Measuring the wrong damn thing. Valuing the wrong measurements.

heisenberg-mesureI never got paid more for doing better on a standardized test- I got paid more for bringing unique solutions to the table.

When we hear people talking about running government like a business, most of the time, they are really trying to say “put some measurable, quantifiable metrics on government, so we can keep things under control.” Unfortunately, because most people are of average intelligence- when a Republican says “I’m for smaller government” that translates to “smaller means less to control” so it must be “better.”

Reform, be it school reform, government reform, health care, welfare reform, judicial reform all require an assessment of what the real objectives are, and how do we set meaningful measurements to work toward. In fact, to have a conversation about anything with large ramifications- the first question should always be “what is the right goal- and how do we quantify it.”

A long time ago, I read a business book with profound impact on my approach to solving business problems- “The Great Game of Business” by Jack Stack. It tells the story of a young MBA sent to a failing re-manufacturing plant that International was looking to close up. When Mr. Stack got there- he realized that no one knew the goal, or how score was kept. Kind of like trying to play football without understanding what a first down was, or how you scored. He decided that if the employees knew how the score was kept- profitability, they could all work to make sure the parts they rebuilt, were in fact valuable- ie. the cost to make them, was less than the cost to sell them. This was “revolutionary” thinking. He taught everyone how to read a balance sheet, how to track costs, how to apply costs, and how to value their contribution. The story continues on how he and a group of managers, hocked their homes, bought the plant, and turned the business into an ESOP (employee stock ownership plan).

Guess what, our government was supposed to be an ESOP. We pay taxes, our investment, and we hire our managers, the politicians, and we’re supposed to get a return on our investment, but we all know this hasn’t been working out well- especially since we’ve seen the value of our votes diluted by our overly expensive system of picking our managers.

Bringing this down to the local level. I’ve spent a ton of time the last few months, working as an advocate to get services delivered to a veteran. I’ve tangled with the VA and their SSVF program, the Montgomery County Veterans Services Commission and a few people in between.

The measurements that we’re supposedly focused on in this country is slowing the rate of veterans committing suicide and making sure they aren’t homeless.

First question is that really what we should be measuring?

There’s a philosophy called expectancy theory- which says if you believe something to be the expected outcome, that’s what you get. I expect Dayton Public Schools to have a 35% drop out rate- so I’m going to focus on “Dropout prevention.” That’s what we’ve done. Maybe if we focused on making the diploma the goal for all, and looking in every available nook and cranny on how to make that diploma the most valuable and attainable goal, we’d do better?

How about working the system on veterans homelessness a different way? Maybe it’s cheaper to create a way for businesses to hire and support veterans with incentives- like having the government pick up the first $20,000 of tax liabilities on at risk veterans? Or working with veteran owned businesses to have a competitive advantage in hiring and protecting low functioning veterans? One thing about hiring a veteran- there is no health care costs, since they have coverage through the VA. We already know small businesses struggle with health care costs (because our system is broken) – so maybe offering to pay for a civilians health care costs for every at risk veteran you hire- giving them a two for one deal?

I’m not saying these are vetted solutions- but, they are a different approach to the problem.

With our local system, it took the MCVSC almost 10 days to issue a check for “emergency food assistance” – thanks to some help from Commissioner Debbie Lieberman, that’s not going to be the case anymore. It took longer for a food stamp card- and we still don’t have the “Obama Phone.” All these things that are mission critical to a successful transition from homeless to homed, are falling through the cracks of a system that is measuring the wrong things. Delivering food stamps to the veteran is the current measurement- but how fast isn’t. See the problem?

How does Fed Chairwoman Janet Yellen measure the success of the economy to make decisions about interest rate hikes? She’s got a ton of complex data that she relies on. How do I? Look at gas prices. We do well when gas prices are low, since so many of us are car dependent to get to work. One veteran I work with is currently living on $238 a week take home. He lives in an apartment in Trotwood costing $485 a month, he drives to his job paying $14.02 in Lebanon (he pays $600 a month in child support). He’s facing eviction because he was cut off from SSVF for “making too much money” – and when you figure in food, utilities and gas money, you can see where a 50 cent swing per gallon of gas makes or breaks him each month. Janet Yellen doesn’t understand that. Nor do the government income guidelines.

The first objective in any problem solving is making sure you are using the right measurements and valuing the correct data.

This is what the point of “Moneyball” was in picking winners in pro sports. Measuring the wrong things doesn’t get you the right results.

I can think of lots of things we’re not tracking correctly, but I’d like to hear yours in the comments.

Feel free to talk about abandoned houses in Dayton, unemployment figures, heroin overdoses, or graduation rates. I’d like your 2 cents.

Montgomery County Veterans Services need a lesson in service

On May 12th- my office manager took our homeless veteran down to Montgomery County Veterans Services to ask for financial assistance. This was after we had to supply yet another 90-day transaction history of bank account, which had been closed and written off for a $71 overdraft.

He was literally penniless, homeless (sleeping on my couch), without a phone, a car (and he’s a pizza delivery driver), and working 3-4 hours a day doing prep at a pizza shop for the last week after coming out of an extended hospitalization.

The letter promising assistance at a later date from the Montgomery County veterans Service Center

The letter promising assistance at a later date from the Montgomery County Veterans Service Center

They were very helpful, paying off his old utility bills so we could get utilities turned on in his new apartment that I was going to have to front the rent and deposit and co-sign on, since St. Vincent DePaul had erroneously claimed he was ineligible for SSVF (Supportive Services for Veteran Families). They were generous- they decided to give him $485 in food assistance, which happens to be equivalent to the first month’s rent.

That was due on May 13th, the day I had to sign the lease.

On May 17th, they cut a letter and on May 19th I received it. Thinking I’d find a check for $485 in the envelope, I was overjoyed to find instead- a letter telling me there would be a check in “7 to 10 working days from the date of this correspondence.”

Really?

Let’s see, we pay 5 commissioners almost $10K a year to oversee an organization of 9 people supposedly there to assist vets, all making more than the amount of cash assistance a week- and we can’t cut a check immediately for $485 and hand it to him? And note, when they were writing the check, I was setting up a new bank account at Wright Patt Credit Union for him with his first big 2 week paycheck- $135, of which we were able to deposit a whopping $80 because he had to pay some co-workers back money he had borrowed while in the hospital.

The saddest thing- after this whopping grant, he’s only eligible to come back one more time this year to ask for help. They have a limit of 2 requests per year. They turned down requests for rent, deposit, cell phone allowance, car. They turned down paying the water bill he stuck his former landlord with because the landlord had it in his name (I’m not feeling so bad about that one).

But- the question is- for this investment in manpower and management, why can’t we have a veterans’ assistance program that can have the authority to cut a check for at least $2,500 on the spot? Why did we have to keep supplying additional records (our packet was literally an inch thick), to even get in the door? Why did no one from MCVS reach out to us to help out with processing him for other benefits after my scathing blog post on Sunday? The VA Chief, Glenn Costie was in touch with me Sunday afternoon- and by Wednesday, my arguments for the Veteran’s status had been escalated to Atlanta and DC and validated- he is qualified for SSVF.

I was just interrupted from writing this by a call from Herb Davis, director of MCVS. We, Jen and I, just had a 30-minute discussion about our experience. We’ve been invited to speak to the entire board. We questioned how you can call a check as much as 20 days out “emergency food assistance.” We asked why when paying off the old utility bills, was no offer made for future bills, nor was he offered help in applying for PIP (a program for paying utilities for extremely low-income residents). No one offered to begin his application for Veterans’ Benefits either.

Mr. Davis admitted and accepted his office’s failings. He still relies on “processes and procedures” as reasons for their lackluster performance. Sending our Veteran out to get PIP on his own, without a phone- is kind of like sending someone out to fish, without a pole, hook or bait.

Jen’s final question/statement was “Are you there to give a man a fish, or to teach a man to fish.”

I think right now- the answer is, we’re here to give you a piece of paper for the rights to a fish, at a later date.

Dayton, Ohio, where you need an advocate to get help from the advocates

Note- this is a longer than usual post. Many of you won’t care to finish it- TL/DR. But, if you care about the state of veterans in our community, I ask you to please read, and think, and hopefully, reach out to your local elected leaders and say “this is unacceptable.” I don’t want to pull up the statistics on how many veterans are committing suicide every day in our country to guilt you into action, I just want to show that if I can do this, you can make a difference. Thank you.

It’s been 2 days since I had a homeless veteran sleeping on my couch. He’s now in a 1-bedroom apartment, with food, clothes, the beginnings of a kitchen, and a friend is over there as I write this, helping him unpack, organize and work on the life skills for independent living.

I am cosigned on the lease, I’ve probably invested close to 75 hours working on this, and between myself and another friend, am at least $1,100 out of pocket.

For right now- this is a happy ending. The story of how he got here is an indictment of our country’s completely unrealistic approach to mental health care and the failings of our social services safety net. But without an advocate, with access to a phone, fax, copier, the internet, and a whole Rolodex of connections, this story would be different, but, unlike the death of a young basketball player, there would be no service, no social media posts, no articles on the front page- just another veteran, dead with an inch in the paper- if that.

Rewind to the beginning. Sean (not his real name) was a star athlete growing up in Dayton. He went away to a military prep school, and then to one of the military academies. Somewhere in his Junior year, he had a manic episode to top all manic episodes. While it ran in the family, this was severe. Could it have been caused by the stress of the academy, while participating in D-1 sports? Sure- could it have been compounded because of steroid use- much more common then, possibly?  He was discharged with a DD-214, honorably. It says 3 years, 4 months 22 days of active service. In the part that’s not for public consumption- it says “Medically disenrolled.” He wasn’t even in a condition to sign it when he left the military.

Dayton VA ad promoting access- by pointing out myths of eligibility

The VA advertises to let people know that all veterans are eligible for care

For over 20 years, he’s struggled with his illness, never going to the VA for help, not because he didn’t need it, but probably because he didn’t realize he was eligible. Just today, the Dayton VA ran an ad in the paper with the common misconceptions of eligibility- it’s a problem the organization is fighting hard to overcome.

Between the discharge and today, he got married, fathered a son, held a sales job, and had episodic bouts of illness, resulting in loss of job, wife, family. He was particularly close to his father who died young, at 62.

In the end, his athletic connections have been the ones that have served him best. One friend, has packed up his things and moved him more than a few times, when extended hospitalizations have set him back.

Another, re-connected with him about half a dozen years ago- and offered him a job as a pizza delivery driver. He got a place in my ‘hood, and showed up for work like clockwork. He was living on tips and his 100% disability with Social Security. He was functioning, but, would have episodes of bad judgment. In 2012 he abused a girlfriend’s credit card. And sometime in 2015 he went to a buy-here pay-here car lot, and someone took advantage of him, selling him a $9K Honda Civic for $18k at 25% interest.

Next thing you know- the wheels fall off. Social Security says he’s making too much money and cuts his benefits off. He takes a second job delivering pizzas, and stops taking one of his meds because he needs to stay awake. The mania gets worse and worse, and next thing you know his caseworker at Eastway sends the police to his door to check on him after he had talked about harming himself. He ends up in Miami Valley Hospital for a week to adjust his meds. He gets out, he goes for a few beers at Blind Bob’s to celebrate. Bad idea. The next few days are hell for everyone around him. Next thing you know, he’s MIA. Finally we find him in the Warren County Jail. He was on the side of I-75 hitting golf balls when the state troopers found him. He’s not wearing a belt, and when he goes to get some ID out of the car- moons the cops accidentally. Two charges: public intox and public indecency. They’ve already shuffled him out of the jail to Summit Behavioral in Cincinnati- one of the few remaining state mental-health treatment facilities. He’s there for a few months.

I end up with both durable and medical power of attorney and begin my quest to get him into the VA system and get him the help and benefits that he’s earned.

One friend moves his stuff into storage. The apartment looks like a disaster. Obviously, his illness had been progressing for a while- but no one had checked on him. The car gets turned back in. They stick him with a $12K debt on a car worth $8K that they sold for $6K. The medical bill from Miami Valley for a week in the psych ward- over $30K. Hmmm, I could have sent him on a cruise on the French Rivera first class and paid off his car for that- and it would have probably been more therapeutic.

I’m gathering the list of documents needed to get help from the Montgomery County Veterans Services Commission. I’m a little bit lucky in that I know the director, and Ashley Webb who sits on the commission. I’m also lucky I know a few lawyers, because I need to find his divorce decree, get bank records and apply for his DD-214. Turns out, after waiting five weeks, I call St. Louis and they tell me they don’t have it- I have to call the Academy. Luckily there, a sharp sergeant takes pity on me, and makes a superhuman effort and gets me the 214 next day and the medical and scholastic records in days. Yes, the military does run on NCO power, no matter what your Congressman thinks.

He gets discharged from Summit Behavioral to “The Lodge”- a halfway house operated by Eastway. They allow for 28 days of temporary housing (after an extension is granted). He’s there 4 days and back in Miami Valley again. While he’s gone- his clothes, his phone, the radio his kid gave him, all disappear, as do a bunch of his days that he was eligible for a bed.

In the mean time, my office manager, Jen Selhorst, has a background in property management and has worked carefully with St. Vincent DePaul’s SSVF program. She even applied for a job as a case manager there but was sent packing because her degree was in marketing- not social work. She’d volunteered for several veterans’ groups. She jumped all over this.

SSVF is a federal program from the VA- administered by local non-profits. Here, we have the St. Vincent’s program and one run by Volunteers of America. Bonus points- my company does work for the guy who runs the VOA program. We touch base with him as well. He tells me the two programs collaborate and coordinate and work well together. Since we’ve already begun with St. VdP- stick with them.

The clock is ticking on the halfway house. He has to be out by last Tuesday. We need to find him a place- Jen scours Craigslist and finds a 1-bedroom on Wayne Ave. She meets the landlord’s agent, the case worker- they approve the space, sign the lease. This is a huge win- SSVF brings a case worker- who will help with signing him up for food stamps, the PIP program, get him an “Obama Phone” and will co-sign the lease and pay the deposit and up to 6 months’ rent to help him get back on his feet.

From the regs- by law, this is what they do:

Supportive services means any of the following provided to address the needs of a participant:

  • Outreach services as specified under § 62.30
  • Case management services as specified under § 62.31
  • Assisting participants in obtaining VA benefits as specified under § 62.32
  • Assisting participants in obtaining and coordinating other public benefits as specified under § 62.33
  • Other services as specified under § 62.34
    Supportive services grant means a grant awarded under this part.

Except come Tuesday- move-in day, we find out that they say he’s not eligible for SSVF- because he was always in “training status” and never active duty.

Before I’d accepted the POA- I’d done a bunch of searches on if he was eligible for VA care- since he was at the academy. Everything I’d found said yes. However, since I’m not being paid to take care of him, or advocate for him, I’d focused 100% of my efforts on keeping him off the streets. By 11 a.m. Tuesday- he’s homeless with 2 garbage bags of clothes, his meds and no place to go except my couch, which is where he landed.

I’m pissed. I contact my friend State Rep. Jim Butler– who had a similar military record- except his medical discharge came while he was training to be a fighter pilot after he’d graduated from the academy. He looks into SSVF and finds the regs. http://www.va.gov/HOMELESS/ssvf/docs/SSVF_Program_Guide_March_2015_Edition.pdf

I look at the index- see “ELIGIBILITY” page 16- and see the only requirement is a DD-214, but they are all hung up about a line on page 6:

Veteran: A person who served in the active military, naval, or air service, and who was discharged or released there from under conditions other than dishonorable. Note that the period of service must include service in active duty for purposes other than training.
Yet on page 17:
DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS SUPPORTIVE SERVICES FOR VETERAN FAMILIES PROGRAM GUIDE
LAST UPDATED MARCH, 2014
Section V | Page 17 SECTION V | PARTICIPANT ELIGIBILITY SECTION B.
Determining Veteran Household Status Eligibility
As discussed above, eligible participants will be part of a “Veteran family,” meaning that the person to be served is either (a) a Veteran; or (b) a member of a family in which the head of household, or the spouse of the head of household, is a Veteran.
1. Verifying Veteran Status
As per 38 CFR 62.2, “Veteran” is defined as “a person who served in the active military, naval, or air service, and who was discharged or released there from under conditions other than dishonorable.”
Note that bad conduct discharges are not the same as dishonorable, and as such, are eligible.
Furthermore, for Veterans with multiple discharges, the best discharge status may be used for SSVF eligibility.
To prove a participant’s Veteran status, grantees should obtain at least one of the following documents:
  • Veteran’s Department of Defense (DD) Form 214 Certificate of Release Discharge from Active Duty
  • VBA Statement of Service (SOS)
  • VHA Veteran’s Identity card
  • VISTA printout from VHA healthcare provider
  • Hospital Inquiry System (HINQS)
  • VBA award letter of service connected disability payment or non-service connected pension
  • Veterans Choice Card.

You’ll notice- the text is the same- except for the “other than training” which doesn’t show up anywhere else. The DD-214 clearly says he has active duty time. This “training” exception seems random. Mr. Butler is following up with congressional contacts.

However, if he had a VA ID card, he’d be good too- but, currently with the VA taking as long as 6 months to process claims, I’d focused on housing first. Note, at no time did anyone at Montgomery County Veterans Services volunteer to manage his intake to the VA system- all they did was push the inch-thick stack of papers back at me saying “you don’t have a  photo ID” for him- we can’t proceed.

In fact, the lady at the desk had me fill out the paperwork and write down what he was requesting for “Emergency Assistance” – I’d written down pay off utility bills, first month’s rent and deposit, cell phone, and something else- and she said “We don’t do deposits or cell phones.” Later, when I was questioned about the photo ID- I asked could he get a car- since he was a pizza delivery driver- and the answer was no. When I asked if there was a list of things that they could do- the answer was no. But I was told to make a good request, because they can only help twice a year. Really? Only twice a year?

Talking this over with Ashley Webb- he said he’d been researching VSC in other counties, what they require for assistance, what they offer. He’d already caught the fact that the Montgomery County VSC had 6 extra political appointees illegally- and was now working to figure out why they routinely give back over half their veteran budget to the County General Fund every year. When I’d founded VOB-108, now VOB Ohio, you would have thought they would have supported us with open arms- with our Vetrepreneur Academy and other Veteran focused issues- but, no. Their director came to maybe 2 of our events in 7 years- and never contributed either ideas or money to help us help veterans.

I’d even applied for a vacancy on the VSC. The seats are appointed by a panel of judges. I wasn’t even interviewed, and they gave the seat to a guy who is equally as dismayed about the malfeasance displayed by this organization. With two of the five seats now occupied by people with a heartbeat, and possibly with an investigation following this post- we may see some changes.

In order to get our veteran into his current home, thanks have to go out to the Blue Star Mothers of America Dayton Chapter who immediately cut a check for the deposit, came up with kitchen supplies, a crock pot and a microwave- and a care package including more snack food than a whole soccer team can eat in a week. Perhaps we should turn over the Veterans Service Commission funds to them- as well as the SSVF funds. No delays, no hoops to jump through. Veteran in need- what can we do to help?

Before the issue of Sean came up- I went to a meeting in the county building about the efforts of stopping homelessness among vets in Montgomery County. The meeting started with about 100 bureaucrats- and dwindled to about 50 by the end when questions were opened up. I pushed for Single Room Occupancy/Co-housing or micro-housing options for veterans, which are currently illegal in Dayton and most of the region. At the end of WWII – returning vets ended up in many of these types of housing and it worked well. Now, with it illegal to build a house under 900 square feet- and for more than 3 unrelated people to co-habit, we’ve sort of forced these guys into too much house for their means.

Charles Meadows, formerly with the city of Dayton called me a liar in front of the audience when I said I’d had a friend who had 4 such places, renting by the week, in Old North Dayton for years and that they were clean and respectable. It’s this kind of bullying I just love in our city. The fact is, Sean isn’t really capable of managing his affairs without someone checking in on him regularly, and this small apartment comes with costs that without him getting his SS or VA benefits back in a hurry are going to end up making me the fall back safety net.

I’ve heard that the former Daybreak facility on Wayne is being looked at for a veterans’ housing solution which would be a great start, but, honestly, maybe a better start was having advocates that actually advocate for veterans working in the positions mandated by law to do that very job.

 

 

West Dayton played- again…

In the land where funk began, voters should really change their preference in music after the last carefully orchestrated sideshow- their new theme song, courtesy of the bad boys of British power rock, The Who- should be “Won’t get fooled again”

After two meetings in black churches, which more closely resembled a church revival sans the passing of the collection plate, featuring the oddest collection of snake oil politicians, including the heads of both local political parties (although Sheriff Phil Plummer is the minority token Republican at the County level) a labor leader, her highness, Mayor Nan, Joey Williams and NAACP President Derrick Foward, we find out that the evil “Dayton Together” proposal had been purposefully thwarted back in March by the Dayton City Commission which annexed land in Greene County that the city “already owned.”

The Dayton City Commission on March 23 approved a petition to annex 25 acres between Ohio Route 4 and the Huffman Dam in Greene County, land it has owned since 1926. Greene County Commissioners granted the annexation petition in late April.

A city that spans multiple counties would have to detach itself from the areas located in other counties to be part of a county merger, according to research from the Greater Ohio Policy Center.

Detachment would require property owners in the proposed detachment area to lead a petition drive or put a measure on the ballot.

The annexation purposely created a roadblock protecting Dayton, elected leaders said. “It gives us better control of the land, but it wouldn’t have come up without the merger deal,” said Commissioner Matt Joseph.

Source: City annexed land to stop merger

From the start, the released draft proposal seemed stupid, leading me to believe that this whole shitstorm was nothing but a diversion, or a false flag operation, to make the real plan, to be released later look like a silk purse. It should be really evident to anyone who has watched any attempt at either merger or regionalization occur in this area that these things only happen when one party has basically failed and gone broke, or, outgrown the current form of government (Mad River Township had to become a city so they could do an income tax- because they weren’t smart enough back then to come up with illegal ways like both Miami Township and Butler Township to tax only poor people working retail jobs).

With Raleigh Trammell and his funky hat hanging in felony limbo, the black preacher posse had a power vacuum at the top, and one new hothead decided to make this his power platform to propel himself into the driver’s seat- enter Xavier L. Johnson of Bethel Missionary Baptist Church. An import from Tampa, who probably has no clue how Raleigh used to walk into the Dayton City Commission chambers and had the commission kowtow to whatever was his issue of the day. The Dems, always  in fear of losing the essential black vote where all you had to do was pass out a dummy voter slate card saying “endorsed Democrat” and the sheep of the flock of fools would follow, were putty in Trammell’s hands. Pastor Johnson has his own unique way of handling anyone who attempts to say anything he knows in advance he won’t like (interrupt, then cut the mic off), but then again, as our comment god Ice Bandit’s alter ego said on Facebook:

to quote Mr. Miyagi from The Karate Kid, “your dojo, your rules.” Why would you think you would go to that venue and be treated like the Oracle of Delphi? After all, Daniel was thrown into the lions’ den. He didn’t drive there…

And while I’m sure Pastor Johnson thinks he’s Malcolm X reincarnated, the difference is, Malcolm built his philosophy on respect. Johnson thought he’d found his platform to build his following- he wanted to get 100,000 signatures against the Dayton Together proposal (which was laughable- since the Board of [S]Elections never lets more than 80% of carefully collected signatures be approved and the county can’t have more than 150,000 real voters) and here it is- he was just another dupe being used to collect email addresses and phone numbers of voters over a pretend issue. I do admit, he got me fired up- but, to quote Malcolm X- “Usually when people are sad, they don’t do anything. They just cry over their condition. But when they get angry, they bring about a change.

I’ve been angry for a long time. I see so much potential in Dayton, being squandered by the very people who duped the good pastor. Do we really need multiple clerks of courts, multiple websites, and multiple municipal courts in Montgomery County, the smart voter would ask? Mark Owens is the Dayton Clerk of Courts- the evil merger commissioner Dan Foley was the County Clerk of Courts- and both had the opportunity to hire a whole bunch of people into patronage jobs- that all had to buy tickets to the Dems’ Frolic for Funds- and had to “volunteer” on their bosses’ campaigns. Owens talked about how bad Cuyahoga County was- and they had merged- while Franklin County is now the largest county- and they hadn’t (which is laughable- because Franklin does have a different structure) vindicating our format of County/City- yet missing the point that in Franklin County Municipal judges run COUNTY WIDE- and there isn’t a hodgepodge of municipal courts.

Sheriff Plummer talked in a Black Dayton Church how if you had a problem with one of his deputies, you call him, or vote him out. Just a few problems here, Phil- one, they all live in Dayton, where the police chief is appointed- none of them call Phil, unless their kid is in jail and being mistreated (of which the likelihood in that community is much higher). And, he’s ignoring the fact that the Dayton Police Department is half of what it was 25 years ago, and that we now have a whole bunch of private chiefs that no one can call- UD, Sinclair, MVH, Grandview, Good Sam, Metroparks. Have any question about what private police can do West Dayton- remember Samuel Dubose in Cincinnati?

We don’t need school districts with 800 students and a “superintendent” like in Jefferson Township. We don’t need a police department of 8 with a chief like in Butler Township (but they are about to fire their whole force and hire Sheriff Phil and his boys). No one knows how to tell if their County Recorder is doing a good job- even though he’s the token Countywide elected African American. These are all examples of extra overhead that make Montgomery County have the second highest tax burden in the state.

And what do you get for all that money? A police department that can’t find an “18-20 year old light skinned African American male” who boldly walked onto a school playground and shanked a 7-year-old girl through her lung– despite there being cameras. Unsolved murders of a police officer- Kevin Brame, more than 11 years ago, and Sgt. Major Woodall, a decorated veteran of three wars who was killed in his home.

Yep, I’m the former Dayton City Commission candidate who needed to have my question rudely interrupted and cut the mic off at the last meeting- who screamed an obscenity in church. Isn’t it great how the media describes it? You’re being manipulated there too, Pastor X. Used and fooled. The heartfelt apology I penned on Monday night to the pastor of Wayman and his flock- ignored. Yes, I had no business swearing in church- but, counter to what the bullies who threw me out recognize, this meeting could have and should have been in a public space- a school gym, or a county auditorium- the church building wasn’t being used for political speech was it? Wouldn’t that be a violation of the Johnson Amendment?

As long as I’ve put myself into a corner, let’s ask the real question about disenfranchisement, which was the purported reason for the anti-regionalization revivial. How does having the candidates who make the ballot, or are endorsed by the party, being done in a locked room on the second floor of Democratic Party HQ, by 40 hand-picked pissants (including Nan Whaley, her husband who works for Karl Keith, Dan Foley, Judy Dodge, the labor chief, etc.) make the voters vote count more than if it’s decided by some different group at the ballot box?

Or, let’s ask the real question about West Dayton that no one has the balls to ask. Why are the only three viable black owned businesses in West Dayton car washes, barbershops/beauty salons and churches? (I’ve left out funeral parlors- because it seems that the only ones that get investigated or in trouble by the State are black owned- and I don’t want to kick them while they’re down).

West Dayton is a shambles. Foreclosures. Badly boarded up buildings. Deferred maintenance on streets. The only significant construction on the west side has been prisons, landfills and schools that look like prisons.

Sure Dan Foley and David Esrati are your enemies and Regionalization is bad. Why change the form of government West Dayton when what we have is working so well?

And, that thing they are trying to distract you from? Could it be an income-tax increase? Or regionalization plan B?

Listen to the Who next time instead of party posse and the preachers.

We’ll be fighting in the streets
With our children at our feet
And the morals that they worship will be gone
And the men who spurred us on
Sit in judgment of all wrong
They decide and the shotgun sings the song

I’ll tip my hat to the new constitution
Take a bow for the new revolution
Smile and grin at the change all around
Pick up my guitar and play
Just like yesterday
Then I’ll get on my knees and pray
We don’t get fooled again

Video from both meetings to come.

 

Disrespect breeds disrespect

Well, that was priceless. At the church revival meeting to hang Dan Foley and the “Dayton Together” plan- which has no chance of passing- I went up to ask a question- was interrupted at least 3 times in the first 25 words- and then had the microphone cut off-
to which I loudly told the pastor in charge- “FUCK YOU” gave the 1 finger salute and walked back to my camera, where I was asked to leave.
It’s really easy to be against something – especially change.
It’s hard to answer a question- but, not hard if you don’t let someone ask it.
The question I was attempting to ask- Why do we have the second highest tax burden in the state- yet, in the last 30 years- our police department has been cut in half- while private police departments have grown- paid for by organizations that don’t pay taxes- UD, Premier Health, Kettering Health- and why do tax collectors like MetroParks, Sinclair, Dayton Public Schools also have private cops?
Is this the best our current system can do? Is that why you can’t find a punk who stabbed a girl in broad daylight in a school yard- despite having witnesses and video?
It’s time for some kind of change….

I’ll have video uploaded sometime tomorrow. But, I’m sure someone has it up already…

UPDATE

Here is the video of the comments. We have 2:20 of Pastor Johnson telling everyone how this will work. I begin at 2:29, first interruption 12 seconds in. 2:41, at 2:50 second interruption, 9 seconds later, mic off at 2:53 that’s a total of :24 seconds.

I owe Pastor Cooper of Wayman A.M.E. an apology. However, Pastor Johnson of Bethel Missionary Baptist Church owes me one. Disrespect breeds disrespect, people. Cutting microphones off and censoring questions isn’t what we do in this country.

Stabbing 7-year-olds and the wrong answers

It wasn’t but a few months ago when the Dayton School Board meeting was in chaos over the hiring of off-duty police to attend Dayton Public Schools sporting events.

The group “Racial Justice Now” saw it as just another step in the direction of the “school to prison pipeline.” There had been other meetings, in DPS buildings, where they were vehemently against the idea of “school resource officers” – that’s code for cops in schools, as sending the wrong message and being unnecessary.

The playground where a 7-year-old was stabbed during recess at Residence Park Elementary

Dirt patches, trash, and a stabbing.

And then a 7-year-old girl was stabbed yesterday on the playground, during recess, at WOW- or Residence Park elementary.

By a man described as being between 18 and 20 who walked onto the playground and shanked her through her lung.

The community is in shock. There is outrage. Fingers will be pointed all over the place,  lawyers will file lawsuits, “activists” will be up in arms, and lots of armchair quarterbacks will weigh in.

City Commissioner Jeff Mims is already making noise- as well he should, his daughter is the principal at World of Wonder. But even he recognizes that no amount of security, fences, security- will stop this, anymore than metal detectors, or school resource officers, or if you are a nut-job, arming teachers- will solve this.

This is just another example of how screwed up our country has become. It’s just closer to home.

Thankfully, this wasn’t Columbine or Sandy Hook. So far, the little girl is making a heroic comeback. But, let’s get real- this was the action of one person, who right now is still walking the streets, somehow thinking that he’s some kind of superstar- since he hasn’t been caught yet.

I have a phrase for adults who stab little girls in the chest and run- you’re a piece of shit. These are the types of people for whom capital punishment is made. Not that I’m a big fan of capital punishment as we do it in this country- where it takes 20 years and millions of dollars to take care of something that should be as easy as wiping the dog crap off your shoe and being done with it.

This isn’t about safer schools, fences, school resource officers- it’s about us. Us as in what kind of community do we live in? What kind of expectations do we place on life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness, and freedom. And what are our community standards?

Everyone will say- this is America- we’re free, we’re a democracy, we are the land of opportunity- when if fact, we’re not. We’ve been fooled, as our rights have been diminished through the “patriot act,” our elections have been turned into an auction/reality TV show, and most of us have zero chance of economic mobility- while we all believe we can hit the jackpot, or play in the NBA – despite being 5’3″- just look at Muggsy Bogues! We’ve got more people in prison than any other “free” or “democratic” country- and refuse to acknowledge that being number 1 in this category isn’t something to be proud of.

But when it comes to community standards- this is where we fail. We set our expectations too low, and accept absolute mediocrity as acceptable. We fight change, we don’t like strong leaders, and we’ll stick with stupid because that’s what we’ve always done.

Graffiti on the pole on the playground where a 7-year-old was stabbed during recess at Residence Park Elementary

Fuck and N word, on the pole, in the playground where a 7-year-old was stabbed

I went out to the playground at Residence Park Elementary School today. I’ve been there a lot over the last 4 years- because there is one solitary backboard on the playground- and almost every other time I’ve been out, it’s needed a net and I’ve hung one. Today, I was happy to see, a net- and it wasn’t even one of mine. But, when I looked around, wondering what the scene had been the day before, where she stood, where she fell, and what kind of chaos must have been going on- I was struck by other things; how much the school looks like a prison, that the grass in the yard was splotchy and there were patches of dirt, that there was trash on the playground, that the pole supporting that backboard had obscene racist graffiti on it.

Is that the best we can do?

Is it too much to ask for our schools to be pristine oases of lush soft grass, with impeccably maintained playground equipment, and that there be no trash, no graffiti and set a standard for the community?

It took me back a few years to when I was making the video talking about my green nets. I had an intern through Youth Works- and I took him to Orchardley Park in Oakwood to shoot what a public park should look like. You’d think he was in the land of Oz. He was amazed, the park was clean, there weren’t cracks in the asphalt, the backboards had rims that weren’t rusty, they even had nets. The park had bathrooms that were open, and “they don’t even smell” was what came out of his mouth. Parents were playing with their kids, having a picnic in the grass, the sounds were of people laughing- not rap, not obscenities or the standard trash talk I hear on every single basketball court in Dayton.

That’s where we fail. We accept a sub-standard as the norm. Drive along U.S. 35 W, and count the number of light pole bases without lights between Abby Road and Liscum Drive. Then go look on 35 E.

Drive down W. Third street and see how many businesses are closed, but still have signs up, or are boarded up badly. Then look in other communities like Kettering, or Centerville- and ask “would they allow the buildings to rot and be overgrown with weeds?” The answer is no.

When we let our city look like a dump. When we let graffiti stay up. When we let weeds grow through cracks in our basketball courts- aren’t we sending a message that our people really don’t matter?

Are we sending a message that it’s OK to run the streets and stab little girls on a playground? Why hasn’t anyone stepped up to say “piece of shit’s name is ____________” – is it because we don’t feel safe? Is it because we’ve cut our police to the bone, while allowing private institutions that don’t pay property taxes like UD, Premier Health, Kettering Health, Sinclair- to start their own police forces to protect their assets, but leave the rest of us hanging? Add up the number of the institutional cops and they probably come close to equaling the Dayton Police department- throw in the  DPS  “School Resource Officers” and you’re probably exceeding the number of “real police.” It’s just another example of how we take care of the money- and leave the poor people to suffer on their own.

There was a meeting a few weeks ago against regionalization- and there will be another Monday. The white racists of the establishment, with their token African American pogues, who have been slowly stripping every last bit of value from the citizens of Dayton, who pay the 2nd highest income tax in the second highest tax burdened county in the state- will get up and say with a straight face that streamlining and reducing our government overhead is a bad thing. They will talk about disenfranchising black voters. They will stand there and say that what we have works.

It doesn’t.

Residence Park is proof that the system has screwed a 7-year-old girl over, and we’re going to continue down the path of the wrong discussion. It’s not about a stabbing. It’s about the condition of the community that set the stage for that stabbing.

Until we realize that we have met the enemy, and he is us, we’re screwed.

It’s time to take a serious look at our problems. Our leaders. Our operational performance at the basics of government. The way we conduct our elections. The way we “rehabilitate” our “criminals” and even who the real criminals are. And as always, the old detective/journalists adage holds true- “follow the money” and you will find out where the real injustice is happening, and it’s not as simple as a knife and an unknown piece of shit.

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

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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

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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