Archive for April, 2016
Sitting in my drafts is a very long post about “Money where your mouth is”
, something I have tried to live up to all my life. You will see this neighborhood/ block in a different light than the historical aspect than I usually present.
I have lost faith in the system, maybe because over the years I have “used” the system and found not only do the wheels turn slowly but the accountability is nothing more than a slap or a letter!
Lorain’s policy of the
“we want to abate the issue not punish”-
All well and good but although the violators know this the majority of Joe Public (JP) is unaware. JP on the whole thinks there is accountability for the issues that contravene the laws.
You see we think that when an arsonist is caught he won’t be coming back to the neighborhood; not here – back home in two days and “community service”- the stench of the burning rubber still hanging in the air. We (JP) think we call with a” valid “complaint the situation will be taken care of to the satisfaction of the complainant but……. life in Lorain is not Home and Garden TV! Far from it we have had an instance where a business woman on a city board threatened a city official and the Mayor with “bean spilling” if he didn’t follow her wishes- only for her to get elected a precinct person ( a liason between the party and the city) for her chosen party – how wonderful the thinking in parts of Lorain is totally mind boggling imho.
How many times have I heard when grumbling out loud and on facebook as to situations-
call the city – call the inspectors-
It is a shock when you realize the hoops that have to been gone through. The complaints resolved are usually done so by people who care , who have respect for the system . BUT what happens when they are ignored – Prime example
“on August 5th I noticed that one homeowner in Lorain was cited for his outdoor showroom. He was found guilty and the terrible punishment after 4 YEARS of citations and a plethora of lawnmowers $150.00 and court costs.
I drove past two weeks ago even MORE vehicles were stored than the above pictures from August. …..
Or the retaliation game comes into play- after this post I had better add more cameras !!!
My recent go around, chasing my tail, is with neighbors who wish to put an above ground pool in their front yard ( garden to the English readers)
I got very upset when told of their plans ,as you will read in the draft post when published. I was told by all and sundry from bottom to top-
No! not allowed, can’t do that, etc. etc.
You would think I would be relieved by those words, EXCEPT I have lived here too long seen the lack of respect breed more lack of respect and why not we haven’t had any real accountability with their next door neighbors.
Why wouldn’t my neighbors of the “planned pool” believe they can have a “water feature ” when for the past nearly two years their neighbor has used city property for storing construction vehicles, Rv’s on the front lawn.
Oh! there were complaints made for the parking of these vehicles around the neighborhood and they were told to move them. They did to other parts of the area and when it seemingly calms down the Construction LLC with apparently nowhere to park their equipment moves back. What is the point, can’t legislate respect for others or the codes? This young man and his family “know the codes” know they are contravening those codes but in my opinion have no respect for those codes or the neighborhood.
This “business” being run from a neighborhood zoned R3 , they can run a business from their home office – lots of people do!
One has to ask themselves is this fair to other construction companies in the city of Lorain whose overheads include storage and parking??? Shouldn’t a business ( commercial/ industrial) setting up in Lorain meet certain requirements- like storage, parking etc. Maybe they do and that is being ignored as well- who knows just another system??? So once again the view from the den window is what it is ‘ just bloody lovely!!!! ( that is me being sarcastic)
So why vent once again….. it doesn’t do any good…. Well Lorain will not get any respect from outside Lorain when her citizens do not respect the codes , others in the neighborhoods.. and USE and ABUSE the system.
This area of Ward 2 is one of the only locations in Lorain that can expand and has available land – a developer worth his salt coming down the street seeing out-door showrooms , non compliance and general lack of caring by the residents will be less than impressed. We paid a lot of money in 2008 for a lovely report DUH!!!!!
The Staubach Company
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
Maybe we should turn this area and downtown into a RV park!
And when you are told “call the city” – no point…..no accountability at the end ….. just another day of chasing ones tail…….
UPDATE AND NOW THE FBI PROBE!!!!!
A further update: Lorain cuts the cord with Lorain Development Corp:
UPDATE: The President of the Lorain Development Corp states the Board view
A year ago April 15th, 2015 I wrote the post “Money for Old Rope – A Taxpayers Question”
I had once again been to a City Council Meeting and I didn’t like the report being given to City Council on a loan with regard to the Lorain Development Corporation
The exchange between council and Director Rangel can be found here- page three
“Unfortunately I remembered $100,000 dollars with much hoopla being given to Prime Industries. http://www.loraincounty.com/manufacturing/feature.shtml?f=12666
prime_industries and media success stories such as the Morning Journal article October 2010- ALL “SOUNDED” VERY PROMISING
Local customers include amusement park Cedar Point, which turns to Prime Industries for safety harnesses for its gravity-defying rides.
In addition to making new parts for Cedar Point, Prime Industries refurbishes safety harnesses after thousands of roller-coaster passengers have worn them out…..
… Other local customers include Invacare Corp., in Elyria; Bettcher Industries, in Florence Township; Nordson Corp., in Westlake; and Latanick Equipment Inc., in Huron. Prime Industries also makes parts for missiles built by Lockheed-Martin for use by U.S. armed forces in Iraq. With more than 500 customers, the company started as a division, called Advanced Foam and Plastics, of Kindt-Collins Co., based in Cleveland
The headline is a bit misleading( prospers???) because halfway through the article the history states:
Advanced Foam and Plastics was created to serve the foundry industry, but by 1984 it was known as Prime Design.
In 1997, Prime Design received $292,000 from Lorain to relocate here from Cleveland, creating 22 jobs.
A $100,000 loan from the city in 2000 helped expand, but by 2002 Prime Industries was up for sale
First, Rich and Joe Persico paid off the $292,000 loan from 1997, and then put up $145,000 of their own capital.
“Then” the city of Lorain loaned them $400,000 and a Warren bank also loaned them $400,000 in 2002 Prime Design became Prime Industries.
In May 2008, Lorain loaned the company $100,000 to gain new contracts. That is $600.000 by my calculations we have had some back in the employee income tax but still money for old rope imho.
The name of the department had changed from Community Development Dept (headed for decades by Sanford Prudoff) to Building Housing and Planning
In three decades under former director Sanford “Sandy” Prudoff, Community Development grew into a overly large department with too little accountability to city leaders and providing too little benefit to Lorain, Ritenauer noted…………..
Prudoff controlled the agenda of how to spend CDBG money in the city with the administration and council seemed to have little say about what projects the city should do or skip, Ritenauer said.
Those determinations were “completely opposite of chain of command and hierarchy,” Ritenauer said.
It appeared the department grew to maximize the salaries for administering federal CDBG money granted to Lorain, Ritenauer said.
30 years , missing paperwork, things getting lax, housekeeping by the way side, the paperwork is either non-existent or “lost”, not complete in some cases.And it appears certain developers( who shall remain nameless in case I am accused of chasing him out of town again) 😉 getting a great many trips to the ATM that was seemingly Lorain ? How many jobs have been created???
TRUST– the employee that his “boss” knows what he is doing and is aware of legal ramifications !
TRUST – by volunteer boards the items brought before them are “above-board!
TRUST – by the Administraton -their departments heads, hired for their expertise, know what they are doing and are working with one goal in mind to better the City of Lorain!
TRUST by a City Council they can act upon the advice of those department “leaders”.
One area breaks down in that circle of trust and the ripple effect finally hits the shore with a great crashing sound, as it did last night in City Council Chambers .This morning’s headlines read :
Lorain Council Rips into Business Loan report by Rick Payerchin – Morning Journal
and ” Lorain revolving loan program has $600,000 in write-offs- by Katie Nix”
As Mr. Mason stated, the issues with the revolving Loan fund came to him from the State Auditor
“I got an email from the state auditor who wanted to know why the city of Lorain had over $600,000 in loan write-offs,” department director Leon Mason said. “My response was that I didn’t know what he was talking about, and when he sent me the information, I was able to pinpoint some of the loans, but I did find some that were troubling, to say the least.”
Mason said one that stood out to him was a $250,000.01 loan to the South Shore Community Development Corporation.
South Shore took ownership of the St. Joseph facility in 1997 after St. Joseph Hospital merged with Lorain Community Hospital to create Community Health Partners. An $800,000 federal grant was used to get the building ready for its new tenants. Additional grants and loans were secured to bring it to its current condition.
The state has $1.4 million in loans invested in the community center, while the county and the city each have $700,000 in loans tied to the center. If South Shore files for bankruptcy, the state, county and city will be on the hook for those loans. Gilchrist said the city’s payments on its loan would be about $50,000 a year. Lorain is currently $1.3 million in the red.
After the loans are repaid by recipients, the money is intended to go back to another business.
Federal Funds have certain rules which must be adhered to and Lorain has to be stringent in following those rules- other wise we are in trouble.
Should Lorain have to pay back those monies in question then the General Fund takes a huge hit and we can’t afford even that one dollar hit!
Hopefully, the program changes, the rules are followed and the “iffy factor” becomes totally transparent.
Although, due to a possible investigation in the loan for South Shore Development Corporation,
not a lot was said ( under the Krasienko/ Gilchrist era) that money $250,000,and ONE dollar would give our General Fund a huge hit. Let us hope the Administration, Law Dept. and City Council will support each other on this and get to the very bottom of the “pot of gold- for some”
I remember under the Foltin Administration and Prudoff those “allowable ???” expenses paid to wine and dine the Shawnee and Capital One “tribe” initially, before I asked questions and then after??? well it was rolled over into a bond and I could no longer get the breakdown of all the monies spent but this country club of cash sure sent my red flags flying at the time- Dinner was literally on us!!!!!!
Lorain Development Corporation did respond to my post last April and it can be found here :
1)I prepare a loan write-up that provides a background of the project with financial information and the justification for approving the loan.
(2)Once I have completed, I provide this to the loan board for their review and approval.
We do this process just like bank’s credit teams do and have discussion and if everything is okay, loan approves the credit. They can also reject loan requests or modify them though these do not happen too often.
The loan board are various professionals in insurance, banking, law, small business owners, etc. who all live in, work in or own businesses in the City of Lorain. This board has been a self-appointing board since its inception and they are not appointed by administration or council. Board tries to keep a mix of professionals on board so it is not all bankers or attorneys but a mix. They are an all-volunteer board and most of these individuals have been on board from a few years to one person who has been on board since inception over 25 years ago.
Once the board approves the loan credit, all loans are submitted to Board of Control for approval as they will eventually sign for the loan.
Once board of control approves, we move to documentation of loan with all documents reviewed and approved by City’s Law Department. At that time, we also open a purchase order to commit money and submit check requests when we receive necessary documentation requesting funds.
Loans are derived from two sources, one through HUD http://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/HUD and the other through the Economic Development Administration.
You can find the PDF files of Director Mason’s report here:
Economic Development Final
LDC Conflict of Interest Policy
LDC Subrecipient Agreement
Portfolio Quality Report
EDA Title IX Plan
Update : I received the following communication from Kaja Holdings/ Vision Properties as to the fact I had linked Harbour Portfolio with his clients Please see below :
Dear Ms. Ritchey:
It was a pleasure meeting and speaking with you on Wednesday. It is important for every community to have concerned citizens that care enough to voice their opinions on important issues. As a lifelong resident of Lorain County, I appreciate your efforts to preserve the history of Lorain. I especially appreciate your work for Charleston Village Society.
I write to kindly ask you to correct an inaccuracy in your April 7, 2016 blog post. In your post, you state that I may be able to assist the City of Lorain in serving Harbour Portfolio with complaints for Housing Code/POS violations, stating that my clients (Kaja and Vision) are all “part and parcel of the same grouping”. You brought up your suspicion that my clients and Harbour were related entities when we met on Wednesday and I observed Councilman Flores delivering the same message to Assistant Prosecutor Holmes in Court.
I have conferred with my clients and they have confirmed that Kaja and Vision are in no way related, whether directly or indirectly, with Harbour. They share no common ownership, staff, office space or other connection. One is not the subsidiary of the other, they are not sister companies and they do not work together in any fashion. Harbour is a competitor of Kaja and Vision. I respectfully request that you alter your post, print a retraction or otherwise clarify that the companies are not related.
J.R. White James R. White, Attorney at Law
Yesterday, I once again made my way to Lorain Municipal Housing Court, as readers know, I have been there a couple of times. In 2009 Lorain County Photographer’s blog ran a series of thoughts from Judge Pianka from Cleveland’s Housing Court https://clevelandmunicipalcourt.org/judicial-services/meet-the-judges/judge-raymond-l-pianka
“Gee, there are people using the civil side of the court to evict people, but on the criminal side they were ignoring our summonses and complaints. So, it caused some cognitive dissonance on my part. So, we decided that you can’t just come into court and use one side of the court, the civil side, but ignore the criminal side of the court”
In 2009 this Lorain County blog – Lorain County Photographers Blog http://www.locophotogblog.com/ was feeling the frustration some of us, in the City of Lorain, had been feeling and documenting for years. There were hundreds of photographs taken, words written trying to find a way to keep our older neighborhoods free from blight from 2005 onwards. The time line for the above series was, of course, right in the middle of the Sub- Prime Crisis caused by banks and idiotic mortgages.
8 years have passed since the sub-prime mortgage debacle and Lorain is still feeling the ripple effects, Fannie Mae , Deutsche Bank , Freddie Mac etc. all selling off those write off mortgages to the LLC’s, a number out of state , such as Kaja Holdings, Harbour Portfolio, Vision Properties . You can find my thoughts here:
You can also find the article from the New York Times on this group of LLC’s here on the what is happening .
Market for Fixer-Uppers Traps Low-Income Buyers By MATTHEW GOLDSTEIN and ALEXANDRA STEVENSONFEB. 20, 2016
One of the larger firms in this market, Harbour has bought more than 6,700 single-family homes in Ohio, Michigan, Illinois, Florida, Georgia, Pennsylvania and a handful of other states since 2010 — most of them from Fannie Mae, according to the mortgage finance firm and the foreclosure research firm RealtyTrac.
Ten of the more than 50 homes Harbour bought in Akron have been torn down after being condemned and two others are slated for demolition
Harbour and its founder, Charles A. Vose III
I was at the court to see what was happening with the Point of Sale Icon House 1348, West Erie now owned by Kaja Holding/ Vision Properties etc etc etc.
I was curious to see what progress had been made if any or where the “abatement” stood. Pictures of the front steps etc taken a few days before court left me a bit wary as to “tripping hazards”. Turns out I should have been wary of the concrete lip outside City Hall.
As I entered City Hall- well not quite entered- as I fell flat on my face – I went down with an almighty thump. There is some good that comes out of being on the plump side – my fat shock absorbers , absorbed. It was so embarrassing as my chin hit the concrete and I went flat out. I was mortified, especially when the policemen ( running security at the door) rushed to my aid and it took two of them to hoist my “knocked the breath out of me frame” to vertical once more.
“I am fine really , just help me up, no honestly I am fine . she said hoping to salvage some dignity
Now why should I have felt ashamed and embarrassed , it was not my fault just one of those things, but I couldn’t get out of there fast enough. However, my mood and the pain in my head and neck from the jarring of the hitting the concrete left me less than tolerant when it came to Housing Court that afternoon .
Maybe it was the pain, the left over mortification from the half an hour before but I can say that some , actually three of the “supposed to be working for the city ‘s best interest” employees left me wishing I was a caricature artist. They would do well to remember they are working on the taxpayer’s dime , I was wondering if my dimes were being spent well.
The one, who decidedly made the most impression in my pain addled thoughts, was “Miss Looks like she is smelling bad fish” – nose so far in the air it is a wonder she didn’t trip over herself. Can you tell this in my opinion officious official really , as we say in England , got right up my nose!!!” But then I remembered I was not there to critique theatre but then again………….
You see, I am totally frustrated and fed up! Some of us were bleating on about the city and her housing long before the sub prime crisis.
One Mayor ( Joe Koziura) literally lost his campaign for re-election due to coming down hard on housing. I wonder if things would’ve been different had he succeeded instead of the loved by the landlords candidate Craig Foltin who backed off an aggressive stance by the Building Dept 2000 and look where we are NOW!!!!
article found here brokehomes
How abandoned houses are hurting Lorain, and how the city is trying to fight back
Dan Harkins and Shawn Foucher
It’s not hard to find examples of crimes linked to abandoned or all-but-abandoned homes in Lorain. The crimes are an extreme example of the kind of “negative effect on the neighborhood stability and economic vitality of the city” that state auditors warned Lorain of a year ago.
“By not administering its code enforcement, property maintenance and building programs, it is difficult for the city to preserve its housing stock,” auditors wrote in their report.
Now Lorain, which had not come close to matching other cities its size in the vigor of its housing enforcement, has acted on recommendations made by the state auditors to hire two additional housing inspectors. The new inspectors started with the city in April………….
……Beyond that, 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…….
“We feel that if they don’t have a successful plan and aren’t self-sufficient and nice to people, then we will not continue with them,” Foltin said recently of the inspectors…..
Some of us are tired of fixing our properties and “ABATING” without going to court – doing the right thing because we should take care of our property. No matter if it was “vindictive” behavior that caused the inspections in the first place 😉
Some of us are really angry how the “playing the system” works for multi property owners, who “prostitute the homes , buy cheap ,rent them out, and don’t pay property taxes and then walk away or dump them on some poor unsuspecting sucker in a rent to own scheme. The out-of-town LLC’s clustering together, confusing the cities and counties where they form like blobs of greed growing bigger with each added LLC. .
Why should the little guy in this city suffer when the MEGA property owners are, in my opinion, prostituting these properties.
Why should our property values decline because of trash housing?
Why should we be punished our neighborhoods looked at with scorn ?
It infuriates me when people I have been writing about for years just keep gathering more and more , paying less and less and in some case not even bothering with the property taxes walking away or even dying – leaving the trapped tax payer holding the bag and looking forlornly at what has happened to their neighborhoods. Sixteen years on and we are still on the same trip!
To be continued …………….
My life lately has been about trees, or at least one this week.
In some respects I was so sad to see it taken down. I thought it had saved your life at one point.
It was a January morning 2008, when there was an almighty crash, jumping out of bed, I ran to the bathroom window to see branches twisted into the railings, I rushed to your room but you had already made it to the balcony-I will never forget your face standing there knowing what might have been.
I was so scared- I remember looking at the tree that had deflected the main body of the fallen limb knowing, if it hadn’t, the weight would’ve fallen across your room. What would’ve happened then would have been dreadful. I didn’t realize that a month later there would be nothing to deflect the danger of the cancer growing in your body and the unthinkable happening.
When your sister was born I purchased a small Ficus tree ( no more than as foot high. However it grew and grew. Every spring we would take it outside for the summer months, eventually too big for the living room, it would winter indoors in the kitchen, growing too big for the kitchen , repotted, it would be dragged into the den. The leaves and branches literally took over the back wall; anyone trying to sit in the chair felt like they were living in a tree.
There were many complaints and grumbling as the heavy pot and tree, and by now it really could be called a tree- had to be manhandled in and out of the house twice a year. I really couldn’t get rid of it , it reminded me of a tiny baby girl I never thought I would have and all the happiness she gave me.
However, finally it was just too big and although trimmed back every season the pot of earth could no longer be managed. Chris, you had just moved into a barn of a place in Cleveland for your final year at CIA-
I will take it mum, and then you won’t see its demise.
And off it went that August day in back of your truck, branches and leaves waving what I thought was its final goodbye. Thirty years of nurturing that tree and there it went bouncing down the road in the back of the pick-up. I wasn’t sure it would even survive the journey!
The house to which it went ( later put on a Cleveland demolition list) must have had something positive, or maybe it was the “liquids” that ended up in the pot but that June , the tree, came back- bigger , sturdier than ever. I couldn’t believe you and your house mates hadn’t killed it.
It was so big that Nikki said she would take it; they were living in Maumee at the time with a large kitchen with huge windows and tall ceilings. Once again the tree took a trip in the pick-up truck . And then just months later , a job change, and the tree came back to Lorain once more – this time to my living room with other items for storage until a new house was ready. I literally fought my way through the jungle of plants that now made up my living space. However, I was happy because it reminded me that my “baby” girl was going to be here again.
The Ficus tree took another journey to the new house. It still has to be manhandled out of the house for the summer and wonder of wonders started bearing fruit two years ago. It sits in the windows through the long winter months, bearing silent witness to life and lives,
has been a little boys delight as they have played miniature farming in the pot, made patterns with its leaves with their “artworks” and it has finally become the hiding place or the “big foot trap”.