The man with no plan

Tim Riordan is a man without a future. He’s already receiving his pension- and drawing a nice salary for his City Manager position. He’s holding down the fort, in a defensive position praying for an economic turnaround that’s going to save his, or his successor’s behind.

As a good faith measure, he’s taking a tiny pay cut:

Dayton City Manager Tim Riordan is volunteering to take a pay cut worth three days of his salary — $1,700 — in addition to the three-day unpaid furlough he and other management employees took earlier this year.The Dayton City Commission approved the pay cut at its meeting Wednesday, July 21.“We are asking people to make sacrifices,” Riordan said. “Before I do that, I want to use myself as an example.”

via Dayton City Manager volunteers to take pay cut.

Of course, he’s preparing to ask the city staff who got their “step increase” last yearwithout approval from the commission– to give it back.

Fighting a rear-guard war is never how you win a war.

The problem is, Dayton hasn’t identified and capitalized on what can make it a winner. We’ve been doing the Hail Mary “economic development” incentive initiative for over 15 years and seen a huge FAIL as employment has shrunk and companies have left town. We never seemed to have enough chips in our stack to play with the big boys. NCR went to Georgia for over $100 m, and the executive suite went to NYC because the Schuster Center isn’t Broadway, and the Dragons aren’t the Yankees.

Suppose we announced to the world that our days of diverting tax dollars to corporate welfare are over. We guarantee not to tax you anymore than we need to pay our infrastructure and public safety bills. We’d also set some goals for public lifestyle improvements- a plan of what we hope to achieve in the next 5 years in terms of parks, recreation, schools, neighborhoods. We’d have set goals, with set price tags and set completion points. We’d get out of the development by reaction to private whim ( a local company wants a handout to build wind turbines) and get into the proactive planned strategy mode.

Plus, it’s time to use our loss leader.

Dayton actually hiked its water costs a few years back, not listening to its biggest customers that the new prices were out of reach. The first reaction by Cargill- “we’ll just drill our own wells” which they did. Delphi ended up leaving town. We’re now running at less than 50% capacity- we also pushed everyone’s water bill up (mine tripled over the last 10 years- did yours?). This was how we gave the people “no new taxes” as politician-speak loves to go- but, unfortunately, it also took away taxes as businesses left due to the killing off of our one really competitive weapon: cheap, great water.

Suppose we started giving away our water so cheaply that the county couldn’t compete? We’d gain more water customers of course, but in exchange for it- we ask for some things like an end to incentives there as well. No more financing Teradata moving a half-mile on the taxpayers, or more money into building new subdivisions when we already have a glut of homes. Would we start to have a fighting chance? How about a single regional income tax rate- a uniform 1.5% that’s shared based on a formula calculated on population density. All of a sudden, we’re sounding like a fighter, instead of a punching bag.

Tim Riordan is probably the best person for his job- only because he knows how to play the game here and knows the players. The problem is the game we’ve been playing has been Russian Roulette with more than one bullet.

It’s time to change the game. But, we need a man with a plan.

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20 Responses

  1. larry sizer July 23, 2010 / 10:16 am

    Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

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  2. Bubba Jones July 23, 2010 / 12:39 pm
    Larry Sizer – Did the letter have any constructive content or suggestions in it or did it merely point out his “short comings”?  If there was no constructive content, exactly what kind of answer did you expect from him?  Something like this…..


    Dear Mr. Sizer,
    Thank you for your letter dated June 13, 2010.  I’m appreciative of the fact that you took the time to point out all of my short comings, flaws, incompetence and general lack of understanding of  the issues that I face in my job on a daily basis.  Prior to your letter I mistakenly thought that I was a pretty decent guy attempting to do a difficult job while constantly being berated and belittled by the public and the press.  But, thanks to your insightful and well written letter I realize now that I am a total loser that should not even be allowed to take one more swallow from Dayton’s abundant aquifers.  I am indebted to you for the rest of my life for making me face the fact that I am no more valuable to this reason than a pile of stinking dog squeeze.


    Please, feel free to write me on a regular basis. Frequent letters from you will reinforce the realization that my job is but a futile effort to serve the region and the citizens of Dayton.


    Very Truly Yours,
    Tim Riordan

    Well-loved. Brilliant: Thumb up 19 Thumb down 3

  3. Civil Servants Are People, Too July 24, 2010 / 2:04 am
    @ Mr. Esrati, I support your idea of a regional tax structure, but it only works if everyone gets on board – including low-tax areas like Beavercreek.     For them, a regional tax would be a dis-incentive for business.     Much of Dayton’s tax base already comes from suburban workers in the city.  Besides, Dayton’s biggest competitor is probably Kettering, and their tax rates are almost identical.
     
    Beyond that, I think the other ideas above are unrealistic.    Water is plentiful but there are  huge costs to distribute it.   It would take  decades of losses to attract enough new business with subsidized  “cheap water” to recoup the investment.   Until landbanking creates new modern-size sites for them to locate, the question is largely irrelevant anyway.
     
    Finally, development is only a fraction of a typical city budget compared to Police and Fire.   Cutting incentives entirely would only make the City less competitive and not do much for the bottom line.
     
    @ Larry,  your letters are nearly incomprehensible and undoubtedly inappropriate.   As a civil servant, I can advise you that NO one will take you seriously as long as you continue to behave this way.   If the City of Dayton is ignoring you, they are somewhat justified and it is your own fault.
     
    The Humane Society runs an outstanding dog park in the inner-city.   Have you been there yet, Larry?   Instead of leasing someone else’s land, perhaps you should just buy a property where you can implement your ideas.   Vacant lots are very affordable in Dayton.
     
    If people wonder why government is not always as fast as business, it is because we have to spend time with people like Larry.   Civil Servants generally don’t have the luxury of turning people away at the door.
     
    (For the record I have no stake in this and no prior knowledge of this situation in Dayton)

    Smackdown!. What do you think? Thumb up 8 Thumb down 4

  4. FTLOD July 24, 2010 / 2:18 am
    I think you’re too harsh on Riordan.  He has a lot of good experience and I’ve never been disappointed by what he has said or done.  I recognize your frustrations though.
    But remember how long Riordan has been in charge too.

    Brilliant or Bozo? Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  5. Bruce Kettelle July 24, 2010 / 7:58 am
    I think we are in pretty good shape compared to some other communities in this country.  Take Bell California for example.  The city manager making $800,000, part time council members paid $100k each makes the pay structure in the Dayton area appear reasonable.

    http://www.newswest9.com/Global/story.asp?S=12860386

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  6. David Esrati July 24, 2010 / 8:07 am

    @CSAPT Let’s dissect what you just said:

    Water is plentiful but there are  huge costs to distribute it.   It would take  decades of losses to attract enough new business with subsidized  “cheap water” to recoup the investment.

    In case I missed something- the huge costs are sunk costs- the distribution network is in place, maintenance costs are almost the same, regardless of volume. Unless of course we keep extending services to places that were not on the grid- oh, you get to that here:

    Until landbanking creates new modern-size sites for them to locate

    Um- huge costs to the taxpayers to package real estate for wishful new uses. A diversion of our money into things with no immediate payback (unless of course you are a politician who gets HUGE checks from a demolition contractor)
    Then you go on to talk about a “development strategy” that has been in use for the last 15 years and failed miserably to change the makeup of our workforce- by selectively backing various horses:

    Finally, development is only a fraction of a typical city budget compared to Police and Fire.   Cutting incentives entirely would only make the City less competitive and not do much for the bottom line.

    So what you are advocating with our small amount of discretionary funds that are left after paying for essential police and fire is to continue to subsidize speculative land purchases and donations to large companies in the hopes that they will bring jobs- instead of making real changes to our competitive positioning by eliminating all expenses on speculative improvements and investing them in real competitive advantages with a “loss leader” like inexpensive water and a promise that if you set up shop here- you won’t find out that your competitor just got a leg up on you via a government funded pay-off that puts you at a competitive disadvantage.
    Really- you complain about Mr. Sizer’s logic? Please examine your own. It’s more twisted than I can stand.

    Brilliant or Bozo? Thumb up 6 Thumb down 2

  7. Insider Info July 24, 2010 / 9:26 am
    ” We’d also set some goals for public lifestyle improvements- a plan of what we hope to achieve in the next 5 years in terms of parks, recreation, schools, neighborhoods.”

    David…..have you seen the city’s parks lately?    In 5 years time, you won’t be able to see the difference between a city park and a vacant lot.

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  8. larry sizer July 24, 2010 / 10:47 am
    To…Civil Servants Are People, Too:
    Since I wrote the letter to Tim Riordan, the Mayor had called me on the telephone, and at that time I explained that I just have a great idea about a Dog Park and that I was collecting signatures for a Petition for the city to build an inner-city dog park, and that I would be go going to the City Commission meetings and exercise my three minutes and appeal to the voting dog owners of Dayton, that we need an inner-city dog park.   I have no intention of leasing land, buying land, or any adventure other than stimulate the Voters of Dayton that are dog owners, if the City Commissioners fail to provided a dog park, lets vote them out of office. Here is copy of my petition…

    Petition for Inner-city Dog Park
    We the undersigned are concerned citizens who urge our city leaders to act now to establish a fenced-in, off-leash dog park where well-behaved canine citizens of the City of Dayton can exercise in a clean, safe environment without endangering or annoying people, property, or wildlife; to develop a beautiful, well maintained space open to all dog lovers and friends willing to uphold the park’s rules and restrictions; to view this park as a community project, in partnership with the City of Dayton, designed to satisfy the needs of dog owners and non-dog owners alike. We propose that the dog park be located in the core of the city to the rear of Emerson School, bridging the inner-city, the Oregon and South Park Historical Districts, as well as walking distance to the University of Dayton and the many inner-city dwellers, with ample parking for automobiles along Buckeye Street. In progressive communities across the U. S. of A., dog parks have proven to be a joy for the dog owners, allowing them to watch and interact in a safe, contained environment with their dogs, a pleasure otherwise not possible within a city environment. The area also has tennis courts, basketball court, slides and playground for the young children, and a shaded roofed shelter area nearby. We are asking the city to provide a site, fencing, and funds for an inner-city dog park.
     
    As for the water issue I say every time time the water fountains are turned on over the Miami River that someone (like Congressman Turner) should pay for the wasted water?

    Brilliant or Bozo? Thumb up 1 Thumb down 3

  9. David Lauri July 24, 2010 / 11:36 am
    I think we are in pretty good shape compared to some other communities in this country.  Take Bell California for example.
     
    An interesting quote from the story about Bell, California, to which you linked, Bruce, is:

    its officials boast of the city’s $22.7 million budget surplus, its well-kept parks, clean streets and programs at the community center for people of all ages.

     
    Compare and contrast to Dayton’s budget woes, as discussed earlier in at least one Esrati.com post.

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  10. Bubba Jones July 26, 2010 / 7:07 am
    >>> I did this just for you Bubba Jones: http://www.communicationart.net/bubba_jones.htm
    I trust you have enough snap to copy/paste the link I made just for you, and cyberspace? Now there is no question of what I wrote the double dipper. <<<
     
    I’m offline for 60 hours and log back on to Esrati.com to start my week and see that Larry calls me an name (edited).  NICE stuff, Larry.  You sure are a classy guy!!   Obviously you’re smart too!  I can see that you’ve taken lessons from the DE’s handbook on how to influence people to get things done.  You call people names on a public forum and then get upset because they don’t respond in a favorable manner to your requests.  Good luck getting that dog park! :)

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  11. larry sizer July 26, 2010 / 7:34 am

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  12. Bubba Jones July 26, 2010 / 8:12 am
    >>> Enough said…  <<<
     
    You are quite right about that!!  And, Larry, I just like to say a big THANK YOU for once again contributing the esrati.com community in your usual illiterate, grammatically incorrect manner.   Since we both agree that it’s “enough said”, you can go away now.

    Brilliant or Bozo? Thumb up 6 Thumb down 2

  13. Civil Servants Are People, Too July 26, 2010 / 6:24 pm
    @ Larry, once again, allow me to point out that Dayton already has a dog park, and there is another one just outside the city limits in Harrison Twp.      If you want to be taken seriously, maybe you should be asking for ANOTHER dog park, instead of acting like those two parks don’t exist.
     
     
    @ Mr. Esrati, your analysis missed my point – the City should be doing everything to make Dayton a better place.   Perhaps the Water idea has merit, but to kill an effective program to pay for it is not sensible.
     
    I have yet to see proof (beyond anecdotal evidence) that the programs you despise don’t work.    I agree in theory “corporate welfare is bad” but the fact is that it’s done everywhere because it works.
     
    Show us the “donations to large companies” that outweigh the small businesses receiving assistance.   That’s not to say large companies don’t sometimes benefit, but it seems that is the exception to the rule on the local level.   We don’t have very many large companies left!
     
    Perhaps you should at least distinguish between state and local-level programs?   That kind of change needs to be top-down from the Feds or the city that quits the game first will be the loser.
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     

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  14. Shortwest Rick July 26, 2010 / 9:49 pm
    @ larry sizer – perhaps you are barking at the wrong tree, so to say.  It would make sense to me if you want another dog park you should maybe work with the animal shelter toward that goal, a county entity. A hike in annual dog tag fees to fund it so the people actually using it pay for it?

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  15. larry sizer July 26, 2010 / 10:59 pm

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  16. jstults July 27, 2010 / 9:38 am
    CSAPT:

    I have yet to see proof (beyond anecdotal evidence) that the programs you despise don’t work.

    When did you prove that they worked?  Who is the burden of proof on here?  Shouldn’t it be on the people who are spending the money?  All the empirical work I’ve been able to find says that the multipliers tend to be less than one (translation: it’s not a good investment).  Can you point to anything that shows they’re not?  I think that would be really informative.

    I agree in theory “corporate welfare is bad” but the fact is that it’s done everywhere because it works.

    Sure, it can’t be crazy if everyone is doing it…
     
    (and not everyone btw)

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  17. nka July 27, 2010 / 3:29 pm
    OK everyone, let’s take a deep breath.  We have had plenty of disappointments as those of us who love Dayton have waited for our “White Knight”–blaming Tim Riordan, who is one of the good guys is a dog that just won’t hunt. 

    Tim came back to Dayton to take on a thankless task because he loves this town.  During a recent Executive Committee meeting he laid out the City of Dayton budget and pulled no punches.  There are very tough decisions to be made and he has the unfortunate task of being the bearer of bad news.
    It’s really easy for those with no responsibility to hurl insults and criticisim.  He’s the real deal–give him a break.

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  18. Jeff Dziwulski July 27, 2010 / 6:07 pm
    You could put a dog park in that big park off Buckeye Street.  It doesnt seem to be used much.n   Or over by the Job Center. 

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  19. larry sizer July 27, 2010 / 6:14 pm
    @ Jeff of Louisville:
    Thank you very much, as this is where my Petition for a dog park is listed at…
    Petition for Inner-city Dog Park
    We the undersigned are concerned citizens who urge our city leaders to act now to establish a fenced-in, off-leash dog park where well-behaved canine citizens of the City of Dayton can exercise in a clean, safe environment without endangering or annoying people, property, or wildlife; to develop a beautiful, well maintained space open to all dog lovers and friends willing to uphold the park’s rules and restrictions; to view this park as a community project, in partnership with the City of Dayton, designed to satisfy the needs of dog owners and non-dog owners alike. We propose that the dog park be located in the core of the city to the rear of Emerson School, bridging the inner-city, the Oregon and South Park Historical Districts, as well as walking distance to the University of Dayton and the many inner-city dwellers, with ample parking for automobiles along Buckeye Street. In progressive communities across the U. S. of A., dog parks have proven to be a joy for the dog owners, allowing them to watch and interact in a safe, contained environment with their dogs, a pleasure otherwise not possible within a city environment. The area also has tennis courts, basketball court, slides and playground for the young children, and a shaded roofed shelter area nearby. We are asking the city to provide a site, fencing, and funds for an inner-city dog park.

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