1 Aug 2022, I published this and mis-identified Grady Mullins as Chuck Morton, I’ve made the fixes. Apologies to Mr. Morton
Thursday night I could have gone to see my favorite bands of all time at The Rose- Earth Wind and Fire. Instead I went to video the meeting of a political party that no longer welcomes me, or anyone else.
For some newly elected precinct captains, what went on probably scared them away forever. For those of us who’ve suffered these fools for decades, this was nothing new. I’ve jokingly called it the meeting of “The Monarchy of Montgomery County” – where the people in power wield it, ruthlessly, to make sure that they keep the “Friends and Family Plan” of patronage jobs and doling out of government contracts within a small group of privileged mobsters. Yes, this is a prime example of the “Culture of Corruption” and well worthy of a RICO investigation.
For those of you who don’t know RICO- (and I’m not talking Rico Tubbs from Miami Vice)
The Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) of 1970 seeks to strengthen the legal tools in evidence gathering by establishing new penal prohibitions and providing enhanced sanctions and new remedies for dealing with the unlawful activities of those engaged in organized crime.
But, that’s starting at the end, let’s work from the beginning.
A room divided
The way the party has worked in the past was there were two committees that met every meeting night. First- the “Executive Committee” which was a chosen “Ward leader” for each precinct, and whomever the party chair wanted to anoint. In the old building- they’d meet upstairs, behind closed doors- and then come down for the meeting of the “Central Committee” that was the elected precinct captains.
Since they gave up the HQ to Sinclair, they’d meet over to one side of the cavernous meeting room at 6:30 and then the big meeting would be center of the hall at 7. The agenda’s would be virtually identical.
The County recently redrew precincts (by probably illegally hiring a retired employee at a ridiculous salary) to add 21 additional precincts to a new total of 381. Back in the early days of my party involvement there were at least a 100 more precincts- but, the reality is, the party never has filled all the seats by election. What the party did do, which it turns out violated the law, was appoint folks who didn’t live in the precinct to represent it. They can no longer do that.
The definition of a precinct captains duties has never been clear. Ideally, their job would be to canvass their precinct and engage and inform their constituents. The reality is, the party never even posted a list of captains- nor gave any tools or instructions to them, or had any duties at all, including when to show up.
The only meetings that matter were to pick a chair every four years, adopt a constitution, and the sticky wicket- endorse their friends and family in primaries (as opposed to work to inform all dems of the wonderful choices they have at the polls) and to vote on appointments to finish vacated terms. That’s when the inner circle shows up.
In this meeting, literally it was the back of the room (like a back room, without a wall) and the front of the room in a show down over the constitution. There are a few things to be aware of: If you need Roberts Rules of Order and a Parliamentarian to run the show- it’s likely you haven’t done your job at mediating differences, and two- if you are doing a real vote- standing, sitting, and walking and counting isn’t a real legal vote.
The reason they vote this way- instead of recording actual votes and publishing results (like every real elected body) is because this allows the party bosses, who’ve got their patronage employees elected as precinct captains, all watching over the vote. Not saying that you wouldn’t lose your job in a private ballot if you voted against it- but, it would be a lot harder to coordinate votes this way. I was told not to talk to a precinct captain from the sidelines- as interference. Seriously.
The major change that was made was moving to a unicameral body. One committee, to be called the “executive committee” and a few tweaks to language- to include the right to an abortion. The rest of it- dealing with the chairs unlimited rights to appoint people to the executive committee, or changing anything about endorsements- was shot down. It’ll be a major feat if they manage to post the actual new constitution on their website. As of today, it’s still the 2018 version.
Robert’s Rules- and the average person
If you have to keep checking the book on how to do things, it’s a pretty good indication that your meeting is out of hand. As this one was.
There are some people who have a gift for running a meeting effectively, the best I’ve ever seen is former Dem party member- turned R, John McManus, who is currently the County Treasurer. He took over a school board meeting with a ton of pissed off parents and teachers- and let over 50 of them speak- without having a single ticked off one. It’s a sight to behold.
My neighborhood organization, Historic South Park, had become dysfunctional back in the late eighties. I was elected president and immediately started publishing agendas with times, and brought a darkroom timer to show everyone how long we had. Meetings went from 3 hours to an hour- and everyone was much happier.
My way to discuss the points of contention- are to work your way through the document- and when someone raises a concern, you get them to stand on one side to make their argument for the change, and someone else to argue against. Then ask the group- if they are clear about what the issue is- restate the proposed change – and then have the room divide to the side they are on. Much simpler than Roberts Rules- and keeps people moving and engaged.
How undemocratic was this meeting?
Well, they didn’t send me a meeting notice- despite being a precinct captain for the last 12 years and a member for at least 25 years. They discussed the fact that their current structure only allows one person per precinct to be involved- making husband and wife teams have to sit separately- and only one has a voice. They made an clear distinction between “Good democrats” who he listed- and didn’t mention my name as if to say I’m a “Bad democrat” which the new chair, Mohamed Al-Hamdani made clear to me the previous week in a private meeting. “You’ve been shitting on this party forever” were his exact words. No, I’ve been trying to make it democratic. He made clear that he had no money, no full-time executive director, and couldn’t even manage his FB page because the last exec director hadn’t granted him or anyone else access. Plus, they have no clue on how to run their website- I pointed out the list of candidates was still from the last election 2021- so they promptly disabled it.
I pointed out that they had a volunteer who had said he’d work for free- Mohamed’s response “I don’t even know who that guy was.” Some welcoming party- they don’t even recognize help when offered- or who is there (because they don’t care.)
This private meeting only happened after I asked Al-Hamdani for a response to the email I sent all 3 OH-10 dem party chairs – how to win, that none of them responded to.
The reality is this party has no interest in working to win elections except of their internal junta. They aren’t useful to statewide or national candidates who need a ground game, and they don’t care. The sad thing is, they have a club underneath them- the Westside Democratic Club– that does a better job than either the MCDP or the State Party does at running a useful, informative website.
There was no prior notice given, nor any discussion, about who to name to the Board of Elections, a $20K a year job for 2 meetings a month. They gave it to retired Judge Barbara Gorman without a peep.
The reality is, they had 115 people eligible to vote out of 381 precincts. There were about 180 elected- some of which they didn’t even have email addresses for. Not even enough for a quorum- and they were voting for everyone- meaning 58 people ran the show- from the back of the room. I’ve been booed and hissed at for suggesting that patronage employees shouldn’t be allowed to serve as precinct captains- if they get to pick and choose who gets endorsements in primaries. This was another example of why once you are a government employee, you shouldn’t be involved in partisan political activities (The Hatch act only applies to Federal employees and those involved in Federally funded work). But, no one listens to me. Yet.
The near brawl
As the last speaker came to the podium, there was a surprise. Of course, they didn’t properly introduce them, or themselves. It was Casey Whitten-Amadon who serves on the IUE exec board and is a member of the Dayton-Miami Valley Regional Labor Council. He questioned why the labor council had endorsed a Republican- to name, former Montgomery County Sheriff Phil “The Torturer” Plummer who has made his way up the ladder to State Rep. He’ll be facing Dem, Leronda Jackson in the Nov 8 election if she gets enough write in votes on Aug 2 (Tuesday). There was a controversy about Leronda’s form- thanks to the mess the Republican Redistricting Commission, and BOE deputy director Sarah Greathouse took the fall for accepting Leronda’s petition. Whitten-Amadon who is affiliated with the IUE, said he sits on the Regional Labor Council- and wasn’t aware that this endorsement took place. He calls out Tom Ritchie by name, who then waves him over as they adjourn. I followed the action with my camera- knowing that Tom Ritchie has no problems with assaulting people (he did it to me in 1993- before cell phone cameras were the norm). You can’t hear Tom’s first words to Casey, but you sure hear Robin Fecke a long time party suck-up, screaming for Casey not to stick his fingers in Tom’s face. Ritchies in the green shirt, and
Chuck Morton Grady Mullins of the Dayton Building Trades is in the plaid shirt with the blue blazer. It gets ugly, but doesn’t come to blows. Here’s the video starting at the beginning of Casey’s speech – to the end of hostilities:
A national political consultant who is advising all Congressional candidates watched and said this “It must be so hard to put yourself forth as a candidate amidst all that stress and divisiveness that our country is experiencing right now. I truly admire you for stepping up. Truly!” Her view on the brawl “My goodness! And the almost-brawl at the end!!! Painful to watch, really, because as adults we should know how to be in conversation with each other, particularly when so much is at stake.”
I had people ready to ask for my endorsement of the party in my congressional race, but, thanks to the undemocratic way this meeting went- who wants their endorsement? What do 58 people in that room amount to compared to the 10,324 people who chose me to take on Mike Turner. Granted, it was a four way race, but since this party doesn’t believe in ranked choice voting, it is what it is.
After watching the dysfunction of the MCDP, it’s probably better not to have their endorsement. This is the party that sent out attack mailings against the candidates I worked for in the last Dayton City Commission race.
If you realize how this party works, exerts power, and is run, you’d be wondering why the feds hadn’t come down on them with a RICO case long ago.
I’d be interested to hear your comments about how the meeting transpired and the conduct of these who think they are the voice of Democrats in Montgomery County. Do you feel comfortable with these people in charge?