RootsCamp 2010 ( That’s Twentyten)

The 2010 Ohio Rootscamp – a grassroots convention – was  attended by about 160 people at the OCSEA Union Hall on Saturday 6 March 2010.

Erin Upchurch, Social Worker at Columbus AIDS Task Force. provided the welcome, and then introduced Ohio Treasurer Kevin Boyce .

Mr. Boyce reviewed his life and its motivation for getting into politics: he was raised in a housing project, and his Dad – a Vietnam Vet –  was murdered. He was the first in his family to attend college , went on to a career in public service, and observed that being a good politician requires being a good person . Success, he learned, is a product of much hard work, and it also brings responsibility.

An outstanding Candidate.

Doug Kelly of the ODP then talked about “The Knockout in 2010 ”, and motivated us that we must elect Democrats to keep the Apportionment Board.

Lauren Wargo , also of the ODP, told us: the GOP is organized and energized , but the ODP is strong, where we have been, and where we need to go, and that we need to hold OH in 2010 .

We then had our first breakout session.

N.B.: a breakout session is what happens to an adolescent on the day of the big dance.

In the first breakout session I attended we discussed Niccolo Machiavelli and his influence on politics.

Of his two works – “The Prince “ and “Discourses” – the former is better known. It is from it that most of what we term “ Machiavellian” originates, while the latter was a more general political treatise which introduced terms such as “checks and balances”, anticipating some of the political philosophy of the 17th and 18th centuries. From Bertrand Russell: “The doctrine of the Prince makes no attempt at giving pious advice on how to be a virtuous ruler. He recognizes that there are evil practices which are conducive to the acquisition of political power. Machiavellian takes on a sinister and derogatory meaning. He did not advocate villainy – his field of enquiry lies outside of good and evil. He should not be attacked for documenting practices common at the time in Italy.”

One cannot understand modern politics while remaining ignorant of Machiavelli.

We then had a union provided lunch, and heard a keynote from Gov. Ted Strickland .

Ted has an honest, upbeat handle on what is happening. His perception of where we are:

o In Jan 09, when the Obama administration took office:

– that month we had lost 700,000 jobs

– auto industry in dire straights

– we were on the verge of a great depression

o Now

– new leaders at GM said 3rd shift 1200 jobs in lordstown and 59mill $ in Defiance, Oh

– will pay back loans and $700 Mil interest (e.g. ‘bailout’)

– the stimulus has pulled us out of free fall

+  it has provided $2 billion in OH used to provide essential services to people in need &

+ 1/3 more in infrastructure in OH than any time in history

– we must focus on jobs

o funding from feds at same level as 2003

o positives:

– steel seeing increases in orders

– US Steel investing 400mil in Leipzig and 250 in Lorain

– wind component company from Germany may locate in Toledo

– Solar companies in Toledo

o we need a manufacturing policy

– on our way

– need to remember those in need

o DNC,DCCC,ODP size rank -the ODP is third

o we can win again in 2012 with OH

o other side is energized

o our base is not as energized

o Grassroots org is our trump card

o John Kasich

– Lehman Bros

– Fox news

– eliminate estate tax (80% goes to local gov)

– eliminate SIT TS says most irresponsible policy ever

o take this across the state

o From John Lewis (D-GA): we should never give up, never give out, and never give in

o we must be prepared for the toughest campaign in our memory.

Ted shared with us that in the 2008 campaign, he would tell supporters that at about 11:30 on election night of 2008, Bill O’Reilly of Fox would – tears streaming down his face – announce that Barack Obama had been elected President of the United States.  I was wrong, he admitted: It was 9:45.

N.B.: in “Sleep Walking Through History”, author Hayes Johnson notes that when he wishes to know what is happening, he listens to the Governors.

Breakout session on Republican crimes: Cliff Arnebeck (Atty)

o first victim of Republican crime was John McCain

o committed treason against US in 2000: Rove & Blackwell & Tom Donahue

o prongs of Conspiracy: steal states and us courts

o Blackwell didn’t say: he brought into state office gov tech, smart tech, triad

o same team that was involved in election theft of FL 2000

o Iraq war: election theft cover & reelection prop

o made war go on to secure election

o we must issue new emancipation proclamation.

Brian Rothenberg

o organize online to off line, and you may use

o twitter and facebook

tea party

o Who are they?

o should we worry?

o where will there supporters come from: D’s or R’s?

o Thus far, their election success has been almost nil

Brian Rothenberg spoke on closing, and introduced David Pepper – an excellent candidate for auditor of state .

Roots Camp Ohio, 2009

I spend Saturday Feb 7 and Sunday Feb 8 at Rootscamp 2009 in Columbus – a statewide gathering for hard core activists-  and I Am Buzzed! The weekend began with a stop for cocktails and conversation at a place becoming Well Known to Me.  Ran into several friends,  including lobbyist Bob Lambert, and – in casual conversation with a man I have seen but had never gone past hello – I found out that he does business with my aquaintences  Steve and Beth Jordan.  He has been to their house in Wadsworth, and knew what their kids were doing: small world.  Up early on Sat morning, as I wanted to get to Columbus by 8:30 for a 9am start – the effective start was at 9:30.  I was there representing Ohioans for Democratic Values.

Lee Fisher gave us a motivating talk Sat AM, and he told us that the seminal event that send him into progressive  politics was on May 5, 1970.  (Actually, it was May 4, Lee – May 5 is Karl Marx’s birthday!)  He was a freshman at Oberlin at the time, and – for some reason – the shootings of students at Kent State had struck a cord.  Anthony Fossaceca of Ohio Daily Blog was there, and you can see his detailed interview with Lee at

The format is to get together at the start, at the end, and at lunch: the rest of the time is presentations in break-out sessions. (No – a breakout session is not what happens to adolescents before the prom!).  I gave two presentations: one on “What we can learn from the great depression”, the other my Senior Voice talk on Medicare.  The former – which I had created out of whole cloth – was also very well received.  These sessions were in classrooms – about the same era as my undergrad days, and I was able to write on the boards with chalk!   At lunch, I was talking with a man who had been at my first session, and he told me that he had been on the school board at Bowling Green for 20 years.  I asked him if he knew Mike Schertzer, an ag-ed teacher at BGHS.  He spoke very highly of Mike.  “How do you know him?” he asked.  His wife is my wife’s cousin – small world.  This man also told me at some length that I should be a college teacher.  His profession?  Full professor of journalism at CMU.  We were privileged to have new Treasurer of State Kevin Boyce speak to us at lunch.

I attended several sessions that afternoon, and then went to my motel – a Red Roof in downtown.  Prepared myself for Close Encounters with Other Humans, and then walked over to a Max & Ermas for the evening repast.  I decided to find out what it would be like to sit at a bar, and I had a martini (tried it because if you are going to try drinking, you might as well appear to be sophisticated.)  To my left, there was a 20’s something couple, and I noticed that the lady- Very Attractive- was a very animated speaker.  Upon Further Review, I decided that they were ‘signing’.  I wondered which one – or if both – were  impaired.   That was answered when She spoke with a server.  As they left, I observed that his jaw looked slightly off sync, and wondered if it was family, professional help, or True Love: child of a lesser gene pool.  In any case, it was a heart warming experience, the kind that a neocon would never appreciate.

In the am, I had a ‘continental breakfast’ at the Red Roof, and went back to the Smith Lab at OSU for the second day of Rootscamp.  (BTW, the cost for ‘Sleep Cheap’ and casual dinning was $194.)

My daughter Valerie lives in Columbus, and is an RN at an OSU hospital, but she was in Chicago with friends this weekend.

One session I attended on Sunday was on media.  We decided that we will never take talk radio away from the conservatives, but that we own the internet: I’ll take that!  Another session I attended was on blogging, and this is the result.  It was lead by the above mentioned Anthony, and also by Nicholas DeCenzo- – check it out.

At the wrapup new AG Rich Cordray spoke, thanking us for our help, and bringing us up to date on both state and national issues.  Karen Gaspar is leaving America Votes after four years, to work for Rich – Thanks Karen.

This was the largest rootscamp outside of DC – now wonder we have turned Ohio around!

Saw some old friends, made some new one’s, drove home, and That Was The WeekEnd That Was…