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:

PETITION FILING DEADLINES
: 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
SIGNATURE REQUIREMENTS:
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.

 

A plan for the Dayton Public Schools

Saying that Dayton Public Schools are second worst in the state is similar to saying that all Muslims are terrorists. It’s great for headlines, it’s great for political speeches, and putting the district “under review” isn’t going to help. What will help is real change.

The first thing to realize is that Stivers doesn’t need help. It’s a Dayton Public School that’s working. Is it a model for the rest of the district- yes and no. Is there a single silver bullet like “mo money” or “better teachers” that will solve the problems- no. There is no Walmart of educational solutions where you can shop and buy 100 new reading specialists to improve your third grade reading scores- they just aren’t available.

And, a warning – this post is sure to piss off a lot of union teachers. Not because I don’t think you work hard, or aren’t paid enough, but that I think it’s time your profession owns up to the reality that your work schedule was designed around an agricultural economy that is so far back in the history books that if it had a copyright it would have been in the public domain before the Internet and project Gutenberg came along.

To briefly summarize why our schools aren’t competitive, we have to look at what began the great slide to the bottom. “Busing for integration” might have worked if it had a fixed ecosystem and the students didn’t have the option of opting out either by moving or going to private schools (now compounded by the option of just as mediocre publicly funded charter schools). Racial segregation was replaced by economic segregation- and in every study known to man, there is a direct, incontrovertible relationship between poverty and poor school performance. We’re not going to get more wealthy smart kids moving back into the district anytime soon- even if we stop letting outsiders buy their way into Stivers (which is a dirty little secret).

So the question becomes how to change the system to work better for poor kids than for better well off kids? How do you nurture children better on a part time basis? First step, you move to a full time basis. This is the heretical statement that is the key to making a real change. It’s the realization that you can’t half ass anything and expect different results.

Here are the three changes that must be made, and there isn’t anyone with the balls to say or do it, but anything less, will not change outcomes:

–End the 180-day school year.

For comparison: http://www.theatlantic.com/past/politics/educatio/barr2f.htm

Japan 243 New Zealand 190
West Germany 266-240 Nigeria 190
South Korea 220 British Columbia 185
Israel 216 France 185
Luxembourg 216 Ontario 185
Soviet Union 211 Ireland 184
Netherlands 200 New Brunswick 182
Scotland 200 Quebec 180
Thailand 200 Spain 180
Hong Kong 195 Sweden 180
England/Wales 192 United States 180
Hungary 192 French Belgium 175
Switzerland 191 Flemish Belgium 160
Finland 190

What have all these other countries done? Made school more like what a real job is like. Prepared kids for a world where you don’t get three months off in the summer. Note, most of these countries also afford their people more than the two weeks of paid vacation which is becoming a pipedream to many Americans.

More days in school isn’t the only part of the equation, it’s about what they do in school, how they approach the educational process. Common-core skills are more like real-life skills- being able to synthesize answers and solutions- through collaboration, research and analysis. These real-life skills often are best learned in what we’ve called extra-curricular or arts and sports programs. Unfortunately with transportation schedules currently ruling and limiting our time with students outside of the normal school day- many of these enrichment programs were cut. And let’s face it- teachers are the only ones who have a 6-hour designated work day with a 180-day year qualifying as a “full time job.”

It’s time to reexamine why our school day doesn’t equal the parents’ work day- not just for adding extra-curriculars- but for the fact that child care for impoverished homes isn’t a luxury- it’s a necessity. Along with the longer year- comes the longer day. It’s time for a 9-5 minimum school day.

The schedule is also critical- year-round schools show much less drop off, the dreaded summer slide goes away. Why a district in “academic emergency” isn’t on a full-year schedule as the first step is beyond comprehension. So, a longer school year (on a year-round schedule), with longer school days and and the reintroduction of the arts- sports, the extracurricular activities that made school worth going to, are key to making positive change happen.

All this costs money of course, but so do drop-outs who will be a burden to society for the rest of their lives by being unable to compete, to earn, to stay out of trouble. The costs of unprepared graduates also costs in the form of remedial courses at the college level, where costs are the responsibility of the student and their families- or, through more money in government grants and assistance.

We already know the effects of poverty on education, we pay for it by supplying meals to all Dayton Public School students “free of charge” (paid for by the taxpayers) because these are often the only meals these kids get. By extending the school day, and the school year- we may see better chances for poor parents to shift child care expenses to being able to cut food insecurity out even more.

We also have to look at how we’re educating kids. More and more, it’s become a matter of teaching to the tests requiring huge expenditures on new course materials driven by a mega business in educational materials that lobbies for “standards” that are ever changing. It’s time to get off this merry-go-round and realize that the world has changed, and that anything you want to learn about is available for free, on the internet. The text book is dead, and the fancy solutions that they are offering as rentals is another educational fad- driven by dollars that are there to be sucked out of government by the industiral-educational machine.

It’s absolutely critical that we learn to teach using the age-old Socratic method.

Socratic method (also known as method of elenchus, elenctic method, or Socratic debate), named after the classical Greek philosopher Socrates, is a form of inquiry and discussion between individuals, based on asking and answering questions to stimulate critical thinking and to illuminate ideas.

This is what the “common core” is- a branded and packaged version of education.

Give the kids access to a digital reader- and there are tens of thousands of free books available via Project Gutenberg and others, that are perfectly capable of being used as reading texts. Books were written before 1923 that were worth reading. We read The Scarlet Letter in High School and it’s just as appropriate today as it was then- but we had to buy our copy. That’s no longer necessary if you have the technology in place.

Part of the common-core skill set should include researching and writing your own textbooks. The skills of adding to Wikipedia, building websites and online communities is critical for future knowledge workers- but we’ve not incorporated these skills into the curriculum- because we’re too busy working on jumping though hoops- instead of creating our own challenges. In the extended school day, school year- part of it should include writing your own books, creating your own math tests, devising your own chemistry experiments, writing your own music- because these are the real world skills you were supposed to gain under ANY educational framework- and have been sorely missed by all industrialized educational systems.

There is one other realization that must be made- and that is that all of our kids aren’t in homes that are fit for living in. Either because of extreme poverty, violence, addiction, special needs, Dayton has a population that is under incredible duress, where school is the only sane place in their young lives. It’s time to have a residential/boarding school as one of the options in the educational process. Either for short-term, or long-term students, to remove them from toxic influences. I’d recommend converting the former Marine Reserve Station on Gettysburg into a campus for kids who need more love and protection than most. An attempt was made to open one in Cincinnati- and failed. This doesn’t mean it’s a bad idea or impossible. It just means we’d be innovators like the Wright Brothers- because everyone knew they were crazy and man couldn’t fly.

Because we’re still stuck with a charter school system that requires Dayton Public to breast feed- one of the things that makes all these things difficult is that kids aren’t connected to neighborhoods anymore. One option that should be investigated is to bus kids back to the closest neighborhood school for the extended after-school programming- the arts, sports, coding and homework time after the “conventional” school day is done. This also allows parents and community to get involved in their children’s programming for tutoring and coaching. something the random distributed system we have now isn’t allowing for. Research has proven that parental involvement is a critical step in improving schools- but with current distribution of kids randomly throughout the district- it’s hard to form hard community and neighborhood bonds. Ideally, we’d move away from spending so much on diesel fuel attempting to “balance” an unequal system- but, for now, we’re sort of stuck with the system we have. Emerson Academy in South Park, a charter school, has a high percentage of neighborhood kids- and still doesn’t have the community as involved in the programs as possible. I’m hoping to bridge that gap in the coming months by beginning a literacy and reading program at the school on Saturdays for all ages.

There are no easy silver bullets to turning around school districts- no number of consultants, no new dollars, no supply of super teachers exist using our current structures. Throw those constraints out and try a different systemic solution and see what happens. Because from where I’m observing- there is only one way for the district to go from second from the bottom- and that is up.

29 Years in South Park

29 years ago the space shuttle Challenger blew up. I also bought a house.

The house had been on the market for 2 years, starting out at $22,900. When I looked at it, it was down to $17,900. I didn’t have a Realtor, and offered $14,500. They took it.

Three months later I contracted Dayton Door Sales to replace the sliding siding doors on my garage with a pair of “modern” overhead garage doors. Next thing you know, I’d broken the law for fixing up my house. I went to the city commission, expecting representation, compassion, assistance- all I got was stonewalled, stone-faced stares. That was the reason I decided that Dayton needed a new mayor.

Apparently so did a lot of other people, and the primary was a 6-way affair- with Mike Turner coming in second to Clay Dixon and me, with my $1,000 campaign, coming in fourth.

So it was only fitting that today I went to the commission again. This time to ask why they can’t deal with a few inches of snow. I explained, when schools close, single parents have to stop work to take care of their kids, meaning small businesses suffer from lack of staff. Kids, who often only eat because they are in school- go hungry. The whole thing is the most anti “economic development” scam going.

I suggested they work on some alternatives:

  • Set alternate pickup points on snow days on heavy duty streets- avoiding driving into neighborhoods with narrow streets. Kids would have to walk a little, but, we could get routes to schools cleared.
  • Open a few strategic schools as day-care centers- staffed to feed kids, and keep them out of trouble so their parents can still work.
  • Or, plow the damn streets.

I suggested that maybe the answer is getting more CDL drivers in city hall to work when we have snow. You know- like the overpaid “economic development people” or the city commission’s staff.

As always- no response. I was the only speaker. The mayor moved on to closing comments, and voila- for the first time in 29 years, Commissioner Williams did the unthinkable- he agreed with me in public- and asked for answers.

Maybe this is just posing for the new city manager? Maybe it’s because I’m right- that this is unacceptable. They called up Fred Stoval, director of Public Works who gave a great song and dance about a lack of salt. Remember, I was asking about plowing- not salt. There are places where you can’t use salt- like Fargo ND, where the temperature stays well below the point where salt is effective- and they don’t close with 4″ of snow. However, my time was up- and no one on the commission is smart enough to question the lame answers.

Turns out, Mr. Stovall can muster about 60 drivers- and work them one 16-hour shift before he sends them home. That’s pulling everyone in public works except the trash guys. Of course, they are now on a 4-day work week- so pulling them for a day wouldn’t kill things unless it’s a week with a three day weekend, but again- no one on the commission engages in critical thinking 101.

He can also hit up the water department to help when clearing downtown. But, again, 16 hours with 60 trucks- no relief. Hello? Ever heard of temps? It’s also questionably legal for anyone to drive with a CDL for more than 10 hours in a 24-hour period, but, I’m not going to get into the legal part of all this. The reality is- 16 hours is mega OT.

The real solution is to have 180-200 qualified CDL drivers for snow duty. That way, you keep your 60 plows going 24-7 until everything is plowed- on 8-hour safe shifts. When the snow hits- there should be no other priority higher. Snow clogged streets hurt our kids, our single parents, make it hard for emergency responders to do their jobs- the only people who benefit are body shop owners- and hospitals that have to deal with the accidents that are results of our political malfeasance.

Face it- this isn’t Syracuse or Buffalo- both the first two snowfalls were under 4″ – there is no reason to close anything for less than a foot- if you have competent public works. We don’t.

This is what we pay our taxes for. It’s time to get our money’s worth.

I’ve been saying this for 29 years- and only today, did the commission catch on, but only barely.

Write a letter to your commissioners- write emails, call, demand better. This isn’t rocket science- it’s shoveling snow. Salt is not the problem- throwing it in our wounded city is.

Here is the contact info: http://www.daytonohio.gov/cco/Pages/default.aspx

and tell them, you too agree with David Esrati.

Thanks.

 

A new tool for successful “Community Based Policing”

South Park has been lucky. For at least the last 20 years, we’ve had a “Community Based Police Officer” or two- paid for by the good folks at Premier Health Partners/Miami Valley Hospital.

Since we’re a Historic District, and they can’t just bulldoze South Park- they figured they better make sure it’s safe, so their employees and patients aren’t scared away- or car jacked on the way to the hospital. At first, we even had a social worker working with the CBP’s as we like to refer to them- to work out issues where the police may not be the best solution. It was an attempt to do creative problem solving. It wasn’t the right answer.

Since the effort began, things have changed thanks to the Internet, Facebook and a strong neighborhood organization. A private group started on FB to discuss and report crime within the ‘hood. Now when your car got broken into- you’d know instantly if you were a single target- or if they had walked a few streets on the way to your car. People would then review their security cams. One of our neighbors who was adamantly against video surveillance- ended up finding out who totaled her boyfriend’s car thanks to a neighbor who caught it on video. We could share mugshots of the people who were police suspects- we now know who to be wary of, and what they are wanted for. But, even with increased information, we were still not getting the results we wanted.

There was one petty thief who kept returning to the neighborhood to live with his mom between stints in prison, and like clockwork, we knew when he was out as garage burglaries picked up. He solved our problem by finally OD’ing on heroin. One problem solved. Unfortunately now, he might be saved by a police officer with Narcan. I’m not so sure I’m a fan of Narcan unless the very next step is always a year-long treatment/rehabilitation program that’s inpatient and that works. Otherwise, we’re just recycling our problems.

This last crime spree was getting increasingly annoying. You’ve seen the post about our neighborhood cancer home, and there have been a few other stories in the news. Enter the most successful crime-fighting tool we’ve found: a former Dayton cop who knows the system inside and out.

He has served as an advocate for the community, collecting all the information about the crimes, the perps, their records, their probation status- and working with the police and the prosecutors to make the case as strong as possible. You know those cork boards of criminal families you see in cop shows- he’s building them and getting input from residents on who is related to who, and who their friends or “running buddies” are. This all takes time.

He’s given the neighborhood the information to write letters to judges just before the case comes to trial. He’s worked with police and the probation department to do spot bed checks on juveniles with court-imposed curfews. With prosecutors, police and probation officials all overworked, he’s served as their criminal concierge, serving up the bad guys for maximum effect when they get to court. The focus on outcomes being reported back in a timely fashion, makes it clear to all that this is now a neighborhood that won’t accept plea bargains, light sentences or too many chances for the low-lifers who are making our neighborhood suffer.

So far, we’ve got about 8 bad actors getting hit hard with the full book. We’re still looking at going into mediation with one crime house to see what it will take to just get them to leave the area. Others are being tossed by landlords who “didn’t know.” Never before have we had such a good flow of information about the courts, the police, the perps and the outcomes.

Here is the secret to successful community based policing in summary:

  • Have a well-defined neighborhood with good boundaries.
  • Have a strong neighborhood organization, with a great online communication structure.
  • Assign at least two police officers to the neighborhood, who come to meetings, share a private number and are highly visible and well known to the neighbors.
  • Provide information on criminal records, mug shots, good descriptions of the problem children to the community. Make it clear who the police think are suspects, and ask for help with license plates, hours of activity, what they are wearing etc.
  • Have a coordinator who knows the police, probation, judges, court system, prosecutors working to collect and organize everything from insurance claims, video surveillance footage, records, and serve as a communications hub between all parties.
  • Monitor judges’ and the prosecutors’ performance, always asking for maximum sentences, and minimal plea bargaining.

In the last month, we’ve seen probation revoked, landlords evicting, cases consolidated and coordinated and even new efforts with “surge patrolling” by the police department, “bait” programs to catch petty thieves stealing, and a heightened level of alert, resulting in more people calling to report even the smallest of criminal behavior, or when we hear gunshots. Things that used to be ignored, now go reported, and have led to arrests.

Ideally, it shouldn’t be this difficult to live in the City of Dayton. Oakwood residents never have to commit this amount of time and energy to providing for their public safety. It’s unfortunate that the focus of our leaders hasn’t been a clean, safe community for decades, but that’s the first level of building strong communities. The foundation. The one that can’t be ignored- ever.

In the next few weeks we’ll find out if more judges respond to these improved tactics and how it changes things in South Park. Will the criminal element that lives and steals here learn that crime won’t pay in South Park anymore? To be continued…

 

The stupidity of snow days

We had four to five inches of dry powder fall last night. You didn’t even have to brush your car off- driving and wipers would blow it all off, yet, schools are closed and even the base is closed. LexisNexis shut down- an internet based business- more so because the employees have to stay home to take care of kids who are staying home. Ripple effect.

Costs to businesses- huge. Cost to community huge.

And, let’s face it- most of the people who get to play hookey for the day- are still getting paid. Teachers- paid. Base employees – paid. Note- these people get paid with tax dollars. The working poor- who are slaving minimum wage jobs to begin with- who now have to make other arrangements for child care- they don’t get paid if they don’t work.

This is called inequity. And the root cause? Government that can’t get the job of plowing streets done. They claim they don’t have the money to do it.

So- simple solution- take the teachers pay- take the base employees pay- and put it into a snow day fund- that pays for roads to be cleared.

Or- maybe, change the laws about snow days- and make them mandatory make up days in the summer- maybe that way, they won’t continue to be paid days off. As to the base employees- I don’t recall the grunts in the Korean War, or the Battle of the Bulge getting days off because of a little snow. Last I checked, we’re still flying missions- and at war somewhere- so there are no excuses for staying home.

Oh, but, the risk of accident or injury from driving in these “horrible conditions”- suck it. Learn how to drive in the snow- or move to Florida. Just kidding- but the reality is, if this city hadn’t sprawled- we wouldn’t have the miles of roads to clear. Bad leadership, still hasn’t taken responsibility for proper emergency services. Need an example- just look at the current fight over who is going to provide Fire and EMS to the Cornerstone project. Seriously, if the ‘burbs and townships can’t get their act together- they should immediately be disbanded and forced to become part of the county- who should be responsible for clearing all the roads- not individual municipalities.

This isn’t my first rant about snow days- here are two oldies but goodies:

It’s time we stopped worrying as much about “economic development” which isn’t governments job- and start worrying about keeping the streets, schools, businesses and military bases open which is governments job. It’s time for the snow sissy’s to be held accountable and made to pay for their lame decisions.

How to get fast affordable business internet in Dayton

Hint- it’s not from Time Warner, it’s not from AT&T and it’s not Cincinnati Bell (they use AT&T’s pipes).
In Dayton- the city- you can’t and won’t get fiber from any of the standard providers.

T-1’s and fractionals are expensive. DSL is dog slow. And you can’t get real upload speeds from cable.

What’s a small tech firm to do?

Call Norm Wentland at Dayton Digital Development (937) 371-3192- and hope and pray you can get an antenna outside your building that can go line of sight to Downtown. Norm is running a peer to peer network over radio waves- and will give you a fixed IP and at least 8Mbs symmetrically up and down for $100 a month.

I mounted my antenna yesterday on the chimney- hooked it up- and got this from www.speedtest.net

Ping 25, download speed 41.43Mbs and upload of 29.64Mbs

Speedtest screen shot from Dayton Digital Development

Yes- the ping is high – most of the time it’s around 19- but the download is a good 10mbs faster than what Time Warner does on downloads and the upload is 6x faster.

Finally- uploading video to YouTube won’t take an entire weekend.

My client at the Dayton Mall with the 3d scans and prints- is struggling with the DSL that’s available there from AT&T. He needs at least 5MBS up- and they are only able to deliver about half that.

How are we supposed to attract business with our water, when our internet flows like frozen molasses? Why are we building parking garages for real estate developers on Water Street when we should be building internet infrastructure for online businesses everywhere? This is the infrastructure of the future- who will need a parking garage after Google perfects the self driving car?

Watching the people from Miller Pipeline destroy South Park streets to put in new gas lines- I’m wondering why we haven’t demanded that all new utility work includes adding fiber to the home? Why should we have to dig everything up again? Unfortunately our digitally delayed politicians have no clue how important basic internet connectivity is.

I posted this on Facebook this morning and already a friend has called Norm. I’ve known about this technology and Norm for years- I’m not sure why I suffered slow internet for so long.

Say good bye to the telco and cable crooks- and get your business up on the fast track.

Here is the real facts on what you get from Time Warner- warning- not quite safe for work:

 

And as a side note- almost all of TW cable and internet was out most of today in South Park because it was windy. Why do we allow ourselves to live in third world internet land?
When Estonia and Vietnam are almost entirely covered by WiFi- and S. Korea has access speeds 20x faster than us, our leadership should have some explaining to do.

In the meantime- you can call Norm.

Tax dollars chasing tax dollars for no tax dollars

If the headline sounds stupid, think about this:

The Dayton-Montgomery County Port Authority owes $1.1 million in back taxes on the parking garage on Patterson Boulevard next to the CareSource building at 220 E. Monument Ave. The 220 E. Monument Ave. building is current on its taxes, but the garage is behind.

via Delinquent Downtown Properties – Dayton Business Journal.

Your tax dollars built the Relizon/WorkFlow One/CareSource building and now CareSource- totally funded with your tax dollars- isn’t paying taxes on the building their people are undoubtedly parking in.

But, it just gets more entertaining.

Despite, being literally right across the street from the garage that’s technically owned by the taxpayers- the taxpayers are being stuck with the bill for another parking garage:

The city of Dayton is moving forward with the financing to pay for the new downtown garage for Water Street.

Commission approved Wednesday a bond purchase agreement to borrow $6 million from the Ohio State Transportation Infrastructure GRF Bond Fund Program. Of that, $2.5 million comes through state loan proceeds and $3.5 million from state infrastructure bank bond proceeds. The funding will help pay for the acquisition and construction that supports the three-story 429-space garage that will serve the Water Street development.

via Dayton to borrow $6M to pay for Water Street garage – Dayton Business Journal.

The first article pointed out that almost one in four properties downtown aren’t current on their taxes- but, there have been no cuts to the “Downtown Dayton Partnership” which is supposedly funded with property taxes in the “Special Improvement District” or SID. Never mind the fact that buildings are dropping in value like rocks- as businesses move to Austin Landing where your tax dollars built a brand new mega intersection and funded development in an unincorporated township- where mysteriously, only the little people pay income taxes (people working at Kohl’s and Kroger and Five Guys pay taxes- people working at Teradata or Thompson Hine- do not).

One must also wonder if the closing of all the downtown Dayton exits on I-75 just after Austin Road was built wasn’t an attempt to squeeze the last life out of downtown- so it can turn into more wrecking bills for Steve Rauch and company? Because one way to cut vacancy rate is to just tear down buildings.

In the meantime, getting a police officer to solve a crime in Dayton becomes even more of a pipedream, as the force continues to dwindle because of budget cuts, retirements and a lack of money to pay cops – because, well, parking garages are more important.

I’m just wondering when the city is going to start building garages for people who are still stupid enough to buy houses in our city? Oops- they tried doing that in Wright Dunbar and it hasn’t exactly taken off.

At some point voters need to wake up. There is no silver bullet to save downtown or your neighborhood. If we focus on the basics first- like snow removal, police response times, solving petty crime, cleaning streets- and making the city building department business friendly- we’d see a lot more progress than these Hail Mary moves to “create economic development.”

We also need to take a hard look at what has occurred at Austin Landing- and stop this idea that we can have these tax dodge havens. Those were all Dayton jobs- maybe the answer is to expand the south airport and annex the whole area into Dayton and turning it into an “enterprise zone” (like at the airport- because, well, that’s been so successful).

Heading into the new year end tax time, I’m looking at our whole screwed up multi-jurisdictional taxing mess and thinking of it as a design problem. How would we simplify the collection of taxes in the region and cut the amount of time wasted on fining and forgiving small businesses who can’t keep up with this rats’ nest of jurisdictions?

It’s really pretty simple- one single income tax rate. A single property tax levy. And an absolute limit on numbers of elected officials per people per square mile. And put a complete stop to investing public tax dollars into private developments- that’s not what we pay our taxes for.

But then again- it’s becoming really clear that only little people are expected to pay taxes anymore.

Front page news that isn’t. DDn racist behavior- those dang black youth criminals

What you put on the front page isn’t always the biggest news- it’s the news you think will sell papers. In the business- the biggest “sellers” go above the fold- so you see it in the paper box window or on the top of the stack.

This article was below the fold- but, it’s there for a reason- to sell papers.

The headline:

One in 3 accused of felonies under 18
West Dayton statistics on arrests show large number of offenses.”

Front page image grab of front page

It’s only news on paper- not online

When you go to the newspaper site online- where there is a “free” teaser area- this article is no where to be found. Had to save the iPad edition to get the link. And let’s be clear, we all know “West Dayton” is a code word for black.

Here is how the article begins:

About one in three people arrested for felony crimes in west Dayton are under the age of 18, police officials said, and juveniles have been linked to a variety of serious offenses in the area, including a string of armed robberies over the summer.

More than 150 juveniles this year have been booked for felony assault, burglary, robbery and theft offenses that took place in west Dayton,

according to data from police reports and records obtained by this newspaper.

Almost 40 percent of suspects arrested for felony theft offenses in west Dayton were minors, compared to 23 percent of theft suspects citywide.

Some West Dayton neighborhoods have a greater share of young residents than the city as a whole, officials said. Education, poverty and socioeconomic factors can play a role in youth crime trends, according to juvenile justice experts.

via One in 3 accused of felonies under 18.

The article continues with more finger pointing statistics:

By comparison, juveniles citywide represented less than 23 percent of felony burglary and theft suspects arrested and less than 27 percent of robbery suspects, according to the police data.

Nationally, less than 22 percent of burglary, robbery and theft suspects arrested are juveniles, according to 2011 data from the U.S. Department of Justice.

We’re in trouble if this is the best quotes we can get from “experts”

Effective intervention programs must target crime-producing needs, such as substance abuse; anti-social attitudes, values and beliefs; anti-social peer associations; and a lack of self-control and problem-solving skills, according to Edward Latessa, a professor and director of the School of Criminal Justice at the University of Cincinnati.

“Montgomery County has a very strong juvenile court and has developed quite a few evidence-based programs to serve youth in the community,” he said.

Dayton police are using analysts to evaluate crime data and police reports each day to determine connections between illegal activities, such as suspects and crime patterns. Officers are then assigned to specific patrols based on the data. Officials said they hope to catch young criminals in the act before their crimes progress in severity.

“The more we can interrupt any kind of patterns, any kind of criminal conduct, the better the neighborhoods will be,” Carper said.

I’ve spent quite a bit of time amongst these “black youth criminals” over the last two summers- hanging green basketball nets on decrepit courts that would get housing violation notices in any other community. Weeds growing through cracks in the pavement that were taller than kids expected to play there (Parkside courts) or rims so rusty you’d have to get a tetanus shot to dunk on safely (Gettysburg park) or backboards so rotted they could barely hold a rim (multiple- but the worst were at Burkham park and Princeton Rec). If you notice something- all these parks are on the West Side. For comparison- go to Jane Reese park in Patterson Park, where there were no weeds, rust, and the backboards and rims were in perfect condition- they even had nets.

I rarely saw adults working with kids on the courts, coaching, mentoring or getting to know their neighborhood kids. One memorable exception was on the old courts from the former Grace A Greene school, off Edison Street, where I ran into a guy with a gaggle of kids- and he was running drills, and teaching them the fundamentals of the game. He was a barber- around 42, and the kids were mostly his own and his deceased sister’s, but this is the kind of intervention we need more of- not police and courts, by the time the cops figure things out and you’re in the court’s eye, it’s already too late.

photo by David Esrati of backboard at Princeton Recreation center in Dayton

Rotting wood, bent rim. This is at one of our few staffed recreation centers

I spent a lot of time at Princeton Rec hanging nets. The courts get a lot of use, and 2 of the rims were the worthless style for chain nets that I had to use zip ties to attach the nets (it took me a year to realize I had to double the zip ties with each attachment point to stop them from becoming a fun game to pop ties by hanging on the nets). I put up three new quality rims at this court because they were missing or so badly broken it had to be done. Note- the Princeton Rec center has full time staff, not many, but some, and I never, ever saw them working with the kids outside. In fact, when I told kids to complain about the backboards and rims to the people inside- the kids told me that the city employees said that it was someone else’s job to take care of the rec equipment at their facility.

I’m not going to go on a diatribe about what needs to be fixed here. My readers are smart enough to know, kids’ youth sports are one of the best and cheapest ways to keep kids out of trouble and interacting with adults in a positive environment. My campaign literature had a picture of my x’s kid, a 10-year-old girl, who was playing football with the Dayton Vikings at the screwed up field on the site of the former Belmont High School. The program had teams at all age levels, equipment for all the kids, and was in a league of about 8 teams based out of Butler County. Figure each team had close to 20 kids, so you had over 100 kids practicing every day of the week in football season.

I ran into Bruce, the “Commissioner” last week at Skyline on Brown. The team shut down last year- apparently the move to Wilbur Wright field didn’t go too well, and the number of kids dropped. All the equipment is in storage. The kids- are on the streets, you know what happens next.

 

 

When surveillance is useful

When the Dayton City Commission entertained entering into a contract for a $1,000-an-hour eye-in-the-sky surveillance system, the civil libertarians and privacy advocates came out in droves.

Never mind that there are already cameras in almost every business you visit, every ATM you use, and even mounted on many homes. In South Park we bought 2 portable HD surveillance cams to be used by neighbors who’ve had problems, and a big debate was on where they could be mounted and what they could monitor (thanks mostly to two people for whom I have very little respect).

Yet, with the shooting in Ferguson, MO, there has been a renewed call for personal video cameras for police officers, something I was talking about back in April of 2013. In the Walmart shooting, there is an outcry for the release of the store video camera footage before the Grand Jury has met. Attorney General Mike DeWine has said it shouldn’t be released before the Grand Jury meets, and for once, I’m in agreement.

Those people asking for the footage, were probably the same ones who were anti-drone cam just last year.

Last Tuesday night, I was on my motorcycle when an idiot decided to turn left and hit the rear of my bike as I tried to radically maneuver out of the way. After he hit me, as I lay on the street underneath my bike, he took off. Had the city had an eye in the sky camera, they would have been able to follow his vehicle and catch him, but we didn’t adopt that technology.

Because I was wearing proper gear, and take my riding pretty seriously, I’m one of the lucky ones who gets to walk away from a pretty bad crash. Apparently, that makes it less important for the police to solve than an accident where there is a serious injury. I went to several of the businesses nearby to see if they have footage that shows the traffic, or the accident at the corner of Brown and Wyoming- but had limited luck. Then I started checking other places along the path that they traveled to get to the point of impact- and voila- video. The insurance company is very interested in finding the guilty party, and is investigating. Not that my accident was anywhere near the same magnitude of the Boston Marathon Bombing, but, given the resources and some detective work, it’s becoming much easier to piece together enough information to solve crimes like this.

The problem is, we don’t have the police department able to do it. Our staffing is at or near an all-time low. This is one of the reasons that they were looking at an eye in the sky to begin with.

However, there is also the just plain dumb luck option too- on the way home from the hospital, I saw a car that looked a lot like the one that hit me- right around the corner from my house. Parked right in front of a friend’s house that has video cameras. Resolution enhancement like what you see on 24 or CSI isn’t really possible- but, time and place, and actions can lead directly to who did it. We’ll wait and see if the person waits for the detectives to haul them in, or if they voluntarily turn themselves in.

I understand accidents happen. I’ve been in a few others in my life, but the punk move of taking off, while a guy is on the street pinned under a motorcycle- is unforgivable in my book. That’s why I’m not going to settle down until we find out who did it.

Just as the woman who used to live in my neighborhood who was so against security cameras (until her boyfriend’s car got totaled in the middle of the night- and her neighbors’ cameras caught it on tape and solved the crime) came around, I’m starting to be a proponent of full-time surveillance.

I’m still looking for witnesses, video, photos, from the night of Sept. 2 at Wayne and Wyoming. Please contact me, or Detective Seiter at the Dayton Police Department 937-333-1359 if you have more information.

13 months later- City of Dayton Discovers Nextdoor.com

Back in July of 2013 I wrote about the community building site called NextDoor:

Recently, I ran across Nextdoor.com which is a really great intra-net solution for neighborhoods. The reason I say intra-net is it’s really built for knowing your neighbors and only your neighbors. It has real privacy controls and doesn’t require Facebook membership as so many other sites do (but it does work with a Facebook sign-in).

The beauty of NextDoor is that it’s based on real geography, with verification of members by your actual residence. Taking info from several sources, it verifies identity and geo-maps you to your neighborhood- which a group of you can define the boundaries of. It allows for notifications like a listserve, discussions, classified ads, recommendations and makes it easy to connect neighbors without worry of it showing up in search.

via How to organize your neighborhood online: NextDoor.com.

Today I was notified that the City is officially adopting it as a tool to communicate with the neighborhoods:

The City of Dayton joins Nextdoor

We are excited to announce that the City of Dayton will be working with Nextdoor to provide important information to neighborhoods across the city. As part of this effort, you will see periodic updates from various city departments on Nextdoor South Park. The purpose of these updates is to share official alerts, news, and other notifications that are relevant to your neighborhood. It’s important to note that city staff can only see their own posts and replies to these posts. They will NOT be able to access or view any information that you and your neighbors have shared on Nextdoor South Park. Communicating with city staff is entirely voluntary, and you can see more information here. Please visit our Help Center if you have any questions.

Wow, what will they think of next- municipal fiber, Sportsplex, digital devices for all DPS students, tiny houses, co-housing, fixing up basketball courts….