Why does Dayton reward mediocrity?

Someone questions something in Dayton- shoot the messenger.

Yesterday, the Dayton Daily news posted an obituary on Edyth Lewis. In it, they spelled our former mayor’s name “McClin”- for pointing out the typo- I get called names, and one person suggests that if I’d die right now, it might increase my chances of winning some precincts. For those of you who don’t know, the name is McLin. We’ve got highways named after her father, a gym at WSU etc. There is no excuse other than lack of any kind of editing and proofreading talent at the paper.

Also yesterday, someone tried to claim that my recent posts about two former candidates’ death notices- not getting obits was a form of trolling for reads to this blog- and they did it on the article that was there to prove that obits were being missed.

Today, it’s front page news that Miller Valentine has a “plan” for redeveloping the “Fairgrounds like the Greene.” The paper supplies a pretty site plan picture- only, there is no indication that Miller Valentine is doing anything like the Greene. The main differences? The Greene always has had parking garages, and the development has zero exclusive residential – all of the buildings are mixed use. The Miller Valentine plan is decidedly missing both garages and has separate residential. And while they show a 35,000 square foot grocery store, the question is which company is going to use that size space? That’s approximately the size of the Wayne Avenue Kroger store which was deemed in need of replacement- which sucked over $4 million of the taxpayers’ money to create nothing.

Now, Miller Valentine has its hands out for public funds? Who is going to fill these spaces, or are we, the taxpayers, just supposed to finance their pipedream without signed leases and some sort of performance contracts in place?

Anyone can draw a pretty picture and sell an idea, but execution of it is another matter. One only has to look at Miller Valentine’s project “University Place” at the corner of Brown and Stewart to see its total failure to address parking properly- and that there are still multiple vacancies 5 years later should make it clear, this isn’t Steiner at work (developer of the Greene and Easton in Columbus).

photo by David Esrati of backboard at Princeton Recreation center in Dayton

Rotting wood, bent rim. This is at one of our few staffed recreation centers

While I was at Princeton Recreation Center (also known as Northwest or Dabny) hanging nets on Sunday- it was clear the city’s main effort at fixing up the basketball courts has been in the removal of my stickers from the poles – which give the number to call for net replacement. The kids asked me why I hadn’t fixed the crap rim and backboard- next to the rock. It’s not good enough that I hung three top of the line rims there- and keep the nets up. When I suggested they call Commissioner Williams, one of the kids- a girl who was riding around on a bike, dismissed me “we’re just trying to play basketball here.”

Mediocrity reins supreme in Dayton OH.

Disrespectful, stupid (and my mother dresses me funny)

I never made it through “How to win friends and influence people”- I found the writing style plodding. But according to one woman at Wayman AME on Hoover Ave, she hopes I never come back to Wayman, and I’m not very intelligent (which I clarified by asking her if she was calling me stupid? With which she said yes). I’m disrespectful, for coming into “her house” and “disrespecting her brother” (I take that to mean Joey Williams, who is a member of Wayman). All this was an interjection as I was getting schooled in marketing, for not spending enough time telling the congregation (whom I’ve addressed every time I’ve run for the last 20 years) what I was for, vs. what I saw as problems.

Damn, I’m confused. I always thought that if you lied in church you’d be struck by lightning.

This was the first place I was told that I couldn’t videotape the activities. John Lawson of the Linden Center was in charge of video and promised me he’d share. I almost had him let me tape when I told him my camera was bigger than his (I bring a pro rig out, he had a pocket camera). Had he let me record, the card wouldn’t have filled up and stopped half way through question and answer, but, that’s another story. I can’t show you my “disrespect” for you to judge, but hopefully he’ll put the video up soon.

So, what did I ask? I asked the people to believe me now, 20 years after I started, to trust me when I tell them that I’m not naive anymore, and I understand how things are done in Dayton. That if this city ran fair elections, William Pace would be up here too, and that the decisions of who gets to run isn’t up to the people, but a party that I belong to, but can’t agree with their methodology- one of patronage and favoritism.

I also said that no matter what anyone tells them, it takes three votes to make a change. That Nan Whaley and Joey Williams have had 2 other votes their entire time in office, and if they couldn’t do it then, what can they do now? That Gary Leitzell has been working as a team of 1 against a gang of 4. It takes three votes for a change.

I made the analogy of Dayton as a restaurant. Either your food and service are great, or people stop coming. Instead, Dayton tries to be Wal-Mart, that has a food stand- but also sells everything else. We need to stick to delivery of fundamental services and do it well. We need to offer things that no one else does, or no one will come and fix up the houses that are decaying faster than Nan can hand out demolition permits to her donors (I actually didn’t point the finger at Nan- or enunciate this as clearly).

Yes, I know, talking about how where you grew up, or where your kids went to school has served Jeff Mims well. He’s been elected over and over. But one woman, from Jefferson Township did ask if he wins a seat on the commission, will he still serve on the State School Board and he told her that he’d have to resign that seat to be on the commission. Finally- someone realized that Jeff isn’t living up to his last campaign promises, and yet he’s up here making new ones.

I did see some heads nodding along, some people get it when I say we have gang problems because we don’t have nets on rims on basketball courts, or neighborhoods that are connected by a common school. But, to answer these questions in a minute is like trying to summarize the Bible- in a hundred words or less. These candidates’ forums aren’t really forums at all- they are more like speed dating, where the fact that you are an axe murderer isn’t as important as that you smell good and smile a lot.

The woman who dressed me down, wouldn’t back down, and neither would I. She took it as a point of pride that she could tell me off and call me stupid, while not wearing a name tag or putting her name on the ballot. It’s easy to be a bystander, it’s easy to boo, it’s easy to stand on the sidelines.

The hardest thing to do in this town is to tell the truth.

It’s not the kids, it’s the parents.

Well, now I know. It’s 11pm that the kids are supposed to be inside by.

At 10:15 or so- there was a racket outside of my office. I walked out and there were 20 kids milling around the corner. I advised them in my best command voice to find their way home and their parents. They dispersed, although there seemed to be some confusion on the ownership of a bike that seemed more expensive than what these kids could afford. It was left in the street- so I moved it onto the sidewalk- before a small girl came back to claim it.

A nice couple on a motorcycle asked what was going on, and I told them that these kids seemed to be out past their bedtime.

Here is the curfew law- from the City site:

2.5 Curfew (Hours: 11:00 pm to 5:00 am)

No minor under 18 years of age shall be on a street, highway, park, alley or other public place between the hours specified unless:

(a) The minor is accompanied by a parent, guardian or other person 21 years of age or over and authorized by the parent or by law to have custody of the minor; or

(b) The minor is traveling to or from a place of employment, or is responding to an emergency, or is acting under direction of a parent or guardian; or

(c) The minor is emancipated under ORS 109.550 to 109.565.

2.5.2 Curfew Hours. The hours between 11:00 p.m. and 5:00 a.m. are the hours of juvenile curfew.

2.5.3 Police Custody. Peace officers are authorized to take minors violating curfew into custody as provided by ORS 419.569.

2.5.4 Penalty for Violation. A violation of any provision of section 2.5 of the Dayton Municipal Code is a Class B violation and is subject to a $250.00 fine per each violation.

via City of Dayton — Curfew.

Leaving the office at 11:40 or so- I still heard kids making noise from midway down the next block. I went home, dropped off my gear and went back out with a flashlight to find out why kids are in the street this close to midnight.

As I get down around 31 Bonner where there are literally kids spilling off the porch, the same couple pulls back up on the bike. This time, they aren’t so nice in asking me what I’m doing.

I explain that kids should be in bed by this hour. To which I’m told to mind my own business and who the duck do I think I am. The kids are running their mouths too- in between smoking. I point out to one that he’s not old enough to smoke- and he says “I’m seventeen.” BINGO.

The guy on the bike wants to pick a fight, the wife wants to call the cops on me- and supposedly does. I tell them I’ll wait till the cops show up. This isn’t good enough for “Dad” who wants to throw down in the worst way to show off his manhood to the “children.” This is how we teach our children in the summertime- when school isn’t in session- “and they can be up till 4:30 in the morning if they want Mother Trucker” as “mom” pipes in.

The pressure becomes too much for “Dad”- and he decides he has to protect his brood. Off comes the sweatshirt to reveal the blue “wife beater t”- and then he’s an inch in front of me. I continue to say, I’m just waiting for the police. In the meantime, “mom” is telling me about how her kids were “molested by Mexican’s just last week” and that I must be a molester too. She screams for her man to hit me- but, he can’t quite bring himself too- although I’m supposed to be shaking in my shoes. He grabs my shirt, and starts twisting me around to push me to my knees- the shirt rips, my glasses start to come off- and he starts to reach for my flashlight- as if he want’s to pull it up and choke me- then thinks better of it when he sees I’m not going to get into it with him.

I stand back up, dust off- and call 911. “I’ve been assaulted, please send an officer to 37 Bonner.” The “wife” yells- “Tell them 31, since I’ve already called them”- “OK 31″ I say- the dispatcher asks me who assaulted me, to which I reply I don’t know his name- and he proudly says “Dan Bowen Jr.”

Dispatch advises me to walk home, lock the doors and wait. The “posse” behind me hears me say 113 Bonner as my address and start repeating it as if they’d been given the combination to Ft. Knox.

The crews show up a little slow- it’s shift change in the Second District- and they were coming from the First. The officer says he was amazed to find it- of course, no GPS in the cruiser.

I give my side of it, another cruiser appears- and he tells him to head down to the lynch mob down the street.

We exchange some shared confusion about the state of East Dayton parenting, and he heads down the street.

I sit down and write. I’m still feel the adrenalin that comes with the fight or flee reflex that I seem to have learned to ignore to my own detriment. I wonder how confrontations affected Gandhi and King when they preached non-violence and held their ground and their principles.

More than anything, this convinces me that for all the “progress” we’ve made in South Park among the “neighborly”- we’ve failed to engage and provide for all the kids in the neighborhood. Had we had programs for the kids to play baseball, soccer, or basketball- had we had scout troops, and after school activities, maybe these kids would not only know me, but know better.

As the years have gone by, I’ve become less connected to the kids that walk the streets down here. I used to know many more of them, when I was working on the houses and the office.

I think it bothers me even more that Dan who lives down the street, and I, hadn’t met at a block party, or in a neighborhood meeting. He saw me as the enemy in this, when in fact, I was concerned about my neighbors.

We both live in Dayton, on the same street, yet in different worlds.

How do we fix this? I know that fighting isn’t the answer. Hopefully, he’ll learn too. I’m tempted to send some of Pizza Bill’s pizza tomorrow- because with pizza, all things are possible.

[Update 5:30 am] the left hip hurts like hell, bad day to have to go to the doctor too from a work standpoint.

No Debates, No Forums, and now- no recordings of speeches and putting them on the ‘net.

Screen shot from the Esrati video MuzzledWhat is Jane Mitakides thinking? I got a voice mail yesterday from the Warren County Democratic Party chair- stating that some of his members and Jane were upset that I recorded Jane’s presentation and my speech at the meeting and posted it on my site: Real democracy as practiced in Warren County- compare Mitakides to Esrati podcast

Let’s see: public meeting, public place, public figures talking about qualifications for public office. Hmmmm….. better not let anyone hear it.

I talked to the chair a bit later, he was a bit miffed as well, but thought I should have informed him that I was taping before I did it. I’m not sure that is a credible request in light of the previous paragraph. If this meeting was off the record- why don’t we just stop having elections and just sell the offices to the highest bidder (oops, we may be doing that already).

I responded that there is clearly a comment form at the bottom of my post, and if anyone in the Warren County Democratic Party wants to complain or comment- I provide that opportunity on my site. Try that on any of the other candidates sites. I also said if he wanted to forward me the e-mail Jane Mitakides sent to him about this, I’d be happy to post it as well.

I’ve been wondering how voters are supposed to get information about this campaign- and doing everything I can to help them. In fact, that’s what I thought political parties were supposed to do: hold debates, help candidates define the issues, support democracy and the freedoms our country was founded on.

Apparently something has changed since I read my fathers book: “Dear Son, Do you really want to be an American?” when I was 17 (and again in December of 07) – America is no longer a place where it is free to speak publicly or politically, without prior authorization by a selected few.

I’m sorry. I seem to be acting very un-American. Is it time to arrest me again?

An apology and a poor choice of words: Union + crybabies

I didn’t record my interview with Lynn Hulsey and neither did she. If I did or didn’t say it- it doesn’t matter, it’s in the paper- so it must be true.

“Crybaby” is a strong term- and applying it to the hard working people in Dayton’s proud union shops is in no way how I feel. I have friends who work hard at the truck plant- and, no, they aren’t crybabies.

There is no excuse for my poor choice of words- and I’m sorry.

I ask that you read all three candidates’ positions- and forgive me for one word- and then decide-but, here in all it’s glory is my faux pas.

Three Democrats seek March win to challenge Turner
He said labor unions have a role, such as making sure pay is fair, but not by “protecting people who are incompetent.”

“In fact, one of the reasons that people don’t look at coming into Dayton and putting in their manufacturing plants happens to be the idea that our local auto unions are strike-prone and a bunch of crybabies,” Esrati said.

I am going to clarify my position on unions, since Charles Sanders has made issue of it when I’ve heard him speak.

My father was a member of the Newspaper Guild. I walked the picket lines with him as a kid. He writes about his feelings in Dear Son. I believe in the right to organize, to strike, to protect the rights of employees, to seek safe and fair working conditions, and to keep the balance of power between employers and employees. Slavery ended in this country long ago- however, I still believe that college athletes are a perfect example of why unions are needed- and I would like nothing better than the universities to be forced to abandon the subjugation of “student/athletes” for their gross financial gain.

However, I also remember a woman whom I dated who routinely missed half of her workdays- yet, kept her job due to her tenure with union protection. At some point, unions, just like sports teams, must realize that everyone has to pull equally- isn’t that why we unionize? To give the many strength to battle on equal ground?

However, I am absolutely against union involvement in politics. How dare an organization support policy outside the workplace that may or may not be against my own personal believes and force me to contribute? Take for example the many devout Catholics who belong to unions that support pro-life candidates? Is that fair, or legal? This is why I don’t believe that unions should be involved in politics outside of the workplace.

I hope this clarifies my position, and my apology for an extremely poor choice of words.

Let me have it. I deserve it.

DDN endorses Mitakides, barely

With their normal, negative bent, the Eddie Roth-less editorial board begins their “endorsement” talking about losing. Of course, they would have said the same thing about Abraham Lincoln, but no matter. They then go on to say that Turner is unbeatable. Next comes that Jane Mitakides raised impressive amounts of money last time she got spanked with 38% of the vote.

Then they get to me, again, with a negative bent starting with one inaccuracy after another. It’s almost embarrassing that they call themselves a “newspaper.”

My first race was for Mayor- same time as Turner, who wasn’t a contender, until Mayor Dixon took me outside to attack me (the “scuffle” that the paper brought up) for asking where the money was coming from for his campaign. After that, the paper finally took off the gloves, and attacked Dixon as unfit for his questionable job performance at the Dayton Public Schools (where he was taking sick days while traveling on City business). Turner won that election by a mere 400 votes. The DDN goes on to say “Mr. Esrati is also the fellow who later wore ninja masks to city commission meetings in protest of certain rules” – leaving out that 5 courts found me right, and Turner wrong in that case. They make it seem like I did it many times, although, it was only twice, and the second time was to remind the Commission that citizen voices must not be silenced.

Obama poster: Esrati Endorsed Me“Online, Mr. Esrati has said that when he takes those tests one sees occasionally about which presidential candidate one shares the most views with, he comes up with Mike Gravel and Dennis Kucinich. He thinks this is mainly because of his views on Iraq. He says the war there was “concocted to bloster the bottom line of the military industrial complex.”” At least I have a site and say something. However, attempting to line me up with Mike Gravel and Dennis Kucinich, although I clearly state I support Obama is just another attempt to make me seem more of a fringe element. At least the smart people of OH-3 will see that I have enough balls to say something substantial, and they can find information on my site. Try that on their endorsed candidates site: Jane08.com When OHDave asked Jane who she backed- all she could come up with is the party line: “In the Presidential race, I’m supporting the Democrats!”

“He approaches the online world with relish. He is better cut out for blogging than legislating.” is their final dig. Heaven forbid, we have a candidate who actually communicates with his constituency.

They skip over Sanders, who was 30 minutes late to the meeting (which they didn’t mention) and then say Jane “Mitakides is the natural choice of the Montgomery County Democratic Party, which has endorsed her” even though the party refused to endorse her in December, and then chose her last week when they realized I was their only other choice- and I refuse to kow-tow to the unions which make up 50% of the secret society screening committee.

The paper goes on with Ms. Mitakides complaints about Turner supporting the president (he’s a Republican, isn’t that what he’s supposed to do?), that she’s a NRA supporter, and that she wouldn’t be as partisan as Turner- which means what? She’ll vote with the Republican’s more often?

Even though Jane Mitakides couldn’t get a web site up for almost a month after she turned in her petitions, and young voters have been turning out in droves (they all get their info from the ‘net) the DDN still thinks that “if the Democrats are to have any hope of giving Rep. Turner a run, they need a candidate who starts with at least the Democratic base relatively united behind her. Ms. Mitakides, though her credentials aren’t great – lacking local involvement – is the best bet.”

Wow. With an endorsement like that, who needs it?

One last thing- the DDN doesn’t even bother to put the endorsement on their site- which meant I had to waste even more time retyping their drivel. They are almost as on-top of this new-fangled-internet thing as my Grandmother (who died in 1995). [update] Finally found the link- it’s so long I’m just making a link here. Here is the link to the support letters that they published.
A second “last thing”- (Steve Jobs II here)- if you want to write a letter to the editor, now is the time- 200 words or less preferred, addressed to edletter@daytondailynews.com Make sure you include all contact info- address, phone, e-mail and REAL NAME (Juan, Gene, Pedro etc.)

How spineless Dems “in power” can rationalize supporting my campaign

“Of course, once you win the primary, you’ll have my support” said one elected.

Another worries that I’m a “loose cannon” and that I may hurt their thin skinned brethren by saying something honest like, “he’s been in office 3.5 years, and hasn’t done a thing”.

It’s not the power of my ideas, it’s all about style to these local “leaders.”

Just remember, Apple Computer fired Steve Jobs.

So, if you are a local Democratic big-wig, and need to rationalize how to endorse me (after I called on the entire party, in front of God and the Central Committee to endorse Jane Mitakides before the filing deadline so our party wouldn’t look weak) here is the answer you need:

“We should wholeheartedly endorse Esrati as a sacrificial lamb, sent off to slaughter. At least, he may act more like a lion than a lamb, and tenderize Turner for the next election cycle, after all, why should we send someone we like to get beat like a wet blanket. And, we can’t make commercials like that and get them up on YouTube and work the web like he can- maybe we can learn something by watching him work.”

Yeah, print that out and carry it in your wallet, since you seem to forget, the people of this country will elect any moron if you spin them right- need proof, look at our President.

Maybe the public is really ready for change, new ideas, and maybe even a candidate who has the guts to say: money has to stop buying policy. Yeah, and if he gets embarrassed enough, maybe he’ll just go away.

Then again there are always these words to live by: “I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

It takes character to stand up to the powers that be. Will I be judged by the power of my ideas – or is that just the dream of an idealist?

Am I an uncompromising asshole- and is that a good thing?

In the last 24 hours, I’ve talked with 2 elected representatives I respect. Both tell me the same thing: you can’t get elected if you keep stepping on toes.

The fulcrum comes from this post: How to beat Mike Turner in OH3 where I say:

What may be the most significant statement of all as to his great accomplishments as our “Urban Mayor” is that he lost in an expensive election to a woman who can barely make a speech in public- and that he soon pulled up stakes and left his urban/historic/rehab manse for a “patio home” in a gated community in Centerville (really Kettering, with a Centerville voting and school address)

First: The truth will set you free. Saying Rhine McLin can’t speak in public is honest, not hateful. For all of Turners slickness, the integrity of McLin comes through in her speaking. It’s that authenticity that helped her win, plus the fact that Turner differs from me in that his vote’s for sale to the highest bidder.

Second: strategically, I have to win Montgomery County. That requires that I connect with the voters outside of Dayton who still think Mike Turner is a pretty good guy, and can’t understand why the “morons” who live in the city- would vote for McLin over Turner. They don’t understand that we’d had enough of the “Star Power Ego” that drives Mike Turner, and wanted someone who really cared. The fact that he bled the city dry and bailed resonates in the City- the fact that he lost to her, resonates outside.

No matter how much of a jerk I am, I doubt the people of Dayton really want to reelect Mike Turner as the foreclosure rate continues to skyrocket, we still don’t have access to health care and we’re paying for schools in Iraq while our own get neglected. I’d have to be a AWOL cocaine user (oops, that’s our current President).

I’m also being told I have to play nice and sit behind closed doors for endorsement screenings at the DDN and the Montgomery County Democratic party. This goes against everything I stand for: open, honest representation- with the public being included in the process. I’m not sure what these people are afraid of- if you can’t answer honestly, in front of God and all before you are elected, how will you do it after.

I’m pretty comfortable with going against the grain. I’m sure you realize that Mark Cuban, Donny Deutsch and Steve Jobs didn’t get where they are by following prevailing “wisdom.”

The real question is- do voters care? Is it important that the people they elect are who they think they are- or just a manufactured product for mass consumption?

If elected, I’d only be one of 435 Representatives- and yes, I’d have to play nice to get things to go my way. But, if that means, start being stupid, sell-out, or forget what’s in the Constitution just because the President says we need to adopt the “Patriot Act”- I’d rather be an uncompromising asshole.

Need some props here peeps.

Goodbye Gene.

A note to readers of this site: I’ve banished Gene- at least, his comments will no longer be posted without my moderation. Insinuations and attacks are fine- but when they border on stalking and contain patent lies, well, it’s time to take away the keys to the candy store.

I don’t mind pen names- just as long as you are consistent. But, if you see me out, and don’t introduce yourself- and then claim you were there, well, in my eyes- you weren’t.  Gene can find someone else to stalk. I haven’t deleted everything he’s said- but some conversations may seem a bit out of wack.

For the record: I don’t know who he is. I don’t think he’s the sender of my wacko mail. But, I’ll be damned if I’m going to host comments about me that are unfounded by someone who won’t sign their own complete name. And, yes, I will double check the names if need be.

Gotta love “Speak Up” in the Dayton Daily News

“Re: Longtime Dayton activist Esrati to run for Congress,” Dec 15, I’m a lifelong Democrat, and David Esrati would be the absolute last person I would vote for in any election. He would be a total embarrassment. Is he just trying to get more publicity for himself?”

And, of course, since it’s “Speak Up” it’s unsigned.

My response to the gutless wonder: Be glad you will for the first time, have your Constitutionally guaranteed right to choose who you want to run for Congress as a Democrat. The decision will not be made by 48 people in a locked room on the second floor of the Montgomery County Democratic Party (even though the district involves multiple counties- thanks to Ohio’s decreased population and gerrymandering).

As to “Lifelong Democrats” – I seem to remember, a whole bunch of them voting for Mike Turner over both Richard Clay Dixon and Anthony Capizzi- to elect a Republican Mayor. So, what exactly does it mean to be a “lifelong Democrat” in Dayton?

The real embarrassment is the Democratic Party in Dayton Ohio- which insists on letting important decisions to be made behind closed doors- the same kind of behavior I protested when Mike Turner did it to eliminate citizen participation from City Commission meetings.

I won that battle, 5 times in the courts over Mike Turner. I will win in November as well.
It’s time ideas triumph over route ideology. Being a “Democrat” needs to mean we actually believe in Democracy. I say, I’m going to let the people decide.

If any of you that get why I’m running feel so inclined- don’t call the spineless Speak Up: write a letter to the DDN:

To send a letter to the editor

Include your full name and a daytime telephone number. Keep your submissions to 200 words or fewer. To publish as many letters as possible, they may be edited. No attachments, please.