A Dayton candidates night and a voters fright

Last Wednesday night, instead of working, or doing something fun, I went in for a two hour reminder of why Democracy no longer works in America.

(full disclosure- my firm has done some work and printing for the following candidates or their businesses, Jocelyn Rhynard, Shenise Turner-Sloss, Darryl Fairchild, Karen Wick-Gagnet)

When this country started, it was easy to pick people for elected office. You’d have a town hall of all the white male property owners, they all knew each other, and they chose the people based on personal knowledge and it was done.

Now, we just let anyone on the ballot, at least anyone that can make it through the political parties barricades and hurdles enforced by the board of (S)elections, and then to raise as much money as possible to run for an office that very few of the candidates and even fewer of the voters really understand.

Both the Dayton City Commission and the Dayton Board of Education positions are limited in their actual scope and power. This is by design. They are only allowed to hire a few people, and are there as a corporate board, to guide and review the performance of the leader they hire, be that person called a City Manager or a Superintendent. Instead, we’ve got ego-maniacal demi-gods running who think they not only steer the ship, but also are the guys running the engines, standing guard duty, manning the radar, cooking the food and even scrubbing the decks- all for a mere pittance on the school board and on a salary way richer than it should be for the city commissioners, who only have to show up for one meeting a week.

That said. Sorry about the audio in this video. The PA provided by the City of Dayton at the Northwest Recreation Center badly needed a new XLR cable, but, we’re too busy giving away millions to downtown investors to spring for $15 for a new cable (or less if you go to CCT). I’m even sorrier for what was recorded.

Of the school board candidates, only one actually talked about what we might need to do to change the way we deliver education in the classrooms to move achievement forward- that from Mario Gallin, a former school member who works at Ruskin for East End Community Services and still attends every board meeting. The Ruskin/EECS educational delivery method is based upon the Geoffrey Canada, Harlem Children’s Zone model of comprehensive wrap around services. The only other candidate to mention anything of the like was slate member Paul Bradley who spoke of the Oyler school in Cincinnati which he knows about because his fiancee worked there.

The seating and speaking arrangements were telling. First came “the slate” from the left, then the soloists, who have their own alignments, and the sole incumbent, Joe Lacey who cited parenting duties for calling him away and leaving early. Then the Commission candidates, less Joey Williams. In an unprecedented concession, Priority Board Chairman David Greer allowed Jeff Mims to have Williams time allotment, which judging by Mims reactions to questioning the city’s loss of funds due to internal errors, was a mistake. Mims got defensive and blamed the mess on former planning director Aaron Sorrel, which Darryl Fairchild was quick to call him on. Somehow, despite massive failures in her past, City Manager Shelley Dickstein always gets a hall pass, no matter how much taxpayer money is wasted, and the city commission is never to blame either.

The “slate” is four candidates running together for the school board. Insiders believe them to be hand-picked by Mayor Nan Whaley. Mohamed Al-Hamdani, William E. Harris Jr., Paul Bradley, and Karen Wick-Gagnet have hired a campaign manager (Nan’s old campaign manager) Uriah Anderson, who works for the ever popular Burges & Burges out of Cleveland. They are the folks Sinclair and the Health and Human Services levies both hired (hence the dual billboards around town). This kind of money, power and help hasn’t been seen since the “Kids First” slate ran in 2001 with the sole goal of putting a ton of money into the hands of demolition contractors, construction companies, architects and adding a $645 Million jolt to an ailing Dayton economy.

If you want to read an interesting excerpt on Kids First, follow this link. They spent over $200K on a campaign where all their opponents collectively spent $13,000 between 5 candidates. Note that the four seats that are up this time- were filled by unopposed candidates (Lacey, Roundtree, Lee and Baguirov). The last cycle, we had 4 candidates for 3 seats, and newcomer John McManus spent north of $35K to unseat Nancy Nearny by a mere couple of hundred votes forcing an automatic recount, while the other incumbents Walker and Taylor waltzed on in.

When asked (by me, via Chairmen Greer) why the slate hired an outside consultant, and how much they paid them, the room seemed to turn on Mohamed Al-Hamdani who tried to pass off the question with “we haven’t paid them anything yet” – while defacto saying their campaign manager worked for Burges. The slate is keeping quiet about how much they’ve raised or spent, and because the first reporting deadline isn’t until Oct 28th- the voters will have very little time to learn who is buying their candidates and for how much.

Needless to say, if you look back to the Kids First promises, and the whys, the district is in the exact same sorry shape now as then. Still at the bottom of the barrel for educational achievement, yet with a much higher staff turnover, more turmoil, a third less students, funded by an ever shrinking property tax base (often thanks to Nan Whaley and her love of tax abatement as economic development). The only difference between that slate and this one is that the Kids First slate actually would openly embrace charter schools, while anyone running for school board now has to categorically blame them for the failing of the district.

I still plan to listen to the candidates again, yet, I threw up a little when I heard Reverend Harris saying that he was going to concentrate on truancy as his platform. This is the simpletons solution to educational improvement- and why I also laughed at Dr. Roberson’s entire presentation of his case for why he should be superintendent. The other single issue candidate seems to be Jo’el Jones, who thinks all of our problems can be solved by the office of family and community engagement rising from the ashes. I agree it’s needed, but, it won’t solve the problems of this sinking ship.

While there is no doubt more to Jocelyn Rhynard than her four kids in the district, and her involvement in her kids school, River’s Edge, I didn’t feel she had a fully formed plan and was way too nice in her response about how she’d work with current superintendent Rhonda Corr. Going back to being on the campaign trail with former Dayton City Commissioner Dick Zimmer, it’s always bothered me that procreation counted as qualification for office- he’d start out with “I was born in Dayton, grew up in Dayton, had 9 kids and 19 grandchildren” – as if he chose where to be born, grow up. Mim’s also tells the same sorry story about how he told his family to move to Dayton when he was 3 months old. Rhynard, like Gallin, actually attends school board meetings regularly. Jo’el Jones is also sometimes there. I’ve never seen any of the slate attend.

We need more than platitudes and feel good stories- which is also part of Mohamed’s approach. He’s got a great story to tell of how he came as an immigrant and Dayton’s been good to him, but, he moved back into the city the same day he filed to run, a part he conveniently leaves out.

Hopefully, in the Wednesday night Dayton Education Council candidates night at Ponitz High school (741 W. Washington Street) – starting at 6pm we’ll here speeches sounding more like cogent solutions to stop the turmoil, turnover and terrible achievement scores instead of homilies and grand standing.

If any candidates need an example of what a plan to improve school/student performance looks like, I offer this video I made last December to make a case for a trans-formative plan to discussion. Of course, since no one on the board cares about anything except their own agenda- it was never discussed.

If you are looking to research candidates online- here are the websites I can find:

Of course in most of my searches, more shows up about many of these folks on esrati.com.

Thanks for reading.

Why bother to have elections at all in Montgomery County?

Donald Trump won Montgomery County.

The local democratic party did nothing to win any new seats, and Debbie Lieberman came within 1% of losing to Gary Leitzell, who only spent $6000 and barely campaigned.

No seats changed hands. No republicans were replaced, no incumbents got voted out. Phil Plummer who should be in jail instead of running it- got re-elected.

Mike Turner hasn’t faced a serious opponent since his first race.

The local dems endorsed Ted Strickland from the start as well as Hillary Clinton and we see how that turned out.

We don’t really hold elections here, we just rubber stamp decisions made in back rooms on who should be allowed to run.


an hour after posting: And one other thing happened, without anyone knowing in advance, from Thomas Suddes:

Then there’s the General Assembly. In January, Republicans, led by Speaker Clifford Rosen-berger of Clinton County, will hold 66 of the Ohio House’s 99 seats. That’ll be the biggest House majority either party has held since Ohio went to a 99-member House in 1966 – 50 years ago….

It takes 66 House votes – the number that Rosenberger will have – to pass a bill as an emergency measure. That may seem like inside baseball, but for this: Voters can’t challenge emergency measures in statewide referenda. If Republicans could’ve passed union-busting Senate Bill 5 as an emergency measure, voters couldn’t have killed SB 5 (as they did, resoundingly, in a 2011 referendum).

Source: Ohio Democrats find selves in tough spot

How does labor feel about that? Some labor groups even backed Portman in this election.

In the spring election, be it in May or March (I can’t remember, because they switch it up- and the Board of Elections site is worthless) the democrats will be selecting their new precinct captains and ward leaders. It only takes 5 signatures of registered dems to get on the ballot. It’s long overdue to throw out the stacked deck of patronage job holding precinct captains that keep allowing the Monarchy of Montgomery County to continue with their lame “leadership.”

This is also the year where three seats will come up on the Dayton City Commission- Mayor Whaley, Joey Williams and Jeff Mims. The question is who will really try to challenge them. Whaley raised half a million last time so she could raise your taxes, charge you for street lights, and raise your water and trash bill, while buying empty buildings and giving away Garden Station for $10. Williams has repeatedly won more votes than any other candidate, yet has done little but go with the flow. Mims, despite being a former educator, local and state school board educator- has zero problems allowing more tax abatement shortchange Dayton Public Schools.

But, consider everyone in the country who said Congress was broken, worthless and gridlocked, how many seats changed hands?

Case closed.

Stabbing 7-year-olds and the wrong answers

It wasn’t but a few months ago when the Dayton School Board meeting was in chaos over the hiring of off-duty police to attend Dayton Public Schools sporting events.

The group “Racial Justice Now” saw it as just another step in the direction of the “school to prison pipeline.” There had been other meetings, in DPS buildings, where they were vehemently against the idea of “school resource officers” – that’s code for cops in schools, as sending the wrong message and being unnecessary.

The playground where a 7-year-old was stabbed during recess at Residence Park Elementary

Dirt patches, trash, and a stabbing.

And then a 7-year-old girl was stabbed yesterday on the playground, during recess, at WOW- or Residence Park elementary.

By a man described as being between 18 and 20 who walked onto the playground and shanked her through her lung.

The community is in shock. There is outrage. Fingers will be pointed all over the place,  lawyers will file lawsuits, “activists” will be up in arms, and lots of armchair quarterbacks will weigh in.

City Commissioner Jeff Mims is already making noise- as well he should, his daughter is the principal at World of Wonder. But even he recognizes that no amount of security, fences, security- will stop this, anymore than metal detectors, or school resource officers, or if you are a nut-job, arming teachers- will solve this.

This is just another example of how screwed up our country has become. It’s just closer to home.

Thankfully, this wasn’t Columbine or Sandy Hook. So far, the little girl is making a heroic comeback. But, let’s get real- this was the action of one person, who right now is still walking the streets, somehow thinking that he’s some kind of superstar- since he hasn’t been caught yet.

I have a phrase for adults who stab little girls in the chest and run- you’re a piece of shit. These are the types of people for whom capital punishment is made. Not that I’m a big fan of capital punishment as we do it in this country- where it takes 20 years and millions of dollars to take care of something that should be as easy as wiping the dog crap off your shoe and being done with it.

This isn’t about safer schools, fences, school resource officers- it’s about us. Us as in what kind of community do we live in? What kind of expectations do we place on life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness, and freedom. And what are our community standards?

Everyone will say- this is America- we’re free, we’re a democracy, we are the land of opportunity- when if fact, we’re not. We’ve been fooled, as our rights have been diminished through the “patriot act,” our elections have been turned into an auction/reality TV show, and most of us have zero chance of economic mobility- while we all believe we can hit the jackpot, or play in the NBA – despite being 5’3″- just look at Muggsy Bogues! We’ve got more people in prison than any other “free” or “democratic” country- and refuse to acknowledge that being number 1 in this category isn’t something to be proud of.

But when it comes to community standards- this is where we fail. We set our expectations too low, and accept absolute mediocrity as acceptable. We fight change, we don’t like strong leaders, and we’ll stick with stupid because that’s what we’ve always done.

Graffiti on the pole on the playground where a 7-year-old was stabbed during recess at Residence Park Elementary

Fuck and N word, on the pole, in the playground where a 7-year-old was stabbed

I went out to the playground at Residence Park Elementary School today. I’ve been there a lot over the last 4 years- because there is one solitary backboard on the playground- and almost every other time I’ve been out, it’s needed a net and I’ve hung one. Today, I was happy to see, a net- and it wasn’t even one of mine. But, when I looked around, wondering what the scene had been the day before, where she stood, where she fell, and what kind of chaos must have been going on- I was struck by other things; how much the school looks like a prison, that the grass in the yard was splotchy and there were patches of dirt, that there was trash on the playground, that the pole supporting that backboard had obscene racist graffiti on it.

Is that the best we can do?

Is it too much to ask for our schools to be pristine oases of lush soft grass, with impeccably maintained playground equipment, and that there be no trash, no graffiti and set a standard for the community?

It took me back a few years to when I was making the video talking about my green nets. I had an intern through Youth Works- and I took him to Orchardley Park in Oakwood to shoot what a public park should look like. You’d think he was in the land of Oz. He was amazed, the park was clean, there weren’t cracks in the asphalt, the backboards had rims that weren’t rusty, they even had nets. The park had bathrooms that were open, and “they don’t even smell” was what came out of his mouth. Parents were playing with their kids, having a picnic in the grass, the sounds were of people laughing- not rap, not obscenities or the standard trash talk I hear on every single basketball court in Dayton.

That’s where we fail. We accept a sub-standard as the norm. Drive along U.S. 35 W, and count the number of light pole bases without lights between Abby Road and Liscum Drive. Then go look on 35 E.

Drive down W. Third street and see how many businesses are closed, but still have signs up, or are boarded up badly. Then look in other communities like Kettering, or Centerville- and ask “would they allow the buildings to rot and be overgrown with weeds?” The answer is no.

When we let our city look like a dump. When we let graffiti stay up. When we let weeds grow through cracks in our basketball courts- aren’t we sending a message that our people really don’t matter?

Are we sending a message that it’s OK to run the streets and stab little girls on a playground? Why hasn’t anyone stepped up to say “piece of shit’s name is ____________” – is it because we don’t feel safe? Is it because we’ve cut our police to the bone, while allowing private institutions that don’t pay property taxes like UD, Premier Health, Kettering Health, Sinclair- to start their own police forces to protect their assets, but leave the rest of us hanging? Add up the number of the institutional cops and they probably come close to equaling the Dayton Police department- throw in the  DPS  “School Resource Officers” and you’re probably exceeding the number of “real police.” It’s just another example of how we take care of the money- and leave the poor people to suffer on their own.

There was a meeting a few weeks ago against regionalization- and there will be another Monday. The white racists of the establishment, with their token African American pogues, who have been slowly stripping every last bit of value from the citizens of Dayton, who pay the 2nd highest income tax in the second highest tax burdened county in the state- will get up and say with a straight face that streamlining and reducing our government overhead is a bad thing. They will talk about disenfranchising black voters. They will stand there and say that what we have works.

It doesn’t.

Residence Park is proof that the system has screwed a 7-year-old girl over, and we’re going to continue down the path of the wrong discussion. It’s not about a stabbing. It’s about the condition of the community that set the stage for that stabbing.

Until we realize that we have met the enemy, and he is us, we’re screwed.

It’s time to take a serious look at our problems. Our leaders. Our operational performance at the basics of government. The way we conduct our elections. The way we “rehabilitate” our “criminals” and even who the real criminals are. And as always, the old detective/journalists adage holds true- “follow the money” and you will find out where the real injustice is happening, and it’s not as simple as a knife and an unknown piece of shit.

Politics or fundamentals? Dayton’s choice on Nov. 5, 2013

For the last thirty years, Dayton has pursued one “silver bullet” project after another to “save Dayton” or to pivot our fortunes. The list is long, starting with Courthouse Square, the Convention Center, the Arcade, the Arcade Tower, the Victoria, the Schuster Center, Riverscape, Baseball, and while some of these can be counted in the win column by most, the true metric of success- growth, has eluded us.

The Metro area still has the same population- it’s just spread out more. The income levels are stagnating. Property values are dropping, the divide between the rich and poor is spreading and real opportunity for social mobility- the index of how easy it is to move from poverty to prosperity- is ranked very low.

I believe we’ve put too much faith in government to be the engine of the economy, and they in turn, too much faith in bricks and mortar, and not enough emphasis on the people. It’s the people of South Park who make it great- not the government, and not the buildings. The little neighborhood that could decided that liking your neighbors builds equity faster than paint and “progress.”

Dayton is great at forming committees and having master plans. What we’ve moved away from is working on delivery of basic services and doing it in a customer-friendly way.

When I look at the “establishment” candidates- those endorsed by the Montgomery County Democratic party, I see minions of the machine. Nan Whaley has never had a job outside the party in her life. Her view of the world is controlled by the process of politics and raising money and keeping donors happy. Joey Williams and Jeff Mims are along for the ride. You can’t argue with a quarter million dollar machine in the primary with a take-no-prisoners approach. This is politics at its finest. And looking at the splits in supporters with Clay Dixon backing Whaley despite AJ Wagner having been his campaign manager 24 years ago- and Rhine McLin backing Wagner- despite being Whaley’s teammate just 4 years ago, shows that the professional politicians all see this as a game of political chess.

On the flip side, are the two Davids. Myself and David Greer. We’re facing Goliath, with our little $10K budget limits and no political machine behind us. Getting the message out to voters who have been barraged with mailers, TV, radio, yard signs, requires an army of volunteers knocking on doors. Unfortunately, armies also cost money- and require engagement of voters, something years of lies and false promises have beaten out of them.

What we’re selling isn’t sexy. Pride, accountability and service, aren’t things that can be bought off the shelf. The stuff that can be bought- is what funds the campaigns of the big-money candidates- contracts for demolition, prime land and subsidies for new construction, increased police protection, etc. We’ve seen the focus on Meds, Eds and Feds strategy (none of which pay taxes btw) while the taxpayers get hit with higher tax bills, water bills, less service and decaying parks and falling property values.

If you want to see a short video that summarizes the differences- check out what the Brookings Institution is putting out under the “Metropolitan Revolution” name. (Thanks to Chris Ritter for leading me to this). This video sums up what my campaign stresses- a back-to-basics approach, focusing on fundamentals of making Dayton a place where people want to live, invest and run a business:

If this piques your interest, check out their other videos: http://metrorevolution.org/videos/

There has been a lot of talk about the need for a strong mayor form of government, which both mayoral candidates secretly lust for. However, if we really want to make a difference, it’s even more important today to go back to the professional city manager form of government and remove politics from the helm of our ship. It’s been 20 years since we had our last truly effective city manager who was able to stand front and center without a mayor screaming for attention. That may have been because our mayor at the time, Clay Dixon, wasn’t that kind of politician. But, considering that the next city commission’s first job will be most likely be picking a replacement for Tim Riordan, who the voters pick in the November 5th election is probably the pivotal point in Dayton’s future fortunes.

My thinking on open government and community participation is well documented by the existence of this site since 2005. Looking over my campaign materials from runs 20 years ago, I was still stressing the importance of basic service delivery. If elected, I look to focus our strategy on providing tools for our citizens to improve their social mobility and connectedness to each other, and make Dayton a community that has definable differences from surrounding communities- making it a place where pride and innovation come together. The key, is judging projects on how well they reach the most residents- instead of the current focus of supporting the political contributors to the machines’ campaigns.

Please put down Sunday,  Sept. 29, on your calendar for another Esrati Pancake Breakfast. 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at 113 Bonner Street.



Disrespectful, stupid (and my mother dresses me funny)

I never made it through “How to win friends and influence people”- I found the writing style plodding. But according to one woman at Wayman AME on Hoover Ave, she hopes I never come back to Wayman, and I’m not very intelligent (which I clarified by asking her if she was calling me stupid? With which she said yes). I’m disrespectful, for coming into “her house” and “disrespecting her brother” (I take that to mean Joey Williams, who is a member of Wayman). All this was an interjection as I was getting schooled in marketing, for not spending enough time telling the congregation (whom I’ve addressed every time I’ve run for the last 20 years) what I was for, vs. what I saw as problems.

Damn, I’m confused. I always thought that if you lied in church you’d be struck by lightning.

This was the first place I was told that I couldn’t videotape the activities. John Lawson of the Linden Center was in charge of video and promised me he’d share. I almost had him let me tape when I told him my camera was bigger than his (I bring a pro rig out, he had a pocket camera). Had he let me record, the card wouldn’t have filled up and stopped half way through question and answer, but, that’s another story. I can’t show you my “disrespect” for you to judge, but hopefully he’ll put the video up soon.

So, what did I ask? I asked the people to believe me now, 20 years after I started, to trust me when I tell them that I’m not naive anymore, and I understand how things are done in Dayton. That if this city ran fair elections, William Pace would be up here too, and that the decisions of who gets to run isn’t up to the people, but a party that I belong to, but can’t agree with their methodology- one of patronage and favoritism.

I also said that no matter what anyone tells them, it takes three votes to make a change. That Nan Whaley and Joey Williams have had 2 other votes their entire time in office, and if they couldn’t do it then, what can they do now? That Gary Leitzell has been working as a team of 1 against a gang of 4. It takes three votes for a change.

I made the analogy of Dayton as a restaurant. Either your food and service are great, or people stop coming. Instead, Dayton tries to be Wal-Mart, that has a food stand- but also sells everything else. We need to stick to delivery of fundamental services and do it well. We need to offer things that no one else does, or no one will come and fix up the houses that are decaying faster than Nan can hand out demolition permits to her donors (I actually didn’t point the finger at Nan- or enunciate this as clearly).

Yes, I know, talking about how where you grew up, or where your kids went to school has served Jeff Mims well. He’s been elected over and over. But one woman, from Jefferson Township did ask if he wins a seat on the commission, will he still serve on the State School Board and he told her that he’d have to resign that seat to be on the commission. Finally- someone realized that Jeff isn’t living up to his last campaign promises, and yet he’s up here making new ones.

I did see some heads nodding along, some people get it when I say we have gang problems because we don’t have nets on rims on basketball courts, or neighborhoods that are connected by a common school. But, to answer these questions in a minute is like trying to summarize the Bible- in a hundred words or less. These candidates’ forums aren’t really forums at all- they are more like speed dating, where the fact that you are an axe murderer isn’t as important as that you smell good and smile a lot.

The woman who dressed me down, wouldn’t back down, and neither would I. She took it as a point of pride that she could tell me off and call me stupid, while not wearing a name tag or putting her name on the ballot. It’s easy to be a bystander, it’s easy to boo, it’s easy to stand on the sidelines.

The hardest thing to do in this town is to tell the truth.

Report on first candidates’ night

I ran video on the whole meeting. A Dayton Public Schools intern in my office will transfer the video, title it, compress it and upload it for you to watch on YouTube. Why do I mention that? Because in the speeches of the “endorsed Dems” they talked about the importance of internships- and I’m probably the only one who has provided one among all the candidates.

Tonight we met at Huffman Place, in the Huffman Historic District. It’s an old school that’s been wonderfully re-purposed into senior housing. Unfortunately, thanks to the influence of the construction and demolition firms in the State of Ohio, they made it a condition of building new schools that we tear down all the old ones. We won’t see any other amazing transformations like this thanks to money in politics.

Interesting new information- Jeff Mims proposed to annex Trotwood and Jefferson Township and one other community, we’ll get the quote right from the video.
A.J. Wagner has, as Mayor Leitzell predicted, plans for new laws to solve our problems, and also as Leitzell predicted, Nan Whaley has sat on a lot of committees, formed committees and been a committee. Wagner also suggested we do away with civil service board testing for police and fire, and no longer require the hiring from our city-run police and fire academies (like most jurisdictions in the state)- he even went as far as to suggest the radical idea of filling a spot the moment it comes available by hiring, OMG, someone who.’s already qualified to do the job. Currently, the only people we’re able to hire like that is the Chief, and we’ve even told one or two that they can’t carry a gun because, despite years of police experience, they didn’t go to our academy. A.J. scored major points with me on that. Nan, on the other hand talked about how she had been endorsed by the last 120 firemen in the city- the IAFF, where we are at critically low staffing every single day.

This was my first time to hear David K. Greer in action in front of voters. He’s going to need to tell us a little bit more and engage when given the opportunity. I already know I can have a conversation with him and work with him, from our cooperation on www.independentdayton.com

I’ll try to post copies of all the candidates’ literature on-line for you to review. As always, mine is the only one that takes more than a minute to read.

I popped out my wheel of fortune solution to making candidates’ nights more interesting- it has 18 different topics to discuss, so voters don’t have to hear a canned speech about the candidates. I was the only one to use it. I’m also going to have to preface every candidates’ night about my public speaking voice- I’m not shy, and the Army taught me to use a command voice when speaking to groups, it comes off as angry and rough. But, then again- everyone hears what I’m saying, which can’t be said of Mr. Wagner.

Apparently, Mr. Wagner fancies himself as a marketeer and negotiator. He believes he can sit down and negotiate with major corporations to come here and do business. I’m not sure I’m comfortable with that idea. I thought that’s why we have a city manager? It’s one of the fundamental misconceptions about what the Mayor and the City Commission are supposed to do.

The questions of job creation show the biggest difference in approaches to the problems. You’ll have to watch the video to see.

Next scheduled candidates’ night is next Monday at the Kroc Center, hosted by the McCook field neighborhood association. Time to be determined. Look for video on Wednesday.

One last thing: I always cringe when I hear “I was born in Dayton” or “I was raised here” come out of a candidate’s mouth. We’re not electing your parents. They made that happen, not you.

The Dayton Challenges- the charter

One of the reasons Gary Leitzell has my full support is his challenge to other candidates for Mayor to limit their campaign spending:

So, let me lay down this challenge because I know full well the two parties will never issue the same. I will NOT spend more than $10,000 cash and $10,000 “in kind” to get re-elected and I challenge any KNOWN political challenger to match the same. I would offer ANY unknown candidate the limit of $20,000 cash and $10,000 “in kind” in the same race because that is still more than I spent against a two term incumbent, super delegate of the democratic party in a non – partisan local election. I am willing to level the playing field because I know that it is the right thing to do. Maybe it will send a message to our State and Federal Governments that “We the people” are no longer content to sit and watch our elected officials contribute to the demise of the greatest nation on Earth! So, here in Dayton, let the games begin and may the BEST CANDIDATE win!

via Dayton Mayor: The Challenges.

I also like that he takes the initiative to inform all potential candidates of the process to run. And trust me, getting signatures is a bear. I was out for two hours yesterday and registered one voter, and collected about a dozen signatures for me, Gary and for Jeff Mims (because I believe anyone who wants to be on the ballot, should be given the opportunity – and that the people should decide, not the political parties or the Board of Elections). I could still use help gathering signatures btw.

I know Nan Whaley and AJ Wagner won’t agree to limit their campaign spending- nor will any other candidate (except me- the most I’ve ever raised and spent was $7000). The real litmus test is if any of these candidates will sign a pledge to change the Dayton City Charter once elected to right some of the wrongs- namely:

  • To run for Congress, you need 50 signatures. All would agree that being a congressman is a job with much higher responsibility. We need to get rid of the 500 signature hurdle- or at least, make it a one time thing- and after you’ve done it and been on the ballot- it’s down to 50 every other time. Trust me, from day 1 over 20 years ago, I realized that incumbents have a much easier time collecting signatures- I’ve been chased out of schools, churches and even bus stops- while incumbents have walked through city hall and collected city employees signatures on the clock.
  • The form needs to be updated. Currently it has spaces for ward and precinct that for some odd reason- don’t have to be filled out, yet, they are a stickler for dates, or handwriting. Instead, the form should have: Printed name, Signature, address, date. This would help stop 20-40% signature rejection rates.
  • The requirement for a nominating committee is also like nothing else. We’ve had candidates disqualified over this. The voters should be the nominating committee- that’s why we have their signatures.
  • Only the Dayton City Commission form requires a notarized signature of the circulator. Why? What does this prove? This extra step has caused petitions to be invalidated. The notary didn’t witness the voters signing, and the circulators signature should be held to the exact same standard.
  • Even the wording of what the election dates causes confusion. There is no primary if there are less than 4 candidates for Commission or 2 for mayor- so many people get confused and different language is used by every candidate. This proves that it is unneeded.
  • And last but not least, the charter calls for the city to run the non-partisan election, not to farm it out to the partisan Board of Election. It’s time to acknowledge this major deviation from the charter and bring the document into compliance.

The charter processes for recalling sitting office holders is also flawed. It currently calls for signatures of 25% of the registered voters to sign a petition to put the question on the ballot. Right now the voter rolls have over 100,000 “registered voters” meaning that you’d need almost 35,000 good signatures to mount this effort- and that’s basically the number of voters we may have. Every other municipality uses the standards of a percentage of actual voters to have cast a ballot in a recent election. This keeps the people from having the power to petition and to remove their government. Any commission candidate who doesn’t support this very needed change shouldn’t have the right to sit on the commission. Note, Nan, Joey, Dean and Matt all have sat on a commission that has submitted charter changes to the voters- since it only takes 3 of them to vote to do it- and they haven’t seen fit to change anything pertaining to the electoral process.

The standard for voters putting a change of the charter on the ballot is also using the same standard of percentage of registered voters instead of percent of actual voters- so this needs to be changed as well.

The two other changes I endorse and challenge the other candidates to support:

  • The charter clearly specifies one meeting per week to do the cities business. We must end the unauthorized “work sessions” that they’ve been conducting for years and put the full business of the city into a single meeting in public as called for by the charter- or change the charter to make these sessions legal. I believe the charter is correct, one meeting only. That way citizens know their representatives are working in the open.
  • The separate and expensive separate race for Mayor could also be eliminated. Besides the $10K or so pay bump, and the right to go to Washington and the conference of Mayors- the mayor only has one vote. Instead, we could simply award the mayors seat to whomever has the highest number of votes in the popular election- every two years, keeping the cycle of 2 seats then 3 seats every other year. There is no reason for a separate race or higher costs in the process, nor is there any reason to jockey as Nan is doing out of ego. Let the people decide from the broadest slate possible.

This is not the first time I’ve brought up these changes- read the old posts: http://esrati.com/?s=Dayton+city+charter+changes

Then go to the other candidates sites and see what you find?

This is why I’m running. To make sure that we have a charter and a process to elect and, if needed, remove, office holders in Dayton. Please join my campaign and spread the word- and ask the other candidates where they stand?

and others: William Pace? Mark Manovich?