The reality of “a publicity stunt”- Esrati puts nets on rims

Tom Archdeacon should have written this story a few weeks ago. The story would have shared the history of Dayton street basketball, and the sorry shape of our community’s parks would have been the focus. Instead, it became a political piece, and I was interviewed again. Two pictures, front of the local section, and Commissioner Williams calls my efforts a “publicity stunt.”

I’ve never done a pr stunt that took as much work, and, if the city had been doing its job, I wouldn’t have to be doing the basic fundamental city service of maintaining our parks. A good friend in the advertising business uses this as a mantra to clients- “actions speak louder than words” to help guide clients on where to spend their ad dollars, I am a believer.

Here is the DDn article on the commission race- mostly about my nets campaign. There is no mention, unfortunately of the video that 2 Ponitz CTC students did.

Esrati’s hoops promise enlivens Dayton campaigns

Posted: 12:05 a.m. Friday, Aug. 23, 2013

Dayton City Commission candidate David Esrati is installing basketball nets and trying to replace damaged rims at many of Dayton’s neglected parks. He leaves a sticker with his phone number to call if net replacements are needed.

By Jeremy P. Kelley – Staff Writer


Dayton Daily News Photo by Jim Witmer, of David Esrati with his pole sticker

Dayton Daily News Photo by Jim Witmer, of David Esrati with his pole sticker

As the six candidates for Dayton mayor and city commission fire up their campaigns for the November election, one candidate has made a very public show of improving city parks this summer.

Commission candidate David Esrati has called the state of Dayton’s parks “a disgrace,” and he’s spent the past two months improving basketball courts — digging out weeds and branches that were growing through the pavement, plus putting nets on basketball hoops that had none.

Esrati said he’s personally put up more than 200 of his green-marked nets on city, school and church courts, and even on kids’ portable baskets. He puts a sticker on each pole, encouraging people to call him if a net needs to be replaced.

“Who wants to live next to a park with no rims and no nets, a tennis court with weeds, grass that doesn’t get cut? That makes a statement,” Esrati said, hauling a ladder out of the trunk of his car. “But this is pride. It’s community pride.”

Esrati said he got few votes in West Dayton in May’s primary and needs to do better in November to win one of the two commission seats up for grabs. He’s putting up nets in all parts of the city, but he went to more than two dozen Dayton businesses, largely West Dayton barbershops, to get people to sponsor his nets program. The grassroots effort is important for a candidate who has pledged to spend no more than $10,000 on his campaign.

“I know from advertising and marketing that an ad is pretty worthless, but a service is worth something,” he said. “The stickers will stay, and if I win or if I lose (in November), I’ll still fix the nets.”

Esrati is one of four candidates running for two commission seats.

Incumbent Joey Williams said he has done steady work for the community for years, referring to Esrati’s basketball-net effort as “a publicity stunt.” Williams pointed to safety initiatives, such as the Community-Police Council that he’s championed, plus his role in improving the city’s bond rating and finances, while some cities struggle.

Candidate David Greer said he’s been spreading his message of citizen empowerment at public events and neighborhood meetings, and his campaign will be going door-to-door this weekend. Greer is focused on getting people to vote, saying turnout for the May primary was “very discouraging and sad.”

Commission candidate Jeffrey Mims said he has not done much campaigning yet, but continues his youth mentoring and other community activities. He said he is focused on improving jobs, safety and the school-community relationship.

via Esrati’s hoops promise enlivens Dayton campaigns |

There is evidence that conditions of public parks have a direct impact on property values. For all the “economic development” projects the city has engaged in over the years- from Courthouse Square, the Arcade, Riverscape and tax abatementa, grants and other expenditures of our tax dollars on big things that will “save Dayton” – there is nothing as valuable to our citizens as clean, safe, well maintained parks with functioning amenities for the people who live here.

From a 2010 article in Dayton Most Metro, written by Shannon O’Neil (full disclosure- a supporter of my campaign)

Over 30 studies have been done on the impact of urban parks on property values. Typically people are willing to pay more for a home that is near or overlooking a park due to the “hedonistic value.” This means that the value of a property is affected by the home’s proximity to the park and the quality of the park itself. The report measures the value of a home within 500 feet of the park but states that the economic value of the park on property values has been measured at distances up to 2,000 feet…

Parks that are poorly maintained or unattractive are marginally valuable and dangerous parks can reduce property values. Parkland adds 5% value to the assessed value of dwellings within 500 ft. Excellent parks add 15% to the value of a dwelling while problematic parks reduce the assessed value by 5%.

via Economic Impact of Revitalizing Cooper Park | Dayton Most Metro.

The facts that you can’t play a full court game at Princeton Rec Center, despite it having 6 backboards and full time city staff, or that the only park with lights on at night is Burkham park- where the poles spin, the backboards are made of rotting wood, and 1 rim is missing and 1 has more curves and ups and downs than a roller coaster, should make it clear that these problems didn’t happen overnight, nor are they something that our current commission has cared about.

For a city with basketball nearing a religion, we’ve had heretics leading us for years. One of my favorite things to point out, is that the two mayoral candidates spent $360,000 in the primary to get 7,500 votes- or $50 per vote. Although it’s illegal, they would have done better to promise to pay every voter $20, had twice the voters and still had $60,000 left over- which could have bought new backboards and rims for every city court. Frankly, although I prefer the idea of A.J. Wagner as Mayor, I’m not so sure I want either of these money-blowing candidates holding our city checkbook.

Right now there is a relatively new backboard at Roosevelt Rec Center on W. Third Street where the backboard failed and not the rim. I’d be out there getting it welded this weekend, but the question of if the backboard is under warranty or not hasn’t been answered. It’s been a 6 days since it was reported to the Rec Center staff. I guess it’s a PR stunt by watching how long it takes for the city to act as well, seeing as this is one of the most popular courts in the city. It will be interesting if they ever fix the 4 lights that are there as a tease to our ‘ballers- since they’ve never been turned on, and now have all 4 lenses shot out.

I would be remiss, not to thank Jeremy Kelley, who wrote one of the nicest articles about me to ever appear in the news. Thank you.

As to my statement of ads being worthless- and being in the advertising business- 95% of ads (and 99% of political ads) are horrible and are reaching the wrong people. Advertising has changed a lot with the advent of the Internet and the ability to micro target, but even then, most ads are an unwelcome intrusion into your life- the masters of advertising believe in “marketing as a service” or- giving you utility as part of the relationship between the brand and the customer. That’s what Google does- in trading utility for the opportunity to deliver advertising. Which would you rather see- green nets, or political yard signs? This question will be on the test on November 5th. Your actions will speak louder than words.


Dayton City Commissioner Joey Williams switches jobs

Commissioner Williams who has moved through the ranks of several local banks up to the top local job at JP Morgan Chase has a new job.

Joey Williams has been Market Manager of Commercial banking and President, Chase in West Ohio of JPMorgan Chase Bank, National Association, since February 9, 2007. Mr. Williams also serves as President, Chase in Dayton of PMorgan Chase Bank, National Association, and has additional responsibility for the Cincinnati market.

via Joey Williams: Executive Profile & Biography – Businessweek.

His new gig is “Market Executive for Commercial Banking” for RBS Citizens, The bank is expanding into Southwest and Central Ohio according to Williams, who was looking to find a position to keep him in Dayton while his sons finish school.

Citizens doesn’t have branches in the area yet, but operates in Cleveland under the Charter One brand.

In 1828, RBS Citizens Financial Group got its start as a small community bank called the High Street Bank in Providence, Rhode Island.

RBS Citizens Financial Group, Inc. is a $132 billion commercial bank holding company. It is headquartered in Providence and through its subsidiaries has more than 1,400 branches, approximately 3,600 ATMs and approximately 18,950 colleagues. It operates its branch network in 12 states and has non-branch retail and commercial offices in more than 30 states.

via About Us | Citizens Bank.

Williams did have to abstain from some votes because of conflict of interest issues on where the city invested the sinking funds accounts and did banking, with his new position this should be less of an issue.


How much is a Dayton City Commissioner overpaid?

Kettering recently put a charter change on their ballot (something Daytonians would find nearly impossible because the charter requires a percentage of registered voters instead of a percentage of voters in the last election) and cut their council members salary in half.

Well folks, I’ve got news for you- cut Dayton City Commissioners salary in half and they will make almost double what a congressman makes hourly. Yep, that’s right, your commissioners think pretty highly of themselves.

Here’s the math: A congressman is a full time job- paying $178K a year or $85.57 an hour. A city commissioner make $37K a year for a job that requires on average 2 hours a week- that works out to $355.76 an hour. Even when you measure a congressman’s job based on only the time in session- around 150 days, 1200 hours, congress only makes a little less than half what a city commissioner does on an annual basis or $150 an hour.

Now of course, Nan Whaley will tell you she works at it full-time, and Gary Leitzell says he spends between 30 to 35 hours a week at it (note the Mayor makes around $45K a year) but Commissioner Matt Joseph has a full time job at a defense contractor and Commissioner Joey Williams is a bank president pulling down at least a few hundred thousand a year. Are they really putting in the hours? Of course, we’ve got Dean Lovelace who took a year off with pay, so he’s making something close to $15K an hour for the last year, but that’s ok since Nan, Joey, Matt all gave him a hall pass.

When I first ran for Mayor 20 years ago, the position paid $28K a year and the commissioners made around $24K.  The average family of four in Dayton was making around $18K working hard. Maybe, it’s time to at a minimum tie commission pay to the average household income in the city- whatever it is, cut it in half. Or, do what I propose to do if elected: I’ll track my hours and bill my consulting rate of $150 an hour for every hour I spend working as a commissioner, anything above that, I’ll turn back into the city. And, to make it sweeter, if you elect me and none of the Democratic party endorsed candidates, I’ll cut my rate to $85 an hour, same as a congressman.

However, if I get elected and have to serve with the people who will spend $50K or more to get a job that pays $45K a year- and I can’t change the charter so that the voters can recall any of us, I’m going to take everything over $150 an hour to put into a fund to elect new replacements for the overpaid commission you have now.

And one other thing… please explain why the Mayor needs an aide who makes as much as he does? Why not just pay the Mayor a full time salary of $90K and skip the aide?


And- btw- here is the best list I can come up with on who is trying to get on the primary ballot right now:  It’s not too late to try to get 500 signatures and join the circus.

You know times are tough when bank presidents have banking problems

There are the bankers on Wall Street who carry home cash in a wheelbarrow, without ever having to sign on a line for anything.

They run the bank into the ground, get multimillion-dollar bonuses- get bailed out by the taxpayers and then “retire” with a big fat golden parachute and a pension for life.

Then there are real people, like:

Dayton City Commissioner Joey D. Williams, president of Chase Bank in west Ohio, has been named in a lawsuit filed on behalf of Fifth Third Bank and faces a financial judgment stemming from the default of a small business loan…
The loan was for the Popeye’s Chicken & Biscuit restaurant at 5800 Wilmington Pike in Centerville, which is closed.

The lawsuit was filed in late 2009 in Montgomery County Common Pleas Court. A Dec. 1 judgment awarded the bank $850,000, which includes court costs of $113,039, according to court records.

via City commissioner named in loan default case.

I’ve known Joey well for over twenty years. I’m sure this is quite embarrassing to him- as well as a financial burden. But, the reality is, at least he actually put his own money up in starting a small business, that employed people. I’m pretty sure that 5/3rd took special pleasure in making an example out of a competitor, instead of working out a deal.

To me, this just says that Joey’s more like us than like the political slime that goes into office driving a Dodge Shadow with a Bush I bumper sticker- and ends up a multimillionaire congressman driving Cadillacs (Mike Turner).

Times are tough. Welcome to the club Commissioner Williams.

First time visitors: welcome, Dayton Daily News profiles review

The Dayton Daily News wrote three complete, yet very short, profiles today of Commissioner Nan Whaley,  Commissioner Joey D. Williams, and me. Online, at the moment has Joey’s story, my profile and nothing about poor ”knock ’em down” Nan. It’s currently at

The DDN fixed the story- it’s now at:

Although much was made of my many attempts to run, and the mask case was referenced, there is only one error in the reporting (a first for the DDN which usually makes every attempt to paint me negatively)- this site gets between 15,000 and 20,000 unique visitors per month, not “hits” per month, the stats don’t count RSS feeds, people who subscribe by e-mail or people who read this content on where it is republished so that government employees can’t get in trouble for visiting on the job (which many of them do). [note: error of omission, the “profile” they have left out my military service- although you could infer it from my founding of VOB108}

The stories are brief. If that is all you have to judge three candidates, there isn’t much there. However credit must be given to Dayton Daily News reporter Joanne Huist Smith for starting her article about me “It’s probably an understatement to say the election of David Esrati will shake things up at City Hall.”

The headlines are telling too- Nan’s is “Youngest commissioner hoping to make a difference”- as if to say after four years she still has hopes to achieve something, and Joey’s is “Two-term commissioner wants to continue his work toward making city sustainable.” I get “Community activists wants to build a better Dayton through empowerment, regionalism.” If you only had those three headlines and one vote, knowing the condition this city is in, which would you choose? And, in fact, when you vote, if you really want to see a change, that’s how you should vote- only once, because any other vote in the commission race counts against me and cancels the vote out (you have two votes- the top two vote getters win).

I’m sure that the most controversial subject is the part about my plan to eliminate the priority board system. I’ve written about it before on this site (you can search it to find out more) and in “The Plan” (something missing from the other candidates’ sites entirely). In a nutshell- the Priority Board system was set up in a different Dayton than we have now. It used to be well-funded, and the city had almost 100,000 more people. The major flaw is the way seats are distributed- based on voting precincts, which are frequently gerrymandered by politicians in Columbus to try to make it easier for one political party or the other (and you must choose between elephants and donkeys, no third party allowed)- not by the actual neighborhood with real physical boundaries and a sense of place. Blindly drawing on maps gives us a very ineffective way to rebuild our city. My proposal is to use the neighborhood organizations as the way to maintain a connection with City Hall. Each neighborhood president would speak to the City Manager at least 4 times a year at a city-wide meeting. There, each neighborhood would be evaluated on its efforts to reach its own goals- and those of the city. Those that do meet progress standards will be rewarded, those that haven’t will be helped. Neighbors will be asked to help neighbors- on a neighborhood-based level, to help all rise.

My observations on the three candidates are simple, Nan Whaley is a pawn of the Montgomery County Democratic Party. She has never held a job outside of its wing, has accomplished little in four years in office and talks incessantly about tearing down our city. Her fund-raising prowess is amazing, she’d raised well over $37,000 at reporting time, for a job that doesn’t pay that much in a year. Her largest contributor, whom she seemed very uncomfortable about in the Dayton Daily News editorial board meeting, is a demolition contractor and landfill operator- who when pushed, she made out to hardly know, which is believable since he lives in Westerville, Ohio. I fully expect more smear, negative attack ads from her if the polling they were doing yesterday gives her something to worry about.

Joey Williams and I have a long history. I consider him a friend. He’s done well working within the lines, being very cautious. He’s a banker for a living, and the conservative side to his nature is apparent. He brings real fiscal knowledge to the Commission but has yet to craft any signature legislation or change in two terms. The only remarkable action he’s ever taken is the one he’s most frequently accused of, an abstention. By abstaining on the resolution to protect gays and lesbians in the workplace, he lost the respect of the typically Democrat-leaning gay community, protected his position with the homophobic preachers and got wailed on by me, who referred to his action as spineless. Although I find his inability to take a stand on an important issue and his list of accomplishments on the commission on the short side, I would endorse Joey for the second seat which is the most likely outcome of any election in Dayton, based on past numbers.

It’s sad that there isn’t a fourth candidate on the ballot. The system is designed to make it difficult to beat an incumbent. Besides the ridiculous 500-signature requirement (you only need 50 for County Commissioner or even U.S. Congress), every card is stacked against challengers. We had 11 people take out petitions for Commission and Mayor- yet only two new names will appear on the ballot.

If you would like to support me, please consider giving at least $25 to my campaign (buy the poster and I’ll personally hand deliver it to your house in Dayton), or if you want a yard sign- go to and register to volunteer and check off yard sign. We also need volunteers to walk neighborhoods, make phone calls and organize fund-raisers or attend them. There are still tickets available for the event at Chef Joe Fish’s home, where he will feed you delicious bites and wine in return for a $50 minimum donation.

Last, but not least, if you are interested in what a real journalist writes, when doing an interview- check out what two-time Pulitzer prize nominated writer, Larkin Vonalt (who moved to Dayton to send her kid to Stivers!) wrote about me a few months back, I think it will help you better understand why I run, over and over. Thank you for reading.