An apology, and who really gave Westwood the finger

A bit of time has passed since I gave the single finger salute, yelled an expletive and left a West side church with an escort.

That night, I went and composed a letter of apology to the pastor at Wayman Chapel AME and sent it. It was copied to a few people who also know the pastor,  to make sure he got wind of it.

Here it is:

From: David Esrati <[email protected]>
Date: May 9, 2016 at 9:34 PM
To: [email protected]
CC: …..
Subject: My sincere apologies

Pastor Cooper,
I owe you, and the good people of Wayman Chapel a deep apology. There is no excuse for what came out of my mouth in your church.
I’ve been to Wayman many times- and have almost always felt welcome.
The reason I say almost, is I’ve been told several times at candidates events not to video the event- which I find curious, because I thought we held these events to inform the public.
What happened tonight was something that’s never been done to me in 26 odd years of being in local politics.
I’ve spoken in chambers, I’ve spoken in churches, in neighborhood meetings.
I’ve handled hecklers. I’ve been called names. I’ve even been arrested- because I stood up when no one else would- but, I’ve never had a microphone cut off- and been given such a smug response.
That is an issue I have with Pastor Johnson. I would welcome your guidance in mediation on this matter.
Churches are special places-
places where people come to heal, to come together- not to censor and disrespect.
I had no business saying what I said-
I should have been a bigger man-
but, I wasn’t.
For that I’m deeply sorry.
I hope you can accept my apology.

my cell is 937-

To this day, no response at all.

An email on official City of Dayton letterhead from Nan Whaley to a public political meeting about the defunct regionalization meetingAt the third meeting, held in a Trotwood church on June 6th, I was met in the parking lot by a lot of the same people who surrounded me at Wayman- sporting new “Wayman Security Team” t-shirts. They wouldn’t let me into the public meeting with my camera to hear the speeches of the politicians explaining why they had held two meetings about a regionalization plan that they had already managed to subvert- long before the meetings. The invite on city letterhead from Mayor Nan Whaley is at right. I stood outside and held my cell phone to record it. I pointed out to many public officials as they entered that this wasn’t a legal public meeting. Right up until three Trotwood police cruisers showed up, and I was told to leave the “private property.”

And, btw, if I wasn’t white, I’m sure I wouldn’t get away to talking to these officers the way I did, even though I was totally within my rights.

Using churches for political meetings is a violation of the Johnson amendment.

Organizations recognized under Section 501(c)(3) of the U.S. tax code are subject to limits or absolute prohibitions on engaging in political activities and risk loss of tax exempt status if violated.[3] Specifically, they are prohibited from conducting political campaign activities to intervene in elections to public office.[4][5]

This was clearly a political meeting and an attempt to intervene in elections, especially when a member of the press is banned. For years, we’ve let the Black Ministerial Alliance be a part of the political process in Dayton when we shouldn’t. And, if one looks at the conditions of the West Side, the people of West Dayton should be asking themselves twice why these men of the cloth are the ones driving the late model Benz’s while their flock is living next to a drug, whore or vacant and dilapidated house.

My neighborhood has seen steady improvements in property values over the 30 years I’ve lived here and been a part of my community, South Park. Pastor Cooper had yet another shooting outside his  church’s front door last night on Leland Avenue in Westwood- recently called  out in the Dayton Daily news as the most troubled neighborhood in the city and where property values have plummeted.

The difference between Pastor Cooper and Pastor Johnson and me? I actually know and go to their neighborhoods. I believe actions speak louder than words.

The real question is what are the political geniuses of Dayton who sponsored this meeting up to? Why did they hold three meetings when they knew this plan was already toast? What was their goal in stirring the pot?

Regionalization is a very serious subject and one that needs to be addressed. These meetings, which I put on Youtube, were all about what they were against, not what they are for. They have no plan, other than to stick their heads in the mud and reject any change. The status quo is fine by them.

I went to the meetings so that the public would have full unfettered access to what was said.

Why haven’t the organizers posted video? Where is their website with a discussion of the issues? What are their plans to improve conditions in the very neighborhood where they stood and preached at will about the evils of the only regional plan on the table.

And, why would they have meetings in churches, run by pastors, if this is publicized on official city letterhead?

If you ask me, the people who lead these meetings should be the ones apologizing for their failures to the people of Westwood, for letting the community rot, while proclaiming that they are fit to lead this community.

And in the end, I’m the bad guy…

 

 

 

Save

Save

Save

Misplaced angst over symbolic protests

When Facebook gives me more news than the Dayton Daily news, we’re all in trouble. Never mind the fact that I’m paying $9.95 a month for their newspaper-on-crutches, but now they are offering it for $19.95 for a full year of digital access. Nothing says desperate like knocking your price down to next to nothing. Click bait is their “new strategy” posting tidbits on Facebook, hoping to get you to hit their paywall. Exactly the behavior Facebook is trying to minimize. But, that’s all moot.

Photo of a protester at Wright State University standing on the American Flag

An unknown patriot stirring the pot.

In today’s Facebook feeds, friends are arguing about the veteran who protested at WSU by standing on an American flag. As someone who has actually been arrested and had to win 5 court cases protecting your right to symbolic protest, I can guarantee you he was within his rights- and had he just stood their protesting with a sign, no one would be talking about it.

His sign- according to WDTN:

“I stand…-With Eric Shappard (SIC- should be Sheppard) and the preservation of 1st Amendment rights
-For all men and woman in service to this country
-For the accountability of media and other social institutions
-Justice, equity, tolerance, and diversity
-Upon the belief higher learning should provoke students to question social norms, mainstream values, and power structures
-The ‘American” spirit, is a revolutionary spirit- On the American flag because there’s nothing more American than that!

Source: Wright State Flag Protest Draws Crowd – WKEF-TV ABC 22 News :: News – Top Stories

Unbelievably, not a single local “news source” had either the protester’s name, or even were able to verify his status as a WSU student. If my Facebook friends are to be believed, yes, he’s a WSU student.

His first mistake was thinking that WSU students would know who Eric Sheppard is- and what that has to do with the American flag. Sheppard was protesting at Valdosta State University – standing on a flag to make a statement about the treatment of black men in this nation who are being gunned down. A publicity seeking veteran, Michelle Manhart, decided to do something about it- going to campus with her daughter filming- and stealing the flag. Amazingly, the cops did the right thing and arrested her and returned the flag. The video pushes buttons and the right wing nut jobs had a field day praising the veteran for her actions, albeit it turns out she had posed in Playboy on active duty and even posed nude later for PETA with… wait… an American flag.

Symbolic speech is powerful stuff. The Nazis understood it well. So did the Ku Klux Klan. Burning books, burning flags, burnings of effigies, ISIS is justifying its atrocities by using orange jump suits for its victims- to symbolize our detaining “their people” in Guantanamo bay. I actually had to explain to one person on Facebook why symbolic speech can be more effective than a standard protest, which in this country is usually measured by numbers- hence we have things like “the million man march.” Usually, in America, you need a herd to be heard in public. Of course, in private, you just need a lot of money and I guarantee you access to anyone you want in Washington, D.C.

The problem with symbols is they don’t always mean the same thing to everybody. Maybe that’s why early religions had such an issue with idolatry. And you have to remember, when the religions started out, most of this wasn’t written- it was spoken, since universal literacy and the printing press were far off in the future. I still find the symbol of Christianity being a cross to be odd- to celebrate Jesus, memorialize the brutal way that he died. Do we, as Americans use guns as a symbol to memorialize and remember Abraham Lincoln, JFK or Martin Luther King? No.

Another post on Facebook had this image going around- another view of what the American Flag stands for today:

American exceptionalism illustration on an American FlagThe article it linked to, was about how other countries don’t understand America, or how Americans don’t seem to understand what living in a “free society” really means. The reactions to these flag protests, full of vitriol, the grandstanding- over a symbol, taking over the conversation, when most Americans are living on the edge of survival- paycheck to paycheck, with a safety net that’s constantly being withdrawn inch by inch. We prefer the dream of success to the reality we live in. Thinking that we can all become an NBA star, a millionaire if we only work hard, or President of the United States, is so far from reality- if we weren’t all so seduced by this fantasy, any right minded psychologist would call us delusional.

There is a lot to protest about in this country. A few years back the Occupy movement tried to bring a focus to the wrongs of the wizards of Wall Street who have robbed our country blind and brought the “world’s strongest economy” to its knees, yet, the Dow continues to climb beyond any recognizable relevance, the Fed continues to print money like candy- and the richest Americans are getting richer at a record pace, while the rest of us are being asked to “pay more of our share” to keep this house of cards from falling.

To add insult to injury, we take more interest in one aging former Olympian’s transgender celebrity story than we do of the countless millions who aren’t able to feed their children, schools that aren’t preparing our children for colleges that are pricing themselves out of the reach of those who get there (if they aren’t shot by a cop for playing cops and robbers on a playground), so that they can get their panties in a twist over standing on a piece of cloth.

The flag, which we pledge allegiance to so easily, is a symbol. Symbols mean different things to different people. Our country is supposed to be one where different people can have free discussions over issues- my only request is, let’s start having the discussion about ones that matter. I agree and support the actions of the Wright State protester- and you should too, if you truly believe in what our country’s founders said when they declared our independence in 1776.

Another blow to the American dream

Come to America, where everyone can become a millionaire.

Thing is, a million ain’t what it used to be.

It’s been a long time since I served with the U.S. Army Special Forces. We liked to think of our special operations units as the “quiet professionals.” We didn’t like to have our pictures taken, we’d keep a low profile, identifying marks on our bodies that weren’t put there by god weren’t approved of. (A friend, Tim G., got busted 2 ranks and put in a shit job for getting “YANKEE” tattooed across his chest just before being shipped to Nicaragua to train people we had no business training). When “Mark Owen” wrote the book “No Easy Day” about the operation to get Bin Laden, I pre-ordered it and read it the weekend I got it.

I didn’t see anything that even remotely seemed like a security leak, or disclosure of classified info or special ops weapons or tactics. I’d read most of Dick Marcinko’s “Red Cell” books- and gleaned a lot more there.

And while it’s OK for Hillary, Bill, and Barack to make millions from their books- apparently, it’s not OK for an enlisted man to make a dime.

Matt Bissonnette, a former member of Navy SEAL Team 6, will probably have to forfeit at least $4.5 million in book royalties over his failure to allow the Pentagon to review his best seller on the Osama bin Laden raid for possible security breaches, according to court documents filed by his lawyer. The documents say Mr. Bissonnette would also have to give up movie rights to his book “No Easy Day,” worth at least $900,000, and would lose the security clearances needed to do military-related consulting work.

via Former Navy SEAL, Author of Bin Laden Best Seller, May Face Costly Penalties, Lawyer Says – NYTimes.com.

Let’s see the differences:

Bissonnette signed a blank check to the people of the United States guaranteed with his life. He trained harder than 99.99% of Americans. He risked his life many times over.

Hillary, Bill and Barack- got elected. They smiled and waved at cameras, told people what they wanted to hear, and took billions in donations to reach their goal. Hell, even Monica Lewinsky got paid for her near toppling of our government over her sloppy blow job.

Charlie Sheen pretended to be a Navy SEAL- and got paid millions. Why shouldn’t Bissonnette? He’d even promised most of the proceeds to go to families of Navy SEALs who were killed in action, although the foundation refused his donations according to Wikipedia sources.

Generals have made millions from their book deals- I’ve got a signed copy of General Tommy Frank’s book, Colin Powell has a book, McChrystal has a book- after he had to resign for talking to Rolling Stone while still on duty. Look at what all the generals get to do once they retire- sit on boards, work for defense contractors, lecture tours.

Guys like Matt who did their dirty work, make up the largest segment of America’s homeless.

The American dream isn’t what it used to be. Even the guys who make it possible for it to continue to survive- have to fight tooth and nail to get their share.

I hope the Pentagon drops this stupidity before they make bigger fools of themselves.

Time to change the national anthem and chuck the constitution: Police militarization

Photo by Whitney Curtis for The New York Times

Ferguson MO militarized police photo- Whitney Curtis for The New York Times

It’s this photo that makes my stomach turn. This is not a police force to “Serve and protect”- but a police force to deny free speech, the right to peaceably assemble and to protest.

We are no longer the home of the brave and land of the free.

When gun nuts talk about needing to own an assault rifle, because they are afraid of the government overstepping its bounds, they now have the poster photo to prove the crazies are right.

Let me count the ways that this is wrong. The idiot on the top of the “Urban Assault Vehicle” is actively sighting a target. If he had a legitimate reason to do this, all those “riot police” should be on the deck- with their weapons pointed at an imminent threat. If anyone else held a fully automatic assault rifle like that, they would be shot by the police with the excuse that they were inciting panic. In Beavercreek Ohio, you can get killed for talking on a cell phone with a BB gun in a Walmart- this is an order of magnitude worse.

The mismatched uniforms- with desert boots and woodland camouflage also make these “police officers” look more like extras on a low-budget Hollywood war movie. Why wear BDU’s at all? Are they police- or soldiers? Police officers work for us- have pride in their community, and represent us- soldiers are here to repress us. The moment you don a military uniform, you are no longer serving and protecting me, at least that’s the way this former soldier sees it.

No matter how much police forces train to use this gear, it’s not suited for police work. Good cops know their first and most effective tool, is talking to people, trying to establish rapport and common ground. Note to cops: the moment you don your GI Joe gear you throw all that “one of us rapport” out the window. If we really need an MRAP on the scene, you’d do better to let it be the National Guard in it, because after the shit storm is over, they go home outside the community- and you, well, you’ve permanently distanced yourself by actively taking arms against our citizenry.

SWAT was a bad TV show- that forever changed the idea of what cops should and shouldn’t do. It probably did as much or more damage to the idea of “community based policing” than Jack Bauer on 24 did to interrogation techniques. No, physical torture doesn’t get you good intel or accurate intel- it just makes you guilty of war crimes. Want a lesson in the Geneva Convention- ask Senator John McCain, don’t ask “John McClane”- the cop character in the Die Hard movies which also distorted the reality of what happens when most people shoot other people- even highly trained people shooting other people. The reality is, most cops don’t shoot very often, and this kind of BS isn’t why they got into policing. Any chief who orders his officers to go out with automatic weapons and point them as if to shoot- should be relieved of command.

For those who need a refresher- the United States is probably the only country that glorifies a war battle in its national anthem, and not even the revolutionary war, but the war of 1812. We seem to still be confused as to what a “land of the free and the home of the brave” means. Are we now brave, to walk in protest, facing our fellow countrymen armed to the teeth, to protect our freedoms which have been slipping away from us since September 11, 2001?

The Constitution, starts with this preamble. Read it. Then look at the photo above. Do the two go together?

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

Habeas Corpus- the right not to be be unlawfully detained, and to have a judge and jury determine your fate:

The Privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion the public Safety may require it.

When police show up with the firepower to go to war, our collective rights are being stripped from us. Those which are guaranteed in the Bill of Rights (the first 10 amendments to the Constitution).

They read in brief (from this post)

  1. Freedom of speech, religion, press, assembly and petition.
  2. Right to bear arms.
  3. Right not to quarter soldiers.
  4. Freedom from unnecessary search or seizure.
  5. Due process of laws.
  6. The right to a speedy trial.
  7. The right to a trial by jury.
  8. No cruel or unusual punishment.
  9. Constitutional rights do not deny other rights.
  10. States rights

Look again at the photo above. The Third amendment specifically applies to this-

“the Third Amendment subordinates military authority to civilian control and safeguards against abuses that can be perpetrated by standing armies and professional soldiers.” via The legal dictionary/free dictionary.

Do those cops look like cops, or professional soldiers to you? They do to me.

We have a constitutional law expert as our president. Now is not the time for him to be on vacation. What is happening in Ferguson MO is a danger to the state of our union, and demands his attention. It’s time for a come-to-Jesus meeting about police militarization, because if this is how my police serve and protect, I say they are doing neither.

Right after I posted this- Butler Township Trustee Nick Brusky tweeted the following:

Five Rivers Metroparks. Now run by the politburo

This is illegal. On July 26th Five Rivers Metroparks started pushing a new policy to vendors at the 2nd Street Market- to take effect 8/1/2014. But before we even get to what the policy they are implementing is- we have to start with the e-mail signature of the person sending out the policy – it includes the following legalese:

This e-mail and any files transmitted with it are confidential and intended solely for the use of the individual or entity to whom they are addressed. If you are not the named addressee you should not disseminate, distribute or copy this e-mail. Please notify the sender immediately by e-mail if you have received this e-mail by mistake and delete this e-mail from your system. Please note that any views or opinions presented in this e-mail are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of Five Rivers MetroParks. Five Rivers MetroParks accepts no liability for any damage caused by any virus transmitted by this e-mail.

It’s even styled to be hard to read- using gray type and small font style tags.

Please note, “Autumn Saenz Market Coordinator 2nd St Market Five Rivers MetroParks” you don’t work for a private law firm- but for a government entity- funded by our taxes. Everything you do is public information, covered by Ohio’s Sunshine laws, and available to the public through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). Just the hint of some sort of secrecy- or that this isn’t public record, is a violation.

If any vendor wants to forward your communications, get used to it. Several vendors are my clients and talked to me about this new policy- and I concur, it’s absurd and illegal.

The new policy in question? “SOCIAL MEDIA RULES AND REGULATIONS” which prohibits talking smack about Five Rivers Metroparks, the Market, and or, anything about the market or any of the affiliates- up to and including the commissioners of the organization. So, in effect, we’re allowed to bully you into not being a “cyberbully” and if you talk about us, and our attempts to regulate free speech in public, we’ll terminate your lease.

The complete text of the new mandate:

Five Rivers MetroParks
2nd Street Market
Amendment to Rules and Regulations
Effective 8/1//14

SOCIAL MEDIA RULES AND REGULATIONS
2nd Street Market vendors and their employees or agents must be courteous and professional at all times. This includes vendors’ use of the Internet, e-mail and social media and digital networking tools.

Vendors and their employees or agents shall not make defamatory or derogatory remarks about Five Rivers MetroParks, the 2nd Street Market, or other related to Five Rivers MetroParks or the 2nd Street Market in their electronic communications, including on all social media platforms. They will not engage in gossip, spreading rumors, cyberbullying or similar behavior.

Vendors, their employees or agents may not use e-mail, the Internet or social media and digital networking tools in any manner that may impair the reputation or public standing of Five Rivers MetroParks, the 2nd Street Market or their employees, agents or Commissioners.

Fiver (sic) Rivers MetroParks and the 2nd Street Market reserve the right to report any such communication to the appropriate authorities and social media platforms as communication that violates appropriate standard of conduct. Repeated offenses of these rules and regulations may result in the termination of a vendor’s license agreement at conduct business at the 2nd Street Market.
———————————————————————————————————————
Cut/Tear along the dotted line and return to Jimmy or Autumn. Thank You

By signing here, the vendor agrees to participate in the 2nd Street Market in accordance with the Amendment to the Rules and Regulations described in this document. Effective 8/1/14.
Vendor Business
Vendor Name
Vendor Signature
Date

If you want an original PDF of the document in question: Social Media Amendment

Metroparks is funded by Montgomery County taxpayers. And just to make it clear- even if the vendors were direct employees of a private company- these policies and threats of lease termination would be illegal:

In January (2013), the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) issued a series of rulings and advisories that changed the rules for private businesses that want to punish workers who make these feelings public using social media.

The board’s rulings make it illegal for most private companies to enact broad policies that would punish workers who criticize their employers or work conditions if such venting could be considered part of an employee’s right to work toward improved working conditions.

via Do Governments Need Personal Social Media Policies?.

As our best example of regional cooperation, MetroParks should be the shining example of open government, and transparent practices. One of the oddities of this organization is that even though the public pays for this organization, we have no say in who runs it- the 3 “commissioners” are appointed by an unnamed “Montgomery County Probate Judge” and seem to be appointed for life (although start dates for each isn’t listed, Irv Bieser and Alan Pippenger have been on this board for a long time (but we’ll save that issue for another post).

As of this time, most vendors, afraid to raise their voices against this policy fearing the threat of lease termination- are signing it and keeping their mouths shut. Technically, the release of the e-mail and document, may be grounds for termination. When we can’t talk in public about the conduct of the people in charge of our tax dollars, we don’t have a democracy, we have a dictatorship. And in that vein, to the director of Metroparks- I challenge you, Becky Benná- tear down this policy.