DeFries still on R primary ballot despite dropping out Mar 1

thumbnail of R primary ballot 0430 1R_Part2

Bill DeFries withdrew from the county commission race Mar 1. Why is his name still on the ballot

In just another epic example of the failure of parties endorsing in primaries, and boards of elections serving more as boards of (s)election in Ohio- Republican party favorite Bill DeFries will appear on the ballot on May 8 despite dropping out Mar 1.

It was a crowded race to begin with – former Dayton Mayor Gary Leitzell had thrown his hat in the ring after barely losing to Debbie Lieberman the last race. Former Miami Township Trustee Bob Matthews is running again, after losing to Judy Dodge last time. Newcomer DeFries had zero political experience yet was the party pick. Miami Township trustee Doug Barry is spending money like a house on fire to win the primary- always showing up on campaign materials with his much better half on all his campaign materials. She, btw is a democrat.

The winner of the primary will go on to face either Carolyn Rice or Walter Hickman Don Shaffer (thanks to Gary Leitzell for catching my mistake).

Full disclosure, I’ve done work for Leitzell and Matthews, through my company The Next Wave.

How DeFries name is still on the electronic or printed ballots 38 days after a withdrawal is a serious question. With print on demand solutions- there is no huge window for absentee ballot printing, and the county uses touchscreens for in person voting.

Considering the expense the BOE is willing to go to for special elections for a single candidate- usually caused by their selection processes, there is no excuse. Including DeFries name can only hurt the other newcomer to county races- Barry, which is no big loss. In my limited experience of meeting him, he’s not worthy of being elected dog catcher. His wife on the other hand is a sharp business person, running a private college turning out kids that are 100X more qualified to work than Sinclair in my field.

 

Election questions that need answers

The “primary” election on May 7th for the Dayton Mayor and City Commission positions isn’t a primary- it’s a run-off election, to narrow the field to two candidates for Mayor and four candidates for two city commission seats. This means one candidate from each race will be left out.

Typically, primaries are held for political parties to select their representative- and this is where you declare your party affiliation in the State of Ohio, by asking for a particular party ballot. There is no “independent” status- but you can ask for an “issues only” ballot at elections where there are levies and primaries going on. Dayton hasn’t had a “run-off election” in so long, since the Board of Elections manages to stop most candidates from getting on the ballot- thanks to the Dayton City Charter requirements for 500 signatures and a form that only the IRS could love.

The Dayton Charter calls for “non-partisan elections”- no party affiliation shows up with the candidates’ names. The charter also calls for the city to run the election, but they sub-contract it to the Board of Elections- which is a very partisan organization. Things get confusing to most voters when they hear  about the Board of Elections, because most of them never come into contact with them other than when getting mailings telling you your polling place has changed (again).

There are 4 people on the Board of Elections- two Democrats and two Republicans. They are paid $20,000 each a year to attend 2 meetings a month, to oversee the actions of the “Board of Elections” staff- which consists of equal numbers of Democrats and Republicans- where there are one of each for every position so as to have a “check and balance.” However, all of these jobs are reserved for “friends of the party”- they are patronage jobs, pure and simple, where relatives of our elected representatives get well paying jobs just for who they know. We’ve even hired convicted rapists without a job application.

These are the people we trust to run “fair and impartial and honest” elections.

Recently, the Democrats on the Board of Elections, Dennis Lieberman and Tom Ritchie got fired by the Secretary of State over protests of his limiting of early voting hours. The Democratic party convened, and appointed John Doll and Rhine McLin to the board.

Yes, former Mayor of Dayton, Rhine McLin, who lost to Gary Leitzell by less than 1,000 votes, despite outspending him 6 to 1. She also was part of the team that conspired to keep William Pace off the ballot, despite having 650+ valid signatures, by holding the validation meeting after hours, on the day of the deadline, for him to sign a single form to accept his candidacy. Steve Harsman, who is the Dem director for the BOE- who is paid in excess of $110,000 a year, also sits on the Montgomery County Democratic Party Screening Committee- where one of the questions of all candidates is always “If we don’t endorse you, will you run against our endorsed candidate?” Remember, the purpose of a “primary” is for the party to pick a candidate, not just the party elite.

So when William Pace pointed something very obvious to me out today, I, like you, should wonder what kind of fair and honest election can we count on in this primary? The reason:

Screen grab from AJ Wagner for Mayor tv spot with him and BOE Director Rhine McLin

Screen grab from AJ Wagner for Mayor tv spot with him and BOE Director Rhine McLin

How can Rhine McLin be expected to provide nonpartisan, unbiased, supervision of an election in which she appears in ads to support a candidate? Is this a “nonpartisan” election anymore?

Also appearing in A.J.’s ad are County Commissioners Debbie Lieberman (wife of former Dem Party Chair and BOE board member Dennis Lieberman) and County Commissioner Judy Dodge (who has relatives working in the Board of Elections).

I’ve called for an elected “Chief Ethics Officer” in the county, if we have to elect a coroner and a county engineer, why not? If we had one, this would be a case worthy of investigation. If I was Gary Leitzell, I’d be asking for oversight on this election from outside this county, with the huge amounts of money A.J. and Nan have raised and spent, what’s stopping them from buying off some election officials?

The next Montgomery County Administrator? Clay Mathile?

Clayton Mathile portrait

Clay Mathile

If New York City can have the services of Michael Bloomberg for a dozen years, why can’t Dayton benefit from having local business legend Clay Mathile take the helm as the new Montgomery County Administrator now that Deb Feldman has found her soft landing which so many of our local political has beens seem to find.

Instead, our county commission is announcing the de rigueur “national search” to find Feldman’s replacement:

Deputy County Administrator Joe Tuss will be named interim county administrator. County Commission President Judy Dodge anticipates a national search for Feldman’s replacement.

via Feldman named new CEO of Children’s Medical Center.

Feldman’s leaving this year came as no surprise to anyone, it has been known for over a year by insiders. The real question is why, if Feldman was such a capable leader, do we need to do a search at all? Why hadn’t she groomed a stable of capable replacements. As I’ve said before, true leaders build organizations that can continue smoothly after they leave. Despite various pundits claiming Apple without Steve Jobs was doomed, its stock price has almost doubled since Jobs’s death and the profits keep soaring. Granted, the real question comes after 2-3 years to see if the product innovation pipeline continues to deliver smash products, but for now, look at how smoothly the company transitioned leadership.

Why Mathile?

Besides being well known in the region, he’s also someone who chose to build a business here and did it successfully. His focus on high-performance organizations has been backed up with his kind donation of Aileron to the community- a business institute committed to improving businesses for the health of our community. He knows our community well, as well as all the major players and could be the one leader who is capable of moving regional cooperation and consolidation forward without having any of our mini-fiefdom leaders toe the line and get in step.

And of course, while we’d be more than happy to pay him what Feldman makes or more, I’m pretty sure he’d work for a $1 a year, and attract a whole bunch of new talent to the ranks of county government of young bright talent who know the value of the experience of working with a business tycoon. Gone would be the legions of sycophants and patronage peons who grace every floor of the county building, putting in their time for their almighty pension payoff.

Sure the argument can be made that at 71, why would Mathile do this? Bloomberg seems to have found new energy as mayor of NYC and would have been more than happy to serve another term. If Bloomberg can, why can’t Mathile?

Our region needs a transformational leader more than ever, and the short list of possible candidates is small. My second choice would be to recruit David Hopkins from Wright State or possibly Dan Curran from UD. Former hospital network CEO’s could also be on the shortlist.

If we’re going to rebuild this community, we should begin by realizing that we have local talent, we only need to look around and think of what could be, instead of what we’ve done in the past. The past is what got us here, time to move on.

I welcome your suggestions, comments or candidate submissions on this post.

 

 

 

The secret group trying to do regionalism without telling anyone: One Dayton

please note: this is a long post for esrati.com, but it is the unveiling of a secret group that is already spending your tax dollars with favored political consultants to advance a cause that can’t be spoken of in public… yet. I hope you find it useful and informative.

A group has been meeting to begin a regionalism movement in Montgomery County, and as always it’s being done behind closed doors because we, the people, aren’t smart enough to participate until they’ve planned and announced their grand strategy.

Businesses have been contacted and asked to pledge money, and a non-profit 501c4 has been set up, and once they had enough pledges in hand, they were to crawl up the mount to ask the great Clay Mathile for his blessing and support.

Only one problem: you don’t do regionalism behind closed doors. Ever.

Not unless you want it to fail- which is exactly what Ms. Deborah Feldman, the criminally negligent county administrator, is trying to do by undermining the process by attempting to sneak a contract to her good friend Bill Burges (the “levy master” ) in Cleveland.

That contract was issued and voted on at the June 14, 2011, County Commission meeting, item 11 0959 for $197,000.

The request was sent to only five consultants, and only Burges responded. The fact that he included two of the other “consultants”- Jack Dustin of WSU and Don Vermillion of UD (and former county administrator) in his proposal pretty much sealed the deal. Two others, one in Cincinnati and one in Indianapolis didn’t respond. With less than a month to respond, Burges submitted a 22-page document: “PUBLIC DIALOGUE ON REGIONALISM”

What is odd, is the people selected to be the “fiscal agent” for the program: one of the signatures on his proposal, Deborah L. Norris of Sinclair Community College. Dick Ferguson of UD, who works for UD President Dan Curran, is also a contractor- for a project run by his boss, Curran.

So, let’s follow the money roundabout. County Commissioner Dan Foley, City Commissioner Joey Williams, UD President Dan Curran, Chamber of Commerce President Phil Parker, former chamber pogue and now head of hospital lobby, GDAHA Brian Bucklew start up a non-profit 501C4 called One Dayton. Dayton attorney Josh Chernesky is the statutory agent. 7/13/2011

The stated goals:

A. To promote the social welfare of the citizens of the Miami Valley;
B. To research, develop and promote the distribution of information about the benefits of regional collaboration;
C. To improve prosperity and competitiveness of the Miami Valley by acting as a catalyst for regional service consolidations;
D. To initiate and implement collaborative economic development efforts;
E. To encourage the development of public policies that will lead to greater economic opportunity and a better quality of life for citizens of the Miami Valley; and
F. To engage in any lawful act or activity and to do all things necessary, convenient, or expedient to further the general purpose of the corporation either alone or in association with other corporations, firms, associations or individuals.
SIXTH: The corporation shall have no initial members.
SEVENTH: No part of the net earnings or assets of the corporation shall inure to the benefit of, or be distributable to, its members, directors, officers, or other private persons, except that the corporation shall be authorized and empowered to pay reasonable compensation for services rendered and to make payments and distributions in furtherance of the purposes set forth in Article Third hereof.

So if you read it the way I do- 6th says no members, and 7th says we can pay people who aren’t members- but once membership has been declared- we can only pay reasonable compensation.

Yet- right off the bat, the county commissioners commit $197,000 of your tax dollars, to a consultant out of Cleveland, almost 30 days before the non-profit has even been incorporated. Of that, there are four $27K payouts to Sinclair, Central State, WSU and UD, $25K for “seed money” for a 30-minute TV show on regionalism (total cost not quoted) and $54K to Burges & Burges for consulting and $10K for long-distance travel and expenses. The only sure thing seems to be managing 3 summits.

Note, much of this is before the election for the County Commission- a way to put Judy Dodge and Deb Lieberman in the public eye at public expense.

Funny that the final report and rollout is described this way:

After the November election, (bold italics added for emphasis by esrati) co-chairs will finalize and roll out a final report including key goals, major opportunities, serious problems and obstacles, clear strategies and tactics for how to achieve change and expected impact and results. This report has the possibility to be a roadmap, designed by local leaders and citizens, hard for any elected officials and others to ignore.

Why the election cycle is even mentioned in the proposal should raise eyebrows.

This part about sponsorship should also be seen by all. Burges includes names and categorizes them as cash donating suckers and donation in kind friends for us:

The following organizations could serve as financial supporters, in-kind resources, key communicators and community outreach vehicles to strengthen the process and advance participation and results.

  • Cox Media
  • Central State University
  • City of Dayton
  • Dayton Area Chamber of Commerce
  • Dayton Bar Association
  • Dayton Development Coalition
  • Dayton Foundation
  • Dayton Power and Light
  • Greater Dayton Hospital Association
  • Sinclair Community College
  • THINK TV
  • University of Dayton
  • Wright State University

The following organizations could serve as in-kind resources, key communicators and community outreach vehicles to strengthen the process and advance participation and results. Some may also be sponsor candidates. All will be asked to generate publicity, attendance and conduct satellite summits.

  • Congressman Michael Turner
  • Dayton Business Committee
  • Dayton Metropolitan Housing Authority
  • Dayton Metro Library
  • Dayton Most Metro
  • Dayton NAACP
  • Downtown Dayton Partnership
  • Five Rivers Metroparks
  • Generation Dayton
  • Greater Dayton Regional Transit Authority
  • League of Women Voters of Montgomery County
  • Local library systems
  • Montgomery County ESC/Dayton Public Schools
  • Montgomery County mayors, managers and trustees
  • Parity, Inc.
  • Organized labor
  • Our Common Heritage
  • State Legislative Delegation- Bipartisan House/Senate Representatives
  • United Way of the Greater Dayton Area
  • Up Dayton and Communications Council
  • WVSO
  • Other civic, faith or media partners

When it comes to Burges & Burges’ qualifications- he gives a long list of his teaming partners – like WSU and UD working together- and then only gives his organization cred for doing levy work. He does claim to “Serving as the lead consultant for winning the election for Cuyahoga County Reform” yet doesn’t say what he actually did, or how he did it (and leaves out the fact that the impetus was an FBI bust for rampant corruption in government)- much more was said about what he’s done here.

B&B has had a long-standing engagement with Sinclair on strategic, research and communication projects; and collaborated with the Fitz Center on projects such as the Neighborhood School Centers, regional dispatch and the DPS Levy [Issue 52]. B&B has also worked effectively with many other IHE’s for 28 years, and its principals have decades of higher education experience.

They go on to say:

We know the area well, after years of work for the Human Services Levy, Sinclair Community College, Dayton Metro Library, Dayton Public Schools, the Miami Valley Regional Planning Commission, GDRTA, the Greene County Public Library, Greene Memorial Hospital, Miami Valley Career Technology Center, United Way and others.

He also adds:

We have worked well with area leaders, are members of the Dayton Area Chamber of Commerce, in the Miami Valley weekly and have an office located at Shook Construction.

The list of people on his team include five from his office and a really long list of people from the “partner” universities and their accomplishments.

What blows my mind is that this same approach, of town halls and summits etc. was just done by the Miami Valley Planning Commission– which had very little public engagement, cost a lot more – and basically told us that sprawl and overbuilding us are killing our ability to afford the infrastructure. Yet, MVRPC- our own REGIONAL PLANNING COMMISSION wasn’t asked to bid on this program. Nor were local people who have been working on this and who registered the domain name OneDayton.org-  Dayton Most Metro, Bill Pote.

They, along with other groups who could have managed this “strategic initiative” like local agency “The Ohlman Group” weren’t asked to bid. Nor was anyone from the “poster-child-for-regionalism” community of Louisville. Other documents obtained by this author would suggest that the core leadership group had a different plan on the table, but something made the County Commission pull the trigger early (maybe because of budget cycles, or maybe to pre-pay for on the side election polling assistance).

Considering regionalism is something that requires a broad based, non-political, well reasoned public support, the fact that the first money that the group spends publicly, without clearly identifying who is behind this initiative – is hand money to a political operator from outside the region to plan the “educational component” of the program.

Commissioner Foley, who has been the sole Montgomery County Commission voice on this project, seems to have convinced the two candidates up for reelection that spending county dollars to have them front the forums will be good for their re-election campaign, and that they can probably pick up tips from Burges on running their campaigns based on his polling. I’m sure Burges will do fine- like he did on Rhine McLin’s reelection campaign.

The way to do regionalism is out in the open. With a very good presentation of facts with supporting documents. How many police chiefs, fire chiefs, city planners, economic development hacks, street maintenance directors etc.- never mind elected officials, elections, and borders we have to pay to maintain- vs. the cost  structures other states operate on that have county government like Florida or North Carolina.

Do the taxpayers really like supporting all these extra layers of “government” if for a much lower tax bill- we could have more service providers and less tax apologists?

The reason you haven’t read about this anywhere else but esrati.com is clearly taken care of in the Burges Proposal: “Clearly, Cox Media is the ratings leader for integrated lV, radio, internet and print news. Involving Cox would raise awareness of residents. Cox also has a new digital production facility, low production rates and a positive record of participation in recent civic issues” and as well as: “Greater Dayton’s key websites, whether based at large media organizations, IHE’s (Institutions of Higher Education), civic andeconomic development organizations or standing independently like Dayton Most Metro”

Bribing media outlets isn’t out of Burges reach either: “Whether or not this level of media involvement is entirely achieved, it is important for strengthening awareness and engagement. Determining the level and net cost [after media sponsorships] will define how far we can go with media involvement. If helpful, we will work with the county to help build commitments to participate from the media, other sponsors and partner organizations between the time the project is funded and when it formally begins.” remember, Burges places media buys for all the levy campaigns and major political campaigns- nice loot to wave in exchange for “public support.”

I don’t have the luxury of Mr. Burges inside connections. All I have is the most read political blog in Dayton- that tries to give those that care to know about the nasty inner workings of our obsolete and crumbling political/nepotism machine in Montgomery County and it’s minor fiefdoms. I know this post is long- but, you now have most of the documents that I have on this back room deal- and a little analysis to chew on.

What say you, members of the community now called OneDayton in the greatest sense of the word?

8:34 am note: the fallout from this piece has already begun. I’ve decided to add to this piece in the comments.

Montgomery County Commissioners on OH-3: sanity check

The 2000 OH-3 map showing gerrymandering across 4 counties

The 2000 OH-3 map showing gerrymandering across 4 counties

When the 3rd Congressional district was last gerrymandered as it was passed from Tony Hall to Mike Turner by the powers that be, it went from a compact, reasonable district that roughly matched Montgomery County boundaries to a sprawling mess that looks like a monkey with an etch-a-sketch tried to draw something and it was superimposed across SW Ohio.

The current district, which so oddly was carved around Mike Turner’s former home on Huffman Avenue, now requires a candidate to buy media in 4 markets to reach all the voters (yep- Dayton, Cincy, Columbus and Chillicothe),

1990 version of OH-3 map

The nice compact 1990 OH-3 map

So instead of moving back to a sane, functional district, our three “Democratic County Commissioners” Dodge, Foley and Lieberman, apparently like handing off the Third to Mr. Turner according to today’s Dayton Daily News:

Montgomery County leaders made a plea to Gov. John Kasich to keep the 3rd Congressional District intact with no further split as part of the redistricting process.

In the last redistricting in 2001, Montgomery County was divided, with about 22 percent going into the 8th District and the remainder being retained in the 3rd District, Commission President Debbie Lieberman and Commissioners Judy Dodge and Dan Foley wrote in an Aug. 15 letter to the governor.

“Any further split or splits could have a devastating impact on Montgomery County and the city of Dayton,” the letter stated. “…We strongly believe that our county and our citizens are best served when represented predominantly by one member of Congress who is able to focus on the totality of our community.”

via Commissioners urge Kasich to preserve 3rd District.

As someone who has run for the seat, I can tell you that it’s an incredibly difficult district to canvass and cover. It also leans Republican, just like almost all SW Ohio congressional districts.

For the County Commissioners NOT to be lobbying to return to something more manageable should make one think about their own suitability for office, before re-electing any of them.