The Monarchy of Montgomery County

by David Esrati on October 1, 2009

in Dayton Government, Dayton Public Service Issues, Montgomery County Democratic Party Dayton Ohio, Our Broken political system

How many “political families” do we have in Dayton that collect tax-dollar supported paychecks? Civil service standards? Whatever. We’ve got a “famiglia” in town that takes care of its workers, it’s called the Montgomery County Democratic Party and its patronage system is what keeps the good “earners” in line.

I can’t do all of this, but, I’m sure with your help, we can start to map out the family tree.

Starting with two of our Dayton City Commissioners:
Nan Whaley who “Served as assistant to Montgomery County Auditor Karl Keith from 2001-2005″ before getting elected to the Commission virtually unopposed (running in a three way against Lorana M. Kelly). Her boyfriend, who became her husband, Sam Braun also works for Karl. There is also a Terry L. Whaley on the city payroll- but, it could be coincidence and no relation.

Matt Joseph, who worked somewhere in the County building in a similar position, has his brother Russel Joseph working for the Dayton Municipal Courts under Montgomery County Democratic Party Chair, Mark Owens. The name Owens is common enough, but inquiring minds want to know if City employees Charlene or Betty are related to Mark just for giggles.

The city employee list also has a bunch of names on it that are the same- and I’m not just talking “Smith” or “Jones”- right next to Mayor McLin is also “Gary S. McLin” and I have no way of telling if he’s related. Of course Rhine got into politics by being appointed to finish her father’s term in the Statehouse- a policy that should have ended when we declared our independence from the British Crown in 1776.

I’m not sure about the two Lovelaces on the City payroll- Dean is the City Commissioner and Richard D. – well someone will have to verify or deny.
The former VP of the Dem Party is Tom Ritchie, with AFSCME, and who sits on the Board of Elections with former Party chair Dennis Lieberman (his wife is Montgomery County Commissioner Debbie Lieberman). The BOE pays that board at least $19k a year to meet a few times per month (I believe these figures are correct). The City of Dayton also employs six Ritchies (not sure they are all related), with at least one we definitely know is related and gets a little extra wiggle room when he screws up. Tom the 3rd works for Karl Ketih too.

There is also the son in law of former Mayor McGee, Michael Cromartie and his wife, Montgomery County Common Pleas Judge Frances McGee Cromartie to add to the long line of Dayton Royalty.

Montgomery County Clerk of Courts run by Greg Brush, who employs his father in law. Greg’s mother in law works for Steve Harsman at the Board of Elections.

The Board of Elections is a parking lot for the party faithful. These nice paying jobs are staffed entirely down party lines, with one of each- Democrat and Republican. The whole place is a yin-yang maze, totally excluding any third party or any kind of local tie breaker opportunities. If you want to see what totally partisan politics looks like- look no further.

Democrat Board of Elections Supervisor Bev King who is a good friend of Rhine, has her son, David working for Karl Keith as well.

Steve Harsman’s son works for Karl Keith, and so does his ex-wife. Karl seems to employ a lot of the party faithful, including the mayor of Vandalia (a part-time job that apparently allows this kind of double dipping) and Loy’s wife works at the BOE and their daughter was a part-timer this summer. Their son also works for Karl Keith.(updated- he no longer works there). The mayor of New Lebanon, Craig Roberts and New Lebanon city councilwoman Glena Madden also work for Karl Keith.

Judy Dodge, Montgomery County Commissioner, has her daughter at the BOE as well.

Former Ohio Dem Party chair, Paul Tipps has his son Tony at the Board of Elections, his sister works for Jennifer Brunner in the Secretary of State’s office. Tipps is now a lobbyist.

Susan Martin, who is former State Senator Tom Roberts’s sister works at the BOE, and another sister works for Karl, Tom Roberts’s ex-wife Regina Roberts works for the City, and stretching way back, they were caught getting the city to pay to send their daughter to swim camp on the taxpayer’s dime (even though the City had no organized swim teams).

Jefferson Township Trustee Brice Simms has a nephew and daughter working at the Board of Elections too.

Harsman even hired his son’s girlfriend to work for him at the Board of Elections.

Word is State Rep. Clayton Luckie has a whole bunch of people on the public payroll, again hard to verify thanks to name changes by marriage, or aunts, uncles, cousins etc.

Other names that make me go hmmm, are Blackshear as in related to Willis in the County, Dixon as related to Richard Clay who “worked” for the School Board as did his wife while he was mayor (he was caught turning in sick days to the School board while traveling on City Business and only got a slap on the hand).

I’m not a full-time investigative reporter, but considering you have to fill out financial disclosure statements to run for office, shouldn’t you have to fill out a family tree of all the other relatives you have working for the government, just to reveal any possible improprieties?

I don’t mean any harm by exposing these connections, or possible connections, I just feel that the public has a right to know what their tax dollars are being spent on. The City of Dayton is facing some serious hiring challenges in the public safety departments as the DROP program starts to force a lot of veteran police and firemen to retire- and it would be nice to know that you don’t have to be related to a politician to even consider applying for a job.

I’m sure some of these people are absolutely fantastic at what they do, but, I know that there are very few “family” businesses that thrive with second, third and fourth generation leadership. We seem to be full of it in our local government offices.

If you know more- please add in comments. Thank you.

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{ 28 comments… read them below or add one }

Jennifer October 1, 2009 at 3:09 pm

Not too long after SOS Brunner got into office, she changed many rules with the hiring practices of the BOE’s. They are no longer able to hire relatives…not even as temps for the day of election. These positions are also no longer to just be filled by the political party behind closed doors…they MUST publicly post the open positions & go through a proper recruiting/hiring that is transparent & open to all qualified. I will go back through the SOS State Directives and post a link later, that documents the date that this info with hiring was changed, it would be great if the media stilled served as the whistle blowers & kept us all up to date with what really happens.  A public records request with all current employees & temps with start dates from the BOE would be very helpful to cross reference.

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Jennifer October 1, 2009 at 3:23 pm

http://www.sos.state.oh.us/SOS/Upload/elections/directives/2007/Dir2007-35.pdf

SOS Brunner Directive 2007-35   BOE Code of Ethics

“C. Prohibition Against Hiring Family Members.Under Ohio ethics laws, a member or employee of the board of elections may nottake any part in the decision to hire his or her family member3 as a board employee.Moreover, Secretary of State Directive 2007-01 specifically prohibits boards of elections from hiring relatives of board of elections members, directors, and deputy directors, except for hiring poll workers (which includes election judges, rovers,scouts, and other similar, temporary election positions). Therefore, the remaining board of elections members may hire/appoint poll workers who are family members of an individual board member, the director, or the deputy director, as long as the individual board member, director, deputy director, or board employee does not participate in the decision to hire his/her own family member or in any decision specifically concerning the terms and conditions of his/her own family member’s employment/appointment.”

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Jeff October 1, 2009 at 3:58 pm

I think Joe Lacey used to work for Karl Keith or his predecessor?
This is fun to know but not a real big deal for me if people are actually doing the job and not padding the payroll.
Coming from Kentucky and being a former patronage employee in Louisville for a summer job (working as a groundskeeper at a golf course) .  It was a real job with real work since golf courses need seasonal help since stuff grows more during the summer.   Another place in Kentucky where you could land a patronage summer job was the state park system, at the state resort parks (Kentucky has a network of these resort parks, which have lodges and cabins as well as campgrounds), working on the grounds crew or in housekeeping or kitchen help.
 
These were just jobs, with no real quid-pro-quo.  In Chicago in the old days ward heelers were offered patronage jobs in the police and sanitation, where you actually were expected to kick-back part of your salary to the alderman or party.  Thats were patronage starts to get corrupt.
 
 
 
 
 

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David Esrati October 1, 2009 at 4:20 pm

@Jeff- if you don’t think there is kickback, look over campaign finance reports. Oh, that’s right, we don’t post those online, except for on this site.

You want to keep your job, don’t go against the party.

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roxie October 1, 2009 at 8:52 pm

So the point is some people are better at breeding Leaders and Good Public Servants than others.  Good point David.  I am so proud of you David.   You are learning to humble your self.   You are able of recognizing the good in others.    There is hope.

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Allison October 1, 2009 at 10:00 pm

LOL, I wonder which Mommy or Daddy “roxie” is?

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Jennifer October 1, 2009 at 10:07 pm

I certainly didn’t read this post & think that any of the above same last named city/county employees stand out as history making leaders. Yet, after connecting many dots, I did think…what if ???  What if any of the above mentioned were given even the slightest advantage in the employment process as to who they were related to….and possibly a very talented & qualified unknown was overlooked…a person without family or political ties…that could have brought something new to the table of conversation in Dayton…someone that hasn’t already been groomed with preexisting agendas…possibly Dayton already missed on a history making city/county leader due to nepotism??

If you always ate dinner with the same people & had the same conversations, it would become difficult to think outside of the box.  It’s Do Or Die Time in the race to save Dayton’s Future. Once the full loss of NCR & GM hit the area,  those lost incomes are going to start hitting all of us even harder. I fear we are far from the worst of the economic crisis locally. I live in Sugarcreek, can’t vote, have never personally met David….yet, as an outsider looking in & knowing how the vitality of Dayton affects the entire area….I hope to see new leadership in Dayton & leadership that hasn’t already bartered itself away.  I see David as a very Black&White type of person, he tells it like he sees it, states the facts (which shouldn’t be construed as negativity, yet a way to learn from past mistakes) & he tries to generate open constructive conversations, inviting all to join, that will lead to a more positive outcome for the future.

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Joe Lacey October 1, 2009 at 11:20 pm

I was hired by AJ Wagner in 1995.  He wanted a CPA in his accounting department.  No one in my family was an elected official nor had any relationship with any elected official.

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Siquomb October 2, 2009 at 8:55 am

That doesn’t even begin to cover the network of spouses, children, cousins and in-laws at city hall. Nice work David.

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David Esrati October 2, 2009 at 9:20 am

@Siquomb- help me out then.

@Joe, you notice your name isn’t on the list. But, I’m sure you could add quite a few names and relationships to this list…

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Greg Hunter October 2, 2009 at 10:41 am

I kind of love this little game as it is another example of focusing on some of the “little” infractions in the Democrats, while the Republican game is much larger and involves much more money in contracts and kick backs.  Jennifer gets it with this statement.

a person without family or political ties…that could have brought something new to the table of conversation in Dayton…someone that hasn’t already been groomed with preexisting agendas…possibly Dayton already missed on a history making city/county leader due to nepotism?? (emphasis mine)

If you would like a prime example of how this process works take a look at this candidate (Amy Schrimpf).  She has been hand selected to be on the City of Kettering council because when her masters say jump she says “How High”  She worked with out dissent for some of people that have ruined any chance Dayton had at being a destination location.  I was on the Chamber of Commerce council when she worked at the chamber and even then topics that have a potential to impact the community like sprawl or peak oil could not even get one chance of being at least discussed.  This lack of looking at all aspects of issues have allowed the community to be in this mess, but as they say; screw up move up; a beautiful motto for Republicans as well as Democrats. She has worked for Phil Parker, Maureen Patterson (Don the Mayor of Kettering’s Wife), Steve Stanley (Danis landfill manager and Austin Road pusher) and was magically appointed to Peggy Lehner’s seat when Peggy got Husteds old Seat.  Groupthink and keeping it the family at its finest.

This just one example as Turner, Mill Morgan, Ron Wine, Raj and the rest turn and burn a lot more taxpayer dollars than the paltry patronage by the Dems.

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Gene October 2, 2009 at 11:35 am

That is the way it is done, and it has always been done this way. But it is not worse than Obama losing the Olympic bid for Chicago. Hell, even GWB would not have eff’ed that one up.

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Lynn October 2, 2009 at 1:25 pm

David, are you becoming a Republican now?  Having Betty Smith feed you information about democrats while ignoring much bigger republican offenses.  Greg Hunter has it correct.  You’re fixated on some very small things while Jon Husted, Jeff Jacobsen, Clay Mathile et al set about destroying the region and the state.
Did Betty Smith tell you about all the connected republican friends and family members who got jobs?  Their favored hack Bryan Suddith gets to be executive director of Kids Voting.
Since Leitzell is your running mate and you support right-wing tea baggers, perhaps that D next to your name should change to R.

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David Esrati October 2, 2009 at 1:55 pm

@Lynn- feel free to point out all the Republican violations as well.

I don’t support “right-wing tea baggers”

I’ve talked about corruption at all levels. Considering I’ve run against Turner and forced the discussion about his wife and her GSA schedule, work for PACs and no-bid contracts out, I’ve done my part.

Now do more than just sit and throw stones- you know how to post here. And, btw- do it with your whole name.

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Greg Hunter October 2, 2009 at 3:13 pm

Hell, even GWB would not have eff’ed that one up.

BS Gene, it was a long shot at best.  The IOC would have laughed that hack out of the room.  It was time for some Spanish Speaking Country.  Rio would be nice.

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Greg Hunter October 2, 2009 at 3:18 pm

Greg Hunter has it correct.

You have no idea.  Man when I look back at my speeches when I ran against Turner, I hit the nail on the head, but in this town you have to be an idiot to get elected.  In Dayton B students hire C students.  It will not get any better until we all work together for the common good.  Clay Mathile, Turner and McClin.  Dems and Republicans, but we bicker and argue while the businesses leave and tear stuff down.  Short Sighted and unsustainable, but the Chinese will lend us more money….right.  Good Luck!

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Gene October 2, 2009 at 3:28 pm

Brazil….. Spanish speaking………?……. Talk about long shots, you can not even get that right.

They were supposed to finish second, they sent Obama and Oprah and they finished 4th. Go Fig.

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Greg Hunter October 2, 2009 at 3:30 pm

LOL Geno Point

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Gene October 2, 2009 at 3:45 pm

 

Brazilian IOC member Carlos Nuzman (left) and soccer legend Pele celebrate their country’s status as 2016 Olympic host. (AP)
 

The short stopover was “too business-like,” Holm said. “It can be that some IOC members see it as a lack of respect.”

Obama was TOO business like……… he indeed did hurt Chicago. What a great President. I will make sure he is in charge of making the Thanksgiving turkey and buying Christmas presents……

Tell him to do his job and stop screwing up this country. Chicago should be mad at Obama.

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Jeff October 2, 2009 at 5:33 pm

Glad to see you are back on the case, Greg.  I’ve certainly come around to your way of thinking on how the game is set up here.
 
 

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Jeff October 2, 2009 at 5:59 pm

You want to keep your job, don’t go against the party.
 
 
…well, obviously. That’s the whole point of patronage, to reward party loyalists.
 
 
 

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Jeff October 2, 2009 at 6:27 pm

David, are you becoming a Republican now?  Having Betty Smith feed you information about democrats while ignoring much bigger republican offenses.

 
 
Esrati is an independant.  As he noted he went after Turner when he was running against Turner (or really running against Turner while running in the Democratic primary).   Now that he is running against a Democratic incumbent, Nan Whaley he is going to muckrake against the Dems, esp. since Whaley has apparently close ties to the local Democratic establishment and officeholders.  The GOP and their issues of influence are not of interest in this particular election.
 
One can say that this is a three way race, but one notes that Joey Williams is pretty much out of the picture since Esrati is apparentley buddies with Williams.  And Williams himself doesn’t appear quite as connected to the local Democratic party as Whaley is.  So the focus is on the Dems and Whaley specifically.
It’s interesting to watch this play out, but I am really looking forward to watching that mayorial candidates debate in October if it’s on suburban cable TV.
 
 
Hence the focus on Democratic fishy business, penny-ante though it may be.
 

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Molly Darcy October 3, 2009 at 8:02 pm

So let me get this straight– you flipped through a phone book and pulled out people who happen to have the same last name as an elected official (who by default MUST be on the take, right David?) with no idea if they’re even related, assume that they are,  and make a post out of this?  Wow, once again, great use of your valuable campaign time David.

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tg October 4, 2009 at 1:53 pm

I got my first real job at the Marriott because my mom knew someone who knew the new General Manager, but there were no kick backs involved.   This happens everywhere – it’s why if you want to find a job anywhere, you better have an extensive network to help get your resume on the short list.   People can lie on their application or resume, but word of mouth is powerful. 

Yet, I think Jennifer has an excellent point – group think happens when you surround yourself with the same people all the time.   That’s my biggest concern about Greene County, we have no elected Democrats, so another perspective is never offered.   And that is the biggest asset David would bring to the Commission – making them stop and look at something from a different perspective.   It’s when you get past the extremes,  when you move past black and white, and get into exploring the gray area in between that you can find the best solutions.  There are, after all, many shades of gray.

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David Lauri October 5, 2009 at 11:30 am

I got my first job because of who I knew also.  That’s one of the benefits of white privilege that most white people don’t understand.  It’s not that no African Americans or other minorities have connections; it’s that, by and large, white people have more and better connections.  That’s changing, but to think that the playing field is level is an illusion.

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Gene October 5, 2009 at 12:41 pm

First, there are a lot less AA than white folk in this country. Second, you assume that “knowing” someone has to be of the same race. I am white, and my first job was working for a black man with whom my family had connections with……… go figure.

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Ambrose October 5, 2009 at 12:42 pm

I simply see this as a blatant attempt to pad your (David) lackluster political agenda without out tagging public offices on the opposite side of the coin.  You’re running against the alleged “democratic political machine” in Dayton but failed to go through the entire local civil servant database for republicans and all employees for that matter since your not running against them, this time.  How self serving is that?  Also, I believe some of these examples are of employees that met, married, and sometimes divorced while working together.  So, that logically explains why some of these last names are the same.

As an outsider, it is easy to see that you’re making tons of enemies with everything you say.  How do you expect to get something done, if elected to anything, when all you do is constantly burn bridges?  These people that you list will not want to work with you, period.  Why would they when you continue to attack them?  You apparently do not play well with others and If I were a prospective business, I wouldn’t want anything to do with you as you’d be a reason not to setup shop in Dayton.  To me, you’re far to loud, opinionated, abrasive, and brash to be successful in any type of public service. I have a feeling that we won’t be seeing the name of david esrati on any elected officals list, ever.

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David Esrati October 5, 2009 at 1:30 pm

@Ambrose

You are welcome to add the names of the Republicans engaged in this kind of behavior- that’s what the comments are for.

If I’m making enemies with the existing regime, so be it. Is there something wrong with discussing the truth?

We’ve got a lot of house cleaning to do, we’ve been letting nepotism and favoritism get in the way of professional management for way too long. Why do you think Patterson set this system up in the first place? It’s pretty clear, this town was just as crooked in 1913 as it is today.

It’s time to get back to professional behavior. At least with a few real business people on the commission we may start to see some real, qualitative management systems put in place.

As to your opinion of me- you don’t know me. If you did, you’d have the guts to sign your real name.

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