Air Force pilot shortage growing, top leaders say

Published: Thursday, November 09, 2017 @ 5:07 PM


            Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson and Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein prepare to testify before the Senate Armed Services Committee June 6, 2017, in Washington, D.C. AIR FORCE PHOTO
Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson and Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein prepare to testify before the Senate Armed Services Committee June 6, 2017, in Washington, D.C. AIR FORCE PHOTO

The Air Force pilot shortage has grown to nearly 2,000 despite pumped-up financial bonuses to retain more military aviators in the cockpit, top Air Force leaders say.

Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson blames one key reason for the growing losses: “We’re burning out our people because we’re too small for what the nation is asking.”

RELATED: House defense leader at Wright Patt, says AF pilot shortage growing

Wilson said sequestration, or defense spending reductions under the Budget Control Act of 2011, had eroded readiness and contributed to the woes of retaining experienced aviators.

“Sequester is still the law of the land,” Wilson said. “If we go through another sequester again, a 2,000 pilot (shortage) will be a dream. People will walk.”

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein said the Air Force planned to ramp up flight school production to 1,400 pilots earning their wings every year, up from about 1,200 annually today.

“What keeps me up is if we can’t move past sequestration in its current form, we’re going to break this force,” Goldfein told reporters.

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The 1,926 pilot shortage represents almost one out of 10 pilots of the 20,000 who serve in the Air Force, Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard, officials said.

The White House also recently expanded Air Force authority to call back the retired pilots, but in tightly limited numbers that will not come close to closing the gap.

House Armed Services Committee chairman and U.S. Rep. Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, visited Wright-Patterson last month and announced the Air Force pilot shortage had reached about 1,900 aviators.

In March, the Air Force said it was short 1,555 pilots, and of those 1,211 were fighter pilots. In response, the service branch offered figther pilots up to $455,000 in bonuses over 13 years to remain in uniform, and extended financial incentives to other areas short of workforce needs.

Wilson said the Air Force’s additional priorities are modernizing the fleet, including nuclear-tipped missiles and bombers, launching a 12-month review of science and technology research programs, developing leaders, and strengthening U.S. military alliances around the globe.

But it was the budget and the ongoing concerns over sequestration that dominated the two leaders conversation.

“Our biggest need right now is for a higher and stable budget,” said Wilson, a former New Mexico Republican congresswoman.

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Wilson said during “State of the Air Force” address Thursday that was streamed live from the Pentagon the Air Force was investigating what led to the service branch’s failure to report the military criminal conviction of two domestic assault charges against the alleged gunman, 26-year-old Devin Patrick Kelley, in a Texas church shooting massacre that killed 26 and injured 20 on Sunday.

Authorities said the former airmen died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound after a high-speed chase with two bystanders. One of them apparently shot Kelley at least once before the pursuit, reports said. Kelley had been stationed at Holloman Air Force Base, N.M., and sentenced to a year in a Navy brig near San Diego.

The Air Force has confirmed it failed to report Kelley’s conviction to the FBI’s National Crime Information Center, which would have prevented him from legally purchasing a firearm, the service branch said.

“We are looking at all of our databases and if we have problems we find, we’ll fix them,” Wilson said.

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Dayton Commissioner Joey Williams to resign 4 months after re-election

Published: Wednesday, February 21, 2018 @ 5:55 PM

Joey Williams resigns

Less than four months after winning re-election, long-time Dayton City Commissioner Joey Williams tonight announced he is stepping down, effective Friday.

The 52-year-old Williams, the top vote-getter in the Dayton commission race in November, has served on the body since 2002. But tonight’s city commission meeting will be his last as an elected Dayton leader.

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Williams said he ran for re-election last year expecting to complete his full four-year term, but his work responsibilities have grown so much since being named the new Dayton market president of KeyBank. KeyBank publicly announced his hiring about two days after the election.

Williams said he quickly realized that the amount of travel involved in his new role would be difficult to juggle with his commission duties.

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He said he typically missed a few commission meetings each year. Since November, Williams said he has been missing at least one meeting each month.

“It’s really not fair to the community if I can’t put the proper time and effort into the job,” he said. “I had no idea this job was in my future.”

Williams also told this news organization that his new job creates more potential for conflicts of interest since he’s more heavily involved with bank activities and its customers.

The city will host a special municipal election during the primary election on May 8, which is 76 days away.

To fill vacancies, the commission determines by ordinance a special election that must take place 60 to 90 days after the vacancy occurs, according to city charter.

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Dayton residents who want to replace Williams will need to collect at least 500 signatures of registered electors by March 9, which is 60 days before the election, according to the city charter .

If the city had to host a special election just to fill Williams’ vacant seat, it would cost more than $100,000, said Steve Harsman, deputy director of the Montgomery County Board of Elections.

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But costs should be minimal — perhaps $6,000 to $8,000 — if the race is placed on the May 8 primary election ballot, Harsman said.

Williams said the timing of his departure is intended to avoid a special election.

“I didn’t want the community to have to have a special election as a result of me having to resign,” Williams said. “I wanted to do it at a time that corresponded with a primary or general election.”

Williams’ colleagues on the commission praised his contributions and leadership.

“When (people) go back and look at the history of the city the last decade and more, they are going to point to you as maybe the main reason we as a commission was able to lead and bring the city out of one of the worst crises we’ve ever seen,” said Commissioner Matt Joseph.

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Funk legend and member of Ohio Players dies

Published: Thursday, February 16, 2017 @ 4:00 PM

Dayton is considered the Land of Funk. Here is why. Video by Amelia Robinson

A legendary member of the Ohio Players has died, according to news reports and a post on his official Facebook page from his daughter.

Walter “Junie” Morrison, a noted producer, keyboardist and singer, is credited with writing The Ohio Players major hits “Pain,” “Pleasure”, “Ecstasy” and “Funky Worm.”

Morrison, a Dayton native, was 62. 

Photos of Walter "Junie" Morrison from the Dayton Daily News archive at Wright State University.

>>MORE: Funk Music Hall of Fame opening in downtown Dayton after long battle

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“Dear friends and colleagues, we lost another great one. I’m sure you can agree that Junie will be greatly missed. I wasn’t around my father much, but somehow I am like him in so many ways. In that regard, thank you for your support and respect of our privacy during this time,” Akasha Morrison wrote.

Morrison was a 1997 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductee and was also co-creator, writer and producer of “One Nation (Under A Groove)” and “(Not Just) Knee Deep” by Parliament Funkadelic, according to juniemorrison.com.

In the 1970s and 1980s, southwestern Ohio — particularly Dayton’s west side — was known for its stable of funk bands whose influence can be heard in hip-hop, house and other musical forms popular today.

Morrison inspired singer Solange’s recent song “Junie” on her 2016 “A Seat at the Table” album.

Gregory Webster, the original leader of the Ohio Players, said Morrison, who was hired into The Ohio Players shortly after he graduated from Roosevelt High School.

“He was really friendly,” Webster said of Morrison. “He was young, but we got him together.”  

Longtime WDAO radio show host John “Turk” Logan said “Pain” — a song Morrison wrote, produced and played most of the instruments on — was the first “funky” song from a Dayton group that he played.

Logan managed Morrison for a short time after he left the Ohio Players.

Photos of Walter "Junie" Morrison from the Dayton Daily News archive at Wright State University.

“Junie was an extraordinary talent. The guy had a sixth sense about the music business,” said Logan, a 1968 Roosevelt graduate. “Junie was a handful because he was a genius.”

>> MORE: Ohio Players frontman Leroy ‘Sugarfoot’ Bonner dies

>> MORE: Ohio Players' bassist Marshall "Rock" Jones dies

Dayton musician Ronald Frost of the band The Deele said Morrison was a critical member of The Ohio Players.

“When Junie came, that’s when they became extra funky,” Frost said. 

Frost’s father Ronald “Nooky” Nooks played with The Ohio Players sometimes after Morrison left the band in 1974 for a solo career.

He released three solo albums on Westbound Records.

Frost was a big fan of Morrison’s work. 

“Junie was just a different kind of musician. He was totally incredible,” Frost said. 

Morrison was induced into the Funk Music Hall of Fame & Exhibition Center based in downtown Dayton last year. 

Hall of Fame president David Webb said Morrison was a great musician who supported preserving funk’s heritage. 

“We are praying for his family,” Webb said.

Response on Facebook to word of the funk legend’s passing was swift. 

“Junie Morrison WAS funk to me and many others,” one comment read.

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Demand in West Dayton for 1,000 housing units, grocery store

Published: Friday, February 16, 2018 @ 12:16 PM


            DeSoto Bass Courts public housing has about 354 housing units in West Dayton. CORNELIUS FROLIK / STAFF
DeSoto Bass Courts public housing has about 354 housing units in West Dayton. CORNELIUS FROLIK / STAFF

Greater Dayton Premier Management, the local public housing authority, is working on a plan to improve conditions and the housing stock in a poor part of West Dayton where more than 6,000 residents live.

GDPM is targeting five neighborhoods west of Interstate 75 and south of U.S. 35 that have some rundown and aging public housing facilities and many vacant and abandoned structures.

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There’s demand for up to nearly 1,000 new housing units, including a mix of subsidized, senior, market rate and for-sale units, according to a market study done for the agency.

Residents who live in the area, which is home to the DeSoto Bass Courts and Hilltop Homes, also say they want community gardens, a grocery store, a laundromat and increased police presence and visibility, according to a survey of a public housing residents and some neighbors.

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GPDM’s “transformation plan” will be submitted to the federal government, which in the past has awarded tens of millions of dollars to communities to implement their plans and help pay for new housing, amenities and other investments.

The Trump Administration’s current budget does not have funding for implementation, but even without that money, GDPM hopes to remake this part of Datyon, though likely it would take longer and require some adjustments, agency officials said.

“We have alternate plans for our housing if we are not fortunate enough to receive this Choice Neighborhood funding,” said Jennifer Heapy, CEO of GDPM. “We are still committed to a transformation for that particular part of the city — it’ll just take us longer.”

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Montgomery County joins legal fight against opioid drug companies

Published: Tuesday, February 13, 2018 @ 3:22 PM

Montgomery County joins legal fight against opioid drug companies

Following in the footsteps of the city of Dayton and the state of Ohio, Montgomery County plans to sue drug companies or others that county officials allege helped cause the opioid addiction and overdose epidemic that has ravaged the Dayton region and communities across the country.

At a press conference Tuesday afternoon, Montgomery County commissioners announced they have approved an agreement with Motley Rice, one of the nation’s largest plaintiffs’ litigation firms, to take legal action against “individuals and entities related to the marketing, prescribing, distribution or sale of opioids.”

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Montgomery County has hired the firm to investigate and then litigate claims related to the marketing and overprescribing of powerful opioid medications, said Mary Montgomery, chief of civil division of the Montomery County prosecutor’s office.

She said the goal is to hold those people and companies responsible for the opioid crisis accountable for it and try to recover the costs to taxpayers. That includes drug treatment programs, medical care, hospitalizations, law enforcement, prosecution and incarceration, Montgomery said.

Other costs include caring for the children whose parents have died of a drug overdose or who have lost custody because of their drug use, she said.

“Any money recovered will be for treatment programs as well as to reimburse the county for all of the expenses just mentioned,” she said.

Montgomery County has been particularly hard-hit by the opiate crisis, county officials said, noting that between 60 to 70 percent of the bodies in the county morgue last summer were overdose victims.

In 2016, prescribers in the county wrote almost 93 opioid prescriptions for every 100 residents, and there were more opioid prescriptions written each year between 2006 and 2015 than there were people living in the county, said Montomery.

“Nationally, the economic toll of the opioid crisis is estimated to have topped $1 trillion from 2001 to 2017,” she said.

Motley Rice, based in Washington, D.C., is lead counsel in lawsuits filed against pharmaceutical companies by the city of Chicago and Santa Clara County. The firm also represents four states, seven counties and a handful of cities and townships in other opioid-related litigation.

Last year, Santa Clara County, home to Silicon Valley in California, reached a $1.6 million settlement with drug maker Teva over “deceptive” marketing of prescription opioid painkillers, according to Motley Rice.

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Closer to home, the city of Dayton last June announced it was suing more than a dozen pharmaceutical companies, distributors and pain specialists who city officials allege misrepresented the dangers of opioid medications and profited from opioid dependency and use.

This is about basic fairness for Montgomery County taxpayers, and the companies that ignited and fed this deadly epidemic should help clean it up, said Commissioner Dan Foley.

“We believe … that the drug companies have a moral obligation to pay our community back,” Foley said.

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