationally, about how we turn things around — not just electorally but in terms of promoting progressive policies that focus on lifting up the average person in contrast to the ever more extreme Republican policies of handing rapacious corporations completely control of everything. And, with a lot of Democrats are demoralized by the losses in the midterms and the bloodthirsty extremism of the victorious Republicans, I am sensing that an increasing number of Democrats are ready for someone other than Hillary.
In many ways, Hillary represents the past — when the results of corporate-favoring policies, bank licentiousness and bad trade deals weren’t yet so obvious in part because of the fortuitous timing of the Internet bubble, in part because the housing bubble had not yet burst. The prosperity gap between the ultra-wealthy and pretty much everyone else had not yet widened into the almost unbridgeable chasm it is now.
State Rep. John Barnes Suing Democratic Party Because It Didn't Endorse Him After He Cozied Up to GOPSubmitted by Anastasia Pantsios on Mon, 11/17/2014 - 8:26pm.
Oh dear God. I’ve been reading about poor, put-upon Cleveland-area state representative John Barnes Jr. and how he’s all sad at his fellow state Democrats for not endorsing him in his primary and at his fellow state House members for not giving him a plum committee assignment because RACISM RACISM. I haven’t stopped laughing for hours.
So now he’s suing the Ohio Democratic Party claiming he’s the powerful independent voice for black people who deserves the support of a party he has dissed just because … well, I don’t know.
Barnes loves to tout his “independence” from the Democratic Party and the Ohio Black Legislative Caucus as if he is some brave and daring free thinker. He seems to think going against your own party and aligning with Republicans on significant issues is somehow heroic because hey, you’re your own man and not beholden to party leaders. (Whether he is truly his own man or Bill Patmon’s mini-me is an issue we won’t take up here).
Barnes is upset that the party endorsed his challenger in last May’s primary. He thinks they should faithfully endorse the incumbent, never mind that that’s one of the things that has led to stale thinking and a closed system that shuts out new blood.
Earth to John Barnes! The reason you were not endorsed is not because you are black but because you are not a good Democrat. It’s not because you are so bold and independent but because you violated some of the party’s core values.
We’ve been hearing lots of talk since the election about whether many Democrats lost because they were timid about expressing those core values, coming off like watered-down Republicans. Maybe, maybe not. But there are certain principles you have to stand up for to be counted as a good Democrat.
There was another Plain Dealer headline I happened to see on my way to the one I just sliced and diced in my last post. It said, “Nina Turner vows to stay involved in politics after election loss.”
I didn’t bother to click on this one. I’m guessing it probably said Nina plans to focus on her teaching for a while and that she says it’s too early to say what she might run for next but she’ll definitely run for something. And then a few digs at Ed FitzGerald and another mention of the drivers license. Am I right? (OK, they probably didn’t mention the drivers license because that would verge on parody at this point, but I’ll bet I’m right about the rest).
Whatever elected office Nina is thinking about running for in the future, here is what I think she should do next, where she can help change the face of Ohio politics.
Her entire platform was absolutely terrific. It would have been a benefit to Ohioans of all stripes and, if properly executed, made Ohio a shining example for elections around the country instead of a shameful mockery. But the most powerful thing she proposed was using the office to promote the very act of voting, in every forum in every possible way in every corner of the state, to help drive up turnout and make Ohio a voter participation a model for other states.
I try my best not to read the Plain Dealer’s trashy, heavily spun political coverage, but I couldn’t resist clicking on a link someone posted on Facebook that said “Top GOP lawmaker proposed sweeping changes to Ohio’s redistricting process.”
But, of course, the PD’s breathless hosanna of a headline didn’t match reality. And something about this plan seemed oddly familiar …. Oh yeah … it’s basically the same plan Secretary of State Jon Husted has been shopping around since HE was in the state legislature — slightly larger apportionment board, require one minority vote to pass a map, blah blah blah. To call it “sweeping” is laughable.
The plan, being proposed by House Republican Matt Huffman of Lima, is an incremental improvement over the current winner-take-all system but not by much. It proposes a seven-person apportionment board to draw the state legislative districts instead of the current five-person board. It includes (as now) the governor, secretary of state and auditor, but instead of one member of the legislature appointed by each party, there are two. And yes, there has to be at least one minority vote to approve a map. If the current system is a 10 on a scale of 1 to 100, this is maybe a 20.
But it still leaves politicians — current sitting officeholders — in charge of drawing the districts, including four out of seven members with a direct interest in how those districts are drawn. And with legislators drawing their own districts, it’s too easy to imagine a situation where a minority member goes along with a bad map drawn to favor the majority because they give him a favorable district.
This isn’t hypothetical either. This is the very reason Dennis Kucinich was pressuring legislative Democrats to go along with the Republican’s lopsided congressional map that essentially disenfranchised every Ohio voter by giving them a non-competitive district: it benefitted him personally.
Today environmental justice group Earthjustice released a pretty cool interactive map. It's called "Coming Clean: The State of U.S. Renewable Energy."
On it, you can check how your state — or any state — is doing on a bunch of environmental measures. It tells you what the state's top three power sources are and by what percentages (it's really interesting to track which states are dominated by gas, which by coal, which by nuclear power and in which ones renewables are starting to sneak in). It tells you what the emissions reduction goal set by the EPA's clean power act is and what each state's own is, if they have one. It gives you a whole bunch of ways to look at a state's progress toward clean, renewable energy.
And then there's Ohio. The EPA set a goal for Ohio to reduce its carbon emissions by 11 percent. Ohio's own goal is 12 percent. Sounds good. Oh, but wait ... what's this asterisk doing here?
*"As of 2014, Ohio's Renewable Portfolio Standard has been frozen due to political interference."
The Buckeye State has become a battleground where the fossil fuel industry has been spreading false information and flawed analysis claiming renewable energy sources are more expensive than fossil fuels," it continues. "The state was on track for a clean energy future, but was derailed in 2014 by a bill that halts Ohio's renewable energy standards for two years. Unfortunately, Ohio has also joined 11 other states in suing the EPA to block the Clean Power Plan.
BOTTOM LINE: Ohio can serve as a cautionary tale of the power of dirty energy interests successfully halting its clean energy progress.
We've been hearing a lot of media hand-rubbing over the possibility of a John Kasich 2016 presidential run. I've already been over why I don't think there's a snowball's chance in hell of that happening. Without a media to destroy what will be many opponents and unable to rely on being invisible and not showing up for debates, he'll falter right out of the gate, as it becomes obvious what a rude, petulant, arrogant bully he is.
But then there's our senator, Rob Portman. He's not so easy to dismiss. He was mentioned as a possible vice presidential pick in both 2008 and 2012. If McCain had not fallen for the caribou-whisperers who told him to pick a certain Alaska half-governor and gone with Portman, he probably would have closed the gap by a couple of points. And unlike Kasich, Portman known to be cordial, warm, well-spoken and interested in people. Democrats I know who have met him at parades and festivals really like him, even though they disagree with his positions on virtually everything.
Not the so-called National Organization for Marriage (NOM)! This secretive "group," which seems to consist of a handful of activists and funders, is devoted to promoting what it calls "traditional" marriage in the most aggressive and hysterical manner — kind of like "Reefer Madness" for homophobes.
And they HATE Rob Portman. And they will make SURE he never runs for president because last year, he revealed his son is gay and he supports the right of his son and others like him to marry. He openly reversed his previously held position without qualification.
So NOM has declared: over our dead body will Rob Portman be president!
Brian Brown, NOM’s president, said,
So after Plain Dealer “reader representative” Ted Diadiun finally — after a week— made a series of convoluted excuses for why Cleveland.com pulled down the video it had posted of the three candidates for governor at the endorsement interview they hosted, Northeast Ohio Media Group “vice president of content” Chris “The Silent One” Quinn went and poured gasoline on the fire.
No one was really buying Diadiun’s fancy footwork trying to explain why the video vanished and why Quinn made like a stone statue for almost two weeks — until appearing last Friday on WCPN’s The Sound of Ideas to make the reasoning behind removing the video sound even less credible.
Quinn did so by resorting to the most tired and defensive of tactics — ad hominem attacks and blaming critics for pointing out your screw-ups. In doing so, he strongly suggested that the widespread speculation that the deletion was done as a favor to John Kasich was indeed accurate. No one who was confident of his reasoning would react as Quinn did.
I know I keep referring you to Jill Zimon’s blog Writes Like She Talks. But Jill has a way of getting to the heart of the matter.
She explains how Quinn, rather than providing a sound, straightforward justification, engages in delegitimization, the tactic of claiming your critics have no grounds to criticize you because they are tainted or coming from a biased position.
In this instance, Mr. Quinn wants to delegitimize the sources of the criticism over the takedown of the video and his failure to explain the takedown in a timely manner. If he can portray the sources as not legitimate, and he can persuade readers and listeners that they’re not legit, then his reasoning will be preferred and more acceptable, or at least less challenged.
There is still so much to process in the story about the Plain Dealer/Northeast Ohio Media Group/Frankenmedia disappearing video from their endorsement interview with the candidates for governor. Obviously they were going to videotape it and post it because that is what they DO. It was virtually a given considering NEOMG’s focus on multimedia.
We know they took it down the day after they endorsed Kasich— a nervy move after Kasich not only acted like a sulky child in the interview, but also refused to return their questionnaire clearly stating his positions. That simply should have disqualified him from getting the endorsement.
But things got stranger and stranger from there. As the national media picked up on the removal and wrote about it, NEOMG vice president of content Chris Quinn refused to answer questions from journalists. The paper’s "reader representative" Ted Diadiun had nothing to say except basically "Ask Chris Quinn." Never mind that explaining the paper's more inexplicable moves is supposed to be his job.
And when Quinn and Diadiun finally did talk, it got even stranger. Each of them performed an awkward minuet of conflicting and irrational excuses, with Quinn adding a dose on insulting demeaning ad hominem attacks — demonstrating that he knew how badly he screwed up and was looking for scapegoats — so blame your critics. It’s straight out of the Republican campaign playbook.
Diadiun’s column appeared the day AFTER the election, once the massive victory the PD helped engineer for Kasich was a done deal. And his overarching attitude was “move along, nothing to see.”
He opens this nearly 1,500 word non-mea culpa with the truest thing in it:
“This is a column I should have written a week ago.”
He admits the lost video was something voters should have seen, acknowledging Kasich’s petty arrogant behavior:
Whatever it says, the Plain Dealer/Northeast Ohio Media Group/Frankenmedia played a huge role in the results of this year’s gubernatorial election.
Obviously, destroying Ed FitzGerald as a candidate over basically nothing was the most conspicuous thing they did. While his lack of a drivers license probably merited two or three articles, it absolutely did not merit hammering away day after day and ultimately running some four dozen articles about this trivial matter.
The problem is when you write about anything often enough, it no longer seems so trivial. It starts to grow in people’s minds and the magnitude of the coverage suggests there’s a lot more to it. Printing a couple of stories about FitzGerald being in a car late at night with a woman doing nothing particularly suspicious poisoned the campaign more.
Of course, all this coverage came at the expense of a few things like, you know, policies and issues that impact everyone’s lives. The economy, education, the environment, women’s rights, healthcare, job creation …. insignificant stuff like that.
And the Plain Dealer compounded their neglect of what matters by endorsing John Kasich despite the fact that he failed to return the questionnaire they prepared with the League of Women Voters, asking for his positions on key issues. That seemed to say to voters that what a candidate stands for doesn’t matter.
My belief all along was that their true goal was to depress the Democratic vote by ginning up the apathy and cynicism, the sense among the more caring and idealistic voters that nothing matters because there are no good choices.
And they succeeded brilliantly. Ohio’s turnout was the lowest midterm turnout in history. Just look at these recent numbers. In 2006, 3, 909, 664 came out to choose between Ted Strickland and Ken Blackwell. In 2010, there was a little drop in voters when Strickland faced Kasich 3,701, 245.
As news and concern of Northeast Ohio Media Group's (NEOMG) removal of an endorsement interview video grew, I watched with great interest. The video showed John Kasich, Ohio's recently re-elected governor, behaving terribly. I watched with interest, because I had spent this entire summer questioning and trying to raise concerns about NEOMG's objectivity. (I also questioned the Columbus Dispatch). I smelled a rat in their reporting loooong ago. Just some of the posts I wrote...
With the video removal, I'm glad more people are taking a closer look at NEOMG.
One other thing that became clear to me with this controversy, is that Henry Gomez is Chris Quinn's errand boy. I've noticed in Henry's writing that he includes things (wording) designed to please a specific person. He could actually be doing it for a few people, but I'm sure at least one of them is Chris Quinn.
Apparently, Ohio didn't want an attorney general who doesn't engage in cronyism, ignore sexual harassment in his office and squander tax dollars fighting personal battles. I hope David Pepper stays engaged and runs again. He's a keeper. In fact, I hope to see most of this excellent slate out in the battlefield in a better year. Who is going to take out Rob Portman? We need to start planning!
Dear Friends -
I wanted to drop you a final note of thanks.
When we entered this race, we knew we were taking on the best known name in Ohio politics, and we knew he would be well-funded. But I felt compelled to jump in because of the many important issues at stake.
It was a hard fought campaign, and while I’m disappointed by the outcome, I’m proud of the race we ran. I'm proud that we’ve been able to lead a substantive statewide conversation on topics like how to best keep Ohioans safe, beat back Ohio’s growing heroin epidemic, take on violence against women, and clean up government so it works for all Ohioans, just to name a few.
And people noticed. Newspapers and pundits across Ohio widely acknowledged that we ran one of the most aggressive campaigns of the 2014 cycle.
Together, we built this campaign with the help of over 5,500 individual donors and set fundraising records for a challenger to a sitting attorney general.
We also set a record of a different kind when the Fraternal Order of Police of Ohio endorsed us. This was the first time in memory that the Ohio FOP endorsed the challenger to a sitting attorney general, and it was incredibly meaningful to have the support of law enforcement across Ohio for our campaign.
And despite the tough odds and climate, and millions spent attacking us, we garnered the second most votes on the Democratic ticket.
All class, unlike her opponent:
I can think of no better words to say right now than - thank you.
Whether you donated your time or your money or your vote, I am honored to have earned your support. It was only because of the hard work of our volunteers, our generous donors, and our strong team, that we were able to get our message out.
This was a hard fought race. I am proud of all the hard work my team and supporters like you put in these last 18 months.
Your belief in my campaign has been humbling.
This isn’t the outcome any of us were hoping for. But we know that we must move forward.
Our campaign was built on the idea that Ohio can do better.
While this campaign may be at an end, our work is never over.
So thank you all again, and I look forward to continuing to fight each and every day by your side for an even greater Ohio.
Nina would have fought for ALL of us. Instead, we have someone who will only fight for those on his side. How much we have lost.
From Nina, sent on Election night:
Thank you, Team Turner.
Just a short time ago, the race for Ohio Secretary of State was called in favor of our opponent.
Over the past 16 months, it has been an honor to fight with you for a better Ohio and a stronger democracy--one that works for all of us, not just the wealthy and well-connected few.
Without you, this campaign would not have been possible. From your donations, to your volunteer efforts, to your tweets of support, you have driven this endeavor from start to finish.
Despite the results this evening, there is still much work to be done. Let us not be discouraged. So let us begin tomorrow with our strength renewed, our hope restored, and with the courage to continue this task that we have begun.
We still have work to do. As long as our democracy has not yet fulfilled its potential, and as long as the promise of a more perfect union remains alive, we must dare to dream of progress and blaze the trail towards it.
How great they would have been for Ohio. What a catastrophe we are facing now.
Here is their email:
Now that a few days have passed since the election, we wanted to thank you one last time for all of your perseverance throughout the many months we campaigned all across Ohio.
We hope you will continue to fight for issues you believe in and candidates who support those ideals. Below is Ed's election night speech -- hopefully it sums up why this fight was worth fighting:
Our work in this campaign is done. All of the speeches and canvassing and phonebanking are coming to an end. I congratulate Governor Kasich and wish him well in the next four years.
I have so much gratitude for so many people, and not enough time to express it all. First, for all of the volunteers who worked so hard, month after month, all the way until 7:30 tonight, we are all grateful to you.
For my staff, who showed grace and character and resolve, I’m grateful for your friendship.
To my family, Shannon and all the kids, who are with me here tonight, I am grateful for their help and support.
Before this campaign, I always said that I loved Ohio, and I am sure most of us say that without really experiencing it. But in the last 18 months, I had the rare opportunity to travel the state and all of its 88 counties.
I met dedicated teachers in Columbus, laid off steel workers at Ormet, people trying to survive on minimum wage in Dayton, small business people in small towns all over Ohio, students struggling with crushing student loan debt in Toledo; everywhere I went the story was the same - some people are doing well, but too many are struggling to keep up with their parents' standard of living.
Chris Quinn was on WCPN's Sound of Ideas this morning. He was attempting to defend himself for taking down an endorsement interview video that featured the three gubernatorial candidates on the ballot this year. The video showed John Kasich, the candidate his news source NEOMG later endorsed behaving terribly.
Chris Quinn defended himself poorly and at one point said this...
"the bloggers are not our audience."
Some of us know what this means. I for one was tickled to hear it. While I ponder some additional posts, Chris Quinn, might be interested in this...
— Young In CLE (@YoungInCLE) November 7, 2014
Janet Carson, chair of the Geauga County Democratic Party and president of the Ohio Democratic County Chairs Association, posted this on Monday before the election. But it's still relevant, perhaps more relevant, in its wake with a little bit clearer indication of how we can proceed. She's being mentioned as a possible chairman for the Ohio Democratic Party, replacing Chris Redfern, who has stepped down, which she talks about here. Her thoughts are worth reflecting on and discussing amongst ourselves, especially if she does decide to put her hat — or one of her wonderful, colorful pumps — in the ring. (Janet always has the best shoes in the room).
Message from President Janet Carson
November 3, 2014
Over the last year there have been many discussions about how we elect more Democrats in Ohio and the way we run our elections. As President of the Chairs Association, many of you have come to me to discuss solutions and present ideas. I’ve listened and welcomed your suggestions and thought the ideas presented had a lot of merit. I’ve also responded that we have an election to win and the Party was doing as well as expected with the resources available.
Now that the election is only a day away, I’ve been receiving more calls and emails urging me to take a lead in the discussions on these issues. I’m eager to do that and help formulate the plans necessary to move Ohio forward. I still feel the time for these efforts should wait until after the election and after our Chairman gives a clear indication of what his plans are. We have excellent staff at ODP….Liz, Lauren, Jenna and others have put forth efforts beyond anyone’s hopes and they need to be consulted in those future directions. The County Chairs need to have a larger voice at the State level as well as our other core constituencies.
Rev. Dr. Stephen Smith serves as the rector of St. Patrick's Episcopal Church in Dublin, Ohio.
The elections are over. The endless campaign commercials have ceased, even if the yard signs still overwhelm the right of ways.
More persistent than the omnipresent yard signs is the residue of the politics of fear. This election cycle, candidates manipulated fears of Ebola, unrest in the Middle East, and the specter of the “other party” being in power, all as something to be feared.
A more grassroots fear emerged in southern Ohio as a local candidate for public office received several threats because of her Muslim faith. Cathina Hourani, a candidate from Liberty Township/Butler County, Ohio, who ran for the state’s 52nd State House District, received multiple threatening phone calls after the Journal News published a story on her candidacy. Hostile comments also appeared on the Journal’s website in response to the article, including the shocking “Don’t elect a Muslim SOB, you should start shooting them.”
Is it any wonder that such fear-generated attacks on a Muslim candidate emerged at a grassroots level when the climate of our national and regional political debates is little more than public fear-mongering by candidates of all parties?
Such threats have no place in the political dialogue of this country. Our Constitution guarantees the right to free expression of religion. It protects the worshiper from feeling compelled to alter his or her beliefs either because of the dominance of the state, the culture at large, or because of violent threats. Moreover, the Constitution prohibits a religious test for holding public office; our politicians best serve us by displaying their public policy prowess, not their religious background.
Justice Bill O'Neill, a Vietnam veteran, labor union organizer, lawyer, judge, nurse, two-time congressional candidate, state Supreme Court Justice, and loyal Democrat, released this statement this evening after starting a spirited discussion on Facebook earlier today:
COLUMBUS, OH | The dismal and predictable Democratic turnout for Tuesday’s
election resulted in what is arguably one of the worst election cycles for
Democrats in Ohio history. This fact, as difficult as it may be to accept, is
the harsh reality facing our party. The question, however, is where do we go
This election, and the resignation of our Chair Chris Redfern, has left our
party with a void that must be filled. I rise to caution the party faithful, to
slow down, take a deep breath, and get ready for a methodical and thorough
rebuilding process. This is not the time for power brokers and insiders to
deprive the party faithful of a meaningful healing process
Chris Redfern did his best to mobilize Democrats throughout the state. Now is
the time to unify them. I for one believe if we are to regain our rightful
place at the table, Democrats need to return to their roots. And those roots
include openly embracing new ideas; a statewide organization built upon the
foundation of 88 local county parties; and a truly open selection process for
both leaders and candidates.
What we did in the recent past did not work, and it is time to try a new
Unification will not come easy. There will be those who attempt to force an
agenda upon our membership. Those who would hand pick the next leader of our
party, and strip away our right to elect our own chair must be shown the door.
It is time to change the way we do business at ODP, and that starts with a
wholesale abandonment of the present “executive committee” stacking process.
Only by conducting a true county chair election process for the selection of our
*In Which the Plain Dealer Absolves Itself of Working to Influence the Election Results While Continuing to Gloat About Doing So*
The Plain Dealer/Northeast Ohio Media Group/Frankenmedia is drunk with hubris. Its collective head is swollen to the point of exploding with its success in destroying not just Ed FitzGerald but an entire Democratic ticket so superior to the incumbents it’s a tragedy for all Ohioans that they didn’t win. You can smell the gloating oozing from its coverage. It doesn’t know how to win graciously, and it’s no longer trying to hide its bias and partisanship.
Now even with the election results finalized, the PD/NEOMG/FM is continuing its scorched-earth campaign against FitzGerald. “FitzGerald’s lack of a drivers license requires punishment,” blares an editorial headline today. This verges on personal hatred for FitzGerald — destroying him totally just because they can. It feels like they are sending a message: don’t cross our corporate bosses or else.
FitzGerald did that when, after opposing a county charter they clearly hoped would put Ohio’s biggest Democratic county under Republican rule, he ran for county executive and defeated the Republican they anointed to take over. I think they never forgot this and it’s what’s behind their savage and unrelenting coverage of an almost absurdly trivial misdeed. Armond Budish, watch your back and renew your drivers license.
The PD is also continuing to tear at the Democratic Party, clearly not content until it completely ruins its credibility in the county and makes voters so cynical, discouraged and apathetic that voter turnout continue to sink to record lows. And then they tut-tut about voter apathy—the very apathy they created.
As usual, the media is making jackasses of itself analyzing what went “wrong” for the Democrats in the elections this week. It’s the week for really bad punditry. But then what week isn’t.
We’re hearing the Democrats didn’t have a “message.” They did and polls show it’s the one most people want to hear: that the system is rigged to favor the wealthy and work against the average person. Yet they voted to give more power to those who want to give the most power to corporations and the rich.
We hear that it was a referendum on the deeply unpopular president with approvals mired in the low 40s. They don’t mention that Congress is mired at half that with the Republican delegation even lower. So it can’t be that.
Of course we’re hearing that now Democrats need to move to the right because that’s practically a reflex reaction among the media. When Democrats win, they never say Republicans should move to the left. In fact, many say Republicans should hold their ground in order to provide a check or balance on the Democrats. And of course moving to the right means conceding still more ground to the wealthy. And Democrats who run to the right are the first to lose. So that’s not it.
My favorite media narrative is “It wasn’t the money.”