How can we leap the chasm between common sense and public policy in Dayton? City leaders exhibit a stunning lack of comprehension when presenting their plans to Dayton residents.
Although one in three homes in Dayton-proper is vacant, effectively reducing the property tax base by more than 33%, city leaders have decided they either need to cut services or raise taxes. Neither approach shows vision, compassion, innovation or integrity.
What we need now is a proclamation that the city and its remaining residents are in crisis and a commitment by our mayor, city manager and city council to take immediate and wise action.
A good start would be to invite all citizens to a town hall meeting where they can freely present their own ideas and pool their intellectual resources to not only salvage what is left of the city and their lives, but where they can actually lay the groundwork for an exciting way forward.
Old ways and pat answers won’t work anymore. These are new times, desperate times, scary times that defy government to remain in its former form. New problems cannot be solved with an old mindset. We need a new mindset and out-of-the-box thinking.
Raising money on the backs of those who can least afford it is standard, common – and wrong. The city, for instance, recently raised bus fares, leaving high school students unable to get to classes and their parents unable to get to the jobs they so sorely need. Why is the burden being put squarely on the backs of those already at the bottom of the economic ladder who are hurting the most?
Perhaps city leaders could begin by making a list of our most troubling areas: housing, transportation, land and street maintenance, schools, homelessness, hunger and medical issues. Once the topics are identified, there should be a city-wide call to all concerned citizens who can finally be heard on the issues they know and care most about. That town hall meeting needs to be widely advertised and seriously undertaken, letting residents know that their ideas are valuable. Those who cannot attend the meeting should be invited to mail, email or fax-in their ideas. My guess is that officials will be stunned at the bounty of creative concepts ‘out there’ that are free for the taking and life-altering in their execution. Dayton can return from the dead if the living who reside here are just given the opportunity to participate in the solutions while being afforded the level of respect they deserve as the creative and talented individuals they are.
We can make Dayton the “Gem City” again…but only if city leaders abandon their ivory towers and mingle with the rest of us.