The big problem is we’re getting smaller.

Population loss isn’t the same as weight loss. Putting people back in your community isn’t easy. And, believe it or not- just like love- you can’t buy them either.

This is our fundamental problem in Dayton (the big D- not just the city proper). Since our politicians are so focused on income (both the tax kind and the political donation kind)- they fail to understand that everything they do must be evaluated by what is right for the “Greater Good.”

Using “The Greene” as an example- how did the $15+ million in incentives that Greene County and Beavercreek forked over work out? Sure, they got a bump in jobs- that pay income tax, and there are more property taxes coming in thanks to the improvements, and last but not least- sales tax collections went up. Great, fantastic, amazing.

Until you realize that since the population hasn’t grown one iota in the area in the last 10 years, what we just did was subsidize one developer while leaving the last one (that would be the Mall at Fairfield Commons) with less. Now, we’re just talking about the big boys here. Let’s look at what this does to the small fry.

We’ve had many local independent restaurants close up shop. We’ve had higher vacancy rates in other retail locations. Kettering has had to stretch it’s police and fire to deal with problems that it didn’t have before, and Dayton has lost some more office tenants to the new buildings (Robbins & Meyers HQ for one).

This is an example of government redistributing wealth- instead of building it. We need more people in the region, we need more interest in the creation of jobs, not the moving of them. We need to find a competitive advantage and maximize it, or we’ll just continue rearranging deck chairs on a ship that’s not just sinking- it’s shrinking at the same time.

Sportsplex is a big idea. Cheap, bountiful water is a big advantage. Low cost of doing business is a draw. Walkable communities are a big plus as gas prices rise. Simplified business requirements makes things easier to start and run a business. Fair tax systems (and not the “Fair Tax” plan) help keep things moving (subsidizing the Cheesecake factory while ignoring Dominics etc.).

Somehow, we have to start evaluating every tax expenditure based on the idea of what will it do to make the area so attractive to business and people so that they won’t want tax breaks- but will be thinking they are getting a great deal?

Why would people want to live in LA and fight traffic, live in NYC and pay crazy rent for a closet to live in, when they could be in Dayton? Figure that out, focus on it, and before long- you won’t be handing out money with every building permit- and we’ll be getting real net growth, not redistributed wealth.


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40 Responses

  1. Sammy76 April 6, 2008 / 8:55 am
    Absolutely. Unfortunately, this area plays an approximately zero-sum game. Not only is population growth at about 0, so is income growth and job growth. Thus, anything growth that occurs effectively removes growth somewhere else.

    I chuckled at the front page of DDN the other day — they were excited about new tenants downtown (Key Bank being the leader of the story). And I am glad that the businesses they listed are confident enough in downtown to be willing to make the investment to move. HOWEVER, all the moves were from one part of downtown to another. No one from the suburbs moving into the city, no new startups, no one moving in from out of state. All that was happening was a reshuffling of exisiting tenants and jobs.

    Suburban sprawl has the exact same effect. So Springboro and Bellbrook are todays “hot” suburbs. All they are doing is moving people from Centerville, Kettering and Beavercreek, yesterday’s “hot” suburbs. Zero sum games are painful because you can’t have a winner without a loser.

  2. Jeff April 6, 2008 / 10:03 am
    “HOWEVER, all the moves were from one part of downtown to another.”

    In the case of Keybank it was across the street, but yeah, the point is still a valid one.

    I’m thinking the number to look at is household formation rate rather than population growth. A “household” (i.e. “Mom, Dad, Bud, & Sis”)is looking for a place to live, rent or own, so if there are new households being formed every year there will be some housing demand.

    The issue with retail and commercial developement would be different, though.

  3. J.R. Locke April 6, 2008 / 8:28 pm
    Same old song and dance in America. Move away from the people you don’t like, the money and business follows with them leaving a scorched earth of urban decay behind.

    What I always fail to understand how we view new things as progress even though they are often inferior to the previous.

  4. Greg Hunter April 7, 2008 / 7:19 am
    Yes Mr. Locke, divide and conquer using economic, political and military force. Weird that people cannot see these policies or their own actions for what they are.
  5. Drexel Dave April 7, 2008 / 10:11 am
    Why do people view “new” as better?

    Watched television lately? New is worshiped as deity 24/7.

    And speaking of divide and conquer – has anyone said anything about the Section 8 stampede downtown last week? Key word in the news “residents will be able to use them ANYWHERE in Montgomery County.”

    And you folks thought we heard a lot of bitching and moaning from Oakwood residents.

    Just wait.

  6. Bruce Kettelle April 7, 2008 / 11:18 am
    “residents will be able to use them ANYWHERE in Montgomery County.”

    Drexel Dave – True but… They are only good for renting properties where the owners have signed up for the program…

  7. Drexel Dave April 7, 2008 / 11:48 am
    There will be plenty of willing landlords who will sign up for guaranteed monthly payments – i.e. never a late payment or someone skipping out.
  8. Shannon April 7, 2008 / 12:49 pm
    This still does not protect the landlords from damage caused by the section 8 renters, but as Drexel Dave said, “there will be plenty willing” . . to take that chance!
  9. Jeff April 7, 2008 / 3:57 pm
    I’m interested in seeing if the voucher housing is going to cluster in certain suburbs or neighborhoods.

    In Cincinnati’s case they clustered in the Price Hill area, on the west side, and that neighborhood pretty much is going downhill, at least thats what the Urban Ohio posters are saying.

    It would be better for Mont. county if section 8 voucher housing is distributed around the county. I’ll bet the list and location of landlords is pretty close-hold, thouhg. Yet It would be fun to map that if anyone has a list of county section 8 housing contact me at Daytonlogy.

    And here’s another brain fart: There’s boo-coo foreclosures and vacancys starting up in the suburbs. Could not a landlord buy a scatter of older foreclosed ranchettes in, say, Huber Heights, and turn them section 8? Cheap housing and gauranteed income. I know there are already landlords holding multiple rentals in Huber, from the tax records.

  10. Zak April 7, 2008 / 5:36 pm
    Whatever happened to all the talk about CitiGroup starting its huge facility in Cincinnati? At the time, people were really talking about how the Midwest has a lower cost-of-living and how that would make it a great investment for large companies like CitiGroup. Those companies could cut their expenses by having their main headquarters here in the Heartland while at the same time keeping their operations in America, as many consumers have complained about the lower quality of service from operations moved to other countries.

    Is there some way that our politicians and other forward thinkers can start capitalizing on that? After all, the idea of outsourcing has only gotten more and more unpopular over the years, and with the economy taking the hit and more companies are looking to save money, is there a way to draw them to Dayton where we can offer them the same American quality that they expect while having lower prices?

    Also, with the dollar tanking versus the euro and thus making foreign investment in America much cheaper than it was before (although they’d be wise to wait until the economy shores up a bit; the dollar looks like it’s still got a ways to fall yet), is there some way to draw the attention of German/French/English/Chinese/etc companies towards Dayton as it’s an even better bang for their buck than in the holdings their accruing on the coasts?

    Not to mention: is there a way to make those two campaigns one-and-the-same, such that we first work on drawing the tanking firms on the Coasts here toward the Heartland but work on that happening in such a way that it also attracts the attention of the foreign companies over the next few years?

  11. Zak April 7, 2008 / 5:40 pm
    Argh, I need to proofread before I submit… Above, it should say “the holdings they’re accruing” rather than “the holdings their accruing”… Sorry about that.
  12. Zak April 7, 2008 / 5:54 pm
    I agree with the sentiment above that new things are not necessarily better. The best breakfast I’ve found in the Dayton area is at the Hasty Tasty Pancake House over on Linden (across from Elsa’s), and they’re quite an old establishment. To anyone who hasn’t been there before, the 50s style atmosphere makes it a lovely place to enjoy a lazy breakfast, especially if you’ve just gotten off of a long night on the 3rd shift.
  13. Mike Bock April 9, 2008 / 9:09 am
    Hilary — continuing the discussion of DaytonOS –you write, “We need to stop look for the big problem and the magic bullet. We need a coherent plan of action, involving government officials, neighborhood leaders, businesspeople, potential investors, donors, and community members.”

    It is always interesting to try to identify who the “we” is in such a statement. My point is that for Dayton to move in a positive direction, our democracy must be vitalized so that “We, the people,” in fact, are empowered within the system — not as outside observers, or outside commentators, not as cliques of the concerned — as meaningful shareholders in our government.

    The concept of “we, the people,” implies the existence of an aware interconnected community, but, the problem is, such a meaningful community barely exists. People are regularly elected to public office via marketing efforts, but, without the support of meaningful community.

    I like the notion that we can identify the problem behind the problem; I like the concept that there is, in fact, a magic bullet that can save us. I like the idea that the magic bullet available to us, secured with much effort by our ancestors, is found in the vitalization of our democracy. See my post at DaytonOS: “The Problem Behind the Problem: What Does It Take To Make Our Democracy Work As It Should?”

    Hilary, I visited your new web-site, Toast to Dayton, and read your comment, “My goal is to foster collaboration and communication throughout the Dayton community about Dayton’s economic future.” This is a great goal and I hope you get a lot of encouragement and help in your work to accomplish this goal.

  14. Hilary April 9, 2008 / 4:07 pm
    Yes, I saw your post on the “Problem Behind the Problem.” Your points are very well taken.
    So far, my project is slow going, but things are starting to pick up. This is a long term project for me, so I am ever patient.
    You are absolutely right that our community is weak. I still struggle, though, thinking of how we get the community more invested.
    Later in my project, I was hoping to use Townhall meetings as a means to foster communication and collect data.

    The idea that the magic bullet exists is appealing; it is easy to accept and seek out. It is harder, though, to grasp a process as the cause of problems.
    Can a community be built off of this idea that there is one cause for our social problems? What constitutes a meaningful community?

    Could not the blogosphere be considered a meaningful community? Or does a meaningful community require participation amongst a certain percentage of a population?

  15. David Esrati April 9, 2008 / 4:15 pm

    Thanks for joining the conversation here-
    I thought about moving the comments over.

    Critical mass is always key to moving groups in the right direction. Either you need a herd to be heard- or you need money, power or weapons to get your point across.
    I’m worried that we actually have too much democracy- with too many office holders, in too many fiefdoms.
    What we need is a benevolent dictator- or a true leader to step forward and lead. Unfortunately, in Dayton, we love to hammer down outspoken people.

  16. Mike Bock April 9, 2008 / 4:57 pm
    David, the fact that there are a lot of office holders and a lot of fiefdoms doesn’t say much about the state of our democracy. It sounds like you are worried about the inefficiencies of our government, the overlapping responsibilities of agencies, etc — but that is hardly the same as being “worried we actually have too much democracy.”

    I agree we have a leadership shortage and that we need true leaders. The development of leadership should be a goal of our educational system. We need to give a lot of thought to what leadership means and what the development of leadership means. If a school goal is to develop leadership in students, how should that leadership be defined? It seems to me the qualities that define leadership are quite different from the qualities that define dictatorship — even the benevolent variety.

  17. David Esrati April 9, 2008 / 5:14 pm

    Mike- I’m worried about critical mass. Without a large enough body of people pushing, we don’t move.
    With so many people worrying about CYA- and no one leading the way, we go no where.
    Leaders can be developed- I’ve seen it done in the Army. But, the process is one of strict top-down direction. Until we can get some people counting cadence, no one will march in an orderly fashion in anyone direction.

  18. J.R. Locke April 10, 2008 / 7:23 am
    Hillary sorry if I missed it but what is your project?

    The question with all the power structure I have had is what do we consider Dayton? I find myself concerned with Downtown and the neighborhoods directly in walking distance radius around it. The rest of this area seems fine in the grand scheme of things.

    When we talk about a Dayton community does it include the south suburbs? Because I think if you would take this region as a whole, well it is probably doing alright but if you concentrate on the Dayton core it is in bad shape.

    I guess my question is do we need a leader to speak to the poor masses (city core) or to increase support from the regional elite? In my opinion these are very different people that require very different strategies.

    Zak hasty tasty can’t be beat. All you can eat fish on Friday is damn good too.

  19. Mike Bock April 10, 2008 / 8:01 am
    Hilary, You ask, “What constitutes a meaningful community? Could not the blogosphere be considered a meaningful community?”

    Great questions. A group of people in a room or common location does not make a community. The fact that a group of people live in close proximity to each other — in a suburb or in an apartment complex — does not mean they live in a community. The fact that people are connected via the internet does not mean they are part of a community.

    It seems to me that what makes a group of people a community is the fact that individuals in that group are bound together by a common purpose, or common vision, and are committed to knowing and supporting each other in working towards that purpose.

    Neighbors, when most everyone lived on farms, were once united in a common purpose of survival and a common vision that by working together all of their lives would be improved. These communities of neighbors worked together to create and support a village school; they participated in barn raisings; they created and enjoyed community entertainment; they pitched in when one of their members faced disaster. They created town hall meeting where everyone had a voice. I realize that this is probably an over idealized view of the past, but still, when we think of community, this view is still part of our common heritage.

    Community, it seems to me, is needed in order for democracy to flourish. You would think that schools and churches would be organized as communities. But, the fact is, schools and churches are often organized as authoritarian hierarchical bureaucracies, not as communities.

    There are internet communities — groups that would fit the definition I floated above: “bound together by a common purpose, or common vision, committed to knowing and supporting each other in working towards that purpose.”

    David, You seem to be using the definition of leadership, often used in schools to define “student leaders,” that says that leadership is another name for advancing the will of those in authority. By that definition, I’m sure that North Korea has a lot of dedicated leaders. We need to define a meaning of leadership that will advance our democracy.

    It seems to me that in order for your vision of a large enough body of people pushing for positive change to come to reality, the strategy should be based on building authentic leadership within that body. As I said above, “We need to give a lot of thought to what leadership means and what the development of leadership means.”

  20. David Esrati April 10, 2008 / 8:28 am

    Mike- defining leadership isn’t that hard:
    1. The position or office of a leader: ascended to the leadership of the party.
    2. Capacity or ability to lead: showed strong leadership during her first term in office.
    3. A group of leaders: met with the leadership of the nation’s top unions.
    4. Guidance; direction: The business prospered under the leadership of the new president.
    Just tell me who in Dayton has a vision, clearly defined, with goals and objectives spelled out- with checkpoints along the way?
    Answer: no one.
    Stop getting into semantics.

  21. Mike Bock April 10, 2008 / 3:15 pm
    David, you seem to want to dismiss my point of view by suggesting that this discussion is simply about the meaning of words. But leadership is not a word — it is an idea, it is a skill, it is a quality.

    Joe Stalin was considered by many to be a great leader and those who thought Stalin was great would no doubt have told you, if asked, as you said above, that defining leadership isn’t that hard.

    But what is the leadership that every child should develop? What is the leadership that best advances the common good? What is the leadership that inspires the best in others? What is the leadership that moves us toward a better democracy?

  22. David Esrati April 10, 2008 / 4:58 pm

    I’m not interested in leadership skills children should develop right now- that’s what the scouts are for, and the military, and sports etc.
    I’m wondering who is going to navigate us out of this mess.
    You talk theoretical, I’m talking practical.
    We’ll get to teaching the sheep later.

  23. Wil April 10, 2008 / 6:52 pm
    Dayton is mislead and mismanaged. Government generally has no clue how to grow a business and Dayton positively punishes businesses foolish enough to come here (or squanders money to bribe those businessed for a temporary stay and to the detriment of current businesses). I’ve met with Housing Chief Mike Dugan after a Housing inpector made good on his statement (made in front of Mike Dugan at an earlier meeting) to the effect that, because I’d had the first meeting to express my concerns about that employees behavior, he would NOT agree to proceed cooperatively. Among other things I was cited criminally when I cleared an overgrown lot because the trimmings actually lay on the ground before I hauled them to a bonafide dump. I told Mr. Dugan that I couldn’t believe that Dayton’s policy was to charge those cleaing overgrown lots with a crime! His response was that if Mayor McLin were walking with him and saw the cuttings lying on the ground, HE would have to explain it to her. Really? Dayton’s Mayor doesn’t understand that the process of improving a lot by clearing it may necessarily envolve the trimmings resting on the ground? As the conversation continued, we came to the topic of the pandemic theft of copper plumbing from buildings. When I stated that police action should be more agressive, Mr. Dugan expressed that he and I were “fortunate” that we didn’t have to steal to eat. That wrankled me and I replied that, while I don’t deny that I have enjoyed some fortune in my life, good and bad, I’ve observed that good fortune has always seemed to follow in the wake of my hard work. I’ve never met anyone in Dayton who was required to steal to eat. Dayton is not Victor Hugo’s Paris YET.

    As the conversation wore on, I grew disturbed as Mr. Dugan explained Dayton’s “long term plan”. In a nutshell (and with a slight artistic license): Dayton is trying to purchase and demolish housing to make “green areas”. I note that, of course, a long standing policy of harassing owners of multi-family units does allow Dayton to “acquire” the properies not at fair market value when the harassment begins but at the distressed value when the owner understandably abandons his property. I can easily expound, but I digress. The long term plan, you see, is because population and tax revenue are falling. (You don’t say? How will demolish housing units help?). Easy, Mr. Dugan is sure those greene areas, coupled with the rising price of gas, will make the employees of Wright Patterson return to live in Dayton PROPER (Not Quail Hollow where Mr. Dugan lives).

    I think I blinked three times in utter mystification. I said that it should not be a surprise to Mr. Dugan that NO ONE (I know there are always exceptions but I was emphasizing a point) from Wright Patterson is going to move to Dayton for “green areas” and I don’t blame them. Dayton’s failed schools are legion, fire and police services are often NON-responsive (and, in my experience, derisive to requests for assistence), and as for the Housing Department, I’m cited for IMPROVING property while a drive down Manhattan (a stone’s throw from Mr. Dugan’s office) reveals filth and decay that easily rivals that of many third world slums.

    Well, Mr. Dugan let me know that with dwindling taxes, police services are stretched and, besides, the police did respond within minutes when a city housing inspector used his police band radio to summon help. Somehow, I didn’t feel better.

    At any rate, Mr. Esrati, your website is an encouraging dialogue. If only Dayton’s elected leaders would show a fraction of the same passion for the city and its citizens as do you… While I have removed most of my business interests from Dayton due to persecution and harassment by retaliatory city beaurocrats, I still have real property in Dayton and, according to property records am personally FAR MORE investing in the city than any of the beaurocrats. I have hope that Dayton can be corrected, but also have fear that it won’t.

    As an aside, maybe employers should advertise jobs with a tag that Dayton residents need not apply. Kinda just seems wrong, but it IS LESS DISCRIMINATORY than Dayton’s policy.

    I’d like to drop in again.

    Best Regards!

  24. Insider April 11, 2008 / 1:00 am
    Wil’s comments are way off base. He seems to imply that inspectors should waste their limited resources chasing absentee property owners, and then NOT demolish their abandoned, looted buildings. Then he criticizes the City for having too many bad houses. That is absurd.

    The blighted areas, with a few notable exceptions, are not going to turn around without significant help. For years houses were left to rot in hopes that change would come. It hasn’t. Sprawl continues to suck resources away from the core. It is time for Dayton to move on, get the obsolete product off the map, and rebuild with a new vision for the future.

    It is unfortunate that Wil had some bad experiences with the City. Personally, I suggest that if you feel “harassed” by the City, then fix up your property so there’s nothing to cite you for next time. That’ll show ’em!

    A positive attitude will go a long way. Everyone should lead by example and leave the negativity at the door.

    PS. I’m surprised none of the bloggers picked up this article yet:

  25. David Esrati April 11, 2008 / 5:32 am

    Jeffrey at Daytonology already mentioned the Governing article here:
    I’ve seen the housing department at their best and worst in South Park- a neighborhood that’s a little better off than most. There are serious deficits in people skills in that department.
    In fact, had the inspector, Mark Shaver, back in 1986 had better people skills, and the commission had better listening skills- I’d never have entered city hall or politics.

  26. Mike Bock April 11, 2008 / 6:56 am
    David, you seem to be developing a theme. You write above, “I’m wondering who is going to navigate us out of this mess.” And previous to that comment you wrote, “What we need is a benevolent dictator- or a true leader to step forward and lead.”

    You seem focused on finding solutions via the actions of an extraordinary individual. But, it seems to me, the key to moving forward, to navigating out of this mess, is not found in an individual or individuals, but is found in the system itself. How do we get the system to work?

    We need to understand why our democracy is not working to produce leadership of the quality that is needed, and then we need to find a way to vitalize our democracy so that it does work. The structure for an effective democracy is in place. Why are the ideas for improving our community and our schools so tepid, uninspiring and wrong? “We the people” have the authority to put in office elected members for the city council, the board of education, the county commission, etc. If we have been choosing hopeless duds, rather than the best among us, why is that? Figure that out and then you will have a way to proceed.

    In an effective democracy, the best ideas and the best leaders should emerge. The central issue is not how do we find a Mr. Wonderful who will agree to be our dictator — certainly we are not at that level of desperation. The issue is, how do we vitalize our democracy?

  27. David Esrati April 11, 2008 / 10:13 am

    The system works when someone clearly defines what the goals and objectives are. So far, all we can do is create committees, organizations, blue-ribbon panels that discuss the problem.
    There is a quote I love from Ross Perot in Tom Peter’s “Thriving on Chaos”
    “The first EDSer to see a snake kills it. At G, the first thing you do is organize a committee on snakes. Then you bring in a consultant who knows a lot about snakes. Third thing you do is talk about it for a year.”
    We’ve been doing things the GM way. We need to be doing it the EDS way.
    And, the word “dictator” was an illustrative use of the word- don’t focus on it.

  28. Mike Bock April 11, 2008 / 11:45 am
    David, I’m not hearing you agree with me that the way forward is via the vitalization of our democracy. When you decry the use of committees and the inefficiencies of panels, and when you champion the EDS answer to snake killing, it sounds like you have given up on finding democratic approaches. But it seems to me that a democratic approach is our only option.

    I am hoping to help Grassroots Dayton organize and this morning I posted some thoughts about Grassroots Dayton’s mission: “Sowing Seeds of Democracy”

  29. David Esrati April 11, 2008 / 11:54 am

    We don’t live in a democracy- we live in a republic.
    The democracy is we are supposed to be able to elect leaders to take us where we need to go.
    Because of our borked idea of how to do this in the Dayton area- we have too many chiefs and a decreasing number of Indians.
    The democratic approach is to have real choices- and give the power to those we elect- to fix things.

  30. Jeff April 11, 2008 / 5:11 pm
    “Jeffrey at Daytonology already mentioned the Governing article here:”

    I also posted it in full at Urban Ohio, which is probably where I should start posting again. Blogging here is like talking to a stove.

  31. Jeff April 11, 2008 / 5:20 pm
    “Dayton is mislead and mismanaged.”


    “I am suburban republican using the this issue to score political points”.

  32. Wil April 11, 2008 / 6:27 pm
    You may disagree, as another misguided city “insider” I presume you see no errors in the city’s direction (though all the time lamenting its quick decline), with my opinion regarding Dayton’s mislead and mismanged direction and the apparent lack of a sensible, intelligible principle governing that government. You can NOT argue with my facts, they are all provable and pale compared to MANY others. For example, when my contractor observed a city employee illegally dumping on my property from a city vehicle, I asked Mr. Dugan’s help in identifying that person by the fact that he was wearing a housing department shirt, drove a city vehicle, and immediately posted two city notices on neighboring properties. To Mr. Dugan’s credit, he agreed stating that the city would agressively work against such activity. Later, while defending myself against as charge of “STORING” debris after I was the victim of yet another illegal dumping, I asked the city prosecutor, Mary Welsh, to be as enthusiatic in prosecuting that city employee once Mr. Dugan completes his review. Her reply???? WHY should Mr. Dugan help you identify that employee, he doesn’t owe you anything!! And this fact is MINOR compared to so many others.

    Moreover, I challenge you to tell me ANY WAY a land owner can avoid becoming a criminal upon the instant a true criminal illegally dumps on their property. Mr. Dugan sure couldn’t, stating that the Court takes that into account when deciding how high the fine will be. So, Insider, just answer that one simple question and don’t expect a “pass”, I’m familiar with that law. I’ve also been told (by the city employee I suspect was the dumper and in front of the city prosecutor) that I will be repeatedly be cited for using a machine to repair roofs and gables because it is “a commercial vehicle being stored on residential property”. PUHLEASE! It is a 22,000 lbs aerial work platform and in use. Then again, the state of the law in dayton deems the mere presence of anything outside of a building to be STORED. Oddly, things inside of a building are apparently NOT STORED. Dickens – “If the law supposes that,” said Mr. Bumble, “the law is an ass – an idiot. If that’s the eye of the law, the law is a bachelor; and the worst I wish the law is that his eye may be opened by experience—by experience.” I truly wish Insider or any other city employee would spend a few hours with me and have their eyes opened by experience, rather than parroting unfounding failed policies. Look around, they ARE failing.


    You’re absurd and unwarranted conclusion is designed to chill debate. What’s YOUR political agenda? I don’t presume to wrongly insult you into silence. I challenge you to debate and, far more importantly, to think before you jump to erroneous conclusions. Are we to assume that you think urban democrats think Dayton is well lead and well managed? Seriously? For the record, I am NOT a republican, I have lived for more than 20 years in one of the nation’s largest cities and for a substantial time in the beautiful sprawling desert. I don’t care two whits for politics as an end. Pick your party, it makes absolutely no difference to me. I can’t discern a dime’s difference between most any two politicians. Look to Lincoln for pertinent observations on that generally uber class. In the context of my posting, my concerns are business and social (read Rand – who would NOT be a republican either). If you remain conclusory, you are likely doomed to stagnate and fail. If you are willing to converse, to submit new ideas into the crucible of your critical intellect, your ideas may prevail but they will always remain fresh and successful.

    So, for business, why do you think Dayton is surrounded by “abandoned” housing? I’ve invested more than $700,000 in Dayton housing. More to remodel than to purchase. It is a business and profit is NOT illegal YET. Critics of investors are rich in suggestions on CONTROLLING owners of property but seldom more than trivial in their own investments in Dayton (most such critics, in fact, seem to derive their income from tax revenues or questionable “insider” deals – don’t get me started). I think almost none of those properties was “abandoned”.

    It is unbeleivable that people work hard and invest their hard-earned after-tax dollars in a residence with the intent of eventually abandoning it. Business. The operating costs compared to the costs of “abadonment” are too high and operating costs generally a function of poor civil managment. High tax rates, poor family services (education, etc), poor social services (police, fire), and so on, burden the value of real property. These are also those things that are the “knitting”, if I may use a term read earlier, of Dayton.

    The government dabbles in real property. Why, I’ll never understand. I don’t see why my tax dollars are spent on enterprises that directly compete with me in what should be a free market. Try to convince a tenant that a completely renovated two bedroom is a fantastic bargain at $300 per month when they can move to a DMHA unit for $70. Oh, and DMHA’s units are some of the greatest stretches of blight in Dayton (not to mention several buildings of beaurocrats on the public’s payroll). If you’re still reading, you should be sensing the point…

    Socially, Dayton is a shambles and it irritates me to see another generation of children being shown the “bum’s rush” in dismal education system while the bloated, failing administration moves into expensive newly renovated digs. Those who exceed that educational system are likely to catch the first bus out. I don’t blame them. Dayton’s failure feeds a society of failure. Insider misunderstands Dayton’s explicit and long standing policy of targeting multi-units (though often arbitrarily) while single-family houses are ignored. That discrimination sure is paying dividends. I dunno, how about FAIR and CONSISTENT application of the city ordinances and, while at it, predicating those ordinances upon a philosophy of “sticking to the knitting”.

    I don’t want to continue to complain about my many experiences with Dayton, per se. I want to discuss potential solutions, possible directions, actual actions that can improve this city. I stumbled across Mr. Esrati’s blog and truly enjoyed the spark here. I don’t know Mr. Esrati and I do NOT agree with Mr. Esrati in every respect. In fact, I probably disagree more than agree, and often fundamentally regarding some of his postings. That said, I respect his apparent honesty and willingness to dialogue. I have tried repeatedly to have discussions with city officials and failed. I haven’t tried to approach the city commissioners or mayor yet, but I’ve grown cynical (and I WASN’T born that way). Still, I’ll have to try. So Jeff, and I don’t know you unless you’re Jeff Bishop of the housing department, I seem care more about the social health of Dayton than those city officials I’ve met. I see huge problems (far larger than my own) and hope this forum may instigate some solutions. [If you are Mr. Bishop, in fairness, you are not technically a particularly good inspector but have generally been fair, reasonable, and customer oriented. THAT far surpasses my experience with most every other city employee and I’d like to thank you.]

  33. Wil April 11, 2008 / 7:19 pm
    Here’s an idea… while illegal dumping is pandemic in Dayton and largely unpoliced and unprosecuted and victimized land owners are subsequently saddled with the cost of removal and court fines (for having “STORED” the debris), why not open a “free” dumping transfer station? Free, of course, never is BUT the cost to the tax base would be far less than the cost directly to the taxpayers (in direct costs, absurd court fines, and Dayton’s expense to enforce/prosecute the truly innocent owner) AND Dayton would be cleaner! Too much to ask?
  34. Jeff April 11, 2008 / 8:08 pm
    There are a lot of Jeffs in the world and the vast majority of them have nothing to do with Dayton city government. It’s laughable that you think the only people who find Dayton worth discussing are people who have some economic or personal connection to the place. I have neither, but find it interesting to observe from a safe distance.

    But maybe not so laughable. Maybe that is a good point. I don’t live there, I dont work there, I don’t have any business or real estate doings there, so why am I even participating in this discussion? I ask myself that a lot, why do I bother blogging about place I have no connection to.

    Since you asked political agenda is that I distrust and dislike conservative becuase I am gay, and know them to push their ideology by creating hostile climates using anecdotes and half truths and horror storys. I see how they do this against lesbian and gay people and see a similar badmouthing campaign against the city, particulary the city commision and mayor.

    I am not going to debate gay rights, but my point is why I distrut conservatives and what they say.

  35. Wil April 11, 2008 / 8:22 pm

    I’ve read your Section 8 statements, above, regarding what you apparently believe an EVIL SUBURB. Is that what you want? Section 8 everywhere? Do you truly believe that Section 8 is either “cheap” housing or “guaranteed income”. I challenge you on both conjectures. I’ll start…

    Section 8 is a Federal program that uses tax revenue taken from economically productive american to subsidize economically unproductive americans. Based primarily on the lack of income, applicants to section 8 are subsidized by a formula that actually awards unproductivity. Less work or income? MORE money from working americans! Let me generously refer to the successful applicatons as “tenants”.

    There is no apparent Constitutional authority for any such program. But let us overlook that minor issue.

    Anecdote warning! My experience with Section 8 began with DMHA assuring me that a tenant’s rent would be paid, that I had a duty to make sure no others moved in with the tenant, and that Section 8 would pay for any damages cause by the tenant.

    Things started fine. Then, tenant moved in a boyfriend. I contacted DMHA who did nothing but state that I had a duty to evict tenant. I started eviction proceedings. To retaliate, tenant ran A/C and electric oven 24/7, used a hammer to put hundreds of holes in walls, and used the same hammer to utterly destroy the bathtub.

    At the eviction hearing, a Government attorney defended the tenant. Result: extra month to evict (unpaid by Section 8).

    After eviction, Section 8 inspector stated that it was the worst damage he’d ever seen. I submitted the minimal cost of materials as I would repair it myself. No payment by DMHA: inspector didn’t write on final inspection report that damages were “above normal wear and tear”. Welcome to Section 8!

    I never accepted Section 8 tenants again but, unfortunately, I bought another property that had Section 8 tenants.

    Anecdote alert! One tenant at the new property had seven, SEVEN, children and paid her rent every month the same way: four quarters. She paid $1 for a three bedroom, two bathroom apartment. Her personal contribution was evident in how she maintained the apartment. Partially eaten food on the floor, repeatedly broken windows, carpet tears, trash everywhere, repeatedly plugged toilets, children in daipers wondering in the street at night, … you get the picture. She had no apparent disability and certainly no disability when it came to conveniently backhanding a child.

    End just 2 anecdote alerts.

    I began to wonder if society was best served by citizen productivity or tax subsidies for non-productive citizens. I didn’t wonder long and began to terminate Section 8 contracts at every opportunity (which is VERY difficult due to the contracts DMHA has). In the meantime, DMHA refused to pay rent where one tenant’s screen had a hole that exceeded 1/16 of an inch in diameter (none did when I installed it NEW and the tenant had clearly poked a small object through it), and where a tenant’s new steel door had been kicked in (by the TENANT to avoid the unimaginable expense of calling me or a locksmith).

    I can go on, believe me with many other examples of Section 8 (DMHA) horror stories but that’s not required here.

    Instead, I’ll admit that I’ve worked hard my entire life for every last thing I have (and many things that others have). I’ve REJECTED government grants or other handouts. I’ve paid my own way. I served my country AFTER I declined all scholarships and paid my own way through UCLA. Why? Why NOT? I was working full time and paid my own bills… tuition, rent, the birth of my beautiful daughter. But WHY serve my county? To thank and support a country where my diligence and hard work could raise me and mine from an impoverished existence. One of four children being raised by an angel with an eighth grade education would likely not have succeeded elsewhere.

    Alas, I digress again. OK, Jeff, Section 8 IS cheap housing… but ONLY to the tenant. Taxpayers must afford a huge and largely incompetent/inefficient overhead for the housing authority middle-man. Guaranteed income? Well, I’m supremely surprised that YOU personally aren’t leveraging every free penny to get into that great investment! Of course, I’m poking fun. I suspect you enjoy the most gauranteed of incomes, salary from citizen tax revenues. I, on the other hand, must convince free citizens that I’m providing them on each occasion with the best value for their hard-earned dollars.

    Section 8 is yet another of a long list of economic disasters perpetrated on citizens by a foolish government… Not to mention without a consitutional basis.

  36. Wil April 11, 2008 / 8:33 pm

    Again, you’re conclusion appears absurd. For the record, you’ll likely find few more supportive of gay rights (as a component of ALL constitutional rights) than me. You judge me conservative but I’d even debate the popular meaning and injustice done that word. You, apparently, should guard against such prejudice. I don’t care two whits who’s gay. I don’t care about status anywhere. Those are things we can’t control and, consequently, can’t give rise to reliable assessments of good/evil/etc. I expect you’ll leave me to run my life and I’ll do the same for you. I don’t care to list some silly accredidation by gay relatives or friends. The whole thing seems a stupid concern to me.

    Now, if you distrust conservatives, GOOD! Distrust/question/challenge everyone! You, too, may conclude there is no significant difference between most politicians. Still, listen to words, look to deeds, compare those with your understanding. Ultimately, we must all apply reason. There MUST be a rationale to every action or there should be no action. And where there is a rationale, a good government should also have a reason.

    You and I are not so far apart.

  37. J.R. Locke April 12, 2008 / 7:34 am
    Wil why is it certain people in this country (some who are given these “handouts”) don’t share your enthusiasm in America? Why don’t people who work hard everyday have the “oppurtunity” to invest $700,000? Did they just not work hard enough?

    Do “investors” expect tenants with no owning interest or potential owning interest to treat/maintain property better than those that do?

    Funny I just heard Elijah Anderson speak yesterday and he made emphasis talking about the decent folk in the poor community….

  38. Zak April 12, 2008 / 9:57 am
    Personally, I don’t understand how this whole “top-down” philosophy is supposed to work in your case, Mr. Esrati. In top-down systems, power is held by those on the top and invested into those on the bottom when creating new leaders. Power is invested in a manner which benefits the current leaders, because the focus is on the top of the system, with power flowing from the top down to the bottom.

    So, considering that, who exactly in the current system is going to invest you with political power? You plan to use that power to make government more transparent, revealing many of the dirty deals that will cost those on the top their power and income streams, and you plan make government more democratic, thus limiting their power to control who is allowed to be part of the system and thus their ability to exact tribute from those who wish to play (pay to play). Exactly which Montgomery County Democratic Party Leader do you believe would be foolish enough to invest you with power, considering that it would be against their best interest to do so?

    And before you say anything about the benefit to the People, remember that a top-down system has nothing to do with the People. Top-down means that power is held by those on top and flows downwards. The People, being at the bottom, don’t have any power and so are irrelevant.

    Democracy, in which we believe that government governs at the consent of the governed, is a bottom-up system, where power is derived from the bottom and is invested in representatives of the People. It’s only here, in a bottom-up system, that the People have any importance whatsoever.

    You’ll never succeed in a top-down system, Mr. Esrati, as you’re not beneficial to the people on top and so they’ll never invest you with their power. You’ll never be a “benevolent dictator” because you’ll never be the choice of whom to put in the lead.

    Better that you stick with what you’re currently doing, of sticking with the bottom-up approach, of getting the People to invest their power into you. It’ll take longer and be much harder, but it’s the only way you’ll succeed and be able to keep your values.

    And if I may also disagree with a point above: I don’t think the problem is that there are too many Chiefs and not enough Indians. From watching City Council and County Government, it looks to me like it’s all Indians and not a Chief in sight. It looks to me like everyone’s waiting for someone to tell them what to do, and no one has a vision nor the motivation to put one in motion if they did. It’s not that everyone has a plan and they’re conflicting with each other; it just looks like everyone is too scared to actually take a risk and do something real, so they’re instead waiting for someone else to do it.

    Which is, sadly, typical of a top-down system. Why invest power in a Chief, who may try to overthrow you, when you can made Indians into pseudo-Chiefs? Especially if you’re a pseudo-Chief yourself and know that a real Chief will take the power to unseat you…

    You’d shake things up too much, Mr. Esrati. MCDP will never invest their power in you, as you are. You’ll have to get power from a different source or you’ll have to give up your values. I suggest the former, and I think Mr. Bock’s articles are wonderful for figuring out how to recreate a bottom-up, grassroots, democratic powerbase.

  39. David Esrati April 14, 2008 / 4:28 pm

    You hit the nail on the head- too many “pseudo-chiefs”
    Every once in a while- as the bottoms falling out- a real chief can step up, and lead.
    We’ll see if it happens.
    I would love it if there was a grassroots uprising- but, more than likely- it will be a riot over the price of: gas, food or credit.
    We will see.

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