Sale on Amazon prime this weekend

Amazon prime sale: $73 for the year starting at 6pm Friday- till Sunday until Midnight.

For those of you who shop at Amazon and don’t have a prime membership, here’s a chance to save some cash. Prime gets you free shipping on almost everything you could want from Amazon- which can save a lot if you order a lot, but, it also gives you access to their prime video- which has complete seasons of classic TV shows, movies, and even some original content. Compare the cost to Netflix- and it’s cheaper.

This offer is celebrating their recent Golden Globes win for their original- “Mozart in the Jungle”- which I’ve not watched.

But- I thought I’d make sure my readers would know.

 

The Petty Party of Montgomery County

At 7:00 p.m. tomorrow, January 13, the executive committee of the Montgomery County Democratic Party will meet to decide the fate of one of their long-time leaders.

Normally, yours truly wouldn’t be invited to this kind of meeting, but they don’t have a choice. I was duly elected precinct captain, and when the 5 precinct captains of the first ward met, 2 others who have been wronged by the party over time, graciously opted to vote for me, providing a 3-2 selection as the Ward leader and automatic inclusion on the Central Committee. Note- this doesn’t get me on the screening committee- which is only for those who either have sworn a blood oath, or been elected and are in control of patronage jobs which are handed out like candy to people they then use to fill in the open precinct seats- to make sure they control who runs for office.

The two who fell from grace- former county auditor, judge and mayoral candidate, A.J. Wagner, and current school board member Joe Lacey- who tried to run for state rep and wasn’t endorsed. The two who voted against me- Russ Joseph, brother of Dayton City Commissioner Matt Joseph and heir apparent to party chair, and current Dayton Clerk of Courts, Mark Owens, and Judge Daniel Geheres’ son.

Tomorrow night, the secret society is meeting in private to decide if they should put former Dayton Mayor, daughter of the all powerful C.J. McLin, State Senator Rhine McLin back on the Board of Elections- or should they find someone else to have the cushy job that pays $20K a year for two short meetings each month.

The Dems are mad at Rhine because she broke ranks and supported Wagner for mayor instead of her royal highness, Queen Nan.

Rhine sent all the central committee members a “Fellow Democrat” letter in December- asking for their support and stating her case.

For those of you who don’t know about the Board of [S]Elections – it’s an organization that is totally controlled by the two major parties- to run your elections. This is why third party candidates, independent candidates, and anyone who doesn’t kiss the party’s ass, runs a high risk of not making it to the ballot. Plus, it controls a bunch of patronage jobs- and grossly overpays the staff- especially the directors, one from each party. It gets a little confusing because the actual board is 2 Dems, 2 Republicans- yes- a virtual deadlock on every issue- that gets to hand over the deciding vote to Secretary of State Jon Husted, a Republican. The members of this board aren’t elected by the people, nor do they have oversight by the people- just Husted. That’s the way we like it in Ohio- ethics be damned.

Rhine has been in the seat for 2 years of a 3-year term- thanks to a deadlocked vote during the last presidential election, where Husted managed to get the 2 Dems, Dennis Lieberman (spouse of County Commissioner Debbie Lieberman and former party chair) and Tom Ritchie Sr.- regional director of AFSCME (a big public service union) kicked out of their jobs when they stood up to Husted on early voting hours.

The party picked Rhine and John Doll. Doll is a check-collecting, empty suit. McLin on the other hand threw herself into the job and is the only member who bothered to become a certified elections/registration administrator.

McLin is also a party legend. She’s currently vice chair of the Ohio Democratic Party (which isn’t quite as petty), vice-chair of the Mid-West Caucus of the Democratic National Committee, vice chair of the Mid-West Executive Committee of the Association of State Democratic Chairs, and the Mid-West Representative for the Black Caucus of the Democratic National Committee.

She also notes- “I have consistently donated to the Party.”

Face it- it’s pay to play on top of requiring a blood oath and major butt kissing.

Frankly, none of these people deserve to have anything to do with elections. Their idea of running people for office includes interviews that start out with the question “If we endorse someone else, will you drop out and work to get them elected” before petitions are even turned in.

I’ve run in 6 different counties- and no other county Democratic party endorses in primaries- that’s what the primary is for- for the voters of the party to decide whom they want to run for office- not 40 hand-selected members of the “Monarchy of Montgomery Party” to decide for them. They are patently undemocratic- and Rhine herself has benefited from this winnowing process for years. She’s as guilty as the rest of them- the only difference is while she was happy when Nan was her lap dog- when she was mayor- the moment Rhine lost to Gary Leitzel, she lost value to Nan, who along with Mark Owens and Karl Keith had taken over the party- kicking Lieberman to the curb. Now, Nan is a rabid dog, going after Rhine- her former mentor, out of spite- for Rhine recognizing that A.J. was the better man for the job than our monomaniacal mayoress. There are still deep divisions in the party- but, most are afraid to speak- for fear of losing their plum patronage job that either they- or their family members have thanks to their party loyalty.

This is the dirty secret of the Dayton Montgomery County Democratic Party. But, now you know.

And I’ll try to fill you in on what happens, despite me not really wanting to have anything to do with this disgustingly undemocratic process. In 2018, the party will once again elect new precinct captains- that’s when we may be able to organize, and re-populate the central committee with people who believe in democratic principles- instead of the self-anointed royal family we have now.

5 of 6 structures in Dayton are occupied

Photo by David Esrati of the demolition of the OOF hall in St. Annes Hill

We tear our city down literally- too well.

The Dayton Daily news headline is “1 in 6 structures in Dayton are vacant” and it sounds horrible.

Of course it does- because the Dayton Daily news thinks bashing Dayton is good for selling papers (not that they are doing a good job of that- you can now giveaway 4 subscriptions with your one subscription for free….).

The real story is in where the vacancies are- and how much money the city is pouring into the hands of demolition contractors, instead of doing things to strengthen the city.

Here are some excerpts from the DDn hack story:

About one in six structures in Dayton are vacant even though the city has spent millions of dollars knocking down eyesores and some areas show strong signs of blight reversal.

Urban decay continues to plague area neighborhoods, including a handful in which more than one-third of structures are empty or abandoned, according to the results of a citywide property survey obtained by this newspaper.

Vacant homes and buildings drag down property values, attract criminal activity and provide neighbors with a disincentive to invest in their properties.

But the survey data show that less than 10 percent of structures are vacant in nearly half the city’s neighborhoods, suggesting some stabilization in the housing and commercial real estate markets.

The city and its partners have removed more than 2,200 structures since 2009. The city has spent $18 million or more on demolition.

“We’re not out of the woods, but I think these numbers show things are improving,” said Aaron Sorrell, Dayton’s director of planning and community development.

Earlier this year, Dayton hired the Ohio-based Thriving Communities Institute to survey all parcels in the city to document their conditions and whether or not they are occupied.

Two-person teams spent months canvassing the city to assess, map and photograph every structure and empty lot. The information will be used to create a database to guide Dayton’s demolition strategy and how it invests community development funds.

The survey found the city is home to about 53,574 parcels containing structures. Of those, about 6,601 — or 12 percent of the total — have vacant homes, buildings, garages and other structures.

No one next door

Blight casts a long shadow over day-to-day life for some residents of the Santa Clara neighborhood.

Santa Clara was ground zero of Ohio’s foreclosure crisis. Five years ago, government data showed it was one of the 10 most abandoned areas in the country…

More than 35 percent of structures in the Santa Clara neighborhood are vacant. It had the highest proportion of vacant structures out of Dayton’s 66 neighborhoods.Some other parts of the city are nearly as empty. More than one in three structures are vacant in the Southern Dayton View and Roosevelt neighborhoods.

There is no directly comparable data for previous years, because the U.S. Census only measures individual units and not structures.

Still, the 2010 Census found that nearly half of units were empty in the Santa Clara area. About 44 percent of units were uninhabited in Southern Dayton View and 40 percent were unoccupied in Roosevelt, the Census said.

Combined, Santa Clara, Dayton View and Roosevelt have 844 abandoned structures, which tend to attract drug users, prostitutes, metal thieves and fire bugs.

But despite the prevalence of run-down properties, the city’s problem with abandonment seems to be receding as decrepit homes and buildings are reduced to rubble.

In Santa Clara, the city has leveled dozens of structures since the late 2000s, including some of the most abominable eyesores. The city has prioritized removing fire-damaged structures and blight along major corridors as well as in “asset development areas” near schools, employers and institutions.

City officials estimated Dayton had about 8,000 to 9,000 empty structures in 2009.

If those numbers are accurate, Dayton’s supply of abandoned structures has been reduced by as much as 27 percent.

“I think in most neighborhoods, there has been a decrease in the number of vacancies,” Sorrell said.

Notably, in 31 neighborhoods, fewer than one in 10 structures are empty.

And in some areas, residents can count the number of empty structures on two hands.For instance, less than 1 percent of structures are empty in the Forest Ridge / Quail Hollow neighborhood.

In the Eastmont, Gateway, Pheasant Hill, Shroyer Park and Patterson Park neighborhoods, less than 2 percent of structures are vacant.

The problem, however, remains daunting.

On average, it costs the city about $11,000 to demolish and remediate abandoned properties.

Based on that rough estimate, it would still cost the city tens of millions of dollars to dramatically decrease the number of vacant structures.

Source: 1 in 6 structures in Dayton are vacant

Let’s analyze the problem. In some neighborhoods, vacancy is running much higher. This means either no one wants to live there because the housing stock is too far gone, there is too much crime, there are no amenities, or, most importantly- there is no security in investing because no one sees a future where they get their money back. This is business 101.

Other neighborhoods the vacancy rates are much lower- but still too high.

Some neighborhoods aren’t having problems at all- and still have some vacancies.

Instead of fixing the problems that cause people to disinvest, we “invest” in demolition. We’ve spent millions of dollars taking tax generating inventory off the shelf. We get zero return for doing this. At an average cost of $11,000 just to tear a property down, that’s $11,000 that could go toward relocating neighbors into the solid neighborhoods- or to the ones where vacancies are just beginning to be a problem. We could also hire a new policeman for every 6 houses we tear down- to try to stop the “drug users, prostitutes, metal thieves and fire bugs” that these vacant houses supposedly attract.

We have not gone after banks to stop foreclosures- or hold them accountable for the properties that they empty out. We not only lose a citizen, we know that when we kick people out- the houses are getting scrapped and become worthless almost overnight. The cost is huge. Stop evicting people, unless you hold the banks accountable for the condition of the homes.

In order to see investment return, there has to be some kind of real plan in place to make the neighborhood attractive to investors. Why not waive all property taxes for any investor that purchases at least 3 homes in the same under-populated neighborhood- and give them $5000 each toward rehab? Condition of tax waiver- at least one tenant paying income tax per property. This means no more mowing lots, no more blight- and the houses have to meet exterior code. We have no problem waiving taxes for employers- why not do it for small investors?

We had a company in Dayton that hired x-cons to tear down houses and recycle the materials- we put them out of business by not awarding contracts fairly or smartly.

There are parts of Dayton that are doing OK- but, they can’t afford to keep paying to tear down others problems. You don’t build a city up by tearing it down. At some point, you just have to give up on providing services and worrying about neighborhoods that are half-empty and start working on keeping others from joining them.

Wake up people. Your leadership isn’t wearing clothes on this one.

Government of the people, for the people reexamined

It was 2012. I ran for Congress. I made a video about the foreclosure crisis and called on the banks to admit responsibility for the properties they seize and let rot.

I didn’t go to the hardest hit parts of the city- I just went a few blocks from my house and office.

Occupied. Home owner. In progress.

Occupied. Home owner. In progress.

The house where I’m sitting on the porch, with the siding falling out on the side- has had occupants for about a year now. It’s still not painted, but, it’s back to habitable.

The guy who lives in it, is young, a contractor, he specializes in floor sanding and refinishing. He’s doing work around the neighborhood- and he, and his lovely girlfriend have been at a few neighborhood functions.

They like it in South Park.

The house had sold at one time for well over $150K- and been totally rehabbed. He bought it for a fraction of that.

What was red, and unsightly is now an Air B&B and architects office

What was red, and unsightly is now an Air B&B and architects office

The house where the sink, furnace, and wiring is cut- is now an architect’s office and Air B&B. People pay $90 a night to stay there. The owner, lives next door. It’s a total rehab- and completely finished. Cute. Friendly. A neighborhood asset.

Why am I pointing these two out?

Because, the city of Dayton did nothing for this to happen. The neighborhood is what made it happen.

People are still investing in South Park, wanting to live here, wanting to fix things up, because of the community we have created. Our public schools suck just as bad as they do for Westwood, or Residence Park or Dayton View- which has way nicer housing stock.

We all have the same crappy street cleaning, same crappy trash collection, same overburdened police, same poor parks and rec department- but houses that would have been doomed for demolition come back from death’s doorstep here. True, the historic zoning makes it harder to tear things down, but, in South Park things are happening.

We have a church- that houses an arts center. We may have another one on the way- right next door. The neighbors produce free Shakespeare in the park, we have progressive parties in the summer, an active neighborhood association. One idiot organizes social soccer on Sundays. We have a book club, hot toddy parties, the list goes on.

Since I moved here in 1986, we’ve been lucky to add places like Custom Frame Services, Halal International Grocery, Pizza Factory, South Park Tavern, Remember When Antiques, Coco’s, Jimmie’s Ladder 11, Spin City, Ghostlight Coffee and The Next Wave as locally owned, independent businesses. Unfortunately, we lost Graeff Hardware, Poppelmeirs, a shoe repair, a car parts store, a small bakery and a few others.

There are still opportunities here- and interest. Someone is thinking about a wine bar, another about a conference center/reception hall.

And all of it happens, without the help of an “Economic Development director” or the “West Dayton Fund” or ED/GE grants, or tax abatements or any of the other government “tools” that you constantly hear about as the reason for a “renaissance.”

On Monday the City Commission will swear in another pawn in the game, and re-seat a seat warmer. The Mayor will talk about all the things that she has accomplished- and yet, things are still grossly wrong in Dayton.

Property values are still moribund. Population is stagnant. Schools are the worst in the state. Our expectations from government are low. Taxes and fees are increasing. Service is lackluster.

The city has cut funds to neighborhoods considerably. Our police force is at record low staffing. Problems we had 25 years ago are still being dealt with- or pushed to the back burner, while we’ve added the heroin epidemic on top of it all. White-collar jobs are still fleeing downtown for Austin Landing, the Greene, and if it wasn’t for Obamacare driving the growth of CareSource, Dayton would be broke.

The focus always seems to be on buildings. We were told if we fixed the Arcade and built new “class A” office space downtown jobs would return, then we were told if we built new schools, performance would improve, now we’re looking at the Arcade again, we’re buying buildings with no public use for a premium over market value, we’re making holes in the ground on Ludlow street- all in the name of “economic development.”

For 2016, my advice to Dayton: go back to Lincoln and the Gettysburg address. Invest in community, in the power of people. Look at communities and figure out if the density is there to have them come back- or look to consolidate to other neighborhoods. Find ways to improve the quality of life. Stress pride in our community. Talk about what we have that’s working- and celebrate those that make living in the city awesome. Find ways to empower people who homestead. Look at empty houses as opportunities. And most of all, stop accepting mediocrity.

We need to dig in and find our collective integrity, a new respect for our citizens, innovate our way around the hand we’ve been dealt, inspire all to expect more, and bootstrap our way into being a city that is once again known as the cleanest, safest city in America. Invest in people, not in the buildings- and the return will surprise you.

South Park isn’t perfect, but, we’ve managed to buck all trends. It happened because we decided that we wanted something better, and came together to make it happen.

Of the people, for the people.

The cost of stupid

There used to be a time when facts presented without empirical evidence weren’t called facts. Now, we’re inundated with unsubstantiated statements that are shared and talked about – without paying any attention to the source, validity, or even common sense.

It’s a world gone mad.

Or it’s just entropy on steroids.

The arguments against gun control in this country make no sense. People actually believe you are safer if everyone had a gun. Seriously.

People believe that our health care system is the best in the world, yet every other industrialized country with universal health care has better medical outcomes and longer life expectancy.

The costs of a college education have skyrocketed in the last 25 years, while a motivated individual with a computer and an internet connection can self teach almost anything. Pay for college graduates has stagnated or dropped.

We believe our “Democracy” and “Democratic system” to be the model of government- yet, it’s become clearly evident that “pay to play” is the de facto standard- and legislation is bought and sold like a commodity. I remember being taught about the inefficiencies of doing business in countries like Russia when bribes were the norm- as if that never happened here (and I believed that).

America still proudly proclaims itself the “land of the free” when facts say we imprison more of our population than anywhere else. Sure, we don’t run Gulags or Concentration Camps, but, why is it that our prisons are filled with poor minorities. Also, we seem to have a serious problem with killing people without judge or jury in the name of justice. Isn’t that what happens in third world banana republics? Not at Walmart in Beavercreek?

There was a time in history when insanely bright people were respected and consulted. Leaders were chosen for their integrity, intelligence, and track record. Now, it’s more like a popularity contest where your Q-score counts almost as much as your bankroll. Climate change scientists are routinely called heretics by people with zero scientific training.

Speaking of scores, we’ve been going round and round with what testing tool is appropriate to judge student achievement on something we now call the “common core.” There is a different educational strategy coming out daily. Hell, I even have one or two of my own. Yet, when you look at the evidence, one factor determines educational outcomes in the United States more than any other- poverty. Yet, fixing that one would require a shift in wealth distribution- and that just isn’t “the American way.” We continue with the fallacy that poor kids have a chance to make it in the NBA, or become a rapper- when the odds are way better that they get shot, imprisoned or become just another poor family.

When we talk about selecting our next president, we don’t even realize that the system doesn’t provide for a way for a single office holder to really change anything in our system- he needs a whole network of elected helpers to make things happen. So even if we elect Trump or Sanders- neither, will have the votes to make the changes they promise. The system was designed that way. It hasn’t changed, even with all the corrupting influences.

And of course, this post is full of unsubstantiated statements presented as facts- because, well, you know, the academic rigor it would take to find, evaluate and cite would take too long, and I’m intellectually lazy.

But, you know I’m right. Right?

Our future rests in the hands of people who believe that if they saw it on Facebook- it must be true.

The costs of ignorance are high. It affects us in so many different ways. Fundamentally, our democracy relies on an educated and informed electorate, yet we now know that’s been tossed out the window. What else is left?

More and more, George Orwell had it right in both “Animal Farm” and “1984”- and we’ve done nothing to stop it. Both of these books were required reading for me in high school. I wonder if they are still being taught- or only to rich kids?

When we look at the cost of incarceration, of social systems to support our underclass, of the checks and balances like Title IX or Equal Opportunity lending, or quotas and all the systems put in place to shore up a house of cards built on trust in government and our economy and our social structures- there is only one real investment that fixes so much of it- smarter constituents.

Only when we have an enlightened electorate will we see the change that makes sense, that is definable, substantiated, and effective. Fixing our education system has to be our first priority if we ever hope to tackle the rest.

 

 

 

Go see ’The Big Short’ now

There is a good argument against democracy- that people aren’t smart enough to select their leaders.

The fact that Bernie Sanders has an editorial in the N.Y. Times today talking about how to reel in the Fed- while other candidates are talking about the terrorist threat, should be a clear message to the voting public that one of the candidates knows what your greatest danger is- and it’s not a jihadist.

The reason most of us make less, work harder, and had our net worth knocked to the ground was because government failed to stop a threat to the global financial markets- and let a bunch of jerks manufacture play money- and put a lot of it in their pockets. Our answer- to make more play money- and pay off their mess- all the while stealing it from you. I know- you don’t believe me. I’m just a perennial candidate who loses elections and writes a blog.

So- let me make it easy for you. Go see “The Big Short” in the movie houses right now. The book of the same name was written by Michael Lewis who also wrote “Moneyball” and “The Blind Side” -so he must know just a little bit about telling a story. In the movie- they’ll explain the house of cards the Wizards of Wall Street built- and blew up- in a way anyone can understand.

This movie should be required watching for every person in America- so you can start to understand who the real threat to National Security and Global Stability is- and it ain’t an Arab with an assault rifle or even a dirty bomb.

But- after posting the Bernie story on Facebook- one of those overly bright U.S. Voters said the following (I’m leaving his name out to protect the stupid):

It was a horrible idea to start bailing out private industry. Just leave them alone. Don’t regulate them and don’t bail them out. Someone else will take over the market.

“Not regulating them is what caused the problem, genius,” was my response- to which he said-

People choose to get into the stock market and to invest in business and the like. No one forces them into it and no regulations are needed. Buyer beware. The only thing that needs regulated by government is unwanted force upon those who don’t want it. And that mess you talk about made many people rich so it wasn’t a mess to them. Now the folks who had their money forcibly taken from them and given to others as a bailout were horribly screwed. And in addition I don’t trust the government with the ability to regulate very much. They are generally fools just looking for a paycheck.
This is the ignorance of how Wall Street is tied to Main Street. And while the movie doesn’t make the ties clear- it does explain pretty clearly how much of a fantasy the market is- with its imaginary valuations and total disregard for the mechanics of a functional economy.
Here is the part that most don’t get.
Most people do not invest in the stock market- they don’t have the money to spare. They don’t think the market is connected to their well being- but, in fact, this small subset of our economy is tied to everything. You buy insurance- that money is “invested” in the market by the insurance companies- who then “manage risk” and “protect” you from financial ruin in a catastrophe. The movie talks about how buying insurance against the market misbehaving was monetized- and a few people made a boatload of money betting against the people of the United States.
Those very same people, who paid to fix the mess.
But, insurance is only one part of it. The markets also control your credit scores, your interest rates, your credit worthiness- and also those of your employer. Your pension, if you are lucky enough to have one, is also “in the market.” And while the media and discussion focus on the big businesses, who get access to the best rates- no matter what- the majority of us, work for small business- which has the deck stacked against it a million different ways.
As to the government- we used to protect the people from being preyed upon by the FIRE (finance, insurance and real estate companies), in fact, the guaranteeing of home mortgages was a response to the last financial debacle when banking was allowed to self-regulate.
Go watch the movie. You’ll better understand what happened- even as you watch more people get insanely rich off the most rigged casino on the planet.
And here I’m going to defer to a friend, Daniel Greene- who added the following to the conversation- because some people actually do learn from history.
“If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself. A dependence on the people is, no doubt, the primary control on the government; but experience has taught mankind the necessity of auxiliary precautions.”

– James Madison, Federalist Paper #51

Those who advocate getting rid of government regulation are asking to return to an economic Darwinian state of nature where only the strong, super-rich survive, and everyone else gets thrown out on the street.

And, if you need evidence of what getting thrown out on the street looks like- go take a drive through some of Dayton’s neighborhoods- and look at all the vacant homes.
What’s worse- Madison wrote that statement in 1778, and men still aren’t angels.
But, we still believe that our government has been protecting us- despite it being bought and sold like a commodity. Go watch the movie and report back here in comments.

 

How to stimulate the right part of the economy by saving the government money

With all the fuss about the Fed raising interest rates- which is going to go straight to the banks’ bottom line, it’s time to take a look at a commonsense approach to handing some money back to the people at the bottom of the economic ladder- and save the government money at the same time:

A new report shows the cost to produce a penny was 1.7 cents in the 2014 fiscal year. That’s down from 2.4 cents in 2011 but still more than face value.

And that won’t change.

“There are no alternative metal compositions that reduce the manufacturing unit cost of the penny below its face value,” the biennial report to Congress said.

The nickel, too, is dead weight for taxpayers. Production costs stood at 8 cents last year, down from 11 cents. The lower cost per coin is largely a result of rising production and reduced metal costs.

Other coins turn a profit. A dime costs 3.9 cents to make, and a quarter 9 cents. All together, the Mint made $289.1 million on seigniorage–the difference between the value of the coin and the cost to make it–despite a $90.5 million drag from the penny and nickel.

Congress in 2010 told the Mint to examine ways to save money on coin production, a mandate that so far has led to detailed testing of alternative metals and production methods, including the use of a laser to produce coin blanks.

The Mint estimates that switching up the metallic content of coins could save taxpayers $5 million to $57 million a year, though vending, amusement, laundry and other groups with coin-operated machines warn that it could cost them billions to reconfigure machinery and make other adjustments needed to accept altered specie, the Mint said.

Source: Just How Much Does It Cost to Make a Penny?

So, how do we do this? You know that pile of pennies you have, sitting around the house? In kids piggy banks, and on top of the washing machine? Buy them back at more than a penny.

Have a day set where you can bring in 100 pennies and get a dollar bill and a dime back. Making the effective cost of putting a penny back into the Fed’s coffers .0011 cent. You could even spiff people who brought in 1,000 pennies and give them back $11.25 etc.

If the cost to make the nickel is that high and the Mint needs more- simple, buy them back too.

Since the super rich probably won’t waste the time running their spare change to the banks for the buyback- this will put a bunch of extra dollars into the hands of those who’ve been penny pinchers for a good reason. Pay the banks a small premium for handling the cash, but stop the stupidity of minting new coins that cost so much. Economic stimulus made easy.

Dr. Yellen are you listening?

Thoughts?

 

Uncertified candidates for 2016

Update- NOW CERTIFIED

These names are based on filing petitions today. The signatures won’t be verified by the Board of (S)elections until Friday. As many as 30% of the petitions that are filed could fail.

In the Ohio 10 Congressional race we will see Robert Klepinger take another run at Mike Turner. Last time out Klepinger didn’t make much of an effort and got the customary 37% of people who would rather die than push R. Don’t expect him to raise anywhere near the money it takes to unseat an incumbent.

Peggy Lehner will face a primary for Ohio State Senate 6th district- from Barbara Temple (probably the former Dayton Police assistant chief) and then the winner will face Democrat Lu Dale, vice Mayor of Huber Heights.

In the Democratic safe 39th state rep seat, Fred Strahorn is running unopposed.

In the 40th- Republican Mike Henne is facing a primary from Huber Heights Mayor Tom McMasters (who switches parties every other election) and then will face Democratic party stalwart Dave Richards from Huber Heights who will take on the winner.

In the 41st, Republican incumbent Jim “fighter pilot” Butler is facing the unknown James M. Calhoun.

The 42nd has incumbent Republican Niraj Antani facing a rematch with Pat Merris, a West Carrolton councilman.

Up north in the 43rd there will be a Dem primary between Trotwood Councilman Bruce Kettelle and David Sparks to face first-term incumbent Republican Jeff Rezabek. Note, Roland Winburn pulled petitions for this race to run for his old seat – but didn’t turn them in, and his son, Roshawn, pulled for the 40th and didn’t turn them in. Update Kettelle’s petitions failed.

Montgomery County Commissioner Democrat Judy Dodge, faces the winner of Robert H. Matthews Jr. vs. Charlotte McGuire – both running as Republicans.

Deb Lieberman is also facing the winner of a Republican primary with Donald Birdsall and the newly minted Republican Gary D. Leitzell, former mayor of Dayton (turning in 50 signatures beats 2000).

Of course, no one runs against Mat Heck Jr. for County Prosecutor for fear of reprisal.

County Clerk of Courts has Dem Incumbent Greg Brush facing  Republican Tim O’Bryant.

Republican Michael Foley is running again, this time against Dem incumbent Willis E. Blackshear for County Recorder. In 2012 Foley ran against Brush, and O’Bryant ran against Blackshear– so we have a swap. Update- Foley’s petitions failed.

The only other race that’s opposed locally- is C. Ralph Wilcoxson is running as an R vs. Tony Capizzi. This is Ralph’s second run at an incumbent judge- but the first where he didn’t try to go the independent route- instead opting to run as an R and skip the 2,000 signature requirement.

Carolyn Rice, Paul Gruner, Kent Harsbarger, Mary Wiseman, Phil Plummer, Mary Donovan, Michael T. Hall, Michael L. Tucker- all get a free pass at more years in office. Isn’t democracy in Montgomery County grand?

Again, none of these names mean a thing until the unelected, partisan, Board of (S)elections has final say on the quantity and quality of the signatures turned in by these candidates.

 

Stop subsidizing the super rich: alternatives to the Fed rate hike

Today is the day when the mystical magic of economics is played with by people in an echo chamber.

And while the actions of Dr. Janet Yellen and the Fed are being anxiously awaited by the Wall Street Wizards, the pawns of the economy are hoping that the price of gas doesn’t jump up 20 cents.

No matter what economists and financial wizards think- Wall Street is so disconnected from Main Street (and reality for that matter) that the amount of attention paid to their fortunes is as disproportionate as the media coverage between Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders in the presidential race- despite one having substantially more donors, followers and potential votes.

Part of today’s action is boosting the interest paid on deposits big banks hold with the fed. This is supposed to “tighten” money up a wee bit- making lending slow down. This is giving more money to the people who crashed our entire economy- does that sound like rewarding bad behavior to me? Sure does.

So here are some alternatives – some of which could be enacted by Congress- which would do the same thing, and actually impact Main Street more positively than Wall Street:

  • Cap credit card interest rates at 20%. Any interest rates approaching 25% have been proven to be loans that are inescapable. In Ohio we saw toothless laws against payday lenders try to reel in these sharks, while the big banks are back to their old tricks- with bundling and reselling this high yield debt.
  • The 2009 bailout is still sending shock waves through the real estate market. We allowed millions of people to lose their homes, and even when we stepped in to “help” homeowners- the only people who benefited were the banks who all were made whole- even if the valuations were all wonky to begin with. There are still many people who asked for assistance- or even received it- that are still paying interest rates on home loans several points over what a loan is now. Offering 100% tax credits on any interest paid  last year over 5% on homes owned before 2009- would put money back in the hands of the people who have managed to struggle through the storm- while making sure not to hurt the precious bankers bottom line.
  • Enact caps on pay for companies that subsist on the public dollar. There is no reason to keep feeding campaign coffers with federal money. Here’s what I mean: hospital revenues can be divided by federal funded and insurance company funded. With the new mandate that everyone has health insurance- this basically comes down to health care is funded 100% with money from tax dollars. Yet, while the President of the United States makes a mere $400,000 a year- the average hospital CEO makes at least 3 times that. Defense contractors- make even more. Either cap salaries- or have special tax rates approaching 90% on all revenue above $400,000 a year for federally funded work- and, btw, ban them from donating to political campaigns and hiring lobbyists. No need for that circular flow of money to be subsidized.
  • And last but not least- companies that have more than 100 employees that have people on the payroll who are getting public assistance- be it section 8 housing, medicare, food stamps- etc- that money needs to be charged back to the employer. Call this the WalMart rule, call it being fair to families, but there is no reason to continue this subsidy of the rich at the expense of the poor.

Changing the federal funds rate is easy. Making real substantive changes to the real economy outside the Wall Street bubble is hard.

And one last thing- if we really were talking about stabilizing the economy, there should be a 24 hour moratorium on Wall Street trading starting an hour before the announcement. Of course, if we really wanted to start making economic policy that made sense, we’d eliminate flash trading, require stock purchases to be held a reasonable amount of time to be considered a true investment other than a day at a casino… but, that’s really wishful thinking.

Did Dayton road construction kill another business? Denny’s to close tomorrow

Although the management out of Cleveland won’t confirm, it’s pretty clear that Denny’s at 1136 S. Main Street is closing tomorrow.

No more late night hangout downtown after everything closes. Nope. Not allowed. Work a long second shift and want to grab a bite at 2 a.m.? Too bad. Not in Nan’s city.

Now, before you go look at the Google reviews, or Yelp or Trip Advisor and say – “yeah, well, they sucked” – you also have to understand the forces they are up against- mainly- a road that no one wanted to drive down for a year plus. It’s hard to keep good help, when business is choked off. Why it took so long to repave a mile of road is a mystery. The Allies landed on the Normandy beachhead and managed to cross 7 major rivers that had the bridges bombed- in less time on their march to Berlin.

Of course, Denny’s doesn’t matter to the City of Dayton. All that matters is Miami Valley Hospital- where the overpaid leadership contributes healthily to the campaign of Mayor Nan. Or UD, or Miller Valentine. Or GE, or Emerson- or other companies that either don’t pay property taxes, or get huge tax-abatement gifts- in exchange for the promise of higher-paying jobs for people who can’t vote in the city because they live in the ‘burbs for the most part. Denny’s hired Dayton residents. Jobs. Not great ones- but, every job and every business should matter.

There was a lot of second guessing about what the city should have done to keep NCR in Dayton- but, no one will wonder what Dayton should have done to keep Denny’s.

Before the construction of the building on Brown that now houses Hot Head Burritos, Ginger & Spice and Subway, a small developer wanted to put an IHOP in that was going to be a 24-hour establishment- just like Denny’s. The hospital and the “Fairgrounds neighborhood” fought it. Noise complaints. Safety complaints.  Never mind the helicopters at all hours of the night. The developer was being told they’d have to hire an off-duty Dayton cop around the clock. Screw it. He stopped doing business in the city.

The real test will be to see what happens to the empty building. If the hospital buys it- or if someone else has their fingers in it already. It’s registered to BGZ Investments out of Addington, Texas, on the super slow Montgomery County auditor’s site (thanks Tyler Technologies). In the 15 years available on the site- the tax value has climbed from $390,400 to $460,530 despite the building being in pretty sad shape. Since 1999, they’d paid $250,799.40 in property taxes.

Best of luck to the employees in finding new jobs. Some of them had been there for a really long time.