The Dayton Double Standard

My first introduction to the Dayton Double Standard was when I bought my home for $14,500 in 1986. I proceeded to fix it up by putting up new garage doors only to be hauled into court for putting up wood grain vinyl doors in a historic district. First argument was how was I to know, since there were no signs and nothing in the deed. Those arguments fell on deaf ears in City Hall- and in court. The second argument was the exact same style doors were on a house in the Oregon District- owned by a judge. So what- you screwed up.

I ran for mayor. Turned in about 503 signatures and got on the ballot. Did it again a few months after the primary when Mark Henry stepped down and a special election was being held. The next time- gathering signatures the exact same way- I was 3 short. Then even later- when using the voter rolls, I started seeing 20% rejected.

When I bought my office building for $2,200 in 1988 it had $2,400 in back taxes (at $50 a half) a $400 water bill, and was in condemnable condition. I had to fight to get conditional use zoning so I could put a small ad agency in a former grocery store. Every single obstacle was thrown in my way. When it came time to get the “occupancy permit” I was given the run around for 9 months. Rules, we have rules here. I was entitled to a tax break for investing in a historic district- had it not been for city manager for a year, Bill Estabrook- it never would have been granted. Maybe it’s part of the reason he got the boot. I even had a city inspector walk in one day and tell me he’d shut me down for customers parking in front of neighbors homes on a public street. By this time, I’d figured it out and cursed him out telling him if my name was Tom Danis, he wouldn’t be daring to threaten me like this. This wasn’t long after Danis, a prominent local business “leader” paid our police chief, Tyree Broomfield $100,000 to step down.

Ignoring any and all political leanings, I’ve been flabbergasted how it’s become de rigueur for local government to “support economic development” by taking tax dollars paid by all of us and invest in private companies “to create jobs.” MCSi got a lot of help, including having a new headquarters built for them on Hemstead Station Drive, only to soon discover that the company was a total house of cards and the CEO a felon (although he only got 7 days). Yet, we’ve shut down public swimming pools, been unable to maintain public parks, and passed tax levy after tax levy or seen taxes raised to give us ever smaller police and fire services, libraries, schools, etc. I always thought taxes were to provide public services- not to fund private companies- especially those whose owners give large political donations (read about Qbase- please, I broke the story a year before anyone else noticed).

Yet, injustices continue and only the little people seem to get hurt. How does a local business get to write non-stop bad checks without being prosecuted for a felony? I once had an employer stiff me on a paycheck and took him to court and was awarded treble damages- 3x the amount owed, plus court costs. Maybe that I was in Cleveland Heights and not Dayton, where the working man was protected instead of feeling powerless.

I’ve missed filing a form to summarize the filing of other forms- and been fined a large amount and made to pay. Yet, we’ve seen a local business be deeply in arrears on taxes and allowed to carry on. How does this happen? My business is a bit odd in that almost everything we do isn’t subject to a sales tax- because it’s advertising and promotion- the only thing we charge tax on is the printing of business cards, letterhead and envelopes for stationery. A few times, we’ve collected no sales tax- and instead been handed an estimated bill by the state- well in excess of what we’ve ever averaged- and had to go round and round to get it resolved- yet, we’re hearing this business owes thousands in sales taxes- and was still operating.

Ohio regulations on serving liquor say that at 2:30 the caps go on the bottles. It’s now being disclosed that after hours parties at this same establishment were regular occurrences. Do the laws only apply to some people and not to others?

My business has tried for years to land government contracts. We’re eligible under two different set-aside programs and have yet to see it put us in a position for any work. Yet, the same local businessman mentioned above has held government contracts in Montgomery County for years, only recently resigning it after the paper published a story of all the problems he had in other places and his tax situation. My question is how did he get these contracts in the first place- and keep them?

Speaking of doing business with the government, how did Congressman Mike Turner manage to remain unscathed through the Dayton Development Coalition “Get Midwest” debacle in which his wife got a no-bid contract, charged an unbelievable sum and delivered crap? Or, for that matter, wasn’t questioned how his wife was doing work for the Army Corps of Engineers under a GSA Schedule (a GSA Schedule is an open-ended contract to do business with the federal government) while her husband sat on the Armed Services Committee? Or did work for the Home Depot PAC- a seemingly odd thing to do for a small Dayton firm for a company based in Atlanta.

I guess it’s the same as what Orwell talked about in Animal Farm- where all animals are created equal- but some animals are more equal than others. Welcome to Dayton, Ohio. The home of the double standard.

 

3 years later- still an unsolved murder

Dayton Daily News cutting about SGM Woodall Murder

Gone, but never forgotten. SGM Woodall, US Army Special Forces

I almost missed the anniversary thanks to another discussion.

Today marks the third anniversary of the murder of an American hero: Sgt. Maj. North E. Woodall

See the previous posts: http://esrati.com/?s=woodall

You aren’t forgotten Top.

Chief Biehl, we’d still like to see this crime solved.

The story is still hanging on my wall- looking at him every day.

 

Two sides to a public lynching of a small business owner: Sidebar

UPDATE

Sidebar 410 in Dayton is now closed, as of 30 July 2012. Former employees have weighed in with their comments below. It’s not pretty. This post has generated an unreal amount of traffic and comments very quickly.Of all the things I’ve posted since 2005, this has the most backstabbing, vitrol in comments to date. Some of these people worked for Mr. Higgins for almost 2 years- yet totally forget all the paychecks that did clear- and the tips they made, at one of the hippest places we’ve had. Please read the post carefully, because I still don’t believe it deserved the vitrol.

My very first clients for The Next Wave were restaurants. The Video Deli, The Third and Linden Market, Sodexo Marriott’s in house catering for Hobart in Troy, Pacchia. Since 1990, I’ve worked with many small businesses, but, of all of them, restaurants are by far the toughest. Employees act more like free-agents, you are judged by every single transaction based partly on personal taste, and with the advent of the Internet with sites like Yelp, Urban Spoon, Trip Advisor, FourSquare, Facebook and Google Places, every single customer can write a lousy review with impunity.

A Harvard professor did a study and differences in Yelp ratings can have significant effects on revenue. Big impacts.

Plus, depending on weather, and a whole bunch of other factors, restaurant owners almost have to gamble every night on stocking ingredients for making your meal. Predict wrong either way and it can be costly. It’s a very fickle business and I have the utmost respect for every single independent restaurant owner. I also love and appreciate the local character they infuse into a community- if the old adage about good cooking is the way to a man’s heart, a good local restaurant scene is what gives a community a heart and, a personality.

Photo of a protestor of the Sidebar in Dayton Ohio

The first report of trouble to my cell from one of my team

Yesterday, I got a message from one of my team with a picture of a protester outside Sidebar in the Oregon District. Sidebar employees were standing outside picketing with signs saying they hadn’t been paid. We’ve done business with Sidebar and owner Brian Higgins and have known for a long time that he was struggling. The Dayton Daily News did a huge expose on him and his other business- GSSP services, a mortuary service to the county that picked up bodies and delivered them to the morgue. It was pretty clear then that Higgins had monstrous obstacles to overcome, and this protest was going to be one more.  A friend (thanks Jay) found a piece of real investigative journalism from Chicago from 2009 about Higgins’s  operation there. I wouldn’t wish this kind of PR on anybody, and as a PR pro, it’s hard to straighten things out while people are still being handed knives to stick in you.

I put a simple post on Facebook:

Sidebar employees are out front picketing on E. Fifth Street because their paychecks bounced (again). There are two ways to deal with this- honor the protest and make sure they go out of business- or go, spend money and tip extra well and try to keep a great local restaurant in business.
Considering people are lining up at Chik-fila (sic) to show support for a homophobic corporation, we should be able to go help out a local businessman in trouble.
Will you join me there tonight?

I got a few likes and a load of hatred. The local TV stations had no problem putting this story on the news. The protesters were leaving just as I got there last night a little before 11- as was the last news truck. The place that would have normally been rocking and packed, looked like a quiet Tuesday night.

Sidebar employs about 45 people. It also brought a new level of drinks, dining and style to the Oregon District. I love the quinoa salad, the eggplant parmigiana and the beef saltado pizza. My partner loves their drinks- which were all unique and made totally from scratch- fresh squeezed juices, hand-ground spices and even different kinds of custom ice.

I’m also very connected to that space on E. Fifth Street- having helped launch Pacchia there long ago- after Glen Brailey figured out how to sneak a liquor license in to the Oregon District without paying the premium caused by limits imposed by the city. I want to see a restaurant there succeed- and even more  in other spaces like the old furniture store building a few doors east that has been vacant for 30 years. We need the Oregon to flourish.

What bothers me most is that millions upon millions of our tax dollars have been handed out to “create jobs” and “economic development” in this community- they’ve been handed out capriciously (randomly- or maybe not- some go to big campaign contributors). Sidebar hasn’t been on the receiving end of any of this. I was hoping all the people that Brian has given a free drink to, comped a meal (which he’d always do if he found out you were proposing in his restaurant- or he’d comp some champagne) or helped with fundraisers (I’d been to many there- and even held my last election night vigil there- where Brian comped some food) would come out and support him last night- and help put some more money in the bank. I was treated on Facebook like a pariah.

There weren’t any public protests about the money the government poured into MCSi and Mike Peppel, the CEO who stole millions and got 7 days in jail. Nor, have there been protests about the two-tiered tax system at Austin Landing.

Higgins isn’t the first small business to bounce a check, nor is he the only restaurant owner to owe suppliers, or miss tax bills. The list is long. But, he seems to have become our favorite pinata.

To me, there will be no winners in this. I wasn’t asking for a tax dollar supported bailout last night, I was asking for people to go out and eat and drink and to tip the remaining staff well, just in case there isn’t enough money left to pay them either.

I don’t want Sidebar to disappear. I still miss the copper clad wood-fired pizza oven from the original days of Pacchia. I miss Dominic’s garlic salad and their sizzling cheesy lasagna. I miss Kitty’s downtown with their pompous large menus and Seattle East with their really good chicken breast sandwiches and kettle chips and the movie discussions they used to hold in the back room. I miss Blue Moon’s black and white Tuna over a wasabi infused rice cake- and a certain waitress who gave me a birthday kiss- before she went on to become a reporter and then a PR person. I miss What you eat- the little vegetarian place that preceded the Blue Moon – and their white bechamel pesto lasagna and fresh baked bread with honey butter.

All of these restaurants made Dayton a great place to live, but didn’t get the support of our community, while TGI Friday’s and Applebee’s will long be with us.

We have to learn how to stop kicking people when they’re down and learn how to help them up. I am very glad that Blind Bob’s is going to hold a benefit to help the employees that haven’t been paid- they are another class act that deserves your support, but, I hope there is a lesson in all of this.

Third world infrastructure in the United States

Photo of scooter knocked over by Derecho winds in Downtown Dayton Ohio

Derecho winds aren’t good for scooters or orange barrels

Last Thursday, July 26, 2012, was confirmation day: The United States is indeed a third world nation. My partner in life was supposed to fly back from LA to JFK to CVG (Cincinnati). Her flight out of LA was delayed, then when she got to JFK, her flight to Cincinnati was cancelled due to “weather” conditions.  Yes, weather forecasters were predicting the return of the “straight line winds” – or derecho, a weather condition I’d never heard of or experienced before- about 3 weeks previous on a Friday, when I was in Downtown Dayton and my scooter got knocked over not once, but three times (twice with me on it- but not moving yet).

The Friday storm caused major power outages, some lasting almost a week.

It is now Saturday, and she’s still trying to get a flight back to Dayton/Cincinnati. The morning flight at 9:30 was cancelled as well. Traveling from LA to Dayton now takes… let’s see, she left LA at 7:30 a.m. PST on Thursday and is hoping to arrive Saturday at 4 p.m. (Eastern time). That’s 2.5 days.

On Thursday, Apple also released the next version of their operating system, Mac OS X 10.8 “Mountain Lion” and despite being at work, in a high tech business that depends on the Internet, the best speeds that are available to us without paying through the nose, were telling me that the download would take over 4 hours. Apple no longer sells the update on disk or even USB stick, it’s download or bust. The file is about 4 gb – which, it just so happens is around the amount the monthly limit is for cell phone data transfer- leaving those in rural areas limited options in getting access to the software. I finally had to pause the download at work and come home to finish it where it only took an hour and a half to finish the other 2 gb. Please note, that Estonia, Finland and South Korea all have much higher bandwidth available.

We also tried to join in on a webinar on Thursday. This is not a high bandwidth operation, just PowerPoint slides and voice. Our Internet was disrupted over 6 times, while we were experiencing lightning.

Last night, I replaced a thermostat in the house that had somehow lost its programming in Wednesday’s lightning storm. Despite lightning being a pretty common occurrence (unlike Derecho winds) it still manages to knock out essential services and play havoc with infrastructure. This is 2012 people, we put a man on the moon in 1969- and we’re still not capable of building weather proof infrastructure? Smart communities put electrical wires, phone wires and even cable tv in the ground for good reason.

What worries me more is that extreme weather seems to becoming more the norm and we’re becoming more dependent on electricity and the Internet. That new thermostat? It even has an Internet connection (if you aren’t familiar with the Nest programmable thermostat, watch the video and buy one now– it’s an amazing piece of energy-saving technology).

With global warming or climate change- or whatever it is that’s happening (I still believe that we’ve got our heads in the sand about pollution caused by our reliance on fossil fuels) we’re only beginning to see weather becoming a major challenge to life as we know it. As far as I know, a tornado has never hit downtown Dayton- but has hit Xenia more than a few times in my lifetime- now we have Derecho winds? What’s next.

The fact that it takes 2.5 days to fly from LA to Dayton- is like we’ve been put in a time machine. That’s what it took in the twenties. By car, the 2790 miles would take 44 hours, that’s a half day less, and of course by car, she wouldn’t have been routed to JFK to get to DAY. As a comparison, except for earthquakes disrupting high speed trains, a 300 mph train would have made the journey in 9.3 hours – with internet access all the way, a first class style seat, the ability to dine in luxury and move a lot more people for a lot less energy (I can’t find a definitive study, but this is interesting reading on Wikipedia: Fuel Efficiency in Transportation).

The pattern of investment in our country on infrastructure and the way we let private companies own public utilities isn’t preparing us for the future. Building more highways for cars while ignoring high speed rail, ignoring much of our country’s availability of true high speed internet, and the hardening of our airports from terrorism while not hardening our powergrid from the elements shows a complete and utter failure of leadership and vision for our “Superpower Nation.”

And despite Coloradan’s recent rush to buy guns for self-protection due to the actions of one crazy guy with red hair and an arsenal, the wild fires and drought are a much bigger threat to our country. Food stability is essential to democracy- to quote Mark Twain, “Principles have no real force except when one is well-fed” and we’re looking forward to much higher food prices thanks to our current droughts effects on agriculture.

In a society that’s become more interconnected via systems and technology, our political stability is dependent on these systems working and being dependable. What typically defines third world countries is instability in everything from political leadership to running water and sanitation systems. I still remember the wind storm a few years back where my house was without power for 9 days. What kind of third world nation is the United States becoming?

 

Kansas City tries a pilot bike share program

While Dayton waits for the $4 million paddle boat run, Kansas City is jumping ahead with a small Bike share program.

The pedaling population of Kansas City is expected to increase with the arrival of a bike-sharing program that has been a success in other cities.

Ninety sturdy bicycles will come rolling into downtown today to inaugurate B-cycle, a program intended to make it easier for people to get exercise while reducing automobile pollution.

The bikes will be parked at 12 docking stations sprinkled throughout downtown and will be available to anyone with a credit card.“It’s a self-service bicycle rental system,” said Eric Rogers, executive director of BikeWalkKC, an organization promoting B-cycle. “The idea is basically like Redbox, but for bikes.”

via Bike sharing rolls into Kansas City – KansasCity.com.

And of interest- one of the sponsors is a health care organization- Blue Cross, Blue Shield.

For a nice review, explanation and photos: http://maniger.blogspot.com/2012/07/one-more-step-kansas-city-b-cycle.html

I’m not finding a price for the system, but when I was first investigating Bcycle for Dayton the cost was about $3,000 per seat. So KC probably came in around $300,000 for their small starter system.  In the post above- you’ll notice that the bikes are being sponsored by local business advertising as well.

Also- the Wikipedia entry for bike share has really improved: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bicycle_sharing_system

Now that Premier is trying to cram 1,000 people into a building at 2nd and Main- maybe they might realize that adding a bike share system could save time, money and parking issues for employees shuttling between the office tower and MVH main campus.

Booty shorts: what product are you selling?

grey goose

“Booty shorts” Creative Commons License JASON ANFINSEN via Compfight

Today I’m trying something new. I’m writing something for my kids. I have 2 girls, currently 9 and 13. The older one (M) seems to have great desire to hang her derriere out of the bottom of her shorts. I’m approaching this from an advertising perspective since that’s what I do to put a roof over her head.

M. I’ve got a friend, Sally Hogshead (whom you met in Orlando at Starbucks before we headed home from Disneyworld) who is one of the most brilliant advertising minds I know. She’s also pretty hawt, just like you. It’s no secret among us in the advertising world that sex sells stuff. It’s one of those things in life that works better than it should- but it’s also intellectually weak, so we tend to try not to use it when we don’t have to.

Sally’s no stranger to doing ads that are risque. She’s done some for Dolce and Gabbana that border on pornography, and work for the Hard Rock hotel people in Las Vegas that try to make them the ultimate “what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas” sort of place.

Why would advertising do ads like this? To make their products memorable, to make you have some kind of emotional punch in the gut, to ultimately make people lust after whatever it is you’re selling- even if it has nothing to do with sex or sex appeal.

I hope you are smart enough to know that very expensive sunglasses don’t make ugly people look great when you look through them- but that they can make mediocre looking  people look better wearing them. Sally used one of advertising’s tricks to make you think that as long as you’re wearing their shades, you’ll constantly be running into very sexy people because they make you feel sexy- and we know that sex sells.

While Sally can still make ads for a living, that’s not her primary profession anymore. She teaches people “How to fascinate”– it’s a pretty cool gig for her, because she’s a very interesting person from an incredibly fascinating family. Her father is an orthopoedic surgeon (and no I didn’t spell it wrong, that’s the way the Brits spell it and how Dr. Hogshead prefers it) and her older sister, Nancy Hogshead, won 3 gold medals in the Olympics in swimming and is a big proponent of Title IX (making it possible for your little sister to play football if she wants). Her brother went to Harvard and is a really smart guy too- but doesn’t jump in the limelight like his sisters. She even jokes about her last name, Hogshead (on her business card it says “A hogshead is 62 gallons, what’s your last name mean smartass?”) as driving her to stand out as someone other than the girl with a funny name in school- you thought it was a horrible name when you first heard it- didn’t you? Once you met her, you wouldn’t dare think of someone with a hog head on their shoulders would you?

The 7 Triggers for Fascination

Seven ways to be fascinating

But this post is about “booty shorts” not hogsheads. It’s about what you say when your ass cheeks are hanging out the bottom of your pants. I understand you think it’s cool to be “hawt” and have the boys all go wild when you’re around and shaking your butt when you walk- but lets instead take an analytical look at what booty shorts are doing from Sally’s Fascination triggers. Yep, she’s come up with the science of desire- breaking down the ways we get attention and become fascinating to our audience to seven different “triggers”- tools that you have at your disposal to get and hold someone’s attention:

  • Power
  • Prestige
  • Mystique
  • Passion
  • Alarm
  • Rebellion
  • Trust

Now, I’ll let you in on a little secret- when she first wrote the book “Fascinate” two of the names were slightly different. Passion was “Lust” and rebellion was “vice”- so when you see me in my The Next Wave t-shirt and it says “Create Lust • Evoke Trust” you may better understand why Sally and I worked together. We both came to the same conclusions and put them into similar words. When we were still working on the draft, before the title was finalized, there was a focus on goldfish- because research had made the claim that our attention span was now around 9 seconds- about the same as a goldfish.

Boys your age are a lot like goldfish btw, as we start exploring my rationale for “hating on” booty shorts,

So which triggers do you think you use in wearing booty shorts? Well, you can use a bunch of them at the same time – but it’s pretty easy to analyze that there are some you aren’t using: Power, and trust are both out- and although teenage boys may think you are using mystique- arousing their curiosity, you are actually doing the opposite- there is nothing left to the imagination other than seeing you with your shorts off- you’ve taken away any reason to be curious about you in a meaningful way.

Now- as to Passion- remember it used to be called lust- there is a big difference between those two terms. To be passionate about something is noble- deep and strong. To be passionate about saving the world is a lot different than to lust after everything in the world, right? It’s why Sally had to refine her thesis (a thesis is her way of explaining her ideas) so that people didn’t go off in the wrong direction. So when you’re wearing booty shorts- you aren’t using passion- you’re using lust- and it’s off the approved trigger list.

You think you are using Rebellion- because you know I don’t approve. But, it’s not from my position as dad, but from my position as an advertising guy. Remember, rebellion used to be called vice- but isn’t anymore. Being truly rebellious is defined by me as an act of courage. For the people in the Arab states who fought against their countries’ rulers- was rebellion. Showing up with a slingshot at a gunfight takes bravery- and a willingness to risk your life to make a point and try to change the world. Vice on the other hand, means doing something you know you shouldn’t do- like smoking dope, drinking to excess, gambling money you can’t afford to lose or having sex for the wrong reasons. Wearing booty shorts is a shortcut to vice- not an act of rebellion.When I was growing up, wearing jeans was consider rebellious- funny huh? And the rebel in blue jeans was James Dean, and the jeans of choice were Levi’s. But, by the time I was wearing them- everyone was. We weren’t rebelling anymore- we were just saying we wanted to be like him, because the rebellion was already over- suit and tie or slacks and dress shirts had already given way to jeans and t-shirts. To be a rebel now- booty shorts don’t really work anymore. They’ve become the Levi’s of the wannabes. Anyone can wear them- and so most of your friends in school are. That doesn’t mean they are fascinating- it means that you are all conforming and competing with each other for the vice vote.

There is the alarm trigger left. “Create urgency and need” as Sally defines it. Originally, Sally wouldn’t let “Alarm” be a primary trigger in her test that I helped her implement. Over time, she’s refined the test so it can be a primary- but it one of the hardest to use effectively- without backfiring. Politicians like to use it – coupled with fear, to get people to vote for them. It’s the trigger that can make people do things they normally wouldn’t do. Like it or not- booty shorts’ use of this trigger is like fireworks on the 4th of July- especially to boys your age- and even to men my age. They scream “look at my nearly naked butt” and tease at seeing the rest of it. This isn’t advertising- it’s pandering. It’s saying I’ll let you have a peek, a taste- it’s like giving away a free sample at Cinnabon  (one of Sally’s favorite vices) where they just know that if you have a taste you’ll want to buy a whole one.

Of all the triggers you’d want to attract boys with- is this the one you really want to use? Wouldn’t you rather use prestige, mystique, passion or trust? With Alarm- it only works until someone comes with a louder siren- a thong- and then, naked. This isn’t very difficult- any of your friends can top you in a minute on the alarm scale, it’s as easy as taking off their shorts. I would hope at this point you are starting to understand why I cringe when I see you competing for fascination with this trigger.

There are so many things to love about you, to be fascinated by, to attract boys with. All I’m asking is to ditch the booty shorts and try using a more sophisticated trigger. You want to attract boys who will stick around for more than nine seconds, don’t you? Booty shorts are goldfish bait, you on the other hand- are worthy of a lot more respect and interest.

Let’s try another trigger to fascinate, one that says you’re a unique, interesting, wonderful young woman. Because that’s how I, and the world would see you- unless you’re wearing those stupid short shorts.

Dayton’s culture of fear

If you’ve been in Dayton for any length of time, you’ve come to realize that we don’t have 6 degrees of separation, we have about 1.2. You’ll see it in your connections on LinkedIn and Facebook. Hardly any of my 1,500 friends on FB in Dayton only have 1 friend in common- and people who connect with me usually have a posse of shared friends. Same on LinkedIn where almost all my connections share a connection- very few are 3 people away meaning that neither of us know one person who knows us both- but that we both know people who know each other.

So why the focus on this seemingly positive, small community in a post about the “Culture of fear”- because we worry too much about what our friends might think if we take an actual stand on an issue.

I spoke to a friend whom I’d helped recently- and asked for a recommendation and got this answer “Oh, but I can’t say that publicly, I don’t want to raise any waves.” Another friend, lamented to me that despite his long-term work for a politician and strong support- he was unable to get an endorsement. Of course, if he wins his upcoming race- everyone will be his new best friends. Ask the Mayor of Dayton, Gary Leitzell, who ran against an incumbent who raised 6x as much as he did- if people talk to him now who wouldn’t give him the time of day before. Or, the supporter who isn’t willing to give $200 to your Congressional campaign because it reports to the FEC, but has no problem writing a check for $199. I’ve heard people use the excuse that they can’t support a challenger to an incumbent because they are on the board of a non-profit and wouldn’t want to risk support to their charity should the challenger not win.

Have a great idea? First question out of possible supporters- “has this been done somewhere else before” – this is from people in a city that takes great pride in being the birthplace of aviation. Were people asking the Wright brothers that question- and then ignoring the idea just because no one had ever flown in a heavier than air machine before?

Our community is paralyzed by this culture of fear. We’re immobilized forever as if caught in concrete and cast in bronze. Why can’t we do regionalization right and do it now? There are plenty of examples that government can be done in a more unified way across this country- but we still won’t act. The English had rules about the taxation of tea, did the founding fathers just sit around and accept the stupidity of laws and taxation from afar? Our rules about jurisdictions in Ohio come from the Northwest Ordinance of 1785- do you think it’s time to update them?

When will the real leaders step forward and start making changes? When will we stop worrying about not upsetting the status quo? When will we set our sights on accomplishing things that have never been done before instead of sheepishly crawling in long after the process or program has been thoroughly tested and proven.

It’s hard to be a visionary looking forward in Dayton, Ohio, when the whole culture is focused on watching your own back.

Benefits for employees who help the community

One of the “selling points” I’ve often heard people use for justifying their staying in Dayton (the region) is that “it’s a good place to raise kids”- and the other is that it’s affordable. But in general, our community has a collective self-loathing that makes no sense.

Every time I hear about a hurricane, earthquake, wildfire, water shortages or the price of a studio apartment in New York City I say to myself – wow, we’ve got it great in Dayton. But, employers are still  complaining that they have a hard time finding and keeping good employees- and we also see a lot of rearranging of the deck chairs in the name of “economic development” with businesses moving away from foreclosures, crime, disinvestment instead of attacking the problem head on.

The only exception that I know of has been Premier Health Partners who’ve invested heavily in the Fairgrounds Neighborhood with the Genesis Project, and then in the neighborhoods surrounding Good Sam with the Phoenix project. Only in the last few years has Kettering Health followed suit in the area around Grandview (which may be an example of too little, too late).

As part of the Genesis project, Premier quietly gave “Employer Assisted Housing” a shot. Instead of just renovating and building new homes and hoping that they’d attract better neighbors, Premier offered down payments of up to $10K for employees to buy homes in the surrounding neighborhoods (including South Park), You can call it social engineering, but there is a lot to be said for protecting your investment. They never quite got the nurse who moved next door to walk to work- which would have been an even bigger savings to them since the cost of parking is a necessary evil for them- but, they managed to stabilize a house and have one less home requiring police calls on a regular basis (my old neighbors were constantly threatening to kill each other in between getting married, divorced and remarried).

Premier has gone out of their way to improve safety in our neighborhoods by funding two neighborhood police officers and for the first ten years, a social worker who helped the police try to connect problem homes with social services. It was an ambitious effort.

The investment has paid off, with most property values increasing (until the 2009 crash) and the community strengthening. As far as we know, they no longer offer the housing assistance, but, in our eyes it was money well spent.

Which brings me to an event happening next Monday- (full disclosure- my business, The Next Wave has worked with Tammy Murphy over the last half dozen years) a FREE seminar explaining the benefit of employer-assisted housing and how it can help companies attract and retain the best possible employees:

Monday, July 16 from 7:30 am – 11:00 am. This event includes FREE BREAKFAST BUFFET for those who RSVP in advance. The following is scheduled agenda to which you, fellow co-workers, HR Personnel, Managers or interested parties are invited (just please be sure to RSVP so we can have an accurate count for participation.)

7:30 am Breakfast / Networking
8:00 am Opening Remarks WELCOME
8:15-9:00 City Mayor(s) Discussion
9:00-9:30 Guest Speaker
9:30-10:00 Non-Profit Organizations
10:00-10:30 Lender Panel Remarks
10:30-11:00 Realtor Panel Remarks

via E A H | The “FORUM” Agenda has been set.

As someone who has seen the benefit of Employer Assisted Housing work as a tool for strengthening both the neighborhood and employee retention (most of the plans include some term of service) I encourage those of you who are running businesses that are in questionable neighborhoods, or in growth mode and looking for ways to make recruiting easier, to attend.

There is one other government program that you should consider in relationship to an EAH plan- if your business is in a HUBzone (an area designated by the SBA as a Historically Underutilized Business zone) which includes much of Dayton including South Park- and at least 35% of your employees live within the HUBzone, you are able to bid on government contracts as a set aside. Vaughn Interior Concepts (the local company that’s saving ISUS) has managed to parlay their HUBzone status into a continuous workflow from the Veterans Administration. Besides being a great neighborhood to live in, I’ve encouraged my staff over the years to live in the neighborhood and walk to work, which has worked out well and has also helped us maintain our HUBzone status.

With the price of commuting rising, getting employees to be within walking distance can also act as an effective raise. There is zero downside to offering this kind of benefit- so RSVP asap, as seats are getting scarce.

The return of Carmen’s Deli

Thanks to the efforts of a whole lot of people, fans of Haitham Iman and his little deli, Carmen’s Deli has signed a 10-year lease in the space at the corner of 2nd and St. Clair in the Kettering tower. The new owner, Albert Macanian of Dunkirk Realty seems to understand how important small businesses on the ground level are- he turned down an offer for more money per square foot from a non-profit that had its eyes on the space.
The best news, is that during the three months it’s going to take to build out the current space, Haitham is going to be able to operate out of the old King Cole/Olivias, Michaels, Mr. Hyman’s rent free- he’ll be open next Wednesday, July 18th, 2012.
Premier Health Partners is even helping out- allowing him to post signs on his former space telling his patrons about the new location.

This was all done with no help from the City of Dayton office of “economic development” or the “Downtown Dayton Partnership”- who would prefer to give away our tax dollars to random businesses or throw parties respectively.

Please make an effort to stop in and see Haitham starting next Wednesday!

Blind faith and con men in politics

A few of the posts on this site have been getting a lot of attention from people in Arkansas lately and the Special Operations community, the ones about the young paratrooper who fell out of the sky into Dayton and immediately set up a “non-profit” – “Citizens 4 Change,” to save us from ourselves. His ties to Dayton were, from memory, because a girlfriend’s family was from here- but, it really didn’t matter, because the guy we knew as Kenneth Wade or Kenneth Wade A, is now the Democratic Congressional candidate in Arkansas district 3- running against a Republican incumbent in a Republican District– and making a royal mess of it.

When he pulled up stakes in Dayton, he went to West Memphis, Arkansas, and started with the non-profit thing again- this time as “Residents 4 Arkansas” which lasted about a heartbeat and a half, before he moved across the state to Russellville and decided to run for Congress, now known as Kenneth Aden.

Publicly supplied Photo of Kenneth Wade Aden in military uniform

Ken Wade Aden in uniform, no Special Forces Tab- but, we’re looking at the wrong sleeve.

The mess seems to be that little Kenneth (I say this because of his physical size and his behavior) seems to have a problem with telling the truth. While in Dayton, he never mentioned Special Forces as part of his military service. I knew him as a paratrooper with the 82nd who had served in Iraq. His bio, that I had posted here– from his early congressional site said nothing of SF. But apparently, that wasn’t enough of a military record for Ken- he decided to start telling people he had completed the Q course and was SF qualified- although in his picture in uniform- he doesn’t display the SPECIAL FORCES tab- that’s been the standard since I got out.

Personal note- full disclosure: Just like Ken, I went to the Q Course and for personal reasons, I self-selected out 2 days before the completion of Phase 1- I wasn’t sent to the 82nd- but instead was given orders to serve first with Service Company, 5th Special Forces, and then to Service Company, 7th Special Forces- ostensibly until I would go back through the course. I was a radio operator, 05B, with the 1A4 designator for Morse code, and a paratrooper. At that time, radio operators who could master the dots and dashes were in short supply. I was separated from the Army on Temporary Disability Retirement Leave (TDRL) after an injury that was made worse by poor military medical care (The one time I was proud of the Dayton Daily News was when they did the exposé of military medicine and won the Pulitzer– I could have been a case study), came to Dayton to enroll at Wright State under VA chapter 31 benefits. After 18 months, I was re-evaluated medically, deemed fit for service- given options to return to active duty, separate or enter the Reserves- which was the choice I made. I was  assigned to the 11th Special Forces (Reserve) in Jamestown- where I was placed on an A-team as the secondary radio operator- still not having completed the Q-course. My last quarter of college, due to the demands of work, school and Reserve duty- I separated from the 11th group and never received other orders. My only permanent party duty was served in an SF unit through my entire military career- I have never worn any other patch. Therefore I’ve always said I served with Special Forces- not in it, and have been through enough training to fully understand and respect the mission and to speak with authority on the subject.

Maybe it was because Ken knew his BS wouldn’t fly with me, it never came up in Dayton, but, as it’s been unfolding in Arkansas, the Democrats are now stuck with a candidate suffering from self-inflicted stupidity. His campaign will unlikely raise another dollar, nor will voters take much of what he says seriously. He’s also being accused of embellishing his academic achievements- with claims of degrees and post-grad work that seem hard to verify.

However, Ken, as the eternal optimist that he is, is still going around telling people the sky is green and grass is blue- and that this is all an attempt by the incumbent to “swift boat” him. Last week, his campaign manager quit. And to top it all off, the Army has taken the initiative to issue new orders rescinding what may have been a doctored DD-214 or a clerical error, that had shown Ken as 18B qualified (after I left active duty- the Army changed the SF Q qualification from a designator on your Military Occupational Specialty (MOS) to an actual MOS- the 18 series- when I was on active duty I would have been a 05B1a4PK  (or something like that- it’s been 25 years I’m sorry if I don’t remember the exact way it breaks)  but now I’d have been an 18E). Even Aden’s former platoon sergeant pulled a recommendation letter he had submitted in favor of Ken- saying he’d been duped by our con man.

Aden is still not doing the honorable thing and resigning from the campaign to give the people of Arkansas a chance to run someone else. He’s announced an online  town hall for July 11th to clarify matters.

Many veterans are blaming the Supreme Court for dropping the “Stolen Valor” laws against lying about military records– but, if there is one thing I can say about the military- they do keep records- and there are very few things you do solo in the military that can’t be verified that are worth talking about. From my experience, it was even hard to poop in private on most occasions. Lying about your military service almost never works.

The sad thing about all this is that once again, the voters are the ones who get robbed. For a democracy, where the ballot is supposed to give us an opportunity to make changes in leadership and change the course of our nation, very rarely do we feel we’re given choices among the best of what America has to offer.

There is the issue of getting on the ballot, where the two major political parties have monopolized the process and served as gatekeepers to keep people off the ballot. There is the issue of costs to communicate your positions- with the average cost of running for Congress over a million dollars and climbing. We’ve allowed gerrymandering to decide more elections than voters and last but not least, you either have to be an empty suit or a glutton for punishment to put your life under the microscope of public opinion and the political dirty-tricks squads. We’ve almost engineered a system for sociopaths  or megalomaniacs to be the only ones willing to run.

Kenneth Wade or Kenneth Aden isn’t the only questionable person out there. I’ve had to tell a former county employee/school board member not to lie about serving with Special Forces right here in Dayton. We’ve had the local Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance running around behind Rev. Raleigh Trammell for years bullying local politicians and engaging in the joining of church and state (despite their non-profit status) – and finally, it took the FBI to come in and shut down Reverend Trammell for welfare fraud (something he’d already served time for in the late 70’s) only after he practically destroyed the SCLC.  Seriously, who vets the people we elect? Voters aren’t given enough information to even make an informed decision on the ones who make it on the ballot.

We do background checks on teachers, police officers and even little league coaches. We probably should be doing it on most preachers from the history of the Catholic Church and abuse. Shouldn’t we start requiring it of candidates for office?

But then again- we know that once we elect most of them, they become crooks anyway? How else do you explain the fact that our beloved Congressman, Michael Turner, has let his wife serve as a funnel for dirty political money into his household for years? (The no-bid contract for the Dayton Development Coalition was awarded to Lori Turner’s now defunct company- The Turner Effect, as well as work from the Home Depot PAC and the Army Corps of Engineers- on a GSA schedule no less- while he was on the Armed Services Committee- well documented on this site). And, from this header Mike posted on his Facebook account– you’d almost think he served (I chastised him for it and it disappeared)

Facebook header photo that would make you think Mike Turner served in The Air Force

Putting “Michael Turner” and “Serving” and “US Air Force” together is almost “stolen valor”

 

I’ve had a guy cut my hair who served 18 years for murder who I think I’d trust more than Mike Turner to do the right thing for the people as a congressman. But, he can’t run for Congress- it’s one of the few things that disqualifies you from running.

Kenneth Wade Aden may be a liar, but, as long as we continue to auction off seats in Congress- we’ve got a House full of them.

My advice to the people of Arkansas 3- tell him to stop campaigning and don’t give him another dime, but go ahead and vote for him and send him to D.C.- where he’ll either fit right in- or actually make the rest of them so nervous that things may actually change.