The fear of speaking out and up

My last post was up for less than a day, before the owner of the restaurant in question kindly asked for me to take it down.

Unfortunately, the Internet doesn’t have a real delete key. There are many of you who can figure out how to read it by going through caches, by using the wayback machine- or looking in RSS feeds. Plus- a few really pertinent comments were added- that I don’t have a right to censor. So I password protected the post- and if you look around, or write me an e-mail- I’ll gladly give it to you. Of course, if you want to try your mad code-breaking skills- the password is a word from the post’s title- take a wild guess at which one… you’ll probably get it.

But- I posit to you, it’s this kind of fear of airing our grievances that has us where we are today in Dayton- facing huge obstacles to overcome, with leaders who fail even the most basic leadership skill tests. Those who have vision- often don’t have power, those with power- often only use it to keep their power to themselves. Those who study leadership know that you can only gain true power by giving yours away- yet, that is rarely done here.

We’re terrified of the new, the different, of speaking out and up- because we fear that those with very little power, use it to punish, to blackball, to ostracize, to ridicule.  I’ve often quoted Paul Woodie, one of the more interesting people to have worked in Dayton City Hall- who told me early on “In this town, you need a herd to be heard.” How true.

I’ve written so much about bad behavior by our elected “politicians” in this county- and even given them a name: “The Monarchy of Montgomery County”- yet, there has been no outrage, no investigations of merit, and very little punishment of those behaving badly. The wagons are circled, the lies protected.

A small chink in the system- in neighboring Greene County comes with the fall of the “House of Schmidt” to which the Dayton Daily opines:

The pattern is egregious.

In such a small town as Xenia, the truth had to be known — or should have been known — to a wide range of people in important positions. It’s simply hard to believe it wasn’t. After all, people were quitting out of frustration with the way the office was run. Others were unhappy.

The leadership of the Republican Party needs to take some blame. That party totally dominates elective offices in Greene County. With that power comes responsibility.

The fact that Greene County doesn’t have a vibrant two-party system fosters complacency in officeholders. The dominant party has to know that and keep its own eye out for bad behavior.

The Democrats also failed. That party has to pick its targets carefully. It missed one. Nor do the media have much to be proud of here. The story broke only because one employee finally went to the state.

Still, of course, the offender here is Mr. Schmidt.

via Editorial: Schmidt case has message for Greene leaders | A Matter of Opinion.

However, I beg to differ- the offender here isn’t Mr. Schmidt- it’s us, the people- who’ve sat in complacently while our “representatives” and the “system” that we swear by- continues to fail us, to embarrass us, and to cause our community to lose value and our values. That we haven’t risen up, spoken out and stopped the madness. The Dayton Daily just wrote a story about the coroner who is working three jobs- that they aren’t posting online- without a call to end the stupidity of electing a coroner. We had the sheriff and his appraisers, the city manager and his child porn-surfing grandpa on the payroll, the convicted rapist hired by his sister at the BOE, the father-in-law, the brother, the uncle etc. We’ve had welfare money handed out to convicted welfare thief – and family members benefiting from county real estate deals. We’ve had retroactive pay raises that weren’t approved by city commission, hell, they didn’t even know it happened, and all this- doesn’t make us wake up and scream?

What we’ve allowed to pass for leadership in the community is an embarrassment. And despite the criticisms hurled this way for my “negativity” – let’s be realistic-there are no voices other than this one calling for investigations, prosecutions and change.

But, you don’t have to accept me as a leader. That’s what at least seven (I think- I can’t even remember them all at this point) elections have said to you who are keeping count. Why do you keep running if you keep losing? Why can’t you accept that no one wants to hear your voice- we wish you’d just go away.

To all of you- my supporters and my detractors- I will share with you an essay by someone far smarter than me. You should read the whole thing- twice, and then print it out, or add it to your Kindle or iPad or even cell phone- and reread it every time you see our community stumble- and then think- what can I do to change things, how can I make a difference? Do I need to enter the fray by running for office? Do I need to support someone who has the vision? How will I identify the leaders I want to lead? And what can we do with the impostors we’ve got?

Here is an excerpt- and there were many I could have pulled- but this will have to do:

We have a crisis of leadership in America because our overwhelming power and wealth, earned under earlier generations of leaders, made us complacent, and for too long we have been training leaders who only know how to keep the routine going. Who can answer questions, but don’t know how to ask them. Who can fulfill goals, but don’t know how to set them. Who think about how to get things done, but not whether they’re worth doing in the first place. What we have now are the greatest technocrats the world has ever seen, people who have been trained to be incredibly good at one specific thing, but who have no interest in anything beyond their area of exper­tise. What we don’t have are leaders.

What we don’t have, in other words, are thinkers. People who can think for themselves. People who can formulate a new direction: for the country, for a corporation or a college, for the Army—a new way of doing things, a new way of looking at things. People, in other words, with vision.

via Solitude and Leadership: an article by William Deresiewicz | The American Scholar.

What is your vision? Who stands between you and achieving it? Is it your boss, your partner, your community leaders, the banks, is it you? Is it Inspector Gotcha? Do you need to go and read “Think and Grow Rich” by Napoleon Hill (only .89 for kindle)?

Do you feel a need to blame someone else for where we are?

Are you a part of the problem, or part of the solution?

Share your answer below.

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22 Comments on "The fear of speaking out and up"

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I don’t disagree with anything you’ve said here, David and I think you are right to question and call out corruption, nepotism, and bullshit in general.  Although you take a lot of heat, you dish a lot out, and I think it’s a good thing that you continue to put your name out there even though it brings you a lot of grief.  I think your blogging and challenging of the status quo is good for the community, whether people like your ideas or not, but I’m not sure that running for public office is the most effective way to bring change or leadership to this region.  I’m convinced that true leadership, whether in the public or private realm, is rare and it always has been, here or anywhere.  There are many places where true leaders are needed, but few to fill them.  There are also places where leaders can thrive or be stifled and I think elected office is not the place where we should expect true community leadership to come from.  I don’t mean that we should have low standards in our office-holders.  I mean that elected office is not the best context for a true leader to emerge or be able to effect change.  I think it comes from outside the system and that it always has.  If you look at our city’s history, the best leaders and visionaries were generally not our politicians.  Those who did the most for their community, country, or humanity in general, were not in elected office, but were just ordinary people who did extraordinary things because they gave a shit about others.  Leaders can and will emerge in lots of places and what I expect from my city is an environment that is conducive to allowing people who are acting in the best interest of the community to be able to do so without ten layers of bureaucracy.  I think that is lacking at present and we can all instantly think of examples, past and present.  (That all makes me sound like a Libertarian, which I am definitely not.)  In other… Read more »

Also, I really like that link.  Thanks!


Too bad nobody reads this bolg. Is it bc Harsman is sleeping with Hulsley too, or do they  hate David bc its all about esrasti.


David, why not share the data of where people are from that read it, i.e. their domains ? Of course, doing that might be your site on the ‘blocked’ list of various city and county networks.


You can track the visitor’s IP and who it belongs to, ie for me. You’re referring to the “referrer” value, as in what were they at before they came here.


I bet I could fill out my petition for office right especially if I did it yearly. Opps, what a waste of time unless you like to see your name in the paper.


See David you have sevem thumbs up. Thats more votes you received in your last election. EVERYBODY is reading David’s blog. He’s effin famous and popular, just ask him. David is a wimp. He can dish it out but can’t  get shit accomplished.


What’s all the hubbub, Bud?  Although I don’t agree with everything he says or stands for, I respect Mr. Esrati’s putting himself and his ideas out there and making a sincere effort toward what he believes would be positive change.  And some of his ideas are pretty damn good.
It’s interesting, too, that he hasn’t been elected:  we get the politicians we deserve.


When David is long gone, what is he going to be remembered for? Wearing a mask?  David has no sincere bone in his body as I can tell. Its all about him, just like any other politician who loves to see his/her face on TV. Bill Evans will be thought as a person who tried to make a difference, feeding the homeless. What is David doing except critizing everyone?

David does have some good ideas,he’s so abrasive nobody listens. Try and do it the positive way, and maybe more will listen.


I agree with you David. I DO need to get a life! Especially since I’ve been spending my entire day on this FOX NEWS type spot.

Teresa Lea

What is David doing except critizing everyone?

Just to name a few:
David runs and advertising agency (in Dayton), and he is regularly doing work at half what he should for local businesses just so they can have the chance to be successful.
Involved in running a chapter of Veteran Owned Businesses, VOB108, that works at bringing more growth and jobs to the area.
He lives local, shops local, eats local, sends his kids to DPS, works local, and generally walks his talk.
Spends countless hours investigating, writing, speaking to members of the community, providing information that many of you read on a daily basis – this he does during his own time, for no money, and obviously no fame.
Disseminating valid information to help enable people to run for office. David has mentioned countless times that his true goal is to get as many people as he can to run for office, time and time again the system is too discouraging – but instead of putting his tail between his legs, he steps up to the plate and practices what he preaches.
And yes, criticizing – saying what needs to be said, saying what no one else has the cojones to say, reminding elected officials that they were elected by US are here to represent US, and most of all that someone is watching and some of us give a shit.
But the most entertaining part is that this guy that is “abrasive”, “crazy”, “out of touch”, and that “nobody will every listen to” is regularly approached by city politicians, county politicians, journalists, business leaders, school officials, and even the FBI (!!) and asked for his opinion and/or praised for his cojones. After all, he wouldn’t be pissing people off if he was wrong all of the time.

kim collett

From Kimberly at Olive: (in reference to the whole wympee thing)
Just wanted to take a moment to make something clear. I did not ask David to remove his web commentary, due to fear of speaking out or up, I intend to do both!
David did not speak with me about the post before it went live (we’ve never spoken about my venture, he’s never once asked me for any information) and it had several major errors and a tone which I did not agree with, I offered for us to be able to collaborate on a piece that had more substance and less from the hip emotion to replace the piece posted. Especially, as it was my story, and he had put an entirely different and incorrect spin on it, based on a one line post on facebook, without ever speaking to me.
It is wonderful to have Daytonians willing to stand up and fight for you and with you, but I’d rather work as a team, and be proud of the collaboration and the outcome. Some of us are loud in our fights and some of us find other ways to make our mark, one is not less courageous than the other. We should respect those that are making efforts, and assist them in any way they require, not use them as a platform or consider them less strong.
David, if you’d like to actually help, we’re busting out the concrete floor with sledge hammers right now, I think you’ll find I’m no weakling.

David Lauri

I’ve been a fan of Olive’s on Facebook for a while, but if you hadn’t commented here on, Kimberly, I’d never have thought to go back through the posts on the Olive’s Facebook page to find your comment (not a post, just a comment on a post) that mentions your having to appeal the city code that requires the removal of the signs.
I can understand the pragmatism behind wanting to be less abrasive than David E and thus deciding not to make a big deal about getting permission to keep the signs, but I’m glad David E did post about the issue because otherwise I would never have known about it.
Care to elaborate on what the “major errors” are in the “gotcha” post?

kim collett
Sure, I’ll elaborate! The only reason I haven’t made a big deal about anything yet is because I haven’t been given any reason to fight for anything just yet! City code does call for old businesses to take down their signs, that’s totally normal, but they did let me keep them until I decide how I’m going to handle them, and then submit my drawings at that time and then they’ll decide if I need to appeal anything based on those official plans. So no fight yet at all, I would and will ask for support if and when we need it. (I took down that one line David had used in his article minutes after I had put it up, because I realized it was an emotional response and David was probably the wrong person to share that with, obviously he had already latched on to it). David went on to paint a picture of the tower neon being relit (the glass is a shattered mess and I’ve never had any intention of restoring it) and copied my christmas picture off our facebook page with the line “what else would go here” (referring to the wympee lettering) and the answer is a classy awning with Olive’s logo, is what will go there (you’ll be able to see the untouched lettering from underneath). So though I didn’t like David’s tone towards the city and that he put the piece up without ever speaking to me, I was more worried about people getting the wrong idea about what I intended to do with the space and him painting a picture I had no intention of following and based on absolutely no fact from me. If he had asked, I would have let David know that we are facing much tougher issues regarding bathrooms, accessibility and occupancy, and I would have gladly worked with him to put out a piece (he was not interested in doing a fact based piece to replace his wympee fight piece). Instead of admitting that the reason I asked him to take the piece down was because… Read more »
Teresa Lea

From what I read, David didn’t get a story wrong, he was giving his opinion about the sign and what he thought should be done. He said he likes the style of building and named off the 3 that were left in Dayton. Also in the part where he referenced you, not his opinion about the building, he quoted you verbatim – so I’m not sure how that is writing something not based in fact.
I understand that you are focused on your own business, naturally, but it seems to me David was just pointing out one OF MANY silly hoops the city makes small business jump though – not putting words in your mouth or spinning something. if you go to the home page and scroll down, you will see 2 posts down from yours a post about Moto Scooto – if you go back a little further you will see a post about Ghost Light, if you go back a little further you will see many, many, similar posts as this BS has been going on in Dayton for so long.

kim collett

I thanked David for his voice, and his work in calling out issues, even as I asked for him to take the article down or rewrite it with me. I was at Ghostlight’s BZA meeting to support them and I have read many of David’s posts, I understand the frustration and the issues at hand. All I asked is that he work WITH me to get points across when it involved our story, because we want to remain positive as we work towards our goal of not only getting open, but of helping open some dialogue with city officials that are actually in positions to do something about the process, if they so choose. It might not help much, but neither would sitting around griping and motion just feels better to me.
I wouldn’t want David to stop what he does, I would ask for a more collaborative approach, but that’s me. I would think he would support someone at least making an attempt, rather than say it’s impossible, as his website asks you to leave if you aren’t here to make Dayton better. I’d at least like my swing at it and I’d rather have David and people like him behind me, cheering me on. Maybe I’ll wiff, but I’m attempting to do something good for my family and the community with our little dive, I’m collaborating with every small business I can near our corner and I’m utilizing farmers and producers in our region on a very in-depth scale. I’m excited, I’m fresh in it and I’d like to earn my own cynicism if that’s what it comes down to!
I hope you all have a wonderful new year!

David Lauri

Just in case people haven’t seen it, Olive’s needs letters of support related to an occupancy issue with the city:

Donald Phillips
Donald Phillips

You’re all missing the point. The Wympee building is one of the last High Modern porcelain steel buildings in the United States. Removal of the sign is historical rape. “Olive. ‘An Urban Dive'” will last two years tops, and then Dayton will possess yet another structure sodomized in the name of Molloch. Shortly after that, no longer integral, it will be razed at  public expense.