The Dayton Daily news voters guide to Dayton City Commission race 2019

You can go to my opponents websites and look, but you won’t find meaningful content.

I’m not suggesting that the Dayton Daily news voters guide is the best way to choose your candidates either, since the questions and the allotted word counts were very odd in my opinion, but, as my Facebook friends know, I promised to post my answers after the deadline and before the Dayton Daily News got around to putting the guide up. Link: http://vote.daytondailynews.com/build.do

Of course, I wrote a little more on some questions and a little less on others- and of course, had links to important references (which broke their software) and so I’m posting here:

My other websites:

Experience Small business owner, veteran, community activist, neighborhood president, founder of South Park Social Capital, Dayton Business Journal 40 under 40, citizen journalist publishing esrati.com since 2005. Renovated 5 buildings in Historic South Park; have been a leader of the neighborhood renaissance over the last 25 years. Owner of The Next Wave, an award-winning advertising agency. 5-gallon blood donor. Big brother for 28 years. 3 term elected precinct captain to a party that doesn’t like me.

Education Wright State University, BSB Business 1988. US Army, Communications, Airborne, served with 7th and 11th Special Forces Groups.

What are the most pressing issues facing the city, and what will you do to address them?

Dayton, as a region, has too many governments, elections, elected offices and overhead. Duplication of services is putting the region at a competitive disadvantage. I’ve begun research on the cost per person of having 29 jurisdictions and posting the data at www.reconstructingdayton.org  Reconstructing Dayton is a 501(c)(4) non-profit dedicated to analyzing the organizational structures of government, and working to help elect representatives of the people who are committed to smaller, smarter, more efficient government.

Just the crazy number of different incomes taxes in Montgomery County makes life difficult for small businesses. This has to be re-examined. The city has also been involved in picking winners and losers in their support of development. It’s not fair for businesses like Lily’s Bistro, Blind Bobs, Corner Kitchen, Roost, The Oregon Express etc, to have to compete with a business like the Troll Pub that was given their building for $10 and had Garden Station thrown in for free. I plan to implement what I call “Equal Opportunity Economic Development®” that makes sure that all businesses are treated equally.

Over the last 5 years, I’ve hung over 500 free green basketball nets, all over the city. That campaign goaded the city into investing over a million dollars on our playgrounds, but, it’s not enough. Our kids need more opportunities to be engaged in adult led activities. We need a whole new focus on keeping our kids out of trouble and giving them opportunities to succeed. I have a plan for an entirely new approach to youth sports and activities in coordination with the schools.

And, lastly and most importantly, no one should see the property value of their home go down, or stagnate because of a lack of faith in the future of their neighborhood. I plan on bringing the same strategies we’ve used successfully in South Park over my last 33 years here to the entire city. Most importantly, we have to stop raising taxes on folks for fixing up their properties, and make sure that everyone has affordable safe housing that is a secure and stable investment. New approaches to tax incentive districts, economic opportunity zones, homestead exemptions are all part of the solution.

If you are an incumbent, why should you stay in office? What are your accomplishments? If you are not an incumbent, why should you be elected to city commission?

People either love me or hate me. It’s pretty been that way my entire life. I don’t really care if you like me, but I do care about my integrity. It’s the one thing that’s non-negotiable. I’ve fought the city over stupid historic zoning rules, secret illegal meetings, and the open meetings laws. I believe that “Democracies die behind closed doors . . . When government begins closing doors, it selectively controls information rightfully belonging to the people. Selective information is misinformation.” I found this quote in my research for my battle with the school board and city over the closed-door school closing task force that chose to close Valerie Elementary School, one of our top preforming schools.  Patrick Henry said “The liberties of a people never were, nor ever will be, secure, when rulers may be concealed from them… [T}o cover with the veil of secrecy the common routines of business, is an abomination in the eyes of every intelligent man.”  Yet, the current Mayor and Commission routinely have a second meeting each week in violation of the city charter which specifically calls for a single meeting each week to manage the business of the city.

I believe there are more efficient ways for our commission to operate, in the way that John Patterson intended them to- as a board of directors to a professional city manager who is to lead the city. I plan on seeing the staff and the city manager present much clearer metrics of their success each week at the commission meeting. I think the citizens will be amazed at the difference when everything is conducted in the open.

What will you do to improve life in Dayton’s neighborhoods outside of downtown?

I promise to make sure that your biggest investment, your home, increases in value. In the 33 years I’ve been involved in the South Park neighborhood, I’ve seen my house increase in value by over 15x. When I moved to South Park and bought my house for $14,500, you could have bought any house on my street for that. Now, we’ve had homes sell for $240K. While some people point to historic zoning, and housing stock- I believe that the South Park Miracle began when we stopped selling homes and started selling community. When I made the video “South Park Soliloquy”

back in 1997, it changed the conversation. My neighbors looked at me funny when I suggested using the music of Buckwheat Zydeco as our soundtrack, but I truly believe that his infectious happiness set a new tone for our neighborhood.

I was never a fan of the extra layer of bureaucracy caused by the Priority Boards and prefer direct connections to neighborhood groups that want to place a stake on a piece of Dayton. The city needs to empower neighborhoods to choose their own destiny. Our neighborhood was lucky to have Premier Health pay for our Community Police Officers for 20 years, which I think was part of our success story. I believe that real economic development includes making sure you feel safe in your home.

We also have to stop penalizing people for improving their homes with higher taxes. This idea of reevaluating the value of homes every six years is a criminal abuse of power. What you pay for your home is the value you should be taxed on, when you sell it, the next buyer assumes the cost of the improvements. In some severely depressed areas, we need to find ways to force the values back up, even if it means paying homeowners their taxes back to make improvements. A house shouldn’t ever sell for less than a nice used car.

We also need to review our parks and recreation programs and opportunities for our kids. I spent a lot of time on some pretty horrible basketball courts to know that our kids don’t feel that there are people and places that take an interest in them. I’ve got a plan to transform youth sports in this city, just like I helped goad the city into fixing up our basketball courts.

It took South Park three decades to find its groove, so I can’t promise overnight transformations, but I do know how to help guide and empower neighborhood groups in the right direction.

What will you do to improve downtown?

Downtown Dayton will be doomed as long as we have Austin Landing- where people who work in tall buildings and wear the proverbial “white collar” don’t pay any income taxes and the people who work in retail and “blue collar” jobs in the one story buildings are taxed at 2%. If you look at the number of businesses that left downtown to go there, you see why all but one major building downtown has gone through foreclosure. We need a unified, lower, countywide income tax yesterday. That is one of the only ways to make downtown competitive again.

The issue of parking will be solved as we see the rise of self-driving cars, and alternatives like the free “Wright Flyer,” bike share, and car share, as well as the growth of downtown living opportunities. I was the one who introduced the Bcycle bike share to Dayton, and if it had been implemented properly, it would have had a much greater impact than it’s had.

What we have to do next is make redevelopment of old buildings competitive with new construction without sticking it to the schools with tax breaks. I have a plan.

The city this year moved to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana. Do you agree with the decision, and what message does it send to the community?

We have a serious problem in Dayton, it’s called the Montgomery County Jail. It’s unsafe, it’s not fit for human habitation, and it’s being used to do the wrong things. We need to stop sending people who aren’t a threat to others to jail. We need to find new ways to punish people who do bad things- like steal money from disabled veterans (Our county prosecutor can’t indict a ham sandwich). People have had small amounts of marijuana since before I was born- it’s not a crime. It’s a morality judgement. The real question is if marijuana has medicinal applications, why isn’t it sold at drug stores like every other drug? We have to stop picking winners and losers based on race and wealth. The real criminals in our community when it comes to marijuana possession are the ones who awarded the medical marijuana licenses to mostly rich white folks. We need a system for managing mental health issues and drug and alcohol addiction. We need real universal health care. Marijuana is not our biggest problem.

What should the city’s role be in the redevelopment of the Dayton Arcade? Is spending city money on the project a good investment?

Why are we only talking about the arcade? We’ve been picking winners and losers with our insider economic development for years. We paid to redevelop the arcade once- and then handed it over to Tom Danis for $36K back before I first ran for office in 1992-93. It was an issue on my campaign literature then. Now, I’m wondering about the deal that gave the Montgomery County Fairgrounds to Premier Health and the University of Dayton over the developers who had invested in developing bids that were tossed out.

There is only one fair way to approach projects- I call it “Equal Opportunity Economic Development” where no matter how big or small your project, you have to qualify under the same formula for assistance.

Right now, I guarantee you that your tax dollars are making some of the same folks rich, while taking advantage of others. That’s not very American.

What needs to be done to protect the city’s water?

Our water is a regional asset, and as such, should be the responsibility of the entire region, not just one municipality or another. Right now, the big worries are aging infrastructure including the same lead pipes that led to the disaster in Flint, and firefighting chemicals that are working their way into the aquifer.

Part of the problem is that when companies like Delphi closed, that were huge users of water, we stopped pumping as much and the water table started moving higher- closer to contamination. We need to attract new big users, to keep the water table deeper. That’s not going to be achieved by higher water rates for large users. It’s time to properly market those resources.

We also need to strike a balance between development and protecting the aquifer. The Sherwin Williams plant fire woke a lot of people up. That doesn’t mean every small machine shop is dangerous.

What do you think needs to be done to address crime concerns in Dayton?

We have too many police chiefs in Montgomery County. We have too many courts, too many prosecutors, too many jurisdictions. It’s hard to even do a proper background check without checking at least a half a dozen sites. All that said, the Dayton Police Department needs to either become the regional police certification and training organization, or we need to stop having our own separate academy and strange rules against hiring from outside. We’ve been unable to hire minorities for over 30 years- yet when Cleveland laid off hundreds of minority officers years ago- we couldn’t hire any of them. Our department is under strength and way too white. We can fix that, but not if we don’t change the way we run our department.

I’m also very concerned about the rise of the private police forces operating within our city. Why should only rich institutions like Miami Valley Hospital, the University of Dayton, Sinclair, Metroparks and Kettering Health be able to count on their police to keep their stuff safe? And, when they do anything wrong, we have no control over them. The Samuel DuBose shooting in Cincinnati still haunts me.

I’m a huge proponent of community-based policing and would rather invest in bringing the department up to its old strength of around 500 instead of hovering around 360.

Of course, job creation and ex-offender programs that work go a long way to cutting crime.

How will you build Dayton’s economy?

Companies, investors and people build economies where they think their investment is safe and will return a reward. Our community has been so down on itself that we’ve been like the ugly girl trying to get to the dance. We have to stop throwing money away on corporate welfare and invest in our community’s welfare. We also have to stop tilting the playing field, by pitting new development against established businesses. How fair is it to the folks in the Oregon District who didn’t get a building and garden station handed to them for $10 to compete? That has to stop.

I plan on pioneering “Equal Opportunity Economic Development®” to make sure that every part of starting and running a business is done with a fair and honest set of rules and a level playing field.

A large part of Dayton qualifies as an SBA HUBzone – and I don’t think we’ve worked hard enough at bringing investment to all parts of the city. I think that we need to create a new kind of economic opportunity zone by allowing businesses that meet HUBzone qualifications- to have unlimited access to H1B visas. In other words, if you are willing to live and work in these “Historically Underutilized Business Zones” you can bring as much social capital as you want or need. This would be attractive to the tech titans and put real dollars into West Dayton.

I also believe that we can be a leader in re-entry programs in paying ex-cons to deconstruct the dead homes- and reconstruct the ones that are worth saving. I worked with Kent Development for years who had half of this model in place, before the politicians put them out of business through unfair contracting processes.

I believe that uni-gov, when properly and fairly implemented in the region, will do more to make us competitive and grow the economy. I also don’t believe in quasi-governmental organizations being tasked to do the work of government is a viable or honest solution.

The city commission doesn’t have direct control over the schools, but the school system is one of the major reasons people move out of Dayton or don’t move in. What do you see as the role between the commission and the school board?

In the last three years, the incompetence at Dayton Public Schools has been a major focus of my blog. When the school board passed over a very qualified, internal candidate who was a DPS grad, and hired not one, but two train wrecks of a superintendent, it saddened me. Unfortunately, school board members are almost impossible to remove from office in Ohio, so leading up to the August turn-in deadline, I hope to help find at least three smart people to try to upgrade this board. If there is one thing that’s absolute, it’s that poverty is the main correlating factor to performance. I believe we need to look all the way back to my first campaign in 1993- where I suggested year-round schools, coupled with a longer school year and a longer school day to help empower parents to be able to work. The actual instruction time would decrease daily, and the learning life skills time would increase. You can watch a video of my proposal here:

I’m hoping that the Statehouse will finally fix the unconstitutional school funding formula and crack down on charter schools, but I also believe we have to push to make some other changes including eliminating double-dipping, retire/rehire and bring real responsibility and accountability to the strange system of the Educational Service Centers which seem to just be a playground for retired superintendents. If we truly care about educating children, we need to restore respect and opportunity for young teachers to build the schools of the future.

What can you do as a city commissioner to help the fight against opioids in the community?

Unfortunately, I can’t bring Good Sam back from the wrecking ball that the current commission allowed to destroy a building we’ve subsidized for almost 100 years. We need real options for addicts- not the jail. I believe the only solution is universal health care. It’s way above my pay grade to make that happen, but, if I can’t get Premier and Kettering health networks to work together to come up with a viable, working intervention and rehab program as well as adequate mental health capacity, I’ll do everything I can to bring some affordable competition to the community.

If you look at who funded a lot of our politicians’ political campaigns it was overpaid bureaucrats in the local health care duopoly. It’s time to come clean at all levels.

When former Mayor Gary Leitzell proposed safe injection sites the community laughed. It’s too bad, because that’s one of the best ways to start to support the road to recovery and stop the deaths. Addiction is an illness, not a criminal act.

What else do you want voters to know about you?

Go to my sites, read what I’ve posted over the years, then go look at the output of every other candidate. How many videos do they have online, how many ideas have they proposed to the community. How accessible are they? How many hours of unpaid community service have they invested. When you consider that there are over 2800 posts on Esrati.com and over 340 videos on Youtube- you have to realize that I’ve been making a commitment to keep the community informed, thinking and questioning.

I’m really proud of two posts in particular: esrati.com/deadly which proved that pepper spraying people in restraints wasn’t a one-time thing in the jail, and esrati.com/manofmystery which uncovered one of the oddest stories of international intrigue in Dayton surrounding the former school board president whom I forced to resign.

I still play ice hockey in an old men’s league in Kettering. I like 2 wheeled vehicles from my electric scooter and my conventional mountain bike, to my 2009 BMW R1200RT motorcycle that’s been across the country and back.

My dog comes to work with me every day.

I love what I do for a living.

My house and office are full of books. Reading is my guilty pleasure. Movies fascinate me. If you want a few recommendations of my most recent favorites: Ex Machina, Three Identical Strangers, Green Book, Whiplash, Her, and my all-time favorite Pulp Fiction.

Woodland Cemetery is my personal mecca (my dog George likes it too).

I decided to hang free green basketball nets instead of buying yard signs the last time I ran in 2012. I’ve hung over 500. I hope I inspired a few kids and made them feel like someone cared.

I’m lucky to have some very eclectic and successful friends. An Olympic champion swimmer with 3 gold medals who now crusades for safe sports, the advertising creative director of the decade, an inventor whose father discovered RDNA, a Grammy winner, a pizza shop owning philosopher, a 2-time Pulitzer winner, a mortician who makes the best fish in town, an accountant with the Midas touch, and a nurse who does clinical research. I was lucky enough to have my dad until he was 89 and my mom was just shy of 91. I’ve not been lucky in love, but, I’m a hopeless romantic and an optimist.

Serving my country as a US Army paratrooper was the smartest thing I ever did and maybe the dumbest as well. I had a chance to go to West Point Prep and took the wrong turn at the fork in the road- and that, has made all the difference, and is a big part of the reason I ended up in Dayton and adopted it.

I’m pretty sure if you read all of this, and all the other candidate’s responses, you’ll find that mine is not like the others.

And, I’m probably the only one who called Steve Jobs and had a ten-minute conversation – asking for a job when he first started Next. If politics depresses you, try listening to my friend Buckwheat Zydeco RIP. If you want to see politics as usual change, vote for me.

 

Statehouse changes Open Meetings Act

State Legislators in Ohio have changed the Open Meetings Act to the Information Sessions Act, the ISA. This happened after it was determined that the old OMA actually stood for Only My Attorney wins. The new Information Sessions Act totally guts the Sunshine laws, allowing any public body to meet in private under the guise of calling it an “Information Session.” Also, they are all to do a pinky swear before entering a meeting that they won’t be deliberating. That’s not why they were elected anyway. Decision making is done for them by the people who put and keep them in office anyway.

The clause for removing public officials from office when there has been an injunction granted under the old OMA has been removed from that books as well, since no public official has ever been removed from office for violating the OMA. “We’re just trying to streamline the Ohio Revised Code and remove any silly, extraneous laws from the books” said Speaker of the House Larry Hornholder.

Other changes, the public will no longer be allowed to video or audio record meetings of any public body, because it may show them doing something stupid.

thumbnail of Motion for Reconsideration to the 2nd district court v4

Esrati’s filing, click image to download PDF

Luckily, Community Activist and candidate for the Dayton City Commission, filed an Application for Reconsideration per Appellate Rule 26 A 1 at 11:11 on April 1, 2019 to ask the 2nd District Court of Appeals to reconsider their decision to uphold the motion to dismiss granted by Judge Richard Skelton in Esrati’s case against the School Board and the City over the School Closing Task forces illegal secret meetings and violations of the old ORC 121.22. In his filing, Esrati asks the court to explain why they believe that asking questions is somehow the only indication of “deliberation” in light of US Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas’s record of going 10 years between asking a single question in the court.

Esrati also brings up the 14th amendments “equal protection clause” in that lawyers have become a privileged class in OMA cases- as the only ones who can be compensated for their time. Esrati asks is this akin to men should make more than women, or whites should make more than blacks? Had he known that the Statehouse was going to change the law, he would have known the answer.

So rare is an Application for Reconsideration, that many local lawyers weren’t even aware of this course of action. Esrati looks forward to the 2nd district court justices continuing their error so he can take this case to the Ohio Supreme Court, and concurrently file a case in Federal Court for review on the both the Equal Protection Clause and also for viewpoint discrimination.

Attorney Brian Wildmouth of Sushi and Wildmouth when asked for comment said “I love David Esrati, with each filing he makes I get paid more. This has been a wonderful case for my firm. I wish there were a hundred more like him.” Dayton School board President William Harris was unaware that the Dayton Board of Education had spent over $40K defending themselves on this case, and when asked for comment, all he could say was “I wish I made that kind of money.”

Esrati also admits that his post of April 1, 2018, about a new Charter taking over Dayton Public Schools was, you guessed it, an April Fools day prank.

 

The bullet list

Some of you are wondering, why hasn’t Esrati been posting as often? The answer is, I’ve been really busy. Feb 1, 2019, after a two week hospital ordeal, my mom passed. Then I decided to run for Dayton City Commission against the weak seat incumbents (not running with the mayor makes these the ignored ones), then a trip to England to see my Uncle and cousins (British hospitals don’t look like 5 star hotels with marble walls and overpaid CEO’s), then back to collect signatures, then to argue in front of the court of appeals (still need to “splain” to them judges that it’s not called the “Open Meetings Act” for nuttin), then to fight and win over the Board of Elections over the crap petition the city uses to exclude candidates, and throw in a ton of work… so here’s the bullet list of what you need to know has been on my mind- and should be on yours.

The Wright State Board of (un)Trustees, has been voted as those least likely to succeed by a bunch of very well educated folks. Apparently, the least educated (those in Columbus) need to go back to school to realize that the folks they put in charge of Wright State aren’t fit for duty.

The Montgomery County Jail would be a great first stop for the WSU Trustees, if they weren’t lucky to be in Greene County… that’s where inmates get sexually assaulted, jump off balconies, and well, go to get a chance at winning millions of your tax dollars because the place isn’t run by anyone who went to school either. It needs to be put under competent supervision and mandated to cut the number of inmates to no more than 450 until they can go a year without anything stupid happening.

The City of Dayton was the only jurisdiction NOT presenting to Karl Keith and his folks at a mandated annual review of JEDDs, TIFs and other corporate welfare last Thursday. Apparently they do so much for the rich that they get a separate meeting a week previous. I’d still like to know why I couldn’t get the city to buy my building for me, give it to me for $10 and then throw me some incentives… without having an open bid process, and some kind of evaluation that provides for “Equal Opportunity Economic Development®” I’ll try to get the video up soon.

There are a bunch of people with their panties in a twist about 20 white sheet wearing clowns coming to town. Folks feel the need to show them something. Wake up folks- the real enemy is the clowns you elected who just gave a demolition permit to Premier Health to steal your hospital that you’ve been subsidizing for the last 80+ years or so. By the time anyone files a lawsuit and stops it, there will be a giant hole on Salem. No chance for any competition to come in and provide competitively priced health care. If you need another example of how Premier is Privileged, look no further than the Fairgrounds- where a process for “Equal Opportunity Economic Development®” was put in place, 2 firms submitted competing plans at great expense- and then… the white tablecloth was pulled out from under the dinner setting and the winner was…. Premier and UD who got the property for half the price everyone else did- with a $5M kicker paid by us…. word was there was an interested buyer with a quarter billion cash to put into it immediately- but he didn’t know you had to pay off some politicians before you can get a seat at that table (more to come).

The State legislature is now terrified of taking over the terrible Dayton Public Schools, where our overpaid proctor in charge, Liz Lolli, is actually turning in worse test scores than her predecessor, despite her great insight on what is wrong with these poor little impoverished students- it’s bad teachers and apathetic parents. She’s even wasted money putting up parent shaming billboards, instead of realizing the problem is bigger than her tiny reptilian republican mind can handle. The district is cruising the district into the dumper so people like Chester Finn and Tom Lasley can dig their greedy little fingers into the half a billion budget and use it to turn Dayton into Charter School Nirvana version 2. The State isn’t going to take over districts anymore- so this has to be the only “remedy” left for the legislators to do. They certainly can’t see that when you have such brilliant leadership like the School Board, that they could possibly be the first people that need to go when a district is failing- afterall, they hired the ice queen Lolli, who has NEVER once completed her contract in any other district. But, she has hired so many of her friends… and consultants, and over-priced, under-qualified folks in everything from HR consulting, to ESL program director, to how many principals who then turned their back before getting on-boarded? Hint to the state- when a district has 20% turnover every year, the problem isn’t going to get fixed… by the people who’ve been there at the top through the entire comedy of errors on the way to the bottom.

That should be enough to satiate your plate, but, wait, there’s more…

Did I mention that I’m running for Dayton City Commission? Did I ask you to donate? Did I ask you to volunteer? Do I have to make a video to get your attention?

Consider yourself up to date in D-Town.

2nd District Court of Appeals eclipses the sunshine laws

Ohio Sunshine Law's being eclipsedThere will be no sunshine in Dayton.

Apparently, the Second District Court of Appeals still believes that it is the responsibility of those locked out of public meetings to prove that “deliberations took place” in a meeting they weren’t allowed to attend, observe, record.

This is the polar opposite of what everything that is explained in the “Yellow Book”- a 250 page guide to the Sunshine Laws published by the Secretary of State. My original filing was about multiple violations of the sunshine laws- which include even the threat of closing a meeting as a violation of the laws, as well as a whole bevy of other rules like providing agendas and publishing minutes. What they and Judge Skelton seem to be laser focused on is just the fact that the school closing task force bus tour was my main complaint. It wasn’t. It isn’t. And, it was held illegally- since they locked me out, denied cameras, recording devices, refused to tell me when it started, didn’t publish minutes and a whole bevy of other issues.

And now they’ve written a huge loophole into the sunshine law- without realizing it, because, well, we the public elect judges- without really knowing how smart they are or aren’t. Most voters have never read a legal decision or brief to evaluate judicial competence. They just go with who they know, who someone endorses, or who has the right name.

The loophole they’ve created is that a public body tasked with public business, can now, create a committee to discuss their work, and do it in private, if they call it an “information session” – something that doesn’t exist in written Ohio Statute except in the discussion of public solid waste facilities:

(e) Except as provided in division (A)(2)(f) of this section, prior to taking an action, other than a proposed or final denial, upon an application submitted under division (A)(2)(a) of this section for a permit to open a new or modify an existing solid waste facility, the director shall hold a public information session and a public hearing on the application within the county in which the new or modified solid waste facility is or is proposed to be located or within a contiguous county.

Source: Lawriter – ORC – 3734.05 Licensing requirements.

And note, the word “PUBLIC” proceeds the words “information session. Note, if you doubt me, here’s the search of the entire ORC for the words “Information session.”

While I tried to explain the only logical meaning of what an information session could be in the context of the Ohio Sunshine Laws to the Court, it’s not really relevant to this case, because, well, “information sessions” aren’t in the law- or in the Yellow book either.

Members of a school board, or city commission can’t meet together in a number greater than a majority of their members according to ORC 121.22. So, any time you see Judy Dodge and Debbie Lieberman having lunch at Coco’s together, they are breaking the law. The Montgomery County Commission is made up of 3 members, 2 is a quorum, and they can’t meet and discuss any county business without being at a legally called public meeting.

So- how do public bodies usually get around things like this? Well in the case of the School Closing Task Force- the committee only had 3 members of the 7 member School Board on the task force- one more and it would have been forced to be called a DPS board meeting.

But, what happens when board members go to a presentation given by the Secretary of State about how to comply with the Sunshine Laws that’s given for all the 1000 odd politicians we elect in Montgomery County? They are attending an “information session” – where the main flow of information is from the SOS to the elected officials, and the elected officials aren’t discussing public business that is directly affecting their entity. That’s an “Information Session.”

What happened in Valerie Elementary, or on the bus in the 4 following stops they made outside other schools and HQ, was a closed meeting of the task force, a body that the trial court called a public body. The court of appeals said it was my duty to prove deliberations took place, even though the law clearly says even the threat of closing a public meeting is a violation. The court further states that my failure to do depositions of the task force is a reason for dismissal. To clarify this for the judges, they think that asking people to self incriminate themselves is somehow going to provide proof of deliberations- when the violations of the law were actually the act of not letting me in, not letting me record, and not properly notifying me of the meeting.

Even the newspaper fought me getting an affidavit from their reporter who was allowed on the bus, but wasn’t allowed to record.

The burden of proving what goes on behind closed doors is NOT part of the law.

thumbnail of 2nd district decision 2019-Ohio-1021

Click on image to download PDF decision by the 2nd Dist Court of Appeals

However, they did acknowledge a key pieces of my evidence, which clearly proved the School District was doing everything they could to break the law and not get caught (which is breaking the law, btw):

{¶ 30} As a final matter, we note that Ex. 3 includes a discussion between Dr. Lolli and the DPS Director of Media and Public Relations in which the Media Director stated that sending information to every task member by phone (“i.e., conference calls”) would ensure that “there won’t be any public records of that, either.” To the extent this implies that the Open Meetings Act could be circumvented by this avenue, we note that the Supreme Court of Ohio made the following comments in White v. King, 147 Ohio St.3d 74, 2016-Ohio-2770, 60 N.E.3d 1234:

Nothing in the plain language of R.C. 121.22(B)(2) expressly mandates that a “meeting” occur face to face. To the contrary, it provides that any prearranged discussion can qualify as a meeting. Accordingly, R.C. 121.22 prohibits any private prearranged discussion of public business by a majority of the members of a public body regardless of whether the discussion occurs face to face, telephonically, by video conference, or electronically by e-mail, text, tweet, or other form of communication.

* * *
* * * Allowing public bodies to avoid the requirements of the Open Meetings Act by discussing public business via serial electronic communications subverts the purpose of the act. (Emphasis sic.) Id. at ¶ 15 and 18.

Maybe if the judges had been paying attention to the recent case in Cincinnati where the City Council just got fined 6 figures for violating the Sunshine laws:

Hamilton County Common Pleas Court Judge Robert Ruehlman March 7 signed off on a settlement in which the City of Cincinnati will pay $101,000 to conservative activist Mark Miller and his attorney over text messages sent among five members of Cincinnati City Council in violation of Ohio’s open meetings laws….

In a series of intense statements from the bench, Ruehlman, a Republican, invoked the memory of good-governance crusader Murray Seasongood and said the Democratic council members should resign from their offices and pay the money back.

“First of all, you essentially lied to the people of this city,” Ruehlman said, saying the council members conducted secret meetings via text message. “The real business of the city was handled through these emails and texts.”…

Miller says he brought the lawsuit because the five had been texting among themselves about city business.

“They purposely and intentionally violated the open meetings act with what they did on their own, out of public view,” Miller said after the hearing. “They need to conduct the public’s business in public. It took a judge and a lot of legal horsepower to bring them around to what they should have been doing all along.”

Source: Everything You Should Know About the Cincinnati City Council Text Lawsuit

My next stop will be the Ohio Supreme Court. What good are “sunshine laws” if the only way to enforce them is to hire a lawyer at great expense to weave through all these nuances of crappy case law and poorly written legislation. That big fine btw-

The city will pay $1,000 to Miller for the violation around the group texts, $10,000 because council member Wendell Young deleted some of his texts and $90,000 in legal fees to the Finney Law Firm for work that attorney Brian Shrive did on Miller’s behalf in the case.

In addition, the city spent more than $70,000 on outside representation — partly on independent counsel to mitigate conflicts of interest when activists launched another public records lawsuit regarding texts sent by Vice Mayor Christopher Smitherman, and partly to pay outside tech consultants who retrieved the texts from council members’ phones. According to officials, city attorneys spent more than 400 hours on the case.

That’s why this Ohio law has no teeth, the only people who profit from it are the lawyers, and then, the perpetrators, when caught, are never removed from office. It’s not up to the courts according to ORC 121.22- it’s up to the prosecutor or the Attorney General, and they don’t do anything in these cases.

 

Go to jail, win the lottery.

If I was a criminal wanting to get rich, I wouldn’t buy a lottery ticket, I’d just get picked up for almost anything, and spend a dozen days in the Montgomery County Jail.

That’s how long a young man was in jail before he was sexually assaulted last week by another inmate. One who he knew wasn’t going to be a good roommate from the moment he got his bunk assignment.

Hitting the call button didn’t stop the attack.

But, it was a good way to get a free “get out of jail card.” The inmate was sent on his way after the assault. No charges, just a hope that the jail and the county wouldn’t get sued, again.

His crime by the way? His girlfriend was pulled over for speeding. The cop ran both ID’s of the occupants of the car, and it came back that she had a Temporary Restraining Order against him. She got a ticket, he got sent to jail. She had begged the cop not to take him in- this, from the woman who had the TRO in place. This was the 2nd time they’d been caught together- so, why was the TRO still in force, and since it was her car, why wasn’t she in trouble?

The inmate who did the assaulting- he’s no longer in the Montgomery County Jail either. Maybe they transferred him to another jail, or Summit Behavioral, or maybe they released him too- anything but keep the evidence of incompetent leadership around.

At some point, you’d think that someone would hold the sheriff liable and/or realize that his office is either incompetent or dangerous to the public welfare and shut the place down.

One of the first things I plan on doing once elected to the Dayton City Commission is finding a safe place to send our citizens when they need to go to jail. The Montgomery County Jail isn’t fit for human habitation.

And as the crisis continues  at the jail- the one building we could have easily adapted to use for mental health care and drug rehab, Good Sam Hospital, started it’s path to oblivion. A building largely funded with our tax dollars either through medicaid/medicare dollars, or via the property tax exemption taken by a private corporation pretending to be a non-profit, Premier Health Partners.

We have a serious shortage of both mental health and drug addiction beds, so the jail becomes the de facto public hospital for rapists… which is where this story started…

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