Eye Care Prescription

            Double Dip Don scores another benny from his years of dedicated public service! When we last met Don a month ago, he was cashing in his chips and retiring from dedicated public service, knowing full well that he’d be back doing the people’s business the very next day. (this blog’s December 12, 2013 post, Communist Or Republican) Double Dip contributes a whole new meaning to “visionary leadership”. The Advocate headlines “Transit buildings: $320,000 to buy but never used Councilman questions fellow member’s role in purchase of structures”, 1-12-14 by Joe Williams. The story, in a nutshell, is that Federal Transit Authority money was used to purchase land and two buildings in February of 2011 for anticipated storage of city mass transit vehicles (remember when cities had mass transit? But I digress). The purchase resulted in a commission being paid to the buyer’s agent, in this case a firm under the “dedicated” private leadership of Double Dip Don himself. All perfectly legal according to current City Law Director Doug Sassen. The story has immediately generated a side story of mud slinging politics and news suppression within the “Facebook” commentaries that accompany it online (Lust us on Farcebook!). Couple this article with one that received no Facebook comments, “Start Talking initiative aims at heroin Program to include $1 million in grants” by Carrie Blackmore Smith of The Cincinnati Enquirer, 1-9-14. The Governor of Ohio released info on an information education program “for schools and nonprofit organizations to boost their efforts to encourage prevention [of opioid addiction].” The program will cover free email notification (!), discussion groups (!!), State Highway Patrol and National Guard in our schools (!!!), as well as “help schools and nonprofits create tools to help students resist substance abuse and peer pressure.” (no exclamation points here since the schools and nonprofits will probably only receive token partial reimbursement for their commitment) Way down towards the bottom of the article one reads “The $1 million will come from federal funds provided through the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program”.


            Analysis finds the two articles inform each other delightfully in terms of our culture, and why we find ourselves distracted by political mudslinging and polarity. Travel back with Analysis to those exciting days of yesteryear at the start of 2011, an “election year” (aren’t they all?). B Rock was running unopposed as the incumbent for president. His opposition appeared to have challengers to what the consensus took to be his eventual opponent. 2011 was also an election year for the city of Newark. Primaries had not kicked in yet. All seemed undetermined. One thing for sure, agendas and talking points on both sides of the political spectrum were dominated by the hegemony of jobs and the economy. The existence of the one major social program that was meant to benefit people (the public), en masse, was far from certain as a done deal, with politicians of both parties, at all levels, keeping their distance from “embracing” it. Looking around we find the Freedom School initiating and organizing a lobbying effort on behalf of creating fixed route public transit in the city of Newark. The council and mayor were totally non-committal to “embracing” any kind of programs to benefit the people (the public). In short, at the time of the purchase, there was only a short sighted vision for obtaining a grant from money that was available (a dollar value asset for the city). Additionally, Analysis needs to point out that the current mayor stressed his personal history as an accountant as an essential for why he is the best man for the job. Accountability, especially for how money is spent, was a big “issue”. As Double Dip has pointed out, grabbing the money while you can, when it is there is an integral part of our near sighted culture. The cynical aside would be to say that visionary, committed leadership, one that could imagine a vast horizon, died with the multiple assassinations of the 1960’s. But that contributes nothing in terms of what is at stake here. No one, neither the current council president nor the side story commentators present any kind of imaginative or creative alternate use for the city’s assets (purchased through federal grant money). The Governor found a creative alternative to utilize money earmarked as “Temporary Assistance for Needy Families” yet no one within the city of Newark’s administration can think outside the ledger sheet. Truly a lack of creative imagination. Is it the absence of interest, vision and commitment in utilizing this resource for the “public” good or is it the intimidation of doing something that is outside the box of fiscal, dollar-ocracy? If Liz Argyle and Steve Layman can stretch the definition of “historic” value to qualify for tax credits, certainly some people within the Hall administration have some imagination and creativity somewhere. Which brings the cultural aspect into play. Analysis cannot let it slide. Folks who demand accountability of education, who demand that learning lead to jobs (or not be funded as education) are accountable for having no vision, no imagination or commitment. Nothing comes from nothing. If you remove the sources of creativity and inquiry from learning — the arts, literature, music, philosophy, etc. – because they don’t lead to jobs, then it is no wonder you have leadership without imaginative vision.


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