Commissioner Whaley needs lessons in PR

It’s bad enough the Dayton Daily News chooses to sensationalize the region’s population shifts as if there were a mass exodus going on and the last person leaving Dayton should turn out the lights- but, when our youngest commissioner opens her mouth and says “we have to accept it”- we may as well just start putting things in mothballs.

We don’t have to accept this, Commissioner Whaley- we have to have a vision to turn things around. That is your primary job- and if you aren’t capable of doing it, step down.

Residents leaving Dayton in droves
Detroit, Cleveland, Pittsburgh and Flint, Mich., lost more population than Dayton.

Dayton City Commissioner Nan Whaley said the continued decline has forced some tough choices on the city, including the elimination of 500 positions since 2001.

“The first thing is you have to accept it,” Whaley said of the city’s shrinkage. “I think the city is trying to adjust and provide the best services for its citizens. And making sure its citizens feel comfortable in the city.

“Eventually I think it will turn and level out,” she said.

The proper response is that unless we start working to stop turning cornfields into housing plats, center cities will continue to have problems with population drops until the region starts to grow. When builders are building homes faster than our population is growing- there will be shifts- and, btw, did you notice that Oakwood lost more population than Dayton?

Too bad we elect people to the Commission who are too busy working on their Master’s degree and wedding plans to put the energy into turning around out city. Maybe it’s time for Ms. Whaley to go back to her patronage job in the County, where she can’t say stupid things like “we have to accept it.”

Sorry, Nan- we need better representation than that.

Dayton Daily News loses subscribers in droves.

Today’s front page headline really bugged me. “Residents leaving Dayton in droves” was total bullshit. What the hell is a “drove” anyway? Define it? What’s a “big crowd”?

Everything is relative. In case you haven’t been paying attention- Beavercreek and Springboro can’t keep up with their population growth- with school overcrowding becoming a huge problem. Like it or not, those suburbs are part of “Dayton”- and what we have is population shifts- according to our silly, old-fashioned and provincial multitude of jurisdictions. In fact Oakwood lost more people by percentage than Dayton – even with their amazing schools! But that wasn’t the headline, was it?

Dayton, suburbs among population losers
Eighteen cities with a population of more than 5,000 in the eight-county region have lost residents so far this decade, while 19 cities have gained.
And although Dayton lost 5.7 percent of its population from 2000 through July 1, 2006, Oakwood topped that figure.

So, in their continuing efforts to make Dayton a ghost town, the Dayton Daily News fudged the figures a bit in an effort to “sell papers.”

Here is a dirty little secret about the Dayton Daily News- for the last three years, I’ve been paying about $2 a week for the rag. That’s right, half of what their big ad campaign says. I let my 20+ year annual subscription lapse- and they called and offered it at half price to keep their circulation numbers up. And, so, I’m still a subscriber. Place a bet, anyone who wants the newspaper for $2 a week could probably get it- because they are losing subscribers in droves. Big droves.

Maybe it’s because they like sensationalizing things that really aren’t news- like people are shifting around the area due to the natural progression of sprawl- not because of anything the City of Dayton did wrong- but because of lack of foresight of the region of Dayton. Had we shifted to Unigov, and made our city limits extend to the full metropolitan area- we wouldn’t have a population loss at all- in fact, we’d have growth.

Too bad the Dayton Daily News can’t say that about their subscriber base.

Dayton as a sport tourism mecca?

There was nothing in the Dayton Daily News today- amazing, since all three county commissioners were in attendance, the county director of economic development, the head of the Montgomery County Convention and Visitors Bureau- the list goes on. (I know, I was there doing something positive- so they would never breathe a word!).

So- here are the notes and the rankings of ideas generated by this group (dots are votes- each person was allowed X number of dots based on the number of ideas). Some ideas don’t make as much sense in this abbreviated format- some seem like duplication- but it’s a way to get a lot done in a few hours (it’s called Compression Planning).

Here are the notes (it was a public meeting- this is public info- and ideas should be shared – and work better that way)
Topic: Attracting more & larger youth/amateur competitions (and active lifestyle visitors) to our Region

Background

Youth/amateur competitions help fill hotels, restaurants and stores

  • Our Region already has some very successful annual events (soccer, winter guard, etc.)
  • Other communities have developed a strong reputation around these type events e.g.: Indy
  • Most Counties already have mechanisms in place to try to attract these events
  • Some regions have even formed “youth sports authorities”
  • These authorities act like one-stop shops for event planners/families

Overall Project Purpose

  • To increase the number of visitors attracted by youth/amateur competitions (and active lifestyle visitors) by 20% by 10 Continue reading

Taxation ala carte?

I don’t have kids in public school, but I pay a school levy.

I pay for the police, the fire department and other services because I’ve always thought that there was an economy of scale in doing so.

I pay for things I don’t use- and that’s ok.

But, now, Walnut Hills residents are talking about taxing themselves- for their own purposes- which is fine, but, is this a slippery slope to taxation ala carte?

They want the snow plowed in their alleys- I just want my snow plowed in my street. Do we have to set up extra taxes for services that we should already get?

Property owner pushes for special district plan
…a Special Improvement (tax) District — to some 2,500 property owners in Walnut Hills. Leitzell is president of the Walnut Hills Association and a member of Dayton’s Southeast Priority Board.

In a SID, property owners must agree to pay an assessment, in this case a flat $50 a year per building fee to generate $100,000 a year.

The Walnut Hills Special Improvement District would be bordered by Wyoming Street to the North, Pursell Avenue to the east, E. Stewart Street to the south and Woodland Cemetery to the west.

The Walnut Hills SID is being modeled loosely after the one established by the Downtown Dayton Partnership for the city’s central business district. That improvement district became effective in 1996 and must be approved every five years…

…In order for the assessment to be imposed, 60 percent of the property owners in the neighborhood must agree to pay the tax. Property owners also must agree, in general, on how the money would be used. Approval is sought by having property owners sign a petition.

The neighborhood must make a formal request to city staff to create the SID, then the City Commission has final say.

“We’re open to the conversation. It really does take a super majority of property owners with a shared vision,” John Gower, Dayton’s director of planning and community development said…

…The Walnut Hills Association plans to create a packet that other neighborhoods can use as a guide, if they also want to pursue a SID.

“Once done, other neighborhoods in Dayton and across Ohio may follow our lead,” Leitzell said.

Why don’t we just put a meter on every firetruck and bill the people having a fire? Or, only tax people who have kids for schools? Because it doesn’t work.

SID’s are a way to make sure you serve the “what’s in it for me” crowd- but very little is achieved when it comes to the big picture.

Wouldn’t it be better if the city just provided a better level of service?

What do you think?

Limbo’s – another tear down paradise to put up a parking lot story.

First Seattle East- then the possibility of losing the Flying Pizza, and now Limbo’s- all to provide storage for cars for Care Source.

Downtown eatery to close – Dayton Business Journal:
Downtown Dayton bar and restaurant Limbos is closing to make room for a right of way for CareSource Management Groups parking garage.

The 20-year-old restaurants last day of operations will be July 3, said a woman who answered the phone at Limbos.

The woman, who did not disclose her name, said she is a member of the family that owns the restaurant.

The city of Dayton is purchasing Limbos and plans to demolish it, she said. The deal is set to close this week.

Now, imagine if we rewarded companies for hiring employees that lived within walking distance of their company? Or, if we provided FREE public transit to employees in the City Center? Or made parking for motorcycles and scooters free? How many more people could we get into downtown without having to waste space on storing parked cars?

Building more garages isn’t the answer- but, it’s great for construction companies and city economic development directors who measure progress by the number of cranes on a skyline.

Once we have all these new garages, everyone will have to get in the cars to drive to eat at this rate. There won’t be any restaurants left.

Here comes the Dayton Sports Czar – and Sportsplex too?

I was lucky enough to have County Commissioner Dan Foley buy me (and about 29 other people) lunch today- to discuss what we can do to build Dayton into a Sport Tourism Destination.

Bob Steinbach from MVRPC was the facilitator (I am starting to think he’s the only one in town doing this- he’s at EVERYTHING I go to).

So- the quick download: Ideas have been generated, ranked and a timeline put in place. Top of the list:

  • A central sports authority.
  • Expand the role of the MCCVB (that’s the Montgomery County Convention and Visitors Bureau)
  • Look at SportsPlex at the Parkside Home site as a central facility – with tournament capabilities.
  • Figure out a way to pay for all this- and track the results.

Still not quite my idea of building on internal strengths and social capital- but, one should feed the other.

Look for something on CH 2 news tonight- and maybe in the Dayton Daily News.

There are still a lot of things on the table. Just being a central location, having cheap accommodations and  friendly people isn’t enough to bring a ton of business- but at least we’re looking forward instead of back.

Nicest thing that’s been said to me in Dayton in years: “It’s always great to have David in a meeting, it makes it so much more interesting.” Thanks Karen Wampler!

I guess I didn’t help myself with my introduction- where we were supposed to state our name, who we were with and what our connection to youth sports was. My answer: David Esrati, The Next Wave, Instigator.

The official report on the meeting will be out in 30 days- hopefully, we’ll also get a list of everyone who was there- and see some real momentum on this.

Time to learn something-

You’ve been reading this site forever-

you don’t comment-

you think you have to come here via your bookmark- everyday to see if something is new (you haven’t discovered the joy of RSS yet)

and- you feel like your kids know more about the Internet than you do.

Well- Wednesday June 27 is your lucky day- you can come to the websitetology seminar all day for $79 and learn everything you need to know to run a site- or just come in the morning for $49, to learn how the Internet works- and how to make it work for you.

Click here to sign up:  http://websitetology.com/?page_id=7

And- you can always throw stones at the teacher (me).

Are you a locavore?

I’m glad the Dayton Independent Restaurants are working together (finally) to market themselves- it’s a great start. But, it’s more than just restaurants we should be considering- it’s everything from produce to pet food- buying local keeps money in our market.

Advertising Age – Farmstands Vs. Big Brands
In San Francisco, Jennifer Maiser, who with three friends coined the term “locavore,” runs a blog at eatlocalchallenge.com, where consumers sign up for annual month-long challenges. In August 2005 it drew just 500 participants, but that number grew to 800 in May 2006. Ms. Maiser expects 2,000 for September’s challenge.
This cooperative spirit is vastly different from the cage-rattling style of a group like, say, WakeUpWalMart.com, according to Ms. Bartz. “We’re kind of giving up on changing big business and instead are focused on taking the business away from it.”

Proving its worth
The movement points to several studies to try to prove it can make a big impact on a local economy. A favorite stat: Every $100 spent at a local firm leaves $68 in the Chicago economy, compared with just $43 when $100 is spent at a chain store, according to the Andersonville Study of Retail Economics, published in October 2004. The study also found that for every square foot occupied by a local store, the economic impact topped $170, compared with $105 for a chain store.

So is there any defense for big brands against a mainstream shift toward “local”? Yes and no, according to Michael Shuman, author of “The Small-Mart Revolution: How Local Businesses are Beating the Global Competition.”

“Going local is becoming a very important advertising hook,” he said, noting that many nonlocal marketers are trying to take advantage of the appeal the concept has with consumers. For instance, HSBC uses the tagline “The World’s Local Bank.” Mr. Shuman said the buy-local trend is vastly different from the “Made in America” efforts of the past. “That is more of a protectionist mantra and doesn’t achieve the goals of localization,” he said.

The article has examples of local grocers featuring local farmers- and this is in Columbus OH- not San Francisco.

While we’re still busy letting developers turn our farmland into McMansionville- we’re heading for a long term problem when our larger infrastructure can’t be supported by our population- and when the cost of shipping food becomes hyper expensive due to our reliance on gasoline.

We are overdue to draw that no-more-growth circle for services- like Portland OR did years ago- but, our politicians are all bought and paid for by developers and sprawl proponents- hopefully, you can all do your part by making an effort to support local businesses with your heart and wallet.

Real infrastructure for the future- hydro power

In case you wonder, I’ve been busy lately speaking in other cities about the future of the web and advertising- plus, short-handed at the office. It’s put me behind on my reading of Wired magazine- which I highly recommend.

So, while our “leadership” is talking about merged 911 centers, and the silly “ballpark village” as the end all and be all of “economic development”- here is what we should be looking at for capital projects in the near future: cheap hydro-electric power micro plants built into the low damn rebuilds and a possible white water park.

Why, well this article shares one of the main issues of the server farms needed for cloud/petabyte computing that the whole Internet economy is dependent on:

Wired 14.10: The Information Factories
If it’s necessary to waste memory and bandwidth to dominate the petascale era, gorging on energy is an inescapable cost of doing business. Ask.com operations VP Dayne Sampson estimates that the five leading search companies together have some 2 million servers, each shedding 300 watts of heat annually, a total of 600 megawatts. These are linked to hard drives that dissipate perhaps another gigawatt. Fifty percent again as much power is required to cool this searing heat, for a total of 2.4 gigawatts. With a third of the incoming power already lost to the grid’s inefficiencies, and half of what’s left lost to power supplies, transformers, and converters, the total of electricity consumed by major search engines in 2006 approaches 5 gigawatts.

That’s an impressive quantity of electricity. Five gigawatts is almost enough to power the Las Vegas metropolitan area – with all its hotels, casinos, restaurants, and convention centers – on the hottest day of the year. So the annual operation of the world’s petascale search machines constitutes a Vegas-sized power sump. In the next year or so, it could add a dog-day Atlantic City. Air-conditioning will be the prime cost and conundrum of the petascale era. As energy analysts Peter Huber and Mark Mills projected in 1999, the planetary machine is on track to be consuming half of all the world’s output of electricity by the end of this decade.

Google’s Hölzle noticed the high electric bills after taking his post in 1999. At 15 cents per kilowatt-hour, power dominated his calculus of costs. “A power company could give away PCs and make a substantial profit selling power,” he says. (At The Dalles, the huge protuberances on top are not giant disk drives, climbing to the rooftop for a smoke while the RAM below does the work, but an array of eight hulking cooling towers.)

The struggle to find an adequate supply of electricity explains the curious emptiness that afflicts some 30 percent of Ask.com’s square footage. Why is the second-fastest-growing search engine one-third empty? “We ran out of power before we ran out of space,” says search operations manager James Snow, a ponytailed refugee from an IBM acquisition. Not only does the Verizon facility lack a cheap power source, it struggles to get any further power at all; designed for the more modest needs of Internet switching, the building has already maxed out the local grid. Consequently, Ask.com’s Sampson has followed Google’s trail to the Columbia River, where he’s scoping out properties. Perhaps by moving farther up the river into the Washington headwaters he can get even cheaper power than Google will get in The Dalles.

With the local power company more interested in paying off the top-execs maybe we should be looking into muni-power to throw back onto the grid? Why shouldn’t we be generating power to run our street lights, municipal facilities, and even sell some back to DP&L. Dennis Kucinich understood this long ago when he refused to sell off Cleveland’s Municipal power plant and the powers that be drove the city into bankruptcy to teach the boy mayor a lesson.

It’s called power to the people- and it could be a key competitive advantage for the region in the years to come. Not only do we have bountiful clean water, we could also have good clean, cheap power. And with some of our dams starting to show signs of aging, we could be building new ones- with hydro-plants right in front of the old ones to slowly phase out the aged ones before we have to face a catastrophic failure.

What do you think? Just another crazy idea from Dayton’s masked man? Hi Ho Silver- away….

A thought- free air at Ohio Rest stops

It’s little things that make people feel good about your company- or your city- or your state, at least if you are thinking like a marketing person (and these days, we all should be thinking that way).

It’s not a flashy tagline that makes people think, Oh, it’s great in Dayton (yeah, it’s been done)- it’s things like clean streets, and pretty fountains with kids playing in them (as opposed to big fountains that don’t work).

So- in the spirit of saying “we’re Ohio, and we want you to think Ohio is a forward thinking, progressive place to do business”- why don’t we do something that could do that, plus: save gas so we don’t have to ship more money off to the Middle East- something cheap- something easy- and that could probably be ad supported:

Free air at all highway rest stops- with sponsorship by advertisers- on a screen at the pump. We could make sure people have their tires at the proper pressure saving fuel- and, have a few minutes to tell them about the cool things up the road- or in the State. If you’ve ever stopped in the “Welcome centers” on I-75 in Georgia- you may understand part of the reason Atlanta is a lot bigger than Dayton (back in 1950 they weren’t).

So- Columbus- instead of spending all that money changing the signs from Taft to Strickland, how about using that money to make a difference?