The Dayton music pavilion that we overlook

Everyone knows that the solution to Dayton’s problems is a single silver bullet project- one that will change the future of Dayton forever- catapulting us back into the heyday when all was grand (somewhere between November 1955 and May of 1956).

We’ve done Courthouse Square, the Convention Center, Sinclair Community College, The Arcade, Arcade Tower, 5/3rd Field, Riverscape, the Schuster Center and countless other “game changers,” all with the same effect- not much. The most media attention we’ve gotten has been- take your pick:

  • The Dayton Accords- which brought peace halfway around the world- but, were actually negotiated in Greene County.
  • John McCain announcing Sarah Palin as his running mate- also in Greene County.
  • A hoax concert by Limp Bizkit at the Sunoco station in South Park.

Of the three- the last was the most successful (no money spent, no politicians involved).

The new silver bullet is a concert pavilion on Dave Hall Plaza- where for years we’ve had a summer concert series on two portable stages that’s worked OK- the Women in Jazz show, Reggae Fest, Blues Fest, etc.

But, since Kettering has the Fraze (which lost money for at least the first 4 seasons before turning a profit) and Huber Heights just opened the Rose- which made a little in its first season- Dayton wants to bring a concert facility downtown- because, we don’t have one? Oh, we’ll get to that in a bit…

The nonprofit group Friends of the Levitt Pavilion Dayton has a goal of raising $5 million by the end of this summer to pay to build a state-of-the-art amphitheater in Dave Hall Plaza.

The group plans to intensify campaign efforts in coming weeks and months to raise the money needed to pay to construct the free outdoor music venue, which is slated to begin in 2017. The planned opening of the pavilion is late May 2018.

The state’s capital budget, unveiled this week, calls for allocating $550,000 for the pavilion.

The venue will be an anchor destination that offers world-class musical performances and acts at no cost to visitors that builds community and spurs on revitalization of the urban core, according to supporters and local officials…

Fundraising for the Levitt Pavilion Dayton is underway, and donations are being accepted at levittdayton.org and on Facebook. The pavilion has a page at twitter.com/LevittDayton.

The roughly $5 million capital project will create an amphitheater in Dave Hall Plaza, on the north side of Crowne Plaza Dayton. The pavilion’s lawn will hold at least 2,000 people and will host 50 free music concerts each year.

The amphitheater will be a “community gathering place” that features a mix of national, international and local and emerging acts, supporters said.

The Dayton Levitt Pavilion will be part of a network of signature Levitt Pavilions across the nation, which are subsidized by the Mortimer & Mimi Levitt Foundation.

The foundation provides signature pavilions about $1.5 million in assistance in the first five years. But local support and funds are a necessity.

The foundation then provides about $150,000 annually for operating costs in perpetuity. Pavilion operations typically cost about $500,000 annually.

Pavilions are located in Westport, Conn.; Memphis, Tenn.; Bethlehem, Pa.; Arlington, Tex.; and Los Angeles and Pasadena, Calif. Pavilions are planned for Denver, Colo., and Houston, Tex.

Each Levitt Pavilion has an open lawn setting where everyone is welcome to enjoy the free concerts in an idyllic outdoor atmosphere, said Sharon Yazowski, executive director of the Mortimer & Mimi Levitt Foundation.

“No two pavilions are designed the same, ” Yazowski said. “Through a community-driven design process, each Levitt Pavilion is designed to reflect the personality and character of the city where it is located, taking into account local aesthetics and traditions.

”Levitt pavilions are a proven model for reinvigorating neglected areas, and cities that have welcomed the amphitheaters have benefited from new retail, restaurants and other investments, supporters said.

The Mortimer & Mimi Levitt Foundation’s objective is to reactivate underutilized public spaces and create family-friendly music venues that bring together people of all backgrounds and socioeconomic status to interact and develop stronger bonds, said Mescher.

Free, quality live music promotes community-building and shared experiences at a time when U.S. concert tickets can be prohibitively expensive for many families, supporters said. On average, concert tickets cost almost $79 in 2015.

Levitt Pavilion shows attract top-notch acts and up-and-coming performers. About 20 of the artists who have performed on Levitt stages in recent years were nominated for Grammy awards in 2016, according to the foundation.

Black Violin played on the Levitt circuit. The band performed at sold-out shows at the Victoria Theatre in March….

All that foot traffic will lure light retail, restaurants, bars and other businesses, and the project optimizes a space that has been underused for a long time, said Ellen Ireland, who serves on the Friends of Levitt Pavilion Dayton Board of Directors.

This project will build community through free music and will kick-start economic development and bolster reintegration in the urban core by bringing as many as 125,000 people downtown, she said.“For us to be the ninth (Levitt Pavilion) is huge,” Ireland said. “It’s key to get our fundraising well underway and finished so that we make sure it happens here and not somewhere else.”

The Levitt model demonstrably works, and Dayton’s project will draw from the experience of other cities with pavilions to succeed and have the biggest impact, Ireland said.

The proposed state capital budget includes $550,000 in funding for the pavilion project.Rep. Fred Strahorn, D-Dayton, said he pushed for the inclusion of the Levitt pavilion funding in the state capital bill because, “most vibrant cities have a happening music scene. I think Dayton has some components, but I think Levitt will really push that over the edge.”

Strahorn said the project will complement the growing number of people moving to downtown Dayton.

“I think things like the Levitt will engage more people to want to move into that space, and want to live in that walkable space,” he said.

Source: Backers seek $5M for Dayton music pavilion

Island Park Banshell, 2016 photographed by David EsratiBut, wait- we already have a concert pavilion/bandshell, with plenty of free seating. It’s in Island Park, but- oh, I must have forgotten, we only invest if it’s Downtown, or helps UD, Premier Health, or Kettering Health, or a major corporation that doesn’t want to pay taxes (GE, Emerson, Midmark, Standard Register, or any of the tenants in Tech Town). We’ve also seen summer concerts under the Riverscape ice rink/pavilion- as well as shows on the streets- ala Dayton Revival festival or Cityfolk festival.

Now run by Metroparks, what started out so aptly named “White City Amusement Park” the Island park band shell sits mostly unused- and forgotten. Erected in 1939, the “Leslie L. Diehl Band shell was sponsored by the Dayton Chamber of Commerce, the city and the Works Project Administration for their “enjoyment of music and other wholesome entertainment” according to the bronze plaque that is covered with the patina of age on the right front pedestal. It used to be the home of the “municipal band” – back in the day when high schools in the city still had marching bands and music programs, and the health and welfare of the citizens wasn’t ignored in the name of “economic development.” The band shell had fallen on hard times- just like the rest of the city- and in 1995, the countywide tax that funds Metroparks (an example of regionalization that we don’t fight) were used to restore the band shell- which will be ignored for the new bright shiny thing Mayor Nan can bring to Downtown.

Considering that both the Fraze and the Rose already host a number of free concerts – should we call the Levitt the “Bus Hub Concert Pavilion” or, the keep the Daytonians in Dayton concert pavilion- or what it really is- the anti- “White City Amusement Park Band shell?”

And, one last note- to Fred Strahorn- ““most vibrant cities have a happening music scene”- haven’t seen you at any Yellow Cab shows or at any of the many bars that are keeping our local music scene going. I must have missed you at the Limp Bizkit show.

 

Grandstanding in Dayton, and Travel Bans

There’s never a missed opportunity for our half-a-million dollar Mayor, Nan Whaley, to grandstand. Be it accepting refugees that aren’t coming, or banning travel to North Carolina and Mississippi over stupid legislation against the LGBT community. If there’s a front page story to be made out of making a proclamation or an informal resolution- she’s on top of it.

But, let’s talk about a local travel ban that the city created and now can’t find the “$35,000” it will cost to fix- and the costs the city’s lack of foresight cost a small local independent business.

For decades, 865 N. Main Street was the place to get fried chicken in Downtown Dayton. Chicken Louie’s was an institution. When Lou fell into poor health, the restaurant closed. Because the city of Dayton can’t keep a building safe from scrappers, the building quickly became a very expensive prospect to reopen. Plus, the hundreds of millions of dollars being spent on I-75 through Downtown, were also taking their toll on businesses near the construction.

In November of 2014, a business that had begun on W. Third Street, rose to the challenge to bring fried chicken back to N. Main. Plans, permits, inspections, and almost 18 months later, they soft-opened this week. No big grants from the city, no tax abatements, no tax credits- a legitimate, small business opened back up in the old Chicken Louie’s- welcome back to Quincy’s. (Full disclosure- I do the advertising for them- and, they didn’t ask me to write this article).

Only one slight problem, when the city bulldozed a whole bunch of apartment buildings and built a brand new Great Miami Boulevard- they cut off the second entrance to the parking lot. Yep- made a little stub of a driveway- but, no access from the boulevard, only from N. Main, right at the light- making left turns into the lot a mess.

The city, which bought a building on Wayne Avenue for $450,000 and then sold it to a developer from out of town, and gifted them Garden Station as a bonus- can’t find $35,000 to replace the apron and access that they “improved” off the map. Here’s an aerial view courtesy of Google Maps- the yellow area is where a driveway should be- but now has curbs, grass and trees planted.

Aerial view of Quincy's Parking lot

Can Dayton put a driveway back in please?

This is similar to what they did to the old Wympee on E. Third street- when Olive Dive went to turn on their gas main- it turns out that the city had cut the gas line when replacing sidewalks- and was going to try to stick the tenant with the bill.

How 25 feet of concrete or asphalt becomes a $35,000 expense is beyond me. Why the curbs and access hadn’t been worked out and replaced well before the opening is also beyond me. But, I guess real “Economic Development” and a commitment to local small, independent business doesn’t make either the headlines- or, Miss Nan would have taken care of fixing this mistake already.

When people talk about being “business friendly” – it’s about a government that takes care of things like this and thanks the small business for bringing a building back to life. If I were mayor- this kind of bullshit would never fly, and I’d have rented a Bobcat and cleared the path myself, before they opened if I couldn’t get the city to act. A load or two of gravel over what I cleared would be a better start than leaving it as is.

Considering the only thing Nan has proven herself good at is making holes like the one on Ludlow where the perfectly usable Schwind and Dayton Daily News building were- she should be able to get a bulldozer over to Quincy’s on Monday and get this problem taken care of, $35,000 or not.

It’s a tiny investment compared to the value that having this building back in use pays back to the city.

In the meantime- go get yourself some chicken and fish, and be super careful entering and exiting the parking lot.

Wright State, Lost Leadership

The new wright state logo not done by YorkBranding or Push Inc showing Wright State leadership under Dr. David Hopkins

Wright State’s new logo signifying Dr. David Hopkins’ leadership

Confidential sources have shared two communications from inside Wright State this week. The first is a fantasy feel-good message from Dr. Hopkins, crafted by some PR person wearing rose-colored glasses, who thinks that with proper phrasing, lipstick on a pig makes sense.
The second is a response from the faculty union (American Association of University Professors), suggesting that if you stop hiring retired congressmen, lobbyists, children of the board of directors, and creating more titles and titular heads of imaginary positions, there might be hope. Oh, and don’t spend a quarter-million on a logo with a Florida firm, or keep thinking college athletics are important to anyone- other than a few donors and a president who has an advanced degree in gym.

Read them and weep. If I were grading papers, the president would get a C- and the faculty union- an A+

Weekly message from WSU President Hopkins

Hello–

Together, over the last decade, we have had unprecedented success in building a new model of a 21st century public research university more relevant to the needs of the students and communities we serve. Our focus has always been on providing an affordable, high-quality education and building a diverse and inclusive welcoming community. We are using the expertise of our faculty and staff, along with the energy of our students, to engage with our communities to solve real social problems and growing the economy and quality of life throughout our region. At the very heart of everything we have done is our commitment to meet our diverse student population “where they are” academically, financially, and experientially to propel their success. We captured the essence of our decade-long transformation by our intention to be the “Best University FOR the World.”

Along this journey, we have faced formidable financial challenges. In 2008, the Great Recession exacerbated the already-20-year-long erosion of state support for public higher education. To address the challenges we faced in 2008, we strategically utilized our reserves to smooth the impact on our people and campus and to continue investing in strategic initiatives, many designed to grow alternative revenue streams in order to lessen our reliance on state support for operating dollars. It was apparent that we must be more in control of our own destiny in this “New Normal” of public higher education.

In 2010, we needed to restructure our base budget to align with the new realities of projected revenues. In my email to campus in the spring of 2009, I referred to our challenge as a “Nut to Crack.” We initiated a campus process that included a 5 percent reduction exercise given to all Vice Presidents and Deans. The purpose of the exercise was to insure that we were spending our resources on the priorities of the 2008 Strategic Plan (“Relentless”). A set of guiding principles was developed for the process, and ideas for reduction and new revenue generation were elicited from throughout our campus. Ultimately, the “Nut” was defined (approximately 4 percent of our base budget), and each Vice President and Dean was given a reduction target ranging from 2 percent to 5 percent, depending on unit performance trends. Using multiple tools, we reset our base budget in 2010 with the overall goal of emerging stronger as an institution.

With the help of an improving economy, a surge in enrollment growth from the impact of the Great Recession, and federal support through the American Recovery Act, we emerged in 2011 with one of the strongest financial years in our history. This allowed us to renew our reserves and accelerate our investment in a variety of initiatives, many to diversify our revenue streams. The following is a brief list of examples:

  1. Student Success Support (Student Success Center, Veterans, LGBTQ, International and others)
  2. Fundraising and Alumni Engagement (Rise. Shine. Campaign)
  3. Applied Research and Business/Industry Engagement (WSRI, WSARC, Commercialization)
  4. Branding/Marketing (address a highly competitive market and grow our national visibility)
  5. State-designated Centers of Excellence (focus on CELIA, Neuroscience and Human Innovation)

From 2013 to today, we have faced another round of reduced state support. It has come in the form of reduced SSI, capital, research challenge, Ohio College Opportunity Grants (OGOG), and mandated tuition constraints. We have taken the opportunity to share these challenges with the Faculty Senate and Staff Council multiple times over the last three years. Once again, we have strategically utilized our reserves to smooth the impact on our people and campus and continue investing in key strategic initiatives. At the beginning of fall 2015, it was clear with the mandated zero percent tuition increase for FY16 and FY17, projected flat SSI support, modest enrollment growth, and a sporadic economy, that we, once again, had a “Nut to Crack” in our base budget.

Initially, in the fall of 2015, we instituted a four-pronged approach to whittle away at the “Nut.” This involved

  1. more discipline in strategic hiring;
  2. improved central oversight to control overspending;
  3. better capital project oversight; and
  4. improved space utilization.

On November 20, 2015, we met with the Faculty Budget Oversight Committee in a three-hour meeting to share the trend data and the financial challenges we were facing. On January 22, 2016, in the public Board of Trustees Finance Committee, we discussed the framework for a budget remediation plan. On February 12, I announced at the public Board of Trustees meeting that Provost Sudkamp and VP for Business and Finance Jeff Ulliman were being charged to develop a campus-wide budget remediation plan by soliciting input from all campus constituents and that we would share the plan and all its details with the campus community during our annual Budget Workshop on June 2, 2016.

I reiterated this approach with the Faculty Senate during the March 14 meeting, and Provost Sudkamp reminded everyone about the importance of maintaining our focus on the upcoming March 21-22 HLC visit. Following the HLC visit, we initiated our campus process by meeting with Faculty Senate Leadership on March 30 to discuss guiding principles and the details of a process to strengthen our budget. 

The following principles will guide the development and implementation of our plan:

  • Must be people-friendly and preserve salaries and benefits as much as possible.
  • Must support the ongoing quality of WSU’s academic enterprise and support student success.
  • Must preserve and expand sources of revenue.
  • Should not result in indiscriminate hiring freezes or elimination of strategic investments.
  • The plan cannot call for across-the-board cuts but instead must focus on targeted reductions.
  • It should retain flexibility but eliminate duplication of efforts across units.
  • It should maintain best practices of business services, and it must honor a culture of compliance and stewardship.

We met on March 31 with Vice Presidents and Deans to discuss the process, provide trend data, and initiate a reduction exercise, just as we had in 2010. They were assigned an 8 percent reduction target for the exercise as we continued to identify more precisely our “Nut.” They were asked to respond to the following questions:

  1. How would you reduce your unit’s 2016 base budget by 8 percent? 
  2. What initiatives and projects will create additional revenue in the next two years?
  3. What suggestions do you have to enhance collaboration with other units or to reduce duplication to improve efficiency in providing services?

On April 5, we met with Staff Council and on April 6 with the combined Faculty Senate Executive Committee and Budget Oversight Committee to discuss principles and process and solicited their help in responding to questions #2 and #3 from above. We have asked for feedback on these questions from faculty and staff by Monday, April 18.

Later today, we will meet with our Cabinet and Deans’ Council to discuss the projected “Nut,” responses to questions posed, and provide unit targets to restructure our base budget over the next two fiscal years (FY17 and FY18).

Based on projected revenue and one-time expenditures, our “Nut” is approximately 6 percent (our exercise was 8 percent) of our base budget, not substantially different from the 4 percent we took on in 2010. However, we will reduce this challenge over a two-year period (FY17: 4 percent, and FY18: 2 percent), not losing sight of our need to explore all opportunities of our top principle of being people-friendly. In addition, we will engage in a number of one-time strategies to replenish our reserves in the next year. This will be discussed on June 2.

While we have kept our faculty and staff representatives up-to-date over the last year, we now want to share the challenge more broadly to get your ideas and suggestions. As we did in 2010, the final solution to cracking our present-day “Nut” will reflect the unique roles of our entire Wright State University family: faculty, staff, students, and our larger community.

I want to thank the faculty and staff who have already responded to our request for ideas on how we might best address these financial times and maintain our momentum. With your help, our leadership team will craft a plan to help navigate through this “New Normal” time for public research universities.

As we have done before, we will keep our focus on our core mission and our unwavering commitment to provide an affordable, high-quality education for those with potential and the drive to succeed.

Thank you,

David R. Hopkins

And the rebuttal:

To President David Hopkins and the Wright State University Board of Trustees:

In light of what has been happening at our University, the weekly e-mails we receive from President Hopkins paint a picture that bears little resemblance to reality. The former Provost has been on paid leave for nearly a year. Now we are told there is a major budget crisis. Yet, thus far and in typical fashion, the administration has directed the deans to plan for an 8% budget cut but otherwise has not shared any substantive information.

If the administration had bothered to share financial information in a meaningful way, perhaps the alleged crisis could have been averted. Instead, the administration spent years talking about budgetary transparency and MDA (and our magnificent salt barn!) All the while, apparently none of the extraordinarily well-paid administrators was minding the store and the Board was paying no attention. Year after year, now-departed Vice President Polatajko delivered a dog and pony show in his annual budgetary presentation to the Board, reported that we were spending money on new initiatives, and gave no hint that a budgetary storm was coming. What has been the return, monetary or otherwise, on our new initiatives? Apparently, not enough to offset the supposed financial crisis that has prompted the administration to ask the Deans to submit plans for 8% cuts in their colleges.

Several million dollars have been budgeted on a branding campaign. The administration disseminated a new logo, realized it looked like the logo for a local recycling company, and withdrew it. Of course, branding is supposed to be about more than just a logo. But have there been any tangible returns on our investment? We are confident that Wright State’s reputation is at a long-time low, branding campaign notwithstanding.

Millions have been spent on a consultant, and that in turn prompted the Ohio Speaker of the House — one of our alumni no less — to announce publicly that House members should use caution when dealing with Wright State. Clearly there were negative returns for that expenditure.

Millions are spent subsidizing intercollegiate athletics, when there is no evidence that students come to Wright State for athletics. In fact, in a recent survey, playing sports was the least significant reported factor in recruitment of students. Of course, the real test would be to ask our students whether they would rather have their tuition decreased by $500 a year or keep intercollegiate athletics. Meanwhile, the administration routinely allows intercollegiate athletics to overrun its already swollen budget. If that is not bad enough, a million dollars was spent building a football field so that a few male students would have a fancy venue for their games when 58% of our students are female. To top it off, the Athletic Director was allowed to fire the men’s basketball coach, who had two years left on his contract. So now we will be paying someone else for two years for doing absolutely nothing!

Millions have been spent on stipends, which is not surprising since WSU has over thirty individuals whose title includes president or provost (e.g., vice president, associate provost) and over forty whose title includes dean, many receiving stipends in addition to their base salaries. Why do we need so many administrators, and why do many of these individuals receive stipends when they are already among the highest paid employees at the University?

The administration and the board have taken on a multimillion dollar liability to hold a presidential debate at Wright State. If the massive funding needed does not materialize, how many employees will have to be furloughed? How many students won’t be able to take the classes they need to graduate?

Meanwhile, faculty and students — the heart of the university — suffer the consequences for these gross failures of leadership. Even more troubling than the firing of the basketball coach, the former provost sits at home collecting a very substantial salary, and we still don’t know whether the reasons for his suspension are only apparent misdeeds, or will actually be subject to prosecution as federal felonies, or something in between. All the while we raise tuition, and our students go deeper and deeper into debt. We admit students who we know have virtually no chance of academic success but take their money anyway, while offering almost no need-based scholarships. Our most distinguished faculty are awarded modest raises and ordered to stop printing handouts that might help those students.

It is time to come clean with the University community before we are forced to redesign our logo again to show the Wright Flyer crashing into the ground.

Very soon, you will receive recommendations from us regarding cuts in expenditures that can be made without imperiling the academic core of the University.

But in the meantime, we have questions.

Who is responsible for the alleged financial crisis, and will anyone be held accountable? What is its real magnitude? What are its causes? Is the alleged shortfall due to overly optimistic estimates of revenue, or is it simply the result of out of control expenses?

Specifically:

Even if the reported financial problems are due in part to continuing reductions in state support, why have the problems been allowed to accumulate to the point where planning for an 8% reduction in the college budgets is suddenly necessary?

How much has Wright State spent investigating the H-1B visa scandal? The investigation by the administration has dragged on for more than a year while the University’s reputation has been dragged through the mud.

Why is Wright State one of only two state universities whose audits for 2015 have yet to be posted on the Ohio Auditor’s website?

Where are the Trustees? Has the Board exercised its fiduciary responsibility at all? How many Board members have benefited from the issuance of H1-B visas or nepotism?

What is going on at WSRI? We keep seeing statements about the millions in research dollars that WSRI and our consultants are bringing into the University, and yet our Carnegie ranking has dropped and each year the University continues to provide millions of dollars to subsidize WSRI.

And to repeat questions we raised above: What returns have we realized from our new initiatives? From the branding campaign? From our expenditures on consultants? From millions poured into intercollegiate athletics? And why does WSU have so many administrators, and of them why do so many receive stipends in addition to their salaries?

The faculty demands transparency and accountability, now.

Martin Kich

President, AAUP-WSU

On Behalf of the AAUP-WSU Executive Committee

It’s time to replace the Board, let Hopkins retire, fire the provost, and bring in professional managers. If the state of Ohio can come in and take over the Dayton Public Schools for poor performance, it should be able to take over a university that’s lost touch with reality.

 

Free Workshop for Veterans in business

Click image to go to registration page

Click image to go to registration page

Please help me spread the word- if you are a Veteran, know a Veteran, or are a friend of a friend of a Veteran- or are married to a Veteran, let them know about this.

It’s totally free– and I’m teaching day 2- which will be my www.websitetology.com seminar.

Contact Name:  Richard G. Portis
Organization: XXI-C Industries LLC
Phone Number:  (877) 522-2747 x101
Email:  [email protected]

VETERAN ENTREPRENEURS WORKSHOP

VETERANS GETTING BACK TO BUSINESS – Reposition-Reshape-Sustain

Dayton, Ohio: Veteran Business Outreach Center (VBOC), VetBizCentral and VBOC Central State University Workforce & Career Development Center Announces Veteran Business Two-Day Workshop in Ohio.

The workshop mission is to get Veterans Back To Business by providing targeted assistance to transitioning soldiers and military veterans who seek to be business owners and grow existing businesses.

The workshop will offer guidance in the areas of government and commercial contracting, internet and web-based business growth strategies including, Explore Basic Business Insights, Explore Essentials For Entrepreneurs, Leadership Skills and Professional Networking Connections, Strengthening New or Existing Business Enterprise Skills and Assessment of Business Concepts & Feasibility Planning.

Vetrepreneur event flyer in Dayton Ohio

Click image to download PDF

PRESENTERS

Richard G. Portis, Pres. XXI-C Industries, LLC, Veteran Business  & Business Consulting Coach.

David Esrati, Chief Creative Officer,  The Next Wave, Service Disabled Veteran Business Owner

Additional Guests Speakers and Local Resource Groups.

Date:               TWO Days April 27-28 2016 / 8:30 am – 4:30 pm

Location:       Central State University-Dayton, 840 Germantown St, Dayton, OH 45402

Open To: Transitioning  Military Veterans & Dependents.

To Register: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/veteran-entrepreneurs-workshop-registration-24236537135?err=29

Facebook:       www.facebook.com/VeteranEntrepreneursWorkshop

Dayton Public Schools is never at fault

There is something very wrong with this front page article in the Dayton Daily news today:

The gate receipts from five Dayton Public Schools home football games over the past two years are missing, according to an audit the school district completed this year. DPS internal auditor Randall Harper says $9,209 in cash ticket sales from four games last fall “has been misplaced,” with no documentation that the deposits were ever picked up. That led Harper to review the 2014 season as well, where he found a fifth missing deposit, bringing the total to $14,312. Asked if there could be even more money missing, because some documentation was improper or missing, Harper said the audit didn’t test all athletic department receipts, so “that may be a possibility.”The district is investigating to determine how the money went missing and who was involved, but there were mixed signals from district officials Friday. Harper said he has “no clue” where the cash went, saying that’s part of the probe led by Jamie Bullens, DPS director of safety and security. Bullens was not in the office Friday, and Harper said police are not involved at this stage.

But school board President Adil Baguirov said two employees have been identified as being “primarily responsible” for the missing money. He did not identify them by name. “No one has been fired so far. It takes a certain time to complete the full investigation and have all the details,” Baguirov said. “I think the primary responsibility is with the (athletic) department. That would be the first line of defense. Secondary would be the treasurer’s department. And after that, all the way to the school board, because that’s where the buck stops.”

…Dayton Public Schools Director of Athletics Jonas Smith on March 4 announced his resignation, effective this summer, citing a desire “to serve as a district athletic director at the building level,” rather than running a six-high school district. Both Smith and Baguirov said the resignation was not tied to Harper’s audit. Baguirov said Smith was not pressured to leave, and Harper said the athletic department was “very cooperative” during the audit.

“This is really unfortunate and I wish it wouldn’t have happened. We’re putting procedures and systems in place so it won’t happen again,” said Smith, who last year served as president of the OHSAA’s board of directors. “As district AD, I don’t handle athletic funds, but I have many employees who do. The procedures and systems that I inherited 11 years ago seemed fine. Nothing ever looked suspicious to me.

”Asked Friday whether the missing money was the fault of the athletics department, treasurer, school board or others, Harper said, “There’s a wide variety of people who could have noticed the missing deposits.”

David Lawrence, DPS chief of school innovation and Smith’s direct supervisor, said no one has been fired, demoted or reprimanded in the case. Lawrence called Harper’s report professional and unbiased, and said it presents an opportunity for DPS to get better, as it considers dozens of applications received for Smith’s AD post.

“There is significant interest in this job,” Lawrence said. “We are looking forward to taking the next chapter in Dayton Public Schools athletics and moving on in a positive direction.

”‘New sheriff in town’

Baguirov said the audit is a validation of the school board’s decision to hire an independent auditor, at a salary of $98,000 per year, reporting directly to the school board.

“We anticipated that we’ll be able to find cases like this, and by intervening early we’ll be able to recover the money, and also send a very strong message that business as usual is not going to happen any more,” Baguirov said. “Anybody who is a potential fraudster is put on notice that you can’t do this. You have a new sheriff in town in the form of the internal auditor.”

Baguirov acknowledged that DPS’ reputation will take a hit among some with this news, but he hoped that more would see internal audits as a positive step. “Now we’ll be able to prevent it almost completely. We’ll be able to give a 99.9 percent assurance that(fraud) is not happening,” Baguirov said. “We do want to be the best district we can possibly be. That’s not BS. It’s not just something we’re saying.”

Source: Dayton Public Schools looks for missing money

First, the fact that fraud was possible, says a lot. Where are the controls? Where were they?

Secondly, even if we don’t know who did it, we do know the chain of command, and apparently several were asleep at the wheel.

But, ultimately, while Baguirov says the buck stops with the school board- their combined pay doesn’t equal that of the superintendent, who is the person in charge.

That person, Lori Ward, isn’t really in charge right now anyway, with a contract in flux. This too is the board’s fault. Their indecision has the entire district in limboland.

In the grand scheme of things, $14,312 is rounding error for the district. And spending $98,000 to hire an auditor to find this theft sounds ludicrous, but, the real question is: Can the people who allow things like this to happen, be trusted to spend at least $20 million on the one-to-one computing initiative?

In the meetings I’ve attended as a member of the Technology Steering Committee, I’ve yet to see a cogent basic description of the products they are purchasing, the sources sought, the rationale for their choices or the projections of continuing costs. All things that would be the norm in the business world. And, we’ve not even begun to discuss the training needs for teachers in the classrooms or disposal strategies at end-of-life, or expectations for students’ achievement with these new tools.

This city, this school board, this region, abhors strong leadership. For whatever reason, we rebel against anyone who steps up with a vision without a herd of followers. The sign at the city limits should read “Welcome to the Dayton Region” (because we can’t associate ourselves entirely with the central entity despite it being the only thing on the map that counts) “Iconoclasts not welcome.”

The Dayton Public Schools are horribly broken. There is no clear-cut vision to take us anywhere but into state receivership. There is no one willing to call anyone out for their failing at anything from poor test scores to lost funds. It’s almost a joke that Baguirov claims there is a new sheriff in town, because the auditor is really only a deputy, and like Barney Fife, is only trusted with one bullet. Let’s hope this wasn’t the best he could do.

It’s time to deny service to Mississippi

I hate MississippiTim Cook, CEO of Apple, is gay. According to Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant, some people are allowed to decline him service.

Mississippi’s governor signed far-reaching legislation allowing individuals and institutions with religious objections to deny services to gay couples…

The measure signed by Gov. Phil Bryant of Mississippi allows churches, religious charities and privately held businesses to decline services to people if doing so would violate their religious beliefs on marriage and gender.

Source: Anti-Gay Laws Bring Backlash in Mississippi and North Carolina

Apparently, Mississippi didn’t learn about civil rights and non-discrimination from Dr. Martin Luther King, so maybe it’s time for Tim Cook to teach them a lesson.

Let’s face it- Citizens United says corporations are people too- and have a right to buy elections, and by the same standard, they should be able to decline to serve an entire state if it wishes to discriminate.

My proposal is that Apple shut down all their Apple stores in Mississippi, tomorrow. Then, shut off access to the entire state to the iTunes store, to iCloud, to Apple Maps and any and all programs on residents’ iPhones.

I would hope that Google joins in- and sets up a geofence and denies service to the entire state. No Google. No Google Maps. No Android updates.

Throw in Facebook. Geofence the entire state. If you are in Mississippi, you’re off Facebook. Just like that.

I would think that if these three companies cut off all services within the state- Mississippi would cease to exist- but, for good measure- Ebay, and PayPal can join in too. All of these companies have believed in and supported diversity. Microsoft can jump in too- although who really uses Bing?

Since we don’t have legislators or leaders who do anything without the almighty dollar directing them- maybe, just maybe, teaching the people of Mississippi a lesson not to elect bigots, racists and haters to office will send a message to all of these holier than thou misanthropes a lesson.

Enough people died in Mississippi to end segregation in the sixties. Supposedly, we moved forward- to where we no longer judge people by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.

America has no place for bigots like Phil Bryant.

Which of our corporate chieftains will have the fortitude to step up and stop this hate from spreading?

You’re fired

Uncle Sam saying You're FiredTo the Republican senators who refuse to do their job and vote on President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee Merrick B. Garland, you’re fired.

Typically, people who refuse to do the job they are supposed to do- get fired, at least in the private sector. In the public sector- not so much.

Right now, more than ever, we need to take a look at who should be fired for not doing their job- and I’m going to start at the top.

President Obama- you promised hope and change. Yet, the same assholes that destroyed the global economy just before you came into office- haven’t been prosecuted, or even slapped on the wrist. While the income gap continues to grow, you bailed out the banks, insurance companies, and scam artists who had packaged mortgages, lied about them, built a Ponzi scheme, collapsed it- and robbed the American people blind. Need a refresher- go watch “The Wolf of Wall Street” and even better- “The Big Short.” I know Elliot Spitzer liked hookers, but he seemed to be the only guy out there who would have held anyone accountable. Your boy Eric Holder- our former Attorney General- used to be a part of the cartel that came up with MERS and robosigning of documents that were the keys to most American’s largest investment- their home/mortgage/deed- and that mess is still going to drag on for years.

Richard Cordray, who is the head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau should probably be fired as well. Not, because he hasn’t tried to do his job, but because he’s not been effective. Interest rates are still low for rich people and corporations- and almost usurious for those at the bottom. The fact that credit cards can still charge over 20% and be open accounts, while the prime is near zero, says you failed Rich. Go home to Ohio and run for governor.

Speaking of governor- John Kasich, who was elected by the people to be governor of Ohio- and has spent the last year, prancing around the country pretending to be presidential material and actually costing the taxpayers money to keep him safe and secure- while not doing his job- you’re fired too. How many jobs can the common man have where you can get paid by one, while not doing it?

On the local front, it should be obvious to someone that Wright State University should be hit with a blow torch. Start with the president who has to hire lobbyists and consultants with huge paychecks to go talk to the people he works for (hint- they are in Columbus- not on your board of trustees). Zero controls or checks and balances have brought one scandal after another. And here again, getting fired doesn’t mean you lose your job, unlike in the private sector. Provost Sundaram Narayanan got the axe, but because of tenure, is still employed. Go figure.

We’ve seen one departure from the board of trustees, Nina Joshi resigned, without having to take any flak for the questionable benefits her firm, UES, may have received from the H1B visa scam. Other trustees are pretending that they haven’t done anything wrong either- like the president of the board who voted on his own son’s hiring by the university to a questionable specially created position. Seriously, we need to go to Japan and learn about honoring the company ideals- so these cretins would feel shame and do seppuku on themselves. Maybe WSU athletic director Bob Grant, can join them all- since after firing the men’s basketball team coach for lack of “fan engagement”- I bet the Nutter Center would sell out to watch these people line up- and disembowel themselves- since apparently, winning games and graduating your players isn’t enough. BTW- when the successful women’s coach left right after firing of the men’s coach- it probably had more to do with his not wanting to work for a ruthless athletic director.

And while we’re on the subject of firing in higher Ed- you all know my position about Sinclair’s expansion into Warren, Greene, and Preble counties– without taxation. Fire President Steven Johnson and bring in someone who understands who pays for his subsidies.

Moving on, there are oh so many more opportunities to fire people in Dayton. Nan Whaley, Shelley Dickstein and Aaron Sorrell- that hole where the Dayton Daily News building used to be? You’re fired. How about letting the Community Blood center tear down that beautiful block of buildings just south of the Blood Center? Another empty lot, great. I was just in Cincinnati on Friday night- and why is it that the hottest parts of downtown still have all the old buildings? hmmmm….

The Dayton Board of Education sort of fired Superintendent Lori Ward by not renewing her contract, or that of Treasurer Craig Jones. Both are still drawing a paycheck, but no replacements are in sight- and in the meantime, the company that they hired to staff the district with substitute teachers may be breaking the law by not treating long-term subs more like employees- and playing musical chairs with sub spots. The reality is, DPS was short 30 teachers this year, hello? Isn’t that job number one- have a teacher in the classroom?

To all the local taxing jurisdictions of Montgomery County. As a small business owner, can I tell you the idea of trying to track and pay all of your individual income taxes is a ridiculous burden, and that we now have an area, Austin Landing, where depending on how many floors your building has, actually dictates who pays income tax or not. Seriously- all of you- FIRED. We need to come up with a taxation strategy that is fair, universal, and easy to report- like a statewide income tax- that’s redistributed to the locals. One taxing authority, one tax rate. Less paperwork, fewer penalties and let’s get on with business. Oh, yeah- and if you are a little podunk government like Beavercreek township, or Moraine etc. you don’t get any of the money back- because you shouldn’t exist. We need to implement some kind of limits on what qualifies as a jurisdiction worthy of taxpayer support based on a ratio of people to governors. We don’t need to support 26 police chiefs, or 24 Chief Building Inspectors, or 28 city managers. It’s time to do what the big banks have done, the hospitals have done, the insurance companies have done, the grocery stores have done- and consolidate. All you straphangers living off the stupid jurisdictional boundaries created by the Northwest Ordinance of 1785- you’re fired too.

Who would you fire? I’m sure I’m going to make someones list (don’t worry- I’ve been fired before).

New plans for the Dayton Arcade leaked

poker-tournamentsThe sudden abandonment of the Fairgrounds project by Miller Valentine left many scratching their heads, especially when their new project, the Dayton Arcade is a project that’s been floundering for almost 30 years.

An anonymous source says Miller Valentine and the city are busy lobbying to grant a limited gambling license to the Arcade for, ready, a poker palace.

Dayton has been identified as poker heaven, with leagues, private games, and bootleg poker operations running rampant and around the clock, especially since the elimination of online poker.

The difference between poker and other table games- if there is actual skill involved, and the house only takes a small rake on every hand. This is why normal casino operations devote a small amount of space to poker, as compared to other actual gambling where the house has much better returns.

The idea is to use poker to draw other businesses, and provide the critical mass of people to sustain round-the-clock food, massages, and other services, as well as liquor- which MV will hold on to to generate revenue.

The Arcade’s poker rotunda also will make a stunning backdrop for televised tournaments.

MV sees this as an opportunity to also lure a boutique hotel operator to the site- and offer “Poker getaway weekends” for the serious poker player.

Plans to have the initiative on the ballot for the fall are being finalized with a hopedfor opening date of April 1, 2017.

Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt in Dayton Public Schools

Lori Ward Superintendent of Dayton Public schools?Gee thanks Dayton Board of Education. It’s been about a month since you decided not to renew the contracts of Superintendent Lori Ward and Treasurer Craig Jones.
Usually, bold moves like that have the next step of hiring a replacement. In an organization that’s failing as absolutely as yours, this lackadaisical approach to naming the next superintendent and treasurer is only achieving one thing: FUD. That’s Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt- a great strategy for failing organizations.

This is the time of year, when other districts are looking to hire for the next school year. Without a person in charge, the smart people (the ones you want to keep) either think they have a line on the top job- or, they start to entertain offers. Either way, considering DPS was unable to fill 30 teaching positions this year (an indication of failing leadership if there ever was one) every day we go without a decision, is another day that the kids lose, the staff loses, and the city loses.

The old adage if you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen still applies. And, even if this board can stand the heat, it’s not proven if any of them actually know how to cook. The latest flurry of sideshow distractions like reconfiguring the district to bring back middle schools, the 1-to-1 computer rollout, and the ongoing racial tensions over security and guilt by association, make observers wonder if the board has any idea of what a functioning board should be doing.

When Trotwood pillaged DPS last year and stole top teachers, principals and administrators it should have been a serious wake-up call  about the superintendent’s grasp and connection with staff. Retention of top people is a good indication of competence.

If the board, led by the young Ph.D., can’t figure out a plan of action, maybe turning in resignations might be the right move. Inaction isn’t action. And, twiddling your thumbs while the district hangs in the lurch is unacceptable.

Make a decision. Either renew a contract, or audition and name a replacement- but do it soon.

The clock is already ticking to the state takeover.