Sunday, December 12, 2010

Of "Secrets" and Transparency, Part I

Far too much has already been written about the December 3 meeting at the home of county councilman-elect Julian Rogers, especially by our local daily. The Plain Dealer has led the chorus denouncing what they so obviously enjoy referring to as the "secret" meeting that resulted in the agreement -- now in tatters -- among six members-elect to support C. Ellen Connally for president and Dale Miller for vice president. The vote was to have been last Monday but that was scuttled under the PD's intimidating bullhorn and angry spotlight.

There has been too little analysis accompanying the outrage, however, so a week later we offer our assessment of this tempest. We do acknowledge however, that the paper did offer what was likely a fair sampling of public commentary on its website, even citing two of our favorite bloggers, Anastasia Pantsios here and Jill Miller Zimon here.

Our first observation is to note that calling the meeting "secret" is inaccurate. There is no evidence that the organizers or attendees intended to keep knowledge of the meeting hidden. That this was never a goal is clear, given that councilman-elect Chuck Germana was told about the meeting beforehand but not invited, pretty much a surefire way to get the word out.

Further evidence that the meeting was not secret was that we were able to report its results almost immediately afterwards. Our informant was not at the meeting but had received the news from one of the key attendees who had called to share it. So even after the meeting there was no press for "secrecy".

In short, the meeting was "secret" only if you define secrecy as being not broadcast via press release or open to the media and general public.

A better characterization of the meeting is to say it was "private", in the sense of not being open to the public.

Did the meeting violate what Cuyahoga residents voted for when they passed the new charter? I don't know, although there are lots of folks who are screaming "YES". But do not count me among the presumptive mindreaders who now speak with precise authority about what voters wanted last November.

The result of that election was clear. The vast majority wanted change. Heck, even many opponents of Issue 6 and/or supporters of Issue 5 [not necessarily the same people] wanted change. It is a near-certainty that most of us wanted an end to corruption and nepotism, more honesty and openness, greater efficiency, more transparency, fewer executive sessions and an end to backroom deals regarding the expenditure of public funds.

Did we even discuss how the council president would be selected? Did we want less partisanship? Arguably, but the drafters and promoters of Issue 6 gave us a complete charter, crafted behind closed doors, that did not call for nonpartisan primaries or elections.

Let's be clear. We also wanted smarter government than the 19th century commissioner system and the six council members-elect have gotten off to a poor start in assuring us that we will get it. They could have found a better way to select their leadership, and they most certainly should have been more courageous about it.

In my view, council members should never have promised a public process, only a transparent one. The difference: the Democratic members had a right to caucus, and should have explained the circumstances under which it was appropriate to caucus. They should have then announced that they were going to caucus, worked our their leadership, and then announced the results. Transparency achieved.

The larger point that needs addressing is where we go from here. We are a fragile and fractured polity, and we are like the generals fighting the last war, with too little regard for how the landscape has changed. We will talk about this tomorrow.

Friday, December 03, 2010

Breaking News: Connally to be new county council president

The Real Deal has learned that C. Ellen Connally, D-9 will be the first president of the Cuyahoga County Council.

Connally has been competing for the post with fellow Democrat Dale Miller, D-2. Each was understood to have been supported by several Democratic council members-elect. The two have agreed to work together, with Miller slated to become vice-president.

Among other things, their agreement means that the top two council positions will be headed by Cleveland residents. Connally's district comprises several inner-ring suburbs, while Miller's district includes some west side suburbs. The pact also negates the possibility that the presidency of the overwhelmingly Democratic council could have been decided by the three Republican members of the council.

The council members-elect will meet in public session at 8 AM Monday at Cleveland State University for an unofficial vote that is expected to ratify these results. The official county action will take place on January 3 following the New Year's Day swearing-in of the new county officials.

Miller confirmed this information when telephoned by The Real Deal this afternoon. He deferred any discussion of how the pact was reached to the putative new president. We have been unable to reach Ms Connally for her comment but did confirm the information with a public official who advised us that Miller had called her to share the news.

Monday, November 15, 2010

NAACP Misses a Moment, but Hope Lies Ahead

Yesterday’s NAACP election was a potential watershed moment in Cleveland political history. It was an opportunity to move beyond the representational politics that have come to dominate much black political activity, especially in communities still operating on old ethnic group patronage models of allocating political and economic resources. This obviously includes places like Cuyahoga County, where black political activity in the post-civil rights era often amounts to a kind of race relations management in which the have-nots fight in the trenches while the higher ups are busy allocating the spoils.

It helps us to understand events when we are able to see them in the larger contexts of structure and process. The political scientist Adolph Reed Jr. has written compellingly about black politics in the post-segregation era. He talks about the nonparticipatory politics enacted by the mainstream black politicians where the undifferentiated masses, the underclass, do not speak. The spokesman is identifiable, but his constituency can be defined only by inference.

The Plain Dealer account of yesterday’s NAACP election said that George Forbes won an easy victory over his opponent and quoted him and member Jocelyn Travis as attributing the victory to Forbes’ being essential to protecting the black community’s economic interests.  The story was incomplete as to facts, one-sided as to sourcing, disingenuous in its analysis, and devoid of context that would suggest why the election had any significance.

Forbes was indeed re-elected yesterday for a tenth term as president of the Cleveland Branch NAACP. To say, however, that he “easily defeated opponent Lawrence Floyd” or that his candidacy was “in response to a mandate” as the page 1 teaser put it, is to advance dubious propositions.

Forbes received 65 votes to 53 for Floyd. Nine contested ballots went unopened because they would not have affected the twelve-vote margin. When you consider that there were 18 unopposed candidates on the Forbes slate running either for officer positions or for executive committee seats, the race was more like 19 people against one. The size of the vote and the relative slimness of the margin against a solitary opponent, who was not a household name, actually attest to a tenuous victory and a rising chorus for change.

Forbes’ team includes several officers — Bishop F. E. Perry, attorney James L. Hardiman, Dr. Eugene Jordan, and Amos Mahsua, CPA — who average about 30+ years on the board. Unverified numbers provided to The Real Deal indicate that local branch membership has dwindled to less than 1500, including many churches, social organizations, businesses and others who hold Life Memberships that were fully paid decades ago. Attendance at this year’s Freedom Fund Dinner, the branch’s major fundraiser, was only about half of what it was back when Forbes was first elected president, notwithstanding the growth claims he made in a letter sent to the membership just last week.

The fall off in support for the NAACP is not just local. The national office is challenged regularly to defend its relevance in a post-segregated world. This is not a post-racial America even though we are a generation beyond the basic legal racial restrictions in voting rights, public accommodations, and the like. However, in critical areas — criminal justice, public education, voter disqualification, housing, police misconduct — there are persuasive arguments that far more sophisticated tools of discrimination and exclusion have been developed.

The need for a strong and vital civil rights organization will doubtless be coterminous with the history of the country. If you doubt it, ask pretty much any immigrant of color without a Ph.D. Neither wealth, power, status is any guarantee against arbitrary discrimination.

The Cleveland NAACP has become a model of exclusion where alternative voices are discouraged, debate is stifled in the false idol of racial unanimity, and power is concentrated in whimsical and tyrannical hands. The idea that only one octogerarian man can assure equitable treatment for 400,000 black people — is of course, ludicrous. The re-elected president has now attributed this irrational view to both the casino moguls and to the local NAACP lay leadership.

The same values of transparency, collaboration, accountability, dialogue and inclusion that motivated the best efforts of county reforms must become core within the NAACP. This is the surest if not the only way in which the Cleveland NAACP can once again become a trusted community partner.

The next branch election is two years away. Join the NAACP now, get involved and make a difference. That is the hope that lies ahead.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Time for a NAACP president who believes in Black People

There are moments when a speaker will say something that illuminates their core beliefs that is far more revelatory than they could have imagined or intended. It comes across with such immediate and astonishing clarity that all else the speaker says just fades away. For me, such a moment occurred when George Forbes answered a question at the NAACP Executive Committee meeting in September.

Under discussion was the local NAACP branch’s apparent inability to generate much publicity about its ACT-SO program [Afro-Academic, Cultural, Technological and Scientific Olympics]. ACT-SO is a student enrichment program to promote academic and artistic excellence among students of African American descent, culminating in a local and national competition.

Cleveland youth have had considerable success in recent years in national competition, bringing home several gold, silver and bronze medals, in addition to numerous scholarship awards. The concern at the September meeting was why the Branch had been unable to get a story about the most recent successes published in the Call & Post, a paper that targets the local black community.
Mr. Forbes’ offhand answer was direct: “Hey, look, it’s a black newspaper. You have to write it, take the pictures, and deliver it to them.”

The remarks were delivered with an avuncular sort of bemusement that the question even had to be asked. 'See here, he was saying, these are black folks. They can’t do any better. It’s not a real newspaper, you know. It’s not like they have real writers and editors.'

There it was: the emperor with no clothes. Here was the leader of the local chapter of the nation’s preeminent civil rights organization, charged first and foremost with defending and advancing the interests of African Americans, pretty much putting down his own race and proclaiming the incompetence of black people.
Is it any wonder that white power brokers in Cuyahoga keep going to him for deal-making about county reorganization, or protection from complaints about a lack of inclusion when multi-million dollar contracts are being discussed?
Keep in mind that Mr. Forbes’ name appears on the masthead of every issue of the Call & Post, advertising his status as “Chief Legal Counsel”. In front of fifteen or so presumed advocates of equality and inclusion, he is publicly, nonchalantly and gratuitously denigrating his incompetent client, owned by his good friend and client, the boxing promoter Don King. [Mr. King would not even be the owner of the paper but for his lawyer’s suggestion, but that’s a story for perhaps another day.]

How long can Cleveland’s black community allow George Forbes to speak for them and allow him to negotiate on their behalf when it is clear he does not respect them?

Mr. Forbes could be heard last week vouching for the integrity of a wealthy white businessman for the umpteenth time. Dan Gilbert can be trusted, he told a lunchtime group of mostly senior citizens – NAACP Life Members whose votes he will be looking for this Sunday to maintain his bully pulpit. Mr. Forbes had dealt with a lot of rich white men, he told the crowd, citing his friend and former client, the late Dick Jacobs -- and he knew which ones to trust. Therefore, the community could be assured that black people would be treated fairly.

One by one, three members of Dan Gilbert’s development team, stood up at the luncheon and assured the crowd in the most reasonable tones, that they would work closely with Mr. Forbes to insure a fair deal for the black community.

Newcomers to Cleveland figure out where Mr. Forbes is coming from after about five minutes of watching this act. They uniformly assert that this kind of “leadership” would not fly in Alabama, Georgia, New York, or wherever they have just come from. How long will we tolerate it here?

In a comment to yesterday’s post, david asked: “Nice as he is, are we to select [attorney Larry] Floyd primarily because he isn't Mr. Forbes? What is it about Mr. Floyd's vision and agenda that makes him the guy?

Fair questions. The first answer is “yes”. The answer to the second question is that Mr. Floyd has been an active member of the branch, volunteering both personal and professional time. He has offered the outlines of a strategic plan for the branch, parts of which at least he seems to have mailed to each eligible voter.

The Floyd plan cites the NAACP’s assets [its history, legal successes, etc.] its weaknesses [including “outdated image, low active membership participation, lack of collaboration with other organizations, etc.] and its current challenges/opportunities [restoring credibility, establishing accountability, fundraising, growing the membership, etc.].

An important sidebar to this race is whether the branch will retain executive director Stanley Miller if Mr. Forbes is re-elected. Longtime branch official Jocelyn Travis declined to run for re-election, fueling speculation that she would like to replace Mr. Miller in a new Forbes administration. Rev. Miller was recruited by Mr. Forbes four years ago following a successful corporate career, but some say that Mr. Forbes has soured on his choice, citing Mr. Miller’s less than wholehearted defense of the NAACP’s endorsement of the statewide ballot issue in 2009. Passage of that issue authorized Dan Gilbert to build and operate the Cleveland casino, the construction of which will has Mr. Forbes as the anointed gate-keeper of black Clevelanders’ interests, pending Sunday’s vote.

Results posted here Sunday as soon as available, possibly as early as 6PM.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Top Ten Reasons George Forbes Should Not Be Re-elected as NAACP President

George Forbes was first elected president of the NAACP in 1992, defeating former city councilwoman Mildred Madison, and the Rev. Larry Harris of Mt. Olive Missionary Baptist Church. Between 1500 and 3000 people turned out to vote one very cold day at the Martin Luther King Branch library in University Circle. Mr. Forbes has been unchallenged since his victory that day, as many principled members of the branch's executive committee grew weary of solitary struggle and moved on to other endeavors.

Mr. Forbes announced at the September meeting of the branch's executive committee that he would not be running for re-election. He said he had had enough and that he was tired. When the nominating committee submitted its report at the October meeting, Mr. Forbes was at the head of the ticket once again. He said that he had been persuaded to change his mind at the behest of Dan Gilbert. Mr. Gilbert, of course owns the Cavaliers and was given a license to become a billionaire by Ohio voters who guaranteed him a monopoly in perpetuity to own and operate casinos in Cleveland and Cincinnati. According to Mr. Forbes, Mr. Gilbert's Rock Ventures' Cleveland casino is to be a model of inclusivity and Mr. Forbes is indispensable to making that happen.

We don't agree, and herewith offer ten reasons why George Forbes should no longer run the NAACP.

10. The Cleveland NAACP has lost its credibility as an honest broker in civil rights. The branch is widely perceived to be an extension of of Mr. Forbes' political and business interests. [See # 2 below]
9. The Cleveland NAACP cannot lay claim to the high moral bround essential to its mission when its president has been repeatedly involved in ethical murky waters, including several occasions directly related to his role as branch president.
8. During Mr. Forbes' tenure, the branch has been unable to sustain the corporate and larger community support essential to its programmatic and financial success. Corporate support of the Freedom Fund Dinner has virtually disappeared and corporate representation on the executive committee is practically non-existent.
7. During his tenure, community interest in the NAACP has dwindled. Dues-paying membership has dropped and interest in the organization is at an alltime low.
[Personal note: I was once an active member of the Cleveland branch NAACP. At one point I ran for president of the local chapter and finished a very distant third to attorney James Hardiman and Fr. Austin Cooper. The sixty or so votes I got in that election [1978?] were more votes than the total number of ballots cast in 2006 and 2008 combined. Read that sentence again. Fewer than 25 people bothered to turn out to vote for NAACP officers in either of the last two elections. Nonvoters included many of the officers themselves.]
6. There has been a wholesale failure during Mr. Forbes' tenure to develop any meaningful new lay leadership. The same officers and executive committee members serve term after dismal turn. Some of the biggest offenders in this regard have been officers for FORTY YEARS.
5. Two decades as chief honcho of a nonprofit organization is too long for anybody, even if their accomplishments have been stellar. Organizations need to recruit and develop new talent to remain vibrant and relevant.
4. Mr. Forbes' best days as a leader are long behind him. At the very latest he should have retired when he was honored a couple of Freedom Fund dinners ago.
3. There is a total absence of programmatic leadership or planning by the NAACP board. Executive Committee members supinely follow whatever dictates their president announces.
2. Mr. Forbes has remained in power by posturing as the sole leader who can effectively represent the black community. He repetitively stands in front of black people and relates how he told this or that white person -- Bill Mason, Bruce Akers, Ted Strickland, Dan Gilbert, whomever -- that he is the arbiter of what is good for black people. He presumes to know the answer and is ever ready to tell black minions which white people are trustworthy. This straw boss role has greatly enriched Mr. Forbes and made it easy for corporate and political interests to do one-stop shopping to appease the black community.
1. Even when arguably effective at a given moment, there is in the longer term gross inefficiency and grave danger in the Messianic leadership model so prevalent in African American communities. We revere Martin Luther King Jr. for his role as leader in the civil rights movement. He may have emerged as first among equals but he had a mighty strong cadre of leaders who worked alongside and counseled him. We gravely misread history when we exalt Dr. King as a savior. The civil rights movement had many mothers and fathers. 
Any NAACP member who comes out this Sunday to vote for attorney Lawrence Floyd as branch president will be casting a vote against bossism, messianic leadership, and the plantation politics.
* * *
There is at least one other overarching reason Mr. Forbes should be replaced as branch president. I will write about that tomorrow.

Monday, November 08, 2010

Cleveland NAACP to hold election this Sunday, Nov. 14

The Cleveland branch NAACP holds its biannual election for officers and Executive Committee members this coming Sunday, November 14, 2010 from 2-5PM at Cathedral Church of God in Christ, 2940 Martin Luther King Drive, Cleveland OH 44104-4802

George Forbes, who is running for re-election as president after announcing at the branch's September meeting that he was tired and had had enough, is facing opposition for the first time. Local attorney Larry Floyd is also running for the post and has put forth a platform for action.

We will be writing more about this story in the next few days. If your membership was current on October 14, 2010, you should certainly be making plans to vote this year.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Post-Election Observations, Part One – Spaces and Places

The most telling image of post-Election Day coverage in the local paper was the map showing the partisan divide among the first-ever county council. Republicans won only three of the eleven seats, but the geographic extent of their districts comprises more than half of the county’s land. Of equal significance, the GOP districts surround the more densely populated Democratic center districts like a doughnut surrounds a hole.

The twin factors of space and place epitomize both much of the county’s history and the challenges to be faced by the new council, even as its members ready themselves for office in January.

Looking at “place”, the eight districts [2-4 and 7-11] comprise the inner core of Cuyahoga County: the City of Cleveland and its inner-ring suburbs. The three GOP districts [1, 5, and 6] constitute what could be considered a necklace of sorts. The back doors of these districts all touch adjacent counties. Without the exception only of tiny Oakwood Village, 32 the municipalities that make up this GOP turf are overwhelmingly white.

The “space” disparity – three outer districts have a greater land mass than the eight central districts – suggests that the occupants of those districts enjoy a less crowded sense of community, a fact likely attributable to greater household income and wealth.

We are discussing the obvious here, but we do ourselves no service as a community if we pretend the obvious does not exist. The Plain Dealer, for instance, points to Ed FitzGerald’s victory in the county executive race as evidence that the Democratic Party organization is still intact. Left undiscussed is the fact that Ed FitzGerald went looking for votes in Hough, Glenville, Warrensville Heights, East Cleveland, and Bedford Heights. How many of his five opponents honored these area with their campaign efforts? [Bus signage doesn't count.]

Why would the strapped and the trapped -- welfare recipients, struggling single parents, senior citizens, the outcast and the left-behind – and other hard-working citizens vote for some of the wealthiest candidates this community has ever had, when those candidates did not even bother to come meet them, nor offer any credible programs or initiatives that would address their issues?

Black people are often described, accurately, as “the most dependable” part of the Democratic Party base. Sometimes I think it’s because Republicans make them that way.

I will have more to say on this in the next installment. But I will add early on that we can’t begin to solve our complex issues unless we begin by acknowledging and naming them. And I will go on record as saying that neither race nor gender should play a role in the selection of the first council president.

Monday, November 01, 2010

Election Day 2010

I am a traditionalist when it comes to voting. I like walking to my neighborhood precinct — usually the library or the elementary school — and physically casting my ballot in our increasingly virtual world.

[Actually, I’m a deep procrastinator, so I wait until the last day, telling myself you never know what may happen during the campaign to change my assessment. [Only yesterday I read that a Seattle newspaper withdrew its endorsement of a judge who made public statements betraying his deep bias and limited understanding.

I also confess that, from the vantage of one who writes about politics and public affairs, I am less and less impressed with newspaper endorsements. They seem so after the fact. The paper’s decision makers favor this candidate, and then they set out to find reasons to convince voters who are undecided, wavering, harried, uninformed, preoccupied or lazy, why they should vote the paper’s way. Editorialists argue in a Mt. Olympus tenor that suggests they know best. Even if you know nothing about the candidates, it often comes across as so much b.s.

Much of the time it seems candidates are asked the wrong questions. Candidates talk about policies and what they intend to do. Their commercials bash their opponents. Too many exaggerate their virtues and demonize their opponents. When 80% of the electorate tunes out, the politicians get louder and more strident. This season, as the television blasted four, five, even six consecutive political ads in a single commercial break, I resorted to an old tack. I turned off the sound and observed their faces and body language, and looked for character clues.

Why is this candidate really running? Do they appear to have a real dedication to public service? Is their opposition to existing policy based on genuine analysis or the financial interests of their backers? Can they be counted upon to stay true to conviction when the discussions are private and compromises [“deals?”] are on the table? Are they special interest captives, reflexively parroting a party line? Depending on the nature of the office they seek, what evidence suggests they have the requisite components of executive, legislative, or judicial skills and temperament to be honest and effective public servants?

Seldom do I find my local papers giving me real help in discovering answers to these questions. And history tells us these questions mean more than platforms and promises, because the issues that arise during the term of service are often unforeseen. Bush 41 was elected president with presumed foreign policy expertise and was undone by domestic issues. Bush 43 had an intense domestic agenda that took a deep back seat to post-911 global issues. Lyndon Johnson had immense legislative skills that proved useless in charting a course in Southeast Asia. Neither Ike nor JFK was prepared to deal with civil rights.

The same considerations apply locally. Every current candidate for county executive proclaims that his administration will be honest, open, and efficient. I bet they all love their grandmothers too. Who among them, however, has the political and life experience to revamp effectively a huge public bureaucracy with requisite degrees of wisdom, tenacity, and fairness? Who is least likely to make critical errors that will erode the public support and confidence necessary for effective leadership? The “best” policies mean nothing without the ability to implement them. So who can work best with a new county council whose dynamics are totally unknown?

These are the kinds of questions I have been asking since the new county charter was approved. [I have been asking similar questions about state and federal races as well.] To answer them I have, like many of you, watched and listened to the candidates, read campaign literature, visited websites, reviewed platforms, talked with supporters and opponents.

So, for those of you are either undecided, wavering, harried, uninformed, preoccupied, lazy, or just curious, here is who I plan to vote for county exec when I go to Noble Elementary School Tuesday, November 2.

I think independent Don Scipione and Green Party nominee David Ellington are the "smartest" candidates. They are reasonable men who if elected, would serve in a true spirit of public service. If either were elected they would find themselves as unprepared as was Dennis Kucinich the day he was sworn in as mayor of Cleveland. This would only be slightly less true of independent Ken Lanci. His frustration would come as soon as he discovered that you can’t fire everybody who doesn’t want to do things your way, and that there are vast differences between running a company you own and having to pretty much negotiate everything you do with independently-based council members, civil servants, interest groups, media, and several score municipalities.

I respected Tim McCormack as county auditor and county commissioner and thought he got a political raw deal when business interests conspired to oust him in favor of pseudo-liberal Tim Hagan several years ago. He was an uncompromising commissioner in healthy ways. But his strong self-righteousness and thin-skinned persona would likely endanger the kind of coalition-building necessary to get our new charter experiment off to a successful start. I also have a sense that he is now a stealth candidate for some of the same business interests that consistently roam local corridors of power.

Republican Matt Dolan impressed me when he appeared this past April at an early nonpartisan forum sponsored by the Eleventh District Congressional Caucus. He was direct and surprisingly at ease in a gathering that was mostly black and Democratic. I am disappointed that he did not continue along the same path of positive engagement countywide. Instead, he seemed to retreat to his comfort zone in the mostly white, mostly wealthy corners of the county, from where he lobbed grenades attacking his Democratic opponent as a foe of charter reform and scurrilous attacks linking him to the county corruption.

I had never heard of Lakewood mayor Ed FitzGerald, the Democratic Party nominee, until after last year’s charter vote, even though he was mayor of one of the county’s largest and best run cities. I was initially cautious about him, especially because of presumed ties to the Bill Mason faction of his party. In twelve months of watching and investigating, I have found nothing to be concerned with on that score, even absent the mounting evidence that county prosecutor Mason’s political career is moving to a dead end with all deliberate speed.

FitgGerald’s charter opposition, rooted in a belief that a different process would have led to an improved charter, is not a reason to disqualify him from serving as County Executive, any more than it would be a reason to disqualify the more than half a million registered County voters who did not vote for the charter from voting for the new positions the charter created.

But I have found several positive reasons to vote for Ed FitzGerald. First, he has real leadership skills. He is a grounded individual, based upon his family, church, and community values. He has regularly articulated the clearest, most comprehensive, and positive vision of what Cuyahoga County can become, and he has done it consistently all across the county, with voters of every ethnic and class background. And no matter where he has been, or who he has been in front of, he has been himself, seeking to connect with people where there are, suggesting that a common journey to a better place is possible. He has done so earnestly, his message appropriately leavened by a deft sense of humor that the new county executive will surely need.

I think Ed FitzGerald is clearly the best choice to be our first County Executive.

If you haven’t voted, I hope you find the discussion useful. If you weren’t planning to vote, perhaps you will be persuaded to go to the polls and exercise your right and duty. And if you don’t vote, then in the words of a longtime friend, a true Republican, a retired judge who is still a feisty and active civic leader, “Nobody gives a damn what you think if you don’t vote.”

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Giants in Our Midst

My thoughts about this post arrived with that pre-dawn clarity that emerges where lots of the things one has been wrestling with for a long time suddenly find resolution. For me, the last few months have been full of multiple re-connections, recapitulations and reconsiderations. A Journey to Sankofaland, as Alice Coltrane might call it.

Sankofa, as many of you know, is an African term/concept where one looks to the past to prepare for the future. That has certainly been my situation as my late summer and early fall were periods of reunion and reflection, both real and virtual.

The first look back was especially congenial. Four of my confreres from the epic 1960s came to Cleveland for a mini-reunion. We had met at one of America’s most liberal colleges in one of the nation’s most tumultuous times — President Kennedy was assassinated two months after I arrived as a freshman; Martin King was assassinated two months before I graduated. Coming of age at that time and in that space, we bonded in ways that have held firm through more than four decades and sometimes scant contact. We did the downtown happy hour, a Rock & Roll Hall of Fame concert, a Saturday morning excursion to the West Side Market, and a mini-tour that encompassed a passage through my old Glenville neighborhood and University Circle before settling in my backyard for well-lubricated repast and talk.

The second look back came with the passing of a family member, Mollye Virginia Jackson Williams, a remarkably joyous, talented, and giving woman who died at 99. Only Alzheimer’s could have dimmed her matchless vitality, which sadly it did for her last decade or so. She was the last survivor of ten remarkable siblings. Read her obituary at the end of this post for a glimpse of those who have worked to redeem America’s promise.

The reunion theme continues for me as the first Andrews Family Reunion in over 40 years takes place this Thanksgiving in Dallas. Not yet sure that I will be there, but I am charged with contributing a piece on my father’s branch. In preparation I pulled out a Texas Trailblazers account of the life of my great-great grandfather, Robert L. Andrews Sr. (1865—1933). A re-read of his story as audacious businessman and civic leader in Houston [he lived on Cleveland Street!] inspired me on a recent milestone birthday to incorporate a new business named for his signature success.

I am a word aficionado. One of my earliest memories is sitting at my father’s feet in the living room of our two-bedroom Howard Manor apartment on the Howard University campus in Washington, DC. I read the comics as he sat in his wing chair, reading the news and stealing a few moments of daily respite. Both my parents spoke and wrote with precision, but it was probably from my dad that I came so early to love the sounds and rhythms of the English language. I still recall in my mind’s ear hearing with fascination hearing the word “Mordecai”. The word never made sense to me but I loved it.

It was only decades later that I realized that Mordecai Johnson was the legendary president of Howard University, where some of my parents’ friends, like James Nabrit, Jimmy Porter and “Dot P” were employed. Very belatedly did I come to appreciate that these adults were world-class achievers.

This has me devouring In Search of the Talented Tenth: Howard University Public Intellectuals and the Dilemmas of Race, 1926-1970. Written by University of Akron professor and Cleveland resident Zachery R. Williams, the book examines and argues the important relationship between individual achievement and community culture. While my attraction to it is deeply personal and visceral, I cannot read it without considering its implications for my Cuyahoga arrondissement. I will be reviewing this book soon in this space. I will conclude for now by saying that the book — while focused on a single institution during a defined time —raises questions about race, class, achievement, education, identity, accessibility and community that are arguably more fundamental than our recent county governmental reorganization.

[1] Nabrit was a key member of the legal team in Brown v. Board of Education and later served two terms as Howard’s president. James Porter was a distinguished artist and professor at Howard. His wife, Dorothy, perhaps my mother’s closest friend, was a world-class librarian and archivist. She started and developed Howard’s Moorland-Spingarn Research Center, which has been described as “the finest collection of black research materials in the world”. My mother, Marjory J. Andrews, was an instructor in Howard’s School of Music.

Mollye Virginia Jackson Williams
April 25, 1911—6 September 6, 2010
Mollye was born in the Allegheny Mountain mining town of Pocahontas, Virginia on 25 April 1911 and died on 6 September 2010 at Judson Park, Bruening Health Center in Cleveland, Ohio. She had been a resident of the Judson Retirement Community since 1997.

Mollye was the ninth child in a family of ten, and the fifth daughter of Robert and Ida Perrow Jackson. Her father worked as a clerk and butcher in Elliott’s General Store, which was privately owned and was in competition with the local (mine owners) company store. Robert’s facility with the Hungarian language enabled Elliott’s to serve the immigrant miners and their families, thus providing a vital edge over the company store.

Mollye began her education in the public schools of Pocahontas and attended high school in Bramwell, West Virginia. In accordance with her parents’ ambition that all of their children attend college, Mollye became the family’s ninth college graduate, finishing West Virginia State College at Institute, W. VA. She later earned a Masters Degree in Business Administration from Columbia University in New York, and a second Masters (of Science) Degree in Special Education from Virginia State University. She was a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority.

Blessed with boundless energy, high spirits, humor, and a generous nature, Mollye loved nothing better than engaging in talk, light-hearted pursuits and mischievous high jinks with family and friends. Yet, most of her adult life was devoted to helping others. As a young girl, fresh out of college in the 1930s, she took a series of teaching positions at ill-equipped one-room schools for Negro children, operated by the State of Virginia in its rural counties. Here, in addition to dedicated teaching, Mollye also raised funds from the community for books and teaching material, often supporting her work with her own meager salary. She became a one-woman civic committee, organizing and conducting small, makeshift “fairs” and bazaars to raise what funds she could. She also solicited donations of old clothes from adults and, using her sewing skills, set about cutting them down and remaking them to fit her children.

Upon her marriage to Rev. John Francis Williams, Mollye enthusiastically added the responsibilities of a Baptist minister’s wife to the demands of her teaching career. Tapping a deep well of kindness and charm, she assumed an active role in church affairs and became a valuable asset to her husband’s ministry as his calling moved them to Wheeling, WV, New Orleans, Newport News, VA, St. Paul, MN, and finally to Cleveland, OH. With each move, Mollye contributed her efforts to the activities of the local community, and continued her work as a tireless educator and organizer. She was a teacher of the deaf in Newport News. Her last position was with the Special Education Department of the public schools of St. Paul, MN.

In spite of her public responsibilities, privately this little dynamo of a woman remained the same girl who had grown up in a kind, close-knit clan, who never failed to come to the aid of a friend or family member in need. Mollye often said that her family “might not have been rich in material things, but was blessed with an abundance of love.” Although she had no children of her own, she took a benevolent interest in the raising of her eight nieces and nephews to whom she was their beloved, fun-loving “Aunt Mollye” of the brilliant dark eyes and the uniquely raucous infectious laugh. A perfectionist in all things, she was a patient but exacting taskmaster to this younger generation.

Raised to be the quintessential southern lady, Mollye maintained a seemingly effortless, yet impressive standard of living throughout her life. As mistress of the various parsonages she and her husband called home, she created attractive, immaculate surroundings, imbued with an atmosphere of style, whimsy, comfort, and ease.

Mollye Williams leaves behind a legacy of fond memories of loving devotion to family and friends, hard work, good deeds, and numerous lives made better for her having touched them.

She is preceded in death by her four brothers, five sisters and her husband of more than fifty years. She is survived by four nieces and nephews: Miss June Morgan of New York City, Clintona Jackson Hare, Esq. of Morristown, NJ, Stanley Jackson, Esq. of Detroit, and Elbert Hendricks, PhD, of Copenhagen, Denmark.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

The Times They Are a-Changin’

Lost among all the political tumult of the last eight or nine months is the re-shaping of the political landscape in the black community. Taking place largely behind the scenes, with only occasional flares to mark the battles and transitions, the torches of black political leadership are being passed to a new generation of leaders coming of age.

A major factor is geriatric. Time has simply taken a toll on the old guard of Lou Stokes, George Forbes, and Arnold Pinkney. While these old lions can still roar, their ability to dominate the field is history. As recently as 2008, in the wake of Obama’s march first to the nomination of a major political party and thence to the presidency, Lou Stokes was able to squash county reform by saying it was bad for black folks. The old trio barked feebly in opposition to Issue 6 but had no bite as black political leadership was rebuffed by black voters in every Cleveland ward.

A second key factor is demographic. Black people are no longer as concentrated in just a few neighborhoods. Greater affluence among the middle class led to choice and mobility. As white people have become gradually more acclimated to having diverse neighbors, black people have begun to populate every municipality in the county, achieving a critical mass in several, and significant political influence in more than a few. The scope of this dispersal is such that several black newcomers to politics were elected this year to Democratic precinct posts from Cleveland’s Westside, an idea that takes some getting used to for black folks born before 1970.

But Cuyahoga County is by no means post-racial in its politics or attitudes but new winds are blowing. But bloc voting by black people has actually been more hype than fact, especially when compared to bloc voting among white people. But, like so much else in America, when people of color exercise power in a fashion similar to how the dominant majority has behaved, it becomes a phenomenon for examination.

Key to the current decline in bloc voting is the absence of a commanding African American candidate at the top of the ticket. With the exception of presidential races or primaries involving Barack Obama or Jesse Jackson, the absence of a strong black candidate running as such has been pretty much the norm since racial pioneer Carl Stokes was re-elected in 1969.

Two black men – Mike White and George Forbes -- faced off in the 1991 mayoral election. Forbes’ campaign tried in vain to diminish White’s racial bona fides, ridiculing him as “white Mike”, but Forbes’s own image was so embedded in raw racial politics that he lacked the credibility and standing to pull off the effort. White ran as the incumbent in subsequent years. And current mayor Frank Jackson has a knack for making race almost disappear as an issue.

These days, racial contentiousness in Cuyahoga almost seems more of an intra-group issue politically. State Senator Nina Turner bucked what passed for the entire black political establishment last year when she became a spokesperson for Issue 6. Stepping up now as significant black voices in the political arena are, among others, East Cleveland mayor Gary Norton and Cleveland ward 7 councilman T. J. Dow. Schooled in retail politics, secure in their respective political bases, and astute at making alliances beyond their own turf, they were instrumental in helping win the Democratic Party county executive endorsement for Ed FitzGerald against a field that included Terri Hamilton Brown, an accomplished black woman but a novice politician.

Norton’s stem-winder of a speech before the party’s executive committee last month followed and totally overshadowed the plea of Congresswoman Marcia Fudge that the party not make an early endorsement. Fudge called Norton out as they exited after the endorsement vote, and in front of many observers, accused him of betraying the interests of the black community.

We will have more to say on this soon but right now we are on our way to interview one of Cleveland’s savviest politicos for her intriguing take on Cuyahoga politics.

NOTE TO OUR READERS: An earlier version of this piece appears in The County Reporter, a new monthly publication that hit the streets this month with a focus on public affairs and the new county government. 25,000 free copies were published and distributed all over the eastern portion of the county, from Euclid south to Oakwood west to Garfield Heights, up and over to Lakewood and east through downtown to Hough, Glenville, and back to Euclid. Check your local Walgreen's or convenience store. TCR can also be found in hundreds of other locations.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Once to Every Chair and Party Comes the Moment to Decide

Barring total revolution instigated by an energetic but unorganized cadre of newly-elected grassroots leaders known as precinct committee people, who would have to be abetted by a heretofore demotivated and enervated hodgepodge of old guard precinct people, Stuart Garson will be elected tonight, possibly by acclamation, to a four year term as chair of the Cuyahoga County Democratic Party.

This will be a good thing for the Party in many ways. First, it ends the Jimmy Dimora era without the made-for-television spectacle of federal agents hauling away the sitting party chief at dawn in pajamas and handcuffs. If this happens in the next seven months he will be described as County Commissioner and former Democratic Party chief. One word can make a big difference in both fact and image.

Second, it speaks to a new era of cooperation between the county and state Democratic organizations. Fact is, the stench of corruption cooked up by a few bad actors and ignored by too many others created a political Imperial Avenue that downstate Democrats avoided like the plague it was. They didn’t know who to talk to up here, or even who was in charge. They certainly had no confidence in who they could safely add to the state ticket. Lee Fisher is on the state ticket only because he went after it and could not be denied.

So CuyDems have avoided the worst-case scenario and can begin to brace themselves for whatever future shock may accompany the ex-party officials known in polite company, bar and barroom circles as Public Official No. 1 and Public Official No. 2.

But the party’s issues are far from resolved. It is easy to conflate official corruption and party problems. The voting public sees the Party as corrupt because its lead officials allegedly committed crimes while in public office. Dimora’s replacement as party chief by an ethical and highly-regarded attorney will eliminate the fact of questionable ethics at party HQ. It does not resolve either the electorate’s perception of how the Party operates or the more fundamental problems that enabled the see-no-evil atmosphere that made Dimora politically invincible.

Garson comes into office with the support of all major party officials. He brings with him a mindset of getting good people to run for office and supporting them in their campaigns. He is acclaimed as a fundraiser and possibly a superior tactician. He can articulate a vision for a better city, county, and region. But he is not a big-picture guy in the sense that he sees the same picture as the electorate.

I speak here of the electorate that rejected the status quo in virtually every quarter by astounding margins. No matter that the landslide vote for Issue 6 was the beneficiary of backroom dealing, GOP chicanery, tons of cash, and some of the most unbalanced journalism since the yellow days of Randolph Hearst a century ago. Cuyahoga voters emphatically said no to the old ways of doing business. "Anything but this!" was the overwhelming public sentiment.

Now what they get in January may be no more to their liking. It will depend in large measure upon what the Democrats offer up and how they are perceived to have done it.

This is Garson’s challenge and possibly his Achilles heel. He must find a way to re-arm a party whose campaign apparatus is far weaker than he realizes. And he must quickly learn how to deal with an environment in which transparency, emotional intelligence and consensus-building are increasingly as vital in an era of independent early voting as “boots on the ground”.

If Garson wants to create a user-friendly county Democratic Party that attracts voters who don’t bleed blue, he will open up the Party to new ideas not after this campaign is over, but simultaneously, starting tonight. He will re-energize the disaffected, encourage the disaffected, and invite in the reformers whose collective energy could propel party candidates to local, county and state success this November. He will do this not by his words, but by his actions. And there will be no better time to start than tonight.

The endorsement calendar and process the Democrats normally follow has fallen victim to larger forces, primarily the abomination of an election schedule that combines a June 24 filing deadline, a September 7 primary and early voting that begins in August. The endorsement process is furthered muddied this year by the Dems quadrennial election of new precinct people who won’t by law be fully organized until nearly September.

The fact that a retiring Executive Committee is scheduled to do the endorsements instead of their successors is Machiavellian only to the extent that GOP strategists secured the September primary date while the Democrats were asleep.

A political party has the right and sometimes the duty to endorse candidates who choose to run under its banner, and to do so at an early enough stage to allow preferred candidates the benefit of the endorsed status they presumably worked for and earned.

But these are perilous and unusual times, politically and otherwise. If Garson were to recommend to the Executive Committee that it support a no-endorsement process in this unprecedented time of transition, and then back his play with an inclusive cabinet comprising new and rising leaders such as Mark Griffin, and an unimpeachable commitment to party reform, he would go a long way towards establishing his credibility with both the rank-and-file who had little choice but to ratify him, and with the independents who will be watching with hawk-like intensity to see if it’s S.O.S., different day.

I wrote last fall that reforming the Democratic Party was more important than reforming the county government [here]. Stuart Garson has the opportunity to prove us all wrong or all right.

Friday, June 04, 2010

Party Chair a Done Deal

Last night’s meeting in Shaker Heights of assorted eastside Democratic clubs and affinity-based caucuses was designed to ratify the selection by county party brass of Stuart Garson as the next chairman and to offer him a platform to articulate his vision of the future of the party. Mission Accomplished. Mostly.

Stuart Garson will be elected chairman of the party when the newly elected precinct leaders convene as the party’s 800-plus central committee on June 16 at John Carroll University. The party’s new crew chief brings an old-fashioned roll up your sleeves and outwork the other fella attitude to the task of electing Democrats and defeating Republicans. He projects a rough-and-tumble attitude that may be borne of his workers’ comp practice.

Garson will bring a strong array of assets to the party, the most obvious being his strong rapport with soon-to-be senior Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown and Congresswoman Marcia Fudge. Gov. Strickland is very much on board with Garson’s designation, as his spokesperson Anne Hill said at last night’s meeting. Garson’s manner exuded self-confidence without suggesting arrogance, and a glimpse of his sense of humor occasionally broke free of his straight-ahead approach.

Last night Garson offered his view of the party. He said there would be a zero-tolerance policy for self-dealing by party leaders. He wants to find, recruit, elect and support the best Democratic candidates for public office.

Garson deplored the stagnant vista from his 16th floor Rockefeller Building office, which he said for 21 years has offered up only surface parking lots on the Public Square. He sees this as representative of a collective community failure to create opportunities for young people in this region. Acknowledging that he has reached the stage of life where he is planting trees under whose shade he will never sit, he acknowledged a personal resonance to the city’s decline: all three of his daughters have moved so far away that he can see them only by flying cross-country. He decried the cost of this brain drain, observing the investment Clevelanders make in raising and educating our young who then spend their productive energies building other communities.

The analysis, both heartfelt and keen, did not mask the new leader’s potential problems with the “vision thing”. He seems not to appreciate the “soft skills” of communication and cultural sensitivity that make for successful people management in today’s complex society. He seems more a Woody Hayes disciple of the “three yards and a cloud of dust” football approach than to the fluid, evolving triangle offense of basketball’s Phil Jackson. Thus, he wants to defer party reform until some future day, without giving much thought to how the top-down, behind closed methodology contributed to the atmosphere in which malfeasance thrived. During the Q & A that followed his prepared remarks, he suggested without a shred of hubris that the party’s image had changed, because he was now heir apparent.

Voters, along with many rank-and-file, will more likely demand a transplant in operations instead of a makeover before agreeing to renew a courtship that ended in betrayal.

• • •

Mark Griffin made a concise and eloquent plea for the party to take responsibility for its past mistakes and to take ownership of its future by committing to achieving excellence in all endeavors. He played a difficult hand throughout the process with grace and intelligence and loyalty. What place if any Garson finds for the younger and energetic Griffin will send a clear signal about the substance and style of the Garson administration.

• • •

Michael Jackson, president of the Shaker Heights Dems, did a fine job of running the meeting on a timed agenda. He also deserves kudos for his quiet suggestion to Garson at meeting’s close that the party rank and file want reform and that if Garson seeks to extract a commitment from them to work hard through November, he should offer a reciprocal formal commitment to serious reform.

• • •

One of the brightest lights on the local Democratic landscape this past year has been Michael Ruff’s work with local political parties all across the county. Ruff was director of regional field operations for the Cuyahoga region for the state party. Party executive director Doug Kelly seems to have grossly under-appreciated Ruff’s effectiveness in healing much intra-party discord and tamping down simmering turf battles by reminding folks to keep their eyes on the greater good.

Terri Hamilton Brown wasted no time in outracing the competition for Ruff’s services. He debuted as her campaign manager this past Monday. His countywide contacts are sure to be an important boost to Brown’s field operations.

The kickoff itself was a successful affair, as more than 125 people walked through the door at Massima de Milano’s on West 25 Street, many with checks in hand. Brown, who has never run for political office, has assembled a top-drawer political team that has Burges & Burges for political strategy and the veteran Tom Andrzejewski as media adviser and spokesman.

• • •

A tidbit for the loyal reader who has continued to the end:

Shaker mayor Earl Leiken introduced Garson last night and said that Garson had never run for office. Not exactly. Garson was on the countywide ballot only last November. He came in 28th of 29 candidates for one of 15 seats on the charter review commission. Issue 5 did not win passage and thus the commission was not established.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Psst: Wanna Be Party Chair?

Local Democrats have operated for the last 40+ years with a focus on
1970s issues, a 1950s outlook, and a 1930s ideology. The party leadership
has been provincial, ham-handed, and shortsighted. Conceited but
lacking in self-respect or ambition, they have been content to win
electoral victories based on overwhelming numerical advantage.
Essentially they claimed success that was due largely to demographics.
Since their professional horizons stopped at the county line, it
didn’t occur to them to grow or consolidate their enormous potential political power statewide. Had not their leaders run into legal trouble and public disgrace, there is no telling how long the party’s sorry state would have continued.

A changing of the guard is now underway in the Cuyahoga Democratic
Party, driven by that external force known as a U.S. prosecutor. The
federal investigation appears focused on the public misfeasance of
elected officials, but the public is right to make no distinction
between a party chief and a public official. Both are positions of
public trust. In fact, the public officials known as precinct
committee persons elect the party chiefs in Ohio. Leading Democrats
have finally come to grips with the fact that the head of the party
should not simultaneously be an elected official.

So who will be the new party chair? It’s a pretty thankless job,
apparently, because no one is seeking it openly. The job pays zero if
you are honest. No salaries, no perks. Just thousands of demands from
people who want jobs, favors, endorsements, assistance, advice,
direction, encouragement. You have to raise your budget while enduring slurs, assaults, and subversion, usually but not always coming from the other side. You are kind of like the Daddy of a humongous family with
legions of always hungry and perpetually ill behaved children. Your job is to organize this crew around noble political objectives and win victories that make your community a better place to live. Good luck with that!

So who are the candidates? Well in this corner is a brilliant labor
lawyer who fights by any ethical means necessary to achieve justice
for his injured clients. He’s wealthy and he’s earned it. His friends
see him as compassionate. He raises money for political causes and he
donates money to a variety of candidates, some even outside his party
who hold views contrary to his own. He doesn’t suffer foolishness, which means he has little patience for retail politics. He’s sixty but looks older. You wouldn’t be surprised if he didn’t kiss his own grandchildren. Don’t expect him to be patient with questions from the party faithful, who may work 12 hours at the polls in November rain. Nuance is not his thing.

In the other corner is another brilliant trial lawyer. He’s expert in election law, has a passion for public policy, is open and refreshing,and is so transparently candid in a 21st century kind of way that in the smoky atmosphere of county politics people can’t figure out that he too says what he means. He’s 46, looks younger and probably rolls in the grass with his kids. He comes from a family of respected and honored public servants; his father and grandfather served roughly half a century between them as county trial judges. He was honored with fellow team members as Ohio Democrat of 2009.

The choice only seems clear. The candidate first described — Stuart Garson — doesn’t want the job but is willing to serve because party leaders have importuned him. He knows strong leadership is needed to avoid disaster in this fall’s elections. He wants to put any talk of openness and transparency and reform and communication and party reorganization aside until after the next election cycle or two. His will be a top-down, command and control administration. That’s the way it’s always been in the Party, so why change? Get busy and grind out victories at the polls.

The second candidate — Mark Griffin — wants the job but won't exactly say so, because he is willing to stand aside because if senior party leaders actually have command of their troops, it would be detrimental to the party to have a division over party leadership. His manner and style would clearly be effective in helping the party distance itself from its scandal-ridden image. And he is clearly more appealing to the scores of newly-elected and energetic precinct committee people, but they have yet to be
consulted, courted, or even welcomed into the leadership in any coherent, healthy or affirming manner. And, without a champion to lead them, they may not be organized in time to have any impact before the party chair vote looming on June 16.

Tonight, both the reluctant candidate and the reticent non-candidate
are expected to be at what promises to be a lively evening at the
Stephanie Tubbs Jones Community Building, 3450 Lee Road in Shaker Heights. The fun will start at 7pm. Come early for a ringside seat. Expect jabs, some crosses, perhaps a few uppercuts, and certainly a few haymakers. But be prepared to duck, because most punches are likely to be thrown from the audience.

Friday, May 28, 2010

PART II: New Day [not the Bedford Court clerk] on Horizon for Dems as Election of New Party Chair Nears

I promised a follow up to yesterday’s report on the efforts by Cuyahoga Democrats for Principled Leadership to encourage/support/nudge/shove/drag the county Democratic Party towards a 21st century, Obama-era stance of openness, modernity, and inclusiveness.

Specifically, I indicated I would be reporting on the westside CDPL forum held last night. I am going to do so succinctly, because an analysis of where the Party sits suggests a situation so explosive that more time is demanded. I will endeavor to do that over the weekend. So if you come back Monday I promise something for you to think about around the Memorial Day grill or the muni fireworks, assuming money woes haven’t caused your community to cancel them.

So, without my notes, and thus apologies to any community omitted, here goes: About 65 Democrats showed up at Rocky River Civic Center. No city had a large contingent, but almost every westside municipality was represented, including Rocky River, Parma, Bay Village, Westlake, Old Brooklyn, Cleveland Ward 16, Strongsville, North Olmsted, and Broadview Heights. East Cleveland and Shaker Heights were also in the house. Most attendees raised their hands when asked how many were newly elected precinct committee people.

All likely candidates for Party Chair were invited to attend and offer remarks. Only Mark Griffin accepted. A letter from John Ryan, a senior aide to Senator Sherrod Brown, D-OH to co-convener Jan Roller was read, indicating that Ryan could not attend, and was deferring any interest in becoming party chair and endorsing Stuart Garson for the position.

Griffin declined to say specifically, “I want to be Party Chair.” Instead he repeated his remarks from the previous evening, saying that he was “a candidate for change,” that Stuart Garson was a fine fellow who had the votes, that the Party needed major changes, and that he wanted to play a significant role in bringing about that change.

Griffin did say that he was interested in being a vice chair or some other major position of leadership. He emphasized that he did not want to be divisive candidate in any way that would hinder the Party in the critically important fall county and statewide elections.

Translation: Griffin wants the job but sees that the Party hierarchy prefers Garson. So he is willing to support and work with Garson for the good of the Party.

This wasn’t good enough for those in attendance. Some were clearly ready to throw their support behind Griffin’s reserved candidacy, but most wanted the standard “I’m running and I’m here to ask for your support.”

But disenchantment for Griffin’s nuanced non-declarative statement of readiness was mild compared to the anger directed towards party brass and presumed designee Garson. Few in the meeting had ever heard of him, almost everyone who spoke expressed concern about the high-handed manner of his anointment as preferred candidate, and the feeling was virtually unanimous that the Party has performed abysmally in failing to communicate with the newly elected committeepersons about process, scheduling, responsibilities, or anything else.

When Chuck Germana of Parma rose to put in a kind word for Garson, he began by acknowledging that he too, was “disappointed that he is not here”. But when he tried to suggest that Garson would be a concerned and effective party chair, Germana was practically hooted into silence, one woman angrily proclaiming that “if Garson gave a damn about what we thought, his butt would be here tonight!”

Long story short, the precinct committee members present wanted answers that no one present could provide, and by the end of the evening people were talking about strategies that could be employed to make their displeasure known, and perhaps to change what some may have only recently thought would be a pre-ordained conclusion.

Come back Monday! Have a great weekend!!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

New Day [not the Bedford Court clerk] on Horizon for Dems as Election of New Party Chair Nears

The sun doesn’t rise in the east but it dawned there last night. In Cleveland Heights. That’s where a surprisingly large and energetic rainbow of party regulars gathered publicly for the first time to envision a new era for the Cuyahoga County Democratic Party. A spirited crowd of more than 125 came together on the initiative of a small band of concerned party members who refer to themselves as CDPL, short for Cuyahoga Democrats for Principled Leadership. They have been quietly meeting around the county for several months — mostly in midtown, Lakewood, or Euclid — talking, analyzing, organizing, and acting for several months with the goal of achieving what came into view last night: the potential for not just a new party chairman, but a rejuvenated, holistic, more effective political organization.

The purpose of this week’s public meetings — a second will be held tonight in Rocky River’s Civic Center — is to foster party revitalization in light of the upcoming meeting to elect the new party chair on June 5th. Ohio law provides that every four years each of the major parties elect members of a central committee by precinct. There are 1068 precincts in the county, which means there were 1068 separate races for committee positions, albeit not all were contested. (A county board of elections spokesman said that to keep the ballot at manageable length, Republicans elect their central committee on a different four-year cycle; their most recent precinct level election was last year.)

Precinct committee people, as they are also known, may be thought of as second lieutenants, an army’s lowest ranking commissioned officers. They are supposed to know their local political terrain, to recruit new party members, to serve as two-way channels between the party brass and the privates, the latter a hopefully informed citizenry of regular party voters. A dynamic and effective precinct leader will organize his or her constituency via neighborhood, street, and block clubs, etc. to pass the word, get out the vote, know the pulse of the man on the street, and just be in the know about all things political in their territory.

It’s a 19th century form of urban political organization by proximity. At its essence it is rooted in personal contact and interaction. In an era of too much to do in too little time, at a time when so many have so much anxiety over having too little money to meet so many responsibilities, this grass-roots system had become too attenuated in the Democratic Party to be any relevance. The party itself had calcified at the top by too large a sense of entitlement, too much parochialism, and with no mechanism and even less desire for self-examination.

That is why, by the way, the Obama campaign essentially bypassed the clogged arteries of the Democratic Party, set up a parallel organization along the same lines outlined two paragraphs above, and delivered victory margins that the bloated party apparatus has not delivered in a generation of election cycles.

Pssst! The President of the United States was once a community organizer.

Some of those folks who came to Cleveland to work the 2008 political campaign, as well as some 2004 Kerry people, found enough to like about our little city with the big lake to put down roots. A few of them were instrumental in finding enough local Democrats with sufficient pulse, conscience, and sense of personal agency to begin planning for a renewed party based on principle and not personal power.

That first meeting was a tentative after-work gathering of nineteen at Café Ah-Roma across from Cleveland State. It was full of bewilderment, idealism, and excessive legalism. Lawyers are lousy at revolution planning. By the time of the next gathering, at 7:30 a.m. on a sunny day in December, a more veteran and politically astute cast of fifty or sixty had been assembled. That meeting birthed the group’s name — CDPL— and began to stitch the core of those who with some sense of constancy would keep the group more or less focused on the task at hand: getting the public Party to clean up after the private party of Public Officials Numbered You Know Who and Him Too.

Fast forward to last night. The Cleveland Heights forum was not a civics class. The invited were the newly elected precinct people, and many showed. They came from Euclid, Pepper Pike, Hough, Collinwood, Shaker, and even from as far as Bay Village. They introduced themselves and then listened to co-convener Jan Roller outline the Party constitution [soon to be online here], and talk about key party process and central committee member duties. Then came highlights and firecrackers.

All six potential candidates who whose names were bruited about as in the mix for party chair were invited by letter to the forum, either to state a case for their candidacy, to say why they had chosen not to compete, and also to share their vision for what the Party should be. Additionally, each was called and if not reached, called again.

Of the six, it appeared only Mark Griffin would show. The trial lawyer came prepared. He didn’t say he was running but he certainly presented himself as the eligible bachelor, capable and ready. He was idealistic, he was earnest, and he was practical. He would be a new face and a strong and clear voice for the Party. He would love to be selected because he relishes both the challenge and the opportunity, though he didn’t say so. Not in words.

Questions and complaints began before Griffin could finish. These are Democrats, and orderly meetings are often but rumor. Most of the complaints had to do with alleged Party rules, excessive favoritism of incumbents, the rejection of new blood and new ideas, and most especially, the failure of rumored frontrunner Stuart Garson to show up.

We skimp on the details here so as not to deprive tonight’s meeting of its anticipated freshness. Suffice to say, the surprise of the evening was the arrival of said Stuart Garson at 8:25 p.m., five minutes before the scheduled closing. He was as blunt as a rifle butt.

Part II of this report will appear tomorrow, after tonight’s meeting in Rocky River. I don't want to spoil the fun for west side Dems who will show up tonight…

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Cavaliers Win: LeBron Leaves or Stays; Cavaliers Lose: LeBron Stays or Leaves; Cleveland: We Have Problems

I take a back seat to no one in my detestation of all Boston sports teams. I went away to high school within shouting distance of Boston, and I learned to detest the smug arrogance of the Celtics as personified by their radio announcer, Johnny Most. As a young black person coming of age, I resented how Celtic success was undergirded by Bill Russell, Satch Sanders, and the Jones boys,Sam & K.C., -- all of whom were black -- but Bostonians’ love of their team was centered on Bob Cousy, Bill Sharman, Frank Ramsey, and Tommy Heinsohn – all white. I also couldn’t help but notice that the Red Sox were all white, the last Major League baseball team to integrate. They stunk, so that was o.k.

Cleveland’s major teams, on the other hand, were both uniformly good and thoroughly integrated during the time my attachments were formed. Marion Motley, Bill Willis and Dave Pope lived in my neighborhood. Our little league teams were named for Luke Easter, Larry Doby. Life would have been heavenly but for those damn Yankees. Elston Howard couldn’t even redeem them.

Don’t misunderstand, it wasn’t all about color: in fact, it was mostly about excellence. I loved Bob Lemon, Al Rosen, Vic Wertz, Otto Graham, Dante Lavelli, Lou the Toe, the whole lot of them. But those Cleveland teams were inclusive, and that was an essential ingredient of their excellence.

Away from the field or diamond we are far from a post-racial society, and not likely to get there for a long time. In the arena, however, is where we are perhaps closest: we all pretty much like winners and admire talent. There is no Cavs fan of any stripe or hue who wouldn’t want Nowitzki the German Maverick, Gasol the Spanish Laker, or Parker, the French Spur. And we all appreciate our own Lithuanian Z, even as we in the moment denounce the Mississippian Williams and Brown the peripatetic coach [army brat].

But back to Boston and the matter at hand: the Cavs, surprisingly, face elimination tonight against the Celtics. More incredibly, even given our history of sports disappointments, Greater Cleveland is already resigned to both defeat and departure, the latter of course a reference to the impending free agent loss of the world’s best player, LeBron James.

Losing to the Celtics would be terrible for me personally. I have two stepsons who live in Boston. Neal -- the handsome, generous, bright, lovable one -- is a staunch Cavs fan; his favorite player is Delonte West. Neal’s brother? Well, I love him too, but he has a really annoying habit of calling me up and gloating whenever his Bosox, Patriots, or Celts vanquish our local heroes. And their mother, my wife — a casual observer of sport but an acute observer of life — will always pontificate after the fact on the cruel psychological burden Cleveland sports teams carry for the entire region’s inferiority complex.

In 1964 I shivered in youthful joy in the upper deck of Memorial Stadium with my father and brother on that gloriously frigid day when the Browns shut out the Baltimore Colts, the last time a Cleveland team was world-best in a major sport. There was no shortage of heroes that day: Gary Collins, Jim Brown, Frank Ryan, the offensive line, the entire defense.

Cleveland was a major American city in 1964. We aren’t anymore, though we remain lead dog in a major region. Since then, our educational production has declined along with our population, our industrial output and our political muscle. Yet in the midst of our reversible decline, our biggest civic fear seems to be LeBron’s inevitable, imminent departure.

I want the Cavs to win, for personal and civic reasons, including enormous bragging rights. But if they lose, tonight, or Sunday, or to Orlando, or to Phoenix [more relatives] or Los Angeles, and Lebron leaves, it won’t be nearly as catastrophic as if we can’t find a way to get the Cleveland school administration and the union to collaborate on how best to educate our children, or if the world’s best medical institutions can’t find ways to arrest our third-world infant mortality rates, or if we can’t find ways to overcome our regional parochialism, or weave all of our citizens into a plan to restore our economy.

One Lap Down, Three to Go in Race to November

Last week’s primary election marked the quarter-pole of the critical 2010 political season. The major political parties settled on their statewide tickets, while on the county level, several candidates for county executive popped through the starting gate and began running. Also, nearly a hundred people — an intriguing mix political novices, veterans, and perennial also-rans — have pulled and in some cases have filed petitions for the new eleven member county council to be elected this fall.

The second quarter — the next six weeks until the June 24 filing deadline to run in the September partisan primaries for county executive and county council — would be a fairly quiet time of candidate maneuvering and alliance building were it not for the end of the Jimmy Dimora reign as Democratic Party chair. The party’s central committee is scheduled to elect a new chair on June 5. Dimora, who has been under the cloud of a federal investigation for nearly two years, long ago made clear that he would not seek to retain the post he has held since 1993.

Intra-party politics in the past have usually resulted in a closed-door selection process of the party chair. A small but influential group of party faithful, calling themselves Cuyahoga Democrats for Principled Leadership* [CD4PL] is making plans for two forums on May 25 [Cleveland Heights] and May 27 [Rocky River] for candidates for party chair to state the case for their election.

The names most commonly bandied about include longtime party insiders Tom Day, clerk of the Bedford Heights Municipal Court, and Rudy Stralka, currently serving as party treasurer. But it appears that senior party officials, including Rep. Marcia Fudge, county prosecutor Bill Mason, and Cleveland mayor Frank Jackson have decided to support attorney Stuart Garson and commission him to restore integrity to party process, rebuild infrastructure, and unify Democrats for what will be a challenging election season. Assuming Garson becomes chair, he will face stern early tests: a county primary in September and the general election in November.

One key to watch: whether Garson steps forward to attend the CDPL forums later this month.

Grits ain't Gravy [Miscellaneous Political Notes]

Last week also offered a possible preview of what may be a new future for the county Democratic Party, which is sorely need of a new young leadership cadre. We refer to the kick-off party for Phil Robinson’s campaign for the District 11 county council seat. Robinson is a bright, young, articulate aspiring public servant who in his first try for public office just missed winning a seat on the University Heights City Council last year. These sorts of events are usually attended by one’s oldest and closest friends, so the ethnic, religious and geographic diversity — to name but a few measures — of his kickoff crowd was notable insofar as it suggests his appeal might carry across municipal boundaries stretching from Euclid to Beachwood.

Speaking just before the candidate was State Senator Nina Turner, who encouraged Robinson for the new county council. Turner was the leading black public official to support the change in county government. Also in attendance was Julian Rogers, like Robinson a progressive political activist and African American male seeking a county council seat and enjoying Turner’s support. Rogers is running for the District 10 seat that covers Cleveland wards 10 & 11, Cleveland Heights, East Cleveland, and Bratenahl.

Two candidates for the county council District 2 seat — State Senator Dale Miller and independent Stephanie Morales — also found their way east to be at the kickoff.

*Disclosure: I am an active member of this group, whose statement of principles may be found on their website: (

Monday, April 26, 2010

Speak Now Against the Day [apologies to William Faulkner]: an open letter to the Plain Dealer editor

Dear Ms Goldberg,

I want to thank you for collecting and posting all of the comments on your website allegedly entered by some person or persons logged into a Justice Center computer assigned to Judge Saffold's courtroom. I read every one of the comments and was absolutely riveted by the breadth of the subjects covered, the writer[s]’s audacity, tendentiousness, lack of charity and general ignorance. After reading them I was convinced that no jurist could have authored most of those entries because of their generally puerile nature and their grammar school spelling. But that aside, I am writing you for a different reason.

I am a faithful reader of your print product, one of a vanishing breed, I fear. I am an addicted Cleveland sports fan, and have been since the days of Otto Graham, Bill Willis and Marion Motley; Bob Lemon, Larry Doby and Luke Easter. For some time now I have felt assaulted by your sportswriters. They have offended me to the point where a few months ago I start cataloging their assaults just to have some proof should I ever explode and need to defend myself.

I have nonetheless been reluctant to write about it for several reasons. I know you and your publisher have so many more serious challenges to deal with. And our community, which your paper covers with increasing superficiality, also has many more serious issues than today’s lament.

But then I was reading an online book review in which the reviewer called his subject “the worst-edited book put out by a reputable publisher that I have ever read.” The reason for this, he concluded, was that the book had a defined but limited audience, and “using a competent editor to correct [the many] grammatical errors and malapropisms” was not fiscally beneficial. Ergo, the publisher dissed the readership. And that made me decide to write this letter.

I prefer to think that, unlike that book publisher, you respect your readers but that as a California transplant, you just don’t read about your adopted city’s sports. So I conclude that you have not seen these egregious examples of the sloppy and/or ignorant writing that occurs almost daily in Section D:

Brian Windhorst

There’s plenty of other reasons, but that rational right there is one of the reasons for the impasse.

He already has been out a month and will miss significant more time.

“Also well known, however, was how his competitive drive carried over off the court. Whether it was trying to hit a baseball or his gambling habits, be it at casinos or on the golf course.

The Cavs were handed another defeat Wednesday night in a game they were thoroughly outplayed.

Doug Lesmerises

Though road teams can easily whither, the momentum can be easily swung the opposite way by tough-minded teams.

Paul Hoynes

Could have Peralta have paid a little more attention to the sirens going off around him? …

Bud Shaw


Mary Kay Cabot

feint of heart”

good for both he and linebacker”

Who’s for whose and it’s for its appear almost as frequently as team logos:

ü “It’s running game struggled most of the night.”

ü “Hafner’s contract … carries it’s own kind of weight.”

ü “Duke is playing in its 15th Final Four, it’s 11th under Krzyzewski, …”

I am sure you agree that most of these are sore thumb errors to any competent editor. Your sports section lists five editors. Do the editors not read the copy either before it goes to press or after it appears in print? [Maybe you could reassign Kevin O’Brien here and solve two problems at once!]

What amazes me about this is that Sports is probably the best-read section of your paper. It has more stories and with more pages than the Metro, Business, or Arts & Living sections. Judging by the volume of online comments on major stories regarding the Browns, Cavs, and Indians, your sports readers are the paper’s most devoted.

The problem is becoming contagious, by the way, migrating to writing that appears only online. It also seems to have affected virtually every sportswriter except Bill Livingston [who seems to find a locution he likes and then write a whole column just so he can use it], and the indefatigable Terry Pluto, your most incisive sports and faith reporter. Tony Grossi, Elton Alexander and Mary Schmitt are pretty good, also. But even good writers can in haste drop a letter or misspell a word, and their typos go uncorrected.

The last time I called a problem to your attention — the conscious failure to mention a major candidate for an important race [here]— you addressed it online within four hours and in print the next day. It may take a little longer to correct this problem, but I am sure you will get it handled.

After all, neither you nor I want to see a headline on that glorious June day that says

“Cavs When NBA Tittle!!!”


Richard T. Andrews

Friday, April 23, 2010

11th District Caucus forum: Spring Training for County Exec Candidates

Last Saturday the Eleventh Congressional District Caucus held a forum for the declared county executive candidates who will be running in the September 7 primary. The timing was a little out of kilter because of the heated battles going on in several local Democratic primaries, not to mention the heated statewide battle for the Democratic nomination to succeed retiring US Senator George Voinovich.

Nonetheless, the forum was a good opportunity for the county executive candidates to try out their campaign themes on a politically sophisticated audience. Nearly 200 people were in attendance at the forum in the new John Adams High School on Cleveland’s east side. The candidates — Opportunity Corridor director Terri Hamilton Brown; former state representative Matt Dolan; Lakewood mayor Ed FitzGerald, and South Euclid mayor Georgine Welo — each offered an opening statement and then answered questions prepared by the moderator, county recorder Lillian Greene, or written down and collected from the audience.

Dolan’s participation must have surprised many in attendance, and was certainly news to some in the party hierarchy. The caucus has come to be widely but inaccurately perceived as being a Democratic Party affiliate. Its leader, Congresswoman Marcia Fudge, D-11, has overseen the organization’s transformation from a strictly political organization to a non-profit, nonpartisan corporation. As such, the Republican Dolan was invited on the same basis as the others, and was in fact able to establish a connection with many in the audience.

Dolan told the crowd that the chief executive needed to set the vision for the new county government and council. He touted his bi-partisan bona fides and promised to use the position as a bully pulpit for public education. He came across as somewhat paternalistic when he talked about helping the new county council to see a broader vision.

FitzGerald stressed restoring integrity to county government and spoke of his experience as Lakewood mayor in managing a $100 million budget. He spoke optimistically of establishing a collegial relationship with the new council and indicated that a FitzGerald administration would emphasize human services along with jobs and growth.

Welo, styling herself as “the people’s candidate”, made it clear that a Welo administration would focus on the core issues of health, safety, and welfare. Her manner was direct and unvarnished as she strove to project a straight-ahead, commonsense, can-do approach.

The forum was probably most beneficial to Brown, who likely possesses the best resume as a professional manager but is a political novice as a candidate. She had difficulty in keeping her answers to a manageable length, and also struggled to find a natural, conversational tone. She is clearly more comfortable in a board room than on the stump, and whatever notion she had of making an easy transition to the microphone was quickly dispelled. To her credit, she acknowledged the challenge and her promise to meet it seemed to draw warm sympathy from the crowd. Brown also connected by tracing her Lee-Harvard upbringing.

Dolan likely has a clear path through the September Republican primary to the general election in November. Brown, FitzGerald and Welo will compete in the Democratic primary. The filing deadline for both primaries is June 24. Those who win the party primaries will be facing one and probably two additional major candidates. Conservative businessman Ken Lanci is running already as an independent, and rumors are rife that maverick Democrat and former county commissioner Tim McCormack will also run as an independent.

Four candidates in the general election, each reasonably well-financed and with a well-defined political base, means the first Cuyahoga County chief executive could be elected with as little as 30% of the vote in November.
• • •

Grits ain't Gravy
[Miscellaneous Political Notes]

The caucus meeting offered some interesting side stories:
• Congresswoman Fudge, for instance, unlike many office holders, was content to make some brief remarks and then sit down without trying to dominate the proceedings.
Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner, running for the US Senate, arrived with her campaign team, made some concise remarks, and sat attentively throughout the meeting.
• A campaign tracker, said to be an operative of her primary opponent, Lt. General Lee Fisher, kept a camera focused on Brunner the entire time.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Brunner the Best for Ohio Democrats

Democratic voters have an excellent chance this fall to send a strong new voice to Washington as Ohio’s next U. S. senator. Almost from the day George Voinovich announced in January 2009 that he would retire at the end of his term this year, it was clear that Democrats would be choosing their nominee between two of their best state officials, Lt. Governor Lee Fisher and Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner.

The last 15 months of head-to-head political campaigning have made two things clear: Jennifer Brunner would be a stronger Democratic standard bearer against the Republican nominee in November, and Jennifer Brunner would be a stronger US Senator for Ohio and the nation.

When voters are faced with two strong and capable candidates who hold roughly similar political views, who to vote for becomes less a matter of policy positions and more a question of character and style. This is perhaps especially true when the electoral prize is one of just a hundred seats in the US Senate, often referred to as “the world’s most exclusive club”.

Ohio’s Democratic leaders seem to have had that paradigm of exclusivity in mind as they fell into near lockstep behind Fisher. For Gov. Strickland on down through the party apparatus of Democratic state legislators, county party chairs and the rest of the old guard party hierarchy, Fisher has been the sanctioned choice.

That he would serve capably there is really no doubt. He is an experienced legislator and was a very good Ohio attorney general. He is a well-seasoned politician who would fit easily in the Senate. He is a prolific fundraiser, but is a two-edged sword. The ability to put big-time contributors at ease seems to make even the best-intentioned politicians less like public servants and more like leaders who follow lobbyists. In the wake of the recent abominable Citizens United decision by the US Supreme Court that seems to encourage unprecedented corporate intrusion into the electoral process, this is likely to be an even larger problem.

Brunner is much less likely to be a handmaiden to the corporate interests that dominate the club. For starters, she hasn’t been a career politician, having been in public office only since 2000, when she ran successfully for common pleas judge in Franklin County. Two years later, she was re-elected, serving about six years before resigning to run statewide for Secretary of State.

Notwithstanding her relative freshness as a public official, Brunner, 53, possesses considerable political savvy. She worked four years for Sherrod Brown in the mid-eighties when the latter was Ohio’s Secretary of State. Additionally, she represented many elected officials during her private practice on issues involving election law and campaign finance. She was an innovative judge in Franklin County, not from the standpoint of being an “activist” judge, but as a jurist who sought to improve the system by working with her colleagues. We think she can help President Obama do the same in Washington.

My direct observations of Brunner in different settings — as public official and on the campaign trail — suggest that she is a thoughtful and committed public servant, both open and approachable. She gets the idea of servant leadership. She acts from a strong and secure principled base, with more quiet tenacity and much less bombast than most politicians. What you see in public is likely what you will get in private.

Probably no place is that attribute more significant — and rare — than in the US Senate. Our local daily, in its weakly-supported endorsement of Fisher, suggested that he was more likely to get along in the clubby Senate than she. No doubt. But it’s not clear why that was a virtue.

Ohio has never sent a woman to the US Senate, where women are outnumbered by worse than four-to-one. And it should be noted that among GOP senators, it is the women senators from Maine who are the least doctrinaire and partisan. As the junior US senator, we think Brunner would be inside the room, but more likely than most to insist that the door be open for the public interest.

All the Democratic bigwigs are behind Lee Fisher in this race. That Brunner has neither bent, buckled nor broken in the face of the behind-the-scenes bullying is telling. She has stayed the course in the race, connected with voters in large settings and small, campaigning with a quiet ease and grace that have been impressive.

While some who have worked with her express concern about her administrative skills, she has run an impressive and imaginative campaign with far fewer resources than her opponent. She is clearly but quietly a formidable candidate. If she wins the nomination, she will have an outstanding to chance to win in November and become an equally formidable Senator for progressive issues.

Democrats who have yet to cast their primary votes should put Brunner at the top of the ticket. President Obama told us during the campaign that he could not bring change by himself. Nominating Jennifer Brunner as Ohio’s Democratic candidate for Senator would signal change about the role of money in campaigns, and address the concerns of many local Democrats about fostering a more open and transparent party process.

Party rank-and-filers: if you want to feel better about your party and your choice -- both in November and for the next six years – vote for Brunner.

• • •