Friday, February 27, 2009


In January 2008 I started a group called "Mahoning Valley for Obama". We grew and grew and eventually had 150 people at a meeting at the Chevy Centre in Youngstown before the Ohio primary. We continued to meet throughout the spring and summer and we provided a large group of local volunteers for the Obama campaign in Mahoning County.
Fast forward to January 2009. After the election I wanted to continue the group in a new form in response to Barack Obama's call for citizens to remain involved in their communities. In fact, the new Obama administration even formed two new entities called "Organizing for America" and that are designed to harness the political and community service energy of Obama's 13 million person email list.
In response I started up "Mahoning Valley for Change". We've had three meetings so far as well as a successful community service event.,
A short term project has been to arrange a public meeting regarding our local area's economic stimulus proposal(s). We thought it would help to get city, county, state, and federal officials together to discuss this region's priorities and plans for the Obama administration's economic stimulus package in front of a hopefully large group of citizens and the press.
Well, so far, not so good. A member of our group volunteered to contact U.S. Representative Tim Ryan's office. She tried at least twice to speak with Ryan's Press Secretary Pat Lowry. No response.
So, last week I went into the Congressman's downtown Youngstown office and asked to speak with Barb Ewing, Mr. Ryan's Economic Development Coordinator. The receptionist said Ms. Ewing was on a phone call and I thanked her and left my name and phone number while explaining that our group had a meeting on March 4 and we were hoping a staff person could attend and bring us up to date on the stimulus legislation and how we might benefit locally.
Today, after three days of silence, I called Ryan's office, gave my name and asked for Barb Ewing. After about ten seconds on hold I was told she was out/couldn't come to phone. So, I explained that I had been waiting for a return call and asked what the problem was. All of the sudden the receptionist said she remembered me and that she had tried to call me but that "my phone didn't answer".
That's right, it was the lamest of the lame excuses. Not, "I'm sorry we've been so busy" or "I really do apologize for the mixup". No, it was blame the citizen. Must be my phone that doesn't work. Not to mention e-mail (she also said she e-mailed me ... ah no, another lie). I tried to hold my ground, pointing out that if I hung up and used my cell phone to call my home phone that it would surely work --- it did later, by the way. I also mentioned how we have an answering machine and caller ID and NO call had come to us from the Congressman's office. I also mentioned the 30 or more e-mails I get a day and yet, guess what, that's right, not ONE from the Congressman's office.
So ... that's why it's important for citizens to get more involved in their own government. Our representatives, and the people who work for and represent them, sometimes don't respect us. And they need to learn that respect or they need to be fired.

Running for Office

No, not me. Mark Prokay, co-leader of the former group Mercer County (Pa.) for Obama decided to take up the challange from our new President and actually run for office. Mark is running in the Democratic primary for a seat as a Hermitage City Commissioner. At least he will be if he can get 100 valid signatures by March 10th to get on the May ballot. So today I took the 25 mile drive over the state line and joined him in some door to door work gathering signatures. Mark had checked and verified that an "out of state" person like me is qualified to gather signatures.

Now I majored in Political Science but let me tell you that no class at Ohio State ever gave me as much knowledge about politics as the thousands of voters I've spoken to during door to door work. I can see how the thought of knocking on doors and talking to complete strangers can be terrifying to some. Yet in 20 plus years of such work for people like Barack Obama, Charlie Wilson, Ted Strickland, Paul Hackett, John Kerry and, skipping back a decade or two to Dick Celeste and Howard Metzenbaum, very few people have been outright scary and most have actually been friendly. Sometimes the homeowner may want to vent, but usually they respect the fact that you put in the effort to walk their neighborhood in the cold, in the snow, in the heat, what have you.

Mark is the first of our group of Obama supporters to run for office. My hope is that we can get many, many more --- especially on our side of the border in the Mahoning Valley of Trumbull and Mahoning counties. Here's a picture of Mark in action at last year's "Barack the Valley" in Sharon during the Pennsylvania primary. Mark and his pal Don Christoff badgered the Obama campaign until they sent in Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius as a speaker to the event which drew several hundred people. In fact the event garnered so much attention and made Hillary Clinton's camp so nervous that they sent in Bill Clinton to speak the same day about 5 miles up the road.

Thursday, February 26, 2009


Well, here I am. It took awhile, but becoming the 27 millionth or so blogger in the US is still better than never having blogged at all.
Regarding the name "Flash of Green". Some other would-be names were already picked at Blogger but this one still sounds right. It's the name of a mid-80s movie that hardly anyone saw starring Ed Harris and Richard Jordan.
In the movie, a small town Florida reporter struggles with political corruption and his own fading ethics. The flash of green refers to bribes of cash changing hands, but also to a rare sunset sighting along the ocean horizon when for a split second the sun shoots up a ray of green just before it disappears below the water line.
The movie and the name seem to embody much of what this blog will talk about. Politics and the ethical choices we all have to make plus the relief that the wonders of the natural world can give us from the follies and failings of humanity. Just call this my latest attempt to keep hope alive.
Plus, hey, green's hip and trendy now anyway, right? Green Jobs, Green Buildings, Green With Envy. It all fits.