A million dollar shooting range?

Last week, the City Commission voted themselves a raise- and to buy a new shooting range at the Dayton Police Academy.

And I have to ask? Why is Dayton the only department that can’t accept officers trained by the State training program? Why do we continue to dedicate several officers, full time, to staff a program that may produce 20 officers every couple of years?

If we can’t run an academy full-time, and make money at it- we should seriously consider closing it down- and the same can be said of the Fire Academy.

For our million dollar investment- we could easily rent out a private range for training, and spend the rest on rec centers- which are a much better crime deterrent.

On a much lighter note (this is tongue in cheek- for those of you who think all political discourse must be serious)
If our academy is so fine- why do people fear speeding in Oakwood and Kettering and not in Dayton? Maybe we need to spend more time teaching officers to write tickets- instead of how to shoot. After all, tickets are a revenue generator- shooting subjects just starts expensive lawsuits.

It’s time to break the politician mold.

I filmed the Grassroots Greater Dayton candidate forum last night. All four County Commission candidates: Judy Dodge (D) vs. Dixie Allen (appointed incumbent, recently turned R) Chuck Curran (incumbent R) and Dan Foley (D)- and the two candidates for County Auditor: Karl Keith (incumbent D) and Seth Morgan (R).

Pardon me, but you need a score card and name tags to tell these candidates apart. Not a single hint of visionary leadership, not a sound byte to be proud of, not a word of wisdom to lead us from the problems that they could all sum up as: loss of jobs.

When asked if they supported regional government Chuck Curran and Dan Foley talked about baby steps- that they had been involved with, but no one had the guts to say- they wanted to run to make their jobs obsolete, or consolidate the oft quoted 68 jurisdictions.

All of them are nice people, don’t get me wrong. They all have good intentions and truly believe they are the right person for the job- but none was able to communicate what they would bring to our community. A lot of talk about what they’d done, some talk of about what they see as a problem- but nothing close to real, bankable, solutions.

It’s as if they all came out of the same mold- and that’s what we don’t need.

Some personal observations:

  • Chuck Curran and Dan Foley both look old beyond their years- obviously being a career politician is rough.
  • If Dixie Allen and Judy Dodge are the best the parties can come up with on short notice by the local political parties (Vicki Pegg quit mid-term, allowing the R’s to appoint the recently flip-flopped Allen to the commission- interestingly enough, Pegg gave $1000 to Democrat Dodge) our parties need serious help. Both sounded like bureaucrats.
  • Judy Dodge wins an award for bad soundbyte: “I don’t want to visit my kids every Christmas” makes her sound like the Grinch- instead of someone who is worried her kids will have to leave Dayton to find employment.
  • Seth Morgan and Karl Keith: they are running for an office that no one cares about- other than the parties who fill the office with political patronage positions (or if you like seeing your name on gas pumps). Electing Auditors, treasurers, Sheriffs and Judges is a waste of time- we should have professionals in these positions, and quit playing politics with them- listen to these two- and you know the job isn’t taken seriously.
  • Candidate “Forums” are a waste of time for candidates- unless broadcast. Not enough people care to come, and the ones that are there- are the people who already know you. Spend your time knocking on doors- going to groups of people. I learned this lesson the hard way. However, not showing up at them- doesn’t look good either.
  • Debate- real debate, or better yet, duels with pistols- just like Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton- would make things much more interesting.
  • My feelings after this: Vote Dem for Dodge and Foley if you want to see any progress our of our normally sleepy County Commission. On the auditor- it doesn’t matter who has this position- but, if you are fed up with the way things are going in Washington- the more D’s that get elected the stronger the message.

Hopefully, the forum tape will make it onto DATV or at least youtube before the election- if you want to see for yourself.

Dayton commissioners approve pay raise

Interestingly enough- Commissioner Joey Williams, voted no. Of course, he’s the one with the best full time job – as local bank president for Chase.

For Mayor McLin who works as Mayor full time, she now makes around what Commissioner Whaley made when she worked for the County Auditor before she became a commissioner.

Commissioner Lovelace has always been taken care of by the University of Dayton.

The big question is will this raise help improve the caliber of future candidates?

Dayton commissioners approve pay raise

Effective Jan. 1, the mayor’s salary will increase from $36,000 to $44,460, or 23.5 percent. City Commission salaries will go up almost 22 percent, from $30,000 to $36,580.

Disneyland – now in Dayton.

I broke down and went to “The Greene” last night. It was a Saturday night, and the place wasn’t quite hopping, but it had more action than Downtown does except when there is a show at the Schuster, Victoria and the Loft all on one night.
My friend kept muttering “sprawl”- and I kept looking for some sign that I hadn’t been transported to some other place- something that made “The Greene” uniquely Dayton. The only thing I could find was “Books and Company” – and even that is no longer a Dayton franchise and possibly the nail joint. Everything else could have been anywhere- just like the “development” on Miller Lane (with the exception of Sake- the sushi house). Even half full on the retail side, it had a vibrancy about it- from the huge graphics on the empty spaces- to the music pumped through the lampposts.
And the question kept coming up- why couldn’t this happen in Dayton- downtown?
The answer: because City hall is run by power mad despots who believe that strict enforcement of “the rules” is what is going to keep them employed- when in fact, it’s what’s going to put the city out of business.
The Greene is a mixed use complex- with space for retail, office and housing. To try to retrofit buildings in Downtown to do that is cost prohibitive, even if they were originally built that way. Take for example the beautiful buildings of the Terra Cotta district on Fifth Street between Main and Ludlow- or the entire block of E. Third between Jefferson and St. Clair- all have apartments upstairs sitting vacant- because of zoning and building code requirements that make their reuse crazy expensive.
Requirements like expensive fire suppression systems, fireproof stairwells, parking within 250 feet of the building, elevators, handicapped access, firewalls between retail and office and residential spaces the list goes on. So, if we can’t adapt them, and can’t assemble large enough parcels for redevelopment for critical mass- they just continue to decay and go underutilized.
Even tearing them down is expensive with asbestos and other required environmental abatements- leaving corn fields much more attractive to development.
Interesting enough, The Greene has 2 parking garages and some large lots in addition to the “on-street” parking. The developer realizes that his primary audience needs easy, free parking. Has the city made any kinds of moves to create a matrix of convenient parking lots? No. The Oregon District sits one block from a large, mostly underutilized parking garage (the transportation center) yet is not allowed to count that garage towards zoning requirements.
Instead of building a proper garage behind the EPA and Ned Peppers buildings, they squandered the opportunity with a surface lot.
So, instead of filling up the remaining retail spaces, we make it a constant battle for small businesses to open in our “real” version of “the Greene.”
Things like fighting the liquor permit for the Fifth Street Wine and Deli- and the above mentioned development restrictions.
If the city wants to see development like the Greene happen within the Central Business District, we need to figure out how to bend and flex the rules to expedite mixed-use development of our authentic retail/office/residential spaces instead of making it impossible. The Cannery, largely seen as a success, was delayed several years because of bureaucratic red tape- and the office component on the second floor was killed off by it.
Somehow, if we want to compete, we need to learn to dance with the developers and create opportunities to build our authentic downtown to compete with developers Disneyland- I just hope we choose something uniquely Dayton to be piped out of all the lampposts- like Guided By Voices, Zapp, the Ohio Players, Hawthorne Heights etc.
That way, we’ll never feel like we’ve been transported to Disneyland.

DDN wants to be MySpace? Same for Oregon District? Portal madness comes to Dayton

Everyone wants to launch a portal this week it seems, but the Dayton Daily News effort, www.meetFred.com is so out of character it almost gives me a belly laugh.

I haven’t turned on the TV this week, or the radio (much like many of the kids who may be the target market) – but learning about the site on the front page of the DDN as a bottom of the page banner ad means someone really isn’t thinking.

According to Cox, “Fred” stands for “Friends, relatives, events, discussion” – all the things people now do on MySpace, Facebook, Tribe, CraigsList etc. The question is why would they want to do it on the DDN sponsored site.
This may be not much more than a standard install of Drupal- haven’t had time to check the code.

The other portal, OregonDistrict.com launched officially today too. This portal is a community built around the Oregon District- an odd idea for such a small area. We’ll see how well the business owners contribute to the site- because without constant new content- it will get old quick.
And with dayton.mostmetro.com opening last week- it’s as if someone put portal potion in the water supply.

New Dayton portal site: Dayton.MostMetro.com

This just popped on the scene last week- and looks promising. I took a quick look to try to determine who is running it- and nada.

The geo-mapping functions of venues, neighborhoods, and places to do stuff looks well done.

Here is how the mystery people introduce the site:

Dayton MostMetro.com Blogs & News

Dayton MostMetro, Dayton’s newest city portal where you can see up-to-date news about urban development in Dayton, Ohio.  Check out our Districts and Neighborhoods section where you can use our custom interactive maps to explore Downtown Dayton and many of our historic neighborhoods.  We are working to bring you even more features, including Event Calendars, Home Search, Neighborhood Photo Tours and more.

Dayton.MostMetro.com is designed and developed by ResConnex, Inc. – a technology consulting company based in Dayton, OH.  The concept was born as a realization that Dayton’s citizens need to be pro-active to solve the problem of a negative city image; it is our responsibility to replace apathy and disenchantment with hope and aspiration.  As a company, we are utilizing our creativity and talents as technologists to advocate for Dayton by educating our community about the under-current of energy that defines Dayton’s urban movement.
Dayton.MostMetro.com Mission Statement:
  • To create a community portal that will Educate future Dayton metropolitan residents about events and initiatives in Dayton’s urban neighborhoods – including Downtown
  • Promote a positive self-image for citizens throughout Greater Dayton
  • Generate enthusiasm and energy with others that are working to make a positive contribution to our community
We welcome your comments and feedback – let us know your ideas. And keep checking back – we hope to have something new every day!

Example of the wrong attitude

On our way to protest, we saw yet another accident at the corner of Jefferson and Patterson. It seems every time I’ve gone through that intersection with Pam driving- we’ve seen a near miss or an actual accident.

That was at 1:15.

At 6:15 there were two lanes of broken glass in the street right in front of S&V Office Supply. I told the off-duty cop in front of the Loft about it- and asked him to call it in to dispatch for a clean up. He said the tow company was supposed to clean it up- and that he’d do something tomorrow (Monday) when the City has someone to do it.

Wrong answer.

In Kettering, Oakwood or Centerville, dispatch would call the tow company, and suggest that if it wasn’t cleaned up in half an hour, they would be losing their towing contract. This is the way it’s supposed to work. When I was in High School, my best friend drove a tow truck under a City of Cleveland Heights contract- and believe me, I remember the cops telling us where to sweep.

Glass in the street is the ultimate “broken window” example that gives people a bad impression. If we had real leadership, this wouldn’t happen.

A long time ago, a Mayor of Baltimore asked for residents to tell him where the pot holes were. It was the right kind of start. Take care of the small things, and the big things don’t seem so insurmountable.

Even the French get banning smoking in public-

I’ve been to Paris, and one would assume the whole country smokes. The stereotypical French “artiste” – with his beret and his Gauloise is soon to be replaced with , well, just a beret.

In places in the USA that have banned smoking in bars and restaurants, business has gone up, not down. The myth that smoking and drinking has to go together, is just a myth- and the idea that you have to light a cigarette on stage to let the audience know the character is “smoking” is just as passé.

If the French can ban smoking- it should be able to happen in Ohio. Remember to vote NO on issue 4 and YES on Issue 5 for a Smoke Free Ohio.

France to impose smoking ban from next year | Health | Reuters.com

PARIS (Reuters) – France said on Sunday it will ban smoking in most public places from next February and in bars, restaurants, hotels and night clubs 11 months later.”We have decided to ban smoking in public places from February 1, 2007,” Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin told RTL radio and LCI television…

Public places include stations, museums, government offices and shops but the ban will not extend to the streets or private places such as houses or hotel rooms.

…In the report, the parliamentarians said each year between 2,500 and 5,800 people died of the consequences of passive smoking, inhaling the smoke of smokers.

Around a quarter of the adult population smokes in France and some 66,000 smokers die each year.

Polls regularly show that a majority of French people support a ban on smoking in public places…

Ireland imposed the world’s first nationwide public smoking ban in 2004. Italy, Sweden, Scotland, Norway and Spain have followed suit to varying degrees.

Belgium, Britain, Northern Ireland and Portugal are expected to put new tighter rules in place next year.

Issue 3: Gamble and burn.

It’s bad enough that Issue 3 is a scam to hand over all gambling licenses to racetrack owners in Ohio- as opposed to just handing the rights over to Indian tribes, instead of taking a logical look at how and where gambling should be legal- but- their ads on tv and print- with minimal mention of slot machines- are so misleading it’s embarrassing .

“Vote Yes for Ohio’s kids. Paid College tuition for every Ohio Child” is total bull.

This is a ballot issue to allow Racetrack owners an unfettered monopoly on slot machines- the lowest odd gambling game in a casino.

This isn’t about bringing true competition to the Indiana floating casinos- or giving dying center cities a tool to bring a new draw to downtown- it’s about a handout.

Vote no on Issue 3. Spit at the television every time you see one of these deceptive ads. Line birdcages with the print ads- then put them in an envelope and send them to the racetrack owners.

If this isn’t proof that our political and election system has been corrupted by money – I don’t know what is.