Another blow to the American dream

Come to America, where everyone can become a millionaire.

Thing is, a million ain’t what it used to be.

It’s been a long time since I served with the U.S. Army Special Forces. We liked to think of our special operations units as the “quiet professionals.” We didn’t like to have our pictures taken, we’d keep a low profile, identifying marks on our bodies that weren’t put there by god weren’t approved of. (A friend, Tim G., got busted 2 ranks and put in a shit job for getting “YANKEE” tattooed across his chest just before being shipped to Nicaragua to train people we had no business training). When “Mark Owen” wrote the book “No Easy Day” about the operation to get Bin Laden, I pre-ordered it and read it the weekend I got it.

I didn’t see anything that even remotely seemed like a security leak, or disclosure of classified info or special ops weapons or tactics. I’d read most of Dick Marcinko’s “Red Cell” books- and gleaned a lot more there.

And while it’s OK for Hillary, Bill, and Barack to make millions from their books- apparently, it’s not OK for an enlisted man to make a dime.

Matt Bissonnette, a former member of Navy SEAL Team 6, will probably have to forfeit at least $4.5 million in book royalties over his failure to allow the Pentagon to review his best seller on the Osama bin Laden raid for possible security breaches, according to court documents filed by his lawyer. The documents say Mr. Bissonnette would also have to give up movie rights to his book “No Easy Day,” worth at least $900,000, and would lose the security clearances needed to do military-related consulting work.

via Former Navy SEAL, Author of Bin Laden Best Seller, May Face Costly Penalties, Lawyer Says – NYTimes.com.

Let’s see the differences:

Bissonnette signed a blank check to the people of the United States guaranteed with his life. He trained harder than 99.99% of Americans. He risked his life many times over.

Hillary, Bill and Barack- got elected. They smiled and waved at cameras, told people what they wanted to hear, and took billions in donations to reach their goal. Hell, even Monica Lewinsky got paid for her near toppling of our government over her sloppy blow job.

Charlie Sheen pretended to be a Navy SEAL- and got paid millions. Why shouldn’t Bissonnette? He’d even promised most of the proceeds to go to families of Navy SEALs who were killed in action, although the foundation refused his donations according to Wikipedia sources.

Generals have made millions from their book deals- I’ve got a signed copy of General Tommy Frank’s book, Colin Powell has a book, McChrystal has a book- after he had to resign for talking to Rolling Stone while still on duty. Look at what all the generals get to do once they retire- sit on boards, work for defense contractors, lecture tours.

Guys like Matt who did their dirty work, make up the largest segment of America’s homeless.

The American dream isn’t what it used to be. Even the guys who make it possible for it to continue to survive- have to fight tooth and nail to get their share.

I hope the Pentagon drops this stupidity before they make bigger fools of themselves.

Time to change the national anthem and chuck the constitution: Police militarization

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:

Five Rivers Metroparks. Now run by the politburo

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.

 

Privacy lost

I’ve said it before, the terrorists have won. Every time I’m asked to stick my hands up in the air at an airport by the TSA, I politely refuse and go through the pat down. I refuse to stick my arms up in surrender to my own government. The “Patriot Act” was passed quickly, without much real debate and our countries actions since September 11, 2001 have disgraced the principles of our founding fathers.

The saddest fact is that while there are terrorists stupid enough to use cell phones and the internet to discuss their plans, that doesn’t excuse our government for taking a hall pass on the constitution. I’ve always figured that we’re being watched and listened to, and I don’t let it bother me. The really crazy thing is that if we have the ability to thwart terrorists from bombing Wall Street by intercepting communications, please explain why we haven’t managed to stop spam? Really?

My little brother rarely sends me links, but, this video, Tap it: The NSA slow jam,  on YouTube was a fun poke at the whole thing:

Anthony Weiner wanting back in the game was my favorite line, btw.

When Robert Bork was being vetted for a Supreme Court seat, some congressman brought up his video store rental records which included porn. Bork claimed he was researching “obscenity”- and very quickly, congress passed a law making library records and video store records protected privacy – the Video Privacy Protection Act.

So, terrorists, if you are reading this- the secret is to embed secret messages in movies and then distribute them via Netflix or Family Video stores- and that way, the government won’t snoop. Yeah, right.

WDTN censors itself

Yesterday morning I arrived at the WDTN studios at 8 a.m. for an interview that was slated for 8:20. But, in the topsy turvy world of TV news, I was being bumped to 8:06 and rushed into the studio. My interviewer, Dan Edwards, who’s been on TV longer than I’ve been running for office (that means more than 20 years), had to run to the newsroom to do a live from the newsroom report- and then had to rush back to the studio for us to go live at the big news desk.

As Dan started to read the teleprompter, I saw it as it was too late to fix, he introduced me as Dayton Mayoral Candidate, David Esrati. I politely corrected him, and we moved on with the interview, which consisted of the best four questions and follow ups I’ve had in a long time. I didn’t bother to record it, because all of this video typically ends up online, and I would just build a link to the video and they’d get a lot of traffic, and they’d get their advertising revenue. [update]update 9:18 am behind us was this big banner that said Dayton Mayoral Run [/update]

Only problem, WDTN doesn’t like their mistakes to be on the Internet forever. Kind of blows their “News you can Trust” positioning. It could be because of the error on air, or that they had only planned on interviewing the mayoral candidates and didn’t want to give all 8 candidates for city commission air time. I offered to run back and do the intro over, to help them, but, no, it’s censored.

Now of course, the video becomes a novelty, a naughty no-no. Which would drive the views up even higher. But, more than likely, it will be me posting it. So, do any of you record the CW, ch 26 WBDT on your DVR or even VHS? I’d like to get that video online. Of course, there are still news clipping services that record all the local stations in the hope that something like this happens, and they sell the footage, which I’d hate to waste precious campaign money on, but…

I don’t blame Dan for the mistake, these things happen. I thank him for allowing me access to the broadcast airwaves without having to spend a fortune like the big money candidates will, but, censorship is so, well, Chinese dude.

1st Amendment optional at Sinclair Community College

Apparently, Sinclair Community College is not part of the United States, nor does it have to follow the law of the land. David Sparks of the Dayton Informer posted today that he was run off the Sinclair Community College courtyard by the campus police when setting up his camera. When he went to the “business office” the employees there were unable to explain if the First Amendment would protect his right as a citizen and a journalist to do man-on-the-street interviews.

Apparently, even though Sinclair Community College is paid for with your tax dollars and belongs to all of us, as a public institution of “higher learning” they’ve failed to learn the law.

This is no different than Mike Turner’s arrest of a silent protester (me) at a public meeting so many years ago.

Is the Sinclair Community College campus courtyard a Free Speech with Approval Zone?

via Dayton Informer Prevented from Filming in Sinclair Courtyard | The Dayton Informer.


There is a reason it’s the First Amendment. In case the people at Sinclair need a refresher- it’s pretty short and simple:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

it’s time the people of the region start questioning why these people who work for us seem to think they operate with a different set of laws than the rest of us and why they still have jobs.

Occupy Dayton IS the “Grande Illumination”

Sandy Gudorf is an overpaid tool of corporate America. As the president of the Downtown Dayton Partnership she is paid more than $100K a year to tax property owners and then give tax breaks to new businesses. She also hires cheap contract labor to do the job of cleaning downtown sidewalks as a way to sidestep standard employment practices.

Now, she also wants to limit free speech- because lighting a Christmas tree is now more important than free speech (never mind the separation of church and state). In the Dayton Daily News she claims that because she brings 30K people to the square and it’s a 39-year-old tradition- we shouldn’t be allowed to protest the giant inequities that have developed in our country- thanks to people like her who believe in corporate welfare more than in human welfare and dignity:

Occupy Dayton, the local Wall Street and establishment protest linked with other protests throughout the nation, is being asked to temporarily move from Courthouse Square downtown for the Nov. 25 Grande Illumination.

The request came Thursday from Sandy Gudorf, president of the Downtown Dayton Partnership, the business group that organizes the holiday ceremonial Christmas tree-lighting and festivities. “We respect their right to protest,” she said. “The kickoff of the holiday season isn’t the right place to make a political statement.”

via Occupy Dayton protest must relocate for Grande Illumination.

The question to ask Ms. Gudorf is how exactly she is going to enforce her personal ban on free speech- will people wearing Obama shirts be asked to leave the square? Or if the Klu Klux Klan shows up in their bedsheets? (she’ll quickly learn that arresting the KKK is impossible, it’s already been tested in the courts).

Sticker; get the money out of politics- the 99%

Sticker available from www.stickittothe1percent.com

Gudorf is an idiot. By whining a few weeks before the event, she’s already begun to solidify the movement’s resolve to be there. I plan on being there wearing my sandwich board- and I’ll be damned if she, or any police officer is going to tell me I don’t have a right to be there.

The Occupy Movement’s real motivation is to enlighten the 99% of the wholesale illegal transfer of wealth though government-sponsored policies that have made our country a third world debtor nation on the brink of collapse. The Sandy Gudorfs of the world have helped banks take our homes, our jobs and destroy our standard of living.

In fact, one of the main reasons the “Grande Illumination” has grown in scale over the recent years is because it’s a free event- something nice people can do who can’t afford a Christmas tree or as many presents as they used to give thanks to the wizards of Wall Street and our sold-out politicians.

I urge you to join me in protesting with the Occupy movement on Nov. 25th at Courthouse Square.

As a shameless plug: my ad agency, The Next Wave has produced some stickers to show your support of the movement and is donating 20% of each sale to the local movement. Stickers are 99¢ each and available at: www.stickittothe1percent.com

[UPDATE]

After a few days- Gudorf is now only asking for the tents to go – not the protesters- at least, that’s what I’m interpreting.

That’s an acceptable position – but- the protest can and should still go on.

@Shortwest Rick added this video to the discussion- well worth watching:

Freedom of the press, as long as you own it: Dayton City Paper shows its true colors

Alternative news weeklies are supposed to be the alternative to the mainstream media- muckrakers, agents provacateurs, the last bastion of free speech. However, with the declines in newspaper reading- even of the free variety, apparently, appeasing the advertisers is now function number 1. Toss in a bit of not willing to go against the political machine- which spends a lot of money on advertising each November- and we now have a local “alternative paper” that isn’t much of either.

Anti-Dean Lovelace ad created by David Lauri

The ad that David Lauri wants to run against Dean Lovelace

Esrati.com reader and local gay and lesbian rights activist, David Lauri writes about his attempt to run ads in Dayton City Paper against Dayton City Commissioner Dean Lovelace, the only commissioner to vote against an anti-discrimination ordinance (Commissioner Joey Williams sidelined himself with an abstention). DCP publisher Paul Noah not only is requiring Lauri to submit the ads, but is now the judge and jury on Mr. Lauri’s very smart purchase of www.deanlovelace.com to wage his anti-Lovelace campaign after learning that Lovelace hadn’t registered his own name despite plans to continue to run for office (Lauri claims he learned of this gaff on Esrati.com)

From David Lauri’s blog:

Paul Noah thinks I was wrong to register the domain name deanlovelace.com. In his email to me he went on to say:

For the record, I have no opinion of Mr. Lovelace or of his record as I know little about him. However, I am disappointed that you decided to use Mr. Lovelace’s domain name for the purpose of campaigning against him. I believe if you would have left his domain name alone and, instead, created and promoted a website domain name such as “VoteAgainstDeanLovelace.com” you would have accomplished the same results without appearing to obviously and blatantly having taken advantage of Mr. Lovelace’s failure to remember to renew his domain name. In all fairness, it’s most likely that Mr. Lovelace had confided in another individual to register his domain name on his behalf and, therefore, it was likely the failure of his confident to renew the domain name. In my eyes, the fact that you had exploited Mr. Lovelace’s domain name expiration by purchasing the rights to it and utilizing it as a resource to campaign against him significantly reduces the credibility of your mission. It is for this reason that the Dayton City Paper may end up declining your request anyway.

I’m a bit surprised by Paul Noah’s righteous indignation at my having created the website deanlove.com. I replied to him to tell him that I could have understood such indignation if I had created a spoof website purporting to be by Dean Lovelace himself but not given that the website clearly states that I own the site and that it is not affiliated with any candidate.

via David’s blog: 201108.

Lauri had also attempted to run ads in the Dayton LGBT Film Festival program- but was rebuffed by the organization because the Downtown Priority Board (an elected, quasi-government organization) is a primary sponsor. Is this the new strategy for quashing political opposition? How can a quasi-government organization legally quash free speech? What kind of First Amendment do we have left? Is the Internet the only place where political speech can be left uncensored?

Lauri has every right to not only own www.deanlovelace.com, where he clearly identifies himself as the site owner- and to post his position on Mr. Lovelace’s record, but he also has every right to advertise anywhere he wants. (Note, his ad does need to say who is paying for it to meet campaign standards before it could run in a newspaper). Political speech is supposed to be one of the most protected forms of free speech in this country, where the right to question and call attention to real issues, or even fake ones (“Swiftboarting” – anyone?). Mr. Lauri probably doesn’t have the time or money to take the legal route to protect his rights of free speech, nor will the ACLU help him out.

The only thing we can do is help him spread his word, and support his efforts via calling attention to the issue- and by telling the Dayton City Paper and their advertisers that we would prefer they move their advertising to the internet- or to media that doesn’t censor political speech.

The tagline the Dayton City Paper uses in WYSO ads is”Look no further, look deeper.” Mr. Lauri made me look deeper into DCP policy and I didn’t like what I found.

I urge all readers of this site to send a note to Paul Noah, publisher@daytoncitypaper.com and tell him why he should not only accept the ad (with the addition of who paid for it) in his paper, but that he should keep his opinion on his opinion pages – and not insert it into political ads.

{UPDATE} 14:00 – I just got off the phone with Paul Noah, who adamantly claims that he’s not refusing to run Mr. Lauri’s ad- but, is claiming his publication hasn’t run any political ads, he doesn’t have a rate card for them, and he is working on getting those things in order for the Oct. 18th issue.

The e-mail exchange between Mr. Lauri and Mr. Noah was too long for me to include- esp. since most of it exists on David Lauri’s site.  In it, Mr. Noah clearly states:

Also for the record, I happen to feel that any person who actively attempts to limit the rights of any individual because of their sexual orientation does not deserve to hold public office.  As for whether or not Mr. Lovelace has, indeed, acted in this manner I am simply uninformed.

But in the very next paragraph, Noah continues to stick his nose where it doesn’t belong with the URL again:

I am interested in your thoughts about my commentary above as I would hope that you consider doing the right thing and play fairly here.  For example, if you would have accidentally forgotten to renew DavidLauri.com and someone else grabbed it from you for purposes against you, how would you feel?

I’ve known Paul Noah for about 3 years- when he stepped in to save DCP. He is politically naive, however, not having a political rate or policy in place at this point is inexcusable.

Mr. Noah has been inundated with calls and e-mails about this article this morning. I asked him to respond on this site, which he chose not to do, even after I asked him nicely to do. In the grand scheme of things, as one commenter has already said- the DCP “stopped being interesting or relevant years ago.” This exercise with Mr. Lauri may be a big part of the reason why.

An Esrati panhandling solution proposal

Why do “good Samaritans” donate to our “Card-carrying panhandlers” on street corners- which apparently has become such a lucrative job- that there are now “organized panhandling gangs” working the streets (if you believe some comments). They do it- because they think, by the grace of god, that could be me.

The economy is tough. People are homeless at the highest rates ever. Unemployment is at an all-time high. Gas prices are high- and our government is running out of money and social services and safety nets are seeing funding cuts. Yep- it’s bad.

But, the Dayton City Commission thinks the answer is to create laws that will try to collect fines from the panhandlers. Only fools would think this makes sense. Besides the fact that this makes work for our police, who are already short staffed. Believe it or not- cops aren’t social workers- and jails aren’t homeless shelters. The money it would cost to rid our streets of these evil panhandlers through their solution will cost us much more than putting these people to work. That’s not including the costs of defending the sign law in the coming 1st amendment issue of free speech- which the city has a horrible track record of understanding.

Instead- we could try to do something more productive- put these people to work. Real work. Work we need to have done. In almost every place I see panhandlers- I can look at overgrown lots, trash and litter in the street, and graffiti that needs to be removed. If you ask me which is worse- I suggest the relatively clean panhandler bothers me less than the aforementioned urban dirt.

Yes, we’ll still have people standing on street corners- even with my solution- but, instead- lets make it part of a program that is organized and solving problems instead of making them.

We would start by creating a day labor pool depot. At the depot- anyone, from contractors, to landscapers to home owners, could pick up people for manual labor. The pay rate would be minimum wage- with no extra responsibility for SS, workers comp etc. A flat $7.85 an hour or whatever the rate is right now. Laborers would rate the employers- and employers would rate the laborers. For those who worry about this screwing with labor rates- those who try to use pool people for doing work that may be higher skill- on a regular basis- will be knocked out of the system quickly through the rating system. Laborers would be expected to do manual low skilled labor- from cutting grass with a push mower- to weeding, to scraping paint- or hauling off debris from a construction site.

Those who can’t do manual labor, would work at the depot answering phones, filling out paperwork, or handwork that can be dropped off- desk-bound project work like kitting packages.

The way you donate to the panhandlers would be to buy Alms Bucks- business cards printed on plastic cards- hard to duplicate- for $1 each. Each card would have directions to the depot- where the Alms bucks can be transformed into real dollars- after completing real work for at least 4 hours with a 100% rating.

Of course, some people who want to donate may not have alms bucks. In these cases, panhandlers could give the person a donation card- with info on how to get alms bucks. They would have their panhandling license number- and the donor would be sent to a web site to report their donation. Panhandlers would be checked on their integrity for reporting these donations- or have their license revoked.

Also – highest scoring workers, would be asked to don a vest- and actually officially vend Alms bucks on corners the first Friday of every month.

People buying alms bucks would be given credit for donations- for tax purposes- and to earn ratings. Church groups could raise money for the program, philanthropists could donate to the program, and individuals could donate to a program where they know that they are helping these people get back on their feet.

The program would be run by a non-profit, and the city would make a commitment to spend $100,000 hiring these people to pick up trash, cut empty lots, assist neighborhood projects- all to be invested only on a $1 for $1 match by donations.  Every panhandler would have an online profile- with their first name, their verified story, and their work history and rating- so that people who want to donate- can verify that they are truly donating to people who have real needs- and are working their way to get off the dole.

No questions would be asked about legal immigration status in the day laborer pool. The reason for this is because if we continue to ignore or rule these people as ineligible to work- their only options will be criminal activity or panhandling. If you don’t like it- find a better solution.

I’m sure there are some issues to resolve in this proposal- but that’s what comments are for. Please share your suggestions- or challenge me to solve the problems that I may have overlooked.

Thank you to the Mayor’s wife, Deborah Cool-Lorens for challenging me for an alternative solution.

Dayton panhandler law- it’ll cost us.

With a serious shortage of police on the street, no new hires in sight, we’re going to make holding a sign up on the corner illegal? Really?

Besides the slight problem with the U.S. constitutional protection of free speech, the city is going to “fine” or “incarcerate” panhandlers? Why not just give them minimum-wage jobs cutting grass on vacant lots instead? Between the wasting of time of valuable police officers making- oh around $30 an hour, and the cost of paperwork, court time, jail- the fines that will be levied and not collected…

Only from the wizards the citizens of Dayton elect:

Dayton’s new ordinance, which could be voted on next Wednesday, would require a soliciting permit to hold any sign asking for money, just as a panhandling permit is currently required to actively ask for money. The new ordinance also would restrict the times, places and manner that a person can hold such a sign.

Cook said the ordinance would make most offenses a fourth-degree misdemeanor.

“It’s an arrestable offense instead of just a ticket, and the maximum penalty is 30 days in jail and a $250 fine,” Cook said. “Because of overcrowding, will they spend serious time in jail? Probably not. But I would like to think the arrests will make a difference (in stopping the cycle).”

via Dayton’s crackdown on panhandlers may intensify.

Free Hugs panhandlers in the Oregon District

Are these criminals? Holding a sign- panhandling?

Laws that can’t be enforced are laws we don’t need. The legal defense on this one, when the ACLU steps in, will cost the city thousands.

Let’s just think about this for a minute- is wearing a shirt that says “I’m homeless please help” illegal too?

Or- holding a sign that says “Free hugs*” in big type- with smaller type “*donations appreciated” illegal?

Or, having a bottle of windex- and offering window cleaning- like in LA- for a donation?

Is this the most important thing our city leaders can do?

Too bad you can’t recall them.

Donations still being accepted to the legal fund to challenge the petition process in the charter if you think this kind of legislation is asinine.

The City Commission should only be working on a solution to our safety forces hiring issues right now- and not be allowed to go home until they come up with a solution. We can’t afford to have a city without adequate police protection.

Those pan-handlers sure keep me awake at night- how about you?