In an age of inequity- build a bigger palace

My facebook feed is full of photos of “The Main Event” – the semi-black tie party to show off the new Main Library downtown. Tickets sold out and were $150 each.

The sad thing is, this is probably the first time many of the party goers had been to the main library. For some, it may also be their last visit.

When I was a kid- visiting the library with my parents was at least a weekly event. In high school, it was a several times a week thing- not to socialize, but to do research to complete homework. It was the only game in town.

Now, I can’t imagine trying to do research in a library that would be more complete than what I can do from home. Any library worth its salt has digitized its assets, or is in the process of doing so.  Libraries now are more social spaces, bars for people who drink from the well of knowledge. To this extent, a grand palace isn’t necessary- need proof- I’ve learned lots at Pecha Kucha events in empty warehouses, on city streets and in really old buildings.

What is needed is access to information- not just through the library, but through all public records. Many of which are stored in ways as to actually hinder access. Need proof- go to the Montgomery County Board of Elections site and try to look up campaign finance reports. Now- try to do it with screen reader software as if you are blind. #FAIL (Proper structure would have you type in, or select from a drop down- with candidates name, or office, or election cycle- to filter the results, all results would be in a digital format that is ADA compliant.) To expand on the access to information theme- this week, Steve Balmer, former CEO of Microsoft, launched his new government data site to show where the money comes from and where it goes- www.usafacts.org – and without the internet, none of this would be possible.

The thing about libraries is they aren’t open 24/7/365- the internet- is always open.

Dayton is a city that has a real digital divide. Many in this community have to rely on a library to have internet access. For that- the grand palace is overkill. What would be better is small internet rooms sprinkled across the community- with librarians assisting the people in their search for jobs, benefits, training, etc. Or better yet- universal wifi. It’s been done in entire countries, so just covering the areas where people can’t afford it shouldn’t be too difficult.

When I posted the beginning of this post on Facebook, the responses were immediate and from both extremes. Some pissed about the palace, some defending libraries as the most important asset a community has- but, all missed the point about a palace having a party for the privileged while the hoi poloi looks in from the outside.

And of course, there were grumblings of the library serving as a homeless shelter as well.

Of course, what’s not mentioned: Dayton Public Schools barely has librarians or libraries left in their buildings. And, for the last four weeks- Miami Valley Hospital psychiatric ward is half closed thanks to a patient destroying the sprinklers- which may not seem connected until you realize that yes, the library is a place where the mentally ill find refuge.

There was also a question of when was the last time I was in the library- to which the answer is last week. Of course, it was getting a movie for mom, who along with Dad, were weekly visitors until the beginning of last year.

While Abe Lincoln was quoted as saying “All I have learned, I learned from books” – there are infinitely more things one can learn from the Internet. Sure, books are there, but so are tutorials, videos, podcasts, communities and more. Access to libraries can only get you so far- access to the Internet is even more empowering.

In a community where kids are given chrome books in school, but can’t take them home for fear of damage, where you have to sign up for a virtual school to be eligible for free internet access, where food insecurity, as well as extreme poverty still exists, I wonder how much less library we could have had to make access to information ubiquitous and free?

That would be something to have a party for.

 

The Narcan® roundabout

In this Wednesday, Sept. 7, 2016 photo released by the East Liverpool Police Department, a young child sits in a vehicle behind his mother and a man, both of whom are unconscious from a drug overdose, in East Liverpool, Ohio. Drug overdoses killed a record 3,050 people in Ohio last year. AP Photo.

In this Wednesday, Sept. 7, 2016 photo released by the East Liverpool Police Department, a young child sits in a vehicle behind his mother and a man, both of whom are unconscious from a drug overdose, in East Liverpool, Ohio. Drug overdoses killed a record 3,050 people in Ohio last year. AP Photo.

A small business I work with has had the Dayton Fire Department stop by almost every other day- because someone OD’d in their parking lot. The other day it was a city employee. The medics revealed that when they looked him up- they found out that he had been treated the day before as well. If a Narcan® revival was a frequent flyer bonus, we’d have people with miles to go to the moon and back.

Current practice is to revive them, offer treatment, which they refuse and let them go right back to using.

That would classify it as insanity- doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.
I wrote a post about Narcan, coincidentally, 2 years ago to the day: “Just say no to naloxone” I was chastised in comments. And in the two years, we’ve just seen massive increases in overdose deaths- turning Dayton into the Heroin epidemic epicenter of the nation.
Two friends of mine, who are former journalists (the real kind- no longer employed by the Dayton Daily news) went out on an assignment from a foreign publication to do a story about the heroin problem. Within 30 minutes, they’d taken a photo of a roadside sign offering treatment- and followed a DPD ambulance to an OD victim in a parking lot of the U-haul franchise. Photos, story- the works- easy peasy.
In my last piece I spelled out the societal costs of heroin and overdoses- and they still apply. The drain on resources puts your life in danger- while the paramedics are out dealing with a self-inflicted wound- you might have to wait for a ride while you are having a stroke or heart attack.
Save and release ain’t working.
It’s time to change the way we do things. The first time you qualify for a trip back from death, you are taken to clinic where you are held for four hours, where you have to watch a video explaining the new practices and procedures on Narcan- and given a chance to enroll in a treatment program, offering methadone, Suboxone, Naltrexone, Vivitrol etc.
You are also informed that the next time you need to be revived, you will spend 24 hours in the center. There will be round the clock counseling available, but, you won’t be receiving any medications that aren’t prescribed as part of a doctor supervised program.
Third visit, you’ll spend 3 days in the center. Fourth visit, a full week. Fifth visit, a month. At the end of the month, you will have an option to voluntarily stay in a highly supervised treatment program for up to a year, or walk.
Unfortunately, after the fifth visit, you will no longer be revived by safety personnel. If you are unidentifiable as a five time loser, and are being treated for the sixth time, you will face a mandatory 1 year mental health incarceration. This isn’t in a prison, but a secure treatment facility. There are no options for appeal, or release. If you are identifiable by the medics, treatment will not be administered.
Drivers licenses or state ID’s will be “punched” with each treatment- as reminders and for medical personnel to check.
Right now, we are kidding ourselves if we think we can arrest suppliers and take enough drugs off the street to solve the problem. All the posturing of law enforcement is an insult to our intelligence. Heroin addiction isn’t a criminal problem- it’s a mental health one. Yet it does cause massive increases in crime and threats to public safety.
What we can do is seize all assets of anyone caught with what we would identify as quantities to distribute- and use the proceeds to fund the treatment programs.
Of course, the other option is to stop kidding ourselves, and just start providing addicts with safe, inexpensive heroin and take the profit motive out- and give people who want to stay high permission- no judgements. This has been done in other countries and has cut crime and deaths considerably. There are people who are able to function in society while high- this is nothing new- my paternal grandfather was a PhD MD and a morphine addict his entire adult life.
If you have any better ideas, feel free to leave them in comments.
It’s time to stop the insanity cycle of save and release in Dayton Ohio- it’s not working.

There ain’t no “F” in Dayton: Time for DPS to get serious

Leaders are able to communicate a vision of a desirable future. They don’t do all the work- they just point the way.

Dayton Public Schools and the Dayton Board of Education haven’t ever been able to tell the story of why you should send your kids to their schools. You know, the ones with the big fat “F” is every category (except for the one time A in annual yearly progress- which is pretty easy when you are on the bottom.).

The board president believes that the one-to-one computer initiative and computer guided learning is the answer, but, just passing tests, day in and day out, isn’t what school should be.

The new superintendent thinks that changing personnel is part of the solution- never mind the fact that we’ve been losing about 20% of our staff every year.

The community just passed a tax levy to support “the pre-school promise”- as if pre-school is the golden ticket.

We’ve got bigger problems than pre-school in Dayton. Back on Valentines day 2015, I posted A plan for the Dayton Public Schools and it garnered a whole 21 comments (most from the regulars). It had many of the same ideas that are in this video, but, the reality is- half the people read, and half watch TV.

So, here is a video, to show the feeble minded un-marketers at DPS how you effectively tell a story about a vision of what could be (if we were doing the work for them- it would have a different slant- but, since they refuse to hire people who can actually market them- T.F.B.).

Please share. Please discuss. Please do something other than the same old half-baked solutions- because, we’re running out of time for Dayton.

Dayton Issue 9- making poor people poorer

You know when Hillary Clinton said she was broke- and yet had million dollar homes?

That’s sort of how any smart Dayton voter would normally look at raising their taxes to pay for “city services”- which is what issue 9 is ostensibly all about.

Right after Queen Nan got herself elected with half-a-million dollars of OPM (other people’s money) to a job that only pays $45K a year- she promptly decided to add an assessment to every property owner in Dayton to replace all our street lights with high efficiency LED street lights- but, wait, isn’t that what we already pay taxes for?

Now, she knows that after the shopping spree that bought all the empty downtown buildings she could get her hands on- and gave away tax abatement to 80% of downtown property owners- directly hurting the Dayton Public Schools who get a majority of their funding from property taxes- she comes out with issue 9. And to bait and switch- she’s hitched her wagon to “the pre-school promise” which is supposed to miraculously improve our school performance on incoming kindergartners. Except- pre-school doesn’t do that for kids who have other issues- like extreme poverty.

And here lies the problem- for years, Daytonians have believed that you can tax income and since 70% of it is paid by people who live outside the city- who can’t vote, it’s like “free money.” Well, the problem is, if you do that, and jobs and businesses can’t move- no problem, but as we’ve seen- Austin Landing and Pentagon Parkway have filled with new office buildings– where the employees pay NO INCOME TAX AT ALL- at least as long as they work in tall buildings and wear a white collared shirt (Austin Landing is the most unfair, illegal, taxation district in the country- where only the little people who work at Kohl’s and Kroger pay taxes).

That’s why Nan can buy any office building she wants with your money so cheap- some businesses have abandoned downtown Dayton, and some have abandoned Dayton altogether- because they don’t want to operate in the County with the second highest tax burden in the State.

But- back to the pre-school promise. We already have “5 star preschools” – there are 14 of them, run by the elected group charged with education- the Dayton Board of Education. And while people complain they are only open 4 days a week- if Dayton gave them the $4.5 M a year that was going to go to the quasi-public “Learn to earn” people, they could be open a fifth day- and even afford transportation for those pre-schoolers. But, no, then we can’t hand 20% of that money each year to Nan’s friends- and let them spend it on overhead, their own paychecks and with pre-schools and daycare facilities that aren’t “5 Star”- and, there is no income restriction- so they could even pay for third shift daycare for kid that belongs to a doctor who works at Miami Valley Hospital.

If Nan truly cared about education- she wouldn’t have given tax abatement to General Electric, CareSource, Emerson, the list is long.

And, if you really wanted to see DPS improve- she could spend the $4.5M each year for 8 years- to build out citywide wi-fi that would get every single kid in DPS online at home- with their new 1-to-1 chromebook- so they could really teach themselves how to code, or open an online business, or take part in the global economy. And we could offer low price access to people to compete with Time Warner and ATT to the rest of the citizens- to help bridge the digital divide.

I’ve already pointed out that the average donation to the Political Action Committee shoving this down your throats was $1873. That the donors are all the people who will probably get some of this money back in contracts with the city- or services or tax abatement for their business.

Hell, we just gave CareSource half-a- million dollars today- despite the fact that their CEO makes $3 million a year- and it’s all paid with tax dollars from the feds.

We shouldn’t be taxing the poor people in Dayton to help CareSource, or General Electric, or create an alternative “board of pre-school education”- we should be spending money where it comes back to all of us- in services for all.

I filmed this video Wednesday afternoon, edited it Thursday, posted it on Facebook at 6pm last night and it had over 1,500 views inside of 16 hours.

Issue 9 is spending $35K on digital advertising. I haven’t spent a dime on advertising- but, if you want it to reach more people by election day- feel free to donate by sending money to donate@electesrati.com at paypal, or dropping off a check at 100 Bonner St Dayton Oh 45410.

It won’t take that much to get it in front of a whole lot of people- or you can just share it online. Watch and share.

When the newspaper of public record- isn’t

Screen shot of public records notices in Dayton Daily News

These are expensive ads.

Years back, A.J. Wagner looked at the amount of money the County was spending on required publication of public documents- court dockets, bid notices, sheriffs sales etc. and wondered if he couldn’t save money by buying ads in the freely distributed Dayton City Paper.

The local “newspaper” run by the billionaire Cox sisters cried foul. Apparently, the newsprint they print on is somehow more informative, more legal, regal and deserving of that public money.

They went to court. They won. The ads and the taxpayer money, went back to subsidizing our poor excuse for a paper.

This is something that could easily be replaced by a simple county wide website for public notices, that would cost less to run than what they spend in a day of the small print classified ads in the Dayton Daily.

Why am I railing about this today?

It’s been 4 weeks since my father, Stephen G. Esrati passed from this planet, and so far, not a mention of his demise in the death notices. He lived in Montgomery County, he died in Montgomery County at the Dayton VA hospice, and his body was sent to Greene County- to the Wright State School of Medicine. Not a word in the death notices, unless I really missed something. I picked up the death certificate over 3 weeks ago from the Reibold building. It’s on record.

Just not in our newspaper of record.

It’s time to save some money and stop pretending that the Dayton Daily news is doing us some kind of public service by publishing the page after page of legal notices. I’ve seen some days where the Sheriff’s sale pages take up more space than the Sunday Real Estate section. Why again are we paying for this?

For around $1500 a week, I could have a website that is searchable- with all the listings of public records, and print a 1000 booklets with the same info for those who want a printed copy. The Dayton Daily is probably taking in over $2500 a day on this.

Newspaper of record? Not in my book.

It’s your tax money they are speculating with…

Tonight, the Dayton City Commission bought the hole in the ground where the Schwind and the Dayton Daily news used to sit. They spent $450K of your money. That hole still has to be filled in. The old Cox historic building- nope, they didn’t buy that. They left that with the demolition contractor, who no doubt will be the one they pay to fill the hole he left.

They also handed over the “Paru Tower” to the land bank- so they wouldn’t have to pay taxes to the schools. And Mayor Nan has the nerve to call herself the education mayor. Not only did they pay $500K for it- keeping it out of the hands of private developers who were willing to pay $350K for it- and pay taxes, they gave a commitment to the Landbank for $250K for “maintenance.”

Oh, and, they also decided to commit to a three way contract to build a multi-million dollar bandshell  on Dave Hall Plaza to give free concerts, and contribute another $500k.

All in one evening. And remember, they want to raise taxes in November.

Because this was such an epic night of mis-directing tax dollars to private ambitions, instead of the public good, I decided to go down and speak. I had plenty better to do, which is why I’m writing this at 11:15 at night, at work.

Here’s what I said- give or take, before the three minute timer went off:

It’s nice to be here in a real, legal, political meeting, where I know I won’t be rudely interrupted or have the mic shut off.

You weren’t hired to be real estate speculators. You were hired to run a city and provide services to our citizens.

You’re failing.

Former Mayor Paul Leonard said that he counts on me to try to keep you straight and honest. I take that as an honor. He asked me, “Whatever happened to being the safest cleanest city?”

And I wonder that too.

Because, frankly, I think the problem in this city is sitting in front of me.

How else do we have a police force that’s half the size, and can’t solve the murder of one of their own, over 16 years later?

Or find the murderer of SGT Major North Woodall?

Or find the cretin who stabbed a young girl on a school playground, in broad daylight?

Maybe it’s because you have money to buy buildings for which there is no public use.

Not just one, two, or three… but on a shopping spree.

There’s 601 E. Third. $450K

There’s the old Supply One on Wayne. $450K and you gave it away for $10

There’s the old Key bank. $500 K. And now- another $250K to hold it? Really?

And then there’s the Schwind and the Dayton Daily building which are now an expensive hole in the ground.

10 years ago, a local developer had a plan to turn the Schwind into student housing and still comply with the HUD deal. His plan cost $1.7 million then. You’ve spent twice that to tear it down and grow a money pit.

But, lets not stop there. We have a band shell. It’s in Island Park. Apparently, that’s not good enough for you. You want to spend half a million more to build a new bandstand… while people aren’t feeling safe in their homes.

You now have the nerve to be asking for a tax increase?

You’ve spent 5 million on empty buildings and a hole in the ground.

And I’m not even bringing up the $5 million plus you spent without a contract to secure property for the Wayne Avenue Kroger that never came.

The sad thing is it’s really hard to un-elect you thanks to our rigged charter.

But, it isn’t as hard to do a charter amendment anymore.

If you insist on spending millions more on real estate speculation and a band shell, it’s time that we start a charter amendment process to strip you of the ability to spend tax dollars for real estate for which there is no immediate public use.

Another charter amendment to stop you from giving tax breaks to companies that pay their CEO more than 10x what they pay their lowest paid employee.

To end tax breaks and incentives that aren’t equal opportunity open to every business, from the corner store-owner, to the corner office type.

And lastly, it’s time to stop the charade of allowing rich white men to control their own private police forces in the city of Dayton to protect their royal white rear ends.

If you want a cop that has police power, you get them from the City of Dayton, not the UD police, or the Miami Valley Hospital police or the Grandview police or even the Metroparks police.

They’ve all grown while our department has shrunk.

If you want to hire your own, you should have to pay a $50K a year license fee- so we can hire the cops we need so there isn’t blood in the streets-

Which I place fully in your hands.

So, go ahead, be real estate tycoons… because, I’m tired of paying for it, I’m tired of you supporting your supporters, like a certain demolition contractor, and I’m sick of seeing all of the development efforts focused downtown.

I would have continued with this:

There is often talk of West Dayton as a food desert. I don’t see you going into the grocery business…. Why is that?

Get back to basics.

For Kevin Brame. For Sgt Major Woodall, for the 7 year old who’s afraid to go on the playground now.

We, the people of Dayton don’t need any more real estate. We need you to protect our investment in our real estate.

It’s not about the empty buildings, it’s about the ones that still have people living in them.

Because we are supposed to have a government of the people, for the people.

But, I always have to stop at 3 minutes exactly- and they never respond. Because they don’t really work for us, or care what we say.

I’m going to be working with Neighborhoods over Politics [edit and addition- 20 aug 2016] with like minded people who give a shit, [end addition] to write the charter changes and to collect the signatures needed. We’ll be on the primary ballot next Spring, when Joey Williams and Jeff Mims and Nan Whaley will all be trying to get on the ballot for the fall.

If the voters have any common sense, and some good people chose to run, maybe, we can get rid of all three in the primary, change the charter to stop giving away the store to the rich, and actually get some things done.

If you are interested in helping, we’ll have a sign-up soon, but it might help if you either comment on this post, or at least follow it for notifications in the future.

 

Hara should be the new fairgrounds, run by MetroParks and the Convention and Visitors bureau

Hara ArenaIt’s time to stop playing around with the fairgrounds relocation. The first clue should have been when Hamvention moved to Greene County.

The second should have been when a local pro-sports franchise decided to sit out a season. Dayton built a really nice stadium for the Dragons and gave it away for 20 years. The Nutter Center stole hockey from Hara- very expensively, and then killed it because the building is a disaster to begin with.

Face it. Private enterprise can’t compete with public dollars- and we’ve done everything we can to put the Wamplers out of business, starting with the ridiculous tax burden which takes no heed of the economic development bonus they provided.

Yes, it’s now a shithole. But, dump $20 million into it, make it public, and voila- back comes Hamvention, back comes hockey, and who knows what else. Put the fairgrounds there too. Why not? It’s closer to agricultural parts of the county than downtown is.

And, Jackie Powell has it right:

Hara is a unique venue because it has an arena component as well as a number of different buildings,” (Jacquie) Powell  (president and CEO of the Dayton Convention & Visitor’s Bureau) said. “When you look at the Convention Center, it’s a different setup. The arenas are different too. For the summer months it makes it difficult for us to position groups there.”Furthermore, Hara’s 7,000-seat capacity was the fifth largest in the area — only 13,400-seat UD Arena, 11,000-seat Welcome Stadium, 10,000-seat Nutter Center and 9,000-seat Fifth Third Field are larger.

Source: Hara Arena’s closure highlights needs for updates at other Dayton-area venues – Dayton Business Journal

Turn it into a public venue, invest a little, and give it better management, and we’re all better off. Build a nice soccer/football stadium up there too- and hold regional games. Might be a great place for a regional olympic swimming pool too.

Book sales, Hamvention, and a hockey team are ready to come back, if the County and the fairgrounds board would just stop futzing around.

Make it a joint project between Metroparks and the Dayton Convention and Visitors Bureau for funding and ownership.

Problem solved.

 

Save

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.

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.

Understanding “Dayton Together” rationally

Dan Foley, Valerie Lemmie, Paul Leonard, Mike Kelly and who knows else, may have some ideas about how to reform government, but they have zero ability to sell their plan.

Today’s Dayton Daily news includes this ludicrous statement:

Dayton Together also plans to conduct a cost study to determine if merging the governments will save money.

Foley said the initiative likely will not move forward if it does not benefit taxpayers through cost savings.

“If the answer comes back we can’t save very much, then this probably isn’t going to go very far,” Foley said.

Source: Plan would radically change city, county

How can you present a plan with a straight face, without doing the cost benefit study?

The reality is, there will be major pushback from the status quo; the current elected officials and their little kingdoms of patronage jobs. The local party system in place in Montgomery county is full of elected officials and people they get to hire to cushy, non-accountable jobs in the bowels of government.

These are called the “Party Central Committees” and most people couldn’t tell you who their precinct captain or ward leader is to save their lives. I know, I am one, although I missed the part about the cushy job with nice benefits.

Need an example? There is no reason to have two clerk of courts, with two websites, two court systems, two buildings (even though they are adjoined). Between Mark Owens and Greg Brush, and all the jobs they control (including of course jobs for friends and family) you have massive duplication of resources- plus two extra elected races that people could care less about. Owens is running unopposed if you need proof.

From Foley and Leonard’s editorial:

Many community leaders and elected officials have voiced opposition to our work. Some expressed concern that metro government would disenfranchise minority communities. This is far from our intent, so we hired Dr. Mark Salling, a Cleveland State University demographer, to determine if county council districts could be designed to actually increased minority representation.

Through Dr. Salling’s work, three council districts in the metro structure are majority minority districts — meaning, new opportunities for countywide minority policy makers. In a county that has never in its history elected a minority citizen to the Montgomery County Commission, we see this as a big step for greater inclusion.

Source: Challenges in region call for a metro government

What they’ve proposed is going to be the major sticking point: 10 districts with a representative each, 1 at large and a separate mayor’s race. By eliminating all other elected county positions like engineer, coroner and clerk of courts, leaving only the prosecutor (because nobody screws with Mat Heck in this area) as the only existing elected position that stays- we lose probably a dozen stupid choices on the ballot. Ask most people the difference between the County Auditor and the County Treasurer- and they can’t tell you the difference.

Of course, Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley is going to scream the loudest- she ran the most expensive campaign in a long time so she could crown herself queen of the city- an entity that’s a fraction of its former self- thanks to mismanagement, misguided “leadership” and an ingrained system of petty politics that has done no citizen any favors.

She’s got the black ministers on her side and the NAACP as well. Two groups who get way more play in the current system than they ever should command. And in this battle, they’ve already come out strongly against this baby step toward regionalization without a clue of what the current system has effectively done: totally diminished their true power.

More elections and more elected officials, don’t mean more power, they mean less.

This is where civics 101 would come in handy. Take 100 people, give them 10 offices to fill. You now have 90 people, with 10 “elected leaders.” Take a bell curve- which is the way most things distribute- including IQ. Did those 90 people pick the cream- the top 10 smartest people on that curve to lead them?
Probably not. Need proof? Look at the latest Republican primary field for President.

You now have 1 “leader” for every 10 people. This is the current system.

Take a simplified version of the proposed new system. You have 100 people, they vote for 3 people. Their odds of really picking 3 good people have increased.

You now have 1 “leader” for every 32.33 people.

Power hasn’t been diluted near as much, with less leaders, people actually have more power in who they elect.

When you factor in that the new system only has 4 countywide candidates: the prosecutor, the “mayor,” your local zone rep and the one at-large rep, spread out over a much larger population, you’ve actually increased your voting power, giving more control to fewer people to make bigger decisions.

With great power, comes great responsibility.

My initial take is that this plan is asking us to still elect too many people. 10 districts with one regional rep, across seemingly random regions is sort of what we have with the Ohio house and Senate (only with more seats). Trying to figure out who your State Rep is and what population he or she serves is pointless- most Ohioans couldn’t tell you their names either. Ohio would do just fine with a unicameral system (one house instead of two), because again, the more seats actually decrease accountability.

I’m not comfortable with the “mayor” of Dayton/Montgomery County being picked by the population at large either. It will be a very expensive race (especially if Nan decides she wants it) for another titular seat. Instead, I’d rather have a system where the elected body has to pick the person among the 11 that can unite and lead- as in a parliamentary system.

I’m also questioning 10 districts instead of 6 and 1 plus a mayor. Again, the more seats, the more you’ve diluted power.

It’s pretty obvious to those who know what’s going on that this change would turn the party power upside down for a period of time while they figured out how to corrupt it back into the current form- and that may be all that Dan Foley and partners want to do. Who would Karl Keith be if not for being able to hire Mr. Whaley? Or Mark Owens for hiring Matt Josephs brother? (It’s actually the other way around- Matt’s brother and Mark got Matt into office so they could own a piece of their budgetary bosses).

As to the major flaw of this whole mess- allowing the urban townships to keep on operating providing income tax free havens within the county limits- no one is touching that part with a ten-foot pole. Couldn’t possibly want to stop the biggest flaw in our current system- that would take real leadership.