Dayton’s Issue 6 – Deceptive mailings

Mayor Nan Whaley tries to sell issue 6 as a renewal when it is in fact a permanent tax change at the same rate.

Let’s lie about what we’re really doing.

My parents and I received a postcard in the mail today asking us “On May 6, voter FOR ISSUE 6 and RENEW DAYTON.” My father, a senior, who is relatively astute, said that he read it- and has no clue what Issue 6 is.

Dayton is a Great City. Let’s Keep It That Way!

For 30 years, the people of Dayton have voted to RENEW DAYTON to maintain our city’s most vital services.

Voting FOR Issue 6 keeps thses services intact without raising taxes, which creates good jobs and strong neighborhoods for all Dayton families.

Ofiicials Agree: A Vote FOR Issue 6 Keeps Dayton Moving Forward

“The earnings tax is the largest source of money for the general fund, which pays for basic services – police, fire, street maintenance, snow removal, recreation centers and parks. If the earnings tax is not renewed, the impact would be nothing short of a disaster in the city of Dayton”

– Mayor Nan Whaley

To explain this honestly, Mayor Nan should tell you that for 30 years Daytonians have voted to raise an additional  .5% tax on people who work in the city via a TEMPORARY tax. This raised our total income tax from 1.75 to 2.25% which 30 years ago, was the highest in the region, with the exception of Oakwood which charged 2.5% on its residents- mostly because it has few people who actually work in Oakwood- and many who worked in Dayton and they needed to collect something.

The nature of these local municipal income taxes is sort of the same as what made the founding fathers revolt against the British- taxation without representation. Workers at law firms, corporate headquarters and major businesses downtown were to pay this tax- without having a say in what it was spent on, or if it was necessary. Our city fathers even sold it to the taxpayers this way- you vote for it- but most of it comes from commuter workers, and- the rest of the pitch was- it’s only temporary, until we get out of the hole we’ve dug ourselves into with our fat cat, nepotism system of government. The voters voted for it, time after time. The taxpayers- those commuter workers of Oakwood, Centerville, Vandalia, grumbled for a while, then, they started doing what commuter workers easily can do- commute elsewhere, where a move from Dayton to Kettering saved them .5% or to Austin Landing – the whole thing (if they are a white collar worker instead of a blue collar worker- yes, I know- I’m still scratching my head on that one.).

Dave Holmes, past CEO of Reynolds and Reynolds was the first to pull his Corporate HQ out of Dayton for greener pastures. No, he didn’t say it was because of the income tax, but, it was because of the income tax- and the arrogant treatment of the “monarchy of Montgomery County” that ran like a private club. Of course, he was also the first to find out that the taxpayers could be hoodwinked in the region, into paying to relocate his operations- with tax breaks offered to move to Kettering’s research park, then to build the Reynolds spin-off (back in Dayton) Relizon HQ at the corner of Monument and Patterson (now being taken over by CareSource, after Relizon’s step-child, WorkFlow One got bought by Standard Register- the last remaining old school big company in Dayton). They also got funding to build a call center- called a TAC- in the old Elder Beerman building- only to later abandon it, and sublease parts out to the Area Agency on Aging- and now also- CareSource. Every time he shuffled his walnuts on the table, he got tax breaks- much like a three-card monte shyster scores on his marks.

Again- the tax increase was temporary, it would have to be renewed, and each time, the same story was told – you don’t pay this tax, it’s other people paying this tax. People like Pam Morris at CareSource, who lives somewhere else but makes over $3 million a year administering federal tax dollars intended for the poor- and making her rich. Yeah, we can vote to stick it to her. But the flip side is, all her employees pay it too. And, we still build her buildings for her, and her parking garages, and give her incentives- because, we’re addicted to the teat of that income tax to keep the boat afloat. Every municipality is now, especially with the cuts in Ohio’s local government funds. Other communities are renewing and raising their “temporary” taxes too- with some, like Huber Heights that has been on a wild spending spree, talking about a 2.35% rate. Kettering is also boosting theirs, after years of managing on 1.75%

The patchwork of different tax rates in Montgomery County- and the state of Ohio is a major pain in the arse to businesses of all sizes. Different filing rates, filing times, filing forms, and filing websites. It makes Ohio a very business unfriendly state. Fines on missing deadlines can be in excess of the amount a business owes. Because of the complexity- companies like Intuit, maker of Quickbooks, can justify charging more for the tax tables for payroll than the software that runs it and get away with it. A secret hidden cost that could easily be done away with by a simplified statewide fair and balanced income tax.

Back to the reason Oakwood charges 2.5% is so it can collect .25% over and above the rate Dayton charged- and this gave them the ability to keep their amazing services at the highest levels. Things like backyard trash collection, sidewalk shoveling, and a combination police/fire/paramedic force that not only gave excellent service, but wrote traffic tickets and would make house calls when you got broken into. Dayton can barely manage to answer the phone. Even Oakwood is now struggling due to state cutbacks- and the end of the “death tax” killed off their last cash cow. They are making hard choices.

But, the real deception of the mailer is that Dayton voters have repeatedly voted to continue taxing without representation because they knew that without it- service cuts would happen. Guess what, service cuts have happened every year, even after they voted for it. Our temporary tax didn’t keep our kids’ swimming pools from being plowed under, they didn’t keep our police department staffed well, and cuts to fire and parks and everything else they promised wouldn’t happen- happened. There was no guarantee- but at least we had the option not to renew it to send a message.

This Issue 6 is an attempt not to renew the temporary tax- but to make it a permanent one. If we defeat it in May, we’ll see it again in November. Maybe as another temporary tax.  Because Nan Whaley is the Queen of Nan Whaley land- you only see her name, her picture on the mailing. And the treasurer of the mysterious “Neighborhoods for Dayton’s Future” is a Michael Voelkl, who lives in what I one called “Tony Capizzi’s Private Neighborhood” across from 10 Wilmington Place that was paid for with public dollars so City employees who at that time had to live inside the city limits, could live in a pseudo-gated community. Michael Voelkl, you see is a city employee, the “taxation and revenue manager” of the City of Dayton.

One wonders how much of the Hatch Act is being broken by having Mr. Voelkl head up the effort to make sure he still can be paid with taxes on those “commuter workers.”

[update] Voelkl retired from Dayton in 2003 and later took the position of New Carlisle’s tax manager in 2010. Thanks reader “skeptic” for correcting me. [/update]

Let’s be honest- this vote isn’t about renewing Dayton at all- it’s about bolting in the cord on the life-support system. It should be a no-brainer to pass, if it were presented honestly- but that’s not Mayor Nan’s style- she has to turn everything into an epic political battle for her to win- at any cost. Which frankly makes me sick and repulsed. This could have been easily sold to voters honestly- saying that these temporary tax levy campaigns are a pain, are expensive and take time, please help us cut out the waste of time. We’re still going to raise your water and trash rates, and charge you fines for police to respond to your alarm calls, and raise prices on parks and recreation, and complain we ran out of salt- but, at least, we’re not going to lie to you anymore- we can’t live within our means, and 2.25% is the minimum it takes- thank you.

 

How 5 people made Dayton a better place today- While Nan “nanvassed”

Last Monday night I had a candidates’ night over on Burkhardt. I noticed the church had a rim out back without a net- and that there were courts just up the street that I hadn’t put nets on. Unfortunately, my ladder wasn’t in the car (my mom had been grocery shopping) so I went back Tuesday morning before work and took down the rusted chains and put up 3 nets- stickers and stencils.

The park was in horrible shape. According to Google maps- it’s called Orville Wright park. Orville would have been ashamed. The courts were strewn with broken glass- and weeds. The backboards were rusted. The playground equipment had a wall of weeds- taller than the kids it was designed for- and trash was everywhere. I made a plan to come back on Saturday to clear it.

  • Photo of Orville Wright park before Esrati and Crew cleaned it up
    The weeds and glass owned the court
  • Photo of Tabatha Muntzinger painting backboards
    Tabatha Muntzinger paints backboards
  • Photo of the crew that cleaned up Orville Wright park
    The crew who cleaned up Orville Wright park
  • The bed of a pickup truck was filled with dirt and weeds from the court
    What was on the court- was now in Lewis’s pickup truck
  • John worked hard and ended up with dirt on his face
    John was wearing the dirt off the court
  • Photo of Orville Wright park after Esrati and Crew cleaned it up
    Orville Wright Park after we’d cleaned it up.

Friday I got a message of Facebook from a woman, Tabatha Muntzinger, who lives near the park, but hadn’t taken her kids there until Friday. She was disgusted and had seen my stickers- and looked me up, and was trying to figure out who owned it- the city or Dayton Public Schools. I told her I was planning on going there on Saturday to clean it up. She said she’d help. So today at 11, we started. We had help from her husband Kyle, who used to teach Social Studies at Belmont, and Lewis Gast and his stepson John. Four and a half hours later it looked totally different. Some neighborhood kids even showed up and helped. We filled Lewis’s pickup truck with weeds- just from the courts. Tabatha repainted the 3 backboards. A neighbor from across the street came by and thanked us.

But what really ticked me off today, was the announcement in the paper that the city commission just approved half a million dollars to demolish four remaining outdoor pools. Burkham, Mallory, FROC and Stuart Patterson. We always seem to have money for demolition- but, we can’t find the money to put up nets and paint backboards and repair basketball rims.

Dayton will demolish its four shuttered outdoor swimming pools, finishing the transition to splash parks as its primary outdoor aquatic attraction.

Dayton City Commission this week approved a $545,232 contract with Belgray Inc. to demolish the closed pools and pool houses at Burkham, Five Oaks, Mallory and Stuart Patterson Park.

The same contract includes $215,000 to expand and upgrade the Mc-Intosh Park splash park and $80,000 to begin smaller improvements at the Five Oaks, Mallory and Stuart Patterson splash parks.

Splash parks are small, zero-depth water play areas that spray water from colorful structures….
The city once had seven outdoor swimming pools, but Parlette said six of them closed between 2004 and 2009, leaving the Fairview pool near Good Samaritan Hospital as the only outdoor option. The city has indoor pools at its three recreation centers.

via City to raze 4 pools, improve splash parks.

Apparently, kids don’t really count for Commissioners Whaley and Williams- because they don’t donate to their campaigns.

Of course, you can’t learn to swim in a splash park- and the Army doens’t have a splash park test. So more poor kids won’t know how to swim- something that can save their lives- and also – is a great way to stay out of trouble in the summer.

In fact, while the five of us were doing what the city couldn’t I had to see this on my Facebook feed:

The nanvassers talk- we do. Elect Esrati

What Nan and her “nanvassers” were doing while we were cleaning up Orville Wright park

And, we got treated to hear that the $40 million or so we “invested” in Tech Town- may have a tenant for the empty building- soon. Really? We have money to build buildings with public money, for private companies- while we don’t have money to put up nets? Tech Town is corporate welfare- taking our tax dollars and subsidizing a few businesses- read on:

Two years after it was built, Tech Town business park’s newest building may soon have a tenant that occupies an entire floor, the president of Citywide Development said Friday.

“We have, right now, someone who has executed an L.I.

— that is, a letter of intent — for a floor” in Tech Town III, the third and newest building in the technology-oriented business park on Dayton’s northeastern edge, said Steve Budd, Citywide president.

“I can’t tell you who that is right yet,” he added.

Though used for community expos and meetings from time to time, the $9.1 million building that offers more than 60,000 square feet of space has remained empty since construction was completed.

The $40 million Tech Town business park has three buildings. The two older buildings are almost full, officials of Citywide have said. Citywide, the city of Dayton’s development arm, owns the park and acts as landlord to tenants there.

via Tech Town may get tenant.

In the pool article- there was this line:

“Quite frankly, (pools) are just more costly to maintain and operate,” Parlette said, citing staffing costs, water, chemicals and more. Parlette would not estimate a cost difference between pools and splash parks, except to say “it’s a big number.”

Mr. Parlette, pools are for everyone. Tech Town is corporate welfare. I’m sure, $40 million would have kept our pools open.

That’s a big number.

 

 

A Dayton Streetlight Tax: because the Dayton City Commission can’t do its job

day in the life: day in the light

Creative Commons License marya via Compfight

Now we have the Dayton City Commission about to shift the cost of lighting the streets to the property owners in Dayton because it has been so busy giving away the store that there’s no money left for basic services:

The City Commission will vote next Wednesday on a streetlight assessment that will affect just about every property owner in the city, raising around $3 million to cover the cost of the lights and improve at least one-quarter of them.

“I look at this an investment program that will give the city better lighting for safer streets and save us money,” City Manager Tim Riordan said prior to the first look at the proposed resolution.

The six-year assessment would cover all property in the city, including such tax-exempt properties as churches, and city, state and federal buildings.

It would shift the cost of the streetlights from the city’s General Fund, which covers the day-to-day operations of the city, directly to property owners.

via Streetlight fee on city commission agenda.

This tax will raise about $3 million a year and is scheduled for 6 years. Calculation will be based on property value, not lineal feet of street, so people who have dark streets will be paying for the blazingly bright Belmont Business District just because the commission can add a tax.

Part of this money will be used to switch existing lights over to LEDs which consume a lot less electricity. Federal law requires cities to start making the switch – with each switched fixture costing half as much to run over the course of the year. We’re required to replace at least 1/3 right now according to the city manager.

Instead of raising our taxes, might it have made sense to take the UPS/Emery air freight building at Dayton International Airport from UPS and started scrapping it ourselves- raising at least $4 million just from the diesel generators and the stainless steel fuel farm? Add in the $7 million UPS paid the city to get out of their lease, and we’d have $11 million to spend right away on replacing mercury vapor lights and cutting the cost in half citywide. There was also a pretty sophisticated conveyor system that could have been sold or scrapped for several million more. Instead, we gave it all away to IRG, including a check right off the bat for $3.5 million.

So, the reason you are about to be taxed for streetlights is really not because we’re broke, but because you, the voters in the city of Dayton decided to elect some dim bulbs to the city commission. Note, Mayor Gary Leitzell was the only one who voted NO to give away the valuable asset of the UPS/Emery Air Freight hub to the vulture capitalists at IRG.

 

Revenue enhancement strategy for Dayton Police Department

Today I saw a police car on U.S. 35 running a speed trap. This is called a “revenue enhancement strategy” by some police officers, bringing dollars into the government’s pockets from fines. The problem is, if you challenge the ticket and go to court, paying the police officer to come in to court, plus the court costs turn the whole mess into a negative revenue stream.

So much for speeding tickets.

The City of Dayton decided several years back to fine property owners for false alarm calls. The first two calls per year were free, after that, the fine kept going up. So instead of calling dispatch immediately. the alarm company calls me first. When my office was being broken into, I went across the street with my cell phone and flashlight to find the front door busted open and my office trashed. When the cops caught the criminals about 4 hours later – it turned out one of them had a gun. Good thing it took me a few minutes to find my keys that night.

Last week I got these stats from our neighborhood police officer about calls over the period from Jan. 2010 to Jan. 2012 to one house near me:

Total number of calls-  33.  This number reflects the calls made for police service as well as officers putting  themselves on an investigation at this location.

The calls were broken down into categories.

  • Wanted                                5
  • 911                                         4
  • Juvenile                               4
  • Family Trouble                  3
  • Miscellaneous                    3
  • Medical                               2
  • Alarm                                  1
  • Noise                                   1
  • Domestic Violence           1
  • Drugs                                  1
  • DWOC                                1
  • Burg                                    1
  • DWI                                    1
  • Transport                          1
  • Assault                               1
  • Intox                                   1
  • Fight                                   1
  • Suspicious                         1

There were 6 complaint reports and 1 memo report at this address.

There were 7 arrests at this location.

That’s one call every 22 days.

The house in question is behind on taxes. The taxes are only $744 a year due to buying the home out of foreclosure, and yet they owe $2,622.52. They not only don’t pay for police service, but they receive an unwarranted amount of it.

Their house is actually bigger than mine, yet, despite paying about the same to purchase mine in 1986 as they paid in 2009, their taxes are less than half of mine.

Instead of fining taxpaying citizens for false alarms, why aren’t we fining our criminal element for abuse of services? If we calculate the cost of a police call to a residence at a nominal $120 (2 officers, 1 hour each, $60 an hour) their 33 calls come out to $3,960. The costs could be levied against the property tax bill and either the house gets shut down until fines are paid, or the property gets seized as a nuisance and sold to pay the fines.

Former Supreme Court Justice, Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr, once said: “Taxes are what we pay for civilized society” and uncivilized neighbors who can’t follow the rules cause my property values to drop, my quality of life to suffer and the cost of my government to rise. Instead of locking them up (which also costs us all) it’s time to place the costs of their criminal behavior back on the criminals.

What do you think? If you like this post, please consider donating to my campaign. Practical politicians don’t get elected for free.

Merchandising our schools- lame attempt to help fix Ohio’s School funding problem

Sure, Ohio State makes a mint selling “officially sanctioned” merchandise. Terrelle Pryor jerseys made the school a lot of money before he tried to cash in on his fame and brought the machine down to its knees.

Now, we’re going to try to solve our pre-K-12 funding problems by allowing schools to sell merchandise instead of only the booster clubs, thanks to a new bill introduced by local State Rep. Mike Henne:

School districts in Montgomery County could become the first in Ohio to explore new revenue streams — beyond relying on taxes, state and federal aid and donations — under a new bill that would allow them to earn profits on its facilities, services and merchandise.

State Rep. Mike Henne, R-Clayton, introduced the bill Friday that would amend current legislation and allow Montgomery County’s 16 school districts to pilot the new program. The bill would allow districts to earn profits off a variety of services, including rentals of classes to selling school merchandise, such as T-shirts, hats and sweatshirts, above costs.

“It’s not about redoing all the school funding formula,” Henne said. “It’s about giving (schools) the ability to make some additional money.”

For the next two years, operating funds for Ohio schools have been cut nearly $780 million in state funding….

Henne said the pilot plan was suggested by Vandalia-Butler City Schools and its treasurer, Dan Schall.

“Dan thinks he can fill the gaps (with this bill),” he said. “It’s how creative and how much the school system decides to use it.

“Everything they do has to be within the mission of the school system. They can’t create something like how to make a widget better or open a restaurant. Maybe they come up with an online program how to learn French, whatever it is.”

Vandalia-Butler’s current operating budget is $35 million. Schall said if the bill passes, he projects his district could eventually generate 1 percent of new revenue of its total budget.

“Dan’s one of the more progressively thinking treasurers out there,” Henne said. “He’s always trying to think outside the box.”

Under the current law, only booster clubs — such as ones for marching bands and athletic teams — and not school districts can make profits off merchandise, concessions and other activities. Henne said the updated bill would allow school districts to charge beyond what it costs them to operate a particular venue, class or service.

Schall said passage of the bill creates “an additional revenue stream for us. (Currently) we can’t sell anything. We can’t rent for profit. That doesn’t help the taxpayers.

“If we can rent that facility or sell T-shirts or give art classes, we can get a revenue stream that won’t be taxes.”

Schall said the amended bill “is something, down the road, that could replace as much as 1 percent of our budget. It’s a first step in identifying new revenue streams.”

Henne said the bill will allow schools to “sell their brand, rent space (for a profit), sell educational services and sell technology.’

via Schools may generate revenue from sales of goods, services.

So, now, in addition to little Timmy’s parents having to pay for Timmy to play basketball with an additional fee, the school can also start selling him school branded clothing at a markup to make up for the fact that our system for funding schools in Ohio was ruled unconstitutional long before little Timmy was born and the state legislature has done nothing to fix?

There used to be a couple of cool hippies who lived behind my office. They had a bumper sticker that applies to this – it was something like: “Wouldn’t it be great when schools had all the money they needed and the Air Force had to hold a bake sale to buy a bomber.”

School funding in Ohio is broken. Selling merchandise may be a fun distraction for some administrator in a school district that still can afford to pay them to do something other than meet all the other state mandates while working with a lot less money, but it is far from what the students in Ohio need.

It’s time to fix our school funding problems once and for all, and to have the best schools in the nation, because, no matter what the “economic development” gurus say, the number one thing that drives a community value is the quality of the schools- and the number one thing that drives value in our new economy is a well educated workforce.

Unfortunately, in Ohio, we’ve been told that the lottery was going to provide revenue to our schools and now, that casino gambling and video slots at racetracks are going to be engines of economic growth. The only thing that grows our capacity to compete is education- and it’s time to stop nickel and diming our educators.

When our greatest threat is the economic destruction caused by a debt downgrade from a bond rating agency- maybe it’s time to have less F-35s and more A students.

The Dayton (s)election on Tuesday

I’m not going to tell you how to vote. That would be pompous and very Dayton Daily News like (although rumor had it- they don’t endorse anymore- I don’t know since iOS5 came out- their iPad app has been broken- so I can’t see the editorials).

But, because I tend to tell all when it comes to Dayton politics, I figured my readers should know how I’m voting.

The issues:

Issue 1: I’m voting no. While I think it’s fine that we can have justices for life on the Supreme Court- even they are smart enough to know when to resign for the most part (although it sucks that some have to wait for a President of their persuasion to be in charge before handing over the seat). As to judges in Ohio being able to run later in life- I don’t see the need. As it is- even when they retire- they all can keep serving as visiting judges etc- and do, well past their prime. Let’s give some younger people a shot. Especially since the way we elect judges in Ohio is stupid anyway (there are limits on what they can say or not say when running). We need better ways to elect judges – not a way to keep them in forever.

Issue 2: Vote HELL NO on 2. Even though it has some things I agree with- like requiring government workers to pay at least 15% of their health care costs (too low a bar to begin with) and that it would end the stupidity of “prevailing wage”- and pay for longevity over performance- the idea that collective bargaining goes out the door is insane (just like our Wall Street governor). Instead of using a wrecking ball, this bill needs to be handled like a chisel in the hands of DaVinci- finely trimming the excesses of the ages while still respecting the rights of public employees.

Issue 3: Vote No. Health insurance is no difference than the mob promising not to hurt you if you pay them for “protection”- the idea of leveling the playing field with insurance for all is a step in the right direction- but not really the same as universal health care. This proposition will probably end up in the courts- and just cost us more money arguing while the insurance companies continue to rip us all off as useless middle men with too much power. Unfortunately, we don’t get the option of voting for universal health care- and cutting insurance people out of it altogether.

Dayton City Commission: Matt Joseph hasn’t done anything in 8 years except avoid running against me. His record- what little there is – is that of a placeholder.  Can’t vote for dead weight.

Dean Lovelace- wouldn’t even be in office had Mark Henry not resigned mid-term and created a special election- back in 1989 (I think) – I jumped in that race and siphoned some votes away from the white wives’ candidates: Judy Orick and Mary Sue Kessler, giving Dean his win. He’s been right on predatory lending and the “living wage”- but was so wrong on the equality vote (see reader David Lauri’s page www.deanlovelace.com ) and his absolute failure with the Department of Justice intervention for integration- that he’s cost this city its public safety. Not only that, he suffered a stroke a few years ago and has been coddled though it (missing as many meetings as he did- he should have been replaced). We need new blood.

Speaking of blood- we’ve got a bloody mess running- with the tacit approval of Mayor Leitzell- William Pace. The DDN ripped him a new one several weeks after the Dayton Informer published about Pace’s legal mess and bankruptcies. Pace has no business being in office- or even on the ballot, but, that’s because we have a process built into the charter that does a great job of stopping people from running. The reality is- Pace winning might finally cause the voters- or give us a commission that might change the rules- as opposed to having doorstop Joseph and ludicrous Lovelace continue on forever… begrudgingly, since you can’t write in- or recall, or do anything to change it other than to screw it up worse- I’m voting for Pace. Heaven help us.

Mark Manovich wouldn’t be on the ballot had I not gotten him 150 signatures (he got me 50). I’ve known Mark a long time- having served with him on the board of South Park Social Capital- an organization I founded- and he pretty much destroyed (he lost a lot of his own money on it- ’nuff said). Mark is an order of magnitude smarter than anyone on the current commission- and is so far from being a politician (other than having the law degree) that he, combined with Leitzell (another who fits that “so far from being a politician” mold) that we might actually see some interesting conversation at the legal meetings of the commission. I’m voting for Mark- without reservation. He’s the best candidate we’ve had in ages.

Note, in 2 years, things will be much different in the Whaley, Williams, Leitzell races- with many candidates in primaries- and  big money at play. I hope to have some exciting young candidates on the ballot to give us some real brainpower on the commission- if Dayton is still a functioning city… and not a subdivision of Montgomery County.

Dayton School Board- you can vote for three of the four. Not a real choice- it’s just about picking sides. There is Bill Schooler, who has teamed up with Robert Walker for the Full Reverend Ticket- vs. Nancy Nearny/Sheila Taylor team. Which do you want to go with? Who will be the odd person out? We could also call this the battle of the sexes, but why- or even black vs. white.

The real problem is the school board is divided. What’s even more interesting is Nearny and Taylor picked Schooler to be on the board over 5 other qualified candidates. Schooler absolutely gets my vote for voting no on the tax giveaway to UD and GE.

Walker has a long history of service running the Wesley center. I’ve been impressed with him for years. He’s a grounded, well meaning man of principle.

As to Nearny- she almost didn’t make it on the ballot, coming up short- before the Board of (S)Elections found her an extra 8 signatures. She’s the easier one to have a discussion with compared to Taylor who is a County worker in a patronage office.

Since the top 3 vote-getters get in- I’m only voting for 2 – Walker and Schooler. I’d prefer Nearny over Taylor, but, can’t vote for her due to her vote to give GE a tax break. I also don’t appreciate her getting a hall pass on signatures (I was 3 short once- they couldn’t find them for me). I even signed her petition.

These are my opinions- and mine only. You do as you please. It’s a free country (even if elections are generally owned by the 1%).

Remember to vote on Tuesday, November 8. Then pray immediately after- unfortunately this is not an opportunity to elect or vote on the best or smartest, just the best of what we have.

Hire Cleveland’s Cop Cadets NOW!

Here’s a money-saving idea- forget the test, forget the academy- here are 40 trained police cadets available now:

Cleveland may have spent six months and more than $700,000 to prep 40 new police cadets, only to have them end up patrolling streets in the suburbs or out of state.The city, squeezed for cash, laid off the cadets Friday, immediately after their graduation from the department’s six-month academy. They were sworn in, but could have to wait up to 18 months for retirements and resignations to make room on the payroll, said Steve Loomis, their union president.

via Cleveland’s laid-off police cadets ready for others to recruit | cleveland.com.

Dayton is behind the curve on hiring police cadets right now and retirements are happening faster than we’d like. Besides saving a boatload in training costs- we could deploy these officers almost instantly.

But, like all good fire sales, this requires fast action- something our city has only shown it’s capable of when paying off political patrons or doing deals that benefit those in power. Here’s a chance to save the taxpayers a bunch of money.

Want to lay odds that the city can’t manage to hire a single one of these cadets?

Public Safety is “economic development”

The Dayton City Commission spent $95K yesterday to “study reuse” of buildings downtown- while at the same time, the Chief of Police and the Fire Chief are both still trying to hire new officers.
Somehow city hall has things confused- they seem to think that people will invest in Dayton when the government refuses to invest in itself.

Police and fire protection aren’t optional, they aren’t trivial, they aren’t up for debate- this is the basic function of government, and if you don’t provide the highest quality basic services- you won’t see others willing to invest.

Already at its lowest police and fire staffing levels in nearly 50 years, Dayton will not hire new officers until at least 2012 and may not be able to hire then depending on state budget allocations…

Since Biehl came on the force in 2008, the ratio of residents per officer was about 375 to 1. Now it stands at about 400 to 1. From 2008 to 2010 violent crime was down 4.5 percent and all crime was down 8.7 percent.

“We will likely be in the 330s (sworn police officers) by the end of the year and I think we’ll be OK,” Biehl said. “The question is that the floor? It’s hard to say.”…

The Fire Department has 314 firefighters and medics. That number could drop to close to 300 by year’s end, Redden said. Of that number, 68 firefighters and four others have 25 years or more on the job and are eligible for retirement.

via City police, fire at lowest staffing level in 50 years.

The main reason downtown lost its luster as the business hub for the region were issues of perceived safety. Even the residents of the “best” and “safest” neighborhoods will tell you that they don’t believe they are getting adequate police protection. Our neighborhood is restarting our citizen safety patrol- despite being one lucky neighborhood that has 2 dedicated “Community based police officers” paid for by Miami Valley Hospital.

Readers of this blog have been treated to a break in at my office, my house, my garage, my girlfriend’s car (3 times) and an attempt at breaking into my office in the last three years. This after a 22-year run of relatively zero problems of this type.

This hiring issue has been a problem for at least the last 10 years. We even wasted millions (thanks, Commissioner Dean Lovelace) suing ourselves  and bringing the Department of Justice in to try to change the process.

The wave of retirements that are in process this year were well known years ago- thanks to the DROP program which had mandatory retirement time frames. If we had a way to recall the Dayton City Commission- this would be a good reason to start. In fact, if we could put a referendum on the ballot (we can’t) one to halt all “economic development” activity until the police and fire hiring problems have been resolved.

Public safety is the fundamental role of government- and if we can’t figure out a legal way to hire new officers ASAP, we should be considering suing our city commission for dereliction of duty and endangering the public. This is having a huge impact on our property values, our community safety and the ability of the city to attract new business. There is nothing more important than resolving this impasse now.

Police hiring process as flawed as our charter

Before we go into any discussion about the hiring processes in place in the City of Dayton- one must ask how  a problem can last this long, with no resolution in sight. This has been an issue for twenty years (I had a position on the “consent decree” in my first literature when I ran for mayor against Clay Dixon).

The simple answer- is that our charter has a major failing, that it’s almost set in stone, covers things that have no business being in the charter, is impossible for the public to change, and the politicians who can, don’t because they might risk their precious seats for life. Even though parts of the charter- like the residency rule have been struck down as unconstitutional after years of expensive squabbling- it remains in the charter, ignored.

Without a regular scheduled charter review, the document is nothing but dead wood, helping kill off our city. It’s why I’m in the process of trying to get the parts about petitions thrown out.

But- on to the police issue- the latest chapter in the never-ending saga:

The city of Dayton plans to discard the test scores of the 748 people who passed its police recruit exam in November and will instead hire officers based only on a subjective oral interview — a change meant to improve the city’s ability to hire more minorities.

The announcement comes after the U.S. Department of Justice forced the city to lower its passing score to allow for more minorities into the hiring pool as part of a federal discrimination lawsuit the city settled in 2009.

Those scores are no longer relevant and all candidates are now on equal footing. The oral exam will consist of five situation-based questions asked by an expert panel and last 30 minutes per candidate.

Only those who passed the written exams are allowed to take the oral exam….

Dayton Police Union President Randy Beane called the change “outrageous.” He said it circumvents the city’s rule of one hiring practice where candidates must be hired one at a time based on a testing score from best to worst.

“There’s not going to be any objectiveness in the process,” he said. “We are checking with our attorney to see if this is legal.”…

The city began notifying the 748 who passed the exam by mail this week. Those moving on will have to pass a preliminary background check before participating in the oral interview.

The panel will then score the applicant’s answers and the process will be completed in early June.
Those who pass the oral exam must then pass a polygraph test and psychological and physical exams before being ranked on a hiring list.

Moore disagreed that the hiring change was meant to circumvent the city’s hiring rules mandated in its charter. But when asked if this creates more wiggle room to subjectively hire candidates, Moore said, “that might very well be the case. We are reacting to the consent decree which states that we are not to engage in a selection process that has a disparate impact on a certain race,” he said.

via Dayton throws out written police exam scores, will rely on oral interviews only.

As an employer, there is nothing harder than hiring the right people. They can make or break an organization. Considering these are people who will be armed, around criminals most of their working hours, putting their lives on the line makes the process even more difficult. It is not an easy job to find and hire the right people- especially since our stupid city refuses to hire experienced officers who have proven themselves in this line of work.

With layoffs in major metropolitan departments across the country- we could solve this problem quickly, by hiring already trained, experienced officers from Cleveland, Detroit MI, Trenton NJ etc- and probably increase our minority representation quickly. It would also help break the grip of the good old boy frat house atmosphere enjoyed by our local department. This isn’t to say our overworked officers aren’t professional- it’s just been such a private club for so long, we’ve forgotten how to play with others (sort of like our local political parties).

This new twist in hiring- the interview, will the candidates be behind a curtain? Will their voices be digitally altered so as to not be able to tell the hill-jacks from the Negroes? This whole concept of rule of one, race, test scores has so little to do with the actual proven ability to do the job- we may as well just have a lottery at this point. Do the oral  interviews of every possible candidate- rate them pass/fail- then take the passing people- put them in a lottery bucket and go.

That’s the only way we’ll be able to defend ourselves from the coming lawsuits when the process is again taken into court.

Of course, the quick, easy and right solution is to hire experienced professionals from other departments to get our racial quota and our strength up quickly. Then we can move on to the real issues- like why we still have Dean Lovelace on the commission who has caused 20 years of lawsuits without a solution in mind.

Dumb politicians prefer dumb cops

Since we get politicians for life, with no chance of recall or petitioning for the sake of changing our charter, we are also doomed to have stupid police officers in the name of integrating our security forces.

It’s also causing Dayton Ohio to become the laughing stock of the country.

From the Dayton Daily:

The city’s Civil Service Board and the U.S. Department of Justice have agreed on a lower passing score for the police recruit exam after it was rejected because not enough blacks passed the exam.

The city lowered both written exams a combined 15 points that resulted in 258 more people passing the exam, according to a statement released Thursday by Civil Service officials. The agreement allows the city to immediately resume its plans to hire police and firefighters.

The original passing scores determined by Civil Service required candidates to answer 57 of 86 (66 percent) questions correctly on one portion and 73 of 102 (72 percent) on the other. The lowered benchmark requires candidates to answer 50 of 86 (58 percent) questions correctly and 64 of 102 (63 percent) of questions on the other.

A total of 748 people passed the exam under the new benchmarks. It is unclear the demographics of those who passed.

via City agrees to lower test scores for police exam.

We’ve been struggling with how to hire recruits that reflect our racial makeup for years. It has been a centerpiece of Dean Lovelace’s tenure on the City Commission. Lovelace has cost the city millions in fines from the Department of Justice and legal fees, yet, now the solution involves accepting candidates who score 58% correct- a solid F grade by any standard.

Maybe Dayton should start testing candidates instead of police recruits and at least require a C grade, between Lovelace and Matt Joseph you have two commissioners who haven’t accomplished anything of note in their multiple terms on the commission. Every piece of legislation that Lovelace has been credited for has been a huge failure – with the state stepping in on his predatory lending legislation, the living wage laws are toothless, his no vote on equal rights legislation – need I go on?

The simple solution is to allow the Dayton police and fire departments to hire from other departments- hiring trained, experienced officers.

Cleveland, Detroit, Newark NJ have all had mass layoffs of experience, diverse police officers over the last 3 years- giving us a much faster, more cost-efficient way to fill our vacancies and get a diverse department.

Unfortunately- our dumb politicians are unable to think outside of the very simple box.