For the last two years, members of OneDayton have met privately to discuss plans for restructuring the Government of Montgomery County ranging from doing nothing with a perfect system to unifying the county under a strong single charter. Recently it’s members, which include an illustrious list of mayors, judges, and commissioners, have decided to open the debate in order to gather additional feedback from the respective communities before recommending an issue be placed on the ballot for voters to decide.
Each of the proposals offer an increasing amount of consolidation of local services with the ultimate goal of saving taxpayers money and providing for a more unified vision of the county. Critics charge that the initiative is simply a numbers game to boost the rank of Dayton to the second largest metropolitan area in Ohio, but Montgomery County Commission President Dan Foley believes this would give Dayton “more influence, more visibility, and more opportunities for economic growth.”
While the prospect of restructuring local government could be an exciting opportunity for residents of Montgomery County, the focus on consolidating services in response to a shrinking economy sounds more like a business solution than a new form of government. This is not to say that consolidation is without merit, but to highlight the missing components that factor into a thriving metropolitan area, including infrastructure, manufacturing, small business, and workers, along with the necessary skills and investments in new and emerging markets.
Getting back to the fundamentals is one of the central themes of The Metropolitan Revolution by Bruce Katz and Jennifer Bradley of the Brookings Institute. With the launch of their book and iPad app earlier this year, the two of them have been speaking with mayors, educators, and start-ups around the country, exploring the role that cities and metropolitan areas are taking in redefining a broken political system. The video below shows how debt and consumption shifted our focus away from productive innovative growth to offering tax incentives and building ballparks, a familiar story to many residents in the Dayton metropolitan area.
In one of the many interviews available on YouTube, Bruce Katz shares his excitement about another Metropolitan Revolution happening in Northeast Ohio, where the government has partnered with local universities and private businesses to kickstart the local economy by repurposing all of the old factories and worker skills to support the rapidly emerging market of 3D printing. By creating an open space for public, private, and educational elements of the community to interact with one another, a post-industrial blight on the Ohio landscape is being transformed into a global competitor.
What can OneDayton learn from The Metropolitan Revolution, to expand their focus on services to include the whole ecosystem of the surrounding Dayton Area including Springboro and other towns which lie outside of the political borders? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.