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Thursday, December 29, 2005

delawareonline | The News Journal | Election head drops newspaper column
I've never read one of Mr Calio's columns, but this is a good decision. We've got a good election system in Delaware at the state level and I'd hate to see its fairness and impartiality called into question because of something like this. We need our election system to be above reproach. Obviously, Mr Calio (who I don't know) is a partisan Democrat. (Otherwise, why would Ruth Ann have appointed him to the job?)

I worked at the New Castle County Department of Elections during the summers of 1995 and 1995 and found the staff there to be very fair and interested only in running fair and honest elections. I'm still in contact with many people there; two I'm very good friends with and the others I see when I stop in. I still work for them running a polling place on the various primary and general election days. I try my hardest to fair to the voters and candidates and enforce the rules equally regardless of political affiliation. (For example, on Election Day 2004, the only voters I had to correct were Republicans who wore campaign stickers into the polling place, which is against the law.)

It matters a great deal that even the appearance of impropriety be avoided so I'm glad Mr. Calio dropped his column.
John Flaherty, lobbyist for Common Cause, said Calio made the right choice

"Given the controversies in Florida and Ohio during the past two presidential elections, you don't want to create the appearance of impropriety," Flaherty said. "He's doing the right thing in giving it up."

But Flaherty said he does not think Calio's action was a severe error.

"Frank may have made a mistake, but if he did, it pales in comparison to what [former Attorney General M.] Jane Brady did in soliciting secret contributions for candidates," he said.

This is why I've never really trusted Common Cause. Even though they're supposed to be about good government,it seems like they've always carried water for the Democrats. Why was it necessary to bring Jane Brady up? It wasn't unless you're trying to deflect away for partisan reasons. And an unbiased reporter should have recognized that and not even printed it. Especially since, as the article itself states, what Brady did was completely legal, while the actions of Mr. Calio are still being investigated by the Attorney General.

If there's a law that may have been broken, that's one thing. If not, he
's got the same 1st Amendment rights as anyone else.

I'd be curious as to what the law says on this.

Actually, people who work for the Department of Elections (as well as some other state offices) don't have the same 1st Amednment rights as other people. They're required, as a condition of employment, not to engage in partisan politics.

Without knowing the law exactly, Mr Calio's columns come a little too close to the line for comfort.

I agree. If it's a condition of employment, then by all means he violated it by writing those columns. That's essentially the same as violating a law (employment contract). Either quit your elections job and keep writing the columns, or vice versa.

I guess I took it for granted in my original post that people would know that Department of Elections would be barred from any political work. Sorry for any confusion.

I'm not necessarily calling for him to be fired from the post for this. I'm not sure what he did was bad enough to warrant such an action. Not writing the columns any more is enough for me.

This is one of those times when it really is all about appearances. It's not like he's going to any more fair or unfair because he's no longer writing his column. If he were prone to try to throw things the Democrat's way while he writing this column, no longer writing it won't change that. It's just about not giving people additional reasons to ask questions.

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