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.

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.

 

 

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.

Why property values and tax revenues are dropping: and how to solve it

Just back from a contentious meeting of Historic South Park Inc. For the last year, the County Prosecutor’s office has been sending high-priced lawyers out to our meeting to answer questions. Of course, since we can’t actually get them to file a case directly, this is a ridiculous waste of resources. Tonight, the two county prosecutors were joined by a city prosecutor, who also, won’t file a case unless it’s brought to them by the police, the city law department, or some other department.

The issue was mostly housing code enforcement, at which the laws have been failing for years to make a real change in our community’s net worth. The problem is that they mostly deal with prosecuting physical issues- peeling paint, overgrown yards, dilapidated and abandoned properties. The secret to South Park’s success has been by focusing on social capital- instead of the bricks and mortar. More homeowners create more stable neighborhoods. Local landlords do better than absentee ones. Law abiding citizens create a sense of security that makes investment possible.

So, why are most of our laws focused on the physical capital? My quality of life isn’t damaged by the peeling paint on my neighbor’s carriage house. Sure, the wood can weather- and eventually rot- and decrease the value or increase the costs of repair- but this is a minor problem compared to the following key issues that are killing our neighborhoods: I call them the four pillars of failing cities.

Bad neighbors are bad for investment

Around 2008/9 a foreclosed home was bought by a drug addict with a brood of criminals for family. On average, we’ve had well over 30 police calls per year to the address. Older sons have been in and out of prison, younger ones are a constant issue for children’s services and truancy officers. Windows are broken, bonfires in the backyard are often used to separate metal from plastic for scrap (including a large number of air conditioners) and since they moved in- a string of 17 years without a single break-in, changed to several a year. Well documented on this site.

While the city has no problem charging law-abiding citizens progressively higher fines for false alarm responses by police, no one is fining the bad neighbors for their draining of city resources for their failure to conform to society’s basic rules. Change this- and shut down homes that require inordinate amounts of public dollars- and not only will the city have more resources, but quality of life will improve in the neighborhood- boosting investor confidence.

Bad bankers are bad for investment

A home once appraised for over $150K gets foreclosed on. It had a woman who was divorced from a disgraced public servant living in it. She owed about $70K on the property- and the bank wouldn’t settle for less than the outstanding debt. They used our county prosecutors and sheriff to bounce her out of the home. Once vacant, they failed to properly winterize the home, forcing the bank to invest about $5k to make the home sellable. They then auctioned the home for $45K. Had they accepted a refinancing deal of $40K (what they netted on the deal) they would have kept her in the home- and not used your tax dollars to process the paper to evict- probably costing the taxpayers another $10K.

The solution: If a bank sells a property for less than what its lowest offer was to the homeowner, they are forced to contribute the difference back to a fund to help assist homeowners keep their properties. If a bank has inventory that is currently not being maintained or properly marketed, they aren’t able to proceed with foreclosures. If a bank takes possession of a property in habitable condition- and sells it in less than habitable condition, due to theft, malfeasance, or incompetence, they are forced to pay the purchaser for all repair costs to return those services.

The foreclosure cycle is only contributing to decreasing property values and it’s insanity for taxpayers to continue to support private enterprise with managing their business. As a small business owner, I can barely count on the courts to help me collect on my court-awarded debts.

Bad property owners are bad for investment

We have properties throughout Dayton that are owned by shell corporations, people in other countries, people who can’t be found. While peeling paint is something the city seems to focus on, the most dangerous physical problems are:

  • Leaky roofs
  • Overflowing gutters, which can cause foundation issues and siding and structural rot
  • Stink trees- weeds that grow at a crazy pace and can break foundations in a few years
  • Critters- raccoons, possums, feral cats, etc., can render a home uninhabitable quickly.
  • Dopers
  • Squatters

The problem is, if you can’t find the owner, how do you address these problems? This is where nuisance property laws and eminent domain could be useful, but both seem to be too much work for our elected public officials. We’d rather wait until the property is to the point where it has to be torn down than create intervention strategies that can avert entropy, which is the real enemy. A vacant home isn’t killing the neighborhood values- unless it begins to have the above problems. Work on systems of notification, fines and seizure in order to prevent non-compliant owners from devaluing others’ properties through their apathy.

Impotent police are bad for investment

No, I’m not talking about cops that can’t become parents, I’m talking about police who don’t have the manpower or the support of the community to enforce community standards. Sure, robberies, murders and vandalism suck- but, quality of life, peace and tranquility are where police can best make their presence felt.

You don’t speed through Oakwood for good reason- they enforce speeding laws- without the assistance of stand in cameras. They come when you call about drunk neighbors, loud music or even not putting your trash cans away. Dayton police would scoff at all of those complaints when in fact, those are the root base of community standards of conduct that make the difference in property values. Investment in community safety may trump all “economic development” dollars ever spent in our community- and pay back many times more, than our current reactive solution of tearing down the detritus of our years of failed priorities.

We, the citizens of Dayton, deserve better. If we had leaders who really understood anything other than how to keep their friends and family on the government dime, we might stand a chance of once again becoming the “Cleanest and safest city in America” worthy of investment.

Choose wisely.

When downtown businesses shoot the city in the foot: Parking wars

You know those parking meters at The Greene? The ones where payment is optional and goes to charity? You know how you don’t have to pay for parking at any business anywhere in the suburbs? That The Greene has not one, not two, but THREE parking garages- and they are all FREE?

And then we have downtown Dayton. No, this isn’t one of those get-rid-of-parking-meter rants by some idiot. Parking meters serve a very important purpose- making sure there are spaces for people who just have to run in and run out. Otherwise, the early bird downtown workers would all fill the on-street parking spaces- and no one would go downtown. At least not in a car.

But, we have meters- and the dreaded parking meter maids. You get a ticket and it’s $5 or $10 and it’s no big deal in the grand scheme of things.

Not so in the Oregon District. While everyone knows not to park in the lot next to the porn shop – which sits empty most of the time (even the people going into the porn shop don’t want to park there for fear of being singled out)- recently two establishments have been having a feud and pissing off patrons galore.

Roost and Lucky’s Tap Room are going at it hot and heavy. Lucky’s is probably pissed about losing the spaces out front for Roost’s valet service- and decided to start towing people who park in their little side lot- adding a $100 towing fee to anyone who doesn’t take heed. Now, granted- it’s a private lot, and there are signs. And, it’s happening often- so the first thing Roost should do is to ask where you parked- and have the valet move the car if it’s in Lucky’s lot.
However, if the Lucky’s owners really want to keep their spots free for their customers, they could make their first move by asking the people at Roost to please stop in after their meal to have a beer or two at Lucky’s – or make a donation to a charity much like they do at The Greene. Instead of calling a tow company- get a boot- but, label it a charity boot.

The real question is why has the city not built a garage behind the EPA building, even with a nominal parking fee of $1-$3 – it could change the district into a really amazing place. All the parking spaces out front- could be used for extended patios- closing off the street to cars entirely would make for an awesome party district (especially since the street isn’t even fit to drive on). The garage could even have mixed uses- with more retail on the first floor- and a rooftop party deck- or housing on top. This is an economic development project worthy of tax dollars and would help many businesses- instead of handouts to single companies who promise the world and deliver squat.

For all the money we’ve poured into the Downtown Dayton Partnership- what the Oregon District is still in need of most is public infrastructure to support the businesses. Towing customers is just sending a message to take your money elsewhere and helps no-one in the long run.

(This post was for S.T., who had her car towed on Friday night.)

Compost or Green energy plants?

A large scale composting facility in CA

Hi, I’d like to start dumping stinky bio-waste next door to you. I’m the guy who mistakenly demolishes landmark buildings on city contracts. I’ve donated lots of money to elect dunderheads to lead your city into the ground- which has been very good for my demolition business. I charge a lot more to tear down buildings because I get the big contracts from the people I donated to. Won’t you welcome my third world solution to bio-waste to your community?

Steve Rauch, who owns the Dayton Farmersville Road property and an excavation and demolition business called SRI Inc., 1550 Soldiers Home-West Carrollton Road, and business partner Dan Wampler of Mason submitted a conditional use request to the Jefferson Township trustees for the composting facility and two greenhouses.

If approved, the proposed business would be called KOTE (Keepers of the Earth) Organic Farms and take in waste, including fruit and vegetable cut-outs and tea leaves from food processing companies, according to Wampler.

The compost created at the proposed facility would be sold.

via Proposed compost facility topic of NAACP meeting | www.mydaytondailynews.com.

A community meeting with the NAACP chapter is scheduled for Monday June 30 at 6 p.m. at Jefferson High School, 2701 S. Union Road to discuss this plan.

photo of Quasar bio digestor facility

Quasar bio digester facility

On the other hand- meet a guy named Mel Kurtz. He’s a visionary from the Cleveland area who has perfected a process to take bio-waste and put it in big sealed vessels and turn it into green bio fuel. My plants don’t stink- and I can create natural gas cheaper than fracking can- without creating toxic waste water, causing earthquakes or having your property downwind of a shit heap of flies and maggots

What is anaerobic digestion? Anaerobic digestion is a process in which microorganisms break down organic material in the absence of oxygen, creating biogas, which can be captured to use for electricity, pipeline quality natural gas, and motor vehicle fuel. Most of the natural gas used to heat and power homes and businesses in the U.S. comes from underground deposits created millions of years ago by the anaerobic digestion of ancient organic materials. Quasar’s anaerobic digestion system generates a renewable form of natural gas in a matter of days by feeding microorganisms organic waste including: crop residuals, manure, food waste, fats, oils and greases, personal care products, biobased lubricants and municipal waste water.

via quasar energy group.

Mel Kurtz is becoming a very wealthy man with his green technology. And while he can build plants from scratch, he’s tried to put his systems into our area- using old fuel farms for failed “economic developments” – by partnering with a local visionary businessman, but, because either he forgot to grease a bunch of political palms- or, well, he forgot to grease a bunch of political palms, his offers of CNG for $2 a gallon for 20 years, and offering to create clean electricity to power major airport infrastructures have been rebuffed or ignored.

The first fools to pass this up were the Dayton City Commission and Dayton City Manager Tim Riordan. The Emery/UPS facility at the Dayton “International” Airport was tied up in a lease with UPS until 2019, guaranteeing the city a few million a year, a facility maintained to FAA standards, and employment of about 50 people to maintain it.

A local visionary took a plan to the former airport director and UPS to put solar arrays on the roof of the facility, turn the fuel farm that was sitting unused into anaerobic biodigesters, and fill the facility with equipment for disaster relief using RFID tagged supplies and UAVs to fly over a relief site- tracking all the supplies. Cutting edge stuff- instead, they let UPS opt out of the lease for net present value of about $7 million- and handed half of it- and the $100 million + facility that your tax dollars helped build and equip, over to the vultures of IRG, who quickly let the facility go to hell, scrapped the fuel farm, the 4 huge emergency power turbine generators, the computerized conveyor systems  and leased a small portion out to some low tech business with 35 jobs.

That local visionary then turned his sights on Wilmington Airpark. Another flop of “economic development” where taxpayers gave millions to Airborne Express to make an air freight hub, only to be acquired by DHL- and then abandoned. There, a similar fuel farm was waiting for biodigestors- but a former Dayton “economic development expert” who failed his way up to the Ohio Department of Development under Governor Strickland- and then found his way to the Port Authority of Wilmington, has sat and collected a $150K a year paycheck to scrap parts of that airpark just to keep the lights on. In an email that was accidentally cc’d he said flat out that there is no way he’d ever do business with that local visionary.

Problem is- Mel Kurtz, who offered to walk in to Wilmington and invest about $30 million asking nothing other than to sell electricity back at about half the going rate from DP&L/AEG, likes that local visionary. Now Mr. Kurtz, though the local visionary, is moving on to try to work with the people at Montgomery County to set up his systems at both the South Transfer Station and the proposed new Montgomery County Fairgrounds in Brookville. County officials are traveling to Columbus to view one of his systems there. Interesting thing- other than a 20-year land lease and a contract to supply energy at a discount for 20 years- Kurtz isn’t asking for any taxpayer handouts.

I’m not going to tell Derrick Foward and the Dayton Unit of the NAACP what to say at the meeting with the shit pile king of Dayton, but, building compost facilities today is akin to trying to sell mercury filings for teeth, cigarettes as a way to help asthma or thinking that “separate but equal” is a valid solution to civil rights.

It’s time for the people of West Dayton to say enough to being used as a dump for other people’s problems. It’s also time that the people wake up and realize that there are some pretty smart people in our community trying to work their magic, except for the fools we’ve elected over and over with the money supplied by those who have their own interests in mind.

 

 

Why does Dayton reward mediocrity?

Someone questions something in Dayton- shoot the messenger.

Yesterday, the Dayton Daily news posted an obituary on Edyth Lewis. In it, they spelled our former mayor’s name “McClin”- for pointing out the typo- I get called names, and one person suggests that if I’d die right now, it might increase my chances of winning some precincts. For those of you who don’t know, the name is McLin. We’ve got highways named after her father, a gym at WSU etc. There is no excuse other than lack of any kind of editing and proofreading talent at the paper.

Also yesterday, someone tried to claim that my recent posts about two former candidates’ death notices- not getting obits was a form of trolling for reads to this blog- and they did it on the article that was there to prove that obits were being missed.

Today, it’s front page news that Miller Valentine has a “plan” for redeveloping the “Fairgrounds like the Greene.” The paper supplies a pretty site plan picture- only, there is no indication that Miller Valentine is doing anything like the Greene. The main differences? The Greene always has had parking garages, and the development has zero exclusive residential – all of the buildings are mixed use. The Miller Valentine plan is decidedly missing both garages and has separate residential. And while they show a 35,000 square foot grocery store, the question is which company is going to use that size space? That’s approximately the size of the Wayne Avenue Kroger store which was deemed in need of replacement- which sucked over $4 million of the taxpayers’ money to create nothing.

Now, Miller Valentine has its hands out for public funds? Who is going to fill these spaces, or are we, the taxpayers, just supposed to finance their pipedream without signed leases and some sort of performance contracts in place?

Anyone can draw a pretty picture and sell an idea, but execution of it is another matter. One only has to look at Miller Valentine’s project “University Place” at the corner of Brown and Stewart to see its total failure to address parking properly- and that there are still multiple vacancies 5 years later should make it clear, this isn’t Steiner at work (developer of the Greene and Easton in Columbus).

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

While I was at Princeton Recreation Center (also known as Northwest or Dabny) hanging nets on Sunday- it was clear the city’s main effort at fixing up the basketball courts has been in the removal of my stickers from the poles – which give the number to call for net replacement. The kids asked me why I hadn’t fixed the crap rim and backboard- next to the rock. It’s not good enough that I hung three top of the line rims there- and keep the nets up. When I suggested they call Commissioner Williams, one of the kids- a girl who was riding around on a bike, dismissed me “we’re just trying to play basketball here.”

Mediocrity reins supreme in Dayton OH.

It pays to be a political donor in Dayton Ohio

Two years, $400,000 in your pocket. This right after you “make a mistake” in tearing down part of a historic building and get an additional $215,000 handed to you on a demolition contract. Only in Dayton Ohio can someone be so lucky so often.

It helps when you donate to the right people in politics, for a long time.

The Five Rivers MetroParks plans to use a $1 million Clean Ohio grant toward the purchase and cleanup of the defunct Larch Tree Golf Course.

That is, if the parks organization carries out the purchase option agreement it signed with owner of the old golf course, Bearcreek Farms, Inc. in Dayton, in February….

Five Rivers would like to turn Larch Tree, an 18-hole golf course property, into conservation land and make it a part of the 360-acre Great Miami Wetland Mitigation Bank conservation area that sits adjacent to the golf course, according to Dave Nolin, Five Rivers director of Conservation….

Montgomery County Auditor’s records show that Bearcreek Farms, Inc. took the old golf course from Steve R. Rauch in June of 2012, the same year the golf course closed due to lack of business. However, Rauch is listed as the incorporator for Bearcreek Farms for records filed in the Ohio Secretary of State’s office.

Rauch bought the property for $600,000 from Financial Services, Inc. in April of 2012.

via Five Rivers MetroParks sets sights on property.

And the old line of “well, we’re using federal dollars to do it” doesn’t cut it- those “Federal dollars” are our tax dollars too. Insider information is being passed to people in advance of government purchases- or, government employees are being told about “opportunities”- you buy this property for this much- and they go ahead and do it. Much like the botched land purchase by the South Transfer Station:

Montgomery County last year paid $475,000 for a parcel of land that sold for $70,000 five months earlier, a price jump the county blames on botched communications with its real estate broker.

The parcel at the northeast corner of Springboro Pike and Cardington Road had been targeted by the county for years yet was snapped up by a newly formed company that then resold it to the county in September 2013 for nearly seven times the price paid the previous March.

via Botched land deal blamed on mixup | www.mydaytondailynews.com.

Of course, both these deals are chump change compared to the raping the citizens of Dayton took on the bad deal with IRG at the Dayton Airport- where the city gave the “developer” a check for $3.5 million and the rights to scrap the assets of the former Emery Air Freight building that was on a guaranteed lease to UPS until 2019. It’s been over three years on that debacle and IRG hasn’t brought any jobs to the site, it now sits unkempt- missing 4 emergency diesel generators, a huge stainless steel fuel farm, a multi-million dollar automated sorting and conveyor system and who knows what else. The term of the deal was 3 years- and no one has demanded performance or the property back.

Anyone who wonders why donors would hand a mediocre city commissioner half a million dollars to run for Mayor- a job that pays $45K a year, should look at deals like this and realize that this is just tithing to the “monarchy of Montgomery County”- the network of mostly democratic office holders who have been taking care of the “Friends and Family” for years- selling out the citizens left and right.

If you wonder how the Arcade – a project we taxpayers put millions into, ended up being sold to Tom Danis for $36K plus a check to former Police Chief Tyree Broomfield for $100,000 to resign.

If you wonder who owned a bunch of properties right in the path of US 35 W that had to be bought and torn down for construction to begin.

If you wonder why demolition is the preferred method of “economic development in Dayton”- etcetera- it’s all because some political donor wrote a check. And as they say- payback is a real mo-fo.

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.

 

ScareCenter 7 shuts our city down (again)

On Valentine’s day in 2007 I wrote a post that said:

we do a lousy job of clearing the streets in Dayton and there should be no excuse.

via The economic impact of snow days.

Of course there was more in that post, including the question of why every truck in the city wasn’t turned into a plow and every employee learning how to plow, so that we keep the economic engine running… but that’s too much like solving a problem for Dayton. We prefer to bury our heads in the snow.

On my way to hockey on Sunday night, I had to drive out the ice-covered streets in South Park to get to the main roads. In Kettering, miraculously, it was as if I’m on another planet, the side streets are clear. Hello?

Cold isn’t a reason to close school systems, unless your furnace doesn’t work. Minot ND doesn’t shut down at -10 degrees and neither should we. The economic impact of parents having to stay home to watch kids is devastating. The loss of business to every business that depends on consumers leaving their homes is also painful. The idea of “snow emergencies” where you are supposed to stay off the roads, is pure idiocy with less than a foot of snow, and even then- that’s why man invented snow plows.

I’ve got to admit, that since I wrote the post I mentioned at the beginning of this one, I’ve bought an all-wheel drive car. It does very well in this weather- but the reality is that we have no excuse for the ice rink on Bonner Street other than the misguided leadership that gave a tax break to GE but can’t plow the streets.

How are those engineers supposed to get to work to invent the transporter from Star Trek, Madame Mayor?

What people don’t realize is that having the list of closings on Cox’s websites sure does give them a lot of page views on a slow news day. It’s time to stop letting ScareCenter 7 ruin our economy. It’s time for Dayton to fire its economic development department and a few assistant city managers and hire people who can do the job the city is supposed to do- clear our streets. And, last but not least, it’s time to stop listening to “ScareCenter 7″- just because the Cox puzzle palace feeds on fear, our city shouldn’t stop doing what it’s doing.

Put layers on people, drive a little slower, and get back to work.