I don’t know what Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner listens to in her car or at any other time, but strains of Tom Petty’s I Won’t Back Down ran through my head as I wrote up my notes from her semi-impromptu press conference last week at the City Club of Cleveland. Ohio Republican Party Chair Bob Bennett’s Tom Petty tune would probably be more like Don’t Come Around Here No More, except I’m fairly confident that it’s going to be him who won’t be coming around here no more, and there seem to be no shortage of folks who are just fine with that (hey, that’s a pretty impressive array of Ohio’s NEO political pundits asking for Bennett to do the right thing).
Other reviews of her press conference:
I’d gone downtown to be interviewed for a magazine spread on women bloggers to be published in the regional women’s freebie, Epitome. The interviewer took me to The City Club for lunch but when we walked to the lobby, I saw Anastasia Pantsios and Ed Monroe, now with the SOS’s office. I asked them what they were doing there but they assumed I was there for the SOS – she was going to be having lunch with a group and then, at 1:15, according to Ed, have a press conference. I asked if I could go back and say hi and although it seemed like maybe I could, I had the interviewer with me and it was a little chaotic so I just went and had lunch.
By the end of my lunch, the lobby was full of newsies – Tom Beres, people from ONN, people I recognize but didn’t know by name, and eventually Mark Naymik – whom I first saw as he was walking away from the room in which Brunner had had her lunch.
After lunch, the interviewer went with me to get my coat and then he departed. Deciding that I had time for the press conference, I wandered down the hallway behind the main luncheon room for City Club presentations, thinking that there’d be a restroom there somewhere, but there wasn’t. Instead, as I lingered, Jerid Kurtz of Buckeye State Blog walked out of the luncheon room and came down the hall. We chatted for a bit and it turned out that the luncheon wasn’t Brunner – it was someone on international law – or something, and Jerid just happened to be there for that I think.
So we walked together back to the lobby and eventually, while hanging out, talking, trying to figure out what was going on, Ed Monroe took us and walked us back to the room in which Brunner had had lunch – when we were walking that way is when Mark Naymik passed us.
Jerid didn’t know Ed so I introduced them (or at least they’d never met in person) and we walked into the room. Immediately I saw a woman named Pat who had been at the WHYS program, sitting next to my son, the very day before – barely 24 hours earlier. I’d never before met or heard of or seen this woman, and yet here she was again. It seemed most unusual to say the least.
So, the City Club folks and the handlers were trying to figure out what was going on and as Brunner’s people introduced themselves to me and told me how they read and loved my blog (love that flattery), I remember hearing someone come in and say, “So what is going on – is she giving the conference in here, outside, what?”
The tables were cleared out or to the side while I stood talking with Patrick Galloway (Director of Communications for the SOS), Ed, this woman Pat and I don’t remember who else – Jerid of course. And the news folks started to stream in. Soon, Jennifer came over and we had a very warm hug. I told her that she had a lot of support and someone next to me said to her, something like, “You’ve got a lot of problems on your hands,” and Brunner said with a smile and a tip of her head, “Well, that’s what I’m here for.” This woman was so composed.
While Jerid and I stood around, waiting for the conference to begin, he said something to me about racing me back for the first post and I just laughed and smiled, saying that I was sure he’d beat me, knowing that I would leave the conference, drive back to the East Side, go to the grocery store, go to my daughter’s school, pick her up, pick up my oldest at home, take her to a tutor, take him to cantor class, then drive home for 15 mins and then go and get my youngest child at his school, be home for an hour and then go back and pick up my son and daughter from religious school, go home and cook and get them to do their homework, their music practicing and get. To. Bed.
Race to post? Not gonna happen.
But after I said that I was sure he’d beat me, Jerid told me something that kind of made my day, if it’s to be believed: he said that I’m very hard to keep up with. That he’s even asked Russell Hughlock, how do you – how do I – keep up with Jill. And Jerid’s re-telling to me of Russell’s response? Jerid said that Russell just laughed, as in a laugh that says, “Ha! Good luck. Don’t even try.”
THAT was perhaps the best communication I had with anyone that entire day. Maybe even week.
And then the conference began. Here are the questions from various media and answers from SOS Jennifer Brunner, as transcribed by yours truly. Any clarifications you want on what’s below, ask me.
Q: What’s your message to the BOE employees?
A: “Sos is geared to support BOE will be there to support Jane Platten” – difficult time in history of elections; Shakes them up with co-workers being convicted; Wants them to feel safe and secure
Q: Why did you ask for resignations?
A: issue of accountability, historically so; some was better but it’s time for there to be an overall change
Q: Was it the last str
A: Can’t say; when this occurred in the interest of public perception there needed to be accountability
Q: since they don’t seem amenable, need to get ready for elections, there’s this big cloud [constant invocation of big cloud; none of the questions was that unique or different in angle or language]
A: Will file complaint with notice of hearing; AG represents SOS, hearing officer will have three days to do report; intention is to remove; political parties will have 15 days to convene and appoint; SOS accepts; if rejects, parties can do mandamus; outcome is very clear; law says I can summarily remove
Q: What’s the constitution say?
A: Brunner cites precedence for being to do it this way
Q: Public perception – how concerned are you with persistence of “black cloud”
A: voters are tired of difficulties
[importance of language – you know, so long as press is going to use black cloud, it’s going to be her job to blow it away; she might as well use language to her advantage too re: voters voters voters, perception perception perception]
Ohio 2006 is cited, don’t want voters of this county to be subjected to that
Q: Is this a unilateral decision?
A: I made it on my own and had called no one in advance – then called chairs of the parties (after calling the individuals); not a political decision; done to carry out my role
Q: What’s your message to Bob Bennett?
A: He is entitled to do what he wants. He’s an attorney he knows the law, he knows I can remove him.
Q: Are they doing a disservice by staying on?
A: If they care, they would go; administrative oversight has not improved
Q: Did two convictions under their watch convince you?
A: It’s good and sufficient cause; she makes analogy: if secretary of Defense based upon Walter Reed and dismissed head of army I’m not out of line
Q: How involved will you be?
A: Goal is to assist this board
Q: What needs to be different?
A: Not just this board, but director and deputy director – election experience must be weighted twice as heavily as any other experience – management and election experience is necessary I’ve asked them to bring me their best
Q: How soon should we see?
A: Depends on decision of BOE members – sooner, if not, could be 3-4 wks
Q: what about primary election
A: Jane Platten is very experienced and overseen poll training
Now, if you’d been there, or if you read all this, and then you read the media reports, what would you think? How good are these questions that were asked? How good were her answers? What more would you want to know – is it different when you’re asking questions for an audience, a specific audience, versus yourself – being a curious voter wanting to share what you’ve learned?
Because that’s what I find to be the key difference between how MSM folks ask questions and write up what they heard versus citizen journalists or bloggers like myself. We hear the same thing but somehow, it just does not end up being offered to the rest of the public the same way.
Also – since I have no editor and it’s past my bedtime, I’m not going back to put in all the periods etc. I’ll try to clean it up tomorrow. But I don’t think that punctuation will change the content this time around.