Inequity kills economies: economies now run countries

“Principles have no real force except when one is well fed.” Mark Twain

Politicians used to understand this. Promises of a better tomorrow, with jobs, a standard of living higher than it is today- were standard campaign promises. Now, we have “hope” and “change” with no promise whatsoever.

If we likened life to a game of Monopoly– where the goal is to acquire as much money and real-estate as possible, with a finite amount of both (and like it or not- the planet has a finite number of resources in some ways and can only support so many players)- we’ve done a really great job of it.

Just remember this- when you own all the real estate  and have all the money when playing Monopoly, game is over.

To start the game again, wealth is redistributed. We start from scratch.

If it’s not and you want to continue to play- someone has to rob the winner  to continue.

When the debt load on the 99% combined with banking fees, taxes, gasoline costs, health-care costs, welfare costs  and taxes exceed the 99%’s ability to pay- the country goes into crisis. Like it or not- that’s where we are now, we just keep fooling ourselves that “recovery” is happening as one data point or another is manipulated for a government report: unemployment, productivity, factory orders etc.

Congress can’t seem to get our government spending under control- but wants to blame the little guys for the crisis. Yet, when the wizards of Wall Street went belly-up, there was no bankruptcy or foreclosure- just the taxpayers stuck with the bailout bill while the billionaires went off scot-free. Yet, steal food to feed your family- and you’ll go to jail, directly to jail.

The “super-committee” can’t cut its way to financial fixes and even raising taxes on the rich won’t solve the problems. We need systemic changes in the way we distribute wealth in this country- and I’m not talking about socialism. Monopoly is a game with rules- where everyone gets the same deal- the United States has let the rich write the rules to favor them, and it’s made the game so lopsided that we’re all screwed.

What the rich running the country and paying off our politicians haven’t been able to reckon with is the fact that their game of Monopoly gets very boring in the last rounds, when the barons of Park Place with a hotel clean you out and you succumb.

From BusinessWeek:

Somehow it just doesn’t seem right that so many Americans struggle while a handful prospers. What many are missing is the actual impact rising inequality is having on the U.S. economy. Hint: It isn’t good.

Since 1980 about 5 percent of annual national income has shifted from the middle class to the nation’s richest households. That means the wealthiest 5,934 households last year enjoyed an additional $650 billion beyond what they would have had if the economic pie had been divided as it was in 1980, according to Census Bureau data.

The typical U.S. household, meanwhile, has yet to regain the ground it lost during the recession. The median income of $49,445 at the end of 2010 remains a shade below the level reached in 1997, adjusted for inflation. “Income inequality in this country is just getting worse and worse and worse,” says James Chanos, president and founder of money managers Kynikos Associates. “And that is not a recipe for stable growth.”

In the 1960s economists such as the late Arthur M. Okun, who was chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, believed that societies could emphasize equality or growth, not both. Today, when the quality of the workforce plays a larger role in determining who prospers, many economists—including Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke—now believe that equality and growth are linked. As Branko Milanovic, a World Bank economist, wrote in September: “Widespread education has become the secret to growth. And broadly accessible education is difficult to achieve unless a society has a relatively even income distribution.”

Thus the growing chasm in the U.S. between the haves and the have-nots has serious consequences. Societies that manage a narrower gap between rich and poor enjoy longer economic expansions, according to research published this year by the International Monetary Fund. Income trends in the U.S. mean that future U.S. expansions could last just one-third as long as in the late 1960s, before the income divide began widening, says economist Jonathan D. Ostry of the IMF. The average postwar economic boom lasted 4.8 years, according to the National Bureau of Economic Research. The current expansion, which is just 27 months old, may peter out within a few months. Goldman Sachs (GS) said on Oct. 3 that the U.S. would be “on the edge of recession” by early 2012.

via How Inequality Hurts the Economy – Businessweek.

So no matter what the latest news report says, we’re still not going to dig out of debt (and the “super-committee” was only tasked with ending the deficit- with no impact on our national debt) without making some fundamental changes.

While the #Occupy movement isn’t giving us a soundbite solution to fix the system- they are doing a great job of clearly stating the problem: the 1% are collecting all the money and real estate at an increased pace and without stopping them, no one will want to play monopoly (life as we know it) anymore.

When people aren’t well fed- the rule of law goes out the door, people. You’ve been warned before.

So while our government at all levels seems to enjoy mocking the movement- and applying its “rules of law” on peaceful protests in tents in public spaces (as the local idiots of the Montgomery County Commission and the Dayton City Commission did yesterday through their paid proxies: County Administrator Deb Feldman and Dayton City Manager Tim Riordan) they are ignoring the alternative and what will inevitably come next. Riots, guns, survival of the fittest. All this while we have the smallest police force in Dayton history.

What’s even more discouraging is that our nation still thinks we have the right to sit in judgment on other countries- telling them to allow peaceful protests, advocating freedom of speech, protesting how their elections are rigged. We’re total hypocrites:

Obviously, what we call for in other countries isn’t what we call for here.

Besides the need to stop selling our elected offices to the highest bidder, it’s time to reevaluate and reorganize our entire country if we want to continue to exist as a sovereign nation. That’s right- the current system has us dangerously close to being owned, lock, stock and barrel by the Chinese who have more of our money than we do.

credit default swaps are betsRestoring banking controls that were enacted after the last great depression would be a good start. But, we need to look at what’s critical right now- jobs that pay enough to continue our standard of living.

It’s not about taxing the rich, as much as it is about tying great rewards directly to job creation. It’s time to reward people for employing U.S. citizens and paying them well- instead of for gambling on financial markets.

When a U.S. company like Standard and Poor’s or Moody’s has the ability to destroy a sovereign nation with the stroke of a pen by downgrading their credit rating- instead of the old-fashioned method of having a standing army invade and play capture the flag- we really should be reassessing the need for a military at all- unless it it is to subdue people from living as they wish.

The “Wealth of Nations” is a farce anymore. The entire value of a countries’ social capital, natural resources and even the infrastructure is nothing more than a piece of property on a global Monopoly board- with values set by a banker. Does this seem wrong to you?

The financial “instruments” that bankers have created, the transaction models that have been authorized by our corporate puppet politicians have destroyed the entire concept of money as a tool to engage in trade. It’s now a weapon and the most powerful people on the planet aren’t presidents, generals, prime ministers or kings- but the money brokers who seem to be outside the control of any country- or governing body.

While you may not know what a “Ladbroke’s betting slip” is, the picture I took of a posting  in London outside the Occupy LSX camp next to St. Paul’s 2 days before the camp was dismantled explains the reason the system collapsed- and it wasn’t because of the bad loans to poor people, it was how those bad loans were monetized after they were made.

If you are paying attention to Congress right now, we see a role reversal taking place- with Republicans against extending the payroll tax cuts putting more dollars in the hands of the people who still make their money through a paycheck (the 1% make their money through financial transactions). The Republicans claim that taxing the 1% isn’t fair either. Easy solution- put a transaction fee on every single financial market transaction on any trade that’s made that is for less than a year. (When playing Monopoly- there are no derivatives, flash trades, or options and you have to wait your turn to act).

Having access to public stock markets- and diversifying risk for large corporations is a huge competitive advantage, but the practice of letting those companies allow a few executives to make decisions like laying off workers to boost share prices – putting the costs of unemployment on the U.S. taxpayer- it’s time to put a halt to it. We need to tie the fortunes of the traders to the fortunes of the workers that they are exploiting at a ridiculous rate. We have to link pay to performance and stock values to real value- not the whims of Standard and Poor’s if we want to see a system that will continue to function. The alternative is riots and anarchy.

Yes, there can still be winners and losers in life- but, the proportion and scale needs to change. Monopoly is fine to play with a few friends for a few hours- but, it doesn’t work as a system to run the planet. It’s time to change the game.

No bid to a no-name company? Dayton Airport deal suspicious

Whenever I see a no-bid deal involving any local government body, I start questioning the process.

From today’s Dayton Daily News:

Dayton International Airport is requesting City Commission approval to pay a company up to $36,000 over three months to recommend a new telephone system at the airport.

The commission will be asked today to approve the contract with JYG Innovations LLC, which will not supply the new system.

The Clayton company is to assess what is needed for an upgrade to a voice-over-Internet-protocol phone system and to help the city shape plans for the new system, according to documents prepared for city commissioners.

Last week, the Commission approved a three-year contract with the same company, paying it up to $90,000 annually for a three-year total of $270,000, to provide information technology and support services to the airport. That includes IT systems engineering, design, implementation, security monitoring and problem-solving.

The city did not seek competitive bids for either contract, instead opting to directly hire JYG under “professional services agreements,” said Stanley Earley, Dayton’s deputy city manager.

The company, which was registered with the Ohio secretary of state in 2009, is certified as a minority-owned, female-owned and small business enterprise in Dayton’s procurement program, according to city documents.

Dayton hired JYG because it has expertise suitable for these contract needs and its personnel have worked with the city and know its systems, Earley said. Dayton would seek competitive bids for larger contracts, he said.

via Airport wants to study new phone system.

What’s even more fun is that JYG Innovations LLC is calling itself a minority-owned company and apparently getting bonus points for it. What about other minority-owned companies? Shouldn’t they get a chance to bid as well? (The City of Dayton does not consider Veteran or Service Disabled Veteran Owned Businesses worthy of special consideration,  despite the Feds having a 3% SDVOB contracting mandate).

I went to look up the registration of the website- and find they registered by proxy- to hide the registrants’ info. Luckily, they list their CCR registration on the site and their CAGE code 5X0W5 – where I find thanks to the SBA site:

Jacqueline Gamblin

Jacqueline Gamblin

JACQUELINE GAMBLIN 180 FIVEPINES CT CLAYTON, OH 45315-9657 IT Consulting services focused on IT Strategic Planning, Business Process Improvement, Business Intelligence and Information Security.

Then I go to LinkedIn- where I find I have connections to her through 4 people, including Pete Hager who is ourchasing manager for the city. She worked for Ingenium from 1997 to 2009 before starting JYG Innovations with her last title VP.

She has a BS in Biology from WSU earned in 1990

Ingenium seems to be one of those huge companies that small businesses like to call a “Beltway bandit” with HQ in Maryland and primarily be involved in government contracting. They have a local office in Dayton.

Her maiden name is Yokley and she graduated from Wayne HS in 1985 (that answers why it’s JYG)

Manta tells us she has a staff of 1 and annual revenues (before the no-bid contracts) of under $100,000 a year.

Her PTAC page- (PTAC is a government paid-for operation to help small businesses do business with the government) is almost blank:

She is the chair for “Involvement Advocacy” in Dayton- which is a group started by Peter Benkendorf (with whom I grew up in Cleveland Heights) to support the arts- and his Blue Sky Project among other things.

I’m not able to connect the dots to why she got this contract without having to bid- or allowing others to have an opportunity to bid, but I’m pretty sure one of my readers will make the connection before the day is done.

For an IT professional, the idea of hiding your domain registration by proxy is stupid. Incredibly so. It’s for that reason I kept digging and finding and pursuing this. The Internet has no hiding places.

It’s unfortunate that the DDN missed the bigger no-bid contract last week. Miss Gamblin just got a $102,000 a year job, without having to be hired- or going through an open-hiring process. The contract which was approved last week- actually started on Nov. 1, 2011 according to the non-ADA compliant posting of the meeting agenda

Apparently, this is the hiring of an independent contractor to work on site- and possibly subcontract two other positions via her company. There is no indication if she is to hire onshore for those other positions (she could be hiring someone in India to do her server admin or security work if my quick read of the contract is correct).

This is not the way an honest, open government operates.

I am unable to decipher from her website her history of expertise in this specific project, or a track record of doing this kind of work solo. The firm is less than 2 years old and lists zero clients, or references.

Please enlighten me, this looks like hiring someone’s lover to a sweet paycheck with zero oversight.

additional info:

Here is the contract scope on the $270K work from the city agenda- note the original spec included VOIP services:

  • Consultant will perform the following work and services for the City’s Department of Aviation:
  • Perform server system administration and operations.
  • Monitor data backup processes.
  • Maintain desktop computer systems.
  • Assist users with problem resolution.
  • Monitor network availability and operational status.
  • Monitor system security posture including antivirus signatures, system patches, Pix
  • firewall rules, and ISA server.
  • Manage user add, remove, and changes in Active Directory.
  • Provide IT systems design and implementation guidance.
  • Communicate status of project activities and actions with the Airport IT staff.
  • Infuse new technologies into the environment as requested.
  • Provide final-tier problem resolution services as requested.
  • Assist with VOIP implementation.

Consultant shall assign one of its Programmers to provide on-site (at the Airport) support and off-site (remote) monitoring support to provide the Professional Services up to a maximum of twenty (20) hours per week during the term of this Agreement. In addition, Consultant shall provide Application Engineer, Senior Systems Engineer and Systems Engineer labor categories to provide Professional Services on an as needed basis and upon the verbal or written preapproval from the City’s Director of Aviation or his designee.

If you want to look at the whole agenda in an ADA compliant form (unfortunately- the OCR reoriented the internal links) I’ve done the OCR for you: 11-16-11 City Of Dayton Agenda ADA compliant







“Super Committee” and “Rebound”- semantics for stalling the inevitable

The “Super Committee” has now failed and the stock market dropped. We’re in a tizzy over imaginary actions that never happened, caused by something that wasn’t.
The Dayton Daily News proclaims housing is rebounding in Dayton today. Really?

How do we come up with these superlatives without any real justification? I was having a short discussion with a good friend yesterday- a veteran police officer, talking about the plight of a friend in the courts- he says “the truth is malleable” – so true.

It’s why the entire industry of “Public Relations” exists. It’s why politicians hire “campaign strategists” and “consultants” to help put lipstick on their piggish campaigns.

What happened to actual action?

The stock market has taken wild swings- sometimes because the programs that now run trading encountered a programming hickup- or because we don’t look at facts anymore- especially when company financials have as much credibility as a slot machine. Every time you spin it- you get a different answer. Where are core fundamental answers in today’s world? We’ve got presidential candidates talking about evolution and others not knowing what happened in… what was the name of that country again? Can I buy a vowel?

I have an 8 year old who now thinks it’s fun to poke fun at me for “using big words” and “trying to show everyone how smart you are”- have we really started to worship stupid people?

Apparently well reasoned debate of the issues must be done in soundbites, because, well, we’re starting to have the attention span of a goldfish (which is supposedly, according to scientists about 3 seconds). The Occupy Protests can’t be serious because they can’t condenses their mission statement into 50 words?

What happened to intellectualism?

The problems we’re facing today aren’t going to be solved with slogans, flag waving or better PR. Things don’t change just because the media says they have- or because we have a new way of measuring “progress.” Things change because we actually make changes: real, substantive, fundamental changes.

It’s not saying “Hope” or “Change” it’s doing it.

I watched the movie “Too big to fail” on the way to Europe, which apparently is in the process of failing. (Highly recommended movie btw). It seems the guiding argument for creating the “super committee” was that  Congress was too big. Now, even 12 people have failed us as well. The handing over of this work to a committee of an even number could only bring failure- it was a recipe for disaster. What we need is a leader to actually step up and lead. The president has failed us, the free markets have failed us, our laws are failing us (when we have a CEO steal millions and get 7 days).

You have to wonder when the New York Times has an Op-Ed piece called “How China can defeat America” and they seem to have a better understanding of what made our country great than we do right now.

For all the talk, all the positioning, I’ve yet to hear a single substantive plan, a “New Deal” put forward to re-make America and solve our problems of widening economic inequality and the destruction of the middle class- and the imploding of our government’s financial standing at all levels. The bad news is we need at least two plans- to really have a debate.

To quote the most famous philosopher known to Americans, Mr. Miyagi, “Either you karate do ‘yes’ or karate do ‘no.’  You karate do ‘guess so,’ ” We’ve been trying to do karate by consensus and guessing so.

If we don’t make real changes soon, there will be a fight, just as we’ve seen other governments toppled or reconstituted (don’t even ask for a count on how many have changed in the last few weeks- Greece, Italy, Spain… without including the continuation of the “Arab Spring” which is outliving its media given name).

To quote a friend, Sally Hogshead: “Break out the nun-chucks and let the street fighting begin.” because if we don’t start talking seriously about making systemic change- it will be made for us the old fashioned way: I’ll quote a famous Chinese philosopher: Mao Zedong: “Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun.”

We have more guns in America than we seem to have leaders.

That’s the very real reason that I know eventually we’ll come to our senses, or not.

That’s the inevitable if we don’t change soon.



Progress: Dayton finally OK’s large-scale billboards

Place Stravinsky wall art by French artist, Jef Aerosol

Place Stravinsky wall art by French artist, Jef Aerosol

One of the things I was taking pictures of in Paris were large-scale wall murals, because for a long time, I’ve been planning to push for large-scale art on Dayton buildings. However, I was thinking ad space as well as mural space. Apparently, we’ve had a turnaround on this in City Hall- but more on this in a bit.

A few walls that I’d love to see adorned- the back of CareSource- it’s a huge beige blank wall- that can be seen easily heading up Jefferson toward Riverscape and the huge blank wall facing the back of the Cannery on Wayne Avenue (building is owned by Montgomery Paper), The side of the Convention Center on Jefferson facing the Transportation Center garage (during an Urban Nights- someone was projecting performance art on it), the side of Aquarius nightclub, the backside of the building Dayton History was in- facing Riverscape, the wall that used to have the huge American Flag facing WorkFlow One. Other spaces include the current graffiti location along the railroad trestle behind the Second Street Market and not to be left out- I’d have painted one on my office building (which probably used to have a huge ad on it when it was an old corner grocery store). (If you’d like more information about the mural at right- here is the artist’s website: )

Of course, having a big blank wall facing a major street can also be a source of revenue for property owners like the little consignment shop on Brown/Warren at Oak- or the side of the new Coco’s building on Warren- which could have ads on them.  Another is a building owned by Gary Goldflies on Wayne right next to Eastway. These walls could hold electronic billboards, giant ad murals- that could help pay for the maintenance of their buildings. But, for some reason, propaganda via paint scares our city fathers- and they want to have some kind of legal rule (and ability to charge for your right of free speech on the side of your private property).

Unfortunately, I barely have a sign on my building- because I didn’t feel like fighting the city any more than I already had to just to revitalize a building that had been vacant for twenty years. My workaround was to mount a piece of glass inside the storefront window- that originally was sandblasted with our name and address- but now just has a vinyl logo- on it- because they have no jurisdiction on what is in the window- but do with what is ON the window)

Despite a nasty fight with Key Ads for the “Dayton Feature” electronic billboard on US 35, which the mayor was against, (also see my post Electronic Billboards and You) somehow we seem to have made a turnaround:

A 40-foot-tall dancer, a two-story-high composer, and a 90-foot-long Wright brothers scene are among the images soon expected to grace Dayton buildings, as three large murals have recently been approved by city officials, and other projects are in the works.

Two of the murals will celebrate Dayton’s arts scene, with one already under way downtown at East Third and St. Clair streets, across from the Dayton Metro Library main branch. Dayton also added colored accent lighting to new bridges and to the parking garage at Fifth and Jefferson.

The arts murals could soon be joined by other images, as Dayton this fall expanded its “graphics overlay district” downtown, which permits large “wallscapes” and special electronic signs.

“I think it can give downtown the look of cities like New York and Tokyo,” Dayton Mayor Gary Leitzell said. “Most world-class cities have great public displays of art, and this is our opportunity to show we’re a world-class city.” (emphasis added)

The idea for the arts murals, which feature performers from groups such as Dayton Ballet, Human Race Theatre Company and Dayton Philharmonic, took shape very quickly.

“It happened in about two days on Facebook,” said Richard Kaiser, a local marketing strategist and arts supporter who is behind those projects. (Note: Richard is a member of UpDayton, and works for ad agency “The Ohlman Group– he’s the kind of guy we need pushing this city forward, and he’s also from Celina, just like me).

Kaiser said after an artist friend posted a picture of a New Orleans wall mural, he asked his friends if anyone knew of a good Dayton site. Kaiser said he quickly got in touch with Brian West, president of Dayton Park-n-Go, which owns two multistory buildings with blank walls, and the idea was off and running.

Kaiser said the DPL Foundation provided financial support, and city officials and the Downtown Dayton Partnership were enthusiastic. Local artist Josh Flohre, of Color Logistik Group, will install the arts-related murals at 133 E. Third St. and 20 N. Jefferson St., with a mix of his own work and images from photographer Andy Snow.

“The one building was kind of run-down and the wall looked bad, so the main thing is to beautify the city and inspire people,” Flohre said.

The City Plan Board has also approved a 98-foot by 12-foot mural of the Wright brothers and Wright-B Flyer for the upper side of a building at 506 Wayne Ave., and Wright-Dunbar Inc. is applying for city approval of a 12-foot-high Paul Laurence Dunbar mural promoting literacy at 1137 W. Third St.

Graphics district

Murals have long been allowed in Dayton if the applicant gets “conditional use” from the city. But the expanded “graphics overlay district” this year brings new abilities to do high-impact signs on the sides of buildings, even renting space on buildings the advertiser doesn’t own.

Dayton city planner Tony Kroeger said that could include anything from wall-size photo advertising — like the several-stories-tall LeBron James Nike ad that graced a Cleveland building for years — to digital billboards. Kroeger and Leitzell both mentioned that Key-Ads, an existing Dayton sign company, hopes to move downtown to Third and Jefferson and install major electronic signs and creative lighting.

“The point was to allow those where they make sense,” Kroeger said, adding those types of signs still have to be approved by the Plan Board. “If you currently have a blank wall that adds nothing, why not?”

Columbus model

Kroeger said Dayton’s policy was inspired by downtown Columbus, where “advertising murals” and large digital signs have been in use for seven years. Some of those wall ads are dramatic, such as a Nationwide Children’s Hospital ad with children appearing to climb and swing between wings of a building.

Dan Williamson, spokesman for Columbus Mayor Michael Coleman, said the city got fairly little opposition from residents, most of whom Williamson said like having a livelier, noisier, more active downtown.

“One issue Columbus grappled with was the idea that downtown was a place people worked, and then they went home to their neighborhoods, and Mayor Coleman really wanted to change that,” Williamson said. “There are some people who don’t like the big ads, but this is what a city looks like, this is what a downtown looks like.”

Columbus’ urban design manager, Daniel Thomas, said the city was sued, unsuccessfully, by the Ohio Department of Transportation, which argued that ad murals along state and federal roads violated a highway beautification act.

Now Columbus’ downtown commission requires murals to meet certain standards on use of art, size of text and interaction with architecture.

“The biggest problem is the creep of advertising, as a lot of these things are becoming more and more commercial,” Thomas said. “The (commission) points to better ones, often done by nonprofit groups, and says, ‘Why don’t you do this?’ But the client wants something else.”

Dayton philosophy

Kroeger said Dayton is trying to encourage designs and concepts “different from the everyday billboard” to add visual interest and a sense of vibrancy to downtown.

“I saw a quote at the onset of the Great Recession saying the next big thing might not be a big thing; it might be a thousand little things,” Kroeger said. “Signage and lighting can be a lower investment, but higher impact.”

Kroeger and Kristen Wicker of the Downtown Dayton Partnership both mentioned public art and more vibrant streets as important to making downtown “more walkable” and a place people want to be. Wicker said the murals are another success of downtown’s Activated Spaces program, which has put art in vacant storefronts.

“Yes, we’re permitting things that in the past, we wouldn’t,” Kroeger said. “It’s a little different, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.”

via Downtown buildings to get murals, high-impact signs.

In Paris, the way the city originally funded the Velib bike-share system was by granting a single contract to an outdoor ad company- to manage all outdoor ad spaces (bus shelters, billboards etc.) in exchange for the bike system.

Full Circle Development mural

Partial view of Full Circle Development mural

In the last 25 years there has been one man quietly painting large scale murals and ads in town, somehow managing to work around our draconian zoning folks- Jim Gagnet of Pacesetter Painting and co-owner of Coco’s. He’s the one responsible for putting the paint on the Oregon bridge/gate way, the Neon Movies exterior, the Coco’s sign, the murals on the side of his building facing U.S. 35 E at the Keowee exit at the corner of Hickory in South Park- and just recently painting the side of Theresa Gasper’s Full Circle Development building facing Clover off Wayne.

There are very few true sign painters left unfortunately. New on-demand large format printing tools make it easy to print huge banners on vinyl, canvas and other materials- including vinyl with pinholes so people inside can see out if applied to glass- while people on the outside only see the art. Gagnet still knows how to grid and scale art- and then paint art on walls by hand.

London Calling Taxi Wrap for vodaphone in London

London Calling Taxi Wrap for vodaphone in London

There are many opportunities in Dayton to change the color and tone of our town. Garden Station and UpDayton did a beautiful job putting art underneath the train overpass on Wayne (could use better lighting at night- and we still could paint the outside of the trestle. too). Unfortunately, RTA killed off full bus wraps and practically killed the ads on the sides of buses which was easy revenue for them. I love this taxi wrap I saw in London- it’s a cell phone ad.

We’ve also seen a little bit of light go a long way on the new bridges and the Transportation Center garage.

It’s time to let loose Dayton- let the people paint, light, poster, play on the canvas of our community. We need places for wall posters, graffiti, ads, art, color- that are unregulated and untaxed. It’s also time to realize that everything doesn’t have to be a free ride for the arts- or connected to the Wright Brothers when it comes to outdoor art.

  • Street art from Rue du Chat-Qui in Paris
    Possibly by Banksy? Street art on Paris alley
  • Your building doesn't have to be painted symetrically
    Why not let your logo live large?
  • NYC and Times Square looks like a madhouse of outdoor
    Outdoor out of control- and it’s still fun!
  • Large billboards in NYC with large un-symmetical buildings
    Think Big- in NYC the boards have to be bigger to match the scale of the city

I’ve got a whole collection of photos of large scale art and ads from my travels. To me, art does make the city come alive- from the smallest graffiti like the one at left at the entrance to an alley on the Left Bank in Paris (which might be by the artist Banksy) to the billboards of Times Square. This is a no-cost way of livening up Dayton- that could happen almost overnight – if we let go of the reins.

And of course, there is my favorite billboard, that used to have a full sized Mini-Cooper on the side of a Columbus building- with my mantra for all to see:

Goliath Lost Mini Billboard

Goliath Lost Mini Billboard

What do you think?


Bike share in Paris: Vélib’ the way to see Paris

David Esrati on Velib in Paris

David Esrati pedaling away from the Louvre on a Velib rental bike

About three years ago, I started championing a bike share system for Dayton. I talked to anyone and everyone who would listen. I had the people from B-cycle ship a prototype bike to Dayton for the bike summit. I even started mapping our where we should locate the bike stations on Google Maps.

Three years ago, we could have been in the news, launching a system at the same time as Denver. We would have been on the cutting edge in North America. Total cost, between $1.5 and $3 million- to create a green technology alternative transportation system that encourages a healthy lifestyle- and solves much of our “parking problem” in downtown.

As usual, the people who think they run this city- chuckled. A few gave the idea lip service. UD launched a bike rental- which isn’t the same thing- and instead of pushing for this liberating system- the Downtown Dayton Plan pushed for kayaking on the river for a cost of at least a million more. We also had the “Steal this yellow bike” program launched downtown- which had zero economic impact.

No one needs to kayak- but, bicycling is a whole other thing- it’s transportation that works.

I know, because I pedaled all over Paris today for 1.70 euros- about $3. Pick up a bike here- drop it there. Unlimited rides for 24 hours- as long as they are under 30 minutes. I could have bought an annual pass for 29 euros- but that didn’t quite make sense with 2 days to go.

How’s it work- easy:

Take a bike, return it where you like, Vélib’ is a self-service bike system available 24 hours a day, all year round. To access the service, buy a 1-day or a 7-day ticket online or at any Vélib’ station or sign-up for a long-term subscription!

via How it works / Paris – Vélib’ – vélos en libre-service à Paris- Site Officiel.

Velib Station in Paris

Velib Station in Paris near the Pompidou center

Compared to the Tube- it’s a much faster way to get around town. Many streets have dedicated bus/bike lanes- or even bike paths marked along narrow streets that have you riding against traffic. The bike has an adjustable height seat, lights, bell, fenders, enclosed chain and a good sized basket up front. And although you’d probably not want to lock it anywhere, choosing instead to return it to a rack- it has a lock that you can use to lock the bike anywhere.

Pull up to a station that is full- you can check in and be granted an additional 15 minutes to ride to another nearby station that has open spaces (the digital map tells you how many bikes are at each station and how many slots are open). If you have a problem with a bike- just check it back in and inform the system- the bike won’t be available until it’s been checked on).

Near popular sites, like the Louvre, there were three stations within a few blocks. The biggest problem at 10:45 was finding a place to check them in after riding from the Pompidou center. When we rode home at 4 p.m.- the station in front of our apartment building was mostly empty. The system doesn’t balance itself- and I didn’t see people moving bikes from station to station- but we did see the bikes being used all over Paris by tourists and locals alike.

Dayton Ohio could be transformed with a true bike share system. Imagine the economic impact once the 20,000 Sinclair students would have an easy way to leave campus to go to the Oregon District or Brown Street for lunch, or to visit Riverscape. What about the employees at Premier Health Partners, who often have to travel from one part of their distributed office spaces to another? Parking problems are much easier on bikes than in cars.

In London, there is a similar system- however all the bikes are advertising billboard for Barclay’s bank. I didn’t have an opportunity to try them out, as I was always with my family- and none of them are fans. The other slight problem for Yanks in London is that you really have to pay attention since you are riding on the wrong side of the street.

If RTA were really interested in providing affordable public transit, they could have implemented this system for a lot less than the money they put into both the Schuster Center (about $4 million- for bus stop improvements- because everyone going to the DPO rides the bus) and the several million they contributed to the Dragons stadium and operating the trolley system that used to provide before and after games (the stretched out golf cart trains like at King’s Island in the parking lots).

It’s time to do something significant of impact in Dayton. Bike share would fit that bill. If you don’t believe me- take a trip- you don’t have to go to Paris or London, Washington DC, NYC, Boston, Denver, Minneapolis etc. all have already taken the leap. Maybe now we can too.


New housing options for a new Dayton?

I’ve talked on this site.about SRO housing before, as well as co-housing.  SRO stands for “Single Room Occupancy” and it’s illegal in Dayton- despite there being a few “grandfathered” examples- and some operated by social service agencies (the DePaul Center on St. Clair being an example). Of course, the other name for SRO and co-housing is the “negative one” – of which I’ve also written about: “Rooming houses.”

However we’ve seen little change in housing code to encourage it. The solution to saving some of the grand homes in Dayton View isn’t to tear them down- but, find ways to allow SRO- as opposed to the previous solution of chopping them up into small apartments and trying to adapt the architecture into something it wasn’t meant to be.

In NYC a new solution for the formerly homeless is SRO housing- which makes more sense than trying to move someone from sleeping in a car into a full blown home rental situation.  SRO also makes more sense to many young urban professionals who barely cook at home- why be saddled with the overhead of a kitchen when all you need is a mini-fridge, microwave, toaster oven and a hotplate along with a sink?

The root problem here is the same as in NYC- as defined in the New York Times:

The problem? Partly, a collection of sometimes conflicting city and state laws that do things like dictate minimum room sizes, prohibit the construction of apartments without kitchens or bathrooms, and outlaw more than three or four unrelated people sharing an apartment. Other rules compel developers in many parts of town to construct a parking space for each new unit they build, a disincentive for designing many smaller, inexpensive apartments as opposed to just a few big ones, never mind what the rules imply for the environment.

via Jonathan Kirschenfeld and Others Reimagine New York Housing –

And since I’m writing this from Paris- after being in London, I can also tell you that the idea of mandatory car ownership with its costs (purchase, maintenance, insurance and parking costs- there are always parking costs) is an idea we as Americans need to forget about. Bike-share systems in both cities are heavily used (more so in Paris where people drive on the right side of the streets :-) and bike lanes, parking, etc. are built in). The system in London is an advertising vehicle for Barclay’s bank, in Paris- no ads.

The other European observation that we should consider in making a conversion to SRO-friendly communities- is that we need to think in terms of smaller neighborhood grocery options. Instead of lusting for “supermarkets” we need to look to much smaller neighborhood grocery stores- with more frequent stocking. Fresher fruits, vegetables, meat, bread- is the norm in Europe, because of many factors- smaller refrigerators, smaller stores within walking distances and fresher foods required by consumers. If we started looking to build a network of small co-op groceries in densely packed neighborhoods, with membership fees- we might be able to speed the transformation. Imagine if the Wayne Avenue Kroger didn’t require 6 acres of parking spaces?

Rolser buggy as seen all over Paris

The 2 wheeled shopping machine that transforms communities

Let me introduce you to the 2 wheel machine, available in Paris for about 30 euros ($50) that changes everything: the “Rolser” shopping cart- pictured at right- available from Amazon for $125 (way too much).

Another interesting development in Co-Housing is that of Grandparent housing, for grandparents raising their children’s children- from a Marketplace story on a development in Kansas City:

It was an entire apartment complex designed exclusively for grandparents raising grandchildren… It has a central room with living and dining spaces that open into a kitchen with a big island in it…

Like senior housing, they’re handicap accessible — with wide doorways, rails in the bathrooms and low cabinets. Outside there’s a playground with a ramp for wheelchairs. And activity rooms and a computer lab, which 13-year-old Shawn Gassway appreciates. He’s making friends and he admits, it’s hard to get out of line here.

SEAN GASSWAY: It’s a lot, a lot of grandmas in these apartments….

a similar project in the Bronx — the nation’s first grandfamily apartments, which opened six years ago. He found out there are some 15,000 households in the Kansas City area headed by grandparents, and many are below poverty level. He held focus groups with grandparents to find out what their needs were.

COLLINS: Those households needed support with the children, especially after school, helping with their homework. Grandparents needed a place to get away from the kids.

Cougar Capital partnered with the city to receive tax credits from the state and federal government. The Kansas City project is one of a half-dozen around the country, which are all public housing of some sort. But with 2.7 million grandparents raising grandchildren around the country, other developers are paying attention.

Donna Butts heads the group Generations United, and has tracked the growth of grandfamily housing.

DONNA BUTTS: We’ve been approached in the last several years from for-profit developers who are realizing that communities of the future are not what the communities of the past look like. I think there’s a growing need for housing for multi-generational households.

via New housing developments geared toward grandparent-led families | Marketplace from American Public Media.

Dayton already has some of the lowest housing and costs of living in the nation for a city of comparable size. We have incredible amenities and arts and culture but could use some help with community self-esteem and job creation. By moving forward with even more affordable housing options for all and working to create higher density communities in our urban core we could become a potential population growth magnet.

The key to transformation in Dayton isn’t doing what every other community has tried to do- with tax abatement “luring jobs.”

It’s creating reasons people want to live here- and helping them create their own jobs via more competitive cost of living. By changing the cost structures and increasing residential density, cutting the need for cars (zip cars are another option to add to the mix) via SRO/Bike Share/Small grocery solutions- we can have a combination only offered in places like NYC and Chicago at a much more competitive price.


Occupy Dayton IS the “Grande Illumination”

Sandy Gudorf is an overpaid tool of corporate America. As the president of the Downtown Dayton Partnership she is paid more than $100K a year to tax property owners and then give tax breaks to new businesses. She also hires cheap contract labor to do the job of cleaning downtown sidewalks as a way to sidestep standard employment practices.

Now, she also wants to limit free speech- because lighting a Christmas tree is now more important than free speech (never mind the separation of church and state). In the Dayton Daily News she claims that because she brings 30K people to the square and it’s a 39-year-old tradition- we shouldn’t be allowed to protest the giant inequities that have developed in our country- thanks to people like her who believe in corporate welfare more than in human welfare and dignity:

Occupy Dayton, the local Wall Street and establishment protest linked with other protests throughout the nation, is being asked to temporarily move from Courthouse Square downtown for the Nov. 25 Grande Illumination.

The request came Thursday from Sandy Gudorf, president of the Downtown Dayton Partnership, the business group that organizes the holiday ceremonial Christmas tree-lighting and festivities. “We respect their right to protest,” she said. “The kickoff of the holiday season isn’t the right place to make a political statement.”

via Occupy Dayton protest must relocate for Grande Illumination.

The question to ask Ms. Gudorf is how exactly she is going to enforce her personal ban on free speech- will people wearing Obama shirts be asked to leave the square? Or if the Klu Klux Klan shows up in their bedsheets? (she’ll quickly learn that arresting the KKK is impossible, it’s already been tested in the courts).

Sticker; get the money out of politics- the 99%

Sticker available from

Gudorf is an idiot. By whining a few weeks before the event, she’s already begun to solidify the movement’s resolve to be there. I plan on being there wearing my sandwich board- and I’ll be damned if she, or any police officer is going to tell me I don’t have a right to be there.

The Occupy Movement’s real motivation is to enlighten the 99% of the wholesale illegal transfer of wealth though government-sponsored policies that have made our country a third world debtor nation on the brink of collapse. The Sandy Gudorfs of the world have helped banks take our homes, our jobs and destroy our standard of living.

In fact, one of the main reasons the “Grande Illumination” has grown in scale over the recent years is because it’s a free event- something nice people can do who can’t afford a Christmas tree or as many presents as they used to give thanks to the wizards of Wall Street and our sold-out politicians.

I urge you to join me in protesting with the Occupy movement on Nov. 25th at Courthouse Square.

As a shameless plug: my ad agency, The Next Wave has produced some stickers to show your support of the movement and is donating 20% of each sale to the local movement. Stickers are 99¢ each and available at:


After a few days- Gudorf is now only asking for the tents to go – not the protesters- at least, that’s what I’m interpreting.

That’s an acceptable position – but- the protest can and should still go on.

@Shortwest Rick added this video to the discussion- well worth watching:

Same as it ever was…

Dayton voters love the status quo, the safe, the boring, the lame and the same.

Matt Joseph and Dean Lovelace get to sit as placeholders on the City Commission for four more years (until Dean resigns to open up a special election for Rhine McLin after she gets beaten in the commission race in 2 years).

At the Dayton Board of Education- despite voting to give the biggest tax evading corporation in the nation a hall pass, Nancy Nearny (who nearly didn’t make it on the ballot) beat Rev William Schooler by 500 votes to retain her seat, with newcomer Reverend Robert Walker coming in second to labor favorite Sheila Taylor. The crazy thing is – Taylor and Nearny appointed Schooler less than 6 months ago.

Same as it ever was.

Organized labor sent the Republican Governor and the State Senate a message on messing with their collective bargaining- but by almost the same measure, the Obama attempt as universal health care took a smack down showing that Ohio voters are a fickle and not particularly insightful bunch.

Saying these results will have any bearing on next year’s presidential race would be presumptuous- Ohio is still up in the air.

Newcomer Mark Manovich got the serious smack down, with a less than stellar showing, and Gary Leitzell showed his lameness by backing a candidate who pulled the sympathy vote. Don’t expect Leitzell to be elected again.

We can all go to sleep in our city knowing things will stay the same as they ever were and dream of yet another time and place when something sensible finally occurs on voting day.

And, btw- once again, I got to vote for three unopposed judges, as if letting them run until they turn 100 would matter… we still don’t believe in true choice in our (s)elections, so it’s a good thing Issue 1 was going down and they have to back out at 70.

Issue 2- The Dayton Debate

Just in time to vote, Greg Hunter returns from the wild west and we have a spirited discussion on issue 2.

If you haven’t already made up your mind- or just enjoy watching our banter, here you go.

Of course, Greg wants you to vote Yes on issue 2 and support Senate Bill 5 in Ohio, because he has no use for unions or their political power. And I say vote no, because as a whole, this is just another attempt to sidetrack us from what’s really killing our country: politicians like John Kasich, straight from Wall Street- with their screw-the-poor-people attitudes.

Issue 2 has some worthy parts- but, as a whole, it’s just another way to divert us from what really needs to happen: Take the money out of politics.


The Dayton (s)election on Tuesday

I’m not going to tell you how to vote. That would be pompous and very Dayton Daily News like (although rumor had it- they don’t endorse anymore- I don’t know since iOS5 came out- their iPad app has been broken- so I can’t see the editorials).

But, because I tend to tell all when it comes to Dayton politics, I figured my readers should know how I’m voting.

The issues:

Issue 1: I’m voting no. While I think it’s fine that we can have justices for life on the Supreme Court- even they are smart enough to know when to resign for the most part (although it sucks that some have to wait for a President of their persuasion to be in charge before handing over the seat). As to judges in Ohio being able to run later in life- I don’t see the need. As it is- even when they retire- they all can keep serving as visiting judges etc- and do, well past their prime. Let’s give some younger people a shot. Especially since the way we elect judges in Ohio is stupid anyway (there are limits on what they can say or not say when running). We need better ways to elect judges – not a way to keep them in forever.

Issue 2: Vote HELL NO on 2. Even though it has some things I agree with- like requiring government workers to pay at least 15% of their health care costs (too low a bar to begin with) and that it would end the stupidity of “prevailing wage”- and pay for longevity over performance- the idea that collective bargaining goes out the door is insane (just like our Wall Street governor). Instead of using a wrecking ball, this bill needs to be handled like a chisel in the hands of DaVinci- finely trimming the excesses of the ages while still respecting the rights of public employees.

Issue 3: Vote No. Health insurance is no difference than the mob promising not to hurt you if you pay them for “protection”- the idea of leveling the playing field with insurance for all is a step in the right direction- but not really the same as universal health care. This proposition will probably end up in the courts- and just cost us more money arguing while the insurance companies continue to rip us all off as useless middle men with too much power. Unfortunately, we don’t get the option of voting for universal health care- and cutting insurance people out of it altogether.

Dayton City Commission: Matt Joseph hasn’t done anything in 8 years except avoid running against me. His record- what little there is – is that of a placeholder.  Can’t vote for dead weight.

Dean Lovelace- wouldn’t even be in office had Mark Henry not resigned mid-term and created a special election- back in 1989 (I think) – I jumped in that race and siphoned some votes away from the white wives’ candidates: Judy Orick and Mary Sue Kessler, giving Dean his win. He’s been right on predatory lending and the “living wage”- but was so wrong on the equality vote (see reader David Lauri’s page ) and his absolute failure with the Department of Justice intervention for integration- that he’s cost this city its public safety. Not only that, he suffered a stroke a few years ago and has been coddled though it (missing as many meetings as he did- he should have been replaced). We need new blood.

Speaking of blood- we’ve got a bloody mess running- with the tacit approval of Mayor Leitzell- William Pace. The DDN ripped him a new one several weeks after the Dayton Informer published about Pace’s legal mess and bankruptcies. Pace has no business being in office- or even on the ballot, but, that’s because we have a process built into the charter that does a great job of stopping people from running. The reality is- Pace winning might finally cause the voters- or give us a commission that might change the rules- as opposed to having doorstop Joseph and ludicrous Lovelace continue on forever… begrudgingly, since you can’t write in- or recall, or do anything to change it other than to screw it up worse- I’m voting for Pace. Heaven help us.

Mark Manovich wouldn’t be on the ballot had I not gotten him 150 signatures (he got me 50). I’ve known Mark a long time- having served with him on the board of South Park Social Capital- an organization I founded- and he pretty much destroyed (he lost a lot of his own money on it- ’nuff said). Mark is an order of magnitude smarter than anyone on the current commission- and is so far from being a politician (other than having the law degree) that he, combined with Leitzell (another who fits that “so far from being a politician” mold) that we might actually see some interesting conversation at the legal meetings of the commission. I’m voting for Mark- without reservation. He’s the best candidate we’ve had in ages.

Note, in 2 years, things will be much different in the Whaley, Williams, Leitzell races- with many candidates in primaries- and  big money at play. I hope to have some exciting young candidates on the ballot to give us some real brainpower on the commission- if Dayton is still a functioning city… and not a subdivision of Montgomery County.

Dayton School Board- you can vote for three of the four. Not a real choice- it’s just about picking sides. There is Bill Schooler, who has teamed up with Robert Walker for the Full Reverend Ticket- vs. Nancy Nearny/Sheila Taylor team. Which do you want to go with? Who will be the odd person out? We could also call this the battle of the sexes, but why- or even black vs. white.

The real problem is the school board is divided. What’s even more interesting is Nearny and Taylor picked Schooler to be on the board over 5 other qualified candidates. Schooler absolutely gets my vote for voting no on the tax giveaway to UD and GE.

Walker has a long history of service running the Wesley center. I’ve been impressed with him for years. He’s a grounded, well meaning man of principle.

As to Nearny- she almost didn’t make it on the ballot, coming up short- before the Board of (S)Elections found her an extra 8 signatures. She’s the easier one to have a discussion with compared to Taylor who is a County worker in a patronage office.

Since the top 3 vote-getters get in- I’m only voting for 2 – Walker and Schooler. I’d prefer Nearny over Taylor, but, can’t vote for her due to her vote to give GE a tax break. I also don’t appreciate her getting a hall pass on signatures (I was 3 short once- they couldn’t find them for me). I even signed her petition.

These are my opinions- and mine only. You do as you please. It’s a free country (even if elections are generally owned by the 1%).

Remember to vote on Tuesday, November 8. Then pray immediately after- unfortunately this is not an opportunity to elect or vote on the best or smartest, just the best of what we have.