From The Vaults

Two twenty-five year olds seek election In Kettering — They Want Citizens To Have More Say In Local Government

I had the pleasant experience this morning to meet Nuponu Gorneleh who is seeking election to  the office of Mayor of Kettering, and Griffin Derr, who is seeking election to the Kettering City Council. I am impressed with the enthusiasm and commitment of these two twenty-five year olds. I enjoyed their sense of humor.

Nuponu Gorneleh and Griffin Derr explaining their campaign to be elected to public office in Kettering

Nuponu Gorneleh and Griffin Derr explaining their campaign to be elected to public office in Kettering

Nuponu and Griffin have both lived in Kettering their whole lives and both graduated from Kettering High School. They say there is a tale of two Ketterings. In one there is the best of times and in the other, not so good. They want to help make a local government that serves the interests of both Ketterings and that cares for both Ketterings.


Nuponu and Griffin are in general agreement with each other.


Nuponu and Griffin think that too many Kettering citizens — including millennials like themselves — feel they have no voice in the decisions of the community. They feel left out. These young men say they are seeking public office in Kettering because they want to live in a Kettering where more citizens can have a direct say in local government, where more citizens have a direct say in how the local government spends money. One idea they are kicking around is the notion of a citizen forum. To gain more public support, I am urging them to write a specific plan — that as elected officials they would advance — that would work to give more citizens a direct say in local government.


It’s great to see young people who are making an effort to make a difference: Nuponu Gorneleh and Griffin Derr


I enjoyed talking with Nuponu and Griffin and I’m thinking of throwing the weight of a DaytonOS endorsement behind their candidacies. They would bring a new point of view in the discussion of the Kettering City Council. I think they would be a positive influence.



The Question Is Not What Heaven Will Be Like,  It’s What We Will Be Like In Heaven

“Heaven” by Randy Alcorn is a thought provoking book that challenges the reader to imagine what heaven means, what heaven is like. I’m just starting the book, but Alcorn’s emphasis, so far, is on describing heaven as a specific physical place. That makes me feel uneasy. The key question, I believe, is not what heaven will be like, but what we will be like in heaven.

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Heaven is all about joy. When we experience joy in this present life — heaven on earth — we experience something beyond our selves. Heaven is when we not only feel compassion, but when for a moment we are compassion, when we not only feel love, we are love. Heaven is the moment when the mind that was in Christ Jesus is also our mind, when the heart of Christ is also our heart. In heaven, we will be the beings we were created to be, our true selves, sons and daughters of God.

Grieving over the tragic death of his four year old son, Eric Clapton composed his beautiful song “Tears in Heaven.” He wrote: “Beyond the door there’s peace I’m sure, And I know there’ll be no more tears in heaven.”

And he asked a good question:

Would you know my name

If I saw you in heaven?

Would it be the same

If I saw you in heaven?

If we transcend our tiny egos to become as Christ — if we are love, if we are compassion — will we be recognizable in heaven? The question to ponder, I think, is not what heaven will be like, but what is our highest selves?  What we will be like in heaven?



Advice To A Democrat Seeking To Defeat Incumbent Congressman Mike Turner In OH-10

After the retirement of Tony Hall from congress, in the last seven congressional elections the Democratic candidate seeking election in OH-10 has fallen well short of the votes needed to win. A Democratic candidate can find the needed additional votes only from these two groups:

  1. The group of those who habitually vote for Mike Turner, and,
  2. The group of those who habitually fail to vote at all.

The outrage at Trump will generate some anti-Republican votes from both groups but, given the power of incumbency and the popularity of Turner, Trump outrage by itself is unlikely to produce enough votes for a Democrat to win OH-10 — not in a contest defined as a TV ad war where Turner, if needed, will have millions of dollars to spend.

I’m writing this to urge you to take advantage of a wonderful opportunity that has the potential to:

  • Get lots of free media attention — attention that will gain you support from both of the two groups you must motivate.
  • Empower you to demonstrate leadership skills and character needed to make our system of representative democracy work as it should
  • Associate you with a big idea that captures people’s imagination, an idea that citizens, especially young people, can rally around.

People are sick of politics as it is today. Define yourself as a Dem that seeks to transform the Democratic Party. And show a plan of action to do just that. Demonstrating such leadership would make you attractive to members of both groups listed above.

  1. For Turner voters, a key fact is that nationally 43% of all voters identify as “independents.” This means that it is likely that at least 25% of habitual Turner voters like to think of themselves as independent or nonpartisan. These nonpartisan-leaning voters are looking for someone to stand up to the system and to change the system.
  2. For Dems who don’t vote, a key fact is that many are thoroughly discouraged with the Democratic Party. They are looking for someone to improve the Democratic Party.

Your opportunity is to raise up a 21st century vision of the Democratic Party that is attractive to both groups. Your chance to demonstrate leadership is to apply that vision to the local party organization — the Montgomery County Democratic Party.

  • Rewrite the MCDP Constitution so that it corresponds to that vision.
  • Engage Democrats to discuss and debate that vision.
  • Elect a MCDP Central Committee that will implement that vision.

A contest to transform the local party would generate media attention because such a contest is timely. Every four years a new MCDP Central Committee is elected, new officers are chosen and a new MCDP Constitution approved. This quadrennial event happens this coming May at the 2018 Democratic Primary, and the subsequent Central Committee Reorganization Meeting. Each of the county’s 360 precincts can elect a member of the Central Committee. In 2014, only about 100 precincts fielded even one candidate. Your time is short, because petitions to get on the ballot for the Democratic Primary is February 7, 2018.

If you can lead Democrats to transform the local party organization — by infusing it with a new generation of active members, new ideas, a new Constitution — if you can develop a 21st century party organization that is member directed and community oriented, you will not only win the primary contest to be the Democratic Party OH-10 candidate, you will establish yourself as a leader that can inspire and accomplish actions that help heal our sick system. This is the leader that a lot of voters are looking for. Such a leader will appeal to some Turner voters and to some nonvoting Dems as well. I believe the potential is there to generate sufficient votes to win. It would be a great deal of effort — but then, voters are looking for someone who is willing to make the effort.

Turner has failed to show leadership that brings people together or that creates social harmony. This failure of leadership can be the predominate issue in the campaign — if you position yourself to make it so. Turner is the incumbent, but he is not a leader. Voters are worried about the sick state of our representative democracy. They want someone to demonstrate the visionary leadership and personal character needed to make a difference. The coming reorganization of the MCDP presents you with a wonderful opportunity to demonstrate in real terms that you are the leader that voters are looking for.


Progressives Should Work To Build A Grassroots Democratic Party Movement

To vitalize representative democracy, progressives need to be working to bring two movements to reality: 1) a grassroots Democratic Party movement 2) a grassroots democracy movement. A grassroots Democratic Party movement would engage and empower grassroots Democrats to be positively engaged in the Party. A  grassroots democracy movement would engage and empower everyone of every political point of view in the grassroots to be positively engaged in our democracy. Both movements are of crucial importance, but of the two the grassroots Democratic Party movement is the one that right now seems more in reach.

According to the current Montgomery County Democratic Party constitution, at most, the Central Committee can have 360 members. But, why only 360 members?  Why not have a constitution that enlarges the Central Committee to allow every one of Montgomery County’s 36,000 registered Democrats who so chooses to have participation and voting rights?

MCDP actions that were appropriate for the horse and buggy age — greatly restricting the number of voting members and requiring members to be physically present to participate in meetings — needlessly encumber a 21st century MCDP organization. In the horse and buggy age, an MCDP organized as a direct democracy would have been impossible, but in the 21st century, everyone has a smart phone. Making a deliberative democracy work for groups of hundreds or even thousands of individuals is very doable.

A grassroots Democratic Party movement would be built on a new vision of the Democratic party.  The start of such a movement is when Democrats begin to brainstorm answers to these questions: What would a 21st century “party of the people” look like? How would such a party be organized? What would be its actions? What would its constitution contain?

The opportunity to engage in the local Democratic party organization is open to all Democrats — guaranteed by state law that empowers every Democrat in the county the opportunity to stand for election to the party’s governing Central Committee. Democrats in each precinct elect one person living in the precinct to represent them on the Committee. This opportunity comes every four years and the next opportunity to be elected to the Central Committee is 2018 — petitions are due on February 7, 2018.



To Transform the Local Democratic Party, Democrats Should Focus On Preparing For 2018 Reorganization Meeting

Blue Ohio is a Dayton group that started in response to the horrendous 2016 election results.  Today, I sent the group an email urging that they focus their efforts on a big opportunity to transform the Democratic Party — The Montgomery County Democratic Party’s Reorganization Meeting scheduled for June, 2018. 

I’ve read notes of your meetings and these three statements stand out:

  • The purpose of “Blue Ohio” is to create a sustainable progressive Democratic electoral majority in Ohio.
  • motivate a strong majority of Ohioans to vote for Democratic candidates in local state and national elections
  • How: Through education and emotional engagement around progressive values, transform the Democratic Party into a vehicle that recruits competent, honest, progressive candidates, staff, and neighborhood leadership.

After my retirement from teaching high school math, I determined to get involved in the Montgomery County Democratic Party and was elected to the Central Committee in 2006.  In 2007 I started posting on a web-site — — initiated by David Esrati and two others and eventually when Esrati gave up the web-site, I became its owner. It is now a ten year record of my posts. I love the idea that your group wants to “transform the Democratic party.”  Transformation is essential. The purpose of this note is to give light on some background information and analysis that I hope will be helpful in achieving that goal.

The point I want to emphasize is this:  Your immediate opportunity to transform the MCDP is through the next Reorganization Meeting that will be held in May or early June of 2018. Each of the 360 precincts can elect a delegate to that meeting as a voting member of the Central Committee. At that meeting a MCDP constitution effective for the next four years is established by a simple majority vote and officers are elected by a majority vote.

Our best chance to transform the MCDP is through democratic means. In 2014 only 37% of Montgomery County’s 360 precinct had at least one candidate to represent that precinct at the Reorganization Meeting. Check out the map I made in 2014 showing the number of Democrats in each precinct in Montgomery County and showing which precincts were represented at the 2014 Reorganization Meeting. The MCDP is failing to franchise Montgomery County Democrats to have a vote in the local party organization.

Your group and Democrats who agree with your group should make it their goal to envision what a transformed MCDP that is ready for the 21st century would look like — what its constitution should look like. Make this vision of a dynamic local organization be what rallies Democrats to get involved and inspires Democrats to commit to working productively together. One big change to the constitution that I would like to see, for example, is the provision for online participation in MCDP meetings. What can the party do to meaningfully engage young people? What can it do to advance civics education for everyone?

If Blue Ohio agrees to use the opportunity of the MCDP Reorganization Meeting as a means of “transforming the Democratic party,” I hope the group will consider these questions a focus of its brainstorming:

  1. What is our vision of a transformed MCDP?  What is a MCDP Constitution that will support and accelerate bringing that vision to reality?
  2. How do we get the word out? What is our plan for using our vision of a transformed MCDP / New Constitution to inspire Democrats to register by the Reorganization Meeting deadline — 4 p.m. on February 7, 2018 ?

To advance your goal to “motivate a strong majority of Ohioans to vote for Democratic candidates in local state and national elections,” the Democratic Party must demonstrate that it is a party organized for the 21st century that is engaging and inviting and — democratic. The “political boss” structure that historically has been the hallmark of the MCDP is a turn-off to the general public and is self-defeating. To engage and empower progressive candidates, the party must change its organizational structure and its practices.


Here are some excerpts that gives some background. 

Note To David Pepper: Go For the Big Win — Invite All Ohio Democrats To Become Voting Members Of The ODP February 11th, 2015

The ODP is a political institution consisting of only 148 voting members. This small group stands apart from the Democratic base. In the 2014 May Democratic Primary, there were 1,307,000 Democrats who voted. These active Democrats are the ODP “Infrastructure” and success for the party depends a lot on whether this group is “energized.” Very few of these Democrats feel they have any voice within the Democratic Party. To energize this base we need to expand opportunity.  We need to reimagine the Ohio Democratic Party as an extended Roberts Rules online community of Democrats who commit to working together, to listening and communicating with each other, and to making positive impacts in their local communities. Even a participation of only 10% of those voting in the last Democratic Primary would bring 130,000 Democrats into community, but even a start of only 10,000 would be very energizing.

Maps Show — Precincts With Lots Of Dems Will Have No Representation At The MCDP Reorganization Meeting April 10th, 2014

Of the total 360 precincts in the county, only 132 precincts (37%) — shown in yellow — are participating in the May 4 Democratic Primary to elect a member of the MCDP Central Committee. The first task of these elected members will be to act as a voting delegate to the reorganization meeting where the leaders and the direction of the party for the next four years will be determined.

The map shows that many of the 228 precincts without a candidate — shown in shades of blue — have a lot of Democrats. One question the party needs to address is why the suburbs, where many of Democrats live, there has been little effort or success in meaningfully organizing the local party.  If you click on the map it will enlarge to reveal the name of each precinct.

Imagining A Transformed Montgomery County Democratic Party — It’s A Systems’ Problem February 18th, 2014

The purpose that should animate the MCDP must be one that transcends simply winning elections. The purpose of MCDP that will inspire and motivate the action that is needed must be one that is more than simply acting as an advocacy group focused on marketing certain issues. We need to focus on something more fundamental. I believe we can find a source of motivation and civic action by focusing on democracy itself. The MCDP should see its transcending mission as promoting and empowering democracy. If we could actually fulfill such a mission — by educating the public, by facilitating opportunities for political participation, by creating community — then, of course, Democrats would win elections in droves.

The Key Question For The MCDP — How To Motivate More Democrats To Make The Needed Effort March 27th, 2014

Political party organizations, such as the MCDP, still cling to a top-down system, and, though the group is much diminished compared to a previous age, many of the most active members of the party still hold patronage jobs.  But, it is obvious, to be successful the MCDP needs to greatly expand the membership of its active community. It needs to engage more volunteers. There is a whole group of county Democrats who are waiting to be invited into meaningful action. The current MCDP system is failing to do so.

Volunteer organizations, such as political parties, must find ways to attract volunteers and to inspire, engage and empower volunteers. In Montgomery County, there are about 35,000 Democrats who vote in every Democratic Primary, but only a tiny number of these Democrats are active within the party. If only 10% of these Democrats could become productively involved in their local party, the results would be transformative.

The MCDP Is Disenfranchising County Democrats Of Their Right To Vote For New MCDP Leadership  January 18th, 2014

The insiders always stay in power because news of this important meeting is always kept a big secret from any county Democrat who is not a party insider. This deliberate disenfranchisement of county Democrats of their right to meaningfully participate in their party is reason enough to conclude that MCDP needs major change. There are plenty of other reasons.

There is a whole group of county Democrats who are waiting to be invited into meaningful action. The current MCDP system is failing to do so. Volunteer organizations, such as political parties, must find ways to attract volunteers and to inspire, engage and empower volunteers. In Montgomery County, there are about 35,000 Democrats who vote in every Democratic Primary, but only a tiny number of these Democrats are active within the party. If only 10% of these Democrats could become productively involved in their local party, the results would be transformative.

At MCDP Reorganization Meeting I Will Propose A Change In By-Laws To Prohibit Primary Endorsements June 2nd, 2010

The point of the endorsement process, as traditionally practiced by the MCDP, I discovered, is to suppress primary participation.

I was enlightened about what MCDP is all about during the short debate that occurred in response to my motion.  One insistent person demanded that the discussion be stopped and the question called.  I thought there was a lot more to discuss about the whole matter of MCDP endorsement policies and didn’t appreciate the steam roller parliamentary action to suppress discussion.  The chairperson of the MCDP, Mark Owens, is an elected official, the Clerk of Courts.  My AHA moment occurred only later, when I learned that the insistent person demanding discussion be stopped is an employee in Mark Owens’ office. As I looked around at the group in attendance, I realized that,  at its core, the MCDP is a small clique of elected officials and Democrats with patronage jobs. It is the self interest of this group that drives MCDP actions and policies, and this small group is very unrepresentative of Montgomery County Democrats, in general.

Reorganization Meeting For Montgomery County Democrats Unlikely To Bring Any Improvement May 13th, 2010

I attended my first Reorganization Meeting four years ago, in 2006, when I first became active in the county organization. At that meeting, I was actually shocked by the attitude and actions of those in control of the meeting — I observed a stifling of debate and a rush to push through a pre-established outcome. It was my first taste of the antidemocratic attitude of the leadership of the local party.

For this Reorganization Meeting, I personally recruited about seven people to run as a delegate and three of those individuals won, but most Democrats in the county had no idea that this opportunity for participation in their local Democratic Party, via the Democratic Primary, even exists. And so 184 of the 360 precincts in the county had no candidate. The party suppressed information about this delegate opportunity and even the DDN seemed in collusion to suppress information about the opportunity — refusing to print a letter to the editor I wrote in January urging county Democrats to become involved.

How Gerrymandering Defeated An Outstanding Candidate And Sent a Weak Candidate To Columbus  March 5th, 2008

When ordinary Democrats see that the Montgomery County Democratic Party has endorsed a candidate, they need to consider the source. A Party endorsement is not the result of an objective democratic process involving the deliberation of many MCDP active members. Far from it. The “Party” really boils down to a small handful of insiders who know how to get their way.

The explanation of why these insiders chose Roland Winburn over Vic Harris has to do with the concept of playing by Party rules, the concept of waiting one’s turn. It has to do with insiders seeking to advance their own political careers. Endorsement does not come from a fair analysis of who would best serve the people. Those Winburn supporters who know both Vic and Roland will admit that this analysis is true. These supporters do not claim that Roland is better qualified, or that Roland would be a more effective representative. They are loyal to the MCDP and feel that the Party should have the power to advance whomever it thinks most appropriate — for any number of reasons.

So, one way to look at it, Vic Harris is a victim of gerrymandering. In a competitive general election race, there is simply no question that Vic would be a much stronger candidate than Roland. There is no question that if given the chance, Vic would be a much more effective and energetic representative of the people than Roland. But gerrymandering gives a Party a monopoly, and monopolies have little motivation to innovate or produce quality.

Because of gerrymandering, the Party has a monopoly in the 40th OHD. Because of gerrymandering, the Party knew it could play insider politics, and could advance a weak candidate without the fear of penalty.