Tuesday, May 14, 2013

The irony of the Clarion-Ledger's complaining

Brian Eason complained in the Clarion-Ledger he could not get precinct totals from the City Clerk's office in Jackson the day after the election last week:

"I called the Jackson city clerk’s office around 11 a.m. Wednesday asking for precinct-level election results from the Tuesday primary. These are the sort of results that are usually available online without anyone having to ask.

I was asked to file a public records request, which I did. Then an hour later, a deputy clerk explained that information “was not available until they certify the election.” Now, that may sound reasonable, but this information is routinely made available by other governments prior to certification.

Indeed, we weren’t the only ones flummoxed by the city’s decision on this. Jonathan Lee’s campaign couldn’t get the precinct data either, something it needed in order to launch its next wave of outreach efforts before the primary. “I probably asked 100 times, ‘do we have precinct data yet?’ ” said Hannah Orlansky, Lee’s spokeswoman.

Stymied by City Hall, I embarked on a fishing expedition.

I called state Sen. David Blount, who is on the board of the Democratic Municipal Election Committee. He didn’t have the results, but suggested I call the chairman, Claude McInnis. McInnis had given his only copy away, but he promised to help me the next day if needed.

I called council members, none of whom had what I needed.

I called the mayor’s office, which has no power over the clerk. Spokesman Chris Mims empathized with my plight. Then, when I suggested in jest that he was part of an elaborate cover-up, Mims laughed and said, “I don’t care if you see them.”

But at last I landed on a promising lead. I called Robert Graham, president of the Hinds County Board of Supervisors, who connected me with ES&S, the company that ran the election machines. The employee I talked to, Bill Lowe, was uncomfortable giving me the data without the city’s permission. But he assured me that he had emailed the information to City Clerk Brenda Pree that morning, so it shouldn’t be difficult to get.

If only life were that simple.

With me on the line, Lowe called Pree and asked if I could have the information. But rather than email it to me herself, or simply allow Lowe to send it my way — a procedure that would have taken roughly 10 seconds — she tells him to tell me to call Claude McInnis, who had already given away the one paper copy she gave him.

After five hours of trying, I finally walked to City Hall in person, with my editor in tow to raise a ruckus. There we found Pree, who acted surprised that we had had any trouble at all. “I promise you, it’s not secret,” Pree said. “I gave it to the person I thought would take care of it.”

I, for one, am shocked that giving a single paper copy to one person in a city of 175,000 instead of posting it online wasn’t an effective way to “take care of it.”

All this complaining and yet he doesn't post the precinct totals on the CL website. What was the point of spending so much time and space on this story if the newspaper is not going to post the records?  Is this the Catholic Church of the 1200's where only the monks could read the Bible?   JJ was able to get the precinct reports on Thursday evening, two days after the election and posted them within a few hours for all of you to read. If you would like to read them, here they are. Its the only source for them in the media as far as I can tell.


Anonymous said...

Another ominous sign for Hinds that Lt. Robert Graham of the Jackson Police Department is now the defacto spokesperson for the Hinds County Election Commission. Not only in the column above but in other articles since the election he has operated as the voice of the commission.

The fact that Lt. Graham is directly interfacing with the vendor's employee about the machines and the results should worry anyone and everyone concerned with election fairness.

Anonymous said...

"JJ was able to get the precinct reports on Thursday evening, two days after the election and posted them within a few hours for all of you to read. If you would like to read them, here they are. Its the only source for them in the media as far as I can tell."

That's because you are the about the only reporter in town doing what newspaper reporters used to do. The Clarion Ledger is about as deep as a TV newscast.

From The Grave said...

And we think this sort of shit exists only in the mid east and central america? It's right under our noses and just as corrupt. Where's Dagburt?

Anonymous said...

The CL is a JOKE.

Anonymous said...

Gosh. I read the entire post and then saw the headline again. Irony is not really the word that comes to mind. I probably would use a stronger word. Whining at busy pols at the end of a long day is the way to get denied,

Another way to not get results, and to look like a worm at the same time, is to write whining columns like Eason's here.

I doubt the KF uses such ineffective approaches to get what he wants.

Kingfish said...

Go look at Mr. Eason's blog. ;-)

Anonymous said...

Got Link?

Not a liberal said...

The clerk of the city should have a paper copy for the newspaper of record for the city and state. Why obfuscate election results? Clerks and deputy clerks share paper copies all day long. The secretary of state and chancery clerks do the same... We have a city clerk who serves the mayor first, the council second, and the citizen last.

Anonymous said...

Lol Some cheese to go with the whine? Here is a link to the Brian Eason blog KF referenced. Bonus JJ shout out today.

" A local blog, Jackson Jambalaya, called us out today for 1. Complaining about the unavailability of precinct results and then 2. Not actually making the precinct results available to the public once we got them."


Kingfish said...

I'm going to give you the full story of what happened in the morning. There is a reason they were not posted quickly online. I don't think you peeps are going to like the answer, either.

Anonymous said...

8;46 - small correction. Lt Graham was not speaking for the HINDS COUNTY Election Commission (which he did try to take over last year when his lakey, Jamel Clark, couldn't do his job as Chairman and Lt Graham tried to blame it on other commissioners) but now he was trying to speak for the JACKSON Democrat Municipal Committee and the Jackson City Clerk.

By law, it was the Democrat Committee (Claude McGinnis, Chairman) that was supposed to produce these reports AND make them public. By law, these are to be posted for public inspection - at each precinct and also at the City Hall when compiling the total of the precincts.

Why it wasn't done is a good question. And it isn't just "the press" that is entitled to have these for inspection - any member of the public should have been able to inspect the total.

But hey, its Jackson. And its the Democrat committee. Same fiasco as 2011 and the county elections (see Sheriff race). But, what would you expect when idiots are in charge of the asylum?

Anonymous said...

Kingfish said "Go look at Eason's blog". I did. No revelation there. Eason seems a very non-confrontational and competent journalist/correspondent, unlike Mr. Fish.

Anonymous said...

EnGuarde 5:23; The Kaptain will tell you to go get your own blog!

Anonymous said...

Eason seems a very non-confrontational and competent journalist/correspondent, unlike Mr. Fish.

Thanks for reading and posting!

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