What do ‘endorsements’ mean in Dayton, Ohio?

The mailer came to my mother’s house yesterday- the “slate card” or “dummy voters guide”- The Endorsed Candidates of the Montgomery County Democratic Party. These endorsements were decided back in January, publicly, and before that privately. It was done without hearing the candidates making a single stump speech, without a primary, by a small, self-selected group of the Montgomery County Democratic Party Central Committee. The “screening” is just for show as well- as the party’s inner circle- the people in charge of the “Friends and Family” plan in Montgomery County- take care of their own. These people control a lot of patronage jobs – from the Board of Elections (which is 100% patronage) to many jobs in the city and county that are hired directly by the officeholders. Being endorsed by the party gives you access to data and resources that aren’t available to other people in your party- like email lists, telephone banks, auto dialers, and donor lists. It’s like going to play monopoly- with 90% of the money.

In Dayton, it’s rare that anyone beats the party in the down-ticket (less hype races). A few have. Mostly in special elections, or by tricking the voters as Judge Bill Littlejohn did when his poll people handed out a slate card full of Dems- with his picture and name on it- even though he was running as a Republican. The party howled, but by then the damage was done- he’d won. Dean Lovelace only got elected because he jumped from the general election to a special election and beat two “name brand” party wives by a slim margin in a four-way race. I siphoned off some of the old girls’ votes to help him get there. Other than that- the party wins and likes to keep it that way.

The mayor’s race isn’t quite the same. Turner beat Dixon- by a slim 400 votes, partly because Dixon had caved on the landfill on the West Side- and partly because he just wasn’t that impressive on the campaign trail or in office. McLin beat Turner because Turner had pissed off a lot of people with his arrogance and his inability to share the credit- of course it didn’t matter since he’d already set his sights on Congress which gerrymandering had just opened the door for him to win. Leitzell overcame 10-1 odds in spending and 100-1 odds according to the political pundits- because McLin’s campaign assisted him with multiple mailings getting his name out- and that McLin hadn’t done much in 8 years other than change hats and glasses.

Endorsements by unions is another claim that seems to go along with winning. Mike Turner had an endorsement from the Dayton Firefighters when he ran against Clay Dixon. Whaley is proudly advertising she has their endorsement. The reality is the union that endorsed Turner had twice as many members- and they all lived in the city. No longer the case. The firefighters and the FOP didn’t even screen commission candidates in this race.

Labor union endorsements bring big money to a campaign- Whaley raked in multiple checks of $10K each. Even if the rank and file don’t agree with leadership’s pick- they know that they have to place the signs in their yards- for fear of retribution. Many will work to distribute lit, or man phone banks, or will stand outside the polls on election day because that’s what you do- but, it doesn’t mean that they necessarily will vote the union line. You find this out by knocking on doors and having candid conversations with people. The real damage is the money- candidates will always have to remember whom they owe as long as they hold office. The other damage is that campaigns get expensive quickly when you start talking handicapping- candidates are often judged by the money they’ve raised and people seem to think dollars raised somehow equals votes.

A lot of people looked at the “primary” results in May and seem to think that it’s an indication of the election coming this Tuesday. It’s not. First off- the election in May was a runoff election- to narrow the field because voters in Dayton are considered too stupid to make a decision among more than two choices. The time frame to campaign is compressed- 60 days- and the turnout incredibly low. These elections are typically decided by the people who are most connected to the party- or are politically dialed in.

This last election saw almost 2,000 previous “super voters”- who typically vote in every election- take a pass. The turnout of 10,000 was less than a third of the people who generally vote in these elections. And then there is the money- spending $50 per vote in the mayor’s race isn’t exactly something to brag about- it’s a sad commentary on what politics has become in this country – an auction to the highest bidder.

Gary Leitzell came up 238 votes short after spending around $2,000- or a dollar a vote. Knocking on a few more doors- or a robocall- or a mailing- and things would have changed. He hzs now backed A.J. Wagner and if all the Leitzell voters go for A.J., this race is a dead heat, despite the lopsided money. I’ve knocked on a lot of doors where people’s disdain for Whaley was clear. Very few have been anti-A.J.- unless they were either political insiders who don’t like the fact that he turned his back on the party way and ran against their pick- or, they had somehow been connected to him through the courts. It’s hard to vote for the guy who put your baby-daddy in the pen.

As for me and my “endorsements”- I screened with the UAW, AFSCME, DEA- telling all, that I’d accept an endorsement, but not the money that comes with it. None endorsed me. The DEA endorsed both Wagner and Whaley which is kind of counter-productive, but this isn’t an organization that brings big money to the table or has contract negotiations with city hall. In fact, it’s the first time I’ve ever seen them involved in a commission race- but, the fact that their former leader, lobbyist Jeff Mims, is running may be the reason. Despite my plan to get all DPS students online with iPads and citywide wifi- I’m not their guy.

I’m not a conventional candidate by any means- so, of course, I do my “endorsements” differently- asking people who know me, who are known in the community to do short video testimonials- typically- one take- no editing- to share their opinion of me. They don’t sugarcoat my personality- which is often called “abrasive”- but, if you want anything to be finely polished- you know sandpaper is the tool you use. Get used to it. Pouring honey on things makes it sweet- but it also makes things sticky- and in politics sticky isn’t good- see congress today for the mess they’ve got us into.

Each video is about 2 minutes- plus or minus. The most recent and final one- is Gary Leitzell, endorsing me- watch and draw your own conclusions:


2 support letters in the Dayton Daily News

I was shocked and surprised to see 2 letters in support of my campaign in a Sunday edition of the Dayton Daily News. These letters were in reaction to the article published Friday, Aug. 23, and posted here: http://esrati.com/the-reality-of-a-publicity-stunt-esrati-puts-nets-on-rims/10309/

‘Planting the seed for grassroots change’

Re: “Esrati’s hoops promise enlivens campaigns,” Aug. 23: It shows tremendous creativity to use campaign dollars to both promote your platform and help the community with tangible and much-needed improvements to public spaces. This type of creativity is exactly what Dayton needs in the city commission, especially when using tax dollars. Awesome ideas have come forth over the last few years, but our region deserves more ideas and innovation. Usable, pleasant parks and public spaces improve real estate prices, increase safety, promote cohesion and have proven economic development impacts. It is planting the seeds for grassroots change.

In this campaign, David Esrati is showing his passion for — and commitment to — our community, as well as his willingness to work with other leaders to make a lasting impact. It is time for us to be innovative again, and having Esrati as part of the commission team will get us there. SHANNON O’NEILL, DAYTON

More publicity stunts needed here

City Commissioner Joey Williams describes candidate David Esrati’s efforts to improve the conditions of Dayton’s basketball courts in city parks as a publicity stunt. Really? Maybe Williams and fellow commissioners might sanction an official “publicity stunt” by directing the Department of Public Works to do its job. Esrati is correct in describing the condition of Dayton’s parks as disgraceful.

Further, the condition of Dayton’s highways, right of ways and street boulevards also display an obvious lack of attention. Neighborhood marker signs are covered with weeds. Driving highways through and near downtown, one can observe brush growing through guardrails and debris piled up along the edges of pavement. When highways and on/off ramps finally are mowed, they are butchered, appearing burnt and dead. The green spaces within city limits are not maintained in anything approaching what taxpayers should expect.

Unfortunately, the citizens of Dayton have accepted the city’s excuses of funding difficulties, staff shortages, etc., and thereby lowered their expectations of how our city should appear. In truth, there is no excuse. Under the “leadership” of the current city commission, the appearance of our city’s green spaces has dramatically deteriorated.

Dayton needs new blood, someone with creative problem-solving skills and an aggressive vision. Indeed, if Esrati’s effort to improve the playability of our parks’ basketball courts is a publicity stunt, I, for one, would like to see more of it. TAMRA R. WEST, DAYTON

I’ve actually felt like a slacker this week- since I’ve had to rest to recuperate from my surgery, but, I’ve not gotten any calls for replacement nets either.

This Monday, the 16th. there is a candidates’ night at Lohrey Center at 6:30 p.m., hosted by the BEH Neighborhood association. On Wednesday, there is one for the Greater Dayton Real Estate Investors association, but it is a regional event. Keep track of candidates’ events here: http://electesrati.com/?page=CiviCRM&q=civicrm/event/ical&reset=1&list=1&html=1

I’m still committed to running for under $10,000. If you look at the campaign tracker in the sidebar you’ll see that I’m still about $3,000 short. If you feel the way these two letter writers do, please consider a donation: www.electesrati.com/donate-2
Anything over $10k will be spent on new backboards and rims in city parks. (note- I’ve had 3 rims donated and I’ve installed them at Princeton Rec Center).

David Esrati speaks to the Dayton Baptist Pastors and Ministers Union of Greater Dayton

I arrived when I was supposed to. Commissioner Joey Williams was in the middle of his presentation, I turned on the iPhone and recorded. After him came Joe Lutz, who is now talking about city wide WiFi- as if it’s his idea. He’s going to use the money he wants to collect from it to pay for house demolition. Seriously, he’s way out there. My idea of citywide WiFi is to make it free for all, with limits, and unlimited for those who pay, or for Dayton Public School students, who would be able to sign into the same filtered system they use at school.

Then Jeffery J Mims, Jr., talked a lot about himself.  David Greer spoke briefly. Nan left after Mims spoke. The mayor was already done and gone before I arrived, and I don’t know if A.J. Wagner spoke to them today, but I suspect not.

I’ve taken the time to put my speech into an MP-3 you can stream or download. I cover as much as I can before the tap on the back from Rev. William Schooler, whom I first met when I was running for mayor 20 years ago. I won’t quit running until I win and build the Dayton of the future.

You can listen and see what you think.


If I have more than 3 requests in comments- I’ll post the whole thing tonight.

David Esrati on creating careers (not just jobs)

The idea of starting The Next Wave really began the year I graduated from Wright State- it was 1988, and I knew there wasn’t an ad agency in Dayton doing the kind of work I wanted to do. Most people would have moved to New York, Chicago, LA, San Francisco, Minneapolis or Portland OR, but, instead, I tried to move them here.

It took 2 years to get 100 Bonner transformed from the $2,200 boarded-up disaster into the building it is today, and in March of 1990, I had a Mac SE-30 with 4mb of RAM and a 20 MB hard drive, a Laserwriter II and no clients. I rented out part of my office to John Walker, former co-worker at Graphica, who is an amazingly talented graphic designer. We had separate businesses but worked together a lot. I sold, wrote, and marketed, he designed with markers and tissue paper and then I’d do production on a black and white screen of color projects.

My first employee was Jeanne Destro. You may remember her as DJ on WVUD, Magic104, WTUE. She introduced me to George Wymer who taught me everything I needed to know about buying radio. We did work for the Dayton Dynamo- and I remember sitting in a closet at WTUE with a very young Jim Hausfeld who helped us create cassette tapes of cuts of music to play in breaks- things like “Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap” by AC/DC. Hausfeld went on to the head of commercial production for all of Clear Channel only recently leaving there to become a creative director at The Ohlman Group.

There are a ton of other people who helped my company grow. But there was one thing I learned before I got my first job in the field was that while a lot of people would interview me, only one gave me a chance in the business- Larry Holland, and that was only after five months of me pestering him. Larry ran Graphica, a company that formed by siphoning off half the team and half the clients from Wanamaker Advertising Arts. In the ad business this is typically how new firms start up- stealing accounts and talent and setting up a new shop. It was something I swore I’d never do. Even though Larry fired me after a few months after I’d rubbed one of his partners the wrong way after getting them into Mead Data Central (a client they continued to do work for – including the re-branding to LexisNexis) he remained a friend and mentor all the way up until his premature death about 14 years ago.

I promised myself to give young kids a chance at my place. I’ve never refused to review a portfolio, speak to students, offer assistance. I’ve had probably 20 interns that got their start in the business at The Next Wave, and I’ve also probably given as many  their first job.  In an attempt to share with you the parts of me that you won’t read about in the paper, or get from reading this blog, I asked for people who knew me to volunteer to tell their story. I’ve already posted Brad Proctor’s and Stacy Thompson’s testimonials. This post is about starting the career of Alan Dickinson, a young man who came to me to intern and now works for Frog Design at their NYC office. He was the first to step up to tape, but it took us a little longer since we had to wait for some footage from NYC.

While lots of politicians talk about job creation, I’ve actually been creating careers since starting my own. Here’s the story of one of them:

Alan came to me as a 16 year old kid at Vandalia Butler. Normally, you only get a job in an ad agency at that age if your parents own it. He brought a painting he did at 12 that was better than somethings I’ve seen hanging on gallery walls, and a hand crafted box that he’d created to give something to his girlfriend Katie. I gave him a chance. Here is what he had to say about it:

To add a few personal things about me that you might not know:

  • I grew up in a house that was built in Cleveland as a prototype for the 1939 New York World’s Fair by an architect, Harold Burdick. It was built using the modern materials of the day- steel frame, plywood, glass block and was sponsored by GE as the “all electric house.” Reportedly it had the first two fluorescent lights in a residence. We had a lot of Lumiline light fixtures to illuminate the glass block bays. When my parents bought it in 1971 it was a mess- the glass block was mostly broken due to the steel rusting and expanding, crushing the block- they restored it and had it placed on the National Register of Historic places.
  • I was the first junior to ever be named photo-editor of my high school’s yearbook. I spent 11th grade taking more pictures than notes and had to work extra hard my senior year just to have enough credits to graduate. I built my own darkroom in the “wine cellar” of the house and shot over 200 rolls of film that year. I still love to take pictures.
  • A friend of my father’s, David Bensman, was a “Big Brother” to several kids as I grew up. He was one of my favorite people, he always had a sense of humor and liked to talk with all kinds of funny accents. He worked as a ceramics engineer of some sort at Ferro in Cleveland, coming up with coatings for your stove or refrigerator. When I was in high school I became friends with one of his “littles” and realized how much of an impact Dave had made on this young man. He was my inspiration to do the same when I got to Dayton. For the last 24 years, I’ve been following in his footsteps. Unfortunately, Bensman was shot to death in a home invasion around 15 years ago. I still think of him often and miss him.


Stacy Thompson, Dayton’s bravest elected representative on David Esrati

I stopped by the Occupy Dayton HQ tonight to see “While we Watch” a 40-minute film about the news media and the power of citizen journalists.

I heard an unattibuted quote that I really liked: “If it can be destroyed by the truth it should be” and with a quick search it turns out the exact quote is “That which can be destroyed by the truth, should be” – P. C. Hodgell

In many ways, it strikes me as the reason I began this site: to try to undo the damage done to my reputation by the Dayton Daily News editorial board and the DDN coverage of my activism. I needed to counter the mailings of the madman who had people believing that I had nothing better to do than send wacko mail to people in power for years. And I needed to expose the behind-closed-door workings of this community. This site is well read- especially by the people who have been doing those back-room deals. It’s taken a long time, but finally people are starting to understand who I am and what I stand for- straight from my site, without the distortion filter the media uses to distract us from the truth.

There are still a lot of people who hear my name and instantly hang up the phone. I know, because my 84 year old mother has been calling voters about the campaign for the last 2 weeks and has heard it all. She marches on.

I put out a call for people to “testify” about the real David Esrati. A few have stepped up. The best known and bravest (and also the one who received more votes than the Mayor, Nan or Joey in the last commission election I was allowed to participate in)  is Dayton Board of Education member Stacy Thompson. As an “endorsed Democrat” she’s taking a risk and pushing the envelope and inviting the wrath of our insular party.

In my eyes, this makes her the bravest elected representative in the region. (By the way, both Stacy and Brad Proctor did their videos in one take, no edits)

Thank you Stacy. We will see if the truth does any damage.

Would anyone else like to share their thoughts on camera?

“In praise of Esrati” for YouTubeilizing the revolution

The website “Watching the House” posted today praising my grassroots campaign to inform the voters of OH-10 of what’s going on with their candidates. While the major media has ignored this race (the lone exception is the Washington Courthouse Record Herald) I’ve done my best to keep you informed. Here is my youtube channel: https://www.youtube.com/electesrati it has 43 videos right now- and more are being uploaded as I write.

Here is what “watching the House” said:

Ohio activist and Congressional candidate David Esrati doesn’t just post his campaign videos and public speeches, he also films all of his competitors‘ speeches fairly and uploads them for a worldwide audience.

*** ***

that’s 32 videos in the last 3 weeks, and more to come on Thursday after the Valentine’s Beavercreek Chamber event. this is no trivial event given that 2 weeks ago, most candidates didn’t even have websites, and upstart candidate and pizza delivery guy Ryan Steele still has not provided so much as an email address. Even the candidate Esrati most often clashes with, Sharen Neuhardt, has more easily-accessible video available than most candidates in the entire nation.

Thus far, Watching the House has gathered information on 120 congressional districts in 11 states* and has carefully charted every candidate in the 4 states holding March primaries (45 districts in OH, AL, MS, and IL). no district compares to Ohio’s 10th in the wealth of information publicly available.

It is largely due to the diligent work of David Esrati. in many districts (especially rural districts), candidates have much less internet exposure. it is also in those districts, at least in Ohio, where incumbents appear primed for walk-over victories.

via in praise of esrati | Watching the House.

When Gil Scott-Heron said “The revolution will not be televised” he was correct- but, it will be on YouTube. I can guarantee you that.

As to Sharen Neuhardt having video– it’s left-overs from her last campaign- where she spent three quarters of a million dollars. Unfortunately, her video looks dime store. Here is one of her top viewed videos:

What we really need is substance, instead of these three minute and five minute speeches. Real debates, real positions. It’s unfortunate that in making campaigning “politically correct” we’ve taken the politics out.

On the campaign trail, I’ve only had one chance to ask a question of Ms. Neuhardt, you can judge how she answered it:

Brad Proctor on David Esrati

If you only read the Dayton Daily News of old about me, or caught me on broadcast TV you would probably think of me a lot differently than the people who know me. I am my father’s son- people either love me or hate me, there isn’t really a middle ground. Agent provocateur, insurgent, linchpin, rabble rouser, harbinger of the revolution or jerk, gadfly, idiot, dufus, moron have all been thrown my way at one point or another.

For years, it didn’t help that someone, for almost 10 years, was anonymously sending out really bizarre letters all over town to people in high places and putting my name and return address on them. I posted about what I called the “Wacko Mail” after a hometown (Celina- in case you didn’t know) girl told me I was the wacko who was sending her boss mail (she worked for the Downtown Dayton Partnership). The author was finally caught and promised never to do it again, but, considering many people used to think I was the author the damage had been done.

So, I put up a post inviting people to “testify” for me on camera. Had no clue who’d show up or what they would say. Some people aren’t comfortable on video and required some editing. But, this video required none. One take- 5 minutes and 2 seconds.

Brad Proctor tells the story of how we first met- when I was going door-to-door campaigning in my first run- for mayor- in the race where Turner and I first crossed paths. Ironically, his friend Mark Shaver- was the city inspector who caused me to have my first run-in with the city over my garage doors in the historic district. There is one correction- I’ve only run for mayor one time, the rest of my runs were for commission and congress.

Brad does share that being honest in Dayton, publishing this blog, questioning those in power is detrimental/dangerous to my livelihood. My political speech has gotten me arrested, turned friends against me when I’ve questioned their meal tickets, polarized people and made the prospect of working with my firm considered riskier, no matter how good the work we produce or how competitively we do it. Those of you who have trusted me and my firm (The Next Wave) and taken the risk, I am indebted and grateful. And to Brad, who just left his job at Tech Town where he has been working without pay for the last year in order to keep paying his staff of two who were let go in January, I am also grateful for your candid speech on my behalf.

I’ll have a few more of these to post before the primary. We’re still looking to do more, so if you are interested in talking about how I, or how this site, esrati.com, has impacted your life, or the community, we’ll be happy to come out and film you.

And, just for kicks I thought I’d add a few personal things about me that you may not know to each of these:

  • I don’t drink alcohol, coffee or tea. My favorite indulgence drinks are Virgils Root Beer (made with real cane sugar), Orange Julius, and Chocolate malts on rare occasion.
  • I still play ice hockey- defense, in the Huff-N-Puff league at the Kettering Rec. It’s a 30 and over, no checking, recreational league. PizzaBill who comments here, was the one who got me to strap back on the skates about ten years ago, for which I’m very thankful.
  • My first job was working at a small family owned “Stereo” store- when I was 12. I began working there because I played the sax and needed a way to play cassette tapes from my sax teacher, the very talented Art Blazer. I don’t play my sax very often anymore, but I love music and have a pretty big record collection (yep vinyl) of mostly jazz and blues, but I also love Motown. Favorite artists outside of jazz and blues are Buckwheat Zydeco (who I became friends with when we swapped building his first website in exchange for using some of his music for the South Park Soliloquy video I did for the neighborhood) J. Geils Band, Steve Winwood, James Brown, Joe Jackson, Seal, Lenny Kravitz, Macy Gray, Joss Stone, the Beastie Boys (instrumental only), Erika Badu, The Beatles, the Rolling Stones and Dread Zeppelin.

Now you know me better.

Candidate efficiency – the only way David will beat Goliath

Running for an open seat is much easier than facing a 5x incumbent. Our current  system of elections, more resembles a football betting pool, with score being kept as a function of fundraising. It has to stop.

There is nothing more disappointing when great, well funded candidates lose. I watched one last cycle, as Tommy Sowers, a man with impeccable credentials lost out to a mediocre incumbent. I’ve also seen firsthand the amazing upset victory claimed by Dayton Mayor Gary Leitzell- a man with zero of the regular credentials.

Looking forward to the Democratic Primary for OH-10, I will face Sharen Neihardt, a woman who is part of the 1%, a lawyer (the preferred profession of political handicappers) and who can and has written checks to her own campaign for more money than I’ve raised in 8 elections (total). She may also be a great person- but, as a campaigner- her efficiency rating sucks.

Let’s look at her numbers:

Sharen Swartz Neuhardt (D) (42% of vote)

  • Raised: $838,992
  • Spent: $832,329
  • Cash on Hand: $6,663
  • Last Report: December 31, 2008
  • legend PAC contributions $163,308 (19%)
  • legend Individual contributions $582,335 (69%)
  • legend Candidate self-financing $87,000 (10%)
  • legend Other $6,349 (1%)

via Congressional Elections: Ohio District 07 Race: 2008 Cycle | OpenSecrets.

All that money- no incumbent, a mediocre opponent in Steve Austria- and the results:

Sharen Swartz Neuhardt, Democratic, 125,547 41.78%


That works out to: $6.63 per vote. Granted, Austria spent $1,196,189 to get 174,915 votes, or $6.84 per vote, but, when it costs $2 million to run for a job that only pays $178K a year, something is seriously broken.

While I’m sure Ms. Neuhardt has already started making the rounds at her office for donations (she collected over $101,000 from her co-workers at the law firm Thompson Hine that just relocated to Austin Landing from Downtown Dayton) she has yet to get her site up: http://www.neuhardtforcongress.com/

Turner has had no problem knocking out opponents spending over a million on every race, except when he was facing the hapless Joe Roberts in 2010 who only raised $6,170. Turner spent $784,285 to cover his but and get 69% of the vote. This makes Roberts the most efficient on dollars per vote- getting 31%. Others have spent much more- and got smushed.

  • 2008 saw Jane Mitakides put in $141,417 of her own money and a total of $401,975 to get 40% of the vote vs. Turner’s $1,058,000
  • 2006 featured last-minute stand-in candidate Dick Chema who spent $86,389 in a whirlwind campaign (he stepped up in September after Stephanie Studebaker dropped out) and lost to Turner who spent $1,112,107 to take 59% of the vote
  • 2004 was Jane Mitakides’ first attempt. She spent $71,729 of her own money and spent $440,435 to get 38% of the vote. Turner spent $1,018,127
  • 2002, Turner faced Rick Carne and no incumbent. Carne spent $567,746 to get 41% of the vote. Turner- spent $1,045,016

The vote numbers change from election to election. Here are dollars per vote Turner spent:

  • 2010 Turner $5.14 Roberts: 9 cents each. Opponent gets 31% of the vote
  • 2008 Turner $5.28 Mitakides .28 each Opponent gets 40% of the vote
  • 2006 Turner $9.12 Chema – I can’t find his total spent. Opponent gets 41% of the vote
  • 2004 Turner $5.30 Mitakides .26 Opponent gets 38% of the vote
  • 2002 Turner $9.36 per vote, Carne $7.25 Opponent gets 41% of the vote

When I ran against Jane Mitakides in 2008 I raised and spent about $5k- compare commercials- mine vs. Sharen Neuharth, who spent real money, and decide who you’d rather back in the battle against Turner, a candidate I’ve run against since his political start.

It has 3,500 views.

Here is Sharen’s commercial:

It has a whopping 365 views (I’m sure I’ll help it by posting here).

In fact, none of her videos on youtube has over 475 views.

If you are going to send someone to battle Mike Turner (Steve Austria didn’t have the will to try) in this district, you may as well send someone who can bring the issues to the forefront (as this site has done for the last 6 years).

My campaign site is up (still working through some issues with the CRM database) and accepting contributions. Please consider donating ASAP. You can use the widget in the sidebar on the right to donate.

I will run the most efficient campaign you will ever see- and one of the most informative. You have my word on it.

The most important American stock exchange: your neighborhood housing stock

Last night, around 6o South Park neighbors got together at Hope Lutheran Church for our annual “Hot Toddy” party– food, desserts, alcohol, kids, a raffle for some amazing gift baskets and South Park Family Feud game- where the survey said: we’ve built a pretty special neighborhood. South Park is reportedly one of only a few Dayton neighborhoods where the property values went up in the last appraisal.

Sure we have some vacant homes that could be torn down as nuisance structures and we’ve also got some homes occupied by nuisance people, but the real difference (besides the recent crime spree which can be directly related to the aforementioned nuisance people) is that we truly have built our social capital by relentlessly working on quality of life issues, so that the tagline “where neighbors become friends” actually means something. The “social network” of our neighborhood is more real than virtual and the value is very tangible.

Last year I met a nice couple who were starting a business through my Veterans Owning Businesses group- VOB108.org When they visited my office, a building I bought in 1988 for $2,200 plus taking over $2,400 in back taxes, they fell in love with what I had done with the old corner grocery. I informed them of another old storefront that was available down the street. They now own 4 buildings in South Park, are residents and even have his parents investing in some other homes in the neighborhood. These values aren’t like stock prices at the Wall Street Casino and these investments aren’t short-term bets, because real housing markets have real transactional costs and real values attached to them.

Earlier this week, the Dayton Daily News reported that the Feds weren’t too happy with our demolition-happy policy pushed by Commissioner Nan Whaley (who accepted huge donations from “unknown demolition contractors”)

The city of Dayton, already losing ground in its war on urban decay, is slashing its housing inspection department after the federal government said it spent millions in taxpayer dollars with “no reportable accomplishments.”

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development said the amount of seriously dilapidated housing exploded between 2005 and 2009 in all four neighborhoods it studied.

It questioned the city’s long-standing policy of funding its housing inspections with HUD Community Development Block Grant money, and called on city officials to re-evaluate how it is spending the federal money.

via Feds criticize city’s proposal to trim housing inspection program.

Had the millions been spent improving quality of life (CDBG money has been used in South Park for park improvements, street closings, new lighting, wrought iron fences for public spaces etc) perhaps the value of the investment of our tax dollars actually brought a return. You don’t build value by tearing down, you just subtract negative value. There is no incentive for new investment, no growth. Empty lots are very rarely tangible assets in a country going through a disastrous slide in real housing values thanks to the non-existent Federal oversight on the FIRE industries (Financial, Insurance & Real Estate) with their play money secondary markets and the trillions of dollars stolen from the working-class people of this great country.

From today’s Dayton Daily News we find that Ohio is particularly hard hit by the double whammy of higher vacancy rates and lower tax revenues:

Ohio’s housing vacancy rate jumped 50 percent between 2000 and 2010, the 10th largest leap among the states and far above the U.S. average of 33 percent, the Government Accountability Office said last week.

The increases in vacancies are costly to taxpayers, the GAO noted, straining community services like police and fire protection and sometimes requiring taxpayer-funded maintenance and demolition. The impact of vacant homes on surrounding property values also may reduce communities’ tax revenues.

Across the nation, the number of vacant housing units, excluding units for seasonal migrant workers, climbed from 6.8 million in 2000 to 10.3 million in 2010, a change of 51.2 percent.

Ohio’s vacancy rate — the amount of vacant property as a percentage of total housing stock — rose 49.8 percent from 2000 to 2010, going from 6.1 percent to 9.1 percent, the GAO said. That’s the 10th highest, but better than the top three: New Hampshire (77.4 percent), Minnesota, (75.8 percent) and Michigan (73 percent).

Ohio ranked in the top 20 states in three other indicators related to vacancies: the 2000-2010 percentage change in the number of vacant residential properties (13th), the unemployment rate (18th) and the percentage of loans in foreclosure (eighth) as of December 2010, according to the GAO report, issued Tuesday.

via Ohio’s housing vacancy rate up 50 percent in past decade.

The focus on the wrong “Stock Markets” by the media and the politicians has allowed the greatest crime in history to be carried off which has filled the pockets of the super rich while draining those of the rest of us. This is the transfer of wealth and the huge income gap that brought the Occupy Wall Street movement to the forefront. The giant sucking sound will continue as community after community goes bankrupt- all while the fat cats on Wall Street continue on their merry way playing with your money on their play market. Had we bailed out the homeowners instead of the robber barons by:

  • Forcing down interest rates on loans instead of bailouts for banks
  • Capping pay for publicly traded companies’ executives (forcing distribution to shareholders instead of to executive pay)
  • Placed transactional taxes on financial trades to stop volatility and bring real value back to stock pricing
  • Funded the unpopular wars with higher taxes (wars do tax society and voters would react differently if they saw a war tax coming out of every paycheck)

    (updated later, same day)Place compensation ratio limits on any company that does business with the Federal government.

There are some other issues of fairness that need to be addressed in the United States if we want to build a relatively fair and level economic playing field including:

  • A flat rate federal internet sales tax (which would fund universal high speed access nationwide and fund technology for education)
  • The ending of all tax-funded corporate welfare at any level less than national (no more luring of jobs from one community to another with public tax dollars).
  • Funding all election campaigns with tax dollars giving a level playing field to all candidates who would be rated on the value of their ideas, not the size of their campaign kittys. We need real elections instead of auctions in our county again.
  • Universal access to affordable health care (note- no mention of insurance) because good health is a mandatory part of being able to work and be a net contributor to society (if anyone can prove the value of the health insurance industry as middlemen sucking up 35% of all health care spending in this country, I nominate you for the Nobel Prize).
  • Re-evaluating our system of higher education which has seen huge price increases without creating equal value in economic return for students over the last 30 years.

The real stock value in America has never been on Wall Street but on Main Street. It’s time we aligned our Federal policy with good sound financial policy. Only then, will we be building value in our country instead of allowing the few to profit from the collective labors of us all.

On Tuesday, December 13, 2011, I’ll find out if I’m on the ballot to run for Congress in OH-10. If you like what you read in this post, please consider visiting www.electesrati.com and signing up to volunteer or donate to a campaign that will be funded by the people who built this great country- not the ones who are trying to steal it.

Nation or Empire?

For the Love of Dayton offered an endorsement after watching the forum video that I uploaded. Of course, he’s much more familiar with me than the other candidates, since I’ve been putting my positions online for discussion now for the last 4+ years.

He’s honest about my odds against Turner in the fall- the one point that differentiates me from the other two candidates in toto (I acknowledge the odds- they don’t):

This is a valiant effort since, barring some unforeseen political calamity, the GOP will likely hold Turner’s seat in the fall. I’m a proud independent and disagree with Turner and Esrati on a host of issues, but after watching the Democratic candidates forum (uploaded to Youtube by Esrati) I am quite sure David Esrati is the best candidate for OH-3. He does a good job diagnosing the problems with our fair city’s/region’s/state’s/country’s bureaucratic elite from the Democratic side of the aisle (vote for him in the primary on July 13 if you are a Democrat).

He, like me, opposes the waste and war in Afghanistan. He, like me, thinks this:

“I’m pretty sure that if we keep electing the same people there will only be three kinds of people left in this country: the very poor, the very rich and those who work for the government.”

via For the Love of Dayton | love matters.

There are a few universal truths as far as I’m concerned- one of them is that there is never a perfect candidate for anyone (nor- should there be). Thinking people should always have some questions of their leaders- if not- you get dogma instead of democracy 99.5% of the time.

The Dayton Daily News Editorial board complained that “Mr. Esrati’s thinking continues to be hard to track.” Which is a good thing- if it were easy, I’d be just like every other mouthpiece they endorse. Free-thinking politicians are in very short supply in our country.

For the Love of Dayton also posted a video of a speech by Ron Paul set to music. Ever since I’ve been a youngster, my father has beat into me that our country has done a crap job of picking our “friends” overseas. We’ve propped up more two-bit dictators than I can list- and even created and helped sustain others by our boycotts or blacklists (Castro in Cuba or Hugo Chavez in Venezuela).

I’m posting the Ron Paul video- and stating for the record that I’m in complete agreement with everything he says (however, I wouldn’t use the “Christian” example- as I believe that humans treating others as humans has nothing to do with being Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Pagan etc.)

And no matter how green or naïve Mike Turner may try to paint me in the fall, I can tell you that he’s never met a defense contractor he doesn’t love, nor a country that he isn’t OK with selling arms to.

Eisenhower warned us in his farewell address about the “military industrial complex”- and I’m posting that video too. Because it seems as time goes on, we refuse to learn from history or admit our failures.

War, and war machines are not ever the solution to improving the human condition. If I truly believed that our foreign policy was dictated for the love of mankind- I’d not be wondering why we’ve ignored genocide in Darfur, Rwanda and the Congo.

If we truly wanted to spread democracy, it is best not done with a barrel of a gun, but with education, health care, modern infrastructure (like water systems, sewage systems) and things that improve the human condition.

Empires built with weapons of any kind, only last as long as the despots who wield them can- or can afford to continue wielding them. Of this, I believe that our country is very close to reaching its limits of sustaining our over-sized “investment” in global domination by strong arm, as opposed to a policy of open arms.

In the beginning and in the end, there is only one nation that will matter in the history books- the nation of man. It knows no national boundaries, has no single religion, no single ideology, no one way- except the human way. It is here, where the “Golden Rule” once again proves itself: “Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.”

It is time to put aside all “party politics” and look to create a sustainable future, not just for the United States, but all mankind. That is the only empire building I can support, and it is why I ask for your support.