The “unwritten” rule is now published. Is it still “unwritten”? Judicial races in Montgomery County

Because we have morons running the two local political parties like good-ole-boy clubs, we don’t get primaries for much- and when it comes to judges, the decision is usually made in a back room with the doors closed.

Today, the Dayton Daily news made the mistake of actually writing the truth about our judicial elections:

Usually, sitting common pleas judges in the county run unopposed. But McGee faces her second challenge after being appointed by Gov. Ted Strickland in 2007. McGee defeated Dennis Adkins in a close race in 2008.

Though judicial races are non-partisan, sources say there has been a gentlemen’s agreement in Montgomery County that once a candidate defeats an opponent, the other party waits for the next open position or appointed judge who hasn’t faced a challenge.

via Skelton is McGee’s second challenger for judicial job| Dayton, OH | www.mydaytondailynews.com.

The sad thing is the idea of electing judges is moronic- since most voters can’t tell a good judge from a bad one. Reading legal decisions is about as exciting as watching paint dry- and understanding courthouse management is something only lawyers in town can tell you about.

The party ID doesn’t show up next to their name. They can’t say anything about how they will “judge” since they are bound to follow the law. They can tell you their qualifications- and where they went to school- but that’s about it.

In the McGee vs. Skelton race you are really choosing between 2 Dems. Skelton had voted D forever – and only switched so he could run as a party candidate. When you see a Skelton sign in the front yard of one of the most liberal lawyers in town- that should tell you something.

McGee of course, is the daughter of former Mayor James H. McGee- and married to the Dayton’s chief building inspector, Michael Cromartie. More of the monarchy of Montgomery County. Blaming the former judge for her court backlog 6 years later is a major joke. Most lawyers I’ve spoken to think her court is one of the worst run in the county.

As payback for Skelton running against McGee- the Dems are running the unknown Susan Solle coming out after Denny Adkins- the judge who started the Veterans court- and by all accounts is a pretty solid judge.

This is what happens when you let politicians try to politicize everything- instead of having people running on the merit of their legal skills and abilities, the barricades put up by the parties stop good people from running “until it’s their time”- and then only if they’ve done the proper amount of donkey or elephant kissing.

For judge- Skelton, Adkins and Froelich.
For State Supreme Court- we need some dems on the court- even if they aren’t geniuses- John P. O’Donnell and Tom Letson.

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.

 

 

Dayton is failing its kids

History repeats itself. Readers of this site remember what happened to me at the Spring Urban Nights when I went to document a swarm of kids near the RTA hub.

UPDATE @ 10:45 p.m.: Six tickets for disorderly conduct have been issued to juveniles stemming from the fighting.

Most of the skirmishing seemed to located in the area of the RTA hub on Third Street.

Urban Nights ended at 9:30 p.m., said Val Beerbower, public relations and communications manager with the Downtown Dayton Partnership.

FIRST REPORT: Reports of fighting downtown involving at least 100 people have prompted police to ask for extra crews to help restore order.

There are reports of fighting being reported at the RTA hub on Third Street. There have been reports of fighting at First and Patterson earlier.

At 9:58 p.m., Jefferson Street was being blocked to stop civilian traffic at Third and Fourth streets.

Dayton police are asking for additional officers from the city’s east and west sides as well as from the University of Dayton.

via Dayton police responding to fighting downtown | Dayton, OH News | www.whio.com.

I didn’t go last night, because I was pretty sure it would happen again- and I had a ton of work to finish. I wouldn’t have waded into another one of these swarms again.

In front page news, Dayton Public School scored near the bottom of all Districts in the State. Jefferson Township and Trotwood Madison were right there with them.

Dayton Public Schools again had the lowest performance index in the area, with its 75.2 mark ranking. Dayton had the second worst ranking among Ohio public districts, only ahead of Warrensville Heights in northeast Ohio. On another measure, DPS did meet two of the 24 state testing standards, putting it ahead of Cleveland, Youngstown and Canton schools, and tying Dayton with Columbus, Toledo and Akron…

Dayton (2), Trotwood-Madison (3) and Middletown (3) schools ranked lowest in standards met…

Dayton, Trotwood and Tri-County North were the only local schools to receive three F’s in value-added….

Trotwood (74.8), Northridge (73.1) and Dayton (72.2) had the lowest graduation rates, although Dayton’s rate was an improvement from last year’s 69.9.

via How did your schools rank in new state report card report? | www.mydaytondailynews.com.

There is a direct correlation between these two news stories. And there is a solution- and it costs a lot less than what our city wastes in corporate welfare under the guise of  “economic development.”

We’ve abandoned our youth.

I grew up in a community that was more Oakwood than Dayton. Cleveland Heights wasn’t as wealthy, or as lily white in the 70’s but it had a focus on its kids. There were “park monitors” in the summer in parks throughout the city- high schoolers who were paid and sent to parks and school playgrounds with a duffel bag of bats, balls, Frisbees, and a job description of helping kids have fun together. We spend a couple of million each summer on our YouthWorks program putting kids into businesses – but nothing to let kids lead kids. Heights also had outdoor pools, an ice rink, the sorts of things one only finds in Kettering today. School scores aside, I think Kettering gets many more things right in their spending priorities which seem focused on quality of life- which in turn positions them nicely for the private sector to do their own economic development. For those of you who aren’t aware- they have an ice rink, BMX track, an internationally recognized skate park, indoor outdoor pools with waterpark features, enough soccer fields to host the world cup (if only parents were watching) baseball, softball and basketball courts all in top condition.

Dayton, our largest city can point to a few dedicated private citizens and organizations doing the right thing:

Little league LogoFirst Dayton Little League: Located in Dayton, OH, First Dayton Little League is in Ohio District 8 under District Administrator Shannon Walker. The league has been a chartered member of Little League since 1951. Approximately 90 children are participating in First Dayton Little League, which fields 5 teams. The league president is Ron Johnson.

via First Dayton Little League.

The program at Washington Park died a few years ago, due to a number of factors. Here are a hole 90 kids, out of probably close to 20,000 that are involved in “America’s pastime.”

When it comes to youth football- there is a small league that does it’s best to make things happen for the kids.

The Dayton Jets Youth Football and Cheerleading (DJYFC) is a youth football organization based in Dayton. We are a certified non-profit with the State of Ohio and a recognized 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization. We are a member of the Butler County Youth Football League (BCYFL) in Hamilton, Ohio. Also affiliated with the American Youth Football Association (AYF), one of the largest international youth football organizations established to promote the wholesome development of youth with an emphasis on learning, playing, and enjoying the sport while instilling high moral standards.

via The Mission | Dayton Jets Youth Football and Cheerleading.

They involve more kids than the Little League organization. For a while the now renamed “Vikings” team, played on the worst field I’ve ever seen- the old Belmont High Schook practice field- before giving up and moving to Wright Brothers school field. When they asked repeatedly for DPS to help them with an electricity drop and permission to place a POD container, they got nowhere until a connected parent pushed for some help.

From the Dayton Jets site (they ge

Teens who do not participate in after school programs are nearly three times more likely to skip classes or use marijuana or other drugs; they are also more likely to drink alcohol, smoke cigarettes and engage in sexual activity. (YMCA of the USA, March 2001)

Children in after school programs were half as likely to drop out of high school, and two and one half times more likely to pursue higher education, than students not participating. (Fight Crime: Invest in Kids 2000)

Young people need the influence of caring adults and positive role models in their lives. Good after school programs can accomplish that by helping youngsters develop the knowledge, skills and healthy habits to achieve their greatest potential. (US Secretary of Education Rod Paige, 2003)

via Did You Know? | Dayton Jets Youth Football and Cheerleading.

Soccer, the cheapest sport out there, in terms of equipment, is staging a surge, mostly due to the immigrant community- both the Turks and Mexicans get it- and want programs for their kids.

DASA’s Commitment to our Community

Our Value Statement:
Teaching important lifetime skills in soccer, teamwork, and promoting a healthy, active lifestyle, kids having fun!

Our Mission:
To continuously provide a high-quality, affordable, recreational soccer experience for Dayton youth and their families.

Dayton SAY is the official youth soccer program for the City of Dayton Recreation and Youth Services. We are committed to serve the children of Dayton with the same intent, “Building community togetherness, stability and growth using recreation and youth services to enhance the quality of life for Dayton youth and families”.

via Dayton Area Soccer Association – (Dayton, OH) – powered by LeagueLineup.com.

And, lastly, basketball, where we are finally doing something about the decrepit state of our outdoor courts, there are three resources:

For all my visits to basketball courts in the city- I’ve only encountered one “supervised” session, where a 41-year-old barber from Trotwood was working with neighborhood kids, his kid and his dead sister’s 5 kids that he’d taken in, at the old Grace A Greene courts, where there are 6 backboards, 5 rims and a lot of weeds in the cracks.

Going to the city rec’s page- they offer:

The City of Dayton’s Youth Sports Leagues are great for learning sportsmanship, teamwork, and developing athletic talent. In the fall and winter we offer a variety of basketball leagues. In the spring and summer we offer T?ball, coach pitch and kid pitch baseball, girls’ softball, and boxing. We also provide various classes to get youth active and moving all year long.

via Dayton Ohio Athletics | City of Dayton Ohio Recreation | Athletics.

and of course- a video of our very unathletic  mayor making a speech at “Youth Baseball Day.” If you watch the video, you find out that in order to make the field playable at Princeton Recreation Center- it took help of the Cincinnati Reds and three other donors. Our city, while it has no problem handing off a million plus dollars to tear down buildings for a developer without money or a plan, can’t maintain its own baseball fields.

I’m sure there are other programs- one of my favorites is the what used to be called the “Invincible Regulating Striders” and now just the Dayton Striders. A champion drill team that keeps kids busy and gives them goals.

The two diamonds at the end of my street are unrecognizable as diamonds anymore. A neighbor had to spend hours working on weeding the cracks in the tennis court, and then tightened a net to be able to play tennis with his kids.

Our schools have cut gym. Busing makes after school sports a very difficult process for parents. Each neighborhood has kids attending a dozen plus different schools. Scouting is an expensive proposition for low-income youth. Our two Boy’s and Girl’s clubs shrunk to one (where the outdoor courts in the parking lot have 4 backboards and 3 rims).

We filled in our outdoor pools. We sold off our recreation centers or tore them down. We’ve failed our kids.

And then we wonder why our schools are failing and we’ve got kids wilding in the streets?

Scoff at my hanging green basketball nets, (over 500 so far)- but it guilted city hall into investing a reported million dollars in court replacements and upgrades. Now, we need to figure out how to get kids working with role model adults on those basketball courts if we want to keep them out of the criminal courts.

It’s not just a question of can we do better? It’s we must do better. We’re failing our kids.

[update] first comment on Facebook by Jay Madewell- music programs too. DPS has no more music programs (except Stivers). Time to bring back music into the schools. [/update]

If there are any youth sports programs that I missed- or programs for kids in Dayton- please leave them in comments- thank you.

Incompetence of Dayton City Hall on their Street light tax

Screenshot of Dayton Streetlight assessment

I don’t even own my own home according to the city of Dayton

$6.69 was how much the Certified mail cost.

Time to prepare the letter- stuff the envelope with the 4 checks totaling $577.92 to return, had to cost another $20 in labor, paper, envelope etc.

Instead of getting their money now, they’ve turned it over to the Montgomery County Treasurer- adding additional costs- of data entry, and adding to bills- in an installment plan over the next 6 years.

Instead of cash in hand, they now get it in six payments.

All because they claim it wasn’t received by their deadline- despite being mailed in the same city 2 days before.

This, is what we call in business, STUPID.

Obviously, Finance Director C. LaShea Smith doesn’t understand net present value, or labor costs.

This is a horrendous waste of taxpayers’ money.

Just opening letters and posting the accounts would take them days.

Having a hard deadline, while they may think makes things “fair”- without an unofficial grace period, is cutting off your nose to spite your face.

And note, since none of my four assessments was over $250, they never mailed me anything.

The only reason I knew where to go to find out the amount that was due- was because they had sent my father an email with a link to the site with the amounts.

There I was amazed to find out that someone in Beavercreek owned my house.

Still incorrect: Go to http://maps.cityofdayton.org/public/SLSAPrePay/Default.aspx type in my last name and see this (screen shot above):

Voucher Link Account Number Parcel ID Parcel Location Owner Name Owner Name Cont. Owner Address Street Light District Annual Amount (Advanced Payment) Total Amount (Advanced Payment)
View Voucher 15645 R72 02702 0021 113 BONNER ST DAVID ESRATI 2130 HEDGE GATE BLVD B $37.60 $225.60
View Voucher 15652 R72 02702 0028 122 BONNER ST DAVE ESRATI 113 BONNER ST B $16.94 $101.64
View Voucher 15656 R72 02702 0033 100 BONNER ST DAVID ESRATI 113 BONNER ST B $25.07 $150.42
View Voucher 15668 R72 02702 0046 120 BONNER ST DAVE ESRATI 113 BONNER ST B $16.71 $100.26

Apparently, the city IT people are incompetent as well- after talks with someone in the treasurer’s office, they determined that the city was pulling from the wrong data field- and that on my house record, someone had transposed numbers back in 2010 and fixed all the main screens- but just not this one.

Calls to the city weren’t returned in a timely manner- and the issue is obviously still not fixed.

Ms. Smith ends her expensive letter with “We appreciate your support and apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused you.”

How about, “I’m sorry, we like to waste your tax dollars, and cost the city money, because we really don’t know what we’re doing.”

If I was a city commissioner, I’d be asking City Manager Tim Riordan about the competence of his staff. Maybe if they weren’t so busy giving money away to businesses and developers to keep them in Dayton, they wouldn’t be turning their noses up at cash being sent to them.

[update] Soon after posting this, Kerry Gray, assistant to the City Commission, called about this. He took notes to pass to the commission. He told me that only 1.7% of the properties attempted to pay in advance. Can you say #FAIL [/update]

 

Taxi stupidity in Dayton, Ohio. The Uber war is about to start

Uber logoToday is the last day of free Uber rides in Dayton. Tomorrow, the war will maybe begin. Maybe not.

For those of you who don’t know what Uber is- it’s a ride-sharing/part-time taxi service enabled by the mobile Internet. To be a driver you sign up- they run a background check, check insurance and then you become a driver. For the user- you order a ride- and drivers claim your request. You can split the fare between yourself and a friend easily- Uber handles all the financial transactions, and takes a cut.

If the Uber car is traveling at a speed greater than 11 m.p.h.,  the price is calculated on the basis of distance. Otherwise, the price is calculated on time. At the end of a ride, the complete fare (which includes gratuity—Uber’s exact wording is “No Need to Tip” and no option to add a tip exists except to offer it by cash) is automatically billed to the customer’s credit card

via Uber (company) – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Riders and drivers are rated in true social media fashion, as sort of a self regulating system. Although the company promises drivers to make $18 an hour- there are questions whether this is truly an independent contractor situation or an employee/employer relationship- at least that’s one of the ways municipalities are attacking the company.

In almost every city Uber enters that has a standing taxi commission, or some sort of regulation, there has been a war. New York City has been going through this for years now- with the licensed cabbies raising hell about the amateur cab drivers. In a city where a “medallion” has gone north of a million bucks (a medallion is a license to operate a cab in NYC)- the idea that anyone with a car and a smartphone can now be a cab is wreaking havoc on the status quo.

Unbeknownst to most, Dayton has a taxi commission, run by the Police Department. There are rules and regulations concerning the operating of cabs in Dayton- which only pertain to the pick up, not drop off of passengers in the city. There is zero regulation anywhere else in the county. A study by the generally right wing “Buckeye Institute for Public Policy Solutions” said:

A review of taxi regulations in Dayton found that the regulations increase the cost of starting a cab company by at least $67,000. Dayton requires 24-hour, seven-days-a-week service from all cab companies. It also requires a 24-hour, seven-day dispatching office. This effectively prohibits an independent owner-operator from starting a cab business.This may explain why there are 100 cabs licensed in Dayton, but only four taxi companies.

via Taxicab Regulation in Ohio’s Largest Cities – taxistudy1.pdf.

A few years ago I started seeing badly lettered mini-vans “Anton’s Transportation” and was wondering what was going on. Turns out that one way you can get around the regulations is to be a “Medical Transportation Company” which bids to transport patients to doctors’ appointments. I’ve also seen others- that say “not for hire” and “designated driver service” – which is an end run around the taxi rules- where renegade cabs can pick up in the city if they are taking donations ($15 minimum suggested).

Anyone who has tried to hail a real cab in this city- especially at 2 a.m. in the Oregon District, knows they are in for a multi-hour wait. In short- cab service in Dayton is almost as big a joke as our parks and recreation department that can’t keep the basketball courts mowed.

Renegade cabbies risk being charged a $450 fine for being caught operating a taxi in the city. And note, the airport is considered city property- where only “approved cabs” can sit in a cab stand waiting for the odd ride. (Our airport also has funky rules about where off airport parking vans can pick up and drop off passengers- even though they pay a hefty 10% levy on all their customers for the right to drive onto airport property).

There is no proof that regulating cab companies improves the marketplace, the safety, or the availability of cabs in Dayton- in fact, the existence of the taxi commission is just another one of the obsolete rules left over from when Dayton was the driving engine of the region. Now, it just makes doing business in Dayton more difficult.

Considering the constant talk of creating jobs- you would think that an on-demand cab service would be a worthy addition to our local economy, but, just wait until Dayton tries to flex its flabby muscles and tickets the first Uber driver and see what starts to happen.

A racino isn’t economic development

Other than the wages it pays and the services it consumes- a racino isn’t anything other than a way for the state to steal poor people’s money. Compare the economic output of a racino- with the factory it replaced and you start to see where we are headed.

Tomorrow at 6:30 p.m. the Dayton Unit of the NAACP is having a forum on “economic development” at the Dayton Boys Academy, just West of the intersection of James H McGee and W. Third Street. Our mayor, Nan “the demolisher” Whaley is one of the speakers. Having her talk about “economic development” is akin to asking Hannibal Lecter to speak on the benefits of organ donation.

Other speakers include:

  • Catherine Crosby, executive director of the City of Dayton Human Relations Council
  • Richard L. Wright, executive director of Parity Inc.
  • John A. Lumpkin, vice president of Wealth Management, and financial advisor for Morgan Stanley
  • Silvia Anderson, manager of Workforce Services for OhioMeansJobs Montgomery County.

The moderator will be Chris Shaw, chair of the Dayton Unit NAACP Economic Development Committee

“The Dayton Unit NAACP is highly concerned about the lack of Employment Opportunities to include city, county and state highway construction jobs; small business development to include retail outlets, restaurants and service facilities; and the lack of franchise businesses which are so prevalent in other areas of the region, said Derrick L. Foward, president of the Dayton Unit NAACP. We look forward to hearing the great things these leaders are accomplishing from an Economic Development standpoint in Dayton proper, said Foward. “The Citizens of Dayton are counting on you in a BIG way to enhance their quality of life.

“The Economic Development Committee is concerned about jobs, business development and wealth building,” said Shaw. “While we know issues and opportunities exist, by bringing together community stakeholders, we will be able to update the residents of Dayton on collaborative efforts to further these goals. We look forward to community participation,” said Shaw.

via (4) Dayton Unit NAACP.

I’m wondering what “Great things these leaders are accomplishing” too- especially, since business and government keep getting confused. Not a single developer invited. Nothing against my friend Mr. Lumpkin, but, he’s a former banker and now a financial adviser, not a business owner or a developer.

“Economic development” is code for taking taxpayers’ money and spending it where no one else will, or where politicians get kickbacks.

The real question is why businesses don’t thrive in Dayton- well except for CareSource- a tax-funded middleman where the CEO makes millions a year doing what a government employee would never get paid more than $185K a year for.

We could talk about the extra money a small business has to spend on security glass, alarm systems, video surveillance, guards and higher insurance premiums because of the vacant homes, crime and disinvestment. Our police force is half of what it once was, yet the city is the same size.

We could talk about how the city cites homeowners for tall grass- while only cutting public parks 3x a year. Or how there are bushes growing through the cracks of basketball courts across the city, while developers who didn’t do their homework get handed a $1.25 million demolition for free. That’s 1.25 million that wasn’t spent on delivering services to the people that pay for them.

Back to the racino. Because the state guarantees a return on the slot machines, investors had no problem putting millions into building a legalized theft business. No tax breaks, no abatement, no grants. No other businesses, except health care and banking in this country are as free to operate knowing they will get paid no matter what. Other businesses all have to weigh their risk vs. return. In most of Dayton, the perceived risk outweighs its return.

If you want investment and jobs, look around at your neighborhoods- the boarded up homes, the weeds in the streets, the potholes, the broken curbs, the knocked down street lights in the center of U.S. 35 W that never got replaced and ask, why are we so lacking in government services despite paying the second highest income tax in the area?

The answer, unfortunately, is our government started concentrating on “economic development” and forgot about the fundamental premise of running a city properly.

 

 

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….

Shamed them into action

As I just got my 5th box of basketball nets from Tuffy Brooks (thanks to Chad Snoke and Geo Pro Consultants) and went out to do some net maintenance on our parks, I finally have a success story to tell.

Arlington Hills Park, July 27 2014. Rotting backboard. Dayton Ohio

Arlington Hills Park, July 27 2014. Rotting backboard.

Last month I stopped by the “Arlington Hills” park – a double court on a field where the old “Gangster Courts” projects were, and I reported a crappy backboard and graffiti on the court with the “Dayton Delivers” mobile application. Here is the photo of the rotting backboard and lame rim:

There was graffiti on the court, someone has been driving donuts on the court, there are no benches for players. In all- a poor excuse for a park and a court.
I’ve never actually seen any kids on this court, in all my visits- and the nets don’t need replacing as often as other courts.

Today, I stopped by after hanging nets at Dunbar HS, DeSoto Bass, Wogamen Elementary School and fixing nets at a few other places as well as hanging a few on rollout rims for the kids playing street ball.

City of Dayton puts up new poles, backboards, rims at Arlington Hills park

Same spot- new pole, backboard rim and net! Times 4!

I almost couldn’t believe my eyes- four brand new backboards, on new poles, with new rims now grace the court at Arlington Hills Park.

It looks like a place where you actually would want to play a game . It made my day. I’ve also witnessed the demolition of the courts at Burkham Park, Princeton Rec Center and have been told Residence park is being rebuilt right now.

They still aren’t using my “preferred rim” – the First Team FT172D which I think is the best rim out there, but, these are the second best style out there.

Ideally- every court would also have benches for guys to rest, while the game is going on, and a working drinking fountain, since most courts are in full sun.

I’ve heard that Mallory Park is up for repair as well, and a few others this year, with more next year, although no one has told me the complete list.

I only hope the three rims we put up at Princeton are going to be recycled and not thrown out.

This is the kind of city I envision- one where our parks are clean and safe. Our schools are great, our neighborhoods strong and our businesses successful. Even though I’ve never won an election (except as precinct captain or neighborhood president) I feel that my efforts to hang the green nets were the catalyst for the city to finally take action and fix our courts.

I’m still sad that we’ve closed our neighborhood pools and replaced them with spray parks, and that we have no youth sports programs to speak of, but, I hope to keep the focus on keeping our kids on the courts instead of in the courts through sports and recreational programming.

Thank you to all the barber shops and beauty salons, and all of you who donated- and extra thanks to those who bought me nets, rims, zip ties and ladders.

All that grassroots effort- has finally begun to pay off. Or, as some would say- shame is a powerful motivator.

Thank you.

 

Water system safety and regulation

I have a half a dozen clients who run very different types of businesses over the Dayton well field. All have different rules and regulations about what they can and can’t have in their buildings. None of them have any desire to pollute the well field- or our drinking water- that wouldn’t benefit them, or our community, but the insanity of the actual laws should make everyone in this community stop and wonder what geniuses put this monstrosity into effect.

To bring people up to speed, who may not know what our “well field protection ordinances” are- or why we have them, let’s go back in time. About one hundred years ago- when Dayton was an industrial powerhouse. Back then, there were machine shops and manufacturing plants all over our city. There was even a small machine shop in the alley behind my house when I first moved to South Park. It went up in a crazy hot blaze of fire about 20 years ago- and the building was only recently demolished.

Back in those days, companies big and small had no clue what to do with waste oil, cleaning fluids and the like. Some burned it in open pits, others poured it in the ground, others put it in drums and stored it- only to have the drums leak. It wasn’t until the seventies with the charter of the EPA by the federal government,  that everyone got hip to the fact that trichloroethylene, a common industrial solvent was a serious carcinogenic toxin.

Our Dayton well field pumps water out of a giant underground limestone aquifer- said to be one of the largest in the world. And, for a long time, companies in town routinely fouled it. Times changed, with the federal and state EPA regulations. Users of hazardous chemicals were required to maintain extensive logs of their industrial inputs and outputs. Material Data Safety Sheets had to be kept on hand, as did emergency procedures for a spill. The days of wild and wooly hazardous waste disposal were long over by the time the Sherwin Williams paint warehouse burned to the ground on May 27, 1987.

That fire burned for days, with firefighters standing by, trying to contain runoff and not pouring water on the flames- so as not to contaminate the well field. Citizens were terrified that our water supply might get polluted- sales of bottled water skyrocketed and a young Dayton City Commissioner, Mark Henry, introduced his original “Well field protection” ordinance.

If that piece of legislation were still in place, there would be no outcry of the local business owners, but over time, changes in the rules have caused it to be onerously restrictive, very capricious in its enforcement. In other words- it’s silly and enforced randomly.

Photo of BP fuel farm on Brandt Pike in Dayton Ohio

On Brandt Pike there is this little chemical storage facility- right over the aquifer.

One only has to drive out Brandt Pike, just past Stanley Ave., to pass the BP fuel farm where a hundred gazillion gallons of fuel sit smack on top of our well field. A little spillage of the underground pipes would hardly be noticed- and would easily contaminate our water supply. They are allowed to be there- they just can’t add capacity under the current laws.

In the meantime- my baker friend, has a limit of 6 gallons of bleach in his facility. Bringing in the seventh bottle of Clorox would put him in violation. Another friend, who has a machine shop- has reached his limit of cutting oil with his current number of CNC machines, he can’t add a machine, without breaking the law. Never mind the fact that modern day CNC machines are practically hermetically sealed systems that totally prevent leaks- compared to the old school open lathes that were as common as street lights in our manufacturing heyday.

Regulations that are in place now set limits on chemicals based on a base line of when the laws were written. An analogy would be restricting the houses on your block based on the occupants of each home on a random day 20 years ago. If you had 3 kids and grandma and grandpa were visiting- you could have 3 kids and 4 adults in that house, while the house next door- would have been permanently banned from occupancy because your neighbors were on vacation.

The recent situation in Toledo with the algae bloom contamination of Lake Erie is no different than what’s been going on for years in Celina with Grand Lake/Lake St. Marys which is a cesspool of industrial agriculture runoff. This is an entirely different problem- much akin to the old school pouring of toxic chemicals down the drain or into the ground- because companies are too cheap or don’t care about the implications. Sustainable agriculture methods can eliminate almost all of this toxic runoff- but, big ag is more powerful than the people who have to live with their needless pursuit of cheaper crops- even if the side effects are heinous.

If Dayton was serious about protecting our wellfield- there would be no fuel farm sitting over our water supply. But, that would cost hundreds of millions to relocate.

Common sense needs to come to our regulations- with good working relationships between regulators and the regulated, to cooperatively protect our water and our community. For all the “experts” claiming that any changes to the ordinance would put us in greater danger- the reality is, every one of us who has ever cleaned out a paint brush has done more to pollute our well field than many of these regulated businesses. It’s time for some collaboration to come up with a modern, enforceable, realistic set of rules, processes and procedures, and not keep these convoluted rules on the books, because one day, the baker may want to have 7 gallons of bleach to clean and sanitize his bakery, and we wouldn’t want him to be raided by the water protection police.

Dayton Charter review committee: second report

I went to what was to be the last official meeting of the Dayton Charter Review Committee. Former Mayor Richard Clay Dixon was nice enough to recognize me and allow me to participate- at least for a little bit, until the FOP rep decided to be a jerk.

Interestingly- the committee is only working on what it was told to work on by the commission. My questioning of changes needed in the petitions for Commission, with their high propensity for filing failure, were sort of ignored: “that wasn’t on the list.”

Although changes are coming that would make it possible for citizens to finally petition the government to change the charter or to force a vote on commission passed legislation. Currently, it takes 10% of REGISTERED voters to put an initiative on the ballot- which works out to somewhere around 10,000 signatures (Mayor Whaley only had 9,000 votes in the last election as a point of comparison). In the future- 2,500 votes will guarantee an opportunity to get an issue on the ballot.

On those petitions- they will no longer have the “Ward and Precinct” boxes which are on the current petitions- but are tacitly ignored by the Board of Elections- which is odd, because everything else on the form is ironclad required. I’m still not sure if they are going to require notarized signatures of signature gatherers- an absolutely meaningless step that only does one thing- guarantees that last-minute signatures are almost impossible to collect. Having a Notary witness a signature of a petition gatherer has zero relevance over the validity of any of the collected signatures- so what’s the point?

No mention of the elimination of the “Nominating committee” as well. This archaic idea makes zero sense- and was proved to mean nothing when William Pace turned in over 650 legitimate signatures on petitions- but wasn’t allowed on the ballot because he hadn’t signed a clause that he would accept the chance to run. If the nominating committee was “empowered” by the 500+ valid signatures- then they should have been able to pick any qualified candidate they like- regardless of if William had “accepted” the nomination. And besides, no nomination is valid until the “handwriting experts” at the Board of Elections certify a petition- so how can you accept something you aren’t qualified to run for yet?

Apparently- much of the committee’s time was spent arguing over protecting the hiring practices that are in place, with the FOP, IAFF and AFSCME reps all voting to delay the final work of the committee to the commission until they have another meeting- which is scheduled for tomorrow, Monday, Aug. 4, at 3:30.

Generally, the meeting was run by former city Planning Director, Paul Woodie, the go to guy for anyone who wants anything done in Dayton. He left the city to work for Premier Health Network for quite a while- kicking off the changes in the Fairgrounds neighborhood – which is now becoming more UD housing despite promises by the city and MVH for it not to be.  Paul pushed off the discussion of the last issue that the Commission chartered them with investigating- the ability to create townships within the city- a bizarre request, which he claimed would require too much investigation into State law. I can just see it now- as South Park would petition to become a Township- eliminating the city income tax- and expanding our boundaries to include UD- since we already have MVH within our planning district. Another tax free haven… to pretend to be a part of our community like Washington, Miami, Harrison, Butler, etc., townships- where drama and mismanagement are the norm.

I’m posting PDF’s of the documents I picked up. I’m not sure what the city commission will do with these recommendations- or if they even have to abide by them. Our Charter is an antique that’s desperately in need of updating- but, there weren’t very many engaged people in the meeting I sat through- with one exception- one young lady who did want to know why the petitions weren’t part of the discussion (I circulated a proposed redesign of the current petition)  and she also caught a double negative that they were proposing as a change.

If the recommendations all make it to the ballot this fall, it may be possible for us to fix the petition process in the March primary once and for all. They are also setting a ten-year requirement for review- something that is currently missing.

Of course, no changes are being made to the current language for a recall- which requires 25% of the registered voters’ signatures- or 25,000 signatures. Nope, Mayor Nan and Crew likes their cushy safe jobs; too much to risk having to answer to the public.

Typically, the charter has only been revised when the commission has needed to change something like how bonds are handled or taxes raised to keep the city out of trouble. To proactively fix fundamental flaws is a rare occasion. We will see what makes it from this committee onto the ballot soon enough.