How our political parties fail us

Why the county political parties in Ohio are failing (as is the state party)

The potential new party chair of the Greene County Republican Party sent out an email according to the Greene County Sentinel (a facebook based news type blog run by John Stafford) that asks about if the party should endorse in primaries. He doesn’t even know.

The role of the local party in Ohio is a mystery to most voters, as is the entire way we choose candidates for office. After his email- I’ll share what you need to know, both as a voter and as a candidate.

Attention:Greene County Republicans; To endorse local candidates or not to endorse?

From: Kraig Hagler <[email protected]>

Date: Feb 18, 2024 at 2:46 PM


What’s the point? I think this is my main take away from Thursday’s meeting.

Sheriff Anger made the comment. “If we’re not here to support who we feel is the best candidate in local races, then what’s the point of the central committee?

Are we giving every candidate a participation trophy?

He is correct that many of our surrounding counties take advantage in endorsing who they feel are the best candidates.

I spoke with what I would consider a front runner in the House race at the end of the meeting.

His comment.

“What’s the point in getting an endorsement without money or influence?”

The backing of the current Greene County Republican Party means nothing to him.

It comes with NO clout, NO money and gives him NO advantage in his race.

In today’s world of politics our party has become irrelevant, stale, and stagnate.

We will be proud to sell you a Trump shirt or hat at our Headquarters, but don’t ask us about local politics because that’s not what we’re here to do.

In reality, influencing local policy and supporting the right local candidates is our sole purpose, or at the very least, our first priority.

However, we have become an Evening Social Club, too engulfed in the National Political Scene to appreciate what is going on in our own Community.

Follow the money.

I challenge each of you to pull the finance reports of all Greene County candidates after the election.

What’s the point?

They don’t need us.

Many are getting their money from way outside the county. Look at their endorsements.

Some have endorsements from people not only outside of the county, but outside of the state.

What’s the point?

We as Central Committee Members are allowing our elections to be bought.

I’m my opinion, we are losing our way and focus concerning our influence.

When local candidates, and it’s the majority of them, openly state that the party means nothing to their campaign, that should come as frightening news to each and every member of CC.

There are four races that GCRP can and should always have an endorsed a candidate from Greene County.

Senate District 10, House District 71, and both State Central Committee races.

Greene County holds almost 40% of the vote in those races. We should always carry these offices.

If you feel that our candidate isn’t the best in that race, then that falls on leadership and us as members for not recruiting the best candidate.

No member should have come to that meeting unprepared to support a candidate.

Anita and Carolyn put on great potluck events where each candidate got 20 minutes to tell you about themselves, and what they bring to the office.

Additionally, multiple candidates have held events with open invitations to attend and hear their platforms.

If you are a precinct captain and you came to that meeting as an uninformed voter, then you didn’t put forth any effort to know your candidates.

What’s my point?

As many of you know I am seeking the position of Executive Chair in April with Carolyn stepping down. My focus will be gaining participation and growing CC.

I will strive to:

Focus on local races.

Get back to our basics.

Recruit and support Republican candidates.

Bring independents over to our club.

If we continue down the path of allowing one or two people in “leadership” to dictate what we do, then we will find that our club will only continue to lose its influence and become even more irrelevant.

In closing, I would like to hear from you as a Precinct Captain:

In your opinion, what is the purpose of the Central Committee; Or basically what’s the point?

Together we will move forward. If you blindly follow the path we are on, together we will fail.


Kraig A. Hagler


To answer the question should parties endorse in primaries? The answer is NO. Their job should be to inform voters of the choices they have, and make it easy to research their choices. Otherwise, why have a primary at all? The real question is should someone vet all candidates- to stop the insanity of a George Santos not only getting on the ballot- but winning? Yes. If I have to get a background check to become a guardian- shouldn’t I have to pass one to run for public office?

Do you really want your representative, be it to school board or President, to be decided by people you didn’t elect, or who don’t live in your district? Isn’t the point of a democracy is that voters choose who leads them? Well informed voters hopefully.

Now, what’s the real role of an effective party- and why these local folks fail so badly. The only exception I’ve encountered has been the South Dayton Democratic Club run by Alison and Tim Benford, a pair of British immigrants, who came to Dayton because of the base, and stayed. They get it right.

A political party is supposed to be an organization to support and serve as a ground team for candidates, who’ve been selected in the primary, to win. This isn’t what happens. For President Obama to win his historic victory, he built an entire organization from the ground up, hiring staff and assembling a digital infrastructure that’s been almost unmatched. None of this would be necessary if the political parties were run by adults. This isn’t a private club, nor is it a place for backroom deals, it’s supposed to be the power of the people, coordinated effectively to win elections.

Part of the reason we waste $15B plus every election cycle is because the parties force candidates to reinvent the wheel every cycle. They control the email addresses, the donor lists, the canvassing tools, the discounted mailing permits, and still can’t provide the critical part- actual boots on the ground to mobilize and motivate. They fail to codify a message, and even once we elect folks, they can’t manage to work together to move us forward. It’s all broken.

One of the things the Benfords did, was give me a copy of a book to read, and asked me to sign an oath. It was exactly the kind of message and method the parties should be doing. Read the oath and find out about the book here.

If you go to one of their meetings, you will hear an interesting speaker, learn about candidates or policies, be asked to sign petitions and distribute literature and signs and help get people elected. It’s participatory, it’s educational, and it’s a chance to build connections with like minded people. It’s satisfying and gratifying.

That’s the complete opposite of what the local county “official” parties do. But, what makes them so important? And how does it work? Most folks have no clue that these people control our local boards of elections who act as a firewall against independent and non-favored candidates getting on the ballot. They also get to pick people to replace County officials who step down during their term. Remember Russ Joseph, the Montgomery County Dem Parties favorite son? He was made Clerk of Courts, only to lose to Mike Foley in his first election bid, and then he was made county treasurer, and lost to former Dem, John McManus. Then, the party got him a job in the Federal courts, but he didn’t like it, so they made him the top dem in the Board of Elections where he once again sucks off the teat of the tax payer. This is how the “Friends and Family” program works.

But who are the friends and who are the family? In Montgomery County, the party allows elected officials to be precinct captains, or makes them honorary members of the executive committee that selects and anoints these folks to office. But, what’s even more insidious, is that they allow people in “Patronage jobs”- jobs controlled by these elected leaders, to be precinct captains so they can vote the way their bosses tell them. I’ve argued for decades that this amounts to a violation of the “Hatch Act“- where government employees aren’t allowed to take part in partisan politics, but they claim it only applies to Federal Employees. We also get the wives and husbands of elected officials and sometimes their kids. There’s a reason why Judge Dan Gehres and his two sons (Marty and Franklin) are all party people (and trust me, I could list a whole bunch of others).

The precinct captains are elected by getting on the ballot with a mere 5 signatures. They usually run unopposed (unless they are me) and if you keep winning, the party will move your precinct lines to jam you up. There are no requirements for attendance or for reporting to your precinct. There are no requirements to distribute info, to canvas, to collect signatures- all they want you to do is show up to vote the party line when called. The reality is, now that the practice of placing people as captains in precincts that they don’t live in (which was the norm) they are barely able to fill a few more than half the seats- and people who do win, come to the meetings and wonder why? They aren’t welcomed, or recognized. They aren’t actually asked to participate.

What a well run party should be able to do, is help identify and train prospective candidates. Help them run their campaigns with a coordinated effort. Have methods to reach likely voters at low cost, and help them with access to voters and donors. But, that only happens if they “like you.” They should also know where to place signs on main roads, provide folks to stand outside voting places on election day for last minute persuasion, and have people and technology in place to Get Out The Vote (GOTV) efforts. Then, the national candidates, the statewide candidates, the congressional candidates the County Candidates and even the local candidates wouldn’t be reinventing the wheel – with every campaign.

You wouldn’t believe how many calls, emails, mailers a candidate gets- all promising the keys to winning, from websites to robocalls to signs and email lists. The reality should be- all politics should be local, and your precinct captain should lead the charge at connecting voters with candidates.

Mr Hagler is right- the system is broken. It’s why we have folks cross over in Montgomery County from Dem to Republican- because the Monarchy didn’t really support their campaigns or actively worked against them.

The most stunning response to this endorsement nonsense came last week, when Joe Wessels, who chose to run in the heavily Republican gerrymandered OH-2 race for Congress, decided to drop out instead of fighting the State parties endorsement of his primary opponent, and he endorsed the only non-maga Republican, Phil Heimlich, in the race. Watch his video:

The reality is, neither he, nor their “endorsed” candidate Samantha Meadows, had much of a chance. The reality is the 11 R’s running include the carpetbagger, Niraj Antani from Montgomery County. Some would say that Joe’s endorsement hurts Phil Heimlich, other dems may think that by voting R in the primary they can vote for Niki Haley and Phil and help keep Maga out. Either way, when your district is 15 of the poorest counties in the State spanning a vast section, the cost and energy required to spread the message is almost impossible without help and coordination with the party- and Sherrod Brown and the Supreme Court Justices that are the only other state wide Democratic races.

If you want to see how I worked with other candidates in my district in 2022, go visit and see what could happen if candidates had a guiding hand from adult leadership.

Here’s the video I put together:

And yes, that’s Amy Cox who doesn’t live in OH-10 who is now running against me in the Dem Primary on Mar 19, 2024

The reality is, the parties are failing to educate, include and support the system. And, just to show how I’m a bit different than most candidates, here’s where former Montgomery County Tea Party founder/Republican Party Chair/Trump campaign manager/Kettering Clerk of Courts Rob Scott and I sat down to give a primer on the precinct captain positions. Yes, being able to work with people who are theoretically completely the opposite of you- is a mark of statesmanship winning over partisanship. It’s how you actually get things done.

If you want to learn more about my candidacy for Congress in Ohio 10, visit my site or attend the forum this Wednesday run by the Benfords (see this post) and if you really like what you’ve read, and believe it’s time to put country first and politics second, consider donating– as much or as little as you can to help me go on to replace Mike Turner with a congressman that will actually meet with his constituents. Sadly, Mike, when not leaking classified intelligence about Russian Satellites, is busy raising money from at least 27 of his billionaire friends from out of state. Unbelievably, I don’t even know a billionaire.

The Crowning of a Superintendent in Dayton after a national search

The Superintendent Search Soiree

Full disclosure, I’ve known David Lawrence for about 25 years and considered him a close friend until recently. I’m not sure if the pressure of being thrust into a position by a psycho, disrespectful school board has contaminated our relationship, or if I’ve misjudged him all these years. Political survival in Dayton is often determined by what ring you’re kissing in public.

This Tuesday, the stupidity of the “National Search” for a new superintendent should come to an end, with the only defensible conclusion: Dr. David Lawrence is the best, last and only choice to lead the dysfunctional school district out of the desert after 40 years of wandering aimlessly and without direction.

The 40 years is a bit of an exaggeration, because that would put us back in 1984 when Lawrence was graduating from Dunbar, and the district hadn’t fully imploded, although by that point, the district was a shadow of it’s former self.

The demise of the district can be squarely placed on the voters of this community, who for the most part, have elected some of the stupidist people to oversee our schools. I could name names, but, it would take too long, and serve no purpose. There were a few exceptions, but, even they were unsuccessful in building a positive school environment and culture of learning, because the problems of the Dayton Public Schools are so much bigger than the schools, they are of a community that has been fed moldy Spam® for so long while being told it’s a filet mignon. But that’s what a “culture of corruption” does over the last half-century, it rewires us to believe we can’t do better than mediocrity.

Unfortunately, our current school board is mediocre and dysfunctional. If there were consultants to re-train bad behavior and counter-productivity in office, this board would be a top prospect. It’s become clear that it only takes one person to knock the whole crew off course, and that that title gets passed around like bad booze amongst a few teenagers. If I had time, I’d make a highlight reel of the worst ego-maniac, psychotic, mental-midget on the board Chrisondra Goodwine- except, no one could sit through and watch more than 3 minutes of the garbage that comes out of her mouth incessantly and the video would last hours or possibly days. However, a Goodwine shitshow video might prompt someone in the State House to pass a new law which gives voters a way to remove this cancer from the board (currently, Ohio makes it almost impossible to remove a school board member- even if they break laws, like Goodwine did with “hoodiegate“).

The fact that the board has 2 new members who are now wondering what alternate reality they just entered is a start, but the reality is, this board, and it’s chosen leader, Will Smith, need to take care of Chrisondra’s outbursts and verbal diarrhea sooner than later, or we’ll never be able to focus on the true goal: improving the performance of the Dayton Public Schools and fixing the internal self-defeating culture of a district that’s been torn apart by an evil leader who was celebrated by the buffoons on the board.

There is no other way to look at the reign of terror of Dr. Libby Lolli other than a plot to force the Dayton Public Schools into failure so the assets could be sold off to charters at pennies on the dollar. Five of the people on this school board, Goodwine, Lacy, Smith, Rhynard, Wick, not only kept extending contracts with Lolli despite her failing performance and mass exodus of staff, but giving her raises. The fact that in just 5 short months, Lawrence has turned around all performance indicators, managed to get the buses to run on time, and tried to start running professional meetings despite the unprofessional board, as an “Interim Superintendent” who is getting paid less than the principal of Oakwood High School (who was just temporarily relieved of his duties) should tell you something about the quality of his character and his desire to fix the district where he lives.

Yes, I’ve been advocating Lawrence as superintendent for the last decade, and still thoroughly believe that he is the only one qualified and stupid enough to take this operation on. Although in the last five months I’ve also seen the side of him that others dislike and that I’ve been in denial over- and, I guess it’s because we’re kind of two of a kind- people either love us or hate us, but very few have no opinion. It’s that line between arrogance and confidence that rubs people the wrong way, and for Lawrence, the biggest test will be when the interim is dropped- will he relax a bit, and realize which battles are worth fighting- and which are not?

The fact that he put up with the indignity of the “national search” conducted for a totally unnecessary $65K is one mark of either his humility or his dedication to the district and his chance to shine, and the fact that he continued to work for a measly $160K a year, while thrust into a position where you usually pay extra for emergency help. It’s the same reason plumbers can charge 2-4x more an hour when it’s a weekend or a holiday and your only toilet isn’t working. In this case, the shit was backed up in a thousand toilets, and the board really had no other options.

Which brings me back to my Army training. The true mark of a leader is if he’s prepared his troops for battle and his replacement is standing ready. That’s not been the case in Dayton before. Much like the political parties in this country who can’t seem to find a bench of people to call on to replace the octogenarian candidates they are going to foist upon us as the only choices for president, DPS hasn’t had a clear number two ready to step up.

If I was Dr. Sheila Burton, I’d be handing in my resignation on Tuesday as they anoint Lawrence the permanent leader. That she’s never been in the running for the top spot shows she’s just been dead weight carried by this district for decades too long. My experience “working” with her back in 2012, left me wondering if you can get a PhD out of a box of Cracker Jack and use it to pad your resume. We were trying to redesign enrollment forms and she didn’t understand how PDF forms could be used to enter data directly into a database if designed correctly, despite multiple attempts to explain it (and that was just one part of the project).

When you look at “The Team” Lawrence had brought together in short order and realize there are a whole bunch of people who could step in as he steps out, you are finally seeing the makings of a real district. The need for a “National Search” by any organization should be seen immediately for what it is- a lack of competent leadership in place.

If it wasn’t for Lawrence being from here, and committed to fixing the district he’s watched waste away, this “National Search” was nothing but a national marketing campaign for his skills to districts across the country and an introduction up close and personal to the Alma Advisory Group headhunters who now will have him at the top of their list for recruiting to other districts which are much bigger and pay more. Figure that in 3-5 years, they will come back and try to sell him all across the country. Had the board done it’s job without their “help” we wouldn’t be facing this threat.

The last big question that’s been unanswered is what will this board decide to pay for his services, and how smart are they? If you look at the world of pro American sports for contract negotiation tips, you’d think about a base pay that’s at least equal to Lolli’s and then have performance bonuses that are tied to what was considered unreachable goals. Is it worth paying Dr. Lawrence $220K a year base? Absolutely, unless you want to be viewed as racists paying an incompetent White woman more than a competent Black man. Is it worth paying Lawrence and his team a $1M bonus if they attain 50% passing of the third grade reading tests and attendance jumping by 10%? Absolutely, with the condition that the players on his team commit to a 2-year extension on their contracts. If these things come true, they will be the hottest prospects on the market, if they only get to 45% passing and an 5% increase in attendance, we’ve still seen the first measurable improvements in these battered schools. Other things that should be part of the bonus performance bonus package, employee retention, employee satisfaction, graduation rates, discipline disruptions declining, etc. etc.

While kudo’s should go to the Alma Group for even finding other candidates willing to come to interview in this shitshow of a district, with it’s dysfunctional board and a in-house candidate already the interim, one would wonder if they didn’t take about $20K of their fee and split it between the other two finalists.

I tried to watch as much of the interviews with the other candidates as possible and all I can say is that every time they opened their mouths, they made a stronger case for Lawrence to be hired as he should have been.

The idea of bringing in an outsider to fix your problems is only one done by organizations where all hope is lost, or if someone has ulterior motives. I was particularly happy that one of the groups involved in the selection were the actual students of the district, because they are truly the customers, more so than the staff. It is their future that will be decided by the actions of the new superintendent. Knowing Dr. Lawrence, and having seen him in action in school buildings for decades, I fully understand his biggest strength is relating to children in a way that’s inspirational and intellectually challenging. He really does understand the base function of education or “school” as he likes to call it- is to get kids to want to learn for the sake of learning- not just to pass the test.

And that’s why, the test of our board is to see if they’ve learned what kind of gem came out of this district and is now ready to be put on display as an example of what can happen when you do things right.

mugshots of famous people as a promotion for a candidates forum for political candidates in Dayton Ohio

Real democratic club conducts real forum. You’re invited.

The South Dayton Democratic Club is going to host the only public candidate forum for Democratic candidates on Wednesday, Feb 21, 2024 at the Montgomery County Democratic Headquarters at 7pm. HQ is at 313 S. Jefferson St., Dayton, 45402. They moved it from their normal location at the Wright Memorial Library because they are expecting a bigger than normal crowd. Should wrap up around 8:30. If you want to add this event to your calendar because you are tech savvy- head to my events listing.

Despite the State party weighing in with primary endorsements in multi-county races like Congress, the local parties have seemed to stay out of the endorsement business, unless there is an incumbent. Due to changing gerrymandering efforts, there aren’t incumbents in some of the races, and a few may be decided in the primary if no one files as an independent (filing deadline is Mar 19th- the primary date if I’m not mistaken.

Oddly, a few candidates are not planning on attending this event- and I’ll note them. If they won’t show up to talk in public about their candidacy, why would you elect them to represent you is my question? I’ve also included LWV videos- they didn’t do Rose in 36 because Chuck Horn wouldn’t participate.

Attending will be:
House District 36
Rose Lounsbury, Chuck Horn (can’t find a site- he let go)
House District 38
Desiree Tims
Missing: Derrick Foward

Ohio Senate District 6
Jyl Hall, Jocelyn Rhynard Willis Blackshear Jr.
Missing: Willis Blackshear jr. apparently this post woke him up. He’s now attending (17 Feb 24)

Congressional District 10
Amy Cox, David Esrati, Joseph Kuzniar (no website- but does have ballotpedia entry) Tony Pombo (late addition, 19 Feb)
Missing: Tony Pombo

Here is the League of Women Voters forum for our race:

Montgomery County Commissioner 
Judy Dodge (I can’t find a site), Yuossef Elzein

Not attending- but still on the ballot so you need to do your homework.
Justice of the Supreme Court (1) Unexpired Term Ending 12/31/202
Lisa Forbes
Terri Jamison

State Representatives? 40th District (1)
Bobbie Arnold (can’t find a website)
Logan Turner (write in- can’t find website)

While I’d normally include links to all the candidates, I’m not feeling generous with my time for folks that can’t be bothered with the public. They must have taken lessons from Mike Turner, who never has a town hall, never meets with the general public. I’m absolutely flabbergasted that Judy Dodge doesn’t have a site that I can find.

The South Dayton Democratic Club invites you to participate: “If you would like to request that a certain topic be raised or question asked, please put that into the comments section of our website. We may merge questions to craft a single question which is relevant to all candidates running for the same office, and would not just require a “yes” or “no” answer.”

I will be filming- and posting to my Youtube Channel the next day. If you subscribe to it- you’ll be notified. They have an option through the South Dayton Dems site to attend via zoom.

This event is free and open to all.

Congressman Mike Turner, R-OH leaks classifed data

Turner leaks classified data

In a bizarre move that put him at the center of attention, Mike Turner as chairman of the House Intelligence Committee removed all credibility of his capacity when he went public a day before a meeting of the “Gang of 8” was to discuss “new” Russian nuclear capacity in space.

Apparently, he released the compartmentalized top secret information to all members of Congress on Monday, despite the fact that all members of Congress do not have security clearances.

Rep. Seth Moulton, D-MA, who sits on the Armed Services Committee, said on CNN that this information was hardly new, he’d been briefed on it 2 years ago- and that Turner either wasn’t listening or wasn’t cleared at the time.

Congressman Seth Moulton interviewed about Mike Turner’s leaking of classified info

Moulton says ” he’s put our national security at risk. He’s put the sources of intelligence at risk. He’s raised a lot of questions with our allies, who, of course, count on us to keep them safe. And he’s really inhibited our ability to respond.”

CNN: So so do you believe that he should face penalties?

Moulton: “Oh, I think you’re right. Look, I certainly don’t trust him, and I think the House Republican leadership has to really address whether he can continue chairing this committee.”

Remember, Mike Turner was on the Sunday morning talk shows defending Donald Trumps mishandling of TS/SCI info at Mar a Lago” after the raid. While he may be able to claim the president had the rights to this info, can he say the same about Marjorie Taylor Greene? Or someone like George Santo’s if he’d still been in office (Turner voted to keep him). The reality is, you can run for Congress without even having to pass a background check, never mind a security clearance check.

As his last opponent and possibly his future opponent after the Mar 19th Primary, I issued a statement about his leak, you can read it here: Turner’s Grandstanding puts nation at risk Of course, you won’t read about this in the Dayton Daily Newsless until Friday and it’s unlikely they will ask me for comments.

I had a clearance when I was in the Army. We took these things very seriously, because we knew lives were on the line. Mike Turner has no understanding of the risk he’s put the sources of this information in, or our military, by his abuse of power and reckless release of compartmentalized information.

There will be much more to come out of this story, but, for now, know that if anyone on the base had released this info, they’d already been behind bars.

Death of a friendship- we will miss you meathead

When probate court and an incompetent psychiatrist kills a friendship

Last year, on this day, we were walking into Demika’s Italian Restaurant for dinner together. What he didn’t know was that about 50 of his friends were gathered for a surprise birthday party. He was moved to tears.

Since February of 2016, I’d been his Power of Attorney, both legal (durable) and medical. That came to an abrupt end in the hallway outside the locked Dayton VA Psych ward on 7 S on a Wednesday afternoon in Nov 2023, when I stopped up to check on him, hoping he’d calmed down after 5 days of treatment.

He had checked himself in, after telling a friend over lunch in the Oregon District that he was miserable and suicidal. His friend had driven him to the VA. I had to go find his car and bring it home- and started taking care of his dog.

I was met by a combative social worker, the Psychiatrist in charge, a Dr. Gina Guadagno and 2 others, where I was told that he’d broken the POA’s while he was admitted. A first year lawyer would tell you, a person has to be “of sound mind and body” to enter or exit a legal contract, instead, Dr. Guadagno was offering a legal opinion that I had to be his guardian in order for her to talk to me. Me, the guy who gave him his meds 2x a day and made sure he took them. Me, the guy who paid all his bills. Me, the guy who took care of his dog when he was hospitalized. Me, the guy who met with his doctors with him, and attended bi-weekly counseling with him. Me, the guy who got him his 100% disability rating, his SSD restored, and took his credit score from 420 to 760. Me, the guy who arranged his surprise birthday party…

I went down the VA Patient advocates office. Told them what had happened. How the combative social worker even gave me the Glomar response “we cannot confirm or deny he’s on the floor.” They were confused. All the records in the VA including a VA form 10-5345 Release of health info was on file. This form requires not just the POA’s to be dissolved but the Fiduciary responsibilities as well.

Note, one of the conditions of his 100% VA disability is a finding of incompetence, so if he’s all of a sudden, competent to remove his POA’s- he’s also not eligible for his 100% disability- surely the doc didn’t think that?

By the end of Thursday, it was pretty clear I’d have to file for Emergency Guardianship- just to be able to find out what meds to give him. I hired a lawyer, who was very responsive, after others didn’t answer their phones or were too busy. I spent $1500 of his savings to do it. We’d discussed guardianship many times, I’d even conferred with David Brannon, who is now the Probate court Judge about it. We’d decided against it- another layer of bureaucracy and a cut of his money coming to me. Note- for the first 6 years, I took care of him for free. It was only about 2 years ago, that we were made aware that I may be eligible for “Aid and Attending” which is pay for caregivers by the VA. It amounted to about $850 a month, and didn’t cost him a dime.

The emergency guardianship hearing took place Friday, by the time the signed order was ready to be picked up in court- Dr. G had let him out- despite the fact that she hadn’t told the person who gives him his meds (me) what she’d done. He came by to pick up his dog from my office as he was dropped off- I was getting in my car to go to the courts to pick up the order and take it to the VA. He wasn’t very friendly.

Upon getting to the VA it took an hour for the Patient advocate to scan it in- run it by legal and finally approve it. Only problem was the Dr. G had already gone home. So I’m getting in my car ready to leave when Dr. G and her boss call me- and tell me what’s happened. They took him off the one med that works, the one his son is on, the one his brother is on, and replaced it with a long acting shot. The one we’d tried- that didn’t work many years before. It’s as if she didn’t even bother to read the records- and didn’t want to listen to his caregiver.

When he learned I’d spent $1500 of his savings on the emergency guardianship, he went to the bank and took out the $10K savings that were left- and went and bought a boat. One that needs work, one that he can’t store, and one that’s going to cost him about $220 a month to store. He also told me he wanted to kick my ass, and threatened to kill me. This was all before he’d been out 24 hours.

And, if I’d just listened to him- and tried to read the instructions that they sent home with his new meds- I would have given him the wrong meds. That conversation with the doctor was absolutely necessary.

By Saturday night- I wasn’t watching him take his meds. I was just putting them in the mailbox. Monday morning- I went to the VA to have the pharmacist figure out his med box- because, again- the instructions were incomplete. We were scheduled for court on Tuesday for the decision of if temporary guardianship was to be given (the next step after emergency guardianship).

He had been waiting in the hall before the hearing, and screamed at me as I was going to the bathroom at the top of his lungs “Get the fuck away from me” after I said hi. By the time I came out of the bathroom- he’d gone home.

He’d been given a court appointed attorney to represent him. My attorney bailed 10 minutes before the hearing- “she doesn’t do contested guardianships.” I was there- with evidence from his hospitalization, and no lawyer. The Magistrate, Kim Wiseman, was all business. She had a 1 page evaluation by Dr. G saying he was competent, I had his medical records that clearly said he wasn’t, the VA Form, the experience of the last 8 years, all that went out the window. She trusted the VA Dr. who wasn’t there, over the person who had been. Her compromise? To assign an “independent psychologist” to evaluate him and issue a report. According to Wiseman (a misnomer if I ever saw one) the POA’s were disolved – and my emergency guardianship was revoked, at least until we got the independent evaluators report back. Didn’t matter that he’d threatened me (of course he did- he didn’t want you as his POA anymore) and didn’t matter that he was locked up on a psych ward without shoelaces when Dr. G accepted his rantings, we’re going to leave him without assistance until the final court hearing.

I subpoenaed both Dr. G, and the family counseling social worker who had worked with us for about 18 months bi-weekly for the coming trial. I had his son and our mutual friend who connected us come to the hearing. The VA sent a “Touhy determination letter” which according to 38 C.F.R. § 14.804 and the case Touhy v. Ragen, 340 U.S. 462 (1951) with the idea that “the federal regulations cited above and with a line of cases holding, under principles of federal supremacy and sovereign immunity, that federal officers should not be subpoenaed to testify in court proceedings of which they are not parties without their approval.” So basically- they don’t have any responsibility to be accountable for their decisions or the welfare of the patient.

When we got to court, the Magistrate had already stated that because “you did nothing with your emergency guardianship” (like what- lock him up and piss him off more- with the same doctor in charge- and only a guarantee of 3 days of control) and that he had stated he didn’t want me as guardian (while off the one crucial med) and that she knew a lawyer who handles all kinds of difficult veterans as guardian, she was inclined to assign him to this case. At this point, considering all the efforts I’d made to restore the POA’s and keep this all simple, I was ready to hand him over. And remember that independent evaluation that Wiseman ordered? It was a 10-page scathing review of the VA doc’s assertion that he was competent. He was anything but.

The fact that right after I’d been relieved of power, he’d decided to punch his brother, and had to be wrestled to the ground by 8 cops to be re-admitted to a psych ward didn’t matter. None of it did. When the independent psychologist got the referral, she was told this was a “political” thing of some sort. She was already very familiar with him- and had referred him to involuntary treatment several times in the past going back years. Had he stayed for that initial hearing, he might have protested her selection as evaluator- but, he was raging and missed out.

The new guardian took almost 2 months to get his paperwork in and finally meet with me to transfer bank accounts (I had to get a background check done- and had it done in 3 days). The amazing thing was, the VA was already talking to him, before the paperwork was complete, totally different than when I presented my paperwork.

No one at the VA has been able to explain how a psychiatrist can now offer legal opinions. I asked the day she made that demand, I asked after I provided the Emergency Guardianship, I asked again and again. Finally, I asked for a Congressional investigation- and despite having legal standing when the question was asked, they are now claiming the Guardian has to sign off – which he did.

The VA still hasn’t answered. It’s been another month. When I met with the guardian to transfer the bank accounts, he told me, “He’s going to regret this, I’ll never do any of the things you were doing for him.”

About a month ago, he and his brother had a genius idea between the two of them, to drive to Columbus so his brother could violate his restraining order from his x-wife. The brother is now in jail again. Without going into another long story, his brother suffers from the same disease, and had gotten arrested multiple times in multiple states during a manic episode. We’d bailed him out, gone to rescue his dog (with the help of Dr. Dan Curran, president emeritus of UD), and gotten him home from NYC via Grayhound after he’d lost his wallet, his phone, his ID and every last bit of dignity. Eventually, I had to step in as his brother’s POA as well- to save his home which had been wrecked by squatters. I had only given up that POA in November- willingly.

Left on their own, severely mentally ill Americans are struggling to survive. Our lack of universal health care, our shutting down the mental hospitals, the stigma attached to mental illness makes life even more difficult than it already is. In August of 2019, the previous VA doc on the Psych ward was discussing permanent institutionalization for my guy. It was then, when I took over giving him his meds twice a day- and we started to make progress.

The scorecard read that I took a homeless, car less, phone less, pizza prep guy with no benefits and institutionalized with a credit score of around 420, to owning 2 homes, a car, a phone, having a wonderful dog, full Social Security Disability, 100% VA disability (he had been told before he wasn’t eligible) a credit score of 760, and saving his brothers home from foreclosure and putting a quarter million in the bank.

For all this, I’m the bad guy. But as the saying goes, no good deed goes unpunished.

I’ve always said, if you lined a 100 guys up and told me to pick a friend, he’d probably have been the last one of the 100. His life revolves around alcohol (which is his number one problem- since psych meds and booze are a bad combo) watching sports (I’d rather play than watch) and women- as sex objects, not as equals. But, like the old “Odd Couple” on TV- there were things I learned from him, and valued, that will stick with me forever. When he’s well, he has one of the biggest hearts I’ve ever known. Somehow, despite our differences, we had become family. His kid and step-kid were our once a week dinner companions. We’d taken roadtrips to his old boarding school to watch hockey. I’d met his friends from before he got sick- and heard the stories. I’d watched him volunteer at Food for the Journey project, becoming a key volunteer and loved by those he volunteered with.

My life has become a lot less hectic since I’ve been relieved of responsibility for him. I sleep better, I feel better, and I’m less stressed. There’s even a new woman in my life. And, of course, I’m running for Congress again.

But today, since the moment I woke up, I wanted to say “Happy Birthday” to my former friend, but thanks to Dr. Gina Guadagno, I’m not sure I would be safe. So instead I share this story.

Our mutual friend said, look at this way, you lasted way longer than anyone who was ever his POA before. They all walked away when the going got tough, you actually wore him out. To that, I owe a former employee, who’s the son of a 100% disabled Vietnam Veteran, who told me this- “You aren’t in this for when he’s well, you’re there for when he needs you.” That kept me going- right up to the point when the incompetent Doctor and the smug Magistrate decided to intervene.

This story isn’t over, and we still live right around the corner from each other, but for now, just remember, that the law, isn’t always the law, if they want to show you who has power.

last thought: I used to have full confidence in the Dayton VA. Dr. Hardy had one foot out the door as this saga began. Had Glenn Costie been in charge, none of this would have devolved past the first denial of the POA’s. My confidence in the VA has been shaken. It is a big part of why I’ve shared this story. There’s more to come, and more to tell. But for now, it will have to wait.

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