The 3-point challenge

Whenever I’m out hanging nets, and there are ballers on the court, I offer up my three-point challenge. Shoot three treys in a row- and get a t-shirt. I let the little dunkers shoot from the foul line. Usually, the result is near pandemonium, with very little order, and someone inevitably trying to go twice, or wanting to change the rules to it doesn’t start counting till you make one.

When I was out with Rob D. hanging rims, he wanted to make it easy- and give away as many shirts as possible. I believe that skills and hard work should be rewarded, and on some courts- I end up giving away multiple shirts- as 9 points go in like clockwork. I believe that rewards need to be earned, that there shouldn’t be shortcuts along the way. I stick to my rules- and tell the kids that they should work on their long shot, and show me their skills next time. And, sometimes the first thing I hear after “The net man is here”- is “let me show you my three pointer.”

Going door-to-door, I get one of two reactions when I talk about giving every Dayton Public Schools student an iPad or netbook. The first is complete understanding and a realization that without 1-1 computer to student, we can’t possibly be preparing our students for the workforce- and the other, which is much rarer- is “what do you mean give them an iPad? To take home? They’ll sell (or steal) it?” It’s that second reaction that always takes me aback.

Forget about the fact that textbooks cost as much as an iPad and do a lot less for our students, and no one would argue against textbooks, it’s the idea that our kids either don’t deserve the best, haven’t earned the right, or can’t be trusted. This is our future- and we don’t seem to place a very high level of trust in our kids today. That’s too bad, because I think if kids were voting, we’d be having a better political conversation than we have now. They see what’s going on around them- and for the most part, they’ve given up on Dayton too.

When you come to a park that has a dead raccoon sitting in the parking lot, broken glass on the court that’s bisected by weed fault lines- and look up at a raggedy backboard with a rusted rim and the only thing that’s clean and glowing is a basketball net, with a florescent green bottom, that’s the beacon of hope. A $2 weave of string. It sends a message. I enjoy talking to our kids more than voters. When they ask what I am going to do for our city, they haven’t become jaded yet by the lies of those who’ve come before me. They believe. All I hope is that I can get two other people on the commission to agree with a vision of Dayton that doesn’t include tax breaks for General Electric, while we’re charging admission to our rec center to families that can barely afford to keep shoes on their kids’ feet.

That’s why one of the first things I hope to do is reward the kids who work hard at becoming our future leaders. As soon as I take my oath of office, I plan to make our rec centers free for any kid with a B average or better.

The iPads, will go home with our graduating seniors who have at least a B average and a 20 or better on the ACT. We will reward our kids for doing the work.

And, if you don’t have the grades, but want to get into the rec center, we’ll have opportunities for kids to go to tutoring centers after school- and be rewarded with passes for completing additional work.

And while I’ve also been told that by putting nets up, I’m encouraging NBA dreams instead of school work, I want to make it clear to our kids, that shooting threes can change a game, but, in the end, it’s all about making smart decisions- on the court and in life. I want to work to make our kids realize that “Smart is the new cool”- and that everything we focus on is to make smart decisions in our community to help us rise above it.

I started with the basketball nets because I believe that our parks and how we treat our citizens are indicative of what we think of them. I plan on taking this small change and building into a whole cultural shift, that Daytonians are proud, smart and ready to take on any challenge, from getting elected for under $10,000 (something some say can’t be done) to eliminating tax breaks for companies as bait to come here, because we need our taxes to create a community worth moving your business to, and that paying taxes is an investment in a great city.

November 5th, we’ll find out if enough people believe that actions speak louder than words, and if hard work pays off. If every person I talk to, tells just a part of my story to their friends, we’re on the verge of changing the game in Dayton. Thank you.

Just remember, it takes three votes on the commission to win a change. Others have had three votes and squandered their opportunities. Three new faces, three new votes, that’s the three point challenge for Dayton.

The tools of economic development were stolen last night

Just last week, I wrote about the costs of giving tax breaks to big businesses for promised jobs- while small business start-ups have huge obstacles. I spoke of the costs we all pay when we have to make up for the tax revenues that aren’t coming in.

From my post:

I’m watching a small start-up try to get out of the blocks. A house painting company that specializes in making new paint stick to old houses- by doing maniacal surface preparation and using high quality paint. He could hire an employee tomorrow to start work, but, he has to pay for licenses, bonding, insurance and purchase capital goods like a scaffold, all out of cash.

Also the minute he hires someone, he has to start paying worker’s comp (which is high for a painting company out of the blocks) payroll taxes- all the things we’re willing to subsidize for the going concern. And, the person he’s likely to hire- is someone who is also under-employed, needing every dollar earned just to survive.

He has no credit, no tax breaks and zero support. I helped by creating his new identity, printing business cards, door hangers and signs. I set him up with a website and suggested marketing strategies, he’s finishing his first project and about to start his second tomorrow. I also hired him to do some interior painting as he was getting started. He’s having to bid low to prove the value of his product, despite having a few “freelance projects” to show from last year.

When we know that the major engine for job creation is small businesses, why are our tax dollars subsidizing large ones?

When we know that the small business can have an immediate impact- why are the deals being done for jobs that are a year away?

Why do we subsidize any business with our tax dollars? With every subsidy we tilt the playing field to give an unfair advantage to one company over another- not the role for government or a fair use of our tax dollars. Plus, if the big business paid the same taxes as our smaller ones- maybe the burden of starting up wouldn’t be so insurmountable?

Would you like to help a small business get started? Hire one. The Brush and Bucket. (update in 2015- I can no longer vouch for this small business)

You want your tax dollars to help a big company by costing you more for security systems, slower emergency crew response, new school tax levies to make up for the giveaway- continue to sit on your thumbs while politicians sell you the BS that tax supported “job creation” is a good investment of your tax dollars.

via Your tax dollars at work as venture capital vs. small businesses at work.

Well, last night, The Brush and Bucket had his tools stolen. His brand new pressure washer, all of his sanders, grinders and scrapers. The aluminum downspouts from his current project- which were all locked in a building across the street from his house- gone. He was working on getting a security system installed- but, alas, it’s too late.

He also didn’t have his equipment insured yet. Gone are about $1,000 worth of equipment that helped employ 4 people.

Here are pictures of the kind of prep work he did with those tools- making old wood look new- and shots of the door lock that was busted open.

  • The busted door jamb after the break in.
    The jamb that broke
  • door lock missing bolt
    The bolt was busted out
  • After proper prep this is what the side of the house looked like
    Best paint prep job you’ve ever seen
  • The Brush and Bucket- sign with a house getting a proper prep job
    The Brush and Bucket, 937-824-0674
  • Stolen Troy Built Pressure Washer with Honda engine
    Stolen pressure washer
  • Stolen Pressure washer Serial number 1019876149
    Serial number 1019876149
  • Stolen DeWalt 5" Random Orbit Palm Sander Kit- model D26451K SN 882560
    Stolen DeWalt 5″ Random Orbit Palm Sander Kit- model D26451K SN 882560

True economic development means that people can spend their money on building a business, without having to fear that their tools will be stolen and all that they’ve worked for has disappeared overnight.

Had we spent $45,000 on our police department instead of a website from a Denver ad agency, maybe the Brush and Bucket would have the tools so 4 people could have worked today- and tomorrow.

Maybe the Mayor and the Commission would like to invest in a small local business with money out of their pockets- and buy him a new pressure washer, sanders, grinders and scrapers- so he can keep his company that he started in Dayton, hiring Daytonians, in business?


I’ve added pictures of the products- and the S/N of two of the stolen items:

Troy Built Pressure washer with Honda engine: Style 8100CP Model 020489 S/N 1019876149

DeWalt 5″ Random Orbit Palm Sander Kit- model D26451K  SN 882560


What is a signature in Dayton, Ohio?

Tomorrow, at 11a.m.,  the Montgomery County Board of Elections- comprised of Democrats and Republicans, will eliminate the opportunity for the Citizens of Dayton to have a primary election for Dayton City Commission. They will clear 4 candidates’ petitions, having found almost 20% of my signatures invalid.

They’ll do it, by applying the Ohio Revised Code to a process required by the Dayton City Charter- a legally obsolete set of laws, written up by businessmen in 1913 to run the city the way they wanted it run.

The idea of  “Home Rule”- where cities can make their own laws- and enforce them, even if in conflict with state and federal laws is effectively pretty much over- when the residency rules were tossed. However, the interesting part about our petitioning process- is that the claim is made that the city laws must be enforced by organizations not spelled out in the charter- the Board of Elections which is governed by Ohio Revised Code and by the Secretary of State.

Because the Charter is only 41 pages or so- the standard that is used is if it isn’t spelled out in the Charter- ORC steps in. There are only two ways the charter is changed- if 3 members of the commission vote to put a change on the ballot- or 10% of the registered voters turn in a petition to request a change. The standard for recalling commissioners is higher- 25% of the registered voters.

In ORC, the standards are much lower- and are not based on a percentage of registered voters- but, on a percentage of the number of registered voters casting ballots in the last gubernatorial election.

ORC requires 50 signatures to get on the ballot. That’s what you need to be a county commissioner- and it’s all you need to run for Congress as a Democrat or Republican (the standard for independents is much higher for Congress).

If  the Charter is such a stickler about signatures- including the 500 standard to run- it makes me wonder if every elector’s signature that I collected should be counted as three.

The charter also clearly specifies (sec 161) “The Commission shall fix by ordinance the salary or compensation of the heads of departments, its own employees” – and to pass an ordinance requires 3 votes (Sec 41) and 4 votes as an Emergency (sec. 42)-yet, Mayor Rhine McLin singlehandedly gave the City Manager a retroactive raise- and raises to department heads in her final year in office. How come her signature counts for three and mine do not?

I am not new to the process of getting 500 signatures. When I ran in 1993 for Mayor against Clay Dixon- I turned in just over 500- without using voter registration lists and made it on the ballot (as did 4 other challengers including eventual winner Mike Turner). I again- without voter lists, did the same to run in the special election that ran concurrent with the mayoral final- to fill the vacated seat of Mark Henry. It too, was a four-way race with Dean Lovelace, Mary Sue Kessler and Judy Orick on the ballot with me- which Dean won by the slimmest of margins.

Abner Orick was in charge of the Board of Elections back then- and obviously things changed, when my petitions were rejected 2 more times- before I got smart and started using the voter rolls.

However- thanks to new federal law- the City of Dayton currently carries over 100,000 registered voters on the rolls. I can tell you from using those rolls in my process of getting signatures- that they are grossly out of date and incorrect- thereby wasting my time by having me knock on doors that no longer have the voters in them. I also have no way of verifying that the voter is signing a signature that is acceptable to the board of elections- since apparently nearly 20% of my signatures were found to be unacceptable.

[UPDATE] 7:30 PM – total “registered voters” in Dayton: 100,792 actual voters last Gubernatorial election: 37,915 [End UPDATE]

Let’s take a look at what this means, in order to recall a politician in Dayton (sec. 13). To collect 25% of the “registered voters” would mean 25,000 signatures- plus, if working with the voter rolls provided by the Board of Elections- an extra 20%- or 30,000 signatures- would be close to, or possibly exceed, the total number of Dayton voters who voted in the last presidential election.

In other words- it’s impossible to recall our elected officials, and nearly impossible to put an issue on the ballot- because 12,000 voters signatures would be impossible to attain. ORC calls for 15% of the last municipal election.

It is for this reason, I plan on asking for immediate injunctive relief in the courts tomorrow, to have the Charter specifications when it comes to signatures and petitions tossed aside and that the city operate under the Ohio Revised Code, a standard that can be met, and does give the citizens the powers guaranteed by the First Amendment, to petition government.

The rules we have that almost guarantee city commissioner for life status to incumbents, and the inability to change the laws by petition must be discarded, and the people of Dayton must have the ability to choose their candidates in a primary election, without the interference of partisan boards of election or obsolete laws created over a century ago.

We have not had a primary in 18 years. That should be proof enough that the process and the application of two different sets of laws, have done nothing but limit ballot access and our rights to free elections.

If the ORC is followed, there will be at least 7 candidates on the ballot- since a woman turned in under 300 signatures- because she had collected them- and thought the citizens voices should still be heard and recorded.

Law should not be an ala carte process for elected and appointed officials to select what best serves their purposes- it should be an absolute standard that is in the best interest of the people

I hope I have the support of the people in this.

DBJ profiles Mayor Leitzell- labels me a detractor (not so)

The story won’t be available to the masses online for another week- but for those of you who subscribe to the Dayton Business Journal you can read the front-page story by Joe Cogliano looking back at Gary Leitzell’s first year as mayor.

Gary likes to call himself a problem solver- and prefers to work discreetly. And while it’s often forgotten, he’s only 1 vote with no veto power on a commission of 5, so it’s not like he’s been handed a very big hammer to rebuild a house that’s been suffering from years of inept leadership and management.

Truth is- Gary’s done a great job- but, we have to remember, the bar was lowered pretty low by our last mayor, and our commission isn’t exactly made up of out-of-the-box, risk-takers. In fact, collectively they are the least ambitious bunch of people we could have “elected.” The number of unanimous decisions is mind-boggling, and when there is any dissent, it’s usually for very wrong reasons (the equal protection ordinance comes to mind- where Lovelace voted no- and Williams abstained).

But, the article was about Gary- and when Cogliano called- I had to ask, why me? He said I was the first (and apparently only) person he thought of  who would go on the record with something contrarian. In Dayton- a lot of people will say all kinds of crap behind your back, but few have the balls to say it on the record- hence, we almost always fail debate 101 and go for the consensus opinion on everything.

I am disappointed with Gary on how little he’s used his blog since getting elected. Not that he’s ever been a really prolific blogger- but, mostly he’s used it since the election to lash out at the DDN (I know you’re thinking- Esrati is one to talk). I had hoped he’d open up the frustrations in City Hall to public discussion online- and solicit more views, hasn’t happened.

When it comes to the push for regionalization- there has been nothing out of his office. Dan Foley seems to be the only elected leader talking about it- and he almost got beat by an Oakwood housewife (I’m saying that out of jest – I respect Jan Kelly and thought she would be a great addition to the County  Commission).

A quiet challenge to the city staff about finding alternatives to raising trash fees- unless we improve service isn’t exactly going to set the world on fire. We’ve seen zero substantive  legislation forwarded from the mayor- or the commission for that matter. The commission is a legislative body – after all.

The role of mayor is a leadership position. That’s why the extra $10K a year. Yet business leaders I’ve spoken to haven’t heard a leader speak. As much as I detest Mike Turner- when he spoke or met with business leaders- they came away feeling optimistic about our future. We need the same from Mayor Leitzell. As I say in the DBJ piece- “Generals wear stars for a reason and they show them for a reason. He’s failed to pull rank and say who is in charge”- even if he was to push the leadership role to the city manager- and put him on point (as it should be).

What should we expect? What would make a difference?

  • Most important starting point: figure out a way to hire replacement police and fire personnel. Either change the rules so we can hire using a rule of 10- or make it possible to hire from other departments. Newark, N.J., just laid off 167 experienced officers– and we can’t hire a single one.
  • Our priority board system is an extra layer of bureaucracy that separates the people from power- it’s time to cut the staff- and divert the money directly to the neighborhoods. If people on our current managerial team can’t each be assigned neighborhoods to mentor and develop as part of their responsibilities- we need new management in City Hall. It’s time to make sure that City Hall makes direct connections with the citizens who are left- so that we can start rebuilding.
  • Leitzell talks about starting small businesses- and our growing immigrant population, but we’ve not actually put a campaign in place to start recruiting inbound migration. Leitzell talks about the Turkish refugees, but have we hired anyone who speaks Turkish to help support a budding community? While we’ve had a growing Spanish-speaking population- the city website doesn’t have a word of Spanish on the front page- why don’t we have a Spanish-speaking ombudsman at least?

Solving problems is mostly a retroactive process- we’ve got a future that needs a visionary. It’s time for Mayor Leitzell to start painting the road map to a brighter future for all. We know he can paint miniatures- let’s see his big picture emerge in 2011.