Archive for the ‘Newark Ohio’ Category

In Licking County Wealthy People Don’t Commit Crime

June 20, 2017

The Father’s Day NBC Evening News ran a short segment by Tammy Leitner about pay to stay jails in California. Turns out that if the incarcerated is wealthy, they can upgrade to jail time with amenities like access to store offerings, phone, cable TV, even an ocean view location like trendy Seal Beach Jail (a new twist on Father Knows Best – Father Stays Best!). Your local accommodating jail is not just for misdemeanors anymore. The LA Times reports close to 5% are in for a felony conviction. For a hefty fee, this captured clientele can get an upgrade (eat your hearts out Trivago). NBC was not really presenting news but rather “upgrading” what has been news since 2007, with Analysis also considering it in past posts. In an upgrade of its own 2013 report, the ACLU in 2015 reported IN Jail, In Debt: Ohio’s Pay-To-Stay Fees. “Our statewide investigation analyzes policies at 75 facilities representing 74 counties across Ohio. More than half of jails, 40 of the 75, charge people for their incarceration through a booking fee, a daily fee, or both. Ohioans are getting billed up to $66.09 a day to be in jail.” Earlier this year the Marshall Project in collaboration with the LA Times did a joint investigation that was reported variously (from which NBC created Father’s Day fill). NPR’s Robert Siegel interviewed Alysia Santo, “a staff reporter for the nonprofit news organization the Marshall Project,” (3-9-17). From the transcript: Santo “The most expensive is Hermosa Beach, and that’s $251 a night. And then the cheapest is La Verne, which is $25 a night. More typically they’re between a hundred and $150.” “And in that jail, he was allowed to bring his own bedding. He was allowed to bring his computer and work on musical recordings while he was spending the time there. It also – the judge had said he needed to finish that sentence within one year, and he took two years to finish it. So he kind of scheduled his time over a matter of two years and did two-day increments until it was completed.” “It is. I mean a lot of what we cover at the Marshall Project is looking at the ways that money influences people’s outcomes in the criminal justice system. And some of those ways are no secret. You know, you can buy a better attorney. You know, you can pay your bail. So there are many ways that money comes into play. I think, though, pay-to-stay – what seems outrageous to a lot of people is that it’s so explicit that you really can purchase a more comfortable experience for a nightly fee. It’s very similar to many things in criminal justice. It’s just more in-your-face about it.” With so much being “in-your-face” these days, Analysis finds there may be something in all this that Licking County’s beleaguered commissioners could cash in on, literally. No, not a room with a view between the bars at Buckeye Lake (there are already plenty of those), but rather the historic old jail, which hardly generates any income during its very seasonal and limited Halloween Haunted Hoochie days. It would be the perfect pokey, overlooking Newark’s much desired “destination” location as well as the area’s hottest prime real estate for young urban hipsters. Offering concierge service, the upgraded county lock up could provide the discretionary jailbird with farm market fresh offerings as well as artisan soda and food truck cuisine; all while enjoying the incredible view of the newly refurbished justice center! What could be more rehabilitative than knowing that your upgraded stay is not only helping to pay off your debt to society but also helping to pay for the recent courthouse upgrade? Additionally, detention center guests, er, inmates could “work off” some of their hospitality accommodation charge by volunteering to act as, well, prisoners during the Halloween Hoochie celebration. Analysis finds this would be a win-win for all. It could even lead to a yearly downtown reunion celebration like the local university has for its alumni. What’s that you say? In Licking County wealthy people don’t commit…

Is Home Rule Homeless?

June 19, 2017

The recent news out of the Ohio legislature is the bait and switch (again) of the local government fund to balance the state budget. Jackie Borchardt, for Cleveland.com (6-16-17), headlines Ohio Budget Pulls $35 Million from Cities to Spend on Opioid Crisis. “Combined with a provision to give money to villages and townships, the budget halves the state’s local government revenue stream directed to the 614 of Ohio’s 940 municipalities that levy an income tax. Cities, counties, villages and townships were already anticipating an $89 million hit over two years because of declining state revenues.” Essentially, in exchange for agreeing to levy income tax on their residents (and guest workers) cities were promised a chunk of the state funding (“Senate GOP spokesman John Fortney said the city-specific funding is a “bonus payment” that would be better spent on treatment programs for people addicted to opiates”) Borchardt provides background perspective: “The fund was established in 1934 in a deal with local governments to create the state sales tax. When the state began collecting personal income tax in 1972, the legislature agreed to give a share to municipalities because the new state tax would make it more difficult to raise local taxes.” “In 2011, Kasich slashed the local government fund in half to help patch an $8 billion budget hole. The fund went from 3.68 percent of the state’s general revenue fund in 2011 to 1.66 percent today. The last state budget diverted $17 million from the city-specific funding stream to pay for statewide law enforcement office training and a state database tracking shootings involving officers. It also temporarily redirected about $24 million to townships and villages.” Reporting for the State House News service (6-14-17) Andy Chow headlines Local Government Group Criticizes Latest Budget Proposal. “Local governments are likely to see a loss of $150 million in funding from just the local government fund distribution and projects. The Ohio Municipal League’s Kent Scarrett says there are a lot of seemingly small changes in the Senate budget bill that could result in big cuts.” Unrelated, but certainly intimately connected and very relevant to the state legislature budgeting process is the continued legal struggle over Cleveland’s Fannie Lewis law. 6-15-17 Robert Higgs updates the situation with National Coalition Joins Cleveland Fight to Save Fannie Lewis Law (Cleveland.com). “Named for the longtime Cleveland Councilwoman Fannie Lewis, the city ordinance was enacted more than a decade ago to help combat poverty and to ensure that residents participate in the city’s economic development – and share in its prosperity.” “The Fannie Lewis law requires that on projects of $100,000 or more, at least 20 percent of construction hours be performed by Cleveland residents. At least 4 percent of that work must be done by residents considered to be low-income. Failure to meet the requirements results in a fine equal to 1/8 of 1 percent of the total contract cost for each percentage by which the contractor misses the goal.” “A year ago the Ohio General Assembly approved a bill that would have barred cities from enacting local hiring regulations in contracts for public improvements as Cleveland’s Fannie Lewis law does. Gov. John Kasich signed the bill into law last May. Cleveland sued the state last August, shortly before the law was to take effect, claiming it violated home rule powers guaranteed in the Ohio Constitution. In January, Common Pleas Judge Michael J. Russo issued a permanent injunction that blocks the state from ever enforcing the law. That led to the state’s appeal.” “The Campaign to Defend Local Solutions on Tuesday filed a brief in the 8th District Ohio Court of Appeals arguing in favor of the city’s position.” “”Cities across the country are under attack by overreaching state legislatures, and a preemption threat to one city is a threat to all,” Michael Alfano, campaign manager for the coalition, said in a statement. “Whether in Ohio, Florida, Arizona, or North Carolina, the rights of cities like Cleveland to enact laws that reflect community values must be defended.”” Analysis finds there to be no coincidence that one of the “national conversations” currently ongoing (after the 2016 presidential election) is over the urban/rural cultural divide. It likewise is no coincidence that cities are gerrymandered (and isolated) with Democratic party expectations by GOP dominated state legislatures (currently in the majority across most of America). Likewise, Analysis finds it no coincidence that “cities across the country” are effected by such budgeting. Remember ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council) of which Ohio’s governor and legislators are members? You know, the lobbying group that offers legislative templates that legislators have copied verbatim, even forgetting to change the name of the state to their own for which they are making law. Alfano raises suspicions as to the origins of such budgeting solutions. From ALEC’s home website’s “State Budget Solutions”: “Smart budgeting is vital to a state’s financial health. The ALEC State Budget Reform Toolkit offers more than 20 policy ideas for addressing today’s shortfalls in a forthright manner, without resorting to budget gimmicks or damaging tax increases.” Newark, of course, is at one with all this. Mayor Hall chose not to involve himself with the Ohio Municipal League’s initial complaint on Governor Kasich’s original budget manipulation, and the city council prefers to constantly defer to the state on most matters, even ones that have been voted on by its citizens through a ballot initiative (think marijuana, medical as well as misdemeanor). So much for getting the roads paved any time soon (but there will be a new bridge over 16 with “Downtown” written on it, in case one is lost).

Fundraisers

June 5, 2017

Mention the name Kirkersville today around central Ohio and the response is similar to the mention of other names in other parts of the country, like Waco, Orlando, or Virginia Tech. For readers unfamiliar with Kirkersville, an individual with a history of violence related offenses (and incarceration) shot and killed two unrelated women co workers of a nursing home as well as the village police chief. The shooter was likewise shot and killed in the calamity. A search of  the perpetrator’s home in Utica turned up a veritable arsenal of firearms and ammunition. The tragedy that unfolded in Kirkersville has been reported, updated, re-reported and analyzed, all in hopes that “it will never happen again.” Laws are being “introduced” to facilitate this. This past weekend, in addition to more post-event investigative reporting, the Newark Advocate dedicated another Sunday editorial to Kirkersville. Newark News Analysis dares to call attention to a regular daily Advocate feature from June 2, 2017 (prior to the editorial but after the tragedy in Kirkersville). The Local News Briefs calls attention to local events, announcements, news items that are published in the public interest. The following appeared on the same day, sharing the same column space, separated only by two sundry announcements (a street closing and a summer reading series):

Chipotle having Kirkersville shooting fundraiser

NEWARK – A benefit day for the families of the three victims of the Kirkersville nursing home shooting will be Tuedsay, June 6, at the Chipotle Restaurants in Heath, Newark, Reynoldsburg and Blacklick.

Customers who tell the cashier they are supporting the fundraiser will have 50 percent of their purchase divided between the families of Eric DiSario, Marlina Medrano and Cindy Krantz.

Gun raffle supports Utica K-9 Unit

UTICA – A gun raffle and fundraiser to support the Utica Police Department K-9 Unit will have a drawing at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at the Utica Fire Department.

First prize is a SAI Saint Tactical AR-15, second prize is a RFM-870 Combo, third prize is a Ruger American 9mm and fourth prize is a Glock 26 CGW. Other door prizes will also be given.

Tickets are $10 and are available at the police department and Utica Mill and Hardware Store.

 

Newark News Analysis finds the Newark Advocate’s de facto editorial stance to be no stance at all. Cosmetic tweaks are demanded while the status quo remains unchallenged. Who does the Advocate advocate for?

El SID And The Poppies

June 1, 2017

The current imbroglio obsessing Newark’s City Council is the future of marijuana in Nerk (whatever became of affordable housing? public transportation? drug addiction rehabilitation? Let alone street paving?). After dissing the local voters’ initiative to “decriminalize” its possession, the council now must wrestle with what to do with a medical legalization of this substance by the legislature (meant, at the time, to stave off a statewide citizen’s initiative). Having hemmed and hawed as long as they could, the good folks in the state’s executive branch need to finally implement the medical marijuana legalization. Ditto for Newark’s City administration. Analysis has already posted about the head slapping irony of citizens wanting something, voting for it (going through the democratic process of self governance) only to find their elected officials deciding something else is in the constituents’ best interest (another episode of Father Knows Best). Stealthily lurking behind all this is the gentrification of downtown Newark. This ongoing epic saga has unfolded over the past 10 years with nary a citizen vote. Conservative blame was needed as “conservative” by definition means “disposed to preserve existing conditions, institutions, etc. or to restore traditional ones, and to limit change” (none of which are found with roundabouts or a covered, block long outdoor entertainment loading dock). That nasty old federal EPA fit the bill marvelously, serving as a catalyst for all this “Federally mandated” change (kinda like “America First” being “printed in China”). So downtown Newark was, by hook or crook, going to be changed, gentrified. No one would vote on it. Everyone (who didn’t get to vote) would pay for it. The latest is the SID (Special Improvement District). This is a plan or rather, a gentrification technique whereby “property owners would pay 7.5 percent of the tax rate applied to the 2016 real property taxable value, providing the district about $110,000 annually. The assessment would first appear on their 2018 property tax bill. The tax would last five years, but could be renewed for an additional five years.” “Property owners must petition city council to create the district. The petition must be signed by the owners of 60 percent of the frontage feet along public rights of way in the district, or 75 percent of the square footage of real property in the district.” (Downtown property owners asked to join new taxing district, The Newark Advocate, Kent Mallett , 5-22-17) “The goal is to use property tax assessments from those within the district to pay for services such as parking maintenance, safety and security, litter control, graffiti removal, visitor ambassadors, special projects and marketing.” One of this blog’s first entries was in March of 2013, Ownership Of Downtown Newark. That research covered the area of this Newark SID. It revealed that close to 24% of the “property owners” within the area were either government entities or religious ones (neither of which would be assessed). At that time Park National Bank owned nearly 10% of all this area property (banks in total about 13%). Which leaves less than two thirds of the property owners to pay the SID. Why is a SID an integral part of gentrification? To increase property values (for the non voting property owners of the district – in 2013 Analysis also found that of the remaining not government, religious, or bank property owners, few were individually named, most were corporate legal entities) rents need to be higher across the board (like the neglected house on the block determining neighborhood value). A SID does specifically that. As a tax, it increases the property owner’s costs which in turn increases the operating expense for any business located there. Marginally profitable businesses will exit as they did prior to the large scale construction of downtown several years ago. Ditto for any other renters (i.e. residential tenants). Upscale enterprises (with capital backing) move in and, Voila! The SID has functioned perfectly as planned. In the meantime Newark’s City Council will wrestle with the tsunami of legalized marijuana while this disenfranchised mandate will pass like shit through a duck.

Move Over Golden Calf, There Is A New American Idol

May 11, 2017

The other morning, as part of the ongoing reality TV show called Our Government, an interviewed Texas congressman justified the apprentice president’s firing of the FBI director by saying James Comey was getting too much face time on TV. As FBI director he shouldn’t be so popular. News broadcasters, who make up the interviewers, often attribute the apprentice president’s electability to popularity, on being a populist. Recently Ohio’s Secretary of State and newest Ohio Governor wannabe spoke in Newark on Monday the 8th (Husted addresses Newark GOP on Ohio governor’s race, Newark Advocate’s Sydney Murray, 5-10-17). Covering the speech Mr. Murray writes: “But before he entered a life of public service, he was adopted as a baby and grew up in a working class family in the small town of Montpelier, Ohio. At one point, Husted said his dad lost his job and they had to leave Ohio, something he doesn’t want for anyone else’s family. “I want to help Ohio. And more importantly the people, with a bright future, and no matter how you grew up, I wanna make sure that Ohio is a place where you can live the American Dream.” Husted said.” On 5-7-17, writing for McClatchy, Julie Carr Smyth headlines “Ohio elections chief Jon Husted joins 2018 race for governor”. Ms. Carr Smyth reports “Capitalizing on divisive remarks that came back to haunt high profile Democrats, the Republican says Barack Obama was right when he said midwesterners cling to religion and guns and that Husted’s family “would firmly fit in Hillary Clinton’s ‘basket of deplorables.’” Clinton used the reference in her presidential campaign against Donald Trump, whom Husted voted for.” Analysis of these short bits of insight shows that in addition to voting Jon Husted intends to emulate the apprentice president’s formula for success. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery! And like the apprentice president’s penchant for exaggeration and hyperbole, he likewise intends to outdo the current governor’s formula (being a mail man’s son from McKeesport Pa. aw shucks and all). Analysis finds this all creates a new form of reality show government, where the contestants for public office will each try to out populist the other. This revival of the American Idol campaign for popular support will leave the discerning electorate aghast at the derogatory costuming of contestants, the various made-up sets masquerading as the current conditions of the state of Ohio, capped by each idol’s uplifting songs of redemption for a future state-wide resurrection. “no matter how you grew up [with or without guns and religion], I wanna make sure that Ohio is a place where you can live the American Dream.” Amen.

What We Have Learned From The Past Election

May 3, 2017

No, not the one in 2016 (that’s so yesterday). The recent one this past Tuesday, May 2nd. But first, as an opening act, Analysis would like to go back a little to a pre-election announcement, one not directly concerned with “local” politics (though all politics is local). On April 21st The Newark Advocate reported local civil engineers Jobes Henderson’s upcoming change of ownership. Actually the announcement was more in terms of their leaving the business on account of that pesky old ACA (Health insurance costs factor in Jobes Henderson sale Kent Mallett , Reporter). But the buried lead in the article was that they were being bought out by Hull and Associates which itself didn’t seem to be too bothered by that pesky old ACA (well, not enough to keep them from growing larger by buying out Jobes Henderson). Hmmmm, curious how business and the market work. Back to the election which is already in progress (CNN refused to run a political ad for the 2020 re-election of the current apprentice, er, president). The events of this past Tuesday refuted the leadership of Licking County’s own “brand” Commissioner (and the Advocate’s go to commission spokesperson), Tim Bubb. A minor, within the GOP family, dust up occurred between County Auditor Mike Smith and the commish. Seems the commissioner took it for granted that the business of government is business, and assumed 911 services are not unlike parks, aging or disability services, to be franchised separately by the county. Au contraire said Mr. Smith shortly before the election (Analysis finds it is always better late than never). The business of county government IS social concerns, and services like 911 are just that. The levy proposal was just a property tax increase dressed up like a township fire or school levy (and we all know what happens when you mix lipstick and pigs). The voters, those who bothered to vote, agreed. What we’ve learned: That capitalism is about capital. That the market is predicated on capital, and not social concerns (remember Jobes Henderson?). That government is about social concerns and services – keeping the water safe to drink, ensuring that sewage disposal is treated properly, maintaining public health and safety in more ways than that (including police, fire, emergency rescue and their dispatch), etc. May 3rd NPR’s Market Place reported, as a side bar, that on account of the current environment of mergers and takeovers, even large companies like General Mills are taking steps to avoid getting gobbled up (both literally and figuratively) (well, OK, they want their products gobbled up, literally). Mr. Bubb has been the champion of public subsidy for business and the market through everything from tax credits, specialized individual infrastructure improvements, to funding Grow Licking County, Newark Port Authority, yadda, yadda while cutting services in public transportation, Jobs and Family Services, housing and public health. With the recent election Analysis finds an inkling of discernment. The business of government isn’t “all about jobs.” The business of government is not to subsidize and fund the market. The business of government is social service, and government needs to address that concern.

Encore (Non) Performance

April 19, 2017

“Ensuring that we have the basics in place — fiscal strength, lower taxes, proper regulation — opens the door for us to sell our state across the nation and across the world.” (Ohio’s current Governor John Kasich in his 4-4-17 State of the State address). Future Ohio Governor wannabe (but current Ohio Attorney General) Mike DeWine addressed the opioid epidemic in Pickerington recently (DeWine would require opioid education as governor Trista Thurston , Reporter for Gannett’s Lancaster Eagle-Gazette, 4-19-17). The current governor touted his Start Talking initiative as counter acting the opioid drug epidemic in Ohio. The wannabe governor touts a mandatory K through 12 “Just Say No” curriculum to counteract the epidemic (following the trail of tears footsteps of Nancy Reagan and Ohio’s DARE program). “”I don’t know any other way of doing it,” DeWine said. “It can be done without a great burden on the schools.”” Another unfunded mandate on Ohio’s public schools (sans charter/private) embraces the current governor’s three basics (fiscal strength, lower taxes, proper regulation). In addition, Thurston notes “The communities faring the best throughout the epidemic, DeWine said, are the ones where people have watched it get so bad and decided to do something themselves.” (without state involvement, or cost). DeWine sees the state’s role in terms of his recently begun pilot program, “Since about half of the children in foster care throughout the state are there because one or both parents are addicted to drugs”. “The pilot program will provide specialized services, like intensive trauma counseling, to children. It will also offer increased access to drug treatment to parents of children referred to the program.” “So far $5.5 million has been committed to the pilot.” In his State of the State Governor Kasich committed $20 million from the Third Frontier Commission to develop a high tech silver bullet solution [no pun intended]. “The current opioid crisis is different than other drug epidemics, DeWine said, because it’s impacting everyone.” Thurston concludes her report by quoting the wannabe governor: “”We have a crisis,” DeWine said. “If ten people were dying a day of some strange new plague, we would treat is as a health crisis.”” So why don’t you? What’s stopping you? Analysis finds that treatment for a public health crisis of this dimension would be in terms of beds in detox and rehab centers, beds that were immediately accessible. It would be in state budgeted funding for all the children affected by the loss of caregivers produced by this epidemic (essentially Ohio’s new orphans), not just a pilot enterprise. It certainly wouldn’t emphasize nor rely on high tech silver bullet solutions, K-12 curriculum additions, or Start Talking programs.

The State Of The State Of Ohio’s Opioid Epidemic

April 6, 2017

A blizzard of angst filled soul searching follows the presidential election, current administration, continuing to this day with “how did this happen?” Etc. Many are not so surprised, more bemused in that all of this was in plain sight. Intentions as well as actions today are simply a continuance of what was stated, promised, and actively displayed before. ‘Nuff said. Within his recent (4-4-17) State of the State address, Ohio’s Governor John Kasich’s lips pronounced “Ensuring that we have the basics in place — fiscal strength, lower taxes, proper regulation — opens the door for us to sell our state across the nation and across the world.” This mantra was repeated multiple times, even more through fragments. Sounds pretty clear. No mystification of priorities, intent, or course of action here. He also had this to say about Ohio’s Opioid drug epidemic, though he didn’t call it that (Name thing I guess. Been there, done that with the current pres’): “Last year, Highway Patrol troopers had their largest single heroin, meth and prescription pill seizures. Ohio was one of the first states to create prescribing guidelines for doctors. We’ve linked our medical providers into our pharmacy system to slow doctor shopping and for the first time we’re registering pharmacy technicians. We’ve expanded access to the overdose-reversal drug to first responders, pharmacies and families of those addicted. And we created Start Talking! to encourage more adults to talk to children about the dangers of drugs. In all, we’re spending nearly $1 billion a year.” And “That’s why today I’m asking the Third Frontier Commission to provide up to $20 million to help bring new scientific breakthroughs to the battle against drug abuse and addiction. These funds will target existing, proven ideas that simply need an extra push to be brought to the fight — ideas like using a simple device that connects to someone’s ear that can relieve pain and block the effects of opiate withdrawal.” Finally “We love our children and care about our neighbors, so we’ve got to deliver this message to them: “Don’t do drugs or you will destroy your life and you will destroy the purpose for which the good Lord created you.”” Not a word, or dollar, for rehabilitation. Analysis considers the implications of this abdication of leadership, the vacuum formed by Kasich’s overriding priorities, intent, and course of action. Indeed, historically US public health epidemics have been met by an equally public response of sanatoriums, recovery centers, and public health initiatives (all notably absent with the governor’s approach). History has lectured us extensively on what happens in a leadership vacuum (South East Asia, Syria/Iraq, Afghanistan, etc.). Add to that Kasich and the GOP’s historic preference (and reliance) on a religious response to education, social welfare and public health concerns. Here is some of what Kevin Lewis O’Neill writes in an essay entitled “On Hunting” (Critical Inquiry Spring 2017):

““We hunt men,” Alejandro said, “to save them.” Locked up inside a Pentecostal drug rehabilitation center for his use of crack cocaine, Alejandro participates in his pastor’s hunting parties or grupos de caceria. At the outer edges of today’s war on drugs, Christian vigilante groups scour the streets of Guatemala City with singular intent: to pull users out of sin by dragging them into rehab. And so, in the middle of the night, when the capital is an absolute ghost town, three or four recovering users drive with their pastor to the house of an active user.” “As a part of economic restructuring – which has included the privatization of state enterprises, the liberalization of trade, and the relaxation of government regulation [sound familiar?]– less than 2 percent of Guatemala’s total health budget addresses issues of mental health, with its hospitals flatly denying medical service to those patients seeking support for substance abuse.” “Pentecostal drug rehabilitation centers, when taken in the aggregate, have six thousand beds.” “Guatemala’s prisons sit at 250 percent capacity; the hospitals do not accept users; and Guatemala’s only mental institution understands drug use to be well outside the scope of its mission.” “More important than numbers, however, are the visceral truths that Pentecostal Christianity promises its people: Salvation is real; hell is eternal; and Jesus loves you. Another imperative also follows. Often stamped onto Pentecostal print media, with an allusion to sin as well as the hunt, it announces: escape for your life. One effect of this faith is a growing network of informal and largely unregulated Pentecostal drug rehabilitation centers. These sites warehouse users against their will inside of onetime garages, factories, and apartment buildings. Each has been repurposed for rehabilitation with razor wire, steel bars, and iron gates. Inside, pastors practice teoterapia, or theological therapy. This is a mix of Pentecostal theology, twelve-step programming, and self-help psychology. Its working assumption is that captivity will give way to conversion. It does not. Yet this bald fact has not slowed down the growth of these centers, and for good reason. Again, these centers provide a practical solution to a concrete problem. Drug use is up. State resources are down. And Pentecostalism is the discourse of change. [Sound familiar?] The net result is a shadow carceral system infused with Pentecostal imperatives about not just sin and salvation but also about who can be hunted and why. It is a theological construction that carries concrete consequences. Today more Guatemalans find themselves literally tied up in Pentecostal drug rehabilitation centers than locked up in maximum-security prisons.” Lest the reader think that, not being Pentecostal or Guatemalan, Ohio’s Governor along with the current US Attorney General are not in the hunt. Au contraire, “there are some thirty thousand men in Philadelphia alone with warrants out for their arrest.” (O’Neill)

Unedited

April 4, 2017

Analysis goes short. The Abra Cadabra of headline juxtaposition on the front page of the 4-4-17 Newark Advocate was irresistible. The large cap “Kasich, Others Tout New Amazon Center” directly over the smaller cap “Licking Co. files foreclosure on Longaberger Basket” invites “Now you see it. Now you don’t.” Meanwhile, back at the ranch, the Advocate’s new editor came out this past week. No big surprise in that it was the interim news editor, Ben Lanka. He even took the time to pen a personal column to introduce himself. Unnoticed (or should we say Un-edited) was the disappearance of the editorial/opinion section from the everyday, week day paper. Great for Gannett’s bottom line. Terrible for Newark’s readers’ need to know (you know, “Inquiring minds” and all). Gone are divergent points of view columns. Also the editorial cartoons (another reason for why “editorial cartoonist” has vanished from high school career day). And finally, absent and forever gone is the editorial itself, once a point of pride for most publications, expressive of the local news outlet’s leadership role in the community. But hey, Newark now has a new editor for its paper. As he puts it, “I’ve always believed as a journalist my most important role is to give a voice to the voiceless and to hold those in power accountable.” Analysis indicates that, without an everyday editorial/opinion page, this has the potential of being more magical than Penn and Teller!

We Report, You Decide

March 29, 2017

 

Obamacare will implode. So say the GOP president, congressional representatives and local enthusiasts. The popular media focuses on the incongruity of 8 years active oppositions, and over 60 legislative bills to end the Affordable Care Act. And yet it remains “the law of the land.” Stephen Koff of cleveland.com thinks otherwise. In a 3-29-17 article entitled “Did Republicans sabotage Obamacare? Ohio insurers owed $100M they’ll likely never see” he looks at how any success was undermined in advance. Analysis finds this to be worthwhile, especially considering that the current chief executive interprets government to be by decree, without regard of legislative involvement or intent. Most of his priorities are being promulgated and enforced by executive order. As the chief executive, he would differ little from his predecessors in eliding enforcement of existing laws. Could the implosion of the ACA be one of them? Mr. Koff points out that the ACA, like the expansion of Medicare prescription drug benefits during the Bush presidency, relied on government underwriting of risk for its initial years of operation. “One way of protecting them involved a concept known as a risk corridor, a way to guard insurers against inaccurate projections. At the ACA’s full start in 2014 no one truly knew what the enrollment mix would be — young, old, healthy, sick — and how much insurers would have to spend on medical care.” Koff explains “With risk corridors, insurers made their best estimates when they priced their policies and offered them for sale. The projections were based on actuarial principles and double-checked by state insurance officials and HHS. If insurer projections turned out to be wrong even after all that checking and a company made a big gain, the company would have to share part of it with the losers through the risk corridor program, maintained by the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, or CMS, a division of HHS.” But a funny thing happened on the way to affordable healthcare, “Under risk-corridor rules, no company would give up all its gains, and no company would be able to recoup all its losses. But it could recoup enough to stay in business.” “Obamacare passed narrowly when Democrats had majorities in Congress. Republicans never liked it. So in 2014, as both parties hurried to pass a year-end spending measure that was already overdue, Republicans managed to work in a small but meaningful change to the Obamacare rules — specifically, the risk corridor rules. They required that the risk corridors be self-funding, or what is known as budget neutral. That meant any money paid out to insurers would have to come from money coming in from other insurers. Key to this: CMS would not be permitted to draw from other accounts if the risk corridors lacked enough money. Democrats arguably left themselves open to this change by not being more specific when drafting the ACA. Yet it’s clear Republicans knew this would create problems. Some even bragged about it.” The article quotes one of Ohio’s Senators: “”There’s no question,” said U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, an Ohio Democrat, “that efforts to undermine the ACA’s risk corridors program drove insurers out of Ohio’s marketplace and starved our state’s CO-OP of the resources it needed to get off the ground, leading to less competition and higher prices for consumers.”” Newark’s 12th congressional district’s representative chose to address his constituents through a spokesperson: “”Obamacare is fundamentally flawed,” Olivia Hnat, spokeswoman for Rep. Pat Tiberi, said when asked about Republicans using the risk corridors to undermine Obamacare. Tiberi is on the House Ways and Means Committee and chairs its subcommittee on health. “The individual mandate is failing to patients in the marketplace,” Hnat said. “No matter how much the government subsidizes care or props up the insurance market, the individual mandate hasn’t worked and it is just one reason why Obamacare is on an unsustainable path.”” Analysis concludes with the article’s beginning. “The provision slipped into a spending bill in late 2014, after the Affordable Care Act was under way, restricted the government in making payments. As a result, some insurers have been forced to pare down their medical networks, cut their markets or leave Obamacare altogether — contributing to the higher premiums for customers and insurer withdrawals that Republicans point to as proof of the program’s failure. Republicans say they were just preventing an ill-advised insurer bailout because, they say, Obamacare was bound to fail. But Democrats and some health policy analysts say Republicans purposely sabotaged the Affordable Care Act by denying promised payments to insurers at a crucial time.” Analysis ends with those inimitable words of Fox News: “We report, you decide”