Newark Advocate Editorial Needs Careful Scrutiny

            It is quite unusual to analyze an editorial as an editorial is itself an analysis, something used to “connect the dots” of the many facts, sides and directions which have made the news and are designated as significant by the editorial itself. The January 4, 2014 Newark Advocate editorial (Etna tax proposal needs careful scrutiny) calls for analysis as the dots connected by the Advocate are all over the map. The issues involved have been covered by this blog’s previous post. Additionally, the paper itself revisits what is involved with that edition’s report by Chad Klimack, Etna, chamber still at tax impasse Trustees promise public forums on proposal. Ultimately the Advocate Editorial Board states that “We agree with the chamber on this one.” What, within the rhetoric of their analysis, led them to such a position? How did they arrive there?


            The Advocate lays out certain dynamics and scenarios which they assume others will agree with. Primary claim is that “At issue is Etna’s consideration of a new JEDD or JEDZ, acronyms for two types of joint economic development districts. Normally a JEDD or JEDZ is created to fund improvements to land making it possible for new companies to locate there. Normal income taxes are assessed on the new workers to help pay for things such road and sewer improvements, which made their new jobs possible.” But then a shell game of voters rights and business interest enters in. We are told that “Even worse, Etna trustees could begin taxing current residents and workers without a vote of the public if they chose the JEDD option. A JEDZ must be approved by voters.” and also that previously “One key issue here is that Etna voters have been unwilling to support tax increases of late”.  But the editorial board also notes that “The concept also has been successful in Etna as evidenced by the current JEDZ covering ProLogis Park, where the township says 90 percent of the workers come from outside the township. They pay a 1.5 percent income tax to the township.” The Advocate reinforces its position by stating “Etna’s success is key for Licking County, not only for jobs but the flow of traffic and goods.” And suggesting that “it’s time for Etna to begin looking at other long-term options necessary to create jobs and serve its residents.”


            Analysis finds this analysis (editorial) to be somewhat convoluted, but definitely in keeping with the times. What is at issue, the cost of needed infrastructure and how to pay for it, is not covered as an “issue” in the Advocate’s editorial. What we have is a jingo-ist appeal to voters rights and taxation. The Klimack article summarizes the reasoning by the trustees for going down the JEDZ road (which the editorial touts as “successful”) – ““The township’s businesses, [Etna Township Trustee John] Carlisle said, generate traffic, which affect its roads. For that reason, those businesses should pick up some of the cost of maintaining those roads, Carlisle added. “Nobody likes to pay taxes, but somebody has to pay for the infrastructure,” Carlisle said.” A little later Klimack writes “The township for years also has wanted to build a park for its residents, but it has not had the funds to undertake such a project, he said. A zone could fund such an endeavor. “Would it spur economic development?” Carlisle asked. “Who wants to move into a community where the kids don’t having anything to do, like go to a park?”” The Newark Advocate editorial completely ignores that southwest Licking county is one of the most active and growing residential areas in the county. Likewise that the 310/70 interchange is used by these folks to access their employment outside their home neighborhoods (and likewise immediately becoming part of the “90 percent of the workers [which] come from outside” some other community). To which Klimack adds ““The letter [from the Chamber] said they feel the (bridge) project is premature, but how can you say it is premature?” Carlisle asked. “There has been an outcry from business owners to widen 310 to get trucks to and from the corporate park for the last four years.”” There was even movement, some time back (contemporary with the development of Pro Logis and Etna Corporate Park), to build an additional interchange onto I70. So far Analysis finds that the infrastructure must be dealt with to accommodate both the business as well as residential growth of the community, that The Advocate considers JEDZ successful, and that JEDZ rely on someone else to pick up the tab (the “90 percent of the workers [that] come from outside the township”). Inferred is The Advocate’s promotion that the Chamber, which represents the business “residents’ of this community who do not vote but have all the rights of its citizens (but not the responsibilities?), should be instrumental in deciding any outcome. It is disingenuous for the editorial board to claim this is about voting rights while promoting the Chamber’s “vote” over the outcome; eliding that “the flow of traffic and goods” benefits the business community as well while advocating that they have a say without bearing any cost. By announcing that “We agree with the chamber on this one.” the Advocate endorses the shell game of taxing “workers [that] come from outside” and the citizens that reside in the community, but not the businesses for whom infrastructure maintenance and improvement are vital to their success. Unspoken (by the editorial board) is that the people of this (or any) community should be beholden to those who “create jobs”, and be more than glad to pay (for) them. This is definitely in keeping with the times. Twenty years ago it was claimed that job losses and lower wages were on account of jobs going overseas or Mexico, as well as goods coming in from there. Today’s news brings “In the end, Boeing worker Bob Dennis told The Associated Press as he prepared to vote for the deal Friday, “I think this is our last opportunity to keep those jobs in the state.”” (Boeing’s Machinists union OKs benefit cuts to keep 777X in Washington state Gil Aegerter NBC News 1-4-14)  The Advocate has reported the same on the demise of Meritor which made even less of an offer to its workers. The Advocate begins its editorial with “We hope the Etna Township Trustees are listening” It appears as though the newspaper itself needs an adjustment with its own auditory reception capability. 


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