Anastasia from Ohio Daily Blog was at last weekend’s ODP Ohio Democratic Women’s Caucus meeting and reports that State Senator Nina Turner (D-Cleveland) unleashed a torrent of criticism about how the Lancer Group’s payroll screw up hurt the Ohio Democratic Party with the African-American community:

Hundreds of workers were left standing outside a locked campaign headquarters in the cold on Election Day. Said Turner, “They were ready to riot. If Representative Williams and I had not shown up, they would have rioted.”

She pointed out that “99.9%” of these people were black, and that this was one of the Democratic Party’s most faithful constituencies. Turner’s fiery comments emphasized how crucial they are to the party and how essential it is that they be treated with respect, which she made clear she didn’t think they had been or were being.

One of the others — I think it was Williams — asked what if anything would be done for people who incurred fees for the bouncing checks. Chairman Chris Redfern assured her that the party would reimburse the cost. Still, that may be cold comfort to people who feel disrespected.

Once the Lancer Group screwed up the payroll (their primary, if not sole,  duty in the GOTV operation, we’ve been told from multiple sources) the Ohio Democratic Party was in a no-win situation.  You had a group of people who are also a major constituency of the party, and they’ve been left to scramble to get money they were owed by the party.  It doesn’t matter to them who was responsible, but that it gets fixed.

From all accounts, ODP has agreed to do everything it can be expected to be done to make the situation right, but it knows that all it can do is mitigate the damage the Lancer Group wrought.

In a perfect world, a political vendor wouldn’t screw up and send hundreds of paid canvassers left with checks they cannot cash or get honored.  And once you leave that perfect world, ODP is left in a position in which it cannot win, but only lose worse.  ODP, and even the Lancer Group, did what they could to resolve the situation.   Once ODP became aware of the situation, I simply don’t know what ODP could have expected to do to mitigate the situation any better for the folks waiting to get paid than they did.  ODP wasn’t really liable to pay the bounced check fees on checks a third-party vendor drafted, but it did because it was the moral thing to do to get this matter resolved.

I talked to a person who was also in the room during the discussion and added a few more things that Redfern told the crowd a few other things that ODP is prepared to do about the Lancer Group:

  • Promise to never do business with the Lancer Group again.
  • Notify in writing every State party about ODP’s experience with the Lancer Group and strongly urge those State parties to avoid doing business with Lancer;
  • Sue them.  Redfern had told me personally they were prepared to do so, but didn’t want it out there a few weeks ago because Lancer still had ODP’s money in which to pay people, and they feared Lancer might freeze the accounts;

ODP has long understood the gravity of the situation.  And I think if anyone has a reasonable suggestion as to what more they could do, they’d welcome it.

  • Anastasjoy

    Modern, I can verify that Chris indeed said those things — that he would work to assure that Lancer did no more business with the Democratic Party anywhere, and also that the first priority before suing Lancer was to make sure people had their money. He was very emphatic about it.

  • Anonymous

    Thanks, Anastasia! Good piece. Sounds like it was an interesting weekend. Did Senator Turner ask or suggest anything ODP could do to remedy the situation beyond what’s already been done?

  • stickline65

    Interesting post, read it earlier today from Anastasia the great. I happen to be one of the 165 in the room at the ODP meetings you are discussing.
    I did not read her mention that ODP Chairman Chris Redfern explained that the 2010 campaign was the largest canvassing program in Ohio Democratic Party history and be all national standards and feedback from DNC, a model effort.
    I also heard him mention that the field operations portion, contracted to a Washington DC based company, was subcontracted to another company.
    That all ODP payments to these firms were released to these firms directly well in advance. That he was assured the controls and systems were in place to disperse monies, and more importantly, comply with campaign rules of conduct.

    These firms were highly recommended by the DNC and their references were highly regarded.
    Perhaps she was not in the room when the Chairman discussed that ODP is going to sue the contractor for non performance in distributing monies to workers.
    AND that ODP “the party”, which has no legal responsibility to cover these workers, who are subcontracted… the prime contractor, WOULD AND ARE BEING COMPENSATED BY THE PARTY.

    We also heard from the executive committee that ODP exceeded its responsibility and is essentially insuring these unfortunate workers. ODP Chair Redfern did emphatically state that the party WILL repay those workers. Was this really about these constituent workers or was it really about Nina Turner attempting to capture the moment. We call it GRANDSTANDING.

    Anastasias gross generalization about African Americans looking for respect is cannon fodder.
    There were 165 people in the room and only 2 people were critical of ODP. And this was after a very direct discussion on this canvassing issue.

    My question to Nina Turner the critic is this….How many doors did NT knock on during the campaign? How much effort did Nina invest in this campaign for Democrats?
    Where was Nina Turner in helping other candidates in important races….minority candidates such as Don Colliver from Mansfield…in their election bids?

    ODP has championed minority candidate development and can prove their continual financial support and leadership in developing candidates. You want to see the checks stubs Anastasia? Hundreds of thousands of dollars have been contributed to the Legislative Black Caucus over the Redfern chairmanship term. It is proven every year time and again. Go to the meetings!!! Do the research!!!

    Looking for respect? How about, looking for respect from the media and blogging trash talkers.

    Her blog leaves the very few readers that would spend time on this inaccurate rabble with the false impression that ODP is disregarding a key constituency and is just infuriating.
    Respect? Stand up and be mentioned by attending the meetings and being involved. There were numerous minority and special interest groups accounted for in these meetings. It was extremely productive and reinvigorating. Her post is negative and detracts from the spirit of what actually took place.

    Regarding the comment that ODP has a problem with women and African American constituencies is just blather. Where else have these consituencies been developed, nurtured and financed so strategically than by the State party. Show me a local or County party that leads on these matters with more force and commitment.

    Nothing the BIG A says is based in fact or reason and quotes Redfern in confidence. Is she just another paparrazi posing as a purveyor of truth.


  • Anonymous

    Anastasia already acknowledged much of what I, and you, have said in your comment. So I think your criticism is over the top. What I would like to know is what Turner would have wanted ODP to do that they didn’t.

  • Anonymous

    Was ODP liable for Lancer’s bounced checks? You seem to suggest so in your comment. Do you have anything to make that allegation beyond simplybecause they were hired by ODP? There was nothing that would have given ODP any warning that this would happen. Not even you have suggested as such. So why should we bash ODP for the failure of their contractor, even though ODP has done everything possible to get people paid and held harmless from Lancer’s failures?

    Why, precisely, should we blame ODP for the actions of Lancer when nobody had any warning that Lancer would screw up as they did beforehand? And what could ODP have done differently once it realized that Lancer screwed up?

  • stickline65

    Locked out in the cold. Here we go again…in this a euphamism, it was 65 degrees on election day. Drama queen. How about this. Lets get Nina to volunteer and work for free LIKE THE REST OF US.

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