CRA or Confusion Runs Amuck

January 28, 2008 at 12:01 am 24 comments

Warning Will  Robinson
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Land of the CRA
Scott Bakalar

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”

Part One, Two, Three, Four, Five, Six , Seven and Eight

CRA areas click on image to enlage

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

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The Litigation:

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

I have a bridge to sell in Brooklyn
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 –
Councilman Holcomb also county  employee

Councilman Snodgrass county  employee

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?
conflict of  interst?

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?”

WHAT HAT?

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Lets us also see what else is being used in that Chandra/Stewart “dismissal”.

Surprise! surprise! Dan Given makes page 32
K.Hovnanian Homes
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.
given letter 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?round and round the politics go

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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)
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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.
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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

Section 3
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)

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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
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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:snodgrass

People in CRA 4 cannot even complain to their council person
Ward 8
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
Here come the Judge

Mark Betleski, The Judge
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is the brother of Phil Betleski
Blood Brothers
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
WTF

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

MY HAT
at the taxpayers expense

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

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Entry filed under: city of lorain, commentary, CRA, opinion.

Sunday Link Ups! THERE IS A SURPRISE!!!!

24 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Paula Tobias  |  January 28, 2008 at 12:05 am

    OMG Why hasn’t a legal firm hired you to do their investigations.
    Bravo Loraine Bravo

  • 2. Nikki Beres  |  January 28, 2008 at 1:08 am

    I am sure glad that you are on my side!!! Thank you for putting in all of this research and hard work because it doesn’t look like our elected officials seem to be doing their jobs…Love ya Mom!!!!

  • 3. Bill Sturgill  |  January 28, 2008 at 1:12 am

    I’m following this as well Lorraine. My son is affected by the outcome also. I am very curious about the outcome. I am amazed someone isn’t personaly responsible for this, I guess gov’t really isn’t responsible for itself., nor can it be held liable if it does wrong.
    It is unfortunate that the homeowner will be left to bear the burden of cost in the end. People will leave this community because of this. One thing is for certain, my vote in the future will be reflective of the outcome from the top down.

  • 4. thatwoman  |  January 28, 2008 at 2:46 am

    Thanks Paula, Bill and Nikki ( especially Nikki) the whole thing is really still very confusing and there are more twists and turns in this than a snakes intestines. Unfortunately Bill’s son and my daughter are victims of the serpent…. can you say
    Well PLAYED?folks! Because that is how I, as a taxpayer, feel………they can spout off all they want but in the end it is the Nikkis and the Bills, and John and Jane that end up paying the price……….

  • 5. becky Smith  |  January 28, 2008 at 11:28 pm

    Hi Loraine,
    Thanks so much for all the hours of work going back and documenting this info for us. !!!! You certainly have done your homeowrk and as a teacher I give you an A++++. So , we are bacislly screwed. I think that it is a very sad situation for many. We will servive and remember these times and when it comes time to vote for our leaders this will always be a factor in my future decisions. We have been let down by so many. I think that you should run for office and I would vote you in and bring in at least 200 CRA victims to help with your campaign. Keep us updated on anything that you come across and again thanks for your time and wisdom.

  • 6. thatwoman  |  January 28, 2008 at 11:43 pm

    Becky , it is somewhat of a maze …..my mum 89 in a couple of weeks said to me….. “this doesn’t see right to me what are they playing at?….what are these youngsters supposed to do… good question mum!!! In the meantime it is in the hands of the lawyers !

  • 7. becky Smith  |  January 29, 2008 at 12:32 am

    Loraine,
    your mum said it all!!! I am one of the lucky ones in that I did not buy my house with the thoughts that I was going to get a tax abatement. It landed in our laps and it was too good to be true. We had paid our taxes for 5 years and it was ok. It was fun to think that I may get a break since we do pay big time. However, it is a budget that was planned long before. For those who purchased thier homes with the idea that it was going to be a break it must be a hard spot to be in. I can not imagine coming up with $ that was not planned upon. Taxes here are anywhere from 3800 a year to well over depending upon the size of you house. I really want this over one way or another so we are not in limbo. Where exactly is this all the litigation taking place????Is there estimate as to how long ? So much could be done wiht the $ that is being spent on lawyers. Again,
    you are a trooper and so gald you have a blog of your own!!!

  • 8. thatwoman  |  January 29, 2008 at 2:09 am

    Well it is very unfortunate when people who purchased in Lorain due to that abatement , like my daughter, in May of 2007 and brand new build …. built after even the April 2006 amendement …never occupied etc. ( and the program of course was advertised) applied within the month , accepted signed a contract paid your money and then arbitarily are denied with a FORM BLANKET LETTER .and they have no one to appeal to AND THEY CAN’T EVEN GET A RESPONSE FROM OUR WONDERFUL AUDITOR. to their registered letter asking for clarification ….ignored, left out in the wasteland of wordsmithying… and gee can she ask for her counciil representive to intercede NO because he is the “Deputy and tied up in the whole fiasco…. and I know she isn’t alone…. and NOW added to the fact that the contract with the city isn’t being honored they are now having to take on the added burden of legal fees etc. WELCOME HOME TO LORAIN!!!!!!!
    The one case is before the Ohio Supremem Court and now is on going waiting to see IF the court will decide to hear the case ( hence Chandras motion to dismniss saying that the case is also being heard in BETELSKI ‘S COURT in Lorain County .and you see who the players are there.Can you say YEAH RIGHT that court has great cedibilty talk about hats off!

  • 9. dan given  |  January 29, 2008 at 2:37 am

    Keep fighting to bring the facts out “woman”!!
    I appreciate your attempt to bring the truth out over the political BS. We wonder why the public has such low regard for the “system”, yet the system continues to fail them. The issue is not whether you agree with the tax abatement , the issue is it is a state approved program to entice people to invest in older urban communities. Let the truth prevail and remember who is not representing their constituents!!!

  • 10. thatwoman  |  January 29, 2008 at 4:05 am

    Thanks for stopping by Dan, you and I don’t always agree :)but as those that know me , know I don’t appreciate peoples intergrity and honesty impugned ,especially when it is political or trying to muddy the situation. And I resent it when the media is played !

    You are correct at least 307 couples/families are caught up in the middle of this and they are being treated
    abysmally and the wordsmithying and misdirection is disgraceful.
    If I were younger I just might picket at every one of their fundraisers of course if I do get angry enough I just might do that anyway 🙂

  • 11. denise caruloff  |  January 29, 2008 at 4:22 am

    hey Loraine,

    i can make signs…

  • 12. thatwoman  |  January 29, 2008 at 4:27 am

    Well Denise I might just take you up on that 🙂

  • 13. THERE IS A SURPRISE!!!! « That Woman’s Weblog  |  January 31, 2008 at 8:15 pm

    […] did notice Staubach didn’t mention the CRA – (Community Reinvestment Areas) one of which covers the Charleston Village and Portside area […]

  • 14. DEADLINE - at what cost « That Woman’s Weblog  |  February 6, 2008 at 2:05 am

    […] was no exception, fed up with the CRA, politics, wordsmithying and people in general I switched on the “idiot box” to Humphrey […]

  • 15. Loraine Ritchey  |  February 7, 2008 at 8:09 pm

    Well if you click on the legal link you will see that there has been some activity with Chandra and Stewart et al and they are still maintaining ( in order to get the developers out of the picture that there is a court case in Lorain County TA DA WOULD THAT BE THE FAMILY AFFAIR COURT CASE OF BETLESKI AND CO? 🙂

  • […] So it continued, blow for blow, my name and address published in the paper in RSO articles, no publicity given to community happenings with which I was involved the list went on , little digs, subject of front page articles that were erroneous, editorials and to be fair I took some shots across his bow too. Never argue with an Englishwoman who has nothing to gain or lose and who is still trying to maintain credibility in what is printed […]

  • […] letters and the articles I have written just about a dozen articles on the CRA ( all factual and documented with responses),however it is the ones using ” […]

  • 18. I think - therefore I am - Monday « That Woman’s Weblog  |  April 13, 2008 at 11:52 pm

    […] I should tell him that he is in a CRA area and that he can take advantage of a 12 year ( rehabbing) tax abatement for this property? OH! DEAR! Maybe NOT he would probably have to get himself an attorney which […]

  • 19. Accounting- Enron or Gov-enron « That Woman’s Weblog  |  July 31, 2008 at 12:03 am

    […] Pipe Yard expenditures, and now the cost of the CRA from the county to the taxpayers ( note I started with the county expenses first since they started […]

  • […] – we are paying how much an hour for ? ( more to come on that later) you can have it for free! https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2008/01/28/cra-or-confusion-runs-amuck/ and since YOUR research shows: Chandra said his research has come up with no examples in Ohio or […]

  • […] Beginning of the “play” can be found here CRA or Confusion Runs Amuck So I was away for a month and a bit – what has happened to our intrepid cast of Lorain”s Saga […]

  • 22. Betleski’s Day in Court « That Woman’s Weblog  |  January 5, 2009 at 7:32 pm

    […] January 5, 2009 One of the CRA players that accused others of unethical behaviour https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2008/01/28/cra-or-confusion-runs-amuck/ […]

  • 23. Remember ? The Staubach Report « That Woman’s Weblog  |  February 7, 2009 at 12:51 pm

    […] did notice Staubach didn’t mention the CRA – (Community Reinvestment Areas) one of which covers the Charleston Village and Portside area […]

  • 24. J’accuse- The Accusers- the CRA(p) « That Woman’s Weblog  |  December 17, 2010 at 9:08 pm

    […] or Confusion Runs Amuck https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2008/01/28/cra-or-confusion-runs-amuck/ Now don’t bother to follow any of the links in that article because the PD article is […]

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