Hazel Rountree on Hazel Rountree

I’m sorry- when I run for public office, it’s about serving the people of the community. It’s because I believe in representing people and helping our community. When I first heard Hazel Rountree talk about why she was running for Dayton City Commission, despite barely completing half of her Dayton School Board term I was aghast. I didn’t think there was anyone stupid enough to say I’m running “because there is a vacancy without an incumbent.” No, voters really are that stupid- and need that explained, and that’s why she “was called” to run.

But, apparently, Ms. Rountree, who already has a high-paying government job working for the president of Wright State University, thinks that once you get elected to the City Commission, it’s a seat for life- because, well, there isn’t an incumbent. Watch this “educated” and “wise” candidate, tell us how it is.

I’ve got the entire candidates’ night video here, if you want to learn more about Darryl Fairchild, Scott Sliver, Chris Shaw and Municipal Court judicial candidate Mia Wortham Spells- who doesn’t have a primary.

Matt Joseph wasn’t in attendance, he’s the one incumbent, who according to Hazel has a job for life.

In all my time on the campaign trail, I’ve heard some pretty horrible candidates, but, I’ve never heard anyone like Hazel who not only takes themself so seriously, but would tell you “it’s their time” because the seat is open. For all her self-proclaimed wisdom and intelligence, I’ve never heard anything as flat-out stupid as her answer to a very legitimate question.

If there is one candidate I hope you don’t ever vote for again, it’s Hazel Rountree.

Daredevil on Netflix. Dayton and its Wilson Fisks

Daredevil on Netflix teaser imageIt isn’t often I make media recommendations on this site. The last one (out of the 2500 or so posts on this site) that I remember, was to go see “An inconvenient truth” and that was in 2006.

And now, I’m going to recommend you watch Marvel’s Daredevil on Netflix. All 13 hours of it. Forget “House of Cards” as the examination into the depths of our failed political system, so much more can be said with allegory.

For those of you who never read comic books, Daredevil was a sideshow in the Marvel metaverse, almost a novelty character. He was a blind lawyer, who after losing his sight at 9 while saving a man by pushing him out of the way of a speeding car, gained incredible powers of using his other senses to “see” the world around us- right down to listening to your heartbeat to see if you were telling the truth. He wasn’t out to save the world, just to turn his community around, Hell’s Kitchen in NYC. He didn’t use a gun, just his hands and martial arts tools, to bring bad people to justice.

The story, once you get past the idea that a blind man can see with a sonar sense, is that of good vs evil, and the way that the line between the two can be foggy. The demarcation is often in the eyes of the beholder.

The story line of the Netflix version of Daredevil is the struggle between an all-powerful man behind the curtain, also a native of Hell’s Kitchen, who has his vision of a “Better tomorrow” for this down-on-the-luck community. Although he’s never referred to as “The Kingpin” in this season, Wilson Fisk, played by Vincent D’Onofrio is a believable bad guy, which is part of what makes this show so worth watching. In advertising as in almost everything else, when it’s believable, when it’s based on fundamental human truths, it has a much deeper emotional connection with those who experience it.

D’Onofrio will be nominated for Emmy awards for his performance, channeling his inner Marlon Brando, commanding the screen with his expressions and posture as much as his words and actions. The others in the cast, seemed resoundingly human, compared to other Marvel Epic Productions, where the right words, the wink and the nod, gave away that this was fantasy fiction. Daredevil is not campy, it isn’t funny, and the good guys get hurt both physically and emotionally. This is Marvel at both its darkest and brightest at the same time.

Comic books were traditionally short, 18 pages of art, 18 pages of ads for things like Xray vision glasses and sea monkeys. The static art would leap off the page, and often say more than the words that were in the thought bubbles, speech bubbles or the third person narrators voice- often that of Stan Lee- with his “Welcome fearless readers.” (Note, of all the naming projects I’ve done in my real world job of advertising- one of the companies I’m most proud of naming is “Fearless Readers,” a comic book shop in East Dayton). To read a comic book didn’t take very long- but to understand it- took a whole backstory/history lesson. Not much different than understanding how Dayton and Hell’s Kitchen got to be the communities they became. It’s not a short newspaper story that really tells you much, it’s the accumulation of that back story- of the understanding of all the plots that twist and weave into the fabric of where we are today.

With every Marvel story told in movies, I felt shortchanged. All my history lessons in the Marvel universe weren’t needed- it had been condensed, compressed and manipulated into an action packed box office powerhouse- that took years of reading and shoved it into a 2-hour box. XMen, Iron Man, Captain America and even the Avengers left me feeling like I’d just bought the Cliffs Notes instead of reading the classic. Not so with Daredevil over the course of 13 hours. (Thank the recent hernia operation for giving me the time to watch it all in 3 days).

This story has been repeated across our country, where money

UPDATE

13 April 15 (this post was over 1300 words when I completed it. Somehow- the second half is missing. I’ll take another stab at it later- sorry)

The nobody cares election

Two years ago, before the petitions were turned in and certified for the upcoming special election (which was a mayoral and 2 commission seat year) I attended a candidates’ night that I described as:

the oddest candidates’ night of them all- 2 hours of people who may not be on the ballot, talking about what they won’t be able to do anything about if they got elected mayor.

via The non-candidates’ mayoral forum – Esrati.

I, being the candidate who believes in a well-informed electorate, went out and videotaped the very long, poorly structured event and put it up online.

Today I was sitting with Scott Sliver, one of the 5 candidates for Dayton City Commission that will have the field narrowed in May to four, and asked if there were any candidates’ nights so far? None was the answer, in fact the first is April 20th by the League of Women Voters. That’s just a few weeks before the election. None in BEH, Walnut Hills, Northern Hills, FROC, Patterson Park, McCook- not a one.

Full disclosure- my firm, The Next Wave is doing printing and design for Mr. Sliver.

Lucky for me, because I’m going in for surgery tomorrow, and won’t be able to carry anything like a video camera for a few weeks. Not lucky for voters who still care.

Of course these stupid runoff elections 6 months before the real one are just something to make running for office more expensive and to give the overpaid people at the Board of (S)Elections something to do. Do we really need to narrow the field? Instant runoff balloting would make this easy. Just rank your choices 1 to 5 and then a computer runs a little routine and says if your number 1 choice didn’t get enough votes, your vote rolls to your number 2 and so on until the top two choices have more votes than the rest. One election, and you never have to worry about voting for “someone you like, but doesn’t stand a chance.”

For the record, the five choices in the upcoming election, 3 of whom I’ve never heard speak in public on political matters. are:

There is going to be an “open seat” since Commissioner Lovelace has been allowed to placehold for the last three years after his many strokes. Honestly, he should have been replaced in a special election after he missed 5 consecutive meetings according to the charter. Instead he took half a year off and then some. I’d like to give you more insight on the above candidates- but I can’t. No candidates nights. Lame-o websites.

I’m voting for Sliver, one vote, at this point. It’s called “plonking” around here- and it makes sure your vote doesn’t counterbalance by giving the guy who could come in above you that chance. As I’ve said earlier, I’ve known Scott for 25+ years, when we both started our own small businesses in the advertising field at the same time. He later closed up shop to become the touchy-feely pastor who feeds poor families in need.

After the League of Women Voters candidates’ night- I may consider Shaw or Fairchild. Rountree was just elected to School Board. I don’t like quitters, ever. Plus, I’m terrified who they may choose over much better qualified candidates to replace her (she was in the field of 8 when they picked William Schooler instead).

I’ve yet to see anything resembling leadership or real effort from Joseph who is a very nice guy, but a place holder on the commission. He’s been there for 12 years and has a very thin resume of accomplishment.

At this point, if more than 8,000 people vote in the primary (early voting is open now) I’d be shocked. It’s the election that nobody cares about.

UPDATE

13 April 15 Candidates nights:

  • Northern Hills Candidates Nights- Belle Haven School, 7pm  13 April 2015
  • Riverdale Neighborhood Association- Tuesday 14 April 2015
  • League Of Women’s Voters: 20 April, 6:30 p.m., Dayton Library Main Branch, 215 East Third Street Dayton
  • 22 April, 6pm Dakota Center 33 Barnett Street Dayton OH 45402 (off W. 5th)  Black Lives Matter.
  • April 26, 11:30 am Wayman Chapel 3317 Hoover Ave.

 

 

Dreams of selling pot brownies out of City Hall’s building

The City of Dayton is the worst real estate speculator in the region. They also aren’t very honest about what “they” own (I say “they” because it’s the taxpayers that foot the bill). Recently there was an article about a building at 15 McDonough St. behind Garden Station that they owned and leased part of to Gosiger. I did a FOIA request on when the city purchased the building, for how much- and to see the copy of the lease with Gosiger and got nothing back. They are selling the building for “$10 to Bacon Street Properties LLC, which lists Gosiger’s headquarters at 108 McDonough St. as its mailing address” yet- somehow, “City Properties Group… (also) is involved in the project.” They are the ones from Louisville that have the old Supply One building next to Garden Station.

A long time ago, a local developer managed to get a printout on greenbar computer paper of the entire listing of city owned properties. With one property per line, the folded stack was several inches high. There was, and is, something fishy about that. But, on to other issues.

You may remember when a local entrepreneur tried to lease the old Chin’s, Elbo’s, Sa Bai from the city to have a Food truck kitchen, teaching facility, rental hall. Tonia Fish was paying rent, and then the city decided to kick her group of small businesses to the curb- which was part of a prior article on Esrati.com:

The Great Thanksgiving Day Food Truck Massacre

It started on Tuesday, when Tonia Fish told me that her temporary lease on the old Chin’s/Elbo’s/Sa-Bai space at 200 S. Jefferson St. may not be renewed. A meeting of some sort had been held in City Hall and the decision was coming. Mayor Leitzell had told me that in the executive session last week, where this matter was being discussed, Nan Whaley wasn’t prepared to vote on it and it was tabled. Had they had another illegal meeting of the commission to discuss this lease? There wasn’t an announced session- and since Executive sessions have to be done either as an emergency and announced- or gone into from a regularly scheduled meeting- what had happened?

via Explaining irrational behavior in Dayton, Ohio – Esrati.

The building sat vacant for over a year. Zero rent. Of course, no one in City Hall is going after Sa-bai for breaking their lease, or back rent.

Instead, we’re giving the space away, again:

Bethany and Aaron Horn, who own Cheeky Meat Pies, have agreed to a five-year lease with the city of Dayton for 200 S. Jefferson St.

The building will feature a breakfast and lunch establishment called Cheeky Cafe and Bakery, as well as a casual dining joint called Weeds Diner, likely featuring “farm fresh” food and alcohol, including craft beers.

“The cafe side will be more comfort food, and the Weeds side will be more seasonal based,” Bethany Horn said about the 5,786-square-foot South Jefferson Street property, located across from the Dayton Convention Center.

Sai-Bai closed in 2013 after accruing more than $60,000 in unpaid rent and taxes, which resulted in the city starting eviction proceedings….

Horn said the cafe should open around May, and the diner hopefully will open by August….

Under the terms of their contract with the city, Horn Food Enterprises will pay no rent through the end of this year, but will be required to pay $14,518 in rent and parking in 2016 (or $2.25 per square foot).

The Horns will pay $15,965 in rent and parking each year for the remainder of their five-year contract (equal to about $2.50 per square foot). They have a trio of renewal options to extend their lease for an additional five years.

Horn Food Enterprises are not being charged rent for the first nine months because the owners will make considerable improvements and renovations to the space, especially the kitchen, which will become the property of the city of Dayton, city officials said.

“If we wanted to make the space reasonably leasable or rentable, those would be expenses we would have to incur,” said Joe Parlette, Dayton’s director of recreation and youth services.

Parlette said the city in the last two years reviewed probably 15 business plans for the site, but the Horns’ proposal won out partly because they had capital and were ready to move forward.

Parlette said the new agreement means all of the city’s leasable space in that area is occupied. The city also owns property that is rented by ThinkTV, Gilly’s and Drake’s Gym.

“Anytime the city can avoid a vacancy downtown is a win for the city and its neighborhoods,” he said. “It will give citizens another unique option to enjoy downtown.”

via Two restaurants to open in downtown property | www.mydaytondailynews.com.

Why the director of Parks and Rec is doing property management is the first question. The second should be is why was the space no longer usable after SaBai left? Maybe because they took everything they put in, including the washroom sinks and left the city with a mess. No one is being held accountable for that.

And, considering Ms. Fish was in, and paying rent of $850 a month for a space that wasn’t “reasonably leasable” – the taxpayers went without 2 years of potential rent and tax revenue because, well, why?

The last laugh may be on the city, when it turns out the real business plan according to confidential sources is that the “Weeds Diner” is planning on selling marijuana edibles as soon as the laws allow it. That should just go over fantastically with the fine folks of Dayton. We already saw how fast Moraine backpedaled on their land lease to potential pot growers.

What we really have is questionable business practices by a government that can’t figure out how to plow snow, sweep streets, or get a cop to a Family Dollar while an assault is taking place in less than 10 minutes. Why our city is so focused on other people’s business instead of running their own is a major question.

When you realize these people at city hall spent at least $4 million to get a Kroger to Wayne Avenue and failed. They also tore down the Schwind, the Dayton Daily News and part of the historic back- for student housing that’s not coming thanks to a HUD deed restriction that they should have known about. The list goes on. Who in City Hall is qualified to review “15 business plans” and make this decision? The same one who spent $450K on 601 E. Third St?

Maybe it’s time to divest the city of all its real estate holdings that aren’t directly used for providing taxpayer services? Or maybe, it’s time for the rest of us to start eating pot brownies so we can be just as high as the fools we have managing our real estate holdings.

UPDATE

5 April 2015. As if I needed more evidence to prove to you that the city is an incompetent property manager, this was in the morning paper.

DAYTON —Hundreds of thousands of dollars in infrastructure and equipment was removed from a vacant industrial building owned by the city of Dayton.

The security officer at the McCall Building, 2333 McCall St., filed a report Friday night on a breaking and entering, according to the Dayton police report.

Wiring, electrical equipment, copper pipes and generator equipment was listed as missing, an estimated $500,000 loss, according to the report.

The building is listed on cityfeet.com, a website that markets available commercial space.

The 348,000 square-foot building, valued at $1.5 million and available for rent at $58,000 per month, is listed as one of Dayton’s economic development sites.

via Thieves strip $500K in material from city-owned building | www.daytondailynews.com.

Another half million that could have been spent providing government services wasted.

Dayton’s Inspectional Services called out by the DBJ

The Dayton Business Journal has a cover story about Dayton’s woefully inept Building Inspection department- something that’s been inept for a long time. Olivia Barrow talks to several small independent start-ups that ran face first into the wall of BS that Dayton likes to throw at every project that doesn’t come with political payola.

From the DBJ article-

Michael Cromartie, chief building inspector, wants to see Dayton thrive as much as anyone. But working with his 1999 computer system and a skeleton crew bound to enforce state building codes to the letter, he has a natural tendency to prefer businesses with money.

“If they’re undercapitalized, that’s always a challenge,” he said. “We have walked some people through every step of the process. But can I do that with everybody? No.”

Cromartie said while he can’t design a project for a business, he still wants to meet with prospective business owners as early as possible — before they even sign a lease or buy a building….

Somewhere inside the mammoth tome of regulations that is the Ohio Building Code, there’s a chapter created for existing buildings that violate today’s safety and accessibility standards — Article 34. It’s often cited as a way for entrepreneurs to save money building out a space in one of downtown’s charming, but code-delinquent historic buildings.

But Juhl never even had the chance to get his building evaluated through Article 34.

“The city won’t even look at that chapter unless you build a case around it,” he said. “It would have been a pain in the butt. So instead we brought a 130-year-old building up to 2011 code.”

Article 34 has been used successfully on several projects in Dayton — including Square One Salon & Spa, Warped Wing Brewing Co. and The Barrel House — but those projects were well-funded or advised by experienced architects or business owners.

“It’s virtually impossible for a business owner to use Chapter 34 (without an architect),” said Brock Taylor, development specialist for the city.

The regulation allows a building to be evaluated on a point system that includes trade-offs and substitutions between some of the most expensive elements of bringing a building up to code.

That includes leaving out a sprinkler system in favor of a cheaper alarm system, or reducing the intended occupancy in order to avoid other costly regulations.

But ultimately, even an Article 34 review process can end up being a waste of time, Cromartie said.

“Sometimes you do the investigation and realize it’s not even going to save you any money,” he said.

That chapter of the code becomes another factor that slants the playing field toward well-capitalized, investor-backed ventures….

A technological upgrade is also in order, but it won’t come online until January of 2016.

“The city is investing over $1 million in replacing its obsolete permitting software,” Cromartie said.

And the city is also creating a new staff position that could provide some of the relief business owners are looking for.

via COVER STORY: ?Business friendly? A skeleton crew at the city struggles to help first-time business owners – Dayton Business Journal.

Michael Cromartie has picked up some knowledge from his years on the job- or should I say his reign of terror. His claim as one of the Monarchy of Montgomery County is being married to former Mayor James H. McGee’s daughter, former judge Francis McGee.

I ran into the same BS over 27 years ago when I bought a building ready for the wrecking ball. Not only were there issues with the historic district code, there were zoning issues and then the building inspection issues. When you have a building that someone is willing to invest 30x the purchase price- it would have been nice for a little common sense, but that wasn’t the case. Despite having 4 exit doors with windows in them- and huge storefront windows- the geniuses insisted that we needed the lighted “Exit” signs over a door. You know the ones required by code for hallways in multistory buildings- that have a bunch of solid- similar doors- where there is no way of telling which one leads out.
I came to believe that the building code as enforced by Dayton was the antidote to Darwin (i.e.- protecting morons from extinction).

I’m pretty sure a firefighter is going to argue with me on another point- the one requiring sprinklers. I’m placing a bet that sprinklers malfunction and do more damage than actually work and put out fires- but, Dayton seems hell bent on keeping the sprinkler installers in business. I find it amazing that most of Europe where buildings are over 600 years old- survived without sprinklers.

I know many contractors that refuse to work in Dayton due to the incredible amount of BS that this department manages to spew. I was told that my existing roof- in the back of my house with true 2×6, 14′ rafters on a slight pitch were undersized- and needed to go- despite being original- and decked with 5/4″ planks. I told the inspector to pound salt. That wasn’t what he was there to inspect. On my cottages they tried to claim that faced insulation, that was stapled and seams taped wasn’t a proper vapor barrier- and that we had to remove the facing- and use plastic instead. Except that you couldn’t buy unfaced insulation anywhere. Yet another fail.

If you wonder why houses get torn down instead of rehabbed in Dayton- it’s because to do them legally is too much hassle, and to do them illegally isn’t worth the headaches- plus, the demolition companies pay to get our commission elected.

The reality is that the Ohio building code isn’t written for rehab. It’s written by the construction lobby with one goal in mind- build new instead of rehab. When enforced by megalomaniacs like Cromartie, the public isn’t any safer, and our old buildings fall victim to unreasonable requirements. Is a two-hour fire rating between floors of a 100-year-old building that’s built with old growth timber really going to make a difference compared to having working alarms? Are sprinklers in every unit of a residential conversion really more important than fire extinguishers? When it comes to ADA- does every unit in a residential rental building have to meet ADA requirements or just a majority?

Instead of  “investing” a million in new permitting software, why don’t we just shut down the entire department and let the county do it? In the name of regionalism and setting an example of cooperation like we did with 911?

I’m sure it would do more to hasten renovation and investment back in the city than letting King Cromartie continue his reign of terror on “under-capitalized”  entrepreneurs (i.e.- no money to pay them off).

Big brother stopped watching you yesterday

Traffic cam

UPDATE

March 23, 5PM A Lucas county judge ruled in favor of Home rule, and the City will continue using the cameras and ticketing until this winds through the courts.

On March 1st 2015(correction, March 23rd) the city of Dayton lost one of its crutches- the use of red light and speeding cameras to extort owners of vehicles for the misdeeds of individual drivers.

The cameras, supplied by a private company, Redflex, were a “partnership” where a private company made unlimited amounts of money from this questionable impingement on personal freedoms. Had the city bought the cameras outright, like they do most pieces of law enforcement equipment, this deal may not have reeked so badly, but in the ultimate act of brilliance, your leaders chose a questionable deal. Much like private prisons, where the incentives are to keep people locked up – because more convicts mean more money, the cameras were continuously questioned for their accuracy and the timing of lights suspect as contributors to this scam.

The sad thing is, the cameras worked. Speeds dropped, accidents declined, in the areas where the cameras were in place.

The real question is why people came to drive like idiots in the city of Dayton and other places where the cameras were deployed? No one speeds in Oakwood, and Kettering still has a rap for traffic enforcement. These communities run traffic tickets as a way to show their police departments are out watching and waiting for crime to happen- versus Dayton, where all they do is chase the tail having to go out reactively  all day long.

Maybe if our leaders would spend more of that “economic development” cash they hand out like candy to their political supporters and scam artists promising jobs- and just did the job they were supposed to do- ensuring our safety, the cameras wouldn’t have been a last resort. In the 29 years I’ve lived in Dayton, I’ve watched the police department drop in staffing by at least a third. Of course, the size of our city hasn’t gotten any smaller geographically- but, we’ve also seen almost a quarter of our population vote with their feet to move to other parts of Montgomery County where they feel safer.

In all the time the cameras have been installed in Dayton, I’ve never gotten a ticket so this hasn’t affected me directly, but, I did get one in Kettering- for a supposed right turn on red at Dorothy Lane and Wilmington. The difference being- one was handed out by a cop, who said he saw me do it. And while I know so many of you are happy about the end of the cameras- in my one ticket, I would have preferred the camera- because I would have had proof that I did the crime.

Hopefully, Dayton police will learn to write tickets again, because, well- that’s their job. Don’t be surprised if you get one and costs you more, because real police work costs more than a robot cop camera. If Redflex goes out of business, I won’t be crying. They made ungodly money out of their monopoly deal on cameras. The question is, how long the city leaders will leave the cameras and signs up- even if the cameras are now impotent.

Sometimes just the idea that we’re being watched, makes us behave differently.

We can box up our snow.

We can’t plow snow because we don’t have enough salt. That was good enough for the city commission- and Public Works director Fred Stovall. Salt prices went up, he only has 60 drivers, overtime, etc.

So, schools close, kids don’t get their free meals, their parents have to make alternate plans for child care- affecting tens of thousands of people, because we can’t figure out that a city’s first responsibility is making sure roads are clear- for us- and for emergency vehicles as well.

But, we have plenty of money for…. wait…. a packaging company. Of course, we run it through the loosely controlled slush fund- CityWide Development, where tax dollars go and go and go:

A Dayton packaging company will get $110,000 in incentives to grow in Dayton.

The city is expected to vote Wednesday night to facilitate a $100,000 low-interest loan and a $10,000 grant for Miami Valley Packaging Solutions Inc. to help expand its presence in Dayton. The company is investing $2.1 million to purchase and renovate the building at 150 Janney Road.

The city is providing CityWide Development Corp. $105,000 for the loan, with the extra $5,000 going to CityWide to help administer it. The city is separately giving a $10,000 grant to the company.

With the funding, the Dayton-based packing company will have the financing in place for its planned move and growth in the city.

Miami Valley Packaging Solutions said last fall the new 100,000 square-foot space will be a major upgrade from its current 66,000 square-foot headquarters at 1752 Stanley Ave.

With equipment purchases, the move is expected to cost $3 million. Partners Kenny Phegley, Jamie Williams and Don Chmiel say they want to significantly expand business.

City documents indicate Miami Valley Packaging Solutions will retain 21 jobs and create nine new ones over the next five years. The company bought B&L Packaging in 2009 and specializes in corrugated packaging, with a line of plastic packaging growing quickly.

via Dayton to offer $110,000 in incentives to Miami Valley Packaging Solutions – Dayton Business Journal.

Of course if you own another packaging company in town- this means you are now at a disadvantage- and you still can’t get your employees to work.
But- that’s “Economic Development” Dayton style- where we pick and choose the winners and losers in your tax dollar lottery.

And it there is too much snow, we can buy boxes from Miami Valley Packaging Solutions and package it up- and send it somewhere else.

Republican leader blows creative naming opportunities for $100, Alex

Remember the “Contract with America” where Newt Gingrich tied a ribbon on policy that was bad and made it look good? Or how the “Inheritance tax” which relatively few people were subject to- became the evil sounding “death tax”?

Well, the chance to do something right- got a bad name in a big way from the Republican Senate leader in Ohio:

Senate President Keith Faber, R-Celina, called for establishing a “drug prison” where inmates with drug-abuse issues would receive treatment services.

“I anticipate that there would be an increase in the cost up front but I think in the long run we’re going to save money,” Faber said.

via Charter schools in spotlight.

Why a “drug prison” Keith? Why not a rehabilitation center for drug abusers who’ve turned to crime to support their habits?

Many times people begin their path to drug abuse purely by accident- an injury at work, and next thing you know they are addicted to a painkiller.  Drug abuse is a mental health issue first and foremost. The crimes committed by drug abusers are often nothing other than survival skills to feed their habits. Our prisons are overflowing with people who are more dangerous to themselves than others- glad you just figured it out.

Now, figure out a better name as well as a better solution to deal with this sad epidemic. Prisons aren’t working, nor is our “criminal justice” system built to deal with people just looking for a quick fix to an addiction.

A new tool for successful “Community Based Policing”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

The secret committee that decides elections in Dayton

At the last election there was going to be an empty seat on the Dayton City Commission if Nan won or lost. The party screened candidates, and selected incumbent Joey Williams and former State School Board and Dayton Board of Education member Jeffery Mims.

A local minister, Darryl Fairchild had already printed up a 2-color letterhead, “Fairchild 2013.” (Note, when running for office, never put the date on stuff you could reuse). When the endorsements were announced, Darryl wheeled to the front of the room and fell on his sword, sweeping the door open for Mr. Mims, thinking he was next in line. When the city had to modify the dais in the commission chambers for Dean Lovelace in a wheelchair, I even heard- “well, we’re going to have to do it for when Darryl gets on the commission” from someone. (For the record, Lovelace should have vacated the seat for his extended absences, and there should have been a special election).

On Tuesday, six candidates screened for the two seats coming up for re-election. Matt Joseph, the three-term incumbent who has yet to distinguish himself with any real legislative issues, and five others including yours truly. As previously reported, David Greer who ran last time, Hazel Rountree who just took a seat a year ago on the DPS board, Fairchild, and newcomer Chris Shaw who is “a fourth-generation business owner and active in the local NAACP” according to party chair Mark Owens (who is the Dayton Clerk of Courts and is up for re-election).

Thursday came and the announcement was made in the party executive committee that the screening committee had selected Joseph and Shaw. A few people were wondering how Fairchild had been thrown under the bus. A screening committee member said “well that would be running two white guys” since Fairchild and Joseph are both white, Shaw is black. I protested that the party could endorse 4 Dems (and still not endorse me) since the way this works is that if more than 4 people run, there is a runoff (not a primary- since the race is non-partisan) to select 4, and only the top 2 vote-getters win in November. Since there are obviously going to be more than 4 people in this race, wouldn’t it be smarter to have 4 Dems in the final? And let the people decide? I was booed, hissed, told to shut up- and got nasty looks. One other person asked why not Darryl? Wasn’t he promised this chance when he stepped aside so graciously for the good of the party? The answer was no- he wasn’t promised anything.

This is the way the Democratic party works- 4 years ago Nan and Rhine McLin were inseparable, with some even speculating that there was a sexual relationship between them. After Rhine lost to Gary Leitzell in the upset of the century- Rhine became a pariah. The people in power in the Dem party would eat their babies in order to protect their fiefdoms.

There were other endorsements as well. Judge Pickerel has “aged out” of being able to run, and his open seat was screened as well. Three candidates including the just deposed Frances McGee Cromartie who was their endorsed candidate in November to return to Common Pleas. She was passed over, despite being a McGee. Some loyalists challenged that decision- only to be told that the person they were endorsing had 20+ years experience in the municipal court and Frances didn’t. Never mind that Common Please handles much tougher cases than Muni. Nope, lose an election, and unless you raise a lot of money like Sharen Neuhardt, we put you out to pasture.

So the question is, who are these people on the “Screening committee” who try to take the democracy out of the ballot box and keep it behind closed doors in Dem Party HQ? As an elected member of the central committee and elected to the executive committee (thank you A.J. Wagner and Joe Lacey) I didn’t remember electing, selecting, discussing who was on this committee. I asked for the list- and was given it- surprisingly. The members are selected by the party chairman, Mark Owens. Mostly made up of elected officials, former elected officials, patronage job holders who are jockeying to be the anointed one when their benefactor decides to step down, and labor leaders. Here’s the list. I’m sorry I haven’t had time to fill in all the job positions, but I will gladly take your input to fill in the few blanks.

First nameLast namePosition
DebraArmaniniMat Heck's number 2
WillisBlackshearCounty Recorder
SamBraunMr. Whaley- works for Karl Keith
GregoryBrushCounty Clerk of Courts
CenaBuchannon
RickCarneFormer Tony Hall Chief of Staff- now a lobbyist
DanaClark
DaveFeckeVice Chair UAW
GregFlannaganPublic information officer for Mat Heck
DanFoleyCounty Commissioner
TimGormanHusband of Montgomery County Common Pleas Judge Barbara Gorman
StevenHarsmanDeputy Chief of the Board of Elections
MatHeckCounty Prosecutor
DaleHerzogDayton Building and Construction
Trades Council
RobertJones
RussellJosephMark Owen's heir apparent
MattJosephCity Commissioner, brother of Russ
KarlKeithCounty Auditor
CarlKennebrewPresident IUE-CWA Local 755
BeverlyKingBoard of Elections worker who hires her rapist brother
MarciaKnoxRegional Director AFSCME Region 8
Dennis A.LiebermanFormer Party Chair, Clayton Trustee, husband of County Commissioner Debbie
NancyMarinoTrotwood Dem Club
JimMcCarthyHead of Miami Valley Fair Housing
JeffreyMimsCity Commissioner
CharlesMortonDayton-Miami Valley AFL-CIO Regional Labor Council
GenevieveMurphyState Young Dem President, Nan's shadow
JohnMurphyGen Murphy's Dad- BOE worker
LeonardOramHead Probation Officer for Vandalia municipal Court run by Mat Heck's wife, Cynthia
MarkOwensParty Chair, Dayton Clerk of Courts
VarneyRichmondFORMER President of Teamsters Local 957 as of Jan 10, 2015
TomRitchie, Sr.AFSCME, formerly on BOE
PaulRobinson, Jr.Chief Deputy Treasurer

DavidSaphire
BriceSimsJefferson TWP Trustee
TroySinger
CathyStartzmanLegislative Aide County Commission
FredStrahornState Rep
JohnTheoboldLegislative Aide County Commission
MeghanThomasWorks for Mark Owens in Clerk of Courts
NolanThomasAssistant. Prosecuting Attorney
LynnThomasson, Sr.County Clerk of Courts
WillieThorpeAsst to the President IUE-CWA
DawnWojcikParty exec.

These are the people who “endorse” after a ten-minute presentation. The questions, which I’ve published before are minimal (2012 answers)- but always include the “In your race, if the Democratic Party endorses someone other than you, will you run against the endorsed candidate? If yes, why?”

The question is, are you, one of the few remaining dedicated voters in Montgomery County willing to keep allowing this system to exist- to limit choice on the ballot?

Will you vote the “stupid voter slate card” blindly?

This is why judges are rarely opposed. This is why many people never run. This is how the Monarchy of Montgomery keeps the gravy train going and the friends and family fat and happy.

You shouldn’t be happy about this. I’m sure not.