Will dancing solve Dayton’s problems?

I love this video. From a professional viewpoint (I’m in advertising) this “pep talk” hits on all cylinders. It prods at your emotions- using every trick in the book, and since it’s a 9 year old kid, what’s not to trust. It’s a brilliant way to endear yourself to millions. If he was running for president, “Kid President” would probably garner more votes than any third party has ever had. But, of course, he’s not 35- and the process of getting on the ballot isn’t that easy.

However, this is what a great piece of political propaganda does, it simplifies everything. We don’t talk about issues and solutions that are real- we talk in platitudes and slogans. Only this video gets away with everything because it’s not real- it’s a parody.

There are two paths to political office, one is to do it the way the Montgomery County Democratic Party thinks it should be done- via their secret screening committee, endorsements and support- or the way I’ve always done it- the road less traveled. I agree with Kid President- it hurts.

When I look at other candidates’ literature, devoid of substance, I wonder how do we elect these people? Obviously, they dance better.

Enjoy.

What is needed more? An eye in the sky- or an eye on our commission?

The city charter is very specific- the Dayton City Commission is to meet once a week to conduct the cities business. It’s also specific about missing 5 consecutive meetings and it’s time to replace a commissioner- but as we all know, the only thing that’s sacred in the charter is that you need 500 signatures from registered voters to get on the ballot- and, despite graphology not being admissible in the courts- it is often used to disqualify signatures- despite the ridiculous extra required step of notarizing the petitions swearing that John Doe did in fact sign this petition under penalty of law. But- I digress.

It would seem that our City Commission is meeting in private (still) in the guise of “work sessions” (I guess that means they aren’t really working at the commission meeting- or are those just scripted plays for the public- making them “play sessions”). And while I abhor this practice and was arrested while asking how they get away with breaking the law with these meetings, what’s more important is why the Commission is funneling so much money into a local company?

It seems we’re about to spend $120K for an eye in the sky for 120 hours to surveil our city – from a local company that we’re also considering giving a $20K gift to build out their offices in a building we built with tax dollars and are already renting away for pennies on our dollars. From today’s Dayton Daily news (“n” is  intentionally lower case, as much of it is now a direct feed from the Dayton Development Coalition, the Dayton Business Committee and Nan Whaley’s press releases):

Dayton City Commission is considering a request to hire a local company to provide airborne surveillance for police.

The commission originally was scheduled to vote on the contract today. However, city officials said Tuesday afternoon that a vote is being delayed until commissioners can discuss the proposal in a public work session next Wednesday.

According to an agenda the city released Monday, commissioners are considering a $120,000 contract with Persistent Surveillance Systems for wide-area surveillance for the police department. PSS has operations in Beavercreek, Xenia and at Dayton’s Tech Town business park.

Ross McNutt, PSS president, said Tuesday surveillance services would come from a piloted aircraft flying above the city at about 10,000 feet. PSS provides the plane and the pilot, he said.

The plane will be able to monitor an area as large as Dayton’s entire downtown, McNutt said. Only with reports of crimes or instructions from police would the company’s equipment focus closely on specific areas, he said.

PSS camera systems boast a sensitivity 10 times greater than that of IMAX cameras (8.84 million pixels), McNutt, a retired Air Force lieutenant colonel, said last year.

According to the proposed agreement with the city, PSS would provide 120 hours of airborne surveillance. Services will include installation, data capture, analysis and training for up to four police officers. Up to three analyst workstations will also be installed at Tech Town, as well, according to city documents…

Commissioners also are considering a $20,000 development agreement with PSS to build out and lease space on the second floor of a building at Tech Town.

The company’s lease will be nine months, with a four-year renewal option. The company is expected to invest $12,000 to build out the space, according to city documents.

via Dayton ponders airborne cameras.

The first question to be asked is was this contract competitively bid? The second question is why a manned aircraft when this is what drones do much more effectively and efficiently? A local businessman, Mark Herres, is busy selling solar powered drones with high rez cameras to Northrup Grumman (he was the same business man who was ignored on the Emery/UPS hub deal that went no-bid to IRG) that could do the same thing for more hours, for a lot less money.

The city, under police chief James Newby had a fancy for an eye in the sky around 20 years ago. We bought a hobbyists helicopter and trained at least four officers to fly it. After several years it was grounded, then sold off. Apparently, despite our fantasies of matching Columbus for air power in the fight against crime, putting the helicopter up fast enough to actually be useful during a crime wasn’t happening and the program was shot down. How does 120 hours a year really help? And, with the added need to have trained officers monitoring the video feed- maybe the real answer is to think about increasing the size of the police force instead? That’s what Mike Bloomberg did in NYC and saw drops in crime and in incarceration.

It is true that we have a large community of highly trained intelligence analysts in our community, who are in high demand to read and analyze satellite and drone imagery for the military, but, even with real time intelligence, the ability to thwart crime really comes at the hands of the cops on the street. No amount of video makes up for the ability to respond to a crime with appropriate resources. These “investments” in PSS look more like political favoritism in action. It’s a shame that there doesn’t exist an easy to search database of campaign donors to City Commission candidates. If I was a paid investigative journalist, I’d be scanning the donations to a certain City Commissioner who wants to be Mayor and see what the intelligence turns up.

A better investment than planes with cameras might be to invest in our fiber network and build in high resolution video cameras to be placed in key areas so that we have 24/7/365 visual assets in place. $140K will buy a decent number of high resolution cameras and DVRs that can be monitored from multiple locations- even crowd sourcing, to help cut down on crime.

A forward thinking commission would be willing to investigate other options- and discuss this in the legal weekly meeting of the commission, inviting local experts to share their knowledge. That’s one of the reasons I’m running for Dayton City Commission. Please consider a donation to my campaign.

Losing one of the good guys: John Ewers

Saturday afternoon, a remarkable crowd gathered at College Hill Community Church to celebrate the life of a man who made a difference. College Hill isn’t a very big church, but it’s one where the members take their vows on Sunday in church and take action on them every waking minute of the rest of the week. John Ewers was the heart of that church and when you looked at the diverse audience that had gathered and filled the church to capacity, you heard not just the story of John’s life- but the story of churches’ impact on the lives of many.

When people turn to each other at the end of a church service and say “peace be with you” and go about their merry way, and never think of it again until the following Sunday- John lived to bring peace to our planet. His dedication to the peace effort had him standing on street corners protesting and writing letters to the editor often. After his retirement from NCR, he was a huge part of Habitat for Humanity, in fact they called him “Mr. Habitat.” But building houses was the least of his contributions to social justice.

Instead of complaining about the sorry state of the Dayton Daily News, he backed and helped start the “Dayton Voice” (now known as the Dayton City Paper). It was an attempt to bring an alternative, progressive voice to Dayton, and while it’s now a shadow of its former self it remains a part of John’s legacy.

The defining story of John’s life in my eyes was his journey down to Columbus, Georgia, to protest the School of the Americas where the U.S. government was training Latin American troops to take part in propping up undemocratic banana republic regimes. He, along with others from Dayton and Dayton native Martin Sheen were arrested and later fined for their actions. When the fine was levied on John he refused to pay and was sentenced to federal prison, where he served 6 months as a prisoner of conscience. In prison he made the best of his time, ministering to the other prisoners and raising awareness of what was happening at the School of the Americas.

I wrote him in prison and apparently sent a check to help get him out. He wrote me back  (letter dated Jul 26,2001) and I read parts of his letter to me at the service:

Your comment in your letter that we have a legal system- not a justice  system rings true. I’ve only been incarcerated a week but my daily journaling already has several stories of pure sentencing atrocities.

Regarding your contribution thanks so much. I intend turning it over to SOA Watch to support the movement to close the SOA. You might have thought it would help to pay my fine but I don’t intend to pay it unless the government wants the trouble of coming after it.

In solidarity, J

and the other part that I didn’t read that meant so much to me, coming from a man who was willing to spend 6 months in prison for a cause he believed in was this “I remember well the mask episode. Your message and your win made clear statement of citizen rights”

John’s interest in protesting against the SOA came from a 1998 mission trip to Colombia, where he later spent time working on social justice issues. His impact there was reflected by the presence of people who came to his funeral- all the way from Colombia.

There are many people for whom the extent of their efforts to change the world is accomplished by writing a check to a charity or a cause. Then there are the people like John who eat, sleep and breathe their passion for a more just world.

We’ve lost one of the good guys, and while John’s obituary asked for donations in his name to the social justice effort of your choice, I’d say the real challenge is to volunteer and be the change you want to see in the world. That was John’s way.

His favorite saying, was that “If you aren’t living life on the edge, you’re taking up too much space.”

Where do you stand and what do you stand for?

So many choices for Dayton City Commission and Mayor in 2013

Despite the Montgomery County Democratic Party endorsements, which promptly saw Daryl Fairchild drop out when they endorsed Jeff Mims and Joey Williams, the Dayton Daily seems to think that there will be a bevy of candidates on the May ballot.

The race for two commission seats – one being defended by Williams and one being vacated by Whaley – could be an active one. More than a dozen Dayton residents took out petitions to run, but four have already reconsidered.

Prominent local minister Darryl Fairchild announced Thursday, after failing to win the Democratic endorsement, that he will end his campaign and support Williams and Mims instead, drawing a loud ovation from party members. But there are several notable names planning to run.

Williams is a third-term incumbent and former Dayton school board member. Mims is a state school board member who previously served on Dayton’s school board. Others running include David K. Greer, chairman of the city’s Northwest Priority Board, and David Esrati, a longtime activist and candidate who runs a local ad agency.

Attorney Mark Manovich and William Pace, who ran active races for city commission in 2011, have pulled petitions, as has Tim O’Bryant, a minister and real estate agent who ran for county recorder in November. Tim Zecchini, Donald Domineck Jr. and Willie Dion Walker also took out petitions.

Mims said he enjoyed the screening process before the Democratic Party’s executive committee.

“You get a bunch of questions, and you go in nervous as all get-out, and sorta humble, hoping that people understand what you’ve done in the past that reflects the Democratic values and valuing all people,” Mims said.

Esrati criticized the screening process, arguing the party should encourage as many Democrats to run in the primary as possible, rather than endorsing a select few.

via Democrats endorse Whaley, Williams, Mims for Dayton races | www.newstalkradiowhio.com.

In the Mayors race, there are all kinds of names circulating:

The endorsement of current City Commissioner Whaley for mayor comes as little surprise, as she’s a member of the Ohio Democratic Party’s central committee and was the only candidate to actively seek the nod.

A.J. Wagner, a former Democratic judge and county auditor also running for mayor, said he’s running as a nonpartisan candidate. Whaley and Wagner will challenge incumbent Mayor Gary Leitzell, an independent. Larry Ealy, Derek Folley, Eric Gregory and Diane Sloan also have taken out mayoral petitions to run, according to the Board of Elections.

Folley (which may be spelled Foley) and Ealy have failed with signatures before. I never “pulled petitions” from the BOE, because I have them already and never had a need to announce to party insiders of my intentions. Note, the Dayton Daily News gave Fairchild a long article when he announced- and, if Nan doesn’t get knocked out of the primary, look for the party to endorse him for Dean Lovelace’s seat when they finally call him on the charter requirements to go after missing 5 meetings in a row. They are building a wheelchair ramp to the commission dais for either Lovelace or Fairchild- take your pick.

If anyone has links to any of these other candidates sites and positions, please share them in comments. It will be interesting if any of them are willing to agree to limiting their campaign spending as the Mayor and I have already pledged to do.

As an aside, if Leitzell does get knocked out of the primary and it comes down to Nan vs AJ- I am already firmly behind AJ- just for the record.

 

It’s time to not play favorites with tax dollars anymore

Our country was founded on the principle that “all men are created equal.” Yet our local elected leaders seem to think it’s good government to redistribute our tax dollars from the poor to the wealthy while rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.

To summarize, Heidelberg Distributing is moving its HQ and at least 270 good jobs from Dayton to Moraine. The County ED/GE fund is contributing a pittance to this project, $235,000 of your tax dollars to help this happen. That money could have been used to put 3 more police on the street for a year to protect all of us, or as part of turning Dayton (the region) into a gigabit internet community- a project that would make everyone more competitive- not just Heidelberg.

What makes this deal suck even worse is that Heidelberg is already in a business that’s created and protected by  state laws requiring all alcoholic beverages to be sold by middlemen. This isn’t freewheeling capitalism at work, you or I couldn’t become an alcohol distributor if we tried. How would you feel if you were Bonbright distributing company- which is still in Dayton, knowing that part of your taxes are being given away to your arch enemy?

Heidelberg Distributing Co. is breathing new life into the long-shuttered former Cooper Tire & Rubber Co. warehouse at 3601 Dryden Road, investing $21.2 million in renovations and planning to move its north Dayton operations to the mammoth former industrial building in about six months….

Heidelberg officials said the company will borrow a projected $16.8 million, provide $4.2 million in private equity and use a $235,000 ED/GE grant approved by Moraine and Montgomery County officials to pay for the renovations and improvements.

“It is humbling to be working on a $20 million project that will outlive us and which will be here for generations,” said Heidelberg CEO Vail Miller Jr.

via Long-vacant warehouse receives $21M revamp.

I haven’t had the pleasure of knowing Vail Miller Jr., and I appreciate his company’s long commitment to Dayton (the region and the city). The jobs that he provides are crucial to my imbibing friends (I’m a teetotaler). The excuses that were used in luring GE, or for arranging a sweetheart deal to keep NCR here aren’t applicable to retaining Heidelberg here- his is a distribution business, centered in our area to serve our area. There is no way this business could locate in Sidney and still be profitable due to fuel costs alone.

It’s time to stop redistributing tax dollars and only invest our tax dollars in infrastructure and services that are accessible to all and don’t play favorites. It’s time to invest our tax dollars in things that make our area more competitive and attractive to people outside our area, to lure them here, not to pay ransoms to keep them dancing with the ugly girl at the prom.

Dayton (city and region) should have some pride. Mr. Miller should graciously decline the ED/GE money and direct that it be used for something that would help all businesses- like Gigabit Internet which would give the region a competitive advantage, not just save him rounding error on his amazing new facility.

The Montgomery County Democratic party screening committee picks losers

Tonight I screen with the Montgomery County Democratic Party screening committee- the “inner circle” of the private club that believes it’s in their best interest to pick candidates in primaries. The Greene County party, refuses to endorse in primaries- understanding that a primary is exactly that: a chance for the party’s voters to make a choice. The Montgomery County Dems could easily endorse every candidate who screens in the Dayton City Commission race who is a Democrat, and hope that the primary knocks out Republican candidates, but, that wouldn’t be their style.

They like to pick people like Clayton Luckie (convicted yesterday of a host of felonies related to theft in office, as a sitting Ohio State representative) who are part of the “Monarchy of Montgomery County” that keeps the patronage/favoritism operation going in political offices across the county.

In my last race, the party endorsed Sharen Neuhardt to run against Mike Turner. They believed her “fundraising abilities” would give them a chance to take on Mike Turner. Of course, people who raise a lot of money then spend it hiring their friends to work on campaigns, and buy printing from “union shops” (a farce today in the printing industry) and still lose thanks to gerrymandering and a total incompetence of the local parties at real voter activation (the Obama campaign doesn’t use the local data or network of workers to run their campaign- which was successful).

Take a look at the numbers and weep:

Michael R. Turner (R) * Winner (60% of vote) 208,201 ($5.16 per vote)

  • Raised: $1,222,129
  • Spent: $1,073,860
  • Cash on Hand: $287,565

Last Report: November 26, 2012

Individual contributions

  • Small Contributions $32,139 (3%)
  • Large Contributions $748,160 (61%)
  • PAC contributions $441,115 (36%)
  • Candidate self-financing $0 (0%)
  • Other $715 (0%)

Sharen Neuhardt (D) (37% of vote) 131,097 ($4.36 per vote)

  • Raised: $571,531
  • Spent: $571,063
  • Cash on Hand: $4,058

Last Report: November 26, 2012

Individual contributions

  • Small Contributions $66,363 (12%)
  • Large Contributions $398,123 (70%)
  • PAC contributions $79,451 (14%)
  • Candidate self-financing $22,674 (4%)
  • Other $4,921 (1%)

via Congressional Elections: Ohio District 10 Race: 2012 Cycle | OpenSecrets.

For comparison, in the non-presidential year 2010, the very lame Democratic candidate, Joe Roberts, a 25-year-old Democratic party pogue, received 31% of the vote raising $7,322 and “spending” $6,170 ( I have spending in quotes because he skipped out of town on his campaign office rent- owing a single mother who owned the property several thousand dollars). For Sharen Neuhardt, who put almost 3x her own money in than Joe Roberts spent in total and still only getting 6% more of the vote in a much easier district to campaign in, is criminal. This wasn’t Sharen’s first rodeo, she had her inaugural 2008 debacle against Steve Austria where she was running for an open seat and spent $838,992 to get 42% (113,099 or $7.422 per vote) of the vote.

I’ll post my answers to the Screening Committee questions like I have in the past. But, at some point, it sure would be nice to:

  • run in a race that was measured by the quality of your ideas, instead of your ability to waste money on campaign trash.
  • have a political party that cares more about winning seats than seating friends and family
  • be elected by voters who are well informed, having resources to properly educate themselves on the issues and the candidates.

Until then- we’ll continue to have the best politicians money can buy.

And- as a side note, another one of campaign ads has won an ADDY award from the American Advertising Federation. Last year, my foreclosure spot won a silver and this year the panhandling campaign won (I won’t know what level Gold, Silver, Bronze till mid-February).


The Dayton Challenges- the charter

One of the reasons Gary Leitzell has my full support is his challenge to other candidates for Mayor to limit their campaign spending:

So, let me lay down this challenge because I know full well the two parties will never issue the same. I will NOT spend more than $10,000 cash and $10,000 “in kind” to get re-elected and I challenge any KNOWN political challenger to match the same. I would offer ANY unknown candidate the limit of $20,000 cash and $10,000 “in kind” in the same race because that is still more than I spent against a two term incumbent, super delegate of the democratic party in a non – partisan local election. I am willing to level the playing field because I know that it is the right thing to do. Maybe it will send a message to our State and Federal Governments that “We the people” are no longer content to sit and watch our elected officials contribute to the demise of the greatest nation on Earth! So, here in Dayton, let the games begin and may the BEST CANDIDATE win!

via Dayton Mayor: The Challenges.

I also like that he takes the initiative to inform all potential candidates of the process to run. And trust me, getting signatures is a bear. I was out for two hours yesterday and registered one voter, and collected about a dozen signatures for me, Gary and for Jeff Mims (because I believe anyone who wants to be on the ballot, should be given the opportunity – and that the people should decide, not the political parties or the Board of Elections). I could still use help gathering signatures btw.

I know Nan Whaley and AJ Wagner won’t agree to limit their campaign spending- nor will any other candidate (except me- the most I’ve ever raised and spent was $7000). The real litmus test is if any of these candidates will sign a pledge to change the Dayton City Charter once elected to right some of the wrongs- namely:

  • To run for Congress, you need 50 signatures. All would agree that being a congressman is a job with much higher responsibility. We need to get rid of the 500 signature hurdle- or at least, make it a one time thing- and after you’ve done it and been on the ballot- it’s down to 50 every other time. Trust me, from day 1 over 20 years ago, I realized that incumbents have a much easier time collecting signatures- I’ve been chased out of schools, churches and even bus stops- while incumbents have walked through city hall and collected city employees signatures on the clock.
  • The form needs to be updated. Currently it has spaces for ward and precinct that for some odd reason- don’t have to be filled out, yet, they are a stickler for dates, or handwriting. Instead, the form should have: Printed name, Signature, address, date. This would help stop 20-40% signature rejection rates.
  • The requirement for a nominating committee is also like nothing else. We’ve had candidates disqualified over this. The voters should be the nominating committee- that’s why we have their signatures.
  • Only the Dayton City Commission form requires a notarized signature of the circulator. Why? What does this prove? This extra step has caused petitions to be invalidated. The notary didn’t witness the voters signing, and the circulators signature should be held to the exact same standard.
  • Even the wording of what the election dates causes confusion. There is no primary if there are less than 4 candidates for Commission or 2 for mayor- so many people get confused and different language is used by every candidate. This proves that it is unneeded.
  • And last but not least, the charter calls for the city to run the non-partisan election, not to farm it out to the partisan Board of Election. It’s time to acknowledge this major deviation from the charter and bring the document into compliance.

The charter processes for recalling sitting office holders is also flawed. It currently calls for signatures of 25% of the registered voters to sign a petition to put the question on the ballot. Right now the voter rolls have over 100,000 “registered voters” meaning that you’d need almost 35,000 good signatures to mount this effort- and that’s basically the number of voters we may have. Every other municipality uses the standards of a percentage of actual voters to have cast a ballot in a recent election. This keeps the people from having the power to petition and to remove their government. Any commission candidate who doesn’t support this very needed change shouldn’t have the right to sit on the commission. Note, Nan, Joey, Dean and Matt all have sat on a commission that has submitted charter changes to the voters- since it only takes 3 of them to vote to do it- and they haven’t seen fit to change anything pertaining to the electoral process.

The standard for voters putting a change of the charter on the ballot is also using the same standard of percentage of registered voters instead of percent of actual voters- so this needs to be changed as well.

The two other changes I endorse and challenge the other candidates to support:

  • The charter clearly specifies one meeting per week to do the cities business. We must end the unauthorized “work sessions” that they’ve been conducting for years and put the full business of the city into a single meeting in public as called for by the charter- or change the charter to make these sessions legal. I believe the charter is correct, one meeting only. That way citizens know their representatives are working in the open.
  • The separate and expensive separate race for Mayor could also be eliminated. Besides the $10K or so pay bump, and the right to go to Washington and the conference of Mayors- the mayor only has one vote. Instead, we could simply award the mayors seat to whomever has the highest number of votes in the popular election- every two years, keeping the cycle of 2 seats then 3 seats every other year. There is no reason for a separate race or higher costs in the process, nor is there any reason to jockey as Nan is doing out of ego. Let the people decide from the broadest slate possible.

This is not the first time I’ve brought up these changes- read the old posts: http://esrati.com/?s=Dayton+city+charter+changes

Then go to the other candidates sites and see what you find?

This is why I’m running. To make sure that we have a charter and a process to elect and, if needed, remove, office holders in Dayton. Please join my campaign and spread the word- and ask the other candidates where they stand?

and others: William Pace? Mark Manovich?

Boobs vs. Bullets

In the wake of the shootings, while politicians tip-toe around their positions on gun control for fear of losing their payola from the gun lobby, it seems Hollywood actors are ready to step up and say no to guns. They released a video “demand a plan” asking that we stop mass shootings.

Of course, the only problem is, most have them have been shot on film, backed by millions of dollars, shooting people with the very same guns they have a problem with in their “demand a plan.”

It hasn’t taken the gun lobby long to intercut the video a million ways from Sunday with scenes of the same stars, with their simulated violence. Hypocrite is the term that comes up next on the search as the next word to go with the search.

We’ve also heard that first-person shooter video games are to blame. The violence in video games somehow turns us into wild-eyed killers.  Yep, we’re being programmed- not even subliminally, to turn into whack job murderers. By the same reasoning, porn makes people into rapists, watching Fox news turns you into a right wing nut and watching cspan turns you into a politician.

I’ve been tiring of the screaming going on amongst my friends on Facebook with every slightest provocation for responsible gun ownership in this country. I believe in requiring training, testing, licensing and bonding (insurance) as part of gun ownership. I don’t think the founding fathers foresaw the future when guns would be so easy to use and as deadly as they are today. They didn’t foresee lots of things, and left them out of the Constitution, no mention of the Internet, airplanes, nuclear arms, etc. And they most certainly didn’t have an opinion on porn- maybe we should go back and ask them?

When I think back about violent movies that disturbed me, a few come to mind: Scarface, Natural Born Killers, Reservoir Dogs, Blue Velvet, American History X, Silence of the Lambs- and realize that all of these, have been “successful” by Hollywood standards. The same standards that give us “Ratings” that supposedly stop children from seeing films – PG-13, R, NC-17 and the former X. For some filmmakers, the NC-17 rating is actually a marketing ploy- they want it, to get more attention.

I’m currently watching the Showtime series “Dexter” where the “star” of the show is a serial killer. Yes, we’re glorifying a psychopath over seven seasons, with more to come. And, the reason he’s a killer- his mother was horrifically killed with a chainsaw in front of his eyes when he was a toddler. Yet, we’ve not banned chainsaws. No, I’m not a fan of a plan to ban assault rifles, large clips because as the saying went in my Army unit- if it takes you that many rounds to kill someone, they deserve to live. What I am a fan of is ending hypocrisy.

Why is it that we fear boobs on TV more than bloodbaths? Maybe, we need to relax the “high moral standards” on TV that show bloodbaths readily and breasts never. Potheads always say that alcoholics are a bigger threat to public safety, while potheads are a threat to cheetos. What would happen if we banned showing shooting on prime time the way we’ve banned boobs? Sales of “Fifty shades of gray” would go up?

To this day, the movie “Natural Born Killers” still makes me sick, just as much as the Newtown and Aurora shootings, maybe even a bit more. Maybe it’s time to create a killing tax- where Hollywood has to pay a percentage of revenue for every shooting in their films and television shows to help fund a victims fund? Because we demand a plan.

People come before bricks and mortar

When my firm, The Next Wave, made “South Park Soliloquy” back in 1996, it wasn’t about the historic homes in South Park- it was a story about the people and the neighborhood. It actually took some convincing the neighborhood that this was the real story. The use of “Buckwheat Zydeco” for soundtrack was also questioned- but, again- the key to South Parks success isn’t rooted in history- it’s in the now- the way neighbors band together and make living in our neighborhood a collective party.

You can watch the video- it’s 30 minutes long- and it aired on DATV for a while, was distributed on VHS tape and now lives on via Youtube.

As I walked in Old North Dayton yesterday collecting signatures, I ran into people who’d lived there for their entire lives, who wondered what happened to their solid working class neighborhood. I also ran into new residents, who were building their lives in our country and in Old North Dayton as a choice, two very different cultures, co-existing.

My experience with Old North Dayton started when I first came to Dayton and was living in what was then called “Mad River Township” and my girlfriends grandparents lived on Baltimore. The house was impeccable. They knew all their neighbors. Most were immigrants or kids of Immigrants. There was a community pride that’s conspicuously missing today.

It’s that pride that thrives in South Park, it’s that pride we’ve lost over the years as we’ve focused more on “economic development” than developing and empowering our “Social Capital.” Without people, you don’t have a city- and our population loss since I first ran for Mayor in 1991 has been epic. Because our city has survived on taxation without representation- we tax people who work in Dayton for a majority of our city funds- we were able to ignore the population drops, until NCR and Delphi left town. Those jobs and payrolls were a huge part of our security blanket – and without them, the cuts we made were in the essential services that make a community a community. The Stuart Patterson rec center has long been closed. Our police department is half as strong, and building code enforcement is a shadow of its former self.

Instead, we’ve bet on buildings, “job creation” and pie in the sky. How’s that been working? We now have a 29 year backlog of houses that need to be demolished. And, while I don’t think that houses are un-saveable, having saved 5 myself in South Park, I can tell you that after they’ve been stripped of copper, left open to the elements and ignored, they do damage to the neighborhoods pride as much as they do to the value of our infrastructure.

When pride goes, so goes the neighborhood.

The sad thing is, these are still proud people. Many just feel trapped, now that things have slid away from them. Others think of their time here as temporary, a stepping stone to a better place, and a few- they see opportunity. What we have to do as a city is find ways to empower our communities to find their pride again. It’s time to rethink how we connect government to our residents, not by creating bureaucracy to evaluate and prioritize projects- but, by working together to fix the easy stuff first and get the people working together toward a shared vision. It took South Park a long time to find it’s voice and place, and there is still much work to be done, but the pride is there and that’s what’s most important.

It’s much easier to get people to do what they want to do, than what you tell them to do. If you ask me, it’s the main secret to Gary Leitzel, the one thing he “gets” and Nan Whaley and AJ Wagner never will. But, he’s still a lone voice on the commission. It’s why I have no problem circulating his petition as I circulate my own. And, it’s why I want to join him on the city commission to put the people first again.

Ohio Minimum Wage Chump Change Raise vs. the Maximum Pay Jackpot

Ohio raised the minimum wage 15¢ an hour to a whopping $7.85 per hour for 2013.

Making minimum wage gives you annual earnings of $16,328 — a $340 increase.

Tipped employees will receive a minimum wage of $3.93 plus tips. Employees younger than 16 must be paid no less than the federal minimum wage, which remains $7.25, unchanged since 2009.

Wow.

A local “business leader” weighs in with his opinion:

“Raising the minimum wage to this high of a level sounds like another good intention, but it can have bad results,” said Greg McAfee, founder and owner of Kettering-based McAfee Heating & Air. “Many companies can’t afford to pay $7.85 to an employee who, because of lack of experience or training, may only be worth $6 per hour.

“I know there are some trying to support families on minimum wages, but I am not for our government mandating what any employer should pay or make, for that matter,” McAfee said.

New workers in the heating, ventilation and air-conditioning industry often see starting wages of $9 to $10 an hour, McAfee added.

Michael Saltsman, a research fellow with the Washington, D.C.-based Employment Policies Institute, warns that minimum wage increases “redistribute” income among low-wage families, with businesses often raising prices, cutting workers’ hours or doing a combination of both.

Low-income families end up worse off, Saltsman said. And businesses making only “a couple of cents on the dollar” profit margin — independent or small grocers, full- or limited-service restaurants and some retailers — will be harmed, he said.

“Essentially, you have some gaining at the expense of others,” he said.

via Minimum wage in Ohio rises to $7.85 an hour.

As a small business owner, I can tell you that the most expensive part of hiring anyone is the first 3-6 months, where you are training and evaluating performance. Getting people up to speed- even if it’s “flipping burgers” ends up costing more like $15 an hour, with the supervisor, the mistakes, and of course the time spent filling out all the government forms and getting them into your payroll. If the government really wanted to help small businesses with hiring low-skill people and getting them up to speed- they would give small businesses a payroll credit for the first three months for anyone who stays longer than 9 months total.

However, in the same day’s paper, there is an article about the skyrocketing costs of medicine being purchased by the Pentagon.

Department of Defense drug spending has ballooned by more than 123 percent since 2002, from $3 billion to $6.8 billion in 2011, according to Tricare officials. That outpaces by nearly double the overall pharmaceutical sales in the United States, which grew about 67 percent over that time, according to annual reports from IMS Health, which tracks sales for drug companies.

via Pentagon drug budget soaring.

Sure, the cost of treating so many more disabled vets due to the never ending wars in Iraq and Afghanistan is part of the reason for the increase in costs- but, if we look at what drug company top management is making, it’s a lot more than minimum wage.

They were led by giant Pfizer, with more than $8 billion in sales from the Department of Defense since 2002.

via Pentagon drug budget soaring.

Pfizer CEO Ian Reed has done OK by jacking up sales to the Pentagon which is protecting his company from harm- he tripled his pay in one year:

Pfizer Inc. nearly tripled CEO Ian Read’s compensation in 2011, his first full year as top executive of the world’s largest drugmaker, which has been cutting costs and making other moves to compensate for generic competition hurting sales of top medicines.

Read, 58, received compensation worth a total of $18.12 million in 2011, up from $6.42 million in 2010, according to an Associated Press analysis of a regulatory filing Thursday by the maker of Viagra and cholesterol fighter Lipitor.

via Ian Read, Pfizer CEO, Sees Pay Nearly Triple In First Year On Job.

Who pays his salary? Why, the taxpayers of course, including those making minimum wage. While it’s almost impossible to live on $16,328 a year- it’s really easy to live on $18.2 million. In fact, I’m pretty sure that poor Ian, would have to hire people just to help him spend his money- if he even could find things to buy (other than investments, stocks, bonds etc). Here’s the math:

A salary of $1.82E7 equates to a monthly pay of $1,516,667, weekly pay of $350,000, and an hourly wage of $8,750.00.

via Convert my salary to an equivalent hourly wage | Calculators by CalcXML.

Just as a note, the first calculator I found wouldn’t even take that many zeros in the annual pay field.

Just suppose, the United States government, the largest purchaser of goods and services, all of a sudden stopped buying products from companies that pay their executives more than, say, 40x their average employees’ salary? Either the minimum wage would go up, the company would go broke without being able to sell to Uncle Sam or, we’d actually start seeing some of the real controls in spending that the Republicans in Congress keep calling for (as long as we don’t cut spending to either their local pork projects or with their campaign donors).

It’s time for a maximum wage policy in the United States so that the people at the bottom aren’t subsidizing those at the top who are raping our country’s coffers to pay for their extravagant salaries.