Vote NO on Sinclair Issue 4 and lower your taxes

Logic is something they are supposed to teach in college, yet, Sinclair Community College fails to use it when explaining their reason for only taxing Montgomery County property owners while having branch campuses in Warren, Preble and Greene Counties.

The Sinclair line is, residents of other counties have to pay double the tuition of Montgomery County residents. Yet, to become a “Montgomery County resident” only takes 6 months, while they’ve been taxing us for 52 years! And, by the same logic, if we just stopped taxing Montgomery county residents- and just doubled tuition, everything would be hunky-dory.

Sinclair has approximately 20,000 students. Montgomery County has about 540,000 residents, why we have to subsidize a training center for companies like CareSource, Premier Health and Kettering Health Network (who don’t pay the property tax- yet give big sums to the levy campaign) is a bit of a mystery. If the economic impact of Sinclair was so great, why is Warren County one of the fastest growing counties in the state? Could it be that their tax burden is so much lower than Montgomery County. Need proof- the Dayton Daily News built their “Print Technology Center” in Warren County 20 years ago- and now that the tax abatement has worn off- and no one reads their sad “Dayton Day Old News” anymore, they are printing in Indiana and selling their taj mahal.

Sinclair hasn’t fared well in performance measurements for value either. Wallethub did a study and Sinclair came in 2nd to worst of Ohio Community Colleges (only slightly besting Columbus State.)

I have no problem supporting Sinclair if they stop providing services outside Montgomery County- or begin to tax all the other counties they are operating in. That’s what we call “Keep Sinclair Fair” and have a site dedicated to the issue.

And because this community can be very petty to companies and people who go against the powers that be, we’ve set up a 501c4 political action committee, “Reconstructing Dayton” to work on issues of regionalism, ending cronyism and to help independent voices who support our goals.  We’ve also got some pet democracy projects to support. You can donate at will to Reconstructing Dayton to help defeat the unfair taxing of Montgomery County real estate to support the Sinclair Empire which stretches far outside our boundaries. Money will be spent to run a media campaign to inform voters that voting for Sinclair as it’s funded now is contributing to the welfare of other counties. No matter what Sinclair backers say.

We’ve seen plenty of examples of unfair taxation right here in Montgomery County, including the crazy rules of Austin Landing where only the retail workers pay an income tax. It’s time to stand up to the corrupt powers that allow this kind of punitive bullshit taxation to pass as “economic development” or a rational approach to growth.

Please consider donating and supporting our efforts to bring fair taxation to Montgomery County at all levels.



A little sunshine on Sinclair meetings?

Sinclair President Steve Johnson wants to have private talks about public issues.

Message sent to faculty and staff of Sinclair Community College

Dr. Steven Johnson thinks he can have private meetings with faculty and staff, to talk about very public things:

  • Health Sciences Center
  • Enrollment Task Force
  • State Budget Midbiennial Review (MBR)

“This meeting is open to employees of the college and is not intended to be a public or media event.”

Suggestion Steve- go work at a private university that accepts no public dollars.

Woosh, we’re a test market

Last summer, it wasn’t safe to drink the water in Toledo, thanks to a giant algae bloom.

Now, it’s not safe for the people of Flint to drink the water because when the “Emergency Manager” for the bankrupt city decided to switch water supplies- the acidic river water flushed the calcification in the lead pipes away- and the water is now contaminated with lead.

Even the little town of Sebring, Ohio, is having issues with high lead content in the water, despite our governor’s blustering statement that if he was facing a water crisis like the one in Flint “every single engine of government has to move when you see a crisis like that.”

Well, Dayton, knock on wood, has excellent water. And while we still have plenty of lead pipes for distribution, our hard well water, still deposits plenty of calcification to line and protect us. Our water is even softened with a huge lime kiln and has our blue lagoon off Route 4 to store our lime for keeping our water from tasting like nasty well water.

Woosh water station photo

A Woosh Station outside- which isn’t possible, because current system isn’t suitable for winter.

So, you have to wonder what brings the Israeli tech start-up Woosh to Dayton to test their purified water stations to compete with bottled water. And, why do people in Dayton still buy so much bottled water- that often times isn’t as tasty as what comes out of our taps.

That was my first question when I met with Itay Zamir  and Dani  Oren from Woosh Water when I met with them at Sinclair on Wednesday, Jan. 27. Their first answer was “people get innovation here” followed by “people care about the environment”- at least that’s what they’d been told. Why these guys were talking to me is another odd question. It seems the PR person who is handling them for the powers that be thinks this blog is well read- and I was the party responsible for bringing bike share to Dayton-  and these guys love bike share.

This is one of the first potential wins for the “Dayton Regional Trade Alliance” (DRITA) which has been shuffling politicians back and forth between Israel and Dayton- and we’ve got a few lobbyists on the payroll to try to sell Dayton as a manufacturing mecca, just prime to produce Israeli tech products for a much larger market. County Commissioner Dan Foley was there in 2013, along with then Dayton Assistant City Manager Shelley Dickstein when they first met with Woosh.

To explain Woosh- is pretty easy- it’s a glorified water fountain, that washes and “purifies” the bottle before filling it- with a credit card reader built in to take your money. The water is purified with O3- or Ozone, that’s made with water and electricity- and is the secret to cleaning your bottle. Could you use your own bottle and fill it from any old water fountain- sure- but, this water fountain has a few differences- the ozone treatment is one, the measured use replaceable filter (just like your refrigerator might have) and the wash step- for a price about half of what bottled water costs.

The system has been tested in Tel Aviv- with some success. There was also some push back- when they first rolled it out with free water- there were complaints about the registration process requiring a credit card. The difference of course is here it freezes. They don’t have an outdoor machine ready yet.

The machines cost around $20K each right now- but when they ramp up to mass production the price should fall. What’s missing right now is the business model. When pressed for how these are managed, who gets the money, and why you want to Woosh it- was all pretty vague. Right now, the three test stations in Sinclair generate money for Woosh. There is no payback to Sinclair for water, electricity or even rent for the floor space. Both Montgomery County and Dayton City Hall are planning on adding Woosh stations too- and according to the Dayton Daily- each org is kicking $25K over to Woosh to be in the pilot program. If this sounds a bit like Tom Sawyer charging his friends to do his work painting his fence you and I are in agreement. Of course, the payoff is the promise to build the Woosh in Dayton- for sale all over the U.S.

This is what happens when politicians do business deals.

That all being said- the Woosh guys are on a mission- to do away with the buying of bottled water. Ever looked at the bottle of water you bought at Sam’s Club or Kroger? Mother Jones did a story that a lot of the “premium brands” come from areas hit by drought. Many are just filtered tap water. The costs of bottled water add up; branding, bottling, transport, advertising- all for something we should already have- just open a tap, put it in the fridge- and voila. The fact that not only has bottled water use been growing at astronomical rates- but, that it supposedly outsells all soda sold on the Sinclair campus (the school wouldn’t give actual numbers). And that’s at $1.50 or so a bottle. Nice margin there if you can get it.

There is also the issue of BPA in the plastic bottles that most bottled water comes in. All the “purity” of the water is put at risk by this chemical used in the bottle.

BPA (bisphenol-A) is a potentially toxic estrogen-mimicking compound used in plastic production that has been linked to breast cancer, early puberty, infertility, and other maladies. It’s dangerous enough that it has been banned in baby bottles in Europe, Canada, and even China—but not in the U.S. And it turns out that it’s almost entirely unavoidable. It’s in water bottles…

Source: 6 Steps to Avoiding BPA in Your Daily Life

The novelty of the Woosh system is the way you can buy it in bulk- and become a “member” – and use an RFID tag- or your Tartan card- to buy your water, instead of the single serve via cc option. The real killer cost here is the cc transaction processing cost- which is why giving a discount to larger purchases- or using the Tartan card is good for Woosh. They have also somewhat gamified their system- to track how much environmental benefit you are granting the world by Wooshing instead of hitting the bottle.

Really- as long as people are willing to pay stupid amounts of money for bottled water- Woosh makes sense. I’m not really sure why the genius innovators in Dayton haven’t started selling our tap water bottled instead of handing money over to Woosh- but we could still do both. It sure seems smarter to ship Dayton’s wonderful water to Flint than to allow Pepsi, Coke & Nestle to ship their hoity-toity water from drought zones.

Or better yet- start mass producing Woosh stations right now- and sell them to Flint, as a cheaper solution than having the National Guard handing out free bottled water daily. If someone from DRITA was smart enough to get it in writing that they’d be produced here- it shouldn’t be too hard to find demand for a whole bunch of these Woosh stations right now in Flint.

The guys from Woosh aren’t monogamous to Dayton, apparently they’ve been having a dalliance with the city of Miami Beach- to install a “Smart Water Stations Network” in Miami Beach- they signed an agreement back in March, 2015. Let’s hope that Shelley Dickstein remembered to get this manufacturing contract in writing this time- unlike her Wayne Avenue Kroger deal.

The Woosh system deploys with three stations at Sinclair on Monday, Feb. 1, 2016. One will be outside the Tartan marketplace, another at the Main St. Cafe and the third at the Sinclair end of the parking garage walkway in Building 14.

The Sinclair Daily News- strikes again

In case you’re wondering, why there hasn’t been as much on you might want to wander over to Keep Sinclair Fair- and read the reasoning to vote NO on Issue 13- at least until Sinclair either stops operating outside Montgomery County- where we’ve paid handsomely for 49 years – or, Sinclair passes levies in Warren, Preble and Greene counties- and starts acting like a true regional player.

Today, the Dayton Daily news published our short letter to the editor. Right next to a longer anti-pot piece by Bob and Hope Taft. Originally, they’d said they’d let us have 650 words- which we carefully crafted. Their reasoning for not publishing the original and the full letter, follow today’s letter. Note, they had no problem using much of our research in their really long article last Sunday.

Source: The Letter to the Editor- and the one the Dayton Daily wouldn’t  publish | Keep Sinclair Fair

Today, Dr. Steve Johnson was talking to students, trying to get them to vote to continue subsidizing his grand taxation plan, when an reader asked why Warren County wasn’t taxed.

He tried the same tired line of B.S. about the $50 more a credit hour. Read our site to why this simply isn’t true.

The transportable college credit act

My Computer Science degree has Arnold Schwarzenegger's Autograph

The taxpayers help fund it- why not treat college credits like public currency? James LeVeque via Compfight

I’ve been watching a movement that started in the UK- that has huge implications for the parent company of LexisNexis, Reed Elsevier. It seems a university researcher started wondering why research paid for with government funds was being sold back to the government by the “scientific press” at extraordinary expense in the form of “professional journals.” His university was spending millions to buy back i-s own research.

Now that we have the Internet, the costs of publishing has dropped dramatically, yet the costs of these peer-reviewed publications hasn’t. It’s all about cache and tradition.

We have another case of similar bs going on right here in the Miami Valley. While everyone is told that Sinclair College is an amazing value and a great way to earn an associate’s degree and then transfer to a four-year school to get a bachelors, it doesn’t quite work out as smoothly as we’d like to believe.

Example. Non-traditional student (single mom, with 2 kids, coming back to school at 29 for a career change) graduates with honors from Sinclair in Visual Communications and the internship with LexisNexis turns into a job. At first, income is low, and UD subsidizes its ridiculously high tuition and LexisNexis provides support and school is relatively affordable. After 2 years in school part time, scheduling gets tougher and income has risen and now tuition skyrockets. Also, federal financial assistance drops.

Investigate transfer to Wright State. Admissions says wonderful, send transcripts, and we’ll talk. Tuition is considerably lower and scheduling around work schedule is easier. Then, the rejection. “You have to complete a “majority of your coursework at our school to get your degree, we’re not going to accept all of your credits.” Wait I say, these credits were financed mostly by us- with the goal of creating a college graduate. In another case of “you didn’t build this” the Universities seem to forget where a large proportion of their funding comes from- the taxpayers.

How many different ways do we subsidize public and private universities? The list is endless:

  • In the case of public universities- we build the buildings, we pay the staff, we make grants to students, we supply students with low-interest loans and of course, we don’t charge the schools property taxes (and in the case of Sinclair- we directly financed their debt-free school- the only public school with zero debt in Ohio, with our property taxes).
  • In the case of UD (or any private school)- guess what, we don’t build the buildings (although we give huge tax breaks to GE when it builds a building on the UD campus) we don’t pay the staff directly (although through research grants, and funding student loans and grants we subsidize their pay) and yes- they don’t pay property taxes either.

We have a huge investment in public higher education. If the government got out of subsidizing higher-ed, no one would be able to afford it except the very rich and the smartest who would be sponsored by industry who need the brains to continue.

So with the new focus on improving graduation rates at public schools, why are we treating college credits paid for in large part with public dollars as a private currency only good at an individual school? Just like we have the laws protecting interstate commerce and creating a common currency to enable trade and growth- why are college credits treated as proprietary property of schools that are paid in largely by the public? Why do college credits expire? My on-the-job experience doesn’t expire in the real world? Why aren’t college credits, as long as they are bestowed by an accredited institution, fully portable and without an expiration date?

In a free market economy, people are supposed to be able to move to where the jobs are, competition is supposed to be stoked by market forces competing without artificial restrictions. Competitive expertise is supposed to be highly valued and accessible without artificial barriers put in place- so why can’t I learn my physics from MIT, my humanities from Harvard and my English lit from Dennison if I so choose? Why can’t I assemble an education that meets a single standard- a set number of credits in an accredited sequence from any accredited school and gain a diploma? I can build almost anything else in the world with suppliers from across the globe- why not my own education?

While the idea of a degree from Harvard having more value than one from Hiram, in the end, it’s what you do with your knowledge that counts, not where the degree came from. We’re questioning the value that higher education is providing more and more these days- and don’t have to look far to see college drop-outs making it to the “proverbial top”  – Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg  (there is a wikipedia page to Harvard drop- outs that “made it” that’s quite interesting).

Considering we’re well into the “information age” why are we still holding on to traditions from the 17th century when it comes to education? It’s time to re-invent higher ed with a simple change- if your institution accepts public money, it must accept all accredited college credit no matter where it comes from or when. We’re investing in people- not pomp and circumstance, and if you earned your credit at Sinclair/UD/WSU there is no reason you can’t graduate with a degree from the University of US- the taxpayer, we helped fund it.

Time for Warren County to pay for Sinclair

While Montgomery County is looking at budget cuts, Warren County is siting on extra cash like a fat cat. Some of this can probably be attributed to the brilliant work done by their former State Rep Tom Raga in convincing Sinclair President Steve Johnson to expand into Warren County without a tax to pay for it. Now that Raga has done his job at Sinclair- he’s got another cushy job at DP&L where all good lobbyists do a stint.

From today’s Dayton Daily News:

The $61 million budget Warren County commissioners are expected to pass Tuesday for 2011 does not have the dramatic cuts that other neighboring counties have gone through.

In fact, the budget is a slight increase from last year, includes the hiring of four new employees, and the county is expected to give its non-unionized employees a 2 percent increase next year.

via Warren budget increases while neighboring counties make cuts.

Maybe it’s time to ask Warren County residents to start paying their share for an institution that was built and paid for by Montgomery County taxpayers for the last 30 years. And, btw- Sinclair is the only public institution of higher education in the State- with zero debt and at least 100 million in the bank.

You’re welcome Warren County, now pay up.

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?

Dayton Grassroots Daily Show: v.21, Job Retraining

Walmart sells things made in China- but, now, they’re trying to sell themselves as nice guys by handing out chump change donations for job retraining:

scholarships are the result of a $336,500 grant Sinclair received in August from the Walmart Foundation. Sinclair was one of eight U.S. community colleges to share in a total of $3.5 million as part of the Walmart Brighter Futures project.

via Sinclair gets grant from Walmart Foundation to help jobless.

These “jobs of the future” pay between $12-16 an hour, just slightly more than what Walmart pays. Never mind that these people we are “retraining” were  skilled in making trucks that used to pay them between $12 and $35 an hour.

Greg Hunter and David Esrati talk about the real reasons we’re “retraining” our workforce in this 5 minute video- enjoy.

Henry Ford had it right when he paid his first autoworkers well so they could afford to buy his cars. If the President had balls, he’d be laying down the law to Corporate America that there will be no million dollar salaries or bonus checks to anyone working in a company with publicly traded stock- if they lay anyone off- or fail to hire additional workers starting Jan 1, 2010.

A model for rebuilding Dayton Public Schools

I had a conversation with Dayton Daily News Editorial board member and former school reporter, Scott Elliott about my “strangely bad ideas” including where he scoffed about Sinclair Community College taking over Dayton Public Schools.

He did agree that the DPS brand is beyond tarnished, but, told me there was no precedent, or reason for it to happen.

I point you to the Boston University/Chelsea Partnership- where I guess someone else had a “strangely bad idea;”

The Boston University/Chelsea Partnership is the only example of a private university accepting responsibility for the day-to-day management of a public school system.

Boston University provides managerial and educational expertise to oversee and rebuild an entire urban school system and to construct a model for the reform of urban education. The challenges faced by the partnership in Chelsea are typical of those faced in economically disadvantaged urban areas throughout the United States. In June 1989, Boston University accepted the invitation of the Chelsea School Committee to manage the Chelsea Public Schools under a unique ten-year partnership agreement.

By unanimous vote of the Chelsea School Committee in 1997, that agreement was extended an additional five years. In June 2002, the School Committee once again voted to invite Boston University to extend the partnership, this time through June 2008.

The Boston University Chelsea Partnership remains the only instance in which a private university has accepted responsibility for the overall day-to-day management of a public school system. The University receives no monetary compensation for its work; rather, it provides managerial and educational expertise and oversight in order to rebuild an entire urban school system and to construct a model for the reform of urban education.

The challenges faced by the partnership in Chelsea are typical of those faced in economically disadvantaged urban areas throughout the United States.

via BU | School of Education.

Although Sinclair isn’t a 4 year school, with an education department (hello, Wright State and University of Dayton) Sinclair is already a partner with DECA, ISUS and the new David Ponitz High School which is grades 9-14.

With a City Commission that votes 5-0 almost always, and has only had a few 3-0-1 votes in the last four years- it’s a wonder any new ideas ever come to the table for discussion. Without floating ideas like this, how will we ever know what could be? In a conversation with the esteemed Dr. Ponitz, he shared his believes in the need for “creative dissonance” which help elevate the level of the discussion.

Apparently in Boston, someone floated my idea long ago- and it’s still working. Yet, Scott Elliott has no ideas of his own, nor is he willing to sign his name to a hatchet job in the editorial. Read my plan– share your thoughts, then try that on Nan Whaley’s or Joey D. Williams‘s sites.

College housing the Dayton way?

It’s not often that I quote myself in posts, but for this one, it seems appropriate- I wrote this back in January. I dedicated to F.B.- who didn’t make it out of the hospital, R.I.P. You are missed. Here is the excerpt:

Rooming houses, the regulated and inspected type, aren’t that much different from hotels that rent by the week or month, they just don’t have corporate branding attached. We find no problem with an “extended stay hotel”- but a rooming house is considered one step above a drug den.

Maybe as a strategy to bringing people back to Dayton and spark urban revitalization, we need to look at bringing back the rooming house as an accepted form of residential housing. Tough times, require some new looks at old ideas.

via Is it time for Dayton to rethink rooming houses?.

And here is another reason: Sinclair is having record enrollment. I heard 30K plus. And, not a single bit of “on campus” housing. Forcing students to drive- making parking a pain. Using lots of fossil fuels.

Aren’t these the potential young hipsters that upDayton wants to keep? Hmmm.

Now, let’s talk about UD. Remember the place they call “the ghetto”- well, drive through and it doesn’t look anything like a ghetto anymore. In fact, it looks like a really nice urban neighborhood with lots of young people walking the streets. But, it wasn’t always so.

The secret, is UD bought all the houses from a Ghetto lord who was making a lot of money. You see, renting a house by the month, or even the semester is only OK. You might get $600-$800 month in rent. Call a semester three months and you are at $1,800 to $2,400. But, divide it up and rent per person- and you ask $500 per semester- cram 2 people per room- in a three bedroom house- and you now have $9000 in rent. Ka-Ching!

Now, if you are just Ghetto lord, that’s bad. But if you are UD- it’s good.

And maybe, we should consider having Sinclair adopt a neighborhood and fill it full of students? Start with Five Oaks and Dayton View. Run shuttles back and forth. Fix up those big old homes and rent them out like hotels.

What- you say Sinclair shouldn’t be in the housing business? How right you are. Let’s let the private sector do it. WSU is having dorms built left and right by private business. How do we get this to happen? Take some of those boarded up homes and vacant lots and package them. Give a tax abatement equal to the dollars invested in the rehab. Maybe even offer students a tuition break for living in these rehabbed houses and helping repopulate the neighborhood- and getting involved in civic service in the neighborhoods.

Could we start seeing a decrease in boarded up vacant homes? Do you have a better idea?