Transparency of government, and why we can’t depend on the Dayton Daily News

Almost universally, the Dayton Daily News is hated by our elected leaders. You hear things like “they can’t get it right” or “the paper is biased” or “they misquoted me.”

The paper is also incredibly apt at being negative, name calling and of writing for the lowest common denominator. Maybe that’s why they advertise the coupons instead of the content they generate.

But, through the wizardry of the web and social media, the politicians’ excuses are running thin. If you don’t like what they say about you- feel free to publish your version on the web. So far, the only one to do this is Dayton Mayor Gary Leitzell– but, his posts have been rare.

Recently, my posts about the Dayton Development Coalition compensation recommendations were based on what has been declared- “wrong numbers” as published by the DDN. I’ve also been led to believe that Teradata was handed $500K retention money by the county ED/GE fund– which also seems to be false (I quoted the Dayton Business Journal).
So I sent an email to Joe Tuss, the Deputy County Administrator and Economic Development Director. I asked:

Is there a web location where all ED/GE grant requests and awards are listed?
I spent some time with Bruce Langos yesterday at Teradata-
He says Teradata got $500k the first time they moved- but he handed it back to the state?
And- they didn’t ask for anything to move to the new RG Properties location?

Did Oberer apply for money to keep them- and build an addition?
Was money granted to either RG Properties- or to Oberer? Or Teradata?

I have a feeling the news got some of this wrong.

Thanks in advance.

Around midnight- same day, I got the following response:

Let me try to answer your questions one at a time.

1. There is not a web location where all ED/GE grant requests and awards are listed.

2. I was not involved in the details of the Teradata decision to build at the Exchange when Teradata was spun off from NCR, so I would not know whether Teradata got $500,000 from the State or not. If Bruce says he gave State incentive funding back, I believe him.

3. Teradata did not receive any incentives to move to the new RG Properties location that I am aware of. It was a private sector transaction between Teradata and RG Properties.

4. Miami Twp applied for ED/GE funding to assist Oberer Development in late 2009 to retain Teradata at the Exchange. The project scope was to build an additional 20,000+/- SF building, providing expansion space to consolidate employees here and not in Georgia. $500,000 was allocated to the project in December 2009. The project at the Exchange did not go forward, Teradata chose to build a new, larger building at Austin Landing, and the funds were returned to the ED/GE program.

I hope this answers your questions.

It would seem much easier if the County ED/GE fund, posted all of its applications online, along with status of the decisions- and the terms of the grants, so the public can follow up on them. Additionally, each should have progress reports filed on a regular basis to evaluate the effectiveness of the grants.

If it’s transparent, it’s trusted. If it’s not- we end up with a lot more confusion- in addition to dealing with news reports with numbers we can’t trust.

Social Media is a great way to cut the paper out of the info flow- or at least make sure your side of the story gets out.

I’m not sure we have the whole story on the county’s involvement at Austin Road- but, at least the Teradata part is coming into focus.

Just remember when the County Commission tried to hike the hotel tax to the max last minute to fund a hockey stadium there? This is why we need transparency and journalists both.

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9 Responses

  1. Gary Van Lee December 17, 2010 / 11:32 am
    Hi David,
    First of all, I want to apologize for sending you emails at your business; I thought you said i could if I had an issue to discuss w/ you one-on-one …
    Anyway, Do you accept ideas for posts on your blog?
    As for the DDN, and transparencies, etc., I think we might never know what goes on behind closed doors in government, etc., especially if it’s not documented!  Do you trust the info on Wikileaks?

    The DDN is huge though, many people must like it!  No comment on the Teradata — not sure what it is.  I’ll Google it!

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  2. David Esrati December 17, 2010 / 12:46 pm

    Gary- I’ve turned many blog comments into posts- and, people send me information for dispersal as well.

    The whole idea of what goes on behind closed doors of government is one I’ve fought for- and been arrested for. Unfortunately, I didn’t get much support from this community- which doesn’t care that its leaders have 2 meetings of the commission every week.

    I trust the info from WikiLeaks- although we’re getting it filtered-  but, even some of what is recorded and documented- is still conjecture.

    The DDN isn’t liked by anyone- it’s just the only game in town.

    And- if you live in Dayton and don’t know what Teradata is- you’ve not been paying attention.

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  3. Gary December 17, 2010 / 1:34 pm
    Okay David, I did my homework!  Seems Miamisburg is the place to go for work, not Dayton!  With Lexis/Nexis, Teradata and the mall, etc.
    For a post request, What is wrong with our national government?  Seems it is more political than it is for the people — and is Dayton politics the same?  Will it always be that big money talks moreso than the citizens?

    Data Appliance, Data Warehouse, Business Intelligence –Teradata

    Teradata is a leading provider of powerful, enterprise analytic technologies and
    services that include Data Warehousing, Business Intelligence and CRM

    http://www.teradata.com/CachedSimilar

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  4. darius December 17, 2010 / 2:21 pm
    Seems it is more political than it is for the people


    I’d be curious to here what you think this means. I’m also curious to hear what you think if would mean for politicians to not be ‘political’. It’s pretty much a straightforward violation of the english language to demand that politicians not be political.

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  5. Steve December 17, 2010 / 2:51 pm
    Teradata makes 25 million per month in profits. I don’t think 500k is going to matter much to them. Word on the street is Netezza is going to leave them scrambling.

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  6. gary December 17, 2010 / 3:04 pm
    What I’m referring to on politics, Darius, is politics to me has turned into arguments, and personalities conflicts!  The matter at hand, like a bill, isn’t really being addressed IMO!  I’ve lost jobs because I’ve “spoken up!”
    I am sure there is some of this going on, like racism towards the President!

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  7. Stephen Lahanas December 17, 2010 / 3:50 pm
    Interesting thread – a couple of notes:
     
    1 – Teradata only has their headquarters in Miami Twp. – about 325 jobs, the other 2,000 or so are in India and elsewhere.
    2 – Teradata and Netezza have significantly different products even though both are related to data integration / warehousing.
    3 – Politicians who aren’t political – well, that’s a lot to expect, but not impossible. It would involve more people viewing it as public service as opposed to a career path – perhaps holding office and then returning back to their normal lives. And yes that is plausible – countless thousands of Americans had to leave their jobs to serve with the guard or reserves in the two wars we’ve been fighting for a decade – people who hold office could certainly make similar sacrifices for their community / country.

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  8. darius December 17, 2010 / 5:52 pm
    What I’m referring to on politics, Darius, is politics to me has turned into arguments

    Given that we live in a (quasi) democracy where people disagree very strongly about how we should be governed, it would be very strange indeed if our politicians didn’t have some strong disagreements–and arguments–about how and what government should do as well.

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  9. David Esrati December 18, 2010 / 3:31 pm

    @Gary Van Lee- I think this editorial from the NYT addresses some of the things you’ve sent me via e-mail:

    First, there was a widely spread housing bubble, not just in the United States, but in Ireland, Spain, and other countries as well. This bubble was inflated by irresponsible lending, made possible both by bank deregulation and the failure to extend regulation to “shadow banks,” which weren’t covered by traditional regulation but nonetheless engaged in banking activities and created bank-type risks.

    Then the bubble burst, with hugely disruptive consequences. It turned out that Wall Street had created a web of interconnection nobody understood, so that the failure of Lehman Brothers, a medium-size investment bank, could threaten to take down the whole world financial system.

    It’s a straightforward story, but a story that the Republican members of the commission don’t want told. Literally.

    via Wall Street Whitewash – NYTimes.com.

    Take a read.

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