Only the little people get burned in Dayton Ohio

I’ve often said the worst thing that can happen to a property owner in Dayton is when your next door neighbors home is foreclosed on. Next thing you know, the copper wire, the copper plumbing, the furnace, the A/C, is all pulled out by scrappers and the cost to replace it it way more than the scrap value.

The second worst, if it doesn’t burn your house too, is having your neighbors home catch on fire. The hulking relic can stick around for years.

Unless of course, your a school board member and a friend of Mayor Nan Whaley.

The house next door to new School Board member Karen Wick Gagnet burned down on April 22nd 2018.

A few days later, demolition crews were knocking the walls down and making it a mound of rubble.

And, by June 22nd- it was being excavated and backfilled.

That doesn’t happen for the average taxpayer. There’s a house on Salem that burned so long ago- it’s covered in ivy.

That’s why we did a little video- “Burning Questions” which asks why there isn’t a standard protocol city wide for what has to happen when a building burns, complete with deadlines, bonding, and even a public auction if an owner can’t promise to take care of it.

It’s time that everyone gets the same treatment in Dayton. Not just the elected folks.

What should happen?

Within the first 30 days, a property owner has to fill out a plan complete with how they’ll pay, to either demo the property or begin repairs.

If that doesn’t happen, an instant auction will take place, with bidders able to take the property, as long as they can file a plan and have a bond for enough to cover the project.

If no bids come in, the building is demolished, the owner charged for the demolition, and the real estate is instantly put up for sale.

There is no reason for these hulking piles of trash should be allowed to stand.

Tax more or spend less? Introducing Reconstructing Dayton

Reconstructing Dayton logoI’ve mentioned Reconstructing Dayton a few times before on this site. As of this writing, it has exactly 4 posts.

That will probably change now. Today, at the County meeting at 6pm to discuss the .25% sales tax increase, we’ll have a frank talk about the absurdity of all these local banana republics masquerading as cities, villages, townships- and sucking money out of all of our pockets for no good reason.

We have too many governments in Montgomery County. We have too many City Managers, economic development directors, police chiefs, municipal courts, street maintenance supervisors, you name it. And I’m not even going near the multitude of school districts, school boards and the mysterious Montgomery County Educational Service Center.

On top of that- we have tax levies coming out the wazoo. Two levies each for Human Services and Sinclair. Metroparks, the Library, local schools, it all adds up to paying for bureaucrats in triplicate.

If you’ve wondered why there hasn’t been much on Esrati.com for the last two weeks, it’s because we’ve been working away on www.reconstructingdayton.org where we’re working on identifying the costs and overhead caused by bureaucratic bloat. We’ve got someone working 20 hours a week, gathering data, tax rates, names of those in power, copies of contracts, annual billing statements, population of each subdivision- and working on creating a datamap of how much this insanity is costing us, the overtaxed minions of Montgomery County.

It’s set up as a 501(c)(4) so we can run informational ads at election time, telling voters which politicians actually will give support to working on ways to reduce the redundancy and cut costs- so a sales tax increase won’t be necessary. Because, if you understand the nature of sales tax- it’s a regressive tax that costs those with the least disposable income, the greatest percentage of their paycheck.

What would make more sense? A whole bunch of things. A flat income tax for all of Montgomery County, no matter where you live- township, city, village or under a bridge. Then, dole it out to each real jurisdiction, based on efficiency of delivering services. Take your payroll, divide it by people per square mile- or some such formula. Businesses wouldn’t have to spend a fortune trying to track payroll deductions- and employees wouldn’t be penalized for living in Brookville and working in Dayton (currently, they are paying 3.5% income tax- because Dayton raised theirs last year to 2.5% and Brookville stopped forgiving it all- and said you’ll pay 1% no matter where you work).

My first suggestion is to force Moraine to merge with someone. Anyone. Kettering should be their logical partner since their schools are merged. Jefferson Township schools- should become part of Valleyview or Dayton- or Trotwood, take your pick (if you’re smart- Valleyview), 340 students does not a district make.

In the meantime- pulling all this data together, building the databases and entering the data, will cost money. If you’re sick of taxes going up and government delivering less. Or if the battle of tax breaks to lure businesses from one municipality to another is leaving you as the last man standing with a tax bill (because you’re not GE), we’re here for you. Please consider making a donation to Reconstructing Dayton. Every little bit helps. We’ll also be looking for volunteers to help with data entry sprints and research. So please go and sign up for updates.

How many municipal courts and websites do we need?

 

Bad math for public housing in West Dayton

Kids playing basketball at DeSoto Bass basketball courts- with an Esrati supplied free green net

I hang nets at the Bass courts about 3x a year.

In the “you should have to pass a math test to be elected” file, we can add this pie in the sky malarkey plan by Greater Dayton Premier Management for building low income housing in West Dayton:

A $96 million proposal to transform public housing in West Dayton calls for demolishing Hilltop Homes, shrinking and replacing DeSoto Bass units, adding new mixed-income housing and making other investments.

The multi-phase project — which could take as many as 15 years to complete, depending on funding — seeks to replace obsolete housing with new units and break up concentrated pockets of poverty by more evenly dispersing subsidized housing across the community.

The project’s price tag is daunting, but the community has a shot of winning up to $30 million in federal funds to help make the plan a reality….

GDPM plans to demolish Hilltop Homes’ 150 units. DeSoto Bass Courts, which sits on a 45-acre-site at Germantown Street and Danner Avenue, would be reduced from 350 to 250 units, and old units will be replaced with new ones.

Hilltop was constructed in 1965, and DeSoto Bass was built in two phases, between 1942 and 1953.

About 100 new replacement units also would be developed either in other parts of West Dayton where there are more amenities or elsewhere in the city and Montgomery County, Patrick said….

Tarina White said she grew up in a public housing development in Youngstown and now lives in Hilltop Homes with her children.

White, 42, said she would like to see Hilltop torn down because it is old and deteriorating. GDPM estimates it would cost $28 million to modernize Hilltop Homes.

“If they can build some new homes, that would be good, and also some new playgrounds and a community center and better parks for the kids,” she said.

She said McCabe Park right now is “trashy,” which is a shame because it could be a nice public space.

Source: Dayton public housing: $96M plan could reshape area

Of course, Hilltop Homes is the stomping ground of our new School Board President, the Reverend William Harris- the one who hears 7 no votes- and says “The motion passes.”

Tarina White is right- Hilltop should be torn down- because it was crap housing to begin with. As to DeSoto Bass courts, it’s solid well built buildings- much like base housing built around the same time. Those homes are solid-the problem is the people they house don’t have jobs, and we’ve concentrated poverty. They need nearby jobs that pay well, and to realize that these small homes are ideal starter homes for young families. Add a fitness/rec center, a pool, some nice common areas- and this could be a solid community. Put community based policing right in the center and voila- instant nice neighborhood. Tie in Louise Troy, Wogaman and Dunbar as community schools- and make them all great schools- and people will want to live there.

But, the math part. Take the 500 units. Take 96 million dollars. Divide it by 500- and you get $196,000 per unit. I place a bet, if you gave each adult resident of those homes half that amount, to spend on a buying a single family home in West Dayton, and rehabbing it- especially in one neighborhood- you could have the next South Park. I bought my house for $14,500- put about $65K in it- and voila.

The problem with subsidized housing is that without the real jobs/or skills to fill those jobs- you can check in but you can never leave.

We have to figure out a way to bring back jobs to West Dayton- what we don’t need is new versions of the old poor peoples ghetto, which is what this plan is buying. Unfortunately, every new project that DMHA/GDPM has built- is just as crappy as Hilltop. Madden Hills- the savior of West Dayton in the late 80’s isn’t much better than the savior of the 40’s- The Bass.

We need holistic solutions to these very real problems. It’s not the houses, it’s not the people, it’s income inequality and pervasive inter-generational poverty.

Time to go back to the drawing board folks.

Outlaw capriciousness

The first time I heard the word capricious was in college. It was from my political science professor, Jim Jacobs at Wright State, in a conversation about the enforcement of historic zoning laws in Dayton. I felt I was being unfairly singled out for improving my $14,500 house, while a house in the Oregon District, owned by a judge (and now by library director Tim Kambitsch) had the exact same garage doors- yet I was being ordered to replace mine for being “vinyl imitating wood.”

He said the capricious enforcement of the laws was the problem. I had to look it up then. And it strikes me now as the essential problem in the United States.

Capricious is an adjective to describe a person or thing that’s impulsive and unpredictable, like a bride who suddenly leaves her groom standing at the wedding altar. You can criticize a fickle-minded person as capricious, but it could just as well describe quickly changing weather, as in “capricious spring storms.”

~vocabulary.com

The whole premise of laws, and justice, is that the scales are balanced, fair and blind. In the idealized American dream vision, Lady Justice holds a fine honed sword, the balanced scales, and is blindfolded.

However, we know that more poor black men end up in prison than rich white ones, despite there being a whole lot less black people in the population. Five times more likely, to be exact.

We know that the likelihood of death by police shooting is much higher for black men than for white ones. Three times more likely.

All of this isn’t necessarily linked to the faults of the justice system, which may just be reacting to the built in biases and failures of our country to live up to the idealized version of America set in place by the founding fathers. We all know these near sacred words, in the second paragraph of the Declaration of Independence- “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.

Yet, those truths aren’t really truths. The truth is, what makes someone happy actually may actually be the denial of others happiness. We could go down the rabbit hole of Karl Marx right now- and start discussing the merits of class structure and ownership of the means of production, but let’s just assume that we’re stuck with the systems we have, and why, when laws are made, they only have meaning when they are enforced equally.

The simplified rule of law; “the restriction of the arbitrary exercise of power by subordinating it to well-defined and established laws.”

And the more nuanced version via the World Justice Project:

1. Accountability
The government as well as private actors are accountable under the law.

2. Just Laws
The laws are clear, publicized, stable, and just; are applied evenly; and protect fundamental rights, including the security of persons and property and certain core human rights.

3. Open Government
The processes by which the laws are enacted, administered, and enforced are accessible, fair, and efficient.
4. Accessible & Impartial Dispute Resolution
Justice is delivered timely by competent, ethical, and independent representatives and neutrals who are accessible, have adequate resources, and reflect the makeup of the communities they serve.

When you look at those four pieces, that have to operate together, you start to see where we fail miserably in Dayton Ohio. Over and over, we have let little things slip by, accepted mediocrity and stripped away protections until we have reached a level of dysfunction that seemingly just can’t be overcome.  No one can keep tabs on those in power. We capriciously  create tax structures (Austin Landing having income taxes only on the working class). Things are done in private (school closing task forces). And, in order to enforce things as simple as the residency of a school board member- you are on your own.

And it gets expensive. Really expensive. Because the mistakes compound at an exponential rate. Need an example? How many lawsuits will we have to settle at the Montgomery County Jail?

Did I lose you?

One of the supposed fundamental points of differentiation between “liberals” and “conservatives” is the argument about the size of government. Conservatives like to complain about too much government and intervention, and liberals expect the government to solve all their problems.

Unfortunately, no one talks about too many governments.

Part of the equation of old was that the “Fourth Estate” would be a guiding hand to influence, shape and keep honest the other three- being the clergy, nobility, and the commoners. However, there was no official way to fund the workings of the fourth estate (sure NPR gets a pittance from the feds, but that’s not enough) and with the changes in technology and the media landscape, we’ve not figured out a new way to keep tabs on those in power- all of them.

We’ve allowed governments to multiply to a point where no one can keep tabs on all of it, and when someone like me, tries to shine a light on just one of the bodies of government, in this case, the Dayton Board of Education, we start seeing the raw underbelly of a beast that operates without checks and balances or even professional standards.

Part of the reason they get away with it is because the people they “work for” are too busy fighting for survival. Transplant any of the problems of DPS to a wealthier community and the outcomes would be much different.

Imagine if Centerville tried to throw a football game. The reaction would have been swift and deadly for those adults involved. A year and a half after the Dunbar/Belmont fiasco- Mark Baker gets moved out of his job (not fired) and all the building Athletic Directors lose theirs. That a district is moving to a system that hasn’t been done anywhere else in the State- and that it takes money away from teachers who counted on the extra stipend, is lost on this board of elected dilettantes.

In Tipp City, the athletic director hired some family members- and found himself out of a job and facing criminal charges. At DPS, we’re patting ourselves on the back just because no money was unaccounted for in athletics, and people who had “lost” money (euphemism for theft) were allowed to pay it back.

At this upcoming board meeting, the Superintendent wants to implement new salary guidelines for administrators based on years of experience and sizes of schools. Great. Yet, she turns right around and says something like “if it gives someone a $15K pay raise, we won’t do it, this is only for new people.” And, the board sits their and nods their heads in agreement? This is capriciousness at work.

One board member asks a question about contract bidding processes. Dr. Sheila Burton says something incredibly stupid- “We have a rubric for scoring proposals, but, we pick the best fit not the best cost” and the board member sits and lets this capricious horse shit answer fly. Nope, you don’t have a way of scoring proposals then, and you should be fired is the correct answer.

The board is about to grant all administrators and staff a 3% retroactive pay raise- because, well, the others all got pay raises. The admin/staff folks almost shut down the district two times because they didn’t want to pay the rank and file. We even spent over $200K to hire a staffing firm to back up the boards reluctance to negotiate- until they caved at the last minute. If you think you deserve a 3% pay raise- go to another district. The sad fact is, most of the people working at the top levels of DPS are making more than they are worth and our performance on state testing prove it. If this board agrees to a RETROACTIVE pay raise, they should be the first to be fired. We elected a new board because the last board kept telling us we didn’t have the money to pay paraprofessionals, and now this?

The reality is, if there was one county wide school board, we’d have money to pay teachers well. We’d have competent leadership, and we’d be able to keep track of things much better. This also goes for courts, police departments, city managers and everything else. Does Moraine, population around 6,500 really need a city manager? Who is paid $145K a year? That’s $24 a year out of every taxpayers pocket for a guy who does the exact same thing as the City Manager of Kettering- right next door- population 55,306, and gets paid $196,442 or only $3.55 per person a year. To go one further- Dayton City Manager Shelley Dickstein’s pay of $196,116 works out to only $1.40 per person. Start to see my point?

There is no more fourth estate to monitor the workings or misdeeds of all these banana republics- and that’s why we have capricious actions at every turn undermining the framework of our idealized democracy.

To leave you with a thought about all these governments running amok:

“Governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, that whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles, and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness.”

? Cory Doctorow, Little Brother

It’s time to ban capriciousness- or at least, make sure we can keep an eye on the people we do elect.

Because it’s costing us a fortune.

Fairchild releases campaign video

Since this is the most read political blog in Dayton, here’s what you need to know.

There are two preachers running for Dayton City Commission. Some may get confused- one is named Daryl and the other is named Darryl.

And neither are R’s. Both are dems. One is a lifelong resident of Dayton, who has been heavily involved in the community. Darryl Fairchild. The other, Daryl Ward, was running for Montgomery County Commission until Joey Williams quit the Dayton City Commission just four months after he ran for re-election.

Nan and the Dem Party anointed the one who quit- to run for the seat of their candidate who quit. Daryl Ward on the ballot is evidence of two quits.

I’m working for the candidate who doesn’t quit. The one who I’ve seen at meetings for at least the last 15 years- getting involved, making a difference.  Here’s the video we made for him. “Fairchild doesn’t quit”

I urge all Daytonian’s to do their homework before voting. We’ve had years of the Dem party picks and we’ve paid the price.

It’s time for a change.

Sites:

Darryl Fairchild

Daryl Ward