How much does a City Commission seat cost? Answers today.

It’s the campaign finance turn-in day today.

If you’ve got over $10K in donations you have to file. I’m proud to say, I don’t have $10K and won’t be filing. That doesn’t mean I’m not serious, it’s just that I have a real job, and real obligations, and don’t think that winning elections should be based on your ability to:

  1. beg
  2. sell out

I guess that makes me a nobody in the political scene. It’s one of the questions the Dayton Daily News editorial board always gets hung-up on- who else has endorsed you? and how much money have you raised? It’s very rarely about what you stand for, or plan to do.

I went, uninvited, to the AFL-CIO HQ on Monday to “screen” for an endorsement. Getting endorsed by a union, even though I agree in principle with what unions used to stand for- fair wages, good working conditions, policies of equality- is highly unlikely. In fact, I’m pretty sure they picked their candidates long before I walked in the door. My parting comments to them were, although I would like your endorsement, I can’t accept money from the unions- I’m sick of having the best politicians money can buy. Yep, shot myself in the old foot again.

What should a campaign for a local office, part-time position cost? I’ve always said if you spend more than what the job pays in one year, you’ve spent too much. But, I’d like to spend even less.

In my first few runs, I limited myself to $1,000 per run. It was all my money. Then I learned, that won’t cut it. That was also pre-internet. The last run, I spent $6K. I got 6K votes. Unfortunately, the incumbents, Bootsie Neal raised and spent $10K and Dean Lovelace $12K. I guess the thing that spooked me the most- was Bootsie got 10K votes, and Dean 12K. It was almost a straight dollar per vote.

Yep. Public office is for sale. Every once in a while, the voters see past the dollars- the anti-smoking bill won despite being outspent something like 6-1. But, it’s rarely the underdog that wins these days, our President is the exception. He wisely used his money to maximum effect by doing a very careful, target marketing using a tool called “vote getter”- something the parties hold sway over. I’m not a party guy, so, if I want it, I have to either play nice, or be sneaky. Haven’t figured out which yet.

So, in tomorrow’s paper (Saturday) you’ll see who has raised money- and hopefully, you’ll find out from whom. For Federal offices it’s easy- and all the reports are online. For local, you have to ask for them. I can already tell you some familiar names will be supporting the incumbents. Look to Steve Rauch demolition to be handing money over to the Mayor- and probably Nan. I could probably make more predictions- but, why? Those of you in the know, know- it’s the same people. What makes it even funnier is when you see people donate to BOTH candidates running for the seat- it’s called hedging your bets.

Yes, I need money for my campaign, and you can help by making a donation. More importantly, I’ll need volunteers to help go door to door, to call people, to make sure the message goes out. Please sign up on the right to be a part. But, the other thing you can do- is find your favorite post on Esrati.com and forward it to other people in Dayton- and tell them that this is why you think it’s time to elect someone who isn’t going to do one of the following:

  1. beg
  2. sell out

We can’t afford any more of the same.

Thank you.

Unforgiveable

I’m pissed.

And, there are a lot of other people pissed as well. I know them well, I served with the US Army Special Forces.

These are people who don’t accept excuses, and it’s time for Dayton to stop making them. That means you, and everyone you know.

It’s time to stop letting punks run the streets, it’s time to stop making excuses for bad behavior, it’s time to stop blaming the courts, the prosecutor, the system, the drugs, the thugs and the media.

We’ve all lost something and someone valuable today.

From the Dayton Daily News:

U.S. Army Sgt. Maj. (Ret.) North E. Woodall was found bloodied and unconscious by a neighbor about 11:30 p.m. Monday, July 27, at 1028 Walton Ave. after an apparent home invasion, police said.

He was pronounced dead at the scene.

The front door to the home was kicked in, and Woodall was found on the floor near the door, Lt. Brian Johns said….

Woodall served in World War II, Korea and Vietnam before retiring as an E-9 sergeant major, U.S. Army Special Forces , also known as a Green Beret.

The recipient of two Silver Stars

via Veteran of 3 wars, 85, dies in home invasion.

Silver Stars don’t come to those who sit by and do nothing. Sgt. Maj. Woodall didn’t serve us in three wars to let some punks do him in and go unpunished.

Someone in Dayton knows who did this and needs to step up and turn them in. All of us need to take responsibility for this senseless death.

All of us need to demand justice, and a return to civilized behavior.

Bars on the windows and doors are not the answer. Standing up and calling out the losers in our community- and either getting them in treatment, or in prison is the answer.

I hope you join me in making this mans death a wake-up call.

We can’t let this happen in our community anymore.

Carmen’s Deli now open- go see Haitham

Haitham Iman of Carmen's Deli

Haitham Iman of Carmen's Deli

I’ve known Haitham Iman for years. I’m sure many of you who have attended events at the David Ponitz center, Building 12, of Sinclair know him too.

He’s the always smiling, nice guy, who makes sure your experience is exceptional when it comes to the food at events.

Now, he’s the guy on the grill- only it’s his grill, in his and his lovely wife Carmen’s new restaurant on the first floor of the 5/3rd tower in the old Swisher’s Too location.

They had a long line today at lunch, and he had complimentary chips and dip for people who were patiently waiting. I ordered a gyro, chips and a soft drink for just under $7. They aren’t taking plastic just yet- and phone orders aren’t happening just yet, but give them time.

Carmen’s Deli is at 110 N. Main St. Suite 90, but, you’d best enter the building off Second Street across from the Kettering Tower. Their phone is 937-610-9999

Go in and support a local independent restaurant, and tell Haitham that Esrati sent you.

And, yes- I took a shaky picture with the iPhone. Guess I’ll have to go back to get a better shot, shucks.

The best politicians money can buy- the continuing saga

Maybe I missed something in the Dayton Daily Newsless- but, this news from February’s Cleveland Plain Dealer (thank’s TG) covers the Fed’s raiding a defense lobbying firm that has given considerable amounts to Congressmen Hobson, Turner and Austria.

PMA Group specializes in securing defense earmarks for clients in spending bills. The Center for Responsive Politics says it was the top campaign donor last year to 40 members of Congress, including Ohio Democrats Tim Ryan of Niles and Marcy Kaptur of Toledo, as well as Springfield Republican David Hobson, who retired from Congress at the beginning of this year.

Although PMA gave Murtha’s campaign fund $134,200 over the years, it’s only his fifth largest career donor, behind defense behemoths like General Dynamics and Lockheed Martin. In the 2007-2008 campaign cycle, it was his 10th largest donor, with $26,700.

But PMA lobbyists have been the top source of Ryan and Hobson’s campaign cash throughout their careers…

Hobson got $87,500 from PMA throughout his career, while Kaptur got $40,500. During the last election cycle, PMA gave Kaptur’s campaign $26,500. Kaptur’s top all-time donors are unions.

Other current Ohio members of Congress who have accepted PMA money include GOP Sen. George Voinovich, Democrats John Boccieri of Alliance, Charlie Wilson of St. Clairsville, Mary Jo Kilroy of Columbus and Republicans Steve Austria of Beavercreek and Michael Turner of Centerville.

via Federal authorities raid top donor to Ohio congressmen – Openers – cleveland.com.

I think it’s time to do what I heard The Onion advocating- dress our congressmen up like NASCAR drivers- with all of their sponsors clearly on display. If we want to see real change, it’s time to kick the lobbyists off the hill.

What do companies like PMA get for their investments? How much is it costing the taxpayers? And why, didn’t this make the DDN?

Let’s take out the trash Ohio.

For lack of $53,000 the State of Ohio has stopped providing trash cans at State Parks. This means, when doing maintenance- like cutting the grass, State employees have to waste more time stopping to pick up the trash that didn’t get taken home by taxpayers. Really bad choice. Here is the article from the Dayton Daily News:

Strapped by historic underfunding, $500 million in backlogged maintenance needs and even more dire budget projections, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources has pulled trash cans from day-use areas at 30 of 74 state parks.

By canceling trash service beginning last year, ODNR has racked up $53,000 in savings. The program does not include campgrounds or other areas in parks where overnight accommodations or fee facilities are in place.

via State park visitors asked to help with trash.

I have a better suggestion. As a gift to the residents of all Ohio, why doesn’t the Dayton Area of Commerce stop paying Jon Husted to “oversee its workforce development efforts.” and pay for the trash collection in State parks? That would be a real nice thing to do for the citizens of the State of Ohio- and show how Dayton business has the foresight to see what the State doesn’t. Trashy parks make bad impressions.

Husted already has a full-time job as a State Senator- one that takes so much time, that he doesn’t have the ability to live in his district anymore in violation of the law. Inside sources claim Husted is paid more than $53K a year for this “job.”

We could also look at the contracts that various local governments have with lobbyists, and stop paying private, “politically-connected” people to do what our legislators won’t. But, that would be asking legislators to take out the trash- and we already know they won’t, as demonstrated by the ODNR.

Stars in their eyes, screws in our wallets: film tax credits

America is a country that has always been fascinated with rather than repelled by wealth, where people aspire to become rich, or at least associate themselves with the rich, rather than redistribute their wealth downward.

From page 7 of Congressional Testimony, given Tuesday July 21, 2009

And who more fascinating than movie stars? Unfortunately, Ohio voters aren’t alone is this boondoggle giveaway to the rich and fabulous, 39 other States, including ones who already have booming film industries- like California, give über rich asking for a handout.

Now, Ohio joins the crowd, with its “me-too” handout. Corporate welfare is alive and kicking- as is the redistribution of wealth in the name of “economic development.”

The film tax credit included in Ohio’s two-year state budget … Although Ohio is playing catch up — 39 other states already offer such credits — the measure makes Ohio more competitive as a movie location, said Vans Stevenson, a Columbus native and senior vice president, state legislative affairs for the Motion Picture Association of America.

“I think that it puts Ohio in the playing field,” Stevenson said.

The refundable credit is capped at $30 million over two years — $10 million the first year and $20 million in the second. It equals 35 percent of payroll expenditures for Ohio cast and crew wages and 25 percent for nonresident wage and nonwage expenditures. Up to $5 million is available per production.

via State hopes new tax credit will lure more films.

Yet, when you look at this story: “Massachusetts loses big bucks on film tax breaks” from American Public Radio’s Marketplace you start to see the flip side of this one sided tax break.

Sure, it’s nice to think your city has “gone Hollywood” for a few weeks while a film is being made, complete with disruption to local businesses (have you ever seen what happens in Chicago or NYC when a film crew is “on location”)- but overall- how is this really benefiting the tax payer? Would your money be better invested in trash pickup in State parks (Ohio just trashed the pickup to save a measly $55,000 a year!) or by making it cheaper to pay the lackeys that the big stars require while suffering in the heartland?

At some point- taxes need to stop being used as tools- and just as ways to fund necessary public services, and last I checked- making movies wasn’t even close to necessary.

Good to see you, and how’s the campaign coming….

The Board of Elections is a funny place. There are two of everything- and they should be color coded. It’s our crazy way of running elections- where we put the two parties in charge- who then make it their sole goal to keep any other parties or independents out of the action.

A disconcerting recent example: my campaign treasurer, the esteemed Greg Hunter, made a request for some campaign finance reports from previous elections and past election results broken down by precinct.

After 4 weeks of hemming, hawing and delaying- I got on the phone. Records were ready in under 4 hours.

There will be a call made to the BOE chief tomorrow (he was out on Friday) to start an investigation on why the delay. The answer should be interesting.

I’ve always questioned why the partisan Board of Elections has anything to do with City Commission elections- which are supposed to be run by the city- and entirely non-partisan (as if that is really possible). I’ve also wondered why every form needed to run for office isn’t readily available online- as a PDF. It is in Franklin County.

But, the net upshoot of this entire ordeal is, we’re now about 4 weeks behind in starting our requests for donations and planning our campaign. Not to worry though, I’ve always thought campaigns are too long, too expensive and too inane in our country. Looking over most campaign literature for City Commission is like reading the nutritional information on a box of Cap’n Crunch. Lots of sugar, not much substance and a package that appeals to children.

Here are links to sites for the two incumbents:

Nan Whaley

Joey D. Williams

Spend some time on either site- and then some time here. You compare. Then tell your friends to do the same.

Thanks, and if you have some money you can spare, and you care about Dayton- there is a big contribute box on the right sidebar.

The mystery of 10 N. Williams Street

Following a hunch, the closing of the post office at 10 N. Williams Street made me do some digging. From today’s Dayton Daily News:

At risk, according to a list released by the Cincinnati District of the U.S. Postal Service are:

* Station B Finance, 10 N. Williams St.

via ‘No job cuts’ from 5 post offices on list for possible closure.

I wanted to see who owned the building and maybe find out how much rent the Post Office was paying.

Heading over to the Montgomery County Treasurers office site- I find that the City owns a vacant lot at 20 N. Williams Street- and Google Maps confirms there is a post office at 10 N. Williams Street– but the treasurer’s office doesn’t have a listing at all for 10 N. Williams (you have to enter in Williams St. and North- FAIL). Odd.

However, when doing a search on just Williams St- it comes up 8-10 Williams Street, and the property shows up belonging to Scherrie McLin–  Mayor Rhine McLin’s sister, who ostensibly bought it 12 Feb 1992 for $30,000

The tax bills, until 2007 were sent to the Germantown St. address that the Mayor used to live at, but now are delivered to Scherrie’s home in Dayton View. When did the US Post Office decide to put an office here?

And, how much was the Post Office paying in rent? Both of these tidbits of information may be quite interesting to tax payers.

Is knowing about a potential post office, and then buying a building to rent one of those perks of being in office? In the corporate world, it’s called insider trading. In Dayton, it’s a foul not called.

Massive failure- and what will come next

Mark Twain once said “Principles have no real force except when one is well-fed.”

Someone in Washington better take heed, and fast. Latest unemployment figures look like the beginnings of a class war. It’s nice Congress just said no to $1.75 Billion in new fighters- but, we need to FORCE big companies to start hiring Americans pretty quick.

Here are the latest horror numbers for our fair town:

In June, Dayton’s unemployment rate hit 13.7 percent, up from 12.6 percent in May, and 8.6 percent in June 2008, according to the  Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services.

Compared with other major Ohio cities, Dayton’s unemployment rate is higher than Cincinnati’s (10 percent), Columbus’ (9.1 percent) and Cleveland’s (12.2 percent). Youngstown and Toledo both have higher unemployment rates, at 15.2 percent and 15.6 percent, respectively.

Montgomery County’s unemployment level in June also rose, climbing from 11.4 percent in May to 12.4 percent in June, following a loss of nearly 3,000 jobs. Last June, the county’s unemployment rate was 7.4 percent.

via Dayton jobless rate hits 13.7 percent – Dayton Business Journal:.

Normally, a war is a great way to spur employment, but this one isn’t big enough. It’s expensive enough, but we’ve gotten much more efficient at killing and need less grunts on the ground.

While bailed out banks are arguing over bonuses vs salaries in the 6 figure range, people in towns like Dayton across the country are getting hammered. It can’t go on. Sure, health care costs are a major contributor- but when people can’t eat- they sure can’t afford health care.

This country has the power to regulate a lot of commerce. We regulate utilities, we regulate banks (poorly) we regulates monopolies, we regulate stock offerings. It’s time to pull the emergency brake and force companies that trade publicly, to halt compensation over $500K for the next 2 years unless the company hires more Americans. No more million dollar payouts to any CEO who lays off workers- in fact- no paycheck at all during the crisis if you hand out a pink slip.

Until we get our priorities straight, and get our economy back on its feet, all the “principles” of a free market need to go out the window, before we end up owned by China, Japan, India and Russia.

We’re in a war right now- and it’s not being fought with guns- it’s over bread and butter. And if the folks in Washington don’t get smart real fast, they may find that it’s hard to argue with hungry people on the streets- people who once had jobs at companies where the CEO is still fat and happy.

How bad will it have to get before the voices of the unemployed get heard? 13.7% is pretty close.

Your thoughts?

With imagination- all kinds of things are possible

Dayton has shut down many of its pools. Private pools have also closed. Parks and Rec is not much more than a maintenance organization- that tries to keep ball fields groomed and nets on hoops.

This story in the New York Times about an improvised urban oasis just shows how a little imagination- and empowerment can go a long way:

a few enterprising developers recently discovered, is a secret pool party in a pool made out of a Dumpster on the banks of the Gowanus Canal in industrial Brooklyn.

On a rented lot that’s hidden from the street they have erected what they call a lo-fi urban country club: three connected pools housed in Dumpsters; a boccie court; some lounge chairs, grills and cabanas.

via Forget the Trash Bag, Bring a Towel to the Dumpster Pools – NYTimes.com.

In Dayton, if you asked permission to do this, it would never happen. If we empowered neighborhoods- we might see these kinds of ideas, and maybe even some cooler ones.

It’s ideas like this that inspire me to believe we can transform Dayton without a ton of money. All it takes is some imagination.