The real reason Dayton can’t regionalize.

There is a great article on Good.is about “Identity theft for Cities” that I’ve been waiting to talk about (after my last debacle post about race and regionalism. Maybe this time- we can keep the comments on subject.)

If you look on a map of the globe- we’ll be lucky to see Dayton with a dot if we don’t get our act together as a region soon. As it is, no matter how much people in Kettering think their independent 911 system was a good idea, they won’t be on any map- if Dayton continues its slide.

The reality is, as the United States begins to realize that we can’t depend on the internal combustion engine as a key part of our economy, and as oil prices climb back up as they will- the ability to live close to work will increase in value. As will the ability to bring things to your community via cost-effective transportation (rail, ship). It’s no different than life before the car- cities popped up by rivers and later by railroads because of the efficiencies involved.

With global populations climbing, people will gravitate to the areas that are most dense. In fact, Stewart Brand (of the “Whole Earth Catalog” fame) has now started to believe that not only are cities the fundamentally the smartest thing we’ve done as a civilization- but, he sees a future in squatter cities (which may make even more sense than tearing down homes in Dayton).

We have to grow, but grow compactly, in order to be competitive. Regionalism is just one part of this equation:

Regionalism makes complete sense conceptually. Our economies, our natural systems, and our transportation systems are, indeed, regional and require a regional approach.

Regionalism can be relatively easy to impose in regions with big, dominant core cities, such as New York and Chicago. In those regions, everyone knows what’s powering the economic engine, and no one can risk killing it off. The dominant city is favored, as it should be, in regional decisions because it’s in everyone’s clear interest to do so.

(Of course, I’ve made it sound easier than it is. Inevitably, there are petty conflicts and a protection of narrow interests in most such negotiations.)

But in those regions with cities of equal size or with a weak central city, the conflicts are writ large. The conflicts are even sharper in regions with a history of racial and economic segregation. That’s challenge enough. The real problem comes when, in the name of regionalism, decision makers become place agnostic. In other words, they can’t favor any one place in the region for fear of offending every other place in the region. That translates into development anywhere in the region being labeled as good development. If a road is built in one part of the region, it must be equalized with a road in another part of the region. If a cultural facility is awarded to one place, the next sports facility should surely be built elsewhere.

via Identity Theft for Cities | GOOD.

If you’ve noticed something about everything we’ve done in the name of regionalism- how we seem to have to focus on equality. Somehow, we’ve gotten the mistaken idea that things have to balance- suburban vs. urban, rich vs. poor- when the real equation is the region vs. the world.

We’re not going to get to regionalism until someone has the balls to stand up to all the economic development types- all the small-thinking mayors, all the “regional development” people and say- the only thing that counts is “Dayton” – big picture- the dot on the globe, not the city of. And for that to happen, we’re going to have to start eliminating fiefdoms and work for a kingdom.

It’s not about being fair- it’s about being relevant. We’ll have to put away our pettiness for this to happen.

Yesterday’s video today

Due to upload delay- yesterday’s show is coming to you today. So, talking about the Mink reunion at Canal Street Tavern and the Gems game – well- that’s old news. Sorry- this program is still in Beta.

Greg Hunter and David Esrati share in a short, 6 minutes, discussion what to do in Dayton on the Friday after Thanksgiving, the Dayton City Paper and the Dayton Daily newsless- and why the suburban powerbrokers invest in core city politicians….

Enjoy. We’ll have today’s video up today.

Is the Dayton Daily News folding? Editor caught in questionable position!

Such a nice holiday present for the Dayton Gems professional hockey team from the worthless parasites at the Dayton Daily News, Front page “Are the Dayton Gems folding? B 1” and the headline, top of page on sports section “Gems owner fears IHL takeover.”

Considering the paper couldn’t get a story in the Thanksgiving day paper about the game that ended at 9:45 on Wednesday- it’s amazing they can get this “blockbuster” story in today’s post Turkey day paper with their limited staff.

Yep- it’s filed by “David DiCenzo” a “contributing writer”- and it wasn’t available online until- oh, around 9:30 am.

The whole article refutes the claim from the league. What rookie owner Richard Bruner feels he brings to the table by sharing an e-mail that suggests that the league may take action is questionable, unless he’s looking for an excuse to scare investors off- and have a way to blame the Dayton Daily News if the rumors turn out to be true.

Sports marketing isn’t easy, especially on a shoestring budget. Many owners make the mistake of looking at UD Basketball or the Dayton Dragons and believe that they, too, can fill a house with fans. What they miss out is that both organizations have deep pockets. top-notch professional management, and unique customized facilities.

UD Arena was built for basketball. With it’s saddle-roof design that brings the roof down low over the court- it makes for a noisy building- with all the attention focused on the game. It’s the only facility I’ve been in that actually prevents people on one side in the nosebleed seats from seeing those sitting in pauperdom across the court from them.

The Dragons field is as near best-in-class as they come. Even the concessions are top-notch (even though staffed by “volunteers” instead of tax-paying employees). They effectively forced UD to up its game in decor and food service.

The Dayton Daily News apparently now also is home to the gurus of sports marketing- because they had the nerve to suggest that WSU drop their Division 1 men’s basketball ticket price to $5 today. Considering that Men’s basketball funds the rest of the athletic department, a move like this would destroy the program. Even with sellouts every game, the $50K raised wouldn’t be enough to field a team. Plus, when your ticket price is that low, attending has no real meaning- “Honey, it’s snowing, we’ll skip the game- it’s only $20.” It’s a lesson that the Gems need to learn as well- with $5 tickets, free parking and $1 beer, the house was still more empty than full on Wednesday night.

Let’s get back to the Dayton Daily News folding- the headline of this article- yep, they fold the paper every day- otherwise it would be too big and flat to fit in their newspaper boxes. As to the editor being caught in a questionable position- we’ll see where this Gems story ends up.

But, I have a suggestion for the paper- since readership is dropping so much, maybe they start giving away the paper every day and see if they can make it up on volume…. sounds like a great business strategy, don’t you think?

Give thanks that Dayton is broke- or they’d waste more tax dollars

The business of running a city is simple- provide infrastructure and shared community services to the citizens of the city. However, Dayton likes to believe that they are investment bankers. From today’s Dayton Daily News:

“We want to support companies that are growing. We want to support winners,” City Manager Tim Riordan said.

The Dayton City Commission, on Wednesday, Nov. 25, continued 2010 budget planning with presentations from the Office of Economic Development and the Department of Planning and Community Development.

Riordan rolled out the process last week by announcing the most controversial of all proposed cuts including 66 layoffs, fee hikes and service reductions.

Over the next three weeks, department directors and senior staff will fill in details of how those cuts will impact citizens and services.

Shelley Dickstein, assistant city manager for strategic development, outlined potential need of $14.5 million Development Fund spending next year to provide assistance to businesses, land development, grant matches, also continued work on TechTown and downtown.

Proposed allocation for the Development Fund: $4.3 million.

via Dayton commissioners continue 2010 budget planning.

So, while cutting 66 people who deliver services, raising fees and cutting services, we can have more money to “support winners.” The losers are of course the taxpayers who are supposed to continue to provide monopoly money out of their hard-earned wages so Ms. Dickstein and company can continue to “provide assistance to business”- like she did at Wayne and Wyoming for Kroger- a several million dollar debacle that brought us goose-egg.

However, if we instead didn’t give Ms. Dickstein her play money- or her job, and instead focused on top-notch delivery of infrastructure and services, maybe businesses would invest here all by themselves? Or is Dayton so undesirable that we have to pay for people to come here? And how did we get that way? Failure to focus on what we’re supposed to provide- good schools, safe neighborhoods, affordable buildings and a competitive tax rate (do you think one of the reasons Reynolds & Reynolds moved to Kettering was to cut their income tax rate from 2.25 to 1.75% – maybe, just maybe? When you are making millions a year as you run the company into the ground- that was serious change in ‘ol Finbar’s pocket).

In another story, the City wants to hand over another $100K to the Dayton Development Coalition for marketing:

The city’s Office of Economic Development, over two years, will spend $100,000 to refine and implement a strategy to establish Dayton as an Aerospace Hub of Innovation.

The Dayton City Commission, on Wednesday, Nov. 25, voted to approve a two-year contract with the Dayton Development Coalition to assist the city with that effort.

via Dayton to spend $100,000 to help establish city as aerospace hub.

These are the same people who came up with “Get Midwest” on a no-bid contract to a Congressman’s wife. Do you think maybe we should check out their books a little more closely, before handing them some more money. I’m pretty sure someone is looking into the DDC- but they are from the Federal Government, and they carry badges.

If the City of Dayton stopped all of it’s “economic development” activity, do you really think businesses would stop locating here? And how is it fair, to hand out tax dollars to some businesses, while not to others? At some point, I’m pretty sure this is what explains huge campaign contributions- like Rhine McLin received, despite facing a challenger who was raising relatively nothing. It surely hasn’t delivered us more jobs, or a winning track record. Nope, looking around, every single community to the East and South of Dayton seems to be doing much better at it- where there are neighborhood schools and the homicide rate isn’t 40x higher (that most of the killings are by career criminals of other criminals- isn’t Dayton’s fault- but, no one wants to talk seriously about County Prosecutor Mat Heck and his abysmal performance).

All we want to do is buy our way to happiness- while facing a $20 million deficit. But, this isn’t new- read this quote from the best City Manager not to last a year in Dayton from 1995:

In 1995, then-City Manager Bill Estabrook in a Dayton Daily News article called the executive savings plan “a golden parachute — a very rich plan for a city that’s poor.”

via Large payouts to execs put strain on city budget.

Maybe we wouldn’t be poor, if we weren’t so poorly run. City Hall isn’t where to work if you want to be an investment banker. It’s time we sent a few of these “economic development” charlatans packing before we stop fixing our streets, or plowing snow- or have we forgotten that when the snow doesn’t get plowed- there is no economic development?

Thanksgiving Day video: The Turkey Trot

We both ran the Turkey Trot in Miamisburg this morning. I was an official runner- Greg ran “bandit”- registrations closed on the 5 mile run a few days ago, at 6,700.
My official time is now up: 47:50 which means I ran under 10 minute miles- not bad considering my right ankle looked like a football on Tuesday night.
Just another great thing to do when you live in Dayton.
This is a short one (thankfully) and covers the Dayton Gems- whom I watched lose last night (no mention of the game in the Dayton Daily), Hara Arena (and the gun and knife show).
Enjoy.

Happy Thanksgiving

The Dayton executive pay scandal, over coffee

Well, here it is- the second video. We’re learning- but now- we cropped it a little close, and talked too long. David Esrati and Greg Hunter discussing the breakthrough journalism of Joanne Huist Smith at the Dayton Daily News as she uncovers yet another reason taxpayers should be questioning cuts in services:

For three decades, city executives accumulated credit hours through an Executive Savings Plan they could cash in when leaving the city.

Former City Manager Rashad Young walked away with $58,894 when he resigned in October to take a job in North Carolina. His predecessor, James Dinneen, cashed in twice — $125,465 when he first retired in 2005, and $10,582 after he quit a second time in 2006.

Since 2005, the city has made just over $1 million in cash payouts from the plan to 17 employees who retired, quit or were fired.

via City suspends plan allowing execs to stockpile credits for cash.

The comments on the DDN piece have some more nuggets of excess- like the city paying for the parking of managers in the City Hall Garage – while charging the working folks (nice job).

Here is our morning video:

Enjoy.

Your Dayton Morning Coffee show….

I’m not promising anything, but this morning, Greg Hunter and I sat down (I’m on the right) and had a chat about the issues of the day in Dayton. We’re going to try to do these daily.

We’ll see how we do. A lot depends on views. Today we talked about the retroactive raise given to Rashad Young by Rhine McLin without 2 other signatures of Commissioners. You can read about it in last night’s post (with interesting comments).

We’re putting a face on the blog. Granted, I’d rather be at the Board of Elections getting video of their secret redistricting plan for Montgomery County.

Greg gives what amounts to a monologue at the beginning- but, then it picks up. We’re not professionals, but- hopefully we’ll get better.

Enjoy.