Just call me Dr. Esrati, Superintendent of the future

I don’t know Dr. David Estrop. He’s been a superintendent in three different school districts, with his last stop in Springfield, before he became a city commissioner.

Now, that’s he’s not involved in the schools, he’s publishing his prescription for urban districts on the Dayton Daily news editorial page. The only problem? It reads like he just discovered Esrati.com and ideas I was talking about as far back as 1993. Here’s his mini-plan:

In Ohio, we have largely been unable to change this relationship between poverty and achievement.

So, since we cannot make every student, school and/or school district wealthy, what can we do? Well, here is my recommended list of educational reforms: 1. All-day kindergarten: I suspect most think we have all-day kindergarten, and we do in most communities. However, the state only financially supports kindergarten for a half of day. We need to fix this.

2. Public pre-school programs: Early intervention will ultimately pay off for everyone. However, I would also suggest that public pre-school programs funded by the state be mandatory for any school or district that is not achieving at the desired level.

3. Extended school year: When students are provided with the time and resources they need, they can catch up and stay with their peers. I would recommend mandatory extended school year programs for all schools and districts that are not achieving at the desired level.

4. Extended school day: Extended school days should not be more of the same of the regular school day, but should provide our children with safe environments where they can have skills reinforced and opportunities explored.

Some will argue these recommendations would not treat all schools and school districts the same, and they would be correct.

But not all students, schools and/or districts are the same. Some have greater needs and left unaddressed, the results for students, schools and communities facing substantial poverty will remain unchanged. It is time to recognize and address the need for additional time and opportunities for some districts.

As someone once noted, “Nothing is so unequal as the equal treatment of unequals.” One size does not fit all, and that would be true for these reforms.

Source: Where do we go from here with our schools? – Dayton Daily News

Friends of mine who have superintendents licenses aren’t impressed. PhD’s are supposed to cite their references. But, since Estrop didn’t- we’ll go back and look at where some of his ideas came from.

When I first ran for Mayor and City Commission back in 1993, I proposed year round schools and 24 hour subsidized public daycare. Year round, because working parents can’t magically stop working to take care of kids- and the “summer slide” is real. And, subsidized daycare because if you can’t provide enough high paying jobs- the choice between working and spending most of your income on child care while you work just doesn’t work. I figured it would help bring jobs to the community- for call centers, and low skill manufacturing and distribution warehouse work (to go with Emery Air Freight which was still a thing). I talked about subsidized day care many other times, like in 2007: City-run day care as an economic development essential? and 2008 Should Dayton be investing in child care?

But, the good Dr. only thinks pre-school and kindergarten matter.
Then we come to a longer school day and a longer school year. I put both of those in the video “There ain’t no “F” in Dayton” as well as in this post: A plan for the Dayton Public Schools and the post with the video: There ain’t no “F” in Dayton: Time for DPS to get serious

Of course, since half the people read (like you) and the rest watch TV- I made this video:

Which has about 1200 views on YouTube and double that on Facebook (2700). Of course, since the Dayton Day-old newsless refuses to publish my name or mention me unless absolutely unavoidable, you’d never see my ideas shared.

The reality is, the State Superintendent, the State Legislature, the Governor all don’t want to really deal with the problems at DPS which is why they won’t be taking it over despite the performance drops under this board of education and their less than super superintendent.

There is no easy way to undo poverty other than to lift people out of it through support systems that actually work. Removing costs of child care, providing safe environments for kids to be nurtured instead of drilled on test taking skills and even making RTA free- to make our workforce mobile, will start to allow poor people to have a chance at escaping poverty and for their kids to actually want to go to school.

Dr. Estrop may have a plan, but it wasn’t his, nor was it as comprehensive as mine.

Where’s my doctorate please?

“Esrati is a racist” and 1001 other reasons not to vote for me

According to a few vocal Facebook provocateurs, I’m now a racist. Of course I am. I’ve always said I was. You can quote me on this, “I’m a racist. I hate stupid people. But, I hate them all equally.” The funny thing is they come in all body types, skin colors, religious persuasions. Stupidity is curable- it just requires education. And remember, this is the country that elected a reality tv host to the presidency. So, let’s get down to their proof of why I’m a racist.

Wednesday June 12 I had a dilemma, stay home and watch the St. Louis Blues win the Stanley Cup for the first time, or see Dave Chappelle at the Schuster. Since I made a big donation to WYSO for floor tickets- and I could Tivo the cup- I went to see my “friend” Dave. Now, the reason I call him a friend is because I sat at a mutual friends house one night and almost had Chappelle ready to run against Mike Turner to be the Congressman from Ohio 10. That mutual friend: Brian Higgins (more on that later).

I didn’t enjoy Dave’s show as much as I’d hoped. He did what he does- provocatively push boundaries. He talked about child molesters, the me-too movement, abortion, and censorship on TV. He ended the show telling everyone if they run into him in the grocery store- the show didn’t constitute the values of WYSO- or even his own.

I get home- and watch the end of the Blues blowout of the Bruins and get to see the hoisting of the cup. NBC didn’t have a delay on- and the cameras full on caught multiple players screaming FUCK YEAH or FUCKING A or any number of combinations of the F word.

I’ve always had a problem with the FCC rules about censorship on broadcast television. We think it’s ok to show people getting shot in shows every ten minutes- (blood and actual damage must not be too real btw) but we can’t show a female nipple or the world will end. George Carlin became famous for the 7 words you can’t say on television.

Dave Chappelle talked about it just a few hours before. I posted the following on FB.

This has been picked up on FB by a few miscreants to now say that I’m a racist, that I use the “N” word. For the record, I’m the asshole honky who tells kids on the basketball court that the use of that word is inappropriate. I gave up trying to question it at the barbershop I’ve been going to for the last half-dozen years- Fresh 2 Def on W. Third. I get the lecture about the use of the word “Nigga” vs “Nigger” – as if that matters. I just remember watching moms in Rocky River spit on black hockey players through the fence (they were too cheap to have glass on the boards) and call them the N word when I was in high school.

Now, I’m also lucky enough to have a fan club on Facebook who have a page “Fuck You David Esrati” that started back around 2016. The main contributors are the two library guards who decided to throw me out of the library for taking pictures. One lost his job over it. The FU page has often gone after me for being friends with Higgins. Many of the people who used to work at his now defunct restaurant, Sidebar, still vilify me for a post on this site as he was closing down. Somehow, this page is not deemed “harassment” by facebook- and despite me being a candidate for public office, who has to sign in blood to have a political page, no one is forced to identify themselves as the actual owner of the page (hint- this is how the Russians influence elections in our country). But, it’s free speech- and besides- there’s a FU Mark Zuckerberg page – so I must be doing something right.

Now, to the people who think I’m the racist and unfit for public office, I’m the one who asked the DOJ attorney if he only prosecuted black males – when he hoisted up Joey Williams, Clayton Luckie and Roshawn Winburn on “public corruption charges” back in April. Yes, they also indicted Brian Higgins, my friend- but, on what is normally a civil matter. Does that sound like a question a racist asks in front of every news organization in town- and directly to the DOJ and FBI officials who claim Dayton has a “culture of corruption” – yet they only trot out black men.

Also in this thread on Facebook, one of the accusers, Tyrone Martin, (who identifies himself as Tyrone X and a member of the Nation of Islam) wants to know if I’m a Jew and support “Isreal” – and accuses me of having “two masters.” Last I heard that accusation tossed around in politics – it was questioning if JFK, a Catholic, would serve the pope or the US.

Here’s some prime back and forths:

Tyrone Martin David Esrati how do we know you will represent us and not be the same as everyone else and whose interest are you going to cater to when you have connections with other governments. Will you put America and Black people interest above those of the ADL and the Zionist”

David Esrati Tyrone Martin Leave the “ADL and the Zionest” out of it. I think I’ve put America and Dayton first. I’m a veteran. I’ve been fighting the “Monarchy of Montgomery County” for the last 25 years. I’ve hung basketball nets for kids. I’ve been a big brother. I’m a decent guy- who won’t smile at you and lie to your face. And- I know what the problems are in the neighborhoods- and have actually helped a neighborhood out of poverty. You want to vote for the party people- you’ll get more of what you’ve had for the last 30 years.

Tyrone Martin David Esrati Im sorry Sir but I will not leave them out of it because they have alot to do with politics in the United States. Do you Support Isreal?

David Esrati Tyrone Martin They have nothing to do with the city of Dayton…

Tyrone Martin David Esrati a Man cannot serve 2 masters

David Esrati Has nothing to do with Dayton – or Dayton politics. I do believe Israel is a country and has a right to exist. If you don’t- leave the US and hand it over to the Indians who we stole it from. As to your “2 masters” bullshit- they said the same thing about John F. Kennedy and the Pope.

Tyrone Martin David Esrati I believe they have the right to exist also. I just want to know where your loyalty lies. I believe you have a farther reaching goal than the Commission Seat a d I must tell you that your words has not been encouraging to me to believe that you stand for us. I read some of your blogs and also saw some of speeches. From a quick study of you I can tell that you are trying to play a strategic game . No no no no no no no no

David Esrati Tyrone Martin That’s a pretty long strategic game considering I first ran in 1993….

 Tyrone, won’t let go- and thinks I’m a racist. A few others follow along in this post:

Look, if you want to talk about me being disrespectful to black folk, all you have to do is go look at my Youtube channel or this site to find where I told a black preacher in his own house of worship “Fuck you” as he interrupted me 3x in :30 seconds and then shut the mic off; Disrespect breeds disrespect.

Let’s be clear, I don’t mince words and I don’t hide. I also respond. 24 hours after the “West Dayton Democratic Club” posted these loaded questions on FB- I’m the only candidate who has responded:

Here are the full list of questions:

Commissioner Chris Shaw Why did you vote to split the money from the Waste Management Settlement with Northwest Dayton when the Southwest is impacted the most by the plant? Northwest is most impacted by the God Sam closing, but Premier Health should be held responsible for that. There is no room to divert resources from Southwest or Innerwest.

Matt Joseph: You have been essentially a one issue commissioner, do you have any plans to expand your platform? While Immigrant integration is a worthy cause, native Daytonians have been suffering from economic and social deterioration for decades. The biggest companies in Dayton do not pay any taxes as they claim to be non-profit. Tax breaks and abatements are consistently given to major developers, robbing resources from the Daytonians that need it it the most. What is your plan to improve the Dayton economy?

Shenise Turner-Sloss for Dayton City Commission: Kids are getting shot and dying on the Westside. What is your plan to address gun violence? You’ve standed strong with advocates for the prairie, but alot of Daytonians have much bigger concerns.

David Esrati: You have repeatedly dodged questions about you plans for the Westside. You get credit for the benevolent act of hanging basketball nets, but it’s asinine to believe that earns you votes from Westside residents. What will you do differently than the incumbent candidates that will substantially benefit the Southwest, Innerwest and Northwest side of Dayton?

Commissioners and candidates please respond. Residents please feel free to comment like and share to keep family and friends informed.

Of course, I’m the only one with websites, a youtube channel- and plenty of posts on what to do. Apparently, hanging free basketball nets for 5 years is asinine- I should have put up more yard signs.

Now, the biggest shocker of all. This “racist” is working just as hard to elect Shenise Turner Sloss as he is working to get himself elected. We’re not running as a “team” because we both saw that it didn’t work with her and Darryl- and because, frankly- Shenise is much too nice to suffer the kinds of crap that’s thrown my way. To be honest- Chris Shaw and Matt Joseph are also incredibly nice people- I just don’t think either of them is serving the people by being yes men to Nan and her “culture of corruption.”

The reality is- it takes three votes on the Dayton City Commission, and if you elect Shenise without me- it’s still a 3-2 majority of the “Monarchy of Montgomery County” and the voters/residents/taxpayers will still be screwed by people who think it’s ok to ignore 50 people who come to the podium week after week about a dirty deal they did behind closed doors.

So when you see a Shenise “For the People” T-shirt on me, know that I, the “racist” support her and printed the shirt. When you see a sign for her in my front yard, I support her- and printed the sign. When you go to her website: www.shenisefordayton.com know that I host and built it. And when you see her amazing video that’s coming soon- yep- same…

Using the “N-word” is disrespectful- and I don’t do it. Never have. Never will. But, if you want a reason not to vote for me, make it a good one. Because your other choices will smile at you while bending you over and screwing you where the sun doesn’t shine- and have for as long as I’ve lived in Dayton.

Need to see it? Go look at the area in front of Chris Shaw’s business on Germantown. Then go look at my street where my house and office are. You choose which person you think can give West Dayton a chance- and know, that when I moved onto Bonner in 1986- this street was just as ugly as his street.

The election is November 5, 2019. There are four candidates, you have two votes for two seats. The future of Dayton is in your hands.

Equal Opportunity Economic Development

This is a primary goal for my first year as a Dayton City Commissioner. It is a framework of an idea. Your input is welcome in the comments (On the blog- not on Facebook please).

You want to open a bar in Dayton. You go and buy an old building that needs a total renovation, you go into debt to finance the construction work, you then open the business with no guarantee of success, You’ve never run a bar.  Banks don’t treat you well. You open up, already deep into debt, and build a thriving business. You took a risk, and it paid off.

A few years later, some “developer” from out of town comes to Dayton. He want’s to open a bar. He already has a bar. You get a building given to you for $10. Banks line up to give you low-interest money, the government gives you tax breaks and grants. They throw in a huge extra piece of real estate for free. You open up and build a thriving business- you took minimal risk and it paid off. The government money came out of the pockets of the poorest people in the region. The politicians pat themselves on the back- and get money put into their campaign funds.

Did I mention the taxpayers paid $450K for that building that the politicians gave away? Did I mention this is a true story in Dayton Ohio that gets repeated over and over?

This is an example of NOT equal opportunity economic development. We can cite many examples, the Fairgrounds project being one of the biggest. How did the two known developers who submitted proposals feel when they were rejected out of hand- and then the property was handed off to Premier Health and the University of Dayton for a fraction of the cost- without a plan in sight? Same problem. Same payola at play.

The final nail in the coffin on each of these deals? After the anointed no-risk taking “developer” gets done, the surrounding neighbors then get saddled with a larger tax bill because “their property is now worth more.” The new development was paid for by the neighbors, and then they have to pay more because their “value” went up? So you have to pay twice? All the while the “developer” has a 15 year tax abatement? Do you see the absurdity of this?

There has to be a set of rules that level the playing field.

Enter, the Esrati plan for “Equal Opportunity Economic Development®.”

Tax dollars are for the public good- not individual gains. We pay taxes for public services, things essential to the community. If you are a “non-profit” we can make a donation to you ourselves- we shouldn’t have our tax dollars being given to you- especially if your CEO or Basketball Coach makes more than a million a year (Premier Health, UD, Caresource- I’m talking to you). We don’t care how many employees you have that contribute tax dollars to our city through taxation without representation- you don’t get to make that argument while we have a city besieged by poverty, a wealth gap that is defined by racism going back a century. And, on top of that, you don’t get to have a private police department to protect your property while we can’t afford to staff our own with the property tax dollars that are left over after all the other businesses that paid taxes left town (GM, NCR, Mead, Reynolds and Reynolds being prime examples). Those “for profit businesses” couldn’t afford to support your tax exemptions so they left- often enticed by other better run cities that didn’t work on a pay to play basis (now known as the “culture of corruption” in Dayton).

The poor aren’t supposed to support the rich getting richer- and it’s a bad idea because eventually, there are riots and no army of police can stop what happens. It is in the best interest of the wealthy that they do their part in making sure all hope isn’t lost. To protect those who struggle every day.

The first rule of Equal Opportunity Economic Development® is that my neighbor no longer affects my property value. Appraisers of Dayton, your fraudulent profession that has lead to redlining and racist lending is done. There will be no appraisals based on thy neighbors property anymore- not for lending and not for tax purposes. This is to undo decades of injustice. When most of the city is listed by the Small Business Administration as a Historically Underutilized Business Zone (HUBzone) eligible for special preferences due to past practices you have a problem.

Appraisals will only be allowed based on a simple formula of square feet of building, lot size, and condition of building, times a formula for renovation based on condition times square feet. The condition will be rated on a 6 step scale.

  1. Needs total renovation, structural issues. No mechanicals, utility hook ups, unsound envelope. Vacant for at least 5 years.
  2. Vacant, sound envelope, structurally adaptable, outdated mechanicals, needs to be brought to current code for return to inventory.
  3. Occupied, poor condition, needs major work to bring to code/safe habitable market rate value.
  4. Occupied, servicable as is, changes are for cosmetic reasons, or change in use.
  5. Occupied- no major changes needed to be sold and used in some capacity. Exterior needs cosmetic help.
  6. Sound, functional, cosmetically respectable. Saleable.

The cost of renovation will be figured on a formula per square foot, as will the value of the property based on square foot by condition.

The other value is per square foot by type of space: residential, retail, commercial, industrial, agricultural, non-profit.

And here’s a kicker: if the CEO makes more than 10x the average wage of their employees, or any employee makes below a living wage (eligible for public assistance) they are not eligible for any tax breaks, grants, assistance. This can be verified by tax rolls. Non-profits, CEO can’t make more than 5x.

Also- if the average wage is more than 10x the average wage in the city of Dayton, the organization can’t claim non-profit status for taxes or benefits.

Here is the second part of real estate valuation, when it comes to your investment, the value is what you paid for it in an arms length transaction (ie- fair market price at the time- from someone not related). That value will not change for the length of time you own the home no matter what happens to your neighbors property. It will be adjusted for current value based on the inflation rate every three years automatically, but never more than 3% at a time. No longer will your neighbors loss or gain rule your destiny. Gentrification should be able to benefit the poor- not tax them out of their investments and their homes. No longer will we penalize people for fixing up their homes by taxing them more. It’s counter-productive and has lead to the disastrous state of affairs we’re in now.

The Bankers Dilemma

When any of us little folks get a judgement against a debtor, we’re forced to fend for ourselves in collection. Banks have had the special privilege of having the Sheriff forcibly remove people from homes when payments aren’t made. It’s time to stop having the Sheriff be the bad guy for the banks bad business decisions. And it’s time that their bad business decision stops costing the neighbors.

Right now, vacating a property in Dayton almost instantly guarantees a $50K drop in the value of the neighbors property because of our inability to protect private property from scrappers. (See lack of police due to private police by rich institutions above). This has to stop. Just as the sheriff can kick people out- the bank has to take responsibility for keeping the property in at least the same condition it was when the former tenants were in it. Secure, habitable, intact, insured and able to be occupied. A complete inventory of the property will be made by the sheriff upon emptying the home, and unless the bank has tenants in the property within 30 days, they will be assessed a monthly fee of at least $100 a month or 10% of the previous mortgage to cover monthly inspections to make sure the property is secure, maintained and not depreciating- or that they have made arrangements to pay an immediate neighbor to manage the property and maintain it. If the property hasn’t been re-occupied within 180 days, the neighbors will have the right to negotiate acquisition for no more than the outstanding balance at the time of vacation. If the immediate neighbors don’t take the offer, the property must be put up for auction, with anyone owning well maintained property within 1000 feet getting the opportunity to buy it at a 10% discount over the final price.

(I made this video in 2012. The houses that were filmed inside and out- have been fixed up and are occupied, without government help).

Also- any questions of title on any property seized by foreclosure will be null and void after a foreclosure.

As to distressed properties, the rules need to be thrown out the window in Dayton. Zombie deeds, shell company owners that can’t be located, tax sales, all need to be revised. There is a house across the street from me that has been sitting vacant for over a decade, that someone bought- rehabbed, and can’t sell because a company that bought some junk paper claims a lien for a full amount- without any documentation of any payments. The neighbor who did the work, who saved a potential demolition and loss of value- is getting jerked around. In most neighborhoods, buildings like this- never come back. Here, because of historic zoning and the “South Park Renaissance” people are willing to invest because the return is there. Not so in Five Oaks where Mayor Nan lives.

Any home that has been vacant for over a year, has a failing envelope (windows, doors, roof, siding, gutters) and has no sign listing for sale with contact information, should be able to be bought by an investor who has already made an investment and maintains property in the neighborhood first, or in the city second. They will have to meet strict timelines to seal and secure any purchase, with complete occupancy ready construction done within a year for single family homes and at least one unit in multi-family homes. They will never be taxed on more than the property purchase price for the length of time they own the building and keep it in good repair. However, if the renovation is used to receive Section 8 assistance, HEAP funds or other housing/utility assistance, the value will be determined to be 10% of the annual rents received or the purchase price, whichever is higher. This is because they are getting assistance from the taxpayers to keep it occupied.

Bankers will no longer want to lend in Dayton Ohio because of these additional conditions is the argument that you will hear. That’s fine. There are private investment funds called REITS (Real Estate Investment Trusts) that will be happy to invest- because along with the HUBzone status- we’re also an “Opportunity Zone”- where they can invest and dodge taxes on their profits from sales of other real estate holdings that profited greatly. When you buy a home in DC for $400K and sell it for $1.7M- you are normally taxed on the change in value, less what you buy your next property for. So if you leave DC and come to Dayton, and buy a nice Oakwood home for $700K the remaining $600K that you would be taxed on, can be invested in Dayton Opportunity Zones and protected – and at the end of 10 years, you no longer are liable for the rise in value from your last home sale. The money you make on the investment in Dayton is taxed as ordinary income, for those 10 years, and if you chose to sell afterward, it’s not a capital gain. Sorry bankers.

The Goal is Reinvestment

Currently, the goal of “Economic Development” seems to be “job creation” and construction. The new Equal Opportunity Economic Development® is to encourage reinvestment by existing owners and protection of new owners investment. No longer will tax breaks be given for promises- tax breaks will be earned by actions. Need an example of failed promises? Look at the Gettysburg Kroger store the city funded with a 20 year tax break, after the tax break expired, they left. That, and the “Wayne Avenue Kroger” that never materialized were nothing but corporate welfare- being paid by the poorest to support the wealthy.

If you buy a property in the opportunity zone that is in disrepair and put it back on the market- you will not be taxed on the capital gains if the money isn’t being protected from a previous sale (in that case, you have to hold it for 10 years). You will be rewarded for the sale, and the new owner will pay taxes based on the purchase price. The neighbors tax values won’t change, and they will benefit from their foresight and good investment. They will be rewarded for sticking through the bad mismanagement by past governments. There will not be people like my friends parents who built a home in Westwood in 1963 for $20K who now still have a $20K house, despite taking good care of it.

Tax dollars will be spent on providing parks and rec, street maintenance, public safety, marketing the opportunities, public schools, programs that benefit all, instead of a few.

Any project labeled for the public good- that is to receive tax investment- the opportunity must be widely posted, open to multiple bidders, all with the same opportunities to invest and all with the same rules. It must also demonstrate a long lasting benefit to the community- outside of increased tax collection. And, any bidder, who has already invested within the city and has a proven track record of rehabbing or maintaining quality investments, will be given preference within 10% of the best bid.

We will also recognize federal standards for minority participation not just for women owned or minority owned businesses but also to veteran, service disabled veteran owned and HUBzone qualified businesses. 8A firms will NOT be recognized by the city for participation.

A Focus on Small Business

One last thing, I had to fight tooth and nail to open a small ad agency in the middle of South Park. The building had been vacant for over 8 years when I bought it and the zoning had “reverted” to R-1 single family residential even though it was always intended to be a corner store (it was a church for a minute after WWII). Our zoning laws are archaic and creating a dependence on cars and parking, homogeneity and conformance. It’s too hard to open up a neighborhood coffee shop (both Ghostlight and Wholly Grounds took over a year to open) and yet both have been amazing additions. My office has brought people into South Park that never would have come before. A printing rep bought a home that had been burned down just as it was completing its first return from the grave- only to have risen again to become her home. A military couple loved my place- and ended up investing in 4 other properties for themselves and his parents bought another. That wouldn’t have happened without my “non-conforming” use.

It’s time to remove all parking requirements, use restrictions on small storefronts in the city and return the premise of walkable residential neighborhoods with community gathering spots on every other corner. A corner bar is as much the neighborhoods as it is the owners, yet, we fight them for the wrong reasons. Look at the bars in German Village in Columbus- they were the bedrock of the revival.

Modern building codes are great, as is ADA compatibility, however, it’s time to stop allowing new rules to invalidate history- at least until the entire community isn’t undervalued by the passage of time. Small business has been and always will be the bedrock of capitalism and the American dream. It’s our job to encourage it and enrich our community via small dreams, one person and one building at a time. We have to rely on ourselves and our smarts- not on the generosity of either big companies or charity or the taxpayers.

If you have suggestions, revisions, or ways to improve this plan, please share in the comments on this post (not facebook). Thank you.

 

Esrati files appeal to Ohio Supreme Court over legality of “Information Sessions”

Judge Richard Skelton said the School closing task force was a public body and subject to the Ohio Sunshine Laws- AKA Open Meetings Act covered in ORC 121.22

Then he and the 2nd district court of appeals claimed the task force, which had already violated the OMA multiple times, was perfectly legal to meet behind closed doors for a bus tour of schools that the district was considering closing. They threw out my case saying I failed to prove “deliberations” were taking place in a meeting that I wasn’t allowed into.

They call the closed door session an “Information Session”- something that’s not mentioned in the ORC- except when discussing solid waste facilities. Even the 250 page Sunshine law handbook says the following:

“More importantly, the Ohio Supreme Court has not ruled on whether “investigative and informational” gatherings are or are not “meetings.” Consequently, public bodies should seek guidance from their legal counsel about how such gatherings are viewed by the court of appeals in their district before convening this kind of private gathering as other than a regular or special meeting.”

Pg. 94, 2017, Sunshine Laws Manual.

Some have said the courts ruled against me- just to create a test case. The sad reality is the Ohio Supreme Court accepts about 6% of civil cases that it receives.

I filed my timely appeal on Monday, June 17, 2019.

We won’t know for a few months if it is accepted or not. Then the real fun begins, as I’d have to represent myself in front of the court.

Here’s the filing- it’s written in plain language- so even lawyers and judges should be able to understand it…

  1. EXPLANATION OF WHY THIS IS A CASE OF GREAT GENERAL INTEREST

Transparency in government will end if an “information session” is granted legitimacy by the actions of the courts in this case. Gone are all the protections of Ohio’s Open Meetings Act, alternatively known as part of the Ohio Sunshine Laws and defined by statute ORC 121.22

A state that allows public bodies to meet, at will, in private, to discuss the public’s business is opening the doors to corruption, pay-to-play politics and will ultimately destroy the public’s trust in government.

Even though the existing statute is clear on what government business can be conducted behind closed doors, The Second District Court of Appeals and the trial court have by their actions in this case created a new class of meeting, an “information session.” These courts have placed the burden of proof upon the general public if a meeting that they can’t observe broke their new “information session” rules- which amount to “did deliberations take place” behind closed doors.

There is no mention of what constitutes a “deliberation” nor is a “deliberation” something that can be proved by discussion, questions, or even a wink. US Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas sat through 10 years of hearings without asking a question, yet, no judge in the country would claim he wasn’t deliberating.

The OMA is different than any other law in that it comes with a 250-page handbook on how it is to be applied, and every elected official is required to take a class to learn it. There is no mention of an information session in the handbook nor in statute.

The handbook does contain this: “More importantly, the Ohio Supreme Court has not ruled on whether “investigative and informational” gatherings are or are not “meetings.” Consequently, public bodies should seek guidance from their legal counsel about how such gatherings are viewed by the court of appeals in their district before convening this kind of private gathering as other than a regular or special meeting.”

Pg. 94, 2017, Sunshine Laws Manual.

If the Supreme Court doesn’t take this appeal, there will be no more need for the handbook or the OMA, since any public body can meet, in private, without observation and call the meeting an “information session.” This case is a perfect example of what happens when presumed OMA exceptions are big enough to drive a bus through.

  1. STATEMENT OF THE CASE AND FACTS

This appeal is before this Court from 2nd District Court of Appeals, from a decision and entry of 2 May 2019. The court rejected the Appellant, David Esrati’s, application for reconsideration of their March 22, 2019 opinion in Esrati v. Dayton City Commission, 2nd Dist. Montgomery No. 28062.  2019-Ohio-1021. The Court limited itself to the validity of the 3.5 hour private bus tour a schools facilities task force conducted that excluded Mr. Esrati and his video camera on Tuesday, Feb 6, 2018. Both courts refused to review the submitted video evidence in their deliberations.

All other arguments of Mr. Esrati’s initial case were dismissed by the trial court and the appeals court, which pertained to proper notification, minutes, and threats to keep the meeting closed. The trial court was focused on the form of injunction required- namely a TRO vs an injunction by the trial court.

Considering this law comes with a handbook to help the layman enforce it- splitting hairs on the type of injunction required counters the spirit of both the law and the handbook. The video evidence clearly showed violations requiring an injunction to be issued.

The trial court made one correct ruling: On March 19, 2018 the trial court ruled that the task force was a public body subject to O.R.C. 121.22.

Yet even though the 2nd District Court of Appeals clearly found fault with the defense and cited obvious violations of the requirements for openness, the court twice refused (the appeal and a motion to reconsider) to overturn the July 11, 2018 decision and judgment entry granting the motion for summary judgment which dismissed the action. How there can’t be a finding against this task force when the appeals court cites plaintiff’s evidence that showed an obvious OMA violation in their decision:

{¶ 30} As a final matter, we note that Ex. 3 includes a discussion between Dr. Lolli and the DPS Director of Media and Public Relations in which the Media Director stated that sending information to every task member by phone (“i.e., conference calls”) would ensure that “there won’t be any public records of that, either.” To the extent this implies that the Open Meetings Act could be circumvented by this avenue, we note that the Supreme Court of Ohio made the following comments in White v. King, 147 Ohio St.3d 74, 2016-Ohio-2770, 60 N.E.3d 1234: Nothing in the plain language of R.C. 121.22(B)(2) expressly mandates that a “meeting” occur face to face., R.C. 121.22 prohibits any private prearranged discussion of public business by a majority of the members of a public body regardless of whether the discussion occurs face to face, telephonically, by video conference, or electronically by e-mail, text, tweet, or other form of communication.

* * *

* * * Allowing public bodies to avoid the requirements of the Open Meetings Act by discussing public business via serial electronic communications subverts the purpose of the act.

(Emphasis sic.) Id. at ¶ 15 and 18.

This was clear evidence that the law was broken, and required the trial court to file an injunction:

From ORC 121.22

(I)

(1) Any person may bring an action to enforce this section. An action under division (I)(1) of this section shall be brought within two years after the date of the alleged violation or threatened violation. Upon proof of a violation or threatened violation of this section in an action brought by any person, the court of common pleas shall issue an injunction to compel the members of the public body to comply with its provisions.

The duty of the courts is to issue an injunction when proof of a violation is presented. No injunction was granted. Instead, the Appeals court still insisted that evidence they cited (see {¶ 30} above) and the video of the tour including multiple refusals of entry- without any mention of it being an “information session” are not enough to rule in the plaintiff’s favor,  and that this case boils down to the following:

{¶ 20} Consequently, the issue is whether the Task Force engaged in deliberations during the bus tour that would make any rule, resolution, or formal act of the Board resulting from the bus tour invalid under R.C. 121.22(H). As noted, the trial court denied the motion for preliminary injunction because Esrati failed to present evidence that deliberations occurred. The court applied the same reasoning in its summary judgment decision, noting that Esrati did not present any further evidence in opposing summary judgment.

The plaintiff is not required by ORC 121.22 to prove that deliberations occur in a meeting of a public body for it to meet the requirements of a public meeting. This meeting was pre-arranged, to conduct deliberations upon official business which must be done “only in open meetings unless the subject matter is specifically excepted by law.”

This task force was not conducting a meeting about something that was “specifically excepted by law.”

Plaintiff/appellant timely appealed the appeals court’s decision on June 17, 2019.

III. ARGUMENT IN SUPPORT OF PROPOSITIONS OF LAW

Proposition of Law No 1.

The Open Meetings Act is a special law, that shouldn’t require a law degree to enforce.

In my original filing:

  • Because the law can be difficult for common citizens to apply, the State of Ohio has provided a handbook in common language expressing the intent of the law and before they jump into legalistic lingo, quote the founders of our country who used clearer language: “The liberties of a people never were, nor ever will be, secure, when rulers may be concealed from them… [T}o cover with the veil of secrecy the common routines of business, is an abomination in the eyes of every intelligent man.” Patrick Henry
    ~see State of Ohio Sunshine Laws Manual http://www.ohioattorneygeneral.gov/Files/Publications-Files/Publications-for-Legal/Sunshine-Law-Publications/Sunshine-Laws-Manual.aspx

The OMA is constructed to protect the right of the public to have the same information as the public body in evaluating public decisions with clear exemptions.

The purposes of the Ohio Open Meetings Act include: (i) ensuring openness and accountability in government; (ii) affording citizens the maximum opportunity to observe the conducting of public business by public bodies; and (iii) affording the accountability of public officials.

It is clear in this case, that the task force met in a way as to make sure the public had no way to review the process involved in the closing of Valerie School and the move of the District HQ across the street to HQ 2.

Proposition of Law No 2.

The words information session, had they been meant to be an exception to the plain language, well documented rules of ORC 121.22, would appear in the ORC relating to governmental meetings. They do not, except in the ORC 3734.05 which governs the licensing requirements for a solid waste facility. The average citizen should have full access to the law, without having to be versed in court cases where exceptions were somehow granted to allow this kind of meeting.

This is why this filing is brief, and does not hide the definition of ORC 121.22 with citations to multiple court cases that the average citizen wouldn’t find upon examination of published law and the handbook.

Proposition of Law No 3.

“Can we assume the unobserved world functions the same as the observed world? – e.g., “does observation affect outcome?

It would seem that the entire purpose of ORC 121.22 and its specified legal exclusions is because legislators decided that the public’s business should be conducted in public. It made these rules and provided a handbook because the act of observation is a check and balance on the power we vest in elected officials in their duties.

To remove the rights of the public to observe, for any reason at all, should have a sound and unquestionable justification that provides some sort of supported logic. This is why ORC 121.22 clearly stipulates exclusions. There is no additional option for any exclusion or provision for an “information session.”

“the Open Meetings Act is intended to be read broadly in favor of openness.”
Pg 88 2017, Sunshine Laws Manual.

IV CONCLUSION

If this decision is allowed to stand and “information sessions” are now legitimate meetings that can be held behind closed doors, there is no reason to have any of the other rules about when and where a meeting can be held in private.

The real question for the Supreme Court is what is the difference between what something is, and how it appears? When a public body meets outside of the view of the public, the law is very clear- it is a violation. From round robins, to polling, to telephone calls, to text messaging among members of a public body, these have all been declared violations of ORC 121.22 How, a public body can meet to evaluate school buildings for closure with information presented behind closed doors can somehow be a valid excluded meeting fails every test stated on ORC 121.22 and creates a dangerous precedent. For public bodies to comply, these three words are critical “trust but verify” and without public observation, the verify is impossible.

This case presents questions of great general interest. Jurisdiction should be accepted over each proposition of law.

If you don’t remember the details of this case- this video sums it up pretty well:

The post tornado housing crisis isn’t a new crisis. Revisiting low cost housing options in Dayton

A few months ago, a community activist put an amazing house in Dayton View up for sale- for free. You just had to have the wherewithal to rehab it and live in it. There are a bunch of really grand homes in that area- including one at Broadway and Yale that has been saved and lost a few times- including a round as a “Designer Show Case” home.

When you are giving away historically significant mansions for lack of $200K to rehab- there is something seriously wrong- considering a home like that in any successful city would be worth a million.

But- that’s the high end of the disastrous housing situation in Dayton. The low end is the one that’s being taxed right now- as the memorial day tornado tore through low-income housing and displaced a lot of people who were just getting by. Kelly Avenue had a whole street of row-house apartments get destroyed by the EF-4 twister- and now the city has condemned them– without realizing that there aren’t places for them to move into. Rents of $300-$500 a month are hard to find- and even if they could, where is the deposit and the first months rent going to come from? Most didn’t have renters insurance. The only thing left standing intact? The gang mailbox. The rest of the street- destroyed.

The mail would still come to Kelly Avenue- even if there wasn’t anything left.

Dayton has systemically eliminated affordable housing and pushed poor people into public housing – which we’ve also been reducing. My neighborhood housing project, Cliborne Manor, was leveled a few years ago- despite being some of the newest construction in South Park (a rehabarama in the late nineties built a few infill homes). Is it a war on poor people? Is it a systemic attack on people without a voice? Do we have a real plan to provide affordable housing- and to move people out of poverty or homelessness?

For an answer, I look over to the neighborhood directly East of my neighborhood- Twin Towers. There, East End Community Services has been battling to create a community that can help people lift themselves out of poverty- through a whole set of “wrap-around services” and subsidized housing. They have brand new 4 bedroom homes that you can rent to own- in 15 years, and they are still having a hard time keeping the homes full thanks to all kinds of restrictions on income.

The problem is that not everyone needs a whole house. With a house come maintenance costs, utility costs, insurance costs and then the furnishings. What people need is affordable housing options that provide for mobility- both economic and physical. After World War II, American faced a huge influx of soldiers returning who needed housing- and we met the challenge through SRO housing- a type of housing that is mostly illegal in Dayton- unless you are a rich UD student and paying the university.

SRO stands for single room occupancy- and after the war, this was a common practice. A furnished room would rent by the week. It had everything you needed to live- a bed, a chair, linens that were changed once a week, a closet and maybe a sink and a hot plate. Some would be luxurious and have their own toilet too, but the shower was usually a shared space at the end of the hall. There may also be a shared kitchen available. Now, we insist that more than 3 un-related people can’t cohabit in the same building. We have rules about how big houses and lots must be, and we have entire areas “zoned” as “single family residences” which are not the most efficient ways to house people.

The exception is the University of Dayton- which has tall apartment buildings, multiple unit apartments and a whole bunch of homes that are SRO. Yep- the rich non-profit institution gets an exemption.

With SRO housing- rented by the week, only requires a deposit of a weeks rent and a weeks deposit, well under the costs required and credit checks and leases with a single family home. The landlord has responsibility for water, DP&L and Vectren. Coupled with public transit- and what’s required to meet a “living wage” falls to Walmart wages. For an America where the average person doesn’t have access to $1000, the cost of housing drops from unobtainable to accessible.

Dayton has a slew of vacant homes that aren’t accessible due to scrapping, title problems caused by the great mortgage debacle of 2009, and bad comps that preclude conventional lending from taking place. No politician has suggested anything other than tearing them down- or placing them in a “land bank” where somehow magically- they are supposed to gain value. What we need to do is figure out a way to bring them back online- and to make them profitable. Without causing gentrification.

That last part is the sticky part. Currently, the process of revaluing homes tax burden based on what your neighbors property sells for is counterproductive. Fixing up your home means it’s going to cost you more- and if your neighbor fixes up his home- it’s going to cost you too. This has to stop- at least in areas that are hard hit by the mortgage debacle. We need to incentivize investment, by guaranteeing that the price you buy your home for is the value for the length of time that you own it. Any investment that you make- is yours to enjoy, right up to the time that you sell it, to someone that knows what they are buying into. Your neighbors wealth shouldn’t affect your ability to own a home.

By the same standard- we need to take a new approach to code-enforcement. We need to work collaboratively instead of being an adversary. The primary issues to work on- the envelope- roofs, windows, doors, gutters- all of which are critical to maintaining the basic bones of a house. If you can’t afford to do the work to keep the building structurally intact, we’d have to work on a plan to offer a low-interest loan to stabilize the property that would be attached to the deed. Social service agencies would collaborate to ascertain what can be done to help you to keep your home. The caveat being, the yard has to be maintained, and trash can’t can’t accumulate on the property. We can offer payments to work off the debt- by taking care of neighboring lots by cutting grass etc.

The goal in vacant neighborhoods isn’t to tear them down, it’s to build them up.

The current administration in Dayton is very proud of itself for all the new higher density construction downtown- starting with Water Street, then the Delco Lofts, the Sims developments and now the new Centerfield flats next to the ballpark. While these are all great, they aren’t creating either affordable housing for the least fortunate, or value for the neighborhoods. In fact, the tax dollars of the poorest in Dayton have helped subsidize these projects and ones like The Troll Pub. This has to stop. It’s time for what I call equal opportunity development, where every deal that’s being done with tax dollars has proven that it’s not a pay to play, limited opportunity for a single developer. In other words- investment is only available when it’s the same terms to everyone. No exceptions.

And, the development dollars have to be calibrated to the area based on poverty levels. Lowest risk, highest poverty gets more opportunity than the inverse. This is when your neighbors values should be taken into consideration- when it’s public subsidies for the greater good.

Minneapolis realized they had a problem and did something about it. Read this long excerpt from a recent article in the NY Times:

The United States is suffering from an acute shortage of affordable places to live, particularly in the urban areas where economic opportunity increasingly is concentrated. And perhaps the most important reason is that local governments are preventing construction….

The number of housing units completed in the United States last year, adjusted for the size of the population, was lower than in any year between 1968 and 2008.

Housing prices, and homelessness, are rising across the country because there is not enough housing.

That’s why a recent breakthrough in Minneapolis is so important. The city’s political leaders have constructed a broad consensus in favor of more housing. And the centerpiece is both simple and brilliant: Minneapolis is ending single-family zoning.

Local governments regulate land use by chopping cities into zones, specifying what can be built in each area. This serves some valuable purposes, like separating homes from heavy industry. But mostly, it serves to protect homeowners. In many cities, including Minneapolis, more than half of the city’s land is reserved for single-family homes.

In December, the Minneapolis City Council voted 12 to 1 to allow construction of at least three residential units per lot throughout the city as part of a larger package of changes intended to increase housing construction. Under the plan, most construction still will be concentrated in the center of the city and along transit corridors. But the elimination of single-family zoning was crucial in building political support for the plan, ending a system under which more than 60 percent of Minneapolis was sheltered from change.

The affordable housing crisis cannot be solved by new construction alone, at least not in the short term. Governments need to provide subsidized housing for people who cannot afford market-rate housing.

No Copper No Wires- fourplex on Siebenthaler Ave 2012. Photo David Esrati. This could be affordable housing again.

Other regions are considering the Minneapolis approach, but proponents have run into stiff political opposition. In California, legislators from wealthy, low-density cities blocked a plan to increase construction that would have allowed “fourplexes,” or four-unit apartments, throughout the state.

Race also played a central role. Minneapolis is among the most segregated and unequal cities in America, a fact at odds with its self-image as a tolerant and diverse community. The gap between white and black homeownership is the widest in any of the 100 cities with the largest black populations: 75 percent of whites own their homes, compared with just 25 percent of blacks.

In the ensuing debates, many residents said they were surprised to learn that single-family zoning in Minneapolis, as in other cities, had deep roots in efforts to enforce racial segregation. Cities found that banning apartment construction in white neighborhoods was an effective proxy for racial discrimination, and the practice spread after it was validated by the Supreme Court in 1926.

In Minneapolis, the current political leaders argued that ending single-family zoning was a necessary step to rectify that history of racial discrimination. On many city lawns, signs that read “Neighbors for More Neighbors” stood alongside signs that read “Black Lives Matter.”

Source: Opinion | Americans Need More Neighbors – The New York Times

Realize that while we may have slightly higher home ownership rates for Dayton’s African Americans, I’m pretty sure if we compare values, vs just population, whites own the wealth, blacks own the liabilities- homes that decreased in value over the period of ownership.

While there are people in the community giddy about the recent announcement of $10M more coming into the “West Dayton Development Fund” one only has to look at what didn’t happen with the first $50M that vanished. Here’s a post from this site from 2011 talking about its failings.

We need a bold new vision on how to jumpstart investment into West Dayton and into affordable housing stock. We need to figure out new ways to efficiently deliver services to a sprawling city, where population densities are grossly unbalanced. And most of all, we need to figure out how to make it safe for investors to invest in Dayton and know that their investment will pay back. For that, we need people with new ideas- who aren’t looking first on how to line their pockets or fill their campaign coffers.

I know that I’ve got ideas- and that Shenise Turner-Sloss is more likely to work with me to make things happen than Chris Shaw or Matt Joseph.

If you need proof of my commitment and understanding of what it takes to build value in our community- just remember that when I bought my home in South Park I paid $14,500, my office, $2,400, and each of my cottages- $19,500 each. Now everyone of them is worth a lot more. I’m not just talking for the sake of talking- I’ve actually been a part of the South Park Renaissance and have a wealth of knowledge to share.

 

 

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