Why bother to have elections at all in Montgomery County?

Donald Trump won Montgomery County.

The local democratic party did nothing to win any new seats, and Debbie Lieberman came within 1% of losing to Gary Leitzell, who only spent $6000 and barely campaigned.

No seats changed hands. No republicans were replaced, no incumbents got voted out. Phil Plummer who should be in jail instead of running it- got re-elected.

Mike Turner hasn’t faced a serious opponent since his first race.

The local dems endorsed Ted Strickland from the start as well as Hillary Clinton and we see how that turned out.

We don’t really hold elections here, we just rubber stamp decisions made in back rooms on who should be allowed to run.

UPDATE

an hour after posting: And one other thing happened, without anyone knowing in advance, from Thomas Suddes:

Then there’s the General Assembly. In January, Republicans, led by Speaker Clifford Rosen-berger of Clinton County, will hold 66 of the Ohio House’s 99 seats. That’ll be the biggest House majority either party has held since Ohio went to a 99-member House in 1966 – 50 years ago….

It takes 66 House votes – the number that Rosenberger will have – to pass a bill as an emergency measure. That may seem like inside baseball, but for this: Voters can’t challenge emergency measures in statewide referenda. If Republicans could’ve passed union-busting Senate Bill 5 as an emergency measure, voters couldn’t have killed SB 5 (as they did, resoundingly, in a 2011 referendum).

Source: Ohio Democrats find selves in tough spot

How does labor feel about that? Some labor groups even backed Portman in this election.

In the spring election, be it in May or March (I can’t remember, because they switch it up- and the Board of Elections site is worthless) the democrats will be selecting their new precinct captains and ward leaders. It only takes 5 signatures of registered dems to get on the ballot. It’s long overdue to throw out the stacked deck of patronage job holding precinct captains that keep allowing the Monarchy of Montgomery County to continue with their lame “leadership.”

This is also the year where three seats will come up on the Dayton City Commission- Mayor Whaley, Joey Williams and Jeff Mims. The question is who will really try to challenge them. Whaley raised half a million last time so she could raise your taxes, charge you for street lights, and raise your water and trash bill, while buying empty buildings and giving away Garden Station for $10. Williams has repeatedly won more votes than any other candidate, yet has done little but go with the flow. Mims, despite being a former educator, local and state school board educator- has zero problems allowing more tax abatement shortchange Dayton Public Schools.

But, consider everyone in the country who said Congress was broken, worthless and gridlocked, how many seats changed hands?

Case closed.

Dayton Issue 9- making poor people poorer

You know when Hillary Clinton said she was broke- and yet had million dollar homes?

That’s sort of how any smart Dayton voter would normally look at raising their taxes to pay for “city services”- which is what issue 9 is ostensibly all about.

Right after Queen Nan got herself elected with half-a-million dollars of OPM (other people’s money) to a job that only pays $45K a year- she promptly decided to add an assessment to every property owner in Dayton to replace all our street lights with high efficiency LED street lights- but, wait, isn’t that what we already pay taxes for?

Now, she knows that after the shopping spree that bought all the empty downtown buildings she could get her hands on- and gave away tax abatement to 80% of downtown property owners- directly hurting the Dayton Public Schools who get a majority of their funding from property taxes- she comes out with issue 9. And to bait and switch- she’s hitched her wagon to “the pre-school promise” which is supposed to miraculously improve our school performance on incoming kindergartners. Except- pre-school doesn’t do that for kids who have other issues- like extreme poverty.

And here lies the problem- for years, Daytonians have believed that you can tax income and since 70% of it is paid by people who live outside the city- who can’t vote, it’s like “free money.” Well, the problem is, if you do that, and jobs and businesses can’t move- no problem, but as we’ve seen- Austin Landing and Pentagon Parkway have filled with new office buildings– where the employees pay NO INCOME TAX AT ALL- at least as long as they work in tall buildings and wear a white collared shirt (Austin Landing is the most unfair, illegal, taxation district in the country- where only the little people who work at Kohl’s and Kroger pay taxes).

That’s why Nan can buy any office building she wants with your money so cheap- some businesses have abandoned downtown Dayton, and some have abandoned Dayton altogether- because they don’t want to operate in the County with the second highest tax burden in the State.

But- back to the pre-school promise. We already have “5 star preschools” – there are 14 of them, run by the elected group charged with education- the Dayton Board of Education. And while people complain they are only open 4 days a week- if Dayton gave them the $4.5 M a year that was going to go to the quasi-public “Learn to earn” people, they could be open a fifth day- and even afford transportation for those pre-schoolers. But, no, then we can’t hand 20% of that money each year to Nan’s friends- and let them spend it on overhead, their own paychecks and with pre-schools and daycare facilities that aren’t “5 Star”- and, there is no income restriction- so they could even pay for third shift daycare for kid that belongs to a doctor who works at Miami Valley Hospital.

If Nan truly cared about education- she wouldn’t have given tax abatement to General Electric, CareSource, Emerson, the list is long.

And, if you really wanted to see DPS improve- she could spend the $4.5M each year for 8 years- to build out citywide wi-fi that would get every single kid in DPS online at home- with their new 1-to-1 chromebook- so they could really teach themselves how to code, or open an online business, or take part in the global economy. And we could offer low price access to people to compete with Time Warner and ATT to the rest of the citizens- to help bridge the digital divide.

I’ve already pointed out that the average donation to the Political Action Committee shoving this down your throats was $1873. That the donors are all the people who will probably get some of this money back in contracts with the city- or services or tax abatement for their business.

Hell, we just gave CareSource half-a- million dollars today- despite the fact that their CEO makes $3 million a year- and it’s all paid with tax dollars from the feds.

We shouldn’t be taxing the poor people in Dayton to help CareSource, or General Electric, or create an alternative “board of pre-school education”- we should be spending money where it comes back to all of us- in services for all.

I filmed this video Wednesday afternoon, edited it Thursday, posted it on Facebook at 6pm last night and it had over 1,500 views inside of 16 hours.

Issue 9 is spending $35K on digital advertising. I haven’t spent a dime on advertising- but, if you want it to reach more people by election day- feel free to donate by sending money to [email protected] at paypal, or dropping off a check at 100 Bonner St Dayton Oh 45410.

It won’t take that much to get it in front of a whole lot of people- or you can just share it online. Watch and share.

Local media minimizes Occupy Dayton rally- while ignoring their role in the rally

In the same issue where they proudly show how much money is being spent with TV stations on Issue 5- they cut the number in half of the people in the protest:

Demonstrators allying themselves with protesters around the country who say they are fed up with corporate greed and perceived government indifference to Americans who aren’t wealthy and powerful, rallied Saturday on Courthouse Square in downtown Dayton.

At least 100 people, a few of whom wore Halloween-style masks, carried signs and chanted.

via Over 100 demonstrators join ‘Occupy Dayton’ rally.

Not that 200+ people at a rally is a huge achievement, but considering this is growing from nothing to something exponentially in a few weeks, I still think we may be witnessing the start of the 2nd American Revolution– Arab spring style.

I was interviewed by David and Audra Sparks of “The Dayton Informer” and you can see why I don’t get elected- I’m not a good soundbite guy. I’ve got a lot of respect for what these two are trying to do- providing an alternative video news outlet for Dayton. Without access to fiber, the major problem in doing this type of site is upload speeds. Just another way the media barons keep the competition at bay. Here’s the interview:

You can see the size of the crowd toward the end of the video, and it numbers well over 100.

Please consider donating to the Dayton Informer via paypal to [email protected] to help them continue to bring this kind of reporting to our community.

While the media still wants to mock the people for wearing Guy Fawkes masks, or not having a message, it’s pretty clear that our governor knows exactly who he wants to spend our tax dollars on: the very same corporations that already aren’t paying their fair share of taxes (and stop with the corporations don’t pay taxes, they pass it through to the consumers BS- they also spend quite a bit lobbying- to further unbalance the playing field), again, from today’s Dayton Daily News:

As promised, Gov. John Kasich is pursuing job creation at every turn, but his biggest successes have involved offering packages of more than $240 million in grants, loans and tax breaks to convince a handful of Ohio companies to sit tight or move just a few miles rather than pack up and leave the state.

via Kasich approves more than $240M packages to retain jobs.

Corporate welfare isn’t going to be so popular for very much longer. What was sad is that Mr. Sparks asked protesters yesterday if they knew local elected officials (with the exception of Dayton School Board members, William Schooler, Yvonne Isaacs and Stacy Thompson) all voted to give GE over $15 million in tax abatement just a few months ago, and the protesters had no idea.

Even though protesters are ill-informed, they won’t stay that way for long. Once they start really digging into how things got the way they have, we may be able to finally get a few constitutional amendments passed:

  • No more tax abatement at any level other than the national, unless broad policy is behind them (environmental protection).
  • Completely eliminate any private donations to political campaigns.

If the “Occupy” movement could just get these two things onto the ballot, we’d have a springboard for changing everything else.

There is one old adage that the media should remember when reporting on things like this movement, confounding their standards of clarification as part of the news gathering process: Never underestimate the power of stupid people in large groups.

They have changed the world before, and it could be starting now. As to why they are stupid- the mass media can blame themselves. The story has been out there for years, they’ve just failed to report it.

Ohio tax policies create sprawl & pit cities against each other

Common sense would tell you that when cities fight to give corporations the best deal, someone will pay, and yet, we needed a study to prove the obvious.

From the Cleveland Plain Dealer:

Ohio’s tax abatement programs, designed to keep businesses in the state, have failed Cleveland residents and those in the inner-ring suburbs by moving jobs away from the urban core to more affluent areas, said a report released Thursday.

Paid to Sprawl: Subsidized Job Flight from Cleveland and Cincinnati” found that 164 companies were given lucrative property tax breaks as they relocated facilities around within both metro areas.

The study by Washington, D.C.-based Good Jobs First, a nonprofit research center, said jobs were moved from areas that were more racially diverse, had higher concentrations of poverty and more plant closing to areas that were more affluent and often in the far reaches of the county.

The subsidized relocations affected 14,500 workers “and by many measures fueled suburban sprawl, especially in the Cleveland region,” the report said.

Greg LeRoy, one of the study’s authors and executive director of Good Jobs First, said 80 percent of the moves were to locations that had no access to public transportation. The group looked at 152 tax abatements that totaled about $29.7 million. Each abatement averaged $317,000 for each Cleveland facility and $223,00 per facility in Cincinnati. The relocations occurred between 1996 and 2005, but the group said most of these trends still continue.

To remedy some of the problems, Good Jobs First recommends:

• Governmental bodies adopt anti-poaching policies designed to discourage companies, municipalities or counties from competing with each other

• Revenue-sharing packages that include provisions that companies must move near public transportation

• A public records requirement that the costs and benefits of all economic deals be available online

Ken Montlack of the First Suburbs Consortium, who attended a press conference at Trinity Commons Thursday in which LeRoy unveiled the report, said little was new in the report, but the information was still valuable because it highlighted a longstanding problem.

He said he was going to lobby his group to recommend that a no-poaching agreement be a mandatory requirement of tapping a newly created $100 million economic development fund in Cuyahoga County.

“Let’s put some muscle in it,” Montlack said.

via Ohio’s tax policies encouraged sprawl and competition among communities to lure companies, report finds | cleveland.com.

The recommendations of this report won’t solve a damn thing. Companies will still look to shop for the most lucrative breaks, across state lines as well. It’s time for a total ban on all tax break ability except from the federal government based on broad goals such as energy independence.

Tax rate adjustments of any kind create winners and losers, and can create economic advantages, tilting the playing field. Examples of good types of tax breaks that help achieve national goals:

  • A walk-to-work tax break which would help create walkable communities. This cuts dependence on foreign energy, increases healthy lifestyles which, in turn, cut medical costs and reduce the cost of infrastructure repair.
  • Energy efficient buildings tax credits encourage conservation of resources, and reduce the impact of greenhouse gases on the environment.
  • Historic renovation and adaptive reuse of old buildings: cuts down the filling of landfills and preserves heritage.
  • Alternative green energy generation: credits for solar, wind and geothermal energy encourage renewable clean energy, cutting dependence on foreign energy.

Giving abatements willy nilly for job creation, job retention is capricious in nature and adds no long-term value to communities, since the moment they expire, there is no reason for the company not to move again- looking for a better deal. In Dayton we just gave a 30-year tax break to GE to research and make jet engines. Considering, the jet engine may be a thing of the past in 30 years, what will we get in year 31?

The “Paid to Sprawl” report does point to the economic divide between the winners and the losers in these tax break boondoggles. If there is one thing tax breaks have been proven to do, is make it so the rich pay less as a proportion of their income than the poor. The divide has continued to widen to a point where eventually, we will be faced with the same issues we’ve seen in the “Arab Spring” and the republic will fall. History has shown us this through the years.

We are living in an economy that is on the verge of collapse, while politicians point fingers about raising the debt ceiling. Our tax code is a mess. We’ve got more people in prison than any other “free society” in the world. Our schools are failing, out cities fighting to provide basic services, a health care system that’s six times more expensive than any other in the world- yet has higher infant mortality rates than a third world banana republic.

It’s time for a total overhaul of how government does business and how we choose our elected “representatives” who’ve given us this mess.

It’s time to call GE’s bluff- GE can afford taxes

GE pays no taxesThe Dayton Public School board is being rushed to vote to give away 15 years of taxes so that General Electric will pay UD payments in lieu of taxes.

The big question isn’t why, but is this legal? The Why is supposedly in the name of “economic development” so that GE won’t go somewhere else and build their fancy new office building with their “80 jobs.”

The question is- how can any legislator vote to release GE, a major government contractor, that spends tens of millions on lobbying, give them the right not to pay taxes without a serious problem with conflict of interest? This deal has GE making “payments in lieu of taxes” to a tax-exempt major Catholic university- UD. Since when did politicians have the right to direct money to private religious organizations? And, btw- the contract is all the way to 2041.

UD will get $373,041 per year for the first 15 years- or $5,595,610. That’s not exactly chump change.

This whole thing stinks.

Let’s also ask how our school board members may have conflicts in interest: Joe Lacey is a county employee, Sheila Taylor is a City of Dayton employee, and Ron Lee sits on the City Plan Board. Are these people able to act without pressure from their employers to do what is right for the schools? At a time when the school system is making cuts left and right- why should GE, a company that paid its CEO Jeff Immelt $15.2 million in 2010, get a hall pass on paying property taxes?

From the Dayton Daily News:

The school board is set to vote Tuesday on a resolution supporting the TIF. City Commission will vote Wednesday to convey the land to a limited liability company set up for the TIF, then vote next Wednesday on the TIF agreement itself, assistant city manager Shelley Dickstein said.

If the EPISCenter property — owned by the University of Dayton and located near the Dayton Marriott — is eventually worth the $20 million that city and county officials project, its annual property tax bill based on today’s rates would be about $645,000.

Dayton Public Schools would normally receive about 65 percent of those property taxes, meaning the schools would be sacrificing $420,000 per year for the first 15 years of the TIF deal.

GE spokeswoman Jennifer Villarreal said the Dayton project was possible only after “significant collaboration” between UD, GE, Dayton, the county and state and CityWide Development Corporation.

Other groups that would lose future tax revenue due to the TIF are the Human Services levy fund ($95,000 annually), the city of Dayton ($70,000), and Sinclair, MetroParks, Montgomery County and the Library system ($10,000 to $25,000 each annually).

“In order to compete with some of the suburban proposals, which included a 15-year, 100 percent tax abatement, we (also) structured the first 15 years as a 100 percent tax-free period,” Dayton assistant city manager Shelley Dickstein said.

via Dayton city schools plan?15-year tax break for GE.

We’ve already seen the beauty of a previous Shelley Dickstein deal- in the Wayne Avenue Kroger debacle, where the city spent millions of dollars to secure a site that Kroger backed out on. There was no hold-harmless clause in the contract to hold Kroger liable if they didn’t perform- the same is missing from this GE deal.

Oh, but GE promises to provide “in kind services to support our students”- but not in writing.

In fact- the promises GE makes are all pretty vague- other than to be able to set their payment schedule for the next 30 years-  without having to renegotiate, or revalue the property, or the taxes due. Why isn’t this option offered to every single business in Dayton? Or is it only to companies who don’t pay any federal taxes- despite being able to pay their CEO a ton of cash.

Here is a mention in the timeline – with no contractual obligation: “GE Aviation will assign an Education Leader for the Dayton area to work with DPS’ next Associate Director of Career Technical Education to begin developing new programs”

The mechanism being used is a TIF- which is covered by ORC 5709.41 section C, wherein a municipal corporation may exempt up to 75% of the real property taxes due on a project that is declared to be an improvement for public purposes for a period of ten years without approval from the local school district- yet with approval from a school district can be increased up to 100% of the real estate taxes and extended to thirty years.

Of course, “an improvement for public purposes” is hard to define- other than the claim that this will bring income tax revenue in. Yet- income tax revenue isn’t spent on schools- which are a necessity last I checked.

GE is getting a four-story building containing approximately 138,355 square feet of rentable space comprised of approximately 51,125 square feet of office space and approximately 87,230 square feet of lab space. It will be owned by 111 River Park LLC and leased to GE Aviation Systems LLC – the true value of this will be $19,200,000 considering the “special purpose nature of the proposed building although the construction costs may be considerably higher.” Read that as- this building isn’t worth as much to anyone else- so we shouldn’t have to pay taxes on what it’s worth- yeah, huh. Try using that same excuse on your house (actually, Raj Soin tried that on his mansion in Greene County- and lost).

The city does take care of the unions for the construction of the building- forcing prevailing wage:

To the extent required by law, Owner agrees that all wages paid to laborers and mechanics employed to construct the Building shall be paid, as required by Chapter 4115 of the Ohio Revised Code, at the prevailing rates of wages of laborers and mechanics for the classes of work called for by the Building, which wages shall be determined in accordance with the requirements of Chapter 4115 of the Ohio Revised Code for determination of prevailing wage rates.

And despite all the mumbo jumbo in the contract- mostly about the value and the waiving of taxes- there is nothing requiring GE to employ a single person- at any wage rate. So the question really becomes- what is the “public purpose” of this deal?

There is an out:

SECTION 12. Severability. Should any portion of this Agreement be declared by a court of competent jurisdiction to be unconstitutional, invalid or otherwise unlawful, such decision shall not effect the entire agreement but only that part declared to be unconstitutional, invalid or illegal and this Agreement shall be construed in all respects as if any invalid portions were omitted.

Which basically says- we screwed up- it’s just because we missed something- and not our fault. Yep- like the requirement to give something tangible back to the city for this sweetheart deal?

I read over 90 pages that were supplied to me from internal sources on this deal- and nowhere did I see a requirement of GE to employ anyone- or create new jobs, or generate tax revenue in any way.

There is no reason for the Dayton Public School Board to grant this abatement, nor is there justification for the City Commission to sign off on this deal.

The only thing that should be done at this point is to put Shelley Dickstein and the entire bunch of “economic development” honchos on the stand and have them state under oath what the “public purpose” is on this deal- and how it is legal to have a government funnel funds in lieu of taxes into a Catholic university’s coffers.

If this deal goes away- the only loser is UD. If it does get done, the loser is every single Dayton Public School student for the next 15 years and 25% of them for the next 15 years after that. Also- it is patently unfair that any business has to pay property taxes in the City of Dayton if this deal is offered to GE but not to any other business. It shouldn’t be legal for the idiots we elect today to create financial trauma for the idiots we elect in the future.

To the DPS board and the Dayton City Commission: vote no. Make GE pay. You’ll be heroes. GE can’t walk away from this deal over what is rounding error on the financial statements. Even if our members of congress can’t stand up to GE- you can. Jeff Immelt can explain how he pulled out to Michelle Obama- who may consider the education of poor black children more important than subsidizing Boeing’s next jet engine.