What to do with the Fairgrounds?

Fairgrounds to Future meeting noticeThere will be the first of the community input meetings tomorrow night on what to do with the Fairgrounds. It’s nice that Premier (Miami Valley Hospital) and the University of Dayton have decided to involve the community. They’ve hired a planning firm out of Columbus to help with the process. Of course, the last time the County asked for plans for the Fairgrounds and two companies went all out with their ideas- they were tossed aside, and the Fairgrounds got handed to the Meds and Eds neighbors for a song.

I’ve been to many of these “community input” type events before. To me, they are kind of like asking a few hundred amateur house painters to get together to do the Mona Lisa.

That aside- suppose the Greene wasn’t already in existence, or the Fairfield Commons Mall, or the Dayton Mall area- or Austin Landing, and we were going to build another faux downtown, just South of the real Downtown, what would we have? Another bunch of buildings to compete with the buildings that are already under-utilized.

We know MVH needs parking. They’ve been building more and more lots, along S. Main, Warren, etc. They already have a few garages. What they really need is less people driving to work- and they’ve already tried to build housing for their employees- and it still didn’t help, much. The main reason people feel weird about having to live down here is, the only grocery store isn’t very nice. So, sure, you could put a grocery super store on 12 of the acres- but, you could also put a Trader Joe’s on Wyoming where Patterson Kennedy Elementary school sat- and people would be overjoyed.

We don’t really need a super-amazing suburban style grocery.

So, what do we need? Well, the city said no to a dog park, to a skate board park, and instead built Riverscape with a rink you can’t play hockey in. We’re building yet another concert venue- as if the Fraze and the Rose aren’t enough. We’ve got a mini-white water run, for all 1000 kayakers around.

And, UD still has huge parcels of unused land along Stewart street. Including a huge parking lot, a band practice green and some soccer fields and tennis courts. In the meantime, Brown Street has a gazillion chain food options- which get slammed at meal time- and sit idle the rest of the time- esp. in summer when the students are mostly gone.

What is needed is some synergy between Brown Street, and whatever we’re going to “plan to build” and yet- they are a big block away.

So unless you look at what’s going to happen with the Stewart street corridor- the Fairgrounds remain sort of an island.

Maybe, what needs to happen is that all of what sits off Stewart- needs to be tucked away on the Fairgrounds or by UD Arena and Welcome stadium- with a free street car to circle from the Arena to Campus and around the Hospital.

Instead of huge parking garages off smaller streets- we just should build a huge one by the highway and the stadiums- and let people take the street car to the developments? Or to work at MVH, or UD?

And, at the corner of Brown and Stewart- right next to campus- we build a 5000 seat hockey arena, with 2 sheets of ice, to accommodate all the East coast kids- and the loss of Hara. Along with a second garage there, you solve the problems of Brown Street, plus bring people in for either hockey, or smaller shows than the big arena or the Nutter Center can take.

Then at the Fairgrounds- put a dog park, a skate park, a velodrome to add on to our bike friendly city cred. Why can’t we have a big park for year round events? A huge pool, wait, didn’t we used to have one by NCR and Old River?  Maybe it’s time to bring one back?

Building more shopping, or housing, isn’t really going to add anything to our mix. Solving some of the circulation and entertainment misses in our community could make a huge impact.

I’m going to be there- only to ask that we don’t look at the Fairgrounds as an island- because, that’s what it’s been for the last 100 years. It’s time to look at the whole area and figure out what would make Dayton a better place to live.

I’d love to hear your thoughts.

 

 

A Dayton candidates night and a voters fright

Last Wednesday night, instead of working, or doing something fun, I went in for a two hour reminder of why Democracy no longer works in America.

(full disclosure- my firm has done some work and printing for the following candidates or their businesses, Jocelyn Rhynard, Shenise Turner-Sloss, Darryl Fairchild, Karen Wick-Gagnet)

When this country started, it was easy to pick people for elected office. You’d have a town hall of all the white male property owners, they all knew each other, and they chose the people based on personal knowledge and it was done.

Now, we just let anyone on the ballot, at least anyone that can make it through the political parties barricades and hurdles enforced by the board of (S)elections, and then to raise as much money as possible to run for an office that very few of the candidates and even fewer of the voters really understand.

Both the Dayton City Commission and the Dayton Board of Education positions are limited in their actual scope and power. This is by design. They are only allowed to hire a few people, and are there as a corporate board, to guide and review the performance of the leader they hire, be that person called a City Manager or a Superintendent. Instead, we’ve got ego-maniacal demi-gods running who think they not only steer the ship, but also are the guys running the engines, standing guard duty, manning the radar, cooking the food and even scrubbing the decks- all for a mere pittance on the school board and on a salary way richer than it should be for the city commissioners, who only have to show up for one meeting a week.

That said. Sorry about the audio in this video. The PA provided by the City of Dayton at the Northwest Recreation Center badly needed a new XLR cable, but, we’re too busy giving away millions to downtown investors to spring for $15 for a new cable (or less if you go to CCT). I’m even sorrier for what was recorded.

Of the school board candidates, only one actually talked about what we might need to do to change the way we deliver education in the classrooms to move achievement forward- that from Mario Gallin, a former school member who works at Ruskin for East End Community Services and still attends every board meeting. The Ruskin/EECS educational delivery method is based upon the Geoffrey Canada, Harlem Children’s Zone model of comprehensive wrap around services. The only other candidate to mention anything of the like was slate member Paul Bradley who spoke of the Oyler school in Cincinnati which he knows about because his fiancee worked there.

The seating and speaking arrangements were telling. First came “the slate” from the left, then the soloists, who have their own alignments, and the sole incumbent, Joe Lacey who cited parenting duties for calling him away and leaving early. Then the Commission candidates, less Joey Williams. In an unprecedented concession, Priority Board Chairman David Greer allowed Jeff Mims to have Williams time allotment, which judging by Mims reactions to questioning the city’s loss of funds due to internal errors, was a mistake. Mims got defensive and blamed the mess on former planning director Aaron Sorrel, which Darryl Fairchild was quick to call him on. Somehow, despite massive failures in her past, City Manager Shelley Dickstein always gets a hall pass, no matter how much taxpayer money is wasted, and the city commission is never to blame either.

The “slate” is four candidates running together for the school board. Insiders believe them to be hand-picked by Mayor Nan Whaley. Mohamed Al-Hamdani, William E. Harris Jr., Paul Bradley, and Karen Wick-Gagnet have hired a campaign manager (Nan’s old campaign manager) Uriah Anderson, who works for the ever popular Burges & Burges out of Cleveland. They are the folks Sinclair and the Health and Human Services levies both hired (hence the dual billboards around town). This kind of money, power and help hasn’t been seen since the “Kids First” slate ran in 2001 with the sole goal of putting a ton of money into the hands of demolition contractors, construction companies, architects and adding a $645 Million jolt to an ailing Dayton economy.

If you want to read an interesting excerpt on Kids First, follow this link. They spent over $200K on a campaign where all their opponents collectively spent $13,000 between 5 candidates. Note that the four seats that are up this time- were filled by unopposed candidates (Lacey, Roundtree, Lee and Baguirov). The last cycle, we had 4 candidates for 3 seats, and newcomer John McManus spent north of $35K to unseat Nancy Nearny by a mere couple of hundred votes forcing an automatic recount, while the other incumbents Walker and Taylor waltzed on in.

When asked (by me, via Chairmen Greer) why the slate hired an outside consultant, and how much they paid them, the room seemed to turn on Mohamed Al-Hamdani who tried to pass off the question with “we haven’t paid them anything yet” – while defacto saying their campaign manager worked for Burges. The slate is keeping quiet about how much they’ve raised or spent, and because the first reporting deadline isn’t until Oct 28th- the voters will have very little time to learn who is buying their candidates and for how much.

Needless to say, if you look back to the Kids First promises, and the whys, the district is in the exact same sorry shape now as then. Still at the bottom of the barrel for educational achievement, yet with a much higher staff turnover, more turmoil, a third less students, funded by an ever shrinking property tax base (often thanks to Nan Whaley and her love of tax abatement as economic development). The only difference between that slate and this one is that the Kids First slate actually would openly embrace charter schools, while anyone running for school board now has to categorically blame them for the failing of the district.

I still plan to listen to the candidates again, yet, I threw up a little when I heard Reverend Harris saying that he was going to concentrate on truancy as his platform. This is the simpletons solution to educational improvement- and why I also laughed at Dr. Roberson’s entire presentation of his case for why he should be superintendent. The other single issue candidate seems to be Jo’el Jones, who thinks all of our problems can be solved by the office of family and community engagement rising from the ashes. I agree it’s needed, but, it won’t solve the problems of this sinking ship.

While there is no doubt more to Jocelyn Rhynard than her four kids in the district, and her involvement in her kids school, River’s Edge, I didn’t feel she had a fully formed plan and was way too nice in her response about how she’d work with current superintendent Rhonda Corr. Going back to being on the campaign trail with former Dayton City Commissioner Dick Zimmer, it’s always bothered me that procreation counted as qualification for office- he’d start out with “I was born in Dayton, grew up in Dayton, had 9 kids and 19 grandchildren” – as if he chose where to be born, grow up. Mim’s also tells the same sorry story about how he told his family to move to Dayton when he was 3 months old. Rhynard, like Gallin, actually attends school board meetings regularly. Jo’el Jones is also sometimes there. I’ve never seen any of the slate attend.

We need more than platitudes and feel good stories- which is also part of Mohamed’s approach. He’s got a great story to tell of how he came as an immigrant and Dayton’s been good to him, but, he moved back into the city the same day he filed to run, a part he conveniently leaves out.

Hopefully, in the Wednesday night Dayton Education Council candidates night at Ponitz High school (741 W. Washington Street) – starting at 6pm we’ll here speeches sounding more like cogent solutions to stop the turmoil, turnover and terrible achievement scores instead of homilies and grand standing.

If any candidates need an example of what a plan to improve school/student performance looks like, I offer this video I made last December to make a case for a trans-formative plan to discussion. Of course, since no one on the board cares about anything except their own agenda- it was never discussed.

If you are looking to research candidates online- here are the websites I can find:

Of course in most of my searches, more shows up about many of these folks on esrati.com.

Thanks for reading.

Gifts for the person with everything- and gifts for Dayton

Yes, this is a list of products that I hope you’ll buy from Amazon, where I will get a cut. But to keep it interesting, it’s also a list of things you can’t buy (unless you are part of the 1% and can control elections) and, of course, if you really want to make a difference- you’ll do all your shopping locally with independent retailers.

And- I’m going to start out with the most outrageous gift that will change your life: The Squatty Potty. Watch the video- and buy from this link- read the reviews- seriously: http://amzn.to/1HpUmAg

A gift you can’t buy- a real website for the Montgomery County Board of Elections- that has a complete list of every office you can run for, who is in it, when the term expires, and the requirements to run. That would help clear the poop from the system locally.

Tired of selfie stills? Want to make action movies like a pro? From the folks that make the DJI “Drones”- comes the Osmo a stedi-cam like no other. Buy here- http://amzn.to/1ljQyGy

A gift you can’t buy- real news from the local media. No, it’s not news when there is a traffic accident, or a shooting, or another drug bust. That’s only relevant is you were in the accident or the resulting traffic jam, knew someone in the shooting or it happened on your street. Real news is why our Dayton Public Schools suck, why Sinclair is failing to meet real needs for truck drivers, welders and the medical programs. All have a waiting list, despite claiming they’re on it. Real news is why our local politicians keep buying buildings for which there is no public use, giving away tax revenue to companies that move inside downtown, or about businesses that are successful in our community.

We'll keep the light on for you

We’ll keep the light on for you

Turning on the lights, automatically. I’ve had a timer on my porch light for years- it sucked to program, it sucked to change the time for Daylight Savings Time- then, this happened: http://amzn.to/1HpWrMM it even works on motors- and most importantly- doesn’t burn out CFL bulbs. Me likey.

What you can’t buy- true transparency and sunlight on the meetings of the Dayton City Commission- no more illegal work sessions where the commission meets to do all the actual discussion of the issues before they come and rubber stamp them in public. Follow the damned charter and the state sunshine laws already.

Keep the heat on while being super cool- get a Nest Learning Thermostat. Seriously. This one will save you money and make you really happy and comfy in your own home or office. Installation is a breeze- and I can now control the temps in both my home and office from my phone. This product keeps getting better with software updates- and my utility bills keep coming down. I have the first generation, they are now on the third. http://amzn.to/1HpXfB5

Best thing I’ve ever bought to save money, and they let you know how you do compared to people in your area as well.

What you can’t buy? Take a look at a heat map of economic activity for Dayton. See the cold spots on the West Side- while Miller Lane and Austin Landing are hot. It’s time to look at comprehensive regional investment and stop tilting the playing field. First step- Countywide income tax- flat rate at 1.5% divvied up based on a formula based on square miles, population, political overhead and need. Same thing for school taxes. Reward lean organizations with low overhead- that utilize regional assets like the regional dispatch center, or pay their politicians reasonably, or have the lowest ratio of administrators to workers, with MORE money- and penalize the high overhead ones. Make it easy for small businesses to calculate tax rates by not having to worry about every single jurisdiction. Make it about the region- not filling the pockets of the Gunlocks, Singers, Mills of the region.

If you are paying out the nose for cable- my suggestion is to invest in a HD antenna, and a TiVo. Seriously. I’ve had a TiVo for a long time- and there is so much good TV on broadcast, and services available via online- that you just need a box to coordinate it all. I’ve got a series II HD and a Romio – make sure you buy the lifetime service contract instead of annually- they last forever. Here are your choices- http://amzn.to/1Hq0gBo The new Bolt looks amazing- but, I got a rocking deal on the Romio. So much better than any cable company DVR- I’m amazed that Apple or Amazon hasn’t bought TiVo yet. Great recommendation engine- like Netflix- with search functions built in- find everything coming up with Allison Janney in it- and it records everything- from West Wing to interviews.

While we’re on the subject of unified entertainment- it’s time we move to unified government. Really. We can’t afford to keep paying for 1,000 or more elected offices (I’m guessing – since there is no unified list- I’m thinking of adding it to this website) and finding 1,000 people qualified to do this political horseshit.

Need proof that the local Dems are incompetent? Mike Turner has run for Congress virtually unopposed for 15 years. Need proof that the local Republicans are incompetent- look at the County Commission. One real countywide system. Ditch the local school systems too. Distribute the poor kids equally throughout – since there is no greater indicator of poor test performance than poverty. This shouldn’t be that hard- should be easy- just like TiVo.

I bought a carpet cleaner on one of the Amazon deals of the day. Used it yesterday. While it cleaned the carpets great, it kept reminding me of how much I actually love my Dyson vacuums. It’s about industrial design- the cleaner has the cord coming out of the base- and I was running over it constantly- my Dyson has the cord coming out up top- near where I’m maneuvering it from. Yes, they are expensive, but the “Amimal” I’ve got at the office is still humming almost 20 years later- and I’ve been able to fix it myself with parts bought online and video from YouTube. http://amzn.to/1IcZ6cI Design is everything- and on the new one I bought for the house it is even easier to use the attachments. Do yourself a favor- upgrade.

For a local change of pace- how about having elections that don’t suck. This means a well informed electorate- that actually comes out and votes- knowing more than what is in the pathetic League of Women’s Voter guide. Cutting down the number of offices would go a long way toward this- as would having a real BOE website- but, most importantly- let’s have real debates. Not these moderated forums where the moderator has control. There is no moderator once elected- we actually need to see candidates questioning the people they are elected to serve with. It’s about finding out who really knows what the issues are.

And, that’s it for my Holiday gift guide. Do you have any other things that you can’t live without that I should add to my list? Just remember- Esrati.com is free- and pretty much uncensored- so if you like what I’m doing here- help me out and start your Amazon buys from one of these links- and a tiny percentage of every purchase comes back to me- to help pay for hosting, domain name registration and rewards me just a little bit for taking time to dig deeper into what happens in Dayton.

 

 

Warren Price we hardly knew you

I interrupt my cross-country motorcycle trip to bring you this update: Dayton can’t have two strong personalities in charge.

The exiting of Warren Price barely 9 months into his job as Nan’s bitch boy is reminiscent of the short stay of the last “change agent” city manager we hired- Bill Estabrook.

Estabrook came to town with great fanfare as Mike Turner’s man for the job, but when he actually tried to lead the city as a City Manager, stealing the limelight from Turner, he had to go.

Rule number one for any incoming city manager from outside the market, when in public, make extra sure the puppet strings are clearly showing. Start every sentence about anything positive with “Thanks to the Mayor and Commission, Dayton is…”

Last time this hit the fan, an internal candidate who had been passed over was put in charge as an interim, until they found Valerie Lemmie. The Lemmie/Turner team managed to dance the dance better than any we’ve ever seen.

Look for recently returned airport director Terrence Slaybaugh to step in. If it weren’t for the fact that he’s done such a good job at the airport, the only stumbling block is if he refuses to accept the term “interim.”

Shelley Dickstein would take the “interim” title in a heartbeat, but, it’s doubtful that she’ll be anointed. Stan Earley has been interim before, and could also be the interim, but, he’s been passed over more times than Manziel throws interceptions.

The reality is, the mayor wants the job. The only thing stopping her is that the party or the commission doesn’t get to name a replacement- the voters do. It’s too late to add a candidate to the upcoming election, meaning a “special election” would be needed. One thing’s for sure, if they choose Nan to step in, Gary Leitzel wouldn’t run for mayor- despite being the best qualified- because the idea of working with Nan would be his worst nightmare.

I don’t know what’s more entertaining in politics these days- the clown posse Republican presidential field- or the “leadership” of Dayton.

I’m getting back on my motorcycle and trying to forget about this latest three-ring circus.

Expect a free for all for Dayton City Commission this year

After getting coddled through his term, Dean Lovelace will finish his two plus decades of doing next to nothing on the Dayton City Commission. A purported idealist, with a good heart and some good ideas that were way beyond his pay grade, Lovelace didn’t do much to change Dayton – but did build his retirement fund.

Misguided efforts included the predatory lending issue (bought out by the banks at the state level) and the living wage bill (only applied to city employees and contracts- so minimal). For 22 years on the Commission, that’s not a lot to hang your hat on.

The City Charter clearly says that if you miss more than 5 meetings in a row- it’s time to go. His time to go was after his first stroke. He’s contributed next to nothing since- at times, saying things that would make you wonder if he was all there.

The Dem’s have their golden boy already picked. He’s been sending letters to members of the central committee asking for support and his endorsement- on letterhead he had printed for the last commission election- the one where he withdrew so last golden boy, Jeff Mims could take his anointed seat. If anyone can point out what legislation Mims has introduced, or positions he’s taken other than saying “yes, mam” to the Queen of our city, her royal highness, her nannyness, Mayor Whaley, please feel free to share.

Expect to hear lots about what Matt Joseph has introduced in the coming months- all of it, fed to him by others including the future Clerk of Courts- his brother, the political braintrust of the Democratic party, Russ Joseph who works for Mark Owens, our current Dayton clerk of courts.

The already picked but not voted on by the “selection committee of the Montgomery County Democratic Party” that doesn’t believe in the democratic process of primaries- is the Rev. Darryl Fairchild. Part of the reason the commission had no problem spending money making the dais wheelchair accessible for Dean after his stroke- was because Darryl would need it.

Tommy Owens for Dayton City Commission

From Facebook

Other candidates in the mix, are social media man of the hour on the West Side, Tommy Owens, who is surveying his friends on FB. David K. Greer who ran last time, and a host of others. The Montgomery County Board of Elections has the following list of candidates

Matt Joseph, sitting commissioner.

UPDATE

Marcus Rech–  contacted me and will not be filing for personal reasons

Hazel Rountree who is on the School Board. Recently elected, she’d have to resign from the school board to be on city commission as far as I know. She’s a PhD who works at Wright State.

Chris Shaw- no idea.

Scott Sliver whom I’ve known for 25 years plus. He’s a touchy-feely progressive minister at the Vineyard church who loves to feed poor people. He gave up his career in advertising to serve the lord- and just recently moved from a big house in Beavercreek to downtown. This sets up a battle of the men of the cloth.

The signatures aren’t due until 60 days before the election which is May 5th 2015, making the turn in around Mar. 5th.

The un-Democratic party is going to have its endorsement meeting next week. The question is, who was invited? I’m on the Executive Committee of the party- and I wasn’t aware of invites.

I’m debating running right now. Getting signatures isn’t a lot of fun- which is why Greer has been getting them since the fall. I’ve just been given a few more years with my father- thanks to the VA doing an amazing surgery, and he’d prefer it if I didn’t run. I’ve got enough to do, making sure our kids have basketball nets- a job, at least some people appreciate, and I have a business to run and a wonderful girlfriend to spend my evenings with.

If I saw $2,500 come into my campaign fund- in the next 30 days, it would sway me to run, but if it doesn’t make it to that- at least I’ll have plenty of money for nets, rims, paint, and some t-shirts and balls to give the kids. Donation is on the right of this page.

Gary Leitzell has told me he won’t run for city commission, mostly because working with Nan is next to impossible. Finding someone to question her, and others on our commission in their continued march to mediocrity should be on the minds of all Dayton voters. How many dollars can we spend on failed or misguided “economic development” while ignoring basic services. I can literally ice skate on Bonner Street right now.