Why we do the Dayton Grassroots Daily Show

It’s funny- people are starting to recognize us around town. Generally, we’ve been getting encouragement. This is an experiment in public journalism, community building and issue awareness. After a prominent university president saw Greg at lunch today- and introduced himself- and says he watches, we thought we’d talk about why we keep doing this- even if our view count on Youtube is low- so here it is:

We appreciate all of our viewers- and those who’ve stuck with me on this site/social experiment.

We’re averaging 975 unique visitors per day- and around 15K unique per month. If you like what we’re doing- tell your friends.

If there is a topic you’d like discussed- suggest it. If you’d like to be a guest- let us know.


We trust you with a gun, but not your timesheet?

In yet another piece of odd drama, the Dayton FOP is coming out with both guns blazing. This time, they are protesting the implementation of time clocks for the department, which will probably force the city to pay their members more. Excuse me, yes, you read that right- the head of the union is against a new policy that should guarantee more overtime for more of his members:

Police union President Randy Beane said the time clocks must be a negotiated item in the union’s contract and if implemented, will cost the city “hundreds of thousands of dollars” in overtime.

“We’re tired of taking it from the city on things like this,” Beane said. “We have a lot of dedicated officers who come in early and stay late and don’t claim that time. If the city is going to start tracking it, it is going to cost them. Big time.”

Assistant Police Chief Wanda Smith said federal law prohibits the department from not paying people for the hours they’ve worked. “If Lt. Beane has info that this policy is being violated, he needs to bring it to the chief’s office,” she said.

Smith said the department’s budget will not be impacted. “Officers don’t get to choose when they come to work and just because they show up doesn’t mean they are entitled to get paid.”

Beane said the union plans to file an unfair labor practice charge because the city didn’t negotiate the clocks with the union.

via Police union vows to fight time clocks.

If this sounds strange to you, also realize that in order for most officers to actually work, they have to check in with dispatch (punch in) and check out a cruiser, weapons, ammunition etc. It’s not like they are running around without anyone knowing where they are.

If you trust them with a gun- shouldn’t we be able to trust their time on the clock without a time clock? Or, is there something we don’t know about.

Time Card

The Time Card that started it all

Now, it just so happens, I have a long history with the issue of keeping time for city employees- and there is a certain group who has been getting paid for working 52 hours each week- when putting in less than 36- and this has been going on for years. The Dayton trash collectors have been working a “make out and quick” schedule- where they finish their route- and they are done for the day. If they come in on Saturday to work a neighborhood alley sweep (to pick up what they missed while running after the trucks all week)- they are paid time and a half for a full 8 hour day- even if they put in less than 5 hours.

It was this issue that I was railing against back in 1996- which caused the City Commission to have one of their secret illegal meetings to discuss ways to limit citizen participation. Apparently- my big time card was a little too easy for people to understand.

It’s only taken 14 years to start accounting for employee time properly in Dayton.

Here’s our conversation on the subject on the Dayton Grassroots Daily Show:

Who’s the criminal? SCLC, Montgomery County, Caresource?

Raleigh Trammell is an ex-con. A man convicted of welfare fraud. Been to prison. Comes back and somehow ends up administering welfare programs again?

Uh, does this sound like a good idea? So when the FBI is called in to investigate the possibility that he, as Britney Spears says, “Oops, I did it again” should we be throwing the book at Raleigh, or the people who were stupid enough to put him in charge of welfare money- again?

It would seem the real culprit is Montgomery County run by Deborah Feldman, however, no one seems to be pointing a finger at her. The paper seems to have no problem insinuating that the Reverend has misappropriated tax money- without wondering how and who thought that he was qualified to administer it:

Montgomery County, state and federal governments last year provided $357,637, for programs operated by the SCLC and the Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance. Since 1999, the total taxpayer contribution to those groups has been at least $3 million.

Trammell is chairman of the national SCLC, a civil rights group founded in 1957 by the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. He is also chairman of the Dayton SCLC chapter and executive director of the IMA.

Trammell and SCLC national Treasurer Spiver Gordon are under investigation by the national SCLC for allegedly embezzling $569,000.

National board member Art Rocker and others presented evidence to authorities in Alabama and Georgia and had planned to come to Ohio next week. Rocker applauded the FBI raid.

“It will show it’s going to be tough to pimp on the name of Dr. King any longer. This is a message to all civil rights leaders,” said Rocker, president of Florida SCLC. “If you’re not going to do your program, if you’re not going to do what you say, get out of the civil rights business…

It wasn’t the first time that Trammell’s home at 1505 Olmstead Place has been raided. In 1977, Trammell, then deputy director of the county welfare department, was indicted in a widespread probe into systemic welfare fraud and his home raided by sheriff’s deputies. He was convicted of larceny by trick and grand theft, and sentenced to 4-to-10 years in prison. He served a little over a year before being released on shock parole in 1980.

Trammell has headed the local SCLC since 1983. He became vice chairman of the national SCLC board in 1996 and national chairman in 2004….

A Dayton Daily News examination found the Dayton SCLC chapter and IMA took funding for a domestic violence shelter and food pantry that closed in August. For the last two years the county also failed to monitor the funding Trammell’s organizations received through the Dayton Urban League.

“We take full responsibility for our lack of full monitoring,” Feldman said, although she said the Urban League too failed to monitor its subcontractors.

The county funds a Family Formation case management and counseling program through the Urban League, which subcontracts with the IMA, SCLC and a third group. In 2009, $84,660 went to the IMA and SCLC for those services.

In response to questions raised by the Daily News, the county reviewed the program’s paperwork this week and found that the SCLC had failed to document whether services were provided.

Feldman said Thursday she removed the SCLC as a subcontractor, and told the Urban League it would not be paid until a plan is in place to better monitor how the money is spent.

The United Way of Greater Dayton also is auditing Federal Emergency Management Agency money that went to IMA and SCLC last year, said Jayne Klose, senior vice president of the local United Way, which oversees the funding.

The money was to pay for the shelter, the pantry and a feeding program. Since 2001 the SCLC and IMA have received $728,252 from the program, including federal stimulus money….

The county also spends about $40,000 a year in human services levy money for a feeding program the SCLC runs. Feldman on Thursday said she would cut off the funding in April unless the SCLC provides a full financial accounting and audit. She temporarily suspended that program Thursday

via Local officials halt SCLC funding.

But here is the shocker- even if Rev. Trammell was indeed a thief, stealing all of the $3 million in government funds that were allocated to the poor through his organizations over the last 10 years- without any second look by the people who handed him these contracts- he has taken less than Pam Morris, CEO of CareSource took home in one year as “compensation” for overseeing the distribution of tax dollars to the less fortunate.

The difference- one is a black male, ex-con who was set-up to take a fall- and the other is a white woman who is beyond reproach.

Guess someone did better at remembering to spread the money around to other non-profits as opposed to friends and family.

Once again- there seem to be two different justice systems.

This isn’t a crime against the SCLC, it’s a crime against the voters intelligence to allow people like Feldman and Morris- to be overlooked, while we crawl up Trammell’s backside looking for poop. Sure there is poop- that’s what they want us to look at- while they’ve been getting away with crime after crime.

It’s time to look back at the deal for the Sears building downtown- where Deborah Feldman’s husband and father in-law made a killing selling a property they optioned for less than $1.2 Million to the City for over $8 Million for the Riverscape fountain. Yes, somethings stink in this city- but, the Reverend Raleigh ain’t the main cause of it.

Here is what the Dayton Grassroots Daily Show had to say:

How your tax dollars end up in the rich mans pockets

The news is sometimes in the details that the Dayton Daily News leaves out. If you read their story, it sounds like the city and county have “won” some new business- from Georgia (the evil people who “stole” NCR from us) for the paltry investment of $125K.

Read and Rejoice!

In September 2009, commissioners initially approved a recommendation for a $125,000 grant to the company, a producer of molded plastic parts. The Montgomery County ED/GE (Economic Development/Government Equity) advisory committee recommended the grant.

The ED/GE process has two parts: First, the county considers the recommendations of the ED/GE advisory committee and then the county enters into a contract with local jurisdictions — in this case, the city of Dayton — as part of the allocation. The expansion will be in Dayton.

Composite Technologies plans to move and expand its mixing and molding division from Georgia to 943 Woodley Road, Dayton, according to its ED/GE application.

via Grant allows company to expand, create 41 new jobs.

Greg Hunter did his dilligent digging and finds out that this is just another of Raj Soin’s businesses. That’s right, the man who owns Mike Turner, now gets another $125K of your money. This is the guy who owns a mansion and doesn’t want to pay his taxes:

The Ohio Supreme Court has affirmed Greene County’s 2003 appraisal of Raj and Indu Soin’s Beavercreek home at $3.7 million.

The Soins appealed to the court, claiming the home at 2489 Kemp Road was worth less than half as much — $1.4 million.

The Soins have battled county officials over property taxes since building the 25,879 square-foot, 16-room home, completed in 2002. The home has six bedrooms, 91/2 bathrooms and a swimming pool and sits on 126 acres — 37 of which were purchased in 2004 for $662,500, according to county records.

The Soins also are appealing the $5.3 million value the county set for 2005 in Greene County Common Pleas Court, claiming the home is worth $2.75 million. Wright State University’s School of Business is named for Raj Soin, founder of Dayton-based MTC Technologies.

via DaytonDailyNews: Dayton, Ohio, news and information.

If you want to look at who owns the Woodley Road property: Court Reporter on transaction

Read about the City bragging about their involvement: Dayton Department of Development PDF PR

See who owns Sansara Properties LLC: State of Ohio articles of Incorporation listing Raj Soin’s son, Vishal Soin as the agent: http://www2.sos.state.oh.us/reports/rwservlet?imgc&Din=200906202950

It’s pretty obvious that $125K makes no difference at all in the scale of this deal- so how do they come up with this number? It’s the exact same amount that they gave to BGHstudios several years back (word on the street is that there aren’t many people working there right now).

However, as your trash bill goes up, your police officers get overworked, and firefighters get cut- somehow we have the ability to give $125K to a very rich man. It’s criminal.

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 – NYTimes.com.

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?