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All I want for Xmas is…

Before the tornadoes, before the mass shooting in the Oregon District, before the pandemic, the FBI arrested a few folks and called it part of an investigation of a “Culture of Corruption” in Dayton. That most of the folks they indicted were Black was about par for the course. Law enforcement in this country is pretty much only good for putting minorities or the poor in prison- and in this stunning announcement of our “culture of corruption” it amounted to about  half a year in prison for only 2 of the defendants. Joey Williams got out after 3 months and 21 days of a measly 1 year sentence, and Clayton Luckie did a whopping four whole months for his “corrupt activities.”

While we’re lucky to live in Dayton, where so far, cops haven’t been shooting black people randomly every couple of months like in Columbus, we still have a major problem with a jail that isn’t safe for human habitation. Getting sent to jail, even if for a simple domestic violence charge could may as well be a death sentence. As if covid running wild in the jail isn’t enough, we’ve also got it staffed with sadists, who have tortured inmates, raped inmates, and killed a few just by way of gross incompetence. And before you start saying just stay out of jail- remember, in this country, we still claim that we abide by the idea of “innocent until proven guilty” which isn’t the case in Sheriff Rob Streck’s jail.

As to “innocent until proven guilty” I’m still waiting for just one person to be held accountable for the insanity at Wright State. Apparently, even in the H1-B visa scandal, for which the taxpayers were fined $1M to pay the government (as if that makes sense) no one was guilty, no one went to trial, no one went to jail, no government contracts were revoked, no board members fired, in fact- it seems like the people who were in the middle of the entire Double Bowler scandal where the University bought buildings for the benefit of trustees and benefactors all came out on top- with Greg Sample being promoted to defacto king of the university. Never mind his track record of failure, he keeps amassing more power as more people abandon his sinking ship.

Between the wreckage of Donald Trump and Covid, our country has become more divided, and more unfair. The economic divide continues to grow while those in power enact Stand your Ground- instead of figuring out a way to tax and fund schools properly. Having Larry Householder get caught in a $60M bribery scheme to help power companies barely changed anything. At this point, the taxpayers are still getting shafted, and the idiots who the bribe money helped elect all get relected. Ohio has been so jury-rigged via gerrymandering compounded by a free-wheeling governmental structure that allows us to have more elected officials and jurisdictions than anyone can count. How the hell does a state have 608 school districts with only 88 counties? And when was the last time you heard anyone calling for real reform- other than changing the way we draw electoral districts- when the damage is already done?

For regular readers of this blog, you may wonder a bit about my decreased posting frequency. It’s not for lack of commitment. In the last 5 months I’ve been putting effort into getting Reconstructing Dayton [1] off the ground. It’s a 501(c)(4) just like what Larry Householder built for his nefarious purposes- but, our goal is to bring order and sanity to Montgomery County by reducing the overhead of too many chiefs for way too few Indians. We’re also going to work and assist candidates who are committed to consolidation – or Unigov, which is the only way we’re going to be able to keep track of and keep politicians inline. You can see the posts our research has generated over on that site- and I highly recommend you subscribe [2]. I’ve hired an executive director and he’s been hard at work.

We also have set up “The Modern Policy Institute [3]” to craft policy and technology to help modernize our political system to encourage access and transparency at all levels, because, as we’ve seen, it’s almost impossible to rein in corruption when there are so many layers and jurisdictions. It’s a 501(c)(3) and therefore your donation is totally tax deductible. The site should go live in January 2021. I’m proud of the diversity and depth of our board of directors and looking forward to working with them to get our initiatives into full swing. While there are plenty of organizations working on improving elections, working toward ranked choice voting or other reforms, we have a vision of an election ecosystem that helps people with great ideas get in front of voters- instead of just those with money. Think of a mashup of Ballotpedia [4], I stand with [5], Opensecrets [6], NationBuilder [7] along with an open source board/elected official agenda and meeting management platform [8] – all built with open source software and available to all.

After watching and observing the criminals at work in the local culture of corruption for over 25 years, it’s time to blow the whole thing up. Coming soon- maybe even Monday, a post that will blow the petards off our local county government who are claiming we are due for a 15% property tax hike in the midst of a pandemic. Not too much after that- we should have another post about how a “city” outsourced it’s record keeping- to a private contractor- who, well, went under, and lost all their data. I’m also tired of public records policy in this State being abused at the expense of the tax payer. The latest strategy is to delay, then overwhelm, a requestor with a jumbled mess of 2700 page documents- with the only intent of complying is to overwhelm and obfuscate. If the records are this disorganized in the hands of the people in charge, they aren’t competent to have their jobs in the first place. It’s time for standardizing RFP’s, the bid documents and the rubrics to prevent the kind of crap decision making that makes sure the “Friends and Family” win bids- as evidenced by the convictions of Joey Williams, Roshawn Winburn (who didn’t have to do prison time, despite accepting bags of cash) and Clayton Luckie. Before any contract can get funded- the complete bids, scoring and award documents should be available to all to peruse and double check before our incompetent monarchy signs off on the awards. Gary Leitzell said that when he was Mayor- it was obvious that he was the only one who read the commission packages and often had to send things back for clarification or repair. Unfortunately, public servant leaders like Gary are the exception, not the rule.

So, in closing- all I want for Christmas is open transparent and efficient government that’s not corrupt. If you want to join me in that wish- money helps. You can chose either non-profit to send your donations to- Reconstructing Dayton or The Modern Policy Institute at 100 Bonner Street Dayton Ohio 45410. I promise the money will go to good use.

 

 

 

 

 

If you enjoyed this post, make sure you subscribe to my RSS feed [9]! If you wish to support this blog and independent journalism in Dayton, consider donating [10]. All of the effort that goes into writing posts and creating videos comes directly out of my pocket, so any amount helps!
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Mike Bock

David, If our republic is to survive, there must be unified action to answer these questions: How can we get our democracy to work as it should? How can we get our system of representative democracy to empower a government of, by, and for the people?

If I am hearing you right, you are offering three answers to these questions.

I love your Modern Policy Institute means “modernizing our elections to optimize democracy. And it means giving potential candidates the tools they need to engage in our democratic system even if they don’t have a large bank account or big corporate donors. We’re providing the tools for policy makers, voters, and candidates to adapt local government to the 21st century.”

I love the goal of implementing a system of rank/choice elections.

But I believe that implementing a system of “consolidation – or Unigov” somehow unifying the county would work to make our system of democracy even weaker, not stronger. Our way forward to build a stronger democracy, it seems to me, is to strengthen the grassroots structure of local governments / local responsibility. Taken away the authority of local officials will make the building a such a grassroots structure much less likely. And building a grassroots structure, I believe, is central to the transformation that our system of democracy needs. Pushing a “consolidation” plan will cause disharmony and disagreement within our whole county political infrastructure and such disharmony will not be useful. We need to advocate for ideas that have the promise of promoting wide-based community and agreement.

Mike Bock

https://www.nlc.org/resource/cities-101-consolidations/
David, a campaign to implement uni-gov in Montgomery County will be vigorously resisted and it’s odds of being successful are very small. A quick Google check reveals, “Over the last 40 years, nearly 100 referenda and initiatives have proposed city-county consolidations, but voters have rejected three-fourths of them.”

At least one of these consolidations was easy. Kentucky’s counties are much smaller than Ohio’s and Lexington, Kentucky is the only city in Fayette County. Consolidation didn’t threaten the autonomy of independently run local cities. Montgomery County contains 17 cities and five villages.

Our emphasis, I believe, must be on getting our democracy to work as it should. Building a grassroots structure, I believe, is central to the needed transformation of our democracy so I oppose consolidation because it diminishes local authority. It decreases the opportunities for the instruments of government to be close to the people.
The dysfunction of the system comes from the fact that the citizenry is unprepared and disengaged. The sad state of civics education is at fault. Our asleep citizenry has allowed special interests and political parties to unnecessarily divide them and now the harsh polarization and tribalism of our politics is ruining our republic. We are light years away from having a government of the people and the way forward is to push back against division by building consensus and agreement. We can make the system less dysfunctional by building wide-based communities that transcend partisanship. I can see such a community growing of citizens in agreement to support rank/choice voting. I can see such a community to support your Modern Policy Institute vision. But I can’t imagine a diverse community coalescing to champion consolidation.
Pushing a “consolidation” plan will cause disharmony and disagreement within our whole county political infrastructure and such disharmony will not be useful. We need to advocate for ideas that have the promise of promoting wide-based community and agreement.

Mike Bock

David, I’m glad for our history of supporting each other’s efforts to democratize the MCDP — going back to 2006. The Youtube of the 2010 MCDP Reorganization Meeting shows that I offered an amendment to the Constitution dealing with the MCDP anti-democratic practice of endorsements and that you were the only member to speak in favor of the motion. You did so twice. The events of 2020 — Trump and Covid, etc. — have produced a huge energy within the citizenry. This energy offers a huge potential for positive action. To unlock that energy, what is needed is leadership that can inspire thousands of Republicans, Democrats and Independents to work productively together. It seems to me that the best opportunity to inspire and direct this energy is through a carefully planned non-partisan “for-democracy” movement. I’m thinking that the 501C(3) and a 501C(4) organizations you are forming could give structure to, and help stimulate, a “for-democracy” movement. Rank/ choice would be a good fit in such a movement as would the “Modern Policy Institute.” Uni-Gov wouldn’t fit at all because Uni-Gov is actually “against-democracy” rather than “for-democracy.” We share a common hope that somehow the democratic process will work so that the MCDP can be transformed. The hope is that a Central Committee can be elected that will support significant change in the organization. In preparation for the 2022 Central Committee elections, I’m hoping that we can agree on a proposed MCDP Constitution. The goal, as I see it, would be to write a Constitution that, if approved, would empower MCDP to be transformed into a 21st Century organization — fully utilizing the power of technology to build an authentic MCDP community of thousands of Democrats — a deliberative democracy that builds understanding and consensus within its membership. The goal, then, would be to make the approval of this constitution proposal the central question in campaigns to elect the new MCDP Central Committee. A transformed “for-democracy” MCDP would be the basis for the re-branding of the Democratic Party in this region and would be the foundation for Democrats winning seats in the Assembly that now are inaccessible.  Transforming… Read more »

Mike Bock

David — I read through your Reconstructing Dayton web-site, Very nice. I appreciate your efforts in researching the tax system throughout the county and I’m looking forward to the compilation of this data and to your analysis. You are performing a valuable service for the public. In your initial post, you wrote: “We’re going to work and assist candidates who are committed to consolidation – or Unigov, which is the only way we’re going to be able to keep track of and keep politicians inline.” My response was that pushing consolidation and unigov would be a mistake and now you write: “We are not pushing a consolidation plan- we are just making logical arguments for it.” You are making a wise choice. Consolidation / Uni-gov is anti-democratic because such a system reduces the opportunity for citizens to meaningfully participate in their democracy. In our community-based local control system, citizens have easy access to their locally elected officials — often, these officials are their friends, neighbors, fellow church or club members, etc. The local school board meetings and local city council meetings are easily accessible. Consolidation decreases the opportunities for access and meaningful citizen participation — so, consolidation is “anti-democratic.” You denounce some local jurisdictions as “banana republics.” You’ve done great research and I’m interested in knowing the misdeeds of these jurisdictions. It’s a safe bet, however, that your harsh characterization, though provocative, is not fair. Your charge that I “support the overhead of all these banana republics as unassailable,” or that I sound like a “Trumper” is not fair. Intemperate language is the art of the gadfly, and I know how you enjoy being a flame thrower, but, the public is sick of negativity. To accomplish your big goals you somehow must get huge public support. To gain public support, progressives need a positive approach, a positive message. The reconstruction that Dayton needs is a vitalization of its system of representative democracy. This reconstruction would have a lot of aspects. Educating the public is one big requirement for a robust democracy. You point out that “with less media to act as a balancing act, effectively removing the… Read more »

Mike Bock

David. My point is that, in order to gain the needed public support for your ideas, your best strategy is to frame your proposals in terms of making our system of democracy work as it should. You have a strong case to be made that rank/choice will strengthen our democracy. You have strong argument that your vision for Modern Policy Institute is solidly “for-democracy.”

On the other hand, as evidenced by your remarks, you will have a hard time making the case that consolidation is “for-democracy.” 

As I read it, you are claiming the truth of these three premises: 1) Your opportunity to have a voice in our democracy is improved if your unit of democracy has a huge population, rather than a small population. 2) Your voice has less significant when more citizens are empowered in our democracy. 3) It is much easier to hold officials of large jurisdictions accountable than to hold officials of small jurisdictions accountable. I can’t imagine how these premises could be the basis for an argument that consolidation is “for-democracy.”

As I noted, I’m glad for our history of supporting each other in efforts to democratize the MCDP. Transforming political parties — Republican and Democratic — so that they are grassroots rank-and-file deliberative democracy organizations must be part of a “for-democracy” vision for the region. Our opportunity is to imagine how we can use the notion of vitalizing the present system to gain wide public support for a general “for-democracy” movement. We need to build pride in the grassroots and use that pride to advance a “for-democracy” plan of transformation at the local level. Our challenge is to write a comprehensive “for-democracy” plan the entire OH-10 region. There is a real opportunity, I believe, to gain wide-spread non-partisan agreement for a compelling vision of a “for-democracy” future.  

Mike Bock

ORC 325.17 says that the county prosecutor “shall fix the compensation” of his or her employees. That’s a lot of authority. The only limitation is: “employees’ compensation shall not exceed, in the aggregate, for each office, the amount fixed by the board of county commissioners for that office.” So, this would imply that the prosecutor does not need the approval of the commissioners for distributing bonuses — so long as the total compensation for the year doesn’t exceed the amount budgeted by the Commission.

The Commissioners, if they chose to do so, could prohibit this practice of awarding bonuses, but instead they have condoned this practice for many years. 

The law that says, “the compensation of each such deputy, assistant, bookkeeper, clerk, and other employee shall be paid biweekly from the county treasury.” The law requires a biweekly payment schedule be used. However, it could be argued that the law doesn’t require that all payments made on that schedule be of equal amount.