In true Soprano style, he whacked Mr. One Strike himself, Assistant City Solicitor Bill Vinsko, his first day in office.
Then, he got all senior staff, including himself, to agree to pay cuts.
And then, he blew away any perception I had of him being a typical male chauvinist tough-guy ex-cop by appointing Wilkes-Barre’s first female chief of police. Not because she was a woman, but because she was the best cop for the job.
He may say “tree” instead of “three” but I’m starting to like the guy.
A Fresh Approach to Wilkes-Barre City Council. Some new hope here, too. Wilkes-Barre elected its first Republican city council member, Tony Brooks. Steve and I have known Tony for awhile. When we first bought our 6 unit on West River St, he gave us a brief history of the building having once been part of the Wilkes-Barre Academy. Tony is a history nut – he was either running or very involved in the Luzerne County Historical Society when he reached out to us. He gave us a very nice booklet that included a walking tour of the city pointing out some interesting architectural features from different eras. He truly loves his city. He sees the grandeur of what it once was, and the beauty that’s still there today. Because he respects the past, I believe he can bring that greatness into the present.
Newly elected councilwoman Beth Ann Gilbert simply blows me away. She’s twenty years old. Twenty! I met Beth when I addressed city council back in April after my joke of a One Strike appeal hearing. I thought she was an intern for one of the newspapers, until I talked to her. I kept asking, “How old are you again?” This girl is going to be running the damn country when she’s my age! And it isn’t just her extreme intelligence that impresses me, it’s her passion for Wilkes-Barre. Most of her fellow Millennials who grew up here got the Hell out the second they graduated from GAR or Coughlin or Myers. Beth stuck around and went to Wilkes University. She did not flee her hometown, she chose to stay and fight for it. It wouldn’t surprise me in the least if she succeeds Tony George as mayor. She could make Wilkes-Barre a place young people don’t want to leave. Maybe even a place they’d want to move to. And rent apartments from me, of course!
Changes like these are making me rethink my plan to pull up stakes and go back to New England.
I am dying to see what changes Tony George makes next. The guy has done more in seven days to move the city ahead than the last Mayor did in three terms!
He wants to be tough on crime and clean up the city. Big surprise – so do I! The city’s crime rate is bad for my business. And contrary to what the former mayor would have you believe, city landlords were not the cause of the crime problem! George was a member of city council when I made my perfectly-timed 5 minute speech about amending One Strike to better allow city officials to work with landlords, as opposed to making us the enemy. He made a motion to adopt my suggestions – no one seconded it. I couldn’t tell if he was being serious or not when he made the motion, or if he was being sarcastic. He’s so gruff in that typical NEPA blue-collar guy, ex-cop kind of way. But his demeanor is precisely why he’ll be successful in moving the city forward. The people will listen to him. He’s one of them. He’ll speak their language, in their dialect. If a buttoned-up suit & tie BMW-driving metrosexual lawyer-type tried to appoint this old coal town’s first female police chief, how do you think that would have been received? Tough-guy ex-cop Tony George can do it, though. He has moral authority with the constituency. People will listen to him, because they know he’s for real.
I need to speak at a city council meeting again. This time it won’t be about One Strike – that issue is all but dead. With Vinsko gone, I wonder how that affects the ACLU’s lawsuit? I will address it, if it’s still on the books. I will point out that One Strike was ineffective. How many units were shut down? Statistically, did crime rates go down or up as a result of those shut downs? Up. The crime rate increased. It was ineffective. It succeeded only in hurting property owners. It created additional blight as some properties were abandoned. And it caused a huge lawsuit from the ACLU. When they win, and One Strike is declared unconstitutional, every landlord who was shut down by One Strike will be filing for damages. My investment partner will be there, too, with his hand out. Market rent plus utilities expenses for those six months. That will be very expensive for a city already strapped for cash. Thank you, ex-Mayor Leighton.
The crux of my next speech before council will be – moving forward – how can landlords work with City Hall to address the crime problem?
I want to invest in the city. I see that I’m not the only one. Stories like this give me hope, too: http://wnep.com/2015/12/17/owners-of-hottles-buying-up-other-property-in-wilkes-barre/
It may be a few months before I’m able to return to the political fray, however. I’ve got a lot of work to do!
Minding my own business – with much higher stakes! Good People Good Homes, Inc. is now the sole source of income for my family. My safety-net day job is gone. It’s do or die time!
Actually, Good People Good Homes, Inc. doesn’t even exist yet. It’s still a hodgepodge of different LLCs. Some hold rental property. Others flip houses, wholesale properties, hold rent-to-own units and pursue other real estate-related activities. This is what happens when you get into this business ass-backwards.
We started out with a relatively simple model – multi-family rentals, self-managed. If you’re curious about how all this happened, please go back and read my 9-part How It All Began series in this blog’s archives: http://thisgingerjustsnapped.weebly.com/blog/how-it-all-began-part-1
An organized, big-picture vision is my area of expertise. My husband is out there lassoing the moon! Every week he’s getting us into a new business venture. After the rentals, he got into wholesaling properties to other investors. We were even renovating those properties for them, for awhile. Then we flipped our first house. We flipped another one that didn’t sell and got into the rent-to-own market. Steve hooked up with some out-of-state investors and flipped two houses in New Jersey. He’s talking with another investor about getting into private lending. Most recently, he’s exploring “off-market wholesaling” – hooking up well-moneyed investors in big metros like New York City with owners of properties that aren’t even for sale! All fascinating stuff. And he comes home with crumpled receipts in his pockets that I find when I’m doing the laundry.
Over the next several weeks it will be my job to form this molten glob into a functioning corporation, a real functioning business entity with a profit motive and a bona fide business plan, with all the necessary liability protection and tax advantages. Good thing I just lost my day job, because this is going to take some time!
Funemployment. Do you like that? I can’t take credit for that phrase. I got it from one of my radio friends’ Facebook posts. Kaden, who I will always remember as JJ from when we worked together at WKRZ. Us radio-types often find ourselves Funemployed. Maybe that’s what’s desensitized me to the fear of taking on this endeavor. I’ve grown used to a life of financial insecurity, and somehow I’ve always survived. Fear really is all in your head. Either that or I’ve completely lost my mind. Time will tell.
I’m only in my first week of Funemployment, but the coolest thing I’ve observed so far is that I seem to be in a constant state of “flow.” I have a list of things I need to accomplish, and I am checking off that list as the day goes on. I’m constantly working, even though I break up the day with time to write in my journal, go to my regular workouts at the gym, have lunch with friends, attend to household chores, etc. And when Savannah gets home from her after-school program I am totally hers. The work I do is no doubt work – and it can be hard work, especially when I’m dealing with numbers and financials. But it somehow doesn’t seem like work. I lose track of time. I kept having to remind myself it was Tuesday. All I can attribute it to is the fact that I’m no longer watching the clock, trying to get the work done for an employer so I can finally get to my own stuff. I’m not trying to cram everything into a day that’s already jam-packed with other commitments. I’m just working at my own pace and speed. Everything I’m doing is for my own benefit.
I think when I finally get to the point where I can have employees, I’m going to set it up like a co-op. Profit sharing is going to be a big part of my business model. This is the way I want people to work for my business – like it’s their business, too. I want them to care. If they do their job, I will be profitable, and so will they. And if I am profitable, I will never have to lay anyone off.
I realize this is coming from a place of naïve idealism, but I’m going to do my damndest to make it a reality.