Sunday, August 5, 2007

Average Joe makes splashes, not waves

To cast Joe Finley as "David" to Don Plusquellic's "Goliath" might be too kind in this one-act play that opens in next month's election. When you think about it, a majority in the crowd were rooting for David that day; I can't say that I feel the masses are embracing Finley in that same way.

Finley's making headlines that's for sure, but I'm wondering if his methods will actually lead to any votes coming his way on September 11th? He's tossed out an audacious press release that he actually had a challenger when the Don filed his petitions to seek re-election. He's challenged the Mayor to a whopping 10 debates -- one for each ward. Most recently, Finley accused the Mayor of violating the city charter in receiving campaign contributions and asks that Plusquellic pay a $45,000 fine. In the words of my 10-year-old, "Good luck with that!"

Each of these attacks get headlines but do any of them make Finley more attractive as a candidate? Do they tell the community anything about what JF might do differently if he were Akron's King for a day?

The only fresh idea to which I heard Finley's named attached was a plan to consider Rolling Acres Mall as a home for the proposed Bass Pro Shop instead of building the mega-product-provider a new home on the East side. I'm not even sure it's JF's idea, but I at least heard his name supporting it.

Average Joe's own campaign website lists the name "Plusquellic" 11 times on the front page alone, which is only two fewer than the frequency that Finley's own name appears. How's that for distancing yourself from your opponent?

At a time when Akron is fighting to maintain jobs while losing 1,000+ residents yearly from its population, ankle biting isn't going to cut it when you want to be the king. Few are giving JF a slingshot-of-a-chance against a political giant deemed "Mayor for Life" by some pundits because his numbers seem unbeatable.

I don't pretend to believe that I'd have a good strategy for Finley or any candidate who would take on an incumbent with the resources and tenure as DP. Still, I'd hope the person taking out petitions would spend more time telling me how he'd represent 200,000+ people instead of just picking a fight with one.


Anonymous said...

I keep hearing (some) people say that Finley has a "better plan" for Akron but I have not yet heard what that plan is.

It seems to me to be a lot like the Dem's campaign against W in 2004. They were too busy running AGAINST him to work up their own campaign. Of course, Finley does not have anything as catastrophic as the war in Iraq to use as ammunition -- and even with that, teh Dems could not snatch victory out of the jaws of American disinterest.

I am curious about Joe's "plan" for Akron . . . but I suspect that his only plan is for The Don to no longer be the Mayor. And that is not much a plan . . .

Warner said...

Plans include: filling the thousands of vacant houses in Akron by leveraging City resources and HUD programs to boost population and homeownership; Cutting the expenditures by the Mayor's office by at least one million dollars to shift that spending to police; implementing the program for jobs training that was supposed to be linked to the school rebuilding projects; addressing health care issues by supporting a Single Payor Ohio Health Insurance program and examining the Massachusetts and San Francisco health care programs to see what ideas are relevant to Akron. And much more. Thanks for asking.

Anonymous said...

How much has the AkCan't News been covering Joe? He has had several news conferences on housing, crime, and zoning. He will have more in the coming weeks I'm sure. It's not whether Joe HAS a plan, it whether that plan is covered by reporters.

Anonymous said...

With all due respect Eric, the media is making it look as though Finley is running a smear campaign against Plusquellic. The press hasn't covered any of the other Finley announcements or events.

I'm disappointed that the Akron media hasn't bothered to interview Joe Finley, the first democratic mayoral candidate to run since 1987.

Why is that? What good is the first amendment when the local media picks and chooses what it will report?

I like Finley's platform and think he'll be able to turn Akron around.

Eric Mansfield said...

All .. there are some good thoughts here, thanks for sharing.

I can't speak for other news organizations, but I can tell you that coverage often depends on timing and event competition. For example, JF's bike lanes press conference on July 14th didn't get coverage from us because it was on a Saturday afternoon at 2 p.m. Most TV stations have smaller staffs on weekends, and thus can't cover political events.

Likewise, JF's July 30th event in Kenmore was set for 8 a.m. Again, good luck getting media coverage at that hour. Other events of his may have fallen during days when there was heavy attention being paid to the Jessie Davis case or other news events. We can't be everywhere at once and neither can Rubber City Radio or the ABJ for that matter.

While some in the public may see a lack of coverage as "slighting" a candidate or story, I don't disagree. Still, our newsroom and the others in Akron for that matter are now run by smaller groups of people who cannot get to all stories set on a given day. Tough choices have to be made on what gets covered. Want more news? Buy more commercials and newspapers. It's that simple. I don't like it either, but it's part of the financial challenges that we face.

I see that JF has a function this Friday from 11-4 in Copley. That stands a much better chance of coverage than some previous events because it makes him available at a good hour for reporters.

I put in a request to interview JF two weeks ago via his MYspace account .. and I returned from vacation today to see that his people have called me back. So it'll happen. Most media will spend time with JF and other candidates as the election approaches. I'll be airing a full 30 minute episode (a 15-minute interview with JF and another 15 with DP) on NewsNight Akron on August 31st. Let me know what you think after that.

Again, keep the thoughts (criticisms welcome too) coming .. it's how we keep things interesting around here .. Eric

Anonymous said...


The JF Team is hosting a "Dopn't Complain; Get out and VOTE!", event, this Friday, August 10 at 776 Copley Road - 11 AM to 43 PM. I hope you will cover it. It's not during the weekend so you should have adequate staff. Uncle Sam will be there to greet everyone and deliver the message to get out and vote. Voter registration will also be available. It's you chance to hear the changes JF is considering, if elected, so you'll get a first hand glimpse at is plans.

Anonymous said...

I always find it interesting that Warner respinded on JF behalf, and another anonymous person sent the event information. In fact my friend attended the Kenmore event and when she asked about the Eastgate Urban Development JF let the Ward 2 councilman do all of his talking. Hopefully he will show up personally for your interview and not let someone else speak in his place.

Anonymous said...

Yes, it is nice that Joe Finley's campaign staff is frequenting this blog and posting these comments to keep its 400 or so readers informed of his plan for Akron . . . and taking Eric to task for his station's lack of JF coverage.

If only there was some other way to get this message out . . . very few Akronite's seem to be watching the Akron/Canton News as it is and it's getting kind of hard to find the Beacon as small as it seems to be these days. Are these the only ways we can think of to run a successful campaign?

I have lived in Akron for years and the only thing I really know about JF is that he is a long time critic and foe of the mayor. Same for Warner Mendenhall, of course. Seems like they would both be making a bigger and better effort to overcome this reputation if the campaign was really about a better plan for the city.

But as Eric's original post makes plain, even Joe Finley's campaign website seems to be as much about DP as it is about JF.

Anonymous said...

Joe finley's idea to put the Eastgate Development fishing place at Rolling Acres mall shows just how out of touch he is with economic reality. The demise of Rolling Acres is due almost exclusively to rampant shoplifting - despite the fact that many dont want to abmit it. No developer or retailer in their right mind would build their now.

Anonymous said...

Shoplifting is a fluid problem. It can be tackled. Is it too late for Roming Road area? Most likely. It had bad demographics to begin with. But the blame splits between Forest City when they went with Rent-A-Cops in the mid nineties and the current mayor who was no fan of Rolling Acres and had no interest in ending the hemorrhaging.