Why you should sign my petition

We live in a supposed democracy. Except- when the cost of running becomes too high- we start to get people beholden to their supporters- or some other organization that is backing them.

It doesn’t matter who gets on the ballot- what matters is that you have a choice. No choice- why bother even holding elections.That’s why I’m circulating Mark Manovich’s petitions along with my own today. It’s important to have primaries- and have a choice.

Dayton City Commission elections are set up to keep people off the ballot. Besides having the required number of signatures being 10x that to run for Congress- the partisan Board of Elections does everything they can to disqualify signatures.

When I come to your door- or one of my supporters, it’s so you can have a choice- even if it is to vote against me.

So sign- or you may as well just give up your right to vote- because, in this town- the candidates are still chosen in a back room without your input anyway.

To the lady who told me she was supporting “who we have”- I asked her to name one piece of legislation that Matt Joseph had introduced in 7 years. She came up with him going on a junket to commemorate the Bosnian Peace Accords signing- that’s not legislation.

Go look at his website- I’m sure you’ll get a feel for his deep thinking: http://www.mattjoseph.com/

I can’t find a site for Lovelace.


Gas prices got you down? Solutions to our oil addiction

Gas shot up this week because another country with a huge spread between its haves and its have nots decided to try to equalize things by having a little revolution. Libya produces around 2% of the world’s oil- and very little of it reaches the U.S.- but, we’re going to pay, and pay, and pay.

I’ve said before that while everyone blames the banking industry for the financial meltdown- with their slimy secondary market junk paper- the final nail in the coffin was gas at $4 a gallon. If you believe in a “double-dip” recession- get ready for a second bottom falling out- as gas prices continue to skyrocket- thanks in large part to speculators playing games with futures.

Of course, the federal government refuses to start forcing people who trade on commodity markets to actually  trade only in what they will actually buy and take delivery of (that would be too sensible)- and we’ve already decided that mass transit and high-speed rail are not good investments- instead pouring billions of “stimulus money” into roads so the few remaining rich people in this country can drive their luxury cars in luxury.

Once again, I bring up the change that Ohio could make to its motor vehicle licensing laws- and exempt 50cc scooters from any special licensing:

In many states (note, I can find a definitive list for mopeds, but not for scooters) two-wheel vehicles under 50cc don’t require anything but a valid driver’s license – and if they have pedals, may not require a license at all if they can’t go over 30 mph.

In Ohio we’ll allow a 14- or 15-year-old on the road with a moped- with a “probationary license.” Yet, we don’t require a motorcycle helmet or completion of a motorcycle-safety course for adults, we require a motorcycle license to ride anything without pedals. This adds a level of bureaucracy that severely hampers sales of the most energy-efficient scooter- the 50 cc- which all get over 90 m.pg.. Buyers realize that if they have to get a license- they may as well opt for a 125cc or larger scooter.

It also changes insurance costs- lumping the two types together in one category- motorcycle.

It’s time to make a uniform law across the nation that allows 50cc scooters to be ridden by any adult with a valid driver’s license with a helmet to encourage use of these energy-efficient vehicles.

The quickest and easiest way to reduce the need for foreign oil is to use less of it. Inexpensive, quick, fun, 50cc scooters are a huge step in the right direction.

via The 50cc answer to dependence on foreign oil.

I called for a national uniform policy on these highly affordable and efficient forms of transportation in that post- and reminded everyone that this is a matter of national defense. We can’t afford to run out of oil- because we’re far from being able to isolate ourselves from what happens in places they don’t like us very much.

But I’m also going to throw in another aspect to the 50cc solution: it’s a liberating form of transportation for the poor. The ability to get to work for pennies a day – cheaper than public transit by a long shot, 50 cc scooters could transform the mobility of the working poor. To use a line that Dayton City Commissioner Nan Whaley likes to throw out in defense of bicycling and “complete streets” (streets with bike lanes) – “it’s a social justice” issue (argh- quoting Whaley is painful). For less than the price of a year’s bus pass, people could be on a scooter- and not be limited to bus routes and destinations (they could even make it into the forbidden land of Greene County where a lot of entry-level retail jobs sprang up in former farmland).

Of course, we’re still hosed by rising oil prices because about 25% of our fuel consumption goes into producing our food supply (from fertilizer to farm equipment to the trucks to ship our vegetables ridiculous distances) so scooters won’t save us – they are only part of a possible solution.

I do have a tad of good news in that Motoscooto on Wayne Avenue isn’t dead as previously reported here and elsewhere- he’s decided to re-align his business to selling closeout scooters and low price only (subject to change- knowing Mr. Liff).

Of course, unless you’ve got your head hidden somewhere the sun doesn’t shine- you would realize that Libya won’t be the last oil-producing nation to take to the streets in the coming years- and even with new rulers in the oil breadbasket of the world, there is no guarantee that oil prices will stay either stable or denominated in dollars (when the real bottom falls out).So to further speed up the adoption of highly efficient 2-wheeled vehicles and other high-efficiency vehicles- how about eliminating the sales tax and making the registration costs for these vehicles reduced to a nominal cost nationwide?

To put it in bullet points:

  • No more sales taxes on bicycles, electric vehicles, scooters and vehicles getting more than say- 60 mpg.
  • Nominal registration fees for such vehicles.
  • Low-cost insurance for all scooter and motorcycle riders who have taken the Motorcycle Safety Foundation course and passed.
  • Require all pay parking lots to set aside spaces for high MPG vehicles at a fractional rate- and allow scooters to park on sidewalks free as long as they aren’t impeding the flow of pedestrian traffic (see how they do it in Europe).

The looming crisis requires some kind of response and solution- and invading more oil-producing nations hasn’t exactly solved the problems in the past.

Just as our economy started to show signs of return from the dead- we’re quickly reminded that America is nothing but an oil junky dependent on a fix of cheap oil and bountiful expanses of oil-based asphalt. If we don’t learn to kick the oil habit, we’ll never be safe or stable again.

While our legislators continue to fight over issues that they have no legitimate business in- like gay marriage and abortion- the wheels on our collective bus are about to fall off again.

And no matter how many times Sara Palin screams “Drill, baby, drill”- at some point the supply of oil will not meet demand. The country that solves this problem first will be the next superpower. Yep- gas prices should get you down.

South Park as the Catalyst for a Greater Dayton?

It’s nice to see a good news piece about our neighborhood , Historic South Park, as the cover story of the Dayton City Paper. Despite what you may think about this neighborhood from reading the uncensored stories here- of my recent break-ins (which can almost all be connected directly with just a few bad actors).

The piece is written by one of our own- it’s PR for sure- but, it has the facts straight, unlike what you’d read in the Dayton Daily.

I particularly liked this quote- which if extrapolated- is also the answer for Dayton- greater Dayton, not just the city of…

While the physical layout of South Park contributes to its neighborliness, and an active neighborhood association aids its development, no single entity is strong enough to lift up a community on its own, according to urban historian Alexander von Hoffman. “For successful and sustained renewal, communities need a cadre of leaders who can change the perceptions and actual conditions that affect the reputation of their neighborhood,” von Hoffman said. “Leaders must coordinate the actions of its residents and create innovative alliances between local government, private investors, realtors, individuals, non-profit groups and law enforcement.”

via Building a better South Park : Dayton City Paper.

Note the part about “changing perceptions and actual conditions that affect the reputation”- it’s what’s missing in Dayton. We don’t have the vision- coming from a cadre of leaders- in fact, one would question if we’ve elected leaders at all in Dayton- we seem to have mouthpieces committed to the status quo. Find an elected leader having a conversation about change online- in public- or even mentioning things we could do.

It doesn’t take a whole lot of people to form the core cadre- but what it does take is a concerted effort to show a vision of where we could be- and how we’ll get there.

We’ve got too much dead weight in elected positions throughout “greater Dayton”- with all of our fiefdoms- it dilutes the strength of leadership and lends itself to largess and laziness.

But, back to the South Park article- we’ve seen a huge shift from around 70% rental properties to 70% resident-owned properties in the last 25 years I’ve been here. Because of a shared vision- we’ve seen neighbor after neighbor not only take care of their own houses- but, invest in others. The confidence in our shared vision has made the neighborhood vital and confident investment has followed.

Because I’m running for office- I’ll also point out, that I served as President for 2 years- and cultivated a successor- who was then followed by Karin Manovich. I took over a neighborhood that had been divided by the previous president- who liked to foster a class divide- I brought the neighborhood back together, mended fences and brought structure and order to meetings that had been running many hours- and got them under control. I was also the innovator who suggested the for-profit development corporation- South Park Social Capital, which was instrumental in transforming Skinner;s bar- a trouble spot, into the South Park Tavern.

None of the South Park miracle would have been possible without some of the things that I believe have been key to our success:

  • Definite boundaries with good natural divisions.
  • Historic zoning which has helped standardize expectations for repairs- and differentiated the neighborhood from others.
  • An amazing variety of housing stock, with something for everyone.
  • The central location with excellent highway access.
  • Good corporate neighbors- UD, MVH, NCR
  • A wide cross section of people in the community, from diverse professions, backgrounds and socio-economic diversity.
  • And most importantly the investment of MVH in supplying Community Based Police officers over the last 15 years. Without improved perception of law enforcement- none of this would have been possible.

There is one thing I’ve learned in the 25 years of being part of this organized community- is that we can’t take our eye off the ball. We have to keep our citizens engaged and working together. I’ve seen blocks rise and fall and rise back up again- all based on the people who are living there. I’ve seen houses rehabbed- sell high- and then fall into disrepair only to be picked back up. There is no finish line in this competition for a quality neighborhood- only a journey that can be progressively more enjoyable if the community chooses to work together.

If there has been one factor that has slowed us down more than anything- it has been the loss of so many young families over the years who leave as their kids hit school age. If we don’t have confidence in our community schools, it severely hurts our community. I’ve been trying to work with Dayton School Superintendent Lori Ward to find ways to reconnect neighborhood kids who could be attending as many as 30 different schools- hopefully, soon, we’ll have an initiative in place to solve this major problem and start keeping our best social capital in our community- in our community.

We are what we eat

Dayton- and all my readers: meet my girlfriend, Teresa Whitley.

She’s going to make an impact on Dayton- one way or another- and I’m letting you in on her contribution to the conversation about something we need to work on- that’s as important (or maybe more important) than UniGov, Economic Development- it’s our health- and what we eat.

Her site is RootED Nation- and here is the lead of her most recent post:

At the end of the month Montgomery County will be releasing a Community Health Assessment that says black people are more likely to be overweight and to have diabetes.

via Will Montgomery County step up and give us real solutions?.

I’m not going to tell you where she goes from this opening shot- I hope you jump over and read- and comment- and add her to your feed reader.

There is a crisis- and it’s one that we could collectively work together to solve- if we want. We live in the breadbasket of America- we should have easy access to the highest quality, fresh, safe foods – but unfortunately- we don’t. She’s gathering resources and people- and ideas- on how to take back our waistlines- and our health issues and our quality of life- by changing the way we think- and eat.

I hope you enjoy her site- and her thinking as much as I do.

And if you want a second post to peruse- how about one that has this in it:

What if I told you that the statements made by the Surgeon General and National Institute of Health were not only wrong, but complete nonsense? Would you think I was crazy?

OK, fair enough – I won’t take offense.

What if an expert in the field that has spent his entire career following the scientific research of why we get fat, a contributor to Science Magazine, someone who has won multiple awards for his Science journalism, a man who has an undergrad in Physics and two masters degrees from Harvard, Stanford, and Columbia said this very same thing -” not only is it wrong, it’s actually nonsense”. Would you believe him?

via Not only is it wrong, it’s nonsense..

I guarantee- you can save a lot of time reading the material that she’s been gathering by reading her site. Soon you’ll wonder if our government isn’t in the process of killing us off… but, go read it there. It’s good stuff.


Funny, the description of Jordan sounds just like here.

It’s time Americans paid attention to our future- as played out in the Arab republics. While we wave the flag and claim ourselves a “democracy” there is very little democratic process in our elections which generally provide power to the highest bidder.

How we have a congress full of millionaires is one of the mysteries that voters ignore. We’re being gamed- and we refuse to acknowledge it. But- listen to this conversation from American Public Media’s Marketplace- and replace Jordan with here and the monarchy with our political class: (I’ve put the key phrases in bold)

Oraib Al-Rantawi, a political commentator says, most of the Arab world’s been infused with a new spirit.
Oraib Al-Rantawi: We are living in the Tunisian, the Egyptian moment. This is the spirit. Nobody will stop it!
It is, he says, a spirit of rebellion against state-sponsored theft. Across the Middle East, many people believe their autocratic leaders have been robbing them blind.
Labib Kamhawi: When you don’t have democracy, you have no accountability, no transparency and then you have corruption.
That’s Jordanian businessman Labib Kamhawi. He says that like most Middle Eastern countries, Jordan is run by a clique of wealthy families and individuals — politicians in cahoots with business people. Kamhawi says many of them plunder the public purse, hog the best jobs and try to skim a bit off every government contract.
Kamhawi: The corruption really covers all aspects of life which left people who don’t belong to this class helpless.

Not everyone agrees that Jordan is a hotbed of corruption. Local economist Yusuf Mansur.

Yusuf Mansur: There is corruption, there is corruption. However, as an economist, I don’t see it as massive or as widespread as in other countries.That does not reassure critics of the system. One of them claims there’s an unofficial poverty line for corrupt individuals: If they don’t manage to rip off more than $50 million during their careers, they’re not doing well.

But Jordan is an undemocratic monarchy. King Abdullah hires and fires his governments. Critics like Labib Kamhawi do have a question to answer:

Beard: Is the king and his family profiting personally from this corruption?

Kamhawi: The law punishes anybody who talks about the king or the royal family. So we cannot talk. You ask the king. You don’t ask me.

The king declined an invitation to appear on this program. But one expatriate Jordanian journalist is not so reticent. He’s been circulating over the Internet an open letter addresses to Queen Rania.

Letter, read aloud: What gives you the right to celebrate your birthday with a party costing $15 million? And for the king to give you a yacht costing $83 million in a poor country that has no oil, lives off aid and cannot buy milk for its children?

Around half the Jordanian population lives on less or little more than $2.50 a day.

via Jordan’s elite stifles economic opportunity | Marketplace From American Public Media.

How is it not “State-sponsored theft” when the checkout girl at the Piggly Wiggly in Atlanta, making minimum wage who pays her taxes- has those hard earned tax dollars siphoned off to NCR and Bill Nuti- who has routinely made over $4 million a year- for losing 2/3 of the company’s value?

How is it that so many members of Congress are now millionaires- despite- a life of “government service”- does anyone really want to look at how John Boehner pays his tanning bill? The cost to run for office is soaring- and the only way to reach elected office is to raise huge sums of money- typically from wealthy special interests- and then to serve your money masters.

Is this country run by a clique of wealthy families? The recent events in Wisconsin- where the Koch brothers are funneling money into Governor Walker’s campaign and his attempt to dismantle organized labor? Or are the families who are so worried about the “Death Tax” which affects so few Americans- yet gets so much press? Or- let’s talk about the guys on Wall Street making $5 billion plus a year (over 25 of them in ’09)- yes- that’s with a b- by packaging our home loans- and playing financial roulette with money that’s not theirs?

Let’s look at how many billions we’ve had to spend to bail out Wall Street- yet- we still see crooks like Countrywide’s Angelo Mozilo walking free with a multimillion-dollar golden parachute- instead of prison time.

There is a political disconnect in this country- as great or wider than that between the rulers of these Arab oil republics, yet, we still believe that because we are free to discuss things without the threat of imprisonment- we’re somehow better off.

The reality is- this country is becoming one huge prison- both the literal kind- where we lock up petty criminals by the boatload, and one where the working class has the odds stacked against it. However, as the plunder continues- and our housing values and our currency continue to drop- and our unemployment rate stays high- and decent jobs continue to get replaced with minimum wage jobs– we will eventually see another American Revolution (and it won’t just be the Tea Party people.)

The people in Washington should be worried. Because unlike Egypt, Tunisia and the rest of the monarchies that will soon fall- our people have access to something that isn’t readily available in Turban land- guns.

When the riot comes- it won’t be as easy to write off as the riots we’ve had in the past- LA’s back in the eighties was just a street brawl compared to what’s coming.

Just wait.