Archive for December, 2017

What Is A Symbol Worth?

December 18, 2017

No, not what is its symbolic worth, but what is it worth to keep around, to have and to hold? What is the value of the Liberty Bell, the Statue of Liberty, the White House, etc. ? The USS Constitution, is it a symbol or a naval vessel? The Navy just spent part of its military budget to refurbish Old Iron Sides, which it still considers as a commissioned naval vessel. Its value as a warship is dubious, as a symbol, priceless. At its 12-18-17 meeting Newark City Council was confronted with this very question, and missed the opportunity to answer it. Curiously, the public comment on the value of the Gazebo was heard only as cost by the council members present. WIKI gives “In mythology, folklore and speculative fiction, shapeshifting is the ability of a being or creature to completely transform its physical form or shape. This is usually achieved through an inherent ability of a mythological creature, divine intervention, or the use of magic.” This would be an apt description of the Marvel Comics’ character of those elected, seated and charged with doing the public’s bidding. In his State of the City address, Mayor Hall touted “due diligence and open dialog” in helping to create the “improved destination” of downtown Newark, thanks in large part to all the business driving these improvements. He was long on praise for the purchase of the Cherry Valley Lodge but lost for words on the Basket Building debacle. It is reassuring to note that Newark is “poised to have another great year in 2018 with growth and improvement.” Several public comments inquired as to where the funding came for the late night massacre of the Gazebo, and what drove the decision. The halls of City Hall reverberated with innuendo regarding Hall’s move, saying the prime contractor for the courthouse renovation had “gifted” the labor, logistics and storage, eventually to be reimbursed with its reconstruction on the East Main Street site. The back story to this was all the closed door, county shapeshifter meetings held within the county annex years ago that awarded the courthouse renovation bid without regard of Ohio’s sunshine laws or competitive bidding. Other myths embraced by the city council shapeshifters were ones promoted by council person Lang regarding who he represents and why he should bother to value some community symbol. His reasoning was that his constituents don’t care. “What’s a gazebo?” he was told by one constituent, “I never go downtown” to the “improved destination.” This is the same myth that promotes publicly funded sports stadiums and convention centers as being of vital interest to the citizens of a community while appealing for those outside the community to partake and journey to the “improved destination” (and don’t forget to bring the plastic). This was another touted myth: “Have to work with private businesses” said the departing Carol Floyd. It seems the emphasis on the importance of business paying for it all (as well as benefitting from it all) by the cost conscious shapeshifters didn’t jibe with the public commenters impassioned pleas for the return of the gazebo. Stuart’s Opera House in Nelsonville just held a grand (re)opening. The back story is that years ago Stuart’s faced what Mayor Hall describes as “urban rehab” (demolition). Community funds were raised to restore it (and that included much more than the immediate constituency of the City of Nelsonville proper, Council Shapeshifter Lang). Shortly before its opening a fire destroyed the newly refurbished Opera House. Again the community raised funds to rebuild what was destroyed and eventually opened historic Nelsonville’s downtown symbol. Now another fire next door in 2015 almost reached the theater. Again the community was asked for funding to renovate and expand Stuart’s to its original. 12-7-17’s “The Next Stage Curtain Call Grand Opening” includes a new 4,000+ square foot lobby, and an Education and Community Center (The Athens News 12-4 and 12-7-17). Unsubstantiated is the claim that over $4 mil in funding was provided by the Nelsonville community to vitalize this symbol.  Analysis finds that to be the real sadness of the 12-18-17 Newark City Council meeting. The public commenters were saying “Why don’t you include us instead of pushing us out of downtown gentrification?” The shapeshifting council members were hearing “What will it cost in budgeted dollars and cents?” Even “open dialog” proponent, Jeremy Blake, used this as a reason for not offering an amendment (“the numbers just aren’t there”). Analysis finds the real pain to be that both sides are united in overwhelming agreement that the Gazebo most certainly is a symbol. Jefferson Davis monuments disappear because they are deemed divisive. We are unified by the Liberty Bell, the Statue of Liberty, the USS Constitution, Stuart’s Opera House and the Newark Gazebo. What is a symbol worth?

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Right

December 12, 2017

Computer dictionary gives: “a moral or legal entitlement to have or obtain something or to act in a certain way”. WIKI, from Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, elaborates: “Rights are legal, social, or ethical principles of freedom or entitlement; that is, rights are the fundamental normative rules about what is allowed of people or owed to people, according to some legal system, social convention, or ethical theory.” In a 12-11-17 Washington Post Op Ed piece, Emily Miller (deputy press secretary at W’s State Department) writes about the current proposed federal Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act. Notable: “Donald Trump is the first president who has a concealed carry permit. Trump is one of more than 16 million Americans with a concealed carry permit legally exercising the Second Amendment right to bear arms. Now that Trump is president, gun owners are pushing for legislation to make it federal law that a permit to carry a gun be valid when crossing state lines, just like a driver’s license.” Analysis finds the correlation to “driver’s license” to be abhorrent to the notion of “Right”, something near and dear to 2nd Amendment aficionados. Further on she drills deeper with: “The Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act allows a qualified individual to carry a concealed handgun in any other state. The bill says the person must be eligible to possess a gun under federal law, meaning that he or she is not a felon, dangerously mentally ill, a domestic abuser or any of the other disqualifying factors for having a gun. The bill specifies that a person carrying a concealed gun must have valid photo identification on hand. Also, the person has to have either a valid concealed carry permit or be eligible to carry concealed in his or her state of residence if the state has “constitutional carry” (which means it doesn’t require permits for law-abiding citizens).” Analysis finds this to be a “Right” that is qualified with layers of who has the right and who doesn’t (If sexual harassment were considered as domestic abuse, the apprentice president’s CC permit would be in jeopardy!). This is something 2nd Amendment followers have vehemently denied as part of their “right to bear arms” without qualifications, in the same vein as the right to practice religious belief, the right to speak freely, the right of the press, etc. (see dictionary and WIKI above). After this she writes: “A key addition to this bill from previous versions is that if the gun carrier is arrested and charged for carrying in another state, but then found innocent because of this law, the state pays the defendant’s legal fees and the defendant has the right to bring a civil action for damages.” Analysis finds this very curious (and disingenuous to say the least). The mindful reader will immediately recognize this provision as the one that Big Pharma’s Dale Butland (the opposition spokesperson) used extensively to denigrate Issue 2 in Ohio’s 2016 election (you know, the drug price control thing). Now it is OK with regard to concealed carry across state lines. Analysis likewise notes the distinction, in regards to Right, of the “concealed carry permit” legitimization of some states within the US, and the “constitutional carry” of other states, which doesn’t require a permit. In an interview with Columbus Police Chief Kim Jacobs (Columbus Police Chief: ‘Our Resources Are Being Taxed’, 12-11-17) Adora Namigadde for WOSU records the Chief as saying: ““Our resources are being taxed. Our overtime is significant at this point because of the increases. And our garage was full over the weekend, Saturday night, with cruisers that are arresting people,” Jacobs said. “It’s not that we don’t arrest people. We arrest people all the time, many times for violent crime and carrying guns.”” Analysis clearly points out that the Chief is charged to consider “carrying guns” in a much different manner than 2nd Amendment Right stumpers, or the proposed Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act. “Well, this is an approach to the second amendment “Right” as an entitlement, a privilege that can be lost if not meeting certain qualifications, mumble, mumble, etc. (with lots of hand waving)” say the stumpers. Not like the “right to remain silent” Analysis concludes, but a qualified privilege and entitlement. More like a driver’s license with photo ID, or state authorized photo ID to exercise the right to vote, or an official party in power imprimatur as to what is considered as news (and what is discredited as fake). Analysis notices a drift in the definition and application of “Right” from something inherent, unearned and undeniable to something which is a purchased entitlement, maintained through privilege and status. That’s not right.

The Creep

December 7, 2017

Ever notice how stereotypes never really go away? Of course you don’t. That’s because the messenger is usually forgotten once we’ve heard the message. This association of the the stereotype with the message, the ideology or behavior generally takes for granted that the messenger will be unemployed, once the message is dealt with, thus having no more to contribute to the discussion. But stereotypes are enterprising entrepreneurs who don’t care to find themselves in the ranks of the unemployed. They migrate and switch sides. Sometimes hopping back and forth like mercenaries shifting allegiances for whoever pays the most. Case in point would be the police in America. Seems like forever that they have been trying to shed the 1930’s strike buster stereotype with its black leather boots, belts and cudgels. That “stereotype” also concurrently played out across the Atlantic, much to the chagrin of the FOP. So the stereotype hops from shielded black clad riot police to shielded black clad neo-Nazi’s in Charlottesville, indifferent as to the right and wrong of where it appears (It doesn’t help that the rural Bundy crowd dresses in the same camo that the urban SWAT team wears. Or is it urban SWAT teams wear the same camo as the rural Bundy crowd? Fashion statement? Doubtful, not much greenery in the urban setting). The 1950’s stereotype of the nuclear scientist who holds the future in his hands has re-emerged as the 21st century’s corporate government economist. The racial stereotype that cost Emmett Till his life has switched sides to become the contrived image of racial integration and harmony found promoting a lot of consumer products. “Silent march in Poland honors man who set himself on fire” by the AP, 11-6-17, reported “Hundreds of people marched in silence Monday to honor a man who set himself on fire to protest policies by Poland’s ruling party that he said are destroying the rule of law and democracy in the country.” Significant was “Many of the marchers dressed in black and carried signs around their necks that said “I, an ordinary gray man.”” Not too many stereotypes for ordinary middle gray around today. Why’s that? It is important to dress the part to enact the role, part of what makes the stereotype such an effective (and unnoticeable) messenger. Remember Fidel Castro? Who could forget the cigar and the military green fatigues that he always wore, and that his brother inherited. Talk about militancy! That look was picked up by countless tinhorn dictators in how many revolutions – from Idi Amin to Hugo Chavez. Even today we find demagogues appearing on stage wearing military fatigue green, and not because it’s cold, but in order to turn up the heat. Stereotypes, they slowly creep in where you’d least expect them.

Steve Bannon

Peter Lives In Newark

December 3, 2017

With the previous post (11-25-17 It May Not Be Racial, But It Is Very Real) Analysis continued the relationship of homeownership and politics in Newark with a look at the material effects of redlining, steering and reverse redlining in the area. This was primarily a historic reckoning with comparison to like events in other communities. Headlining “Licking County 911 Center moving to Heath” The Advocate’s Kent Mallett (11-28-17) gives a current materialization of these trends in policy today. “The Licking County Commissioners and the Heath-Newark-Licking County Port Authority reached agreement on a 10-year lease for use of an 8,500 square foot facility north of the Horton Building.” “The agreement allows the 911 Center to vacate a 25-year-old building that has been settling for years and has structural problems, at 119 East Main St. The 911 Center and Licking County Sheriff’s Office dispatching merged into the new center in 2014. The Ohio Facilities Construction Commission shared concerns about the East Main Street building’s structure with the commissioners in July, citing a report recommending the building be abandoned and demolished due to the probability of excessive settlement, a sudden and abrupt drop and the possibility of a sinkhole.” “Rob Terrill, the 911 Center coordinator, said the new center will allow for 20 dispatch work stations, instead of the current 14. The Emergency Operations Center, now in the basement of the Licking County Sheriff’s Office, will also move into the Heath building.” “”I think we’re saving the taxpayers money by not going to an interim site and then a permanent site,” Commissioner Tim Bubb said. “One move is better than two. We’ve got enough time to do it right the first time. We found a long-term home for the 911 Center that makes sense. This is a very good solution.”” Is it? What is being solved? Analysis reveals more questions than answers, problems than solutions. None of which are being asked (or answered) by Mallett, community “leaders”, or members of Newark’s city council (more interested in raising their standard of pay than the standard of living in their community). There aren’t any vacant 8,500 square foot buildings within Newark City Limits? Another abandoned building/vacant lot to be found on East Main Street? And what of the loss of related city commerce and income tax revenue from the jobs not only moved from the current site, plus the ones from the Emergency Operations Center, but also the added new positions and related business? “”It is a place, even though not an Air Force base, the presence there is very security-minded,” Platt said. “We’ve had a 55-year history of a national security workload. This is a natural fit to continue that legacy. I’m confident our tenants will welcome having them on campus.”” Even though Newark’s champion and number one salesman and promoter justified the late night gazebo demolition with a rational of “Security concerns, Hall said, played into the decision to avoid having people sitting at tables, with backpacks, near the government building.” (Advocate 10-6-17), his silence was deafening when it came to the move of the 911 Center out of Newark and west to Heath. Where were the dump trucks filled with sand during the recent court house lighting that attracted huge crowds on the open streets of Newark’s courthouse square? Do terrorists take a break during the holiday season? Do “security concerns” only arise when there is profit to be made? No, this call center move was just another materialization in the continuing history of redlining and steering in Newark. Mallett et al fail to ask “Who sold them on this move?” As well as “Who benefitted from this long term lease agreement?” After all, Bubb and company all are members of the Port Authority (a public/private partnership). According to past Advocate reports, this is where the hottest commercial real estate is to be had. Why does a tax payer government office need to be located in the high rent district, the area’s version of Trump Tower? Analysis finds it to be a matter of religious belief, a cliché of robbing Peter to pay Paul (see this blog 10-18-17, Steve Bannon Declares Jihad On Infidels). Only in this case Peter lives in Newark, and Paul is anywhere but Newark.