It’s time for an elected ethics officer in the county

[UPDATED WITH CLARIFICATIONS – 1 DEC] We elect a coroner, an auditor, a clerk of courts, an engineer and a sheriff. But, when it comes to the people who oversee those elections- they are appointed by the political parties- people we don’t elect.

And- for every position, the taxpayers get to pay two people- one Republican and one Democrat- as if this balance of power is somehow going to keep our elections honest.

The problem is that there is no one watching over the hen house- and the hen house is full of foxes, liars and people of limited morality.

If we as voters had a choice, maybe we should be electing a chief ethics officer for the county,  who would  oversee a department that investigates complaint about government employees breaking the rules and to oversee elections to keep things honest.

We need a total housecleaning in the Montgomery County Board of Elections- and the removal of all four current board members, who have chosen to look the other way on so many things it would make your head spin.

But, let’s start with an easy one. Back in 2006 the board set a policy of residency required in Montgomery County to work there – because you have to be a resident to work at the polls. They fired a Chris Heizer appointment who lived in Miami County over it [The fired worker got a job at the Miami County BOE]. Yet, for the last 6 months, Mark Owens, our Clerk of Courts and the Dem Party Chairman, has managed to get his brother, Dave, a job at the BOE despite living in Fairborn- Greene County.

UPDATE

This means Mr. Owens can’t work at the polls or troubleshoot on election day

There is also the question of why Ricky Boyd who was placed in the BOE to do, well, menial work while waiting for his court case to finish on his termination for cause at the Health Department. Conveniently, his case wasn’t resolved until he had his 30 years in, and while “working” at the BOE he was often seen reading the paper- or even caught taking naps in his car. This is in an office where security cameras are  in place to allow the director and deputy director to watch employees to make sure they aren’t doing something like Facebook on the job, and aren’t allowed to listen to MP3 players while doing data entry.

And while we saw a public firing of Tony Tipps for forging a signature on an absentee ballot, we also saw a 3-day suspension handed out to Beverly King who hired her brother, a Tier 3 sex offender, without a job application, and the quiet firing of another employee for sexual harassment, for contacting another employee outside the workplace- despite her discussions in the workplace about the size of a senior employee’s “package” in the office.

And while no laws were broken when the chatterbox took a trip to Miami to bunk with a high-level employee on BOE business, proof was presented  to by the Board- and no action was taken- despite the high-level employee being married and being the direct supervisor of the chatterbox.

Yes, if we had a chief ethics officer in Montgomery County- the “Monarchy of Montgomery County” would be no more- and we’d have a lot less Peyton Place going on, and probably get more for our tax dollars than we’re getting now.

But, since we don’t have an ethics officer, or an investigative journalist at the “Newspaper”- you have me. I apologize for not doing a better job in advance.

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23 Responses

  1. Teri L December 1, 2010 / 8:21 am
    It’s small stuff, too. Over the weekend my father was telling us about his voting location- sorry, don’t know exactly where it is in Dayton- which has two large photo portraits hanging in the entryway: One is of Dan Foley, and the other is of Karl Keith. My dad has complained about this blatant advertising in a poling place on several occasions, and has been met with varying degrees of indifference to outright laughter. It doesn’t matter the party to my father, it’s that everyone else is supposed to comply with the rules of 100 feet. This past November he made a big enough stink to get someone’s attention, but this was the 2nd or 3rd time he’s complained. He’s not running for anything, he’s just a citizen trying to vote. You think he has any faith in the BOE? In Foley or Keith? It’s sends signals of corruption, true or not, it makes ordinary citizens doubt the ability of the BOE to conduct their business openly and honestly, and that’s really a shame for the BOE.

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  2. Henry December 1, 2010 / 12:34 pm
    Harsman stole 150,000 worth of Diebold equipment. Kept them in a locked closet that only Thomasson and Tipps had access to! When asked about it he said”you’ll have to talk to my attorney” Doug Tully tried to bring it all out in the open but it was never heard of again. Board members were getting fried left and right, that is probably the only reason it was never brought to the table. Republicians were afriad of losing their Board Seats?

    Harsman used the county van to pick up drywall for his house he was building. Had county employees working at his place and was there on a daily basis checking on progress.

    Harsman gets bonases worth thousands of dollars of taxpays dollars. On top of his !00,000 salery. Oh did I mention the OT he sucked out of the county. That is $75-$100 a hour to chase his secetary around the office.

    But the topper is when he blamed Paul Harris for sexual harressment for somrthing Paul didn’t do. LAWSUIT!!

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  3. Jennifer Alexander December 1, 2010 / 12:39 pm
    It would be great if someone or the DDN did an investigated look into The Ohio Association of Election Officials & their current & past lobbyist Aaron Ockerman (who was also a lobbyist for the City of Dayton) A paper trail of the memberships dues & fees that County taxes are covering for the BOE employees & Board members to the OAEO and travel expenses to related events. The relationship of Aaron Ockerman (past lobbyist for Diebold electronic voting machine vendor) then the lobbyist for the OAEO, who purchased these machines in many counties including Montgomery & Greene. We the taxpayers pay membership dues to several other national Election Officials groups also & convention trips where they are all being wined & dined by lobbyist & vendors.
    Not only does Montgomery County need to clean house at the BOE, but in most Ohio BOE’s
    The $ everyone is bitching about in unused paper ballots is small compared to the $ spend of these DRE’s, they upkeep, transportation, rental, storage, training, and troubleshooting. Have we forgotten SOS Brunner’s Everest study of these faulty & risky machines?
    http://www.faqs.org/tax-exempt/OH/Ohio-Association-Of-Election-Officials.html
    http://electiondefensealliance.org/OEJC
     
     
    http://electiondefensealliance.org/OEJC
     
     

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  4. Judy December 1, 2010 / 2:08 pm
    What is going on at the Board of Elections? Everything said above cannot be true. Maybe the SOS should investigate?

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  5. Jennifer Alexander December 1, 2010 / 3:13 pm
    At this point, it just needs to be handed over to the AG, with the SOS office & all 88 BOE’s bing investigated.

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  6. DP December 1, 2010 / 3:32 pm
    It’s all true! As a 10+ year county employee working just floors above the BOE, all of this is common knowledge. Most folks you have listed here have been moved to other offices in this building after leaving that place. Ask those that no longer work there, but who are still employed by elected Dem’s why they left.

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  7. George Costanza December 1, 2010 / 4:12 pm
    And {I’m} bald too! That thing looks like a Sitting Bull scalp on [my} head. {editors note- no personal attacks allowed on this site}

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  8. LaKisha December 1, 2010 / 4:42 pm
    This stuff is better than jerry springer!!! Wat Up!!!!

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  9. Dem Attack December 2, 2010 / 7:21 am
    [Editors note- if you want to attack people by name- you have to sign yours- redacted]

    It seems like someone has been picking on the Democratics(Dem Attack)

    How about the shopping trips, on county time, to the outlet malls and gun shops.

    [Dem Attack] has been working there for years at the BOE and has no professional skills. She used to be the PARTY coordinator, but they took that away from her. They won’t even let her work the polls bc she screws that up too.

    Throwing [Dem Attack] under the bus for being set up and by [Dem Attack].

    The Rep. head of the Absentee Dept, regularly comes in drunk and smokes pot in her car in the county garage. She was so drunk on election, she had tp go home. [Dem Attack] was told she was drunk and [Dem Attack] tried to hide her problem by giving her breath mints instead of firing her.

    The most serious crime of late: They republicians had a candidate that would have filed her petitions late. But surprise! With a stroke of a pen, changed the date on the petition (Back-Dated) and turned it in on time. Can you say felony!

    [Dem Attack] regularly takes family members to lavish vacations sites ( So Called Conferances) all paid by the county taxpayer. This money could be spent on repairing bridges instead of vacations.

    Gotta go to work-more to come

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  10. Wilma December 3, 2010 / 8:09 am
    Is anyone  doing something about this? So very very sad.  Why don’t the elected officials do something? What are you elected for? To help the people?

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  11. Prevparttimer December 7, 2010 / 8:52 pm
    Yeah I worked there as a part-timer and oh boy the things I saw…. Absolutely disgusting! Chatterbox-definitely know who that is. She’s one naughty former librarian! The directors door was definitely always closed when they were meeting. I felt bad for her. The director (a married man) would treat her like trash most days. Disgusting!

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  12. theonlysane1here December 8, 2010 / 9:58 pm
    PLEASE….dont say brilliant and Esrati in the same sentence…I get it makes me ill…you have no idea
    what you are ranting about…once again..and neither do your 5 followers.  PLEASE go back to school
    and get a clue….PLEASE??!! 

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  13. Paul December 9, 2010 / 7:58 am
    Overspending,Adultry,Drug Use, Fixing the Elections, and Criminal Acts. Yeah that sounds right for the BOE. I worked the for the 2008 election, they need to clean house! Like everything else, it wiil be dismissed. Why dosen’t the paper do a story? Alot of material here. Why dosen’t Esrati hand this over to SOS-DDN?

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  14. David Esrati December 9, 2010 / 9:19 am

    @Paul- if you don’t think this blog isn’t well read in the “Cox Media Center” you’re smoking something. They know I’ve scooped them- their egos get in the way of doing the story right.

    And while Jennifer Brunner has a month left in office- she won’t do anything- Jon Husted may have an axe to grind when he takes office- and the Dem side of the house may all be up on charges. We will see.

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  15. Mr. K December 9, 2010 / 5:53 pm
    It’s Time to Blow the Whistle on the Montgomery County Board of Elections
    I was an employee of Montgomery County for over 5 years and the amount of theft, fraud and abuse at the Board of Elections was absolutely out of control and almost legendary. If a proper investigation was completed of the Board of Elections the current Director and Deputy Director would not only be fired they could easily end up in prison. The following are just a sample of some of the issues regarding the Board of Elections.
    How can the public trust a Deputy Director that employs someone with hit and skip charges, a drug parafinalia conviction and current substance abuse issues to run the absentee ballot department? How can the public trust our ballots to a Board of Elections Director that was on probation for 2 years? Is it true that once a month for the last 10 years the Director has left his office and taken a county vehicle to get his “hair system” reattached on the taxpayers time? All the public would need to do is find out which “hair system” company he goes to and find out how often he comes in and at what time for his appointments.
    The accusations about the theft/fraud of electronic voting machines by the Director are true. I have an inside source that told me she knows a current employee that took pictures of the serial numbers of electronic voting machines that were defrauded from the Diebold corporation by the Director that were valued at well over $200,000. If the Director really did commit this act of theft/fraud it would be easy prove though some public records requests.
    How much money has the Director and Deputy Director spent traveling to conferences with their family or women they are having affairs with over the last 5 years? Both traveled to places like San Diego, San Antonio, Chicago, and Miami to take classes they could have taken in Ohio for a fraction of the cost. How much did they spend on airline tickets, food, entertainment, and rental cars for all of these trips? How much has the average salary of the Director and Deputy Director gone in over the last 10 years compared to the average salary of the other employees in the office? The answers to all of these questions could be answered by doing a good public records request.
    My source at the Board of Elections says that the comments listed above are just the tip of the iceberg. My source has also told me that she has the paper work to prove that in the November 7, 2006 election several hundred provisional voters were only issued page one of a two page ballot because the Director and Deputy Director never informed the poll workers that there were two pages instead of one. How is that possible? Is Montgomery County disenfranchising voters like they did in Florida?
    If the current and past employees of the Board of Elections would decide to stand up and tell their story this out of control mess could finally be brought to an end. The only way to resolve these issues is to have a full investigation and make the findings public. I hope the new Secretary of State will finally “drain the swamp” of both Democrats and Republicans at the Board of Elections and bring the integrity and transparency that was lost years ago.

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  16. Dem Attack December 13, 2010 / 7:52 pm
    Is anyone listening? INVESTIGATION!!!!

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  17. Paul December 16, 2010 / 7:14 pm
    I predict nothing will happen. Nodoby seems to care that injustice and criminal activity is comman pratiice there. The people who are doing these acts are being protected by leaders in politics and in Columbus. If you wonder why things stay the same, just look at this gross neglect of supervision at the County Offices. Lets all just bury our heads in the sand and forget these crimes ever happened.

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  18. Big Money December 21, 2010 / 9:38 am
    Its Bonus Time. All the Good Republicians and Democratics who helped out ont the campagain get their Christmas spending money. So all the EXTRA money left over from the previous budget gets dispersed among the HARD working county employee’s! Thousands of dollars will be wasted . Who will stop this mess? Cha Ching!!!And people wonder why things stay the same.

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  19. Big Money December 25, 2010 / 8:53 am
    I hear everyone who worked on Keith’s reelection team received bonuses of $3000! We must have plenty of money at the county! What kind of money would Harry dished out?

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  20. Paul Harris December 26, 2010 / 9:12 am
    Mr. Estrati, Concerning your article about the board an ethics. You got a couple things wrong. First i was the employee you said was quietly fired. I was NOT fired I resigned. But was my understanding right that someone higer up got a payoff for getting rid of me or did I read that wrong.

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  21. David Esrati December 26, 2010 / 9:42 am

    Mr Harris- I don’t say anything about an employee who was quietly fired in this piece. My understanding of your issue was that you were set up, and someone got to keep their girlfriend on the payroll.

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