Thursday, August 25, 2011

If he follows his own logic, Stainbrook should resign from BOE

The issue of District 6 Toledo City Council member Lindsay Webb's late filing of the acceptance of her nomination for election in November has been in the news lately, especially after opponent Doug DeCamp filed a protest, also late.

Rather than go through the idiocy of Webb's failure to meet a filing deadline, her 'mis-remembering' the location where she mailed the filing or the shear lunacy of claiming that the protest against her late filing was late so it shouldn't be allowed, but her late filing should be ... let's look at where the real problem lies: the Lucas County Board of Elections.

Having worked with the Board of Elections since the early '90s as both a candidate and a Commissioner, I have a lot of respect for the individuals there. Whether asking questions as a candidate, commissioner or blogger, I've always had timely responses and, to the best of my knowledge, correct answers. I know that any office may have a couple of employees who don't meet expectations or requirements, but that is not unique to the Board of Elections.

The office has had serious challenges over the years - many the result of the personalities of the board members themselves - but over the past five years or so, I've seen significant overall improvement, despite specific problems encountered. This I attribute to the board members (Democrats Rita Clark, Gary Johnson, Ron Rothenbuler and Republicans Patrick Kriner and Lynn Olman) who focused on running an elections system.

So when issues arise like the latest debacle of the board members certifying a candidate who failed to meet a required filing deadline, it is appropriate to look at the board members themselves.

And that is where the hypocrisy comes in - and readers of this blog know how I despise hypocrisy.

It is fair to look to the past at words and actions in order to judge the present goings-on.

Shortly after Jon Stainbrook became chairman of the Lucas County Republican Party, the winner of the Republican primary for a seat on the Lucas County Board of Commissioners withdrew. The party, under the leadership of Stainbrook, nominated Jan Scotland to fill the vacancy. As a result of the party's action, Stainbrook, as chairman, should have filed the nominating paperwork with the Board of Elections. He didn't - at least, not on time - and Scotland was not allowed to be on the ballot.

At that time, Stainbrook claimed, erroneously, that it was the responsibility of the Republican members of the board to make sure he did his job correctly. Lots of theories abounded about the failure of Scotland to be on the ballot, but in the end, the law prevailed and the missed filing meant Scotland did not run.

But that didn't stop the local paper from editorializing that the fault was completely with the two Republican board members. In fact, they even opined:

"If they truly had the interests of the GOP at heart, rather than an intense desire to see their adversary fail, Mr. Olman and Mr. Kriner could easily have helped to ensure that the nominating papers for Mr. Scotland were filed in time."

Stainbrook had some choice comments during the Scotland nominating failure that are important to note in light of today's Lindsay Webb issue.

* Mr. Stainbrook, then in his first few months as chairman, did not know about the deadline and said the Republicans on the elections board should have reminded him.
~ "Stainbrook says elections board staff violated law," The Blade- Friday, October 23, 2009

* During a news conference yesterday, he blamed inter-party politics for the situation.

"The job of the Lucas County Board of Elections is to get people on the ballot," Mr. Stainbrook said.

~ "Elections board chief criticized - Democratic official failed to warn of deadline, GOP says," The Blade - Thursday, August 28, 2008

And a bit more from the editorial board of The Blade in "Put Scotland on the ballot," from Friday, August 22, 2008:

As to who is responsible for this sad state of affairs, voters have only to look in the direction of Lynn Olman and Pat Kriner, the Republican members of the elections board , who have been in vendetta mode ever since Mr. Stainbrook ousted the local party establishment in June.

If they truly had the interests of the GOP at heart, rather than an intense desire to see their adversary fail, Mr. Olman and Mr. Kriner could easily have helped to ensure that the nominating papers for Mr. Scotland were filed in time.

And despite claims to the contrary, there was nothing to prevent the county elections staff from pointing out the Wednesday deadline so that it could be met. The insider skirmishing that has marred the deliberations of the elections board in recent years only serves to cast a pall of cynicism over the electoral system.

Why are these comments pertinent? Because they reflect the belief, by our local paper and Stainbrook, that it is the responsibility of the members of the board to notify candidates of deadlines and ensure that those deadlines are met.

So in the Lindsay Webb case, what position is Stainbrook going to take when it comes to responsibility for DeCamp's protest being late? Is he going to say that he, as a Republican member of the board, should have 'reminded' his candidates about the protest deadline? That's what he said in 2009:

"...the Republicans on the elections board should have reminded him."

And what position will the local paper take? Will they say that Stainbrook should have "helped to ensure" that the protest was "filed in time"? Or will they reverse their position on where the blame lies and again defend the publisher's buddy by making public excuses for him?

As for Webb, will Stainbrook and The Blade also say that it was Democrat board members Rothenbuler and Clark who are to blame for not 'reminding' her of the deadling for her acceptance filing? Somehow, I don't think so.

Don't get me wrong, my personal opinion is that Lindsay Webb never should have been certified. She missed a required filing and, as such, was not eligible for certification to the ballot.

Had I been a new member of the Board of Elections with two new directors heading the office, I would have requested, from the attorney assigned to assist the BOE, a complete list of requirements needed for each candidate and then directed the staff to prepare a checklist for the candidates for review during the meeting to certify them to the ballot. As a result of doing this, I would have known that one of the candidates failed to meet a filing deadline and the issue would have been dealt with prior to certification.

But that's me. Stainbrook is known for suing Republicans and spouting off - not for his administrative, supervisory or leadership skills. It is his failure to know what was required (despite saying that was the job of a BOE member) and ensure all requirements were met prior to voting on certification that led to the current fiasco.

And what about Stainbrook's fellow new Republican board member Anthony DeGidio? When DeGidio was appointed, it was his legal skills that were cited:

Mr. Stainbrook said Mr. DeGidio’s legal background will serve the board well.

“After you see all of the legal wranglings that happen at the board of elections you really need to have the party chairman and then there should be a lawyer,” Mr. Stainbrook said. “Tony DeGidio, with all the cases he’s done, he’s very aware of the Ohio Revised Code election law and that’s what you have to have is somebody looking out for the way things should be done. We’re lucky to have him.”

Where was DiGidio during the certification process ... and since??? If he's so aware of election law and is supposed to be looking out for the way things should be done, why didn't he know about the deadline for the nomination acceptance and ensure that all candidates had met it?

Obviously, as Stainbrook has said in the past, the problem is with the members of the board and they have failed miserably in their duties. As Stainbrook has so vehemently advocated in the past, they should resign.

But don't hold your breath.

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