Nan, Joey, David and the Dayton Daily News editorial board

I could write a long post about the editorial board interview, I took three pages of notes. Probably more than the editorial board. We also had reporter Joanne Huist Smith, and Assistant Metro Editor Anthony Shoemaker in the room- and a photographer for a bit.

Most of the questions came from Martin Gottleib and Ellen Belcher. Scott Elliott (with 2 “t”s -sorry Scott) only asked me how handing over the airport as a beginning of regionalism to a regional responsibility was a good idea. None of them seemed convinced that regionalism involves common sense- but, that’s another story.

Nan was visibly shaking through most of it. Joey sounded as if the pilot light was out. There was no energy- and no ideas discussed. Nan spent a lot of time talking about tearing things down. Joey talked about good financial management. Neither could point to any real accomplishments other than as Nan put it “we’re good at managing bad.” Truer words probably have not been spoken.

Neither Nan or Joey would say anything other than they have open minds toward regionalism. When asked when the City would go online with the regional 911 dispatch, neither had a clue. Their only effort toward regionalism, and they couldn’t answer the question.

Nan said she thought the priority board system was a mess- and that she paid more heed to neighborhood presidents, but had no plan for an alternative.

Joey spoke about his advocacy of youth programs and the hiring of a “Youth Director” and the “youth council”- however, this is kind of pathetic after 8 years in office.

They both defended the illegal work sessions as perfectly OK- and that there was no need to hold these meetings at the charter specified legal meeting. On this issue alone, the paper should rip them to shreds, but won’t.

I can’t say how many times Nan talked about tearing things down, but it had to be almost every other line. Her best was that she would continue to “attack the war on blight.” Uh, did you mean, uh, nevermind…

Martin asked to point out what cities were doing things right, to compare Dayton to others. I spoke about Portland Oregon’s smart government that started fighting sprawl long ago, and unigov. Nan and Joey said we’re in better shape than Toledo.

When asked what they tell developers coming to town as a recruitment speech, both struggled- but Joey finally came up with short commutes, the arts, sports (UD hoops and the Dragons) our “underutilized” river- and talked about how we don’t applaud ourselves enough. Me- I’ve got lots of posts talking about this- including the one that Dan Foley quoted when getting sworn in.

But, the best part was when Martin asked who we’d rather serve with. I jumped in and started since we already knew what they’d say. I questioned Nan’s $5,500 donation, her political party hackism, her focus on tearing down- and that I’d have to pick Joey over her. Joey was nice enough to acknowledge our friendship and our ability to have spirited debate, but toed the party line. Martin seemed surprised by the donation- and asked Nan who gave her the money. She said “Kitt Cooper” but almost made it as if she barely knew him- she “thought” he owned a demolition company, “Vance” something- and that his son lived on the West side of Dayton, but, she’d only met him once. Hmmmmm.

One other nugget. Apparently, Tim Riordan as interim City Manager was suggested by current assistant City Manager Stan Early to Matt Joseph  and Nan over lunch. Considering neither of them have been around long enough to have known Tim Riordan was interesting enough. The part about their “great city manager” not being able to groom a successor, was a point lost on the editorial board.

I quoted Steve Jobs: “A people hire A people. B people hire C people.” Martin asked for clarification about what grade I was giving the commission- Joey answered a “B”- but, the reality is that’s giving them credit.

Their lack of vision, ideas, an ability to separate themselves from each other only said that neither were worth a vote or an endorsement since you’ll end up with one by default. But, that’s just my opinion on the sit-down. We’ll have to wait for the Editorial board to rule from their throne.

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34 Responses

  1. Loni Podiak September 16, 2009 / 4:04 pm
    We need you David! This city needs you.
  2. Larkin September 16, 2009 / 4:14 pm
    Geez, it’s even worse than I imagined. 
  3. Sue September 16, 2009 / 6:29 pm
    It is exactly what I would imagine. What you will read in the paper of this interview will be unrecognizable vis-a-vis your blog, that is for sure.
  4. Gene September 16, 2009 / 7:44 pm
    Not to be negative, but this almost seems like a waste of time for you David. Maybe you should concentrate your efforts and get Gary elected.

    Rhine is not what we need. If he loses and you lose, as my buddy said after the last two loses to USC, which is , “well duck.”

    Good luck regardless.

  5. Molly Darcy September 16, 2009 / 9:46 pm
    David, I’m still confused about who exactly you think wants to buy crappy, rundown, boarded up, falling down houses that are surrounded block by block by the exact same kind of housing stock. Have you been in some of these neighborhoods? We’re not talking about diamonds in the ruff here, we’re talking about entire blocks good for nothing but tindling. And every “house” that goes up in flames from arsonists costs thousands more to the city in firefighting costs than tearing down the house would have cost to begin with. You’re argument makes zero sense.

    I’m also glad you got to spend some quality time with your good friend Joey Williams. Pilot light’s out though huh?

  6. Larkin September 17, 2009 / 2:07 pm
    Molly, I mean Nan–
     
    It costs $10,000 to raze a house. Maybe your friend Kitt Cooper didn’t apprise you of that. No wonder he wants to support your campaign. With your little eminent domain scheme, excuse me I mean “land-banking” cough cough, he can recoup his investment in a few short weeks. 
     
    Firemen get paid whether they fight a fire or not.  
     
    People own many of these houses in so called blighted neighborhoods. They live there. Their home is their only asset. To declare those neighborhoods “blighted” in order to pave the way for developers is immoral and from a constitutional standpoint, illegal. I happen to live on the west side, I know of what I speak. 
     
    Not posting under your own name is such a cowardly act, dear. 
  7. Gene September 17, 2009 / 4:16 pm
    So what do you propose then Larkin? Regarding the actual vancant houses………
  8. Lynn September 17, 2009 / 4:33 pm
    Gee, Larkin, you seem to see Nan Whaley everywhere. If it rains tomorrow, that will probably be Nan’s fault too. Did she run over your dog or something?
    For a candidate who wants to be out of the box, I’m surprised how much 1980’s thinking I see around here. Saying we shouldn’t tear down unwanted, dilapidated houses? Just let them sit there. Let arsonists burn them and criminals occupy them? When those properties could be used for a common good? Spoken like someone who moved into a historic district in the 80s and then stopped thinking.
    Also- unions passing out campaign materials? You must think it’s the 80s and Joe Shump is still chairman. Since you keep running and losing big, perhaps your campaign theme song can be an 80s classic like “Here I Go Again” by Whitesnake.
  9. Larkin September 17, 2009 / 5:12 pm
    No, Lynn, I just see Nan Whaley in cowards that won’t sign their name to their opinions.  Do I think neighborhoods should be destroyed? No, I think they should be recycled. 
     
    What do you think, Lynn?  Or would it be more accurate to say “Do you think, Lynn?” or do you simply criticize ad nauseum?
     
     
     
     
  10. Gene September 17, 2009 / 5:17 pm
    Recycle these houses, Larkin………..?………. explain please.

    Nan is a fan of the van. We all know it.

  11. Molly Darcy September 17, 2009 / 5:36 pm
    Larkin–or should I say David–oh except that you say you live in West Dayton, I don’t think Esrati has been out of South Park. You have the same fact checking skills though—Try$2,000 to tear down a house, not $10,000, and what demolition contract did your favorite contributor Kit Cooper actually get from the City of Dayton? What fact do you use to draw on your opinion that something fishy must be going on?

    You’re again way off base in saying no additional costs are incured to fight vacant house fires–equipment, overtime for police and fire dealing with the situation, investigators, etc… Not to mention that if they weren’t fighting 2, 3 or more vacant house fires a night, Dayton wouldn’t need as many firefighters on duty.

    Get your facts straight David, or I mean Larkin.

  12. Robert Vigh September 17, 2009 / 6:02 pm
    Larkin thinks it is ok to recycle everything at other peoples expense, especially if it benefits him. Typically in an argument he will arrive at a place were he is stumped and declare he is bored of you or just be insulting. I would not expect to much from him.
  13. Civil Servants are People, Too September 17, 2009 / 9:16 pm
    Actually, $10,000 is a more accurate amount if the demolition is being done according to code. $2,000 won’t even pay for asbestos removal in an older home.

    Either way, we need to fight both ends of the spectrum – reduce the supply through demolition AND increase demand with jobs and healthy neighborhoods.

    Much like the health care debate, the devil is always in the details.

  14. tg September 17, 2009 / 11:49 pm
    As someone who has bought some pretty butt ugly vacant and/or bank owned homes and completely renovated them, I can tell you it’s not as easy at it seems. Nor is it cost effective. And even if there were hundres of people like myself, or an unlimited pot of money to “recycle” all of the houses – who is going to live in them? Our population has dwindled. We have 45,000 more homes than we have families to put in them. Yet every week you continue to see ads for new homes to be built out in the burbs. Much of the existing housing stock is so old and blighted there is no amount of money that can make them energy efficient.

    An even bigger problem is that so many houses have been truly abandoned – and that pulls down the property value of every adjacent property. Often an elderly person dies without a will, or leaves the house to a younger relative who has no desire to own it. Some times banks realize it’s worth less than they are owed. They start foreclosure proceedings, evict the family, then decide to just walk away. The family no longer realizes they own it, they think the bank does. The bank doesn’t care what happens so it becomes the neighborhood’s and City’s problem.

    I personally have two REAP applications in with the city – one for a vacant lot, the other for a house that has been empty for nearly 10 years because of the woman dying and the will was never probated. I’m just trying to get ownership so something can be done with them and they’ll stop dragging down the property values of the adjacent properties. Call that immoral if you want, Larkin, but the bigger picture is IF I ever get either property, I’ll lose money on them because I can’t build on the vacant lot and the longer the house sits vacant, the bigger the hole in the roof gets and the greater the damage.

    Sometimes issues are more complex and not nearly as sinister as they look if you never scratch the surface and dig deeper. In some neighborhoods, entire blocks need to come down. Those that still live there should be offered a similar or better home in another neighborhood and help stabilize it. Our City is not dying, but it does need a good deadheading. And when you cut out the dead part, the living part thrives and grows back stronger then ever. Once things turn around, perhaps the blocks that were demolished can be redeveloped with new, modern homes with the amenities buyers’ want.

  15. Larkin September 18, 2009 / 2:13 am
    Blah, blah, blah.
     
    Molly (or whatever your real name is) my name links to my webpage. You can google me and find plenty of links to the various facets of my life. None of that is the case for “Molly Darcy.” Hell, that’s hardly the case for sorority gal Nan Whaley either.  
     
    Bob, great to see that you’re still living up to last week’s summation. Way to go! By the way, it’s Miss Vonalt to you. 
     
    Gene, we’ve gone over what I think should be done with West side neighborhoods ad infinitum. Don’t make me do it again please. Just got home from seeing Lang Lang at Music Hall in Over the Rhine. Glad they didn’t tear it down even if its in a dicey neighborhood, even if that gold and white wedding cake deco is a bit dated. A wonderful evening nonetheless. Better than monkeys typing Shakespeare. 
     
     
     
     
  16. Larkin September 18, 2009 / 2:35 am
    tg, I applaud your efforts. What I am deeply concerned about is the city government engaging in these same practices. I too bought a house (on June St.) that we thought we would rehab and re-sell. Yeah, I hear you laughing. I could not get the county to budge on its appraisal (40 grand) even though we paid 8 K for it. The whole block has issues, and the gentrification in the St. Anne’s Hill area is pretty patchwork. 
     
    I agree that we have too many houses. But I’d like to see a plan for how to deal with this issue in an intelligent fashion, and “land banking” is not it. Look at the wonderful development of green space throughout Boston through the planning of Frederick Law Olmstead… why can’t we do that? 
     
    But when the city government tries to white wash seizure by eminent domain (“land banking”) non-blighted, neighborhoods where people still own and care about the houses they live in– that’s a problem. 
     
    There’s a great little book out, a quick read, about all the fine historic buildings in Dayton that have been replaced by parking lots. Reading it is like listening to a bell toll. This city needs a planning department and zoning regulations that are far-reaching and forward thinking. Until they get that, they’d better sit on their hands. 
     
    JMHO, of course. 
  17. David Esrati September 18, 2009 / 5:17 am

    @most of you.

    There are lots of problems with our current system. Just tearing down properties isn’t the answer- unless it’s done in a programmatic way. Larkin’s example of a home being appraised at $40k when bought for $8K is a prime example of why developers are hosed- and then, of course, once you fix it up- your taxes skyrocket- with no relationship to the other homes on the block.

    I’m still trying to figure out why my 1500 sq ft office building that has no yard, no parking, a conditional use occupancy- is $800 more a year than my 1650 sq ft house, with a 2 car garage, yard, and things like a kitchen and shower- that “cost” more. It’s a discincentive to fix things up- even one that was eligible for demolition before I bought it.

    The handing over of lots to neighbors isn’t working. Ask the preacher I met on Manhattan who can’t buy the lot next door after the demo. He’s even offered $1600. Never mind that the house on the other side of his is now also boarded up. Hello!

    TG has been losing her money in South Park for a while- it’s time we set up a program of swapping “worthlesss” questionable property in good neighborhoods- with “worthless” questionable property in ones we’ve given up on. It won’t be easy to do- but, it’s better than the willy-nilly “Nan-ification” of Dayton by demolition (paid for by her campaign benefactor- Kitt Cooper).

  18. Jeff September 18, 2009 / 8:12 am
    I don’t waste much time on Dayton anymore aside from being a snarky “content provider” here at Esrati.  I spend more time in Louisville these days and will probably be moving back there.
     
    I used to blog on this demoltion/preservation issue from various angles, one being examples of typological-based conservation initiatives in Chicago and Louisville, others on the loss of Dayton’s urban fabric as an issue of  the loss of cultural and architectural patrinomy.   I might as well have been talking to a stove, given the minimal amount of comments, pro or con.  My conclusion is that people here are way too ignorant to “get it”,  and don’t value the patina of place characterstic of the urban cultural landscape. I used to be sort of bitter about that, seeing the city go to ruin, but I’m over that.  It is what it is.
     
     
    So the city is dying and the body is going to have to buried.  The way I see it Nan and the rest of the “demolition crew” (contractors, city officials, neighborhood activists, etc) who support and, whats worse, celebrate the demolition of the city (or rationalize it as useless old junk) are just the gravediggers.  It’s defeatist but it’s also pragmatic.
     
     
    As a parting shot, as we know Dayton has a lot of neighborhoods with the same kind of housing, over an over again.  Chicago has the same thing.  Chicago city government and preservation activists made lemonade out of this lemon via the Chicago Bungalow Initiative.   Something that could be done in Dayton since the city has a similar phenomonon, but instead of bungalows it’s the foursquare housetype.  Chicago has a Bungalow Belt of neighborhoods.  Dayton has a Foursquare Belt (examples being Linden Heights and Walnut Hills).   One can easily see a Dayton Foursquare Initiative modelled after the Chicago example as a way of creating a buzz around this type of housing.  Note that the Chicago thing is more than a PR campaign, but involves a trade show and financial assistance and they are looking at “sustainable” things, too.  Maybe worth a look:
    http://www.chicagobungalow.org/
     
     
  19. David Esrati September 18, 2009 / 8:40 am

    As always Jeff- you are a oracle of knowledge. I’ll look at the Bungalow initiative- and see what we can do here. I believe in fabric, not swiss cheese.

    Thanks again!

  20. Greg Hunter September 18, 2009 / 9:04 am
    I will echo Jeff as it is over for Dayton as the ignorant are being fleeced by the charlatans that are developers who indirectly control the politics of the Dayton Region; much like Wall Street controls DC.   Dayton has always been a great test market to study how the world works.  The decline of Dayton is just a metaphor for the decline of the United States in general.  Greed being disguised as “free market capitalism” is used as the mantra by these people, when the majority of the marketing and funding come from the taxpayer to enrich the few at the expense of the remaining.
    In spite of TG comments that it may be cheaper to tear things down, but what goes unrecognized is the amount of taxpayer funding used to drive the development away from the core.  All these costs are born by the taxpayers that eventually get their neighborhoods hollowed out.  But like Jeff says, Oh well,  I own nothing in Dayton, and with all the housing stock coming on line it is much cheaper to rent than own in an area that is filled with the ignorant fighting each other while the connected fleece the bleating sheep.
    PS A house is only what people are willing to pay, not “what you have in it”  Good Luck with housing over the next few years as the severance/unemployment checks finally run out from GM/NCR.
  21. thoughtful.april September 18, 2009 / 10:30 am
    So I’m a little late, over-whelming work schedule, on reading this post… However I dont see Mr. Esrati where you make mention of anything you said on those subjects. It seemed like you where more apart of the journalistic team than anything…

    So what are your thoughts…?

    (still waiting on the strategic plan :-) )

    April

  22. David Esrati September 18, 2009 / 10:35 am

    @thoughtful-

    I don’t really like writing about myself :-) Was hoping the DDN would write the normal story after. They’ll have stories on all of us soon enough. I presented them with a 4 page draft of my plan. I’ll be releasing it this weekend- sorry for the delay, but I want to make sure it’s not too long- or too short.

  23. tg September 18, 2009 / 12:43 pm
    Trust me, I don’t want to see Dayton’s housing history bulldozed into oblivion. I also don’t think the landbanking situation is as dire as some of you tend to believe. There has to be some legal way to get abandoned properties into the hands of ANYone who is willing to invest in them and make them a (tax) productive property again. I would have bought the one cottage years ago but no one in the family knows who has the legal right to sell it, and their attorney recommended the just stop paying taxes and let the City take it back. We often joke that a lot of dead people own property in South Park. So if not land banking – what other mechanism can we put in place that turns abandoned property over to a wiling renovator faster?

    As for demolition – I agree there has to be strategic and likely very targeted to have the greatest impact. Yet I also know that a vacant blighted property pulls down property values as much as 5-10%. Whereas a nicely landscaped lot next door can INCREASE the property values of the surrounding properties by about the same amount or more.

    One reason people move to the suburbs is to escape the density – they don’t WANT to be on top of their neighbors and they want a nice big yard. So if the lot links program or others encourages people to take ownership of an adjacent vacant lot and grow the size of their own lot, it could ultimately make urban neighborhoods more attractive to a larger market.

    Or, as most everything in the economy boils down to – if we could create jobs and attract people back to the region, then we’d have the demand to match the supply. Right now these 45,000 vacant properties are depressing home values, which reduces the tax base. Something has to give.

  24. David Esrati September 18, 2009 / 12:49 pm

    @TG- I don’t disagree with anything you say- except that some people do like to live in high density neighborhoods. Some people don’t like having to maintain yards- etc. Need an example- NYC.

    We’re not trying to compete with mcmansion-ville. Those people don’t want to live in our existing neighborhoods- and until we fix our issues- we can’t hope to attract new style homes and tenants.

    I’d still take my 100 year old home for craftsmanship over anything you can buy at 3x the price.

  25. Robert Vigh September 18, 2009 / 12:57 pm
    This thread looks alot like: A sign of the times? Tear down or build back up?
    http://esrati.com/?paged=2

    1) Find a better way to tie property tax to the market value of property, maybe even setting a floor. As in: If you cannot sell a property for at least 10k, then remove any tax obligation from it. Because property is really only worth a) what it can produce or b) what someone will pay for it.

    2) Have the city stop buying properties and auction the ones they have. This stops the false signal of demand and could help the price sink to a level of market interest. . . . . (let the auction start at $1.00)

    Most other ideas involve the government spending the taxpayer dollar. Which, since someone will typically be the recipient of that dollar and profit from it we are actively participating in mercantilism. Pursue capitalism and let the free market determine values and Dayton will get some much needed restoration. The mere idea that the city leaders want to “bank” land and pervert capitalism is enough to drive investors away. Build our reputation as a city with freedoms and things will turn around.

  26. Teri Lussier September 18, 2009 / 3:54 pm
    The demolition of Dayton is a great argument for changing zoning. We don’t need more housing. We need to allow other uses for the land. When the only options we have for property use is housing or vacant lot/garden/yard, that’s extraordinarily limiting, not only for the government to come up solutions, but for people to use land to its highest and best use.
     
    Opening up usage to allow something like a neighborhood resource, an urban farm, a small organic green waste composting site, run either by the property owner, the neighborhood assoc, or by a private company could reduce neighborhood dependence on the city for trash service, or provide food for the neighborhood, we would be going green, locavore-centric. Useful and cool at the same time- how often does that happen? If you allowed an alternative energy solution on a vacant lot or two, you might could provide energy for neighboring homes, again reducing dependency…  Just a few examples that are working elsewhere, and Dayton is so prime for this, all we have to do is release land from the government clutches. It’s a simple, effective, useful, productive solution, if the city is brave enough.
     
    Or, we can keep banging our heads. Although I’ve never found that to be productive…
     
     
  27. tg September 18, 2009 / 4:17 pm
    Teri – There is a group of employees from a variety of departments within the City of Dayton who has been studying vacant reuse options and the best practices of other cities. One example is Philadelphia Green. Cleveland has 150 community gardens like you’ve described.

    They are looking at internal policies that prevent it from flourishing and are trying to change things from within. It’s a good start. However, I’m sure it would help tremendously if more people conveyed their desires to the City Commission so they know there is a public demand for it and can push it up the list of priorities.

    If anyone is interested, check out http://www.growingpower.org for an example of how urban farming can positively impact an urban community.

  28. Teri Lussier September 18, 2009 / 4:39 pm
    tg-
     
    I’m not arguing here, too much.  ;-)
    That’s close, except honestly, the City needs to stay the hell out of it. They just need to allow people to do what needs to be done and stay out of the way. I can’t say that too often or too strongly. And land trusts- GrowingPower- make it difficult to change useage in the future, as needs change.
     
    Let property owners decide what they want to do with their land. It’s so simple.
     
    >However, I’m sure it would help tremendously if more people conveyed their desires to the City Commission
     
    Gosh. I was hoping I just did… ;-D
  29. Civil Servants Are People, Too September 20, 2009 / 12:59 am
    To Larkin-
    Landbanking is NOT the same as eminent domain.    Eminent domain is the forced sale of a property in which the owner has full legal rights to the property but does not wish to sell.
    Landbanking means foreclosing on abandoned tax-delinquent property in order to return that property for productive use in the future.    If the owner cares about the property, all he/she has to do is pay the taxes owed.
  30. Brilliant September 21, 2009 / 9:37 am
    David have you released your plan? I couldnt find it on the website.

    ” I presented them with a 4 page draft of my plan. I’ll be releasing it this weekend- sorry for the delay, but I want to make sure it’s not too long- or too short.”

  31. David Esrati September 21, 2009 / 9:48 am

    Hi Brilliant- thanks for the reminder. I was waiting for a reviewer to get back to me. However, I guess it’s too much for you to read all the content on this site to understand my positions- so, we’ll hurry it up and bring out the four page cliff notes for those who need them.

  32. Jeff September 21, 2009 / 12:52 pm
    @TG- I don’t disagree with anything you say- except that some people do like to live in high density neighborhoods. Some people don’t like having to maintain yards- etc. Need an example- NYC.
     
     
    Chicago, too.  But one doesn’t have to travel that far.  Cincinnati is a great alternative for people who want an urban envirnonment but prefer to stay in Ohio.   The city is dense enough to stand in for New York or other east coast cities for the occasional Hollywood movie

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