Journalism 101 on investigating candidates and politicians

At the April 27, 2023 Montgomery County Democratic Party meeting, Mike Brill got all excited about his brilliant strategy to attack Republicans- from that day’s paper:

While state legislators make laws, a few don’t always follow them when they’re behind the wheel.

Three Ohio lawmakers racked up more than 10 traffic tickets over the past decade, ranging from speeding violations to tickets for not wearing a seat belt or running stop signs.

At the top of the list was state Sen. Niraj Antani, R-Miamisburg, who had 14 traffic convictions since 2013, including a speeding ticket for driving 80 mph in a 55 mph zone in 2017 in Franklin County. He has been cited nine times for driving 15 or more miles per hour over the posted limit in the past decade.
When asked about his driving, Antani sent a written statement: “I’ve been told I’m a young man in a hurry.

With the issues we face, we need someone who’s in a hurry to fix them. However, I do regret and apologize for speeding and will do better in the future.”

He also argued that the records were illegally released and should not be publicized.

Source: What’s the rush? Antani, other lawmakers rack up tickets – Dayton Daily News

There’s only one problem with this strategy- the Montgomery County Democratic Party doesn’t do a very good job of making sure the people they back are all above board. You don’t have to go back very far to the “Culture of Corruption” investigation where Dems were indicted and convicted: former City Commissioner Joey D. Williams for accepting a bribe in office, Roshawn Winburn- for accepting bribes while employed by the patronage system, Clayton Luckie- who was already a felon from his days as a state rep, Joyce Cameron- former Mayor of Trotwood. Need I go on?

Going back to my start in politics 30 years ago, part of what hurt Richard Clay Dixon in his re-election campaign were charges uncovered by the Dayton Daily News that he’d taken sick days from his Dayton Public Schools job to go on City junkets and double dip illegally. He lost to Mike Turner by 400 votes.

Other candidates have been derailed with details like their voting records- or lack of them. I remember the paper publishing Pam Miller Howard’s random voting record as a way to embarrass her.

Countless times, the newspaper editorial board took positions the wrote me off- never caring what my platform was. I wasn’t backed by a party- or a union- or one of the editors (Ellen Belcher) who was the wife of a democratic Judge in Montgomery County (Dennis Langer).

The reality is, investigative journalism, reporting on and digging into backgrounds is a thing of the past.

And, the parties- with their declining attendance at meetings (tonight they were lucky to have 45 people in the room- and there are 382 precincts that are supposed to be represented) have alienated so many people that they are kidding themselves that they still have power.

Case in point: Jordan Wortham ran, without support of the Republican party last year, spent practically no money, and initially beat Carolyn Rice before the BOE miraculously found not just enough votes for Carolyn to win, but enough to rule out a re-count. Jordan was a candidate for Dayton City Commission last Tuesday, and not a single article has really gotten past calling him a former Dayton police officer who was fired (lawsuit still pending). Not a single mention of his father, former DPD Detective Tony Spells or his mother, Dayton Municipal Court Judge Mia Wortham Spells.

Yet, you’ll always hear that Dayton Clerk of Courts is the son of former Judge Dan Gehres, or back in the day, that former County Commissioner, Clerk of Courts and about a lifetime of sucking at the party teat, Dan Foley was the son of a former Judge from before my time. Foley never had a job that the party didn’t give him, starting as a desk jockey for former Congressman Tony Hall. The only reason Mike Foley is our Clerk of Court now, is because he made signs that looked just like Dan’s and confused the voters (we’re still waiting to hear how bad he was in office- after an investigation started after a whistleblower exposed him for doing politics in the county building).

We know Russ Joseph has been handed job after job, including 2 elected offices by appointment, and now the Deputy Directorship at the BOE- without having to do anything but kiss the party ring. He’s never been off the teat, and his brother Matt Joseph, who is running for his 6th term on the Dayton City Commission has had a pretty sweet run of zero competition thanks to the party power structure.

So, when Mohamed Al-Hamdani says they are going out to the community to have listening sessions to try to bring people into the party, I couldn’t help but say something (as someone who has never been accepted by the friends and family club) suggesting he take lessons from Alison and Tim Benford who run the wonderful South Dayton Democratic Club. You know, where everyone is welcome, they have interesting speakers, and they actually try to give back to the community. Al-Hamdani reminded me that I wasn’t a member of this organization- and not a “democrat”- to which I responded with “Apparently 105,000 voters thought I was”- as I got threatened with being tossed out of the room.

Here’s the crazy thing. Mohamed got to be Party Chair in a vote of winning a majority of less than 180 voters.

And, when he got elected to school board, as part of a slate of four out of eight candidates- he came in third, and failing his running mate Paul Bradley (who’s still sucking at the Dem party teat somewhere in the County Building)

  1. William E Harris 8529
  2. Jocelyn Rhynard 8026
  3. Mohamed Al-Hamdani 8025
  4. Karen Wick-Gagnet 7816
  5. Joe Lacey 7617
  6. Paul Bradley7284
  7. Mario Gallin 5956
  8. Jo’el Jones 4895

Now, of course, the election where nobody voted is over, and now when I publish this, no one can get offended that I’m going relenting to dirty politics (you know, like when the party paid for mailers attacking Shenise Turner Sloss and Darryl Fairchild).

I knew this information weeks before the election, and even shared it with the Dayton Daily news, and the 3 television stations. If I was a paid journalist, and given any respect at all in this community, I’d have called and asked each candidate about these records (which come from an online background check service).

For Chris Shaw, the newspaper has ignored his criminal record in at least 3 elections now:

  • 07/25/2019 Wood County Case TRD1904964 Speed, Guilty 82/65
  • 07/10/2013 DAYTON MUNICIPAL 13TRD09542 Guilty Expired license plates
  • 06/30/2013 DAYTON MUNICIPAL 2013TRD009542 Guilty Expired License Plates, withdrawn- Seat Belt violation, Tail light- one required red
  • 10/30/2010 FAIRBORN MUNICIPAL TRD1009925 Guilty Seatbelt
  • 04/20/2010 MONTGOMERY EASTERN MUNICIPAL 2010 TRD 01369 E Guilty speed
  • 03/14/2007 Montgomery County 07CRB02839 Not Guilty M1 misdemanor- Firearm ID card Required Not guilty M1 Misdemeanor Improper Handling M.V.
  • 11/15/2006 FAIRBORN MUNICIPAL COURT TRD0613688 Guilty Seatbelt
  • 02/20/2001 DAYTON MUNICIPAL 01TRC01760 M1 DUI alcohol/ Seatbelt/CHG Lanes Guilty 17% Breath,ACT PHY CNTRL OF VEH UN INFLU
  • 12/06/2000 Mayors court 00CRB00899-A / 00TRD02438-A/00TRD02438-B Guilty Open Container/NO Operators License/No Front Plate
  • 12/21/2000 Dayton Municipal 00TRD15002 DR UNDER FRA SUS
  • 02/11/1999 Dayton Municipal 98TRD25205 Guilty Driving w/o lic
  • 04/21/1998 Dayton Municipal 98TRD07379 Guilty Driv w/o lic
  • 04/29/1997 Franklin County 1997 TR D 120607 Failure to display PLT, Seatbelt usage, Speed, DR U/SUSP-REV, Valid OPS/EXP OPS
  • 02/13/1996 Franklin County 1996 TR D 107523 Dismissed- Bond forfeiture Seatbelt Usage
  • 03/23/1996 Dayton Municipal 1996-TRD-005338 Dismissed EXP PLTS, SEAT BELT, RED LIGHT GUILTY Driving without license
  • 3/25/1996 Franklin Municipal Traffic 1996 1994 TR D 145249 Dismissed Speed Paid Waiver
  • 05/13/1995 Dayton Municipal 1995-TRT-008215 Guilty SP 20MPH OR LESS

So we know that before Chris Shaw was anointed to the Dayton City Commission, over the very capable and honest Darryl Fairchild (who had bowed out to allow Jeff Mims to run the previous year- with the understanding that he was waiting “his turn” in line), no one did a background check or published anything derogatory against Shaw.

Newcomer to this election, Marcus Bedinger also has a record of similar issues:

  • 08/30/2010 BOWLING GREEN MUNICIPAL 10CRB02187-A Guilty Disorderly Conduct
  • 03/12/2010 Athens 2010CRB00638 Misdemeanor Drug Abuse (Status unavailable) Not showing up in their court records- just on a background check.

I asked Marcus about this, and he gave me a response:

“Though some would try to use my life story as a political cudgel, I am not ashamed of my past, nor have I ever needed to hide from it. I come from a loving family of strong faith, but I have not always walked the path that God or my parents laid out for me. However, it is shameful to try and reduce my character as a Black man navigating life in America to any encounter with the justice system. I have paid my dues when wrong, but I have also paid dues to this system unjustly— an experience that is far too common in my community. So I will not let those instances define me or my future and they haven’t. I teach my sons everyday to be better than my errors and my triumphs. That is the legacy I will leave behind and I am proud of it.”
Please enjoy opining on my college days. You’re a colorful writer. I look forward to it.

Facebook Instant Message Aug 1, 2023

Looking up all the other candidates,

Wortham has a 2019 “Driving on other than the right side” Matt Joseph has a speeding ticket in 2001, Valerie Duncan has a housing code violation, some speeding tickets, an “AFTER STOP” violation, and abuse of 911 system.

Me, well, 3 speeding tickets and a right on red violation, last one was in 2015 and I don’t even remember it.

As to voting records, if the candidate moved out of the county, there will be voting holes. However, it’s pretty clear who always votes, and who doesn’t. Interesting that Valerie Duncan voted in the republican primary in 2012.

Voting records

The upper and lower case letters are the stupid way the Montgomery County Board of Elections tabulates if it was absentee or in-person. Guaranteed to be impossible to do a mass search since X and x are the same to most searches.

Draw your own conclusions.

Journalism should still matter.

And, I’m sorry I’ve not been posting more lately, I’ve spent quite a bit of time following the new “Interim Superintendent” at his community conversations and ridiculously long board meetings, and posting those videos on the Youtube channel:

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