Explaining irrational behavior in Dayton, Ohio


A word that people bandy about when they bring my name up is “crazy.” That is until they actually know me. Unfortunately, I’m cursed with something that isn’t valued much in Dayton- a very high IQ. It’s one of those things that I don’t care about, but what I do care about is my city, as do most people who read this site. Most of you are gutless wonders performing your role as part of “the machine”- and as of this election, I’m here to tell you- the machine is on its last legs. Here is why,

Note, you can skip this next section entirely, and jump straight to the topic of the day- the great food truck debate, but, since it’s Thanksgiving, I thought I’d give thanks to the crooks who got us to where we are today.

The first hints of trouble started back in the mid-1980s

Despite the pride that we have in our “city manager” system which was supposed to keep politics out of running our city, it’s never really been anything but a front for business to control the local markets. The Dayton Business Committee — and before them, the All Dayton Committee, met in back rooms and schemed out their plans for where and what was supposed to be done in Dayton. One powerful family in the mix were the Danises who liked to build things- from buildings to landfills and water treatment plants. Another were the Beermans- who besides owning a department store downtown, also owned a lot of real estate. What was good for the scions of Dayton – was good for Dayton. Unfortunately, none of them had a clue about city planning- or sprawl, other than “building is good” for the economy- so build we did and sprawl some more.  Dayton did well with Fortune 500 HQ’s for a city our size- with Mead, Reynolds, & Reynolds,  Standard Register, and NCR in the mix. The workers had jobs that paid well, thanks especially to Generous Motors- where Dayton was the lone bastion of the IUE in the auto biz- and caused Detroit no end of headaches with the odd-guy-out issues.

The political parties played along- as long as they could keep their patronage jobs working, and they never elected anyone who would stand up to the boys in the back room who really were calling the shots. And make no mistake- the people who were calling the shots weren’t afraid to show their muscle- when I first ran for mayor- the windows at my office were shot out twice to send a message, but that’s already after the major shift that was the first hint of where we are today.

One Dayton Center- or the Arcade Tower- photo

An early big bad idea by government

The city was celebrating the reopening of the Arcade- things were good, but we needed to keep the Danis family happy. A study came out saying there was a shortage of Class A office space downtown, and if we didn’t build it- businesses would flee. The Dayco tower by the Dayton Mall was a very scary symbol to those downtown. Danis started with a plan to build the CitFed tower at 2nd and Main and got caught up with preservation problems. In the meantime, the city, still flush with cash from payroll income taxes on all those NCR jobs, thought that they had done so well with the redevelopment of the arcade- that they should build a tower too. Remember, this is because a “study” said we needed it. They entered into an agreement with Webb Henne developers to build a tower at Third and Main – in competition with the Danis tower. A squabble broke out and people were taking sides and fighting for one tower or the other. A lot of money was used to grease wheels- and despite the city contract with Webb Henne stating they must have at least 35% pre-leased to move ahead- they built it with only 20% leased. The Danis tower, although it was first to be announced, opened later, and a fight for rearranging deck chairs broke out. Danis paid the Police Chief, Tyree Broomfield $100,000 to go away, he got the contract to build the landfill on the West Side (which was the reason party favorite Clay Dixon lost to Republican wonderboy Mike Turner). At some point, the city decided to shut down the city steam system- probably as payoff by DP&L which often hired political types into very nice “government affair jobs.” Without city steam- the arcade could no longer be heated, older buildings had to retrofit (a very expensive process) and Danis got the arcade, closed it down- in an attempt to force the eventual foreclosure on the Arcade tower and on and on the spinning wheel goes.

The idea that the city should and could be a player in the public sector as an investor, financier, owner was officially hatched. Never mind that every project was practically stillborn- or required tradeoffs, subsidies, etc. The investment in the Landing and the downtown YMCA drove Joe Moore to close his downtown gym- swearing never to return. Other real estate investors sat and watched as tax breaks drove their rents down- until almost every major building downtown has been sold under duress/foreclosure (the only one not suffering this fate as far as I know is the Talbott tower). Like pizza chains offering cheap pizza, the race to the bottom was on- and there are no winners. Downtown was eating up more time, resources and tax dollars- and the focus on quality of life for the residents was put on the back burner. It didn’t help that NAFTA was signed in the early 1990s and that giant sucking sound started to slowly siphon off the good jobs and the income tax receipts that came with them.

Dayton has a whole layer of quasi-government that has been built over the years to help keep the paper trail confusing to the general observer. Citywide Development Corporation and the Downtown Dayton Partnership and more recently, the Dayton Development Coalition have taken the driver’s seats over from the former Dayton Business Committee- or at least, they think they have. And while the DBC still exists, now they include the publisher of the Dayton Daily News in their group- because, well, they have to control the story and keep the voters in the dark and clueless.

Really insidious things have been allowed to happen, without so much as a peep from the masses. The giant sucking sound out of Downtown to Austin Landing has been supported with more tax dollars than is in Dayton’s annual budget. As to collecting income taxes- now, despite the law that says “townships” can’t levy income taxes- they’ve somehow engineered the taxation of blue-collar workers there- while the white-collar workers- who all used to work in Dayton (Teradata, Thompson Hine, etc.) don’t pay income taxes. The same is happening to blue-collar workers at Miller Lane in Butler Township.

We’ve been sidetracked with dreams of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles as our savior (drones) and before that, composites and for a minute fuel cells and before that distribution hub, which is now being dusted off again as a rally cry of the people who get paid to pronounce instead of actually do. The siphoning of money from the poor to the rich isn’t just a Wall Street thing- it’s done daily here in Dayton – which is how we come to food trucks. The lowest rung of the ladder.

The Great Thanksgiving Day Food Truck Massacre

It started on Tuesday, when Tonia Fish told me that her temporary lease on the old Chin’s/Elbo’s/Sa-Bai space at 200 S. Jefferson St. may not be renewed. A meeting of some sort had been held in City Hall and the decision was coming. Mayor Leitzell had told me that in the executive session last week, where this matter was being discussed, Nan Whaley wasn’t prepared to vote on it and it was tabled. Had they had another illegal meeting of the commission to discuss this lease? There wasn’t an announced session- and since Executive sessions have to be done either as an emergency and announced- or gone into from a regularly scheduled meeting- what had happened?

Full disclosure- Tonia and her husband Joe Fish have been my friends for a long time. They own the Chef Case in the 2nd Street market – and I’ve done a few projects for them. I’ve been left out of all of the Synergy Incubators marketing- because I’m too controversial.

Mrs. Fish is a force to be reckoned with. Having worked with high-powered people in big cities, she’s meticulous in her planning and in the execution of her plans. Her business plan was to turn the space in the Transportation Center Garage into a communal kitchen/teaching/banquet place for independent food operators. This actually dovetails with businesses like Thai 9 that routinely have to turn down large events that they can’t cater or book because it would disrupt their regular business- as opposed to the last tenant the city put in this space, Sa-Bai, that was direct, subsidized competition for Thai 9.

She’d already begun offering business education at the former Dayton Public Schools Central Kitchen which was in mothballs until she opened Dayton’s first mobile food business commissary. The kitchen is currently licensed as a prep kitchen which food trucks and carts use as home base. But, it’s a manufacturing plant- not a restaurant training ground. The city claims to be in favor of this part of her plan- and supports it. The sticking point that killed this local food incubator wasn’t the low rent- but the plan to help support this facility by having one day a month food truck rallies on this location. Hard to believe that drawing a few thousand people downtown once a month is a threat to any restaurant business- and no business owner would come out and say this, but, because this is Dayton. Ohio- where irrational behavior gets rewarded, the one-year lease/experiment got axed officially yesterday.

Food trucks don’t kill business- idiots kill businesses

Two people railed behind the scenes to put the kibosh on the food truck rallies. One was Realtor and Oregon District Business Association head Mike Martin. While the city has no other potential tenants for either the space in question or the former Greyhound station- the idea of a tenant that pays rent and keeps the place operating apparently isn’t good enough for Mike. He has trotted out a “club promoter” who has said they aren’t interested in the space as a potential tenant just to sew a fine thread of hope in the commission’s micro-sized minds. He says, even though no vote has been taken, that the ODBA is against food truck rallies- even though Mrs. Fish had letters of support from Lily’s, Blind Bob’s, Thai 9 and the 5th Street Deli in hand. Of course, the ODBA isn’t all restaurants and bars- businesses like Sew Dayton,  and the Urban Krag support the food trucks- as do Gilly’s and the Neon Movies, and would love to see the district not closed off to customers for the annual drunk fest at Halloween which negatively impact their businesses.

The other is the Downtown Dayton Partnership head, Sandy Gudorf, who went around claiming that she was doing an official survey sponsored by the city on whether the businesses support food truck rallies. With the recent inclusion of the Oregon District in the area managed by the DDP (the “ambassadors” program- privately contracted sanitation workers doing work the city or property owners should do) the claim that the food trucks don’t pay for her services is her main complaint. 200 S, Jefferson has always been in the SID that funds the DDP- and is current on payments. Never mind the fact that without the failings of the city to do the right things (see the first part of this post) her organization wouldn’t have a reason to exist. Her un-scientific, un-professional poll was used as the basis for the rejecting the lease according to sources in city hall.

Irrational reasoning

David Esrati's facebook ad comparing money spent on business parks vs. spent on real parks

A Facebook campaign ad for Esrati about Tech Town investment

No one asked other real estate owners downtown if they wanted to compete with tax financed and subsidized projects like the arcade tower or tech town. Over $40 million has been spent on incubators for startup businesses at Tech Town- many of whom have never even paid rent. An entire empty building has been standing for over two years- and only after it became a campaign issue have they found a tenant by giving another sweetheart deal to Children’s Medical Center (rearranging deck chairs instead of creating new ships).

No one questions a new restaurant opening at the Dayton Mall, the Greene or the Fairfield Commons mall area- yet, the idea of a pop-up food truck pod one day a month is somehow dangerous to the fragile economic ecosystem downtown?

The city commission didn’t make a ruling on this in a legal meeting. Therefore, this decision has been made by city staff with their tacit approval. When are we going to hold anyone accountable for the complete clusterduck that happened with Sa-Bai? From the ridiculous lease, to the late opening, to the missed rent, to the destruction of city owned fixtures and theft, to the leaving of food to rot for months in the space (which was all cleaned up by Mrs. Fish’s people). It’s become pretty obvious that city involvement in the private real estate market has more of a destabilizing effect than a positive one. Maybe if our government tried sticking to governing we’d be in better shape?

Signs of disaster since the election

The dust up over Garden Station should have been a wake-up call to the people of Dayton of what could be expected by the Party of Nan, where organic (in every sense of the way) projects would be getting shut down. And just before the election the implosion of the Schwind building, before a clear deed and signed contract were in hand should have been the second.

But in the weeks since the election with the lowest turnout in history coupled with the biggest campaign budget- we’ve seen the rear of the Dayton Daily News building demolished by accident, the emergency pay raise and now the food truck massacre. The Water Street project is also standing in line for a handout from taxpayers- along with another tax abatement to screw our schools. What’s almost funny is that the only rumored tenant so far is PNC Bank which would move from another landmark building- the I.M. Pei-designed building at Third and Main- more deck chair rearranging, which will most likely screw the other David Greer (the banjo playing lawyer) who’s offices are in that building-  which will have a hard time affording their tax bills and utilities without that space being full. Greer was a big supporter of Whaley not only donating money- but playing at her fundraiser at Jimmie’s Ladder 11.

What to do to save the food trucks and Dayton?

If this is to be the final straw that breaks the camel’s back- it’s time to do a real survey of businesses in the area to see if they do or don’t support the one-day-a-month rallies- and then if the majority really does oppose the trucks and the people they bring to the failed corner- maybe we should organize a boycott of their establishments? Free market capitalism deserves support- and those who don’t agree- shouldn’t get your money. Note, if the space in question was owned by a private company, there would be NOTHING the city could do to stop the rallies.

The harder part, is to change the city charter. First step would be to gather 12,000+ signatures of registered voters to put the change in the charter to match Ohio Revised Code on numbers of signatures required for changing the charter and recall to be based on actual voters and not voters on the books. This means more people than voted for the future Mayor would have to sign. I used to think that it should be based on the number of votes in the gubernatorial elections- but, after Ms. Whaley’s pathetic performance and the low turnout- I think it should be based on the number of voters who voted to put people in office. So instead of needing 25% of the 35,000 or so people who voted in Dayton to sign a petition to recall the mayor- it would be 25% of the number of votes in that election – or in this case- 25% of about 16,000 or 4,000- an approachable number in Dayton.

And lastly, since the city is turning down a lease, maybe the income to the taxpayers, as well as the utilities, taxes, insurance etc. that would have been taken care of by a private organization, should be taken out of the commission’s newly increased salaries?

It was just last week that the Dayton Daily News told us that Downtown Dayton was leading the nation in vacancy and that it was at death’s door. Here is an opportunity to bring some vitality and hope back. The food truck rallies are an easy way to bring something to a downtown starving for vibrancy.

Your thoughts are welcome in comments below. The real question is whether we can get two hundred volunteers to collect signatures to change our charter and give us the ability to end this kind of irrational behavior?

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49 Responses

  1. larry sizer November 28, 2013 / 8:01 pm
    I just love your “Watch Dawg Journalism,”  reading your comments opens doors in my mind, that stimulates the gray matter, and I want to thank you for the positive nudge you bring to my life;
    from living in a town over run with lambs, that is watched over and guided by wolfs.
  2. Dave C. November 28, 2013 / 8:45 pm
    Great post! You have given a clear and concise history of Dayton’s downward path, and the reasons behind that descent.  The lack of transparency, the few controlling the many, the back-door deals and closed door meetings….these cripple communities. Most bright young people leave Dayton because they don’t want to play a rigged game in a shrinking marketplace.
    I think the food trucks trigger a fundamental fear in the local power- vultures : They can simply go somewhere else if they don’t like the local business climate. The only thing that matters to a food truck owner is the question ” Is this working, right here and right now. No? See ya!” Like many 21st century businesses, they are capable of responding to change very quickly. I think this rattles the locals that continue to think in a 20th century ( or even 19th century) way about money and power.
  3. Auston Hensley November 29, 2013 / 3:09 am
    Well, this doesn’t surprise me at all – according to the DDN those food trucks will be looking for a place in the suburbs, where they are presumably more hospitable to a business coming in and oh, I d0n’t know, create jobs and provide a service – what a shocker.
    As to the future of Dayton, I wonder what it will take to finally shakeup the city’s government structure. I don’t think the state appointment of an emergency manager a la Kevyn Orr in Detroit will do the job (as I don’t think he even has the power to do anything beyond financial solutions). So, I don’t know?
  4. Michael H. Tenore November 29, 2013 / 10:51 am
    Well done David. You are absolutely right that if you don’t kiss the right Donkey in this town, you don’t get anything. City Hall has been lost in the sixties for decades. They still believe GM we be back to bail them out.
  5. Ralph November 29, 2013 / 11:32 am
    Brilliant summation of the downward spiral from the 80’s.  I’m sure you remember that many of us referred to Dayton as “Danis Ohio” for years but it’s has been a pleasure to see Beerman’s mother business waste away to dust while they were busy playing the real estate game.
    There is no single, greater, need for this ghost town than a complete re-write of the miserable city charter!  Part-time mayors and commissioners with zero accountability of the sixth floor and siphoning huge sums off to Steve Budd’s City Wide for white elephant, lame brain projects are destroying the very little investment in Dayton that’s left.  
    Politically, “the Whale” would concur, that we need a strong Mayoral Form of Government and, as much as I detest her record and back room politics, her ego would be a strong ally in getting it done by then she will gone to other political ventures anyway).   A real document must first be created that people can get behind which is not a big issue, IMO – simply adopt and revise the charter from Columbus (for example).  
    Getting the REAL ISSUE in peoples faces so they can understand why this city continues to atrophy is the challenge.  It’s a challenge greater than running for a position on a commission that should be abolished in the first place in favor of a city council where members must come various districts they represent.  
    David, I’m sure many folks (including myself) would love nothing better than to work with you on lead about this issue!   Accomplishing that would be something to be truly Thankful for.
  6. Dave C. November 29, 2013 / 12:37 pm
    BTW, Harvest Mobile Cuisine will be at the Yellow Springs Brewery tomorrow night. Sounds like a winning combination!
    If Downtown Dayton doesn’t want ’em, there are plenty of places that do. My wallet and I will be in YS tomorrow night.
  7. cathymong November 29, 2013 / 3:00 pm
    I too wondered when this deal was done. When did the Commission discuss not renewing the lease? The trucks are a sign of vitality and innovation, a mantle this city once proudly wore. The fact that there was no notice or open meeting at which to discuss it would seem to be in violation of  state laws. I, for one, am appalled and angered. 
    “Government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the Earth.” – Abraham Lincoln
  8. Nka November 29, 2013 / 4:03 pm
    I really like the food trucks however if I owned a bricks and mortar restaurant with rent, staff and taxes that I was on the hook for each month I think I would have an issue with the very low-cost trucks siphoning off my business. 
  9. Dad November 29, 2013 / 4:17 pm
    The trucks would not be in front of your brick-and-mortar business.
    When I drove a cab in Boston, one truck used to park next to the cab rank at the Hotel Statler and, believe me, it did not compete with the hotel’s fancy restaurants and lounges. I ate off the truck every night for less than $5. I would just get a glass of water for that in the hotel.
  10. David Esrati November 29, 2013 / 5:44 pm

    @NKA- this was for food truck rallies- one night per month- at the former Sa-Bai space- this is a festival event- no different than what they do when CitiFolk held a festival- or the events on Dave Hall Plaza- with vendors.
    And- the Incubator space pays taxes- and even the DDP.

  11. Joe Winters November 30, 2013 / 9:19 am
    I loved the idea of the food truck rally, but the space chosen was particularly unsuitable for the event. Multiple generators combined with a concrete parking garage to create an unbearably noisy environment that we couldn’t wait to vacate. I didn’t have my SPL meter, but I’m sure that in this location, OSHA standards would have required hearing protection.

    The politics of the situation are troubling, but I had already resolved to never go back to another rally at that location.

  12. David Esrati November 30, 2013 / 9:33 am

    The only reason there were generators running, was because the city of dayton wouldn’t allow the food trucks to tap into the power that’s available at the space. The generators would never be there again if the lease was fully in Ms. Fish’s hands

  13. Some Guy November 30, 2013 / 12:43 pm
    I great piece of analysis, nearly ruined by David’s insatiable desire to tell us how smart he is. If that didn’t matter, he wouldn’t feel the need to write it.

    In actuality, it shows David’s greatest weakness, his arrogance. He’s a smart guy, but no smarter than lots of people. That he feels the need to tell us he’s so smart, shows us that he’s really not very smart, as a truly smart person wouldn’t let narcissism get in the way time after time.

  14. David Esrati November 30, 2013 / 12:54 pm

    @Some Guy- I’ve written over 2,200 posts and never said that before. And, Dayton’s greatest weakness is that 9,000 people just elected Nan Whaley mayor. It takes 12,000 signatures to change the charter and about 35,000 to recall her- probably more signatures than there are voters.
    Glad I only nearly ruined it for you. Frankly- no one has to read my site, yet everyday over 1000 do.


  15. Dave C. November 30, 2013 / 1:39 pm
    @Some Guy :  If you can’t be nice, go away. Quietly.
  16. larry sizer November 30, 2013 / 2:31 pm
    @ Dave C… Ditto!
  17. Thomas November 30, 2013 / 8:29 pm
    Why should we do ANYTHING for Dayton anymore? I currently produce 3 regular events downtown. Am considering canceling them all. Of course – I realize the City of Dayton doesn’t care WHAT I do.
  18. Dave C. December 1, 2013 / 12:48 pm
    @Thomas: to paraphrase Lily Tomlin – “We don’t care, we don’t have to…we’re City of Dayton”
  19. J Dziwulski December 2, 2013 / 12:47 pm
    Thanks for the backgrounder about this food truck thing.   Read about while out-of-town.  Just got back from an extended stay in Louisville, which has a big food truck scene, and also has food truck rallies  In fact the first one I attended was in Louisville, near their NuLu area (which ALSO has a number of restaurants…no complaints from them!).  There are two food truck groups, which schedule things online:
    The way it works in the ‘Ville is that food trucks are sometimes  sort of start-ups…sometimes they attempt to go to a permanent restaurant situation…sometimes this works/sometimes it doesn’t.  
    The point is that this isn’t a zero-sum thing.  Food trucks help to build a big foody scene, where people get accustomed to going out and eating out, which helps build a market for restaurants, which then move into empty old storefronts (which as we all know there are PLENY of in Dayton).    Food trucks are part of dining-out culture, part of a local sourcing/non-chain culture.
    This whole issue is just another example of how Dayton and Daytonians utterly, completely, do NOT , repeat NOT get it, when it comes to developing and fostering an urban scene.
    BTW, a Louisville consultant/developer is looking into redeveloping that old whitewashed factory building near Garden Station.   They have a good track record doing adaptive re-use/historic preservation in Louisville (google Snead Building and The Henry Clay).   Y’all are very lucky they are on-board and are actually thinking of saving that old building, which so many —here in Dayton—want to tear down.  Unbelievable. 
    Just as unbelievable as trying to kill a fledgling food truck scene….which other cities try to encourage.
    Thanks Dave.  Good job here.
  20. Jeff G December 2, 2013 / 1:57 pm
    The mis-reporting continues.  First the DDN and now Esrati.com.  I actuazlly expect better from Esrati.com.  I’m used to the DDN not investigating anything.
    The food trucks have NOT been kicked out of downtown.  They simply cannot hold rallies at the transportation center location.  There are designated areas within downtown where food trucks can continue to gather for rallies.  They can also gather on private property.  From what I have heard, they will be back at Miami Jacobs in the spring as they were for the 107.7 event last spring.
    Notice, there were no food truck owners interviewed for the DDN or Esrati.com reports.  The DDN article was a reprint of a Synergy press release with a couple extra quotes sprinkled in.  It was not a food truck owner or the head of the food truck association that said they would move to the suburbs.  That was a speculative statement from the Synergy representatives.
    There is a lot going on within Synergy and between Synergy and the Food truck operators that has not been reported.  All is not all “sea shells and balloons” between those organizations.  It’s also convenient to ignore the fact that Synergy was paying below market value for rent.  What is not noted is who is paying the utilities for the space in question.  SID fees for the Downtown Dayton Partnership are paid by the property owners, not renters.  Getting subsidized rent, Synergy was not paying fees that pay for Ambassadors, landscaping, and the various other benefits that come from the SID.
    As for impacting existing businesses, feel free to talk to the owner of Smokin’ BBQ.  Is one night a month putting him out of business?  I hope not, but he does see a significant drop in his business when the food trucks have a rally and does not see an equivalent “bump” as a result of exposure created by people coming to the food trucks.  In reality, people generally either come in from the ‘burbs to eat at the food trucks and then go home or they eat at the food trucks instead of eating at an existing brick and mortar establishment.  The idea that people will eat at the trucks and then go for a beverage in the Oregon District has proven to be a myth. 
    Food trucks have become a  highly charged topic because they are trendy.  It was clever for Synergy to bring them into the discussion as a way to build support for their cause.  However, it is simply dishonest reporting to say that the cancellation of the Synergy Incubator lease means food trucks are being kicked out of downtown.
  21. David Esrati December 2, 2013 / 5:06 pm

    @Jeff G- I had to change your name because we have other Jeffs. I’m surprised you didn’t use your full name- the last time you commented you did.
    The idea of Synergy was as an incubator- power, bathrooms, prep kitchen, liquor license all in one.
    As to sub-market rent- excuse me- where were you when Sa-Bai had a sweetheart deal to take a direct run at Thai-9, and- if you want to talk about rent subsidies- look at Tech Town.
    Utilities should be paid by the tenant- but you have idiots writing the lease for the city- blame them. The SID fees are paid by the taxpayers- as the property owner, to do work that should actually be done by the city in the first place.
    So, you are saying attracting something like 12,000 people to the Synergy site is a bad thing? Maybe Cityfolk shouldn’t have festivals, and Dave Hall Plaza shouldn’t have concerts either? By your standard.
    The real question is when will a legal meeting of the City Commission make a decision on the lease?
    There are lots of people lying to the public here. I’m the one who signs my name to what I write. That should count for something.

  22. OHKID December 2, 2013 / 5:21 pm
    Agreed with Jeff in a lot of ways.
    Food trucks will still be on the square at lunch, I hope. They do good business there, and it’s an excellent place to grab a bite to eat. Also true that the city has set up many food truck zones that can be accessed with a proper permit.
    Although there is a need to question any journalism, I do not think this particular article really approached the situation in the right manner. Mr Esrati, I greatly appreciate the fact that you are committed to the city of Dayton and that you work every day to try and make a change. If the city could have 100 more of you, it would be a far better place. But I think it is important to look at the progress being made as well. For instance, you did an excellent piece earlier on the South Park rental market – a lot of positive, contagious energy in that piece. It made me want to go out and rent an apartment in South Park myself! (and hopefully that will happen in a year or two…). 
    I do agree with you in your general assessment that Ms. Whaley is going to need to be watched very carefully and questioned frequently. But I don’t think that she alone (or any “regime” she may be a part of) could really “bring the city back to the GM days”. For one, I don’t think Caresource, Stratacache, Premier Health, or many of the current “titans” would stand for it. They want a vibrant city just like the rest of us, and like what is currently happening in South Park – otherwise they would not be investing in Dayton city limits like they are currently.
    In the future, I hope you will be careful with what you write, because as you noted, you have quite a bit of influence in the city with over 1000 readers a day. Posts like this discourage development, discourage growth and reinvestment by stakeholders in Dayton, and discourage people like me from trying to get a start in this city (Disclosure – I’m going to be a grad student in a few months, and previously I received job offers from other cities. I turned them down because I want to be in Dayton and work to build this city into a great place. Your post would have me very scared if I did not have the background I possess.) .
    Again, I know it is important to report all sides of an issue. But there is never black and white. What happened with the food trucks downtown is probably not good, I agree. But I also think it is important to note in the same piece that food trucks do have zones where they can (and do) operate. If you would like to take action, I would be happy to fill out a quick survey linked to your article which could be forwarded on to City Hall or sign a petition stating I as a customer agree food trucks should come back to the Sai Bai location. That might elicit a better response from those we do not agree with than a controversial blog post.
  23. David Esrati December 2, 2013 / 7:57 pm

    From the petition:

    Jenny Cox DAYTON, OH  My business, Go Cupcake, is grateful for all Synergy has done to promote Food Trucks in Dayton. A very shortsighted ruling by the City of Dayton.

    Mariano rios YELLOW SPRINGS, OH   My business is currently renting space from Synergy Incubator, La Pampa grill need a commissary kitchen in order to applies for food vendor license.. without Synergy not license.

    aaron hanover TROY, OH  I’m a food truck owner. I’m working really hard to innovate and build up an industry that with economic down turn needs something better than fast food. Synergy is a group that has an innovative idea. As a City in America and it’s citizens our goal should be to help and cultivate innovation. We have a choice to cultivate or let one sect of an industry dominate another by politics and not quality or production. Businesses like Synergy don’t just exist they snow ball into building multiple businesses effecting the quality of our community. A restaurant no matter how old or great will never cultivate growth in neighborhoods or bring a new business or idea to our Cities. They are mainly in business for the there profits which is in all honesty an American tradition, but is not why we should laws to help them beat the competition. Synergy in a small business incubator someone that is helping build multiple businesses and providing services to the community to better and revitalize a building that a restaurant couldn’t drum up enough business to stay in business and now Synergy has come in cleaned up the place and started to grow there and build community spirit and a group of people stating Food Truck Politics thinks it’s easier to go back to business as usual.

    And to further explain why what Synergy was doing- this isn’t just pull up the food trucks and have a rally spot-

    The two places the city designated for food trucks to park in the public right of way are not used because they are not viable food pods. They lack any of the necessary amenities to make a food pod successful. There is no where to park, no where to sit, no where to use the restroom.

    As to these rallies hurting Smokin BarBQ- simple solution- he sends over a few friendly people to hand out coupons at the rallies that are good for the whole month- or that night- since often times food trucks seem to run out of food (’cause no one wants them there of course- ignoring market demand)- and his business actually increases.

  24. Nka December 2, 2013 / 8:55 pm
    David. Have you talked to the owner of Smokin’ BarBQ?  
  25. OHKID December 3, 2013 / 6:16 am
    I signed it, thanks for the link!
  26. David Esrati December 3, 2013 / 7:00 am

    At NKA- the owner of Smokin’ lives a block away on my street. We talked just before the election. I’ve not talked to him since the food truck issue. I’ll make an effort.

  27. Nka December 3, 2013 / 9:39 am
    David. The owner lives in Oakwood and is a very successful business owner.   He restored the building that Smokin’ is currently in–didn’t tear it down– and invested in the area before it was fashionable.  It was an important move as that location is at the gateway of the OD.
      I don’t know how he would feel about your suggestion that once the food trucks run out of food that his paid employees stand around with coupons to entice customers.  Kind of a cavalier attitude toward someone who put his money where his mouth is and didn’t take anything from anyone. Having lunch with him today and I’ll ask him. 
  28. David Esrati December 3, 2013 / 9:44 am

    NKA- then I have no idea who Jim is- and why he has a truck that says “Smokin BarBQ” on it…
    And- does he complain about Groupon and Living Social deals too?
    He should be passing out coupons and menus BEFORE the food trucks run out of food- realizing that nothing else brings that many people that close to his place seeking good eats.
    And-I’d be happy to talk to him.

  29. Gene December 3, 2013 / 9:45 am
    “The two places the city designated for food trucks to park in the public right of way are not used because they are not viable food pods. They lack any of the necessary amenities to make a food pod successful. There is no where to park, no where to sit, no where to use the restroom.”
    These things are provided by the owners of restaurants that are the B&M type. Provide your own parking lot, seats and toilets.
  30. nka December 3, 2013 / 10:20 am
    Jim works for the owner and performs all of the day-to-day operations.  Just because he drives a truck that has the logo of the business on it doesn’t mean he owns it.  I’m purchasing a vehicle for my company so that I can have a mobile tech for service issues–that individual won’t own my company.  The owner of Smokin’ has been incredibly successful in all of his business investments and at the end of the day doesn’t need Smokin’ to pay his bills. BBQ has been a passion for him.   If he gets fed up and closes the restaurant it will hurt his employees, tax revenues, regular customers and we would have another vacant space.
    Again, I like the food trucks but there needs to be a thoughtful business plan as to how they operate in the city.  Pitting food truck operators against brick and mortar restaurants doesn’t serve anyone.
  31. David Esrati December 3, 2013 / 11:15 am

    @NKA- ok- so I don’t know the owner. The reality is- a lot of the people who come for the food truck rallies aren’t people who come downtown ever. This line of reasoning that the rallies once a month will hurt Smokin are lame. If his business is that weak- he should close.
    Frankly- where was the outcry to protect Thai-9 when they were offered the sweet lease despite being 2 blocks from Thai9?
    This anti-anything new has to stop.

  32. Melissa December 3, 2013 / 11:25 am
    I’m still confused as to why the noontime food trucks on Courthouse Square were not swept out along with the once-a-month’ers. Talking to at least one downtown restaurant owner (not a representative sample, granted), it was his frustration with THOSE vendors, who are there every day, that’s taking $$ away from him.
  33. nka December 3, 2013 / 12:13 pm
    David:  It seems pretty clear that you intend to use this issue as another venue to attack the city.  Why do you choose to take the approach of attacking rather than trying to work with people?  Do you think that if you took a more collaborative approach years ago that you would have more influence and authority to get your agenda implemented? 
    Light a candle rather than curse the darkness.
  34. David Esrati December 3, 2013 / 12:33 pm

    NKA- hanging 300 basketball nets and clearing all the courts of debris wasn’t lighting a candle?
    You gave over $1200 to the Whaley campaign. What’d you get for that? A demolition of a landmark, a pay raise as an emergency- and shutting down an innovative new business model.
    “Attacking the city”- really? Did I storm city hall? Because I question the waste of money on quasi-government, where tax dollars are spent like a private slush fund?


  35. Dave C. December 3, 2013 / 12:55 pm
    Nobody needs to “attack” City of Dayton. They’re doing a pretty good job at self-destruction. Population is at the lowest since the 1920s, abandoned buildings, massive office space vacancies, a huge racial divide, one of the worst school systems in the state…I could go on and on. 
    First things first, though. Gotta get rid of those [email protected] food trucks!
    How about this: let the food trucks park on the sidewalk next to the Arcade. Any patron willing to brave the falling glass from the windows of the Arcade gets a free beverage!
  36. Diane December 3, 2013 / 8:15 pm
    Dave C., you’re hilarious. :-)
  37. Dave C. December 3, 2013 / 11:31 pm
    Thanks! I’ll be here all week, folks. Don’t forget to tip the waitstaff, and drive carefully!
  38. David Esrati December 5, 2013 / 5:49 pm

    So- my opening line about my IQ (which was really commentary about the general level of ideological discussion on the campaign trail) has made Reddit- “An anyone explain why David Esrati is such an ass”

    I don’t do reddit- I don’t know who any of the people are. Thank you 2wires
    I’m sure many of you will enjoy reading and lambasting me.
    I knew when I wrote that I was asking for a reaction (uh- why do you think I write most of this stuff people)

  39. Gene December 6, 2013 / 10:02 am
    “High IQ” – I love it! Yet you keep on running for office and losing. You expect a different result each time therefore that kind of makes you insane. 
    You want a reaction? Well i think you are funny tbh and Dayton is a joke and if food trucks are the topic instead of real important stuff then I can only laugh at the city and losers who run food trucks and people who “have to” eat there. Get a grip and go to an actual restaurant, or better yet for those who don’t have a lot of money – EAT AT HOME. 
  40. nka December 6, 2013 / 10:41 am
    I read some of the comments on Reddit and I don’t agree with name calling–it’s hurtful and disrespectful.  So David, in light of the mean spirited attacks on that site from many people don’t you think it’s time to lay off Nan and other folks who are trying to help our city?
  41. Dave C. December 6, 2013 / 11:10 am
    @Gene :  It is so refreshing to hear from a man of arts and letters, a scholar willing to momentarily stoop to the level of the serfs and groundlings that contribute to this blog.
    I know that I will always remember this as the day the Gene showed me the error of my ways. Thank you, Gene, for placing my feet on the path to enlightenment. 
  42. Gene December 6, 2013 / 12:21 pm
    You are welcome Dave. 
    I don’t hate food trucks. This is such a minor issue. This town is full of high IQ people with great ideas that don’t have any money. Kind of makes you think….
    I ran into my friend Ron, former dishwasher turned millionaire who left Dayton in the late 90s … We always laugh at all those big idea people, self important daytonians of that time, most are gone and most failed. Why?  None of them ever wanted to get their hands dirty. Dayton does not lack ideas, it lacks money and work ethic. Food trucks? What is next, the major issue of giving IDs to pan handlers. You want real change with real results? Get people with real money involved. 
  43. Dave C. December 7, 2013 / 7:55 pm
    @Gene : Sounds like the “Santa Claus” business plan. Good luck with that.
  44. Gene December 8, 2013 / 10:17 am
    You are making the assumption that people with money want nothing to do with Dayton, and you would be right. Food truck ideas make people with money scratch their head. It’s such a minor thing. Dayton will never bounce back. It is a waste of time trying to solve their problems. We have self proclaimed high IQ folk on this site who get foreclosed on, so you do the math. Food trucks and guitar lessons and bracelet sculptures and tattoo artists and gluten free bagel makers and multiply degree/out of work divorcees don’t make a city/downtown better. People with money do.  Keep on treading water. Grown ups have moved on to bigger and better things. Dealing with the criminal class and the hand out mentality gets old for those who are trying to actually build and invest. Dayton needs help but people with money have given up. Sure you can mention a few people with money who care but it’s not that many. And few will actually invest in Dayton. Stop trying to make Dayton something it is not.
  45. Dave C. December 8, 2013 / 10:36 am
    Grammar, punctuation, spelling and syntax.
  46. Dave C. December 8, 2013 / 10:52 am
    BTW, with that last post from Gene-ius, this comment string has officially hit bottom. I’m out!
  47. Gene December 8, 2013 / 1:36 pm
    Sorry I can’t live up to Dave C.’s standards. It is hard to type with one hand. I wonder if Dave is offended bc he fits into one of these sub classes that Dayton is known for? Hopefully he is not part of the criminal class I mention above. 
    Artist class perhaps?

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