You’re fired

Uncle Sam saying You're FiredTo the Republican senators who refuse to do their job and vote on President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee Merrick B. Garland, you’re fired.

Typically, people who refuse to do the job they are supposed to do- get fired, at least in the private sector. In the public sector- not so much.

Right now, more than ever, we need to take a look at who should be fired for not doing their job- and I’m going to start at the top.

President Obama- you promised hope and change. Yet, the same assholes that destroyed the global economy just before you came into office- haven’t been prosecuted, or even slapped on the wrist. While the income gap continues to grow, you bailed out the banks, insurance companies, and scam artists who had packaged mortgages, lied about them, built a Ponzi scheme, collapsed it- and robbed the American people blind. Need a refresher- go watch “The Wolf of Wall Street” and even better- “The Big Short.” I know Elliot Spitzer liked hookers, but he seemed to be the only guy out there who would have held anyone accountable. Your boy Eric Holder- our former Attorney General- used to be a part of the cartel that came up with MERS and robosigning of documents that were the keys to most American’s largest investment- their home/mortgage/deed- and that mess is still going to drag on for years.

Richard Cordray, who is the head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau should probably be fired as well. Not, because he hasn’t tried to do his job, but because he’s not been effective. Interest rates are still low for rich people and corporations- and almost usurious for those at the bottom. The fact that credit cards can still charge over 20% and be open accounts, while the prime is near zero, says you failed Rich. Go home to Ohio and run for governor.

Speaking of governor- John Kasich, who was elected by the people to be governor of Ohio- and has spent the last year, prancing around the country pretending to be presidential material and actually costing the taxpayers money to keep him safe and secure- while not doing his job- you’re fired too. How many jobs can the common man have where you can get paid by one, while not doing it?

On the local front, it should be obvious to someone that Wright State University should be hit with a blow torch. Start with the president who has to hire lobbyists and consultants with huge paychecks to go talk to the people he works for (hint- they are in Columbus- not on your board of trustees). Zero controls or checks and balances have brought one scandal after another. And here again, getting fired doesn’t mean you lose your job, unlike in the private sector. Provost Sundaram Narayanan got the axe, but because of tenure, is still employed. Go figure.

We’ve seen one departure from the board of trustees, Nina Joshi resigned, without having to take any flak for the questionable benefits her firm, UES, may have received from the H1B visa scam. Other trustees are pretending that they haven’t done anything wrong either- like the president of the board who voted on his own son’s hiring by the university to a questionable specially created position. Seriously, we need to go to Japan and learn about honoring the company ideals- so these cretins would feel shame and do seppuku on themselves. Maybe WSU athletic director Bob Grant, can join them all- since after firing the men’s basketball team coach for lack of “fan engagement”- I bet the Nutter Center would sell out to watch these people line up- and disembowel themselves- since apparently, winning games and graduating your players isn’t enough. BTW- when the successful women’s coach left right after firing of the men’s coach- it probably had more to do with his not wanting to work for a ruthless athletic director.

And while we’re on the subject of firing in higher Ed- you all know my position about Sinclair’s expansion into Warren, Greene, and Preble counties– without taxation. Fire President Steven Johnson and bring in someone who understands who pays for his subsidies.

Moving on, there are oh so many more opportunities to fire people in Dayton. Nan Whaley, Shelley Dickstein and Aaron Sorrell- that hole where the Dayton Daily News building used to be? You’re fired. How about letting the Community Blood center tear down that beautiful block of buildings just south of the Blood Center? Another empty lot, great. I was just in Cincinnati on Friday night- and why is it that the hottest parts of downtown still have all the old buildings? hmmmm….

The Dayton Board of Education sort of fired Superintendent Lori Ward by not renewing her contract, or that of Treasurer Craig Jones. Both are still drawing a paycheck, but no replacements are in sight- and in the meantime, the company that they hired to staff the district with substitute teachers may be breaking the law by not treating long-term subs more like employees- and playing musical chairs with sub spots. The reality is, DPS was short 30 teachers this year, hello? Isn’t that job number one- have a teacher in the classroom?

To all the local taxing jurisdictions of Montgomery County. As a small business owner, can I tell you the idea of trying to track and pay all of your individual income taxes is a ridiculous burden, and that we now have an area, Austin Landing, where depending on how many floors your building has, actually dictates who pays income tax or not. Seriously- all of you- FIRED. We need to come up with a taxation strategy that is fair, universal, and easy to report- like a statewide income tax- that’s redistributed to the locals. One taxing authority, one tax rate. Less paperwork, fewer penalties and let’s get on with business. Oh, yeah- and if you are a little podunk government like Beavercreek township, or Moraine etc. you don’t get any of the money back- because you shouldn’t exist. We need to implement some kind of limits on what qualifies as a jurisdiction worthy of taxpayer support based on a ratio of people to governors. We don’t need to support 26 police chiefs, or 24 Chief Building Inspectors, or 28 city managers. It’s time to do what the big banks have done, the hospitals have done, the insurance companies have done, the grocery stores have done- and consolidate. All you straphangers living off the stupid jurisdictional boundaries created by the Northwest Ordinance of 1785- you’re fired too.

Who would you fire? I’m sure I’m going to make someones list (don’t worry- I’ve been fired before).

The hole on Ludlow Street

Photo by David Esrati of the demolition of the Dayton Daily News building 1923 addition

The day after demolition was allowed to continue

Last week the Dayton Daily news had the sad, sad story of poor Steve Rauch who didn’t get paid for tearing down a perfectly good historic building. No mention of performance bonds- which is the norm for projects like this:

The company that demolished parts of the historic Dayton Daily News building at 45 S. Ludlow St. has sued Student Suites Dayton LLC for allegedly not paying its nearly $800,000 bill.

The civil lawsuit filed Thursday in Montgomery County Common Pleas Court by Steve Rauch Inc. seeks financial damages and a foreclosure on the mechanic’s Lien against Student Suites Dayton (SSD), which originally planned to build a 350-unit, $18 million housing complex that could serve Sinclair Community College students.

Steve Rauch told this newspaper last week that he stopped working on the project when the billing cost for his work hit $869,000 and he still hadn’t been paid.A demolition contract between Student Suites Dayton LLC and Steve R. Rauch Inc. specifies a payment of $1.292 million. Rauch said he stopped working on the project because he hadn’t been paid.

“What a mess that place is down there, isn’t it?” he said. “I’ve liened it — against Student Suites. They haven’t paid me a dime.”

Rauch said he initially held off on filing a lawsuit, hoping to get paid as the project moves forward. “We are not the bad guy that put a bullet in the deal,” he said.

Through an email, Student Suites Dayton declined to comment.The suit alleged Rauch performed all demolition of the former Dayton Daily News and Schwind buildings, and related services. The cost, $775,195, has been due since Jan. 21, 2014, the lawsuit alleges. Interest of 10 percent per annum on the principal has been accruing since then, according to the suit.

Rauch’s attorney, Gregory Page, said the total owed, including interest, is more than $900,000.

“Based on SSD’s ongoing refusal to pay the sums due and owing, Rauch caused multiple affidavits for mechanic’s lien to be recorded against the property,” the suit alleges. “SSD’s actions, including, but not limited to, its failure or refusal to pay the sums due to Rauch, constitute a breach of contract.

”Besides compensatory damages and pre- and post-judgment interest of 10 percent, Rauch seeks attorney fees and costs, and for a judgment ordering the property to be foreclosed and sold. He is also asking that the plaintiff’s liens be paid from the proceeds of the sale.

The city of Dayton, which originally committed $1 million toward the project, increased that to $1.215 million in April 2014. The city’s share went toward demolition and cleanup of the former Schwind Building property.

Aaron Sorrell, Dayton’s director of planning and community development, said at the time that the money was from additional grants, not city general funds.

Complications arose over the Schwind Building, which was demolished in 2013.

A deed restriction imposed by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development limited use of the property to low-income housing, and the Students Suites project did not qualify.

Sorrell also said then that the Student Suites project was delayed because the developer could not obtain financing for it as a result of the deed restriction.

The plan to rejuvenate the area for housing while leaving the original Dayton Daily News “bank” building — which is on the National Register of Historic Places — was announced in April 2013.

Source: Ludlow housing project halted

Considering that Rauch also “mistakenly” tore down a part of the historic part of the Dayton Daily news building that was supposed to stay, the developer could counter-sue, that Rauch damaged the viability of the project. Of course, the fact that Student Suites probably asked him to do it by “accident” won’t come out until the gloves come off in the courtroom.

Normally, in order to do demolition of any sort- there is a required performance bond- so as to make sure the job gets completed. Someone in City Hall should be getting fired over this, but since that someone is either Aaron Sorrell, or Acting City Manager Shelley Dickstein, no one is saying anything. After all, they engineered this cluster-duck.

Of course, I did a FOIA request on who got paid what by the city. I’m not a full time journalist, but lucky for us, the Dayton Daily news hasn’t fired Steve Bennish- their last remaining reporter with a brain, and he’s coming out with a long piece in tomorrow’s paper (available online this morning).

What bothers me, is that his answers from City Hall don’t match the ones I got.

Here is my request- and my follow up- with their answers:

From: David Esrati
Sent: Monday, October 26, 2015, 10:27 a.m.
To: Bankston, Toni
Subject: FOIA request-

Toni,
I talked to Stan Early about this on Sat. morning-
I want to find out the status of:
“The city of Dayton, which originally committed $1 million toward the project, increased that to $1.215 million in April 2014. The city’s share went toward demolition and cleanup of the former Schwind Building property.
Aaron Sorrell, Dayton’s director of planning and community development, said at the time that the money was from additional grants, not city general funds.”

Were the funds released? To whom? Whom were they supposed to go to?

Thank you

Her response:

On Oct 28, 2015, at 12:10, Freeman, Angela wrote:

Mr. Esrati:

Please be advised that the funds came from the Moving Ohio Forward Grant, which was used to demolish vacant and foreclosed properties.  We expended a total of $183,591.37.  The funds went to Student Suites to finish the demolition of the Schwind Building.

Angela Freeman | Executive Secretary | City of Dayton | Office of Public Affairs |

Hmmm, only $183.5K- to Student Suites.

So, they committed 1.2 million- but only release 182.5K something didn’t sound right.

Try again:

From: David Esrati
Sent: Wednesday, October 28, 2015, 1:24 p.m.
To: Freeman, Angela
Cc: Bankston, Toni
Subject: Re: FOIA request-

So the million was never released?

And a response:

From: Freeman, Angela
10/28/15, 2:37 p.m.
To: David Esrati

In total, $938,591 was expended directly to Student Suites, under our development agreement.  Of that, $183,591.37 was an amendment utilizing MOF funds.  The larger, original balance was from the Development fund and was $755,000.00.

Other expenditures from the City were:

$220,000 to CityWide

$25,000 to Schwind Building Restoration Project

Who was the “Schwind Building Restoration Project” that got $25K and what did the taxpayers get back?

Who is asking about what CityWide did with almost a quarter of a million? And why aren’t they liable for the hole in the ground?

Why didn’t the city sue Student Suites- who got $183.5K and left us with a hole in the ground?

You think these questions would be answered in the Dayton Daily news piece coming tomorrow from Steve Bennish? But, no.

The best line in Bennish’s piece:

The city of Dayton, which owned the former Schwind building next door and agreed to have it demolished despite a deed restriction and lien on the property, now admits that was a mistake.

Source: Funding problems, legal woes stall downtown Dayton project | www.mydaytondailynews.com

 Because the city allowed a project to be rushed through, before financing was arranged and a development contract in place- the historic Cox building is now sitting rotting.
From the DDn:

A breakdown of city of Dayton expenditures also shows the city has spent $938,591 on the project. That doesn’t include $420,000 the city spent to pay off liens on the Schwind building, which has been torn down.

More city spending could follow. Dayton Interim City Manager Shelly Dickstein is concerned that another round of winter weather could damage the historic former newspaper building.

“We’ve looked at the cost to fill the hole so it’s not sitting there blighting the community and so that the building could be buttoned up and not exposed,” Dickstein said.

Rauch estimates the cost to finish the demolition would be $500,000 — to remove basement walls and fill in holes.

So now the demolition costs are up to $1.75 million.

The crazy part- this exceeds the cost projections former local developer Bill Rain had estimated to turn the Schwind into housing for students and still comply with the HUD restriction, but the city wouldn’t offer to help at all, finally forcing him out of the deal which he was given hope on by his “friend” Steve Budd at CityWide. Rain was going to use the DDn building as first floor retail and convert the upper floors of the very solid building into parking for the project. The historic Cox building- would have been adapted use as well.

However, local “power brokers” weren’t paid off, and Rain left for Tampa, where he’s done a series of much larger projects, including the conversion and adaptive reuse of a hospital into a long-term care and assisted living facility. (Full disclosure, Rain is a friend, and a client, I visited the hospital project several times and saw first hand what he did. I also witnessed his work on the St. Clair Lofts and Ice Avenue Lofts in Dayton).

The DDn even admits that they were all excited about these out of town hucksters with their no-money down deal:

The stalled state of the project is a stark contrast to the excitement that accompanied the original announcement from Cox Media Group that “a preliminary plan has been agreed upon for the sale and revitalization of the vacant historic Dayton Daily News building and adjacent property.”

“In addition to the sale of the historic Dayton Daily News’ building and property, Cox Media Group Ohio is contributing $1 million to restore and protect the legacy of the historic building,” the April 2013 announcement said.

The Cox people were most excited, but won’t say this- to get out of the property taxes on their empty building (they also demolished Channel 7 asap to avoid paying property taxes) and to not have to pay the Special Improvement District tax that supports the Downtown Dayton Partnership.

Bennish does manage to get this gem into the story:

In the 2013 announcement, CMGO (Cox Media Group Ohio) said it had been working with the city of Dayton, Student Suites and a California-based nonprofit, United Housing and Community Services Corporation, to finalize a plan to build an $18 million multi-purpose complex on the property. Sinclair was not involved, but once the project was completed its students would have access to housing just a short walk from their classes.

United Housing would own the project “once it was leased up,” said Sorrell.

Attempts to reach United Housing were unsuccessful and there was no listing for the non-profit in a statewide telephone directory.

In a bond document on file with the city of Dayton, United Housing was listed as the borrower of the proceeds of the bonds issued by the port authority.

Student Suites, the document said, “gathers a team of architects, local contractors and financial experts to provide a completely finished project.”

Note the part about “bonds issued by the port authority”- yet earlier in the article Jerry Brunswick (withdrawn school board candidate), the current straw man in front of the Port Authority (another organization that screws up public money with little oversight):

Jerry Brunswick, president of the Dayton-Montgomery County Port Authority, said in the early stages of the project the plan was for the authority to issue tax-exempt bonds to finance up to $15 million. The bonds would be sold through an investment banker.

“I never heard that the (bankers’) investment committee approved it,” Brunswick said. “And we asked. We were told they never approved it. If there was a lien in front of the property, it would certainly impede a positive credit decision.”

He added: “A lien in front of you is not a great way to sell a project. The project still makes sense. We’d like to issue the bonds and we have a new program that can be a part of this.”

Uh, if it had a lien on it then, and now it has a lawsuit and an unfinished hole, I’d say this deal is dead.

Bennish briefly covered the buildings’ history- but, that back story is full of the institutional knowledge that is needed to really understand how we got to where we were today.

With the long-shuttered Arcade across the street, the Student Suites project was seen as a ray of hope for that part of downtown and possibly a catalyst for future development. Then came a snag.

A major legal hurdle involved the deed restriction and lien on the Schwind building, which was imploded as part of the development plan. HUD had imposed the restriction after funding a previous owner’s plan to put low-income housing there.

Records show the Schwind had a rough history. The city originally acquired the building from HUD in 2003 after the owner defaulted on a HUD-insured mortgage. The city transferred the building to Rain & Associates in July 2004, but the building then went into foreclosure and was sold in 2007 through a foreclosure sale to the Schwind Building Restoration Project. The city re-acquired the building in August 2013 as part of the Student Suites project.

The “snag” was fully known and ignored by the city and by Student Suites. This is what we normal working stiffs call incompetence. That Dickstein failed the Wayne Avenue Kroger – with no contract with a tenant before expending over $4 million to aggregate a 12 acre parcel, using multiple rounds of real estate options, blighting the neighborhood wholesale, and spending enormous sums on appraisals, and negotiations should have been the end of her and Sorrell.

Bennish didn’t talk to Rain. The Schwind Building Restoration Project was when Bob Schiffler took over the project. Schiffler had successfully and beautifully done the old Chemineer building at the corner of Fourth and Main- but, soon after they transferred the property to him- PNC took over our beloved local lender, National City Bank- and called his notes- forcing him to sell his beautiful mansion on Oakwood avenue and regroup. The Schwind was ancillary damage.

The education of Aaron Sorrell and Shelley Dickstein at taxpayer expense is getting expensive. Bennish gets this beautiful piece in:

Sorrell acknowledges that the lien and deed restriction were raised by Student Suites as a hurdle to financing, but he said the developer redesigned the project to make the Schwind site part of a second phase that would kick in when the lien was removed.

“We’ll take responsibility for the HUD lien,” Sorrell said. “But the developer has struggled to find financing.”

Dickstein too acknowledged that the city made mistakes. “Looking in the rear view mirror, the project moved forward without financing in place,” she said. “In hindsight, we would change things.”

Maybe the reason the developer has trouble finding financing is because it’s really hard to do much in Dayton or even Montgomery County, due to it having the second highest tax burden in the state? Add to that, the additional tax to support the Downtown Dayton Partnership which gets away with no blame on this mess. Lenders aren’t bullish on doing any renovations in Dayton- or the use of Historic Tax credits to finance them- not a single one has worked since the Cannery- and that went into foreclosure as well- despite a very high rental occupancy rate. (Rain was one of the initial developers in that project- but left early when it was pretty clear that his partners, Beth Duke and Dave Williams had a different vision. Williams, by the way, after flopping a big project in Clayton, got hired by CityWide).

Before he died, Alan Rinzler once told me that he owned the only building in the central business district (the Talbot Tower) that hadn’t been foreclosed on). This is how damaged the Downtown real estate market is.

Considering the city has been going to town issuing tickets to home owners in South Park for peeling paint (I completed painting 3 of my houses this summer)  it’s crazy that this boondoggle hasn’t brought the wrath of Nan onto someone (I’m pretty sure my neighbors are paying for my sins).

A contract between Student Suites and the city required Student Suites to provide the city “with a fully executed copy of a payment and performance bond issued by a surety authorized to do business in Ohio and acceptable to the city … which bond will guarantee completion of the developer’s obligations under this agreement and payment in full of all contractors, material suppliers and others who contribute to the design and construction of the project.”

Student Suites has not provided proof of the performance bond, Sorrell said, although it did pay to insure the demolition activities.

The city’s Housing Inspection Division last year issued a violation to Students Suites ordering the LLC to remove trash and debris from the area. The city says there was no response to the order, which was sent by registered mail to Student Suites’ Independence, Mo., offices.

Whoa, wait- the demolition permit was issued before the proof of performance bond was filed on a project this big? And Sorrell still has a job?

The final chilling end to Bennish’s piece, suggest more of our tax dollars will go to prop up this clusterduck:

Dayton officials are now working to see how they can at least secure the building from the weather before winter arrives.

“We are very concerned about getting it done in the next month or so,” Dickstein said. “With the freeze and rain there is exposure on the historic building. It’s an important project and we want to see it be successful.”

If no one comes to the table, Dickstein said, “We will explore our abilities to move forward with enforcement action on the historic building and move forward to preserve the building and remove the blight and fill in the hole in the ground.”

A good start would be firing Sorrell and Dickstein, and then liquidating CityWide Development to pay for the fixes, and then dismantle the Downtown Dayton Partnership and start returning the tax to the property owners. Those who want the common area maintenance performed by the “Ambassadors” (minimum wage workers in green shirts hired by an out-of-state firm)  can band together to hire their own street sweepers.

Then, maybe, we can learn to leave the development to the private sector and concentrate on providing basic city services like plowing snow and collecting leaves, and hanging basketball nets on city courts.

Dayton makes another mess of “economic development”

Eric Segalewitz isn’t a bad guy. In fact, he’s a good guy, who invested a lot of his money, time and labor buying almost the entire block of houses across from the former DMHA shithole Cliburn Manor. He did this without any assistance from the city, CityWide or anyone else. Most people thought he was crazy- why would you want to invest or live across from a drug infested, crime den public housing project?

He did it- because he had the foresight to know that eventually Miami Valley Hospital and UD would surgically remove the neighborhood cancer- and then his real estate would be valuable.

He’s not the only one who had some vision of profiting from their grand plans. Jimmy Brandeis of Jimmie’s Ladder 11 held out for his sweetheart deal to move Jimmie’s Cornerstone across the street, with a parking lot, a huge patio, and double the space.

Fred Allen, a local slumlord, sold two of his shit-hole houses for $150K each, way above market value.

There are still a few holdouts- the antique store at Oak and Warren, which was at one time owned by South Park Social Capital won’t sell out. Neither will the Krafts who own the last two remaining homes on Warren’s West side.

Some people think Segalewitz is trying to fleece the city for their incompetence. But, if we look at the cast of characters revealed in today’s Dayton Daily news article- it’s the same incompetent crew that’s driven the cart off the road before with impunity:

Aaron Sorrell, Dayton’s director of planning and community development, admitted the city erred but questioned Segalewitz’s legal right to the land.

He said the city has no plan to fork over a big payout for administrative oversight.

“We’re not going to unduly enrich somebody for a mistake,” he said.Segalewitz, 50, who owns the company Upscale Realty, a few years ago applied to purchase a vacant lot next to his home at 32 Alberta St.

Segalewitz applied for the land through Dayton’s Lot Links program, which allows people to buy abandoned, tax-delinquent properties for a relatively small fee.

Segalewitz’s request was approved, and he paid about $650 for the property, which was transferred in March 2012.

The lot belonged to the city of Dayton, which had purchased it from Greater Dayton Premier Management in December 2011, as part of a larger land deal.

The city acquired the side lot and 5 acres across Alberta Street for about $340,000, or its appraised value, city officials said. The two parcels were part of the same deed.

The five acres was the former site of the Cliburn Manor housing projects, which were demolished in 2008. The city wanted the land to support redevelopment efforts near South Park and Miami Valley Hospital.

But when the deed was written to transfer the vacant lot to Upscale Realty, it also unintentionally contained the Cliburn real estate, Sorrell said.“We made a mistake with the deed and inadvertently put both pieces of property on the deed, and not just the one he wanted,” Sorrell said.

The quit claim deed was signed on Feb. 27, 2012, by Assistant City Manager Shelley Dickstein and Assistant City Attorney Jonathan Croft.

Segalewitz said he only learned he owned the deed to the Cliburn property about six weeks ago while preparing to sell his Alberta Street home and the adjoining lot.

Source: City redevelopment tract mistakenly sold

Sorrell was the one who also said “Oops” when Rauch Demolition mistakenly tore down the back part of the historic Cox building at Fourth and Ludlow. He’s also the one who signed off on tearing down the Schwind building for the “Student Suites” deal which isn’t happening due to a deed restriction that was well known.

Shelly Dickstein was the braintrust in charge of the development deal for the Wayne Avenue Kroger where the city jumped through hoops for over 4 years- with no contract in place, which was well documented on this site. The city had no problem paying over $800K for the burned out Ecki building and then demolishing it to make an empty lot, despite the building being an eyesore and owing taxes.

The real question is why does the city insist on buying real estate at all? Why did they spend over $100,000 long ago to buy the lot now known as Garden Station? Why did they buy the building behind it (which I did a FOIA request on – and got no answer). Why did they buy the old Supply One building and 601 E. Third for $450K each?

And the “We’re not going to unduly enrich somebody for a mistake,” line sure is funny. Go back to when a group including the family of the former County Administrator Deb Feldman purchased the Sears building downtown for a mere $200K. When the Riverscape fountain plan was released, the County hadn’t secured the tiny outlot attached to the Sears property. In a battle of testosterone and threats of using eminent domain, the price escalated from the initial offer of $3.2 million to over $8 million for that piece of land. Segalewitz just isn’t related to the right people apparently.

The fact that Segalewitz didn’t get a tax bill for his windfall- is because CityWide and MVH don’t pay taxes- nor does the city. And the city will grant a sweetheart tax break to Oberer/Greater Dayton Construction for building whatever they come up with on the property. Segalewitz is one of the little people- he’s expected to pay taxes unlike the connected few.

It’s time to do a full investigation of city land purchases, real estate investment, and money to CityWide development. A full detailing of the investment in Tech Town and the “Entrepreneurs Center”- and the actual returns might be a good starting point.

While we don’t have money to cut the grass in City parks, but do have the money to buy swath’s of land for our friends is a criminal diversion of tax dollars. Segalewitz is not the bad guy. The bad guys are on our payroll.

 

Time to fire the “community development” manager

Despite being bombed into the ground during WWII, Berlin today looks much like prewar Berlin.
In London, despite being bombed, landmarks all don’t show the marks of war.

In Dayton, someone makes a permitting mistake, a demolition contractor begins to demolish a building that wasn’t supposed to be torn down- and they let the work continue. HORSESHIT. It’s not up to Steve Rauch, a developer, or Aaron Sorrell the “community development” director- who stopped the demolition of the landmark Cox HQ/ Dayton Daily News building on Monday- to continue. The whole concept of landmarks and the public trust- is that they belong to us- the community- not to private parties or even government officials.

We have to value what we had. Here is what the Dayton Business Journal is reporting about the botched demolition:

The project will continue as scheduled, with the 1922 portion of the building coming down Monday, and developer Steve Papa, an owner with Student Suites, reaffirmed to me in an interview Friday his commitment to the project and to cooperation with the city.

“We’ve never left a city without paying everyone, and we’ve never started a project that we didn’t open, and we’re not going to leave Dayton,” Papa said. “The community cooperation has been really refreshing.”

Steve R. Rauch Inc. is the demolition contractor for the project. The company began tearing down the 1922 portion of the historic building on Monday, and was ordered to stop work because the city believed the 1922 portion was to be saved. But Scott Wells, a project manager with Rauch, said the only portion of the building that was ever supposed to be saved was the 1908 portion.

“It’s all been mostly political,” Wells said. “It was supposed to come down from the beginning,” Papa said even though there was a misunderstanding between the city and the developer, the city has been an excellent partner in the project.

Sorrell said the demolition process uncovered a flaw in the city’s permitting process, which sent mixed messages to the contractors. The city’s Landmarks Commission had intended the 1922 facade to be kept in the redevelopment, but that message was never included in the demolition permit, so the developer moved forward with demolition.“We now see where we missed that in our systems,” Sorrell said. “Unfortunately it was this building that uncovered it. We will fix that and move forward.”

via Downtown demolition to continue Monday to make way for student housing – Dayton Business Journal.

When I put up the wrong kind of garage doors in an unmarked historic district, I was forced to change them. And do community service.

Sorrell was the one who negotiated the contract, he’s the one who stopped the criminal activity as it happened, and now, he’s claiming- oh, well, it’s a learning experience. No, double no, and HELL NO. We don’t need clowns like this, who shirk their responsibility- and allow criminal damaging to our landmarks.

It’s bad enough that they allowed the implosion of the Schwind Building before the deed was cleared and the contract signed. That should be grounds for firing as well. There was nothing wrong with the Schwind that the million dollars paid to blow it up – couldn’t have fixed and made the building usable. Of course, the former owners were both local people who didn’t pay off politicians or work to do the work of Sinclair- the community college Montgomery subsidizes to expand into Warren and Greene counties.

If Berlin could be rebuilt, the back of the Cox building can be. If it wasn’t supposed to come down, demolition shouldn’t continue. End of story.

It’s time that we had real accountability in this town- instead of doing whatever the big political donors want.

I’m hoping Preservation Dayton steps in, or Cox Ohio, to file an injunction and stop further demolition until we can firmly assess the costs of restoring the landmark that was Governor Cox’s legacy- all of it.

“Not me” is still not in trouble with Urban League failure

The circling of the wagons is mighty fast in Dayton. The moment one of the protected “League of extraordinary gentle women” looks to be in trouble, it’s quickly swept under the rug. The FBI isn’t allowed to raid homes and make great reputation destroying photos for the front page. The story is quickly killed off.

Before the board resigned as a group- there were questions of financial impropriety- to the tune of almost half a million dollars. As soon as the question was asked “why isn’t the board held accountable”- there were no rules broken- all in the span of 3 days! Now we hear that “not me” is responsible from official channels.

From the Dayton Daily News:

Montgomery County officials do not suspect criminal wrongdoing in the audit of the Dayton Urban League, which closed its doors Dec. 3 after helping local minorities in need for 63 years.

Sloppy paperwork and bad judgment are believed the culprits that led to a city and county investigation into whether the Dayton Urban League misused some of the $454,000 in stimulus funds contracted for a program that helps the needy pay rent.

The Urban League staffer who managed 570 cases for the Homeless Prevention and Rapid Re-housing Program League is believed responsible.

County Administrator Deborah A. Feldman said no criminal wrongdoing is suspected. The city and county received funds for the program from the U.S. Housing and Urban Development.

“This particular case manager was a little too helpful and wasn’t as careful in reviewing the applications as he should have been,” said Aaron Sorrell, Dayton’s manager of housing and neighborhood development….

Its six executive board members and many if not all of its other trustees resigned Thursday.

via No crime detected in probe of Urban League.

Of course, no prosecutors, or other investigators are quoted- just the foxes that are assigned to watch over the hen house. County Administrator Deb Feldman still hasn’t acknowledged her responsibility in the Raleigh Trammell case (where obviously there was criminal wrong doing- because Raleigh isn’t in the League). Investigators still haven’t filed charges in that case, because, either Raleigh is smarter than we give him credit and was better able to hide his paper trail, or the Urban League money trail points directly to the board and Feldman and we just can’t accept that they would ever do anything wrong?

In the meantime, our tax dollars have no problem being illegally given to a private corporation, General Electric, in the name of “economic development.” Welfare fraud is only ok when given to the rich- and a crime when given to the poor.

At some point, voters and the FBI will wake up and realize that crimes are being committed and whitewashed by the local media. Tax dollars aren’t something that can be waved off by saying a “particular case manager was a little too helpful and wasn’t as careful in reviewing the applications as he should have been.” Nope, that’s a crime- by both the case manager and the supervisors in charge.

It’s time for an investigation.