Sinclair Community College-benefits for which community?

I’ve been critical of the expansion of Sinclair Community College into Warren County. It’s bad enough that we’ve been losing population and business to them- but now they are getting the fruits of our tax support of a Montgomery County institution with zero tax burden.

Sure, they will pay more in tuition, but it’s marginally more. The college administration will say that none of your tax dollars are being spent- yet, they are wasting their valuable time (Dr. Johnson makes $274K a year- the highest paid government employee in Montgomery County) on something we didn’t agree to.

Now, in the midst of an economic pounding- right after we almost unanimously approved another levy- and when they’ve just instituted a 3.5% tuition hike- they want to hike tuition and fees even higher:

Johnson said Thursday he would ask the board Saturday to “move forward on the request for a special fee exception (from the state) to allow us to readjust our tuition and fees.”

“It’s my goal to remain the lowest in the state of Ohio, but I would like to get right up to the second lowest — whatever would close that gap or at least narrow that gap,” Johnson said.

Sinclair’s $2,050 annual tuition for full-time Montgomery County students is the lowest in Ohio. Lorain’s annual tuition is $2,400. The $350 difference represents a 17 percent gap.

Both colleges are supported by county levies.

Sinclair spokeswoman Natasha Baker said any increase would not be done all at once.

Sinclair’s board in September approved a 3.5 percent tuition increase that started this month with the winter quarter. The college had kept tuition frozen for 12 of the last 19 years.

via Sinclair president urges tuition, fee hike; board won’t act on it today.

I believe- and have written it here many times, that Sinclair Community College with its unbelievably low tuition is one of the best reasons to live here- and to move your business here. Now, Dr. Johnson wants to take away our competitive advantage by raising rates to parity with Lorain Community College. The difference: Sinclair is the only debt-free institution of higher ed in the State- and has $100 mill in the bank. That’s your money at work.

Just because he’s gone on an expansion binge, doesn’t give him a right to take it out of the students’ wallets. We paid for the privilege of having an amenity- now, Dr. Johnson has to learn to live within our budget.

If he wants to keep raising tuition and growing his empire- maybe he needs to go somewhere else- or do it with his own money. The taxpayers of Montgomery County deserve better.

Greg and I have another spirited discussion (at least the best I could do with his interruptions) about this topic. Greg asserts that Sinclair isn’t delivering at all, I disagree. One thing we agree on, is that certain developers have done well with these out of county expansions of community colleges. What are your thoughts?

Follow up on the Greene County cutting allowance to the DDC

I first wrote about this back on Jan 22nd– patting the Greene County Commission on the back, for taking a stand for their taxpayers.

On Jan 28, 2010- the Dayton Daily News called them on the carpet:

Greene County’s commissioners are either being petty or they’re lost in the financial weeds.

Last week Commissioners Marilyn Reid and Alan Anderson approved a $44.7 million operating budget, in which they cut funding to the Dayton Development Coalition to $25,000.

The coalition is an economic development organization that is funded with contributions from local governments and area businesses.

Commissioner Rick Perales voted no, in part, because he wanted to guarantee that the coalition will receive $50,000. A Greene County development agency may yet decide to kick in another $25,000.

You’re reading all of this right. Greene County has an almost $45 million budget, and elected officials are haggling over peanut shells — not even the peanuts. But there’s more.

Last year, Greene County contributed $50,000 to the coalition, while in 2008, the commissioners allotted $195,000.

The commissioners paint the reductions as a statement about cost-cutting. But that’s not serious.

via Editorial: Greene County snubs its best advocate | A Matter of Opinion.

Why do our politicians feel incapable of lobbying directly? Isn’t that what the layers of government are supposed to do? Move things up the food chain?

Greg and I have a little discussion for you on this- questioning how this group of lobbyists gets a virtual free pass from the Dayton Daily News- and we wonder why?

It’s about time our politicians started doing the lobbying for us directly. Otherwise, why bother electing them at all- we can just cut the checks directly to the DDC and cut out the middle men.

Time to fix the cat problem in Dayton

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again- why don’t we license cats?

Wild cats run free- while wild dogs get picked up. There is no place to take a cat you find running loose- at least not without paying someone to pick it up.

Luckily, it seems that one person has a plan to start proactively and cost effectively dealing with cats in Montgomery County:

“Population,” said Brian Weltge, executive director of the Humane Society of Greater Dayton, “will always come to equilibrium to the food source.” The more cats you remove from the streets, the faster the remaining population will reproduce, as long as there is sufficient food.

Trap, neuter, return

Weltge believes trap-neuter-release is more effective than trapping and euthanizing feral cats. Of the six colonies that Munday oversees, four are stabilized — the population remains stable because the cats are all unable to reproduce. “Once stabilized, the colony will not let an outsider in unless there is a death.”

…Research by the American Veterinary Medical Association estimates there likely are 150,000 cats in Montgomery County. Of those, a minimum of 68,000 are household pets.

via Stray cat population ‘may be unsolvable problem’ for communities.

And while we often talk about the fat cats running the city- this is really an issue of misplaced good will by people trying to help. As I’ve told a neighbor, the only difference between cat food and rat food is one letter- and I’d really appreciate you not feeding both on your step.

Greg and I have a spirited conversation about it:

Out of the box thinking- good thing for Dayton. What else can we do to be proactive?

About time we had some debate: Obama vs. Republicans

When the people are finally sick and tired of being spoon-fed partisan BS coming from the corporate puppets we elect- and the tide has turned against the leader, they finally decide to try something new- that’s as old as democracy itself: Debate:

President Obama denied he was a Bolshevik, the Republicans denied they were obstructionists and both sides denied they were to blame for the toxic atmosphere clouding the nation’s political leadership….

What ensued was a lively, robust debate between a president and the opposition party that rarely happens in the scripted world of American politics.

For an hour and 22 minutes, with the cameras rolling, they thrust and parried, confronting each other’s policies and politics while challenging each other to meet in the middle. Intense and vigorous, sometimes even pointed, the discussion nonetheless proved remarkably civil and substantive for a relentlessly bitter era, an airing of issues that both sides often say they need more of.

via Off Script, Obama and the G.O.P. Vent Politely –

Long ago in American history- there were debates as well. The most famous being Lincoln/Douglas lasting 4.5 hours. In our short-attention-span, brain-dead country full of followers- who think “Avatar” is deep political thought- what happened yesterday can only be viewed as a baby step in the right direction.

Imagine a country where the Republicans and the Democrats actually had to stare each other down- in free-form debate- on what they will do once elected, and then actually be on record as having a position to be held accountable to?

Sort of like what Greg and I do daily- on the Dayton Grassroots Daily Show- where we discuss the discussion they had yesterday:

Debate is good for democracy. Let’s start requiring.

Game changers- Apple did it with the iPad- why can’t Dayton?

Apple iPad

The Apple iPad

Today Apple announced the iPad. I’m not in love with the name- sounds like a feminine hygiene product to me {update- a skit from 3 years ago makes fun of this name- not for those easily offended} , but, since Apple makes it- it will sell no matter what it’s called. I would have preferred ApplePad or even the return of the Apple Newton name (a product that was ahead of its time in many ways).

Sometimes talking with Greg is like riding a mechanical bull, so my serious ideas about how the iPad is a potential game changer got banged around pretty hard in our video. But, I’ll be posting thoughts over on the business site soon. If you don’t know what an iPad is- Apple has lots of information on its site as to the nuts and bolts. What I see is the potential for newspapers to finally abandon print- jettisoning the daily delivery of a dead tree with ink- into a real delivery of their product- news. With the ease of distribution through the Apple iBook store- and the future potential to target ads to individuals through this intuitive interface- this could be the savior of the newspaper business. If wifi were ubiquitous, the connectivity issue would work- get a free iPad with your subscription to a “sponsor” paper (sort of the way cell phones are sold)- but the cost load is delivered through targeted ad delivery and some subscription revenue to the paper.

Each newspaper would collect a “scrape” from other newspapers who are read through the sponsor’s device. The DDN would own the database and relationship and make money by managing your relationship with advertisers along with delivering the local part of the news. This wasn’t included in the presentation – but, is not much different from the way the apps store has worked for delivery of ads. Granted, no one is making billions yet from iApps- except Apple- but that could change if enough iPads landed in peoples hands and enough printing presses went the way of the dodo.

But- back to the game changer part. Apple is not the first e-reader, or tablet computer. In fact, they are late to the game- as they were with the Mac and with the iPod and the iPhone. They just came up with a better idea with a better design. So much of Apple’s aura is from the interaction between people and a computer.

That interface is where Dayton could use a total overhaul. We project ourselves as Dayton when it suits us- but most of the time, we’ve got 500 different chiefs ruling 600 Indians. We’ve never been elegant- or easy to explain. We operate in our own little reality distortion field – thinking we’ve got a product people want- when if fact, we don’t have a product at all.

If Dayton were what we think it is, we wouldn’t be seeing a steady stream of bad news- with jobs leaving, crime happening and committees being formed constantly to solve our problem. Nope, we’d have a Steve Jobs to lead us – with a clear vision- of creating something insanely great for us to announce to the world. We’d be making best practices, instead of copying them. We’d be asking “what if” more and not “how do”- there was a time when Dayton did lead the way, but no longer.

With our low cost of living, moderate climate, central location, abundant water, nice people and enough smart people hiding in the woodwork- all we need is a nice shiny vision of where we’re going and how to get there.

Before Steve Jobs came back to Apple they were on the brink of collapse. Now- where are they?

Memo to Mayor Gary Leitzell: Steve Jobs doesn’t do ANYTHING by committee.

I see a different Dayton- do you? In the meantime- take another look at the iPad- do you see the game changing potential? I do.

Leitzell’s first folly

I like Gary Leitzell. I even liked Rhine McLin- both nice people. I’m sure that Gary isn’t on the take- and has the people’s best interests at heart. But today he announced his “Leadership Council”- and I’m really wondering how this group is going to come up with BIG ideas. Especially after hearing Mr. Leitzell on the campaign trail talking about helping start 1000 small businesses- something that doesn’t seem to be well represented on this “council.”

From today’s DDN:

Mayor Gary Leitzell, today, Jan. 26, announced the founding of his Leadership Council, a diverse 17-member committee of community leaders who are acknowledged experts in their respected fields.

“The Leadership Council marks a bold step in Dayton’s long recovery process. The Council, which is composed of some of Dayton’s best and brightest minds, will meet regularly to discuss ideas and strategies that can help further spur our economic turnaround,” Leitzell said.

The council’s purpose, according to its mission statement, is to foster economic development and growth in the city by undertaking independent initiatives and by providing advice and counsel to the Mayor….

The members of the Dayton Mayor’s Leadership Council

* David H. McDonald (Co-Chair), president, The McDonald Group LLC

* Jeff Samuelson, AIA (Co-Chair), managing member, jz Companies

* Phillip L. Parker, CAE, CCE, president & CEO, Dayton Area Chamber of Commerce

* Gregory M. Gantt, Esq., partner, Allbery Cross Fogarty, chairman Montgomery County Republican Party

* Thomas A. Raga, vice president of advancement Sinclair Community College

* S. Ted Bucaro, government and regional relations director University of Dayton

* Anne Higdon, president, ISUS Corp.

* Larry E. Couchot, partner, Couchot Hogenkamp

* William Duncan, partner, Thorn, Lewis and Duncan Inc.

* Julie Liss-Katz, director of public affairs, Premier Health Partners

* Glenn Alexander, former Dayton Fire Chief

* Stacy M. Thompson, Dayton Public Schools board member, KeyBank Vice President

* Cassandra S. Mitchell, educator, Journalism/Mass Communications Instructor/Community Outreach Specialist/TV Producer & Host

* Steve LaFlame, union liaison

* Col. Tim Donohue, 88th Mission Support Group Commander, Wright-Patterson AFB

* Richard Haas, president, Grandview/Southview Hospital System

* Rev. Wilburt Shanklin, Living Word of Faith Church

via Mayor announces development advisers.

In fact- I’m wondering why we’re still expecting government to solve our economic woes.  Maybe if the City could actually concentrate on fundamental service delivery- and learn how to get out of the way of people who actually make things happen around here.

I think Anne Higdon and Jeff Samuelson are great choices- but, the load of Republicans- McDonald, Gantt, Raga (the ones I know about) are a mistake.

And because I put my money where my mouth is- I’d recommend either Jan Lepore Jennelson East End Community Services or Amy Radachi Rebuilding Together Dayton, Wesley Center director Dr. Robert Walker, Jim Gagnet of Pacesetter Painting and Coco’s Bistro, Bill Daniels of Pizza Factory and- believe it or not- some of the people who are paid by the City- like the City Manager Tim Riordan, the planning director John Gower, Steve Budd from CityWide.

I’d also look to some of the people from UpDayton, like Theresa Gasper who has helped turn South Park housing around almost by herself.

The key to making this really work- is not picking people who expect to be on it- like Phil Parker- who already are supposed to be part of the system. But to pick people who are self-starters, the type of people who start the small businesses in this city- and mine them on their secrets. MVH, Sinclair, UD- already have the ability to speak with a big stick.

Let’s pass that stick around.

Your thoughts?

The Sunday Dayton Daily News: another uninspired effort

Real news is hard to come by in the Sunday Dayton Daily News- but, we thought for today’s Dayton Grassroots Daily Show we’d dissect it for you.

The DDN just figured out that Governor Ted Strickland isn’t looking too good for a second term. Too bad he doesn’t have a Dem challenger- a primary would help him sharpen his message. If elections didn’t cost so much- maybe we’d have more participation?

Turner is going to run unopposed? Is that news? He’s basically run unopposed every time. Has anyone questioned why? Especially since you don’t actually have to live in a Congressional district to run for it.

We are also treated to a really silly editorial about the DHL facility in Wilmington:

Hundreds of millions of dollars — private and public — have been put into the facility. It is a stunning 1,500-acre asset that can’t be wasted.

DHL’s plan is to turn the park over to Wilmington officials by Feb. 28. Until that happens, people who are interested in the site are going to hold on to some skepticism.

But the handover is going to happen, and the region needs to be ready to move when the deal is inked.

Gov. Ted Strickland was at an event last week when DHL repeated its intentions. This is an election year, so he’s especially eager to be seen as working to bring jobs to the state. But beyond that, the state has poured $99 million into road improvements at the site.

Ohio and specifically the Department of Development have a huge stake in making sure the facility is put to its fullest and best use. Otherwise, a lot of taxpayer money went for nothing.

via Editorial: DHL’s re-use matters beyond just Wilmington | A Matter of Opinion.

Yep, they just figured out that the government has spent “hundreds of millions” of taxpayer money for nothing. Yet, they continue to back the “economic development” by government dog and pony show.

The sad thing about DHL is this wasn’t the first one of these air freight hubs to go south on taxpayer life support- nope, we had Emery Air Freight here in Dayton that did the exact same thing.

We kept it at 5:35 so, sit back and enjoy:

If you thought anything else was stupid in the paper- feel free to share.

Ohio License plate fees

As the State goes broke and is looking for ways to raise revenue (without raising taxes) look to new fees, penalties and other scams to reach into your pocket. We already saw dog licenses go up (still no need to license cats- which I don’t understand). Greg got hit with the new late fee for license plate renewal- which was put in place to replace gas tax revenue that funds the State Highway Patrol.:

Ohio drivers have been stung by more than 300,000 fines for missing deadlines to renew their driver’s licenses and vehicle registrations since the $20 penalties went into effect in October.

About one in six drivers renewing licenses and one in 10 renewing registrations were hit with the fine in October, November and December, according to statistics released yesterday by the state Bureau of Motor Vehicles.

The fines, which were slipped into the state transportation budget last spring, have yielded more than $6.4 million in new revenue for the State Highway Patrol….

Since Oct. 1, drivers more than seven days late on a renewal have been assessed a $20 fee. The penalty was part of a series of new and higher fees that lawmakers stuffed into the two-year, $9.6 billion transportation budget, largely to replace gas-tax revenue that previously had been a major funding source for the patrol.

Lawmakers also increased the fees for vanity license plates, temporary tags and vision screenings.

via Driver’s license late fees piling up | Columbus Dispatch Politics.

I take a rather unpopular position that Ohio should inspect vehicles and require them to meet basic safety requirements- like bumpers, windshields, lights- you know – the basics.

It’s still a lot cheaper to register your car in Ohio than in Kentucky- which charges a property tax on cars.

Of course, the gas tax was unpopular when gas prices went up- and people were cringing all over the state every time they went to the pump. This is the part about sprawl that Ohioans don’t understand- roads cost money- and so do the police to patrol them. The money has to come from somewhere- and this is why all you “Fair” taxers should love the gas tax- since it’s a consumption tax. The problem rolls in that it becomes a value added tax since so much of our other merchandise is shipped by truck.

Here is Greg and I in a 5 minute discussion about the matter (and yes- we’re trying to make these video bits shorter).


My Dad on Dayton

Sometimes we take things for granted- you know the saying you never miss it till it’s gone.

My father has lived a lot of different places growing up- but Cleveland ended up being where he spent more than half his life. Making the move to Dayton was a tough decision, but now that he and mom are here, they’ve come to really enjoy Dayton.

Today’s Dayton Grassroots Daily Show is just a short (4 min) discussion of what he misses about Cleveland, and what he likes about Dayton.

I plan on taking him to Charlies Imports on Troy Street for lunch next week. Any suggestions for other places he may like?

Supreme Stupidity: Best politicians money can buy

Today our country was officially sold out. In a 5-4 split along ideological lines, the Supreme Court gave corporations carte blanche to buy their politicians.

Overruling two important precedents about the First Amendment rights of corporations, a bitterly divided Supreme Court on Thursday ruled that the government may not ban political spending by corporations in candidate elections.

The 5-to-4 decision was a vindication, the majority said, of the First Amendment’s most basic free speech principle — that the government has no business regulating political speech. The dissenters said that allowing corporate money to flood the political marketplace would corrupt democracy.

via Supreme Court Blocks Ban on Corporate Political Spending –

This all came out of a case on whether or not a corporation could pay to show an anti-Hillary movie on old school broadcast media. Apparently the Supremes haven’t been paying attention to video streaming sites like YouTube. The real issue is buying off politicians- it’s bad enough what the lobbyists spend:

A campaign finance watchdog’s analysis of insurance and HMO political contributions and lobbying expenses found the industries spent $126,430,438 over the first half of 2009 and $585,725,712 over the past two and a half years to influence public policy and elected officials. The group, Public Campaign Action Fund, found that in the first part of 2009, the industries were spending money at nearly a $700,000 a day clip to influence the political process and that the monthly pace of political spending this year has increased by nearly $400,000 over the average spent per month in the previous two years.


How are our interests protected by that kind of spending power- especially, when campaign costs keep escalating?

Greg and I have a real short 3 minute discussion on the subject:

What do you think of this latest decision?

I think we have the best politicians money can buy.