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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