Free Movie: Everything’s Cool!, Dubya’s Answer To The Global Warming

You are invited to the free movie:
“Everything’s Cool!”
Dubya’s answer to the global warming crisis

Tuesday, August 26, 2008 at 7:30pm
Drexel East Theater, 2254 East Main Street, Bexley

A REAL-LIFE DISASTER MOVIE
Filmmakers follow the country and our global warming messengers through an extraordinary three years of transformation,
from 2003-to the eve of 2007, with sometimes funny, sometimes tragic experiences.

EVERYTHING’S COOL is a film about America finally “getting” global warming in the wake of the most dangerous chasm ever to emerge between scientific understanding
and political action. While industry funded nay-sayers sing what just might be their swan song of pseudo-scientific deception, a group of self-appointed global warming messengers
went on a high stakes quest to find the iconic image, the magic language, the points of leverage that will finally create the political will to move the United States from its reliance on fossil fuels
to the new clean energy economy – AND FAST.
Hold on… this is bigger than changing your light bulbs.

Sponsored by the Free Press, Central Ohio Green Education Fund and the Drexel East Theater.
Truth@freepress.org
253-2571


Film Site:

http://everythingscool.org/index.php

Razorcake – Interview With Greg Palast

By Chris Pepus

Monday, August 11 @ 00:00:00 EDT

The American press corps has finally begun to report on illegal activities of the Bush administration. However, the subject of election theft remains largely ignored. In recent years, the Republican Party has used an array of tactics to subtract votes from opposing candidates. These include sending defective voting machines to strongly Democratic precincts and removing low-income and minority voters from electoral rolls.

Reporter Greg Palast has been covering this issue since 2000, when he revealed that Florida officials ensured the election of George W. Bush by illegally suppressing the African-American and Democratic vote. (Learn more about that subject here.) In this interview, I asked Palast about his reports on the GOP’s dirty electoral tricks since 2000 and the possibility that the ’08 election will be stolen. He explained how the Help America Vote Act actually helps crooked Republicans and he previewed his upcoming broadcasts and publications, which will include a free guide with tips for safeguarding your vote.

–Chris Pepus

Chris: Your reports on vote suppression led to a congressional inquiry and the resignation of Tim Griffin, one of President Bush’s U.S. Attorneys.[i] Could you describe how the Bush administration interfered with voting rights in 2004?

Greg: Item one is something that we discovered called caging. There were e-mails written by the Republican National Committee’s chief researcher, a character named Tim Griffin, who was a protégé of Karl Rove.[ii] He was sending out caging lists, which are hit lists of voters to challenge. The way caging works is they send out registered letters to voters and when the voters aren’t around to receive their letters—the envelopes say, “Do Not Forward”—the voters end up being subject to challenge. The particular hit list that we got was substantially filled with voters from the naval air station in Jacksonville ( Florida). There are reasons why someone at a naval air station wouldn’t be at their voting address. That’s because, unlike Bush during Vietnam, they are off in a foreign war. Republicans also sent letters to students at black colleges in August knowing that they wouldn’t be there. They illegally challenged their votes. The Republicans challenged three million voters in 2004, which is absolutely unbelievable and unreported. That fact was right there in the records of the Election Assistance Commission of the federal government. Those voters received provisional ballots and a million of those ballots were thrown in the garbage. That is just one of the tricks. There are several and they are being sharpened for 2008.

Chris: But Griffin claimed that he didn’t know what caging was until he read your report. “I had to look it up,” he said.

Greg: Well, actually, I determined that he is correct. He sent out an e-mail saying, “Here is a caging list.” As he said, you have to be an expert in direct-mail marketing to understand what caging is. Now, that means that someone told him to send out an e-mail with caging lists, someone whose orders were so important that he wouldn’t question them, even if he didn’t know what (the list) was. Now, who would know direct marketing and who could give orders to Tim Griffin? Well, before he worked for George W. Bush, Karl Rove was head of Rove & Company, a direct-mail marketing firm. Rove is an expert on caging. Law professor Bobby Kennedy Jr., my co-investigator, says that this was an illegal act. So who ordered this illegal act? Hm, Mr. Rove?

Chris: How did you obtain these e-mails?

Greg: Griffin is not the sharpest knife in the drawer and he copied these e-mails not to GeorgeWBush.com, which was the campaign’s internal e-mail system, but rather to GeorgeWBush.org, a parody web site. The head of that site, John Wooden, knows me. He immediately passed (the e-mails) on to my team. He didn’t know what they were and, frankly, we didn’t know what they were at first either. It took a lot of work to decode.

Chris: Have there been any new developments in the case, other than Karl Rove’s refusal to testify before the House Judiciary Committee?

Greg: I have just returned from a meeting with David Iglesias, a fired prosecutor from New Mexico. Caging and gimmicks like it were behind his firing and the firings of other U.S. prosecutors.[iii] The U.S. press corps, as usual, got it completely wrong. The firing of U.S. Attorneys is not simply about the politics of the prosecutors or even the operations of their offices. Rather, it is about an attempt to force prosecutors to be involved in a scheme to arrest voters under voter-fraud laws to create hysteria to justify vote suppression. I was constantly asking Republicans, “If there are so many criminal voters, why haven’t you arrested them? Why aren’t there prosecutions?” The Republicans said, “Oh, there will be. Talk to David Iglesias.” I called him and other prosecutors and got all this hemming and hawing. So, I’m being told that Iglesias is about to bring prosecutions and he is saying, “I don’t think so.” It’s very clear to me that Iglesias was resisting phony prosecutions. He ran around the bases looking for fraudulent voters and he didn’t find one. Some were in the military, so they were not at their voting addresses.

I just came back from checking out some of the so-called fraudulent voters that Iglesias refused to prosecute. Republican leaders gave me their names. There was one lady, a waitress, who was signed up twice and there were two different signatures of her name. So I spoke to her—this “criminal”—and I said, “Did you register twice?” She said, “Yes.” She explained that, under the law, if you don’t receive formal acknowledgment of your registration, you can and should register again. They don’t put your name on the roll twice. I asked why there were two signatures: “Was there some fraudulent game going on?” She said: “No. One time, I signed at a table. The other time, I signed it on my hand.” This woman was supposed to be one of the six most obvious cases of a fraudulent voter in New Mexico. Governor Bill Richardson signed laws making it harder for people to register because of these so-called frauds. The laws are so horrible that Richardson, a Hispanic Democrat, is being sued by the Brennan Center for Justice for illegally impeding Hispanic voters.     

Chris: It’s remarkable how many groups are targeted. I recall reading about defective voting machines in (Palast’s 2006 book) Armed Madhouse. You mentioned that, in ’04, the county in New Mexico where the most votes disappeared was a predominantly white, working-class county.

Greg: Yeah, I call vote theft “class war by other means.” Places like Native American precincts, black precincts, and Mexican barrios are often the hardest hit. But, statistically, we find that it is income more than race that determines whether your vote will count. I can tell you the probability that your vote will count if you tell me your income. By the way, the Republican secretary of state[iv] in Colorado (Mike Coffman) just attacked me. I reported that he purged all these voters. He said, “Palast is just trying to raise money for his operation,” but he didn’t say I was wrong. He said he was just following the law. I’d heard all this from Katherine Harris[v] before. I’d said, “Guess the color of the voters purged.” He said, “We don’t keep track of voters’ race on our voter forms.” Yeah, right. They know. It’s by zip code. That’s the other thing: if they don’t know, they should know. Civil rights law does require election officials to take steps to determine that their actions don’t have a racial bias. When he said, “I don’t know,” that’s not true and, also, that’s not a legal answer. He’s supposed to know, especially when he removes a fifth of the voters in Colorado.

Chris: Another state with a history of vote suppression is Florida. In 2000, you reported that Florida Republicans removed tens of thousands of Democratic voters from the rolls. Have you found evidence pointing to a similar result this year?

Greg: Worse than ever. The whole nation’s been Floridated. George Bush signed the Help America Vote Act (in 2002) and, in 2006, they did a Katherine Harris on the whole nation. They told secretaries of state, who are partisan officials in every state, to purge away and remove “suspect voters.” A lot of the things that were illegal, like caging, that’s now in the law. Basically, we now have federal cover for mischief, instead of federal prohibition. In one New Mexico county, half the Democrats who showed up to vote in the (2008) primary/caucus couldn’t vote. You have address purges, I.D. purges. The Brennan Center said that about 85,000 voters in Florida are losing their right to vote, because they signed up in voter drives and couldn’t verify their identity. Overwhelmingly, those voters are black, because many black voters register in voter drives out of their churches. So, Florida’s back in the game. They’re just changing the rules.

Chris: How does the Help America Vote Act enable those tactics?

Greg: For example, Florida, when imposing special identity requirements on voter drives, they cited the Help America Vote Act. They said that it was required. Now, the fact that forty-six states don’t agree with them on that interpretation didn’t stop them. Also, HAVA basically required every state in America to change its laws. Once you open up the howling Pandora’s Box of election law, every reform becomes grounds for new mischief. HAVA creates this new shadow world of law. Florida officials said, “Well, we did this for HAVA.” Then the lawyers at the Brennan Center said, “Where in HAVA? How can you say this is for HAVA?” They said, “Oh, well, that’s our own interpretation.” Is this federal law? Is it state law? No, it’s Bush law; it’s Rove law. The nice thing about elections for vote thieves: there’s a “Fuck you” clause in vote theft. If you win, you control the review. You own the police.

Chris: Which provisions of the act are most often cited as authority for attacks on voting rights?

Greg: I go back to the 2006 codicils. Certain things kicked in in ’06 regarding verification of voter identity. That is the most mischievous thing. The law demanded that, beginning in ’06, each state must have centralized, computerized rolls of voters. Again, the first state to go full-on with computerized, centralized purging of voter rolls was Florida. That’s how we ended up with the phony felon purge (in 2000). With HAVA, they used the Florida fix as an excuse to create a so-called reform and the “reform” was to take Florida’s method and nationalize it. But people say, “Well, why shouldn’t we have verified rolls?” The answer is that this is a new law to prevent a crime that almost never happens. We have five or fewer convictions for vote fraud a year in America. We figure that, under the new system, five million voters a year lose their right to vote. You literally have a million voters losing their right to vote to catch one ne’er-do-well. You don’t arrest a million people to catch one murderer.

Chris: Now, regarding these centralized lists, you’ve written about a firm called Accenture that runs computerized voting lists for various state governments. Could you talk about that?

Greg: Accenture used to be Arthur Andersen, but after they got caught cooking the books for Enron, they tend not to use that name. Arthur Andersen was split into two parts: one was liquidated, put into bankruptcy, and one was renamed Accenture. They haven’t changed their ways. There’s Accenture; there’s ES&S (Election Systems & Software). These characters are some of the greasiest operators out there. They combine bias with incompetence and high fees. ES&S has been involved in New Mexico. It’s a firm founded by Republican Senator Chuck Hagel (of Nebraska). Every time ES&S gets involved in purging voter rolls, they turn astonishingly Republican. Everyone knows that if you use certain methods, it knocks out certain types of voters. That’s why I’m doing this investigation with Bobby Kennedy. We are investigating the theft of the 2008 election before it happens. We’re looking at what’s happening in Colorado, New Mexico, Alabama, Florida. We’re going to be putting out a big national magazine article with our findings. We can’t say where.

Chris: When is that going to come out?

Greg: In September. We will then also have a film out starting with a broadcast on BBC Television and a U.S. national network. For the first time, we’re going to break through the electronic blockade in America.

Chris: I read that you’re raising funds for the broadcast. How are you doing on that?

Greg: Well, that’s the thing. (The network) finally opened the door, but they said, “Of course, we’re not paying for this.” Okay, I’ll tell my cameramen to eat dog food. My staff is pretty good at living on very little. They were here last night ’til 2 a.m. (Research associate) Zach Roberts—I want to give him his due—his last day off was about seven weeks ago. This is a nonstop operation, but I have to raise money to provide the bare minimum. We do want to be able to provide outreach and give stuff out to some activist groups. We’re going to have a voter guide, Steal Back Your Vote, which I’m putting together with Kennedy. A lot of this is going to be in comic-book form, designed by Top Shelf. I had a complaint from one of my fundraisers that we give away too much stuff—my books, DVDs. But that’s our game: to get the word out and build a knowledge base. Now, I’ll give a hint of my age. The protests against the war in Vietnam began with massive teach-ins: “Here’s where Vietnam is.” We need to learn the issues. People are unarmed. That is, people know that they’re getting shafted, but they don’t really know exactly how.

http://www.gregpalast.com/


[i] U.S. Attorneys are senior prosecutors in the Justice Department. There are 93 U.S. Attorneys, each in charge of his/her own district.

[ii] Nicknamed “Bush’s brain,” Rove served as chief strategist for Bush’s 2000 presidential campaign. From 2001-2007, Rove held various posts in the Bush administration, including senior advisor and deputy chief of staff.

[iii] In 2006, the Justice Department fired nine U.S. Attorneys, nearly all of whom had received high performance ratings from the department. The subject is being investigated by Congress. Alberto Gonzalez, the attorney general at the time, claims to remember very little about the firings.

[iv] The official in charge of a state’s elections.

[v] In 2000, Harris was the secretary of state in Florida and the co-chair of George W. Bush’s presidential campaign in that state. She presided over the various voter purges in 2000 and was the one who officially certified Bush the winner of the election.

Original Copy Link:

http://tinyurl.com/6cmzfd

Columbus, Ohio, Cheney’s Law, FRONTLINE Documentary, FREE FILM NIGHT!

JUNE 24, 2008 – 7:30pm
Sponsored by the Drexel East Theater, the Free Press, and the Central Ohio Green Education Fund

Drexel East Theater, 2254 Main St., Bexley
Discussion to follow screening in the Drexel Radio Cafe next door
253-2571, truth@freepress.org

For three decades Vice President Dick Cheney conducted a secretive, behind-closed-doors campaign to give the president virtually unlimited wartime power. Finally, in the aftermath of 9/11, the Justice Department and the White House made a number of controversial legal decisions. Orchestrated by Cheney and his lawyer David Addington, the department interpreted executive power in an expansive and extraordinary way, granting President George W. Bush the power to detain, interrogate, torture, wiretap and spy — without congressional approval or judicial review.
Now, as the White House appears ready to ignore subpoenas in the investigations over wiretapping and U.S. attorney firings, FRONTLINE examines the battle over the power of the presidency and Cheney’s way of looking at the Constitution.
“The vice president believes that Congress has very few powers to actually constrain the president and the executive branch,” former Justice Department attorney Marty Lederman tells FRONTLINE. “He believes the president should have the final word — indeed the only word — on all matters within the executive branch.”

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/cheney/

One Good Thing About Reagan

By Bob Fitrakis

Thank God for the feds. In a little over two decades they’ve made the elusive “two toke” wonderjoint a common reality. On Friday, June 13, the Columbus Dispatch reported the University of Mississippi findings on the potency of today’s marijuana. Back when I was in college in 1976, the average THC content was less than 1% – .69%. As of this year, it’s up nearly ten-fold, at 9.6%. While the Dispatch laments the “effect” such potent pot will have on “teens” – they need to blame the man they endorsed for President two times – Ronald Wilson Reagan.

Or, we could go back a little further to the man the Dispatch worshipped, Richard Nixon. Remember Nixon’s idea in the early seventies to douse the cheap and impotent Mexican weed with the lethal drug paraquat? Thus was the end of the “nickel bag.” You could smoke the entire bag and still be straight when you went home at midnight to pass your parent’s inspection. The stuff was so bad in Redford Township where I lived, the police wouldn’t even confiscate it for their parties, instead preferring the rare Thai stick. Rather, they would throw it in the dumpster behind the police station.

Reagan’s bogus “war on drugs” – a cover for disenfranchising aging hippies and minorities – led to its logical conclusion. More potent marijuana with a high THC factor. With most marijuana laws based on “weight,” not potency, the logical thing to do was to have less pot on you. Therefore, your stash had to be stronger. According to the University of Mississippi, the potency of marijuana was around 1% when Jimmy Carter left office. Within three years of Reagan’s drug war, the potency had quadrupled to nearly 4%.

During the drug war years, the cost of marijuana soared past that of gold by the ounce, while crack dropped to as low as $3 a rock in places like Detroit. Most smalltime dealers and suppliers realized they could grow their own in small quantities rather than buying an ounce of pot for between $500-$800. Why import a potentially deadly and impotent weed from Mexico, when you can grow your own more potent here at home?

While Reagan destroyed auto manufacturing jobs in the US and outsourced jobs to Mexico and Communist China, his only real success in terms of “Made in America” product was high quality homegrown chronic. While the cars by the Big Three automakers were increasingly thought of as junk in comparison to German and Japanese vehicles, US pot dealers took it seriously that quality was Job One. Think of the legendary Meigs County brand or the famous and highly sought after Columbus Woody Haze bud.

It was Ronald Reagan who let the Purple Haze genie out of the hookah pipe. And while Dispatch writers fret about the potency of the new pot, you can bet secretly many of them are dreaming about taking a toke or two in retirement.

Bob Bytes Back Archive: 7/31/1996 The Governor…And The Mob?

7/31/1996
by Bob Fitrakis

Are they or aren’t they investigating Governor Voinovich’s administration?
It’s become a semantics debate. Voinovich campaign contributions, yes; administration, no.

The July issue of the Ohio Observer originally reported that the FBI was investigating charges of contract steering in the Voinovich administration. Then a week ago Sunday, the Cincinnati Enquirer confirmed this and filled in many details surrounding the preliminary investigation. Then the Cleveland Plain Dealer had the feds denying it. But the Enquirer stood by its story. And well they should, since they had, in newspaper biz parlance, “back-up”-usually meaning “we taped it, you idiots.” Plus, the Enquirer had confirmation from multiple sources: two in the FBI and one in the Justice Department.

Yes, there’s a very thin line, indeed, between an investigation of Voinovich campaign contributions and his administration. One that could easily be crossed this election year. Ohio Rep. John Boehner, who regularly publishes the ongoing Washington Union Boss Watch, recently alleged “close links” between a labor leader and both the Clintons and organized crime. Shocking, eh? The House Republicans are planning to hold hearings.

I have a few tips of what to look into while they’re investigating organized labor, politicians and organized crime. Columbus Alive has learned that the original state investigation file contained allegations linking organized crime to our governor’s growing scandal, which is the basis of the federal probe.

Maybe they could ask Voinovich, then mayor of Cleveland, about his presence at the funeral of Teamster Vice-President Bill “Plug” Presser on July 21, 1981. “Plug” was a protege of Jimmy Hoffa and a thrice-convicted labor racketeer. Presser also aided the Nixon White House in compiling the infamous Enemies List and before his death managed to pass his vice-presidency on to his son, Jackie.

Or they could ask what George recalls about the funeral at the Berkowitz-Kumin Memorial Chapel on July 12, 1988 when he gave the eulogy for Jackie Presser. Jackie Presser rose to be Teamster president while simultaneously working for the Mafia and the FBI. Presser’s rise from “car thief to a White House dinner guest” is well-documented in James Neff’s Mobbed Up. “He was a man who loved his fellow man. He made a difference in my life. I will miss him and pray for him,” eulogized Voinovich.

Maybe they could look into the guv’s attempt to appoint ex-loan shark and Mafia associate Carmen Parise to Ohio’s Turnpike Commission. Certain other members of the commission and their activities bear further scrutiny. By the way, it sure is nice that, despite federal advice that it was unnecessary, the state is expanding the turnpike from three to four lanes east and west. Stuff like that in other states is often linked to contract steering and money laundering, but not in Ohio.

House members and federal investigators could look at where small-time player T.G. Banks, holder of the majority of the state’s unbid minority construction management contracts, got the money- big money-to buy Target Construction in 1990. The down-on-its-luck company still held $53 million or so in building contracts, according to the Columbus Dispatch, and had been one of the largest home builders in the United States. One reliable highly placed law-enforcement source alleges that organized crime money out of Youngstown may have been involved in the purchase of Target.

House members and feds could also investigate Paul Mifsud, the governor’s recently resigned chief of staff. Immediately after Voinovich’s inauguration in 1991, Mifsud took control of three key state departments: Commerce, Development, and Transportation. He was involved in refashioning the bidding process for state construction projects. “That’s where the money is,” the source said. So, that’s where the House and the FBI should look.

Investigators should focus on whether or not Mifsud steered state construction contracts to Voinovich political backers and major donors. They could also look into the role Phil Hamilton, the head of Governor Voinovich’s administrative transition team-and lobbyist for the Voinovich family construction company-played as a key connection between Mifsud and T.G. Banks. Allegations have been made that Banks was a minority “front” to funnel contracts to the Carbone Construction Company out of Cleveland. The Carbone family are long-time Voinovich backers.

“Phil Hamilton is the glue that holds it all together,” says the law-enforcement source. So, more than circumstantial evidence exists to suggest that systematic contract steering has been going on in the Voinovich administration since its inception. And ties to reputed organized crime figures and money sources should be sought out.

While the nature of such an investigation may sound farfetched to readers, this isn’t the first time that governors of the state of Ohio or their administrations have been caught up in questionable activities. A re-reading of a Life magazine article of May 2, 1969, “The Governor…and the Mobster,” may provide a certain sense of deja vu. The article exposes how Governor Rhodes used his campaign fund for personal gain, “intervened” to secure loans to pay back cronies, and granted a pardon for mob boss Thomas “Yonnie” Licavoli.

Bob Bytes Back Archive: 7/10/1996 Tommy Takes The Town

by Bob Fitrakis

Tommy, George and Greg and Bob Dole would have to be an idiot to pick George Voinovich for vice president. Despite the obligatory fawning articles this past Sunday in both the Cincinnati Enquirer and the Cleveland Plain Dealer, Voinovich-to borrow a phrase from President eagan-is up to his keister in a scandal. You can bank on it. In fact, you can take Tommy (T.G.) Banks to the bank on this. Remember the name, he’ll be a key factor in why Voinovich won’t be selected as Dole’s running mate. Or, if Dole is more out of it than he seems, why Ohio will have its own version of Whitewater. The governor, with the assistance of the Columbus Dispatch and assorted lawyers and PR flaks, are in the fight of their life to keep Andy Zajac’s well-documented Akron Beacon Journal article on contract steering, published a week ago Sunday, from becoming a major scandal. The article is so explosive it would not only deny Voinovich the VP slot he so covets, but also dash his hopes for winning a U.S. Senate seat -if he’s passed over by Dole-in 1998.

As mentioned last week, the Governor’s Chief of Staff Paul Mifsud suddenly announced his resignation on June 24 to spend more time with his family. In reality, ace reporter Zajac had been dogging Mifsud for months about a strange, sweetheart construction deal with the Banks Carbone Construction Company. Tommy Banks, the minority owner of the company, took out two permits for an estimated $210,000 in construction on the house of one Dr. Kathy Bartunek, future wife of Mr. Mifsud.

Now, Mr. Mifsud and Dr. Bartunek claim that Tommy Banks promised to build a plush-library, office, breakfast nook, etc.-1,200 square feet, two-story home addition as well as a 1,450 square feet, three-car detached garage for only $35,000. Yep, that’s right folks, for the remarkable price of $35,000. Now, according to the governor’s guy Mifsud, Banks blew it, and overran the construction costs to $109,000. Nobody can explain why Banks’ permits totaled $210,000. Mifsud and Bartunek have not produced canceled checks, as of yet, to show that they actually paid Banks anything, let alone the $109,000.

More curiously, after completely blowing the deal with perhaps the second most powerful man in Ohio politics, Banks went on to receive nine of 16 unbid minority contracts from the state of Ohio. A case of ultimate incompetence paying off? Hardly. Coincidence, Banks and Mifsud insist. No other minority contractor received more than three unbid contracts.

When Zajac began asking about Banks’ construction job and proof of payment, Mifsud and Bartunek tried to pressure the Beacon Journal management not to publish the story. In fact, Bartunek’s attorney, Megan Peters, even sent Zajac a threatening letter claiming the now-wife of the governor’s chief of staff was not a public figure. Someone in the guv’s office purportedly leaked the letter to a few select journalists in an obvious attempt to intimidate other reporters from jumping on the scandal. Christopher Davey of the Cincinnati Enquirer -a paper that has ignored the scandal -received a copy. Coincidentally, Davey was just hired as a communications spokesperson for Attorney General Betty Montgomery starting this week.

Meanwhile, Mifsud got Alan Johnson of the Dispatch to spin his damage control in a preemptive strike piece against Zajac’s piece in the June 29 edition. Zajac’s front page article appeared the next day, June 30. Johnson’s piece now stands as a pathetic orphan. Essentially, the article informs us that Mifsud had called upon the Ohio Ethics Commission to investigate him and immediately clear him. Notably, the Dispatch failed to print or mention the wire version of Zajac’s story the next day.

The Dispatch’s attempts to paper over the scandal were soon done in by Tommy Banks. Another Dispatch reporter, John Futty, was hot on Tommy’s trail in the local South of Main scandal. So, in one of the most bizarre layout decisions in Dispatch history, Johnson spun Mifsud’s prenuptial agreement and no financial interest in the property angle on page two of the Metro section on July 2. Johnson’s article refers to Thomas G. Banks of Banks Carbone Construction. Directly underneath Johnson’s story is a continuation of Futty’s front page article. Futty tells us that the same Mr. Banks, of T.G. Banks Special Projects Division and T.G. Banks & Associates, owes the city more than $12,000 in back taxes and the Bureau of Workers Compensation $131,000 in premiums. Undaunted, Banks copped the Billy Milligan defense with Futty. His evil corporate self headed T.G. Banks & Associates-it had the liens against it; the Good Tommy ran Special Projects and owed no money. And Tommy’s good friend Police Chief Jackson had his police department investigating the non-profit South of Main Development Corporation, whose subsequent demise allowed Banks to take over all their construction contracts with the city.

Turns out, Tommy is also civic-minded, giving big bucks to Mayor Greg Lashutka. And the mayor’s lovely wife saw fit to represent T.G. in a lawsuit. I’m also not quite sure whether it was the Good or Bad Tommy who brags about having built a garage for John Wolfe. Anyway, it seems Tommy’s just one lucky guy. After all, he was awarded a big COSI contract and one of the four people voting on it was the mayor’s then-Chief of Staff Bruce Johnson.

Looks like Tommy is going to do for the mayor what he’s already doing for the governor.

Second Saturday Salon, December 8

6:30pm-midnight
1000 E. Main Street

Columbus, Ohio 43205

Join the Free Press and Ohio Honest Elections for a casual get-together to enjoy refreshments and progressive company. Let’s talk about this past week’s election and our organizing to assure the presidential election in 2008 is free and fair! Looking forward to seeing you there.

Parking in rear or next door at the Salvation Army.
truth@freepress.org
253-2571

The Pryce Of Democracy In Ohio’s 15th Congressional District

The Republican Party is on the brink of seizing another seat in the U.S. Congress. The key race is the central Ohio 15th District Congressional House seat held by Deborah Pryce, the fourth most powerful Republican in Congress. 

On election night the preliminary vote count showed Pryce beating Franklin County Commissioner Mary Jo Kilroy by 3717 votes out of more than 200,000 cast. Nearly 20,000 votes remained uncounted after Election Day. Kilroy refused to concede and demanded a full accounting of provisional, absentee and uncounted machine votes.

On Monday, November 27, the final tally was announced. Kilroy officially picked up 2482 votes, leaving Pryce ahead by 1054. The Franklin County Board of Elections could have certified the results earlier, but chose instead to wait until after the Big Ten championship football game between Ohio State and the University of Michigan.

Because the margin is within 1/2% of the votes cast, Franklin County Board of Elections Director Matt Damschroder says this will trigger an automatic recount within ten days.

By all rights, Kilroy would seem to be an obvious winner, except for a number of suspect statistics. For example, an analysis by the Columbus Dispatch shows that wards with more than 90% African-American voters in Franklin County had just a 24% turnout in the Columbus area. But in Cleveland and Cincinnati, similar wards had a 34% and 33% turnout respectively.    

The low voter turnout in Franklin County may be the lingering effect of the 4-7 hour waits that the black community suffered in the 2004 presidential election due to the lack of voting machines. The average voter turnout in the Columbus area overall was slightly over 50%.

BUT THERE MAY ALSO BE THEFT INVOLVED.  

The Franklin County Board of Elections rejected 2600 provisional ballots, many of them from registered voters who voted in the wrong precinct. A 2004 directive from Ohio Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell for the first time disallowed the votes of registered voters in the county if they voted out of their precinct. Historically, all voters registered in the county had their votes counted from the county races up to the statewide and federal races.

In another new development introduced in the 2006 election as a result of House Bill 3, voters were flagged with a stop sign symbol by their name in the pollbook. Free Press reporters saw some flagged voters turned away from the polls in violation of laws and others being allowed to vote in the wrong precinct, which would nullify their vote.

Both Pryce and Kilroy anticipate a recount, but voting rights activists question whether an actual “random” recount will occur. While Ohio law requires a random recount, with every ballot having an equal chance of inclusion, Blackwell has, in the past, allowed local Boards of Elections to determine their own methods for selection of ballots to be recounted. A sample by the Free Press and reports from recount observers in the 2004 presidential election, found non-random methods of selection predominated.

If the 3% recount of the paper ballots matches the official certified tally, the results will stand. If they don’t, then all of the ballots will have to be recounted by hand. This would mean counting the paper trail from the ES&S electronic voting machines in Franklin County.

When Election Science Institute recounted the ballots in Cuyahoga County following the 2006 spring primary meltdown, they found a 5% discrepancy between the electronic votes recorded on the Diebold personal electronic ballots (PEBs) and hard drives and the actual paper trails.

An audit sponsored by the Free Press in Miami County of Opti-scan machines found a similar discrepancy of 5% between the paper ballots and the results as scanned and centrally tabulated by a computer. The Free Press found that the Miami County results were not discovered during the 2004 presidential election recount because of flawed recounting methodology. Miami County officials unsealed the Opti-scan ballots, ran them through the counting machine, got a total, and then recounted by hand. The problem was that the results were not compared back to the officially certified results, but only to the machine counted results.

Numerous irregularities occurred, not just in the Kilroy-Pryce district that includes the western portion of Franklin County and parts of Union and Madison counties, but throughout Franklin County, which is the heart of Kilroy’s support in the district.

    •    A total of 17,766 absentee ballots that were delivered to the Franklin County Board of Elections during the last two days of voting were included in the November 27 official count. A whistleblower contacted the Free Press and stated he saw tens of thousands of ballots stored in a post office warehouse in Columbus the weekend prior to the election. The ballots only had one stamp on them instead of the two required. This information was passed along to national Democratic Party officials. This may explain why there was a massive infusion of absentees uncounted in the 15th district. By tradition, virtually all of them are counted and posted first on Election night.    

    •    The Free Press witnessed voters being unlawfully sent home for identification and unable to vote – in violation of a federal court order that entitled them to vote a provisional ballot with the last four digits of their Social Security number. In a race this close, this widespread practice may have resulted in the narrow margin of victory.

    •    An estimated 1,800 votes from more than 13 electronic machines that weren’t shut down properly by poll workers were also added in to the November 27 total. The problem remains as to the chain of custody regarding these machines and why so many failed to be handled correctly on Election Day.

    •    The Dispatch reported that nine Franklin County pollworkers “accidentally” took cartridges home that had to be later retrieved by deputy sheriffs.

    •    Charles R. Morrison II, a conservative Republican, was stopped by Secretary of State Blackwell’s office from running as an independent in the race. Had he remained in the race, his presence would have aided Kilroy. He later lost in his attempt to be placed on the ballot in federal court. Morrison had denounced the Pryce-Kilroy contest as the choice between “the lesser of two liberals.”

In a related case, Franklin County Judge Carol Squire also asked for a recount of 35 precincts where there was documented incidents where pollworkers incorrectly downloaded vote totals or shut down machines improperly. The Dispatch reported 26 different precincts suffered “mechanical” errors during the election and that “there were pollworker errors in nine precincts, including five in which results were downloaded onto two removable cartridges instead of one.”

The 2006 mid-term election problems are a continuation of the 2004 presidential election debacle in Franklin County. Election Protection activists repeatedly warned that problems were endemic to the electronic voting machines and that House Bill 3 was a “voter suppression” bill. Franklin Democratic Party officials have frequently denounced the Election Protection movement since 2004.

Ironically, Kilroy, who initially supported the election protection movement after the 2004 presidential election, reversed her position early on. After first calling for an independent investigation of the Franklin County Board of Elections, she allowed the Franklin County Board of Elections to conduct and direct its own investigation. Kilroy, currently a Franklin County Commissioner, is responsible for funding and overseeing the operations of the Franklin County Board of Elections (BOE). An investigative report by Mother Jones magazine designated Franklin County, Ohio one of the worst places to vote in the country.

Franklin County BOE Deputy Director Democrat Michael Hackett ended up resigning in 2006 after a contract-steering scandal involving storage carts for the new DRE machines. Former Ohio Democratic Party Chair Denny White was selected to replace Hackett after White resigned from state leadership following the 2004 Ohio election fiasco. Election Protection activists have charged that the Democratic Party treats the BOEs as patronage positions to reward Party insiders rather than as the key positions to preserve voting rights for the people. Franklin County BOE Director was suspended without pay for a month after he received a $10,000 check from a Diebold lobbyist made out to the Republican Party. His job was saved by William Anthony, who serves simultaneously as the Franklin County Democratic Party Chair and the BOE Chair. 

Pressure from local activists forced the BOE to adopt a more visible and larger paper trail for its ES&S DRE machines. Under Ohio law, the paper trail is the actual ballot of record for an electronic voting machine, which will make the impending recount in the Pryce-Kilroy race easier.

Also, under House Bill 3, Kilroy, as a federal candidate, has no right to legally challenge her loss in Ohio state courts. After the 2004 Moss v. Bush case that challenged the results of that presidential election, the Republican-dominated state legislature passed the draconian House Bill 3 including a provision barring federal candidates from legally challenging election results in state court.

There is still indication that a truly random recount along with other revelations uncovered by the Free Press team could result in a Kilroy victory. To her credit, Kilroy has refused to concede. There is ample indication that she was, in fact, the rightful winner. Let’s hope she searches out every possible avenue and makes absolutely certain every vote is properly counted before a final verdict is reached in this crucial race.


Bob Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman are co-authors, with Steve Rosenfeld, of WHAT HAPPENED IN OHIO, just published by the New Press and editors of the Free Press and https://freepress.org. Fitrakis was an independent candidate, endorsed by the Green Party for Governor of Ohio in 2006.
Original article found at https://freepress.org/columns/display/3/2006/1470

CANDIDATE QUESTIONAIRE Greene County Dailies

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For The Greene County Dailies (Beavercreek News-Current, Fairborn Daily Herald, Xenia Daily Gazette)

CANDIDATE QUESTIONAIRE

1. Family – are you married? children? How important is family to you and what kind of life to you try to provide for your family? In what kind of home were you raised and how did that affect you?

Married. No children. I spend as much time as possible with my wife. We work at the same college. There were 8 children in my family and we attended the Missionary Church. This taught me to be truthful and true to God’s will even if my viewpoints are unpopular.

2. What are your hobbies or ways you relax?

I like to work out at the YMCA, walk in local parks and hike in Hocking Hills or Yellow Springs, and watch movies all with my wife. I also like to watch the History Channel and sports, and read.3. Education and professional background? Personal passion? Life goal?

Ph.D. political science and J.D. I have taught political science for 26 years, the last 21 at Columbus State Community College. I have written eleven books. I edit the Columbus Free Press and my passion is for social justice. Goal to afflict the comfortable and comfort the afflicted.4. Influences- is there a certain person that influenced you, a circumstance you faced or other experiences that helped shape your life?

My father, who stood strong at our church against racial discrimination and, after being laid off from the auto industry, took a job as a sanitation worker to support our family. The Detroit riots of 1967 shaped my life and I vowed never to allow racial prejudices to divide people.

5. Do you have a personal motto or set of guidelines you try to live by?

I believe in Jefferson’s motto, that the price of freedom is eternal vigilance. I try to treat my neighbors as I would have them treat me and I believe on should never fear speaking truth to power. My guidelines are teachings of Jesus, Gandhi and King.

6. The biggest personal challenge you’ve faced so far?

My biggest personal challenge was completing my Ph.D. and J.D. I came from a family where my mother and father both dropped out of school before finishing the 10th grade, as did my older brother and sister.

7. The accomplishment that makes you most proud? The best thing about life so far?

An accomplishment I am proud of is winning the Distinguished Teaching Award at Columbus State in 1991. I love the challenge of getting college students to think in a world where ideas and books are often not valued.

8. Most difficult and best thing about being involved in politics?

The most difficult thing is the time involved. The best thing is the feeling that you are contributing to the marketplace of ideas and improving the dialogue in the community.

9. What are you looking forward to? Something you’ve always wanted to do but haven’t yet? Something you have yet to accomplish?

I look forward to working fulltime with my wife, traveling the country and writing about the great events of the day. I love to go to Greece and visit my grandfather’s home. I’d like to write an autobiography focusing on my family history.

10. Anything you wish we’d asked but didn’t? A quirk people might not know about you? Anything else you’d like people to know (this could be anything from your favorite food to your biggest fear or love of

turtles)

I raised two Vietnamese pot-bellied pigs and they taught me a lot about politics and diplomacy.