Archive for November, 2019

Act Like An Owner

November 28, 2019

Pulitzer Prize winning author and investigative reporter David Cay Johnston ended a conversation with Chauncey DeVega (11-27-19) by saying:

“Nov. 3 is coming. We have the power, it’s our country, we own it. We own our government. We should act like owners. What we’re seeing in Donald Trump, who is just the symptom of deeper problems, is the wages of 40 years of people renting out their interest in the government, saying, “Let somebody else take care of it. We’re going to behave like renters.” We can’t do that if we want to be a free people. The American people must be civically engaged. Having to go vote and volunteer some time is nothing compared to all of those gravesites in the Philippines, in France and in Germany, of American soldiers who died for this country. All those Americans in the Union who died in the Civil War. To not be a citizen is to disrespect what they gave up their lives for. We need to take the responsibility of being a citizen seriously. Not just talk. Not just griping on the internet. Act like an owner. It’s important.”

Analysis finds this statement to contribute a partial accounting for the dismal results of the recent Newark Ohio city wide election; dismal, not in the sense of outcome but for the historic low voter turnout, in an election determining three at large city council representatives as well as the mayor‘s office. “Voter participation in the Newark mayoral race fell to the lowest level in a quarter century, with fewer than 10,000 votes cast for the first time since at least 1991. Mayor Jeff Hall, a Republican, won a third term with fewer than 5,000 votes in a growing city of 50,000 residents and 30,000 registered voters. Voter turnout in the city dropped to 27.6%, down from 36% in 2015, and 43% in 2011. Turnout in mayoral election years varied from 41% to 48% from 1995 through 2011. In 1995, when the city had 6,000 fewer residents, 12,300 voted, or 48%. This year, only 8,403 voted for mayor.” (Kent Mallet, The Advocate, Voter turnout in Newark hits quarter century low in mayoral elections,11-24-19). Analysis doesn’t know where to begin. For all the rhetoric and reassurance by the Democratic candidates of engaging the community and being out in the neighborhoods the fact remained that they just couldn’t get people to come out and vote. This resonates ominously on a state wide as well as a national election level. What good is all the talk of “electability,” bemoaning gerrymandering and vote suppression when you can’t deliver existing registered voters to the polls, not to even entertain the vote itself? Perhaps the emphasis and focus is awry. It is common knowledge, reinforced by US Census data, that almost exactly half of Newark residential housing is non-owner occupant. By correlation one could legitimately surmise that half the registered voters are renters. Maybe the actual and real challenge coming up in 2020 is overcoming the “Let somebody else take care of it. We’re going to behave like renters.” disposition prevalent in America today (and ever growing). With an incumbent who spends lifetime’s of presidential salaries on golf and potential Democratic Party candidates vying for the nomination to oppose him including multiple billionaires, no wonder the American electorate feels inclined to “Let somebody else take care of it. We’re going to behave like renters.” It appears to be no more than a replacement of one landlord for another. Few non-GOP politicians are cultivating the message that “it’s our country, we own it. We own our government. We should act like owners.”. Rather it’s “if we win, we can stop being renters.” Really (and if we lose?)? “We need to take back our country.” Like it wasn’t always ours? And even varying articulations of “negotiating a better deal.” Sounds a lot like renewing a rental agreement to begin with! Analysis finds it to be no coincidence that the Democrat party’s challenge in 2020 is one of displacing an actual and for real landlord. But then what? The real challenge remains one of “We need to take the responsibility of being a citizen seriously. Not just talk. Not just griping on the internet. Act like an owner.”

Under The Law Updated

November 24, 2019

Gasp! Looks like Newark Development Partners didn’t bother to wait for a determination on the legality of the state owning property to get into the ownership business under the law (the capitalist religion imperative of “money making money”). The Newark Advocate’s editor Benjamin Lanka and veteran reporter Kent Mallett teamed up to headline Historic Downtown Newark Arcade Sold, Renovations Planned (11-23-19). “The Newark Development Partners Community Improvement Corporation on Saturday announced the purchase of the Arcade. The purchase includes all real estate located at 15 Arcade Place, including the entrances facing North Third and North Fourth streets, commercial property extending east and west between the entrances, approximately 22 commercial spaces inside the arcade and the potential for 15 to 20 residential units above the area.” Will the Newark community be improved? Well, that rests on the shoulders of Spencer Barker who markets community and real estate for Newark Development Partners. Analysis shows it to be no coincidence that, out of all the available candidates to replace Mark Fraizer on Newark City Council, Jeff Hall and the others on the GOP’s central committee chose Spencer Barker. Butt weight, there’s more! America is unique among most of the world’s democracies. It’s chief executive is not only the nation’s figurehead (President) but also chief policy maker/executive (Prime Minister). It is not always so with America’s cities. Often there is a figurehead mayor and a city manager to implement policy. But these are the days of overt, “official” US State Department policy and covert, “shadow” US State Department operations. Analysis finds ditto happening in Newark. ““The Arcade area is a crucial part of the downtown district. It holds special value in our community’s heritage, and it has tremendous potential as the next step in the ongoing revitalization of downtown Newark,” said NDP [Newark Development Partners] Chairman Dan DeLawder in a statement. “We have a responsibility to be good stewards of this historical property and look forward to it becoming, once again, a unique jewel in our city.”” While Newark’s shadow Prime Minister is touting that the Arcade purchase “has tremendous potential as the next step in the ongoing revitalization of downtown Newark,” the figurehead Mayor will continue to say ““I’d like to have a busing service, a fixed-route busing service. Can’t afford it. There are things you can’t afford. You reach a balanced budget by saying no to things.”” (Mallett, The Advocate, 10-20-19). Both will claim that the purchase and development, using public funds through a “Public/Private Partnership”, falls under the law. The capitalist religion law of “money making money”, that is. As cleveland.com’s Andrew J. Tobias put it “Any profit [from NDP’s ownership of the Arcade] could be plowed back into the organization to be given to other companies.” (11-21-19). The business of business is to follow the law of “money making money.” To do otherwise would be a crime. When it comes to community needs, like bus service, low barrier (even no barrier) shelters, community rec centers, or street paving, more first responders, etc., it will always be the mayor saying “Can’t afford it. There are things you can’t afford.”

This is all so sad that Analysis finds it calls for some comic relief. Politico’s Edward McClelland headlines How Reagan’s Childhood Home Gave Up On Reaganism (11-23-19). “In 2002, Dixon’s [Dixon Illinois] congressman, Dennis Hastert, then the Republican speaker of the House, passed a bill authorizing the National Park Service to buy the property and manage the house, as it does so many other presidential properties. The members of the Reagan home’s board of directors were aging and approached Hastert because they thought the Park Service might be a good candidate to carry on their work. They changed their minds, however, and spurned the help, in part because Congress wouldn’t match the millions of dollars private donors had invested in the property, and in part because that’s not how Reagan would have wanted it. “He didn’t think government needed to be involved in our daily lives,” Connie Lange, the executive director at the time, said of the 40th president. “And people really took that to heart here.”” “A year ago, Patrick Gorman, who became the foundation’s executive director in 2016 [coincidentally the year the home’s sugar daddy, Norm Wymbs, passed away], wrote a letter to the National Park Service, offering, at long last, to sell the home to the federal government. He understood, and sympathized with, the former president’s philosophy. But it had reached the point that clinging to Reagan’s anti-government principles might mean the demise of the most important tourist attraction in Dixon. He and the foundation were not willing to leave the home to the whims of the free market.” “Dixon’s current congressman, Adam Kinzinger, a Republican, “supports the National Park Service purchasing the site,” he said through a spokesperson. This time, the money to honor Reagan will have to come from a Democratic Congress. One factor in the home’s favor, however: The Park Service can name its own price.” “Gorman says he has “mixed emotions” about selling the anti-big government president’s house to the government. (Although maybe he shouldn’t: Despite Reagan’s rhetoric, the Park Service acquired plenty of land when he was president, including an $8 million purchase in the Santa Monica Mountains.)” “A lot of Dixonites have mixed feelings about the potential sale, too. “I don’t have a problem with it, because it’s struggling, and the Park Service can help,” says Marlin Misner, a former foundation board member who wrote a history of the boyhood home. “Whether they will or not, we’ll see. If you want to ruin a project, get the federal government involved.””

 

Under The Law

November 22, 2019

“Downtown is a commercial district. If you put the dollars first in the commercial district, then raise those revenues, create some more jobs, it creates more funds to put in the neighborhoods.” These words appear to express a very noble sentiment, They certainly assert a strategic outlook, one that defers immediate neighborhood aid for the eventual promise of neighborhood benefit to come. But does it serve the community’s interest, help the community’s needs? Analysis finds that, distilled, the strategy is simply a rehash of the fundamental tenet of the capitalist religion that “money makes money” (“If you put the dollars first in the commercial district,… it creates more funds”) The words (and strategy) are those of recently re-elected Newark Mayor Jeff Hall (The Advocate, 10-11-19). Reporting for cleveland.com, Andrew J. Tobias headlined: JobsOhio pushing boundaries by looking to be a part-owner of companies it supports (11-21-19). Analysis finds JobsOhio moving to put into action the Newark Mayor’s capitalist formula for success by “owning stakes of private companies”. “It’s an open question whether the new strategy means JobsOhio is interested in taking a venture capital approach — making a larger volume of risky bets on very young companies, hoping to strike it big if one is successful — or focusing on small, promising companies that are financially stable, but looking to expand. Any profit could be plowed back into the organization to be given to other companies.” “State lawmakers and then-Gov. John Kasich, a Republican, created JobsOhio in 2011 as a private non-profit to functionally replace a state agency that had led Ohio’s economic development efforts for decades. It’s exempt from state public-records laws, but the governor appoints its board members and helps hire its leader. DeWine picked new leaders, but opted to keep it basically intact upon taking office in January. Back when JobsOhio was still getting set up, Kasich considered allowing the organization to take shares of the companies it invested in. He even hired Mark Kvamme, a venture capitalist from California, to run it. Kvamme left the organization after less than two years, and now helps run a venture capital fund in Columbus.” “JobsOhio’s funding comes from the profits it gets running the state’s liquor enterprise, which netted $271 million last year.” “Beyond the political issues, there are also possible legal issues under the Ohio Constitution. There’s a story behind that — local governments and the state between the 1820s and the 1850s lost millions bailing out its bad investments in toll roads, canals and particularly, railroad companies. Citizens, alleging corruption, called for a constitutional convention in 1851. The result severely limits what the state can do when it comes to giving money to private businesses. The constitutional section flatly banning state ownership of private companies was so popular it wasn’t even debated, according to a 1985 article in the Toledo Law Review written by David Gold, a longtime staffer for the Ohio Legislative Service Commission. As one delegate at the 1851 convention put it: “And sir, we ask now, that debt-contracting, loan laws, and money squandering may forever be put an end to-that the whole system maybe dug up by the roots, and no single sprout ever permitted to shoot up again.”” “Still, Maurice Thompson, a conservative Ohio legal activist who was part of the failed lawsuit [2011 challenge to JobsOhio], said a legal challenge is still possible, although it would be hard to find someone with the standing needed to file it. “I think this has been a long time coming, given Gov. Kasich’s initial comments,” Thompson said. “I do think it’s unconstitutional.” “It’s already problematic that JobsOhio can spend hundreds of millions of our dollars with very little transparency or accountability,” said Janetta King, president and CEO of Innovation Ohio, a progressive think-tank in Columbus. “If it is now ignoring prohibitions in the state Constitution that were put there for good reasons, we should all be concerned.”” Is the reader concerned? Which brings us round to Newark and the recent election results. The entitled GOP (of which Newark Mayor Jeff Hall is a Central Committee member) recently appointed Spencer Barker to fill the seat left vacant by Mark Fraizer, who by appointment filled Scott Ryan’s legislative position (who left for the Third Frontier). Analysis finds all these resume’s curiously compatible with the law of “money makes money.” Fraizer is with giant Huntington Bank, while Barker markets community and real estate for Newark Development Partners (like JobsOhio, a public/private partnership) and Shai Commercial Real Estate. Analysis can only conclude that mini-me Grow Licking County (patterned from its inception on JobsOhio) is salivating while waiting breathlessly for JobsOhio’s investment strategy to be put into action. Analysis finds one place where the law (and raison d’etre) of “money makes money” is already in practice. The financial market (Wall Street) makes money by following the law. Analysis can’t readily ascribe any community, per se, benefiting from this practice under the law. Can you?

Free Exercise Of Faith Democracy

November 13, 2019

Newly re-elected Newark City Council Person Mark Fraizer has just been (s)elected to fill Scott Ryan’s Ohio House Representative position by a select elected group of Republican Party Leaders. This, after Scott Ryan conveniently chose to relinquish his position well after the November 4 election. Analysis finds it is all about democracy and choosing a party, not a person, to fill a representative post (City Council or Ohio House). As noted in this blog’s July 7, 2017 posting, Fraizer (who at that time was cohabiting with 7 “children with fur coats”) was successful in bringing the big top down, on insinuations of animal cruelty training. Now he is joining it (the big top, not the training) (well, OK, maybe the training too). Speaking of circuses and Republicans, Laura Hancock for cleveland.com headlines: “Ohio lawmakers clear bill allowing students to turn in inaccurate work in name of religion – second anti-science bill in a week” (11-13-19). “If public school students turn in work saying the earth is only 10,000 years old, they cannot be penalized under Ohio House Bill 164 if it’s their religious beliefs.” “Teachers can only grade on “substance and relevance,” according to an analysis of the bill by the legislature’s nonpartisan staff. House Bill 164 is the second measure lawmakers have advanced that flies in the face of science.” The bill has been sent to the senate according to Hancock. For those of you keeping score at home, the other bill, which has been sent to the house, is Senate Bill 155, “a bill that would require doctors to tell women 24 hours before a medication abortion that there is a procedure that can reverse it. The procedure is widely criticized by the medical community as unethical and lacking sufficient evidence that it works.” Hancock writes: “HB 164, known as the Ohio Student Religious Liberties Act of 2019, also:

Requires public schools to give students the same access to facilities if they want to meet for religious expression as they’d give secular groups.

Removes a provision that allows school districts to limit religious expression to lunch periods or other non-instructional times.

Allows students to engage in religious expression before, during and after school hours to the same extent as a student in secular activities or expression.

Prohibits schools from restricting a student from engaging in religious expression in completion of homework, artwork and other assignments.”

“Aaron Baer, president of the Citizens for Community Values, a Christian conservative organization, said that it will protect students from discrimination. “Speaker of the House Larry Householder is continuing to show his strong leadership and care for Ohio’s children and religious freedom,” he said in a statement. “HB 164 comes at a critical time in the culture and protects the right of Christian and non-Christian students alike to freely exercise their faith.” In the past, newly (s)elected Ohio House Representative Mark Fraizer has vehemently stood up for the rights of his furry friends. Will Mr. Fraizer likewise extend the same passion in fighting for the rights of young Pastafarians to “freely exercise their faith”?

 

Something For Something

November 1, 2019

How many readers have been to Walmart to buy something? It’s a simple operation, all too natural. One picks out the desired something, generic or brand name, goes to the check out, pays for it and walks out. End of conversation. Indeed, it can be done entirely with no conversation whatsoever. Using the self serve to scan the something, insert a plastic something and , Voila! One walks out the door, something in hand. Quid Pro Quo? Has the reader ever thought to call it that? But there was no conversation. According to the SCOTUS there was a conversation, though not a verbal word was spoken at the self serve check out. Money is speech, according to the Citizens United ruling. The plastic said “this for that” and the Walmart automated check out said “This for that, indeed!” Deed done. Who’d a thunk it? Like the caterpillar who couldn’t move when he was asked how he does it, it’s all so natural that it doesn’t cause any hang ups until attention is paid to the act itself. No quid pro quo in the exchange of money for service? No conversation if it is money that is being exchanged? ““Our intention is to make this a hotel and we’ve just got to make the numbers work,” he [Steve Coon with Coon Restorations] said. “It’s a heavy lift, but it’s a great project to spend the time on to make happen.” Coon says right now there is no price tag on the project, but he and his partners will be going after state and federal tax breaks as well as grants.” (Bryan Somerville, WBNS,10-21-19). Who’s talking? What are they saying? Quid Pro Quo? “Get over it. We do it all the time” (Mick Mulvaney). “Mayor Jeff Hall said the use of the building continues the Longaberger legacy. “It’s about a building that deserves the respect.,” Hall said. “A hotel is a perfect fit because it’s open to the public. Dave Longaberger would be happy with that. It’s the right people and the right property. These guys are not in the business of losing money.”” (Kent Mallett, The Advocate, 10-21-19). Speaking of money, and buildings: “”When you have a community our size, you can’t bring up the whole community at once,” Hall said. “You can’t fix every aspect of it. Downtown is a commercial district. If you put the dollars first in the commercial district, then raise those revenues, create some more jobs, it creates more funds to put in the neighborhoods. So, that’s the next step. “I think we’re moving in the right direction to keep that economic growth moving. It’s not easy. When we talk to employers they want to see nice downtowns, they want to see unique things to be considered for the short list for them to consider moving their company here.”” (Mallett, The Advocate, 10-11-19) ““Every once in awhile I’ve got to tell council members it’s all great ideas, but I got to pay the bills,” Hall said. “I appreciate Mr. Blake’s thoughts and surely understand all those conditions, but how are you going to do it? That’s something critical because it takes dollars. We have to deal with the money we have. Ideas are wonderful, but you’ve got to fund ideas. “I’d like to have a busing service, a fixed-route busing service. Can’t afford it. There are things you can’t afford. You reach a balanced budget by saying no to things.”” “Hall said the new fire station to be built on Sharon Valley Road is essential to reduce the slow response times in that area of the city, which has continued to grow. “That whole area has changed in 20 years, so as a result fire response needs to change,” Hall said. “Finding the location for a fire station is tough. If your house is on fire, you’d love for it next door to you. Every other day of the year, you don’t want it next door.”” “Hall said, “We have metrics and the metrics help make the (fire) decisions. That (East End) station out there was built when the Longaberger Basket had 500 employees. It does not anymore. We looked at need and run data. Nothing has suffered out there because of that station being re-used for another purpose.”” (Mallett, The Advocate, 10-20-19) “Incumbent Mayor Jeff Hall not only outspent his general election opponent, City Councilman Jeremy Blake, but the mayor had a large advantage in cash remaining for the final weeks of the campaign.” “Hall received donations from many of the business leaders in the area, as well as fellow Republican politicians. The mayor said it’s nice to have the support of the business community. “They say they believe in you and your results,” Hall said. “Certainly, we have had a plan for economic development. That’s something prior administrations didn’t necessarily have. It’s something that’s good for the community to be economically stable, so you don’t have to tax everyone.” Of the mayor’s 141 contributions, seven were at least $500, including: $1,200 from Realtors Political Action, of Columbus; $1,000 from Steven Hitchens, of Newark; $1,000 from Sean Weekley, of Newark; $500 each from Licking County Republican Boosters, Carol DuVal, of Heath, James Matesich, of Granville, and Duke Frost, of Newark.” (Mallett, The Advocate, 10-28-19). Analysis finds it curious that the major “issue” in the verbal conversation regarding the future mayor of Newark has centered on the projected Sharon Valley fire station. The incumbent (Jeff, “It’s about a building that deserves the respect.” Hall) is all in on the capital (building) expenditure without regard to the staffing (people employed) while the challenger (Jeremy Blake) is concerned with staffing concerns as a priority. A Google map shows the urgency of the “issue”: prime land to be developed residential just south of Log Pond Run, with an anticipated road extension from Baker Blvd. to the Evans athletic complex. Residential development is contingent on insurance underwriting which in turn is determined by, you guessed it, available fire service. The fly in the ointment for Newark’s future mayor is Le Hotel Baskeet that likewise will require insurance underwriting (“to make the numbers work”) which in turn will find a nearby defunct fire station on the east end. Newark extends northward to the Trout Club (and beyond), making closing the Hollander Street fire station untenable. Analysis shows having the “verbal” conversation of staffing capital (building) expenditure is a much more materially effective approach to the growing and changing community’s needs than the traditional “quid pro quo” money speech of Citizens United. Oh, and by the way, “Quid Pro Quo” is “something for something” in Latin.