For our veterans: Vetrepreneur Academy

It’s Memorial Day- when we are supposed to remember our fallen service members. I thank my friends who are thanking me- but I’m not dead yet. Say thank you to me on Veterans Day, please.
We’ve been at war for almost ten years- and although the death toll pales in comparison to our last declared war (World War II for those of you keeping track) we are creating Service Disabled Veterans at an extraordinary rate- and before someone tries to get politically correct about using the word “disabled”- that’s the official government term.
Many of you are oblivious to the plight of these veterans- as once again, this war is being fought mostly by people you don’t read about in the newspapers, you’re more likely to read about CEOs or Celebrities behaving badly, or politicians posturing about things that don’t matter like planned parenthood funding or beating heartbeat bills. Yes, with an all-volunteer force- little Johnny is safe from the horrors of war, and so are you. Insulation is a wonderful thing.
However, as a vet with a small disability rating, I can tell you that our government pays lip-service to them just as much as you do. In 2004 George W. Bush signed house bill 108 directing all government contracts and contractors to meet a 3% goal of participation by Service Disabled Veteran Owned Businesses. It’s been mostly ignored. The law has no teeth- and therefore, is routinely ignored.
And while the DAV has been around for a long time, it’s not been a strong lobbying contingent- because it tried to remain above politics because its members covered the entire spectrum of America, thanks to the draft. It’s starting to change.

Buy Veteran Logo

Buy Veteran Logo for the NaVOBA campaign

New organizations like NaVOBA– the NAtional Veteran Owned Business Asssociation has been starting to lobby- and has a “Buy Veteran” campaign in full swing- attempting to identify VOB’s to those in the community who want to support vets.
There are groups all over the country- like that I started with two other paratroopers- to help vets help themselves. We’ve been around since 2005, and been a 501-c6 non-profit for the last 2 years.
We’ve recently secured a grant to start providing training for any veteran with an honorable discharge, training and consulting in starting and operating a business.
The classes begin June 14 and run weekly on Tuesday nights through September. We’ll be holding them at WSU in Rike Hall- the business school building from 6pm to 9pm. Register by calling 877-299-0700 or emailing [email protected] Visit this page for a complete listing of classes:

Other cities like Pittsburgh PA are making concerted efforts to become known as veteran-friendly cities. VOB108 has been making efforts to make Ohio a more vet friendly state as well and has proposed that Dayton consider focusing on recruiting veterans to repopulate our neighborhoods- filling vacant homes instead of tearing them down.

So, if you know a veteran either in business, or considering starting a business, please think of them this Memorial Day and send them this post.

Thank you.

Songs about Dayton, mentioning Dayton

Somedude suggested a thread about songs about Dayton- or mentioning Dayton.

I know it’s a cheap thrill to watch the trailer for the new JJ Abrams movie Super 8 that mentions Dayton,

I also loved that the book “My losing season” by Pat Conroy begins with an anecdote in Books and Company, where Pat Conroy is signing books- and sees one of his old team mates- a DeBrosse (related to the DDN writer). Great book btw.

So, besides Randy Newman’s Dayton Ohio– (Mentioned by Melissa) I’m leaving this thread to my readers to come up with references to songs about Dayton, mentioning Dayton-

Have fun. And no- Google doesn’t answer this question…. so LMGTFY doesn’t work (Josh).

Invented in Dayton: Rob Lowe

While Kevin Bacon made the concept of 6 degrees of separation famous, Dayton should be famous for 1.2 degrees of separation- in my time in Dayton, I’ve criss-crossed with Rob Lowe a few different ways, never actually meeting him- but I have talked to him on the phone once. His father was the first attorney willing to take my mask case, his step-mom was crafting her sculpture in South Park for a few years- 2 doors down from my office.

Dayton has been well represented in Hollywood, with Martin Sheen (a South Park native) and Allison Janney joining Rob on the West Wing- as well as all their other projects.

We’ve got the guy behind the storyboards for the Cohen brothers films living in Oakwood- J. Todd Anderson, and my good friend Mike Webber, who has made a bunch of movies, while living in Springboro. We’re well represented in IMDB.

And although I haven’t had a chance to read Rob Lowe’s new autobiography, from the review, it sounds like Dayton gets more than a  mention: from the NYT review:

Rob Lowe’s “Stories I Only Tell My Friends,” by contrast, sticks mostly to the 1970s and ’80s and this mortal coil, though he does share some of MacLaine’s preoccupations. Lowe writes a cohesive, lively and engaging narrative that, despite occasional evasive maneuvering at critical junctures, captures a particular time in a surprisingly evocative way. He recounts his childhood in Ohio; his parents’ divorce; his mother’s subsequent marriages, divorces and emotional troubles; and his unlikely origins as a musical theater nerd. The memoir gains steam when Lowe’s mother (a New Age seeker herself, who come to think of it would have gotten on like a house on fire with Mac­Laine) follows her third husband-to-be to a “spartan” Malibu, taking her sons with her. There Lowe encounters a strange, enchanted world with a sinister undertow, as well as an entrée into the world of film.

via Book Review – Memoirs by Shirley MacLaine and Rob Lowe –

I’ve recently noticed several local businesses displaying the “Dayton Patented” logo as a Dayton Original, and although Rob wasn’t born in Dayton- he did spend his formative years here. I’m surprised that we haven’t seen any Dayton Original messaging with some of our Hollywood stars- or our sports stars like Mike Schmidt.

If you’ve traveled in Europe since the Dayton accords, you’d be surprised how well Dayton is perceived- yet, at home, we have no clue to our position in the perception of the world. If we’re going to start undoing the damage to our community psyche- it’s time to enlist all the help we can get.

Rob- would you like to help? Martin? Allison? Mike?


Dayton Public Schools losing a superstar

On July 6, 2008. I introduced you to David Lawrence– the new principal of Thurgood Marshall High School in Dayton. I called him “the man with the plan.”

He was taking over at the former Colonel White High School, in a brand new building with a plan to make TM into an academic academy of choice. Apparently, he did a good enough job to be recruited and has now accepted the position of Chief Academic Officer and Principal at the Dayton Regional STEM School.

Apparently, contrary to popular belief, good things are happening in Dayton Public Schools- but, it’s an uphill battle.

Lawrence had numbers improving every year, however he was still faced with challenges of having incoming freshmen who aren’t prepared for high school. It’s a problem every HS principal is keenly aware of- and now, recruiting is becoming the norm. The switch to attendance zones may hurt [correction- DPS high schools will not go to attendance zones- so the schools will all be recruiting and trying to fill their seats with smarter kids] the schools that can’t filter the way Stivers and Ponitz do.

Yet, despite being a DPS graduate and 15-year veteran, Mr. Lawrence’s time as principal was going to be up, one way or another.

DPS is facing budget cuts- and has a hard time meeting the salary offers for their star principals from state-sponsored charters like the DRSS, which offers better pay and benefits along with help from Wright State. Wealthier districts can easily cherry pick our best and brightest,  overcoming the economic challenges that hinder urban districts.

Also, because of the “Great Schools” money from the federal government that Dayton couldn’t turn down, his tenure was about to be cut short before he’d finished his mission:

With funds allocated under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, the U.S. Department of Education dramatically increased the funds provided to SEAs under section 1003(g) while issuing program requirements that charged the SEAs with channeling the funds to LEAs for the “persistently lowest-achieving schools” to support rapid improvement through four relatively prescriptive intervention models:

• The “turnaround model” in which the LEA replaces the principal and rehires no more than 50% of the staff, gives the principal greater autonomy, and implements other prescribed and recommended strategies.

• The “restart model” in which the LEA converts or closes and reopens a school under a charter school operator, charter management organization, or education management organization.

• The “school closure model” in which the LEA closes the school and enrolls the students in other schools in the LEA that are higher achieving.

• The “transformation model” in which the LEA replaces the principal (except in specified situations), implements a rigorous staff evaluation and development system, institutes comprehensive instructional reform, increases learning time and applies community-oriented school strategies, and provides greater operational flexibility and support for the school.

via School Improvement Grant – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Just imagine if our government legislators had the same standards applied to them- increase employment and wages in your district, or be replaced?

Of the above 4 options- DPS can only realistically do one: remove the principal. Going charter would be fought by the union- and closing or changing 50% of the staff are impossible.

The reality of these stupid regulations is that they now prevent many people from aspiring to become principal- making it even harder to find the kind of people we need to fill these challenging jobs.

This is going to be a continuing problem for Dayton Public Schools as long as we don’t have the option to reject poor and developmentally delayed students. I can place a bet that the STEM school doesn’t have 23% of the student body requiring special needs as did TM. In fact if you take the special ed students out of the TM performance measurements- they wouldn’t be forced to change principals.

Charters are also free of union rules that protect seniority- a real problem for a public school principal forced to meet academic achievement goals. Good principals know who is able to teach and who isn’t- but, union contracts make it difficult to eliminate teachers with seniority.

We’re a long way from having tools to measure teacher performance, but we’re also severely handicapped by what the teachers have to work with. Every single Dayton Public School has at least 80% of the students eligible for free lunches- which should be an indicator of the impact of poverty on the district. No one will argue that poverty is the biggest challenge to education today.

We need better solutions to get better schools- but, in the meantime- one of our better solutions is leaving DPS.

Best of luck Mr. Lawrence.

Laywers lacking imagination: Thompson Hine to move to boringville

The old joke goes: What is the difference between a lawyer and a catfish? One’s a scum sucking bottom feeder, the other is a fish.

Thompson Hine LLP must think we’re stupid- saying they can’t find suitable office space in Downtown Dayton either shows they think we’re morons (with something like 30% reported vacancy rates downtown) or that the real incentives are that they don’t want to pay the City of Dayton 2.25% income tax, having to pay for parking (of course the cost of “free parking” south is built into the premium rent) or that they are doing work (or want to do work) for the power brokers behind the real-estate development at Austin Pike.

From the Dayton Daily News:

The decision to move the 100-employee firm to offices in the Innovation Point section of Austin Landing capped a five-year effort by Thompson Hine to find new digs, but came as a disappointment to city officials and downtown advocates.

Robert Curry, the law firm’s partner in charge, said Thompson Hine opted for the Miami Twp. office building because its layout will allow the firm to consolidate operations onto fewer floors. The new location also will put the firm in closer proximity to its Cincinnati office and provide easier access to parking, Curry said.

Hmm, let’s see, right next door is the former Elder Beerman/Reynolds and Reynolds TAC, sitting with a largely empty first floor, and several empty floors above- which  is now owned by a company that also bought the parking garage directly across the street. Or, we could look at some other innovative options- like the Hauer Music Building which has 4 floors of ultra cool space, parking and is a short walk from the best lunch spots in town. They could have OWNED the building for less than they are going to pay to rent some generic space at Austin Pike. They could also probably pick-up the Patterson Kennedy Elementary School from Dayton Public Schools for pocket change- and have an incredible building to renovate and have all the space they need- plus a basketball court for lunchtime workouts (I watch the Good Wife- and it seems judges and lawyers always shoot hoops together). The location has plenty of parking and space galore. They could even build apartments into the building- so they could host clients from out of town and/or their expert witnesses. Imagine that powerful statement?

The Dayton Career academy is sitting without a purpose behind Requarth- and available- as is tons of space in the Dayton Hydraulic owned building that formerly held Woolpert. Both those buildings are in the area that was to “become BallPark Village” (whatever) and was supposedly on their map.

Thompson Hine has been a tenant in KeyBank Tower, 10 W. Second St., since the office tower was built in 1977, Curry said. Shifts in the legal profession — fewer clerical workers, less library space and fewer reception areas — also meant changes in the type of space law firms need, the attorney said.

“There have been a lot of changes that have made our space somewhat antiquated for our use,” he said.

Curry said timing also was an issue. With some major city office towers going through ownership changes, it made it hard for his firm to reach deals, particularly when it came to issues such as money from landlords for tenant improvements.

“This led to several potential deals falling through, and this eventually steered us to Austin Landing,” Curry said.

Shelley Dickstein, assistant city manager for strategic development, said Dayton offered the law firm $200,000 in development funds to spend on tenant improvements. City officials also tried to move forward talks between Thompson Hine and Bank of America, the current owner of Kettering Tower, Dickstein said.

“We’re just extremely disappointed that (the firm) didn’t take another couple of weeks to try and let the Kettering Tower situation clarify itself before making this announcement,” Dickstein said.

Sandy Gudorf, president of the Downtown Dayton Partnership, said she was disappointed with the outcome, but having major office towers in distress situations complicated efforts to keep Thompson Hine downtown.

“We were hoping to get this done,” she said.

Curry said Thompson Hine began looking for new space in 2005, two years before its lease on what was then MeadWestvaco Tower was set to expire. In 2008, Thompson Hine signed a letter of intent to move to Ballpark Village, a proposed redevelopment of 40 acres along the Great Miami River near Fifth Third Field into housing, retail, commercial and entertainment venues that never materialized.

via 100-employee law firm to move from downtown to Austin Landing.

While it’s not the job of the city to get involved in real estate deals (although you’d never know it) they’ve built three brand new buildings down in “Tech Town” and offered subsidized rents- which make me wonder why Shelly Dickstein and Sandy Gudorf still have jobs? Where is the imagination to find a space in a city full of it?

It’s time to realize that the heavy investment in Austin Pike by the county, pushed by the Dayton Development Coalition and major real estate barons like Randy Gunlock with RG Properties and Mills Morgan Development are going to continue to decimate downtown until we get a true regional solution to our patchwork of “government” and “economic development.”

The first thing that needs to happen is a single flat income tax across all of Montgomery County that is divided up on a formula based on two factors: headcount and miles of roadway to maintain. Then, we may actually start seeing a more level playing field- and decisions based on real factors instead of the ones we’re getting lied to about.

And by the way- there are lawyers still downtown occupying very cool office space you should move your business to if you do business with Thompson Hine- why should you pay for their high dollar office space overhead in your legal bill? Send a message- call them today and ask if they really did this for the right reasons- it may not be too late to change their minds.