In my June 20th post, I reviewed the sites of the 6 choices voters have for Dayton Mayor and Commission for an indication of what they would spend $138M windfall from the feds on. Their answers, with the exception of Turner Sloss’s were almost non-existent. To start, identify the problem:
what strategic play should Dayton make with its $138M windfall? Let’s look at what our primary problems are first:
Poverty, racial segregation, loss of population, lack of desirable services in all neighborhoods, public safety, obsolete/upside down housing stock, poor schools, odd boundaries, provincial politics. Did I miss any? (as if this list isn’t way too long already).
Typically, politically driven “economic development” focuses on creating jobs as the panacea to all problems, yet that system of carrots to lure businesses in has been broken and corrupt for decades.
Source: 138 Million ways to not blow it: Dayton Commission 2021 candidates plans | Esrati
In advertising there are two ways to get attention: paid media and earned media. Paid is when you buy ads and hope your target media sees them, earned is when you do something that’s talk worthy, attention getting, different enough to be noticed.
I take the same approach to leveraging $138M to impact the most Dayton residents and bring attention to Dayton as a leading innovator in new approaches to our old problems.
Look, you already pay out the butt for it. A half percent sales tax on everything you buy helps fund it. Fed funds (your tax dollars subsidize it) and because this is a town GM built, we look at public transit entirely wrong- as something poor people use. It’s time to break that mindset. After your home, your car is probably your second biggest expense. Buying it, filling it with pollution spewing gas, insurance, license plate, parking, maintaining roads etc. And, yes, if you’re poor and can’t afford a car, it’s probably your lifeline to get to work.
In big cities like NYC, London, Paris, Chicago, public transit is essential and you can live without a car. In Dayton Ohio, we don’t wonder why so many people live in poverty- nor do we think of ways to get them out of it. Making RTA free will help poor people save money. It will also allow us to build things on surface parking lots downtown and increase density and tax revenue, cut pollution and offer access to low wage workers to employers who need them. Just realize Amazon warehouses have to have parking for their trucks and also all the employees- and those parking lots cost money.
How do we fund it? Bring ads back onto buses (some genius stopped selling them a few years back) and that’s half the $10M you need to make up for lost fare revenue (estimated at $10M a year) and the other half, well, I’ve got an idea on how to get that covered without tax dollars, but, in the meantime, commit $5M a year for 3 years to see what happens.
We’re down to $123M.
Childcare, 24 hour.
Free for city residents who work in the city. Half price for those that work in the city but live outside.
This isn’t a new idea, I first proposed it when I ran for Mayor back in 1991. Number one problem for poor people is affordable child care. We spend a ton of money on welfare and other support, when what young families really need is the ability to go to work, without having most of their income going to childcare providers. Why it needs to be 24 hours a day, because if we want to build things again, assembly lines make more money when they work 24/7. If there is going to be a push to bring manufacturing back to Dayton- and build on what’s left of our tool and die industry- this will help.
And, poverty is the worst thing for kids- isn’t that what “Learn to Earn” and the “Pre-school promise” keep telling us?
Let’s build a 24 hour day care attached to the new West Dayton Library right on 35, near our abandoned industrial sites. Let’s bring industry back to West Dayton- along with jobs. Let’s keep Rosa Parks open 24 hours as well. On the East Side- build onto the East side library on Waterveliet, using some of that old Belmont land.
And, let’s get Premier and UD to work together to make one new daycare center for both of their employees and others, on the old fairgrounds site to serve it, and downtown workers. North East- collaborate with Childrens Medical Center and build another. For this, we’d seed it with $40M- and look for a lot of money from philanthropy and the feds.
We’re down to $83M
The Dayton Affordable Care for All
I’m stealing out of Dr. Mike Ervin’s playbook. We have a very expensive duopoly health care system in Dayton that is choking our economy instead of stimulating it. Health care is a major stumbling block for all small businesses and even big ones.
Dr. Ervin had an idea to go after the largest employers in the region to provide a cheaper managed care plan than the two insurance companies offered- and basically, blackmailed the insurers into buying him out- making him rich, and keep the status quo.
I would talk to the two hospital groups and say we’ll take our health insurance money from the city and from DPS, two of the largest employers in the region, and find some others, and either build a new public hospital and offer a co-op style benefit- no insurance company needed, or offer the money directly to the hospitals in exchange for actual health care instead of “insurance” folks in the middle.
The duopoly already helps control Dayton politics through their backing of things like the tax raising Issue 9, and backing candidates they like. It’s time to turn the tables. It’s time to cut the BS about their “non-profit” status. If you can afford to pay your CEO $4M a year and a bunch of administrators $1M a year plus, you aren’t a non-profit. Same goes if you can hire a private police force that reports to your CEO- that has complete autonomy- yet, full police powers.
It’s time to pass a tax on income of “non-profit” companies that cap pay at 10x the median pay of their organization, or 20x the lowest pay. Either they pay a 50% income tax on anything over the limit- or start charging property taxes just like everyone else pays. And, btw- you can’t deed restrict competition from building a new hospital on Good Sam land. It’s also time to charge them $75K a year for every gun carrying rent a cop pretending to be a police officer instead of a real Dayton police officer- but, this is also part of another initiative.
How much would this cost? No one knows. One, taking the revenue from the insurance companies and the hospitals of the largest employers health care dollars and stop paying the middle man of an insurance company- automatically cuts about 35% off the bill. Second, without high priced CEO’s running the show- and building marble and glass 5 star hotels instead of industrial strength medical facilities without frills- but high on latest tech and profit sharing docs- working for better outcomes cuts cost. And, by opening this plan up to small businesses in the City of Dayton at very affordable rates, we see a huge boom in real employment in the city.
Cost: I’d be willing to seed it with the $80M and forget anything else. Throw in the $30M a year the city and DPS spend on health insurance (I’m guessing based on old memories)- I’m pretty sure, we could become the first city in the nation to have a true universal affordable health system. Face it- we already built the model to solve grocery stores for the underserved with the Gem City Market, why not do the same with health care?
Plus- a little Billionaire money from the former Mrs Amazon and a few other billionaires and we’d be set.
BTW- Ideas like this guarantee that if I ran again, I’d be facing opponents with obscene amounts of money to silence me.
Equity in Housing Valuation
This one is also a powerful game changer where airing the dirty little secrets of a corrupt industry (like health care in the US) can go a long way to fixing an institutionalized problem.
When banks used to redline to discriminate against lending in Black neighborhoods, or communities like Oakwood passed laws to keep Jews out, the Feds stepped in and fixed it. No one has stepped in to fix the new version of redlining- valuation, for both sale and tax purposes. It’s time to stop appraisals from saying the same house in West Dayton as one in Belmont has a valuation of half or more than the other.
Currently appraisers for banks use “comps” usually within a mile radius of a home and come up with a number that tells you what your house is or isn’t worth. Who made the banks king of valuation in the first place?
It’s time for the City of Dayton to put in a universal valuation rubric for housing values. Houses can only be evaluated by these factors, square footage, number of rooms, garage space, size of lot and condition. Nothing else. And stop playing games with tax valuation as well- at least on owner-occupied properties to start with. Remember the saying “A mans home is his castle”- well, it’s not in Montgomery County- since they’ll jack your tax rates up 40% at the drop of a hat and push you out.
The tax value of your home is what you paid for it. If you sell it for more to someone else- that’s their price- and that’s it. But, having your neighbors new garage raise the tax cost of your house is criminal.
If we don’t undo the framework of institutional racism that holds West Dayton property values in the dumper- we’re complicit.
We may end up spending money fighting lawsuits- but, we may also start seeing investment back in West Dayton when property values have to be appraised on equal values instead of on the racist valuations.
This is the ultimate big picture solution for Dayton (the city on the map- not the actual city limits). If we went to Countywide government and eliminated 30+ banana republics- with elected officials, city managers, police chiefs, etc- all being condensed down to a single government- we’d save hundreds of millions of dollars a year- so we might be able to have parks and recs like Kettering across the whole county. Or have a single court system- that even has “Night court” so stupid things don’t have to make you miss work. Imagine how much easier payroll becomes for small business- if there is only one income tax authority to pay.
These are my discussion starters on how to invest the Covid relief funds. I’d love to hear your ideas in the comment. I’m sure not hearing much out of the candidates.