Gifts for the person with everything- and gifts for Dayton

Yes, this is a list of products that I hope you’ll buy from Amazon, where I will get a cut. But to keep it interesting, it’s also a list of things you can’t buy (unless you are part of the 1% and can control elections) and, of course, if you really want to make a difference- you’ll do all your shopping locally with independent retailers.

And- I’m going to start out with the most outrageous gift that will change your life: The Squatty Potty. Watch the video- and buy from this link- read the reviews- seriously:

A gift you can’t buy- a real website for the Montgomery County Board of Elections- that has a complete list of every office you can run for, who is in it, when the term expires, and the requirements to run. That would help clear the poop from the system locally.

Tired of selfie stills? Want to make action movies like a pro? From the folks that make the DJI “Drones”- comes the Osmo a stedi-cam like no other. Buy here-

A gift you can’t buy- real news from the local media. No, it’s not news when there is a traffic accident, or a shooting, or another drug bust. That’s only relevant is you were in the accident or the resulting traffic jam, knew someone in the shooting or it happened on your street. Real news is why our Dayton Public Schools suck, why Sinclair is failing to meet real needs for truck drivers, welders and the medical programs. All have a waiting list, despite claiming they’re on it. Real news is why our local politicians keep buying buildings for which there is no public use, giving away tax revenue to companies that move inside downtown, or about businesses that are successful in our community.

We'll keep the light on for you

We’ll keep the light on for you

Turning on the lights, automatically. I’ve had a timer on my porch light for years- it sucked to program, it sucked to change the time for Daylight Savings Time- then, this happened: it even works on motors- and most importantly- doesn’t burn out CFL bulbs. Me likey.

What you can’t buy- true transparency and sunlight on the meetings of the Dayton City Commission- no more illegal work sessions where the commission meets to do all the actual discussion of the issues before they come and rubber stamp them in public. Follow the damned charter and the state sunshine laws already.

Keep the heat on while being super cool- get a Nest Learning Thermostat. Seriously. This one will save you money and make you really happy and comfy in your own home or office. Installation is a breeze- and I can now control the temps in both my home and office from my phone. This product keeps getting better with software updates- and my utility bills keep coming down. I have the first generation, they are now on the third.

Best thing I’ve ever bought to save money, and they let you know how you do compared to people in your area as well.

What you can’t buy? Take a look at a heat map of economic activity for Dayton. See the cold spots on the West Side- while Miller Lane and Austin Landing are hot. It’s time to look at comprehensive regional investment and stop tilting the playing field. First step- Countywide income tax- flat rate at 1.5% divvied up based on a formula based on square miles, population, political overhead and need. Same thing for school taxes. Reward lean organizations with low overhead- that utilize regional assets like the regional dispatch center, or pay their politicians reasonably, or have the lowest ratio of administrators to workers, with MORE money- and penalize the high overhead ones. Make it easy for small businesses to calculate tax rates by not having to worry about every single jurisdiction. Make it about the region- not filling the pockets of the Gunlocks, Singers, Mills of the region.

If you are paying out the nose for cable- my suggestion is to invest in a HD antenna, and a TiVo. Seriously. I’ve had a TiVo for a long time- and there is so much good TV on broadcast, and services available via online- that you just need a box to coordinate it all. I’ve got a series II HD and a Romio – make sure you buy the lifetime service contract instead of annually- they last forever. Here are your choices- The new Bolt looks amazing- but, I got a rocking deal on the Romio. So much better than any cable company DVR- I’m amazed that Apple or Amazon hasn’t bought TiVo yet. Great recommendation engine- like Netflix- with search functions built in- find everything coming up with Allison Janney in it- and it records everything- from West Wing to interviews.

While we’re on the subject of unified entertainment- it’s time we move to unified government. Really. We can’t afford to keep paying for 1,000 or more elected offices (I’m guessing – since there is no unified list- I’m thinking of adding it to this website) and finding 1,000 people qualified to do this political horseshit.

Need proof that the local Dems are incompetent? Mike Turner has run for Congress virtually unopposed for 15 years. Need proof that the local Republicans are incompetent- look at the County Commission. One real countywide system. Ditch the local school systems too. Distribute the poor kids equally throughout – since there is no greater indicator of poor test performance than poverty. This shouldn’t be that hard- should be easy- just like TiVo.

I bought a carpet cleaner on one of the Amazon deals of the day. Used it yesterday. While it cleaned the carpets great, it kept reminding me of how much I actually love my Dyson vacuums. It’s about industrial design- the cleaner has the cord coming out of the base- and I was running over it constantly- my Dyson has the cord coming out up top- near where I’m maneuvering it from. Yes, they are expensive, but the “Amimal” I’ve got at the office is still humming almost 20 years later- and I’ve been able to fix it myself with parts bought online and video from YouTube. Design is everything- and on the new one I bought for the house it is even easier to use the attachments. Do yourself a favor- upgrade.

For a local change of pace- how about having elections that don’t suck. This means a well informed electorate- that actually comes out and votes- knowing more than what is in the pathetic League of Women’s Voter guide. Cutting down the number of offices would go a long way toward this- as would having a real BOE website- but, most importantly- let’s have real debates. Not these moderated forums where the moderator has control. There is no moderator once elected- we actually need to see candidates questioning the people they are elected to serve with. It’s about finding out who really knows what the issues are.

And, that’s it for my Holiday gift guide. Do you have any other things that you can’t live without that I should add to my list? Just remember- is free- and pretty much uncensored- so if you like what I’m doing here- help me out and start your Amazon buys from one of these links- and a tiny percentage of every purchase comes back to me- to help pay for hosting, domain name registration and rewards me just a little bit for taking time to dig deeper into what happens in Dayton.



Banking inequity

I have a contract sitting around somewhere for a home equity loan with Gem Savings from around 1990. It was one page, letter sized, in large type- and was all I needed to sign to get an equity loan on my house.

Now that document would run 8 pages of micro-type and include things like an arbitration clause, denying me the right to use the justice system to settle any grievances.

Later I signed one of those really long contracts to refinance my house with a bank. They changed the terms at the last minute, after jerking me around for weeks. Then, promptly sold the loan off to some mortgage servicing company, and then it’s been transferred time and time again- all without proper recording of title and lien transfer at the County Building.

If you or I sold a property and didn’t record the transaction, it wouldn’t be considered valid.

My small business, a sole proprietorship, recently teamed with another small business to do a large deal- $130,000, with a very small margin. When I went to deposit $90K, they wanted to hold my money for a week- despite being told well in advance this deal was coming. The banker even tried to warn me that this could be fraud. I had promised the vendor I’d pay by wire transfer- and was told by the bank it’d be $25 to wire money out. They didn’t tell me there was a $13 fee to have it wired into my account.

I’ve even had them putting holds on rent checks that are certified. Apparently, “Certified checks are easy to forge” which is why the hold according to my bank. WTF good is a certified check then? I do work for a credit union- which pays with certified checks- even those get a hold.

It’s getting harder and harder to run a small business, and banks behaving badly is just one more obstacle for small business to overcome. When I was a youngster in business school, you were advised to have counsel of a lawyer, accountant and a banker. Since the deregulation/consolidation of banking in this country, I’d say you’d be hard pressed to find any banker with actual lending authority anymore.

The last one I encountered was at Eaton National Bank- which once it got absorbed by LCNB ceased to be what it was. I’m experimenting with Wright Patt Credit Union now- which is one of the few credit unions that can do business lending. It’s becoming apparent that small business really is better off with a credit union instead of a bank, but I’m not sure if this applies to start-ups (I’ve been in business for 25 years).

One of the problems is that small business can’t buy the politicians’ ears the way big business can. When was the last time you heard of a tax break for small businesses? A program to help small businesses grow- that wasn’t driven by big business financial tricks (like quick write-offs of capital expenses)?

What could change if small businesses were given tax credits rewarding them for each full-time employee, length of employment, and growth in payroll that were redeemable for low-interest loans and access to working capital? What incentives could we offer to encourage the big banks to take small business seriously?

Small business powers most of our job growth, but, there are no small banks left to work with them. It’s time to solve this problem.

Post election present: higher trash fees

Trash left in Alley by Dayton "trash collection"

I turned this in to “Dayton Delivers” 2 trash collections ago- after it had sat for at least 1. Still there.

After the last election where stupid Dayton voters put the “Endorsed Democrats” on the ballot, we got hit with a fee for new street lights.

This year, we get higher trash fees:

Dayton proposes the largest waste collection fee increase in years, which comes at a time when the city lost a major service contract and personnel costs are rising.

The city in 2016 proposes increasing the annual fee by $10 to $151.90.

The proposed fee hike exceeds the increases of the three previous years combined.

Dayton’s waste collection fees usually are tied to the consumer price index, which has been flat because of low fuel prices.

But a fee hike is necessitated to cover employee raises and rising health-care costs, city officials said.

“It’s related to costs,” said Stanley Earley, Dayton’s deputy city manager.

Also, Dayton next year will lose thousands of customers because Riverside is switching providers.

Dayton provides waste pick-up and disposal services to about 55,000 customers.

Source: Dayton trash fees likely to increase next year

Because you read this site, you aren’t a stupid Dayton voter, so you’ll understand the following:

  1. Costs should have dropped over the last year, since fuel prices are now 1/3rd or less than they were.
  2. If the costs of labor are so high, maybe we should put our system out to bid- obviously, Riverside found a better deal. Of course, if you are Nan Whaley, who accepted tens of thousands of union dollars to her half-million-dollar campaign, you have to pay the union back somehow.
  3. If the 55,000 customers pay $10 more per year, that means we needed $550,000 more to keep the price the same. Let’s see, we spent $450,000 for a building on Wayne Avenue next to Garden Station that has zero development, we paid $450,000 for a building at 601 E. Third Street that has no development, we are in the process of buying the “Paru Tower/Key Bank/Society Bank/Third National Bank” building on North Main for $500,000 with no signed contract, hmmmm, right there is 3 years of revenue for the trash service that went to buy trashed buildings with no public use.
  4. And, oh, yes, there is also the million dollars we gave Student Suites to make the hole in the ground on Ludlow, and the $167,000 we spent tearing down parts of the old DP&L steam plant at E. Third and Webster… do you see where your tax dollars are being spent yet?

The fact is that while this issue will slide under every one’s radar until January when the first bills get mailed, everyone is up in arms because Queen Nan, media attention whore, is making statements about accepting Syrian Refugees- and trying to square up against Governor John Kasich, media whore, who is saying no Syrian Refugees will be coming to Ohio.

Note, your chance of being killed by a teen driving a car with temporary plates while texting are much higher than your chance of being a victim of a Jihadist. But, that’s the point- why discuss things we can fix here in Ohio- like School funding- or reinstating proper leaf collection, which actually make a difference?

Terrorism is the only protest left

For the last 2 days, the world has been focused on the terrorist attacks in Paris. Much like lots of Donald Trump campaign trail rhetoric, terrorism is focused on triggering media coverage, not actual effectiveness.

In the grand scheme of things, the downing of the Russian airliner out of Sharm El-Sheikh, where 135 people died, was a more effective campaign- about the same number of deaths 135, with a lot less casualties of terrorists. Same goes for 9/11- 20 men lost, 3000+ victims. Yet, Paris will dominate headlines because of where it is, and because Europeans died.

Every day in the United States, hundreds of people die from heroin overdoses, drunk driving, distracted driving, lung cancer caused by smoking, and we’re used to it. But the moment someone yells “allahu akbar” while killing people- we’re up in arms and condemn an entire religion making up about 23% of the world’s population.

What we refuse to understand about terrorism, and fail to acknowledge is that it is the last resort of those who feel powerless. The fight for attention, for a voice, is more easily gained by bullets and bombs than by words and peaceful demonstration. The days of Gandhi and King are over.

Those who are willing to die for a cause will never stop, as long as their deaths prove to be effective at gaining the world’s attention. That their message gets lost in the media noise isn’t an accident, it’s the very reason they continue. At some point, we need to stop pointing fingers and figure out what the real cause of radicalized Islam is, and what causes it.

Now, the mythology of American Supremacy has to be examined. There are plenty of Jim Bobs and Billy Bobs in America who believe that what happened in Paris couldn’t happen here. That the “good guys with guns” would take out the “bad guys with guns.” This philosophy, this pipe dream, is why we also continue to spend more than the rest of the world on maintaining a military that is so grossly mismatched to any kind of conflict that no nation would willingly think of a conventional war with us. Nuclear power, submarines, aircraft carriers aren’t ever going to be used again as in World War II and yet we cling to that fantasy.

So do the Billy-Bobs- who think their concealed carry 40 caliber 9 shot automatic is going to take on 4 guys with a plan, the advantage of surprise and superior firepower. It’s why we equip our cops with AR-15’s now- because you lose that fight every time. To quote a t-shirt that I owned when I was 19- with a picture of an M-16 on it- “Why waltz when you can rock-n-roll” comparing the three shot burst setting to full auto.

Mismatches cause two things- overconfidence and helplessness. This applies to military might, and to income inequity (which are often intertwined, but that interrelationship is often ignored). Throughout history, whenever the gap is too big between parties, be they nation states or even between 2 people- things implode. There is a good reason we talk about the balance of nature. Balance is the key to averting disasters that can be controlled by man.

Terrorism tilts the balance to the underdogs, conventional war, to the mighty. With all of our investment in winning wars, we believe we are preventing them, when in fact, we’re just asking for it.

If we want to stop terrorism, the first thing to do is to stop exporting weapons. Only a fool hands a gun to his enemies or untrusted ally- and expects it not to be turned against him. The military industrial complex that President Eisenhower warned us against, has made trillions off these wars that can’t be won, that never end, and guarantee a world where terrorism is the only game left.

The other part we have to do, is to stop thinking we have a birthright of freedom to share across the globe. Our own people are, despite “a standard of living” that we consider superior, drowning in debt, poverty, and a frustration brewing at home that the deck is stacked against us as well. Inequality is something that never lasts. Equilibrium is and always will be, a force to be reckoned with.

To understand jihadists, look at the numbers that we overlook, the death tolls in our attempts at regime change in Afghanistan and Iraq. Iraq- 224,000. U.S. military deaths- 4,491 from 2003 to 2014.  In Afghanistan, 2,372 U.S. deaths, compared to 106,000–170,000 for the Afghans that we were “freeing.”
The fact that we can clearly count our casualties and not those of our opponents should tell you something.

When the odds are this mismatched, there is no choice but terrorism. Call it a cost of war, call it a last resort, but, understand that it won’t go away as long as the deck is stacked on one side’s favor.

What happened in Paris sucks. What happened on 9/11 sucks. But, what we did to Iraq and Afghanistan and Vietnam before that- wasn’t exactly how you help a country out. War is never the answer, it’s the result of failed statesmanship, it’s the result of failed policy, it’s the result of shortsightedness.

It’s time to step back and re-evaluate our extension of military power, our exporting of the weapons of war, and our policies of trying to pick other countries’ leaders.

We wouldn’t tolerate it here if we thought another country dictated who our leaders were, would we?

The Bookfair leaves Planned Parenthood

Dayton bookfair poster 2015There are some things that run on autopilot in Dayton- like our inability to separate ourselves from the Wright Brothers and our propensity for passing Sinclair levies- despite the fact that they have no debt and have campuses in three other counties that pay no tax.
The Planned Parenthood bookfair was another Dayton institution- one that for 44 years raised a bunch of money from PP. But, apparently, as Planned Parenthood came under attack- they also stopped being grateful for the work and sweat volunteers, mostly blue haired folks, put into selling books to raise money for their cause. Apparently, it wasn’t enough money to make a difference anymore- and so, lo and behold, the people who ran the fair decided to continue the tradition to support some other worthwhile charities.
So the sign in my garage that simply says “Bookfair, 2nd weekend in November” is still true- but the names of the beneficiaries are now different. (full disclosure- my firm, The Next Wave, did some printing for the Bookfair)
Each year, 4 local charities will get a piece of the revenue- this year it’s The Human Race Theatre Co, House of Bread Community Kitchen, the Humane Society of Greater Dayton, and Aullwood Audubon Center and Farm.
For those of you who don’t know about the Bookfair it is the largest in Ohio. 50 tons of books, or around 100,000 titles, sorted into 50 separate categories, plus collectibles.
They also have an amazing selection of recorded music and movies and three pallets full of puzzles and games.
The collectibles this year, a bird book from the collection of John H. Patterson (with his signature), a book signed by President Lyndon Johnson, the autographed autobiography of aviator Douglas “wrong-way” Corrigan, a great collection of titles from the London Folio Society, bird field guides from all over the world, a collection of film books from a retired WSU film professor, a whole set of first editions by Arthur Ransome, an extensive collection of metaphysical religious books from the 1930s through the 1970s, and a wonderful collection of military history from the estate of Gil Unger, Dayton native and veteran from the World War II’s 90th Infantry Division.
Regular titles include a huge selection of books on cooking, writing, gardening, mysteries, the holidays, homeschooling, children’s books, vintage books, art and theater and anything else you can imagine.
It started today Friday, November 13 at 9 a.m. (Friday only there is an admission charge of $10).
The silent auction runs between Friday morning and Saturday evening at 6 p.m.
Sunday is “Bag Day” where you can fill a grocery bags with books for $7.50, tax included.
This is the first time it will continue for  a fourth day with the “Monday Morning Clean Sweep”  8 a.m. to noon on Monday, November 16, pay $1 and take all the books you want!
The bookfair is going on now at the Coliseum Building at Montgomery County Fairgrounds. Parking is free and they have shopping carts, and accept cash, check, plastic and Apple Pay.
They will choose new recipients for the 2016 Fair over the winter, if an organization would like to be considered for next year, they may write the bookfair  a letter telling them about their group and how the funds would be used, no later than December 31, 2015. Letters can be sent to The Book Fair Foundation, 2181 Embury Park Rd, Dayton, OH 45414.  More information at
They are also looking for new volunteers to join this non-profit organization, so if you love to read- and want to help local charities, consider joining the Foundation.

Legislating morality vs. moral legislation

In a state where recreational pot for adults is fine, we have a high school football team being punished for sexting. Juveniles playing modern-day spin the bottle are facing possible felony charges for making and distributing child pornography. Colorado isn’t exactly a state known for puritanical tyranny like nearby Utah- where Applebee’s can’t be called a “bar and grill”- but some people can have “sister wives.”

In Ohio, a bunch of holier than thou legislators,  are trying to legislate laws to make legal abortion impossible. We just passed a law to “ban monopolies” aimed at a private pot cartel, but not at the casinos that wrote themselves into the constitution without a peep of protest from the Statehouse. Now, all of a sudden, everyone from used car dealers and dentists to hairdressers and morticians may be under new scrutiny caused by passage of Issue 2.

Smoking pot in this state, even for medical reasons is still illegal, and while we’re facing an epidemic of heroin deaths, our solution is still prison instead of health care.

Our “sex offender” laws create an underclass of people, who are no longer free to live where they want, without notices being sent to all the neighbors. Normal employment, basic rights- all out the window- even if your crime was being in love – with someone younger than you, or having had nude photos on a computer of someone who appears to be too young.

Never mind the huge number of African American males being imprisoned for being poor.

I read “The Scarlet Letter” in high school and thought that those days were long over. We’d had the “sexual revolution” in the 1960s- and Roe vs. Wade had settled the abortion issue. Pornography- hard core, had come out of the closet with Larry Flynt and his raunchy “Hustler”- which no longer made any secrets of what a certain part of a women’s anatomy looked like.

The fascination with Bruce/Caitlyn Jenner and celebrity sex tapes is able to captivate the country, yet we still seem to think that our politicians don’t have sex, or if they do, it’s only in the missionary position, with the lights off, with their legal spouse of the opposite sex.

We impeached a sitting president for a blow job, spending months investigating this most personal act, between consenting adults. Yet, when the Wall Street wizards destroyed the global economy- we didn’t put a single one of them on the scaffold, or force them to wear a scarlet letter. Fuck the world economy and you get a pass, fuck an intern and it’s all over.

To bring this into local perspective, the City of Dayton has given up on basic city services- leaf collection, street sweeping, snow plowing, parks and recreation, and even effective policing.

But, we handed $3.5 million to Stuart Lichter of IRG to pillage the Emery/UPS building- and create zero value, without a peep. We’ve bought 3 buildings for half a million each- that have zero public use. We’ve allowed CityWide Development to buy a few more- including this gem of a piece of shit for the same. All without a single cry of immoral uses of the public trust. $2 million went into the hole in the ground on Ludlow- $5 million into the failed Wayne Avenue Kroger- and no trials, no witch hunts, no question of impropriety. We’re handing out $75K checks left and right for office remodels to “help businesses relocate in downtown Dayton” while our property taxes are being hiked indiscriminately and capriciously.

The latest levy- issue 13, was heavily backed by the health care cartel in Dayton, which isn’t subject to the property tax in the first place. And while they scream about low government reimbursement rates for services- any kind of questioning their illegal ad hoc pricing structure goes ignored.

It’s time to stop legislating against sex, race, orientation, and poverty- and start putting laws in place that guarantee equal and fair treatment for all. From corporate welfare disguised as “economic development” to tax breaks for the wealthy and the protected classes (hospital networks) it’s time that no more breaks be given unless they are equally available to all who meet fair and published standards- i.e., no tax breaks for companies that have employees who are eligible for public assistance or that pay their executives more than 20x their median payroll. No incentives for individual companies or industries that may have supported or contributed to political campaigns. Look at the donors to Mayor Whaley’s campaign chest- and see that the Sinclair Supporters bought her election for her.

It’s time to stop criminalizing human behavior- like sex and sexual health, addiction and orientation- and get back to criminalizing criminal behavior like grand theft, racketeering, union busting, labor exploitation and violent behavior that are all much more important than two or twenty teens sexting.

What passes for “news” these days is often just glorified gossip. Actually committing a crime isn’t even necessary anymore- if you’ve been following the pathetic case of a local basketball star who is being punished for being accused of a crime- not for actually committing one.

Which leads me to wonder, how much longer will my ability to publish this blog still be protected?

Read these words carefully-

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

Pastor Martin Niemöller

And start looking at our society with a more observant eye.



Did your Dayton Daily news seem a little less significant this morning?

The Dayton Daily news and Cox Media eliminated 7 people yesterday.

Some, were out on assignment, when the big boss notified the staff who got the axe.

When it’s your time to go, it’s “Hhello, you’re fired, give us your ID and keys and we’ll escort you out. We’ll go through your desk- and mail you anything that we think is yours.”

A few of the people heading out the door, were retirements. But, others were long-time employees, with skills and institutional knowledge. Something that isn’t valued in the puzzle palace on S. Main St.

Here’s a copy of the email that went out:

From: Collier, Jana (CMG-Dayton)
Sent: Friday, November 06, 2015 4:00 PM
Subject: staffing announcement

Staff –

Today we met with seven employees whose jobs are being eliminated as part of our newsroom downsizing. Each of these journalists has contributed to the success of our company and our brands, and I want to thank and honor each one of them for their work and service.

  • Photographer Jim Witmer
  • Reporter Kelli Wynn
  • Reporter Ken McCall
  • Reporter Dave Larsen
  • Manager Rashida Rawls
  • Manager Ken Paxson
  • Manager Kermit Rowe

Today is their last day in the office. The manager for each impacted team has created a transition plan to ensure continuity for our products and audience.

As we continue to evolve our business, I want to make sure you have the clarity you need to focus on what’s most important, to grow and engage our audience. I am working with the content leadership team to shape and focus our teams to create that clarity; to streamline our processes; and to ensure a strong digital future for each of our brands.

These efforts will require 100 percent from everyone. I need your imagination and dedication as we move forward. We’ll have staff meetings in the next two weeks to present plans and to get your input. In the meantime, do not hesitate to reach out to your manager, your director or me with specific questions or concerns. Our brands are strong, and the work you do every day is vital to the success of this company and to this community.

Thank you,


Missing from this list is Meredith Moss who retired- and supposedly Ken McCall, who is on the list- got a full pension. Not so lucky for the rest.

Rumor has it that one TV person was concerned with her personal safety- in case there are angry reprisals.

Gotta love the corporate buzzword bullshit- of “content leadership team”- which must mean “people who troll the internet to find things to publish to create page views” and the “strong digital future” where people actually view our shitty ads on our shitty sites.

When you have people who don’t understand news, journalism, or the city of Dayton- you get what they have, a “newspaper in name only.”

Now, it has 8 less names for bylines on an already thin news hole.

Thank Al Gore for the Internet- and Steve Jobs for the iPad -so I can still read a real newspaper everyday- the New York Times.

Best wishes to those jettisoned. May your careers all take off now that you don’t work for the evil empire.


Only one upset in Dayton

You can pull up the results of the Nov. 3, 2015, Montgomery County elections here:

It wasn’t Darryl Fairchild’s turn after all. Despite falling on his sword to let Jeff Mims take Nan Whaley’s seat, Democratic party pick Chris Shaw beat the former party favorite by a measly 169 votes. Matt Joseph cruises in to collect a paycheck for four more years of doing nothing, and the reign of Queen Nan continues.

In the Dayton School Board race, newcomer John McManus squeezes past Nancy Nearny. At his watch party were almost all the other board members, including his opponent Sheila Taylor. The first issue on their agenda will be if they should renew Superintendent Lori Ward’s contract. My guess is the vote just got a lot closer.

The big success was local defense attorney Mia Wortham Spells beating the Dem party pick- Colette Moorman by 265 votes. Enough that it should be good through the final. Moorman was on the Dem party stupid voter card and should have ridden the coattails of Joseph and Shaw, but she didn’t. For Moorman, a magistrate, the only thing that changes is her new boss for the next 6 years- her opponent.

The Sinclair levy passed convincingly 54-44, with at least three quarters of a million behind it. As the treasurer of I can tell you that this is fine- people will see their tax bill go up, while the taxpayers in Warren, Greene and Preble County- where “no Montgomery County tax dollars are spent” get away with a small tuition increase and NO tax at all. When the big Sinclair levy comes up in a few years- we’ll be ready, and Dr. Steven Johnson can learn to live on a 1 mil levy when the big one fails. He can try charging $50 more a credit hour in Montgomery County- since that’s all this really costs… if you believe his bullshit.

At least Montgomery County voters voted Yes on issue 1, and No on 3 – unfortunately, the legislature pulled a fast one, and now have the ability to do anything they want to any statewide ballot initiative (as if they weren’t doing it already).

Results were held until 9pm because Butler and Hamilton Counties couldn’t get their polling places handled properly. That would be a #fail for Secretary of State Jon Husted who still hasn’t figured out how to overcome the stupidity of the BOE system in Ohio where friend and family get to run elections instead of professionals.

With all the confusion on Issue 2 and 3- I consider this more of a state IQ test than an election. I’ve not looked at the Statewide results yet to see how we Buckeyes did collectively, but I have faith that Issue 3 will rightfully go up in smoke. Too bad “investors.” When Ohioans pass a pot law, maybe we’ll still be able to buy some Acapulco Gold, or some Mile High Weed, but for now, we’re still a pot free state.

My own father was challenged at the polls for presenting his VA photo ID. He held his ground, and one of the supervisors figured it out ok.

That wasn’t true for a friend of mine. She and her husband went in to vote- same polling location as last year, same address, and somehow, her husband was allowed to vote, and she was made to vote provisionally. The difference? He’s white, she’s black and it was a South suburb. We’re still making Third World countries look good when it comes to ballot box access.

The biggest problem still hasn’t been solved: too many elections/candidates/jurisdictions/issues and no reliable source of information. This again turned out to be a low turnout election.

It’s not a true democracy unless everyone has a chance to be heard, and for every vote to count equally. Let’s get to work on that people.

The hole on Ludlow Street

Photo by David Esrati of the demolition of the Dayton Daily News building 1923 addition

The day after demolition was allowed to continue

Last week the Dayton Daily news had the sad, sad story of poor Steve Rauch who didn’t get paid for tearing down a perfectly good historic building. No mention of performance bonds- which is the norm for projects like this:

The company that demolished parts of the historic Dayton Daily News building at 45 S. Ludlow St. has sued Student Suites Dayton LLC for allegedly not paying its nearly $800,000 bill.

The civil lawsuit filed Thursday in Montgomery County Common Pleas Court by Steve Rauch Inc. seeks financial damages and a foreclosure on the mechanic’s Lien against Student Suites Dayton (SSD), which originally planned to build a 350-unit, $18 million housing complex that could serve Sinclair Community College students.

Steve Rauch told this newspaper last week that he stopped working on the project when the billing cost for his work hit $869,000 and he still hadn’t been paid.A demolition contract between Student Suites Dayton LLC and Steve R. Rauch Inc. specifies a payment of $1.292 million. Rauch said he stopped working on the project because he hadn’t been paid.

“What a mess that place is down there, isn’t it?” he said. “I’ve liened it — against Student Suites. They haven’t paid me a dime.”

Rauch said he initially held off on filing a lawsuit, hoping to get paid as the project moves forward. “We are not the bad guy that put a bullet in the deal,” he said.

Through an email, Student Suites Dayton declined to comment.The suit alleged Rauch performed all demolition of the former Dayton Daily News and Schwind buildings, and related services. The cost, $775,195, has been due since Jan. 21, 2014, the lawsuit alleges. Interest of 10 percent per annum on the principal has been accruing since then, according to the suit.

Rauch’s attorney, Gregory Page, said the total owed, including interest, is more than $900,000.

“Based on SSD’s ongoing refusal to pay the sums due and owing, Rauch caused multiple affidavits for mechanic’s lien to be recorded against the property,” the suit alleges. “SSD’s actions, including, but not limited to, its failure or refusal to pay the sums due to Rauch, constitute a breach of contract.

”Besides compensatory damages and pre- and post-judgment interest of 10 percent, Rauch seeks attorney fees and costs, and for a judgment ordering the property to be foreclosed and sold. He is also asking that the plaintiff’s liens be paid from the proceeds of the sale.

The city of Dayton, which originally committed $1 million toward the project, increased that to $1.215 million in April 2014. The city’s share went toward demolition and cleanup of the former Schwind Building property.

Aaron Sorrell, Dayton’s director of planning and community development, said at the time that the money was from additional grants, not city general funds.

Complications arose over the Schwind Building, which was demolished in 2013.

A deed restriction imposed by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development limited use of the property to low-income housing, and the Students Suites project did not qualify.

Sorrell also said then that the Student Suites project was delayed because the developer could not obtain financing for it as a result of the deed restriction.

The plan to rejuvenate the area for housing while leaving the original Dayton Daily News “bank” building — which is on the National Register of Historic Places — was announced in April 2013.

Source: Ludlow housing project halted

Considering that Rauch also “mistakenly” tore down a part of the historic part of the Dayton Daily news building that was supposed to stay, the developer could counter-sue, that Rauch damaged the viability of the project. Of course, the fact that Student Suites probably asked him to do it by “accident” won’t come out until the gloves come off in the courtroom.

Normally, in order to do demolition of any sort- there is a required performance bond- so as to make sure the job gets completed. Someone in City Hall should be getting fired over this, but since that someone is either Aaron Sorrell, or Acting City Manager Shelley Dickstein, no one is saying anything. After all, they engineered this cluster-duck.

Of course, I did a FOIA request on who got paid what by the city. I’m not a full time journalist, but lucky for us, the Dayton Daily news hasn’t fired Steve Bennish- their last remaining reporter with a brain, and he’s coming out with a long piece in tomorrow’s paper (available online this morning).

What bothers me, is that his answers from City Hall don’t match the ones I got.

Here is my request- and my follow up- with their answers:

From: David Esrati
Sent: Monday, October 26, 2015, 10:27 a.m.
To: Bankston, Toni
Subject: FOIA request-

I talked to Stan Early about this on Sat. morning-
I want to find out the status of:
“The city of Dayton, which originally committed $1 million toward the project, increased that to $1.215 million in April 2014. The city’s share went toward demolition and cleanup of the former Schwind Building property.
Aaron Sorrell, Dayton’s director of planning and community development, said at the time that the money was from additional grants, not city general funds.”

Were the funds released? To whom? Whom were they supposed to go to?

Thank you

Her response:

On Oct 28, 2015, at 12:10, Freeman, Angela wrote:

Mr. Esrati:

Please be advised that the funds came from the Moving Ohio Forward Grant, which was used to demolish vacant and foreclosed properties.  We expended a total of $183,591.37.  The funds went to Student Suites to finish the demolition of the Schwind Building.

Angela Freeman | Executive Secretary | City of Dayton | Office of Public Affairs |

Hmmm, only $183.5K- to Student Suites.

So, they committed 1.2 million- but only release 182.5K something didn’t sound right.

Try again:

From: David Esrati
Sent: Wednesday, October 28, 2015, 1:24 p.m.
To: Freeman, Angela
Cc: Bankston, Toni
Subject: Re: FOIA request-

So the million was never released?

And a response:

From: Freeman, Angela
10/28/15, 2:37 p.m.
To: David Esrati

In total, $938,591 was expended directly to Student Suites, under our development agreement.  Of that, $183,591.37 was an amendment utilizing MOF funds.  The larger, original balance was from the Development fund and was $755,000.00.

Other expenditures from the City were:

$220,000 to CityWide

$25,000 to Schwind Building Restoration Project

Who was the “Schwind Building Restoration Project” that got $25K and what did the taxpayers get back?

Who is asking about what CityWide did with almost a quarter of a million? And why aren’t they liable for the hole in the ground?

Why didn’t the city sue Student Suites- who got $183.5K and left us with a hole in the ground?

You think these questions would be answered in the Dayton Daily news piece coming tomorrow from Steve Bennish? But, no.

The best line in Bennish’s piece:

The city of Dayton, which owned the former Schwind building next door and agreed to have it demolished despite a deed restriction and lien on the property, now admits that was a mistake.

Source: Funding problems, legal woes stall downtown Dayton project |

 Because the city allowed a project to be rushed through, before financing was arranged and a development contract in place- the historic Cox building is now sitting rotting.
From the DDn:

A breakdown of city of Dayton expenditures also shows the city has spent $938,591 on the project. That doesn’t include $420,000 the city spent to pay off liens on the Schwind building, which has been torn down.

More city spending could follow. Dayton Interim City Manager Shelly Dickstein is concerned that another round of winter weather could damage the historic former newspaper building.

“We’ve looked at the cost to fill the hole so it’s not sitting there blighting the community and so that the building could be buttoned up and not exposed,” Dickstein said.

Rauch estimates the cost to finish the demolition would be $500,000 — to remove basement walls and fill in holes.

So now the demolition costs are up to $1.75 million.

The crazy part- this exceeds the cost projections former local developer Bill Rain had estimated to turn the Schwind into housing for students and still comply with the HUD restriction, but the city wouldn’t offer to help at all, finally forcing him out of the deal which he was given hope on by his “friend” Steve Budd at CityWide. Rain was going to use the DDn building as first floor retail and convert the upper floors of the very solid building into parking for the project. The historic Cox building- would have been adapted use as well.

However, local “power brokers” weren’t paid off, and Rain left for Tampa, where he’s done a series of much larger projects, including the conversion and adaptive reuse of a hospital into a long-term care and assisted living facility. (Full disclosure, Rain is a friend, and a client, I visited the hospital project several times and saw first hand what he did. I also witnessed his work on the St. Clair Lofts and Ice Avenue Lofts in Dayton).

The DDn even admits that they were all excited about these out of town hucksters with their no-money down deal:

The stalled state of the project is a stark contrast to the excitement that accompanied the original announcement from Cox Media Group that “a preliminary plan has been agreed upon for the sale and revitalization of the vacant historic Dayton Daily News building and adjacent property.”

“In addition to the sale of the historic Dayton Daily News’ building and property, Cox Media Group Ohio is contributing $1 million to restore and protect the legacy of the historic building,” the April 2013 announcement said.

The Cox people were most excited, but won’t say this- to get out of the property taxes on their empty building (they also demolished Channel 7 asap to avoid paying property taxes) and to not have to pay the Special Improvement District tax that supports the Downtown Dayton Partnership.

Bennish does manage to get this gem into the story:

In the 2013 announcement, CMGO (Cox Media Group Ohio) said it had been working with the city of Dayton, Student Suites and a California-based nonprofit, United Housing and Community Services Corporation, to finalize a plan to build an $18 million multi-purpose complex on the property. Sinclair was not involved, but once the project was completed its students would have access to housing just a short walk from their classes.

United Housing would own the project “once it was leased up,” said Sorrell.

Attempts to reach United Housing were unsuccessful and there was no listing for the non-profit in a statewide telephone directory.

In a bond document on file with the city of Dayton, United Housing was listed as the borrower of the proceeds of the bonds issued by the port authority.

Student Suites, the document said, “gathers a team of architects, local contractors and financial experts to provide a completely finished project.”

Note the part about “bonds issued by the port authority”- yet earlier in the article Jerry Brunswick (withdrawn school board candidate), the current straw man in front of the Port Authority (another organization that screws up public money with little oversight):

Jerry Brunswick, president of the Dayton-Montgomery County Port Authority, said in the early stages of the project the plan was for the authority to issue tax-exempt bonds to finance up to $15 million. The bonds would be sold through an investment banker.

“I never heard that the (bankers’) investment committee approved it,” Brunswick said. “And we asked. We were told they never approved it. If there was a lien in front of the property, it would certainly impede a positive credit decision.”

He added: “A lien in front of you is not a great way to sell a project. The project still makes sense. We’d like to issue the bonds and we have a new program that can be a part of this.”

Uh, if it had a lien on it then, and now it has a lawsuit and an unfinished hole, I’d say this deal is dead.

Bennish briefly covered the buildings’ history- but, that back story is full of the institutional knowledge that is needed to really understand how we got to where we were today.

With the long-shuttered Arcade across the street, the Student Suites project was seen as a ray of hope for that part of downtown and possibly a catalyst for future development. Then came a snag.

A major legal hurdle involved the deed restriction and lien on the Schwind building, which was imploded as part of the development plan. HUD had imposed the restriction after funding a previous owner’s plan to put low-income housing there.

Records show the Schwind had a rough history. The city originally acquired the building from HUD in 2003 after the owner defaulted on a HUD-insured mortgage. The city transferred the building to Rain & Associates in July 2004, but the building then went into foreclosure and was sold in 2007 through a foreclosure sale to the Schwind Building Restoration Project. The city re-acquired the building in August 2013 as part of the Student Suites project.

The “snag” was fully known and ignored by the city and by Student Suites. This is what we normal working stiffs call incompetence. That Dickstein failed the Wayne Avenue Kroger – with no contract with a tenant before expending over $4 million to aggregate a 12 acre parcel, using multiple rounds of real estate options, blighting the neighborhood wholesale, and spending enormous sums on appraisals, and negotiations should have been the end of her and Sorrell.

Bennish didn’t talk to Rain. The Schwind Building Restoration Project was when Bob Schiffler took over the project. Schiffler had successfully and beautifully done the old Chemineer building at the corner of Fourth and Main- but, soon after they transferred the property to him- PNC took over our beloved local lender, National City Bank- and called his notes- forcing him to sell his beautiful mansion on Oakwood avenue and regroup. The Schwind was ancillary damage.

The education of Aaron Sorrell and Shelley Dickstein at taxpayer expense is getting expensive. Bennish gets this beautiful piece in:

Sorrell acknowledges that the lien and deed restriction were raised by Student Suites as a hurdle to financing, but he said the developer redesigned the project to make the Schwind site part of a second phase that would kick in when the lien was removed.

“We’ll take responsibility for the HUD lien,” Sorrell said. “But the developer has struggled to find financing.”

Dickstein too acknowledged that the city made mistakes. “Looking in the rear view mirror, the project moved forward without financing in place,” she said. “In hindsight, we would change things.”

Maybe the reason the developer has trouble finding financing is because it’s really hard to do much in Dayton or even Montgomery County, due to it having the second highest tax burden in the state? Add to that, the additional tax to support the Downtown Dayton Partnership which gets away with no blame on this mess. Lenders aren’t bullish on doing any renovations in Dayton- or the use of Historic Tax credits to finance them- not a single one has worked since the Cannery- and that went into foreclosure as well- despite a very high rental occupancy rate. (Rain was one of the initial developers in that project- but left early when it was pretty clear that his partners, Beth Duke and Dave Williams had a different vision. Williams, by the way, after flopping a big project in Clayton, got hired by CityWide).

Before he died, Alan Rinzler once told me that he owned the only building in the central business district (the Talbot Tower) that hadn’t been foreclosed on). This is how damaged the Downtown real estate market is.

Considering the city has been going to town issuing tickets to home owners in South Park for peeling paint (I completed painting 3 of my houses this summer)  it’s crazy that this boondoggle hasn’t brought the wrath of Nan onto someone (I’m pretty sure my neighbors are paying for my sins).

A contract between Student Suites and the city required Student Suites to provide the city “with a fully executed copy of a payment and performance bond issued by a surety authorized to do business in Ohio and acceptable to the city … which bond will guarantee completion of the developer’s obligations under this agreement and payment in full of all contractors, material suppliers and others who contribute to the design and construction of the project.”

Student Suites has not provided proof of the performance bond, Sorrell said, although it did pay to insure the demolition activities.

The city’s Housing Inspection Division last year issued a violation to Students Suites ordering the LLC to remove trash and debris from the area. The city says there was no response to the order, which was sent by registered mail to Student Suites’ Independence, Mo., offices.

Whoa, wait- the demolition permit was issued before the proof of performance bond was filed on a project this big? And Sorrell still has a job?

The final chilling end to Bennish’s piece, suggest more of our tax dollars will go to prop up this clusterduck:

Dayton officials are now working to see how they can at least secure the building from the weather before winter arrives.

“We are very concerned about getting it done in the next month or so,” Dickstein said. “With the freeze and rain there is exposure on the historic building. It’s an important project and we want to see it be successful.”

If no one comes to the table, Dickstein said, “We will explore our abilities to move forward with enforcement action on the historic building and move forward to preserve the building and remove the blight and fill in the hole in the ground.”

A good start would be firing Sorrell and Dickstein, and then liquidating CityWide Development to pay for the fixes, and then dismantle the Downtown Dayton Partnership and start returning the tax to the property owners. Those who want the common area maintenance performed by the “Ambassadors” (minimum wage workers in green shirts hired by an out-of-state firm)  can band together to hire their own street sweepers.

Then, maybe, we can learn to leave the development to the private sector and concentrate on providing basic city services like plowing snow and collecting leaves, and hanging basketball nets on city courts.

And the Dayton Dems hit rock bottom: attack mailings again

Attack ads aren’t smart. Mark Owens ran Rhine McLin’s campaign and mailed ads attacking Gary Leitzell, not once, but at least 3 times.

For Gary, who couldn’t afford a single mailing- it was all the PR he needed.

Today- I got a mailer for Colette Moorman who is running for Dayton Municipal Court. It starts with a picture of her in robes- with a gavel-  which is sort of OK- since she is currently a magistrate.

But, flip it over- and it asks you to compare with her opponent- Mia Wortham Spells (full disclosure, my firm did all the design, print support and website for Mia Spells).

It has two lists of  boxes to check off- with X’s in Mia’s column. Note- that they were both assistant Dayton City Prosecutors- but somehow- it’s good for Colette and bad for Mia. That Mia had a private practice is also somehow bad- as if being an actual attorney- instead of on the government payroll as a political crony your entire career is a good thing.

And, yes, Mia was “Recommended by the Montgomery County Republican Party Screening Committee”- but Mia was also endorsed by the Miami Valley Trial Lawyers Association–  as opposed to a bunch of politicians and labor organizations.

All this is normal – Dems rack up endorsements of the Monarchy of Montgomery County and their puppets- others don’t.

But, when I went to look at the piece again- for the disclaimer of who paid for the campaign- or who her treasurer was- it wasn’t there. Bad candidate. Wrong. Illegal. So much for Colette operating properly. It was mailed by the party- but the mailer still requires a disclaimer.

The problem with election laws like the disclaimer one, is there is no undo button. The damage is done- but, in this case, hopefully- it points out to everyone that they do have a choice- and the right candidate will prevail.

Vote Mia Spells- she’s not a hack.

Colette Moorman_Page_1 Colette Moorman_Page_2As a comparison- here is Mia’s mailer.

Mia Wortham Spells Mailer 2 Mia Wortham Spells Mailer