Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Making Peace with Baked Goods

Over the past month, I've been following the election contest between Norm Coleman and Al Franken for the last outstanding federal senate seat. I've watched one election official after another came to the stand to testify on the minutia of what happened in their precincts and verifying facts about individual ballots. All were forthright and honest in their testimony regardless of their political leaning, but near the end of the contestant's case Pamela Howell took the stand. That's when things got interesting.

In Minnesota, it's standard practice to pair up election judges so that every precinct has an equal number of judges from each of the major parties. Ms. Howell was a Republican judge but unlike other Republican judges that previously took the stand, her desire to have Norm Coleman win this election was obvious.

This is my spin on her time in court. For
a complete play-by-play, there's plenty of coverage out there.

Wed, Feb 25 - Ms. Powell takes the stand. Team Coleman
(i.e. his lawyers) gets the first shot at questioning her and everything goes nicely, but as Team Franken begins the cross examination all that changes. Her answers become more and more terse. When questions arise that would disadvantage Team Coleman, she gives answers that are clearly intended to hide details. As she gets more and more nervous, she starts answering, "uh huh" instead of, "yes" to many questions, eventually being repremanded by the judges for doing so. For her, this is not going good.

During cross examination it's found that a document she produced after the recount and gave to Team Coleman was never given to Team Franken. Team Franken asks to have her testimony stricken. The court takes recess to allow them to receive and review the document. After the break, more questioning reveals that Team Coleman showed a copy of the document to Ms. Howell and talked with her about it during the recess - a double no-no. The court grants the motion to have her testimony stricken and dismisses her.

Fri, Feb 27 - The court reconsiders it's motion and allows Ms. Howell to take the stand again (way to go, judges - erring on the side of prudence making it less likely an appeal will succeed). Very quickly, Team Franken reveals that there are more e-mails and documents that were not given to them and once again ask not only to have the testimony stricken, but to also impose sanctions on Team Coleman for the flagrant violation of discovery rules.

Mon, Mar 2 - The court rules on the motion, limiting testimony and imposing a $7,500 file on Team Coleman. Ms. Howell completes her testimony but not before sharing this nugget:
Howell told Lillehaug [of Team Franken] she didn't make a public statement earlier because, "I did not want the press at my door ... a target on my back." She said she felt vulnerable as a Republican living in largely DFL south Minneapolis. - Star Tribune
This invoked sympathy from me. Sometimes I think through the, "If I were famous ..." scenario and all the privacy I would lose. Imagine how much worse the, "If I were infamous ..." scenario would be. Protesters in front of my house waving signs and throwing all forms of rotten vegetable matter at my doors and windows. My car with all the tires flattened. Bill O'Reilly's producer constantly calling me to get an interview. Ugh!

This girl is afraid of us and all the nasty things we could do, but that's not what we're all about. We're all about the love, and if there's one thing that's really apparent, this girl really needs to feel the love.

So today I call on all her DFL neighbors to do exactly that. Bring her cookies and pies. Offer help by shoveling her driveway and clearing her gutters. Invite her over for a fondu dinner and talk about everthing that interests her.

Who knows. In the end we may get a convert.

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