What Is A Symbol Worth?

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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