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Executive Director Main Street Warren Says Residents Are The Problem And Their Uneducated


p10100013In a letter to the Editor, Warren Tribune Chronicle Sunday April 19th, 2009, Main Street Warren (formerly Warren Grows) Executive Director Jim Dalessandro, stated that Warren “citizens” are to blame for the lack of revitalization of Downtown.

The Director stated in his letter, that the mission of Main Street Warren is to work collaboratively, but he only lists government agencies, the Administration, Community Development and a quasi government agency, Warren Redevelopment and Planning as groups that he’s working with.

It would appear that Dalessandro has a different approach when it comes to the people of Warren, for when it comes to the demise of the Downtown and the Historic Square, he says,

I can tell you who is really to blame: the citizens of Warren.

What an insult!

As insulting as a Warren Grows leader telling me when I offered my support, after losing my “skin in the game” as Dalessandro describes it,

Maybe you should form a group called I lost my business association.

Ah, the insult isn’t over, for the Director insinuates to the fact that the people of Warren are uneducated.

The educational level, though we have two great institutions of higher learning, is almost 10 points behind the state and national levels…Now we have to catch up and work for change.

If all the Warren kids who got a college education stayed in town, Warren’s level would rival the state and national level. Ask anyone how many of their college educated children can find jobs in the area.

The Executive Director talks about excuses. His blaming the citizens is the biggest excuse. The level of citizen involvement in Warren is unprecedented with all the Neighborhood Groups. Those groups formed largely because they were frustrated at the lack of leadership from City Hall and City Council. As one commenter to the director’s letter stated on line, “visionary leadership” is lacking.

Dalessandro talks about Main Street Warren’s agenda: It is what Warren residents have heard about for years and years. Main Street worked with the Poggemeyer group on a new plan for Warren but that plan is number 10 or 12 in the last 25 years.

Working to make Franklin a two way street, as it was when I was growing up, just tell the police that they can’t park on the street and do it. That idea of two way traffic to make the parking deck more accessible has been discussed for more than a year.

Why isn’t it done yet?

As for mentioning the “Business survey”, this is at least the second time this has been done, because Warren Grows let the former Director botch the first attempt.

Lastly. People don’t think anything is going on because Main Street Warren has done little that they can see.

Perception, perception, perception.

To the average person going downtown, it looks like nothing has changed in a decade and Main Street Warren has done a poor job letting the general public know what it has been doing besides blaming them.

12 Comments leave one →
  1. Erynn permalink
    04/23/2009 1:47 pm

    Coming from the area, it’s a little insulting to hear how uneducated we the people are. Wow… Sign of a good leader, blame those you claim to serve. Nice…

  2. 04/24/2009 2:25 pm

    ‘As for mentioning the “Business survey”, this is at least the second time this has been done, because Warren Grows let the former Director botch the first attempt.’

    I might be wrong here, but wasn’t the prior survey done by WRAP and their attempt at a Main Street Director (Back when WRAP was allegedly trying to get Warren accepted as a Main Street city?) and not Warren Grows?

    And they can make Franklin Street a superhighway, but so long as there’s barely anything downtown, and so long as that parking deck is dirty, dark and unattended after 5PM and unattended when there’s evening events and 24 hour events such as the upcoming Relay for Life, what’s the point? It might help shepherd people into it during the Italian Fest, until the people pull in there and run into a group of teens smoking weed in the stairwell.

    My god…40,000+ grand a year to run that deck, and they cannot even find the cash to pay someone to sit there overnight once a year for the Relay or twice a year for evening street fair hours.

    But I digress, as always.

  3. 04/24/2009 2:49 pm

    Josh, you maybe right about the survey and WRAP but didn’t Warren Grows start under the WRAP umbrella and wasn’t Mike Maggiano part of both organizations??

    As to Franklin, my point wasn’t, or if there is, enough traffic to warrant such a move but it shouldn’t take over a year to accomplish a simple task. When I was Chairman of the Traffic Commission and had proposed removing the “no left turn” sign on W. Market and N. Park, it took only an executive order from the Safety Service Director to accomplish that task and then an approval from Council after a 60 to 90 day period.

  4. 04/24/2009 5:36 pm

    Maggiano, who was soooo qualified and perfect for the job that WRAP changed the residency requirement for the position and paid him 30%+ more than the job initially was stated as paying (But apparently went to work at Target after he left this job, putting the knowledge of marketing and public relations, event planning and business development that the position called for to excellent use) was the WRAP Main Street Coordinator. He was hired in 2003 (two years after the position was initially announced and at that time all of the warren residents who applied for the job were turned down).

    Warren Grows came out publicly with their Main Street plan in January 2006 and Maggiano, who did so much for WRAP’s version of Main street in his three years, was then made Program Manager for Warren Grows. I think at that time, Warren Grows became independent of WRAP. And in November of 2006, Heritage Ohio turned down Warren for Main Street status and at that time, Maggiano resigned his position.

    And all that is my prelude to ask when this first business survey was done?

  5. 04/24/2009 6:29 pm

    Just to give you some more info, I was one of those finalist in the last group for the job that Maggiano got. The original reason given for stopping the interview process was that “funding was not available.”

    I was President of the DWBA 2003/2004 and I do believe it was during that time that the survey was done. Maggiano also wanted the DWBA to dissolve since warren Grows was struggling at the time.

    My business survey was conducted by Maggiano’s son-in-law which he had hired to help in the project.

  6. 04/24/2009 10:32 pm

    Well, the position called for 22-26,000 grand a year, and ended up being 36,000 a year once Maggiano got it….Hey! Maybe they honestly wanted to pay whoever got the job that much, and just needed two years to get the funds!

    Golly! Funny, far as I know this new survey is being conducted by volunteers, with no need to hire someone to do this….If his son-in-law was hired for this, he must have been very telented and good at asking questions and writing down responses. That must be one talented family!

    Anyway, I would hope that this survey doesn’t go to waste. I would also hope that Main Street, now that it is in the hands of one paid guy who actually needs to show results and volunteers have more incentive and an authentic passion to actually do something, rather than the old regime of folks merely doing ‘public service’ to collect directorship salaries and stipends. Say what you want, but I’ve seen more out of Warren Grows the past year than I’ve seen from WRAP back when they were the sole champion of carrying the torch of putting forth the pretense of marketing the downtown and planning events during the previous 6 years since their grand 2001 restructuring.

  7. 04/25/2009 7:23 am

    In my interview, I offered to do the job for 13 thousand a year and all they had to do was find me office space and a computer system.

    I would hope that the new survey at least references the last one and draws a correlation between the two.

    As to seeing results from Warren Grows compared to WRAP…with Warren Grows we see a lot of movement but no substance or results. If blaming the residents, calling them “uneducated” and telling them to form their own “loser” association is an accomplishment, then so be it.

    If one of my employees “bad mouthed” our customers, blamed our customers for poor business or their lack of tipping, that employee would be fired.

  8. 04/25/2009 9:46 am

    Well, I can understand why Jim’s Letter would ruffle feathers….I can’t speak for him, obviously, and I have no insight based on any conversations with him regarding this, but let me put on my Official ‘Tribune board comment leaving’ hat and speak out of my behind with some groundless speculation:

    Maybe Jim meant to just light a few fires under citizens with his letter? Maybe he just wants to get some people angry or a little upset enough to call him up and talk to him, or see how they can help. Anger is a good tool for motivation, after all. And if I was one of these Warren citizens who want to see downtown/the city improve, but really don’t bother doing anything (not like I do much, but I try once in awhile), seeing a letter written by some executive director blaming me might be enough to at least make a phone call or show up at a meeting. Or maybe I’m giving these various parties too much credit? And with the above, I am just talking about the letter to the ed, and not what passed between you and him. That, I have no theory on, so I’m staying out of it! 🙂

    I know who I blame for a lack of turn around in downtown. I blame them every chance I get, but I’m not really someone in Jim’s shoes, who has to (Again, speculation on my part) keep bridges unburnt and has to maintain relationships with the very people who we all know have wasted opportunities left and right, as well as millions of dollars in grants and tax dollars and whom have wasted many manhours of many volunteers in past endeavors, in seemingly going out of their way to not make downtown an open, easy, friendly-to-new businesses environment. So given that, perhaps ‘blaming’ the citizens was a move to motivate people who could actually be motivated.

    Main Street has the music fest coming up in late July. We’ll see what their economic restructuring group can manage this year. There’s volunteers who are not being ignored and have imput and have a voice. I think Main Street/Warren Grows is on the right track, which is in direct contrast to WRAP, which in my eyes, continues to be a parking company who sits on a bunch of crap real estate and who might give out a loan here and there.

  9. 04/25/2009 10:45 am

    What is meant by “What passes between you and him” mean?

    You immediately do what most people do, make it personal. It’s not personal, it’s discussion of ideas, concepts and agendas to make a city WE all love prosperous again. Just because I’m against the “war” doesn’t mean I don’t support the “troops.”

    As many will tell you, I started a program 6 years ago called, “Warren, Just Do It.” I believe in the theory of trying something, anything, and if it fails it’s ok, but don’t BLAME anyone, just move on and “Do Something” again.

    I have the greatest respect for the Director and I feel he’s between a rock and a hard place. You say about burning bridges, I understand that, but there is a thing called principle too. Oh, and what about the bridge being burnt with those being called “uneducated and to blame?” Worker bees make the hive.

    Also the “ruffle feathers” comment is not what that letter does, it insults those who have been working hard and those who might want to help. As a “manager” of a business, you should realize that.

    You seem to jump from one side of the road to the other.

    Visionary leadership doesn’t come from WRAP but it needs to come from the elected officials. Jay Williams is a primary example of a visionary politician.

    Stating the parking deck sits on “crap real estate” might be true or not, but it is privately owned and the owner has made out quite well in his dealings “raping” the city and that’s not the fault of WRAP or Warren Grows. The fault lies with the Mayor and Council who should be leading the charge to find “private monies” to invest in the city, not just government handouts.

  10. 04/25/2009 11:50 am

    No no no–I was just referring to your quotes from your conversation with him, which you referenced once in your initial post and once again in your response to me. Since I wasn’t in a room listening, I cannot make excuses or theorize as to why anything was said. I wanted to make a point that I was only talking about what was publicly said in the letter to the editor. I was going out of my way to avoid talking about a personal conversation you had. That’s all. When I want to make something personal, it will be full of slander and swear words and spelling errors and all typing in caps!

    And why put my position here at the shop in quotes? Do you doubt that I help run this place?

    I’ve stayed on one side of the road, I think. I’m just not going to slam a guy because he might be ruffling feathers or insulting ‘the people’.

    The crap real estate I was talking about mainly refer to the west market street buildings recently bought, although I’m sure we can put a list together of their other holdings that sit empty, were mishandled (youth builders working on a Century Home?) or show no movement towards redevelopment.

    A any sort of ‘visionary’ leadership would have moved against WRAP and Community Development years ago. Any leadership that is fine with no solid results regarding downtown development is at fault AS MUCH as the organizations and directors who have given NO RESULTS. Good lord, CD can’t even get a skate park build with a CDBG grant after almost three years.

    And I will voice and show anger at them and their supporters and their cliques way before I toss stones at someone who wants to light a fire and correctly calls out this area as being slightly under-educated. Hey, didn’t that draft of the Poggemeyer study say this area was under the norms for state and federal rates of high school and college grads? Did the city pay 180,000 grand to have that group call the people stupid?

    Since I am involved and did not take any offense, as I assumed I wasn’t the target of the letter. And nor would or should anyone who is involved feel slighted. The target, from my reading, are those who do nothing and expect miracles to happen without ‘the people’s’ involvement.

    And yes, we need a Jay Williams. We need three Jay Williams. One as the mayor, one heading WRAP and one sitting over at Community Development. You’re absolutely right, ‘our’ people have done nothing to foster private investment in the city, particularly downtown. Isn’t this one of the things that people praise Jay Williams for? Finding ‘New York moneymen’ to come to his city and invest?

  11. 04/25/2009 12:09 pm

    Josh, please re-read post. Nowhere did I mention having a conversation with the Director. The comments I referred to came from “a Warren Grows Leader”, whom I did not mention but many others know of her comment.

    Just this past Thursday I had a wonderful, lively and positive conversation with Director and many of the points mentioned in these replies and post were discussed. Again I have great respect and do not envy his job.

    Since we’ve gone around “Robin Hood’s Barn” and strayed far from the original post and subject matter, I will stop with the quote from the first person on this subject matter: “Coming from the area, it’s a little insulting to hear how uneducated we the people are. Wow… Sign of a good leader, blame those you claim to serve. Nice…”

    Josh thanks for your input. You and I are not as far a part in goals and ideas as you might think just a difference in style.

  12. 04/25/2009 4:24 pm

    Oh! That makes sense. :/ I fully apologize. Nobody has ever accused me of being a careful and thorough reader. I misread what you were getting at.

    Open mouth, insert foot…

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