Monday, March 23, 2015

Speed or Safety?

My Comments on the Speed Safety Cameras in Dayton.

I have always supported the use of safety cameras in Dayton. I always called them Safety Cameras. The former City Manager would look at me and say “They are speed cameras.” My reply was "In the City they are Safety Cameras. In the country they are speed cameras."  Here is why I supported their use. First, watch this video of what happens at red lights.


Then realize that the average cost to society for an accident at an intersection where the cameras are placed is about $850. This includes ambulance and police costs as well as clean up. Nobody thinks of these costs whenever they receive a citation for their bad driving habits. They only think about the fact that they are being patrolled and not protected by our police department. The problem with the speed cameras and the red light cameras is that they were never marketed properly. They were put in place at the request of the police department to catch speeders and people who go through red lights so that they could be ticketed for violating traffic laws. The citations were sent out and you were presumed guilty and asked to pay a fine for wrong doing. You could fight the citation after paying the “fine” and the right to due process in this country is denied even though the penalty is considered a civil one and not a criminal one. No points are placed on your drivers license and no criminal penalty is imposed regardless how many citations you may get. Despite this, these cameras had a positive impact around the city. Accidents at dangerous intersections went down and the number of citations decreased over time as well. Their primary purpose is to actually change driving habits, not catch violators. So these cameras were never marketed as safety cameras but more like “Gotcha cameras.”

I have never received a "ticket" from these cameras but when I saw this article in the local paper I laughed. Instead of suing the state of Ohio to get our way, which is how most bureaucracies think when they don't get their way in the courts and brute force and tons of other people's money can be used, how about we change our marketing plan? What if we changed perceptions in this town. Let's leave the cameras up and use them as a public service to notify people that they should consider changing their driving habits while in Dayton. Let's set the speed cameras at 15 mph over the legal speed limit in the immediate area and announce that SAFETY cameras are in force. I believe that in Dayton they are currently set at 12 mph over the posted limit. I could be wrong but that is way higher than the 3 mph in some jurisdictions. Here is a picture of a sign used in England. It says it all though the words "SAFETY CAMERA" would help.

So, how about this concept? We (the City of Dayton) provide a notification/public safety service. If you “use” the service then you are expected to pay for that service. So, if you drive through an intersection where the cameras are in place and you trigger the camera, you get a nice polite letter in the mail indicating that you may wish to drive at a slower speed in future or not drive through a red light. The fee for the service is $30 and failure to pay will result in this being turned over to a collection agency. If you wish to unsubscribe from this service then you must drive within the 15 mph buffer zone and stop at red lights.

So, what does something like this do? It no longer shouts “Hey, we gotcha! Pay a fine.” It doesn't tell you how fast you were going. It doesn't say you are guilty of any violation. It says “We care about public safety including yours and we provide a notification service in an effort to change bad driving habits in Dayton.” It says that we know you or someone you lent your vehicle to were traveling at least 15 mph over the posted limit for that area and that is not acceptable for safety purposes. We aren't going to fine you but you are expected to pay for this billing notice and that fee is less than a fine if a police officer witnessed the incident. Thank you. I think more people would pay the "fee" than would pay a fine.

I would also like to add that if you receive numerous notifications and are then recorded causing an accident that requires police and EMS, you should be billed $850 for those services.

Why can't our civic leaders think beyond the box and solve problems versus wasting public money to sue in court?

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Let's Answer Some Questions.

Why are you running for County Commissioner?

When people in Dayton woke up the day after the primary election in May 2013, they were upset and confused. They were not upset at me. They did not understand how a mayoral primary is conducted in Dayton when an independent candidate is involved and there are more than two candidates. They were confused because they thought that an independent incumbent was automatically on the November ballot. Generally a primary is to elect a party representative to appear on the November ballot. This was not the case so hundreds of people asked me to stay involved.
In June 2013 I had heard from several reliable sources that the incumbent County Commissioner was not planning to run again for his seat in 2014. I was told that he was looking at another opportunity with a local development group that would pay him almost double his salary. I pulled petitions to run for the seat in July 2013. It made the local paper. Since I am an independent candidate, I was required to get 1852 valid signatures from registered voters in order to appear on the ballot. Party endorsed candidates require just 50 signatures. This meant that I would need around 3000 signatures in order to ensure validity. It also meant that I needed to start early. The incumbent did not express an interest in running for reelection until it was announced in December 2013. At the time of the announcement I had already collected 1000 signatures and was facing a May 5th deadline  to collect the remainder.

I am running for what I believed was an open seat. I am running because 2900 people signed my petition and believe in my vision. I am running because I know I can continue my success I had in Dayton to the county level. I am running because I am an independent who is not afraid to take calculated risks. Montgomery County needs an independent thinker, problem solver, a business minded spirit. We need to Kick It Up in Montgomery County. That is why I am running. That is why you need to vote for me on November 4th.

Gary Leitzell

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Super Event!

I have seven bottles of whiskey that I am donating to the cause. Two Jim Beam bottles from around 1985 that have not been opened. A bottle of Glenmorangie 10 that is from the 1990s. A bottle of Laphroaig 10 that I was given in 2003. A bottle of Makers 46, Old Grand Dad and Wild Turkey. $50 donations receive a food ticket and three drink tickets. Additional tickets can be purchased for an additional donation at the event while supplies last.

  Get Early Bird Tickets Here

Heads up. Drink supplies other than aged whiskey should be fine. The food must be finalized three days in advance so don't wait to get your tickets. If we exceed 50 Early Bird Tickets before the 15th then I can order more brisket.

Drink responsibly please!

Monday, September 8, 2014

Letter to the President

Several weeks ago there was a feeding frenzy by the local newspaper. They pitted Republican Congressman Mike Turner against Democratic Mayor Nan Whaley over the issue of immigration reform and the need to accommodate  illegal aliens under the age of 18 coming to the U.S. illegally. Rather than point fingers and name call, I sent a letter to the president proposing a very simple solution. That was to issue a North American Intercontinental Passport that grant Canadians, Mexicans and U.S. Citizens the ability to travel anywhere in North America and a system to permit working in adjacent countries. Charge an additional $20 for passports and use the money to secure, along with Mexico and Canada, the southern Mexico border which is a narrower border to patrol. I did get a reply. It is the typical political rhetoric that one would expect from a staff member to the White House but I wanted to share it with you. I also felt that you should know how I deal with problem solving. Instead of writing to complain about the comments an elected official makes publicly, I offer "out of the box" solutions. Would this work? Possibly. The real question is "What would it cost to try?"
Dear Gary:
Thank you for writing.  I am deeply concerned about the unaccompanied migrant children arriving at our border.  This is an urgent situation, and it underscores the need to drop the politics, respond quickly and effectively, and fix our broken immigration system once and for all.
My Administration continues to address this situation with an aggressive, coordinated Federal response on both sides of the border.  We’re making sure we have sufficient facilities to appropriately house and process those who cross our border illegally.  We’re also working with Central American leaders to publicize the dangers of the journey and to reinforce that apprehended migrants are ultimately returned to their home countries in keeping with the law.  However, it is our legal and moral obligation to treat unaccompanied children with care and compassion while they’re in our custody.  
Since the beginning of July, we have seen some initial signs of progress along our Southwest border—thanks in part to my Administration’s response.  We are not declaring victory, and we must continue our intensive efforts on both sides of the border.  We will keep taking aggressive steps to surge resources to our Southwest border, deter both adults and children from this dangerous journey, increase capacity for enforcement and removal proceedings, and quickly and safely return unlawful migrants who do not qualify for humanitarian relief to their home countries.  And I’ve asked Congress to provide the funding these efforts need.  
In the long run, though, the best way to truly address this problem is to fix our broken immigration system through comprehensive legislation like the bipartisan bill passed by the Senate last year.  It would have strengthened our border security, equipped us with better technology, and bolstered the resources and personnel vital for an efficient removal process—including additional Border Patrol agents, asylum officers, immigration judges, and access to legal counsel.  It would have also combated transnational crime and cracked down on criminal networks.
Again, I appreciate your perspective.  I am working diligently to bring an end to this situation, and we intend to do the right thing by these children.  But I have repeatedly made clear that parents need to know this is an incredibly dangerous situation, and they should not put their children in the hands of criminals.
Barack Obama

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Fund Raiser at the "Crack House"

Remember this from 2009?

Well, it is happening again. If you missed your chance 5 years ago, now is the time to catch up!

Gary Leitzell
For Montgomery County Commissioner

You are respectfully invited to a Pancake Breakfast at
“This Old Crack House.”

Enjoy homemade pancakes with delectable toppings.
View before/after photos of “This Old Crack House.”
Suggested donation: $15.00 per person
All proceeds and donations will go to “Friends of Gary Leitzell.”

Please RSVP or there won’t be enough pancakes for you!
(937) 253-1359 or
twitter @GaryLeitzell
Where: 114 Volkenand Ave., Dayton, OH 45410
(Across the street from Wayne Ave. Family Video)
Time: 10:00 am – 1:00 pm
Date: Sunday September 7, 2014

Paid for by Friends of Gary Leitzell
Dan Kennedy, treasurer, 525 Heiss Ave. Dayton, OH 45403

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Wagnernomics 101

I wanted to post this sooner but I had to attend the U.S. Conference of Mayors in Nevada to receive an outstanding achievement award for the City of Daytons "Welcome Dayton" initiative. One of the most recognized accomplishments of my term in office that started when I attended a Priority Board meeting in May 2010. The initiative has cost the City little money and has got the most widespread publicity. I make this comment because I understand that money does not equal desired results.
That being said, let us look at A.J. Wagner's financial reports and compare them to Nan Whaley's spending which was reported in the previous post.

A.J. Wagner raised $9,520 of his $78,442 from outside the region. That is 12% of his total. However, like the other Democratic party candidate, he spent most of his campaign funds OUTSIDE the region. Of the $96,678 spent on his campaign in cash spending, $63,194 was spent with businesses located outside of the Dayton area. I consider Yellow Springs and Xenia to be inside the area but not Columbus or Washington D.C. That is a total of 65%. His "in kind" donations totaled $5,100 and that was all derived from local contributors.

I would like to remind people that my $2,056 spent was all inside the city. It was all in kind donations from my own pocket.

I can not endorse ANY candidate that spends other peoples money with reckless regard to the outcome. For Nan to spend $264,000 of other people's money so that she can earn an extra $6,000 in salary is ludicrous. For A.J. to spend $102,000 for a part time job (that can consume as many as 60 hours or more per week if you let it) just does not make sense. One should NEVER have to spend more than one years salary to get elected. (In this case that is $45,000.) Like I stated in my last post, this proves that party affiliated candidates can not beat me, the independent statesman, on a level playing field. They knew it and were not willing to level it. Yet it is the Democratic party that cries out for campaign finance reform when Republicans run against them. Food for thought.

Look at the contributions to each candidate and pay close attention to the spending. In the November election  YOU have to pick the lessor of two puppets in this case. I say puppets and not liars or evils because I do not believe either candidate is truly evil and neither have directly lied to me. However both owe favors to contributors and one, way more than the other. You want a Mayor who represents YOU. You want commissioners who represent YOU. Seriously look at the independent candidates for commission because I can no longer be that representative and vote for the lessor puppet for mayor because I know that I will have an open door to City Hall in that case.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Nanonomics 101

There are some good things about losing the primary election last month. I get to say things the way they are. Not being a candidate in this race, I can point things out without being perceived as making attacks on the other candidates.
Last September I issued a spending limit challenge for the Mayor's race. The limit was $10,000 cash and $10,000 "in kind" to known entities and $20,000 cash and $10,000 "in kind" for unknown candidates. Realize that the Mayor of Dayton is paid $45,000 for a part time job. I believe that in any election you should not have to spend more than one years salary to get elected. I was willing to spend less than that. It was a marketing ploy. Had the two challengers accepted then we would have all received national publicity and could have worked together to promote Dayton to the nation. It would have been the first time three politicians would have agreed to limit spending, level the playing field and win on our own merit without big money playing a part. Neither of the two Democratic candidates accepted the challenge. It proved to me that neither could win on a level playing field.

Nan Whaley won the primary. It is nothing to be proud of. She got 5027 votes. Mostly from party line Democrats. It cost her $264,000 to get those votes. Over $52.00 per vote. There are some statistics that you need to be aware of so that you can make an informed decision in November. I looked over her financial disclosure forms from end of year 2012 and the pre and post primary reports to determine how much money was contributed locally and how much was expended locally. After all, she totes how she supports the region and how she can help it grow.

285 donations out of 730 total were from outside the region. That is 39%. Of the $169,384 that those 730 people or entities contributed, $89,181 was from outside the region. That is 52.6%. Her "in kind" donations totaled $43,032 and of that, $42,592 came from outside the region. Mostly from Columbus, Ohio for a total of 98.9%.

Much of her money came from outside the state of Ohio. Some from Washington D.C. and some from New York. She held fundraising events in Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus and in Indiana. One should be asking why money for a non partisan local election needs to come from outside the region.

Now I think that it is great that she was able to bring over $89,000 to the local area from other places. It could be used to boost the local economy. However that was not the case. Of the $212,767 dollars that she spent on her campaign, $196,843 or 92.5% of the total was spent OUTSIDE the region!

This woman is not going to bring jobs to Dayton. She is not supporting local workers. She says she will but her actions speak louder than words. The unions are supporting her but she is NOT supporting them. If these numbers were other than they are I would be offering praise. Unfortunately they disgust me. You can view the reports for yourself here

By the way, I will analyze A.J. Wagner's reports next. I do not know what to expect at this time. As for me, I spent $2056 of my own money and got 2363 votes, that is 87 cents per vote. Nan and A.J. have a little over $3,000 each left after the carnage. I wonder how much each will be able to raise and spend before November.

Nan boasted to someone that I know that she "creamed" me in this election. I spent less than 1% of her total. The people being creamed are her donors and the people drinking her kool-aide. They are the real losers in this election because their ultimate disappointment will lead to anger.

In warfare this is called a Pyrrhic victory.   (A Pyrrhic victory is a victory with such a devastating cost that it carries the implication that another such victory will ultimately lead to defeat. Someone who wins a Pyrrhic victory has been victorious in some way; however, the heavy toll negates any sense of achievement or profit. A "Pyrrhic victory" can also mean a false or temporary victory where a win entails a loss subsequently or in the bigger picture.)

 Remember, Karma always wins in the end ........

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Primary? There was a primary?

What happened on May 7th? People didn't know that they should vote, that is what happened. For whatever reason, be it apathy, complacency or ignorance of process, people did not come out and vote on election day. The result was that I received only 2363 votes out of 9985 that were cast. That means that 7622 loyal, party line voting democrats came out to vote for the democratic party candidates. Some 5027 voted for Nan Whaley and 2595 voted for A.J. Wagner.

I personally know thirty people who supported me but did not vote. Some even had my signs in their yard! The assumption was by many that since I was the incumbent and an independent, that I would automatically be on the ballot for November. Some people even voted for the candidate that they wanted to run against me in November, not realizing that by doing so they were eliminating me in this run off election. There are a lot of things that I can fix but I can not fix this.

It is what it is and now there are a lot of angry people. People should be angry because angry people come out and vote. How do I feel? It is disappointing that people do not understand what just happened. I am sure many people just don't care. I am not bitter though. I have achieved more in less than 4 years than others have achieved in 20 years. I get to leave with my head held high and with a successful track record that is not marred by any controversy. What a legacy!

How can you help? It is imperative that no single party controls the city commission. If it does then bad things can get covered up. You have to vote for the two independent commission candidates. You have to vote for the two Davids (Just think of David vs. Goliath). Learn about them at and support them in any way you can. You must vote for these two men otherwise Dayton will be in trouble.

In my next few posts I will analyze the campaign spending so the citizens know what they are getting. It is not reassuring for the future of my city.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

State of the City Address May 2, 2013

Good evening.

It is great to be here with you at the Ahiska American Turkish Community Center of Dayton. This “Welcome Center” is another great Dayton success story, and I would like to thank Islom Shakhbandarov and the Ahiska community for hosting us this evening.
The grand opening of this facility as the AATCC was November 30, 2012, just two years and six months after my first encounter with our Russian refugee population. This center represents the hope and promise that Dayton continues to offer.

I would also like to welcome our guests, Montgomery county Commissioners (name those present) and acknowledge the following elected officials who are also present. (name them)

Last year when we met at Belmont High School, I reviewed the events of 2011 and put them in context with five basic facts laid out in my first State of the City address. Those facts were:
#1 "We are on our own." #2: Dayton must reinvent itself to survive and thrive. #3: If we’re going to get anything done, we need to work together. #4: Dayton is evolving and #5: Dayton will prosper.

So tonight, I want to go over the events of 2012 and review the last three years as a whole so everyone knows just how far we have come in such a short amount of time—In the wake of the most severe recession (since the Great Depression).

Today, in Dayton, we are still very much on our own. State and federal funds continue to be slashed, forcing us more than ever to be self reliant. However, we have been able to provide basic services without any severe cuts in staffing as we have seen in previous administrations.

We have been actively recruiting new police officers, firefighters and paramedics and have not had to cut out our sponsorship of festivals or the summer fireworks display. In fact, for a second year in a row, we ended with a budget surplus and just as with the 2011 surplus we are able to apply the dollars to technology, blight removal, building maintenance and infrastructure. We are able to use some of this money to remove burned out buildings from the streetscape that have previously never qualified for federal or state funds because the neighborhoods in which they are located do not meet the required guidelines.

Because of this ongoing success,
I would like to take this opportunity to thank and acknowledge Dayton City Manager Tim Riordan for all of his hard work and financial wisdom over the last few years. Tim, thanks to you and your hard-working staff, for keeping us on the straight and narrow road to a prosperous future.

I have spoken in the last two years of our need to reinvent ourselves. After all, without creativity we cannot prosper. So let us look at just a few of our creative solutions that have proven successful in 2012.

We can start with some of the big things. This facility that we are in is a huge accomplishment when you consider the alternative. A city owned facility becomes mothballed as a result of budget cuts only to be acquired by several generations of New Americans who can teach generations of old Americans what community is all about. This is absolute proof that our “Welcome Dayton” plan is working and if you need more evidence just consider this: In 2010 the Ahiskan population in Dayton was 150 families. In May 2012 it was around 300 families, and today it is in excess of 450 families. Facilitating the success of a group of people has inspired them to repopulate what was considered a dying city just four years ago. They are not only repopulating it. They are transforming neighborhoods.

I’d like to acknowledge Mr. Islom Shakhbandarov of the Ahiska American Turkish Community Center for working with and assisting the more than 450 Ahiska Turkish families that now call Dayton home. Islom, your leadership and love for America is truly inspiring and we could not have done this without you. You are truly a Dayton Original and I thank you for being a friend.

I attend the naturalization ceremonies every month in Dayton. We have so many new American citizens being naturalized that there are now two ceremonies some months this year. The numbers have grown over the last few years. From Jan.22, 2010 to April 18, 2013, 2,459 new Americans from 25 or more countries have been sworn in at the Montgomery County Courthouse in downtown Dayton, many of them residing in the city. (An average of 50 new citizens a month for 3 years.)
The site of our 2012 “State of the City Address”, Belmont High School, made history during their class of 2012 commencement last May with 2 valedictorians of 2 different immigrant communities Africa and Mexico, reflecting the generational changes in our city.

This is yet more evidence that “Welcome Dayton” is working. The fact that the city of Cincinnati just adopted a similar plan also proves that Dayton remains a leader in innovation.

Last year, Forbes magazine listed Dayton as the “Happiest City to work in,” the third best city in the U.S. for increasing home prices and the “Most Affordable city in America.” Four years ago, this same magazine referred to us as a “Dying City”. We are also ranked third best in the United States for job opportunities. It seems that the tide has really turned in the last three years. Dayton is on more top ten lists than bottom ten lists.

The Dayton Metro Library got a bond issue passed on last November’s ballot that grants them some $187 million to “re-invent” the library system and design one for the next several decades. This is huge for Dayton. It is huge for the region and it opens the door to opportunities that may not have previously been considered or investigated. I look forward to seeing their plans develop and the changes this will bring.

Another huge accomplishment in 2012 was the announcement that $4 million had been raised from the private sector for the kayaking feature to be built at RiverScape in 2014. Dr. Mike Ervin was the champion for this and deserves an awful lot of credit for making it come to fruition. Kindred Hospital completed its renovations and opened their doors for business. I want to acknowledge the Fifth Street Brewpub in historic St. Anne’s Hill for launching their membership drive and building a community asset from scratch. Now with over 1700 members, they are the fastest growing brew pub co-op in the nation—yet another Dayton Original to be copied and emulated by others. The city took a chance on itself and launched a self insured medical plan for its employees producing favorable results that will save the city money in the long term. The city of Dayton received the coveted ISO 9001 certification for its Finance Department customer service operations, the first city to ever achieve such an acknowledgment.
Key Ads has relocated to a downtown location, acquiring a building that had sat empty for many years and transforming it into something spectacular.

Now lets us consider some other significant things that don’t get as much attention but have an impact on people’s lives.
Dayton is continuing to be a progressive and culture current community.
We implemented a domestic partner registry to show that we believe in treating all citizens fairly.
On the more technical and social front, social media use has opened lines of communication never before fathomed. “Likes” on the City of Dayton’s Facebook page went from 1,000 in 2010 to over 18,500 today. This means we can communicate with thousands of citizens with the click of a mouse for FREE.
There is now an outdoor market during the summer which has impacted the lives of a few Daytonians by granting them an opportunity to try their hands at a small business. We found a creative solution to deal with roadside panhandling, which had been giving our city a poor first impression to visitors.

Some of our additional successes include the imminent launch of the Hollywood Dayton Racino in north Dayton and the nearly complete GE Aviation research center at the University of Dayton.
One of Dayton’s long-time businesses is renewing itself with a major investment in downtown Dayton. White Allen is set to launch construction of a new Honda Store and to refurbish other buildings along North Main Street. This $10 million investment in White Allen’s future will bring a new and exciting gateway to downtown.

Establishing 3 year contracts with our unions went a long way towards stabilizing the City budget. It’s interesting that none of these things that I have mentioned were happening before 2010. In fact I have a list of 83 things, some large, some small that have transpired since 2010 and have all contributed in some way, shape or form to the Dayton Renaissance that we are experiencing. This renaissance has velocity, and we are going to experience a myriad of new things in the coming months because people who care about their community, people who care about their city are coming out and doing things that make a difference.
The biggest complaint that I get these days is that there is too much to do. It is a good problem to have and one that I hope does not go away.

For the last two years I made it clear that if we were going to get anything done we needed to put aside political differences and work together. And, I am happy to say, we have continued to do an excellent job at working together for the benefit of our citizens.

I commend all city employees and the Commission for working together in 2012 to provide services and create the progress that we are experiencing. We all get along and agree on most things, and we agree to disagree on others. But even in times of disagreement, there are no sparks or fireworks on the second floor at city hall. None that I have witnessed anyway. I know this disappoints certain members of the media.

Dayton is evolving but we all know evolution takes a long time. Nothing that is sustainable happens too quickly. But we the citizens don’t have two to five years to sit around and hope for results. We need implementable solutions now that produce a result. For example, we know that education will be important to the future of the region. The “Learn to Earn” plan developed as a countywide initiative is being implemented, but while it has promise, it is a long term plan that won’t produce results for more than a decade. In the meantime, we need to to address the countless highly sophisticated jobs that exist here in Dayton and remain unfilled because we do not have people locally to fill the positions. Better and more consistent marketing of Dayton at a national level would go a lot further to solve the issue of unfilled jobs a whole lot sooner than a long term education plan ever will.
There is nothing wrong with the planning but we need to take action and get results while the plan is taking shape.

Our housing stock will never get fixed by just making plans. Plans will determine what projects and locations are the best ones to support with tax money but plans will not fix the majority of houses in the city. Increased enforcement and fining irresponsible people isn’t enough either. Developing a process that gets the toxic properties into the hands of responsible citizens quickly is the ultimate answer. That is the real challenge that must be addressed and we need to be willing to try several means in order to find the few that will work best.

Recycling is working. Not only does it save the taxpayer money, make sense and reduce waste, the citizens actually like doing it. Citizens regularly comment on the fact that their recycle bins are filling up quicker than their garbage dumpsters, some even calling the collection department to request a second recycling bin. Happy customers are the dream of every company. In Dayton we are growing our base of happy customers. Sometimes I have to repeat myself in order to get the right people to hear. Last year I posed this question;
Why not form a coalition of municipalities and institutions that supplies 3000 tons of recyclables to recycling companies and have them pay us for the materials? Could the revenue generated be used for environmentally friendly economic development incentives instead of tax payer dollars?
Beyond the fiscal picture, we are focused on the global picture. Education, resources and new programs are rolled out within Dayton Public Schools and require citizen engagement. Programs such as composting classes and the city’s green landfill are becoming popular within the city. Daytonians are taking the lead, changing their back yards to change the earth.

There are some who say that our Priority Board system is broken and needs to be removed. I don’t agree with removal. Priority Boards do need to evolve, and we need to help them. “WE” being not just city government but also “YOU” the community. Not just the residents, but also the businesses. An organized business association goes a long way toward helping a neighborhood take pride in itself. Educating citizens on how to establish business associations and neighborhood block clubs or associations can be a function of these boards. Organizing community events in neighborhoods that currently have none will help to grow those neighborhoods.

We are lacking one of the very fundamental things that made Dayton special before the 1980s—a sense of community. In bygone days, people sat on porches and talked to their neighbors. Shared meals and stories. This was lost with the advent of air conditioning, followed by cable TV. Then Nintendo, computer games and now hand held tablet devices with all their apps, YouTube videos and distractions. How many people these days actually know who their neighbors are? How many actually talk to them?

If we want to evolve as a city then we have to master the eons old art of communication that has disappeared from American culture in the last 40 years. Ask yourself how many people “Tweet” or text messages to people on the other side of a room? If we cannot have real conversations about real problems then we will cease evolving and soon everything will be decided by computers taking on the personality of the people who programmed them. Just as we urge people to “Get out and vote” every year. We need to challenge people to “Get out and promote” relationships. Relationships with their neighbors, relationships with local businesses and relationships with other citizens who we can agree to disagree with. People make a community, people make a city and people need to be more involved in their community.

The Dayton renaissance is happening. And I repeat, this renaissance has velocity and it leads me to the fifth point that I make every year at these speeches--Dayton will prosper. Four short years ago I doubt that anyone would ever believe that a so called “dying city” could turn around so quickly during a recession. How could this ever be possible? Again it goes back to the people who call themselves Daytonians. Daytonians are a special group. They know when kindness is needed. They know when to question things that don’t seem right and they know when drastic change is needed. Dayton is not only the “city of inventors” but the city of “re-inventors.” This city continues to be built on the currency of kindness and generosity, networking ideas with people sharing time, resources, skills and talent.

So how do we continue to prosper? That is easy. Without creativity, we will not prosper. Without creativity we stagnate and we flounder. Without new ideas and new ways to solve age old problems we cannot and will not move forward. Creativity is the new prosperity in Dayton. Let us consider some of the new businesses that have grown or opened in Dayton during the last 12 months. Beside Caresource expanding and creating more jobs downtown, we have seen development along Brown Street completed with a host of new establishments such as Day Yoga, Shish Wraps, Boogies Green Machines and more.

More businesses are considering Dayton, like PECo, which is looking at a unique opportunity on McCall Street, and MidMark, which recently announced their intent to occupy space at UD’s River Campus, the former NCR Headquarters.

The face of Dayton’s arts, recreation and entertainment districts is constantly changing and improving, providing more fun for our community and our visitors.
The Pop-Up shop concept has been a success with more businesses succeeding than failing.
We expect two more openings this year with “Green Baby” and “Peace Pilates” opening before “Urban Nights” on May 10th.
We will see Agnes All Natural Grill soon and Al's Smokehouse and Cafe is already up and running in Downtown. New taverns will be opening with Toxic Brew, Riff Raff Bar. It seems that some businesses fail and others succeed and expand every day but in Dayton the buildings no longer remain empty for so long.
We are seeing new businesses being spawned by established popular businesses. Soon The Barrel House will join the success of Olive Urban Dive. The Mendenhall Family will expand the success of Blind Bobs across 5th. Street with the opening of their new restaurant Lily’s Bistro. Entrepreneurs and nationally renowned foodies are re-inventing the old Sidebar restaurant with the opening of Salar. Coco’s has moved within the city and expanded, making way for the popular Medowlark restaurant to bring Wheat Penny to Wayne Avenue. The expansion of the Roost family into the Dayton Art Institute with Leo’s Bistro has added to the experience of a visit to arts exhibits and creative events, making daily use of an under used space.
Food trucks are generating revenue and partnering with other venues and making a creative alternative with their street presence during special events.
Pizza Factory & South Park Tavern now count the iconic Canal Street Tavern as part of their family, giving new security to the future of one of the city’s most prized cornerstones of music. The Rubi Girls have found a new permanent stage and club house to call their own, so they can continue their tradition of benefit performances to assist non-profit organizations in the area.
Arts partnerships such as the one newly formed between CityFolk and the Dayton Art Institute will keep the tradition of this vital program building community through culture. These are a few examples of the relationships between neighbors and businesses building and reinventing our city. There are others on the horizon, and let us not forget the historic brewery at Carillon Historic Park which has seen a major transformation under the guidance of Brady Kress these last few years.

We are seeing more public art on our streetscape. The donation of “Fluid Dynamics” by Bill Pflaum now installed along Patterson Blvd will draw attention to the placement of new sculpture in Dayton. The wall being painted along the railway at 32 Webster Street and the murals under the bridge at Webster and Third are changing the dynamic of the area.

All of these and many others show that private interests are investing in Dayton today at a rate that we have not seen in many years. And, very importantly, young people are creating businesses and contributing through volunteerism in numbers we have not seen in decades. Ask anyone who really knows downtown Dayton – the vibe has changed, we are getting our “pulse” back.

Take it from me, Dayton is prospering and it will continue to do so as long as we the people continue to support creative, independent thinkers in their missions. We need to continue to challenge ourselves and seek out and support the ones who will do the work, not just talk about it or plan it.

I said this last year and I will say it again this year;
Ladies and gentlemen, this is a critical time in Dayton’s history. In three years, we have gone from being called a “dying city” to being a city recognized nationally and even internationally for reinventing itself. We accomplished that by working together, being open to new ideas and not letting party politics and egos blind us to what needs to be done. If we are to continue to transform Dayton into a model city of 21st century innovation, it will only happen by maintaining our present course – because it’s working. Are things perfect? No. Are things improving as quickly as we would like them to? No. They never do. But they are changing. And Dayton is better for it.

I am Dayton’s Mayor, ladies and gentlemen, but you are the leaders. You are the ones who run this city. You are the taxpayers who help keep police on the streets and our roads safe to drive upon. You are the business owners and entrepreneurs who create jobs. You are the ones who are driving the resurgence and renaissance of Dayton, Ohio, and I thank you for all your hard work. Your creativity, your spirit and your devotion to this community are bringing Dayton back to life and making it better than ever. By working together we are building a new Dayton, one that can be a model 21st century city. Let’s continue to move forward and continue to make Dayton what we know it can be and should be.

Thank you and God bless.