Archive for November, 2018

Will The Real Governing Body Of People Please Stand Up

November 29, 2018

Stand your ground, heartbeat bill, pastor protection, embryonic personhood, every new born shall possess a gun, if they cannot afford it, one will be provided for them…Just some of the endless priorities for legislation once electioneering days have passed. In the Ohio state house currently is House Bill 625 which “prevent[s] cities from passing taxes or bans on plastic bags and other disposable containers.” (Ohio House votes to block local bans, fees on plastic bags by Jeremy Pelzer, cleveland.com, 11-28-18) “Several business groups have supported the bill, including the Ohio Council of Retail Merchants, the Ohio Grocers Association, and the Ohio Manufacturers’ Association.” “The bill’s other co-sponsor, state Rep. George Lang of Butler County, echoed that [State Rep Scott Lipps’] sentiment. “The market can regulate itself – it doesn’t need the government to get involved in every aspect of what they do,” he said.” Licking County recently experienced ditto above with Kent Mallet reporting: Public opposition derails proposal for Licking County contractor registration (The Advocate 11-27-18). “The proposal, the result of a contractor registration review committee meeting monthly since March, would have required contractors to register with the Licking County Building Code Department prior to starting work. The registration would have been required for general, HVAC, fire protection, electrical, refrigeration and hydronics contractors. The fee was set at $100 annually for each contractor, with a $300 fine for failure to comply.” “The resolution, however, was on the commissioners’ Tuesday agenda with 24 others. The commissioners usually vote to approve all the day’s resolutions in one vote, but occasionally remove a resolution before approving the rest. McKean Township Trustee Dannette McInturff said, “They completely ignored the governing body of the people they’re trying to regulate. It is a shame the way it had to be brought to light. If not, it would have passed today. It is on the agenda for today.” For anyone confused the ”contract registration review committee” is comprised of the usual suspects, area business people, which likewise comprise McInturff’s “ignored governing body of the people.” Likewise this was never broached during the midterm’s contested commissioner race. “And, some said the issue should have been debated before the recent re-election of Commissioner Rick Black. Hanover Township Trustee Heath Smith told Black, “You get re-elected and two weeks later you’re trying to push this under the table. I think that’s kind of shoddy there.”” What if the “governing body of the people” takes the lead? Turns out there’s an app for that too. Ohio lawmakers seek to make it harder for voters to change state constitution (Jeremy Pelzer, cleveland.com, 11-28-18). “House Joint Resolution 19 comes after Ohio legislative leaders lamented what they said was a “cottage industry” set up to put frivolous amendments on the statewide ballot. Under the resolution, 60 percent of Ohio voters would have to approve a proposed constitutional amendment for it to pass. Currently, any proposed constitutional amendment — including HJR 19 itself — needs a simple majority of “yes” votes to take effect. It would also move up the deadline to submit the hundreds of thousands of petition signatures needed to put a proposed amendment on the ballot. That deadline is now in early July; the resolution would move it to April 1. In addition, each petition signature would only be valid for 180 days. Right now, there’s no expiration date for signatures. HJR 19 would also change the way Ohioans can force the state legislature to pass a law. Right now, a group can force lawmakers to take action on a proposal if it gathers a number of petition signatures equal to 3 percent of the number of voters in the last gubernatorial election (that number is 129,553, based on this year’s gubernatorial vote). If lawmakers don’t pass the measure within four months, proponents can gather signatures from another 3 percent of voters to put the proposal on the statewide ballot. Under the resolution, the initial signature requirement would be raised to 5 percent of the last gubernatorial vote. But if lawmakers don’t pass the measure within four months, it would go directly to the statewide ballot without needing any additional signatures. In addition, any law passed in this way couldn’t be altered or repealed by lawmakers for one year after its passage, under the resolution.” Paper or plastic? Another instance of something completely not on the horizon pre midterm election but now in play would be: Cleveland aims to provide free legal representation for tenants in eviction cases (Leila Atassi, cleveland.com, 11-28-18). It would be modeled after an NYC program that provides attorneys for those who face eviction. The current ratio of attorneys in eviction cases representing landlords/tenants is 90% of landlords and less that 10% of tenants. ““If someone is facing a life-altering proceeding, there is no justice if one side has an attorney and the other side does not,” [Right-To-Counsel Mark] Levine said. “… We should all be outraged by that. The landlords have built a business model that uses housing court as a weapon, knowing that it’s not going to be a fair fight.” In 2017, however, after three years of demonstrations, news conferences and petitions to Mayor Bill de Blasio, New York passed legislation providing legal representation in eviction cases to all defendants whose income is 200 percent of the federal poverty level or below. Since then, the city has seen a 24 percent reduction in evictions, with fewer cases filed overall. And 84 percent of tenants with representation are staying in their homes, Levine said.” Cleveland is considering this as the cost of the program is more than offset by the savings to “the cost of sheltering families, providing social services, and educating transient youth.” Paper or plastic? Home rule for cities with initiatives like this are once again vulnerable to being shot down by a state legislature with an enormous track record of doing just that, for “the governing body of the people”. “State Rep. Stephanie Howse, a Cleveland Democrat, said businesses also have a responsibility to work to better the communities they’re located in. She also suggested that House Republicans were hypocritical when it comes to how much power local governments should have. “It’s amazing how this body selectively makes decisions on when we want to have local control versus when we don’t,” she said.” (Pelzer, Ohio House votes to block…) In Ohio, who is “the governing body of people”?

Limited Horizon (Not A Cell Phone Provider)

November 18, 2018

Driving south on 33 in Hocking County, a bit before Athens County (the gateway to West Virginia), a traveler will pass without noticing a turnoff marked “Haydenville.” Woebegone it is not though it belongs with the family of “towns that time forgot.” Lining the main road through town (as well as the side streets) are what were originally identical houses, varying only in that certain stretches are of a markedly different model. The houses are all of ceramic block. There is even a church made of block as well as the post office. Haydenville was a company town for the laborers of the primary employer, the ceramic block factory. With the demise of ceramic products in the wake of plastic, the former manufacturing site has been replaced by a pallet factory. Both rely on an assumed abundance of area resource – first clay and coal, now timber. The housing is all that remains of what fueled the past. The area reveals a preponderance of ceramic block structures – barns, commercial buildings and residential housing. As one travels north their numbers diminish. Few are found around Newark though Hanover maintains an active brick works. Vestiges of a company town are not as overwhelmingly evident there unless one looks beneath the surface. At one time Granville was a mixed bag sort of company town. There was no one company but the laborers of the various enterprises resided there, in town. 50 years ago it began its current evolution of gentrification, outside investment, becoming a bedroom community for commuters to jobs located elsewhere. Conversely, most laborers for Granville’s employers commute from without. One of Granville’s largest employers (if not the largest), as well as land owner, is Denison University. In its autopoietic commitment of community leadership, Denison University is exploring partnering with a commercial developer to provide housing for its laborers, er, employees. What goes around, comes around. Company town ecology is difficult and complex. The benefits of affordable housing are offset by the inevitable company store aesthetic/ethic, mentality and doing. It may not be a choice of what form the pay takes or where the pay is spent, but it certainly influences the choice of employment, duration, wages and working conditions. The defunct liberal approach, long since upgraded to neo liberal, was that affordable housing is a ward of the state (federal, state, municipal). The chances for a snow ball in hell are better than affordable housing being the responsibility of the state in Licking County. The recent midterm elections verified that overwhelmingly. Ever open to compromise, the neo liberal approach embraces public private partnerships. Once again we’re back to betting on snowballs as in Licking County, and Ohio overall, those are reserved for subsidizing profit making enterprises. Which only leaves what Denison is exploring – private partnerships. But where else could today’s vast sums of cash for housing investment come from? Which begs the company town question. What if Walmart ventures into creating affordable housing for its employees? After all, they are Ohio’s largest employer. Or Amazon?  Or Licking Memorial Hospital? Analysis finds the realpolitik of affordable housing today follows the money. The recent episode with Newark’s Gardens On Sixth transitional affordable housing indicates some of the oppressive preconditions involved with private partnership funding of affordable housing. Haydenville celebrates (if you want to call it that) the effectiveness of big money’s involvement in providing a reliable labor force. It is difficult to deny the presence of affordable housing, water and sanitation for those who got up every morning to labor for the landlord. Of course, a company town is usually accompanied by a company store, a company utility plant, and maybe even a company golf course. The limited horizon always remains unchanging. Business thrives on reliability, eschews uncertainty.

Alternate Appearance

November 15, 2018

November 14, 2018 found the Newark Advocate’s Kent Mallet headlining For Licking County Democrats, does ‘D’ stand for doomed? It was a synopsis, of sorts, of local voting history within Licking County in the past 20 years spurred by the turnout and polling from the midterm election of 10 days prior. ““A Democrat in Licking County is going to pull 35 to 36 percent, no matter if you do anything or not,” [Mark] Van Buren said. “Licking County has grown more conservative over the years.”” The Advocate’s reported results of the recent election bear this out. “For Licking County candidates with a ‘D’ beside their name, the letter may as well stand for doomed, because the party affiliation has meant defeat in every countywide partisan election since 2004.” Unreported by any news outlets was the curious discovery, outside polling places, of abandoned clothing and what appeared to be disguises (hats, mustaches, wigs, etc.). Their appearance may have been castoff costumes from the recent Halloween (just 4 days prior to voting), or perhaps donations left for church clothing drives. No one can say for sure. Along with Mallet, Saagar Enjeti of The Daily Caller headlined RECAP: President Trump’s Interview With The Daily Caller, also on 11-14-18. “President Donald Trump sat down for a wide-ranging interview Wednesday with The Daily Caller to cover the immediate policy future of his tenure since the end of the midterms. Major topics included the professional fates of DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and CNN reporter Jim Acosta, the Florida recounts, Amazon and the violent Antifa group.” On the outcome of the election: ““I think I did very well” “I mean, the truth is, every place I went, we either won or did well or did really well,” he said. “You take a look at the races I was involved in, I had a massive impact.”” Along with Florida and our democracy’s election process, Enjeti reports Dear Leader had this to say: ““The Republicans don’t win and that’s because of potentially illegal votes, which is what I’ve been saying for a long time,” adding, “I’ve had friends talk about it when people get in line that have absolutely no right to vote and they go around in circles. Sometimes they go to their car, put on a different hat, put on a different shirt, come in and vote again.”” Mystery of the cast off clothing found at Licking County polling sites solved. Analysis finds, based on information known only to the POTUS thanks to the astute alertness of his many friends, that The Advocate has grossly inflated the ‘D’ in Licking County. Alternatively, it appears that Dear Leader has more friends in Licking County than The Advocate is willing to admit.

Matters Of The Streets And Social Media

November 9, 2018

The impromptu late night demonstration outside the Washington DC home of Fox News’ Tucker Carlson was all over the media map this week (commentary as well as reporting). The event itself, as well as any media coverage (commentary or reporting), embodies the current socio-economic condition of American culture (political, economic and social). Some reporting of this particular event placed it in line with other such spontaneous “restaurant” protests (where various political leaders have been held to account while sitting down to enjoy a meal. Foodies will claim that everyone is entitled to enjoy a good meal). Analysis finds two of the many reports or commentaries available to further underscore American culture: Protesters Target Home Of Fox News Tucker Carlson by Ashraf Khalil for AP and Anti-Fascist Protesters Target Fox News’ Tucker Carlson At His Home by Antonia Blumberg appearing in the Huffington Post. Both are from the same date, 11-8-18. The contemporary “online” account of the Huffington Post favors the personal, social media oriented emphasis – “Police responded Wednesday night when anti-fascist activists showed up at the Washington, D.C., home of Tucker Carlson and began banging on the door and shouting threats like, “We know where you sleep at night.” The Fox News host wasn’t home and neither were any of his four children. But his wife was there and quickly locked herself in the pantry and called 911.” “Carlson has drawn criticism for his rhetoric on immigration, for routinely promoting vitriol toward Democrats, for defending nationalism and more. The host is well aware of the animosity of his critics. He recently complained he can’t eat at most D.C. restaurants because people frequently yell insults at him. “I don’t feel threatened, but having someone scream ‘Fuck you!’ at a restaurant, it just wrecks your meal,” he said on a National Review podcast.” and various online, social media only related responses and activities. The traditional AP account stressed what used to be referred to as an objective and factual event – “Washington’s Metropolitan Police Department reported that officers were summoned to Carlson’s home Wednesday evening and found about 20 protesters and a commonly used anarchy symbol spray-painted on the driveway. A brief video posted on social media by a group calling itself “Smash Racism DC” shows people standing outside a darkened home and chanting, “Tucker Carlson, we will fight. We know where you sleep at night.” [which rhymes]” “The Metropolitan Police said in a statement that they welcome and support all expressions of free speech and First Amendment rights but that “defacing private property” is an obvious violation.” as well as responses by various named individuals. Both reports gave the official Fox News statement. The difference in the two accounts highlights the distinction between “the streets” and online social media as contested places for the exercise of democracy, freedom and the exchange of ideas. We are all familiar with the POTUS dominant reliance of social media to intimidate, and its outcome. “The streets” have always been an open though un-secured environment (“They were threatening my family to get me to stop talking.” Carlson who “called in to talk with substitute host Brian Kilmeade.” and capitalize on the event). Which leaves the unanswered question – which is more civil, “the streets” or social media? Analysis uncovers the unspoken but even more pressing concern of civil discourse within the framework of public private partnerships. Given that Fox News is a de facto privatized ministry of information for the current administration (indeed many of the people working for the administration are from Fox, and vice versa), how can such an institution be politically confronted and held accountable within a civil landscape that gives legal precedence to the private (“”defacing private property” is an obvious violation.”). In Newark, how would, rather, how could one politically dissent or hold to account the policies of Grow Licking County? Demonstrations in front of the Licking Chamber of Commerce headquarters would be disparaged as a replication of the Carlson encounter. Ditto for any civil acts of protest towards policies or actions taken at the Canal Market, the Ice Rink, LC Transit or even JobsOhio. Analysis finds the split between “the streets” and social media to underscore the androgynous nature of public private institutions where accountability is forever deferred. Who benefits from the vast financial influx of tax payer funds? Who is ultimately responsible for the failed  transportation network in Newark? Are these matters of “the streets” or of social media?

Voter Suppression – A Transparently Slippery Slope

November 6, 2018

Tuesday November 6, Voting day 2018. Judge Rules Against Georgia Election Law, Calling It A ‘Severe Burden’ For Voters (Shannon Van Sant for NPR, 11-3-18). Gasp! A ‘Severe Burden’ to vote? “In a 2013 ruling, Shelby County v. Holder, the Supreme Court struck down a key provision of the Voting Rights Act, which stipulated that states like Georgia, with a history of racial discrimination, had to get changes to voting measures approved in advance by the federal government.” There’s those ‘activist judges’ making law again. The results? “In Iowa, the Republican secretary of state is phasing in a new voter ID law, and in Dodge City, Kan., a federal judge has denied a request to reopen the city’s longtime polling site in the city. The location of the new polling site is outside the city limits, and more than a mile away from the nearest bus stop, making travel there difficult for some potential voters.” Another good reason to get out of Dodge? Brilliant. Newark hasn’t had any reliable bus service since the last century. Butt weight, there’s more. “The debate over voter suppression in the midterm elections extends to multiple states. In North Dakota the Republican-controlled government has implemented a controversial new law requiring residents to show identification with a current street address. But as Ruben Kimmelman reported for NPR, “Many residents of Native American reservations — who tend to vote for Democrats — do not have street addresses. They have Post Office box numbers, and those don’t qualify.”” Well, ya can’t live in a post office box, or on multiple friend and family couches, or tent under a bridge or in a public park. Obviously makes everything peachy keen as in Georgia: “The “exact match” law flags voter registrations that have discrepancies with other official identification documents used by the state. Mismatches can occur under the law for such reasons as missing hyphens, accent marks and middle initials. Those who are flagged can still vote if they settle the discrepancy by providing proof of identity.” One X, or two? Well, at least we don’t have such pedantry in Ohio. Here, a registered voter just needs to get to a polling place. And, as we all know, everyone drives so everyone has a photo ID to show the poll worker who asks a few questions from off of the photo ID, like “Is that you?” “What is your home address?” “What is your middle name?” “What is your date of birth?” “How do you pronounce your name?” “Please sign the screen…” Of course the screen is on the surface of a folding table and the cursor doesn’t work if it touches the screen (so no pen to paper technique allowed) and the registered voter is bent over at the waist (you’ve been to the Y and done your regular bendy stretchies, haven’t you?), trying to write their “official” signature in mid air, a fraction of an inch in front of the screen (no touching, no leaning on the table to steady your hand). That virtual signature is then “exact matched” to the one done with pen and paper from GOK when you registered to vote (Gawd Only Knows). What could be simpler? Analysis finds that time does strange things to a registered voter’s physiology. Today Phil Mickelson is known more for his psoriatic arthritis than his game. Whose handwriting, let alone signature, hasn’t “evolved” after a lifetime of signing odious checks and mundane documents (in duplicate!)? Analysis finds contemporary voter suppression to be a transparently slippery slope, from virtually inaccessible polling places to hand waving signatures in front of a screen.