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Democracy in Columbus

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  • #97263

    Joe Sommer
    Participant

    Figures from the Franklin County Board of Elections:

    Number of registered voters in Columbus: 531,250

    Number who voted in the May 7, 2013 primary: 16,537

    Percentage who voted: 3.11%

    Especially when you consider how many millions of American’s sacrificed – sometimes giving their lives or limbs – so that we can have democracy and self-government, this participation rate is very sad.

    #542960
    Walker Evans
    Walker Evans
    Keymaster

    What’s the national average for voting in May primary elections? There wasn’t a whole lot on the ballot this month, especially in neighborhoods that didn’t have liquor license approvals up for a vote.

    #542961

    Joe Sommer
    Participant

    On the ballot in Columbus was the race for city council. There were significant policy differences between the candidates. And also some significant differences concerning how much they were willing to interact with the public during the campaign. But Columbus’ Media Monopoly – i.e., The Dispatch Media Group – downplayed coverage of the campaign, thus keeping the public uninterested in the race. That entity’s media power is now so extensive that it can control what local issues are on the public’s agenda and what aren’t. In other words, what we have in Columbus is thought control. And the powers-that-be clearly did not want the public to be thinking much about the election for city council. They just wanted the political machine to send out its voters to automatically vote for the incumbents and continue the status quo.

    #542962

    Joe Sommer said:
    Figures from the Franklin County Board of Elections:
    Number of registered voters in Columbus: 531,250
    Number who voted in the May 7, 2013 primary: 16,537
    Percentage who voted: 3.11%

    If you consider that the large number of people who showed up are City of Columbus employees who vote for incumbents, then the real figure is even lower.

    #542963
    Walker Evans
    Walker Evans
    Keymaster

    Joe Sommer said:
    On the ballot in Columbus was the race for city council.

    Well, it was the primary race. The real vote for city council seats is in November. And I’m sure turnout will be higher then.

    Joe Sommer said:
    But Columbus’ Media Monopoly – i.e., The Dispatch Media Group – downplayed coverage of the campaign, thus keeping the public uninterested in the race. That entity’s media power is now so extensive that it can control what local issues are on the public’s agenda and what aren’t. In other words, what we have in Columbus is thought control. And the powers-that-be clearly did not want the public to be thinking much about the election for city council. They just wanted the political machine to send out its voters to automatically vote for the incumbents and continue the status quo.

    Wait, so you’re saying The Dispatch is a left-wing media outlet in support of the democratic incumbents at City Hall?

    #542964

    Joe Sommer
    Participant

    I’m saying the Democratic incumbents at city hall act like pro-corporate Republicans, and for that reason the Dispatch will endorse them. For example, those so-called Democrats voted to use $239 million of public funds to bail out the wealthly owners of the hockey team, including The Dispatch Printing Company. True Democrats would have used that money for social services, not corporate welfare. But the Dispatch will get the public money, and the pseudo-Democrats who gave it to them will get the Dispatch’s endorsement.

    #542965

    pilsner
    Participant

    All of the current City Council members oppose the grassroots movement for campaign finance reform and putting ward style type governance on the ballot. Columbus is the only major U.S. city with an all at-large City Council. It pains me to say it but the Franklin County Democratic machine has exercised one party rule and it has become absolutely corrupt. We need true Democrats and Greens to listen to the grassroots and clean up the mess.
    The $239 MILLION for a global insurance company and four of the richest families in central Ohio is beyond the pale. That money could be used to help neighborhoods and people who are hurting.

    #542966

    jbcmh81
    Participant

    Joe Sommer said:
    I’m saying the Democratic incumbents at city hall act like pro-corporate Republicans, and for that reason the Dispatch will endorse them. For example, those so-called Democrats voted to use $239 million of public funds to bail out the wealthly owners of the hockey team, including The Dispatch Printing Company. True Democrats would have used that money for social services, not corporate welfare. But the Dispatch will get the public money, and the pseudo-Democrats who gave it to them will get the Dispatch’s endorsement.

    I’m sure no one agrees with every vote or decision city council has made, but the fact is that they’ve been pretty good at moving the city forward in terms of development and economy. It’s really hard to find tons of fault with them, which is likely why they keep getting voted in.

    #542967

    Joe Sommer
    Participant

    Actually, it’s quite easy to find serious fault with Columbus’ arrogant and unresponsive city council. But the Dispatch Media Group keeps covering up the fault, and raking in the public dollars that council throws at it. For more about problems with Columbus city council, see http://www.columbuscoalition.info.

    #542968

    Alex Silbajoris
    Participant

    This is something I was working up until it got too silly, which I guess was unavoidable because the original is silly.

    Oh, shit, get your ballots ready
    It’s about to go down
    Everybody in the place find your fucking wards
    But stay in your motherfucking line
    We’re running this, let’s go

    I got a vote
    I got a vote
    Everybody look at me ’cause I got a fucking vote
    I got a vote
    I got a vote
    Take a good hard look at the motherfucking vote

    I got a vote motherfucker, take a look at me
    Straight putting out the voice into democracy
    Sprouting grass roots, and I’m sowing wild oats
    You can’t stop me motherfucker ’cause I got a vote

    Take a poll, hole, I’m on a roll, fool
    I get the shirt sticker says that I voted, too
    I got the vote card, the little curtains flappin’
    You’re out with the leash and the little doggies crapp’n
    This ain’t a walk in the park
    This is real as it gets
    I got a vote motherfucker don’t you ever forget

    I got a vote and
    It’s gonna pass, man
    I keep a sample ballot folded by my ass, man

    Get the fuck up, this vote is real

    Well it makes for a fun image search anyway.

    edited to add for balanced content

    #542969

    NDaEast
    Participant

    jbcmh81 said:
    I’m sure no one agrees with every vote or decision city council has made, but the fact is that they’ve been pretty good at moving the city forward in terms of development and economy. It’s really hard to find tons of fault with them, which is likely why they keep getting voted in.

    Really? Let me try. HUD Secretary Mario Cuomo once told Mayor Greg Lashutka that Lashutka had the easiest job in America. People across the country know Columbus political leadership has it easy: our council members were born on third base and think they hit a triple. Columbus is home of state government, home of the largest university in the nation, headquarters for several large insurance companies, home of Battelle, and a city that is not landlocked due to water/sewer/annexation decisions made in the 1950s by dozens of “newer” cities like Columbus. For many years, it was broadly thought Columbus was “recession proof” because of the counter-cyclical spending of state government (with a stable and growing civil service and unionized workforce), education, and insurance. If you look inside our 1950’s boundaries, our city looks like a lot of other older declining cities whose boundaries are ringed by suburbs and have not been able to capture the geographically expanding tax base. According to MSN Money we have the third highest tax rate (but no public debate on that fact), and despite our growth we have increasing childhood poverty, increasing family hunger, and growing income disparities to boot. So, while we do very well in lots of areas due primarily to some built in structural advantages that we continue to reap benefits from (and should all be thankful for), we clearly have areas for improvement as well.

    Its not like the current members of council — all of whom were appointed to office and run as incumbents in the most expensive elections possible (citywide/at large) where their campaigns are funded by the party boss — have done anything special, unique, or particularly notable. They have filled the seats required by our city charter, and have done predictably as they are told to do (not a single “no” vote on the Nationwide Arena bailout). In the coming election, I’d like to see our incumbent council members showcase their independence by refusing to accept more than $20K from Friends for Ginther (every commercial I heard during the primary was paid for by Friends for Ginther, not the incumbent’s campaign). By not doing so, they leave themselves open to the criticism that they are nothing more than Andy’s lap dogs.

    So as far as enhancing our democracy, this set of council members have been abject failures. All initially appointed (rather than elected), all oppose district-based governance that is the overwhelming norm for large cities, all oppose campaign finance reform that was passed by 63% of the voters in 1994 but never enacted into law, all support corporate welfare for the most profitable corporation in Columbus (Nationwide Arena bailout) despite the voters’ rejection of public funding for an arena, all support restrictions on televising non-agenda comments from the public at council meetings, all support the growing of City government’s propaganda TV station (CTV-3) while opposing giving the people their public access television back (Channel 21), all support the current council President who presided over the largest scandal in Columbus’s history when he did not act on whistle-blower information in 1994 …

    The most stunning thing is how unwilling this group is to even discuss these issues of fairness and accountability in elections — they will take up the party line against Citizens United, but their own unlimited money from major contributors is just fine here locally as far as they are concerned (Andrew Ginther’s campaign gave each of the 3 incumbent council candidates over $108K each for their elections in 2011, and it looks like that trend will continue in 2013). This is a hypocritical and undemocratic group who benefit from a corrupted single party political system where only 3 council members over the last 28 years were put in office by the voters — the rest all appointed … who then benefit from the natural advantages of an unearned incumbency (unless you consider party loyalty merit), … who then benefit from the fact that we have the most expensive elections possible which limits competition … who then benefit by the fact that no Democratic Party members will challenge them in the primary because it is futile and makes them “unloyal” Democrats who will never then be appointed …

    … and since the electorate is not 100% party Democrats, why should our council be 100% party Democrats. In an electoral system that supports fair elections, shouldn’t we at least have an Independent or a Republican, who collectively account for about 60% of the Columbus electorate?

    … our system is broken, the citizenry is largely unaware/unmotivated, and we will hand off a more controlled and unaccountable system of governance to our children than our parents did to us. We should be ashamed that in our comfort, we neglect our democracy. That is why I DARE 2B FAIR with the Columbus Coalition for Responsive Governmenthttp://www.columbuscoalition.info

    #542970

    Alex Silbajoris
    Participant

    I sent the above post to a friend who is a professor of geography at Berkeley – his response:

    Spot on. Geographers and planners call this problem and disparity in suburbs not being integrated under city government “under bounding”, as in Columbus is less under bounded than Boston or Los Angeles but more under bounded than Indianapolis (which annexed its whole county – that’s really the way to go). Other city-counties include San Francisco. Philadelphia, OKC and of course Miami-Dade. Conversely some cities span multiple counties (notably Atlanta and, of course, NYC). Scale is also an issue – this fragmentation is a serious problem for Atlanta, but New York is so big the additional administrative layer probably helps on balance.

    #542971

    Joe Sommer
    Participant

    I saw in Joe Hallett’s column in today’s Dispatch that Mayor Coleman loves working with Columbus’ two Republican members of Congress, Steve Stivers and Pat Tiberi. He said of them (and Democratic Rep. Joyce Beatty): “I couldn’t have asked for a better team to work with. Each of them, in their own right, has leverage and power and ability. It’s kind of like a dream team for me.” If Coleman is a true Democrat, how could his Dream Team of Congressional Representatives for Columbus include two pro-corporate Republicans? Something is wrong with this picture. I don’t think Coleman or the members of Columbus city council are true Democrats.

    #542972
    Walker Evans
    Walker Evans
    Keymaster

    Joe Sommer said:
    I don’t think Coleman or the members of Columbus city council are true Democrats.

    So you’re saying that a “true” politician is one that is unwilling to work with members of the opposite party?

    #542974

    Joe Sommer
    Participant

    Trying to work with the other side is fine. But Coleman, an alleged Democrat, publicly proclaims that two pro-corporate Republicans are part of his “dream team” of Congressional representatives for Columbus. Coming from a longtime Democratic family, I know that real Democrats don’t talk that way. And as for the alleged Democrats on Columbus city council, they have so turned their backs on the “Party of the People” that it’s pathetic. They’re like corporate Democrats on steroids.

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