Visions for Dayton for the new year

This isn’t a comprehensive list- just some ideas- you are welcome to add to them.

The debate over one way street conversion in Downtown stops- when someone realizes there is no longer any good reason to still be downtown. All of a sudden- the landlords decide to stop paying taxes on their property to “the Downtown Dayton Partnership” and start working to create a vibrant environment- through whatever means necessary. Zoning and building codes get revised making it easy to use existing spaces for what they were originally built for- without having to meet modern code. All of a sudden- huge interest in re-habbing old residential spaces- and retail space sparks a quick renaissance (partially driven by bargain basement rents). All parking lot owners band together for a standardized signage and price structure -dedicating a percentage of every lot for in-and-out traffic for $1 for 3 hours or less. Also- a one park pass comes out- where you can buy parking in any lot for a discounted rate- and special event parking gouging stops.

First steps to uni-gov. After a quick combination of 911 dispatch services- a second attempt at a consolidated SWAT team takes place- only this time- the cowboys aren’t allowed to run the show- it’s headed by the local office of the FBI and a new level of professionalism is shown. Also, all courts begin hiring private security instead of requiring police officers, allowing more cops to be on the streets. A unified traffic division that patrols the entire county works on reducing speeding the way Kettering and Oakwood have- to the whole region.

MVRPC gets disbanded as an unwieldy bureaucracy, as well as every municipalities Economic Development office- and the County actually takes some responsibility for something and starts looking at a unified land use and zoning plan. Citywide and Countywide are merged- and given a private charter- and cut loose from any direct tax dollar funding. A new focus on Community lending is pushed on the local banks by having all local governments insist on linked deposit deals.

As a sign of true regional thinking- and to reduce pressure on small business- Montgomery County also takes over all income tax billing with a simple web interface tied to each business tax ID. A group of local legislators lobbies the State to adopt a similar system.

Sinclair Community College faces its first problem renewing a tax levy- until it changes direction on Warren County. When President Stephen Johnson apologizes to the community for over-reaching, and starts concentrating on how to provide a 2 year degree to every student who graduates HS in Montgomery County for free- as part of the Dayton Promise, he gets an even bigger tax levy approved.

Dayton says thank you very much- but no thanks to Mandalay plans for Ballpark Village on parkland with tax dollar support. Offers sites on the near West Side for Development- including the area just West and North of UD arena. Plans for a new ice rink downtown as part of SportsPlex are announced – with plans for an extreme sports complex, a revamping of Island Park as a Fraze like venue- and the completion of the Kroc center.

The light rail plan gathers steam, and the first track is put in place to begin the return of circulator routes for public transport downtown.

The Dayton Daily News and local TV stop being the source of news in the community- when a local web site starts doing a better job- and advertisers flock to it. It only accepts advertising from locally owned businesses- and a new “keep Dayton special” campaign jump starts a movement of people who refuse to eat and shop at generic businesses from out of state. The Oregon District reaches 100% business occupancy- and some new buildings are built to fill in the gaps- because of the change in zoning laws.

A new interest in local politics emerges thanks to all the progressive ideas taking place- and limits are placed on all local campaigns. You can’t spend more on your campaign than the job pays in a year. All of a sudden- real debates start taking place- and the smartest people for the jobs actually win.

Dayton Public Schools changes their message from one of weakness – to one of accomplishment. With the Dayton Promise in place- students start to take pride in being part of a progressive district. Test scores increase- and discipline problems decrease. Instead of having 6 high school teams in each sport- we only compete with one- and beat every other school in the state in everything. From track to hoop to football. Other cities cry foul- and the State immediately looks to turning the whole state into a state of Champions with an organized athletic training program for every sport. The Buckeyes of course win the national championship this year- but the foundation is built for us to win every year into eternity.
This was written fast and furious- blast away- or add your own ideas.

We need some resolutions for the area- to stop doing the same thing and expecting a different outcome. It’s time.

Death tolls

Typically, I keep this focused on Dayton- and local issues.

However, today the US death toll in Iraq officially went over the number killed on 9/11.

To the people of the US- and our idiot president: we won the war. We attacked Iraq, we decimated its military, we captured their leader, we forced a new government. We won.

It’s time to leave Iraq. Pull back to Kuwait and other staging areas- and let them fight amongst themselves- or get ready for to take us on again- when we get tired of the loud mouthed idiots who are fueled by a united hatred of us as occupiers. Sooner or later, the Iraqi people will either kill themselves off- or realize that unless they get their act together on their own- they are in for a routine, old fashioned ass kicking every few years when we feel like it.

There is no point in staying inside Iraq. The battle for hearts and minds can’t be won by us as invaders. They must find their own equilibrium and leadership- without our help. Although this sounds cold- we could circle the troops in one area- and provide a safe zone for those who want to live in peace- in an under populated area- and let the rest work itself out.

If our country was invaded, do you honestly think that every Jim-Bob and Billy-Ray wouldn’t be taking pot shots at the occupiers? I know I would. This “mission” is impossible. It’s time to declare military victory- and leave Iraq to sort its own problems out.

To those who lost their lives on 9/11- you have been “avenged” 10 plus fold.

To those brave soldiers who have given their lives- you are an example of what makes our country great. All of you wanted to bring peace and justice to Iraq- it’s our leadership that failed you.

Peace in the Middle East will never come over the barrel of a gun, car bomb, or oil. Where is their Ghandi?

Does this mean no Wal-Mart in Ballpark Village?

Yesterday, the Dayton City Commission got engaged in a sideshow stunt- taunting Wal-Mart with a pointless informal resolution.

Of course, when Wal-Mart wants to actually build something inside the city, they will be the kings of sucking up.

It’s this kind of loss of focus on local issues that has got us where we are.

While Dean Lovelace is (abd has been) right about predatory lending, and a living wage, the place to fight these battles is at the State and Federal levels. Same went for the much-ado about what ended up being nothing with Tony Capizzi’s gun ordinances- a sideshow distraction from the business at hand.

Dayton has problems that can be solved by the Commission and City Staff- like parking downtown, zoning issues in the Oregon District that make historic buildings decay, and even simple things- like figuring out how to collect leaves better by notifying residents where not to park on pick up day.

Wasting time on fighting with Wal-Mart isn’t going to help. Focus on what we can do something about- now.

Dayton commission urges Wal-Mart to value workers
DAYTON — The Dayton City Commission sent a message to Wal-Mart on Wednesday, calling on the nation’s biggest discount chain to treat its employees fairly and with dignity.

Supporters claim the commission’s resolution is the first of its kind in the nation.

Sinclair loses focus- and costs go up.

Funded by Montgomery County taxpayers- Sinclair Community College is one of our greatest competitive advantage resources. Unfortunately, since President Steven Johnson took over, it’s as if the college caught the sprawl bug.

Remote classrooms in YMCA’s, expansion into Greene and Warren Counties- it seems as if there are no limits to what the school thinks it can do.

Then reality hits. This all costs money. In today’s Dayton Daily News, the groundwork is being laid to ask tax payers for more money- when what might be really needed is restraint and a refocusing.

Management consulting guru, Tom Peters, said it best in In Search of Excellence, stick to the knitting- providing an amazing education at low cost for Montgomery County residents. Sinclair is a great resource for Montgomery County- and we pay for it. Before anymore talk of building a new campus in Warren County for Sinclair comes forward- let Warren pass a tax levy to pay for it.

Below is an excerpt from the Dayton Daily News:

Sinclair looks for cuts to align income, costs
“We’re spending about $5 million a year more than we can afford,” President Steven Johnson said Wednesday. “It cannot be business as usual around here.”
Sinclair’s expenses in 2006 oustripped revenue by $6.3 million, according to a draft report of a state audit completed in October.

In 2005, Sinclair began tapping about $2.5 million from its Tuition Stabilization Fund — a practice it can sustain for about five years if things were left unchanged, Johnson said.

• Raise enrollment by thousands of students next year, to increase revenue from tuition.• Ask Montgomery County taxpayers for a higher levy in 2008.

State lawmakers making it tough for Dayton Public Schools

Dayton Public Schools should be the central character in a Rocky type movie- beaten, down, given no chance of survival, they’ve been fighting their way back to legitimacy over the last four years. The school board, the Superintendent and a bunch of very hard working, underpaid and devoted teachers are taking on challenges of poverty, a transient student body, a slow transition to new facilities and toughest of all- challenges from Charter schools that don’t have to meet the same standards- but are allowed to siphon away funds.

Now, our State Legislature in its infinite wisdom- has decided to allow students from more schools to take $5,900 with them if they attend a private school. The State has also stepped in and decided that public schools MUST sell publicly owned school buildings to a charter school if they are unused. Can you imagine this happening to a private business? Would GM be forced to sell shuttered plants to Toyota if they weren’t going to use them?

If the playing field was level- and charter and private schools had to meet the same standards as public schools this wouldn’t be so repulsive, but, if charter and private schools were also forced to integrate, accept all students regardless of race, economic condition, disability- then it might be fair.

Dayton Public Schools have been discriminated against by lawmakers since forced school busing began the economic segregation of our community- now they are facing yet another law that will put them at a competitive disadvantage as they are making their comeback run. The public officials need to stop these attacks on our public education system now. If they don’t, we may no longer have one in Dayton left to kick around.

“Yo, Adrian” – anyone listening?

More schools become eligible for voucher program under new bill
Students may move if school has been on academic watch for two years, not three.

By Anthony Gottschlich
Staff Writer
Wednesday, December 20, 2006

COLUMBUS — — State lawmakers passed a bill Tuesday that more than doubles the number of school buildings eligible for state-funded vouchers, the system that pays for students in troubled public schools to attend private schools.

Public school leaders immediately criticized the bill.
“We’re looking at working with declining funds for public education in the state,” Dayton Superintendent Percy Mack said. “Taxpayers are paying for traditional public schools, charter schools and now they’re funding private schools.”

If signed by Gov. Bob Taft, 14 Dayton schools would be eligible for vouchers next year, up from seven today.

Vouchers allow students at consistently low-performing schools to use up to $5,900 in state money for private school tuition.

House Bill 79 loosens the restrictions on which school buildings are eligible for vouchers. Currently, the program is for students attending buildings that have been in “academic watch” or “academic emergency,” the lowest of the state’s school report card ratings, for three straight years. The new standard reduces that standard to two of the past three years.

State Rep. Tom Raga, R-Mason, said the bill extends the opportunity for more students to “move out of underperforming school districts.”

Asked if the bill was passed now to head off opposition from Democratic Gov.-elect Ted Strickland, who takes office in January, Raga responded: “To me, it’s pro-education, not in relation to any future elected official.”

The bill passed 71-21 in the House and 21-12 in the Senate after a joint conference committee approved the bill in some last-minute maneuvering Monday night.

The bill originally was written to strengthen criminal background checks for teachers and reporting requirements of teacher misconduct. Besides the voucher component, it also picked up amendments that Republicans say improve charter school accountability, such as:

• Requiring chronically poor performing schools to close.

• Prohibiting charter school board members from serving on more than two boards at a time.

• Requiring that public districts sell a building to a charter school if it has not been used for a year and there is no plan to use it for the next three years.

• Ordering the Partnership for Continued Learning, a panel of state officials and appointees, to assess how charter schools are managed and how they affect public and private schools in Ohio.

Taft is pleased with the charter school components but will take a closer look at the bill before deciding to sign it, spokesman Mark Rickel said.

Which schools are eligible?

Dayton Public schools eligible for the voucher program next year under the bill:

Dayton: Allen, Belle Haven, Cornell Heights, Edison, Fairview, Kiser, Meadowdale, Orville Wright and Van Cleve at McGuffey elementary schools; Wilbur Wright Middle School; Belmont, Colonel White Performing Arts, Dunbar and Meadowdale high schools

Other Voices: Plays smoking scene wasnt necessary

Today, the Dayton Daily News ran my fellow protester’s piece on our protest- of course they ran it on a Monday- one of their low circulation days.

It’s already got one of their “Most Popular” links attached- and while this issue is important- what’s become more important is our State Government’s lame “we’re not enforcing the law for 6 months stance” on issue 5.

Would they do that with the minimum wage law? No.

Would they do that with the drinking age? Or a speed limit? No.

It’s quite simple- more than 10 e-mails about a drinking establishment- you send a police officer in to verify that their are ashtrays or smoking inside- and, a one week closure with suspension of your liquor license- starting today.

In fact, there is a hearing in Columbus today- on the smoking ban enforcementfrom 10 am to 3 pm at the Ohio Department of Health, 246 N. High St. Eighth Floor Conference room- unfortunately, I have to work and there is no listed way to provide input over the Internet.

Pam’s piece is a step in the right direction- as were many of the speak up comments. At some point the State needs to wake up and realize that laws only mean something if enforced.

Other Voices: Plays smoking scene wasnt necessary
COMMENTARY
Other Voices: Plays smoking scene wasnt necessary

By Pam Strohmeyer

Monday, December 18, 2006

In October, the Human Race Theatres production of Moonlight & Magnolias included a totally gratuitous smoking scene at the end. It added nothing to the play, and it wasnt important to the plot. All it did was glamorize smoking.

When asked why — since many people are sensitive to smoke — Human Race Theatre Company artistic director Marsha Hanna defended the scene on the grounds of artistic freedom. Several alternatives were suggested that would have accomplished the same dramatic effect. She rejected all of them, possibly because she has a history of smoking herself.
I was one of a small group of people, organized by David Esrati, who took advantage of the timeliness of the production of Moonlight & Magnolias to raise awareness for Smoke-Free Ohio. We stood outside before each performance in a peaceful and good-natured protest. We handed out anti-smoking propaganda aimed at Hannas decision, and reminded people to vote no on Issue 4 and yes on Issue 5.

This wasnt a boycott. In fact, we told people that it was a great show, except for the smoking part. If anything, we generated extra publicity for the play. Our goal was just to create some social pressure to show smokers that lighting up in public places is not acceptable.

Apparently, some people still disagree. In the article “Smoke Free Workplace Act filters down to the way indoor theater will be presented,” Dec. 3, Hanna asserts that it will take time for audiences to “accept this convention without laughing.”

Thats ridiculous. If members of the audience couldnt use their imaginations and suspend disbelief, theater wouldnt even exist. Does Hanna think that each time a boy stepped onstage at the Globe as Juliet, the audience was too busy laughing to listen to the balcony scene? Please.

To make the article more balanced, the Dayton Daily News might have mentioned that this debate was going on in our community even before the election. The writer also might have sought opinions from both sides.

Instead of offering all perspectives on this issue, the article read like a nostalgia piece for the good old days when actors could smoke onstage, unhindered by pesky laws.

The DDN article mentioned several film icons who smoked on screen and in real life. But you neglected to mention that Humphrey Bogart died of esophageal cancer, Sammy Davis Jr. died of throat cancer, and Dean Martin died of respiratory failure caused by emphysema and lung cancer. Smoking is known to cause all of these diseases.

Since these film legends smoked when the script called for it, can we say they died for their art? Hardly. Their deaths werent that noble or purposeful; they simply died from their addiction to tobacco. And who knows how many nonsmokers they killed with their secondhand smoke.

Creative license and freedom of speech are important, but your right to swing your fist ends where my nose begins. Theater-goers who pay $35 to see a play have a right not to be assaulted by secondhand smoke.

Pam Strohmeyer is a registered nurse who works as a clinical research coordinator at a local hospital.

She lives in Miamisburg.

Dublin Pub; Dayton Ohio’s Authentic lawbreakers

I went to the Dublin Pub tonight- looking forward to being able to eat indoors, normally, due to the smoke, I can only eat on their patio. I see the no smoking sign posted in the window- but inside people are smoking- and there are ashtrays on the bar- and the tables.

I went to the bartender and said “I was looking forward to eating here without the smoke- I don’t appreciate your breaking the law”- and left after getting “two thumbs up” from the bar tender.

Not only will I no longer eat at the Pub- I would advise others not to.

I called the 800 number- and sent an e-mail to the violation reporting address: [email protected]

If the Ohio Department of Health wants to see instant enforcement- the simple answer it to pull the liquor license from establishments that can’t follow the law.

That will work better than fines.

Frankly, I like the pubs food- but, if this is the way the owners want to treat the laws of our state- maybe they should go to Ireland- they can’t smoke in bars either.

Ireland became the first country in Europe on Monday (March 2004) to impose an outright ban on smoking in workplaces.That would be a true “Authentic Irish Pub.”

Smoking in the Theater- Terry Morris uses Esrati.com as a crib sheet.

Today’s DDN has a long (by their new “McNews” format) about the smoking ban- and its application to theater productions. It’s the same issue we protested outside Moonlight and Magnolias- see “Join my crusade! Smoke Free Theater in Dayton“, and DDN theater critic Terry Morris interviews Marsha Hanna.

Considering Pam Strohmeyer and I protested this issue outside every single production on this same issue- and that I thoroughly addressed the issue on this blog, and that I cited both case of the Irish actor playing Churchill and the cases in Denver that he mentions- I was surprised that there was no mention made of this blog, our protest or what we suggested.

More so- Marsha Hanna, Director of the Human Race Theater Company- still doesn’t seem to get that audiences aren’t so stupid as to be able to imagine that an unlit cigarette works just as well as a lit one as a prop. They don’t drink real booze on stage, they don’t use real guns, and if they use prop guns- it’s not real blood either. It’s simple enough to hold a cigarette in your hand- and pretend to smoke- we, the audience, get it.

Smoke- from tobacco, herbs, or anything else- including cars- is bad for our health. It does not belong indoors at anytime. Marsha Hanna needs to get over her filthy self-destructive habit- and Terry Morris needs to cite his sources and give credit where credit is due.

This is a serious issue, and Ms. Hanna deserves a legitimate spanking in public for her continued whining about her support of smoke inside a theater.

On one other note: The Dublin Pub’s owner, Ray Dixon’s continued whining about the voters choice to go smoke free, is making me less want to patronize his establishment after the new law takes effect. Stop being a whiner Ray. More people don’t smoke, don’t want to stink, don’t want to die from other peoples foul habit- including your employees.

Smoke free will be here Thursday- rejoice!

Ballpark village- an episode of “Desperate Cities”

I believe that the fastest way to success is to build on strengths. Find the stuff that’s good, easy, strong- and build on it. So, when I say the proposed “Ballpark Village” is a mistake- some of you are going to scratch your heads and quickly say “Esrati is an idiot.”

So- let me explain: Regionally, our population isn’t growing. We’re overbuilt in retail. Dayton, the city proper, has many vacant homes and lots available. Dayton proper, and the region to a lesser degree, has a sever inferiority complex and poor self-esteem. So when the owners of the Dayton Dragons, one of our few “success stories” comes in and says we want to build a $230 million dollar project- to surround and enhance our existing successful development (also paid for by taxpayers) with a lot of public money, somehow we forget all the other issues and jump on the bandwagon without considering any of the other factors. We’re “building on success.”

This is the same strategy the driving forces of the Schuster Center used- Mrs. Kettering, Mr. Danis and Mead wanted something nice on the corner across from their real estate, and convinced the people that the old Lazurus, Shillito Rikes, etc building must be torn down and the gleaming Schuster Center was built- to their benefit- not to ours. Note: had the Schuster Center been built in close proximity to the Convention Center and the Oregon District- we wouldn’t be losing restaurants for lack of business downtown, and we would have had an additional venue for Conventions- with a large hall for speakers. Had we also built 5/3rd Field at Fifth and Wayne- we would have had even more customers to support our only true “entertainment district” in the city.

So- why should Ballpark Village not get your support? Because we don’t need townhouses on Deed’s point or a Walmart on Parkside homes location. Nor do we need to tear down 3 functioning buildings to replace them with something else. Requarth lumber and Woolpert’s building are both fine buildings- as are Mendelsons old Delco factories- which could all be used and adapted to do the same thing: housing upstairs, retail downstairs, office space in-between on the 2nd and 3rd floors. We could add a “New Urbanist” parking garage with retail and entertainment on the first floor- and Rooftop “sky bars” etc. The Dayton Public Schools could keep their plan of building a new Central Montessori School by the river for the downtown residents who currently fight to get into E. J. Brown- and last but not least, we could add things downtown that don’t exist- anywhere else in the area that make sense and bring people into the core city- not just locally- but nationally.

This comes back to my Sportsplex proposal for the Parkside location, building on the “strength” of Kettering Fields as a destination for national and international softball tournaments, building on the strengths of our bike paths- with a Velodrome- and tying in with the new Kroc/Salvation Army basketball center.

We could also build a ice arena near the Ballpark- to give businesses that depend on ballpark traffic a balancing venue for the Winter months. Bring the Bombers downtown, as well as provide a Class A venue for the Silversticks tournament and the Lefty McFadden tourney. Instead of building a lame covered outdoor rink on Riverscape- we could have a real facility- that provides a facility that can be used by the community- 24/7 unlike the ballpark.

Yes, I’m biased because I play hockey, and occasionally work for the Bombers- full disclosure, but it’s always been my position that tax dollars should be used to build things that benefit the taxpayer- giving them amenities that the private sector can’t do on their own- or at least as well. We don’t need more retail, or townhouses that benefit a group of carpet baggers from California (Mandalay Entertainment/Development) as much as we need resources for our community to feel good about and utilize year round, which a Sportsplex would do.

I do believe that Mandalay has been a strong addition to our community, and believe they should be given some support- but, I believe the way to do that is to provide for heavy incentives to redevelop what we have- instead of replace. If we could work together to examine other options – instead of blindly running after the dangling carrot of “development” we may be able to create something bigger and better than Mandalay’s plan- so we don’t have the debacle of Schuster’s and the ballparks misplacement happening again.

What do you think?

(and I’m sure that saying “Esrati is still an idiot” is going to come up)