Robbing a lot of Peters to pay… Steve Jobs

Tax breaks as “economic development” tools is a smoke and mirrors expression for making the rich richer, and the poor poorer.

If there is one thing that needs to be changed nationally, it’s the outlawing of all tax breaks for business by any state or local agency for the purpose of relocation assistance. In other words, the only tax breaks offered should be ones that keep the playing field level.

A textbook example of why this needs to happen is the current situation with Apple. North Carolina is changing its laws to give the computer and iPod maker $46 million over the next ten years to attract a server farm that will employ only 100 people.

In the meantime, Apple is far from struggling, with a cool $25.01 billion cash on hand. This isn’t about having the infrastructure, the people, the quality of life- this is just flat out extortion, taking money from a state suffering from high unemployment, and giving it to a wealthy corporation. Sort of like paying the good-looking popular guy to take the ugly girl to the prom. This has become standard operating procedure in North Carolina, according to the article, since the lawmakers did it last year to woo Google, a company with a mere $17.78 Billion in cash.

RALEIGH, N.C.—North Carolina lawmakers are pushing to give Apple Inc. a multi-million dollar tax break should the company bring an East Coast computer server farm to the state—an estimated $1 billion investment, according to a state official with knowledge of the recruitment efforts…

While it has been known that North Carolina lawmakers were working on changing tax rules to benefit one company, the name of the outfit has been kept secret. The state official said Catawba and Cleveland counties are potential sites.

The tax changes would affect the way corporate income taxes are calculated by giving breaks to companies with a relatively small share of U.S. sales in North Carolina but which have large shares of their nationwide property and payroll in the state.

The House Finance Committee on Thursday altered the proposed tax change so companies could qualify only if they locate in one of North Carolina’s poorest counties, provide health insurance, meet a wage standard, and forgo other state grants or tax breaks.

“The bill ensures it’s going to go to an area of high unemployment. This reflects concerns many of us have had about economic development policy, that priority should be given to the neediest counties,” committee chairman Rep. Paul Luebke, D-Durham, said Friday.

The tax breaks could be worth about $46 million in the next decade, assuming the company reaches its $1 billion investment target within nine years of starting, according to a memo by legislative fiscal staffers that does not identify the company. The memo said no current company meets the criteria to receive the tax break and the Commerce Department knows of just one with the potential to qualify.

“It’s very specific to this project,” Luebke said of the tax breaks.

The conditions adopted Thursday, if approved by both legislative chambers and the governor, would push the project from the state’s urbanized corridor connecting Raleigh to Greensboro and Charlotte. In 2007, Google Inc. committed to spending $600 million for a server farm near Lenoir in the western North Carolina foothills. It opened last year.

State and local governments offered Google an incentive package worth up to $260 million over 30 years, one of the largest incentives packages in state history, to land the data complex. If the Apple project also remained active for 30 years, its server farm could save more than $300 million on its corporate taxes, based on legislative staffers’ estimates that the tax break would mean a savings of $3 million from 2011 to 2018, and then $12.5 million each year after that.

Google, Microsoft and other technology giants have responded to booming Internet use by building server farms: huge, climate-controlled computer warehouses that can store enormous amounts of information and process vast flows of data. They are heavy users of power and water and are usually spread over large spaces.

Though the Apple site is initially expected to employ fewer than 100 full-time workers, legislators said the potential prize was so juicy it justified changing the state’s corporate tax formula to benefit a single company. North Carolina’s unemployment rate remained at 10.8 percent in April, marking a third-straight month it was in the double-digits, the state Employment Security Commission reported Friday. Four non-urban counties have unemployment rates of more than 16 percent.

“Given our economic situation in this state, with the rising unemployment, this really is critical,” said Rep. Jennifer Weiss, D-Wake, before the committee approved the bill and its changes.

The bill, which passed the Senate earlier this month, is scheduled for a vote by the full House on Tuesday.

via Official: NC considers Apple for massive tax break |

While the right wing cries a river over the “socialization” of the banking industry, the bailout of AIG and other insurance firms, the takeovers of GM and Chrysler, there is very little screaming going on about corporate welfare. This is because the very same politicians depend on corporate donors to raise huge amounts of money to fund their monumental campaign expenses.

Until we fix campaign finance, it’s unlikely we’ll stop corporate welfare.

Steve Jobs and Apple are doing what’s best for the company, but far from what’s best for the American people. When Apple began production of the Macintosh, Steve was proudly showing off his state-of-the-art manufacturing plant in Fremont, California (the same place that GM and Toyota were later to join forces to make the Toyota Corolla and the Geo Prizm).

Now Apple mostly subcontracts companies in China to build computers—and some Macs are “final assembly in USA.” As far as can be told, the last US Apple plants were closed in 2004.

Although it’s unlikely that I’ll be able to change this policy of buying jobs with your tax dollars, it’s my plan, if elected to do everything possible, to lobby, embarrass and educate anyone who will listen about the need to end this major screwing of the taxpaying public.

The guiding principle should be, the greatest good for the greatest number.

This North Carolina deal is good for Apple and a screwing of every American worker who used to work in manufacturing in this country. In fact, there should be laws forbidding tax breaks to any company that eliminates American manufacturing jobs for offshore labor. It’s also screwing every taxpayer in North Carolina- who expected services from government for their taxes paid, not to subsidize another corporate jet for Steve Jobs.

What do you think of tax incentives for relocation? Note that Mead abandoned Courthouse Square as its 20-year tax abatement ran out, and Iams/P&G is leaving Vandalia with an empty building while still enjoying a tax abatement that hasn’t run its course. GM shut down Truck and Bus, despite our investment in its new paint line via tax abatements- and now refuses to let anyone else build vehicles in it.

Your thoughts?

So much for financial aid in Ohio.

A friend forwarded me the following e-mail from the State.

Click on the first three links- and the programs are being discontinued.

Dear FAFSA Filer:

The Ohio General Assembly is currently debating the biennial budget bill that will appropriate state funds for the next two years. An important part of this bill and this debate involves the recommendations offered by the Chancellor of the Ohio Board of Regents based on his vision and priorities for higher education in this state.

As such, there could be some major changes to many of our state grants and scholarships programs that will affect both new and returning students.

Even though final details on all of these changes will not be available until after the budget is signed into law in late June, we want to provide students, families and schools with as much information as possible for planning purposes. Below are several links to our program websites that contain more details. Replies to this e-mail will not be received. Rather, if you would like to submit a comment or question, you can do so electronically at any of the following links:

Ohio Academic Scholarship

Regents Graduate Fellowship

Ohio Student Choice Program

Ohio College Opportunity Grant

Non-Public Need-Based Block Grant (proposal to replace the Ohio College Opportunity Grant at private institutions)
State Grants and Scholarships Staff
Ohio Board of Regents

But, remember, it is possible to get at least one year of an associate’s degree paid for while you are in prison.

Go figure.

What do the elevator attendants do in the information age?

I had all kinds of ideas for a really insightful post about building codes, redevelopment and the relative value of buildings empty or full brewing in my head yesterday inspired by the post on Dayton Most Metro: “Restrooms, Elevators and Sprinklers- Oh My!”

Then life took me on a different path.

My tenant of 6 years moved out over the weekend with help from her family. She lost her job as a cytologist back in September. A cytologist, for those of you not in the high-tech medical field- prepared and examined pap smears under a microscope to detect cancer. Yes, it’s another field that computers will soon make obsolete, but for now, it’s still a critical skill. She’d been doing it for at least 18 years. It’s a quota job- examine X per day, with a 95%+ correct rate and all is good.

Except she is mentally ill, and once she lost her job due to a bout with her illness, she was unable to get back up and back to work. In fact, she was unable to do much. Answering the door, the phone, using an answering machine- all critical job seeking skills, were beyond her ability. Note, she also had a bachelor’s degree in psychology. It’s not like we’re dealing with someone with limited intelligence.

A case worker could have done a lot to stop her from going from a contributing member of society to a burden, however, our health-care system is more like buying protection from serious injury by the mob (the insurers) than actually having access to basic, pro-active, preventive medicine. But we do have insurance company CEOs making $144 million in a year.

This piece won’t make sense to many people younger than me. They don’t know what an elevator attendant is. The only place I know where one still exists is in Mendelsons Liquidation Outlet, where rather than putting in modern elevators, Mr. Mendelson opted to pay someone minimum wage to run his old elevator with a manual lever for stopping on each floor- and opening and closing the old doors. Over time, the elevators would have been cheaper to replace- but that job will never exist again.

We’ve done as much as we can to eliminate work suited for the less fortunate, or jobs that suck. We don’t bend over and pick cotton anymore. We still need people to pick fruit- but, few Americans do it- even in America.

When it comes to finding jobs that pay for those who are mentally, physically or challenged by circumstance, there are few jobs left. Sure, you can become a janitor/cleaning person, but this doesn’t have aspirational appeal in our collective “American Dream.”

In what may seem like a total disconnect, my thinking heads to ways to reach that dream. In America we lionize the lucky. We still believe that through hard work, anything is possible, when in fact, hard work alone is not enough anymore for many, because we’ve found it easier to off-shore it.

It’s one of the reasons selling drugs is one of the last bastions of hope for the downtrodden. It’s why there is an illicit drug market- how better to escape reality than taking a trip without having to go anywhere for less than $20 for some crack or smack.

No one in “economic development” likes to admit it, but the reason so many jobs have left this country is because survival in China and India and other, less fortunate places than America is linked to doing jobs that allow people to reach their aspirational existence, even if their dream may only be to eat and have shelter. We’ve stopped caring about those people in this country, unless it directly affects someone we are related to, or you are one of those who still has a soul.

As long as we can get it cheaper at WalMart, all is good.

It’s the people with a soul who still think about it. Prompted by a discussion with his pastor, one of those living the American Dream was having an internal debate about the gap between the rich and poor. He was trying to justify his lavish life through the knowledge that he was creating jobs. I follow him on twitter @larryvc and his tweet was:

Blog post: On The Disparity Between Rich and Poor. Hope I don’t regret this one! » link to On The Disparity Between Rich and Poor « Thinking About Thinking

“I hope I don’t regret this one.”

Do you think drug dealers have similar thoughts? Self-examination by the Wall Street crowd is healthy, however, second-guessing life on the street is deadly. We’ve created a system of extremes, and now, we’ll suffer the consequences.

No matter how successful a VC or Wall Street maven is, the disconnect from the rest of society will end up affecting them. Because jobs aren’t the answer to everything, but they sure do make a difference for everyone.

We can’t all be knowledge workers in the “creative class.” And as smart as we think we are, we still need to give people something productive to do, even if it is inefficient. We need a way that everyone can participate, even if they are elevator attendants. I hear cries of socialism, but, when you balance in the costs to society, which is more inefficient, paying for prisons or life-saving measures on a gang shooting, or paying people to operate a metaphorical elevator?

Think about it next time you push a button to go up or down, you’ve contributed to our collective problem.

Have a happy Memorial Day. Thank our veterans for giving us the opportunity to create jobs in Germany, Japan, Italy, Korea, Vietnam and now in Afghanistan and Iraq. From a veteran who obviously has issues with what we’ve done in our country for our own people.

For $24.66, the State will threaten to take your home.

This story on WCPO TV is worth watching. An old guy (a friend’s step-father) hits a broken road reflector in the road, gets a flat, spends $25 to file a claim for the $89 tire – and then the State spends at least hundreds of dollars to deny the claim, and then bills him for the postage and investigation (a whopping $24.66). When he ignores the invoice, thinking he’d cut his losses- and not pay to appeal, the Ohio AG sends threatening letters:

The final notice came from Ohio’s Attorney General demanding full payment within seven days, or the state would go after his “wages and bank accounts.” The letter also said, “a sheriff’s sale of your personal property may be held, and a foreclosure action against any real estate owned by you may be initiated.”

Holden was amazed the state was threatening to seize his farmhouse over a $24.66 bill, but he took that threat seriously.

Man Gets Flat Tire, State Threatens Foreclosure – Cincinnati breaking news, weather radar, traffic f.

You have to watch the video to see the piles of paper the State sent. A fifteen page report- to deny a claim for $89.

The insanity continues beyond this case, in that the State repaved the road and installed the same 6lb reflectors which have been known to seriously injure people instead of installing the new lightweight units made of plastic.

I’ve experienced the same thing on payment of sales tax, where the State decided to estimate my business’s collection of sales tax and then tacked on $1,500 fines when I didn’t pay from their estimate (most of what we do is tax exempt since it falls under advertising expenses which aren’t taxed).

I’ve also been threatened by the Ohio Elections Commission for failure to file their proper campaign reports- which make no sense to a normal person, since they are designed so politicians can hide where the money comes from. Just reporting where you got the money and where you spent it would be too easy.

Bureaucrats breed bureaucracy. Unfortunately, our elected leaders are afraid to hold them accountable for their failing business practices. How else can we explain Ohio’s population losses?

This case is a perfect example of why we need to reform government.

Building codes, sprawl and value.

Bill Pote over at Dayton Most Metro has a long post and a small comment debate going on about how restrictive building codes and over-the-top requirements are making redevelopment severely expensive at the cost of much of our existing infrastructure- and empowering sprawl. He asks:

But have we made these codes so restrictive that we’ve destroyed any good chance of bringing our long-vacant downtown buildings back to life? Is there any room for some flexibility and compromises that still ensure proper safety AND make it cost-effective to redevelop and re-inhabit our downtown buildings?

via Restrooms, Elevators and Sprinklers – Oh My! | Dayton MostMetro.

I’ve asked the same question for a long time (search old posts).

There is no doubt in my mind that many of the codes have been pushed through legislation by the building trades. Other rules come from the Americans with Disabilities Act, fire safety, environmental rulings (no more incinerators in homes like the one I grew up in). Many are well intended and good. As Pote points out: “I suppose we could just say to hell with handicapped folks and just make downtown a handicapped-free zone, but that would ensure Dayton’s position on Forbes’ list of the Top Ten Asshole Cities.”

Some cities realized that redevelopment will never take place if there are unlimited growth opportunities through sprawl. These were forward thinkers. Portland, Oregon, said that the city wouldn’t keep extending services and infrastructure outside a boundary years ago. Imagine if Springboro was still farmland and all those school kids who can’t get a levy passed, were still living in Dayton or Kettering?

Is it too late to stop sprawl as we build the Austin Pike interchange? At what point will we draw the line? The population of the region hasn’t grown at the same rate as our consumption of space, and that’s why we’re being sucked dry to afford all this new “development” which just becomes more to support with taxes? Should we implement a zero square footage gain rule? You can’t build new, unless you take X square footage out of the inventory? It might stop the reckless overbuilding of retail we seem to have, and of office space. Call is a cap and trade system for real estate.

Getting back to our existing inventory downtown. How much vacant space do we have? If you believe the survey, it’s around 30%, however, I bet it’s higher because some space has been out of the inventory for so long it’s not even counted. We also still define “downtown” as a very small area, which also skews the numbers. Why is it so important to fill this space back up? Why shouldn’t it be OK to build your corporate HQ in a former cornfield like Reynolds & Reynolds or Teradata instead of being downtown?

As long as everyone is going to continue to be car dependent and drive to work anyway, why would it matter if their destination is Springboro or Downtown? On first glance it shouldn’t matter, in fact, by sending all these people in different directions should relieve congestion since we aren’t all trying to get to the same place at once, right? Wrong. The existing infrastructure was built to concentrate large numbers of people downtown. When I moved to Dayton, Fairfield Road was 2 lanes and there were cow pastures where hotels and office building sit across from Wright State. Now we have 6- and 8-lane roads, yet our population hasn’t increased at all. You and I paid for all that, and we’re also paying for the vacant buildings we left behind, since they still require police and fire protection, and all the other municipal services.

Think of it as having your family stay the same size, your income staying the same size, yet having to pay to maintain 3x the space and automobiles that you had 20 years ago. Hello.

So when it comes to all the additional costs to bring old buildings up to date, from sprinklers to ADA, the real question becomes, is a building more of a burden to society empty or gone? Unfortunately, we’ve been creating empties for so long, it’s become almost impossible with the glut of space, to make the numbers work even without relaxed building codes. The variable that ultimately will save Downtown is the price of gas. When it becomes so expensive to drive, we’ll be forced back to concentrate where our infrastructure was built to support. But only if we don’t make it so expensive to bring the old buildings back. We do have one ace in the hole long term- if global warming does indeed raise ocean levels, one day, Manhattan will be under water, and office space in Dayton will look really good. So keep driving and burning fossil fuels- in the long run, it may be our salvation.

Free speech is never free. Sinclair botches it.

I remember having to listen to various campus “preachers” at Wright State screaming at the top of their lungs about sin and damnation. Many overstepped their bounds. I remember one guy who liked to point at women dressed “provocatively” and yell “prostitute.” Needless to say- these people were a nuisance, they disturbed the peace and on one occasion, I remember one ending up in the moat “accidentally.”

These individuals, while expressing their rights of free speech, were doing so at the expense of others’ ability to study, enjoy the quad or to relax in a public place. The way to deal with them is to trespass them off for disturbing the peace. However, if they keep it down, and don’t force themselves or their literature on anyone- they should have every right to discuss anything they want from Scientology to Wicca.

Unfortunately, Sinclair seems to have decided it is above the First Amendment, and is trying to regulate the ability to speak on campus:

Four people were arrested and one was given a citation Wednesday, May 20, after a demonstration at Sinclair Community College got out of hand.

Charles Gift, director of public safety for Sinclair Community College, said campus police received a call about noon from a student who said demonstrators were disturbing her.

Officers spoke to the group, Faithful Soldier School of Evangelism, a ministry of Mercy Seat Christian Church in Milwaukee, Wis.

“Sinclair has set procedures for anyone who wants to speak on campus,” Gift said Wednesday night. “It is a public campus and we welcome anyone who wants to come and speak. All they have to do is follow the procedure.”

Gift said two members of the group were disorderly when they were told they could stay on campus if they got rid of their signs and did not distribute literature unless someone asked for it.

The two, a male and a female, were arrested.

via Demonstration at Sinclair ends in 4 arrests.

Of course, there is more to this story than what appears here, but no one is ever required to hand over a video recording device on demand:

According to Gift, the officer — who was not identified by name — noticed that a female in the group was recording the incident on either a camera phone or video camera.

The officer asked her for the device so a copy of the incident could be made, Gift said. She ran, hiding behind another male in the group. Both the female and male refused to turn over the device and, according to Gift, the man punched the officer in the face. (ibid)

This will be an expensive jaunt through the courts for both sides, when all could have been avoided with a little research on the subject of “campus speaking procedures” which have failed almost every time when tested in courts.

The real question is, what is Sinclair afraid of? What can anyone say that is truly that dangerous to the public? I witnessed much more vitriol at the “Dayton Tea Party” than I’ve ever seen from a campus preacher.

From the Dayton Tea Party: "Hitler gave great speeches"

From the Dayton Tea Party: "Hitler gave great speeches"

Institutions of higher learning should be bastions for free speech in this country, at least if we ever hope to aspire to the lofty expectations of the founding fathers.

If Sinclair were smart, it would try to work out a compromise immediately in exchange for no lawsuits and acknowledge that a misunderstanding took place and escalated by mistake of both parties. Let’s get back to educating and open discussion of issues. Another test case won’t do anyone any good.

A different standard for the Party Faithful

Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray is playing favorites, handing a potentially lucrative class action lawsuit over to former Montgomery County Democratic Party Chairman Dennis Lieberman’s law firm.

Lieberman is also the husband of Montgomery County Commissioner, Debbie Lieberman.

Right now, Lieberman is facing $132,565 in federal tax liens.

Which makes me go hmmm?

Right now there is an RFP out to redo the website for Greater Dayton RTA. In the overly complex and crazy way government puts out a request, there is a clause that states:

2.  Personal Property Tax Affidavit, page 67 – In the center of the form, please complete whether the bidder was or was no (sic) charged with delinquent personal property taxes.  This form must be notarized.

So you can’t bid on a sub $90K  RTA project without declaring tax issues, but you can be given a potentially multi-million dollar deal if you are a good Democrat.

What’s even more questionable about this whole thing is,

Columbia University law professor John Coffee, an expert in securities litigation, said the Bank of America case is a candidate to crack the top 10 list of biggest securities cases — all of which have settled for $1 billion or more and generated millions of dollars in legal fees…

Coffee said since the Bank of America case is filed in New York, “there is absolutely no reason that would require an Ohio counsel to be present in this action.”

Cordray countered that it’s “logistically sensible” to have an Ohio-based firm help with discovery, depositions and documents.

“Having an Ohio-based firm be part of the mix makes us feel more comfortable that we have eyes and ears on what’s going on,” Cordray said. “And someone that we may have been involved with, as in this case, for many years is preferable in terms of handling the litigation.”

via Huge windfall possible for local law firm in securities fraud case.

Considering Lieberman’s firm is by no means a heavy hitter in this kind of case, the whole thing stinks even worse:

Cordray said while Lieberman is known as a criminal defense attorney, he and his firm have done special counsel work for the state attorney general’s office for 25 years, including debt collection and suing pharmaceutical companies over how prescription drugs are priced. (ibid)

If Cordray was serious about having this case handled by an expert local firm, Waite. Schneider. Bayless & Chesley in Cincinnati is probably one of the top firms in the country at doing these type of cases. Stan Chesley (also a huge Democratic Party supporter, at the national level) is known as the father of the class action lawsuit from his groundbreaking work on the Beverly Hills Supper Club fire in Southgate, Kentucky.

What the Dayton Daily News doesn’t make totally clear, is that these types of lawsuits require huge investments by the attorneys in preparing and following through with these types of cases which can take 20 years to settle. Typically, a firm’s capitalization is a major question in its ability to perform. If Lieberman can’t pay his taxes, how can he afford to work on a major case for years with no guarantee of a payoff?

It’s time to investigate Richard Cordray.

Is there about to be a water war in Dayton?

Our water source is a huge aquifer underneath Dayton. We have so much good, potable water that we even pump millions of gallons of it in the air every hour at Riverscape. But, a source told me today that Montgomery County and the City of Dayton have reopened the water contract and things could get interesting, soon.

The contract that’s in place wasn’t due to be renegotiated until 2016. The county has been threatening to build its own well field at Crane’s Run for years. The last deal put that proposed plant to sleep, however, in an attempt to “save” money, the county may be threatening to build it again so as to renegotiate rates. This is coming when Dayton is looking at a huge surplus of capacity supply with closing of Delphi plants and a cutback at Cargill – two of the largest industrial users.

The Dayton Water Department is also getting merged into public works, and the water department budget thrown in under the General fund. While this all sounds like accounting moves, it’s important because up until now, the water department had its own Profit and Loss responsibilities, and has always run in the black.

Water shouldn’t be a bargaining chip, it is a community asset. However, if we are ever to see a move to UniGov, it’s the one bargaining chip that Dayton can’t afford to lose before we belly up to the regional government discussions.

If anyone has further information on this, feel free to share.

May I introduce you to great writing? An endorsement.

A while back I wrote a post about Heather Walker and how she ended up dead in a trash can. It wasn’t one of Dayton’s shining moments. It was a story of how a community had failed a child, where the police didn’t even deem her disappearance worthy of an investigation until the body had started to rot.

Today we still have no answer on who killed Heather Walker specifically, although we should all feel a little responsible for her death.

A comment on that post introduced me to an incredible journalist. Something that this town sorely lacks. Larkin Vonalt has a moniker as rare as an Esrati, with as many people assuming that Larkin is a he, as they assume me to be Italian. Her writing is a gift. If you need proof, read her post on Heather Walker:

I appreciate being around smart people. I try to collect them as my friends. And while I consider Larkin to be both, I’ll say that I believe her journalistic integrity would stop her from writing an endorsement of me if she felt it would compromise her art. I’ve read endorsements before, and I’ve sat through the interview process.

This isn’t the kind of endorsement you read and just go with the flow, this is one that makes you smarter, makes you think, and may actually sway a few people both ways. I know I’m not perfect, but, when it comes to writing, this endorsement may be the best thing you’ll read today.

Here is the set-up to the part about my campaign.

This is how David Esrati works. He wants to fix things. In ad agency parlance, he’d be The Idea Man. He has a keen sense for what might not be working quite as well as it could, and he has ideas, not just for better widgets, but for better schools, better economies, better government. But we are getting ahead of ourselves here. First to address the matter at hand:

David Esrati is running for City Commission.

via The Thinking Man « a thousand days.

I suggest you read some of her other posts and add her to your feed reader. After reading most of what passes for writing online, it’s nice to be reminded of what the bar should be. Larkin has been nominated for a Pulitzer at least once. She is one of the many things about Dayton of which we should be proud. We are a community rich in talent, except in who we choose to lead us.

Maybe this election day, we’ll move the needle just a bit in the right direction and start our journey toward a healthy community.

Feel free to comment on both sites.

Ten Living Cities. Another big idea breakfast presentation

If life gives you lemons, it’s time to go into the lemonade business.

When Forbes calls you dead- it’s time to show them a thing or two:

Looking to prove that nothing could be further from the truth, and timed to celebrate the article’s 1st anniversary, the Ten Living Cities Symposium and Arts Festival is the brainchild of Peter Benkendorf, executive director of Involvement Advocacy, and Mike Elsass, owner of Color of Energy Gallery, both of Dayton.

Taking a page from Woodstock, Benkendorf and Elsass have declared August 7 -9, 2009 as “Three Days of Ideas and Inspiration,” in an effort to bring together artists and activists, community leaders and organizers, and civic-minded people from the 10 cities. Having concluded that there are amazing people doing amazing things in Dayton, imagine the possibilities if that power were multiplied by 10!

via Symposium and Arts Festival: Celebrating the Human Spirit.

Although I question the value of spending time dwelling on something that’s already been forgotten everywhere other than the 10 cities on the list, if it makes people feel good- go for it.

My feeling is it’s better to concentrate on things we can achieve quickly and efficiently that get us some positive reaction: the Dayton Bcycle project would be ideal. Frankly, I don’t care about the other 9 cities on the list- I just care about Dayton. Sure, we might put our collective heads together and come up with some ideas, however, we do enough of that around here. I’d rather spend the time on action.