Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Elephant Wars: Alex Ouster Notes and Projections. UPDATED

Now that Kid T is safely nestled in bed, let us further consider the SoS Jennifer Brunner decision against re-appointing Alex Arshinkoff to the Summit County Board of Elections.

First off, Jeff got a quick post up with a good survey of what's available and calls on Redhorse, Team Chief Source and I to dish. And so we shall.

Allegations of partisan shenanigans have been flying around since Team Coughlin started putting its anti-Alex slate together. Specific allegations have included excluding some Coughlin candidates and punishing board employee Scott Sigel after Sigel wrote a letter complaining about how party leadership was managing the money. Much of it is reset in this ABJ article (for as long as it remains this side of the paywall) and Matt Hurley posted a long anonymous email about the Sigel saga. And yes, there is more and no doubt in the comments section the anonymice will play.

So what comes next? In Eric's post he wonders aloud if Alex will file some sort of challenge. Possibly, but it's highly unlikely he will succeed. The Revised Code vests sole appointment authority in the Secretary of State:

    There shall be in each county of the state a board of elections consisting of four qualified electors of the county, who shall be appointed by the secretary of state, as the secretary’s representatives, to serve for the term of four years.
She has to follow the party restrictions -- two from this party and two from that party -- but other than that, the statute is written to give her appointment authority. When Brunner removed the entire Cuyahoga County Board, she did so under a different statute that gives her the authority to remove only for some sort of malfeasance. This is different. Generally speaking, elected officials have broader discretion to appoint than to remove. I was just telling my class today that one always needs to check case law to be sure, but it looks like Alex can't do much if Brunner refuses to reappoint him.

Assuming Alex remains off the Board, what then? This is a potentially big blow to his continuing viability as Party Chair. Alex's survival at this point depends on an air of invincibility. Probably Coughlin & Co. do not have enough votes to unseat him with the precinct chairs on their slate, even if they run the But Alex has made plenty of enemies through the years -- almost certainly enough to take him down if they turn on him at the same time.

The problem for Team Coughlin to this point has convincing A2's enemies to jump ship together. To invoke Machiavelli, they won't strike at the king unless sure they will kill him. The weaker Alex gets, the more of his enemies will be jump. If they get a critical mass, he's gone.

And if not, look out. Alex's appetite for revenge rivals his appetite for roast beef. Rest assured, he's keeping a running list.

UPDATE: This morning's ABJ has an expanded story on Alex's ouster, including a laundry list of his transgressions from Brunner's letter:
    • Past and current Summit County board employees and others reporting incidents of ''harassment, intimidation, threats, hostility, retribution and condescension.''One board employee described the board as having ''the most negative, backbiting, unprofessional, juvenile and hypocritical atmosphere I have ever worked in'' and attributed this environment to Arshinkoff.

    • Affadavits filed by three Summit County judges related to litigation over the Oriana House Inc. correctional facility in which the judges said Arshinkoff ''attempted to interfere with the discharge of their official judicial duties and attempted to intimidate them.''

    • A partisan environment at the board ''where Republican board members have been intimidated from even talking to fellow board employees who are Democrats.''

    • Employees engaging in inappropriate partisan activity, ''such as recruiting precinct committee persons from the board office during the workday and preparing petitions for them.'' Brunner said this approaches or crosses ''the limits of legality.''


Ben said...

Good analysis of the situaton. Once the exodus starts with a couple of supporters, the floodwalls will probably break.

Anonymous said...

Scott, Noone is going to jump ship from arshinkoff. There are too many solid elected officials ready to give the lowdown on coughlin.

Coughlin is the ONLY person in Summit county who can drive people to SUPPORT Arshinkoff, coughlin is that bad.

You know this Scott, alex is alex but coughlin wants the power solely to further his demonic career.

Mencken said...

The Republicans at Portage CC may let Coughlin do their dirty work. But the leadership vacuum created by Alex stepping down wouldn't necessarily be filled by Coughlin, who may have as many in-house enemies as Alex.

If you're going to knock a hole in the levee, make sure you have somewhere firm and dry to stand.

Anonymous said...

Mencken is absolutlely correct about coughlin.