The “free ride” that’s costing taxpayers. Stop shifting the blame.

Most of the taxpayers in Montgomery County couldn’t tell you how many ice rinks there are in the county. But I can.

  • 2 at Harra arena, Winterland and the Arena. Privately owned.
  • 1 at Kettering Recreation Center. Publicly owned.
  • 1 at South Metro. Privately owned.
  • 3/4 of one at Riverscape. Publicly owned
  • 1 in Randy Gunlock’s back yard, complete with Zamboni. Privately owned and not open to the public.

If you owned South Metro, which sites on the end of a small business park cul de sac behind Wright Brothers municipal airport, you’d be a bit worried if the guy with the rink in his back yard was wining and dining the public officials to use tax dollars to subsidize a new rink that will put you out of business.

We now learn that Gunlock flew up a bunch of public employees to Michigan on a private jet. Two of them, Miami Township Trustee Mike Nolan and Township Administrator Greg Hanahan violated Ohio Ethics Law for public officials and now the taxpayers are going to be on the hook for $8000.  Excuse me, but when people break the law, they pay for it, not the public.

I’ll give you an example for comparison. Former Wright State University basketball coach Ralph Underhill (RIP) was caught and prosecuted for shoplifting around $40 of stuff from Meijer- he was prosecuted and fired from his job.

Why are Nolan and Hanahan not being prosecuted and fired. Ignorance of the law is no excuse. However, when it comes to dealing with the 1% in the United States this is becoming the norm- Wall Street Bankers pillage the economy, bankrupt their firms, while stealing millions or billions for themselves in pay, stock, options and benefits and they get bailed out by the taxpayers.

Are you sick of this? The only reason why our public officials don’t prosecute and convict either their own- Hanahan and Nolan, or Gunlock for racketeering, is because their political campaigns depend on the generosity of people like Gunlock who are de facto, responsible for their positions of power. Unfortunately, the campaign finance disclosure laws are hodge podge- we can see the Federal donations, but can’t link to them for Randall Gunlock- where from 1999-to current, he’s “invested” $69,950

Go here: http://www.fec.gov/finance/disclosure/norindsea.shtml type in Randall Gunlock. Then try just Gunlock and you find, Glenn O., Glenn C., Jill and Sandra, all also funneling money. All connected. We don’t have an easy to search database from the Ohio Elections Commission, so it’s impossible to see how much money the Gunlocks “invest” in local candidates. This is why we need to either take the money out of politics or only allow donations to go through a blind.
From the Dayton Daily News:

The developer of the multimillion-dollar Austin Landing project flew two Miami Twp. officials at his expense to Muskegon, Mich., in 2011, to scout out an arena similar to what the developer wants to build in the Dayton area.

The trustees said Thursday they plan to reimburse RG Properties for costs for the trip after a Dayton Daily News investigation informed them the May 10 trip apparently violated the Ohio Ethics Law for public officials.

Trustee Mike Nolan, who rode on the chartered flight with Township Administrator Greg Hanahan, said he will ask the township to pay RG Properties for their travel costs.

Developer Randy Gunlock said he estimated that the flight cost $8,000, though the township’s exact expense has not been finalized. “We’re going to ask Randy Gunlock to send us a bill. We’ll pay the bill,” Nolan said.

Nolan said he and Hanahan flew with Gunlock and two Miami University officials: Rico Blasi, the RedHawks’ hockey coach; and Steve Cady, a former Miami hockey and soccer coach and now a senior associate athletic director and assistant vice president of finance and business services….

Ohio ethics law prohibits public officials from accepting travel or other things of value from companies or individuals involved in business with the local government, said Paul Nick, executive director of the Ohio Ethics Commission.

Nick declined to comment on this case, but added that public officials “shouldn’t be accepting material things of value” from anyone doing business with the township.

Officials thought free flight was OK…

Nolan, a former chief deputy with the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office, said he asked and was told by Hanahan there was no potential conflict of interest by taking the flight. Hanahan, who is also a German Twp. trustee, has not been available for comment.

The trip came as Gunlock said he was hoping to convince the trustees to form a public-partnership to build an arena on 68 acres owned by the township east of the Austin Boulevard interchange and just north of the Dayton Wright Brothers Airport.

Gunlock questioned whether such trips should violate Ohio law. “If the argument goes you’re not supposed to be doing these types of things, we’ll stop,” he said.

Trustee Deborah Preston said she was unaware of the Muskegon flight. “I’m certain our residents would be upset by a trustee and administrator taking a corporate jet plane ride and then voting to give RG Properties $14.5 million. It doesn’t pass the smell test,” Preston said.

Trustee Charlie Lewis said he supported the Michigan trip in the interest of attracting economic development, but added, “We probably won’t do it anymore if that’s what the statute says.”

On Nov. 8, the trustees voted 2-1 — with Preston opposing — to invest $14.5 million in RG Properties’ second phase to develop east of the interchange. This brings the township’s investment for a park, ice rink, roads and other infrastructure to $23.5 million.

RG Properties has committed to spend $55 million on the project’s second phase, running its total investment to $109 million.

Township officials said they expect to retire their debt through tax incremental financing on the improvements.

Public and private money invested at the new interchange is expected to exceed $200 million.

via Developer paid for officials’ flight to scout arena.

For every tax dollar “invested” in “public/private” partnerships in the name of “economic development” there are winners and losers and the playing field tilts. Put yourself in the shoes of the people who own the South Metro ice rink, who pay their employees, pay taxes and have their life savings invested in the business. How would you feel if the government takes your hard-earned tax dollars and shares them with a very wealthy man to build a brand new ice rink less than a mile from yours- which will put you out of business?

Is this how our tax dollars should be spent? Taken from the masses and given to the few who can afford to give our politicians who’ve been corrupted by having to raise money well in excess of their salaries to run for office to watch over our tax dollars? This is called either “corporate welfare” or “crony capitalism” at best, and stealing from the poor to give to the rich if you want to make it very clear.

This is the root of what the Occupy movement was protesting. It’s why I believe we’ll never have an honest America until we publicly fund elections. It happens at all levels of government and it is no different than the “taxation without representation” that jump started the American Revolution and our country.

Meet the new kings of America. They own our politicians. They live in our community. They are costing us a fortune.

Also note, one of my opponents in the primary, Sharen Neuhardt is part of the 1%, and a partner in the law firm Thompson Hine, which recently abandoned offices downtown for space in Mr. Gunlock’s new “public/privately” financed/subsidized office space at Austin Landing.

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6 Responses

  1. Hall February 11, 2012 / 10:48 am
    Nolan says he’ll ask the township to pay the costs. If the township’s “board” or some group there gave the okay, I’m not sure he and the other guy should be personally responsible. Should they know the rules ? Yes, but I’ll bet there’s no system in place that teaches them these rules. Now, if they were part of a back-room deal with Gunlock, they’d better get out their personal checkbooks ! 

    Then, we have Trustee Lewis who says they’ll “probably” stop doing these things !! Thinking before speaking isn’t a requirement for public office, eh ??

    Finally David, are you in contact with Trustee Preston ? :-) 

  2. David Esrati February 11, 2012 / 11:10 am

    @Hall- as far as I know, there are many opportunities to learn the laws for elected officials, and that if they manage to get through the requirements of campaign finance rules- they should damn well know you can’t take free trips.

    The township/tax payers shouldn’t have to pay for this. End of story. When now, Secretary of State got caught taking private jets to see Ohio State in a bowl game, he paid out of his pocket.

    Trustee Lewis doesn’t get it.

    I’ve never met Trustee Preston.

  3. David Lauri February 11, 2012 / 1:07 pm
    Hall asks, “Should they know the rules?”
     
    Shouldn’t elected officials be held to a higher, rather than a lower, standard than the average citizen?  What’s that old saying: Ignorance of the law is no excuse.  Does that not apply to elected officials?
  4. Hall February 13, 2012 / 3:13 pm
    David, you said “I’ve never met Trustee Preston” but what I mean is, you should make sure to get in contact with her ! Make sure a fuss is made about this situation. I suspect that expenses under some dollar amount can be approved without the township’s board’s approval so maybe this will be paid quietly. It would be interesting if this req’d a majority vote by that board though.

    I’ve seen nothing else about this story since though…. :-( 

  5. David Esrati February 13, 2012 / 4:35 pm

    @Hall- I’m sure she read this- but, I’ll try to find some time to get in contact with her. Thanks

  6. Ice Bandit February 13, 2012 / 11:27 pm
     
    Most of the taxpayers in Montgomery County couldn’t tell you how many ice rinks there are in the county. But I can. (David Esrati)
     
    …how many ice rinks in the country? Not nearly enough…

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