New look for Esrati.com

Just letting all our loyal readers know, with the advent of WordPress 4.0 our old theme wasn’t allowing comments, forced us to do a quick presto changeo to a new theme.

Good news is it’s fully responsive- so, your mobile experience should improve.

If there are any problems- or you notice anything wonky- leave a comment or drop us an email please (contact on side of page).

Thank you for your patience through the switch.

 

Incompetence of Dayton City Hall on their Street light tax

Screenshot of Dayton Streetlight assessment

I don’t even own my own home according to the city of Dayton

$6.69 was how much the Certified mail cost.

Time to prepare the letter- stuff the envelope with the 4 checks totaling $577.92 to return, had to cost another $20 in labor, paper, envelope etc.

Instead of getting their money now, they’ve turned it over to the Montgomery County Treasurer- adding additional costs- of data entry, and adding to bills- in an installment plan over the next 6 years.

Instead of cash in hand, they now get it in six payments.

All because they claim it wasn’t received by their deadline- despite being mailed in the same city 2 days before.

This, is what we call in business, STUPID.

Obviously, Finance Director C. LaShea Smith doesn’t understand net present value, or labor costs.

This is a horrendous waste of taxpayers’ money.

Just opening letters and posting the accounts would take them days.

Having a hard deadline, while they may think makes things “fair”- without an unofficial grace period, is cutting off your nose to spite your face.

And note, since none of my four assessments was over $250, they never mailed me anything.

The only reason I knew where to go to find out the amount that was due- was because they had sent my father an email with a link to the site with the amounts.

There I was amazed to find out that someone in Beavercreek owned my house.

Still incorrect: Go to http://maps.cityofdayton.org/public/SLSAPrePay/Default.aspx type in my last name and see this (screen shot above):

Voucher Link Account Number Parcel ID Parcel Location Owner Name Owner Name Cont. Owner Address Street Light District Annual Amount (Advanced Payment) Total Amount (Advanced Payment)
View Voucher 15645 R72 02702 0021 113 BONNER ST DAVID ESRATI 2130 HEDGE GATE BLVD B $37.60 $225.60
View Voucher 15652 R72 02702 0028 122 BONNER ST DAVE ESRATI 113 BONNER ST B $16.94 $101.64
View Voucher 15656 R72 02702 0033 100 BONNER ST DAVID ESRATI 113 BONNER ST B $25.07 $150.42
View Voucher 15668 R72 02702 0046 120 BONNER ST DAVE ESRATI 113 BONNER ST B $16.71 $100.26

Apparently, the city IT people are incompetent as well- after talks with someone in the treasurer’s office, they determined that the city was pulling from the wrong data field- and that on my house record, someone had transposed numbers back in 2010 and fixed all the main screens- but just not this one.

Calls to the city weren’t returned in a timely manner- and the issue is obviously still not fixed.

Ms. Smith ends her expensive letter with “We appreciate your support and apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused you.”

How about, “I’m sorry, we like to waste your tax dollars, and cost the city money, because we really don’t know what we’re doing.”

If I was a city commissioner, I’d be asking City Manager Tim Riordan about the competence of his staff. Maybe if they weren’t so busy giving money away to businesses and developers to keep them in Dayton, they wouldn’t be turning their noses up at cash being sent to them.

[update] Soon after posting this, Kerry Gray, assistant to the City Commission, called about this. He took notes to pass to the commission. He told me that only 1.7% of the properties attempted to pay in advance. Can you say #FAIL [/update]

 

When surveillance is useful

When the Dayton City Commission entertained entering into a contract for a $1,000-an-hour eye-in-the-sky surveillance system, the civil libertarians and privacy advocates came out in droves.

Never mind that there are already cameras in almost every business you visit, every ATM you use, and even mounted on many homes. In South Park we bought 2 portable HD surveillance cams to be used by neighbors who’ve had problems, and a big debate was on where they could be mounted and what they could monitor (thanks mostly to two people for whom I have very little respect).

Yet, with the shooting in Ferguson, MO, there has been a renewed call for personal video cameras for police officers, something I was talking about back in April of 2013. In the Walmart shooting, there is an outcry for the release of the store video camera footage before the Grand Jury has met. Attorney General Mike DeWine has said it shouldn’t be released before the Grand Jury meets, and for once, I’m in agreement.

Those people asking for the footage, were probably the same ones who were anti-drone cam just last year.

Last Tuesday night, I was on my motorcycle when an idiot decided to turn left and hit the rear of my bike as I tried to radically maneuver out of the way. After he hit me, as I lay on the street underneath my bike, he took off. Had the city had an eye in the sky camera, they would have been able to follow his vehicle and catch him, but we didn’t adopt that technology.

Because I was wearing proper gear, and take my riding pretty seriously, I’m one of the lucky ones who gets to walk away from a pretty bad crash. Apparently, that makes it less important for the police to solve than an accident where there is a serious injury. I went to several of the businesses nearby to see if they have footage that shows the traffic, or the accident at the corner of Brown and Wyoming- but had limited luck. Then I started checking other places along the path that they traveled to get to the point of impact- and voila- video. The insurance company is very interested in finding the guilty party, and is investigating. Not that my accident was anywhere near the same magnitude of the Boston Marathon Bombing, but, given the resources and some detective work, it’s becoming much easier to piece together enough information to solve crimes like this.

The problem is, we don’t have the police department able to do it. Our staffing is at or near an all-time low. This is one of the reasons that they were looking at an eye in the sky to begin with.

However, there is also the just plain dumb luck option too- on the way home from the hospital, I saw a car that looked a lot like the one that hit me- right around the corner from my house. Parked right in front of a friend’s house that has video cameras. Resolution enhancement like what you see on 24 or CSI isn’t really possible- but, time and place, and actions can lead directly to who did it. We’ll wait and see if the person waits for the detectives to haul them in, or if they voluntarily turn themselves in.

I understand accidents happen. I’ve been in a few others in my life, but the punk move of taking off, while a guy is on the street pinned under a motorcycle- is unforgivable in my book. That’s why I’m not going to settle down until we find out who did it.

Just as the woman who used to live in my neighborhood who was so against security cameras (until her boyfriend’s car got totaled in the middle of the night- and her neighbors’ cameras caught it on tape and solved the crime) came around, I’m starting to be a proponent of full-time surveillance.

I’m still looking for witnesses, video, photos, from the night of Sept. 2 at Wayne and Wyoming. Please contact me, or Detective Seiter at the Dayton Police Department 937-333-1359 if you have more information.

Why Historic South Park should be in your future: reasons #2438, 2439

Poster for Historic South Park in Dayton Ohio's Shakespeare production of "The Comedy of Errors"

Historic South Park has it’s own neighborhood theater.

Do your neighbors get together and throw together a play? And not just any play- Shakespeare?

Didn’t think so. Not only that- do they invite the world to see it for FREE?

Yep- you can do that tonight, tomorrow and Sunday nights-

Show: The Comedy of Errors by William Shakespeare
Director: Susan Robert
Producers: Galen Wilson, Phyllis Tonne

How To Go:
Dates: Friday-Sunday, September 5, 6, 7, 2014
Time: 8:00 P.M.
Location: South Park Green, 601 Hickory Street, Dayton
Admission: Free (donations gratefully received)
Bring a lawn chair or blanket

via The Comedy of Errors | Shakespeare in South Park | Sixth Season | Sept. 5-7 – Historic South Park.

You can park in Emerson School lot, or Hope Lutheran lot- or on the street.

And if the stodgy speaking of the Bard just ain’t your thing-

Poster for the Food Truck Shindig in Dayton Ohio's fabulous Historic South Park Neighborhood

First the Bard, then the lard- gourmet chefs on the go come to South Park

Yep, we have our own food truck Shindig & Street party on Friday Sept 20th from 4-8pm. The party will be down at Burns and Nathan one block South of Coco’s. We’ll have trucks, tunes, t-shirts and more- and the event is free, even though the food isn’t.

These community initiatives are one of the reasons why South Park’s property taxes go up. Come see what the neighborhood you wished you lived in does to keep things interesting.

Check out www.historicsouthpark.org for info on events, rentals, homes for sale and what makes South Park the best neighborhood in the State of Ohio, and a National Neighborhood of the year winner. The site, btw, is hosted pro-bono by The Next Wave, Dayton’s greatest and finest ad agency, which has its global HQ in South Park.

Note, both these fabulous posters were done by other fabulously talented South Park residents.

2014- my year of hit and runs

Last night around 9:45, just blocks from home, an idiot in a beat-up maroon sedan decided to turn left and hit the rear of my motorcycle. Thanks to the side cases on the back of my bike, proper riding gear and a lot of luck, nothing except the bike appears to be broken.

Photo of Doc Marten shoe after motorcycle accident. No damage to foot- just to the shoe

My Doc Marten had a hole in the top down to the steel toe. My foot only has a bruise.

I was on Brown Street at Wyoming- heading north, when the light turned green and I started to cross Wyoming, when the idiot in the left turn lane heading south inexplicably decided to turn left- he must have been in a hurry- because it didn’t seem like a good idea to hit the brakes, swerve the other way- nope, he just plowed into the rear of my 1996 BMW R1100RS. And then he did the dipshit move of taking off. The bike ended up on the NE corner sidewalk- spilling oil- and on top of my left foot and leg. The people who were there were all incredibly nice- checking on me- and calling 911- as I pulled my foot out from under the bike. I had on a full face helmet, a Joe Rocket Phoenix jacket, gloves, Levi’s, and steel toed Doc Martens- which now have a hole in the toe- right down to the steel.

Dayton Fire took me to Miami Valley, back-boarded and tied down. X-rays showed nothing broken- and I walked, albeit with a limp- out around 11 p.m., to be picked up my wonderful neighbor and friend, Cathy M.

I had just filled the tank at UDF- and gotten three pints of ice cream, which I hope the nice lady who tended to me on the street enjoyed.

I’m pretty sure the bike is totaled. I began searching for a new-to-me BMW on Craig’s list before I went to sleep last night. I miss my bike already. The outpouring of love and support from all my friends on FB last night was really nice. I’m probably not going to be hanging nets at the Dakota center for a few days while the leg gets back to 100%- sorry guys.

If anyone has any information about the vehicle that hit me last night- please contact the Dayton Police, 333-COPS.

  • Another angle on the bruised boxter
    Another angle on the bruised boxter
  • a bruised boxter engine
    a bruised boxter engine
  • Front fairing damage
    Front fairing damage
  • Where the bag got torn off
    Where the bag got torn off

Taxi stupidity in Dayton, Ohio. The Uber war is about to start

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 yourself and a friend easily- Uber handles all the financial transactions, and takes a cut.

If the Uber car is traveling at a speed greater than 11 m.p.h.,  the price is calculated on the basis of distance. Otherwise, the price is calculated on time. 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 whether 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. New York 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 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-days-a-week service from all cab companies. It also requires a 24-hour, seven-day 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.

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 a.m. 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 pick up 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 its flabby muscles and tickets the first Uber driver and see what starts to happen.

A racino isn’t economic development

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

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

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.

13 months later- City of Dayton Discovers Nextdoor.com

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….