The highs and lows of election day 2016

Nina Esrati and David Esrati voted 2016

Mom, me, I voted stickers- missing Dad.

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.

Only one word comes to mind.

Courage.

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Throw this Hillary supporter into the “Basket of Deplorables”

We're stronger together unless we're deplorable www.esrati.comDear 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.

When the city of Dayton is the public nuisance

In fact, this is such a brilliant solution to crime that the city actively uses this with bait electronics left in plain sight to entrap car thieves.

It’s not right. It’s not the right approach. It’s how losers justify the fact that they can’t do their job- they make excuses; “we don’t have the manpower” or “the judges don’t do their job” or “we’re out of space at the jail.” Our city suffers more because we’ve grown to accept mediocre government as the norm.

From crappy basketball courts, to crappy schools, to crappy public safety forces.

Just remember, while Dayton has lost half it’s police force in the last 25 years, UD, MVH, Grandview, Good Sam, Sinclair and Metroparks all have hired their own private police force in numbers to exceed the losses by Dayton. Yes, only rich white people deserve police protection in Dayton.

That includes South Park which gets 2 MVH funded police officers thank you very much.

That doesn’t account for what I’m about to share next.

City of Dayton public nuisance stickerEvery time there is a rash of car break-ins in Dayton, someone says “the cop told me to just leave the car unlocked and let them into your car.”
Last week, the city of Dayton came to South Park and told a mentally ill man to leave his home and not come back for a year.

It wasn’t a rental. He owned it.

Yes, he’d had some calls to the house by the police. Someone OD’d one time- on the porch. But, being a den of inequity and a drug house? By the standard set around the corner– he wasn’t close. Yet, the city, declared the house a “Public Nuisance” and kicked out the residents, made it a crime to be on the property for a year, and walked away.

Did they secure the house? No.

Windows are missing. A piece of cardboard in the door isn’t “securing” anything.

If I did this, I’d be facing charges.

Photo of unsecured vacated nuisance house in Dayton OhioWhat they’ve done instead is sent a message on a bright orange sticker to scrappers to “please scrap here”- remove all the remaining copper wires, copper plumbing, appliances, mechanical systems – anything of value.

Since the owner is banned from being on the property- he can’t do it.

Gee, this is how to protect our neighborhood values?

I’ve said before that you should be happy if you get burglarized – the most dangerous crime to your property is when a bank comes and forecloses on the home next door. No matter what it was worth the day the Sheriff kicks the tenants out- it will be a lot less by the time the bank unloads it- if they can unload it. If the scrappers don’t come first.

It’s been a week since this mess was created by the City of Dayton.

Let’s see if they can board it up properly before the close of business today?

 

Killing cops: One man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter

I left the US for Israel for a short trip, just after the police shootings in Dallas where 5 cops died at the hands of a black military veteran. I said on Facebook, that I never thought I’d say that I ever thought I’d feel safer in the Middle East than in the Midwest- but, here we are in 2016 and that’s what was on my mind.

In Israel, there are guns everywhere. Soldiers, male and female, with M-16’s slung around their necks- some of the girls in a uniform with a skirt even. The fully loaded clip is usually either attached to the butt or barrel of the weapon- with an elastic band, or some have them on their belts, on their back left side- often with a dummy cord attached.

Then you’ll see some with the clip in. I’ve yet to figure the rhyme or reason to who does what. It’s almost as if it’s a matter of personal preference. And it’s not only M16’s- it’s M203’s (an M16 with a grenade launcher), or the new Israeli weapon- the Tavor, a badass looking bullpup. Often, the weapons look well used, and have night sights. Even on guard duty- soldiers seem relaxed and at ease, sometimes playing with their phones, with head phones in. It’s a creepy casualness while under arms.

There are also people in civilian clothes- carrying a pistol- in the restaurants, next to the swimming pool. You have your bags inspected when going into a bus station. There are zig-zag checkpoints where they ask you to roll the windows down and look in the car.

On the Kibbutz, I asked what a block building with no windows was. “Bomb shelter” was the answer. They don’t use those as much anymore- since every house built since 1991 now is required to have a bomb shelter built in.

Along the highway, you may see a pillbox at a bend in the road, or a small fortress. Thin gun slits, reinforced roofs. Even going into a restaurant area, there is a guy with a shirt that says “Security” in English sitting next to a gate to get into the area. No gun visible, but probably within quick reach in the small gatehouse he’s leaning against.

The Communications Center of the Palestine Mobile Force (PMF) was located in this building. On April 25, 1947, Isaschar Huberman and Rahamim Abalak , two Lehi fighters posting as telephone repairman managed to drive a car bomb into the compound. It's denotation )sic) led to the destruction of the center and several casualties among the British Policemen."The first historical marker I came across when leaving the train station from the airport, in Tel Aviv said this:

The Communications Center of the Palestine Mobile Force (PMF) was located in this building. On April 25, 1947, Isaschar Huberman and Rahamim Abalak , two Lehi fighters posting as telephone repairman managed to drive a car bomb into the compound. It’s denotation )sic) led to the destruction of the center and several casualties among the British Policemen.”

With Dallas fresh on my mind- I took the photo. Thinking, this is the difference between a terrorist and a freedom fighter. A terrorist attacks civilians, a freedom fighter, attacks men in uniform- combatants.

And then here comes Baton Rouge. 3 officers killed.

Violence against the police, Mr. (Gov. John Bel) Edwards said, “doesn’t address any injustice, perceived or real.”

 He continued, “It is just an injustice in and of itself.”

Source: Baton Rouge Shooting Jolts a Nation on Edge

Yet, the shooter is quoted in the same NY Times article from his social media postings:

“One hundred percent of revolutions, of victims fighting their oppressors,” he said, “have been successful through fighting back, through bloodshed. Zero have been successful just over simply protesting. It doesn’t — it has never worked and it never will. You got to fight back. That’s the only way that a bully knows to quit.”

“You’ve got to stand on your rights, just like George Washington did, just like the other white rebels they celebrate and salute did,” he added. “That’s what Nat Turner did. That’s what Malcolm did. You got to stand, man. You got to sacrifice.”

Gavin Long, an African-American military veteran- alleged shooter of cops in Baton Rouge

Like it or not, police are the easiest targets and the people who have been doing the dirty work of a system that has gotten out of control. Our nation has been divided since the “War on Drugs” started – a lame excuse for imprisoning millions of people- mostly for being poor and black.

The real targets own the media, the banks, the wealth and control the system. A system that has profited wildly by distracting people from their true enemies. Sure- we can say Osama Bin Laden was a terrorist, but his targets were the scions of commerce, of the military industrial complex tasked to keep war a multi-billion dollar industry. A stock market rigged to allow a few to pilfer the savings and futures of an entire country.

Unfortunately, the police are just the pawns in the game, and so are the politicians.

And when you think about it- the rich have their own police forces, their own safe rooms, their gates, their security. The cops don’t. They are just sitting ducks. And soldiers coming back from an endless pointless war are taking up arms- but, it’s harder to kill a bank president than it is a cop.

Americans are about to go to vote for a new president holding their noses. A law passed against keeping the last true hero of the people prevents Obama from running for a third term. He’s far from perfect, but a better choice than either of the two leading contenders.

In Israel, much like the US- I talk to US citizens who have been here a long time- they aren’t worried about abortion, guns, or bathrooms- it’s about Israel- and they are more likely to vote for Trump than Hillary. Bernie, the only Jewish candidate, gets a thumbs down- because he wasn’t pro-Israel enough- as if he could have succeeded anywhere near what he did if he’d let his religion be front and center.

Right now our country needs to realize that the first shots of a revolution have been fired, and there will be more, until we stop trying to sugarcoat the misdeeds of a system that has created a permanent underclass, of people without hope, without power, except by the barrel of a gun.

One man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter isn’t new.

We need to have a real discussion of what kind of America we want. Because what we have isn’t working for an awful lot of people, and in the last 2 weeks, some have taken up arms to send that message. It’s up to real leaders to acknowledge it and respond appropriately.

We have two choices: create a siege mentality, and set up security gates, ID Checks, and lose any semblance of the freedoms we swore allegiance to, or begin to level the playing field- putting the real criminals in prison and letting the pawns out.

Philandro Castile was the symbol, of a revolution. An everyday guy, who was loved in his little world, who had been systematically singled out by a society for little infractions, that turned into a death sentence. Meanwhile, the Wall Street criminals, who stole our pensions, our homes, our tax dollars and ruined the global economy- causing job losses and global instability- walk scott free.

It was never gun ownership that gave you freedom, it was what you do with one.

Gavin Long may think he’s a freedom fighter, but he missed the real targets.

We don’t need anymore police killed. Rome has been burning for a while. It’s time to take down the emperors, not their soldiers.

Black shoots back

UPDATE

9 July- this post was written early on July 8, after reading an early NYTimes article that said:

Five Dallas police officers were killed and six others were wounded by snipers on Thursday night during a demonstration protesting shootings by officers in Minnesota and Louisiana this week, the Dallas police said.

The police believe four suspects coordinated the attack with rifles, Police Chief David O. Brown said, and positioned themselves in triangulated locations near the end of the route the protesters planned to take. The police had three people in custody and were negotiating in the early-morning hours with a fourth, who was in a garage in downtown Dallas at El Centro, a community college.

Source: Snipers Kill 5 Dallas Officers at Protest Against Police Shootings – The New York Times

This was before Micah X Johnson was identified as the sole shooter, and blown up with a robot delivered bomb, to which I have other issues with.

Dallas Texas. It’s not the first time a shooting there will profoundly change the course of American history. JFK’s assassination left an indelible mark upon our nations psyche, and the killing of five law officers and wounding of others will mark a turning point.

It’s been a long time since armed blacks have struck back at a country that has systematically discounted the lives of those of color. While we may have heard of John Browns raid on Harper’s Ferry- where a white man lead black slaves to take over an armory, or the Black Panthers of California to begin open carry patrols in the late 60’s – our history texts gloss over other stories of revolt.

The shooting in Dallas won’t be glossed over.

Nor will it be the last time it happens until things change in this country.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who had his life cut short by a gun, is probably turning over in his grave. He was a believer in non-violent opposition as a solution. Others, like Malcom X, who had his life cut short by a gun, is probably thinking- I tried to tell you this would happen…

But lashing out at cops, while clearly a symbolic message- you shoot us, we shoot you, is not the answer to the problem. Our system has lost its moral compass, we’ve criminalized our society to the point that we, the country of “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” has become the largest land of incarceration on the planet. We’ve systematically allowed an entire race to be marginalized and discounted. We’ve created economic segregation at all levels that has totally unleveled the playing field, so that only a few can really enjoy that “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

The enemy isn’t the police- it’s the laws that allow us to have different standards for different people. Take the rise of private police forces- the local universities, hospitals and even Metroparks have their own police departments- carrying guns, but not reporting to us or anyone we elect. Ask Samuel DuBose how that worked out for him in Cincinnati?

How does a broken taillight end up a death sentence? Philando Castile wasn’t the first. It wasn’t that long ago that a broken taillight was a death sentence for Walter Scott.

Think about that. A $2 lightbulb out = death sentence? Is this the country our founding fathers imagined?

It’s not even about guns anymore. It’s genocide. We don’t have to wear swastikas, or build death camps, we’re doing it because we “love our freedoms” that are enabling our country to have the casualties of war without the formality of it.

Let me break it to you slowly and clearly- only poor people are being incarcerated and killed. Yes, a majority of them are minorities, but, they all share one thing- they ain’t the rich white men who are running this country into the ground in pursuit of the almighty dollar.

And make no mistake about it- guns contribute to their profits. From the sales of guns and ammo, to the medical care for victims, to the security systems, to the private prisons, to the caskets, rich people are happy to let the poor play in the streets with guns. It’s good for business.

Students of history know that class warfare is almost always the reason for falls of empires, yet, we’ve ignored it, allowed the gap to widen, and now, we’re seeing the first shots taken.

Will the shooters be heroes? Or the cops who died? Or will this be a wake up call? History has a strange way of picking turning points in the aftermath.

All I know is that while Black Lives Matter, this is really a bigger issue. Much bigger.

Is your psychiatrist doing his part?

VA Choice program fails vets for psychiatric careEvery day in America, 20 veterans are committing suicide.

You can blame the VA all you want, until you realize, that this country is incredibly short psychiatrists. And, no, it’s not because we’re less crazy than the rest of the world.

Psychiatry has gotten short shift by our “free-market, capitalist health care for profit system” – the one where insurance companies decide on what to pay and what not to.

Psychiatrists make less than almost any other specialty. We have a health care system that often treats dental, vision, hearing and psychological as somehow not quite fully medical insurances problem. Really. As if you can’t eat because of bad teeth- the rest of you will be ok?

The Dayton VA is trying to hire 3 psychiatrists right now. They can’t find them.

My formerly homeless veteran needs an appointment- they can’t comply in a timely manner, so he was approved for “Choice care”- the ability to go to a private doctor on their list of providers. The problem, the list is really short, and if you look up the reputation of a few of the providers I wouldn’t send my worst enemy to them.

The problem is that to be able to be a “Choice care” provider, you have to have your computers talk to the VA computers, and apparently, not everyone wants to do that. So, his appointment is made- in September!

There is a NYTimes article today about the stupid political answer- which is to abolish the only good health care system in America, and replace it with the market driven one as a solution. That’s not going to solve the problem. Vets have special issues, and the VA system is built to deal with them.

Two years after a Department of Veterans Affairs scandal involving long wait times at veterans hospitals, an official report has found that the veterans’ health care system suffers from “profound deficiencies” despite billions of dollars spent in recent years to overhaul it. The report says that the hospital system needs sweeping changes, including a program that would pay for all veterans to see private doctors.

In a document nearly 300 pages long released late on Tuesday, the 15-member Commission on Care, created by Congress after the scandal, contained a list of recommendations to improve the nation’s largest public health care system.

“Although care delivered by V.A. is in many ways comparable or better in clinical quality to that generally available in the private sector,” the report concluded, “it is inconsistent from facility to facility, and can be substantially compromised by problems with access, service, and poorly functioning operational systems and processes.”

Source: Care by Private Doctors Among Big Changes Urged for V.A. Health System – The New York Times

Here is the simple answer for the immediate problem: allow private psychiatrists a way to file reports with the VA system via a translation portal- ie. get their output from their current systems and build a port program. And, start denying them access to medicaid and medicare patients if they don’t join the choice care program. You want government money, you have to be willing to take on veterans.

Secondly, for psychiatrists that work for hospitals- that currently get money from the feds- also require them to accept choice care patients.

We can’t afford to lose any more veterans, just because a computer program isn’t compatible, or there is more money not working for the government.

Dayton will need to raise taxes to pay off the panhandlers lawsuits

In the “told you so” file-

The city of Dayton is considering new panhandling rules because its current regulations are likely unconstitutional and unlawfully restrict free speech.

The Dayton commission today is expected to introduce an ordinance to amend, replace and eliminate some regulations on solicitation that the city’s law department believes do not pass constitutional muster.

Recent court decisions have concluded that asking for money or expressing a need for assistance is protected free speech, and the Montgomery County Public Defender’s Office recently challenged Dayton’s rules on this basis.

Dayton is looking at eliminating the requirement that people who engage in solicitation register with the city. The city also is considering eradicating a prohibition on soliciting before sunrise or after dark.

“I’m glad to hear that Dayton is taking a good look at its ordinance,” said Joseph Mead, cooperating attorney with the ACLU of Ohio, which challenged the constitutionality of the city of Akron’s “anti-panhandling” ordinance. “Hopefully the city takes steps to avoid the litigation that Akron faced.

”In April 2015, the Montgomery County Public Defender’s Office filed a motion to dismiss some solicitation charges that were pending in a Dayton Municipal Court case involving Clayton Peck. Peck has been arrested more than 200 times for panhandling.

Angelina Jackson, assistant public defender, argued Dayton’s panhandling rules are unconstitutional because they prohibit certain types of speech based on content.

Jackson said the city also was inappropriately restricting First Amendment rights by requiring people to get a permit to solicit. Prosecutors dismissed the charges before a judge issued a ruling.

But today, Dayton’s own law department says the city’s ordinances on solicitation are unlikely to survive a legal challenge because of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in the case Reed v. Town of Gilbert, Ariz.

In that case, the Supreme Court clarified how laws that restrict the topic or content of free speech are unconstitutional.

Since then, federal courts have ruled against municipalities’ “anti-panhandling” laws for violating the free speech of poor and homeless people, according to advocacy groups.

“In the wake of that decision, a number of federal courts have invalidated panhandling laws that imposed more regulations on begging than on other forms of speech,” wrote the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty.

The Reed v. Gilbert case has cast doubt on the constitutionality of laws like Dayton’s that seek to restrict charitable solicitations, said Mead, the attorney.

Source: Panhandling rules could change

and go back to…

With a serious shortage of police on the street, no new hires in sight, we’re going to make holding a sign up on the corner illegal? Really?

Besides the slight problem with the U.S. constitutional protection of free speech, the city is going to “fine” or “incarcerate” panhandlers? Why not just give them minimum-wage jobs cutting grass on vacant lots instead? Between the wasting of time of valuable police officers making- oh around $30 an hour, and the cost of paperwork, court time, jail- the fines that will be levied and not collected…
Laws that can’t be enforced are laws we don’t need. The legal defense on this one, when the ACLU steps in, will cost the city thousands.

Let’s just think about this for a minute- is wearing a shirt that says “I’m homeless please help” illegal too?

Source: Dayton panhandler law- it’ll cost us. – Esrati

Naw, don’t elect Esrati, don’t listen to him, move along, nothing happening here.

Congratulations to Clayton Peck who may now get a very big check.

Too bad we can’t sue politicians for doing stupid things…

When cops make their own rules

It’s legal for someone who has been on the terrorist watch list to buy an AR-15. Range is over 400 yards- think four complete football fields. The gun nuts talk about this weapon as crucial for “self-defense.” It can empty a 20 round clip, even as a semi-automatic, in under 20 seconds, accurately, in the hands of someone with good training.

You don’t have to be very brave, strong, smart or even very skilled in a crowded environment to kill a lot of people. I was trained in the military to use one, for war. Warriors have now come out against the sale of these types of weapons to the general public. These are weapons meant for a “well regulated militia” the forgotten part of the 2nd amendment. Gun nuts also quickly ignore the logical extension of the “right to bear arms” not including arms such as hellfire missiles, tanks and nuclear weapons.

My feelings about the 2nd amendment are fully explained in this video:

There is a huge difference between a black powder muzzle loader and an AR-15. There is also a difference between a gun and a knife, and the knife Rambo had in “FirstBlood”, and a pen-knife.

So when I went to the Federal Building on Friday to help my friend, the formerly homeless veteran Sean, I left my 2″ Swiss Army knife at the office, because they have a rule against carrying weapons in a Federal Building. I use that knife several times a day, to open boxes, to tighten screws, to open bottles, to cut down basketball nets etc. And while it is a “knife” and I could probably kill someone with it with a very lucky stab to the chest avoiding the ribs and getting to the heart and yanking hard, or carefully slicing both main arteries in the crotch, or the easy access ones in the neck, it’s still not that easy and it requires skill, speed and serious intent. Slicing someones throat isn’t as easy as Dexter made it seem (and he usually used surgical scalpels).

What I didn’t leave at home was a 1.5″ Swiss Army manicure knife that’s attached to my keys.

Swiss Army Pen Knife banned by US Marshals

This isn’t a deadly weapon.

Nothing worse than federal marshals with guns making the law up as they go along. At the Dayton Federal building they made me it off the property to be able to access the building and the social security offices. As in they even suggested that I walk it across the street and conceal it somewhere in the alley for future retrieval. Of course, I protested, they already knew who I was because I also had to present a photo ID and most of them are former Dayton cops.

But, as always, I question authority, especially when it seems stupid. The FAA had changed the rules on stuff like this last year and I was pretty sure they weren’t taking away nail files, and sure as shit weren’t taking away metal barrelled ball point pens, which make fine tools to sever the jugular vein or serve as an emergency tracheotomy tube.

I go upstairs, whip out my phone and look up the LAW- and it says knives have to be over 2.5 inches.
I go back down to push the envelope. Asked to speak to a supervisor- after being threatened to be taken off the property for protesting my rights- and two guys acting like mercs, come out- one of them wearing desert jungle boots and an OD T-shirt, looking like he’s ready for action in Afghanistan.
I cited the law, which I had pulled up on my phone- they said they have “policy.”
That’s not the way this works fellas.
https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/18/930

Possession of firearms and dangerous weapons in Federal facilities

“(2) The term “dangerous weapon” means a weapon, device, instrument, material, or substance, animate or inanimate, that is used for, or is readily capable of, causing death or serious bodily injury, except that such term does not include a pocket knife with a blade of less than 2½ inches in length.”

Read it and weep.

We are a nation of laws for good reason. You can’t shoot someone in the back and say you were threatened under cover of law, oh, wait, I’m out of examples…

Cops who make their own rules are dangerous.

I have the name of the local supervisor, but instead, I’m going to push this up the chain of command. The reality is, this “policy” is just another way that those who are supposed to protect and serve, instead harass and discriminate at will. The fact that so many people are turned away from the Social Security offices by “security” personnel is a good reason to move that office out of the Federal Building into an office where the people can have full and unfettered access to their government (the guards tell hundreds of people a week, if not a day, to go to the office on Hoover that doesn’t require ID.

To serve and protect, means to adhere to the laws that are in place. Cops are never supposed to be judge, jury and executioner, they are supposed to be the epitome of the law.

No one elected these Marshals to make the law for good reason. It’s time that someone we elect step in to stop this chicanery in the name of security. After all, no one asked me to remove my shoes and we all know how lethal shoe bombers are.


Smile for your mugshot, and be white and rich

When I was arrested, I knew I didn’t want to look like the mugshots I’d seen before- Mick Jagger was firmly in my minds eye, I tried to smile and was told “no teeth” so I put on a shit eating grin and kept my lips together. My crime was of wearing a black balaclava in a Dayton City Commission meeting- sitting perfectly still, in protest of illegal secret meetings- including one discussing how to keep citizens from speaking at the meetings- or at least, shutting off the tv cameras when citizens come to speak up. It took 2.5 years to clear up. It cost a lot of money to lawyers. It cost the taxpayers. I had long ago agreed to not sue, if the city dropped charges- they didn’t.

Mine wasn’t criminal justice- mine was civil liberties at stake.

Yet, everyday, in the United States, our beloved “democratic” self-righteous county, screws up justice, just as it screws up democracy, with money, power and race as factors.

I present to you two Dayton boys gone bad.

Brock Turner left, Eric Baum right. Two criminals, two different outcomes. Mugshots

Brock Turner left, Eric Baum right. Two criminals, two different outcomes.

The one on the left is Brock Turner, white, wealthy, division 1 swimmer at Stanford. I can’t find his booking photo- just this picture, over and over. He was found by 2 Swedes riding bicycles, physically assaulting (the description by the victim makes this a lot more clear) an unconscious girl, while he was intoxicated. Had they not interrupted his actions, rape would have been the charge. A crime against a person.

The one on the right is the guy who I’ve served as a “big brother” to since he was 10. He’s now 39, and in custody of the local Sheriff. His charges- breaking and entering, carrying a concealed weapon, etc. are crimes against property.

The one on the left, didn’t have to sit in jail waiting for his court date, he was out on bond. The one on the right, arrested March 9th, 2016, is in jail. No one will bail him out. His family has given up on him, I’ve disowned him and divorced myself from his troubles. The house he was renting from friends, foreclosed. He’d stopped paying rent. He had a painting business- but, due to his untreated mental illness and experiments with Meth- he had lost his truck, his tools, his phone. His baby momma and three children (a fourth child with his first baby momma is also struggling to stay out of trouble at 17) had moved out in November. The house was being broken into- even after the bank boarded it up. There was evidence that he was probably still cooking meth inside- after the utilities had been cut off.  Any chance of him picking up the pieces of his life are over.

He’s heading back to prison. Third time. But, here is the difference between the privileged white boy and the poor black one, one has spent more time in jail, not prison (there is a difference) than the other one- and never for actually harming anyone physically.

I don’t know Brock Turner. I do know people who do. One female college professor I know whose kids are friends with him, almost excused him for his actions due to his own intoxication on Facebook. I wanted to throw up. Go read the victims’ statement linked to above.

I searched all over for his booking photo- and then realized why I didn’t see one, he was probably never booked into jail.

Eric has been booked into jail more times than I can count. But, I’ll just share one with you.

He’d gotten out of Nobel Correctional after serving a full three year sentence, and was living with me, and had a 3.95 GPA from the first year of an associate’s degree that he earned while there. His first day at Sinclair, he went to the campus police to report something he saw (he suffers from undiagnosed paranoia) and when the campus police looked him up, they saw a Dayton warrant from before he served his three years- and arrested him. He spent the night in jail on his first day trying to better himself back in the world.

But, let’s talk about why he went to jail for 3 years, other than being black in Greene County (it’s not on the books- but it seems to be a crime). He was involved in a minor fender bender while intoxicated. While waiting for the police, he thought it would be a good idea to go into the nearby bar and call me- asking me to come out and help him. When the cruiser arrived and he was mouthy with the cop- he was put in the back seat of the cruiser, in shackles- where he ran his mouth and said to the cop that he “wouldn’t live to see his next birthday” while the cruiser video cam recorded.

The judge said it was open and shut- threatening an officer of the court is a felony- punishable by a minimum of 3 years. Had Eric slugged the officer instead- it would have been a misdemeanor punishable by up to 6 months.

Brock Turner was violently molesting an unconscious girl. He’s sentenced to 6 months with the possibility of getting out in 3 months. He hasn’t spent a night in jail. When he gets out, he may have the stigma of being labeled a sex offender for life, but his life will go on. He’s still not admitted that what he did was wrong. Even in Eric’s most manic state, he still realizes what mistakes he’s made, even if he believes that there are people (including me) who are actively collaborating to screw his life up for something he did almost 20 years ago.

The sad thing is that prison won’t solve either of these problems.

Eric has needed professional mental health care since he lost his mother to cancer at 13 (probably a preventable death, but since she had outstanding bills to Greene Hall for her detox, she didn’t go to the gynecologist when the first clues of something wrong appeared).

Brock has obviously needed both lessons in what consent means, and what is acceptable sexual behavior- as well as treatment for alcohol abuse.

Three months or three years in prison won’t undo the damage he did to his victim. While the thought of Mr. lily white Oakwood getting raped in prison might make some people remotely satisfied that justice was somehow served, it isn’t a solution either. Two wrongs don’t make a right.

The money Brock Turners family spent bailing him out of hot water was probably exorbitant. My own legal bills ran over $75K for my case of 4 fourth degree misdemeanors.

Brock will grow a beard, change his hair style, start using his middle name, find some place to “hide out” and continue his life. Sure, he’ll have to register as a sex offender, but, some will overlook it, hire him, marry him, have his kids- just like Eric managed, but the difference is- no one will do the same for Eric.

This country is still racially and economically segregated and unjust.

We’re not about to address the issues of a proper health care system to help people who need it.

We’re not about to reform our justice system to make it equitable or to focus on rehabilitation.

Brock Turner should have to tithe for the rest of his life to either the victim or to rape prevention or alcohol education issues. He should be put in prison until he fully accepts responsibility for his violent actions. He should be banned from drinking or purchasing alcohol for life.

Eric Baum should be put in a highly supervised half way house, tested for drugs and alcohol for life, and allowed work privileges with his income being directed to pay child support. Putting him in prison won’t protect anyone, won’t solve the problem. He isn’t capable of managing a life that isn’t highly structured and monitored- but, that said, it doesn’t mean prison is the only solution.

In fact, I’ve yet to see prison actually do much to solve society’s problems except for the most dangerous psychopaths, serial killers and arsonists. It hasn’t done a thing to reel in the criminals of Wall Street, nor has it stopped the drug trade or the killing that goes along with it.

Need proof? Eric has been to prison twice, jail a bunch- and he’s still not able to operate on his own in society.

Need more proof- Brock Turner, despite being incredibly violent, is only going to go for 3 months.

It helps to be rich, white and to smile for your mugshot.

Measuring the wrong damn thing. Valuing the wrong measurements.

heisenberg-mesureI never got paid more for doing better on a standardized test- I got paid more for bringing unique solutions to the table.

When we hear people talking about running government like a business, most of the time, they are really trying to say “put some measurable, quantifiable metrics on government, so we can keep things under control.” Unfortunately, because most people are of average intelligence- when a Republican says “I’m for smaller government” that translates to “smaller means less to control” so it must be “better.”

Reform, be it school reform, government reform, health care, welfare reform, judicial reform all require an assessment of what the real objectives are, and how do we set meaningful measurements to work toward. In fact, to have a conversation about anything with large ramifications- the first question should always be “what is the right goal- and how do we quantify it.”

A long time ago, I read a business book with profound impact on my approach to solving business problems- “The Great Game of Business” by Jack Stack. It tells the story of a young MBA sent to a failing re-manufacturing plant that International was looking to close up. When Mr. Stack got there- he realized that no one knew the goal, or how score was kept. Kind of like trying to play football without understanding what a first down was, or how you scored. He decided that if the employees knew how the score was kept- profitability, they could all work to make sure the parts they rebuilt, were in fact valuable- i.e. the cost to make them, was less than the cost to sell them. This was “revolutionary” thinking. He taught everyone how to read a balance sheet, how to track costs, how to apply costs, and how to value their contribution. The story continues on how he and a group of managers, hocked their homes, bought the plant, and turned the business into an ESOP (employee stock ownership plan).

Guess what, our government was supposed to be an ESOP. We pay taxes, our investment, and we hire our managers, the politicians, and we’re supposed to get a return on our investment, but we all know this hasn’t been working out well- especially since we’ve seen the value of our votes diluted by our overly expensive system of picking our managers.

Bringing this down to the local level. I’ve spent a ton of time the last few months, working as an advocate to get services delivered to a veteran. I’ve tangled with the VA and their SSVF program, the Montgomery County Veterans Services Commission and a few people in between.

The measurements that we’re supposedly focused on in this country is slowing the rate of veterans committing suicide and making sure they aren’t homeless.

First question is that really what we should be measuring?

There’s a philosophy called expectancy theory- which says if you believe something to be the expected outcome, that’s what you get. I expect Dayton Public Schools to have a 35% drop out rate- so I’m going to focus on “Dropout prevention.” That’s what we’ve done. Maybe if we focused on making the diploma the goal for all, and looking in every available nook and cranny on how to make that diploma the most valuable and attainable goal, we’d do better?

How about working the system on veterans homelessness a different way? Maybe it’s cheaper to create a way for businesses to hire and support veterans with incentives- like having the government pick up the first $20,000 of tax liabilities on at risk veterans? Or working with veteran owned businesses to have a competitive advantage in hiring and protecting low functioning veterans? One thing about hiring a veteran- there is no health care costs, since they have coverage through the VA. We already know small businesses struggle with health care costs (because our system is broken) – so maybe offering to pay for a civilians health care costs for every at risk veteran you hire- giving them a two for one deal?

I’m not saying these are vetted solutions- but, they are a different approach to the problem.

With our local system, it took the MCVSC almost 10 days to issue a check for “emergency food assistance” – thanks to some help from Commissioner Debbie Lieberman, that’s not going to be the case anymore. It took longer for a food stamp card- and we still don’t have the “Obama Phone.” All these things that are mission critical to a successful transition from homeless to homed, are falling through the cracks of a system that is measuring the wrong things. Delivering food stamps to the veteran is the current measurement- but how fast isn’t. See the problem?

How does Fed Chairwoman Janet Yellen measure the success of the economy to make decisions about interest rate hikes? She’s got a ton of complex data that she relies on. How do I? Look at gas prices. We do well when gas prices are low, since so many of us are car dependent to get to work. One veteran I work with is currently living on $238 a week take home. He lives in an apartment in Trotwood costing $485 a month, he drives to his job paying $14.02 in Lebanon (he pays $600 a month in child support). He’s facing eviction because he was cut off from SSVF for “making too much money” – and when you figure in food, utilities and gas money, you can see where a 50 cent swing per gallon of gas makes or breaks him each month. Janet Yellen doesn’t understand that. Nor do the government income guidelines.

The first objective in any problem solving is making sure you are using the right measurements and valuing the correct data.

This is what the point of “Moneyball” was in picking winners in pro sports. Measuring the wrong things doesn’t get you the right results.

I can think of lots of things we’re not tracking correctly, but I’d like to hear yours in the comments.

Feel free to talk about abandoned houses in Dayton, unemployment figures, heroin overdoses, or graduation rates. I’d like your 2 cents.