Archive for February, 2021

Early Onset Of Collective Amnesia

February 14, 2021

            It has been pointed out by witty pundits that when breaking news, or national news, doesn’t match the Fox network’s outlook, the news conglomerate defers to some totally unrelated story that does, no matter how trivial or absurd. Not reporting the news of the day (or hour) is replaced by something other to occupy the viewer’s interest. This is very reminiscent of a parent’s attempt to assuage a child’s pre-meal hunger with activities in order to occupy their time. A similar deferral is currently being foisted on Newark Ohio. Indeed, this particular form of bait and switch is so ubiquitous that it is taken as normal. The Covid 19 vaccination roll out has been occurring, in Ohio, for quite some time now. Statewide we are told that 1 in 9 have been inoculated. The Licking County Health Department, for some unknown reason, has not been receiving an allotment and stopped their vaccination appointments/inoculations. In its stead, to keep the citizenry occupied, we have received an updated website with all kinds of bells and whistles, but no registry, no online appointment strategy. It is still appointment by phone (with registration to follow appointment confirmation). It is still appointments not being scheduled at the present time. Same cannot be said for LMH, a private hospital, which is still receiving vaccine allotments and scheduling appointments. But that is part of the normal, learned helplessness that Newark residents have been channeled into. Astute readers will recall that years ago the Newark Health Department was eliminated through a merger with the Licking County Health Department. “Greater efficiency and better service” were given as the primary reason for consolidation. It was the same reason given for the unified 911 call center. Ditto for the elimination of public transportation responsibility for its residents by the city of Newark. The demise of the low barrier shelter projected for the defunct Family Dollar building follows the same modus operandi. The deferral of “public” seems to be a particularly GOP characteristic, a party which has dominated city, county and state governance for years; for so long that its privatized outlook has almost become accepted as the norm. Now, with the Covid 19 vaccine, the privatization extends to its distribution (and subsequent deferral). Reliance on the vaccine administration is being shifted to the pharmaceutical monopolies of CVS and Walgreens. Their limited site dominance in the greater Newark area was made possible through buying out local pharmacies (more complicated than that but no space to address). Now they will “lead” in serving the public good. It needn’t be that way. West Virginia’s touted vaccine roll out success is attributed precisely to their abundance of local, non-franchise pharmacies. They, along with other states, register vaccine aspirants and THEN follow up with appointment time calls TO the aspirant, through the Health Department or pharmacy. Privatizing public services, whether health, transportation, housing, safety, education, etc. just doesn’t work and is NOT more efficient. A public service only works if it is always available and accessible to the public. Along with the disappearance of public space, the collective memory of public services is fading fast in Newark Ohio.

Polarity

February 7, 2021

            “We must work on homeless issue” is the title of Newark’s 2ndward council person Jeremy Blake’s response to the 1-8-21 news of the end of low barrier shelter/beginning of another thrift store on East Main St. (guest column Newark Advocate 2-7-21). “I voted along with all of my colleagues on the City Council to spend taxpayer dollars for a consultant to perform work and then provide recommendations on how to end chronic homelessness.” Even though the consultant resigned due to her own finding that the community was not committed to the solution (let alone the problem), Mr. Blake argues that the consultation was but a step in a further process of meetings and conversations. Such a drawn out and extensive “process” never seems to accompany council matters with regard to TIF’s, renovations, redevelopment, development, or even annexation for the sake of development. Indeed, Blake’s approach laser focuses on the homeless aspect without mention of the homefull. Is such a concept possible? Or is it like thinking of night without day, wet without dry, good without bad? Reporting for the NY Times (2-4-21) Stefanos Chen headlines The Down Side to Life in a Supertall Tower: Leaks, Creaks, Breaks. “The nearly 1,400-foot tower at 432 Park Ave., briefly the tallest residential building in the world, was the pinnacle of New York’s luxury condo boom half a decade ago [2016], fueled largely by foreign buyers seeking discretion and big returns. Six years later, residents of the exclusive tower are now at odds with the developers, and each other, making clear that even multimillion-dollar price tags do not guarantee problem-free living.” “The building, a slender tower that critics have likened to a middle finger because of its contentious height, is mostly sold out, with a projected value of $3.1 billion.” “[Sarina] Abramovich and her husband, Mikhail, retired business owners who worked in the oil and gas business, bought a high-floor, 3,500-square-foot apartment at the tower for nearly $17 million in 2016, to have a secondary home near their adult children.” “She’s aware that the plight of billionaires won’t garner much sympathy, but says she is speaking out on principle. “Everything here was camouflage,” she said. “If I knew then what I know now, I would have never bought.”” How many times have we heard that hiring a consultant is the way to solve a problem? Do consultants wear camo? Today’s NY Times provided some PC sympathy. Conor Dougherty headlines Pandemic’s Toll on Housing: Falling Behind, Doubling Up, Eviction moratoriums don’t keep arrears from piling up, and aid to renters may not reach the most vulnerable. (2-6-21) Analysis uncovered these relevant insights: “The nation has a plague of housing instability that was festering long before Covid-19, and the pandemic’s economic toll has only made it worse.” “Even before last year, about 11 million households — one in four U.S. renters — were spending more than half their pretax income on housing, and overcrowding was on the rise. By one estimate, for every 100 very low-income households, only 36 affordable rentals are available.” “Reflecting the broader economy, the pain in the U.S. housing market is most severe at the bottom. Surveys of large landlords whose units tend to be higher quality and more expensive have been remarkably resilient through the pandemic. Surveys of small landlords and low-income tenants show that late fees and debt are piling up.” “But for every million or so households who are evicted in the United States each year, there are many more millions who move out before they miss a payment, who cut back on food and medicine to make rent, who take up informal housing arrangements that exist outside the traditional landlord-tenant relationship. “What happens in housing court will miss most of the people who need help,” said Davin Reed, an economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia. While rents have fallen in many big cities, vacancy rates for the cheapest buildings are essentially flat from last year, according to CoStar Group, a commercial property group. That is: Nothing about Covid-19 has changed the fact that there is a longstanding shortage of affordable housing, so anyone who loses an affordable home will still have a hard time finding a new one.” “It is a world of cash rent and oral agreements that are unstable and easily torn — a big reason that various studies show informal tenants are more likely to become homeless. “People who have places they can be evicted from are better off than those who don’t,” said Marybeth Shinn, a professor at Vanderbilt University who studies homelessness.” But conversations about and “solutions” to the homeless problem are primarily focused on the problem “along the banks of the waterways which travel through the neighborhoods of the second ward that many of our chronic homeless call home.” (Blake) Analysis finds this akin to addressing agricultural weed eradication programs without mentioning how it is we farm in the first place. Newark is not exceptional to anything Dougherty writes about, nor what Chen covers. When speaking of big money west end development no mention is made of those who are couch surfing and doubling, tripling up to find shelter. And in researching a solution to the homeless issue, no word on the quickly acquiesced and subsidized big money developments. Flat earth versus a globe that spins round and comes round, night without day, homeless without homefull, it is obvious where the roots of American polarity spring forth.