Debate? What debate. Mayoral Q&A boring.

Calling the live television broadcast a debate between Mayor McLin and challenger Gary Leitzell was the first error. The second was actually taking notes, because the questions and the answers are sounding like a broken record. Neither candidate showed any promise of leadership- with the exception of Gary when, near the end, he said it would be his job as mayor to make the City Manager look great and to make the other commissioners look smarter than him. Compare that with the Mayor calling her cohorts shining stars- without acknowledging that we have a city manager form of government for that very reason- shining stars aren’t something we can reach out and touch.

I’d hope that Cox would post the “debate” on YouTube or some other video sharing site, so people can review it.

The room was filled with political party types, a few business people and the rest of the commission sans Dean Lovelace. There were reporters galore as well as publisher Kevin Reilly and editorial hatchet man, Martin Gottlieb. Since Joanne Huist Smith was part of the panel asking questions, it looked like Lynn Hulsey will be penning the story for the DDN.

I would have loved to see rebuttal to questions- and even better yet- at least one opportunity for the candidates to ask each other questions.

Here are the key points that I thought worth mention.

Rhine on more than one occasion thanked, or congratulated the service unions. It’s clear she knows where her bread is buttered. She’s awfully proud that Dayton is capable of taking out other cities trash. So one hand, we’re talking about being a hub for high tech new business- but, our core skill is menial labor.

BTW- her and Gary are now in lock step on Gary’s idea to recruit 1000 new small businesses, instead of chasing large ones. Too bad her last 8 years has shown that she’s doesn’t have a clue about recruiting any business without a handout.

Gary talks about “Enterprise” not “Privatize”- which sounds almost as good as we’ve got “feds, meds and ed’s” in this town (our three non-profit, non-taxpaying bases that are left). However, with budget cuts, and a general perception of incompetence thanks to our current leaderships ineptitude, selling our services is going to be a tough sell until we can sell it to our own citizens first. Gary talks about a customer focus- Rhine talks about her connections- including her great relationship with President Obama (as if we are going to buy that- esp. after she sat on the fence in the primary- where she and Nan were Hillary girls).

I’m amazed that the Mayor can blame NCR leaving on the CEO who never came to Dayton, but she keeps calling them “The NCR” as well as botching other corporate names the same way. “The Care Source,” “The Pacchia” etc.

It’s also not real helpful to say  that our “downtown buildings are antiquated.” Talk about how not to sell downtown. She goes on to say Caresource had to build new- as if Mendelson’s didn’t have the space, or something couldn’t be done with the former Elder Beerman building to accommodate them. Then she turns around and talks about Bob Schiffler with the Kuntz building- which is most certainly both old- and enjoying a renaissance. I have no love for Mike Turner, but, listening to her muddle through this- made me wish he was still here, even though his answers would have been just as vacuous.

Gary thinks everything will be helped by having “coffee and a doughnut” with existing business owners. The mayor proudly says she meets with 50 a year. The real question is how many is the City Manage meeting with? I know Rashad took the Mayor out to a lot of lunches at Coco’s- but, it was just the two of them. Wrong way to do it then, will continue to be wrong again.

In fact, when Rhine won eight years ago- I wrote her a 5 page strategy on how to jump start the city. Funny- I probably should have posted it earlier- so here it is as a pdf. Ideas for Rhine It might be a good measuring stick for what we’ve seen after 8 years of her rule.

On public safety, no real breakthrough ideas from either. The real scary part is what’s going to happen when the senior officers all retire. No one asked the question- and we haven’t heard an answer. You still need cops to run even the red-light cameras. Technology isn’t going to save us- there is no robocop.

Another point of differentiation- Gary talks about merging services with the County- Rhine says there isn’t much overlap. Indicative of how far regionalism will get under her power- no where. If regionalism is your dream- she’s not your candidate.

The schools aren’t the Mayors responsibility, and Gary is getting hammered for home schooling. I think the real issue is that we continue to believe in DPS as is- and that the charters haven’t accomplished much either. Gary is right- parents are an issue. However, we need to strengthen neighborhoods and the connection between schools and parents. The Mayor talked about Siamese twins- the city and the schools, when in fact we have quadruplets or more- with DPS, Charters, Religious schools, and home schooling- all options. How do we get them all working together? Neither had answers. I’ve talked about sportsplex, a central after school tutoring center, enrichment programs at Boonshoft and Wegerzen- but, it will be harder to implement now that we’ve already done our black and white, East and West side rec-plexes thanks to the current administration.

When the mayor closes with mention of 4 city mangers in 8 years, 2 interim, 2 full, it should be an indication that we haven’t had the right formula in place. Two year averages for a City Manager won’t get us where we need to go. I’m not sure the current commission can give us the city manager we neeed- and when you get down to it- that’s the most important key to this whole election.

I’m not declaring a winner between these two tonight. After eight years the Mayor should have better answers and build more confidence. With an opponent so weak, the challenger should look a lot better. For the city to have to choose between only these two- without a primary- we’ve already lost.

But, when it comes down to what to do with a team that’s been losing- the only answer is to try to change it. That’s what I’ve been hearing going door to door. What are your thoughts?

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>I wrote her a 5 page strategy on how to jump start the city. Funny- I probably should have posted it earlier- so here it is as a pdf. Ideas for Rhine

Wow, what an amazing list of ideas!   A couple of them have actually happened (well, at least the Siebenthaler bridge)…     We’d certainly be in better shape if a few more of these ideas had been embraced and implemented.   Eight years ago?   Wow, time flies…

Jeff Wellbaum
Jeff Wellbaum

  Gary started off weak on the first two questions. Probably because of nerves and he wasn’t as well prepared for them. However, the next three he scored “victories” by answering these better than MCLin. I liked h0w Gary used visuals twice using magazines. This was a good feature of his presentation. It allowed for a change of the monotony of the Q and A. I was also dissapointed that it seemed more like a glorified candidates night or Q and A session. They did not get much of a chance to rebuttal one or another or ask each other questions. In my opinion Gary won the debate 6-3 when it came down to the score card)with several draws on a couple of questions). I think if a poll came out now it would be neck to neck. It should come down to who has the best strategy and who wants the office more over the next 19 days.  WHIO TV covered the debate at 11 pretty fairly in my opinion making neither one sound better than the other.


I saw the tail end of the news conference (which is what it was, not a debate).  This was the first time I saw McLin and Leitzell live.   McLin has often been characterized, both here and by the DDN commenters as out-to-lunch and a ditz.  She seemed a lot sharper and polished than what I expected.  Though, like a typical politician, she didnt really “answer” some of the questions.
Leitzell nailed the problem with the DPS being the parents and parental involvement.  This is a hard truth that won’t win him any votes but I commend him for stating this outright.  His answer on the crime question was a bit odd.


After watching the debate I have to say I was embarassed for the city of Dayton.  Is this the best we can do?  McClin sounded intoxicated and slurred her words many times, Leitzell was better versed but still unpolished and sloppy.  Their canned answers were tired, they never did address the question about which company in the city is next to leave and what would they do to stop it.  McClin has done little in her time and will do little if she is re-elected.  Leitzell may have more vision but that alone will not be enough if he doesn’t bring people together.  Did he have an earring in?  I am all for personal expression but you are trying to represent the city as mayor, maybe it would have been best to take out the bling, even McClin left her circle/square glasses at home.  After it was over, I had lost an hour of my life that I will never get back.  I prayed that my suburban friends hadn’t watched and more importantly, I hoped that no business owner with hopes of expanding witnessed this debacle.  Dayton deserves better than either of these two clowns.


A couple notes from the debate:

-Neither one actually responded to the question about which company is on their radar to be the “next NCR” to leave the City…. they either weren’t smart enough to understand the question, or just don’t know what big companies we have left… some decent responses might have highlighted other major employers that we do still have left, like maybe Standard Register, Premier Health Partners, Behr, etc.

-Gary’s reponse on the trade-off of low cost of living VS. a higher crime rate was pretty poor.  We can’t just accept a high crime rate because our mortgage is lower that what it would be with a similar house in the suburbs.

-Both claimed to be focused on keeping core City services (police, fire, PW) as a priority for Dayton… but Gary suggested the idea of selling our police and fire services to surrounding communities.  This is a very good idea.  Rhine talked a lot about doing Riverside’s trash, and that is a good thing.  But I like Gary’s thoughts of pushing that concept to other core services.

Jeff said “Dayton deserves better than either of these two clowns”….

Unfortunately, that’s probably not too far off… Leitzell has my vote, as does David for Commision.  But when it comes to the top elected position in a region of almost a million people, it dissapoints me that we can’t turn out any more talent.  I won’t sit here and list the names that pop up occasionally that we all know could really bring some star power (plus brain power), and probably actually win the election. But if we’re going to move the City forward, we need some top-notch folks to do it.

The reality of the situation is that despite her genuine love for Dayton, Rhine is an idiot. But we all know she’s probably going to win.  Leitzell is absolutely well-intentioned, and I like some of his ideas.  But he’s not bringing the firepower that it’s going to take…. I hope I’m wrong, but I doubt it.

I see a Lietzell/Esrati/Williams vote in my future.  Plus MetroParks! :-)


God, watching that made me depressed :(   Rhine continues to amaze me with her mangling of the English language, and I wanted to shout through the TV at Gary to STOP SHRUGGING every 30 seconds.  Whoever wins, let’s set aside a few bucks in the $30 million deficit budget for some Toastmasters classes.
I thought the “who do you think is the next firm leaving” question was a bit unfair, and I don’t blame either candidate for avoiding naming names. However neither candidate addressed retention of existing major employers and the sentiment seemed to be let’s concentrate on attracting new business and not worry about trying to hold onto what we’ve got.
Sadly, I agree with Brad.  McLin and friends will probably muddle through this election and it’ll be four more years of premature hype and broken promises to the citizens of Dayton.  Can’t wait to hear what lines of BS the local party leaders will be feeding us in 2013.


Point taken that the “star power” needs to be in the City Manager role, not the Mayor.

David Lauri

I see a Lietzell/Esrati/Williams vote in my future.
Brad, have you read David E’s explanation of the dangers of casting both your votes in the city commission race?  He’s explained that if you vote for two candidates instead of just for him, there’s a danger he won’t place in the top two and won’t win a seat.


Yeah I saw that.  But I think Joey is worthy of a vote as well.  He’s approachable about issues that my particular organization has dealt with in the past, and seems to be an intelligent guy.


I would like to see a word-for-word written transcript of this “debate”.  It would be very difficult for the transcriptor to punctuate Rhine’s words.  They were mostly long disjointed run-on sentences.  Some of her entire two minute answers were one giant run-on sentence that jumped from disjointed topic to topic. There would be a single period at the end and that’s it.  Please girl, take a deap breath and relax next time.  Gary, you did not do much better.


Gary’s reponse on the trade-off of low cost of living VS. a higher crime rate was pretty poor.  We can’t just accept a high crime rate because our mortgage is lower that what it would be with a similar house in the suburbs…..yeah, thats what I thought was odd.  He made a good point in the beginning of his answer abuot the media needing to be more specific about crime locations and not say its all “Dayton”, and about community policing and neighborhood watches, but then flubbed it with that trade-off comment.   But I’m curious if petty property crime has become so endemic in Dayton that the residents just accept it, they way Gary seems to.


McLin pretty much gave the regionalism concept the kiss-off.  Seems like the only regionalism she’s interested in is “revnue sharing” (i.e. the suburbs bailing out the city budget shortfall).

Molly Darcy
Molly Darcy

No Jeff– it’s revenue sharing, as in if you’re going to poach our jobs with “economic development” money instead of growing your own businesses, or bringing them in from outside the region, then  you should share the tax dollars you stole from us. 


Dayton is dying, Molly.  The local business community has pretty much abanonded the place.  The only major new private sector firm to located in the city is CareSource, and that is because they are an out-0f-town firm.  Dayton has lost the spin0ffs of NCR and MeadWestVaco. Dayton lost Reynolds and Reynolds (which was a corporation that was once committed to downtown).  Dayton lost Woolpert.  I’m not sure whats left to lose, frankly.   I guess Standard Register is still there over in Edgemont and Behr in North Dayton.
Most of the business formation is happening in suburbia and local businessess prefer to locate suburbia.  Suburbia is where it’s at when it comes to business growth and expansion.  Dayton is where it’s not. This has nothing to do with poaching and more to do with where business activity has relocated to over the past 30 years or so and where enterpeneurs and employees live.  There is plenty of spec office and industrial space out in suburbia and thats where the new or expanding firms go.
I guess the exception to that is North Dayton and Springfield Street.  There’s still a collection of smaller firms located in these parts of town, out along Stanley and Leo Streets and thereabouts.