Op/Ed: Vetting resources, Michigan Politics and the "I" first report mentality

ROJS News Op/Ed

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Last week, we read various resources reporting on two incidents of suspect voter intimidation at schools located inside the Detroit, Michigan area.

Readers might ask immediately why we've not denoted these educational institutions as Detroit Public Schools, especially since two questionable dismay surrounding the voting process occurred at schools in Detroit. Well, frankly firing up to keyboard to immediate run with these stories without proper time to investigate situations, gather statements from authorities of DPS or Michigan Secretary of State's office would not be right. But, more on this later.

This afternoon, the owner of ROJS News Monica RW partook in a wonderful discussion on Blog Talk Radio's "Progressive Politics Tennessee Style" program, airing Sunday's 2:30 PM EDT. Guest- Journalist Sharon Cobb, discussed "breakdowns" in media based communications members directly surrounding our social media madness, being "first to the story".

Miss Cobb detailed why both mainstream journalist and bloggers both suffer from what can be best described as "cyberspace story me-first link/write syndrome". Regularity failing to vent, check or in some case cite resources of information before writing about it. She also spoke about harassment incidents transpiring in the internet feud blogosphere, when competing resources take a position that might not be "social popular" at the moment.

For us at ROJS News, this discussion hit very close to home.

After months of research on a story, we formatted keen disagreement with what was then called a "progressive" recall effort in Michigan our on resource, along its' writing staff along our weekend radio show credibility questioned. On You Tube a part of our weekend radio show was cut, sliced and uploaded in a questionable manner. The content was by later removed You Tube for DCMA violations.

An attempt was made to remove a scholarship ROJS News won to Netroots Nation. Our Facebook Page (now removed), News Blog, Radio Show and its host was attacked by various resources; all for taking a at the time unpopular position based on our research.

Time has proven our noted position was correct. Speaking with former Journalist of MSNBC on this Ms. Cobb briefly was enlightening. We at ROJS News first make every effort to research issues this resource stands for or against, and then take a stand based on were the investigation leads.

Which turns us back to the story of suspected voter intimidation at two schools located in Detroit during the Tuesday, August 7th primary elections.

Media and blogging resources statewide, reported that two voters were "frisked" nearly TSA style, upon attempting to enter locations to exercise their Constitutional rights to cast ballots for candidates of their choice. The articles alleged blame for these ill-fated incidents at either Detroit Public School District personnel and/or Secretary of State, Ruth Johnson's office.

As most readers of this blog and listeners of ROJS Radio LIVE know, this resource has no problem calling out questionable tactics of SOS Johnson's office, when warranted. The question deserving of proper research was if Detroit Public Schools Administrative Authorities and/or Secretary of State Johnson's office should face denunciation of possible voter intimidation in these cases.

In Michigan, legitimate questions have been raised on the integrity surrounding SOS Johnson's office, including placing a check box on paperwork potential voters would fill out prior to receiving a ballot. Specifically the inquiry asked voters to verify citizens U.S. citizenship.

The Secretary of State's rights to ask a citizenship questions to voters was vetoed by Governor Rick Snyder (R) in Johnson's lobbied for legislation within the "Safe and Fair Elective Initiative" packages, covered extensively since October 11, 2011 on ROJS News. Still, was Johnson's office to blame for Detroit voters being "frisked" at the polls or Detroit Public School district personnel for that manner? The answer is no.

ROJS News was contacted by one of our readers regarding these reported situations. On Friday, August 10th we spoke to Steve Wasko, Communication Director of Detroit Public Schools (DPS) about the "frisking" episodes with two voters. We desired clarification on if DPS notified security personnel or contractors working of Tuesday, August 7th Michigan Primary.

"The issues that were raised earlier this week with regards to some problems with voters attempting to access the polling site at Henry Ford High School, with regards to that, that is a school is not a Detroit Public School, it is not a member of the Detroit Public School System. It use to be. It now has transferred to a new district, run by the State of Michigan, called the Educational Achievement Authority," said Steve Wasko Chief Communication Officer at DPS. 
"And they would have complete responsibility for that site, including uses of the polling location. My understanding is that issue was resolved after it was raised that morning by staff at of the Educational Achievement Authority. Again, I want to be clear that has not relationship what so ever with Detroit Public Schools," Wasko confirmed.
Once authenticated by Mr. Wasko that Henry Ford High School was no longer part of the DPS system, therefore would not hold responsibly of ensuring Michigan Educational Authority security staff or contractors were trained poll accessibility procedures, we contacted Michigan's Educational Authority Lansing office. Our calls as of Friday, August 10th, were not returned.

ROJS News connected with Media Communications Spokesperson for Michigan's Secretary of State Office, Fred Woodhams on Friday. We wanted accurate information on if the department was made aware of the events of voter "frisking" reports at Henry Ford High School, and if the SOS office are investigating these incidents.

Woodhams stated the SOS office to date, had not been made aware of the occurrences on Tuesday, August 7th in Detroit, but the department encourages reporting suspected incidents voter intimidation be forwarded to proper authorities.

"Elections in Michigan are run at the local level so questions generally are best addressed to the city clerk’s office. We haven’t been notified about these reported issues. My understanding from media reports is that the city clerk quickly resolved these issues," Woodhams stated, in reference to City of Detroit Clerk office of Janice Winfrey. "We do encourage voters who witness fraud, election corruption, discrimination or intimidation to contact the Bureau of Elections or the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice."
Detroit City Clerk Winfrey office quickly handled the "frisking" situations in the city, as reported by WXYZ.com Channel 7 Tuesday.
"I told him you cannot frisk voters," Detroit City Clerk Janice Winfrey told Channel 7 News, explaining her reaction to the security upon arriving at the school. "And he said, 'OK, we will stop."
Clerk Winfrey recently made news, including this exclusive interview on ROJS Radio LIVE April 21st, when she fought pay cuts by Mayor Dave Bing (D) to Detroit's Election Bureau that would have impacted voters at the pols for Tuesday's primary and November 6th general election.
Mr. Woodhams provided information voters can report suspected occurrences intimidation, corruption, fraud or discrimination at the polls:
INFORMATION ON FEDERAL AND STATE LAWS
THAT PROHIBIT FRAUD AND MISREPRESENTATION 
If you witness efforts to commit any kind of fraud or corruption in the voting process, you may report this to the Michigan Department of State’s Bureau of Elections at 1-800-292-5973. 
If you witness actual or attempted acts of discrimination or intimidation in the voting process, you may report this to the Civil Rights Division of the United States Department of Justice at 1-800-253-3931.
Tuesday, voters across the state reported questionable acts which happened at, near or inside polling locations to a volunteer oversight organization called the "Election Protection-You Have the Right to Vote" group. Michigan branch of this group is affiliated with tenured Wayne State University Election Law Professor, former Secretary of State Candidate in 2010 and previously appeared guest expert on ROJS Radio LIVE, Jocelyn Benson. 

Autumn Smith, Co-Host of ROJS Radio LIVE and regular contributor at Naomi Wolf's Daily Cloudt site, detailed an episode where a poll worker called law enforcement authorities for refusal to move her vehicle from a legality parked location at a local elementary school, when voting. Ms. Smith incident is being investigated by Michigan's Election Protection organization.

To close, the point of this Op/Ed is similar to Ms. Cobb's wonderful discussion on BTR's "Progressive Politics-Tennessee Style" program. Its' sad  in the effort to be "first to the story", media and blogging resources refuse to take the proper time to vet, research or ask questions to all resources willing to do so. Many times these entities run to press with an article many in the public will assume is completely truthful and accurate.

In this case, neither the Detroit Public School Systems or directly Michigan Secretary of State department was where blame should have been leveled. Instead, focus and questions should have been directed to Michigan's Educational Authority; who starting September 5th unless Detroit's 11-School Board members injunction to stop this is successful, will operate 15 schools formerly a part of Detroit Public Schools system.

More on this noted above, Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette's lawsuit to fire seven of eleven Detroit Public School Board Members, along with the possibly on why former Emergency Financial Manager/now Emergency Financial Manager of Detroit Public Schools Roy Roberts was appointed as EFM on August 8th by Gov. Rick Snyder, tomorrow here on ROJS News.

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