“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?

Voting guide for Nov 7 2017

The party hands out their stupid voter, I mean,  “Slate cards” which tell you how to vote.

Here’s my easy one for Montgomery County/Dayton voters


Issue 1: NO
Issue 2: YES
Issue 3: YES
Issue 4: NO

Dayton City Commission: Darryl Fairchild, Shenise Turner-Sloss

Dayton School Board: Ann Marie “Mario” Gallin, Paul Bradley, Karen Wick-Gagnet, Joselyn Rhynard.

May big money in politics and the political machine get a bit of a wake up call when it’s all done.


An outsider’s prescription for Dayton


The ignored secret behind successful organizations (and nations) is infrastructure. Not the content of what’s happening, but the things that allow that content to turn into something productive.

Here are some elements worth considering:

  • Transportation: Ideas and stuff have to move around. The more quickly, efficiently and safely, the better. This is not just roads, but wifi, community centers and even trade shows. Getting things, people and ideas from one place to another, safely and on time is essential to what we seek to build.
  • Expectation: When people wake up in the morning expecting good things to happen, believing that things are possible, open to new ideas–those beliefs become self-fulfilling. We expect that it’s possible to travel somewhere safely, and we expect that speaking up about a new idea won’t lead us to get fired. People in trauma can’t learn or leap or produce very much.
  • Education: When we are surrounded by people who are skilled, smart and confident, far more gets done. When we learn something new, our productivity goes up.
  • Civility: Not just table manners, but an environment without bullying, without bribery, without coercion. Clean air, not just to breathe, but to speak in.

Infrastructure and culture overlap in a thousand ways.

At the organizational level, then, it’s possible to invest in a workplace where things work, where the tools are at hand, where meetings don’t paralyze progress, where decisions get made when they need to get made (and where they don’t get undone).

It’s possible to build a workplace where people expect good things, from their leaders and their peers and the market. Where we expect to be heard when we have something to say, and expect that with hard work, we can make a difference.

It’s possible to invest in hiring people who are educated (not merely good grades, but good intent) and to keep those people trained and up to speed.

And it’s essential for that workplace to be one where the rule of law prevails, where people are treated with dignity and respect and where short term urgency is never used as a chance to declare martial law and abandon the principles that built the organization in the first place.

Yes, I believe the same is true for nation states. It’s not sexy to talk about building or maintaining an infrastructure, but just try to change the world without one.

Here’s something that’s unavoidably true: Investing in infrastructure always pays off. Always. Not just most of the time, but every single time. Sometimes the payoff takes longer than we’d like, sometimes there may be more efficient ways to get the same result, but every time we spend time and money on the four things, we’re surprised at how much of a difference it makes.It’s also worth noting that for organizations and countries, infrastructure investments are most effective when they are centralized and consistent. Bootstrapping is a great concept, but it works best when we’re in an environment that encourages it.

The biggest difference between 2015 and 1915 aren’t the ideas we have or the humans around us. It’s the technology, the civilization and the expectations in our infrastructure. Where you’re born has more to do with your future than just about anything else, and that’s because of infrastructure.

When we invest (and it’s expensive) in all four of these elements, things get better. It’s easy to take them for granted, which is why visiting an organization or nation that doesn’t have them is such a powerful wake up call.

Source: Seth’s Blog: Infrastructure

As I sat stuck in a traffic jam yesterday reaching from Downtown to Moraine, on I-75 N at 4:30 pm, I thought about who was the idiot who has I75, Main St, Warren Street- all covered with orange barrels at the same time? Who wasn’t working proactively, right then- to not just clear the blockage- but, trying to re-route as much traffic onto alternative roadways, and also- how did we allow the I-75 downtown reconstruction to shut down all the exits to downtown for so long…

But, then I realized the answer is nobody, because we don’t have leadership with the vision to see the implications of our pettiness, because it’s all we know. We have, and have had, leadership for so long that’s arrogant, unresponsive, and hell bent on their political future more than our regions. And then this piece comes out from Seth Godin this morning.

What started me on my political highway of failure at the hands of an uninformed and underinformed voter base, is summed up in Seth’s fourth point- Civility.

After crossing the gods of garage door appropriateness,  I went for help from my elected leaders with the asinine notion that they would listen and help.

Seth: “but an environment without bullying, without bribery, without coercion.”

When I went to the City Commission out of frustration about garbage collectors working 30 hours, getting paid for 56- and got shut down- and then the Commission had a secret, illegal meeting to discuss ways to block citizens from speaking at City Commission meetings- I expected a groundswell of support as I brought this issue to the forefront. Instead, I was arrested, mocked, and locked into a prolonged legal battle when all the resources were stacked in their corner.

Seth: “we expect that speaking up about a new idea won’t lead us to get fired.”

Our City (Dayton – the location on the map, not the one divvied by political fiefdoms that battle constantly) would do well to look at Seth’s list of four simple elements of “infrastructure” to learn how to put things back into order.

It’s not about highways and civil engineering – it’s about civility.

It’s not about big ideas- it’s about being free to express them, without fear.

It’s not about education- it’s about the values we place on it.

And lastly, it’s not really about infrastructure as much as it is about values we hold sacred.

For the benefit of all of us, not just the inner cabal of the  Monarchy of Montgomery County.

Thank you Seth Godin.



Saturday night: PechaKucha 20×20 – Dayton – Vol. 23 @ A World A’Fair but FREE

I feel bad that I still haven’t put together the video for YouTube of my infamous “how to piss people off” presentation at PK night 22 back in March- but- here we are in May- with something new: PK on a Saturday night!

We’ll be at the Dayton Convention Center Saturday, May 16th, 7:30 p.m. with a PK as part of Dayton’s vibrant annual A World A’Fair celebration! We’ve got our own meeting room and will be serving beer + peanuts. There is a separate entrance to our space on the main floor, so no need to pay for PK. Look for our posters. The festival will have plenty of food and beverage for hungry people, and admission is $8 at the door, right next to us.

Source: PechaKucha 20×20 – Dayton – Vol. 23 – A World A’Fair

So- come on down- ride Dayton Link to the Convention Center, and enjoy an evening of presentations that will hopefully make you laugh, think, drink, or…

The Convention Center is in the block between S. Main and Jefferson, on E. Fifth Street across the street from the Crowne Plaza. You can park in the Transportation Center garage- or on the street for free.

PK 22 is sponsored and organized by the  AIA (the local architects) so we’ll hear architects do their thing. Since PK was invented by a couple of Canadian architects in Japan, they somehow think they are better at it than the rest of us. PK has spread across the globe to over 800 cities, so this isn’t just a Dayton thing.

This is where the cool cats will be hanging Saturday, and me. Hope to see you there.

And the Wright Brothers didn’t invent the airplane…

People are still pissed that NC claims “First in Flight” when everyone is supposed to know that the Wright Brothers invented flight and perfected it here in Dayton.

When it comes to bike share in Dayton- it most definitely wasn’t “Dayton leaders” who brought this idea to town as reported on the front page of the Dayton Daily news by Thomas Gnau (who also stole my Qbase story– a year and a half late).

Dayton leaders have long sought to make the city more bike-friendly. Three years ago, city leaders planned to spend $12.1 million in federal and state money through 2018 on street repair and repaving in a bid to give riders clear bicycle lanes. And runners, walkers and bikers have used trails by the Great Miami River for decades.

“The bike share program is one of the many ways we can connect destinations and points of interests and neighborhoods to each other,” (Downtown Dayton Partnership leader Sandy) Gudorf said. “That’s one of the key reasons we and our community partnership … push to get bike share done.”

via Daytonians could share bikes | www.mydaytondailynews.com.

At the first Miami Valley Bike Summit- not very many people were interested in the funny looking white Bcycle that was there- along with Andrew Davison, who flew in from Boulder to introduce the prototype bike.

I had started this conversation when I read about Andrew’s bosses work to launch Bcycle in partnership with Humana Health Care and Trek Bicycles about 6 years ago. I reached out to Alex Bogusky- the aforementioned boss, and creative genius of the ad agency of the decade- Crispin Porter + Bogusky.

Alex passed my name over to Andrew- and he shipped the bike here to K&G bike shop for assembly- the trade show booth to my office- and the swag… T-shirts and water bottles, to hand out at the event. Of course, I wrote about all this on esrati.com, but, you know- nobody reads that….

My first post on the matter- Pave more roads or free bikes? Stimulus for the future The date? Mar. 31, 2009. I thought we could launch in 2010. I talked to university presidents about it, our shadow mayor, the people at Metroparks (I had either Marvin Olinsky or Charlie Shoemaker ride the Bcycle- and shot some video of them riding it outside the meeting at DECA).

But, in the end, even with photos and posts to prove who was the father of this idea in Dayton- it won’t go down in the history of Bike Share in Dayton as my idea… because, well….

have you ever heard of “stolen valor”- or let me introduce you to my good friend Brian Williams.