Why the Montgomery Democratic Party is a joke

Mark Owens, Montgomery County Party Chairman and Dayton Clerk of Courts came up to me after the meeting to ask me if I gave someone the finger. I said yes, and that the little old lady has been disrespecting me for years, mostly by hissing when I spoke, but tonight, as I started to speak and said Montgomery County has a problem- she suggested that it was me. I was tired of her shit.

As I went to confront her, she started to tell me that it was the only thing I’d ever said worth hearing. I gave her the single finger salute and left her to run to Mark. Some folks saw me do it and chastised me. Former AFSCME Chief Tom Ritchie being one. Another woman came up and said I lost all credibility. Really? People are dying- and giving a heckler the finger is your big worry? I think I’ll survive my loss of credibility.

But, that’s the end of the story, and although Kurt Vonnegut Jr. said in his 8 rules for writing to “5. Start as close to the end as possible” I started there, because, well, you know, full disclosure is critical to journalism, and I wouldn’t want to waste your time continuing to read if I no longer had any credibility.

The meeting had a whole bunch of new precinct captains as the party is trying to backfill 2/3rds of the seats that were never filled. Some of those people had no clue who I was either time I spoke, and of course, that’s my fault as well, since I didn’t say who I was.

First the party endorsed former party employee Dawn Wojcik who is running for the seat on the State School Board, District 3, that Jeff Mims abandoned when he wanted to be a city commissioner.

Then, they heard from Becky Benay from Five Rivers Metroparks who came asking for an endorsement to renew the levy- plus tack a little extra on. I questioned why her board, that’s appointed by a probate judge, and supposed to have three year terms never changes, and why, just not getting as much tax revenue today vs 2010 is a good enough reason to justify her increase. The dems, earned their tax and spend cred- by almost unanimously voting to endorse- almost, except for me, the loan voice, who told Ms. Benay that I’d like to have as much money as I did in 2009 too- but, my taxes keep going up for Sinclair, the libraries, etc. We could start saving money by stripping Metroparks of their private police force and putting that job under the Sheriffs budget, but, that’s not how we roll in Montgomery County.

When it was time for other business, I went up to the podium and started my speech about how it’s embarrassing that this party, with it’s control of the county commission, and complete control of the Dayton City Commission- is allowing the jail to continue to operate as is. That jail is not a place to get tortured, to be maimed, or to die. Yet, in the last 3 weeks, 2 maybe 3 have committed suicide already, and we’re facing over $10M in settlements from lawsuits.

Folks, $10 million spent on proper jail staffing and management would go a long way to solving our problems. Real democrats wouldn’t allow the poor to be sent to Phil’s house of horrors.

If a house is dirty, if it doesn’t have running water- it’s declared unfit for human habitation and the people are evicted. I remember getting the run around on an occupancy permit for my office because the staircase rail would let little kids fall through. Yet, we are allowing a jail to operate that’s killed three people in 2 weeks?

Sorry. That doesn’t cut it. Real leaders would find ways to do any of the following:

  • Send inmates to other facilities that are safe for their residents, even if transportation costs are higher.
  • Charge the Sheriff with crimes against humanity, remove him from office, and place him in the jail. If you need a reminder, go watch the video I released in February of 2017 of yet another inmate in a restraining chair being pepper sprayed at point blank range.
  • Call on the Governor to declare a state of emergency and put the National Guard in charge of the jail. There are multiple MP battalions in the state. Call them up.
  • Hire a private prison management company to take over the running of, and responsibility for the safety of the inmates. We have no problems having private companies run prisons in this state, why not run a jail.
  • Refuse to do the State’s work, holding people who are guilty in the jail.
  • Speed up the courts processes.
  • Refuse to hold people brought in by the feds- ICE, Secret Service, FBI etc. until overcrowding is undercontrol.
  • Build alternative facilities for the mentally ill and drug addicted inmates and charge it to Medicaid.

At the end of the meeting, as Owens was threatening to kick me out of the party (I’m not sure he can do that, since I’m an elected precinct captain), and whining how I’d called him a criminal on my blog (I looked quickly for it- couldn’t find it via search- A free “Make Orwell Fiction Again” t-shirt to the first person who posts the quote and link in comments) he also complained that he couldn’t find anyone qualified to run against Plummer.

Well, Mr. Owens, you’ve been endorsing your friends and family to run for office before the primary for so long, you’ve chased people away from being involved. You’ve advanced the careers of people so bad, that they’ve been beaten by no money yahoos- like Mike Turner when he first ran for Mayor- that they got to move up to Congress- and you’ve failed to mount a serious contender against a pretty weak candidate (remember, Turner lost to Rhine McLin before he was handed the congressional seat). Rhine was also beat by a no money yahoo- Gary Leitzell- mostly because Owens, who ran her campaign, spent half his budget mailing everyone lit with Gary’s name on it.

This is the party that never met a tax levy it didn’t love, because they help pay for more patronage jobs in the bloated mess of banana republics that make up this County. If you want to see how expensive it is- check out Reconstructing Dayton’s site– and look at some of the charts we’re starting to build. We could do a lot more, with a whole lot less government.

But first, we have a duty to protect the less fortunate, the drug addicts, the mentally ill and even the common criminals, from getting death sentences while awaiting trial.

If you like this kind of reporting. If you like my efforts, please consider donating to the 501(c)(4) non-profit Reconstructing Dayton to keep these efforts alive.

And, if you are a glutton for punishment, you can watch the entire meeting:

Court clerks are jerks in Montgomery County

We have too many clerk of courts in Montgomery County. We have too many courts too.

In the entire state of Wisconsin and Florida, there is one universal courts website. All cases, criminal, civil, probate, are managed in one place. They have one login per attorney, one set of forms, one set of fees, one set of processes- making it easy-peasy for attorneys to do their job. This also makes it easier for news organizations, background checkers, and for people who are trying to keep track of legal precedents and case law (like LexisNexis and Westlaw).

It’s also a hell of a lot more cost effective. We’ve been digging into the costs of the court websites in Montgomery County- and have gotten graceful help from some communities when we’ve filed public records requests, others have played dumb.

You can see the costs of each municipal court website on Reconstructing Dayton, our 501(c)(4) that is set up to research and then inform voters how their tax dollars and time are being wasted by unnecessary duplication and complication of and by government in Montgomery County.

You’ll see that Kettering and Miamisburg use the vendor case management system, Civica CMI from the firm of the same name in Englewood.

Vandalia Municipal Court uses a case management system from Henschen & Associates, Inc. in Bowling Green Ohio.

Oakwood, Dayton, Montgomery County Municipal, and Dayton Municipal have all been non-responsive. We’ll be filing complaints about their failure to respond to public records requests soon.

The insane thing is that none of these systems allow for online filing, or online case management and research. I just got a scan of the snail mail judgement that was mailed to my attorney in a case where a local harlot stole money from a Service Disabled Veteran that I had power of attorney for. That means anyone doing a background check, won’t find it, at least until we get the judgement recorded in Montgomery County Common pleas court. The fact that it can’t be accessed online other than a list of actions is criminal.

Screen shot of the Montgomery County Ohio lame court efiling website portal

It’s 2018 and this is the best they can do?

The County Clerks site is a home grown mess with its multiple domains. “ProNet” is one part and it’s efiling another, managed by Tybera out of Orem Utah, but it at least allows for online filing for civil and criminal cases, but not for probate or juvenile cases.

It’s time for a unified system in Ohio, but, we can start with working on it here. Franklin County has a single site– including their single countywide municipal court – which may be part of the reason Columbus is growing, and we’re losing congressional representation (among other things).

Which leads us to the people who “run” these courts. Mark Owens has been the Dayton Clerk of Courts since 1991. In that time, he has seen the rise of the internet, but still hasn’t made the effort to provide an efficient web filing system. Maybe, because it helps create work for the 45 patronage jobs he presides over. Mark is the godfather of the local Montgomery County Democratic Party too. He needs more people, because, well, they have to print out and mail all these documents- something that’s been done away with in the County Common Pleas court.

And, now, we’re asked to vote for his Chief Deputy Clerk, Russ Joseph, who was appointed by Mark and the Central Committee to take over the County Clerk job when Greg Brush “retired” to go work in Cincinnati for their Clerk of Courts. It helps to be an appointed incumbent running for office, even if you’ve spent 10 years not moving the Dayton Clerks office into the twentieth century. He was appointed Nov 20, 2017, he has to be on the ballot this November – and is facing Republican businessman Mike Foley, to run for the remaining 2 years of the current term.

Russ previously served with the Dayton Municipal Clerk of Court from 2004 to 2017, first as the Administrative Assistant for three years and then as Chief Deputy Clerk for 10 years. As Chief Deputy Clerk, he oversaw the office’s $3.6 million annual budget and 45 employees. This included the Clerk’s four divisions as well as administrative staff including the Chief Information Officer, Accountant and Director of Operations.

In 2008 Russ was named the Deputy Clerk of the Year by the Ohio Association of Municipal & County Court Clerks. Russ currently serves as a Trustee for the Southwestern Ohio Municipal Court Clerks Association where he’s been a member since 2004. He’s also a member of the National Association for Court Management and the Ohio Association of Municipal & County Court Clerks.

…He is also a Certified Court Manager, having completed a multi-year program through the National Center for State Courts Institute for Court Management and the Judicial College of the Ohio Supreme Court.

Source: About

All that experience, and not a massive move to consolidate and simplify the clerks sites throughout the county. His site makes no promises of implementing change, just, vote for me, I’m great, and btw- here’s a list of my fundraisers and that I raised a bunch of money.

This is incompetence.

As a builder of websites, I can tell you that it would be very easy to have one integrated county wide site, even with different front ends for each municipality. We do this all the time with open source content management systems. Unfortunately, politicians with a degree in “Sociology & Bachelor of Science in Political Science with a concentration in Environmental Science” missed anything about running a business or computer science.

We’re working on a campaign to bring this issue to the forefront, not just in Montgomery County, but statewide. If you are an attorney, a bill collector, an investigative reporter or anyone else that has to interface with this horrific mishmash of bad websites and inept clerks, and would like to support forcing the simplification and consolidation of online clerks sites in Ohio, please consider making a donation to Reconstructing Dayton. Because we are a 501(c)(4) your donation can remain entirely anonymous.

It’s time to get clerks that aren’t jerks in office and doing their job effectively.

Montgomery County Dems still acting like a Monarchy

It’s doubtful that the new blood elected to precinct captaincy have enough juice to rid the party once and for all of the inbred leadership of Mark Owens, Russ Joseph, Nan Whaley, Karl Keith etc.

The power of the party of patronage is strong with this group.

I blame myself for not going out to actively plot and recruit people to take over the party, although I was telling everyone to run for precinct captain back in January.

The party reorg meeting, where the vote is taken was moved to a Wednesday, instead of the normal Thursday, to be on Wed. June 6th at 7:30. What they didn’t tell anyone is that they are having a constitution review meeting tomorrow at 9:30.

Did they invite all the current ward leaders or members of executive committee? No. (I am both). Did they invite future precinct captains? Nope.

thumbnail of MCDP Constitution Revised

MCDP Constitution Revised- click image to download PDF

But, Mike Bock, who is over at DaytonOS, has been writing about the reorg and needed changes to the party constitution, got an invite:

Good afternoon,

I am writing on behalf of Chairman Mark Owens to invite you to participate in the Constitution Committee.

This committee is an ad hoc committee that meets generally in concert with Reorganization.  The purpose of the Committee is to review the MCDP Constitution, make sure it remain in compliance with the Ohio Democratic Party Constitution, the DNC Constitution, and Ohio Revised Code – which are all governing bodies that have jurisdiction over the MCDP.

This committee would need to meet before Reorganization on June 6th, but likely only the one time.  In order to help facilitate scheduling I have set up this Doodle poll.  Please just click through, add your name, and click on the time slots that work for you.  https://doodle.com/poll/a5k342ykkh952fpr
If you have questions or concerns about the Constitution Review Committee, or are wondering why I asked you, please feel free to give me a call any time.
Thanks so much for your passion and service! -Sarah
P.S. (The answer to why will likely include the following reasons.
1. You have been duly elected to the Central Committee.
2. You have expressed interest in the governance of the MCDP.
3. You’ve asked how you can help out the Party, and here is a project that needs attention.
4. You are a leader in the Party and we are looking for ways to foster those leadership tendencies.)

Sarah Willhelm Greathouse
Executive Director
Montgomery County Democratic Party
313 S. Jefferson St., Ste. 102
Dayton, OH 45402
(937) 222-4007
Bock has all his suggestions here:

One central issue that the June 6 MCDP Reorganization Meeting must deal with is how to build respect and support for the Democratic Party. We must deal with the core reasons that so many Democrats stay home and refuse to vote. We must deal with the fact that the party has lost legitimacy. At the June 6 Meeting, I’m proposing ten changes to the MCDP Constitution. I believe that in order for the Democratic Party to gain respect and support it must address: Its Purpose, Its Structure and Its Legitimacy.

Source: Elected Precinct Leaders At The MCDP Reorganization Must Advance A Plan To Build Respect And Support For The Party « DaytonOS

I think he doesn’t go far enough.

My suggestions are much more draconian- to stop the party of patronage from strangling itself.

The reality is, we shouldn’t allow elected officials to also run the party- once they are elected- they are supposed to serve everyone. We also need to stop allowing patronage job holders to be precinct captains- because they vote to pick or prop up their bosses.

There is no reason for a central committee and a subset executive committee. I’ve attended both meetings for years- and they are virtually the same. Just like we don’t really need a House Senate and House of Representatives in Ohio- and we could switch to a unicameral system- it’s time to cut the crap and just let the body vote. With the huge cut in precincts due to our population loss about 8 years ago- there aren’t so many seats that we can’t just vote and manage the whole party leadership in one meeting.
If this party wasn’t just a friends and family club- we’d have opposition research on every Republican- we’d have an entire machine built to canvas- and keep our data up to date.
We’d support ALL Dems who run for office – because we are trying to elect Dems. We’d have a candidate in every race, we’d have a bench of candidates ready to step up.
We’d also make sure that we have a progressive platform to push- like reducing the number of elected offices and their overhead in Montgomery County-
Fair property taxes and income taxes-
No more corporate welfare-
Strong schools, Single Payer Health care
That’s a party I could be proud of.
Not endorsing in primaries is only the beginning….

I’ll be there tomorrow at 9:30- if you are a member or future member of the Montgomery County Democratic Party- you should show up too.

The committee, as it stands is 4 people. Mark Owens (clerk of courts Dayton, and party chair), Nolan Thomas (prosecutor city of Kettering), Sarah Greathouse (see above) and Mike Bock. Does that sound like a group for change?

 

The return of democracy to the Montgomery County Democratic Party depends on YOU!

thumbnail of central-committee-small

Click to download PDF of my old campaign against the friends and family plan

The idea of free elections, the bedrock of the American democracy, is that the people get to choose their representatives to elected office. We all know that thanks to Citizens United, we’ve turned most elections to federal and state office into auctions, but, local elections were still at least relatively untainted.

That is, unless we’re talking about Montgomery County Ohio, where the two major political parties seem to think the old party boss system is still perfectly OK.

This year, the Montgomery County (Un) Democratic Party is going to elect new precinct captains to fill out the party ranks. Typically, these seats have been filled by “the friends and family” plan. Those who have patronage jobs (working for an elected official- who hires you based mostly for loyalty and payback for helping them get elected- not, on your qualifications) typically fill out the ranks- thereby making sure those who are in power, stay in power.

The crazy thing is that running for precinct captain is the easiest thing to do. You get a petition, you determine your precinct, you get signatures of at least 10 dems in your precinct (you only need 5 good signatures) and turn in your petition by February 7th to the Board of (S)Elections in the Montgomery County Building. Make sure people SIGN their name- and have the correct date, etc.

Then, get a walking list of Dems in your precinct and go make friends. Go door to door- and explain that you believe in open honest party politics where the goal is to elect democrats to office. If you want nice printed material, reach out to me- I’m willing to help get you literature which you can put a sticker on with your name and contact info- so that we can win the party back.

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Darryl Fairchild must have the Democratic Party scared

Why is this so important? Because the current leadership would rather spend resources and money on mailings against “un-endorsed” democrats. See this post: Montgomery County Democratic Party eats its own  The party spent money to mail against a Democrat. A guy so loyal that 4 years ago, he agreed to pull out of a race for Dayton City Commission to wait “his turn.” Considering that this is the party that couldn’t even mount a challenger to Montgomery County Sheriff Phil Plummer, one has to wonder what the bar is to be a candidate. It shouldn’t be hard to run against a man who runs a torture chamber posing as a jail.

At the first party meeting post election, I asked to speak and made a speech about how I believe the party is supposed to elect Democrats- not just the friends and family. I called on an accounting of party money spent, without the approval of party membership to mail the smear piece. I made a motion to require a vote to spend party money on anti-democratic mailings. I was rebuffed and lied to, and the motions were voted down.

Mark Owens, our party chair, apparently doesn’t know the difference between vetting a candidate and endorsing one, trying to say the State Party failed to properly vet their last candidate for Governor- Ed Fitzgerald as an excuse for their policy of endorsing in primaries. Reminder- this is the party that supported Clayton Luckie, a State Rep who went to prison for using his campaign money like an ATM.

The party said that AFSCME paid to do the mailing and that I’d find it in the party financial reports posted on the Montgomery County Board of Elections site. I’ve gone and downloaded them. I can’t find the donation- or the expenditures clearly marked. See if you can find them.

thumbnail of 11-7-17 pre-general Montgomery County Democratic Party- Political

Pre-General 2017 MCDP campaign finance report click to download PDF

thumbnail of 11-7-17 post general Montgomery County Democratic Party Political Account

Post General MCDP campaign finance report 2017, PDF click to download

The next primary election could be the turning point. If enough progressive, honest dems take over the Montgomery County Democratic party we can eliminate endorsing in primaries. We can let the people decide who they want to represent them. We can stop the party elite from choosing a Hilary instead of a Bernie for us.

However, it takes the effort of 360 independent minded democrats to pull this off. After the election, the party gets to fill empty seats- with anyone they want, whether or not they live in your precinct. This is how they consolidate power.

It’s time for this to stop. If you have questions, feel free to contact me at [email protected]

It’s time to concentrating on electing democrats- not just the friends and family.

 

 

 

 

It’s still a party instead of an organization for all local dems

Somewhere I read the invite wrong- I thought the Montgomery County Democratic Party was actually going to admit that their way of working wasn’t, and it was time for a real change.

I went to the meeting last Thursday night in the stunning new quarters (the old building was a shithole) and saw a huge crowd, including many fresh faces. The time to do a mea culpa was ripe- after Montgomery County voted for Trump, and Gary Leitzell came withing spitting distance of dethroning Debbie Lieberman on the county commission, despite spending almost no money, creating no organization, and having zero support from the local Republican party which may be only slightly more incompetent than the local dems.

The fact that the opposing party chair, Sheriff Phil Plummer was unopposed, despite news story after news story of incompetence, criminal behavior and racist tendencies in his department should be the first clue that the Dems are impotent.

But, we got a short speech from Party Chairman Mark Owens, a short speech from Mayor Nan Whaley- who still think that electing a woman president is more important than electing democrats, and the introduction of Sarah Greathouse as the new executive director. Willis Blackshear stepped up to speak for Fred Strahorn, as if only a black elected man can stand in for another black elected man ( of which there are only a handful in this county), and then off to socialize.

Greathouse and her husband have been political campaign consultants in the area for at least the last ten years. They’re part of the party inner circle. It will be interesting to see if she is able to bring some sophistication to the mechanics of the organization- starting with a website that isn’t a joke.

Nothing was said about a plan to regain seats, although they did have a monster list of all the seats that will be available in 2017 for people to volunteer to run for.

That list should be available, along with every open seat, requirements for running, job responsibility, etc on the local board of elections site- but that would require competency there too- which isn’t possible since the people running the BOE are appointed by the incompetent parties, neither of which actually has wanted people who aren’t on the friends and family plan to run.

What the party needed to do?

Stop all endorsing of candidates in primaries and pre-selection process. The object is to elect dems, not to narrow the field before an election. A party with a strong and active base, should be able to inform their members of who their choices are- and by members, I mean all Dems in the County- not just the card carrying cabal that has been running things for time eternal.

Bring  back the candidates school, but take a lot of the trouble of running a campaign out of the hands of novices. It’s hard enough for people to decide to step up to run, while having jobs, families, and other responsibilities- but also having to learn how to do a website, manage the voter walking lists, craft campaign materials, order signs, distribute said signs and materials, go to candidates nights, knock on doors and of course raise money.

This is the parties job. It would be easier to build one network of websites for all Dem candidates, including donation tools, manage all the door-to-door data and targeting for candidates (who generally have no idea how data-driven modern campaigns are- or would have any way of managing it)- building one master list of Dem voters and letting all the candidates update and use it. Never again should a presidential campaign come to town- building the data from scratch as well as finding the people to do the work, that should be in place. That’s the difference between a political organization- and a “Party” that’s more like a social club for those who know the handshake.

And most importantly, someone needs to build a data wall- of all the available offices- and start planning who will run for every seat, in the not only the next election, but also the one after that and the one after that. I like Rob Klepinger, but, running him against Mike Turner twice was a joke, as have been every other challenger for the last 14 years.

The real key will be to take over the statehouse despite gerrymandered districts for the 2020 session- when redistricting is up next- or, figure out a legal strategy to force districts that make both geographic and rational sense. While Turner’s district is actually now manageable in one media market, a look at the seat vacated by John Boehner and now owned by Warren Davidson- that stretches from Cincinnati up to Mercer County- is not.

An inclusive organization, that puts democratic principals ahead of personal relationships is the only way we’ll see change.

Willis Blackshear and I will have a sit down after the turn of the year to discuss these issues. I already know we don’t agree on the endorsement in primaries, but, we’ll see who is more persuasive.

Telling people “it’s not your time” or asking them “if we don’t endorse you, will you drop out” are the two least democratic sayings of the local party.

And if you need proof of why parties aren’t the best people to pick candidates, twice the local party and the state and national party chose a woman to run for president, only to be beat by a novice black man with an Arabic middle name the first time, and by a reality show host the second.

Unfortunately, for this current crew- their next best choice for running a governor is probably a reality show host who was arrested for picking up a prostitute- Jerry Springer. Need I say more?