How the Monarchy of Montgomery County Works: The AJ Wagner Affair

Rightfully, the outgoing governor, Ted Strickland, overruled Judge AJ Wagner on his retirement reversal- but only after former Montgomery County Democratic Party Chairman Dennis Lieberman stepped in to mediate.

The Dayton Daily News even came out against the Crown Prince Wagner in an editorial, but of course will endorse him again when he runs for his next office:

Gov. Strickland chose lawyer Steve Dankof. Upon that decision, Judge Wagner overruled Judge Wagner, reversing his decision to retire.

He had a reason that will strike many people as nice: He wanted to save the job of a particular employee. Mr. Dankof was not promising to employ that person. Judge Wagner said he had no other reason for the timing of his original decision to retire than to save the jobs of his employees….

His course was no great service to his employees. It thrust them and their interests into the spotlight….

Judge Wagner is widely seen as wanting to be mayor of Dayton. He decided to resign in 2010 from a judgeship he sought just two years ago, in 2008. So he’s apparently done a lot of mind changing.

via Editorial: Wagner wrong to try to veto Strickland | A Matter of Opinion.

Why AJ felt it so important to resign- with four years left on his term can only be because he had planned to run for something else- or has another nice job lined up. The reversal to protect one of his three employees is a joke- had he finished his term- they’d be employed for another four years.

Steve Dankof knew one of the employees wasn’t fit to work in his office- there is an investigation about missing evidence in a case- and the evidence is cash.

Enter the fixer- Denis Lieberman, who negotiated a deal- AJ resigns, the party backs him in his next race, Dankof takes office- and the employee in question- with the initials G. C. – gets a sweet little gig at the home for party people we don’t want the public to see in the basement of the County Building- that’s right, at The Board of Elections (where Lieberman sits on the board collecting $20K a year to meet 2x a month).

Yes, the Monarchy of Montgomery County once again shows us that friends and family take precedence over competence and professionalism.

At least Judge Dankof refused to let his reputation be besmirched by playing the games that AJ Wagner believes in.

The real question is why Judge Wagner is getting a hall pass- he’s made a mockery of the system with his antics.

[UPDATE] 7 JAN 2011 – reported in comments:  AJ Wagner is now the “new” magistrate in Dayton Municipal Court replacing C. Roberts who was appointed judge.

There should be a law that says when a public office holder resigns from an elected office- midterm, they cannot serve in a similar position unless it is a move to a higher government position- i.e.- being appointed to a state or federal position. This kind of musical chairs makes a mockery of the elections.

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