Dems still endorsing in primaries

Usually, I stand up and make a speech telling the party that endorsing in primary elections is wrong. But, last night I was at the Fairgrounds to Future meeting during the party executive committee meeting.

I’ll have more on that song and dance in a later post.

Then, as I raced over to make the central committee meeting (why we have 2 meetings is beyond me) all I could think about was talking to Dennis Kucinich about my Dad. They were friends going back to when Dennis was a copy boy (yes- that was the job title) at the Plain Dealer in the sixties where my Dad was a copy editor. I had a copy of the obituary I wrote for my father printed out.

Dennis Kucinich with David Esrati

Dennis Kucinich, man of the people and a friend of my father. David Esrati (center) JFK (framed in the background right)

As I stood outside Mark Owen’s office- while Dennis was being interviewed about the closing of Good Sam, I remember my dad telling me about how Dennis had stood up for the people of Cleveland when he reversed the deal to sell the public utility, Muny Light to the Cleveland Electric Illuminating Company (CEI)  a private company. I was around 16. I had heard about Dennis through the media- where he was called the “Boy Mayor” because of both his youth- and his resemblance  to Alfred E. Newman- from Mad Magazine. The city was being punished by being forced into bankruptcy. Dad said Dennis had done the right thing, fighting the establishment that wanted to steal from the people and privatize a public service. He explained how all this worked, and said Dennis was the man for the people.

Something that’s incredibly clear now. Dennis is still fighting the good fight- for Single Payer health care, taking a stand against fracking, fighting Monsanto and their designer seeds to work with toxic weed killers.

Unlike our local party elite- I’m glad Dennis is battling Richard Cordray in a primary- although I think Rich is a really good guy too- and we don’t lose if either of them become governor, I’m going with Dennis because he’s been fighting these fights- and putting his own life on the line (there were death threats against him in Cleveland through all that turmoil) and started fighting for the people when Cordray was still in diapers.

When Dennis was done with the cameras, I said, “this might be really short, my name is David Esrati” to Dennis- he said, “Last name?” and was looking at me intently, “Esrati”- he said immediately “Steve’s son? Is he still with us” and I told him know- and handed him the obit. He started gushing about how smart my dad was, and how he had such an interesting history. It meant the world to me.

After Dennis spoke, I went back and asked to take a photo with him, mostly to show Mom and see if it would trigger any memories. She didn’t recognize Dennis, but once I started telling her who it was- it seemed to come back. She remembered her husband, and what a special man he was, just as Dennis had said.

And, shame on the Montgomery County Democratic Party for continuing to endorse in primaries.

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The Republican lie about purging voter rolls in Ohio

The entire system of voter registration in the state of Ohio is a joke, as are the processes to get on the ballot, start a voter driven initiative and to change the State Constitution. We have local “Board of (S)Elections” that are run by the two political parties for their own edification. We have multiple voter registration databases instead of one, we have different tabulation systems and even different voting machines. Nothing talks to anything smoothly, and there is no standard system.

sample canadian ballot

Paper ballots, with standardized design, marked clearly.

As if the fiasco in 2000 in Florida with the “Butterfly ballots” wasn’t enough to tell us that we may have some fundamental problems with the way we manage our elections.

Compare the last ballot you filled out- to what the standard is for all of Canada. There is no question of who, or what you are voting for. The registration system is also national, not local. The real question is why is removing people from voter rolls so critical? Is it because of voter fraud? We’ve not seen any evidence of that (except Dr. Adil Baguirov and his business partner who were allowed to vote from a place they didn’t live- without consequence or investigation) I once identified something that looked like we had a problem with our voter database in Montgomery county- but no one seemed to care.

So now, our method of purging voters has made it all the way to the Supreme Court, which is absolutely fascinating, because, I have proof (I’m saving it for the end) that the purge of voters isn’t about anything but keeping voters away from the polls, limiting elections to the party faithful (the Monarchy of Montgomery County etc.) and nothing else.

In a spirited argument on Wednesday (Jan. 10, 2018), the Supreme Court appeared deeply divided over whether Ohio may kick people off the voting rolls if they skip a few elections and fail to respond to a notice from state officials.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor said Ohio’s approach effectively disenfranchised minority and homeless voters in the state’s major cities and was part of a broader effort to suppress voting.

“All of these impediments result in large numbers of people not voting in certain parts of the state,” she said.

But Justices Anthony M. Kennedy and Stephen G. Breyer expressed concern about maintaining the integrity of the state’s list of eligible voters.

“The reason they’re purging them,” Justice Kennedy said, “is they want to protect the voter rolls from people that have moved.”…

Ohio is more aggressive than any other state in purging its voter rolls. After skipping a single federal election cycle, voters are sent a notice. If they fail to respond and do not vote in the next four years, their names are purged from the rolls.

A few other states use similar approaches, but not one of them moves as fast. “Ohio is the only state that commences such a process based on the failure to vote in a single federal election cycle,” said a brief from the League of Women Voters and the Brennan Center for Justice. “Literally every other state uses a different, and more voter-protective, practice.”

Source: Supreme Court Weighs Purge of Ohio Voting Rolls – The New York Times

At the exact time this was going on, I received an automated piece of mail from the Montgomery County Clerk of Courts (the office Russ Joseph was just anointed to) addressed to my dead father (Aug 18,2016) asking him to report for Jury Duty.

One would think that when a death certificate is filed with county, that record would clearly be used to purge the voter rolls and the DMV registrations. Looking up my dad at both the state and local level, he’s not in the voter database, so how is he being called for Jury duty?

Must be his drivers license, which should have been terminated as well. Of course, when going to vote, a state issued ID is mandated, so wouldn’t it be appropriate to remove that record as well?

Being the dutiful son, I went to the website and filled out the questionnaire to request he be excused. He qualified because of his age, but- I made sure to fill in a reason he couldn’t serve “Because I am dead, Aug 18, 2016).

Imagine my surprise a week later when I got the form letter to the dead guy- that he was excused from Jury duty. Why thank you Russ Joseph.

Maybe it’s time Ohio stopped entrusting the voter rolls and DMV records to incompetents.

That may go a long way to stopping the argument about purging voter registrations without involving the Supreme Court.

It’s still a party instead of an organization for all local dems

Somewhere I read the invite wrong- I thought the Montgomery County Democratic Party was actually going to admit that their way of working wasn’t, and it was time for a real change.

I went to the meeting last Thursday night in the stunning new quarters (the old building was a shithole) and saw a huge crowd, including many fresh faces. The time to do a mea culpa was ripe- after Montgomery County voted for Trump, and Gary Leitzell came withing spitting distance of dethroning Debbie Lieberman on the county commission, despite spending almost no money, creating no organization, and having zero support from the local Republican party which may be only slightly more incompetent than the local dems.

The fact that the opposing party chair, Sheriff Phil Plummer was unopposed, despite news story after news story of incompetence, criminal behavior and racist tendencies in his department should be the first clue that the Dems are impotent.

But, we got a short speech from Party Chairman Mark Owens, a short speech from Mayor Nan Whaley- who still think that electing a woman president is more important than electing democrats, and the introduction of Sarah Greathouse as the new executive director. Willis Blackshear stepped up to speak for Fred Strahorn, as if only a black elected man can stand in for another black elected man ( of which there are only a handful in this county), and then off to socialize.

Greathouse and her husband have been political campaign consultants in the area for at least the last ten years. They’re part of the party inner circle. It will be interesting to see if she is able to bring some sophistication to the mechanics of the organization- starting with a website that isn’t a joke.

Nothing was said about a plan to regain seats, although they did have a monster list of all the seats that will be available in 2017 for people to volunteer to run for.

That list should be available, along with every open seat, requirements for running, job responsibility, etc on the local board of elections site- but that would require competency there too- which isn’t possible since the people running the BOE are appointed by the incompetent parties, neither of which actually has wanted people who aren’t on the friends and family plan to run.

What the party needed to do?

Stop all endorsing of candidates in primaries and pre-selection process. The object is to elect dems, not to narrow the field before an election. A party with a strong and active base, should be able to inform their members of who their choices are- and by members, I mean all Dems in the County- not just the card carrying cabal that has been running things for time eternal.

Bring  back the candidates school, but take a lot of the trouble of running a campaign out of the hands of novices. It’s hard enough for people to decide to step up to run, while having jobs, families, and other responsibilities- but also having to learn how to do a website, manage the voter walking lists, craft campaign materials, order signs, distribute said signs and materials, go to candidates nights, knock on doors and of course raise money.

This is the parties job. It would be easier to build one network of websites for all Dem candidates, including donation tools, manage all the door-to-door data and targeting for candidates (who generally have no idea how data-driven modern campaigns are- or would have any way of managing it)- building one master list of Dem voters and letting all the candidates update and use it. Never again should a presidential campaign come to town- building the data from scratch as well as finding the people to do the work, that should be in place. That’s the difference between a political organization- and a “Party” that’s more like a social club for those who know the handshake.

And most importantly, someone needs to build a data wall- of all the available offices- and start planning who will run for every seat, in the not only the next election, but also the one after that and the one after that. I like Rob Klepinger, but, running him against Mike Turner twice was a joke, as have been every other challenger for the last 14 years.

The real key will be to take over the statehouse despite gerrymandered districts for the 2020 session- when redistricting is up next- or, figure out a legal strategy to force districts that make both geographic and rational sense. While Turner’s district is actually now manageable in one media market, a look at the seat vacated by John Boehner and now owned by Warren Davidson- that stretches from Cincinnati up to Mercer County- is not.

An inclusive organization, that puts democratic principals ahead of personal relationships is the only way we’ll see change.

Willis Blackshear and I will have a sit down after the turn of the year to discuss these issues. I already know we don’t agree on the endorsement in primaries, but, we’ll see who is more persuasive.

Telling people “it’s not your time” or asking them “if we don’t endorse you, will you drop out” are the two least democratic sayings of the local party.

And if you need proof of why parties aren’t the best people to pick candidates, twice the local party and the state and national party chose a woman to run for president, only to be beat by a novice black man with an Arabic middle name the first time, and by a reality show host the second.

Unfortunately, for this current crew- their next best choice for running a governor is probably a reality show host who was arrested for picking up a prostitute- Jerry Springer. Need I say more?

Let there be light. A video about Dayton’s misplaced priorities

First there was CityWide development- a quasi-government organization that sucked up tax dollars to fix up a house here or there. 30 years later, it’s a fricking bank, building spec buildings that it rents for sub-market rates and hurts local property owners who try to compete. This is the worst of governement.

We don’t vote on who runs CityWide, we barely pay attention to it. And we’ve never asked for our money back- because, well, it’s supposed to come back as the “vibrancy factor”- as in, if we fake looking successful, we’ll be successful. You know people like this- it’s called “fake it till you make it” and if you don’t “make it” – at least you look good doing it.

Then we added the Downtown Dayton Partnership. At first we paid a snake oil salesman a ton of money to “revitalize downtown”- until he ran out of town on a rail, and we started using it as a place to park people we liked and wanted to pay well with no real oversight. We even passed an extra tax levy to fund them. Their major contribution 15 years later- they hire a company from out of town (out of state really) to pay people minimum wage to be “ambassadors” (a fancy name for street sweepers) to keep downtown clean. Their big twice a year parties- Urban Nights, are done with- after mobs of kids of the wrong color decided to come en masse.

Next up, the Port Authority. What’s this? They build buildings for rich private companies, but don’t have to pay property taxes on them, because “we” own them. The idea is, we get income tax from them, so it’s all ok. Can’t give the money to the Dayton Public Schools, because they, well, suck, but- we can give money to city government, because, they do such a great job (at getting themselves and their friends re-elected).

Throw in the Dayton Development Coalition for good measure. They take care of our Congressman (and they used to take care of his now X-wife- remember “Get Midwest”)- because, well, he makes money come back to the companies we built the buildings for that don’t have to pay taxes. You shouldn’t pay attention to these people either- but if you’re wondering why Wright State is in a bunch of trouble, look to former Port Authority and Dayton Development Coalition “leaders” who are right in the middle of it.

So now, we’re supposed to raise the already high Dayton City Income tax to 2.5% because a bunch of the people who either get handouts from government, don’t pay taxes, or have been buying the people in power off for a long time, put a few hundred thousand into a campaign to tell you that you need ANOTHER quasi-government slush fund to pay for pre-school for all.

Let’s be clear. All of Dayton’s eligible four year olds is about 1,500 kids each year. That’s about 1 % of the population. But, Dayton Public Schools, a public system, with lots of oversight, already provides FREE pre-school that’s “5 star rated” to about 400 students and isn’t at capacity. If they had some more money, they could provide transportation which would boost their numbers.

But, no- along comes Dr. Tom Lasley, with his “Learn to Earn” program. He thinks that if he gets every kid into pre-schools, even if they are run by someone in a house, and are “three star” or more, he’ll dramatically change the educational outcomes of Dayton Public Schools.

This is hooey. No amount of pre-school preparation are going to solve the fundamental problems facing Dayton kids. Hunger, homelessness, drug addiction, parents incarcerated, pre-school doesn’t fix that. “Learn to Earn” is a phrase I personally find revolting. I learn because I love learning. To me knowledge and education are a form of worship. It’s how we evolve. It’s not how we earn. This phrase, when applied to our community that is disadvantaged in so many ways, reminds me of “Work sets you free” which was what the Nazi’s put on the gates of hell. I don’t make that comparison lightly.

The four to five million that we will donate to “Learn to Earn” may provide pre-school to another 500 students- but the real bonus is to the staff – including Dr. Lasley, who will spend 20% of it on paying themselves and for overhead. Next up is all the pre-schools that will now be able to get public money for day care- for anyone- not even poor kids, who are already covered by Title 20 money. That’s right, if you live in Dayton, and make $200,000 a year, you can have “Learn to Earn” pay for your child care while you work third shift at Miami Valley Hospital. They didn’t tell you that part.

Of course, Issue 9 is also going to pay for more cops. Let’s talk about “more cops.” Dayton used to have a force of over 500. We are at near our lowest staffing levels ever. But, there are probably 600 cops in Dayton now- the problem is they work for the people who are giving money to this campaign. The hospitals all have private police forces, the universities all have private police forces, MetroParks has a private police force. They don’t answer to anyone. Need a clue how this works Dayton? Ask Samuel Dubose. Any more questions?

And while a small business can’t get their parking lot access restored on North Main Street- because “there is no money available,” the City of Dayton has money for buying back the hole in the ground on Ludlow. And, we always have tax abatement plans for companies where the CEO’s annual salary has two commas in it. GE, CareSource, Emerson, Premier Health etc.

If we were going to raise taxes and wanted to improve our neighborhoods, and do something for all of Dayton- we could invest in free wifi city wide. All of the 15,000 Dayton Public School students will have their own computer next year- but many don’t have internet access anywhere but school. Bridge the digital divide with that money and you open the flood gates to online, self-guided learning for 15,000 kids- instead of preschool for 1500- and guess what, we can even let the taxpayers use it too.

Believe it or not, the United Nations Human Rights Commission declared internet access a fundamental human right back in 2011. No one declared preschool one.

Watch the video. Share the post. Vote no on issue 9.

We can raise taxes when it’s actually for the people, by the people, not another sell out to private enterprise.

Hara should be the new fairgrounds, run by MetroParks and the Convention and Visitors bureau

Hara ArenaIt’s time to stop playing around with the fairgrounds relocation. The first clue should have been when Hamvention moved to Greene County.

The second should have been when a local pro-sports franchise decided to sit out a season. Dayton built a really nice stadium for the Dragons and gave it away for 20 years. The Nutter Center stole hockey from Hara- very expensively, and then killed it because the building is a disaster to begin with.

Face it. Private enterprise can’t compete with public dollars- and we’ve done everything we can to put the Wamplers out of business, starting with the ridiculous tax burden which takes no heed of the economic development bonus they provided.

Yes, it’s now a shithole. But, dump $20 million into it, make it public, and voila- back comes Hamvention, back comes hockey, and who knows what else. Put the fairgrounds there too. Why not? It’s closer to agricultural parts of the county than downtown is.

And, Jackie Powell has it right:

Hara is a unique venue because it has an arena component as well as a number of different buildings,” (Jacquie) Powell  (president and CEO of the Dayton Convention & Visitor’s Bureau) said. “When you look at the Convention Center, it’s a different setup. The arenas are different too. For the summer months it makes it difficult for us to position groups there.”Furthermore, Hara’s 7,000-seat capacity was the fifth largest in the area — only 13,400-seat UD Arena, 11,000-seat Welcome Stadium, 10,000-seat Nutter Center and 9,000-seat Fifth Third Field are larger.

Source: Hara Arena’s closure highlights needs for updates at other Dayton-area venues – Dayton Business Journal

Turn it into a public venue, invest a little, and give it better management, and we’re all better off. Build a nice soccer/football stadium up there too- and hold regional games. Might be a great place for a regional olympic swimming pool too.

Book sales, Hamvention, and a hockey team are ready to come back, if the County and the fairgrounds board would just stop futzing around.

Make it a joint project between Metroparks and the Dayton Convention and Visitors Bureau for funding and ownership.

Problem solved.

 

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