The size of the pie. Winners and losers

Last nights post had some interesting offline feedback.

The most insightful came from a friend who used to work in the “economic development” field in the region- who left about 5 years ago. He’s now working in the Research Triangle (and not for LexisNexis) and says they don’t have the unbelievable asset of Wright Patt- but have totally eclipsed Dayton in leveraging their intellectual capital. And then- he said why (and I’m paraphrasing and tightening it up){

“Dayton has too many people who say they want growth, but don’t want to give up any power. They then become more interested in enriching themselves, and instead of growing the region, have actually caused negative growth.”

Dayton Pie Sharing 101Another explained it this way. Daytonians think of the wealth as a pie- and they are all trying to get a bigger slice- denying others so they can have more. Other communities try to figure out how to either grow the pie- or bake more.

Someone else who was on more committees and boards of directors than humanly possible said “Interesting piece that was long overdue. There was a period when I was in too many committees.”

Back in John Patterson’s day- the ruling local class were in government- no one had struck it big yet in Dayton. Patterson decided to try to take the power away from the elected officials and instead put it in the hands of professional management- and thus the city manager form of government was formed.

But- Patterson never envisioned 30 jurisdictions in the pie tin that is Montgomery County- in his day- there was one. Also- his version allowed the business elite to guide the professional manager in the backrooms- through what became known as “the All-American Committee” who actually used to pick the candidates. This was when Dayton was still a powerhouse city- with NCR, Mead, Standard Register, General Motors, Delco and all the spin-off support firms. Now everyone of them is gone- and *News Flash* LexisNexis won’t be much of anything in a few more years. They’ve transitioned all their hosting too the cloud- and even the servers that were here are being decommissioned. All that will remain is tele-sales and support. The creative brains will be in the Triangle.

So now, we’re left with the 28 or so banana republics each with their own little dictators. Each responsible for tiny islands, with lots of duplicative services. There are no more big “sugar daddies” to support them, so taxes keep rising, services keep declining and the region falls further behind competitively. But, it’s not just Dayton- I just read that Ohio is number 6 at losing population to other states. We’ve got a stupid system of subdivisions that’s destroying our competitiveness. We’re also very accepting of mediocrity in leadership.

The post last night- about the quasi-governmental non-profits that are filled with well-meaning folks who think that if we just drink enough of their flavor of kool-aide, we’ll somehow resurrect our grandeur of times past. Some think back to the Wright Brothers and want to erect a giant plane on a stick at the intersection of I70 and I75 just in time for self-driving vehicles to make paying attention to anything other than our phones when traveling. Others think that distribution is our secret sauce- with the 90 minute market idea- not realizing that Amazon already has distribution figured out. Another group thinks that everything good flows out of the base, another out of our educational institutions, another our cultural, and another our parks and bikeways… and “River Run” and the giant pisher, excuse me, fountain.

The reality is that each of these cake decorating organizations has decided that by paying their directors more than our elected leaders, we’re somehow going to “grow the region” or “Get Midwest” or some other ethereal nebulous definition of success.

When you realize that the head of the Downtown Dayton Partnership with her staff of a dozen- is making more than the City Manager of Kettering, the City Manager of Dayton, the County Administrator- who all have responsibilities exponentially greater, Dayton, we have a problem.

Or when you look at the “Superintendents” of Jefferson Township, Dayton and Trotwood- all failing School Districts- and realize that their sole goal in life is to retire and rehire (like Libbie Lolli) and then go to work for the basically unregulated Montgomery County Educational Service Center like Frank DiPalma and Rusty Clifford and Tom Lasley- and suck at the trough of oodles of tax dollars- when in fact we could have one countywide school district, with one really competent Superintendent, Treasurer, HR Person, Special Ed Specialist, ESL leader etc- and pay them less than any two of these other fools put together and have a lot of extra money to actually spend on teachers and education.

Or the Sheriff- and all the police chiefs of all these different banana republics. It’s as if hiring your own Andy Taylor for Mayberry R.F.D. is a point of pride in Ohio. The police commissioner of NYC has a force of 35,000 under him- and a much higher cost of living- and yet, we could take any three of these “chiefs” and combine their salaries and offer equivalent pay.

Let’s get to the winners and losers. The “winners” are the heads of all these quasi-public non-profit dodges of actual legitimate oversight by elected leadership and accountability for their actions. They make serious money- and contribute next to nothing- except to political campaigns and their own self-service.

Their best friends are “developers” – real estate folks, construction firms, architects, demolition companies, bankers. These folks keep building more shizzle while the population shrinks. Think Mills Morgan, Danis, Shook, Messer, Gunlock, Oberer, Miller Valentine and Steve Rauch.

Their second best friends are the AF Mafia- retired Bird Colonels and up. We find these retirees jobs left and right. You can run a non-profit (into the ground) or a public utility, or lead a task force, or be a university trustee. As long as you help bring defense contractors and contracts to the region, we’ll dote all over you.

And lastly, the political class. We take care of our politicians and make sure they always have a job. It’s how folks become lobbyists, and do the politicians jobs, or end up as employees of a non-profit real estate group buying up buildings for a university going bankrupt, or how money keeps flowing into a certain congressman’s coffers.

The losers are the rest of us.

Coming next- we’re going to start publishing ridiculous pay histories of some of the biggest frauds around.

It’s time to grow the pie and make more. It’s time to cut the crap and get our moneys worth.

The rise of the quasi-public, non-profit slush funds and their outrageous behavior

While President Trump is putting the kibosh on a cost of living adjustment pay raise for federal workers, there are a bunch of people working in “non-profits” doing “quasi-public” work getting paid outrageous salaries with little or no oversight, spending your tax dollars like it’s play money.

The proliferation of these types of organizations in Southwest Ohio has been unchecked, and even when they are intimately connected with devastating losses of public money, like in the case of Wright State, no one is held accountable. The “watchdogs” sit on the sidelines as these foxes not only ravage the hen house, they burn down the farmers house, steal the horses, auction off the farm equipment that they bought from their friends who make large campaign donations, and then spend more tax money to continue to do the same thing without fear of prosecution, prison time, personal accountability or even a slap on the wrist.

Need an example to get you started?

thumbnail of Plante Moran Report reduced size

Plante Moran Audit report- click to download PDF

From the Plante Moran Audit of Wright State University. This was a $300K study done to try to figure out who profited from the H1B visa scandal and how Wright State went from fiscally sound in 2010 to broke by 2016.

PG 90 Check #3957 for $150,000

Was supposed to go to Global Impact Stem Academy– a charter STEM school in Springfield- however, the auditor found out the check was instead made out to “Midwest Clinical” by hand. Apparently, this was payoff to terminate an acquisition deal that was supposed to be for $2M. Why Wright State Applied Research Corporation (WSARC), headed by Dennis Andresh was trying to buy a company that according to Midwest’s website:

“test and develop new medication therapies for psychiatric conditions. The clinical trials we conduct at our outpatient and inpatient sites provide data for the effectiveness and safety of new medications for the treatment of Depression, Schizophrenia, Bipolar disorder, and more.”

Source: Midwest Clinical Research Center – Evolution Research Group

That’s outside of the area that WSARC claims to play in:

Our work centers on translational projects in areas like:

  • Human Performance
  • Live Virtual Constructive/Medical Training
  • Autonomy & Human Machine Interface
  • Cognitive and Social Sciences

At WSRI, we harness the creativity and scientific ability available throughout Wright State University to provide our commercial and government partners a mechanism for collaborating on open, proprietary, or classified projects.

Source: Working With Our Researchers and Faculty | Wright State Research Institute

The letter of intent, signed by Andresh, said the deal was:

$11 Million Dollars ($11 M); discounted by $4 Million Dollars through a recognized gift (provided through a tandem gift agreement or other suitable vehicle) to the WSU Foundation. (emphasis added) The remainder, $7,000,000 will be payable in the following:

$3,000,000 in cash at the closing of the asset sale;

50% of the net income from operations within 30 days of the end of year 1 ;

75% of the net income from operations within 30 days of the end of each of years 2 and 3

The remaining balance of the $7,000,000 within 30 days of the end of year 4

The $4,000,000 installments payments will bear Interest at an agreed upon rate.

Last I checked, an $11M deal would be something that would have to have approval by a board of trustees. But, no worries, the next thing you know- the deal is terminated.

“it was decided that WSARC no longer wanted to purchase the assets of Midwest Clinical. Based on interviews with the CFO, this decision was the result of the $9 million increase in purchase price due to a valuation that was allegedly performed.”

Sorry, we were off by almost double. No deal.

Next thing you know, the university, represented by Sebally Shillito and Dyer, has paid Midwest Clinical $150K as a “termination fee”

WSARC represented not to have the valuation documentation onsite because they were required to return it or destroy per a nondisclosure agreement (“NOA”) entered into ahead of the potential transaction.

The key here- Sebally Shillito & Dyer named partner, Bev Shillito, was on the Board of Trustees of WSARC ATIC at the time, and profiting from legal bills in the amount of $17,405 for legal work- to blow $150K on a deal that not only is missing proper records, the check that was used to pay the bill was recorded improperly. She’s also on the Board of ATIC which, despite being a totally separate 501C3 filing a separate 990- also- paid her firm $17,405. Now, are these separate organizations- or all the same? Or did she just send bills out to all the organizations she was on the boards of for the same amount? ATIC and WSARC had the following people on both boards: David Hopkins, Dennis Andresh, S. Narayan, Jeff Hoagland. The Dayton Development Coalition board had the following cross pollination with ATIC: David Hopkins, John Landess, Michael Bridges, Jeff Hoagland and Al Wofford was on WSARC. Bridges was a WSU Trustee, and future WSU Trustee Doug Fecher was on the DDC board. The DDC’s sub-non-profit Development Research Group has Fecher, Landess, Hoagland, and Rich Marseca who is the secretary of WSARC. The DDC’s other sub-non-profit- Development Projects Inc has Fecher, Landess, Hoagland, Maresca. As you can see- it’s a veritable web of interlocking directorates.

This isn’t the first time Bev Shillito has driven public money into her pockets and played politics. She’s a part owner of Real Art, and they did most of the work for the Dayton Development Coalition of which she was on the board at the time. Sometimes the work came to Real Art from Congressman Turner’s first wife’s firm- “Turner Marketing” or “Turner Effect” which was well documented on this blog. The campaign “Get Midwest” was not only bad, but costly- sort of foreshadowing of what was to come at Wright State.

Nice money if you can get it. The interesting part of the agreement, that proves that all these non-profits are nothing but a shell game, is that Andresh in his Letter of Intent is making assertions of $4M being credited through the Foundation- an organization that is supposed to be separate.

Despite there being rules in place to supposedly expose and limit interlocking directorates and self-dealing, there is no legal authority that is charged or responsible for enforcing them.

Hundreds of millions of your tax dollars are being funneled away from providing fundamental basic services which are constantly being cut, to be used to create private retirement plans for retired government employees, be they public school superintendents, high-ranking military officials, former politicians or lobbyists, all in the name of the nebulously famous terms “economic development” and or “job creation.”

Why WSARC was buying a drug research company was never disclosed. We don’t really know what WSARC is supposed to be doing, because, well, despite all of its funding coming from WSU, and its employees being paid by WSU- somehow, they claim WSARC is exempt from the Public Records laws. Dr. Bernadette D’Souza, the owner of Midwest Clinical,  is yet another retired Air Force officer finding their way to the quasi-government non-profit feeding trough.

The only job creation and economic development going on, is their personal enrichment by privatizing what should be public service operations under the cover of a tax structure created for charity- the 501(c)(3) organization.

And, the money is good. Hugh Bolton, another retired Air Force academy grad, and the head of the now defunct ATIC was paid $429,956 according to the 2011 form 990. Just for comparison- that’s more than the President of the United States makes by $30K. Bolton. Around the same time that Andresh was contemplating buying Midwest Clinical, he also chose to sign an operating agreement for ATIC bringing all their employees into WSARC.

Here’s what the PM audit said about this deal:

We identified that, despite being a “struggling organization”, ATIC had paid its CEO significant bonuses in addition to a high level salary. Per the Form 990s, Hugh Bolton received the following compensation:
• 2011: Base compensation of $249,314, bonus and incentive compensation of $72,644 and retirement and deferred compensation of $107,998, with total compensation for the year of $429,956.
• 2012: Base compensation of $242,611 and bonuses of $237,572, with total compensation for the year of $480,233.
• 2013: Base compensation of $205,416, with compensation total compensation for the year of $205,416.
Our analysis of ATlC’s disbursements also identified related party payments made by ATIC.
These payments are as follows:
• From 2011 to 2014, ATIC paid over $140,000 to Sebaly, Shillito, & Dyer, a law firm at which Beverly Shillito is a Partner. Beverely Shillito was also identified to be ATIC’s Secretary.

So once again, a “trustee” is making money and public money is being used like monopoly money. There will be more articles coming about ATIC, outlining how Mills Morgan, the company that built the building had no problems selling part of the building to  ATIC, but, somehow, when the building was sold as part of a package for $17M– WSU got stiffed for $1.3M thanks to a questionable deal  they entered into in December of 2016.

Mar 12, 2014

To cut costs, ATIC recently purchased 26,000 square feet of 2685 Hibiscus Way in Beavercreek — for $4.78 million from Mills Morgan. ATIC now owns all 38,000 square feet of the building it occupies.

“It provides us monthly savings that we can invest in new programs and continue to grow,” Bolton said.

The rest of the building is still owned by Mills Morgan and leased to other organizations.

Source: Advanced Technical Intelligence Center close to merger with Advanced Virtual Engineer Test Cell in Springfield. – Dayton Business Journal

thumbnail of WSU finreport2017draftFrom the WSU Annual report- issued Nov 16, 2017
pg 77

WSARC issued a note receivable to Advanced Technical Intelligence Center for Human Capital Development (ATIC) on December 1, 2016, for $1,404,119. The note is secured by a fourth mortgage interest in real property owned by ATIC (property) located in Greene County, Ohio. The note bears interest at a per annum rate of 1.29%. Monthly installment payments of $2,500 are due until the earlier of December 31, 2021, or the date ATIC sells the property, at which time the entire then-remaining principal balance and accrued and unpaid interest are due in full.

More will be coming on how Bob Mills- who built a basketball practice facility for WSU- somehow keeps coming up on the sweet side of smelly deals involving the WSU shell company Double Bowler Properties Group, Wright Patt Credit Union, headed by WSU Board of Trustees president Douglas Fecher, and the seemingly teflon coated WSU econ professor, Robert Sweeney who is also on the board of trustees for WPCU, and served as the Secretary to the WSU board of Trustees through the whole money loss. Sweeney also shows up on other boards- including the Miami Valley Research Foundation (2015-2016) where WSARC did another odd deal for real estate- normally the purview of Double Bowler Properties.

From the Annual report pg 77

On June 26, 2015, WSARC converted a $300,000 note receivable from the Miami Valley Research Foundation into an option to purchase a proportionate share of approximately 125 acres of land located in Greene County, Ohio. The option expires on June 9, 2019. If the option is not exercised, the $300,000 consideration paid will be returned to WSARC.

By offloading public money into these shell companies, which make claims of doing things that government “isn’t really set up to do” we create vessels for public money to flow into private hands outside of the purview of public scrutiny offered by the “Sunshine Laws” which were created to keep back room dealing out in daylight. Ever since their passage in the mid-1950’s in Ohio, the schemes to circumvent these laws have grown in complexity and number, with many of these operations setting up multiple “non-profit corporations” to effectively shuffle money between themselves, mostly with the same people in charge, but different books so that tracing the flow of money is nearly impossible.

Now everything from charities to make sure that poor folks have nice clothes to show up for job interviews, to the creation of top-secret secured buildings for top-secret programs, are funded via these inherently private slush funds that often benefit their benefactors more than the people they are out to “help” through their “good deeds.”

From “non-profit” hospitals that shut down in poor communities whilst building empires in wealthy ones, to totally tax funded health care companies having their own “charitable foundations”   where employees are forced to donate to, in almost every case a “favored son or daughter” of the community is put in charge, paid a six-figure salary ($200K yr) to “administer” charity. This is a long way from the model of charity established by folks like Mother Theresa. For the most part this is a tax-dodgers playground for the ultra-rich to make sure the machine is well oiled at funneling public money back into their private accounts, so the money machines keep running.

We’ll be looking at how much running some of these non-profits pay their chief executive officers in a future post- along with their interlocking directorates.

If Blockchain and Bitcoin are the new ways to move wealth outside of government eyes, these quasi-public non-profits are the old way.

And with the Supreme Court ruling in Citizens United where “corporations are people too” allows private corporations to fund campaigns for public office, we have crafted whole new ways to corrupt the democratic process with huge amounts of untraceable campaign cash to support those who allocate our tax dollars.

Journalists are always given the first rule of reporting- “follow the money” and in most case it leads the story to the inevitable discovery that people are still cursed with greed as a primary motivator- and what better pot of money to go after than “government money” since in the end- with the Federal Reserve system not being tied to anything like “inventory” or “tangible” assets- the types of things the rest of us have to have in order to borrow or make money, the fed is a virtual slot machine made for those who control the programming.

Yet, when a “Non-profit” WSARC enters into deals under Dennis Andresh, people get incredible deals:

Pg 50 of the Plante Moran audit:

In addition to the Maric Management fees, Advratech also loaned $50,000 to Maric Management during 2014. Per Advratech’s check register, the loan was made in September 2014. Advratech reported interest income of $3.85 for the year ended December 31, 2014 and $167.29 for the six months ended June 30, 2015. The balance of the note receivable for the loan remained at $50,000 as of June 30, 2015. While the information provided did not contain details regarding the terms of the loan, the annual interest rate for the loan calculates to less than 0.7% based on six months interest income of $167.29 on $50,000. Shareholders of Advratech may find it concerning that nearly interest free loans to a related entity are being made at a time when minimal/zero distributions are being made to the investors.

This was around the same time that WPCU CEO Doug Fecher joined the board of trustees. He had just completed his deal to sell Double Bowler Properties his old HQ, and move into a Mills Morgan building. It’s funny- but, I just contacted WPCU for a $50K loan backed by my office building and was told that there is $3K in origination fees and at least 6% interest. Must be that I’m not paying off the “Wright” people.

Our monetary system isn’t measured in millions or billions, it’s in trillions, making it easy for rounding error in deals enough to make some people very wealthy. It’s the ultimate confidence game- and there are entire industries built around crafting their own playgrounds with their own regulations so they can cash out their piece of the pie. If you don’t realize that FIRE- Finance, Insurance and Real Estate, all are huge contributors to political campaigns, and that they have their own rules and regulations passed to keep their ability to extort money at every turn, you’ve been asleep for the last decade.

Locally we’ve seen our economy move from a manufacturing base where we made real things like cash registers, paper products, refrigerators and pickup trucks to now being dependent on “Meds, Eds and Feds” – (Medical, Educational and Federal) which unfortunately don’t pay taxes for the basic services required to keep firemen and police on call, trash picked up, clean water delivered to your tap and streets that are well maintained and smooth.

And in that mad rush to keep those Meds, Eds and Feds happy- we’ve sold out the general public and their bank accounts to create an army of “non-profit” middle men who’ve been robbing us blind for years and telling us we’re making progress.

Wright State is on the verge of financial collapse because of it, yet not a single person has been brought up on charges, and the same people running the show as it crashed into the ground are still the ones in charge and being trusted, to fix it.

The foxes (the Wright State Board of Trustees) are now crafting a revisionist history of how they saved the institution and its many shady shell corporations that they created, profited from and continue to profit from because nobody will call them out.

This must stop.

That they had an hour meeting with Dennis Andresh on Dec 13, 2018- where he was proudly explaining how he’d now put a bunch of controls on his out of control organizations clearly proves that WSARC is clearly a part of WSU and not a separate organization. And instead of congratulating Andresh, they should have fired him long ago, and held him accountable for the giant sucking sound of money leaving WSU to his little side business/shitshow that’s still of questionable value to anyone but someone running a shell game. Listen to the interview I did with General C. D. Moore off camera after the meeting- the last 5 minutes, to hear him admit that in 2014 the WSU board wasn’t doing its job.

The only watchdog that can be trusted to do this, unfortunately, is publicly supported journalists, (or even unpublicly supported like me) who should be technically unbiased by the power and influence of these huge dollar institutions. Unfortunately, the local newspaper is on life support as more advertising dollars have been siphoned off by Facebook and Google (technically- Alphabet, Google’s parent company). If you look at the money expended by the two major health networks for advertising with CoxOhio- and then realize that being the sole recipient of public money as the journal of public record, and throw in diminished subscription income as the newspapers value has reduced as its usefulness is marginalized, and you have the perfect storm for unbridled theft and cursory investigation into what really happened at Wright State and how it came to be.

And, as we’ll dive into it over the next days and months, you’ll see how the few scapegoats that have been blamed were barely pawns in a game of chess that’s more complicated than what even AlphaZero (the current chess playing master computer) could deconstruct.

I trace the beginnings of these quasi-public non-profit slush funds back to as early as the mid-seventies. And while you might know some of them, the rate of proliferation in the last 10 years has been exponential.

Here’s a partial list in no particular order:

  • CityWide
  • Downtown Dayton Partnership
  • Dayton Development Coalition
  • Development Projects Inc
  • Development Research Inc
  • SOCHE
  • DAGSI
  • Wright Brothers Institute
  • Wright State Applied Research Corporation
  • Wright State Research Institute
  • ATIC
  • Wright State Foundation
  • Double Bowler Property Corp
  • GDAHA
  • Miami Valley Research Foundation

To be continued…

The right way to pay for journalism

The Death of the daily newspaper toombstoneMy last post, the video of me returning the weekly ad circulars distributed by CoxOhio created a mini-viral sensation in Dayton, where residents are sick of picking up garbage that someone is getting paid to throw into their yards. Of course, the people at Cox Ohio are sick of trying to replace ad revenue that used to flow into their business like gangbusters. Besides never arguing with someone who buys ink by the barrel, money has always bought power in this country- and publishers of newspapers held a lot of both. The internet has killed the goose that laid their golden eggs.

First came Craigslist- providing free classified ads- decimating their most valuable income source, where they charged by the character count. To reinforce their revenue, they had laws passed requiring local government to publish legal notices in the “newspaper of record.”  When former local politico tried to move the legal ads to the free alternative paper- “The Dayton City Paper” where the classifieds cost substantially less, Cox sued and enforced their monopoly. The Dayton City Paper folded this year- many years later, but, folded just the same.

The Cleveland Plain Dealer just announced that they are getting out of the state, national and world news gathering operations, subcontracting that content to “Advance Local“- an organization owned by “descendents” of the PD’s founder, S.I. Newhouse.

Over the past decade or so, improvements in technology have made it possible for groups of newspapers around the country to pool their resources, especially on pages of national and international news, sports, or features. This concept has been tested industry wide, and has proven to be both efficient and effective. It allows local newsrooms to focus their editing efforts on their local journalism, which means quality can be sustained at lower cost…. and have chosen to contract with Advance Local for production of The Plain Dealer.

The savings this system offers The Plain Dealer will come largely from sharing the cost of editing and designing pages of non-local news, which make up roughly half of our newspaper. In all other ways, The Plain Dealer will remain a local institution. Editorial decision making will remain the responsibility of The Plain Dealer’s editors. Local stories will be selected and copy-edited by veteran journalists based in Cleveland.

We make this decision with some sadness, but with the long-term preservation of The Plain Dealer at heart. This change offers savings where they are least likely to harm the quality of our newspaper. It preserves local editing of local stories. It allows us to focus on the coverage that matters most to our community: in-depth breaking news, investigative journalism, stories that explain issues and events, and coverage that helps people make the most of everything northeast Ohio has to offer.

Source: The Plain Dealer will switch to a centralized production system, but will continue to edit local stories locally | cleveland.com

My father worked at the Plain Dealer for 25 years, and knew Mr. Newhouse. Both would be turning over in their graves right now.

With billionaires buying out the premium news organizations, Amazon’s Jeff Bezo’s owns the Washington Post, biotech billionaire Patrick Soon-Shiong bought the LA Times and  The San Diego Union-Tribune for the bargain basement price of $500M, the consolidation of reporting voices only in the hands of the wealthy, can cause even less diversity of viewpoints. When editorial decisions are purely based on if they will create either a “return on investment” or further a private individuals agenda, we, the people lose.

Independent, honest journalism is absolutely essential to the strength of our democracy. The court of public opinion is often times more powerful than the highest courts decisions. The costs of gathering and reporting real journalism are substantial. Daniel Ellsberg risked everything to deliver to us the Pentagon Papers. The verdict has yet to be decided on Jullian Assange, who is still holed up in the Ecuadoran Embassy in London.

We can’t afford to lose real journalism, yet, if you’ve noticed, most of my links are to a free community curated news site- Wikipedia, which relies on volunteers and charity to survive. It is not ad supported. It struggles to survive despite the huge volunteer labor pool. Also note, that the articles, including the one about me, are closely curated to link to established, trusted sources. Mine comes with a disclaimer at the top, because I’m not important enough and it’s format doesn’t match their strict guidelines.

Donations are no way to run a business. We desperately need a new model to generate revenue for news media, which is where our congressmen could step in, if any of them were actually digitally literate.

The current digital advertising revenue in this country is controlled primarily by Google (Alphabet) and Facebook, who are making old school newspaper money – exponentially. Yet, they are parasites. They create value as aggregators of other peoples content- creating very little of their own. Youtube, a Google property, is making a few people a living as youtubers, but, none of them are becoming billionaires. Facebook keeps all the ad revenue to themselves, yet, newspapers depend on click bait headlines to get people to click to their sites. The data of what we look at, is being used by Facebook and Alphabet to refine their ads effectiveness for their profit. The newspapers came too late to understand this fundamental fact of a digital economy- after their loyal, captive readers had mostly left them.

Amazon may be the wildcard player in this, becoming the worlds largest retailer, it’s hungry for eyeballs as well to generate sales of it’s products. They are home to Amazon Web Services- and provide the digital infrastructure for many publishers. Also giving them access to valuable data on who is looking.

This formula has to change. It’s time to require that legitimate journalism be rewarded for the value they provide society. Google and Facebook need to return a greater proportion of ad revenue generated by local news operations, and the larger global ones as well. It’s the only way that legitimate news will survive. You can’t aggregate content if there isn’t any.

The crazy thing is what the Plain Dealer is doing isn’t the answer. They are still thinking of their content as a “newspaper” with pages produced. There is no legitimate reason to print news and hasn’t been since Nicholas Negroponte wrote the book “Being Digital” (Amazon affiliate link) back in 1995. He said things that are created digitally should remain digital- “Bits not atoms”- the inherent cost of trees for paper, ink for printing, fuel for distribution and everything else involved with the daily distribution of a product that will be obsolete by the time it’s crafted and delivered make perfect sense. But here we are 24 years later, and still using the old model. Handing out cheap tablets would have been infinitely cheaper than the infrastructure required to print and produce the “paper.”

We already see slop in the local rag, with articles often repeated in sections as if one hand didn’t know what the other did. The Dayton Daily news (lowercase “n” intentional) already includes the national news lite edition of USA today. It’s poorly integrated content, because they still don’t understand digital.

Digital news- where your sources are only a search and a click away, or a subscription (you can subscribe to Esrati.com via email or RSS) can offer custom tailored content that you control (instead of having Facebook’s algorithm control your feed) and deliver only ads that you are somewhat interested in (and if you need help advertising effectively in these digital days, you can hire my firm, The Next Wave to maximize your return on advertising investment).

In order for newspapers to survive, we need to kill the paper part, and shift the rewards from the parasites to the producers. If you clicked on the link to “Being Digital” and bought anything from Amazon along with it you contributed a few cents to fund the work I do and a bunch of money to Jeff Bezos, further proving my point.

I still say that the $21 I spend a month on the New York Times digital subscription is the most patriotic thing I can do. The $10 a month I spend on the Dayton Daily news is pure charity – hoping that one day, they may actually realize that we’re actually in the same business and should be working together instead of against each other. C’est la vie.

Sometimes you have to kill your darlings before you can move on.

(congratulations to the two of you who aren’t in journalism who read all the way to the end) Please leave a comment if you read the whole thing as an experiment.

Have you been trashed by the Dayton Daily news?

I’ve been trashed in the paper. I’ve been disrespected by their “journalists” and going back, by their “editorial board” when they used to have one. But, the worst trashing I get from them is the garbage they indiscriminately throw in my yard, on my sidewalk, in the gutter of the street- of their “advertising circulars.”

Considering I pay them to read their dreck in the environmentally friendly but hopelessly useless digital edition on my iPad, you would think when I call nicely and ask them not to toss their trash in my yard, of ads- I already skip when reading their rag (hint to advertisers, there are very few reasons to advertise in newsprint anymore- if you need help with advertising- try my agency).

There is a very long thread on NextDoor.com (membership required to view link) with people discussing ways to stop the littering, including legal action.

So this Christmas, George (my dog) and I decided to take an Ikea bag and fill it with their trash and share the season with the folks at Cox- in their HQ on S. Main Street.

Watch and enjoy- and share as much as possible.

UPDATE

9:30 pm Apparently some entire neighborhoods have been able to opt out. Just have your neighborhood association send a letter to [email protected] The letter has to be on the neighborhood assn letterhead. She needs a list of all the streets in your neighborhood and voila. This is how Twin Towers opted out- after they took over 100lbs of trash and dumped it in the DDN Lobby!


Vandalia banned “unsolicited advertising” being distributed by restricting where it could be placed.
Here’s their video- TOTH to Rich Hopkins
And here’s our new years video to them-

Here’s a copy of their letter.thumbnail of DDN Letter from Twin Towers
And here is the Vandalia ordinance banning unsolicited advertising.

thumbnail of Vandalia ordinance against litter 08-20-2018

The 28th Amendment we need. The government shutdown clause

Merry Christmas, here we are again, with a government shutdown. A whole bunch of Americans are supposed to report for work, even though they won’t get paid, at least until congress does their job.

This has to stop.

28th amendment graphicBeing elected in America needs to have some kind of checks and balances- and it’s pretty clear, elections aren’t what they used to be as a check and balance, because we have the best politicians money can buy.

So, next time they fail at keeping the government running, instead of going home and enjoying themselves while TSA agents, air traffic controllers, the FBI, the military, all go on working while they don’t, how about the 28th amendment kick in- and I’m not talking about the one that keeps showing up on the internet about Warren Buffett proposed a constitutional amendment that seeks to require laws apply equally to U.S. citizens and members of Congress.”

There are plenty of other proposed 28th Amendments if you do a search, but, to illustrate this article I just picked the coolest poster out there that I could find.

Here’s the Esrati version: The 28th Amendment to the United States Constitution

If the elected members of federal office fail to keep the government operating, they are immediately fired, and the person who last ran against them and came in 2nd, takes their place. They are then banned from ever holding public office again, and all benefits, including pensions, social security, medicare, etc. – the things that they held hostage for their lack of compromise, are stripped from them.

Any money left in their campaign fund, is turned into the federal government to help reduce the deficit.

If the shutdown happens while they are in lame duck session, and they were not due to return, these rules apply:

  • If a member of their own party won, by beating them in the primary and being elected, they may ascend to office.
  • If they didn’t run and a member of their own party was elected, it goes to the person who had the second most votes.

Any supreme court nominations that took place during the last 2 years, will be nullified and the new president and congress will choose the replacements.

This should end this nonsense of government shutdowns once and for all.

Now, the question is, are we better off with President Hilary Clinton, and Jim Renaci and Ted Strickland for senators, and Theresa Gasper as our Congresswoman?

Say goodbye to Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh too.

It may seem drastic, but, with those kinds of penalties, the insanity would stop.

 

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