What the Dayton Daily News Editorial board does on a Saturday afternoon

I went to see “Milk” at the Neon movies for the 5pm show.

I highly recommend it as a primer for grassroots activism, and a brief history of the insane anti-gay/protection of marriage movement. From IMDB:

The story of California’s first openly gay elected official, Harvey Milk, a San Francisco supervisor who was assassinated along with Mayor George Moscone by San Francisco Supervisor Dan White.

via Milk (2008).

After we took our seats, we listened as a woman was saving 4 seats behind us- and was a little rude about it. Soon, Martin Gottlieb walks in with a cherry red Kangol cap, and then soon after, Ellen Belcher.  I said hi to Martin before the show and Ellen gave me holiday wishes on her way out.

While Ohio jumped on the “protection of marriage” train in 2004- which helped propel GWB to his second term, this kind of stupidity traces back to the early 70’s with former orange juice “spokeswoman” Anita Bryant. Looking back forty years, and we still are struggling with having the State try to make rules about what goes on between consenting adults behind closed doors.

Harvey Milk wasn’t afraid to be gay, risk his life, or sit quietly by while his civil rights were being taken away. However, as Dan White says in the movie- “You have an issue” to Milk- and White couldn’t find an issue to own. When Milk needed a second issue- he went after dog poop- a stunt and a distraction- just to play politics.

That part scared me. Looking at the Presidential election- we still see a “single theme” can trump all kinds of rhetoric. Obama used “Change” and stuck with it- only to be elected and bring in a cabinet of people who have lived inside the system so long they think change is only measured by number of seats the ruling party holds.

Are we such shallow people that single issues are all that matters?

I also started reconsidering my feelings about Commissioner Joey Williams- who I consider a friend and the only member of the Dayton City Commission who has any real credibility on the commission. His abstention on the gay rights ordinance last year was reprehensible. Is that issue enough to vote him off the Commission?

Joey and I had a long talk after his vote- he explained his position to me, off the record, however, once elected, should you really be afraid to explain publicly your reasoning?

I’ve never been impressed with the Dayton Daily News editorial boards questions- or their reasoning behind endorsements. I’ve also never seen them admit they were wrong. I’ll be interested to see what they write about “Milk” and if they will hold Williams or Lovelace accountable for their non-votes/votes against the gay rights ordinance.

I’m also wondering if the editorial board understand that the Internet has changed the political landscape yet. In today’s DDN Belcher was amazed at her recent discovery of podcasts on the iPod. (for the record Ellen- American Public Radio’s Marketplace is my top choice). There is no longer an excuse for a candidate to NOT have answers to all positions on a site- where there can be no confusion about why they did what they did.

I’ve got at least a 4 year jump on any local politician/candidate with ideas and positions on issues- in print, by my own hand. When it comes to the next editorial board Q&A there isn’t anything they could ask that I haven’t covered here- making seeing them pretty pointless.

Their typical endorsement is never about ideas- but of supposed “qualifications” based on some kind of system they believe breeds leadership. Most of the time, that means being a pawn of a local political party. Maybe after seeing “Milk” they will understand that it’s time to examine issues- maybe even more than one- and make their choices based on ideas- instead of some sort of checklist.

Harvey Milk wouldn’t have gotten their endorsement- and maybe they should be thinking about why not?

Leitzell announces bid for Mayor: DDN ignores my announcement for commission months ago

Neighborhood activist Gary Leitzell announced that he is challenging Rhine McLin for her seat next year as an independent. He even got a write up in the Dayton Daily yesterday (amazing since I announced months ago- and told you he was running as well).

I am making an early announcement that will explain why things are slower at the “Crack House”. I am going to run for Mayor next year and have just slapped together a web site and blog to use in my campaign. I shouldn’t have to post to the site very often. It is a tool to allow me to connect with residents of the city. I have added a banner in the right sidebar that links to “Dayton Mayor”. There is a petition process that is quite time consuming. I hope to be through with it soon so that I am ready to do more work on the house. Don’t worry, this won’t become a political blog. I’m really not a politician. Just a mover and a shaker who gets things done.

Now I can say that the worse thing that could happen to me personally is that I get elected, because I would have to do the job and we certainly are facing some challenges here in Dayton. I am willing to face those challenges but I won’t be too disappointed if the voters don’t think that I am the best person for the job. On the other hand, we are certainly going to have the right house if I can just get things finished!

via This Old Crack House.

Leitzell sounds like I did 20 years ago- when I first ran for Commission. I too refused to accept contributions- instead capping myself with spending $1000 of my own money. It was before the Internet, and before I understood what it really takes to win a campaign. Even though the Mayor’s job is part-time, and only pays $36K a year- we’ve seen races cost close to a million (the Capizzi/Turner race, and the first Turner/McLin race).

This isn’t exactly a playground for the feint at heart. In my first run against Clay Dixon for Mayor, I had the windows of my office shot out on two consecutive nights, was attacked by a union chief, attacked by Dixon, received death threats and written off by the Dayton Daily News as an “advertising man with nothing to say” even though my campaign literature was 11×17 and full of ideas for change.

Best of luck Mr. Leitzell, I’ll be running into you a lot in my campaign for commission.

In what we trust

This is something I’ve been thinking about for a while. It’s long. I hope it’s worth it to you. If you really like it- or hate it- tell 5 friends.

The recent financial market meltdown started me thinking about what makes civilized society possible. It’s not the form of government, even a dictator can make the trains run on time. It’s not the economic system, although, some do seem to work better than others. It’s not based on a religion, or a shared heritage or culture- it’s one thing, and one thing only: Trust.

Trust must be pretty important, since it’s right on our money: “In God we trust”- although in reality, God has nothing to do with it- unless God is an abbreviation for Government Organized Democratically and the Democratically part is a euphemism for equal participation (which we should know is a fallacy by now, although original intentions were good).

We use many factors to measure the success of countries and political subdivisions including:
Wealth, education, productivity, health, population and even “happiness factors”- but for people to live together synergistically and successfully, the most important index we should pay attention to is our collective trust factor.
For all the differences, for civilization to work, for an economy to function, for people to have hope, it all comes down to Trust.

Do we trust:

  • Each other: to be free from fear of crimes against us or our property.
  • Our institutions: to provide for the basic health and welfare for the greater good.
  • Our systems: for providing a framework for commerce and a level playing field.
  • Our government: to be fair and responsible.

Without trust, chaos gets a toe-hold. Chaos is the antithesis of civilization. It grows like a cancer- quickly, in an uncontrolled death spiral, and unless radical procedures are implemented quickly and deftly, there will be no recovery.

Watching the powers that be, at all levels- from global to local, we’ve seen reactive measures aimed at propping back up things that have already failed the trust test:

  • Banks have failed, because we trusted them to make good loans and invest wisely.
  • Insurance companies have failed because they decided to insure things that couldn’t possibly be insured like credit default swaps.
  • Wall Street has failed because we allowed it to become a casino instead of remaining a financial market.
  • The American automotive industry failed to build vehicles that would be desirable when gas prices hit $4 a gallon.
  • The oil companies failed to realize that consumers could only afford their car based lifestyle when gas prices remained stable- and that people would find ways to cut consumption to make ends meet when prices became speculative.
  • And, lastly, our Government is failing- because we’ve lost trust in our “representatives” to make good laws and regulations. It’s becomes obvious that we now have the best politicians money can buy.

When the cancer of the deregulated financial systems struck, our government didn’t do anything (other than outlaw naked short selling) to change the fundamental ways we conduct business. Their best answer has been to throw money at the problem, instead of trying to heal the system through radical surgery.

In less than 30 days, we will have a new president, who has promised change, yet he has surrounded himself with hardened politicians and political operatives who were all a part of the current problem. If we’re looking for a cure for this systemic failure, it’s not going to come from anyone who has “made it” inside the current system. They’ve already been infected by the cancer and are fighting their own battles for self preservation. Karl Marx wasn’t part of the establishment of his time, neither were Plato or Socrates. In fact, revolutionary ideas seldom come from the establishment- hence we must rise up and demand, through revolutionary rhetoric, systemic changes if we want to have civilization continue.

This country was founded by revolutionaries who got it pretty close to right with the US Constitution. Unfortunately, we’ve travelled a long way from those ideals and have become placated cogs in a machine that no longer seems to care about those who it was built to support.

At every turn, what should be basic rights, have been taken over by corporations that get to act like people- with sociopathic tendencies.

We’ve created a system where a company can play god with your health care decisions, yet, you can’t choose how to manage your own end of life scenario.

We’ve created a system where it costs billions to elect a man to a job that only pays $400,000 a year- and holds his finger on a nuclear arsenal, yet, others can make billions (literally, in one year) by playing games with financial instruments without being held personally liable.

We’ve created a system that says it’s ok to be paid millions while shuttering factories that have had tax dollars invested in them, to “guarantee jobs” for communities- only to see the rug pulled out from under those same communities.

It’s time to look at these cancers to our economic health and reassess the system. It’s time to put new rules in place, not to re-distribute wealth, but to restore both a level playing field and trust back into a system where the rules of common sense no longer seem to apply.

It’s time to start evaluating all of our policies based on will they instill or dilute trust into our systems.

If we want to restore health, the first thing we’ll have to do is bring sanity to our election process. It can’t take 2 years to run for an office that only sits for 4 years at a time. We have to shorten the election cycle, totally revise the way that campaigns are funded, and build a new system from the ground up- to include voting by mail.

Once we have leaders who represent us, we may be able to start looking at rebuilding trust in our institutions and systems.
If we cut out the middleman that adds 35% overhead to health care costs for those that are insured- we may make a good start toward universal coverage.

It’s become apparent that what happens on Wall Street is directly connected to what happens on Main Street. Reducing volatility by requiring all investments over $50K in any company to be held for at least a year. Any corporation that uses stock options for compensation, must require that at no time is stock issued if the company cuts employment. It’s time to also create pay ratios. At no time may any public company pay anyone more than 100x the lowest paid salary. If you want to make the big money, you have to own the company, or have a controlling interest owned by a majority of the employees.

It’s also time to stop corporate welfare by government in the name of economic development. No more tax breaks for relocation, investment or job creation. While the next administration is talking about huge investments in green energy as a savior, the real key is energy independence through less consumption. Considerably less consumption. The only tax break should be for employees able to walk to work or take public transit to work.

A massive refocus on walkable communities, with the best, efficient public transit systems would be one of the best things we could invest in now. Task Detroit with building electric trains, trolleys and buses. Build high-speed rail between metropolitan areas. Invest in a complete rewiring of our info backbone, moving to gigabit speeds into every home- allowing more people to telecommute when possible.

We also need to simplify our taxation system and make it easier for small businesses to start and operate. The process of starting and running a business should be as simple as getting a drivers license- complete with a basic training course, a test and a license with special authorizations for specific skills. Small business is the engine that really drives our economy and employees the most people- yet, their voices are drowned out by the behemoths that get all the attention. If you want to really see the economy flourish, give private employers tax credits for each person they employee based on their salary as a percentage of the owners salary. Make it worth the small business persons energy to employ and train workers of tomorrow, with extra credits available for taking interns and recent graduates.

To address areas of historic poverty and under-investment, we need to incentivize investment in new ways. I had proposed long ago to allow unlimited H1B visas for employees who live and work within these federally designated “HUBzones.” In addition, we need to look to re-balancing populations, giving preference to States that have been losing population to entice new blood back to old cities.

Our education system has had a funding problem for years before the current financial meltdown. To move both our education system forward, and to level the playing field for retail, it’s time to introduce an Internet sales tax that is collected federally and disbursed locally per student. By simplifying the collection and distribution, and eliminating local tax levy’s, we may have enough money to properly fund our future leaders education. It’s also time to provide laptops for every student in the country, complete with open source operating systems and open source software as well as open source coursework. We need to move away from textbook based education- and proprietary standards for the greater good and to teach the value of shared knowledge as a basic human right.

These are radical systemic changes for a revolutionary rebirth of the United States of America in a time where nothing less than revolutionary change will work.

If we want to regain our position as a world power, instead of a debtor nation of consumers, we have to learn the old adage “You have to give up power to get power.”

It’s time to provide power back to the people- through a system we can trust again. One that puts basic, individual human rights ahead of the government, ahead of the corporations and is built on a platform so that it’s not in God we trust, but in US we trust. That would be change we can believe in.

Lafayette creates value for citizens: We have fountains that don’t work

I was thinking about how Dayton (macro) could be more competitive in recruiting people and business to the area. The talk about tearing down the truck plant makes no sense- at least until Tata Motors turns it down.

I thought back to the Riverscape Fountains- and how we could have spent the $3+ million on building state of the art playing fields on the Parkside homes site instead.

Or- if you are Lafayette Louisiana- building a fiber optic system to provide real speed to knowledge workers:

Lafayette, Louisiana yesterday revealed that it will soon become one of the first significant US cities to deploy a municipality-run fiber optic Internet connection. Lafayette Utilities System plans to launch the service with a combination of Internet, phone and TV services and will offer them either as part of bundles or as individual options. Internet service tops out as high as 50Mbps both downstream and upstream and will offer more bandwidth still for connections between users on the same network, doubling to 100Mbps.

Early service is expected to start next month and will see a basic 10Mbps symmetric Internet connection cost $29 per month; 30Mbps will cost $45 per month, while the top-end 50Mbps plan will cost $58 per month. Bundles, known as VIP deals, range from a starter $85 deal that includes 80 TV channels, 10Mbps data and phone service to a $200 Gold package that carries 250 regular stations, HD and premium stations, 50Mbps Internet access and unlimited long distance phone calling.

The rollout takes place over four major stages and should be completed by 2011, the utility firm says.

Lafayette’s fiber comes despite significant opposition to the deal and others like it in the US from cable and DSL providers Cox and AT&T, both of whom have publicly objected and are believed to have quietly funded private lawsuits attempting to thwart the plan for city-wide fiber.

via Electronista | Louisiana city offers 50Mbps fiber for $58.

The idea of a free Wi-Fi system died on the vine. If we want to be competitive, we have to come up with ways to differentiate Dayton from the rest of the country- and the current system of offering “economic development dollars” (corporate welfare) is dying as our tax supported checkbook is going into overdraft mode- thanks to short-sighted, paid-off politicians coming up with “silver bullet” style solutions to basic infrastructure problems.

No one is moving to Dayton because we have big fountains that don’t work.

It’s time to capitalize on things that do. High speed access equals a high speed business environment.

Time to speed things up.

Why “health insurance” should be outlawed.

Steal billions from shareholders, lie to regulators, overcharge customers and force doctors to work for pennies on the dollar. Yet, there is one person who benefits from this scheme that is helping bring our powerful employers to their knees- yep, the CEO of the insurance company.

Taking home $100 million dollar plus a year salaries, these modern-day pirates steal, cheat and lie their way to riches, while the rest of us are held powerless and at their mercy.

And even when getting caught red-handed, a few fines, no jail time and no shake up of a system that is killing our country and its economy faster than $4-a-gallon gas. Read the entire article to be totally outraged- but here is an excerpt:

In its suit, the SEC accused UnitedHealth of providing senior executives and other employees with in-the-money options while secretly backdating the grants to avoid reporting the expenses to investors.

“UnitedHealth engaged in a long-running scheme to hide over a billion dollars in executive compensation,” Linda Chatman Thomsen, director of the SEC’s Division of Enforcement, said in a statement. “By materially misstating these expenses for over a decade, UnitedHealth breached its duty to shareholders to accurately report its financial results.”

UnitedHealth (NYSE:UNH) said in a statement it has “substantially improved its governance, administrative processes and internal controls.”

A federal judge in Minneapolis last week gave preliminary approval for UnitedHealth to pay $895 million to settle a class-action shareholder lawsuit related to the scandal. Former CEO William McGuire is paying $30 million and Lubben is paying $500,000 to settle with shareholders.

The SEC last December reached a settlement with McGuire in which he agreed to pay a $7 million fine and repay about $448 million to UnitedHealth.

via UnitedHealth settles with SEC in stock scandal – Dayton Business Journal:.

Health insurance isn’t the same as health care- and the difference in price that you have to pay if you are uninsured vs insured is one of the greatest crimes against mankind. If this slap on the wrist approach by the SEC doesn’t outrage you- you must be dead already. It’s time to demand accountability from Congress- or to vote them out.

It’s time to pay for health care- not CEO salaries or bailing out stock swindelers. One price, one plan, one payer for all.

It’s also time to lock these criminals up and throw away the key. Health care should be a basic right.