Shamed them into action

As I just got my 5th box of basketball nets from Tuffy Brooks (thanks to Chad Snoke and Geo Pro Consultants) and went out to do some net maintenance on our parks, I finally have a success story to tell.

Arlington Hills Park, July 27 2014. Rotting backboard. Dayton Ohio

Arlington Hills Park, July 27 2014. Rotting backboard.

Last month I stopped by the “Arlington Hills” park – a double court on a field where the old “Gangster Courts” projects were, and I reported a crappy backboard and graffiti on the court with the “Dayton Delivers” mobile application. Here is the photo of the rotting backboard and lame rim:

There was graffiti on the court, someone has been driving donuts on the court, there are no benches for players. In all- a poor excuse for a park and a court.
I’ve never actually seen any kids on this court, in all my visits- and the nets don’t need replacing as often as other courts.

Today, I stopped by after hanging nets at Dunbar HS, DeSoto Bass, Wogamen Elementary School and fixing nets at a few other places as well as hanging a few on rollout rims for the kids playing street ball.

City of Dayton puts up new poles, backboards, rims at Arlington Hills park

Same spot- new pole, backboard rim and net! Times 4!

I almost couldn’t believe my eyes- four brand new backboards, on new poles, with new rims now grace the court at Arlington Hills Park.

It looks like a place where you actually would want to play a game . It made my day. I’ve also witnessed the demolition of the courts at Burkham Park, Princeton Rec Center and have been told Residence park is being rebuilt right now.

They still aren’t using my “preferred rim” – the First Team FT172D which I think is the best rim out there, but, these are the second best style out there.

Ideally- every court would also have benches for guys to rest, while the game is going on, and a working drinking fountain, since most courts are in full sun.

I’ve heard that Mallory Park is up for repair as well, and a few others this year, with more next year, although no one has told me the complete list.

I only hope the three rims we put up at Princeton are going to be recycled and not thrown out.

This is the kind of city I envision- one where our parks are clean and safe. Our schools are great, our neighborhoods strong and our businesses successful. Even though I’ve never won an election (except as precinct captain or neighborhood president) I feel that my efforts to hang the green nets were the catalyst for the city to finally take action and fix our courts.

I’m still sad that we’ve closed our neighborhood pools and replaced them with spray parks, and that we have no youth sports programs to speak of, but, I hope to keep the focus on keeping our kids on the courts instead of in the courts through sports and recreational programming.

Thank you to all the barber shops and beauty salons, and all of you who donated- and extra thanks to those who bought me nets, rims, zip ties and ladders.

All that grassroots effort- has finally begun to pay off. Or, as some would say- shame is a powerful motivator.

Thank you.

 

Tax dollars going where they should: Dayton to repair basketball courts

I can tell you that there were only four basketball courts in Dayton that were worth playing on that belonged to the city last year- at the new rec center on the old Roosevelt site, 2 at Riverview and one at Jane Newcome.

Dayton Public supplied a few more to the inventory- with Dunbar and Rosa Parks having courts that were nice (although Dunbar’s needs to be swept often since it is on a flood plain- and often covered with gravel).

As part of my campaign for City Commission last year I hung more than 300 basketball nets on our lame courts and rims. Here was the video about it:

But, now, since I shamed them in the video and with my campaign last year, the city is finally going to start putting our tax dollars where they belong- into our parks.

In total, about 23 basketball courts and 15 tennis courts will be resurfaced and improved. About 13 tennis and two basketball courts will be eliminated.

“In some cases, people aren’t using these because the courts are unusable,” said Aaron Sorrell, director of the city’s department of planning and community development. “Where we’ve made improvements to our parks, we’ve seen a significant increase in use, and that’s the intent here.

“City officials evaluated 34 parks that have basketball and tennis courts, and they assessed the condition, use and location of the parks and amenities.The city identified 17 parks that need repairs, which will be performed in two phases. Each phase is expected to cost about $500,000, depending on the winning bids,’’ officials said.

via Dayton plans upgrades to 17 parks | www.mydaytondailynews.com.

I’ll still be putting nets on rims this summer. I’ve already delivered 1 net this year and had a request for another a week ago (I gave back the ladder I’d borrowed from Mike Riley of Insignia Signs and just got my new ladder this Wednesday).

My next plan is to start summer basketball camps for kids at up to 10 locations. I want to hire local college players to supervise teams of local high school players to run the camps. The high school players will be paid with funds from Montgomery County Youth Works, I just need to find between $20-40K to pay supervisors, supply balls, water buffaloes, and practice pinnies. Now, at least we’ll have some nice courts.

I’m not sure what courts are due for repair- since the DDn writer talks about parks I’ve never heard of. “Belmont park” is probably “Walnut Hills” since it’s one of two roller hockey rinks. And, why Jane Newcome is getting repaved is beyond me- when it’s almost perfect while the heavily played Dayton View park is being ignored. If there is one place that needs the lights back on for late night ball it’s at the corner of Broadway and Superior.

Of course, my name will never be mentioned in the DDn as the reason the city has finally decided to do something about our deplorable basketball courts- but that’s OK. You will know- and the kids who play, know the “net man” came last year and listened- and acted, and this year- things got better.

Thanks to those of you who really helped out last year- and I’m going to miss some names I’m sure- but Kevin B., Shannon O., Bill R., Missy W., Scott H., Tabatha M., Kyle M., Lewis G., Jim J., Adrian H., Rob D., Norm W., Isabelle S., Sara M., Brent J., Mike G., Milt C., Kevin H., Brian W., Barry B., Terry P., thanks- and also to Jai and Cory for working on the video.

My only advice to the city is: Invest in the best rim out there- one that’s built for outdoor ball and that has a design for hanging nets that can’t be beat: The First Team FT172D of all the rims I’ve seen, this is the only one that will stand up and last – can take chains or nets (please stick with nets- chains are brutal on the balls and also dangerous). It’s worth the extra money.

Thank you to the City Commission and the city staff that have made this happen. This is the kind of investment in our community I can be proud of.

Here is City Manager Tim Riordan on the planned improvements:

Ten thousand dollars reached. Ten thousand thank yous.

Last night, the last donation came in. 9 days before the election, and I reached the goal of $10,000. Any donation from this point on- would go for nets, rims, backboards, tools to clean up courts and to cut off nasty old rusted hardware.

If you look at my campaign finance report: David Esrati PreGeneral Report 2013 PDF you’ll see that the money was spent responsibly. Some may argue that much of the money came back to my own company- The Next Wave, as if I’m paying myself to run- however, when you compare it to others- you’ll realize I spent a lot less on printing, website development, video production etc. – because, I do a lot of it myself. I manage my own campaign (not the smartest way to go)- I edit and post my own videos (other than the interns who did the hoops video) and I maintain my own site- and post to it too. I do my own social media- etc. It’s a hands-on campaign. I even cook for my own fundraisers- and if you missed my pancakes- or chicken parmigiana, you missed out.

The real question is- what good is a $10K campaign if you don’t win? The answer is- it’s not. But, the idea that my principles haven’t been compromised is priceless to me. Of course, when it comes to politics- principles left the building long ago in this country.

Back in 1999 I ran against Bootsie Neal and Dean Lovelace in a 3-way race. Dean raised and spent $12K, Bootsie did $10K and I ran on $7k. When the votes came in- Dean had 12,000, Bootsie 10,000 and I had 7,000. It came in almost exactly at $1 a vote. I was disgusted, but I don’t give up that easily.

The real eye opener has been the Internet- both from a standpoint of being able to directly communicate with so many- and the advent of tools like CiviCRM. Working on the first Obama campaign I got a good look at how data was used to target voters. It changed my perception of how to run an effective campaign. The second epiphany was in my last run in Dayton 4 years ago (2 years ago my petitions came up a few signatures short) was that many of the voters I needed to reach weren’t online. To most of you reading this- that’s almost inconceivable. I knew I had to do something totally different to reach voters who aren’t connected.

The basketball net idea wasn’t fully formed when I began this campaign. In fact, after the bruising year I had last year, I almost wasn’t going to run. Had it not been for Terry Posey pushing with a donation and Gary Leitzell needing candidates and the fact that I’d already given up a relationship that was important to me partially over this- the smart thing would have been to not run. But here I am. $10K raised, a ton of doors knocked on. New friends in barber shops all over town, and more thank yous than I’ve ever heard in a campaign- mostly from people too young to vote.

Even if I lose- because of my choice to invest in actions over words with the “hoops Dayton” campaign- Dayton is a better place.

To everyone of you who’ve donated, I am humbled. To the few people who’ve donated nets and rims- those were the best donations because they empowered me to change the city one small bit toward my vision of what Dayton can be. And to those of you who stepped up and helped hang rims, clean up courts, hang nets and walk and talk to people- actions speak louder than words- and I can’t thank you enough.

The last push is this week. I still have a few low-budget tricks up my sleeve, but, mainly I need all of you to spread the word to your friends who are voters in Dayton- to urge them to give me a chance to represent them. To have someone who will work tirelessly to restore pride and respect in and for Dayton. To change the way we think of government and what it can do for us- to make Dayton a place where people want to live, invest, work and play- regardless of their socioeconomic status, race, religion, nationality or moral compass.

If you want to volunteer- I have literature and walk lists. On election day, I need people to stand outside the polls and talk to voters. If you can or want to do either – call me at 985-1312 or write [email protected]

10,000 thank yous.

And special thanks to Ryan- for being the final donor.

Now- someone can test to see if you can still donate over the goal…. so we have some money for rims. I was at Washington Park yesterday morning- 2 backboards had no rims. I can fix that with a few hundred dollars.

The mind, body and spirit of Dayton

David Esrati hangs rims at Princeton Rec

Thanks to Mike, I had a hand hanging the third FirstTeam FT172D rim at Princeton Rec

Yesterday, we hung the third donated First Team FT172D rim at Princeton Recreation center. (If you’d like to donate rims, click the link and follow the instructions.) Now all 6 backboards have workable rims, although 2 are built for chains, and one- the one next to “the rock” is suffering from rotted backboarditis. I’ve been talking to a local businessman about donating some wooden backboards as temporary fixes. Full court ball is now in session at the Rec center- but, we’re still missing out on creating organized ball in the city. You can read more about my green nets at www.hoopsdayton.org

The guy who donated that rim, and the box of nets I’m hanging now, sent me a link this morning to a story about a physical-education-centered charter school that opened in NYC last year. I doubt there are meaningful statistics on if it’s working yet- but, my guess is, a school like this in Dayton would go a long way toward helping boost graduation rates and provide yet another “point of pride” for living in Dayton. Watch the 7 minute ESPN video about the “Urban Dove” High School:

(sorry for the external link- ESPN doesn’t make it easy to embed video) http://espn.go.com/video/clip?id=9049455

I used to hate gym when I was in school- mostly because so much of it was unfocused physical activity, with the exception of a running class and a swimming class in high school- the dodge ball, kickball and lame calisthenics didn’t give me any lasting skills or knowledge. With our degraded parks, our decimated parks and rec programming, and no physical education being tested on the “no child left untested” or “common core” curriculum, we’re playing into raising another generation of out-of-shape diabetics.

Physical conditioning is a key component of being able to cope, focus, and reach our potential as citizens. My hoops Dayton net initiative is only a first step toward taking our basketball crazy city and turning us into a healthy community. I know that when I’m overweight and not in peak shape (as I am right now) everything is more difficult. I imagine this is the same for everyone in our community- which is why our parks and recreation utilization is one key part to putting the pride back in Dayton.

Adding a bike share program to our city (and not just where the yuppies and hipsters live per the Dr. Ervin plan) but citywide is another way to engage our citizens in healthy alternatives to being sedentary.

As part of my plan to re-engage our citizens, via strengthening our neighborhood organizations, we’d also reward neighborhoods that start fitness groups- walking, running, bicycling, basketball, softball, soccer- and engage in organized fitness. Much for the very same reasons Urban Dove high school puts every kid on a team. We have a ladies’ book club- and a ladies who eat club, and a Shakespeare  group in South Park- but we’ve not graduated to sports/fitness yet.

We may have empty lots with jungles growing on them, or houses ready to be town down- but the question is- should our city focus on the health of its citizens before the health of its people. I believe that healthy citizens will be able to find better answers to our other problems. If we focus on building on the strength of our citizens- instead of the liabilities of our physical infrastructure – we, like the coaches of Urban Dove, may have a lasting impact on restoring the mind, body and spirit of our city.

Why a digital Dayton matters

I was hanging a basketball net yesterday behind a pretty rough looking apartment house. As I pulled up, in my Volvo wagon, to ask if they’d like a new net, I was thinking it’s good that I have a magnet on the side of the car saying “Esrati puts nets on rims” – because I definitely got the feeling that I was intruding, going someplace where I wasn’t welcome. After I hung the net- did my stencil on the ground, put a sticker on the pole and gave away a t-shirt for one of the kids who hit three threes, I was confronted with “but if I vote for you what are you going to do for me?” I tried to point out that I have my answers on my campaign piece- but he didn’t want to read it- he wanted to hear it.

And so I launched into my digital Dayton plan. I told him that there isn’t a job a kid can graduate high school and get without a computer and computer skills, and that currently Dayton Public Schools only had one computer for every four students. I told him that we’re already behind the curve on 1 to 1 computers- that 5 years ago other districts, cities and even states had figured it out.  I said that even giving every student an iPad- that would cost about the same or less than what was squandered in the speculative real estate deal for a new Kroger at Wayne and Wyoming, was a start- but without internet access, it wouldn’t mean anything.

I went on to say Dayton was all excited when it was in the running for Google Fiber- where an entire city would get gigabit speed, 20x faster than what passes for broadband in the region- and maybe 30x what is available in the city where fiber isn’t currently available at all to residential users. But when Google went to Kansas City and then to Provo UT and Austin TX- we sort of forgot about it here- where we actually run a fiber network to control our traffic lights, but nothing else. I said we could put fiber into every neighborhood to build a beachhead where kids could go after school to get online- and then start working to city wide wi-fi. This is also nothing new- the entire country of Estonia has been covered in wifi for over a decade.

These are projects that empower our citizens and give them the ability to grow. They save us from having to pay for data plans on our cell phones- or worry about caps- it provides the ability to connect people with jobs- with services- with each other using tools like NextDoor to organize their community and to coordinate resources.

And even though he knew that I was talking about giving our kids a chance, he didn’t believe me, because we’ve grown to not trust politicians and their promises. We’ve been lied to, too many times. And considering the horrible job we do at informing voters of upcoming elections and candidates and issues, why should he have any clue who I am, despite having run for this office many times over the last 20 years.

The reality is, information is power- and by wiring our community and making it possible for as many as possible to connect, would change the political game and disrupt the party that the party has been having with its friends and family running the show.

I was talking to him about the most critical issue of segregation we need to overcome in America today- the “digital divide” and it isn’t something to pay lip service to, it’s the key to the future.

From the New York Times about a week ago:

Administration officials and policy experts say they are increasingly concerned that a significant portion of the population, around 60 million people, is shut off from jobs, government services, health care and education, and that the social and economic effects of that gap are looming larger. Persistent digital inequality — caused by the inability to afford Internet service, lack of interest or a lack of computer literacy — is also deepening racial and economic disparities in the United States, experts say.

“As more tasks move online, it hollows out the offline options,” said John B. Horrigan, a senior research fellow at the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies. “A lot of employers don’t accept offline job applications. It means if you don’t have the Internet, you could be really isolated.”

Seventy-six percent of white American households use the Internet, compared with 57 percent of African-American households, according to the “Exploring the Digital Nation,” a Commerce Department report released this summer and based on 2011 data.

The figures also show that Internet use over all is much higher among those with at least some college experience and household income of more than $50,000.

via Most of U.S. Is Wired, but Millions Aren’t Plugged In – NYTimes.com.

Those numbers, those people being left out- that’s most of Dayton. It’s all the people who don’t read Esrati.com and vote. It’s the unemployed, the under-employed, the uneducated and the uninformed. I don’t believe government does a good job of creating jobs, but I do believe we can help create an infrastructure that encourages our “social capital” to have maximum access to jobs and to information.

And while my nets on rims campaign is innovative and interesting and newsworthy, you haven’t seen it on the local news, and you probably won’t. Why? Because I won’t be buying TV ads like other candidates, because when I win – I prove that you don’t need to spend $360K to get on the ballot- and win. Local TV is living off political campaign money, and when we all switch to the Internet and YouTube, Netflix and streaming- they become dinosaurs.

No matter how much the incumbents brag about bricks and mortar projects as proof that they deserve re-election, they aren’t answering the question “what are you going to do for ME?”

A digital Dayton is something that empowers all Daytonians, especially our students. It gives them, and their parents and grandparents access to what my readers on esrati.com take for granted. That’s powerful stuff.

If you think this matters, I ask you to do one of three things:

Without those three things, a digital Dayton won’t happen anymore than the Kroger at the corner of Wayne and Wyoming.