Vacant Property Solutions ?

Submitted by lmcshane on Tue, 09/09/2008 - 14:23.

 Questions??? Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority now owns these two properties in Brooklyn Centre--3722 Mack Court* and 3206 Mapledale*. Look them up on the Cuyahoga County Auditor's website. Both houses have been outfitted in the latest in exterior home security care of VPS--Vacant Property Security. So, what's the story? Here's an idea of how the above properties look with an image from VPS' website. Any one care to elaborate here?

*Please look at the transfer data, make your own judgement

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~``

Straw Buyers--Tremont, Brooklyn Centre

 

Jason Beudert is a straw buyer--the media made a big deal of it on the east side, when the players were black:
http://blog.cleveland.com/metro/2008/10/cleveland_councilmans_sleuthin.h...

http://blog.cleveland.com/metro/2011/07/mortgage_fraud_brings_32000_fi.h...

http://blog.cleveland.com/metro/2011/10/despite_convictions_main_targe.h...
(See Tony Viola connection)

but skipped over the story on the west side when the players revealed were white:
http://realneo.us/content/vacant-property-solutions

http://blog.cleveland.com/business/2009/03/have_a_dollar_you_can_a_house.html
(see Tony Viola connection and how foundations figure into this story...)

I try to get some one to cover this story to no avail.  Because, if you help the rich get richer in America...that's capitalism.  And, it is why we have folks protesting today. 

Straw buyers are paid to quickly pick up the property and then it is quickly transferred to an LLC.  In some cases, especially on the east side, straw buyers were paid to take out an inflated subprime mortgage on the home and then to intentionally foreclose. 

On the west side, Jack Peterson bought home after home on Archwood Ave.  Then, defaulted on the mortgage and walked with some properties picked up by Aurora LLC then transferred to Brian Bobula* to Angel Bobula.  Somehow, Jack Peterson ended up "purchasing" a home on Holmden in the "Model Block" Tremont neighborhood...from HUD.

The "nice" Irish Shaker Heights grad and Chicago school guy who bought a house on my street had his shady cousin buy the property at sheriff sale, which the cousin ran into the ground and then transferred to BC Real Estate LLC, died in lieu of foreclosure.  And on and on. 

Look, especially at how the taxes are NOT paid on these flipped properties:  Also on my street--Beachwood landlord Lucky Ogor rented Section 8 properties for years and continued to collect rent, while never paying taxes on his properties. 

Believe me, our county treasurer knew of these loopholes for years and this special favor was conveniently overlooked at tax collection time.  I am hoping CMHA's George Phillips will sing on the HUD machine:  Lucky Ogor recently transferred his property to IKAN Associates, Inc. 

Consider these two major LOOPHOLES: Our former county treasurer Jim Rokakis and his buddy Gus Frangos had enough time to legislate the exclusive sale of tax liens to Plymouth Park and the creation of the unregulated quasi-government agency the "Land Bank,"  but OVERLOOKED 1.) the fact that properties in Ohio can transfer title without paying off existing tax liens and 2.) that landlords can continue to collect federal HUD Section 8 Voucher monies, while in tax foreclosure???

   

*http://realneo.us/content/twdc-and-continued-nightmare-residents-giglio-schmitt-bell-redu

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Woodbridge Pearl across from Metrohealth 3206 update

2520 Woodbridge, beautiful old house, mystery fire, vacant storefront, piles of dirt, bulldozer, demolition, strip plaza. Across from South Pointe housing. Who paid for the demolition?

From what I can determine, this at least involves some private investment from an Asian developer (not my description--Santiago's).

NEO--Follow the wrecking ball and follow the $$$--your money. 

10/9/2009 Update on CMHA owned 3206 Mapledale--perfectly good and historic garage demolished.  See this google photo while it lasts.  Your money and someone is spending it.

Straw buyer Landon Ruffin

The straw buyer strategy was perfected in Slavic Village for flipping and profiteering.  

Same strategy used with a twist on the west side (often involving fire, police officers... who later turned properties into CMHA Section 8 housing)

Landon Ruffin is one of many straw buyers...see REALNEO on Jack Peterson in my neighborhood and Jason Beudert|Justin Hughes in Tremont...

Mack Avenue previously owned

Mack Avenue previously owned by "Sutowski Anthony
and Hoffman Sheryl L." Woudld this be the Sheryl Hoffman of ArtHouse - no SPACES, no Museum of Natural History fame? That was 1992. sales amount - $34,500

Let's see... in June of 08 the property transferred from Sheryl Hoffman and Abe Bruckman to Cleveland Metropolitan Housing Authority sales amount $90,000

Is this what they mean when they say "flipping"?

So the one on Mapledale (3206) was owned by Joan Mazzolini. Hmmmm... why does that name sound familiar? Oh yeah!

Joan Mazzolini, business of medicine/outcome issues
Mazzolini started at The Plain Dealer 16 years ago as the medical reporter. Since then she's also been an investigative projects reporter and has covered Cuyahoga County and the board of elections before recently returning to the medical beat. She writes about competition between hospitals and reports on the quality of care provided by area hospitals and doctors. She can be reached at jmazzolini [at] plaind [dot] com

How come CMHA is buying and boarding houses?

what's the catch?

I wonder the same thing Susan.  I am going to tell my neighbor on Archwood, who has had trouble selling his house to call the councilman Brian Cummins.  Surely, he can/should get in on this deal.  What's the catch?

Scattered site

Laura, these are two out of 33 West Side houses CMHA has bought at market prices (average $82,000) since March. It looks like this is the implementation of their promised 81 scattered site units to help replace Riverview. Some are from investment companies (including some foreclosures, I'm sure) but a fair number seem to be from individuals who've owned for a while.

Of course for this kind of purchase money they could easily be buying real vacant-and-vandalized houses for a lot less, and putting the funds into rehabilitation.

Let's see a map

Where did you get this information Bill? Do you have a map of the 33 properties acquired? You make this sound like a good thing. What is good about this? Tell me why Sheryl Hoffman and councilman Cummins' friend on Mapledale benefit and not the many, many people in their same situation on Archwood and other streets in Brooklyn Centre, South Hills, Old Brookyn, Ohio City, Tremont, Clark Metro? Theses houses both sold for $90,000+. And, yes, I agree with your last statement. This story smells and we both know it.

Transfer Date: 17-JUN-08 AFN Number: Receipt:
Parcel Deed Type Vol / Page Sales Amt Convey. Fee Convey. No Multiple Sale / No. of Parcels
015-23-104 Warranty Deed / $90,000 $360 161643 0 / 1

Transfer Date: 08-SEP-08 AFN Number: Receipt:
Parcel Deed Type Vol / Page Sales Amt Convey. Fee Convey. No Multiple Sale / No. of Parcels
015-20-094 Warranty Deed / $94,000 $376 169354 0 / 1

Trowbridge

  I imagine you scanned the auditor's site for Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing parcels. I haven't counted them all--but here is another property

 

Transfer Date: 08-SEP-08 AFN Number: Receipt:
Parcel Deed Type Vol / Page Sales Amt Convey. Fee Convey. No Multiple Sale / No. of Parcels
015-08-048 Warranty Deed / $91,000 $364 169350 0 / 1
 
Grantee(s) Grantor(s)
 

CUYAHOGA METROPOLITAN HOUSING AUTHORITY

PARCEL ID 015-08-048
OWNERS NAME CUYAHOGA METROPOLITAN HOUSING AUTHORITY
ADDRESS 03524 TROWBRIDGE AVE
CITY CLEVELAND
ZIP 44109

 

 
 
SUCH, SCOTT

 

This smells

Same grantor as 3206 Mapledale.

Looks like you've uncovered something...

I guess we won't read about this in the PD, if their people are profiting...

So CMHA certainly wastes lots of taxpayer money building and operating lots of poor poor housing... now they are wasting taxpayer money buying overpriced property from politically connected owners - yes, this stinks.

Does anyone else wonder why we have CMHA these days... as if the prison model of social justice has ever worked...

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Just the facts, ma'am...

Laura, I'm not saying it's good or bad -- I'm just sharing what appears to be going on. I searched the Recorder's database for recent deeds in which CMHA was the grantee and this is what I found. (Yes I have a spreadsheet and I made a map -- I'll send them to you.)

CMHA has been talking for years about adding a bunch of scatter site houses to replace some of what they tore down at Riverview -- check out the Plain Press' coverage. There's no reason to be surprised that they're starting to do it.

In a city full of poor people is it a bad thing to have public rental housing units that aren't all concentrated in a few "estates"? I don't think it's a bad thing.

However, how much faith do I have in CMHA to manage them well? Somewhere between "not much" and zero. Which is very unfortunate, because this city needs a lot more good, well-managed affordable rental units, not fewer,

Is it smart or good for the community for CMHA to buy a bunch of marketable homeowner properties for $70-120,000 (whoever they buy them from) rather than use the money to buy and renovate some of the thousands of vacant/abandoned houses available for almost nothing? No.

You're making a case that some specific people got sweetheart purchase offers. I don't have any evidence for or against this theory. All I know is that CMHA has recently bought several dozen houses from a number of sellers at comparable prices. Maybe they all got sweetheart deals.

Thanks Bill

 Great work with more to be revealed I am sure.  Rysar Properties and Cresthaven Development are on the spreadsheet you have compiled, so far.  

I may ask a lot of questions.  Is it wrong for a citizen to ask questions?  If there is a good explanation for what looks shady or unfair to someone looking at it from the outside--then, by all means, let's hope someone comes up with a good explanation.

And sir, what's a fact, anyway? 

Surely crooked cockroaches... let's hunt them down

Let's see... local government is overpaying folks for something... wonder if something is crooked.

Look under any rock of coal around here and a pasty little establishment cockroach will scurry away from the light.

Put a list of addresses together for me and I'll photo them, put them up here, and give you a good idea what they are worth

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Hope VI Funds

Bill refers to the Hope VI funding project at Riverview Towers. In 2000, 135 family units were razed to make way for a large mixed use (MUD) project behind Riverview towers where the units were demolished.

In its place, was to be 425 unites 81 public housing units, 35 affordable and 300 market rate units. The affordable and market rate units were to be sold for $126,000-$400,000. The 81 public housing unites were to be for people with incomes below 60% of the median income in Cuyahoga County. The 135 families who moved because they no longer could live in their homes were to get first chance at the 81 units. Anyone else see a discrepancy here?

As we all know, the hillside along Columbus Road is quite unstable and so, was the area where the proposed 425 units were to be built. Duck Island at one point was considered as a replacement site, I believe there were one or two others, none were considered appropriate.

The 81 public housing units were converted to 81 SCATTERED sites. The funds set aside for those homes must be used by the end of 2008.

I, like Bill, Laura and a few others, question the rationale for buying market rate housing when we have so many vacant, abandoned, and foreclosed properties that need rehabilitating.

The Mack Avenue home cited in the original post was the recipient of a CRS (Cleveland Restoration Society) restoration loan. The garage is wired, heated, and has welding capabilities.

I agree with Norm I would love to see that spreadsheet showing those statistics and details.

Let's stop spending on any new CMHA for a moment...

I'm not a public housing expert but so much has changed in housing and the economy around housing in just the past few years much less since 2000 that how any public housing money should be spent and managed should have been reevaluated several times - and I expect the reevaluation should have said we will not spend all the money planned in 2000 for MUD, or for scattered expensive homes. We're broke.

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Spreadsheet

Here is the spreadsheet with any proprietary apologies to Bill for his work in compiling it. 

As it is public information, I believe I have violated no copyright, but if you want me to remove the file, I will, Bill. To my mind, you have revealed obvious information. How long do we ignore the obvious?

Laura, no problem, that's

Laura, no problem, that's why I sent it to you. I made a copy with titles and sources added, but I don't see a way in my account options for posting a document here at RealNEO. So grab it here.

Spreadsheet Raises many questions

I found it interesting that the three Scott Such properties were all purchased in 2007 and sold to CMHA one year later with much profit.

Also the Dennis Moran property on Marvin is listed under the name Carmen Galati.

AND, that Spokane Avenue property according to the auditor's website was transferred from HUD to Christopher Cioban on 12-10-07 for ZERO $$$ and les than one year later he sells it to CMHA for $79,000. That is really some feat. Could those facts on the auditor's website be correct?

This was only a cursory look at the auditor's website which I did before I noticed that Laura and Bill had updated here.

So IF these purchases are part of the 81 scattered sites needed to use the HOPE VI funds, I would say we have 48 more purchases on the west side to go.

Although I believe that these properties on the whole appear a bit pricey, that is not my real concern with this scattered site housing.

You see, i live beside a five story CMHA property and the management leaves quite a bit desired. I am not convinced that CMHA can handle the management of these scattered sites.

I am not saying anything that the residents of the building beside me wouldn't say if they were not silenced by the threat of eviction if they complain. Fear is not a good way to manage.

Straw buyers

Thank you-Gloria.  WCPN recently ran a story on the straw buyers used to acquire multiple properties.  

These properties with inflated prices subsequently went into foreclosure--by design?  How many more of these straw buyers are lined up to transfer properties to CMHA? 

One of the names that comes up under suspicion on Archwood--Jack Peterson 3404 Archwood. WCPN may be able to get the CDC Old Brooklyn Development Corporation to track him down to interview, but I imagine he is probably in Alaska by now.

Transfer Date: 10-JUN-08 AFN Number: Receipt:
Parcel Deed Type Vol / Page Sales Amt Convey. Fee Convey. No Multiple Sale / No. of Parcels
015-24-097 Sheriffs Deed / $40,000 $160 161007 0 / 1
  
Grantee(s) Grantor(s)
 
AURORA LOAN SERVICES, LLC.
 
 
PETERSON, JACK & KATHY L.

 

So, how does one get in on this game?  I would recommend that WCPN interview Hoffman/Bruckman, the previous owners of the Mack Ave.  property.  The Mapledale property was owned by a friend of Councilman Cummins, but that friend (Matt and Kristen--Brian won't reveal their last name) made a quick sale to Scott Such.  It doesn't necessarily imply that Brian Cummins knew about the transfer, but Brian did maintain the vacant house for some time--the house is across the street from his mother-in-law's house.  

So far, we are the only people talking here.  I would like to hear an explanation from some of the players.  Like you Gloria, I live here and I am here to stay.

I have a bit of info on this straw buyer

Jack Peterson bought properties in our neighborhood from the SHANNON Brothers who bought them from Earl Korb.

He bought the properties because he wanted to be a landlord. I am not sure that he had any experience with the profession. He couldn't rent the properties. They stood empty too long and he could not keep up the payments.

End of story as I know it.

Aurora Loan Services, LLC

 

Aurora Loan Services, LLC

 The Plain Dealer and NPR were all over straw buyer schemes in Slavic village, when it helped to make their friends look good. 

So, please tell me why no one cares about the on-going schemes on the west side of Cleveland?? 

Case in point: Jack Peterson owns a home at 1706 Holmden in "South Tremont" down the street from the "new" Buhrer School--this after foreclosing on five (maybe more?) homes in Brooklyn Centre. 

Why did HUD transfer a property to this man?  The CDC-Old Brooklyn Development Corporation was well aware of this multiple property owner, while he ransacked Brooklyn Centre.

His last residence 3404 Archwood is now owned by multiple property owner Brian Bobula who has transferred some properties over to his wife's name and possibly other names. The property transfer involved a third party LLC--Aurora Loan Services LLC--a division Lehman Brothers. Check the auditor's site for the number of properties held by ALS.

Transfer Date: 22-AUG-08 AFN Number: Receipt:
Parcel Deed Type Vol / Page Sales Amt Convey. Fee Convey. No Multiple Sale / No. of Parcels
008-11-073 Limited Warranty Ex / $0 $0   0 / 1
  
Grantee(s) Grantor(s)
 
PETERSON, JACK
 
 
SECRETARY OF HOUSING AND URBAN DEVELOPMENT

I would also like the Plain Dealer--once and for all--to connect the dots and follow up on the details of this related story. 

CMHA paid top dollar for

houses even as property

values crashed

By John Kroll, The Plain Dealer

October 23, 2008, 11:33PM

Abe Bruckman and Sheryl Hoffman were mysteriously NOT named in this article, although they were beneficiaries of HUD money given to them to buy out their house.

If not blatantly criminal and logically part of the FBI investigation into misuse of federal funds--this property transfer, at the very least, represented a huge conflict of interest--as Abe Bruckman served as the real estate manager for Ohio City Development Corporation at the time of the property transfer to HUD.

 

straw buyer - update on the previous post

county auditor website shows the mapledale property were sold by 3206 Mapledale AvMatthew G Hughes and Kristen Runyan

Thank you

There will be more to this story--

Racketeering

The property transfers at 3404 Archwood would make your head spin...

Transfer Date: 23-SEP-08 AFN Number: Receipt:
Parcel Deed Type Vol / Page Sales Amt Convey. Fee Convey. No Multiple Sale / No. of Parcels
015-24-097 Limited Warranty / $18,600 $74.40 170677 0 / 1

Grantee(s) Grantor(s)

BOBULA, BRIAN

AURORA LOAN SERVICES, LLC.

 

It's time for  the PD to start examining this story on the west side.

 

The article mentions RICO...which stands for Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act.

 

 

PD has Cover-up story of the facts presented here

Wow, what a disgrace, the PD obviously took your story here and investigated and uncovered dirty friends and covered up the disgrace of overpaying politically connected people excessive profits with CMHA public funds, by saying it all seems okay...

I love how the PD wasted so much precious space in print - provide a .pdf online - with a huge table showing a long list of properties involved in the scam and how much each sold for and how much perverse profit there was yet they did not give the list of names of the owners, which you show above included some "Made" people who "our" community leadership is counting on to make "big things" happen here.

Click here to download a list of the 33 properties the CMHA purchased. (PDF from the PD, which is completely misleading and pointless... yet was very expensive for them to include in their newspapers, so was intended to close the discussion down with "facts")

Hopefully the powers that be will at least learn who is dirty in this and phase them out of their trusted positions before they blow up something important, like stealing funds from trusted institutions.

Raping CMHA... that is just a petty theft in real NEO 

The PD needs to stop complaining then when the real costs of such corruption ruin the community... like with the fall of National City.

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Mari Saito

I have been told time and time to "shut up," and I have contacted many people with this story and I have been ignored.  Without REALNEO, this story would have been relegated to the dustbin of history.  My neighbors, Tim and Gloria Ferris and Bill Callahan , and other civic-minded people have refused to ignore the obvious details presented by the PD today.   I find it very sad that we have had to resort to YELLING on line.  But, thanks to the new media, we sometimes get heard. 

I knew "something" was up, and so did a lot of other people, who were afraid to talk about it.  Fortunately, NPR/WCPN ran a story on straw buyers.  I heard it.  I called Dan Mouthrop and got a call back from Mari Saito, who works with Dan Mouthrop on the stories we hear on National Public Radio (NPR).  Mari did not ignore my call.  That little decision on her part was huge. She called me back.  She followed up.  She came out and SAW and THOUGHT about the obvious connections here.  Her editors are caught up in the election coverage.  I called Chris Evans from the PD, he told me to call his editors.  I called those people and never got a call back. So, I called Kevin O'Brien and despite the fact that I hardly ever agree with his opinions, HE listened.  So, there's your story.  But, I do happen to think that I would have been another nobody, if Mari Saito had decided that I was a nobody.  She didn't.  She made this story.  

 

I think that the PD

will run more on this story and the related shady land transfers going on.  I think that they are staging the story...at least, I hope that they are staging the story...  There are some big players that need to have their mug shots plastered in the PD.  Of course, the story will probably run after November 4th, so that we end up with some of those players still in office...

Norm, I don't quite understand why you are suspect of the PD's running this story?  I am glad they ran the story.  I don't think it protects anyone at this point...the right people are squirming... the PD's coverage on the unfair court treatment of drug offenders was a hopeful story, too...the print newspaper does still have relevance...

 

We need more of these stories...We can't play the traditional blame game in Cleveland anymore by saying..."It's the fault of THOSE people..."

"Those people" are no better or worse than you are...I am sick of fundraisers for "those people..."  Let's just learn to raise the standards for all of us.

 

Why run half a story with half the data?

I hope you are right that the other shoe is about to drop but I don't see the point of writing a story - front page - that does not fully explore the problem. They publish a spreadsheet they compiled about the problem, giving all the data to undertand the problem, except who caused the problem - who are the people who profited from the sales of the properties to CMHA - and how did they get the right to profit on these houses. If it was just random incompetence by CMHA - picking tight location to buy lots of bad property from whoever was there, for whatever high price they needed to pay - then perhaps the mandate on CMHA was foolish and CMHA should be under investigation. If CMHA had a broad program to overpay for property under broad terms and used that to enrich friends, through some pipeline, then lots of people need to be investigated. But I see no sign there is an ongoing investigation, so to me the PD story concluded "All good - no Man behind this curtain".

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No longer needed

  The last line....CMHA officials said residents who lived in Riverview at the time it was
demolished have an option to move into a newly purchased home, but many
have already been placed at other properties or no longer receive
housing assistance.

I don't think that this statement implies "all good," rather I think it implies that it is no longer necessary for us as a society to warehouse the "poor."

  To me it implies that CMHA should have reconsidered the actual need for the scattered site housing in the first place.  Perhaps, foster more rent to own/lease purchase options...To me,  "No longer receive housing assistance" actually implies a good thing.  That residents  aren't buying into the poverty feeding cycle.  That people can learn to stand on their own two feet.  

But, CMHA and similarly structured organizations (CDCs) don't actually want to foster independence.  That would put them out of a job...so the cycle continues with much skimming off the top.

Exactly... but not what the article writes

Not all good.

You and I come to the same conclusions, because you have been investigating this with others and assembling real facts and data here, and thinking about what is happening and what should happen in your neighborhood, and sharing that insight, and I have been following your insight... and you have it all factual and so right.

And then I see the story in the PD that leaves out all the right insight... either the writer didn't care about the story or it was edited to eliminate the meat... which is consistent with the pattern observed by Roldo about editing at the PD.

So why don't we have leadership that questions how $ millions will be spent, when what it was to be spent on is no longer needed? We need to think on the fly and change with changing times.

And, in the new economy, we need to be honest and be fair, which is not maximizing your profit from CMHA (or CDCs). 

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Insight

Or just plain balls (cohones:)?  I have been one of those people on the back end of the horse costume (still am) and nothing--NOTHING-- is more painful than knowing you are being told to implement a stupid idea, or worse, go along with something criminal.  To be silenced by the fear of losing your job, sadly shows that we our living under totalitarianism.

 

I feel for the PD writers. There are some good ones and, even the bad ones, some times, have their good days. But, you are right and Roldo is right--the fish head smells and it is killing our region's ability to SEE and THINK for ourselves. Ironically, the second graders are reading Swimmy* by the literary giant and illustrator Leo Lionni, this week .

 

My recommended reading for the LEADERS in our region.

 

(FTR, Leo means Lion, symbolically associated with leaders... :)

Please read

Please read Roldo's comments.  Do that much and think about the weak leaders the PD is "protecting" now (Unless, as I hope, they are coming out with more to the story).

"When CMHA goes house-hunting..."

While the PD coverage of CHMA still smells of cover-up, at least the PD is reflecting upon the corruption and waste at CHMA... with a new editorial on this issue today, posted here... a highlight:

As Cleveland real estate values drop faster than a 401(k),
CMHA - apparently oblivious to the foreclosure crisis -
purchased these properties at a significant markup. Windfall
recipients include speculators like Scott Such, who scored a
$52,000 profit, and Desiree Marble, who walked away with
more than $76,000.

Now, how exactly did folks like Such and Marble and others get to the head of the CMHA bank account...  who do they know?

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2520 Woodbridge

I transposed the numbers...of the house torn down across from the new South Pointe Commons development.  I think Henry Senyak has more of a read on that part of "Tremont."  *Very suspicious tear down of a 1920 home and commercial building.  No real information forthcoming on what type of plaza is proposed, but it looks like it will probably include a Chinese fast food :(  See Archwood owners...See Brooklyn Centre plaza...Same family...)

(Update: link to Tremonter.com is gone "poof!"  It's so easy to make online information disappear, which is why we still need newspapers that get microfilmed/indexed and archived at your local library).

TREMONTER: CORRUPTION IN TREMONT, Oct 2008 by Henry Senyak

Someone said that they needed the Tremonter history.... I have a piece of it and am posting it here for you.

Last Fall, I found the Tremonter website and was absolutely amazed by it. I had sent the link info to myself...and here's the copy/paste of that info which I had saved............... Don't know if any of it's what you all need...but here it is....

 

 


Political Corruption and Patronage in Cleveland & Cuyahoga County (Add Stories and Commentary to this Thread)

Posted October 28th, 2008 by Henry Senyak

Investigator Exclusive: It's not what you know, it's who you know that matters in city hall hiring

Cleveland -- A Channel 3 News investigation found questionable hiring practices at Cleveland City Hall that include the hiring of family members and friends and a blatant disregard for civil service rules.

The Civil Service Employees Association has taken the city to court, alleging the city often ignores civil service regulations and hires anyone it pleases.  The group cites more than 900 city employees who have never taken a mandatory civil service exam.

 

Louis Brown took a test, and complains it didn't do him a bit of good in trying to land a better job with the city.

 

Brown tested for the position of deputy project director.  He scored well, placing 13 out of 69.  But he lost out to someone who never took the exam and. therefore, was never on the job eligibility list.

 

Kevin Prendergast of the civil service employees association told The Investigator Tom Meyer that "if you know someone, if you're connected to a councilman, if you're connected to an existing employee, that's the best way to get a job at city hall, not by taking a civil service test."

 

Channel 3 News found dozens of employees with connections throughout departments city-wide.

 

Some of those connections include Council President Marty Sweeney, whose sister-in-law Carolyn Bruening works for Cleveland Public Power.  Sweeney pays his executive assistant Maureen Brady an extra $600 a month.  Brady is the sister of Sweeney's brother-in-law.

 

Former public utilities director Julius Ciaccia left the city to head the sewer district but his sister remains on the city payroll.

 

Voters are being asked in November to revise civil service rules. One would allow those 900 city employees to keep their union or civil-service protected jobs without ever having to take attest. 

 

Councilman Mike Polensek fought the proposal, saying "I'm not about to open a door here for political patronage."  Polensek referred to published reports out of the county auditor's office recently that detailed numerous hires as a result of political connections.

 

In July, the FBI raided county offices seeking all kinds of public records in its public corruption probe, including documents on hiring and employee qualifications.  

 

http://www.wkyc.com/news/investigative/investigative_article.aspx?storyid=99577&catid=230

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Oh yes Henry, That's not

Oh yes Henry,

That's not the only place where "it's who you know"  they need to do some investigating in some other areas - where they play musical chairs and the poor people pay the price.  Like in the Tremont area - if you get my drift.

Chicago is similar.

Chicago is similar.

       Thank god the FBI is investigating City Hall now!!

Does this story sound familar to people who we elected to represent us in Cleveland?

 Compliments of the Chicago Tribune Website, link provided below.

chicagotribune.com
Ex-alderman pleads guilty to fraud charges
Troutman could serve 4 to 5 years in prison

By Jeff Coen and Dan Mihalopoulos

Chicago Tribune reporters

10:02 PM CDT, August 6, 2008

After she was charged with corruption in early 2007, Ald. Arenda Troutman (20th) defiantly denied wrongdoing and suggested she had been targeted for political reasons.

"Folk in my community understand there can be false allegations when there is someone who is the voice of the people," Troutman told the Tribune at the time.

But on Wednesday, a subdued Troutman admitted that prosecutors had been right after all and that for several years she had solicited cash from developers to back projects in her ward.

Troutman, dressed in a colorful summer dress despite the rather somber occasion, nodded and quietly answered "yes" when a federal judge asked her if she had accepted illegal payments.

She likely faces about 4 to 5 years in prison after she pleaded guilty to one felony count each of mail fraud and tax fraud. U.S. District Judge Ruben Castillo scheduled sentencing for Dec. 3.

Troutman becomes the 12th Chicago alderman to be convicted of wrongdoing in the last 20 years, but the first since Percy Giles (37th) in 1999.

Prosecutors detailed the evidence against Troutman, including conversations that an undercover informant recorded as part of the FBI sting that snared her. In one exchange, the alderman promised to smooth the way for a development but then asked, "What do I get out of it?"

In another infamous quote that was caught on tape and later drew scorn from council colleagues, Troutman compared politics in Chicago to prostitution.

"Most aldermen, most politicians are hos," she said.

In the 33-page plea agreement, Troutman admitted it was "the general practice" of her office to direct staffers to solicit donations from developers seeking to do business in the 20th Ward. Prosecutors laid out payoffs totaling $21,500 in the document.

Whether it was to change zoning, allow alley access or approve the sale of city-owned property, Troutman made it clear her support "would either not be forthcoming or would be delayed" if she weren't paid, the plea agreement said.

Troutman long enjoyed the support of some of Mayor Richard Daley's most prominent black allies, including Bishop Arthur Brazier and Rev. Leon Finney Jr. But after the corruption charges came as she campaigned for a fifth term, Brazier and Finney threw their backing to challenger Willie Cochran in the February 2007 election.

Cochran won a landslide victory, but Troutman, comparing herself to Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., declined to concede the race in election-night comments to her supporters.

"She had a certain level of constituents who trusted her, and this I'm sure leaves them with a heavy heart, to know that after all the proclamations of innocence she is pleading guilty," Cochran said Wednesday. "I'm glad this is coming to a close."

The 20th Ward includes some of the city's poorest and most crime-ridden neighborhoods, but it's also at the edge of a spreading wave of new homes along the South Side lakefront.

Some community leaders said Troutman held up important redevelopment projects, but she responded that critics were promoting "the scourge of gentrification."

As part of the investigation, the FBI sent a mole named Andre Johnson to see Troutman. An elder in a Baptist church, Johnson told Troutman that a wealthy investor was looking to build a mixed-use building on South Halsted Street.

For her backing, Johnson gave a $5,000 check to a women's auxiliary linked to Troutman to pay for tickets to a campaign fundraiser.

The 20th Ward Women's Auxiliary was supposed to be a nonprofit organization, but Assistant U.S. Atty. Joseph Alesia said tens of thousands of dollars in cash were withdrawn from the organization without any public accounting.

Troutman left court Wednesday without comment, but her attorney, Sam Adam Jr., said that she would not cooperate with the government and simply wanted to put the case behind her.

"For the benefit of her family and for the benefit of her personally, we felt this was the best thing to do at this time," Adam said.

Charges in the case are still pending against Steven Boone, a former Troutman aide, and Vince Gilbert, her onetime political adviser.

Both have pleaded not guilty to participating in the payoff scheme. In some of the illegal arrangements, prosecutors said, Gilbert forced his way into development projects as a partner so he could give Troutman kickbacks from his share of the business.

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/chi-troutman-plea-webaug07,0,4728103.story

 

Thanks for the update Henry,

Thanks for the update Henry,

I'm wondering about the FBI closing in and perhaps finding that the "Dimora" gang has a lot of these local developers in their pockets as well.  I believe that some of the architects involved in the developments actually work for the city.  Conflict of interest - getting paid on both sides perhaps?  It's time to stop fooling around, get down to the knitty gritty and bring some of the misuse of authority, funds and representations in our neighborhood out into the open.

The poor, elderly and less fortunate in this area have suffered long enough, not to mention long-time residents that are being forced to "tally up to somebody else's standards."

I think it's time to put a plan of action in play.  Take back our community and let the chips fall where they may. 

Jerleen

 

 

 

 

 

Chicago Part #2      

Chicago Part #2

      NEIGHBORHOODS FOR SALE: PART 5
Who calls the shots in your backyard? Not you.
Tribune investigation:

In a system city officials call a national model, aldermen collect campaign donations from developers. Developers benefit from looser building rules approved by aldermen. And residents?

By Dan Mihalopoulos and Robert Becker

Chicago Tribune reporters

August 20, 2008

City politicians call Chicago a national model for how to involve the public in real estate development debates. But the view from the streets of the city's neighborhoods is markedly different.

When a longtime homeowner tried to speak up at the only City Council hearing on a project in his Far North Side neighborhood, aldermen threatened to toss him from the room for trying to ask questions.

"I'm feeling like chopped liver," Hugh Devlin, who lives in the 50th Ward, said after the council rubber-stamped his alderman's approval of a proposed seven-story, 90-unit building that he and many other neighbors oppose.

In the ongoing "Neighborhoods for Sale" series, the Tribune has documented an insiders' game in which aldermen rake in millions of dollars in campaign cash from developers, zoning lawyers and architects while often overriding the concerns of homeowners and city planners. Out-of-scale buildings leave existing homes in their shadows, the result of nearly 6,000 council-approved zoning changes in the last 10 years that have transformed neighborhoods.

The results of this patchwork approach to development have been jarring, with mini-mansions replacing modest bungalows and condo blocks rising over increasingly traffic-choked streets.

The Tribune has found that zoning rules have been ignored or changed to make it easier for developers and harder for residents to have a meaningful say in what gets built on their streets.

Developers commonly fail to put up signs required by law to notify neighbors of proposed zoning changes. Neighbors frequently don't get letters notifying them of nearby projects.

And if they manage to learn of pending proposals and attend the City Hall hearings, they may find themselves prohibited from asking questions of developers and aldermen.

For a street-level view of how the code really works, look at the 50th Ward and the story of the proposed seven-story senior housing complex the City Council recently approved at the behest of Ald. Bernard Stone. Many of the persistent problems with the city's system—the lack of proper notice for neighbors, the impotence of city planners, the disdain for public opinion—were evident in the recent dispute in the West Rogers Park neighborhood.

At issue was a west suburban doctor's $9 million plan for almost 100 units of senior housing and ground-floor commercial space on a vacant lot in the 6900 block of North Western Avenue.

No signs on project sites

Under a city rule approved just a few years ago, the developer was required to display a notice of the hearing on the property. While the developer's attorneys provided photos of the sign on the day of the Zoning Committee hearing, no sign was on display at the site during several visits by the Tribune in the weeks before the committee vote.

There's no doubt the developer's attorney knows the rules. He's James Banks, nephew of Ald. William Banks (36th), chairman of the City Council's Zoning Committee, and one of the city's most successful zoning lawyers.

Neighborhood activists say they only learned of the project when they noticed that Stone had placed the proposal on the council's Zoning Committee agenda. They complained, prompting the alderman to put off the committee vote and call unofficial public meetings at his office.

Alerted by activists, the crowds at the meetings in Stone's ward office were overwhelmingly against the project. But Stone made it clear he supported the project.

"Why shouldn't we build it?" Stone told the crowd.

They replied that the developer had conducted no study of how traffic would affect the area, that parking was insufficient and that the new building would be far taller than any structure in the area.

When one critic asked Stone why no sign had been displayed, the alderman responded that he was among the council members who instituted the sign requirement, but he quickly added: "I am not a policeman. We do not enforce that. All we do is pass the law."

The alderman told the crowd that the "proper place" to question the process would be in the courts.

The rule requiring signs at proposed project sites is ignored across the city more often than it is obeyed, the Tribune investigation found.

Signs were supposed to be up within five days at the sites of the 26 zoning proposals introduced at the April council meeting. Almost a month later, no signs were visible on 14 of those properties visited by reporters.

No signs were visible on any of the five properties where the law firm of James Banks and his father, Samuel Banks, were representing the developers. They did not return calls seeking comment.

Many of the about 100 people at Stone's meeting also said they never received mail notices from James Banks, who told the crowd his office had indeed mailed the notices. The City Council rewrote the old rules that stated letters be sent by registered mail. Now, regular mail is allowed.

Questions cut

When the 50th Ward project came to the council's Zoning Committee for a vote on May 20, two residents—including Devlin—showed up to protest, while a third resident offered support for the project.

As James Banks appeared before the board, his uncle the committee chairman said he would not participate in the discussion or vote because of his family ties to the project's lawyer. Ald. Eugene Schulter (47th) temporarily served as chairman.

When it was his turn to testify, Devlin asked Schulter why the applicant's lawyer failed to post a sign. Schulter responded that witnesses at the committee cannot ask questions. When Devlin asked again, Schulter threatened to call security to toss Devlin from the meeting.

Devlin apologized and told the committee that he wanted to note the multiple political donations to his alderman from the Banks law firm and from the project architect's. State records show more than $3,000 in donations to Stone from Samuel Banks.

Schulter cut off Devlin: "That's totally, totally out of line. Totally out of line. We are talking about the project before the committee at this time . . . This is totally irrelevant."

Planners mum

Devlin likewise got no help from the city Zoning Department's staff, which had recommended against the project because it would be "too dense" for the neighborhood. The Daley administration's top two zoning officials, both of whom were previously aides to Ald. Banks, sat silently through the committee meeting.

The lone proponent, Nadim Siddiqui, said, "I would like to have a senior citizen rental area around where I would live."

Stone moved to approve the plans, noting that the developer agreed to add more parking spaces and had assured him the new structure would end up shorter than the maximum allowed under the new zoning. The committee unanimously did as Stone wished and the full City Council approved the plan June 11.

After the committee hearing, Devlin approached project architect John Hanna outside the council chambers. He asked Hanna why he gave $3,000 to Stone before last year's hard-fought 50th Ward election, even though Hanna does not live in the ward.

"I get requests [for donations] all the time, from every alderman," Hanna responded.

"This money has a big effect on who represents my neighborhood here," said Devlin, a computer consultant who has lived in the ward since 1975.

"Politics is politics, you know?" Hanna said. "Nice meeting you."

Compliments of the Chicago Tribune Website, link provided below.

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/chi-zoning-nosay-20aug20,0,5685689.story

Chicago #3     

Chicago #3

     NEIGHBORHOODS FOR SALE: PART 2
Community input an illusion
Tribune investigation:

ALDERMEN: They decide who can build what. Money, not planning, often drives the process.
ADVISORY GROUPS: Billed as neighborhood's voice, they are often stacked with developers.

By Robert Becker and Dan Mihalopoulos

Tribune reporters

January 28, 2008

 

Chicago aldermen wield near-absolute power over development in their wards, but most insist they get neighborhood input from community groups or handpicked advisory panels before approving or rejecting projects.

What they don't say is that those groups often are stacked with real estate agents, developers and campaign donors with vested interests in the zoning decisions made by the aldermen.

One alderman backed zoning changes that let a developer tear down several modest homes on the Near West Side and replace them with three-story condos, projects that were OKd by a community group.

The group was familiar with the developer -- he's a longtime leader of the organization.

Another alderman got the backing of his own advisory panel before he approved the zoning change for a redevelopment project in Logan Square, a neighborhood in the midst of the city's gentrification wave. The owner of the land happened to sit on the panel. He sold the property, with its valuable zoning change, for nearly $1 million more than he had paid less than two years earlier.

An unprecedented Tribune investigation, including an analysis of 5,700 zoning changes over the last 10 years, found city neighborhoods being remade by a development boom greased by millions of dollars in political donations to aldermen.

As neighborhoods are transformed, advisory groups frequently offer no more than the illusion of community input. But the political cover they provide for aldermen is very real.

Even Ald. William J.P. Banks (36th), the longtime chairman of the City Council's Zoning Committee, doubts that recommendations from committees created by aldermen represent true community sentiment. Banks estimates that about half of the city's 50 aldermen appoint their own advisory panels.

"Any alderman can create a committee and make them do what you want them to do, or the applicants [for zoning changes] can stack the committee," Banks said.

In zoning matters, the City Council's unwritten rule is that aldermen retain ultimate say over what gets built in their wards.

Developers seeking valuable zoning changes that allow them to build bigger and taller projects often donate to the campaigns of aldermen. The city's ethics ordinance limits the size of campaign donations to aldermen from people seeking zoning changes, but the provision doesn't prevent aldermen from receiving additional donations from companies with ties to those same applicants.

Billed by many council members as part-buffer, part-sounding board, community groups and aldermanic advisory panels offer a way to measure grass-roots support and get expert advice before zoning decisions are made. In fact, some community groups have forced concessions from developers, helping avert potential problems with traffic and parking or providing input on the design of new buildings.

But residents across the city complain that they don't have access to their alderman's select panel, or that they're frustrated when they go to community meetings only to find that real estate interests dominate the debate.

Million-dollar markup

When Ald. Rey Colon (35th) was elected to the City Council in 2003, he promised to form an advisory panel to give residents a greater voice in the development of the rapidly gentrifying Logan Square area.

In 2006, Colon sponsored a zoning change for 30 new condos with first-floor storefronts at Armitage Avenue and Whipple Street after his handpicked panel gave its blessing.

Among the panel members was Mark Fishman -- a major campaign contributor to Colon.

The developer for the project? That was Fishman too.

But the land remains undeveloped. Shortly after getting the zoning change, Fishman sold the property for $2.35 million. He had bought it 20 months earlier for less than $1.4 million.

Through his many real estate companies, Fishman has donated more than $32,000 to Colon's campaign committees, state records show. That includes $9,300 that Fishman donated while Colon's panel considered whether to back the Armitage project.

"He gives money to the alderman, he's on the alderman's zoning committee and he makes more than $900,000 without doing anything," said Bruce Anderson, who quit as the group's chairman two years ago because he thought the panel was too friendly to developers.

Colon's advisory panel has included block club representatives and other community activists, as well as real estate agents and developers. Like many such groups, it meets in private with people seeking zoning changes.

On some development issues, Colon later holds public meetings. But Anderson said when he was panel chairman, decisions typically were made in private before the rest of the neighborhood could be heard.

Colon acknowledged that the zoning change he approved for Fishman had greatly increased the value of the land, but he said campaign contributions had nothing to do with his decision. The alderman said he and his zoning advisers were stunned to learn of Fishman's quick sale of the site.

"We expected the project to be there by now," Colon said.

Colon said Fishman subsequently left the panel because of criticism stemming from the Armitage deal. Fishman declined to comment.

Still, the alderman defended his zoning advisory panel: "It's not a perfect tool, but it gives me cover."

Eckhart Park turmoil

Construction has been galloping through the city's Near West Side, where the Eckhart Park Community Council works with Ald. Walter Burnett (27th) on development issues.

Several group leaders are in the real estate business: developer Charles Glanzer; his wife and business partner, Jacqueline Moore; and Roland Kowal, a real estate agent.

Glanzer and Kowal say there is no conflict between their business interests and their volunteer roles on the council.

"I do almost no business in this area," Kowal said at a recent meeting.

"I've turned down tens of thousands of dollars worth of business because of my involvement in this organization," Glanzer told group members.

But Glanzer and Kowal haven't turned down everything.

Glanzer has secured zoning changes for at least four condominium projects from Burnett, and the new condos now loom over older neighboring homes.

Glanzer and Burnett both appeared before the City Council in 2005 and told aldermen that the community group supported Glanzer's plans for a new three-unit condo building at 1449 W. Augusta Blvd. Burnett said then that the developer had no role in the community council's support for the project.

"Of course we made sure he recused himself from those proceedings and that the other members from the [community group] judged them just as they would have judged everyone else," Burnett told other aldermen, according to meeting records.

Within a month of the zoning change, Burnett's campaign fund received a $1,500 check from Glanzer's wife. Glanzer has given an additional $1,100 to the ward's Democratic organization, which supports Burnett.

Glanzer and Moore also got a zoning change from Burnett for a property at 1404 W. Erie St. The couple bought the property for $340,000 and sold it less than a year later -- shortly after the zoning change was granted -- for $550,000 to another developer who built a three-unit condominium there.

Kowal, the real estate agent and community council member, sold two of the three new units, according to the Multiple Listing Service.

Glanzer declined to comment for this story. In an interview, Kowal said he did not get involved in the West Erie project until after it was approved by the community group.

"There's got to be hundreds of zoning modifications that this committee has supported [over the last 10 years]," he said, "and most of these folks are people that I've never had another word with."

Kowal said few of his neighbors volunteer their time for the group, but he does because he wants to improve the neighborhood and feels that many of the new buildings help accomplish that goal.

"The biggest issue is to try to create a community that has enough activity, that can monitor crime, that can support services, so we don't have to drive everywhere," Kowal said.

But in recent months, there has been growing sentiment among some members that the group should do more to slow the pace of development.

"Right now, it's not fair and balanced," said Ken Endres, a longtime member of the Eckhart Park group. "It's partial to developers. ... The community has lost its voice."

'They know quality'

The community council's support for bigger and taller buildings has fit neatly with Burnett's pro-development views. The 27th Ward boasted the third-highest number of zoning changes allowing larger new construction in the city during the 2003-07 council term, a Tribune analysis of city records found. Developers, contractors and others in the real estate business have been major contributors to Burnett's political campaigns.

Burnett said he has never given Glanzer special treatment. And the alderman said he sees no problem with developers or others in the real estate industry participating in community groups.

"They know quality. They know design," Burnett said. "You don't want a whole bunch of people who don't know anything."

Burnett said he makes the final zoning decisions himself, often holding additional public meetings at his office to get input from residents who don't belong to community groups. He said he puts the wishes of his constituents above developers, regardless of campaign contributions.

"They're like a girlfriend -- they're not like a wife," Burnett said of developers. "They're with you until they see the next handsome guy or somebody with more money."

The zoning flow

Community groups offer one of the few chances for residents to have a say on development plans in their neighborhoods. But a Tribune investigation found that developers and others with real-estate interests often dominate such groups.

APPLICATION

In most cases, the process begins with an application to the city from a property owner or potential buyer. Applicants describe why they need zoning changes. Commonly, they want to build bigger and taller residential buildings than what the existing zoning allows.

NOTIFICATION

Applicants are responsible for posting notices of proposals on the site and for sending letters to property owners within 250 feet.

COMMUNITY GROUPS

Neighborhood organizations or zoning panels appointed by aldermen. Many of the groups hold private meetings with developers. Recommendations are purely advisory.

CITY STAFF

The city Zoning Department reviews proposed changes. It issues recommendations based on whether construction would be compatible with the neighborhood.

ZONING COMMITTEE

City Council's Zoning Committee holds public hearings on proposals at City Hall. But proposed zoning changes normally do not appear on the committee's agenda unless they already have the alderman's blessing.

CITY COUNCIL

The full council grants final approval to plans passed by the Zoning Committee, usually without any further debate.

Compliments of the Chicago Tribune Website, link provided below.

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/chi-zoning29oct29,0,2204141.story

Chicago   Here is a link

Chicago

 

Here is a link to all the political corruption in Chicago regarding councilman, zoning favors, and campaign contibutions.

 

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/specials/chi-zoning-storygallery,0,6709336.storygallery

how about them

how about them bears!?!

 and some wonder why everyone except about 2or3 people has quit contributing to this site..

the chicagoter

well, ya know what Lou - the

well, ya know what Lou - the solution isnt to just pretend it isnt happening...or hope it all turns out better for everyone. the bald fact is our sweet little tremont is the object of unbridled greed - AND because I rEAlly care about it - I'm going to say something. And so are the others speaking out. So if it rains on your little parade - so be it.

dbra, you know what I don't

dbra, you know what I don't get?  We are supposed to have the right to freedom of speech. yet, if you don't say what they want to hear - they don't want to communicate.  The things i've been researching - came right from "the horse's mouth."  Yo do know that the "TRUTH" is an affirmative defense. 

You know what I did?  I was supposed to attend the "safety committee" meeting this month and then take some info back to the Central Tremont Block Club about the camera program.  The meeting was cancelled - therefore, I didn't get the info I needed.  So, I sent an e-mail to TWDC safety committee - posing a number of questions that would have helped in the discussion about a grant.  No one got back to me - I made a second request - no response - what am I supposed to think - since I didn't get any info - I must find the answers myself - you would think they would respond since THEY are promoting this issue.  Since TWDC is "suppose" to be for the community - why do they get their knickers in a twist when questions are asked? 

Talk to you later,

Jerleen

you dont play by thEIr

you dont play by thEIr rules, Jerleen....thank gOd for that!

Oh dbra, right now I'm about

Oh dbra, right now I'm about to be the most uninvited guest of the south side.  I got such a laugh from your comment.  I don't mind abiding by the "RULES" as long as they are fair for everyone and "ALL" are allowed to participate (those that wish to).  But let me tell you - I went to the TWDC board meeting a couple of weeks ago - and, of course, my sister, sister-in-law and I were unannounced - not only were we unannounced, we were totally ignored - I mean the cold shoulder - with the exception of Chris Garland getting us a chair - you could feel the north wind. 

I sat elbow to elbow with Tom Cook and no body introduced themselves, or even bothered to say "glad you could join us." They passed us a sign in sheet and somebody said "we have guests."  How's that for requesting community participation.  I was under the impression that this was a meeting open to the public?  They will probably lock the doors from now own. 

Everybody wants to know "WHY" I have become (all so recently) involved with certain issues.  Well, it is not as recent as they would like to think.  Like I tell everybody, "just because I don't sit on my front porch, doesn't mean I'm not home."  I have many years of experience with this neighborhood and I truly resent the "newcommers" who have been here for a couple of years, trying to intimitate the old-timers and their families.

When I see with my own eyes that people are being mistreated and looked over, denied help - given meer handouts - when an organization that was founded to help the poor  is providing thousands of dollars from the "Model Block Fund" to aid privite business owners - who have already been given 10-15 years of tax abatement, to purchase a parking lot - oh, I get mad.  Where are the funds from a "Model Block Fund" to help those that have lived in this community for 30, 40, 50 or 60 years - to aid in making their property look better - to provide some relief to those that have broken their backs paying for their old beat up homes?  WHERE? WHERE? WHERE? 

The only thing that seems to be of importance of late, is how much alcohol can be served on the sidewalks up and down Professor.  How far they can stretch the "BUDDY SYSTEM."  and you know what?  I will say what I mean and own what I say.  And if the truth hurts - oh well.   The constitution provides us with freedom of speech and freedom of the press.

Sorry, I get carried away.  But I feel so passionate about this entire situation and I feel that desperate times - calls for desperate measures. 

 

 

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so they finally killed it

 for good?

that was a blast from the past - but its interesting to remember the issue that started the whole "Tremont War" - - "stepped - up" housing code enforcement, with the battle cry belched out by Sandy Smith and John Moss, all in the dawning of an historic economic crisis...

i guess you could say Moss couldn't see the crisis coming, but he and his mother and other family members are/were Merrill Lynch executives.... or one of the financial cheaters that walked off with our tax dollars... yo well...

and the "housing code enforcement" was shown to be what it was - a tool for political revenge and real estate development to advantage a few (Mr. Cantania etal). were it not for a handful of "troublemakers" they would have cleaned up with the whole monopoly board.

I wonder what Lou has to say now...

 

PD is protecting some people

  Follow the string of posts here...I agree with Norm...the PD will never investigate or connect the dots here...

The question is WHY are they protecting these people? Let's watch this west side address 03066 W 110 ST and make sure that it doesn't transfer to CMHA.

And, such low taxes?

Do I mind paying taxes...no...because I understand that it is intended to provide for a service...and I would be paying much higher taxes in the suburbs...but when I see that some people are getting a sweetheart deal and that my taxes get misdirected to fund projects and demolitions to benefit folks who live outside the City of Cleveland...especially developers...well, it makes me MAD. 

Parasites

 

  Mr. Money Store, you are a parasite.  The man involved with the REIT that bought the house across from me is a parasite.  He goes home to his family in Shaker Heights.  The police tried to find him yesterday, because his property is an open invitation to kids and hoodlums to rob the place. 

Three juveniles kicked in the window the basement yesterday.  I scared them away from the house, but they will be back.  Maybe, he will read this today and get the window fixed and properly secure the place, so the family next door, a father, a mother, two teen age girls and a baby, won't awake to a mystery fire or worse.

OREIA opposes Land Bank Authority in NEO

  WCPN ran a short story on Governor Strickland's signing of the legislation that authorizes a land bank in Cuyahoga County.  My own personal opinion--the legislation is theft in broad daylight.  I am not the only one who thinks so--Ohio Real Estate Investors' Association is mounting their own campaign against the legislation. 

 

LAWMAKERS ARE STRIPPING YOUR PRIVATE PROPERTY RIGHTS FROM YOU AS YOU SLEEP!!!! GOVERNMENT IS GOING INTO IMMEDIATE COMPETITION WITH YOU AS INVESTORS, REHABBERS & HOUSING PROVIDERS. THEY ARE SOCIALIZING THE ENTIRE HOUSING MARKET!!!

All members need to CALL, WRITE OR EMAIL your State Senators immediately. Use this link to get your State Senators contact information, it is easy and only takes 2 minutes of your time!!!!

http://www.legislature.state.oh.us/

ALL INVESTORS MUST CONTACT YOUR STATE SENATOR A.S.A.P.

Tell your State Senator to VOTE NO on S.B. 353. S.B. 353 is currently in the Senate State & Local Government Committee. Below is a list of the committee members. If you live in the following counties, your Senator sits on this committee and it is IMPERATIVE that you contact your Senator at the below link:


TELL YOUR SENATOR YOU WANT HIM/HER TO VOTE NO ON S.B. 353 BECAUSE YOU DO NOT WANT YOUR GOVERNMENT TO:

  1. Authorizes counties to form a county land reutilization corporation (CLRC), a nonprofit corporation, for the purposes of promoting development and managing and facilitating the reclamation, rehabilitation, and reutilization of vacant, abandoned, tax-foreclosed, or other real property.
  2. Borrow money through lines of credit or any other financial instrument or security
  3. Purchase, receive, transfer, hold, manage, lease, or otherwise acquire or dispose of real or personal property
  4. Acquire the good will, business, rights, real and personal property, and other assets or interest of another person or entity
  5. Acquire or manage improved or unimproved and underutilized real estate for the purpose of constructing industrial plants, business establishments, or housing to increase utilization of real estate
  6. Purchase delinquent property tax certificates
  7. Receive assignments of mortgages
  8. Do everything "necessary or convenient to carry out" the [THEIR] corporation's purposes

 

The question is--what took OREIA so long to figure it out?

Socialization of the housing market

 Wouldn't be such a bad thing, if human behavior didn't corrupt the process...but there is no such thing as good use of public monies (unless there are clear and measureable services to be SEEN as in streets repaired, open rec centers, garbage removal etc)...it's a pool of money to abuse.  See CDCs, CMSD, see HUD/CMHA, see any public agency with a large pool of generally unwatched funds...see the money disappear into the pockets of unscrupulous administrators.  See those folks take the money and run.

Now, that the cat is out of the bag, ask why proponents of the land bank in Cuyahoga County never examined the county's previous social program...the downpayment assistance program.  How well has that public subsidy program performed for the benefit of the community?

How do construction, development, work - in Cleveland - for me.

Many times, under conditions of some economic duress, we shift to locales or environments that raise our awareness and activate an inner passion. Mine is for positive change toward a sustainable future. So let's get less idealistic and much, much more practical for a little bit here.

I have been informed by many people that entrenched networks dictate how business, and everything else is run in this town. Folks serving as Board Directors for chemical dependency centers or nonprofits should not be simple minded, resistant to change, selfish, potentially racist, or ignorant. But many of these Trustees and others are. It is there imperative to change now, because a new administration is here. And they are watching very, very closely. They know who, historically have been 'naughty or nice'. And if we enable these folks, with as much potential as anyone else, to do the right things sooner than later - yet again, the greater good prevails.

Construction deals have gone down within closed networks for eons, as have development deals. Money begets more money, and greed begets greed. Payoffs, kickbacks, sexual favors, etc.. where does it end, to get a deal done? These are harsh realities of the world , the Cleveland that is. I am not ignorant of the fact that a 'hotel' existed in the Cleveland Athletic Club. I was a member for four months. And do you really know what that 'hotel' was for, historically, especially?

Do you, now? That Club is no more. And others have shifted from this ancient practice - while still others refuse to change behavior. Ethics, Ethics, Ethics.

They teach it at Case - but do they, as leaders, really practice it, couple with true Servant leadership? A few, yes.. but many: NO.

The point here isn't to take a radical approach but to discuss these issues, fairly, in a balanced way. God knows I've been accused of being unbalanced. I've admitted to personal health issues, but who hasn't had these, at some point in one's life? I'm happy to say the Yoga and Meditation have helped immensely. And yes, this is personal info, but truth and transparency will set you free. The battle I'll wage will result in personal victory.

Development simultaneously on community and individual levels - for certain. Positive change. Yoga, meditation, reflection, moderation. All are being employed while I speak

The facts - I've historically known i've drunk a bit much, or self medicated a bit much- as many of the richest still do today. But this is about to change. A personal declaration of self-modfification - reduce! - everything in moderation - to outer and inner health. NOW.

Daylighting

  Sudhir, you talk about daylighting the buried past.  Yes, it should all be acknowledged and then we should move on to make a community that benefits everyone, not the select few.  Please don't let your compassion ruin your health.  You are a very caring person trying to make peace happen and it is easy to fall apart under the strain.  There are a lot of people here at REALNEO trying to do the same thing.  You are not alone.

Will never let that happen, Laura

Compassion will not ruin my health, Laura, I promise. And I have a right to make clear that which has happened in the past, I am certainly ready to move on and I am not harping on this any more. Please respect my right to respect myself and express myself. I will not behave in paranoid ways, I will never be a danger to myself or others, and I am working on self improvement on many levels... these things I promise. Just as an FYI for anyone, I would appreciate none of my posts being edited. This creates an aura of imbalance or non-surety. That's all.

I am, as I made clear, on a mission toward full health and vibrancy through moderation. Thanks much for your concern, Laura. And do not believe rumors you hear. I will effect a moderation, meditation approach and not tolerate insults or jabs. I am documenting those I get, they are not fabricated. I've been nothing but honest from the beginning. So yes, I am moving on, but as truth comes to light, it will be revealed.

No mumbo jumbo, just fact. And your concern is very touching - love you, in that detached yet caring, way. We all are a team and doing great work toward this end, for the most part. Glad to hear, and lets move on. Peace!

BBC2

  I go by an alias on the Plain Dealer site--I am BBC2..

REALNEO meanders and I am the most guilty of it--half my life is spent scratching my head, because NEO :the Play is so convoluted.  I apologize for not presenting the unfolding drama in a more coherent fashion.  It's so Dada/existential/absurdist that I have given up.

http://www.cleveland.com/opinion/index.ssf/2009/04/ne_ohio_can_lead_the_way_in_he.html#preview

Any budding playwrights/screenwriters out there?

HUD shell game

 
 

Just the tip of the HUD money iceberg...from the PD court watch:

Court Watch: Upcoming cases in Cuyahoga County

Posted by djmiller [at] plaind [dot] com May 11, 2009 08:17AM

Categories: Breaking News, Crime

Maricel Cajes, 32, of Medina, sister-in-law Francine Blackwell, 52, of Bedford, her daughter, April Blackwell, 32, of Garfield Heights, Laura Cobbins, 44, of Cleveland, and her sister, Barbara Bibb, 56, of Cleveland: Arraignment Tuesday. They are accused of scamming the Cuyahoga County Metropolitan Housing Authority out of $60,000.

Prosecutors say they owned, sold and rented Section 8 houses to each other. Laura Cobbins is also accused of using a fake identity to get a $96,000 loan from federal housing agencies then defaulting on it. They are charged with engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity, theft, money laundering and tampering with government records

Straw buyers

  Does Stan Donaldson still work for the PD?  Does he care to follow up on the ultimate straw buyer in Brooklyn Centre- one of the worst, who recently picked up a home on Holmden from HUD after defaulting on five properties on the near west side.

 

Addresses

  These addresses compile some of the demolitions and/or transfers to date listed on this site--all Cleveland west of the Cuyahoga River:

Demolitions/Inspectors/Contractors?:

2000 Denison
2606 Riverside
2901 Denison
2520 Woodbridge
2401 Denison
 

HUD Transfers:

3260 Mapledale
3722 Mack Ct.
3404 Archwood/1706 Holmden

 

Connect the dots

  The Plain Dealer is starting to connect the dots.

Two Cleveland housing inspectors have bought recently inspected properties

Posted by Gabriel Baird and Joseph L. Wanger/ Plain Dealer Reporters June 15, 2009 06:00AM

 
 
From the Comments:
Posted by AScoreKeeper on 06/15/09 at 11:25AM

More Than A Bakers' Dozen [13+] & "other troubles in River City"
As of June 15, 2009

"You can't tell all the players without a SCORECARD!"

1. CUYAHOGA COUNTY
- Recorder Patrick J. O'Malley [Convicted]
- Commissioner Jimmy DiMora
- Commissioner Frank Russo
- RoseMary [Go Between] Vinci [DOA]

2. CUYAHOGA COUNTY ENGINEER'S OFFICE
- J. Kevin Kelley
- Kevin Payne
- Daniel Gallagher
- Brian Schuman,
- Parma Mayor Dean DePiero

3. JUDGES
- Judge Stephen Terry,
- Judge Bridget McCafferty

4. ATTORNEY
- Attorney Anthony O. Calabrese III [LOA}

5. COUNTY SHERIFF
- Sheriff Gerald McFaul [Resigned]

6. CITY OF CLEVELAND
- Nate [Powerbroker/Bagman/Convicted racketeer] Grey
- Councilman/CDC' Realtor Michael Polensek
- Councilman Martin J. Sweeney [$90,000 for recreation on City time]
[$50,000.00 addition to home by Airport Contractor & 'no receipts']
- Councilman Roosevelt Coats, [Intimidation of Judge Stokes]
- Councilman Zack Reed, [DWI and prison]
- Councilman Robert J. White III, [Soliciting and taking bribes]
- Councilmember Joe Santiago, ["More Bars In More Places"]

7. CLEVELAND - BUILDING & HOUSING DEPARTMENT
- Richard Huberty, Electrical Inspector
- Bobby Ceuvas, Building Inspector
- Lawrence Skule, Chief Plumbing Inspector
- Richard Koculsa, Electrical Inspector
- James McCulbugh
- Robert J. Banes III
- Navid Hussain


8. CLEVELAND - CLERK OF COURTS
- Earle B. Turner [No Show; Hiring irregularities]


9. CLEVELAND MUNICIPAL SCHOOL DISTRICT
- Daniel Burs, COO [Resigned January 16, 2009]
- Sheree McCoy-Gibbons [on unpaid leave]


10. CLEVELAND METRO HOUSING AGENCY
- Director George Phillips
- Bruckman, Abe [Old Brooklyn CDC, Clark-Metro CDC, Ohio City CDC ]

11. METROHEALTH
- John Carroll, Vice President of Construction
- Thomas Greco, Jr. Director of Facilities Services

12. GREATER CLEVELAND REGIONAL TRANSIT AUTHORITY
- Faisal Alatrash, Construction Manager

13. OHIO DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION
- Dennis L. Kratochvil, Facilities Manager
- Terrance Kosmata, Equipment Superintendent
- Kevin Horrigan, Senior Purchasing Officer

14. NORTHEAST OHIO SEWER DISTRICT
- Edwin Odeal, Executive Director
- William Schatz, Attorney
- Charles Vasulka, Director of Engineering
- Wesley E. Baker, Land Appraiser

QUESTION: "Where are our watchdogs? Taking a snooze?"
And on the sidelines...
- 'Slick Willy' Mason
- 'In-Action' Jackson
- Bobby 'Who me?' Triozzi

JOIN YOUR NEIGHBORS/ VOTERS/ TAXPAYERS IN NOVEMBER ELECTIONS CLEAN SWEEP!

A ScoreKeeper

The ScoreKeeper forgot some of the players, but as the story unfolds on the east side of Cleveland, especially Slavic Village, the Plain Dealer can not continue to pretend that we have angels, where we have demons.

 

Your $$$

  Of course, we knew this had to be going on on the east side, too.  

In 2005, two years before the fire at the warehouse, the county asked for a judgment against the owner, Midtown Industrial Warehouse, Inc., for $207,000 in unpaid property taxes and other assessments, according to records with the Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court.

A city development official formally notified the county treasurer of the city's interest in acquiring the land for redevelopment in December 2006, court records show.

But instead of placing the property in the city's land bank, records show, the county prosecutor's office put up the parcel for a sheriff's sale in February 2008. The county treasurer attempted to notify the city of the sale, but sent the notice to the wrong address.

Records show the notice went to the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority.

The sheriff's sale attracted no bidders, so the land was turned over to the state for another public auction in August 2008, when Barnes placed the winning bid of $1,500. As part of the deal, the county waived $207,000 in back taxes and other assessments.

Is incompetence a plea? 

Subtext of the story should be "Is it okay for Cuyahoga County (thanks Rokakis!) to "waive" a huge tax/demo lien on a company like Midtown, if the City plans to use the cleared land for parking? (...or to give to a developer, like NRP?)"

PD, please--how hard is it to get a list of ALL of the demolitions that have taken place under Jackson administration?   

Create a database--list the inspectors on demo'd property, contractors awarded demo. List lien amount, IF applied and eventual owner.

As part of the deal, the county waived $207,000 in back taxes and other assessments.  And, all in all, taxpayers lost $660,000(!!!)

The lien was NOT applied in this "deal"--and, did everybody catch the convenient FIRE that made a quick demolition a necessary matter of public health, safety and welfare and justified the quick B&H demo??? Who got the demo contract?!

Is anyone surprised?! that the City is NOW going after Midtown after the deal got screwed up??.   What are the chances we'll ever see that money in terms of services provided to the community?

So, the question of the day is how much of your tax $$$ goes to finance these "deals" EVERYDAY?!

It would not and is not

It would not and is not difficult to augment the existing parcel data bases with all the related information. All the parcel and all related transfers of funds. I am feed up with all the LLC’s and the zero dollar transactions. The LLC is a licenses to walk away and avoid all the outside scrutiny. That makes it easy to control, it is a closed network of associates.

Every fucking big contractors fucking wife, brother and cousin is a land holder in the county figure it out already.

I am feed up with assholes that say…there is reason why they do that! I am like yeah because they are scamming the system. I want to smack the next dumb ass that says, that’s say it is just how it works and punch the next one that says…what are you a communist.

Retarded slaves to the man….seriously.

Tell them you are interfering with my life and I got you in my sight.

We want all the transfers and forgiveness of public revenue and liabilities in a form we can query online. I want it linked to the register of LLC’s and they cannot be any longer able to hide behind a crooked attorney and an empty office with a phone.

Question of the day?

Question of the day for the PD...who is the "city development official" deciding when and where to spend our tax dollars towards land acquisition???"   

Straw buyers and Communists

 

Every fucking big contractors fucking wife, brother and cousin is a land holder in the county figure it out already.

I am feed up with assholes that say…there is reason why they do that! I am like yeah because they are scamming the system. I want to smack the next dumb ass that says, that’s say it is just how it works and punch the next one that says…what are you a communist.

Retarded slaves to the man….seriously.
 

I can't say that this was beautifully said Oengus, but it needed to be said.  Thanks.

Buying land cheap

Or stealing property outright is how it is done.   What's the saying? "Use other peoples' money to make money."

Afterall, any way of making money, is making money, and, therefore, alright, right?! It's capitalism, it's good, it's the American way, right?!  Northeast Ohio needs to see the film The Counterfeiters.  Order it from your local library.

  When there is a big

 

When there is a big appreciation related to land transferring and that caused by the eventual purchase by government, it is rigged.

If the land transfer and then profit is made do to a public project, then it is corrupt. It is inside trading, it is because they set it up.

Buying up and holding abandoned and underutilized land, even brown zones and then waiting for or even pushing for development, to get access to the government funds.

They buy the land, knowing it is contaminated, then sell it to the government. Then at a profit and then in comes the remediate’s that will clean it up for a price. Guess what sometimes all the roles are divisions of one. The developers are wearing many hats, and they are thick as thieves.

Obvious conflicts of interests being called business as usual. They have all the ducks in a row and guess what often it is an insider, somebody tells them in advance. Then you have kick-backs and special favors.

Round and round.

More demos for developers...

Follow the land bank scheme...as it breaks Rokakis' heart...NEO, here's a REAL bullshit artist...meanwhile...

Brian, please elaborate.  What historic properties are on the hit list? 

Also, given the recent bickering here....I will say that there is some merit to the claim that everything in NEO is all talk and no action.  If we are really trying to "reimagine" Cleveland with local food production, why is no one helping Robert McCall with the historic YMCA building on Pearl Rd.?  I went by the other day and was impressed to see he has local teens working the gardens and has begun to set up hydroponic gardening.  Is the idea here supposed to be---let him fail? 

Would the historic Olney Museum in Tremont be one of the structures threatened with demolition?

Biggest Mortgage Fraud ?

On the East side??? See above posts.  Time for the FBI to dig a little over here on the west side, too.
 

Biggest Mortgage Fraud ?

On the East side??? See above posts.  Time for the FBI to dig a little over here on the west side, too.
 

Next demo in Brooklyn Centre?

  The house behind St. Barbara's on West 18th St. is boarded up--which likely means an overnight demo any day.  I am not sure on the house number 3860...3861.  Either way--if it does get demo'd. Then, St. Barbara's will come down next for the much rumored gas station.  Fight it people--put a construction lien on the St. Barbara property for all of the improvements made by the congregation. Don't let the Diocese and unscupulous public officials destroy our community.