DPS retreat is really an excuse to hide

“Mr Esrati, we’re going to ask you to leave” said Dr. Robert Walker, president of the Dayton Board of Education at their “Board Retreat” on Saturday, June 24, 2017.

At issue was the board taking what was presented as a critical time sensitive vote, on a report from the Treasurer, Hiwot Abraha, a mere 4 days after their regularly scheduled “business meeting” on Tuesday.

Did Abraha have no clue that this was critical on Tuesday, or was this purely an attempt to slide things through without the normal scrutiny and public comment allowed at the regular board business meeting? Me thinks the latter, which is why I spoke up, and invited my ejection.

From the agenda on Board Docs:

“May I have a motion to approve the following items:
C) Purchase Requisitions
D) Resolution: Official Certificate of Estimated Resources
E) Resolution: Original Appropriation Measure for Fiscal Yer (sic) 2018”

“Subject Resolution: Original Appropriation Measure for Fiscal Year 2018

Type Information

I recommend that the Board approve the following resolution for the Original Appropriation Measure for Fiscal Year 2017.

Rationale

Section 5705.38 of the Ohio Revised Code requires the adoption and/or amendment of an Annual Appropriation Measure.

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED by the Board of Education of the Dayton City School District the following sums be and hereby are set aside and appropriated as indicated in the 2017-18 Original Appropriations.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, pursuant to Section 5705.412 of the Ohio Revised Code, the the Board President, Superintendent, and Treasurer certify that the Dayton City School District has in effect for the fiscal year 2018 the authorization to levy taxes, which, when combined with the estimated revenue from all other sources available to the district at the time of certification, are sufficient to provide the operating revenues necessary to enable the district to maintain all personnel and programs for all the days set forth in its adopted school calendar for the current fiscal year.”

Lee and Baguirov were absent, and Sheila Taylor abstained from this vote (using good judgement) as Walker, Lacey, Rountree and McManus voted just like this wasn’t anything different than normal Standard Operating Procedure. According to the records on Board Docs, Taylor also abstained from the Superintendents recommendations.

Note, in the Board Policy Manual, page 34, this retreat actually had instructions:

EVALUATION OF SCHOOL BOARD OPERATIONAL PROCEDURES
The Board plans and carries through an annual appraisal of its functioning as a board. Evaluation is held in the month of June, or during a regularly scheduled Board retreat, with no other items on the agenda with all Board members present. This appraisal considers the broad realm of relationships and activities inherent in Board responsibilities.

thumbnail of Auction Resolution revised

PDF- click to enlarge or download

This wasn’t the only issue that they were going to vote on, nor was it the only thing the public should be informed of. An odd RESOLUTION TO AUCTION PROPERTY AND GOODS was included, without any specifics being given. This could be anything from extra desks to the real estate on Wyoming near MVH and UD, the site of the former Patterson Kennedy Elementary School, that this blog featured in my post and video “Dirty Deals Done Dirt Cheap”. Of course, I wasn’t still at the meeting when this was discussed, but how can a board vote to approve something as unspecific as this? And, why on a Saturday morning retreat, instead of the business meeting?

There is no other school board that meets as often, as long, or does more to disrespect the public than this one. The sheer number of meetings and length, force people who want to be involved or serve as checks and balances to go to ridiculous measures to track and follow. The Open Meetings laws of Ohio, known as the Sunshine Laws, unfortunately don’t even have a provision to stop this kind of obfuscation of the public business, but maybe they should.

While I stated they are breaking the law, it barely matters, because the Sunshine laws have the least amount of teeth for punishing misbehaving public bodies that could possibly written into law. Think of them more like a 20 year old cat with one tooth- not a tiger. However, one parent was so incensed by Saturdays actions that she’s ready to file a pro se action on Monday and is looking for affected citizens to join her in the suit. She’s had legal help in formulating the argument. Please message [email protected] if you want to participate.

Also note, seven more teacher resignations since Tuesday. How much longer is this board going to whistle Dixie while a contract isn’t put in place? Some observers have said that this boards actions, from the firing of former Superintendent Lori Ward, Treasurer Craig Jones, the hiring of the outsider, rookie, Rhonda Corr, to the strife of the RIF, to the payoff of David Lawrence, to the failure to negotiate, is all part of a plan to decimate the district and force State takeover- giving the Republicans in the State House their petri dish for replacing regulated public schools with charters city wide- much like what happened in New Orleans after Katrina. It’s a Betsy DeVos wet dream come true.

In other business, why is Ron Lee, with being absent so many times that he couldn’t vote on the Dunbar Coaching choice, still allowed on the board? The State Law, is 90 days, however, in a normal school board, this could mean 2 meetings in a row, however since Dayton meets almost 2x a week, maybe there should be a tougher standard. Of course, this part of the law is what would be used to send Dr. Adil Baguirov off the board for non-residency, something this board refuses to do.

The Darran Powell Question
From the board policy document pg 120:

Reconsideration
No question decided by the Board will be raised again during the same school year except upon a motion to reconsider, made at the same or next Board meeting. Only a member who voted with the prevailing side may move to reconsider a motion that has been adopted. A majority vote of the entire membership is necessary to reconsider an action that has been taken.

Other than the new school year may technically start in July, by having this rushed meeting, and it not coming up, there can be no revote now on the hiring of Dunbar football coach Darran Powell, who was not hired last Tuesday. His petition for a revote now has 1547 signatures and 399 comments.

Final word: At least a few board members are beginning to see the sheer insanity of this “organization” that can’t get its business done according to schedule. Watch for future developments.

thumbnail of Superintendent’s Update fixed for display

The kind of information that should be given at every meeting.

Also note, much of the “Superintendents presentation” – which has information of the type that should be given at EVERY meeting, shows some troublesome stats- like declining graduation rates, poor 3rd grade reading scores, and horrible enrollment stats for the coming year, despite the best efforts of The Ohlmann Group with their premium priced contract.

Read it and weep.

Medical marijuana in Ohio: a false positive

Welcome to Ohio, where medical marijuana is now legal, except, you can’t get it, use it, sell it, grow it. Only in Ohio folks, where despite being a democratic state in the last 2 presidential races, we’re run by a bunch of goober republicans who are beyond reckless in their pursuit of petty control over everything that doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things, while the important stuff gets ignored.

They rushed through their medical pot legalization after a bunch of rich assholes tried to get the voters to create a constitutionally guaranteed monopoly on pot sales in Ohio. Luckily for once, the old adage of “never underestimate the stupidity of people in large numbers” didn’t hold true and voters told the future barons of pot to go smoke their stuff somewhere else.

Unfortunately, the legislature has now made pot legal, and then, put it on the legislative slow boat for the next two years. In the mean time, states like Colorado are rolling in dough off taxes on legal pot for all. We’re still locking people up for possession- as if being stoned is a threat to humanity. The real threat is the idiots we’ve elected- not just at the state level, but now, we have local jurisdictions passing ordinances to delay any kind of pot-dispensary in their jurisdiction for the next six months- as if legal pot would be here in the next 24 if we’re lucky.

My old friend and republican sparring partner Greg Hunter was in town, and we decided to have a little conversation about medical marijuana and recorded this last month. Sorry, personal events have slowed me down a bit. Here it is for you to enjoy, debate and discuss.

If the State legislature really wanted to do their job, the first thing they’d do is put together some parameters for how dense and big you can be in order to have your own local banana republic within the state. A simple formula based on population density would regulate how much power to do local legislation is possible, forcing cities to merge, urban township tax havens to disappear, and stop duplication of resources in the name of political patronage positions… but, no- teasing us with medical marijuana legalization without implementation is much more fun.

Signals crossed: Mayor vs School Board for Dayton Tax hike “for the kids”

Earlier this week, the Mayor and her minions started testing the waters for a .25% income tax hike, raising Dayton’s rate to rival Oakwood’s highest in the County 2.5%. Oakwood, with the best schools, the lowest crime, perfectly kept streets and backyard trash pickup. A place where public parks look like Disneyland- and even have public bathrooms “that don’t even smell” (that quote from a DPS student who was amazed at Orchardly Park while helping me with a hoops Dayton video).

Part of that money is to go to pay for comprehensive pre-school.

DAYTON — Under the threat of a state takeover, Dayton Public Schools Board of Education members agreed during a work session Saturday to draft a resolution of necessity, the first step toward placing a levy before Dayton voters in November.

The levy plan being forwarded is a temporary five-year, five mills levy targeted toward improving after-school and summer programs with possible technology components, said Adil Baguirov, board president.

“In the long run it’s more prudent and much cheaper to invest in early childhood education and summer programs and after-school programs and educational technology than it is into prisons and all kinds of remediation later in life,” he said.

Without showing improvement on its state report card, the district runs the risk of being operated under an Academic Distress Commission within the next two years. New funding could pull the district back from the brink, said Joe Lacey, a board member.

“We need to try to do something – an additional program, if you will – over and above what we’re doing to try to bring us out from under the threat of academic distress,” Lacey said. “We’ve seen some successes with that at our schools, specifically Ruskin (Elementary School).” Baguirov said the levy is not permanent and not meant for general operating funds.The measure, however, is headed toward the same ballot as a Dayton income tax increase proposed by the city. Voters in November will be asked whether to approve a 0.25 percent increase on income earned in Dayton to help close a projected budget shortfall, fund police and fire services and pay for universal preschool.

Source: Levy proposal for Dayton schools pushed forward | www.mydaytondailynews.com

Whoa, hold on there. If we just wait 2 years for the State takeover, we don’t have to worry about paying for the schools at all- it’s the State’s problems- so isn’t a 5 year levy a bit much?

And, maybe because the Mayor didn’t even bother to come to the meeting where the three Superintendent candidates were presented to the public- we might infer that coordination between the two political bodies has broken down? Both coming to tax payers “for the kids” at the same time is a monumental recipe for disaster.

Dayton already spends more per student than any other district in the county, with the worst results. Noted, they also deal with the most special needs students, an 85% poverty level population, and has to compete with charter schools that don’t have to meet any of the same requirements for hiring teachers, testing, certification etc.

So, what should tax payers really ask for in terms of change?

David Esrati Campaign literature from 1993

It was 11×17, both sides, a lot to read- too bad not enough did.

I go back to my campaign literature from 1993 when I was running for the seat that eventually was Dean Lovelace’s entry to the dais:

Neighborhood-based Schools
“It takes an entire village to raise a child”
African saying

An entire VILLAGE, people, not an entire City. If we return to neighborhood schools the parents can get involved again. The chief reason for Dayton’s decline is busing. It is The Problem. As your commissioner I will spend at least an hour a day in one of our public schools.

I also proposed, long before our new buildings with A/C were built,

The year-round school

To combat the suburbs, and to keep our kids out of trouble, I recommend we move to year-round schools over the next 12 years. We aren’t farmers, our kids don’t work the fields in the summer. Learning is a lifelong experience, we need to reinforce that with a year-round learning environment.

Subsidized Day Care

An innovative day-care program is needed to attract new busines and new citizens to the city, as wellas to put our high percentage of single parents back into the work force as productive taxpayers. This would be a high-quality 24-hour service, that would provide long-term benefits to our citizens and make your investment in Dayton grow.

Hmmm, and no one took me seriously? We decimated our parks programs, filled in the swimming pools, and the school year remains the same as everyone elses, despite having a tougher challenge.

What DPS needs to do to improve test scores and keep kids out of trouble is move to a longer school day, with a longer school year, add an additional 20 days to the 180 day school year, with a 4 day school week  for most of the year except for leading into testing weeks.

The school day would be 8:30 to 5:30, but actual academic instruction time would be limited to 4 hours a day. The other hours would be doing art, music, phys ed, home ec, extra curriculars, and individualized guided learning. You want to be a programmer- you go hang out with the computer club, you want to be a social worker, you volunteer with a social service agency, you want to be a teacher, you tutor younger kids. Teachers have more time to plan, and to guide students in their personal passions- be it genealogy, chess, quilting or gardening. And, every school should be raising it’s own food- as both a hands on learning biology and agronomy, but as a business model as well. Hire Lisa Helm from Garden Station to lead the charge- since Nan and friends are evicting them from their gift to our community.

Yes, negotiating the new teacher contracts will be tough, but most inner city teachers aren’t there for the money, especially since Dayton doesn’t pay well. And we need to take a new look at transportation- no more door to door- but have neighborhood stops, on roads built to handle buses- and ways to get kids in a community to know each other. We need to find ways to build relationships back into the neighborhoods- since when you get right down to it- people are always what make a city, what make a neighborhood- not the buildings and certainly not the politicians.

I was talking about the cost of summer and the summer slide 25 years ago. Here’s a bit from an article from the New York Times about “The families that can’t afford summer” – which is most of Dayton:

Most American schools take a 10- to 11-week break during the summer. The assumption that underlies summer vacation — that there is one parent waiting at home for the kids — is true for just over a quarter of American families. For the rest of us, the children are off, the parents are not. We can indulge our annual illusion of children filling joyful hours with sprinkler romps and robotics camp or we can admit the reality: Summer’s supposed freedom is expensive.

In 2014, parents reported planning to spend an average of $958 per child on summer expenses. Those who can’t afford camps or summer learning programs cobble together care from family members or friends, or are forced to leave children home alone. Self-care for 6- to 12-year-olds increases during the summer months, with 11 percent of children spending an average of 10 hours a week on their own. In July 2014, a South Carolina woman was arrested when she left her 9-year-old in a park while she worked. Parents afraid of being at the center of a similar incident may be more likely to park their kids in front of the TV.In summer, the lack of affordable child care and the achievement gap collide for lower income families. Most kids lose math skills over the summer, but low income children also lose, on average, more than two months of reading skills — and they don’t gain them back. That puts them nearly three years behind higher income peers by the end of fifth grade, and the gap just keeps getting wider. Researchers credit the summer slide for about half of the overall difference in academic achievement between lower and higher income students.

Source: The Families That Can’t Afford Summer – The New York Times

Arguments can be made for a 5 day school week with year round school until DPS comes out of academic emergency- but, moving to a full, real world work world for teachers would be a monumental struggle. There is a beauty to the four day work week- look at what Dayton did with trash collection savings. When you have a Tues-Friday schedule- all those national holidays except the 4th of July, Thanksgiving and Christmas and New years- all become standard days off.

We need a radical fix for Dayton Public Schools. Anyone who thinks more money is going to fix it is delusional- because you can’t sell the same inferior product with a higher cost to voters- they will vote with their feet, just throwing Dayton deeper into the hole.

As to the City levy- the only way I’d support it if it included a rescission of all property tax abatements for companies with employees making more than $250K a year. We’re not subsidizing the rich on the backs of the poor anymore- and this goes for non-profits and schools as well. When you realize that half of the income for the hospitals is tax dollars for medicare, and the universities are heavily subsidized with grants and loans for students- it’s time to stop padding pockets into the stratosphere on the backs of the little people. The Brexit vote should be a good clue to politicians world wide that the working class is fed up with the redistribution of wealth and the widening gap.

We’ve been sold Sinclair as our savior against kids unprepared for the workforce for years, instead of making sure a high school diploma still meant something.

It’s time to reinvent our idea of school, and of how to help the poor get a real chance at not following in their parents footsteps- neither the city or the DPS tax plan will do anything to substantially revamp the equation, nor spells out actual mechanics of making it happen.

Look at my old campaign literature- and realize you missed out on 25 years of forward thinking and let’s get busy making real changes happen.

 

 

Disrespect breeds disrespect

Well, that was priceless. At the church revival meeting to hang Dan Foley and the “Dayton Together” plan- which has no chance of passing- I went up to ask a question- was interrupted at least 3 times in the first 25 words- and then had the microphone cut off-
to which I loudly told the pastor in charge- “FUCK YOU” gave the 1 finger salute and walked back to my camera, where I was asked to leave.
It’s really easy to be against something – especially change.
It’s hard to answer a question- but, not hard if you don’t let someone ask it.
The question I was attempting to ask- Why do we have the second highest tax burden in the state- yet, in the last 30 years- our police department has been cut in half- while private police departments have grown- paid for by organizations that don’t pay taxes- UD, Premier Health, Kettering Health- and why do tax collectors like MetroParks, Sinclair, Dayton Public Schools also have private cops?
Is this the best our current system can do? Is that why you can’t find a punk who stabbed a girl in broad daylight in a school yard- despite having witnesses and video?
It’s time for some kind of change….

I’ll have video uploaded sometime tomorrow. But, I’m sure someone has it up already…

UPDATE

Here is the video of the comments. We have 2:20 of Pastor Johnson telling everyone how this will work. I begin at 2:29, first interruption 12 seconds in. 2:41, at 2:50 second interruption, 9 seconds later, mic off at 2:53 that’s a total of :24 seconds.

I owe Pastor Cooper of Wayman A.M.E. an apology. However, Pastor Johnson of Bethel Missionary Baptist Church owes me one. Disrespect breeds disrespect, people. Cutting microphones off and censoring questions isn’t what we do in this country.

I’m David Esrati, and I don’t approve this message

David Esrati portrait 2016

I took my own mug shot.

It’s happened a lot recently. Randomly, I’ve connected with someone who said “Aren’t you David Esrati, I read your blog.” Not necessarily read it every post, but, have read it. One of my hockey teammates even said it was helpful to him when he looked for “Where to get Baklava in Dayton

A very pretty, sweet woman walked up to me, and said she was touched by the piece I wrote in the Dayton Daily news about the Kettering Ice Rink. When I asked her name, she said she was nobody- and only gave her first name.

A conversation in Kroger yesterday turned to politics, and I was asked again- am I done running? Right now, I’m running a business, taking care of elderly parents and 5 pieces of real estate, and then there is this book I’m neglecting right now. I’ve yet to see a whole bunch of people show up and say they want to help me run. I also had to hear again about how our County Auditor thought it was OK to make me the punchline at the Dems’ big fundraiser. It didn’t sit well with some of the people who buy tickets to these things because they lobby- not necessarily agree with the party and its politburo of friends and family.

Others tell me, you need to stay out of politics. Retire the blog. Just concentrate on your business. Make money.

But, then the brilliant minds at Cox- owners of the newspaper, a TV station they call “the leader” and a bunch of radio stations- decide to can 27 people in copy editing- and hand it over to some farm team. I’m the son of a copy editor- and know how important it is that the people editing the people reporting the news actually know the city, the people, the players and even the pronunciations of street names, and if it’s a council or a commission- and if the mayor can vote or not on an issue. I guess their buy-one-give-away-five subscription plan failed to boost eyeballs- like everything else they do- other than give us better quality content- meaningful content.

This Tuesday is the most important primary I think I can ever remember in my lifetime, and could be one of the most pivotal in our country’s history. In a country where less than half the people vote- and less than half of those vote in primaries, we let a very few people chart our course, while we all bitch about the outcomes.

I get pissed when I get an email from the Montgomery County Democratic Party, of which I’m a member and on the central committee- telling me to vote for Hillary. I don’t recall a vote at any meeting where we decided whom to endorse.

You should get pissed too when people tell you who to vote for. But, you should get even more pissed when people just don’t vote. To think Nan Whaley was elected by such a small proportion of our population- is testament to how screwed up our system has become.

Everything I’ve done with the close to 2,500 posts I’ve published here- is to try to make people think, to engage, to make them more aware of what, who, and why our city is where it is today. Tuesday, you can do your part to set a course for our country’s future.

And, I’m not going to tell you who to vote for. But, for me- the only two candidates I’m sure of are Bernie Sanders and PG Sittenfeld. I just wish I had other choices in other races- and knew that I wasn’t going to be one of a small number of people setting the course of this next election.

And, while I can think of other things to do, instead of writing this blog- I can’t imagine living in a city where the only source of news and insight is coming from one place run by imbeciles.

Love or hate me, I am my father’s son. He, with the master’s degree in Political Science- and the knack for language, and the many years of reporting real news, and teaching his son the importance of checks and balances provided by the “fourth estate.” Today, the old man turned 89, and he’ll still find something to fix in this post after I finish.

Happy birthday pops.

This Thursday- The Zen of the Solo Ride prezo at Brixx

David Esrati, 6800 mile solo motorcycle rideThose of you who read this site regularly know I’ve cut down my posting frequency. Part of it was because I was gearing up for, then taking, then returning from an epic 6,837 mile solo motorcycle trip out west.

I’ll be presenting at the October Meeting of the Gem City Rollers Scooter Club this Thursday, Oct. 15, at Brixx, 500 E 1st St., Dayton, OH 45402, at 7 p.m.

The prezo is loosely called “The Zen of the Solo Ride”- or what to pack, what not to do, and what you learn about yourself on a 6,800-mile solo ride in 20 days across the American West- down the Pacific Coast Highway, and back.

For those of you who’ve never met me- good chance to come out and meet me in a non-political setting. For those of you who have- come get some food and beer- and enjoy.

For those of you contemplating a long ride sometime- come and learn from my mistakes.

 

Why not this year?

This year was “the year” to run for City Commission. An open seat, and the weakest commissioner on the ballot in Matt Joseph. Other than a special election, it doesn’t get any easier to run.

We had a whole bunch of people say they were going to run, but I wasn’t one of them.

At the beginning of the year, my then 87-year-old father was facing very dangerous surgery. I was going to have a hernia repair, and my parents were no longer going to drive. I had enough on my plate- but, I was also considering taking some 23-year-old advice and running for school board. (Abner Orick suggested I should run for school board before I ran for Mayor- you know- the Joey D. Williams route to an anointed lifetime seat). But, I can see the writing on the wall- in the next two years the State of Ohio is going to come into Dayton and throw our schools under the bus and wrest control from the local board- and frankly, there won’t be much we can do. I’ve given my advice on how to fix Dayton Public on this blog- and got very little support or discussion about totally revamping the calendar- and changing the way we do school- and without a team to run, with a seven member board, it was going to be an exercise in futility.

Some of you have noticed, I’m not posting as frequently. It’s not because there isn’t just as much to write about, but it’s about what I’ve decided to do to make change happen. I’ve been working on a book- about how to transform politics in the United States via a system to lessen the impact of unlimited money and to improve voter literacy. It’s also a handbook on how things really work or don’t work in our system. The goal is to release it during next year’s presidential primary free-for-all. It’s already at about 15,000 words- and the target is over 85,000. I’m enjoying myself writing it- and the few people whom I’ve shared it with have liked it.

I’ve also refocused my “community service” back into my neighborhood- working with Kate Ervin and her amazing Dayton Time Bank, doing a neighborhood soccer program, and still hanging green basketball nets for anyone who calls 985-1312 and asks for one in the City of Dayton.

I plan on running again for Dayton City Commission in 2 years, but a lot will depend on my parents’ health.

There are some major articles I want to write for this blog- that I have a good start on. Like the real truth about the competence of our economic development efforts, the puppetmasters behind the curtain, regionalism, and exposing a major force in this community as an organization that should be charged with racketeering and federal contract fraud, but- all in due time.

I’m also interested in working more with veterans, and veterans’ issues- now that my beloved VOB108 has been turned into a grant-chasing organization instead of a viable business networking group/voice for veterans.

There is also the Bernie Sanders campaign, which deserves all of our support, as the first candidate who isn’t working for corporate interests. I plan on working hard to get Bernie, the best politician money CAN’T buy, elected in 2016.

Thank you to so many of you who have read, commented and even written wonderful poetry on this blog over the last 10+ years. I view this site as much yours as mine. You’ve contributed at least 10x the words that make this site work.

Those of you whom I’ve met through this site- I am forever grateful for making your acquaintance. Those of you who’ve hired my firm or bought printing from my firm- that you discovered via this blog- an even greater thank you. And, to the mysterious “Ice Bandit”- if you ever decide to put up a site with more of your poems like this one, or this one, or even this one (you’ll have to scroll to the comments) – I’ll be your biggest fan. Your poetry in my comments section is the best reward I could ever ask for. I’d love to buy you lunch sometime- at CJ Chan’s of course.

 

 

How to piss people off- a Pecha Kucha presentation by David Esrati

I love Pecha Kucha. 20 slides, 20 seconds each, to tell a story, make a point, entertain, make people think.

The format is to force people to distill their ideas to something manageable- concise, and worth your time. Not a long essay, not a tweet- but something that just works.

Back in March, at Dayton’s Vol 22, I was honored to be one of the speakers- the one just before the beer break. That’s right- driving people to drink.

My subject- “How to piss people off” – it really helps to do a PK about something you know inside and out.

And for those of you who didn’t make it to that epic event- here’s something to give you a good laugh or two before the weekend.

The video- note- a few off-color words are contained if you are at work.

PechaKucha 20×20 – Dayton – Vol. 22 – Rambunctious!

Dayton Oh Pecha Kucha 22 poster by Andrew Dailey

Click on image to download full size, 11×17 pdf

If you live in Dayton and say there is nothing to do- it’s on you.
Here’s a cheap date night event that will probably overdeliver on entertainment value- based on the speakers.

Of course when an event is free (donations really keep this going)- and only held 4x a year- you should be out of excuses to attend. PK is held in over 800 cities all over the world.

I’ve told you about PK nights before- and this is no different. 20 slides, 20 seconds each- any subject. Tomorrow night- I’m in the line-up with “How to piss people off”- a subject I’m told I’m eminently qualified to speak about.

Also- my friend Bryan Suddith is sharing “Confessions of an Uber Driver.”

Connie Post who is second in command of the Dayton Daily news editorial page (yes the lower case “d” is always intentional here) and one of the best photographers I know is presenting “Designing a Positive and Blissfully Rambunctious Community Outlook” (which takes almost 20 seconds to say.)

Shelly “Glad Girl” Hulce- is presenting. She used to work for Mayor Leitzell and is well known in local music circles.

Omar Peters who is the “official face” of Dayton’s new bike share and a planner with MVRPC is presenting.

Riley Driver, the king of the Dayton Chess Club will pwn us all with his deck.

Cassie Guard is doing “Teach Her to Twirl Her Tassels and Watch Her Conquer the World!” and I’m sure there will be others just as fascinating.

Wright-Dunbar Conference Center
1100 W. 3rd St.
Dayton OH 45402

March 19, 2015
7:30pm – 9:30pm
Free, donations

via PechaKucha 20×20 – Dayton – Vol. 22 – Rambunctious!.

The Socialist Republic of the United States Military

I’m not a fan of the Dayton Daily news- and even less a fan of their local editorial pages- after years of being mocked by them. First time running for office, I was called “an advertising man with not much to say.” All of you who know me, know that wasn’t true- and my campaign literature at the time was 11×17 covered in text. I once walked out, after they refused to apologize for something that had just appeared in their paper- where a writer said a band (G-Love and Special Sauce) sounded black. As if music sounds a race? Then there was when I mocked the big plans for the 2003 “celebration of flight” which instantly got me on their shit list- since it was Brad Tilson’s baby. We all remember what a fiasco that was.

A few years back, they stopped doing local opinion and promoted Ron Rollins to curate the page. This means ask people to opine for you. I find it lame, but fairer than what came before under the old regime. His second in command is now Dr. Connie Post- yep, a Ph.D. working at a newspaper. Ron must have been on vacation last week, because I sent a short response in to a “Speak Up” piece and Connie asked me to expand it into a guest column. Usually I don’t like working for the evil empire for free- but, in this case, I felt pretty strongly about the issue- and believe it or not- I was on the editorial page last Friday- for once, not being lampooned.

First- the “Speak Up”- a called in, anonymous thing that no reputable paper would do.

This appeared 17 Feb 2015- unsigned:

For those fast food employees striking for $15 an hour, let’s do some math. At $15 an hour, Johnny Fry-Boy would make $31,200 annually. An E-1 (private) in the military makes $18,378. An E-5 (sergeant) with eight years of service only makes $35,067 annually. So you’re telling me that a burger flipper deserves as much as those who are getting shot at, deploying for months in hostile environments, and putting their lives on the line every day protecting you?

My response was published on Friday, 27 Feb. 2015 – Photo was a crop of a shot by Larry C. Price who used to work for the DDN. It was behind their paywall (nice to know I was helping their bottom line, as they’ve never given me a link or mention for my stories they’ve taken).

I did not write the headline:

Serving my country as an Army private

By David Esrati
A recent “speak-up” caller compared a $15 minimum wage for “Johnny-Fry Boy” to an E-1 in the military. He stated there was no way flipping burgers was worth more than risking your life for your country on a straight hourly basis.

As a former E-1, I feel qualified to respond.

On Day 1, I was issued clothes. When in training, I didn’t even have to do my own laundry. Food was free. I was given three square meals a day, even if some came in cans or plastic packages. Granted, “fast food” depended on the order of entering the mess hall — first in and you had time to eat; last in and it was eat it or leave it.

Zero rent. For the most part, I lived communally. The WWII-era barracks at Fort Gordon had group showers, and cheek-to-cheek toilets, which took a little getting used to. But it still beat the portable micro housing I sometimes slept in. It came without running water (unless raining), no heat or electricity unless I used the 25-pound hand crank generator that I had to carry with my house, food, bed and M16.

My only utility bill was a phone bill, paid in quarters, via a phone booth.

Health care was 100 percent covered, including dental and vision. If I was injured on the job, I was guaranteed health care for life as well as a disability check.

Job security was solid; in fact, my employer liked to sign me like a pro-athlete. There were signing bonuses via 3- to 4-year revolving contracts. Advancement opportunities were up to me with a very clear career path. All training was provided free.

I learned Morse code at 15 groups per minute send/receive. I jumped out of perfectly good airplanes, which in my time paid an extra $75 a month, so I could visit faraway places and serve as a “community organizer.”

After 20 years, retirement was guaranteed at 50 percent of my pay. Stay in longer and retirement went up. Many of my peers got to travel internationally, sometimes with welcoming arms and others versus small arms. A gym membership was unnecessary. I was paid to work out, often going on long hikes with a very large rucksack. My hours were never subject to overtime. Often I was scheduled to be on the job 24/7.

I always found it ironic that our military, tasked to spread democracy and capitalism, was a lot like socialism.

If the speak-up caller was making an argument that the Private E-1 should make more than “Johnny Fry-Boy,” I’m in total agreement. But, if you say that Johnny Fry-Boy shouldn’t make enough to pay for his health care, clothing, food and shelter, this former E-1 wants to know why he was putting his life on the line to protect a country that doesn’t believe its citizens are entitled to the basic freedoms that financial stability provide — nominally described as “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” Those freedoms certainly cost a lot more than the $7.25 federal minimum wage.

We’re long overdue for a higher minimum wage and deserve a country that truly treats its citizens as if “all men are created equal,” providing an equal opportunity for advancement, without having to volunteer to die for our great country.

David Esrati served in the U.S. Army, both active duty and reserve, in the 1980s. He got out as an E-4.

I posted this on Facebook- and received a considerable amount of positive feedback. At the Second Street Market yesterday, a few people praised it- and again today, at the Legacy Pancake House- a few more. I’ve had more than a few fellow veterans also thank me- because as one, Scott Ricketts so gracefully summed it up:

The military taught me we had to take care of everyone on the team and pay more attention to help the ones having problems. We were not allowed to leave anyone behind and we’re only as strong as the weakest among us. Making sure the people on the bottom get to the finish line is our collective responsibility. At least that’s what TSgt Esteves yelled at us.

This pretty much sums up why I probably feel closest to my friends who have served.

There are some arguments about “entry level jobs” and the minimum wage. I don’t buy them. I’d be OK with a lower minimum for kids in high school, or for their first 2 years of work, but, there is no excuse for our pathetic minimum wage, or the crying of huge corporations talking about “competitiveness.” McDonald’s operates in Germany, where they have to pay a living wage, GM does too- where they deal with labor unions in a totally different way than they do here. Apple is sitting on $170+ billion in cash- and still refusing to let Americans make much of their product (the Mac Pro which starts at $3k is assembled in Texas- but that’s about it).

Our country has to stop believing the lies that are fed to us by politicians who didn’t serve, who sell out, and for the most part, work against the best interests of the American public. This isn’t the America that any of us want to risk our life for- but we do and did.

It’s time to reassess. We can do better.