I just want to beat on a drum all day- this Saturday

A friend from Junior High School endorses me- and another from elementary school is hosting Drum Dayton on Courthouse Square this weekend.

Here’s my friend Thurmond talking about me:

And here is the lineup for Drum Dayton courtesy of Peter Benkendorf who grew up a few blocks from me and is a year older.

4:00 Chaske Hotain Native American Drummers
4:30 Joseph Glenn Steel Pan Duo
5:00 Michael Bashaw’s Bamboo Stick Orchestra
5:30 University of Dayton Drumline
6:00 Wright State Percussion Ensemble
6:30 Baoku Moses – Nigerian Hand Drummer
7:00 Dayton Phil. Orchestra Percussion Trio
7:30 West Side Drum Corps
• Dakota 3DI
• Dayton Young & Gifted
• T.R.S.S. Drumline
8:30 DrumDayton Collaborative
9:00 Community Drum Circle

There will be food trucks on the square to keep you fed.

Here is the description of the event:

On Saturday November 2,from 4:00 to 11:00 PM, Courthouse Square will come alive like never before as we celebrate the vitality and diversity of the Dayton community as well as the pulse of downtown through the universal language of drumming. Whether you plan to participate, learn some new techniques or just feel the beat, you don’t want to miss this drum explosion.

More info on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Drum-Dayton-Feel-the-Beat-of-the-City/531824190224921


End the frequent flyers at the county jail

I’m pretty sure that if someone focused on our local jail population, we’d find a core group of people who seem stuck in a revolving door. I know one of them all too well, I’ve been a “big brother” for the last 26 years.

In the last month, he’s been a guest of the taxpayers twice at costs to society that aren’t being clearly calculated. The standing number of $65 a day for room and board at the jail is just the tip of the iceberg, all the money spent on the police officers’ time to arrest, do paperwork, show up in court- the costs of the prosecutors, judges, bailiffs, the time he loses from work- all add up to a lot more money than we realize.

And in the end- it doesn’t work.

We may find him guilty of public intox, resisting arrest, trespassing, “obstruction” (whatever that means) and a slew of other charges that are all minor misdemeanors. We may fine him- for which he doesn’t have the resources to pay, we may lock him up some more- which costs us more money and cuts his income and employability to even less, and in the end, we’ve not solved a damned thing.

And while we can point fingers and say if he wasn’t so stupid, he wouldn’t keep getting into these situations, the question is how stupid are we for not trying to solve the root problems?

Just getting rid of “the box” on employment applications as Judge Wagner likes to talk about on the campaign trail isn’t going to solve the problem for our frequent flyers- it won’t take long after securing a job that they will be missing work due to a visit to the county guest quarters on W. 2nd Street.

The problems are deeper than we’re willing to tackle. Being a minority increases his chances of getting hauled downtown on minor BS. I know this only too well- a neighbor who is blonde, buxom and beautiful recently got pulled over on I75 heading home from Covington because her “tail lights were out.” The cop administered a field sobriety test, which she supposedly passed- but, he didn’t give her a ticket – just a warning, then drove her to Waffle House to be picked up by a friend (me- at 3 a.m.). Out of his own curiosity he asked her to blow- to calibrate his performance on the field sobriety test- it was a .86- so she was legally drunk. This wouldn’t have happened to my little brother- it would have been “go to jail, go directly to jail, do not pass go, do not collect $200.” Note- this would have been her third DUI and could have caused loss of license and job. Also note- it wasn’t that the tail lights were out- it was that the lights were off- she was driving without headlights, too.

Besides the minority rap, the arresting officer sees the record of a suspect in the field. Once you show up as a frequent flyer- decorum goes out the window. In the latest arrest- he was beaten. He claims after the cuffs were on. Does he have a defense- of course not. Does this decrease respect for authority and cause deeper emotional distrust and damage- yes. What is the solution? Probably it’s going to end up requiring all police officers to wear video cameras and record every interaction- and to me, this can’t happen soon enough- to protect both parties. Supposedly, my idiot has an audio recording of the altercation. Right now- I don’t have time to dig into this, nor, after years of this kind of stupidity do I really want to. I’ve gone to bat too many times for him and gotten burned with half-truths and misrepresentations.

But, what can and should we do? I’d say a coordinated effort at handling these frequent flyers would be a better solution. Instead of jail and prosecution for minor charges, send them to camp. A diversionary voluntary program where you stay until you get sober or calmed down, and then placed into a treatment program that requires AA meetings, community service and assigned a case worker to try to deal with the multiple issues that are causing the bad behavior. This includes psychological counseling, job counseling, mentorship, and if needed, grants or low-interest loans to help solve immediate issues. Believe it or not- paying to fix a car to get to work may be cheaper than paying for jail and prosecution.

We’ve got too many people stuck in a cycle of failure to which our legal system isn’t the answer. Hopefully the Affordable Care Act may make mental health treatment more accessible to those who may need it most. On the other hand, maybe we need to pioneer a program like AA for social misfits who can’t seem to fit in (although I do believe most of them have substance abuse issues).

We can’t fault the police for “doing their job” – but, the system seems to be causing itself more problems than it’s helping in these repeat offenders of minor crime because that’s really not what the system is meant for. I’d feel better if just the murderers, thieves and dangerous people were in the system and the annoying ones were being taught new habits.

As a reference point: He’s been incarcerated twice for 3 years each time. The first, there was no training or counseling and he was back in prison within 2 years. The second time, he went through alcohol treatment and got a full year of college in- with a 3.99 gpa. He’s currently a few credits short of graduating from Sinclair, but has been unable to complete due to recurring issues with the law and his poor financial and time-management skills. He has a GED. He’s also the father of 3 by two different women and has another bun in the oven. This is par for the revolving door types. It’s time to replace that revolving door with a more efficient system that actually delivers outcomes we, as a society, want.

Dayton’s “Rock and Roll” Mayor, Paul Leonard weighs in

I was curious. Since 3 out of 5 living Dayton mayors had backed A.J. Wagner, I wondered what Paul Leonard would say. So I wrote him an e-mail. He gave permission to publish- as long as I didn’t cut anything. It’s worth a read.

From: David Esrati <[email protected]>
Sent: Tuesday, October 29, 2013 9:13 AM
To: Leonard, Paul R.
Subject: A question for a former Mayor of Dayton?

Hi Paul-
Just wondering since the four mayors who followed you have weighed in on the mayor’s race-
Whom would you back? A.J. or Nan?
And- would you be willing to state which publicly?
And- why one over the other?
I’m curious.Thanks
On 10/29/13 10:25 AM, Leonard, Paul R. wrote:


Interesting questions—these days I’m usually only asked that question in the locker room of my Kettering gym!!

I will try to answer you as best as I can.  I’ll begin by disclosing that Nan has talked to me; A.J. has not.  Her contact was nothing more than a courtesy call on a former Mayor—not a request for a formal endorsement.  Smart internal politics, but not much more than that.  As you know, I have not been involved in local Democratic politics for quite some time, so I have no inside knowledge about either candidate’s platform for Dayton’s future.  I know only what I read and see—like any other voter/area citizen.  Of course I am concerned about the city’s future.  This is my home—forever.

I’ve known A.J. for a long time.  I helped him get his first city job.  I don’t know Nan all that well although a couple of my students are working on her campaign and seem to be favorably impressed.

Here are a few of my thoughts:

1.  I don’t agree with A.J.’s claim that Dayton is a “dying” city.  I saw the city when it really was a dying city—in the 70’s when our industrial base began to crumble and the town went from a quarter of a million citizens to its current population. In my opinion, Dayton is a study in survival. Through generally good political, business, and citizen leadership, we are alive today and have begun to stabilize with a more diverse business/industrial base.  We will never be a quarter of a million people again.  But we can be a medium-sized city with a good quality of city life, gentle Midwestern schools and values, well-placed between two bustling metropolitan cities (Cincy and Columbus) for those who want and need more of those things that big city life has to offer.

What is “dying” is our neighborhood stock, safety, and cleanliness.  In the 1950’s, Dayton’s slogan on every trash can downtown was—“Dayton: America’s cleanest and safest city!” Not a bad goal for the 21st century Dayton.

In my opinion both candidates have failed to develop a vision and plan for drastic neighborhood revival and survival.  There have certainly been some isolated successes, but nothing substantial that could turn neighborhood deterioration around and once again make Dayton “America’s safest and cleanest city.” Nan seems to talk about a “roadmap for job creation.”  That’s important. But jobs is a word that comes too easy to politicians these days.  That’s everyone’s first answer.  In sum, I think A.J. has been a little too negative, and Nan has missed an opportunity to bring a new, young face to substantial neighborhood revitalization.

2.  The mayor’s job is the most important and significant “regional” elective office.  When people in Washington or Columbus look at a region like Montgomery County, the mayor of the central city IS THE MOST IMPORTANT elected leader.  He or she is the region’s soul and personality. The structure of the central city government is not the issue–leadership is the issue!  I have seen very little discussion from either candidate about leading the region into the future.  Both have pledged to be more out-front in terms of leading Dayton’s future.  But what does that mean?  Real change in how the greater Dayton community works together as ONE is needed.  The city can’t live without the suburbs and the suburbs need a viable central city  to be relevant.

My bottom line–if I were a Dayton voter I’m not sure who I would support.  Frankly, I think the city will be okay with either.  The question for Dayton voters is:  if okay is not the goal, who will be best?

I, as well as others, will always stand ready to provide advice, counsel, and historical perspective to whomever gets elected–no matter the politics of any elected official.  I want my hometown to get better and better with the election of each new mayor and each new commissioner. These would be my public comments.  More an endorsement of Dayton as opposed to an endorsement of any particular candidate.

One final note with respect to you:  I have watched you grow and mature politically over the years.  You got off to a “rocky start.”  I am pleased however, to see you remain involved.  Different voices are needed if we are going to re-invent our future as a thriving community in a very competitive new century.  I wish you all the best in whatever you choose to do.

Paul Leonard

From: David Esrati <[email protected]>
Date: Tue, 29 Oct 2013 11:05:10 -0400
To: Leonard, Paul R.
Subject: Re: A question for a former Mayor of Dayton?

Hi Paul-
I really wasn’t expecting such a well thought out and lengthy response. Thank you.
Being 51 is a lot different than being 27 and the proud new owner of a $14,500 house in a neighborhood that appeared to be dying then.
It isn’t now. I’m proud of the progress we’ve made in South Park- and I think that a lot of the lessons learned here- would work elsewhere- cities are made up first of people- then of buildings. Take care of the people- and the buildings take care of themselves.
Unfortunately- I’ve had to listen to both candidates for mayor more than I’d like. I’m not in love with either- but, I’ve had to witness Nan’s parochial approach to leadership- I’ve nicknamed it the “Friends and Family Plan”- where if you’re her friend or a part of her family- you get favoritism. It’s still the modus operandi of the Montgomery County Democratic party. They are the only party that endorses in primaries- and the only one that asks “if we don’t endorse you, will you drop out”- not very “democratic” if you ask me.
I’ve told A.J. numerous times- to focus on the positive- and his vision. He’s as headstrong as Turner in that respect. It’s unfortunate that he doesn’t listen- but, who am I but the guy who has been losing elections for 20 years.
I too agree that politicians talking about influencing jobs is like politicians talking about the weather. That’s why I don’t do it.
The amount of money Nan has raised and spent makes me ill. To think what I could have done with the basketball courts with just a tenth of her money. As it stands- I’ve hung over 260 nets and put up three new rims. Not enough- but a good start.
I would love to publish your answer on www.esrati.com
I think it’s insightful- but- I don’t think it was meant for publication. Let me know.
Ohio is long overdue for an overhaul of jurisdictions. The latest developments of income taxes being charged in Townships has me very concerned. I think we need to seriously look at consolidating jurisdictions by mandate- instead of waiting for all our chiefs to figure it out.

For the pride of “America’s cleanest and safest city” to return- we’re going to need some new voices with some new ideas- because frankly, we didn’t get to where we are because we were paying attention to what was happening around us.

I hope to be one of those new voices, but only time will tell.

Thanks again.

From Leonard, Paul. R. 11:59am

I agree with many of your sentiments.
Our political parties and money in politics have put a serious dent in our democracy as envisioned by forefathers like George Washington and Thomas Jefferson.
I no longer feel good about Washington—it’s broken and the likes of Truman, Kennedy, Eisenhower (statesmen and leaders) are gone. But there is hope—even if it’s one community at a time. That’s where America will be re-invented—even if the simple beginning is nothing more than replacing basketball nets on our public playgrounds! (Great idea, by the way!)
Don’t worry about losing elections–Lincoln lost a few before he got it right!
As a matter of fact, I learned more in my one loss than in all of my wins—about myself and what is important in life.
Anything I communicate via the social media is free to be published. One condition—i don’t wish to have parts published. It’s all or nothing.
Again, best wishes and always fight the good fight. Paul

Three former mayors endorse A.J. Wagner

With today’s announcement that former Dayton Mayor Mike Turner, now Congressman for the 10th district, endorses A.J. Wagner over Nan Whaley- that puts three former mayors behind Wagner. Current mayor, Independent Gary Leitzell, who had to “work” with Whaley for the last 3.8 years, already had backed Wagner, as had former Mayor Rhine McLin- who used to be the leader of Whaley’s team.

Leitzell has told me that he’s had more meaningful conversations with Wagner over the last 3 months, than he’s had with Whaley in the last 3 years. McLin who lost to Leitzell in a surprise underdog upset, has backed Wagner from the primary. Considering that four years ago, Whaley was McLin’s best friend and shadow- hints to the real nature of Whaley’s purely political nature- using whomever she can to get what she wants.

Hopefully Dayton voters will see that anyone willing to spend north of $400,000 to get a job that only gives Whaley a $7,000 a year raise and the ability to marry people, is a megalomaniac.

Apparently after McLin lost, and was no longer of value to Whaley, she told her something to the effect of “shut up and go away, no one wants you anymore” according to confidential sources. Placing McLin on the Board of Elections also guaranteed that she wouldn’t run for commission or mayor against Whaley.

The only odd bird out in the mayoral endorsements is Clay Dixon who is backing the party line- and Whaley, despite A.J. having served as Dixon’s campaign manager when he won the race for mayor.

This is the first time Turner has weighed in on local politics, but after the constant meddling by U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown in local races, maybe he felt it was appropriate. This may be the first and only time I’ve agreed with Turner, other than when he passed legislation banning the use of construction debris as backfill for demolitions in Dayton.

The question is what we’ll see in the mailer war between now and election day- and what goes on TV and radio and if voters really care who the Montgomery County Democrats endorse.

Considering that Whaley is stupid enough to spend money mailing pieces with Wagner’s face and name on it- is a good indication of how quickly this campaign could backfire on her, no matter how much money and union help she has. Already, the UAW has endorsed Wagner- and many union members have told me that although their unions have backed her, they are voting for Wagner.

Ten thousand dollars reached. Ten thousand thank yous.

Last night, the last donation came in. 9 days before the election, and I reached the goal of $10,000. Any donation from this point on- would go for nets, rims, backboards, tools to clean up courts and to cut off nasty old rusted hardware.

If you look at my campaign finance report: David Esrati PreGeneral Report 2013 PDF you’ll see that the money was spent responsibly. Some may argue that much of the money came back to my own company- The Next Wave, as if I’m paying myself to run- however, when you compare it to others- you’ll realize I spent a lot less on printing, website development, video production etc. – because, I do a lot of it myself. I manage my own campaign (not the smartest way to go)- I edit and post my own videos (other than the interns who did the hoops video) and I maintain my own site- and post to it too. I do my own social media- etc. It’s a hands-on campaign. I even cook for my own fundraisers- and if you missed my pancakes- or chicken parmigiana, you missed out.

The real question is- what good is a $10K campaign if you don’t win? The answer is- it’s not. But, the idea that my principles haven’t been compromised is priceless to me. Of course, when it comes to politics- principles left the building long ago in this country.

Back in 1999 I ran against Bootsie Neal and Dean Lovelace in a 3-way race. Dean raised and spent $12K, Bootsie did $10K and I ran on $7k. When the votes came in- Dean had 12,000, Bootsie 10,000 and I had 7,000. It came in almost exactly at $1 a vote. I was disgusted, but I don’t give up that easily.

The real eye opener has been the Internet- both from a standpoint of being able to directly communicate with so many- and the advent of tools like CiviCRM. Working on the first Obama campaign I got a good look at how data was used to target voters. It changed my perception of how to run an effective campaign. The second epiphany was in my last run in Dayton 4 years ago (2 years ago my petitions came up a few signatures short) was that many of the voters I needed to reach weren’t online. To most of you reading this- that’s almost inconceivable. I knew I had to do something totally different to reach voters who aren’t connected.

The basketball net idea wasn’t fully formed when I began this campaign. In fact, after the bruising year I had last year, I almost wasn’t going to run. Had it not been for Terry Posey pushing with a donation and Gary Leitzell needing candidates and the fact that I’d already given up a relationship that was important to me partially over this- the smart thing would have been to not run. But here I am. $10K raised, a ton of doors knocked on. New friends in barber shops all over town, and more thank yous than I’ve ever heard in a campaign- mostly from people too young to vote.

Even if I lose- because of my choice to invest in actions over words with the “hoops Dayton” campaign- Dayton is a better place.

To everyone of you who’ve donated, I am humbled. To the few people who’ve donated nets and rims- those were the best donations because they empowered me to change the city one small bit toward my vision of what Dayton can be. And to those of you who stepped up and helped hang rims, clean up courts, hang nets and walk and talk to people- actions speak louder than words- and I can’t thank you enough.

The last push is this week. I still have a few low-budget tricks up my sleeve, but, mainly I need all of you to spread the word to your friends who are voters in Dayton- to urge them to give me a chance to represent them. To have someone who will work tirelessly to restore pride and respect in and for Dayton. To change the way we think of government and what it can do for us- to make Dayton a place where people want to live, invest, work and play- regardless of their socioeconomic status, race, religion, nationality or moral compass.

If you want to volunteer- I have literature and walk lists. On election day, I need people to stand outside the polls and talk to voters. If you can or want to do either – call me at 985-1312 or write [email protected]

10,000 thank yous.

And special thanks to Ryan- for being the final donor.

Now- someone can test to see if you can still donate over the goal…. so we have some money for rims. I was at Washington Park yesterday morning- 2 backboards had no rims. I can fix that with a few hundred dollars.

How to make Dayton a more education centric community

There is no doubt that educational achievement is good for a community’s economy. Good schools are still one of the prime factors driving residential real estate values. And while Dayton public schools are oft maligned and score poorly on state report cards, we come back to the basics of computer programming: garbage in, garbage out.

There is overwhelming evidence that poor kids show up to school years behind wealthier ones. That a child’s vocabulary is directly related to the economic status of its parents. This is where government intervention for the best interests of society is most called for- and yet, the idea of the government intervening is contrary to the ideas of personal and religious freedoms. Sorry, Mr. and Mrs. Citizen, little George’s vocabulary is only 500 words and should be 2,000 right now, we’re going to place him in a boarding school? Not likely.

McDonald’s recent marketing push is to hand out books as part of happy meals- putting the company in the lead of advancing literacy and book ownership in our country. It’s sad when a company with a clown for a mascot is more responsible than our government in advancing literacy rates.

Dayton has to change its culture to reward educational attainment. Yes, I realize I’m the guy who hung 250 basketball nets- encouraging kids to strive for the NBA instead of being a National Merit Scholar, but, with limited resources I was looking for actions instead of words. Once elected, I have some ideas we can implement to change our culture.

We now charge kids to get into our rec centers. I propose through a partnership with Dayton Public Schools that kids with a B average or better- get free admission. I also plan to provide the schools with the ability to grant passes to kids based on doing well as rewards for achievement.

With my creation of basketball and soccer leagues across the city (the two sports that require the least amount of equipment and provide excellent aerobic workouts) – we will waive fees for kids with B’s and above. Strict eligibility rules will require at least a C+ to participate.

Neighborhoods will be rewarded with funds for neighborhood improvements based on tutoring and reading sessions organized in the community for kids. It’s time to open up our churches and neighborhood schools and centers, during the week to make them a place to focus on personal growth. Adult literacy skills will also be part of the programming. As the first phase of my Digital Dayton strategy, these locations will be hooked up first with gigabit fiber to provide true high-speed access in all parts of our city to all our citizens.

This doesn’t really address the need to grow our kids’ vocabulary in the critical first 4 years. To do this, I believe it’s time to work to improve public daycare programs. As an incentive to help Dayton employers compete- I’d like to re-introduce an idea from my first campaigns 20 years ago- of offering subsidized day care for residents who live and work in the city. In the long run, this can have a greater impact on moving people from welfare to work than anything else we can do. To help support this, I think that we should ramp up educational programming in high schools and at Sinclair for early child education and development- and have these students get work/study credits and pay for working in day care. I think this is more important than Sinclair providing subsidized training for defense contractors in Greene County- which was announced today (another instance of Montgomery county taxpayers subsidizing other counties).

These programs will not be ones that will offer short-term results- they are part of a long-term strategy to transform Dayton into a learning community- focused on increasing our social capital. Equal access to education and educational opportunity via the Internet- is, as far as I’m concerned, a basic right- right up there with “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

Help me get elected so we can move forward as a community, economically and educationally.

The Whaley tax on rich people- campaign finance report

The pre-election campaign finance reports were due today. I’m happy to say I turned mine in on time. A mere 9 pages. Compare that to the 43-page book turned in by the Whaley campaign and you’ll start to understand.

Nan Whaley with Sherrod Brown in a FB ad

I’m losing respect for Sherrod Brown too. As if she is facing a real threat to democracy in AJ? C’mon.

I’m $200 away from reaching my goal of $10,000. She got more $10K checks from unions- and lots of $1.000.00+ checks from the, well, the people with the money- and the people who do business in the area. She also got money in big chunks from people who live far away from here. I’ve OCR’d her report- straightened the pages- and made it easy for you to review. I don’t even care to really comment. Nan Whaley PreGeneral 2013 report PDF

If you’d like to end my fundraising: donate: www.electesrati.com/donate

Williams, Mims- both raised more money than I did. They also spent more than I did. Somehow, buying food, wine, a lot of ads in programs, donating to other campaigns, donating to churches- is expensive. They didn’t hang any basketball nets, or clear any basketball courts. They didn’t hang three new rims at Princeton Rec- and really- they didn’t say a whole lot on the campaign trail.

If you want to see everyone’s campaign reports- they are here: http://www.mcohio.org/boe/candidate_tools/CF_Reports/cf_reports.cfm

Here is mine: David Esrati PreGeneral Report 2013 PDF

My biggest individual donations were $500. My average donation was $66.22

I had 3 fundraisers. I spent almost all my money locally. I did my own design, a lot of my own web work, didn’t pay any staff. Didn’t buy anybody lunch. I knocked on a lot of doors myself. I videotaped all the events- and posted them online. I helped David Greer, Gary Leitzell, Hazel Rountree with campaign materials and with websites.

I started up the www.hoopsdayton.org site that I hope to grow into a place to run basketball leagues and coordinate tournaments in the future. For now- it’s working as a great website for a lot of independent Dayton Businesses- barber shops, who didn’t have websites- but, are now being found in Google. I had 2 DPS kids as interns this summer- and they made an amazing video about the hoops initiative. If I lose, I think our city still won. If I win- I know it’s because I did the right thing and never sold out.

Tonight I was at one of the most interesting and informative candidates’ events ever- run by Preservation Dayton. I’ll have video up on Saturday if all goes well.

I’m incredibly tired, and still need help with distributing literature and working the polls. I’d like to thank all those who donated- and those who’ve helped. But- the biggest thanks is to those who’ve hollered out of cars- “thanks for putting up nets, we’re voting for you” or to the kids who’ve thanked me on the courts. Your thanks meant the world to me. I’ve run a bunch of times over the last 20 years- and never have I been thanked so many times.

I’ve been asking friends, supporters and people who know me to do testimonials. Here’s one from UD Women’s basketball coach, Jim Jabir- it’s short. It’s not your normal endorsement- but, I think people stopped expecting normal from me long ago.



I’ve taken the cover pages of all Whaley’s reports- 2012 annual to present. Despite having a huge war chest on hand- it shows she’s raised in cash $389,119 and spent $276,106.32 which if you subtract one from the other leaves $113,013 – That’s a lot to spend in 10 days. Here is the file: Whaley total pre gen PDF

Candidates nights: the inside scoop before the last 3 events

I try to keep all the events posted for people at www.electesrati.com/events, as far as I know, I’m the only one who does this, and certainly the only one who videotapes every event and posts them to youtube.

Tomorrow night we have the UpDayton forum at Wiley’s Comedy Club. Trust me, being able to drink while listening to most candidates talks makes it more bearable. Unfortunately, I don’t drink.

Let me explain the devolution of politics for you. We don’t have debates.

Here’s the definition- it seems to be forgotten: a formal discussion on a particular topic in a public meeting or legislative assembly, in which opposing arguments are put forward.

The way most candidates present: My name is ______________, I was born in Dayton, went to school at _____________, work doing _______________.

The audience should immediately start braying like a donkey. As if the candidate had anything to do with where they were born- and as if an education counts as qualifications for election (one only needs to look at Congress to see that anyone is equally capable of being a moron and elected at the same time).

Then they launch into their “platform”- which is either a history of committees or posts they’ve served on or their previous elected experience. At no point do they actually talk about anything they plan on doing- unless they are referring to some vaguely worded “plan” “roadmap” or “blueprint”- none of which means anything (especially if they’ve already been holding office and haven’t already implemented at least part of it….). Then they remind you of their name and to vote for them. Wow.

When it comes to questions- no, voters don’t ask about multi-million dollar investments in real estate by the city, or tax breaks for General Electric, or police hiring, or voting records, no, they ask about red light cameras and speed cameras. At least of the incumbents.

Never are candidates given the chance to ask each other questions, never are discussions focused on a subject for anything other tan a cursory 2 minute answer- without any give and take. The closest we’ve had to real questions was at the AIA lunch event, where a moderator asked questions we were supposedly given in advance. And, still, the answers didn’t require much research or thought.

That’s why this Thursday, Preservation Dayton may provide one of the most interesting events of this season. I am posting the entire communication they sent in prep last night for you to see what real, substantive questions look like. I hope to see you at the RTA center on Thursday night:

Candidates’ Forum – Vision for Protecting & Improving Dayton’s Housing and Commercial Buildings
Thurs. Oct. 24, 2013 7 – 9 p.m.
Dayton RTA Cultural and Community Center 40 S. Edwin C. Moses Boulevard, Dayton, OH, 45402 (937) 333-2489

Questions for candidates:

1) Building code compliance has been a major challenge for the City of Dayton for over 50 years. Deterioration of many Dayton neighborhoods has been drastically accelerated by predatory lending, unemployment, the financial crisis and more.

Given that many of these forces are largely uncontrollable, how would you go about protecting our existing, viable housing and building inventory if elected in November? And where does housing and building code compliance fall on your list of priorities for the City?

2) Compared to other Ohio cities, Dayton seems to lag in innovative policies, ordinances and operational solutions to proactively keep housing and commercial buildings up to code and to address many of the root causes of code violations. Here are some examples:

  • Point of sale exterior inspections e.g. Huber Heights
  • An annual fee for all vacant, undeveloped properties, not just bank-owned properties as recently passed by the Commission e.g. Cincinnati and Sandusky
  • The requirement for all absentee landlords to have a legally registered agent in the City who is held accountable on behalf of the property owner to comply with building codes e.g. Oxford
  • Giving police officers and other appropriate city employees authority to issue building and zoning code violation notices
  • A revolving fund, zero interest loans or other financial solutions to assist low income property owners bring their properties up to code

If elected in November, would you be willing to take a leadership position to implement any of these best practices or any other creative solutions proven to work in cities similar to Dayton? Why or why not?

3) As budgets and staff decrease, how would you go about getting your fellow commissioners and the city staff to fund the necessary budget, technology and staff to implement your vision for improving building code compliance?

Closing remarks: 2 – 3 minute summary of your priorities for improving proactive and efficient code compliance.

Format: Each candidate will be asked to speak on 2 – 3 questions for 3 minutes each. The questions will focus on legislative, policy and operational solutions for addressing deteriorating properties and ensuring the ongoing viability of stable properties in our city.

Audience members will write their questions on 3 X 5 cards and panel moderators will read the questions for your responses.
At approximately 8:40, each candidate will be given 2 – 3 minutes to summarize your top priorities for improving and protecting Dayton’s housing and commercial buildings.

Although these questions are tightly focused on the area of building codes and legal remedies, there are real questions and suggested positions to defend. One could almost learn something concrete from this forum.

Also note, if you are putting together a forum- don’t invite too many candidates because it makes it impossible to get enough substance out of the candidates. Do have a strict timekeeper, and make sure if accepting questions from the audience that they must be a question, they must be brief and focused and directed to all candidates- or all are given equal time to speak. Give at least several weeks notice- and try to make sure that there aren’t other events (like a commission meeting at the same time). Provide a PA- and preferably have the candidates speak from a podium- so that a camera only has to be focused one place.

If you’d like to be extra useful- collect names, emails and phone numbers of all in attendance and deliver to the candidates so they can continue the discussion. Also be aware of candidates bringing entourages to ask questions- instead, give the candidates at least one chance to ask each other questions.

Last but not least, don’t be jerks and try to limit public dissemination of your event. Banning cameras and recording devices- esp at events open to the public is embarrassing (Wayman Chapel on Sunday- this means you). Running for public office is, well, public. Let the first amendment do its job.


Here’s the video

Smoke and mirrors: Trammell goes to prison, while no one questions how it happened

Want to lose friends in high places in Dayton Ohio- ask questions about who is ultimately responsible for misuse of public funds. I ask- I lose friends.

I’m not part of the friends and family program that makes sure our “friends and family” all have jobs.

I asked “Who’s the criminal? SCLC, Montgomery County, Caresource?” back in February 2010. I lost friends.

I asked it again in “Who’s the criminal part 2: IMR or Caresource” in 2013

The question of why anyone would think it would be a smart idea to give federal welfare dollars to a felon who had been convicted of welfare fraud just never gets asked?

Who’s the criminal? SCLC, Montgomery County, Caresource? – See more at: http://esrati.com/whos-the-criminal-sclc-montgomery-county-caresource/4325/#sthash.TEB7lQo7.dpuf

Trammell, pastor of Central Baptist Church in Jefferson Twp., was convicted June 1, 2012, after a jury trial in Montgomery County Common Pleas Court. Evidence showed he claimed to be providing meals to dead people, members of his church who were hospitalized or living in nursing homes and not receiving extra meals, and people who said they didn’t know they were being claimed as recipients. Montgomery County reimbursed $38,000 to Trammell’s SCLC, which administered the program, for 7,000 meals that weren’t delivered between 2005 and early 2010.

It wasn’t Trammell’s first felony conviction. He spent a year in prison starting in 1979 after a jury convicted him of larceny and grand theft for opening fraudulent welfare accounts for his personal gain while he was deputy director of the Montgomery County Welfare Department. He used the name of a relative in one of the false accounts, and used a man who had consulted with him about marital problems to cash welfare checks and redeem food stamps for him.

via Trammell loses appeal, faces prison sentence | www.mydaytondailynews.com.

Where is our prosecutor, where is public inquiry, where is the “I-Team”?

Prosecutor Mat Heck Jr. said Trammell, 76, of Dayton should begin his sentence now.

“Not only did this defendant steal taxpayer money, but he denied meals as promised to elderly and frail citizens,” Heck said in a statement. “It is now time that he start serving the sentence he earned and deserves for stealing from those most in need. His conduct over many years is shameful.”

When is Mat Heck going to investigate the people who repeatedly signed off on the contract to Trammell, and continued to pay invoices without any question? Who was the genius who approved this in the first place?

Accountability is nonexistent in Dayton unless of course you are a convenient scapegoat like Reverend Trammell.

Is David Esrati crazy? He says he is. Video proof

As long as I’ve been running for office, people in hushed voices have said, “That’s Esrati, he’s crazy.” Donning a black hood at a city commission meeting and getting arrested didn’t help dispel that notion. The fact that I don’t quit- running time after time, you know that quote they attribute to Albert Einstein “doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result, that’s the definition of insanity” – and they apply it to me as justification for writing me off as, well, crazy.

So, because 9 out of 10 candidates, in my experience, don’t say anything interesting, or even remotely worth hearing- I decided to confront my reputation head on- and tell the voters, yep- I’m crazy. Watch this and see if you agree (I included the question for the commission candidates- as well as a woman trying to refocus the question after the other 3 tried to redirect the blame).

If you want to know the truth, really, the voters are the crazy ones- they keep voting for the same people who give them the results that they aren’t happy with. Until they realize that in order to spend $260,000 to get 5,000 votes in the primary, like Ms. Whaley has- you have to give something back to your donors. And, most Dayton voters should be smart enough to know that her money isn’t coming from the voters in this community.

I’m within $450 of my $10,000 goal. Please consider donating so I can totally concentrate on giving you the most bang for a campaign dollar the United States has ever seen. So far, I’ve hung over 250 basketball nets, 3 new rims at Princeton Rec Center, cleaned up broken glass and weeds on courts all over the city (including the ones yesterday with some help)

And if you really want to help “Crazy Esrati” get elected- volunteer- call me at 937-985-1312 and I’ll get some literature and a walk list for you to go talk to voters.

After the event, a bunch of people came up and told me they were voting for me. They wish there were more crazy people like me running for office, “’cause if you are crazy, I must be too.”

You can watch the un-crazy politicians, including AJ Wagner who referenced me at least 3 times in his opening speech here:

Just remember, only the crazy candidate makes sure you have every event to watch on YouTube, because he not only believes in open honest government, he actually walks the talk. Actions should speak louder than words.