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.

Play

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?