Friday, August 31, 2007

So Pho, How’s That Teaching Thing Going?

Friends have been writing, asking about my announced adjunct teaching gig at the University, so rather than keep writing the same email repeatedly, here goes. I am teaching The Supreme Court and the Constitution in the Political Science department.

This course doesn’t teach the “fun” parts of the Constitution – the Bill of Rights with all of its hot buttons. Instead, this course focuses on the parts of the Constitution that are fun only for hardcore law geeks – mostly the body of the Constitution proper, with a couple other amendments – the Tenth and the Civil War amendmentst especially – for good measure.

The material is dry because it’s difficult. But Articles I, II and III are the real engine of the document. That part of the Constitution gives each branch power, but also highlights that the power is limited, that the government has only the power granted by We the People. And the body of the Constitution establishes the system of checks and balances that has kept us a free and vital people for over two hundred year.

I better stop, I’m getting excited.

If you didn’t read this into the earlier mention, I’m kind of the Lecturer to Be Named Later. I was brought in with a couple weeks to go before class started to fill in after some late summer staff changes. So it has been an adventure putting the class together in a truncated time frame. Fortunately the professor scheduled to teach the class had ordered a book, so I have some foundation to build on. The book works overall but is a little textbooky whereas I favor assigning primary sources to students, so part of the challenge is to find supplemental readings with enough lead time to make it fair to the students.

Ah, the students. No doubt at some time one or more students will Google me and find his/her way to the blog (if it hasn’t happened already), so I’m not going into too much detail about the class itself. Suffice it to say that my students are all brilliant and engaged and will no doubt continue to do the reading and participate in class [waves].

My introduction to teaching was as follows. I toiled on my syllabus during the few free moments during the kids’ last few days of summer vacation. My kids did not actually start school until the day after my first class, so I had to find child care, didn’t get my syllabus copied prior to the first class and didn’t have time to scope out my room. This last turned out to be a real problem as I discovered that my 30-person, hoping-to-be-discussion-oriented class was scheduled in an auditorium that seats 400. I was trying to encourage a discussion from up on a stage as they strained to read my messy handwriting from a half mile away.

So the first class was a little rough. I couldn’t keep track of any of the students. I about wore out a pair of shoes trudging football field between the podium and the blackboard. Every humorous interjection landed with an audible thud. It was like that.

Second class was better. I got a new room, I felt a little more comfortable and I could at least pretend that there were students in the class who had read the material. I’m still shimmying up a steep learning curve, but the lecture was solid and we had a decent discussion. And it was fun.

So, that’s how it’s going. I have probably about two more weeks of heavy time consumption to get on top of things, then hopefully things will settle into a routine and I’ll be able to turn to a couple other projects that were planned for the fall.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Once More for the Permanent Record

Frontpage Magazine, the fringe rightwing David Horowitz house organ, published a story on the Megan Pappada flap so rife with error, so utterly divorced from any semblance of professional reportage that it would have pulverized the credibility of Horowitz’s enterprise if he had any left himself.

One happy truth about the blogosphere: if I feel a burning need to respond to something and don’t have time (because, for example., I’m prepping a lecture, assembling a sprawling blog carnival and winding the kids down from their first day of school. For example.) someone will pick me up. More than once that someone has been Modern Esquire – long the star of BSB for my money. He did it again, shredding FPM’s main argument that this shows that the ODP now embraces segregation.

OK, if you aren’t going to go read this ridiculous screed, I’m certainly not resetting the argument for you. Trust me, they get there somehow.

Still, for all of M. Esquire’s excellent work, I should try to clear up some of the detritus FPM scattered around trying to pin racial invective on the Democrats.

The story begins with my post. I am a “friend” of Megan’s (true, that) who notes that someone discovered the letter. Then we cut to Matt Naugle who actually digs up the letter. O intrepid and brilliant Matt! However did you find it? Well, maybe he clicked through the link to the Google search I posted. I wasn’t going to add another link to the letter itself and boost its ranking further, but jeebeezus it’s more than a stretch to give credit to Scoop Naugle.

Then they go through the segregated dorm floors stuff. Look. If Megan had just said she didn’t think segregated dorm floors were a good idea, that wouldn’t have raised an eyebrow. That wasn’t it.

After that, things really get surreal. Suddenly, the ODP is behind Megan sending her open letter. They somehow put her up to sending a letter of contrition. Because the ODP is that powerful. No. She sent it to me because she wanted her side aired. The letter hardly puts ODP in a good light. But she doesn’t hold the same views now as she did then, she wanted to say so and she said so.

Then the article claims that Jerid Kurtz did an about-face on the issue. Jerid said that he was wrong to claim ODP was stonewalling me (not my intent to say they had – just acknowledging that I had asked for comment). His take on Megan’s firing remained the same, as he clearly said when he also ran Megan’s letter. But according to FPM, he parroted the party line, “uber-leftist” lackey that he is. Laughable, all of it.

I sat on this story for a few days because I knew that rags like Frontpage were likely to issue just this sort of garbage spin. In the end I think things are better for having aired the controversy, but seeing wingnuts distort the record with their fevered imaginings still stings.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Carnival 80

It's rad. It's gnarly. It's def.

But most of all, it's up.

Dennis Kucinich Goes to Disneyland and all We Get Is This Lousy Poverty Rate

Love the newest video from the Rosemary Palmer campaign. The had the foresight to pay attention to the new census figures, the good fortune that Kucinich had a particularly embarrassing campaign event to attend for the Presidential Primary and the skill to pull off a find video. From the presser:




    * * *

    In its annual release of poverty data released today, The US Census Bureau has once again rated Cleveland as one of the poorest cities in the country. This is not the first time the city has earned this unwanted distinction and a trend seems to be developing. Cleveland has consistently been ranked highest in terms of poverty levels over the past decade. For data covering the 2006 Calendar year, Cleveland is ranked as the fourth poorest city, just behind, Detroit, Buffalo and Cincinnati, respectively.

    “This is heart-breaking news and a strong indication that there needs to be a new approach to addressing the problem,” said Rosemary Palmer, Candidate for the Democratic Nomination for the 10th Congressional District of Ohio. “Cleveland needs leadership determined to address the real problems facing Clevelanders,” she said.

    Palmer is challenging incumbent Congressman Dennis Kucinich for the party nomination in March of 2008. “Congressman Kucinich’s tenure as a Member of Congress is a clear failure given these statistics,” Palmer claimed. “True leadership is finding the best possible outcomes, and being able to forego the perfect in order to achieve the possible. A hands on, pragmatic approach is needed to address the complicated issue of poverty in Cleveland, and Congressman Kucinich is remarkably absent in the effort,” she said.
And here's the vid:

Given the litigious nature of the Disney intellectual property department, that video with that music may not be around long. Still a fine piece of work. Congrats to Team Palmer for a job well done.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Mayor’s Debate – First Impressions.

Mayor Don Plusquellec and challenger Joe Finley tussled in front of a packed house in the Martin Center today for the one and only debate before the primary two weeks from now. I took some time from class prep to check it out. While I have pages of notes, tonight there is barely time for an overview. Eric Mansfield and Ed Esposito each have detailed round-by-round coverage on their respective blogs. Also Esposito kvetches about the lack of fireworks on his and the Bliss Institute should have on-demand video available soon.

The room was packed with Dem party faithful. I was seated between County Councilwoman Eileen Shapiro and Tom and Joyce Sawyer. Pretty much everyone you would expect to be there was there. In addition to the politicos, I saw Kyle Kutuchief, Redhorse, and the aforementioned newly-minted MSM bloggers Esposito and Mansfield.

In addition to all that, Joe Finley had a highly partisan crowd bunched together in the center of the room. Who all they were, I can’t say, but they made a point of applauding loudly after every Finley turn at the mic.

The lot of us sat and watched an hour that is unlikely to change any minds. First off, people who have any inclination to get out and vote in the primary have overwhelmingly made up their minds. I have yet to meet a single person who intends to form an opinion about the race, but hasn’t yet.

Bottom line – either a voter thinks Plusquellec is worth the grief or not. Few, if any, would dispute that the Mayor is high-handed, mercurial, impolitic or rude. But after twenty years, we all also know what we get for our trouble – a pretty solid mayoralty in a city that has its troubles but is doing far better than most of its similarly situated neighbors.

And then there is the question of the alternative. Joe Finley is running as Notplusquellec. What the Mayor is for, he’s against. What they Mayor is against, he is for. And frankly, a couple of the things Finley seems to be against are personality and accomplishment. His speaking style was low-key to the point of inducing drowsiness.

And while the Mayor cited achievement after achievement, Finley could only pick at the margins. He never, through an hour of debate, cited a personal accomplishment as a member of Akron City Council, despite being challenged to by Plusquellec.

For that matter, in this race Finley doesn’t have ideas, so much as reactions. Looking over my notes, the only agenda items he cites are either instituting proposals the current administration rejected, or rejecting what the administration has implemented. Onc classic challenge in a primary is effectively differentiated oneself from the other candidate. Finley has certainly done that – by the end of the debate the only apparent commonality is a fondness for hair styling product. But the other challenge is making a case for change, and Finley has failed on that score.

In the end, Finley stands for little more than being a nicer guy than the Mayor. But the city is full of people nicer than the Mayor. Why should I vote for this one? Finley gives me no confidence that he can be anywhere near as effective along with the niceness. All we know is that the future employment of the city’s parking lot attendants will be more secure. That’s nice. But not good enough.

Meanwhile, the debate crystallized the central irritation I have with Finley’s campaign. Since he has little more to run on than a more agreeable personality, his campaign has devolved into bashing the city. He cites the expected statistics – people leaving, jobs leaving, crime rising – but ignores the fact that Akron is in better shape on every score than any other central city in our region.

Finley isn’t going to win. But his poormouthing campaign will have an enduring effect. The people who have committed to him will continue to believe that the city is heading down the tubes long after they’ve forgotten the barely there candidate who planted the idea. Supposedly he wants to lead the city, but all he’s doing is wearing down the people’s hope for better things ahead.

And darn it, that’s just not very nice.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Very Nearly Back and the Mayor's Debate Reaction is Coming

My syllabus is more or less done, as is prep for tomorrow's class. I attended debate for the Akron mayoral primary today and hope to have reaction up late tonight. See you then.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Random Songs and Little Else

Not having many random thoughts these days. Just one, overarching, screechingly high-volume thought: WHEN THE HELL AM I GOING TO FIND TIME TO FINISH THIS EFFING SYLLABUS!!?!?!???

And thus far, little in the way of an answer.

Meanwhile, in comments to last week's dose of Randomness, Earl asks aloud whether the songs are from my "personal stash." Indeed they are. And for the most part they are on CD's I've purchased, dinosaur that I am. And they are chosen from the first shuffle that yields not duplicate artists in the top ten. I emphasize this because #10 this week turns out the be from the album Earl mentioned in his comment. Wild coincidence.

1. "Four Sticks," Led Zepplin
2. "Sweet Soul Dream," World Party
3. "Suddenly, Everything Has Changed," The Flaming Lips
4. "My Eyes (Keep Me in Trouble)," Muddy Waters
5. "Never to Be Found," Meat Puppets
6. "On the Way Home," Buffalo Springfield
7. "My Morning Scene," Jonah Smith
8. "Divorce Song," Liz Phair
9. "Days and Days," Concrete Blonde
10. "4th of July, Asbury Park (Sandy)," Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band

Coughlin Responds To AA's Claims About Spending

I've been added to the email list (YES! And the foul!) of Team Coughlin HQ who sent along "Talking Points" about allegations coming from the A2 camp. The pro-Alex blog posted on Tuesday a list of what they deemed questionable expenditures during Coughlin's re-election campaign, including money spent at Firestone and Portage country clubs. Without even digging into reports the list appeared to be legitimate fundraising expenses. Indeed, that's what Coughlin's memo says, but the tone and swipes at Alex allies makes it fun reading:

    "Coughlin's campaign finance reports show questionable expenses too"

    Board of Elections director Bryan Williams spent the whole day Tuesday at Rep HQ (not at his office doing his $90,000 taxpayer funded job) pouring over my campaign finance records. Here's what they came up with:

    $2,969.69 "tab" at Portage Country Club? WRONG. That was the bill for a fundraising event held there in the summer of 2006 for my re-election. The Portage CC expenses listed for Arshinkoff on the party report were the aggregate of MONTHLY bills from Portage CC.

    $7,995 for Firestone Country Club? FOR MY ANNUAL GOLF FUNDRAISER!

    Mileage for campaign use? Sure, we do that for both me and the staff. It's fair and it's for campaign use and non-reimbursed state business. I have done a lot of traveling throughout the state over the last two years. Often on these trips, state business is mixed with campaign business. While the rules would allow me to seek reimbursement from the state, I voluntarily have the campaign reimburse to avoid the appearance of impropriety.

    OSU Football Tickets? Yes, like every other member of the legislature since the beginning of time. I get to maybe a game a year. The other tickets are donated to charities for auction or given to volunteers or donors. I would note that two tickets were donated to the 2006 Summit County Republican Oktoberfest as a raffle prize.

    Membership at BJ's Wholesale Club? Worth the break we get on parade candy, beverages for walkers, and HQ supplies.

    Meal expenses? We appreciate our staff, donors, and volunteers. You walk with me, you probably eat with me too. They keep coming back and we win elections.

    Alex and his crew are welcomed to examine my campaign finance reports as much as they like. In doing so, perhaps they will learn something about winning elections.
In addition to that, Coughlin takes on the rumor that his favored candidate to take over is attorney and former Fairlawn mayor Pete Kostoff:
    This is flat out wrong. Pete Kostoff certainly wants to see a new chairman, but is not part of this effort. In addition, I have no interest in serving as chair myself.

    Our team will put forward a candidate for chairman at a time of our choosing and it will be a team decision.
None of this appears on the New Summit Republicans website as yet (you guys might want to get a blog.) But there is news on the site. They have posted a list of the "latest" public officials joining the effort (the "earliest" being Coughlin and, well, Coughlin):
  • Green Mayor Dan Croghan
  • Hudson Mayor William Currin
  • Stow Law Director Candidate Daniel Dismuke
  • Stow Law Director Joseph Haefner
  • Former Hudson Councilman and Current Ward 1 Candidate George Roth
Not exactly the Mount Rushmore of Summit Repubs, but the fact that anyone is willing to sign on is bad news forA2.

Also, an essay from former party Exec Committee member Dave Reilly appears in full form now. While it's badly in need of an editor, it's worth reading for the going further than Coughlin did. Coughlin's letter signaled that the gloves are off; Reilly breaks out the brass knuckles.

Now anyone with even passing familiarity of the Pages knows I'm no fan of either Kevin Coughlin or Alex Arshinkoff. I'm willing to allow this blog to serve as neutral (in the sense of being equally hostile to each side) ground in this fracas. Kind of like a golf course. Not only do the antagonists play each other, they also must contend with the hazards here.

Mr. Arshinkoff, I believe you are away.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Reporters Roundtable Takes on Akron

On this week's Reporters Roundtable on WCPN panelists discussed two of the big topics here in Akron -- the University's purchase of Quaker Square and the fight for chairmanship of the Summit County Republican Party.

Let's get this out of the way first. During the Quaker Square discussion, moderator Dan Moulthrop quoted Your Humble Blogger. The quote showed admirably current prep as he quoted last night's post. Thanks to Dan and panelist Kymberli Hagelberg for the nice mention.

Normally a namecheck would warrant nothing more than a one-liner in a "Random" post. But when they turned to the Coughlin/Arshinkoff tilt, things really got interesting. Hagelberg noted that neither she nor the ABJ reporters covering the story could find a single R elected official -- current or past -- who would speak against A2.

Second, freelance writer Chris Maag runs through a number of Alex's more troubling facets including a reset of the entire Scene Magazine piece from 2002 and noted the real concern that Arshinkoff may compromise the party's interests to remain in the closet.

Someone noted a Debbie Owens Fink letter in today's ABJ in which she defends Arshinkoff (who supported her in the last election against Tom Sawyer, whose campaign I worked for.) Among other things, she notes:

    It is no secret that Coughlin was upset that Mary Taylor, former state representative, was supported by the local Republican Party to run for statewide office, while he was not.
    Coughlin's letter rant also claimed that Summit County demographics are more favorable than ever for Republicans. Where are his figures coming from? Recent statistics show that for ''likely voters'' (those who actually vote) in Summit County, 43 percent are Democrats, 37 percent are independents most of whom vote for either the Democrat or the best-known candidate (likely to be a ''D'') and only 20 percent vote Republican. Democrats have better than a 2-to-1 advantage over Republicans.
Someone named "Tom" phoned in to say that his wife is a Republican office holder in Summit and has never been pressured by Alex to do anything. Fine Tom, I'll see your one wife and raise you two Republican judges.

The whole show is worth listening to, but this segment is nothing but fun.

Breaking: Bobby Cutts Indicted

The only real suspense as we awaited indictments in the case against Bobby Cutts for the high-profile murder of Jesse Davis and her unborn baby was whether prosecutors would try for the death penalty. Apparently Stark County prosecutors feel they have the evidence for death specifications. Coverage:

Akron News Now.

They also have indicted his classmate Myisha Farrell for complicity.

The Prosecutors Office had scheduled a press conference this morning to announce the indictments. A move which, by the way, prompted Mayor Plusquellec to move a previously-scheduled 11 a.m. press conference so as to ensure a healthy press presence.

Top Chef: Hard Opening

The “previously” scenes don’t tell us much. Pretty much a straight up retelling of the previous episode.

First shot of the cast is – get this degenerate Googlers –Casey in a bikini. It’s the shot they used in the “Watch What Happens” reunion show. Someone – I think Caroline – was saying that the show was trying to build Casey up as a hot babe and “she’s really not like that” or words to that effect. As Caroline was talking, they show a feet-to-face pan of Casey in a bikini. That’s the shot they use to open.

Then interviews with people about how competitive they are, how much they want to win. It’s Tre then CJ, if that matters later.

Hung finds envelopes slipped under the door. Four years into these frachises and the Bravo producers continue to communicate with the cast like something out of Man From U.N.C.L.E.

The envelopes contain the full critiques from food blogger Andrea Strong. BTW, Ms. Strong is an instructor for Media Bistro. Today MBToolBox features an interview with her about her turn on the show. She says she would have sent Howie home for his risotto, but that the worst dish was April’s grouper dish. We never hear about that in two episodes.

Howie is pissed that she called the oyster and watermelon concoction a “disaster.” Because an oyster just can’t be a disaster, he says. Everyone else seems to be taking in the criticism with a minimum of bitching.

Quickfire. Mise en place relay shuck a dozen oysters, butcher a chicken, fine dice an onion and beatin two eggs essentially to soft peaks.. Howie more or less keeps seafood specialist Brian in range. Then it’s Sarah vs. Casey on onions.

Good lord, Casey. I can dice onions faster than that and I’m a klutz. She just floats the knife above the vegetable instead of keeping a point on the cutting board and chopping. And what the hell knife is she using? Looks like a utility knife. I sure as hell isn’t a chef’s knife of any sort. Casey is still on onions when Hung is done with the chicken. She’s just barely done when Dale is done with the eggs. Ballgame. Embarrassment.

The winner gets to consult with a sommelier that Colicchio “knows,” and who is opening a restaurant in Miami. A sommelier. Gee, who could that be?

Elimination: Restaurant War II.

The chefs are consulting with a restaurant designer who was the bitchmaster who was sitting with Andrea Strong the night before. He happens to be Madonna’s brother Chris Ciccione. His input basically makes the décor of the restaurant a wash. April loses that advantage for what it’s worth. Now it’s all about the food.

Tre lingers on the balcony to overhear Team Garage. He hears that they are replacing their first course with a braised rabbit.

To the surprise of Hung and Dale and no one else, the sommelier is Steven from Season 1. The only real surprise is that Steven is wearing jeans on the job. This from a guy who sells street food in a suit and tie.

It turns out that Team Garage, oops, Team Quatre, is adding the rabbit first course alongside Hung’s already proven tuna tartare.

Colicchio is in the kitchen all night. This is more similar to real cooking competitions where how orderly and clean the chefs run the kitchen is a judging criteria. Also, Chef Tom is going to know who to blame for the “Worst dish” Ted Allen has had “in a very long time.”

Funny, when they showed the sword opening the Champaign in the previews I thought of nothing so much as Steven. And there it is.

The judges aren’t happy with Dale’s attire. Neither is the guy at the bowling alley down the street who wants it back.

The judges appear pretty happy with Quatre. So April is about to serve the Worst Dish. It’s Tre’s king salmon cured in beet juice. It sounds bad like that, though really the bad part was apparently the pesto that accompanied it. What’s more Tre said he could make bread pudding in his sleep; sounds like he did.

Hey, we haven't sold anything all show. What's up with that. They could at least have declared in the quickfire that someone had to quarter a Tyson's chicken or something. Rough week for the sales department.

And by the way, and increasingly rough week for us Gail fans.
Judge’s Table

They love Quatre. Everything but what Dale wore.

Much rougher on April, especially two of Tre’s dishes.

Quatre wins. Padma plays up the drama to comical excess. She breaks pattern one time last week and thinks she can freak everyone out. Then she makes with the big pretty eyes and tells them then won. Sarah is the individual winner, but doesn’t get anything.

The losers – Restaurant April. The judges have something bad to say about everyone. Tre is out and totally mans up about it. He was executive chef and the team lost so he’s out.

In the previews last week we heard Padma saying it was a surprising decision and Tom saying it was “about tonight.” Those lines weren’t in tonight’s show. Tre is a fan favorite and it looks like Bravo wanted to soften the blow that he was out. It’s the first season that an early favorite didn’t make it at least into the top five.

With Tre out the final three is wide open. And as Marcel showed last season, if you catch lightening in a bottle in the semi, you are in the final. Someone somewhere is laying odd on this show, and I'm glad it's not my job to handicap it.

Watch, if you'll pardon the expression, what happens.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Quaker Square Questions

The Dispatch, which is all over the Akron U’s purchase of Quaker Square like beige on oatmeal, is on about misstatements by University Counsel Ted Mallo. You can read yesterday’s Dispatch online story or today’s print edition for the details.

The Beacon picks up the story on its front today, but with a decidedly less breathless tone. The sale, after all, was based on independent appraisals, not the auditor’s assessment which everyone (but the Dispatch) know is way less than anything we would normally call market value. Still, information explaining all that in the ABJ’s story raises some questions:

    The appraiser hired by the university who came up with the price said last night that the county auditor does not consider the value of such things as the Crowne Plaza name nor the historic nature of the property, converted in the mid-1970s from a grain elevator to a hotel with round rooms in the former silos.

    Charles G. Snyder, who has offices in New Philadelphia and Uniontown, said the auditor also doesn't take into account the income a property produces.

    Also, the price for almost any real-estate transaction is more than the county auditor's official valuation of the property.
So the U got a fair price because of various factors that make the property a viable business site, but the U isn’t running it as a business. Even using some of the rooms and other elements of the business as part of the hospitality school, the Crown Plaza name and the historical nature of the property don’t benefit the University.

Instead of muttering about abstract value numbers, the Dispatch could be focusing on a real question. Namely, should a university pay a premium for a functioning business when that premium doesn’t benefit the university? I’m not so sure they should, but it doesn’t sound like anything is going to change, whether or not Mallo returns to Columbus to clarify his All we can do now is watch the U try to make this a good investment.

Carnival and Some Other Stuff

. . . and we're back. Apparently Google suffered a server crash this morning, rendering the Pages inaccessible. TIA to everyone who keeps trying and eventually finds their way back.

This year Merriam-Webster officially added "ginormous" to the lexicon. Though generally I don't favor adding fad words and usages, this was a happy day for me as I've taken a shine "ginormous." It bears mentioning now due to this week's GINORMOUS Carnival of Politics. Thanks to Jill for putting in time-and-a-half to post it, to everyone who contributed, and to first-timers Cee Jay, TBMD and Tim Ferris.

And kids, don't forget to post a link. Link love is how we get happy Technorati results and spread the Carnival love even farther.

Finally, you may have noted a certain lag in posting timeliness. A bit of a hitch in my gitalong. A couple things are causing that. First, it's orientation week at the law school, which means Prof. W is turning in 12 hour days and I'm on extended daddy duty. Second, I've taken on something new -- I'll beteaching a course at the U as an adjunct. This is a fairly new development and I've been scrambling to assemble a syllabus and prep the first couple of classes, along with the usual glorious chaos here at the House of Pho. The upshot is that posting will continue to be spotty at least through next week. I'll do my best to keep something interesting on the front page and thank you for your patience.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Alex v. Kevin

The Arshinkoff and Coughlin forces are hitting the mattresses in their struggle for leadership of the Summit County Republican Party. And more importantly, the internet. The anti-Alex Arshinkoff (also known as A2) forces have a sweet website up -- NewSummitRepublicansdotcom. The Coughlin letter is now the text of "Time for a Change" (without direct attribution.) The list of the supposed A2 losing streak is there as is a page of "Clips that Make the Case" and

What doesn't appear is a list of supporters. Anywhere. The only name that appears is Coughlin. And by the way, he has graciously donated space in his election office to the effort. Let's think about that. He's a term-limited State Senator who had election space -- not by any means universal in statehouse races -- and kept it. We have Exhibit #952834230 that Coughlin is running for something statewide in '10.

So for now, it's the Kevin Coughlin movement. As the movement goes forward, it will be interesting to see what level of public support he gets.

Meanwhile, the pro-A2 forces have apparently scrambled to catch up on line. Either they didn't see this coming or they didn't anticipate theneed for taking the fight online. But thanks to the folks at blogger everyone can mount a website in the five minutes it takes to set up the account. So we have KeepSummitRepublicansStrong dot blogspot. Again, no one's name is named.

I can't help but wonder about that. Two denizens of the Republicans' Mount Olympus are hurling thunderbolts at each other and the rest of the republic is running and hiding. One way this could play out: we'll know who's winning by who starts getting name supporters. Of course another possibility -- the anti site has a list of all the Republican office holders. If Alex is Alex, he's going to start calling his friends on that list and telling them to get their names taken off. If people start disappearing off the list, it's safe to call that first blood.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Congress '08: Another Ohio Retiree?

A favorite sport in Washington these days is spotting the Republican retirees. With majority days behind them, many Republican lawmakers are cashing in their chips and others are rumored. Here in Ohio, Deborah Pryce has announced her retirement and Ralph Regula sounds like he's on his way out. Now the Springfield News-Sun is speculating that the Seventh District's David Hobson (R-Springfield) is also considering calling it quits.

Hobson is 70, a ex-military man, pro-defense but all in all an apparent moderate. In the last election he was opposed by William Conner, also retired Air Force who, as a political novice in a well-drawn Republican district, managed almost 40% of the vote. Connner says he plans to run again. It's a long shot, but if Conner runs as a hawkish D and an outsider, he may be able to swipe another seat.

According to the Sun-News, the Republicans may run State Sen. Steve Austria who is term-limited and a close ally of Hobson. Having a successor waiting in the wings may make it easier for Hobson to walk. In any event, another district in play will make things more fun all around.

The Dispatch's Odd Take on Quaker Square

Yesterday’s Dispatch ran troublingly tendentious story about the University of Akron’s impending purchase of the Quaker Square property. While I haven’t been much impressed with Beacon’s reporting on the issue, the Dispatch story makes the ABJ’s coverage look Pulitzer-worthy by comparison

The reporter tries to make the case that Something Is Wrong with the system by which universities acquire property, but appears not to have the facts to do so. Instead, the story contains dark-toned paragraphs which, once qualifiers are added, mean little. The rhythm of the piece is [1. Damning factoid] comma although [2. clarification that makes it not so damning really.]
As in:

    [1]The price for a fifth of those purchases was at a rate of at least $1 million an acre, although [2]state officials say such a measure holds little meaning for developed urban land.

Why yes, I could see how land with a ten story building on it might be a tad pricier than just land. Next,

    The historic downtown Akron structure -- converted in the mid-1970s from a grain elevator to a hotel featuring round rooms in the former silos -- will be converted again early next year into dorms for 382 students. [1]That's about $60,000 per student, although [2] the complex also includes offices, a banquet hall and 450 parking spaces.

And lots of retail and restaurant space that also could be converted to myriad uses. And by the way, how much “per student” does dorm space generally cost?

    The $22.7 million price, which matches the lower of the college's two appraisals, [1] is more than double the property's $9.8 million value for tax purposes.

    While [2] the price for almost any real estate transaction is more than the county auditor's official valuation of the property, universities are paying on average about 63 percent more than the land's tax value.

Anyone who has tried to write messaging for a levy campaign knows this one. Taxable value is a fraction of actual market value. So if this was really a damning fact, maybe we would have some information about how much more than tax value urban property generally runs. We don’t. Throughout piece, the reporter fails to provide crucial facts that make the numbers meaningful. Instead, he shocks us with numbers than mean nothing without context.

Then we have this.

    The Quaker Square purchase, which initially angered Mayor Donald Plusquellic because he was kept in the dark, also benefits Akron industrialist and charter-school operator David Brennan, who would own the city's only downtown hotel.

    "It should help us, yes," Brennan, owner of the 274-room Radisson Hotel Akron City Centre, told the Akron Beacon Journal. He said Akron doesn't need a second downtown hotel.

*gasp* A David Brenner sighting. But perhaps the reporter should have noted that the same Akron Beacon Journal has reported that some rooms in the Quaker Square hotel will remain hotel rooms and that the city is in the process of finding a developer for a new hotel. Kind of an important additional fact.

It may or may not be true that our public universities are paying too much for property. If it’s true, the reporter should have dug up the facts to make the case. If it isn’t true, the story shouldn’t have run.

UPDATE: I don't have an online source to link, but Hannah News Service is reporting that the Controlling Board approved the purchase.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Coughin v. Arshikoff. The Men Who Would Be King of the Suimmit

The lead story in today's Akron Beacon Journal and on last night's News Night Akron is State Kevin Coughlin either launching or joining a campaign to oust Alex Arshinkoff as GOPper di tutti GOPper in Summit County. There are actually two stories available from the Beacon -- the one posted on yesterday and today's lead, fleshed out with some interviews and response from Arshinkoff himself.

Coughlin announced the campaign by sending a letter to party leaders that outlines his complaints against Arshinkoff. Whatever Coughlin writes in his letters, the bottom line is there can be only one king of the mountain and right now Coughlin isn’t it. The blimp hanger isn”t big enough to simultaneously hold the egos and outsized ambitions of these two men. Still, the letter is instructive. Here's Coughlin's main theme.

    Chairman Alex Arshinkoff’s classic bunker-mentality style of leadership is the root cause of this decline. In short, he is too paranoid, too vindictive, too manipulative, too untrustworthy, and too erratic to continue leading our party.
All true. One wonders if Coughlin is also thinking: too gay. But I doubt it.

Coughlin’s 95 theses touch on the essence of Arshinkoff, but don’t delve into the particular’s. Alex’s exercises dominion over his fiefdom by controlling money and political jobs. His most embarrassing recent public feuds – the fishing expedition at Oriana House, the Who’s Your Daddy obstruction of expanding the county judiciary – have aimed and either expanding or protecting his power base. And when he locks horns with a widely popular official like Judge Mary Spicer, well, it’s just Alex being Alex.

But then, the fortunes of the Republican Party turned. The strike at Alex brings to mind the end of Bobby Knight’s tenure at Indiana. While he was winning, the school would tolerate pretty much any level of abuse from Coach Knight. But when the team started bowing out in the first round of the Tourney to the likes of Pepperdine, he was no longer worth the price.

So it has been for Arshinkoff. People put up with him because he won, period. Now that he’s not winning it's not surprising that people are questioning whether he's worth keeping around.

An honest assessment of the reversal of fortune would acknowledge the myriad forces beyond Arshinkoff’s control: The scandal-ridden state party, the bloody mess in Iraq, a statewide economy in shambles coupled with a local economy doing comparatively well under Democratic rule. Alex acknowledges the challenges in today's ABJ story. I would add to that a resurgent county Democratic Party which had finally moved beyond the shock of losing much of the union base.

Alas, no. In Coughlin fashion, in the end it’s the fault of the Democrats:
    More and more, Alex appears to be the dancing bear on a chain held firmly by the local Democratic Party. He’s endorsed a Don Plusquellic-led effort to hike the income tax. He’s refused to run a candidate against Plusquellic in this year’s mayoral election. He has cut deals with Democratic Party leaders to allow vulnerable Democrats to run unopposed, and is rumored to be making a similar
    deal for 2008.

Alex’s response to this on AkronNewsNow is surrealistic spin:
    He defended working with local Democrats, in particular not fielding a GOP challenger to Akron Mayor Don Plusquellic at this time, citing the need to have an influential player in City Hall at this time to lead efforts to keep Goodyear in the city and preserve local jobs. Arshinkoff noted that with Democrats holding virtually all state executive positions in Columbus (the lone exception is State Auditor Mary Taylor), and the uncertainty of the 2008 U.S. Presidential election where Democrats may take back the White House while holding both houses of Congress, it was more important for Summit County to have powerful voices with a local agenda that could be heard in both Columbus and Washington.
When Alex starts talking about the good of the County, keep a hand on your wallet. Alex’s mode all along has been the care and feeding of Alex. For a long time, he was the equivalent of General Motors – what was good for Alex was good for the Republicans. But fortune’s ebb hasn’t made him an altruist.

I don’t know why Alex supported the income tax hike, but I can guess. Alex’s power comes from fundraising, especially from business people. The income tax hike was going in large part toward “economic development” projects, the sorts of projects that many of those business contributors would stand to benefit from. It’s a theory.

As for not running a candidate against Plusquellec, the Republicans aren’t running because they would lose. Alex fired everything he had at Plusquellec in 2003 and hardly made a dent. He had a name candidate in term-limited Representative Bryan Williams, worked the primary to make sure there was lots of money and ran hard. Plusquellec responded by calling out Arshinkoff in his announcement speech and running both on his own record and against Arshinkoff Republicans, to the extent he had to run at all. The net result was a 70%-30% shellacking. If Coughlin were serious about carefully spending resources, he too would leave that one be.

With regard to the other deals with Democrats Coughlin cites, the most high-profile one was the agreement not to run against Prosecutor Sherri Bevan Walsh in exchange for the Dems not running against Sheriff Drew Alexander in 2004. The scuttlebutt was that Arshinkoff wanted to spend money on the national race, as opposed to defending one office and take on a reasonably strong incumbent in another. In the end Alex got the better end of the deal. Alexander had no opponent, but Republican David Drew ran against Walsh as an independent. And it certainly doesn’t look like Drew suffered for breaking the deal – he was able to run for an at-large seat on County Council – that race appears on Coughlin’s list of Arhinkoff losses.

It’s a well-worn political trick to paint an interparty rival as too close to the other guys. But don’t buy it. Arshinkoff is a partisan and self-motivated and devious as ever.

Meanwhile, this has the makings of an all-out interparty war, with lots of interesting collateral damage. Stay tuned.

Friday, August 17, 2007


The summer is drawing to a close and frankly I'm ready for the next chapter. The kids have had a great summer and we've had lots of fun together but I'm ready for a change. I'm also ready to be able to write up the tribulations of Ohio charter schools as they occur, something that I've been hard pressed to do lately.
  • Tonight was the world premier of High School Musical 2. If this means nothing to you, apparently you have no ten-year-old girl in your life.
  • I've finally finished repairing my sidebar from the Great Template Change Massacre. I had forgotten about the list of aggregators until Rob Hawkins, proprietor of PlanetNEO wrote to tell me of his redesign. So that is up. In addition, blogger and entrepreneur J.D. Amer has a Northeast Ohio wiki up -- NEO 2.o -- with a blogger page. It's also linked and I encourage folks to visit and enter info, blog-related or otherwise.
  • Interesting link to the Carnival -- Angela Stevens, a blogger out of Nebraska, plugged "politics" into a Google search for a Thursday Thirteen and the Ohio Carnival was in the top 13 results. Thanks, Angela. We'll take the love where we find it.
  • I've been watching Mad Men on AMC. They have an interesting ad gimmick going. During breaks, before each commercial they cut in a graphic with some bit of ad trivia superimposed over the grayscale skyscraper facade motif from the show's opening credits. Sometimes it's about advertising generally, sometimes a factoid about the commercial about to air. These, I suspect, come as a result of a premium ad buy. As networks scramble to counteract both internet advertising and the DVR effect, this could well be duplicated elsewhere, but it only really makes sense with a show about advertising.
  • A Baptist preacher in Califonia has responded to an IRS complaint by exhorting his parishioners to pray that God smite the group that brought the complaint -- Americans United for Separation of Church and State. Some posts you pass on because they are too easy.
  • Kid T has been amusing us lately with utterly random similes. In the past day she has been "cold like a mustang" and "tired like a moose." No idea.
Now here it is, your Moment of Ten:

1. "Mayreh," Art Blakey Quintet
2. "Jessie James," Bruce Springsteen
3. "Sixteen Blue," The Replacements
4. "Beware, Brother, Beware," Louis Armstrong
5. "Verses from the Abstract," A Tribe Called Quest
6. "(Don't Go Back to) Rockville," R.E.M.
7. "Hidden Charms," Howlin' Wolf
8. "Bring the Noise," Anthrax and Public Enemy
9. "Tennesee," Jimmy Martin and the Sunny Mountain Boys
10. "Big Day," XTC

Rap and Metal are such a natural match -- loud noise and bad attitude to appeal to hormone addled adolescents -- that they probably would have come together eventually. Still Public Enemy's collaboration with Anthraxt to remake their already-classic "Bring the Noise" catalyzed the new blend. Before Fred Durst turned rap metal into a joke, before Flavor Flav turned himself into a joke, there was "Bring the Noise." And the video was over the top.

The Boring Made Dull Goes Global

I was just driving and listening to the BBC's World Have Your Say on WCPN. The subject was the recent suggestion by Bishop Martinus Muskens in The Netherlands that everyone start referring to God as "Allah." As the show is wont to do, they quoted blog reaction on the topic at hand. First up was from Akron's own The Boring Made Dull quoting the following passage of this post:

    I wasn't aware that we got to name God; He names himself.

    . . . the name of God carries a theological position. Allah isn’t the God worshipped by Christians or Jews. This is a distinction that every Muslim understands – Why can’t a Catholic Bishop get it?
When I read it last night I thought it was a nice turn of phrase. I also think it's incorrect -- the God of Islam is called Allah in Arabic and is the same God (or concept of God if you prefer to think in those terms.) The fundamental cleavage between Islam and everyone else isn't "There is no God but Allah," it's in ". . .and Mohammed is His prophet." Therein lies the rub with the good Bishop's kumbayaa by branding plan. So Boring and I take equally dim views of the idea, but from somewhat different angles.

But I digress. I thought it was a nice turn of phrase and distilled the conservative Christian viewpoint down to a compact couple of sentences. The thing Boring excels at and that frankly keeps the blog from living down to its name. Hearing the words of a local blogger and friendly adversary quoted on an international news program underscores the "Worldwide" in Worldwide Web.

By the way, World Have Your Say maintains a program blog and Boring's words appear on the post regarding today's show, but with no link. Bad form in any language. I exhort Ohio bloggers of all stripes to dish the link love liberally.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Top Chef: Open Questions

No one gets any Unmotivated Closeup in the scenes from last time. Damn: CJ says Howie is done for them. I thought his “baby of the house” comment was a little out of line, but for the most part he was calling Sarah on being slow. Howie appears to becoming the house heavy, which would make him the first one that I generally like.

I’m giddy with anticipation. What are we selling today?

Padma: Before you are menus form Red Robin Burgers the nation’s premier gourmet burger restaurants. Yes, Red Robin, the home of the high-end foodie burger. And here we have Chef Daniel Boulud, creator of a four-star-worthy fine dining burger. Visit a Red Robin near you to enjoy a gourmet burger that is by inference in the same conversation as Boulud’s but for less than $125.


The winner doesn’t get immunity. That’s one artifact of narrowing down to eight chefs. Another is that everyone gets some face time during quickfire. No more unmotivated close-ups. I honestly have no idea who’s going to be top and bottom.

Everyone executed well. The problem was people “sliding toward more warm sandwich.” Sara and Tre are the bottom for that reason. CJ wins. I was happy to see Howie and __ mentioned since they actually cooked meat for God sake.

Elimination – Restaurant Wars. Plan and open a restaurant -- including concept, decor and cuisine -- in one day.

Everyone is talking about how excited they are about this. It’s always been my least favorite challenge. I’m not impressed with putting a restaurant together in a day. It seems like it’s more about making an impossible challenge and seeing whose failure is the least humiliating. Reminds me too much of the bar exam.

CJ gets to pick his team as a result of winning the quickfire. I suspect he will pick NotHowie. Here we go. CJ, Tre Brian and Casey against Dale, Hung, Sara and Howie. Just on first blush I’d say Howie’s streak of getting his team to the bottom is likely to be safe.

Sara as executive chef? She’s probably the least impressive chef remaining. I hope everyone is happy with jerk marinade.

Brian has a secret weapon -- a suit!

One of the previews last week had Ted saying “What chef in his right mind puts a scented candle on a table.” Brian talks Casey out of them, but Dale and Hung go for them. Prof. W. notes that the stores where they are shopping look entirely like Pier 1. But apparently Pier 1 hasn’t cut a product placement deal so it’s just “The store” throughout.

Oh, Tre does like him some diver scallops, don’t he? Colicchio walk through: Tom doesn’t like cutting the tenderloin into filets, he’d rather see them carve whole tenderloin’s tableside. (Of course the downside of that is that you can’t marinade the meat because you have so little time.) Aside from that, not much to report.

It's a little heartening to see a high quality chef like Tre forget the potatoes in the smoker because that happens to me all the time. Tonight my tomato/roasted pepper relish was mushy because I left the tomatoes in boiling water too long while I was grilling the peppers. Still, I wonder if he would have been better off with no starch on the plate, given the reaction to the bad spuds.

Service. Hard to figure out whose is the least worst restaurant. It does seem like Team April is a few over-smoked potatoes away from a win. Team Garage looks to have more problems, but Hung's tuna tartare is the one clear hit dish. One interesting fact – both teams execute a successful dessert. No watermelon and gorgonzola this season.

Judge’s Table.

Food blogger Andrea Strong attended the “openings” and wrote up comments. The judges have one of the top ten chefs in the world at the table, but they spend most of the time reading Strong’s comments. The effect is somewhat surreal, like the critique coming from some disembodied soul. Everyone needs to have their blog excess moment.

They start with April (CJ’s team). It's the usual Padma acting all serious and big-eyed, the team walks in, the judges are looking stern. Usually this is the time Padma brightens up and says "congratulations." But this time she says they "are not the winning team.” Heavy mindfuck. And then they proceed to kick them all over the room. The pototoes were too smoky. Brian was flustered. The potatoes were too smoky. The oyster was topped with a watermelon slurpee. Oh, and the potatoes were too smoky.

Then Garage whom they also beat up on. Howie I’m amazed that Dale has a weak sense of smell and is a chef. Of course, if he didn’t smoke, that might help. Ah, Padma is surprised too. Frankly I think Hung's successful tuna tartare

Is Howie really arguing with an Italian chef about how to make risotto? And he put cream in it? Cream proclaims "I don't know how to make risotto." As Tom says, the creaminess comes from the rice; you add broth into arborio stirring constantly and the outer layer of starch sluffs off, yielding a delightfully creamy texture with no actual cream added.

Tom says he knows "exactly" what they should do. Then a commercial break.

Then Padma comes in and asks to see Dale and Brian. Because they aren’t going to send anyone home. They are going to let both restaurants open a second day after fixing the problems, then send someone home. Given that Restaurant April’s big problem was the oversmoked potatoes, I’d pick them to win. But the previews say they end up with a “surprising decision.” To Be Continued.

Richard Cordray Coming to Akron Tomorrow

State Treasurer Richard Cordray has been touring the state promoting his two favorite ideas -- economic development and financial literacy. He comes to Akron tomorrow. From the presser:

    Economic Development
    9:15-10:15 a.m. Ellet IGA Grocery New FirestonePark Store, 1028 Hammel Street.

    Ohio Treasurer Richard Cordray is reviving the state’s interest rate reduction program for small businesses. Right now the Treasury has nearly $500 million to invest in Ohio small businesses through the Linked Deposit program, which can help borrowers save up to three percent on their loan.

    Treasurer Cordray will be stopping at Ellet Grocery in Akron as part of a statewide tour of Ohio small businesses. The grocery is a recent participant of the Treasurer Cordray’s Linked Deposit program and serves as a model for other Ohio small businesses. Cordray will be available to discuss the economics behind the program and his intentions for its success.

    Women & Money
    12:15-12:45 University of Akron, 302 Buchtel Common

    Through the past decade women have surged as leaders in business, at home and in the consumer marketplace. According to a study by the Center for Women’s Business Research, majority women-owned businesses have continued to grow at nearly two times the rate of all businesses. In Ohio, there are an estimated 350,369 privately-held, majority women-owned businesses, generating nearly $58 billion in sales.

    With this in mind, Ohio Treasurer Richard Cordray brings his “Women & Money” conference to Akron, offering free seminars focusing on subjects such as budgeting, homeownership, investing and retirement planning. The event will bring hundreds of Akron area women together to examine financial issues affecting everyone. Guided by financial planning experts, the day-long program will explore common errors, solutions and unique ideas.

I have family plans (of course) so no coverage.

Top Chef Last Week: No Surprises

I did get a chance over the last couple of days to review last week's episode with my laptop behaving reasonably well. This now, then last night's episode later tonight.

Right off we get some ominous Unmotivated Closeup of Sarah N, particularly about her Achilles heel: working slow in the kitchen. The five minutes I considered cooking as a career ended when I got honest about my slow, clumsy knife work. Sarah has real problems getting the food done and out.

Howie lets us know that Joey and he “could only get so close” because it’s a competition. Nice to know Howie isn't going to let a little thing like basic human emotion get in his way.

Theme: Guilty Pleasures.

Quickfire. Sponsored this week by Coldstone Creamery.

Soon as I see someone cutting cauliflower, we know we’re in trouble. And it’s Hung. No surprise there. Hung is not just any monkey, he’s the monkey who puts cauliflower in ice cream. He says he wants to “refresh the palate.” Certain phrases carry portents of doom on this show. Like “I’m not a pastry chef but there should be dessert with this meal.” Or, “Chef Colicchio, try my pannacotta .”

To that we can add “I wanted to refresh the palate.” Only once have two contestants been knocked out in the same show, and they were trying to “refresh the palate.” Word to contestants – leave those palates unrefreshed.

Casey tries to put Serracha in ice cream. If you haven’t had the pleasure, sriracha is a Vietnamese chili and garlic sauce. It is hot chili, vinegar and garlic. I’ve had hot pepper jelly on ice cream before and it’s delicious. But garlic and ice cream is a match made in Hell.

And Chef Armstrong shudders. It looked like one of those trying-to-keep-it-down shudders.

Hung once again lost because he’s above the rest of us. He understand putting cauliflower in

Elimination challenge. They are “off the hook.” Going to enjoy Miami nightlife.

OK, I’ve seen the previews and everything, but how can these guys see the twist coming. Have they never seen a Bravo competition show? These shows all pride themselves on the “twists.” Nope, everyone is taken in.

Oh no, some more up close and personal with Sarah and Dale. Another kiss of death “X and I have become very close.” Bye-bye X.

So here is the twist. Padma and Govind Armstrong and the knife block.

Commercial break and the show is tying the winning quickfire dish to a Bombay Sapphire cocktail. In case you forgot they are a sponsor. Wonder what Bertolli frozen entrée it goes best with? Mmm, don’t know, but there’s the Bertolli commercial right on time. And Rocco flogging his cooking show contest.

Back to the show and Sara M. tells us that Sarah N and Casey are pissed off that they are dressed in going-out clothes and showing cleavage and have to work in the kitchen that way. Don’t you wonder if Padma had this idea, given the grief she gets for wearing club clothes in the kitchen? Of course, she doesn’t have to cook in them.

So Black Team gets it together and Orange Team is all verklempt. Apparently Sarah N is verklempt because she’s wearing high heels in the supermarket. Or something.

Oh, here’s a surprise. Howie is cooking with pork. Why is the Jewish guy so stuck on cooking pig?

Honestly, I didn’t see the horror in Howie talking to Sarah about the milkshakes. She’s all sad about his “demeanor” but her demeanor says she is going to break down and cry if you don’t agree with her. Then she gets all confused about the top of the blender. And by the way, Howie's right. Ice in a milkshake will water it down.

You know a team is in trouble any time Colicchio has to wait for food. He just stands there slow burning and basically game over. And the Cuban guy who didn’t like the Cuban sandwich is a grim sign.

Judge’s Table

Ted is back on the panel. And he likes bacon.

Colicchio seems to have a thing about chicken. This is the second time he’s described a mass-produced chicken h’ors d’ouvre as “lousy.”

The only surprise about the winner was Tre over Brian. Tre had the better food, Brian was the salesman. That’s gone either way in the past (see Betty in last year's Asian-themed catering challenge).

Now the loser team. Casey and Sarah are sad about being in fancy clothes and showing skin. Sarah looks like she wants to lose. When she says she cooked the sliders, she looks apologetic.

I find everyone’s claims that they didn’t know about the problem with the food getting out to be disingenuous. Colicchio stood there for who knows how long, but everyone is now shocked to hear that there was a problem. Please. CJ says he thought going up there when the burgers weren’t coming out fast enough wouldn’t have made the situation better. I tend to agree. Sarah looked like she was one mean look away from a complete meltdown. That, I think, was the problem.

It comes down to Sarah and Howie. They build it up like there may actually be a close decision here, but they've always picked quality cooking over quality teamwork. Sarah goes home. The producers stocked the show with pretty ladies and now they are almost all gone.

And yes, Howie was an asshole. But Sarah’s problem isn’t that she was too nice. It’s that she’s too slow. Sarah being next up to pack her knives was the least surprising turn of the night, which is saying something.

Carnival of Politics Number 78

In all the excitement, plus my increasingly chaotic offline life, I forgot this week's Carnival. Lisa Renee did a bang-up job as usual. I don't have a problem with this week's graphic being too feminine, but some of our conservative friends might find it too European, what with that crossed seven and all. Very Olde Europe. :)

And the usual comments apply: The Carnival is open to all who post something moderately related to politics, policy or culture-writ-large. I for one would love to see some of the folks who have been posting about the Cleveland MedMart controversy to submit their posts, even if they aren't routinely political bloggers.

Megan's Thougths

Notes: OK, that wasn't my last post. If you may know from the Openers piece, Megan happened to be in Cedar Point yesterday during all the excitement. When she got back, she wrote up her thoughts on the matter and sent them to a couple of her blogosphere friends. We've agreed to post her side.

Maybe it’s because I’m humble. Maybe it’s because I’m still a bit naïve. Or maybe it’s just because I’m human. I never thought that I would garner such attention in one day. I went to Cedar Point on Wednesday for a relaxing day (you oughta ride the Top Thrill Dragster!) and when I returned to check my phone, I found that I had messages from several people talking about my personal story on the blogosphere. It was kind of odd to see how many people were commenting on my situation.

Let me first say, I am a proud Democrat. I have been a registered Democrat since I was 18. I have worked for numerous candidates and elected officials of the Democratic Party for the past seven years. Through my position at The Ohio Democratic Party, I intended to forward the very cause that means the most to me - the participation of all citizens in the electoral process, specifically women and minorities.

The letter I wrote to The Lantern when I was a freshman was not respectful on many levels. It is because of the diverse Ohio State University that I have become the person I am today. I have come to appreciate not only the contributions, but the value of all people, regardless of gender, race, religion, or sexual orientation.

The foolish words of an 18-year-old girl should not overshadow the hard work of a passionate, devoted 25-year-old woman. George Bernard Shaw once said, "If you cannot get rid of the family skeleton-you may as well make it dance." For the past seven years, I've danced a delicate Texas two-step with my skeleton, before it dropped its clumsy left foot on me recently. As an inexperienced college freshman, I wrote an op-ed that attempted to minimize the value of diversity on the OSU campus. However, I ultimately succeeded only in publicly demonstrating my own inexperience and shallow world view.

At 18, none of us really have much clarity on the real issues that affect people. We see the world through a different lens; often a skewed one that doesn’t represent who we will become. It is impossible to look into the future and know where we will go or what we will do. It is only through our personal life experiences that we grow, change, and evolve. Yet, that growth and evolution is often stunted because of the mistakes and missteps of our youth. Today, millions of high school and college students post pictures, blogs, and messages on MySpace and Facebook with little regard for the future. My mistake, printed seven years ago, will hopefully serve as a message to others to consider carefully the consequences of such actions.

I appreciate the measures that increase the diversity of the student body and faculty at OSU, not only because every qualified and driven student should have equal access to higher education, but because the University is enriched by the diversity of its students and faculty.

My own experience and growth are a direct result of this fact. It is precisely because of my experiences at The Ohio State University and beyond that an essay written about race by Megan Pappada, senior in Political Science would have been 180 degrees divergent from Megan Pappada, freshman in Political Science.

I’ve never been much of a dancer myself, and I knew eventually either the skeleton or I would make a scene. Now that I’ve started dancing, though, I do not intend to sit the next dance out. My past, although very different from my present and future, is still mine. That past will always be a part of me, but now that that past has been brought to light, I hope a new beginning lies ahead.

Megan Pappada 08.16.07

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

My Last Post about the ODP Thing

Probably could have planned this better. I posted about the Women's Outreach hire/fire flap the night before the kids and I were scheduled to be at the pool all day. So I missed the fireworks. And the mainstream jump. Hope everyone had fun without me.

A few bits to clean up before I put this to bed. First off, Todd Hoffman emailed me while I was out, and also sent the reply along to Jerid. He says:


    You wrote “I wrote ODP for comment and have heard nothing.” I have not received any messages from you regarding this situation. Please make a note of my contact information so that this communication gap does not occur again. You can call me anytime at [number] or email at [etc].

    We hope that the 25 year old Megan would like to talk to the 18 year old Megan and explain how the views expressed in her letter to the editor were unacceptable. Unfortunately, Megan’s letter was not discovered during our routine background check nor was it disclosed during interviews. When the letter was brought to our attention, it became very apparent that the views expressed were not consistent with the ideals of the Ohio Democratic Party. As an employee of ODP, any statements, past or present, in the public domain reflect upon the Party so we let her go within hours of learning of the situation.
As far as the communication gap, I sent an email Friday afternoon and got neither a reply nor a Delivery Failed message. Frankly I looked at the request for comment as pro forma. Given that ODP thus far had scrubbed all mention of the hiring from the internet, hadn't sent out any sort of general notice and had not contacted someone (i.e., me) who had blogged about the hiring, I figured they were in "No comment" mode.

Still, things happen with email. In the future , I'll be more aggressive about getting a comment.

As for the rest, I know Megan has learned from the incident; I hope ODP has as well.

In addition to the response on the left side (the aforementioned BSB, Left of Ohio and Jill who in fact unearthed the now infamous letter), and from the center (BFD, Bill Sloat), there has been lamentably gleeful comment from the Right. Columbuser and RAB at minimum have chimed in. The prevailing sentiment there is "thoughtcrime."

Well, duh. Political parties are about ideas. Another word for "ideas" would be "thoughts." If you don't share those ideas, you can't represent the party. Either party. I'm sure there are essays and topics out there that would scotch a would-be Republican staffer. For God sake, the prevailing debate among Republicans is whether Mitt Romney's cave to pro-life forces is sufficiently abject.

I especially love Scott Pullins beckoning Megan into the suddenly huge GOP tent. Uh, Scott. Megan just finished an internship with NARAL. I'm pretty sure her name is a deeper shade of mud to Republicans than it could ever be with Dems.

The issue isn't whether the ideas in the essay are a problem -- they are. They are in a way that feels very "if you don't get it I don't have the energy to explain it." Suffice it to say that the liberal/Democratic methodology on race is to respect -- nay honor -- the complexities and nuances of the subject. For example, the implication of "white people are discriminated against" is that harsh words exchanged on campus is the rough equivalent of 400 years of one race being bought and sold as chattel and another hundred years of an unbreakable racial caste system and that, therefore, efforts to address discrimination against Blacks are unwarranted. That's an idea (or thought) at odds with ODP's position.

So the issue isn't whether views like those in the letter are a problem for the ODP the issues are 1) could this have been handled better and 2) what is the shelf life for this poison pill. I think everyone agrees that the answer to #1 is yes. As to number two, it's a debate and probably one better had offline.

Certainly I'm glad my freshman year scribblings of 24 years ago are not in
searchable, digital form. Of course, I've done enough damage here on the Pages that it would be a wash.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

ODP Makes a Bad Mistake

Last week I reported that my friend Megan Pappada was hired as the ODP's first coordinator of women's outreach. You may or may not have heard that she was unhired that night.

From what I can put together, after hiring Megan, someone discovered that first semester of her freshman year she wrote a letter to the editor of the OSU student newspaper about race relations. In it, she took some positions that were problematic and others that probably could have been expressed better. And from what I've been told by a person close to the matter, Megan was let go. Both the post on ODP blog and the podcast on Odeo were quietly deleted. I wrote ODP for comment and have heard nothing.

A person close to Megan has conveyed her wish that I simply remove my post and let life go on. I hope she will forgive me for declining to do so. First off, it's not how I roll. The post wasn't in error at the time it was written, nor have I decided in retrospect that it was unfair -- those are the only reasons I would delete a post. I certainly won't delete it for the sake of papering over the party's mistake.

And that's the second reason. The party screwed up. People found Megan's letter by Googling her name. The letter is in the top search result. If someone had just taken ten seconds to do what I thought every employer on Earth was now doing -- vetting by internet search -- we wouldn't have this messy situation.

Moreover, if they had found out about this ahead of time, the situation could have worked out. I understand why the letter is a problem. But it's something she wrote seven years ago as a first semester freshman. If I had written such a letter at such a time, it would be hard pressed to break into the Fifty Stupidest Things I Did First Semester Freshman Year. It certainly wouldn't have made the Top Twenty, probably not even the Top Twenty That Didn't Involve Beer.

And people change. And they change a hell of a lot from freshman year to mid-twentysomething. If the ODP had understood what this was and if they had run it past some high-profile African American leaders and let Megan chat with them and assure them that she has grown in her understanding and blah, blah blah, hiring her wouldn't have been a problem. It was a problem because they didn't do the most basic homework.

I'm not just a volunteer citizen journalist, I'm a member of the Ohio Democratic Party and I'll be damned if I'm going to let them act like the gang that couldn't shoot straight then sweep it under the rug. If this is out, hopefully the people involved will exercise more due care next time.

Finally, I want to assure anyone who Googles Megan in the future and finds their way to this post that the person who wrote that letter nearly a decade ago is not the person I've come to know and respect. Someone hire this woman. She'll work twice as hard as the next person down on the list.

Local Report Cards Out Today

Today the Ohio Department of Education releases the Local Report Cards for each public school district and building. The districts compile the information, send it to ODE who then uses their various criteria to comes with ratings. Columbus and Cleveland have put stories out about their results because they were sufficiently confident that their data would raise them to Continuous Improvement.

Some more districts discussed their data in a preview story in the ABJ over the weekend which also includes good information about NCLB sanctions. Today's PD runs a nose-in-the-middle-of-your-face story about how the ratings put pressure on schools to perform. Finally, yesterday's Dispatch used the impending report cards as a hook to report the heretofore little noticed plans to change to the "growth model" in Ohio next year (though we are apparently using the annoying term "value added," describing out children in the same terms as a ton of bauxite.)

The ratings are scheduled to appear on the ODE website some time after the 10:30 embargo lifts.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Around the Horn

Again, everything has changed. I don't remember this sort of flux last August, but every time I look around something new or different is popping up in the Ohiosphere.
  • First, a news item. The papers have been reporting that Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner's office is looking into possible election law violations by All Children Matter, a pro-education privatization PAC. As far as anyone can tell, ProgressOhio broke the story (which is to say, did the research on what All Children Matter was about.) Other bloggers have picked up the story, including Clark Street who has done some additional digging.
  • Ed Esposito, the News Director for WAKR and Editor of the Akron News Now site has gone the Eric Mansfield route and set up his blog on Blogger. Esposito's blog, Letters from the Editor, has been on the ANN site for a few weeks now. A note on the sidebar of the new Blogger site suggests that the Blogger version of LFTE may have more content than the ANN version. If nothing else, it has a feed that works. Esposito's blog, like Mansfield's shows how journalists can add to their traditional work product by blogging about the craft of journalism instead of just writing news copy in the form of blog posts. Would that the ABJ had picked up on that.
  • Congratulations are in order for a couple of area blogs. The Chief Source, home to an enviable community of commenters, has logged over 7000 comments in the first seven months of the year. And The Boring Made Dull can proudly look back on 1500 posts worth of tedium. Seriously, Chief Source and BMD are both quality blogs run by quality people. Congrats to both.
  • Speaking of BMD, Mr. Boring is one of my favorite sources for global warming skepticism. As far as I can tell, it goes like this. Somewhere in the scientific community someone will publish something that is part of refining the understanding of climate change, but that skeptics point to and say "Aha!" The skeptic community bats it around a bit, until it crosses BMD's radar and he posts. Then I do a Google search, or check out Real Climate (the best source for solid science on the topic, IMO) or in a case like this, just pull up a SciAm article I've already read. So far, the system has worked flawlessly.
  • For example, this on BMD is answered by this on Real Climate. When you read the RC pieces, it's not hard to imagine the eye rolling, the forehead slapping, the "No no no, that's not what it means at all."
  • And for which reason I've added Real Climate to the Misc Favorites section of the blogroll.
  • And speaking of additions to the blogroll. Amy, wife of Dave of Radio Free Newport, and who has just moved here from Cincinnati, has set up her own blog, Accidental Akronite. She is a writer by trade, but will be blogging mostly about exploring our little corner of heaven. That, by the way, is pretty much the mode of Canton Review who has continued posting quality work and has added me to her roll. I've added both to the Placebloggers list.
  • Congratulations to Jerid at Buckeye State for a job well done with the New Hampshire Project.
  • And finally, don't forget to submit posts to the Carnival of Ohio Politics by tomorrow evening.

Thoughts on the Kos/Ford Nondebate

Yesterday’s Meet the Press appearance by Democratic Leadership Council Chair and Fox News patsy Harold Ford, Jr. and DailyKos Ego-In-Chief Markos Moulitsos was billed as a throwdown between the moderate and liberal camps within the Democratic Party. As a Democrat with one foot in each camp, I was hoping for better than we got.

Ford ultimately won on the point he wanted to make which is that the liberal wing of the party can’t ignore the center. Kos won on the point he wanted to make which is that certain members of the DLC are not simply centrist but stooges for people on the right with bad intent. Neither did much to take on the other's point. If Ford had anything behind his Fox News statement about the Kos Nation that "I don't like their politics," he certainly didn't bring it Sunday.

I intended to liveblog the thing, but gave up. How do you write up a “debate” in which neither party will engage the other?

Part of the problem is the matchup between the two. The telling exchange occurred when substitute moderator David Gregory asks what three issues they would advise candidates to make central. Kos immediately bails:

    MR. MOULITSAS: Well, you know, you’re starting talking about issues. What I want that candidate to do is to not be afraid to talk about who they are, to be authentic and to tell us who they are so that we can actually make a decision. And not me. I’m not going to make this decision. It’s not my job to decide who the nominee’s going to be. I want these candidates to speak to regular Americans. And for too long they’ve been speaking to the pundits, they’ve been speaking to shows like this one. They haven’t been really communicating to the base because they had to go through this media filter and this political filter, and now we’re destroying those filters. We’re saying go straight to the people, talk to them,
See, talking about issues is so . . . centrist. All you need is to be passionate. Be real. Tell America to wave their hands in the air and vote like they really care.

Ford, on the other hand, is all about talking the issues:
    REP. FORD: I hope we can merge all the factions in our party to organize around a clean energy future, developing not only a plan to win and improve our chances of, of instilling stability in the Middle East, but to find ways to, to attract and—new energy, and for lack of a better word, and new investments to find new energy sources for the future. Two, to fight the growing inequality. I give, I give them credit also for highlighting and bringing attention to the fact that there’s a growing gap between people who have and people who don’t and, more importantly, people who want. And the Democratic Party’s longtime tradition has been to address those issues. And finally, we’ve got to find ways to address the health care and education challenge in this country. The next president of the United States, he or she will have the challenge of uniting the country around a common agenda and then working his or her heart out, not only to build support here, but to hap—to help re-establish a marker about this great country around the globe.
And this illustrates the fundamental differences between the institutions the two represent. The DLC, for all time it spends on the Kos pillory, is at its core a think tank. Its an organization of center-left policy wonks, especially those with some working knowledge of economics. I hardly ascribe to all of their beliefs, but have maintained my subscription to their email newsletters long since I stopped visiting Big Orange. DKos, on the other hand, is a big white wall on which the “regular Americans” of liberal bent can scribble what they want.

The DLC is about ideas, and whether you agree with those ideas or not, they are challenging. DailyKos is about passions. If you don't share the passions you don't hang around long.

So the debate went on from there, with Kos stammering and practically jumping out of his ill-fitting suit, while Ford sat there, a study in placid wonkiness. Kos blasting Ford for DLC treason and Ford bobbing and weaving, but for the most part, not throwing punches of his own. If you desire to experience it yourself, the video is up on Crooks and Liars and MTP has the transcript ready. Reaction on News Hounds and, of course, DailyKos.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

I Without E and other Random Thoughts

The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dogs

The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dogs

The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dogs

The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dogs

The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dogs

With that, it looks like my laptop keyboard problems have resolved themselves. I pried up the key covers and slowly, delicately removed the accumulated dust. When that didn’t work, I pounded angrily on the “E” key about a hundred times. That appears to have done the trick. So here are the random bits of my life the blog has missed.

§ I hope to blog the Top Chef that I missed. The plan all along was to take time off from my various tasks to hit that, but the computer glitch made it impossible. For now, another cute one gone.

§ YearlyKos wrapped up and Ego-in-Chief Markos Moulitsas is taking a victory lap. He apparently debated Harold Ford on Meet the Press today, though I won’t see it until the MSNBC rebroadcast tonight. He and Susan Gardner also have an Op-Ed in WaPo about how Kossacks are right and everyone else is wrong.

§ One good antidote to Kossism is the E.J. Dionne piece about Ted Strickland which is here if you haven't seen it yet. Key quote: “Strickland has capital to spend because he has combined progressive goals with a moderate demeanor and a cheerful approach to potential adversaries”

§ Barry Bonds* succeeded in smearing The Cream all over the most hallowed record in baseball. People have been walking away from the sport in droves, and now thanks to Barry* they now have another reason to.

§ Some time ago a satirical hate-yourself-for-laughing piece about the Akron Barbie collection started showing up in email inboxes and on a couple of blogs. Eric Mansfield (on his old blog platform) wondered out loud where it came from. I still don’t know, but it appears to have been adapted from a bit about SoCal Barbies, with Pomona Barbie converted to Goodyear Heights Barbie, etc. Still don't know who did the original or who adapted it for the 'Kron.

§ Are the Troothers fading from the ProgressOhio scene? A recent Troother post garnered all of two comments, both anti. Happy to see that.

§ Link Additions. I’ve added Watchdevil and Liberal Candy to the sidebar. Both are in the Akron Blogroll, plus I put Watchdevil in Ohio Progressives and Liberal Candy in the Think Globally list (the difference being that Watchdevil does local stories when it fits his beat.)

§ I also added Howard Empowered People to The Nationals. It’s a pretty solid group of folks, including some fellow Kos refugees. And they have Renee in Ohio which in itself should have gotten it a place some time ago.

§ Since I complained so vehemently about the new political blogs, I should note that the Young Professionals Loop is solid. I especially like this latest post about what’s good about living in Akron. Meanwhile, the site is launching an Site Blog to keep people up to date on the site itself. Site administrator Linda Lyell announced the new blog in a column today.

Now here it is, your Moment of Ten:

1. "Run On," Moby
2. "Here Comes My Girl," Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
3. "De Camino a la Vereda," Buena Vista Social Club
4. "Spanish Point," Bela Fleck
5. "That's Okay," Dwight Yoakam
6. "Time Tough," Toots and the Maytals
7. "Minor Mood," Clifford Brown
8. "Feeling Gravity's Pull," R.E.M.
9. "The End of Everything," Chris Isaak
10. "Goodbye Babylon," The Black Keys