Denver UniGov! [or, why do I continue to beat a dead horse]

Dayton could be a big meaningful city once again. Very easily. Columbus, Indianapolis, Louisville have all seen the light- and Denver too.

In Dayton, we can’t even cooperate on a 911 consolidation. If there was ever a natural disaster- we’d still have several different dispatch centers- all having to try to communicate with each other, as well as the people in the field.

We voted to pay a higher sales tax to fund RTA too- but, instead of a robust modern transport system, we’ve got buses that run into people pushing cars– and are cutting routes, even as ridership grows. Our first attempt at light rail is getting railroaded because of cost estimates even as the need to wean our selves from foreign oil and the auto addiction become painfully obvious.

By comparison- Denver, a city that’s been growing- despite missing the one key element for life that we’ve got in abundance (water)- has UniGov, a Light Rail System- and the same problems with education that we have:

Colorado Taxpayers actually voted to pay a higher sales tax to build a light rail system that will span the region. It’s a point of pride as you can hear in this song Tom Clark wrote when part of the system — called T-rex — was completed.

CLARK: Hooray, T-rex you’re finally finished. How’d we ever build something so big? On budget and ahead of the schedule. Let’s tell the folks at Boston’s Big Dig.

If Denver’s economy is the futuristic success story Tom Clark would have you believe, it’s because of two things: A highly educated workforce, due mostly to outsiders coming to work in the high-tech industries that dot Denver’s landscape and, says former mayor Federico Pena, a regional mentality.

Dozens of cities across hundreds of miles all consider themselves part of the same community.

PENA: We probably have more metropolitan-wide districts of one kind or another than any other part of the United States.

For instance, unlike, say, New York, there’s one regional transit authority spanning numerous municipalities and governed by one body.

There’s similar regional cooperation in everything from sewage to the arts — and, of course, it helps that the whole region falls within the borders of just one state.

But there’s another big reason to work together, says Steve McMillan, business editor of the Denver Post.

STEVE MCMILLAN: There are no major cities for hundreds and hundreds of miles. Right here along the front range, we are an economy unto ourselves. Denver stands alone.

Perhaps the most futuristic things about Colorado are its problems. There’s not a lot of water around here, and ever more consumers, thanks to a rapidly growing population.

And there’s a real worry about the state’s crumbling education system.

Colorado’s libertarian streak led to the passage of a law that makes raising money for local education difficult.

And everyone I spoke with — including Colorado’s biggest cheerleaders — said if the state doesn’t start educating its own children and growing its own talent pool, its economy will suffer.

Marketplace: Denver’s ambitions are a mile high.

Sure, John McCain announced his running mate in Dayton- but, there will be some idiots that will say- no, he announced in Fairborn. Same idiots wanted to call it the Fairborn Peace Accords (technically, since WPAFB is a city unto itself- it should have been the WPAFB Peace accords).

At some point, we have to come together (and I certainly don’t just mean Washington Township and Centerville) if we hope to be significant. There are great things happening in this city- but, because of our pettiness, we can’t seem to get the big picture.

How can we be a part of a global economy with a Mayor that says (and I hope this quote from the front page of the DDN on Aug 29 is a misquote) after the Obama acceptance speech “The messages of hope and that American can change from the way it has been was demandingly given.”

How long can we be a laughing stock?

How long can we continue to act like a bunch of small gangs when the rest of the world is fighting with armys?

In November of 09, we should be voting for a Mayor of all of Dayton- not just the city of. It’s time.

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