2 years later: still an unsolved murder

Dayton Daily News cutting about SGM Woodall Murder

Gone, but never forgotten. SGM Woodall, US Army Special Forces

On the wall, in front of my desk- I have a lot of things taped up. A full page ad remembering David Ogilvy, a full page ad recognizing Lee Clow for getting into the Advertising Hall of Fame, Kurt Vonnegut’s eight rules for writing fiction, Seth Godin’s “Where ideas come from” and some of my ads- that may or may not have been produced.

Then there is the front page of the Wednesday, July 29, 2009, Dayton Daily News- “Veteran of 3 wars, 85, dies in home invasion.”

It’s been a year (2 years). The killer of Sgt. Maj. North E. Woodall is still missing.

via 1 year later: still an unsolved murder.

It still bothers me. SGM Woodall served in WW II, Korea and Vietnam- in my former unit, Special Forces. Two Silver Stars. Shot dead by some punk- like the following guy:

Especially today- while a bunch of “ministers” scream about the “killing of Kylan English” and people accuse the police of tasering the statutory rapist (English was 20- the girl whose apartment he was trying to kick in the door of, was 16) and ignore the video evidence of English saying “Do you believe you go to heaven if you kill yourself?” Where were those ministers for SGM Woodall?

We have a genuine American hero- whose murder is still unsolved- yet, a whole ruckus going on about a punk kid who did a hands-tied-behind-the-back swan dive to meet his maker at the bottom of a bridge?

Something is screwed up in the African American Community in Dayton, Ohio.

Bishop Richard E. Cox, head of the Dayton chapter of the SCLC, said he did not believe the coroner’s determination that the death was the result of suicide….

The Rev. Jerome McCorry, head of the faith-based Adam Project that works with ex-convicts, joined Cox in denouncing police and the coroner’s report following the news conference.

Cox and McCorry called for police Chief Richard Biehl’s resignation.

via Suicide ruling based on reports and video.

Where are Cox and McCorry when it comes to SGM North Woodall? Silent.

Now, it turns out that a pedestrian not only saw English do exactly what the evidence said- he posted it to his Facebook account. Which was seen by friends and family- who didn’t report it immediately to the police.

The investigation into the possible wrongdoing of the punk is now closed.

I call for the resignation of Bishop Cox and the Reverend McCorry. There should be an investigation into what they knew, while pushing their hateful agenda against our police department.

The Dayton Daily News has actually done a pretty good job of reporting this dog and pony show. Making the video available to the public is what the paper should be doing (that it’s in Flash- instead of an HTML5 compliant format will be overlooked).  However, it still bugs me that Kylen English got more press than and attention than SGM Woodall- and that’s a crime.

Now that we’re done glorifying a suicidal punk- let’s get serious about finding a decorated war hero’s killer.

Until the killer is found, and brought to justice, I’ll still have the article, with the SGM’s scowl- looking over my monitor. I’ve not forgotten you, Top. We’ll get the bastards.

Time to spank the petty politicians: raid their campaign kittys

The two-party system is broken. The standstill in Washington over the debt ceiling is proof that petty politicians will do almost anything to posture instead of proceed to solve the problem at hand. We’ve already seen the FAA stop collecting taxes on airlines, soldiers are having essential training cancelled (while still being asked to go to war) and financial markets (which are already a mess due to lack of a spine to reel in wild speculation and dangerous practices) are again starting to react to uncertainty.

But, now, Tea Party Republican Jim Jordan, R-OH, is being threatened with having his district redrawn according to the Columbus Dispatch:

Jim Jordan’s open defiance of Speaker John Boehner’s efforts to solve the debt-ceiling crisis could cost the Urbana Republican his safe House seat in next year’s election.

Two Republican sources deeply involved in configuring new Ohio congressional districts confirmed to The Dispatch today that Jordan’s disloyalty to Boehner has put him in jeopardy of being zeroed out of a district.

“Jim Jordan’s boneheadedness has kind of informed everybody’s thinking,” said one of the sources, both of whom spoke only on condition of anonymity. “The easiest option for everybody has presented itself.”

Jordan’s rural 11-county district, which has a 60 percent Republican voter index, “is easy to cannibalize because it stretches so far,” the other source said….

After The Dispatch posted the story on its website today, Jordan linked to it on Twitter and posted it on his Facebook page, telling followers and friends: “I would be interested to hear your comments on this article suggesting that my vote will result in my congressional district being eliminated.”

Breaking up and parsing out Jordan’s 4th district and throwing him into a new one that is competitive would solve a dilemma for GOP congressional map-drawers who, because of population shifts, must reduce the number of Ohio congressional districts from 18 to 16 before the Feb. 8 candidate filing deadline for the May 3 primary election….

One of the Republican sources said Jordan, a former state legislator, became inoculated against compromising by his comfort in a district he has represented since 2007 and which he typically wins with more than 60 percent of the vote.

via Payback may be coming for congressman’s ‘disloyalty’ | The Columbus Dispatch.

This crass suggestion of those in power that they should be able to override the wishes of voters as easily as redrawing the map- as opposed to the people of Jordan’s district having the right to vote him out of office for his actions shows how petty our two-party system has become- and how meaningless our system of “election” has become. Even if we move to a more democratic system like instant runoff ballots, we’re still at odds thanks to the oddity of letting the foxes have the key to the hen house door.

Here is a better way to solve the impasse- before a single U.S. debt payment is missed, all members of Congress and the president- those who have brought us to the brink of bankruptcy- or at least, default- should have to forfeit their campaign chests- and start amassing debt against their campaign fund raising ability for every dollar that isn’t made right by our government. This would almost guarantee passage- or a complete transformation of our government. Accountability would begin instantly.

It’s time for a solution to this partisan BS. It’s our country- not John Boehner’s, not Jim Jordan’s, not Barack Obama’s. Get to work you jackasses- or we’re going to take your bribe money away.

Bonds for Charter Schools that can’t write English

If the Dayton Public Schools sent out an 8-page newsletter like the “Horizon Science Academy,” a congressman would be crawling up their behinds questioning why they are allowed to teach our children.

However, this charter school is about to get tax-exempt bonds to finance their little money-making “non-profit” skool. Oh, did I misspell that?

“This newsletter is only a few pages from your neighborhood school” opening line of the “Director’s Letter” on page 2.

“Having only about 200 students, we know all the students and their parents with their names and personalities”

“Horizon schools are good for all students at different academic levels: if your child is behind the grade level, our teachers spend extra time with them via after school tutoring and Saturday schools.

“to give our students a breath from hard work”

“Another breath that our students take is when it’s time for our elective classes”

Signed- “Mr. Matt”

Then we have a “Parent Comment” on “would you recommend other families to Horizon Science Academy – Dayton Downtown”

“Yes, because I seen an instant change in my child’s grades, wanting to go to school, she is happy here.”

I’ve attached a PDF of this “newsletter” for you to see for yourself:Horizon Science Academy newsletter

The vote will be Tuesday, July 26-

Deputy County Administrator Joe Tuss said the resolution was pulled from the commission agenda Thursday because of significant interest in the Horizon Science Academy and the way its new school building would be financed.

“We want to make sure we’ve got all the information together before we put it before the commission for consideration,” Tuss said.

via Dayton Daily News Archive of Past Articles | Montgomery County.

The original article on the vote:

Montgomery County commissioners will decide Thursday whether to approve the issuance of $9.2 million in tax-exempt revenue bonds to expand a controversial charter school in Dayton. Deputy County Administrator Joe Tuss said the county would have no liability for the issuance of the bonds, but commission approval is required under the Internal Revenue Code.

The bonds would be issued by the Industrial Development Authority of the County of Pima, Ariz. Proceeds of the bonds would be loaned to New Plan Learning, Inc., an Ohio nonprofit corporation, to finance the expansion of Horizon Science Academy — Dayton High School at 250 Shoup Mill Road.

Chicago-based Concept Schools runs 19 Ohio charter schools, including three Horizon Science Academies in Dayton. One of the state’s largest operators of publicly financed charters, it was founded by Turkish educators inspired by religious leader and scholar, Fethullah Gulen.

The commissioners unanimously approved the same issuance of bonds in June 2010, but the process is being repeated because the approval expired before bonds could be issued, officials said.

Concept Vice President Salim Ucan said the plan calls for moving students from an elementary school at 545 Odlin Ave. to the Shoup Mill location to create a K-12 campus by the 2012-13 school year.

Part of the school would be renovated to add classrooms, offices, labs and a cafeteria, and a new gymnasium also would be built.

School officials also want to purchase 3.26 acres of adjacent property for athletic fields.

via Dayton Daily News Archive of Past Articles | Charter seeking $9.2M to expand.

A very quick investigation of Concept Schools- on their own website, finds them rebutting a TV news story in Cleveland about the recruitment of Turkish teachers using H1B visas to teach at Horizon Schools. In a state where we are extra finicky about who teaches in unionized public schools- it’s odd that we are now so short of qualified Americans to teach at HS and below- that we have to go to Turkey.

But the true zinger is that our property values that are so low and their business model is so untested that banks won’t lend to them in Dayton:

Fourth, such reports raise concerns about the Horizon Science Academy in Dayton, which is leasing its facility from an Ohio limited liability company that is owned by a Turkish businessman who was willing to take a risk on the development of this property as a school, when Dayton area banks and others were not. The Dayton school leases the property for $3.78 a square foot, which is a bargain compared to medium grade office space in Dayton, which is leased for $10 a square foot or more. News stories that make this sound like hundreds of thousand of dollars go oversees is nothing but part of an agenda of sensationalizing their stories.

via Concept’ s rebuttal of recent news stories in Ohio – Concept Schools.

This means that the tax-free bonds that Montgomery County is about to issue- are to help pay a foreign investor off. Can I sign up for that deal? And- even more confusing is that according to the article- which is clear as mud- the Industrial Development Authority of the County of Pima, Ariz is issuing them? Huh? Right on their website under the non-profit area it says:


The Industrial Development Authority of the County of Pima (the “Authority”), in conjunction with Wells Fargo Bank, is committed to supporting the development and expansion of the local community by awarding low interest rate loans (“Non-Profit Loan”) to nonprofit organizations in Pima County.

via Pima County Industrial Development Authority.

Is Pima County breaking its own rules?

Why is Mr. Tuss even wasting time on this deal? Is he creating more of his famous “high tech jobs”- to be imported from Turkey? Considering the state has already created a charter high school focusing on STEM- the Dayton Regional STEM school– which just bought and is remodeling the former Value City Department Store on Woodman- where is the essential public need for this school that can’t spel?

Hint for the Montgomery County Commissioners- just vote Know, I mean NO. Otherwise, we’ll have to start digging into this more and find out who is getting paid off for this dumb deal.

I need a breath from all this hard work.

UPDATE- 10:20PM- I took a breath- and then dug a little deeper:

The IDA does not act as a lender but as a “conduit,” allowing a lender to issue tax-free bonds on behalf of the borrower, Russo said. The conduit role earns the IDA fees and brings money to its partner in many projects, the Community Investment Corp.

The IDA receives a $3,000 fee for each successful application, and gets a fee of one-tenth of 1 percent of the principal of each bond issue every year. That money can help the IDA with other programs it runs, such as a nonprofit loan program and a program that helps single-family home buyers, Russo said.

The Community Investment Corp. acts as the administrator of the IDA’s charter-school financing projects. For its services the corporation charges a set-up-fee of $1,000 and an annual fee of $8,000 or $12,000, depending on the size of the bond issue. That money can help the corporation’s charter-school-finance program and other activities, such as investments in local start-ups, said executive director Frank Valenzuela, also a director of the IDA.

via Financing group’s practices questioned.

When you look at the site for “The Community Investment Corp” you find a shell of a site- with pages still under construction- even though this non-profit was set up in 1996. From their “Site”

The Community Investment Corporation (CIC) was founded in 1996 as a non-profit 5O1(c)3 agency to assist small businesses and provide public purpose services. Working in collaboration with other agencies, CIC has provided investment in new and existing businesses for start up and business expansion.

Once again, smoke and mirrors. So what we have is the Montgomery County Commissioners, voting to approve a tax exempt bond issued by a development authority in Tucson AZ that subcontracts to another Tucson non-profit to administer the bond, which is floated by a Wall Street bank (like Wells Fargo) to an Ohio non-profit, for a Chicago based firm, owned by Turks to put a school in Dayton.

And we wonder why the country is about to head into default?



Ohio Smoking ban finally gains teeth

Our legislators are really good at coming up with new laws, regulations and restrictions- without figuring out the costs of enforcement. When the smoking ban went into place it was totally unclear about who would enforce the ban.

As some establishments chose to ignore the ban, thinking fines were just going to be a cost of doing business- the state finally has figured out a way to take that idea out of the equation:

A handful of area businesses owe tens of thousands of dollars in dozens of unpaid fines for smoking violations, which under a new state initiative could put their liquor licenses at risk in the future when they are up for renewal.

In a precedent-setting move, the Ohio Division of Liquor Control this month denied the liquor permit renewal of the Hamilton County business Peg’s Pub, on the grounds that it repeatedly disregarded state law by incurring about 18 fines and failing to pay $55,900 they owed, said Jen House, spokeswoman with the Ohio Department of Health.

Until now, Liquor Control never used smoking-ban violations and unpaid fines as criteria when evaluating renewal requests for liquor licenses.

Although no local businesses owe nearly as much as Peg’s Pub in Evendale did or accumulated as many smoking fines, the Miami Valley Sports Bar in West Carrollton owes $32,000, Webster Station in Dayton owes $27,000, Coyote’s Pub & Grub in Dayton owes $20,100, and the Harem strip club on North Dixie Drive owes $15,000, according to the state health department…

Through March, Public Health — Dayton & Montgomery County had issued 158 smoking violations, worth more than $220,000, to local businesses. Owners have only paid about $16,000, the agency said.

In Montgomery County, at least 10 businesses owe $5,000 or more in fines, according to the state health department….

Bill Wharton, spokesman for Public Health — Dayton & Montgomery County, said his department has issued about $28,000 in fines to Ziggy’s Ritz Night Club and $17,500 to BoJangles Nightclub. He said the fines may be still under review or appeal.

via Smoking fines could shut down local bars.

Considering the ban went in place back in 2007 and we are now just starting to find the way to enforce the law is yet another example that our politicians have hugely been rendered impotent by big money influence. Ohio has already diverted the anti-smoking money from the big tobacco settlement away from its primary mission.

HHS required cigarette package design 3

Coming to your smokes in 2012, new package designs

New packaging to “scare off” smokers will be introduced in 2012- yet the only thing that has proven to reduce smoking has been raising taxes on cigarettes to painful levels.

While libertarian commentators on this site will scream about personal freedom and personal choice, tobacco consumption has huge costs to society. If, in order to purchase and use tobacco, you sign away all rights to any public or group health care, and becoming 100% liable for your own smoking-related illnesses until you die- cigarettes and tobacco users should be taxed to cover their real costs.

Also, since smoke isn’t the same as sticking a needle in your own arm- the locations that are acceptable to partake in the filthy habit, should be restricted to your private property, and nowhere else. I’m tired of walking through a wall of smoke to enter public buildings- and I’m tired of seeing the trash that smokers seem to feel they have the right to generate by discarding their butts at will.

It’s time for Ohio to join New York in putting real teeth into the public smoking ban- and to raise the cost of tobacco to the painful level. We also need to ban the sale of singles- in both cigarettes and cigars, which are straight plays to the poor, who can least afford the health costs.

Taking away liquor licenses for smoking violations should have started years ago- that it’s happening now is a good sign.


Local media doing local TV?

Queen City TV show promo shot

Queen City TV show coming to Cincinnati

With all the horsepower under the Cox Media Center- it’s surprising they haven’t attempted more totally local programming. In the day of media overload, unique, local content is the only competitive advantage they can “own” and really sell.

It’s happening in Cincinnati:

Coming to WXIX-TV (Channel19) this fall is a reality series shot on the hills and in the valleys of the “Queen City,” about four active, young professional women. Fox 19 will officially announce the show later this week, but you can find details here on Facebook.

The weekly series promises to give viewers a look at “life in the Q.C.” through the activities of Tracey Conrad, Katie Cassidy, Lauren Brown and Adhrucia Apana. Shooting started in April; Fox 19 executives gave a green light to the series on Friday. The local production likely will be done with some college students…

via New ‘Queen City’ Show Debuts In July | TV and Media Blog.

We’ve seen how voice tracking and programming from Texas has all but killed local radio (WYSO being the major exception). At one time, Dayton’s CW, Ch 26 was hosting “The Daily Buzz” which was syndicated nationally- meaning you could produce quality original programming locally. We’ve seen enough studio set shows- like Hi-Q and talks on a couch- how about getting out in the community?

There are stories galore- that deserve more than a 2-minute bit on the evening news.

For a while WYSO was doing a local weekly radio journal show with Aileen LeBlanc, but, we’ve yet to see the cameras go out in the community. The most prolific option so far, is Drexel Dave Sparks with his Dayton Informer site. At least one other person gets it here.

Low-budget security system solution

In South Park we’ve had some random problems with delinquents. After my three car break-ins, I started to investigate a video surveillance system. Being a video pro, I realize that garbage in makes garbage out. When I saw the prices for cameras/systems with at least HDTV resolution, infrared night vision I started to have second thoughts.

Spending $800 plus for something that had limited video quality just wasn’t worth it. I’ve got a few neighbors who have systems installed- and so far, the only thing the cameras have caught was me walking across the street with my weedeater- and a rock hitting and shattering his truck’s back window 17 seconds later. I went halves with him on it.

Moultrie Game Spy M-100 camera

Moultrie Game Spy M-100 camera

However, on walks through Woodland Cemetery, we see the cameras they have mounted in the trees- with solar collectors to power  them. Turns out, it runs a 6 megapixel still camera, with infrared night vision, and is on a motion sensor. Designed for hunters to watch game trails, you can even buy a cell service for $30 a month to have it upload to a web server so you can monitor remotely. That system is the Moultrie Game Spy M-100 and runs around $170.

Stealth Cam 8mp camera

Stealth Cam 8mp camera

But looking for other game cameras, I came across an 8mp camera for about half the price. At around $90 the Stealth Cam 8MP Digital Scouting Camera/Video recorder with 36 Infrared Emitters and Audio does about the same thing- for half the price. We would move them around the neighborhood to trouble spots- where we’ve been getting hit with graffiti, break-ins, dumping. The cameras run on batteries- and we only have to monitor the images if something has happened. The 8 mp resolution is much higher than any video surveillance system we can afford in the neighborhood. And the ease of moving these cameras and using them is much more attractive than traditional DVR systems with cameras.

Over the weekend, we had some hooligans trash some of our community gardens, including breaking the spigot off the water buffalo, and on my morning runs, I’m seeing a lot more tagging on the backs of buildings along Wayne.

Since our city can find millions to give to General Electric, but can’t hire more police, it’s time for citizens to become our own security force. If you order any of these systems or have experience with them- being used in the home security realm, please let me know what kind of results you’ve had.

Here are some pictures of what we’ve been experiencing lately in South Park:

  • Moultrie Game Spy M-100 camera
    Moultrie Game Spy M-100 camera
  • Stealth Cam 8mp camera
    Stealth Cam 8mp camera

I want to make money- taxpayers should help pay: Sprawl at the Dille estate

Because a developer wants to build something, does that automatically mean you should pay for it with your tax dollars? George Oberer Jr. has a dream- but he wants the taxpayers to pay for a large part of it:

Wilmington Pike could expand to up to 10 lanes and the bridge at Interstate 675 above the busy street could undergo reconstruction if preliminary plans from Cornerstone Development Inc. advance to the construction phase.

The street expansion would accommodate Cornerstone of Centerville, a 225-acre mixed-use development, which is planned for property formerly owned by the Dille family…

Centerville City Manager Greg Horn said city officials believe the developer’s plan for 10 lanes may be ambitious.

“Long term, we agree there will be interchange improvements as Miami Valley Hospital South (and other local businesses) continue to grow out,” Horn said. “We think there are errors in their (projected traffic) numbers, and we as a staff will continue to work with them.”

George Oberer Jr. of Cornerstone Development said the village center would be a cluster of restaurants, entertainment establishments and boutiques within the complex.

“(The village center) certainly is nothing to compete with The Greene, just a little village of shops,” Oberer said.

Cornerstone Development is in the process of conducting a traffic impact study; the city is conducting an independent review of that study.

The city and developer are hammering out details in preparation for a public presentation Aug. 15 at the Centerville City Council meeting.

Some of the proposed elements include:

  • Expanding Wilmington up to 10 lanes between Whipp Road and I-675.
  • Reconstructing the bridge at Wilmington and I-675 to accommodate those lanes.
  • Widening Feedwire Road.
  • Preserving the north parcel’s perimeter of trees, which City Planner Steve Feverston called an “iconic portion of the site,” and/or various stands of trees throughout the project.
  • Adding two new traffic signals; one on Wilmington and one on Feedwire.
  • Constructing medians on Wilmington and Feedwire, both as a safety measure and to align them aesthetically with the city’s boulevard look.
  • Expanding Clyo Road to five lanes where it borders the south parcel.

via Centerville development could lead to major street expansion.

Without having to prove to the public that this complex is needed (we have 30+% retail space vacancy rate in the Dayton Metropolitan area)- the developer is forcing roadway improvements that you and I have to pay for – and continue to pay for for years. Whom does this benefit?

Let’s create an example: If my neighbor wants to upgrade his home- I’m happy. If my neighbor only will upgrade his home if I agree to upgrade mine, and all my neighbors to upgrade theirs, I don’t think it will fly. Why do developers get to have this kind of sway with politicians- because politicians aren’t spending their money- they are spending ours (and we see how that works out). Also, since politicians depend on donations for their re-election campaigns- they get mighty friendly. Local records aren’t recorded in a unified data base like national donations, but if you want to see what kind of money the Oberer family “invests” in politicians, take a look here at OpenSecrets (the FEC database isn’t connecting right now) http://www.opensecrets.org/indivs/search.php?name=oberer&state=OH&zip=&employ=&cand=&all=Y&sort=N&capcode=cp5rc&submit=Submit

So if you are wondering why Oberer is able to ask for the taxpayers to prop us his “development” with millions of your dollars- you quickly realize it’s just payback for his investment in politicians.

It’s time to end this pay-to-play system of “economic development” – we need to fund elections out of taxpayer dollars to stop this kind of influence peddling and payback.

We don’t need wider roads, more roads or more retail space- even if it will create construction jobs for a few years. After this boondoggle is built- we’ll see more vacancies at the Mall at Fairfield Commons and the Dayton Mall, then we will see those businesses ask for tax breaks- and the cycle continues.

Economic development isn’t created by construction- investment follows quality of life. Good schools, safe neighborhoods, and a level playing field do wonders to lure people to invest. Adding taxes to support political supporters is a losing strategy. We should know, we’ve been doing it for years in Dayton.

Dayton gets to rehire firefighter after losing lawsuit on drug testing

We can’t hire new firefighters because of the Department of Justice lawsuit, and are “browning out equipment” because we are paying too much in overtime due to the shortage.

Now we get to hire back a firefighter dismissed over three years ago for a second positive drug test for cocaine because the city attorney didn’t know whom to subpoena in the appeal.

Ronald Royse was a 14-year veteran firefighter when he failed a random drug test for cocaine on May 14, 2007. He went through mandated treatment and then would be subject to additional urine tests as a condition of continued employment. He passed two random tests after his return to work, but on November 16, 2007,  he failed the test and was terminated.

Expensive lawsuits ensued, with the question being the validity of the evidence of the second test. Basic rules of evidence require that for it not to be called “hearsay” certain guidelines and chain of custody requirements must be met. The firms that handle the drug tests should have been called as witnesses to explain the procedure, but an incompetent city attorney instead asked city employees to testify about a process that they were unable to properly document and explain.

The City of Dayton’s only two witnesses at the hearing before the Board were Ken Thomas and Maurice Evans. Ken Thomas is the Safety Administrator for the City of Dayton. He testified that he has never been to ATN’s laboratories and has never observed their testing process. He did not exhibit sufficient knowledge of ATN’s actual testing procedures or internal recordkeeping. Further, he testified that the medical review officer does not perform any tests on the urine samples, but instead reviews the results of the testing performed by ATN.

{¶ 29} Maurice Evans is the City of Dayton’s designated employer representative. He testified regarding his familiarity with the process used in collecting urine samples for drug tests. But he does not test the urine samples and relies on others to provide those test results.

{¶ 30} In short, there is no evidence of record demonstrating that the documentary evidence of positive test results and the ultimate conclusions reached therefrom were trustworthy. This  is the very type of evidence that the requirement of authentication in Evid.R. 901(A) was meant to preclude from consideration. Without testimony from a witness that could testify, based on personal knowledge, regarding the testing procedures and internal recordkeeping of ATN and ASTS, the Board and trial court should not have relied on the positive test results. Therefore, the trial court erred in finding

Today, the Ohio Supreme Court Montgeomery County Court of Appeals granted Ron Royse back his job in a 2-1 decision with Judges P.J. Grady and J. Fain agreeing and J.Hall dissenting, based on the poor legal work by City Hall. His case will be sent back to Judge Gorman who will probably take his her time in enforcing the return and setting the payout- which will be for what Royse would have made, including average overtime over the period of his dismissal- as well as legal fees and damages. So, the citizens will be paying for a firefighter who wasn’t working- and won’t work again until Judge Gorman rules.

Now you know part of the reason Dayton is broke.

You can read the entire PDF of the Ohio Supreme Court Montgeomery County Court of Appeals decision here: http://www.supremecourt.ohio.gov/rod/docs/pdf/2/2011/2011-ohio-3509.pdf

note: when I made some errors in the original post- this may go on for another several years, with an appeal to the supreme court. In the meantime, we still need all the firefighters we can get. Maybe the City should be smart- put him back to work and continue drug testing while the court case continues on, just for expediency.

Tony Tipps, former BOE worker, busted for meth

Last year, esrati.com broke the story about the firing of Tony Tipps from the Board of Elections. Now, Tipps, son of former Ohio Democratic Party Chairman Paul Tipps, and now a lobbyist, has been arrested for possession and trafficking in meth according to “Peak of Ohio” and the Bellfontaine Examiner.

Tony Tipps, son of Paul Tipps

Tony Tipps having a Mel Gibson moment

The Ohio Investigative Unit made three drug-related arrests early Saturday morning during a music festival at Zane Shawnee Caverns, 7092 State Route 540, Bellefontaine.

Robert Allton, 24, and James Davis, 29, both of Columbus, and Anthony Tipps (pictured right), 52, of Dayton, were each charged with felony counts of possession of drugs and drug trafficking in methamphetamine.

via Three arrested on drug charges at Zane Shawnee Caverns festival | Peak of Ohio.

Tipps is one of the subjects being investigated by the Montgomery County Sheriff for sending out the letter that accuses the directors of screwing up the provisional ballots in the 2006 election. That the BOE might have done something wrong is not the focus of the investigation, and undoubtedly, Tipps’ arrest will make it even easier for them to pass the buck.

Considering that the BOE also has hired an employee’s family member convicted of rape, and now this, someone would think that it’s time to clean house at the BOE and start fresh. These aren’t the kind of people we want running our elections- are they?

Tipps had his job at the BOE for at least ten years, thanks to his father’s powerful connections in the Democratic party. His father is called a close confidant of Senator John Glenn and he sits on the board of John Glenn School of Public Policy. Is this the only qualification needed to get a job at the BOE- connections?

Obviously, when left to fend for himself without daddy’s help- we get a different skill set.

It will be interesting to see if the three accused dealers get similar sentences, or if Tipps Sr. manages to use his connections to once again help his kid out.

Choice: American as apple pie, unless we’re talking politics

America talks about spreading “democracy” across the globe- but, I believe we need to reexamine what passes for “democracy” in this country. We talk about the right to choose who leads, who makes our laws and our “certain inalienable rights” that grant us the right to have choices- unless of course, it’s to have an abortion, marry someone of the same sex, or have more than two choices when going to the polls.

Yet, when it comes to our consumption economy- we’re overwhelmed with choices. The modern supermarket shelves offer us endless options- even under the same brand name. I get more choices in types of dryer sheets than I do in political thought in our country- and, the price tag on choosing between the two proffered brands has become obscene. We spend around $5 billion dollars (or more as this evolves) every two years to pick between two indistinguishable candidates? Trust me- with that kind of budget Procter & Gamble gives us hundreds of clearly distinguished brands- and all of them come with a modicum of a guarantee- something strangely missing from the American political model. Term limits have been a knee-jerk reaction to politics as a profession- but why should we be forced to part with a product we might love- if one ever managed to make it up from the primordial muck our system has “evolved” to? We’d have to throw our one beloved product out? What good is that?

Back in 1962 John F. Kennedy introduced a “Consumer Bill of Rights”- of course, our chosen brand of president got term limited by a gun, which totally screwed up the carefully planned process. It’s also sad that in a country with over 300 million people, the guy JFK beat came back to win later- only to resign in disgrace. To think that the best this system can do is give us only two choices (and that if we have to recycle the ones at the top until they win or go away) is just obscene.

Conscious Consumers Bill of Rights

Click on image to download large PDF

JFK’s proposed CBoR has recently been resurrected by an ad man who seems to have gone rogue from the business of selling high fructose corn syrup and fast food to the obese and bad operating systems to the masses. Alex Bogusky is trying to redefine the consumption economy with a sustainable, sound and reasoned process. Sort of like a physicist searching for the “grand unification theory” or the early alchemists trying to turn garbage into gold, Bogusky’s new mission is a work in process, evolving- but he has begun with a new “Conscious CBoR”- and the third maxim is:

The right to choose–to be assured access to a variety of products and services at competitive prices (as long as those prices do not come at the exploitation of others); and in those industries in which competition is not workable and Government regulation is substituted, an assurance of satisfactory quality and service at fair prices.

via The New Conscious Consumer Bill of Rights – alexbogusky’s posterous.

Note, the place where competition is least working these days is in politics- and the regulators (voters) almost seem like inconsequential minions in a process now ruled by big money and big media.

Something needs to change. Sooner than later.

Here is my presentation from Pecha Kucha Dayton #7, on June 30, 2011, offering choices to change the way we choose our leaders. The room was dark, hot and crowded. The video is less than professional- and the presentation unrefined. For those of you not familiar with Pecha Kucha (or PK for those who don’t want to massacre the Japanese) check out the Pecha-Kucha site, the format is 20 slides, 20 seconds each- and that’s about it.



Hand marking an instant runoff ballot

Instant runoff ballot allows voters to rank candidates

Instant runoff voting was invented by an American architect in 1871 and is in use worldwide. While it may sound complex, with computer vote tallying it becomes quite simple. With a list of candidates to rank, voters can give their vote to the person or party they feel most aligned with, knowing that if their candidate doesn’t get enough of the vote, their second or third choice still has a chance. The system gives opportunities for other parties to have a chance to form, grow and gain traction. Voters don’t have to feel as if they are voting against a candidate or making a choice between the lesser of two evils. The common complaint is that too many candidates can make voting difficult (the so called “Jungle Primary” is used in California- yet it’s proven that voters end up choosing respectable candidates over the superficial ones). This is a country that has no problems ranking and following over 40 NASCAR drivers and accepts the arcane BCS college bowl system to choose a national champion- our voters aren’t incapable of picking from a large field.

Public financing of elections is the key second part of this overhaul. We currently have a system that favors incumbency by a wide margin- mostly because access to campaign cash is easy for those in power, and because the ability to get easy free media coverage is denied opposition candidates. If you ever found it odd that you get a “newsletter from your congressmen” most frequently just before election season- and note that the mail is “franked” (free postage to members of congress) you are just scraping the surface of the uneven playing field we’ve created.

Our presidents serve for four years, but we can only expect work in the first two years of the first term, and the real president to emerge in the second half of the second term because the rest of the time, he’s busy raising money for his re-election or trying to influence congressional elections.

With public financing, politicians can no longer accept any donations, bribes or gifts. Campaigns are given equal media time, equal opportunities to present their case and we remove all opportunities for special interests to buy influence- giving the voters back the power to choose their leadership. Senator Dick Durbin has proposed a “Fair Elections Now” act that forces small dollar donations from voters to leverage into vouchers to run campaigns more like what we’re used to, however, it is possible to totally take money out of politics if we want.

Our current single day election system is easily influenced by bad weather. Elderly voters who have proven to be the one segment of our pathetically small voter base (only 79% of eligible voters are registered, and of those, many are infrequent voters) that reliably votes- can end up staying home in adverse weather. We have no provisions for weather calamities- such as major snow or wind storms, to provide for alternative voting days.

What a combined voter guide, ballot publication would look like

The voter guide/ballot would be mailed to every registered voter

Voting by mail changes all this- giving voters the opportunity to spend time analyzing, researching and deciding without pressure of a single election day, or worrying about being confronted at the polls by opposition or last-minute attack ads. Sending every registered voter a publication with equal space for all candidates as well as a ballot to be mailed can help change the way campaigns have devolved to last-minute cage fights and unfounded “swift boating” attacks. Candidates can have complete control over their websites, where they can say anything they want- but in the voter guide- candidates must only present their positions, qualifications and put their promises in writing.

The last part of the proposed reform package is to limit actual campaigning, debates and media to the six weeks before elections. The idea that congressmen spend half of each two-year term campaigning is a colossal waste of resources- and our current political ad barrage in the critical fourth quarter of the year makes it hard for commercial interests to buy media and advertise in the critical holiday buying season. Many have proposed that “election day” be moved to the Fourth of July- to give some additional significance to the celebration of the day that we declared our intent to overthrow the government and to celebrate our democracy.

In a country where our “rights” are broadly discussed, the right to choose our leadership has sadly not made it to the top of any list of debate. If we truly want “Change we can believe in” as our last successful presidential candidate promised, we need a system for choosing candidates that we can believe in.

Right now, we have one that gives us the best politicians money can buy, and they come with no guarantee of performance. By transforming our electoral system from an auction to a fair market, we may start to get a democracy that works.