The 104th way Dayton can save money

Even when you try to stay tuned in to Dayton government issues- you miss some things- like the City actually asking for help in cutting expenses. You can e-mail ideas to them here: [email protected]

The Dayton Daily News had a story on the 103 ways to save today:

City of Dayton officials say they’re taking seriously the 103 cost saving suggestions submitted since October to cut a projected $13 million deficit in 2009.

Most of the suggestions came from staff, with a just six or seven coming from the public.

“The budget ideas represent a variety of suggestions and cover almost the entire organization,” Barbara LaBrier, director of Dayton’s Department of Management and Budget, said. “The response has been excellent and we encourage employees and the public to share their budget ideas with us.”

The suggestions fall into the following categories:

• Look at the level of supervisors in departments. As the city has downsized the span of control for some supervisors has decreased.

• Ideas for saving energy have been numerous including doing an energy audit to turning off lights in unused rooms.

• Use equipment to reduce staff time and improve efficiency. For example, set up a room in City Hall for Internet teleconferencing to reduce travel costs.

• Freeze wages and allow employees to take a day off without pay.

• Increase funding for the Mediation Center with the goal of reducing multiple police calls to the same location.

• Merge city functions with other jurisdictions.

A forecast overview on the budget is set for Wednesday, Dec. 3.

“The City Commission will see many of these suggestions in the form of budget recommendations in the coming months,” LeBrier said.

City gets 103 ways to pare its budget.

And, then there was also the notice that Dayton is on its regular trash collection schedule today. Yes, we pay the trash men double time to go make their mad 5 hour dash (that we pay them 8 hours for) so that we don’t miss an opportunity to line their pockets.

Waste collection employees work on an antiquated “Make out and quit” schedule that lets you clock a full day, no matter how long it takes to complete your route. This was the policy I was mocking the week before I got arrested for my mask protest. The policy is still in effect today. Thanksgiving. Where every other waste hauler just does a double shift on Friday and pays standard overtime, we do holiday pay.

I posted some other suggestions on how to cut costs here:

How to balance the Dayton budget- and get union cooperation

The Holiday trash collection (every holiday except Christmas) is just one more way the City of Dayton wastes our tax dollars due to special interests influencing the election process. It’s time to stop allowing the unions to be involved in our “non-partisan” elections. This trash policy is a prime example of bad management practices enacted to pay back favors.

The Dayton Daily News: Another reason to loathe it

This has been bothering me for 2 days. On Monday, November 24th, 5 days before the biggest shopping day of a very desperate retail season, the lead story reads “Beware of the risk of a gift card.”

As if local business isn’t being squeezed enough.

Working with quite a few, financially solvent, small businesses in Dayton- I can honestly say that articles like this can inflict major damage to their businesses.

Maybe we should all hang signs in every store front- that we’ll give 25% off any gift card purchase to anyone who brings in a cancellation notice to the Dayton Daily News? I’m sure Cox Enterprises would just love to see their paid readership sink even lower.

The “story” begins with fear- delivered via “Consumer Reports”:

With so many stores and restaurants in financial jeopardy these days, Consumer Reports recommends giving cash instead of gift cards this holiday season, or risk being a Grinch.

Yet it ends:

The Miami Valley Better Business Bureau said it has received no complaints about gift card defaults and that some companies declaring bankruptcy, including Circuit City, still are honoring the cards.

Experts say to avoid some gift cards.

Considering the majority of the newspaper’s revenue comes from advertising that is paid for, by the very same people who they insist on disparaging in this crap story, I can’t think of a better example of biting the hand that feeds you.

It’s irresponsible of the Dayton Daily News to publish this rubbish – it’s akin to yelling “Fire” in a crowded theater. Please let the paper know that we would prefer to read real news- instead of the National Enquirer.

The editorial page address is [email protected]

Find lost dog- win fabulous prizes: Dog is found.

Macy, lost American FoxhoundLarkin has lost found Macy.

She needs your help.

Macy is an American Foxhound, she is very friendly, but a bit timid and will probably be pretty frightened. She was last spotted this morning about 12:20 a.m. in the area of Broadway and Superior, but she could be anywhere.

There is $100 for her return.

The local number is 937-555-5555, but I’ll have the cell when I’m away from home, searching: 937 555-5555 (numbers have been changed after dog was found Tuesday Dec 2.)

Update from Larkin:

Sometimes dreams do come true.

Macy- home after an 8 day walkaboutMacy was found this afternoon about 2:30 EST. I camped outside the Hospice of Dayton (what nice people!) from about 8 a.m. I took a couple of breaks and on one of them she was sighted at the hospice again. (And it was great to know she was still in the area.) Ransom and I took a walk in the woods behind the hospice looking for her. Here’s an aerial photograph: http://snipurl.com/71n76 [www_mapquest_com]  –it’s that long stretch of woods in the middle, most of which is enclosed with an 8 foot chain link fence. We did find the place where she was going under the fence into the enclosed area. Back to the car, more waiting and watching. About 2:10, I decided to drive around the area on the other sides of the woods. At 2:15 my cell phone rang: it was the hospice, Macy was back. I rushed back there only to be told that she had bolted back into the woods. A man from maintenance was still calling for her, and I went back to the truck for Ransom, our Chesapeake Bay Retriever. Ransom was particularly pleased to meet the maintenance man, and began a conversation with him of loud conversational barks and roo-ing. That was when I saw Macy in the woods, peering out. I called her softly and she came towards me, but she was still leery of the other person. He graciously stepped back, I sat down on the ground, and she flew to me.

She seems to be in pretty good shape, other than the fact that she is emaciated. I don’t think she ate much while she was gone…. and while the psychic was correct that she was in an enclosed area– and Monday was the day this all started to come together– no one was looking after her. The cold, anxiety, exercise and lack of food really made her very thin. She was very eager and happy to greet the rest of her pack, and the general feeling in our household is one of great relief, well-being and contentedness.

The people of Dayton were simply marvelous during all this. They took a great interest in Macy and her well-being. Without exception, all were extraordinarily kind– and I saw parts of this city that I didn’t even know existed! Your prayers and kind thoughts really helped to sustain us during this very difficult last week and we are so grateful to you. My Christmas came extra early this year.

Again, many thanks.

Larkin

How to balance the Dayton budget- and get union cooperation

While the rest of us may have to cut our cable bill, eat meat less often, drive less and otherwise tighten our belts through the latest economic crunch, the three main Dayton unions aren’t willing to budge on pre-negotiated automatic raises.

Unfortunately, we don’t have a Commission that knows how to advise a City Manager on how to negotiate. Before the wage freeze was even discussed, a meeting should have been called to see what the unions thought would help solve the city budget crisis. This is facing all of us- and not an adversarial issue.

The city doesn’t have a choice but to cut expenses- or raise revenue in some way.

Once suggestions have been discussed- the idea of a wage freeze can be brought up. Unfortunately, we’ve already passed this point- and the unions rejected it:

Dayton’s three biggest employee unions have rejected the city’s proposal for an across-the-board wage freeze for city employees…

He said the “long shot” request could have trimmed $2.7 million off the city’s projected $13 million budget deficit.

Representatives of the Dayton Fraternal Order of Police and Dayton Firefighters Local 136 notified the city’s labor relations manager, Brent McKenzie, of the decision on Friday evening.

McKenzie then informed Young, who already had received news earlier in the day that the Dayton Public Service Union had rejected the proposal, too.

FOP President Randy Beane could not be reached for comment Saturday.

A forecast overview on the budget is set for Wednesday, Dec. 3.

“We will move forward and we will deliver a budget that’s balanced,” Young said. “Unfortunately, we’ll have cuts we’d rather not make.”

Mayor Rhine McLin said Saturday she was disappointed the unions “aren’t recognizing the severity of the financial situation.

“It was an option we presented to them hoping they would follow the lead of the city manager and commission by accepting a wage freeze to help reduce the deficit so we could move forward,” she said. “Now we will have to go back to the table to determine how to address that gap.”

While 87 city employees agreed earlier to accept buyout deals to help reduce the number the layoffs, Young said there will still be a need for layoffs.

The four unions that represent 70 percent of the city’s 2,395 employees all have contracts that include 3 percent raises for 2009, so any wage freeze must be voluntary.

Dayton city unions reject wage freeze.

Since the unions haven’t offered any alternatives- here are some options to consider:

  • Shutting down the Dayton Police Academy- unless it can be turned into a money maker- this year. All future hires for the Dayton Police Department can take the standard Ohio Peace Officer training- or have completed training and transfer from another department.
  • Shutting down the Dayton Fire Department training academy. Same thing- firefighters can complete certification on their own, through places like Sinclair.
  • Begin the process to contract street maintenance from the County- and put waste collection out to bid from private waste collection firms.
  • Investigate turning all Dayton parks over to Five Rivers Metroparks and paying a flat rate per acre for maintenance and programming.
  • Eliminate all “economic development” positions from City government. Let regional organizations like CityWide or the Dayton Development Coalition do their thing, without duplication of services. Totally eliminate subsidies for the Downtown Dayton Partnership.
  • Cut all subsidies to arts organizations unless every city in the County contributes an equal amount per-capita. It’s time to stop subsidizing the arts for the citizens of Oakwood.

These are all steps toward regionalism and to eliminating departments that will be redundant once we make the inevitable move to a regional unigov.

The unions might not like it- but, they may not have a choice. The people in City Hall may not like it either- but they won’t have a choice either.

How much were you paid for who you know?

If this doesn’t make you sick, it should.

Two vendors competing to run a new Ohio Lottery game showered tens of thousands of dollars on a political group benefiting Democratic governors, including Ohio’s Ted Strickland.

Intralot Inc. gave its first donation this year to the Democratic Governors Association on April 11, according to federal filings. The $50,000 check landed the day after final bid documents were opened in Ohio to operate the Ohio Lottery for the next decade.

The Georgia-based company learned from lottery officials on April 25 that it had the apparent successful bid. The company wrote a second $50,000 check on July 7.

The company gave no comparable donations to the Republican Governors Association this year, that group’s records show.

Intralot’s contract is at the center of a lawsuit over whether Ohio followed proper procedure in awarding it. The contract is worth an estimated $170 million over 10 years.

Rhode Island-based GTECH, a longtime operator of the state’s lottery terminals that filed the lawsuit, has given $75,125 to the Democratic governors’ group since January, more than the $50,000 it gave to the Republican Governors Association.

David Leland, a former Ohio Democratic Party chairman who served as finance chairman of Strickland’s 2006 campaign, is employed as a consultant to the Democratic Governors Association, the group’s financial filings show. Leland has been paid $12,000 a month since at least January.

DGA spokesman Brian Namey said the contributions are unrelated to either the Ohio contract or any consulting work Leland has done for the association.

Records show Lottery vendors gave to Democrats.

Lottery companies are buying their way into States. And, the former Ohio Democratic Party Chairman is making $144,000 a year to be a consultant- and that money is coming from companies that want to run lotteries.

Suppose the people just wanted decent schools, an equitable funding system for those schools, safe streets, clean air, water and parks, and an infrastructure to go about their business? How much money in ADDITION to our taxes does it take to outbid special interests that are corrupting our government?

Shakespeare had it wrong- we don’t need to kill all the lawyers (although not surprisingly, many lobbyists are lawyers) we need to start killing the lobbyists.

Why the giants of Detroit have stumbled.

The rhetoric around the Big Three bailout is virulent. The finger pointing is intense. And most of it is total poppycock.

The New York Times had an article this morning about the Chevy Volt electric car. One car is all GM, a global auto manufacturer, is betting the whole company on one car. An overpriced one at that- 10 years late to market. Read:

The Chevrolet Volt, a plug-in hybrid, will not arrive in showrooms until late 2010. But it is already straining under the weight of an entire company.

The Volt is expected to go on sale in late 2010. G.M. plans to sell about 10,000, priced at about $40,000, in the first year.

Executives at General Motors, the largest and apparently the most imperiled of the three American car companies, are using the Volt as the centerpiece of their case to a skeptical Congress that their business plan for a turnaround is strong, and that a federal bailout would be a good investment in G.M.’s future.

In ads that ran this week, the company said of the Volt: “This is not just a car. It’s a vision of our future.” Another claimed that the vehicle would “completely reinvent the automotive industry.”

There is a long tradition in Detroit of relying on a single new model or technology as a silver bullet to quickly solve bigger problems. Sometimes it works — the Chevrolet Corvette, the Ford Mustang and Ford Taurus, and Chrysler’s K-car lineup of compact, fuel-efficient cars in the early 1980s all gave their companies an enormous boost.

But whether the Volt can live up to its billing is already a matter of debate. And some industry analysts note that General Motors has a poor track record of introducing green technology to the market.

The Volt is a big long-term bet. New vehicles typically cost $1 billion to develop, and the Volt requires new technology that probably inflated that price tag even more.

G.M. says the car, which is scheduled to arrive in showrooms two years from now, will be able to travel 40 miles on a charge, but it will also have a small gas engine to extend the range to as much as 640 miles using both the battery and gasoline the 1.4 liter, four-cylinder engine is intended to run a generator that will power the car and recharge the batteries once they are depleted. It is expected to cost about $40,000.

G.M.’s Latest Great Green Hope Is a Tall Order – NYTimes.com.

It’s not the UAW, or health care costs, or even quality that is at issue here- it’s that GM lost its way as a car company over the last 40 years. Instead of building cars- they built “brands” and spent a lot of money trying to tell us there was a difference between a Camaro and a Firebird. They became a finance company- GMAC, financing everything from cars to homes. They introduced new model after new model that ignored lessons from history- like the 1973 oil embargo, where people were lined up at gas pumps, and were looking to more fuel efficient cars. All while GM kept paying the “Leadership” more and more, and delivering less and less market share.

At some point, the market, was supposed to correct bad companies – according to the wisdom of the now fully naked and deposed emperor, Alan Greenspan.

Reality: while everything else changed faster, the American auto giants became the proverbial Goliath- and a simple slingshot has now taken them down.

Change wasn’t in their vocabulary. An “American Revolution” was actually a call back to the glory days when there was no global competition and little innovation.

We should wonder how our country was able to turn on a dime after the Pearl Harbor attack of December 7, 1941. America switched from building cars to building tanks and bombers to win the war in under 4 years, while GM has been unable to respond to a hybrid car in ten. Read what Ross Perot had to say about GM’s culture – and you begin to understand.

In the  eight years that the Toyota Prius has been on the market, the Big Three automakers have probably spent more money on lobbying Congress not to increase the CAFE standards than on developing a more fuel efficient product line. No, it wasn’t the UAW’s fault this happened- it’s our nation’s belief that Government is something we buy- instead of something we already own. It’s our belief that we need to spend money to micro-manage decisions by the “representatives” of the people- instead of just worrying about how to win in a global economy.

When the Big 3 whined about the cost of health care– they didn’t try to solve it by having a showdown with the insurance companies- they lobbied Congress. When Hillary Clinton was talking about a national health care program- they didn’t step up in support, but stood on the sidelines. We’ve become a nation of lawyers and legislators instead of a nation of innovators and competitors.

How hard would it have been for the Big 3 to get together and pool their resources to back an Automotive Industry Health Care buying collaborative, where they used their scale to go direct to health-care providers to buy health care (instead of insurance) for their employees? We’re talking a pool of millions of workers, giving them the same economies of scale that make them so “invaluable” to the American economy that supposedly warrants a bailout.

Instead, GM had five corporate jets to ferry executives around.

GM has fought against efficient transportation initiatives for years. Now, it’s asking for a free lunch after decades of planting the wrong crops. Maybe the American automobile manufacturing days should be over- with the US switching to fast light trains and clean energy (see the Apollo Alliance) – maybe cars aren’t the answer.

Either way- right now, it’s not GM, Ford or Chrysler in the driver’s seat- and for good reason. Any company that takes ten years to respond to competition in today’s economy, isn’t ready for the next ten years. Congress isn’t much better- reactive legislation has become their standard operating procedure.

We won WWII in 4 years. Will Barack Obama be a leader who can turn us around in four years? The war is against the loss of our entrepreneurial spirit, the loss of our understanding of reap what we sow. Economic strength does not come from lobbyists but from innovators. It’s time to end our system of buying legislation- and start investing in innovation again. Time is the enemy in both innovation and in compound interest on the national debt.

It’s time to stop rewarding stumbling- and to start rewarding speed to innovation. We don’t need giants to jumpstart the economy- we need speedy sprinters. If Congress is looking for answers, fallen giants aren’t the answer to our problems. Bigger isn’t the answer. Smarter and faster is.

What to buy the Dayton fisherman who has everything this year

This is a shameless plug for a really good guy and a really neat place you’ve probably never heard of. Call it my Dayton holiday gift guide.

Al Horstman has been a friend for a long time. A former military aviator- both in the Army and as a Marine, we’ve always shared a bond, even though he preferred to fly things and I preferred to jump out of them.

About 15 years ago, Al bought an abandoned quarry in Franklin Ohio and had the vision to see what no one else saw- a fishing oasis, a short drive from the Dayton Mall. He’s had to fight city halls and who knows who else, but, all that hard work has paid off- and now, Waterscape is a real treasure to those who know it.

His description from his website:

Waterscape is a year-round fishing club for Largemouth and Smallmouth bass, Stripers, Walleye/Saugeye, Northern Pike, Muskie, Yellow Perch, Rainbow and Golden Trout, Blue Channel Catfish, Black and White Crappie, Red Ear Sunfish and Trophy Size Bluegill; and even a few surprises.

Waterscape includes a total of 3 interconnected lakes, (over 75 acres of water and up to 71′ (feet) in depth) on our 100 acre landscape.

Waterscape has everything you need for the best fishing experience you could imagine. We have an activity center and 3 campground sites, floating docks and boat slips, outdoor boat storage, 6 floating fishing piers, and annual tournaments, cookouts and other special events.

waterscape fishing club.

I’m not much for fishing, but those of you who are, will feel like I do when I walk into either an Apple Store or B&H photo. It’s paradise.

So, if you are wondering what to give someone who loves to fish, or, if you do, check out his link above, give him a call and sign up. You can’t find any place closer to have more fun fishing than Al’s private lakes.

Congress should tell the automakers to go talk to the oil companies

Greed. Typically it comes back to bite you in the butt. Just ask Exxon how things are going now that people are using less fuel thanks to their skyrocketing prices.

Also, ask them how projections look, when Americans stop buying Hummers and Sufis- their best friends in boosting sales of their products.

Six months ago  or so, big oil execs were being grilled by Congress about their record profits ($122 billion in one quarter). Now, we’ve got the US automakers begging for a bailout. There is a direct relationship here- but no one in Congress suggested that GM, Chrysler and Ford should go ask big oil for a handout.

$25 Billion shouldn’t be too hard for Exxon on its own:

Exxon Mobil made history on Friday by reporting the highest quarterly and annual profits ever for a U.S. company, boosted in large part by soaring crude prices.

Exxon, the world’s largest publicly traded oil company, said fourth-quarter net income rose 14% to $11.66 billion, or $2.13 per share. The company earned $10.25 billion, or $1.76 per share, in the year-ago period.

The profit topped Exxon’s previous quarterly record of $10.7 billion, set in the fourth quarter of 2005, which also was an all-time high for a U.S. corporation.

“Exxon can put out some amazing numbers and this is one of those cases,” said Jason Gammel, senior analyst at Macquarie Securities in New York.

Exxon also set an annual profit record by earning $40.61 billion last year – or nearly $1,300 per second in 2007. That exceeded its previous record of $39.5 billion in 2006.

Exxon posts quarterly, annual profit records – Feb. 1, 2008.

Economic systems, even in the most free wheeling economy- are still all based on a closed loop. Henry Ford understood this when he thought that paying his employees enough to be able to buy the cars they produced was a good idea. Exxon and the rest of big oil should be first in line to back the American auto industry, since they have been providing the cars that are tops in consumption.

The American auto industry is the proverbial goose that laid the golden egg for the oil companies.

Why can’t we have a Congress with anyone smart enough to suggest this?

A brief history of our Federal debt

I’ve been meaning to share this for a while- but hadn’t had a chance.

I.O.USA the movie: A thirty minute economics and history lesson on how the Federal deficit grew, and what we’d have to do to start reversing the trend.

Although it doesn’t talk about the impact of a national health care system, I believe improving our ability to practice proactive preventive medicine and keep a healthier population can make a huge impact on future Medicare costs.

I also believe that stronger trade policy can change dynamics pretty quickly. It’s not just our consumption of oil that is hurting us- it’s our consumption of cheap overseas labor that has decimated our industrial base.

Throw in the environmental impact of manufacturing in third world nations that don’t regulate emissions and we’re also looking at an environmental meltdown at about the same time the wheels fall off the US economy. The global population explosion is also going to put a huge strain on the planet’s ability to feed us all.

Tightening belts is only a small part of changing the future, exercising new trade and tax policies will either make or break us.

The short version of this movie is sobering. I don’t know if I could endure the full version without wanting to slit my wrists, but I think it’s well worth a half hour of your time.

And, I’m sure that when Barack Obama began his run for the presidency, this wasn’t what he thought he was signing up for.

The Hickory Bar-B-Que takes Dominic’s place for a business lunch!

Well, UD and Miami Valley Hospital finally realized, you need to have a place other than a chain open for lunch in the area to take your prospective hires. Sure, they’ve been at Coco’s a lot, but, on Brown Street, since Dominic’s closed, there hasn’t been much in the way of unique.

The Hickory- also known as “Joe Kisses” and the “Ol Hickory” or “Old Hickory” – although it has no relation anymore to the other two Old Hickory’s anymore- has been around since as long as I’ve been alive. I was a little perturbed  at them years ago- when they tore down the old “Westward Ho” cafeteria for a parking lot expansion- but, that’s “progress.”

From the DBJ:

Hickory Bar-B-Que, located at 1082 Brown St., will open for lunch starting Monday, Nov. 17….

“People from the hospital, the University of Dayton, wanted to know if we would start serving lunch,” Fisher said. “Now’s the time to give it a shot.”

Hickory will be open for lunch from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., at which time the restaurant will switch over to its dinner menu. To handle the increased business, Fisher is adding six new employees, bringing the employment total to about 40.

The restaurant, which opened in 1962, offers a variety of sandwiches, salads and other entrees on its lunch menu. Prices vary, with salads costing between $1.75 and $7.25, sandwiches from $4.25 to $6.75 and entrees from $6.95 to $13.75.

Fisher said people can find their regular dinner options, such as bar-b-que ribs and chicken, just in smaller portions.

Hickory Bar-B-Que will be open for lunch Monday through Friday.

Hickory Bar-B-Que opens for lunch – Dayton Business Journal:.

The Hickory is one of my favorites places, that I don’t remember to go to that often. But, maybe the 4pm line won’t be as long now that you can get your BBQ fix twice a day.