Archive for January, 2015

The Newark News Authority

January 27, 2015

An amazing piece of writing appeared in the 1-25-15 Newark Advocate. The opening line reads:
“It’s time for Etna Township and Grow Licking County to sit down and find a way to avoid competing against each other for new jobs.”
Four lines from the end:
“We don’t need our own communities competing against each other on anything other than the benefits of one site over another.”
Just the day before, this same paper ran a news article by Kent Mallett entitled “Seraphinea’s is closing downtown location, Wild Things will expand”. In it Mr. Mallett gives Seraphinea’s owner saying: ““Everybody is always concerned when a new place opens, but competition is a good thing,” [Edward] Roberts said. “It brings more people.””
For small business owner and entrepreneur Edward Roberts, diversity is welcome and beneficial, “competition is a good thing”. For Gannett Corporation’s Newark Advocate, the only paper in town (the only one holding a megaphone), “We don’t need our communities competing against each other”. Monopolies are derisive of diversity. The “competition” of difference is perceived as a threat, not a benefit. But wait, there’s more. It is an amazing piece of writing!

The same day that Seraphinea’s move was reported by the same paper, the same reporter disclosed that “Trulite Glass to close Hebron plant in spring”. Grow Licking County’s Dan Ever’s earned his salary and removed the county’s sole CIC from any proximity with an alibi that it was only a calculated business decision (““It’s the result of an acquisition of the company,” Evers said. “The decision was made at the corporate level, completely about consolidation of assets, and no reflection on the men and women at that company.””). The following day’s amazing editorial reinforced that position, “It’s foolish to blame a CIC or anyone when projects land at one location or another.” When you’re the only game in town, you are privileged to take all the credit when convenient, and eschew any taint of blame. So much for the benefits of competition.

Analysis finds that this amazing piece of writing (“County only needs 1 CIC to attract jobs “ 1-25-15) effectively insinuates that the fine people of Etna township are incapable of governing themselves, of determining what is in their best interest, and how they wish to be identified, defined, represented, or promoted; all the provenance and raison d’etre of self-governance. This is astounding in itself when one recognizes that the amazing writing’s author gives proof of this through stating that “Grow Licking County successfully campaigned to block Etna’s plan to ask voters for a new development district allowing for new taxes on existing businesses and their employees.” But as though this was not reason enough for the residents of Etna township to consider alternatives, the amazing writing’s writer promotes unity under the Grow Licking County aegis. To rub pepper spray in the eyes of democracy’s participants, the editorial gives no alternative other than “supporting the countywide CIC fully both in funding and public support.” The writer then goes on to say “In Etna’s case, the development needs and opportunities are no different than in other areas of the county competing for new businesses.” Analysis, and any other reader, clearly discerns that if you pay to be part of Grow Licking County, you will be represented by the CIC even though the public/private partnership already receives very public funding from the county tax payers. According to The Advocate’s editorial board, this same CIC is to maintain a monopoly of no competition while fostering competition through upfront individual community payment (this blog previously pointed out such contributions by Heath, Pataskala, etc. in addition to what the Licking County Chamber of Commerce receives from the county itself). Folks not paying, or paying enough, aren’t playing. “We don’t need our own communities competing against each other on anything other than the benefits of one site over another.” (so please pay, won’t you?) So much for democracy with its self-governance.

Amazing, simply amazing piece of writing. After that, maybe Gannett Corporation’s Newark Advocate should change its name to The Newark News Authority. No need to look anywhere else!

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The Longer View

January 25, 2015

“North Dakota 2.7% unemployment will soar” 24/7 Wall Street
“Switching to home solar power is the story of the year” EcoSalon
“”Plunging prices threaten UK’s ‘cash cow’ oil industry” AFP
“Next big future: Roll to roll manufactured decorative perovskite solar panels will be 5 times better and 10 times cheaper” nextbrightfuture.com
“Low oil prices chill once-hot oil town in North Dakota” Christian Science Monitor
“The shape of things to come: The solar powered car of the future.” Financial Times
“Charles Koch: We’re just getting started” Politico
“The future of solar” Fox Business videos

These are some of the headlines in the 1-25-15 online news. The Politico article almost seems an anomaly within the context of the others. Not. It is rather prescient of what the other headlines say in and of themselves. This blog has previously written of disruptive technology, a term used to describe development that displaces one form of technology with another based on the new form being cheaper, easier to use and with more inclusive access while the older displaced technology is more expensive, difficult to sustain and very exclusive. The personal computer (now the smart phone) is exemplary of what disruptive technology is all about. Solar has been described as just that – a disruptive technology. The Koch empire is heavily invested in coal, oil and fossil fuel processing (especially in regards electric power generation and distribution). Kenneth P. Vogel, writing for Politico, gives a smattering of the press release by Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce from its current meeting in Palm Springs California. “The group raises money from donors who attend twice-a-year sessions like the one in Palm Springs, and spends it – both directly and through grants to other linked non-profits – on a combination of small government advocacy and partisan electioneering. The groups combined to spend about $290 million in the run-up to the 2014 midterm elections, including on hard-hitting ads that were credited with softening up vulnerable Democratic senators who ultimately lost to Republican challengers.” This was a first time “official” release of activity by these previously secret meetings. ““But as many of you know, we don’t rest on our laurels. We are already back at work and hard at it! In fact, the work never really ends. Because the struggle for freedom never ends,” Koch said.” Analysis finds the above pairing of headlines to be indicative of the upcoming struggles and some of the issues of the next two years. The relationship (and correlation of the two) will not be covered by the press, media or local news outlets (every struggle involves a struggler as well as a strugglee). Expediency accounts for this. As corporate entities (the media, not the Chamber), they are primarily interested in what drives their market share and improves their stock value. “Divide and conquer” – by separating these into individual news blurbs, the association of one with the other will essentially be obliterated. It appears on the surface that it could be shrugged off as just “growing pains”, the new encroaching on the old. Political scientists say politics is about not only seizing the power of the process (how the game is played), but also the power to frame the argument (what the game is about). ““Americans have taken an important step in slowing down the march toward collectivism,” Charles Koch said in his speech, seemingly in reference to the Republican takeover of the Senate during the 2014 midterm elections.” One of those that the $290 million helped into office suggested that not enough people are available to work. Cutting Social Security disability would be a good way to increase the labor pool (John the Governator also argues this, though rather indirectly, by insinuating there are jobs available in Ohio going unfilled). Analysis found this incredulous. Not that SS disability should be cut, but that someone within this “Jobs, Jobs, Jobs” propaganda would let slip that it really is all about making more cheap labor available for corporate America (who would opt for SS if they could have fulfilling high paying employment with medical coverage for their disability and a disability friendly work place?). Framing the argument in terms of collectivism, or rather anti-collectivism, makes it appear that the “Jobs, Jobs, Jobs” all pay great, have a growing future and are sustainable. The sustainable, disruptive future is framed as “uncertain”, “collective”, “unproven” and “insecure”. The guns, money and megaphone seems to be with the Koch’s. Analysis finds vitality favoring the sustainable, disruptive future. Will Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce and others be able to silence and stifle vitality?

Living Does Matter

January 21, 2015

Another day, another council meeting, another big crowd. What brings people out? Occasionally past Newark City Council meetings have drawn some numbers over issues like substandard housing, absence of public transportation, or children’s welfare. What is it about pets that mobilizes such a multitude? True, they are considered children with fur coats by many, just another part of the family. The passion with which people have come together over how their critters are defined, identified, and treated appears to be unrivalled. Analysis wouldn’t anticipate such a response if Council were to consider the diet of Newark’s youth, their living conditions, or what they do after school lets out. These same parents of children in fur coats would not be incensed if their natural born offspring, not covered in fur, were detained for trespassing on a neighbor’s property or were identified as troublemakers for “hanging out” on the street or at the mall. After all, young people are required to learn the rules, respect private property, and know better. It is de rigueur for being an American. But pets – not so much. Analysis shows this passionate response to be one of freedom. Put crassly, “You can tell me what to do but don’t tell my fur clad kid what to do.” It differs markedly from the cold logic of gun ownership that simply concerns itself with what can be owned by a single individual. That thinking is akin to the “rights” of hoarders to accumulate as much stuff as possible. It’s a capitalist “thing”. But with pets it’s different. The pet is a “thing” of nature, not so much a thing but a living creature. A living creature has the capacity to do, uniquely and unpredictably. We’re not talking about pet rocks here. Living creatures engage in spontaneous interactions as well as develop natural relations with other living creatures without regard for the prescriptions, efficiencies, and restrictions of the economy. A natural creature doesn’t “know better”, will never “learn” the rules (of nature or the market), and certainly has no notion of what fences are all about. This freedom gives those with fur clad buddies great pleasure. Could it be that what generates this joy makes up for a lack that is unacknowledged but acquiesced? Maybe there’s something we could learn from all this. Living does matter.

Newark Selfie

January 12, 2015

The New Year serves up not only cabbage and pork but also reheated leftovers in the form of government self-reflection. One such deep dish helping comes from Licking County Commissioner Tim Bubb with a guest column in the 1-11-15 Newark Advocate. This follows the more formal fare of Newark Mayor Jeff Hall’s Address to the City Council (as reported by Joe Williams for the Newark Advocate 1-6-15). One would think that the two would be roughly parallel if not at least complimentary, given that Newark is the county’s largest concentration of people. One would be wrong. For the most part the two assessments are quite dissimilar. Commissioner Bubb’s offering features a generous portion of Grow Licking County for whom he cooks, er, he is on the board. His recommendation is a full plate of commercial offerings, primarily western and southwestern style. “Jobs, Jobs, Jobs” are the repeated staple. The Mayor serves up the same old hash but now highlighting a name change. As a requisite liability disclaimer, he rues his franchise’s legislated income erasure from the city menu. To alleviate heartburn, both cooks promote a healthy dose of the new and improved security service. Ask for it under the MARCS logo. Though not a product of either’s individual kitchen, both chef’s offer the projected Canal Market District as 100% local. In fact, the independently funded and outside originated dream whip is the one and only unaccomplished accomplishment within Licking County’s population center receiving rave reviews from both leaders simultaneously.

Who benefits?

Analysis recommends beginning with the heartburn alleviation. MARCS (along with the LC Regional Communications Center) makes it easier to deploy police from any jurisdiction with lightning speed, a veritable blitzkrieg of efficiency. This is timely relief, coming none too soon given the upcoming people’s exercise of democracy in 2016. Of course, the prime beneficiaries of corporate industries, such as Ascena, Bocchi Labs, etc. are the owners and corporate executives themselves (both US and foreign) who ultimately profit from the plethora of locals primed and conditioned for precarious employment, the custom made and cost free infrastructure catering, property and income tax breaks, abatements, credits, etc. Even the Advocate’s connoisseur editorial board recommends such a diet mainstay though their palate is partial to a Thornwood Drive expenditure to accompany the main course of Cherry Valley Interchange. Analysis yields the Canal Market District special, featured by both leaders, as somewhat indigestible. Its benefit defies even continuous regurgitation. Could it be simply for the trophy case or museum of great ideas? Not. “Jobs, Jobs, Jobs”? Not. Housing development? Not. Feeding the 20% of children who are chronically undernourished? Not. Providing overflow for the dynamic downtown commercial center? Not. A future financial district? Not. Increased tax revenue for Newark? Not (unless there is a charge for use of the heirloom parking garage, originally phase one of this epic recipe). Analysis shows places like London (England), Las Vegas (Nevada), etc. have constructed giant Ferris wheels that function as landmark attractions, magnets announcing the city center as a “destination.” Analysis speculates this might be more compatible with the “Je ne sais quoi” ambience that the pre-existing giant basket office building on the edge of town exudes. Along with Commissioner Bubb and Mayor Hall, those on board could look down on the greater population of Newark, maybe even take a selfie with the city’s people in the background!

The “Jobs, Jobs, Jobs” Merry Go Round, Or When Will We Ever Get The Gold Ring?

January 6, 2015

The new law makers (legislators) take their seats in the upcoming days, to do the people’s work as their representatives. The dominant PAC represented, both national as well as state, emphasizes anticipated law making will be about “Jobs, Jobs, Jobs” (Just a reminder, dear reader, the Licking County Board of Elections categorizes political parties as Political Action Committees, PACs). Weird side note momentarily in the minor news this past week was the graphic cutting the map of America in half, one side of which is solely in the possession of 40 individuals. Major news emphasized daily the falling price of oil and its correlate, the lower cost of gasoline and heating fuel. The People Magazine side of media’s hegemony on this is that the economic statistics result in a de facto “wage increase” for workers, er, consumers. This is calculated variously depending on what median income is chosen – one that includes the 40 owning half of America or one that excludes them (Are we an inclusive democracy? Are the 40 “workers”? Or is it their money working for them? Is it OK to equate workers and money?). Either way, working people have a little more jingle in their pockets with which to pay for things and not go in debt. Believe it or not, this worries the “Jobs, Jobs, Jobs” folks. The appeal of “Jobs, Jobs, Jobs” is primarily to assuage fear, the fear of depression or recession (for an enhanced terror experience, precede either with the adjective “great”). Recession is, after all, money going on strike, demanding it is worth more, should make more money before it returns to the function it normally performs. You’d think that with the consumer having all this extra money to spend the stock market would be hot to trot. You’d be wrong. The stock market has been dropping (ostensibly) on fears of, all things, a recession. The financial sector makes money from money (usually someone else’s). Money doesn’t make money without someone going into debt. Money making money doesn’t care for consumers not buying on credit, not going into debt. As ironic as it may sound, Analysis shows that, for most folks, getting a job means going in debt (to pay for education, transportation, relocation, etc.). Credit is not extended to those without the remotest hope of future earnings. Significantly raising the minimum wage throughout the entire country would do what the ephemeral drop in gas prices does. The folks clamoring for “Jobs, Jobs, Jobs” say this would only cost jobs and hurt “the economy”. Low paying jobs create debt which drives Wall Street and helps create jobs!

Squeegeers

January 4, 2015

The Newark City Council is expected to take up the pressing problem of squeegeers, especially on the east bound Church Street off ramp where they have been vexing drivers since the intersection was upgraded not too long ago. What? Analysis has gone completely off the deep end this time! There is no problem with homeless squeegeers at the west side location, you say. Would it be any more outrageous to say that due to the continuous spate of horrific accidents on the east bound Church Street off ramp intersection, Newark City Council will agree to spend $80,000 to remedy this problem? What problem, you say. The one defined by a total absence of any reference to Newark city streets urgently needing repair/repaving or infrastructure/bridges maintenance past the “best if used by” date. The one described by the City Engineer as “Motorists now often use the exit ramp’s berm to maintain two lanes of traffic, Morehead said. “This will make it two actual lanes there,” he said.” ( Joe Williams, Newark Advocate 1-3-15, “Council OK likely for exit ramp lane”). Oh,THAT problem. It must be a priority for the ruling state PAC’s agenda; to be positive and promote the improvement of Ohio at the expense of the citizens of its individual communities while simultaneously superseding the needs and wishes of the residents of these very same communities.