Tuesday, August 14, 2012
It was only a matter of time.
Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted has placed the Lucas County Board of Elections under administrative oversight. But it's much more than that.
The BOE has been under administrative oversight in the past and I believe some (though certainly not all) of that was purely political, having more to do with internal party politics than actual running of the board.
Under the urging of The Blade, two good Republican members were chased off the board. Patrick Kriner and Lynn Olman had done phenomenal work in straightening out the BOE and putting it back on the path of running elections - not worrying about partisan politics.
They were aided in their efforts by the Democrat board members, Rita Brown and Gary Johnson - and then Ron Rothenbuler, who also focused on their responsibilities to run the elections.
But Jon Stainbrook ended up the chairman of the Lucas County Republican Party and made it part of his mission to get the BOE job for himself and his cronies - many of whom had been promised jobs at the BOE for supporting him, if rumors can be believed.
He worked within the rules - for the most part - in getting his executive committee to appoint him to both seats - but not before having 'deemed' Kriner and Olman to have resigned. He also claimed one seat was not properly filled and actually filed suit to have Kriner removed. The Executive Committee voted to Stainbrook in that seat.
Then Olman's term expired and Stainbrook had his executive committee appoint him to that seat as well.
Talk about confusing...and whatever happened to that lawsuit anyway?
He finally managed to actually gain the BOE seat, but it was only a matter of time before things started to unravel. Unable to work with Stainbrook and unwilling to take his abuse, Democrats appointed to the BOE resigned.
Recent Stainbrook appointees to staff positions, including Megan Gallagher, were quickly advanced to supervisory positions and then Gallagher ended up director, despite having no experience whatsoever in either the BOE or in any supervisory position.
The failure of the board to perform such basic tasks, like create an organizational chart, was a clear testament to the incompetence of the people Stainbrook wanted in control.
And for his own part, other than being able to turn out people (either for phone banks or at the central committee meetings to get his way), Stainbrook has no experience in managing or running anything.
He failed in his responsibility as chairman of the party to properly file the paperwork to put Jan Scotland on the ballot.
He failed in his responsibility as chairman of the party to properly file the party's campaign finance reports.
He has failed in his responsibility as chairman of the party to train and recruit qualified candidates.
He has failed in his responsibility to raise money to support those candidates (though he somehow finds party money to pay for his own personal campaign for the state central committee).
He has failed in his responsibility to advance the limited-government, lower-taxation principles of the Republican Party, supporting measures that expand government and endorsing tax increases.
He has failed to grow the party, resulting in fragmented groups going out on their own, often in contradiction to what he wants, in order to engage Republicans and support Republican principles.
He has failed at even keeping the party's web page current.
You can search on his name for my blog posts on all of these failures - they're too numerous to link to here, which is an indication of just how bad things have been.
Considering all these failures, I'm not surprised at his failure on the BOE, though I am surprised that it took Husted this long to act. Perhaps it was just a matter of giving Stainbrook enough rope with which to hang himself.
The sad part isn't that all of this was predictable. Nothing in Stainbrook's past performance indicates that he was ever going to be able to be a good board member intent on performing a reliable election process.
The worst part isn't even the devastation his actions have had on good people along the way - though that's clearly bad enough.
No, the worst part is that the integrity of the voting system in Lucas County is at risk.
The BOE hasn't hired an IT manager. I was told the other day when I was in the office that because no one had been hired, the staff hadn't been able to post the campaign finance reports from January on the BOE website. Being able to access those filings is part of what allows citizens to hold their elected officials accountable. That clearly wasn't - and still isn't - a priority, though bickering about who said what to whom still is.
At least Husted is assigning someone to handle the IT responsibilities, which include preparing all the voting machines for use. Of all things, this should have been top priority for the board, but they're too busy bickering over nonsense - which is what Stainbrook has always done.
So while everyone has been waiting for Stainbrook to put that rope around his neck and tighten the noose, voters in Lucas County are suffering and what was a smoothly-operating office (despite what you might have read in the local daily who distorted every issue in order to make the case that Stainbrook was "needed" on the BOE and the other members had to go) is now chaos with early voting beginning in less than 60 days.
Sometimes, the only thing you can do is to give enough rope. It's just too bad that so many have to suffer in order for the majority (and The Blade) to find out just how bad Stainbrook's tenure as chairman and on the BOE really is.