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.
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.
“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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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 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.
“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.
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.”
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.
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:
Do you notice we are not having a gun debate right now? That's because they used knives and a truck!
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.
Welcome 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.
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.
Immigration 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:
$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
In September of last year, the public learned that under Plummer, it’s not only OK to pepper spray an inmate in a 7 point restraint chair, but, that it will be covered up, and the person doing the spraying will get promoted, Sgt. Judith Sealey is now Captain Sealey. It came to light when the victim’s law firm released the footage and filed the lawsuit. Read this excellent article from the Washington Post, here’s an excerpt:
But the incident in Dayton appeared to violate widely accepted law enforcement practices.
“You cannot find any training manual that will tell you it is allowable to pepper-spray somebody who is restrained,” said Kamran Loghman, a U.S. Naval Academy professor who helped develop pepper spray for law enforcement use. “It is used to avoid confrontation or injury, so you don’t escalate to higher levels of confrontation. Pepper spray, therefore, should not be used if the subject is expressing verbal disagreement or anger.”
Plummer, who ran unopposed last November, for a four-year term, is also the chair of the county Republican Party. The fact that the Sheriff has final say on election day under Ohio law, for issues that the Board of Elections deadlocks on, should make him ineligible to hold one or the other issue.
The issue of the pepper spraying Ms. Amber Swink, didn’t make it into the public eye until after the deadline to run against him had passed. Not that there hadn’t been plenty of other reasons to oust him. In the spring, in the strangest string of meetings in black churches, Plummer was standing there with the local Dem party leaders and union leaders, all singing the same tune against regionalization- even though it might have included consolidating some of the 20 odd police jurisdictions in the county under one department- presumably his. If his cooperation had been worked as a deal to guarantee he run unopposed, it worked. The two parties have a not-so-secret deal to not oppose sitting judges after they’ve won a seat that someone either aged out of or died holding.
Plummer whitewashed the first spraying of a restrained inmate as “an isolated incident.” His main concern was that the blue line of his department had been violated, and that the footage had been released without going through channels.
However, if you just randomly did a public records request for any footage of jailers using pepper spray on inmates, you’d get crickets. Internal sources gave me the incident report number, date, and name of the victim of the latest atrocity to come out of Phil Plummers house of horrors.
Charles Alexander Wade is no choir boy. He’s a 37 year old black man who has had his share of run ins with the law. No stranger to the Montgomery County jail, he’s asking if he’s going to be “chaired” as the deputies are removing him from the back of the State Highway Patrol cruiser, where he is lying face down across the backseat, with his hands cuffed behind his back.
The deputies even brought a hand held video camera out to record the entire booking process, in addition to the jails security video system. You will see them passing the camera around while they proceed to mis-manage their internment of Wade at 4:40 am on October 17, 2016. This was a month after the footage of Swink being pepper sprayed in restraints had been made public. If anything, you’d think everyone would be extra careful before using pepper spray on a restrained inmate, but that would only apply to competent, intelligent employees, which seem to be in the minority in Plummer’s keystone kops klink.
The footage speaks for itself. We’ve spent almost 4 days extracting the proprietary video format, matching time codes, and trying to clearly show what happened to Mr. Wade. We’ve also made available the entire video with continuous time code as a separate file. The audio came from the hand held camera, only the search room has sound on the provided video.
Why Wade bangs his head against the wall is something I wanted to ask him. My attempts at tracking him down from the addresses that I was able to access were unsuccessful. I even went and staked out the Vandalia Municipal Court on a date he was supposed to show up. I am not a private detective or a paid journalist, but, I wanted to hear his side of the story before I published this. Charles, if you are seeing this and would like to get your side out, my contact info is on this site.
I’ve been exposed to CS gas in the military. However, I don’t think it comes close to what point blank pepper spray to the face would do in terms of pain. To spray Wade once while restrained and surrounded by no less than 7 deputies is criminal/sadistic enough. The second spraying when Wade moves his hand to his face was just an excuse to be an even bigger @$$hole. That honor, belongs to Sgt. John W. Eversole/872.
There is no doubt Wade knew his rights and knew what was possible in the jail.
The only question now is who is going to stop this kind of sadistic criminal abuse of prisoners under Sheriff Phil Plummer?
The FBI? The Justice Department? Our County Prosecutor?
For the first time, I’m asking for donations to this site to support this work, and to make sure I have money for a legal defense in case the Sheriff comes after me. I’ve been publishing this blog since 2005, there are over 2,500 posts. I’ve self-funded it all. I’ve gone after dirty congressman, pay to play politics, the local political parties, the school board, the neighborhood drug house, but this is the fist time I’ve gone after a guy who signs the license for my CCW. You can donate here https://esrati.com/donate
Here is the raw footage of Wade moving from the sallyport into the chair. If your news organization chooses to use this video, I ask that it be credited to this site- with a link to this post: www.esrati.com/deadly And here are the incident reports as a readable PDF: Charles-A-Wade-Report-esrati.com
Today was the first election day, where I didn’t have my dad to talk to, to take to the polls, to take the photo of him, mom and me on their porch with our “I voted today” sticker.
My father believed in this country, its ideals, its principles. He also believed strongly in the fourth estate, of which he was a part of, to keep us informed, to set wrongs right, to make our country better, through an informed electorate.
Today, Wright State Medical School called to tell me the brick, bearing his name, was installed today. He had donated his body to the school- in the hope that some young doctor, might be able to learn something and go on to do good.
But, at 2:14 am, I sit here writing, with Donald Trump 5 electoral college votes short of a win. With the Republicans holding on to the house and senate, and potentially appointing three supreme court justices. Wall Street and World Financial Markets are in a tailspin. And, frankly, the entire country is in shock- that he won, that she lost, that it was this close… but, as I’ve been known to say, “never underestimate the stupidity of people in large numbers” – a quote that is sometimes attributed to George Carlin, but probably wasn’t his.
It’s not that he won, or she lost that has me in shock, it’s that in this election we went from the already tainted dirty world of politics, down to something more resembling a cage fight to the death. This was the election where, quite frankly, there were no holds barred, no blows too low, or any resemblance to statesmanship, decorum or decency.
Our country will need a lot of healing. And a lot less polls, predictions and armchair quarterbacks. We need to take the cards that have been dealt, and figure out how to win, if that is even remotely possible.
And on that note, I have to recount the high point of today. I went to the Dayton School Board meeting, where, per usual, the agenda was posted last minute and the failed transparency and communication skills of the worst district in the state were about to be glaringly obviously exposed.
About 50 people showed up in addition to the normal cast of characters. There were parents, para-professionals, principals (more correctly, principal, Mr. Fowler of Kiser) and teachers- all there to talk to the board about cuts being made in classrooms across the district. And per usual, the people we elected to that board, felt very little need to hear from the people they represent. It was that same attitude by the Dayton City Commission 30 years ago, that pushed me into politics.
The board opened, and immediately went into executive session, for what Board President Dr. Adil Baguirov said would be “about an hour.” The people in the room had no clue of what this meant, or what it was about. The district no longer prints agendas, instead using some wonky flawed, non-ADA compliant, proprietary software called Board Docs- that is worthless on a mobile device.
A parent stood up and said, “since they are having a private meeting, is there any reason we can’t have one? Right here? I’m a social worker and I’m good at facilitating these kinds of things” or something to that effect. I started the video camera back up and taped. It should be posted tomorrow afternoon. That the BOE doesn’t tape all their meetings and have them available is one more indication of their disdain for the people they represent- they have an amazing video system available with robotic cameras.
The people went around the room to introduce themselves and say why they were there. Paraprofessionals who had been told to pack up and leave, yet hadn’t officially been fired by the board who has to approve all personnel issues, told stories of being with the district for over 20 years. That they didn’t understand that how, a district struggling to meet the third grade reading guarantee, was dismissing the people who helped the district get it’s only “A.”
There was talk of the 1-1 computer plan- and how a chromebook can’t show a child from the Congo how to open a milk container, or teach a kindergartner how to use a mouse. There were stories of how teachers had some of their students come back to the district to teach- and one mother/teacher- who told her daughter to avoid DPS, because of this very issue- lack of respect for those who are doing the work in the trenches. The director of the Challenger School who was on the list to be fired today, had to pull herself together to talk about losing her baby of 25 years- one of the few things the district has that’s a real success- something that brought STEM to the district before anyone knew what STEM was. There was a bus driver who professed his knowledge of how to fix the most fundamental DPS problem- actually picking up and delivering students- on time. The entire group would love nothing more than that to happen- and can’t understand on how or why it hasn’t.
And while I was there recording it – ostensibly as a citizen journalist, I did something I shouldn’t have and shared my story of the districts ineptitude in PR, marketing, managing an RFP, and even in their failed deal making on real estate where they sold a property to CareSource without a deed restriction precluding tax abatement. What shocked me more, other than my own self-exclusion from potentially working for the district to help them not screw up in the future- was when Dayton Daily News reporter Jeremy Kelley spoke up and interjected some facts about executive sessions and process and procedure- that, my friends, was a first.
After an hour and a half- the social worker felt that everyone had had their time to share, and wondered where the board was. She announced her intention to go invite them to come and hear the ideas they’d gathered- and to ask the board why they weren’t coming back on time.
I knew what was about to happen, and didn’t intervene. I thought maybe someone else would be galvanized to action after being smacked down for asking for respect and integrity from elected officials. For her honorable intentions, she was chastised by several board members, treated like a child and put in a corner. DPS security chief, Jamie Bullens appeared with one of his aides, dressed in black shirts, and stood by, in case she didn’t get the message.
Then came the speeches. Dr. Baguirov stated facts on falling enrollment, from 2000 to today. He talked about the ratio of administration to students- a stunning 1 administrator for every 136 students. Cincinnati, is at 1 to 236. Yet, we were only firing 20. Today.
The youngster on the board, John McManus tried to single out the Challenger center director for a pass from todays lynching. He had Sheila Taylor on his side for a few, until Joe Lacey, who has become cranky and sour, schooled the rest of the board about his experience during the last reduction in force. And Hazel Rountree launched into a tirade about how we had to bring in someone outside to fix what what couldn’t be fixed before. Ron Lee did point out that there are many unintended consequences to each and every dismissal- from seniority bumps to lawsuits, but in the end- the list was executed.
And of course, the board felt the need to blame the state, the feds, and everyone else for their difficulties, telling the people to go fix that for them.
Expect the Nov 17 meeting to be overrun with pissed off people. It will be ugly..
Both Debbie Lieberman and Judy Dodge spent real money on their reelection, despite being challenged by financially weak republicans with zero party support. Judy won over Bob Matthews by 3% Debbie squeaked by Gary Leitzell with a single point plus lead.
And the county went to Trump.
A giant FAIL to Mark Owens, Nan Whaley, Karl Keith, who were incapable of fielding candidates that could even come close to winning. This is what happens when all you worry about is keeping your job, shilling for Hillary and getting your mitts on peoples paychecks who can’t vote you out of office.
If there was a time for a group of real democrats to join together to overthrow the Monarchy of Montgomery County, this would be it. Just the fact that embattled sheriff and republican party chair Phil Plummer was unopposed should be enough to shame them, if there was any shame to be had.
It is now 3:01 am and I checked the NY Times site, and we have a misogynist president who promised to “Make America Great Again.” My father has turned over in his cold storage.
My worst fears have almost all come true. Like Britain after the Brexit vote, we now have a brand new reality facing us.
Dear Hillary, the DNC, all of the surrogates and the rest of vaunted machine, this is why Bernie Sanders was a serious candidate, even though you did everything you could to discredit him.
You’re out of touch.
You’re possibly about to blow an election to someone who no one would have considered a serious contender a year ago, and you still don’t know why.
Hint: it’s really you. Not the #basketofdeplorables as you put it.
All those people who are voting for Trump- are voting against what they see you stand for. The machine. The one that’s broken. The one that tells us Ted Strickland is our only hope to beat Rob Portman, and then, once we passed over the bright young rising star for “re-tread Ted” – you pull the wheels off his wagon two months before the election, canceling ad buys and leaving him to twist in the wind. Note- this is Ohio, a state you “Have to win”- and he was your surrogate, your man, your ardent supporter. He was all in for Hillary, who said she stood for “stronger together” – unless you are those in the basket of deplorables.
No, I’m not a “racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamaphobic – you name it” I’m just another American who doesn’t claim I’m “dead broke” while buying million dollar homes. Or giving top-secret speeches to Goldman Sachs and other Wizards of Wall Street.
What we’re facing in this country is a class war, and your kind, isn’t up for the challenge. Yep, I said it “your kind.” Because as long as we’re bandying about slurs and gross generalizations, let’s throw out this one, our country can’t afford for either of you to “win.” That’s right, both you and the guy you are running against, are out of touch, disconnected, living in an echo chamber feasting on the media induced frenzy of selling out our country to the highest bidder to their benefit.
It doesn’t cost a million dollars to buy a house in my hometown. In fact, you can buy them left and right for less than the cost of a new car. Granted I bought my “Historic Home” in Dayton Oh in 1986 for $14,500 and it’s worth more now- but about 6 years ago, someone bought one slightly bigger, two doors down for only $14,000 thanks to your friends on Wall Street.
Record numbers of people say they don’t trust you. As a guy who makes a living doing marketing, that’s a real problem. You see, if you weren’t still adhering to the same political playbook your husband used to get elected, you’d understand that times have changed. Your brand isn’t what you say it is, it’s what they say it is. And that they is us, some of us, who just ended up in the basket of deplorables.
Unlike many who just ended up in that new basket- I’ve been in that basket for the last 26 or so years. I’m one of those bright young democrats who had the gall to think I had the right to run for office. I’m a citizen, a veteran, college educated, and I went down to the board of elections back in 1991 or so, to pull petitions to run in a non-partisan local political race.
The local democratic party, which, btw- was all in for you, so much so that it practically took an act of god to allow Bernie supporters to meet in the democratic party offices, had a different idea of who could and should run for office. When invited to “screen” before the “screening committee”- a hand-picked bunch of local cronies and friends and family, the question to this day is “if we don’t endorse you, will you drop out.”
What kind of democracy is this? 40 people in a room deciding instead of the electorate?
When will you realize that Bernie Sanders stood for the same ideals you stood for as an idealistic young graduate at Wellesley College back in 1969? Granted, you still were at an elite school, while many of us in your basket, are paying through the nose for student loans, and trying to keep our heads above water. Maybe you can start to understand that while you collect huge speaking engagement money from the very same people who kicked us while we were down, stealing our homes, our jobs, while paying themselves millions and even billions.
It’s happened before, when a candidate drops out- even if it’s a VP. Thomas Eagleton did it, and now you can too. It can be Bernie, or Kaine, or Biden for all we care, but, you’ve got to realize by now, your email server isn’t ever going to go away, nor is Benghazi, or will your #basketofdeplorables or the fact that you took a paycheck from the people who screwed America just as bad as your opponent has screwed contractors, small businesses, taxpayers, students at his schools etc.
It’s over. You aren’t going to win Ohio while backing away from your ally Ted. You aren’t going to win the country, while calling some of us names. And, I’ll never get elected either, but that’s a different situation.
I’m not running to lead this entire country, you are. And sometimes, true leaders have to admit that they aren’t the right answer, no matter what their own perception of their life tells them.
It’s time to blame the DNC for throwing you a bone, which now, you have to respectfully, throw back to someone who kept his principles and isn’t going to hand the election over because their ego got in the way of reality.
Unfortunately, dear Hillary, you don’t listen to anyone, other than who you choose to listen to, so this message will go unheard as well. God help us all.