Fire for hire; the new public services

I read a rather dry account of the last Union, Ohio city council meeting in the Dayton Daily News this morning. Nobody goes to these things and fewer people read the articles recapping them. But maybe we should start paying more attention. (I looked for the article online and could not find it, so I scanned it here and will replace with a link when it gets posted.)

Here is why we should start paying attention.

Fire and police departments are receiving less tax revenue and are set to receive even less for salaries when bills like SB 5 pass. But they are still expected to be on the other end of a 911 call. (I think the City of Englewood has a EMS charge, but not fire.) It appears the City of Union would charge for police, fire and EMS services; first to your insurance company and if they don’t pay, to you.

I understand subrogation and why sometimes it is necessary. But when someone calls 911, the last thing they should be thinking is; “Can I afford this call?” If their house burns down, and they are insured, the insurance company will replace it. If their house catches fire, the fire department comes out, and the insurance company will pay for repairs but not fire services, the homeowner could end up paying a whole lot more than the house is worth in fire-fighting fees.

I think the last thing we need is for a family to be sitting on the front lawn with a calculator, estimating how much a 911 call is going to cost and whether or not it is worth it.

In truth, though, what these laws will eventually do is increase insurance costs. The insurance companies will spread out the risk for everyone, charging people who live in Zip Code 45322 a bit more of course. And since insurance in America is a for-profit game, these additional fees will include the profit expectation a publicly-held company demands. These are also post-tax dollars, so they are about 33% more expensive than an income tax assessment would be to cover the additional cost of fire-fighting services for a community.

Government cuts are always nice, but when your income tax tax bill is cut and your total cost of citizenship rises, where is the savings to the citizens? It’s like buying a really cheap printer but paying hundreds of dollars a year in ink cartridges. Or a really cheap car that costs you the retail prices in repairs every two years. Or buying cheap processed food and paying more than quadruple in medical insurance premiums because your BMI is out of whack (assuming you carry insurance.)

Subrogation for essential emergency services is a very slippery slope. I know that the proposed ordinance is limited to “at-fault” incidents. Anyone who has ever been in an accident knows that at-fault is almost never a 100/0% split. In most instances, you are partially at fault simply because you were on the road. Clearly, if your house was not there, there would be nothing to burn.

Once you crack the door, it is easier to fling open wide.

I wonder what other public service will be next?

When the City of Englewood “saved” a million dollars.
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Passing on the magic

I was dropping off a friend at the airport early yesterday morning. As I was coming back to the parking garage, I had to cross the street and go through these large glass sliding doors.

I have gotten into the habit of waving my hand in front of me like Dumbledore in a Harry Potter movie to open automatic doors. My kids have grown tired of this gesture and think it is lame. Now, I think I do it just to annoy them, but it has become a silly almost involuntary habit.

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Public employees and teachers are parasites

Something is happening to our culture. The public employees who plow our streets, mow the lawns at our libraries, dig our ditches, snake out the gunk from our sewers and teach our kids how to read are becoming parasites on our economy. Their unreasonable demands for fair wages and benefits are killing jobs for you and me. We need to rise up, grab our pitchforks and torches, haul them from their houses and strip away their ill-gotten gains.

Or so a growing number of Republican governors and lawmakers would like us to believe, most recently, Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin. Joe Scarborough of Morning Joe said today that the public employees are being unreasonable by not caving into the demands, citing the States are “out of money” and that the private sector is making sacrifices so the public employees should too.

Only shouldn’t we be asking why the private sector has to make sacrifices to the tune of 10% unemployment, increased foreclosures, home values underwater, increased benefits cuts and wage freezes while large corporations have record profit years? Shouldn’t that be the real question?

We should not be seeking to lower public sector jobs to the level of private sector jobs, but seek ways of increasing the private sector to what the public sector now has that the governor is seeking to strip away. Once the protections are gone, it is just a matter of time before everyone sinks further down together.

How unskilled and underpaid do you want YOUR kid’s teacher?

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If money were no object, here is what I would gift to you #letsblogoff

First, I would buy health care for everyone who was willing to take care of themselves. If you don’t have health, you have nothing. Then I would buy an education for everyone willing to learn. Educated people influence others around them to want to learn. Lastly, I would buy a home for anyone who is homeless and wanted one. Everyone should have some place to call home.

Then I would figure out how to save time in a bottle and give it to all the writers and artists who left works unfinished. The world is a poorer place without artists and the art they create. Most often, they just need more time.

And I would create bottles of compassion, wisdom and patience to give freely to those who need each. Because there is no such thing as a self-made man and those who think they are need to be reminded from time to time.

Happy Holidays from Rufus, Sallie, Charlie and our intern Zoey. We wish you and yours lots of cold noses and many long, pointless walks.

This blog post is part of a blog-off series with a group of bloggers from different professions and world views, each exploring a theme from his/her world view. This was about “if money were no object, what would you gift.” To explore how others handled the theme, check them out below. I will add links as they publish.

Local is everything

My favorite comedian is Ron White and not because he is the funniest guy around, but because he hands me lines like “You can’t fix stupid” and “I told you that story to tell you this…” among others. Try them out in conversation; they work.

Anyway, during one of his rants on stage where he drinks, smokes and talks, he tells the audience he has a bulldog named Sluggo and because of that, he says people think he is a dog person. His retort is, and I am paraphrasing, “I care about my dog, I don’t care about yours.”

Without knowing it, he has handed the world the best marketing mantra ever. I don’t care if McDonalds sells over 43 billion hamburgers; I only care about the one I just ordered. I don’t care if a soccer tournament has successfully managed the scores of over 900 games in a period of two days; I only care about my team’s scores being correct. I don’t care whether or not Apple has sold over $1 million iPhones in a day; they didn’t have one in stock when I went to buy one at the Mall of America early on a Monday morning.

Nobody cares that your Web site serves up jobs across the country. Do you list a job in their city, in their neighborhood, in their industry. This is why Craig’s List is so successful; they understand that to dominate the world, you must dominate neighborhoods, one block at a time.

If you are not local, you are everywhere and nowhere all at the same time. And now I have to go dominate some bushes at the house on the corner. Tony, you know I’m talking about you 😉

#140conf Road Trip in Dayton, Ohio – Photos and video

Jeff Pulver of 140Conf poses with Gary Leitzell, the Mayor of Dayton at the Dayton Road Trip meet up for the 140conf.

When we arrived at Blind Bob’s for the 140conf Road Trip Meet Up, there were already a dozen people there, waiting for and watching Jeff Pulver and his “roadies” navigate the Ohio freeway system. When Jeff arrived we had over twenty people there and more on the way. Apparently, this was a very large crowd, so we’re very proud of our Dayton peeps!

Gary Leitzell, the Mayor of Dayton (the REAL mayor, not the fake one on Foursquare) joined us early and stayed almost the whole time until his official duties as Grand Marshall of the Ale Fest kick-off parade pulled him away. We can now claim another “first” in a long list of firsts for Dayton, Ohio; the first mayor to join an official Tweet Up! Dayton, first in flight; first in Social Media!

We’ll be publishing the more “official” story in the next couple of days, but for now, we have a ton of photos and some video. Cindy DeVelvis also shot some really cool footage that will be available soon. Links here when that is online.

To download all the photos, grab the zip file here.

And some videos…

We got Jeff Pulver #140conf Road Trip – Dayton, Ohio

Come join us at Blind Bob’s in the Oregon District for the social media event of the year. Jeff Pulver will be stopping in Dayton on Sunday, August 22 from 3 – 5pm to mix it up with the most fun group of awesome Daytonians (and a few from the surrounding area, but we’ll deputize them for the day!)

For complete information, including the list of people going and directions, click here. And when you get there and find that the most exciting person you know won’t be there, it’s only because you haven’t sign up yet! Really, awesome you.

There will be lots of video and photos shot courtesy of Michael Blackwell of DryRainMedia. So, comb your hair, put on a clean shirt and get down to Blind Bob’s.

Read the press release here

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Me and the mayor, part two

Way back in May, I blogged about how me and Gary Leitzell, the Mayor of Dayton, became best buds. And I realize that in all the excitement of making a new best friend, I forgot to follow up and tell everyone how it went. So, several months later, here goes.

By the way, if you have not already signed up for the Dayton 140conf Meet Up on Aug 22, do it now. I’ll wait. (I figured I’d drag you in first, then hit you up. Clever, eh?)

Ok, so here is how it all went down.

We exchanged available dates and agreed to Friday, May 28 at the Smokin’ BBQ in the Oregon District. As the date approached, I got a little anxious that no other exchange had taken place, so I was a bit unsure if Gary was going to show or not. I almost didn’t go myself. But I did.

I got there a bit early and ordered. Lt. Larry Faulkner of the Dayton Police was there as well, probably on an advance mission to check me out to make sure I wasn’t some nutjob. (I am, but apparently didn’t look it 🙂 )

As I was eating my BBQ (sliced brisket, smoked bologna for the dogs) and settling into my Kindle, Gary comes strolling along down Fifth. We wave through the glass and him, Larry and I had a nice lunch.

We talked about Dayton and how we could bring some passion back for the city. We talked about the media and some politics in general. But mostly we talked about everyday things, like his kids and the family of cats that had moved into his home.

And that next Monday, Gary and I became friends on Facebook. And perhaps this is the small start of a connection with city government that doesn’t feel like a heartless, soulless cog in a larger machine.

How are you reaching out to your local government?

Local Northmont grad plays his first hometown concert

If Austin Hicks has his way you will soon be hearing and seeing a lot of this up-and-coming Country music performer.

The 19-year-old Northmont High School graduate is literally “jumping through the hoops,” doing what it takes to make his way in the world of Country music. That includes hiring an agency to market his music, and moving his base of music operations to the “heart” of Country music — Nashville, Tenn.

Playing his first concert in his hometown of Englewood Sat., May 8, Hicks is trying to make a name for himself locally and nationally.

“This is my dream,” Hicks said during the May 8 concert at Walgreens in Englewood, “It is nice to share my music with the people I grew up with.”

Having released his self-titled album in the fall of 2009, Hicks has seen his dream grow from just being a novice in the business as a high school senior, to being on the cusp of having national radio airplay if the single I Still Pledge Allegiance, a song he penned which is on his debut album.

Hicks recorded that album at Junction Recording Studio in Nashville, Tenn.

“So much is about to take place,” Hicks said.

Signing with the musical agency will help get I Still Pledge Allegiance to about 1,600 Country music radio stations in the United States.

The song, according to his website, www.austinhicks.net, honors “The flag and the men and women who fight to defend it.” Fire Dancer, also off his debut album, has already received radio airplay.

Hicks has seen his concert schedule grow from about 75 dates in 2009 to between 125 and 150 dates in 2010. A national tour is planned for 2010-2011.He has some heavy credentials as well, having opened for the legendary Charlie Daniels in Tampa, Fla.

Still Hicks is staying true to his Christian roots. At the age of three he was touring with his parents Rich and Cavil Hicks, Southern Gospel singers in their own right.
“I grew up singing in church and at local places with my parents,” he said.
“God has opened up so many doors, it is amazing what doors He has opened up,” Hicks added.

Still he may not have ever formed the Rattlesnake River Band, which accompanies him, if his high school football career had blossomed.

“I was very active in sports in high school,” the former Northmont Thunderbolt left tackle said. “But by the end of my junior year I realized I wasn’t going to be playing college football, so I concentrated on the music.”

In 2008 Hicks received a VIP invitation to perform for the producers of the NBC-TV show “Nashville Star” in Nashville at the Gaylord Opryland Hotel. He was a regional finalist but was not included in the show’s actual line-up.

The Rattlesnake River Band consists of Hicks’ younger brother Tyler on lead guitar, his dad Rich on rhythm guitar, Jeff Arnold on bass guitar, and Kody McCoy on drums. The family connection is something Hicks treasures.

“That is what is so special about my musical career,” he said. “It isn’t just my dream, whole family is involved.” His mom Cavil serves as merchandise manager.

The family ties to his career are so strong, brother Tyler decided to be homeschooled during the 2009-2010 school year, by-passing what would have been his senior year on the Northmont campus.

Upcoming area dates to hear Hicks in concert include May 15 at All Sports Bar & Grill in Xenia, May 22 at the Arcanum Old Fashioned Days, June 25 at the London Strawberry Festival, in August he will be playing at the Greene County Fair, and on Aug. 28 he will be at The Greene in Beavercreek. In early June, Hicks will be performing at the CMA Fest in Nashville, a venue he called the largest outdoor Country concert in the country.
In October he hits the road to the Southwest USA, playing at the Balloon Fiesta in Albuquerque, N.M., the largest hot air balloon event in the world, as well as Reno, Nev. with stops in Arizona and Texas.

In addition to his website he has a presence on social networking sites Facebook and MySpace.

He will turn 20-years-old in October.

Second annual Leash of Life walk raises over $400 for St. Judes Hospital

Leash on life Heather Marcia Melissa
Heather, Marcia and Melissa

Petland of York Commons held its second annual Leash of Life walk around the Town Center at Miller Lane on Saturday, May 1. There were thirty-seven human walkers and over forty dogs. The event raised over four hundred dollars for St. Judes Hospital.

Dog walkers turn out for the second annual Leash on Life dog walk in Dayton, Ohio

The dogs and their human companions started out at the Petland and stopped at the Chick-fil-A for coupons, water and other goodies. They then went on to the Coldstone Creamery for small cups of vanilla ice cream and puppy treats and ended up at Cousin Vinny’s Pizza – a franchise store opening in a couple weeks – for faux pizza made with liver spread, English muffins and Beggin’ Strips pieces. The humans were also served real pizza.

Fortunately for the walkers, the rain stopped shortly before the event.

For more information about getting involved with the Leash of Life event, please contact Marcia Eyler (937) 898-9100 or email. Be sure to stop in the sponsors of the walk when you are in the neighborhood!