The 3-point challenge

Whenever I’m out hanging nets, and there are ballers on the court, I offer up my three-point challenge. Shoot three treys in a row- and get a t-shirt. I let the little dunkers shoot from the foul line. Usually, the result is near pandemonium, with very little order, and someone inevitably trying to go twice, or wanting to change the rules to it doesn’t start counting till you make one.

When I was out with Rob D. hanging rims, he wanted to make it easy- and give away as many shirts as possible. I believe that skills and hard work should be rewarded, and on some courts- I end up giving away multiple shirts- as 9 points go in like clockwork. I believe that rewards need to be earned, that there shouldn’t be shortcuts along the way. I stick to my rules- and tell the kids that they should work on their long shot, and show me their skills next time. And, sometimes the first thing I hear after “The net man is here”- is “let me show you my three pointer.”

Going door-to-door, I get one of two reactions when I talk about giving every Dayton Public Schools student an iPad or netbook. The first is complete understanding and a realization that without 1-1 computer to student, we can’t possibly be preparing our students for the workforce- and the other, which is much rarer- is “what do you mean give them an iPad? To take home? They’ll sell (or steal) it?” It’s that second reaction that always takes me aback.

Forget about the fact that textbooks cost as much as an iPad and do a lot less for our students, and no one would argue against textbooks, it’s the idea that our kids either don’t deserve the best, haven’t earned the right, or can’t be trusted. This is our future- and we don’t seem to place a very high level of trust in our kids today. That’s too bad, because I think if kids were voting, we’d be having a better political conversation than we have now. They see what’s going on around them- and for the most part, they’ve given up on Dayton too.

When you come to a park that has a dead raccoon sitting in the parking lot, broken glass on the court that’s bisected by weed fault lines- and look up at a raggedy backboard with a rusted rim and the only thing that’s clean and glowing is a basketball net, with a florescent green bottom, that’s the beacon of hope. A $2 weave of string. It sends a message. I enjoy talking to our kids more than voters. When they ask what I am going to do for our city, they haven’t become jaded yet by the lies of those who’ve come before me. They believe. All I hope is that I can get two other people on the commission to agree with a vision of Dayton that doesn’t include tax breaks for General Electric, while we’re charging admission to our rec center to families that can barely afford to keep shoes on their kids’ feet.

That’s why one of the first things I hope to do is reward the kids who work hard at becoming our future leaders. As soon as I take my oath of office, I plan to make our rec centers free for any kid with a B average or better.

The iPads, will go home with our graduating seniors who have at least a B average and a 20 or better on the ACT. We will reward our kids for doing the work.

And, if you don’t have the grades, but want to get into the rec center, we’ll have opportunities for kids to go to tutoring centers after school- and be rewarded with passes for completing additional work.

And while I’ve also been told that by putting nets up, I’m encouraging NBA dreams instead of school work, I want to make it clear to our kids, that shooting threes can change a game, but, in the end, it’s all about making smart decisions- on the court and in life. I want to work to make our kids realize that “Smart is the new cool”- and that everything we focus on is to make smart decisions in our community to help us rise above it.

I started with the basketball nets because I believe that our parks and how we treat our citizens are indicative of what we think of them. I plan on taking this small change and building into a whole cultural shift, that Daytonians are proud, smart and ready to take on any challenge, from getting elected for under $10,000 (something some say can’t be done) to eliminating tax breaks for companies as bait to come here, because we need our taxes to create a community worth moving your business to, and that paying taxes is an investment in a great city.

November 5th, we’ll find out if enough people believe that actions speak louder than words, and if hard work pays off. If every person I talk to, tells just a part of my story to their friends, we’re on the verge of changing the game in Dayton. Thank you.

Just remember, it takes three votes on the commission to win a change. Others have had three votes and squandered their opportunities. Three new faces, three new votes, that’s the three point challenge for Dayton.

David Esrati speaks to the Dayton Baptist Pastors and Ministers Union of Greater Dayton

I arrived when I was supposed to. Commissioner Joey Williams was in the middle of his presentation, I turned on the iPhone and recorded. After him came Joe Lutz, who is now talking about city wide WiFi- as if it’s his idea. He’s going to use the money he wants to collect from it to pay for house demolition. Seriously, he’s way out there. My idea of citywide WiFi is to make it free for all, with limits, and unlimited for those who pay, or for Dayton Public School students, who would be able to sign into the same filtered system they use at school.

Then Jeffery J Mims, Jr., talked a lot about himself.  David Greer spoke briefly. Nan left after Mims spoke. The mayor was already done and gone before I arrived, and I don’t know if A.J. Wagner spoke to them today, but I suspect not.

I’ve taken the time to put my speech into an MP-3 you can stream or download. I cover as much as I can before the tap on the back from Rev. William Schooler, whom I first met when I was running for mayor 20 years ago. I won’t quit running until I win and build the Dayton of the future.

You can listen and see what you think.

If I have more than 3 requests in comments- I’ll post the whole thing tonight.

How to build the Dayton of the future: David Esrati’s plan in 20 minutes

Logo for How to build the Dayton of the Future the David Esrati planIf we wanted to really learn about what a candidate’s plans are, we wouldn’t expect them to answer in 2 minutes or less. I understand people have a short attention span, but, when it comes to something important, 2 minutes isn’t enough. When I learned that the McCook Field neighborhood association was going to give us 20 minutes, in a facility with a projector and a screen, I pulled an all-nighter and put together a presentation. I’d like to give it again- and have a bit more time to rehearse, and tweak it, if any organization is listening. Twenty minutes is the same as a TED talk. They bill them as “Ideas worth spreading”- so, please spread.

I may also put up the deck via slideshare, when I have more time. Look for David K Greer and Joseph Lutz video tomorrow. This is the first video from the meeting in this post: Another candidates’ night: Lutz unveils his grand plan.

After this presentation, no one complained about my “command voice” – they heard me 10×10. I hope you do as well. Please share, like, spread and support (donate).

Go to Vandalia to eat around the world: World Café

I’m pretty sure a bunch of you will tell me I’m about 2 years late sharing this gastronomical find, but it’s worth talking about. Located in the butt fugly strip mall off the Northwoods exit on 75 by the airport, 2 doors down from Kroger is a former Quizno’s gone eclectic.

The World Café’s sandwich menu is split between Americas, Europe and Asia and each can be had as a toasted sandwich on white, multi-grain flatbread or as a wrap. I tried the Chicken BLT and the Brazilian Steak sandwiches as well as a sampler of three kinds of hummus, tzatziki and olive tapanade. The tapanade was so awesome I kicked myself for not getting the “New Orleans Muffuetta” which about 5 people recommended online. What makes the chicken BLT special is the avacado mayo, the Brazilian steak had a chimichurri sauce and cilantro mayo. It’s the little things that make a sandwich special.

There are 16 different sandwiches and all of them sound good to me, which is rare. The only thing I’d hope to see changed is an improvement in the bread- what I’d give for it to come from either Bakehouse Bread in Troy or Rahn’s Artisan Breads (you might know them from the 2nd St. Market- full disclaimer, I’ve done work for both)- which turned me into a bread snob. Next visit I’m curious about the Thai Steak Wrap  or the Mandarin Orange Wrap as well as the Muffuletta.

The sandwiches are $6.50 or available as a half for $4.00 and there are combos with soups, or salads too. I tried a soup too- don’t ask me what it was- but it was hearty and flavorful with a tomato base. Everything is made from scratch, and the portions are definitely American sized, despite the place being owned by a Pole.

Robert Krzak ended up in Dayton after working cruise ships and traveling around the world. Don’t get him talking because he doesn’t stop. Those of you who enjoy dialects/accents will be laughing all the way as he goes between an Aussie with a g’d day, and some slang, to a heavily accented Eastern European English, all with a big smile. He came to Dayton after meeting a fair lass from Beavercreek on the cruise ship and has been here since 2005. He’s working two jobs to keep his dream of a chain of World Café’s growing, you can find him some nights at Therapy Café on E. Third in the Cannery tending bar. He was recently featured in the Dayton Daily news in a piece about immigration.

For those of you who think immigrants steal your job, I’d like to point out that this guy is hiring Americans and building his American dream for his family. If you need a reminder of immigrants’ impact on Dayton, just drive around old North Dayton and see the Polish Club, the Lithuanian Club etc. This town was built by European craftsmen.

The restaurant is at 786 Northwoods Blvd., Vandalia, OH 45377, the phone is 937-264-0100. hours are Monday- Friday 11-8, Sat. and Sun. 11-2:22. They do catering as well and deliver within a 20-mile radius.

If you’ve eaten here and had a good experience, share it in the comments, and if you haven’t- go try it and tell them Esrati sent you.

State of the City of Dayton

Mayor Leitzell made his state of the city address yesterday- and wisely posted it on his blog so that he didn’t have to count on the media to get it right.

Using the web to skirt the media is a step forward.

However- speaking in platitudes isn’t an answer, a plan or even remotely what we need. What we need is a vision of leadership- a direction, a plan.

This doesn’t cut it:

  1. Dayton is on its own
  2. Dayton must reinvent itself to survive and thrive
  3. If we’re going to get anything done, we need to work together
  4. Dayton is evolving
  5. Dayton will prosper

In the meantime, we’ve not answered how we are going to staff our safety forces- our core mission for our government, we don’t have a plan to clearly “reinvent” ourselves- name one piece of legislation he’s introduced, never mind an agenda for transformation- like true charter changes? We could start with eliminating the policy of making lateral hires go back through our safety academies- and instead do OJT. We could also eliminate the charter requirements based on numbers of registered voters- and change it to percentages of last general election.

And while we continue to pour money into “economic development” projects that are nothing but corporate welfare- we could instead invest our money in programs to rebuild the fabric of our neighborhoods- working together with Dayton Public Schools and the Charters to create citywide youth sports programs- so our kids have something to do other than join gangs or move away when they reach school age. Strong neighborhoods build strong cities.

Instead- we got none of that. We got this:

we have world class citizens with world class ideas. Now is the time for us to put those ideas into action. This is our moment. Let’s work together and seize it.

via Dayton Mayor: State of the City Address.

I won’t even touch his endorsement of William Pace- but, it is his first attempt to actually stand for something- so- I guess we do have progress.

What’s the plan, Mayor?

(and- btw, I would have been in attendance, but instead I was helping coach my kids’ soccer game in Sidney).

What happens when the people leave Dayton?

Dayton made another list- number 5 at losing population. It’s another one of those stupid how-do-you-define-“Dayton” questions that really needs answering soon if we don’t want to keep being made fun of- and continue to lose respect for all that we have:

5. Dayton, Ohio

Population: 153,843

Population Change 2000-2009: -11,961

Population Percent Change 2000-2009: -7.21%

Home Vacancy: 18.9%

For its size, Dayton, Ohio, was once one of the most productive and creative cities in the U.S. It produced more patents per capita at the turn of the century than any other. The city was home to several former great Fortune 500 companies, including National Cash Register, Mead Paper and Phillips Manufacturing. Through the first half of the 20th century, Dayton had one of the healthiest manufacturing industries. It had more GM autoworkers than any city outside of Michigan during World War II. In the past 50 years, Mead has merged with West Virginia Paper and moved to Richmond, and GM has closed one plant after another in the city.

via us-cities-running-out-of-people: Personal Finance News from Yahoo! Finance.

If you look at the Dayton Metro Area- the losses are much smaller- not worth a story- but, since we continue to believe that the health of a core isn’t that important- we keep missing opportunities.

The other day I was reading a trade journal- sponsored by local company NewPage. You know the paper merchant formerly known as Mead. They proudly stated that they were headquartered in Miami Township- or Miamisburg (can’t remember- and I’m not in my office right now). Try finding that on a map?

It’s that kind of lameness that perfectly defines our problem. While we continue to think that because we know the differences between Beavercreek and Trotwood- the rest of the world cares. Never mind that we’ve let sprawl and over-building dilute our community- the reality is, we’ve been talking about how we’re going to fix our problems a lot more than we’ve actually fixed any of them.

With cuts coming in state and federal funding- we’re going to see Dayton proper face even bigger challenges- and the first ring communities suffer even more as more people file out- but- not too far out, because believe it or not- even poor people want safe neighborhoods and good schools.

In the meantime- the current city commission isn’t talking about serious regionalism- or about concentrating what limited resources we have on making sure we get our fundamental services right- they are thinking about spending money demolishing excess inventory- with no plan on how to regrow our community.

Last I checked- we don’t pay taxes to do property maintenance on other people’s buildings- nor do empty homes require government services.

Let’s make use an analogy: Dayton as a restaurant.

At one time- we made a lot of different dishes (manufacturing) and we were very good at it. We had good servers (public services) and a great clientele (population). The population came here because we were a good value: low cost of living, reliable work force, strong business leaders. Translated- the dishes we made were reasonably priced, the servers showed up and the people in the kitchen made sure the dishes came on time.

First problem was when tastes started changing- and we weren’t willing to change the menu. NCR missed the rise of the electronic cash register, GM missed small cars and Frigidaire – well- I’m not sure why we stopped making refrigerators- other than they could probably be made more cheaply elsewhere. Our unions had gotten a bit fat and lazy over the years- and seemed to forget that there were other people on the planet who could do what they did. The days of never changing the menu were over- people wanted different, they wanted just in time, they wanted higher quality at a lower price.

Second problem- when we started telling our customers whom they were going to sit with to eat. The devastating impact of school busing for “integration” was one of the major engines to build the suburbs. The customers who didn’t like sitting with strangers- picked up and left. The restaurant lost 25% of its business almost overnight. What’s worse- it lost most of the customers who bought steak- and tipped well- yet management didn’t change anything for years. Even 30 years later- the realization that this policy was a failure never really hit home. We tried turning the restaurant into a food court- with a little something for everyone- (magnet schools) and never really understood that people still wanted the high end steak dishes- while we were trying to sell them fast food. We still had the same number of seats and employees in the restaurant – although our customers had stopped coming.

Then we tried to go into the manufacturing business ourselves. We’re restaurateurs- we’re supposed to be a service industry- but- we thought we’d try our hand at building offices for new customers- hoping they’d come to our restaurant- the one that can’t make or deliver the meal the customers want. We failed miserably. Building buildings and huge “silver bullet” projects like the Arcade, the Arcade tower, Riverscape, Tool Town etc. weren’t what we were supposed to be doing- but we did, because handing our customers’ money over to our rich builder friends kept getting the management re-elected. Look at the growth of the campaign donations and who paid the tab. These people weren’t eating at our restaurant- they were just talking about it like they still did.

What we needed to do was to learn to refine our menu, keep the best servers, shrink the dining room, concentrate on the finest ingredients we could afford- yet we were still thinking we could run our place like we always had- ignoring the competition.

If we’d concentrated on basic services- good schools, safe neighborhoods, clean streets- and not gone off in a million directions- we’d still have a restaurant. Now, we’re thinking that by destroying tables (taking houses out of the inventory) somehow we’ll be able to bring people back to our restaurant. Again- we’re not concentrating on delivering the best service- or using our limited resources to create a restaurant people want to eat in- we’re just getting rid of tables and chairs.

But, if we’d wake up and look around- we have all the things people could want- we have safe neighborhoods, we have good servers, we have great intimate booths- and stages for performance, and good schools- the works- it’s in a place the world knows as Dayton- but we know as Oakwood, Centerville, Kettering, Beavercreek- etc. If we could only stop drawing lines on a map that slice and dice this into fiefdoms- we’d start looking a lot better.

Why can’t we have a regional school system? Why is it OK to have Sinclair Community College- for the whole of the area- but not a Dayton Public Schools for the whole? Why is it OK to have county commissioners who do almost nothing- and get paid the most of locally elected officials- for full-time work- while the cities have part-timers? Why do we still have townships – in an urban area? Why do we insist on so many elected people- for an area that hasn’t grown all that much in the last 40 years- when we’ve cut back on so many other things that we actually need- like police officers?

We need new management of this restaurant- from top to bottom. We need a new focus on delivering fine food- with the best possible servers- in the restaurant we have- with one management team, one top chef- and hold them accountable. We need to market our place to the world- as one that you want to come to eat, to stick around for a show- and decide this is a great place to hang out.

It’s time for a vision- and leadership of one city, ready to compete on a global scale, with real leaders, paid real money- held accountable by the public to take us where we want to be. The truth is we don’t have a choice. Without rebuilding our customer base- we can’t keep serving the same dreck with new menus forever.

What would we have if we paid our mayor $250K, and, had one sheriff, one fire chief, one inspector gotcha, one prosecutor, one auditor, one chief ethics officer- and all of them made $200K a year? We’d actually have huge cost savings- and a team of people that could be held accountable.

Maybe we’d even have a place people would recognize as a real city- instead of the clusterduck we have now.

Wouldn’t it be nice to be recognized as a leader again? Then maybe, people would actually want to come buy some of those houses cheap and fix them up- and eat at our restaurant again.

For 2011- living better in Dayton

A few things I’d like to see everyone try in 2011.

Eat out at independent restaurants more. Why go to Friday’s or Applebee’s when you can go get the exact same thing anywhere in the country? Need some suggestions? And- don’t just stick to food you know- experiment a bit- for starters:

Linh’s on Airway. They have Vietnamese and Chinese- ignore the Chinese and try anything on the menu- it’s all good. Dinner for two is around $24- they don’t serve alcohol- but, will let you bring in some Vietnamese beer if you must. The soft spring rolls are like nothing else I’ve ever had.

Chicago Gyros on Wilmington- nothing fancy- just the fattest Gyro you’ve ever had- for $4.50. The fries are good too- a large will feed two. Why wait for the Greek Festival- you can get your gyro fix anytime- but they close at 8.

Twenty years ago if you told me I’d be eating raw fish, I’d have told you that you’re crazy. Now I can’t get enough of it. Favorites are Sushi Cafe 725 and Byers Road- and Sushi Hana by Yankee and Lyons. C.J. Chan’s on Wilmington also has a few nice rolls- esp. the Las Vegas. Sushi doesn’t come cheap- but, then again- do you really want to eat cheap raw anything?

Our pubs- The Dublin Pub, Tank’s, Slyder’s Tavern, Jimmy’s Cornerstone, Blind Bob’s and The South Park Tavern are just a few- we’ve got some great bar food- and it’s reasonable. Why give your hard-earned money for some food that was prepared 8 states away and came to a boil in a bag pouch?

Fancy schmancy- you’ve got Coco’s and Sidebar, The Pine Club, Meadowlark, Rue Dumaine and that’s just for starters. You can eat at Flemming’s in 10 States- you can only eat at the others here in Dayton. Ohio. You’ll also get more for your money.

That’s food- then comes things to do:

See a movie at the Neon. Without this small independent movie house- we wouldn’t have a place for local film makers to strut their stuff. It’s cheaper than the big megaplexes- and the popcorn is 10x better. Plus- Jonathan picks the best of the movies you might not see otherwise- and, you can even drink a beer.

The Human Race Theater Company- The honchos still hate me for waging a war on smoking on stage just before the statewide vote on banning smoking- but, it’s amazing locally produced theater. I’ve seen so many amazing shows there. The Loft is a great little black box theater- and there isn’t a bad seat in the house. The secret- the final dress rehearsal before opening night is “pay what you can” or bring canned food donations. You can see it first – and help a good cause.

DCDC- the Dayton Contemporary Dance Company- sells out anywhere else in the world- plays to half full theaters here. You’re missing out. Warning- the company is schizophrenic- with two distinct personalities in every show. I generally love half of one- and am bored by the other. Hint: I like the let loose, rhythmic funky dance- If I wanted to see ballet like modern dance- I’d go to the ballet.

Gilly’s: Uh, if you like jazz- you’ve already been- if not- go there. Jerry has been putting on big name acts for – well, ever.

Canal Street Tavern: If you like indy, next big thing acts- Mick Montgomery has been putting on big name acts for- well ever too.

The bikeway- if you have a bike- ride it. If you don’t- get one. There isn’t a better way to get exercise and have fun in this city. Hopefully 2011 will be the year BCycle gets its start in Dayton- until then- go get a bike and ride.

The Art Institute- I’ve been to art museums all over the world- this is still one of my favorites. It’s like having an awesome house- with awesome art. It’s been free- but that may not last. Go now.

Yellow Springs/Clifton Gorge, John Bryant State Park- it’s 20 minutes away- but it’s like, well- another country – another time- an alternate universe. You can even ride your bike out there- or rent one there. If you’re lucky- you can run into Dave Chappelle outside a certain coffee shop- if you’re unlucky- you can do the same. And- yes- the Little Art is also a great little indy movie theater- and- The Winds is an independent restaurant worth trying.

Get a library card- and use the Dayton Public Library. You don’t need netflix or movie rentals- you don’t need to buy books- you ask- they get. My parents swear by the online reservation system. The librarians are cool.

Go ice skating at Riverscape in the winter- play in the kids’ fountain in the summer. If you can’t ice skate- and you see me there- I’ll help teach you.

Go to the Air Force Museum at least once a year. People come from all over the world to see it. It’s in your back yard and free. You’ll learn something with every visit- and face it- planes are cool.

And- on making Dayton a better place….

Volunteer to do something for a non-profit, organize a community garden, set up after-school activities for your neighborhood kids- be it pick up hoops- or even a board game night at a local church. We need to spend more face time and less screen time.

Make sure you know your neighbors- every one on your block. Organize a block party- close the street- cookout- dance a bit- do the hokey pokey. If you don’t know your neighbors- you really don’t live here- you’re fooling yourself. Trust me- and Kathy and Rodney and Christa, and Susan and Bryan and Francis and Bridgett and John and Kathy and Marilyn and Doyle and Steve and Nina and Aaron and Maureen and Isabelle and Phyllis and Tim and Tom and Kathleen….

Listen to WYSO, WDPS, WDPR, WDAO on the radio- read the Dayton City Paper and the Oakwood Register and support their advertisers- and if you are a local business- consider advertising in the non-corporate, local media. They may not be exactly what we want- but, the others are definitely not what we want.

And last but not least- go out and get “Think and Grow Rich” by Napoleon Hill (.89 as an ebook) and do an attitude adjustment about ourselves, our city and our future. Start visualizing what kind of community we want. Believe it and it will happen- even if we don’t quite get there – it’s time to have a vision of something other than a fire sale, rear guard, desperate community- that the Dayton Daily does such a good job of feeding us…. well, daily. Better yet- stop your subscription- and tell your friends to stop as well. Until they start thinking of themselves as a real newspaper instead of a coupon delivery service- it’s not worth your time or money.

And- feel free to add to this list- in the comments- share what you love about Dayton- and let’s keep this party going.

Best wishes for 2011. It’s going to be the year we take our city back.

note: sorry I didn’t build links to everything mentioned- it’s late. And- if you’ve done all of these things- say so in comments- or, share how long it will take you this year to complete all of these….

Atlanta has leadership- we have Leitzell.

In Dayton, our solution to the big hole in our population is to decrease the number of homes. It’s a rear guard, defensive effort that puts money into the hands of the demolition contractors (who are big campaign donors) and the landfill operators. And although the analogy that starts this excerpt from Thomas Friedman is about digging holes- filling a landfill isn’t the way you dig yourself out of a hole:

Everyone knows the first rule of holes: When you’re in one, stop digging. But people often forget the second rule of holes: You can only grow your way out. You can’t borrow your way out.

One of the best of this new breed of leaders is Atlanta’s inspiring mayor, 41-year-old Kasim Reed. A former Georgia state senator, Reed won Atlanta’s mayoral race in December 2009 by 714 votes. The day he took office, Atlanta had $7.4 million in reserves, an out-of-control budget and was laying off so many firefighters there were only three personnel on a truck, below national standards. A year later, it has $58 million in reserves, and Reed has a 70 percent approval rating — which he earned the hard way.

Reed started his reforms by enlisting two professionals, not cronies, to help run the city: Peter Aman, a partner at Bain & Company, a consultancy, to be his chief operating officer; and John Mellott, a former publisher of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, to lead a pension review panel. Atlanta has 7,000 city employees, but today, says Reed, “you can’t hire a receptionist” without it “personally being approved by Aman.”

Then Reed tackled the city’s biggest problem: runaway pensions, which were eating up 20 percent of tax revenues and are rising. In the early 2000s, the police, fire and municipal workers’ unions persuaded the city to raise all their pensions — and make it retroactive. So, between 2001 and 2009, Atlanta’s unfunded pension obligations grew from $321 million to $1.484 billion. Yikes.

Reed couldn’t cut existing pensions without lawsuits, but he cut back pensions for all new employees to pre-2000 levels and raised the vesting period to 15 years from 10. When union picketers swarmed city hall to protest, Reed invited them all into his office — in shifts — where he patiently explained, with charts, that without pension reform everyone’s pensions would go bust.

By getting the city’s budget under control, Reed then had some money to invest in more police officers and, what he wanted most, to reopen the 16 recreation centers and swimming pools in the city’s most disadvantaged neighborhoods, which had been shuttered for lack of money. “People were shooting dice in the empty pools,” he said. Local businesses have now offered to finance after-school job-skills programs in the reopened centers. Cut here. Invest there.

Reed combines a soft touch with a hard head. I like how he talks about both Atlanta and America: “We are not going to be what we have been for the last 50 years if we don’t change, and everybody in a position to have more than two people listening to them needs to be saying that, because the time we have to make the adjustments is running out. We need to get on with it. Whether it’s the deficit, education or investing in young people or immigration — we are not tackling [them] in the fundamental ways required. We’re just doing it piecemeal. We’re just playing and surviving. And we need to be very clear where just surviving takes you: it takes you to a lifestyle of just survival.”

via Cut Here. Invest There. – NYTimes.com.

Note- economic development in Atlanta is hiring more police officers and reopening recreation centers- and then letting business take care of business.

Atlanta is considered a boom town when compared to Dayton. If they are solving problems by improving quality of life- why aren’t we focused on that- instead of the mysterious “economic development” by government?

Tearing down houses doesn’t bring us more social capital. Where is the plan to bring more people to Dayton?

When are we going to tell the world we’ve got a great place to operate inexpensively- then do everything we can to make it true? It’s time to give up control on areas we’ve given up on- and let market forces go wild.

It’s time to guarantee that if you invest in Dayton- you won’t be broken into. That your building won’t be tagged with graffiti.  It’s time to cut the bureaucracy – and the overhead of so many watchdogs- who aren’t doing anything except getting in the way.

It’s time to present a vision- and head toward it at full force.

And, I’m not picking on Mayor Leitzell- it’s just using the alliteration of leadership and Leitzell- there are a whole bunch of “leaders” in this town that need to get focused and fast.

Note- I added bold and italics to “inspiring mayor” above. It’s time to inspire Mayor Leitzell.

How BCycle becomes a reality in Dayton

In order for Dayton to get a bike-sharing system- we will need private businesses and institutions to buy in and support it. Wright State and the University of Dayton already understand the value a bike sharing system can bring to their parking impaired institutions, once Sinclair and the Hospitals and LexisNexis buy in, we may have the critical beginnings of a way to make this happen.

However, some small businesses in Denver have started to get it as well:

The wheels on the B-cycles will go round and round for Kentwood City Properties’ 70 employees who were given memberships to Denver’s bike-sharing program along with helmets last week from company owners Dee Chirafisi and Jim Theye.

“John Hayden, a broker in our office, is on the steering committee for B-cycle,” Chirafisi said. “Every Tuesday we tour all our new listings. He does it on his bike, and he’s always at each property first. One day on the property tour, we all took a bike. We had so much fun, we decided we want to support this program.”

Chirafisi and Theye decided to take “a large chunk” ($30,000) of their annual marketing budget and invested in a sponsorship, which included the memberships, helmets and 20 bikes with baskets emblazoned with the real estate company’s logo.

“They’re the first Denver company to really build their entire marketing efforts around Denver B-cycle,” said Denver marketing maven Steve Sander. “I view this as a true investment in something that is good for them and good for the community.”

Memberships start March 1 when the B-cycle fleet awakes from hibernation. The program was put on hiatus for the winter in part due to weather conditions, and to give organizers time to “tweak” kinks in the program, such as touchy touch-screen technology, and somewhat confusing instructions.

When the bikes are back, Kentwood will have “passes” to rent B-cycles to show properties to potential buyers. A B-cycle will also take up residence in the front window of the 1660 17th St. building.

“It’s a perfect fit for the way they do business and the vision they have of experiencing downtown,” Sander said.

via Parker: For real estate firm, a healthy way to pedal deals – The Denver Post.

With traditional advertising channels becoming less efficient, and consumers tired of the constant barrage of marketing messages- the idea of providing a service instead of just talk is taking off. The Pepsi Refresh campaign is probably the best example of a marketer taking their money and putting it into doing something instead of just talking about it.

The local hospitals have made similar efforts with their branding contracts for High School sports stadiums- but, these stadium deals do little for the community at large-and aren’t an asset for bringing people and potential companies to Dayton. BCycle could have a huge impact in our community- both from the standpoint of solving some serious parking and transportation issues on campuses- but, also in our communities attitude toward bicycling and healthy lifestyles.

If you think your company might be interested in sponsoring BCycle in Dayton- please drop me a line.

DBJ profiles Mayor Leitzell- labels me a detractor (not so)

The story won’t be available to the masses online for another week- but for those of you who subscribe to the Dayton Business Journal you can read the front-page story by Joe Cogliano looking back at Gary Leitzell’s first year as mayor.

Gary likes to call himself a problem solver- and prefers to work discreetly. And while it’s often forgotten, he’s only 1 vote with no veto power on a commission of 5, so it’s not like he’s been handed a very big hammer to rebuild a house that’s been suffering from years of inept leadership and management.

Truth is- Gary’s done a great job- but, we have to remember, the bar was lowered pretty low by our last mayor, and our commission isn’t exactly made up of out-of-the-box, risk-takers. In fact, collectively they are the least ambitious bunch of people we could have “elected.” The number of unanimous decisions is mind-boggling, and when there is any dissent, it’s usually for very wrong reasons (the equal protection ordinance comes to mind- where Lovelace voted no- and Williams abstained).

But, the article was about Gary- and when Cogliano called- I had to ask, why me? He said I was the first (and apparently only) person he thought of  who would go on the record with something contrarian. In Dayton- a lot of people will say all kinds of crap behind your back, but few have the balls to say it on the record- hence, we almost always fail debate 101 and go for the consensus opinion on everything.

I am disappointed with Gary on how little he’s used his blog since getting elected. Not that he’s ever been a really prolific blogger- but, mostly he’s used it since the election to lash out at the DDN (I know you’re thinking- Esrati is one to talk). I had hoped he’d open up the frustrations in City Hall to public discussion online- and solicit more views, hasn’t happened.

When it comes to the push for regionalization- there has been nothing out of his office. Dan Foley seems to be the only elected leader talking about it- and he almost got beat by an Oakwood housewife (I’m saying that out of jest – I respect Jan Kelly and thought she would be a great addition to the County  Commission).

A quiet challenge to the city staff about finding alternatives to raising trash fees- unless we improve service isn’t exactly going to set the world on fire. We’ve seen zero substantive  legislation forwarded from the mayor- or the commission for that matter. The commission is a legislative body – after all.

The role of mayor is a leadership position. That’s why the extra $10K a year. Yet business leaders I’ve spoken to haven’t heard a leader speak. As much as I detest Mike Turner- when he spoke or met with business leaders- they came away feeling optimistic about our future. We need the same from Mayor Leitzell. As I say in the DBJ piece- “Generals wear stars for a reason and they show them for a reason. He’s failed to pull rank and say who is in charge”- even if he was to push the leadership role to the city manager- and put him on point (as it should be).

What should we expect? What would make a difference?

  • Most important starting point: figure out a way to hire replacement police and fire personnel. Either change the rules so we can hire using a rule of 10- or make it possible to hire from other departments. Newark, N.J., just laid off 167 experienced officers- and we can’t hire a single one.
  • Our priority board system is an extra layer of bureaucracy that separates the people from power- it’s time to cut the staff- and divert the money directly to the neighborhoods. If people on our current managerial team can’t each be assigned neighborhoods to mentor and develop as part of their responsibilities- we need new management in City Hall. It’s time to make sure that City Hall makes direct connections with the citizens who are left- so that we can start rebuilding.
  • Leitzell talks about starting small businesses- and our growing immigrant population, but we’ve not actually put a campaign in place to start recruiting inbound migration. Leitzell talks about the Turkish refugees, but have we hired anyone who speaks Turkish to help support a budding community? While we’ve had a growing Spanish-speaking population- the city website doesn’t have a word of Spanish on the front page- why don’t we have a Spanish-speaking ombudsman at least?

Solving problems is mostly a retroactive process- we’ve got a future that needs a visionary. It’s time for Mayor Leitzell to start painting the road map to a brighter future for all. We know he can paint miniatures- let’s see his big picture emerge in 2011.