Failing Dayton leadership finds fall guy: meet my neighbor Max Fuller

Max Fuller is an affable guy. When I first moved into South Park he was active in South Park Preservation Works- our non-profit neighborhood development corporation that had rescued at least 8 homes. There was some controversy about him hiring himself and the rates he charged the corporation, but those homes are still standing and occupied today (the NDC is and has been in hiatus for some time.).

Max went to work for the city about 18 years ago- he did his job, he rose in the ranks. I’m not going to speculate on his job performance, but the powers that be kept promoting him until he was the manager of housing inspection and making a decent living. Max raised his kids in the city and sent them to DPS where at least two of them starred in the Stivers Jazz band that won all the national attention. One is now a lawyer and giving back to the community being involved in leadership of one of the “youth movement” networking groups.

Max fixed up his house- making a huge double into a “huger” single. He fixed up and sold his old house. He’s not been to many neighborhood meetings, but he put his time in on the alley sweeps back in the day.

I found out about his “resignation” while out collecting signatures a few weeks ago. He was short a few years from having his full retirement benefits and isn’t quite sure of what’s next. In today’s paper, we find that he’s the one who’s solely responsible for the slow going on the tearing down of vacant homes- despite no negative write ups in his 18+ years of service?

The city of Dayton’s housing inspection manager has resigned and officials promise sweeping changes to increase the demolition of nearly 10,000 vacant and deteriorating properties that drain public safety resources and attract vagrants and crime.

The city’s promise is in response to numerous citizen complaints that nuisance structures are not being demolished fast enough. The city has demolished 54 housing units this year, well off the previously stated goal of 40 properties a month.

The city has received nearly $28 million in federal funds to address blighted neighborhoods and must contract the money out by 2014.

The slow start to this year follows last year’s total of about 300 structures demolished — nearly half the total compared to previous years.

Max Fuller resigned last month as housing inspection manager after commissioners blasted the department for not bringing down nuisance properties fast enough. It is unclear if Fuller’s resignation was related to those issues. A review of his personnel file found no documented issues with his work performance.

Shelley Dickstein, assistant city manager and Fuller’s supervisor, said she could not comment on personnel issues.

via City inspector resigns, officials promise demolition changes.

Of course, no one has fired or asked Shelley Dickstein to resign after the colossal screw up at Wayne and Wyoming where the city first “blighted” almost 90 properties, then paid for 2 appraisals and paid multiple options on them to put together a tract of land for a new Kroger- despite not having a written contract to do so, with a performance guarantee from Kroger or the “developer” Midland Atlantic- on top of supervising our fall guy, Max Fuller.

In the very same issue of the DDN we find that the Ohio Senate has approved a 700-page bill in a near record 2 weeks- with a rushed vote yesterday to beat the opposition crowds that were expected today- and by removing 2 Republican legislators from the committee who were actually using their brains- which addressed the exact sort of thing we’re seeing with Mr. Fuller:

State Sen. Bill Seitz, R-Cincinnati, who is a partner in a pro-management law firm, said while the bill has needed reforms, it has glaring deficiencies. ..

He also warned that the bill could leave long-term public employees, who do not get Social Security or 401(k) plans, out of work just shy of the years needed to qualify for their pensions. Seniority would no longer be the exclusive criteria for deciding a layoff order.

“When those older workers are riffed out of the work force, they get a big fat nothing,” he said.

To get the bill to the Senate floor, Niehaus removed Seitz and state Sen. Scott Oelslager, R-Canton, from key committees.

via Collective bargaining bill passes Ohio Senate.

My guess is we’re going to see a wrongful termination suit probably filed by another neighbor of mine, attorney Jeff Silverstein against the city on Max’s behalf. The city will be tied up in legislation- and will pay a large settlement.

In a few more years- we’ll still be “behind” on our schedule to tear down houses, we still won’t be hiring enough police officers (never mind ones of color) and citizens still won’t have the security and confidence to continue to invest in their neighborhoods to take care of our aging housing stock.

The true problems with vacant homes falling into disrepair are the same reason that a restaurant that doesn’t clean the bathrooms and hires dirtbags to work there goes under- people won’t invest where they don’t feel safe and have an optimistic outlook on the value of their investment.

Making empty lots isn’t the answer. Finding people to buy these homes for a song and make their life in Dayton is.

Unfortunately- City Hall refuses to take responsibility for the population flight, the disinvestment and their failings to provide a vision for how to “keep the restrooms clean.”

Instead- they choose to blame- it’s all Max Fuller’s fault. #FAIL

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