News

A Look at Dayton’s Upcoming Elections

It’s an odd numbered year and that means it’s local election season. In Dayton, things are more exciting than most years because Mayor Nan Whaley has declared that she will not run for reelection. City Commissioner Jeffrey Mims has thrown his hat in the mayoral race, which means that his commission seat will be up for grabs. At least one new politician will join the Dayton City Commission and the city will have a new mayor.

Today we look at candidates who will end up on the ballot in the May primary. As of now, we will not endorse any candidates. In the next week or so, we will send out our candidate surveys and publish the results here on Reconstructing Dayton. We will then ask candidates to participate in interviews we will livestream on YouTube. If we feel that any of the participating candidates are particularly worthy, we will endorse and promote those candidates.

Mayor

Currently there are three candidates competing for the role of mayor: former Mayor Gary Leitzell, City Commissioner Jeffrey Mims, and former Fire Chaplain Rennes Bowers. As it stands, Mims is the betting favorite to win, both because of his current position on the city commission and his support from the local Democratic party. Two candidates advance from the primary to the general election and Mims is the only shoe-in. This will make the primary a battle between Leitzell and Bowers for the remaining spot on the ballot.

Gary Leitzell

Former Mayor Gary Leitzell has decided to give it another shot. He lost in the 2013 primary to Nan Whaley and A.J. Wagner after pledging to spend no more than $10,000 on his campaign and challenging his opponents to do the same. They did not accept his challenge and instead spent hundreds of thousands of dollars defeating the incumbent mayor.

In 2014 Leitzell ran for County Commissioner as an Independent, which only brought him 9.83% of the vote. Dan Foley won with 45.89% of the vote while Mike Nolan pulled in 44.28%. It’s impossible to know for sure whether Leitzell helped incumbent Dan Foley win or if he almost cost Foley the race, but it seems to be the latter as incumbent Democrat Karl Keith handily won the auditor race while Foley won by about 1.5%. In 2016, Leitzell ran for County Commissioner as a Republican. This allowed him to bypass Ohio’s absurd signature requirements that force independent candidates to collect many times more signatures than partisan ones, but it also forced him to run in a primary against the Republican party’s preferred candidate. He won the primary, but still lost the general election to Debbie Lieberman by less than 1% of the vote. In 2018 he again ran for County Commissioner as a Republican, this time losing in a three-way primary to Doug Barry.

Gary Leitzell’s initial mayoral victory over Rhine McLin was a surprise at the time but it would be difficult for him to pull off another upset. Although Leitzell is fiercely independent, having previously placed his name on a Republican ticket county-wide will surely hurt his chances in Dayton. As mayor, Leitzell was known to be a bit of an eccentric with some novel ideas. Unfortunately for him, he entered office right after the onset of the Great Recession. He pushed to make Dayton an immigrant-friendly city and started our recycling program.  Leitzell is a big fan of efficiency and cutting unnecessary spending, which made him the ideal man for the job during the Great Recession when money was particularly tight. Now that more people are working from home, cities could see a drastic reduction in income taxes, meaning that Leitzell’s penny-pinching might resonate with voters.

Jeffrey Mims

As a city commissioner, Jeffrey Mims has closely aligned himself with Mayor Nan Whaley and her preferred commissioners (Matt Joseph and Chris Shaw). This means he never ends up as the minority vote in commission votes as this cadre agrees upon a position before bringing anything up for a vote. Because Mims has largely functioned as a vote to support Whaley’s initiatives, it will be interesting to hear him craft his own agenda.

Mims was first elected as commissioner in 2013 when he ran alongside Joey Williams and they handily won against David Esrati and David Greer. In 2017, the pair won reelection, but Shenise Turner-Sloss and Darryl Fairchild proved to be tougher competition. Mims won with 26.56% of the vote—an illustration of why we are pushing for ranked-choice voting to ensure that representatives actually represent Daytonians.

Before running for commission, Mims held a position on the Ohio State Board of Education and before that he was the president of the Dayton City School Board. He was also a union leader, teacher, and served in the U.S. Air Force during Vietnam. All and all, if not for the abysmal state of the Dayton Public School system, Mims would have an extremely strong resume. However, since nobody has been able to improve Dayton’s schools, voters may overlook that issue and just give Mims an ‘A’ for effort.

Rennes Bowers

Rennes Bowers is the least well-known candidate in the running but he has three things going for him: 1) He’s a former fire chief and everyone loves firefighters 2) He served as the fire department’s chaplain, which means he should be able to convey empathy and a strong moral foundation 3) He has an incredible mustache. Bowers does not have any political experience but in recent years that has become something candidates boast about.

Our research has not turned up much on Bowers except the information stated above, but even if he manages to edge out Leitzell in the primary, he seems extremely unlikely to win because he openly describes himself as a conservative and he lays on the Jesus talk a bit thick. Darryl Fairchild demonstrated that Dayton voters are not adverse to men of the cloth in political positions, but every public statement we have seen from Bowers contains more religious rhetoric than political rhetoric. In liberal Dayton, that doesn’t sound like a winning strategy. As of now, it’s not clear what his plan is other than to be a conservative Christian.

None of this is to say that it’s completely impossible for him to win. No one saw Leitzell’s victory coming in 2009. Since such a small percentage of voters decide who actually wins these local elections, Bowers could sway things in his favor by firing up the white, religious conservatives in east Dayton. It would take a well-coordinated effort, but Bowers certainly has a greater emotional appeal than his opponents, even if it is limited to a small niche of the electorate. Plus, we can’t underestimate the power of that mustache.

City Commissioner

Since Mims is running for mayor, Darryl Fairchild will be the only incumbent running. This race has a fairly crowded field, and because of Dayton’s “jungle primary” system, anyone could emerge victorious with only a small minority of the vote. Once again, this is a reminder of why ranked-choice voting is so vital to ensure that our leaders actually represent the interests of the electorate.

Darryl Fairchild

Darryl Fairchild has yet to complete a full term as commissioner because he was elected in a 2018 special election to replace Joey Williams when the FBI caught Williams accepting a bribe. Before his special election victory, Fairchild ran for commission in 2015 and 2017. In 2015, he came within 1% of winning a seat. In 2017, he came within 3%.

During his brief tenure, Fairchild has made a name for himself by being the only dissenting vote on a few occasions and clashing with Mayor Nan Whaley, who has accused him of using his position to grandstand. Beyond opposing some of the mayor’s initiatives and then answering press questions about it, Fairchild has not appeared to seek the limelight. This makes Whaley, the consummate attention-seeker, appear to throw stones in a glass house.

However, for the most part Fairchild has voted with the majority and his dissents were not over major issues: He wants more derelict buildings demolished, he doesn’t feel that the Human Relations Council receives enough funding, etc. Perhaps Whaley’s criticism was so pointed because she had grown accustomed to never experiencing dissent in the commission since she became mayor (or perhaps it’s because, looking at Fairchild’s campaign finance forms, he’s the only commissioner who isn’t involved in slushing campaign funds around to other Dems). Her criticism of Fairchild would suggest that they were political foes, but perhaps what most distinguishes him from the mayor and other commissioners is that he was not selected by the local party. Even if, for the most part, he agrees with the status quo, he speaks up when he disagrees and that’s considered verboten.

Despite Fairchild’s general accommodation of the majority, Mims is coming after him, having recruited two candidates and pushing the local Democratic party to endorse them.

Shenise Turner-Sloss

Shenise Turner-Sloss is hoping that the third time’s the charm, as she lost commission races in 2017 and 2019. Like Fairchild’s losing races, Turner-Sloss performed fairly well in those contests, so the opening of Mims’ seat may provide the window she needs to win. Turner-Sloss has been actively engaged in politics for quite some time, starting in college as a political science major, studying public administration in graduate school, and then working for the City of Dayton for seven years. She also spends her free time as an activist, leading a local nonprofit called Neighborhoods Over Politics.

Turner-Sloss has committed much of her life studying politics and government administration. Her work with the city also provides her with a clear understanding of what she intends on getting into. Currently she works as a logistics manager at Wright Patterson Air Force Base, so she also has experience that extends beyond local bureaucracy.

In previous years, the local Democratic party had established favorites they endorsed over Turner-Sloss, and the party endorsement provided a challenge her campaigns couldn’t overcome. Once again the party has ignored Turner-Sloss, but Fairchild has at least demonstrated that it’s possible to win without their support.

Valerie Duncan

Valerie Duncan has made a career out of public service and is now seeking to pivot into an elected position. She first ran for a commission seat in 2019 but she did not make it out of the primary. Before that, she spent 31 years working in government for the city, county, and state.

Duncan certainly has the most experience in government of all the candidates. She also mentions on her website that she wants to promote regional cooperation, which is of particular interest to Reconstructing Dayton. We’ll be sure to ask her to elaborate this position if she agrees to an interview.

Duncan will need to work on establishing some name recognition if she wishes to move beyond the primary. She is a member of several local organizations, including her local neighborhood association and The League of Women’s Voters, so perhaps she can leverage this participation into a coordinated campaign.

Jared Grandy

Jared Grandy may be a political newcomer, but his website provides quite a few details about his positions. This is a welcome change from most candidates who provide general statements and avoid commenting on specific policy issues.

Grandy previously worked for the Dayton Human Relations Council, a bureaucratic arm the city uses for minority outreach and to process civil rights complaints. As a “Community-Police Relations Coordinator,” it sounds like Grandy’s job was to process complaints against the Dayton Police Department. He left the HRC as a protest over their ineffectiveness in June of 2020 and currently works as a “consultant and writer.”

Grandy has a criminal justice degree from the University of Cincinnati and went to law school at Northern Kentucky University. It does not appear that he ever worked in law enforcement or as a lawyer, but his role at the HRC sounds relevant to both of his degrees. Grandy appears to be a savvy communicator, but with the crowded field running for commissioner, he doesn’t have much time to garner support before the primary. Like Bowers, Grandy appears to be leveraging his faith community to support his campaign, but he doesn’t overplay it. If he moves beyond the primary he could make for a strong candidate.

Scott Sliver

Jeffrey Mims recruited Scott Sliver to run and it’s pretty clear why: He’s a pastor to take on Fairchild. That was the local party’s strategy last time when they ran Daryl Ward against Fairchild. Sliver works as an Associate Pastor for Vineyard Church in Beavercreek. It’s one of those churches that’s so large it has a full-time “associate pastor.” In the early 90s Sliver briefly ran an advertising agency but since then his resume just shows Vineyard and various community service activities relevant to clergy.

Sliver does not appear to have any specific policy goals, which makes sense since he’s being brought in to be a yes-man for Jeffrey Mims. His website mostly boasts about accomplishments from decades ago while conveniently leaving out that they occurred decades ago.

As of now, there’s not much to be said about Sliver except that if you like Jeff Mims, he’s your guy. Although it may seem redundant at this point, Sliver is another example of why we’re supporting ranked-choice voting to select Dayton City Commissioners. In our current system, the mayor and two commissioners team up to run as a team with the support of the local Democratic party. They all defer to the mayor and we essentially pay these commissioners to do nothing but vote “yes.” On rare occasions a wild-card like Fairchild or Leitzell sneaks in, but their influence is limited. Our ranked-choice initiative would ensure that minority-view voices make it to the commission and hold these politicians accountable.

Jordan Wortham

Jordan Wortham gained some notoriety after being fired from the Dayton Police Department and subsequently filing lawsuits alleging discrimination. Now he’s trying to take it directly to the city by running for commissioner. If there’s one candidate the established politicians do not want to win, it’s this guy.

The case the Dayton Police Department made when firing Wortham is bizarre, to say the least. They say he lied about an incident when police were called to his house. You can read the details here but it all sounds pretty silly. Wortham claims his firing is retaliation for speaking out against racism within the Dayton Police Department.

Unsurprisingly, police reform is a top issue for Wortham. He also cites lowering taxes and eliminating red-tape. If he’s serious about those issues beyond lip-service, he may find an ally in Leitzell.

Wortham is making things uncomfortable for the Dayton Police Department and the commission so expect them to ignore him and hope he loses in the primary. If he gains a spot on the November ballot, he may attract the sort of media attention the city is trying to avoid.

Stacey Benson-Taylor

If Scott Sliver is Mims’ yes-man, Stacey Benson-Taylor is his yes-woman. The three gathered signatures together, turned the petitions in together, and campaign together. Once again, it must be reiterated that this is why we want to replace our current system with ranked-choice voting.

Benson-Taylor works for the local chapter of the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (ADFSCME). On the side she runs Shine Like a Diamond Consulting, LLC, a business that could benefit from consulting with a brand management firm. Benson-Taylor has a paralegal degree from Sinclair, a B.A. in political science from Wright State, and a law degree from UD.

As of now, Benson-Taylor has not proposed any new ideas. Her website promotes vague policies such as “respect” and “integrity.” Benson-Taylor’s campaign slogan is “A Bridge to the Future,” but it’s not really clear what type of future she envisions. Like other poly-sci majors who study law or public administration in grad school, it’s clear that she has long had political ambitions. Allying with Mims is a surefire strategy for the short-term, by it’s hard not to be cynical of such a calculated trajectory without hearing any substantive policies from her campaign. She’s been a top muckety-muck in the Montgomery County Democratic Party, assuming Tom Ritchie Sr.’s position.

Clerk of Courts

For the Dayton City Clerk of Courts, you don’t have a choice. Not in the primary, not in the general election. Longtime Clerk of Courts and Boss Tweed wannabe Mark Owens has finally hung up his hat. After his predecessor retired early in 1991, Owns took over the job and has clung to it ever since. Owens faced a challenger in 1991 and ever since he has run unopposed. He took over the local Democratic party, replacing Dennis Lieberman, by betting on Whaley when Lieberman backed A.J. Wagner.

Owens is the type of hard-ball politician who will coordinate the local party to oust someone for endorsing the wrong Democrat and then only allow them to stay if they make a public loyalty pledge. He may be retiring as the Dayton Clerk of Courts, but unfortunately that will just provide him more time to meddle with local politics and ensure that the local party only works for those loyal to him.

Another reason to bring up the Dayton City Clerk of Courts is because the position is redundant and should not exist in the first place. It could easily be combined with the Montgomery County Clerk of Courts and it would make life easier for everyone.

Martin Gehres

Gehres is a young city attorney who Nan Whaley apparently approves of enough to allow him to share the spotlight in a ProPublica article with her. He is following in Dan Foley’s footsteps as son of a judge. We don’t know anything else about him and it’s unlikely we will because, without an election, he has no reason to take a public stand. We’ll send him our survey anyway.

Dayton City Charter Proposals: the Good, the Bad, & the Ugly

The City of Dayton has proposed several key amendments to the city charter that will appear on the ballot in May. Most of these changes are ones that are easy to support, but a couple should be looked at with greater scrutiny. The biggest problem with these amendments is that they will appear on the ballot in May. There are only special elections in May if there are enough candidates for city offices to warrant a primary and very low turnout. We oppose this special election/primary because it is undemocratic and only about 10% of the electorate participates. That would be a poor way to determine which amendments to the city charter should be approved. We have proposed eliminating the special election/primary and replacing it with a ranked-choice voting system, but doing that would require a charter amendment that won’t be fast-tracked like these proposed amendments. We have to do things the old fashioned way: collect a bunch of signatures. The amendments that will appear on the ballot this year were all suggested by a charter review committee specifically set up by the city to review the charter and suggest changes.

New Hiring Practice for Police & Firefighters: Good

Dayton currently has a strange policy called “rule of one,” where police and firefighters are hired purely based on their exam scores. As anyone who has been responsible for hiring can tell you, this is not an ideal method for determining whom to employ. This is especially true for police and firefighters because these professions require skills that are not easily tested through traditional exams. If the top test taker is also trigger happy and unnecessarily escalates situations to violent outcomes, they are probably not well suited to be a police officer.

The primary concern with the “rule of one” is that it led to a disproportionately white police force. While we believe that this is a valid concern, the policy wouldn’t make sense even if this were not the case. An ideal candidate for any job is more than their GPA, test scores, or credentials. The interview process allows an employer to dig deeper and really get to know a potential employee and identify skills or weaknesses that may not appear on a resume.

The goal of “rule of one” is actually a noble one. The requirement was clearly implemented as a way to prevent discrimination, but in practice the rule does not fulfill its intent. It may in fact just make discrimination worse.

We wholly endorse this charter change and we encourage voters to go to the polls to ensure that it becomes codified into law. However, we believe there is another elephant in the room that this doesn’t address, which is Dayton’s refusal to laterally hire without the demeaning process of going back through their academy. Unless Dayton opens their academies to train any police or firefighter in the region and make money, we believe it’s time to evaluate the value of these operations.

Changes to Commissioner and Mayor Compensation: Bad

Originally the charter review commission considered suggesting that the mayor become a full-time position, but this failed to gain the support of a majority of the commission despite public support from review commission member Mohamed Al-Hamdani and outgoing mayor Nan Whaley. In its place the commission came up with an amendment that would change the way that the mayor and commissioners are paid. Instead of having a compensation committee selected by the commissioners to determine their salaries, this new amendment would just tie their salaries to the county commissioner salaries. The mayor’s salary will be 75% of a county commissioner’s salary while a city commissioner’s salary will be 50%. This would result in a significant raise for the mayor and a modest one for the commissioners.

In reality, commissioners, by law, are supposed to serve as a board of directors and only have to attend one meeting a week. The true power is supposed to be in the hands of the city manager (the city’s CEO) and they are supposed to be the highly paid leader. It’s the city manager, not the mayor who should hold the spotlight.

If you have been following Reconstructing Dayton, you may be aware that we have publicly advocated for increased salaries for public officials. But we also believe that more money should come with strings attached. Dayton’s population has steadily declined for the past sixty years so the city commission has been increasingly responsible for a smaller and smaller city. We believe that their compensation should be directly tied to population to 1) reflect the amount of responsibility of the commissioners and 2) motivate them to increase the size of the city by any means possible.

Here’s a better formula: A Dayton city commissioner should earn a salary equal to the amount a county commissioner makes per citizen. For example, in 2018 the county commissioners made $96,000 for a population of 531,687. Considering Dayton’s population of 140,407, that makes for a salary of $25,351. If we stopped treating the suburbs as separate cities and merged the various cities that compose the Dayton metropolitan area, the commissioners would make a decent salary. Tying regionalism to city commission salaries would be an ideal way to motivate our city commission to work to unify and strengthen Dayton.

The other option is to tie their salary to the average income of their citizens. There is no reason a part time job should pay more, or have better benefits than the average Daytonian working a full time job. Think about it.

Vote no on this.

Remove Political Restrictions for City Employees: Good & Bad

This amendment would allow city employees to engage in political activity except when that activity involves campaigns for City of Dayton politicians. When Mohamed Al-Hamdani went to the press to publicly promote this idea, we wrote an extended piece examining the implications. We’re glad that the exceptions are included in this amendment but we believe that there needs to be more. City and county politics are often intertwined and that leaves the door open to undue pressure. We also believe that there needs to be an exception for when a city employee runs for a higher office. For example, when Nan Whaley ran for governor it would not have been appropriate for city employees to work on her campaign. It sounds like this amendment will not bar that type of activity, so voters should reject it. Removing political restrictions for municipal employees can be a good thing if it’s limited to national and state elections where their bosses have no vested interest in the outcome. We’ll have to look at the final language of the amendment, but it sounds like this one allows for some dangerous loopholes.

We’re also a big believer that when you work in government, you stop being a D or R, you now work for everyone. We believe that while you can participate in activities such as political party organizing and education, you should be banned from holding partisan precinct captain positions. These positions vote on endorsements and filling partisan office vacancies like the County offices, as well as hiring of the BOE personnel.

Privatization of Water & Infrastructure: Ugly
Good

This amendment will remove the following language from the charter: “Such resources and infrastructure, within the city of Dayton municipal boundaries shall not be sold, leased or transferred into private ownership.” This is a sneaky amendment because it will probably play into voters’ concerns about recent boil advisories in the city caused by some water main leaks. This amendment has the distinct smell of a backroom deal. Someone will profit handsomely if it passes, and they probably are the people who will OK the deal.

We don’t believe in privatization of public schools, public infrastructure, or small jurisdictions owning regional assets (like airports or convention centers that were paid for with public money). We also don’t believe in taxpayers funding private sports teams facilities, but, that’s not on the ballot—or is it? Could this really just be a ploy to giveaway the Dragon’s Ballpark?

Your author misread the information pertaining to this amendment. The amendment proposes to add this language to the charter, not remove it. The amendment will therefore prevent the city from being able to privatize utilities, which is a good thing.

Summary

Vote YES for new hiring practices for firefighters and police, vote YES for keeping utilities public.

Vote NO on everything else.

Sunshine Week: Bringing Awareness to Public Records

The Dayton Daily News has an article highlighting Sunshine Week, a week to bring awareness to public records laws and open government, and we thought it was important to comment on this issue. Much of what we do would not be possible without Ohio’s public records laws, but at the same time it’s important to acknowledge that we invest a lot of unnecessary time forcing public officials to comply with those laws. Ohio’s sunshine laws are designed to give journalists just enough access to avoid making a stink about it while keeping the public at large in the dark. Ohio––both at the state and local levels—intentionally avoids fulfilling the promise of an open government.

Open Government

Open government just means that the government may only keep secrets in very limited cases, such as for national security or to maintain the privacy of individuals who interact with the government. The idea is simple: Democracy can only function if voters know what the government does. At the national level, the conflict between national security and openness has created a horrible mess, but this does not exist at the state or local level. In theory, state and local governments should be, except in very limited cases, completely open.

This does not happen. As the Dayton Daily article points out, even when the state laws require openness, governments often just refuse to comply or they drag their feet. If you take the Ohio Sunshine Law training provided by the state, you will quickly realize why: the training is specifically designed to teach government employees how to avoid compliance and to make things difficult for the requestor. There are also very few penalties for noncompliance. If a government official refuses to comply with a public record request, their office can be charged $100 per day they refuse to comply. That penalty might work if it were not capped at ten days, meaning the most they can be fined is $1,000. In order to get that fine levied, you’ll have to hire a lawyer, take the government office to court, and win. The process will cost you more than it costs the government.

Even when governments are fully compliant with public records requests, it does not mean that they are open. Ohio’s public records laws require you to ask for specific records. If you do not know what records to ask for, you’re probably out of luck. Officials are recommended to work with requestors to help them ask for the specific records they require, but they are not bound by any law or disciplinary process to actually do this. The biggest impediment to an open government is the necessity of going through a government official in the first place.

In a world with the internet and the ability to digitally store records, it would make sense for government records to all be available to the public through well-organized, searchable websites. Instead, government websites often just provide the information the government wants us to have. When to pay taxes. Where to appear in court. How to comply with a certain ordinance. Modern computing and networking provides the necessary tools to realize the dream of an open government but it must become an important issue for constituents before governments will make the necessary investments.

Local Snapshots

The Montgomery County website provides a lot of information but it’s not particularly well organized. Because our county is structured like it’s still the Gilded Age and our local offices are split up in silly ways, the amount of information on the county’s website varies from office to office and there is no standard for organization. The Auditor’s page is loaded with information. Sadly and ironically, the Recorder’s page contains few records. The Commission does provide all agendas, minutes, and resolutions online but uses a third-party software service that can make this process more difficult than it needs to be. Obtaining public records from some county offices can be challenging. Their way of streamlining this process is to direct you to a lawyer who works for the prosecutor’s office and he’ll redirect your request. The best way is to track down an official in the office you need information from.

Huber Heights and the City of Dayton both have forms to request public records on their websites. Huber has pretty nifty document page which makes finding information pretty easy. Dayton spends money on a service called “opengov.com,” which appears to just create an interactive version of the city’s financial reports.

Jefferson Township doesn’t have the worst website, but the township officials do not understand the Ohio Sunshine laws. They tell citizens not to contact officials other than the fiscal officer to fulfill public records requests despite the fact that Ohio law clearly states that all government employees must comply with public records requests. They also insist that requestors fill out a form to receive public records, which is also in violation of Ohio public records laws.

The common trend is that localities with more money tend to do a better job of providing information and making public records requests easy, but there is no standard for openness.

Standardization

Perhaps the greatest barrier to open local government is a lack of standardization. If a proprietary service, such as opengov.com or OnBase were to go under, what would happen to the records they keep? We encountered a similar problem when requesting tax information from a local village. All of their tax records for particular years were held by a now-defunct company and they had no way of obtaining them. We need standard open-source solutions to ensure public records are maintained by government entities and that each locality does not need to reinvent the wheel to provide these records to the public.

We also need standard layouts to make navigating a government website easy. Furthermore, it should become standard for all public records to be available to the public without filing a request. Yes, that means we should be able to sift through the e-mails of public employees.

Solutions

Ohio will not become a truly open government until the Sunshine laws are reformed to account for the 21st century. For this to happen at the state level, it would help for local governments to function as a model for openness. This would demonstrate the benefits and effectiveness of open government. Here are some specific steps we can take:

  1. Ensure the government owns all records. If a third-party cloud service is utilized, only do so if the records can be easily migrated to a different service. This means using open standards so the government does not become locked-in to a proprietary technology.
  2. Dayton should work with other municipalities—both in the county and elsewhere in Ohio—to develop a standard website template that relies on open technologies. Montgomery County should do the same thing with other Ohio counties.
  3. Ensure that not only are all records made public, but that they are easily navigated and searchable. This would include e-mails, contracts, meetings, and any other form of government correspondence.
  4. Ensure that not only do all localities have a form to make public records requests similar to Dayton and Huber Heights, but that this form can be easily found and requests are complied with promptly.
  5. Hold officials accountable for violating the sunshine laws. This means that stonewalling a public records request should be a fireable offense and there should be no 10 day limit on the fine for noncompliance.