Just say no to Amazon HQ2

Say no to Amazon HQ 2, sad amazon logo

Just say No to Amazon HQ2

If your city thinks it should offer incentives for Amazon to come to town, it’s time to reevaluate your leadership.

Sure, landing an HQ for a corporate behemoth is prestigious, and  can put any city on the map, but, to offer incentives to one of the richest companies in the world, that has been stealing from local coffers from its inception?

If you are looking at empty retail developments, a hollowed out downtown, declining sales tax receipts in the last 15 years- thank Amazon. It’s not that they did anything wrong, it’s that they did almost everything right- including putting pressure on every small business (the true job creators in America) to cut margins and compete on an uneven playing field.

An uneven playing field that is just made more uneven when our leaders are willing to bend over and offer their rear ends for a reaming with a smile. There is a reason Amazon has to make more room outside Seattle- they can’t afford to stay there. They’ve already driven the housing and office markets into the stratosphere, they’ve pushed the limits of infrastructure, they’ve caused more troubles than they’ve solved- all in the name of “winning” at the capitalist trough.

Don’t worry, they aren’t alone. We’ve seen it time and time again- as companies that don’t pay taxes like General Electric leverage their “job creation” into tax free offices in places like poverty stricken Dayton Ohio. Or watched companies like Boeing move their HQ from  Seattle to Chicago. NCR did the same to Dayton- and now their stock is worth less and their CEO makes more.

It’s not governments job to subsidize and coddle business- it’s governments job to provide a safe, healthy, clean, secure and well organized platform for communities to thrive. Business is only one part of that equation. It’s time to put a stop to corporate welfare.

What’s laughable is that despite not clicking on any of the boxes of Amazon’s dream list- Dayton thinks it should be in the running. This coming from a city manager who has repeatedly failed at “economic development” projects- the Wayne Avenue Kroger debacle, where years and millions of tax dollars went into actually devaluing a community, in order to lure a store that was supposed to come- however, she’d forgotten to get that in writing. On the other- the hole on Ludlow- City Manager Shelly Dickstein gave millions to developers who didn’t do anything but promise to do something- even stiffing the demolition company that ended up owning one of the historic gems of Downtown. And then she had the nerve to insist any developer of the vacant space which the city still owns- has to buy the demolition companies building as entry to the deal (how this isn’t illegal is beyond reason).

Let’s see- Dayton doesn’t have over a million people, it doesn’t have an airport with the connections, it’s lacking in quality education (no, you can’t move 50,000 people into the Oakwood School district), we don’t have a highly educated workforce ready to switch jobs (counting the base is laughable- many of those people have contracts with the US Government that aren’t really negotiable). The list goes on.

Only the Dayton Daily news would even write about this pipe dream without laughing. The New York Times did an analysis and came up with Denver, other smart publications have also done their filtering and come up with other communities- none in Ohio.

The attraction of jobs that pay six figures landing in your city with an income tax is mouth watering, however, the chances of landing them in a city with a 2.5% income tax on top of a state income tax is slim. Especially when Denver does it without any income tax.

At some point, Ohio needs to grow up and realize that allowing this state to be a ridiculous patchwork of local fiefdoms all trying to stay in power and support the friends and family plan of the Ohio Political Caste is keeping us from competing. You can’t have 28 jurisdictions in one county, and 88 counties in a state that’s losing population and clout at an alarming rate without thinking “we’re doing something wrong.”

Nationally, this country needs to just put an end to “economic development” incentives that support big companies over small ones, and make the playing field uneven and unfair. Did the residents of Georgia even get their $100 Million they invested to lure NCR there back, before NCR asked for another handout to move within the State? Doubtful.

If you read George Orwell’s “Animal farm”- this line should come to mind: “all animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.”

Kettering cop assassinates passenger in traffic stop

Kettering police Chief Chip Protsman tried to justify a murder by suggesting that Officer Jonathon McCoy was ok in spending 69 seconds telling a passenger in a car what to do at gunpoint.

It was Philando Castile all over, without the facebook live video from the driver of the car.

Kettering police officer Jonathon McCoy gave nearly 30 commands to the occupants of a gray Ford van last Sunday once he saw the front-seat passenger had a gun in his right front pocket.

What started as a traffic stop of the woman driver for not signaling while changing lanes and malfunctioning brake lights escalated into an officer firing nine shots at Jason Hoops.

Source: Officer warned suspect before fatal shooting

I watched the video, and wonder where the “to serve and protect” part comes in.

Officer McCoy was on a traffic stop. He approached the car on the passenger side and started asking for license and registration. He also started asking who everyone in the vehicle is- on a traffic stop. Last I checked, police don’t have the right to start asking people why they are in a neighborhood, or what they are doing.

(added 3 Sept) Ohio is a stop and identify state, however, even in this case, the cop was beyond his rights:

“Stop and identify” statutes are statutory laws in the United States that authorize police to legally obtain the identification of someone whom they reasonably suspect of having committed a crime. If there is no reasonable suspicion that a crime has been committed, is being committed, or is about to be committed, an individual is not required to provide identification, even in “Stop and ID” states.  (end addition)

We have a fourth amendment that protects us from this kind of harassment- well, maybe not in Kettering. If you need a refresher:

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Then when McCoy saw the butt of a gun sticking out of the passengers pocket he panicked and pulled his gun, pointed it at the passengers head and said “You reach for that gun, I will blow your brains out, do you (expletive) understand me?”

My question is if it is legal to carry a concealed weapon in Ohio, what gives an officer the right to pull a weapon out, point it at someones head and threaten to blow their brains out?

Police apologists will say, he was an ex-felon and didn’t have a right to have a weapon. How did Officer McCoy know Jason Hoops was a felon?

They will say that Jason didn’t comply with the orders. I can tell you from experience that when guns are pointed at you, people are screaming at you, not everyone reacts rationally or normally.

They will say they had  “a signed statement from someone who said Hoops said was not going to go back to prison and “was willing to take out any cop that he had to.”” Yet, McCoy couldn’t have known that either.

And of course, the kicker, “Protsman said that what called “pipe bomb” making materials found at Hoops’ residence were still being investigated.”

So, according to Chief Protsman, “What I’ve seen in this video, I’m pretty confident in saying that this officer did a very good job on this stop,”

Excuse me? A man is dead, without judge, jury or anything but the judgement of one cop who over-reacted. If this is a “good job” he needs to find a new job.

“Stand your ground” is not for cops.

The moment Officer McCoy saw the gun, he should have said, to the driver, “can you please shut the car off, and put the keys on the roof for me” as he backed away from the vehicle, “I’m going to check something and I’ll be right back.” Going back to his cruiser, he should have asked for assistance.  At no point, should he have felt threatened by a gun in the vehicle, or in the pocket of a passenger. At no time, should he have pulled his weapon and pointed it at someone, it was a traffic stop. Mr. Hoops didn’t have a warrant, wasn’t suspected of committing a violent crime, he was a passenger in the car of a bad driver.

How big a threat was Hoops? Watch the woman walk into her house from the car with her dog. Did she seem scared? The driver pleads to Officer McCoy “please don’t do that” after McCoy says he’ll blow Hoops brains out. She wants to get out of the car- before he goes full Sgt. York on Hoops. Can you blame her? Obviously she understands she’s in danger with a rabid cop- and that bullets go through bodies.

Instead, because Officer McCoy was poorly trained, scared and over-reacted, we have a dead citizen. Even if Hoops had the gun in his hands, if he hadn’t pointed it at anyone, he wasn’t a threat when the officer came to the car. Hell, McCoy has to ask the rear seat passenger after unloading his weapon on Hoops- if the gun was real. So, toy guns in your pocket is a threat too? Did anyone study the Tamir Rice shooting? Another case where the cops could have stayed out of harms way and deescalated the situation.

““We know there was a physical confrontation where the officer reached in and grabbed hold of Mr. Hoops’ right arm, trying to stop him from reaching down towards the gun,” Protsman said. “This continues for a little bit.” Did Protsman, or McCoy learn anything from the Samuel Dubose murder in Cincinnati- that officers don’t reach into vehicles? Experts testified that this is a dangerous move by an officer. Why didn’t McCoy back away, and seek cover?

Because McCoy shouldn’t be a police officer.

Chief Protsman shouldn’t be defending McCoy’s actions.  And, the investigation of officer shootings should no longer be trusted to local authorities. It’s time for a federal investigation team, similar to what happens when a plane crashes. Bring professional, unbiased, detectives to discern the facts from the fiction. This is the proposal being made by the parents of man killed by a cop in Kenosha Wisconsin.

When a plane crashes, experts pick through the wreckage to determine the cause and make recommendations to prevent the next accident. The process is so effective that for the last several years, the death rate from crashes of American commercial planes has been zero. But no comparable system exists in policing — and that may help explain why you are far more likely to die at the hands of a cop than to perish in an plane crash. Police officers in the United States now kill about 1,000 people and wound more than 50,000 every year.

Of course, no independent team arrived to perform a forensic analysis of the younger Mr. Bell’s death. Instead, the Kenosha police department spent two days investigating its own officers before ruling that the shooting was justified.

Source: Why Are Police Officers More Dangerous Than Airplanes? – The New York Times

Even the way the Dayton Daily news frames this story, it’s as if the cop had a right to pull his weapon on a traffic stop. Have we forgotten the shooting of Walter Scott in North Charleston N.C. where Officer Michael Slager might have gotten away with murder if not for a passerby video taping him shoot Scott in the back.

If you don’t think this pattern is getting out of hand, you aren’t paying attention.

If McCoy is the kind of cop Kettering and Protsman want to defend, I retract all my statements about Kettering being the best run community in the region.

If this is “to serve and protect” we’re safer without police.

 

It’s your constitution, protect it or lose it.

A conversation that didn’t happen: “Rosa, why didn’t you just go to the back of the damn bus?”

Another: “Patrick, are you sure about that give you liberty or give you death line? Is that your final answer?”

A letter that was never written from a Birmingham jail

What if the founding fathers said “eh, taxes” no big deal…

Sheriff Joe Arpaio did something very wrong- he ignored the Constitution, under the power of law. In other words, he swore an oath to protect the constitution and then used his power and authority to violate it.  Every soldier swears an oath upon enlistment:

I, _____, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God.” (Title 10, US Code; Act of 5 May 1960 replacing the wording first adopted in 1789, with amendment effective 5 October 1962).

Source: Oath of Enlistment – Army Values

Wording first adopted in 1789. Let that sink in.

Standing up to authority and calling them out on misbehavior is difficult enough when it’s a school board or mayor. When it’s a sheriff, you’re arguing with a man with a gun and a badge.

What Arpaio did was tantamount to what the Nazi’s did pre-WWII- stopping people on the streets to see if they were Jewish. You know what happened to 6 million of them. The idea of stopping someone and asking to see their papers is about as un-American as it gets- yet that’s exactly what Arpaio was doing- even after he was told not to. The issue is covered clearly by the 4th Amendment:

Amendment IV

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Source: Constitute

And if that wasn’t clear enough- they stuck another Amendment on-

Amendment XIV

Section 1 All persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

Source: Constitute

Sheriff Joe broke the law. He was awaiting sentencing. Then, the president pardoned him. Some people say, well other presidents have pardoned people- and reel off some of the more egregious examples- however, there is a process to this, and most of the time, pardons are in the works for 5 years.

Yes, but Ford pardoned Nixon is the next thing out of your mouth. And while there is no one who would have rather seen Nixon go to prison than my father, he explained it to me long ago- the trial, the distraction, at that level, it wouldn’t have been good for the country. Or as a friend likes to say, “the juice ain’t worth the squeeze.”

When President Trump pardoned Arpaio, he was circumventing the constitution, and letting a little bit of our democratic foundation be eaten away. Yet, we don’t see the venom on this issue like we do on any infringement of “god given 2nd amendment rights to bear arms.” What Trump did was give tacit approval to round people up without any other probable cause other than looking Hispanic. Substitute Black, Jew, Japanese and this should offend you. A lot.

Trump has already attacked the media relentlessly, calling it fake news. One of the keys to our whole system of checks and balances used to be a free press. Now, it’s the enemy of the president. Who will inform of us these transgressions- and who will take a stand?

Do we expect congress to do it? They’ve stood by for the most part, while he’s dismantled treaties that protect the environment, they didn’t denounce him when he stood up for Nazi’s in Charlottesville, and now this?

Remember, they swore an oath too.

This happened late in the day on Friday. Congress isn’t in session. You can stand idly by and let this slide, because, well, it doesn’t really affect you- you aren’t Hispanic- and old Joe, ain’t even the Sheriff anymore. But to that, all of us must remember the words of Martin Niemöller:

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

Source: First they came … – Wikipedia

It is time to speak out.

This post is dedicated to my friend and fellow veteran, Zack Sliver, who stepped in and up when others wouldn’t. Wishing him a quick recovery, and justice.

 

 

A year has passed: Stephen G. Esrati 1927- Aug 18, 2016

I slept on the pull out couch at the VA Hospice. Dad. made some noises around 2am. He wasn’t really there, the spirit of the man I knew had left a few nights before, when he ate his last meal- a double bacon cheeseburger from Burger King.

I left to take a shower around 8am- and to pick up Mom. He died while I was gone. The nurse said, sometimes they wait to die alone. I’ve come to accept it.

That last meal was really a favorite- partially because as a non-observant Jew- it was the ultimate giving of the middle finger to the orthodox. He even listed it as his favorite food on his profile on the Jerusalem Post. I don’t think he ever got over being hung by his cheek on barbed wire as a young boy while riding his bike on the sabbath in Palestine. Someone had to come- lift him off the barbed wire, which had been strung to enforce their interpretation of the sabbath. He came close to losing an eye.

The right to protest always had limits, but, when your rights were taken away, it was your duty to fight. That’s why, when the fight to create an Israeli state began, he set off on an illegal journey to fight. And when the ship he was on was boarded in Lebanon, and the males of “fighting age” were ordered at gunpoint to leave the ship, he went first.

Over the last year- some young med student, has hopefully, been learning how to save someone else’s life- by practicing on the vessel that held his spirit.

Me, I’ve doubled down on fighting the good fight. From taking on the school board with their catastrophic choice in superintendents, to trying to prove that Phil Plummer runs a jail unfit for human habitation. Dad would have been proud. He also would have told me, at some point, you have to take care of your business- and all this, is for the ungrateful, those who never pay attention until it’s too late.

But most of all, I’m thankful that he didn’t live to see the rise of Donald Trump.

What happened in Charlottesville last week would have him marching in the streets. Not necessarily about the neo-nazis protesting, but Trumps comments after. To him, words matter. The difference between politicians “distancing” themselves and “denouncing” Trump are very clear in his book, and in mine. To see Cohn and Mnuchin, two Jews, stand there, while Trump makes excuses for Nazis would have been the tinder to set a fire under his ass. That they haven’t resigned, rejected, denounced, the idiot in chief is tantamount to treason in his book- not just as Jews, but as Americans.

Speaking of his book- he wrote one on citizenship to me, for my 17th birthday- but started around the time of another national tragedy- the massacre at Kent State.

You don’t have to go very far in his book to find something that speaks to the issues of the day, and that in itself is sad. The more things change- the more they stay the same.

The American Creed
When I was a kid we still had to memorize things. I don’t know if schools still do this. If they do and if we had not left the United States, you might have had to commit to memory a short statement of what it means to be an American. I learned it in the sixth grade at the George G. Hamilton School in Everett, Mass. Even today, I can honestly say that I think its author, William Tyler Page, clerk of the U.S. House of Representatives, did a fine job of expressing the ideals of Americanism in “The American Creed”:

I believe in the United States of America as a government of the people, by the people, for the people; whose just powers are derived from the consent of the governed; a democracy in a republic; a sovereign nation of many sovereign states; a perfect union, one and inseparable, established upon those principles of freedom, equality, justice and humanity for which American patriots sacrificed their lives and fortunes.
I therefore believe it is my duty to my country to love it; to support its Constitution, to obey its laws, and to defend it against its enemies.

Long before you were born, I had become convinced that freedom, equality, justice and humanity were not the operating principles on which the United States was run. I would not have been able to say that most Americans believed in those ideals, at least as long as it was cheap for them to say so. Every American paid some lip service to these principles every year.
To some it meant that an American had some inherent right to tell people in other countries how they should conduct their affairs. On the premise that the U.S. system of government was not only the best possible but actually perfect, Americans forced their ideas on other countries. That is why West Germany is a federal republic. That’s why the Philippines has a President and a Congress. And before Fidel Castro threw out the perfect system, even Cuba had it, brought at gunpoint by the United States Marines.

We don’t learn “The American Creed” in schools. We castigate people who question our government- which is less and less, by the people or for the people. Listen to Trump as he turns on the CEO of Merck for leaving his little committee- who dared to question- “@Merck Pharma is a leader in higher & higher drug prices while at the same time taking jobs out of the U.S., Bring jobs back & LOWER PRICES!”

This, in response to: “America’s leaders must honor our fundamental values by clearly rejecting expressions of hatred, bigotry and group supremacy, which run counter to the American ideal that all people are created equal.”

I miss my father.

But, I miss the ideals of my country even more.

If you have time for a short read, please, take the time to read “Dear Son, Do you really want to be an American” by my dad. I’ve shared his gift to me to you for free. In his memory- if it just helps one of you to better understand where we’ve gone wrong, it will be a fitting tribute to the man who made me.

 

It’s time for separation of politics and medicine

Meme about narccicism posting practices on facebook

Reading Facebook isn’t the same as reading the New York Times

The first amendment to the Constitution dictates that politics in America stay out of the church. Maybe it’s time for a 28th amendment for politicians to stay out of medicine.

Refresher:

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

Lately, we’ve had politicians practicing medicine without a license, which is illegal by the way, as is practicing law without a license. The problem may stem from the fact that to practice politics in this country, there is no competency test, no requirements other than residency, age and sometimes to be free of a criminal conviction. Need proof that anyone can get elected, look at Dayton’s Mayor or 45.

In fact, we’ve almost created a catch 22 system for politicians in this country. Catch 22 refresher:

A catch-22 is a paradoxical situation from which an individual cannot escape because of contradictory rules.  The term was coined by Joseph Heller, who used it in his 1961 novel Catch-22.

An example would be: “How am I supposed to gain experience [to be hired for a job] if I’m constantly turned down for not having any?”

Catch-22s often result from rules, regulations, or procedures that an individual is subject to but has no control over because to fight the rule is to accept it. Another example is a situation in which someone is in need of something that can only be had by not being in need of it. (A bank will never issue someone a loan if they need the money.) One connotation of the term is that the creators of the “catch-22” situation have created arbitrary rules in order to justify and conceal their own abuse of power.

Source: Catch-22 (logic) – Wikipedia

Final 3 words are relevant here: “Abuse of power.” Which is often what we have when politicians try to play doctor for the television cameras. Until the last year, most of this posturing circled squarely around one medical procedure, abortion, or as Republicans would re-phrase it, “the death penalty for the unborn.” Note, while most of them are very anti-abortion, most of them have no problem with the death penalty, as long as it is handed out inequitably to poor people and minorities. And, God forbid, we talk about contraception to teenagers, because that would also be morally wrong. Don’t talk about sex with children because, well, they might start doing it after they hear about it.

The new big thing for politicians to talk about is actually an old thing, “the war on drugs”- specifically the “opioid epidemic.” First, lets be clear, we had the “war on poverty” and it got worse, then we had the “war on drugs” and it got worse. We went to war in the Middle East and it got worse, when people have that bumper sticker “War is not the answer”- they are speaking the truth.

And by the way, war, when entered into correctly in this country, is an act of congress- a thing politicians do (to others). War is the last resort, it is a tool for those who failed at statesmanship, which, despite the non-gender neutral insertion of man in the middle, is the art of the deal (so sorry, I had to stick that in) to broker a mutually acceptable peaceful resolution to a perceived inequity.

That last word, “inequity” is important, since the next civil war, the next uprising, or the next collapse of our country- will be centered around that very concept- the un-equal sharing of the collective wealth of this nation. And why do our politicians fail to see the coming storm? Because our election system isn’t rigged by the Russians, it’s rigged by the wealthy who discovered with subtle manipulation over time they can game the system to elect puppets, or as I like to call them, “the best politicians money can buy.”

Onto what our bought politicians are doing by meddling in medicine without a license.

It’s big news when a local “leader” comes up with his baseball solution to heroin overdoses- a three strike rule, where on your third OD, no Narcan. Local Sheriff Chestpuffer decides to go one step further- his deputies won’t carry Narcan. Sidenote to idiot sheriff, we have an average of 2 children a week treated for coming into contact with heroin- and some have died, so now, your deputies without Narcan will be performing abortions on actual children instead of future children, oh, and btw, we also have officers of the law who need to be revived with Narcan after contact with junkies- so it’s OK for them to die while performing their job in your department.

Note, I’m not linking to either of these idiots, they don’t deserve the link juice, just take my word for it. It’s out there, and you know how to google. Besides by the time I publish this, there will undoubtedly be copycat morons in communities across our great nation. Guaranteed. Ohio is not the only incubator of elected idiots.

Next up comes local laws concerning the banning of medical pot dispensaries in our state, long before they are even done writing the rules for how these facilities will be licensed and monitored. We used to call this NIMBY- not in my back yard, and it applied to other necessary evils of society, junkyards, landfills, toxic fume spewing factories and power plants, prisons, you name it. Hell, life would be so much better if I didn’t have to have a bathroom in my house where my roommate stinks up the place- but, well, I poop too, and so do you. The true meaning of your shit doesn’t stink as applied to politics is NIMBY- a failure to understand that collectively, we have to have bathrooms and landfills (but public bathrooms, that the homeless can use…. no, we don’t need those- or park benches they can lie down on…. the list goes on).

Medical pot is not recreational pot. Sort of like Morphine isn’t the same as Heroin, well, wait, it really is, except one is administered by professionals and the other is amateur hour. There are people who could benefit from medical pot, including my mother. She’s an 89 year old woman with dementia. She’s lost 20 pounds since my father died, has problems sleeping (I had to ween her off ambien, after the episode where she walked across the street in her nightdress at midnight, to pound on my door to demand I give it to her- 4 hours after I’d given it to her.) She gets agitated, she forgets to eat, she has difficulty sleeping- the only danger in medical pot/edibles- is she runs out of ice cream/chocolate/or Trader Joe’s Triple Ginger Ginger Snaps (try them, they are the bomb). While medical pot would, and may have helped her  right now, thanks to our political geniuses playing doctor, it won’t be available legally until 2018. Mom would say thanks, but, well, she’s not really with us fully these days.

What makes a local council person an expert in medical treatment of dementia with medical marijuana? Not a damn thing. In fact, when have politicians actually come up with any law that provides us for better health care? (I’m leaving this one open- trust me, there isn’t one that everyone will agree on). From abortion, vaccinations, to what goes in our food, to mental health care, to death panels and assisted suicide, our entire premise of enacting laws to cover health care, by people who have no credible expertise on any of the above, is a prescription for malpractice.

And what is the problem with us? In order to run for office in our current political client, you probably would receive the following medical diagnosis:

Narcissistic personality disorder is a mental disorder in which people have an inflated sense of their own importance, a deep need for admiration and a lack of empathy for others. But behind this mask of ultraconfidence lies a fragile self-esteem that’s vulnerable to the slightest criticism.

Source: Narcissistic personality disorder – Mayo Clinic

Hell, I’ve been told I have it- and the nerve of me, writing this blog about all of this, what are MY qualifications? I’ve got a degree in marketing.

At some point, and I’m seriously afraid of this, we may need to turn to the military for a solution. No, not shooting people, but, adapting a standardized test for job qualifications. The military uses their ASVAB test-

The Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) is a multiple choice test, administered by the United States Military Entrance Processing Command, used to determine qualification for enlistment in the United States Armed Forces.

Source: Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery – Wikipedia

Imagine all politicians having to pass a test, including a basic understanding of actual civics, to be taken before running for office? There are members of the State Legislature that recently had to be schooled on the laws they created about school busing for charters and who pays for it. Sad, but true.

And, before you wonder what this veteran’s ASVAB score was, the lowest was a 113 in clerical, the GT was 128, and I think they give you 30 for just knowing how to use a pencil and fill in the dots. You needed a 32 to be a truck driver, 25 to be an 11B (infantry, bullet-stopper) when I took it in prosperous peacetime. The top scale not being 100 is one of those things with the military, I don’t know what the highest possible score was, but, my scores put me in the 99th percentile at the time. Continuing with my narcissism, I also had a high enough score on both the DLAB (Defense Language Aptitude Battery) and the FAST test (Flight Aptitude Selection Test), in basic training I was selected as a potential candidate for West Point prep as well.

And, while we’re at it, maybe the idea of testing voters needs to be considered as well? Dayton sends slate cards to all the polling places, so even the functional illiterates can vote the party ticket by cross referencing names to the ballot (even those who can’t read, can shape associate).

It’s time to re-evaluate not only our laws, our law makers, but the process of a democracy in a world where Facebook has become a credible news source- or this blog.

For our elections to be truly certified, we need to make sure, we as a country aren’t certifiable (crazy).

Let’s pass a constitutional amendment limiting public office to people who aren’t morons. It may or may not solve a lot of our problems.

Mental health care gets a pink slip in Dayton

This story better have a happy ending.

Right now, a 45 year old service disabled veteran with mental health problems is not in the VA getting treatment, he’s in Sheriff Phil Plummer’s hell hole of a jail. This is where people with misdemeanor crimes end up dead. This is a country that says collectively that 20 veterans committing suicide a day is a problem we’re committed to stopping, and yet, here is a man, who wasn’t trusted with his own shoelaces last week while confined to a psych ward at Grandview, now behind bars for being mentally ill.

People say blame Ronald Reagan for shifts in policy in mental health care that closed down mental hospitals across the country. You can read about the case that was made for deinstutionalization of the mentally ill in this excellent article in the New York Times from 1994: HOW RELEASE OF MENTAL PATIENTS BEGAN or this article from Salon from 2013: Ronald Reagan’s shameful legacy: Violence, the homeless, mental illness either way, the answer is the same, we traded away a broken attempt at government health care into the hands of big pharma who no doubt lobbied their way into the market for their brand of medicine- take a little pill and everything will be ok, which is fine, if the mentally ill people would only act rationally. Which they don’t.

I could take you on a tangent, to go on a rant how this action by the government created our problems with homelessness, the panhandlers, and the growth of our prison population. We’re good at whitewashing our real problems with new solutions that aren’t, as long as it can sound good coming out of a congressman’s mouth- as a paid puppet of which ever lobbying group stands to benefit. The reality is health care for all is, and should be, a fundamental right, guaranteed by the constitution, just like the 2nd amendment guarantees the right for any and all of us, to own a gun. Oh, the irony. Just remember, in the founding fathers days, a gun was a muzzle loaded musket, and “medicine” wasn’t much more than bloodletting and torture at the hands of a “healer” who was really an imposter- pretending to heal while often having more in common with a butcher. It wasn’t pretty.

Legislating based on current best practices depends on also updating legislation based on current best practices. We, as Americans seem to fail to adapt, and we know what Darwin said about those who fail to adapt (or do we?).

Mental health via community control might work if we really did have a foolproof system of safeguards in place. Regular health and welfare home checks would be a start. Mental illness has lots of indicators of oncoming trouble, changes in sleep patterns, weight loss or gain, compulsive behavior, personal hygiene failures, money problems, issues in the workplace, interpersonal tension. Proper monitoring by a trained professional can help catch a crisis before it becomes a disaster, which is where we are now. Jail is not part of an effective treatment regime.

Backstory

Last spring, before my Dad went in the hospital to die three months later, before I became the soul caretaker of my 89 year old mother with dementia, before I found out that a trusted employee and “friend” was neither, I stepped up to help a friend by agreeing to be his power of attorney, both  durable and statutory. I did this while he was in a state mental facility, where he had been transferred after an arrest while manic. This was nothing new for him, he’d been bouncing from ER to ER for treatment of his psychiatric disability for years- totally unaware that as a veteran, he was entitled to not only care at the VA, but a disability pension. As one of his friends, who had a modicum of experience with VA benefits, and the system, as well as a bully pulpit of this blog and connections to people above my pay grade, it became my mission.

If you’ve been religiously reading this blog, you might remember a post last summer about trials and tribulations with both the SSVF program and the Montgomery County Veterans Service Commission. Despite his 3 year plus service to our country in one of the military academies, some bureaucrat misinterpreted the  definition of veteran on their own, without actually checking the law of the land. We’re still fighting a misunderstanding that a veteran is one who served in the military, combat isn’t the defining experience.

Had I not been dogged about my advocacy, we would have had a homeless veteran, and due to the failure of the system, it’s my name that’s on the lease as responsible for the state of his place, not the program that he was entitled to. I have actual skin in the game on this, something I didn’t think was coming with job description. That lease was signed a year ago June- and had things gone according to plan (which they never do) I might have had to hire a house cleaner to get the deposit back, but am now looking at a glazier, a drywall mechanic, a house cleaner and maybe an exterminator, but that’s the least of it.

In that year, I managed to get his social security restored, put money in a STABLE account, get him a car, a phone, a place to live, his VA claim submitted, his criminal charges dropped (with help from a local attorney, Enrique Rivera, who took the case pro bono), and with help of another friend- kept him employed part time and for the most part, out of trouble.

The trouble started last time, by all accounts, when Social Security dropped his disability payments because he was “making too much money” and so he took extra jobs to make up for the shortfall. Because he had to stay awake, he stopped taking his meds- which make him sleepy, and one thing lead to another with his eventual arrest on the side of I75 in Franklin county, as he was pulled over and manically searching through his car for something. The cop thought he was drunk, and threw in a public indecency charge since he had no belt and his butt made an appearance. He was in the jail for 3 days before we found out he’d been arrested and already transferred to the psych unit.

It took almost 6 months to get his Social Security restored, which came with a big payout of almost $9K. It was as if he’d won the lotto. Unfortunately, having this much money in your account- also is a dis qualifier for receiving disability, so I set up a STABLE account to legally hide the funds. This is one thing I can credit Josh Mandel for doing right- creating a savings vehicle for those with disabilities, so they can have a rainy day fund. Good thing too, because it wasn’t long before those that giveth started asking for it back- saying they miscalculated. They want almost half of it back. Never mind, they can’t even deposit it in the right bank account, after 6 moths of telling them they putting it in his account instead of the payee account.

For almost a year he was golden. He paid his boss off early on a loan for a $1200 Toyota, he paid his phone bill to me each month (adding him to my account saved him money and made it easier to manage), his rent was paid for the first six months by SSVF, and PIPP and HEAP made his utility bills manageable. One could almost say that the safety net was working, as long as I was staying on top of everything. But, alas, when the warning signs started, I as well as his friends and co-workers, didn’t catch his fall from grace until it was almost full blown, which took about 30 days.

The crash

Mental illness is never a single issue problem. You break an arm, you put it in a cast. Your brain breaks, it’s got so many symptoms and compounding issues it’s triage- deal with the life threatening situations first, deal with the other issues over time.

The early warning signs in our case were an increase in drinking and the draining of the measured amounts of money I was entrusting to his personal account. Buying weight loss drugs from unreputable sources via the internet should have been one huge disaster siren of a wake up call. The nights out drinking watching the Stanley Cup with friends (to which I was the designated driver) were also a bad idea- but, we thought things were going pretty well, and if a few beers makes someone happy and feel like one of the boys- well, cheers.

Psychiatric drugs and hydroxycut (or whatever he bought) are a bad idea, as is beer. There’s a reason it’s a four letter word. When he asked for me to deposit $300 into his account (he’d been living off his paychecks, and a few hundred every month for a year) saying he’d given $200 to his son, should have been a red flag. That money was gone in a minute as well. The charges were so often, so small, and all over the map it was insane. He actually asked for help from me and his boss  on Wednesday the 21st. We sat in my conference room and tried to map out a plan. The next morning he texted me asking me to take him to the hospital, with a stop at McD’s on the way there. He’d awoken in a pond of his own piss. We went to Tank’s instead, where his eyes were bigger than his ginormous belly- and he over ordered and couldn’t even eat his pancakes. In one of those strange coincidences, his former Eastway case manager sat at the next table. They talked briefly- and we left with the decision that he was feeling better and would just take his meds and go to work.

When it came to the coming paycheck, instead of letting him put it in his personal account, we thought it better to go into the payee and be rationed out. This infuriated him, and rightfully it should have, but, when you’re manic, everything pisses you off.

That was Friday the 23rds paycheck. That weekend, he managed to make it to a bunch of his favorite watering holes. East Dayton dive bars where everyone knows his name, and smoking is generally permitted although illegal. One of the things that endears him to people is his generosity which increases when manic or drunk. He’s worked for tips for years, and so he always tips well. I could see what was happening by logging into his bank account, which was constantly at zero or overdrawn.

Monday, I called his case manager at Eastway. She’s new and I hadn’t met her yet. She, unlike the old case manager, didn’t know who I was, didn’t have that any idea that I was POA- and now claimed that POA wasn’t enough of a justification to talk to me. She needed me to be a guardian. There were supposedly some forms that she needed me to sign- and she was going to be over in the next few days to do that after I emailed her the PDF copies of the POAs that I keep handy in my dropbox.

Next thing I hear is she has gone to his house, and pink slipped him ( a medical 72 hour hold for evaluation), instead of taking him to the VA as I’d discussed with her, she took him to Grandview. Newsflash- sources tell me that Premier/Miami Valley Hospital no longer accepts psych patients via pink slip, putting additional stain on the already inadequate system.

A friend of his who happened to be there when the case manager and cops showed up, helped keep things calm, and he went willingly. After the door was locked, the friend decided to break in to shut the a/c units off- and instead of going out the way he came in- left the front door unlocked. So now, I had to find the keys. A trip to Grandview that night, I came up empty handed, when the nurses said he didn’t have them. I dropped off my POAs. He didn’t want to talk to me or have a visitor- I got the one finger salute through the safety window.

His car was in a bar parking lot, about a mile from his house. How he got home the night before, I still don’t know. The car had been having problems keeping the battery charged since a welfare driver hit the drivers side outside his work and somehow secrewed up the drivers door just enough that the door ajar light would keep draining the battery that really needed replacing. I had it towed to Carl’s body shop- to get that fixed, the A/C fixed (he had been complaining) and to possibly fix the front bumper since it was held on with duct tape. This was also to keep the car out of his hands until the drunk driving wasn’t going to be an issue.

A trashed kitchen serves as an indication that menal health intervntion might be a good idea

Signs of mental illness. This is his kitchen

By Wednesday night I get a call, an apology and that they had his keys I come get them and  go to the house and get disgusted. Clothes everywhere, trash everywhere, food everywhere. His mattress is standing on edge. The place is worthy of a haz mat suit. I try to find some clothes, put things sort of right, and make sure his only item of real value- a 55″ TV I bought him in a January sale for $300 was still there- in the box (he’d not gotten it out because, well, he’s mentally ill and couldn’t ask for help). I find some clothes, bring them home and wash them- along with everything I’m wearing- as I head directly to my shower, fearing bugs.

The next day, I bring the clothes and “snacks” because, well, a man’s gotta have snacks when he’s locked up. He wants to talk this time. He’s not wearing shoe laces- because- well, they don’t trust him not to kill himself. I talk about transferring to the VA. I’d emailed all the honchos Monday night when I heard he’d been taken to Grandview. I’d talked to the head of social work, who told me to ask their transfer team to coordinate things- the only problem is- Grandview’s people didnt’ want to talk to me either- again saying my POA wasn’t enough- I needed to be his guardian. No one from the VA came out to evaluate him while ill. No one from Eastway was returning my calls. Thursday, just after noon, while I’m talking on the phone to the people at the VA trying to get him to go directly thee- he walks into my office, and sits down. They’d given him bus tokens and sent him on his way.

Yesterday, no shoelaces. Today, bus tokens and a boot out the door. No, he didn’t want to go to the VA. I drive him home. He doesn’t want me to come in. He had confessed the night before that he’d also put a hole in the drywall. I ask if I can arrange for people to come help clean it up, he says he’ll do it himself.

I forgot to mention that when I got the keys, I was also told that he’d been to a bar in Centerville on Sunday night, before he was at the bar where he’d left his car. He’d run up a $35 tab and left his drivers license and debit card there. I should go and get them- and tip at least 20% because he’d done what he did. His tab had one sandwich and beers, shots, well drinks- he was definitely drunk when he left to to the other bar where he had gotten in a fight in the parking lot, smoked some weed and also lost his smart phone that wasn’t even paid off yet.

Friday, we go to look at his car and see if we can find his phone in it. It’s a moving waste basket. No phone. The car also has a new dent on the rear passenger quarter panel that he says he did.  I get him a new SIM card and hand him my parents old flip phone with his number on it. Keeping tabs on him was critical. How else could I find out if he was ready to go to the VA? He’s not going in to work just yet- he’s not ready, and neither are his co-workers, who are all rooting for him.

Friday night- he’s burning through his $20. Saturday night he calls from an Oregon District bar, he’s drunk, he’s a a drunk, he’s happy, and he ran up a $35 tab and left his license and debit card again. I get this message at 12:30 am- and go to get him. He’s not there. I know the bar owner and he can’t find him either- and promised me he’d 86 him from the bar in the future. I pay the tab. Can’t find him. Go home. Next day I go over to his house at 1pm to meet the people who were going to help him clean the place. The plan was to gather all the clothes- go to a laundromat and do them all at once, while others cleaned and organized what was left. But, as I go up the street on the way there- I get a text-

helper: Nevermind David this guy is definitely not interested in any help he’s a little upset that things go the way they do and obviously that’s a conversation you and him need to have but we attempted we had everything ready to do this and not going to go into a situation where it is definitely not wanted on that person’s part sorry
David Esrati: Sorry. I’m here now. I thought you were going to be here at 1
helper: Well I stopped by a few minutes early to see what exactly we were going to need so that we would have everything but he was not open or agreeable to having us do anything

I knock on the door- he comes out screaming at me. He’d taken his beard trimmer and cut a swath from his lower lip straight down to his chin, giving him a wild fu manchu short beard- there was a hunk of green snot above his upper lip- he was shaking, he was mad, he threw things at my minivan, he told me to leave or he was going to punch me- there was already a recliner on the parking pad that he’d thrown out of the house, I got in my vehicle to leave as fast as possible- dialing 911 as I turned out of his alley.

I wanted the police to come and pink slip him again. He’d threatened me- he wasn’t trusted with shoelaces in the last week- what’s the magic phrase “are you a threat to yourself or others”- I thought he’d met all of those conditions. The first cruiser meets me around the corner, an older male cop and short female. They start assessing- and call for the cavalry. In the next ten minutes no less than 10 cops show up- including a few sergeants, and a guy in plain clothes who identifies himself as a hostage negotiator. They mill about. Talk to me, talk to each other. Call in to central. At one point, the pissed off veteran screams down the alley- and throws the recliner for effect- he’s now shirtless- we hear something that sounds like a baseball bat beating the shit out of something twice.

The cops tell me I’m not the guardian. They don’t think they have grounds to violate his constitutional rights. They don’t even go up to talk to him. This is crisis management at half-a-blocks length. I offer to walk up and try to talk to him- so they can observe, to which they tell me I’d be the instigator- and it would be my fault. They say crisis care can pink slip him- I call them, they talk to the cops- they say the cops need to make the call. They drive off.

I call 911 and report their inaction. I tell them specifically, on record, that if anything happens to him in the next 24 hours, I’ll sue them to kingdom come. Sorry, not our problem, we’re the sheriffs bitches, call DPD. I ask to speak to a supervisor- they take my number.

I’m back at the office cleaning my a/c unit. I get a call from one of his co-workers. He’s walking down Wayne Avenue in boots, his underpants and a hockey helmet with “something that looks like a weapon, slung across his back.” I call 911 again- and head that way. I spot him changing on the street corner at Park Drive. The hockey helmet is on the ground, he’s pulling on a shirt, he has a backpack, I’m on the phone to 911 when the supervisor finally calls me back as I start to talk to the first officer that’s shown up. He’s moved around the corner to a parking lot and is talking to his co-worker- I have the hockey helmet in my car. They talk tot he supervisor on my phone, we end the call, the hostage negotiator shows back up- and they start a conversation with the mad man. At one point I step out where he can see me and he immediately starts going ape shit- the cop tells me to step away. I go get the hockey helmet- go back and set it where they can see it and leave.

Final report from the coworker, the cops thought it was ok for him to walk around in his underpants with a hockey helmet- he hadn’t broken the law. A woman can legally walk around topless too. They took him to his bicycle.

Bicycle? What bicycle? He had said he wanted me to get him a bicycle, for exercise. The last one I got him was when he was in the halfway house after the arrest- and it got lost in one of his pink slip visits that time. Turns out, he’d pawned the TV in the box for $200 on Saturday afternoon, and got a bike- and probably some cash to blow before he’d run up the bar tab in the OD.

Monday, I’m calling Eastway and the VA. No one is answering. I’m emailing. I’m worried that he’s going to end up either dead, or in jail again.

You already know he’s in jail. Happened around 10:30 am on Tuesday July 4th. I still can’t find any police reports from any of the encounters. He started with an M-4 and M-5 and a $1000 total bail. By later in the day, it said he had a whole bunch of charges:

bond.

# COURT CASE NUMBER CHARGE DESCRIPTION CHARGE DEGREE CHARGE STATUS JUDGE BAIL TYPE BAIL AMOUNT DISPOSITION DISP DATE NEXT COURT DATE
1 MONT-DMC () MENACING M4 WAITING COURT ACTION *Not Entered* TEN PERCENT 500 *Not Entered* 07/05/17 01:45 PM
2 MONT-DMC () DISORDERLY CONDUCT M4 CHARGE CLEARED *Not Entered* TEN PERCENT 500 RELEASED BY PROSECUTOR 7/5/2017 07/05/17 01:45 PM
3 MONT-DMC () MENACING M4 WAITING COURT ACTION *Not Entered* TEN PERCENT 500 *Not Entered* 07/05/17 01:45 PM
4 MONT-DMC () AGGRAVATED MENACING M1 WAITING COURT ACTION *Not Entered* TEN PERCENT 2500 *Not Entered* 07/05/17 01:45 PM
5 MONT-DMC () AGGRAVATED MENACING M1 WAITING COURT ACTION *Not Entered* TEN PERCENT 2500 *Not Entered* 07/05/17 01:45 PM
1

All of these aren’t crimes, they’re signs of mental illness.

And I, despite being assigned duties of Power of Attorney, am helpless in being able to do anything.

Bailing him out, won’t put him directly in treatment, and frankly, I might be on the receiving end of an ass kicking instead of a thank you.

Yesterday, I called everyone I could to try to get an intervention. No one from the jail staff picked up a call- from the medical people to the director, to the duty sergeant. The Dayton Chief was in meetings, Col. Ecton didn’t call me back. The VA tried to send a person to the jail- a “Veteran Justice Outreach Coordinator” tried to see him, but was thwarted by the shift change, and would be trying again this a.m. No one returned calls from Eastway either. Several hours of my time wasted, all while also dealing with no a/c at home or my rental (I’m looking at $1750 to fix both- and while my tenant had a/c last night- I woke up at 4:30 sweating my rear off- and wanting to share this story of woe).

I had thoughts several times of calling the national veterans health care line. I also thought of sending an email to the head of the VA. In the past, I’ve actually gotten a response from former VA Chief Bob McDonald, but the other Donald fired him.

We’ll see what today brings, but I hold little hope for help for this veteran.

Had things worked out right, I would have thought that the first time I reached out to the VA saying there was a veteran on suicide watch in a local hospital, an action team would have sprung into action to make sure all is done to safeguard that vet.

Why am I still an optimist?

When will America realize jails make lousy psych wards? That health insurance isn’t the same as health care? And, mental health is actually treatable and shouldn’t be considered a stigma, but a measure of society values- in how we treat and take care of those who are less fortunate.

To anyone of you who read all 4310 words of this TL/DR post, thank you. Do me a favor- please leave a comment, even if it’s just one word. America, we have a problem, and it’s crazy to think it’s going to go away by itself. Thank you.

Pray for a veteran.

Act II- update, 3:30 AM Saturday July 8, 2017

Late in the day Thursday, I get a call from the DPD officer who specializes in mental health emergencies. She, and a case worker from Eastway had been called to the veteran’s home early on Tuesday July 4th. He’d broken practically every window in the place- with his bare hands. He’d threatened the neighbors screaming “you go get your weapons, I’ll go get mine” and the place is an even bigger mess. Now, his box spring is sitting outside, one air  conditioner is next to the house- with broken expansion panels. The other A/C unit is in the house- among the squalor.

  • The bathroom
  • The TV- shrine of OTC weight loss
  • Start a fire?
  • Who needs A/C when you break every window?
  • Gumbo for the flies.
  • The kitchen floor.
  • Broken glass- not sure if the bars were bent before.
  • “This” is mental illness?

The cop and social worker go looking for him- and find him half dressed in a nearby park, covered in his own blood. He’s raging. They pink slip him again. The officers get him into a cruiser, where he does the classic crazy “bang your head against the windows” as we’ve seen in the bad behavior reality show “Cops”- of course, new cruisers now have back seats built for this- you can literally hose out the back of the car, and the whole interior is basically ballistic plastic.

They take him to Miami Valley Hospital- to get treated for the bleeding- and to admit. He’s sedated in the ER- and then things get murky, he’s not admitted. Somehow, the hospital thinks he’s good to go and begin to release him. Some officers who had pink slipped him either that day or previously, decide he doesn’t need to be out in public and arrest him and take him to the jail, where he is placed in solitary.

This info, at around 5:30 pm is the first accounting of what happened. I was still unable to pull up the police report online. Got it Friday morning, after I’d gone to the house myself to inspect. The house visit had me feeling queasy. He’d tried to start a fire on the stove top. There was a pan of gumbo on the kitchen floor festering with flies. Ceiling tiles are pulled down. The bathroom is trashed, the sink full of some brackish water. On top of the old analog TV are neatly arranged the OTC weight loss pills that probably contributed to this disaster- they are the only things in the place that seem orderly- as if placed on a shrine for worship.

I go back to the office, wait for my video guy to show up late, and begin working on the paperwork to get guardianship so I can bail him out AND direct him to treatment, since none of the people who’ve been involved in his “treatment plan” seem to have his best interests in mind. I make calls. I’ve pulled almost every person of influence I know into my wheelhouse for help. State Reps, lawyers, my neighbor who used to be the head shrink for crisis care, the PR maven at ADAMHS (our local health and human services admin org). Calls are coming in on two phone lines, but not the ones I need.

We go out and shoot a video- my video guy, who is from a small town in Indiana, can’t quite fathom how this happens. When we get back, he’s warning me to check for bugs, he found one on himself. I go to shower and dress. It’s 11:30 and I still hadn’t had breakfast. The clothes go directly into the wash.

Armed with a stack of papers, I head to the courthouse. Probate is on the second floor- the woman at the desk starts her hands dancing through the papers- I’d put his current case number on all of them- mistake number one. She’s got whiteout tape to fix that. However, I need $50 for the emergency filing and $350 for the full guardianship- which has to be filed at the same time. Here’s another huge stack of papers. I’m going to have to get a background check (but not first thing), bonded, and, btw, you need to have him evaluated by a medical doctor before we can accept the paperwork.

Before I go to Eastway to bow and pray that his doc will sign off on this, I go up to Judge Henderson’s court and talk to his bailiff. She’s compassionate, kind, helpful, but the judge is out until 2- and, frankly, he heard this case on Wednesday and has already entered preliminary charges, it’s unlikely he’ll make any changes to bail or order treatment etc. unless there is a plan in place to manage this mess.

On to Eastway. The skys are darkening, and as I sit in the waiting room to meet his caseworker who wouldn’t talk to me over the last 2 weeks, a security guard walks by saying, “It must be about to rain, DirectTV is out.” Just as the social worker and her boss come out to greet me, the torrential downpour begins. The social worker is wearing dark clip on sunglasses over her prescription glasses, inside. Who is she? Men in Black?

They are very nice. She was out at the house on the 4th, has no clue why MVH dropped the ball. Agree that he doesn’t belong in jail. His Doc isn’t in today, but his old one is. He liked his old doc. I go in to see her, and she’s this sweet woman who says “beautiful” a lot as I describe what I’ve been trying to do to help this veteran over the last year. I had mistakenly filled out the form for the doc in the pile of papers – why not play doctor like on TV? No one else has effectively cared for him. She reads it over, nods, but says, “I can’t sign this because I haven’t seen him lately” and asks me what to do? Me. The amateur social worker/friend/legal beagle wannabe/crisis care interventionalist without a paycheck, me.

I say, you could sign it- knowing from experience and interviewing me and your social worker who saw him Tuesday as reference, or you could (hold for the long shot, pie in the sky request) “go see him in the jail and evaluate him.” She says, well, “I can do that, my incoming patient can see a nurse.”

Damn. I love this woman with her “beautifuls” and her eastern European lilt in her voice. She says to say hi to my neighbor who used to run Crisis Care- and that she missed him. I’m thinking I just hit the lottery. I’ll go back to my office and fill out the half inch of paper, while she evaluates him and by the time she gets done, I’ll be done, run to the courthouse, file and miraculously, the judge will act, and I’ll be able to haul him out on bail and have him taken to the VA for inpatient care.

An hour later, as I finish the paperwork, except for getting the form from his son agreeing that I should be the guardian (I’ve been communicating through his brother, who is also suffering from the same bipolar diagnosis- as is the son), the case managers supervisor calls. “We saw him, he was lucid, he said he didn’t want you to be his guardian, she’s not signing the paper.”

Meltdown. The energy generator that’s been burning in my belly to get him out of the “criminal justice system” (and yes, that expression is either ironic as hell or the best oxymoron since “military intelligence” or “jumbo shrimp”) and into our third world nation mental health care system just got encased in concrete and doused with as much water has fallen from the skys of Dayton this last week.

I failed. The imaginary system failed too. Despite the facts according to the Doctors own caseworker- that he should have been in a psych ward, and that he’s in jail, with restraining orders from his neighbors, and that he’s done enough damage to clean out all the money I’d managed to put away to help him do something like get his own place- psycho boy gets to call the shots, and I’m not the designated hitter.

I could get mad at the doc. I could get mad at myself for not doing the guardianship when he was healthy, but hell, I thought that was what the health care POA was for. No one told me it wouldn’t be enough to manage his treatment when he’s obviously ill.

I talk to my friend, his now former boss, who tells me I’ve done more for him than anyone else- by getting his SS money back, by setting up a STABLE account, and most importantly, getting him into the VA system, but, I’m not the first to give up on him or get blamed for man/boys bad behavior. “Just clean up the mess and let it go” is his advice.

The brother thanks me. He understands my position and plan that’s being formed for me.

First steps: reglaze the windows, get the trash hauled out, get the clothes gathered, laundered and packed. Fix the broken stuff in the apartment- the stove, the ceiling tiles, the miniblinds, the kitchen cabinet drawer that’s in pieces. Put everything in storage, turn in the proverbial key (no one has it right now- or at least is able to get it). Pay the storage bill until his money runs out and turn over POA to someone that feels like being the next punching bag.

A friend who owns a glass shop has a guy coming on Saturday (today), another friend, a veteran, who calls himself a “Debris-ologist” will be there at 9am to start the haz mat removal. His line always makes me laugh, “satisfaction guaranteed or twice your junk back”.

My stomach, which is usually made of iron, is churning and feels like the stuff in a lava lamp. This isn’t what’s best for the veteran, but, I’ve got my 89 year old mother with dementia, a business, employees- that have to come first. There is a long rambling message on my home answering machine from him, thanking me for everything I’ve done for him- and that he didn’t mean anything he said while manic. He left that last week after the first pink slip. Maybe I’ll make it into an MP3 and post it- if I can stand listening to it anytime soon. The words of anyone who is radically bipolar all come with footnotes, that may or may not contradict their actions, or even what they are saying in a span of a voicemail.

I also sent a scathing email to the “team” at the VA, suggesting that their failure to intervene will not go quietly. I referenced this initial post. I told them video was coming. I’ve written the head of the VA- McDonald before, and I’ll write Dr. David Shulkin soon. Congressmen and Senators will be contacted, hell, I’ll even tweet Trump (I’ve already talked to my friend Rob Scott who ran his campaign in Ohio.) This will be someones story to tell to use to dismantle the VA, even though I believe that the care I’ve gotten, that my father got, is as good or better than the Cleveland Clinic (dad used to be seen there as part of Kaiser Permanente in Cleveland). Video added 8 August 2017

If he dies in custody, or anything else happens to him, rest assured, I’ll find an ambulance chaser lawyer and make him wealthy. The documentation- the call to 911 AFTER the cops wouldn’t even talk to him, the steps I took, all make for a very sympathetic jury. Maybe his son will end up owning the Fairgrounds after Premier has to pay for their mistakes. Remember, I wear a nice watch, that I bought with part of the settlement with the city over Mike Turner’s arrest of me while I peacefully protested their attempts to limit public speech at meetings. I wear it, to remind myself, that we always have time for free speech (and because at 36, I still thought that you could give yourself a medal for fighting city hall and “winning”).

There will probably be a third act in this tragedy. Sadly. Stay tuned.

 

 

The Philando Castile verdict and you

“A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” 2nd Amendment

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized. 4th Amendment

“Guns don’t kill people, people kill people”– Things stupid people say.

Officer Jeronimo Yanez was formerly a police officer in the Saint Paul Minnesota suburb of St. Anthony. Almost a year ago, he pulled over a car with a broken tail light, with three people in it. The driver, Philando Castile, a cafeteria worker, told the officer that he had a CCW license, and was reaching for his ID. Officer Yanez, shot and killed Mr. Castile, without seeing the weapon, because he “thought” Mr. Castile was reaching for his weapon. The passenger, Mr. Castile’s girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds, became facebook famous for live streaming the event. Her daughter was in the back seat.

This video is still painful to watch.

Yesterday, Mr Yanez was acquitted on charges of second degree manslaughter and endangering safety by discharging a weapon.

If this verdict is allowed to stand, police around this country who chose their career “to serve and protect” should have some serious reconsidering to do. This verdict, could forever change every interaction between police officers and their communities. Never mind the case in nearby Cincinnati where a college cop, Ray Tensing is in the midst of his second trial on a similar traffic stop murder of Samuel DuBose, which was captured on the officers body cam.

When we have instances with well trained, supposedly trusted and respected professionals, killing innocent citizens, we are getting dangerously close to losing all freedoms that a civil society provides. The ones most Americans have always seemed to take for granted. As in we own this craptastic myth without having to pay for it- it’s ours by birthright. “It’s an inalienable right”– which almost sounds funny these days- in-alien-able – we don’t like aliens much here lately, especially those damn illegal ones.

If we are truly going to be “America the beautiful, home of the brave, land of the free” and all that goes with it, it’s time to do some serious reconsideration of what that means.

Not being murdered by a trusted officer of the state who pulled you over for a broken tail light sounds like a good place to start.

Owning a gun legally got Mr. Castile shot dead. That he may have smoked some pot is not enough to make him a menace to society (the whole pot legalization can of worms is another subject for another day, however, in Minnesota where this shooting took place, pot was legal for medical use at the time). This “defense” of the shooting is using reefer culture like rape culture- “she was dressed like a hoe, so I had to rape her.” Wrong.

There is a question on an internet dating site that is an instant dis-qualifier for me. “Do you believe your country would be more or less safe if every adult owned a gun?” If they answer more safe- I’m out of there. It doesn’t even stop there, another question asks “In a certain light, wouldn’t nuclear war be exciting?” and some fools say yes.

Which brings me back to the fundamental issue of our crazy interpretation of the 2nd amendment. It does not talk about guns- it talks about arms. A handgun, a long gun, a machine gun, a flamethrower, a tank, an artillery piece, an intercontinental ballistic missile, a nuclear bomb? All of those are arms, and accordingly, Americans should be allowed to own all of them- and do. That’s why we have a military. As to your individual right to own one, unless you are part of a well regulated militia, the answer, according to our founding fathers, is no.

If you need a reminder of what passed as arms back in the day- I think this commercial makes it clear.

They too, believed in the freedom from being shot randomly- they mentioned it- “being necessary to the security of a free State“- security comes from the safety that an organized form of government is to provide. One where random shootings aren’t a daily occurrence. Something that isn’t happening in America. Everyday, hundreds of people are shot, because somehow, “guns make us safe.”

Which weapon was banned for killing too many Americans?We banned jarts, a lethal “toy,” because a few kids died when someone had bad aim. For those of you too young to remember them, they were a version of bocce ball- or corn hole, that used a weighted dart as the thing you threw at your target, or accidentally at young children. It was advertised as “Outdoor fun for the family” – until someone dies.

Yet, even in the wake of a congressman getting shot while playing baseball– “Americas favorite past time”- we still believe we can’t regulate or control guns.

We can’t demand that gun owners actually are engaged in “a well regulated militia” as part of gun ownership. We can’t demand that guns be kept under armed guard, as they are in the military. We can’t demand that owners must proved not only proficiency, but mental competence (which is a slippery road) and for why? We need guns to defend ourselves is the answer. The question is, how’s that working out?

In America, you are more likely to get shot than in any other first world country. The cost to our country of gun ownership, when you figure out the medical costs, the crime costs, the legal costs, the deaths, is astronomical. It’s a tax we pay without getting a bill.

Talking about gun control is considered political suicide. If you don’t see the irony of naming a warship after Gabby Giffords, a congresswoman who was shot, and became an anti-gun crusader, you have bought our fantastic lie, hook line and sinker.

Guns don’t make anyone safe. Guns are made to efficiently kill people.

But, but, what about the hunters? Until the insane people in the Ohio statehouse legalized silencers, pretty much any hunter would tell you, you shouldn’t be considered a hunter if it takes more than one shot to bring something down, because, you don’t really get a second shot most of the time (even animals skedaddle when they hear a gun go off). Real hunters are fine with a double barrelled shotgun or bolt action rifle, it’s only when hunting people that you need a 20 round magazine.

The number of people hunting people in our country lately far exceeds those hunting bambi. Is this really what the founding fathers envisioned?

And don’t start with the talk about how some idiot in London killed people with trucks and knives. Just don’t. It puts you in the same basket as this basket case:

But, but, we have so many guns. We can’t take them away? We banned jarts didn’t we? We mandated seat belts in cars, airbags, we stopped selling cigarettes and booze to minors, we put a man on the moon. We can do anything we want to do. And, if you need proof it can be done, cue Australia, who decided after their first mass shooting to restrict gun ownership. We have people who believe the Newtown school shooting wasn’t real. At what point does crazy count as sane? Cue President Donald Trump.

We talk about the values innate in the principles of democracy. Yet, about half of us exercise the right not to vote. On our money, it says “In god we trust”- yet we claim a separation of church and state. None of this works when we stop believing it works. Our safety, our security, our money, our freedoms- all are based on a blind belief that our country and “free society” is built on laws and constructs that are fair and true.

Allowing Officer Yanez to walk free, should make us doubt everything we know as truths to be self-evident, aren’t.

 

Hodge podge governance costs us all

He who has the gold makes the rulesWelcome to the Not Really United States of America.

We have a state where prostitution is legal, another where booze is almost not, we have some where pot is legal for medical, some for recreational, and then communities in our area where pot dispensaries are already banned, before medical pot is even legal.

We solved the gay marriage thing, sort of. We’re not entirely sure about bathrooms for people who don’t fit exactly in the checkboxes, and when it comes to pay equity for the sexes we’re way off. Let’s not even touch the inequity between the races- other than to say it’s an embarrassment of epic scale.

Outcomes in health care, education, life expectancy don’t compare to other first world nations and our infrastructure from internet access to high speed rail makes us look like a third world banana republic.

Our rules, regulations and tax structure and jurisdictional divisions are as arbitrary as the numbers pulled in the super lotto- which is just one more dangling carrot to divert our gaze from the fact that we’ve created nothing other than a new replacement for the monarchy we sought to divorce back in 1776.

Do the words “local control” sound like a good idea to you? Our inbred fear of power collected at the top of government has driven us to allow the smallest jurisdictions to “guide our own destiny”- as long as it doesn’t get in the way of someone with a lot of money wanting to do things differently.

Case in point- many people are mourning the passing of Dean Lovelace. His “legacy” was talking about predatory lending before anyone else. He even passed legislation against it- for a nano-second before the powerful banking establishment who has bought our state legislature sent his little laws back like a bounced check. Dean may have been onto something, but he was as impotent as a eunuch in a whore house.

From our education system to our health care system, from our public safety to tax collection, from permits to common practices this slapdashed mashup of laws and regulations across 50 states a few territories and even global trade is doing only one thing: making the rich richer and the rest of us, miserable cogs in a machine that has zero empathy in its settings.

And while Republicans rail against taxes and regulation, they don’t really do anything to solve them. And while Democrats scream about inequity and public welfare, we’re still sliding down the scale of achievement. The system is broken. This is where the ideas of socialism and communism were born- and yet, as practiced, they fail too. Why? Because people are human- and the “me first” urge is kind of hard to break.

Throughout history, empires collapse when inequity becomes too obvious. We’re somewhere close to that. Although our masters have gotten smoother at distracting us- 500 channels of television, you can lose yourself in Facebook, or you can rail against the machine as I’m doing right now- on the internet- which is the great equalizer (except it’s really not- when the digital divide still exists).

There are things we could do, but it would take strong leaders, something we’ve resisted since our inception. Ohio could put an end to the system of political subdivisions and lines drawn on a map in 1785, before we had all these new fangled things like cars, computers and corporate giants.

Imagine a State with one income tax, one property tax system, one sales tax rate. It’ll never happen, because giving up power over taxation is tantamount to the end of corruption as we know it. How about one school board? Or, one police chief per every 250,000 people? Proportional representation was part of our formula in the start- why isn’t it now?

The cost to business of trying to calculate the taxes collected on what, who, where is just pure overhead. The cost of enforcing it, parsing fines, audits, all the rest- is also overhead. The cost of all these local yokels running their little fiefdoms expands out way past their jurisdictions. The increase in the Dayton income tax has a ripple effect cost as every payroll processing company in the country has to adjust and modify their software. And is anyone in places far away supposed to understand the income tax structure of Austin Landing where income tax is based on owning an elevator in your building? (This example still amazes people when I share it).

How is sales tax online collected? And why does it have to be so complicated? Bricks and mortar local retailers are getting screwed with local sales tax, and poor people, who have to use them, because they don’t have credit cards to buy online, pay more. Why isn’t there a flat internet sales tax in this country- and why can’t it be spent on building out the system so everyone has high speed internet access? That would be a game changer- for education, for commerce, for democracy- because, information and access to it is the critical part of a functioning democracy.

And why shouldn’t the internet be controlled by the state instead of Time Warner, ATT, Sprint, MCI, Quest, Spectrum, Charter, Level 3 etc? We invented it with our tax dollars- for national defense no less. Look at your internet access bill, it’s higher than it is in other countries and as close as West Dayton or Eastern Greene county- high speed access is hard to get.

When Mark Zuckerberg starts talking about a universal basic income, and is willing to create solar power drones to distribute internet in third world nations, we’ve got a whole new monarchy in place, we just don’t know it yet.

If everyone was connected, well informed, and well represented through a modern information based legislative system, maybe, there would be hope for us.

Hodge podge government, without an informed and empowered electorate, enables money in politics to divide and conquer.

But, for now, the old rule still applies, he who has the gold, makes the rules.

The Narcan® roundabout

In this Wednesday, Sept. 7, 2016 photo released by the East Liverpool Police Department, a young child sits in a vehicle behind his mother and a man, both of whom are unconscious from a drug overdose, in East Liverpool, Ohio. Drug overdoses killed a record 3,050 people in Ohio last year. AP Photo.

In this Wednesday, Sept. 7, 2016 photo released by the East Liverpool Police Department, a young child sits in a vehicle behind his mother and a man, both of whom are unconscious from a drug overdose, in East Liverpool, Ohio. Drug overdoses killed a record 3,050 people in Ohio last year. AP Photo.

A small business I work with has had the Dayton Fire Department stop by almost every other day- because someone OD’d in their parking lot. The other day it was a city employee. The medics revealed that when they looked him up- they found out that he had been treated the day before as well. If a Narcan® revival was a frequent flyer bonus, we’d have people with miles to go to the moon and back.

Current practice is to revive them, offer treatment, which they refuse and let them go right back to using.

That would classify it as insanity- doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.
I wrote a post about Narcan, coincidentally, 2 years ago to the day: “Just say no to naloxone” I was chastised in comments. And in the two years, we’ve just seen massive increases in overdose deaths- turning Dayton into the Heroin epidemic epicenter of the nation.
Two friends of mine, who are former journalists (the real kind- no longer employed by the Dayton Daily news) went out on an assignment from a foreign publication to do a story about the heroin problem. Within 30 minutes, they’d taken a photo of a roadside sign offering treatment- and followed a DPD ambulance to an OD victim in a parking lot of the U-haul franchise. Photos, story- the works- easy peasy.
In my last piece I spelled out the societal costs of heroin and overdoses- and they still apply. The drain on resources puts your life in danger- while the paramedics are out dealing with a self-inflicted wound- you might have to wait for a ride while you are having a stroke or heart attack.
Save and release ain’t working.
It’s time to change the way we do things. The first time you qualify for a trip back from death, you are taken to clinic where you are held for four hours, where you have to watch a video explaining the new practices and procedures on Narcan- and given a chance to enroll in a treatment program, offering methadone, Suboxone, Naltrexone, Vivitrol etc.
You are also informed that the next time you need to be revived, you will spend 24 hours in the center. There will be round the clock counseling available, but, you won’t be receiving any medications that aren’t prescribed as part of a doctor supervised program.
Third visit, you’ll spend 3 days in the center. Fourth visit, a full week. Fifth visit, a month. At the end of the month, you will have an option to voluntarily stay in a highly supervised treatment program for up to a year, or walk.
Unfortunately, after the fifth visit, you will no longer be revived by safety personnel. If you are unidentifiable as a five time loser, and are being treated for the sixth time, you will face a mandatory 1 year mental health incarceration. This isn’t in a prison, but a secure treatment facility. There are no options for appeal, or release. If you are identifiable by the medics, treatment will not be administered.
Drivers licenses or state ID’s will be “punched” with each treatment- as reminders and for medical personnel to check.
Right now, we are kidding ourselves if we think we can arrest suppliers and take enough drugs off the street to solve the problem. All the posturing of law enforcement is an insult to our intelligence. Heroin addiction isn’t a criminal problem- it’s a mental health one. Yet it does cause massive increases in crime and threats to public safety.
What we can do is seize all assets of anyone caught with what we would identify as quantities to distribute- and use the proceeds to fund the treatment programs.
Of course, the other option is to stop kidding ourselves, and just start providing addicts with safe, inexpensive heroin and take the profit motive out- and give people who want to stay high permission- no judgements. This has been done in other countries and has cut crime and deaths considerably. There are people who are able to function in society while high- this is nothing new- my paternal grandfather was a PhD MD and a morphine addict his entire adult life.
If you have any better ideas, feel free to leave them in comments.
It’s time to stop the insanity cycle of save and release in Dayton Ohio- it’s not working.

We’re glad you’re our neighbor signs

We're glad you're our neighbor signImmigration ban 2 just went into effect today. If you, like me, realize that we are a nation of immigrants and want to send a message of acceptance, these are the signs that have been popping up all over South Park, St. Anne’s Hill, Dayton View and elsewhere. We’ve printed and sold almost 250 in a few weeks.

We’ve heard people have seen prices as high as $25 ea. My printing prices are not only the best in Dayton, we’re doing these at a steep discount to help spread the word. And, you can help support this website through your purchase at the same time.

18×24 on 4mm Coroplast, same, yard signs, both sides, In 5 languages:

  • Kinyarwanda
  • Spanish
  • English
  • Arabic
  • Turkish

$8 with a stake, $7 without- including tax. Pickup at my office, 100 Bonner St Dayton OH 45410 from 9am to 6pm M-F. We can also have the prepaid for pickup at the Second Street market on Saturdays. Best way to guarantee your sign will be here is to buy and pay online.

If you want larger quantities, or shipping, please call during business hours: 937-228-4433