Database 101 for Board of Elections

In today’s Dayton Daily news, Mike Bock, publisher of www.DaytonOS.com, had a letter to the editor urging Dems to run for precinct captain seats. He also covered it in a few posts on his site:

I’m a precinct captain, elected to Dayton 1-D, but how do I know that? Well, funny you should ask.

I’m supposed to be able to go to this site and look up my voter status and polling location: http://www.mcohio.org/boe/voter_information/voter_reg_lookup.cfm

Unfortunately, the middle name field is required, and I can’t look myself up because I don’t have a middle name.

But, my parents who live across the street do have middle names. I can find my father, Stephen G, but when searching for my mother, Nina B, no such person.

What’s more interesting is according to the county site, they are in Dayton 1-E. I was elected to Dayton 1-D, and when calling the current director, Jan Kelly she confirmed those assignments.

Now, here’s where it gets interesting. I have a database of all Dayton voters for my campaign- at www.electesrati.com and it has me in 1-D, but I also have a list of the entire county loaded at www.independentdayton.com and that list, downloaded from the Secretary of States site, http://www2.sos.state.oh.us/pls/voter/f?p=111:1 has me in Dayton 1-E and my parents in 1-F.

Stupid question, but isn’t that the core, most essential information maintained by election officials? Shouldn’t something as simple as what precinct you are in be correct?

Screen shot of Ohio Secretary of States voter data for David Esrati showing wrong precinct

The Secretary of State isn’t told the truth, how can you trust our elections officers?

You can look up my voter location by first searching my name at http://voterlookup.sos.state.oh.us/voterlookup.aspx however it’s a 2-step dance, then having to click on my name to see the polling location: which comes up with Dayton 1-E (see screen shot)

I’d show you mine from the county site, but, alas, I can’t see my registration there because I don’t have a middle name.

When I told Director Kelly about the problem with middle names, she said they’d work on it “if they got more complaints.”

Quite frankly, this Board of Elections can’t be trusted to maintain their own website in the first place. When I wrote the first post in this series, they still had election dates for 2013 posted and that was on Jan 12, 2014 (since updated).

Note, there are no tools for candidates to download the “correct” voter data file from Montgomery County on the county site. With a turn-in deadline of Tuesday for petitions, any questions of voting precinct should be ruled null and void at this point, since the data isn’t verifiable or accurate.

An investigation should also be started since this is probably typical of most county board of elections in the State of Ohio- which are run by un-elected political pogues in patronage positions instead of by qualified election professionals. Never mind the fact that in Montgomery County, they are handpicked by the parties- who engage in what amounts to racketeering- filling the lowly precinct captain positions with people who get paid by the politicians they select and elect through illegal closed door “screening committee” meetings.

The integrity of election data is, and should be, one of the most sacred duties of any public servant. Unfortunately, in Montgomery County, and by extension now the State of Ohio, we look like our elections are being run by amateurs.

There are five different “approved” voter database vendors in the State of Ohio. The question is why? The fact that there are discrepancies between the databases in this instance make one question the integrity of all. There are also difference in field naming, data contained within the fields, lacks of easily sourced data keys (for non-party people trying to utilize this data) and different data maintained by state and local boards. Examples including how election dates are maintained (Montgomery county uses a letter P, S, G and a date 140506 while the State uses the much less cryptic format 05/06/14). The County uses the most arcane, and technically inept way of indicating if someone voted early, absentee or at the polls- using a lower case or capital letter in the election field- something most databases can’t sort on (capitalization) instead of a separate searchable field.

I could go on to point out that I still have a real question of how when sending out postcards to people who requested an absentee ballot via mail, or voted early (can’t tell the difference thanks to their data format) I get returns of first class mail to those voters- saying “undeliverable” – yet they vote.

My confidence in the entire voter registration, Montgomery County Board of Elections, Ohio Secretary of state’s office is nil. I’m currently awaiting a call back from the SOS office, about my latest findings. If you need a visual, here it is:

 

Screenshots of same voter, from two different precints.

My father votes in the same place, but the precinct name changes

ScareCenter 7 shuts our city down (again)

On Valentine’s day in 2007 I wrote a post that said:

we do a lousy job of clearing the streets in Dayton and there should be no excuse.

via The economic impact of snow days.

Of course there was more in that post, including the question of why every truck in the city wasn’t turned into a plow and every employee learning how to plow, so that we keep the economic engine running… but that’s too much like solving a problem for Dayton. We prefer to bury our heads in the snow.

On my way to hockey on Sunday night, I had to drive out the ice-covered streets in South Park to get to the main roads. In Kettering, miraculously, it was as if I’m on another planet, the side streets are clear. Hello?

Cold isn’t a reason to close school systems, unless your furnace doesn’t work. Minot ND doesn’t shut down at -10 degrees and neither should we. The economic impact of parents having to stay home to watch kids is devastating. The loss of business to every business that depends on consumers leaving their homes is also painful. The idea of “snow emergencies” where you are supposed to stay off the roads, is pure idiocy with less than a foot of snow, and even then- that’s why man invented snow plows.

I’ve got to admit, that since I wrote the post I mentioned at the beginning of this one, I’ve bought an all-wheel drive car. It does very well in this weather- but the reality is that we have no excuse for the ice rink on Bonner Street other than the misguided leadership that gave a tax break to GE but can’t plow the streets.

How are those engineers supposed to get to work to invent the transporter from Star Trek, Madame Mayor?

What people don’t realize is that having the list of closings on Cox’s websites sure does give them a lot of page views on a slow news day. It’s time to stop letting ScareCenter 7 ruin our economy. It’s time for Dayton to fire its economic development department and a few assistant city managers and hire people who can do the job the city is supposed to do- clear our streets. And, last but not least, it’s time to stop listening to “ScareCenter 7”- just because the Cox puzzle palace feeds on fear, our city shouldn’t stop doing what it’s doing.

Put layers on people, drive a little slower, and get back to work.

 

 

Dayton Daily news/Cox Ohio does the reorg dance- again

In November, the last of what I call the “typewriter brigade” left the building. The old-timers (not really old enough to remember editing copy with scissors and rubber cement paste pot) were the last bastion of true institutional knowledge in the building, took a buyout and tossed their steno books.

With the exception of Tom Archdeacon and maybe one or two others, the last of the true writers disappeared. And with even fewer people in the “integrated newsroom of the future” it didn’t take long to realize, that there were sometimes only one or two people under a manager. Yes, there were chiefs everywhere and even fewer Indians.

So over the last few days- managers were demoted to reporters, and the shuffle begins again- seeking the ultimate combination of low pay and low expectations to create products that aren’t integrated at all in the newsroom of the future.

Apparently there is still an major issue to be resolved with the differing pay scales between news-paper vs news-tv photographers, with the tv guys unhappy with the higher pay of the paper guys. Not that there are any visuals in the paper anymore- or that the video on TV is much more than car wrecks and crime scenes. Again, in the pursuit of the mighty ad dollar, the idea of hiring and paying people who can tell a story isn’t even on their doppler radar.

As long as they can write 3 stories a week fed to them by the Dayton Development Coalition, and run countless “ScareCenter 7” stories about the weather and the “polar vortex” they think they are producing product worth not only reading- but paying for.

There are stories all over this city of people doing interesting things. There are smart businessmen creating the future without government handouts, and there are college professors creating new, original research. There is an Air Force Base that runs programs that the military doesn’t want or need- and congressmen who work for those who buy them. Yet none of this is what makes the paper- because it takes work to tell those stories.

In a fitting reminder of what real journalism is about, today, at 6pm, PBS Newshour ran former DDn Photo Editor Larry Price‘s piece about compressor mining in the Philippines. The practice is a deadly game of chance for those who work for hours at a time to dig ore from the bottom of 40-foot, water-filled pits. Many are children- and all are exposed to the poison mercury which is used to separate the gold from the silt.

http://www.pbs.org/newshour/multimedia/philippinesmine/8.html

Price, btw, has won the Pulitzer prize twice. Publisher Julia Wallace and Editor Jana Collier wouldn’t know what makes a Pulitzer possible if their lives depended on it.

I still read the DDn everyday. My biggest decision is to read it before or after I read the NY Times. I’ve not figured out which way makes me feel smarter- but then again, these days it doesn’t take long to read the DDn, esp. once I skip all the wire copy, there’s not much left.

A few tips to save your time: If the byline is by DL Stewart, Mary McCarty (correction left with the typewriter brigade) or Amelia Robinson- skip it. If it’s by Lynn Hulsey, prepare to read it twice to try to figure out what she’s trying to say. If it’s by Ron Rollins- expect it mostly to be quotes to softball questions or a lightweight treatment of serious issues. Why it takes more than one “editor” to deal with the 2 pages of “editorial” is beyond me.  If you are reading on the iPad app- be prepared for it to be slow to load, confused as to what date it is, and devoid of useful digital features. And if you see a teaser on Facebook- know that it’s just a ploy to get you to hit the paywall- so don’t. As to commenting on FB about DDn stories- stop yourself- you’re just feeding the trolls. And lastly, know that if they do steal a story from esrati.com, they’ll never give it credit like a professional news organization does. That’s why I don’t feel dirty when I pay the Dayton Business Journal for my subscription.

 

 

Can’t we just have an election without political party interference in Dayton?

It came today. I’m not sure why. I almost didn’t want to write about it, to give it more credit than it’s due, but there it was- an unsigned glossy printed postcard smearing local attorney Richard Skelton for possibly running  as an REP against DEM Judge Frances McGee Cromartie. Note, the filing deadline isn’t until Feb 5- and neither candidate has filed. The email was upset that Skelton voted D in 3 out of the last 4 elections, and was running as an R so as not to tick off the local Dems. Please Dick- tick them off. And, you have my vote and support. (McGee is the daughter of former Mayor James H McGee).

But- that’s not stopping the Montgomery County Democratic Party from holding their endorsement meeting tomorrow night (Jan 23rd, 2014).  With the filing deadline now 90 days before a primary instead of 60, and this being a primary in May- where ostensibly the party at large is supposed to decide who is to advance, I’m not sure why the Dems think they need to screen and endorse, other than to scare people away from running.

According to the BOE candidates list- from people who have taken out petitions- there are only a few contested races:

10th Congresional District
U.S. Representative Lib David A. Harlow 2243 Keenan Ave. Dayton 45414
U.S. Representative Dem Robert P. Klepinger 2483 Division Ave. Dayton 45414
U.S. Representative Dem Thomas F. McMasters 6934 Sylmar Ct. Huber Heights 45424
U.S. Representative Rep Michael R. Turner (incumbent) 109 N. Main St. Dayton 45402

Note- you don’t see my name running, because I need to concentrate on my business and my plan to start a summer basketball program all over Dayton this summer. Tom McMasters was just elected mayor of Huber Heights, so I’m not sure what his intentions are other than making sure people don’t have to vote for Turner. He came in 4th behind me, Olivia Freeman and Sharen Neuhardt last time.

Harlow also ran 2 years ago- and was a train wreck on the campaign trail.

5th State Senate District
State Senator Dem Dolores A Gillis 546 Michael Pl. Tipp City 45371
State Senator Dem Joseph E. Lacey 207 E. 6th St. Apt. 305 Dayton 45402

Lacey was just elected to another term on the Dayton School Board in a virtually uncontested race (1 write in vs. 4 on the ballot for 4 seats).

39th State House District
State Representative Dem William James Pace 1325 Salem Ave. Dayton 45406
State Representative Dem Fred Strahorn (incumbent) 531 Belmonte Park North Apt. 1001 Dayton

Pace is a founding member of the Independent movement in Dayton- see www.independentdayton.com

Strahorn was appointed to finish the term of Clayton Luckie who is in prison for playing fast and loose with campaign money. He was then elected. He had served previously as State Senator in OH-5 losing to Bill Beagle in a very expensive race in 2010. Before that he had termed out of a house seat.

Montgomery County
Auditor Rep Harry Bossey 128 Edinburch Village Dr. Centerville 45458
Auditor Dem Karl L. Keith (Incumbent) 221 Watervliet Ave. Dayton 45420
Auditor Rep Scott A. Kramer 920 New England Ave. Kettering 45429

The complete 3-page document with people who have taken out petitions is here: Montgomery County BOE Candidate Report

If you’ve been following my latest exposé on the BOE and the Dem party central committee, you know all about how we’ve got the friends and family plan interfering with the democratic process and free, open and honest elections in Montgomery County. Please consider running to be a Dem precinct captain (it only takes 5-10 signatures) and help put a stop to this anti-democratic process. See this post for details: http://esrati.com/monarchy_of_montgomery_county_boe_central_committees/10740/

There is one candidate bucking the system in the next election- former Dayton Mayor Gary Leitzell, who is running for County Commission as an independent. Instead of needing just 50 signatures to get on the ballot, he’s required to get over 1,800 (plus another 800 insurance signatures to be safe) to run. He doesn’t have to turn them in until much later- since he has no primary. Good luck to Gary.

 

 

 

There’s more sunshine in the county than in the city

Last week I made an identical request for public records from the county and the city. In Montgomery County you send your request to the Auditor’s office, run by Karl Keith, the elected Democrat who is also Vice-Chair of the Montgomery County Democratic Party. They have a very informative page with all the info you need to fill out a request here: http://www.mcohio.org/government/auditor/public_records_policy.html

I asked:

“I’d like a spreadsheet with the names of all county employees- title and department, home zip code and the street number of their home.
Thank you very much.”

I immediately got an automated reply saying they had received the request. A few days later I got another email clarifying the request:

After reviewing your public records request, further clarification is needed.  Please clarify that the information you are requesting is listed below…

  • Names of all county employees
  • Title and Department
  • Home Zip Code
  • Home street number

Please respond to this email to confirm or clarify if the above criterion is accurate or inaccurate.

Thank You

I said that was correct and thank you. The next day it showed up. Exactly what I asked for.

On the other hand, the request to the city generated this response from Tom Biedenharn, from the city’s office of public affairs. The city FOIA request page is here: http://www.cityofdayton.org/departments/pa/Pages/PublicInformationRequest.aspx

David,

We have completed your request to the extent that we can.  However, according to a previous Ohio Supreme Court ruling, State ex rel Dispatch Printing Company vs. Johnson, 2005 – 106 Ohio St. 3d, 160 (see attached), home addresses of public employees are not subject to Open Records Requests since they do not fall under the definition of a record that “documents the activities” of the organization.  Please find attached a document containing the other information you requested.

Thank you.

Tom Biedenharn
Office of Public Affairs

He included a 24 page PDF explaining why it was none of my business to get the home zip code and house number of city employees. I’m including a copy of it here: Case re public request for employee addresses

And while the response with the list of employees was almost instant- even with going back and forth, he stood his ground.

Please note, that if you are a registered voter in the state of Ohio- anyone, can go to the Secretary of State site and download the voter files, with your full name, address, birth year, gender, political party affiliation, and voting record (if you voted- not who you voted for). Yet, asking where the people we pay to work for us are is private?

Note, I was careful, not to ask for home addresses- just a zip code and a house number. I really don’t care where you live, but I was trying to corroborate something that I think is of major interest to the taxpayers of our county: Who is getting patronage jobs- and how they are controlling elections.

But, that’s the beauty of the Sunshine Laws- I don’t have to explain why I’m asking. The fact that the two government entities treat my request differently is an issue. But, what’s more important is what I found and posted in a previous post:

The “Monarchy of Montgomery County” starts in the BOE and the party central committees – See more at: “The “Monarchy of Montgomery County” starts in the BOE and party central committees”
What I found by cross referencing the two employee lists, with the voter database, with the list from the Board of Elections of who was elected in 2010 to the Montgomery County Democratic Central Committee- was that of the 361 precincts, 175 are empty, 186 are filled. 84 are people I could identify as either: government workers, elected officials, union heads, former elected officials, relatives of employees, and I’m sure if I had some insiders helping out, we’d have even more. To me, this is a conflict of interest- an EPIC FAIL to running open and honest elections, because in Montgomery County, the parties endorse pre-primary. That’s right, the party central committees, made up of the friends and family of elected officials – the people who can hire and fire government workers, pick a secret subset of these people, to serve on the “Screening Committee” that picks the winners and losers- and oversees the elections.
If you wonder what a “Screening Committee” meeting sounds like- I recorded one and posted it (they were mad) – I just can’t find it right now. Here’s a post that has the written questions: http://esrati.com/answers-to-the-montgomery-county-democratic-party-screening-committee/521/
The one question that always gets asked- “If we don’t endorse you, will you drop out.” Let me ask you, when that’s the question- why have primaries at all?
Is this really how a democracy works?
Do you still have the full trust in your government now knowing that your home address isn’t protected and city employees addresses are? That the party central committees- which only require 5 signatures to run- get to decide who runs in elections, who gets endorsed and most importantly- picks who runs the election itself?
This is nothing short of organized crime.
Want to do something about it? Let’s fill the 175 empty seats- and a flip a few of the others- and stop this “friends and family program.”
Are you with me?