Why the sales tax hike isn’t the answer

taxes graphicI’m one of the people stirred up about the sales tax hike. I’ve already known for years that if I do my shopping in Greene county, I can save .5% on sales tax that funds the RTA- a Montgomery County Service that actually goes to Greene county on my dime (WSU and the Greene).

I was also the lone voice against giving Sinclair a second tax levy- a school which taxes Montgomery County to death, yet provides services in Greene, Preble and Warren Counties- all without them paying a lick of taxes.

And when it comes to economic development in the last 30 years, I look at the whole Fairfield Mall area- which was part cow pasture when I came to Wright State, I look at the Greene, which was forest, and I look at Cornerstone of whatever they call it- where Costco and others are- and I realize that all three are as close to Montgomery County as possible but NOT IN IT- I see the effects of our incompetent county leadership.

So when Debbie Lieberman says something stupid like:

“All the people out there getting petitions and getting stirred up over $36 a year, they definitely have a right to do that, but it’s very disappointing,” said Debbie Lieberman, Montgomery County Commission president. “We are getting cut by the state – our state Legislature and our governor.”

In June, the three Democrats on the county commission passed a 0.25 percent sales tax increase that works out to about $36 a year for every man, woman and child in Montgomery County….

If the tax increase is derailed, Lieberman said the county will be forced to scuttle a number of programs focused on the arts, economic development and criminal justice. The money is also earmarked for planned upgrades to the Montgomery County Jail, the focus of nearly a dozen civil rights lawsuits costing the county more than $1 million in recent years.

“If that (tax increase repeal) happens, every office in the county will be slashed. It could mean jobs, ” she said. “It certainly will not include the new officers we were going to provide the sheriff and all the programs to make the jail safer for our employees and inmates. All off that is off the table. It just can’t happen. There’s no way.”

Source: Deadline looms for tax-hike foes – Dayton Daily News

Let’s see, when the jail started having issue after issue, did you step in and remove the leadership that was costing us millions in settlements and allowing our citizens to get death sentences for just being there? Nope.

When I look at the Salem Mall and Hara Arena, I see that you were totally inept at managing and maintaining the resources we had in Montgomery County. You, who live in Clayton, one of the newest unnecessary fiefdoms of uselessness in Montgomery County.

Don’t get me wrong, I like Debbie Lieberman, and I think that Doug Barry, who has self-appointed himself leader of the anti-sales tax hike movement,  is totally unfit for office (he’s running for Dan Foley’s seat on the County Commission. However, this sales tax increase isn’t the answer for the county and here’s why: it will continue down the road of placing the burden of government on the those the least able to pay, it’s a regressive tax pure and simple, in other words, those with the least will be hit as a percentage of their income the most.

Now, why is Doug Barry just as criminal? Austin Landing. The only place in Ohio that I know of where a two tiered income tax system is in existence and he, as a Miami Township Trustee is fine with that. Through a JEDD (a Joint Economic Development District) Miami Township, which is banned from collecting an income tax- manages to share in an illegal income tax that is only levied on the little people- those who work in retail jobs at the development. People like State Rep Jim Butler, who works in a “tall office building” get exempted from the 2% income tax. This is the most unfair tax in existence and Barry, has never said a thing against it.

The problems in Montgomery County will never be solved with more taxes, what will solve them is the elimination of insane duplication and the reduction of the number of governments. I’ve started a 501(c)(4) non-profit, Reconstructing Dayton, to study and clarify the wastes in Montgomery County that need to be eliminated. Something our County Government seems incapable of addressing.

Case in point- the number of municipal courts, their inadequate websites that costs hundreds of thousands of dollars a year, and still don’t allow online filing of cases.

And while Debbie lives in Clayton- a totally unnecessary micro-government, with its own slew of overpaid bureaucrats, my favorite waste of a community is Moraine, where 6000 people pay $25 per person, per year, just to have a City Manager who is paid $145,000 a year. Do they really need their own police department? We’re working on building a visual dashboard of this kind of data– so that voters can see how much of their tax burden is for pompous politicians seat at the taxpayer financed feeding trough.

Why Moraine isn’t forced to join Kettering which already runs their schools is a mystery- about as big as why we need a sales tax increase right before the feds have mandated that all online retailers start charging sales taxes which should bring a windfall to the county.

Maybe we really don’t need a Pre-school Promise with its unregulated additional school board that spends a huge amount on advertising- and we should just start sending little kids books each month? The Dolly Parton Imagination Learning Library has proven to increase reading scores- the “Preschool Promise” hasn’t even managed to significantly  increase enrollment in a program where your tax dollars are funneled back to private businesses running sub-standard day cares now calling themselves pre-schools.

It’s funny, when circulating the petition I’ve only had three people say no to signing to put this on the ballot. One was a former arts administrator, who sucked at the teat of tax financed support of the arts, and two lawyers, who receive subsidized day care for their kids- and are big supporters of a co-op grocery for the “poor people of West Dayton” who will be most impacted by this regressive tax. The county has said if this tax increase on all goes down, they won’t have any money to support this single grocery store.

How about we just eliminate any city under 50,000 in population, and force all urban townships illegal, and eliminate all township government entirely, forcing low population density areas to use county services only- as a starting point?

The amount of money to fund all Debbie’s dreams would be available, and the number of micro-governments like Doug Barry’s Miami Township would disappear.

You can sign the petition at my office from 9-6 today and tomorrow – 100 Bonner St Dayton Ohio, it’s also available at Routsong Funeral Home in Centerville or Strehle’s Dry Cleaning of Kettering and I’m sure a few other businesses.

It’s time for the governments of Montgomery County to have to learn to live within their budgets just like the rest of us have for the last 10 years.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Expect a lawsuit.

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

 

“What is Esrati’s end game”

Graphic accompanying Esrati's Endgame postA friend was asked this week, “you know Esrati, what’s his end game?” and my friend had no answer.

Really, it hasn’t changed since I bought my crap house in South Park on Jan 28, 1986- the day the Challenger space shuttle blew up. Buy low, sell high.

Sure, my $14,500 house could sell for 10x that now. And my neighborhood is one of the few in Dayton that has rising property values. But, that’s not enough.

Dayton Ohio, as a city, hasn’t seen the same prosperity, and other neighborhoods are suffering. It’s why I set out to run for Mayor back in 1993, after experiencing the incompetence of the leaders who jack slapped me for installing the “wrong garage doors” on a “historic home” way back when.

All these years later, the same kind of fools think they know how to fix Dayton, and instead, keep dragging it down.

When I talked to Paul Leonard, the “Rock-n-Roll Mayor” of Dayton- who was leaving just as I came to town, he asked a simple question: “What happened to “be the cleanest, safest city in America”? And there you have it. We went from a simple guiding principal, to one of let’s pretend government knows how to do “economic development.”

We blew a ton of money on the Arcade back in the early 80’s- and are about to do it again. We built the tower next to the arcade with tax dollars- and then lost it. We built new schools, only to see them shrink and die. We’ve torn down old buildings, and made it impossible to re-purpose them, so that they become rotting reminders of what was once a boom town. We’ve raised taxes to support a patchwork of fiefdoms, that add no value at all to the community- with more police chiefs, fire chiefs, mayors, city managers and school superintendents for  half a million odd people- while the city of NYC with 8.5 Million people can manage with one each.

I could go on, with the quasi-governmental organizations, non-profits and end-runs around a system so convoluted no one knows who does what and why- many with tax dollar support, and zero oversight;  like the morons running the Metro Library system with $187M of your tax dollars- and no respect for your rights, or Sinclair Community College which is doing everything with Montgomery County money that it gets- to expand services outside the county.

Which brings me to my end game. It’s really simple. Uni-government, that’s run by people who are elected, not anointed in the bowels of political party HQs. A government that believes in good schools, safe streets, excellent services, equal opportunities and fair and equitable taxation and incentives.

It’s really not that complicated. It’s not utopia. It’s just not possible in this lifetime says my friend, who posed this question to me.

But, that’s the problem with Esrati. He’s wired differently and thinks “Yes we can.”

I’ve spelled out the framework for Reconstructing Dayton. And, hopefully, as soon as I get past these two lawsuits, and the primary this spring has enough people named to the Montgomery County Democratic Party Central Committee to stop being the party of patronage, we can get moving on undoing the stupidity of people who believe that you have to color within the lines drawn in 1785 when Ohio was formed by the “Northwest Ordinance.”

Who in their right mind wouldn’t like to see Greene County and Montgomery County join together and create a single government that has one set of courts, one police force, one safe jail, one zoning law, one tax collecting authority, etc etc. (other than all the micro-minded people “working” in micro-fiefdoms like Moraine, Clayton, or Oakwood- don’t get me started on the urban township tax dodges).

Go look at the growth in Columbus, Cincinnati and even Cleveland- and ask why isn’t it happening here? This city has so much going for it- yet, we can’t get past all of our personal prejudices. We’re still as racially and economically separated as ever, we have people living in poverty for no good reason, and jobs and industry are passing us by. We used to build things like trucks, refrigerators, cash registers in Dayton- now, the world turns to places like Spartanburg SC and Marysville Ohio. There is a reason for that, and it is us.

It’s time to have a serious discussion of these issues. To analyze how we’ve become a place that has to pay people to come invest. A place where we have all the pieces to build a great economy, but lack the instructions on how to put them together effectively.

That’s my end game. Are you in?

Health Department shuts down Rahn’s Artisan Breads after 15 years at 2nd Street Market

UPDATE

this post was published at 10:51 a.m. It set off a bunch of wheels in motion, and now, compromises and options are being discussed. I’ve changed some of the more inflammatory words- and removed some parts, in the hope that Rahn can be open again tomorrow- and that a sink solution can be in place soon- and we can more on. Typically, once I post, things don’t change. at 3:36 today – they did. This is a first.

Rahn's Artisan Breads closed by the health department

The scene at the 2nd Street Market on Saturday March 3rd at 10:30 am. Usually there is a bread line

The 2nd Street market has had a staple since it started- fresh, hot bread, from Rahn’s Artisan Breads. Until today.

full disclosure- I’ve been friends with Rahn since College at Wright State, and my firm, The Next Wave does work for him.

The Montgomery County Combined Health District decided to throw their weight around and closed Rahn down today because they believe they have jurisdiction. Rahn, as a manufacturer, falls under the Ag department which has a different standard than a food service provider. This has been the way it’s been for 15 years- and there has never been a single outbreak of food borne illness or issue.

What is causing the hang up? The health department wants a hand sink in his stall. Purell on a pump isn’t good enough. Gloves when handling bread isn’t an acceptable option. No, instead, we’ll close him down.

Note, the bathrooms for the market are almost directly across the hall from Rahn’s booth- no different than having a door on a bathroom in a restaurant where the hand sink might be.

The problem Rahn faces is if he brings the bread to the market hot, he has to slice it for customers on site, since it can’t be sliced hot- and bagged at his bakery.

Apparently, one person complained to the health department after 15 years, and the health department inspector feels that this is somehow their territory now. Options included a very expensive plumbing from the bathroom across the hall, a portable sink, or well, by the same standard food carts and trucks use- Purell or even a non-functioning sink.

This is a case of government shooting itself in the foot.

The person to call to protest this action is ___ ___________ at the Public Health Department- XXX-XXX-XXXX
If you’ve enjoyed the bread from Rahn’s- please pray.

Hopefully, he can be open on Saturday- so I can buy my mom her Chocolate Croissant, and I can get a loaf of sliced Abruzzi, and maybe even some Irish Soda Bread.

 

Dems still endorsing in primaries

Usually, I stand up and make a speech telling the party that endorsing in primary elections is wrong. But, last night I was at the Fairgrounds to Future meeting during the party executive committee meeting.

I’ll have more on that song and dance in a later post.

Then, as I raced over to make the central committee meeting (why we have 2 meetings is beyond me) all I could think about was talking to Dennis Kucinich about my Dad. They were friends going back to when Dennis was a copy boy (yes- that was the job title) at the Plain Dealer in the sixties where my Dad was a copy editor. I had a copy of the obituary I wrote for my father printed out.

Dennis Kucinich with David Esrati

Dennis Kucinich, man of the people and a friend of my father. David Esrati (center) JFK (framed in the background right)

As I stood outside Mark Owen’s office- while Dennis was being interviewed about the closing of Good Sam, I remember my dad telling me about how Dennis had stood up for the people of Cleveland when he reversed the deal to sell the public utility, Muny Light to the Cleveland Electric Illuminating Company (CEI)  a private company. I was around 16. I had heard about Dennis through the media- where he was called the “Boy Mayor” because of both his youth- and his resemblance  to Alfred E. Newman- from Mad Magazine. The city was being punished by being forced into bankruptcy. Dad said Dennis had done the right thing, fighting the establishment that wanted to steal from the people and privatize a public service. He explained how all this worked, and said Dennis was the man for the people.

Something that’s incredibly clear now. Dennis is still fighting the good fight- for Single Payer health care, taking a stand against fracking, fighting Monsanto and their designer seeds to work with toxic weed killers.

Unlike our local party elite- I’m glad Dennis is battling Richard Cordray in a primary- although I think Rich is a really good guy too- and we don’t lose if either of them become governor, I’m going with Dennis because he’s been fighting these fights- and putting his own life on the line (there were death threats against him in Cleveland through all that turmoil) and started fighting for the people when Cordray was still in diapers.

When Dennis was done with the cameras, I said, “this might be really short, my name is David Esrati” to Dennis- he said, “Last name?” and was looking at me intently, “Esrati”- he said immediately “Steve’s son? Is he still with us” and I told him know- and handed him the obit. He started gushing about how smart my dad was, and how he had such an interesting history. It meant the world to me.

After Dennis spoke, I went back and asked to take a photo with him, mostly to show Mom and see if it would trigger any memories. She didn’t recognize Dennis, but once I started telling her who it was- it seemed to come back. She remembered her husband, and what a special man he was, just as Dennis had said.

And, shame on the Montgomery County Democratic Party for continuing to endorse in primaries.

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