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HUD has ‘significant’ concerns about Dayton’s handling of federal funds

Published: Thursday, October 26, 2017 @ 11:19 AM
Updated: Thursday, October 26, 2017 @ 11:54 AM

Dayton loses $477k

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) says it has “significant and continuing” concerns about Dayton’s ability to manage taxpayer dollars after the city forfeited nearly $477,000 in federal funding for not meeting statutory deadlines.

The Dayton Daily News in July broke the story that Dayton forfeited $476,624 in HOME dollars because the city did not have signed and executed agreements with two contractors by deadline.

RELATED: Dayton forced to give up $477k for missing deadline

HUD is working to get answers from the city about how much of its HOME funds are committed and more clarity on what the city has done to increase affordable housing under the program because its record keeping is not clear, said Brian Sullivan, a HUD spokesman.

“We are still working with the city to untangle what really is a confusing state of affairs with their HOME program,” he said.

U.S. Rep. Mike Turner, R-Dayton, has sent two letters to the city this month demanding documents showing the city has signed and executed agreements for its HOME funds, as well as an action plan for how it intends to “address the mismanagement of HOME funds.”

RELATED: City of Dayton responds to Turner’s allegations HUD funds mismanaged

Turner claims the city is at risk of losing $4 million in federal funds if it does not comply with program requirements.

Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley said the city has been in touch with U.S. Senators Sherrod Brown and Rob Portman, who have helped the city work through the issues with HUD. Whaley said the city must and will resolve the issues.

“I think it’s pretty obvious we’ve had issues up on the sixth floor, and we’re working through those and continuing to work through those,” she said, referring to the department of planning and community development, which is located on the sixth floor of City Hall.

The director and executive secretary of the department resigned in June after being placed on administrative leave the previous month for reasons not made public.

RELATED: Two Dayton officials resign after being put on leave

In a statement last week, Dayton City Manager Shelley said the nearly $4 million Turner referenced has been committed thought the city’s 2015, 2016 and 2017 action plans.

Dayton received just less than $1.1 million in HOME dollars for fiscal year 2016.

The city did not have to repay HUD, and the affordable housing projects that did not meet the commitment deadlines were completed, Dickstein said.

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But Turner said HUD “believes the city does not adequately understand what they need to do to make certain they don’t lose money in the future.”

TAKE A LOOK: Is this local bridge safe? State engineers say yes

Whaley said Turner has chosen to send letters and press releases instead of actually trying to help.

“I think he’s just doing his politics,” she said.

The HOME program sends money to communities across the nation to help create, renovate and expand affordable housing. Some uses include rental assistance, housing rehabilitation, assistance to homebuyers, and new construction of housing.

Jail captain charged with assault for pepper-spraying inmate

Published: Tuesday, November 14, 2017 @ 6:22 PM

Brookville woman pepper sprayed in seven-point harness at Montgomery County Jail

The Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office captain whose pepper-spraying of a restrained inmate — and disappearance of records of the incident — spurred a federal probe and civil lawsuit pleaded not guilty today to a misdemeanor assault charge.

Capt. Judith Sealey was charged in Dayton Municipal Court on Nov. 8 for pepper spraying Amber Swink while Swink was strapped into a restraint chair in the county jail in November 2015.

“We entered a not guilty plea on her behalf,” said her attorney, Anthony VanNoy. “I believe it’s the wrong charge. I believe they should not have charged her criminally.”

“I recognize what the video depicts, but it doesn’t tell the entire story of what went on.”

After Montgomery County Prosecutor Mat Heck Jr. announced in May that a grand jury found there was insufficient evidence to bring felony assault charges, the case was referred to Dayton city prosecutors to consider misdemeanor charges.

RELATED: Dayton asks Cincinnati to review jail pepper spray case

Dayton Chief Prosecutor Stephanie Cook handed the decision on whether to press charges to Cincinnati city prosecutors. Dayton officials said they wanted to avoid any appearance of conflict because Cook sits on a jail advisory committee created in response to lawsuits from Swink and others.

SPECIAL REPORT: Justice in the Jailhouse — Lawsuits, accusations plague county jails in the region

Swink settled her lawsuit against Montgomery County in August, with the county paying $375,000.

Federal agents have not announced any findings in the case, which includes concerns over how and why video and other records of Sealey pepper-spraying Swink disappeared from county records and only surfaced through Swink’s lawsuit.

RELATED: Missing paperwork raises questions about pepper spray probe

This news outlet reached out to Montgomery County Sheriff Phil Plummer for comment. This story will be updated if comment is received.

Democrats name new Montgomery County clerk of courts

Published: Friday, November 17, 2017 @ 12:00 AM
Updated: Friday, November 17, 2017 @ 10:10 AM


            Russ Joseph was selected Thursday, Nov. 16, 2017, by county Democrats as the new Montgomery County Clerk of Courts to permanently replace Greg Brush. (Submitted)
            SUBMITTED
Russ Joseph was selected Thursday, Nov. 16, 2017, by county Democrats as the new Montgomery County Clerk of Courts to permanently replace Greg Brush. (Submitted)(SUBMITTED)

Russ Joseph, a longtime Dayton Municipal Court chief deputy clerk and brother of Dayton City Commissioner Matt Joseph, was selected by county Democrats on Thursday to permanently succeed Greg Brush as Montgomery County clerk of courts.

RELATED: Longtime county court clerk Greg Brush to retire

Russ Joseph, 40, replaces Brush, who retired Oct. 31 to take a job as chief administrator for the Hamilton County Clerk of Courts. Connie Villelli, director of compliance and special projects in the clerk’s office, served as acting clerk until the Montgomery County Democratic Party’s Central Committee picked Joseph during a special session Thursday night.

“I’m excited about the opportunity to serve Montgomery County and follow Greg Brush’s leadership,” Joseph said. “We are in a constantly changing environment and the biggest piece is staying on top of it and making sure we are running as efficient an office as possible to serve the needs of the public.”

Joseph will be sworn in Monday at 11:30 a.m. in Courtroom 1B at Dayton Municipal Court.

RELATED: Commissioners set to name acting Montgomery County court clerk

Joseph started with the Dayton Municipal Clerk of Court in 2004 as the administrative assistant. Promoted to chief deputy clerk in 2007, he oversees the office’s $3.6 million annual budget and 45 employees. As county clerk of courts, he will oversee a budget of about $7.7 million and a staff of about 100 employees.

The county clerk’s office is responsible for receiving and maintaining a number legal documents for Montgomery County Common Pleas Court, Domestic Relations Court, two county municipal courts, the state’s Second District Court of Appeals and five auto title offices.

Mark Owens, Montgomery County Democratic Party Chairman, said one other person, Craig Zimmers, a former county clerk of courts, expressed late interest in the position with a letter but did not follow through screening process that resulted in Joseph’s appointment.

“Russ is an experienced and qualified candidate who will continue Greg Brush’s legacy of streamlining services while cutting costs and efficiently serving customers,” said Owens, also Dayton Municipal Court clerk and Joseph’s boss in recent years.

Joseph and his wife Katie are University of Dayton graduates and Boonshoft Museum of Discovery associate board members. He served on Dayton’s Landmarks Commission from 2009-2017, was on the board and served as board president at the House of Bread, and was an Oregon Historic District Society trustee.

The Josephs live in Dayton’s Oregon Historic District, with son Eli, 8.

Joseph said he’s in the job “for the long haul” and will run for election in 2018 because of a state law required to fill the final two years of Brush’s term, which would have ended in 2020.

Belmont student punished after violence caught on camera

Published: Thursday, November 16, 2017 @ 3:47 PM

Belmont student disciplined after bullying video surfaces

“Serious disciplinary action” was taken against a Belmont High School student after a video circulated online of him punching and taunting another student, school officials said Thursday.

“It was a person picking on another kid, that did punch him,” said Dayton Public Schools Superintendent Rhonda Corr.

The district is responsible for children on their way to and from school, officials said, and the school disciplined the student who is seen in an online video striking and yelling obscenities at another student.

MORE: Ex-local football player sentenced after bullying allegations

The incident, which took place on Monday on Phillips Avenue, occurred a few blocks from the school, which serves students in grades 7 through 12.

“We will not tolerate any kind of bullying,” Corr said.

Dayton Public Schools Board of Education member John McManus said the video is disturbing and the district will “get to the bottom of this and find some answers.”

McManus said from his experience as someone who was bullied as a child, it’s quite possible that the bullying caught on video off school grounds may be taking place on school property as well.

“As a child victim of bullying myself, you will not find a lot of sympathy from me” toward the offender, McManus said.

Corr said she has talked with the district’s head of safety and security and Belmont’s principal about the incident.

The student who was punched is “at school, doing well and has a lot of supports here and people who care about him,” Corr said.

The district does not provide transportation to and from its high schools, and students must walk, get a ride or take a Greater Dayton RTA bus, Corr said.

Bullying in all its forms won’t be tolerated, including put downs, name calling, racial slurs or any kind of discriminatory acts, Corr said.

The district cannot prevent students from sharing and viewing videos online and on social media, Corr said.

But, she said, if the district identifies who shot the video, officials will ask for it to be removed from the Internet.

McManus said he intends to visit Belmont and talk to school officials about what happened, and he wants to reach out to the family of the boy who was struck to find out how he is doing and any context behind the incident.

“What I saw in this video goes beyond words — this young man was assaulted,” McManus said.

The incident brings back some bad memories, said McManus, who also said he is “an adult survivor of domestic violence.”

Englewood mom of disabled boy gets deportation date: Nov. 27

Published: Thursday, November 16, 2017 @ 7:58 PM


            Fatiha Elgharib pleads for someone to intervene in her deportation case, fearing after 22 years in the U.S. she will be separated from her family, including 15-year-old Sami Hamdi, who has Down syndrome and for whom she is the primary caregiver.
Fatiha Elgharib pleads for someone to intervene in her deportation case, fearing after 22 years in the U.S. she will be separated from her family, including 15-year-old Sami Hamdi, who has Down syndrome and for whom she is the primary caregiver.

Sara Hamdi is still trying to figure out how to tell her brother, Sami, that their mother will be getting on an airplane after Thanksgiving and there’s no saying when they will see her again.

Their mother, Fatiha Elgharib, received orders recently that she is being deported back to Morocco on Nov. 27 for over-staying her visa after living in the country since 1995. Sami, a U.S. citizen because he was born in the U.S., has Down syndrome.

As Sami’s primary caregiver, Elgharib gets him up every day at their Englewood home, helps him dress, gets him to school, makes his snacks and gets him to doctor’s appointments for myriad health issues he has.

PRIOR REPORT: Mother, wearing ankle device so ICE can monitor her, awaits certain deportation

“When he comes home from school and walks in the door…if he doesn’t see her when he walks in that door he’s asking, ‘Where’s mom,’” Sara said.

“We’ve just been hinting that my mom is going to visit Morocco but he doesn’t really understand what’s going on,” she said. “I don’t know how to tell him for him to understand.”

Federal agents ordered Elgharib to board a plane in Columbus on Nov. 27. Once she leaves the country, their attorney says she won’t be allowed back for at least 10 years.

I-Team analysis: Deportations dropped in Ohio under Obama; here’s why

While Sami and their sister Wafaa, 18, are citizens because they were born here, Sara is 27 and is in the U.S. on the deferred action for childhood arrivals (DACA) program.

“How long do I have?” Sara posed, noting the uncertain future of DACA recipients.

The family has been under the threat of deportation for years, though the federal government on humanitarian grounds had held off on deporting Elgharib. At one point now-deceased U.S. Sen. George Voinovich intervened on their behalf.

FROM THE ARCHIVE: Children fight to keep their mother in the U.S.

Sara concedes her mother broke the law by over-staying her visa, but says people who steal or commit violent crimes face less harsh penalties.

“We haven’t tried to hurt anybody,” she said.

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