Mental health care gets a pink slip in Dayton

This story better have a happy ending.

Right now, a 45 year old service disabled veteran with mental health problems is not in the VA getting treatment, he’s in Sheriff Phil Plummer’s hell hole of a jail. This is where people with misdemeanor crimes end up dead. This is a country that says collectively that 20 veterans committing suicide a day is a problem we’re committed to stopping, and yet, here is a man, who wasn’t trusted with his own shoelaces last week while confined to a psych ward at Grandview, now behind bars for being mentally ill.

People say blame Ronald Reagan for shifts in policy in mental health care that closed down mental hospitals across the country. You can read about the case that was made for deinstutionalization of the mentally ill in this excellent article in the New York Times from 1994: HOW RELEASE OF MENTAL PATIENTS BEGAN or this article from Salon from 2013: Ronald Reagan’s shameful legacy: Violence, the homeless, mental illness either way, the answer is the same, we traded away a broken attempt at government health care into the hands of big pharma who no doubt lobbied their way into the market for their brand of medicine- take a little pill and everything will be ok, which is fine, if the mentally ill people would only act rationally. Which they don’t.

I could take you on a tangent, to go on a rant how this action by the government created our problems with homelessness, the panhandlers, and the growth of our prison population. We’re good at whitewashing our real problems with new solutions that aren’t, as long as it can sound good coming out of a congressman’s mouth- as a paid puppet of which ever lobbying group stands to benefit. The reality is health care for all is, and should be, a fundamental right, guaranteed by the constitution, just like the 2nd amendment guarantees the right for any and all of us, to own a gun. Oh, the irony. Just remember, in the founding fathers days, a gun was a muzzle loaded musket, and “medicine” wasn’t much more than bloodletting and torture at the hands of a “healer” who was really an imposter- pretending to heal while often having more in common with a butcher. It wasn’t pretty.

Legislating based on current best practices depends on also updating legislation based on current best practices. We, as Americans seem to fail to adapt, and we know what Darwin said about those who fail to adapt (or do we?).

Mental health via community control might work if we really did have a foolproof system of safeguards in place. Regular health and welfare home checks would be a start. Mental illness has lots of indicators of oncoming trouble, changes in sleep patterns, weight loss or gain, compulsive behavior, personal hygiene failures, money problems, issues in the workplace, interpersonal tension. Proper monitoring by a trained professional can help catch a crisis before it becomes a disaster, which is where we are now. Jail is not part of an effective treatment regime.

Backstory

Last spring, before my Dad went in the hospital to die three months later, before I became the soul caretaker of my 89 year old mother with dementia, before I found out that a trusted employee and “friend” was neither, I stepped up to help a friend by agreeing to be his power of attorney, both  durable and statutory. I did this while he was in a state mental facility, where he had been transferred after an arrest while manic. This was nothing new for him, he’d been bouncing from ER to ER for treatment of his psychiatric disability for years- totally unaware that as a veteran, he was entitled to not only care at the VA, but a disability pension. As one of his friends, who had a modicum of experience with VA benefits, and the system, as well as a bully pulpit of this blog and connections to people above my pay grade, it became my mission.

If you’ve been religiously reading this blog, you might remember a post last summer about trials and tribulations with both the SSVF program and the Montgomery County Veterans Service Commission. Despite his 3 year plus service to our country in one of the military academies, some bureaucrat misinterpreted the  definition of veteran on their own, without actually checking the law of the land. We’re still fighting a misunderstanding that a veteran is one who served in the military, combat isn’t the defining experience.

Had I not been dogged about my advocacy, we would have had a homeless veteran, and due to the failure of the system, it’s my name that’s on the lease as responsible for the state of his place, not the program that he was entitled to. I have actual skin in the game on this, something I didn’t think was coming with job description. That lease was signed a year ago June- and had things gone according to plan (which they never do) I might have had to hire a house cleaner to get the deposit back, but am now looking at a glazier, a drywall mechanic, a house cleaner and maybe an exterminator, but that’s the least of it.

In that year, I managed to get his social security restored, put money in a STABLE account, get him a car, a phone, a place to live, his VA claim submitted, his criminal charges dropped (with help from a local attorney, Enrique Rivera, who took the case pro bono), and with help of another friend- kept him employed part time and for the most part, out of trouble.

The trouble started last time, by all accounts, when Social Security dropped his disability payments because he was “making too much money” and so he took extra jobs to make up for the shortfall. Because he had to stay awake, he stopped taking his meds- which make him sleepy, and one thing lead to another with his eventual arrest on the side of I75 in Franklin county, as he was pulled over and manically searching through his car for something. The cop thought he was drunk, and threw in a public indecency charge since he had no belt and his butt made an appearance. He was in the jail for 3 days before we found out he’d been arrested and already transferred to the psych unit.

It took almost 6 months to get his Social Security restored, which came with a big payout of almost $9K. It was as if he’d won the lotto. Unfortunately, having this much money in your account- also is a dis qualifier for receiving disability, so I set up a STABLE account to legally hide the funds. This is one thing I can credit Josh Mandel for doing right- creating a savings vehicle for those with disabilities, so they can have a rainy day fund. Good thing too, because it wasn’t long before those that giveth started asking for it back- saying they miscalculated. They want almost half of it back. Never mind, they can’t even deposit it in the right bank account, after 6 moths of telling them they putting it in his account instead of the payee account.

For almost a year he was golden. He paid his boss off early on a loan for a $1200 Toyota, he paid his phone bill to me each month (adding him to my account saved him money and made it easier to manage), his rent was paid for the first six months by SSVF, and PIPP and HEAP made his utility bills manageable. One could almost say that the safety net was working, as long as I was staying on top of everything. But, alas, when the warning signs started, I as well as his friends and co-workers, didn’t catch his fall from grace until it was almost full blown, which took about 30 days.

The crash

Mental illness is never a single issue problem. You break an arm, you put it in a cast. Your brain breaks, it’s got so many symptoms and compounding issues it’s triage- deal with the life threatening situations first, deal with the other issues over time.

The early warning signs in our case were an increase in drinking and the draining of the measured amounts of money I was entrusting to his personal account. Buying weight loss drugs from unreputable sources via the internet should have been one huge disaster siren of a wake up call. The nights out drinking watching the Stanley Cup with friends (to which I was the designated driver) were also a bad idea- but, we thought things were going pretty well, and if a few beers makes someone happy and feel like one of the boys- well, cheers.

Psychiatric drugs and hydroxycut (or whatever he bought) are a bad idea, as is beer. There’s a reason it’s a four letter word. When he asked for me to deposit $300 into his account (he’d been living off his paychecks, and a few hundred every month for a year) saying he’d given $200 to his son, should have been a red flag. That money was gone in a minute as well. The charges were so often, so small, and all over the map it was insane. He actually asked for help from me and his boss  on Wednesday the 21st. We sat in my conference room and tried to map out a plan. The next morning he texted me asking me to take him to the hospital, with a stop at McD’s on the way there. He’d awoken in a pond of his own piss. We went to Tank’s instead, where his eyes were bigger than his ginormous belly- and he over ordered and couldn’t even eat his pancakes. In one of those strange coincidences, his former Eastway case manager sat at the next table. They talked briefly- and we left with the decision that he was feeling better and would just take his meds and go to work.

When it came to the coming paycheck, instead of letting him put it in his personal account, we thought it better to go into the payee and be rationed out. This infuriated him, and rightfully it should have, but, when you’re manic, everything pisses you off.

That was Friday the 23rds paycheck. That weekend, he managed to make it to a bunch of his favorite watering holes. East Dayton dive bars where everyone knows his name, and smoking is generally permitted although illegal. One of the things that endears him to people is his generosity which increases when manic or drunk. He’s worked for tips for years, and so he always tips well. I could see what was happening by logging into his bank account, which was constantly at zero or overdrawn.

Monday, I called his case manager at Eastway. She’s new and I hadn’t met her yet. She, unlike the old case manager, didn’t know who I was, didn’t have that any idea that I was POA- and now claimed that POA wasn’t enough of a justification to talk to me. She needed me to be a guardian. There were supposedly some forms that she needed me to sign- and she was going to be over in the next few days to do that after I emailed her the PDF copies of the POAs that I keep handy in my dropbox.

Next thing I hear is she has gone to his house, and pink slipped him ( a medical 72 hour hold for evaluation), instead of taking him to the VA as I’d discussed with her, she took him to Grandview. Newsflash- sources tell me that Premier/Miami Valley Hospital no longer accepts psych patients via pink slip, putting additional stain on the already inadequate system.

A friend of his who happened to be there when the case manager and cops showed up, helped keep things calm, and he went willingly. After the door was locked, the friend decided to break in to shut the a/c units off- and instead of going out the way he came in- left the front door unlocked. So now, I had to find the keys. A trip to Grandview that night, I came up empty handed, when the nurses said he didn’t have them. I dropped off my POAs. He didn’t want to talk to me or have a visitor- I got the one finger salute through the safety window.

His car was in a bar parking lot, about a mile from his house. How he got home the night before, I still don’t know. The car had been having problems keeping the battery charged since a welfare driver hit the drivers side outside his work and somehow secrewed up the drivers door just enough that the door ajar light would keep draining the battery that really needed replacing. I had it towed to Carl’s body shop- to get that fixed, the A/C fixed (he had been complaining) and to possibly fix the front bumper since it was held on with duct tape. This was also to keep the car out of his hands until the drunk driving wasn’t going to be an issue.

A trashed kitchen serves as an indication that menal health intervntion might be a good idea

Signs of mental illness. This is his kitchen

By Wednesday night I get a call, an apology and that they had his keys I come get them and  go to the house and get disgusted. Clothes everywhere, trash everywhere, food everywhere. His mattress is standing on edge. The place is worthy of a haz mat suit. I try to find some clothes, put things sort of right, and make sure his only item of real value- a 55″ TV I bought him in a January sale for $300 was still there- in the box (he’d not gotten it out because, well, he’s mentally ill and couldn’t ask for help). I find some clothes, bring them home and wash them- along with everything I’m wearing- as I head directly to my shower, fearing bugs.

The next day, I bring the clothes and “snacks” because, well, a man’s gotta have snacks when he’s locked up. He wants to talk this time. He’s not wearing shoe laces- because- well, they don’t trust him not to kill himself. I talk about transferring to the VA. I’d emailed all the honchos Monday night when I heard he’d been taken to Grandview. I’d talked to the head of social work, who told me to ask their transfer team to coordinate things- the only problem is- Grandview’s people didnt’ want to talk to me either- again saying my POA wasn’t enough- I needed to be his guardian. No one from the VA came out to evaluate him while ill. No one from Eastway was returning my calls. Thursday, just after noon, while I’m talking on the phone to the people at the VA trying to get him to go directly thee- he walks into my office, and sits down. They’d given him bus tokens and sent him on his way.

Yesterday, no shoelaces. Today, bus tokens and a boot out the door. No, he didn’t want to go to the VA. I drive him home. He doesn’t want me to come in. He had confessed the night before that he’d also put a hole in the drywall. I ask if I can arrange for people to come help clean it up, he says he’ll do it himself.

I forgot to mention that when I got the keys, I was also told that he’d been to a bar in Centerville on Sunday night, before he was at the bar where he’d left his car. He’d run up a $35 tab and left his drivers license and debit card there. I should go and get them- and tip at least 20% because he’d done what he did. His tab had one sandwich and beers, shots, well drinks- he was definitely drunk when he left to to the other bar where he had gotten in a fight in the parking lot, smoked some weed and also lost his smart phone that wasn’t even paid off yet.

Friday, we go to look at his car and see if we can find his phone in it. It’s a moving waste basket. No phone. The car also has a new dent on the rear passenger quarter panel that he says he did.  I get him a new SIM card and hand him my parents old flip phone with his number on it. Keeping tabs on him was critical. How else could I find out if he was ready to go to the VA? He’s not going in to work just yet- he’s not ready, and neither are his co-workers, who are all rooting for him.

Friday night- he’s burning through his $20. Saturday night he calls from an Oregon District bar, he’s drunk, he’s a a drunk, he’s happy, and he ran up a $35 tab and left his license and debit card again. I get this message at 12:30 am- and go to get him. He’s not there. I know the bar owner and he can’t find him either- and promised me he’d 86 him from the bar in the future. I pay the tab. Can’t find him. Go home. Next day I go over to his house at 1pm to meet the people who were going to help him clean the place. The plan was to gather all the clothes- go to a laundromat and do them all at once, while others cleaned and organized what was left. But, as I go up the street on the way there- I get a text-

helper: Nevermind David this guy is definitely not interested in any help he’s a little upset that things go the way they do and obviously that’s a conversation you and him need to have but we attempted we had everything ready to do this and not going to go into a situation where it is definitely not wanted on that person’s part sorry
David Esrati: Sorry. I’m here now. I thought you were going to be here at 1
helper: Well I stopped by a few minutes early to see what exactly we were going to need so that we would have everything but he was not open or agreeable to having us do anything

I knock on the door- he comes out screaming at me. He’d taken his beard trimmer and cut a swath from his lower lip straight down to his chin, giving him a wild fu manchu short beard- there was a hunk of green snot above his upper lip- he was shaking, he was mad, he threw things at my minivan, he told me to leave or he was going to punch me- there was already a recliner on the parking pad that he’d thrown out of the house, I got in my vehicle to leave as fast as possible- dialing 911 as I turned out of his alley.

I wanted the police to come and pink slip him again. He’d threatened me- he wasn’t trusted with shoelaces in the last week- what’s the magic phrase “are you a threat to yourself or others”- I thought he’d met all of those conditions. The first cruiser meets me around the corner, an older male cop and short female. They start assessing- and call for the cavalry. In the next ten minutes no less than 10 cops show up- including a few sergeants, and a guy in plain clothes who identifies himself as a hostage negotiator. They mill about. Talk to me, talk to each other. Call in to central. At one point, the pissed off veteran screams down the alley- and throws the recliner for effect- he’s now shirtless- we hear something that sounds like a baseball bat beating the shit out of something twice.

The cops tell me I’m not the guardian. They don’t think they have grounds to violate his constitutional rights. They don’t even go up to talk to him. This is crisis management at half-a-blocks length. I offer to walk up and try to talk to him- so they can observe, to which they tell me I’d be the instigator- and it would be my fault. They say crisis care can pink slip him- I call them, they talk to the cops- they say the cops need to make the call. They drive off.

I call 911 and report their inaction. I tell them specifically, on record, that if anything happens to him in the next 24 hours, I’ll sue them to kingdom come. Sorry, not our problem, we’re the sheriffs bitches, call DPD. I ask to speak to a supervisor- they take my number.

I’m back at the office cleaning my a/c unit. I get a call from one of his co-workers. He’s walking down Wayne Avenue in boots, his underpants and a hockey helmet with “something that looks like a weapon, slung across his back.” I call 911 again- and head that way. I spot him changing on the street corner at Park Drive. The hockey helmet is on the ground, he’s pulling on a shirt, he has a backpack, I’m on the phone to 911 when the supervisor finally calls me back as I start to talk to the first officer that’s shown up. He’s moved around the corner to a parking lot and is talking to his co-worker- I have the hockey helmet in my car. They talk tot he supervisor on my phone, we end the call, the hostage negotiator shows back up- and they start a conversation with the mad man. At one point I step out where he can see me and he immediately starts going ape shit- the cop tells me to step away. I go get the hockey helmet- go back and set it where they can see it and leave.

Final report from the coworker, the cops thought it was ok for him to walk around in his underpants with a hockey helmet- he hadn’t broken the law. A woman can legally walk around topless too. They took him to his bicycle.

Bicycle? What bicycle? He had said he wanted me to get him a bicycle, for exercise. The last one I got him was when he was in the halfway house after the arrest- and it got lost in one of his pink slip visits that time. Turns out, he’d pawned the TV in the box for $200 on Saturday afternoon, and got a bike- and probably some cash to blow before he’d run up the bar tab in the OD.

Monday, I’m calling Eastway and the VA. No one is answering. I’m emailing. I’m worried that he’s going to end up either dead, or in jail again.

You already know he’s in jail. Happened around 10:30 am on Tuesday July 4th. I still can’t find any police reports from any of the encounters. He started with an M-4 and M-5 and a $1000 total bail. By later in the day, it said he had a whole bunch of charges:

bond.

# COURT CASE NUMBER CHARGE DESCRIPTION CHARGE DEGREE CHARGE STATUS JUDGE BAIL TYPE BAIL AMOUNT DISPOSITION DISP DATE NEXT COURT DATE
1 MONT-DMC () MENACING M4 WAITING COURT ACTION *Not Entered* TEN PERCENT 500 *Not Entered* 07/05/17 01:45 PM
2 MONT-DMC () DISORDERLY CONDUCT M4 CHARGE CLEARED *Not Entered* TEN PERCENT 500 RELEASED BY PROSECUTOR 7/5/2017 07/05/17 01:45 PM
3 MONT-DMC () MENACING M4 WAITING COURT ACTION *Not Entered* TEN PERCENT 500 *Not Entered* 07/05/17 01:45 PM
4 MONT-DMC () AGGRAVATED MENACING M1 WAITING COURT ACTION *Not Entered* TEN PERCENT 2500 *Not Entered* 07/05/17 01:45 PM
5 MONT-DMC () AGGRAVATED MENACING M1 WAITING COURT ACTION *Not Entered* TEN PERCENT 2500 *Not Entered* 07/05/17 01:45 PM
1

All of these aren’t crimes, they’re signs of mental illness.

And I, despite being assigned duties of Power of Attorney, am helpless in being able to do anything.

Bailing him out, won’t put him directly in treatment, and frankly, I might be on the receiving end of an ass kicking instead of a thank you.

Yesterday, I called everyone I could to try to get an intervention. No one from the jail staff picked up a call- from the medical people to the director, to the duty sergeant. The Dayton Chief was in meetings, Col. Ecton didn’t call me back. The VA tried to send a person to the jail- a “Veteran Justice Outreach Coordinator” tried to see him, but was thwarted by the shift change, and would be trying again this a.m. No one returned calls from Eastway either. Several hours of my time wasted, all while also dealing with no a/c at home or my rental (I’m looking at $1750 to fix both- and while my tenant had a/c last night- I woke up at 4:30 sweating my rear off- and wanting to share this story of woe).

I had thoughts several times of calling the national veterans health care line. I also thought of sending an email to the head of the VA. In the past, I’ve actually gotten a response from former VA Chief Bob McDonald, but the other Donald fired him.

We’ll see what today brings, but I hold little hope for help for this veteran.

Had things worked out right, I would have thought that the first time I reached out to the VA saying there was a veteran on suicide watch in a local hospital, an action team would have sprung into action to make sure all is done to safeguard that vet.

Why am I still an optimist?

When will America realize jails make lousy psych wards? That health insurance isn’t the same as health care? And, mental health is actually treatable and shouldn’t be considered a stigma, but a measure of society values- in how we treat and take care of those who are less fortunate.

To anyone of you who read all 4310 words of this TL/DR post, thank you. Do me a favor- please leave a comment, even if it’s just one word. America, we have a problem, and it’s crazy to think it’s going to go away by itself. Thank you.

Pray for a veteran.

Act II- update, 3:30 AM Saturday July 8, 2017

Late in the day Thursday, I get a call from the DPD officer who specializes in mental health emergencies. She, and a case worker from Eastway had been called to the veteran’s home early on Tuesday July 4th. He’d broken practically every window in the place- with his bare hands. He’d threatened the neighbors screaming “you go get your weapons, I’ll go get mine” and the place is an even bigger mess. Now, his box spring is sitting outside, one air  conditioner is next to the house- with broken expansion panels. The other A/C unit is in the house- among the squalor.

  • The bathroom
  • The TV- shrine of OTC weight loss
  • Start a fire?
  • Who needs A/C when you break every window?
  • Gumbo for the flies.
  • The kitchen floor.
  • Broken glass- not sure if the bars were bent before.
  • “This” is mental illness?

The cop and social worker go looking for him- and find him half dressed in a nearby park, covered in his own blood. He’s raging. They pink slip him again. The officers get him into a cruiser, where he does the classic crazy “bang your head against the windows” as we’ve seen in the bad behavior reality show “Cops”- of course, new cruisers now have back seats built for this- you can literally hose out the back of the car, and the whole interior is basically ballistic plastic.

They take him to Miami Valley Hospital- to get treated for the bleeding- and to admit. He’s sedated in the ER- and then things get murky, he’s not admitted. Somehow, the hospital thinks he’s good to go and begin to release him. Some officers who had pink slipped him either that day or previously, decide he doesn’t need to be out in public and arrest him and take him to the jail, where he is placed in solitary.

This info, at around 5:30 pm is the first accounting of what happened. I was still unable to pull up the police report online. Got it Friday morning, after I’d gone to the house myself to inspect. The house visit had me feeling queasy. He’d tried to start a fire on the stove top. There was a pan of gumbo on the kitchen floor festering with flies. Ceiling tiles are pulled down. The bathroom is trashed, the sink full of some brackish water. On top of the old analog TV are neatly arranged the OTC weight loss pills that probably contributed to this disaster- they are the only things in the place that seem orderly- as if placed on a shrine for worship.

I go back to the office, wait for my video guy to show up late, and begin working on the paperwork to get guardianship so I can bail him out AND direct him to treatment, since none of the people who’ve been involved in his “treatment plan” seem to have his best interests in mind. I make calls. I’ve pulled almost every person of influence I know into my wheelhouse for help. State Reps, lawyers, my neighbor who used to be the head shrink for crisis care, the PR maven at ADAMHS (our local health and human services admin org). Calls are coming in on two phone lines, but not the ones I need.

We go out and shoot a video- my video guy, who is from a small town in Indiana, can’t quite fathom how this happens. When we get back, he’s warning me to check for bugs, he found one on himself. I go to shower and dress. It’s 11:30 and I still hadn’t had breakfast. The clothes go directly into the wash.

Armed with a stack of papers, I head to the courthouse. Probate is on the second floor- the woman at the desk starts her hands dancing through the papers- I’d put his current case number on all of them- mistake number one. She’s got whiteout tape to fix that. However, I need $50 for the emergency filing and $350 for the full guardianship- which has to be filed at the same time. Here’s another huge stack of papers. I’m going to have to get a background check (but not first thing), bonded, and, btw, you need to have him evaluated by a medical doctor before we can accept the paperwork.

Before I go to Eastway to bow and pray that his doc will sign off on this, I go up to Judge Henderson’s court and talk to his bailiff. She’s compassionate, kind, helpful, but the judge is out until 2- and, frankly, he heard this case on Wednesday and has already entered preliminary charges, it’s unlikely he’ll make any changes to bail or order treatment etc. unless there is a plan in place to manage this mess.

On to Eastway. The skys are darkening, and as I sit in the waiting room to meet his caseworker who wouldn’t talk to me over the last 2 weeks, a security guard walks by saying, “It must be about to rain, DirectTV is out.” Just as the social worker and her boss come out to greet me, the torrential downpour begins. The social worker is wearing dark clip on sunglasses over her prescription glasses, inside. Who is she? Men in Black?

They are very nice. She was out at the house on the 4th, has no clue why MVH dropped the ball. Agree that he doesn’t belong in jail. His Doc isn’t in today, but his old one is. He liked his old doc. I go in to see her, and she’s this sweet woman who says “beautiful” a lot as I describe what I’ve been trying to do to help this veteran over the last year. I had mistakenly filled out the form for the doc in the pile of papers – why not play doctor like on TV? No one else has effectively cared for him. She reads it over, nods, but says, “I can’t sign this because I haven’t seen him lately” and asks me what to do? Me. The amateur social worker/friend/legal beagle wannabe/crisis care interventionalist without a paycheck, me.

I say, you could sign it- knowing from experience and interviewing me and your social worker who saw him Tuesday as reference, or you could (hold for the long shot, pie in the sky request) “go see him in the jail and evaluate him.” She says, well, “I can do that, my incoming patient can see a nurse.”

Damn. I love this woman with her “beautifuls” and her eastern European lilt in her voice. She says to say hi to my neighbor who used to run Crisis Care- and that she missed him. I’m thinking I just hit the lottery. I’ll go back to my office and fill out the half inch of paper, while she evaluates him and by the time she gets done, I’ll be done, run to the courthouse, file and miraculously, the judge will act, and I’ll be able to haul him out on bail and have him taken to the VA for inpatient care.

An hour later, as I finish the paperwork, except for getting the form from his son agreeing that I should be the guardian (I’ve been communicating through his brother, who is also suffering from the same bipolar diagnosis- as is the son), the case managers supervisor calls. “We saw him, he was lucid, he said he didn’t want you to be his guardian, she’s not signing the paper.”

Meltdown. The energy generator that’s been burning in my belly to get him out of the “criminal justice system” (and yes, that expression is either ironic as hell or the best oxymoron since “military intelligence” or “jumbo shrimp”) and into our third world nation mental health care system just got encased in concrete and doused with as much water has fallen from the skys of Dayton this last week.

I failed. The imaginary system failed too. Despite the facts according to the Doctors own caseworker- that he should have been in a psych ward, and that he’s in jail, with restraining orders from his neighbors, and that he’s done enough damage to clean out all the money I’d managed to put away to help him do something like get his own place- psycho boy gets to call the shots, and I’m not the designated hitter.

I could get mad at the doc. I could get mad at myself for not doing the guardianship when he was healthy, but hell, I thought that was what the health care POA was for. No one told me it wouldn’t be enough to manage his treatment when he’s obviously ill.

I talk to my friend, his now former boss, who tells me I’ve done more for him than anyone else- by getting his SS money back, by setting up a STABLE account, and most importantly, getting him into the VA system, but, I’m not the first to give up on him or get blamed for man/boys bad behavior. “Just clean up the mess and let it go” is his advice.

The brother thanks me. He understands my position and plan that’s being formed for me.

First steps: reglaze the windows, get the trash hauled out, get the clothes gathered, laundered and packed. Fix the broken stuff in the apartment- the stove, the ceiling tiles, the miniblinds, the kitchen cabinet drawer that’s in pieces. Put everything in storage, turn in the proverbial key (no one has it right now- or at least is able to get it). Pay the storage bill until his money runs out and turn over POA to someone that feels like being the next punching bag.

A friend who owns a glass shop has a guy coming on Saturday (today), another friend, a veteran, who calls himself a “Debris-ologist” will be there at 9am to start the haz mat removal. His line always makes me laugh, “satisfaction guaranteed or twice your junk back”.

My stomach, which is usually made of iron, is churning and feels like the stuff in a lava lamp. This isn’t what’s best for the veteran, but, I’ve got my 89 year old mother with dementia, a business, employees- that have to come first. There is a long rambling message on my home answering machine from him, thanking me for everything I’ve done for him- and that he didn’t mean anything he said while manic. He left that last week after the first pink slip. Maybe I’ll make it into an MP3 and post it- if I can stand listening to it anytime soon. The words of anyone who is radically bipolar all come with footnotes, that may or may not contradict their actions, or even what they are saying in a span of a voicemail.

I also sent a scathing email to the “team” at the VA, suggesting that their failure to intervene will not go quietly. I referenced this initial post. I told them video was coming. I’ve written the head of the VA- McDonald before, and I’ll write Dr. David Shulkin soon. Congressmen and Senators will be contacted, hell, I’ll even tweet Trump (I’ve already talked to my friend Rob Scott who ran his campaign in Ohio.) This will be someones story to tell to use to dismantle the VA, even though I believe that the care I’ve gotten, that my father got, is as good or better than the Cleveland Clinic (dad used to be seen there as part of Kaiser Permanente in Cleveland).

If he dies in custody, or anything else happens to him, rest assured, I’ll find an ambulance chaser lawyer and make him wealthy. The documentation- the call to 911 AFTER the cops wouldn’t even talk to him, the steps I took, all make for a very sympathetic jury. Maybe his son will end up owning the Fairgrounds after Premier has to pay for their mistakes. Remember, I wear a nice watch, that I bought with part of the settlement with the city over Mike Turner’s arrest of me while I peacefully protested their attempts to limit public speech at meetings. I wear it, to remind myself, that we always have time for free speech (and because at 36, I still thought that you could give yourself a medal for fighting city hall and “winning”).

There will probably be a third act in this tragedy. Sadly. Stay tuned.

 

 

Why politicians make lousy real estate developers and vice versa

Other peoples money. That’s the key to real estate, and especially real estate deals managed by those we elect who are supposed to be working in our best interest.

We’ve see stupid deals in Dayton for a long time, and they seem to slide along into oblivion in the mind of the public. No one got hoisted by their petards on the Arcade deal, or the Arcade tower, or the Wayne Avenue Kroger, or…. the list gets really long.

Let’s just say this: politicians raise bad real estate deals to a new art form. And locally, there are plenty of failures. However, it would appear that the deals by the Dayton Public School Board of Education may take the cake. This is a long video. But, it should make it pretty clear that there are serious questions about the deals they’ve done, the ones they’ve refused to do- and who’s been driving the deals- and questions about his entanglements.

We look closely at the site downtown on E. First Street where Patterson Co-op once stood, a greenfield, ready for development, and the site on Wyoming at Alberta where Patterson Kennedy Elementary once stood- near Miami Valley Hospital and the University of Dayton.

We’ve spent the last two months pursuing this story- and trying to figure out why Dr. Adil Baguirov seems to be the only member of the Board of Ed- including the school superintendent, that knows what’s been going on when it comes to these deals- and we’re wondering if this is by design.

If the schools wanted to optimize the value of these vacant properties, the key factor would be what property taxes will the development generate to the district in addition to the sale price- nothing else.

Watch the video. We’ll post supporting documents later.

Here is “Dirty Deals Done Dirt Cheap” featuring the Dayton Public Schools Board of Education, the Dayton and Montgomery County Port Authority, the former DPS operations Chief John Carr, the DPS board attorney, Jyllian Bradshaw and CareSource.

It takes time and money to do videos and research like this. If you value exposing Dirty Deals Done Dirt Cheap, please consider making a donation: www.esrati.com/donate.

Fallout from Issue 9 passing?

Starting January 1, 2017, Dayton residents will pay 2.5% income tax up from 2.25% income tax. Believe it or not, the residents actually voted to raise their own income tax believing any one of several lies:

  • It’s for the kids, because we are going to fund the “pre-school promise” of free pre-school for all.
  • We’re going to keep essential city services and add 20 police officers.
  • The tax is mostly paid by people who don’t live in the city so it’s like legalized theft- taxation without representation.

With this increase we pay the same as Oakwood. We don’t have their schools, their housing values, their public safety forces, but we pay the same. This causes a problem for Oakwood, who used to survive on the .25% gap between rich CEO’s living in Oakwood and working in Dayton that they could collect- now- all the tax goes to Dayton- leaving Oakwood to either raise their income tax- or stop forgiving all of the income tax paid to outside jurisdictions- or raise property taxes. Brookville has already said they won’t forgive 1% of any other jurisdictions- so if you live in Brookville and work in Dayton- you’ll be paying a whopping 3.5%

Just remember that John Kasich lowered your state income tax .25% because he’s such a great guy- and stopped giving money back to all the local governments- which has put them in this bind.

As to Dayton- the quasi-governmental “Learn to Earn” people who are just charter schools in disguise will be getting somewhere around $4 .5 million a year for the next 8 years. They are allowed to keep 20% for overhead. They were funded by a mysterious PAC which didn’t file their post election report- but their pre-election report showed that this effort was well funded by all the people who manage to not pay real-estate taxes. We will see if the BOE posts their report late tomorrow.

The average donation in the pre-election report was $1873.00.

Connecting the dots?

When I saw that East End Community Services just announced a big building for a new pre-school, I said- ah ha, thank you Issue 9.

East End Community Services is seeking financing to build an $8.3 million, 44,000-square-foot child and family learning center at the intersection of Steve Whalen Boulevard and Wyoming Street in the Twin Towers neighborhood — on land that could be donated to the nonprofit….

The learning center project would consolidate existing East Dayton Head Start classrooms and services done now at several sites, and if completed would grow the group’s space to seven classrooms for infants through pre-schoolers, with the children’s programs specifically managed by Miami Valley Child Development Centers.

Source: East End Community Services proposes $8.3M expansion –

Since there are no restrictions on these tax dollars, could this be one of the places Learn to Earn will spend the money? And- will there be parity across the river?

Adding police and cutting police

Miami Valley Hospital has been a benefactor of Historic South Park and the Fairgrounds/Rubicon neighborhood for the last 15 or so years. Subscribing to the idea that if the neighborhood around them is a slum- and riddled with crime, they may have a hard time attracting nurses and doctors to come to the hospital late at night (need an example- see Good Sam).

They funded the Genesis project and rebuilt the Fairgrounds neighborhood- subsidizing the housing for their employees- and making promises that the houses wouldn’t become student housing. Of course, they lied on the second part- as multiple homes have become very profitable Single Room Occupancy housing for some landlords who seem to be exempt from city law.

They also funded 2 community based police officers- actual Dayton Cops who only worked our neighborhoods. That was a big part of why Historic South Park was able to turn around- and be one of the few neighborhoods where property values actually increased- while the rest of the county tanked in the aftermath of the Wall Street real estate meltdown.

They have recently stated that they will stop funding our CBP’s in March. Why pay for Dayton cops- when:

  1. Dayton voters just voted to pay for more cops
  2. MVH has it’s own private police force and chief who have all the same powers as Dayton Cops- but don’t have to report to anyone elected or be subject to the same sunshine rules on their actions.

The neighborhood is devastated by the news. The new police chief at MVH- another former Dayton Cop- is thinking he just got more men under his command- which in a cops mind is like getting a bigger gun.

As if we didn’t notice…

And the myth that the higher income tax will continue to be paid by the businesses in Dayton who have employees that live outside the city- is all well and fine, except we’ve seen the growth of jobs at Austin Landing and Pentagon Parkway- where there is no income tax for white collar workers. In the long run, that 2.5% vs 0% figure is great for developers who want to build office parks on farm land- and is horrible for a city trying to fight its way back.

The worst part about it is that to encourage companies to locate in Dayton, the only tool left to entice them is handing over property tax abatement that adversely affect Dayton Public Schools- which are the number one reason why people with kids move out of the city if they can- leaving the district full of kids in poverty- that require more wrap-around services to effectively educate. It’s a vicious circle- and Dayton can’t seem to learn from its mistakes.

There are solutions, but they won’t come from City Hall, or other elected leaders. In the next few weeks, you’ll learn about some of them here, on esrati.com

A new tool for successful “Community Based Policing”

South Park has been lucky. For at least the last 20 years, we’ve had a “Community Based Police Officer” or two- paid for by the good folks at Premier Health Partners/Miami Valley Hospital.

Since we’re a Historic District, and they can’t just bulldoze South Park- they figured they better make sure it’s safe, so their employees and patients aren’t scared away- or car jacked on the way to the hospital. At first, we even had a social worker working with the CBP’s as we like to refer to them- to work out issues where the police may not be the best solution. It was an attempt to do creative problem solving. It wasn’t the right answer.

Since the effort began, things have changed thanks to the Internet, Facebook and a strong neighborhood organization. A private group started on FB to discuss and report crime within the ‘hood. Now when your car got broken into- you’d know instantly if you were a single target- or if they had walked a few streets on the way to your car. People would then review their security cams. One of our neighbors who was adamantly against video surveillance- ended up finding out who totaled her boyfriend’s car thanks to a neighbor who caught it on video. We could share mugshots of the people who were police suspects- we now know who to be wary of, and what they are wanted for. But, even with increased information, we were still not getting the results we wanted.

There was one petty thief who kept returning to the neighborhood to live with his mom between stints in prison, and like clockwork, we knew when he was out as garage burglaries picked up. He solved our problem by finally OD’ing on heroin. One problem solved. Unfortunately now, he might be saved by a police officer with Narcan. I’m not so sure I’m a fan of Narcan unless the very next step is always a year-long treatment/rehabilitation program that’s inpatient and that works. Otherwise, we’re just recycling our problems.

This last crime spree was getting increasingly annoying. You’ve seen the post about our neighborhood cancer home, and there have been a few other stories in the news. Enter the most successful crime-fighting tool we’ve found: a former Dayton cop who knows the system inside and out.

He has served as an advocate for the community, collecting all the information about the crimes, the perps, their records, their probation status- and working with the police and the prosecutors to make the case as strong as possible. You know those cork boards of criminal families you see in cop shows- he’s building them and getting input from residents on who is related to who, and who their friends or “running buddies” are. This all takes time.

He’s given the neighborhood the information to write letters to judges just before the case comes to trial. He’s worked with police and the probation department to do spot bed checks on juveniles with court-imposed curfews. With prosecutors, police and probation officials all overworked, he’s served as their criminal concierge, serving up the bad guys for maximum effect when they get to court. The focus on outcomes being reported back in a timely fashion, makes it clear to all that this is now a neighborhood that won’t accept plea bargains, light sentences or too many chances for the low-lifers who are making our neighborhood suffer.

So far, we’ve got about 8 bad actors getting hit hard with the full book. We’re still looking at going into mediation with one crime house to see what it will take to just get them to leave the area. Others are being tossed by landlords who “didn’t know.” Never before have we had such a good flow of information about the courts, the police, the perps and the outcomes.

Here is the secret to successful community based policing in summary:

  • Have a well-defined neighborhood with good boundaries.
  • Have a strong neighborhood organization, with a great online communication structure.
  • Assign at least two police officers to the neighborhood, who come to meetings, share a private number and are highly visible and well known to the neighbors.
  • Provide information on criminal records, mug shots, good descriptions of the problem children to the community. Make it clear who the police think are suspects, and ask for help with license plates, hours of activity, what they are wearing etc.
  • Have a coordinator who knows the police, probation, judges, court system, prosecutors working to collect and organize everything from insurance claims, video surveillance footage, records, and serve as a communications hub between all parties.
  • Monitor judges’ and the prosecutors’ performance, always asking for maximum sentences, and minimal plea bargaining.

In the last month, we’ve seen probation revoked, landlords evicting, cases consolidated and coordinated and even new efforts with “surge patrolling” by the police department, “bait” programs to catch petty thieves stealing, and a heightened level of alert, resulting in more people calling to report even the smallest of criminal behavior, or when we hear gunshots. Things that used to be ignored, now go reported, and have led to arrests.

Ideally, it shouldn’t be this difficult to live in the City of Dayton. Oakwood residents never have to commit this amount of time and energy to providing for their public safety. It’s unfortunate that the focus of our leaders hasn’t been a clean, safe community for decades, but that’s the first level of building strong communities. The foundation. The one that can’t be ignored- ever.

In the next few weeks we’ll find out if more judges respond to these improved tactics and how it changes things in South Park. Will the criminal element that lives and steals here learn that crime won’t pay in South Park anymore? To be continued…

 

A project for Congressman Turner: give the VA the tools they need

The half a hammer award to congress for failing to give the VA the tools to do the job

Our congress is willing to give our military weapons they don’t want, but won’t give our VA the tools they need to treat our vets. For this- here’s the half a $600 hammer award.

I’m writing this from room 124A, on 3-S of the Dayton VA.

I came here Monday night with a severe case of kidney stones. As a veteran with a service connected health issue, I’m guaranteed health care. I’ve only used the VA for the last 7 or so years- despite having coverage via my partner, Teresa who works for Elsevier. She even reminded me that she could take me to MVH- which is five blocks away instead of to the VA which is five miles away. When you are in serious pain- the idea of closer counts.

I told her I preferred the VA- because all my medical records are there (electronic)- that the people at the VA care about me and that I trust them. 24 hours later- I know I made the right decision. Partially, because instead of being sent home after the stones were removed (less than 14 hours after arrival) I’m still here- taking it easy, with a catheter still in place. At the Valley- they would have been sending me home- because the insurance company said to.

The doctors that worked on me were all fantastic, from the experienced calm hands of Dr. Potts in ER, to the follow up twin geek residents who stepped in after to assess, to the Johns Hopkins trained urologist who ultimately put in a stent, removed the stones and made sure that I wouldn’t be waiting the next two weeks for a very big stone to pass.

But, despite all this stellar work- and support from nurses, anesthesiologists, social workers and even the legal guy who helped fill out the directives before surgery, there is one small issue that needs to be addressed, now, not later.

The urologist is part of a husband and wife team- he wrote the textbook on non-invasive surgery for urological (I don’t remember the rest of it… and my phone was dead, so no picture to show) – and she was the one who answered all the questions and discussed my options. They came here two years ago to help straighten out the department, which apparently was in trouble. I didn’t know this, but there is an international shortage of urologists. They are getting ready to leave Dayton- for points elsewhere. She talked about wanting to be working on troops suffering from extreme pelvic trauma in the first 4 hours after getting hit by an IED- but that the Army won’t take her at 51, she also talked about the fact that military medical system doesn’t integrate as well with the VA as they could- or should, but that’s not the real sticking point.

The fact is, while they can put my stent in- when it’s due to come out in a few (a) weeks– they don’t have the technology to take it out. In fact, they haven’t had it for the entire two years they’ve been here. It seems the VA only bought one machine– and didn’t buy the service contract that guarantees a replacement when this one needs fixed. Apparently, they also don’t have the money to fix it, so instead, they are going to send me to a private physician to remove it- and have the VA pay. She’s worked in for-profit hospitals and said that she always had the tools she needed because she made them a lot of money. Apparently, to our congressman, it’s more important to write laws that guarantee business for the insurance companies that would have sent me home this afternoon- or to the defense contractors that sell us weapons systems that the services don’t need or want like the C-27J or the M1 Abrams tank. Yep, defense contractors and insurance companies get preference over taking care of your veterans because defense contractors and health insurance companies donate lots of money to our congressman’s campaign- and the VA docs don’t.

If Congressman Turner really wanted to do something to help the VA- instead of creating a media circus over some missing records or a senile dentist gone bad- he’d be asking the docs what tools they need to do their jobs and making sure they had them.

We’ve all heard of $600 hammers- well, in this case, they’ve given my urological heroes half a hammer- the one to pound the nail in, but not the one to pull it out. With election time coming up- and 2 weeks before my stent needs to come out- let’s see if our congressman can work for the people who used to work for the base that he swears his candidacy on.

Photo of David Esrati in VA hospital bed recovering from kidney stone removal surgery

Have iPhone, internet access will publish.

And to all my champions at the VA- if there are other stories like this- where you aren’t given the tools to do your job for our veterans properly, now’s the time to speak up. Please go to a public computer- like at a library, or use a friends home computer or a mobile device at a non-government hot spot- and leave a comment on this post. You don’t have to use your real name or email address, just be honest. Tell us about what Congress isn’t getting for our vets- and let’s let our congress earn their jobs back by getting it to you – before November 6.

Thank you for all you do. Despite not having the proper tools– you have the heart that’s missing in the cold world of corporate medicine- and that’s why I choose you first. Because when most of you say “Thank you for your service” I can say the same thing back.

And, special thanks to Director Costie, who even made a bed side visit and is currently investigating this situation as well. My bet is that he gets the stent remover back in service before our congressmen does.

UPDATE

29 aug 10:12 am The head of surgery stopped by with an update- the post is getting read. They have three of the scopes they need- 2 are out for repair. The docs don’t like working without a spare. They also have plenty of a different kind of scope- a cytoscope, which will work to take my stent out. No need to go to private practice. The surgeons want a more expensive type of equipment- that isn’t in the budget- and there are some disagreements on brand- but this is internal politics. All of the equipment was bought within the last 2 years and most of it was put in service last August. They are being careful stewards of our tax dollars. I had this update done once with the right names- but lost my internet connection- via my phone, so it got lost. They still are hoping to add wi-fi to the rooms, but that isn’t crucial to the provision of health care.

Premier Health Partners to kill Carmen’s Deli

July 29, 2009, while the economy was in the Dumpster and 5th/3rd was in the process of leaving the old Cit Fed building, my friend Haitham Iman made the gutsy move and took over a space that had failed repeatedly as a deli and put his life savings on the line- here is what I wrote:

I’ve known Haitham Iman for years. I’m sure many of you who have attended events at the David Ponitz center, Building 12, of Sinclair know him too.

He’s the always smiling, nice guy, who makes sure your experience is exceptional when it comes to the food at events.

Now, he’s the guy on the grill- only it’s his grill, in his and his lovely wife Carmen’s new restaurant on the first floor of the 5th/3rd Tower, in the old Swisher’s Too location….

via Carmen’s Deli now open- go see Haitham.

He started with 3 employees; now, he has 6. He’s worked hard to build his business and a following, despite being in a building that had its tenants abandon ship, the building go into foreclosure and then be sold for dimes on the dollar to one of the richest, largest companies left in Dayton: Premier Health Partners, owners of Miami Valley Hospital, etc.

Premier is now about to fill the tower with 900 employees, news that made Haitham leap for joy when he first heard the news. His lease ran through 2014 and he looked forward to 900 new customers right on top of his little dining spot. First assurances were that no one would lose out, but, then the powers that be changed the plan, serving Carmen’s Deli with an eviction notice. It seems Premier wants to feed its own people by building a cafeteria – right on the first floor. They offered Haitham a management position, which was what he had before he took charge of his future and started his version of the American Dream. He turned them down- politely I’m sure.

Premier also offered him a chance to take over the old Kitty’s/Thomato’s/Mediterra/piano bar, etc. space- but it requires about a $300K build-out which is beyond Haitham’s reach. My sources say they shopped the same space to other restaurateurs in town but offered the build-out- and still didn’t get takers.

Most of us would think, how can they boot him if he has a lease? If he tried to walk on them, they’d go after him like rabid dogs. Premier’s lawyers claim that his lease didn’t transfer after the foreclosure and they have the right to boot him now. His customers are outraged, some have even offered their legal services pro-bono to help him out. He’s a David without a slingshot getting his lunch eaten by a Goliath who could take care of this within the rounding error on their books. But, he’s at their mercy.

Precedent

Jimmy Brandell was a thorn in Miami Valley’s side for years. He bought the bar at the corner of Brown and Wyoming streets before the hospital had visions of a grand campus. First it was the second home of the Walnut Hills (first home is now Tank’s) and then when he split with his partner he renamed it Jimmie’s Cornerstone Tavern. He built his business with Dayton’s first CD jukebox and a bar menu that started early for hospital employees getting off third shift. He knew he had it good- and the hospital had decided they wanted his building bad. For years they went back and forth until finally, the hospital made Jimmy an offer he couldn’t refuse: to move him across the street to the old Ladder 11 firehouse, complete with a large attached parking lot. If you hadn’t been to the Cornerstone- you missed a good dive- but, if you haven’t headed over to Jimmie’s Ladder 11 since he opened on 11/11/11, you’re missing out on the Taj Mahal of firehouse bar food and drink.

Jimmy had leverage in bricks and mortar- Haitham, unfortunately only held a lease.

But what about all our “Development” organizations?

Haitham has talked to the Downtown Dayton Partnership, Citywide, the powers that be at the City of Dayton Office of Economic Development- and while they all liked talking about his start-up 3 years ago, now, they like talking about the jobs that Premier is bringing (well not really bringing, they’re just shuffling- but we call that development). Citywide has space in the first floor of “Courthouse Crossing” or did (they might not own it anymore) including the former Roly Poly location that rolled out of downtown under the cover of darkness. There is also the former Chick-filet location in the Key Bank tower (formerly Mead tower) which is too small, but so far, no one has come up with some options to save 6 jobs and a business that committed to downtown when others wouldn’t. Sure- our tax dollars have gone to help Uno around the corner, and Citilites across the way in the Schuster has been butted up with public money, but so far- nothing for Haitham.

Unfortunately, when the “undeveloper” Paul Hutchins sent Boston’s Bistro packing for a plan that never happened- way back in 2006, he also stripped the space of what it needed to become a bar again. That space has been empty ever since- and is spitting distance from Carmen’s. If only…

The reality is, it’s one thing to wheel and deal in real estate, but it’s another to destroy jobs. Yes, Premier will be able to brag about having the only building downtown with 100% occupancy (except for Kitty’s space), but they’ll also be driving a business out.

You can call this progress all you want, but what we’d give to have back Seattle East, Boston’s, the Dugout Deli, Wendy’s, Frisch’s, The Diner on St. Clair, etc. To have a vital downtown, we need diversity and choices in food. Premier isn’t doing itself a favor by tossing Carmen’s out like trash- even its employees may miss options.

I’m not suggesting this should be the taxpayers’ responsibility, but since we subsidize Premier Health through Medicare/Medicaid and not taxing the hospitals- maybe Premier can find it in its heart not to kill this small business. It’s healthy for our community to keep it.

Mike Turner sticking his 2 cents in on health care to protect his donors

This story is about political grandstanding of the most contemptuous sort. It’s a hatchet job, being amplified by a congressman, by a newspaper in search of another Pulitzer prize. It’s a story that needs to be analyzed a little deeper to understand what’s going on.

To set the story in perspective, I’m a Service Disabled Veteran and I get my health care at the Dayton VA. I’ve also had care through the commercial health care system- because in order to offer health care to my employees, I used to have to enroll in the for-profit medical system that this country continues to espouse as “the greatest in the world” while severely underserving our citizens. Given a choice after experiencing years of both- I can tell you that I’d choose the government run health care at the VA any day over the medical billing mill run by the duopoly of  Premier Health Partners and Kettering Health Network and supported by the virtual duopoly of United Health Care and Anthem in our community.

Last year, the Dayton Daily News latched onto the story of a VA dentist, working well past his prime at 81, who wasn’t following hygiene standards properly and some whistle-blowers got fired. There was a huge investigation, Dr. Pemberton retired, and Congressman Turner was leading the charge to find someone to blame at the VA. It made national news. The Dayton Daily even wrote a scare story: “Dayton VA investigated more than any other veterans’ hospitals” yet when you read the first graph you find:

Since 2006, the Dayton VA Medical Center has conducted more in-depth investigations of patient abuse and other employee misconduct than any VA hospital in Ohio {emphasis added}, a Dayton Daily News examination has found

via Dayton VA investigated more than any other veterans’ hospitals.

The Dayton Daily News won a Pulitzer in 1998 for a series on failures of military medicine. It’s my belief that they see the Dayton VA as their chance to win another.

To put things in perspective, I’m sure Dr. Pemberton didn’t follow modern processes for disease control as specified by the American Dental Association etc. But, as a patron of dentists for at least 45 years, I can remember when dentists didn’t wrap the room in plastic wrap, wear surgical gloves, eye shields or drape themselves in surgical gowns to go rooting around in your mouth- and yet many of us lived to tell the tale. The outbreak of AIDS brought a whole new level of protection (and lots more disposable medical waste) into the dentist’s office. Was Pemberton wrong? Yes. Should the system have caught him earlier? Yes. Was the VA negligent? Yes. But, so far, we’ve spent millions in investigations and found just a few cases of hepatitis and they can’t be directly correlated to Dr. Pemberton. The director was shuffled out, the whistle-blowers were exonerated, and Turner can now claim he’s there for our disabled veterans.

This week, we’re seeing the creation of another VA  “crisis” prime for political grandstanding. From the Dayton Daily News:

The Dayton VA Medical Center is investigating more allegations of improper conduct by an employee, this time in its anesthesia unit.

The allegations include an accusation that a doctor drew blood from patients under anesthesia without their knowledge or consent, according to a document containing the complaint.

…According to the complaint, the doctor also kept in his office a supply of a controlled substance, propofol, that he obtained from other VA employees. That propofol was kept in an unauthorized location and was not monitored or managed through the pharmacy even while there was a nationwide shortage of the drug in 2009……. It also wasn’t clear Wednesday how many patients allegedly had blood drawn without their consent, or when the activity took place.The allegations pose fresh challenges for the Dayton VA as it tries to restore its image following a scandal over infection control issues in its dental clinic in 2010 and 2011.

The federal hospital since 2006 has conducted more in-depth investigations of patient abuse and other employee misconduct than any other VA hospital in Ohio, the Dayton Daily News reported last year

…“If true, these allegations are troubling to say the least,” U.S. Rep. Mike Turner, R-Centerville, said in a prepared statement.

“Since the dental scandal this past year, I have been concerned about the management and standards at the Dayton VA Medical Center. Our veterans deserve the safe and reliable health care they were promised when they entered military service. The new director, Glenn Costie, has indicated that he will take this matter seriously and provide a full accounting to our community.”

U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, a Democrat, also expressed concern about the alleged misconduct.

“He has contacted the VA to express his concern and has requested that the VA complete a full, fair and prompt investigation on this matter,” a Brown spokeswoman, Lauren Kulik, wrote in an email.

via Local VA investigating more conduct complaints.

So we have political outrage over a dentist past his prime not following standard hygiene practices and an anesthesiologist who drew some blood without consent and had a private stash of a controlled substance.

Yet, zero outrage over the cost of three stitches to an uninsured citizen at Miami Valley Hospital. (the total $1,423 in case you don’t want to click the link).

Never mind this story from today’s paper about Miami Valley Hospital:

The state Department of Health on Friday confirmed there was one death associated with last year’s outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease at Miami Valley Hospital.

…a lawsuit filed this month against the hospital in Montgomery County Common Pleas Court identified a hospital patient whose death certificate lists Legionnaires’ disease as the cause of death. The patient, Charles O. Preston, 94, of Dayton, died on March 20.

via Death at MVH associated with Legionnaires’ disease.

Here we have an actual death, caused by not following proper procedures. Congressional outrage? Zero. And in reading the DDN article, we find that the laws on reporting the outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease are weakened under state law.

I had an unnecessary heart catheterization at Kettering after their fancy MRI scan of my heart showed problems due to their insufficient administration of radioactive tracer dye. Luckily, a friend who worked there managed to get the bill waived since their test was flawed (it was still being evaluated as a non-invasive process for doing heart scans). Was it the end of the world- hardly- yet, drawing blood without permission isn’t anywhere near as risky as sticking a camera into someone’s main arteries.

Here is the dirty little secret. Mike Turner doesn’t like public health care. If you look at donations by industry at Open Secrets over his career you find the following:

  • Health professionals rank 6th in all-time giving with $145,020
  • And hospitals and nursing homes are 17th with $96,620
  • This is leaving out his number one donor- “Leadership PACs” which may include medical lobbyists: $322,739

Do VA employees have to start donating to Mike Turner’s campaign so he will leave them alone to do their jobs and he can go after the real health-care fiasco in America- that of the overpriced private health-care system?

If  Mike Turner really cared about helping veterans, he’d not have allowed the wars to go on for over a decade, creating tens of thousands of new severely service disabled veterans. If he really cared about his constituents, he’d have pushed for the institution of single payer health care for everyone, eliminating the 35% premium those of us who have private health insurance pay to support a totally unnecessary middleman in the delivery of health care: The health insurance industry.

If you’ve managed to make it to the end of this article and agree with what I’ve said, please consider making a donation to my campaign which does not accept money from Corporations, Special Interest Groups, PACs or lobbyists. It’s time we had a representative in Congress who can stand up for us instead of for the corporate money that buys a seat in Congress. Thank you.

 

The “risk takers/job creators” myth

The “American dream” is that this is a land of opportunity. America is supposed to be the magical place where anyone can work their way up from poverty to the presidency, or at least that’s what we’ve believed.

Recent studies found that our country is now far from that.

Americans enjoy less economic mobility than their peers in Canada and much of Western Europe. The mobility gap has been widely discussed in academic circles, but a sour season of mass unemployment and street protests has moved the discussion toward center stage.

via Harder for Americans to Rise From Lower Rungs – NYTimes.com.

In a country that prides itself as a “classless society”- we are stratified financially more than ever, and our ruling class now has a stranglehold on Congress (47% are currently millionaires- and it would probably be higher, except we have a big freshman class right now). The gap between the haves and the have nots is growing faster than compound interest and fees on your overdrawn checking account.

Republican candidate for president Mitt Romney still believes the answer is “American business” and that “free enterprise” will take care of the problems:

At an outdoor rally yesterday at Wofford College in Spartanburg, Romney offered a robust defense of American business, warning that “free enterprise is under attack from the right and left.’’…

“This president has got it entirely wrong when he attacks the private sector,’’ Romney said. “Don’t attack the private sector. Don’t attack risk takers. Don’t attack those that are trying to create a brighter future for themselves and their family.’’

“Don’t attack profit,’’ Romney said. “Profit, by the way, is what allows businesses to hire people and grow. Free enterprise is under attack from the right and left.’’

via Ohio Sen. Portman endorses Romney for president.

Fundamentally, Romney is correct, profit is what allows businesses to hire people- the question is what people are we hiring and how the profits are made and shared.

Hiring people in “third world” or “developing nations” is one way to maximize profit- and American corporations have been doing a great job of that. Since the beginning of the economic meltdown, shifting jobs overseas has been easy, despite high unemployment in this country. Many of our biggest corporations have also been hoarding cash. Apple, for instance, is sitting on something around $50 billion. Oddly, the windfalls of success aren’t being shared with the owners of the company- the shareholders through dividends- the only way they can “profit” from ownership is to sell their stock. Yet, the executive team running the company keeps rewarding itself with stock options, multimillion-dollar bonuses (in the tens and hundreds of millions). This isn’t how the system is supposed to work.

Nor was the system working when AIG failed (soon after after the bond-rating agencies gave them an A rating)- and the American public bailed out the banks. The executives at AIG who took the country to the brink of financial destruction all were being paid princely sums and suffered no jail time and most are still making huge money.

A local instance of one of these “job creators” gone bad was MCSi, a high growth sham company that received local taxpayer assistance from the Montgomery County Port Authority in building a new HQ. The company was a house of cards, much like our Wall Street Casino, and when it fell- thousands were out of jobs or forced to write off debts. The CEO, after a protracted court case, was sentenced to a grand total of 7 days in jail. Had he had a few thousand dollars worth of meth in his mansion, he’d be in prison for life.

There is nothing wrong with the American dream, there is a problem with what kind of reward is expected at the top. We laugh when Jihadists dream of being rewarded with 70 virgins after blowing themselves up in the name of Allah, yet we seem to think it’s perfectly OK for companies to pay their executives more in a week than most of their workforce in a year- with zero personal risk involved on their part. Even when the head of Countrywide, Angelo Mozilo, was fired, he took home a huge multimillion-dollar jackpot.

All we have to do is add risk back in to the American business model and also limit the ability to profit wildly without some measurable standard of performance and Mitt can shut up.

Here are three parts of the solution:

  1. The federal government, the largest buyer of goods and services, will no longer purchase from companies that don’t implement a cap on executive pay based on the average U.S. worker’s payroll. In other words, if you are Miami Valley Hospital (Premier Health Partners) or Boeing, and your average U.S.-based payroll is $50K a year, your chief executive can’t make more than 35 times that- or $1,750,000 a year (a caveat might be added that if you operate as a “non-profit” corporation, the ratio drops to 20x- sorry MVH). Note- all hospitals depend on Medicare/Medicaid for their existence, and Boeing wouldn’t be around if not for our Air Force and government contracts.
  2. Shareholders of record, must be paid dividends annually if the company makes a profit. Stocks must be held for a period of at least a year to be eligible and any profit realized from short-term trades is taxed at a 35% tax rate. Dividends would be taxed at 15% to spur investment in private enterprise by the private sector.
  3. Secondary markets- the buying and selling of financial paper and commodity exchanges- would be restricted to either long-term holding of paper, or a requirement to actually take possession of the commodity. It’s time to stop pretending that trading paper is really the same as creating jobs and paying people. Our financial system acts as if “fantasy football” is the real game and the NFL is just a tiny part of the system- when if fact, it’s the other way around- the real people who play the game determine the outcome.

With these three changes, the American dream may come back. We would reward innovators and business founders with the opportunity to make huge money by owning their own companies- while, posers who waltz in after the fact, would have to earn their stock the old-fashioned way.

Romney is so far disconnected from the everyday financial situation of most Americans that he is a perfect example of how our country has lost touch with what a fair income distribution looks like:

He (Romney) also characterized as “not very much” the $374,327 he reported earning in speaking fees last year, though that sum would, by itself, very nearly catapult most American families into the top 1 percent of the country’s earners.

via Romney Says His Tax Rate Is Around 15 Percent – NYTimes.com.

We don’t hear real solutions to the economic stratification of this country without someone yelling “socialism” – but, the reality is that it is socialism when the taxpayers of this country bail out the wizards of Wall Street with our tax dollars or continue to do business with companies that pay their executives princely sums while pretending to be saving our country money.

On March 6, 2012, you can pick from 6 Democratic candidates to run for Congress against Mike Turner in OH-10. I ask you: Are there any that can write a post with solutions to the crisis- and cite their previous writings since 2005? Can you research their positions- or even question them easily? If you want a new kind of representative, please consider donating to my campaign. I refuse all corporate, PAC and Special Interest money- if it’s not coming from an individual taxpayer, I’m not taking it.

I’m doing what I can to end the myth of the million-dollar congressional campaign as well. Your money will be used in the most efficient way possible. You can help by sharing this message with as many friends as you have. Thank you.

 

Dayton Daily News endorses the end of Dayton

Why bother? Why not just say, we don’t think either of the candidates is the right one for Mayor? Why not admit, that you’re in on the plan to push for a strong mayor form of government as soon as this election is over, instead of just hinting at it?

Why bother dragging people through the mud, while you sit back like Martin Gottlieb, in his rented Huber Home in Kettering, and pronounce candidates unfit because their profession is one that requires skill- as opposed to being an editorial writer which as he demonstrates, requires none?

Reading their “endorsement” of Rhine is like reading a obituary for the City of Dayton:

Rhine McLin isn’t a natural spokesperson, and she does not have the reflexes of either former Mayor Paul Leonard or former Mayor Mike Turner that would allow her to parlay her office into something larger. Eight years into the job, she struggles to be a force in the room and in the wider community….But it must be said: she is not an initiator or a born leader…. when the cameras aren’t rolling, she can wittily and insightfully sum up bone-headed ideas. Despite her foibles…In very many ways, Mayor McLin is more suited for service in the legislature, where she served before being mayor. When she was one of 33 members of the Ohio Senate, she wasn’t as high profile…

via Editorial: McLin better for tough job | A Matter of Opinion.

You may as well elect her with her hands tied behind her back, while sending her into a gunfight- oh, yes, and take away her pistols too.

As if the damage isn’t done by this piece of editorial slop, we have a headline on the front page of the paper “Homeless predators roam city streets” and gives it the subhead “violent sexual offenders list their area of residence near Miami Valley Hospital, UD.”

Those are our two largest employers left in town. It’s my neighborhood- the Neighborhood of the Year, South Park. It’s one of the few things that has been working right in this city, despite our lackluster Mayoral leadership (the chart of dropping housing values during Queen Rhine’s Reign (she did inherit her first elected position from her daddy like royalty) should be a clear indication that her policy has failed.

If the Dayton Daily News isn’t trying to kill the last hopes of Dayton with this endorsement that mocks Gary for his profession (remember, the Mayor’s job is a PART TIME POSITION) and then sensationalizes one stabbing into a major sexual predator crime wave, I don’t know what they are doing.

The sexual predator issue has been around for a long time, and is caused by bad legislation that provides no way that these people can ever fit back into society. I wrote my position on this back when I was running for Congress.

It’s time the citizens of Dayton consider suing the Dayton Daily with a class action lawsuit for reckless libel. The Dayton Daily News, along with their brethren at “Newscenter 7” have tried to sell their sensationalistic tripe for too long at our expense.

Most people don’t even know who writes the editorial board opinions, any more than they knew who picked the candidates that were anointed to run in this city.

Maybe we should have elections to choose our editorial board writers instead- since they seem to know so much. Every indication is that they are a bigger part of the problem than the candidates ever could be.

Writing off the big picture. The MidPark silver bullet

If your business is a restaurant, you can spend all day dreaming about the fine china you want to buy, or the dishes you could prepare, or you could work hard on working with what you have.
If you are the City of Dayton, you come up with dreams for “MidPark” the area just North of South Park and South of Downtown.
Someone has spent a lot of time dreaming up a new way to call “urban renewal” via bulldozer and new construction- something different.
Read the whole plan:

Neighborhood Development Strategic Planning Group (NDSPG) specifically chose to look at the MidPark geography because of its perceived long?term
marketability and the ability to leverage previous successful development in adjacent areas.  The
MidPark District has been a virtual “no mans land”…a mish mash of underutilized land and
buildings with no real focus or continuity for a very long time.  However, because of its location the group felt it had extreme potential.

MidPark is located between Downtown and two of Dayton’s largest institutions ? The University
of Dayton and Miami Valley Hospital who have made huge investments not only on their own
campuses, but have reached out to the areas that surround them as well.

recommendations_housing_appendix1.pdf (application/pdf Object).

With an overabundance of inexpensive real estate, including some amazing homes for a song, we’re talking about concentrating efforts on a pretty new green field and its surrounding area mostly because it’s near two of our biggest income tax generators (since both UD & MVH get property tax exemptions).

Do you remember Courthouse Square, The Arcade, Riverscape? All of these projects were supposed to “jump start” the community. Midpark is yet another dream, much like Ballpark Village.

The reality is Dayton should be getting out of the real estate game. Unload all the property we own to people who want to build something on them or own real estate and pay taxes. What? No one wants to buy our real estate? You don’t say… maybe it’s because we’re so busy dreaming about projects like this, that we’ve failed our basic service commitments like safe neighborhoods, good schools, parks and recreation and well maintained infrastructure.

There is an interesting analysis by Daytonology’s Jeffery over at Dayton Most Metro on this “plan”: http://www.daytonmostmetro.com/forum/index.php?topic=1364.msg12802#msg12802

Wouldn’t it be better if private developers felt they could pull this off on their own? What could the city do to encourage private development?

What I don’t understand is why the apartment buildings lining the East side of Warren are written off? Marvin Gardens had been rumored to be close to being acquired by someone with the ability to properly rehab and manage them. The new Coco’s is going to be at the corner of Warren and Lincoln- without tax incentives.

If a private developer can’t make something work here without a handout, all hope for Dayton is lost. We just saw how the city totally botched the Wayne and Wyoming “Kroger” development over five years and wasting millions of dollars- why should it be involved here?

Would our “development dollars” be better spent on big ticket development like trolleys, or smaller noticeable improvements like better lighting under the overpasses, or configuring the nearby park with usable soccer/football fields, tennis courts that aren’t a joke, a basketball court that doesn’t include the San Andreas fault, and maybe a fountain to play in during the summer?

Need something to compare to? Head over to Lincoln Park in Kettering or Delco Park. Why not take the old Cliburn Manor site and make it into a dog park? Or a skate park, or a BMX track? We still have space for in-fill housing and rehab opportunities in South Park. Build public amenities nearby and the rest of the area may attract more investment. Add a walk-to-work tax credit- and UD and MVH employees may consider moving down into the area.

Government should be spending tax dollars providing services that don’t make sense for private businesses and create value for the greater good- and greater area. These micro development projects that subsidize private investors are hurting all of us.

Focus on getting the basics right- the flourishes will follow.