Archive for October, 2020

Super Dupe-er

October 30, 2020

            10-29-20 The Los Angeles Times headlined: Pebble Mine developer promised riches, but expects $1.5-billion subsidy from Alaskans (Richard Read). The story is full of the to-be-expected tales of political intrigue, corruption and environmental concerns that Ohioans have become accustomed to, locally with Larry Householder and HB6. But there is another aspect of the LA Times article which strikes closer to the heart of what is taking place in downtown Newark, something which informs analogously. It is important to note that, before diving into the unseemly details of all the intrigue, corruption, and environmental gore, Read does lay out the facts (guileful as they may be). “The company seeking to develop Pebble Mine in the headwaters of Bristol Bay has long promised that the controversial project would bring Alaska jobs, economic growth and tax revenue. But newly released undercover videos made by an environmental advocacy group show that Northern Dynasty Minerals Ltd. expects a massive state subsidy for the giant mine. In the recording, Ronald Thiessen, the chief executive, tells environmental activists — who are posing as potential investors — that the company plans to raise $4 billion from investors and secure another $1.5 billion from the state. He also says that if a federal permit under the Clean Water Act is denied for the copper and gold mine, his company will try to claim hundreds of millions of dollars in compensation from the U.S. government. “In our view it’s a ‘taking,’ an expropriation,” Thiessen says. “And if it’s determined to be a taking by the courts, we expect compensation.” The recordings were released Thursday by the Environmental Investigation Agency, which made them in August and September by duping company executives.” Two days prior the LA Times article Kent Mallett, for the Advocate, headlined: NDP leaders hopeful Arcade restoration project can secure ‘critical’ tax credits (10-27-20) which was a practically verbatim article written by him and published on 6-29-20 (Arcade renovation project could cost $15 million, needs tax credits). Along with the to-be-expected falderal of Arcade history, what is being uncovered, etc., both articles include the somewhat official looking economic details of projected sources of income (apartments and store/office rental) as well as the projected cost ($15 million). Neither story provides the crucial tax payer investment – the amount of the projected tax credit, without which all the Newark Development Partners (and city) become quite anxious for the fate of the white elephant they may have forced Tom Cotton to sell. An oversight on the part of Mr. Mallett? Doubtful. It is sad that Borat style guile would be needed to reveal the amount that the NDP is anticipating. Like the Pebble Mine enterprise, the Arcade project is relying on tax payer investment in the form of tax credits (money paid to the owner/developers – NDP). Northern Dynasty Minerals Ltd. anticipates tax payer investment to be approximately 27+% of the total needed. The same percentage calculated on NDP’s Arcade project would yield around $4+ million. Will we ever know? Will someone need to be duped to find out? Given the ditto articles by The Advocate (almost exactly 4 months apart), is someone perhaps already being duped?

Supremely Disingenuous

October 27, 2020

            10-26-20 The SCOTUS issued a decision disallowing the counting of mail-in ballots in Wisconsin arriving after the Tuesday election deadline. Unusual with the decision was the inclusion of a written concurrence by Justice Bret Kavanaugh. He writes “For important reasons, most States, including Wisconsin, require absentee ballots to be received by election day, not just mailed by election day. Those States want to avoid the chaos and suspicions of impropriety that can ensue if thousands of absentee ballots flow in after election day and potentially flip the results of an election. And those States also want to be able to definitively announce the results of the election on election night, or as soon as possible thereafter. Moreover, particularly in a Presidential election, counting all the votes quickly can help the State promptly resolve any disputes, address any need for recounts, and begin the process of canvassing and certifying the election results in an expeditious manner.” It is no coincidence that the lines “And those States also want to be able to definitively announce the results of the election on election night,” and “counting all the votes quickly can help the State…” sound like they could have been said by the very same Chief Executive that appointed Bret Kavanaugh to be one of the Supremes. As recently as the glut of rallies this run up week to the election, Dear Leader has been emphasizing just that. Indeed, in an AP fact check from 10-26-20, Calvin Woodward cites: “TRUMP: “It would be very, very proper and very nice if a winner were declared on November third, instead of counting ballots for two weeks, which is totally inappropriate and I don’t believe that that’s by our laws.” — remarks to reporters Tuesday. TRUMP: “Big problems and discrepancies with Mail In Ballots all over the USA. Must have final total on November 3rd.” — tweet Monday.” In the follow up check Woodward notes: “And “our laws” don’t require the immediate reporting of all election results in the country; delayed counting is unavoidable.” “As for his demand for a “final vote total” on election night, that flies in the face of how votes are counted and reported. Apart from the usual lags in rounding up and reporting totals from every precinct in the country, the U.S. is seeing unprecedented numbers of early votes, and some battleground states won’t even start counting them until Election Day votes have been tallied.” “Earlier in the campaign, Trump asserted that the winner should be declared on election night, another outcome no one can guarantee and one that may elude the country in a week. There is no requirement that the winner be determined Election Day.” Analysis wonders whether “our laws” are the same laws that Justice Kavanaugh decides on. After a week of pontification on the sanctity and gravitas of originalist interpretation, Analysis finds it supremely disingenuous to try and have the American people believe that, in the days before railroads, telegraph or telephone and heavily reliant on original horsepower for speedy travel, the originators of the US Constitution intended for comprehensive and complete election results to be available throughout the 13 original states on election night itself. “Time is of the essence” is nowhere to be found in their delineations of the results of the electoral process. However, it is found in almost all contemporary contract law regarding real estate, something Dear Leader is quite intimate with.

Between The Lines

October 22, 2020

            Recent news out of Newark Ohio is the dedication of the recently built Sharon Valley fire station (Newark officials anticipate lives saved with reduced response times from new firehouse Michaela Sumner, Newark Advocate, 10-20-20). Also in the news, same day, was the projected expansion of bike paths, etc. (Transportation plan would extend bike paths, add sidewalks Kent Mallett Newark Advocate). The two stories share a lot in common and inform between-the-line readers of political priorities. Though the fire house story is primarily good times are to be had, the fire station originally started out much as the bike path story. It was projected. Then rapidly built. Both projected desires rely on leveraging and/or spending other people’s money (“The Granville Road path is being designed now and expected to be completed in 2023 or 2024. The cost of the path extension project is about $500,000, with the city paying 20% and Licking County Area Transportation Study paying 80%.” “[Newark Division of Fire Chief Patrick] Connor noted a new ambulance was purchased through CARES Act funding, and the fire engine is new to the city.”). Leveraging and spending other people’s money is, well, pretty much the American way. Privately, one needs only look at the enormous amount of debt carried by average Americans to witness leveraging and spending other people’s money. Most people buy as much house as their down payment will leverage.  In country and western speak it is “having everything that me and the bank would own.” Publicly, it is how roads get paved, buildings built or remodeled, downtown squares updated. There is a downside – “As the conversation about adding a new fire station in Newark has increased in recent years, so did concerns about how the city would increase staffing and equipment to cover a new firehouse.” Running the darn thing and maintaining it cannot be leveraged. But what gets leveraged, and what is shelved as a pipe dream “we cannot afford” by civic leaders? The between-the-lines answer would include the low barrier shelter at 200 E. Main St. (projected at about the same time as the fire station) as well as fixed route/schedule public transportation within the same region that LCATS is funding bike paths and sidewalks. The political priorities announced by the opening of a fire station, located in an area ripe for development, and bike paths, to and fro that area, is loud and clear – “We don’t want the homeless to have a home in Newark, nor a ways to get around for those unable to purchase (and maintain) an automobile.”