Miller Lane compared to The Greene: Development by chance or choice

Miller Lane didn’t kill the Salem Mall, but it sure cost the taxpayers a ton of money. The Greene didn’t kill the Fairfield Commons Mall, or the Dayton Mall- but it also has cost the taxpayers a ton of money. The question is, which one gave us something worthy of the expense? And, why are the two developments in former farm land so different?

It comes down to jurisdictional differences for the most part- Miller Lane was built in an urban township and the Greene was built in a city which requires different zoning and regulations. We have different playing fields in the same competitive landscape, which create grossly different outcomes. Comparing the two a few years out, we find both have added costs to government in terms of police and fire response. At Miller Lane, they’ve talked about taxing workers to pay for police protection, and at the Greene, neighboring Kettering, which gets no revenue from the jobs or even the sales tax- has had to increase police responses to a small city built on its front doorstep.

Miller Lane started out as an outpost for WalMart with a new Sam’s Club. If you notice, it’s WalMart’s preference to move into unincorporated areas where zoning rules are much different than in cities. It’s been proven that the company is not above paying bribes to governments (in Mexico clearly, here- not as clear) to have their way in terms of transforming the landscape. We’ve also seen that these locations can just be temporary stops along the way- look at the empty former WalMart in Trotwood, or in Xenia, where communities are promised the world, but are only best friends until after the doors open. No master plan, no sidewalks, nothing resembling anything other than dropping buildings from the sky on streets not built for the kind of traffic that would come, so of course, to subsidize all this, the taxpayers had to fund the new highway interchange. Now, we’re looking at diverting more tax revenue to build the things that should have been required to begin:

And starting this summer, visitors will start to see other improvements to the area, including new sidewalks and lights to encourage more pedestrian traffic.

The sidewalks and lights are part of a 75-page report and recommendation from Jacobs Engineering of Cincinnati that creates a vision for the area that includes improved branding, bike paths, a community park and better-positioned RTA bus stops. Butler Twp. trustees commissioned the long-range plan last year that includes information and suggestions to develop, redevelop and connect the 552-acre area near the intersections of Interstates 70 and 75.

The report was shared with business people in the area this week, and though it has not been formally presented at a council meeting, all the trustees have seen it. It will be presented to the zoning board in March and the trustees in April. The report cost the township $50,000, which came out of TIF funds.

“Having a master plan is always a good thing,” Kolodesh said. His company has developed several areas along Miller Lane and is working on more. “We’re still working on plans with the township, and we purchased the bonds for York Commons Boulevard. We want to maintain our commitment to the area.” York Commons Boulevard is an east-west artery in the area.

All parties involved — from township officials to Jacobs Engineering to developers such as Singer — said no cost estimate or future job availability has been determined related to the plan. But they agree that as the area is made more attractive with sidewalks, improved lighting, foliage and street furniture, more businesses will sign on.

“I think it’s important for us to have an idea — and the township to guide — what we want that to look like,” said township trustee Mike Lang. “It could change along the way. This gives us a sort of cohesive vision about how to tie all that together.”

The area’s first development was Sam’s Club, in 1994, by Singer Properties, on the west side of Miller Lane. WalMart followed, then smaller businesses, restaurants and hotels.

Other than a township zoning board, no one guided the process, and parcels of land are owned by several different entities. There are very few sidewalks and plenty of parking lots. It’s mostly vehicle-driven. Even people who stay overnight in hotels might have to use their cars just to cross the street to a restaurant. Trustees want to make it a more pedestrian-friendly area.

“The most immediate concern is for the people who come and stay (in hotels) have an ability to get around,” Lang said.

The sidewalks will cost about $200,000 and be paid for by the area’s TIF fund. Future development will be paid out of the township’s general fund, state funds, grants and possible levies.

Outlined in the report are several items to enhance the area, including:

  • Sidewalks will be laid this summer on Commerce Center Drive from Benchwood to the Sam’s parking lot.
  • Signage will be erected at the northern and southern ends of the development.
  • RTA bus stops will be repositioned for better access, and cutouts will enable buses to pull over and not block traffic.

Trustees also are considering creating a park or gathering place for events that would be surrounded by businesses and condominium-type housing, which would require some rezoning.

Paul Cutler, director of community planning for Jacobs, said there has been no plan for the area until now.

“That all happened through chance,” Cutler said. The township wants to play off the positives and carry through in subsequent developments.”

via Miller Lane seeing more growth.

And while The Greene also has a TIF and a JEDD and a bunch of diverted tax improvements for the benefits of the owners, the entire process did a few things very different with a very different value outcome. The Greene provided for pedestrians from the start, and also included housing. Its mixed use has attracted a live-work-play ecosystem that efficiently utilizes a much smaller footprint and an existing highway exit (yes, roads had to be widened). And while there was some shuffling of business into The Greene from other locations, it also brought genuinely new businesses to the area.

At the root of this comparison is the question of the value of zoning laws- do they have value to the community or not? While some argue that Houston Texas style no zoning is a driver of growth, we can look at these two developments and analyze which approach gave us more for our bucks. I’m pretty sure that in the long run, The Greene will show a much more effective investment for the taxpayers due to it’s holistic approach and focus on the human experience over Miller Lane’s focus on business bottom lines.

It’s time Ohio addresses the lameness of the urban township existence in a modern world. By leveling the playing field, simplifying jurisdictions and reducing the number of different jurisdictions we will see our tax dollars invested in better designed and thought out developments that return real value for our increasingly limited tax dollars.

It’s time to not play favorites with tax dollars anymore

Our country was founded on the principle that “all men are created equal.” Yet our local elected leaders seem to think it’s good government to redistribute our tax dollars from the poor to the wealthy while rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.

To summarize, Heidelberg Distributing is moving its HQ and at least 270 good jobs from Dayton to Moraine. The County ED/GE fund is contributing a pittance to this project, $235,000 of your tax dollars to help this happen. That money could have been used to put 3 more police on the street for a year to protect all of us, or as part of turning Dayton (the region) into a gigabit internet community- a project that would make everyone more competitive- not just Heidelberg.

What makes this deal suck even worse is that Heidelberg is already in a business that’s created and protected by  state laws requiring all alcoholic beverages to be sold by middlemen. This isn’t freewheeling capitalism at work, you or I couldn’t become an alcohol distributor if we tried. How would you feel if you were Bonbright distributing company- which is still in Dayton, knowing that part of your taxes are being given away to your arch enemy?

Heidelberg Distributing Co. is breathing new life into the long-shuttered former Cooper Tire & Rubber Co. warehouse at 3601 Dryden Road, investing $21.2 million in renovations and planning to move its north Dayton operations to the mammoth former industrial building in about six months….

Heidelberg officials said the company will borrow a projected $16.8 million, provide $4.2 million in private equity and use a $235,000 ED/GE grant approved by Moraine and Montgomery County officials to pay for the renovations and improvements.

“It is humbling to be working on a $20 million project that will outlive us and which will be here for generations,” said Heidelberg CEO Vail Miller Jr.

via Long-vacant warehouse receives $21M revamp.

I haven’t had the pleasure of knowing Vail Miller Jr., and I appreciate his company’s long commitment to Dayton (the region and the city). The jobs that he provides are crucial to my imbibing friends (I’m a teetotaler). The excuses that were used in luring GE, or for arranging a sweetheart deal to keep NCR here aren’t applicable to retaining Heidelberg here- his is a distribution business, centered in our area to serve our area. There is no way this business could locate in Sidney and still be profitable due to fuel costs alone.

It’s time to stop redistributing tax dollars and only invest our tax dollars in infrastructure and services that are accessible to all and don’t play favorites. It’s time to invest our tax dollars in things that make our area more competitive and attractive to people outside our area, to lure them here, not to pay ransoms to keep them dancing with the ugly girl at the prom.

Dayton (city and region) should have some pride. Mr. Miller should graciously decline the ED/GE money and direct that it be used for something that would help all businesses- like Gigabit Internet which would give the region a competitive advantage, not just save him rounding error on his amazing new facility.

It’s not “your money” to build Huber Heights Music Center, Councilman Campbell

What happened to Memorial Hall once the Victoria reopened, and then what happened to the Victoria once the Schuster opened? Or what has happened to Hara Arena since UD Arena, the Dayton Convention Center and then the Nutter Center opened? What is the utilization rates of all these venues? Hint: our population hasn’t grown at near the rate of the seats and spaces for events.

Now Huber Heights is being run by? Concert Promoters? Really? I’ve known Mick Montgomery (Canal Street Tavern) and Jerry Gilloti (Gillys) for years and I doubt there is anyone who knows the vagaries of booking music acts better than these two men, and I’ll place a bet neither of them would say Dayton can support a “Fraze 2″ in Huber Heights without cannibalizing the track record of the Fraze.

(Huber Heights Councilman Mark) Campbell said Huber Heights hasn’t identified how the music center would be funded, but didn’t rule out potential sources such as federal grant money, sponsors and selling the venue’s naming rights. That could generate about $6 million to help offset the cost, Campbell said. TIF money also could be used to build it and once the music center is fully operational, Campbell projects it would generate about $500,000 in profit per year.

City officials said the music center would not compete with the Fraze Pavilion in Kettering, a popular 4,300-seat venue that opened in 1991. The $2.6 million venue was funded 100 percent by community donations, according to Amy Berlean, Kettering’s community information manager.

Campbell hopes the city can work with Kettering to “enhance the region.”

“The Fraze doesn’t have the same type of location we do,” Campbell said. “They have longevity. The buzz in government is cooperation and working together. It’s a really good opportunity to put our money where our mouth is. What’s good for us is what’s good for the region, and vice versa.”

via Huber music center creates high hopes.

There used to be a lot more ice rinks in town before Kettering built one with tax dollars. Dayton had a Moore’s Nautilus downtown until they sunk millions of tax dollars into Joe Moores competition- the downtown YMCA and Joe closed his gym and said goodbye to Dayton. There is a reason you don’t see private libraries- who could charge for entry and renting books when there is a tax supported library that doesn’t charge? Private swimming pools also have struggled as have private golf courses that are priced for the “common man.” The list goes on.

The sad truth is that The Fraze didn’t make money for a good number of years. Finding and retaining the right mix of a successful promoter/booking agent, advertising, good weather and the right acts on the right days is almost a black magic art. Big names won’t even stop at a venue in a small market on prime weekend nights, and only if they are on the way between other gigs. This isn’t as easy as build it and they will come. Some idiot has even thought that Dayton could support two professional hockey teams at once which was a joke. UD and WSU won’t even play each other in basketball- and WSU has never been able to come close to filling the Nutter the way UD does for hoops. There are many factors at play and no guarantees.

If we had regional government, this wouldn’t even be on the horizon, but we don’t. Last I checked, Huber Heights citizens wouldn’t vote to increase their taxes for a needed school levy, yet the city council seems to think that they should speculate $18 million on a concert hall? Mr. Campbell talks about “putting our money where our mouth is” and misses the point- it’s the people’s money and they would prefer to use it to put food in their mouths, than support a concert venue that may or may not make money, but will most definitely cost them premium dollar to go to.

Kettering has evolved over the years into a model for a balanced and effective community that seems to put the needs of its citizens first. Good schools, good neighborhoods, good parks and recreation. If Huber Heights thinks it’s ready to be Kettering 2, that’s fine, but the problem is, very few followers ever manage to move to number one by doing the same thing. And, people willing and able to plop down $50 or more per ticket to concerts are a shrinking market as those in the know will tell you.

All this “development” is just sprawl being mislabeled, just like “our money” is. Huber Heights doesn’t exactly have a track record of developmental success with “The Heights” a multimillion dollar housing boondoggle in the same area as this mythical music venue. This concert venue is unneeded and unnecessary and unrealistic. Find other ways to spend tax dollars to improve the city, without killing one of our region’s true gems- The Fraze.

Merry Christmas, and here’s the tax bill

Fiscal cliff or no fiscal cliff, reeling in federal spending isn’t going to make a difference, you’re still getting stuck with the bill. No matter what the feds do to tax the rich, or keep the Bush tax cuts in place, local governments have been squeezed at both ends.

Federal dollars from “the stimulus” are drying up, state dollars were cut, then cut again and property tax collections are still lagging thanks to the drops in property values due to the “too big to fail” failures of the wizards of Wall Street. Even sales tax revenues have dropped most places thanks to on-line retailers not charging sales tax in states where they don’t have a physical presence (Amazon doesn’t charge sales tax in Ohio for instance). And, despite cuts to your public safety forces, services and trying to squeeze every last dollar of savings, the local governments are still hurting. Schools can’t pass levies and now parents are having to pay for extra-curricular activities and maybe are even driving their kids to school.

Now, we’re seeing communities like Riverside discounting the tax credit on income taxes collected earned outside Riverside. Without a public vote, the Riverside Council just made the effective income tax rate on their residents who work in Dayton 3% and if they work in Oakwood, 3.25%. Watch as other communities follow suit. Beavercreek is considering its first income tax- which will supposedly be countered by some discounts in property taxes, and even Oakwood is considering some changes, because they are going to lose millions they’ve counted on in the past, disappearing due to the repeal of the estate tax.

Since none of these taxing districts consider themselves as additional overhead- every single one of them believes that their little government is worthy of existence despite the fact that most citizens couldn’t name more than half the names of their council if they were asked.

Already a group is working to place the issue on the ballot in Riverside. Of course, since Riverside is run with a modern charter, their residents, unlike Dayton, can actually petition their government:

According to the Montgomery County Board of Elections, 638 signatures are required, which is 10 percent of the votes cast for the last governor’s race in 2010.

via Tax credit reduction challenged.

In Dayton, it would take almost 14,000 signatures to put it on the ballot- which is about half of the turnout in the last governors’ race. It takes almost that many signatures just to run for Commission in Dayton.

So, no matter what you think of Congress, maybe, we should start looking locally at redundancy and waste in local government. Waste like paying Commissioner Lovelace until he has his 20 years in for retirement, despite his missing almost a year of work. Waste like paying to tear down houses that we don’t own, because we’re too scared to hand the bill back to the owners. Waste like having so many councils, commissions and school boards in a county that’s been staying the same population for the last 30 years but has allowed sprawl that’s costing us a fortune. Or, waste like buying buildings that have no public purpose, or funding private businesses with tax dollars based on how much money they donated to the politicians’ campaigns.

A government by the people, for the people wouldn’t keep growing beyond our ability to pay for it. It’s time to rightsize the patchwork of local governments, school boards, public safety and tax districts into a much simpler, more efficient system. Call it regionalization or reinventing government, but it’s an idea that we can’t ignore anymore.

Not unless you want to keep getting stuck with the bill. Merry Christmas.

Dayton’s culture of fear

If you’ve been in Dayton for any length of time, you’ve come to realize that we don’t have 6 degrees of separation, we have about 1.2. You’ll see it in your connections on LinkedIn and Facebook. Hardly any of my 1,500 friends on FB in Dayton only have 1 friend in common- and people who connect with me usually have a posse of shared friends. Same on LinkedIn where almost all my connections share a connection- very few are 3 people away meaning that neither of us know one person who knows us both- but that we both know people who know each other.

So why the focus on this seemingly positive, small community in a post about the “Culture of fear”- because we worry too much about what our friends might think if we take an actual stand on an issue.

I spoke to a friend whom I’d helped recently- and asked for a recommendation and got this answer “Oh, but I can’t say that publicly, I don’t want to raise any waves.” Another friend, lamented to me that despite his long-term work for a politician and strong support- he was unable to get an endorsement. Of course, if he wins his upcoming race- everyone will be his new best friends. Ask the Mayor of Dayton, Gary Leitzell, who ran against an incumbent who raised 6x as much as he did- if people talk to him now who wouldn’t give him the time of day before. Or, the supporter who isn’t willing to give $200 to your Congressional campaign because it reports to the FEC, but has no problem writing a check for $199. I’ve heard people use the excuse that they can’t support a challenger to an incumbent because they are on the board of a non-profit and wouldn’t want to risk support to their charity should the challenger not win.

Have a great idea? First question out of possible supporters- “has this been done somewhere else before” – this is from people in a city that takes great pride in being the birthplace of aviation. Were people asking the Wright brothers that question- and then ignoring the idea just because no one had ever flown in a heavier than air machine before?

Our community is paralyzed by this culture of fear. We’re immobilized forever as if caught in concrete and cast in bronze. Why can’t we do regionalization right and do it now? There are plenty of examples that government can be done in a more unified way across this country- but we still won’t act. The English had rules about the taxation of tea, did the founding fathers just sit around and accept the stupidity of laws and taxation from afar? Our rules about jurisdictions in Ohio come from the Northwest Ordinance of 1785- do you think it’s time to update them?

When will the real leaders step forward and start making changes? When will we stop worrying about not upsetting the status quo? When will we set our sights on accomplishing things that have never been done before instead of sheepishly crawling in long after the process or program has been thoroughly tested and proven.

It’s hard to be a visionary looking forward in Dayton, Ohio, when the whole culture is focused on watching your own back.

The next Montgomery County Administrator? Clay Mathile?

Clayton Mathile portrait

Clay Mathile

If New York City can have the services of Michael Bloomberg for a dozen years, why can’t Dayton benefit from having local business legend Clay Mathile take the helm as the new Montgomery County Administrator now that Deb Feldman has found her soft landing which so many of our local political has beens seem to find.

Instead, our county commission is announcing the de rigueur “national search” to find Feldman’s replacement:

Deputy County Administrator Joe Tuss will be named interim county administrator. County Commission President Judy Dodge anticipates a national search for Feldman’s replacement.

via Feldman named new CEO of Children’s Medical Center.

Feldman’s leaving this year came as no surprise to anyone, it has been known for over a year by insiders. The real question is why, if Feldman was such a capable leader, do we need to do a search at all? Why hadn’t she groomed a stable of capable replacements. As I’ve said before, true leaders build organizations that can continue smoothly after they leave. Despite various pundits claiming Apple without Steve Jobs was doomed, its stock price has almost doubled since Jobs’s death and the profits keep soaring. Granted, the real question comes after 2-3 years to see if the product innovation pipeline continues to deliver smash products, but for now, look at how smoothly the company transitioned leadership.

Why Mathile?

Besides being well known in the region, he’s also someone who chose to build a business here and did it successfully. His focus on high-performance organizations has been backed up with his kind donation of Aileron to the community- a business institute committed to improving businesses for the health of our community. He knows our community well, as well as all the major players and could be the one leader who is capable of moving regional cooperation and consolidation forward without having any of our mini-fiefdom leaders toe the line and get in step.

And of course, while we’d be more than happy to pay him what Feldman makes or more, I’m pretty sure he’d work for a $1 a year, and attract a whole bunch of new talent to the ranks of county government of young bright talent who know the value of the experience of working with a business tycoon. Gone would be the legions of sycophants and patronage peons who grace every floor of the county building, putting in their time for their almighty pension payoff.

Sure the argument can be made that at 71, why would Mathile do this? Bloomberg seems to have found new energy as mayor of NYC and would have been more than happy to serve another term. If Bloomberg can, why can’t Mathile?

Our region needs a transformational leader more than ever, and the short list of possible candidates is small. My second choice would be to recruit David Hopkins from Wright State or possibly Dan Curran from UD. Former hospital network CEO’s could also be on the shortlist.

If we’re going to rebuild this community, we should begin by realizing that we have local talent, we only need to look around and think of what could be, instead of what we’ve done in the past. The past is what got us here, time to move on.

I welcome your suggestions, comments or candidate submissions on this post.

 

 

 

How to REALLY save money on dispatch Brookville and others…

The argument Brookville is using to justify splitting from the Regional Dispatch Center and buying dispatch services from Englewood is saving money. Early termination fees will cancel the savings making this “cost saving move” a non-starter according to the Dayton Daily News today:

Brookville is considering breaking from the RDC to join Englewood’s dispatch center at a cheaper price. Last year, Brookville paid $98,213 to the RDC, but Englewood has offered dispatch services to the city for $48,000 a year on a three-year contract.

“I’ll go back to my council and see what they say next Tuesday,” said Brookville city manager John Wright. “The whole thing (moving to Englewood) was to save money. Now, I’m not.”

via Brookville’s dispatch change would be costly move.

But if the citizens of Brookville really wanted to save money- they’d simply merge with Englewood. From the facts page of the City of Brookville site:

The Brookville Police Department serves a population of 5,289 (2000 census) and covers a land area of 3.3 square miles.

via City Of Brookville – Departments.

Englewood is exactly 2x as big by geography and 2.5 times as big by population:

The population was 13,465 at the 2010 census…  the city has a total area of 6.6 square miles

via Englewood, Ohio – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Throw in the throwback of Butler Township:

As of the 2010 census the population was 7,894.

via Butler Township, Montgomery County, Ohio – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

And we add all those up and we have a population of 26,648 – which is what the minimum population should be in order to have to support a police chief- as well as all the other offices that each of these fiefdoms carries- a city manager/township administrator, director of finance, mayor, council, trustees, economic development people, zoning etc.

We could eliminate over 100 taxpayer paid jobs that deliver service at a ridiculously high overhead rate.

Dispatch isn’t what’s costing the people of Brookville too much- it’s the entire pride issue of having a city.

For all the talk about taxes being too high and government being too big, we could start by changing the rules that govern jurisdictions in the State of Ohio to cut the costs and overhead considerably by forcing larger size standards to be required to receive any State tax dollars. We’d see instant savings and hopefully- weed out a whole bunch of micro-managers who only have jobs due to our insane system of partitioning up our state- which dates back to the Northwest Ordinance of 1785 that divided up our state into the boundaries we’ve stuck with for no good reason.

That’s how you save money.

 

The secret group trying to do regionalism without telling anyone: One Dayton

please note: this is a long post for esrati.com, but it is the unveiling of a secret group that is already spending your tax dollars with favored political consultants to advance a cause that can’t be spoken of in public… yet. I hope you find it useful and informative.

A group has been meeting to begin a regionalism movement in Montgomery County, and as always it’s being done behind closed doors because we, the people, aren’t smart enough to participate until they’ve planned and announced their grand strategy.

Businesses have been contacted and asked to pledge money, and a non-profit 501c4 has been set up, and once they had enough pledges in hand, they were to crawl up the mount to ask the great Clay Mathile for his blessing and support.

Only one problem: you don’t do regionalism behind closed doors. Ever.

Not unless you want it to fail- which is exactly what Ms. Deborah Feldman, the criminally negligent county administrator, is trying to do by undermining the process by attempting to sneak a contract to her good friend Bill Burges (the “levy master” ) in Cleveland.

That contract was issued and voted on at the June 14, 2011, County Commission meeting, item 11 0959 for $197,000.

The request was sent to only five consultants, and only Burges responded. The fact that he included two of the other “consultants”- Jack Dustin of WSU and Don Vermillion of UD (and former county administrator) in his proposal pretty much sealed the deal. Two others, one in Cincinnati and one in Indianapolis didn’t respond. With less than a month to respond, Burges submitted a 22-page document: “PUBLIC DIALOGUE ON REGIONALISM”

What is odd, is the people selected to be the “fiscal agent” for the program: one of the signatures on his proposal, Deborah L. Norris of Sinclair Community College. Dick Ferguson of UD, who works for UD President Dan Curran, is also a contractor- for a project run by his boss, Curran.

So, let’s follow the money roundabout. County Commissioner Dan Foley, City Commissioner Joey Williams, UD President Dan Curran, Chamber of Commerce President Phil Parker, former chamber pogue and now head of hospital lobby, GDAHA Brian Bucklew start up a non-profit 501C4 called One Dayton. Dayton attorney Josh Chernesky is the statutory agent. 7/13/2011

The stated goals:

A. To promote the social welfare of the citizens of the Miami Valley;
B. To research, develop and promote the distribution of information about the benefits of regional collaboration;
C. To improve prosperity and competitiveness of the Miami Valley by acting as a catalyst for regional service consolidations;
D. To initiate and implement collaborative economic development efforts;
E. To encourage the development of public policies that will lead to greater economic opportunity and a better quality of life for citizens of the Miami Valley; and
F. To engage in any lawful act or activity and to do all things necessary, convenient, or expedient to further the general purpose of the corporation either alone or in association with other corporations, firms, associations or individuals.
SIXTH: The corporation shall have no initial members.
SEVENTH: No part of the net earnings or assets of the corporation shall inure to the benefit of, or be distributable to, its members, directors, officers, or other private persons, except that the corporation shall be authorized and empowered to pay reasonable compensation for services rendered and to make payments and distributions in furtherance of the purposes set forth in Article Third hereof.

So if you read it the way I do- 6th says no members, and 7th says we can pay people who aren’t members- but once membership has been declared- we can only pay reasonable compensation.

Yet- right off the bat, the county commissioners commit $197,000 of your tax dollars, to a consultant out of Cleveland, almost 30 days before the non-profit has even been incorporated. Of that, there are four $27K payouts to Sinclair, Central State, WSU and UD, $25K for “seed money” for a 30-minute TV show on regionalism (total cost not quoted) and $54K to Burges & Burges for consulting and $10K for long-distance travel and expenses. The only sure thing seems to be managing 3 summits.

Note, much of this is before the election for the County Commission- a way to put Judy Dodge and Deb Lieberman in the public eye at public expense.

Funny that the final report and rollout is described this way:

After the November election, (bold italics added for emphasis by esrati) co-chairs will finalize and roll out a final report including key goals, major opportunities, serious problems and obstacles, clear strategies and tactics for how to achieve change and expected impact and results. This report has the possibility to be a roadmap, designed by local leaders and citizens, hard for any elected officials and others to ignore.

Why the election cycle is even mentioned in the proposal should raise eyebrows.

This part about sponsorship should also be seen by all. Burges includes names and categorizes them as cash donating suckers and donation in kind friends for us:

The following organizations could serve as financial supporters, in-kind resources, key communicators and community outreach vehicles to strengthen the process and advance participation and results.

  • Cox Media
  • Central State University
  • City of Dayton
  • Dayton Area Chamber of Commerce
  • Dayton Bar Association
  • Dayton Development Coalition
  • Dayton Foundation
  • Dayton Power and Light
  • Greater Dayton Hospital Association
  • Sinclair Community College
  • THINK TV
  • University of Dayton
  • Wright State University

The following organizations could serve as in-kind resources, key communicators and community outreach vehicles to strengthen the process and advance participation and results. Some may also be sponsor candidates. All will be asked to generate publicity, attendance and conduct satellite summits.

  • Congressman Michael Turner
  • Dayton Business Committee
  • Dayton Metropolitan Housing Authority
  • Dayton Metro Library
  • Dayton Most Metro
  • Dayton NAACP
  • Downtown Dayton Partnership
  • Five Rivers Metroparks
  • Generation Dayton
  • Greater Dayton Regional Transit Authority
  • League of Women Voters of Montgomery County
  • Local library systems
  • Montgomery County ESC/Dayton Public Schools
  • Montgomery County mayors, managers and trustees
  • Parity, Inc.
  • Organized labor
  • Our Common Heritage
  • State Legislative Delegation- Bipartisan House/Senate Representatives
  • United Way of the Greater Dayton Area
  • Up Dayton and Communications Council
  • WVSO
  • Other civic, faith or media partners

When it comes to Burges & Burges’ qualifications- he gives a long list of his teaming partners – like WSU and UD working together- and then only gives his organization cred for doing levy work. He does claim to “Serving as the lead consultant for winning the election for Cuyahoga County Reform” yet doesn’t say what he actually did, or how he did it (and leaves out the fact that the impetus was an FBI bust for rampant corruption in government)- much more was said about what he’s done here.

B&B has had a long-standing engagement with Sinclair on strategic, research and communication projects; and collaborated with the Fitz Center on projects such as the Neighborhood School Centers, regional dispatch and the DPS Levy [Issue 52]. B&B has also worked effectively with many other IHE’s for 28 years, and its principals have decades of higher education experience.

They go on to say:

We know the area well, after years of work for the Human Services Levy, Sinclair Community College, Dayton Metro Library, Dayton Public Schools, the Miami Valley Regional Planning Commission, GDRTA, the Greene County Public Library, Greene Memorial Hospital, Miami Valley Career Technology Center, United Way and others.

He also adds:

We have worked well with area leaders, are members of the Dayton Area Chamber of Commerce, in the Miami Valley weekly and have an office located at Shook Construction.

The list of people on his team include five from his office and a really long list of people from the “partner” universities and their accomplishments.

What blows my mind is that this same approach, of town halls and summits etc. was just done by the Miami Valley Planning Commission- which had very little public engagement, cost a lot more – and basically told us that sprawl and overbuilding us are killing our ability to afford the infrastructure. Yet, MVRPC- our own REGIONAL PLANNING COMMISSION wasn’t asked to bid on this program. Nor were local people who have been working on this and who registered the domain name OneDayton.org-  Dayton Most Metro, Bill Pote.

They, along with other groups who could have managed this “strategic initiative” like local agency “The Ohlman Group” weren’t asked to bid. Nor was anyone from the “poster-child-for-regionalism” community of Louisville. Other documents obtained by this author would suggest that the core leadership group had a different plan on the table, but something made the County Commission pull the trigger early (maybe because of budget cycles, or maybe to pre-pay for on the side election polling assistance).

Considering regionalism is something that requires a broad based, non-political, well reasoned public support, the fact that the first money that the group spends publicly, without clearly identifying who is behind this initiative – is hand money to a political operator from outside the region to plan the “educational component” of the program.

Commissioner Foley, who has been the sole Montgomery County Commission voice on this project, seems to have convinced the two candidates up for reelection that spending county dollars to have them front the forums will be good for their re-election campaign, and that they can probably pick up tips from Burges on running their campaigns based on his polling. I’m sure Burges will do fine- like he did on Rhine McLin’s reelection campaign.

The way to do regionalism is out in the open. With a very good presentation of facts with supporting documents. How many police chiefs, fire chiefs, city planners, economic development hacks, street maintenance directors etc.- never mind elected officials, elections, and borders we have to pay to maintain- vs. the cost  structures other states operate on that have county government like Florida or North Carolina.

Do the taxpayers really like supporting all these extra layers of “government” if for a much lower tax bill- we could have more service providers and less tax apologists?

The reason you haven’t read about this anywhere else but esrati.com is clearly taken care of in the Burges Proposal: “Clearly, Cox Media is the ratings leader for integrated lV, radio, internet and print news. Involving Cox would raise awareness of residents. Cox also has a new digital production facility, low production rates and a positive record of participation in recent civic issues” and as well as: “Greater Dayton’s key websites, whether based at large media organizations, IHE’s (Institutions of Higher Education), civic andeconomic development organizations or standing independently like Dayton Most Metro”

Bribing media outlets isn’t out of Burges reach either: “Whether or not this level of media involvement is entirely achieved, it is important for strengthening awareness and engagement. Determining the level and net cost [after media sponsorships] will define how far we can go with media involvement. If helpful, we will work with the county to help build commitments to participate from the media, other sponsors and partner organizations between the time the project is funded and when it formally begins.” remember, Burges places media buys for all the levy campaigns and major political campaigns- nice loot to wave in exchange for “public support.”

I don’t have the luxury of Mr. Burges inside connections. All I have is the most read political blog in Dayton- that tries to give those that care to know about the nasty inner workings of our obsolete and crumbling political/nepotism machine in Montgomery County and it’s minor fiefdoms. I know this post is long- but, you now have most of the documents that I have on this back room deal- and a little analysis to chew on.

What say you, members of the community now called OneDayton in the greatest sense of the word?

8:34 am note: the fallout from this piece has already begun. I’ve decided to add to this piece in the comments.

Montgomery County Commissioners on OH-3: sanity check

The 2000 OH-3 map showing gerrymandering across 4 counties

The 2000 OH-3 map showing gerrymandering across 4 counties

When the 3rd Congressional district was last gerrymandered as it was passed from Tony Hall to Mike Turner by the powers that be, it went from a compact, reasonable district that roughly matched Montgomery County boundaries to a sprawling mess that looks like a monkey with an etch-a-sketch tried to draw something and it was superimposed across SW Ohio.

The current district, which so oddly was carved around Mike Turner’s former home on Huffman Avenue, now requires a candidate to buy media in 4 markets to reach all the voters (yep- Dayton, Cincy, Columbus and Chillicothe),

1990 version of OH-3 map

The nice compact 1990 OH-3 map

So instead of moving back to a sane, functional district, our three “Democratic County Commissioners” Dodge, Foley and Lieberman, apparently like handing off the Third to Mr. Turner according to today’s Dayton Daily News:

Montgomery County leaders made a plea to Gov. John Kasich to keep the 3rd Congressional District intact with no further split as part of the redistricting process.

In the last redistricting in 2001, Montgomery County was divided, with about 22 percent going into the 8th District and the remainder being retained in the 3rd District, Commission President Debbie Lieberman and Commissioners Judy Dodge and Dan Foley wrote in an Aug. 15 letter to the governor.

“Any further split or splits could have a devastating impact on Montgomery County and the city of Dayton,” the letter stated. “…We strongly believe that our county and our citizens are best served when represented predominantly by one member of Congress who is able to focus on the totality of our community.”

via Commissioners urge Kasich to preserve 3rd District.

As someone who has run for the seat, I can tell you that it’s an incredibly difficult district to canvass and cover. It also leans Republican, just like almost all SW Ohio congressional districts.

For the County Commissioners NOT to be lobbying to return to something more manageable should make one think about their own suitability for office, before re-electing any of them.

Taxation without representation: Township should be folded

Apparently, you can have it both ways in Ohio. Selective income taxes are apparently OK if your township can’t pay the bills. Taxes that are being passed without a vote by the public.

The concept of urban townships is a farce that has been allowed to continue so we can supply income tax havens for the wealthy. There is absolutely no legitimate reasons for this form of government in urban areas – where the services are a hodge-podge between the county and the township. The cutoff in Ohio is 5,000 residents- with the main difference (until now) is that only cities can levy income taxes.

From today’s Dayton Daily News:

Walmart and Sam’s Club on Miller Lane agreed to an employee income tax that will help pay for police services, township trustees said Tuesday night.

The sister retailers called the township Friday and said they would become part of a Joint Economic Development District with Vandalia, paying income taxes estimated to be about $258,000.

Townships, which can not collect taxes, enter into these agreements with cities. Butler will collect 85 percent of the tax revenue, while Vandalia keeps 15 percent as fees.

“Nobody wants to put a levy on the ballot,” said Trustee President Michael Lang. “To me, this is a complete game-changer. We hope in a short amount of time to get the other businesses in the JEDD.

“We may still need a levy in the spring, but we have time to see where this puts us.”

Butler Twp. has been operating its 14-member police force on $1.1 million budget generated from a previous 4.9 mills levy, while also supplementing that money with an average of $350,000 yearly from its general fund. A 3.0 mills levy was estimated to generate $695,303 in new money, but that was before home values tied to the levy were downgraded last week. The extra revenue was going to go into the township’s general fund.

Trustees said they were looking to Miller Lane businesses for help since those businesses account for more than half the township’s police calls. The township has already laid off one officer, and Chief Danny Hobbs retires at the end of the month, further reducing the staff to 13.

It was feared without a levy or a JEDD, the police force would have to be further reduced next year.

“They (Walmart and Sam’s) understand the importance of this,” Trustee Martin Russell said. “They don’t want services reduced.”

via Butler Twp. cancels police levy after 2 retailers agree to JEDD.

The real question is how many property tax abatements were granted along Miller Lane to “lure” jobs in the name of “economic development.” The Benchwood Road exit was an earlier version of the Austin Road exchange, adding more sprawl and unneeded retail space to an already overbuilt market. We will soon see the same problems for Miami Township thanks to their manipulations at Austin Road.

This “agreement” to collect income taxes for the Township made by members of the Township and Walmart- should be questioned in the courts. The trustees should be tossed from office- and ultimately, the township should be disbanded and merged into Vandalia (the taxing authority) immediately.

How the citizens of this community can stand idle while this kind of back room shenanigans take place is one of the reasons “Greater” Dayton is such a dysfunctional mess. If we moved to a “One Dayton” regional government, we wouldn’t be having this kind of BS going on.