Faux regionalism plan finds foes pre-launch: must be good

The headline is a joke. “Plan divides Democratic leaders” says today’s Dayton Daily news. Calling them “leaders” is the first miscue, and the second is referring to them as “Democratic” since the party has worked to make sure no one gets elected, or even on the ballot, before first passing muster in front of a select group of a “screening committee” of which Dayton Clerk of Courts Mark Owens and County Commissioner Dan Foley both are a part of. They endorse pre-primary filing, to strongly advise people NOT TO RUN- unless they gain the endorsement. This is how it is in the “Democratic” monarchy of Montgomery County.

The paper says there is a rift between Owens and Foley:

One county commissioner’s plan to unify the governments of Dayton and Montgomery County has apparently caused a rift between the Democrat and his party chairman before a coming announcement this week detailing the consolidation effort.

Commissioner Dan Foley, a longtime advocate for a more regional government, said he will announce the proposal, called Dayton Together, downtown on Thursday. On Monday, Montgomery County Democratic Party Chairman Mark Owens tersely questioned Foley’s merger plan push.

In the letter, Owens writes to Foley: “First, a number of questions have been raised about the transparency of your actions to date, the process you are planning, who is involved and how your plans are being funded.” Foley said this effort shouldn’t come as a surprise to the community as he became active in the discussion as early as 2008 after he was first elected commissioner in 2006. Paul Leonard, former Dayton mayor and lieutenant governor, is co-chair of a 16-member committee working on the charter. Foley said committee members working on the plan would be revealed Thursday at the 1 p.m. news conference at the Engineers Club of Dayton.

“Our first job that we are going to be announcing Thursday is really building this charter so people can then form an opinion about whether they support it or not,” Foley said.

This is just the first step in a months-long process, the county commissioner said. Any charter would have to go to voters and be approved.“We’re asking people to keep an open mind until we finish the charter,” Foley said. “The community has the ability to say yes, they support it, or no, they don’t think it’s a good idea. But we’ve never really respected the community by asking them yet. So what we’re trying to do is build the process,” Foley said.

The result of that process, Owens said, could lead to the disenfranchisement of Dayton’s 140,000 residents when pushed into a larger voting block.

“They won’t have a say in local government like the people in Kettering would, Vandalia would and Huber Heights would.” Owens said in the letter it would diminish Dayton’s ability to help determine police and fire staffing, when streets are paved and when trash is collected.

Regional economic competitiveness and cost savings would outweigh some early growing pains, Foley said. “The question about a more efficient structure of local government is one that’s rooting in how can we compete better for jobs and how do we become more unified,” he said.

Source: Plan divides Democratic leaders

This  “Dayton Together” effort has been going on for a while, only it was called “One Dayton” a few years back. The group screwed a local consultant who was hired to manage the process, and seems to have scaled back the grand plans.

But, let’s be honest about what’s really bugging Mark Owens. Dan Foley used to be clerk of courts. He full well knows that there is only one need in the county for a clerk of courts, one single website for all legal filings, and one database and system- at the county level. That’s the way it’s done in Columbus. Municipal judges, who are limited to hearing misdemeanor cases, run countywide. If we really were doing this right, Kettering, Centerville, Vandalia, Huber Heights, Oakwood, Miamisburg and who knows who else- would all lose their municipal courts- and the patronage jobs that go with them (Owens has a staff of 90 I think). And, the races for Municipal Court judge- plums to hand out to the party faithful in the law profession (just because politicians make laws, we somehow think lawyers are somehow qualified to be leaders, nothing can be farther from the truth) would be harder to control. (We rarely ever have someone challenge a sitting judge in Montgomery County- thanks to an “unwritten agreement” between the parties– another way voters are disenfranchised- by Mark Owens, who DOES NOT BELIEVE IN LETTING VOTERS CHOOSE CANDIDATES).

Let’s be really honest. The idiots in Columbus who keep talking about Ohio taxes being too high are missing the problem. Ohio’s problems stem back to the Northwest Ordinance of 1785 which divided Ohio into 88 counties and gave us this insane structure of villages, townships, cities, counties and a whole other grid of school boards, that has no rhyme or reason, but results in way too much governmental overhead.

80% of Ohio’s population is packed into large urban areas. The rest of it- is rural farm land with sparse population. By electing so many Tom, Dick and Janes, we really end up with quantity over quality and a big whopping bill to pay.

Don’t count Foley as a saint either- his goal is to get a job at the quasi-public slush fund he helped start- the Dayton Development Coalition which will pay him 2 to 3 times what he makes as a County Commissioner- for doing next to nothing (County Commissioners also do next to nothing- since we have a County Administrator who actually runs the county).

The biggest problem in all this is that we have to say “look at this” to legitimize doing the right thing. That regionalism worked in Indianapolis or Louisville or even partially in Columbus isn’t how you make something better- look at the entire State of North Carolina that runs via County Governments and wake up.

Also- stop picking party puppets to get elected by the party instead of the people. That would be a real start to regionalism.

The real cost of private police forces

If only…

I walk into Kroger on Wayne Ave., and there he is, armed, and probably a lot more dangerous than he looks. The private security officer. Kroger pays for him, and that cost is reflected in my grocery bill.

Family Dollar on Wayne, despite multiple robberies, including one where a gun was fired inches away from a manager’s head– pays for a private cop for a few weeks then stops- because if they had to build his pay into their product costs- apparently, people would stop shopping there.

Of course, that hasn’t stopped Miami Valley Hospital from having its own private police force. Note- I used the word “police” not security guard. Sure, we’ll just add it to your bill, which we make up as we feel fit, one price for you, another price for you, and yet another price for someone else.

The University of Dayton has a police department, too. More like a secret service. Get arrested by them as a student, and we’ll deal with you in our secret court and our secret system, even if you were committing a felony. A country of our own apparently.

The rise of private police forces and hired gun security services is a relatively new thing. The real question is should these private armies really have legal standing? And, why are they necessary in the first place?

Some blame the cost of unions and pensions of the real police. Others say crime is rising and we have to protect our fiefdoms.

The reality is that society is breaking down and we’re blissfully ignoring the warning signs.

When the City of Dayton decided that “creating economic opportunity” was more important than essential city services, money started flowing to places like CityWide Development, the Downtown Dayton Partnership, the Dayton Development Coalition, its own internal Department of Economic Development- and then throw in the insane waste of tax dollars buying up real estate that then stopped producing taxes while they sit on it until someone wants to have it for a song…. and dance, promising “Jobs!”

Our police force has basically fallen in half since I moved into the city in 1986. The city hasn’t gotten geographically smaller, and the population didn’t drop by half either, so less police have to deal with the same distances, a few less people, and an economy that keeps making things more difficult to stay on the right side of the law (poverty and crime are closely related).

Take all the money that we’ve spent on the fixing up of the Arcade (the last time- before we sold it to Tom Danis for $36,000), the Arcade Tower ($37 million- later sold off in foreclosure) and the countless little pieces of property that we bought without any public use (no one has explained why the city spent over $100,000 for the plot of land that is now known as Garden Station 20 years or so ago). The latest fiasco at the Cliburn Manor site is only another example of tax dollars diverted from public uses to benefit private parties. At some point, this has to stop.

It’s kind of weird that the biggest tax-exempt organizations in Dayton- are also big employers- and also the owners of the largest private cop shops (Sinclair also has one, but, it’s quasi-government as is Five Rivers Metro Parks which you can add to the list). Suppose both of them paid taxes instead of for their private police forces- and Dayton added another 60 cops to the streets? Cut out Sinclair’s cops and add another 20 or so? Instead of spending $5 million trying to acquire real estate for Kroger to build a new building at Wayne and Wyoming- had another 20 cops on the street.

Now, once you’ve added another 100 or so cops, Dayton doesn’t seem safer, it is safer. Prices at Kroger and Family Dollar and Miami Valley Hospital are lower- because they don’t have to hire a private army to protect them. Tax payers aren’t getting fleeced in phony real estate deals either- that often benefit these big employers as well.

And, guess what, you even created 100 new jobs in Dayton. Ones that protect my business, my home and my peace of mind. We know that the police officers who respond to a crime are well trained, accountable, and ultimately responsible to us- the taxpayer.

And if you need a further reason to justify the ending of these private police forces, remember, Hitler had his own private police force, too.

Uh, no. You still don’t get “economic development” Dayton

Earth to dumbasses the geniuses on the Dayton City Commission, sorry, too little too late.

Sure, your brilliant idea to turn the temporary tax hike into a permanent one seemed like such a brilliant idea- as you watch the last of your victims of taxation without representation move to the tax-free haven of 2nd story jobs at Austin Landing (only the little people on the first floor pay income taxes there).

It wasn’t just the 2.25% income tax, or the fact that they have to pay to park, but, then you had to add a Special Improvement Tax to pay for the “Downtown Dayton Partnership” which hires a Kentucky company to do what building owners used to do for themselves, and cities used to do as part of the general tax. Oh, yes, and then there was the issue of the kids running the streets- during “Urban Fights” – I mean, “Urban Nights” and the general issues around the bus hub. Oh, and, the fact that you let the feds shut down almost every downtown exit on 75 for years- forcing detours and slowdowns to get to downtown- while Austin Landing has that ridonkulously overpriced new exit. You know- the one you tacitly approved of in your “partnership” with ED/GE- another tax funded slush fund that takes hard-working taxpayers’ money and gives it to private corporations- or “invests it” to help out the rich and powerful.

Here’s the “story” from the Dayton Daily news:

While residential real estate in downtown Dayton booms, there is a different tale with commercial development, as entire high-rises remain vacant and workers continue an exodus to suburban office plazas.

Now, after years of losing downtown jobs, the city of Dayton has a new strategy for fighting back.

The Dayton City Commission last week approved a sweeping change to its existing ordinances on property tax breaks in the downtown district that — for the first time — will make incentives available to proposed commercial/office and industrial developments. Those breaks could be 25 percent or higher.

The city will negotiate the breaks with the developer along with the Dayton School Board, which must be consulted by law. The breaks will be allowed in other Community Reinvestment Act areas in the city as well….

Said Mayor Nan Whaley: “We need these tools to be aggressive in attracting business to downtown.”…

Also part of the city’s changes:

Source: New strategy: Commercial developers to get tax breaks

How about this instead:

  • Stop all tax dollar incentive for private businesses that aren’t available universally for job creation- i.e., no single company benefits. Either you meet the payroll criteria or not. This would be countywide.
  • Eliminate all tax-free zones in the county. Flatten the income tax rate to 1.5% on all wages above $24,000 per year per person. Distribute it to each jurisdiction based on numbers of people according to the latest census. No more overhead for small business in trying to figure out payroll per employee per location worked per tax rate.
  • Eliminate any tax support for outside organizations involved with “economic development” forcing all tax dollars to go to actual public services. End support of CityWide Development, The Downtown Dayton Partnership, ED/GE, the Dayton Development Coalition, the I-75 whatever you call it, and even MVRPC. Tax dollars go to projects for taxpayers- cut out middlemen, cut out slush funds, and eliminate overhead.
  • Put a moratorium on new construction unless you buy and demolish an equal number of units/square feet in the county. Get double construction credit for rehab/restore/repurpose of any structure over 50 years old.
  • Until we’re back to pumping at 80% capacity- give away water to large business users in exchange for jobs and investment. The costs of flooding basements is higher.
  • Grant tax breaks for people who work downtown and live downtown to eliminate parking problems. Grant them a break on the first $50,000 of income.

That’s how you can begin to address your problems. Cutting funding for schools is the absolute LAST thing Dayton needs to do right now, that is if you don’t want to see an exodus of the last remaining victims of your bad stewardship of Dayton and its resources for the last 50 years.


Confessions of a rink rat

This was published today in the Dayton Daily News, responding to an earlier article where Kettering Council is deciding the fate of the Kettering Ice Arena. They’ve hired a consultant, to help decide whether to invest more money in the rink- or possibly change it’s use and eliminate the ice.

After school and Friday nights, Sunday afternoons, I spent on skates going round and round the ice rink.

There were pretty girls in figure skates twirling around in the center, and the hockey jocks showing off their wheels before the guards cautioned them to slow down. We all disliked Frank, the rink manager, who insisted on playing waltzes during public sessions off the big reel-to-reel tapes, complete with announcements of reverse skate, couples skate, and ladies choice.

It was at the rink that I made many of the longest lasting friendships. Some of them surviving 40-plus years and hundreds of miles. I watch on Facebook as little Wendy Grace had her own sons playing hockey at the very same rink. Thurmond, who was a rink guard and the driver of the green AMC Hornet that we had so many adventures in, had his son live with me for a while as a UD sophomore.

And then there was hockey, the sport that I’m still playing at 52 in an over-30 league called “Huff-n-Puff” at the Kettering Rec Center. It’s no checking, but not without contact. We’ve got Charlie who flies all over the world for his work with UD, still playing at close to 70. His wife comes to watch every game in his raggedy Toyota with the NY Rangers bumper stickers. For a long time Bob P. was playing. He stopped at 73 to focus more on riding his bicycle. Some of the guys who were in their forties had called him coach when they were 15. There’s Bob M., who’s the skipper of the Dayton Dragons — we’ve let his kid play with us, despite Mike being way too fast for any of us to catch and being well under the age limit — starting at about 16 — so father and son could play together. This year a full-bird Colonel joined us — with her pony-tail, M.D., and a license to fly an A-10- but don’t call her ma’am on the ice.

If you realize that guys drive in to play at 10 p.m. on Thursday nights from as far away as Springfield, Troy, Springboro — and most of these guys have been playing in the league for years — you understand what a special place the Kettering Ice Arena is.

Now we hear that there is discussion about its future. The options: to repurpose the space for something else, to reinvest in the current rink, and even possibly double down by adding a second rink with seating enough to hold minor league hockey games.

A “consultant” has been hired to provide the options so the powers that be can decide the fate of this community amenity.

Arguments that less than 15 percent of Kettering’s residents use the rink ring hollow to me. The same could be said about libraries, public schools, swimming pools, skateboard parks, BMX tracks, soccer fields and the Fraze Pavilion, give or take a few percentage points. The fact that Kettering makes an effort to provide such a wide variety of things to bring people together is what makes it what I consider the best run, most forward thinking community in the county. I’ve often said if Kettering was in the center and the largest community in the county, regionalism would have happened long ago.

As to the rink losing money and being poorly run, what price do you put on keeping kids off the streets in a safe and healthy environment? And, even though I didn’t like the way old Frank ran my rink growing up — there was a lot to be said for reverse skate, and couples skates — he knew more than I gave him credit, even if his taste in music sucked.

That KRC is the only publicly owned rink in Montgomery County makes Kettering a place people want live in and to visit. Wonder what happens when a city loses that ability — look at Dayton where I live.

More than likely the consultant will come back with either shut it down, or double down. For Kettering’s sake, and for the sake of a bunch of old Huffing-and-Puffing hockey players, and for kids who may one day become Olympians — I hope that Kettering realizes what a gem they have.

David Esrati is a middle aged rink rat and mediocre hockey player.
Source: Confessions of a rink rat | www.mydaytondailynews.com

Note- there is another publicly owned rink in Montgomery County- the bastard Riverscape rink, that’s 3/4 size and useless for anything but curling, broomball and a very few public session skaters. That they didn’t build a full-size rink (after already upgrading from a half-size) was stupid. They don’t make 3/4 size Zamboni’s either.

I’ve gotten quite a few notes from people on this piece. The reality is, when the consultant comes back to advise Kettering, we’re going to have to look closely at the recommendations, and then mobilize forces if the answer isn’t to keep it.

There is only one person in the area that would benefit from closing it down- and that would be Randy Gunlock of Austin Landing fame. He has wanted to build a rink in the complex- and bring a minor league team to the region- but, he’s competing with KRC and South Metro Ice rink- right near his location. South Metro doesn’t hold a candle to KRC- and if KRC shut down, there would be a whole bunch of people looking for ice time somewhere in the area.

Hara Arena would also lose if KRC built a second sheet with 1000+ seats- as the Dayton Demonz would probably move. No one should think the Federal Hockey League is a very good investment, but, if the Demonz leave Hara, there wouldn’t be much left to justify keeping the ice going there. It’s really hard for private rinks to compete with publicly funded ones.

There had been plans to build an ice rink on the original Wright State master plan, but it never happened. The Bombers had to spend a ridiculous amount of money to get the ice into the Nutter Center- something that could have been taken care of for a lot less, had the original man behind the Nutter Center, Tom Oddy, listened to a freshman who visited his office on his second day on campus. I made a pitch to put ice in, or at least set it up for ice- for the future. Oddy said he’d just bring in portable ice- and that took the retrofit price from a few hundred thousand to a few million.

The best location for a new rink for Dayton would be at the Fairgrounds- or on UD land along Stewart. With a ton of college kids from the East Coast who already know how to skate- we could see more family friendly reasons to come eat on Brown St and then take in a game or go skating. Throw in a small Cineplex and Dayton might start to see a nexus of accessible family fun. Toss in an indoor skatepark and bike track, and lookout.

There is one other thing to consider- Dayton spent $23 million to build the stadium for the Dragons in the name of “Economic Development”- and very few Dayton kids have every played a game on that field of dreams. Ice rinks aren’t like that. When the pro’s aren’t playing, anyone else can go skate on the very same ice. If Kettering understood how many people came to Kettering- and got a positive feeling about their community just because of that facility- it’s all money well spent.

Time AS Money. The Dayton Time Bank

A long time ago, barter was replaced with currency, and a lunatic science called economics was invented- which later gave us “finance” which led to the insanity of Wall Street having the ability of turning our economy into a joke.

The idea of paper money being worth something is something you were just born understanding in America. You don’t question it, you just take it for granted- “In God We Trust” is all you need to think that greenback actually means something.

But, there are other economies- the black market, the barter economy, the secondary markets of used goods, and then, well, there’s now a TimeBank- right here in Dayton.

I went to an orientation tonight- the first step, and a required one, to become a member. It’ll take about 2 hours of your time- and then, you never have to go to it again. They hold them the first Thursday of every month at 6 p.m. at 624 Xenia Avenue in Dayton’s Twin Towers neighborhood- and the Third Sunday at 4 p.m.- with a potluck dinner at 5:30 p.m. on that Sunday- more on the food later.

The concept of TimeBanking is that everyone has value- and can do something for someone else- and in exchange for that hour, you get an hour in your Timebank- to spend with someone else. You get 2 hours’ credit just for attending orientation.  The system relies on software to match up offers and requests-  I offer an hour of marketing help, you offer an hour of weeding. Your hour is worth my hour. An hour is called a time dollar. One for one. If it sounds like socialism- it sort of is. Neurosurgeon or nanny- your hour is the same. It’s up to you on how many hours you want to earn- or spend and with whom. The site is sort of like a dating site- with reviews of your work, and keeping track of your hours.

The cool thing is- non-profits- who usually beg for volunteer hours, can now reward volunteers with hours for hours- and they are like the Fed- they can keep giving away hours as long as they want. So, my neighborhood can pay me for running my neighborhood soccer program, or for an alley cleanup, Habitat for Humanity or Rebuilding Together, could “pay” its volunteers with hours- and they can then collect from others. All of it- unreported to the IRS- sort of like Bitcoin in the beginning.

You can register as an individual, or a business, or a non-profit. Then, make requests for services if you can’t find someone already offering it.

It’s already happening in over 430 communities around the globe, with over a million hours swapped. And, your hours in Dayton can be spent in those other communities.

The driving force behind this has been Kate Ervin, who got interested in this 10 years ago- before the software was available. Then, the cost of administering the program would have been high- but, now- it’s easy. Some communities charge a cash membership fee- but, with the help of East End Community Services, where Kate now works, they are able to offer it with free memberships.

If your church is a non-profit- and you do community outreach, think about joining. If you are a member of a non-profit that does any kind of community volunteer work- join. If you like helping people- join.

The really interesting part comes from being a part of a community of volunteers who meet monthly for the pot-luck. It’s here, where you meet others who are offering their services- and you can find out who you want to spend your time dollars with.

This is a great way to fill in your professional schedule- and meet people you might not be able to work with using normal dollars. I plan on offering a limited numbers of seats to my www.websitetology.com seminar for time dollars. I’ve got a client who is a psychologist who isn’t set up to take all insurances- who may grow her practice this way.

I hate gardening- and weeding. I love helping people with marketing. Well worth a trade for a few hours a week. In some communities- dentists and doctors have joined.

Here’s a video- and a link to the homepage: https://hourworld.org

and a link to a PBS piece on it: http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/business-july-dec10-maine_11-17/

Deadline to contest tax valuations is Tue 31 March, 2015

If you think your tax bill is wonky- you have a few days left to file objection. So many people have problems with this year’s appraisals, the county decided to run ads and hold instructional sessions on how to file.
I have to file because my two identical cottages are listed as different sizes- and both as 2 bedrooms when in fact they are only 1 bedroom. I also have to file since my house jumped in value- while my quality of life has decreased substantially (something they will pretend to not understand).

However, the web-meisters at the County Auditor haven’t figured out how to update their site properly and make it easy to appeal:

How do I appeal the value of my property?

You can file an appeal with the Auditor’s office Board of Revision. You can request the application be mailed to you by calling 937-496-6856. The application must be filed between January 2 and March 31. All complaints filed with the Board of Revision are investigated and formal hearings may be held to solicit testimony. It is the responsibility of the property owner to justify the complaint. The Board of Revision has the authority to increase or decrease property valuation.

via Montgomery County, Ohio – Questions & Answers.

Go online to call? And to have the forms mailed to you? Really?

Of course not. Go here: http://www.mc-bor.org/ where you get choices- file online, or print and mail. Of course, they want you to pay a “professional appraiser” to argue your case- you know the ones like the sheriff’s sister, who don’t really have to have any real qualifications behind them? Or a real appraiser? You know the ones who did so well that the entire real’ estate market crashed almost destroying the economy?

With my two cottages- it should be easy- different values for each, despite identical size, and both listed as 2 bedroom when in fact they are one bedroom. The house which jumped in value, despite violations for paint etc. will be a little more difficult.

They have a presentation PDF to walk you through the process here: http://www.mc-bor.org/BOARD_OF_REVISION_OUTREACH_2.pdf

However, I don’t trust the county site- so I’ve got a copy on my server just in case: BOARD OF REVISION INSTRUCTIONS PDF

The requirements for finding “comps” as justification of real estate value should have gone out the window right after the market crashed. As should penalties for fixing up and improving property. Setting value by what someone else paid is as illogical as rating teachers by students grades, but that’s another argument.

A simple formula based on square footage, number of bedrooms and baths, type of construction, maintenance costs (wood frame being higher than brick for instance due to paint costs), garage, yard, and age of structure, with a discount figured for length of ownership (long-term tax paying customers get rewarded for committing to their community- and for not causing costs of deed transfer etc.) Taxes should rise for utilization of emergency services due to crime- too many police calls- and taxes go up. There is no reason for the fluctuations, or arguments over base value- nor is it any of the government’s business if I choose to have a $50K kitchen with designer appliances- vs. a  basic kitchen. We pay a sales tax when we buy a stove- not into perpetuity because it’s nicer than my neighbors.

None of the discussion on tax rates will help you with your appeal- but, maybe if we all got smart, we’d vote to change the way taxes are levied and appraised and get rid of this racket.


Fire ratings for renovation

In my last post about the City and inspectional services I mentioned the insane requirements forced on rehabs for fire rating separations and costs of sprinklers. It’s something I’ve had to hear about from people working in the city for years. My friend Bill Rain sent me something he’d written long ago, looking at ways to work some compromise into the system, so I’m sharing it here with you:

With any legislation, you need to predict what groups will be for or against. From our discussions, it sounds like your meetings with fire marshals’ have been positive. My experience has been that the fire unions and any groups representing fireman and inspectors tend to support any code changes that they view as “protective to firefighters”. The same for the AIA (American Institute of Architects) as they like complexity in the building code to support their members. Groups in favor will be builders, developers, ICMA (Mayors and Mangers), etc. As we discussed, I would structure legislation to effect buildings of a certain size (number of stories, height, square footage) as this will garner more support with small to large cities as they both have the same problem, what to do with small multi-story buildings.
Our discussion earlier was around the requirements for 2 hour fire rating. If you take a step back and look at what requires existing building owners to add 2 hour rated walls, this is usually triggered by a “change of use”. I have never liked the concept of change of use as it only looks at the last use. I have bought historic buildings that had residential on upper floors but was abandoned and when we wanted to bring residential back, was told by the chief building official that the building use is commercial and that mixed-use will be a change of use and triggers updated code compliance. As we discussed, 2 hour rating is not the issue if only drywall is required (less expensive). The bigger issue is 2 hour rating with full suppression (sprinklers). Current building code pushes sprinklers for everything. The problem is that most existing buildings don’t have the water infrastructure to support sprinklers. There is the economic feasibility from a cost prospective. These cost include new water service and tap fee (usually minimum 3 inch and a new, more expensive meter and billing rate), splitting the service for both fire and domestic, 2 new back flow preventers, the physical cost to install the sprinklers (anywhere from $1.5-$3 per sqft) and disruption to the existing ceiling and cost to repair.
My recommendation would be a new section to the building code that gives chief building officials flexibility to deal with these EXISTING buildings (new construction is different). The job of the chief building official is to protect human life. I have used the phrase “is someone going to die if we don’t do XXXX”. If the answer is no, then they should have flexibility. The biggest cause of fires in older building is faulty electric and fire started by vacancy. If you want to make a building safe, make them feasible that someone will use it. The new section of code should require 2 hour DRYWALL separated uses and primary egress, new electrical service or existing that has a UL rated panel and MC, romex or vinyl clad interior wire and 2 means of egress. Egress is a big issue. There are multiple issues here. Old stairs usually don’t meet modern rise and run requirements. If space allows, new WOOD stairs should be allowed to be built to meet the primary egress requirements. If space does not allow, the chief building official should have flexibility to look at the new upstairs use. If the use is owner occupied residential space then there should be a contractual way to shift liability to the owner/user. Primary Egress should be treated different if it is commercial and will have clients coming to the space. This does not get into ADA requirements but there should be relief if it is for owner occupied, non-commercial use. For second means of egress, stairs are not always feasible in many buildings. The code should allow for the use of fire escapes or fire ladders.
These changes should allow for many small buildings in downtown areas to be reused. I know your time line is tight so wanted to get some ideas into your hands.

The key thing to think about is are we protecting people or property with these regulations? And, if we’re talking about fire safety- an empty building is always a bigger risk of fire than an occupied one. Let’s focus on keeping and maintaining the stock and making it at least as safe as when it was built- instead of putting unreal expectations. By requiring modern electric service, up-to-code gas lines and mechanical systems, you are decreasing the risk of fire much more than by having empty buildings waiting for an arson. Never mind the fact that occupied buildings generate tax income, whereas vacant ones just create tax burdens overtime.

Practical solutions to protect our community are up to us. If there was one place where we should be evoking home rule- it’s to protect our downtown historic buildings before too many more succumb to the wrecking ball.

What Citi Bank learned from Citi bike

Bike share is coming to Dayton without a sponsor. Instead of being Premier Bike- or Kettering Bike- we’ll have Link.

Not from lack of trying. I made the rounds 5 years ago- trying to drum up interest in sponsorship- and selling the vision. Unfortunately- the number one potential sponsor pays their CEO too much- and has a glorified secretary running their marketing. They just don’t get it.

This little post- and the video- from Ad Age, shows what Citi has learned about the benefit of  “actions speaking louder than words” marketing which is why being a presenting sponsor of Bike share systems makes a ton of sense. Realize that the persistent outdoor branding  of branded bike share can’t be ignored like stupid newspaper ads or TV ads proclaiming that “we’re number 1.”

If you watch the video- listen to the part where she says that Citi sees itself as “enabling progress”- via the branding and support of Citi Bike- what brand wouldn’t want to do that- as opposed to spending millions each year on advertising via major media? Can I ride that ad about your helicopter? Or is my heart healthier because you told me about your cath lab? Hardly.

Citibank’s popular New York City bike-share program, Citi Bike, taught the firm to step out of its comfort zone, stay true to its brand and experiment to keep fresh. Nearly two years in, the company continues to lean on the initiative to strengthen its brand image.

In December, Citi brought its bike-share program to Miami and is seeing strong results in the market so far, said Elyssa Gray, director-brand and advertising at Citi, at American Banker’s Retail Banking conference yesterday. The company also plans to expand the program in New York, which is two years into a six-year sponsorship.

via Citi Bike Taught Bank How to Step Out of Its Comfort Zone | CMO Strategy – Advertising Age.

Bike share branding is one of the few real true branded gifts a marketer can give to a community- in exchange for brand awareness. Really, I don’t need anymore travel mugs, pens, calenders, or t-shirts- bike share makes a huge impact on a community. Benefits include a healthier, greener city- c’mon health care providers, insurance companies- the like- invest in something that will really show that you care about our community.

Call Laura Estandia at Link- and write her a big check. Do it now. Here is her number: 937-496-3825

Bike Share in Dayton is called “Link Dayton”

A link bike in dayton ridden by Omar PetersIt’s official. Bikeshare in Dayton now is called “Link Dayton”

The site via Bcycle– the system vendor is live- and accepting memberships. First 100 get $10 off an annual. I’ve signed up and paid. Membership doesn’t start until you take your first ride.

The system is a training wheels one- with the bare minimum of stations and bikes. Hopefully, as the system gains riders, and fans, we’ll see additional investment and expansion.
From the site:

Link is Dayton’s bike share program. Link will provide users with a fun, safe, active mode of transportation in downtown Dayton. Link can be used for short trips and errands to get around downtown – station to station. Link will launch in May of 2015, providing downtown Dayton with 24 stations and 225 bicycles. Link is a transportation service proudly provided by Bike Miami Valley and Greater Dayton RTA.

via Link Dayton Ohio Bike Share.

I’m not sure if this bike is the same shade of green as the bikes that have been unveiled- but- let’s hope. I found the deep red Bcycles in DC often were hard to spot. The white Velib bikes in Paris were easy by comparison.

The system that was selected is from Trek- Bcycle, the system that I originally brought in to share at the first Miami Valley Bike Summit- back in 2009.

This blog has an entire long list of posts about why bike share is the right thing for Dayton- http://esrati.com/category/bike-share-in-dayton-ohio

Hurry and join me as one of the first 100 members!

Welcome Link.

Update- looking at the map of stations to come (and note, they are pretty easy to reposition) I’m already predicting:

  • UD will realize they need one at the Marriott- and at the Arena.
  • Premier- will realize not having one on the MVH grounds was a mistake. Same with Grandview.
  • One is desperately missing at the Transportation Center Garage- although the convention center one is close. With the shuttles running from the Transportation center to the PHP building on
  • 2nd at Main- this could be a huge route downtown.
  • There isn’t one at the Dragons stadium- although Riverscape seems close- it’s not the same. Some places need more stations and alternates- when I was in Paris the concentration of stops near the Louvre was insane. You could see them – from one to the next- always guaranteeing a dock or a bike.
  • The South side of Sinclair- near the garage is underserved. The number of Sinclair students that could escape campus is huge- the bike availability isn’t.
  • The one aspect of the system that seems to really be missed- is to join with our bike paths- for tourists. Not that the path through downtown is currently usable thanks to I-75 construction, but Carillon Park, Island Park, up to the Boonshoft is missing and over to Sunrise- a great opportunity to add a tourist attraction.


How many clerks do we need?

We saw snow plows in South Park yesterday. First, a neighbor with a plow did a sweep through and later, the city came through. Someone mentioned on Facebook “The City plow went up Park 4 times! How does that save the city $$$?” to which I thought- it’s not about saving the city money- it’s about clearing streets- and most of the time- one pass of a plow isn’t enough.

But, when it comes to clerks of courts- how many do we need? And how many courts do we need? Doing a background check in Montgomery County- there isn’t just one site to look up for misdemeanor criminal offenses- there is a whole slew of them. Dayton, Kettering, Oakwood (not online), Miamisburg, etc. Each with different systems- and sites.

The real question is why?

A friend is considering running for municipal judge in Columbus- and it’s a countywide race. They have one municipal court for the entire county! Imagine that? Proof that it can be done.

For those of you who don’t know the difference between a municipal court and a county court- the difference is that municipal courts only deal with misdemeanor crimes, while the county courts get all felonies. Note- the county courts do handle misdemeanors in unincorporated areas- like townships, or they sub them out to the nearest municipality.

Of course, Franklin County probably doesn’t have near as many patronage jobs- the Dayton Clerk of Court has 59 employees- that feeds a lot of political cronies- who then sit on the party central committee.

Trying to find out the rules about Municipal Court Clerks is a bit difficult. It’s not mentioned in the city charter at all- but ruled by state law. See this webpage for all the exceptions to the rule: http://codes.ohio.gov/orc/1901.31

The Dayton Clerk of Courts position is coming up for re-election, currently held by Montgomery County Democratic Party Chair Mark Owens. The pay is around $100,000 a year- although I can’t find it online.
I’m going to take guesses at the following- if anyone can correct me, I’d appreciate it:

  • 6 Year term
  • Partisan election.
  • Requires different form than City Commission, and only 50 signatures if you are a party candidate.
  • Must be 18.
  • Must be a resident.

Note- ideally, the Board of Elections website should have the duties, qualifications, responsibilities, compensation, filing instructions, etc. on its website for every position that is elected.

I did find this document: http://www.sos.state.oh.us/SOS/Upload/publications/election/2015_CRG.pdf

Turns out the deadline passed if you are running as a major party candidate- but, in an odd case, to run as an independent, you may not need more signatures- and the deadline is later:

: By 4 p.m. on February 4, 2015 (90 days before the
primary election) for party candidates; or by 4 p.m. on May 4, 2015 (day before the
primary election) for independent candidates
Major party candidates: 50 valid signatures, unless otherwise provided in law
(R.C. 1901.31,3513.05)
Minor party candidates: 25 valid signatures, unless otherwise provided in law
(R.C. 1901.31,3513.05)
Independent or nonpartisan candidates: 50 valid signatures, unless otherwise
provided in law (R.C. 1901.31,3513.05,3513.257)

Ad for Harveysburg clerk of courtsOwens is an attorney- but, I’m sure you don’t have to be one, since Dan Foley and Greg Brush are not attorneys and both have served as Clerk of Courts.

Maybe we’d have more money for snow plowing, if we had one county-wide municipal court, with one clerk, and one website.

What brought this post on was a call a week ago from Mike Bock of DaytonOS- asking why no one was challenging Owens- and a reminder in today’s paper that all communities don’t elect a clerk of courts- some hire them, like in Harveysburg.

If Ohio really wanted to have a law about term limits- (which don’t apply to local offices currently) it should be if an elected position goes more than 2 elections cycles without a challenger, the incumbent is forced out, and the position is reevaluated as an elected position.

It’s time to reevaluate a lot of how Ohio is governed, but as long as patronage mills like Clerk of Courts offices sit unchallenged- we’re pretty much doomed to maintain this expensive, duplicative, government overhead.