Petitions, Initiatives, Recalls and total disregard for voters

Deciminialization in DaytonCurve ball out of Dayton City Hall last week when Mayor Whaley and her crew decided to toss a bone on the ballot to “check the voters pulse” on decriminalizing pot in Dayton. Not bricks of pot, nope- only the people who pay off the state officials will get to profiteer from medical pot, but, small amounts, enough for a few joints.

Normally, misdemeanor pot charges are an excuse to arrest and hold people who can’t afford bail, or to harass people of color. We’re filling up the jail with cheech and chong, while we can’t manage to find murderers, arsonists or even charge white collar criminals who steal money from disabled veterans.

By putting the question to the voters, the politicians have the appearance of doing the right thing, but, what it really is, is an attempt to get the black vote to the polls to make sure they support people like Brandon McLain and Gerald Parker and Carolyn Rice. After watching Gary Leitzell almost beat Debbie Lieberman without spending any money, some people in the dem party are now officially woke.

Yes, Montgomery County voted for Trump, and they are pulling out all stops to get people out to vote, because the “blue wave” that they predicted hasn’t really shown itself.

Members of the NAACP just got woke too. They were out gathering signatures to put the speed and redlight cameras on the ballot- and failed. Now they see that just 3 city commissioners can throw a ballot initiative on the ballot, without ANY signatures- has them a little ticked off. About time you realized you’ve been getting used by the party for years, but, you kept electing empty suits like they have downtown at Price Stores.

The reality of citizen initiated petitions succeeding in Montgomery County and most of the state is a myth- unless you have millions of dollars behind your issue. The recent effort to put the sales tax increase on the ballot was a clear sign that even a very popular issue, is almost impossible to make happen.

Try looking up how to recall a school board member in the Ohio Revised Code. There isn’t a standardized rule or format for doing it. Trust me, I’ve looked.

The people trying to repeal the sales tax increase were political insiders, lawyers, and even they were surprised at how fast the law required the petitions to be turned in- 30 days after the vote was taken. It’s almost impossible.

Instead of wondering about “hot button issues” in this next election for state reps- you shouldn’t care about guns, stand your ground, legal pot, you should be asking for reps that will actually clean up the ORC so simple law like the Open Meetings Act (I’m joking when I call it simple) is actually clear and concise with actual steps spelled out on the books. Instead, the Attorney General publishes a 250 page book to explain the damn law, that’s never resulted in a single politicians being removed from office despite that rule being on the books for over 60 years.

The first thing the Dayton City Commission should have changed by their ability to put new laws on the ballot- should have been a revamp of the petition to run for city commission. It’s time to eliminate the nominating committee requirement, as well as the notary requirement. The form needs to have a block to print your name, one to sign your name, your street address and date. No more ward or precinct. And, it should be assumed, that if a candidate collects 500 good signatures and turns them in, he’s offering to run for commission. What his/her signature adds to the petition is unimportant. If 500 voters say Donald Duck should be on the ballot- and Donald turns them in with the filing fee, that’s good enough. And, one last thing, the whole date of the election question needs a revamp too- since the idiots at the BOE can change the date of the primary seemingly randomly, and there might not be a primary if there aren’t enough valid candidates- so just say “to run in the next election” for the Dayton City Commission.

Voters SHOULD decide who they want on the ballot- not the parties, not the Board of (S)elections.

The pot issue should be approved. Minor quantity possession for personal use is not a threat to society- we’ve already approved it for medical use. The real question is, if this city commission really cared about our citizens safety and health and welfare- how can they let any citizens spend a single minute if Sheriff Phil “the torturer” Plummer’s house of horror- commonly known as the Montgomery County Jail?

If this wasn’t just a ploy to draw out votes in November- I’d be more enthusiastic about this good legislation, but unfortunately, it’s just Nan and Company trying to use the people of Dayton for their friends and family plan.

 

Did a suicide take place on Sunday in the Montgomery County Jail?

Phil Plummer behind bars in JailWord has it that an inmate, Jimmy Miller hanged himself in Pod C on Sunday, Aug 19, 2018.

Today at noon, the Jail task force is meeting at the Main Library, room 1 B. They meet every third Tuesday of the month, same time, same place. You have to get there early to register to speak- and then for only 2 minutes.

Questions, that Sheriff Phil “The Torturer” Plummer needs to answer are:

  • Is it safe for 1 correction officer to watch 100 inmates?
  • What is the ratio of inmates to correction officers?
  • How many officers are assigned to a pod?

These are the questions for accreditation, and the accreditation folks haven’t been getting reliable answers.

Maybe Jimmy Miller’s family will get answers- in the form of more of our tax dollars paying for his mistakes.

It’s time to put Phil in jail, instead of running one. How many people has he given death sentences to already?

Justice Sotomayor, meet our Sheriff, Phil “The Torturer” Plummer

Title slide for Torture in Montgomery County Jail videoOn Feb 2, 2017 I released video from the Montgomery County Jail on Youtube. It showed the barbaric point-blank pepper spraying of the restrained inmate, Charles Alexander Wade. After they pepper sprayed him, they left him, tied down- without treating his burning eyes, for hours. Think about that. Torture, pure and simple.

The way I spliced together the series of camera angles, sound and told the story of this incident garnered 31K views.

I also supplied all the individual camera footage- and the handycam footage got 34K views. Every local news org EXCEPT Cox- used my footage in their coverage- which was watermarked. Cox waited several days until they could get the same footage raw- and never credited me for breaking the story.

In the meantime- exploitative online sites like “Now This” recut my footage and got over a million views in less than 24 hours. Current stats 1.8M views, 1.2K comments, 6.2K shares.

This morning two things happened. I read this:

Another problem with this execution is Tennessee’s new protocol for lethal injection. The first drug administered in an execution is supposed to put the inmate to sleep so he can’t feel the effects of the other two drugs: the one that causes paralysis and the one that stops the heart. But midazolam, the sedative in Tennessee’s execution cocktail, doesn’t always render complete unconsciousness. It’s possible for the inmate to feel the effects of the next two drugs, and what he feels is akin to being suffocated and burned alive at the same time.

The United States Supreme Court had declined to delay the execution, but Justice Sonia Sotomayor strongly dissented: “In refusing to grant Irick a stay, the court today turns a blind eye to a proven likelihood that the state of Tennessee is on the verge of inflicting several minutes of torturous pain on an inmate in its custody,” Justice Sotomayor wrote. “If the law permits this execution to go forward in spite of the horrific final minutes that Irick may well experience, then we have stopped being a civilized nation and accepted barbarism.”

Source: Opinion | America Has Stopped Being a Civilized Nation – The New York Times

And Youtube- a year and a half later- put an adult content sticker on one of the intake footage clips.

“Hi ElectEsrati,

As you may know, our Community Guidelines describe which content we allow – and don’t allow – on YouTube. Your video Cruel and Unusual Punishment in Montgomery County Jail – Supplemental Raw Footage was flagged to us for review. Upon review, we’ve determined that it may not be suitable for all viewers and it has been placed behind an age restriction.

Video content restrictions

If a video contains violent or graphic content that appears to be posted in a shocking, sensational, or disrespectful manner, it’s less likely to be allowed on YouTube. We also don’t allow content that’s intended to incite violence or encourage dangerous activities. We review content on a case by case basis and will only make limited exceptions for appropriate educational, documentary, artistic, and scientific contexts, where the purpose of posting is clear.

In light of this, we ask that uploaders post as much information as possible in the title and description of their video to help us and viewers understand the primary purpose of the video. Please note, even with this additional context, it’s still not acceptable to post violent or gory content that’s primarily intended to be shocking, sensational”

If you ask me- we stopped being a civilized nation a long time ago, when we declared a war on poor people and started locking them up at record speed. How we treat people in the Montgomery County Jail- with over $10M and counting in settlements should have Sotomayor pissed off, and a hell of a lot of other people- but, so far, all we have is one video- with an age restriction.

And, Phil “the Torturer” Plummer is running for State Representative… go figure.

2017: the sound and the fury

2017 sucked graphic from esrati.comFor the record: I hated Faulkner in high school. But, if the title fits- so be it.

Last year was a struggle. Ending with me laid up for 4 days in bed with a cold that wouldn’t quit. It was like a detoxification period. Pour fluids in, sweat them out. Binge watch Netflix. Repeat.

For the record: “The Punisher” was better than expected- would love it if someone could tell me what gangster classic film they were paying homage to with the carousel scene. Black Mirror season 4- provocative as ever. Really liked “Kill the DJ” and “Archangel.” Do not watch the new Will Smith movie “Bright” unless you have a high tolerance for bad writing, bad directing and stupidity.

Serious stuff about 2017.

The School Board continued to be insane. Replaced their marketing RFP with an RFQ for the beginning of the year. As I jumped through the idiotic hoops for a second time, I find out that someone I trusted and cared about, betrayed my trust – and screwed me, my mother and the disabled veteran who you’ve read about on this blog. On the verge of losing my business from their need for cocaine, tattoos and Kate Spade handbags- a true friend stepped in and saved it all.

If all of you made an extra effort to buy Pizza Factory Pizza this year, you would be helping me make it back to that person.

In the midst of the betrayal discovery, I released the video about the pepper spraying in the jail of a second inmate in restraints. This video wasn’t as disgusting as the one where Sgt. Judith Sealey tortured Amber Swink by pepper spraying someone fully helpless- but, when the odds are 5-1 it was still bad. While my video did get on 22/45- Cox did their typical dipshit move of ignoring it until they could get un-watermarked video- and ran the story without credit.

The sad thing is, at the end of the year, Sealey was still promoted, and retired on medical disability. The jail is still an embarrassment. Phil Plummer is still Sheriff- (and actually considering running for higher office) and it’s business as usual at the jail- understaffed, unsafe and inhumane.

The school board then voted to award a marketing contract to The Ohlmann Group, despite never having looked at the RFQ on the analysis. They spent a ton of money running a digital campaign along with bad billboards- and then complained about it and the work that was done for them. It did make for entertaining video DPS Fails School Marketing 101. But it was just more writing on the wall of how off the tracks DPS had derailed under the reign of Rhonda. Next up, Rhonda hires 2 African American women to her cabinet to manage marketing and PR– right after her handpicked right hand quit and filed an EEOC complaint.

In the midst of that mess at DPS we did a little digging into the ringmaster of the circus- Dr. Adil Baguirov and found that the carpetbagging board member might also be a little more decietful than meets the eye. On April 5th we publish the research and video: International Man of Mystery: Adil Baguirov – which should have started a chain of events leading to his removal from the school board at the least- and possible ethics and criminal charges at the most. Nothing happened- until I forced his resignation 2 days after election day in November. With Trump complaining about voter fraud and Paul Manafort being prosecuted for money from the same place Adil has been getting funded– I’m still wondering why this hasn’t been a bigger news story.

Of course, the BOE, the Ohio Elections Commission, the Ohio Ethics Commission and the Secretary of State still are playing all kinds of games with zero oversight. When I went to file to run for the Montgomery County Educational Services Center I was greeted with line and verse how I wasn’t eligible to oversee an organization that now has control of direct tax dollars from my district and my city- and serves as a double-dipping retirement home for former Superintendents.

We’ll return to this issue in 2018 and see who has the last laugh.

While piecing my business back together, my disabled veteran friends life falls apart. He stops taking his meds, self-medicates and ends up in jail. I shared this with you in Pink Slip. He’s been thoroughly screwed over and over by a country that he swore an oath to protect. The VA actually rejected his disability filing- saying he didn’t show up for an evaluation, despite the fact that I’d told them over and over that he was currently incarcerated- for his mental illness. This is another fight waiting to happen in 2018- and we’ll see who has the last laugh again.

After many months of piecing together the evidence of what my former friend and employee had done, we had our “day in court”- well, actually the grand jury.  Typically, the joke is you can indict a ham sandwich in a grand jury- since no defense is mounted- just evidence presented. Before I left the room- one juror asked me for a job, another called out as I left- “Don’t worry, not everyone is like her.” Seemed like they were on my side. The DPD Detective went before them 2 weeks later- and must have said something different- because next thing you know- “No true bill.” In Montgomery County, under “Prosecutor” Mat Heck, you can spend 2 weeks in jail for being near a nickle bag buy- but, if you steal enough money to buy a low-end luxury car from your boss, his mother and a disabled veteran- you walk.

This is yet another issue to be revisited in 2018. We’ve already won a civil case against her for the money she stole from the veteran. Thank you to Terry Posey Jr. of Thompson Hine for representing the veteran pro-bono.

In the midst of this mess, a prospective client cold calls my business looking for help. They’d paid The Ohlmann Group a shit-ton of money to grow their business- and were less than happy. We started work at picking up the pieces and fixing the most broken e-commerce site we’d ever seen. Everything Ohlmann had done had to be undone. It’s not the first time, nor will it be the last time that my business is turned to as the Agency of Last Resort- after Ohlmann and others like them have done a client wrong. We also had to resurrect a very popular Dayton events site after another agency (some people who used to work for me mutinied in 2012 started their own thing in 2013) screwed it up. And while these clients made a huge difference in bouncing back from the thief’s damage, the best news came when we were on a winning team for a huge VA contract that will hopefully bear fruit by the middle of 2018, and we won solo our first government contract with the Cincinnati VA to produce some videos.

Since the Dayton Daily news won’t admit that they’ve basically become a click-bait company, this site was here to tell you why it’s now the Dayton Day-Old News– printed in Indianapolis in the afternoon. The skeleton staff that’s left has little institutional knowledge left- and a hatred of this blog. It pains them deeply to admit that there is someone else doing their job, unpaid, better, than they do. I won’t win a Pulitzer or a MacArthur Fellowship Grant for doing this, but, if you appreciate it, donations are accepted. Feel free to nominate me for either award- lol, hell, I can’t even get on a TEDx stage in this town.

August brought the near downfall of DPS as Rhonda Corr single handily pushed the union contract to the last day before folding the day they were supposed to strike. Her incompetence, which we had documented throughout her reign of terror was still being tolerated by the Board who is now under the rule of Rev Robert Walker, who seems oblivious to what is going on around him. Somehow, evaluations that were carefully worded to outline her failings got changed and turned into a sugary sweet rendition of a lie, which as usual, came back to bite them when the lawyer investigating the EEOC complaint un-earthed the real underbelly of the beast, giving the board (with newly added Rev Harris replacing Baguirov) reason to put Rhonda on paid administrative leave pending her ouster from Dayton.

In between, the union settlement and the vote of no confidence in Corr or the School Board by the DEA, this site caused a mini-meltdown on the sixth floor of DPS HQ- when I released just the short cell phone video of a teacher being dragged down the hall. While they tried to sweep this whole thing under the rug, and more people left the district including coaching legend Jim Place, and the distraction of Rhonda’s impeachment process began, we kept digging to finally come up with the full video- and the travel records of a principal who’s gone more than most– and seems to be getting preferential treatment.

So many DEA members have thanked me for the work I’ve done here on esrati.com for the last year and a half, but, while it’s nice to get some recognition, I still feel that I’ve failed the district. My goal has always been to help it get better, and while the new board will be taking over soon, and Joe Lacey did not get re-elected, we still have a long way to go. I’m confident that Dr. Lolli is an order of magnitude better than Rhonda Corr, but, I still believe their are a whole bunch of people in high places who shouldn’t have jobs in this district, and I don’t know if this board or Superintendent has the skills to separate the wheat from the chaff. Judging by the supposed selection of the rookie Rev William Harris to lead this board in 2018, overlooking the recognized talents of John McManus to run a board meeting properly, I wonder.

I still think Rev Walker and Sheila Taylor and even McManus should be deposed on what happened with the Corr evaluations, and the Baguirov investigation (or non-investigation) before being allowed to continue with their duties.

In 2018, I hope to see the following: progressive democrats rally to run for every single seat on the central committee and end the Monarchy of Montgomery County– where friends and family get (s)elected and the rest get dealt with behind closed doors.

The Board of Elections, Ohio Ethics Commission, Ohio Elections Commission and Secretary of States office investigated for unfairly applying rules to un-endorsed campaigns and candidates.

The story of my library eviction will be coming to you shortly, and we’ll hope that the powers that be, do the right thing and my second civil rights case in Dayton turns out to prove me right again. It shouldn’t be this hard to be a citizen in Dayton.

It’s also time to begin to tackle the issues of Reconstructing Dayton, a PAC I started to try to bring change to Dayton- the point on the globe- not the clusterduck of fiefdoms that shouldn’t exist. Almost every story above- has something to do with ad hoc boards working with tax dollars without real oversight by professionals. From the School Boards and the ESCs to the Library, Learn to Earn, the Port Authority and all the “Development” organizations- we’ve got a veritable mess of “local control” that’s out of control thanks to the missing fourth estate.

The Greeks said: scientia sit potentia ~knowledge is power. Gordon Gekko riffed and said “The most valuable commodity I know of is information.

The people of Dayton deserve to be more than mushrooms. They’ve been kept in the dark and fed night soil for too long.

Welcome to 2018.

That which didn’t kill me in 2017, made me stronger. Hang on for the ride.

 

The highs and lows of election day 2016

Nina Esrati and David Esrati voted 2016

Mom, me, I voted stickers- missing Dad.

Today was the first election day, where I didn’t have my dad to talk to, to take to the polls, to take the photo of him, mom and me on their porch with our “I voted today” sticker.

My father believed in this country, its ideals, its principles. He also believed strongly in the fourth estate, of which he was a part of, to keep us informed, to set wrongs right, to make our country better, through an informed electorate.

Today, Wright State Medical School called to tell me the brick, bearing his name, was installed today. He had donated his body to the school- in the hope that some young doctor, might be able to learn something and go on to do good.

But, at 2:14 am, I sit here writing, with Donald Trump 5 electoral college votes short of a win. With the Republicans holding on to the house and senate, and potentially appointing three supreme court justices. Wall Street and World Financial Markets are in a tailspin. And, frankly, the entire country is in shock- that he won, that she lost, that it was this close… but, as I’ve been known to say, “never underestimate the stupidity of people in large numbers” – a quote that is sometimes attributed to George Carlin, but probably wasn’t his.

It’s not that he won, or she lost that has me in shock, it’s that in this election we went from the already tainted dirty world of politics, down to something more resembling a cage fight to the death. This was the election where, quite frankly, there were no holds barred, no blows too low, or any resemblance to statesmanship, decorum or decency.

Our country will need a lot of healing. And a lot less polls, predictions and armchair quarterbacks. We need to take the cards that have been dealt, and figure out how to win, if that is even remotely possible.

And on that note, I have to recount the high point of today. I went to the Dayton School Board meeting, where, per usual, the agenda was posted last minute and the failed transparency and communication skills of the worst district in the state were about to be glaringly obviously exposed.

About 50 people showed up in addition to the normal cast of characters. There were parents, para-professionals, principals (more correctly, principal, Mr. Fowler of Kiser) and teachers- all there to talk to the board about cuts being made in classrooms across the district. And per usual, the people we elected to that board, felt very little need to hear from the people they represent. It was that same attitude by the Dayton City Commission 30 years ago, that pushed me into politics.

The board opened, and immediately went into executive session, for what Board President Dr. Adil Baguirov said would be “about an hour.” The people in the room had no clue of what this meant, or what it was about. The district no longer prints agendas, instead using some wonky flawed, non-ADA compliant, proprietary software called Board Docs- that is worthless on a mobile device.

A parent stood up and said, “since they are having a private meeting, is there any reason we can’t have one? Right here? I’m a social worker and I’m good at facilitating these kinds of things” or something to that effect. I started the video camera back up and taped. It should be posted tomorrow afternoon. That the BOE doesn’t tape all their meetings and have them available is one more indication of their disdain for the people they represent- they have an amazing video system available with robotic cameras.

The people went around the room to introduce themselves and say why they were there. Paraprofessionals who had been told to pack up and leave, yet hadn’t officially been fired by the board who has to approve all personnel issues, told stories of being with the district for over 20 years. That they didn’t understand that how, a district struggling to meet the third grade reading guarantee, was dismissing the people who helped the district get it’s only “A.”

There was talk of the 1-1 computer plan- and how a chromebook can’t show a child from the Congo how to open a milk container, or teach a kindergartner how to use a mouse. There were stories of how teachers had some of their students come back to the district to teach- and one mother/teacher- who told her daughter to avoid DPS, because of this very issue- lack of respect for those who are doing the work in the trenches. The director of the Challenger School who was on the list to be fired today, had to pull herself together to talk about losing her baby of 25 years- one of the few things the district has that’s a real success- something that brought STEM to the district before anyone knew what STEM was. There was a bus driver who professed his knowledge of how to fix the most fundamental DPS problem- actually picking up and delivering students- on time. The entire group would love nothing more than that to happen- and can’t understand on how or why it hasn’t.

And while I was there recording it – ostensibly as a citizen journalist, I did something I shouldn’t have and shared my story of the districts ineptitude in PR, marketing, managing an RFP, and even in their failed deal making on real estate where they sold a property to CareSource without a deed restriction precluding tax abatement. What shocked me more, other than my own self-exclusion from potentially working for the district to help them not screw up in the future- was when Dayton Daily News reporter Jeremy Kelley spoke up and interjected some facts about executive sessions and process and procedure- that, my friends, was a first.

After an hour and a half- the social worker felt that everyone had had their time to share, and wondered where the board was. She announced her intention to go invite them to come and hear the ideas they’d gathered- and to ask the board why they weren’t coming back on time.

I knew what was about to happen, and didn’t intervene. I thought maybe someone else would be galvanized to action after being smacked down for asking for respect and integrity from elected officials. For her honorable intentions, she was chastised by several board members, treated like a child and put in a corner. DPS security chief, Jamie Bullens appeared with one of his aides, dressed in black shirts, and stood by, in case she didn’t get the message.

Then came the speeches. Dr. Baguirov stated facts on falling enrollment, from 2000 to today. He talked about the ratio of administration to students- a stunning 1 administrator for every 136 students. Cincinnati, is at 1 to 236. Yet, we were only firing 20. Today.

The youngster on the board, John McManus tried to single out the Challenger center director for a pass from todays lynching. He had Sheila Taylor on his side for a few, until Joe Lacey, who has become cranky and sour, schooled the rest of the board about his experience during the last reduction in force. And Hazel Rountree launched into a tirade about how we had to bring in someone outside to fix what what couldn’t be fixed before. Ron Lee did point out that there are many unintended consequences to each and every dismissal- from seniority bumps to lawsuits, but in the end- the list was executed.

And of course, the board felt the need to blame the state, the feds, and everyone else for their difficulties, telling the people to go fix that for them.

Expect the Nov 17 meeting to be overrun with pissed off people. It will be ugly..

Both Debbie Lieberman and Judy Dodge spent real money on their reelection, despite being challenged by financially weak republicans with zero party support. Judy won  over Bob Matthews by 3% Debbie squeaked by Gary Leitzell with a single point plus lead.

And the county went to Trump.

A giant FAIL to Mark Owens, Nan Whaley, Karl Keith, who were incapable of fielding candidates that could even come close to winning. This is what happens when all you worry about is keeping your job, shilling for Hillary and getting your mitts on peoples paychecks who can’t vote you out of office.

If there was a time for a group of real democrats to join together to overthrow the Monarchy of Montgomery County, this would be it. Just the fact that embattled sheriff and republican party chair Phil Plummer was unopposed should be enough to shame them, if there was any shame to be had.

It is now 3:01 am and I checked the NY Times site, and we have a misogynist president who promised to “Make America Great Again.” My father has turned over in his cold storage.

My worst fears have almost all come true. Like Britain after the Brexit vote, we now have a brand new reality facing us.

Only one word comes to mind.

Courage.

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