Apparently, it’s not OK to ask about a County Commissioners taxes

The local Republican Party chief and Board of Elections member, Rob Scott is sending out a letter/Press Release about the taping of the “debate” between County Commission candidates that was taped last night.

SET VIA EMAIL, FAX, REGULAR U.S. MAIL
September 28, 2012

Ms. Susan Hesselgesser
Executive Director
League of Women Voters of Greater Dayton Area
131 N. Ludlow St., Suite 1208
Dayton, OH 45402-1703

RE: Montgomery County Commission Candidate’s Ashley Webb and Debbie Lieberman

Ms. Hessellgesser,

Greetings. This letter is regarding the recently taped League of Women Voters of Greater Dayton Area forum that was taped by the Miami Valley Cable Council yesterday.

Accordingly, it has been brought to my attention that the League is thinking about not airing the forum between Montgomery County Commission candidates Ashley Webb and Debbie Lieberman. I understand the reasoning is due to Mr. Webb bringing to light the issue of Ms. Lieberman’s back taxes owed to the Federal government during an answer to a question.

Also, it has been brought to my attention that your organization is allowing Ms. Lieberman and/or by her campaign to review the taped comments from the forum for her or their approval.

I want to remind you that not airing candidates’ comments is clearly partisan politics and allowing a candidate or their campaign to review the comments is also partisan. The League of Women Voters of Greater Dayton Area has a history of claiming that the organization is nonpartisan and does not support nor oppose any candidate and/or political party.

I strongly encourage you that all candidates’ comments be aired in their entirety.

Respectfully,

Rob Scott, Chairman
Montgomery County Republican Party

VIA: http://library.constantcontact.com/download/get/file/1101255372438-189/league.letter.pdf

Considering the issue of back taxes has been covered in the Dayton Daily News- and that Debbie Lieberman is paid around $85K a year to be a commissioner and her husband, Dennis Lieberman, formerly of the Board of Elections was paid around $20K a year to be on the board, this is more than fair game. Considering candidates for office are asked to file all kinds of ridiculous financial disclosure and they are being elected to manage our tax dollars.

The League of Women Voters has no right to edit the tape, nor allow candidates to review it. This is one of the reasons I began the practice of recording all my campaign speeches and interviews and sharing them here.

Webb should be congratulated for not slipping entirely into the mud by bringing up Ms. Lieberman’s drunk driving incident- which is still available on YouTube.

Personally, I have no problem with either candidate, and believe there are much bigger issues to discuss- like the oversight of a County Administrator that ran amok for years with little oversight or accountability, or the amount of nepotism in the county building and especially, the Board of Elections.

Running for political office takes a thick skin and the ability to withstand excruciating exposure. It’s a large part of why most people aren’t willing to run. There is no reason at all not to ask the question- or to respond. Considering the amount of taxes due (reported over $100,000 at one time) and the amount of tax supported income at one time, makes this a very fair question by Mr. Webb.

Ms. Lieberman shouldn’t have any problem responding to this question- and voters should be able to hear it.

UPDATE

Sep 29 7:30 am My cell phone got a lot of texts last night after this story went live. From both candidates. The Dayton Daily News had the opportunity to interview the Director of the League of Women’s Voters, and also, possibly got to review the video in question. The following adds to the original story

This “forum” seems to have been missing something fundamental- there is a third candidate in this race, William Pace. Apparently he declined the opportunity to be involved- and the DDN makes no mention of his candidacy in their article.

Apparently my lack of sleep had me mixing up races – Pace is the third candidate in the Dodge/Vore race.

The forum occurred Thursday at the Miami Valley Communications Council offices and featured Montgomery County Commissioner Debbie Lieberman, a Democrat running for re-election, and Kettering City Councilman Ashley Webb, a Republican challenger. The forum was organized by the League of Women Voters of the Greater Dayton Area.

According to Susan Hesselgesser, the League’s executive director, at the end of the 10- to 12-minute segment Webb was asked about what specific project he would like to see accomplished if he were elected. She said Webb’s answer was only briefly on topic before he brought up a 2009 Dayton Daily News report about a federal tax lien totaling $132,565 that named Lieberman’s husband, attorney Dennis Lieberman, as well as Debbie Lieberman.

Hesselgesser said the response went against the league’s policy about sticking to issues and avoiding personal attacks. Webb said his answer to the question was that he would like to eliminate the perception of a lack of integrity in Montgomery County. He cited the Lieberman’s tax issues as well as an August report that county officials did not contact law enforcement when they suspected an employee theft of $5,700. instead allowing the employee to quit her job and pay back the money.

via Voter group may not air candidate forum over ugly exchange | www.daytondailynews.com.

Having taken part in other League of Women’s Voters candidates forums, I’ve been the subject of “rule changing” after the fact. In a forum, held in the former “C-space,” now “The Vault” bar, on Jefferson, I used my time to speak by moving around- at some points standing behind my opponents while I talked about them. Since no podium was provided- and the space had huge columns- and we were “assigned” seating- I not only felt it necessary to get up and move- but took advantage of the opportunity. I also believe that candidates are responsible for choices they make- outside of office. The fact that Congressman Turner’s wife was working on no-bid contracts for the regional, partially tax supported “development/lobbying” agency- the Dayton Development Coalition, as well as doing work for the Federal Government on a GSA schedule is relevant to a candidates fitness.

The Lieberman’s are tax issues shouldn’t be off limits- especially since he has an appointed position that pays $20K a year for what amounts to a 2 meeting per month job most of the time (as I said above). Webb’s claims of business acumen also need to be properly vetted- and his professional background is pertinent to his claims of competence. Part of the reason our system is failing to give us good choices at the polls is that our political system has very little in the way of job descriptions for elected office and a “hiring system” that now is more like an auction. The only qualifications that now seems to be an unquestionable preparation for office is either a law degree, trust fund or wealth or, in a few cases- be famous like Jesse Ventura, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Al Franken or former Carmel California Mayor, Clint Eastwood. Locally- having a name of a well known elected official helps too- like Foley or McLin.

There will be more to this story.

I’m also working on an early voting guide- even though for the most part, I don’t think that voting early is a good idea, since we seem to learn the most in the last days of an election- good or bad.

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3 Responses

  1. Pat Offenberger September 29, 2012 / 12:44 am
    Yet somehow it seems to me that Deb ain’t gonna be held to account for this, much as she skated on her DUI. How many people get a pass when they’re drunk on their ass as she was? Not many, I’m betting.
    But, I’ll give you “props” for bringing this to light!

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  2. Bone October 1, 2012 / 8:18 am
    Don’t forget to ask Mr. Scott why he approves the outrageous salaries the Director and Dep. Director make at the Board Of Elections. Why doesn’t  he raise a fuss over that? Is he a fiscal conservative or just another big spend R? The statute says only one Director is needed at the BOE and they continue to spend like money is grown on trees. Give me a break!!!!!!! 

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  3. David Esrati October 1, 2012 / 11:06 am

    The story continues in the DDN today: http://www.daytondailynews.com/news/news/local-govt-politics/county-commission-candidate-forum-will-be-broadcas/nSQNm/

    Of course- the League of Women Voters is still shy about the fundamental usefulness of these forums- where candidates should be able to debate- and ask the other candidates the questions. It’s time to let the people who enter the ring- actually show what they are made of- and why they are running.

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