WSU sure has funny priorities these days

The call came in a few days ago- a Wright State student who was organizing Bernie Sanders events on campus was distraught: apparently, someone had donated some sodas for the meeting, which they distributed for free at a debate watch party.

The next thing you know, they were being threatened with being banned from campus. You see WSU signed an exclusive contract with one of the big soda companies for exclusive rights on campus, and this soda was from their evil competition.

I was in the midst of work, and it didn’t really register as a battle worth fighting. They’d looked me up for my posts critical of the university for the scandal train that’s been running around the university for too long. The more I thought about it after I hung up, the more I realized, they are willing to go ballistic over $20 worth of pop, but a million dollars to Ron Wine without a contract– that’s ok?

This “soda gate” had gone all the way up to Dr. Rountree- yes, the opportunistic political climber now sitting on the Dayton Board of Education. This is what she gets paid close to six figures to rule on- free soda distribution.

In the meantime, the Dayton Daily has yet another example of the school trying to weasel around the Ohio Sunshine laws:

Wright State University has paid $309,750 to an independent auditing firm to review its practices amid a federal immigration probe and other ongoing controversies, but says it will not make the audit’s findings public.

Wright State says the details of Plante Moran’s work are not subject to Ohio public records laws because the firm was subcontracted through the law firm Dinsmore and Shohl, therefore the audit falls under attorney-client privilege.

The university repeatedly has denied requests for a copy of the firm’s findings, beginning with a written denial in October: “(They) are privileged and the university has no plans to share them publicly at this time,” WSU spokesman Seth Bauguess wrote in response to a request for the records under Ohio public records law.

This newspaper later followed up with a request for records on how much Plante Moran was paid. That information was received this week.

Plante Moran, a certified public accounting and business advisory firm based in Michigan, was paid for work done in 2015 with five checks from WSU, cut between September and January.

Dinsmore has billed the university another $108,000 this fiscal year under a pair of contracts for “immigration matters” and “legal advice and services related to internal investigations.”

“Every organization can find ways to do things better and those of us who love and support Wright State know that our university is no different,” WSU Trustees Chairman Michael Bridges said when he announced the hiring of the CPA firm in June. “We look forward to detailed and aggressive recommendations from the outside accounting professionals at Plante Moran to help us make the best possible strategic decisions for our university.”

The work by the two companies is related to an ongoing federal investigation into possible violations of immigration law, which led to several top university officials being suspended, fired or forced to retire.

Source: WSU spent over $300K on audit it won’t release

Let me translate, Wright State paid Plante Moran directly, yet claims the work was hired by a sub-contractor, also hired directly by the university, so that the work product, done for the school, is not public record.

The board chairman, who already illegally voted on the hiring of his son to an unposted job, at one time claimed that WSU hired Plante Moran back in June to help THEM, Wright State, not the law firm, make best possible decisions- but, oh, we’re not going to see it, because our lawyers need to keep it secret.

It’s time to fire President Hopkins, bring up the hack “spokesman Seth Bauguess” on charges of violating the Sunshine laws, and to replace not just the board president, but the entire board, which has been asleep at the wheel.

There is no more room for this kind of deceit at a public university. The report needs to be made public no if, ands or buts.

What good are public information laws if they aren’t enforced?

And those damn commie students with their 3 cases of soda. Send them off to the gulag. We can’t be sipping contraband soda while rooting for a damn democratic socialist running for president. What is this world coming to?

Fire the Montgomery County Board of Elections

This is not an agenda. This is an outline.

Board Meeting
Tuesday, August 11, 2015, at 8:30 a.m.
Call the meeting to order
Motion to certify candidate petitions for the 2015 General Election
Motion on candidate petitions for the 2015 General Election that appear invalid
Motion to certify local option petitions for the 2015 General Election
Director’s comments
Deputy Director’s comments
Next meeting date is scheduled for Tuesday, August 25, 2015, at 8:30 a.m.
Motion to adjourn

An agenda would have the names of each candidate, and status. What local options they are discussing- you’d never know.

This is a joke. It’s a violation of the sunshine laws- it’s purposefully vague and misleading, and it wastes the time of the public. There is no excuse for this kind of blatant obfuscation of public business.


10 Aug 15- they’ve sent an “amendment” out- but only their twisted minds would call this an amendment- it’s a date change nothing more.
Board Meeting
Wednesday, August 12, 2015 at 8:30 am
Call the meeting to order
Motion to certify candidate petitions for the 2015 General Election
Motion on candidate petitions for the 2015 General Election that appear invalid
Motion to certify local option petitions for the 2015 General Election
Director’s comments
Deputy Director’s comments
Next meeting date is scheduled for Tuesday, August 25, 2015 at 8:30 am
Motion to adjourn

Still no details.


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

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

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.


Bad agendas, hidden agendas, worthless agendas- are all the Party agenda

The Montgomery County Board of Elections is in the basement of the County Administration Building. Basements are notorious as places where it’s damp, dark and mold grows. Slimey mold.

So, despite the claims that the BOE always meets now at 11 a.m. (when they claimed I misrepresented the time of the proper William Pace denial on the ballot meeting)- they are meeting this Tuesday at 8:30 a.m.

And on the MC BOE 02.18.14 Agenda are these three innocuous items:

  • Motion to certify candidate petitions for the Primary Election
  • Motion on candidate’s petitions for the Primary Election that appear questionable
  • Motion on candidate’s petitions for the Primary Election that appear invalid

Notice how there is no list of who may be in trouble? What if the candidate wanted to know if he or she need to be there? To line up the people who signed the petition? Ah, screw you. Screw the sunshine laws. Let’s keep the public in the dark.

If you want a participatory democracy- you do it out in the open, with as much useful information as possible.

#FAIL Montgomery County Board of Elections.

Note, there should have been a document on the website the day petitions were closed, of every candidate who had filed. It didn’t show either. Here it is: MD BOE 2014 primary filed_1 Note- it was sent as a scan of a printout. I had to OCR it to make it accessible. Also missing is the list of Dems filing for Montgomery County Precinct Captains for the Democratic party.


update 4;45pm- the list of precinct captains. Only 5 contested precincts (including mine)  and a lot of empties. 2014 Democrat central committee all

Ah, if we were all mushrooms, we’d be worth millions- they like to keep us in the dark and feed us $h!t.

There’s more sunshine in the county than in the city

Last week I made an identical request for public records from the county and the city. In Montgomery County you send your request to the Auditor’s office, run by Karl Keith, the elected Democrat who is also Vice-Chair of the Montgomery County Democratic Party. They have a very informative page with all the info you need to fill out a request here:

I asked:

“I’d like a spreadsheet with the names of all county employees- title and department, home zip code and the street number of their home.
Thank you very much.”

I immediately got an automated reply saying they had received the request. A few days later I got another email clarifying the request:

After reviewing your public records request, further clarification is needed.  Please clarify that the information you are requesting is listed below…

  • Names of all county employees
  • Title and Department
  • Home Zip Code
  • Home street number

Please respond to this email to confirm or clarify if the above criterion is accurate or inaccurate.

Thank You

I said that was correct and thank you. The next day it showed up. Exactly what I asked for.

On the other hand, the request to the city generated this response from Tom Biedenharn, from the city’s office of public affairs. The city FOIA request page is here:


We have completed your request to the extent that we can.  However, according to a previous Ohio Supreme Court ruling, State ex rel Dispatch Printing Company vs. Johnson, 2005 – 106 Ohio St. 3d, 160 (see attached), home addresses of public employees are not subject to Open Records Requests since they do not fall under the definition of a record that “documents the activities” of the organization.  Please find attached a document containing the other information you requested.

Thank you.

Tom Biedenharn
Office of Public Affairs

He included a 24 page PDF explaining why it was none of my business to get the home zip code and house number of city employees. I’m including a copy of it here: Case re public request for employee addresses

And while the response with the list of employees was almost instant- even with going back and forth, he stood his ground.

Please note, that if you are a registered voter in the state of Ohio- anyone, can go to the Secretary of State site and download the voter files, with your full name, address, birth year, gender, political party affiliation, and voting record (if you voted- not who you voted for). Yet, asking where the people we pay to work for us are is private?

Note, I was careful, not to ask for home addresses- just a zip code and a house number. I really don’t care where you live, but I was trying to corroborate something that I think is of major interest to the taxpayers of our county: Who is getting patronage jobs- and how they are controlling elections.

But, that’s the beauty of the Sunshine Laws- I don’t have to explain why I’m asking. The fact that the two government entities treat my request differently is an issue. But, what’s more important is what I found and posted in a previous post:

The “Monarchy of Montgomery County” starts in the BOE and the party central committees – See more at: “The “Monarchy of Montgomery County” starts in the BOE and party central committees”
What I found by cross referencing the two employee lists, with the voter database, with the list from the Board of Elections of who was elected in 2010 to the Montgomery County Democratic Central Committee- was that of the 361 precincts, 175 are empty, 186 are filled. 84 are people I could identify as either: government workers, elected officials, union heads, former elected officials, relatives of employees, and I’m sure if I had some insiders helping out, we’d have even more. To me, this is a conflict of interest- an EPIC FAIL to running open and honest elections, because in Montgomery County, the parties endorse pre-primary. That’s right, the party central committees, made up of the friends and family of elected officials – the people who can hire and fire government workers, pick a secret subset of these people, to serve on the “Screening Committee” that picks the winners and losers- and oversees the elections.
If you wonder what a “Screening Committee” meeting sounds like- I recorded one and posted it (they were mad) – I just can’t find it right now. Here’s a post that has the written questions:
The one question that always gets asked- “If we don’t endorse you, will you drop out.” Let me ask you, when that’s the question- why have primaries at all?
Is this really how a democracy works?
Do you still have the full trust in your government now knowing that your home address isn’t protected and city employees addresses are? That the party central committees- which only require 5 signatures to run- get to decide who runs in elections, who gets endorsed and most importantly- picks who runs the election itself?
This is nothing short of organized crime.
Want to do something about it? Let’s fill the 175 empty seats- and a flip a few of the others- and stop this “friends and family program.”
Are you with me?

Pardon me, but are you still the “Dayton City Commission” if you meet in Sharonville?

Screen shot of agenda header

Is it still the “Dayton City Commission”

The almighty Mayor Nan and company believe that Dayton isn’t good enough for them to hold a retreat, instead, wasting our tax money and time- they scheduled a retreat tonight and tomorrow in Sharonville.

I suggest they reconsider this- and am seeking counsel to file an injunction.

From the Ohio Sunshine Laws Manual– page 88:

1. Where Meetings May be Held
A public body must conduct its meetings in a venue that is open to the public.831 Although the Open
Meetings Act does not specifically address where a public body must hold meetings, some authority
suggests that a public body must hold meetings in a public meeting place832 that is within the
geographical jurisdiction of the public body. 833

833 1944 Ohio Op. Att’y Gen. No. 7038; 1992 Ohio Op. Att’y Gen. No. 032.

I’m not linking this to the Dayton Daily News article about the session, because the paper is too chickenshit to do its job.

Here is the link to the City of Dayton “agenda” for the special meeting- in Cincinnati.

Why would the city commission go an hour away from the citizens that they “represent” to discuss plans for our city? Why would they add an undue burden to the citizen who wants to monitor their actions?

Why isn’t there a place in the city that is good enough for them?

I would advise Dayton Public Schools Superintendent Lori Ward and School Board President Dr. Walker, not to attend and open themselves up to a violation of the law.

This meeting should have been clearly announced in the Wed Jan 8, 2014 meeting agenda– but is not. Considering the only change to the commission is the addition of Jeff Mims, who rode the Whaley bandwagon into office, the real question is why is there even a need to work on “team building.” This is Nan’s team. It’s what she campaigned on. She sold voters on her “roadmap”- what’s to discuss in Cincinnati?



The new SOP at the BOE and the SOS to hide from the public

Apparently, I did something wrong when I recorded my conversation with Montgomery County Board of Elections director Steve Harsman– because now, I’m getting punished. No matter who I call to talk to, the call gets routed to Harsman. There seems to be a directive against speaking to me. I wasn’t recording the call on Wednesday when I was following up on an email request I sent to Denis Aslinger in campaign finance for a fresh copy of the voter database, but Harsman came online and told me that all my requests had to be via a “formal public records request” and would be handled in the order they are received.

What used to be a same day turn-around is now a several day wait.

This is flagrant politicization of office, discrimination and further indication that Harsman and company are unfit for office.

Ohio doesn’t require that you notify someone that the conversation is being taped- as long as one party knows, it’s legal.

Furthermore, I have multiple sources that confirm that party endorsed candidates’ petitions are checked in advance by BOE employees before turn-in. Had Mr. Pace had the same courtesy, he would have been on the ballot, as would many others before him. It’s time to fully investigate the politicization of the Board of Elections, especially in this nonpartisan election.

If I don’t see a csv file in my email tomorrow, the next step will be evaluated and pursued.

One other note, in public records requests over the William Pace denial from the ballot, an internal email (below) from Kery Gray, who works for the City Commission and is a Nan Whaley campaign minion, clearly shows that Gray knew in advance of my questioning about the lack of an agenda for the illegal BOE meeting where Pace was ruled off the ballot, that Pace had problems:

From:Gray, Kery
Sent:Wednesday, March 13,20131:45 PM
To:Leitzell, Gary; Leitzell, Gary
Cc:’[email protected]
Subject:Dave Esratl Phone Call

At about 8:45, Dave Esrati called and left a message for Mayor Leitzell and I saying “BOE meeting today@ 4:00 they
(BOE) won’t provide agenda.” BOE is Board of Elections.
I returned his call 11:00 ish and left a message as he was out. I also called Steve Harsman who indicated that they had
publicly declared the meeting and produced an agenda, and that he believed Mr. Esrati’s Issue was a dissatisfaction with
the specificity of the agenda.
About 1:00, Mr. Esrati called me back and he said that the City Charter states the City runs its election (which we do by
contracting with BOE) and that the agenda ought to have the results as they are best known on it so that interested
parties could determine If they wanted to attend the meeting. He cannot attend the 4:00 meeting because he is
celebrating his father’s birthday. He indicated that Mr. Harsman said they were doing third counts of signatures; Mr.
Esrati believes that the first and second counts must indicate something and those results should be on the agenda or
available to the public. Mr. Esrati also thought that If the Mayor wants to know the results ahead of time, he should be
able to know them ahead of time.
I agreed to share his thoughts with the Mayor and Mr. Harsman. Between the three of us, I assume that BOE does not
want to present tentative results and the third count is a step in determining the Board’s decision. This is my own
thought, based on what I know about election procedures and is not based on a conversation with Mr. Harsman.
I indicated to Mr. Esratl that if Mr. Harsman provides additional information to Mayor Leitzell and the Mayor shares it
with me, I would share it with him.
Finishing the conversation, Mr. Esrati and I had a brief pleasant conversation about restaurants.
I don’t think there is really anything to do about this. Mr. Esrati seems mostly to be unhappy that the agenda does not
reflect what he thinks it should reflect.
Kery Gray
Executive Assistant to the City Commission
City of Dayton
101 W. Third Street
Second Floor
Dayton, OH 45402

Note, on March 8, 2013 Gray was cc’d on a memo from Law Director Danish to Harsman:

March 8. 2013
Mr. Steven P Harsman. Deputy Director
Board of Elections
14 West Fourth Street
Dayton. OH 45402
RE: Petitions for City of Dayton Candidates
Dear Mr. Harsman.

You requested an opinion March 4. 2013. with regard to petitions for election to the office of
Mayor of the City of Dayton. Specifically, you ask, pursuant to the Dayton Charter, 1) whether a
candidate may notarize the affidavit of a petition circulator and 2) whether a candidate must sign
and accept the candidacy on each petition subm1tted…

There is no requirement that a candidate accept the candidacy as part of the nominating papers. A candidate
is permitted to either file his or her acceptance on n separate instrument with the Board of
Elections or as part of the nominating papers, so long as it is filed timely. Accordingly, it is the
opinion of the Law Department that a candidate is not required to sign and accept the candidacy
on each petition submitted.

Gray was in full knowledge at the time of my call that Pace’s petitions had problems and that there may be good reason for him to attend the meeting of the BOE. Had Gray disclosed this to me, or to the public in general, Pace would have had time to submit his acceptance of candidacy.

The question is, do you want civil servants that actually serve you? Or serve the political system in Montgomery County- dedicated to keeping those in power, in power?



Ohio to privatize development- our tax dollars as handouts.

I’m still not sure why government is in the “economic development” business- instead of working on perfecting the “business of government.” But our new governor, John Kasich, apparently thinks that turning our tax dollars over to a private entity to “invest” is a good idea.

I think it’s illegal. Tax dollars are for public welfare and provision of infrastructure. Handing out tax dollars to private business creates an unequal playing field. Of course, to a former director from Lehman Brothers- this is to be expected:

Gov. John Kasich’s plan to privatize Ohio’s economic development effort by creating a nonprofit corporation run by a nine-member board easily passed the Ohio House on Tuesday….

The bill now goes to the Senate, also controlled by Republicans.

JobsOhio would not be a state agency and the state’s open meetings law and public records law would not apply to it, although supporters said there would be sufficient public disclosure.

Kasich has made it a key ingredient in his plan to make Ohio “open for business.”

It’s what the state needs at a time of unemployment hovering around 10 percent and thousands of jobs continuing to leave the state, he and his allies have said. “We need a different direction,” said Rep. Danny Bubp, R-West Union. “This bill does that…. Ohio is at war with other states and countries for jobs.”

via State House OKs economic privatizing plan.

You have to love idiots who think we are “at war with other states and countries for jobs.” War is an activity that has no winners and everyone loses. Ohio is in a competition with other states and countries- and if we want to be more competitive the answers are to make this a more desirable place to do business.

While GM, Ford and Chrysler seemed to have failed to make cars in Ohio- Honda hasn’t seemed to have a problem. That’s an indication that well-run companies can be successful in Ohio.

However- our population is shrinking. Our schools aren’t performing- yet you don’t hear the governor working on fixing our unconstitutional school funding as a first priority. Nope- funding private businesses comes first in his book.

We’ve got archaic rules on the books- with way too many governmental districts and jurisdictions. Cities, townships, counties- we elect coroners and auditors and clerks of courts- we could cut governmental overhead by eliminating so many of these bureaucracies and save money and cut the overhead for business- but, nope- handing out money to friends and family comes first.

Even though the rest of the industrialized world is building energy-efficient rail transportation- that goes 300 m.p.h.- our governor is convinced that his Wall Street style solution is the answer- instead of building infrastructure that would give us a competitive advantage.

And while the rise in health care costs to business in Ohio have become unbearable- he’s got us trying to undo the only hope many small businesses have for gaining access to health insurance plans that can put them on a level playing field with large corporations that can bully for better rates.

Of all the broken things in Ohio- with our overlapping layers of bureaucracy- the first thing Governor Kasich does is create a new bureaucracy that runs without public oversight.

Ohio is about to take a huge step backwards- thanks to Governor Kasich and his Wall Street Wizard’s-eye view.

Sure we need to get rid of the Ohio Department of Economic Development- but, what we don’t need is a replacement.

Esrati “the ninja” featured in Wired Magazine

Hopefully, this won’t be my first and last appearance in Wired Magazine (and maybe next time they’ll even put my name in)- but, I was honored to be mentioned in my favorite magazine, Sept. 2010 issue., page 54:

My town council has banned me from attending its meetings because I criticized one of its members on Twitter. OK, OK, I called him a “fucking idiot.” Can they really do that?

It would be one thing if you’d been barred from a homeowners’ association or Rotary Club meeting—private organizations have carte blanche to bounce anyone who dares question their awesomeness. But local governments must act in accordance with a little doohickey called the First Amendment. That means they’re rarely allowed to bar people from their public forums.

The council has one shot at making its ban stick. “If they can show that the person would be very disruptive, that might work,” says David L. Hudson Jr., a scholar at the Vanderbilt University’s First Amendment Center. But unless you’ve wreaked havoc at past meetings—say, by tossing chairs or burning effigies—the council will have a tough time proving its case. The city of Dayton, Ohio, learned that lesson the hard way in 1997, after it was sued by a man who’d been kicked out of a public commission meeting for wearing a ninja mask. An appeals court ruled in favor of the ninja, finding that his menacing attire was a protected form of speech this despite the fact that everyone knows ninjas don’t talk.

Lawsuits are an expensive pain, so you should try to find a way of changing the council’s mind before resorting to the courts. Since your town elders are obviously Twitter fans, how about using the microblogging service to make them and fellow townsfolk aware that you’re in the constitutional right here? Just be polite about it—save the f-bombs for the next atrocious zoning blunder.

via Mr. Know-It-All: iPhone Fixation, Twitter Tantrums, iPad Snobbery | Magazine.

And to attest to the power of social media- Nate Driver and David Bowman both DM’d me before I’d had a chance to open my copy to tell me.

Bowman: @esrati. You made it into @wired for defending first amendment.

And then- Teri Lussier writes this: “Ha! Just reading abt @Esrati the Ninja in Wired 18.10 pg 54; OK, so YOU wouldn’t wear a ninja mask to mtg, but legally you could. Thx, David

And to clarify the story- the city arrested me and charged me with 4 fourth-degree misdemeanors, punishable by a max fine of $250 and 30 days in jail for each (total $1.000 and 120 days in jail possible). They lost in five different court decisions over 2.5 years. Finally the city settled for $100K and most of it went to pay my legal bills.

The Dayton Daily News totally muffed the story the first time- had to re-write the second day, and never gave me credit for being right.

My detailed account is here: Esrati, the masked man

Unfortunately, even though Mike Turner lost all five cases and was embarrassed on the stand, the court of public opinion gave him the win. The city commission still meets illegally and obfuscates the process.

It’s one of the reasons I keep running- and try to keep City Hall in line on this site.

City Commission wants to raise your taxes as an Emergency!

It’s nice when the Mayor sends you a note to tell you that the Commission Clerk is now doing their job- by posting a 161 page PDF to support the commission meeting this week. You can look for the minutes for Feb 17th- at this link:

Meeting Agendas & Minutes

via Meeting Agendas & Minutes.

The actual document is at:

Here’s the bad news: The document is a scan of printouts- which means we have pictures of text- not actual text. This means it does not meet the Americans With Disabilities act requirements for public documents. (I wrote about this in 2008!) People who are vision impaired cannot use a screen reader to have the document read to them. It also- and this is IMPORTANT- means Google can’t read it- nor is it searchable. Someone in City Hall is wasting a lot of time making a document that is only visible to those they want it to be.

And of course, there are some “Emergency ordinances” on the agenda this Wednesday- that should have been able to be on the table for discussion and investigation for more than 3 days-

Let me share: (sorry for any typos- I had to use OCR software)

Sec. 171. Limitation of the Total Property Tax Rate Which May Be Levied Without a Vote of the People for All the Purposes of the Municipality.

The City Commission is hereby granted the authority, without a vote of the people, to levy taxes upon the tax lists or duplicates of property assessed and listed for taxation according to value for all the purposes of the City of Dayton, its boards, departments and institutions, in amounts not in excess of Ten mills on each dollar of assessed valuation on the tax list or duplicate.

Out of said total maximum levy, an amount shall annually be levied sufficient to pay the interest, sinking fund and  retirement charges on all bonds and notes of the City of Dayton heretofore or hereafter authorized to be issued without the authority of the electors, which levy shall be placed before and in preference to all other levies and for the full amount thereof. Of the remaining portion of said total maximum levy, an amount not exceeding five mills may be levied annually for the general fund of said city.

The City Commission, without a vote of the people, may not authorize any property tax levy or levies for permanent improvements other than those which may be made within the 5 mills levy for the general fund, as set forth in the second paragraph of this section, if such levy or levies will increase the total levies for all city purposes, inclusive of all levies to pay the interest, sinking fund and retirement charges on all unvoted bonds and notes of the City of Dayton and those voted bonds heretofore or hereafter issued pursuant to vote of the electors, beyond 10 mills.

Unless authorized and approved by a vote of the electors conformably with the general laws of this state, the City Commission shall levy no property tax outside of the limitations set forth in this section. Provided, however, that the City Commission shall annually levy, to the extent necessary, outside the limitations provided in this Charter and by general law a sufficient sum to pay the interest, sinking fund and retirement charges on all bonds and notes of the City of Dayton heretofore or hereafter lawfully issued, the tax for which by general law or by this Charter has been or shall be authorized to be levied outside of tax limitations.

Section 3. That upon approval by a majority of the electors voting thereon, the amendment to Section 171 shall take effect  on July 1, 2010.

Section 4. That upon approval of the amendment to Section 171 by a majority of the electors voting, existing Section 171 of the Charter is repealed effective June 30, 2010.

Section 5. That the Clerk of the Commission is directed to certify a copy of this Ordinance to the Board of Elections of Montgomery County, Ohio, immediately upon its passage, and to give notice of the proposed amendment to Section 171 of the Charter by newspaper advertising in accordance with the provisions of Section 731.21.1 of the Ohio Revised Code.

Section 6. For the reasons stated in the preamble hereof, this Ordinance is declared to be an emergency measure and shall take effect immediately upon its passage.

Should laws to raise taxes be put into effect without considerable discussion and explaination?

They also want to change the Charter rules on calling meetings- something they seem to think needs to be able to be done at a drop of a hat:

Sec. 39. Meetings of the Connnission.

For the purpose of allowing newly-elected and qualified Connnissioners to assume the duties of their office, the Connnission shall meet on the first Monday in January following a regular municipal election, or the next day if the first Monday in January following a regular municipal election is a legal holiday. The Connnission shall meet at a place and time announced during the last Connnission meeting of the previous year. Thereafter the Commissioners shall meet at such times as may be prescribed by ordinance or resolution, except that they shall not meet less than once each week. Should a scheduled meeting of the Connnission lack a quorum, the meeting may be cancelled by a majority of the Connnission providing written notification to the Clerk of their unavailability. A cancelled meeting shall not constitute an absence from a meeting by a Connnissioner and shall not require authorization from the Connnission.

1.) The Mayor, any two members of the Commission, or the City Manager, may call special meetings of the Commission upon at least 24 hours’ written notice to each member of the Commission, served personally on each member or left at his usual place of residence. All meetings of the Commission shall be open to the public in accordance with the Ohio Sunshine Law presently codified in Ohio R.C. § 121.22. The Commission shall determine its own rules and order of business and shall keep a journal of its proceedings.

Section 3. That upon approval by a majority of the electors voting thereon, the amendment to Section 39 shall take effect on July 1, 2010.

Section 4. That upon approval of the amendment to Section 39 by a majority of the electors voting, existing Section 39 of the Charter is repealed effective June 30, 2010.

Section 5. That the Clerk of the Commission is directed to certify a copy of this Ordinance to the Board of Elections of Montgomery County, Ohio, immediately upon its passage, and to give notice of the proposed amendment to Section 39 of the Charter by newspaper advertising in accordance with the provisions of Section 731.21.1 of the Ohio Revised Code.

Section 6. For the reasons stated in the preamble hereof, this Ordinance is declared to be an emergency measure and shall take effect immediately upon its passage.

And of course, they say they have to use “newspaper advertising”- just to appease the “watchdog” that should stop this kind of “emergency ordinance” malarky. I guess they haven’t figured out that voters don’t read the paper anymore- or maybe that’s why they are using it…

They also have to change the residency requirements in the charter- now that they’ve been ruled unconstitutional. Why we’re not just deleting this part, I’m not sure:

Section 187. Residency for Part-time Employees.
Part-time employees and volunteers shall have the same residency requirements as full time employees.
Section 3. That upon approval by a majority of the electors voting thereon, the amendment to Section 187 shall talce effect on July 1, 2010.
Section 4. That upon approval of the amendment to Section 187 by a majority of the electors voting, existing Section 187 of the Charter is repealed effective June 30,2010.
Section 5. That the Clerle of the Commission is directed to certify a copy of this Ordinance to the Board of Elections of Montgomery County, Ohio, immediately upon its passage, and to give notice of the proposed amendment to Section 187 of the Charter by newspaper advertising in accordance with the provisions of Section 731.21.1 of the Ohio Revised Code.
Section 6. For the reasons stated in the preamble hereof, this Ordinance is declared to be an emergency measure and shall take effect immediately upon its passage.

The residency rule has been unconstitutional for at least a year- why this wasn’t done without an emergency ordinance is inexcusable.

We’re also doing an emergency ordinance to deal with classifications of employees:

Section 1. That an amendment to Section 95 of Dayton’s Charter be submitted to the electors of the City at the May 4, 2010 regular municipal election.
Section 2. That the proposed amendment to Section 95 of the Charter read as follows:
Sec. 95. Classification.
The Civil Service of the city is hereby divided into the unclassified and the classified service.
(A) The unclassified service shall include the following at-will positions:
(1) All officers elected by the people and members of appointed boards.
(2) All officers and employees of the Commission.
(3) The City Manager and deputies, assistants, secretaries, and aides of the City Manager and all other employees in the office of the City Manager.
(4) The heads of departments, one assistant or deputy of a department, heads of divisions of departments and one secretary for each department.
(5) The heads of Commission agencies, including but not limited to the Chief Examiner of the Civil Service Board, one assistant or deputy of a Commission agency, and one secretary for each Commission agency.
(B) The classified service shall comprise all positions not specifically included by this Charter in the unclassified service. There shall be in the classified service three classes to be known as the competitive class, non-competitive
class, and labor class.
(1) The competitive class shall include all positions and employment for which it is practicable to determine the merit and fitness of applicants by competitive examination.
(2) The non-competitive class shall consist of all positions requiring a college degree, a professional license, unique community service or peculiar and exceptional qualifications of a scientific, managerial, professional, or educational  character, as may be determined by the rules of the Board.
(3) The labor class shall include ordinary unskilled labor.
Section 3. That upon approval by a majority of the electors voting thereon, the amendment to Section 95 shall take effect on July 1. 2010.
Section 4. That upon approval of the amendment to Section 95 by a majority of the electors voting, existing Section 95 of the Charter is repealed effective June 30.2010.
Section 5. That the Clerk of the Commission is directed to certify a copy of this Ordinance to the Board of Elections of Montgomery County. Ohio, immediately upon its passage, and to give notice of the proposed amendment to Section 95 of the Charter by newspaper advertising in accordance with the provisions of Section 731.21.1 of the Ohio Revised Code.
Section 6. For the reasons stated in the preamble hereof. this Ordinance is declared to be an emergency measure and shall take effect immediately upon its passage.

Somehow, it’s also an emergency to redefine the boundaries of a neighborhood that’s over 100 years old. No real justification for this either:

Establishing and Describing the Boundaries of the Twin Towers Community Reinvestment Area in the City of Dayton, and Declaring an Emergency.

I’m sorry- but these are not emergencies, by any stretch of the imagination. These issues all show a total disregard for the principles of open, honest government. The rule of P’s comes to play- prior planning prevents poor performance- and any city staff members who were involved in bringing these forward as emergencies should be written up for failure to do their duty to the citizens of Dayton by being better prepared- and set for a longer discussion horizon.

Because of this- I recommend that the citizens show their displeasure by voting down each and everyone of the ballot issues to send a message that all issues as important as those that must be voted on- must also have a proper time frame for discussion. The staff’s lack of planning does not an emergency make.

I’ve uploaded a copy of the OCR’d document- so those with disabilities can read it. Unfortunately- the links put in by staff no longer work properly (learn to use the technology please). 02-17-10AgendaOCR

There is a lot to analyze out of these ordinances- and, frankly, I’m not paid enough to figure it all out. I suggest you ask your elected leaders to explain each of these in English- and why they are passing them as emergencies.