Archive for the ‘Critical Analysis’ Category

“I’m sorry it’s been so uncomfortable for you to listen to my truth.”

June 13, 2021

            A funny thing happened on the way to spending $3 million on street paving in Newark this week. Newark residents were told to “Shut up. We know better.” at a City Council Street Committee. The incident was so news worthy that the local paper (?) promptly wrote an editorial for the Sunday edition. This in itself was newsworthy (call the Dispatch! On second thought, fuhgettaboutit. They also are a Gannett publication). “Our view: Newark council Republicans wrong to cut off public input” (the Advocate 6-13-21) basically said “Tsk. Tsk. This is no way to run a government.” It referenced the original report by Kent Mallett, 6-9-21, headlined “Newark council committee cuts off public testimony on road repairs”. In that report Mallett shares “The meeting lasted 40 minutes, with council members and the city engineer speaking for about 30 of those minutes. A local Eagle Scout and a Grant Street resident were allowed to speak before the meeting adjourned.” “William Koser, an Eagle Scout working on his Citizen of Community Merit Badge, urged the city to pave roads, such as Countryside Drive, instead of spending money on continual patching.” And “Before the adjournment, Rebecca Speake, a Grant Street resident, said, “Grant Street connects 79 to Williams. We do get quite a bit of traffic on that street. I’m sorry it’s been so uncomfortable for you to listen to my truth. I’m pretty frustrated.”” The bulk of Mallett’s report covered the brouhaha of “City Councilman Doug Marmie, R-6th Ward, made a motion to adjourn the meeting after one speaker and less than 10 minutes, saying the meeting was unfair because the speakers would only be from a couple wards.” This was eventually (after the fairness folderol) followed by “Marmie’s motion failed with a 3-3 vote. But, Councilman Jonathan Lang, R-5th Ward, later made a motion to adjourn and changed his vote, after addressing a 5th Ward concern about Countryside Drive.” All of which was an accumulation of little lies made possible by the tight Republican embrace of the Big Lie – you know, the fairness, the “public” in “public meeting”, the rules of order, etc. All of which caught the eye of the editorial board. None of which their editorial reveals as concerning them in terms of lies and truth. Something that Rebecca Speake couldn’t keep quiet about. “I’m sorry it’s been so uncomfortable for you to listen to my truth.” At which point the GOP majority committee men adjourned their meeting.

Family Tradition

May 16, 2021

            Talk of the Big Lie is usually filled with names like McCarthy, McConnell, Lindell, Gaetz and Taylor Greene. But never DeWine. Somehow, magnificently, Ohio’s Governor Mike DeWine has managed to disassociate himself from anything even remotely emanating the stench of a lie. The Governor appears unscathed. This past week Mike immersed himself completely, and proved it to be quite unremarkable. What was the lie and why the lack of interest? On May 13, 2021 DeWine announced establishment of the Ohio Vax-a-Million program, offering $1 mil to five lucky newly vaccinated individuals as an incentive to get Ohioans vaccinated, and by implication, benefitting Ohio’s economy. The very next day his administration announced that it would be ending the $300 weekly Federal unemployment benefits with the end of June, roughly 2 months prior to when they are scheduled to run out. Let’s get a calculator and compare apples to apples, or rather dollars to dollars. DeWine’s new benefit distribution allocates $1 mil to five individuals for a total expenditure of $5 mil. Simple enough. The termination of $300 weekly benefits checks to one individual, over two months, amounts to that individual not receiving the earmarked $2,400 meant to benefit Ohio’s economy. Both funds, the $5 mil as well as the $300 weekly unemployment, come from the same honey pot. So how many denied individuals would the $5 mil have provided weekly benefits to over two months span? $5 mil divided by $2400 equates to about 2,083 individuals. Not a great number? Which? The 5 lucky ones? The $5 mil? The $1,200 monthly income to live on? Or the 2,083 denigrated individuals? (denigrated by virtue of insinuation, that they are “just not trying”) Enter the Big Lie. It is now exactly 40 years since President Reagan’s Budget and Management guru brought “trickle-down” economic speak into the common vernacular. Since then David Stockman has had a remarkably checkered history of successes and failures, even vaguely disavowing responsibility for what was once termed “voodoo economics.” But one thing for sure is that trickle down never delivered benefits to the people of the US as intentionally projected. It benefitted the few, leaving a whopping deficit for the many. “Ninety-two percent of the wealth is owned by five percent of the people.” (Stockman on Bloomberg TV 2013) But the Big Lie persisted, carefully cultivated and nurtured by the Republican party. In the same year Stockman himself is quoted by Public Affairs as writing “[T]he Republican Party was hijacked by modern imperialists during the Reagan era. As a consequence, the conservative party cannot perform its natural function as watchdog of the public purse because it is constantly seeking legislative action to provision a vast war machine of invasion and occupation.” Ohio’s Governor Mike DeWine was just carrying on an old family tradition when he anointed 5 individuals to have a greater impact on “reopening” Ohio’s economy than the 2,083+ affected by the cuts to weekly unemployment benefits. But that’s even less than 92% of the wealth being owned by 5%; more like being owned by .0024%. As Black Lives Matter points out so succinctly: Big Lies morph into family traditions oh sooo easily that it seems almost unnatural to imagine otherwise!

Visuals

May 2, 2021

            Large item in the national news this past week was the President’s address to a “socially distanced” (to put it mildly) joint houses of congress. This was followed by the institutionally de rigueur rebuttal speech by the opposing party. Both were meant primarily for the prime time television viewing audience. That kind of explains the institutional requirement of a follow up address by the party opposed to the president. Which makes little sense in an age when folks can choose where and when to “tune in” on a device of their choosing. Also the institutional obligation to have a party in opposition. Analysis finds it not so hard to imagine both, if not multiple parties, without opposition but difference. But back to the visuals of the two events. Front and foremost was that of the addressors, one an old white guy, the other a young black guy. Background is important. It contributes context (which is why all those weathermen get blown over standing outside in a hurricane, or wading with alligators during a flood). Behind President Biden were the official government trappings of our representative democracy. These consisted of the leaders of the house and senate as well as one big flag which back dropped all three. Any head-on shot showed the flag behind the president even if it didn’t show Speaker Pelosi or Vice President Harris. The president always had a red or white stripe rising up vertically behind him. South Carolina Senator Tim Scott’s background consisted of the mandatory flag, only this time it was in the multiple. The surprise wasn’t the number, or kind (there were flags of the US as well as SC), but the angle at which they were presented. It was hard not to notice as one was forced to continuously “adjust” the upright Scott to the skewed backdrop while following his address. It was impossible not to notice that the multiple flags were arranged as a backslash diagonal (\), with the head of the flag starting above the speaker’s right side and sloping to his lower left. Coincidence? Was the senator leaning to the right?  It was hard to tell since, other than the senator himself, there was no vertical visual in the image field (such as a podium). Analysis concludes this was deliberate, and symbolic. Much as Scott’s address relied on flag, family and religion without any point by point rebuttal to the previous presidential address of specific policy proposals, so the special effects  folks at the opposing party relied on symbolic presentation to carry through this absence of any reasoned conversation (or argument). Multiple flags for multiple America’s. State flag given equal space and arrangement with national flag. Right at the top with left near the floor. Etc. Why the emphasis and reliance on symbol? Analysis finds it is precisely because symbols elide and negate reasoned conversation (debate) that they are employed as a means of political propaganda. The symbol embodies all kinds of feelings and fuzzy imagining, but only to the chosen ones who recognize it. Voila! Scott can say on television, in a short time spot, what cannot be verbalized in reasoned debate (conversation). So the backdrop contributed to the baseball, apple pie, and Chevrolet speech, successfully creating a unified visual reply without voicing any kind of policy proposal as to why or why not.

Revolving Door

April 25, 2021

            Ever wonder why the candidate who has raised the most money, has the biggest war chest, is considered to be a front runner for being elected? Despite SCOTUS Citizens United ruling that money speaks, it still remains that money doesn’t do the voting. Or does it? “The Licking County Commissioners approved on Thursday an Alternate Energy Zone for a 512-acre Harrison Township site proposed for a 108-megawatt solar field.” (Licking County Commissioners OK Alternate Energy Zone for solar field; more on horizon Kent Mallett, Newark Advocate 4-25-21). No end to where the public revenue of this project will be distributed in this reporting. Similar articles outlining new corporate investment surrounding Newark usually travel down the road of tax credits, abatements, etc. with no promises of who will get what (“some risk involved”). Why not this one? Could it be that taking credit for “real” market forces at work (Amazon, Google and others need the electricity) rather than the contrived “subsidized” pie-in-the-sky creations is being usurped by GOP county commissioners who otherwise treat climate change/global warming as a preferred whipping boy? But Analysis digresses. Of course we are all familiar with the “revolving door” complaint when it comes to national administration, also state as well as local. How often is it the case that someone appointed to lead a regulatory body, or department has previously been salaried as part of what that body or department manages or administrates (what George W. Bush referred to as its “customers”)? And then, with a new administration (or just time passing), the same gov’t administrators go to work in the private sector for those they previously regulated. But what about elected officials, representatives of the people? Recent news was that central Ohio US Representative Steve Stivers has opted out of running for re-election, as well as seeking a senate run to replace Rob Portman. Stivers has agreed to a leadership role with the state’s Chamber of Commerce that salaries him at twice what he is making now. Just reward for services rendered? We’ve seen this movie before. Several years ago US Rep Pat Tiberi opted not to run and assumed a leadership position with the Ohio Business Roundtable. The similarities are uncanny. Both white men had accumulated vast war chests for whatever position they would run for. Both opted to “double down” on their earnings rather than continue to “represent” the fine people of their district. Both no longer “fight” for their constituents’ values. Why should they? After all, they’ve made it to the top of the public service leadership ladder where they can now be more “quietly effective.” The unmentionable underwear in all this is, of course, where did all the accumulated war chest donations come from? Hint: the very lobbying groups who lured them away to higher salaried positions represent these folks; you know, the people who contrive all the tax credits, abatements, etc. for the sake of “job creation.” Analysis will let Cardi B, who btw nailed it, have the last word: “this is why people gotta vote, elect better people cause you got these dumb asses representing states.”

It’s Time To Defund CIC’s

April 1, 2021

            What is a CIC? The NDP (Newark Development Partners) uses the terms “Community Improvement Corporation” as part of their full name, so we’ll stick with that rather than “investment”, or the British “interest company.” In Ohio these are primarily public/private entities, or at least that is what their stakeholders claim. The “public/private” generally refers to the entire operation being funded by the public sector and administered by the private. Grow Licking County is funded not only by the county but also income from the various municipalities that it markets. Its administration is in the care of the Licking County Chamber of Commerce, a private entity; public sector funding, private sector spending. Amount of funding supplied by the public is readily available (thanks to freedom of information), how it is spent and the outcomes of that expenditure not so much. The term “public/private” is confusing enough. That probably stems from its oxymoronic character. And oxymorons, as we all know, are the preferred devices for the conveyance of magical thinking and mystical alliances. But what does “Community Improvement Corporation” mean? Or is it also an oxymoron, or a near kin? Analysis of the component terms may offer a clue. “Improvement” isn’t a toughie. Defined as “better” is sufficient for understanding. The dictionary gives two relevant meanings for “community”: 1. a group of people living in the same place or having a particular characteristic in common. 2. a feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals. For “corporation” only one: 1. a company or group of people authorized to act as a single entity (legally a person) and recognized as such in law. For “CIC”, no entries found. Again, we’ve hit the oxymoronic wall. Is it a community of improvement corporations? Or is it community improvement by corporations? The oxymoronic element appears to be the contradiction of people living in common fellowship and authority under force of law. Holy crime fighters, Batman! It sure looks a lot like another publicly funded service institution in crisis today. It is no coincidence that “authority” is used in another area public/private CIC – the Newark Port Authority. That “Community Improvement Corporation” is just soap suds to screen the laundering of money is quite apparent. And the washed sums are considerable. The Licking County Chamber of Commerce was the largest in Ohio when most of LC’s CIC’s were begun back in the early years of the Kasich administration. What “better” has the fellowship of people living in common have to show for all the wealth siphoned to the top? “Places to work” we are told. Employers stress their number one need is that workers have a reliable way to get to their jobs yet Licking County has no fixed schedule public transportation after all this time. Neighboring counties do though their Chambers of Commerce are dwarfed by LC’s. Ditto for affordable housing having been built over that period as well as presently projected. Lancaster (and soon Zanesville) have the Pearl House for those without housing while Newark has the promise of shopping in the waiting-to-be-historically-designated Arcade (and other rainbow stew propaganda). It’s time to defund Newark’s Community Improvement Corporations.

The Headline Says It All

March 14, 2021

            The Newark Advocate headlined “Four North 21st Street homes to be demolished for Sheetz gas station, store, restaurant” (Kent Mallett, 3-12-21). The story included the requisite song and dance of the company’s history, as well as the rigorous planning and zoning process activated with the, er, development. “The zoning certificate for the project will be granted when five conditions are met, [Newark City Engineer Brian] Morehead said.” There were photos of the houses to be leveled, interview with previous owner, etc. Besides, who hasn’t seen the Sheetz Truckstops when traveling on the interstate? A name you’ve grown to trust! Everything appears to be above board and legit, serving the beneficial interests of the community. Not. Four less homes to house the community. Earlier there was the overture to demolish another house at the corner of 21stand Church for the sake of another gas station/convenience store. When it comes to demolition the county land bank and Newark Development Partners Community Improvement Corporation can’t find enough, always in the name of development and growth. When it comes to finding homes for those without housing these city leaders are nowhere to be found (backing out of their commitment for a low barrier shelter on East Main Street). When it comes to developing housing, actually building affordable in town residences, the matter is poo-pooed for the razzle dazzle of River Rd. expansion, etc. Four less affordable homes is four less places to shelter in town Newark. The real “development” would be replacing these units with 4 new ones. A lack of housing is a lack of housing, and is a major contributor to the growing number of citizens without a house to call home. This is not complicated cause/effect reasoning. In the 80’s, New York City commercial investors bought up the in town residential properties for demolition and commercial “development.” This resulted in the overnight burgeoning of people on the streets without a house to call home. Remove the existing housing stock without replacement creates scarcity. Scarcity may be good for capitalism but it is bad if you need a roof over your head. No matter, Newark City government leaders are all patting themselves on the back for dotting all the i’s and crossing all the t’s in their quest to accommodate commercial “development.” But is commercial interest the public interest? Is the demolition of housing stock with no replacement in the interest of the public good? 

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.

Loopholes, Not For Everyone

January 29, 2021

            Warren Buffet is quoted (somewhere) as claiming his secretary pays taxes at a higher rate than he does (though she certainly is less wealthy than he if Capitalism is as Capitalism does).  As our former president pointed out, Buffet is smart and takes advantage of all the loopholes legitimately available to him. According to conventional capitalist wisdom, all perfectly reasonable. To paraphrase a popular TV drug advertisement: “Loopholes, not for everyone…” Speaking of taxes, the Licking County Treasurer, Roy Van Atta, recently mailed out the semi-annual real estate tax bill. Along with the bill was a separate sheet headlined: “To limit in-person payments and potential exposure to Covid-19, we encourage payments to be made by one of the below options.” One of the payment options is the use of a drop box. In addition to the one located at the Newark South Second Street Administration Building, there is a drop box in Pataskala. America is notable for its collective amnesia with regard to all things cultural or historical. Prior to the recent 2020 election, Ohio’s Secretary of State, Frank LaRose, ruled that counties could only have one drop box for ballot collection (ostensibly for the sake of security!). Both Roy and Frank are Republicans. “Loopholes, not for everyone…”  While on the subject of collective amnesia with American history and culture, how about that Rand Paul? The GOP’s Kentucky Senator argues that since the insurrection against the Electoral College procedure took place on January 6, 2021 and the impeachment trial is to take place in February, 2021, it is unconstitutional as the impeached one, whose guilt or innocence is on trial, is a private citizen and no longer president. Analysis finds the implication to be that the president committed the crime (for which he was impeached), not American citizen Donald Trump. Elected public officials are not citizens. Jimmy Stewart’s Mr. Smith left for Washington as just another citizen but became…? Analysis finds it ironic that both citizen Jimmy and elected official Rand share the same party affiliation. “Loopholes, not for everyone…” While on the subject of irony, the 1-29-21 online Newark Advocate comes to mind. “Ohio House committee leader’s call to ‘stop this vaccine s***’ featured in new video” by Jackie Borchardt (1-29-21) is notable for the buried lead, located waaay at the end of the report: “Meanwhile, Ohio has administered just under half of the vaccine doses sent to the state. Ohio ranks 41st in administering doses on a per capital basis, giving 6,384 shots per 100,000 residents as of Thursday, the CDC reported. At least 682,705 initial doses – about 5.8% of the state’s population – have been given in Ohio, the state reported Wednesday.” Same day, same online Newark Advocate, Michaela Sumner headlined “Limited by COVID-19 vaccine supply, Licking County pauses registrations for next week.” Need more be said? “Loopholes, not for everyone…”

New Life For An Old Structure (Again)

January 15, 2021

[With the breaking of the latest news by the Newark Advocate’s Kent Mallett (Longaberger basket building won’t become hotel, on market for $6.5 million, 1-15-21) Analysis chose to rerun this oldie (but goodie) from 4 years ago (2-12-17). For those of you keeping score at home, this line from Mallett’s recent reporting is most telling: “The best use for the building will be its original purpose as office space, which will not require much interior work, [Brandon] Hess said. The remodeling to convert into a hotel had not begun, he said.”]

Remember the basket building at the edge of town? Of course you do. Commuters driving by rubber neck daily for signs of decline, never admitting any morbid interest, but looking just the same. After a visit to the place by “business leaders”, and an assessment of futures value by Cheri Hottinger of what a great place it is (would make a terrific office of tourism), nothing else has been heard. But the tax bill increases, even as the City of Newark elides taking responsibility (or ownership). How about turning it into a state wide immigration reception and processing center? The Ellis Island of Ohio, right here in the heart of the heartland, downtown, er, town’s edge Newark! Think of the jobs it would create with the various state and federal agencies dealing with immigration, the requisite housing for new arrivals in a controlled centralized location, as well as the conference facilities for immigration related events, maybe even a living immigration museum, telling the story of where it all began (for some) (for most). The tour busses would return! A tourism center? Fuggetaboutit. Besides, immigration and the big basket share a lot in common. Cincy may have an underground railroad museum, but the interdependent story of African Americans and Euro Americans is not that of the immigrant. As Hegel pointed out, the master/slave relationship is a weird dialectic of power, need and reliance, both spoken and unspoken. The story of the immigrant, like that of the basket building, is one of uselessness, not being needed or wanted, being totally powerless (Will the building eventually disappear? Will the immigrant do likewise?). The alien architecture of the basket building is not located amongst the church spires and bank buildings of downtown Newark. Rather, like the alien immigrant, it is relegated to a specially annexed borderland of the city, out of sight, out of mind. The only company this alien construct has is the long distance relationship with the giant chair across the road. The immigrant shares a similar heritage with the building that bears the Longaberger nameplate hearkening an inspirational past of thriving and belonging, one that is forever lost, never to be revisited or regained. Ever present mourning, nostalgia and angst is an integral part of the immigrant life; something experienced only occasionally by Heisey, or Longaberger enthusiasts. The entire work ethic and skill that spawned the immigrant and the basket building is still looked upon with skepticism and suspicion in today’s America. Hand making baskets is akin to speaking another language. Unlike the basket building, most immigrants do not stay useless for long (or all arrive useless for that matter). Like Arnold Schwarzenegger, or Rupert Murdoch, most quickly assimilate into the conservative mainstream. But that’s a whole other story, one that the current administration might do well to consider (City, County, State, as well as Federal). So call your city council representative, the mayor, and county commissioners to tell them Newark needs immigrants. Better yet, call the folks with their hand on the handles of the basket building, Cheri or her husband, and tell them Newark needs an immigration reception and processing center. Like them, most immigrants come with one or both hands gripping the handles of their belongings. And the basket building even has those. What better place than the vacant basket building? What could be more perfect?