Uber logoToday is the last day of free Uber rides in Dayton. Tomorrow, the war will maybe begin. Maybe not.

For those of you who don’t know what Uber is- it’s a ride sharing/part-time taxi service enabled by the mobile Internet. To be a driver you sign up- they run a background check, check insurance and then you become a driver. For the user- you order a ride- and drivers claim your request. You can split the fare between you and a friend easily- Uber handles all the financial transactions, and takes a cut.

If the Uber car is travelling at a speed greater than 11 mph,  the price is calculated on a distance basis. Otherwise, the price is calculated on a time basis. At the end of a ride, the complete fare (which includes gratuity—Uber’s exact wording is “No Need to Tip” and no option to add a tip exists except to offer it by cash) is automatically billed to the customer’s credit card

via Uber (company) – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Riders and drivers are rated in true social media fashion, as sort of a self regulating system. Although the company promises drivers to make $18 an hour- there are questions concerning if this is truly an independent contractor situation or an employee/employer relationship- at least that’s one of the ways municipalities are attacking the company.

In almost every city Uber enters that has a standing taxi commission, or some sort of regulation, there has been a war. NY City has been going through this for years now- with the licensed cabbies raising hell about the amateur cab drivers. In a city where a “medallion” has gone for north of a million bucks (a medallion is a license to operate a cab in NYC)- the idea that anyone with a car and a smartphone can now be a cab is wreaking havoc on the status quo.

Unbeknownst to most, Dayton has a taxi commission, run by the Police Department. There are rules and regulations concerning the operating of cabs in Dayton- which only pertain to the pick up, not drop off of passengers in the city. There is zero regulation anywhere else in the county. A study by the generally right wing “Buckeye Institute for Public Policy Solutions” said:

A review of taxi regulations in Dayton found that the regulations increase the cost of starting a cab company by at least$67,000. Dayton requires 24-hour, seven day a week service from all cab companies. It also requires a 24-hour, seven day a week dispatching office. This effectively prohibits an independent owner-operator from starting a cab business.This may explain why there are 100 cabs licensed in Dayton, but only four taxi companies in operation

via Taxicab Regulation in Ohio’s Largest Cities – taxistudy1.pdf.

A few years ago I started seeing badly lettered mini-vans “Anton’s Transportation” and was wondering what was going on. Turns out that one way you can get around the regulations is to be a “Medical Transportation Company” which bids to transport patients to doctors appointments. I’ve also seen others- that say “not for hire” and “designated driver service” – which is an end run around the taxi rules- where renegade cabs can pick up in the city if they are taking donations ($15 minimum suggested).

Anyone who has tried to hail a real cab in this city- especially at 2 am in the Oregon District, knows they are in for a multi-hour wait. In short- cab service in Dayton is almost as big a joke as our parks and recreation department that can’t keep the basketball courts mowed.

Renegade cabbies risk being charged a $450 fine for being caught operating a taxi in the city. And note, the airport is considered city property- where only “approved cabs” can sit in a cab stand waiting for the odd ride. (our airport also has funky rules about where off airport parking vans can pickup and drop off passengers- even though they pay a hefty 10% levy on all their customers for the right to drive onto airport property).

There is no proof that regulating cab companies improves the marketplace, the safety, or the availability of cabs in Dayton- in fact, the existence of the taxi commission is just another one of the obsolete rules left over from when Dayton was the driving engine of the region. Now, it just makes doing business in Dayton more difficult.

Considering the constant talk of creating jobs- you would think that an on-demand cab service would be a worthy addition to our local economy, but, just wait until Dayton tries to flex it’s flabby muscles and tickets the first Uber driver and see what starts to happen.

Other than the wages it pays and the services it consumes- a racino isn’t anything other than a way for the state to steal poor people’s money. Compare the economic output of a racino- with the factory it replaced and you start to see where we are headed.

Tomorrow at 6:30 p.m. the Dayton Unit of the NAACP is having a forum on “economic development” at the Dayton Boys Academy, just West of the intersection of James H McGee and W. Third Street. Our mayor, Nan “the demolisher” Whaley is one of the speakers. Having her talk about “economic development” is akin to asking Hannibal Lecter to speak on the benefits of organ donation.

Other speakers include:

  • Catherine Crosby, executive director of the City of Dayton Human Relations Council
  • Richard L. Wright, executive director of Parity Inc.
  • John A. Lumpkin, vice president of Wealth Management, and financial advisor for Morgan Stanley
  • Silvia Anderson, manager of Workforce Services for OhioMeansJobs Montgomery County.

The moderator will be Chris Shaw, chair of the Dayton Unit NAACP Economic Development Committee

“The Dayton Unit NAACP is highly concerned about the lack of Employment Opportunities to include city, county and state highway construction jobs; small business development to include retail outlets, restaurants and service facilities; and the lack of franchise businesses which are so prevalent in other areas of the region, said Derrick L. Foward, president of the Dayton Unit NAACP. We look forward to hearing the great things these leaders are accomplishing from an Economic Development standpoint in Dayton proper, said Foward. “The Citizens of Dayton are counting on you in a BIG way to enhance their quality of life.

“The Economic Development Committee is concerned about jobs, business development and wealth building,” said Shaw. “While we know issues and opportunities exist, by bringing together community stakeholders, we will be able to update the residents of Dayton on collaborative efforts to further these goals. We look forward to community participation,” said Shaw.

via (4) Dayton Unit NAACP.

I’m wondering what “Great things these leaders are accomplishing” too- especially, since business and government keep getting confused. Not a single developer invited. Nothing against my friend Mr. Lumpkin, but, he’s a former banker and now a financial adviser, not a business owner or a developer.

“Economic development” is code for taking taxpayers’ money and spending it where no one else will, or where politicians get kickbacks.

The real question is why businesses don’t thrive in Dayton- well except for CareSource- a tax-funded middleman where the CEO makes millions a year doing what a government employee would never get paid more than $185K a year for.

We could talk about the extra money a small business has to spend on security glass, alarm systems, video surveillance, guards and higher insurance premiums because of the vacant homes, crime and disinvestment. Our police force is half of what it once was, yet the city is the same size.

We could talk about how the city cites homeowners for tall grass- while only cutting public parks 3x a year. Or how there are bushes growing through the cracks of basketball courts across the city, while developers who didn’t do their homework get handed a $1.25 million demolition for free. That’s 1.25 million that wasn’t spent on delivering services to the people that pay for them.

Back to the racino. Because the state guarantees a return on the slot machines, investors had no problem putting millions into building a legalized theft business. No tax breaks, no abatement, no grants. No other businesses, except health care and banking in this country are as free to operate knowing they will get paid no matter what. Other businesses all have to weigh their risk vs. return. In most of Dayton, the perceived risk outweighs its return.

If you want investment and jobs, look around at your neighborhoods- the boarded up homes, the weeds in the streets, the potholes, the broken curbs, the knocked down street lights in the center of U.S. 35 W that never got replaced and ask, why are we so lacking in government services despite paying the second highest income tax in the area?

The answer, unfortunately, is our government started concentrating on “economic development” and forgot about the fundamental premise of running a city properly.

 

 

The Sexist Selective Service System

by David Esrati on August 23, 2014

in Government in general, Justice

Selective Service Manual cover with the words "No Girls Allowed" superimposed

Selective Service System is still a good ole boys club

When I turned 18, I went to the post office and registered for Selective Service. About 6 months later, I volunteered to enter the U.S. Army, where I served with women who weren’t required to register.

From the Selective Service System website:

Almost all male U.S. citizens, and male immigrants living in the U.S., who are 18 through 25, are required to register with Selective Service. It’s important to know that even though he is registered, a man will not automatically be inducted into the military. In a crisis requiring a draft, men would be called in sequence determined by random lottery number and year of birth. Then, they would be examined for mental, physical and moral fitness by the military before being deferred or exempted from military service or inducted into the Armed Forces.

via Selective Service System: Fast Facts.

I hadn’t given it much thought lately until I heard a PSA on WDPS reminding young men to register. It warned that failure to register could stop eligibility for “student financial aid, loans, or grants; vocational training under WIA; government employment; and security clearances.”

In light of changes to the rules about women in combat, as of Jan. 24, 2013, when:

a unanimous recommendation by the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta today announced the end of the direct ground combat exclusion rule for female service members.

via Defense.gov News Article: Defense Department Expands Women’s Combat Role.

it would seem to me that it is discriminatory to force the “Selective Service System” only on men, and only penalize men for not registering for the draft that probably would never happen. It’s time to level the playing field and ask women to make the same commitment to their country as men, if they also want access to financial aid, loans, grants, etc.

It’s been a long time for this country to live up to the words of the founding fathers – in our Declaration of Independence, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

Women can vote, women can go to war, women can become presidential candidates- it’s time for women to register for the Selective Service System.

 

Making Dayton look good

by David Esrati on August 21, 2014

in guide to living in Dayton

Today, the second video went live that was produced by my friends Michael and Sandy Bashaw, along with Andy Snow. They involved a ton of local musicians, dancers, performers and showed Dayton at it’s best. The production values are as awesome as their first video- and the song, “Where the rivers meet” is beautiful.

Take a look on this rainy day:

If you want to see the first video- “Where there is love” I wrote about it here: http://esrati.com/where-there-is-love-dayton-ohio-welcomes-everyone/10070/

I think my favorite part of the new video is seeing my friend Nicky Kay- Nick Kzirnis, wailing on his Rickenbacker in front of the yellow sculpture at the corner of 5th and Patterson. While a lot of people made fun of this sculpture when it came out- it’s becoming one of my favorites- I just wish it was someplace other than a traffic island- where more people would interact with it.

Back in July of 2013 I wrote about the community building site called NextDoor:

Recently, I ran across Nextdoor.com which is a really great intra-net solution for neighborhoods. The reason I say intra-net is it’s really built for knowing your neighbors and only your neighbors. It has real privacy controls and doesn’t require Facebook membership as so many other sites do (but it does work with a Facebook sign-in).

The beauty of NextDoor is that it’s based on real geography, with verification of members by your actual residence. Taking info from several sources, it verifies identity and geo-maps you to your neighborhood- which a group of you can define the boundaries of. It allows for notifications like a listserve, discussions, classified ads, recommendations and makes it easy to connect neighbors without worry of it showing up in search.

via How to organize your neighborhood online: NextDoor.com.

Today I was notified that the City is officially adopting it as a tool to communicate with the neighborhoods:

The City of Dayton joins Nextdoor

We are excited to announce that the City of Dayton will be working with Nextdoor to provide important information to neighborhoods across the city. As part of this effort, you will see periodic updates from various city departments on Nextdoor South Park. The purpose of these updates is to share official alerts, news, and other notifications that are relevant to your neighborhood. It’s important to note that city staff can only see their own posts and replies to these posts. They will NOT be able to access or view any information that you and your neighbors have shared on Nextdoor South Park. Communicating with city staff is entirely voluntary, and you can see more information here. Please visit our Help Center if you have any questions.

Wow, what will they think of next- municipal fiber, Sportsplex, digital devices for all DPS students, tiny houses, co-housing, fixing up basketball courts….

Shamed them into action

by David Esrati on August 16, 2014

in Change the world, Dayton Government

As I just got my 5th box of basketball nets from Tuffy Brooks (thanks to Chad Snoke and Geo Pro Consultants) and went out to do some net maintenance on our parks, I finally have a success story to tell.

Arlington Hills Park, July 27 2014. Rotting backboard. Dayton Ohio

Arlington Hills Park, July 27 2014. Rotting backboard.

Last month I stopped by the “Arlington Hills” park – a double court on a field where the old “Gangster Courts” projects were, and I reported a crappy backboard and graffiti on the court with the “Dayton Delivers” mobile application. Here is the photo of the rotting backboard and lame rim:

There was graffiti on the court, someone has been driving donuts on the court, there are no benches for players. In all- a poor excuse for a park and a court.
I’ve never actually seen any kids on this court, in all my visits- and the nets don’t need replacing as often as other courts.

Today, I stopped by after hanging nets at Dunbar HS, DeSoto Bass, Wogamen Elementary School and fixing nets at a few other places as well as hanging a few on rollout rims for the kids playing street ball.

City of Dayton puts up new poles, backboards, rims at Arlington Hills park

Same spot- new pole, backboard rim and net! Times 4!

I almost couldn’t believe my eyes- four brand new backboards, on new poles, with new rims now grace the court at Arlington Hills Park.

It looks like a place where you actually would want to play a game . It made my day. I’ve also witnessed the demolition of the courts at Burkham Park, Princeton Rec Center and have been told Residence park is being rebuilt right now.

They still aren’t using my “preferred rim” – the First Team FT172D which I think is the best rim out there, but, these are the second best style out there.

Ideally- every court would also have benches for guys to rest, while the game is going on, and a working drinking fountain, since most courts are in full sun.

I’ve heard that Mallory Park is up for repair as well, and a few others this year, with more next year, although no one has told me the complete list.

I only hope the three rims we put up at Princeton are going to be recycled and not thrown out.

This is the kind of city I envision- one where our parks are clean and safe. Our schools are great, our neighborhoods strong and our businesses successful. Even though I’ve never won an election (except as precinct captain or neighborhood president) I feel that my efforts to hang the green nets were the catalyst for the city to finally take action and fix our courts.

I’m still sad that we’ve closed our neighborhood pools and replaced them with spray parks, and that we have no youth sports programs to speak of, but, I hope to keep the focus on keeping our kids on the courts instead of in the courts through sports and recreational programming.

Thank you to all the barber shops and beauty salons, and all of you who donated- and extra thanks to those who bought me nets, rims, zip ties and ladders.

All that grassroots effort- has finally begun to pay off. Or, as some would say- shame is a powerful motivator.

Thank you.

 

Photo by Whitney Curtis for The New York Times

Ferguson MO militarized police photo- Whitney Curtis for The New York Times

It’s this photo that makes my stomach turn. This is not a police force to “Serve and protect”- but a police force to deny free speech, the right to peaceably assemble and to protest.

We are no longer the home of the brave and land of the free.

When gun nuts talk about needing to own an assault rifle, because they are afraid of the government overstepping its bounds, they now have the poster photo to prove the crazies are right.

Let me count the ways that this is wrong. The idiot on the top of the “Urban Assault Vehicle” is actively sighting a target. If he had a legitimate reason to do this, all those “riot police” should be on the deck- with their weapons pointed at an imminent threat. If anyone else held a fully automatic assault rifle like that, they would be shot by the police with the excuse that they were inciting panic. In Beavercreek Ohio, you can get killed for talking on a cell phone with a BB gun in a Walmart- this is an order of magnitude worse.

The mismatched uniforms- with desert boots and woodland camouflage also make these “police officers” look more like extras on a low-budget Hollywood war movie. Why wear BDU’s at all? Are they police- or soldiers? Police officers work for us- have pride in their community, and represent us- soldiers are here to repress us. The moment you don a military uniform, you are no longer serving and protecting me, at least that’s the way this former soldier sees it.

No matter how much police forces train to use this gear, it’s not suited for police work. Good cops know their first and most effective tool, is talking to people, trying to establish rapport and common ground. Note to cops: the moment you don your GI Joe gear you throw all that “one of us rapport” out the window. If we really need an MRAP on the scene, you’d do better to let it be the National Guard in it, because after the shit storm is over, they go home outside the community- and you, well, you’ve permanently distanced yourself by actively taking arms against our citizenry.

SWAT was a bad TV show- that forever changed the idea of what cops should and shouldn’t do. It probably did as much or more damage to the idea of “community based policing” than Jack Bauer on 24 did to interrogation techniques. No, physical torture doesn’t get you good intel or accurate intel- it just makes you guilty of war crimes. Want a lesson in the Geneva Convention- ask Senator John McCain, don’t ask “John McClane”- the cop character in the Die Hard movies which also distorted the reality of what happens when most people shoot other people- even highly trained people shooting other people. The reality is, most cops don’t shoot very often, and this kind of BS isn’t why they got into policing. Any chief who orders his officers to go out with automatic weapons and point them as if to shoot- should be relieved of command.

For those who need a refresher- the United States is probably the only country that glorifies a war battle in its national anthem, and not even the revolutionary war, but the war of 1812. We seem to still be confused as to what a “land of the free and the home of the brave” means. Are we now brave, to walk in protest, facing our fellow countrymen armed to the teeth, to protect our freedoms which have been slipping away from us since September 11, 2001?

The Constitution, starts with this preamble. Read it. Then look at the photo above. Do the two go together?

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

Habeas Corpus- the right not to be be unlawfully detained, and to have a judge and jury determine your fate:

The Privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion the public Safety may require it.

When police show up with the firepower to go to war, our collective rights are being stripped from us. Those which are guaranteed in the Bill of Rights (the first 10 amendments to the Constitution).

They read in brief (from this post)

  1. Freedom of speech, religion, press, assembly and petition.
  2. Right to bear arms.
  3. Right not to quarter soldiers.
  4. Freedom from unnecessary search or seizure.
  5. Due process of laws.
  6. The right to a speedy trial.
  7. The right to a trial by jury.
  8. No cruel or unusual punishment.
  9. Constitutional rights do not deny other rights.
  10. States rights

Look again at the photo above. The Third amendment specifically applies to this-

“the Third Amendment subordinates military authority to civilian control and safeguards against abuses that can be perpetrated by standing armies and professional soldiers.” via The legal dictionary/free dictionary.

Do those cops look like cops, or professional soldiers to you? They do to me.

We have a constitutional law expert as our president. Now is not the time for him to be on vacation. What is happening in Ferguson MO is a danger to the state of our union, and demands his attention. It’s time for a come-to-Jesus meeting about police militarization, because if this is how my police serve and protect, I say they are doing neither.

Right after I posted this- Butler Township Trustee Nick Brusky tweeted the following:

The first thing the rabble rousing reverends call for in the recent police shooting of a young black man in a lily white communities Walmart is to see the store video- all of it.

Yet, the exact same people rail against traffic cams installed to monitor speed and stop lights.

Don’t forget the ones who screamed bloody murder over the high resolution drone surveillance either.

Our society has been spoiled by instant replay from every angle to figure out if a penalty in football was called correctly or if the players foot stepped on the line, that we seem to expect the same from some Chinese DVR taking low rez photos at 10 frames per second in a store.

Some police departments are experimenting with personal video recorders attached to the shirts of their officers, to provide “evidence” of what “really happened” in a police interaction. This is after “dash cams” became the norm- letting the public voyeurs see some things as horrible as when a few local white supremacists decided to do a Bonnie and Clyde move- shooting an unsuspecting State Trooper on a routine traffic stop. Hyped by media that still lives by the adage “if it bleeds it leads” we’ve turned into junkies for “Reality TV” of real life tragedies which often happen when idiots and guns mix. Even pellet guns- as was the case in the Beavercreek Walmart.

One person wrote into the Dayton Daily news wondering what would have happened in the Walmart had a private citizen packing now legal heat at decided to take out the bb gun waving, cell phone talking black man, instead of the police? Or what would have the police done had they seen one of those Concealed Carry people waiting with gun drawn- in case the pellet gun genius came their way? It’s sad that just the hysteria caused by this incident also took the life of a young woman who died as she tried to flea the scene by yet undetermined causes.

What does store security video do to change all of this? We’re yet to find out. Most of it comes without sound- so unless the Feds have lip readers, ways to enhance video like on crime scene shows (I work in video and can tell you that most of that “resolution enhancement” you see on CSI is total BS) we may just end up with more questions than answers. This isn’t an NFL game with 13 cameras following the ball at all times from all angles.

At least ten years ago- I sat in a Greene County Court room where a young black man was about to be sent away for three years in prison. The evidence then? A dash cam recording – which coupled with mandatory sentencing laws, decided the case for the judge. The crime? A drunk black man, in cuffs in the back of the cruiser, says on camera to the officer “you won’t live to see your next birthday.” A mandatory 3 year felony stint for threatening the life of a law enforcement officer. Had the black man just hit the cop- 6 months and a minor misdemeanor.

The judge said in the sentencing- “In all my years on the bench, we usually have two parties telling different stories about the same event, and somewhere in the middle is the truth. Here, all we had to do was press play” and a life was changed for saying something stupid.

Video replay of crimes can’t always be the gold standard for deciding guilt or innocence, at some point common sense has to enter into the equation.

I don’t envy the cops who had to make a split second decision about if a gun is real or not real, and if the person acting irrationally (yes, walking through a store with anything like a firearm un-holstered or pointed anywhere other than the floor or ceiling is irrational) could prevent that officer from going home to his family that night. It’s in those split seconds where photographic evidence isn’t the end all and be all. If it shows a gun being pointed anywhere other than floor or ceiling- what the commands were, if they were followed, timing- don’t really matter anymore in my book. The possibility of a tragedy brought on a real tragedy and second guessing it isn’t solving the problem.

The real questions should be is what other shoppers saw- what they thought? Does one persons account via a 911 call make this a situation calling for SWAT? Should the 911 caller be questioned for inciting panic? These are some of the questions that need to be answered.

As to our constant monitoring by video and its effect on our civil liberties, that cat is so long out of the bag it’s time to stop arguing about it, and consider what our real expectations are for a civil and moral society that doesn’t break down into dysfunction at the drop of a dime.

Einstein famously said “insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.”

When I see Dayton trying to fix the failure of our community to fulfill the basic expectations of what a city should provide, i.e.: good schools, safe neighborhoods, well maintained infrastructure as well as simple things like basketball nets on courts that aren’t doubling as weed gardens- by building new houses where old ones fell- I just do a forehead smack.

If people wanted to live there, they could have had a home for next to nothing- and fixed it up themselves. If they wanted to build a new home- why would they do it in a block where half the houses are already vacant. Vibrant communities attract vibrant growth. It must be why South Park is one of the few places where property taxes rose- from 20% to 50% in the latest valuation.

So, what can we do to be different? To offer something that can’t be found elsewhere? One of the answers is “Tiny Houses”- something that’s currently illegal in Dayton- and most of the country. If you don’t understand why they aren’t legal, what they are, or what the attraction is- watch this 10 minute video from “Reason TV” (thanks to Teri Lussier for the tip)

Do zoning and building codes really protect our property values- or keep us safe? Or are they just another way for government to stick its nose where it doesn’t belong? Is the reason for big houses- because the construction,  home building, banking and insurance industries don’t want you to build your own house for cash?

What happens when people live in $10,000 houses that use so little energy?

Putting people in a tiny house has been proven to be a much better solution to homelessness.

It also frees up huge amounts of disposable income, when housing is no longer 25% of your living expenses- what do you spend your money on? Travel, dining out, entertainment?

Why must the “American dream” be so connected to the idea of McMansions and suburban sprawl?

Maybe what we should do is allow areas where more than 40% of the structures are vacant to become “zoning free” enterprise zones, where building codes are reduced to common sense stuff- and the stupidity goes away (why must a room have a closet to be a bedroom? Or why can’t a bathroom connect to a kitchen?).

Dayton could be a leader in the Tiny House movement. The only question is why not?

This is illegal. On July 26th Five Rivers Metroparks started pushing a new policy to vendors at the 2nd Street Market- to take effect 8/1/2014. But before we even get to what the policy they are implementing is- we have to start with the e-mail signature of the person sending out the policy – it includes the following legalese:

This e-mail and any files transmitted with it are confidential and intended solely for the use of the individual or entity to whom they are addressed. If you are not the named addressee you should not disseminate, distribute or copy this e-mail. Please notify the sender immediately by e-mail if you have received this e-mail by mistake and delete this e-mail from your system. Please note that any views or opinions presented in this e-mail are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of Five Rivers MetroParks. Five Rivers MetroParks accepts no liability for any damage caused by any virus transmitted by this e-mail.

It’s even styled to be hard to read- using gray type and small font style tags.

Please note, “Autumn Saenz Market Coordinator 2nd St Market Five Rivers MetroParks” you don’t work for a private law firm- but for a government entity- funded by our taxes. Everything you do is public information, covered by Ohio’s Sunshine laws, and available to the public through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). Just the hint of some sort of secrecy- or that this isn’t public record, is a violation.

If any vendor wants to forward your communications, get used to it. Several vendors are my clients and talked to me about this new policy- and I concur, it’s absurd and illegal.

The new policy in question? “SOCIAL MEDIA RULES AND REGULATIONS” which prohibits talking smack about Five Rivers Metroparks, the Market, and or, anything about the market or any of the affiliates- up to and including the commissioners of the organization. So, in effect, we’re allowed to bully you into not being a “cyberbully” and if you talk about us, and our attempts to regulate free speech in public, we’ll terminate your lease.

The complete text of the new mandate:

Five Rivers MetroParks
2nd Street Market
Amendment to Rules and Regulations
Effective 8/1//14

SOCIAL MEDIA RULES AND REGULATIONS
2nd Street Market vendors and their employees or agents must be courteous and professional at all times. This includes vendors’ use of the Internet, e-mail and social media and digital networking tools.

Vendors and their employees or agents shall not make defamatory or derogatory remarks about Five Rivers MetroParks, the 2nd Street Market, or other related to Five Rivers MetroParks or the 2nd Street Market in their electronic communications, including on all social media platforms. They will not engage in gossip, spreading rumors, cyberbullying or similar behavior.

Vendors, their employees or agents may not use e-mail, the Internet or social media and digital networking tools in any manner that may impair the reputation or public standing of Five Rivers MetroParks, the 2nd Street Market or their employees, agents or Commissioners.

Fiver (sic) Rivers MetroParks and the 2nd Street Market reserve the right to report any such communication to the appropriate authorities and social media platforms as communication that violates appropriate standard of conduct. Repeated offenses of these rules and regulations may result in the termination of a vendor’s license agreement at conduct business at the 2nd Street Market.
———————————————————————————————————————
Cut/Tear along the dotted line and return to Jimmy or Autumn. Thank You

By signing here, the vendor agrees to participate in the 2nd Street Market in accordance with the Amendment to the Rules and Regulations described in this document. Effective 8/1/14.
Vendor Business
Vendor Name
Vendor Signature
Date

If you want an original PDF of the document in question: Social Media Amendment

Metroparks is funded by Montgomery County taxpayers. And just to make it clear- even if the vendors were direct employees of a private company- these policies and threats of lease termination would be illegal:

In January (2013), the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) issued a series of rulings and advisories that changed the rules for private businesses that want to punish workers who make these feelings public using social media.

The board’s rulings make it illegal for most private companies to enact broad policies that would punish workers who criticize their employers or work conditions if such venting could be considered part of an employee’s right to work toward improved working conditions.

via Do Governments Need Personal Social Media Policies?.

As our best example of regional cooperation, MetroParks should be the shining example of open government, and transparent practices. One of the oddities of this organization is that even though the public pays for this organization, we have no say in who runs it- the 3 “commissioners” are appointed by an unnamed “Montgomery County Probate Judge” and seem to be appointed for life (although start dates for each isn’t listed, Irv Bieser and Alan Pippenger have been on this board for a long time (but we’ll save that issue for another post).

As of this time, most vendors, afraid to raise their voices against this policy fearing the threat of lease termination- are signing it and keeping their mouths shut. Technically, the release of the e-mail and document, may be grounds for termination. When we can’t talk in public about the conduct of the people in charge of our tax dollars, we don’t have a democracy, we have a dictatorship. And in that vein, to the director of Metroparks- I challenge you, Becky Benná- tear down this policy.