Jerry McClain, Rental Registration, MLK And The Children’s Home

This morning a single WCLT newscast notified that Jerry McClain announced work would commence on a multi-story business tower on the northeast corner of Fourth Street and Locust in Newark, Ohio. On April 8 the City of Newark website posted “Public Involvement Meeting – Open House regarding the planned improvements to convert SR13 – Mt Vernon Road over SR16 and the nearby streets to accept two-way traffic operation, as opposed to the existing one-way operation.” for Weds. April 17, 5PM Newark City Council.  Follow up information on the McClain Company is difficult to immediately access on the WCLT “News” website (which is not, has nothing). The morning Advocate is mute. See previous “Right To Look” (3-7-13) post for the local news in Newark. The City of Newark website gives no information regarding its involvement in private public partnership (Newark Development Partners Community Improvement Corporation). As of this posting, the writer has received no follow up information from the contact listed for the Joint Economic Development Board. Just adjacent to Jerry McClain’s future development is the home of the Licking County Chamber of Commerce. The recent CIC endeavor of the Chamber is entitled “Grow Licking County” The Licking County website gives “‘Grow Licking County’ is a Community Improvement Corporation and a cooperative effort between Licking County Government, The Heath-Newark-Licking County Port Authority, and the Licking County Chamber of Commerce.” No further information is given. Attempts made to learn the names of who is on the board and who they represent from Dan Evers at the Chamber have gone unanswered as of this posting. No such info appears on the Grow Licking County website. The lack of information, which ought to be readily available to the public regarding CIC activity, is not unusual. A year ago (4-11-12) an essay entitled “In The Public Interest” was posted on the blog All The Noose That Is Knot:

“Here in the American state of Ohio the governor (John Kasich) is remodeling our state government. Ohio’s office of economic development has been transformed into JobsOhio. This is organized as a public private commission, board, corporation (whatever you want to use as lipstick is OK by me). The membership of such “public private” governance is usually split 40/60, public /private. Moneys involved usually are 60/40 public/private. Meetings, decision making, etc. is private (so it is outside the reach of Ohio’s government “sunshine” regulations). But final determinations of commitment with regard to policy, spending, etc. rests with the governor or legislature. More such “collaborations” are in the works, with statewide management of human resources (employment) falling under the same rubric and employment training/education likewise having a new “public private” initiative. Some of the folks representing the “public”, and acting as chair, are distinguished individuals like Gordon Gee, president of the Ohio State University (who was once on the board of trustees of the very private, and now defunct Massey Energy until its West Virginia Upper Big Branch mine exploded, inconveniently killing the workers inside). Delving deeper, one finds many such commissions and boards comprised of public/ private representatives dealing with public safety, utilities, transportation, natural resources, etc. On the local level we find ditto of above. The duly elected Licking County commissioners have entered into a Community Improvement Corp, with the same makeup as described above. The county seat of Newark, not to be undone, is entering into its own CIC with the city’s corporate big boys. These “developments” involve various tax breaks, easements, zoning changes and structural improvements/services to facilitate business growth. They also determine where the public funding is ultimately spent (enhancing the value of specific business property considerably over that of the surrounding generic residential neighborhoods).”

Since its inception JobsOhio has found itself embroiled in litigation, etc. losing its initial director and fighting a look see into its books by the state’s auditor amongst other things. A lot of it centers around the right to look.

Working its way into the news this week was the proposal made to establish rental registration and inspection, etc. of the 43% of Newark residential housing that is not owner occupant. The 4-9-13 Advocate’s headline regarding this was “Rental Registration Proposal Dies”. It reported “Newark Real Estate broker Steve Layman said only one tenant in the roughly 300 rental properties his company manages has filed a complaint. Mandating self-inspections of all those units — as the measure proposed — would have required his company to hire someone to inspect all of those properties, even those reporting no problems.” It was not reported that anyone questioned such a business practice of not having a paid employee of the company keeping a watchful eye on the condition of the company’s cash cow. No one with a company having a fleet of 300 trucks, 300 stores, or even a farmer with 300 head of cattle or hogs, would wait until there was “a complaint” (break down or disease). In a previous session entertaining Rental Registration, multi-unit landlord Gerald DePalmo objected that such legislation would stifle development.

At its 4-2-13 meeting the Licking County Commissioners announced the imminent demolition of the Children’s Home on East Main Street in Newark. The 4-10-13 Newark Advocate  follows up that “Sparta Restaurant owner Chris Ramsey said he will meet with local architects and Licking County Commissioner Duane Flowers to discuss whether it is possible to rehabilitate the former Licking County Children’s Home. Ramsey proposes turning the former home into a community center, affordable apartments and what he called an incubator for economic and social growth.” Today’s Advocate reports the commissioners are planning the development of a brick give away. In its ongoing coverage of the history of the Children’s Home, the Advocate reports repeatedly that the building was not included in any projected future development plans for Licking County back during the Bush presidency and has been essentially boarded up since 2009. The 4-6-13 edition quotes area resident Pam Bailey as stating: “It’s not just Newark,” she said. “It’s this whole country. What’s this country without its history?”

Speaking of this country’s history, the 1963 Newark Advocate on January 2nd ran a short article reporting that in a speech on the centennial of the Emancipation Proclamation Dr. Martin Luther King advocated a nationwide boycott of companies who ban employment to Negroes. He is quoted as saying “Segregation is nothing but slavery covered up with certain niceties.” Dr. King was able to advocate such action, as boycotts were effective 50 years ago (as evidenced not only with the civil rights movement but the United Farm Workers, etc.). Business needed a public to purchase its product, in order to foster business’ profit, growth and development. Dr. King would not be able to do this today. The public is told that it needs business to foster the public’s livelihood, growth and development. If the public will not pay, business will effectively boycott the community. To paraphrase Dr. King “Public/private partnership is nothing but extortion covered up with certain niceties.”

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