Just Say No

This all would be so funny if it didn’t hurt so many folks. No, not the fact that the city of Newark (and surrounds) is subsidizing the financial avarice of the Longaberger name. Remember what Dan Moder, executive of the Licking County Convention and Visitors Bureau, said back in October of 2013? Of course you do. In case that memory chip is acting up again how ‘bout: ““There is something to be said for brand recognition. People recognize it. They trust it. They believe in it.”” (“The More Things Change, The More They Remain The Same”. Kent Mallett reports Downtown Hotel May Become Double Tree (The Advocate 10-2-13). Now (4-25-15) Kent reports on the city that has never met a developer that it didn’t like . “The company is $250,000 behind on its tax increment financing payments to the city of Newark and Licking Valley School District and would be $350,000 behind by the end of 2015 without any payments, Licking County Auditor Mike Smith said. Overall, the company’s TIF payments to the city are $2 million shy of projections made in 1999 because of the late payments and a 2007 reappraisal that lowered the basket’s value. The city borrowed $3.2 million to make road and utility improvements on East Main Street and Dayton Road for the Longaberger development. The city has paid $6.8 million, including interest, but received just $4.1 million from Longaberger” (Longaberger struggles become city’s debt Kent Mallett, Newark Advocate April 25, 2015). “There is something to be said for brand recognition. People recognize it. They trust it. They believe in it.” With so many true believers maybe the big basket will become a church. The First (but not last) Evangelical Church Of The Gospel Of Endless Prosperity. “Get a handle on your unhinged life of trouble and toil!”

Back in July of 2014 Analysis composed a blog posting (Game Of Thrones) reflecting on the demise of The Trump Plaza, Atlantic Club, Showboat and Revel casinos in Atlantic City New Jersey (something Chris Christie doesn’t speak much about). Analysis revealed “Visions of the second quirkiest landmark building in the US being vacant due to foreclosure do not make for savory Newark tourism. Would it still be on the charter bus itinerary?” (Well? Would it?). In the aforementioned 4-25-15 front page article Mallett quotes Mayor Hall as saying “But is (foreclosure) a solution?” (would the tour busses still stop?) A little later he writes “The city received $25,587 in tax increment financing payments in 2014. The 1999 projections were for the company to pay $364,587 annually for city infrastructure improvements to the area. The valuation of the property was cut in half in 2007, making its obligations about $170,00 annually. Russell Mack, a board member of Longaberger parent company CVSL, said the company has no plans to sell the basket building and challenges its tax bill. “Property values in the area have fallen over the years,” Mack wrote in an email response. “We are working with our real estate advisers, and we are disputing the assessed taxable value of the Big Basket building.”” Wait until foreclosure and the assessed taxable value will be even less. Better yet Mr. Mack, wait long enough and the city will use state home owners’ mortgage settlement funds to tear it down. (many “too big to fail” casino’s have been demolished in Las Vegas as well as Atlantic City). But would the tour busses come for the grand implosion?

That same month in 2014 we find this in the Newark Advocate: “Transit Board may cut Sunday service: Director says money being lost with few people riding Jul. 10, 2014 by Emily Maddern ““We’re just trying to find a way to survive and not go broke,” he [Licking County Transit Board Director and County Commissioner Tim Bubb] said. “It’s unfortunate, but it doesn’t do any good if you have to go into the red and shut it down.”” Of course it doesn’t. The city (and county) have met plenty of developments they didn’t like. One was that of making an investment in a fixed schedule public bus line instead of in a multi story Medium Market Basket. The payoff by now would be the residents of Newark being able to access jobs outlying as well as purchase in town homes or remodel existing ones from the savings of taking the bus. Public Transit certainly would be a development (or at least most cities see it that way). Or perhaps investing in affordable housing in town. Ditto same paybacks without having to fund private developer hysterical tax credits, etc. The Medium Market Basket comedy, in a city that won’t even have a weekly Farm Market this year with which to fill anyone’s basket, reveals a tragic romance (at best): spurning mundane public development for the unrestrained lusting and pursuit of a private developer. A city that has never met a developer it didn’t like. Someone once promoted a campaign of “Just say no!”

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