It’s not “your money” to build Huber Heights Music Center, Councilman Campbell

What happened to Memorial Hall once the Victoria reopened, and then what happened to the Victoria once the Schuster opened? Or what has happened to Hara Arena since UD Arena, the Dayton Convention Center and then the Nutter Center opened? What is the utilization rates of all these venues? Hint: our population hasn’t grown at near the rate of the seats and spaces for events.

Now Huber Heights is being run by? Concert Promoters? Really? I’ve known Mick Montgomery (Canal Street Tavern) and Jerry Gilloti (Gillys) for years and I doubt there is anyone who knows the vagaries of booking music acts better than these two men, and I’ll place a bet neither of them would say Dayton can support a “Fraze 2” in Huber Heights without cannibalizing the track record of the Fraze.

(Huber Heights Councilman Mark) Campbell said Huber Heights hasn’t identified how the music center would be funded, but didn’t rule out potential sources such as federal grant money, sponsors and selling the venue’s naming rights. That could generate about $6 million to help offset the cost, Campbell said. TIF money also could be used to build it and once the music center is fully operational, Campbell projects it would generate about $500,000 in profit per year.

City officials said the music center would not compete with the Fraze Pavilion in Kettering, a popular 4,300-seat venue that opened in 1991. The $2.6 million venue was funded 100 percent by community donations, according to Amy Berlean, Kettering’s community information manager.

Campbell hopes the city can work with Kettering to “enhance the region.”

“The Fraze doesn’t have the same type of location we do,” Campbell said. “They have longevity. The buzz in government is cooperation and working together. It’s a really good opportunity to put our money where our mouth is. What’s good for us is what’s good for the region, and vice versa.”

via Huber music center creates high hopes.

There used to be a lot more ice rinks in town before Kettering built one with tax dollars. Dayton had a Moore’s Nautilus downtown until they sunk millions of tax dollars into Joe Moores competition- the downtown YMCA and Joe closed his gym and said goodbye to Dayton. There is a reason you don’t see private libraries- who could charge for entry and renting books when there is a tax supported library that doesn’t charge? Private swimming pools also have struggled as have private golf courses that are priced for the “common man.” The list goes on.

The sad truth is that The Fraze didn’t make money for a good number of years. Finding and retaining the right mix of a successful promoter/booking agent, advertising, good weather and the right acts on the right days is almost a black magic art. Big names won’t even stop at a venue in a small market on prime weekend nights, and only if they are on the way between other gigs. This isn’t as easy as build it and they will come. Some idiot has even thought that Dayton could support two professional hockey teams at once which was a joke. UD and WSU won’t even play each other in basketball- and WSU has never been able to come close to filling the Nutter the way UD does for hoops. There are many factors at play and no guarantees.

If we had regional government, this wouldn’t even be on the horizon, but we don’t. Last I checked, Huber Heights citizens wouldn’t vote to increase their taxes for a needed school levy, yet the city council seems to think that they should speculate $18 million on a concert hall? Mr. Campbell talks about “putting our money where our mouth is” and misses the point- it’s the people’s money and they would prefer to use it to put food in their mouths, than support a concert venue that may or may not make money, but will most definitely cost them premium dollar to go to.

Kettering has evolved over the years into a model for a balanced and effective community that seems to put the needs of its citizens first. Good schools, good neighborhoods, good parks and recreation. If Huber Heights thinks it’s ready to be Kettering 2, that’s fine, but the problem is, very few followers ever manage to move to number one by doing the same thing. And, people willing and able to plop down $50 or more per ticket to concerts are a shrinking market as those in the know will tell you.

All this “development” is just sprawl being mislabeled, just like “our money” is. Huber Heights doesn’t exactly have a track record of developmental success with “The Heights” a multimillion dollar housing boondoggle in the same area as this mythical music venue. This concert venue is unneeded and unnecessary and unrealistic. Find other ways to spend tax dollars to improve the city, without killing one of our region’s true gems- The Fraze.

Merry Christmas, and here’s the tax bill

Fiscal cliff or no fiscal cliff, reeling in federal spending isn’t going to make a difference, you’re still getting stuck with the bill. No matter what the feds do to tax the rich, or keep the Bush tax cuts in place, local governments have been squeezed at both ends.

Federal dollars from “the stimulus” are drying up, state dollars were cut, then cut again and property tax collections are still lagging thanks to the drops in property values due to the “too big to fail” failures of the wizards of Wall Street. Even sales tax revenues have dropped most places thanks to on-line retailers not charging sales tax in states where they don’t have a physical presence (Amazon doesn’t charge sales tax in Ohio for instance). And, despite cuts to your public safety forces, services and trying to squeeze every last dollar of savings, the local governments are still hurting. Schools can’t pass levies and now parents are having to pay for extra-curricular activities and maybe are even driving their kids to school.

Now, we’re seeing communities like Riverside discounting the tax credit on income taxes collected earned outside Riverside. Without a public vote, the Riverside Council just made the effective income tax rate on their residents who work in Dayton 3% and if they work in Oakwood, 3.25%. Watch as other communities follow suit. Beavercreek is considering its first income tax– which will supposedly be countered by some discounts in property taxes, and even Oakwood is considering some changes, because they are going to lose millions they’ve counted on in the past, disappearing due to the repeal of the estate tax.

Since none of these taxing districts consider themselves as additional overhead- every single one of them believes that their little government is worthy of existence despite the fact that most citizens couldn’t name more than half the names of their council if they were asked.

Already a group is working to place the issue on the ballot in Riverside. Of course, since Riverside is run with a modern charter, their residents, unlike Dayton, can actually petition their government:

According to the Montgomery County Board of Elections, 638 signatures are required, which is 10 percent of the votes cast for the last governor’s race in 2010.

via Tax credit reduction challenged.

In Dayton, it would take almost 14,000 signatures to put it on the ballot- which is about half of the turnout in the last governors’ race. It takes almost that many signatures just to run for Commission in Dayton.

So, no matter what you think of Congress, maybe, we should start looking locally at redundancy and waste in local government. Waste like paying Commissioner Lovelace until he has his 20 years in for retirement, despite his missing almost a year of work. Waste like paying to tear down houses that we don’t own, because we’re too scared to hand the bill back to the owners. Waste like having so many councils, commissions and school boards in a county that’s been staying the same population for the last 30 years but has allowed sprawl that’s costing us a fortune. Or, waste like buying buildings that have no public purpose, or funding private businesses with tax dollars based on how much money they donated to the politicians’ campaigns.

A government by the people, for the people wouldn’t keep growing beyond our ability to pay for it. It’s time to rightsize the patchwork of local governments, school boards, public safety and tax districts into a much simpler, more efficient system. Call it regionalization or reinventing government, but it’s an idea that we can’t ignore anymore.

Not unless you want to keep getting stuck with the bill. Merry Christmas.

A responsible state

In prisons, the guards inside don’t have guns. Yet, the response of the NRA to the Sandy Hook massacre is to turn our teachers into armed guards. For a country that already doesn’t fund its schools well, and local police forces are having to cut staff to stay in budget, we’re not in a position to pay to secure every last public place just in case someone goes wacko and starts shooting up the place.

As to the wackos- we pretty much shut down all our state sponsored mental institutions under Reagan and began our problem with homelessness. It seems to be beyond our grasp that some people are not capable of functioning normally within society due to challenges in life, but, on the other hand – totally acceptable to pour trillions into places like Iraq and Afghanistan to try to make them “safe for democracy.”

A truly responsible State, would never allow its own veterans to be homeless, while building schools and roads in far away places, and funding public security forces there, while its own citizens are getting murdered by the boatload here.

So, of course, I’m instantly a gun hater, gun banner and have no respect for the Second Amendment. I want to ban guns, or take away your firepower- which protect you just in case, you happen to be watching a movie at midnight and a whack job shows up in full body armor shooting with an assault rifle. Nancy Lanza had a whole arsenal of weaponry “to protect her”- and as the saying goes, those who live by the gun, die by the gun. She was the first, but the only one who wasn’t innocent that died in Connecticut.

We live in a state where you can’t cut hair for money without a license and an exam. Last I heard, a bad haircut never put anyone in the hospital. To sell another persons home, you need a license, to drive a car, to fly a plane, to sell insurance, to practice law, medicine and to be an architect. Whom are we protecting with all these licenses, permits, tests and insurance? We even have F&I insurance for corporate boards so they won’t get sued after they rob their shareholders of their life’s savings.

Yet, to buy something designed to kill people, no license, no test, no insurance. By their nature, guns are an offensive weapon, meant to do harm to someone or something living. But, the argument is, if you take away the good guys guns, only the bad guys will have them. And to me, that’s the last straw. Live by the gun, die by the gun.

I am not afraid of a government of the people, by the people, that expects me not to have to deal with the risk of getting shot every time I leave the house. This is not the wild west, and I don’t want to live there. If I wanted to live somewhere where I run risks of that- I can go to Afghanistan and even there, I’m afraid I might actually be safer. All I’m asking for is well regulated gun ownership, responsible gun ownership. If you want to own a gun, you must pass a real training course, you must certify at least annually, you carry insurance for your gun (or guns) and take full responsibility if they are used in a crime.

As to the “bad guys” who want to have a gun and use it in a crime, or have it out in public without license, insurance and registration (unavailable to those with a felony record), it’s really quite simple- we shoot you on the spot with your own gun and destroy it. What gun loving member of the NRA wouldn’t love that? Because, they are all the good guys- who are going to save us from shooters like the one in Aurora.

And while I fully understand posse comitatus and don’t want the military to deploy here, I ask is it much different if we did put armed guards all over? I’d rather have our soldiers here than in Afghanistan, but, then again, why should we need armed guards in our midst. Even prisoners don’t have to live like that.

And one last thing, I’m pretty sure our Congressmen aren’t allowed to pack heat at work, but, I bet budget debates would be settled a lot quicker if they were. It’s time we stopped dancing around this issue and take some responsibility for our death rate from guns in this country. We banned jarts didn’t we?

Benghazi vs. Sandy Hook and Susan Rice vs. the gun lobby

When the American ambassador to Libya was killed in Benghazi,  half way around the world, in a foreign land, in a far from friendly place, Susan Rice made a statement on behalf of the Obama administration based on information provided to her by the intelligence community.

It later proved to be inaccurate, and because of whining by the Republican side of Congress, she is no longer being considered as a possible replacement for Hillary Rodham Clinton as secretary of state.

Yet, Friday, in Sandy Hook, Connecticut, 28 people died, and the facts that were in Saturday’s papers were inaccurate and misleading, despite being on friendly soil, with our legions of journalists, police and probably even school security cameras (nothing has been mentioned about if the school had them or not- yet every Dayton Public School does).

Reports yesterday had the shooter, Adam Lanza, son of a teacher at the school, being let in because he was known to the people in the office, and using a Sig and a Glock to do the shooting. Today, we learn that Ms. Lanza’s occupation is unknown, that Adam used the Bushmaster assault rifle and that he shot his way in. Yesterday, much was blamed on Adam being mentally unfit- yet, even today, the closest thing we hear is he may have Asperger’s syndrome, a high functioning version of autism- hardly a psychotic diagnosis, or grounds for being denied the ability to purchase a gun (not that he needed to- he used his momma’s).

Conspiracy theories were in overdrive after Benghazi, about what we knew, if it could have been avoided, that Rice was purposefully misleading the public and that the Petraeus affair was exposed to stop the CIA director from testifying about what the spooks knew in advance. Speculation about what could have been done to stop the deaths of a diplomat and some former Navy Seals on private contract was rampant.

Yesterday, I watched typically normal friends on Facebook turn into irrational asses as they discussed their views on the 1st grade massacre. The gun nuts argued that the shooter had to be mentally ill to use a gun to kill and the others argue that that’s what guns are for. The argument that “if only the teachers were packing heat” those kids would be OK doesn’t fly, considering that I’m pretty sure the former Navy Seals in Benghazi were not only packing- but trained better than any grade school teacher with a pistol would be. And, from a former professional soldier’s observation, your pop gun in your pocket won’t help much against a guy with a death wish and a .223 caliber carbine.

While the process of solving our gun problem (and yes, it’s a problem when innocent children are getting executed) may not be something that can happen quickly, it’s time for the President to push back against the Republican argument about Susan Rice and say you can’t have it both ways and nominate Susan Rice as secretary of state.

When it comes to war, be it half way around the world, or in a quiet bedroom community in Connecticut, first reports are almost always wrong and making important decisions based on them can have disastrous consequences and make fools out of wise men.

One thing is for sure, no journalists will be investigated for spreading untruths about Sandy Hook, nor will they be held accountable for publishing falsehoods.

Our culture of death

Dead children always make people more upset. Dead embryos, dead babies, dead kindergarteners, dead teenagers- because they had their whole life ahead of them. Tears came to the presidents eyes as he made a statement about the killings in Connecticut. All over Facebook discussions are going on about our pistol packing society. Assertions are being made that this guy had to be mentally ill to go on a rampage, that he shouldn’t have had access to the guns in the first place, and on and on.

We put these senseless killing sprees on a scale. This was the second “most successful” gun spree after the one at Virginia Tech. Of course, if we took away all the guns, he could have been even more deadly- like Timothy McVeigh and his truck full of fertilizer bomb which also killed kids and a whole lot of other people and was almost 6x more effective. Or Bin Ladens minions who killed 10x more, but that was the work of 19 people, so on a death ratio they actually didn’t do quite as well as McVeigh who would be the current kill ratio winner with the kill score keepers.

All of this pales to war. When the true professionals do it, the scoreboards have commas. Syria has managed to kill 40,000 people in their little “civil war.” I put that in quotes, because it may be the biggest oxymoron to call any war civil. There is nothing civil about putting a hole in someone- ever. When we look at the numbers of people killed in Afghanistan and Iraq, we tend to only look at our casualties, not the enemies. We spend trillions of dollars perfecting and supporting systems that turn death tolls into pinball scores. We’re expected to win, and win big we do. But in the process, all we are ultimately doing is hastening our own demise.

Everyone of us has or had a mother. It’s a common denominator to being human. When was the last time you heard a mother of a convicted killer say, “thank you Mr. Executioner, for taking my child off the face of the planet”? It doesn’t happen. With every death, victim or martyr or child, justified or not, someone is deeply changed- and not for the better.

We’ve been at war for over a decade, in a place half way around the world. In Afghanistan, the way of the gun is the way of life. It’s been a playground of war for generations. You don’t need a concealed carry permit and guns are available as easily as bananas are here- even though we don’t grow bananas in our country. People don’t aspire to go to Afghanistan, unless they are going there to kill. It astounds me that people still want to come to America, where we kill each other off and imprison people at higher rates than any other “industrialized” country. Those of you reading this can rant that “we’re still the greatest country in the world” but, the problem is, one of our metrics shouldn’t be a kill ratio, ever.

I own a gun, much like the pistols used in Connecticut. I’ve always told myself my reason is that because I won’t go peacefully if my neighbors and the State decide that they have a right to round “my kind” up and send them to death camps like what happened to my paternal great grandparents in Germany. As a veteran, I know that I have no chance in hell of stopping the military from doing the dirty work, and even those of us with arsenals are delusional if you think you’ve got a chance against an infantry squad.

But a few months ago, my eyes were opened by a 9 year old in my own home, who had the idea to “see my gun” and had somehow located the place I stored it, climbed to get it’s innocuous hiding kit down, and take it out to…

The keys to the trigger lock were secure in my pocket, but heaven knows, I don’t check my keyring daily to see what’s still on it, and the next time, that minor obstacle could have been easily removed and I would have had a little girl packing 17 rounds of death in her hands and I, her sister, her mother or that innocent child might not be here today. Guns are never a good answer to problems, just an easy one.

And still, despite that experience, and all my rational thought about the subject, I still wrestle with the idea of giving up my gun. My justification these days is the tribe of misfits two doors away, who think nothing of running my block like an Ultimate Fighting ring on occasion. Just last week, the father of the brood was pounding on my parents door begging them to call the police on his own spawns. The number of calls to police are off the charts, but it seems the “no blood, no foul” rule is being applied and the penalties so far are like gnat bites. We’ve acquiesced to incivility as a baseline and set the tolerance bar too close to death for comfort.

The question is, when will each of us say it’s time to aspire to live in Mayberry RFD instead of Mayhem USA?

Did enough children die yesterday to turn our moral compass? In the 40 years since I was in elementary school, our schools have changed from places with open doors and playgrounds, to controlled access buildings with a Sallyport for an entrance?

Think about it, if this is where we’ve come in two generations, where are we headed? To the Thunderdome?

It shouldn’t take dead children to see that we’ve got a culture of death. Commas don’t belong in a death toll, But, keep counting, maybe we’ll get a bonus round before the year is up.

Dayton Daily News puts up a paywall: $9.99 a month

I used to be a subscriber 7 days a week. I read the paper front to back and hated to start the day without it. Unfortunately, towards the end, getting the newspaper on my doorstep before 6 a.m.  was a major problem for them- and I finally gave up when they refused to match my previous year’s “half-price deal’ of getting the paper for $134 a year. I wasn’t going to pay more for a paper that couldn’t get to my door.

Since then, the paper HAS improved, although it’s been marginal at best. They’ve lost a ton of institutional knowledge through layoffs, lousy working conditions and pay and retirement. For a while, I was enjoying being taken to lunch by each new reporter on the city beat as a “help me figure this out” meeting. I read the paper online, via my iPad, where most times I could read 80% of the content in a digital friendly format- and then read the rest by looking at giant pictures in the “replica” edition- which was horrid. The main thing I could read in the replica that I couldn’t read in the user friendly digital (read that as something you can copy and paste- or change the font size on) was the “editorial” pages- and letters to the editor etc. In other words- the part that users generated- was the main thing they hid- or editorials from other papers that are easily available online for free elsewhere. Of course, there were the one or two “investigative reports” that they also hid from the general public- but most of these are still namby-pamby articles lacking any real ball busting. Still- they are an improvement from the old, pre- Julia Wallace days when nothing ever scratched the surface.

So today, I had to pony up- $9.99 for an iTunes subscription. I now have 2 iPad apps- the pathetically titled “News App” and “Today’s Paper”- both with almost the same icon- and a big “D” for the logo. Hardly the same as “ABC News” or “BBC News” or “USA TODAY”- are they so ashamed that they don’t call it Dayton Daily News, or DDN- or Dayton Daily?

I’m not able to get into the “News App” which is essentially the old app- without the “replica” edition. The “Today’s Paper” is an onscreen replica and is a huge improvement. It shows you a full page or spread at a time- and you see all the ads that the few remaining advertisers are running. The ads are still static- some low rez, and I haven’t seen one have a link- or any interaction. When you see an article you want to read- tap once and it centers on screen with the borders darkened. Tap again- and it shows up as a digital version which you can resize the type with for ADA compliance- big improvement. It’s also this article that can be shared- but instead of sending the entire text like it used to- it just sends a link. The linked article doesn’t seem to be behind a paywall (yet) but it does show that they still don’t understand digital workflows- words that were broken with hyphenation in the print edition- are showing up as hyphenated in the linked article – whoops.

Ostensibly, you could scroll through the paper- article by article in the “digital” version- skipping most of the ads, and reading it with larger type, but, I still like to look at the full printed page to be able to scan what I want to read faster. The best part of this new replica is that it doesn’t require you to click to download each section- you can continue paging through, as if they aren’t separate. I may start looking at sports and life and classifieds again- they just weren’t worth the wait in the old version.

Things that are sorely missing in the new edition- clickable links still aren’t clickable in the app. You also can’t highlight and copy text- which makes further research a pain. The whole concept of “digital” is that it’s an “ENHANCED” edition with “more” usability- things like links- and a dictionary have been included in the NYT edition from the start.

The other thing that’s totally missing is why it’s not really worth the $9.99 a month- for a “community newspaper” which is the only thing that the Dayton Daily can really aspire to- community is totally missing. Where are the comments, the forums, the ability to ask questions of the writers? Now that you have our credit card- and a verified ID- commenting systems have to be available and workable. Newspapers like the Las Vegas Sun take the effort to call each and every commenter to verify who they are before allowing posts- and build a viable, interesting community online.

I could explain fully why including comments isn’t only essential, it’s the key to profitability- but, the people at Cox publishing still haven’t figured it out. Hint- you can come to my www.websitetology.com seminar and spend a full day learning how all this can and should work, and it will only cost you $139.

I’m not sure why the two apps- unless one is only the “free content”- and one the paid? I can’t seem to log in to the free one even though I’m now a subscriber, and the only reason to do it is the “Today’s Paper” replica app doesn’t seem to allow me to see the “breaking” or “New” news which will show up in the next two days in the print/replica edition.

The saddest part, is that the paper hasn’t done anything to take advantage of being able to also include a longer version of every story- with more information with a simple click from the print version. The limitations of the dead tree edition still rule their view of presenting news- at least 5 years after those constraints were lifted.

How many of you have bit the bullet and subscribed to the digital edition? How many are thinking of discontinuing the print edition to just read it on a tablet, now that the functionality is improved? How many just stopped reading altogether? Comments?

The unintended side effects of the anti-Obamacare dolts

You’ve heard about businesses, big and small, threatening to move workers to part-time so as to avoid having to pay for Obamacare. Big business claiming that they can’t afford to pay for having full-time healthy workers, ones who are more likely to show up for work on time because they weren’t up all night with a bad sinus infection that is going untreated because they couldn’t afford a doctor’s visit. Yeah. So, instead, we’ll just hire more people (or more problems as any small business owner will tell you) to try to do the same work- and of course, none of those part-timers will have cured their sinus infection either- so your remaining full-time workers will be getting exposed to these sick legions of part-time drones.

What is this ultimately doing? Thanks to these dolts, they are going to drive unemployment to an all-time low, making the president look like the greatest hero to the working class ever. Jobs for everyone. Granted, it may mean you are working two part-time jobs, instead of one, but, many are already doing that. Wages for the best part-time worker will slowly rise as companies realize that turn and churn is costing them even more (my biggest expenses in hiring new people is the training time it takes to make them effective, not taxes or health care).

The rising tide of full employment and the increased circulation of money (remember people with less money spend a much higher proportion of their income, as opposed to rich people who often let it languish in the stock market, real estate or other big-dollar investments) will push new opportunities for entrepreneurial growth, including lower cost options in health care clinics as some physicians realize that there is a market for health care run like an assembly line now that everyone is covered. Imagine mini-health clinics that have five doctors working with one person to file standardized claims instead of one doctor with four people to handle filing claims. The entire health care industry will boom, needing new facilities, new nurses, new therapists (occupational, geriatric, physio etc).

In two years of high job growth, the Dems will recapture the House of Representatives, Republican governors who’ve made their mark by shifting taxes to local n00bs who can’t manage it effectively will fall as well, and an entire new generation of leaders will step forward riding on the wave of real jobs for real voters.

Thank you, you greedy bastards, you’re going to make Obama into the most popular president ever, or go out of business trying to prove your point.

An Indictment: Why wholesale change is needed on the Dayton City Commission

It is time to remove the Democratic Party faithful from power on the Dayton City Commission. Nan Whaley, Dean Lovelace, Joey Williams and Matt Joseph have sat on a commission that has been blindly grasping for solutions to our fair city’s challenges.

Ask for what their signature contributions over their multiple terms are and be prepared for hearing “well, we didn’t go bankrupt” and “I created a party for college interns” or, “I pushed for bike lanes, and for a land bank” In general, they act as one, unanimously voting to rubber stamp the city manager’s recommendations, without ever a publicly asked question. Still, doing a majority of work in an illegal Monday Wednesday “work session” – these four have entered into one bad deal after another in the name of “economic development” while population continues to slide, as does the standard of living for the remaining residents.

It’s been over 20 years since I first ran for mayor as a naive young man. Then as now, I believe that the key to a great city is for government to do what it’s supposed to do best- public safety, infrastructure, schools, parks and recreation. If we give our residents the basics, delivered exceptionally, they can focus on their own “economic development.” I believe that stock markets and horse tracks are where investors and gamblers go to pick winners and losers- and that tax dollars never should be risked in any way.

Do the basics right and the rest follows. Our current commission fails this test repeatedly. There is no intellectual discussion of options, or even a concrete strategy of how to get from here to there. What we have is an ad hoc series of bets that have failed to pay off every time. This precedes the current commission and stretches back for decades. We have a culture of bumper car drivers- whose sole objective is to slam into whatever is close, failing to see that no matter what- they are still going in circles. There is no path to follow to a well defined future- and there never will be, as long as we continue to allow these party pawns to continue to rule on the friends and family plan.

The misguided failures

I won’t blame the City Commission for the loss of NCR, but, the loss of many jobs to Austin Landing where one intersection is magically better than the five we used to have in Downtown Dayton should be questioned. We have an “economic development director” in Dayton who flat out sells from a position of failure:

“A lot of businesses now want new — their own parking lot, single floor,” said Timothy Downs, deputy director of economic development for Dayton. “That’s hard to come by in the city of Dayton. We simply don’t have cornfields to plow into.”

via Development incentives not effective alone – Dayton Business Journal.

Last I looked, Teradata has 4 or 5 floors. That’s a company that started in Dayton at NCR World HQ and walked, not once, but twice for greener pastures with tax dollar support both times. We have to stop regional cannibalization and setting communities against each other to give tax dollars to private companies.  Why Mr. Downs still has a job after this quote is a question for our City Manager to be asking- or for the commission to ask the City Manager. Last I checked, Manhattan has no parking, no single floor offices and parking is $40 a day. They tear down buildings the size of the Kettering Tower to build bigger ones. Small minds get small results.

The Wayne Avenue Kroger: Millions for nothing.

Before Gary Leitzell took office, this stinker of a deal began in a back room. The developer, Midland Atlantic, which held a contract with Kroger to find a 12-acre parcel near the current Wayne Avenue store known by such nicknames as “dirty butt Kroger,” “Freddy Kroger,” “Deliverance Kroge,” and  “Ka-Ka Kroger.”  Midland failed to pull together a deal despite spending tens of thousands in options for the NE corner of Wayne and Wyoming. A local developer, with a proven track record in the area put together an alternative location- focused on using property along Warren Street and the former DMHA Cliburn Manor site. Somehow, he was sabotaged by the powers that be and the city instead stepped in. Threatening eminent domain, despite recent Supreme Court decisions clearly ruling that “economic development” wasn’t enough to warrant the use of eminent domain. Instead, the city chose to rule the neighborhood “blighted” – wholesale condemnation, in an attempt to knock property values down and allow them to force the matter. They went through several rounds of options, putting more money in the pockets of slumlords and residents who had lost any incentive to continue maintaining their properties- further blighting a neighborhood already in distress.

The city also “invested” $800K to purchase the burned-out Ecki building (a building that was for sale for less than $260K pre-fire and pre-fire insurance payment) and then spent more to give us an empty lot.

After “investing” millions of your tax dollars- and several years, the city finally acquired the parcel- only to be told by Kroger that they weren’t interested. The assistant city manager, who led this wild goose chase, failed to secure a contract with either Kroger or Midland Atlantic before squandering your tax dollars. She still has a job, as do four city commissioners who would have been fired for incompetence in the private sector.

  • Sabai banner offering $1 sushi- a sure sign of impending closure
    Sushi for $1 almost guarantees they will be closed in weeks.
  • 601 E. Third St. a $450K purchase by the City of Dayton with no plans
    $450K to purchase it, no plans in sight.
  • Wayne ave vacant building purchased by the City of Dayton without a plan
    Another $450K purchase without a plan

 

 

 

Sa-Bai: giving it away

The city was sure, long ago, that a convention center and parking garage was the silver bullet to “saving downtown.” In the process, they tore down several grand old theaters and other buildings that would now be cool spaces for mixed use development. In their place, we got a convention center so ugly, that it had to be totally redone, more than once. We also funded the building of a mini-movie theater and subsidized it for years (the Neon). As part of that development, they put in a Greyhound station- which they later decided was bad and shipped it off to Trotwood. Gilly’s has been a long term tenant, Channel 14-16 moved in decades ago providing a quality tenant and the restaurant space once occupied by Chins, Chins and Elbows and then just Elbows- sat vacant until, our current wizards decided to lease the space for next to nothing to a Sushi restaurateur out of Cincinnati for $2 a square foot.

If you were the owner of Thai 9, the Thai and sushi restaurant a block away, you’d be a little put off, having to compete with a taxpayer-subsidized competitor. Luckily, the community knew better and stuck with the local guy who had given them something to cheer about without a government handout. Just this week- a new sign went up in front of Sa-Bai- $1 sushi.

This isn’t economic development- this is unfairly giving our tax dollars to one business that adversely affects another.

You wouldn’t want any of these commissioners renting your house for you. Their idea of being a landlord is paying the tenant to live in your house, while making your neighbor’s house worth even less- and charging you a premium to do it.

Real estate speculation: $900K for 2 buildings with no plans

The predictions are always grave. We’re going broke. Tax revenue is down, money from the state’s local government fund is down, population is down, property values are declining and our housing stock is aging. In the meantime, labor and pension costs are up, deferred infrastructure maintenance bills are growing, our public safety forces are at all time low staffing, despite increases in property crimes and arson.

Our commission, instead is buying up real estate without a public purpose. Just recently, buying buildings on E. Third Street and on Wayne avenue for $450K each. A reader from out of town pointed out, that while the city spent close to a million dollars for 2 vacant distressed buildings with environmental issues, other buildings, with tenants and generating revenue are going for much less. Please note, that the number one address for class A office space in Dayton, its tallest building- the Kettering Tower recently sold for only $1oM.

Why are we buying vacant, buildings without a plan? Wouldn’t you rather have a cop to investigate your break in, a fire fighter to put out the fire or your road paved or a park maintained? Isn’t that why you pay taxes? Or is it so the city commission can play monopoly with your money?

IRG and the UPS building

I’ve written extensively about how bad this deal was. UPS had the old Emery freight facility at the airport under lease until 2019. They were committed to paying us millions each year and maintaining the facility as turn-key ready for an aviation use. A local developer had approached UPS about putting a solar power generating system on the roof to help subsidize the lease and possibly use the facility to grow a green energy supply business. The city got wind of this and the former airport director wrote a very one sided deal to let UPS off the hook and bring in the industrial vultures known as IRG to “market” the property.

We gave up 7 years of $2 million a year for a one time $7 million payment, turned around and gave half to IRG and smiled. Mayor Leitzell’s was the only no vote. The former airport director left town with his boyfriend, a subordinate at the airport. The new no-money down owners, who started out with a $3.5 million gift and then proceeded to scrap out everything of value including diesel generators, a stainless steel fuel farm and a conveyor system that the taxpayers had built for Emery that cost upward of $20 million- putting millions more in IRG’s pockets.

The oddest thing was that a local business tried to lease the space that IRG was supposedly “marketing” and they were rebuffed.

The owner of a Tipp City manufacturer recently offered Industrial Realty Group $3.5 million to buy part of Air Commerce, the former Emery/UPS building near the Dayton International Airport.

The offer expired Nov. 16 without response from IRG, according to Albert Naggar, chairman and owner of Process Equipment Co. Naggar still wants to consolidate his company’s four area facilities, but not into a newly built campus, as he originally proposed.

via Developer lets $3.5M offer on Air Commerce expire | www.daytondailynews.com.

What was the real reason for the bad IRG deal in the first place? Why did the former airport director write the bid for IRG? Why would the city give up the opportunity for a guaranteed lease- while maintaining a value asset in go-ready state? The only possible answers would come from an FBI investigation. The corruption is costing our community daily.

Besides mismanagement, what else?

The list is long, but, the above should give you a clue as to why the four horses of the apocalypse need to go. But if you need more reasons, let’s look at the very obsolete processes we use to put people in power and keep them there. The City Charter is an odd bird, and hopelessly out of date. Please explain why you only need 50 signatures to run for Congress, but 500 to be a Dayton city commissioner. This process has managed to stop more primaries than you’d think. It is a barrier to office, and it’s funny, how the party-endorsed candidates’ petitions always check out (usually because employees of the Board of Elections who are all patronage jobs supplied by the party) check petitions out on their “lunch break” for party candidates. The standard in the Ohio Revised Code is 50. Nowhere else are you required to have the petitions notarized- as if the notary has any proof that the signatures on the petitions are valid. All of this is immaterial, when the other rules in the charter are applied randomly. Several times Dean Lovelace has missed well over the 5 meetings in a row that call for a special election – they refuse to act. Either the Charter is the law- or it’s not.

To change the charter, citizens must gather 10% of the “registered voters” in Dayton’s signatures to place an issue on the ballot. The commission only needs three votes to do it. To recall the members of the commission requires 25% of the “registered voters'” signatures. The problem? According to the census, there are 108,000 people over the age of 18 in Dayton and eligible to vote, according to the voter rolls, we have 101,000 voters. You heard that there are some districts in Ohio that have more “registered voters” than people? Same problem- voters are being counted that left the city long ago toward that number- including a whole bunch of UD Students. The proper thing to do is to change the standard to a percentage of people who actually voted in the last election, but, even that is beyond the vision of the knuckleheads we’ve elected. Until you vote three people who put the people first onto the commission, your ability to petition government will remain nonexistent.

Mayor Leitzell claims to be willing to change the charter- or at least put the questions on the ballot, but believes it’s impossible without 2 other competent commissioners. In this next election, if we have enough people run, the splits could knock out Williams and Whaley from even appearing on the November ballot. If you are interested in being a part of this, you will need to start circulating petitions now. I will help you with the process. Lovelace will resign in the next year- or I will file suit to call for the charter to be followed-  or tossed out. We will need good candidates to make sure that Whaley, Wagner or Williams doesn’t re-appear on the commission because there wasn’t anyone else to step up.

I submit this indictment for you to review, evaluate and share with your friends. If you want to see a Dayton that is a place where opportunity isn’t dependent on political payola and the will of the party, it’s your job to help make sure that the end of the private party political process ends in 2013. Thank you.

 

 

Hi, I’m Mayor Whaley and I want to tear down your city

With Nan Whaley leaving the safety of her incumbent seat on the Dayton City Commission to run for Mayor one has to wonder why? The plan for Nan to run for mayor and former mayor Rhine McLin to run for Nan’s empty seat was dashed when Rhine was named to the board of elections taking her out of the picture. This means there is room for a new comer to the city commission, first in years.

Why is Nan running? Apparently, the idea of the city being represented by someone who doesn’t play in Nan’s narrowly defined 2 party of the Dems and Thems, drives her nuts. Also, she’s convinced that she is some kind of brilliant leader, even fantasizing about her ability to run this city- thinking she should be the next City Manager despite her never having held any position of responsibility that was granted to her by her political affiliation. For Nan, the Democratic party (at least what passes for one in Montgomery county with its incestuous closed eco-system) is the elixir of life itself. In eight years, this woman/child has done nothing other than parrot the party line and kowtow to donors. Hence the massive energy behind the demolition program (her biggest donor last election was from a mysterious demolition contractor from Westerville).

The demolition program will forever not solve our problems, which is exactly what to expect from Nan as mayor. She doesn’t have the slightest idea on how to move our city forward. If it doesn’t involve taking care of who put her in her seat, she wouldn’t know how to cross the street on her own. Even her backing of bicycling in Dayton is naive and half hearted. Instead of pushing hing hard for a proper bike system, she has allowed the “yellow bike” joke to permanently taint the concept.

But, to be honest, the most telling example has to come for her vote on the IRG giveaway of the UPS facility at the airport. Leitzel was the only one to vote no- rightfully, All four others on the commission should have been recalled for this dud of a deal. Much has been covered on that issue on this site, look it up for yourself.

The only reason Nan is so comfortable in this run, is the backup plan. If she loses, in the primary, Dean Lovelace will resign and she’ll win a seat back in a special election. If she ends up in a race against AJ Wagner or Gary Leitzell- Dean waits until that’s done and again- she has a shot in a special election. All of these options are ludicrous, since Dean should resign in time to place his seat open for the primary in May- so as not to cost the taxpayers any extra. If he does pull the stunt of waiting and causing a special election, the taxpayers should sue him for the cost- it’s bad enough he’s getting paid for not doing his job.

Even if Lovelace did do the right thing and resign in time for his seat to be filled in the primary- this would cause interesting shifts. Lovelace only got elected on his fourth try because Mark Henry resigned and a seat became open in a special election that was held at the same time as a general election (it was my second race- after losing to Mike Turner in a 6 way primary as a naive 28 year old). Would other candidates pull out of the general race for the seats held by Nan and Joey Williams to run in the special? If we did things in a logical way, we wouldn’t even have separate races for Mayor or Commission- we’d have the top vote getter be mayor and the seat choices opted in by who comes in second and third and in this case fourth. Instead- we’d have 3 separate races for 4 seats and the first chance to really totally change the make up of the commission in modern times.

The stumbling block still remains the 500 “good” signatures required – along with all the other gotchas.  I started circulating petitions back in June for this race. I’m running to fill one of the seats- either Nan’s or Joey’s. The real question is how many other good candidates can we see? The other question is will any of them actually have a plan and be able to put it out for discussion?

Sadly- AJ Wagner’s site www.ajwagnerformayor.com is just a donation page- with not a word of what he’d do. Leitzell’s campaign site is still touting his candidacy from 3.5 years ago (although Gary does have other blogs and stays active on Facebook) . Whaley’s site is still exactly what she said 4 years ago as well. Joey Williams doesn’t even have a site (I had to rescue his URL for him before another reader of this site squatted it- DL you know I’m talking about you). It seems that I’m the only candidate- who believes in keeping a fully open line of communications with the community.

For the record- in the primary- I’m fully supporting Gary Leitzell out of the three announced so far and if I had to pick a number two choice it would be AJ Wagner- although he’s just as much a party pogue as Nan- no matter that the party isn’t backing him. When he resigned mid-term from his judgeship he should have been banned from running for other office. Do what you promise- or get out of politics people.