Monday, April 9, 2007

No Longer Any "Gracious" Way Out for Bennett

Writers from opinion columnists at the Plain Dealer to blogging fair election advocates from around Ohio and the nation are talking about Bob Bennett's refusal to leave the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections.
Most are noting how useless, and "done and over" his stand is; and how isolated he has already made himself, even from some members of the Ohio GOP party that he has chaired for almost three decades.

Some mention that Bennett is probably looking for a "gracious" way out. To most onlookers that time has long passed.

As almost an aside, others state that also Prosecutor William Mason, plans to continue his investigations of Cuyahoga elections, referring the '04 and '06 elections again to Special Prosecutor Kevin Baxter, who in January and February '07, handled the state's fair election case that convicted two Cuyahoga board employees, under Bennett, of felonious recount rigging.

To people who've been following Bennett's actions in Cuyahoga, however, these two issues are not at all separate.
To the wisened Cuyahoga ear, "gracious" can easily translate, as Bennett's ability to wield a deal for immunity or investigation stoppage, regarding his own part in Cuyahoga's '04 and '06 election "irregularities" - and possibly for all others who might otherwise "roll over" on him, Vu, Dillingham, and even the two prison-sentenced former employees - and allow him to save whatever power he thinks he has left.

Secretary of State Brunner has acted wisely, objectively, professionally and professionally cooperatively as Bennett has raged on against Mason and Secretary Brunner. As has been his norm for the past three years I've experienced him, when in possible power trouble, he projects, deflects and spuriously attacks those who might "bring him down." He's raged against Mason for not dissolving the recount rigging case against his employees who lied to protect their superiors, the tipping point that finally began his house of cards falling in around him. He's sued the Secretary of State to try to keep his old power-by fear-of-attack straw house, though she has the power to summarily remove him.

Brunner cannot back down now. She cannot offer him Bennett such "grace."
He has caused too much destruction internally to the staff and workings of Board of Elections, and externally to the finances, integrity, and to the very cornerstone of democracy in this county and state - fair, honest, transparent elections. She certainly has enough supported facts to justly remove him for his cover-ups instead of management, using the county's finances as his own instead of fiscal responsibility, his attacking instead of leading, his lack of understanding and care to objectively follow election law, and his frequent treatment of citizens with overriding disrespect. Though long impacted political arrogance is no reason for removal, it certainly has lead in Bennett's case to substantive reasons that are very good. She doesn't need to make deals to remove him for just causes. Everyone will benefit if he does not get them.

Not as revenge, but to help finally root out the sources of the diseases of political deal-making, patronage and corruption, instead of citizens' election deciding our joint futures, Brunner must continue on her path, and allow Mr. Bennett to take his due.

Maybe then, even the two sentenced women about whom he's claimed he's so concerned - supposedly for their sakes, can acquire some leniency, as their superiors more rightly take responsibility for the injustices done to this county's and state's election process and its citizens.

It is time for Mr. Bennett to offer some grace to others, not receive more deals. It is time for him to resign, to save this state more time and money, and let us all move on to building a far better election future here.

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