Friday, October 21, 2011

First Time for Everything

I have been in office for 22 months now and today I had to do something that I have never done before. I had to ask a citizen to leave my office. When they wouldn't leave at my request, I had to have our security guard come and escort them out. This does not make me proud. In fact it disturbs me a little. The truth is that I rarely get angry but someone today just pushed me overboard. There are always two sides to a story. I try to be fair when I describe mine. Let me start by stating that I go out of my way to make myself extremely accessible to our citizens.
I had a call to the office from someone with issues with our water billing. This person owns rental property so I could almost predict what the issues would be. They have owned the property for seven years, they have issue now. I have heard it before. The complaint is that we charge a meter fee whether water is consumed or not. This person feels that if the water is not being used, they should not have to pay a service fee. Fair enough, but you can request to have the meter removed for a $30 fee and installed again at a later date for $30. I informed the person of this but it was not the answer that they wanted to hear. The next issue that was predictable was going to be the one where we charge the water bill to the property owner if a tenant doesn't pay the water bill. The person was somewhat confrontational. It was almost as if anything I was saying was not going to be acceptable. So I made a clear concise statement. It went something like this; "If you own rental property and it generates income then there are certain expenses associated with a business that you need to account for. If you don't want your tenants to f**k you then you need to have control of the water bill. I have a rental and I pay the bill. We factor the cost into the rent." This person was offended by my use of one of the oldest slang words in the English language. Instead of telling me that they would prefer that I refrain from using such words, they said rather confidently "I am recording this conversation."
My reaction was simple. " Really?" I said. "Then you can leave my office."
" But I have some other issues." they replied.
"You can turn off the recorder or you can leave then." I stated.
"But,but ..."
"You can turn off the recorder or you can leave then." I stated again and I believe one more time.
"I have no recorder." Came the reply.
Now this person has either just lied to me once or they have lied to me twice. My reply was "You have breached my trust, leave my office now!"
They would not leave so I had security called to escort them from city hall.

Now let me state this. I really go out of my way to be accessible. I don't judge people and I listen to what they have to say. I have no problems being recorded if you declare in advance that you wish to do so. However, when you declare in the middle of a dialogue that you are recording me because you don't like what I have to say, that tells me that you made a conscious decision in advance that you were not going to agree with my statements and that you have an agenda. Your agenda includes wanting to embarrass me at some later date for whatever purpose you wish to serve. Fortunately I have never been ashamed of anything I have ever said. Being recorded hasn't stopped me from using risque language in the past either. In fact I have been called out for using two eight letter and one five letter cuss words that were used to describe me in a comments section of the local paper last year. People know that I am real, I don't pretend to be better than anyone else and I have never been afraid to speak my mind.
So to the person in question. If I offended you, I am sorry. However your violation of my trust offended me in a more permanent way.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Welcome Dayton Plan

Tonight we vote on the "Welcome Dayton" plan which will set us on a path to becoming a city where we facilitate the success of foreign born residents. Some extreme conservatives are opposed to the plan because they have entirely set their focus on the issue of illegal Hispanic immigrants and not on the thousands of legal immigrants that are already located here from many different nations. After all the citizens speak in favor or opposition I will be reading the following statement. It is posted here so that the media can refer to it if they want to quote my statement.

Too often it seems that people read a paragraph in the newspaper or see a 30-second preview on the evening news and presume they know everything they need to know about a subject. The Welcome Dayton plan has been slowly and carefully developed over the course of this year, with input from the Human Relations Council, Police, and various community organizations. The plan was conceived out of the necessity to support foreign born citizens who want to succeed in the Dayton region.

Our universities, hospitals and tech industries are recruiting to fill highly skilled positions. The Welcome Dayton Plan was formulated to help Dayton become a global city by attracting the best and the brightest. This plan is designed to enhance the potential of Dayton as a competitor in the global economy by attracting immigrants who bring new ideas, new perspective, and new talent to our workforce. In order to reverse the decades-long trend of economic decline in this city, we need to think globally and recruit the very best from around the world.

This is NOT about harboring illegal immigrants or drawing illegal immigrants into Dayton. We understand there are problems with people entering the U.S. illegally. The Welcome Dayton Plan leaves federal immigration law enforcement to the feds, and instead focuses on making our community one that treats all people kindly, fairly and humanely. If you are an illegal immigrant, you will be subjected to the same Federal laws as anyone else.

My office has received several phone calls and emails from citizens who are completely misreading what is really contained within the plan. If you have not fully read it, then I suggest you do before you openly criticize it. This is a living document that directs policy. With it, we are committed to facilitating the successful integration of foreign born residents and their children to be productive citizens of the city of Dayton. Failure to do this would only hinder Dayton’s economic recovery.

History has demonstrated that cities that embrace all people and cultures thrive until one culture deems itself better. It is then that they fail. Byzantium outlasted Rome by 500 years and became Constantinople. Cordoba in Spain flourished during the occupation by the Moors because the leadership there ignored religious differences. We could also look towards successful centers of learning such as Baghdad and even Timbuktu.

History proves that closed minds and resistance to change only results in failure. To those citizens who are against the Welcome Dayton plan—instead of condemning something that you didn't participate in, volunteer to help us make it better.