In Defense Of Being Homeless

November 16, 2017

Regular Newark News Analysis readers can’t help but notice that recent posts have swirled around real property ownership and housing, directly or indirectly. “Homeownership doesn’t build wealth, study finds” headlines Diana Olick for CNBC (11-16-17). Intriguing! Analysis required reading. “”On average, renting and reinvesting wins in terms of wealth creation regardless of property appreciation, because property appreciation is highly correlated with gains in the traditional financial asset classes of stocks and bonds,” wrote study co-author Ken Johnson of FAU’s College of Business [Florida Atlantic University], in a release.” This seems to be the keynote quote pursued (for actuality, efficacy) throughout the article. What follows are the pros and cons of renting versus owning with back up insights for the period covering 2008 (when the real estate bubble burst) to the present. “Still, researchers in the study claim the adage of “throwing your money away on rent” doesn’t hold up. That is because it assumes that the extra money a renter saves by not owning a home and not saving for a down payment is simply spent on goods or services and not invested.” Well, that seems clear enough. “In other words, the rent argument works only if the renter invests the rental savings instead of consuming the money.” The article then localizes the theory. “The researchers therefore went city by city, measuring home price appreciation against a portfolio of stocks and bonds that were equal in volatility. “To have a fair race, that reinvestment into stocks and bonds has to be as risky as that particular housing market,” Johnson said.” Put crassly (and simplistically) if a homeowner considers what she pays monthly for principle and balance on her mortgage against how much (percentage wise) her real property investment made (appreciates), that margin would be less than a renter, renting the same size, quality property would have if the difference between the monthly cost of renting and the mortgage amount was invested in “”stocks and bonds.” Gasp! Butt weight, there’s more. The buried lead appears at the end, after a breakdown on the requirement “if the renter invests the rental savings instead of consuming the money.” That buried lead throws shade on the initial quote by Johnson pursued throughout the article. Here it is: “As long as home values don’t fall, which has historically been the case in most markets, with the glaring exception of the last recession, homeowners are building a nest egg. They had also been getting a tax advantage. That is now at risk in the Republican tax plan, which curbs the mortgage deduction and in the Senate version, wipes out the property tax deduction. Real estate can still be a good investment, according to Johnson, but not necessarily living in the home you own. Being a landlord or investing in real estate-related stocks and commodities can be more lucrative that keeping all your capital in the nest.” Not surprising given the “Me first” focus of the apprentice president and his MAGA emphasis, and Wall Street’s insatiable demand for more sources of capital. But “Me first” “landlord[s] or investing in real estate-related stocks and commodities” don’t make neighborhoods (or community). What more, stock and bond ownership doesn’t equate with the quality of life issues associated with community. But investment is touted as the primo path to greatness, success and wealth (the GOP use this line of argument to justify the recent tax bill and its permanent corporate tax cut, etc.) How’s that in actuality? Reporting for The Independent Clark Mindrock headlined “Trump’s top economic adviser can’t contain his surprise after CEOs say his tax plan won’t make them invest more” 11-15-17. “During an event for the Wall Street Journal’s CEO Council, an editor at that newspaper turned to ask the room a question: “If the tax reform bill goes through, do you plan to increase investment — your company’s investment, capital investment?” Prompted to raise their hands if so, very few shot their palms into the air. Mr. [Gary] Cohn, the White House Economic Council director, smiled uncomfortably at the response. “Why aren’t the other hands up?” he asked, making a joke out of the spectacle. But experts say that it isn’t hard to figure out why corporations might not want to take savings from cuts to the corporate tax cut and pump it back into their companies — all you have to do is look at who actually benefits financially from the cuts. Citing a recent Moody’s report that estimate that the Trump tax plan would yield just a 0.3 percent economic growth rate for 10 years before a likely decline, Brooking Institute senior fellow William Gale noted that business leaders might be expecting declines in the long term.” Analysis shows there is more to the homeownership’s study than the math provides. The renter’s surplus investment (which will make her wealthy) can only be made with companies that themselves are reluctant to invest. “Being a landlord… can be more lucrative that keeping all your capital in the nest.” “Real estate can still be a good investment, according to Johnson, but not necessarily living in the home you own.”

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Newark’s Likely Voters

November 9, 2017

Originally Analysis was going to cover the recent election. Reuters (amongst others) reported “Maine governor says he will not expand Medicaid despite vote” by Gina Cherelus, 11-8-17. Déjà vu all over again with “About 60 percent of voters in Maine approved the ballot proposal in Tuesday’s election, according to the Bangor Daily News, making the state the first in the country to vote to expand Medicaid, the government health insurance program for the poor and disabled.” GOP Governor LePage refuses to implement it. Sound familiar? Hint: Marijuana. That’s right, a citizens’ initiative approved by the voters of Newark re: marijuana possession in Newark was ditto refused to be implemented by GOP Mayor Hall. More recent is the cavalier late night destruction of the gazebo vociferously opposed by residents, all to no avail. These left Analysis with the question “why is the will, and vote, of the people (citizens) so impotent within a government founded on democracy?” Presently the Democrats are all Broadway musical happy after limited “victories” this just past election but, again, Newark doesn’t reflect that. This blog’s previous post displayed the inadequate attempt by Lesha Farias’s service organization to affect Fred Ernest’s 10 year “vision.” Couple that with the very low turn out Monday (11-6-17) to “protest” the demise of the gazebo and the question gets even thornier – where is the democracy in Newark? And if it’s missing, why? Again, (11-9-17) Reuters headlines “Trump’s low approval rating masks his support among likely voters” by Chris Kahn. Couple this with the actual voting outcomes reported by The Advocate (GEMS Election Results from 11-8-17). For overall county election races (like the muni court judgeship) 29.1% of eligible voters turned out. Now “likely voters” looms large. Analysis finds that though urban precincts encompass more registered voters, rural district issues and races attracted a greater percentage of voters, though lesser in number. Newark precincts involve 4-6 thousand voters each and were turning out roughly 24-25% of them to decide the contest. That’s less than the county actual (likewise likely) voter percentage (29%). Most rural precincts show way less than 2,000 possible voters (many less than 1,000) with turn out being 33-35% (Northridge School’s district precincts turned out over 50%!). Many have repeatedly asked “Why is turnout, interest and active engagement so low in the very urban city of Newark?” That is, why does the description “likely voter” include so few already registered voters in Newark? Those paid to know offer many theoretical possibilities – culture, economics, education, disinterest or even distrust of government. Analysis considers a material actuality. “Landlord doubles rent, evicts nuisance tenants to improve property” by Shelly Schultz for the Zanesville Times Recorder (11-8-17). “Following an abatement warning, the owner of an apartment complex located at 1252 Edwards Lane issued residents a zero tolerance notice for illegal activity and nearly doubled the rent.” The back story to which is “In September, several residents converged on the public safety committee complaining of a sudden increase in prostitution and drug activity in their neighborhood.” Somewhat deeper: “Tenants who have been identified as a nuisance have been evicted, according to Horvath. The rent has increased from $300 to $500 and heading towards $600. The property now mandates a background check on tenants.” (“Eriech Horvath of Newark, owner of Stone Works Development, purchased the 22 unit apartment complex in March and said he has been working diligently to clean it up.”) Back story to the back story would be from WHIZ’s report of “Zanesville Police Dept. cracking down on nuisance homes” by Matthew Herchik 6-30-17. “To be able to move forward with a nuisance abatement, [ZPD Police Chief Tony] Coury says they must prove that the house is in fact a “nuisance,”” “The ZPD has been working in conjunction with the city Law Director as well as the Prosecutor’s Office to make these homes a bigger focus.” And finally, the back story to the whole story is the Ohio Revised Code 3767.01 and .02 which define “nuisance” and “nuisance homes”. All of which sounds pretty sensible when dealing with crime and violence until one makes the connection that Mr. Horvath is using the imminent power (and actions) of the prosecutor/law director/police to justify evicting tenants and upping the rent on his recently acquired property. Given that 48% of Newark’s residential housing is non-owner occupant (rental) and that the census bureau shows over 40% of the US population as having no net worth (living pay check to pay check) it is little wonder that, though greater in numbers, so few registered voters are “likely voters” in Newark, let alone actually voting in elections. Not wanting to rock the boat and potentially be evicted from one’s rented home (for whatever reason, be it the inability to suffer an increase in monthly rent or “nuisance” designation) is a very normal response to being asked to engage in a political process. Analysis shows that having a home to come home to matters a lot.

 

 

A Mighty Fortress Is Our Homeowner

November 3, 2017

A weird news coverage article appeared out of thin air in The Advocate 11-3-17. Maria DeVito headlined Group thinks Newark vision plan didn’t account for whole city. The article primarily covered the 10 year “vision plan” currently in play with Newark Development Partners and what transpired at their recent meeting (11-2-17). There is little grounding for Analysis in the world of dreams and visions. A 10 year “vision” differs little from a 5 (or 10) year Stalin era “plan,” except in the execution – who does what and how. As mentioned in this journal’s previous post, the current political administrations of Mr. Hall and Mr. Bubb, along with Grow Licking County and Newark Development Partners, couch everything in terms of “the economy versus…” Fred Ernest’s development franchise engages in an ethereal dance in sync and lock step with the team on this “vision” quest as well (could Dancing With The Stars be far off?). Besides, the best laid plans of mice and men can change in a heartbeat if PNB should opt to relocate to New Albany (happens all the time. Meritor is still sitting vacant). One thing in the article jumped out, primarily in terms of its lack or absence. That lack or absence spoke volumes in terms of what Lesha Farias and The Newark Think Tank on Poverty were attempting to convey (but failed according to DeVito’s reporting). “”It’s not the community’s plan,” she [Lesha Farias] said. “It’s the people that they wanted to make the plan making the plan.”” Who is “they”? The article (or Farias) never makes “their” identity apparent. What is apparent though, and does give direction as to what Farias was trying to express, is the glaring lack within the “Seven Pillars” envisioned by the “vision.” Sounds almost biblical, doesn’t it? “Seven pillars are identified in the plan: image and brand; public safety; mobility and transportation; neighborhood revitalization; vibrant downtown; arts and recreation; and quality education.” Notice anything absent? Hint: you can probably buy the Basket on the edge of town for what it costs to make a McMansion on an out of town rural acreage. That’s it, housing! What never figures into the celestial fluff of the “10 year vision” is the actuality of the preponderance of non-owner occupied residential housing that IS Newark, not some pie in the sky “image and brand(ed)” “neighborhood(s).” Remember “Welcome to Old Town West” along West Church Street? Does it look different today than it did 25 years ago during the heyday of its promotion? What makes the difference answers the “Who is the “they”?” The current ongoing conversation/debate nationally is the new GOP tax overhaul, the central pillar being slashing the corporate tax rate by over 40% of the present. The GOP claims corporations will “reinvest” that windfall in higher wages and new jobs. In the 1980’s and 90’s it was established policy that corporate America’s first allegiance is to the share holder evidenced by the resulting consolidations, mergers resulting in plants being padlocked and wages remaining stagnant to this day. But with Newark Development Partners’ “vision” the actuality of that experience becomes unmentionable – it lacks presence. The last time The Advocate cited non-owner occupant housing in the city of Newark it was around 48%. An underlying principle of “neighborhood revitalization” in almost all urban areas is the emphasis on those who live in a neighborhood having “ownership” of that neighborhood (and yes, Virginia, Newark is urban). Like corporations, landlords’ allegiance is not with the neighborhood, but with a return on investment. Recently it was revealed that the second most segregated city in the US, segregated in terms of income disparity, is Columbus Ohio. On the basis of this finding WOSU has been running a series entitled “Chasing the Dream” (wosu.org/chasingthedream). As pointed out in this series people living paycheck to paycheck, as well as red lining, planned development and gentrification (with its higher tax valuation) make home ownership out of reach for most. Along with public transportation (the number 1 issue for sustainable jobs), affordable housing is essential for any kind of sustainable development. Of course that would mean disruption with regard the sacred cash cow. Of course that would mean a disruption in who could own a piece of Newark. Lending institutions (like PNB) would need to create financial instruments making homeownership possible (like low interest or subsidized loans, inclusive lending practices, low or no down payments, etc.) and the city/county would need to create abatements and tax breaks for individual home buyers (versus developers!). The “they” that Farias was alluding to becomes very apparent when the glaring lack of the “Seven Pillars vision” manifests itself. A mighty fortress is our home owner!

Why Didn’t Newark Bid On The New Amazon HQ Location?

October 29, 2017

Discussion and debate over climate change (reality, urgency and impact) continues to rage in much the same forum as the debate over confederate monuments and first amendment rights for the ideas espoused by Richard Spencer. All to which the best reply came from Eminem at the 10-11-17 BET Awards: “Any fan of mine who’s a supporter of his, I’m drawing in the sand a line, you’re either for or against, and if you can’t decide who you like more and you’re split on who you should stand beside, I’ll do it for it for you with this. Fuck you.” ‘Nuff said. Relevant and current with regard to Newark and Ohio would be asking the question “Why didn’t Newark Development Partners Community Improvement Corp, in conjunction with Grow Licking County, submit a bid to attract Amazon’s new headquarters?” Come on Fred, inform us. We all know what a talented and available workforce is located right here in the heart of Licking County, as well as oodles of available land that is being squandered on, well, farming. So what could it be? Possibly the third requirement in Amazon’s potential site shopping cart – available public transportation. What’s Senator Flake’s buzzword, Fred? Something about keeping quiet is being complicit. But Analysis digresses. Maybe there is something larger at stake than planning with a vision of the future. Amazon’s largest wind farm yet is up and running in Texas They have a total of 18 wind farms, with 35 more in the works. by Swapna Krishna for Engadget (10-19-17) Prior to its locating a distribution center in Etna, Amazon also invested in an Ohio wind farm to generate its electricity (freeing it from reliance on AEP’s subsidized energy). Notable from the article: “This isn’t Amazon’s first foray into clean energy. The Amazon Wind Farm Texas is among 18 others across the US, and the online retailer has another 35 in planning stages. Not only are they offsetting their carbon footprint, at least somewhat, but they’re providing more jobs and contributing to local economies. Kara Hurst, Amazon’s Worldwide Director of Sustainability, cites a company-wide goal of eventually powering their infrastructure using solely renewable energy.” Analysis is disinterested in why this potentially makes Austin Texas a top candidate for Amazon’s hub but it may shed light on active disinterest in Newark as well as Ohio (remember the projected east Main street solar energy “farm” under the Diebold administration that was soon scuttled under Mayor Hall?). 10-29-17 InsideClimate News’ Brad Wieners and David Hasemyer headlined How Fossil Fuel Allies Are Tearing Apart Ohio’s Embrace of Clean Energy With scare studies, policy drafts and political donations, industry groups turned Ohio lawmakers against policies they once overwhelmingly supported. This is a very long and in depth article for which Analysis can only give an inadequate synopsis with some notable quotes. Remember the 2008 Ohio alternative energy law setting percentage standards for energy sources in Ohio? Of course you do, but in case you forgot: “The law committed Ohio to cutting energy consumption by 22 percent by 2025 and diversifying sources so that 12.5 percent of its electricity would come from alternative energy sources—geothermal, biomass, wind, solar.” At the time it passed the legislature 93 yea to 1 nay and was signed into law. Fast forward to “Beginning in earnest in 2011, a network of coal companies, utilities, think tanks, nonprofit foundations and political action committees coalesced to roll back Ohio’s alternative energy initiatives.” “Citing the study, state Sen. Kris Jordan introduced a bill five months later to repeal the alternative energy standards. The measure didn’t make it out of committee, but Jordan, [Bill] Seitz and others kept at it, until, in 2014, they managed to secure a two-year freeze on meeting the annual benchmarks established under the 2008 law.” The “study” (“Beacon Hill Institute, then an affiliate of Boston’s Suffolk University”) and follow ups claimed significant costs to utility users resulting in loss of jobs and diminishment of Ohio’s desirability as a business destination (“More scare studies followed. In 2015, the Institute of Political Economy at Utah State University published a paper suggesting Ohio’s energy rules would kill off 29,000 jobs. Last spring, the Buckeye Institute, a free-market think tank across the street from the Ohio Statehouse in Columbus, modeled four economic scenarios; the rosiest estimated that the renewable and energy efficiency standards would cost Ohio 6,800 jobs and $806 million in GDP by 2026.”). The usual suspects are involved: “This network includes Americans for Prosperity, a foundation funded by the energy magnates Charles and David H. Koch; the Heritage Foundation, a Washington-based advocacy group known for its criticism of climate change science; and the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), another conservative nonprofit in Washington with Koch ties that frequently spoon-feeds draft legislation to state politicians.” Of course, as with anything dealing with real/fake statistics/science we also have “Beacon Hill later lost its Suffolk University affiliation because, a university spokesman told The Boston Globe, its research lacked rigor and tended to reach conclusions sought by its underwriters.” and “”Those studies are completely bogus,” said Terrence O’Donnell, a lawyer representing renewable energy developers at Dickinson Wright, a Columbus law practice. “The Utah one is the most ridiculous, because it blames everything that happened to the economy during the recession on the renewable portfolio standards. It’s laughable. There’s not one policy maker I know of who still refers to it.” The Buckeye Institute, he added, assesses “a fictitious Ohio law, not the one on the books.”” “Several other studies have concluded that Ohio’s energy rules have, on the contrary, created jobs and improved the economy. One, published by Ohio State University’s Center for Resilience, found that in 2012 alone, the law stimulated a modest .04 percent, or $160 million, in GDP growth statewide. According to the Ohio Environmental Council (OEC), the state added more than 2,300 renewable energy projects and 25,000 clean energy jobs since 2009. Not minus 29,000 jobs, but plus 25,000 jobs, and not based on a model, but on payroll and labor statistics” “So whose numbers are right? On behalf of Gov. Kasich’s office, Matt Cox, a Ph.D. from MIT and founder of Greenlink, a consulting practice in Atlanta, modeled three scenarios to try to determine if Ohio’s energy rules were too aggressive. Overall, Cox found that the rules generated more jobs, more GDP and, in time, lowered electrical bills.” “Seitz told InsideClimate News that Cox ought not to have factored public health impacts of air pollution into his study. Cox responded, “How can you do a cost-benefit analysis and not factor in a cost that is borne, not by the utility, but by everyone else?”” Yadda Yadda Yadda. As anyone familiar with the recurrent ad nauseam phrase “counter puncher” knows, real or fabricated, this can go on and on. Also mentioned in the article was the 2014 Energy Mandate Study Committee. “The EMSC counted 12 elected officials, among them Seitz, as members. These 12 collectively received $830,000 in campaign contributions from utilities, oil and gas interests, and coal mining companies, according to an investigation by the National Institute on Money in State Politics. Contributions from electric utilities to Seitz more than tripled after he began trying to dismantle the state’s renewable energy standards.” “The final Energy Mandates Study Committee report was a gift to incumbent utilities and gas and coal interests. It recommended an indefinite extension of the freeze on renewable standards and more or less mirrored a bill Kasich vetoed on Dec. 22, 2016, saying the measure could undermine the state’s improved business climate and prevent businesses and homeowners from saving money by saving energy. Undeterred by Kasich’s veto, [Bill Seitz’s] HB 114, the bill that passed on March 30, contains much of the EMSC wish list.” “His bill is now in the state Senate, where it may face an uphill fight.” “Andrew Kear, an assistant professor of political science and environment and sustainability at Bowling Green State University, said HB 114 can’t survive without substantial changes. He said any measure will have to recognize that renewable energy is an economic driver in parts of the state. “They have to get beyond the false dichotomy that it’s environment versus economy,” he said.” Whew! Analysis finds it imperative for Newark to let Jay Hottinger (and Fred) know that HB 114 is not in the best interest of Newark, or Ohio. Why didn’t Newark bid on the new Amazon HQ location?

Pat Tiberi – We Hardly Knew Ya

October 21, 2017

Less than two weeks after his recent email contact with his constituents Ohio’s 12th Congressional District’s representative opted to go the way of John Boehner (another Ohio Congressional representative and former Speaker of the House). The Advocate (Pat Tiberi to resign from Congress for Ohio Business Roundtable post Deirdre Shesgreen and Jessie Balmert, 10-19-17) reports: “Rep. Pat Tiberi said Thursday he will give up his House seat and take a job as president of the Ohio Business Roundtable — a surprise decision for the 16-year congressional veteran.” The last mass emailing (10-7-17) was entitled Why I’m Fighting For Tax Reform. Notable: “Right now, my colleagues and I on the House Ways and Means Committee are hard at work translating this framework into legislation—and we are working through this robust process with you in mind. This isn’t about the 1 percent. It is about the middle-class families who sit down at their kitchen table every night and try to figure out how to stretch that last dollar. It is about the entrepreneurs who are looking to open their doors and invest in their employees and communities with new jobs and higher wages. It is about the kids who hope to save enough from their first high school job so they can go to college. And, it is about people like my parents who are looking for a fair shot at the American Dream. Everyone deserves the certainty and confidence they need to get ahead. That is what we can achieve with pro-growth tax reform.” Analysis finds this to be pretty sincere. Indeed, it was followed by “Sincerely yours…” Analysis says we could use some context here. Let’s look at the numbers. Tiberi has over 6 million dollars banked on his re election campaign (which unfortunately he cannot personally utilize). In 2016 his opponent received only approx. 35% of the vote. Analysis finds this indicates real job security. But wait, there’s more! As a US Representative he earned about $175K plus perks and bennies. The retiring head of the Ohio Business Roundtable had a salary (before benefits and perks) of approx. $650K. The new head (Congressman Pat) is projected to make more like $800+K. Unlike the gold in his re election treasure chest, Tiberi will be free to access any of this. “This isn’t about the 1 percent.” But now both he and it are. Prior to that (9-1-17) Pat sent out another mass mailing entitled Tax Reform. Notable: “I spent the August work period in the 12th District listening to and talking with Ohio families, workers and job creators about what reform will mean for them. As we work to put pen to paper, I will be keeping their priorities in mind so that we achieve reforms that help people like you save more of your hard earned dollars.” This was accompanied by various social media and other links chronicling this. Pat preferred scripted pre screened and scheduled office receptions, social media, and telephone conference town hall meetings to actual, impromptu ad lib “listening and talking”. The August 19, 2017 mailing entitled Tomorrow On In Focus highlighted “Tomorrow, I’ll be on “In Focus with Mike Kallmeyer” on the Spectrum Networks to discuss drug trafficking and my bill, the STOP Act, which will close a dangerous loophole in the U.S. postal system that drug dealers are utilizing to ship deadly drugs like fentanyl into our communities.  The STOP Act has the potential to save lives, keep our police officers safe, reduce the strain on emergency responders, and prevent overdoses. Tune in on Sunday and watch a preview on my Facebook page to learn more about how and why I’m fighting for this bill to become law.” Analysis found Tiberi’s 8-31-17 guest appearance at Newark’s Fed Up rally to be in keeping with “Tune in on Sunday and watch a preview on my Facebook page to learn more about how and why I’m fighting for this bill to become law.” Analysis finds it a stretch that in his Fed Up presentation, Tiberi wasn’t already cognizant he would announce departure in less than two months. In July (7-19-17) it was A Simpler Way To File Your Taxes which ended with an inter active link “>>Complete this survey & share your thoughts<<”. Analysis suspects this displaced virtual presence may permit one to sincerely say, “with you in mind,” Pat Tiberi – we hardly knew ya!

Steve Bannon Declares Jihad On Infidels

October 18, 2017

Writing for Alternet, Ivy Olesen headlined “I went undercover at a boot camp for young conservatives — here’s what I learned; The Leadership Institute teaches young people how to mobilize for conservative candidates” (10-17-17). Provocative and intriguing! Must read. But Analysis digresses. Equally provocative was a Salon article by Chauncey Devega covering the Values Voter Summit (subject of Analysis previous post) headlined “Birth of a new fascism? Trumpers meet theocrats at right-wing Christian conclave: Roy Moore says “the people of God are rising up,” while Sebastian Gorka hints at a sinister new alliance”. Alabama’s current GOP Senate candidate, Roy Moore, former White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon and (again) former presidential adviser Sebastian Gorka spoke to the assembled faithful after the apprentice president. Devega quotes Moore: “”When you forget God, you can forget politics. When you forget God you forget, just like it says, your heritage, your rights, your freedoms.” “We forget that what they really want to do in this land is remove the knowledge of God. That won’t happen, as far as I can see, because I think the people of God are rising up in this land today. In 2016 we were given a new lease, a new reason, and it’s upon us now. This is not complicated.”” But still a digression. How to get a handle on this? Devega also quotes Gorka: “The left has no idea how much more damage we can do to them as private citizens, as people unfettered.” Damage, to private citizens? Writing for Time (10-15-17) Alana Abramson also covered the Values Voter Summit and headlined: “’This Is Our War.’ Steve Bannon Tears Into GOP Agenda”. She writes of/quotes Bannon addressing the conservative faithful: “”This is not my war, this is our war,” the Breitbart CEO and former chief White House strategist told cheering attendees at the annual convention. “And you all didn’t start it, the establishment started it. I will tell you one thing — you all are gonna finish it.” Noting that the group had a “lot of fights ahead,” Bannon said it was crucial to take on the GOP establishment before effectively turning their energy towards progressives, especially since the current crop of GOP lawmakers do not appreciate President Trump. This disrespect, Bannon said, was evidenced when Senator Bob Corker told the New York Times last week that Republican lawmakers were privately concerned about Trump’s ability to lead the country. Bannon seemed to insinuate that unless Republican lawmakers spoke out against Corker, they would face insurgent primary challenges. Bannon also derided Corker, who he called a “piece of work” for speaking negatively about Trump while soldiers were serving overseas.” In a (9-7-17) 60 Minutes interview with Charlie Rose Bannon says: “They’re going to be held accountable if they do not support the President of the United States. Right now there’s no accountability. … They do not support the President’s program. It’s an open secret on Capitol Hill. Everybody in this city knows it.” Rising up? Damage to private citizens? War!? Disrespect and lack of appreciation for the apprentice president? Support the President’s program? Much has been written and said about the de facto lack of a plan or program with regard the current administration so this is certainly puzzling, cryptic at the least. Perhaps Ivy Olesen can help clarify these double voiced speeches; double voiced in the sense that to some they mean what is on the surface, to others they are coded messaging. Near the end of a very long article Olesen writes: “This is when I realize that what Ivy [Ivy El Zaatari, the Leadership Institute organizer/instructor] means is that Conservatism appeals to people on a level above facts: religion. Conservatives are skipping right over the whole logic bit and get straight to the good stuff. Ivy is hinting around about “philosophy,” because, like she said, “I’m talking about Conservatives, not Republicans. [..] They talk about their Bibles as much as their Constitution.” Sell ‘em a fantasy, and one with a moral, religious backing as well. Ivy has been trying to get it through our heads that the fear of God is how you can get people to vote against their best interests.” Analysis concludes with the obvious — Steve Bannon declares jihad on infidels.

You Will Not Replace Us

October 15, 2017

Americans and their relationship with God (religion) is kinda like that between parents and teenagers. Americans, qua Americans only on account of their Constitution, know better than others that it was drawn up with emphasis on keeping the two separate, one out of the other. Teenagers, told no by their parents, will eventually act out. Well, ya gotta do it anyway. This past week a major event of this sort took place that literally flew under the media radar in terms of emphasis. Seems whether Ivana is the first lady or Rex Tillerson called his boss a “moron” was more significant than the fact of who spoke to the Values Voter Summit for the third time, this time as apprentice president, and what was said. In 2015 he spoke as a presidential wannabe. 2016 found him speaking as a candidate for president. 2017 found a deliverance speech. The Values Voter Summit is put on directly by the Family Research Council which in turn was spawned by James Dobson, Focus On The Family. “Co-sponsors of the event included other Christian political action groups, such as AFA Action (part of the American Family Association), the Heritage Foundation, Liberty University, Liberty Counsel and Gary Bauer’s organization American Values.” (according to Wiki). Wiki describes the Family Research Council: “FRC promotes what it considers traditional family values, by advocating and lobbying for socially conservative policies. It opposes and lobbies against equal rights for LGBT people (such as same-sex marriage, same-sex civil unions, and LGBT adoption), abortion, divorce, embryonic stem-cell research and pornography.” Controversy surrounds not only the apprentice president when it comes to the terms of the “traditional family values” of the FRC as well as the organization itself being classified by the Southern Poverty Law Center as an anti-gay hate group. And yet the apprentice president has deigned to grace the Summit now three times, with little fanfare on his latest appearance. Analysis thought it would be more than pertinent to consider the text of the 2016 speech with that of 2017 (transcripts from Politico and the White House Press Secretary). In both speeches the bible is quoted once, at the start of 2017 and at the end of 2016 (a twist of the theater’s admonition to always leave ‘em laughing – in this case praying!). “Amazing, amazing group. One of the greatest privileges of my journey has been the time I’ve spent with the evangelical community.” at the start of 2016, “It’s great to be back here with so many friends at the 2017 Values Voter Summit, and we know what that means. We know what that means. America is a nation of believers, and together we are strengthened and sustained by the power of prayer.” Overall, 2016 comes across as a stump speech with the primary focus on political agenda, if you only vote for me. This agenda is the one currently being executed, though couched in an ersatz religious perspective for the consuming audience. Many of that time’s news headlines were from this conference (“What have you got to lose?”, being able to say “radical Islamic terrorism,” and the statistically flawed math in terms of job numbers and budget amounts) and some were never picked up on (“or one of our great generals that we have today – General Flynn, who’s here someplace I love General Flynn”). A hefty portion was Hillary bashing with Obama thrashing given equal time. Tribute was paid to Phyllis Schlafly’s early endorsement. “We are all equal, and we all come from the same Creator. If we remember that simple fact, then our future is truly limitless. There is nothing we as Americans can’t do.” and “Our nation today is divided. Nobody likes to say it, but we’re living in a very, very divided nation. It will be our faith in God and his teachings, in each other, that will lead us back to unity.” are the closest things to actual articles of “religious” faith put forward by the then candidate speaker. 2017 the apprentice president gives a deliverance speech, again following the political agenda promised a year earlier but this time self-congratulating what is (in his estimation) their accomplishment. Little of this captured the mainstream media coverage’s imagination (“president of the Virgin Islands,” “We’re saying “Merry Christmas” again.”). Except, this time the speech is slathered with religiosity, referencing the founding fathers (like Washington and Franklin) and being filled with articles of faith and their bearing on the upcoming political challenges. Unlike the media, Analysis finds these relevant and pertinent. “And they [hard working Americans] make sure that the future of their children has God involved in it.  So important to them.” “As long as we have pride in our country, confidence in our future, and faith in our God, then America will prevail.” “We know that it’s the family and the church, not government officials, that know best how to create strong and loving communities. And above all else, we know this: In America, we don’t worship government — we worship God. Inspired by that conviction, we are returning moral clarity to our view of the world and the many grave challenges we face.” “We will defend our faith and protect our traditions.” “We are stopping cold the attacks on Judeo-Christian values.” Analysis finds a Reader’s Digest condensed version would sound a lot like “You will not replace us.”

Letting The Terrorists Win

October 7, 2017

In Texas, a Defiant Mood at an Outdoor Music Festival headlined a New York Times article by David Montgomery (10-6-17).  The Austin City Limits festival opened Friday (10-6-17) in Austin Texas, the first such event following the recent terrorist attack on another music festival in Las Vegas (Yes Virginia, Timothy McVeigh was a terrorist).  Analysis finds notable: “On Friday afternoon, among music lovers and families with strollers flowing into Zilker Park on the shores of the Colorado River, the mood was partly defiant and partly alert and attentive. But mostly, people were unflappable.” “Sandee Fenton, spokeswoman for the festival, said organizers expected 75,000 people in the park each day, with a total of 225,000 fans this weekend. The group offered refunds to anyone who was concerned about attending, but did not say how many were claimed.” “Just inside the entrance Friday afternoon, Joe Dickie and his wife, Beth Cottey, discussed with their son and a friend whether they should go see a performance by Willie Nelson’s son, or a rock band called Royal Blood. The family, who hails from Austin, has come to nearly every Austin City Limits event since its inception in 2002. Mr. Dickie, a technical consultant, said that the four had debated this year whether to attend. “So now that one crazy person has done that, it might inspire somebody else,” he said, referring to the tragedy in Las Vegas. But in the end, he said, the decision was easy. “We feel very secure,” he said. “We’re not going to let it ruin our good time.”” Montgomery quotes Tyler Costolo, 25, who flew in from Boca Raton Florida: ““I’m kind of the opinion things like that shouldn’t change your life,” said Mr. Costolo, wearing a white T-shirt with the name of the band The Front Bottoms. “At that point, you’re letting those kinds of things win.”” None of this would be at all unusual to residents of Israel, France, United Kingdom, Spain, etc. After terrorist attacks that have occurred there one continuously hears (and re hears) the refrain that by showing up, going on with the everyday activities disrupted by the terrorists, one keeps the terrorists from winning. In Newark Ohio there is a different response to the ominous terrorist threat. Newark’s only downtown park, the Newark version of Central Park, surrounds the historic (and recently restored) county courthouse. Previously benches and picnic tables provided relaxing spots for get togethers amid majestic trees on a neatly tended grass lawn. There was even a spacious gazebo for larger organized gatherings. Now we read: “The picnic tables, where downtown employees often ate their lunches or people played cards in the evening, will not return, the mayor [Jeff Hall] said. Security concerns, Hall said, played into the decision to avoid having people sitting at tables, with backpacks, near the government building. Instead, there are more benches, which are further away from the building. The gazebo will be stored for the winter and appear next year on the lawn of the former Children’s Home site, at 771 E. Main St. Private donations will be used to move and store the gazebo.” (Gazebo to move from courthouse grounds to former children’s home site Kent Mallett, The Advocate, 9-26-17). Analysis concludes with that marvelous premonitory quote regarding Newark’s central park by Ryan Bubb in yesterday’s Advocate: “”It’s going to be back better than it was,” he said.” (Newark Council: Gazebo should stay, but will it? Editor Benjamin Lanka,10-6-17)

 

Polarization And Gerrymandering

October 6, 2017

Analysis finds there to be endless speculation, with statistical backing, on “the polarization of America” on the majority of issues facing our children’s future. Whether this is a readily available handle on the news by the news media, or “fake news” promoted by tech savvy raconteurs (both foreign and domestic), or is actually so but impossible to grasp unless you are a main frame computer is a contemporary puzzle. The US Supreme Court is currently hearing a case questioning Wisconsin’s political redistricting. Labeled gerrymandering, the issue is rather one of domination than polarization. Locally, in Newark Ohio, we have the destruction of the courthouse square gazebo which ostensibly is part of the City of Newark’s public domain but sits adjacent the Licking County Courthouse (also a public domain but of the county, not city). Confused? It is all akin to the township trustee positions that some municipal voters get to vote on even though unaffected by any township adjudication. Where is the gerrymandering and polarization in all this when it comes to the Newark City Council, Mayor Jeff Hall, and the voting residents of Newark? A recent editorial, er, report by the Advocate editor, Benjamin Lanka, may shed some light on this (since obviously no one would admit to polarization in Newark let alone gerrymandering with the ward districting supplemented by at large representatives). Entitled “Newark Council: Gazebo should stay, but will it?” (10-6-17) it paints a rather ambiguous picture (THAT is an understatement!). In a nut shell, Lanka goes out of his way to survey each council representative and their views on the matter. All, save one, would prefer the gazebo remain and not be destroyed. All plead powerlessness to stopping Mayor Hall’s action (but for discretely polarized reasons!). The “save one” is none other than Licking County Commissioner Tim Bubb’s son, Ryan Bubb. In the past, Ryan would have been given the benefit of doubt with regard to nepotism, but with the age of the Kushners being part and parcel of the White House administration, the doubt itself is more than doubtful. Commenters to Lanka’s editorial, er, reporting raised the obvious. When Lanka writes “The costs of moving and restoring the gazebo are being paid by private donors.” They ask “who are the private donors?” Analysis speculates it is probably a public private partnership (like JobsOhio) which is not obligated to disclose their “private” parts (so fashionable these days!). Investigative reporting is not this particular Advocate reporter’s forte. Lanka concludes his editorial, er, article by quoting Ryan Bubb: “”It’s going to be back better than it was,” he said.” Priceless! Analysis finds the gerrymandering and polarization of Newark to be a little more readily apparent when one asks a simple question – why has no one suggested (publicly voiced) recalling the mayor if he continues with his administrative action counter the people’s will? All of a sudden the polarization jumps out. The ambiguity of the GOP representative’s we’d-like-it-to-stay-but (“Would I like to see it stay? Absolutely,” Frazier said. “That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t respect the authority of the mayor.”) is obviously inevitable (an acknowledgement of the little man behind the curtain in Oz). It is what comes after the “but” that makes for the affirmative statement (we still abide by the GOP power structure). The reticence of the Democratic candidates to generate any action to save the gazebo (initiate a recall) points to the de facto gerrymandering (their very powerlessness). Their positions within their districts are none too secure. Analysis finds (on the national level) talk, reporting and commentary on gerrymandering and polarization to be often times, if not most of the time, couched in terms of economics. However, as the Newark gazebo shows, polarization and gerrymandering are about those who have power, and those who are lorded over. We will have our way because we can. And in this case, we can make the gazebo disappear. “It’s going to be back better than it was.” Now THAT’S power!

How Citizens United Matters In Newark Ohio

October 3, 2017

“Residents rally against move of gazebo from Courthouse Square” headlined today in the Advocate (Kent Mallett, 10-3-17). “Gazebo” will get tagged while “residents” will be taken for granted. After all, residents of a neighborhood association, block watch or school zone will often times coordinate to demand/petition council to address a safety concern, traffic situation, etc. And council will needs be attentive as residents vote, whether they own property or not. They reside in the voting precinct. Who else is there to vote? With Newark City Council’s recent passage of the downtown SID a curious twist has appeared in the neighborhood/council relationship. Essentially, the SID has created a “neighborhood association” which not only can demand/petition council equitably with any other Newark neighborhood, but has the added advantage of being semi-autonomous. The “persons” in this neighborhood are self-governing, something other Newark residential neighborhoods don’t enjoy. Membership has nothing to do with residency, and everything to do with property ownership. The “residents” of this neighborhood are likewise not voters (people with the capacity to vote). They likewise needn’t even reside in Newark (or Licking County for that matter). And yet they can make decisions as to the way their neighborhood is to be. Just as “old MacDonald had a farm” is a complete fabrication of the nature of farms and farming in the US today, so is the sole proprietor, owner-operator “mom and pop” account of business owners and business in downtown Newark. The vast majority of properties owned, businesses owned and conducted are within the structure of corporation (check deed title listings at the county engineers/recorders if you’d like. There is a map that lists who owns which parcel. Few of the names are individual entities). And as we all know, corporations are entities that exist “solely in contemplation of the law.” And thus do not vote. But wait, the highest court in the land ruled that they are “persons” (Citizens United ruling). So, as persons, they can politically organize, be semi-autonomous, and self-govern their neighborhood. What is the cost of admission to this neighborhood association? Well, exactly that. If you have money to spend, you are welcome downtown. Just passing through, keep moving (to another neighborhood). Don’t bring your own picnic to enjoy under the trees, or let the kids run around on the grass, or gather at the Gazebo. Grass, picnic tables and Gazebo are not part of the business plan for these “persons”. From Mallett: “The mayor said the Canal Market Plaza, opened last year just south of the Square, is a better place for concerts and community events, allowing performers and the audience to be under roof, out of the rain or sun. Hall did not attend the council meeting as he was home sick.” “Safety Director Steve Baum explained the gazebo is not compliant with the Americans With Disabilities Act, and its presence has become a security issue. “There are problems with homeless people sleeping under it, on it, around it,” Baum said. “Security is not the same for government buildings anymore. Our courthouse lawn is not necessarily the site for certain venues.”” Mallett quotes Carol Floyd, D-7th Ward who inadvertently blurts out what everyone knows but denies: “”I do not want us to become a community of ‘them’ and ‘us.’ I want to be an inclusive community that welcomes everybody, not us — the nice, normal people that don’t want the homeless or those who don’t have very much.” Thanks to the workings of Citizens United, the SID facilitates the downtown neighborhood’s charging admission. Well, OK, no ticket or reservation required. But you’d better bring a credit card or cash.