Friday, November 02, 2012

The Helpy-Chalk 2012 endorsements

The easy stuff

For President: Barack Obama
For Vice President: Joe Biden

For US Senator: Sherrod Brown

For Representative to Congress (9th district): Marcy Kaptur

For State Senator (24th district): Jennifer Brady

For State Representative (16th district): Andrew Meyer

For Prosecuting Attorney: Timothy McGinty.

Harder stuff

For member of the State Board of Education (5th district)

Our choices are Marianne Gasiecki, Rich Javorek and Bryan C. Williams.

The Ohio State Board of Education consists of 19 members, 11 of whom are elected and 8 of whom are appointed. They set K12 policy. District 5 includes all the parts of Cuyahoga County that aren't Cleveland. Our current guy is Robin Hovis, who was originally appointed by Disgraced Republican Governor Bob Taft.

State Impact Ohio gives quick profiles of all the candidates which tell me what I need to know. Gasiecki is a Republican who says Republican things. Javorek is a Democrat who says Democratic things. Williams couldn't get his act together enough to respond to an inquiry from a major news organization.

The Winner: Rich Javorek

Judges Races

Voting for judges is stupid. Whenever someone asks me why voting for judges is stupid I point to this New York Times story about the way Ohio Supreme Court rulings mirror campaign contributions. (Actually no one ever asks me why voting for judges is stupid, which is too bad.)

For Justice of the Supreme Court, race 1

Terrence O'Donnell. (R) v. Mike Skindell (D)

And look who shows up in the first judge's race this cycle: its the poster boy from the above NYT article, Terrence O'Donnell. That article reports that he ruled in favor of his campaign  contributors 91% of the time

The challenger in this race is Mike Skindell. He does not rate as well on the normally reliable  Judge4yourself, but judge4yourself does not work as well on high-stakes partisan elections.

Endorsement: Mike Skindell.

For Justice of the Supreme Court, race 2

Robert R. Cupp (R) vs. William M. O'Neill (D).

O'Neill is running on the promise to end to end bribery at the supreme court level and is refusing all campaign contributions. He did this in 2006 in a race against O'Donnell and lost by 20% of the vote, which is I suppose what happens when you don't raise money and your opponent does.

Endorsement: William M. O'Neill.

For Justice of the Supreme Court, race 3

Sharon Kennedy (R)  vs. Yvette McGee Brown (D)

This is a partisan election, even if the party affiliations aren't on the ballot. Everyone should vote Democratic.

Endorsement: Yvette McGee Brown

For Judge of the Court of Appeals (8th District)

Tim McCormack
Kenneth R. Spanagel

Equal ratings on Judge4Yourself, with McCormack doing better with the general bar, and Spanagel doing better with the criminal defense bar and winning the Plain Dealer endorsement.

But McCormack is the democrat and Spanagel is a Republican, and really this is a partisan election.

Endorsement: Tim McCormack.

For Judge of the Court of Common Pleas (General Division)

Marilyn B. Cassidy
Michael Jackson

Both get good ratings from Judge4Yourself.

Jackson is the Democrat.

Endorsement: Jackson.

For Judge of the Court of Common Pleas (General Division)
Daniel Gaul
Edele Passalacqua

Gaul's ratings are good to excellent on Judge4yourself, while Passalacqua's are adequate to good.

Passalacqua switched parties to Republican to challenge Gaul, after Gaul violated judicial ethics with an outburst in court. Gaul's high ratings at judge4yourself show that the legal establishment--and the Plain Dealer--are still behind him.

Endorsement: Gaul

For Judge of the Court of Common Pleas (General Division)
Kathleen Ann Sutula
Dean W. Van Dress

Sutula is decisively favored by all the groups reporting to judge4yourself. She's a Republican, but her opponent is a city councilman with no legal experience whatsoever.

Endorsement: Sutula

For Judge of the Court of Common Pleas (General Division)
Cathryn R. Ensign
Shirley Strickland Saffold

Strickland Saffold made headlines when it was discovered that she had posted all sorts of insulting and prejudicial comments to under the pseudonym "lawmiss," including the remark that one of the lawyers appearing before her should "shut his Amos and Andy style mouth." When that same 'Amos and Andy' lawyer came before her court again as a part of the Anthony Sowell murder trail, she was removed from the case. Strickland Saffold is now refusing to participate in the judge4yourself process. Ensign, a Republican, is running against Strickland Saffold "at least in part because the judge missed a pre-trial conference that Ensign's client had traveled from Columbus to attend."

Endorsement: Ensign.

For Judge of the Court of Common Pleas (General Division)

Cassandra Collier-Williams
Joan Synenberg

Republican Synenberg gets top marks across the board from judge4yourself, while Collier-Williams low marks, including a dismal "not recommended" from the Ohio Women's Bar. Synenberg gets special commendation for her handling of the case of Joe D'Ambrosio, who was acquitted after spending 21 years on death row for a murder he didn't commit. Synenberg stood up to prosecutors, who, it turned out, had withheld evidence.

Endorsement: Synenberg

For Judge of the Court of Common Pleas (General Division)
Pamela A. Barker
Colleen Ann Reali

The various legal bodies at Judge4yourself give Barker near perfect ratings, while Reali's are as weak as they come. Barker is the Republican, but this far down the ticket, competence trumps partisanship quite handily.

Endorsement: Barker

For Judge of the Court of Common Pleas (General Division)
Robert C. McClelland
Cullen Sweeney

Sweeney changed his name to run for this office. That should decide things right there. McClelland is also higher ranked on judge4yourself. On the other hand, McClelland has not been transparent about campaign contributions and is a Republican. Name changing and secret campaign contributions are pretty much the two worst things about electing judges in Ohio. But McClelland has the backing of the people who actually have to work in the legal system.

Endorsement: McClelland

For Judge of the Court of Common Pleas (General Division)
Annette G. Butler
Steve Gall

Gall is ranked higher at judge4yourself, and Butler actually received a "not recommended" from the Ohio Bar. Butler is a Republican who was "shocked" to discover that the male criminal defendants before her had a very low level of education. It is not known whether she clutched pearls while saying this.

Endorsement: Gall

For Judge of the Court of Common Pleas (Juvenile Division) 
Frankie Goldberg
Denise Nancy Rini

Rini has a slight edge with the legal establishment at and the endorsement of the Plain Dealer. But Goldberg is a Democrat running on a reform platform and touting her connections with popular Democratic figures like Martha Fudge. Goldberg is in the race because she challenged and beat Joseph F. Russo a corrupt drunk who has a last name that appears often in connection with corrupt Cuyahoga county Democratic politics.

Endorsement: Goldberg

For Judge of the Court of Common Pleas (Juvenile Division) 
Michael John Ryan
Anjanette A. Whitman

Ryan is a Democrat with a decisive lead in the ratings at Judge4yourself.

Endorsement: Ryan

State Issues

State Issue 1: Constitutional Convention?

Every 20 years, the state constitution says there has to be a vote on whether there needs to be a new constitutional convention. No one seems to be calling for one this time around.

Endorsement: No

State Issue 2: An independent redistricting council.

Someone called redistricting "The most fun you can have in politics without going to jail." In fact partisan redistricting in Ohio is a nightmare. Since both sides redistrict in their favor when they are in power, the resulting system mostly protects incumbents in general. The new commission would strive to make all districts to be competitive. The only objection to the proposal has been that an unelected body is not "accountable." But we have seen that when it comes to redistricting, the elected bodies are only accountable to their donors and powerbases.

Listen to the debate on this issue at the City Club of Cleveland.

Endorsement: Yes

Bay Village Issues

Issues 3, 4 and 5:

The Republican mayor of Bay is laying the groundwork here to merge city services, including police and fire, with other services in the region. The move is opposed by the police and firefighters unions. Their campaign only mentions issues 4 and 5, and not 3. Perhaps this is because 3 primarily impacts the police and fire chiefs, who count as management.

In any case Bay Village is rich, and doesn't seem to need to save money here. As long as people are willing to buy those jillion dollar lakefront houses, I think there is room for more taxes on the very wealthy.

Endorsement: No.


The proposed change simply says "Shall article XIII section 13.3 Disqualification of the charter of the City of Bay Village, regarding the disqualification of certain city officials, be amended."

This looks like the ordinance that put the issue on the ballot. It contains this text, which seems to be the full text that will be added to the charter:

No Councilman, Mayor, Director of Finance or any other officer, employee or appointee to any board or commission of the Municipality shall cast a vote or approve a contract that he may directly or indirectly be financially interested in any contract, job, work or service with or for the Municipality, nor in the profits or emoluments thereof, nor in the expenditure of any money on the part of the Municipality other than in his fixed compensation and expenses; and any contract with the Municipality in which any officer or employee is or becomes financially interested may be declared void by the Council. Any such individual who takes an action that violates this section shall be disqualified from holding such office or position in addition to being subject to any other penalties provided by law.

This looks like an ordinary measure to prevent sweetheart deals and selling government contracts.

The ordinance also contains this language, which is interesting.
That this ordinance is hereby declared to be an emergency measure immediately necessary for the preservation of the public peace, health, safety and welfare, and for the further reason that it is immediately necessary to place said proposed amendment on the ballot in a timely fashion so the electors may decide the question proposed, wherefore this ordinance shall be in full force and take effect immediately upon its passage and approval by the Mayor.
They may just have to use language like this to expedite the ballot issue. On the other hand, they may be planning on kicking someone out of the government as soon as this is passed. Maybe if I hung out more with the neighborhood gossips I would know these things.

I can't find the full charter for the City on the City's website. Someone should complain about that.

Endorsement: Yes


Bonds for the schools, with a levy to pay for the "debt charges" on the bonds.

Always vote for the schools.

Endorsement: Yes

Cuyahoga County Issues


The port authority does not seem to be well managed, and I think was involved somehow in the recent cluster of corruption cases which led to the downfall of local politicians and a restructuring of government. Still, you need the government to fund economic development. I'd rather reform the system than defund it.

Endorsement: Yes


They want to switch to a 2 year budget cycle.

Endorsement: Yes


They want to stagger the terms of the county auditors and the count executive.

Endorsement: Yes