Thanks to a man named Shirley

Photo of Shirley Gossett

From the left: Shirley R. Gosset, Staff Sgt. Joshua L. Brady, and retired Lt. Col. James L. Pritchett, all 82nd Airborne Division veterans, join to place a wreath honoring fallen paratroopers in front of the 82nd Airborne Division War Memorial May 26. Photo by Pfc. Mike Pryor, USA

For the life of me, I don’t remember how I got invited, but at age 22, freshly out of the Army on Temporary Disabled Retirement Leave, I found myself in a basement in Vandalia with a bunch of superheroes.

Most of them, gray haired, and close to, or recently retired, they all shared a common bond- jumping out of a perfectly good airplane for Uncle Sam.

I have never met a bunch of strangers that I was so instantly embraced by. Within a meeting or two, I was “elected” their Sgt. at Arms. They were the 82nd Airborne Division Association, General Matthew B. Ridgway chapter. And although it was the 82nd- and I’d only served with 7th Group down the street- the bond was the ownership of a pair of jump wings.

The basement, belonged to a man who always had a smile on his face- and gleam in his eye, a man named Shirley Gossett.

His obituary appeared in today’s paper- with a perfunctory summation of his military and post military pride in being a paratrooper:

Shirley graduated from Parker Vocational High School in 1941 and was on the Reunion Committee for 40 years. He served in the U.S. Army 325 Glider Infantry of the 82nd Airborne Division in Holland, Belgium, and Germany as a Scout & Runner in WWII. Shirley earned many ribbons including the Bronze Star and Purple Heart. He retired as a sheet metal worker from Local #224 after 40 years. He formed their Retirement Club in 1985-6 and served as their President for four terms.

In 1970, Shirley formed the Dayton Chapter of the 82nd Airborne Division Association, which was later renamed after General Matthew B. Ridgway. He served on the Board of Directors of the 82nd Airborne Association as Secretary, Assistant Executive Director, Executive Director and was elected as National President in 1981 and 1986. In 1990, Shirley received their highest award, “All-American of the Year.” He was certainly the most active veteran in this association, holding raffles, selling VCR tapes and books will all profits going to their Educational Fund.

In 2000, 82nd Airborne Commander, MG Dan McNeil presented Shirley with the “Commander’s Award,” an award given to a civilian for his dedication to the Division.

via Shirley GOSSETT Obituary: View Shirley GOSSETT’s Obituary by Dayton Daily News.

He died November 13, 2014, in an odd twist in obituaries, it didn’t have his age or birthday. Doing some math- based on graduating from high school at 18- he was born in 1923, and was probably 91.

Tom Brokaw dubbed men like Shirley our greatest generation, and to have known him, you’d understand why.

Those meetings of men, from all walks of life, all social strata, that were held in Shirley’s basement, told a story of the resiliency that they brought to battle, on foreign soil, for a cause that was as clearly just as any in history.

I remember hearing stories from these fine gentlemen of having more combat jumps than training jumps (5). Of going off to war, with no guarantee of coming home after a “tour”- unless you were severely injured or in a casket. Some of them had served in the 101st at Bastogne in the “Battle of the Bulge” – facing incalculable odds and horrendous weather. Many had put behind the horrors of war, and come home to raise kids, have careers and live a life that was considered “normal”- without the respect and appreciation they deserved for their sacrifices by a country that seemed to turn its back on those who served.

All of them, were welcome in Shirley’s basement, its walls covered with memorabilia- a shrine to the “All American” division. All of them brothers from different mothers.

I drifted away from attending after my term was up. Taking on battles with the city over garage doors, running for office and later starting my own band of brothers- VOB 108, a group for Veteran Business Owners. But, every so often, I’d stop by an 82nd event, and get the same big smile from Shirley and a welcome hand from the brotherhood of paratroopers, and some ribbing for not winning election battles.  If there is a reason why my license plate has the army jump wings on it- it’s because of Shirley, who put a higher value on the fraternity than I ever would have imagined. It’s not about my accomplishments, but about that of those who came before me and after me

As I ran around the track at Ft. Benning, during “tower week,” past the c47 painted in Normandy invasion stripes, we would chant a cadence about the perils of parachuting…

Stand up, hook up, shuffle to the door.
Jump on out and count to 4,
and if my main don’t open wide,
I’ve got another, by my side.
And if that one should fail me too,
lookout ground, I’m comin’ through
Tell my girl, I’ve done my best-
Pin my medals upon my chest
bury me in the front leaning rest…

Thank you for your service Shirley Gossett. And for being a prince among men. Those who have had the honor to shake your hand, and share in the Airborne brotherhood will miss you. There isn’t anything more you could have done for us, your family, our country.

Airborne, all the way.

 

Funeral services will be held at 1:30 p.m., Wednesday, November 19 at the Morton & Whetstone Funeral Home, 139 S. Dixie Dr., Vandalia with Pastor Dennis Phillips officiating. Interment with military honors will follow at Forest Hills Memorial Gardens. The family will receive friends at the funeral home on Wednesday from 11:00 a.m. until time of service.

 

 

 

Shamed them into action

As I just got my 5th box of basketball nets from Tuffy Brooks (thanks to Chad Snoke and Geo Pro Consultants) and went out to do some net maintenance on our parks, I finally have a success story to tell.

Arlington Hills Park, July 27 2014. Rotting backboard. Dayton Ohio

Arlington Hills Park, July 27 2014. Rotting backboard.

Last month I stopped by the “Arlington Hills” park – a double court on a field where the old “Gangster Courts” projects were, and I reported a crappy backboard and graffiti on the court with the “Dayton Delivers” mobile application. Here is the photo of the rotting backboard and lame rim:

There was graffiti on the court, someone has been driving donuts on the court, there are no benches for players. In all- a poor excuse for a park and a court.
I’ve never actually seen any kids on this court, in all my visits- and the nets don’t need replacing as often as other courts.

Today, I stopped by after hanging nets at Dunbar HS, DeSoto Bass, Wogamen Elementary School and fixing nets at a few other places as well as hanging a few on rollout rims for the kids playing street ball.

City of Dayton puts up new poles, backboards, rims at Arlington Hills park

Same spot- new pole, backboard rim and net! Times 4!

I almost couldn’t believe my eyes- four brand new backboards, on new poles, with new rims now grace the court at Arlington Hills Park.

It looks like a place where you actually would want to play a game . It made my day. I’ve also witnessed the demolition of the courts at Burkham Park, Princeton Rec Center and have been told Residence park is being rebuilt right now.

They still aren’t using my “preferred rim” – the First Team FT172D which I think is the best rim out there, but, these are the second best style out there.

Ideally- every court would also have benches for guys to rest, while the game is going on, and a working drinking fountain, since most courts are in full sun.

I’ve heard that Mallory Park is up for repair as well, and a few others this year, with more next year, although no one has told me the complete list.

I only hope the three rims we put up at Princeton are going to be recycled and not thrown out.

This is the kind of city I envision- one where our parks are clean and safe. Our schools are great, our neighborhoods strong and our businesses successful. Even though I’ve never won an election (except as precinct captain or neighborhood president) I feel that my efforts to hang the green nets were the catalyst for the city to finally take action and fix our courts.

I’m still sad that we’ve closed our neighborhood pools and replaced them with spray parks, and that we have no youth sports programs to speak of, but, I hope to keep the focus on keeping our kids on the courts instead of in the courts through sports and recreational programming.

Thank you to all the barber shops and beauty salons, and all of you who donated- and extra thanks to those who bought me nets, rims, zip ties and ladders.

All that grassroots effort- has finally begun to pay off. Or, as some would say- shame is a powerful motivator.

Thank you.

 

The crime scene instant replay hypocrisy

The first thing the rabble rousing reverends call for in the recent police shooting of a young black man in a lily white communities Walmart is to see the store video- all of it.

Yet, the exact same people rail against traffic cams installed to monitor speed and stop lights.

Don’t forget the ones who screamed bloody murder over the high resolution drone surveillance either.

Our society has been spoiled by instant replay from every angle to figure out if a penalty in football was called correctly or if the players foot stepped on the line, that we seem to expect the same from some Chinese DVR taking low rez photos at 10 frames per second in a store.

Some police departments are experimenting with personal video recorders attached to the shirts of their officers, to provide “evidence” of what “really happened” in a police interaction. This is after “dash cams” became the norm- letting the public voyeurs see some things as horrible as when a few local white supremacists decided to do a Bonnie and Clyde move- shooting an unsuspecting State Trooper on a routine traffic stop. Hyped by media that still lives by the adage “if it bleeds it leads” we’ve turned into junkies for “Reality TV” of real life tragedies which often happen when idiots and guns mix. Even pellet guns- as was the case in the Beavercreek Walmart.

One person wrote into the Dayton Daily news wondering what would have happened in the Walmart had a private citizen packing now legal heat at decided to take out the bb gun waving, cell phone talking black man, instead of the police? Or what would have the police done had they seen one of those Concealed Carry people waiting with gun drawn- in case the pellet gun genius came their way? It’s sad that just the hysteria caused by this incident also took the life of a young woman who died as she tried to flea the scene by yet undetermined causes.

What does store security video do to change all of this? We’re yet to find out. Most of it comes without sound- so unless the Feds have lip readers, ways to enhance video like on crime scene shows (I work in video and can tell you that most of that “resolution enhancement” you see on CSI is total BS) we may just end up with more questions than answers. This isn’t an NFL game with 13 cameras following the ball at all times from all angles.

At least ten years ago- I sat in a Greene County Court room where a young black man was about to be sent away for three years in prison. The evidence then? A dash cam recording – which coupled with mandatory sentencing laws, decided the case for the judge. The crime? A drunk black man, in cuffs in the back of the cruiser, says on camera to the officer “you won’t live to see your next birthday.” A mandatory 3 year felony stint for threatening the life of a law enforcement officer. Had the black man just hit the cop- 6 months and a minor misdemeanor.

The judge said in the sentencing- “In all my years on the bench, we usually have two parties telling different stories about the same event, and somewhere in the middle is the truth. Here, all we had to do was press play” and a life was changed for saying something stupid.

Video replay of crimes can’t always be the gold standard for deciding guilt or innocence, at some point common sense has to enter into the equation.

I don’t envy the cops who had to make a split second decision about if a gun is real or not real, and if the person acting irrationally (yes, walking through a store with anything like a firearm un-holstered or pointed anywhere other than the floor or ceiling is irrational) could prevent that officer from going home to his family that night. It’s in those split seconds where photographic evidence isn’t the end all and be all. If it shows a gun being pointed anywhere other than floor or ceiling- what the commands were, if they were followed, timing- don’t really matter anymore in my book. The possibility of a tragedy brought on a real tragedy and second guessing it isn’t solving the problem.

The real questions should be is what other shoppers saw- what they thought? Does one persons account via a 911 call make this a situation calling for SWAT? Should the 911 caller be questioned for inciting panic? These are some of the questions that need to be answered.

As to our constant monitoring by video and its effect on our civil liberties, that cat is so long out of the bag it’s time to stop arguing about it, and consider what our real expectations are for a civil and moral society that doesn’t break down into dysfunction at the drop of a dime.

Why infill housing fails in a failing community. The Tiny House option.

Einstein famously said “insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.”

When I see Dayton trying to fix the failure of our community to fulfill the basic expectations of what a city should provide, i.e.: good schools, safe neighborhoods, well maintained infrastructure as well as simple things like basketball nets on courts that aren’t doubling as weed gardens- by building new houses where old ones fell- I just do a forehead smack.

If people wanted to live there, they could have had a home for next to nothing- and fixed it up themselves. If they wanted to build a new home- why would they do it in a block where half the houses are already vacant. Vibrant communities attract vibrant growth. It must be why South Park is one of the few places where property taxes rose- from 20% to 50% in the latest valuation.

So, what can we do to be different? To offer something that can’t be found elsewhere? One of the answers is “Tiny Houses”- something that’s currently illegal in Dayton- and most of the country. If you don’t understand why they aren’t legal, what they are, or what the attraction is- watch this 10 minute video from “Reason TV” (thanks to Teri Lussier for the tip)

Do zoning and building codes really protect our property values- or keep us safe? Or are they just another way for government to stick its nose where it doesn’t belong? Is the reason for big houses- because the construction,  home building, banking and insurance industries don’t want you to build your own house for cash?

What happens when people live in $10,000 houses that use so little energy?

Putting people in a tiny house has been proven to be a much better solution to homelessness.

It also frees up huge amounts of disposable income, when housing is no longer 25% of your living expenses- what do you spend your money on? Travel, dining out, entertainment?

Why must the “American dream” be so connected to the idea of McMansions and suburban sprawl?

Maybe what we should do is allow areas where more than 40% of the structures are vacant to become “zoning free” enterprise zones, where building codes are reduced to common sense stuff- and the stupidity goes away (why must a room have a closet to be a bedroom? Or why can’t a bathroom connect to a kitchen?).

Dayton could be a leader in the Tiny House movement. The only question is why not?

Dayton loses a voice of the people: James R. Greene III

Half a life ago, I met James R. Greene III, and yes, he referred to himself that way. He had purchased a recently renovated home on Ringgold Street for his grandfather, that my friend Howard Rambo had turned into a showplace.

James was one of the most self confident people I’d run into in the civilian world- and even then, talked about changing the world. Nothing was beyond his reach.

In the years since, we’ve crossed paths many times, and I’ve tracked his career, from a staff attorney at NCR to running his own shop, going after the civil rights cases and wrongful death cases that make you go hmmmm.

Officer Kevin Brame, check, Kylen English, check- he threatened to run for Mayor many times, and one time came up very short on signatures.

The Dayton Daily had no problems coming up with mud to smear him as soon as he announced, but, in his passing- this was all the ink they found worthy of mention- a short, paid obit:

GREEN, III Esq., James R. Age 55 of Dayton passed away May 28, 2014. Service June 3, 11 AM at St. Benedict the Moor Catholic Church.

via James R. GREEN Obituary: View James GREEN’s Obituary by Dayton Daily News.

For someone who has been on the community’s forefront for years, he deserves a better recounting of his life than I can give-

if you have something to share about James- please do so in comments.

Dayton has lost one of our leading voices. James will be missed.

Free labor for Dayton businesses

For the last few years, we’ve opened our doors to economically challenged students for work experiences. We’ve had kids from Trotwood, CJ, and Ponitz, come in with minimal tools in their toolbox and leave with a much better set, and an understanding of what we do in the advertising, marketing, graphic design and printing business. They come in for up to 20 hours a week- and it costs us nothing but the time we invest in teaching them about our business.

Tomorrow- Tuesday, April 29, YouthWorks is having a meeting for prospective and current employers of these youths- from the DDn (probably straight from the County Press release)

The county is seeking about 300 additional businesses to participate in the Summer YouthWorks Program, which places young people at work sites and pays their wages. The businesses benefit from additional workers without higher payroll costs, and the young people benefit from the work experience.
Business owners and representatives are invited to attend the MCOFuture Forum at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday in the Great Hall inside Building 12 at Sinclair Community College.
At the event, businesses can meet some of the young people involved in the Summer Youth-Works Program.
In 2013, 1,245 Montgomery County young people were placed at 275 work sites in various industries. In 2014, YouthWorks will provide employment opportunities for 2,000 young people that will help shape their futures and create a generation of career-informed youths, officials said.
The collaboration provides young people with the work experience and guidance needed to succeed when they permanently enter the labor force.

I’ve told quite a few of my clients about the program, and for the most part, the experiences have been good. My advice is if you have higher level work than painting houses or housekeeping- that you ask to interview the potential students beforehand, like a real job interview. This not only improves their skills in applying, it makes them feel like they are truly the best fit for the position. If you are worried about workers’ comp- or liability, it’s all taken care of by the county.

I’ve watched young kids with limited skills, turn out some pretty impressive work.

Here’s your chance to help some kids and grow your business without having to put out a lot of cash.

If you have questions- call YouthWorks at (937) 224-1482.

Tell them Esrati sent you.

Stop the fat letters

The old putdown “you’re fat and your mother dresses you funny” has sadly become a new nanny state mandate. It’s not enough to endlessly test students academically, we’re now also measuring their waist lines in an endless attempt to turn education into an assembly line process, where all the products conform to someone’s “standard.”

A local teen, whom I’ve known since she was in her momma’s belly, has decided to do something about this absolutely pointless intrusion of schools into personal health matters, by making a documentary exposing this bogus and demeaning practice.

In her own words:

In an effort to address the obesity problem among American youth, lawmakers in over a dozen states passed a controversial mandate forcing schools to perform body mass index, or BMI, tests on their students. What soon followed sparked a heated national debate.

Coined the “Fat Letters” by students, letters were given to overweight kids whose BMI did not fall within a narrowly accepted range; essentially telling children, even as young as kindergarteners, that they are fat.

via THE STUDENT BODY.

It’s one thing for schools to say little Johnny is failing at math, or even in gym, but the idea that BMI is some kind of magic number that is somehow relevant to the process of educational outcomes is a gross overstepping by government. No one sent Chris Christy’s mother a letter saying he’s fat- and that it somehow makes a difference on his performance as governor. Nor, do we have any indication that being overweight makes people stupid. In terms of stupid things our government feels a need to do- shaming children shouldn’t be something we spend a dime on.

I’m pretty sure a better case could be made for teachers having to submit to BMI testing. There is a direct correlation to costs of health care being passed on to taxpayers for fat governmental employees. However, that’s not what was written into law.

Bailey Webber is the daughter of my friend Mike Webber, who makes movies for a living. He’s a local guy with a lot of talent, raising a kid to ask questions and challenge the status quo, and he’s doing a damn fine job of it. Esrati.com readers have read about him and his award-winning documentary “The Elephant in the Living Room”

The movie, “The Student Body” is in production now, and just began a kickstarter to bring it to life as a full length film. If you’ve ever been called fat, maybe you might want to help her finish this film. Pledge to donate $1  (or more) and spread the word- I’m sure there are more than 28,000 of us who have suffered the indignity of being called fat at some point in our life- and would prefer that it’s from a medical professional instead of the state.

A step to end modern day slavery: NCAA vs. student atheletes’ union

When the coach of the football team makes more money than the university president, you have a problem. When the athletic director gets paid an $18,000 bonus because one of his wrestlers won a national championship, you have a problem. When the football program has virtually unlimited funding, but the price of college skyrockets- you have a problem. All built on the fallacy that college sports are “amateur” endeavors.

That idea just got a serious challenge from the National Labor Relations Board in a ruling today:

Peter Ohr, the regional NLRB. director, questioned that familiar construct. He called Northwestern an employer and deemed all its scholarship football players eligible to form a union based on a litany of factors, including how much time players devote to football as many as 50 hours during some weeks and the control exerted by the coaching staff and their scholarships, which Ohr called compensation. “It cannot be said that the employer’s scholarship players are ‘primarily students,’” the decision said.

via College Players Granted Right To Form Union – NYTimes.com.

The ruling, which will be contested, somehow only applies to private universities, not to public ones, but, if allowed to stand, and only private schools pay players, you’ll see a giant sucking sound as talent moves to the money. Ohio State would become “Little sisters of the poor” faster than Gordon Gee can tie a bow tie.

The reality is, being a college coach is a better job than working in a bank any day of the week (no offense to any of my banker friends) and that it’s not a job you initially go into for the money. It’s hard work, long hours and a lot of ridiculous rules thanks to the NCAA trying to maintain its stranglehold on one of the last great monopoly/slave trade operations going.

If the money that is generated by television contracts and ticket sales and licensing were divided reasonably between the players and the coaches, and the rest of it went back to the universities to help lower the cost of tuition, we’d be a long way toward reducing the skyrocketing costs of education. We’d also not be a nation of hypocrites, who believe that hard work is rewarded fairly. If you want to talk about communism in this country- how is it that every athlete gets paid the same tuition on a team (of those on scholarship) regardless of performance? While the bosses (coaches, AD’s etc.) get paid wildly well for the fruits of their labors.

It’s long overdue to change this system and pay the athletes. It’s also time to stop pretending that a coach is worth more than a university president.

Thank you NLRB for finally stepping in and doing the right thing, and congratulations for the smart players at Northwestern who stood up for their rights and called the entire country out on this disgraceful injustice.

Tax dollars going where they should: Dayton to repair basketball courts

I can tell you that there were only four basketball courts in Dayton that were worth playing on that belonged to the city last year- at the new rec center on the old Roosevelt site, 2 at Riverview and one at Jane Newcome.

Dayton Public supplied a few more to the inventory- with Dunbar and Rosa Parks having courts that were nice (although Dunbar’s needs to be swept often since it is on a flood plain- and often covered with gravel).

As part of my campaign for City Commission last year I hung more than 300 basketball nets on our lame courts and rims. Here was the video about it:

But, now, since I shamed them in the video and with my campaign last year, the city is finally going to start putting our tax dollars where they belong- into our parks.

In total, about 23 basketball courts and 15 tennis courts will be resurfaced and improved. About 13 tennis and two basketball courts will be eliminated.

“In some cases, people aren’t using these because the courts are unusable,” said Aaron Sorrell, director of the city’s department of planning and community development. “Where we’ve made improvements to our parks, we’ve seen a significant increase in use, and that’s the intent here.

“City officials evaluated 34 parks that have basketball and tennis courts, and they assessed the condition, use and location of the parks and amenities.The city identified 17 parks that need repairs, which will be performed in two phases. Each phase is expected to cost about $500,000, depending on the winning bids,’’ officials said.

via Dayton plans upgrades to 17 parks | www.mydaytondailynews.com.

I’ll still be putting nets on rims this summer. I’ve already delivered 1 net this year and had a request for another a week ago (I gave back the ladder I’d borrowed from Mike Riley of Insignia Signs and just got my new ladder this Wednesday).

My next plan is to start summer basketball camps for kids at up to 10 locations. I want to hire local college players to supervise teams of local high school players to run the camps. The high school players will be paid with funds from Montgomery County Youth Works, I just need to find between $20-40K to pay supervisors, supply balls, water buffaloes, and practice pinnies. Now, at least we’ll have some nice courts.

I’m not sure what courts are due for repair- since the DDn writer talks about parks I’ve never heard of. “Belmont park” is probably “Walnut Hills” since it’s one of two roller hockey rinks. And, why Jane Newcome is getting repaved is beyond me- when it’s almost perfect while the heavily played Dayton View park is being ignored. If there is one place that needs the lights back on for late night ball it’s at the corner of Broadway and Superior.

Of course, my name will never be mentioned in the DDn as the reason the city has finally decided to do something about our deplorable basketball courts- but that’s OK. You will know- and the kids who play, know the “net man” came last year and listened- and acted, and this year- things got better.

Thanks to those of you who really helped out last year- and I’m going to miss some names I’m sure- but Kevin B., Shannon O., Bill R., Missy W., Scott H., Tabatha M., Kyle M., Lewis G., Jim J., Adrian H., Rob D., Norm W., Isabelle S., Sara M., Brent J., Mike G., Milt C., Kevin H., Brian W., Barry B., Terry P., thanks- and also to Jai and Cory for working on the video.

My only advice to the city is: Invest in the best rim out there- one that’s built for outdoor ball and that has a design for hanging nets that can’t be beat: The First Team FT172D of all the rims I’ve seen, this is the only one that will stand up and last – can take chains or nets (please stick with nets- chains are brutal on the balls and also dangerous). It’s worth the extra money.

Thank you to the City Commission and the city staff that have made this happen. This is the kind of investment in our community I can be proud of.

Here is City Manager Tim Riordan on the planned improvements:

Who did you elect? Who you gonna call? Database 102 for Boards of Elections

On Friday, I was talking to Jan Kelly, the director of the Montgomery County Board of Elections. about a form. Trying to figure out how to accurately fill it out- and the cold hard fact was, it requested information that was totally impossible for a voter, or even the person in charge of checking that form to know what the answer was. The correct way to fill this form out was to leave information required blank.

Bad form design aside, how to find the simplest information about who and what we elect, what the qualifications for each and every public office, term dates, forms required, processes to follow are all over the place online- making getting into elected office way more complicated than it has to be. While the axiom of running government like a business is a common crutch for clueless political wannabes, the reality is that even the way to buy elected office is such a convoluted process that if elected office were an online store, it wouldn’t make very many sales.

The Montgomery County Board of Elections has an online portal to tell you if you are registered and where to vote (it’s recently been fixed so that it will even allow those without a middle name to get their information, a flaw identified by this site a few weeks ago) it doesn’t have the ability to tell you all the people who represent you and their offices.

Who represents you?

We often see a little blurb at the end of newspaper articles about how to contact your congressman with their address and phone number, but, who represents you on the State Board of Elections, who is your coroner, your party precinct captain, your county engineer, your state Supreme Court justices? Good luck at finding all that information in one place, yet isn’t this the most fundamental part of a representative democracy?

One of the reasons we have so many elections is because we have so many offices to fill and we’re attempting not to overload and confuse the voters. It’s one of the reasons the big political parties hand out the official “Endorsed candidate slate list” because, frankly, it’s too hard for most voters to fathom who they should vote for in each election without one- especially when the ballot contains candidates like judges who don’t show their party affiliation on the ballot (at least this used to be the case, I’m not even sure of where this stands right now in Ohio).

I also often get calls asking what the qualifications are for office- not just where you have to live, your age, your experience, but what petitions, deadlines, etc., are required to run for U.S. Congress- you don’t actually have to live in the district you are planning to represent, nor do you have to be born in the U.S., but to run for president you have to be born in the U.S. and have to be at least 35. As to how many signatures are required- it depends on if you are running as a candidate of a major political party or not. All these details should be available to each and every voter. For instance, even though it’s not an elected position- you don’t have to be a lawyer or have gone to law school to be on the U.S. Supreme Court- although it’s very unlikely that Congress (a body made up of a lot of lawyers) would ever confirm a non-lawyer to the bench these days, although as recently as 1941 we had a high-school dropout appointed to the bench.

The last justice to be appointed who did not attend any law school was James F. Byrnes (1941-1942). He did not graduate from high school and taught himself law, passing the bar at the age of 23.

via- Supreme Court FAQ

It would seem to me that knowing who represents you, how to contact them, the requirements of the office and the forms to file should all be available to every voter, with a simple look-up of their address, just like they have for where you vote. This should be required by law, across the land, and every effort should be made to simplify and reduce the number of forms (see this page on the Ohio secretary of state’s office for the really long list of required forms: http://www.sos.state.oh.us/sos/elections/electionsofficials/forms.aspx) My really rough count came up at 238 (not including the ones in Spanish).

The SOS site does have a page with a general description of what is voted on in the next election here: http://www.sos.state.oh.us/sos/elections/Voters/whatsontheballot/whatsOnBallot.aspx

There aren’t enough hours in the day, or dollars you could pay me to try to list all the offices from party precinct captains up to POTUS, but I’m pretty sure the list would overwhelm each and every one of you if it was readily accessible. If we want to see any real reduction of government, or better efficiencies via regionalism, this would be an amazing place to start- a simple look-up by address, of every person you are expected to elect, complete with requirements for office, terms, pay, duties and who currently sits in it.

For the closest example of anything remotely like an information page for running for office- see this page from Armstrong County, Pa.: http://www.co.armstrong.pa.us/departments/public-services/elections-votersregistration/running-for-public-office New York state also has a page: http://www.elections.ny.gov/RunningOffice.html

VoteSmart.org has a look-up list that’s semi-useful, but far from complete or up-to-date: http://votesmart.org/search?q=45410&cx=004674700904797117618%3Aiqzskagjgeo&cof=FORID%3A11#.UwnzGl6gaXQ (Gary Leitzell is still Mayor!). Common Cause has an even less complete version here: http://www.commoncause.org/siteapps/advocacy/search.aspx?c=dkLNK1MQIwG&b=4860375

What do you think?