Carnival #152, for your reading pleasure

I usually let you know right away when a new installment of the Carnival of Ohio Politics is posted.  No thanks to being miserably sick for the past three days, I’ve been delayed a little bit.

Carnival #152 is up.  This week’s edition is brought to you by the blog author of  The Boring Made Dull, who, despite his moniker, is quite entertaining to read.  There are some great posts this week from all over Ohio, several of which are reading the tea leaves for Ohio’s 2010 elections.  I recommend checking it out.

Carnival number 151 is up

Would you like a break from wall-to-wall coverage of the inauguration?  The Carnival of Ohio Politics covers political topics much closer to home, such as the Toledo mayoral race, or Ohio’s 2010 gubernatorial and U.S. Senate races.  Ben Keeler, of Keeler Political Report, has ably compiled the current potpourri of Ohio political topics, Carnival 151, for your reading pleasure.

Carnival #150! Woo-hoo!

Isn’t it something special when there’s a nice, big, round number associated with something?  I know my favorite TV detective, Mr. Monk, would agree with that.

Writes Like She Talks blogger Jill Miller Zimon has compiled the 150th installment of the Carnival of Ohio Politics!  I really appreciate that she highlighted this week’s entry with the Ford F-150, because Ford Motor Company put food on my family’s table for decade after decade.  As you might expect for someone who grew up in a UAW household, the only cars I’ve ever owned or leased were Fords.

Petition time for municipal elections

While it seems that the last election is barely over, especially since Obama doesn’t take office until next week, it’s already prime time to circulate candidacy petitions for office if you’d like to run for municipal court judge or for partisan municipal elections this year.

Yes, there are elections in odd-numbered years.

In Ohio, in odd-numbered years, there may be elections for municipal court judges, city councils, village councils, mayors and other municipal executive branch offices, township clerks, township trustees, and school boards.

Of course, there aren’t usually announcements about petition filing deadlines.  By keeping quiet about such deadlines, political party insiders are often able to get their own hand-picked persons on the bottom rungs of the political ladder without much opposition.

I feel that some of my readers would make excellent public servants.  That’s why I’m giving you the heads-up.  If you want to run for municipal court judge, or you want to run for city council in a city that holds partisan elections (if there’s no city charter, then such would be the case), then the filing deadline for your petitions to run in the May 5th primary election is before 4 pm on February 19, 2009 at your county’s Board of Elections office.  For example, Lorain and Elyria are cities that hold partisan elections for city council (and there are many more such cities all over the state).  Some cities have city charters that specify that elections for city council are to be non-partisan.  City charters could specify the petition filing deadline date for such non-partisan races, so you’ve got some homework to do if that applies to your city.  Otherwise, candidates for township, school board, and non-partisan municipal races have until August 20 to file petitions for the November 3rd general election.

For those it applies to, February 19 is just around the corner.

It’s not required that you raise any money in order to run for office, but if you think you might want to raise campaign money, you need to fill out a Designation of Treasurer form with the county Board of Elections.  On the form, you will be asked to name your campaign committee.  You don’t have to organize boatloads of people to form a campaign committee.  Your committee could conceivably consist of just you, yourself.  Your surname should be included in the campaign committee name.  For example, if I were going to be a candidate, I might use “Williamson for City Council,” “Vote Williamson,”  “Friends of Daniel Williamson,” “Elect Williamson,” “Williamson Campaign Committee,” or some other phrase that included my surname of Williamson when naming the committee.  The form will ask you to specify which election race that you are a candidate for.  The form will ask you to include the contact information for your campaign committee.  The committee must have a PHYSICAL address, not just some P.O. Box.  Also, a treasurer must be named for your committee.  Your treasurer could be yourself.  If you wish, you could name a deputy treasurer in addition to a treasurer  (and the deputy treasurer could be yourself if someone else was named as treasurer).  If any campaign money is received or expended, the treasurer and/or deputy treasurer will be responsible for submitting the required financial reports.  None of the information  on this Designation of Treasurer form has to be permanently etched in stone.  If, after you file the form, you decide to change the office you seek election to, or decide to change the name of the committee, or decide to change the address of the committee, or change treasurers, just amend the information by filling out a new Designation of Treasurer form with the county Board of Elections.

If you do raise and expend campaign money, the campaign committee will need to have its own bank account.  Campaign funds cannot be commingled with any other funds.  Keep in mind, when shopping around for a bank account for the campaign committee, that you may need to submit copies of canceled checks (front and back) for your  committee expenditures to accompany your campaign finance reports.  You should receive printed instructions on campaign finance reporting requirements from the Board of Elections office when you submit your Designation of Treasurer form.  At the very least, make sure the BoE workers direct you to a source of information that will provide you with the most up-to-date rules concerning campaign finance reporting.  I’ve been my own campaign treasurer in the past, and I’m happy to say that preparing campaign finance reports isn’t rocket science, so please don’t feel intimidated.

Now, about the matter of circulating petitions.  You can get petition forms from the county Board of Elections.  Take a black ink pen and a clipboard with you when you gather signatures, so that you make it easy for people to sign without having to fumble around.  How many signatures you must gather depends on the election you are running for, and whether you are running as a candidate of a political party or not.  Do not collect more than 3 times the minimum number of signatures required.  Pay attention to the form.  The blanks at the beginning of the form must be filled in prior to collecting any signatures.  The blanks at the end of the form, where the petition circulator certifies and attests to collecting and witnessing all the signatures on the form, is to be filled out after collecting the signatures.  On any given form, there must be only one petition circulator, so if two or more people are circulating petitions for you, they must do so on separate forms, not ever on the same form.  Those who circulate petitions for you must be currently registered Ohio voters, and they must not be from a different political party than the candidate, if running in a partisan race, so don’t enlist the help of underage high school students to circulate petitions for you, since they wouldn’t be registered voters.

I recommend getting “walk lists” of the precincts that you’ll be running for election in, from the BoE.  The “walk lists” should show you the names of registered voters with their street addresses and party affiliations.  This way, you can make sure you are gathering VALID signatures.  You wouldn’t want the Board of Elections throwing out your petitions because signatures were found not to be valid.  Workers at the Board of Elections will be verifying that the signatures on your form match the signatures they have on file from the voter registration records.  They’ll verify that the name, signature, address, and party affiliation all match up between the petitions and the voter records.  That’s why I recommend walk lists.  You won’t see voter signatures on the walk lists, but you will be able to match up names, addresses, and party affiliations, since the walk list is generated from the voter records that the BoE has.

In partisan races, signatures won’t be valid if the voters who signed were from a different political party than the candidate.  Thus, Republican candidates cannot collect valid signatures from those identified as Democrats on voter rolls, but they can collect valid signatures from other Republicans and from independents.  For yet another example, Green Party candidates cannot collect valid signatures from those identified on voter rolls as Republicans or Democrats, but they can collect valid signatures from independents.  Those voters with no political party affiliation shown on the voter rolls are considered independent voters, and, as independents, they can sign on to any partisan petition without changing their independent status.  After all, party affiliation is determined by which political party ballot you choose to vote on during the primary elections.  Those who request “issues-only” ballots during primaries, and those who don’t vote at all in primaries are considered independents.  Those listed as Republicans must have voted in a Republican primary election in the past.  Those listed as Democrats must have voted in a Democrat primary election in the past.  That’s how those voters became affiliated with political parties on the voter rolls.

In the past, when I’ve inadvertently collected a signature that I believed wasn’t valid or thought might not be valid, I used my pen to draw a line through that entry on my form in order to cross it out before submitting the completed forms to the Board of Elections.  I did not include the crossed-off entries in my total tally of signatures that I certified and attested to when I filled in the blanks at the end of the form after finishing the signature collection but before the form submission to the Board of Elections.  Such precautions helped me to get an accurate count of valid signatures so that I knew my petitions wouldn’t be thrown out by the Board of Elections, and so that I wouldn’t have my petitions challenged by political opponents, either.

A disclaimer:  The recommendations I’ve made here are based on my past experience.  Laws may vary from locality to locality, and some laws may have been changed since I last ran for office in 2004, so please consult your county’s Board of Elections office for current laws applicable to you and your campaign in your location, or else consult the office of Ohio’s Secretary of State.

I really hope that voters have excellent candidates to choose from in this year’s township, village, city, school board, and municipal court races.  If you blog readers are among those who step forward to be candidates this year, I wish you the best of luck.

Ohio House Speaker Budish: “I’m for sale!”

He can’t help it.  Armond Budish is a Democrat politician from Cuyahoga County, after all.  If you don’t know what I mean by that, then you’ve probably never heard of the name of Jimmy Dimora, either.

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Did you think that statehouse pay-to-play politics vanished because we switched from a Republican majority in the Ohio House of Representatives to a Democrat majority in the Ohio House of Representatives?  Did you think monumental changes are in store now that Democrats control legislation?  If you thought so, you haven’t been paying any attention to Buckeye RINO.  I’ve been saying all along that pay-to-play politics is a game that special interests play with BOTH political parties in the Ohio General Assembly.  I’ve been saying all along that you have to learn about the INDIVIDUAL you are voting for, and not just the party affiliation.

So, if you thought that ensconcing Armond Budish as the new Speaker of the House with Democrats in control would mark some kind of improvement over Householder/Husted/Dolan and a bunch of Republicans, you were WRONG.

This is the start of the biennium.  It’s the start of a new session of the General Assembly.   Do you know what that means?  Since it’s the point in time most distant from the time that one must stand for re-election,  that means now is the time to consider the most odious of legislation.  If there are issues that Ohioans oppose, but legislators favor, now is the time that legislators will act on those issues.

Why do legislators oppose the will of the people?  Because they get campaign contributions for doing so.  Now is the time to reward campaign donors, and now is the time to line up campaign donors for the next election run.  The legislators hope for two things:  First, that you won’t be paying any attention to the legislation that gets passed; and second, if you are paying attention, that you have a very short memory.

Perhaps the most publicized pay-to-play legislation at the beginning of the previous biennium was a Senate bill that hurt mom-and-pop cable television utilities in order to favor the big behemoths of the cable industry.  The spin of the politicians was that we’d see more competition within the cable TV industry, and our rates would go down.  Did anybody’s rates go down?  During the past year, my rate actually took a hike.  The Ohio General Assembly tried to feed us this hogwash because the cable TV behemoths, through their Political Action Committees, are able to be much more generous in donating to campaigns than the little mom-and-pop cable TV companies.

This biennium, the granddaddy of the pay-to-play PAC’s appear to be those connected to casino gambling.  Ohioans have repeatedly voted against casino ballot issues.  Ohioans don’t want casinos.  Our legislators do.  Our legislators always have.  Why?  Because if our legislators oppose gambling, they don’t receive PAC donations to their campaigns for sticking to their principles.  If our legislators support gambling, however, they stand to receive lots of campaign donations to gambling-related PAC’s.  With our legislators, money talks.  Ohioans talk, too, but our legislators turn a deaf ear when there’s no money attached.

Armond Budish (remember, he’s a Democrat politician from Cuyahoga County) was asked by the media about his thoughts on gambling.  The Plain Dealer quotes him thus:

“I have no inherent opposition to gambling by any means.”

He’s so emphatic, by adding the words “by any means” to the phrase “no inherent opposition.”  Doesn’t it sound like code for “I have no inner convictions,” or “I haven’t developed any scruples,” or, at the very least, “I might have some inner convictions/scruples, but why don’t you offer me some campaign money, and together we’ll explore just where those scruples might or might not be.”

How convenient.  At the get-go, politician Armond Budish is pointing out the lack of a personal conviction.  Just what we need more of–politicians without principles.  Yet, even if he, himself, lacked a personal conviction when it came to the gambling issue, isn’t he elected to represent Ohioans?  Since he leads the majority caucus in the Ohio House of Representatives, shouldn’t he feel a need to represent the majority of Ohioans?  And didn’t a majority of Ohioans vote down casino gambling every single time it was ever put before them as a ballot issue?  Yet, Budish did not acknowledge the demonstrated views of the majority of Ohioans in giving his position on gambling.  Instead, it was as if he was elected to a House district wherein he only represents himself, saying on the public record that he, himself, has no inherent opposition to gambling.  He’s not representing anybody but himself.  And by representing only himself, he’s advertising to all the PAC’s, even beyond the issue of gambling, that he’s all ears if you’ve got money to contribute.  Ohioans?  Bah, humbug!  Who are they, unless they can contribute $omething?

Hence, Armond Budish, Ohio’s Speaker of the House of Representatives, has announced to the world of lobbyists and donors, “I’M FOR SALE!!!!”

From the same Plain Dealer article, we see that Governor Strickland is advertising the fact that his spine is missing, as he’s caving in on pledges made to voters in 2006 that he opposes expansion of gambling.  He already introduced Keno to the Ohio Lottery.  Now he’s sounding the trumpet beckoning to all the casino tycoons.  If you want to read more on Strickland and gambling, check out Writes Like She Talks, with this article, this one, and also this one.

Before Strickland caved in on gambling, he was opposed.  Before he was opposed, he was wishy-washy, i.e. he was sending signals that he could be influenced, could be bought.  Again, Jill Miller Zimon posted at WLST about an interview that Strickland gave to an assembly of bloggers.  Back on March 27th, 2006, I had this to say about Strickland’s non-committal response:

” . . . As for Strickland and gambling, he has left the door open for pro-gambling PAC’s to donate to his campaign (I haven’t looked at any campaign finance reports yet to find out if this has indeed happened), and I certainly get the sense that he will let others do the dirty work to expand gambling here. He’s sending a signal that he can be ‘bought’ . . .”

Jill wanted me to elaborate on this point , so later, I added this:

” When a candidate makes a clear and definitive statement on an issue, then a candidate is clearly sending a message that they cannot be bought at an auction to the highest bidder. When a candidate makes a public statement on an issue that is totally ambiguous, that’s sending a message of ‘Go ahead and influence me! Make your checks out to . . .’”

And after Jill continued to press me on the point, I concluded with this:

“Someone who has known all sides of the issues for as long as Strickland has (How could he not? His whole career revolves around issues.) should have been able to draw some conclusions by now and found ways to effectively articulate for the positions he advocates. If he were merely a bystander, it would be easier to understand his indecisiveness. It almost makes me think that Strickland concedes that it’s a foregone conclusion that Ohioans support casinos. I doubt that Ohioans support casinos, since every ballot issue on the matter has gone down to defeat. The pro-gambling lobbyists have curried favor with our legislators, and that’s the arena where gambling really needs to be held in check.”

Was I clairvoyant, or what?  I’m telling you now, that I had Strickland pegged way back then.  So what I’m telling you about Budish . . . mark my words, he’s for sale.

The first Carnival of 2009

Installment 149 of the Carnival of Ohio Politics is now posted.

I’ve never been snowboarding before.  Anybody care to share a real-life snowboarding experience with me?

An example of civic participation

Politics wouldn’t be so frustrating if more citizens actively participated in the process.  Being an informed citizenry before heading to a ballot box could make the election results, especially in the downticket races, much more bearable because the likelihood of making the best available choices would significantly improve.

But there are so many other fronts where active civic participation can reap huge dividends.  Would there be greater accountability from school districts if the turnout at school board meetings was always huge?  I tend to think so.  And if members of the community volunteered at the schools on a large scale, could educational outcomes improve?  I think it’s possible.  And what about citizens who serve on city committees, like streets and sidewalk committees, that keep city council members updated on pothole conditions . . . is there a use for that?  Of course there is.  How many townships have volunteer fire departments?  There are still quite a few of them.  Civic involvement improves our communities in so many ways.

Here’s an article from the Chronicle-Telegram about the start up of a block watch within an Elyria neighborhood.  The local citizens are pro-actively taking measures to prevent themselves from being targets of crime.  A police spokesperson, Lt. Andy Eichenlaub, told the C-T that there are 14 different neighborhood watch groups within the city of Elyria, and that number may grow.

Brandon Rutherford, a Democrat (I do tend to think in terms of party affiliation, don’t I?) that I’ve corresponded with from time to time, and a person I have a lot of respect for, has been orchestrating this particular block watch.  What amazes me is the amount of information being provided to residents.  Besides building relationships with the neighbors, experts are on tap to advise residents about securing businesses and residences, making use of child ID kits, curbing domestic violence, obtaining concealed carry permits, employing basic martial arts philosophies and techniques, and creating liaisons between the citizens and the police.

Part of the motivation behind this particular push is the concern over the elimination of 12 police officer jobs in Elyria.  If you’ve ever read the Harry Potter series, or seen the movies, this Elyria effort reminds me of part 5, “The Order of The Phoenix,” wherein Hogwarts students organize Dumbledore’s Army because they recognize deficiencies that their classes in Defense Against the Dark Arts won’t remedy.  With the current  bleak economic environment, any number of local governments may be faced with cutting safety services because tax revenues can’t keep up with expenses.  This neighborhood watch approach can send a strong signal to would-be criminals that citizens have no intention of becoming victims, despite the cutbacks.

I commend Brandon Rutherford and the others in his neighborhood who’ll be participating in this effort for taking these steps to look out for the best interests of their community.  I hope to see more such examples of civic participation in upcoming weeks and months.