Archive for November, 2008

The Ohio Lottery Casino

November 12, 2008

The defeat of Issue 6 last week adds yet another failed Casino gaming measure onto an ever growing pile of losing attempts.  To the Ohio Legislators who stood against this and every other push for gambling in this state, yet stand behind the Ohio Lottery (including the move last year for the first time to have drawings on Sundays) how about this,  you guys do it.

Open “The Ohio Lottery Casino.”  The state runs it, the state keeps the profits and distributes them as the state sees fit.  (I’ve seen next years budget – by your own admission you could use the money.) The reality is this, whether you like it or not the people of Ohio continue to take their money out of state to gamble in Erie, Niagara Falls, Windsor, West Virginia, why not keep that money here in-state and let the state set the place up on their terms.

I’m not a gambler and can count on one hand the number of times I’ve gone to a casino to drop a roll of quarters but I am someone who has studied the casino industry for 18-years.  I worked in Atlantic City in the early 90’s and I covered the industry extensively.  The mistakes Atlantic City (and some of the early riverboat casinos elsewhere) made are legendary but equally impressive are the efforts they have undertaken to correct them.  I also worked in New York State in 2002 and covered the historic compact entered into by the State and the Seneca Nation of Indians for Indian Gaming in Western New York. 

I can recite louder than the loudest of casino-opponents the downside of casino gaming.   My glasses are anything but rose colored but I will also say you really don’t have to look that hard to see how to do it right.  On a small scale look at the charity poker tournaments in the Flats that have been going on for what four summers now?  Any problems? If I didn’t mention it did you even think they still held them?  No, it has peacefully co-existed with the remaining businesses down there and helps to draw people to the Flats and raise money for charity. 

So state of Ohio do it.  Create two or three stand alone “Ohio State Lottery Casinos.”  Make them facilities that offer gaming but minimal food or drink.  Force people to the restaurants and hotels in the immediate area.  They don’t have to be decked out in Las Vegas glitz, they do have to offer an in-state alternative to what Ohio residents are finding just over our borders.

Just throwing it out there.


I’ll Never Forget…

November 6, 2008


I’ll never forget…  The look on Barack Obama’s face as he stepped out of a car and saw me running at him full speed with a look of “friend or foe” on his face.  

It was February of 2007 a week or two after he announced and he was heading into the Key Marriott for a fundraiser.  There were only two entrances I staked out the front, my cameraman Rich Geyser staked out the side.   When his car pulled up to the side Rich was in position but I had to do a 50-yard sprint to get him before he walked in.  To stop him, I started yelling “Senator, Senator.”  (This was before Secret Service protection.) As he looked up I realized he’s thinking is this a crazy guy?  So I showed the microphone as I slowed down towards him and asked him “How’s Ohio treating you?”  He realized I wasn’t a threat at that point and stopped to talk.  

Copley H.S. Gym  11/3/2008

Copley H.S. Gym 11/3/2008

I’ll never forget…  The inside of the 1,246 gyms I visited during the course of this campaign. (Okay maybe it was only a dozen or two but it sure felt like that many.)

Overheated Brady Quinn on right

Overheated Brady Quinn on right

I’ll never forget… How hot it got inside the Strongsville Rec Center Gym during the McCain event that included the endorsement of Brady Quinn who by the end of the event appeared ready to pass out while the 72-year-old John McCain looked unphased.

Sarah Palin's Introduction to the Lower 48

Sarah Palin's introduction the Lower 48

I’ll never forget…  Being down in Dayton to cover McCain’s naming of a vice-presidential pick.  I brought with me a file on every conceivable candidate (except one). 

I’ll never forget…  the look of surprise I had as I saw an ACORN van pull into the lot of the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections during the first day of the so-called “Golden Week” where you could register and vote at the same time.  Out of the van came 5 or 6 volunteers and 1 homeless woman who, for my money, had no idea where she was.

Barack Obama in Lorain February 24, 2008

Barack Obama in Lorain February 24, 2008

I’ll never forget…  During the Democratic Debate at Cleveland State in February when the late Tim Russert said to Barack Obama ‘I want to play something for you and get your response to it.’   What he proceded to play was Obama’s answering my question to him I posed two days earlier during a campaign stop in Lorain. 

Joe Biden with first responders on September 11th in Parma

Joe Biden with first responders on September 11th in Parma

I’ll never forget…  Spending September 11ths with Joe Biden in Parma.  The premise was absolutely no campaigning just a small gathering to recognize local safety forces for the jobs they do.  I remember it because there was no campaigning.  There were no political signs of any kind, there was no “we’ll do this”  or “they’ll do that” it was just personal reflection on 9-11 and Biden talking with local police and firefighters about the challenges they face.  The names Barack Obama and John McCain were mentioned only once and that was when Biden said he’d be joining them both at Ground Zero later that night.   It was a nice break from the intense tone of the campaign.  Of course the next day in the Plain Dealer article on the trip several people were quoted complaining about the fact Biden didn’t say anything about what they would do if elected.

I’ll never forget…  Having the most fun on an election night since I worked in politics.  The opportunity to be live on the internet with a camera giving folks a behind the scenes look at Newschannel 5, talking at length with our reporters, anchors and staff and having the chance to spend more than a soundbites worth of time talking to our political analysts was an absolute blast.  To sit there and talk in depth with someone like Lou Stokes several times throughout the night reflecting on the historic significance of this election, this night and how it reminded him of November of 1967 when his brother Carl became the first black mayor of a major city and what Carl would have thought of this night, is an experience that was absolutely priceless.  Thank you.

Lou Stokes & Leon Bibb watch as ABC declares Barack Obama the winner.

Lou Stokes & Leon Bibb watch as ABC declares Barack Obama the winner.

Where’d the voters go?

November 6, 2008

The number one surprise of Tuesday’s vote was the fact that about 28,000 more people voted for president in Cuyahoga County in 2004 than did in 2008.  (645,009 votes for President Tuesday vs. 673,777 in 2004.)

We went into Tuesday with all signs pointing to a possible record breaking turnout, afterall about  quarter million votes had already been cast through early and absentee voting before the polls even opened Tuesday morning.  On top of that the weather was perfect, sunny and warm compared to 2004 when it was cold and raining and the lines were long.  

So what happened?  We won’t know until you get a better breakdown of who voted and where they voted.   Factors we could speculate on include the possibility that, unlike in 2004 when the polls were extremely tight, the polling at the end of this race showed the race widening so some democrats felt comfortable staying home and some republicans felt their vote wouldn’t matter.  

There’s also the possibility that voters were so freaked out about long lines and seeing people wait for hours to early vote, that they worried about the lines they would face so they didn’t vote.  It’s kind of like that old Yogi Berra line about no one goes to that restaurant anymore because it’s too crowded.

Is it the possibility that the county has lost population over the last four years.  (But that’s offset by the number of registrations or were those registration numbers really correct.)  

The good news for Barack Obama was even though he had fewer Cuyahoga County votes than John Kerry did in 2004 448,503 to 441,836 he came out of the county with a wider margin of victory than John Kerry did.  Barack Obama had 245,467 more votes than John McCain here compared to Kerry’s 226,893 edge over Bush.   Obama won Ohio 198,847 votes.

Once the breakdown of the numbers comes in we’ll have a better understanding of just what it was that kept the turnout from being what was expected.


November 4, 2008

If the election is close there will be things you need to look for and just as importantly look past as the first numbers come in.   

*A quarter million early votes have been cast already in Cuyahoga County, the counting of those votes will begin on Election Day itself, they won’t be tabulated though until the polls close so if that is done at 7:30 those numbers could show a huge advantage to Barack Obama but won’t be reflective of the County as a whole. 

*John Kerry won Cuyahoga County by 227,000 votes yet lost the state by 118,000.  Obama’s camp will be looking for at least a 300,000 vote lead coming out the Cuyahoga.  

*Look at the early numbers in Lake & Stark for a more even guess at what the state will do.

*At 7 p.m. the polls close in Indiana, Virginia & Georgia.  If they are called early for Obama it could be an early night.

*At 7:30 Ohio and North Carolina close, again crucial to McCain. 

*Pennsylvania polls close at 8 but traditionally the early numbers that come in tend to favor Democrats because they’re coming from Philadelphia and Allegheney Counties.  The “T” of the state, the northern tier and central counties which tend to vote Republican also tend to come in late.  If the race is tight early it bodes well for McCain.


November 1, 2008

TIME:    3:30 – til  ? 

WHEN:  Election Day


Election Day is by far one of my favorite days of the year and now in a way like never before you get to see why as we go live behind the scenes of Newschannel 5 on the web starting at 3:30 in the afternoon and ending who knows when.

We’ll look at what’s happening with the election locally and nationally, talk to the reporters who are covering the key races and break it all down with an all-star team of political analysts.

A TV newsroom is a fascinating place on any day but election day it rises to a new level and when it does you have the best seat in the house to see how we put it all together.

My love of election day dates back to when I was in kid stuffing doors for candidates to when I was eventually able to skip school and work the polls.  By college I was a paid staffer and after college I worked fulltime in politics before putting my Journalism degree to work 19 years ago.

Over the course of the last two decades I’ve had a front row seat for alot of huge races but this year may be the one that tops them all.  Kick back, relax, and enjoy the ride with us on Tuesday! 
Chicago DNC 1996

Chicago 1996 DNC