Video for the people: Esrati and his camera at candidates forums

For the last 4 years- or 4 political races- if you’re counting, I’ve been videotaping candidates nights and posting them on YouTube. I believe more people should have access to these events, which are not widely publicized or well attended.

This week, we had two that had larger crowds- Monday night at the NAACP event, and Tuesday a lunch held by the Dayton chapter of the American Institute of Architects. Two very different experiences to say the least.

The NAACP event hurt itself by inviting way too many candidates. They had all the Dayton mayoral and commission candidates, three school board candidates plus the write in, Trotwood council, and Jefferson and Harrison township trustees. Long event, to hear very little from anyone. Note, these are never debates- these are forums- with candidates being timed and asked questions that are often not well constructed. I was chastised publicly at the beginning of the event by NAACP chief Derrick Foward for not having yet delivered a personal DVD to him of the Northern Hills candidates night. He questioned me at the end as well- as to when I would provide him with a DVD of this event. Of course, the Whaley campaign wasn’t asked for a personal DVD- yet they had a camera there. He made an issue of it again at the end- to which I responded that he should stop bullying me- and there is Nan’s camera- unfortunately, my camera didn’t catch the end of the meeting- either because someone turned it off- or there was a malfunction (I don’t bring an entourage to run my camera). The biggest issue of the evening was the discussion of traffic speed and red light cameras. Other than that- there wasn’t much real info to be had. Some of the candidates from other jurisdictions seemed unable to speak with a microphone- which made it even more difficult to sit through.

Tuesday, the mayoral and commission candidates were invited to speak to the AIA as well as the Home Builders Association and the Associated General Contractors of Dayton. They had Dan Edwards from WDTN channel 2 as a moderator. The questions were written in advance and there was a set schedule. The questions had more meat- and required deeper responses. If you are going to watch any one of these candidates events- this would be the one.

I attended a mayoral forum at Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church this morning- just to tape the mayoral candidates to make sure people had access. I didn’t attend the one run by the Dayton Black Journalists/Cox event- or tape it because I figured that “journalists” would manage to get their event online on their own. To date- I’ve not seen it.

Since all the commission candidates had shown up (Commissioner Williams had originally told me this was a full commission forum) they told us that the commission candidates would have time at the end to say something. That video won’t be up for another few days– but, when I started to get the crowd going– it was time for me to stop (as the people in the back were wildly gesturing the Time Out and your time is over). That’s what happens when you speak the truth in Dayton- you get shut down. Although the event was billed to start at 10 a.m.- they didn’t start serving food until 10:15 and it was 10:45 before the introduction of the mayoral candidates. There was more time given to prayer and thanking all of the people involved than what I was given with the microphone. But, you can watch that all for yourself when I get it online.

I really like the vibe I got at Macedonia. They seem to be an activist church working to heal their neighborhood. They have a non-profit housing rehab group, they have fitness classes, and a charismatic young new pastor from Texas. What I find funny is that it’s so important for politicians to be born here- but, that a pastor who was introduced as the “best pastor this side of Heaven” can be accepted so easily from Texas.

There are things that can be done to all candidates events to make them better- the most important one be to have a set schedule for each set of candidates- so that we don’t have to sit through everyone. The NAACP event should have been Dayton Commission from 7-8, school board from 8-8-30, etc. Another is to make sure your microphones work. That was an issue at Macedonia. And although wireless mics are nice, it’s a lot smarter to have a central podium with a wired mic- both from a standpoint of it working- and from the standpoint of videotaping an event- a camera only has to focus on one spot. If you are smart- have a banner or backdrop behind the speaker to promote your organization. And, please- start and stop on time. Not just for the candidates- but for the voters. We need more of them to be at these events. Usually I can count on at least 20% of any audience being “entourage” and the rest are die hard political operatives. These aren’t reaching the broad community the way they should.

And- if you really want to shake things up- why aren’t the candidates ever asked to ask questions of each other? What are we afraid of? I try to keep a list of upcoming events current on my campaign site: I hope to see you at one of the upcoming forums. Feel free to check any other candidates site to see if they do as much to keep you informed.


Sunday morning pancakes. 9am to 1pm

Buttermilk pancakes from scratch!

Buttermilk pancakes from scratch!

It’s pancake breakfast time! I still need to raise about $1900 to reach my goal of $10,000. So it’s time to put on the chefs hat and sell my pancakes. From scratch buttermilk pancakes- made with ingredients from the 2nd Street public market.

The eggs come from Jean at KJB Farms, the cake flour, baking powder and baking soda from the Spice Rack, as well as the sweet cream Amish butter.

100% pure Grade A maple syrup from Dohner’s Maple Camp- coffee from Ghostlight. I even got non-homogenized milk from Star Dancer creamery – and will try to pour off the cream from the top for the coffee drinkers.

I have also have OJ. Suggested minimum donation is $5 – and it’s all you can eat.

Come to my house, from 9am to 1pm at 113 Bonner Street Dayton 45410 on Sept 29th and help my campaign out and eat an amazing breakfast.

Hope to see you here tomorrow.



South Park, the mecca of pizza

Post updated 26 Apr 2017

I’ve been campaigning on the West side of Dayton a lot lately, and the concept of food desert has been setting in. I’ve tried to eat at locally owned places- Marilyn’s Grill on Gettysburg (now downtown at First and Main), Moe’s Fish and Chicken, the new Cheesesteak guy on W. Third by the old Home Avenue plant, Dragon China, Napoleon’s,  Diamond D’s Diner, Huffies BBQ. But for every one of these, there are probably an equal number of closed places. Even among the national chains, the pickings are slim. And although I understand the need for security, the thick plate glass and revolving food door, remind me I’m not in my ‘hood. That bothers me.

That businesses have to invest in roll-down door covers, security cameras and those plexi-glass walls, tells me that things aren’t the way they should be. Also note, for every place that has the carousel, there is one that doesn’t- and they can be blocks away from each other.

Compared to South Park, where my dining choices go from sushi to spaghetti and breakfasts to burgers, I have a smorgasbord all within a half mile of my house. Just for example, I’m going to list all the options for pizza.

  • Pizza Factory, 1101 Wayne Ave.- 224-4477 a client and one of my all-time faves. Try the Buffalo Bacon Ranch or the Reuben.
  • South Park Tavern– 1301 Wayne Ave., 586-9526- technically- same pizza as Pizza Factory– new owners, beginning of 2017, still same pizza as Pizza factory, only you can sit and drink a craft beer.
  • Jimmie’s Ladder 11, 936 Brown St., (937) 424-1784 – pizza is just a part of their extensive menu, but some people swear by theirs.
  • Coco’s Bistro– 250 Warren St., 228-2626 – another client. artisan thin crust pizza. Not their main thing- but, an option.
  • Wheat Penny – 515 Wayne Ave., 496-5268 The “new place” – fancy pizza in a finer dining setting.
  • Oregon Express– 336 E. 5th St., (937) 223-9205- A bar- with good pizza
  • Salar; 410 E. 5th St. 203.3999, a fine dining place that has a few nice pizzas on the menu.
  • Serendipity Bistro- 25 S. St. Clair St., (937) 760-5380 – a bistro- wine bar- that also makes some artisan pizza. Closed Oct of 2014
  • Olive, an urban dive 416 E. Third St.,222.3483 – they are too cool to call it pizza- but, it’s gluten free, made with chickpeas- they call it Socca- tres good! Closed 2015, now Arepa’s and Co.
  • The Flying Pizza– 223 N. Main St., 222-8031 – they still sell by the slice. I used to be in love with their thick Sicilian Slices. They close early.
  • Uno’s Chicago Grill– 126 N. Main St., 910-8000 – a chain, with lots of kitsch on the walls.
  • Cousin Vinny’s 2032 Wayne Ave., 262-7757 – the king of late-night cheap pizza for UD students.
  • Submarine House 1137 Brown St., 222-7939 – another local institution- either you love it or hate it.
  • Dewey’s 131 Jasper St., 223-0000 Gourmet pizza- with amazing service.
  • Milano’s Atlantic City Subs 1834 Brown St., 222-7072 my favorite is their calzones. In fact, I had a pepperoni and mushroom one tonight.
  • NY Pizzeria Restaurant 1430 E. 5th St., 222-0321 – Old school diner feel. Huge calzones. Closed July 2015
  • Cassano’s Pizza King– 1200 Brown St #110,  294-5464 about to move up the street into new building. New location since Jan 2015 Dayton’s original pizza chain.
  • Old Scratch 812 Patterson Blvd. 937-331-5357- post-industrial chic, sit at picnic benches arranged like in a German beer hall. Wood fired, fast, napolitano style pizzas.

Of course- we also have delivery from Donato’s, Papa John’s and Domino’s, which are all just up the Wayne Avenue hill.

I don’t think I’ve missed any- but, by my count- that’s 19 18 choices for fresh pizza, we may be in the center of the pizza universe in the county. If I’ve missed any- please add in comments. If you have opinions on which makes the best pizza- you can add that too.

To me, pizza diversity is the most important economic indicator of a healthy community. Sure, Oakwood might have Dorothy Lane Market- but, when it comes to pizza- I’m sorry- we’ve got you beat.

To me, success as a city commissioner would be seeing a resurgence of locally owned independent food places across the city. Neighborhood bars, pizza, restaurants- gathering places for our community. I’ve actually got a pretty good idea on how to make it happen, without spending too much in the way of tax dollars.

In the meantime, keep looking at this list- and thinking, I want to live in his neighborhood.


Politics or fundamentals? Dayton’s choice on Nov. 5, 2013

For the last thirty years, Dayton has pursued one “silver bullet” project after another to “save Dayton” or to pivot our fortunes. The list is long, starting with Courthouse Square, the Convention Center, the Arcade, the Arcade Tower, the Victoria, the Schuster Center, Riverscape, Baseball, and while some of these can be counted in the win column by most, the true metric of success- growth, has eluded us.

The Metro area still has the same population- it’s just spread out more. The income levels are stagnating. Property values are dropping, the divide between the rich and poor is spreading and real opportunity for social mobility- the index of how easy it is to move from poverty to prosperity- is ranked very low.

I believe we’ve put too much faith in government to be the engine of the economy, and they in turn, too much faith in bricks and mortar, and not enough emphasis on the people. It’s the people of South Park who make it great- not the government, and not the buildings. The little neighborhood that could decided that liking your neighbors builds equity faster than paint and “progress.”

Dayton is great at forming committees and having master plans. What we’ve moved away from is working on delivery of basic services and doing it in a customer-friendly way.

When I look at the “establishment” candidates- those endorsed by the Montgomery County Democratic party, I see minions of the machine. Nan Whaley has never had a job outside the party in her life. Her view of the world is controlled by the process of politics and raising money and keeping donors happy. Joey Williams and Jeff Mims are along for the ride. You can’t argue with a quarter million dollar machine in the primary with a take-no-prisoners approach. This is politics at its finest. And looking at the splits in supporters with Clay Dixon backing Whaley despite AJ Wagner having been his campaign manager 24 years ago- and Rhine McLin backing Wagner- despite being Whaley’s teammate just 4 years ago, shows that the professional politicians all see this as a game of political chess.

On the flip side, are the two Davids. Myself and David Greer. We’re facing Goliath, with our little $10K budget limits and no political machine behind us. Getting the message out to voters who have been barraged with mailers, TV, radio, yard signs, requires an army of volunteers knocking on doors. Unfortunately, armies also cost money- and require engagement of voters, something years of lies and false promises have beaten out of them.

What we’re selling isn’t sexy. Pride, accountability and service, aren’t things that can be bought off the shelf. The stuff that can be bought- is what funds the campaigns of the big-money candidates- contracts for demolition, prime land and subsidies for new construction, increased police protection, etc. We’ve seen the focus on Meds, Eds and Feds strategy (none of which pay taxes btw) while the taxpayers get hit with higher tax bills, water bills, less service and decaying parks and falling property values.

If you want to see a short video that summarizes the differences- check out what the Brookings Institution is putting out under the “Metropolitan Revolution” name. (Thanks to Chris Ritter for leading me to this). This video sums up what my campaign stresses- a back-to-basics approach, focusing on fundamentals of making Dayton a place where people want to live, invest and run a business:

If this piques your interest, check out their other videos:

There has been a lot of talk about the need for a strong mayor form of government, which both mayoral candidates secretly lust for. However, if we really want to make a difference, it’s even more important today to go back to the professional city manager form of government and remove politics from the helm of our ship. It’s been 20 years since we had our last truly effective city manager who was able to stand front and center without a mayor screaming for attention. That may have been because our mayor at the time, Clay Dixon, wasn’t that kind of politician. But, considering that the next city commission’s first job will be most likely be picking a replacement for Tim Riordan, who the voters pick in the November 5th election is probably the pivotal point in Dayton’s future fortunes.

My thinking on open government and community participation is well documented by the existence of this site since 2005. Looking over my campaign materials from runs 20 years ago, I was still stressing the importance of basic service delivery. If elected, I look to focus our strategy on providing tools for our citizens to improve their social mobility and connectedness to each other, and make Dayton a community that has definable differences from surrounding communities- making it a place where pride and innovation come together. The key, is judging projects on how well they reach the most residents- instead of the current focus of supporting the political contributors to the machines’ campaigns.

Please put down Sunday,  Sept. 29, on your calendar for another Esrati Pancake Breakfast. 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at 113 Bonner Street.



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:

‘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:

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:
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 friends and family plan GOP style in Montgomery County

Today’s Dayton Daily news has a front page article predicting a shakeup in the Montgomery County Republican Party. Considering the paper doesn’t have a steady reporter covering the party- the story was planted. Nothing in the local GOP is organized, even when wunderkind Jeff Jacobsen was running the party like a private fiefdom.

It’s almost laughable that one of the key issues seems to be the lack of a bricks and mortar building for the party- in the age of the virtual campaign:

“I am very proud that I ran the party on a shoestring because our purpose is to elect Republicans, not to have shiny headquarters and nice computers,” current party chair Rob Scott said.

(Sheriff) Plummer and (county party precinct captain Danny) Hamilton declined comment. (Former GOP chair Patrick) Flanagan denied he is trying to unseat (current party chair Rob) Scott and said his efforts are focused on replacing the Washington Twp. headquarters  Scott closed when he took over the party. The party now uses office space in the building where Scott has his Clayton law office. It no longer has a paid executive director or bookkeeper.

“We’re going to build a headquarters one way or another and then we are going to rebuild the party,” Flanagan said.

The party has split into three factions: the old guard, new guard and the Tea Party, said party supporter Linda Coombe of Centerville.

via County GOP shakeup in the works |

Unfortunately- the true underlying issue is that without people in elected office, the party can’t give enough patronage jobs to supporters, because that’s how parties really fund themselves. The Dems force their patronage job people to tithe to the party by buying tickets to their fundraisers like the “Jackass Classic” (the Dems’ golf outing) or the “Frolic for funds” (their main fundraiser). Republicans lately have been fighting over who gets what in the Board of Elections office- where new Director Jan Kelly is being paid less than former director Betty Smith so they “could make room in the budget” to overpay a voter registration clerk.

Typically voter registration clerks make between $25K and $40K a year- but, last month, former Montgomery County GOP central committee chair, David Landon, was hired in at $70K a year, or about double what the position should pay. It’s possible that he promised to push back part of his pay into the coup, as he’s part of the old guard that wants to see current party chair, Rob Scott, gone. Scott on the other hand, as part of his deal to get in office, didn’t take the customary “job” on the Board of Elections which pays $20K a year for 2 meetings a month. Former party Chair Greg Gantt got to keep that perk, and Kay Wick still get those plum jobs- as the counterparts of newly appointed Dems Rhine McLin and John Doll, who were appointed when Dennis Lieberman (former Montgomery County Dem Party head) and Tom Ritchie (AFSCME Regional director) were ousted in a fight with the Secretary of State over early voting in the last presidential election.

Needless to say, the entire Montgomery County BOE is a rat hole of overpaid and underqualified political stoolies with a few professional exceptions. The fact that the directors make more than the County Commissioners should be telling.

Noticeably missing for a quote in the DDn “story” is a quote from the local GOP’s only formidable candidate, Congressman Mike Turner. Considering his fundraising ability, and his ability to consistently win, despite a fractured party, not including him in the article points to the lameness of it.

Until both parties end the practice of putting patronage over politics, don’t expect much.


How my parathyroid was sucking the life out of me

Back around 1997-98 I had my first bout with kidney stones. I don’t remember if my friend Audra Huelsman drove me to Miami Valley Hospital ER- or was the one that picked me up, but going in I could barely stand up. I remember lying on the gurney tucked into the fetal position. They gave me a shot in my butt- without telling me what it was. 10 minutes later I could dance right out of there. Welcome to my first experience with morphine. Now I knew how guys in WWII stormed machine gun nests despite being shot 5 times.

I started feeling like I had lost my “energy” around 2000. I went to my family doctor, I went to another. I started dating a girl in Cincinnati- who recommended me to a guy who specializes in cholesterol. He found that my triglycerides were at 1200 (normal is under 100) and started me on some meds to put that in check. I felt a little better, but I still didn’t feel like myself.

After eating, I’d often get tired- or feel a wave of depression. I started having reflux, and felt that eating more would help it go down. I’d have a pain in my lower, right side- toward the back. I wondered if it was my gall bladder, appendix or later my adrenal gland. In the last year, my memory seemed to be not as sharp- I found myself hunting for words.

Last September, I went to the hospital again for kidney stones. This time, they weren’t coming out without help. I had surgery to break them up- and a stent put in, and then a second minor procedure to take the stent out. I was sent to an endocrinologist for the first time. He ran tests. Vitamin D was low, calcium was high, PTH- the parathyroid hormone was elevated. He did more tests. 2 biopsies, 2 nuclear scans, multiple ultrasounds. He thought is might be my parathyroid, but wanted to be sure.

I didn’t even know what a parathyroid was, or what it did before that. A friend, Jen Alexander, pointed me to the website of a doctor in Florida who runs an assembly line for removal of parathyroid glands. Reading that site, I learned more than I could ever need to know. There was no need for more tests- it just had to come out.

My grandfather, who was an MD, used to poke at my neck when I was 12 or so- wondering about my thyroid. My grandmother had had hers removed with radiation in 1948- when they were in the first stages of using all the new-found nuclear toys to do new things in medicine. All of my life I’d heard about the thyroid- but never the parathyroid. The parathyroid is actually four small glands that are supposed to be the size of grains of rice that sit on the thyroid- right next to your vocal cords. They are supposed to regulate calcium in your body. When one goes crazy and starts producing too much hormone, the others go dormant. Your body starts sucking the calcium out of your bones- and often times, makes kidney stones. But it also can do all kinds of other things- like be misdiagnosed as fibromyalgia among other things.

David Esrati's neck after parathyroid surgery

On leaving the hospital, the purple was marking the surgery- the scar below is the parathyroid scar.

Then came a few delays in scheduling which were frustrating me no end. Falling asleep while reading, feeling sore and stiff when waking up, all these things were driving me nuts. Never mind the recurrent kidney stones.

Yesterday, around 8:30am I went under the knife at the Cincinnati VA by Dr. David Steward, and got at least 1 oversized parathyroid removed. I have a scar at the base of my neck that follows a fold. The stitches are all internal- and there is a clear glue protective coating on it. It looks like someone tried to garrote me with piano wire- and didn’t finish the job.

My neck and throat were sore as I left the hospital around 1 p.m. They were still sore today- although it’s getting better by the hour. But the way I feel is magical. The haze that hung over me, the feelings of depression and tiredness are gone. I feel a clarity again that I’ve missed for so long, it’s as if I’ve been given a whole new life.

To think that I’ve spent the last 13 years thinking this was just because I was getting old, is a little bit depressing. I’ve always reminded people that doctors are “practicing” medicine – as in they still haven’t got it perfected, but right now- despite being sore, I feel like a gazillion bucks comparatively.

If you’ve had kidney stones, or if you’ve felt like you’ve had a loss in energy, or feel depressed after eating- I highly recommend you do a little research and have your PTH, calcium and vitamin D checked. Apparently, parathyroid disorders often go misdiagnosed for years.





Candidates’ night season begins

Candidates’ nights kick off tonight at Belle Haven School on Free Pike, just West of Gettysburg. Hosted by the Northern Hills Neighborhood association it begins at 7 p.m. I’ve been posting all the events at but it’s not as user friendly as I’d like.

Tomorrow night, I’ve been invited to speak at the Riverdale neighborhood association meeting at 6:30 pm. They’ve been inviting candidates one at a time. It’s my intention to be there- although much will depend on my outpatient surgery tomorrow to have my parathyroid removed.

Candidates’ nights, for those of you who’ve not been to one, are a mixed bag. Depending on the rules and how they are enforced, as well as the format- can really dictate the value to a voter. Typically, each candidate gets between 2 and 5 minutes to present their introduction. There may be questions from either the audience- directed to either specific candidates or all, and there is usually a closing statement. In all, most candidates speak for under 10 minutes- but are expected to stay for an hour or more. They aren’t the best use of a candidate’s time (door knocking is the most effective tool- since most of the people who attend candidates’ events are the best informed voters who mostly have their minds made up before hand- or already know more about the candidates than most voters). And, after a while, most candidates can regurgitate other candidates’ stump speech.For me, the most painful candidate to listen to was Sharon Neuhardt who repeated herself so much and said so little- it led to this spoof:

Her campaign manager is now working for Nan Whaley- I pray he hasn’t coached Nan to do the same for all of our sake.

I try to videotape every one of these events and post them for people to review from home. If we had fiber available in South Park – it would make it a lot easier. It takes as long as 24 hours to upload an hour of video over DSL.

As it gets darker earlier and earlier, door knocking is curtailed by the fall of the sun. Ideally, these events could be moved to after 8 p.m. and keep candidates on the streets longer. Another option is to just schedule in each candidate in a ten-minute window and let them come and go (unfortunately, for me, this wouldn’t save me time- since I provide the video).

I thought I’d written a tip sheet on holding an effective candidates’ forum in the past- but can’t find it. Some keys:

  • Have a microphone and a podium- and always as the candidate to speak from the same spot- for ease of video, and for the audience to have a place to focus.
  • Have an effective time keeper. Enforce time limits strictly.
  • Make sure all candidates get a chance to address every question so candidates’ plants can’t ask their candidates questions to monopolize time. Limit all answers to the same amount of time.
  • Provide a place to deposit literature- instead of having candidates or surrogates handing it out.
  • Start on time. Don’t make the candidates sit through other business. They can do that at other meetings.
  • Don’t use alphabetical order- let the candidates draw numbers.
  • Don’t make candidates for City Commission sit through school board candidates’ times and vice versa.
  • Provide your members with a list of candidates and links to candidates’ websites, hopefully before the forum.

I’m sure I left a few things out.

I’m hoping we can get the candidates to work together to do something different this election season- have a Pecha Kucha candidates night – with each candidate giving 20 slides, 20 seconds each on any subject they want to explain their campaign. I hope we can pull it off- just because it will make things more interesting.

I hope to see you at one of these events. Or, if you like the fact that one campaign tries to keep everyone informed by posting video- I hope you consider a donation:






The mind, body and spirit of Dayton

David Esrati hangs rims at Princeton Rec

Thanks to Mike, I had a hand hanging the third FirstTeam FT172D rim at Princeton Rec

Yesterday, we hung the third donated First Team FT172D rim at Princeton Recreation center. (If you’d like to donate rims, click the link and follow the instructions.) Now all 6 backboards have workable rims, although 2 are built for chains, and one- the one next to “the rock” is suffering from rotted backboarditis. I’ve been talking to a local businessman about donating some wooden backboards as temporary fixes. Full court ball is now in session at the Rec center- but, we’re still missing out on creating organized ball in the city. You can read more about my green nets at

The guy who donated that rim, and the box of nets I’m hanging now, sent me a link this morning to a story about a physical-education-centered charter school that opened in NYC last year. I doubt there are meaningful statistics on if it’s working yet- but, my guess is, a school like this in Dayton would go a long way toward helping boost graduation rates and provide yet another “point of pride” for living in Dayton. Watch the 7 minute ESPN video about the “Urban Dove” High School:

(sorry for the external link- ESPN doesn’t make it easy to embed video)

I used to hate gym when I was in school- mostly because so much of it was unfocused physical activity, with the exception of a running class and a swimming class in high school- the dodge ball, kickball and lame calisthenics didn’t give me any lasting skills or knowledge. With our degraded parks, our decimated parks and rec programming, and no physical education being tested on the “no child left untested” or “common core” curriculum, we’re playing into raising another generation of out-of-shape diabetics.

Physical conditioning is a key component of being able to cope, focus, and reach our potential as citizens. My hoops Dayton net initiative is only a first step toward taking our basketball crazy city and turning us into a healthy community. I know that when I’m overweight and not in peak shape (as I am right now) everything is more difficult. I imagine this is the same for everyone in our community- which is why our parks and recreation utilization is one key part to putting the pride back in Dayton.

Adding a bike share program to our city (and not just where the yuppies and hipsters live per the Dr. Ervin plan) but citywide is another way to engage our citizens in healthy alternatives to being sedentary.

As part of my plan to re-engage our citizens, via strengthening our neighborhood organizations, we’d also reward neighborhoods that start fitness groups- walking, running, bicycling, basketball, softball, soccer- and engage in organized fitness. Much for the very same reasons Urban Dove high school puts every kid on a team. We have a ladies’ book club- and a ladies who eat club, and a Shakespeare  group in South Park- but we’ve not graduated to sports/fitness yet.

We may have empty lots with jungles growing on them, or houses ready to be town down- but the question is- should our city focus on the health of its citizens before the health of its people. I believe that healthy citizens will be able to find better answers to our other problems. If we focus on building on the strength of our citizens- instead of the liabilities of our physical infrastructure – we, like the coaches of Urban Dove, may have a lasting impact on restoring the mind, body and spirit of our city.