The Clueless form of Dayton City Management.

When was the last time you heard the City Manager asking the City Commission a question at a Commission meeting? A real question?

When was the last time you heard an active discussion about different ways to approach a problem, out in public?

That’s the beginning of the reason Dayton is failing to instill confidence in business. The other, is that we can’t clearly put a city manager in charge without meddling by a part-time Mayor who makes it a full time job to stick her nose in where it doesn’t belong.

Rashad Young has had an opportunity to prove himself, and prove himself he has:  We’re mediocre, and that doesn’t cut it.  While balancing a budget may seem an accomplishment (and it’s required by law), there are many other areas where he gets a big fat FAIL.

Take this article in the Dayton Business Journal- where business after business says the exact same thing: The city isn’t business friendly:

Regional officials acknowledge a pervasive view exists in the business community that it is hard to work with the city. They add there also is an underlying lack of confidence in city leadership, both elected and hired, to overcome the challenges that lay before it, no matter how much effort is given….

Despite the criticism, Dayton City Manager Rashad Young said he is working hard to make a difference, but the city is facing some challenging issues. Young said the business owners and executives he interacts with are, by and large, satisfied.

“I don’t think, between the business community and the city, there is bad blood,” Young said.

He said given the social and economic issues of the city, it is hard for people outside the city manager’s office to understand the challenge of progress.

“I cannot pick up and change the social and economic factors of the people in my city,” Young said. “I don’t think people care that the challenges have been here for a generation. People don’t care why it is broken, they care that it gets fixed.”…

However, Dayton Commissioner Matt Joseph credits Young with working hard to improve Dayton’s customer service.

One thing the city can do better, Joseph said, is communicate success stories and elicit positive testimonials from satisfied customers.

He said short-term negativity is hard to counteract, and the commission has taken a long-term approach.

“There is only one way: That is to spend the next 10 years giving good customer service, because once people have this perception in their mind, it stays there,” Joseph said.

As with any organization, there is room for improvement, Joseph and Young said.

via Businesses critical of city efforts – Dayton Business Journal:.

Some people look at challenges and say they can’t be overcome, others look and see opportunity.  If Rashad Young can’t change the social and economic factors of the city, then he shouldn’t be in a leadership position– it’s quite frankly his job to do those things.  And regarding Joseph’s comment, good customer service shouldn’t take 10 years to achieve– that’s absurd.  We need it yesterday.

I’ve been working on a plan to restructure the delivery of service to neighborhoods, actively engaging each neighborhood to reach goals and objectives that will help allocate our limited resources. I’ll be releasing it closer to the election, but, if you’ve been reading and participating, you’ll recognize a lot of it from previous posts.

It’s time to reinvent the way we run our city. It’s time to reconsider what we get for $125K a year city manager and ask “Are we simply getting what we pay for?”  Would we be better off paying $200K+ and getting a person of the caliber of Col Colleen Ryan of the Dayton Development Coalition? She’s well respected by both the business community and the base people, and has managed an operation (WPAFB) which compares to Dayton in complexity.

Until voters start asking real questions on what kind of city they expect, we’ll never get the city we deserve.  Our first step is to get a city manager who doesn’t blame his lack of progress on what we’ve got left of our city.  If you can’t make it better, we need to find someone who can.  Saying you can’t change things means you’ve lost hope, and that’s not what our city needs.  We need someone who can clearly communicate a vision of the future- and pay them well to do it.  If given a choice between Mr. Young and someone like Ms. Ryan, I believe we’d see a cataclysmic positive change in where Dayton is headed- hopefully with the clueless mayor standing to the sidelines and letting the real talent take the helm.  Instead we have a mortician putting the finishing touches on our city’s funeral, wearing an appropriate hat for the occasion.

Thoughts?

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17 Responses

  1. Brad June 30, 2009 / 12:23 pm
    Getting Rhine McLin out of office will be an enormous step forward for our City.

    I haven’t completely lost all confidence in Rashad yet, but it’s dwindling by the day…

    It made me sick to my stomach to read that DBJ article the other day… It is absolutely inexcusable to be cutting City services as a result of businesses leaving and declining tax revenues, all due to a piss-poor job of business retention and attraction by the City.  I’m not a business person, so I don’t understand the finer details of all the hoops businesses have to jump through to come into the city (or stay here..), but I get the vibe that there are waaaaaaay too many hoops.

    We all see the “feel good” press releases every couple weeks from the City or DDP about this little thing or that little thing renewing a lease or bringing like 5 new jobs downtown or something…. yet all the while, the bigger problems loom, and just get worse… it’s like a lipstick on a pig kind-of thing…

    It’s been said time and time again, but the City’s job should be FACILITATOR to businesses, not PAIN IN THE ASS.  Obviously there are codes to follow and blah blah blah… but the CITY should be the one jumping through hoops to get things done with business.  Not vice versa.

  2. Liz June 30, 2009 / 1:11 pm
    Re those “feel good” announcements, so often they lead to nothing. What’s happening with Ballpark Village (announced 2006)? The Merc (announced 2005)? Free city-wide wi fi service (announced 2005)?  It has become increasingly difficult to believe any good news coming out of City Hall until the results can actually be seen.
  3. Gene June 30, 2009 / 3:31 pm
    Tech Town? Slowly but surely?

    Don’t call me Shirley.

  4. Nathan Driver June 30, 2009 / 4:24 pm
    “There is only one way: That is to spend the next 10 years giving good customer service,…” {from the article}

    vs.

    “Joseph’s comment, good customer service shouldn’t take 10 years to achieve” {your statement}

    a little confused on this part David.

  5. David Esrati June 30, 2009 / 5:28 pm

    Nathan- we don’t have 10 years to prove we won’t jerk people around.
    It has to be instant.
    Presto Changeo- you don’t get good service, people get fired- or we hold an inquisition.
    Real leadership can turn things around faster. Look at how long it took Steve Jobs to bring Apple back- less than 2 years.
    Visionary leadership achieves. The others- make excuses.

  6. John Ise June 30, 2009 / 7:51 pm
    Isn’t the real problem the Commission as opposed to the manager?  Manager implements policy and direction set by the Commission, right?  And if he’s a poor manager, then well it’s the Commission’s responsibility to hold to account.
  7. Jeff June 30, 2009 / 9:41 pm
    A few comments from the suburban peanut gallery………..

    I’ve blogged on Rashad Young…not impressed…..

    http://daytonology.blogspot.com/2007/09/rashad-young-says-no.html

    Then there was that time he had to scramble because Dayton failed its public finance audit.

    Then the icing on the cake was that KMK study on problems w. local economic development (which also nailed the city on failure to “do something” about the failing downtown), where Young pretty much ignored the consultants recommendations for consolidation.  And no action at all on downtown, leaving  it to Dr. Irvin to move in and convene his privatley planning center-city planning effort.

    But to be fair, here, Young probably was selected becuase they couldn’t hire a city manager from outside since no wanted the job. City managers travel around a lot to move on to better and more challenging jobs, and they usually avoid jobs in loser situations like Dayton since it’s bad for their career.

    It made me sick to my stomach to read that DBJ article the other day

    What’s suprising is that it has gone mostly unmentioned.  It was quite damning..their unamed source didn’t mince words:  No Confidence.

    @@@@

    If Rashad Young can’t change the social and economic factors of the city, then he shouldn’t be in a leadership position

    To be fair, is that the city managers job?  He is a super administrator and CEO of sorts.  And the social and economic factors that are killing Dayton city and the metro area in general are beyond the power of an office as banal as city manager.   Or maybe you mean how the leadership in local government responds to them?  Seems it could be more than just cutback management, huh??

  8. Jeff June 30, 2009 / 9:49 pm
    Would we be better off paying $200K+ and getting a person of the caliber of Col Colleen Ryan of the Dayton Development Coalition? She’s well respected by both the business community and the base people, and has managed an operation (WPAFB) which compares to Dayton in complexity.

    Collen Ryan for Mayor
    John Gower for City Manger.

    You combine a leader with a visionary in that mix.

  9. David Esrati June 30, 2009 / 10:05 pm

    @Jeff- I don’t think Gower would want the managers job- and Ryan wouldn’t want the Mayor’s pay.
    I don’t see Young having the tools to lead- partially because of the meddling of the commission and mayor, and partially- because, as your post pointed out- he’s not open to new ways of doing things.
    Face it- TIF’s only go to the uber rich. It’s how they stay wealthy.

  10. Gary July 1, 2009 / 12:22 am
    Jeff,
    That article also referred to our SID proposal in Walnut Hills. I have been informed that when the news broke about that, the city leaders held 3 or 4 meetings to figure out a way to STOP us from proceeding and finally realized that they couldn’t. They ended up unofficially endorsing our efforts but the person assigned to helping me got offered more money to work for another suburb of the city and they have been quiet ever since. We are proceeding with the proposal if only to learn what the process involves. The city has not once facilitated our efforts after this person left. Of course, I have become super busy this year. I felt it was time that someone finally stepped up to do what is right for Dayton.
    It is a little known fact but city employees are not permitted to exhibit covert leadership. By policy! You live in the city, work in the city and you are not allowed to show any leadership skills whatsoever. The leadership must originate from the community. So the community is looking towards the city for leadership and the city is looking towards the community for the same.  When leaders emerge from the community, the city does its best to crush them.  Hence the stagnation point that we are currently at. Real change will happen when people no longer care who gets the credit. At this point, I just want the end results.
  11. Jeff July 1, 2009 / 5:03 am
    Gary, thanks for the backgrounder.  This explains a lot of the ” inertia” one sees in the city.

    Face it- TIF’s only go to the uber rich. It’s how they stay wealthy.

    Thats sort of PC way of  looking at them.  Based on what I see in Chicago TIFs are also are a very effective redevelopment tool, as they were intended to be.  Here in the Dayton area, the concept has been twisted to facilitate suburban greenfield development that does indeed benefit the uber rich, as you say.

  12. David Esrati July 1, 2009 / 5:56 am

    @Jeff- I meant TIFs around here. Sorry.

  13. Siquomb July 1, 2009 / 9:33 am
    Lots of valid and flat-out wrong info here. State Auditor Mary Taylor’s criticisms of Dayton’s financial record-keeping were politically motivated and questionable.  The city did not fail, overall, its public audit. 
  14. Ryan July 1, 2009 / 9:47 am
    I was thinking last night about how to start a constitutional convention.  My idea comes after witnessing the nonstop barrage of bad legislation from our government officials that continues to repress the freedoms, and well being of the citizens of the United States.  This applies to local, state, congress, senate, and the presidency.  What was the last piece of legislation that you actually felt was advantageous to this country?  The current legislators seem more influenced by lobbyists rather that the constituents they represent.  Good for the lobbyists, bad for the citizens. 
     
    The same idea applies to this blog, what would it actually take to re-write a city charter?  Remove the repressive language and long standing bad ideas, and replace them with smart, legal, and more progressive law.  It would use common sense as a concept; something that today’s government officials seem to lack. 
     
    If I ever ran for a government seat (especially mayor) I have a long reoccurring idea.  Gather a select group of well respected local volunteer’s, volunteer’s being the key, a “think tank” of sorts.  A mix of professors, local business leaders, and citizens.  This group would be responsible for brainstorming progressive ideas, and changes required for the betterment of Dayton.  It’s a good idea that would yield results. 
     
    As it stands local, state, and federal government is stagnant and repressive.  Progressive ideas such as a constitutional convention are needed to change our futures for the better.    
  15. Gene July 1, 2009 / 11:44 am
    Sometimes it is getting the ball and taking it to the hoop.

    Enough with “think tanks” and volunteers. True leaders have a vision, know it is right on the money, and get to that goal even if little shits are in their way.

    Too much democracy, even if it has been thwarted in the past, makes no sense. You will never please everyone. The true idea is to make it a place were people can succeed, with little government intervention. Complicated laws and political structure screw that up.

    Have you ever noticed that the successful people in this city, county, never run for office. Bc they know it is just a pile of shit with too much this and that. The successful person does it their way, and most do it for the benefit of others, but liberal think otherwise.

    There is a saying…….. you can’t make chicken salad out of chicken shit. Well, I think you can make chicken salad out of chicken shit. It just tastes like crap. That is Dayton and its “so called” leadership right now.

  16. David Esrati July 1, 2009 / 12:18 pm

    Thanks for calling me un-successful Gene.
    I agree- we don’t need think-tanks, round tables, blue-ribbon panels anymore- we need roll-up-your-sleeves and get to work leadership.

  17. Gene July 1, 2009 / 12:27 pm
    Actually, I was not referring to you. Rather current elected politicians.

    I don’t see you as a politician, rather a citizen who want to help change/grow our city. The avenue you have chosen is to run for office.

    I think we have a lot of smart and caring people in Dayton who could do a much better job than what we currently have. The current group seems to think of themselves as “doing us a favor” by being there. Well, the are not.

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