State of Ohio employee ordered to check on Joe the plumber

Where, oh where is the truth?
The Columbus Dispatch is on this one.

Friday, October 31, 2008 10:21 PM
By Randy Ludlow
Vanessa Niekamp said that when she was asked to run a child-support check on Samuel Joseph Wurzelbacher on Oct. 16, she thought it routine. A supervisor told her the man had contacted the state agency about his case.
Niekamp didn’t know she just had checked on “Joe the Plumber,” who was elevated the night before to presidential politics prominence as Republican John McCain’s example in a debate of an average American.
The senior manager would not learn about “Joe” for another week, when she said her boss informed her and directed her to write an e-mail stating her computer check was a legitimate inquiry.
The reason Niekamp said she was given for checking if there was a child-support case on Wurzelbacher does not match the reason given by the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services.
Director Helen Jones-Kelley said her agency checks people who are “thrust into the public spotlight,” amid suggestions they may have come into money, to see if they owe support or are receiving undeserved public assistance.
Niekamp told The Dispatch she is unfamiliar with the practice of checking on the newly famous. “I’ve never done that before, I don’t know of anybody in my office who does that and I don’t remember anyone ever doing that,” she said today.

Read the rest at the link

Obama's housing record, part five – View from a constituent, Beauty Turner

Beauty Turner is a long time public housing activist in the South Side of Chicago in the district where Barack Obama served as Illinois state senator. She is also a free lance writer, covering issues of concern to residents of the district. Respected in her community, she will be a featured commentator for WPHK in Chicago on election night. As a resident of public housing in the area where Obama cut his political teeth, she has been a long time observer of the Democrat candidate. She is the host of Beauty’s Ghetto Bus Tours, where visitors to Chicago can see the projects first hand. Despite being an anti-war activist and having liberal leanings, she is quite critical of Barack Obama.
I found Ms. Turner online blog while doing research on Barack Obama record on housing while he was a state senator from 1996-2004. In this post, I summarize a brief conversation with her about Obama’s record while an Illinois state senator. Given Obama’s constant promise of change, I wanted to see what kind of change he brought to the streets of Chicago’s South side. What I found was dramatically disappointing.
First some background. Some of the worst episodes in a rather bleak recent history of public housing in Chicago took place during Senator Obama’s watch. For instance, on one occasion during a five week period during the frigid Chicago winter of 1996-1997, a building in his district went without heat. Here is how the Chicago Sun-Times described the situation:

For more than five weeks during the brutal winter of 1997, tenants shivered without heat in a government-subsidized apartment building on Chicago’s South Side.
It was just four years after the landlords — Antoin “Tony” Rezko and his partner Daniel Mahru — had rehabbed the 31-unit building in Englewood with a loan from Chicago taxpayers.
Rezko and Mahru couldn’t find money to get the heat back on.
But their company, Rezmar Corp., did come up with $1,000 to give to the political campaign fund of Barack Obama, the newly elected state senator whose district included the unheated building.
Obama has been friends with Rezko for 17 years. Rezko has been a political patron to Obama and many others, helping to raise millions of dollars for them through his own contributions and by hosting fund-raisers in his home.

The same Sun-Time article adds,

The tenants there had no heat from Dec. 27, 1996, until at least Feb. 3, 1997, when the city of Chicago sued to turn the heat on. The case was settled later that month with a $100 fine.
It was during that time that the area’s new state senator, Barack Obama, got a $1,000 campaign donation from Rezmar. The date: Jan. 14, 1997.

When asked about the incident, Senator Obama said he “never had a conversation with Mr. Rezko about the matter.” The Boston Globe later probed for more about these events, but the Obama campaign did not answer their specific questions.
I asked Ms. Turner if she was aware of an occasion when Obama publicly confronted those managing the properties in decline about the worsening conditions. She was unaware of any such confrontation, saying that Obama “was for privatizing of public housings,” and added:

Just take a look at who all signed on to privatizing public housing, as well as who received the managing contracts as well as who benefited from these moves.

When asked specifically, who Ms. Turner referred to, she said,

Valerie Jarrett and, Daley and William Moorehead, Reverend Brazier, and Reverend Leon Finley were his friends they received contracts for managing CHA properties, some were indicted such as Moorehead.

Valerie Jarrett, who might head HUD in an Obama administration, until recently headed Habitat, Inc., which managed Grove Parc as its HUD inspection rating went from 82 out of 100 in 2003 to an abysmal 11 in 2006. Mrs. Jarrett is a fixture in Chicago, sitting on the Board of Trustees of the University of Chicago and serves as close adviser to Obama.
When I asked her what Obama accomplished while state senator, she said, “He accomplished getting known.”
Ms. Turner’s view is that Obama cared more about privatizing housing than the conditions his constituents had to endure, saying, “He ignores the poor but if thing continues to fall there will be only two groups of people the rich and the poor.”
These are very strong words, perhaps even stronger than I would have used. However, I didn’t live there. It is an irony that may be completely lost on the American people that the candidate who promises “the change we need” is not viewed as a change agent by a former constituent.
Most politicians like to talk about their accomplishments, their record. However, Barack Obama frequently speaks about what is going to do. He has little to say about what he has done. Perhaps that is because there is so little to talk about. When it comes to his record on housing, it is largely, to quote reporter Binyamin Appelbaum, “a story of what did not happen.”
Where are the stories of how Obama took on the Chicago political machine to get things done for his constituents? Where are the stories of how he helped expose corruption and cronyism while an Illinois state senator?
Ms. Turner has a warning for Americans should Barack Obama become president:

If he get elected or when he is elected, the people will have to stand up and be counted, and do not, I repeat do not let him mess over them in any way!

I have little doubt that Beauty Turner will stand up and be counted.
Other posts in this series:
Part One: Obama’s housing policies: Is past prologue?
Part Two: Obama’s housing policies: Cold constituents
Part Three: Obama’s housing policies: A story about what did not happen
Part Four: Obama’s housing record: Obama’s housing advisers

Vote Today Ohio leaders withdraw their votes in Ohio reporter Tiffany Wilson is reporting this morning that Amy Little, and Yolanda Hippensteele have withdrawn their votes in Ohio. Tate Hausman sought to do so but his vote had been opened and he cannot do so. He is seeking to withdraw his registration. The legal implications are unclear to me at this point. I had initially written that Hausman had withdrawn his vote but Ms. Wilson clarified in an email that Mr. Hausman’s vote had been opened.
Amy Little was recently fired from her job as adviser to NY Rep. John Hall.
There are other out-of-state voters that have been turned in to the Franklin County Board of Elections, no word as yet on their intentions.
More to come…

More voting shenanigans in Ohio

Ohio is the heart of it all, after all.
There was the nursing home case and then another nursing home case, voting twice, and more.
And then of course the Vote Today Ohio business.
(h/t: Charles Martin)
UPDATE: Via, here are some Cuyahoga County ACORN mysteries. Roll the tape, Tiffany:

AP says Obama's infomercial "skips over budget realities"

Obama’s prime-time ad skips over budget realities
Calvin Woodward
WASHINGTON (AP) — Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama was less than upfront in his half-hour commercial Wednesday night about the costs of his programs and the crushing budget pressures he would face in office.
Obama’s assertion that “I’ve offered spending cuts above and beyond” the expense of his promises is accepted only by his partisans. His vow to save money by “eliminating programs that don’t work” masks his failure throughout the campaign to specify what those programs are — beyond the withdrawal of troops from Iraq.
A sampling of what voters heard in the ad, and what he didn’t tell them:
THE SPIN: “That’s why my health care plan includes improving information technology, requires coverage for preventive care and pre-existing conditions and lowers health care costs for the typical family by $2,500 a year.”
THE FACTS: His plan does not lower premiums by $2,500, or any set amount. Obama hopes that by spending $50 billion over five years on electronic medical records and by improving access to proven disease management programs, among other steps, consumers will end up saving money. He uses an optimistic analysis to suggest cost reductions in national health care spending could amount to the equivalent of $2,500 for a family of four. Many economists are skeptical those savings can be achieved, but even if they are, it’s not a certainty that every dollar would be passed on to consumers in the form of lower premiums.
THE SPIN: “I also believe every American has a right to affordable health care.”
THE FACTS: That belief should not be confused with a guarantee of health coverage for all. He makes no such promise. Obama hinted as much in the ad when he said about the problem of the uninsured: “I want to start doing something about it.” He would mandate coverage for children but not adults. His program is aimed at making insurance more affordable by offering the choice of government-subsidized coverage similar to that in a plan for federal employees and other steps, including requiring larger employers to share costs of insuring workers.
THE SPIN: “I’ve offered spending cuts above and beyond their cost.”
THE FACTS: Independent analysts say both Obama and Republican John McCain would deepen the deficit. The nonpartisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget estimates Obama’s policy proposals would add a net $428 billion to the deficit over four years — and that analysis accepts the savings he claims from spending cuts. The nonpartisan Tax Policy Center, whose other findings have been quoted approvingly by the Obama campaign, says: “Both John McCain and Barack Obama have proposed tax plans that would substantially increase the national debt over the next 10 years.” The analysis goes on to say: “Neither candidate’s plan would significantly increase economic growth unless offset by spending cuts or tax increases that the campaigns have not specified.”
THE SPIN: “Here’s what I’ll do. Cut taxes for every working family making less than $200,000 a year. Give businesses a tax credit for every new employee that they hire right here in the U.S. over the next two years and eliminate tax breaks for companies that ship jobs overseas. Help homeowners who are making a good faith effort to pay their mortgages, by freezing foreclosures for 90 days. And just like after 9-11, we’ll provide low-cost loans to help small businesses pay their workers and keep their doors open. ”
THE FACTS: His proposals — the tax cuts, the low-cost loans, the $15 billion a year he promises for alternative energy, and more — cost money, and the country could be facing a record $1 trillion deficit next year. Indeed, Obama recently acknowledged — although not in his commercial — that: “The next president will have to scale back his agenda and some of his proposals.”

I didn’t see it all but what I did see did not seem to advance anything new. I was struck by his stories of people facing hardship. However, I am reminded that when he was Illinois state senator, he did not even have a conversation with Tony Rezko, a significant fund raiser about the conditions in the properties Rezko managed, properties which were in Obama’s district.

Vote Today Ohio organizer fired as adviser to New York Rep. John Hall

Yesterday, I posted about Amy Little, an adviser to New York Rep. John Hall and his campaign manager during the 2006 election. Little is also co-organizer of Vote Today Ohio, a pro-Obama get out the vote organization. Today according to the Times Herald-Record (NY), Ms. Little has been fired as Rep. Hall’s adviser in response to an investigation of her vote in Columbus, Ohio.
Alexa James writes,

NEW PALTZ — Congressman John Hall (D-Dover Plains) fired one of his long-time campaign advisers Tuesday, after learning that she’s embroiled in voter fraud investigations in Ohio.
Amy Little, 49, has been a registered Democrat in New York since 1991, and Ulster County election officials said she voted in the party primary here in February.
But in October, Little registered to vote in Ohio. On her registration paperwork, she indicated she moved from her home at 142 Guilford Schoolhouse Road in New Paltz to a place at 1979 N. 4th St. in Columbus, near Ohio State University.
That Ohio address also doubles as headquarters for a grassroots get-out-the-vote group called Vote Today Ohio. The organization’s pro-Obama Web site says it targets “young people from campus/urban centers” and drives them to early voting sights in Ohio. The group also offers housing to out-of-town members.
Franklin County Board of Elections officials said four people, including Little, registered from Vote Today Ohio’s address in October, just before the state’s deadline. Little requested an absentee ballot, which election officials said she has submitted.
According to Ohio election laws, voters must reside in the state at least 30 days prior to the election and must intend to stay there after November.

Ms. Little maintains she is following the law:

“I’ve been living in Ohio,” she said, when reached on her home phone in New Paltz Wednesday morning. “I have no intention of voting in New York,” she said, before cutting off the conversation, saying she had a flight to catch to Ohio.
Spokeswoman Pam Kapoor, with Vote Today Ohio, said Little moved into the group’s headquarters a couple months ago, along with several other “core members.”
Franklin County Prosecuting Attorney Ron O’Brien confirmed that Little’s name and address are under scrutiny.
Franklin County Board of Elections Director Michael Stinziano said his office has about 160 allegations pending, including “many” directed at Little and Vote Today Ohio. Election fraud in Ohio is a felony.
Rep. Hall’s campaign isn’t waiting for a verdict. The freshman congressman, who’s running for re-election in the 19th district, heard about Little’s problems Tuesday. “The moment we heard about it, her campaign consulting contract was terminated,” said Campaign Director, Susan Spear.

1979 N. Fourth Street, Columbus, Ohio.
1979 N. Fourth Street, Columbus, Ohio
UPDATE: The Poughkeepsie Journal has an article on Rep. Hall’s response to the Vote Today Ohio leader, Amy Little. Just a couple of additional points:

Pam Kapoor, a spokeswoman for Vote Today Ohio, said Little was part of a group of five or six people who had been living at the headquarters for the past three months. She said it wasn’t uncommon, calling the news “much ado about nothing.”

Pam Kapoor (who apparently is from Canada) said Vote Today Ohio has had the HQ for three months. I don’t know how long someone has been there but the self-described leader, Tate Hausman has only been there since mid-September.
(h/t to Liberty Boys for the Poughkeepsie article)

Former staffer claims ACORN and Obama cooperated to raise donations

Via Michelle Malkin:
She said, he said…

HARRISBURG — A former staffer for an affiliate of the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now testified today that the organization was provided a “donor list” from the presidential campaign of Barack Obama in late 2007 for fundraising efforts.
Anita Moncrief, a former Washington, D.C. staffer for Project Vote, which she described as a sister organization of ACORN, said her supervisor told her the list of campaign contributors came from the Obama campaign. Moncrief said she has a copy of a “development plan” that outlines how Obama contributors who had “maxed out” under federal contribution limits would be targeted to give to Project Vote, and that it was her job to identify such contributors.

The Obama campaign denies any coordination.

Julie the records clerk charged with investigating Joe the plumber

From WNWO:

Toledo Police have confirmed that a TPD records clerk is accused of performing an illegal search of information related to ‘Joe the Plumber.’
Julie McConnell, has been charged with Gross Misconduct for allegedly making an improper inquiry into a state database in search of information pertaining to Samuel Wurzelbacher on Oct. 16.
Wurzelbacher came under the spotlight after being spoken about during the final presidential debate between Barack Obama and John McCain.
The inquiry into Wurzelbacher’s record is a violation of department and state policy governing the use of the Law Enforcement Automated Data System. The clerk is under fire for making the inquiry for a non-law enforcement purpose.
McConnell was hired by the Toledo Police Department in April 1995 and assigned to the Investigative Services Bureau.
A discplinary hearing will be scheduled within the next ten days.

That makes two public officials investigating JtP.

Obama's housing record, part four – Obama's housing advisors

Lonnie Richardson is renowned in the Woodlawn area of Chicago, a mixed income area bordering the University of Chicago. Mr. Richardson has lived in Grove Parc Plaza, a 504 unit apartment complex for 20 years. He is president of the Grove Parc Plaza Tenant Association and in that role has fought to keep the apartment complex viable. Grove Parc Plaza is in the senate district Barack Obama represented as a state senator from 1996 through 2004.
On November 19, 2007, Mr. Richardson and group of 3 other supporters were arrested following a protest at the Housing and Urban Development office in Chicago. HUD wanted to demolish the complex because conditions had deteriorated under the management of Obama campaign finance committee member Valerie Jarrett’s company, Habitat. The Grove Parc residents were faced with eviction. Mustering resolve to stay in their apartments and neighborhood, they sought permission to find another company to manage their complex. The group found Preservation Of Affordable Housing, a non-profit organization, willing to manage and revitalize Grove Parc. However, HUD initially refused to allow POAH to take over. HUD refusal is what sparked the acrimonious confrontation and led to the arrests. Later, a federal judge dismissed the charges against Richardson and the others.
The protest was videotaped by Labor Beat which is affiliated with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 1220. At about Lonnie Richardson (the caption on the video clip incorrectly reads Lonnie Richard) speaks about the meeting with HUD, the arrest and the problems with Grove Parc management.

At 3:30 in the video, Lonnie Richardson expresses his frustration with HUD and “big developers.” He said,

If this was one of these big developers, like the Allison Davises, the W. Picks, T.W.Os, all these big developers have got all this money from HUD and have wasted it. The development that we live in; this is why we are being pushed out, because for 16 years, we have been living in the slums. They haven’t put the money in what it’s supposed to be put in. They are foreclosing on them because they didn’t give us quality living. Now they want to see us out for. We got our own private developer; it’s a non-profit developer. They refuse to listen to our developers; they are putting issues out there where they have to have their hands tied, so they can walk away from this, so they can continue to give this here to these slumlords. If this was any of these other developers to do this on our behalf, we wouldn’t be here today. And I live in Grove Parc and I been living there for the last 20 years and this has been going on for the last 20 years they been doing this in Grove Parc.

Allison Davis is the lawyer that hired Barack Obama out of law school and has been a vital part of his political career. Mr. Davis remains an advisor to Mr. Obama and Mr. Obama has continued to do favors for Mr. Davis and his associates involving tax dollars for more housing developments.
It is clear that Mr. Richardson believes the management of the apartments is inadequate because HUD money has not been spent well. Eventually HUD allowed POAH to take over from Valerie Jarrett’s Habitat.
Given the track record of poor performance by Obama’s real estate development friends and supporters, one wonders why they still advise Obama. Also, one wonders why Obama still funnels grants to them. Obama did that earlier this year when he wrote the HUD expressing support for a federal housing grant.
The Washington Times reported that

Sen. Barack Obama, who vows to change Washington by trimming wasteful spending and disclosing special-interest requests, wrote the Bush administration last year to seek a multimillion-dollar federal grant for a Chicago housing project that is behind schedule and whose development team includes a longtime political supporter.
But complicating the picture, one of developers for the Stateway Project is a firm headed by Allison S. Davis, one of Mr. Obama’s early mentors and a longtime political supporter. A founding partner at the firm where Mr. Obama practiced law, Mr. Davis and his family have given the senator from Illinois tens of thousands of dollars in political contributions over the years.
Aides to Mr. Obama said he did not know of Mr. Davis’ involvement in the Stateway project when he sent the letter.

Chicago’s public housing problems have historically been among the worst in the nation from Grove Parc to the infamous Cabrini-Green project. No one could expect a state senator to clean all that up and fix that problem in 8 years. However, there is no public record that he discussed these constituent concerns with the people who were overseeing much of these developments. He had perfect opportunity since these same people were the ones funding his campaigns and providing policy and political advice.
Previous posts in this series:
Part One: Obama’s housing policies: Is past prologue?
Part Two: Obama’s housing policies: Cold constituents
Part Three: Obama’s housing policies: A story about what did not happen