Why Nan Whaley is dangerous – the shrinking cities fallacy

The check Nan Whaley got for $5,000 from a Westerville demolition contractor should have been the first indication. The rush to spend money tearing down houses and create “land banks” makes the rich happy- while screwing the poor. The free market economy doesn’t work- as long as you have the government stepping in, and taking the low-cost housing options off the market- and replacing them with fantasy homes for the “New Urbanist – Creative Class” while forgetting about those who want to work, and live in the homes they own.

First I highly recommend reading the entire article from the Huffington Post- sent to me by a reader- Terri L.:

To understand the crisis, we must embrace the fact that the “experts” behind Shrinking Cities never offered a roadmap to prosperity; what they designed was a plan for development’s opposite.

Rust-belt politicians funded short-term city tax revenues at the cost of long-term regional development. They expropriated the resources of ordinary people, permanently setting back decades of national investment in education and housing.

Across the Rust Belt, Americans with money misunderstood the nature of development. Dystopian city planners believed that in economic collapse, only the elite would survive. They betted (sic) on an economy in which their best possible strategy was to convince working-class people to move away. Their vision was short-sighted and their sense of justice clouded.

Economic policy is not only a matter of the developer and the dollar. It is also a matter of participation in a market where ordinary people have a chance at employment.

The culprits for the current depression are more numerous than the mortgage vendors and Wall Street bankers who profited from it. The deeper culprits are the economists and politicians who sold a plan for fake development to city governments across the nation.

via Jo Guldi: The Anti-Development Crisis: Who’s Really to Blame for Lost Jobs This Christmas.

While I may not have the answers on how to fix up every home in Dayton- I don’t believe that spending our tax dollars to tear things down is as good as spending them to build things up- for all of us- not just the developers who gave to the campaign:

City commissioners gave a local developer approval to build 18 condominiums near Fifth Third Field, a $3 million project that could be a tipping point to ease the lack of downtown housing.

Commissioners approved a $300,000 grant Wednesday to Charles Simms Development, which will pay for soil remediation on the planned site at First Street and Patterson Boulevard.

Charles Simms, president of the company, said he hopes to have nine single-family condos priced from $140,000 to $160,000 available for purchase by the end of the year.

Construction on the condos, each featuring 1,400 square feet of space, will likely begin in June, he said.

There are no environmental concerns with the soil, but Simms said he wants to bring in new dirt.

He expects to have another nine units built in 2012 on the one-acre site known as Patterson Square.

Mayor Gary Leitzell said downtown’s occupancy rate is about 93 percent and the Simms development is a “great thing for Dayton.”…

Citywide, the city’s quasi-public economic development arm, also agreed to lend Simms $100,000 for the project.

via Condo project near Fifth Third Field wins City Commission OK.

To do the simple math- that’s $33,333 for each of the 9 homes. Even if he builds the other 9 as promised- that’s still $16,666 per home.  In a city where we are spending somewhere around $12,000 each to tear down old homes. That’s not even including the extra $100,000 that Citywide (our quasi-governmental slush fund) is throwing Mr. Simms’ way.

If we had spent the money on good neighborhood schools, adequate police protection, good parks- maybe we’d have people still living in the neighborhoods we are tearing down. We have no plan. We have no respect for the hard-working people who paid their taxes for schools and services- and instead, fund the dreams of kings.

Never mind- this property was part of the botched Deb Feldman fiasco where we overpaid for the old Sears property from a group that included her husband and father-in-law- so we could put one of the Riverscape Fountains on a remote parking lot. Bad investment on top of bad investment- making the rich richer.

That’s what “economic development” means today.

When we stop handing tax dollars over to political donors- we may start getting somewhere.

Let’s also hope there is a non-performance clause attached to this grant- if 18 homes aren’t built- the money comes back (so we don’t have another “Kroger deal.”)


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35 Responses

  1. Greg Hunter April 7, 2011 / 12:14 pm
    Paving over farmland and putting up crap shacks, while simultaneously tearing down perfectly good structures is called Progess! Ask any developer or their lapdogs the elected official at all levels. Like a plague of locusts!

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  2. Robert Vigh April 7, 2011 / 1:04 pm
    You are writing of treating the symptoms ” When we stop handing tax dollars over to political donors- we may start getting somewhere.” When we should be treating the disease. The disease is the scope of government. It will always sway back and forth from corrupt to content, always inefficient and generally lousy. The only honest, true cure, is a very strict limited government that is only meant to function in very defined ways. Its largess and broad intervention on everything lends itself to corruption. 

    For example: Demolition crews filter money to politicians who create programs to fund demolition companies. Well, what are they demolishing? Government owned property. How did the government acquire the property? Why are they in the property business? Why are they even involved in this type of decision making? Is this their purpose? etc. etc. 

    Increase private property rights in Dayton to cure Dayton.

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  3. jstults April 7, 2011 / 2:51 pm
    …nine single-family condos priced from $140,000 to $160,000 available for purchase by the end of the year.

    WTF?  Nice single family homes (not glorified apartments) with twice the square footage available in our historic neighborhoods right now for less than that…
    Maybe I underestimate the premium on being able to stumble home after a Dragons game?

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  4. gary April 7, 2011 / 5:10 pm
    Why not build businesses where the demolitions occur, and create jobs!

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  5. Civil Servants Are People, Too April 7, 2011 / 6:16 pm
    I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again.  It’s a supply and demand problem.   If you want to save your city you have to attack one or the other – or both.

    Downtown, reportly, has good occupancy rates which suggests a demand for more units.     With a little help from the City, the market is responding.    In a smaller city with only moderate demand, the subsidy is necessary to cover construction costs and allow for a modest profit.    Otherwise, it doesnt’ happen.   That’s your gap.

    Demolitions are typically abandonded properties.   Held by people who are dead, missing, or simply bankrupt with no hope of bringing that property back.   The values are so low in some (not all) areas that no sane or responsible investor would buy them.   

    If you want it, go get it – there are tools to foreclose on taxes and liens.   Call the County or a city planner.   The historic districts see this activity.   Otherwise, the market so far has mostly said, no thanks.    (with some exceptions, of course).   

    On the other hand, a typical empty house becomes vandalized (or burned) and drags down the rest of the neighborhood.   It would be insane not to tear it down eventually.   Not in every case, and not every time – but where it can be done strategically for the benefit of the neighborhood.

    Like cutting off a gangrenous foot to save the rest of the leg.    So do you want to be the doctor, or the disease?

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  6. bobby April 7, 2011 / 10:23 pm
    “Downtown reportedly has good occupancy rates which suggests a demand for more units” 

     CSAPT, The Litehouse project, which is across the street from Simms project has had an abysmal absorbtion rate in spite of the ten year property tax exemption, grants for college graduates, neighborhood lending program, and 10% off the purchase price.   There is room for 41 potential units and five or six have been constructed in the past few years. Is due to a lack of demand or is the architecture unappealing, or both?   

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  7. Bunch April 8, 2011 / 10:17 am
    Political parties are a business.  Nan gets the financial backing and election support in exchange for her support on keeping the corrupt deals that bring in funds to the democrat party.  It has nothing to do with making the city of dayton better.  She has to make deals that bring in cash for her and her political party.  As long as the idiots that live in Dayton have their cable, fast food, and AC they will never help fix the problem.  People move to Dayton because you can live dirt cheap in exchange for putting up with a discusting school system, police department, and the west side always voting get free cash for making the city suck.

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  8. Gary April 8, 2011 / 11:38 am
    Hey Bunch, What you say is just a bunch (pun intended) of negativity!  I’ve been real negative, too, lately, as I haven’t been able to secure a good, white collar job now for over five 5 years, and I have my BA!
    Every school I can think of in Dayton, except the private ones like IMC, have been renovated!  Dayton is not a disgusting place to live–although some of what you say is indeed true, like Nan being a puppet!
    I wish the City Commission would spend more time, even an entire meeting on how to upgrade Dayton’s economy and get people back to work!  Care Source should be demolished!  I agree with Dave E. that we need more parks and better roads–they are all so damn bumpy!
    Dayton is what it is!  The west side and the east side have both become very integrated!  It’s up to us to come to the Commission meetings and speak up, and wear a mask if you must!  I have hope for Dayton!  If we get the shuttle things might be looking up!  I’m not a material person as much as I am a family man, although I have no kids nor wife–those folks probably are struggling more than I am!  But I’m not ashamed to be on food stamps and I’ve gotten 99 weeks of Unemployment–but now I’m flat broke!
    A bachelor degree means nothing in Dayton!  But my folks are here!  Will anyone out there pay for my master’s degree?  My point is, in all this diatribe, is that human life means more to me than buildings, cars, guitars or schools!  All my schooling was excellent, and my folks stood beside me when I had homework problems!  That’s what Dayton needs, real people that care, not puppets like Dean and Nan!  Dean says to try Ohio Means Jobs, well I did, and they have a disclaimer that says beware of scammers, oh shit!
    Well, I see I’m getting negative again; but kids have it made today, great schools and better teachers!  Our Police Force is as good as any, and we have a decent City Manager and Mayor, now!  If only there were good jobs out here!  Guess I’ll keep trying and praying, which cannot hurt either, to pray for Dayton!

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  9. Bob VL April 8, 2011 / 12:44 pm

    Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

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  10. Bob VL April 8, 2011 / 12:45 pm

    Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

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  11. Gary April 8, 2011 / 2:21 pm
    Hey Bozo Bob,
    Basic economics will tell you that if rich lawyers, politicians and docs move into the new condos in Dayton, that will spur economic growth with their fortunes!
    As does Unemployment payouts … by people having money to shop!  Basic Econ 101!  Duh!  And you are a grad of UD–the biggest drinking college around!

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  12. Bunch April 8, 2011 / 4:09 pm

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  13. Robert Vigh April 8, 2011 / 5:00 pm

    Downtown, reportly, has good occupancy rates which suggests a demand for more units.     With a little help from the City, the market is responding.    In a smaller city with only moderate demand, the subsidy is necessary to cover construction costs and allow for a modest profit.    Otherwise, it doesnt’ happen.   That’s your gap.

    Actually CSAPT, the market is already responding. For you see, if this construction company can ONLY make a profit by means of subsidy, no one in the private market would make this investment. This MEANS that the market is responding by NOT making a bad investment. This is another bad investment by the city. Not only is the market responding by not building, but the market is becoming distorted because now if someone could build at a profit, they have to compete against a subsidized program that only profits from the subsidy and not the actual creation of wealth. 

    So every Dayton citizen is taxed so that a construction company can have a modest profit. This makes no sense for Dayton and no sense for its citizens. 

    The market would also respond in the case of the empty houses, but the government interference and distortion is causing a problem there as well. In your metaphor, government is more likely to severe the body from the leg to save the leg and dispose of the body! lololololol

    And Gary,
    Economy is driven by savings and investment. Not by coercively taking money from one group of people to give it to another to go spend. Maybe check this out: http://www.amazon.com/Economics-One-Lesson-Shortest-Understand/dp/0517548232

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  14. Gary April 8, 2011 / 7:25 pm
    I’ve never heard of White and Black taxpayers, have you?  Everytime anyone makes a purchase in Dayton, they are taxed 2% for Dayton and 5% to the Feds–Does anyone know how Dayton’s sales taxes work for Dayton?
    Anyway, back to the topic at hand, Nan Whaley … She has a web site you know, but her and the Mayor won’t comment back on comments … imagine that!

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  15. Bubba Jones April 8, 2011 / 9:56 pm
    I would like someone to look into what percentage of the City of Dayton’s money comes from white taxpayers and what percentage comes from black taxpayers. – Bunch
    I’m sure there are plenty of black folks living in the City of Dayton that have decent jobs and pay income taxes.  I’m also sure there are plenty of white folks living in the City of Dayton that are sponging off “the system” just as Bunch is presuming that most black people in the City are doing.  And, I’m sure that having said this, David Lauri will spend the time to do the internet research to back this up!  (Thanks DL! LOL!)
    I’ve never heard of White and Black taxpayers, have you?  Everytime anyone makes a purchase in Dayton, they are taxed 2% for Dayton and 5% to the Feds – Gary
    Gary, as the old saying goes “Be sure that your brain is engaged before putting your mouth in gear.”  Or, in this case, before putting your typing fingers in gear.  I’m not trying to be mean, but as I read the stuff that you’ve posted the last couple of days it makes me wonder what kind of education you received at Antioch.
    Anyway, I’m pretty sure that “Bunch” was referring to income taxes and not sales taxes when he made his presumptuous statements above.  You are correct that most purchases made in Dayton (and throughout Montgomery County) are subject to a sales tax rate of 7%.  But none of that goes to “the Feds.”  The state’s tax rate is 5.5%.  On top of that, Montgomery county charges an additional 1% and then there’s another .5% that goes to the RTA (to make sure they can’t put stops in Beavercreek).  To save David L the trouble, this information came from http://tax.ohio.gov/divisions/tax_analysis/tax_data_series/sales_and_use/documents/salestaxmapbw.pdf and is current as of October of 2010.
    Robert Vigh – Brilliant post, as usual!  I’d like to have a beer and shoot the breeze with you some time.  I’m sure it would be interesting conversation.

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  16. Jeff Dziwulski April 8, 2011 / 11:16 pm
    That’s an interesting article @ Huffington.  Interesting in that the chronology goes back as far as it does.

    The Shrinking Cities concept as a label is fairly recent and apparently was co-opted from the Germans, who used it as a label of an urban design/art/planning exhibit that used various European cities (and one US city, Detroit), as an example of “shrinkage” due to two factors:  demographic decline and outmigration.  This isn’t a made-up crisis, but the consequences of a mix of deindustrialization (something we are familiar with in the US) and the collapse of Communism and demographic transition, two things we havn’t exeprienced. Only one or two US metros have transitioned into the demographic shift were deaths exceed births combined with outmigration exceeding in-migration.  This is more common in Europe (and also Japan since they are experiencing the demographic transition), so it was of interest to the Germans. 

    Link to the original Shrinking Cities exhibit site is here:


    The Shrinking Cities exhibition was suceeded by the IBA (International Building Exhibition) set of projects in the German state of Saxony/Anhalt (sort of a German version of our Midwest) dealing with urban population and economic decline in smaller and mid-sized industrial cities…German equivilants of Dayton or Springfield or Lima.  They look at 19 declining cities:

    Here’s the link:

    So I think this terminology or nomenclature, “Shrinking Cities”, is something that has been co-opted in the US for perhaps a different agenda than the Germans had in mind, an agenda that preceeded the German initiatives by many years (1970s, according to the HuffPo article).


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  17. Jeff Dziwulski April 8, 2011 / 11:22 pm
    and then there’s another .5% that goes to the RTA (to make sure they can’t put stops in Beavercreek). 

    Maybe RTA should drop the R since its not “regional”.  It only serves Montgomery County (except for that little run to WSU, gingerly touching the sacred soil of Greene County.

    RTA gets no support here.  I noticed the point-counterpoint at City Paper on the bus-to-the-mall issue had BOTH writers OPPOSED to RTA.

    Now how about that? 

    Just another way Dayton gets suckier and suckier.  The people who live here are ignorant fearful idiots.

     I should note that busses run to the malls in Louisville without incident or comment AND they run to suburban counties outside of the main core county of Jefferson (AKA Louisville Metro..the merged city/county goverment).  Why, the local transit service even crosses the river into southern Indiana.  Will wonders never cease?!?  An actual regional transit system that even crosses county lines!

    Wow, what will those yahoos down in Kentucky think of next?

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  18. djw April 8, 2011 / 11:49 pm
    Yes, Jeff, the attitude toward public transit is one of the most reactionary and appalling things about this place. Drives me crazy. I *still* can’t get over how many major employers, including UD, don’t subsidize public transit use for their employees/students. I’ve worked at a number of universities in different places and they always do that (and UD is a pretty progressive employer in a lot of other ways). It never occurred to me that a university in an urban location–especially one where good parking is a scarce and valuable commodity!–would not have such a program. At yet, no one cares, or even thinks it’s odd. The Beavercreek thing makes me absolutely livid. I will never, ever spend a dime at that mall.

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  19. David Sparks April 9, 2011 / 10:39 am
    Fuel prices predicted to rise 40% over the next year, according to DDN this morning.
    I think we’ll see lots of shopping centers begging for people to come on foot, bicycle, or however they can get there. Beavercreek isn’t very forward thinking, to say the least.

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  20. Bunch April 9, 2011 / 11:36 am

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  21. Gary April 9, 2011 / 12:37 pm
    @Bubba- I graduated from Antioch’s Weekend Program w/ a BA in Human Services Administration- and yes, it was an unorthodox program for continuing education for adults, average age 40, but I made it through the grueling two years!  We were taught to think outside the box and spur converstions- and I came out of the program at least being a better writer, I think- when many, many folks I’ve encounterd with degrees cannot write worth a damn!
    I was wondering what Bunch meant about Black and White taxes, but didn’t think he meant income taxes at first but that he probably did, so I just put Blacks back in the mix!  Now I don’t understand what Bunch means about racist Obama voters!  Does he mean the Blacks who voted for Obama or the Whites who did?  Further, who are racist Democrtats?  Whites or Blacks?  White racists against Blacks or visa versa?
    Finally, getting to the post subject at hand, I did not read any of the links David first initiated, so I’m guilty of that; but, I didn’t understand most of what Jeff deliniated on shrinking cities and Germany comparisons …
    Repeating though, I’ll bet all of you that I read more books, did more essays and took more college courses than any of you when I went to Miami-Jacobs and then onto Antioch University Midwest as it is called now … And Miami-Jacobs I’ll admit was sort of a kiddie college and still is–i.e., it wasn’t hard at all–straight A’s!  At Antioch I got around a 3.9 education!  And I’ll also admit that I’ve been a little egotistical/centric ever since!  But I also care about good people!
    But Nan having a Masters Degee is fine, but why doesn’t she introduce anything for the Dayton’s well being besides bike trails and demolition–what about jobs and the economy–and it’s getting old, all of it, isn’t it, all the politics!
    I sure hope David gets elected and turns some of these great topics we discuss here around for the sake of the City and its people!  I rest my case and soap boxes!

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  22. Sarah April 9, 2011 / 2:33 pm
    Oh and here we go AGAIN – little secret about these – the builders have in-house appraisers (those that don’t recogine me I am a Certified residential appraiser).  In house appraisers ALWAY MAKE THE NUMBER – if they don’t they don’t have a job.  Here is the real kicker.  Simms may tell the City that they will sell for $140K up front (which I guarantee they will – again he has it in the bag).  Here is where it will really become a cluster f$%k – when the buyers from the builder go to sell (we call this a re-sell) –  These re-sells will probably be around $80K.  The homeowners will be under-water (negative equity) and have 1 of 2 options – eat it and bring cash to the table at closing or 2 foreclose.  There is a huge golf course community in Springboro that was once $500K homes now selling for approx. $200K for this exact reason.  Nan is more lethal than you realize.

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  23. David Lauri April 10, 2011 / 12:15 am
    Bunch, do you have any sources you can cite to attempt to back up your claim that “black people moved here in the 50?s and 60?s”?
    Jeff of Daytonology, in his posts on the Historical Geography of the Black West Side (see Part I, Part II and Part III), puts African American migration to Dayton much earlier than the 50s and 60s. Would you say, Bunch, that the sources he cites and the data he presents are wrong, and if so, do you have any evidence?
    If you don’t, then it would appear that you’re ignorant (note to David E, this isn’t name calling, this is stating a claim) of the facts, and such ignorance would mean that everything else you claim, Bunch, is subject to being dismissed as nothing more than racist drivel.

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  24. Ice Bandit April 10, 2011 / 10:20 am

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  25. David Lauri April 10, 2011 / 10:21 pm
    Ice, “ignorant” means “lacking knowledge,” and pointing out that Bunch lacks knowledge of African American migration to Dayton is not an ad hominem attack but an assertion that he’s wrong about his facts.
    I also think, Ice, that you’re ignorant of post hoc ergo propter hoc because post hoc ergo propter hoc requires that the chronology of a correlation be important to a claim about two events, and I’m not claiming that Bunch’s statements about Dayton’s black community are racist drivel simply because they came after his claim about when most African Americans came to Dayton. Perhaps you mean to accuse me of cum hoc ergo propter hoc,
    Now I suppose that Bunch could be right all his claims about Dayton’s black community other than the one about when African Americans migrated to Dayton, but I doubt it.

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  26. Brett April 11, 2011 / 10:21 am
    I hear Karl Keith is now making Eserati jokes at Frolic For Funds.

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  27. joe_mamma April 11, 2011 / 1:02 pm
    Here’s U.S. Census data on the racial makeup of Dayton over the years.  Sorry I couldn’t find the 1980 data easily…

    Dayton City Demographics


    % A.A.
    % C/O
    Total (000s)
    A.A. (000s)
    C/O (000s)










    ***Source http://www.census.gov/

    A.A. – African-American

    C/O – Caucasian/Other

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  28. joe_mamma April 11, 2011 / 1:02 pm
    Bah…formatting didn’t work.

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  29. jstults April 11, 2011 / 3:22 pm
    Interesting population dynamics.  The African-American population data is fit pretty well by a logistic for the years 1930 to 1990; post 1990 the “carrying capacity” seems to have started a downward trend (correlating with the overall population trend).  Not sure what to model the C/O data with; maybe the system could be represented with a simple dynamic model.
    David Lauri, the local history you linked is great, but the early population numbers were so small as a percentage of the population (look at the scale of the graph of part I).  The black population at the end of Jefferey’s data in 1920 is ~9k; which roughly matches the initial population estimate from the logistic fit of the more modern data.  As you can see from the first link in this comment, in 1930 the inflection point was yet to come…

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  30. Gary April 11, 2011 / 7:58 pm
    First of all folks, let’s get one thing straight, when using race as Blacks and Whites, you capitalize the B and W. When using colors, not race, you don’t! Per Antioch Professors! Secondly, we would not have an economy at all, anywhere, if many races were not working–it’s called equal employment opportunity; which should not as well, discriminate on your weight or height, but it does! And surely is true for not discriminating against your sexual preference! Just look around you at work! In the Twilight Zone, we are all just human anyway! What is not fair is Affirmative Action when someone is hired only because of their race- not their qualifications, but to abide to the AA edict hung up on the work wall bullitin board! Now go ahead and call me a bozo, but I don’t care! And for a good joke, hopefully, seems if Nan and Joey weren’t already married to other spouses, they might just hook up- the way Nan flirts with him (Joey) frequently, on the City Commission Meetings! :-) But you know what, most companies don’t seem to care about if you have poor grammar anyway, I see it all the time!  And long breaks in the restroom on their cell phones or smoking!

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  31. David Lauri April 11, 2011 / 9:42 pm
    Gary, whatever your professors at Antioch may have said, there’s plenty of disagreement as to whether black and white should be capitalized.  See this Language Usage Weblog post, which says:

    Saying ‘no’ to capitalization of white and black when referring to race are: the American Medical Association, the Associated Press, the New York Times, Stanford, and Harvard. And coming down on the side of ‘yes’ to capitalization are the American Psychological Association, the venerable Chicago Manual of Style, and the University of Pittsburgh.

    What did your professors at Antioch say about the use of exclamation points, Gary?

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  32. Gary April 12, 2011 / 11:47 am
    Getting back to the topic at hand … And not grading each others’ papers … I say we leave Nan alone and start rooting for David to get Dean’s seat on the Commission …
    Nan responded to me both on her blog and via email that she is not out to get demolition dollars … And if she is getting some monies, it goes back into her campaign budget for flyers, etc.  And maybe a dinner out once in a while, but hey, we gotta eat!
    Anyway, demolishing old buildings or properties, etc., can help the fight against crack houses!
    Nan lives in Dayton and cares about Dayton!
    I traced the demolition man, Kit Cooper, to a non-profit called Acumen Funds http://www.acumenfund.org/about-us.html which does raise money for housing.
    Per Nan via email:
    Thanks for reaching out.  First, I do not take donations from any companies for my campaign.  Second, these are campaign accounts and are subject to rules by the Ohio Secretary of State’s office for political campaigning.  All of it is public record.  The Campaign Committee is required to file semi annual reports at the board of elections and any citizen can get copies of the reports.
    Finally, Kitt Cooper is not a demolition contractor and to my knowledge his company has done no business with the city of Dayton.
    Please let me know if you have any further questions.
    Nan Whaley 
    And on her blog she states:  Thanks for contacting me Gary. There isn’t much truth to them. Kitt Cooper (the Westerville Demolition Contractor according to his blog) is not a demolition contractor. He is also not my only contribution of that amount. 

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