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.



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?

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.

A warning to Dayton candidates about their signs

If you remember my position on political signage from the last commission campaign- where instead of signs- I put out trash cans, you know I’m laughing about this one.

Someone downtown is nervous about the battle of the signs- maybe because the endorsed candidates aren’t doing as good a job at mucking up the place.

This went out via email on the 14th (sorry- I’ve been super busy)

From: Owens, David <[email protected]>
Date: Wednesday, October 14, 2015
Subject: Placement of Political Signage, City of Dayton
To: Colette Moorman, Mia Spells, Darryl Fairchild, Chris Shaw, Scott Sliver, John McManus, Nancy Nearny, Sheila Taylor, Robert Walker
Cc: “Landon, Dave” <[email protected]>

Dear Candidate:

Please see the attached information on the placement of political signage in the City of Dayton, and please pass this information along to your campaigns.

Thank You,


David Owens

Montgomery County Board of Elections

Campaign Finance

451 West Third St.

Dayton, OH 45481

Office: (937) 225-5669|Fax: (937) 496-7798 | [email protected]

Here is the copy from the PDF (that I had to make accessible):

SUBJECT: Placement of Political Signage
As we move into the height of the election season please be advised of the following with respect to
the placement of political signage within the City of Dayton:
• Under the Zoning Ordinance (R.C.G.O. Chapter 150), political signs are permissible
“temporary signs” for placement on private property, with the property owner’s consent.
• All signs should be placed in a manner which maintains traffic visibility at all times.
• Political signs are strictly prohibited from placement within the public right-of-way. Those
which remain in the right-of-way may be subject to removal.
• All signs should be promptly removed on November 4th.

Note- they didn’t send a notice to Matt Joseph…. hmmmmm. His signs are all over the public rights of way too. They also neglected to write the Sinclair people- or the state issue people.


Dayton Ohio voter’s guide

Election day is Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2015. Polls open at 6:30 and close at 7:30

If you don’t know where you vote:

If you don’t know if you are registered, (it’s too late to fix this)

There are 3 Statewide Issues. 1 Countywide levy. Three contested races in Dayton. There are three local options on liquor licenses.

State Issues

Issue 1, is changing the process of gerrymandering our state. This is not the best solution possible to end the quagmire we’re in, but it’s an improvement. Vote YES on Issue 1.

At least it will require a little bit of cross-aisle diplomacy in order to make changes.

Issue 2 is what the people who won gerrymandered races are doing to fight issue 3. Do not be deceived by the seemingly noble intentions to “outlaw monopolies” in Ohio- if they’d really wanted to do that, they wouldn’t have let the casino people do the exact same thing with disastrous results. Issue 2 will either accidentally or intentionally, end up giving power to the politicians over citizen initiatives- which they already have proven by their ballot language proposal on issue 3. Vote NO on issue 2. If you want to read more about this- try this conservative think tank position post that says no on 2 as well.

Issue 3 is the pot legalization bill on the surface, in reality, it’s the casino bill all over again. We didn’t learn then, hopefully we learn now. This issue will grant a monopoly to the people who proposed the bill. It isn’t about legalizing pot, it’s about making a few rich people- a lot richer.

I don’t smoke pot. I don’t care if you smoke pot. I don’t think people should be filling up our prisons for smoking pot. I do believe it works well as medicine for some health issues. I don’t want pot smoked in public anymore than I wanted cigarettes smoked in public. I’m convinced that people who are high shouldn’t be driving. But, this legislation- which will bring a whole bunch of single issue voters to the ballot, is not the right way to do this. When something sounds too good to be true, like wiping out past pot convictions, and allowing anyone to have some plants of their own, it probably is. Vote NO on issue 3.

Montgomery County Issue- 13, Sinclair second property tax levy.

Sinclair already has a substantial levy. Now they want to add a second levy. It’s blasphemy to say Sinclair is anything other than our regal crown prince of Montgomery County. It’s a heinous crime to suggest that this organization has grown out of control- taking over teaching high-schoolers, and expanding into other counties. We’ve paid and paid since 1966 to build a resource for Montgomery County residents- and now we are being asked again. Consider these facts:

  • Montgomery County has the 2nd highest tax burden in the state (after Cuyahoga).
  • Sinclair is totally debt free and has a large cash nest egg. They refuse to float bonds like every other school- even when interest rates are the best ever.
  • Sinclair is no longer finding needs and serving them in the community, but instead chasing things like UAV pilot training- and hyping the hell out of it. They don’t teach truck driving- where there is a great need for instance.
  • The school has changed under the direction of President Steve Johnson- with a swelling administration, and an increasing reliance on part-time faculty. Program quality in many areas has declined.
But the main issue is that Sinclair now operates a campus in Warren and courses in Preble and Greene- to which they say “No Montgomery County money is spent”- which is pure hogwash. If it were true that the measly $50 more per credit hour was enough to fund all of that- can Montgomery County drop both levies and let students just pay 50% more in tuition (it would still be a great deal)?
I’m the treasurer of Keep Sinclair Fair, where you can read a lot more reasons why Sinclair should either be forced to pull out of other counties, or charge them all a nominal property tax to continue services before Montgomery County taxpayers add another dime in burden. Vote NO on Issue 13.
City of Dayton
First, the disclosures: my firm, The Next Wave, an advertising agency- does work for political candidates. With my political biases, this usually means I don’t get asked to work for the Democratic party candidates- even though I’m on the party central committee and a ward leader. I will disclose in each race.
Dayton City Commission:
I’ve run for commission more times than I can count (really- I have no idea, how many times I’ve turned in over 500 signatures at this point). I feel very qualified to offer advice on this position, even if the voters don’t think I should be elected to it.
There are four candidates, you get to vote for two. You can vote for just one if you like. It is a vote that guarantees you don’t somehow cancel your own vote.
There is one incumbent, Matt Joseph, seeking a ridiculous fourth term. By manipulating the petition process, he has never faced solid opposition. He is a very nice guy. He contributes nothing but a yes vote to his puppet-master, Nan Whaley.
Chris Shaw is the party-anointed candidate. Despite having 2 black men already on the commission, the Democratic party reneged on a promise made to Darryl Fairchild to back him, if he didn’t run against Jeff Mims, 2 year ago. Shaw is who the party wants on the commission. He’s also a nice guy. But, almost as non-threatening as Matt Joseph.
Darryl Fairchild is a Democrat, running without the party endorsement. Surprisingly, he’s picked up some endorsements from unions- which is a breaking of the ranks. He feels this was supposed to be his seat, which is kind of screwed up- but, I’ll leave it at that.
Scott Sliver is the second half of the preacher posse (Fairchild is also a preacher) and running as an independent. Full disclosure: I’ve known Scott for 25 years- we both started ad agencies about the same time and were friendly competitors, until he gave up advertising for being a touchy feeley singing pastor. I consider him a friend- and he hired my firm to do his campaign materials (except his website). A total political newcomer, he has picked up one labor endorsement.
My first advice- do not vote for Matt Joseph. He’s a placeholder and dead weight on the commission. If he’s ever voted in the minority, or even asked a question in 12 years- I’d be hard pressed to remember it. Our city will never get a penny’s worth of value from his years in office.
So, that leaves Shaw, Sliver and Fairchild.
Shaw hasn’t distinguished himself in any candidate forum. He’s not demonstrated that he can do much except what the party tells him to do. He brings no new ideas to the table.
Sliver is great at listening. He is very empathetic. He has been involved in feeding the poor with his Hope Foundation for 5 years. He’s an advertising guy at heart (and he was very good at it) and will bring new skills to the commission- however, he’ll be like Gary Leitzell- a sole vote in a sea of puppet strings. He may be naive, but, he’ll work for you and ask the right questions. Vote for Scott Sliver
The question is should Fairchild get his “promised seat.” My gut reaction is – “not with my help.” Anyone who thinks they can wheel and deal in back rooms to get elected, and that that’s an OK thing- should get automatic disqualification. However, since he got burned, maybe he learned a little bit- and it’s our first chance to put two people without puppet strings on the commission? Sliver along with Joseph or Shaw is a lost cause. Sliver with Fairchild, means the people are one race away from breaking the stranglehold on our city of the monarchy of Montgomery County. However, voting for Fairchild could put him ahead of Sliver (unlikely based on the primary performance where Sliver came in a solid third). Vote for Darryl Fairchild, grudgingly, because it’s better than the party line.
Dayton Municipal Court Judge
In a rare case of unintended democracy, you have a choice for Judge. Full disclosure- politics makes strange bedfellows- and my firm did all the design work and website for Mia Wortham Spells- and I worked closely with Idotha Bootsie Neal who is helping Ms. Spells run.
The Dems had three choices- and went with Collette Mooreman who has worked as a magistrate for a long time. Mia Wortham Spells is a criminal defense lawyer who has worked in the city a long time. Judicial races are strange- the candidates can’t have opinions- because once elected, their job is to follow the law- especially at the Muni Court level.
My feeling on electing judgeships is that voters have no clue who to vote for. We can’t easily read or research their legal writing skills. We can’t see them in action. We don’t know how they will manage case loads- or how fast or correctly they will make decisions. In the past- the party has backed people who were horrible managers and had tons of cases overturned on appeal- the only real stats you can judge a judge on.
The reality is- our system of local municipal courts instead of a countywide system is a miscarriage of justice. Franklin County has one municipal court- we have a ton in Montgomery County.
I’m going to be diplomatic in this one- and defer to someone whom I trust in this matter to endorse- and that’s A.J. Wagner- who was a judge- he has a Mia Spells sign in his yard- and he’s been a strong Dem for a long time. But, in reality this is more a vote about patronage jobs and a popularity contest.
Dayton School Board
Full disclosure- my company printed signs for John McManus and I offered him technical advice on how to campaign.
This was supposed to be a very contested race. Instead, we have 4 candidates running for 3 seats. Not exactly democracy in action.
Whom we elect won’t really matter- since before this term is over, the State will step in to take over the poorly performing Dayton School System. It’s not the system’s fault- poverty does this to standardized test scores 100% of the time.
That the three incumbents even chose to run is testament to their optimistic belief that they can avert the inevitable. Two of them are guaranteed to win. I can’t think of a reason to vote for any of them over the new guy- McManus, and while I could say that I’ve supported Robert Walker in the past- I think he’s still naive about what needs to happen.
Nancy Nearny almost didn’t make it on the ballot last time- until they found 3 signatures for her. Sheila Taylor is still labor’s favorite candidate- although McManus did pick up a labor endorsement.
The only compelling vote for me is for McManus– who would be the youngest member of the school board. It’s time for some new, fresh thinking. The other three- in reality, you’d be doing the one you leave off a favor- knowing what’s coming up when the state steps in. If I had to pick one to skip on, it would be Nancy Nearny, who cares but seems out of touch with the situation to this observer.
Local Options:
Dayton 13-A- Love’s Travel Stop.
1-A University Shell
9-A Paterson Pub & Patio
If you think voting a precinct dry is a good idea- or singling out a business on the ballot- just wait until we have legal pot. Regulation through piecemeal ballot initiatives is almost always guaranteed to have unforeseen consequences. I’m a big fan of mediation, other enforcement options, but anything other than a new law to regulate a single business. If you live in the precinct- do your research first.
Sorry this is so long.
short rundown.
Issue 1- Yes
Issue 2-NO
Issue 3-NO
Issue 13-NO
Sliver for Dayton City Commission
Fairchild-maybe for Dayton City Commission
Spells for Judge
McManus for Dayton School Board.

Whaley and the Syrian refugees

The vitriol in the comments on Facebook, and even the South Park NextDoor site, was incendiary. “You can have them live at your house” and “why don’t you take care of homeless veterans first” were recurring themes. Recall was mentioned too.

What did Queen Nan do?

Whaley and 17 other U.S. mayors sent a letter Thursday asking the president to increase the number of asylum-seekers America will take in.

Source: Dayton mayor would welcome Syrian refugees

And, I actually agree with her and the 17 other mayors. We should do more for refugees- and we should also ground the Syrian Air Force- like yesterday, but, that’s the question you should be asking Congressman Mike Turner- who takes yet another swipe at Whaley for overstepping her authority.

The parallels between Turner and Whaley are becoming more apparent over time- both lust for complete control and a strong mayor form of government, both love media attention, and both can’t stand it when they hire a city manager who actually tries to do the job.

Whaley is predictable in her actions- she always wants to put herself on a higher pedestal- to feel more important, to pry her way kicking and screaming to the Na(n)tional stage. Her ego knows no bounds.

And, she wants to please people with money- so she can keep her campaign coffers full- and show her prowess at fundraising- the new prima facia scorecard for politicians. Her connections with Miller Valentine, with the Fairgrounds project, the no-bid Arcade fix, etc. are suspect.

The other essential in Queen Nan’s court- is loyalty. There may not be a ceremony involving drops of blood to seal the oath, but, the passing over of Terry Slaybaugh for the interim manager’s job for Shelley Dickstein was most likely due to Slaybaugh’s short jaunt to Milwaukee which was seen as a slight to her royal highness.

There is zero interest for Nan to work to improve service delivery to current Daytonians unless there is a donation to be had or a tent pole accomplishment for her to add to her resume. She just doesn’t operate at that level. It’s the megalomania factor at work.

Dayton is in desperate need of more citizens- as is Ohio. We’ve lost 2 seats in Congress due to population stagnation, and now we’ve lost the speaker of the house. Nan looks at Syrian refugees as additional taxpayers- knowing full well that they also come with federal assistance dollars to help them get started. The idiots commenting on the article in the Dayton Daily news don’t understand that there is a huge difference between documented refugees and undocumented illegal aliens.

The United States was founded and built by “refugees” – and we seem to have done OK. The idea that those fleeing the war zone are ISIS jihadists trying to infiltrate the U.S. is laughable- but, reading comments you’d think they are coming over wielding Kalashnikovs.

The mess in the Middle East is a much bigger problem than just refugees, it’s human rights, it’s religious freedoms, it’s economic, it’s a complete lack of peace and prosperity- and much of it can be attributed to the lack of statesmanship by the political hacks we elect. Europe has an even bigger problem with assimilating refugees than we do, and yet, we’re not working together to stem the flow. Probably because we allow our defense industrial complex to sell way too many weapons to the wrong people- and they in turn buy too many political offices in our country- including Mike Turner’s seat.

If you need to see what refugees can mean to Dayton, all you have to do is look to the Ahiska Turks in Old North Dayton- what was falling down, is now standing tall. And while they didn’t come here originally because of anything any politician did – Mayor Gary Leitzell reached out and made the connections and the “Welcome Dayton” program was born- Nan has had no problem stealing credit and trying to give it to Matt Joseph to prop up her most loyal puppet on the commission.

The likelihood of any Syrians actually showing up in Dayton is small. But, the reality of Nan putting herself on a stage with her heroes Rahm Emanuel and Bill DiBlasio has already happened. Her goal has been reached- and most Daytonians are none the wiser.

The real debacle of Warren Price

Warren Price was highly regarded in his previous jobs.

He brought in an outsider to run the economic development department in Dayton.

He was the “unanimous top pick” of the the Dayton City Commission.

And now he’s gone, and no one on the City Commission has offered a legitimate reason why.

Not only that- they paid him off to leave quietly- with our tax dollars. The paper reports north of $40K- which is almost double the median income of a family of four in Dayton. That’s ludicrous and an insult to the working poor in Dayton.

Putting Shelly Dickstein in charge instead of Terry Slawybaugh was an epic mistake- had Slaybaugh not taken his show to Milwaukee for a short stint after being passed over for the City Manager job- he’d be in it now. With Nan- it’s all about loyalty to her.

The question people have asked me is “What’s the real reason the Price wasn’t right?” Considering I’m on a 3-week motorcycle journey on the West Coast- I’m not in a position to dig around. We’ll see if the Dayton Daily news or the Dayton Business Journal decides to excavate this story.

My guess is that we’re seeing a butting of heads between Nan- who wants to be a strong Mayor leader- and a city manager who wanted to do the job properly- something that’s been sorely missing for the last 20 years. Go back to the Valerie Lemmie/Mike Turner partnership- or Rick Helwig to see how it was supposed to be done.

The only answer I have for Dayton residents is think long and hard before voting for the party boys or the preacher posse come November. I’m going with the men of god. We need someone able to distinguish between a higher power and Nan on the commission in guiding their actions and telling us the truth.

Warren Price we hardly knew you

I interrupt my cross-country motorcycle trip to bring you this update: Dayton can’t have two strong personalities in charge.

The exiting of Warren Price barely 9 months into his job as Nan’s bitch boy is reminiscent of the short stay of the last “change agent” city manager we hired- Bill Estabrook.

Estabrook came to town with great fanfare as Mike Turner’s man for the job, but when he actually tried to lead the city as a City Manager, stealing the limelight from Turner, he had to go.

Rule number one for any incoming city manager from outside the market, when in public, make extra sure the puppet strings are clearly showing. Start every sentence about anything positive with “Thanks to the Mayor and Commission, Dayton is…”

Last time this hit the fan, an internal candidate who had been passed over was put in charge as an interim, until they found Valerie Lemmie. The Lemmie/Turner team managed to dance the dance better than any we’ve ever seen.

Look for recently returned airport director Terrence Slaybaugh to step in. If it weren’t for the fact that he’s done such a good job at the airport, the only stumbling block is if he refuses to accept the term “interim.”

Shelley Dickstein would take the “interim” title in a heartbeat, but, it’s doubtful that she’ll be anointed. Stan Earley has been interim before, and could also be the interim, but, he’s been passed over more times than Manziel throws interceptions.

The reality is, the mayor wants the job. The only thing stopping her is that the party or the commission doesn’t get to name a replacement- the voters do. It’s too late to add a candidate to the upcoming election, meaning a “special election” would be needed. One thing’s for sure, if they choose Nan to step in, Gary Leitzel wouldn’t run for mayor- despite being the best qualified- because the idea of working with Nan would be his worst nightmare.

I don’t know what’s more entertaining in politics these days- the clown posse Republican presidential field- or the “leadership” of Dayton.

I’m getting back on my motorcycle and trying to forget about this latest three-ring circus.

It’s not an enforceable law until someone gets shot

Hookah Star Hookah Bar

Hookah Hell on Wayne Avenue

The Hookah Star Smoke Shop and Natural Juice Bar wasn’t a normal retail establishment. It wasn’t a bar either- it was a party palace, especially after 2am when normal bars closed.

It’s been a sore spot for the South Park neighborhood almost as soon as it opened. Loud music, trash, and the patrons running around the ‘hood at all hours on Friday and Saturday nights. The police had finally started showing up the last few weeks to shut it down and clear it out. They also were checking it out on curfew sweeps the last few weekends at 11- to catch kids under 18 out after 11.

On Aug 3rd after one of the police raids, the owner posted this on his FB feed:

Nimr Ibrahim shared his post. August 3 at 2:46pm · Nimr Ibrahim People think we shut down but we not we was over capacity we was jumping and they come and fuck the night up but its all good we still jumping ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?

Source: (1) Nimr Ibrahim

So he thinks he’s just in trouble for “over capacity” due to fire code. Apparently, the City doesn’t do a good job of explaining permitted uses to him. He was operating the wrong kind of business in the building at the wrong time.

After the shooting early Sunday morning as the police came for a 3am roust, the city finally takes zoning seriously:

The city’s zoning department, on Monday, told the Hookah Star & Smoking Shop, 1243 Wayne Ave. to cease occupancy immediately because the zoning district does not allow nightclubs.

“To me, it’s crazy. They consider a hookah bar a night club – it’s not a nightclub,” said owner Namr Ibrahim. He cited the absence of alcohol, a dance floor and strippers at the Hookah Star to support his claim.

Neighborhood groups said the smoke shop has allowed large crowds to gather at all hours of the night and early morning.The business has been a magnet for noise and troublemakers who often visit the shop after the bars close at 2 a.m., according to neighbors.

Source: Dayton moves to close hookah bar after shooting |

Hmm, not a night club- but “we was jumping.”

No other competent city would have let this go on for so long. Here is a legitimate public nuisance, ruining the quality of life for a neighborhood that has done everything within its power to pick itself up- so successfully in fact, that the property tax values were raised, when everyone elses went down.

If the city spent more time doing the things they were supposed to be doing, instead of buying vacant buildings downtown with no stated public use, for $150K over appraised value, maybe no one would have gotten shot.

Then again, maybe that’s what it takes to get laws enforced in Dayton.