Saturday, May 26, 2018
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Evidence shows the Internet growing in political influence

Evidence that the Internet continues to bloom as a political tool:

  • RECALLMAYORFORD.COM: The paperwork was filed late last month with the Lucas County board of elections to establish a political action committee to fund this new web site targeting Toledo's Jack Ford.

    The site features what its designer calls a “temporary” page explaining his mission to be “the liaison for those disenchanted with the lackluster performance” of the mayor. A full-blown site is to debut Friday.

    The site, started by Matthew Hockman, a University of Toledo psychology major, is designed, he said, to gather “constructive criticism.”

    He said that he wants it to be used by citizens to vent civic frustration as much as to push Mr. Ford from office.

    Merchandise - yard signs, T-shirts, etc. - will eventually be sold on the site, he said.

    The site includes poll questions on the mayor's job performance, the use of police bicycle patrols to squelch off-campus parties near UT, and the smoking ban.

    Predictably, early poll results skewed heavily against the Ford administration.

    Mr. Ford is not the first Toledo mayor to face Internet opposition. Do you remember the now defunct web site

    That effort fell well short of collecting enough signatures to put the recall question to voters but succeeded in providing local web surfers with regular amusement.

  • PHONING HOME(S): Former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, who has used the Internet expertly in organizing grass roots supporters and raising money for his presidential bid, used some older technology to apparently break a world record last week.

    He held a conference telephone call with supporters nationwide while on a California campaign swing, the point of which was to get people excited, raise a little money, and to win an entry in the Guinness Book of World Records for the most people on a conference call.

    It apparently worked. So, pending certification, even if Mr. Dean doesn't make it to the White House, he will at least find a new home in the record book.

    Campaign officials said that about 100 Toledoans who were gathered at three locations were among the more than 3,500 people who took part in the call. The current certified record is 3,310 people on one call.

  • COMPUTER CAUCUS: For the first time, the Michigan Democratic Party will allow voting via the Internet in its presidential caucus next February.

    The vote will be just like a primary election, said party spokesman Jason Moon. The election is considered a caucus because it will be run by the party, not the state.

    However, adding the option of Internet voting will mean the subtraction of the secret ballot.

    Mr. Moon said that the party will need to track who voted and for whom they voted, so they can subtract a person's vote if he or she is found to have voted two or three times using different methods.

    Because Mr. Dean has had such phenomenal success recruiting volunteers and raising money online, other candidates have begun to complain about the inclusion of Internet voting as a component of the Michigan caucus, according to an Associated Press story last week.

    Michigan Democrats' co-chairman Mark Brewer said that the party will stand by its decision to employ the Internet, the story said.

  • IDENTITY CRISIS? Like many public officials, Theresa Gabriel, the clerk of Toledo Municipal Court, has a page on her web site devoted to her biography.

    Unfortunately, the biography is not hers.

    Oh, her name is there, in big, bold print at the top of the page, and in the first sentence of the bio.

    But the life story is that of her predecessor, Maggie Thurber.

    Maggie, not Theresa, was born in Nashville. Maggie, not Theresa, grew up in Point Place. Maggie, not Theresa, went to Woodward High School (Theresa went to Scott High School).

    The picture next to the biographical copy? Maggie, not Theresa.

    By the second paragraph, all pretense that this might be Theresa's life story is gone. The copy refers to Maggie, not Theresa. About the only thing they have in common is they are both Republicans.

    Ms. Gabriel was appointed clerk earlier this year, when Ms. Thurber left to take a seat on the Lucas County board of commissioners.

    One wonders: as the person charged with keeping meticulous account of the complicated municipal court record, why is Ms. Gabriel not as meticulous about a simple biography?

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