Pounds: Trashing Husted’s BOE road mapWritten by Tom Pounds | President / Publisher | email@example.com
“The only sure things in life are death, taxes and Lucas County having the worst election board in the State of Ohio.”
— Steve Fought, campaign manager for Rep. Marcy Kaptur
Six months ago, Ohio Secretary of State (SOS) Jon Husted, undoubtedly with an eye on the then-upcoming presidential election, placed the Lucas County Board of Elections (BOE) under SOS administrative oversight and assistance. That long-overdue move helped protect the integrity of the elections process from the BOE’s dysfunction and inability to rise above the severely flawed personalities in charge. In a report issued this week, SOS-hired consultants who evaluated the Lucas County BOE recommended that Director Meghan Gallagher and Deputy Director Dan DeAngelis be removed from office.
In their report, consultants Jim Ruvolo, a Democrat who served on the BOE from 1976-82 and from November 2011 to February 2012, and Jon Allison, a Columbus-based attorney and Republican, wrote, “We conclude that the Lucas County Board of Elections as presently situated is devoid of management leadership, is without most of the basic organizational structure, policies and procedures necessary to function as an accountable government entity and is culturally plagued by mistrust and fear.”
We have been saying that since August 2011 and have long called for Gallagher’s resignation. Jon Stainbrook, board member and chair of the Lucas County Republican Party, would also better serve the public by going back to whatever it is he did before applying his unique talents to staining the democratic process with conflict and obstinance. In a Feb. 26 letter to the BOE, Husted wrote, “With yesterday’s release of Mr. Allison and Mr. Ruvolo’s report and recommendations, you have been provided with a roadmap to place the Lucas County Board of Elections on track. My office has provided you with all of the tools and resources that we can reasonably provide.”
Predictably, at a Feb. 26 board meeting, no movement was made toward following the SOS recommendation. There is no indication that any of the SOS’s efforts will effect change, or that any confidence has been restored.
This era of BOE operation will be remembered as an utter failure, a humiliation on a statewide level and an example of managerial incompetence that lowered an already pitiful standard in Lucas County.
Gallagher is collecting an annual salary in excess of $85,000; what are voters getting for that investment? Gallagher’s epic failure to control the BOE and its most basic functions has resulted in acrimony and an unimaginable situation for the Secretary of State. There is no logical future for her as BOE director and no clear path for true reform until she resigns or is removed from office.
Husted has provided a solution. The BOE is ignoring it. Stainbrook and Gallagher may feel they have outlasted the SOS intervention and “won,” but Lucas County continues to be the loser as long as these two have a presence at the BOE.
Thomas F. Pounds is president and publisher of Toledo Free Press and Toledo Free Press Star. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.