Dayton’s 147 million dollar question

Full disclosure- at one point or another, I’ve done work for Scott Sliver, Shenise Turner Sloss, Valerie Duncan, Darryl Fairchild, Jordan Wortham, and Gary Leitzell.

The coming primary/special election/thinning of the herd on Tuesday May 4th is really a test to see if Daytonian’s have learned anything after the last 4 years of an insane president, and the importance of leadership in times of crisis.

Mike DeWine would have never been my choice for Governor, but he showed amazing common sense when faced with the covid crisis. Unfortunately, the rest of his party, which has divvied up the state in a way that they control everything, still manages to mess everything else up- and get away with it (that Larry Householder is still in office is your first clue).

Who you vote for matters, even locally. For decades, the will of the Montgomery County Democratic Party has chosen candidates for us. There have only been two regular election upsets since I’ve been around: Mike Turner beating Clay Dixon in 1991 by 400 votes, Gary Leitzell beating Rhine McLin by 1000 votes in 2009. Basically, any other change on the commission has been in a special election- and that’s how Dean Lovelace and Darryl Fairchild both got their seats- and by narrow margins.

That we even have choices in May is a nice change. For the most part- primaries/special elections have been rare- and Nan even went unchallenged once, after she spent nearly half a million dollars to beat AJ Wagner- an affable, competent leader who actually had a soul.

This election will be decided purely on turnout. Last time there was a primary, only about 5000 people bothered to vote. That’s why the current commission has their crazy charter changes on the ballot- so they can almost guarantee passage if their party faithful show up and no one else does. That they even have them on the ballot during this election should tell you everything you need to know- but, if you want to know more see: Dayton City Charter Proposals: the Good, the Bad, & the Ugly.

Regardless of your political persuasion, this election and the following one in November- the only question you should be thinking about is who do you trust most with $147M that’s coming from the feds as pandemic relief funds?

That should immediately rule our Jeff Mims, since he’s done absolutely nothing in his 8 years on the commission that would indicate original thinking.  The man is old, with tired thinking and is already proven to be willing to be an accomplice to almost any crime while in office- be it illegal secret meetings or helping his buddies Joey Williams and Roshawn Winburn take the fall for his criminal complicity. Mims is the last person you should trust with new money- because he’ll just continue to hand it over to whomever someone tells him to hand it over to.

Between Leitzell and Bowers is a no brainer for me. Bowers is a Trump Republican who believes that faith leaders will save us. Thank you, but I’ve already seen how the Black Ministerial Alliance did on the West Side- and while they may all drive Caddies and Benz’s the people sure didn’t benefit. Leitzell is the only clear choice- with his willingness to try unconventional things- and his frugal nature (He beat Rhine McLin who outspent him 10-1).

Among the commissioners- Scott Sliver and Stacy Benson Taylor can’t be elected, because either of them will give the remaining 2 commissioners- Matt Joseph and Chris Shaw their additional vote to continue to do Nan’s bidding as always – without a single question or idea.

So that leaves Darryl Fairchild, Jared Grandy, Shenise Turner Sloss, Valerie Duncan and Jordan Wortham to pick from. Pick any 2. And the question they need to answer is “What will you do with $147 Million extra dollars in Dayton?”

I’ve got some ideas, but, I’ll save them for another post. Because I’d love to hear their answers.

By the way- we’ve been trying to collect all the videos of candidates nights for this race and post them on my youtube channel in one place: https://youtube.com/playlist?list=PLE914mHsxMelk0OZHg_rys0kFTNY6uDfw
We’ll add more as they happen.

I’d love to hear what questions you want to hear answered as your voting litmus test. Please leave them in comments below.

 

It’s time for a National Police retraining and rebrand

Dudley Do-RightThere was once a cartoon police officer, his name was Dudley Do-Right, yes, he was a Royal Canadian Mounty, but the idea of a conscientious, well meaning police officer is something we seem to have lost. Need proof? American culture used to celebrate lawmen on TV, from Joe Friday in Dragnet, to Marshal Matt Dillon in Gunsmoke and even Inspector Gordon on Batman. Then things changed. “Dexter,” was about a police forensic technician/serial killer, was a “good guy”- and “The Shield” was about a posse of cops with questionable ethics. Clint Eastwood as “Dirty Harry” was “cool” with his “Go ahead, make my day” line as he’s considering being judge, jury and executioner.

The last bastions of professionalism of police went out the door when policing became reality TV- with the show “Cops” where people at their worst became entertainment for the masses.

Somewhere along the line, the very definition of being a police officer got fuzzy. And this isn’t a new discussion, it started as early as 1910 with police chiefs complaining about the way the “Keystone cops” made them look bad. For an excellent recap of the history of police in pop culture: Cops in Entertainment: From Bumbling to Hero. In fact, the Hays Code, a set of guidelines for self-censorship (later to evolve into our ratings system) run by the movie industry, launched in 1927, even had a rule about how to portray crime and criminals- “crimes can never be portrayed in a positive light and must be punished, and that authority figures (say, the police) have to be depicted with respect.” (Cops in Entertainment).

Now, with cell phones and body cameras and Youtube and Facebook offering not only video for review- but even livestreaming events as they happen, censorship and the revisionist history of police after action reports is out the window. Not only does it change the dynamic of policing, it changes the entire justice system that is now almost demanding video or it didn’t happen.

Yet, for most police in this country, their day in, day out routine is nothing like what we see, share and talk about. There was a time that a police officer could spend an entire career and never fire their weapon- or even un-holster it, even in a city like Dayton- not in Mayberry R.F.D. The idea of what a police officer is supposed to do is summed up with the phrase “To serve and protect” but, if you asked people today, especially in minority communities, it would be “to scare and persecute” and you’d have a hard time proving that wasn’t the case.

America today, with it’s “law and order” mandates is as far away from “land of the free and home of the brave.” We incarcerate more people, for longer, than any other industrialized country. And, as a percentage of population, minorities make up a higher percentage of their population. This is not just a police thing, it’s a government thing, a judicial thing, and a failure of our culture to do the right thing. At the root of all of it is systemic poverty and institutionalized racism- and sadly, money buys both politicians and freedom in this country. The rich do not go to prison anywhere near the same as the poor. So much for “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal” when in fact, they truly aren’t.

There is some kind of misunderstanding in America that one political party claims to be on the side of “Law and Order” while the other supports a “welfare state” without using critical thinking skills to address a fundamental failure of logic- it costs a lot more to provide room, board and health care in a prison, than it costs to provide affordable housing, education and health care for all. We’ve literally made mass incarceration into a private business model.

While there are people who believe that “originalism” is a viable way of interpreting the laws, the founding fathers would surely be rebelling against a system that denies “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness” to so many. Our police officers are only one cog in the machine, and for right now, they are under a microscope for the actions of a few bad apples.

Yet, the damage that Derek Chauvin has done to their profession with his 9 minute knee to the neck of George Floyd is far from the first or last incident that demeans their profession. This video, of two “peace officers” pulling their guns on a US Army 2nd Lieutenant Caron Nazario, in uniform, over a license plate, shows how far away the profession has fallen from “to serve and protect.”

If a sizeable percentage of the population fears the police, their profession is doomed. What was once an honorable profession, is now one that will only attract the people who should have their sanity questioned for choosing this line of work.

Politicians have already started to attempt to change the protections that have been in place for police for decades. Maryland legislators overrode their governors veto and made wholesale changes to protections of police officers in doing their job:

The wide-ranging changes were intended to address many of the concerns raised by demonstrators who have protested police violence after the deaths of Mr. Floyd, Breonna Taylor and other Black people killed by officers.

One section creates a new statewide use-of-force policy and says that officers who violate those standards, causing serious injury or death, can be convicted and sent to prison for up to 10 years. The standard says that force can be used only to prevent “an imminent threat of physical injury” to a person or to “effectuate a legitimate law enforcement objective.”

The policy also says that force must be “necessary and proportional.” Police reform groups said that was a tougher standard than the traditional “reasonableness” standard, which they said was not sufficient for holding officers accountable for blatant acts of violence. Mr. Consoli said the change would deter the police from intervening in volatile situations and open them to more “Monday morning quarterbacking.”

In another change, law enforcement agencies statewide must establish a system to identify police officers who are considered likely to use excessive force and to retrain, counsel or, if needed, reassign them.

Maryland lawmakers replaced those protections by requiring every county to have a police accountability board to receive complaints of misconduct from the public.

Source: Maryland Passes Sweeping Police Reform Legislation – The New York Times

While we spend trillions on “National Defense” and projecting power in Afghanistan, Iraq, and across the globe, we can’t seem to invest in protecting our citizens in a real and meaningful way. If the job of a police force is to “serve and protect” we wouldn’t have near as many deaths of people armed and unarmed in this country. We wouldn’t have so many people in prison for crimes of poverty, or for lack of suitable mental health treatment. And, police wouldn’t have a proportion of the population living in fear. The 2nd Lieutenant was being pulled over for not displaying a license plate- and was in uniform. By the way, a “police officer” who can’t tell the difference between an officer and an enlisted man in uniform, has no business being in a uniform.” We also need to reassess the practice of using military gear for policing. We have misguidedly turned our own streets in America into a war zone without even thinking twice about it.

In the military, when there is a need for a massive re-alignment of values, or retraining, they do a “stand down” where the entire force is refocused and retrained to address a particular value/process. It’s time for police in the United States to do the same. It’s time to create some national standards and rules of engagement that are universal- especially about use of force, rights of citizens to be appropriately informed when pulled over, and last but not least, to have body cams in place at every interaction. There also needs to be a new approach to training police officers and a much longer probationary period before they are allowed to have the power of life and death over citizens on the streets. When you realize that two of the four officers involved in the murder of George Floyd had police careers measured in days, it becomes clear that something is severely broken.

America needs to also re-evaluate what having police powers means. The proliferation of private police forces for the rich- be they hospitals, universities or parks districts, creates different standards of accountability to the public. It’s time for a massive re-alignment of departments with minimum size standards and all must report to elected officials- not CEO’s or College Presidents (See the murder of Samuel DeBose).

What would this newly trained and organized police force look like? What standards would they have? What protections would they be afforded? It’s something we, working alongside police departments, unions, police officers, judges, lawmakers need to decide and work toward, because if we don’t massively overhaul the system, the system will fail us all. It’s time to make sure Officer Do-Right makes a comeback.

epilogue.

I believe so strongly that America needs to change the way that it does policing that I produced two series of ads for use by the BLM movement, or people who agree that this isn’t working. They were entered in the Cincinnati chapter of the American Advertising Federation ADDY awards, where they won Gold at the local level and advanced to win Silver at the Regional level. Silver entitles you to advance the campaigns to national, which I’ve done. We won’t know the results for another month.

Surgeon Generals Warning:

Police Rebrand

The vaccination solution for America

Everyday, more Americans are still getting sick and dying from Covid, despite our massively fast vaccination roll-out. By June, we should have everyone vaccinated and stopped the spread- and the variants.

But, of course, we won’t, because there are “freedom loving anti-vax” people who are going to insist on not getting vaccinated. They will become the petri dish for new strains, that are increasingly dangerous, and will continue to spread and kill more Americans. They are proverbial menaces to society.

How do we solve this problem? Simple- if you aren’t vaccinated by July 1, if you get covid, you cannot be treated by any facility or physician that accepts government funded care. If you die of covid, your life insurance policy is null and void.

Now, don’t think that I would only use these conditions for care for Covid- I think it should also be applied to anyone who:

  • Is in a motorcycle accident and isn’t wearing a helmet.
  • Is in a car and not using a seatbelt.
  • Is operating a car with a blood alcohol level over .8
  • Riding a bike without a helmet.

The difference with almost all of the above 4 contingencies, is, you aren’t going to keep killing people after you win your Darwin awards, whereas vaccine avoiders can continue to cause problems by prolonging the spread and mutation of the virus.

There are a lot more American’s today than there were in 1918 with the Spanish Flu pandemic. We’re going to kill just as many American’s because of the stupidity of our leadership. Continue to wear masks, social distance and get vaccinated as soon as possible.

Dayton Daily news trying to go out of business

I stopped getting the print edition long ago, when they couldn’t ever get the paper to my door by 6am.
The joys of even the lousy “e-paper” was that it was always available when I got up.

Until today. First a blank white screen. Then a notice to login. Then a notice that I needed to change my password because there had been a data leak. Then, even after changing my password, still nothing. And note, not only did the iPad edition not work, but the “e-paper” from the home page didn’t work either.

So I call “customer service” and get asked 20 questions- to find my account? When she asks for my “account number”- I say forget it. You’re not trying to help me.

So much for supporting local “journalism” in my post, just yesterday. Every subscriber should cancel and then maybe they’ll get the message.

Why you should subscribe to the NY Times- at a discount

Subscribe to the New York Times for $1 a week.

You don’t have to read any of this. You just need to follow this link to subscribe for $1 a week for a year to the New York Times: https://nytimes.com/share/VQrAiRu This works on your smart phone, tablet, or desktop computer. You can thank me later. Here is why Daytonian’s (and others) should subscribe.

Why you should subscribe to the NY TImes

There is no such thing as fake news. There is news and opinion. Since the beginning of journalism, there has always been a healthy mix of both. If there is one, unforgivable left-over of the four years of Trump the Terrible, it was the attack on our intelligence, suggesting that facts weren’t, science is dumb, and that any bozo (including me) can create crap on the Internet and it’s believable. If you need any proof, just look at my last post, on April Fools day, FBI announces next round of indictments in Dayton, suggesting that the FBI would actually do their job and arrest some white people in their “Culture of Corruption” farce of an investigation.

The only reason my April Fools joke worked, is because over the last 16 years and 3,025 posts, I’ve built a reputation for being honest, open and shared insightful analysis of Dayton politics- and signed my name to it. I’m the son of a journalist, and while I didn’t choose journalism as my profession, I have a deep respect for it, and know the power it has to shape our community. Unfortunately, Dayton has a real void in journalistic integrity and capacity. It comes from a combination of factors- including absentee ownership and severe lack of ability to recognize true journalistic talent. The saying goes, “A” people, hire “A” people, “B” people hire “C” people (widely attributed to Steve Jobs, founder of Apple Computer). The Dayton news establishment at one time was dominated by Cox, which owned the main newspaper, the CBS TV affiliate and the strongest FM and AM radio signals in the region.The ability to do this was “grandfathered” by the Federal Government, because the feds knew that with great power came great responsibility, and local media should never be in the hands of a single entity. As the industry struggles, these rules persist because of the very danger to our democracy for good reason.

Somehow, sometime, the Cox family made the decision to get in bed with the local power brokers- even allowing the local publisher to serve on boards like the “Dayton Development Coalition” – a quasi-governmental slush fund of lobbyists who believe the secret to our success starts and ends at the tit of Wright Patterson Air Force Base and the Department of Defense. They would endorse who the political parties endorsed. The editorial page editor was married to a Democratic party hack. There was no room for outside voices. No square pegs for their round holes. And as long as the ad revenue poured in, who cared. Now, the “paper,” and I call it that instead of a newspaper, is no longer printed locally. It’s run by a skeleton staff, with limited institutional knowledge left (they’ve been buying out and retiring the talent at a record pace). Since they never have been able to truly recognize and attract talent, what they produce is generally a publication of day old news, centered around car crashes, fires, and the occasional local police misconduct. Financially, the “news” is just filler,  wrapped around their bread and butter; legal notices and government required classifieds, with a smattering of quarter page ads for hearing aids, hospitals, utility companies and governmental entities like the VA and the  Montgomery County Veteran’s Service Center (which has no clue on how to do marketing to veterans- just money that needs to be spent).

Their should be no one actually reading news in print form anymore. Any newsroom wasting time laying out physical pages and static photos, to be printed on dead trees, using petrochemicals to mark the paper, and then to ship it, and deliver it to your house, needs to be drawn, quartered, tarred and feathered and shot. Especially with their decline in physical readership and advertisers demands of targeted, measurable, trackable ads that are individually focused. It would be far cheaper to hand out internet connected tablets to every subscriber with a years subscription, than to keep doing a dead tree edition. It also would provide real metrics on what stories work and which don’t.

The New York Times figured this out long ago, although their advertising integration has been labored and poor. They still produce a print edition, however, they still sell enough papers in NY City to support it- and, they didn’t shoot themselves in the foot by outsourcing the printing to an outsider that has a 6pm the day before deadline- forcing yesterdays news into every mornings delivery like the Dayton Daily newsless does.

Everyday I read the NY Times first in the morning, on my iPad. I can skim the stories, broken down into useful categories, and choose to click into stories based on a brief excerpt. The only thing I wish they’d do is include either a story length indicator, or a choice of versions, for days when my time is limited. I can easily increase the size of the type, I can look up any words or search anything easily. I can share stories to social media or friends. Granted, the content is behind a paywall, so if they don’t pay for a subscription (see link above), they can only read a limited number of stories per month. At a $1 a week, it’s well worth it. At $4.25 a week, the normal price- it’s STILL WORTH IT.

Because, being ignorant isn’t an attractive quality. Ever.

Why you should subscribe to a local paper too (even if it sucks)

After I’m done reading the NY Times, which takes me about an hour, I click over to the Dayton Daily news “epaper” which is a broken and horrible way to present news. And, in less than 15 minutes I’m done. Most of the paper is stories I’ve already read the day before in the NY Times. The local stuff is limited- with about half of it being repurposed press releases from former employees working for hospitals and local governments. There is very little true reporting, and even less journalistic integrity. Case in point, you read here first about former Huber Heights Mayor Tom McMasters filing suit in Montgomery County Common Pleas court two days after he filed. I helped Tom put his thoughts in order for several days before he filed, so I knew I’d have a scoop- because there is no real courts reporter at the Dayton Day Old. So I gave them a chance to write it, before I published- and then, even goaded them to give the standard credit. Nope. Two days after I published, they did- with no mention of Esrati.com breaking the story as any real news organization would.

While I believe that it’s important to support local journalism, and pay $10 a month for the Dayton Day-old news, it saddens me that this is the best our community can do. It’s why I spend my time trying to help you understand what really is going on in Dayton, as best I can, without revenue from ads, and very few donations. If you want to help, without parting with cash, you could subscribe to my youtube channel, which needs 1000 subscribers before I can monetize it (I’m at 697 today).

There is a reason for journalism. When done right, it holds our government, business and even our citizens, accountable for their actions. It’s not always a professional reporter that makes us aware of injustice anymore. Some of it is just a young lady with her cell phone, going to the store with her kid sister, when she spots a bad cop killing a man with a knee to the neck.

She was the teenager whose video of George Floyd’s final moments rippled across the globe. And in a courtroom on Tuesday, Darnella Frazier, now 18, shared her story publicly for the first time, testifying that she remained haunted by Mr. Floyd’s cries for help as she watched a police officer kneel on his neck.

Ms. Frazier, at times crying, spoke softly during emotional testimony on the second day of the trial of Derek Chauvin, the former officer facing murder charges. As her voice cracked, Ms. Frazier described how what she witnessed that day last May had changed her life. She sometimes lies awake at night, she said, “apologizing to George Floyd for not doing more and not physically interacting and not saving his life.”

Source: Chauvin Trial Day 2: Young Witnesses Offer Emotional Testimonies – The New York Times

You can break a story of global relevance with your cell phone, but, the follow up, the digging, the filling in the blanks, takes real journalists, and by subscribing to the NY Times, you’ll be privy to some of the best the field has to offer.

 

 

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