Friday, October 5, 2012



The SCPR has been tracking the initiative spearheaded by the Ohio League of Women Voters (LWV) in a coalition with other Ohio-based organizations (i.e. Voters First) to reform the way Ohio draws its U.S. and State legislative boundaries.


Now it is done by whichever political party controls the levers of power in Columbus by controlling what is known as Ohio's Apportionment Board made up of:
  • the governor, now Republican John Kasich
  • the auditor of state, now Republican David Yost,
  • the secretary of state, now Republican Jon Husted,
  • a member of the majority party in the Ohio General Assembly, now Senate president Tom Niehaus, and
  • a member of the minority party in the Ohio General Assembly, now House minority leader Armond Budash.
In 2010 the Republicans gained control of the  the board and this is the map they came up with in redrawing districts as mandated by the U.S. Constitution (for the U.S. House of Representatives) and the Ohio Constitution (Oho House of Representatives and the Ohio Senate).


Moreover, there are allegations that in redrawing the map, Ohio's organized Republicans conducted secret meetings and lied to reporters making inquiries about the redrawing processes (LINK).

Make no mistake about it, for all his carping about the "unfairness" of the Republican legislated heavily Republican skewed congressional districts (and Ohio House districts/Ohio Senate districts) contra-proportional to percentages of registered Ohio Democrats (51%) and Republicans (49%), Ohio Democratic Party chairman Chris Redfern would be up to his neck in the same kind of gerrymandering distortion in favor of Democrats if Democrats controlled the Ohio Apportionment Board.

There is no doubt that the politicians (Republican and Democratic) looking after their individual and political party advantages are the problem.

As far as the SCPR is concerned very few legislative elected officials are small letter "d" democrats.

So it is very difficult to bring oneself to working with either party in an endeavor to gain the implementation of a fairer system than Ohio's apportionment board system.

But it appears that there is no other choice for the LWV.

The SCPR is clear that a driving force behind the Voters First effort (on the ballot in November as Issue #2) is the organized Ohio State Democratic Party and its allies organized labor.

On the other hand, it is a no doubter that the opposition to Issue #2  (Protect Your Vote Ohio) is being fueled by the Ohio State Republican Party.

That the Democrats were able to get the highly credible Ohio League of Women Voters is quite interesting.

Why would the LWV agree to be the public face of the reform effort?

Probably for the same reason that the SCPR supports Issue #2:  the organized Democrats and Republicans are ruining our American democracy and folks who want to change a corrupt system need to "hold their noses" and work with the political party that is down-and-out and in a condition of desperation.

Such is the condition of the Ohio Democratic Party.  It holds no statewide offices, is in a distinct minority in the Ohio General Assembly and is out represented on the Ohio Supreme Court by a 6 to 1 margin.

It is clear that this is a down and dirty political fight.

Yesterday the Ohio Elections Commission accepted a settlement the terms of which do not put the Ohio Republican Party and Protect Your Vote Ohio in a very good light.  An excerpt from The Cleveland Plain Dealer:  (Ohio Republican Party reaches settlement to resolve complaint that it lied in campaign literature against redistricting issue, Joe Guillen, LINK)
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- The Ohio Republican Party in its campaign literature and advertising no longer will claim that a proposed redistricting commission will be chosen in secret, or that the commission has a "blank check" to spend taxpayer money. 
Those were the terms of an agreement announced this morning to settle a complaint that the party lied in a recent mailing to voters that argued against Issue 2, the redistricting reform proposal. 
The Ohio Elections Commission voted unanimously today to accept the settlement and drop the complaint. 
"We are happy the other side has been forced to stop telling lies, but given their track record of dishonestly, we know we will have to remain vigilant until election day," said Sandy Theis, spokeswoman for Voters First Ohio, the union-backed group supporting Issue 2. 
Voter First filed the complaint last month, charging that the Ohio Republican Party's campaign literature contained three false statements. Ohio election law prohibits circulation of false statements to influence ballot issues. 
Issue 2 would establish a 12-member commission to redraw Ohio's legislative and congressional districts every 10 years, after the Census. Elected officials currently handle the redistricting process. 
The elections commission two weeks ago found probable cause the party violated elections law when it claimed members of the commission "will be chosen in secret."
The one thing that either organized Republicans and Democrats (and their union allies) can do is to put troops on the ground. And a strong grassroots group is needed to collect signatures for an initiative petition and to campaign for the initiative's passage if it makes it to the ballot.

In the case of the LWV initiative, the organized labor link to the Democrats proved to be a crucial element in gathering enough signatures to get the initiative on the ballot.

Ohio got term limits back in the 1990s because the Republicans desperate to find a way to dislodge entrenched Democrats were able to push the measure through.  Who can doubt that the Democrats are hopeful that a passage of Issue #2 will make them competitive in Ohio once again.

Of course, now that Republicans got what they wanted and parlayed the term limits into a Republican majority, they engage in a version of musical chairs in which everyone ends up with a seat; just a different seat from which they were term-limited out.  Stark County is a prime example of the phenomenon.  Republicans Scott Oelslager and J. Kirk Schuring trade the 29th Senate district/51st House (now the 48th) back and forth like they were major league baseball trading cards.


On Wednesday, the SCPR got an e-mail touting a 30 city Ohio city tour promoting the passage of Issue #2.

Here is a sample (the list of the first 11 cities):

LINK for the entire list of cities.

Yep!  Canton was on the list.  Yesterday at 10:00 a.m. in front of the Stark County Board of Elections.

So yours truly being an Issue #2 supporter hot-footed it down to Canton to get material for this blog.

What a disappointment!!!

Only The Report and a photographer (not a reporter) from The Repository were there.

And guess who showed up late.  You've got it.  The Voters First representative.

Initially, he promised us that Catherine Turcer, the executive director of Voters First was going to be on the scene momentarily.

Time passes.  No Catherine Turcer.  The representative (Ian Nickey who is listed on Linkedin as a vice president of Melamed Communications) scurries through a series of cellphone calls only to announce minutes later that there was going to be "no" Catherine Turcer.

No explanation.  No nothing.  She just was not going to be appearing.

Then Nickey offers to answer questions.

So the SCPR takes him up on the offer.

Though yours truly is a supporter of Issue #2, the questions asked are grounded in the criticism of the Voters First initiative by the front group for the Republicans (Protect Your Vote Ohio).

No doubt, Nikey was pleased with the questions.

Of course, the SCPR always asks the tough questions, whether friend or foe.

But an inadvertent rescue from the "hard to handle" questions was in the offing for Nickey.

Jeannette Mullane, deputy director of the Stark Board of Elections, comes out and politely asks Nickey to move his erected "large" banner down the street so as not to interfere with early voters coming to the board offices to vote.

Rescue in the offing?

Because of the Mullane interruption, the interview was broken midstream.

While Nickey was moving his stuff, The Report advised him that a trip to the parking meter had to be made to feed the meter but that yours truly would be returning within minutes.

About 3 minutes later, if that long, return is made to the new set up site.  But guess what.  No Ian Nickey.


Well, the SCPR is not so easily avoided.

To make a long story short, Nickey was tracked down and the interview was completed. And Nickey promised to arrange for a SCPR telephone or in person interview (in Akron, perhaps) with Turcer.

The SCPR is skeptical that he will actually follow through with the promise.

The reason that The Report is making such a big deal out of Voters First bungled visit to Canton is that if the quality (or should one say, the non-quality) of the Canton visit is indicative what is happening on the 30 city tour, there is reason for those of us who consider ourselves to be supporters to be concerned that Issue #2 could be in real trouble if the Canton presentation is an indication of how the campaign is going more generally.

Undoubtedly, the Protect Your Vote Ohio folks have deep, deep pockets and The Report got the impression from Nickey that Voters First was going to be outspent big time.  But he as a representative of an effort touting the need for transparency in the redistricting process would not reveal what Voters First's budget was for the campaign.  What's the big secret?  Big bucks against small bucks could be turned into an advantage by a skilled campaigner, no?

Catherine Turcer needs to get her Voters First house in order.

The SCPR strongly believes that Issue #2 is a measure that merits passing.

But from what yours truly experienced yesterday, The Report is now "dealing with disappointment" in the quality of the presentation.

Hopefully this blog will alert Turcer et al that it is not good to be disappointing your issue-friendly supporters!

Nonetheless, the SCPR strongly urges Stark Countians to support Issue #2.

Here is the interview with Ian Nickey.

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