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).

The 3-point challenge

Whenever I’m out hanging nets, and there are ballers on the court, I offer up my three-point challenge. Shoot three treys in a row- and get a t-shirt. I let the little dunkers shoot from the foul line. Usually, the result is near pandemonium, with very little order, and someone inevitably trying to go twice, or wanting to change the rules to it doesn’t start counting till you make one.

When I was out with Rob D. hanging rims, he wanted to make it easy- and give away as many shirts as possible. I believe that skills and hard work should be rewarded, and on some courts- I end up giving away multiple shirts- as 9 points go in like clockwork. I believe that rewards need to be earned, that there shouldn’t be shortcuts along the way. I stick to my rules- and tell the kids that they should work on their long shot, and show me their skills next time. And, sometimes the first thing I hear after “The net man is here”- is “let me show you my three pointer.”

Going door-to-door, I get one of two reactions when I talk about giving every Dayton Public Schools student an iPad or netbook. The first is complete understanding and a realization that without 1-1 computer to student, we can’t possibly be preparing our students for the workforce- and the other, which is much rarer- is “what do you mean give them an iPad? To take home? They’ll sell (or steal) it?” It’s that second reaction that always takes me aback.

Forget about the fact that textbooks cost as much as an iPad and do a lot less for our students, and no one would argue against textbooks, it’s the idea that our kids either don’t deserve the best, haven’t earned the right, or can’t be trusted. This is our future- and we don’t seem to place a very high level of trust in our kids today. That’s too bad, because I think if kids were voting, we’d be having a better political conversation than we have now. They see what’s going on around them- and for the most part, they’ve given up on Dayton too.

When you come to a park that has a dead raccoon sitting in the parking lot, broken glass on the court that’s bisected by weed fault lines- and look up at a raggedy backboard with a rusted rim and the only thing that’s clean and glowing is a basketball net, with a florescent green bottom, that’s the beacon of hope. A $2 weave of string. It sends a message. I enjoy talking to our kids more than voters. When they ask what I am going to do for our city, they haven’t become jaded yet by the lies of those who’ve come before me. They believe. All I hope is that I can get two other people on the commission to agree with a vision of Dayton that doesn’t include tax breaks for General Electric, while we’re charging admission to our rec center to families that can barely afford to keep shoes on their kids’ feet.

That’s why one of the first things I hope to do is reward the kids who work hard at becoming our future leaders. As soon as I take my oath of office, I plan to make our rec centers free for any kid with a B average or better.

The iPads, will go home with our graduating seniors who have at least a B average and a 20 or better on the ACT. We will reward our kids for doing the work.

And, if you don’t have the grades, but want to get into the rec center, we’ll have opportunities for kids to go to tutoring centers after school- and be rewarded with passes for completing additional work.

And while I’ve also been told that by putting nets up, I’m encouraging NBA dreams instead of school work, I want to make it clear to our kids, that shooting threes can change a game, but, in the end, it’s all about making smart decisions- on the court and in life. I want to work to make our kids realize that “Smart is the new cool”- and that everything we focus on is to make smart decisions in our community to help us rise above it.

I started with the basketball nets because I believe that our parks and how we treat our citizens are indicative of what we think of them. I plan on taking this small change and building into a whole cultural shift, that Daytonians are proud, smart and ready to take on any challenge, from getting elected for under $10,000 (something some say can’t be done) to eliminating tax breaks for companies as bait to come here, because we need our taxes to create a community worth moving your business to, and that paying taxes is an investment in a great city.

November 5th, we’ll find out if enough people believe that actions speak louder than words, and if hard work pays off. If every person I talk to, tells just a part of my story to their friends, we’re on the verge of changing the game in Dayton. Thank you.

Just remember, it takes three votes on the commission to win a change. Others have had three votes and squandered their opportunities. Three new faces, three new votes, that’s the three point challenge for Dayton.

Why a digital Dayton matters

I was hanging a basketball net yesterday behind a pretty rough looking apartment house. As I pulled up, in my Volvo wagon, to ask if they’d like a new net, I was thinking it’s good that I have a magnet on the side of the car saying “Esrati puts nets on rims” – because I definitely got the feeling that I was intruding, going someplace where I wasn’t welcome. After I hung the net- did my stencil on the ground, put a sticker on the pole and gave away a t-shirt for one of the kids who hit three threes, I was confronted with “but if I vote for you what are you going to do for me?” I tried to point out that I have my answers on my campaign piece- but he didn’t want to read it- he wanted to hear it.

And so I launched into my digital Dayton plan. I told him that there isn’t a job a kid can graduate high school and get without a computer and computer skills, and that currently Dayton Public Schools only had one computer for every four students. I told him that we’re already behind the curve on 1 to 1 computers- that 5 years ago other districts, cities and even states had figured it out.  I said that even giving every student an iPad- that would cost about the same or less than what was squandered in the speculative real estate deal for a new Kroger at Wayne and Wyoming, was a start- but without internet access, it wouldn’t mean anything.

I went on to say Dayton was all excited when it was in the running for Google Fiber- where an entire city would get gigabit speed, 20x faster than what passes for broadband in the region- and maybe 30x what is available in the city where fiber isn’t currently available at all to residential users. But when Google went to Kansas City and then to Provo UT and Austin TX- we sort of forgot about it here- where we actually run a fiber network to control our traffic lights, but nothing else. I said we could put fiber into every neighborhood to build a beachhead where kids could go after school to get online- and then start working to city wide wi-fi. This is also nothing new- the entire country of Estonia has been covered in wifi for over a decade.

These are projects that empower our citizens and give them the ability to grow. They save us from having to pay for data plans on our cell phones- or worry about caps- it provides the ability to connect people with jobs- with services- with each other using tools like NextDoor to organize their community and to coordinate resources.

And even though he knew that I was talking about giving our kids a chance, he didn’t believe me, because we’ve grown to not trust politicians and their promises. We’ve been lied to, too many times. And considering the horrible job we do at informing voters of upcoming elections and candidates and issues, why should he have any clue who I am, despite having run for this office many times over the last 20 years.

The reality is, information is power- and by wiring our community and making it possible for as many as possible to connect, would change the political game and disrupt the party that the party has been having with its friends and family running the show.

I was talking to him about the most critical issue of segregation we need to overcome in America today- the “digital divide” and it isn’t something to pay lip service to, it’s the key to the future.

From the New York Times about a week ago:

Administration officials and policy experts say they are increasingly concerned that a significant portion of the population, around 60 million people, is shut off from jobs, government services, health care and education, and that the social and economic effects of that gap are looming larger. Persistent digital inequality — caused by the inability to afford Internet service, lack of interest or a lack of computer literacy — is also deepening racial and economic disparities in the United States, experts say.

“As more tasks move online, it hollows out the offline options,” said John B. Horrigan, a senior research fellow at the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies. “A lot of employers don’t accept offline job applications. It means if you don’t have the Internet, you could be really isolated.”

Seventy-six percent of white American households use the Internet, compared with 57 percent of African-American households, according to the “Exploring the Digital Nation,” a Commerce Department report released this summer and based on 2011 data.

The figures also show that Internet use over all is much higher among those with at least some college experience and household income of more than $50,000.

via Most of U.S. Is Wired, but Millions Aren’t Plugged In – NYTimes.com.

Those numbers, those people being left out- that’s most of Dayton. It’s all the people who don’t read Esrati.com and vote. It’s the unemployed, the under-employed, the uneducated and the uninformed. I don’t believe government does a good job of creating jobs, but I do believe we can help create an infrastructure that encourages our “social capital” to have maximum access to jobs and to information.

And while my nets on rims campaign is innovative and interesting and newsworthy, you haven’t seen it on the local news, and you probably won’t. Why? Because I won’t be buying TV ads like other candidates, because when I win – I prove that you don’t need to spend $360K to get on the ballot- and win. Local TV is living off political campaign money, and when we all switch to the Internet and YouTube, Netflix and streaming- they become dinosaurs.

No matter how much the incumbents brag about bricks and mortar projects as proof that they deserve re-election, they aren’t answering the question “what are you going to do for ME?”

A digital Dayton is something that empowers all Daytonians, especially our students. It gives them, and their parents and grandparents access to what my readers on esrati.com take for granted. That’s powerful stuff.

If you think this matters, I ask you to do one of three things:

Without those three things, a digital Dayton won’t happen anymore than the Kroger at the corner of Wayne and Wyoming.

The reality of “a publicity stunt”- Esrati puts nets on rims

Tom Archdeacon should have written this story a few weeks ago. The story would have shared the history of Dayton street basketball, and the sorry shape of our community’s parks would have been the focus. Instead, it became a political piece, and I was interviewed again. Two pictures, front of the local section, and Commissioner Williams calls my efforts a “publicity stunt.”

I’ve never done a pr stunt that took as much work, and, if the city had been doing its job, I wouldn’t have to be doing the basic fundamental city service of maintaining our parks. A good friend in the advertising business uses this as a mantra to clients- “actions speak louder than words” to help guide clients on where to spend their ad dollars, I am a believer.

Here is the DDn article on the commission race- mostly about my nets campaign. There is no mention, unfortunately of the video that 2 Ponitz CTC students did.

Esrati’s hoops promise enlivens Dayton campaigns

Posted: 12:05 a.m. Friday, Aug. 23, 2013

Dayton City Commission candidate David Esrati is installing basketball nets and trying to replace damaged rims at many of Dayton’s neglected parks. He leaves a sticker with his phone number to call if net replacements are needed.

By Jeremy P. Kelley – Staff Writer

DAYTON —

Dayton Daily News Photo by Jim Witmer, of David Esrati with his pole sticker

Dayton Daily News Photo by Jim Witmer, of David Esrati with his pole sticker

As the six candidates for Dayton mayor and city commission fire up their campaigns for the November election, one candidate has made a very public show of improving city parks this summer.

Commission candidate David Esrati has called the state of Dayton’s parks “a disgrace,” and he’s spent the past two months improving basketball courts — digging out weeds and branches that were growing through the pavement, plus putting nets on basketball hoops that had none.

Esrati said he’s personally put up more than 200 of his green-marked nets on city, school and church courts, and even on kids’ portable baskets. He puts a sticker on each pole, encouraging people to call him if a net needs to be replaced.

“Who wants to live next to a park with no rims and no nets, a tennis court with weeds, grass that doesn’t get cut? That makes a statement,” Esrati said, hauling a ladder out of the trunk of his car. “But this is pride. It’s community pride.”

Esrati said he got few votes in West Dayton in May’s primary and needs to do better in November to win one of the two commission seats up for grabs. He’s putting up nets in all parts of the city, but he went to more than two dozen Dayton businesses, largely West Dayton barbershops, to get people to sponsor his nets program. The grassroots effort is important for a candidate who has pledged to spend no more than $10,000 on his campaign.

“I know from advertising and marketing that an ad is pretty worthless, but a service is worth something,” he said. “The stickers will stay, and if I win or if I lose (in November), I’ll still fix the nets.”

Esrati is one of four candidates running for two commission seats.

Incumbent Joey Williams said he has done steady work for the community for years, referring to Esrati’s basketball-net effort as “a publicity stunt.” Williams pointed to safety initiatives, such as the Community-Police Council that he’s championed, plus his role in improving the city’s bond rating and finances, while some cities struggle.

Candidate David Greer said he’s been spreading his message of citizen empowerment at public events and neighborhood meetings, and his campaign will be going door-to-door this weekend. Greer is focused on getting people to vote, saying turnout for the May primary was “very discouraging and sad.”

Commission candidate Jeffrey Mims said he has not done much campaigning yet, but continues his youth mentoring and other community activities. He said he is focused on improving jobs, safety and the school-community relationship.

via Esrati’s hoops promise enlivens Dayton campaigns | www.mydaytondailynews.com.

There is evidence that conditions of public parks have a direct impact on property values. For all the “economic development” projects the city has engaged in over the years- from Courthouse Square, the Arcade, Riverscape and tax abatementa, grants and other expenditures of our tax dollars on big things that will “save Dayton” – there is nothing as valuable to our citizens as clean, safe, well maintained parks with functioning amenities for the people who live here.

From a 2010 article in Dayton Most Metro, written by Shannon O’Neil (full disclosure- a supporter of my campaign)

Over 30 studies have been done on the impact of urban parks on property values. Typically people are willing to pay more for a home that is near or overlooking a park due to the “hedonistic value.” This means that the value of a property is affected by the home’s proximity to the park and the quality of the park itself. The report measures the value of a home within 500 feet of the park but states that the economic value of the park on property values has been measured at distances up to 2,000 feet…

Parks that are poorly maintained or unattractive are marginally valuable and dangerous parks can reduce property values. Parkland adds 5% value to the assessed value of dwellings within 500 ft. Excellent parks add 15% to the value of a dwelling while problematic parks reduce the assessed value by 5%.

via Economic Impact of Revitalizing Cooper Park | Dayton Most Metro.

The facts that you can’t play a full court game at Princeton Rec Center, despite it having 6 backboards and full time city staff, or that the only park with lights on at night is Burkham park- where the poles spin, the backboards are made of rotting wood, and 1 rim is missing and 1 has more curves and ups and downs than a roller coaster, should make it clear that these problems didn’t happen overnight, nor are they something that our current commission has cared about.

For a city with basketball nearing a religion, we’ve had heretics leading us for years. One of my favorite things to point out, is that the two mayoral candidates spent $360,000 in the primary to get 7,500 votes- or $50 per vote. Although it’s illegal, they would have done better to promise to pay every voter $20, had twice the voters and still had $60,000 left over- which could have bought new backboards and rims for every city court. Frankly, although I prefer the idea of A.J. Wagner as Mayor, I’m not so sure I want either of these money-blowing candidates holding our city checkbook.

Right now there is a relatively new backboard at Roosevelt Rec Center on W. Third Street where the backboard failed and not the rim. I’d be out there getting it welded this weekend, but the question of if the backboard is under warranty or not hasn’t been answered. It’s been a 6 days since it was reported to the Rec Center staff. I guess it’s a PR stunt by watching how long it takes for the city to act as well, seeing as this is one of the most popular courts in the city. It will be interesting if they ever fix the 4 lights that are there as a tease to our ‘ballers- since they’ve never been turned on, and now have all 4 lenses shot out.

I would be remiss, not to thank Jeremy Kelley, who wrote one of the nicest articles about me to ever appear in the news. Thank you.

As to my statement of ads being worthless- and being in the advertising business- 95% of ads (and 99% of political ads) are horrible and are reaching the wrong people. Advertising has changed a lot with the advent of the Internet and the ability to micro target, but even then, most ads are an unwelcome intrusion into your life- the masters of advertising believe in “marketing as a service” or- giving you utility as part of the relationship between the brand and the customer. That’s what Google does- in trading utility for the opportunity to deliver advertising. Which would you rather see- green nets, or political yard signs? This question will be on the test on November 5th. Your actions will speak louder than words.

 

Thank a barber, Esrati hangs nets on rims

If you see a basketball net with a bright green bottom, I hung it. If you see a rim without a net, or with a poor excuse for one- call 985-1312 and I’ll get one out and hung.

That’s the message that isn’t on my campaign literature. It’s what I’ve been doing since the beginning of June, hanging nets on what passes for rims and backboards in Dayton.

I had to spend over 4 hours pulling stink trees and other opportunistic weeds out of the three courts at the old Parkside homes. I’ve hung nets on rims with rust so bad one kid said “yeah, when you score you get rust in your eye.” I’ve seen rims with nets hung with knots, tape and even shoelaces.  We’ve got rims missing hooks, rims built for chains, which never got replaced. Backboards are just as bad- rusty if made of metal, rotting if made of wood (seriously, who bought wood backboards for outdoors). One is recognized by all old-school players as having been eaten up for years- it looks like a dragon bit the bottom off.

To pay for the nets- I’ve been using campaign funds and asking donations from the ultimate local business: barber shops and beauty salons. I go in, tell them what I’m doing – show them my posters- and ask them to sponsor a net. Most sponsor more than pne. I take a picture of them with the poster- put it online and hang the poster in the shop. Check out the pix at www.hoopsdayton.org My donations come from the community, not from DC or Columbus or the ‘burbs, but from the people who live and work here. I’m just as happy to accept $2 as $200, which is what a box of 100 nets costs me at Tuffy Brooks. That’s the crazy thing- nets actually cost less than yard signs. I’d much rather put up a net and do something positive in the community than place a yard sign. It takes a lot more effort to hang a net too- between hauling the ladder (I’ve had to hike it across a few football fields to get to some courts- like Western Hills) and doing court cleanups.

The support has been fantastic at many levels. But the real question is how come our city, which always has a million bucks for a developer, or a tax break for the world’s richest companies- can’t keep nets on rims? Or take care of the courts? Just yesterday, the City Manager rolled the convention center into the department of Parks and Rec- calling it one of the “entrepreneurial  departments.” Really? He wants to make money off providing parks and rec? This is the kind of thinking in City Hall that makes me run. Having nice parks is economic development in my book- as are safe streets and neighborhoods. Not by having buildings like Tech Town that sit mostly empty and compete with private developers.

Campaign poster for David Esrati for Dayton City Commission, next time a politician asks for your backing, ask about our backboards

One of the series of posters I’ve been asking for sponsorship for.

As one of my posters says “Next time a politician asks for your backing, ask them about our backboards.” Joey Williams, a former Dunbar basketball star has been on the commission for 12 years- with at least 2 supporting votes the entire time. Apparently, rusty backboards and rims, cracks in the courts, and not turning on the water in parks like Hickorydale is OK with him- as long as we have nice privately developed student housing for students at Sinclair.

I think not. If you’d like to help, please donate at www.electesrati.com/donate-2 After I hit my cap of $10,000, all money will go into a fund to start buying new backboards and rims and getting them up. I’ll need help from someone who knows how to weld when that time comes.

If you see a rim that needs a new net call 937-985-1312

If you’d like to change our city’s focus on what constitutes “economic development” and believe it should be “Parks and Rec” – not “Parks are a wreck” please volunteer for the campaign.

Thanks