Alternative Facts Indeed!

Media world is all abuzz these days over “Alternative facts” with Amazon showing George Orwell’s 1984 shooting to number one in sales and many journalists (finally?) taking a stance and calling “alternative facts” just plain lies. Double speak or lies, facts don’t exist in a vacuum but are always found clustered with many of their friends and associates – namely context and environment. Analysis finds the following “tale of the tape” to exemplify the way facts change with regard to context: How many times has this blog quoted former president of Licking County Commissioners, Tim Bubb, as saying “We just can’t afford that.” One case of the “that” is public transportation, especially in the metro Newark area. 1-25-17 The Plain Dealer’s Ginger Christ headlines Public transit funding crucial in strengthening Ohio, report says. “In the report, Policy Matters, a nonprofit organization funded by foundations and community groups, points to the tax cuts made under Governor John Kasich as partially at the root of the state’s troubles in education, workforce, poverty and hunger.” “Ohio funds only 1 percent of public transportation in the state. Yet, the Ohio Department of Transportation’s Transit Needs Study said the state should provide 10 percent of transit’s funding.” Same day Jackie Borchardt of Cleveland.com headlines New scorecards show fiscal health of Ohio’s cities and counties, covering Ohio Auditor Dave Yost’s recently released report. Same day, same story only reported by AP in the Newark Advocate headlined State auditor report shows stressed Newark finances. “The auditor’s scorecard measured 17 “financial health indicators” for all 247 cities and 88 counties in Ohio. In each area, local governments were awarded a green, yellow or red mark to indicate a positive, cautionary or critical outlook, respectively, from data last collected in 2015.” (Borchardt) “Historical data indicates entities with at least six “critical” indicators or a combination of eight “critical” and “cautionary” indicators have ended up in a state of high fiscal stress, according to Yost. Newark had five cautionary indicators and two critical indicators for a total of seven.” (AP) Analysis looked at the database and found that Licking County was all green save for one category yellow – “for its ratio of debt service expenditures to total revenue.” (AP) Debt service is what is involved with long term loans or bonds, as in capital improvements. “”It’s an arbitrary set of standards they’ve applied to cities and counties,” Bubb said. “It’s just a number they pick. I take it as a good report for Licking County. I think it’s a compliment to us.”” (AP) 1-16-17 The Dayton Daily News’ Will Garbe and Laura A. Bischoff headlined RTA, other transit authorities could lose strike option Local lawmakers say RTA strike’s impacts shouldn’t be repeated and the state needs to take action. [RTA is Regional Transit Authority, akin to Licking County’s save it has fixed scheduled routes within Dayton, etc.] “Two state House Republicans intend to introduce legislation to prohibit Ohio’s public transit unions from starting strikes like the one suffered last week by the Greater Dayton RTA, the Dayton Daily News has learned. State Reps. Mike Henne and Jeff Rezabek — both Republicans from Clayton — intend to “introduce legislation requiring transit employee unions and local transit authorities to submit to binding community arbitration,” according to an internal Ohio House memo obtained by the newspaper.” Shades of Senate Bill 5! Some of the reasoning quoted by the Daily News is significant: ““I think we need to have a discussion around the best solution to make sure this can never happen again,” said Antani [State Rep. Niraj Antani, R-Miamisburg], who worked to bring the parties to the table on the eve of the strike. “Just like police and fire, the RTA is an essential service for these people trying to get to work and provide a livelihood to their families.”” “The memo from Henne illustrates the impact of strikes not only on riders, but “businesses and the local economy by preventing employees from getting to work and consumers from reaching their destinations.” “With police and fire, we do not allow them to strike and we require them to go to binding arbitration because they provide a service that cannot be interrupted,” Henne said in an interview. “My contention is the regional transit authorities have an economic value to the community that should not be interrupted.”” According to the database of Yost’s recent report, the city of Dayton is akin to Licking County – all green with one cautionary yellow. But Montgomery County, location of the RTA, is not, having three yellows, the rest green. Is public transportation “essential service”, vital to “businesses and the local economy” by getting employees to work and consumers to their destinations – “a service that cannot be interrupted”? If so, what does Commissioner Bubb base his refusal of Public Transportation priority on? Analysis finds that facts within context would indicate that Newark’s financial stress would be greatly relieved if the County Commissioners, who meet (and sit) in the county seat, would substantially invest in expanded and fixed schedule public transportation “an essential service for these people trying to get to work and provide a livelihood to their families.” Alternative facts indeed!

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