Let there be light. A video about Dayton’s misplaced priorities

First there was CityWide development- a quasi-government organization that sucked up tax dollars to fix up a house here or there. 30 years later, it’s a fricking bank, building spec buildings that it rents for sub-market rates and hurts local property owners who try to compete. This is the worst of governement.

We don’t vote on who runs CityWide, we barely pay attention to it. And we’ve never asked for our money back- because, well, it’s supposed to come back as the “vibrancy factor”- as in, if we fake looking successful, we’ll be successful. You know people like this- it’s called “fake it till you make it” and if you don’t “make it” – at least you look good doing it.

Then we added the Downtown Dayton Partnership. At first we paid a snake oil salesman a ton of money to “revitalize downtown”- until he ran out of town on a rail, and we started using it as a place to park people we liked and wanted to pay well with no real oversight. We even passed an extra tax levy to fund them. Their major contribution 15 years later- they hire a company from out of town (out of state really) to pay people minimum wage to be “ambassadors” (a fancy name for street sweepers) to keep downtown clean. Their big twice a year parties- Urban Nights, are done with- after mobs of kids of the wrong color decided to come en masse.

Next up, the Port Authority. What’s this? They build buildings for rich private companies, but don’t have to pay property taxes on them, because “we” own them. The idea is, we get income tax from them, so it’s all ok. Can’t give the money to the Dayton Public Schools, because they, well, suck, but- we can give money to city government, because, they do such a great job (at getting themselves and their friends re-elected).

Throw in the Dayton Development Coalition for good measure. They take care of our Congressman (and they used to take care of his now X-wife- remember “Get Midwest”)- because, well, he makes money come back to the companies we built the buildings for that don’t have to pay taxes. You shouldn’t pay attention to these people either- but if you’re wondering why Wright State is in a bunch of trouble, look to former Port Authority and Dayton Development Coalition “leaders” who are right in the middle of it.

So now, we’re supposed to raise the already high Dayton City Income tax to 2.5% because a bunch of the people who either get handouts from government, don’t pay taxes, or have been buying the people in power off for a long time, put a few hundred thousand into a campaign to tell you that you need ANOTHER quasi-government slush fund to pay for pre-school for all.

Let’s be clear. All of Dayton’s eligible four year olds is about 1,500 kids each year. That’s about 1 % of the population. But, Dayton Public Schools, a public system, with lots of oversight, already provides FREE pre-school that’s “5 star rated” to about 400 students and isn’t at capacity. If they had some more money, they could provide transportation which would boost their numbers.

But, no- along comes Dr. Tom Lasley, with his “Learn to Earn” program. He thinks that if he gets every kid into pre-schools, even if they are run by someone in a house, and are “three star” or more, he’ll dramatically change the educational outcomes of Dayton Public Schools.

This is hooey. No amount of pre-school preparation are going to solve the fundamental problems facing Dayton kids. Hunger, homelessness, drug addiction, parents incarcerated, pre-school doesn’t fix that. “Learn to Earn” is a phrase I personally find revolting. I learn because I love learning. To me knowledge and education are a form of worship. It’s how we evolve. It’s not how we earn. This phrase, when applied to our community that is disadvantaged in so many ways, reminds me of “Work sets you free” which was what the Nazi’s put on the gates of hell. I don’t make that comparison lightly.

The four to five million that we will donate to “Learn to Earn” may provide pre-school to another 500 students- but the real bonus is to the staff – including Dr. Lasley, who will spend 20% of it on paying themselves and for overhead. Next up is all the pre-schools that will now be able to get public money for day care- for anyone- not even poor kids, who are already covered by Title 20 money. That’s right, if you live in Dayton, and make $200,000 a year, you can have “Learn to Earn” pay for your child care while you work third shift at Miami Valley Hospital. They didn’t tell you that part.

Of course, Issue 9 is also going to pay for more cops. Let’s talk about “more cops.” Dayton used to have a force of over 500. We are at near our lowest staffing levels ever. But, there are probably 600 cops in Dayton now- the problem is they work for the people who are giving money to this campaign. The hospitals all have private police forces, the universities all have private police forces, MetroParks has a private police force. They don’t answer to anyone. Need a clue how this works Dayton? Ask Samuel Dubose. Any more questions?

And while a small business can’t get their parking lot access restored on North Main Street- because “there is no money available,” the City of Dayton has money for buying back the hole in the ground on Ludlow. And, we always have tax abatement plans for companies where the CEO’s annual salary has two commas in it. GE, CareSource, Emerson, Premier Health etc.

If we were going to raise taxes and wanted to improve our neighborhoods, and do something for all of Dayton- we could invest in free wifi city wide. All of the 15,000 Dayton Public School students will have their own computer next year- but many don’t have internet access anywhere but school. Bridge the digital divide with that money and you open the flood gates to online, self-guided learning for 15,000 kids- instead of preschool for 1500- and guess what, we can even let the taxpayers use it too.

Believe it or not, the United Nations Human Rights Commission declared internet access a fundamental human right back in 2011. No one declared preschool one.

Watch the video. Share the post. Vote no on issue 9.

We can raise taxes when it’s actually for the people, by the people, not another sell out to private enterprise.

Dayton media bias called out

Remember when a guru was going to buy the old Society/Key bank building for half-a-million dollars at auction, and the Dayton Daily News crawled up his legal behind with a microscope, questioning everything about him? I do. I wrote about it: “You must be crazy – to invest in Dayton” It turned out they were partially right, the Commander Swami sold off what he could in the building (including a ton of really nice office furniture for pennies on the dollar) and then neglected to heat the building, allowing pipes to freeze, break and flood parts of the building rendering it worth even less.

But as I pointed out in that article, there were plenty of lawsuits against local “developers” that pretty much go unreported.

A few weeks ago, Larry Ealy turned in enough valid signatures to run as a Democratic nominee for Governor. No less than four articles appeared in the Dayton Daily News about “possible voter fraud” in his petitions. Other candidates have turned in all kinds of wonky petitions- and there is never another word said. In fact, a certain Democratic Party Queen was investigated for forging petitions for a gubernatorial candidate when she was in college and it never made the paper. She’s now sitting in office. What was most interesting was how the paper felt the need to recap an entire story of the questionable prosecution of one of the circulators for conviction of voter fraud years ago– yet, there is no law against a convicted felon circulating petitions in Ohio, nor is there one stopping them from voting (a common misconception).

When I ran for Commission last time, the paper had to make sure that readers knew I had tax liabilities, even though they were small and being taken care of. No mention of one of my opponents failed business ventures with lawsuits galore, or his wife’s vehicular homicide charges. In fact the first time he ran for office, they barely figured out that he didn’t actually live in the city when he filed- and he had to get his property annexed into Dayton to run legally.

Then there is the persecution of Raleigh Trammell, the preacher who used to be able to come and yell at the City Commission at will when he was in his prime. Had I ever raised my voice to the commission like that, I’d have been arrested. Despite the fact that Reverend Trammell had been convicted of felony welfare fraud and served time in the late seventies, no one seemed to question how he was given a contract to administer welfare dollars for years without oversight or why no one else was held responsible? Someone kept signing those checks right? I lost some friends in the local business community for posting this question (three times) “who’s the criminal”  Let’s see, the President of the United States makes $400,000 as the most powerful man in the world, and the CEO of CareSource pays herself $3 million a year with tax dollars that are supposed to go to aid the poor? Oh, but that’s right, without these quasi-governmental contract jobs Dayton would be in bankruptcy just like Detroit right now. Something is wrong when companies that only get tax dollars as income, spend it on lavish CEO pay and hire a bevy of lobbyists.

Nah, the media won’t write about that here.

But, wait, just a week ago, the Dayton Daily news did three pieces questioning the Dayton Development Coalition and their questionable right to be secretive with their financials, despite being a quasi-governmental organization. Never mentioned their hiring of Congressman Turner’s former wife on a grossly inflated no-bid contract to come up with a horrible branding campaign. Nope- not a word. You had to read that here on Esrati.com.

Somehow, local developers have managed to tax the little peoples’ income in townships where income taxes aren’t supposed to be levied. That’s right- if you are a white=collar worker, working for a law firm that has a state legislator on staff and a candidate for Lt. Governor- you don’t pay income tax, but if you work for a retailer and are paid close to minimum wage- you pay income tax. Barely a peep in the media- had to read it here: Only the people who don’t pay off politicians pay income taxes at Austin Road

There is a former local restauranteur who made a real mess of her business and is currently serving prison time and facing deportation when she gets out. They’ve had a field day reporting about this stupid case of insurance fraud. Yet, right across the street, there is another restauranteur who has a history that’s even more fascinating that has never hit the local press. Confidential sources inside the Cox Castle confirm that they’ve known about this story- bur didn’t think it was newsworthy. Note, this restauranteur was financially backed by a local kingmaker who likes to think he’s the man behind the curtain and Dayton’s savior.

As they’ve always said- politics makes strange bedfellows.

If you look at the Dayton Daily News over the last year, hardly a week has gone by without some mention of Drones and UAV’s (unmanned aerial vehicle) as our potential economic savior. I’m sorry, but I built model airplanes as a kid and flew them, but that didn’t make me the next big thing since the Wright Brothers. First, we need to get some basic terminology straight- drones and UAV’s aren’t interchangeable terms. A drone is something that isn’t controlled by a pilot. It just goes up and does its thing. UAV’s can be a drone- or they can be remotely piloted. If it’s not bigger than a lawn chair, and it doesn’t fly over 1.000 odd feet- it’s no different than a model airplane (don’t quote me as an FAA source). Really, if this is our future- we’re all in trouble. Even if it’s big- and flies fast and high like a Predator, this isn’t going to solve the world’s problems- not like renewable energy, greener technology, sustainable agriculture. Nope, this is a line of bunk created to keep a small group of fear-o-crats in high priced suits in jobs. The Dayton Development Coalition has gotten a hall pass for years, despite it being an illegal slush fund for tax dollars being funneled to lobbying activities. And yes, loyal readers have read that here too- including the flow chart that showed how it was a big circle jerk of money for what is left of Dayton’s old boy network.

I apologize for not writing the story about a sitting mayor who is also a Realtor, handling the lease for a county agency, or about the lack of accountability for a woman dying by dog bites, or any of the other stories people have asked me to write over the last month or so. I’d love to do it, but, unfortunately, when you write articles like this and expose local media bias, your ability to earn a living from local business is hampered. I’ve been working my rear-end off trying to make a living so that I can afford the time to hang basketball nets again this summer- and to pay all my taxes on time (wouldn’t want the paper to write me up again for it). I’ve also got to paint my house by June 1st, and because I do it right (my last paint job lasted almost 20 years before it started to peel), I need to work extra hard.

Of course, if I step on too many toes, I may end up an unsolved murder, like that of the father of a former Mayor. Word on the street has it that his father was killed because of a flip-flop on a vote on a landfill. I’m still wondering when Sgt. Maj. North Woodall‘s murder will be solved- or that of Dayton Police Officer Kevin Brame.

When I first ran for mayor over 20 years ago, I had my office windows shot out two nights in a row. That was a message not to keep screwing with the system. Lucky for you, I’m better at sending messages than receiving them, so here we are 20 years later- the “ad guy with nothing to say” (what former DDn editorial page writer Martin Gottlieb said about me when I ran the first time) is still telling it like it is.Thank you for reading- and your continued support. Did I miss much?

Mike Turner, Hypocrite

It wasn’t a problem when Mike Turner’s wife got a no-bid contract from the Dayton Development Coalition to give us the wildly expensive and horribly flawed “Get Midwest” campaign. It also wasn’t a problem that his wife did work under a GSA schedule for the US Army Corps of Engineers while he sat on the House Armed Services committee. Of course, the FEC also ignored his wife’s work for the Home Depot PAC, which was just a nice way to support him, without any FEC oversight.

But now, Turner is crying foul over Russ Gottesman running against him because Gottesman’s business was subsidized by the very same quasi-government slush fund called the Dayton Development Coalition that made Lori Turner a ton of money.

The campaign for U.S. Congressman Mike Turner announced on Friday it has prepared a federal elections complaint against a recently-declared opponent.

Turner’s complaint alleges by spending any time running for office, his Democratic challenger Russ Gottesman would violate the terms of two $300,000 state loans he received from the Dayton Development Coalition to start a pair of businesses.

Gottesman, 36, and his wife own Commuter Advertising and MyEndoBook.com. He is also a part-time faculty member at the University of Dayton, according to his campaign website.

Gottesman said last month he will challenge Turner, a Dayton Republican, in the November 2014 election to represent Ohio’s 10th congressional district. The district covers all of Montgomery and Greene counties and part of Fayette County.

The Turner campaign said the types of loans Gottesman received typically require recipients to dedicate “100 percent of their professional efforts” to running the business that received funding.

The Turner campaign reasons that by running for office, Gottesman must either be spending less than 100 percent of his professional time running his businesses, or he got the DDC to alter the terms of his loan, which would be an illegal in-kind campaign violation.

“Either Mr. Gottesman has chosen to shirk his responsibility to the taxpayers, or he has undertaken an action that could be illegal,” said Turner spokesman Tom Crosson.

In a responding statement, the Gottesman campaign said Turner’s complaint is “false” and if it is filed, the Federal Elections Commission would find in Gottesman’s favor…

Dayton Development Coalition spokeswoman Kristy Rochon confirmed the loans, but declined to answer specific questions about them, saying the terms are confidential, and the DDC does not comment on political races.

via Congressman Turner prepares complaint against campaign opponent | www.mydaytondailynews.com.

I had hoped we were done with Lori Turner and the Turner Effect, now that she has divorced Turner and moved to Indiana, but alas, sadly, thanks to her former husband’s bizarre FEC complaint, we’re back to square one.

Maybe now that Turner doesn’t have his wife to guide him on PR, he’ll realize this was a can of worms that should have stayed in the pantry.

From the “fiscally responsible” Commissioner, Joey Williams?

On the campaign trail, Commissioner Williams talks about how he brought fiscal responsibility to City Hall under his watch.

Sure, that’s why the city spent over $4 million first declaring part of Twin Towers blighted, then paying for appraisals, options and buildings in a 12 acre parcel over 5 years of his watch- with no contract from either the developer or Kroger for them to take possession of the parcel or to build a new Kroger.

We don’t talk about that.

Matt Luongo at the Dayton Revival

Matt Luongo, visionary, hero, concert promoter, at his brainchild, the Downtown Revival in Dayton OH Sept. 8, 2012

But, now, we’re going after Matt Luongo. Who? The guy that actually delivered something- a music festival in Downtown Dayton that bombed financially- but, was a pretty good freshman shot at doing something positive in the city.

Here’s parts of the story from WDTN’s Pam Elliot, who seems to be the only real reporter in town these days:

DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – It was supposed to put Dayton in the national spotlight and generate millions for the city. Instead, it’s left some people singing the blues and chanting “show us the money.” Even taxpayers are out for now.

2 NEWS Investigates obtained a letter in which the president of the limited liability company set up to put on the music festival, “Downtown Revival” reports more than a $200,000 loss and little hope to pay those he owes….

The trail of unpaid services doesn’t stop there. 2 NEWS Investigates found out your tax dollars ended up supporting what was to be a privately funded event. That’s because Downtown Revival, LLC hasn’t paid the City of Dayton either, and the city leaders who agreed to a contract with the company don’t seem to know where your money is.

When Mayor Gary Leitzell’s assistant told us he wouldn’t be talking about it, we approached the mayor at City Hall. He said he’d talk with us when he looked at the details. A week later, there was still no word from the mayor.

City Commissioner Nan Whaley did agree to an interview. “We’ll certainly try to recoup the money paid to the city for those efforts. We recognize, too, that Matt’s trying to do something, trying to support that effort but we’ll go after the money as well,” she told 2 NEWS.

The money amounts to more than $60,000 for help from police, fire, and public works. Our public records request produced only one check to the City of Dayton, that being for $10,000 dated September 7, 2012.

The City’s public information officer was reluctant to comment.

Pam Elliot : So is it in the legal department now?

Tom Biedenharn: No. It doesn’t necessarily have to go to the legal department.

Elliot: So what is the process?

Biedenharn: We work with the vendor.

Elliot: Is Matt Luongo or Downtown Revival, LLC coming forward with money?

Biedenharn: We are working with him.

Elliot: Are you confident you’ll get the money?

Biedenharn: Sure. Sure.

But 2 NEWS Investigates doesn’t know why the city is so sure it will get paid. Rice and Nye received an identical letter this year from Matt Luongo, President, Downtown Revival, LLC, which reads, “We will not have assets sufficient to satisfy any of our remaining liabilities. On behalf of Downtown Revival, I offer my sincerest apologies.”

The letter directs them to take their questions to Tom Whalen, attorney for Downtown Revival.

We did, but got no answers….

The city says the city manager’s office has been in conversations with Luongo to work out repayment, but if that doesn’t work, they’ll send the matter to the Finance Department’s collection program.

via Big dollars owed City and vendors | 2 NEWS Investigates.

For those who have no clue how Luongo got to do what he did, you might want to look at where he worked previous to his turn in the sun at the community’s expense. His father, former CEO of the Berry Company, opened doors for him- at the Dayton Development Coalition and then UD.

Director of Development, University Initiatives
University of Dayton
December 2009 – August 2011 (1 year 9 months)

Dayton Development Coalition
Director, Business Recruitment
2005 – 2009 (4 years)

Somehow, someone looked past the facts that he had no experience in concert promotion, wasn’t signing for anything personally, and had no personal assets on the line.

That’s fiscal responsibility Dayton Style, thanks to Commissioner Williams. As to Ms. Whaley, a local businessman told me she had no clue what an LLC was. Well, maybe now she does.

But seriously, folks, $200K is about what we pay Steve Budd at Citywide a year, it’s about what the Dayton Development Coalition spent on their annual meeting a few years ago where they brought in a Las Vegas artist to do a painting of John Lennon while spinning the canvas and giving away t-shirts in plastic tubes. This is small fry theft, but I’m sure Matt Luongo will be hung out the way Raleigh Trammell was too- while letting the big crooks walk.

(and btw- there are links that I could put all through this post- from old posts on Esrati.com talking about a lot of these things- but, that would take time- and I’ve got work to do. Wayne Ave. Kroger has its own category, search for Trammell, Luongo, Dayton Revival, etc.)

First Four Festival canceled for 2013

Logo for the First Four Festival in Dayton for 2012 for the NCAA March Madness

Logo for the First Four 2012 festival

A cryptic email came out today about the cancellation of the big party in the Oregon District for the NCAA first four that kicks off March Madness.

Oregon business owners / property owners and interested parties of the Oregon District:
Regarding the First Four Festival:
The Local Organizing Committee has been working with the NCAA to produce events in the region surrounding First Four and Selection Sunday.  The NCAA is not allowing local sponsorships for public events (like the First Four Festival) which has impacted the LOC’s plans for the First Four Festival this year.   The Local Organizing Committee has reached an agreement with the NCAA to not have a First Four Festival this year.The NCAA team is primarily an all-new group, different from the folks that were involved from NCAA last year; however, the LOC is committed to working with them for next year’s Festival.
Just a reminder however…Dayton has an entire week of basketball for First Four, 2nd and 3rd rounds this year.  And, the arena has been sold out for the First Four which strengthens Dayton’s ability to secure the games beyond 2015 (we have them through 2014).  This year, there will be 4 days of games, 16 teams, 10 nationally televised games from UD Arena and an entire week to showcase Dayton to visitors.
I know that you, like the rest of us, are disappointed there won’t be a First Four Festival this year, but we are working on some other events in Oregon that will promote our businesses to visitors and Dayton citizens alike. Stay tuned for more information on these activities!  If you have any additional questions, please contact JP Nauseef, First Four LOC Chairman.
Mike Martin, President
Oregon District Business Association
JP Nauseef, was the former CEO of the Dayton Development Coalition before being eased out after the public found out they had hired Congressman Turner’s wife to do a campaign on a no-bid contract. Since then, he’s been busy working in his own consulting firm that seems to have the backing of the Mathile Family.
While it’s unclear exactly how much was spent on this party last year- and by whom, the same cast of characters were involved, with the graphics and advertising handled by Real Art (they were subcontracted for much of Ms. Turner’s “Get Midwest” campaign). I did have the opportunity to meet with some graduating UD seniors around May- and they said that that this party was the first time they’d ever been to the Oregon District.
Was there a bid package published for the job of “Local Organizing Committee” last year? It might be interesting to do a little digging on this.
The good news is that the basketball tournament is still coming to town, and that tickets are already sold out.

The ruse of representation

Why would elected officials hire a lobbyist? Isn’t that what we elect them to do? Represent us?

The city of Dayton spends money on lobbyists, directly, and indirectly via funding to organizations like the Dayton Development Coalition. In all my years of following the Dayton City Commission, I don’t recall them having meetings with state representatives, state senators, the governor, our congressmen, where they have a discussion about the issues that they are our first line of government on. Sure, they go hob-nob at events, and every once in a while they will talk one-on-one with these people at higher levels, but other than a joint meeting with County Commission or the School Board, I’ve never seen them invite Congressman Turner back to his old haunt for a discussion of the issues. Of course, until just this election cycle, they would have had to invite John Boehner as well, since Dayton used to be split in two congressional districts (conveniently, the line was at Mike Turner’s old back fence on Huffman).

Can you imagine the military working like this? Where the platoon sergeants never met with the company commander? Or the company commander never met with the battalion commander, etc? If the politicians are truly our representatives, they should be meeting with other representatives for a coordinated plan of attack.

Unfortunately, due to our insane system of holding auctions instead of elections, our elected officials are more likely to meet with donors to their campaigns than with constituents. And lobbyists work for who pays them, not who elected them, since they never had to suffer the humiliation of having to panhandle for campaign funds.

This even boils down to within our city. When was the last time you saw the city commission meet with all the neighborhood presidents for a discussion of goals and strategies? Instead, we had the elected priority board system, but, they didn’t meet directly with the commission or the city manager either. All these disconnects are indications of the ruse of representation- if we were truly electing representatives, they’d all be meeting together at least a few times a year to discuss how they could best represent us.

Where are the public forums, hosted by our “leaders” to discuss our plans and purpose? The three minute stand at the podium is regarded by most on the Dayton City Commission as an annoyance. Where is the formalized process of taking citizen issues raised to the commission and issuing an official response to all? Shouldn’t the first order of business each week be a status update on actions taken by the city manager to resolve the citizens’ issues? On the web- we use a software solution “help desk” that tracks issues through resolution- where is the City Commissions help desk?

I started attending City Commission meetings because I went to my elected leaders over an issue that I thought was a farce: the city order to remove new garage doors from my house because they were vinyl imitating wood grain in a historic district. I was met with blank stares and very little feedback. I was punished for fixing up a dump of a house that I bought for $14,500 after it had been on the market for 2 years and dropped in asking price by a third. Maybe, just maybe, had we had representation that listened and acted in a structured, sensible system that utilized the entire “chain of command” we’d have a government that better represented all of us.

When elected to the Dayton City Commission this November, I assure you that you will have at least one voice that believes that it’s my job to represent the voters, all the way to the top, not just where the bucks flow. If this sounds like the kind of elected representative you want, please consider donating to my humble campaign that’s limiting to $10K in donations.

PTAC needs defib STAT

With the shutting down of EMTEC the Southwest Ohio office of PTAC (which serves 33 counties) is about to flatline. If the government acronyms mean nothing to you, don’t worry, you’re not alone. Why you should care is another matter.

EMTEC was the “Edison Materials Technology Center” or if you read their site:

…is a non-profit, member based organization that develops technology and business strategies, sponsors and manages collaborative technology projects and programs, and provides technology and business-based assistance that facilitate the commercialization of our member companies’ new technology.

EMTEC’s focus is on products and technologies in Advanced Materials, Advanced Energy, and Instruments, Controls, and Electronics with a commitment to our mission of accelerating technology to market.

With over 25 years’ experience, EMTEC provides technical coordination, business assistance, and commercialization support to Ohio’s industry, universities, and government labs to strengthen Ohio’s industrial competitiveness in advanced energy, instruments controls, and electronics, automotive, metals and castings, nanomaterials, composites, biomaterials, and other advanced materials markets.

via Edison Materials Technology Center (EMTEC).

They had offices in Research Park that were always very quiet, with people working in little offices. I always marveled at the display in one of the small fishbowl conference rooms of “technology” they had assisted with- including a mockup of a fuel cell from UltraCell (a company that proved to be a mirage of smoke and mirrors).

But, they were the “sponsoring host” to our PTAC- or Procurement and Technical Assistance Center- an organization that helps businesses register and prepare to do business with the federal government- sponsored by the Defense Logistics Agency.

Read the boilerplate govspeak from the site:

The DoD Procurement Technical Assistance Cooperative Agreement Program was established by Congress in 1985. The purpose of the program is to generate employment and to improve the general economy of a locality by assisting business firms in obtaining and performing under federal, state, and local government contracts.

The Defense Logistics Agency, on behalf of the Secretary of Defense, administers the DoD PTAP.

The Program is funded through a cost-sharing Cooperative Agreement with the Department of Defense to establish Procurement Technical Assistance Centers (PTACs), who are charged with assisting businesses in learning how to do business with federal, state, and local governments.

PTA Centers are a local resource available at no or nominal cost that can provide assistance to business firms in marketing their products and services. They offer training to businesses on how to research and bid on contracts, assist with registration requirements, provide bid-matching services, and assist with pre and post contracting issues.

via Procurement Technical Assistance Cooperative Agreement Program.

Now if you are scratching your head asking isn’t this what the Small Business Administration is supposed to do, you probably aren’t alone. However, since doing business with government is nothing like doing business in the public sector- it might make a little sense.

If you’ve never heard of CCR, ORCA, MPIN, TPIN, the FAR, FBO, or a GSA Schedule consider yourself lucky. We’ve built an entire subculture of complexity around doing business with the government. Instead of simplifying and streamlining – we created a whole new order of bureaucracy to “help” you navigate it. This is where PTAC comes in. They provide assistance and guidance in making sure you’ve filled out every possible form and met requirements to sell widgets to the government and do business with large “prime contractors” who already do business with government. And if you can stomach it all- and have the time and money to jump through all the hoops- they come in quite handy.

As a founder of VOB108 (now called VOB Ohio), a group of Veteran Owned Businesses, PTAC supported our group and our efforts to provide assistance to vets in business and wanting to re-enter the workforce- helping us find members and providing meeting spaces and help spreading our group’s message. Without them, our organization wouldn’t be where it is today- running a Vetrepreneurs Academy for over 45 vets to help them start and refine their own businesses.

And while the real answer may be that we just need to simplify our government contracting pipeline, so that proposals I make to the government are only 6 pages like I do to my clients, instead of mini-books of 150 pages or more, in the immediate short run, the loss of the PTAC services to Southwest Ohio could hurt our competitiveness.

As of next Friday, June 29, PTAC will also die with EMTEC. Possible new “hosts” or “sponsors” that would make sense are the Dayton Development Coalition (finally giving them a real reason for existing other than as high-priced quasi-governmental lobbyists), the Entrepreneurs Center, UDRI, or even sponsorship by a large government prime contractor like GE- that should feel the need to give something back to the community after getting such a big tax break for their new offices on South Patterson Boulevard.

Then again, we could realize that our entire process of government contracting is far from “free markets at work” and we could just shut down the entire PTAC program and tacitly acknowledge that the only real guarantee of government deals is by making large donations to your congressman and be done with it. Because as far as I have witnessed, that’s the best way to land a government contract.

 

Questions for A.J. Wagner- our future mayor

The twitter account for WagnerForMayor has been claimed by "The Fake AJ Wagner"

If you want people to follow your account, you should own it first

Last night I let the community know about A.J. Wagner’s new Wagner for Mayor website. One of my readers has already claimed the twitter account that the Washington. D,C,. developers failed to claim, despite telling the world to follow @WagnerforMayor

His fundraising button to ActBlue doesn’t work yet either. And, the brilliant D.C. developer also failed to remove the “Hello World” post as well. The site does look real “purdy” though.

AJ Wagner for Mayor site designed by DC firm Code and Politics

I believe in Dayton, but I go to DC for my site

Considering Wagner claims all over his site that he “believes in Dayton” he chose not to use any number of local firms that can develop a site and a brand and headed to Washington, D.C., to hire “Code and Politics” So far he has no content under “The Issues” and in his grand introduction which is written in that wonderful third-person voice (especially odd for a blog post) the most telling part is that you can’t comment. Does A.J. want to have a conversation with the people of Dayton or not? Since you can’t do anything but friend him on Facebook and sign up for a newsletter, I thought I’d open the discussion about A.J.’s campaign here on Esrati.com where the people who choose to be well informed about Dayton politics and graft come daily.

I’ve used the ordered list with numbers for discussion only, not as a rank of importance.

  1. You’ve been writing a column in the Dayton City Paper (DCP), now that you are a political candidate, will you give that up, or will you get the DCP to give your opposition equal space?
  2. Do you plan on writing your own posts on your blog, or continue to have some strange ghostwriter do it in a third person like our Republican congressman and former Mayor, Mike Turner? And if you are interested in learning how to use this technology, may I recommend the excellent seminar on using WordPress, www.websitetology.com
  3. Will you at some point allow comments? Will they post immediately like on esrati.com or will you hold them for moderation?
  4. As a judge, you recused yourself from all death penalty cases, claiming your Catholic faith and personal moral constructs put you at odds with the law (citation needed, but take my word for it- or A.J. can respond in comments). Are there any issues in the city that your faith and constructs might put you at odds with the law- for example, the Catholic church isn’t a fan of abortion, birth control, gay marriage, domestic partner registries, etc.?
  5. The current city charter requires 500 signatures of registered voters to get on the ballot and to have the petitions notarized. This is a bit odd, since you only need 50 signatures to run for Congress. It has stopped many candidates from getting on the ballot due to technicalities or the validity of signatures (which have to be gathered in very cold weather). The state standard is also 50 signatures. Will you change this?
  6. Also, the charter requirements for citizens to put a charter change on the ballot and the recall process both are measured by percentages of registered voters- not by a percentage of actual voters in an election (the standard that’s used throughout the state). According to the census, Dayton has 109,000 people of voting age. If you believe the 100,000  count of registered voters at the Board of Elections we have 93% of adults are qualified to sign petitions. Yet petitions routinely have at least 30% of the signatures invalidated. Will you fix this?
  7. What is A,J, Wagner’s plan for the priority board system that was implemented in the ’70’s and decimated in the last ten years?
  8. On your site you talk about improving educational opportunities. To quote Mike Turner in his first mayoral race when I was running against him and talked about the schools, “if you want to talk about the schools you should be running for school board.” Where is the money coming from to better fund pre-K education and full-day kindergartens? And where is the money coming from to fund a program “for all those who qualify and apply themselves, through a college diploma paid for by private and public benefactors” ala the “Kalamazoo promise” We can be promised the world by any politician, we want to know specifics on how you will achieve it.
  9. You backed Rhine McLin in the past and Richard Clay Dixon. Considering that neither of them was a  stellar, ground breaking mayor- what will make you different? Can you point out any paradigm shifts you implemented as auditor or as a judge that supports your ability to do any “outside the box” thinking?
  10. We’ve seen the City Commission get mired up in national politics by addressing things that are outside the purview of city government – an assault weapons ban, a handgun registry, anti-predatory lending laws, living wage rules which while all good and fine for posturing, drained city resources and took the eye off the ball of doing the basic jobs that our city has been failing to do (indicated by the mass exodus of residents over the last 25 years). Are you for or against these kinds of grandstands- and how do you feel about each of them in retrospect (every one of them has cost the taxpayers plenty).
  11. Despite my protest and arrest over the subject of illegal “work sessions” of the City Commission back in 1996, the charter clearly specifies only one official meeting of the commission to conduct business at a set time and place, these have continued to be held. Will you stop this practice or continue it?
  12. The rules on public speaking at City Commission have become pretty draconian over the last 20 years, will you change the tenor of how citizens are received at the legal meeting?
  13. Over the last 20 years, we’ve seen the growth of the “Department of Economic Development” in the city, the county and the state. The main function of this department seems to be to hand out tax breaks or our tax dollars to private companies. What is your position on this?
  14. The Downtown Dayton Partnership has been funded for a number of years with an additional tax on downtown property owners. Considering the huge loss of downtown jobs, is it time to end the “Special Improvement District”?
  15. The city has given money for years to the Dayton Development Coalition which is supposed to serve as a regional Economic development department, but instead seems to have become a federal lobbying group. The city has also paid a lobbyist at times with tax dollars. Will you stop this practice and instead be our voice to lobby to our other elected officials?
  16. What are your specific criticisms of our current mayor? How has Gary Leitzell failed the citizens of Dayton in your opinion. I know this question is difficult for a nice guy like you, but, some would  point out he’s only one vote of five, and you’ve been a supporter of the other four commissioners who have probably gotten in his way. Comment?
  17. As a follow up question to #16, the inside joke about the mayor’s job is that your only qualification is that you have to be able to count to three. Which two commissioners will you engage and count on to make your mark?
  18. If I crawled though your campaign finance reports- who would I find as your major donors? You’ve run for other offices including Ohio Supreme Court. Are there any donors who might embarrass you? Do you have any opinion on campaign finance reform? Gary Leitzell ran his campaign with a sixth of what Rhine McLin spent- are you willing to agree to limits if your opposition does?
  19. You retired as judge before your term was up. Why should we elect a quitter? If you do it again, it will cost the taxpayers money for a special election- will you promise to personally guarantee the costs of a special election if elected? Also, if you are already receiving a state pension, will you forgo it while serving as mayor if you win? And, how will a four-year term as mayor affect your pension- is this part of why you are running – to add years? If the anti-spiking law goes into effect being mayor may actually lower your average pay and could decrease your pension- are you OK with that?
  20. I admit, I was impressed when you planted a flag in your yard for every dead US soldier in Iraq and Afghanistan as a reminder to us of the real cost of war. I understand that removing thousands of flags and replanting them every time you had to mow became an issue. While symbolism is wonderful- what else did you actively do to protest?
  21. I’ve previously posted an attack on your practice of housing young UD co-eds in your home– at one point the voter rolls had as many as 5 women, not related to you, residing in your home. What changes to zoning and building codes will you push as mayor? Do you support Single Room Occupancy, dropping the requirements for parking with development in built locations, or are there other ideas you have in this area?
  22. Last question- call it catch 22. Our city has a weak-mayor system. We’re supposed to have a professional city manager lead us, yet politicians with big egos and small brains have minimized our manager’s voice over the years. While Tim Riordan has done an amazing job at keeping the city out of financial folly, he’s not been a particularly visible or engaged leader. Who will you replace him with? Or will you try to move us away from the city manager form of government?

To be fair to Judge Wagner, and to other candidates, this is more than enough to keep him busy writing his blog for the next month. We’re still waiting to see who else throws their hat in the ring for leader of the pack.

In the meantime- make sure you follow @Wagnerformayor for the latest updates. I’m sure you’ll get more answers from the Fake AJ Wagner than you will from the real one.

If any of my readers want to pose questions for “The Future Mayor of Dayton” comments are open and welcome by me- the future…. of Dayton.

Only the people who don’t pay off politicians pay income taxes at Austin Road

Bruce Langos sells 24,751 shares of TDC on 02/10/2012 at an average price of $62.09 a share.

via Feb. 14, 2012 – TERADATA CORP (TDC) COO Bruce Langos sells 24,751 Shares.

that’s $1,536,789 in income- or $34,578 in taxes at 2.25%  In 2008 (last date I could quickly find for his compensation) he earned:

Total Compensation $1,242,916.00

via Bruce Langos Profile – Forbes.com.

that’s another $27,966 in income tax that he’d have to pay if he was subject to the same income tax that the people who work at Kohl’s next door are subject to under the connived rules created by the JEDD- or “Joint Economic Development District”- in the name of “economic development.”

Put the two together and there goes $62,554 in taxes that could be funding police officers, water treatment plants, regional dispatch centers. The income taxes being skipped by excluding just one person in Teradata are greater than the average total wages of all those “jobs” we created at Kohl’s, Menards, Walmart and other major corporations who have been subsidized by this boondoggle of massive proportions at Austin Landing.

boundaries recently set in the Austin Landing district exclude workers like RG Properties President Randy Gunlock who works from one of the office buildings excluded from the district and lives in nearby Clearcreek Twp. The district also excludes office workers living in the development’s residential village, but construction workers are to be taxed.

(James Durham, a law professor at University of Dayton) Durham acknowledged excluding RG itself and other tenants, such as Teradata, failed to capitalize on taxation of the higher wages earned and larger staffs working in the office buildings.

“On the whole, they are going to be paid more. It’s certainly imperfect,” he said.

via Townships use economic development district funds to spur growth.

Teradata was part of NCR- and those jobs were in Dayton, with employees paying the 2.25% income tax. The company was spun off- and despite having revenues in the billions, the residents of Montgomery County have subsidized this company’s moves not just once, but twice in the last 5 years. Moving them first to a custom built HQ (Oberer Companies)  in Miami Township and then moving them half a mile down the road to a new one, constructed by RG Properties.

I’m not picking on Bruce only, his whole company is benefiting, but Bruce was also the Chair of the Dayton Development Coalition which advocates for corporate welfare instead of the health of the community. It’s also easier to find his compensation.

Another tenant of the 1% tax free while the 99% pay tax zone, is the law firm of Thompson Hine. They too used to be in downtown Dayton and paid the 2.25% income tax. They left for the shiny new oasis of Austin Road- leaving their offices in the former Mead Tower and helping force that building into financial straights. This triggered Key Bank to move across the street, abandoning their building which sold for $500K to a mysterious guru who calls himself “Commander.”

Thompson Hine’s lawyers won’t have to pay income tax either, thanks to the “all animals are equal, but some are more equal than others” rule that somehow snuck on the books. Of course, the lawyers of Thompson Hine pay a different tax- the “campaign tax” as I call it- handing out huge donations to federal candidates.

Top Contributor to Member (5 results)

  • Thompson Hine LLP to Jean Schmidt (R) in 2012
  • Thompson Hine LLP to Rob Portman (R) in 2012
  • Thompson Hine LLP to Sherrod Brown (D) in 2012
  • Thompson Hine LLP to Albert R. Wynn (D) in 2004
  • Thompson Hine LLP to Steve Chabot (R) in 2004

Top Contributor to Candidate (4 results)

  • Thompson Hine LLP to Ohio District 10 candidates in 2012
  • Thompson Hine LLP to Ohio Senate candidates in 2012
  • Thompson Hine LLP to Ohio Senate candidates in 2010
  • Thompson Hine LLP to Ohio District 7 candidates in 2008

via OpenSecrets.org Search.

So if you have money to donate to political candidates you get a hall pass on income taxes? Note, OH-10 democratic candidate Sharen Neuhardt is one of the Thompson Hine lawyers who won’t be paying a Montgomery County income tax- and she’s also a prime recipient of donations from her firm.

Of course, Austin Landing is the pet project of local developer Randy Gunlock who is also not going to have to pay income taxes in his new development. His company, RG Properties is also excluded. Randy does OK for himself and is a top donor as well to political campaigns giving tens of thousands of dollars between him, his wife, his kids- to candidates like Congressman Mike Turner and the Republican National Committee. When you’ve got an indoor full size hockey rink in your backyard, complete with a Zamboni, the idea of having to pay income taxes like a checkout person at Kohl’s must be really repulsive.

His home, a 5 bedroom, 15,879 sq feet, is appraised at just under $2 million.His annual property tax bill is $30,000 of about what someone working at Kohl’s makes. He pays no income tax, they pay 2.25%

The taxpayers have poured over $150 million into the interchange and improvements at Austin Road, the residents of Miami Township have gotten stuck for the airfare on Randy’s private jet when he flew two trustees up to Michigan to look at a hockey arena. The Township residents have already been hit up for $24 million to help finance Mr. Gunlock’s private tax haven for the wealthy by being asked to float bonds, apply for development grants and transportation tax dollars. All so that the wealthy can work in brand new office buildings and pay Mr. Gunlock rent- while getting to evade income taxes that were supporting existing infrastructure in Dayton. Recently another million dollar cost overrun was paid without investigation.

This is the giant sucking sound of the lifeblood of Dayton’s core. The saddest thing is it’s being financed by the very people who can least afford it, and have the least influence in changing political outcomes, the working poor.

Of course, the county officials are talking out of both sides of their mouths- the original reason for all this investment according to another article claiming the development is worth $400 million was to generate income taxes:

“We’ve got our flag in the ground,” said Steve Stanley, executive director of the Montgomery County Transportation Improvement District, the entity which helped fund the interchange, roads and other infrastructure underlying the development.

Income taxes from employees working in the area will go to the county, Miamisburg, Miami Twp. and Springboro. Sales tax will go the county.

“Sales tax is one piece. Income tax is another piece. The idea is to bring income tax from outside the region into this area,” said Todd Duplain, director of development for Mills Development.

via Austin development part of over $400M in projects off interchange.

We just didn’t know at the time that the richest incomes wouldn’t be contributing.

 

 

 

Aborted at three and a half, the $2.2 billion C-27J

Photo of USAF C-27J

The C-27J

If you wonder how our military budget is the largest in the world, it’s because politicians get involved protecting their babies. In the world of military programs all politicians are decidedly pro-life if they have a piece of it in their state.

The C-27 is an attempt at a smaller version of the venerable C-130 Hercules which has been one of the most reliable  aircraft in our arsenal. When comparing the two– it appears that there are marginal differences where the C-27 is more useful than a C-130. At this point, the $2.2 billion purchase contract is probably going away. You probably can guesstimate that to even get to the point of the contract- the U.S. spent at least $2 billion agonizing over the plan- which started in 1995 with the contract awarded in 2007 for 78 planes.

We won World War II in about the number of years that we actually had the plane before it was cancelled. During that time we not only from scratch came up with planes like the B-29 Superfortress, the P-61 Black Widow and the P-51 Mustang. We built thousands of planes and won the war. Now, we can barely deploy a plane in 20 years.

From the Dayton Daily News- remarking on how WPAFB has come through the  budget-cutting process “relatively unscathed” we even quote a taxpayer-supported illegal  lobbyist, referred to as “Michael Gessel, a Washington-based vice president of the Dayton Development Coalition” as a reliable source:

President Obama’s 2013 defense budget, released on Monday, appears to leave Wright-Patterson Air Force Base relatively unscathed as the administration gets started on $487 billion in defense spending cuts over the next 10 years….

“From what we’ve seen of the budget documents released so far, Wright-Patterson seems to be facing level funding in the next fiscal year, under the president’s budget,” said Michael Gessel, a Washington-based vice president of the Dayton Development Coalition. “Of course, Congress can and does change some of these numbers.”…

Republicans have said they think Obama’s defense-spending reductions will undermine the military and its current capability to fight more than one war at once. Obama has said his goal is to build a smaller, more agile and technologically capable military ready for future warfare.

Still, Congress required the $487 billion in defense spending cuts over a decade, as part of the Budget Control Act enacted in 2011….

House Speaker John Boehner, R-West Chester, said Monday that the overall budget — not just the defense portion — reflects Obama’s “failed policies.”

“Our nation needs Washington to demonstrate some courage with a budget that honestly addresses the near- and long-term challenges we face,” Boehner said. “Instead, the president offered a collection of rehashes, gimmicks and tax increases that will make our economy worse.”…

The administration also proposed to cancel the C-27J, a twin-engine turboprop cargo plane that the Defense Department had said in 2007 would provide a needed airlifter for both the Air Force and the Army. Because the Ohio Air National Guard’s Mansfield base is home to C-27Js, Ohio politicians are concerned about the future of that base.

via Wright-Patterson relatively unscathed in Obama defense budget.

A squadron, btw, is typically 4 planes. To make matters worse, the C-27J is yet another attempt to solve a general’s wet dream of having a cargo plane be a helicopter. The V-22 Osprey fits this category- and has cost U.S. taxpayers billions and too many Marines their lives. That program also started at $2.2 billion and now has run over $27 billion and estimates call for at least that amount again to complete the program.

We could have bought a lot of semi-disposable helicopters instead. The venerable Bell Huey which served as a work horse in Vietnam cost about $5 million each, the cost of the new version, the Sikorsky Blackhawk, $6.4 million each. Each C-27j is $53 million for comparison’s sake. We used to just drop combat engineers in places to build big enough airfields when we needed a plane to land, now apparently, we still seem to think a different plane is the answer.

War is no longer like chess. It’s not waged symmetrically. It took 20 people to hijack four civilian airliners to start the current wars, not billion-dollar bombers or multi-million-dollar cargo planes. The new world order isn’t going to be maintained by a bigger military hammer, but through smaller, unconventional forces trained in special operations. Diplomacy isn’t improved by bombs and bullets, but by smarter use of all of our resources to build peaceful relationships.

Al-Qaeda won’t go away because we have a C-27, or a V-22, it will go away when people across the planet hate someone else worse than America, or they become hated more than us by the people around them.

If we want to solve the budget problems, we need to stop trying to turn all our chess pieces into Queens at a cost-is-no-object price tag and learn to use what we have available more efficiently.

The C-27 program is doomed. Anyone talking about saving it, or putting more money into the short takeoff and landing cargo plane category should have their heads examined. The answer isn’t a different plane, it’s either a helicopter or a longer, better runway- live with it.

When you read the paper and see politicians and lobbyists defending our defense spending, it’s your duty to do your homework, because, our politicians are all dependent on donations from these defense contractors. That’s why I’m running for Congress and work so hard trying to deliver the facts you need to make a good decision.

The next question is why we need an air wing in Mansfield in the first place? It’s a transport squadron right? Shouldn’t they be able to fly planes from WPAFB to Mansfield to pick up the troops for drill weekend in their C-130’s and hold drill here?

[Note: go look at any other candidate’s website for the OH-10 including Congressman Turner for a position on this issue]

UPDATE

I wrote this article on Feb 14, 2012, on Feb 18, the Dayton Daily News started promoting a Sunday article by John Nolan about “Mission Aborted” featuring the C-27J debacle, story not available online, without giving me credit for either the headline, or the questioning of this military program that Congressman Turner voted for. Here is the ad they ran in the print edition yesterday

Dayton Daily News promo ad for upcoming article mirroing this post

"Missions Aborted" - the word "aborted" came from somewhere.