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The dirty little secrets of the Board of Elections

The Montgomery County Board of Elections hasn’t exactly been a mountain of piety over the years. More like the den of impropriety, where decisions are made on who gets to get on the ballot- and which politicians pick which voters and who gets a cushy government job without any kind of screening or job posting. After all, there was the time they hired a convicted rapist without a job posting [1].

After years of frustration with rejected petitions, bad instructions, poorly designed forms (the City of Dayton petitions in particular) I’ve pretty much figured out how to navigate this roadblock to democracy and have shared it here. However, the one thing that I’ve not bothered to do is actually go to all their meetings- because they don’t publish an agenda, or minutes, or offer any information of what happens in the bowels of the county building in the dungeon known as the Montgomery County Board of (S)elections.

Finally, tired of being handed the same “meeting notice” with zero actual information about what they would discuss, I filed a lawsuit after being refused information I requested in a public records request.

The information I wanted was what any citizen would expect- what they are going to do- and what contracts they were considering- and who they hired. Sarah Greathouse- the Dem deputy director said she wouldn’t talk to me after I told her I would file the lawsuit (totally illegal- it’s my job to do that according to the Sunshine Laws handbook). She turned me over to the prosecutor- who would defend them.

In my lawsuit I insisted on a visiting judge- one that isn’t selected by the two parties in Montgomery county that are in cahoots to pick judges for life. I asked that the prosecutor not be able to defend them- since they are in fact partisan political appointees in at will jobs appointed by the parties- not the people (I know this because I’ve been on the central committee for 12 years- and never once was asked who to appoint or given a chance to vote on the appointments). And, why should I pay for the prosecutor to oppose me- when the people he’s protecting work for the parties- not the public. And that I wanted a jury trial- because, even though this is an administrative law, it’s a special one- that puts the power of prosecution in the hands of the public.

I got the visiting judge. The rest has been ignored. I’ve also asked why only lawyers filing these cases can get reimbursed for their time- is the 14th amendment, which guarantees equal protection not applicable to lawyers and commoners alike?

The prosecutor made a motion for dismissal- claiming I had no grounds for filing in my brief. It’s as if he truly is too stupid to read and comprehend what I wrote. He’s also a liar- as I’ve proven in the Library case [2] – same doofus.

Here is my response that was filed Friday. Note, the slight problem with the prosecutor defending the slimeball violators of the Sunshine laws- is if they lose, the only person who can remove them from office- is the person who is defending them in the first place, which may be why Ohio NEVER removes anyone from office. Read what I filed- or skip to the really interesting part – the public records request that follows:

David Esrati vs Montgomery County Board of Elections response to motion to dismiss
[3]

Note, I also compiled all the agendas they’ve emailed me over the years- including 5 that have “Executive sessions” listed- but only 1 with a description that may qualify as the required stated reason for going into executive session.

There is no mention of any contracts. And my public records request was concerning the former BOE director for the Dems- Steve Harsman. I’d heard he’d been hired after he retired – to do the job that Sarah Greathouse and Jeff Rezabek (her republican counterpart) couldn’t do- mainly- redraw districts properly.

Turns out, the letter they sent had some questionable dates- and as to the compensation- it turns out that both Greathouse and Harsman were making big bucks- to do the same job that Harsman used to do by himself. Did the public know? Hell no.

Did the job get posted? Nope. Did the salary get posted – nope. Was this legit? Well, if you have the dem party folks write an agreement- on unofficial typing paper- and sign a bunch of names of people who are basically party bosses/insiders – sure you can. Note, the fact they didn’t even give me a scan of this questionable document should tell you all you need to know.

LetterofAgreement
[4]

And the explanation letter- from Jeff Rezabek- on official stationery- but messing up some very important dates.

esratiletter
[5]

Note- Harsman actually got a raise.

Now, considering the people in the County Commission office who are supposed to set the BOE budget and pay the partisan political appointees with our tax dollars- probably never knew any of this was going on. Why? Because the BOE never posted agendas, minutes, contracts or anything that the Ohio Open Meetings acts requires.

And that’s why I filed a lawsuit.

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