When the city of Dayton is the public nuisance

In fact, this is such a brilliant solution to crime that the city actively uses this with bait electronics left in plain sight to entrap car thieves.

It’s not right. It’s not the right approach. It’s how losers justify the fact that they can’t do their job- they make excuses; “we don’t have the manpower” or “the judges don’t do their job” or “we’re out of space at the jail.” Our city suffers more because we’ve grown to accept mediocre government as the norm.

From crappy basketball courts, to crappy schools, to crappy public safety forces.

Just remember, while Dayton has lost half it’s police force in the last 25 years, UD, MVH, Grandview, Good Sam, Sinclair and Metroparks all have hired their own private police force in numbers to exceed the losses by Dayton. Yes, only rich white people deserve police protection in Dayton.

That includes South Park which gets 2 MVH funded police officers thank you very much.

That doesn’t account for what I’m about to share next.

City of Dayton public nuisance stickerEvery time there is a rash of car break-ins in Dayton, someone says “the cop told me to just leave the car unlocked and let them into your car.”
Last week, the city of Dayton came to South Park and told a mentally ill man to leave his home and not come back for a year.

It wasn’t a rental. He owned it.

Yes, he’d had some calls to the house by the police. Someone OD’d one time- on the porch. But, being a den of inequity and a drug house? By the standard set around the corner– he wasn’t close. Yet, the city, declared the house a “Public Nuisance” and kicked out the residents, made it a crime to be on the property for a year, and walked away.

Did they secure the house? No.

Windows are missing. A piece of cardboard in the door isn’t “securing” anything.

If I did this, I’d be facing charges.

Photo of unsecured vacated nuisance house in Dayton OhioWhat they’ve done instead is sent a message on a bright orange sticker to scrappers to “please scrap here”- remove all the remaining copper wires, copper plumbing, appliances, mechanical systems – anything of value.

Since the owner is banned from being on the property- he can’t do it.

Gee, this is how to protect our neighborhood values?

I’ve said before that you should be happy if you get burglarized – the most dangerous crime to your property is when a bank comes and forecloses on the home next door. No matter what it was worth the day the Sheriff kicks the tenants out- it will be a lot less by the time the bank unloads it- if they can unload it. If the scrappers don’t come first.

It’s been a week since this mess was created by the City of Dayton.

Let’s see if they can board it up properly before the close of business today?

 

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 cheap bastards in Dayton City Hall

When I first got involved in my second career as an unpaid citizen of Dayton, I found our city to be overly bureaucratic. We had our neighborhood organization, that got things done- and then we had the mysterious “Priority Boards” which were a huge bureaucratic buffer zone between the neighborhood and the City Commission. They had offices, staffed with several full-time employees, who made pretty decent money. More money than the city commissioners who were part-time, and supposedly the brain trust that was steering our city to prosperity.

When I, or anyone else would go to the City Commission with a complaint, they’d say “have you been to your priority board about this?” As if it was a crime to actually talk to and expect action from those we elect.

The city patted itself on the back often for being such a model of “citizen participation”- when in fact, it was just another place to hire people into patronage jobs. It really didn’t require any skill to work for the priority boards- it was all about who you knew.

So, each neighborhood had to have its own organization- a neighborhood association, which ideally was a non-profit (a 501 c-3 by the tax code), and had to hold elections to have at minimum a leader, a treasurer and a recording secretary, and then, depending on the size of your neighborhood elected representatives to your priority board seats- which could be anywhere from 1 to 4 in our case. The problem was that the neighborhoods, planning districts and precincts didn’t follow any of the same boundaries- making for coordinating the many heads more like a Hydra than a true democratic process.

At one point, to make sure the neighborhoods had a say- additional seats were created per organization, be it a full fledged neighborhood association or even a block club. Throw out proportional representation- just try to fill the rooms- to keep the patronage pogues looking busy.

The system was expensive- with offices in the seven “districts” of the city. Southeast held about 40% of the population- and always seemed to have the most “representation.” The downtown priority board was an afterthought- and didn’t even have a full-time staffer. The historic districts were split between all the priority boards- when in fact- they, along with downtown, were the ones who were most alike- and could have had a really strong voice if they hadn’t been segregated.

While the city was still flush with cash- thanks to corporate headquarters like Reynolds & Reynolds, Mead, Standard Register, NCR- it was easy to blow money on the priority board patronage jobs- which could be counted on around election time to help the Democratic Party have an Army to make sure their chosen candidates got elected. All was good and fine…

Until, well, the system broke and a Republican managed to get elected Mayor. Mike Turner, managed to tick off Reynolds & Reynolds CEO David Holmes- getting Holmes to put a ton of money behind Tony Capizzi to challenge Turner- and when Turner won again- Holmes took his company to Kettering.

There were other things at play, some pre-Turner, with Tom Danis buying off Police Chief Tyree Broomfield to step down, games played with an “Architectural review committee” slowing down the city-funded Arcade tower project- so Danis could get his Cit/Fed tower built first- and who knows what the Beerman family was doing to keep their real estate deals going- where they were making a fortune off the construction of 675, and CJ McLin and his daughter Rhine were doing the same with the 35 West deal.

The priority board system was a way to make the poor citizens of Dayton think they mattered, when in fact, they were just there to keep the party in power so that the friends and family of the Monarchy of Montgomery County could continue to kiss the wealthy asses of those who really were supporting our city.

I’d advocated for getting rid of the priority boards from day one- to have neighborhood presidents meet directly with the city manager 4 times a year. Note- the city manager- not the mayor or the commission, they aren’t supposed to be the ones running our city, but we’ve long forgotten that.

So, in today’s paper, we find out that what’s left of the vaulted citizen participation system is about $96K a year thrown out to the paupers to play pretend with- compared to a budget that used to run close to $8 million a year:

The city provided about $13,000 for 27 neighborhood festivals this year.

The city also awarded $83,046 in mini-grants to 20 neighborhood projects this year, three times the amount in 2014.

Source: Dayton pushes policy reforms

I always found it odd, that 25 years ago- our neighborhood thought it was a privilege to get to ride around on the back of a trash truck once a month on a Saturday morning to pick up the garbage that our overpaid trash collectors skipped.

People in other communities would wonder why would you pay your taxes to spend your Saturdays doing “community service” without a court order.

This is the travesty of Dayton. While the people who are still here fighting to make their community a nice place to live, and paying the 2nd highest income tax in the county, the cheap bastards in city hall are bragging about “awarding back less than $100,000 a year” to help those who volunteer- while giving multi-million-dollar tax breaks to General Electric, while raising trash and street light fees, and still having no problem buying buildings for half a million each- for which there is no public use.

Yeah. “Cheap bastards” is actually a nice name, for people who are really taking a crap on the people they represent. And, one other thing, you shouldn’t have to work so hard to have a great, safe, clean neighborhood. You should be able to spend your time living your life.

Dreams of selling pot brownies out of City Hall’s building

The City of Dayton is the worst real estate speculator in the region. They also aren’t very honest about what “they” own (I say “they” because it’s the taxpayers that foot the bill). Recently there was an article about a building at 15 McDonough St. behind Garden Station that they owned and leased part of to Gosiger. I did a FOIA request on when the city purchased the building, for how much- and to see the copy of the lease with Gosiger and got nothing back. They are selling the building for “$10 to Bacon Street Properties LLC, which lists Gosiger’s headquarters at 108 McDonough St. as its mailing address” yet- somehow, “City Properties Group… (also) is involved in the project.” They are the ones from Louisville that have the old Supply One building next to Garden Station.

A long time ago, a local developer managed to get a printout on greenbar computer paper of the entire listing of city owned properties. With one property per line, the folded stack was several inches high. There was, and is, something fishy about that. But, on to other issues.

You may remember when a local entrepreneur tried to lease the old Chin’s, Elbo’s, Sa Bai from the city to have a Food truck kitchen, teaching facility, rental hall. Tonia Fish was paying rent, and then the city decided to kick her group of small businesses to the curb- which was part of a prior article on Esrati.com:

The Great Thanksgiving Day Food Truck Massacre

It started on Tuesday, when Tonia Fish told me that her temporary lease on the old Chin’s/Elbo’s/Sa-Bai space at 200 S. Jefferson St. may not be renewed. A meeting of some sort had been held in City Hall and the decision was coming. Mayor Leitzell had told me that in the executive session last week, where this matter was being discussed, Nan Whaley wasn’t prepared to vote on it and it was tabled. Had they had another illegal meeting of the commission to discuss this lease? There wasn’t an announced session- and since Executive sessions have to be done either as an emergency and announced- or gone into from a regularly scheduled meeting- what had happened?

via Explaining irrational behavior in Dayton, Ohio – Esrati.

The building sat vacant for over a year. Zero rent. Of course, no one in City Hall is going after Sa-bai for breaking their lease, or back rent.

Instead, we’re giving the space away, again:

Bethany and Aaron Horn, who own Cheeky Meat Pies, have agreed to a five-year lease with the city of Dayton for 200 S. Jefferson St.

The building will feature a breakfast and lunch establishment called Cheeky Cafe and Bakery, as well as a casual dining joint called Weeds Diner, likely featuring “farm fresh” food and alcohol, including craft beers.

“The cafe side will be more comfort food, and the Weeds side will be more seasonal based,” Bethany Horn said about the 5,786-square-foot South Jefferson Street property, located across from the Dayton Convention Center.

Sai-Bai closed in 2013 after accruing more than $60,000 in unpaid rent and taxes, which resulted in the city starting eviction proceedings….

Horn said the cafe should open around May, and the diner hopefully will open by August….

Under the terms of their contract with the city, Horn Food Enterprises will pay no rent through the end of this year, but will be required to pay $14,518 in rent and parking in 2016 (or $2.25 per square foot).

The Horns will pay $15,965 in rent and parking each year for the remainder of their five-year contract (equal to about $2.50 per square foot). They have a trio of renewal options to extend their lease for an additional five years.

Horn Food Enterprises are not being charged rent for the first nine months because the owners will make considerable improvements and renovations to the space, especially the kitchen, which will become the property of the city of Dayton, city officials said.

“If we wanted to make the space reasonably leasable or rentable, those would be expenses we would have to incur,” said Joe Parlette, Dayton’s director of recreation and youth services.

Parlette said the city in the last two years reviewed probably 15 business plans for the site, but the Horns’ proposal won out partly because they had capital and were ready to move forward.

Parlette said the new agreement means all of the city’s leasable space in that area is occupied. The city also owns property that is rented by ThinkTV, Gilly’s and Drake’s Gym.

“Anytime the city can avoid a vacancy downtown is a win for the city and its neighborhoods,” he said. “It will give citizens another unique option to enjoy downtown.”

via Two restaurants to open in downtown property | www.mydaytondailynews.com.

Why the director of Parks and Rec is doing property management is the first question. The second should be is why was the space no longer usable after SaBai left? Maybe because they took everything they put in, including the washroom sinks and left the city with a mess. No one is being held accountable for that.

And, considering Ms. Fish was in, and paying rent of $850 a month for a space that wasn’t “reasonably leasable” – the taxpayers went without 2 years of potential rent and tax revenue because, well, why?

The last laugh may be on the city, when it turns out the real business plan according to confidential sources is that the “Weeds Diner” is planning on selling marijuana edibles as soon as the laws allow it. That should just go over fantastically with the fine folks of Dayton. We already saw how fast Moraine backpedaled on their land lease to potential pot growers.

What we really have is questionable business practices by a government that can’t figure out how to plow snow, sweep streets, or get a cop to a Family Dollar while an assault is taking place in less than 10 minutes. Why our city is so focused on other people’s business instead of running their own is a major question.

When you realize these people at city hall spent at least $4 million to get a Kroger to Wayne Avenue and failed. They also tore down the Schwind, the Dayton Daily News and part of the historic back- for student housing that’s not coming thanks to a HUD deed restriction that they should have known about. The list goes on. Who in City Hall is qualified to review “15 business plans” and make this decision? The same one who spent $450K on 601 E. Third St?

Maybe it’s time to divest the city of all its real estate holdings that aren’t directly used for providing taxpayer services? Or maybe, it’s time for the rest of us to start eating pot brownies so we can be just as high as the fools we have managing our real estate holdings.

UPDATE

5 April 2015. As if I needed more evidence to prove to you that the city is an incompetent property manager, this was in the morning paper.

DAYTON —Hundreds of thousands of dollars in infrastructure and equipment was removed from a vacant industrial building owned by the city of Dayton.

The security officer at the McCall Building, 2333 McCall St., filed a report Friday night on a breaking and entering, according to the Dayton police report.

Wiring, electrical equipment, copper pipes and generator equipment was listed as missing, an estimated $500,000 loss, according to the report.

The building is listed on cityfeet.com, a website that markets available commercial space.

The 348,000 square-foot building, valued at $1.5 million and available for rent at $58,000 per month, is listed as one of Dayton’s economic development sites.

via Thieves strip $500K in material from city-owned building | www.daytondailynews.com.

Another half million that could have been spent providing government services wasted.

Shamed them into action

As I just got my 5th box of basketball nets from Tuffy Brooks (thanks to Chad Snoke and Geo Pro Consultants) and went out to do some net maintenance on our parks, I finally have a success story to tell.

Arlington Hills Park, July 27 2014. Rotting backboard. Dayton Ohio

Arlington Hills Park, July 27 2014. Rotting backboard.

Last month I stopped by the “Arlington Hills” park – a double court on a field where the old “Gangster Courts” projects were, and I reported a crappy backboard and graffiti on the court with the “Dayton Delivers” mobile application. Here is the photo of the rotting backboard and lame rim:

There was graffiti on the court, someone has been driving donuts on the court, there are no benches for players. In all- a poor excuse for a park and a court.
I’ve never actually seen any kids on this court, in all my visits- and the nets don’t need replacing as often as other courts.

Today, I stopped by after hanging nets at Dunbar HS, DeSoto Bass, Wogamen Elementary School and fixing nets at a few other places as well as hanging a few on rollout rims for the kids playing street ball.

City of Dayton puts up new poles, backboards, rims at Arlington Hills park

Same spot- new pole, backboard rim and net! Times 4!

I almost couldn’t believe my eyes- four brand new backboards, on new poles, with new rims now grace the court at Arlington Hills Park.

It looks like a place where you actually would want to play a game . It made my day. I’ve also witnessed the demolition of the courts at Burkham Park, Princeton Rec Center and have been told Residence park is being rebuilt right now.

They still aren’t using my “preferred rim” – the First Team FT172D which I think is the best rim out there, but, these are the second best style out there.

Ideally- every court would also have benches for guys to rest, while the game is going on, and a working drinking fountain, since most courts are in full sun.

I’ve heard that Mallory Park is up for repair as well, and a few others this year, with more next year, although no one has told me the complete list.

I only hope the three rims we put up at Princeton are going to be recycled and not thrown out.

This is the kind of city I envision- one where our parks are clean and safe. Our schools are great, our neighborhoods strong and our businesses successful. Even though I’ve never won an election (except as precinct captain or neighborhood president) I feel that my efforts to hang the green nets were the catalyst for the city to finally take action and fix our courts.

I’m still sad that we’ve closed our neighborhood pools and replaced them with spray parks, and that we have no youth sports programs to speak of, but, I hope to keep the focus on keeping our kids on the courts instead of in the courts through sports and recreational programming.

Thank you to all the barber shops and beauty salons, and all of you who donated- and extra thanks to those who bought me nets, rims, zip ties and ladders.

All that grassroots effort- has finally begun to pay off. Or, as some would say- shame is a powerful motivator.

Thank you.