The quasi governmental slush fund

It used to be illegal to pass tax dollars off to private enterprise and to compete with private enterprise, so a whole breed of new quasi-governmental slush funds were contrived. These were kept off the public books- even though they were using public money.

Citywide Development was one of the first organizations of this type, but then came the Downtown Dayton Partnership and the Dayton Development Coalition. Each with progressively higher salaries for their “executives” – higher than the people who were supposed to be running the city.

Both Ed Armentrout and Maureen Pero who ran the Downtown Dayton Partnership collected more cash and benny’s than the City Manager- who had a much larger budget, staff and responsibility. No worries though, they were going to “save downtown” jobs. The only ones they saved were their own.

Armentrout later got his commensurate when his snake oil routine ran into real journalists in Memphis. Pero moved on to bigger and better paydays at CareSource- home of the $3 million dollar a year CEO (running the new form of quasi-government, the sole source contractor for distributing Federal money).

Better late than never, the Dayton Daily News finally realized that CityWide, with it’s purse filled annually by the citizens of Dayton via their tax dollars, actually should report back on what they do with our money:

The top executive for a development organization launched by the city of Dayton and that does business on the city’s behalf has disclosed his salary after having declined to do so in March.

Steve Budd, president of CityWide Development, said in a July 9 interview his base salary is $138,424, roughly 10 percent of the $1.4 million budgeted in 2009 for CityWide salaries. Dayton City Manager Tim Riordan’s base salary is $145,537.

CityWide, a nonprofit that describes itself as the city’s development arm,

via CityWide president’s salary similar to city manager’s.

And if they are the “economic development arm” – could someone please tell us what Shelly Dickstein does? Do we really need two economic development departments? Especially when you read the following and follow both the money- and the logic:

The nonprofit has been around since the early 1970s. As president, Budd has participated in the city’s most significant development projects in the last decade: RecPlex, Tech Town, the Genesis Project, and the Phoenix Project. Many businesses in the Oregon District have received small business loans from CityWide.

CityWide has received more than $20 million in city contracts

“They develop their own projects, and the city gets behind those it’s interested in,” said Paul Woodie, a retired city administrator who helped create CityWide in the early 1970s to function as an economic development engine within the city’s limits. “The city doesn’t have the people anymore, the resources or mental capacity to do it on their own, (to) get that major third-party partner.”

Apparently- we do have the money- $20 million would have gone a long way to paying for police and fire contracts- but, apparently we don’t have leaders with brains enough – I’ll repeat Paul Woodie for emphasis “The city doesn’t have the people anymore, the resources or mental capacity to do it on their own, (to) get that major third-party partner.”

Could that be sour grapes, since Woodie left city hall without sitting in the captains chair, or just the analysis of the last smart man who left the city while the going was good. Woodie is a smooth political operator- who almost always gives to all viable candidates running- covering both sides just in case.

When you read the list of projects that CityWide has backed- it’s no wonder that CityWide has a great relationship with Premier Health Partners and UD- since the Phoenix and Genesis projects both helped raise property values in their areas. We also need answers if CityWide has to follow the same bid process and requirements that the city has to follow in awarding contracts.

Since CityWide seems to think that they can operate off book, one also wonders if there is any penalty for failure- or is that just another excuse to reach into the public till?

When I first moved into the city in 1986, CityWide had a reputation for doing hatchet jobs on homes in the neighborhood.There was no worse epitaph than saying “it’s a CityWide house.” They were also involved in the projects in Wright Dunbar- where we spent over a million dollars on four homes that were sold for about half that.

If government spent as much time working on delivering top quality government services as they did playing shell games in the name of “economic development” maybe we’d have built a sustainable economic ecosystem instead of a dysfunctional one that depends on corporate welfare and a whole load of bureaucratic overhead that’s main goal is to divert tax dollars into the hands of the friends of the politicians we elect.

Don’t believe it? Start looking at who the major donors to our elected officials have been- the picture should be very clear. That is if the electorate has the “mental capacity” to connect the dots.

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