Friday, September 18, 2015

Neighborhood Fights Back: Cincinnati Government Corruption Exposed

If you are a preservationist who wants to save historic structures you may have a target on your back. Knox Hill property owners who have been opposed to the city Blight=Bulldozer policies, the abuse of the VBML program and the MSD boondoggle know all to well what its like to fight city hall, we have been doing it for years and apparently our desire to keep property out of slumlords hands, stabilize it and find good stewards of property caused one, or several, 'loose cannon ' city employee, who work at the  City of  Cincinnati Division of Property Maintenance and Code Enforcement to take actions that SHOULD result in their termination..

Apparently frustrated that we were not backing down, this employee, or employees deliberately abused their position and lied to the County Auditors office telling them that this Knox Hill property owner had "unregistered occupied rental property" when that Agency knew that not to be the case and the property was not occupied, but under restoration and stabilization, and there is no interest or desire to rent it out.

The Knox Hill property owner began receiving notifications from County Auditor Dusty Rhodes office that it was mandatory to register such property and if he did not comply that appropriate penalties would be applied to those properties on upcoming tax bills.

The Knox Hill property owner knew he had no rental property and further than none of the properties were restored and were even habitable at this stage so they contacted the Auditors office via an email explaining this. A response was sent from an County Auditor employee whom I will not name here although I have a copy of the original email sent and will be happy to provide to the State AG's office. I have redacted the names of the property owner and the county employee in the response below:

Date: Tue, 1 Sep 2015 11:41:13 +0000
 Subject: RE: Rental property Registration
 To: .............................................................. Good Morning Mr. Drake,


 Thank you for your email detailing the status of your properties in
 Hamilton County.  I will remove this file from my workflow, and you
 will not have any more contact with the Hamilton County Auditor
 regarding rental registration.

 I appreciate your frustration regarding these properties, and just so
 you know, the rental registration action was prompted by the City of
 Cincinnati Division of Property Maintenance and Code Enforcement
, who
 stated that the property was an occupied rental property.
  It is
 obvious from your email, that this is NOT the case, and I apologize
 for any stress or inconvenience my requests may have caused you.

 Be Well,

 Tad Kowal  Hamilton County Auditor's Office
 Real Estate Department
 138 East Court Street,
 Cincinnati, OH 45202


I was made aware of this correspondence and sent an email to the mayors office on Monday Sept 7th. Redacted copy below:

Mr. Drake had been receiving notifications from the Auditors office
requesting he "register rental property" Mr. Drake owns no rental
property. In fact as a member of the Knox Hill Neighborhood
Association Mr. Drake has acquired slum rental properties to get them
out of the slumlord cycle, properties are under stabilization via our
neighborhood save not raze program by volunteers, and to date, two
properties were resold to people who are currently restoring them back
as single family.

While our Board members, and association in general, vocally oppose
the city "Blight=Bulldozer" policies of the city and the abuse of the
VBML program in S Fairmount to redline our neighborhood making it
easier for the county to acquire properties for the MSD Lick Run
Daylighting Fiasco I would not have believed that city employees in an
attempt to "get even" would resort to actually LYING to a county
agency in an effort to make opposition go away...but apparently that
is the case, as is evidenced by this email correspondence between a
Hamilton County Auditor employee and Mr. Drake after he notified them
he had no rental property and therefore did not need to register such.
In fact Mr. Drake has been so fed up with harassment that he has all
his property up for sale and wants nothing to do with a city at this
point that is so anti preservation and anti community as the City of
Cincinnati, so at least the city is getting what it wants by driving
someone else out of the city.


I went on further to directly ask the Mayor to respond:

So exactly what steps is the Mayors office prepared to take to resolve
this? Clearly the employee responsible for this notification should be
fired for abuse of position of a city employee  and lying in the
course of his or her duties by deliberately misstating the facts to a
county agency.

Should Mr.Drake file a formal complaint with the State Attorney
General office seeking a State investigation to determine if city
employees have abused their power and determine if a pattern of
corruption exists within Cincinnati Government?

Should I advise him to engage legal council to sue the city for
punitive damages due to this constant harassment, his inability to get
loans due to redlining caused by the city? That will subject the city
to national press who I am sure will jump at the chance to expose
another corrupt city government.

Should the Knox Hill Neighborhood Association, hold a prèss conference
and let the media determine if this is just an isolated incident by
one person or part of a larger strategy that goes up through city
government? Maybe I should share all 6200 pages of email
correspondence on issues?

I guess what happens next is up to you? But, at a minimum, someone
needs to be fired. And you need to make a decision quickly because
Mr
Drake
, myself, our board and the residents are FED UP.

Paul Willham, president
Knox Hill Neighborhood Association


That correspondence took place on September 7th, it is now the 17th and there has been no response from Mayor Cranley, the city manager, or city attorney.

Clearly city officials are trying to cover up (IGNORE)  this issue, will not identify the employee, (or employees), in question and there has been ZERO response from the city, so  its our turn,to throw this out there, and maybe the media, or State Attorney Generals Office can figure out the name of the employee (or employees) and why city administration is covering for this individual  who has seriously violated the duties of the office an abused their authority.




Friday, March 20, 2015

How Save not Raze Program brings positive development

One of the added benefits of the Save not Raze program is how the acquisition of properties changes neighborhood dynamics. Such is the case with one Save not Raze property at 1880 Knox. The property had been vacant for a number of years but was rated as "stable" by the neighborhood group. The problem had been the property next door, which had constant police runs and was the center of illegal activity.

The picket fence and arbor are a symbol of change and rebirth.
The Neighborhood Crime watch program had been actively applying pressure to the home owner to get his act together to no avail. The turning point was the acquisition of this key property next door.


Neighbors got together, tools in hand for several weekends of taking our neighborhood back events at the home. This community activity put pressure on the problem property next door.
As volunteers began working on this property, planting flowers installing a picket fence, and CPD patrolled by more frequently, the "illegal activity" was impossible to continue. When the neighborhood installed security cameras on the save not raze project facing towards the problem property. The handwriting as on the wall and the for sale sign went up.

Thanks to proactivity of KHNA we had a potential buyer lined up who bought that property and is now finishing up a complete restoration of it.

This house just a couple of doors away has completed an exterior restoration and work continues on the inside. It had been vacant over 10 years! 
At the same time two other homes a door down are now under restoration. One has exterior restoration almost complete , the other homeowner has been doing interior work and will be moving to the outside this summer.

So save not raze efforts didn't just save one house. It saved several. We eliminated problem in the neighborhood and two more restorations are underway on the same block.

If you would be interested in 1880 Knox and want to be a part of the Knox Hill Renaissance Contact us!

Thursday, March 19, 2015

SOLD: In the Overlook District Bloom ST LOFT

A key property in the  overlook district: The Bloom St Loft Project has been sold. The new owner plans on completion and occupancy by end of the Year! This is a major move forward for the district. Want to get in on Overlook  District or other properties in Knox Hill?? Ask us as we have other opportunities, but one thing is certain, Inquiries are up and spring is here!

As work progresses on this project we will keep you updated on the new owners progress and maybe an upcoming interview with Knox Hill newest resident.