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September 26, 2008 - Joe Gorman
I picked up a nugget of info at the Youngstown police station this week that backers of Barrack Obama were seeking permission to hold a camp out at the Board of Elections to usher in the first day of early voting.
I tried to confirm this through the local office and was told by one of the many youthful volunteers that no one there was allowed to go on the record but that the idea was ``in the works.'
A fellow reporter here called the Columbus office of the Democratic presidential candidate and they said they had no idea what was going on. The person at the police department told me that he told the Obama people they needed permission from the owner of the building -- in this case Mahoning County -- to hold their camp out.
That would be a daunting task. Spending a night in the elements on Market Street is sometimes akin to spending a night outside of the Green Zone in Baghdad. I hope they have access to Kevlar sleeping bags and tents that have security systems.
Some may think I am exaggerating, but any time I have spent an evening at the Board of Elections, the soundtrack has been sirens, and lots of them. I can also remember a night years ago, when I saw ``Scarface' (I knew it was important even in my teen years to establish my street cred) on the Big Screen at the nearby Newport Theater (which is now defunct and I think there is now a Burger King there) and when I came out of the movie I noticed a bunch of police cars in the parking lot across the street because someone found a dead body in that parking lot.
True, recently it seems like things are slowing down, shooting wise in the city and on the South Side, and the YPD Street Crimes, Vice and the Mahoning Valley Law Enforcement Task Force do keep their offices in the same building as the board of elections, so anyone who braves the elements does have access to some sophiscated ordnance -- if they can get in the building.
But to this day, any time I am on that street after dark, I am extra careful. I heard so many stories about that area growing up that it has made me paranoid. I make sure I mind my own business and I am aware at all times of what's going on around me.
So sleeping under the stars in a South Side parking lot would not be my idea of fun. But who knows? Maybe they can use the situation to their advantage and register anyone wandering around during the wee hours to vote.
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