Mental health care gets a pink slip in Dayton

This story better have a happy ending.

Right now, a 45 year old service disabled veteran with mental health problems is not in the VA getting treatment, he’s in Sheriff Phil Plummer’s hell hole of a jail. This is where people with misdemeanor crimes end up dead. This is a country that says collectively that 20 veterans committing suicide a day is a problem we’re committed to stopping, and yet, here is a man, who wasn’t trusted with his own shoelaces last week while confined to a psych ward at Grandview, now behind bars for being mentally ill.

People say blame Ronald Reagan for shifts in policy in mental health care that closed down mental hospitals across the country. You can read about the case that was made for deinstutionalization of the mentally ill in this excellent article in the New York Times from 1994: HOW RELEASE OF MENTAL PATIENTS BEGAN or this article from Salon from 2013: Ronald Reagan’s shameful legacy: Violence, the homeless, mental illness either way, the answer is the same, we traded away a broken attempt at government health care into the hands of big pharma who no doubt lobbied their way into the market for their brand of medicine- take a little pill and everything will be ok, which is fine, if the mentally ill people would only act rationally. Which they don’t.

I could take you on a tangent, to go on a rant how this action by the government created our problems with homelessness, the panhandlers, and the growth of our prison population. We’re good at whitewashing our real problems with new solutions that aren’t, as long as it can sound good coming out of a congressman’s mouth- as a paid puppet of which ever lobbying group stands to benefit. The reality is health care for all is, and should be, a fundamental right, guaranteed by the constitution, just like the 2nd amendment guarantees the right for any and all of us, to own a gun. Oh, the irony. Just remember, in the founding fathers days, a gun was a muzzle loaded musket, and “medicine” wasn’t much more than bloodletting and torture at the hands of a “healer” who was really an imposter- pretending to heal while often having more in common with a butcher. It wasn’t pretty.

Legislating based on current best practices depends on also updating legislation based on current best practices. We, as Americans seem to fail to adapt, and we know what Darwin said about those who fail to adapt (or do we?).

Mental health via community control might work if we really did have a foolproof system of safeguards in place. Regular health and welfare home checks would be a start. Mental illness has lots of indicators of oncoming trouble, changes in sleep patterns, weight loss or gain, compulsive behavior, personal hygiene failures, money problems, issues in the workplace, interpersonal tension. Proper monitoring by a trained professional can help catch a crisis before it becomes a disaster, which is where we are now. Jail is not part of an effective treatment regime.

Backstory

Last spring, before my Dad went in the hospital to die three months later, before I became the soul caretaker of my 89 year old mother with dementia, before I found out that a trusted employee and “friend” was neither, I stepped up to help a friend by agreeing to be his power of attorney, both  durable and statutory. I did this while he was in a state mental facility, where he had been transferred after an arrest while manic. This was nothing new for him, he’d been bouncing from ER to ER for treatment of his psychiatric disability for years- totally unaware that as a veteran, he was entitled to not only care at the VA, but a disability pension. As one of his friends, who had a modicum of experience with VA benefits, and the system, as well as a bully pulpit of this blog and connections to people above my pay grade, it became my mission.

If you’ve been religiously reading this blog, you might remember a post last summer about trials and tribulations with both the SSVF program and the Montgomery County Veterans Service Commission. Despite his 3 year plus service to our country in one of the military academies, some bureaucrat misinterpreted the  definition of veteran on their own, without actually checking the law of the land. We’re still fighting a misunderstanding that a veteran is one who served in the military, combat isn’t the defining experience.

Had I not been dogged about my advocacy, we would have had a homeless veteran, and due to the failure of the system, it’s my name that’s on the lease as responsible for the state of his place, not the program that he was entitled to. I have actual skin in the game on this, something I didn’t think was coming with job description. That lease was signed a year ago June- and had things gone according to plan (which they never do) I might have had to hire a house cleaner to get the deposit back, but am now looking at a glazier, a drywall mechanic, a house cleaner and maybe an exterminator, but that’s the least of it.

In that year, I managed to get his social security restored, put money in a STABLE account, get him a car, a phone, a place to live, his VA claim submitted, his criminal charges dropped (with help from a local attorney, Enrique Rivera, who took the case pro bono), and with help of another friend- kept him employed part time and for the most part, out of trouble.

The trouble started last time, by all accounts, when Social Security dropped his disability payments because he was “making too much money” and so he took extra jobs to make up for the shortfall. Because he had to stay awake, he stopped taking his meds- which make him sleepy, and one thing lead to another with his eventual arrest on the side of I75 in Franklin county, as he was pulled over and manically searching through his car for something. The cop thought he was drunk, and threw in a public indecency charge since he had no belt and his butt made an appearance. He was in the jail for 3 days before we found out he’d been arrested and already transferred to the psych unit.

It took almost 6 months to get his Social Security restored, which came with a big payout of almost $9K. It was as if he’d won the lotto. Unfortunately, having this much money in your account- also is a dis qualifier for receiving disability, so I set up a STABLE account to legally hide the funds. This is one thing I can credit Josh Mandel for doing right- creating a savings vehicle for those with disabilities, so they can have a rainy day fund. Good thing too, because it wasn’t long before those that giveth started asking for it back- saying they miscalculated. They want almost half of it back. Never mind, they can’t even deposit it in the right bank account, after 6 moths of telling them they putting it in his account instead of the payee account.

For almost a year he was golden. He paid his boss off early on a loan for a $1200 Toyota, he paid his phone bill to me each month (adding him to my account saved him money and made it easier to manage), his rent was paid for the first six months by SSVF, and PIPP and HEAP made his utility bills manageable. One could almost say that the safety net was working, as long as I was staying on top of everything. But, alas, when the warning signs started, I as well as his friends and co-workers, didn’t catch his fall from grace until it was almost full blown, which took about 30 days.

The crash

Mental illness is never a single issue problem. You break an arm, you put it in a cast. Your brain breaks, it’s got so many symptoms and compounding issues it’s triage- deal with the life threatening situations first, deal with the other issues over time.

The early warning signs in our case were an increase in drinking and the draining of the measured amounts of money I was entrusting to his personal account. Buying weight loss drugs from unreputable sources via the internet should have been one huge disaster siren of a wake up call. The nights out drinking watching the Stanley Cup with friends (to which I was the designated driver) were also a bad idea- but, we thought things were going pretty well, and if a few beers makes someone happy and feel like one of the boys- well, cheers.

Psychiatric drugs and hydroxycut (or whatever he bought) are a bad idea, as is beer. There’s a reason it’s a four letter word. When he asked for me to deposit $300 into his account (he’d been living off his paychecks, and a few hundred every month for a year) saying he’d given $200 to his son, should have been a red flag. That money was gone in a minute as well. The charges were so often, so small, and all over the map it was insane. He actually asked for help from me and his boss  on Wednesday the 21st. We sat in my conference room and tried to map out a plan. The next morning he texted me asking me to take him to the hospital, with a stop at McD’s on the way there. He’d awoken in a pond of his own piss. We went to Tank’s instead, where his eyes were bigger than his ginormous belly- and he over ordered and couldn’t even eat his pancakes. In one of those strange coincidences, his former Eastway case manager sat at the next table. They talked briefly- and we left with the decision that he was feeling better and would just take his meds and go to work.

When it came to the coming paycheck, instead of letting him put it in his personal account, we thought it better to go into the payee and be rationed out. This infuriated him, and rightfully it should have, but, when you’re manic, everything pisses you off.

That was Friday the 23rds paycheck. That weekend, he managed to make it to a bunch of his favorite watering holes. East Dayton dive bars where everyone knows his name, and smoking is generally permitted although illegal. One of the things that endears him to people is his generosity which increases when manic or drunk. He’s worked for tips for years, and so he always tips well. I could see what was happening by logging into his bank account, which was constantly at zero or overdrawn.

Monday, I called his case manager at Eastway. She’s new and I hadn’t met her yet. She, unlike the old case manager, didn’t know who I was, didn’t have that any idea that I was POA- and now claimed that POA wasn’t enough of a justification to talk to me. She needed me to be a guardian. There were supposedly some forms that she needed me to sign- and she was going to be over in the next few days to do that after I emailed her the PDF copies of the POAs that I keep handy in my dropbox.

Next thing I hear is she has gone to his house, and pink slipped him ( a medical 72 hour hold for evaluation), instead of taking him to the VA as I’d discussed with her, she took him to Grandview. Newsflash- sources tell me that Premier/Miami Valley Hospital no longer accepts psych patients via pink slip, putting additional stain on the already inadequate system.

A friend of his who happened to be there when the case manager and cops showed up, helped keep things calm, and he went willingly. After the door was locked, the friend decided to break in to shut the a/c units off- and instead of going out the way he came in- left the front door unlocked. So now, I had to find the keys. A trip to Grandview that night, I came up empty handed, when the nurses said he didn’t have them. I dropped off my POAs. He didn’t want to talk to me or have a visitor- I got the one finger salute through the safety window.

His car was in a bar parking lot, about a mile from his house. How he got home the night before, I still don’t know. The car had been having problems keeping the battery charged since a welfare driver hit the drivers side outside his work and somehow secrewed up the drivers door just enough that the door ajar light would keep draining the battery that really needed replacing. I had it towed to Carl’s body shop- to get that fixed, the A/C fixed (he had been complaining) and to possibly fix the front bumper since it was held on with duct tape. This was also to keep the car out of his hands until the drunk driving wasn’t going to be an issue.

A trashed kitchen serves as an indication that menal health intervntion might be a good idea

Signs of mental illness. This is his kitchen

By Wednesday night I get a call, an apology and that they had his keys I come get them and  go to the house and get disgusted. Clothes everywhere, trash everywhere, food everywhere. His mattress is standing on edge. The place is worthy of a haz mat suit. I try to find some clothes, put things sort of right, and make sure his only item of real value- a 55″ TV I bought him in a January sale for $300 was still there- in the box (he’d not gotten it out because, well, he’s mentally ill and couldn’t ask for help). I find some clothes, bring them home and wash them- along with everything I’m wearing- as I head directly to my shower, fearing bugs.

The next day, I bring the clothes and “snacks” because, well, a man’s gotta have snacks when he’s locked up. He wants to talk this time. He’s not wearing shoe laces- because- well, they don’t trust him not to kill himself. I talk about transferring to the VA. I’d emailed all the honchos Monday night when I heard he’d been taken to Grandview. I’d talked to the head of social work, who told me to ask their transfer team to coordinate things- the only problem is- Grandview’s people didnt’ want to talk to me either- again saying my POA wasn’t enough- I needed to be his guardian. No one from the VA came out to evaluate him while ill. No one from Eastway was returning my calls. Thursday, just after noon, while I’m talking on the phone to the people at the VA trying to get him to go directly thee- he walks into my office, and sits down. They’d given him bus tokens and sent him on his way.

Yesterday, no shoelaces. Today, bus tokens and a boot out the door. No, he didn’t want to go to the VA. I drive him home. He doesn’t want me to come in. He had confessed the night before that he’d also put a hole in the drywall. I ask if I can arrange for people to come help clean it up, he says he’ll do it himself.

I forgot to mention that when I got the keys, I was also told that he’d been to a bar in Centerville on Sunday night, before he was at the bar where he’d left his car. He’d run up a $35 tab and left his drivers license and debit card there. I should go and get them- and tip at least 20% because he’d done what he did. His tab had one sandwich and beers, shots, well drinks- he was definitely drunk when he left to to the other bar where he had gotten in a fight in the parking lot, smoked some weed and also lost his smart phone that wasn’t even paid off yet.

Friday, we go to look at his car and see if we can find his phone in it. It’s a moving waste basket. No phone. The car also has a new dent on the rear passenger quarter panel that he says he did.  I get him a new SIM card and hand him my parents old flip phone with his number on it. Keeping tabs on him was critical. How else could I find out if he was ready to go to the VA? He’s not going in to work just yet- he’s not ready, and neither are his co-workers, who are all rooting for him.

Friday night- he’s burning through his $20. Saturday night he calls from an Oregon District bar, he’s drunk, he’s a a drunk, he’s happy, and he ran up a $35 tab and left his license and debit card again. I get this message at 12:30 am- and go to get him. He’s not there. I know the bar owner and he can’t find him either- and promised me he’d 86 him from the bar in the future. I pay the tab. Can’t find him. Go home. Next day I go over to his house at 1pm to meet the people who were going to help him clean the place. The plan was to gather all the clothes- go to a laundromat and do them all at once, while others cleaned and organized what was left. But, as I go up the street on the way there- I get a text-

helper: Nevermind David this guy is definitely not interested in any help he’s a little upset that things go the way they do and obviously that’s a conversation you and him need to have but we attempted we had everything ready to do this and not going to go into a situation where it is definitely not wanted on that person’s part sorry
David Esrati: Sorry. I’m here now. I thought you were going to be here at 1
helper: Well I stopped by a few minutes early to see what exactly we were going to need so that we would have everything but he was not open or agreeable to having us do anything

I knock on the door- he comes out screaming at me. He’d taken his beard trimmer and cut a swath from his lower lip straight down to his chin, giving him a wild fu manchu short beard- there was a hunk of green snot above his upper lip- he was shaking, he was mad, he threw things at my minivan, he told me to leave or he was going to punch me- there was already a recliner on the parking pad that he’d thrown out of the house, I got in my vehicle to leave as fast as possible- dialing 911 as I turned out of his alley.

I wanted the police to come and pink slip him again. He’d threatened me- he wasn’t trusted with shoelaces in the last week- what’s the magic phrase “are you a threat to yourself or others”- I thought he’d met all of those conditions. The first cruiser meets me around the corner, an older male cop and short female. They start assessing- and call for the cavalry. In the next ten minutes no less than 10 cops show up- including a few sergeants, and a guy in plain clothes who identifies himself as a hostage negotiator. They mill about. Talk to me, talk to each other. Call in to central. At one point, the pissed off veteran screams down the alley- and throws the recliner for effect- he’s now shirtless- we hear something that sounds like a baseball bat beating the shit out of something twice.

The cops tell me I’m not the guardian. They don’t think they have grounds to violate his constitutional rights. They don’t even go up to talk to him. This is crisis management at half-a-blocks length. I offer to walk up and try to talk to him- so they can observe, to which they tell me I’d be the instigator- and it would be my fault. They say crisis care can pink slip him- I call them, they talk to the cops- they say the cops need to make the call. They drive off.

I call 911 and report their inaction. I tell them specifically, on record, that if anything happens to him in the next 24 hours, I’ll sue them to kingdom come. Sorry, not our problem, we’re the sheriffs bitches, call DPD. I ask to speak to a supervisor- they take my number.

I’m back at the office cleaning my a/c unit. I get a call from one of his co-workers. He’s walking down Wayne Avenue in boots, his underpants and a hockey helmet with “something that looks like a weapon, slung across his back.” I call 911 again- and head that way. I spot him changing on the street corner at Park Drive. The hockey helmet is on the ground, he’s pulling on a shirt, he has a backpack, I’m on the phone to 911 when the supervisor finally calls me back as I start to talk to the first officer that’s shown up. He’s moved around the corner to a parking lot and is talking to his co-worker- I have the hockey helmet in my car. They talk tot he supervisor on my phone, we end the call, the hostage negotiator shows back up- and they start a conversation with the mad man. At one point I step out where he can see me and he immediately starts going ape shit- the cop tells me to step away. I go get the hockey helmet- go back and set it where they can see it and leave.

Final report from the coworker, the cops thought it was ok for him to walk around in his underpants with a hockey helmet- he hadn’t broken the law. A woman can legally walk around topless too. They took him to his bicycle.

Bicycle? What bicycle? He had said he wanted me to get him a bicycle, for exercise. The last one I got him was when he was in the halfway house after the arrest- and it got lost in one of his pink slip visits that time. Turns out, he’d pawned the TV in the box for $200 on Saturday afternoon, and got a bike- and probably some cash to blow before he’d run up the bar tab in the OD.

Monday, I’m calling Eastway and the VA. No one is answering. I’m emailing. I’m worried that he’s going to end up either dead, or in jail again.

You already know he’s in jail. Happened around 10:30 am on Tuesday July 4th. I still can’t find any police reports from any of the encounters. He started with an M-4 and M-5 and a $1000 total bail. By later in the day, it said he had a whole bunch of charges:

bond.

# COURT CASE NUMBER CHARGE DESCRIPTION CHARGE DEGREE CHARGE STATUS JUDGE BAIL TYPE BAIL AMOUNT DISPOSITION DISP DATE NEXT COURT DATE
1 MONT-DMC () MENACING M4 WAITING COURT ACTION *Not Entered* TEN PERCENT 500 *Not Entered* 07/05/17 01:45 PM
2 MONT-DMC () DISORDERLY CONDUCT M4 CHARGE CLEARED *Not Entered* TEN PERCENT 500 RELEASED BY PROSECUTOR 7/5/2017 07/05/17 01:45 PM
3 MONT-DMC () MENACING M4 WAITING COURT ACTION *Not Entered* TEN PERCENT 500 *Not Entered* 07/05/17 01:45 PM
4 MONT-DMC () AGGRAVATED MENACING M1 WAITING COURT ACTION *Not Entered* TEN PERCENT 2500 *Not Entered* 07/05/17 01:45 PM
5 MONT-DMC () AGGRAVATED MENACING M1 WAITING COURT ACTION *Not Entered* TEN PERCENT 2500 *Not Entered* 07/05/17 01:45 PM
1

All of these aren’t crimes, they’re signs of mental illness.

And I, despite being assigned duties of Power of Attorney, am helpless in being able to do anything.

Bailing him out, won’t put him directly in treatment, and frankly, I might be on the receiving end of an ass kicking instead of a thank you.

Yesterday, I called everyone I could to try to get an intervention. No one from the jail staff picked up a call- from the medical people to the director, to the duty sergeant. The Dayton Chief was in meetings, Col. Ecton didn’t call me back. The VA tried to send a person to the jail- a “Veteran Justice Outreach Coordinator” tried to see him, but was thwarted by the shift change, and would be trying again this a.m. No one returned calls from Eastway either. Several hours of my time wasted, all while also dealing with no a/c at home or my rental (I’m looking at $1750 to fix both- and while my tenant had a/c last night- I woke up at 4:30 sweating my rear off- and wanting to share this story of woe).

I had thoughts several times of calling the national veterans health care line. I also thought of sending an email to the head of the VA. In the past, I’ve actually gotten a response from former VA Chief Bob McDonald, but the other Donald fired him.

We’ll see what today brings, but I hold little hope for help for this veteran.

Had things worked out right, I would have thought that the first time I reached out to the VA saying there was a veteran on suicide watch in a local hospital, an action team would have sprung into action to make sure all is done to safeguard that vet.

Why am I still an optimist?

When will America realize jails make lousy psych wards? That health insurance isn’t the same as health care? And, mental health is actually treatable and shouldn’t be considered a stigma, but a measure of society values- in how we treat and take care of those who are less fortunate.

To anyone of you who read all 4310 words of this TL/DR post, thank you. Do me a favor- please leave a comment, even if it’s just one word. America, we have a problem, and it’s crazy to think it’s going to go away by itself. Thank you.

Pray for a veteran.

Act II- update, 3:30 AM Saturday July 8, 2017

Late in the day Thursday, I get a call from the DPD officer who specializes in mental health emergencies. She, and a case worker from Eastway had been called to the veteran’s home early on Tuesday July 4th. He’d broken practically every window in the place- with his bare hands. He’d threatened the neighbors screaming “you go get your weapons, I’ll go get mine” and the place is an even bigger mess. Now, his box spring is sitting outside, one air  conditioner is next to the house- with broken expansion panels. The other A/C unit is in the house- among the squalor.

  • The bathroom
  • The TV- shrine of OTC weight loss
  • Start a fire?
  • Who needs A/C when you break every window?
  • Gumbo for the flies.
  • The kitchen floor.
  • Broken glass- not sure if the bars were bent before.
  • “This” is mental illness?

The cop and social worker go looking for him- and find him half dressed in a nearby park, covered in his own blood. He’s raging. They pink slip him again. The officers get him into a cruiser, where he does the classic crazy “bang your head against the windows” as we’ve seen in the bad behavior reality show “Cops”- of course, new cruisers now have back seats built for this- you can literally hose out the back of the car, and the whole interior is basically ballistic plastic.

They take him to Miami Valley Hospital- to get treated for the bleeding- and to admit. He’s sedated in the ER- and then things get murky, he’s not admitted. Somehow, the hospital thinks he’s good to go and begin to release him. Some officers who had pink slipped him either that day or previously, decide he doesn’t need to be out in public and arrest him and take him to the jail, where he is placed in solitary.

This info, at around 5:30 pm is the first accounting of what happened. I was still unable to pull up the police report online. Got it Friday morning, after I’d gone to the house myself to inspect. The house visit had me feeling queasy. He’d tried to start a fire on the stove top. There was a pan of gumbo on the kitchen floor festering with flies. Ceiling tiles are pulled down. The bathroom is trashed, the sink full of some brackish water. On top of the old analog TV are neatly arranged the OTC weight loss pills that probably contributed to this disaster- they are the only things in the place that seem orderly- as if placed on a shrine for worship.

I go back to the office, wait for my video guy to show up late, and begin working on the paperwork to get guardianship so I can bail him out AND direct him to treatment, since none of the people who’ve been involved in his “treatment plan” seem to have his best interests in mind. I make calls. I’ve pulled almost every person of influence I know into my wheelhouse for help. State Reps, lawyers, my neighbor who used to be the head shrink for crisis care, the PR maven at ADAMHS (our local health and human services admin org). Calls are coming in on two phone lines, but not the ones I need.

We go out and shoot a video- my video guy, who is from a small town in Indiana, can’t quite fathom how this happens. When we get back, he’s warning me to check for bugs, he found one on himself. I go to shower and dress. It’s 11:30 and I still hadn’t had breakfast. The clothes go directly into the wash.

Armed with a stack of papers, I head to the courthouse. Probate is on the second floor- the woman at the desk starts her hands dancing through the papers- I’d put his current case number on all of them- mistake number one. She’s got whiteout tape to fix that. However, I need $50 for the emergency filing and $350 for the full guardianship- which has to be filed at the same time. Here’s another huge stack of papers. I’m going to have to get a background check (but not first thing), bonded, and, btw, you need to have him evaluated by a medical doctor before we can accept the paperwork.

Before I go to Eastway to bow and pray that his doc will sign off on this, I go up to Judge Henderson’s court and talk to his bailiff. She’s compassionate, kind, helpful, but the judge is out until 2- and, frankly, he heard this case on Wednesday and has already entered preliminary charges, it’s unlikely he’ll make any changes to bail or order treatment etc. unless there is a plan in place to manage this mess.

On to Eastway. The skys are darkening, and as I sit in the waiting room to meet his caseworker who wouldn’t talk to me over the last 2 weeks, a security guard walks by saying, “It must be about to rain, DirectTV is out.” Just as the social worker and her boss come out to greet me, the torrential downpour begins. The social worker is wearing dark clip on sunglasses over her prescription glasses, inside. Who is she? Men in Black?

They are very nice. She was out at the house on the 4th, has no clue why MVH dropped the ball. Agree that he doesn’t belong in jail. His Doc isn’t in today, but his old one is. He liked his old doc. I go in to see her, and she’s this sweet woman who says “beautiful” a lot as I describe what I’ve been trying to do to help this veteran over the last year. I had mistakenly filled out the form for the doc in the pile of papers – why not play doctor like on TV? No one else has effectively cared for him. She reads it over, nods, but says, “I can’t sign this because I haven’t seen him lately” and asks me what to do? Me. The amateur social worker/friend/legal beagle wannabe/crisis care interventionalist without a paycheck, me.

I say, you could sign it- knowing from experience and interviewing me and your social worker who saw him Tuesday as reference, or you could (hold for the long shot, pie in the sky request) “go see him in the jail and evaluate him.” She says, well, “I can do that, my incoming patient can see a nurse.”

Damn. I love this woman with her “beautifuls” and her eastern European lilt in her voice. She says to say hi to my neighbor who used to run Crisis Care- and that she missed him. I’m thinking I just hit the lottery. I’ll go back to my office and fill out the half inch of paper, while she evaluates him and by the time she gets done, I’ll be done, run to the courthouse, file and miraculously, the judge will act, and I’ll be able to haul him out on bail and have him taken to the VA for inpatient care.

An hour later, as I finish the paperwork, except for getting the form from his son agreeing that I should be the guardian (I’ve been communicating through his brother, who is also suffering from the same bipolar diagnosis- as is the son), the case managers supervisor calls. “We saw him, he was lucid, he said he didn’t want you to be his guardian, she’s not signing the paper.”

Meltdown. The energy generator that’s been burning in my belly to get him out of the “criminal justice system” (and yes, that expression is either ironic as hell or the best oxymoron since “military intelligence” or “jumbo shrimp”) and into our third world nation mental health care system just got encased in concrete and doused with as much water has fallen from the skys of Dayton this last week.

I failed. The imaginary system failed too. Despite the facts according to the Doctors own caseworker- that he should have been in a psych ward, and that he’s in jail, with restraining orders from his neighbors, and that he’s done enough damage to clean out all the money I’d managed to put away to help him do something like get his own place- psycho boy gets to call the shots, and I’m not the designated hitter.

I could get mad at the doc. I could get mad at myself for not doing the guardianship when he was healthy, but hell, I thought that was what the health care POA was for. No one told me it wouldn’t be enough to manage his treatment when he’s obviously ill.

I talk to my friend, his now former boss, who tells me I’ve done more for him than anyone else- by getting his SS money back, by setting up a STABLE account, and most importantly, getting him into the VA system, but, I’m not the first to give up on him or get blamed for man/boys bad behavior. “Just clean up the mess and let it go” is his advice.

The brother thanks me. He understands my position and plan that’s being formed for me.

First steps: reglaze the windows, get the trash hauled out, get the clothes gathered, laundered and packed. Fix the broken stuff in the apartment- the stove, the ceiling tiles, the miniblinds, the kitchen cabinet drawer that’s in pieces. Put everything in storage, turn in the proverbial key (no one has it right now- or at least is able to get it). Pay the storage bill until his money runs out and turn over POA to someone that feels like being the next punching bag.

A friend who owns a glass shop has a guy coming on Saturday (today), another friend, a veteran, who calls himself a “Debris-ologist” will be there at 9am to start the haz mat removal. His line always makes me laugh, “satisfaction guaranteed or twice your junk back”.

My stomach, which is usually made of iron, is churning and feels like the stuff in a lava lamp. This isn’t what’s best for the veteran, but, I’ve got my 89 year old mother with dementia, a business, employees- that have to come first. There is a long rambling message on my home answering machine from him, thanking me for everything I’ve done for him- and that he didn’t mean anything he said while manic. He left that last week after the first pink slip. Maybe I’ll make it into an MP3 and post it- if I can stand listening to it anytime soon. The words of anyone who is radically bipolar all come with footnotes, that may or may not contradict their actions, or even what they are saying in a span of a voicemail.

I also sent a scathing email to the “team” at the VA, suggesting that their failure to intervene will not go quietly. I referenced this initial post. I told them video was coming. I’ve written the head of the VA- McDonald before, and I’ll write Dr. David Shulkin soon. Congressmen and Senators will be contacted, hell, I’ll even tweet Trump (I’ve already talked to my friend Rob Scott who ran his campaign in Ohio.) This will be someones story to tell to use to dismantle the VA, even though I believe that the care I’ve gotten, that my father got, is as good or better than the Cleveland Clinic (dad used to be seen there as part of Kaiser Permanente in Cleveland). Video added 8 August 2017

If he dies in custody, or anything else happens to him, rest assured, I’ll find an ambulance chaser lawyer and make him wealthy. The documentation- the call to 911 AFTER the cops wouldn’t even talk to him, the steps I took, all make for a very sympathetic jury. Maybe his son will end up owning the Fairgrounds after Premier has to pay for their mistakes. Remember, I wear a nice watch, that I bought with part of the settlement with the city over Mike Turner’s arrest of me while I peacefully protested their attempts to limit public speech at meetings. I wear it, to remind myself, that we always have time for free speech (and because at 36, I still thought that you could give yourself a medal for fighting city hall and “winning”).

There will probably be a third act in this tragedy. Sadly. Stay tuned.

 

 

Faulty Fairgrounds math

“Fairgrounds $15M purchase approved” is the headline on the front page of today’s Dayton Daily news. This is what we would now call “alternative facts,” or in the past- an “F” in math.

No worries, because no matter how much you sell the Fairgrounds for to “Meds, Eds and Feds” you keep the most valuable piece of undeveloped, virgin land in Downtown out of the category of contributing tax entity. No money generated to the schools, and- with this latest plan- which is really no plan, no idea of the number of jobs that will be created- the normal excuse for the public financing of private institutions (otherwise known as either corporate welfare or screwing the little guys).

UD and Premier will redevelop the property after market analysis and community input, according to a news release from the county…. The closing is supposed to take place no later than 15 days after the end of the due diligence period, which can be extended to the end of March if the buyers choose. UD and Premier will take possession of the property no later than Oct. 1, the letter states.

UD and Premier agreed to try to retain the historic roundhouse and incorporate it into their redevelopment plans.

In exchange, the county will provide them with a $2 million credit at the time of closing, which will be applied to the first and smaller of the two payments.

“We’re very pleased that as part of this deal the county is going to be able to contribute money to not only to keep that building where it is, but to improve it,” Commissioner Foley said.

Under the agreement, UD and Premier will not be required to renovate the building by any specific date.

The institutions also can decide that the roundhouse should be taken apart and reassembled at a suitable site somewhere else. But the building has a historic designation and, if moved, would have to be reconstructed to meet historic rehab standards, officials said.

Foley said he’s confident the development will create jobs, reshape the neighborhood and support two major anchor institutions.

“We’re excited that this next step has been accomplished. We look forward to working with our partners to develop plans for future,” said Premier Health in a statement.

The purchase agreement also says the city of Dayton will work to approve a memorandum of understanding outlining how it is prepared to participate in the construction of the infrastructure to benefit and support the redevelopment project.

The city also would be expected to take ownership of the title to the fairgrounds property to make the development eligible for tax increment financing incentives.

As for the financing, UD and Premier are expected to each pay $5.25 million of the sales price.

About $2.5 million is expected to come from a state grant that was previously awarded to the Dayton-MontgomeryCountyPort Authority. And the remaining $2 million is from the county.

Source: Fairgrounds’ $15M purchase approved

As far as this math challenged writer can figure, the Fairgrounds was sold for $10.5 million- making this the steal of the century.

And, the “historic roundhouse” isn’t worth much more than a pole barn, which is all it was then and now. If we are worried about preserving buildings in this town, let’s start with ones that have taxpaying people in them, that we’ve been tearing down faster than Trump tweets.

This after, two developers probably invested hundreds of thousands of dollars to develop a real plan with measurable returns on investment to the community, that were tossed out, so we (the taxpayers) could basically donate this property to two institutions that already don’t pay a lick of property tax- and cried like babies when told they’d have to pay an assessment like the rest of us for new streetlights based on a democratic formula based on street frontage.

And remember, Premier/MVH had plenty of money to spare, as did their top, grossly overpaid executives to donate to Issue 9 to RAISE their income taxes .25% just a few months ago. How much they donated isn’t even fully known, because the mystery Political Action Committee that funded the campaign never filed their post election report. After it passed, one of the first things Premier did was to end support for the two Community Based Police officers they had funded for South Park and Rubicon Mill (the neighborhood FKA Fairgrounds).

Of course, Dan Foley seems to be the only one talking about this donation. Foley has been searching for a post commission job for years. First he’d hoped to be hired by the Dayton Development Coalition, and now, it looks like he’s looking for a job with UD or Premier – hopefully as sweet as what former County Administrator Deb Feldman landed over at Children’s Medical Center where she makes a cool half million a year plus (up from around $200K a year). Foley was also behind the latest failed regionalization push- which crashed and burned, where he made enemies with every black democrat thanks to Nan Whaley’s scare the west side meetings that were a total farce (the poison pill to block the plan was already well in place).

Foley likes to think of himself as some kind of visionary leader, but, he gets nothing done. Maybe this is because he’s never held a real job in his life outside of either patronage jobs through the party, or elected jobs because he’s was born into the party (his Daddy was a judge, and this is how we take care of the friends and family in the Monarchy of Montgomery County). He’s a very nice guy, but that’s really not why we should elect anyone. Voters are getting sick of the same folks getting elected over and over and doing nothing- he almost lost to Jan Kelly last time (she’s now the Republican in charge at the Board of Elections) despite outspending her and being the incumbent, and Debbie Lieberman came within a hair of losing to Gary Leitzell last time out, despite outspending him 100 to 1. If you need any proof that no elected position is safe from incompetence, just look to the White House.

This deal to give away the real estate should be stopped. Without a contract in place specifying the investment to be made and the return on investment, the property should just be kept in holding. Anything else is criminal.

As to the lie of $15 million, that’s what happens when the only reliable news source in a city has to be published by a political gadfly who the party and the paper tried to minimalize from the very first time he ran for office over 25 years ago. You’re welcome.

 

 

A new tool for successful “Community Based Policing”

South Park has been lucky. For at least the last 20 years, we’ve had a “Community Based Police Officer” or two- paid for by the good folks at Premier Health Partners/Miami Valley Hospital.

Since we’re a Historic District, and they can’t just bulldoze South Park- they figured they better make sure it’s safe, so their employees and patients aren’t scared away- or car jacked on the way to the hospital. At first, we even had a social worker working with the CBP’s as we like to refer to them- to work out issues where the police may not be the best solution. It was an attempt to do creative problem solving. It wasn’t the right answer.

Since the effort began, things have changed thanks to the Internet, Facebook and a strong neighborhood organization. A private group started on FB to discuss and report crime within the ‘hood. Now when your car got broken into- you’d know instantly if you were a single target- or if they had walked a few streets on the way to your car. People would then review their security cams. One of our neighbors who was adamantly against video surveillance- ended up finding out who totaled her boyfriend’s car thanks to a neighbor who caught it on video. We could share mugshots of the people who were police suspects- we now know who to be wary of, and what they are wanted for. But, even with increased information, we were still not getting the results we wanted.

There was one petty thief who kept returning to the neighborhood to live with his mom between stints in prison, and like clockwork, we knew when he was out as garage burglaries picked up. He solved our problem by finally OD’ing on heroin. One problem solved. Unfortunately now, he might be saved by a police officer with Narcan. I’m not so sure I’m a fan of Narcan unless the very next step is always a year-long treatment/rehabilitation program that’s inpatient and that works. Otherwise, we’re just recycling our problems.

This last crime spree was getting increasingly annoying. You’ve seen the post about our neighborhood cancer home, and there have been a few other stories in the news. Enter the most successful crime-fighting tool we’ve found: a former Dayton cop who knows the system inside and out.

He has served as an advocate for the community, collecting all the information about the crimes, the perps, their records, their probation status- and working with the police and the prosecutors to make the case as strong as possible. You know those cork boards of criminal families you see in cop shows- he’s building them and getting input from residents on who is related to who, and who their friends or “running buddies” are. This all takes time.

He’s given the neighborhood the information to write letters to judges just before the case comes to trial. He’s worked with police and the probation department to do spot bed checks on juveniles with court-imposed curfews. With prosecutors, police and probation officials all overworked, he’s served as their criminal concierge, serving up the bad guys for maximum effect when they get to court. The focus on outcomes being reported back in a timely fashion, makes it clear to all that this is now a neighborhood that won’t accept plea bargains, light sentences or too many chances for the low-lifers who are making our neighborhood suffer.

So far, we’ve got about 8 bad actors getting hit hard with the full book. We’re still looking at going into mediation with one crime house to see what it will take to just get them to leave the area. Others are being tossed by landlords who “didn’t know.” Never before have we had such a good flow of information about the courts, the police, the perps and the outcomes.

Here is the secret to successful community based policing in summary:

  • Have a well-defined neighborhood with good boundaries.
  • Have a strong neighborhood organization, with a great online communication structure.
  • Assign at least two police officers to the neighborhood, who come to meetings, share a private number and are highly visible and well known to the neighbors.
  • Provide information on criminal records, mug shots, good descriptions of the problem children to the community. Make it clear who the police think are suspects, and ask for help with license plates, hours of activity, what they are wearing etc.
  • Have a coordinator who knows the police, probation, judges, court system, prosecutors working to collect and organize everything from insurance claims, video surveillance footage, records, and serve as a communications hub between all parties.
  • Monitor judges’ and the prosecutors’ performance, always asking for maximum sentences, and minimal plea bargaining.

In the last month, we’ve seen probation revoked, landlords evicting, cases consolidated and coordinated and even new efforts with “surge patrolling” by the police department, “bait” programs to catch petty thieves stealing, and a heightened level of alert, resulting in more people calling to report even the smallest of criminal behavior, or when we hear gunshots. Things that used to be ignored, now go reported, and have led to arrests.

Ideally, it shouldn’t be this difficult to live in the City of Dayton. Oakwood residents never have to commit this amount of time and energy to providing for their public safety. It’s unfortunate that the focus of our leaders hasn’t been a clean, safe community for decades, but that’s the first level of building strong communities. The foundation. The one that can’t be ignored- ever.

In the next few weeks we’ll find out if more judges respond to these improved tactics and how it changes things in South Park. Will the criminal element that lives and steals here learn that crime won’t pay in South Park anymore? To be continued…

 

Lori Turner leaves town: KMC Marketing opportunity?

It was reported in the Dayton Daily news today that Lori Turner has headed to a new job “as the chief marketing, innovation and customer experience officer for Beacon Health System in Indiana.”
It’s been my experience that the longer the title, the less able.

For those of you who don’t know- Turner is the recently x-wife of Congressman Mike Turner, OH-10.

Now that Ms. Turner, and the “Turner Effect” are totally out of the local picture- maybe Kettering Medical Center can look to hire professionals again to run their marketing. The billboards with the arrow saying “Emergency Room Left 4 miles” on I75 were the laughing stock of the industry.

But to compete with Premier Health Partners, and their monolithic stranglehold on everything from doctors practices to labs and service providers, Kettering needs to use some judo to take their underdog position and leverage it.

More than likely, all Turner’s departure means is that their problems with the Feds- who were threatening to cut them out from reimbursements for high patient bounce-backs, is now over and they don’t need help from DC to keep them out of hot water.

For years, Kettering used Penny Ohlmann Neiman now the Ohlmann Group. There was a brief dance with the Powers Agency in Cincinnati and then with Hafenbrack in Dayton before her highness decided to take it all inside. Premier is using Real Art, which used to be Lori’s go to shop when she ran “Turner Effect” where they helped her launch the “Get Midwest” flop. We will see who Kettering approaches, and if they will buy local. There’s plenty of marketing talent in Dayton to choose from, check out the best list of Ad agency’s in Dayton on The Next Wave site. (full disclaimer- I own The Next Wave and maintain the list).

 

Mass layoff at Premier Health Tuesday- seemingly unreported

When you layoff more than 50 people, according to State law, you have to report it.

Using Mass Layoff Procedures Ohio Revised Code, Section 4141.28 c requires employers to notify the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services ODJFS at least three working days prior to the first day of a mass layoff. To be considered a “mass layoff” employers must have a separation of 50 or more employees within a seven-day period. This allows ODJFS staff to obtain advance information from employers regarding the“lack of work nature” of the separation. When payments such as severance pay, vacation pay, or holiday pay are involved, employers submit a list of workers that will be laid off to expedite processing.

via Microsoft Word – Mass Layoff Procedures May232007 HA.doc – masslayoff.pdf.

Sources tell me that there were mass layoffs at Miami Valley Hospital/Premier Health Partners on Tuesday.

Of course, when the powers that be claim our economy to be based on Meds/Eds and Feds this is bad news, and not something we want to tell anyone.

It is interesting that the top folks at Premier Health had plenty of money to donate to the Whaley primary campaign feast. I may have missed a few names on her campaign report, if someone wants to double cross check Premier Senior management with her report.

  • Mary Boosalis Check 4/8/13 $750.00
  • Thomas M. Duncan Check 4/8/13 $750.00
  • Bobbie L Gerhart 4/8/13 Check $500.00
  • James R. Pancoast  4/8/13 Check $2,000.00
  • James R. Pancoast  4/8/13 Check $500.00
  • Barbara A. Johnson  4/8/13 Check $500.00
  • Eloise P. Broner 4/8/13 Check $500.00

All from her pre-primary report: Whaley, N – 2013 Pre Primary

So, they can afford to pay for wildly expensive primary campaigns, pay themselves 7 figure salaries, but, get out of paying property taxes, but, when push comes to shove- laying off a lot of people is not news in Dayton?

Note- the last time I had a bunch of people donating to the same campaign, from the same company, the same week- it was a violation of election law and the company was doing pay to play politics- read about it: Qbase

 

 

 

Who’s the criminal part 2: IMR or CareSource?

I lost a few good friends when I wrote the post, “Who’s the criminal? SCLC, Montgomery County or CareSource?

It wasn’t something you publicly say when the payroll taxes of CareSource are the only thing keeping the City coffers filled then or now.

Once again, the government is pursuing the little guys instead of the big ones. Remember in the early 80’s when we had the Savings and Loan scandal– that the bankers went to jail, but since 2009 not a single banker has gone to jail over the collapse of the global economy? Last time it was the FBI going after Raleigh Trammell (whom I saw at the non-candidates forum Wednesday night) now, it’s the people who run Richard Allen Academy for $860k:

Who’s the criminal? SCLC, Montgomery County, Caresource? – See more at: http://esrati.com/whos-the-criminal-sclc-montgomery-county-caresource/4325/#sthash.mUIjPHz0.dpuf
Who’s the criminal? SCLC, Montgomery County, Caresource? – See more at: http://esrati.com/whos-the-criminal-sclc-montgomery-county-caresource/4325/#sthash.mUIjPHz0.dpuf
Who’s the criminal? SCLC, Montgomery County, Caresource? – See more at: http://esrati.com/whos-the-criminal-sclc-montgomery-county-caresource/4325/#sthash.mUIjPHz0.dpuf

The Ohio auditor’s office on Thursday again issued findings for recovery involving Dayton’s Richard Allen Academy charter schools, saying their management company, Institute of Management and Resources Inc., owes taxpayers nearly $860,000.

“It doesn’t appear that much has changed at the Richard Allen schools,” Ohio Auditor Dave Yost said in a statement. “Once again, mismanagement of public dollars was found. Ohio’s taxpayers and our children deserve better.”

The new findings include $730,000 that auditors said was overpaid to IMR during the fiscal year ending June 30, 2011. Additionally, there was nearly $130,000 in school funds that either found their way into IMR accounts or were IMR expenses improperly paid by the schools, said Bob Hinkle, chief deputy auditor.

via Charter schools criticize audit that claims state is owed… | www.daytondailynews.com.

And I ask again, CareSource doesn’t have any business other than taking Federal funds directed to help the poor and distributing them. For that, they pay their CEO Pam Morris over $3 million a year. Her pay is set by the people that get the money that she distributes- the Hospitals. They are also “non-profits” yet pay, in the case of Premier Health Partners- a whole bunch of executives 7 figures, including a few who make $4 million a year.

Do you see a pattern here? It’s time the federal government and local governments, be prohibited from doing business with companies that pay their CEOs millions per year in these times where we are calling for austerity. There is zero valid reason to earn over a million a year other than to rub your money in the faces of the less fortunate- and to continue to play the stock markets like a slot machine. Too many people in this country are living at or below the poverty level- losing their homes, struggling for health care- while the Federal Government has bailed the bankers out.

Now, IMR isn’t totally off the hook. While the Richard Allen Schools are at the top of school performance charts in Dayton- which is unlike a majority of the charters, they recently told their employees that the organization wouldn’t be able to pay their health insurance premiums for the next three months and then announced that payroll would no longer be done through direct deposit, but that they would have to pick up their checks.

The US government is the largest purchaser of goods and services in this country. If Congress really wanted to cut spending, or stimulate the growth of small business which is the real driver of employment in this country, stop arguing about raising taxes on the rich- just stop doing business with them.

How to cut the cost of Medicare and save tax dollars

Medicare is a major financial driver for healthcare in Ohio; the government insurance program for the elderly and disabled younger people paid for 41 percent of all medical services at Ohio hospitals last year, according to the Ohio Hospital Association.

via Hospitals’ Medicare funding cut over readmissions | www.daytondailynews.com.

There is no arguing that America pays more for health care than any other nation, and gets less. In the same breath, you can also hear that independent physicians are going as far as leaving medicine, despite shortages of physicians, because they claim that they can’t make money accepting the reimbursements from both Medicare and private insurers.

Republicans talk about spending cuts all the time. Paul Ryan is under attack for wanting to transform Medicare by turning it over to private insurers (which is exactly what we’ve done in Ohio and specifically with a major business that’s been propping up Dayton- CareSource).

CareSource has been in hyper-growth mode as a manager of Medicare/Medicaid dollars, getting more government money for every citizen that enrolls in their managed care program. They then sit between the government and the health care providers and try to ration and manage tax dollars to provide the “highest quality care” for their clients.

But here’s the rub. All of these private companies that count on government tax dollars for large parts of their income, 41% for hospitals, and 100% for companies like CareSource aren’t subject to any effective cost controls. How do we know this? The CEO of Premier Health Partners, makes $4 million a year, and most of his top staff makes a seven-figure salary. The CEO of CareSource makes $3 million a year. Her salary is set by, get this, a board made up of her customers- the hospitals.

Congressmen often make fun of the proverbial $650 toilet seat or the $700 hammer, but, with Medicare/Medicaid paying 41% of hospitals’ revenue, and 100% of CareSource, why don’t we have wage controls on these government contractors? The same can be said of defense contractors, although the main difference is that no defense contractor is pretending to be a non-profit.

In NY there is currently legislation being discussed to cap non-profit executive pay at $199,999 and it’s already in place in NJ. I remember outrage over 20 years ago when the CEO of the Red Cross was toppled for a salary over $1.5M but can’t find the reference right now. Adjusted for today’s dollars it would dwarf the salary being paid to our local chiefs.

Government contractors over a certain size are even told how much they have to pay each worker in a specific position. A secretary is proscribed to be paid $21.08 an hour in one package I looked at. How come we don’t have maximums required as well? Part of the reason politicians refuse to address this, is that without being able to make over a million a year for running a “non-profit” health-care  operation, many of these emperors without clothes wouldn’t be able to make huge contributions to their campaign funds. According to open secrets, health-care professionals were the 5th largest donors to political campaigns in the 2008 election.

Of course if we eliminated private money from political campaigns we might get the politicians we need instead of the best money can buy.

Access to affordable health care in this country is a farce. Any major illness almost always comes with bankruptcy as a side-effect. Small businesses struggle with insurance costs that climb between 20% and 40% annually, without offering better coverage. It’s a small step, but ending the exorbitant salaries of semi-public employees (those who make 40% of their income from our tax dollars is a good starting point.

Chutzpah alert: as a small business owner, who is also a community activist, I’m publishing this piece at the same time as I’ve requested a meeting with Premier Health Partners President and CEO James Pancoast to discuss the benefits of a real bike-share program in Dayton and the environmental, economic and health benefits to the community. A first class system could be bought and paid for with 75% of his annual income, leaving him a cool million to still keep food on his table and gas in his tank.

I’m betting that he won’t be willing to meet with me, blaming my criticism of the system that makes him a very rich man, with our tax dollars. This is the America we have. Unfortunately, because our leaders apparently don’t read history, they are ignoring what inevitably happens with all republics that allow the gap between the haves and the have nots to get too wide.

 

Benefits for employees who help the community

One of the “selling points” I’ve often heard people use for justifying their staying in Dayton (the region) is that “it’s a good place to raise kids”- and the other is that it’s affordable. But in general, our community has a collective self-loathing that makes no sense.

Every time I hear about a hurricane, earthquake, wildfire, water shortages or the price of a studio apartment in New York City I say to myself – wow, we’ve got it great in Dayton. But, employers are still  complaining that they have a hard time finding and keeping good employees- and we also see a lot of rearranging of the deck chairs in the name of “economic development” with businesses moving away from foreclosures, crime, disinvestment instead of attacking the problem head on.

The only exception that I know of has been Premier Health Partners who’ve invested heavily in the Fairgrounds Neighborhood with the Genesis Project, and then in the neighborhoods surrounding Good Sam with the Phoenix project. Only in the last few years has Kettering Health followed suit in the area around Grandview (which may be an example of too little, too late).

As part of the Genesis project, Premier quietly gave “Employer Assisted Housing” a shot. Instead of just renovating and building new homes and hoping that they’d attract better neighbors, Premier offered down payments of up to $10K for employees to buy homes in the surrounding neighborhoods (including South Park), You can call it social engineering, but there is a lot to be said for protecting your investment. They never quite got the nurse who moved next door to walk to work- which would have been an even bigger savings to them since the cost of parking is a necessary evil for them- but, they managed to stabilize a house and have one less home requiring police calls on a regular basis (my old neighbors were constantly threatening to kill each other in between getting married, divorced and remarried).

Premier has gone out of their way to improve safety in our neighborhoods by funding two neighborhood police officers and for the first ten years, a social worker who helped the police try to connect problem homes with social services. It was an ambitious effort.

The investment has paid off, with most property values increasing (until the 2009 crash) and the community strengthening. As far as we know, they no longer offer the housing assistance, but, in our eyes it was money well spent.

Which brings me to an event happening next Monday- (full disclosure- my business, The Next Wave has worked with Tammy Murphy over the last half dozen years) a FREE seminar explaining the benefit of employer-assisted housing and how it can help companies attract and retain the best possible employees:

Monday, July 16 from 7:30 am – 11:00 am. This event includes FREE BREAKFAST BUFFET for those who RSVP in advance. The following is scheduled agenda to which you, fellow co-workers, HR Personnel, Managers or interested parties are invited (just please be sure to RSVP so we can have an accurate count for participation.)

7:30 am Breakfast / Networking
8:00 am Opening Remarks WELCOME
8:15-9:00 City Mayor(s) Discussion
9:00-9:30 Guest Speaker
9:30-10:00 Non-Profit Organizations
10:00-10:30 Lender Panel Remarks
10:30-11:00 Realtor Panel Remarks

via E A H | The “FORUM” Agenda has been set.

As someone who has seen the benefit of Employer Assisted Housing work as a tool for strengthening both the neighborhood and employee retention (most of the plans include some term of service) I encourage those of you who are running businesses that are in questionable neighborhoods, or in growth mode and looking for ways to make recruiting easier, to attend.

There is one other government program that you should consider in relationship to an EAH plan- if your business is in a HUBzone (an area designated by the SBA as a Historically Underutilized Business zone) which includes much of Dayton including South Park- and at least 35% of your employees live within the HUBzone, you are able to bid on government contracts as a set aside. Vaughn Interior Concepts (the local company that’s saving ISUS) has managed to parlay their HUBzone status into a continuous workflow from the Veterans Administration. Besides being a great neighborhood to live in, I’ve encouraged my staff over the years to live in the neighborhood and walk to work, which has worked out well and has also helped us maintain our HUBzone status.

With the price of commuting rising, getting employees to be within walking distance can also act as an effective raise. There is zero downside to offering this kind of benefit- so RSVP asap, as seats are getting scarce.

How does downtown Dayton hope to compete?

On Friday I went to the annual meeting of the extra-tax to save downtown organization- I mean the Downtown Dayton Partnership presentation of the update on the “Downtown Dayton Plan.”

It seems the last year has been spent quietly raising $3.8 million for the paddle boat run- and not much else. Now, it’s up to the little people to kick in $200,000 to complete the fundraising to remove the low dams that were built to create the “waterfront” on a former save-downtown plan. Yep, paddling our way to a vibrant downtown with huge economic impact, yawn.

And btw, we’re happy to report that people from NYC keep buying our real estate for pennies on the dollar, despite the fact that employers are moving out faster than those investors can drop the prices to keep them.

The Soin international building on W. 1st Street sold for a whopping $122,000, including a parking garage (which was promptly sold off for $22K to Paul Hutchins of PMI). That’s real estate that was on the tax rolls for over a million dollars. The Kettering tower, once valued at $30 million or so, was bought for a third of that- cash. The DDP is talking kayaks and canoes.

What’s the problem with downtown? Well, besides the fact that people like Randy Gunlock with RG Properties and Bob Mills of Mills Development/Synergy Building Systems are throwing up office space with free parking in income-tax=free places like Beavercreek and Miami Township- right on highway exits- and the Greene is still sitting with plenty of office space available- complete with free parking and lots of restaurants and shopping opportunities- well- nothing.

Downtown buildings are great monuments to a city that has failed to recognize that we live in a free market society and you can only get away with charging a premium income tax for so long- if you don’t provide a premium experience to match. Now, I’m not one to say it’s all because of the income tax that we saw Mead build what would become LexisNexis in Miamisburg, or Reynolds and Reynolds bail out to Kettering, or Woolpert to Beavercreek, or the Greene be built in Beavercreek, or Teradata to Miami Township or NCR to Georgia etc… but, do you see a trend here?

And at Austin Landing- it’s still tax free to the rich people- but, the clerks at Kohl’s and the burger flippers at Five Guys- will be paying 2.25% due to the magic of Mr. Gunlock and his amazing mastery of local government officials to keep giving him tax breaks and deals.

It’s time Dayton learned to play dirty. If we want to see any of these new investors compete- we’re going to have to play the same kind of game- but, maybe we should do it smart. We need to realize that parking is a major problem for a 27 floor tower. Charging $90 a month to rent a parking space for each employee gets expensive. So, why don’t we get creative and try to incentivize people who can walk to work in their downtown office buildings? If you make less than $44,000 a year (what the Mayor makes for his part-time job) and live and work in the central business district you pay no income tax. Do the same and make between $44K and $100k pay 1.25% This way- we can start rewarding people who don’t waste our high dollar land using up parking spaces.

With Premier Health Partners about to bring another 1,000 people to the corner of 2nd and Main- getting people not to drive into downtown will make it easier for those who have to come down to visit.

We also need to help developers create more housing opportunities for these workers. Since we don’t seem to adjust property tax values based on purchase price- we need to find another way to incentivize transforming parts or all of downtown real estate over to residential. The simple way would be to value property at the purchase price and allow total tax abatement for a value equal to the investment made in switching the old buildings to have at least 20% residential in every building.

The last two critical pieces are we have to get some sort of downtown grocery- Trader Joe’s, Dorothy Lane Market, Whole Foods, Earth Fare or even Kroger’s or a food co-op is critical. The second is adding bike share to downtown so residents can easily move from Sinclair to the Oregon District to Riverscape and the Cannery – tie in UD too and we start having a powerful downtown pedestrian/bike friendly community where it is possible to live like a New Yorker without a real public transit system- and without the high rents.

Only when we can get people to think about living without a car- will downtown really start to thrive. Because after housing expenses, a car and medical are the second biggest expenses people have to deal with.

With our vibrant arts community, a beautiful waterfront (with or without paddle boats and giant fountains) and a compact core- we could easily start looking attractive to some NYC offices looking to move back office people into a lower overhead.

That’s when Downtown Dayton starts to be able to compete.

Premier Health Partners to kill Carmen’s Deli

July 29, 2009, while the economy was in the Dumpster and 5th/3rd was in the process of leaving the old Cit Fed building, my friend Haitham Iman made the gutsy move and took over a space that had failed repeatedly as a deli and put his life savings on the line- here is what I wrote:

I’ve known Haitham Iman for years. I’m sure many of you who have attended events at the David Ponitz center, Building 12, of Sinclair know him too.

He’s the always smiling, nice guy, who makes sure your experience is exceptional when it comes to the food at events.

Now, he’s the guy on the grill- only it’s his grill, in his and his lovely wife Carmen’s new restaurant on the first floor of the 5th/3rd Tower, in the old Swisher’s Too location….

via Carmen’s Deli now open- go see Haitham.

He started with 3 employees; now, he has 6. He’s worked hard to build his business and a following, despite being in a building that had its tenants abandon ship, the building go into foreclosure and then be sold for dimes on the dollar to one of the richest, largest companies left in Dayton: Premier Health Partners, owners of Miami Valley Hospital, etc.

Premier is now about to fill the tower with 900 employees, news that made Haitham leap for joy when he first heard the news. His lease ran through 2014 and he looked forward to 900 new customers right on top of his little dining spot. First assurances were that no one would lose out, but, then the powers that be changed the plan, serving Carmen’s Deli with an eviction notice. It seems Premier wants to feed its own people by building a cafeteria – right on the first floor. They offered Haitham a management position, which was what he had before he took charge of his future and started his version of the American Dream. He turned them down- politely I’m sure.

Premier also offered him a chance to take over the old Kitty’s/Thomato’s/Mediterra/piano bar, etc. space- but it requires about a $300K build-out which is beyond Haitham’s reach. My sources say they shopped the same space to other restaurateurs in town but offered the build-out- and still didn’t get takers.

Most of us would think, how can they boot him if he has a lease? If he tried to walk on them, they’d go after him like rabid dogs. Premier’s lawyers claim that his lease didn’t transfer after the foreclosure and they have the right to boot him now. His customers are outraged, some have even offered their legal services pro-bono to help him out. He’s a David without a slingshot getting his lunch eaten by a Goliath who could take care of this within the rounding error on their books. But, he’s at their mercy.

Precedent

Jimmy Brandell was a thorn in Miami Valley’s side for years. He bought the bar at the corner of Brown and Wyoming streets before the hospital had visions of a grand campus. First it was the second home of the Walnut Hills (first home is now Tank’s) and then when he split with his partner he renamed it Jimmie’s Cornerstone Tavern. He built his business with Dayton’s first CD jukebox and a bar menu that started early for hospital employees getting off third shift. He knew he had it good- and the hospital had decided they wanted his building bad. For years they went back and forth until finally, the hospital made Jimmy an offer he couldn’t refuse: to move him across the street to the old Ladder 11 firehouse, complete with a large attached parking lot. If you hadn’t been to the Cornerstone- you missed a good dive- but, if you haven’t headed over to Jimmie’s Ladder 11 since he opened on 11/11/11, you’re missing out on the Taj Mahal of firehouse bar food and drink.

Jimmy had leverage in bricks and mortar- Haitham, unfortunately only held a lease.

But what about all our “Development” organizations?

Haitham has talked to the Downtown Dayton Partnership, Citywide, the powers that be at the City of Dayton Office of Economic Development- and while they all liked talking about his start-up 3 years ago, now, they like talking about the jobs that Premier is bringing (well not really bringing, they’re just shuffling- but we call that development). Citywide has space in the first floor of “Courthouse Crossing” or did (they might not own it anymore) including the former Roly Poly location that rolled out of downtown under the cover of darkness. There is also the former Chick-filet location in the Key Bank tower (formerly Mead tower) which is too small, but so far, no one has come up with some options to save 6 jobs and a business that committed to downtown when others wouldn’t. Sure- our tax dollars have gone to help Uno around the corner, and Citilites across the way in the Schuster has been butted up with public money, but so far- nothing for Haitham.

Unfortunately, when the “undeveloper” Paul Hutchins sent Boston’s Bistro packing for a plan that never happened- way back in 2006, he also stripped the space of what it needed to become a bar again. That space has been empty ever since- and is spitting distance from Carmen’s. If only…

The reality is, it’s one thing to wheel and deal in real estate, but it’s another to destroy jobs. Yes, Premier will be able to brag about having the only building downtown with 100% occupancy (except for Kitty’s space), but they’ll also be driving a business out.

You can call this progress all you want, but what we’d give to have back Seattle East, Boston’s, the Dugout Deli, Wendy’s, Frisch’s, The Diner on St. Clair, etc. To have a vital downtown, we need diversity and choices in food. Premier isn’t doing itself a favor by tossing Carmen’s out like trash- even its employees may miss options.

I’m not suggesting this should be the taxpayers’ responsibility, but since we subsidize Premier Health through Medicare/Medicaid and not taxing the hospitals- maybe Premier can find it in its heart not to kill this small business. It’s healthy for our community to keep it.