Friday, March 2, 2007

And what about the sentencing of the two women convicted of felonious election actions ?

I just got an email inquring:
Hello All: I have been eagerly anticipating the
sentencing of Ohio BOE workers convicted of
manipulating the 2004 election outcome. Has anyone
heard anything yet? Have these people been sentenced
to jail time? Please advise.
Here was my reply that I thought might be of interest to more:
The sentencing of Jaqui Maiden and Kathy Dreamer was originally scheduled for 2-26. The defense, however filed a motion for a continuance of the sentencing hearing.
It was granted for March 13. (Oddly, the way I, in Cleveland, had to find out about the delayed hearing, was from tireless Kathleen Wynne, formerly of BlackBoxVoting, now living in Texas, and who was a lead testifier for the prosecution.)

So no, they have not been sentenced yet. (They have however, been assigned a probation officer to whom I assume they must report.)

However, happening concurrently in that regard are:
1. The defense has also filed two motions for a new trial - apparently for two different reasons (which I don't know clearly) - as almost a rote route to the next step which is going to the court of appeals. An appeal has been stated as certainty, if those motions for new trial don't work. I highly doubt that the former will be granted, since a throw out of trial was attempted before the last one ended. Those attempts were summarily denied by Judge Corrigan before. Still with no good reason for throwing the last one out, I still don't see him granting a new trial now.

So after he denies the motions, it's on to the court of appeals - I'm guessing still without prison sentence.

2. Also on Feb.5 the Cuyahoga board announced that they had just adopted "a new policy" regarding payment of managers/employees who leave under "extraordinary circumstances". ( I call it "hush money" ( ...alas, still paid for by taxpayers.))

You see, the board's OWN culpability, knowledge, and responsibility, along with the Director's and Deputy Director's ( the latter two both just resigned and leaving) in the fraudulent '04 recount actions have NEVER been publicly explored - and in fact has been skirted - to a bizarre degree.
ie. Who above those women could have told those non-decision making managers told them to do what they did and/or allowed them to do it with full knowledge of the felonious events. ( It appears pretty clear from testimony at trial, the staff makeup of the CCBOE, the layout of the building, history, and statements made even before the trial, that superiors seemed to have full knowledge of what was being done - and in fact there were at least 5 more BOE employees in the room helping. )

The WHO IS REALLY RESPONSIBLE FOR the fraud on the electorate - who could do it all over again thinking they can get away with it with no consequences - is the REAL question - and has been all along, though it's been unasked and thus unanswered, even all during the trial. It seems that the major thing women could be guilty of is "lying" and protecting them.

The not asking out loud, the women risking jail to continue the culture of cover up and protection, (maybe believing that this too could be made to just "go away" as so much else is in the corrupt political dynamic of Cuyahoga politics) is what made the whole trial so bizarre - so obviously off point, and made all the other straws at which the defense grasped look so ridiculous.

The prosecutor had even promised the women immunity before the trial if they would tell, and has said that even now he is willing to "talk to them". But the people who might possibly be implicated - are some on the board - like Bob Bennett, the powerful head of the Ohio GOP - so there's some powerful protection to be kept. (And it really doesn't even seem as if the women were paying for their own defense...ahem.)

So right now, Maiden under the CCBOE"brand new policy" is to get paid for all of her overtime and vacation pay, instead of just let go with no payment - to the tune of over $27,000 ...of taxpayer money - more than many taxpayers make in a year. That's one heck of alot of vacation time. (I've just asked for the supporting docs.)
Dreamer, lower in position, is getting over $8K.

Also most people's understanding was that the women were fired and off the BOE payroll as of 1/24 (because of election law and the felony convictions) - the day of conviction. They were however, still on the payroll as of Feb 5 - though not working.

Also, now as the Director has resigned, and the Deputy, they are being retained as "consultants" for some months.... getting somewhere around $40,000 each for a few months of "consultancy"- also of taxpayer money. (Though they could be implicated in the recount felonies, they seemingly also have the leverage of ability to implicate more. It appears that they too need to be kept "happy".)

So that is the current state of affairs from the convictions.

As was just noted on the Case-OH list there was an article published on January 24 in the Cleveland Free Times about the trial, "House of Ballot Cards" That article was way off base in many many ways - and for reasons I can only conjecture, but will not do that here.

For a fuller understanding please also read my reply to that article, "Ballot Boxed" published in the FreeTimes on 2/7.

And for here, I add, that I also put the full letter written, including the more enlightening parts, but needed to be left out because of space, though the Free Times did do a job of excellent journalistic integrity. It is posted under comments below.
And no, I'm not just talking to myself here. I just have not yet widely distributed the address/existence of this blog. Feel free to do so, and to comment. Also, I'll post some film of the last days of the trial, film of CCBOE meeting parts with implications for other jurisdictions (as the below post about Diebold EMP's, and alot more about the many other "interesting happenings" here in Cuyahoga...

Hope this helps.

1 comment:

Adele said...

Here is the original longer letter to the FreeTimes.
It explains more.

To The Editor:
What clouded James Renner’s usual courageous, on-point reporting worthy of democracy’s journalistic privilege? His 1/24 depiction of the Board of Elections ’04 recount rigging trial (House of Ballot Cards) seemed more an undeserved tribute to Dreamer’s lawyer and former BOE board member, Roger Synenberg, than a clear presentation of facts.

Where Renner and I might agree however, is that the felony convictions of Maiden and Dreamer, two non-final-decision-making BOE female employees, are tragic – brought on by their own seemingly grossly ill-advised decisions – possibly serving the notion of cover-up through scapegoatism, but certainly not the non-politically driven election justice so urgently needed both in Cuyahoga and the nation.

The real question that loomed over the courtroom throughout, still publicly unasked and unanswered, is who was ultimately responsible for instructing and/or allowing the three indicted women, (and according to testimony, a handful of others lower in BOE hierarchy,) to dirty their hands with the tasks of that pre-count that quashed all possibility for citizens to legally inspect our ballots, and validly check BOE public proclamations about our tax-paid elections procedures and results.

It’s clear that with the demanded loyalty to top management, no matter what, that an activity of that size could not have been done without knowledge of BOE superiors.

I, like Renner, was at most of the trial. I was also at the 12/16/04 recount, and I’ve been at the elections board since, to little major avail questioning, insisting on transparency, and giving evidence for not using additionally undetectably riggable electronic voting machines, the final death to urgently needed citizen oversight.
Just trying to get a valid peek behind the BOE’s public pronouncements (including provided documents) could easily become a full-time job for those who can afford it, fit only for the not faint of heart.
The many ways that decades-long impacted political patronage, and the incompetence, negligence, nepotism and arrogant partisan purpose it brings which, frighteningly also declares our election “winners”- who the next round of behind-the-scenes decision-makers will be - creates a reality that’s unimaginable to the average thinking person.

As Renner indicated, previous to trial, the prosecution offered Maiden and Dreamer immunity and freedom from criminal record for answers. Their risking jail time, probation, as felons immediately losing their jobs, possibly their state retirement, reputation and much more, leads to the other important questions that still may or may not be answered: How high did their protection extend? What were they promised for such quiet? With video evidence on them and a more awakened electorate, did they really think their counsel could make the issue just “go away”, just as the board so often does with other questionable election issues, and just as the PD reported throughout late ’92 and early ’93, politics did for Synenberg and other board members in the ’92 elder-Bush primary election-rigging investigation and other BOE scandals, which were sickeningly similar to today’s?

In fact, the entire defense was shockingly weak and seemingly truth-skirting. Each woman’s lawyer, together creating a group of five, called a total of three witnesses to the stand. The prosecution had offered fourteen. The defense subpoenaed a former field rep of then Secretary of State Blackwell, also Bush’s Ohio campaign co-manager, and tried to paint him to the jury as a standard of election integrity.

They subpoenaed Claudette Barth, long time former board worker and current temp, daughter of a former Director who resigned after the ‘92 scandal, and the same woman, whom reports show Synenberg instructed to rig the ’92 primary computer to show count completion, when ballots were still missing. They subpoenaed Director Vu and Deputy Director Gwen Dillingham (Dreamer’s former sister-in-law and good friend of Synenberg) and the two Democratic board members, but decided not to put them on the stand. None of the women took the stand in her own defense.

The ridiculous main defense arguments? Supposedly:
• That the BOE had been doing that illegal procedure for 20 years, though the illegal parts were never included in their written recount procedures, nor divulged even to their own election attorney when they asked for ’04 procedural advice. Such an “oral tradition” argument may apply to community lore, but certainly not to our legally-charged elections board.
• That it was the board, not the workers who held all legal duties, which argument would have placed Synenberg additionally at fault during his recent 15-year BOE tenure, and seemingly in conflict at the trial..
• That it was fine that the BOE had their own “artful” definition of “random” sample, which resulted in recount witnesses, giving days and additional thousands of dollars to properly exercise our right and duty, only being able to see the BOE’s pre-matched 20% of a pre-selected 8% of all Cuyahoga precincts, and making us discover on our own that the effort was just a show and a useless waste.
• That the BOE staff would have been happy to stay for a full hand count had the first sample not matched the machine count, because they were getting comp time. At the 12/16/04 recount, with ballots neatly sorted, not one hanging or pregnant chad in sight, and all matching up easily, I, as many did, sat across from a grumbling, pouting, and sniping all-day BOE worker threatening that this non-Republican craziness would not keep her from her Christmas.
• That the whole trial (and recount) was a big Democratic plot, a “Prosecutor Mason get-Vu” plot according to Synenberg, (possibly because he didn’t drop the matter); and repeatedly referred to by Rotatori, Maiden’s lawyer, in his closing, only as “something else going on”, or “another agenda” but never identifying nor proving what it was to get their clients off the hook.
• And that everything was all the Prosecutor’s fault; that he was in conflict for investigating his client, which is part of his job; and also conversely at other times, for not standing up in a public BOE meeting and declaring the 12/22/04 election certification invalid because the BOE had acted illegally, which is certainly not part of the Assistant Prosecutor’s authority. Unlike Renner’s rendition that Oradini prepared investigatory material to be used for the court trial, it was testified and corroborated that he wrote a memo, conferred in private with board members, and consulted his superior who referred the case to another prosecutor for investigation, the trial’s Kevin Baxter, which then brought indictments.

Following the defense’s misleads, Renner also misstated that Vu's assistant, Fran Lally, whom he termed the “nerd and spy”, first alerted the Prosecutor’s office three days before the recount, inferring that the Prosecutor knew, but didn’t act properly. All testimony and documents, however, show that Lally made his first call to Assistant Prosecutor Oradini, whom Renner termed “ the stooge,” the day after the main That’s when, by the way, they also found such things as spot-checked precincts given the wrong ballot books, which would have unoticeably given candidates non-intended votes because of ballot position rotation. Also, it should be noted here, that the Cuyahoga Election Review Panel Report following last May’s election chaos (July, 2006) showed through many interviews of an often personally well-intended, but poorly trained staff, that it was dangerous for them to seek legal advice about questionable, top-management assigned duties.

Renner also inferred lies from facial expressions of people he didn’t know, like Oradini’s, “grimacing” to withhold the truth. Had the reporter had any experience with the BOE, he might have had a better handle on who really were his unidentified “double agents, loons and opportunists”, and would have known for instance, that that’s the way Oradini always looks when beginning to read.

The biggest gaffe your writer made, however, was to write without enough democratic insight into the long-standing, pathetic state of Cuyahoga’s, Ohio’s and the nation’s elections, to properly represent the importance of this, albeit off-major point, trial to democracy’s urgently needed election reforms. His basic lack of understanding that elections belong to citizens, not BOE’s nor any other elected or appointed official to do with what they wish, was revealed in his mistaken attempt to affirm the absolutely non-provable notion that whatever these women or any other board employee did, did not affect the outcome of the election. The fact is, if they could do this, the BOE can do anything behind our collective backs.

For instance, in September, 06, Richard Hayes Phillips, an auditor for election integrity activists was continuing to systematically check Ohio’s still retained ’04 ballots, including Cuyahoga. His photo-evidence of a second hole punched in a consistent location in the presidential race in select Ohio precincts, thus strategically negating many thousands of presidential votes entirely, (too many selections makes a non-counted “overvote”) was enough to get a court order for the ’04 ballots to be retained until that investigation is completed. That is one example of what ’04 recounters in Cuyahoga might have also found then, had the BOE not carefully selected the precincts for us to view.

As also pointed out by Professor Cyrus Taylor, CWRU Dean of the College or Arts and Science, whom Renner termed “the jerk,” the fact is that if the BOE sets a pattern for “random” spot checking, in this case limiting witnesses to seeing only precincts with 550 voters or more, supposedly to save a few hours, then they can easily do whatever they want to the majority of ballots that don’t meet their own preset cutoff, assured that no one would find out, and certainly not in enough time to change an election outcome or sue.

And unlike Renner’s limited view that Kerry’s winning Cuyahoga proved the trial’s meaninglessness, in ‘04 with a reported Ohio margin of only 180,000 for Bush, giving him the presidency, out of more than 2.5 million Ohio votes, which in itself we can’t know is true, that Kerry won here is not the important factor. (In fact, his not winning in heavily Democratic Cuyahoga would have sparked more immediate investigations.) The number of votes Cuyahoga actually contributed to statewide totals, and that all valid voters wishing to, got to vote and have their votes validly counted is the point. Something we now, can never be assured of.

I too will be watching the next unfoldings from these convictions. Let’s hope they wind their way to the real culprits that drive the elections board impacted culture of cover-up thus, making real progress toward the non-partisan election integrity and transparency we all need. This can be greatly helped by much better news coverage than Renner just provided.