Dayton Public Schools still don’t understand R-E-S-P-E-C-T

Thursday night while I was being disrespected by the Trotwood board of education (the 3 minute timer begins once you start speaking most places- not when you get to the podium), the folks over at Dayton Public were having a town hall, except the town forgot to show up.

The staff outnumbered the citizens, and the citizens that were there were mostly people who come to board meetings already.
Of course, part of the problem is that this district has zero communications skills and doesn’t know how to work with professionals. Of course, Lolli is figuring this out a year after her rise to power after the putsch.

Dayton Public Schools insults their marketSuperintendent Elizabeth Lolli said new hires will help a fully staffed public information office communicate with families, and school principals will work to open their buildings to families.

Source: DPS seeks to increase parent engagement – Dayton Daily News

The new hire, Tracey Hanlin, has zero experience in repositioning brands or crisis management, having worked for a non-profit, RTA, Cox, and printers.

It should be her job to coordinate with the Ohlmann Group, and get them to do work that isn’t mediocre phoning it in campaigns like the billboards that are up now.

This school board made a major mistake when they chose to keep Rev William Harris, as board president over the experienced John McManus, and to promote Jocelyn Rhynard to VP. If you need proof, Harris is quoted in the paper, once again, parent shaming with generalizations:

School board President William Harris said many current DPS students don’t have the structured home life that gets them off to a good start – from simply getting regular meals, to having parents reinforce the importance of homework or getting enough sleep.

A parent, got it right. The fundamental problem in DPS is summed up in her statement:

Karen Young said for single mothers, the simple challenges of life – giving their children meals and a home – can make them lose focus on other issues like school, when in fact, the school can serve as a resource center for parents as well as students.

“What I wanted from the staff and teachers that I met was to be met with respect and be reminded to encourage myself to build respect in my home and all across my life,” Young said. “A lot of the young women I work with have lost the ability to feel respected.”

And if you watch this video of McManus deftly handling the board meeting when I was number 30 of 50 speakers that night- you’ll see why McManus should be board president, and that Ms. Young and I are on the same wavelength, this is from the November 17th meeting of 2016.

For background- the long post was “The calamity named Rhonda Corr”, the alternate school board was the pre-school promise, and the person they should have hired was David Lawrence.

Here we are today, spending money on consultants like they are going out of style, hiring more administrators (mostly from Middletown) and with PhD’s, jettisoning in-house legal and hiring Frost Todd Brown to take on the multitude of lawsuits that are being filed (including the witch hunt on white female teachers at Charity Earley Girls Academy) and other lawsuits that are dragging on including mine which goes to oral arguments on January 15, 2019 in the court of appeals.

The real problems at DPS are fundamentally issues of respect. Administration toward staff, staff toward students, students toward parents and round and round. The first thing that Trotwood Interim Superintendent Tyrone Olverson instituted in Trotwood was split the management of each school with a principal in charge of best practices in teaching and a dean of students to manage discipline. If Lolli had a brain and the board had any actual expertise, they’d have done the same thing in DPS long ago.

My prediction is that the coming fiscal crisis and state threats of takeover will be reason for Lolli to “retire” and the new board will be in the hunt for a new superintendent after the prime hiring window has closed- much like the timing on Lolli’s ascendancy. There doesn’t seem to be an heir apparent now, but the one to watch is Dr. Donetrius Hill who is bringing order to Belmont, or to see if Erin Dooley is willing to step up as she’s stepped back from Stivers.

The other pressing question is will Trotwood ask to join the City League now that they’ve been voted off the GWOC island, or will their start of open enrollment suck so many students away from Thurgood Marshall, Meadowdale, Belmont and Wogamen that DPS is looking at more school closings?

The obvious thing to do, would be for Jefferson Township, Trotwood and Dayton become a unified school district and start a whole new clock and scorecard with the State. The savings in administrative overhead alone would be huge, DPS could have Trotwood’s Superintendent, and Dayton would have a pool for a swim team, and would win both football and basketball at State every year.

R-E-S-P-E-C-T comes when you do something really smart.

Go to jail, get raped by a corrections officer, only in Phil Plummer’s house of horrors

Franco Rodio Villella mugshot

Soon to be former Corrections Officer Franco Rodio Villella

Corrections officers can’t have consensual relations with inmates.

It’s kind of the bedrock of the job.

Apparently, Montgomery County Corrections officer Franco Rodio Villella, 23 (about to be 24 in a week) must have missed that training, because yesterday he took a female inmate to a section of the jail (W21) and had sex with her. She claims she was yelling rape the whole time, he said it was consensual. He’s now being held in jail in Logan county on charges of sexual battery.

It’s all on camera, and there is DNA evidence. A crude description of what they did is not fit for publication.

She’s still downtown. She’s 5’6″, 135 lbs and 47 years old and in for a drug possession charge on $2,500 bail. I don’t think she deserves to have her mugshot added to this mess.

This will cost the county and the taxpayers a lot more than that to settle.

The accused CO has a social media account that is pathetic. His Facebook profile says he went to Miami East High School, is from Troy Ohio, and studied at Wilmington College. I’m guessing his engagement to K.K. will probably be called off. He’s proud of his weight lifting- benching 300×1.  Which is pretty impressive since his booking stats say he’s 5’7″ and 180lbs.
I’m just going to post a few screen shots from his twitter account. Should have set off some alarm bells for someone doing a background check.

The victim was a Dayton resident. I repeat the question, why does Dayton still send their citizens to this decrepit place? And why is Phil Plummer not responsible? The buck has to stop somewhere?

It’s time for an intervention in this jail. Not a taskforce, not a study, competent folks need to be brought in to run it- and only the most dangerous people should be in it.

Trotwood board undermines themselves


17 Dec 2018 I misread the Trotwood posting on boarddocs- reading the dates of the contract for Olverson was only Jan 2019 to June 2019. I was not at the meeting. Apparently, they did hire him to a three year contract- so he’s safe and Trotwood kids will benefit. However, there board has still undermined him by getting involved in operational issues- like marketing- that they shouldn’t have. There is no way to fix this post- and to remove it would also be questioned- so I’m striking through the parts that are wrong- and leaving it up- as an admission of my failure. I still believe some of the strife with the staff wouldn’t have happened had he started his marketing communications strategy much earlier

Dayton residents should be thanking the Trotwood School Board for not signing their superintendent, Tyrone Olverson, to a long term contract. This means, that when Libby Lolli quits, as she has done in every other contract she’s been in, Dayton has access to one of the brightest talents on the horizon.

The Trotwood board, which has made only one good decision in the last 10 years, hiring  Olverson to straighten out their years of incompetence, has now undermined his authority and given every other district a chance to hire a competent administrator away.

The real worries in Trotwood should be in the boards micromanaging of the district, as was seen in their delays and selection of an ad agency to help them tell the story of their turnaround. They fiddled, while apparently, Rome, continued to burn, culminating in the teachers union rallying against their new leader and being given credence after years of failed instruction, policy and direction.

Had Olverson been given the tools he needed, when he needed, there is a good possibility that he would have been able to effectively communicate and connect with the community his change plan. Instead, the board stalled from an Aug award date for the contract to an end of December award. Not only that, despite this being an operational tool, the board excluded Olverson’s staff from the decision making process and chose who they thought was best, even although none of them had a clue of what they were buying. I watched and filmed all 8 presentations including my own, I also reviewed all 8 proposals, and their score sheets (which were unsigned- and only from the 5 board members) there was very little intellectual horsepower or research done in awarding the contract.

Besides  errors in the RFP- including a late addition of a budget cap, the fact that they asked all 8 bidders to present, despite clearly different skill sets, (and in one case, being an agency that was dinged for not being local) they wasted agencies time and their time- by having 15 minute presentations from 8 shops instead of at least a 30 minute one each from half as many.

This is a board that hasn’t thought through what happens when they don’t give their CEO the tools he asks for on time, and then undermines him.

While I’m very pro-union, there are no guarantees that union members are any more qualified to judge a superintendents performance than a school board is. Being a teacher doesn’t necessarily mean you know how to run a school district. Considering the last superintendent and the districts performance, Olverson is the only clear change agent.

All said, he’s not perfect. He hired Raymond Caruthers from Dayton Public Schools where his record was anything but stellar. He was about to hire a culinary program lead who was under investigation by DPS and then involved in a domestic violence dispute. Olverson may have written a book about school transformation, but he hasn’t actually done anything yet.

This board needs to decide if they are going to be a board of directors over a CEO, and trust and support him and offer guidance and direction based on his well presented and structured plans, or if they are going to try to do a DPS style, we’re in charge and you’ll do what we say thing. Look at Dayton’s scores- look at Trotwood’s- it’s pretty clear the board in charge solution is a recipe for disaster.

Prediction, Olverson will be picked up by another district before Trotwood comes to their senses and they’ll be in superintendent shopping mode again. Their new “ad agency” will do a very pretty logo, and some nice posters, and run some online ads, and the people of Trotwood and the students won’t think too much of any of it, because of the turmoil at the top.

There is a way to turn a school district around. Undermining your leader isn’t it.


It’s time for scooters to come to Dayton

Your new scooter?

Every major city I’ve been to lately, has them. Even minor college towns like Oxford. Electric scooters are everywhere. To pay by the minute, as you slalom through town. Companies like Bird, Lime and of course the granddaddy of four letter transportation company names, UBER are all in the scooter rental biz.
But, here’s the thing, you can buy one of these and unlike a bike, throw it on a carry strap and take it into your office, a restaurant- and keep it handy. As the person who introduced Dayton to B-cycle and bike sharing, I’ve been keenly watching these scooters challenge bike sharing- with their dockless distribution and lower cost model.

When you combine a scooter with the new Free RTA Flyer downtown shuttle- you can easily reach fringes outside the B-Cycle loop- for that “last mile” functionality.

My big question is why wouldn’t you buy your own? I’ve been thinking about one of these for a while, and just saw this deal on Amazon for the SWAGTRON City Commuter Electric Scooter, 18mph on 8.5“ Run Flat Cushioned Tires, Cruise Control, Phone Mount, APP Controlled, Foldable, Portable – Swagger 5 Elite Official Ride of The Chicago Cubs

Not sure why I think I want the scooter of the Cubs… but, here’s the thing, it’s on sale for $271. Buy one for you- buy one for your kids. And, voila- reduced carbon commutes to the grocery store, a run to Ben & Jerry’s, or just a quick way to get from A to B. With our bikeways- some of you might actually be able to commute on one. Just make sure to always wear a helmet- and consider getting a safety vest to be seen, since they haven’t over run Dayton yet. As a motorcyclist- I also highly recommend gloves anytime you are on 2 wheels- just because if you do go down, scraped skin on the palms really sucks (first hand experience long ago).

The reviews of this scooter are generally good. I’m pretty sure most of them are made in the same factory in China, and just rebranded. If you want to look at the Swagtron site- the scooter is $350 with a $50 off coupon, so Amazon has that price beat.

You want folding- to make it easy to store. It has an app that’s of questionable functionality.  Some allow you to lock your scooter- this one doesn’t. The scooter has a headlamp- which is absolutely critical.

If you do buy it- and kill yourself, I’m already writing this disclaimer- use at your own risk. Since you’ll be on Dayton’s bleeding edge of users, the risk increases until drivers get used to them. And, as a motorcycle rider- I can tell you drivers with cell phones still haven’t figured out motorcycles or bicycles yet, so be safe.

These are a lot of fun though, just like they were when you were a kid. Only thing is- this supposedly supports up to 330 lbs!

Happy scooting Dayton!


Esrati report, episode 7 How many public meetings do you need?

Welcome to the Esrati Report- this is the first post with the new blog theme. Would love to hear what you think in comments.

Why am I doing live video blogs daily, instead of the old style posting you ask?

Well, one, because local news is full of car crashes, fires, credit card skimmers and the like. While important news and analysis is missing. I’m also hoping to give you the news that matters in a way that’s just a bit more entertaining- since, basically, Dayton has so many jokes to tell thanks to the dunderheads that think they know what’s good for us.

And, because I realize that half the people read- and half the people watch TV. So, to get to all of you- I’m doing both at once. Now, for the confusing part- I’m posting this video, which was shot last week on Dec 3rd today on Dec 11th. Yes, I’m a bit behind on the video posts. Why? Well, I want you to watch them on Youtube first- and subscribe- so I can try to monetize the youtube channel to help pay for all this- and to give local advertisers a way to reach the smart folks in Dayton.

And because, we still don’t have the workflows all figured out. So, this will post with a date of the 3rd- even though we launched the new site on the 11th. Confused- don’t be.

If you don’t want to watch- you can read. The text might not match the video exactly- I’m not a robot reading this – and you may miss out on the funny graphics we try to add. So watch or read- up to you.

This is an important subject. It’s my goal to get all public meetings broadcast on open platforms. And, that they are interactive. The real key will be to reduce the number of meetings- and organizations so that we can actually keep track of all the money.

Sort of like forcing Wright State not to have all these separate non-profit shell companies to hide their dirty deals from public scrutiny, but that’s an upcoming post.

Subscribers to this channel know that I’ve spent a lot of time video recording public meetings and putting them up on Youtube for all to see.

The Dayton Public Schools board of education, the Montgomery County Democratic party, the Wright State board of trustees, candidates nights even the Library board.

There’s a reason for it. In Ohio, as in many states we have a set of laws – the Sunshine laws, which contain the Open Meetings Act- that makes it a requirement for public business to meet in public- with a few, very defined exceptions- and, all of those exceptions- can only be taken under consideration in a meeting announced and concluded in a public meeting.

These laws are the only ones that come with a 250 page handbook- the “Yellow Book” – written in plain English- to make sure that even the knuckleheads we elect can figure it out.

Speaking of the knuckleheads- they are required to undertake a public training every year- on these very laws.

Before the advent of video cameras, public bodies were very careful- some even used to make sure the doors were open to city hall- even in the middle of a snowstorm- when a public body was in session. They wanted to make sure there were no questions of meeting in private, the Smokey back rooms that used to be the place public business was done.

These laws went on Ohio’s books in the mid-fifties. They aren’t new.

They are there to protect you and me.

And, yet, public bodies continue to ignore them. In fact- they do all kinds of things to avoid complying- and it’s time they stop.

Some of the tricks they use- are to have a “work session” or “review session” where they say they don’t actually vote on anything- but deliberation and discussion takes place. There are no legal provisions for these kinds of meetings in the Dayton City Charter- yet the Dayton city commission continues to do this- because they don’t want you to see how the sausage is made.

Other boards do things like split up into committees- and try to meet in smaller groups- thinking they are being slick. This is another way to avoid having to do the hard work while the public is watching. Or, by delegating their work to a committee of outsiders- which should be grounds for removal from office for abdication of duties- but alas it’s not.

There are other rules- about meeting round robin- be it via email, phone, text or a series of meetings with a single person. It’s hard to stop these- but, lets be very clear- they are illegal.

There are also rules about a meeting of a majority of members outside of the public view- which is broken all the time by County Commissioners and best friends Judy Dodge and Debbie Lieberman- who are often out in public together. It’s a no-no- but, people seem to have let it slide for so long that it’s become moot. It shouldn’t be.

Now for the universal truth I can tell you about public bodies- the worse they are, the more they meet. Competent leadership doesn’t require multiple meetings to discuss the same agenda. They don’t need to split up into subcommittees or delegate to others. They take care of business- themselves. In an orderly and competent manner. This often means actual public discussion of the issues, questions of staff and directions with timelines for responses.

It’s sort of like what happens in the corporate boardroom- where the CEO is on the hotseat- and the board demands clarity in plan and action.

Another part of this whole public meeting thing is the publishing of an agenda- and minutes afterward. The good organizations never have a problem doing this- often with at least a weeks leadtime. This shows they are prepared, forward thinking, and not reactive.

The bad organizations can’t manage this simple step.

Some think that they need to pay for a software as a service called Board Docs. This is a waste of money. Most don’t use it properly, data isn’t searchable and it’s not mobile friendly.

And, last but not least, we have the public comments section of the meeting. Good organizations welcome public input- and actually respond with a summation of the issue- and set a response plan. Bad organizations worry more about cutting off the citizen and getting out of their meeting.

If you are evaluating public bodies, something else to look for is public access to the meetings- online. In days of old, we counted on public access television to broadcast the local commission meetings- just like CSPAN covers congress. What used to be an expensive, technology burden, can now be done with a simple digital video camera and later uploading to youtube at minimal cost- like what I do. If you want to get fancy- with multiple cameras- there are affordable remote cameras, control rooms, or even open source options like what I use to broadcast this show. There is no excuse for not recording your public meeting- and uploading it to Youtube- unless you’ve got something to hide.

Notice- I keep mentioning YouTube- not Facebook. The reason is that Facebook is a walled garden- requiring a membership to access content. It also doesn’t come up in search the same way that Youtube does. Youtube is the second leading search engine after Google for good reason (and it’s not just because Google owns Youtube). In terms of ADA compliance- Youtube even makes a rudimentary automatic closed caption- so deaf people can watch your meeting.

I was planning on talking about this issue today even before I saw the article on the front page of the Dayton Daily about the jail task force cancelling their public meetings and instead meeting in private subcommittees. Look at their reasoning for doing it. Hint- they’re all the reasons the law is there in the first place. To stop that kind of doing business in back rooms.

There is one other issue to address besides the fact that your local public body should be publishing all their meetings online in video- preferably live- is that there are too many public bodies in this county- making it harder for people like me to act as a watchdog over all of them. It’s an intentional tactic to take power away from us. Remember, we’re supposed to have a government of the people, for the people. Live video recordings that are archived are part of the way we can keep our politicians honest and our government ours.

Let me know what local body you think isn’t making the public access grade in comments.

And if you want to know more about my fight with DPS to keep them meeting in public- watch this video:

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