When there is no leadership- form a committee

Debate used to be something that was valued in America. Lincoln vs. Douglas was a pivotal point in American history that captured the country’s attention. JFK was more telegenic than Nixon and from then on, it became less and less about the power of ideas, but a pandering to the majority. Debate focuses ideas, especially between leaders, it clarifies their positions.

In Dayton, we fear confrontation more than failure. Asking questions is more likely to get you branded as a gadfly or radical extremist. To be heard, one must be part of a herd (as former assistant city manager Paul Woodie once told me). So, as I sit contemplating the “Young Creative Summit” being held – I wonder, what kind of debates will start tomorrow at this group hug?

The description reads:

On April 18th young creatives will have a louder voice in our region. The Young Creatives Summit will offer young creative people like you a chance to make a difference in the future of our city – and the power to help transform Dayton into a better place to live, work and play.

The summit will feature a town hall type forum for you and your peers to air both your needs and concerns for the region. Dayton’s many stakeholders will be there – businesses, non-profits, universities and elected officials – so they can hear what you have to say. The summit will culminate in an action plan for the future of Dayton.

via Young Creatives Summit – Register NOW!! :: updayton..

I wonder, are the “young creatives” not stakeholders too? Will telling the stakeholders that they’ve failed make a difference at all? If the YC says- we need less fiefdoms and a more powerful king- will all the feudal serfs give up their modicums of power for the greater good? This debate over Regionalism and UniGov has been going on since the sixties- what’s going to change the power structure now?

The ideas have been put forward before- and little has changed. CityVision 20/20 was a process I took part in back in 1999 or so. I still have the report- gathering dust on my shelf just as it did for those in power.

The same thinking is going on at MVRPC:

“If we get 1,000 people to come to workshops, nothing will change,” (Martin) Kim (of MVRPC) said. “But if we can capture people’s interest and get something like a majority into the process, we can dramatically change the future.”

via James Cummings: Group wants your view on region’s future.

Even if the ideas are grand, where will the money come from to implement them? With tax collections and property values decreasing, there is already a shortage of funds for existing services and infrastructure.

Asking for answers is great- however the test requires implementation- preferably, before the Young Creatives are no longer young.

Before the powers that be even begin to ask for change, the real question is who among them is going to take charge to implement the ideas that are generated at the session, and if they fail to do so- will accept not only the responsibility but consequences for their inaction.

Once we know that there is someone willing to lead, then maybe we can actually do something- other than form another committee.

One of my favorite quotes from Ross Perot is appropriate here:

[Contrasting the corporate cultures of his former company, EDS, and General Motors, which had acquired EDS:]
“The first EDSer to see a snake kills it. At GM, 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.”
Quoted in Business Week, 6 Oct. 1986.

I’m tired of talking about things in Dayton. It’s time to do them- and just skip the summits.

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6 Responses

  1. Bill April 18, 2009 / 10:17 am
    We have arrived!
    After “riding on the coat tails of success” which began in the early 1900’s, we have managed, or micro-managed our beautiful city from a “destination of arrival”, to one of the worst cities in the United States.
    We no longer have the privilege of calling on the company of the Wrights, Pattersons, Meads, Ketterings, Stoddards, and many others too numerous to mention.
    We are severely lacking in passion, vision, and creativity in our leadership. It  is essential to rid ourselves of the archaic leadership of the past, and replace them with a leaders of vision and passion.
    Lets get back to the basics folks.
    If we continue what we have  always done, we will get what we have always gotten.(or maybe less…)
    Our city officials must get their hands out of the “coffers”. Protectionism cannot be tolerated within local government.
    We must rid ourselves of “self interest” politics.(or atleast be wise enough to recognize it)
  2. Jeff April 18, 2009 / 4:25 pm
    I havn’t paid much attention to the young creatives thing as I am neither young nor creative. 

    An interesting question about that summit is if people participating were over 35?  Over 40?

    If so, why were they there?  If they were there they need to be listening not talking.

    The MVRPC exercise is pointless.   The agency has no power to control land use.  Their primary charter is to act as a clearning house for federal funds and do transportation planning, so I wonder why they bother with land use things, unless it’s to forecast highway demand.

  3. David Esrati April 18, 2009 / 5:15 pm

    @Bill- do I pass muster as a leader of vision and passion?
    @Jeff- There were people over 35 and over 40- mostly sent by organizations that had a hand in it.
    It would have been hard to listen- the “Town Hall” had no discussion- just an automatic voting/weighting system. Took 2 hours to winnow down to 4 projects- post coming soon.

  4. Jeff April 18, 2009 / 6:58 pm
    Ah, OK. My thought is that if this was to surface ideas and preferences of the young adult, or specfically the young professional-creative demographic things could be skewed if a bunch of midddle aged folks come in and kibbitz the event.
  5. jstults March 18, 2010 / 2:59 pm
    On April 18th young creatives will have a louder voice in our region.

    You need to ask permission to have a voice, make sure you only use the one we give you on the 16th of April, also be sure to stay for cocktails afterwards your throat will probably be parched after voicing all afternoon.

    …Wrights, Pattersons, Meads, Ketterings, Stoddards, and many others too numerous to mention…

    I wonder if those folks asked anyone for permission to speak up, or better yet, to do something?

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