Archive for January, 2008
by Loraine Ritchey Contact firstname.lastname@example.org
For those in the audience that attended the “super board” meeting or the combined Lorain Port Authority and City Council meeting of the minds , hereafter known on this blog as the (LPACC) – there were no surprises from the Staubach Company.( January 29th at City Hall )
There was nothing really new in the report from Staubauch except “time lines”. Basically the developers will know we have a mess but that we intend to take care of it, and how and when will be needed to be part of the package that is sent out with the RFP.
Get rid of the Urban Decay –
Clean up the entranceways and gateways to downtown
Fix the existing commercial and building facades on Broadway
Get rid of the Transmission Lines
Move the sewer plant
City Hall is taking up valuable real estate
Take advantage of your “history”
Bring in the Arts
Get rid of the eyesores
Camouflage the existing industry on the river and lake front
HAVE A TIME LINE for completion, a plan and how it will be financed
The faces in the room told it all
“ We have been saying the same things for years”,
However, maybe now, a $90,000 opinion will be listened to by our leaders……….
The power lines, the power plant and the deteriorating housing, the need for the historical significance of the area in question ( Charleston Village) has been at the forefront of this neighborhood for years -time and time again saying the exact same thing .
Charleston Village Society and the Black River Historical Society have fought an uphill battle to draw attention to the unique history that is Lorain. We have tried to stop the rot and blight and we weren’t alone. In the early summer of 2005 Dan Harkins and Shawn Foucher of the Chronicle Telegram ran the story “Broken Homes” How abandoned houses are hurting Lorain…
For the past 8 years the particular problem of decaying buildings and houses was dismissed, in my opinion, due to the last administration’s relationship with the multiple property owners.
“The new housing inspectors have gotten only a lukewarm endorsement from Mayor Craig Foltin, who defeated his predecessor in 1999 in part by making an issue of what he characterized as an overly aggressive Building Department” Chronicle Telegram– Broken Homes
And now we are in an even bigger mess!
How did this happen in five years..
This building was mentioned in the report by Staubach as being down the street from the Morning Journal.
If Cole and Co had maybe “tweeked the administration” they were so friendly with , maybe there would have been a roof over the heads of their neighboring businesses
However a couple of terms did keep jumping out “eminent domain was mentioned at least three times and TIF( tax incremental financing- twice (URDA).
Those are terms well known in Lorain, in Charleston Village and our Portside area. In the article on TIF, written a few months ago, there were 10 such areas already in Lorain and more to be studied -including the Lakefront Study which is the area Staubach was reporting upon. Portside , Lorain’s oldest and historic neighborhood dodged the bullet -our homes did not meet the definition of “blight”.
2.Lorain-West (Ford & Heritage)
3. Lighthouse Village
4.Colorado Ind. Park
5.Pellet Terminal (Lakefront area)
6.Riverfront area – (Spitzer)
8.Central Lorain –
9. Connecting Blight study Central Lorain-Lakefront 10.Riverside Blight- 20 years old nearing expiration
(Note info at least a year old)
I did notice Staubach didn’t mention the CRA – (Community Reinvestment Areas) one of which covers the Charleston Village and Portside area being discussed by Staubach, which of course the CRA would’ve been seen as a plus and given them another development tool! –Come to think of it maybe not now!!!
Fight the CRA (cat) fight and we are all losing, the homeowners, the taxpayers and what will those developers think of us now? Oh !what a tangled web (huge sigh)
Paula Tobias in her campaign stated
I like to use the analogy, if I’m going to sell my home (or in this case the City)
I can’t have a cow pasture for a driveway (the streets)
A Thug at the door (crime)
A leaking roof (the buildings in Lorain that are falling apart)
and a basement full of feces (our infrastructure system)
And heck we even got involved with stopping the “bottom feeders” (a term used by Staubach in their presentation)
As for those Power Lines they have been the bain of my existence for months
John Wargo of the LPACC asked :
“where do we start?”
John , you can “start” with cleaning up the neighborhoods and the buildings in our downtown, which will ripple out into the area of crime and ambiance- the tools are already in place for this step one!
1.enforcing the ordinances of the deteriorating housing and buildings .
2You go to the judges who give the property owners a slap on the wrist and tell them this is unacceptable!
3.You legislate the loop holes out of the current ordinances.
And the LPACC all of you put
P-OLITICS -not allowed
C-OMMUNICATION- a necessity
These should be the watch words for the LPACC and in the future lets “listen” to those that live here and experience the problems right next door.
HOW BLIGHT HAPPENS IN LORAIN
Land of the CRA
Are we sitting comfortably? I will tell you a tale steeped in history, smoke and mirrors, and the wearing of many hats- Let us begin!
Once upon a time, in the not so long ago, there was a city by the lake. In their wisdom respective mayors and the city councils of the 20th century decided they needed a tool to bring people back to the older areas of that city and to develop the city’s west side.
The Kingdom of the West held a factory and a sewer plant, whose connecting road was dirt and pot holes- definitely not paved with gold. So the elected officials and their respective administrations in the late 1970’s and 80’s came up with a plan-Community Reinvestment Areas which gave the people an incentive to purchase, build and rehabilitate their own little castles. Many words have been written by yours truly on this “land before timeline”
Lorain City Council created 5 of these areas, known as Community Reinvestment Areas, over a period of approximately 10 years from about 1979 to 1989.
Area #1 and # 2 was created by Resolution No. 51-80 passed on November 17, 1980 and included part of Downtown, Portside and South Lorain.
Ordinance 29-89 expanded the downtown area. Ordinance No. 179-85 created
Area #3 on December 4, 1985 and was amended by Ordinance 127-88 on November 7, 1988.
Ordinance No. 178-89 created Area #4 on December 18, 1989.
Ordinance 122-90 ( 1990) created Area #5 which is much of Central Lorain.
The 21st Century
Beginning in 2005 the first of three Ordinances were passed to make the five areas consistent.
These were passed in December 2005, April 2006 and June 2006.
Ordinance 220-05 passed in December 2005 – reaffirmed the CRA programs, the Housing Officer and Housing Councils for the areas.
Ordinance Nos. 52-06, 53-06, and 54-06 and Resolution No. 19-06 standardized the CRA Areas and required all applications to be granted with a written recommendation by the City Council Committee on Tax Incentives.
Ordinance No. 93-06 passed in June 2006 incorporated the CRA program into the City’s Infill Housing Plan.
( adopted the agreements and set the fee to be charged for new construction residential and commercial property which incorporated the CRA Program into the City Housing Plan and also included the form of agreement with the terms,15 years at 100%.)
The LAND of SMOKE and MIRRORS and TOO MANY HATS
The Law suit and the media
Readers from WoM may remember this article on litigation and the using of the media And in the realm of “I told you so”:
It could possibly be the reason why so many attorneys play the media card and pre try their case in the court of public opinion and a possible slanted story in your clients favor could in theory tip the scales of justice and decision.
The ONLY article used in the argument for dismissal (page 55 of 84 (Motion to Dismiss) the Ohio Supreme Court Case Is that Plain Dealer article
Although Mr. Stewart, our County Auditor, has many links (11 of them actually) to articles on “our” county website paid for by the taxpayers of the county .
Now, that -to me- the PD inclusion into Chandra’s motion for dismissal is interesting -can you say- the wizard of media manipulation? Which came first ,the idea of a “defence” and using a reputable print media that tells your story or the story – who contacted whom and WHY?
Why were the two Lorain council people free to speak to the Plain Dealer in that article –
when at least one informed the public and myself, on at least two occasions, they were unable to discuss the CRA program due to pending litigation. Yet, apparently, no such “gag order” was in place for the PD article and why wasn’t the fact mentioned in that PD article, that the two most outspoken critics of the City CRA and fellow council person Dan Given ( as noted on the pages of WoM and page 5 PD article)of THEIR other hats?
The question that begs to be asked “were they acting in the City of Lorain’s best interst as City Council people or as EMPLOYEES of Mark Stewart, their boss, the respondent in the lawsuits?”
Lets us also see what else is being used in that Chandra/Stewart “dismissal”.
Surprise! surprise! Dan Given makes page 32
Dan Given has been a council person for over a dozen years. I cannot find any documentation that has ever accused him in all those years of being a crook or dishonest. He has, however, taken on the editor of the Morning Journal on occasion when his integrity has been impugned and done so publically.
But according to the PD article and Chandra he has a used his power and insider knowledge to benefit his employer.”Oster” (remember that)
I wanted to verify these accusations as I can see the “too many hats “ argument- so I asked –
why the vote and for an explanation of these supposed nefarious illegalities etc.
And in response -I received over the signature of the Law Director of the City of Lorain- Mark Provenza- and on the City of Lorain’s letterhead Dan Given’s involvement in the CRA vote etc. part of which reads.
click on to enlarge
Daniel Given requested advice and direction from the Lorain Legal Department and myself every step of the way while legislation was being adopted and implemented and while he was applying for the program for his personal home.
Daniel had zero involvement or input with regards to the Administration’s creation and implementation of the “rules” of the CRA programs.
Daniel was instructed to seek out advice of the Ethics Commission and then asked us what to place in the letter to them while asking for advice. He then took their letter of advice and asked us for our interpretation of it so we could again direct him with his personal application to the CRA program.
Daniel was not an employee of Oster Construction during this period of time nor has he ever been an employee of Bennington Investments. Similarly, Daniel was not employed by Tom Oster nor his company but rather was an employee of a publically traded company owned by K. Hovanian. Tom Oster owns no shares of K.Hovanian Oster Homes.
Can it be politics as usual?
Mr Stewart and his attorney in their argument have maintained illegality,
The city is using the program as an illegal excise tax
wrongdoing and taking money from school children (well that isn’t exactly accurate- the schools still get their money) but we will let him have that thought (but remember that please for later)
Mr. Stewart maintains the fees are illegal and unfair, so why would Mr. Stewart, through Deputy Auditor Ana Griffith on September 11th , 2007 send a letter verifying to a property owner in CRA 1 that not only will they receive 2.5 reduction in land and abating the home (100%) through 2020.This Infill housing was also included in the CRA program JUNE 2006.
Granted this isn’t in area 3 or 4 BUT the homeowner STILL HAD TO PAY A FEE ( you know that illegal tax he claims) So is it OK for one citizen of Lorain to pay that fee (albeit reduced due to income) and not others. Can this be based on income levels, the have nots and the haves?
And the argument about the changes and additions made in being made in 2006 comes into play here too, in my opinion, as the “INfill Housing “ was ADDED in 2006 as well – can we say picking and choosing legislation in 2006? The legisation that is mentioned time and time again is the changing of the wording in Section 3 of the1989 ordinance. Infact Linda Keys in her letter of May 30,2007 and the PD article also makes mention of the ordinance 178-89 “50% abatement for one year” The actual 1989 ordinance reads
50% exemption of real estate tax on improvements for one (1) year UNLESS OTHERWISE CONTRACTUALLY AGREED TO BY THE CITY’S DIRECTOR OF COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT, AND THE OWNER/DEVELOPER OF SUCH IMPROVEMENTS AS DESCRIBED IN SECTION 3735.67.
(UNLESS would be the operative word here in my opinion)
Is it OK for the Lorain City School system to lose that tax money (as Stewart claims happens)? The County Auditor very nicely sent a refund check dated September 11th, 2007 for $1,584.14 to the homeowner in CRA 1
And whilst on that subject -why are people in CRA 1 getting answers to their concerns, at last count -three letters and a reimbursement check whilst others in the “upmarket” area of Lorain have been ignored, can’t even appeal.
And speaking of too many hats:
People in CRA 4 cannot even complain to their council person
because he is under a “gag order” and is also the Chief Deputy of Finance for County Auditor Mark Stewart. ( enough to make you gag!)
The other argument that Chandra and Stewart make in their dismissal
The City is a party to two pending actions, a declaratory judgement and an administrative appeal, before the Lorain County Court of Common Pleas etc
TOO MANY HATS
Mark Betleski, The Judge
is the brother of Phil Betleski
the former Lorain City Councilman who voted AYE on the amendments and then was running against Dan Given for Council at Large, contacted the Chronicle with his concerns, which the Chronicle then wrote about AFTER the election,
LORAIN — Councilman Phil Betleski has accused two fellow councilmen of violating the Ohio ethics code and is calling for one of them to resign from a committee position. Betleski, D-2nd Ward, sent an e-mail to Councilman Dan Given dated May 1 in which he asks Given to recuse himself as chairman of the Tax Incentive Review Committee. He also wrote that Councilman Tony Krasienko, another committee member, was in violation, too.
Then we have Judge Betleskis Law Clerk- John Keys -who just happens to be married to Linda Keys who sent out the letters of denial ( you guessed it )works for Mark Stewart as well
The abatements were first called into question earlier this year when they came across the desk of county auditor employee Linda Keys…… The chief deputy for the real estate section in the Lorain County Auditor’s office, Keys is the official who processes abatement applications
I wonder why the PD isn’t asking about that seemingly conflict of interest? And they have a problem with Dan Given wearing too many hats !!! Can we say hypocritical? And can we say
people who wear too many hats themselves -shouldn’t toss them
Where does this leave the citizens, that our elected officials are supposed to be representing, in the Land of Lorain Litigation and there is no Happily Ever After ( unless you are an attorney that is).The taxpayers will lose and once again Lorain has another black eye to add to her already bruised reputation.
The hardship it has caused to those citizens who now have to budget for not only back taxes, more taxes, attorney’s fees all because they live in area 3 and 4. with no rights to appeal
In the climate of transparency this writer has been involved with this issue from November 2006 from
1. a writing standpoint 1,2, 3, 4,5,6,7 and 8 and now 9
2. a recent appointee to the District 1 CRA Appeals Committee as a resident of the area, the oldest in Lorain as far as neighborhood and as a CRA District 1980
3.My daughter,who in MAY 2007 purchased a brand new home in District 4 and applied in June 2007 for the exemption. Who now has had to hire her own attorney
4. One who has waded through all the pages of legalese and word smithying ( even though it isn’t my job of work or my duty as an elected representative of the City of Lorain ) and Yes ! who is disgusted at the way this legal wrangling is costing the tax payers!
5. One who believes the media should also be held accountable.
6. All letters in hard copy for privacy of the homeowner in question and ALL emphasis is mine
by Loraine Ritchey
Jean, as Madam Arcarti Loraine as Elvira- Blithe Spirit -1983 Photos courtesy of Workshop Players
I have met a lot of wonderful people in my over half a century, in all walks of life, but the one that I have always thought of as my mentor was Jean Schaeffer. Jean, was the wife of Dr. Roy Schaeffer, the Amherst dentist, and mother of four children. Two of the boys, I know, are well known to Lorain readers Dr. John Schaeffer and William Schaeffer of Beaver Park Marina.
Jean was the “first lady of the theatre” in North East Ohio – as pronounced by a Proclamation signed by State Representative, Joseph Koziura .
I met Jean when I first arrived in Lorain and became involved with the Chef Henri Dinner Theatre. Jean was also a founding member of Workshop Players, Amherst. Jean worked on, or in, 80 shows at Workshop. She was the director of 20 of those shows including the first musical Workshop Players ever did.
I wrote about Jean not long after she passed away on another January day in my Highland Highlights column “Mothers and Others Part Two”
‘Mothers and Others’- so was the title of the questionnaire. The previous article talked about a mother’s role and also the role of the teacher. Life goes on and in the few short weeks since I sat down and wrote article No.1 life changed. My mentor, friend and anchor, Jean Schaeffer, passed away. She was not a teacher of dance, she was however a teacher of drama, and life. The newspapers have been full of tributes, flowers spilled out into adjoining rooms of the funeral home. The famous and not so famous honored her memory. Jean had a blessed life and she in turn blessed so many. Throughout her time on life’s stage she touched the lives of thousands.
Jean did so much more than take a young actress, teaching her how to walk, to speak, to communicate with the whole being, how to phrase within the lines she taught me through our many years together to develop not only as an actress but as a person. When my children arrived she shared the laughter and the tears, the trials and tribulations.
I only wish that she could now teach me how to deal with the terrible emptiness she has left. Previous articles have shown how a great teacher can touch us not only in the “art form” of choice but our whole being. That is, to me, the definition of a “great teacher”.
I am still an empty vessel. I miss my friend and mentor and I haven’t “trod the boards” since Jean left the spotlight. She still touches my heart and my soul . Her immortal words of wisdom to me (when I would fly into righteous indignation about life’s happenings) -accompanied with a knowing smile-
This too shall pass!
Jean was my “mentor” –Who is yours?
Jean (right) in Family Portrait 1957
By Loraine Ritchey
I have left the comfort of big knickers, the women readers among you will understand what I am talking about.
You probably experienced the luxury of big comfy knickers when you were pregnant – cast off were the frilly little sexy lingerie that rides and binds
Ahhhhhhhhh! the comfort of cotton and an expanding panel that grows with your ever blooming waistline. It is a joyous relationship and too soon gone -the comfort of the big knickers.
That is how I feel with this new blog. WoM was my pair of big knickers, I felt comfortable, secure and expanding nicely and now the birthing process and I am back to a very uncomfortable “thong”( That Woman’s Weblog) -can you say wedgies?
So Now What?
Here I am all alone, without the comfort of big knickers, it is up to me to decide what direction, of course not wearing any knickers was not an option so here I am at the lingerie counter of a writing life -shopping. I am tossing around different options.
Of course there are things I have left unfinished, the trees
to cover (hopefully they won’t cover me again).
The CRA(p) and what ever sets me off and running on any given day, but I want to get out of the thong without putting on a “girdle” of restriction and censorship
and since you all will be hopefully reading this blog what would you like, what would interest, what would make coming to this site a part of your day or week? In the meantime I will update the blog every Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings. I will be taking the weekends off .
If you would like an email alert as to when the blog is updated please contact me at email@example.com .
that is the question?
I am in a quandary, I am suffering from WoM withdrawal . I love the people I was blogging with, I understand and support their point of view, their opinions when we disagree.
I fully appreciate their talent, their diversity their desire to effect change BUT and there is always a BUT, I have had a few issues with what is a blog and what responsible writing means to me. And why the hell is it any business of mine anyway ?
There are literally hundreds of wonderful indepth articles on WoM, caring, intelligent, worthwhile, controversial but credible articles , researched, thought provoking and WoM makes a difference! I know that to be the case.
So why have I stopped contributing? It is the principle of the thing! All it takes is one to go off on a tangent and write something “because they can”, bring in a “personal” attack to erase years of hard work, the building of trust and credibility – which I believe is what WoM is and was all about.
WoM will tell you the real story, with documentation , indepth reporting of the things that effect the lives of those in Lorain. It is a wonderful tool for information , so why have I pulled away from those I care for, respect and admire?
and John Cole and although I don’t intend to defend my writings- I will say, I have put me in tights too ! (well at least a facsimile). I will and could defend any of the articles I have written on WoM and elsewhere.
BUT I don’t believe in controversy for controversy sake. I could and would support every word written, every photo taken , every opinion expressed by the contributors to WoM no matter whether I agreed or not.
When I can’t bring myself to support a “blog post” by a contributor as being worthwhile or upholding the basic principles I have set as a guideline for myself and it looks like there wouldn’t be any change in thinking, I cannot continue, it isn’t what I am about, it goes against the grain. Readers do not remember all the hard work that goes into these articles, they remember the controversial headline, the “slam ” article. In my own experience of all the over half dozen CRA articles, I wrote for Wom it was the “man in tights” that is remembered.
Maybe I am just too old set in my ways, maybe the “blog” world and its diversity is too fast moving for old school values. The world has changed and I may have to go the way of the dinosaurs . I cannot justify personal attacks, and when I find myself being the devils advocate more than championing a cause or tilting at windmills then the time has come the walrus said ……………..