Friday, April 28, 2006

Stephanie Dumas

For Hamilton County Commissioner

It is no secret that I have been a volunteer for Stephanie Dumas in her campaign for Hamilton County Commissioner. It's also no secret that she has won my respect and admiration.

What you may not know is why.

My interest in her campaign began when Nate Livingston (Cincinnati Black Blog) and The Dean of Cincinnati (The Cincinnati Beacon) both posted on their blogs that Stephanie was running for Hamilton County Commissioner. This was news to me because all I'd ever heard from the local mainstream press (cough*The Cincinnati Enquirer*cough) was that David Pepper would be running as the Democratic candidate against Phil Heimlich, the Republican incumbent. At first I thought they might both be mistaken since I’d heard nothing about it, but I went to the League of Women Voters Smart Voter website and Stephanie Dumas was listed as a candidate.

Nate and Jason both reiterated the same message. It looked as though Stephanie Dumas was either not going to be covered or would be given backhanded coverage by the local mainstream press and for various reasons, none of them good. The fact that Stephanie is African American and also female is unacceptable to venues like the Enquirer and their powerful cronies. The fact that the name Dumas has no political scandal or corruption attached to it made her candidacy a non-story.

Nate and Jason also pointed out that Stephanie is a qualified candidate with governmental and work experience that I feel exceeds her Democratic opponent and is the equal of the incumbent Republican opponent. The fact that she actually has experience and that this would exclude her from media coverage may leave you puzzled as it did me. The reason became clear to me, after watching this season’s crop of negative campaign ads, that a candidate's perceived shortcomings will always be trumpeted in the most repugnant, crude and base manner. A candidate who is experienced and capable but otherwise considered persona-non-grata will always be denounced or simply ignored.

What the mainstream media hasn’t said about Stephanie is far more important than their initial lack of coverage and subsequent one article hatchet job. They have had from the moment months ago when Stephanie declared her candidacy until this final week leading up to the primary election to throw dirt and sling mud however their shovels and slingshots have obviously come up empty. There are no ads, flyers or rumors purporting anything against her. I think the Enquirer and her opponents realize that Stephanie, politically, is what she maintains to be: an experienced, competent and knowledgeable candidate who is more able to do the job of a Hamilton County Commissioner.

The issues around lack of media coverage for Stephanie Dumas deeply offended my sense of fair play. Also, my political consciousness has, in the past few years, been awakened and enlightened by the current events of the day. I find that I cannot be one of the people who sit back and watch these events occur around them. I refuse to blame other people for making decisions that effect me if I have not been an active, participating citizen in those decisions.

Having empathy, time and the inclination to support a cause are a good start but I did not feel they were solely good reasons to volunteer. I feel sorry for George Bush sometimes but I’d never work on a campaign for him. So, I Googled Stephanie and came up with a few articles. Gleaning that she had previously been the Mayor of Forest Park, I called some family and friends who lived out that way and made inquiries. They all knew who she was and all had nothing but good things to say. All reports being favorable, I went ahead and emailed the Dumas campaign to find out when their next meeting would be and received a response detailing time, date and directions.

I arrived at that first campaign meeting with several aims in mind. I wanted to meet Stephanie and find out what type of person I would be supporting if I decided to volunteer. I wanted to know what message her campaign intended to convey and I especially if she intended to participate in negative campaigning against her opponents. I wanted to know what credentials made her the qualified candidate Nate and Jason believed her to be. And I wanted to know what agenda she had in mind for the office she was running for. I had no intention of staying or volunteering if I didn't like what I saw or heard.

I arrived early and there was only one other car in the parking lot. Another car pulled in immediately behind us and someone walked into the building. I thought at the time it was a campaign staffer, but it turned out to be Stephanie. Before I could get out of my car, the building alarm went off with a deafening screech. After a few minutes and a calm cell phone call by Stephanie, the problem was rectified. A small thing, but you can tell a lot about people by how they deal with small hiccups in their plans and she handled this with aplomb.

Other people began to arrive. After dealing with the alarm, she greeted everyone warmly and by first name, even me, "You must be Deborah, I'm Stephanie" before I could introduce myself. I found out later that even in a roomful of folks it was, for her, an easy process of elimination. I was the only person there she didn't already know personally.

Despite a packed agenda and roomful of busy people with lots of ideas, Stephanie made time to introduce me to everyone and talk with me personally regarding the campaign and her purpose. I liked the fact that when she spoke, it was with an unrehearsed conviction that I know from experience cannot be taught or practiced. She simply knows what she knows and wants to be of service to our community and county. Stephanie is not deterred by lack of media coverage for reasons that are so simple, yet are a good find in a political aspirant.

The reasons have to do with two other areas where Stephanie could never be maligned: honesty and personal integrity. Many people talk about it and wink at politicians who espouse it as a value.

You cannot talk to Stephanie for more than five minutes without knowing that she means it and lives it.

There is a strong sentiment among her supporters that Stephanie's habit of putting into practice what she preaches regarding open government and spending is one reason her opponents and their influential friends believe she cannot be allowed into office. It’s almost a cliché that honesty, for some politicians, must be circumvented if at all possible. It seems one person can do much to uphold honesty and I believe Stephanie Dumas to be one of those people.

Stephanie talks about corruption and wasteful spending with a trace of disgust that is genuinely disdainful of the act and people who practice it as a way of politics that cannot be avoided. She will quickly tell you that it can be avoided if, once in office, our officials honor the trust given to them by the people who elect them.

However Stephanie doesn't linger on the negatives long. It is clear that Stephanie does not believe you have to push others down to bring yourself up. She does not condone or participate in derision of her opponents. Her message is simply that she feels she can do the job better given the chance to do so and that she has the record to back it up.

Stephanie talks about what must be done with a brisk, no nonsense attitude that leaves you with the impression of someone rolling up their sleeves and doing a dirty job that must be done despite any qualms to the contrary. She never displays an attitude of hopelessness. She feels that there are problems, yes, but that they can also be fixed if only people are willing to step up to the plate. She has stepped up and would like your support.

Stephanie has all the warmth and humor that denotes the mother-sister-friend she is to many. However her laid back demeanor, while authentic, is not all there is to Stephanie Dumas. Jokes, offtopic assides or satellite issues cannot sidetrack her. Stephanie is one to bring things back into perspective; to kindly and politely but quite pointedly remind you of your main objective and quickly get things back on track. Underestimate her friendliness and humor at your own risk. Her intelligence and wit are in action behind that smile.

After talking in depth with Stephanie Dumas, I understand why David Pepper has declined every opportunity to debate her in an open forum where he would be on his own and have to think on his feet without being coached first.

Stephanie would wipe the dust with him.

She would be the last to brag about it, so I will do it for her. The Enquirer falsely attributed two similar statements to her, which they have not and will probably never retract. To make my meaning clear, yes I’m accusing the Enquirer of outright lying. She was not pleased at their mischaracterization of her as boastful and mean-spirited. If she chastises me for bragging on her behalf when she reads this I will accept it wholeheartedly because I have said nothing untrue and because she does not believe in tooting her own horn - only working hard and getting the job done.

Which, after all is what we want in those we trust to our government offices: people who practice what they preach and understand that when we elect them, we don't give them carte blanch to do as they wish and that we are trusting them with our more than our tax dollars. We are trusting them with our homes and our lives; our liberty and our future.

If you would like to support a candidate who not only understands but also will honor this important part of the social contract - then you can do no better than to vote Stephanie Dumas as the Democratic Candidate for the office of Hamilton County Commissioner.

Stephanie, it has been a privilege to volunteer for you and I wish you all success.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Six Things

I guess you can only go so long before getting tagged by an evil shadow that lurks the internet called a meme. Scarbie Doll at Martinis For Milk tagged me with this one:

Six Things That May Make You Like Me Less.

Gosh this was hard to write. I tried to decide whether I should go for the "harmlessly benign" or "I'm going to regret this honesty" and decided on honesty. You may really just like me less after this. Read it all the way through before you decide.

Here goes.

1. I have a horrible, screaming, throwing things, insane psycho bitch temper for exactly one week every month thereby perpetuating the stereotype for all women.

I am the one they write sitcom sketches about. Three weeks out of every month I am fine. My normal personality is laid back, easy going, thoughtful and kind. I can weather even the worst traumas, emergencies and tragedies with aplomb. Catch me on the wrong week and you will hate me. I am bloated, depressed, irritable, angry and I will fucking cut your throat and eat your liver if you so much as look at me cross-eyed. It takes a few days and then I go through a weepy stage where I walk around tearily issuing blanket apologies for anything that I may have said or done to piss you off in the past week that I may not have cared about at the time and conveniently don't remember.

2. Sometimes I lie to Ye Old Matey and say I forgot to walk the dogs when what really happened is I was just procrastinating watching the Brady Bunch on TV Land or blogging or reading someone else's blog and I just ran out of time and had to make a last second dash to work. I'm not late if I get there before everyone else and the blasted dogs are hell to walk. He goes to work early and gets home early so they can wait a leetle while. Sometimes. Sorry for that mess in the garage the other day, honey. I hope he never reads this. He is going to have a fit.

3. I don't like white people, black people, Americans or foreigners, native borns or immigrants, Catholics or Protestants, Jews or Gentiles, Democrats or Republicans, conservatives or liberals, ghetto people or bourgeois people, men or women, blonds or brunettes or stupid people who think labels that divide us more than unite us are really important. Well, maybe except for the Men / Women thing. I don't like unisex public bathrooms so that may just be an important distinction. For the record, I do like moms, dads, geeks, smart people, friendly people, quirky people and the occasional cute puppy, kitten or kid. I probably like you, just not everyone else. Mean people, go away.

4. I do not do dishes. Two years ago, six years into my relationship with Ye Old Matey, I stopped doing dishes. I will clean everything else in the house but I hate cooking and dishes and I just won't do it anymore. I can cook, but he does it better. He's more organized (he could show Martha Stewart a thing or two) whereas my cooking style is a tad more chaotic (no one will notice the dishes piled under the sink for a while, will they?) So, I quit doing KP except for emergencies (like when he's sick or for special holiday stuff). He doesn't like it much but since he doesn't have to clean anything else except the dogs he doesn't complain much either.

5. I like my boss. There. I said it. After drudging at a million crappy jobs I hated for people I hated even more, I finally have a job I like and a boss I love like family. It took us a while to get used to each other, but she's a wonderful, kind, understanding person who puts up with my quirks, foibles and weird time schedules as long as I get the work done. If having a boss I love doesn't turn you pea green with envy, nothing will.

6. I am fat and happy. OK. Not all the time, but most of the time. I mean winter is a great time to have your own natural insulation but to be fat in summer can be a tad trying. It's only April and I'm already up to four showers a day. By July it will be six and by August eight but you can be fat and clean or fat and stay home. I will be fat and clean.

However I refuse to feel guilty for being fat. Lately it seems every media outlet is on this bent to make fat people feel guilty like smokers. Smokers and fat people are the last people in America to say, 'Screw it, if I die early, that's my own damn business.' Only problem is, it seems smokers want to take everyone else with them whereas fat people really do die on the weight of their own merits. If you are fat and a smoker, well damn. That's some Fight Club type death wish stuff I just can't touch.

I went shopping the other day and although I think I had to try on stuff more than the usual skinny person, I found plenty of stuff to wear that looked great. Yet I have to endure "the look" from skinny women. You know, the look that you give a one-legged man in a wheelchair when you act like you're not staring but you are staring and you're all sad for him but trying not to show it. Yeah, that look. Well cut it out. For me and the one-legged man.

For now, I try to get more exercise (OK, I will stop shirking walking the dogs, I swear) and we definitely eat better (more veggies and chicken, less beef, pork and potatoes). Lately I'm drinking less soda and more orange juice and water. I've lost 15 pounds since last August (totally by accident, but I'll tell you, getting a job that keeps me running up and down stairs instead of sitting on my ass answering phones and hitting the vending machine every 15 minutes has done wonders, not to mention the lack of stress) and I'm looking forward to losing some more but I'm not in a hurry. My man still enjoys the shade. Take that skinny women!

OK, now that you know more about me than you ever wanted to, let's move on to the tag. Paticipate if you wish.

A Goofy Ass Emotional Chick
TO Mama at MUBAR
Nick Spencer
David Cowan at Who Has Time For This
Moreena at Falling Down Is Also a Gift

Tag, you're it.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Dear God...

Regardless of words said, not said and misunderstood.

Joy Rolland and Kabaka Oba, you are in my prayers at this moment.

May the Hand of the Lord guide you both through this dark hour. May everything turn out all right.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

A Mom's Work is Never Done

I love to type and Blogging can give me a rush like nothing else. The smooth feel of the keys beneath my fingers except for the tiny bumps on J and F to keep me on home while I'm typing in the dark because my husband type guy, "Ye Old Matey", is sleeping and what he calls my "angry typing" will wake him soon enough.

I must admit that when I type fast and loud, it's usually because I'm debating some all-important point about politics or deodorant out in cyberspace. Even when I'm not defending the merits of unscented versus everything else, I type pretty fast and I have never learned how to keep a keyboard silent. I learned back in the days of electric typewriters where you had to smack every key with the force of an anvil to get a letter out and that habit continues today. Playing the piano also requires a variety of touches and sometimes force, but playing in public still leaves me nervous and shaking. Typing is a comforting movement where I can get the words out nearly as fast as they sing into my mind. No matter how quiet or slow I try to be, eventually I'm playing my on sonata on the keys and eventually I wake HIM up. Oh, well, he needed to get up anyway. I know I said I'd walk the dogs but if they whine long enough, he'll do it and I won't have to.

My last blog entry is dated March 26. Prior to that I was at least blogging every week or so, mainly updating on Fridays. And even though March 26 doesn't seem that long to me, I've gotten some very pointed emails all asking me pretty much the same polite question: "What the hell in real life can be so important that you don't write anything for two weeks?"

On Friday, April 7 my life flipped upside down. The frantic, busy schedule I've been living through for the past two weeks was forgotten in an instant.

My daughter "Arabella" and her friend "Ashley" were walking home from school Friday afternoon. Ashley mentioned that she was going to New Jersey to visit her mother for the week of Spring Break. And Arabella says, "Aw, I wish I could go with you." Ashley, for whatever reason, takes her seriously and says, "OK."

On Saturday, I get a call at work from my husband type guy, Ye Old Matey, to find out what he should cook for dinner and as a parting aside mentioned, "Arabella's friend wants to take her to New Jersey." We both laugh and make "Jersey Girl" movie jokes (all praises to Kevin Smith).

Our laughter was short lived. Ashley's mom as it turns out is "exceedingly generous" and was more than willing to buy Arabella a plane ticket on Ashley's flight even though Ashley was leaving - get this - the next day (Sunday). Ashley doesn't like to fly and she would be happier having a friend on the flight. They were more than happy to host Arabella for a week and give her a tour of New York. Between the Mom and the full time Nanny the girls would be supervised 24 hours a day. Ashley's Dad met Ye Old Mate and myself at our house when I got off work and assured me that the girls would be fine and he also thought the trip was a good idea.

After I picked my jaw up from the floor, we had a calm frenzy of parental conversations (in person from Ashley's dad and Ashley's mom by cell phone), the moment of capitulation "Well, I guess it's not such a bad idea and when will they be back?" which happened around 6pm in the evening. My plans had been to go to the $2 movie and come home sleepy and exhausted and planning more spontaneous spring break fun with my kid.

Well it's a good thing I'd planned on being sleepy and exhausted. I spent a frantic evening hair washing and braiding until 2 a.m. (learn how to do your child's hair while they're asleep when they're young, it pays off in spades later), several rounds of laundry, sewing and packing until 4 a.m. I slept for a brisk four hours, got up at 8 and went back to sewing, packing and matching socks from the dryer.

Despite my mother's constant "Are you sure you want to let her do this?" and Ye Old Matey's approving silence (I can just tell) I put my daughter on a plane to Newark on Sunday afternoon.

It was not my first time putting her on a plane, but my daughter was headed off to New York City, a place I still haven't been.

Yet, I let her go.

It seems I'm destined to put her on a plane to every major American city as least once before she's 18. Her first plane trip was to Chicago to visit her "Other Dad" (biological Dad), now she's off to New York and it seems Los Angeles and San Francisco may be in the works for 2007. And even America's not big enough; she wants to take Japanese for the next four years with a goal of visiting Japan when she graduates from high school.

It's almost more than my heart can take, this business of letting go and sending my daughter to venture out into the world without me. Of smiling and waving cheerily and even pushing her a little to board a plane and watch it take off with the very breath of my life on board. Waiting for the smile that's plastered on my face to fade after a few hours while my heart slowly breaks. Why oh why did I nudge her in the direction of the plane when all I wanted to do was grab her, hold her close to me and never, ever, let go?

I find that time ticks by very slowly without her. Although thanks to the miracle of cell phones, scarcely a few hours have gone by that I haven't actually spoken to her, it's not the same. Even though I'm really pissed at T-Mobile right now, I have declared a cease-fire in my vendetta against them until she returns.

Luckily I do have some other things to fill my time while she's gone. I still have to go to work every day. I'm also an American and it just so happens that I have an entire Democratic Republic to help fix before it goes to hell in hand basket. I could focus on all the national scandals, namely the pedophile working at the head Homeland Security (good grief!) but there are also battles on the local front to be fought and won. I'm still working on the Dumas campaign to elect her to the office of Hamilton County Commissioner and there's our local newspaper that's just begging to be boycotted (along with their advertisers).

I guess if I'm going to send my daughter out into the world, I can keep busy making it a better place for her to be.

What else is a mother to do?