Wednesday, May 8th, 2013

A.J. Wagner on the issues

Click to embiggen this screenshot
of A.J. Wagner’s issues page:

A year ago I wrote about hijacking A.J. Wagner’s first Twitter account after word leaked of his original out-of-state website for his then-unannounced mayor campaign. Yesterday Wagner achieved some moderate success in Dayton’s mayoral runoff, getting 26% of the very low turnout of 9,869 votes, a result that pales in comparison to Nan Whaley’s 50.31% of the vote but that outpaces that of the incumbent mayor, Gary Leitzell, who got only 23.69% and has thus lost his position as mayor. Wagner thus advances to the general election this November and will likely garner many of the votes that might otherwise have gone to Leitzell.

Last year I wondered about Wagner’s positions on gay rights, including issues such as the domestic partnership registery (since enacted but then under discussion by the Dayton City Commission) and marriage equality. Wagner wrote a column in the Dayton City Paper about what he termed a “marriage registry” (an inaccurate term), and he assured me in an email that he is “supportive of gay marriage.”

I wrote that I hoped when his new mayoral campaign website, designed by the Dayton-based firm Eight Deuce, came out that Wagner would clearly state his position on LGBT issues there.

“site:domain.com query” is a useful Google parameter that lets you search a specific website. A year later Wagner’s new site does not list any position on LGBT issues. Google “site:ajwagnerformayor.com marriage” or “site:ajwagnerformayor.com discrimination” or “site:ajwagnerformayor.com gay” and you won’t find a single result.

We queers needn’t feel slighted, however, because Wagner’s “Issues” page has absolutely no substantive content on it, as you can see from the screenshot to the right (click to see an embiggened version).

Why Wagner or his web developer would choose to put a link to his Issues page at the bottom of every page on his website and yet leave that Issues page devoid of content I do not know.

Another interesting item about Wagner’s Issues page is his or his web developer’s choice of name for the page. If you go to Wagner’s website and hover over the Issues link at the bottom of any of his pages, you’ll see the URL for that Issues page, which is http://www.ajwagnerformayor.com/donations-to-the-max/. Yep, you read that correctly—Donations to the Max.

Wagner is not a novice politician. He’s been elected to office before. Heck, he even made it past the first post on the way to the mayor’s office. So perhaps he doesn’t need to explain on his campaign website where he stands on any issues.

And I’m no politician. I’ve never run for any office and never will. While I might naively assume that a campaign website is a way for voters to learn about candidates, a campaign website is really, as you can see from the name “Donations to the Max,” about raising money for the campaign.

Experienced politicians seem to think a majority of folks are fine with that.

Tuesday, May 1st, 2012

A.J. Wagner, Twitter and gay rights in Dayton

Perhaps you read recently that former Montgomery County auditor/former Montgomery County Common Pleas judge A.J. Wagner is running for mayor of Dayton. Wagner has’t made a formal announcement and perhaps hasn’t even actually decided yet whether he’s running, but he did go so far as to have someone set up a website for his campaign. I read about it on Esrati.com.

One thing interesting about Wagner’s new mayoral campaign website stems from the recent furor over the City of Dayton’s having gone out of state to find a developer for a website for the city. The story about the city’s choosing a Colorado web developer was also on Esrati.com. The main point of Esrati’s post about Wagner’s website was Wagner’s status as a career politician and some history on how he resigned his judgeship, but Esrati did mention at the bottom of the post that Wagner, like the City of Dayton recently, went out of state to find a web developer.

Now City of Dayton officials are defending their decision to choose a Colorado firm, so perhaps Wagner too looked locally for a web developer but decided that to get what he needed he had to go with a DC firm—namely, Code and Politics, “a Washington, DC based firm specializing in online strategy and creative for candidates, organizations and causes that we believe in.”

The logo for Wagner's DC-based web development firm
Having your web developer’s branding/link on your site isn’t uncommon and might get you a discount—but—having a link to an out-of-state web developer might not be the best choice
for a Dayton politician
What did Wagner get by going out-of-state?

He didn’t get a developer who thought about hiding Wagner’s new website—ajwagnerformayor.com (which has since been pulled down, though Google’s cache will work for a while yet)—from prying eyes until the site was finished and until Wagner was ready for it to be seen. Perhaps the strategy was that by hiring someone outside of Dayton, no one in Dayton would know about the site. Oops.


ajwagnerformayor.com, as it looked Saturday morning, with a couple tips added (click to embiggen)
And Wagner didn’t get a developer who thought about registering the Twitter handle to which the new website prominently linked. Atop ajwagnerformayor.com was a prominent list of “Four Things To Do RIGHT NOW,” the fourth of which was to “FOLLOW Us On Twitter.” Unfortunately for Wagner and for his developer, when I visited his new site early Saturday morning after reading Esrati’s post, I clicked on the links and tried to follow him on Twitter to no avail—the Twitter handle @wagnerformayor did not exist! Major oops that leaves one open to mischief.

What kind of mischief, you might be asking? Well the kind of mischief that befell Dean Lovelace last year when he or his web developer (Dayton-based or out-of-state, I don’t know) let his domain name registration lapse. Someone—okay, it was me—registered Dean’s domain name and put up a website opposing his re-election to city commission (for all the good it did). When I saw that @wagnerformayor was up for grabs, perhaps I should have been kind and notified someone, but I was evil and registered it myself, although to be fair, I did use the name FakeAJ Wagner so people would know it really didn’t belong to the real A.J. Wagner. (As any political web developer should know, fake Twitter accounts are not uncommon.)

Why’d I do it? Not because I had any grudge against A.J. Wagner (as opposed to the grudge I had and still do have against Dean Lovelace). I can’t claim that I thought A.J. Wagner was anti-gay or that I had some noble cause in mind when I snagged that Twitter account. I was bored, and I thought it’d be funny to do it. And it was kind of funny.

But you know, things in my life have a way of turning out pretty gay, and this was no exception.

Esrati posted a list of questions for Wagner, and I, as FakeAJ Wagner, started answering some of them. One question was what Wagner thought of Mayor Leitzell (another person about whom I’ve posted here on my blog), and FakeAJ said, “About Mayor Leitzell’s stance on traditional marriage—gays marrying has never harmed my marriage to Joan.” That was just an off-hand quip (and a little dig at Leitzell), but I do think it’s true—Wagner and his wife have been married for a long time, and queers getting married hasn’t hurt their marriage.

 


Late to the game and curious about what FakeAJ Wagner said before @wagnerformayor was taken over by the real A.J. Wagner? Click on the image above or PDF screenshot of FakeAJ’s tweets
So people started reading FakeAJ’s tweets, and comments started heating up on Esrati.com about FakeAJ, and someone who it seemed might be Wagner’s DC developer posted an angry comment, and so I officially came out as FakeAJ (although jeez, it shouldn’t have been that hard to figure out). Finally, Wagner’s real DC developer made an appearance, denying that he had posted the earlier pseudonymous comment, acknowledging he’d made a mistake and saying he was just working hard to elect real progressives. Which raised the question—is A.J. Wagner a real progressive?

For me, admittedly a rather single issue person, a real progressive is someone who believes in equality for LGBT people. Dayton has some real progressives, including on its city commission, people who were willing to take what shouldn’t be a risky position these days, standing up for extending non-discrimination protections in the city based on sexual orientation and gender identity. (It shouldn’t be a risky position, but Dayton also has some real bigots—more on that in a moment.)

Wagner’s new mayoral campaign site, although it had been revealed to the public before it was done, was rather light on its issues page. No mention of LGBT issues. Contrast that to President Obama’s 2012 campaign site, which has a whole Pride section aimed at the LGBT community. Sure, the non-discrimination ordinance is a thing of the past, but I’d bet there are some who’d like to see it repealed; would Wagner oppose that? And yes, although Candidate Leitzell volunteered his position on traditional marriage, marriage is not a local issue, although plenty of mayors are indeed willing to come out for marriage equality; where would Wagner, who touts his Catholic faith, stand on that?

And a very current local LGBT issue is the domestic partner registry that Dayton’s city commission is considering. Would A.J. Wagner as mayor be for or against that? If ever he actually announced his candidacy I would want to know the answer.

So no, I didn’t snag @wagnerformayor thinking to punish A.J. Wagner or even thinking to make him come out on gay rights, but the more I thought about it, having that Twitter account might be a way to get him to say something about where he stands on my issues. And wouldn’t you know it, it worked.

Late last night A.J. Wagner emailed me to say he is “fully supportive” of the “the City Commission Gay Registry Ordinance” (if a little misinformed—it’s not a gay registry but a domestic partner registry that would be open to unmarried heterosexual couples too) and that moreover he is “also supportive of gay marriage.” Wow!

Wagner also told me that he had also written about the registry for his column in this week’s Dayton City Paper, which came out today. His column (which is not yet available in HTML format but which will appear on this page when it is and which is available on page 22 of the Flash version) talks about Dayton’s proposed “marriage registry” (again, a bit misinformed—it’s not a marriage registry) and explains Ohio’s constitutional amendment against marriage equality, the chances that it will be overturned by the courts and why, and the upcoming campaign to put repeal of that bigotted amendment up to a vote next year.

Wagner didn’t come out in so many words in his column and say he’s for the registry and for marriage equality, but the tone of the article is supportive, and I don’t think he’d have said what he said in his email to me if he didn’t mean it. When his mayoral campaign website (which, by the way, will no longer be done by that DC-based firm) does come out, I hope he states his position clearly on it.

But that’s good enough for me for now to turn over control of @wagnerformayor to Wagner. I’m going to post this blog entry and then put a final link on the Twitter account, and then I’ll change the password and give it to Wagner. I hope he has a good local developer who can help him with it.

And it’d be great if he showed up at tomorrow’s city commission hearing and spoke in favor of the domestic partnership registry. The bigotted pastors from the Dayton Baptist Pastors & Ministers Union plan on showing up to advocate that queers’ civil rights should be put to a public vote (see their semi-literate letter to the Dayton City Commission).

Years from now (and not too many years from now) our kids and grandkids are going to wonder what the big deal was about treating LGBT people fairly. It’s a battle we’re going to win. Straight people have two choices—drag their heels and fight on the wrong side of history, or become allies so that we no longer have to waste time on this issue and can move on to other things (like feeding the hungry, building stronger communities, etc., all the issues that queers too do care about and would fight harder for if we didn’t have to fight on this issue).

 
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