Oops, They Did It Again
Dayton’s rulers squander other people’s money
By Mark Luedtke
Publication date: 112916
For anybody who exposes the petty and not so petty, but legal, graft that permeates government at all levels, Dayton’s rulers are the gift that keeps on giving. The Dayton Daily News reports on the latest development of its former property. “The city of Dayton will spend $294,500 to finish demolishing and cleaning up a downtown property that formerly housed the Dayton Daily News operations, in the hope of setting the stage for its redevelopment,” Cornelius Frolik recently wrote.
That might sound like good news for people who’ve driven past that eyesore for years, but it’s just another cover for armed robbery. Dayton’s greedy rulers aren’t spending their own money to clean up the property. They’re stealing money from taxpayers at the point of the government’s gun and using that money to clean up the property. This is Dayton’s super-mafia at its most transparent.
The big winner is Bladecutters Inc., the company rulers hired to clean up the property. A cynical person might wonder why a lawn care company got a contract to clean up a bunch of concrete. Enriching rulers and cronies, not providing services, is the function of government. This is a naked transfer of wealth from Dayton’s poor and middle class taxpayers to the wealthy owners of Bladecutters with Dayton’s rulers taking their cut. You have to pay to do business in their town or you end up wearing shiny bracelets with chains.
It’s instructive to recall how this boondoggle began. “An $18 million student housing complex is planned for downtown Dayton at the site of the former Dayton Daily News building and adjacent property, Cox Media Group Ohio announced Wednesday,” the DDN cooed in April, 2013. “Cox Media Group Ohio said it plans to sell the property to the nonprofit United Housing and Community Services Corporation of California, which would partner with Missouri-based Student Suites to build the 350-bed facility just a few blocks from Sinclair Community College.”
The project was a giveaway to already subsidized Sinclair. The DDN continued its propaganda, “‘This takes a block that has been neglected to a shameful extent and really gives it new life,’ said City Commissioner Matt Joseph. ‘Having residents there, having investment there … you’ve seen it before where a little bit of investment in one place really starts something.”
It continued, “‘The market is unquestionably there,’ [Dayton’s director of cronyism] Sorrell said. ‘The market studies that have been done over the years have shown a huge demand for student housing. … This project of 350 beds just scratches the surface of the demand.”
So much for socialist analysis and plans.
This project was shady from the beginning, but the DDN, which hilariously claims to hold government accountable, presented no skepticism or critical analysis of the plan. Cox donated $1 million, Dayton’s rulers donated $1 million of taxpayers’ money, and $13.5 million was to be financed through tax-exempt bonds. The developers only had to put up $2.5 million. No bankers would fund this deal because of the risk. Sweetheart deals like this are available only from governments to cronies.
Despite $1.2 million spent by city government, the project never got off the ground. “Sinclair Community College students this month were supposed to move into a 350-bed housing complex near campus that Dayton officials hoped would be a cornerstone of downtown revitalization,” admitted the DDN in August 2014. “But federal rules and financing problems have delayed the $18 million Student Suites project on Fourth Street, and the site sits empty, except for debris and a few idle pieces of construction equipment.”
The project is still stalled. Rulers are supposed to be smarter, wiser and more benevolent than the rest of us, that’s why they wield government’s power of coercion against us, but the pros from Dayton aren’t so smart after all.
Imagine you worked in the private sector, you were tasked with developing some property, and the project stalled for three and a half years despite you spending over $1 million. You’d be out of a job and rightly so. The marketplace doesn’t tolerate incompetence on that scale.
Government not only tolerates such incompetence it rewards it. During this debacle voters voted to make the temporary part of Dayton’s income tax permanent then voted to increase the income tax. They’d have been better off shooting themselves in the foot. Now Dayton’s rulers will squander more taxdollars by lining their own pockets and those of their cronies.
Never trust socialists or their propagandists.
Originally published in the Dayton City Paper.
Originally published in the Dayton City Paper.