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:

Why the sales tax hike isn’t the answer

taxes graphicI’m one of the people stirred up about the sales tax hike. I’ve already known for years that if I do my shopping in Greene county, I can save .5% on sales tax that funds the RTA- a Montgomery County Service that actually goes to Greene county on my dime (WSU and the Greene).

I was also the lone voice against giving Sinclair a second tax levy- a school which taxes Montgomery County to death, yet provides services in Greene, Preble and Warren Counties- all without them paying a lick of taxes.

And when it comes to economic development in the last 30 years, I look at the whole Fairfield Mall area- which was part cow pasture when I came to Wright State, I look at the Greene, which was forest, and I look at Cornerstone of whatever they call it- where Costco and others are- and I realize that all three are as close to Montgomery County as possible but NOT IN IT- I see the effects of our incompetent county leadership.

So when Debbie Lieberman says something stupid like:

“All the people out there getting petitions and getting stirred up over $36 a year, they definitely have a right to do that, but it’s very disappointing,” said Debbie Lieberman, Montgomery County Commission president. “We are getting cut by the state – our state Legislature and our governor.”

In June, the three Democrats on the county commission passed a 0.25 percent sales tax increase that works out to about $36 a year for every man, woman and child in Montgomery County….

If the tax increase is derailed, Lieberman said the county will be forced to scuttle a number of programs focused on the arts, economic development and criminal justice. The money is also earmarked for planned upgrades to the Montgomery County Jail, the focus of nearly a dozen civil rights lawsuits costing the county more than $1 million in recent years.

“If that (tax increase repeal) happens, every office in the county will be slashed. It could mean jobs, ” she said. “It certainly will not include the new officers we were going to provide the sheriff and all the programs to make the jail safer for our employees and inmates. All off that is off the table. It just can’t happen. There’s no way.”

Source: Deadline looms for tax-hike foes – Dayton Daily News

Let’s see, when the jail started having issue after issue, did you step in and remove the leadership that was costing us millions in settlements and allowing our citizens to get death sentences for just being there? Nope.

When I look at the Salem Mall and Hara Arena, I see that you were totally inept at managing and maintaining the resources we had in Montgomery County. You, who live in Clayton, one of the newest unnecessary fiefdoms of uselessness in Montgomery County.

Don’t get me wrong, I like Debbie Lieberman, and I think that Doug Barry, who has self-appointed himself leader of the anti-sales tax hike movement,  is totally unfit for office (he’s running for Dan Foley’s seat on the County Commission. However, this sales tax increase isn’t the answer for the county and here’s why: it will continue down the road of placing the burden of government on the those the least able to pay, it’s a regressive tax pure and simple, in other words, those with the least will be hit as a percentage of their income the most.

Now, why is Doug Barry just as criminal? Austin Landing. The only place in Ohio that I know of where a two tiered income tax system is in existence and he, as a Miami Township Trustee is fine with that. Through a JEDD (a Joint Economic Development District) Miami Township, which is banned from collecting an income tax- manages to share in an illegal income tax that is only levied on the little people- those who work in retail jobs at the development. People like State Rep Jim Butler, who works in a “tall office building” get exempted from the 2% income tax. This is the most unfair tax in existence and Barry, has never said a thing against it.

The problems in Montgomery County will never be solved with more taxes, what will solve them is the elimination of insane duplication and the reduction of the number of governments. I’ve started a 501(c)(4) non-profit, Reconstructing Dayton, to study and clarify the wastes in Montgomery County that need to be eliminated. Something our County Government seems incapable of addressing.

Case in point- the number of municipal courts, their inadequate websites that costs hundreds of thousands of dollars a year, and still don’t allow online filing of cases.

And while Debbie lives in Clayton- a totally unnecessary micro-government, with its own slew of overpaid bureaucrats, my favorite waste of a community is Moraine, where 6000 people pay $25 per person, per year, just to have a City Manager who is paid $145,000 a year. Do they really need their own police department? We’re working on building a visual dashboard of this kind of data– so that voters can see how much of their tax burden is for pompous politicians seat at the taxpayer financed feeding trough.

Why Moraine isn’t forced to join Kettering which already runs their schools is a mystery- about as big as why we need a sales tax increase right before the feds have mandated that all online retailers start charging sales taxes which should bring a windfall to the county.

Maybe we really don’t need a Pre-school Promise with its unregulated additional school board that spends a huge amount on advertising- and we should just start sending little kids books each month? The Dolly Parton Imagination Learning Library has proven to increase reading scores- the “Preschool Promise” hasn’t even managed to significantly  increase enrollment in a program where your tax dollars are funneled back to private businesses running sub-standard day cares now calling themselves pre-schools.

It’s funny, when circulating the petition I’ve only had three people say no to signing to put this on the ballot. One was a former arts administrator, who sucked at the teat of tax financed support of the arts, and two lawyers, who receive subsidized day care for their kids- and are big supporters of a co-op grocery for the “poor people of West Dayton” who will be most impacted by this regressive tax. The county has said if this tax increase on all goes down, they won’t have any money to support this single grocery store.

How about we just eliminate any city under 50,000 in population, and force all urban townships illegal, and eliminate all township government entirely, forcing low population density areas to use county services only- as a starting point?

The amount of money to fund all Debbie’s dreams would be available, and the number of micro-governments like Doug Barry’s Miami Township would disappear.

You can sign the petition at my office from 9-6 today and tomorrow – 100 Bonner St Dayton Ohio, it’s also available at Routsong Funeral Home in Centerville or Strehle’s Dry Cleaning of Kettering and I’m sure a few other businesses.

It’s time for the governments of Montgomery County to have to learn to live within their budgets just like the rest of us have for the last 10 years.

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.

Final sales tax public hearing today 1:30 pm

For the second time in a week, the Dayton Day-Old News selectively quoted me at the first sales tax hearing. All they managed to get out of my presentation was that the sales tax was regressive, hurting those with the smallest incomes the most.

What they left out was the majority of my speech- where I pointed out that Montgomery County has WAY too many governments- all adding to overhead. Watch the video:

For those of you who would rather read- here’s the text:

A sales tax increase hurts the working poor much more than any other tax you could impose. They don’t have the option of leaving the county to save, or to order online from retailers that don’t charge tax. It takes up a larger percentage of their disposable income, since other than food, rent and energy, this tax applies.

Montgomery County is already one of the highest taxed counties in the state by the time we finish paying for Health and Human Services’ two levies, Sinclair’s two levies,  Metroparks levy, the Library Levy, school levies, and anything else- like a street light assessment in Dayton.

When you look at the cost to business to try to keep up with the different income tax rates for all 28 jurisdictions in this county- you can call that a tax as well. The overhead of having too many chiefs for a declining number of Indians.

In the meantime- Warren County- is the fastest growing county. Their taxes are lower. And, they even get a Sinclair campus with no tax levy. Go figure.

But, the real tax that nobody wants to talk about is the politician tax. We have way too many politicians in Montgomery County. That’s because we allow almost anybody with a back 40 to become a city. The City of Moraine. 6000 people. And they have to pay for a mayor and commission, and a city manager- for $145,000.

That works out to $25 per person per year to pay for a guy who’s job it is to do exactly the same thing the County Administrator does.

The list goes on. Why does Jefferson Township have a school district, with a superintendent and a treasurer when all their students total 315? If we used that formula for Dayton, we’d have 41 superintendents.

And for another example, why do we have a Vandalia, Miamisburg, Kettering, Oakwood, Dayton and county municipal courts- with a website for each- none of which allows basic online filing? Hint, Franklin County has just one site- and one municipal court system.

No, raising taxes isn’t the answer anymore. It makes us uncompetitive.

Just like all of little fiefdoms add to our overhead – and don’t add much back.

With every less police chief- we could have two or more sheriff’s deputies on the streets.

With every less “City Manager” we could have more money for paving and sweeping streets.

With every less Court website we might have a single one that actually works.

If you are to be leaders, you need to come up with a better answer than just hiking another tax.

It’s time to hike some of these banana republics out of business- and have logical rational leadership with lower overhead and better management skills.

At ReconstructingDayton.org we’ve begun working on the data sets and metrics to show Montgomery County Voters how much all of you politicians are costing them. Not only in pay per person they rule, but in how much payola per elected official it takes to get elected in Montgomery county so you can continue to raise our taxes to pay for all of you.

When voters see how much all these fiefdoms cost, maybe they will wake up and it will be time to slim down our governments instead of our wallets.

Thank you.

In between last week and this week, the supreme court issued a mandate for all online retailers to have to collect sales tax, regardless of if they have a presence in the state. And while some say “Amazon already does this”- it’s not entirely true- since Amazon also manages some sales for other retailers, who don’t have to charge sales tax- this will make ALL orders subject to the tax.

Maybe the Commissioners should consider their new windfall, and delay this tax. I’ve already heard there are people ready to gather 15,ooo signatures to put this vote on the November ballot. I’ll be helping them.

It’s time to bring some sanity to our tax structures in Montgomery County- watch this page on Reconstructing Dayton for more data on the breakdowns of cost per person for our elected officials, etc.  BTW- thanks to those of you who donated to help our cause last week. We’re a 501(c)(4) non-profit so you can donate, support a cause, and not have your name reported (just like the national PACs do it).

To say that YouthWorks, Pre-school promise (which is only in Kettering and Dayton right now) and the corporate welfare ED/GE program are critical to a functioning county government is an insult to the taxpayers, who have also been told that two Sinclair levies, two Health and Human Services levies, a Metroparks levy and a Library levy are also critical.

In today’s paper they even mentioned supporting the arts. How will the 25% of Montgomery County residents who are living in poverty, supposed to afford a ticket to the philharmonic before you increase the sales tax?

I can’t be there to speak today (I’ll be in court trying to get justice for a Service Disabled Veteran), so I’ll be sending a proxy.

If you want to go, it’s on the 10th floor of the County Administration building, 451 W. 3rd St. Dayton. Enter the parking garage from 2nd Street, and ask for your parking to be validated by the county commission. They shouldn’t be able to charge parking for a meeting. Festivities start at 1:30/

 

Tax more or spend less? Introducing Reconstructing Dayton

Reconstructing Dayton logoI’ve mentioned Reconstructing Dayton a few times before on this site. As of this writing, it has exactly 4 posts.

That will probably change now. Today, at the County meeting at 6pm to discuss the .25% sales tax increase, we’ll have a frank talk about the absurdity of all these local banana republics masquerading as cities, villages, townships- and sucking money out of all of our pockets for no good reason.

We have too many governments in Montgomery County. We have too many City Managers, economic development directors, police chiefs, municipal courts, street maintenance supervisors, you name it. And I’m not even going near the multitude of school districts, school boards and the mysterious Montgomery County Educational Service Center.

On top of that- we have tax levies coming out the wazoo. Two levies each for Human Services and Sinclair. Metroparks, the Library, local schools, it all adds up to paying for bureaucrats in triplicate.

If you’ve wondered why there hasn’t been much on Esrati.com for the last two weeks, it’s because we’ve been working away on www.reconstructingdayton.org where we’re working on identifying the costs and overhead caused by bureaucratic bloat. We’ve got someone working 20 hours a week, gathering data, tax rates, names of those in power, copies of contracts, annual billing statements, population of each subdivision- and working on creating a datamap of how much this insanity is costing us, the overtaxed minions of Montgomery County.

It’s set up as a 501(c)(4) so we can run informational ads at election time, telling voters which politicians actually will give support to working on ways to reduce the redundancy and cut costs- so a sales tax increase won’t be necessary. Because, if you understand the nature of sales tax- it’s a regressive tax that costs those with the least disposable income, the greatest percentage of their paycheck.

What would make more sense? A whole bunch of things. A flat income tax for all of Montgomery County, no matter where you live- township, city, village or under a bridge. Then, dole it out to each real jurisdiction, based on efficiency of delivering services. Take your payroll, divide it by people per square mile- or some such formula. Businesses wouldn’t have to spend a fortune trying to track payroll deductions- and employees wouldn’t be penalized for living in Brookville and working in Dayton (currently, they are paying 3.5% income tax- because Dayton raised theirs last year to 2.5% and Brookville stopped forgiving it all- and said you’ll pay 1% no matter where you work).

My first suggestion is to force Moraine to merge with someone. Anyone. Kettering should be their logical partner since their schools are merged. Jefferson Township schools- should become part of Valleyview or Dayton- or Trotwood, take your pick (if you’re smart- Valleyview), 340 students does not a district make.

In the meantime- pulling all this data together, building the databases and entering the data, will cost money. If you’re sick of taxes going up and government delivering less. Or if the battle of tax breaks to lure businesses from one municipality to another is leaving you as the last man standing with a tax bill (because you’re not GE), we’re here for you. Please consider making a donation to Reconstructing Dayton. Every little bit helps. We’ll also be looking for volunteers to help with data entry sprints and research. So please go and sign up for updates.

How many municipal courts and websites do we need?