Two quotes worth your consideration from Kate Ervin

In the great brouhaha that rose out of the inclusion of Garden Station in a development package to an unnamed developer with untold plans, Kate Ervin who worked for the city in the planning department when Garden Station was “born” wrote a long response to the development plan on Facebook- but one of her comments was priceless:

Frankly, I’ve always thought the City has placed too much emphasis on a simplistic formulaic approach to economic development. New jobs = increased income tax = increased City revenues. You can’t ignore the complexities that come with living in communities of living & breathing, thinking people, complex creatures that will choose to live in a city based on many quality of life issues

via (2) The Garden at the Heart of Dayton’s Grassroots Resurgence – Part 1.

Kate is the daughter of Dr. Mike Ervin, the man behind the curtain on the Downtown Dayton Plan, the $4 million paddle boat run and now, bike share (which he first heard about from me).

When it comes to priorities in Dayton, my response to the call for spending over $60 million to demolish abandoned homes- is that I never heard of anyone moving to a city because it has the most vacant lots. If we invest the $60 in things that make people want to move into Dayton- maybe we wouldn’t have the decaying housing problem we have now.

We’ve totally neglected parks and rec in our city- closing pools, letting tennis and basketball courts go to hell, and cut our safety forces to the bare minimum- meaning the vacant homes are quickly stripped of copper and anything else- furthering the decline in value.

Another Kate quote from the same thread:

I understand that the City has had budget crises for decades and has chosen to do things like cut out funding for a Parks Department. So I appreciate the push to have citizens step up to bring life to vacant spaces, especially in this case a very visible eyesore filled with trash & signs that the space was frequented by drug addicts and prostitutes. And then when they do, it would be nice to have these people be given more respect and not get the feeling that you’re seen as squatters or a nuisance.

Yet. if the city has a budget crisis- how did they find $450,000 to buy the old Supply One building that’s in question? Or the building at 601 E. Third St- for the same amount- that’s almost a million dollars on two buildings for which there was no declared public use. Toss in the $4 million plus they gambled on developing a parcel at Wayne and Wyoming for a Kroger- for which they had no contract with Kroger?

That’s nearly $5 million that wasn’t invested in parks and rec, or police, or fire, or things that government is chartered to do. It’s time we eliminate the entire “economic development” department, and invest in the “citizen satisfaction” department.

Garden Station DEVELOPMENT threatened by “development”

Last night, Facebook lit up. It seems, that a developer has been picked for one of the two properties first reported here as being bought by the city for $450K ea, the former Supply 1/HD Supply on Wayne Avenue, and that Garden Station’s sliver of land next to the railroad trestle is included (a total of 7.7 acres). Now, this may be premature, the developer may have more brains than the people in city hall, and may realize that the value of having a vibrant community cooperative park with deep rooted (pun intended) support is a developers dream.

For any of you who don’t know what Garden Station is, (full disclosure, my company The Next Wave hosts and designed their website pro-bono) it’s a previously vacant strip of land that was once known as hobo heaven, a vacant lot, enclosed with a rusty fence, that sat barren and overgrown for years until a local visionary, Lisa Helm, had the idea of turning it into a community garden. She did this with the blessing of the city.

UPDATE

29 Jun 2013 12:20 Here is a copy of the lease and letters from the city in 2008 establishing Garden Station Garden_Station_2008_lease_and_letters

It’s become, in a very short time, a mecca of beauty downtown. It’s been a part of the 1st UpDayton summit action plan, where beautiful murals were added under the railroad trestle, and the recipient of tens (maybe hundreds) of thousands of hours of volunteer hours. It’s Dayton’s homegrown version of The Highline– a project in NYC that cost hundreds of millions more, also involved a train trestle, and has totally changed the value of the area around it.

It is economic development- and what’s best, is it’s the kind that can’t be duplicated, replicated or a value put on it- it’s homegrown, organic, unique, living and a powerfully pumping heart in our community.

Because I don’t believe Facebook is the place for content like this- I’ve included the entire post by Lisa and the board from last night. Dayton Most Metro had part of it.

I’ve also taken the documents Lisa posted and turned them into accessible PDF’s for all to see. The letter from Nan Whaley (which I am going to refrain from a public trashing for now) and the RFP documents from the city. Whaley letter garden station pdf

Image of Whaley letter on Gardent Station

Click on image to download full pdf of Whaley Letter to Garden Station

image of first page of RFP

Click on Image to download City RFP in PDF Document

Warm Greetings, Supporters and Volunteers of Garden Station,

It is with a heavy heart that I must let all our supporters know of plans of the City of Dayton to potentially destroy Garden Station in its current form to make way for future “development”.

Last year the city purchased the whole block south of us, the old HD building, and I was leery of their intent. I invited city officials on tours of Garden Station and inquired about future plans that might affect us. I was assured that they were looking at the block south of us for development and not the property we lease. In January I was informed of the posted RFQ “as a courtesy” by the Assistant City Manager Shelley Dickstein and asked for meetings with her and Nan Whaley. Their position was that we are on development property and in order to attract the best developers they had to include our property as an option, but developers may choose not to use it. They were supposed to let me know who submitted proposals after the January 31st deadline but I have not heard back.

Recently I have heard through the grapevine that a developer has been selected and plans are made. I do not know what those plans are but have heard from many community leaders including priority board members that once the city announces their plans it is often too late to act.

I am asking you, our supporters and creators to ACT by calling, emailing and mailing our officials to ask for:

1. Garden Station to remain on the site we currently occupy as an amenity to potential housing/retail developments on the block south of us as well as existing residents.

2. Furthermore that our property be preserved as green space under a land trust organization, with occupancy by Garden Station as long as the property is maintained at an acceptable level.

3. Include your reasons for keeping Garden Station and tell what your personal connections are to Garden Station

I know there are over 1000 of you who personally have done physical labor to build Garden Station and over 100 community groups and businesses who have contributed to its creation! Garden Station uniquely represents the heart and soul of Dayton better than any other place in our city, through unique local artwork, music, community events and connecting our citizens to each other!  Like the Whos in the beloved Dr. Seuss book “Horton Hears a Who” we need to make our voices heard that WE ARE HERE!

So that’s it in a nutshell, keep reading for more details, contact info for officials and benefits of Garden Station to the community. I am posting the original RFQ and a letter from Nan Whaley stating her position along with a list of organizations who have helped build Garden Station by volunteering or donating materials or cash.

More Details…

Last year when the city purchased the option to buy the HD site to the south of us I was suspicious of their intent and invited several city departments to tour the garden and see what we were doing, how many organizations were involved, and our future plans. They seemed enthusiastic and sent film crews back twice to take more footage to post on the City YouTube page.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RmzZkvSX1ec&feature=c4-overview-vl&list=PL267DE55B8BB9A101

Planning & Community Development Director Aaron Sorrell, ( 937.333.4209 333-3670  [email protected][email protected] ) came out to our Sunday Market a few times last summer and I asked him if the city had plans for our space.  He assured me it was not something they were focusing on and that it would be years before they would even look at it. He also said that our site is not great for development anyway because of the noise of the trains going by right next to it, and the long and narrow shape. (Also it is 3 feet above street level on Wayne and would need to be graded. Other Architects I have talked to agree that pretty much it is only good for a parking lot.)

I had been informed of the posted RFQ “as a courtesy” by the Assistant City Manager Shelley Dickstein ([email protected][email protected] (937) 333-3600 ) in early January 2013. I asked to give her a tour to show what we were doing at Garden Station and to show all the community businesses and organizations involved. She said she would meet with me and sent me to her assistant for scheduling. After numerous calls on my part I never got a response or a meeting.

I messaged Mayor Gary Leitzell on Facebook on January 21st to ask if he knew of the plans. He had been to my Christmas parties, donated a bathtub to Garden Station before he was mayor and had asked me about public art projects, grocery/coops, and had even paid part of my way to attend a food coop training to see if it would be a possible fit for Dayton.  I thought he was supportive of Garden Station. His response was:

“The RFQ for the warehouse across the street is inclusive of your site. It is not site specific, I believe. The city needs to make the best use of the entire site and a developer may have more interest if they have more options and street access. If I were in your shoes, I would request to view the quotes when they are in to see who made them and invite the heads of those selected developing firms to your garden to discuss ways that it could be included in the development as an open space. Even a buffer space between the railroad and the new proposed “whatever”. Focus on the opportunities you can offer a developer and not on what you stand to lose. I think a good number of people will rally to your side to work on a compromise.”

Mayor Gary Leitzell
City Hall, Second Floor
101 W. Third Street,
Dayton, Ohio 45402
937-333-3636 Fax: 937-333-4297
[email protected]

I arranged a meeting with Commissioner Nan Whaley mid January. [email protected] She had been at Garden Station and I thought she was a supporter. But her position is that we are on “development property” and were never meant to be a long term project. To my thinking this means the community development we have done with thousands of volunteers and over 100 local organizations is not considered valuable enough in her eyes for the city to consider sustaining it. Her letter stating her personal position is attached. She stated that she would let me know what development proposals are made once they came in (on the RFQ you can see they were due by the end of January). To date I have received no information on development companies or proposals for the space.

Commissioner Joey D. Williams – [email protected] came to our EarthFest in April to hear about what was going on. He was not very familiar with Garden Station, did not recall hearing anything about our property on the RFQ and was going to investigate further. We have a meeting pending.

So it’s difficult to understand the City, they have named us a “Dayton Original”, awarded us many neighborhood mini grants for our lighting, stage, murals on Wayne and 3rd Street, wheelchair accessible garden beds, and outdoor kitchen; participated with us in “Parking Day” activities which promote more urban green space, appeared on PBS “Our Ohio” with us touting their support of urban agriculturehttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IB2iB5UHwO0 . We have also been included as an asset in reports of the Greater Dayton Downtown Plan.

Recently I got wind that a developer is in place and there are preliminary plans. Neither Nan nor Shelly informed us of this like they said they would. I have talked to other business owners, community leaders and priority board members who have advised me that the city tends to act first and get community input after the fact. This is not the way our government was intended to work.

If they are not going to let us know their plans until it is “too late”, then we need to make our voices heard NOW!

Commissioner Nan Whaley says we are on “development property”. It is interesting that they do not consider our development of the space a legitimate development option while I have spoken at regional planning conferences and spoken to officials where other governments are seeking to establish “developments” like Garden Station in their cities! Commissioner Nan Whaley also told me that they would not consider selling the property to us or a land trust to hold for green space.

SOME BENEFITS OF OUR “DEVELOPMENT” AS GARDEN STATION TO THE COMMUNITY:

 We are a unique attraction in downtown Dayton and have had visitors from all over the world stop to see us. We are on several travel sites including Roadside America and Trip Advisor. So many other “attractions” seem like cookie cutter copies that every city has. We have unique outsider art from all kinds of residents, examples of sustainable building techniques, demonstration gardens including a new food forest, a permaculture fixture that other cities brag about http://www.weather.com/home-garden/beacon-food-forest-20130620 , and we host all kinds of community groups from elementary students to UD and Sinclair student to the AARP.

We are providing education and demonstration of sustainable living practices in a time where more and more people are realizing the environmental frailty and nutrition-lacking aspects of our current food system. Our EarthFest was the largest Earth Day festival ever held in Dayton with over 30 free workshops for the public and over 30 local organizations participating. We are educating our neighbors to become more food secure and developing a more resilient local food system by training urban farmers in partnership with Omega CDC, Antioch College and Miami University. We are providing fresh, local organic food from our gardens to the public on Sundays when there is no other outlet for local food available in Montgomery County. We are providing fresh local organic food to seniors at Jaycee Towers and have the only rentable wheelchair accessible community garden plots in the area. Over 20 neighbors have community garden plots at Garden Station as well, including many urban dwellers without green space of their own.

We serve as an outdoor community center hosting all kinds of community organizations including meetings and non-profit fundraisers, art and music festivals, free music for First Friday featuring local bands, the Really Really Free Market, workshops, community potlucks, bonfires, rallies, weddings and more. Students from all over the Miami Valley from Elementary School to University have come for tours and volunteer days to learn gardening, art and green construction techniques.

We are an urban green space that serves all our area residents, created entirely by over 1000 community volunteers and donations, and over 100 community organizations and businesses.

Garden Station is created BY the community, FOR the community!

Please let our officials know you support keeping Garden Station as a community-created green space and the reasons you want to keep us!

Thanks for all your support! Garden Station exists because of support from our whole community!

Humbly,

Lisa Helm
Volunteer Garden Station Manager
www.facebook.com/gardenstation
www.daytongardenstation.org
[email protected]
937-610-3845

Please write, email AND call!

Mayor Gary Leitzell
City Hall, Second Floor
101 W. Third Street
Dayton, Ohio 45402
937-333-3636
Fax: 937-333-4297
[email protected]

City Commission Office
City Hall, Second Floor
101 W. Third Street
Dayton, Ohio 45402
937-333-3644
fax: 937-333-4297
[email protected]

City Manager – Timothy Riordan   937-333-3600 [email protected] Assistant City Manager Shelley Dickstein  – [email protected],    [email protected] (937) 333-3600

Planning & Community Development Director – Aaron Sorrell – 937.333.4209 333-3670  [email protected]  [email protected]

elementary students from k12 help mud the straw bale shed

volunteers from C2 church

Bricklayers Local 22 apprentices volunteer on the entry

AARP volunteers build wheelchair accessible community garden beds

jess and crew of volunteers install electric for lighting

UD volunteers build the greenhouse foundation
Even if the “developer” was to place an urban grocery store on the property, anyone with half a brain would want to keep and work with Garden Station as a source of fresh, organic, locally grown produce. That would be the “highest and best use” for this property- although what is probably coming is some kind of mixed use development in the grand original building- and hopefully- demolition for the hideous pole barn- or a possible new skin. Also note- if we had bike share, in Dayton, parking requirements for this new development could be considerably less.
The real question now is, who is the developer and what are their plans?
We may be jumping to conclusions about the demise of Garden Station.
Hopefully, we’ll get something synergistic to Garden Station- which is my eyes is the most successful development Downtown Dayton has seen in 20 years on a dollar per return basis. It’s a true silver bullet- that came at the price of next to nothing for the city. Lisa Helm is a visionary- and her vision is something that should be preserved and supported.
Also note, it will be interesting to follow the money on this deal. The gamble of purchasing real estate with no intended, stated, public use is not what I want my government to be doing. Let’s see if the developer was also a donor to Whaley’s quarter million dollar special election fund.

Leitzell calls for opinion on Pace case and charter changes at Commission meeting

I reported last week that the Mayor was asking for discussion about the William Pace case against the Board of Elections and the City of Dayton in the State Supreme Court about his legal right to run as a write in: Leitzell calls for charter change discussion on petitions During today’s commission meeting he brings it up and asks the commission to weigh in publicly on what the direction should be.

Matt Joseph takes the weeny position that this has to be discussed in executive session because it’s a legal matter and the rest, follow suit. Except for Dean Lovelace who asks “is the system broken?” which is funny, because Lovelace was the leading advocate of electing commissioners by district after he had lost twice in general elections. Once he won in a special election to fill the seat that was vacated by Mark Henry, he forgot all about it.

This is not a case where there will be monetary damages against the city. This is one of procedural law, based on if the Charter or Ohio Revised Code takes precedence on the matter of write in candidates. The fact that they didn’t immediately go into executive session shows that the four Democratic commissioners have no interest in doing anything on this case.

As to the petition changes, they can’t take action either, other than to recommend it for consideration by a charter review committee. How hard is it to take a stand?

Apparently, Nan Whaley and Joey Williams need to go check with their benefactors to ask what position to take. When you spend a quarter of a million dollars of Other Peoples Money to get 5000 votes in a special election, you have to check with your bosses.

“Where There Is Love” Dayton Ohio welcomes everyone

Before Gary Leitzell was mayor, there was a growing community of immigrants in Old North Dayton. No one in city hall paid much attention, or made an effort to welcome them to Dayton. Gary, in one of his acts of quiet change, made an effort to reach out to this community- and out of it, “Welcome Dayton” began. Last week, the US Conference of Mayors recognized his little project with an award. No small feat, especially after he was just pushed out of his bid for re-election by two candidates who spent a third of a million to get 7500 votes- with the 2nd place candidate beating Gary by a mere couple of hundred votes (note- he spent less than $1000).

One of the things I’ve always loved about Dayton is how friendly we Daytonians are. Genuinely friendly- everyone says hello- and looks you in the eye when they do. You live here, you know what I mean- especially if you’ve ever been to NYC or Chicago where you’d be looked at as strange for doing the same.

We’ve got a great culture here- a community that does amazing things. And we’ve got people with talent equal to that of any big city in the country. Which is why when I stumbled on this video on Facebook (thanks Aja) I knew right away I had to share it with all of you. I know a lot of the people in this video- but, this just makes me proud to be a Daytonian- and should make you too. Here’s their description from YouTube:

To celebrate the diverse cultures and talents in the city of Dayton, Ohio, a wide array of musicians, singers and dancers came together to create “Where There Is Love,” a music video based on the eclectic globe-hopping imagery and sounds that define Playing For Change. The entire video was shot on-location in Dayton.

This project supports the nationally recognized initiative called “Welcome Dayton: Immigrant-Friendly City,” a plan that seeks to bridge communication barriers and cultural differences throughout the city. The varied performers and lyrical message of “Where There Is Love” are a powerful illustration of that plan as well as the goal of Playing For Change — connecting the world through music.

SPECIAL THANKS TO: Laura Falkner, Eleni Prieto, Laura Rea, Ann Roberts, MB Hopkins & Daryl Gordon, Teri Schoch, Margaret Knapke, Gabriella Pickett, Jean Howat Berry, Doug Merk, Thom Meyer, Karl Berge, Janet Phillips & Feathers, Carillon Park, Five Rivers Metro Parks, Dayton Art Institute, Sunwatch Indian Village and Neon Movies.

Artists include (in order of appearance):

Puzzle of Light (Michael Bashaw, Sandy Bashaw, John Taylor, Erich Reith, Dick Roll); Amber Knicole; Edwin Corporan; Eric Lamboy; Gina Stough; Pourover (Dennis Rotterman, Lee Rotterman & Keith Wimberly); Michael Kotur; Frank Dixon; Leahy-Good (Rick Good & Sharon Leahy); Raymond Roach; Jay Martinez; Burundi Royal Court Drummers; DACA Tai Chi & Dance Group; and Seefari (Tom Carroll)

via Where There Is Love | Playing For Change (HD) – YouTube.

Awesome!

When “your government” says no

I just returned from a meeting of our neighborhood association, Historic South Park, Inc., where we discussed next actions of the neighborhood in relation to two different upcoming developments along Brown/Warren Street. The first, was the proposed new development between Burns Ave. and Kline St. which was being called “MidPark” and I wrote about here: MidPark? Part of someone’s plan. and then the follow-up plan to close off streets and possibly build new connections into the neighborhood.

Both of these meetings were presented supposedly as an opportunity to gather community input, but neither seemed to be based on actually sitting down and asking us what our concerns were, especially the second part with the street closings.

As some of the youngsters on our neighborhood board spoke about these projects, it was clear that they felt that the city and the developers were working within a set of rules that are in place that create a take-it-or-leave-it option for the community. An example was that ODOT funds for the reconfiguration of Warren Street can only be expended if intersections are at least X feet apart, or the money won’t be available were spoken as if God himself had handed down the rules from the temple mount and they were chiseled in stone. It was also made clear that the developer of “MidPark” was using private money- and as long as it lined up with zoning code they could do as they please (never mind the site was bought from the former Greater Dayton Metropolitan Housing Authority which owned the real estate with public money- and Citywide- which now “owns the property” is a quasi-public slush fund for your tax dollars).

It’s this kind of thinking that kills creativity- and great ideas faster than anything else. Government dollars are our dollars- not the “state’s” or the “feds’ ” or even the “City of Dayton’s money”- it’s our money, and it’s our city and we have a right to be involved in projects that do use our money, and oftentimes, the people who live there understand things like traffic patterns better than any “traffic engineer” no matter how many studies they do.

If you think a dog park is a great idea, or a skateboard park, or a roller hockey rink, or a community garden, it’s up to you to rally your neighbors and see what kind of plan you can come up with, because you get the city that you work for- that you dream of, and that you want- only if you ask for it.

The whole concept of the city of neighbors, the priority board system, the citizen participation that Dayton has been known for depends on citizens asking hard questions, wondering where their money is being spent and why. To sit back and just let organizations like Miami Valley Hospital, or Citywide or the city make plans without citizen participation when public infrastructure is involved (like closing streets) is an abdication of your rights and responsibilities as a taxpayer.

When GE comes to town and says, we’ll build new offices here, but only if you don’t make us fund your schools- the correct answer is, if GE doesn’t help fund our schools, GE won’t be able to hire our citizens anyway, so you can take your offices and put them somewhere else. In fact, since a ton of the business GE does is with the federal government, if you don’t pay your taxes, you shouldn’t receive them back in government contracts- and if you pay your CEO $20 million a year, you can afford to help us pay our teachers.

It’s when citizens sit back and think they can’t ask city hall for what they want- that we have problems in America, and when things like “The death of a good idea” happen, because we’re not paying attention and asking hard questions.

Historic and non-historic South Park have seen two new developments that are welcome in our neighborhood over the last few years in Jimmie’s Ladder 11 and Coco’s Bistro, but already, both have had issues with parking. Jimmie’s, which moved across the street under the direction of MVH, could have had a much bigger parking lot, but instead MVH “saved” a piece of land bordering Brown for a development that could never happen, because there isn’t space for parking. Had the neighborhood been involved, we might have asked why? Because now it’s obvious that not only does Jimmie’s need more parking, but that having the parking lot entrances in the back hasn’t been good for the neighborhood.

You can forget that we are our government and let faceless people control your future, or you can stand up and ask questions and propose new ideas, because, ultimately, it’s our country and we shouldn’t ever forget it.

One other funny thing in Ohio- and most states, we have laws called sunshine laws, that are supposed to make sure that changes in our community are made out in the open, in the sunshine, so that everyone can see, discuss, contribute. Everyone should have a chance to express their views, push for their ideas and challenge the status quo- because otherwise we’ll just rot in the dark, never knowing what could have been.

At the very end of the meeting, which was running long, where I was accused by some of “being negative” and running people out of the meeting by pressing for a comprehensive traffic plan for our neighborhood, I finally got the chance to officially start the discussion in South Park about things we could do to improve traffic flow and accessibility in our neighborhood. So, on top of my campaign for commission, I’ve just accepted another responsibility to try to move our community forward – or at least to think of what could be, if we only stop accepting what we have as “good enough” or “what we’ve always had” as the status quo- as opposed to what we could have. Wish me luck.

The untold story of the Sa-Bai failure

Reading last Thursday’s DDn article about the failed gamble with the giveaway lease price to Sa-Bai, you’d think that even if the city got the building back, they somehow did OK because the Cincinnati-based tenant, Chanaka DeLanerolle,  did “$200,000” in build out:

Dayton city officials strongly defended the lease, saying it was worth the gamble to rejuvenate a street-level property in a strategic location. Deputy City Manager Stanley Earley said the estimated $200,000 in renovations and improvements that Sa-Bai’s owners made to the restaurant will help the city market the space to future tenants.

Earley said the city’s lease with Sa-Bai’s owners was negotiated by Bart Shaw, the former director of the Dayton Convention Center who left Dayton in late 2012 to take a job as operations director for the convention center in Fort Wayne, Ind.

“But I think he did a reasonable job, and I have no problem with what he did,” Earley said. “Given the cost of the buildout (renovations), and the existing condition of the facility, and the lack of demand for that space, that lease was viewed as a reasonable contract.

“I’m sorry that Sa-Bai didn’t work out. But at the end of the day, we got a lot of work done at the facility, and we had a viable restaurant in there for a period of time.”…

On March 11, the letter demanding that DeLanerolle vacate the premises was sent. By then, the restaurant had been closed for several weeks. The owners complied with the order to vacate.

Reached by phone earlier this week, DeLanerolle said Sa-Bai “never broke even a single week” that it was open. But he said he made several improvements to the restaurant’s interior, including extensive plumbing and electrical renovations and new bathrooms that cost an estimated $200,000.

via City lease gamble fails to pay off.

According to my sources who’ve been in the space, what’s missing from the article, is that before vacating the property, DeLaneroole stripped the place bare- removing hoods, sinks, stall dividers- leaving the space in worse shape then when they took it over. The real question is does Stan Early know this- and is just playing dumb, and or why did the city allow this to happen? And, why aren’t they taking DeLanerolle to court.

Typically in a tenant buildout, any additions, leasehold improvements, etc.- that are attached to the building become part of the building- it’s part of the reason why building owners are willing to forgive some rent in exchange for the improvements. In this case, the City of Dayton and the taxpayers got neither?

As property managers go, here’s another prime example of the city, engaging in business they have no expertise in, and failing miserably. However, that matches their performance on things they are supposed to do, like provide parks and recreation opportunities, clean and well maintained streets and public safety forces. I guess we shouldn’t be surprised.

Dead kids in Dayton

Zombie flicks seem to be all the rage these days. The un-dead coming to make us dead. That’s no help for Devonta Marquise Rayford, who died on June 13, and won’t have an 18th birthday. He was allegedly shot by a 17-year-old, whose name was published in the paper, Isaiah J. Coleman. Rayford went to Stivers, Coleman to Ponitz, neither, according to sources come from what would be considered disadvantaged homes. It’s almost as if we’ve got sport killing going on, and in my view, it’s our fault.

Within a mile of my home in South Park are three facilities that were built for kids, that are now something else.

Closest is the old YWCA on Hickory Street across from Emerson School/Dayton Christian Middle School/Emerson Academy. It’s not been a YMCA since I moved to the neighborhood in 1986. It had a huge gymnasium, a kitchen, craft rooms, a large multipurpose space and virtually zero parking. It was built for kids to get to, and to play in. Supposedly, it was given to the neighborhood in 1971 by Virginia Kettering. It was where I first attended neighborhood meetings until it was sold off to a succession of failing social service type food pantries that never opened up the place to kids. It hasn’t had a tenant for at least 4 years and sits and rots.

photo of Dayton Boys Club, East side, with banner of yet another charter school

Dayton Boys club about to become yet another Charter School

In the strangest place to build a facility for kids, like the former Dayton Boys and Girls Club. It sits in the arms of a high-speed highway access ramp to US 35. It had an indoor pool, gyms and activity spaces. It’s now getting retrofitted to be another charter school, the Dayton Smart School which is supposed to be a bilingual school (however the website isn’t bilingual, so who knows). The landscapers were hard at work restoring order to a parking lot and grounds that had started to give in to entropy. The Boys and Girls Club vacated it about 10 years ago, and did the same to the West Side location a few years ago.

Bomberger Center across from Stivers was a city rec facility which was specifically turned into a “Teen Center” when Commissioner Idotha “Bootsie” Neal was a commissioner. It had an outdoor pool, and is graced by a beautiful park that has one of the city’s few semi-functional soccer fields (We have one with one goal in Burns Jackson park, just behind Emerson Academy next to US 35, it’s never had a net in the goal frame). Bomberger was sold off to become the Ahiska Turkish American Community Center. You can read about how our city decided to wholesale sell off buildings we built for the community in this post: Dayton can’t make up mind: buy or sell property. You will see a long list of rec centers that have been closed on that list.

I know people want to swim at Bomberger, because I get searches for “will Bomberger pool be open” – and sadly, the answer is no.

Photo of Danger Pool Closed sign at Dayton's Five Oaks pool

Five Oaks pool- closed

Same goes for the Five Oaks pool- which sits gathering weeds. I remember sitting in commission meetings listening to the debate on if this pool should be outdoors or indoors, or have a retractable roof (like Kettering’s main pool).

While the city claims that the cost of running these pools was outside the budget, they’ve gone on a shopping spree buying empty buildings with no declared public use and selling off valuable property for a song without opening up for bids. Or this post which shows how much real estate we’ve “invested our tax dollars in”

For the last two summers, my small business has been a job site for Montgomery County Youth Works- a summer jobs program for teens. Last year, the kids were paid minimum wage for a maximum of 15 hours, but this year, they got more federal dollars and it’s 20 hours. They’ve had a hard time finding enough businesses willing to take kids on. Part of the problem is cities used to hire these kids to be lifeguards at the pools we’ve closed, so instead, I’ve got two kids learning how to be in the advertising business- both from Ponitz.

Which brings me back to dead kids in Dayton. When you don’t give them nets to shoot for, pools to swim in, or jobs to grow in, they end up in prison or 6 feet under. We can blame video games, we can blame the ease of getting guns, we can blame the war on drugs, but, maybe, if those three buildings near me were doing what they were built for, Devonta Marquise Rayford wouldn’t be dead and Isaiah Coleman wouldn’t be headed to prison- which, by the way, costs taxpayers a lot more than running a basketball camp or opening a swimming pool.

I’m David Esrati, and I promise, that when you elect me to the Dayton City Commission, you will have one voice on the city commission that believes that parks and recreation are economic development and that our kids deserve better. Being part of the Gun Report in the New York Times each week isn’t the kind of marketing we should be doing.

 

 

Leitzell calls for charter change discussion on petitions

Mayor Gary Leitzell in an internal email to the City Manager and the City Commission calls for the city to no longer waste money trying to keep candidates off the ballot:

I have read through the material submitted in the case that William Pace has filed against the Board of Elections. In that case he has named the City of Dayton as a defendant. The Board of Elections was fully responsible for the decision in his situation. As such, I want to go on record stating that the City of Dayton should not spend one dime of public money defending this case against the BOE. I would like to see this as a short discussion item on next Wednesday’s commission meeting.

That being said, I think it is time to make some charter changes regarding the petition process. We need to make the form simpler. A simple sign and print your name, eliminate the requirement of a notary and we need to bring the recall and public petition process in line with the State of Ohio to require 25% of the general electorate based on total votes in the last governor election.

Every election cycle someone takes issue and goes to the courts. This costs time and money for all concerned. Let us take this situation to make some positive changes for the future and simplify things so we no longer have to defend ourselves for misunderstandings that should not be occurring in the first place.

Gary Leitzell

It’s about time this discussion came out. Pace is simply asking for the right to run as a write-in candidate, where he has zero chance of winning. Of course, if he gets that right, the possibility of Leitzell running as a write-in as well may come up (although by being eliminated in the primary, he may be explicitly barred). Would write-in candidates upset the process? Probably not, especially in the no cost barred mayoral race. But, thanks to Leitzell being out of the fall election, he’s able to ask the question which would guarantee voters knowing how Williams and Whaley stand on these long needed changes, possibly becoming a campaign issue.

For the record, these are the minimal changes I asked for in the commission meeting weeks ago- even giving the commission a sample version of a simplified petition. Thank you, Mayor Leitzell.

Privacy lost

I’ve said it before, the terrorists have won. Every time I’m asked to stick my hands up in the air at an airport by the TSA, I politely refuse and go through the pat down. I refuse to stick my arms up in surrender to my own government. The “Patriot Act” was passed quickly, without much real debate and our countries actions since September 11, 2001 have disgraced the principles of our founding fathers.

The saddest fact is that while there are terrorists stupid enough to use cell phones and the internet to discuss their plans, that doesn’t excuse our government for taking a hall pass on the constitution. I’ve always figured that we’re being watched and listened to, and I don’t let it bother me. The really crazy thing is that if we have the ability to thwart terrorists from bombing Wall Street by intercepting communications, please explain why we haven’t managed to stop spam? Really?

My little brother rarely sends me links, but, this video, Tap it: The NSA slow jam,  on YouTube was a fun poke at the whole thing:

Anthony Weiner wanting back in the game was my favorite line, btw.

When Robert Bork was being vetted for a Supreme Court seat, some congressman brought up his video store rental records which included porn. Bork claimed he was researching “obscenity”- and very quickly, congress passed a law making library records and video store records protected privacy – the Video Privacy Protection Act.

So, terrorists, if you are reading this- the secret is to embed secret messages in movies and then distribute them via Netflix or Family Video stores- and that way, the government won’t snoop. Yeah, right.

Esrati post primary campaign finance report

Better late than never. Here it is- the numbers are a little higher than I’d like- mostly due to mistakenly mailing postcards to people who voted early in person (although, with the number of them that returned, we’re going to have to do a little investigation).

We’ve taken in some donations post deadline, since we’ve got our donation system back online. I spent $4,234.60 in the primary, for 2,087 votes. I spent about $2.03 a vote, a far cry from the $50 a vote the Mayoral “winners” spent. That leaves me $5,800 to work with. For the record, Jeff Mims spent $4,836.87 on the primary to get 5,282 votes, and Joey Williams spent $3,733.90 to get 6,384 votes, although both were riding on Nan’s coattails with her quarter million dollar “campaign.”

If you count that some of my postage and printing also promoted the other Dayton Independent Candidates, Greer and Leitzell, if I had been reimbursed, it would have cut about $500 off the total.

I’ll be turning in the autographed version in the morning, but here is the PDF in a readable format for you to review: Elect Esrati Post primary Campaign finance report 16JUN13

I’ve got a lot of work to do between now and November. If you want at least one independent voice on the commission who doesn’t spend like a drunken sailor on a campaign, using vendors from out of state (both Nan and AJ hired DC firms to place their media buys- as if local Dayton media buyers don’t know this market better), please consider donating- the button is on the right.

With the exception of some campaign supplies- all my printing, vendors are local. I reinvest in my community.