2 hours of your life you’ll never get back: Esrati + Gem City Podcast

This was recorded about a month ago. Libby came over to the office and we had a really long chat. You’ll have to click over to their site to listen in, and those who’ve listened already said they enjoyed it.

It’s great to have other local media giving the community information in different formats. After you’ve listened- please comment here.

Episode 548: A Conversation With David Esrati

Gem City Podcast continues its “community conversations” with David Esrati, a community activist, veteran, small-business owner and political campaigner in Dayton, Ohio. David has been particularly vocal about the vision and plans for Dayton Public Schools. As we continue to explore the challenges facing Dayton, we invited David to have a conversation with us about his ideas for the schools and neighborhood development.

Co-host Libby Ballengee conducts this long-form interview, in her first ever conversation with Esrati. He is a provocateur, yet we think it’s important to hear a variety of voices and ideas to distill solutions to our City’s challenges. We hope you continue to learn and listen with us, and we will continue to explore new perspectives.

Source: Episode 548: A Conversation With David Esrati – Gem City Podcast || Dayton, Ohio

“What is Esrati’s end game”

Graphic accompanying Esrati's Endgame postA friend was asked this week, “you know Esrati, what’s his end game?” and my friend had no answer.

Really, it hasn’t changed since I bought my crap house in South Park on Jan 28, 1986- the day the Challenger space shuttle blew up. Buy low, sell high.

Sure, my $14,500 house could sell for 10x that now. And my neighborhood is one of the few in Dayton that has rising property values. But, that’s not enough.

Dayton Ohio, as a city, hasn’t seen the same prosperity, and other neighborhoods are suffering. It’s why I set out to run for Mayor back in 1993, after experiencing the incompetence of the leaders who jack slapped me for installing the “wrong garage doors” on a “historic home” way back when.

All these years later, the same kind of fools think they know how to fix Dayton, and instead, keep dragging it down.

When I talked to Paul Leonard, the “Rock-n-Roll Mayor” of Dayton- who was leaving just as I came to town, he asked a simple question: “What happened to “be the cleanest, safest city in America”? And there you have it. We went from a simple guiding principal, to one of let’s pretend government knows how to do “economic development.”

We blew a ton of money on the Arcade back in the early 80’s- and are about to do it again. We built the tower next to the arcade with tax dollars- and then lost it. We built new schools, only to see them shrink and die. We’ve torn down old buildings, and made it impossible to re-purpose them, so that they become rotting reminders of what was once a boom town. We’ve raised taxes to support a patchwork of fiefdoms, that add no value at all to the community- with more police chiefs, fire chiefs, mayors, city managers and school superintendents for  half a million odd people- while the city of NYC with 8.5 Million people can manage with one each.

I could go on, with the quasi-governmental organizations, non-profits and end-runs around a system so convoluted no one knows who does what and why- many with tax dollar support, and zero oversight;  like the morons running the Metro Library system with $187M of your tax dollars- and no respect for your rights, or Sinclair Community College which is doing everything with Montgomery County money that it gets- to expand services outside the county.

Which brings me to my end game. It’s really simple. Uni-government, that’s run by people who are elected, not anointed in the bowels of political party HQs. A government that believes in good schools, safe streets, excellent services, equal opportunities and fair and equitable taxation and incentives.

It’s really not that complicated. It’s not utopia. It’s just not possible in this lifetime says my friend, who posed this question to me.

But, that’s the problem with Esrati. He’s wired differently and thinks “Yes we can.”

I’ve spelled out the framework for Reconstructing Dayton. And, hopefully, as soon as I get past these two lawsuits, and the primary this spring has enough people named to the Montgomery County Democratic Party Central Committee to stop being the party of patronage, we can get moving on undoing the stupidity of people who believe that you have to color within the lines drawn in 1785 when Ohio was formed by the “Northwest Ordinance.”

Who in their right mind wouldn’t like to see Greene County and Montgomery County join together and create a single government that has one set of courts, one police force, one safe jail, one zoning law, one tax collecting authority, etc etc. (other than all the micro-minded people “working” in micro-fiefdoms like Moraine, Clayton, or Oakwood- don’t get me started on the urban township tax dodges).

Go look at the growth in Columbus, Cincinnati and even Cleveland- and ask why isn’t it happening here? This city has so much going for it- yet, we can’t get past all of our personal prejudices. We’re still as racially and economically separated as ever, we have people living in poverty for no good reason, and jobs and industry are passing us by. We used to build things like trucks, refrigerators, cash registers in Dayton- now, the world turns to places like Spartanburg SC and Marysville Ohio. There is a reason for that, and it is us.

It’s time to have a serious discussion of these issues. To analyze how we’ve become a place that has to pay people to come invest. A place where we have all the pieces to build a great economy, but lack the instructions on how to put them together effectively.

That’s my end game. Are you in?

Esrati files suit to stop school task force from touring in private

Today at 3:06 pm David Esrati filed pro se with the Montgomery County Common Pleas Clerk of Courts a civil action to ask the courts to prevent the Dayton School Closure task force from touring school buildings without public oversight.

The case was initially assigned to Judge Dennis Langer, who had to recuse himself, since his wife, Ellen Belcher, formerly of the Dayton Daily News now does contract work for Learn to Earn and Dr. Tom Lasley who are named in the suit.

The case was sent to Judge Richard Skelton, who took the time to review the pro se filing, but admonished Esrati for not including a Rule 65 Temporary Restraining Order so that he could rule immediately on the case without a jury trial for the good of the public interest.

Esrati then wrote an addendum, to file first thing tomorrow morning, and served the documents to all parties via email.

A few observations, the instructions for how to efile with the Montgomery Clerk of Courts office run 35 pages and the system still takes manual oversight. My new account, won’t even be active for 24 hours, which forced me to go to the clerks office to file in person. So much for the brilliance of our former Clerk of Court Greg Brush. No ecommerce portal should require 35 pages of instruction or a delay. If this court system was online in a bigger jurisdiction, that kind of ineptitude would make the courts inoperable.

The fact that service isn’t possible via electronic means is also embarrassing. Why the courts are supporting FedEx and the US Post office to serve lawsuits that have to be filed electronically, is kind of another way to slow the system and add costs. Considering most filings name lawyers who already are registered with the State, this is a colossal waste of time and money.

Also, the cost of filing was $330.50, for a case which the law only allows for a collection of a $500 penalty per instance. This makes the likelihood of common citizens filing rare. Of course, attorney fees are offered as part of the restitution, guaranteeing that the courts help lawyers keep their jobs, while the laws get overlooked because of artificial hurdles built by the system.

Here are the filings, the first is the injunction, the second is the addition of the Temporary Restraining Order. Hopefully, I can efile in the morning and won’t be charged more money.

The task force is supposed to tour the buildings tomorrow. If the board was smart, they would order the Superintendent to pause the tours until this case has been decided.

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The suit that was filed to stop the task force from touring in private- and to examine it’s legal standing.

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The TRO that will be filed tomorrow to get immediate action.

Dems still endorsing in primaries

Usually, I stand up and make a speech telling the party that endorsing in primary elections is wrong. But, last night I was at the Fairgrounds to Future meeting during the party executive committee meeting.

I’ll have more on that song and dance in a later post.

Then, as I raced over to make the central committee meeting (why we have 2 meetings is beyond me) all I could think about was talking to Dennis Kucinich about my Dad. They were friends going back to when Dennis was a copy boy (yes- that was the job title) at the Plain Dealer in the sixties where my Dad was a copy editor. I had a copy of the obituary I wrote for my father printed out.

Dennis Kucinich with David Esrati

Dennis Kucinich, man of the people and a friend of my father. David Esrati (center) JFK (framed in the background right)

As I stood outside Mark Owen’s office- while Dennis was being interviewed about the closing of Good Sam, I remember my dad telling me about how Dennis had stood up for the people of Cleveland when he reversed the deal to sell the public utility, Muny Light to the Cleveland Electric Illuminating Company (CEI)  a private company. I was around 16. I had heard about Dennis through the media- where he was called the “Boy Mayor” because of both his youth- and his resemblance  to Alfred E. Newman- from Mad Magazine. The city was being punished by being forced into bankruptcy. Dad said Dennis had done the right thing, fighting the establishment that wanted to steal from the people and privatize a public service. He explained how all this worked, and said Dennis was the man for the people.

Something that’s incredibly clear now. Dennis is still fighting the good fight- for Single Payer health care, taking a stand against fracking, fighting Monsanto and their designer seeds to work with toxic weed killers.

Unlike our local party elite- I’m glad Dennis is battling Richard Cordray in a primary- although I think Rich is a really good guy too- and we don’t lose if either of them become governor, I’m going with Dennis because he’s been fighting these fights- and putting his own life on the line (there were death threats against him in Cleveland through all that turmoil) and started fighting for the people when Cordray was still in diapers.

When Dennis was done with the cameras, I said, “this might be really short, my name is David Esrati” to Dennis- he said, “Last name?” and was looking at me intently, “Esrati”- he said immediately “Steve’s son? Is he still with us” and I told him know- and handed him the obit. He started gushing about how smart my dad was, and how he had such an interesting history. It meant the world to me.

After Dennis spoke, I went back and asked to take a photo with him, mostly to show Mom and see if it would trigger any memories. She didn’t recognize Dennis, but once I started telling her who it was- it seemed to come back. She remembered her husband, and what a special man he was, just as Dennis had said.

And, shame on the Montgomery County Democratic Party for continuing to endorse in primaries.

one favor Youtube just changed its monetization strategy, and while I have over 400 hours watched, I need 1000 subscribers (I have 139 as of this writing). If you want to continue to see videos at events, analysis, news stories, etc in video format, you can help by subscribing. It doesn’t cost anything, and it helps with the costs of producing them. Go to https://www.youtube.com/c/electesrati and hit subscribe please.

Arresting teachers at school board meetings? DPS did that last century.

On Wed. Feb 28, 1996 I went to the Dayton City Commission meeting to protest their illegal secret meetings on Mondays (they called them “work sessions” and did them using the “emergency media notification” system of faxing to the media outlets on Friday evenings). The previous Monday, they had discussed ways to limit citizens from speaking, or at least being on camera, so they could make sure that I didn’t show how AFSCME trash collectors were getting paid for 56 hours while actually working around 30. I had shown up the previous week with my giant time card, and it was too clear how screwed up things were.

Since they didn’t want to see the face of the people they represent, I donned a black balaclava as the meeting started. The rest is history- and I ended up in the Montgomery County Jail that morning. The same place where Charles Alexander Wade was pepper sprayed while in a restraining chair.

But as I went to get my mug shot taken, I heard a voice call out “Mr. Esrati, Mr. Esrati” -and I look over, and there is Loretta Cephus, sitting in the mugshot area. She had been arrested the previous night while she was questioning the school board under Superintendent James Williams.

So when I was writing on Tuesday morning about how I’d shut down the illegal meeting of the school closure task force by protesting and refusing to leave or shut of my camera- because they were violating the Ohio Sunshine Laws, it was far from my first rodeo. And considering there were more than a few people who should know the Sunshine laws inside out- like Commissioner Jeff Mims, or City Manager Shelly Dickstein, or former county Administrator Deb Feldman or even Mr. Lawyer/school board member to be Mohamed Al-Hamdani- it’s pretty amazing that this collection of highly paid “leaders” didn’t know that what they were trying to do wasn’t legal.

When a reader sent me the link to the school teacher who was taken out of the school board meeting in Vermillion LA, and then cuffed- I did a quick facebook post thinking it was Vermillion Ohio (later corrected) as more and more people picked up the story in outrage. When I had viewed the video at noonish- it was at 250K views- it now has 2.7m views and counting:

The difference? Social media. What the DPS board got away with in its persecution of Loretta, wouldn’t have happened today. Her claims of #MeToo against Williams would have been taken seriously. People would have had first hand evidence of the horrible way the board handled things.

Loretta struggled for years, and was constantly pushed into a corner. Many have tried to do the same to me- “Esrati is crazy” – “Esrati is just a troublemaker”- “Esrati…”

It’s easy for them to do- to make themselves feel more comfortable with their ignorance of the laws that are there to protect them. It’s hard in a town that feels so strongly about putting the square pegs in the square holes and the round pegs in the round holes- that we often forget that pegs don’t have to go into holes at all…. in other words- we don’t have to be victimized by a system of laws and order that has been perverted for a long time. Back room deals on who should run, who should be on the ballot, and who should be allowed to talk or not talk for more than three minutes.

No, Vermillion LA, you putting a teacher in cuffs is nothing to this old hand of Dayton Ohio politics- you chickened out by not hauling her off to jail and charging her. In Dayton- we were doing that 22 years ago… and now, we’ve even upped the bar, by pepper spraying inmates in restraints, throwing old ladies to the floor and breaking their shoulder- and even letting people in medical distress die in the jail because, well, our Sheriff is beyond reproach and now running for State rep.

To all my supporters who called or wrote to thank me for standing up to the powers that think they can break the law, thank you. If you really want to help, consider making a donation to support my efforts to keep this blog as the source for the informed of Dayton. And, last but not least- run for precinct captain to stop these political power hungry members of the monarchy of Montgomery County from continuing to fail us in protecting our rights.