Can the Dayton View Hustlers shoot hoops as well as they shoot each other?

I ran into Mark Baker last night at the Marshall blowout of Ponitz. Mark has been working with the youth of this region for years, mentoring, coaching and making sure that academics gets the same weight as athletics. He’s now the coach of Trotwood-Madison. He was wearing a pork-pie hat. It looked good on him.

Mark is a leader, an inspiration and an unsung hero of our community. Unfortunately, our Mayor is none of the above. She wears hats that make her stand out, but not much else.

We need to support more Mark Bakers, and less Rhine McLins. If Mark had been given $127,000 to use toward his programs– we’d be seeing more kids succeed in school and in life, and fewer homicides.  Unfortunately, Rhine took that money from lobbyists and people who want favors and blew it on mailings trying to smear Gary Leitzell, instead of telling us what she plans to do to make Dayton better.

There is no excuse in these hard economic times for accepting large campaign donations from people outside this community– the right answer is to say “thank you, I’ll accept $500, and could we give the rest to a charity like Mark’s in Dayton?”

We’ve got kids in a gang called the “Dayton View Hustlers.” They’ve been busy shooting each other- on the basketball court, at parties, and even at funerals for each other. These are kids who’ve lost a sense of purpose, who haven’t been given an opportunity to thrive in our community- so they’ve turned to street thuggery. They’ve been missing a Mark Baker in their lives.

Our city has cut its parks and recs programs to the very bone- almost to the point of nonexistence. We’ve even gone as far as to try to charge a youth baseball league for use of the ball fields that they’ve been using for 30+ years.

Instead of building one mega-sportsplex in the center of town- we decided to build two- as if we still believe in a “separate, but equal” doctrine. Instead of investing in our youth—our future—we’ve given money out to corporations like candy, almost weekly, in the name of “economic development.” Had we nourished the Mark Bakers of Dayton instead, the “Dayton View Hustlers” would be the name of a basketball team, instead of a thug gang.

It’s time to use our heads for more than a hat rack, and turn this town around.

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