Save it or make it? A strategy for cities.

I’m working on a piece about changes in an East Dayton community. It’s been ignored by the city and the public for too long- virtually written off. It’s where I’m finding signs of the strongest thinking about how to solve problems within “the system” that we’ve created- and lauded (rightly or wrongly) as the greatest country in the world.

We’ve been having a long ongoing discussion on this site about the reach and responsibility of government: what is appropriate for the government to get involved in, and what isn’t. That discussion hinges on if you think of government as something that’s good or bad, with very little gray area. It’s been helping me crystallize my thinking- which comes down to the lack of responsibility of government employees and politicians for taking risks: there is almost zero personal risk involved in failure- which is the same reason our gilded CEO class has failed so many shareholders and stakeholders.

The idea I woke up with this morning is a pretty fundamental strategy decision that should apply to programs for “urban renewal” and “economic development” (which as practiced by government is almost farcical since they’re almost always “the answer” to solving the problems postmortem). How does one revive a dead neighborhood, city, urban core?

There are two basic approaches- the reactive attempt to “save” the community- to somehow regain the life that was sucked out, to revive the dead, to somehow shock the system to restart the heart, which has been the practice in Dayton.

Then there is the more proactive attempt- to make your community more desirable, accommodating, attractive and marketable by making a community- not focused on the physical assets but on providing service and support to people.

It comes down to what’s the most important asset a community has? It’s not bricks and mortar- it’s the social capital and community that’s sharing a vision on how to live. I believe that the best example of a community that gets it is Kettering- with its parks and recreation programs, the Rosewood arts center, revolutionary skate park, a bmx track, the Fraze pavilion and good schools. None of these is a “silver bullet”- but combined they form a strong antidote to American’s ungodly quest for more, newer, bigger and more homogenized.

With all the “plans” we’ve had for “Saving” Dayton- few have really identified serving our citizens as our prime solution to our problems. As we’re about to engage in yet another round of budget cuts, we still are talking about “saving” Dayton instead of setting bold new strategies to make it attractive to people again.

It’s clear as can be to me, after a few hours interviewing someone about their plan to remake a community that if we want to make things work, it all starts with our most basic raw materials in a community: our children. Because if they don’t have a future worth looking forward to, neither will your community, neighborhood, city etc. Create a realistic future of a life better than the one you have now- and make the kids have dreams- and yours may come true.

That’s how we save a city.

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35 Responses

  1. truddick May 6, 2010 / 8:19 am
    1.  Eliminate all tax breaks.  Everybody pulls their own weight from now on.
     
    2.  Quit re-arranging the deck chairs.  Half a million dollars to convert one-way streets to two-way is a foolish move that makes Dayton less like a big city and more like a podunk town, especially when we should know that economic shortfalls are coming.  Dayton should use what it has in place, not continually build new.
    3.  Pass a city ordinance eliminating all charter schools.  Don’t worry, John Husted will still get his campaign donations.
     
    There.  That’s a start.
  2. Loni Podiak May 6, 2010 / 9:14 am
    What is the percentage of people living on assistance in Dayton?   People on welfare do not pay taxes. All through the East End  in every 3 or 4 households there is 1 employed person. Kettering doesn’t seem to have that problem. How do you fix it? Clinton started a program to move people off welfare but it died when Bush was elected. There is nothing to encourage people to work when all their needs are met. The welfare system is badly flawed, it sucks, good people  who are in a tight spot, in and makes them slaves to the system, it’s really hard to get off welfare.. We need something  like what was put into play by FDR in 1938 . The W.P.A or “Works Progress Administration” it put people to work fixing things that needed fixing .It gave people pride in themselves and in the cities and towns in which they lived. So how do we make it work in Dayton Ohio????
  3. Pulse May 6, 2010 / 9:20 am
    Has anyone seen commissioner Whaley on a bicycle? Well, I have and it is too funny. I don’t think she even knows how to ride a bike. This whole bike thing is ridiculous. There is hardly anybody riding a bicycle around downtown except for a few homeless people.  Way to go Dayton city commission for looking like fools again.
  4. Steve May 6, 2010 / 10:17 am
    David,

    Please look through the city’s expenditures for the last quarter and let us know what all spending you would cut to close the 2.4M defecit. I’m really interested to know. It has to be something they spent money on, not revenue they lost out on because of a “tax break”.

    Also, what are the biggest inefficiencies wasting the most money, and how could they be fixed? Please be specific, and don’t say things like “inspector gotcha”.

  5. David Esrati May 6, 2010 / 10:28 am

    @Loni- I’ll be writing more about how to move people off welfare. Wait.

    @Steve- if you’d spend sometime reading what I’ve written over the last 4+ years- You’d have specifics.

    They lost over $2.4 mill on the Wayne Avenue Kroger deal- and no- it wasn’t a tax break. They spent money on appraisals, purchasing land, paying for options all for a deal that never happened.

    Let’s also look at “tech town”- they’ve been building that dead horse for over 10 years. Competing flat out with the old buildings downtown – which now have to match their low rents.

    I’ll venture there is well over $20 million right there.

    Need I go on?

  6. Steve May 6, 2010 / 10:43 am
    Yes, please go on because that isn’t good enough. Say you did win the election 6 months ago to be a commissioner, and you had to cut from 2010 and only 2010. What would you do?

    Most of the money from Tech Town came from State/Federal/EPA. And I’ve said over and over, Tech Town doesn’t have low rents at $14/sf. Plus, it’s targeting a razor sharp corporate demographic (emerging technology) that I can say 100% wouldn’t otherwise come to Dayton. It’s doing more to help those old buildings than hurt.  They spent 10 years trying to find the money to pay for the environmental cleanup, as far as I know, ground just broke on the CTA building less than 3 years ago, and it just opened last summer. The second building (not funded by Dayton) will be breaking ground in the next few months. I don’t see any dead horses here.

  7. David Esrati May 6, 2010 / 10:58 am

    @Steve- Cut the department of economic development. Have a department by department review of current practices, procedures and personnel. Make a move to more energy efficient vehicles- meter maids on scooters- same with police. Refuse to transport non-medical emergencies to hospitals. Change tax structures to level playing fields- churches and hospitals would have to prove non-profit status to avoid property taxes.

    Look to consolidate services as a region- starting with street maintenance. Eliminate the private academies for police and fire- and accept state standards- only operating them as independent profit centers for training.

    Regionalize the airport.

    Consider trading off non-contiguous parts of Dayton and outliers-consolidating service areas.

    Eliminate priority boards- and replace with neighborhood representation.

    Read what I’ve been writing. It’s all here.

    I shouldn’t have to recap.

  8. David Esrati May 6, 2010 / 10:58 am

    @ Steve- and BTW- try asking Nan and Joey what they’d do. Bet you don’t get any answers.

  9. David Lauri May 6, 2010 / 11:17 am
    I shouldn’t have to recap.
     
    If you don’t ever plan on running for city commission again, then yes, you needn’t recap.  Otherwise, recapping is necessary, no matter how annoying you find it.
     
    Steve’s right about the Wayne Ave Kroger deal being in the past.  If you do run for city commission again, a viable campaign strategy probably isn’t to say you’ll time travel to the past to stop that deal.  You’ll need to talk about things you can do.
     
    Something you need to learn is that part of being a viable politician is being able to mask one’s contempt for voters one considers stupid.  British Prime Minister Gordon Brown understood that even if he messed up badly on understanding the mechanics of wireless microphones.  Tell your trusted friends that you shouldn’t have to recap; don’t tell voters and potential supporters that you’re above answering their questions, even if you have really have answered their questions and any idiot could find your answers.  To win office to anything beyond a county party’s central committee, you’ll need the votes of idiots — there are a lot of them out there (which I can say because I ain’t ever gonna run for anything).
  10. jstults May 6, 2010 / 11:20 am
    Steve:

    Also, what are the biggest inefficiencies wasting the most money, and how could they be fixed? Please be specific, and don’t say things like “inspector gotcha”.

    David (emphasis added):

    Cut the department of economic development. Have a department by department review of current practices, procedures and personnel.

    It may not be popular in these “tough economic times”, but the biggest expense is personnel (73% of the budget).  Dayton’s population has been in decline for decades, has the city payroll been cut to match?  Over half of the ‘cuts’ accomplished this year were vacant positions anyway (63 of 115), which accounted for 9% of the net 8% budget reduction (yes, that’s right other things grew).  How many of the filled positions that were cut were through normal attrition?  Dayton needs to learn from Neutron Jack: rank everyone and cut the bottom X% every year, then be picky about what you hire folks to do in the future. Maybe have the commissioners rank departments, and as David suggests, fire entire departments.  People that whine about “there’s no fat to cut in my budget” just aren’t willing to make the hard decisions.  Identifying ‘inefficiencies’ is a waste of time (it is a rhetorical distraction thrown up by people who are to close to the problem).  Cut the top-line first, and people you have left will figure out how to get the important stuff done (what they don’t get done you probably didn’t need to be doing anyway).

  11. djw May 6, 2010 / 3:01 pm
    Clinton started a program to move people off welfare but it died when Bush was elected.
    Nothing died. The provisions that make recieving welfare benefits (TANF, replacing AFDC) in the 1996 welfare reform act were not changed in any meaningful way under Bush. When Bush took office, there were over 5 million monthly average TANF recipients, by 2007 it was under 4 million. (I’m sure it’s up since 2007 due to the great recession, of course). At any rate, the changes under Clinton’s 1996 law haven’t been changed.
    it’s really hard to get off welfare
    To the contrary: post-1996, it’s hard to stay on it. A centerpiece of the legislative change was to impose lifetime limits on TANF benefits–60 months total over the course of your life. In some states, the total restriction is actually greater.
    But even before 1996, the overwhelming majority of ADFC/TANF recipients recieved welfare benefits for 2 years or less.
  12. djw May 6, 2010 / 3:02 pm
    That should read “The provisions that make recieving welfare benefits *harder* in the 1996 Welfare reform act…”
  13. light bulbs May 6, 2010 / 9:05 pm
    It’s time to make it happen for Dayton. The city needs to be more business friendly including partnering with business to get the job done. The people,city and businesses need to hold the school system responsible for failing the community. By having better roads, better business oportunities and schools rated as excellent. Dayton will once again become the premire place to live, work and play. We need people of vision and leadership in city hall.
  14. Civil Servants are People, Too May 7, 2010 / 2:04 am
    Streets and parks are great, but I don’t understand the personal vendetta against development.   Why eliminate that department before any other?
     
    Okay, you don’t like providing grants to local companies to create jobs.   Let’s say we eliminate that program, and you  take Dayton out of  the incentive game.    Did Kettering land 100 new jobs last week by just asking nicely?   How would you get those jobs to your city without incentives?   (Today, not next year)
     
    And you don’t like Tech Town, because the abandoned, crumbling GM buildings must have looked sooo  much better than the new building next to the Dragons stadium… okay, let’s abandon that project, too.    The private sector loves to clean-up polluted properties in an under-performing market.  Right?
     
    And Wayne Avenue certainly looks like a bad move when you have 20/20 hindsight.   Let’s ignore the next $20 million investor that comes along, and see what happens in the community when Kroger closes the rest of their Dayton stores.  People will ask, “why didn’t they do more?”
     
    Do you really think these high-profile projects are the only functions the development people perform?  I doubt it.    Not everything in government makes the news.
     
    Can you name one city that was better off without having anyone to serve the business community?    Ask your Mayor how many calls he gets from businesses looking for help.  I bet it’s a lot more than he expected or could possibly handle himself.   Who should answer their questions and calls?   City Planner?    Local college professor?    Somebody in Columbus?
     
    Isn’t that a “service” too?
     
    Economic development is like democracy…   It’s a terrible system, but still the best one we’ve got.   Saying no to development is like refusing to vote.   Don’t take Dayton out of the game just because you don’t like the rules.     I support any regional system that will bring our communities together, but until somebody changes the rules Dayton has to keep playing.   I hope they win more often, because the whole region will be better off for it.
     
     
    PS.  Cutting the entire staff of any functioning department sounds like a terrible management practice.    Kiss your morale, professionalism, and experience goodbye.    Why not blame the masters instead of the servants?  Who is setting their policy goals?   What goals are not being achieved?
     
    Civil Servants are typically not stupid people.  They are more often just constrained by a legal, budgetary, and political framework of competing interests and priorities.    That’s why public policy requires more thought than the typical comments on a message board (see: DDN).
     
     
  15. Robert Vigh May 7, 2010 / 11:16 am
    I think the steps to fixing a city are simple.

    1) Ease zoning laws or get rid of them altogether: http://mises.org/daily/4264  <– zoning laws destroy communities
    2) Lower the income tax rate of Dayton to make the lower tax rate the incentive. This makes us competitive and gives incentives to businesses without having to pick, choose and place subsidy.
    3) Stop land banking and expecting purchasers of homes/property to pay all back taxes. Auction off abandoned homes to neighborhoods starting at $1.00.
    4) Get an ombudsman in place to appropriately assess property value (lower in most cases) so that cheap properties are not over taxed.

    @CSAPT: I run a business and we have never had to call anyone other than our accountant, bank, IT guy and lawyer. I have no idea what services the city could possibly offer me. Not advice about an industry in which I am more knowledgeable. Nor legal, accounting, networking or loans. So, what questions are they actually answering? Most people that call there are probably looking for zoning information or tax information. Which if we made that clear and simple the questions would be reduced and the amount of city staff could be reduced. If they are calling for handout, well, I dont particularly want someone fielding that call anyway.

    Let people organize themselves instead of trying to fit a government mold.

  16. David Esrati May 7, 2010 / 11:31 am

    @csapt So- your answer is do the status quo because everyone else is? It’s that kind of thinking that put us in this mess. Population has decreased steadily since 1971- yet- our city hall has grown.

    Nothing personal- but, do we need in house video production, a print shop, a pr department, or an economic development department? Place a bet- we had none of those when the city was twice as big and growing.

    I’ve questioned why the city owns any real estate at all- other than the real estate it needs for fire/police stations, services- the fact that we own all this land is absurd. The printout is at least 5″ thick of greenbar paper (I asked for it 15 years ago through a proxy- we were awestruck).

    It’s not our job to keep you employed- it’s your job to provide quality services at the lowest cost- I think you’ve lost total sight of the goal.

    It’s time for the entire nation to give up on this idea of government as developers. It’s not their forte.

    Dayton could lead the way- or we can follow the whole shooting match down the toilet.

    I’m with Robert- put the house up for sale for a buck- require occupancy- and we may see a start of a return of people. After all- without people- you can have all the houses you want- but it’s not a city- it’s called a ghost town.

     

  17. jstults May 7, 2010 / 11:48 am
    Robert V.:

    3) Stop land banking and expecting purchasers of homes/property to pay all back taxes. Auction off abandoned homes to neighborhoods starting at $1.00.

    David:

    I’m with Robert- put the house up for sale for a buck- require occupancy-

    I’m with RV too, but David, that misses the whole point, don’t require anything!  Let some smart, hungry entrepreneur or activist neighborhood association figure out the best use (if you lower the barriers to entry enough, the sky is the limit to what can be done).  Maybe the best use is not residential anymore.  What is the best use?  I don’t know, but neither does any city bureaucrat or commissioner.  The reason none of us know the answer to that question is because we’re too scared to let those creative forces slip the bounds of the highest use determined by some committee with no skin in the game.  Hoping for Dayton to become a factory dormitory again is just asking for continued blight.  Let go of the past!

  18. djw May 7, 2010 / 11:54 am
    Good point about possible creative uses, jstults, but it would seem to me you’d need some restrictions, if nothing else to avoid creating a bunch of lazy, city-subsidized slumlords.
  19. Robert Vigh May 7, 2010 / 12:12 pm
    DJW: Regarding your statement it would be best if you 1) establish slum lords are bad. I cannot say that they are. 2) Establish why they would be subsidized? The whole point of the exercise is so that they are not city subsidized.

    If you want x# of restrictions and David wants y# of restrictions, then we are almost back to where we started. Infringing on private property and the creative usefulness of the citizens, allowing everything to be decided by committee. Granted, Ill take less restriction over more, but I am not arguing for degrees of restriction, I think no restrictions would have the best results.

    But, since you brought it up, what restrictions would you find to be reasonable?

  20. jstults May 7, 2010 / 12:13 pm
    djw:

    if nothing else to avoid creating a bunch of lazy, city-subsidized slumlords

    That’s what we have right now, because the barriers to entry are so high, only the guys who are skimming stimulus funds and HUD subsidies can afford to do anything.  Stop that crap, open up the field and the slum-lording won’t be such a problem.

  21. Civil Servants are People, Too May 7, 2010 / 1:17 pm
    @csapt So- your answer is do the status quo because everyone else is? It’s that kind of thinking that put us in this mess. Population has decreased steadily since 1971- yet- our city hall has grown.

    I’m not saying the status quo is the only way, or even the best way.   I’m saying don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater, so to speak.      There are programs that work and good people trying to serve their community.    If the programs don’t work, evaluate them, and see what might work better.    Doing nothing is not an acceptable answer.    

    @ Landbanking –
    For a city to sell property for $1, it first has to acquire it.    So landbanking is a way to do that.    Check out Flint, MI for the national model.    I don’t know of any way that a property can be acquired for a dollar.   A title report alone costs several hundred.   Foreclosures cost hundreds or thousands.  So any $1 property program would be subsidized by the City from day one.    Maybe it’s a good idea, maybe it’s not… but just from the few comments here you can start to see how complicated it must be to manage.   

    @ Creative uses
    Creativity is great, but most people will draw a line somewhere.      An antique shop sounds like a great idea, until it becomes a junkyard.   A retail store sounds great, until you realize they’re selling porn next to your house.    Would the average person want that?    Would you?
       

    There is rarely a simple answer to any problem.

  22. djw May 7, 2010 / 1:26 pm
    2) Establish why they would be subsidized
    I was assuming the city would condemn/seize/purchase these properties and make them available for sale. That’s a form of subsidy.
    you 1) establish slum lords are bad. I cannot say that they are.
    Libertarians have some pretty good ideas on a lot of issues, and certainly many municipal governments (including, it would seem, Dayton’s) could improve by taking some libertarian critiques more seriously. However, it’s statements like this that remind me that I see the world fundamentally differently from libertarians, and there’s a limit to their practical contribution.
    I could try to persuade you, but it would probably be pointless. I could say the presence of slumlord owned properties has a tendency to harm community-building efforts in transitional neighborhoods, but you’d probably reply that “community” is just a made up word and call me a collectivist :)
  23. Robert Vigh May 7, 2010 / 1:36 pm
    @Landbanking: The city obviously has acquired properties. Some are abandoned, some are handed to the city because the tax is not worth paying. They do not sell for $1.00, the auction starts at $1.00 and additional costs would have to the burden of the buyer. I do not see how it has become complicated.

    @Creative uses
    The great fear. What if someone does something I dont like with their property? Can we analyze this statement for a moment………it is their property! Do you think a porn shop is going to be successful in a ritzy neighborhood? Do you think they can afford the capital investment required in that neighborhood? Do you think if I opened my porn shop on the block of $5K homes that I am going to lower their property value?

    Government is pro at taking simple answers and complicating them to death. Begin to make basic decisions surrounding freedom of the individual and our communities would see much simpler solutions to problems previously seen as complex.

  24. Robert Vigh May 7, 2010 / 1:51 pm
    djw: 2) The subsidy may exist in the initial offering. Addressing how and why the city is accumulating property would remove this subsidy. But, in an auction format where bidding starts at $1.00, you are likely going to arrive at the appropriate market price and the government is really not subsidizing at this point.
    1) Well, lets define slumlord: landlord that maximizes profits by not maintening property. In order to attract renters they must rent BELOW market value. This gives consumers a choice of a well maintened higher rent property, or an unmaintained low rent property. Consumers can now adjust living conditions to free up money for their other pursuits. Regarding the community building efforts, is this a government funded program or is this private dollars? If government programs rebuild neighborhoods, the slumlord is further incentived to maximize profits as long as possible and then sell above market value to the government program.

    We can discuss what would happen if it was private dollars fixing up an area. We can discuss other scenarios surrounding slum lords, but neither of your conditions give evidence that they are indeed bad.

    You can always try and convince me, but have you honestly walked through the economic impact of what you are arguing? I have found many non-libertarians see the world just like libertarians, they just lack the understanding involved in the economic cause and effect.

  25. jstults May 7, 2010 / 4:52 pm
    Robert Vigh:

    Do you think if I opened my porn shop on the block of $5K homes that I am going to lower their property value?

    Exactly, at some point anything is an improvement on the row after row of boarded-up eyes staring out of slouching, vacant faces…
     
    Plus, neighborhood porn shops gives us a chance to support our local Young Creatives.  Buy locally manufactured porn!  Keep Those Dirty Dollars in Dayton!

  26. Teri Lussier May 9, 2010 / 8:49 am
    It’s clear as can be to me, after a few hours interviewing someone about their plan to remake a community that if we want to make things work, it all starts with our most basic raw materials in a community: our children. Because if they don’t have a future worth looking forward to, neither will your community, neighborhood, city etc. Create a realistic future of a life better than the one you have now- and make the kids have dreams- and yours may come true.

     
    Beautifully said, David.
    Families put down roots in a community in ways that are immutable and often undefinable, but are real and can be built upon. There are few things so important to a community as the stability that families naturally bring to the area.
     

  27. jstults May 9, 2010 / 11:34 am
    CSAPT:

    PS.  Cutting the entire staff of any functioning department sounds like a terrible management practice.

    I make no claim that it’s pretty, I know it’s disconcerting to the folks involved in the functions deemed no longer necessary.  Just because a function goes doesn’t mean all the people there go too, some of them are very likely worth keeping.  As in almost all other things, execution is everything.

    Kiss your morale, professionalism, and experience goodbye.

    The hit to morale is generally a temporary thing cause by uncertainty.  If carried out quickly and efficiently things bounce back pretty fast after some firings (especially if they are based on trimming the deadwood and refocusing on the important stuff).  The ‘experience’ that civil servants speak of is not as valuable as they think, because too often it is two year of experience repeated ten times rather than truly two decades of accumulated wisdom (there are exceptions to this sweeping and unfair generalization; CSAPT I’m sure you’re one of those).

    Why not blame the masters instead of the servants?  Who is setting their policy goals?   What goals are not being achieved?

    This is not about setting goals or portioning out blame.  It’s about adjusting the size of the enterprise to the size of the revenue.  Getting lean.

    Civil Servants are typically not stupid people.

    What you say is probably true.  No doubt some smart folks will be pushed out during the process of making the size of government supportable, such is life.  While that’s not a good argument against cutting bloat, it does illustrate why, when asking the staff to get entrepreneurial, you are unlikely to get ideas that involve firing lots of their buddies who they hold in such high esteem.

  28. jstults May 24, 2010 / 10:33 pm
    From DMM:

    There are 15,000 vacant lots in the city of Dayton. […] Dayton now has Jonathan Cain with the Lot Links program and several months ago he took some time to talk to me about Lot Links.
    …Lot Links is an inexpensive way for Dayton residents to purchase vacant lots that are owned by the City of Dayton. Jonathan told me that most purchasers are neighboring home owners who want to expand their yard space to create a play area for the kids, or a garden, or to put up a garage. Useful purposes all, and those lots would fit well into an established neighborhood without much distraction or disruption in neighborhood aesthetics. You can purchase a lot for as little as $235.00, although a buildable lot is $635.00- still cheap land ownership and the city guarantees clean title without liens. The problem, as I see it, is that land ownership has to be profitable somehow.
    […]
    We tend to think of these lots as either private residential, or some sort of community property, but I think it might be beneficial to start to consider business uses and allow room for developing the lots in profitable ways- I’ve begun to think of this as “micro-development”.
    How 15,000 Vacant Dayton Lots Could Blossom into the Growth of Civilization

  29. jstults June 5, 2010 / 10:14 am
    David:

    I’m working on a piece about changes in an East Dayton community. It’s been ignored by the city and the public for too long- virtually written off. It’s where I’m finding signs of the strongest thinking about how to solve problems within “the system” that we’ve created

    Related you might find interesting:

    …signals that the oft-decried “crowding out” by local, state, and federal governments of community-building local tasks – from educating our kids to public works projects – is receding…maybe forever. Even raising revenues will not overcome the coming fiscal tsunami of pension and benefit burdens accruing due to the retirement of Baby Boomers.
    …municipal governments are increasingly seeking public participation in service provision.  This is a new leadership skill for our local and state government leaders accustomed to have all the answers and service solutions. Born in the Progressive Era, this mentality is slowly, but surely changing.  But it also requires new, or better, old, definitions of citizenship.

    The New Normal: A Communitarian Moment?

    Mr Riordan mentions this idea of relinquishing responsibility for services to citizens in this budget meeting.

  30. Greg Hunter June 7, 2010 / 3:38 pm
    Mr Riordan mentions this idea of relinquishing responsibility for services to citizens in this budget meeting.

    Not that I mind as long as it is shared burden.  Why should I pay for taxes for services I am unlikely to receive?  Why not put a little democracy to the budget?  Pay pensions to retirees  or provide services?

    How about Social Security, Education, Defense and Medicare?

    Hmm lets make up some questions.

    New Knees and Hips for the Obese Baby Boomers or Funding Education?

    Buying 10 new Cruise Missiles or Paving the Roads?

    Fighting the Drug War or Building more Prisons?

    Lazy Americans do not like these kinds of choices,  too much thinking, too much pain, but something has to give…..  The question is not when but whom.

  31. David Lauri June 7, 2010 / 7:16 pm
    Fighting the Drug War or Building more Prisons?
    Stop fighting the War on Drugs and we won’t have to build so many prisons.
     
    Joahnn Hari has an interesting recent article on Slate.com about “The Parable of Prohibition” in which he talks about the new book Last Call: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition by Daniel Okrent:

    The story of the War on Alcohol has never needed to be told more urgently—because its grandchild, the War on Drugs, shares the same DNA.

  32. Greg Hunter June 8, 2010 / 2:51 pm
    Total Agreement David L and I cannot understand Americans being so stupid that they cannot draw the parallels between Prohibition and the Drug War.  Idiots.
  33. jstults September 13, 2010 / 3:10 pm
    David Esrati:

    Let’s also look at “tech town”- they’ve been building that dead horse for over 10 years. Competing flat out with the old buildings downtown…

    Steve:

    The second building (not funded by Dayton) will be breaking ground in the next few months. I don’t see any dead horses here.

    Another stallion added to the stable:

    Paid for by federal, state and local funds, the new flagship building is scheduled to open in the Summer of 2011 at a cost of $7 million.
    TechTown continues to move forward

    I think it will be interesting to see if all this publicly funded development actually translates into a compelling story for Dayton to tell industry.

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