- Esrati - https://esrati.com -

The dilemma of the friends and family plan comes to light

Karen Wick Gagnet and Jim Gagnet are like family to me. I’ve known them for over 20 years. I’ve watched in amazement as Jim has set his sights on redevelopment and done things that others wouldn’t even dream of. The list of his successes is formidable. At one point, he was teamed up with Tom Tornatore and they tried to rehab almost all of the Oregon business district single handedly. They ended up in bankruptcy when local lenders didn’t have the balls or vision to see what these two were up to. The buildings that house the 5th St. Wine and Deli, Roost Modern Italian, Luckys, the Samu (which has Press, Sew Dayton and  Pulse) and Johnston (with Clash Consignments) were all part of their “empire” as was the Diner- now Vex.

Jim shook off that fall, and started back. The derelict building in South Park without a roof- at 412 Hickory was his next major project. He paid $30K for a building that had negative value. He rebuilt the roof, the floors, the windows- all from cash since no bank would lend. He also took on building Coco’s number 2 on Wayne Avenue- most of which was built with his own sweat equity.

They hired my firm- The Next Wave [1] to develop the identity, the ads, the menu design. We built their website, I was even involved with the architectural plans. They’ve been good clients for a long time.

Now, they are being drawn and quartered on the front page of the Dayton Daily news for getting preferential treatment by the city. Lots they’ve bought had been dumped on, and may have even contained some of the materials from their rehab of adjoining homes. From the DDn:

City Public Works Director Fred Stovall said the Coco’s owners called city Street Maintenance Supervisor Jim Brinegar directly and asked for the cleanup; he stressed it was for their residential property, not their business. Brinegar OK’d it, and the city hauled off roughly eight truckloads of trash.

Last Wednesday, the crew came back for another pile. At least five city workers were at the site, along with two city dump trucks and a city front-loader, which was scooping up blocks of concrete.

Stovall said city workers hauled away another eight truckloads that day, but he put a stop to it when contacted by the Daily News. He estimates the roughly 16 truckloads at two cleanups cost the city about $2,600.

via City cleans up private property for Coco’s Bistro owner | www.mydaytondailynews.com [2].

To many in Dayton, this is an insult. Repeated calls about dumping are often ignored. Alleys and empty lots in other areas of the city are ignored. But, this is Dayton, where we have no problem shooting anyone in the back who dares to do anything other than what the herd mentality rewards.

The reality is, if our city were working properly, we wouldn’t be a dumping ground. The other reality is, Nan Whaley has fundraisers at Coco’s. We do take care of those who take care of our politicians. But, even if the bill was $5,000 or $10,000 this is a bogus chump change argument- a public lynching of good people for the benefit of selling papers (notice I don’t call it a newspaper).

The City Commission gave UPS a buyout of a lease that was to run through 2019- with annual revenue to the city of almost $2 million a year, as well as the requirement to maintain the old Emery Air Freight hub in pristine, operational condition. The city took the net present value, or about $7 million as a buyout. The commission then gave away half of it- to IRG- carpetbaggers from California- and a three-year lease on the property which is due to expire in the spring of next year. IRG then proceeds to scrap  everything of value in the building to put more money in their pockets, lets the facility go to hell, and has next to nothing to show for it.

That didn’t make the front page of the paper. Let’s see- $3,000 is iTeam worthy- but $3 million+ isn’t?

I don’t think that the city should have cleared the private lots based on published city policy. When my neighbor Rodney bought the dump  of a house next to my cottages for tax value, he’s had to pay for all the debris hauling- and he’s still being charged taxes at the same rate as I am for my cottages- despite the fact his has no utilities and is falling apart. We need to provide fair and honest service to our citizens, regardless of who you know, and how much money you have. It’s the American way.

Had it not been for the Gagnets, the city would still have a bunch of under-utilized empty buildings- not just on Warren street, but in the Oregon District as well. They are the real champions of economic development- and they deserve not to be prosecuted in the court of public opinion because our city is run by petty criminals who take care of themselves and those they like- with the  infamous friends and family plan.

I often get told that my lack of tact makes me unacceptable as a candidate for commission. I believe in open, honest discussion of issues, and stick to the facts, the truth and look at things from an objective point of view. This is an incredibly hard post to publish. It’s also risking a client. There are no other candidates who will touch this with a 10-foot pole, or open their sites up to comments and discussion- I do, I always have, and I always will. You don’t have to like me, or my positions, but I promise one thing, you will respect me for not playing favorites or ducking the hard subjects. Thank you for reading.

If you enjoyed this post, make sure you subscribe to my RSS feed [3]! If you wish to support this blog and independent journalism in Dayton, consider donating [4]. All of the effort that goes into writing posts and creating videos comes directly out of my pocket, so any amount helps!
Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Pat Merris

David, Great idea for an incentive and the time limit of 30 days is good. Would you propose a small grace period to give the buyer time for logistics planning say 7 business days so the full 30 days can be used for actual removal? 


Not a bad idea assuming it allows for disposal of everything that is not hazardous.  
We bought a house that came with a complimentary room full of water soaked junk in the basement.  After several weeks of full garbage cans, we eventually got it cleaned out.  I also recently heard about a neighbor who is moving out after 40+ years in her home.  It’s a huge house.  I’m told that there is stuff on the unused third floor that dates back to the previous residents.  
In run down conditions the credit would be great for development, but even in maintained homes, it would be a nice gesture to help new owners remove the remnants from previous occupants.

Rob Vigh

Given 2 identical properties with a single difference. 1 is clean, 1 is full of material requiring disposal. Would you pay the same for both? The cost of renovation, renewal and cleaning should be part of the purchase price. Why would the city pay part of the cleanup tab for a private property?


In all fairness, I do not see how the DDN was trying to draw and quarter the owners.  It was plainly stated that they did nothing wrong; the mistake was the city’s.  Nothin’ to see here folks, move along.


Robert Vigh, because your common sense approach does not take into consideration that taxpayers should support those who don’t want to earn and spend their own money on their own needs. Are you new here? ;)


If I’m looking at buying a particular house, and the basement or attic is full of old crap, my purchase offer would be contingent on the removal of said crap before my 24-hour walk-through inspection. Cleaning out someone else’s private junk is not the role of government. And paying for the removal of someone else’s private junk is not a burden any taxpayer should be asked to bear.


I’m a tad confused…why would the Gagnets even think to call the City for a service that supposedly  is for their “personal” property?   I’m betting that this trash haul for their other investments – the apartments next to CoCo’s on Warren.  So calling it “personal property” is a slight misnomer – it is another business property, just not one that the public may enter like a restaurant.  And I really don’t care if they plan on living in the apartments – the Gagnets knew that 16 truck loads was well beyond bulk-pick-up policy. 
So why would the Gagnets even think for one minute that the City would even entertain this lark?  Why would the City do it knowing what financial crisis Dayton, as most cities, are in currently?   I mean if I own a vacant lot that needs to be mowed but my mower doesn’t work – why would I call the City to do it?
What other “little” hand outs are going on here involving the Gagnet’s and others like them?
Sorry I can’t help but think that this is related to the cozy $125K grant that the City gave them for the “new” CoCo’s. 
DE you rail about how people get preferential treatment in govt, both local and federal, yet you have turned a blind eye to someone you have know for 20 years.  Because Jim did restoration in the OE and lost his shirt – well that how capitalism works.  Win some, lose some. 
You may lose your business office.  I bet a $125K grant might come in handy right now.
This is quite possibly the most hypocritical post you have done in along time.

Rob Vigh

I just want to boil down what you said to its most basic form: Taking part of my income to clean other peoples property is to my benefit. Said another way: Taking my wealth and transferring it to someone else, is to my benefit. I would much rather keep my money. Or, wait until the other property had dropped in value enough that I would buy it. As, I am able to clean it up more efficiently and effectively. Not too mention, if I get it at a discount, then I essentially get paid for my work of cleaning.


This is without question a case of them knowing the right people and getting special treatment.
What I’d like to know is, how did WHIO get out there so quickly and why would they ? 
David: You’re still trying to give them a free pass because they’re clients…. I guess you can’t admit that they’ve joined the “friends and family plan”. Don’t try and downplay it because this was a couple thousand dollars worth of work vs tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands or more that others get. It’s about principle, not a dollar amount.

Terry Welker

Despite the preferential treatment, the neighborhood is improved for everyone’s effort.  The intentions were good but the process was a little subverted.  As for the Gagnet’s they weren’t “drawn a quartered”….that’s an overs statement.  If anyone made a procedural mistake it was the City of Dayton.  The City is often criticized for not doing enough to help in these situations so frankly I’m happy to see these kind public/private cooperations.  If Coco’s got the good end of the deal, they probably deserved it.
However, despite all the drama on the use of tax dollars, the real jerks in the story are the unnamed pitiful people who insist on dumping their trash and debris in streets, vacant properties etc. for all the good people and taxpayers to clean up.  That’s where the anger and real questions should be directed.
Thanks for the interesting topic DE.


Whaley ? Williams ? Who brought them up ? Way to stay focused….


Robert Vigh insists that if government takes some of his money, he gets no benefit.  The only way he benefits is if he keeps all his own money and spends it at his own discretion.

In the real world, if the city cleans up a derelict property, it maintains or increases property values for all of us.  It also promotes public safety and public health.  The answer to “who knows better how to spnd your hard-earned money, you or the government?” is “the government” based on the personal financial choices of the majority of Americans–does an average credit-card debt of $20K and ridiculous student loan amounts sound like good use of money to you?
Now, if the Gagnets are in fact piling up more reno waste on those properties already, that’s something they’re doing wrong, and the city should do some notifying (to start).

Bill Davidson

Rob Vigh, you regularly complain about redistribution of your wealth by government and how it treads on your freedom.  Do you support the idea of a US citizen filing for bankruptcy in our federal courts?  Be careful how you answer, a quick PACER search already paints you as a hypocrite.  To the naive and narcissistic observer, bankruptcy may simply appear like a redistribution of wealth by government, much in the way rehabilitation of derelict properties does.
As truddick points out, it’s government’s role to act in the interest of us all when an individual or few cannot or are unwilling.  

[…] the same day the “iTeam” blows a mole hill into a mountain with the $3000 trash pickup, the “market vice president” Julia Wallace sent out the following request for about 22 […]

Rob Vigh

Hello Bill,
I declared Bankruptcy about 12 years ago to discharge a debt between myself and private parties. Of which both all us entered into a contract knowing that bankruptcy could be an option for either party. So, my utilization of a law makes me a hypocrite how exactly? I think this is way off topic, and I would first have to understand how fighting for your liberty and me using the court system to settle a disagreement between Chase and I are related.
Truddick: Increasing my property value is great! If I am selling. If I would rather have my money for my grandchildren and am OK with a low property value………….well that should be my choice. But, according to you the government should assign to me my values. I want to live in shambles so that I may contribute every single penny I have to cancer research in the hopes of improving the life of my niece. To you, that is an unacceptable value. Best to improve my property value. Not for you to decide, not for government to decide. Those things should be for me to decide.
It was really not my intent to get deeply philosophical about a city program cleaning up trash. I just wish people would at least recognize it for what it is. It is generally a bad idea that has a basis in redistribution.

Bill Rain

This used to be a service the city provided in targeted neighborhoods.  We used 3 truck loads at our first McPherson Town house in 1990.  McPherson Town made it fun to have “Gutting Parties” and this was a great service and alot of houses got renovated.  I never viewed this as a redistribution of wealth only saving neighborhods others had abandoned…

Gary Leitzell

We can put up a camera to catch the illegal dumpers. If the Gagnets are themselves the dumpers then they can pay the $38 a ton disposal fee. Bulk pick up is not designed to handle construction material. That is what we have dumpsters for. I use them every time we did a major deconstruction. You can also buy large bags at the big box retailers that Waste Management handles called the “bagster” which I wrote a blog post on in 2011.
This is an affordable alternative to renting the roll out dumpsters. I do not condone this behavior if it is the Gagnets and any member of the commission who does should be asked why and then held accountable. Paying the tipping fee would be the very least they could do. The City prides itself on treating people fairly. Treating some more fairly than others is an abuse of power. It does happen because of party connections and favors owed but I can state that I have never demonstrated favoritism to anyone. Except Mr. Esrati of course! He does make good pancakes …..


In the last few months I have put many hours into cleaning out a house in the area. I have spent hundreds to have trash hauled away never expecting help from the city. Every week I would fill my trash cans to take advantage of what my tax money pays for “trash collection”.  One week I was surprised to see my cans left full on the curb by the city. After calling the city about the trash collection I was informed that only kitchen scraps can be collected and that the old clothes in the cans where probably the reason the cans where not taken. 
I may not be investing as much as Cocos in the neighborhood but the least the city could do is to take the darn cans I put out. If budget is available to provide extra trash services I agree with othere’s input….”it should be available equally for all tax payers”.