Five Rivers Metroparks. Now run by the politburo

This is illegal. On July 26th Five Rivers Metroparks started pushing a new policy to vendors at the 2nd Street Market- to take effect 8/1/2014. But before we even get to what the policy they are implementing is- we have to start with the e-mail signature of the person sending out the policy – it includes the following legalese:

This e-mail and any files transmitted with it are confidential and intended solely for the use of the individual or entity to whom they are addressed. If you are not the named addressee you should not disseminate, distribute or copy this e-mail. Please notify the sender immediately by e-mail if you have received this e-mail by mistake and delete this e-mail from your system. Please note that any views or opinions presented in this e-mail are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of Five Rivers MetroParks. Five Rivers MetroParks accepts no liability for any damage caused by any virus transmitted by this e-mail.

It’s even styled to be hard to read- using gray type and small font style tags.

Please note, “Autumn Saenz Market Coordinator 2nd St Market Five Rivers MetroParks” you don’t work for a private law firm- but for a government entity- funded by our taxes. Everything you do is public information, covered by Ohio’s Sunshine laws, and available to the public through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). Just the hint of some sort of secrecy- or that this isn’t public record, is a violation.

If any vendor wants to forward your communications, get used to it. Several vendors are my clients and talked to me about this new policy- and I concur, it’s absurd and illegal.

The new policy in question? “SOCIAL MEDIA RULES AND REGULATIONS” which prohibits talking smack about Five Rivers Metroparks, the Market, and or, anything about the market or any of the affiliates- up to and including the commissioners of the organization. So, in effect, we’re allowed to bully you into not being a “cyberbully” and if you talk about us, and our attempts to regulate free speech in public, we’ll terminate your lease.

The complete text of the new mandate:

Five Rivers MetroParks
2nd Street Market
Amendment to Rules and Regulations
Effective 8/1//14

2nd Street Market vendors and their employees or agents must be courteous and professional at all times. This includes vendors’ use of the Internet, e-mail and social media and digital networking tools.

Vendors and their employees or agents shall not make defamatory or derogatory remarks about Five Rivers MetroParks, the 2nd Street Market, or other related to Five Rivers MetroParks or the 2nd Street Market in their electronic communications, including on all social media platforms. They will not engage in gossip, spreading rumors, cyberbullying or similar behavior.

Vendors, their employees or agents may not use e-mail, the Internet or social media and digital networking tools in any manner that may impair the reputation or public standing of Five Rivers MetroParks, the 2nd Street Market or their employees, agents or Commissioners.

Fiver (sic) Rivers MetroParks and the 2nd Street Market reserve the right to report any such communication to the appropriate authorities and social media platforms as communication that violates appropriate standard of conduct. Repeated offenses of these rules and regulations may result in the termination of a vendor’s license agreement at conduct business at the 2nd Street Market.
Cut/Tear along the dotted line and return to Jimmy or Autumn. Thank You

By signing here, the vendor agrees to participate in the 2nd Street Market in accordance with the Amendment to the Rules and Regulations described in this document. Effective 8/1/14.
Vendor Business
Vendor Name
Vendor Signature

If you want an original PDF of the document in question: Social Media Amendment

Metroparks is funded by Montgomery County taxpayers. And just to make it clear- even if the vendors were direct employees of a private company- these policies and threats of lease termination would be illegal:

In January (2013), the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) issued a series of rulings and advisories that changed the rules for private businesses that want to punish workers who make these feelings public using social media.

The board’s rulings make it illegal for most private companies to enact broad policies that would punish workers who criticize their employers or work conditions if such venting could be considered part of an employee’s right to work toward improved working conditions.

via Do Governments Need Personal Social Media Policies?.

As our best example of regional cooperation, MetroParks should be the shining example of open government, and transparent practices. One of the oddities of this organization is that even though the public pays for this organization, we have no say in who runs it- the 3 “commissioners” are appointed by an unnamed “Montgomery County Probate Judge” and seem to be appointed for life (although start dates for each isn’t listed, Irv Bieser and Alan Pippenger have been on this board for a long time (but we’ll save that issue for another post).

As of this time, most vendors, afraid to raise their voices against this policy fearing the threat of lease termination- are signing it and keeping their mouths shut. Technically, the release of the e-mail and document, may be grounds for termination. When we can’t talk in public about the conduct of the people in charge of our tax dollars, we don’t have a democracy, we have a dictatorship. And in that vein, to the director of Metroparks- I challenge you, Becky Benná- tear down this policy.


1st Amendment optional at Sinclair Community College

Apparently, Sinclair Community College is not part of the United States, nor does it have to follow the law of the land. David Sparks of the Dayton Informer posted today that he was run off the Sinclair Community College courtyard by the campus police when setting up his camera. When he went to the “business office” the employees there were unable to explain if the First Amendment would protect his right as a citizen and a journalist to do man-on-the-street interviews.

Apparently, even though Sinclair Community College is paid for with your tax dollars and belongs to all of us, as a public institution of “higher learning” they’ve failed to learn the law.

This is no different than Mike Turner’s arrest of a silent protester (me) at a public meeting so many years ago.

Is the Sinclair Community College campus courtyard a Free Speech with Approval Zone?

via Dayton Informer Prevented from Filming in Sinclair Courtyard | The Dayton Informer.

There is a reason it’s the First Amendment. In case the people at Sinclair need a refresher- it’s pretty short and simple:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

it’s time the people of the region start questioning why these people who work for us seem to think they operate with a different set of laws than the rest of us and why they still have jobs.

Dayton panhandler law- it’ll cost us.

With a serious shortage of police on the street, no new hires in sight, we’re going to make holding a sign up on the corner illegal? Really?

Besides the slight problem with the U.S. constitutional protection of free speech, the city is going to “fine” or “incarcerate” panhandlers? Why not just give them minimum-wage jobs cutting grass on vacant lots instead? Between the wasting of time of valuable police officers making- oh around $30 an hour, and the cost of paperwork, court time, jail- the fines that will be levied and not collected…

Only from the wizards the citizens of Dayton elect:

Dayton’s new ordinance, which could be voted on next Wednesday, would require a soliciting permit to hold any sign asking for money, just as a panhandling permit is currently required to actively ask for money. The new ordinance also would restrict the times, places and manner that a person can hold such a sign.

Cook said the ordinance would make most offenses a fourth-degree misdemeanor.

“It’s an arrestable offense instead of just a ticket, and the maximum penalty is 30 days in jail and a $250 fine,” Cook said. “Because of overcrowding, will they spend serious time in jail? Probably not. But I would like to think the arrests will make a difference (in stopping the cycle).”

via Dayton’s crackdown on panhandlers may intensify.

Free Hugs panhandlers in the Oregon District

Are these criminals? Holding a sign- panhandling?

Laws that can’t be enforced are laws we don’t need. The legal defense on this one, when the ACLU steps in, will cost the city thousands.

Let’s just think about this for a minute- is wearing a shirt that says “I’m homeless please help” illegal too?

Or- holding a sign that says “Free hugs*” in big type- with smaller type “*donations appreciated” illegal?

Or, having a bottle of windex- and offering window cleaning- like in LA- for a donation?

Is this the most important thing our city leaders can do?

Too bad you can’t recall them.

Donations still being accepted to the legal fund to challenge the petition process in the charter if you think this kind of legislation is asinine.

The City Commission should only be working on a solution to our safety forces hiring issues right now- and not be allowed to go home until they come up with a solution. We can’t afford to have a city without adequate police protection.

Those pan-handlers sure keep me awake at night- how about you?


When you need infrastructure, don’t ask Dayton

A perfect example of how we don’t do real economic development.

The Twin Valley mental hospital can’t be reopened because- we don’t have a road to it. We spent millions of dollars to blight a neighborhood at Wayne and Wyoming for a speculative Kroger store- but, can’t come up with money to build a road to a medical facility. Please note- the medical facility jobs pay more than the grocery store jobs.

From the Dayton Daily News:

For several months, a variety of issues have held up the proposed $1.7 million sale of the former Twin Valley state mental hospital property to a private developer, most recently inconsistencies in a survey of the property.

But an upbeat Dec. 9 meeting involving Montgomery County, city, school board and state officials appeared to pave the way for an imminent sale of the hospital site in early January. A private company has plans to reopen it as a 100-bed mental hospital, creating 150 jobs and potentially helping to address local behavioral health needs left in the wake of Twin Valley’s closing in 2008.

“By the beginning of January, we think this all can be a done deal,” Bob Short, interim director of hospital services for the Ohio Department of Mental Health, told the Dayton Daily News Dec. 9 following that meeting.

But just days later, an e-mail exchange between the state Department of Mental Health and the city’s planning department showed the sale could be in for yet another delay. The Dayton Daily News obtained the e-mails through a public records request.

The e-mails focused on where the main entrance will be to the proposed 55-acre property southeast of Wayne and Wilmington avenues, which virtually is landlocked. The property has been further hemmed in by the construction along Wayne Avenue of a new Belmont High School, slated for completion in the winter of 2011-12.

In a Dec. 11 message, John Gower, the city’s director of planning and community development, underscored the issue of access, noting several project stakeholders recommend access to the property by way of Mapleview Avenue, which runs through a residential neighborhood on the Twin Valley property’s east side and is used to reach the current Belmont High School.

“In previous conversations that Dayton has had with the Ohio Department of Mental Health, we have suggested that a temporary easement (access) could be considered from Mapleview, through the old Belmont High School for purposes to provide basic maintenance of grounds while the property remained vacant,” Gower wrote.

“We now have a user that wants to reuse the site and bring 150 jobs to Dayton. We think all the partners that are currently at the table support that. However, finding a permanent solution to provide access to the site that does not circulate through the neighborhood is the problem before us.”

via Access issues could derail Twin Valley sale.

What’s even more embarrassing about this- is this is state-owned land, with a Dayton Public School owned building that blocked off the old access road in a deal that was all done by government technocrats. Somehow, none of them realized Twin Valley would still need a road.

In the mean time, Austin Road continues to get roads, expensive traffic lights- and tax breaks to overbuild our community with retail and industrial space which we have an abundance of- while a hospital trying to open that will provide a critically needed public service twists in the wind.

Is it because the right palms haven’t been greased- or is it that we have people too incompetent in charge? Why aren’t the Mayor and the Dayton City Commission climbing up the City Manager’s rear-end to get this done?

Why isn’t money coming from ED/GE to make this happen?

This is real economic development that should be undertaken with our tax dollars- unlike 99% of the other corporate welfare that goes on (although- if the state maintained its safety net for the mentally ill- this facility would have never closed).

Kudos to the DDN for exposing yet another example of the city being inept.

Maybe we should learn to throw shoes.

Throwing a pie in the face of various famous people is considered funny, doing it to politicians- minor, spitting at someone is the closest we come to showing disrespect. Words have lost their poignancy- with calling someone a “Mother sucker” (in clean terms) no longer having effect.
No, in America, we settle scores by shooting, fighting, knifing, leading us to having a ridiculously high incarceration rate- in the “home of the brave, land of the free.”

No, in the grand scheme of things- Muntadar al-Zaidi spoke to the world- not by blowing up the World Trade centers- or himself- but by throwing his shoes.

In the middle of the news conference with Mr Maliki, Iraqi television journalist Muntadar al-Zaidi stood up and shouted “this is a goodbye kiss from the Iraqi people, dog,” before hurling a shoe at Mr Bush which narrowly missed him.

Showing the soles of shoes to someone is a sign of contempt in Arab culture.

Muntadar al-Zaidi throws a shoe at George Bush (14 December 2008)

Muntadar al-Zaidi was quickly wrestled to the ground and hauled away

With his second shoe, which the president also managed to dodge, Mr Zaidi said: “This is for the widows and orphans and all those killed in Iraq.”

Mr Zaidi, a correspondent for Cairo-based al-Baghdadiya TV, was then wrestled to the ground by security personnel and hauled away.

via BBC NEWS | Middle East | Shoes thrown at Bush on Iraq trip.

Symbolic speech without great harm. Much like wearing a mask to a city commission meeting, however this one was better understood.

He’s now facing several years in prison for his action. I’m wondering what we’ve accomplished in Iraq. Would the effect have been the same if he just screamed that Bush was a dog who was responsible for an invasion and occupation that has killed hundreds of thousands of Iraqis?

While we can’t have people attacking foreign heads of state at will- I think I’d rather have shoes being thrown than bullets. If someone threw their shoes at me- would it end up in court? I doubt it. At some point, we have to realize, that heads of state aren’t gods- and the punishment shouldn’t be any longer than it would be if it happened to you or me.

In the meantime- the longer the sentence, the worse the damage to public perception, and the more power earned by the shoe thrower.

The hurling of a pair of shoes at George Bush by an Iraqi journalist has revealed the full extent of the US president’s unpopularity in the Middle East’s media, with newspapers across the region taking delight in his discomfort.

Most commentators see it as beyond doubt that the treatment meted out to Mr Bush by Iraqi journalist Muntadar al-Zaidi is a just response to the president’s policies in Iraq, although one chides the shoe-thrower for expressing his protest through violence rather than “tough questions”.

via BBC NEWS | Middle East | Mid East press glee at shoe throw.

If Bush is looking to give a pardon before he leaves- he should consider Muntadar at the top of his list. Wasn’t a “Free Iraq” the reason we invaded? And what kind of freedom is there if symbolic speech is punished by years in prison?

In the world of instant communication- these are images that will long be remembered- and it reinforces the power of symbolic gestures. Here is the video:

Now, if we could only have the punks in Dayton trade their shooting for tossing shoes.