Committees and consultants don’t build confidence

If you keep electing the same people and expect a different result, you’ve got a problem. If you read the story in today’s Dayton Daily News about the candidates’ position on jobs, you won’t hear anything different than you heard four or eight or twelve years ago.

In fact, the “streamlining” of the permit process has now been going on for at least 15 years. And, no one better tell Nan that when they hiked the water fees and wouldn’t negotiate a discount rate for Cargill- they went and drilled their own wells.

I’ve pulled some excerpts-

To keep the city better in step with the business community, McLin said she has assembled the Mayor’s Economic Development Council. The group meets quarterly to share ideas and concerns.

The 14-member group includes representatives from industry, large and small businesses along with academia.

“It has opened dialogue between City Hall and business,” said KeyBank District President and member of the council Ed Reilly….

Leitzell believes city government should operate like a business and also do a better job of marketing itself.

“I think we need people at City Hall who have marketing experience, who have a background in sales and business,” he said. “People (now) are being hired right out of college with degrees in public administration.”…

City commissioners Nan Whaley and Joey Williams say they also recognize obstacles in the city’s construction permitting process. They have organized a committee of architects, construction managers, developers, the Dayton Area Chamber of Commerce, CityWide Development and city staff to work on solutions.

“We want to get this done quickly,” Whaley said. “I’ve really taken a lot away from what the developers are saying.”

In March, the commission agreed to pay $60,000 to the Illinois-based Metrix Consulting Group to study Dayton’s permitting process and explore best practices. In December, the company will recommend ways to improve the operations here.

“Of course we’ve heard people want our permitting process to be easier to use. We’ve wanted to do this study two years ago, but didn’t have the money,” Williams said. “At the end of the day, we have to look for ways to reduce bureaucracy.”…

“We have to use water as a leveraging tool. It can be a way to market Dayton to the world,” she said.

Whaley said Cargill, one of the city’s largest water customers, is an example of Dayton attracting industry with its natural resource.

via Dayton candidates present strategies, solutions for unemployment.

How many more committees do we need to help these people along? Must everything be done by a herd of people.

Ross Perot, when reflecting on the cultural differences between his company, EDS, and GM after the ill-fated purchase said this:

An EDS employee who sees a snake kills it, Perot graphically said. At GM, they form a committee on snakes, hire a consultant who knows about snakes, talk about it for a year…

Why can’t we hire a city manager who can actually lead- and focus on what a city is supposed to do? Of course, this issue is nothing new. It’s probably a big part of the reason John H. Patterson implemented the City Manager form of Government in the first place- he was sick of politicians and their wishy-washy platitudes. No offense to Gary, but if I hear “we need to run city hall more like a business” one more time, I’ll hurl- it’s got to be the most tired line in politics.

Patterson knew that to keep his factories running, he needed good neighborhoods for his workers to live in. He invested heavily in South Park, and the city, to try to make it a desirable place to live. Somewhere along the line, we got turned around and started focusing on how to buy jobs instead. This hasn’t been working out for us so well- as the Mayor lists the companies who’ve packed up and left in the article.

Yesterday, I was walking door to door on the West side. While some streets have one out of five homes vacant and others even more- I hit a street of well kept, clean, small two bedroom, 1 bath homes with people who took pride in their street. The yards were expertly manicured, there wasn’t a bit of trash blowing on the street and the people knew they had a good thing- they also knew their neighbors. They knew their neighbors really well. And for those few blocks, I was reminded that strong neighborhoods are what gives people hope and confidence in their situation.

Almost everyone of them agreed that change in City Hall is what we need. They want someone who won’t give these same old tired answers- or have to pay a consultant $60K to do what we should be able to do ourselves.

Until we stop making excuses, until we start understanding the value that we have in this community- so clearly demonstrated by the people I talked to yesterday, we’ll never attract the jobs or the investment that we want so desperately.

We have people who want to work. We have the buildings to fill with jobs. We have places for people to live inexpensively- if they only believed their investments would be safe. It’s our job to restore confidence. How that will be done by people who still can’t do anything without a committee is beyond me.

And, if what Nan says is true ““We want to get this done quickly,”” it would seem obvious to voters that she isn’t the one to do it- she’s already wasted four years on the Commission and is still depending on others to tell her what to do.

There are ways to attract investment, but giving away tax dollars that were collected to provide city services to private companies isn’t the answer. On November third, you can add one voice to the City Commission that will continue to remind the others that service to you comes first. Those people on that nice street, deserve better.

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