Tuesday, June 19, 2007

The Future Looks Bright - not politically pushed, pulled or stained

Last Monday, at the June 11 board meeting Jane Platten was chosen as the new Director of the CCBOE.
We are fortunate. This was a decision made with managerial wisdom for the voters of this county and without bending to past political pressure, and future political hopes of a few.
Platten has demonstrated herself bright, caring, and deeply capable as a manager who understands the purpose of elections.

The last paragraphs of last Sunday’s PD article says it all. And knowing Platten it is far from a fake statement. She truly understands:

She will deal with budgets, polling issues and computers. With each issue, she will make an addition to her to-do lists on her wall or fire off late-night e-mails to her staff. She said she will manage the office with her staff's input, as well as the community's.

And it's all done for one reason:

"It's so that people like my mom and dad can go to vote with confidence and know that the privilege of voting will be handled correctly. . . . To many people, voting is sacred."

Here is Last Tuesday’s PD article by Joan Mazzolini about Platten’s being chosen.
Interim election director stays
New Board of Elections votes, 3-1, for Jane Platten
Tuesday, June 12, 2007
Joan Mazzolini
Plain Dealer Reporter
The Cuyahoga County Board of Elections members surprised many by appointing their interim director to
the permanent position Monday.
Jane Platten, 39, started at the board in March 2004 as head of administrative services, includ ing human
re sources, pur chasing and community out reach. But last year, she had been tapped to turn around poll
worker recruitment and training for the November election.
"I look forward to continuing my work as director of the Board of Elections," Platten said after the meeting.
"The work at hand is one of an 'us proposition' that involves the whole community.
"I understand that to be accountable we need strong partnerships with the secretary of state, the county
commissioners, county prosecutor and, ultimately, the voters," she said. The board is still under
administrative oversight by the Ohio secretary of state's office.
During the May 2006 primary, hundreds of poll workers were no-shows and hundreds more complained of
poor training that left them ill-prepared to set up the new touch-screen voting machines used countywide
for the first time. Hundreds of polling locations opened late.
Even with her success in November, and the successful May primary she conducted recently, her
appointment came as a surprise to many.
The board's 3-1 vote for Platten highlighted some behind-the-scenes disagreement.
While board members Inajo Davis Chappell, Eben "Sandy" McNair and Rob Frost voted for Platten, Jeff
Hastings voted against.
After the meeting, Hastings said "Billy Denihan" had been his first choice, though he praised Platten and
said he is convinced she will do an excellent job. He pledged to do everything he can to help her succeed.
Platten is the fourth director of the board since 2000. Her predecessors, Bill Wilkins, Tom Jelepis and
Michael Vu, all left under controversial circumstances.
William Denihan, 69, had been the front-runner initially after applying for the position under the former
But appointing a new director stalled when Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner asked the four board
members to resign earlier this year. The former director and deputy director had just been forced out of
their jobs by the board because of the disastrous May 2006 primary, despite the successful November
Platten, who was asked to serve as interim director during the search, did not apply for the position at first.
Platten became interim director in March.
But she put her name in after the new board went against the advice of the search committee and began
accepting new applicants.
Platten's official salary was not determined at Monday's meeting. The position's salary was advertised as
up to $120,000.
Board members said they are eager to move toward finding a deputy director.
"Platten will be significantly involved in that search," Hastings said.
To reach this Plain Dealer reporter:
jmazzolini@plaind.com, 216-999-4563
© 2007 The Plain Dealer
© 2007 cleveland.com All Rights Reserved.

And here is the link to the PD Sunday feature about our new CCBOE Director.
New elections chief focuses on lists and plans
Sunday, June 17, 2007
John Caniglia
Plain Dealer Reporter

Here also is the link to the PD editorial
reminding of how difficult (and dangerous) Platten’s new position can be. Four CCBOE Directors since 2000.

But lucky for us and her, none of those people came in with the experience, talent and drive behind them that Platten has. None of them came in with such strong support of so many agencies from the Secretary of State on down; and none came in with the also majorly important ingredient- a majority of a board so determined and willing to get citizens’ elections right, far more than political deal-making (…at least not yet, and hopefully not at all.)

I will be posting film of Platten’s last Wednesday’s swearing in by next week.

As example of just one of the tasks before Platten and the board is demonstrated by this list of staff positions on the CCBOE web site. There are a number of key slots to fill well, as Platten continues to build and support currently committed staff members:
Director Jane Platten
Deputy Director
Elections Coordinator
Administrator of Community Outreach and Administrative Services

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