Why does Dayton reward mediocrity?

Someone questions something in Dayton- shoot the messenger.

Yesterday, the Dayton Daily news posted an obituary on Edyth Lewis. In it, they spelled our former mayor’s name “McClin”- for pointing out the typo- I get called names, and one person suggests that if I’d die right now, it might increase my chances of winning some precincts. For those of you who don’t know, the name is McLin. We’ve got highways named after her father, a gym at WSU etc. There is no excuse other than lack of any kind of editing and proofreading talent at the paper.

Also yesterday, someone tried to claim that my recent posts about two former candidates’ death notices- not getting obits was a form of trolling for reads to this blog- and they did it on the article that was there to prove that obits were being missed.

Today, it’s front page news that Miller Valentine has a “plan” for redeveloping the “Fairgrounds like the Greene.” The paper supplies a pretty site plan picture- only, there is no indication that Miller Valentine is doing anything like the Greene. The main differences? The Greene always has had parking garages, and the development has zero exclusive residential – all of the buildings are mixed use. The Miller Valentine plan is decidedly missing both garages and has separate residential. And while they show a 35,000 square foot grocery store, the question is which company is going to use that size space? That’s approximately the size of the Wayne Avenue Kroger store which was deemed in need of replacement- which sucked over $4 million of the taxpayers’ money to create nothing.

Now, Miller Valentine has its hands out for public funds? Who is going to fill these spaces, or are we, the taxpayers, just supposed to finance their pipedream without signed leases and some sort of performance contracts in place?

Anyone can draw a pretty picture and sell an idea, but execution of it is another matter. One only has to look at Miller Valentine’s project “University Place” at the corner of Brown and Stewart to see its total failure to address parking properly- and that there are still multiple vacancies 5 years later should make it clear, this isn’t Steiner at work (developer of the Greene and Easton in Columbus).

photo by David Esrati of backboard at Princeton Recreation center in Dayton

Rotting wood, bent rim. This is at one of our few staffed recreation centers

While I was at Princeton Recreation Center (also known as Northwest or Dabny) hanging nets on Sunday- it was clear the city’s main effort at fixing up the basketball courts has been in the removal of my stickers from the poles – which give the number to call for net replacement. The kids asked me why I hadn’t fixed the crap rim and backboard- next to the rock. It’s not good enough that I hung three top of the line rims there- and keep the nets up. When I suggested they call Commissioner Williams, one of the kids- a girl who was riding around on a bike, dismissed me “we’re just trying to play basketball here.”

Mediocrity reins supreme in Dayton OH.

200 nets and counting- restoring pride in Dayton: the state of our courts address

We live in a basketball-loving community. We’ve got courts all over. More on the West side than the East side- but, they are there- and we’ve got players.

I’ve been giving kids shirts- for making three threes in a row. Yesterday- I parted with 4. One kid, since I didn’t have his size (he was a small, and the smallest I had was a large) wanted to give me back the shirt for $5- and wanted to shoot another three threes for another $5. Hustler. That was at Residence park, where a few dice and some dollar bills had the big boys off the court for a bit so the youngsters could play.

I need to raise more money so I can get more shirts. Note to self. All sizes- I also needed an XXL for a kid who was probably 12- who shot all of his nothing but net. I also need to take more pictures of these kids- to share the joy they get out of basketball, even if they are playing on courts that could use some serious love and attention. I just had to tell some guys that I can’t fix the rim at the W. Third Rec center- they’d have to go inside and ask someone to do it- we’ll see how long it takes the city. That’s one of the most popular courts in town.

Others that almost always have a game going: Wogaman schools 9ft rims which are back to back in the parking lot, Broadway and Superior, Princeton Rec Center- despite not being able to play a full court game any which way with 6 backboards.

Best courts in town

  • Dunbar High school- which I swept all the pebbles and broken glass off last night
  • The W. Third Rec center court- with its 4 shot-out lights.
  • Riverview- with two courts in the open- and the city took down my nets and put up new ones- after not putting any up for years.
  • The two courts in DeSoto Bass are functional- and usually open.
  • Stuart Patterson has two good rims and a fence – and even bleachers.
  • Rosa Parks school- rear- 2 courts in great shape with fences.

Best kept secret courts in town:

  • There are three courts out at Highview Hills park- and you could actually play 3 games on them- there are some cracks in the courts- but, not too bad. It’s really secluded in the back corner of the park- I don’t want to know what goes on back in the bushes behind them.
  • Parkside homes site has a double court and a single court- not a whole lot of people playing there.
  • Clairridge park on Webster up from the Kroc Center has a pretty good surface and is a nice setting.
  • Western Hills park- the court is surrounded on 3 sides by woods- and is a good place to be left alone. It has some benches for people to sit and watch.
  • Nordale park has water, a shelter and 2 courts that don’t get a lot of play.

Worst courts:

  • Burkham park has the lights on, but the backboards and rims are a disgrace- and mostly at 8 or 9 feet.
  • The court at Burkhardt park only has one backboard.
  • Gettysburg park- with weeds growing through the court, a backboard and rim so rusty that one kid told me “when you score you get rust in your eye”
  • EJ Brown elementary school where the nicest court in town took down the rims.
  • Rosa Parks elementary school- another brand new court- where people want to play- with only 1 rim on two backboards.
  • Salem Heights park- where it’s a dirt patch and a pole. ’nuff said.
  • Princeton rec center- where we have full-time employees- who can’t fix a rim or hang a net.
  • Mary Queen of Peace church- where there are 2 courts- but you can’t play a full court game. I took the weeds out, cut the bushes back- but, these forlorn courts need some love.

Basketball diplomacy

Yard signs cost more than nets. At first, the plan was I was only hanging nets on courts- but, I soon realized, that the kids were playing on roll-outs all over town- and most of them were sad. I thought, other candidates would spend money on yard signs- and stick them in people’s yards- which serve no real purpose other than for self promotion. Why shouldn’t I help the kids out- and the roll-out campaign began. I’ve even laughed when I realize these roll-outs move blocks away – as I’ve gone back and replaced the nets.

Lesson learned- I’ve never had a single person thank me for putting out a yard sign. I’ve had many for fixing and hanging a net.

Here’s some photos.

  • David Esrati hangs basketball nets as part of his election campaign.
    This was the 200th net- off Highland Avenue.
  • David Esrati shares poster with kid from his video "Esrati hangs nets on rims"
    The kids from the video- after seeing the video and getting the poster.
  • The saddest roll out in Dayton- that gets play.
    You have to be really good to play on this court- nothing but net every-time
  • Elect Esrati pole sticker
    They couldn’t read the number on the stencil- so stickers went up on poles this week.
  • 2 roll outs in Greenwich village make a court
    We play street ball in Greenwich village
  • Edgemont basketball roll out
    In front of boarded up homes, in Edgemont the dreams of basketball stardom live on
  • Esrati hangs nets on Rims at Mallory Park in Dayton Ohio
    This is Mallory Park backboard- holy and with an ate up rim.
  • Esrati hangs nets on rims
    We shoot so hard we bust our backboard. I’ve replaced the net here at least 3x
  • The glass is gone. The backboard lives on
    Slamtastic dunks have taken their toll on Stevens backboard. He’s in the video.

I’ve gone to barber shops and small independent businesses all over town and asked them to pitch in. Many have- and you can see them with their posters at www.HoopsDayton.org One of the interns who worked on the video hated the name “Hoops Dayton”- but, didn’t come up with a different name- so there it is.

For anyone wondering- the stencil is painted with washable water-based green paint. The nets are painted with florescent green paint from Rustoleum. The ladder I use is a folding Werner that weighs a ton. My friend at Insignia Signs, Mike Riley is the hero who lent it to me. I don’t know how I’d do this if it wasn’t for zip ties- even though they wear out the net faster than the hooks on the rims. Also- a big thanks to Jim Jabir, coach of the UD Women’s team- for his participation in the video. Others I was counting on opted out.

Two people bought a box of nets outright. One is Scott Hewitt who has come out and helped hang nets and clear weeds. The other, prefers to remain in the shadows (thanks Bill).  Thanks to Tuffy Brooks for having the nets for me too- buy local.

If there is one thing I believe after hanging 200 nets- it is that we can restore our pride in our city- one net at a time. I believe true economic development is the delivery of best in class neighborhoods, parks and quality of life- not by tax breaks or new buildings. I don’t believe in spending a quarter of a million dollars to get elected. This campaign is still capped at $10K and I have $4k left to raise. Donations are still needed. www.electesrati.com/donate-2

It still amazed me that Nan Whaley and AJ Wagner spent $360,000 to get 7,500 votes- or $50 a vote. They would have done better to just pay voters (yes, I know it’s illegal) $20 to vote for them- and they could have had double the votes and still had $60K left over- enough to buy new backboards and rims for every court in the city.

Please, tell your friends, share the video, talk about this campaign. It shouldn’t cost a million dollars to get elected in Dayton- and our kids shouldn’t have to play on broken down courts.

It’s time to restore the pride to Dayton.





“are you going to turn the lights on?”

When I get elected, it will be time to turn the lights back on at night on the basketball courts. The difference being, is that there will be adults there, and recreational leagues playing. We’ll feel safe to go over to the parks and watch our kids play their hearts out.

Unfortunately, tonight, when I stopped by to check on one of the nicest courts in the city- the new one on W. Third at the Roosevelt commons recplex- or whatever they call it, there was a lot of broken glass at the North East end. Someone had shot out, or broken the light- that never gets turned on. These lights haven’t been turned on since they opened the place, sending a message to our residents that you shouldn’t feel safe and welcome if you want to play some ball after it cools down. Really, the lights are just a cruel joke on people who already live on streets that have fewer street lights, get swept less, get patrolled less, but, now, we won’t be able to turn it on thanks to someone being a jerk. As I was hanging the net with the green bottom, at the North side, I asked the kids there if they’d seen who did it.

I even asked if they wanted to help me, I had a broom in the back of the car- they asked if I had a dustpan too- and soon, one of the youngsters was helping me out. He also stood the other trash can up and put some of the trash in it.

If you send the message that you will make sure the courts will be taken care of, it sends a message that there is value in the community that we want to serve, protect and help prosper. It may seem like a small gesture- putting up nets, but it’s one small gesture our current leadership failed to make.

I only hung two nets tonight, but I checked on 3 others to see if they were ok. Remember, if you see a rim without a net, call me at 937-985-1312 and I’ll be out. As of today, the video has 450 views, 13 likes, and 2 positive comments. Keep spreading the word please. Hoops Dayton is coming.

Thank a barber, Esrati hangs nets on rims

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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