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.

The “regionalization” plan that wasn’t

When Joey Williams actually posts something political on Facebook, you know people are talking. And that Joey is distancing himself from the new plan is an instant giveaway that this plan is DOA. Not that he has any clout- but, I digress.

I’ve always said that if Kettering were the largest community in the County – and there was talk of regionalization, it would have happened already. Kettering, for the most part, is the model of effective government.

Can’t say that for either the vounty or the City of Dayton, where nepotism, favoritism and as I like to refer to them- “the monarchy of Montgomery County” rule.

This idea of merging the county and the city governments is a joke, if you aren’t including the townships- it’s just a backward move at consolidation- trading in 5 grossly overpaid members of the Dayton City Commission for 3 even more overly paid members of the Montgomery County Commission, who have even less to do.

The regionalization expert cited in today’s Dayton Daily news says:

“(David) Rusk, founding president of the research group Building One America. The former Albuquerque, N.M., mayor wrote “Cities without Suburbs,” a study often described as the bible of government regionalism….

“In effect Dayton city hasn’t received any dowry from the marriage. It hasn’t received a square foot of additional territory. It hasn’t picked up population. It hasn’t picked up any tax base,” Rusk said. “In effect it has simply swapped a governing body that’s elected solely by the residents of the city of Dayton for a governing body that’s elected by everybody in Montgomery County.”

Source: Merger plan has long way to go

Let’s review: Both the city commission and the county commission have basically one job- to hire a professional administrator to see over their large budgets, union contracts, and running the organization. In the business world, we call these the board of directors- unfortunately- in the political world- we elect people- not based on their expertise, or knowledge of running effective organizations- but, based on a popularity contest closely controlled by two local political parties- that operate more like “good ole boys (and girls) clubs” than effective political operators. Their most important role is to get people elected who can then hire the party faithful (again- under-qualified) to work in patronage jobs.

Each elected office gets a budget for these friends and families- the worst offenders are the Board of Elections- where convicted rapists get hired without a job application, Dayton Waste Collection- where generations of a certain union family continue to keep their jobs even when they can’t drive, and oh, lets see- almost every other department in the city.

Remember when the young City Manager, Rashad Young, had his grandpappy working in IT- the one with the kiddie porn on his work computer? Or going back- way back, when our Mayor Richard Clay Dixon was working for Dayton Public Schools- and taking sick days from his DPS job to travel on government business? Or, back to the county- how County Administrator Deb Feldman- signed off on a convicted felon, Raleigh Trammell, to run a welfare program? (And yes, he was convicted of welfare fraud BEFORE she gave him the position).

Realistically- both governments are cesspools. It’s almost laughable when the Dayton Daily quotes this:

“This is a conversation not precipitated by scandal, as it was in Cleveland, and certainly not by the fact that our local public officials are in any way lacking in integrity, dedication to the public and ability,” said U.S. District Court Judge Walter Rice, an officer of the nonprofit Dayton Together group, which currently has about 20 members.

That’s because we can’t add two plus two together for the most part, your honor. The reason for the huge shift to Warren County- for the loss of population in Dayton- and the death spiral of property values in our city core- is from ineptitude and a lack of understanding of how the pieces fit together. Readers of this site are constantly reminded of how this mess is failing us.

This plan has it backwards- the way it should work- is the largest municipality in the county should run the county. This would immediately force the other communities to put away their pet squabbles and join together quickly to over power the stupidity that runs Dayton. Merge Centerville, Kettering and Washington Township into one- and let them run the show. Then Dayton would add Trotwood and Jefferson Township and maybe even Harrison Township- to one up the other. Then Huber Heights and Riverside would join forces with CKW and maybe throw in Moraine too. Next you know, Miamisburg, West Carrolton are looking for partners- and voila- regionalization has happened- much the way a parliamentary system works- where you have to form alliances to gain power.

However, the State could step in and fix all of this mess, putting limits on number of elected office per capita within a region defined by population density. No more 6 man police departments, or kangaroo municipal courts. No more “economic development” officials at lower than the county level. And most importantly- a lot less political overhead- the true reason that it sucks to do business in Ohio- where there are so many different tax rates, rules and authorities it makes your head spin.

This hair brained idea of merger should be the last hurrah for Dan Foley- who is only in politics because he’s the son of a judge, and he thinks he was some kind of wizard for implementing computerization when he was the clerk of courts. The reality is, if we graded any of our leaders based on performance; ie- growth of jobs, wealth, population, or efficiency – none of them would have kept their jobs longer than a single term.

One quote gets it right in the paper, Mark Owens:

“We have 86 counties in Ohio that have our kind of government. If there’s something wrong with that kind of government, it ought to be done on a statewide basis, not making Dayton and Montgomery County some type of a test tube or laboratory to figure out what’s going on.”

And the answer is yes- our state is a mess.

When buying political office in Dayton, don’t buy local: Whaley spends out of town

The post election campaign finance reports were due Friday.

The Dayton Daily weighed in claiming this the most expensive race ever, if you add in the in-kind donations the Whaley campaign took in:

Whaley raised $364,969 and spent $411,656, according to reports filed beginning in January 2013. She spent more than she took in because of carry-over amounts from 2012

A.J. Wagner raised $122,190 and spent $140,888 during the same period. His report includes $10,000 loans from Zafar Rizvi of Butler Twp. and Michael Oberer of Washington Twp.

Together the two candidates raised $487,159 in cash and spent $552,544. By comparison, spending for the the Turner-Rhine McLin match totaled $770,000.

But while that 2001 race still wins as far as overall spending, using another measure, Whaley may very well have run the city’s most expensive mayoral bid for a single candidate. “In-kind” contributions – which are services or things of value, such as production cost for mailers or food donated for events provided to a campaign – save the campaign from having to spend money on those items and services. If the value of those in-kind contributions are included with Whaley’s total cash contributions she easily tops Turner’s spending in the 2001 race, with $532,640 in expenditures and in-kind contributions.

via Dayton Mayor candidates spent nearly $500k | www.mydaytondailynews.com.

All that money, to get a measly 9,211 votes and a record low turnout of 16,334. For comparison, 4 years ago, Gary Leitzell won the office over Rhine McLin with 15,316 while spending around $20,000.

When you take Whaley’s $532,640 and divide it by number of votes, she spent an astonishing: $57.83 per vote. Wagner, spent $19.78 per vote to get 7,123 votes.

Looking over the reports a few things:

  • Mims and Williams reports are incomplete, missing their expenditure pages.
  • Greer’s report says he spent $4,414.19- but only has listed $300 expense to Dayton Weekly News- suggesting he was doing totals for the campaign- not the period (which was only from Oct. 18 to Dec. 6, 2013.)
  • A.J. lists his vendors, right down to everyone he paid to stand out at the polls on election day. Nan’s lists vendors- who then subcontracted work- so you don’t know what she really paid for or to whom. Apparently, her friend Gen Murphy runs a temporary services company now- since she paid her $1,000 for “election day services” which is a nice way of obfuscating who got paid on election day.

Whaley spends big money with out-of-town people:

  • Ohio Democratic Party 10/17/13 $22,971.09 Contribution 340 E. Fulton Street Columbus OH 43215
  • The New Media Firm 10/18/13 $4,905.50 Media 1730 Rhode Island Avenue, NW, Suite 213 Washington DC 20036
  • Momentum Analysis 10/19/13–$1,000.00 Consulting Fee 1508 Monroe Street, NW Washington DC 20010
  • The New Media Firm 10/23/13 $36,003.18 Media — 1730 Rhode Island Avenue, NW, Suite 213 Washington DC 20036
  • Ohio Democratic Party 10/29/13 $18,384.51  Contribution 340 E. Fulton Street Columbus OH 43215
  • JVA Campaigns 10/29/13 $7,293.70 Media  1301 Dublin Road, Suite 302 Columbus OH 43215
  • The New Media Firm 10/29/13 $14,236.75 Media  1730 Rhode Island Avenue, NW, Suite 213 Washington DC 20036
  • Ohio Democratic Party 10/30/13 $6,204.43 Payroll Service 340 E. Fulton Street Columbus OH 43215
  • JVA Campaigns 10/30/13 $2,250.00 Media 1301 Dublin Road, Suite 302 Columbus OH 43215 1486
  • Ohio Democratic Party10/31/13 $12,022.84  Contribution 340 E. Fulton Street Columbus OH 43215

Note, this is all within a 2-week period- and tells us nothing of what she was actually buying. Mailings, TV time, volunteers- we have no idea.

And, there are media buying firms in Dayton who have a lot more experience buying media in our market. Considering the regular commission for placing TV and Radio by an agency- is 15%- this is $54,897.90 in buys, sending $8,234 out of our community to DC or Columbus- and that was just the money on media- what the ODP did with their $59,582.87 in two weeks, we’ll never know.

The real question is where have all the voters gone? 4 years ago 29,750 people made a decision on who would be mayor. This year, 16,334. Did we really lose 13,416 voters? Or were that many people non-plussed by the choices?

Four years ago I got 9,440 votes. That’s 229 more votes than Whaley won with. Had I drawn the same number this time, I would have come in 2nd to Williams and you’d be calling me commissioner.

  • Jeffrey J. Mims Jr. 8,698 30.94%
  • Joey D. Williams 10,333 36.76%

It was also interesting that the Dayton Daily News didn’t mention anything about Mims having to quit his elected position on the state school board – giving the Republican Governor yet another appointee, until after the election. It was on Nov. 17th in an article written by the Akron Beacon Journal:

Just one board member — Jeffrey Mims of Dayton — is African American, and Mims is resigning from the board after getting elected to the Dayton City Commission Nov. 5. Mims is also a Democrat, meaning the board could add another Republican when Gov. John Kasich names his replacement.

Just two of the 17 members reside in urban school districts, and one of the two is the departing Mims.

via Obscure board has big impact on school policy | www.mydaytondailynews.com.

A minor detail, conveniently overlooked, despite my asking Jeremy Kelley of the DDN what happens to Mims school board seat in our pre-general election interviews.

A few other interesting details on the reports:

Whaley got a sizable donation well after the election from the CEO of CareSource:

  • Pamela Morris Lemmon 10736 Falls Creek Ln. Dayton OH 45458 11/18/13 Check $1,500.00

Is this to help grease wheels for more taxpayer-funded construction for CareSource- which is hauling in windfall money thanks to the Affordable Care Act?

And, will Oberer Development still be doing their development with city support on Warren Street since Mike Oberer extended a $10K loan to A.J.? Rumor had it that George Oberer got a call from Nan threatening further support for them working in the city if they continued to support her.

His report includes $10,000 loans from Zafar Rizvi of Butler Twp. and Michael Oberer of Washington Twp.

Dayton Mayor candidates spent nearly $500k | www.mydaytondailynews.com

To download and look at the reports yourself, go to the MCBoe.org site: http://www.mcohio.org/boe/candidate_tools/CF_Reports/ and select 2013, and 2013 Post General.






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.



Thank a barber, Esrati hangs nets on rims

If you see a basketball net with a bright green bottom, I hung it. If you see a rim without a net, or with a poor excuse for one- call 985-1312 and I’ll get one out and hung.

That’s the message that isn’t on my campaign literature. It’s what I’ve been doing since the beginning of June, hanging nets on what passes for rims and backboards in Dayton.

I had to spend over 4 hours pulling stink trees and other opportunistic weeds out of the three courts at the old Parkside homes. I’ve hung nets on rims with rust so bad one kid said “yeah, when you score you get rust in your eye.” I’ve seen rims with nets hung with knots, tape and even shoelaces.  We’ve got rims missing hooks, rims built for chains, which never got replaced. Backboards are just as bad- rusty if made of metal, rotting if made of wood (seriously, who bought wood backboards for outdoors). One is recognized by all old-school players as having been eaten up for years- it looks like a dragon bit the bottom off.

To pay for the nets- I’ve been using campaign funds and asking donations from the ultimate local business: barber shops and beauty salons. I go in, tell them what I’m doing – show them my posters- and ask them to sponsor a net. Most sponsor more than pne. I take a picture of them with the poster- put it online and hang the poster in the shop. Check out the pix at www.hoopsdayton.org My donations come from the community, not from DC or Columbus or the ‘burbs, but from the people who live and work here. I’m just as happy to accept $2 as $200, which is what a box of 100 nets costs me at Tuffy Brooks. That’s the crazy thing- nets actually cost less than yard signs. I’d much rather put up a net and do something positive in the community than place a yard sign. It takes a lot more effort to hang a net too- between hauling the ladder (I’ve had to hike it across a few football fields to get to some courts- like Western Hills) and doing court cleanups.

The support has been fantastic at many levels. But the real question is how come our city, which always has a million bucks for a developer, or a tax break for the world’s richest companies- can’t keep nets on rims? Or take care of the courts? Just yesterday, the City Manager rolled the convention center into the department of Parks and Rec- calling it one of the “entrepreneurial  departments.” Really? He wants to make money off providing parks and rec? This is the kind of thinking in City Hall that makes me run. Having nice parks is economic development in my book- as are safe streets and neighborhoods. Not by having buildings like Tech Town that sit mostly empty and compete with private developers.

Campaign poster for David Esrati for Dayton City Commission, next time a politician asks for your backing, ask about our backboards

One of the series of posters I’ve been asking for sponsorship for.

As one of my posters says “Next time a politician asks for your backing, ask them about our backboards.” Joey Williams, a former Dunbar basketball star has been on the commission for 12 years- with at least 2 supporting votes the entire time. Apparently, rusty backboards and rims, cracks in the courts, and not turning on the water in parks like Hickorydale is OK with him- as long as we have nice privately developed student housing for students at Sinclair.

I think not. If you’d like to help, please donate at www.electesrati.com/donate-2 After I hit my cap of $10,000, all money will go into a fund to start buying new backboards and rims and getting them up. I’ll need help from someone who knows how to weld when that time comes.

If you see a rim that needs a new net call 937-985-1312

If you’d like to change our city’s focus on what constitutes “economic development” and believe it should be “Parks and Rec” – not “Parks are a wreck” please volunteer for the campaign.





Something broke in the May Special Election

Considering that record money was spent in the May primary, the turnout was incredibly low. 9,704 voters cast a ballot, and it’s hard to figure out what percentage of voters there really are in Dayton because of the changes in the registration process.

In the 2012 presidential election, 58,441 cast votes. If we take that as everyone who could vote did- we had a turnout of about 16% for the special election.

Of the total votes- 9,486 voted in both elections. Meaning only 218 people were either new voters, or missed the presidential.

But, what’s surprising- of the “Supervoters” who vote in every election- say the last 5 not including the primary, Dayton had 4,973 before the special election, but only 3,097 of them voted in the special- reducing their ranks by 1,876. Somehow, 1,876 people who have been proven voters- chose not to, or left our city, or didn’t feel compelled to vote.

This leads me to a few thoughts, especially since the “Dayton Independent” candidates focused on those people “most likely to vote.” The Whaley campaign was utilizing data collected to make sure that those who were biased toward her got to the polls. Yes, she spent ungodly money to do it- but, her investment in NGPVan and her help with data from the party- like lists of emails of donors, and massive mailings, and email campaigns were focused on Dems who vote the party line. In fact of the special election voters, 6,508 are identified as Dem and 2,006 as Rep – leaving 1.190 as undecided, undeclared, or other.

Considering that the Dayton special election is a nonpartisan run-off, and open to all, and the city skews Dem traditionally, these numbers aren’t surprising. Nor is the turnout, despite not having had a runoff for Mayor and Commission in 20 years.

The 1,876 supervoters who chose to sit this one out are the oddity. Had only 229 more of them voted for Leitzell, A.J. Wagner would have spent $106,000 for naught. Combined, Wagner and Leitzell had 4,904 votes to Nan’s 4,965, a 61 vote gap. If every Leitzell voter votes for A.J., and the turnout is similar, we have a very even race.

Elections are no longer won by rhetoric, they are won with databases. I’ve worked hard from outside the system, without party support or much help from the partisan Board of Elections to build the tools to analyze the data and work with it. Unlike my previous runs for office, I never had the test data from a primary to know where I did well and where I didn’t- and didn’t have the money to do proper polling. This time is different. The real question is, can I reach the voters I know I need to reach between now and November 5th for under $10,000, and can I get those who indicate they are most likely to give me their support to get out and vote. It’s hard for some people to back the underdog- I had the least number of votes in the special to get on the ballot with 2,087, but my goal was never to win the primary- just to place.

Everything is different for November. If you’d like to help, we’re having an organizational meeting of volunteers on Tuesday, July 9, at 6 p.m. at Top of The Market- 32 Webster St. near the corner of E. Third St. It’s a joint effort between my campaign, David Greer’s campaign and the mayor’s petition-signing campaign to collect the huge number of signatures it takes to run as an independent candidate for County Commission in 2014. We’ve invited A.J. Wagner’s people to attend as well- but, we’ve not heard a definitive reply.

I know that I will be willing to distribute A.J. Wagner literature as I canvass, but doubt he’d do the same for me. I believe the best-informed voters make the best voting decisions, and have no problem working for change.

There is one thing to realize about the Dayton City Commission- it takes 3 votes to accomplish any substantial change. Joey Williams has had 12 years with easy access to at least 2 supporting votes, Nan Whaley has had 8 years of at least 2 supporting votes- and what have they accomplished, or not accomplished so far? If you want to see change, this year, for the first time in 20 years, it’s possible to put three new faces on the commission.




Garden Station DEVELOPMENT threatened by “development”

Last night, Facebook lit up. It seems, that a developer has been picked for one of the two properties first reported here as being bought by the city for $450K ea, the former Supply 1/HD Supply on Wayne Avenue, and that Garden Station’s sliver of land next to the railroad trestle is included (a total of 7.7 acres). Now, this may be premature, the developer may have more brains than the people in city hall, and may realize that the value of having a vibrant community cooperative park with deep rooted (pun intended) support is a developers dream.

For any of you who don’t know what Garden Station is, (full disclosure, my company The Next Wave hosts and designed their website pro-bono) it’s a previously vacant strip of land that was once known as hobo heaven, a vacant lot, enclosed with a rusty fence, that sat barren and overgrown for years until a local visionary, Lisa Helm, had the idea of turning it into a community garden. She did this with the blessing of the city.


29 Jun 2013 12:20 Here is a copy of the lease and letters from the city in 2008 establishing Garden Station Garden_Station_2008_lease_and_letters

It’s become, in a very short time, a mecca of beauty downtown. It’s been a part of the 1st UpDayton summit action plan, where beautiful murals were added under the railroad trestle, and the recipient of tens (maybe hundreds) of thousands of hours of volunteer hours. It’s Dayton’s homegrown version of The Highline– a project in NYC that cost hundreds of millions more, also involved a train trestle, and has totally changed the value of the area around it.

It is economic development- and what’s best, is it’s the kind that can’t be duplicated, replicated or a value put on it- it’s homegrown, organic, unique, living and a powerfully pumping heart in our community.

Because I don’t believe Facebook is the place for content like this- I’ve included the entire post by Lisa and the board from last night. Dayton Most Metro had part of it.

I’ve also taken the documents Lisa posted and turned them into accessible PDF’s for all to see. The letter from Nan Whaley (which I am going to refrain from a public trashing for now) and the RFP documents from the city. Whaley letter garden station pdf

Image of Whaley letter on Gardent Station

Click on image to download full pdf of Whaley Letter to Garden Station

image of first page of RFP

Click on Image to download City RFP in PDF Document

Warm Greetings, Supporters and Volunteers of Garden Station,

It is with a heavy heart that I must let all our supporters know of plans of the City of Dayton to potentially destroy Garden Station in its current form to make way for future “development”.

Last year the city purchased the whole block south of us, the old HD building, and I was leery of their intent. I invited city officials on tours of Garden Station and inquired about future plans that might affect us. I was assured that they were looking at the block south of us for development and not the property we lease. In January I was informed of the posted RFQ “as a courtesy” by the Assistant City Manager Shelley Dickstein and asked for meetings with her and Nan Whaley. Their position was that we are on development property and in order to attract the best developers they had to include our property as an option, but developers may choose not to use it. They were supposed to let me know who submitted proposals after the January 31st deadline but I have not heard back.

Recently I have heard through the grapevine that a developer has been selected and plans are made. I do not know what those plans are but have heard from many community leaders including priority board members that once the city announces their plans it is often too late to act.

I am asking you, our supporters and creators to ACT by calling, emailing and mailing our officials to ask for:

1. Garden Station to remain on the site we currently occupy as an amenity to potential housing/retail developments on the block south of us as well as existing residents.

2. Furthermore that our property be preserved as green space under a land trust organization, with occupancy by Garden Station as long as the property is maintained at an acceptable level.

3. Include your reasons for keeping Garden Station and tell what your personal connections are to Garden Station

I know there are over 1000 of you who personally have done physical labor to build Garden Station and over 100 community groups and businesses who have contributed to its creation! Garden Station uniquely represents the heart and soul of Dayton better than any other place in our city, through unique local artwork, music, community events and connecting our citizens to each other!  Like the Whos in the beloved Dr. Seuss book “Horton Hears a Who” we need to make our voices heard that WE ARE HERE!

So that’s it in a nutshell, keep reading for more details, contact info for officials and benefits of Garden Station to the community. I am posting the original RFQ and a letter from Nan Whaley stating her position along with a list of organizations who have helped build Garden Station by volunteering or donating materials or cash.

More Details…

Last year when the city purchased the option to buy the HD site to the south of us I was suspicious of their intent and invited several city departments to tour the garden and see what we were doing, how many organizations were involved, and our future plans. They seemed enthusiastic and sent film crews back twice to take more footage to post on the City YouTube page.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RmzZkvSX1ec&feature=c4-overview-vl&list=PL267DE55B8BB9A101

Planning & Community Development Director Aaron Sorrell, ( 937.333.4209 333-3670  [email protected][email protected] ) came out to our Sunday Market a few times last summer and I asked him if the city had plans for our space.  He assured me it was not something they were focusing on and that it would be years before they would even look at it. He also said that our site is not great for development anyway because of the noise of the trains going by right next to it, and the long and narrow shape. (Also it is 3 feet above street level on Wayne and would need to be graded. Other Architects I have talked to agree that pretty much it is only good for a parking lot.)

I had been informed of the posted RFQ “as a courtesy” by the Assistant City Manager Shelley Dickstein ([email protected][email protected] (937) 333-3600 ) in early January 2013. I asked to give her a tour to show what we were doing at Garden Station and to show all the community businesses and organizations involved. She said she would meet with me and sent me to her assistant for scheduling. After numerous calls on my part I never got a response or a meeting.

I messaged Mayor Gary Leitzell on Facebook on January 21st to ask if he knew of the plans. He had been to my Christmas parties, donated a bathtub to Garden Station before he was mayor and had asked me about public art projects, grocery/coops, and had even paid part of my way to attend a food coop training to see if it would be a possible fit for Dayton.  I thought he was supportive of Garden Station. His response was:

“The RFQ for the warehouse across the street is inclusive of your site. It is not site specific, I believe. The city needs to make the best use of the entire site and a developer may have more interest if they have more options and street access. If I were in your shoes, I would request to view the quotes when they are in to see who made them and invite the heads of those selected developing firms to your garden to discuss ways that it could be included in the development as an open space. Even a buffer space between the railroad and the new proposed “whatever”. Focus on the opportunities you can offer a developer and not on what you stand to lose. I think a good number of people will rally to your side to work on a compromise.”

Mayor Gary Leitzell
City Hall, Second Floor
101 W. Third Street,
Dayton, Ohio 45402
937-333-3636 Fax: 937-333-4297
[email protected]

I arranged a meeting with Commissioner Nan Whaley mid January. [email protected]  She had been at Garden Station and I thought she was a supporter. But her position is that we are on “development property” and were never meant to be a long term project. To my thinking this means the community development we have done with thousands of volunteers and over 100 local organizations is not considered valuable enough in her eyes for the city to consider sustaining it. Her letter stating her personal position is attached. She stated that she would let me know what development proposals are made once they came in (on the RFQ you can see they were due by the end of January). To date I have received no information on development companies or proposals for the space.

Commissioner Joey D. Williams – [email protected] came to our EarthFest in April to hear about what was going on. He was not very familiar with Garden Station, did not recall hearing anything about our property on the RFQ and was going to investigate further. We have a meeting pending.

So it’s difficult to understand the City, they have named us a “Dayton Original”, awarded us many neighborhood mini grants for our lighting, stage, murals on Wayne and 3rd Street, wheelchair accessible garden beds, and outdoor kitchen; participated with us in “Parking Day” activities which promote more urban green space, appeared on PBS “Our Ohio” with us touting their support of urban agriculturehttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IB2iB5UHwO0 . We have also been included as an asset in reports of the Greater Dayton Downtown Plan.

Recently I got wind that a developer is in place and there are preliminary plans. Neither Nan nor Shelly informed us of this like they said they would. I have talked to other business owners, community leaders and priority board members who have advised me that the city tends to act first and get community input after the fact. This is not the way our government was intended to work.

If they are not going to let us know their plans until it is “too late”, then we need to make our voices heard NOW!

Commissioner Nan Whaley says we are on “development property”. It is interesting that they do not consider our development of the space a legitimate development option while I have spoken at regional planning conferences and spoken to officials where other governments are seeking to establish “developments” like Garden Station in their cities! Commissioner Nan Whaley also told me that they would not consider selling the property to us or a land trust to hold for green space.


 We are a unique attraction in downtown Dayton and have had visitors from all over the world stop to see us. We are on several travel sites including Roadside America and Trip Advisor. So many other “attractions” seem like cookie cutter copies that every city has. We have unique outsider art from all kinds of residents, examples of sustainable building techniques, demonstration gardens including a new food forest, a permaculture fixture that other cities brag about http://www.weather.com/home-garden/beacon-food-forest-20130620 , and we host all kinds of community groups from elementary students to UD and Sinclair student to the AARP.

We are providing education and demonstration of sustainable living practices in a time where more and more people are realizing the environmental frailty and nutrition-lacking aspects of our current food system. Our EarthFest was the largest Earth Day festival ever held in Dayton with over 30 free workshops for the public and over 30 local organizations participating. We are educating our neighbors to become more food secure and developing a more resilient local food system by training urban farmers in partnership with Omega CDC, Antioch College and Miami University. We are providing fresh, local organic food from our gardens to the public on Sundays when there is no other outlet for local food available in Montgomery County. We are providing fresh local organic food to seniors at Jaycee Towers and have the only rentable wheelchair accessible community garden plots in the area. Over 20 neighbors have community garden plots at Garden Station as well, including many urban dwellers without green space of their own.

We serve as an outdoor community center hosting all kinds of community organizations including meetings and non-profit fundraisers, art and music festivals, free music for First Friday featuring local bands, the Really Really Free Market, workshops, community potlucks, bonfires, rallies, weddings and more. Students from all over the Miami Valley from Elementary School to University have come for tours and volunteer days to learn gardening, art and green construction techniques.

We are an urban green space that serves all our area residents, created entirely by over 1000 community volunteers and donations, and over 100 community organizations and businesses.

Garden Station is created BY the community, FOR the community!

Please let our officials know you support keeping Garden Station as a community-created green space and the reasons you want to keep us!

Thanks for all your support! Garden Station exists because of support from our whole community!


Lisa Helm
Volunteer Garden Station Manager
[email protected]

Please write, email AND call!

Mayor Gary Leitzell
City Hall, Second Floor
101 W. Third Street
Dayton, Ohio 45402
Fax: 937-333-4297
[email protected]

City Commission Office
City Hall, Second Floor
101 W. Third Street
Dayton, Ohio 45402
fax: 937-333-4297
[email protected]

City Manager – Timothy Riordan   937-333-3600 [email protected] Assistant City Manager Shelley Dickstein  – [email protected],    [email protected] (937) 333-3600

Planning & Community Development Director – Aaron Sorrell – 937.333.4209 333-3670  [email protected]  [email protected]

elementary students from k12 help mud the straw bale shed

volunteers from C2 church

Bricklayers Local 22 apprentices volunteer on the entry

AARP volunteers build wheelchair accessible community garden beds

jess and crew of volunteers install electric for lighting

UD volunteers build the greenhouse foundation
Even if the “developer” was to place an urban grocery store on the property, anyone with half a brain would want to keep and work with Garden Station as a source of fresh, organic, locally grown produce. That would be the “highest and best use” for this property- although what is probably coming is some kind of mixed use development in the grand original building- and hopefully- demolition for the hideous pole barn- or a possible new skin. Also note- if we had bike share, in Dayton, parking requirements for this new development could be considerably less.
The real question now is, who is the developer and what are their plans?
We may be jumping to conclusions about the demise of Garden Station.
Hopefully, we’ll get something synergistic to Garden Station- which is my eyes is the most successful development Downtown Dayton has seen in 20 years on a dollar per return basis. It’s a true silver bullet- that came at the price of next to nothing for the city. Lisa Helm is a visionary- and her vision is something that should be preserved and supported.
Also note, it will be interesting to follow the money on this deal. The gamble of purchasing real estate with no intended, stated, public use is not what I want my government to be doing. Let’s see if the developer was also a donor to Whaley’s quarter million dollar special election fund.

Leitzell calls for opinion on Pace case and charter changes at Commission meeting

I reported last week that the Mayor was asking for discussion about the William Pace case against the Board of Elections and the City of Dayton in the State Supreme Court about his legal right to run as a write in: Leitzell calls for charter change discussion on petitions During today’s commission meeting he brings it up and asks the commission to weigh in publicly on what the direction should be.

Matt Joseph takes the weeny position that this has to be discussed in executive session because it’s a legal matter and the rest, follow suit. Except for Dean Lovelace who asks “is the system broken?” which is funny, because Lovelace was the leading advocate of electing commissioners by district after he had lost twice in general elections. Once he won in a special election to fill the seat that was vacated by Mark Henry, he forgot all about it.

This is not a case where there will be monetary damages against the city. This is one of procedural law, based on if the Charter or Ohio Revised Code takes precedence on the matter of write in candidates. The fact that they didn’t immediately go into executive session shows that the four Democratic commissioners have no interest in doing anything on this case.

As to the petition changes, they can’t take action either, other than to recommend it for consideration by a charter review committee. How hard is it to take a stand?

Apparently, Nan Whaley and Joey Williams need to go check with their benefactors to ask what position to take. When you spend a quarter of a million dollars of Other Peoples Money to get 5000 votes in a special election, you have to check with your bosses.

Leitzell calls for charter change discussion on petitions

Mayor Gary Leitzell in an internal email to the City Manager and the City Commission calls for the city to no longer waste money trying to keep candidates off the ballot:

I have read through the material submitted in the case that William Pace has filed against the Board of Elections. In that case he has named the City of Dayton as a defendant. The Board of Elections was fully responsible for the decision in his situation. As such, I want to go on record stating that the City of Dayton should not spend one dime of public money defending this case against the BOE. I would like to see this as a short discussion item on next Wednesday’s commission meeting.

That being said, I think it is time to make some charter changes regarding the petition process. We need to make the form simpler. A simple sign and print your name, eliminate the requirement of a notary and we need to bring the recall and public petition process in line with the State of Ohio to require 25% of the general electorate based on total votes in the last governor election.

Every election cycle someone takes issue and goes to the courts. This costs time and money for all concerned. Let us take this situation to make some positive changes for the future and simplify things so we no longer have to defend ourselves for misunderstandings that should not be occurring in the first place.

Gary Leitzell

It’s about time this discussion came out. Pace is simply asking for the right to run as a write-in candidate, where he has zero chance of winning. Of course, if he gets that right, the possibility of Leitzell running as a write-in as well may come up (although by being eliminated in the primary, he may be explicitly barred). Would write-in candidates upset the process? Probably not, especially in the no cost barred mayoral race. But, thanks to Leitzell being out of the fall election, he’s able to ask the question which would guarantee voters knowing how Williams and Whaley stand on these long needed changes, possibly becoming a campaign issue.

For the record, these are the minimal changes I asked for in the commission meeting weeks ago- even giving the commission a sample version of a simplified petition. Thank you, Mayor Leitzell.

From the “fiscally responsible” Commissioner, Joey Williams?

On the campaign trail, Commissioner Williams talks about how he brought fiscal responsibility to City Hall under his watch.

Sure, that’s why the city spent over $4 million first declaring part of Twin Towers blighted, then paying for appraisals, options and buildings in a 12 acre parcel over 5 years of his watch- with no contract from either the developer or Kroger for them to take possession of the parcel or to build a new Kroger.

We don’t talk about that.

Matt Luongo at the Dayton Revival

Matt Luongo, visionary, hero, concert promoter, at his brainchild, the Downtown Revival in Dayton OH Sept. 8, 2012

But, now, we’re going after Matt Luongo. Who? The guy that actually delivered something- a music festival in Downtown Dayton that bombed financially- but, was a pretty good freshman shot at doing something positive in the city.

Here’s parts of the story from WDTN’s Pam Elliot, who seems to be the only real reporter in town these days:

DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – It was supposed to put Dayton in the national spotlight and generate millions for the city. Instead, it’s left some people singing the blues and chanting “show us the money.” Even taxpayers are out for now.

2 NEWS Investigates obtained a letter in which the president of the limited liability company set up to put on the music festival, “Downtown Revival” reports more than a $200,000 loss and little hope to pay those he owes….

The trail of unpaid services doesn’t stop there. 2 NEWS Investigates found out your tax dollars ended up supporting what was to be a privately funded event. That’s because Downtown Revival, LLC hasn’t paid the City of Dayton either, and the city leaders who agreed to a contract with the company don’t seem to know where your money is.

When Mayor Gary Leitzell’s assistant told us he wouldn’t be talking about it, we approached the mayor at City Hall. He said he’d talk with us when he looked at the details. A week later, there was still no word from the mayor.

City Commissioner Nan Whaley did agree to an interview. “We’ll certainly try to recoup the money paid to the city for those efforts. We recognize, too, that Matt’s trying to do something, trying to support that effort but we’ll go after the money as well,” she told 2 NEWS.

The money amounts to more than $60,000 for help from police, fire, and public works. Our public records request produced only one check to the City of Dayton, that being for $10,000 dated September 7, 2012.

The City’s public information officer was reluctant to comment.

Pam Elliot : So is it in the legal department now?

Tom Biedenharn: No. It doesn’t necessarily have to go to the legal department.

Elliot: So what is the process?

Biedenharn: We work with the vendor.

Elliot: Is Matt Luongo or Downtown Revival, LLC coming forward with money?

Biedenharn: We are working with him.

Elliot: Are you confident you’ll get the money?

Biedenharn: Sure. Sure.

But 2 NEWS Investigates doesn’t know why the city is so sure it will get paid. Rice and Nye received an identical letter this year from Matt Luongo, President, Downtown Revival, LLC, which reads, “We will not have assets sufficient to satisfy any of our remaining liabilities. On behalf of Downtown Revival, I offer my sincerest apologies.”

The letter directs them to take their questions to Tom Whalen, attorney for Downtown Revival.

We did, but got no answers….

The city says the city manager’s office has been in conversations with Luongo to work out repayment, but if that doesn’t work, they’ll send the matter to the Finance Department’s collection program.

via Big dollars owed City and vendors | 2 NEWS Investigates.

For those who have no clue how Luongo got to do what he did, you might want to look at where he worked previous to his turn in the sun at the community’s expense. His father, former CEO of the Berry Company, opened doors for him- at the Dayton Development Coalition and then UD.

Director of Development, University Initiatives
University of Dayton
December 2009 – August 2011 (1 year 9 months)

Dayton Development Coalition
Director, Business Recruitment
2005 – 2009 (4 years)

Somehow, someone looked past the facts that he had no experience in concert promotion, wasn’t signing for anything personally, and had no personal assets on the line.

That’s fiscal responsibility Dayton Style, thanks to Commissioner Williams. As to Ms. Whaley, a local businessman told me she had no clue what an LLC was. Well, maybe now she does.

But seriously, folks, $200K is about what we pay Steve Budd at Citywide a year, it’s about what the Dayton Development Coalition spent on their annual meeting a few years ago where they brought in a Las Vegas artist to do a painting of John Lennon while spinning the canvas and giving away t-shirts in plastic tubes. This is small fry theft, but I’m sure Matt Luongo will be hung out the way Raleigh Trammell was too- while letting the big crooks walk.

(and btw- there are links that I could put all through this post- from old posts on Esrati.com talking about a lot of these things- but, that would take time- and I’ve got work to do. Wayne Ave. Kroger has its own category, search for Trammell, Luongo, Dayton Revival, etc.)