WESTERHOLD: Dann's the man to rock Dems' world

I've seen the future of the Ohio Democratic Party and its name is Marc Dann. Dann, who was elected state attorney general in
Matt Westerhold
May 24, 2010

I've seen the future of the Ohio Democratic Party and its name is Marc Dann.

Dann, who was elected state attorney general in November 2006, visited the Register on Monday. I'm not easily impressed by politicians or elected officials; maybe you know that about me already.

But Dann's breathing fresh air into an office that's been staled by the status quo for the last dozen years.

And Dann also is breathing new life and fresh air into a political party that for far too long has been on the defensive and weak in battle.

The man speaks my language.

Dann was ready to talk when he visited, and it's obvious he loves his new job and is ready to do battle. It was hard to keep up with the pace of his conversation.

Sure he had talking points; what politician doesn't? Dann's script did not seem prepared, however, and he spoke with a heartfelt passion I've rarely seen from an elected official.

He talks fast, but here's some of what we talked about compiled from the meeting and from news releases that can be found at Dann's Web site, www.ag.state.oh.us.

"Predatory lending is driving Ohio's shameful home foreclosure rate," he said. Fraudulent lenders, bogus appraisers and predatory practices "not only hurt consumers but they hurt legitimate lenders."

He relishes the battle and intends to win by "driving unscrupulous lenders out of our communities."

Who talks like this? It seems Ohioans have just accepted bad business practices as normal. It seems Dann has no stomach for that at all.

You go, Dann. I'm cheering for you.

Dann also answered questions about the state's gambling laws in a way no other state politician has taken on that thorny issue. He's been the thorn in the side of businesses he says are circumventing the state's current gambling laws.

But in a state that pushes its lottery, it's become acceptable for Ohioans to just listen and accept it when leaders mumble about why they oppose gambling.

Dann didn't mumble, and he didn't take a safe stand when he said he would not be opposed to the Ohio Legislature reforming and relaxing gambling laws.

But any changes would have to include the ability to stringently regulate the gambling industry before it would get his support.

"Unregulated gambling of any kind is a terrible idea for the state," he said. "Without enforcement, it's all meaningless."

You go, Dann.

His take on the state's public records law, for me was the most refreshing of all.

"Democracy flourishes when government operates in the sunshine, available to the citizens it serves and open to public scrutiny," he told me.

Local governments, Dann said, should "err on the side of disclosure," rather than withholding documents or other information from reporters or John Q. Public.

Whew. I can remember when former AG Jim Petro's office told me: "It's public record when we say it's public record."

I've seen the future of the Ohio Democratic Party and its name is Marc Dann.