Montgomery County Democratic Party eats its own

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Darryl Fairchild must have the Democratic Party scared

Full disclosure: my firm does work for Darryl Fairchild and Shenise Turner-Sloss. I’m also a member of both the executive and central committee of the Montgomery County Democratic party (and don’t recall voting to authorize this kind of dirty politics.)

I got a mailer today. “Darryl Fairchild refused to support an issue that would provide many quality neighborhood services to Dayton residents” – a hit piece, from the Montgomery County Democratic Party.

Problem is- Darryl is a Democrat.

He’s such a loyal democrat that he dropped out of the commission race 4 years ago, so they could give Jeff Mims his seat. They had told him, “it’s not your time” and we’ll let you run for the next seat- and then they picked Chris Shaw instead. Doing deals with the devil- will always get you burned.

A party that will do this to their own, doesn’t deserve the right to call themselves Democrats. This is a republican thing- eating your own. Or at least it should be.

Darryl wasn’t in support of Issue 9- which raised the income tax- to pay for some of the things they claim:

  • Hiring more police officers
  • Paving Streets
  • Improving Dayton’s Public parks
  • Cleaning and mowing vacant lots

What they left out- was that Issue 9 created another quasi-governmental organization and handed them huge amounts of money to compete with Dayton Public Schools. And, the reason we have to raise income taxes to do the above? Is it because Joey Williams and Jeff Mims and their crew- give tax abatement to every big company that comes with their hands out.

Had Williams and Mims been good stewards of your tax dollars- they should have been able to afford all of the above. And, for the record, they have not “hired more police officers”- they’ve hired more replacement police officers to fill retiring officers positions. The force has not grown, and in fact may have shrunk. One thing is for sure, it hasn’t gotten any more diverse.

Taylor Communications, General Electric, Emerson, Midmark, and every other developer (except the guys doing the FireBlocks projects- who actually pay their taxes) all got tax breaks.

Nope- no mention of the fact that under Williams- 80% of downtown properties don’t pay property taxes.

Also, no mention of the money spent buying vacant buildings a half-million dollars each, and then turning them over to “developers” for pennies. All of those stupid deals have been covered on this blog.

The fact is, the party is scared and thought the right answer was to go negative.

Hopefully, the voters will see this as a desperation move- and do the same thing that they did to Rhine McLin after she sent out 6 negative mailings about Gary Leitzell, vote Williams and Mims out of office and vote for Darryl Fairchild and Shenise Turner-Sloss.

Dayton doesn’t need this kind of mud-slinging. What we need is real leadership.

 

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.

UPDATE

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.