Issue 9 campaign finance accounting gets an “F”

When I wrote the post back before the election about where the issue 9 money came from, I was flabbergasted.

Not only by the amount of money they spent and where it came from, but the average donation was higher than most federal campaigns. The average was $1873. Issue 9 raised the City of Dayton income tax to 2.5% and promised millions of dollars to a quasi-public organization with no voter oversight- the “Preschool Promise” and “Learn to Earn” people.

thumbnail of Neigborhoods-for-Daytons-Future-2016On the reporting deadline, “Neighborhoods for Dayton’s Future” they said they had a balance on hand of $94,148.76

I waited for a post campaign report. It never appeared.

I waited for a 2016 annual report- it never appeared.

I wrote Jan Kelly, director of the Montgomery County Board of Elections and asked where it was and got the following response:

David,

Good afternoon.  You raised a question as to whether or not a local PAC (Neighborhoods for Dayton’s Future) has been compliant with reporting requirements under campaign finance law. The PAC filed a 2016 Pre-General report as they were participating in promoting an issue during last falls’ General Election cycle. They did not file a Post-General report. They did file an Annual Report. Our campaign Finance Department has not yet audited all 2016 reports. All 2016 reports are scheduled to be audited over the summer including all PAC’s. If a PAC failed to file a required report, at the conclusion of the those audits, letters will be sent to the Ohio Election Commission listing all PAC’s which are not in compliance. We expect that all audits will be complete by the end of July and letters to the Elections Commission would follow shortly thereafter. I hope explanation this answers your question.

Happy Memorial Day.

Repeated calls to Ms. Kelly went unanswered as to where the annual was. Finally, on Friday, I contacted David Landon who is the R in charge of campaign finance reporting and he got me a copy of the annual. It was 2 pages long.

thumbnail of 2016 Annual Neighborhoods for Dayton’s Future PAC Campaign Finance Report

2016 Annual Neighborhoods for Dayton’s Future PAC Campaign Finance Report (click to download)

It showed only one expense in the period between the pre-election filing and the annual: $1051.33 to Code Credit Union on 12/30/16 for a “Visa PMT” – it never said what the payment was for.

Let’s do basic math- $94,148.76 – $1051.33 = $93,097.43

Which should be the balance on hand, only slight problem. They start out with a balance on hand of $51,969.67, meaning $42,179.09 was unaccounted for.

And you wonder why I didn’t trust the PreSchool Promise/Learn To Earn quasi-governmental school board with our tax dollars?

We need an immediate accounting of where the Political Action Committee money went.

 

Dumb, dumber and Dayton Public Schools

Last week Dayton Public Schools launched their enrollment campaign- done by the Ohlmann Group, the highest bidder. We mentioned it: If this is the best DPS can do.

thumbnail of Ohlmand Group Invoice #1

Radio invoice

thumbnail of Ohlmand Group Invoice #2

Outdoor invoice

They spent $20k in media, but were supplied invoices from The Ohlmann Group- not the invoices from the media outlets. Considering their contract says they are only going to mark their invoices up 10% – DPS has no clue if they were paying 10% over net or gross- because, they don’t have anyone there who knows anything about buying media. The way radio and TV stations bill ad agencies as a middle man, there is the gross amount- and a 15% agency discount. It’s all horseshit these days – since the media outlets long ago hired huge sales teams- and even offer “free” production of ads. That’s why you see the “pan and scan” with a voice over ads- over and over for local businesses.

We asked for the DPS instructions to Ohlmann for this campaign and the invoice for the “creative” but those have not been released.

The real issue is that right after the campaign launched, DPS got hit with a protest over a 4th grader being put in handcuffs. DPS should have consulted their marketing/pr firm for an appropriate response, but, instead, stood mute as people asked questions. Instead of taking the campaign down- they continued with their “Great things are happening” while the public is hearing- we put kids in handcuffs. We’ve yet to see anyone from Ohlmann at a board meeting.

But, what we do see is a circus. At the last review session, where we asked at the beginning if they should be continuing with an ineligible board meeting, Board President Dr. Walker claimed they knew nothing of it (lie). Considering I’d informed responsible parties within the district, by continuing, they violated their own rules.

They discussed, and wasted the first 90 minutes of another one of their epic meetings – the handcuff situation, the “newcomers academy” or “international academy” and what to do with the historic Longfellow, without an iota of research, historical reference or input from their overpaid staff.

The handcuff issue was actually old news. This happened last fall. To have it come up now- just reeks of incompetent messaging management. The proper response is a simple one, instead, they did their best to imitate United Airlines.

On the international school- we’ve been there done that. First was the ESL school, Miami Chapel, and then, when that closed and was torn down, they put 900 kids over at Patterson Kennedy Elementary and it was like the united nations. Of course, institutional knowledge isn’t valued in DPS- most of the people who know this stuff have been shown the door, and the rest- well, they are ignored by the new superintendent and crew- who think they know it all and everyone who works there is expendable except them.

As to Longfellow. This conversation was as confused as could be. Why we need an entire building to house approximately 60 kids is confusing already. But, the boards lack of knowledge about historic structures, real estate development, real estate disposal, and preservation is epic. However, they throw out all kinds of possible “solutions” without any research or supporting documentation. Why they waste the public’s time with their wild ass ideas is incompetence on display. This time, it was costing them at least several hundred dollars an hour, as their attorney from Subashi & Wildermuth, Tabitha Justice (that’s really her name- a lawyer named Justice) had arrived to be part of the following executive session and sat through the clown show while her meter was running. Not a single mention of how the board disposed of the old Hawthorne School, or any discussion of Historic Tax credits. Of course since they fired their property manager in the November putsch, they don’t even have someone to assign this to.

Then came Dr. Hazel Rountree with a “presentation” based on her visit to Cleveland. We were assuming Cleveland Ohio, but the first site she pulled up was Cleveland Tennessee. She was so excited about the ads their agency had done, and was going to show them to us, but the district filtering software wasn’t allowing it. She wanted to get the agency from Cleveland who did these ads to give the district a quote. Does that mean they’re ready to fire The Ohlmann Group already? That Hazel didn’t know how to give a presentation using PowerPoint doesn’t give us much hope for our kids. There is a microsite for the “Get 2 School- you can make it” campaign, but as to what video she wanted to show, we’ll never know. BTW- while Hazel was fumbling her website- Superintendent Rhonda Corr who should have know immediately that Hazel was on the wrong site- sat on her thumbs and let Hazel twist in the wind.

However, if you want to see the difference between a district doing competent marketing and DPS’s failure- all you have to do is go look at the Cleveland Public Schools YouTube page and see how many videos they are posting and compare it to DPS.

There are ways to run a school board meeting, and a good superintendent wouldn’t allow school board members to turn it into a carnival barkers midway. Corr has no concept of control or command- and often sits there like a dazed bystander. Someone should show her video of how Kurt Stanic ran a meeting- or better yet, bring Stanic back.

As a final insult, the agency DPS hired to help them, Ohlmann, is spending $125K on media to promote the pre-school promise for Learn to Earn. And, after reading my firms proposal on how to market DPS, Learn to Earn is copying our playbook according to the Dayton Daily news:

The Preschool Promise board approved a large marketing plan this week, including plans to hire a vendor to run a “field campaign” for grassroots outreach in Dayton. Board member and former Dayton mayor Clay Dixon said the marketing approach “is of the utmost importance.”

“That is actually how we’ll go out in the community, shoulder to shoulder, eyeball to eyeball, with the parents to make sure they are aware of the program, aware of what we do to get those kids into one of our quality programs,” Dixon said.

The board’s request for proposals for field campaign vendors is going out this week. Lightcap said the vendor will hire people who know Dayton’s neighborhoods and can build relationships with community partners, all in an effort to connect with the families who would participate in expanded preschool.

Source: Dayton Preschool Promise: Board plans marketing blitz for public

When the Issue 9 people finally release their post election finance report- how much do you want to bet that Ohlmann either worked on the campaign or donated to it? We may never know, since the Neighborhoods for Dayton’s Future- seems to be exempt from post election or annual filing.

In the meantime, we’ve got a school board with an ineligible member, fumbling around with issues, while their lawyer racks up billable hours for sitting on her thumbs, and a union that’s ready to strike. We’ll have more on how to remove the entire school board posted soon.

Short memories. Dayton Public Schools

Summer of 2016, Dayton Public Schools thought they needed a tax levy.

Then came Mayor Whaley- who needed a tax levy even more. For some reason, the board rolled over and played dead.

They’d changed Superintendents, bringing in the rookie Rhonda Corr to replace Superintendent Lori Ward- who they had to spend big bucks to get her to go away. September 14, 2016, they find out, Ward had pulled a rabbit out of a hat- getting the district an A in Annual Yearly Progress- the first A they’d had on a State report card in decades. This averted state takeover. It also gave Corr and crew breathing room.

But, since Corr didn’t like some of Ward’s people- she had a housecleaning- ostensibly a Reduction in Force, to get rid of opposition, and so she could justify bringing in her own team of highly paid assistants. The board, under leadership of Dr. Adil Baguirov, claimed the district was short about $4.5 million- although no one could provide real numbers. On the chopping block along with the opposition, were about 30 para-professionals (teachers aides) who were widely credited with helping get the A in AYP.

Along came Nan’s issue 9. A quarter percent increase in the city income tax. The board actually BACKED it- despite it creating a whole other quasi-public school board for pre-school only. These “Learn to Earn” folks even got to pay themselves big money- instead of the $5k a year the board members make. And, btw- get $4.5 million a year- without any stipulations on where it goes- charters, private schools, churches, as long as they are doing pre-school. There is a bit of a conflict of interest here, but, we’ll save that for another post that’s coming.

That levy, btw- was financed with big money- although we still don’t know the full extent, since the “Neigborhoods for Dayton’s Future” PAC  that solicited the $1873 average donation still hasn’t filed their post campaign finance report.

Then the board has to finish doing Rhonda’s dirty work, buying out David Lawrence, who was Chief of School Innovation- and partially responsible for the A in AYP. They blew that buyout, but had the money to throw around.

And all of a sudden, after not buying any new full size buses since 2010, they are about to buy 30 and take 10 more on a grant. It’s an overdue $2.1 million buy. But, Dr. Adil Baguirov, who happens to be the only one who also buys trucks from the same dealers for his trucking company- all of a sudden jumps in with all the facts and figures and the district is ready to commit to long term financing of 110 buses.

The teachers union isn’t too happy. The paraprofessionals know they are toast. The deal Adil is talking about seems to have a 10 year service and maintenance contract attached- meaning the districts mechanics are probably going to lose their jobs too.

And, all of you voters are just along for the ride.

Watch the video- and don’t get fooled again.

 

Amateurs. School boards and quasi school boards.

If you have lots of meetings, it’s hard for people to pay attention. That’s been the modus operandi of the Dayton Public School Board under Dr. Adil Baguirov. Meetings were long, and many. Last night, where they had to pick a new president and vp and parliamentarian, the meeting ran 2 hours, and then into executive session for at least another 2.

Note- the president doesn’t make more money, has no more power, and has no extra duties other than to run the meeting. The district is run by the Superintendent, who is well paid to be the voice and leader of the school district. So, why it took 2 hours to do that is a pretty good indication of what’s wrong. They even had a long argument about their start times- so this year, their meetings will begin at 5:30 instead of 5pm. Sheila Taylor suggested they put an end time on their meetings- to be fair to the employees who have to be there, to be fair to the board members who don’t get paid more- and to try to put a damn cap on the long pontificating from the dais that became the norm under Baguirov. She was shot down.

She also voted as the only no to appointing Dr. Robert Walker (Div.) as president and Dr. Hazel Rountree (Ph.D.) as VP. I kept waiting to hear her resign in her later speaking opportunities- it was clear she had no faith in Walker.

Most bizarre was the speech by John McManus, who basically ushered Walker to the center seat- saying he’d promised to support Walker and would vote for him, but, if Lacey or Walker couldn’t get 4 votes, he’d step in…. really?

One change, it seems DPS is now going to record all meetings, but they take forever to post them, despite having the tools and bandwidth to do it in real time.

We recorded last night.

If you are looking for insight on how they are going to solve the RTA busing issue, don’t look here, they are still saying it’s not their problem and that they can’t organize a solution because of liability issues- both, untrue, especially next week when the state does count week for attendance for funding.

But as crazy as the DPS board is, we may have a new champion in amateur hour- the “Learn to Earn” board which is now in charge of $4.5 million a year from Dayton taxpayers thanks to the passage of issue 9. To start with- they meet in Riverside, not Dayton. And while they have managed to publish their meeting schedule, they haven’t published minutes, or much of anything on their website. They still have Lori Ward as the DPS superintendent.

We sent our video genius to try to film their first meeting- so the public could see exactly what this unelected body will do with your tax dollars.

First meeting- they got a lecture on the Sunshine Laws- from someone from “Nan Whaley’s office”- here’s that excerpt:

 

Every one who is interested in Ohio politics should learn about the Sunshine laws. Especially school board members (hint, hint).

They get to spend their money anyway they want- unlike the DPS board. So hiring consultants like UD Professor Richard Stock is not a problem for the Learn to Earn (or help our board earn) board. Stock is one of the people who helped guide the Miami Valley Regional Planning Commission on the abomination that is Austin Landing- with its two tier tax structure (only the little people pay taxes there).

Stock catches himself trying to self-edit, since this is a real public meeting- and, oops, maybe he shouldn’t share the facts that the pre-school promise won’t make a bit of difference to the residents moving into Dayton’s new tax abated projects- singles, empty nesters- not parents with kids- at least not parents with good jobs with kids.

The reality is, this board has to waste tax dollars, duplicating a lot of the things that DPS already has in place- finance, HR, health benefits, legal counsel, purchasing, video of meetings etc- as well as a website… that all are overhead- to help give money to people who have 5 star pre-schools? Really? Remember, DPS has the most 5 star pre-schools, and they aren’t at capacity- and have to scrounge for money.

The entire meeting is here:

Lastly, and most important- the pre-election report from  Neigborhoods for Dayton’s Future.PDF was the last filing of the organization that paid for this tax funded quasi-public slush fund. They have still not filed their post general election filing. You can see the big dollar donors in my last post about this.

Until they publish their campaign finance report, they shouldn’t be allowed to meet, or to spend any of the funds- in the name of Sunshine. Also, they need to provide minutes, organizational documents, and their articles of incorporation etc. as well as disclose all expenses. These are public tax dollars at work.

We’ll tape the Friday meeting, but after that, they should have to pay someone to do it. And, maybe, they should consider having their meetings in Dayton- since it’s our money, and our city they are working for- meeting in Riverside just doesn’t cut it.

Fallout from Issue 9 passing?

Starting January 1, 2017, Dayton residents will pay 2.5% income tax up from 2.25% income tax. Believe it or not, the residents actually voted to raise their own income tax believing any one of several lies:

  • It’s for the kids, because we are going to fund the “pre-school promise” of free pre-school for all.
  • We’re going to keep essential city services and add 20 police officers.
  • The tax is mostly paid by people who don’t live in the city so it’s like legalized theft- taxation without representation.

With this increase we pay the same as Oakwood. We don’t have their schools, their housing values, their public safety forces, but we pay the same. This causes a problem for Oakwood, who used to survive on the .25% gap between rich CEO’s living in Oakwood and working in Dayton that they could collect- now- all the tax goes to Dayton- leaving Oakwood to either raise their income tax- or stop forgiving all of the income tax paid to outside jurisdictions- or raise property taxes. Brookville has already said they won’t forgive 1% of any other jurisdictions- so if you live in Brookville and work in Dayton- you’ll be paying a whopping 3.5%

Just remember that John Kasich lowered your state income tax .25% because he’s such a great guy- and stopped giving money back to all the local governments- which has put them in this bind.

As to Dayton- the quasi-governmental “Learn to Earn” people who are just charter schools in disguise will be getting somewhere around $4 .5 million a year for the next 8 years. They are allowed to keep 20% for overhead. They were funded by a mysterious PAC which didn’t file their post election report- but their pre-election report showed that this effort was well funded by all the people who manage to not pay real-estate taxes. We will see if the BOE posts their report late tomorrow.

The average donation in the pre-election report was $1873.00.

Connecting the dots?

When I saw that East End Community Services just announced a big building for a new pre-school, I said- ah ha, thank you Issue 9.

East End Community Services is seeking financing to build an $8.3 million, 44,000-square-foot child and family learning center at the intersection of Steve Whalen Boulevard and Wyoming Street in the Twin Towers neighborhood — on land that could be donated to the nonprofit….

The learning center project would consolidate existing East Dayton Head Start classrooms and services done now at several sites, and if completed would grow the group’s space to seven classrooms for infants through pre-schoolers, with the children’s programs specifically managed by Miami Valley Child Development Centers.

Source: East End Community Services proposes $8.3M expansion –

Since there are no restrictions on these tax dollars, could this be one of the places Learn to Earn will spend the money? And- will there be parity across the river?

Adding police and cutting police

Miami Valley Hospital has been a benefactor of Historic South Park and the Fairgrounds/Rubicon neighborhood for the last 15 or so years. Subscribing to the idea that if the neighborhood around them is a slum- and riddled with crime, they may have a hard time attracting nurses and doctors to come to the hospital late at night (need an example- see Good Sam).

They funded the Genesis project and rebuilt the Fairgrounds neighborhood- subsidizing the housing for their employees- and making promises that the houses wouldn’t become student housing. Of course, they lied on the second part- as multiple homes have become very profitable Single Room Occupancy housing for some landlords who seem to be exempt from city law.

They also funded 2 community based police officers- actual Dayton Cops who only worked our neighborhoods. That was a big part of why Historic South Park was able to turn around- and be one of the few neighborhoods where property values actually increased- while the rest of the county tanked in the aftermath of the Wall Street real estate meltdown.

They have recently stated that they will stop funding our CBP’s in March. Why pay for Dayton cops- when:

  1. Dayton voters just voted to pay for more cops
  2. MVH has it’s own private police force and chief who have all the same powers as Dayton Cops- but don’t have to report to anyone elected or be subject to the same sunshine rules on their actions.

The neighborhood is devastated by the news. The new police chief at MVH- another former Dayton Cop- is thinking he just got more men under his command- which in a cops mind is like getting a bigger gun.

As if we didn’t notice…

And the myth that the higher income tax will continue to be paid by the businesses in Dayton who have employees that live outside the city- is all well and fine, except we’ve seen the growth of jobs at Austin Landing and Pentagon Parkway- where there is no income tax for white collar workers. In the long run, that 2.5% vs 0% figure is great for developers who want to build office parks on farm land- and is horrible for a city trying to fight its way back.

The worst part about it is that to encourage companies to locate in Dayton, the only tool left to entice them is handing over property tax abatement that adversely affect Dayton Public Schools- which are the number one reason why people with kids move out of the city if they can- leaving the district full of kids in poverty- that require more wrap-around services to effectively educate. It’s a vicious circle- and Dayton can’t seem to learn from its mistakes.

There are solutions, but they won’t come from City Hall, or other elected leaders. In the next few weeks, you’ll learn about some of them here, on esrati.com