Political Party Insiders overrule voters will, kicking judicial candidate off ballot for 2nd time

Alan Gabel is about to get a dear John letter from the Montgomery County Board of Elections. He was rejected in February for petition vagaries  (the judgeships are identified by their start date of term, he had the wrong date for the seat) from running for judge against Erik Blaine for Montgomery County Common Pleas court. The bar to get on as a Dem, 50 valid signatures. He then turned around and collected signatures, he turned in 3108 of them, from registered voters to run as an independent and turned in enough valid signatures (he needed 1459) to appear on the ballot.

However, the Board, made up of 2 democratic party  and 2 republican party appointees- decided that he couldn’t run as an independent, overruling the voice and will of the people, because he was “still associated as a dem.”

Note, judges names on the ballot appear WITHOUT party affiliation.

The democratic party insiders are running Montgomery County Juvenile Court Magistrate Gerald Parker against Blaine.

A three way race for judge is almost as unheard of as anyone challenging a sitting judge, except in their first race. Blaine was appointed by Governor Kasich to replace Michael Tucker, who won an unopposed race for a seat on the Second District Court of Appeals. This is his first election. Previously, he’d worked at Wright & Schulte since January 2012 and he’s the Chairman of the Greater Dayton Area Friends of the NRA according to the Dayton DayOld News. Blaine, a 2006 graduate of the UD Law School is a relatively young for a judge. (Full disclosure, my case against Dayton Metro Library is in his court)

Last time I looked at a voter lists just before the May 8 primary, it struck me that there are a lot more UNC (undeclared) voters than there were D or R, which begs the question, why don’t they have at least an equal voice on the Board of Elections. What’s worse, is that on election day- if there is a dispute, the tie breaker as designated in Ohio, is the Sheriff- which in this case, means the head of the Republican Party casts the deciding vote.

That the BOE is appointed, by people who are marginally elected (precinct captains of each party- like me) is one of the political travesties allowed in Ohio.

Alan Gabel should be allowed on the ballot, the voice of 2000+ voters should outweigh the decision of 4 political patronage partisans on the BOE.

Expect a lawsuit.

And, remember- you read this story on Esrati.com first. The Dayton Day-Old news won’t attribute who broke it.

 

Esrati offers to settle case vs School Board and City on illegal school task force meetings

thumbnail of Esrati.Bills Redacted.042518

Subashi and Wildermuth have billed the Dayton Public Schools $12,500 so far for Libbie Lolli and her boards ignorance of the Sunshine Laws. Click image above to download PDF

The School Board has spent $12,500 of their money defending themselves, to claim that they are entitled to have illegal secret meetings about closing schools in Dayton. The City, using their own attorneys has probably spent about a quarter of that.

There is no question that the task force was a public body, according to the judge, the evidence, all captured on video by David Esrati, is clear, that the task force did meet in their mobile yellow meeting room at the four schools, and the board HQ. All you need to do is watch the video.

So today, I extended the following offer to settle:

Settlement of Esrati vs City of Dayton et al

Hi Brian and John,
I tried calling Brian to make this offer- however his cell phone just disconnects when I call.
To date, the schools have spent $12,500 with Mr. Wildermuth to try to defend those without a defense.
I can’t guess what the city has invested.

Before we go to the expensive part, I’m offering to settle if the parties admit guilt, and that they clearly violated the sunshine laws in the school task force case, on numerous occasions.
First on Jan 9, with the meeting that ended up being cancelled.
Second on Jan 24, when both Mims and Al Hamdani claimed they didn’t have to do this in public.
And multiple times on the day of the tour- where I count Valerie, Meadowdale Elementary and Meadowdale High School, Wogamen and the HQ building- each as a separate meeting.
Basically- each stop of the bus.
Take those 7 violations- x $500 and then the question becomes is the organization liable or the individual violators?
If we just say the City and the School board are liable- it comes to $5K plus my court filing fees ($360)
If we do it per elected member of the task force- it comes to $10K.
Still, cheaper than the $12,500 the schools have already paid Mr. Wildermuth for this case.
And, cheaper than what the schools had to pay back to OHSAA in his other case that he “won.”

The caveat is, with their acceptance of guilt, the 4 elected officials (Harris, Al-Hamdani, Walker, Mims) would be referred to the Ohio Auditors Open Government Unit for evaluation on removal from office. Seeing that I’ve yet to find a single instance of a public official being removed from office in the State of Ohio for violations of the Sunshine laws, they should have nothing to worry about.

The Sunshine laws are here to protect us all, they shouldn’t be used by lawyers to put their kids through college. There is absolute evidence that discussions did take place on the bus, questions were asked, and video and audio recording equipment were banned, as well as non-compliance with notification of this event, and evidence that School Employees willfully suggested that communications not be conducted via email to hide these proceedings from public scrutiny. You will not win this case in court, or in the court of public opinion.

I am open to a counter-offer on the settlement amounts, however, let us be clear, that the average citizen wouldn’t have the capacity to fight this case, making it unlikely that I’m going to have invested this much time and energy and money, to allow you to be the only winner (Mr. Wildermuth).
The people of Dayton deserve better.
And I don’t take on battles that I will lose.

In the meantime, the case is scheduled for court on Aug 1, 2018

Bad math for public housing in West Dayton

Kids playing basketball at DeSoto Bass basketball courts- with an Esrati supplied free green net

I hang nets at the Bass courts about 3x a year.

In the “you should have to pass a math test to be elected” file, we can add this pie in the sky malarkey plan by Greater Dayton Premier Management for building low income housing in West Dayton:

A $96 million proposal to transform public housing in West Dayton calls for demolishing Hilltop Homes, shrinking and replacing DeSoto Bass units, adding new mixed-income housing and making other investments.

The multi-phase project — which could take as many as 15 years to complete, depending on funding — seeks to replace obsolete housing with new units and break up concentrated pockets of poverty by more evenly dispersing subsidized housing across the community.

The project’s price tag is daunting, but the community has a shot of winning up to $30 million in federal funds to help make the plan a reality….

GDPM plans to demolish Hilltop Homes’ 150 units. DeSoto Bass Courts, which sits on a 45-acre-site at Germantown Street and Danner Avenue, would be reduced from 350 to 250 units, and old units will be replaced with new ones.

Hilltop was constructed in 1965, and DeSoto Bass was built in two phases, between 1942 and 1953.

About 100 new replacement units also would be developed either in other parts of West Dayton where there are more amenities or elsewhere in the city and Montgomery County, Patrick said….

Tarina White said she grew up in a public housing development in Youngstown and now lives in Hilltop Homes with her children.

White, 42, said she would like to see Hilltop torn down because it is old and deteriorating. GDPM estimates it would cost $28 million to modernize Hilltop Homes.

“If they can build some new homes, that would be good, and also some new playgrounds and a community center and better parks for the kids,” she said.

She said McCabe Park right now is “trashy,” which is a shame because it could be a nice public space.

Source: Dayton public housing: $96M plan could reshape area

Of course, Hilltop Homes is the stomping ground of our new School Board President, the Reverend William Harris- the one who hears 7 no votes- and says “The motion passes.”

Tarina White is right- Hilltop should be torn down- because it was crap housing to begin with. As to DeSoto Bass courts, it’s solid well built buildings- much like base housing built around the same time. Those homes are solid-the problem is the people they house don’t have jobs, and we’ve concentrated poverty. They need nearby jobs that pay well, and to realize that these small homes are ideal starter homes for young families. Add a fitness/rec center, a pool, some nice common areas- and this could be a solid community. Put community based policing right in the center and voila- instant nice neighborhood. Tie in Louise Troy, Wogaman and Dunbar as community schools- and make them all great schools- and people will want to live there.

But, the math part. Take the 500 units. Take 96 million dollars. Divide it by 500- and you get $196,000 per unit. I place a bet, if you gave each adult resident of those homes half that amount, to spend on a buying a single family home in West Dayton, and rehabbing it- especially in one neighborhood- you could have the next South Park. I bought my house for $14,500- put about $65K in it- and voila.

The problem with subsidized housing is that without the real jobs/or skills to fill those jobs- you can check in but you can never leave.

We have to figure out a way to bring back jobs to West Dayton- what we don’t need is new versions of the old poor peoples ghetto, which is what this plan is buying. Unfortunately, every new project that DMHA/GDPM has built- is just as crappy as Hilltop. Madden Hills- the savior of West Dayton in the late 80’s isn’t much better than the savior of the 40’s- The Bass.

We need holistic solutions to these very real problems. It’s not the houses, it’s not the people, it’s income inequality and pervasive inter-generational poverty.

Time to go back to the drawing board folks.

County Veterans Service Commission Exec Director retires, job open

Herb Davis, retired from the Montgomery County Veterans Service Commission last week and his position is posted.
The salary range is wide, and the potential contract long.
You must be a veteran, able to deal well with bureaucracy- and work under a board that doesn’t play well with others.

For those of you who don’t know what a Veterans Service Commission is, this job probably isn’t for you. The State of Ohio has one in every county- and it serves as a point of contact to deliver immediate assistance to veterans in need, helping them with housing, benefits, medical transport, and a host of other things. Money is set aside from the State to fund VSC’s based on population.

Montgomery County has played games with it’s VSC for decades, including the choice of board members, and the repatriating funds meant for veterans to the general fund. Even the lease of the office space in the old St. E’s is a political football.

This organization is ripe for fresh, enthusiastic, visionary new leadership, so if you have a love for veterans, are one yourself, and believe you can fight the county to allow you to do your job properly, please apply.

This organization could and should be a lot more active in our community- and serve a much larger number of veterans than it has in the past.

Outlaw capriciousness

The first time I heard the word capricious was in college. It was from my political science professor, Jim Jacobs at Wright State, in a conversation about the enforcement of historic zoning laws in Dayton. I felt I was being unfairly singled out for improving my $14,500 house, while a house in the Oregon District, owned by a judge (and now by library director Tim Kambitsch) had the exact same garage doors- yet I was being ordered to replace mine for being “vinyl imitating wood.”

He said the capricious enforcement of the laws was the problem. I had to look it up then. And it strikes me now as the essential problem in the United States.

Capricious is an adjective to describe a person or thing that’s impulsive and unpredictable, like a bride who suddenly leaves her groom standing at the wedding altar. You can criticize a fickle-minded person as capricious, but it could just as well describe quickly changing weather, as in “capricious spring storms.”

~vocabulary.com

The whole premise of laws, and justice, is that the scales are balanced, fair and blind. In the idealized American dream vision, Lady Justice holds a fine honed sword, the balanced scales, and is blindfolded.

However, we know that more poor black men end up in prison than rich white ones, despite there being a whole lot less black people in the population. Five times more likely, to be exact.

We know that the likelihood of death by police shooting is much higher for black men than for white ones. Three times more likely.

All of this isn’t necessarily linked to the faults of the justice system, which may just be reacting to the built in biases and failures of our country to live up to the idealized version of America set in place by the founding fathers. We all know these near sacred words, in the second paragraph of the Declaration of Independence- “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.

Yet, those truths aren’t really truths. The truth is, what makes someone happy actually may actually be the denial of others happiness. We could go down the rabbit hole of Karl Marx right now- and start discussing the merits of class structure and ownership of the means of production, but let’s just assume that we’re stuck with the systems we have, and why, when laws are made, they only have meaning when they are enforced equally.

The simplified rule of law; “the restriction of the arbitrary exercise of power by subordinating it to well-defined and established laws.”

And the more nuanced version via the World Justice Project:

1. Accountability
The government as well as private actors are accountable under the law.

2. Just Laws
The laws are clear, publicized, stable, and just; are applied evenly; and protect fundamental rights, including the security of persons and property and certain core human rights.

3. Open Government
The processes by which the laws are enacted, administered, and enforced are accessible, fair, and efficient.
4. Accessible & Impartial Dispute Resolution
Justice is delivered timely by competent, ethical, and independent representatives and neutrals who are accessible, have adequate resources, and reflect the makeup of the communities they serve.

When you look at those four pieces, that have to operate together, you start to see where we fail miserably in Dayton Ohio. Over and over, we have let little things slip by, accepted mediocrity and stripped away protections until we have reached a level of dysfunction that seemingly just can’t be overcome.  No one can keep tabs on those in power. We capriciously  create tax structures (Austin Landing having income taxes only on the working class). Things are done in private (school closing task forces). And, in order to enforce things as simple as the residency of a school board member- you are on your own.

And it gets expensive. Really expensive. Because the mistakes compound at an exponential rate. Need an example? How many lawsuits will we have to settle at the Montgomery County Jail?

Did I lose you?

One of the supposed fundamental points of differentiation between “liberals” and “conservatives” is the argument about the size of government. Conservatives like to complain about too much government and intervention, and liberals expect the government to solve all their problems.

Unfortunately, no one talks about too many governments.

Part of the equation of old was that the “Fourth Estate” would be a guiding hand to influence, shape and keep honest the other three- being the clergy, nobility, and the commoners. However, there was no official way to fund the workings of the fourth estate (sure NPR gets a pittance from the feds, but that’s not enough) and with the changes in technology and the media landscape, we’ve not figured out a new way to keep tabs on those in power- all of them.

We’ve allowed governments to multiply to a point where no one can keep tabs on all of it, and when someone like me, tries to shine a light on just one of the bodies of government, in this case, the Dayton Board of Education, we start seeing the raw underbelly of a beast that operates without checks and balances or even professional standards.

Part of the reason they get away with it is because the people they “work for” are too busy fighting for survival. Transplant any of the problems of DPS to a wealthier community and the outcomes would be much different.

Imagine if Centerville tried to throw a football game. The reaction would have been swift and deadly for those adults involved. A year and a half after the Dunbar/Belmont fiasco- Mark Baker gets moved out of his job (not fired) and all the building Athletic Directors lose theirs. That a district is moving to a system that hasn’t been done anywhere else in the State- and that it takes money away from teachers who counted on the extra stipend, is lost on this board of elected dilettantes.

In Tipp City, the athletic director hired some family members- and found himself out of a job and facing criminal charges. At DPS, we’re patting ourselves on the back just because no money was unaccounted for in athletics, and people who had “lost” money (euphemism for theft) were allowed to pay it back.

At this upcoming board meeting, the Superintendent wants to implement new salary guidelines for administrators based on years of experience and sizes of schools. Great. Yet, she turns right around and says something like “if it gives someone a $15K pay raise, we won’t do it, this is only for new people.” And, the board sits their and nods their heads in agreement? This is capriciousness at work.

One board member asks a question about contract bidding processes. Dr. Sheila Burton says something incredibly stupid- “We have a rubric for scoring proposals, but, we pick the best fit not the best cost” and the board member sits and lets this capricious horse shit answer fly. Nope, you don’t have a way of scoring proposals then, and you should be fired is the correct answer.

The board is about to grant all administrators and staff a 3% retroactive pay raise- because, well, the others all got pay raises. The admin/staff folks almost shut down the district two times because they didn’t want to pay the rank and file. We even spent over $200K to hire a staffing firm to back up the boards reluctance to negotiate- until they caved at the last minute. If you think you deserve a 3% pay raise- go to another district. The sad fact is, most of the people working at the top levels of DPS are making more than they are worth and our performance on state testing prove it. If this board agrees to a RETROACTIVE pay raise, they should be the first to be fired. We elected a new board because the last board kept telling us we didn’t have the money to pay paraprofessionals, and now this?

The reality is, if there was one county wide school board, we’d have money to pay teachers well. We’d have competent leadership, and we’d be able to keep track of things much better. This also goes for courts, police departments, city managers and everything else. Does Moraine, population around 6,500 really need a city manager? Who is paid $145K a year? That’s $24 a year out of every taxpayers pocket for a guy who does the exact same thing as the City Manager of Kettering- right next door- population 55,306, and gets paid $196,442 or only $3.55 per person a year. To go one further- Dayton City Manager Shelley Dickstein’s pay of $196,116 works out to only $1.40 per person. Start to see my point?

There is no more fourth estate to monitor the workings or misdeeds of all these banana republics- and that’s why we have capricious actions at every turn undermining the framework of our idealized democracy.

To leave you with a thought about all these governments running amok:

“Governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, that whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles, and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness.”

? Cory Doctorow, Little Brother

It’s time to ban capriciousness- or at least, make sure we can keep an eye on the people we do elect.

Because it’s costing us a fortune.