Framed, The Continual Sequel

It is a made for TV movie. The characters may vary but the story line remains pretty much the same. Town inherits heirloom. Image is unsettling. Town patriarchs can’t bear to look. It doesn’t fit in with their promotion of utopian development (whatever). Yet without it the identity of the town is incomplete. The patriarchs’ solution? Put the heirloom in an ornate and extensive frame; the bigger and more elaborate, the better. The latest Newark Ohio episode of this sequel is the recent (12-5-19) “public forum” on what is termed “homelessness” (as though a “home” is something to be consumed). “Analytic Insight, hired to help the community determine how to reduce chronic homelessness, showed its initial findings Thursday night in a public forum hosted by United Way of Licking County at Career and Technology Education Centers of Licking County. The consultant presented some local opinions of the problem, resources available to help the homeless and plans for the remainder of the project, expected to wrap-up in late March. Another consultant, Luken Solutions, will analyze immediate needs for low-barrier shelters.” (Forum on homelessness in Licking County stirs emotions, criticism, Kent Mallett, Newark Advocate, 12-6-19) We’ve seen other sequels to this made for TV movie. Previous iterations of the unsettling image of Newark have been about the local meth and opioid epidemic, non-existence of local public transportation, paucity of local affordable housing as well as existing substandard housing stock, and hunger. The storyline is always the same. Something about the image disturbs. The town patriarchs covertly attempt to keep it from being part of the “welcome to Newark” brochure. So the answer to addressing the image, without which the town would be incomplete, while promoting the brochure is to very publicly frame the disturbing image. Consultants are hired. And more consultants on top of that. Studies are bought and paid for along with the consultant’s fee and retainer. In the end the disturbing image remains. When confronted, the patriarchs can point at the elaborate and extensive frame they’ve furnished at great expense. The story’s ending is rather predictable and somewhat anticlimactic. ““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.”” (newly reelected Newark Mayor Jeff Hall quoted by Kent Mallett, The Advocate, 10-20-19). The affordability of being able to frame it? No problem.

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