The forum of the people of Dayton?

I get inspiration from the readers of this site. I also get tips, kudos, slammed and damned. All of it OK, as long as it’s raising the level of discussion and making people think about things that aren’t necessarily on the top of people’s stuff-I-should-about list.

The recent post about the Downtown Dayton Partnership requesting the Occupy Dayton people to leave Courthouse Square during their Christmas tree lighting now has more than 200 comments. While some may scoff that it’s really driven by a half-dozen people having a pissing match, I read every comment and it makes me think as well. It’s part of the reason posts haven’t been as frequent lately (the other part is that the services of The Next Wave and my “honey-do” list have been in high demand recently).

In the course of the comments, reader Pat Offenberger, a man I’ve only met a few times via my runs for Dayton City Commission, said this about this site:

here, we’re given pretty free rein by David Esrati. I don’t know David well, and he and I disagree for a large part on politics, but I feel blessed that he has the same attitude about political discussions that I do, we can disagree, but there is no need to become disagreeable to each other. We can continue until we come to the fact we CAN agree to disagree. Another quality of David I admire is, though he has considerable more higher education than I do, he’s classy enough to hold a discussion without “talking down” to his lesser educated opponent. And he follows the credo that I was taught is the true test of an educated person. That you should be able to discuss things with people of your own level of education without boring them, or to a person with minimal education without making them feel they are stupid.

via Occupy Dayton IS the “Grande Illumination”.

Elections Not Auctions stickerTo me, this is what’s missing in politics in America. With our current system of auctions, instead of elections, screaming and sound bites have taken over civil discussion and debate. We’re looking at $4 billion being spent on “mass media” on 30-second mud-slinging at a time when we really don’t have time for it. The media has mocked the Occupy Wall Street movement, for many reasons, the main one probably being that this movement isn’t about to spend money running ads on Fox.

What’s missing in Washington, as well as in the Statehouse and even locally is a return of reason. The way to solve problems isn’t to become more disagreeable with each other- but to have a discussion that’s all inclusive.

Our local media has failed to grasp the importance of this dialog with their consumers/constituents/community. The only place to comment left with the obsolete Dayton Daily News online platform is via Facebook- and there it is even limited since all parts of the paper aren’t available online (a recent Op-Ed piece about local artist, and friend of mine, James Pate and his Kin-Killing-Kin series on black-on-black violence solicited comments- without providing an easy to find place to comment- my link is to a 2009 story about James). There are ways to engage a community through comments, using moderation software or building a system of registered users, but apparently, that’s not in Cox’s vision. And although the paper has improved vastly since January 2011 when the new regime took over; the recent article on Alaska Native Corporations being a shell for beltway bandits in government contracting and the expose of hospital billing practices are both great examples of real journalism, the one way direction of discussion is shortchanging this community.

I only have a few rules here for comments: use the same nick name when commenting- without making it an attack (Esratiisadog is not acceptable). Do not call each other names, although I allow people to call me names- I will edit slams of each other in ways you won’t like as the final voice on this site. Do not make accusations against others- without demonstrating that they are grounded, or informing me privately of your sources. I do try to follow up on all leads- and do attempt to verify stories of wrong-doing with my network of trusted sources. To those of you who have helped shed light on so many of the follies of the monarchy of Montgomery County I, and the people of our community, are incredibly grateful. I’ve managed to protect your identities and will continue to do so. has been online since Jan. 21, 2006. I’ve average a post every .86 days and you’ve contributed 8.02 comments per day- making this site more yours than mine. It’s been my hope, through my many attempts in running for elected office, to help set an example of what a modern elected representative could do to stay connected with the people they are supposed to serve. So far, it hasn’t worked. So, once again, today I’m going down to the Board of Elections to get petitions for a congressional run in a district that is undefined on a date that isn’t determined so that the people can have a choice to vote for someone who believes their voices should be heard above those who’ve been buying elections and influence. I have until tomorrow at 4 to turn in 50 “approvable” signatures of registered Democrats and a filing fee. I should have the petitions by noon- if you want to stop by 100 Bonner Street to sign, the help would be welcome.

The reason I included this little news release in the bigger story of this site serving as a forum for the people, is because I don’t believe running for office to be any more newsworthy than any of you applying for a job. The only thing that would be newsworthy is if by some miracle, the people did elect me and finally have a representative who believes in discussion and debate, wjo posted every working day of his term- what he did, what he heard and what really goes on in Congress. It is supposed to be the “House of Representatives” after all, and I believe I’d do a better job representing the people than the current corporate puppet we have in Ohio 3.

Thank you for being a reader and a contributor all these years.

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17 Responses

  1. Melissa December 6, 2011 / 1:25 pm
    DDN moved all of its Op Ed behind the pay wall (ie. the “online” edition that works about 65 percent of the time).
  2. David Esrati December 6, 2011 / 2:24 pm

    @Melissa if you pay for an iPad- and navigate to the printed paper view- you can see the editorial and Op-Ed- albeit in a format that’s a PITA and worthless.

  3. Cathy Mong December 7, 2011 / 2:35 am
    David, I don’t always agree with you, but I’d love to see you get elected to SOMETHING. Maybe congress is the place and now is the time. I’ll certainly sign your petition. And good luck.
  4. Mark Manovich December 7, 2011 / 10:09 am
     I wish that practiced what you preach.  Above you state that “Do not make accusations against others- without demonstrating that they are grounded”.  In an earlier post you stated that I “destroyed” South Park Social Capital Corp.  Your specific comment was “having served with him on the board of South Park Social Capital- an organization I founded- and he pretty much destroyed.” I challenge you to defend that accusation.  My simple proposal.  You submit the name of any person you respect to act as an artibrator.  We both present our view of the facts to that person.  Finally, we both agreed to abide to their decision.  If he agrees with you, then you can continue to make that comment to everyone at any time.  If the Arbitrator agrees with me, I want a post to your blog retracting your prior statement.  I gave way too much time and money to South Park Social Capital to let your comment go unchallenged.  The ball’s in your court.
  5. David Esrati December 7, 2011 / 1:47 pm

    @Mark Manovich- Yes- you put a bunch of money into SPSC- as did quite a few others. You were the only one left owning anything out of it. The biggest mistake was your push to rent to our first tenant- and to let her pick her own contractor etc. I questioned her history- including bankruptcy, lawsuits and poor business skills.

    Had we secured a better tenant- we would still be in business.

    I was against any one individual buying more than one share per year- I know it might have slowed things down- but it would have also spread risk. Both of those decisions directly contributed to the eventual failure.

    In the end, I don’t think any of the investors complained- Skinners is gone and we now have the South Park Tavern- the B-line is long gone (although the consignment shop does little to add to the neighborhood). You’ve gone on to become a major landlord in the neighborhood- with mixed reviews. 

    Overall, the neighborhood has improved- and that was our goal when we set out.

  6. Mark Manovich December 7, 2011 / 3:20 pm
    You didn’t answer the question.  Are you willling to go in front of an arbitrator, of your choosing, to resolve the issue of whether I “destroyed” South Park Social Capital?
  7. David Esrati December 7, 2011 / 6:09 pm

    @Mark Manovich, I don’t see the point. We’re arguing over the word “destroyed” or the fact that decisions made over 10 years ago were questionable?

    Nobody went to court to take the board on- or complained. It’s over. I doubt we have minutes to support allegations at this point. I still stand by my feelings- your influences and solutions took the corporation in a different direction than I envisioned.

  8. Bubba Jones December 7, 2011 / 6:26 pm
    >>> I still stand by my feelings– your influences and solutions took the corporation in a different direction than I envisioned. <<< – DE
    Ahhh, I get it now… Since the organization went in a different direction that you envisioned, it’s now destroyed.  Thanks for that clarification.
    But, David, you’re changing your tone from the original post.  As quoted by MM above, you originally wrote “an organization I founded- and he pretty much destroyed.”  Nowhere in that sentence do I see that you “feel” (from your latest response) that he destroyed the organization; you allege that he “pretty much destroyed it.”  Those are pretty strong words and I admire MM for calling you on it.  You have a very bad habit of writing things like that, David.  One of the latest ones is where you called someone a “tool” in one of your posts.  Is it any wonder that you have trouble getting people to cooperate with you when you do present a good idea?
    I say go ahead and accept MM’s challenge.  It can take place at Pizza Bill’s place (just trying to stimulate the local economy) and all of the regular contributors to can attend.  The outcome can be determined either by a vote of those in attendance (KAK’s desire for direct democracy) or a mutually agreed on arbitrator/moderator can decide who “won.”  Then the loser picks up the tab for the pizza and beer.  I’m sure that one of the more level headed people on here (R Vigh, Jesse, DL, Ol’ Bandito, GARY, et. al.) would be happy to act as the moderator.  Sounds like a fun night out!
  9. David Esrati December 7, 2011 / 9:03 pm

    @Mark Manovich- and @Bubba Jones- Honestly- it would take a ton of research, old documents, minutes, analysis to support a well informed decision by an arbitrator.

    Let’s put it this way: South Park Social Capital was created by residents of the South Park Neighborhood to secure a troubled bar and turn it into a neighborhood asset. The corporation had three directors, myself, Dr. Susan Dyer and Mark.

    While no household bought more than 10 shares total per 2 year enrollment period, with most in for only one or two (a share was $10 per month for 2 years via ACH) the idea was to leverage the many to be able to secure financing and move the project forward on the strength of a the collective investment plus a signed lease.

    The group succeeded in purchasing 2 troubled buildings- the former Skinners Bar at 1301 Wayne Ave and the former B-Line market at Oak and Warren. When the corporation went belly up due to the failure of our first tenant and then a second tenant- only one investor ended up with ownership of one properties- Mark Manovich. No other shareholder was left with anything but worthless stock in a defunct organization. Mark had done a 12 year lease on the top floor of 1301 Wayne at current value to secure the spaces so he could re-hab and rent two apartments. He lost his entire investment in this part of the project. It was his solution to come up with the shortfalls caused by the failings of the tenant he brought to the group (one that I protested and was out-voted on). It was an innovative solution to a problem that we shouldn’t have had.

    Saying Mark destroyed SPSC may be considered hyperbole, but the organization ceased to exist due to the lopsided financial position we found ourselves in due to his innovative financing.

    Had the group held out for a better tenant, held closer reigns on the rehab or sought more investors to make up the shortfalls- instead of entering into the lopsided arrangement- it may have continued. However, all of this is water under the damn- and the investors aren’t complaining about how things worked out (except Mark in my characterization of his approach and solution). I see no need to waste time on this- people can read my account- and Mark can defend his position on the deal – but to waste an arbitrators time on this is ludicrous.

  10. Hall December 7, 2011 / 11:18 pm
    David, many, many times when you type something up, you should step back and re-read it before you hit the “Submit” button. Think if it’s necessary to ‘insult’ someone or call them a name… 
  11. Mark Manovich December 8, 2011 / 9:28 am
    We would not be “wasting” an arbitrator’s time, as I gave you the option to pick anyone whose judgement you respect.  I expect that the arbitrator would do this for free, but I am willing to accept Bubba Jones proposal.  Your blog was the second time that you made a comment about me and South Park Social Capital.  The first time occurred a number of years ago in a comment you made in the Dayton Business Journal.  I let that comment go unchallenged (maybe you have a copy and will provide to this blog your exact comment about me) but I am serious about this proposal.  In my universe, I saved South Park Social Capital twice, including one time when I was no longer on the Board.  In your words above “When the corporation went belly up due to the failure of our first tenant and then a second tenant- only one investor ended up with ownership of one properties- Mark Manovich.”  This makes it appear that I was the only shareholder that benefited when the corporation went bankrupt.  You know the truth, the Board (which I was not on at the time) made an ill advised acquisiton of the Brown Street Market.  When the corporation was about to have the Skinners mortgage foreclosed on, I agreed to purchase the Brown Street Market at the price paid by South Park Social Capital ($50,000) which allowed the Corporation to continue to be current on its mortgage.  Finally, I did not vote my shares of South Park Social Capital regarding the sale of the Brown Street Market to me.  Thus I did not end up with ownership of one property as a INVESTOR in South Park Social Capital, but rather because I purchased the property to save that organization.
  12. David Esrati December 8, 2011 / 12:06 pm

    Yet another hi-jacked thread on

    Mark Manovich apparently is taking issue with my opinion of his performance on the board of South Park social Capital. There were places to address this- on the actual posts, when they occurred. Now, we’re having the discussion here.

    Note, if you do a search of “Mark Manovich” on this site– it appears 6 times- all because Mark decided to become a public figure by running for Dayton City Commission.

    Also note- I not only endorsed him- but, collected 152 signatures for him, without which, he wouldn’t have made it on the ballot.

    His campaign was a demonstration in futility, mostly because he was too arrogant and lazy to campaign hard. Putting up a few yard signs, buying a digital billboard in Morraine and starting a Facebook page long after his name was on the ballot should tell you a lot about how he approaches things. The election results should also be an indication- he was “destroyed” there as well.

    There are things in life that matter- how I characterize his performance and ideas regarding South Park Social Capital is really not an issue. Unless he wants to sue for libel- in which case, I guess we’ll be in court.

    Although he justifies his actions above- I still see his business decisions as being what led to the eventual failure of the organization. He was the guiding force in each of what I considered dangerous and poorly conceived moves.

    At this point- changing the word “Destroyed” to something else to appease his fragile ego is possible- but pointless. The place and time to have addressed it were long ago.

    Suggestions on better resolutions- I’m running for Congress now, and don’t plan on sitting on my butt.

  13. Hall December 8, 2011 / 1:09 pm
    David, you did it again….
  14. David Esrati December 8, 2011 / 2:11 pm

    @Hall- once you run for office, you better have a thick skin. I’m sorry, but, again- Mark wouldn’t take advice from someone who had run multiple times on what was required.

    I should request his campaign finance reports and tell you how much he spent on his futile attempt to get on the commission.

    This is a forum to discuss things- and sometimes, discussions don’t go the way we want. As you can see- my comments are getting a lot of thumbs down…. that’s democracy.

  15. Mark Manovich December 8, 2011 / 3:07 pm
    I am a lawyer, and that is exactly why I don’t want to sue you.  This issue does not belong in court.  Too often, in society today, people sue over matters that shold not be taking any court’s time.  I was trying to resolve a dispute in a mature manner.  How fair can I make it for you?  You can pick the arbitrator, you can go first, last or both.  I am not taking issue with your opinion, I am taking issue with your written comments.
  16. David Lauri December 8, 2011 / 3:16 pm
    David, you ask for “Suggestions on better resolutions.”  You also complain about the comments on this post, in which you announce that you yet again are running for public office, having been “hi-jacked.”
    I like you, David, and count you and Teresa as friends, and I think you do care about Dayton and have put forth an effort to make it a better place, but I think you’ve got a bit of a blind spot going on here.
    About Mark Manovich’s run for city commission, you say, rightly, that the “election results should also be an indication,” but that same statement could be applied to you.  The last time you ran for Congress, in the July 13, 2011 Democratic primary, you came in third, garnering 972 votes compared to Guy Fogle’s 1,889 and Joe Roberts’ 2,325.
    If you truly feel called to run for office because you want to win an election so that you can work on changing things from the inside, you have to change your approach to running for office.  That doesn’t mean that you need to morph entirely into the same kind of politician that we already have, but it does mean that you have to look at some of the choices you’ve made in the past and think about what you might do differently.  If, on the other hand, you run for office not because you want to win but because you want the forum being a candidate gets you, then keep on doing what you’ve done before.
    It’s great that you model what an ideal politician should do in terms of providing access and communication and the forum for interacting with the community that you have provided here.  It’s also great that by collecting signatures for Mark Manovich to run for city commission you modeled being a candidate who wasn’t out only to get himself elected but wanted to see more choices on the ballot. Things like that help to build relationships and get allies.
    But Hall’s absolutely right that “you should step back and re-read it before you hit the ‘Submit’ button” before posting something, that you should “think if it’s necessary to ‘insult’ someone or call them a name.”  What you should be thinking is, “Will this help my campaign or will it hinder it?”  That’s doesn’t mean, necessarily, that you have to be as coldly calculating as career politicians about every word you say, but I think part of the price of being a successful politician is knowing how to compromise, and compromise includes deciding whether or not to say something and, if you’re going to say something, deciding how to say it.
    Something that goes along with that is knowing when to apologize.  If it’s most important to always be right, then you won’t be a successful politician.  If you instead learn that sometimes it’s better to mend fences, perhaps you’ll be more successful.  Perhaps you’re right about Manovich’s having destroyed South Park Social Capital (I don’t know, and, oh my God, I don’t really want to know — I will not run for arbitrator and I will not serve if elected), but perhaps you might have found it better in the long run to have said something like, “Mark, perhaps my choice of words was too strong, and I apologize” and left it at that.
    It can be tough, I know, and I know that for myself I prefer to exercise the absolute freedom of speech I enjoy, knowing that I will never run for public office.  I don’t allow comments on my blog, I say what I want, and I don’t mind pissing people off.  That freedom, for me, is a privilege beyond any price.  If you want that same freedom, you might have to accept that you will never win public office (although you might enjoy running nonetheless for the platform being a candidate gets you).
  17. David Esrati December 8, 2011 / 5:50 pm

    @Mark Manovich I’m sure my choice of words was too strong, and I apologize. You did contribute more than anyone else to South Park Social Capital, and took a bigger beating than the rest of us.

    Thank you for your efforts.

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