Live by the charter, die by the charter.
The city law director and the pedants at the Board of Elections may have a problem big enough to drive a car through in their reasoning to exclude Mr. William Pace from the primary ballot, May 7, 2013- and it’s because of their insistence on continuing to use the petition written and designed by people in the stone age.
The petitions have this very specific language:
“We name as the nominating committee the five registered electors of The City of Dayton whose names and addresses appear below who shall have authority as provided by the Charter to The City of Dayton, to nominate a candidate to replace the person named herein in the event that such person dies or withdraws his candidacy”
Since Harsman said that Pace didn’t accept his candidacy by signing the petition- but, the petitions were still valid meaning the nominating committee can still name a candidate.
Harsman and the vity have to accept the committee’s nomination, because the signatures of over 500 registered voters gave them the right to.
I suggest they nominate Mr. Pace- or if that’s unacceptable- they nominate someone else.
That argument was presented briefly by Attorney Clinton Ralph Wilcoxson II at the city commission meeting tonight. Of course, there was no feedback from the Mayor or Nan Whaley or Matt Joseph. After the meeting though, they were chuckling about their continued success at keeping people off the ballot.
Since Mr. Harsman obviously knew that the petitions were unsigned when he contacted Mr. Danish, on May 11 for an opinion, days before the deadline for the signing of the “acceptance of candidacy” that was by midnight of May 13th- and that Harsman held the meeting of the BOE, at 4 p.m., after the offices were officially closed, without publishing a public agenda of the business to be conducted 24 hours in advance.
From the Ohio Sunshine Laws, pg 90:
Public bodies must provide at least 24 hours advance notification of special meetings to all media outlets that have requested such notification, except in the event of an emergency requiring immediate official action (see “Emergency Meetings,” below).
When a public body holds a special meeting to discuss particular issues, the statement of the meeting’s purpose must specifically indicate those issues, and the public body may only discuss those specified issues at that meeting.
When a special meeting is simply a rescheduled “regular” meeting occurring at a different time, the statement of the meeting’s purpose may be for “general purposes.”
Discussing matters at a special meeting that were not disclosed in its notice of purpose, either in open session or executive session, is a violation of the Open Meetings Act.
I specifically asked for the minutes in advance of the meeting at 9:30 a.m. on March 13th, in a recorded phone call that was posted on this site. See this post: http://esrati.com/william-pace-should-be-on-the-ballot-the-BOE-should-be-investigated/9620/
When Harsman denied my request, I contacted the Mayor and the City Commission office, asking them to force Harsman to release the proposed agenda, since the meeting was going to be held at 4 p.m. instead of the normal 11 a.m., and that Harsman was merely a subcontractor of the city which, by charter, is supposed to run its own nonpartisan elections.
At 2:25pm I received an email from Kery T. Gray, Executive Assistant to the City Commission:
“Thank you for calling regarding your concerns with the Board of Elections. As promised, I shared information with the Mayor and with Mr. Harsman. If I get additional information that I am allowed to share, I will do so.”
No further information came.
I am unable to determine what time that Mr. Danish responded to Harsman with his opinion about the signatures : Board of Elections Opinion-Improper Notarization-1 but the fact that Harsman had been hoping to knock Pace off for lacking signatures was known since he made a request on the 11th. This should and could have been on a public agenda 24 hours before the meeting, so that citizens could have observed the meeting and weighed in. Open Meetings are the law in Ohio- and as I said in the call, regardless of the “triple checks” that Harsman said his staff was undertaking, this issue had nothing to do with triple checks of signatures- it was purely a ploy to hide behind closed doors and not notify the candidate in time for the submission of the single signature.
As soon as Harsman identified that the signature was missing, he should have contacted the nominating committee at that time- and asked whom they nominate- and then got that candidate to sign before the deadline- instead of holding his illegal, after-hours meeting- without an agenda provided 24 hours in advance- to push his personal agenda of excluding Mr. Pace from the ballot.
Unfortunately, the Sunshine Laws don’t have serious penalties or teeth behind them, but, as clearly stated on the petition, “Whoever commits election falsification is guilty of a felony of the fifth degree”- to which I say Mr. Harsman committed a felony by knowingly asking questions of the city attorney on the 11th of May, and refusing to respond to public requests for information in a timely manner that could have changed the course of this election.
And may it also be noted. that the Board of Elections routinely pays its staff and particularly, its directors overtime. By all standards of previous meetings, the signatures off all petitions should have been checked before the normal Tuesday meeting at 11 a.m. and presented then, which would have given the candidate a full day and a half to file his signature.
This really warrants an investigation by the Secretary of State and United States Attorney General, but first, you can start the clock on how long it takes the Dayton Daily news to steal this story.