Services ala carte – To SID or not to SID, that, alas, is the question

I’m sure Downtown property owners would have liked to pick and choose what services they were paying for when the Special Improvement District was created for Downtown to fund the Downtown Dayton Partnership. They didn’t get a choice.

However, now the Oregon District Business Association is getting exactly that option:

Partnership to provide services in Oregon District – Dayton Business Journal:
The Downtown Dayton Partnership will start providing services to the Oregon District Aug. 6.

Members of the Oregon District Business Association ­– composed of businesses on Fifth Street and within the historic neighborhood — entered into a one-year contract to receive services from the partnership, according to a release issued by the partnership Tuesday.

Terms of the deal were not released.

Oregon district businesses will receive services similar to those the central business district gets: business recruitment and retention; marketing and advocacy; housing development; amenity development; and environmental services, including the Ambassador program.

The Ambassadors began work in the district this week in light of Restaurant Week, a semi-annual event spearheaded by the Miami Valley Restaurant Association. Throughout the year, Ambassadors will work in the district Wednesday through Saturday evenings, providing cleaning and safety services.

“The Oregon District Business Association will pay for these services through membership dues, proceeds from the District’s annual Haunt Fest and from private contributions,” said Tom Tornatore, president of the business association, in the release.

The groups are still working on long-term options for a future relationship. The Oregon District may create its own special improvement district or become part of the Downtown Dayton special improvement district, according to the release.

The cooperation among downtown groups has stemmed from the groups’ involvement on each others’ boards, said Michael Greitzer, co-chair of the partnership, in the release. Oregon District and Webster Station representatives serve on the partnership’s board, and Sandy Gudorf, president of the partnership, serves on the boards of those two groups.

“Regardless of district boundaries, we are all part of downtown Dayton, and this agreement allows us all to work more closely together,” Greitzer said.

It’s sad that the City can’t manage to provide these fundamental services without having to create all these semi-autonomous organizations. One City- One Dayton.

7 Months later, RTA reverses: will allow bus ads

Back in January, I told you that RTA was going to halt advertising on the buses. http://esrati.com/?p=187

Today at lunch, I ran into RTA board Chairman Bryan Bucklew who informed me that RTA has reversed the decision and will now begin accepting bus ads again.

The directive from the board to RTA Director Donaghy  was to work out the details on who will sell the ads, possibly bidding it out to a third party.

There will not be full wraps, but the exterior panel ads will return.

Mark one up for Esrati vs the world.

Dayton Daily News and the “ing’ing” of words

I’m the last one who should be a grammar cop, but, lately the Dayton Daily News seems to have instituted an East Dayton Style guide.

In a story about thieves stealing copper plumbing from homes- they called the pipes, “piping” and on the front page of today’s paper, they said “UD Arena gets new flooring for basketball court.”

It’s a basketball floor, and the copper pipes have been stolen. Next thing you know, they’ll have “no ideal” about what happened to their paper as more people get fed up with the 2-bit reporting that passes for “news” in the paper.

A new member of the “Dayton Syndicate”

The “DaytonOS” has launched- OS standing for either “Official Statement” or “Operating System” take your pick.

Its first post is one that makes me think- so I’ve included most of it- (to try to get you to head over and look- and add its feed to your list).

DPS Subsidy = Dangerous Precedent at DaytonOS.com
The DDN reported today the Dayton Public Schools, Greater Dayton RTA, City of Dayton and Montgomery County reached a deal to continue providing RTA bus service for Dayton public and charter school high school students.

The deal includes a subsidy from both the City of Dayton and Montgomery County of $350,000 per year.

Taxpayers should wonder about this arrangement. Providing direct subsidies to DPS from other taxpayer funds establishes a potentially dangerous precedent.

What criteria will Montgomery County and GDRTA use to consider other requests for subsidies from other communities?

They go on to provide a possible solution that wasn’t discussed- interesting reading.

The idea of City and County tax dollars supporting public schools- hmmmmm…. what next, the City taking over the schools? Talk about explaining your accounting.

What do you think?

Why the South Park Historic District is the best place to live in Dayton

I bought my home on January 28, 1986. That was also the day the space shuttle Challenger blew up. $14,500 for 1700 square feet of Victorian wood frame home. A 2 car detached garage, fenced in yard for the dog- and a lot of work staring me in the face.

Seven years of living with a decor that I came to call “early American toolbox”- with a table saw in the living room- and I finally had the house I still call home.

I had no idea what kind of neighborhood I was buying into- but it turned out to be a pretty good one. So good, that in 1997 I made a 30 minute video with my former employee Kevin Moran (who still lives in the ‘hood) about what made this neighborhood special. It’s called “South Park Soliloquy” and today, I pulled out the master tape- digitized it, compressed it- and put it up on YouTube for all to share.

If you are wondering about the really cool music- it’s 4 time Grammy nominee, Buckwheat Zydeco. We did his site in trade for the rights to use the music (the site still uses most of the visuals that we did for him). I remember trying to explain why we should use Zydeco to sell a turn-of-the-century neighborhood- it seemed like such a disconnect- but, I still say that happy music is the best soundtrack for a happy neighborhood.

I hope you enjoy it.

And what does the City Manager manage?

Maybe they don’t teach basic accounting in City Manager school? Please note, this isn’t about our current City Manager, but our last one- Jim Dineen. The one we let double-dip because he was “so good”- except the only money he was keeping track of was his own.

This is inexcusable-

State audit finds Dayton didn’t properly track $32M – Dayton Business Journal:
A belatedly-released 2005 audit of the city of Dayton showed the city didn’t keep track of how $32 million in federal grant money was spent.

The state audit office, which released its findings Tuesday, also found the city was careless in handling some accounts and payroll procedures.

The city of Dayton is expected to respond to the auditor’s report at a press conference at 3:30 Tuesday afternoon.

Instead of keeping track of federal grant money expenditures in one place, the city relied on individual department heads to track how $32.3 million was spent, according to a release issued by the state auditor’s office.

It took the city several months to round up a document that showed how all of the federal grant monies were received and spent, said Steve Faulkner, spokesman for the auditor’s office. That’s what caused the delay, he said.

“It should have been easy for them to have pulled off a list of expenditures from their main accounting system,” Faulkner said.

And when the city did produce that document, balances there didn’t match the balances the department heads kept, Faulkner said.

Other accounting practices also caused problems, according to the release:

  • Deposits that were made into the general fund didn’t have supporting documentation that showed why certain funds went where they did.
  • The municipal court is supposed to transfer money to the city each month, but it didn’t happen, which caused an overage in its account by $37,000.
  • Residents’ payments of water, sewage, storm water and other fees all went directly into the water department’s account, which divvied up the funds to the respective departments afterward. Doing it that way provides no assurance that the right funds are getting to the right departments, Faulkner said.
  • On top of that, some residents were overcharged in storm water bills, and corrections only were made when residents complained. Faulkner said the auditor’s office did not have an estimate on how much residents were overcharged.

We may want to look at our Clerk of Courts, Mark Owen (Chair of the Montgomery County Democratic Party) and see what his excuse was for not transferring funds?

I’ve always wondered about the “Blanket PO” process the City uses to budget for purchases- it seemed awfully sloppy. Maybe it’s not the Dayton Public Schools that needs an audit after all?

Olympic Gold and the Dayton Sportsplex

David Esrati and Nancy Hogshead-Makar with 1984 Olympic gold medalJuly 20, 2007- roll the highlight reel.

I spent the day with Nancy Hogshead-Makar- for me, it was like winning the lottery on life. And, I’m going to share my bounty. (I’ll post a pic when I get a chance to) For those of you who may not know the name, this is from her bio:

Professor Nancy Hogshead-Makar
Several swimmers have been ranked number one in the world. Nancy Hogshead did it at the age of 14. In fact, she was the only American swimmer to be number one in international competition in 1977. A year later Nancy left home to train for the 1980 Olympics. She qualified for the team, but the boycott of the Games kept her home. Later, at Duke University, she shattered nearly every school record. Through high school and college dual meets she was undefeated. Other major national awards include the Come-Back Swimmer of the Year Award and the prestigious Kiphuth Award, given to the best all-around swimmer nationally.

At the age of 22, Nancy capped eight years as a world class swimmer. At the 1984 Olympics, she won more medals than any other swimmer – three Gold medals and one Silver. She has been inducted into six Halls of Fame, including the International Swimming Hall of Fame. In June of 2001 she was inducted into the International Scholar-Athlete Hall of Fame.

Since retiring from swimming, Hogshead-Makar has been a high profile advocate of gender equity in sports. She is one of the nation’s foremost exponents of Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, particularly within the context of intercollegiate sports. She is a former President of the Women’s Sports Foundation (1992-94) and currently serves on its Board of Stewards. She has testified in Congress numerous times on the topic of gender equity in athletics and has served on two Presidential Committees.

Over an amazing Thai lunch finished with the most amazing Bananas Foster ever- we talked about my ideas for the Dayton Public Schools and Sportsplex.

Actually, we had a bit of a debate (imagine that). Nancy wasn’t all that thrilled about having one HS Football team (using Football as an example- because we would only have one team for each sport) for the whole district- because it means less opportunity for kids to make the team. I argued back, that not all schools have Football now- or swimming- even though we have pools at most schools.

And- in the end, it comes down to the same issue we are talking about with regionalism and uni-gov. By not duplicating services, we can have more services- and better services. For example- right now there isn’t a competitive gymnastics program in the Dayton Public School system- (as far as I know, Centerville is the only district with a team). By having one central gymnastics program centered at Sportsplex- we could have a pretty good program built from the entire district- all ages.

I think Nancy got it- although, my arguments weren’t as clear as they are today. Think of it this way- our education system isn’t really made up of buildings-it’s made up of people. When we take our social capital and organize it most efficiently- we can get a synergy that will give us results far greater than we can while we continue to let things like buildings and man made boundaries limit our reach.

In the end- SportsPlex isn’t just a glorified gym, it’s a tool of bringing us together and amplifying our strengths.

Nancy’s success was a result of an elite swim program and a lot of hard work- right now, she battles for equal access for women to opportunity through sport. Hopefully, by the time I get this whole thing mapped out, she’ll give it a gold medal.

Right now- what are your thoughts? (And no, you can’t have her number).

Rex lies in ad, someone call the BBB

A full page ad said “everything in the store 25% off” – starts today at 10am.

So- at 10am I sent a friend to see if we could snag a 34″ Sony XBR WEGA tv for $450. I just bought one, and a friend just bought one for $599 (this set ran $2700 when new 2 years ago- and is one of the top rated CRT TV’s of all time- it also weighs in at 200lbs).

However, Rex’s idea of a 25% off sale, is to mark the floor model at $799 and sell it for $599. Sorry folks- that ain’t 25% off your regular price. That’s false advertising.

As someone in advertising- it makes me ill.

Stuart Rose (CEO of Rex), you should be ashamed.

How to save a quick 1.2 billion dollars?

Homes are being foreclosed on, people are going broke paying for medical care even with insurance, and soldiers are dying in Iraq- so, instead of taking care of all of us, the government is spending 1.2 billion dollars on new armored vehicles to protect our troops from IED’s.

Bad news. It won’t work.

There is only one way to protect troops in a war- end it. With no end in sight, we may as well start dropping our old nukes on Iraq to whip them into shape. If there was one thing I learned in Special Forces- is that no matter how big and bad you think you are- there is always someone who can kick your ass.

It’s sort of a law of escalating innovation. You build a better smart phone, Apple builds the iPhone. When you talk about weaponry, it’s the same thing. The new vehicles won’t work against shaped charges- the kind that the “evildoers” in Iraq are using- and yet, we continue to invest in this bad decision.

“Fighting the terrorists there, so we don’t have to fight them here” is a sad excuse for a war. I say, bring it on- let Mohammad come over- and see how well he fares against every redneck with a Colt hanging in the back of his pick-up truck- or the gang-bangers on the street. Give us some targets- some real live bad ass terrorists. I say, we’re getting our butts kicked in the pocketbook by fear more than by force.

If this war was a business decision- it’s a loser. Buying new armor ain’t the solution- we’d do better to just hand over the billions to the Iraqis as bounties for killing their own off- and sit back and let the most cutthroat bad ass rise back to the top just like Saddam. That’s the only way you will have peace in a country that is hell bent on fighting each other and us.

Reality sucks for our President. But, sure is good for the defense industry.

I know this isn’t my normal topic- but, I thought I’d stick it up as a reminder to all of us that we are letting good men and women die and suffer awful injuries in a fight that isn’t going to end nice and neatly like WWII. Say a prayer- call your congressman- go watch the new Michael Moore film Sicko- and think about what could we be doing to make America a better place, instead of trying to fix a civil war in Iraq.

Calling all Dayton Locavores: John Henry’s soft opening

Night time photo of John Henry's

Was walking down to Dolcessa for some evening gelato last night when I saw that John Henry’s had its doors open for bar business.

I’m still missing the Blue Moon, but, it will be good to have another option open in the Historic Oregon District for dining. From what I understand it will be a family steak house. The address is 520 E. Fifth street- and you enter through the side door by the bar, or through the courtyard. It’s run by the same people who own the Trolley Stop, so you should see some familiar faces.

Best of luck!