Archive for the ‘Newark Ohio’ Category

Letting The Terrorists Win

October 7, 2017

In Texas, a Defiant Mood at an Outdoor Music Festival headlined a New York Times article by David Montgomery (10-6-17).  The Austin City Limits festival opened Friday (10-6-17) in Austin Texas, the first such event following the recent terrorist attack on another music festival in Las Vegas (Yes Virginia, Timothy McVeigh was a terrorist).  Analysis finds notable: “On Friday afternoon, among music lovers and families with strollers flowing into Zilker Park on the shores of the Colorado River, the mood was partly defiant and partly alert and attentive. But mostly, people were unflappable.” “Sandee Fenton, spokeswoman for the festival, said organizers expected 75,000 people in the park each day, with a total of 225,000 fans this weekend. The group offered refunds to anyone who was concerned about attending, but did not say how many were claimed.” “Just inside the entrance Friday afternoon, Joe Dickie and his wife, Beth Cottey, discussed with their son and a friend whether they should go see a performance by Willie Nelson’s son, or a rock band called Royal Blood. The family, who hails from Austin, has come to nearly every Austin City Limits event since its inception in 2002. Mr. Dickie, a technical consultant, said that the four had debated this year whether to attend. “So now that one crazy person has done that, it might inspire somebody else,” he said, referring to the tragedy in Las Vegas. But in the end, he said, the decision was easy. “We feel very secure,” he said. “We’re not going to let it ruin our good time.”” Montgomery quotes Tyler Costolo, 25, who flew in from Boca Raton Florida: ““I’m kind of the opinion things like that shouldn’t change your life,” said Mr. Costolo, wearing a white T-shirt with the name of the band The Front Bottoms. “At that point, you’re letting those kinds of things win.”” None of this would be at all unusual to residents of Israel, France, United Kingdom, Spain, etc. After terrorist attacks that have occurred there one continuously hears (and re hears) the refrain that by showing up, going on with the everyday activities disrupted by the terrorists, one keeps the terrorists from winning. In Newark Ohio there is a different response to the ominous terrorist threat. Newark’s only downtown park, the Newark version of Central Park, surrounds the historic (and recently restored) county courthouse. Previously benches and picnic tables provided relaxing spots for get togethers amid majestic trees on a neatly tended grass lawn. There was even a spacious gazebo for larger organized gatherings. Now we read: “The picnic tables, where downtown employees often ate their lunches or people played cards in the evening, will not return, the mayor [Jeff Hall] said. Security concerns, Hall said, played into the decision to avoid having people sitting at tables, with backpacks, near the government building. Instead, there are more benches, which are further away from the building. The gazebo will be stored for the winter and appear next year on the lawn of the former Children’s Home site, at 771 E. Main St. Private donations will be used to move and store the gazebo.” (Gazebo to move from courthouse grounds to former children’s home site Kent Mallett, The Advocate, 9-26-17). Analysis concludes with that marvelous premonitory quote regarding Newark’s central park by Ryan Bubb in yesterday’s Advocate: “”It’s going to be back better than it was,” he said.” (Newark Council: Gazebo should stay, but will it? Editor Benjamin Lanka,10-6-17)

 

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Polarization And Gerrymandering

October 6, 2017

Analysis finds there to be endless speculation, with statistical backing, on “the polarization of America” on the majority of issues facing our children’s future. Whether this is a readily available handle on the news by the news media, or “fake news” promoted by tech savvy raconteurs (both foreign and domestic), or is actually so but impossible to grasp unless you are a main frame computer is a contemporary puzzle. The US Supreme Court is currently hearing a case questioning Wisconsin’s political redistricting. Labeled gerrymandering, the issue is rather one of domination than polarization. Locally, in Newark Ohio, we have the destruction of the courthouse square gazebo which ostensibly is part of the City of Newark’s public domain but sits adjacent the Licking County Courthouse (also a public domain but of the county, not city). Confused? It is all akin to the township trustee positions that some municipal voters get to vote on even though unaffected by any township adjudication. Where is the gerrymandering and polarization in all this when it comes to the Newark City Council, Mayor Jeff Hall, and the voting residents of Newark? A recent editorial, er, report by the Advocate editor, Benjamin Lanka, may shed some light on this (since obviously no one would admit to polarization in Newark let alone gerrymandering with the ward districting supplemented by at large representatives). Entitled “Newark Council: Gazebo should stay, but will it?” (10-6-17) it paints a rather ambiguous picture (THAT is an understatement!). In a nut shell, Lanka goes out of his way to survey each council representative and their views on the matter. All, save one, would prefer the gazebo remain and not be destroyed. All plead powerlessness to stopping Mayor Hall’s action (but for discretely polarized reasons!). The “save one” is none other than Licking County Commissioner Tim Bubb’s son, Ryan Bubb. In the past, Ryan would have been given the benefit of doubt with regard to nepotism, but with the age of the Kushners being part and parcel of the White House administration, the doubt itself is more than doubtful. Commenters to Lanka’s editorial, er, reporting raised the obvious. When Lanka writes “The costs of moving and restoring the gazebo are being paid by private donors.” They ask “who are the private donors?” Analysis speculates it is probably a public private partnership (like JobsOhio) which is not obligated to disclose their “private” parts (so fashionable these days!). Investigative reporting is not this particular Advocate reporter’s forte. Lanka concludes his editorial, er, article by quoting Ryan Bubb: “”It’s going to be back better than it was,” he said.” Priceless! Analysis finds the gerrymandering and polarization of Newark to be a little more readily apparent when one asks a simple question – why has no one suggested (publicly voiced) recalling the mayor if he continues with his administrative action counter the people’s will? All of a sudden the polarization jumps out. The ambiguity of the GOP representative’s we’d-like-it-to-stay-but (“Would I like to see it stay? Absolutely,” Frazier said. “That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t respect the authority of the mayor.”) is obviously inevitable (an acknowledgement of the little man behind the curtain in Oz). It is what comes after the “but” that makes for the affirmative statement (we still abide by the GOP power structure). The reticence of the Democratic candidates to generate any action to save the gazebo (initiate a recall) points to the de facto gerrymandering (their very powerlessness). Their positions within their districts are none too secure. Analysis finds (on the national level) talk, reporting and commentary on gerrymandering and polarization to be often times, if not most of the time, couched in terms of economics. However, as the Newark gazebo shows, polarization and gerrymandering are about those who have power, and those who are lorded over. We will have our way because we can. And in this case, we can make the gazebo disappear. “It’s going to be back better than it was.” Now THAT’S power!

How Citizens United Matters In Newark Ohio

October 3, 2017

“Residents rally against move of gazebo from Courthouse Square” headlined today in the Advocate (Kent Mallett, 10-3-17). “Gazebo” will get tagged while “residents” will be taken for granted. After all, residents of a neighborhood association, block watch or school zone will often times coordinate to demand/petition council to address a safety concern, traffic situation, etc. And council will needs be attentive as residents vote, whether they own property or not. They reside in the voting precinct. Who else is there to vote? With Newark City Council’s recent passage of the downtown SID a curious twist has appeared in the neighborhood/council relationship. Essentially, the SID has created a “neighborhood association” which not only can demand/petition council equitably with any other Newark neighborhood, but has the added advantage of being semi-autonomous. The “persons” in this neighborhood are self-governing, something other Newark residential neighborhoods don’t enjoy. Membership has nothing to do with residency, and everything to do with property ownership. The “residents” of this neighborhood are likewise not voters (people with the capacity to vote). They likewise needn’t even reside in Newark (or Licking County for that matter). And yet they can make decisions as to the way their neighborhood is to be. Just as “old MacDonald had a farm” is a complete fabrication of the nature of farms and farming in the US today, so is the sole proprietor, owner-operator “mom and pop” account of business owners and business in downtown Newark. The vast majority of properties owned, businesses owned and conducted are within the structure of corporation (check deed title listings at the county engineers/recorders if you’d like. There is a map that lists who owns which parcel. Few of the names are individual entities). And as we all know, corporations are entities that exist “solely in contemplation of the law.” And thus do not vote. But wait, the highest court in the land ruled that they are “persons” (Citizens United ruling). So, as persons, they can politically organize, be semi-autonomous, and self-govern their neighborhood. What is the cost of admission to this neighborhood association? Well, exactly that. If you have money to spend, you are welcome downtown. Just passing through, keep moving (to another neighborhood). Don’t bring your own picnic to enjoy under the trees, or let the kids run around on the grass, or gather at the Gazebo. Grass, picnic tables and Gazebo are not part of the business plan for these “persons”. From Mallett: “The mayor said the Canal Market Plaza, opened last year just south of the Square, is a better place for concerts and community events, allowing performers and the audience to be under roof, out of the rain or sun. Hall did not attend the council meeting as he was home sick.” “Safety Director Steve Baum explained the gazebo is not compliant with the Americans With Disabilities Act, and its presence has become a security issue. “There are problems with homeless people sleeping under it, on it, around it,” Baum said. “Security is not the same for government buildings anymore. Our courthouse lawn is not necessarily the site for certain venues.”” Mallett quotes Carol Floyd, D-7th Ward who inadvertently blurts out what everyone knows but denies: “”I do not want us to become a community of ‘them’ and ‘us.’ I want to be an inclusive community that welcomes everybody, not us — the nice, normal people that don’t want the homeless or those who don’t have very much.” Thanks to the workings of Citizens United, the SID facilitates the downtown neighborhood’s charging admission. Well, OK, no ticket or reservation required. But you’d better bring a credit card or cash.

Another Kim K Fundraiser

September 29, 2017

We are all familiar with the yearly Fed Up! rally and its continuous mantra of addiction is a disease. Even the medical profession recognizes this and has designated addiction treatment a specialization, like cardiology, rheumatology. We likewise are aware of and applaud the first step initiative of the Newark NARI program. “President Trump said last month that he will officially declare the opioid crisis a “national emergency,” but he has yet to issue a formal declaration. The commission chaired by Christie has called on Trump to take such a step. An initial report from the President’s Commission on Combating Drug Abuse and the Opioid Crisis noted that the approximately 142 deaths each day from drug overdoses mean the death toll from the epidemic is “equal to September 11th every three weeks.”” (First lady listens and learns about opioid crisis, Darlene Superville, AP 9-26-17). “Opioid epidemic” is not hard to understand though incredibly hard (and costly) to treat. So the 9-26-17 Newark Advocate headline, Commissioners get judge’s approval on federal lawsuit against opioid distributors (Kent Mallett) is welcome news indeed. “The commissioners obtained on Thursday the approval of Licking County Common Pleas Court Judge David Branstool to use outside counsel to file the lawsuit against the country’s three largest wholesale drug distributors: McKesson Corp., Cardinal Health, Inc. and AmerisourceBergen Drug Corp.” “[LC Prosecutor Bill] Hayes said last week the goal of the lawsuit is to force distributors to better regulate the drugs and help in the resolution of the opioid epidemic. Any settlement money could be used for law enforcement and treatment facilities, Hayes said.” “The Licking County Coroner’s office reports 20 confirmed drug overdose deaths this year, as of Sept. 12, in the county. At least 11 were the result of opiates or opiates combined with other drugs. There were 17 confirmed drug overdose deaths in the county in all of 2016. The county commissioners last week approved resolutions declaring opioids a public epidemic and authorizing prosecution against the distributors. “We are taking this action today because the costs of this opioid crisis have overwhelmed our ability to provide for the health and safety of our residents,” [LC Commissioner Duane] Flowers said in a written statement. “Homes have been broken and families torn apart by this epidemic, which has claimed victims from all walks of life.”” Notice the slippage? For those of you keeping score at home Attorney General Jeff Sessions is often referred to as the nation’s top cop. Mini me prosecutor Bill Hayes fills a parallel capacity in Licking County. And Bill is no fan of NARI, indeed has come out against it in his 2016 election campaign (and has yet to appear at a FED UP! rally). Yet Mallet writes “Any settlement money could be used for law enforcement and treatment facilities, Hayes said.” Sounds a lot like a Kim K fundraiser where 90% of contributions may go to law enforcement and 10% to treatment. Analysis wonders where the epidemic is.

Duck Soup

September 26, 2017

From this blog’s 6-1-17 posting (El SID And The Poppies): “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.” The Newark news of today and the past week confirms this. From the Newark Advocate these headlines “Newark City Council rejects medical marijuana zoning proposal” (9-26-17), “Gazebo to move from courthouse grounds to former children’s home site” (9-26-17). Prior to that “Special tax coming for downtown Newark after Newark City Council approval” (9-21-17) and “Parking around Licking County Courthouse — ‘bad idea’ or ‘a winner’” (9-22-17). In the 9-26 Gazebo article Kent Mallett writes “The Children’s Home was demolished in 2013. It was built in 1886, serving as a county children’s home before it was decommissioned in the 1970s. It later housed county offices and a medical clinic before closing in 2009.” Sub-context to Mallett’s historic context is that justification for relocating the county jail to a “new” building on East Main was that the old jail was encrusted with black mold – impossible to eradicate (and therefore unhealthy). In 2009 commissioners chose to neglect upkeep on the Children’s Home while maintaining the “old” jail for storage. A central decision maker resulting in the Children’s Home being demolished and the “old” jail being maintained was current commissioner Tim Bubb. In the 9-22 Parking article Mallett again provides context. After reporting the meeting location as the Double Tree hotel, he states “The meeting, by Newark Development Partners community improvement corporation, included several small group discussions and reports, and presentation of a downtown parking study by OHM Advisors, a Columbus architecture, engineering and planning firm.” No decision has been made regarding the proposal promoted by NDP. Analysis finds the 9-26 Gazebo article indicates otherwise. Again Mallett, “Bubb added, “It was the only place in downtown you could do a performance. Now, the Canal Market provides a much better venue. The gazebo, in my observation, lived its life as a performance venue.”” Analysis discovers this to be the same authority on the “life” (and death) of the Children’s Home. Sub context on the Canal Market goes back to these same days (of jail, Children’s Home, and square renovation). The Canal Market was the “dream’ of a local philanthropist who controlled the essential property (adjacent the “old” jail). Analysis surmises he would not commit to “renovate” this property and materialize his dream unless the surrounding county/city did likewise (parking garage construction being the initial goodwill gesture). No coincidence that the jail was saved while the Home disappeared (and the jail as a public transportation hub was completely dissed). No coincidence that moving the gazebo was sooo important at the start of the courthouse renovation. At the time Newark resident appeal prevented the earlier move, now in play for projected parking space. In the 9-21 Special Tax article Maria DeVito writes “Now that the district has been approved by council, the next step is to create a board of people who will run the district, Ernest said. The board will have five people on it. Three who are voted on by the property owners within the district, one appointed by the mayor and one appointed by city council, Ernest said. It will be up to the board members to decide what the district should use the money for each year out of the parameters that have been set up by the district, which include services such as parking enforcement, safety and security, litter control, graffiti removal, visitor ambassadors, special projects and marketing, Ernest said.” Analysis finds this to be the same Fred Ernest, head of the Newark Development Partners (integral to downtown gentrification). Analysis finds that nowhere in this convoluted history of manipulation of public spaces, public funding, and public “interest” is there any voter input. Nowhere is there resident input. The parking meeting like the much earlier courthouse square design meeting were both held at the hotel, a member of the NPD (not at a public space like the library, school auditorium, etc.). While Rome burns (or in this case is gentrified) those elected to represent the residents of Newark are more concerned with nitpicking marijuana distribution center location (“The state has already prohibited dispensaries from being located within 500 feet of a school, church, public library, public playground or public park. Mangus’ proposal also would have prohibited dispensaries from being 500 feet from a residentially zoned area.” “Fraizer would also like for dispensaries to not be allowed with 1,000 feet of a school, church, public library, public playground or public park.” 9-26 Council Rejects). More circus? “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.”

What We Have Learned

September 22, 2017

The sports news usually runs a headline like “What we have learned after week two of the NFL (or NBA, etc.).” Analysis finds news of the last few weeks to be fast and furious, and all over the map. Indeed, much news focuses on one “event” while ongoing events simply are elided. So what have we learned in the last couple of weeks of news? One thing for sure is that Americans have learned that news coverage is a professional activity. No, not the high esteem for journalistic excellence that used to sell print productions, but at least that hurricanes and what they leave behind are not “fake news.” This implies that those reporting it are not a fake news service. All of which enabled not only Rand Paul but the AP to run a headline story like “Trump hits GOP foes of health bill, Sen. Paul calls it fake” (9-22-17). We have learned that Newark’s Jay Hottinger will speak at a FED UP! rally while sponsoring stand your ground legislation and House Representative Pat Tiberi will speak at the same rally while legislating to get rid of Medicaid (where’s the fake in all this?).  We have learned that even though (factually) over 40% of residential housing in Newark is non-owner occupant, the city council of Newark would prefer that those persons owning “real” property do the governing, whether they reside in Newark or are even flesh and blood people with a birthday (Special tax coming for downtown Newark after Newark City Council approval, The Advocate, Maria DeVito, 9-21-17). We’ve learned that local, state or national, we prefer our administrators to be wealthy.  We’ve learned that if the administration’s cabinet is made up of billionaire’s appointed on the sole qualification of being determined to undermine that office, well, it actually happens (be it with Devos, Sessions, Price, Perry, etc.). A curious thing we’ve been learning but continue to deny is the importance of branding. Anything of Obama origin is quickly dismissed, replaced by the self-same policy or directive only now with the apprentice president’s specific logo on it (like the apprentice president’s Houston visit ball caps). DACA, Korea, Syria, health care all roll on with the self same administration, only a different brand name. We’ve learned categorically that this is because there is no “plan”. There is no plan for DACA (limbo was never imagined as a “plan”), there is no plan for the Syrian imbroglio (still the same US involvement as before the change of administration), no plan to confront, contain or reduce rising healthcare costs (let alone create greater inclusion), no plan to deal with the Korean peninsula (unless one defines playground name calling as a strategy). And now, on a near nightly basis we are learning about pop culture’s definitive version of the Viet Nam War (The Vietnam War: A film by Ken Burns & Lynn Novick – PBS). What we haven’t learned, yet, is that there is no definitive version of history – something the recent brouhaha over confederate monuments reinforces (that they were manufactured and installed for historically different reasons at historically different times). Much of what is now revelatory in Novick’s and Burns’s flick, was contemporary news at the time it happened. Then it wasn’t labeled “fake”, but rather dismissed as irrelevant or outright denied. What we have learned is that current climate change denial, racism in America denial, income gap disparity denial, health care denial, all parallel the historic denials of the Ike through tricky Dick era that the Burns Novick film covers. After all, isn’t that what we have learned?

The New Normal

August 31, 2017

The average citizen resident of Newark pays income tax, and more, and in return expects competent administration of city services like road access, police and fire protection, water, sewer, etc. etc. Not unusual. Residents of municipalities have never had reason to think twice about whether an inappropriately parked car will be ticketed, a vandalized street sign will be repaired, a littered and overgrown lot will be rectified, or that their duly compensated mayor will represent the city as the best there is. Now we read this by the Advocate’s Maria DeVito: “Newark Development Partners board members are seeking to create the district and have gathered permission from the required 60 percent of property owners in the area. The goal is to use property tax assessments from those within the district to pay for services such as parking enforcement, safety and security, litter control, graffiti removal, visitor ambassadors, special projects and marketing. If approved, 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 by the property owners. (New downtown property tax gets initial approval from Newark council, 8-29-17). This is the Special Improvement District Analysis covered in past postings. DeVito’s final words include: “If council approves the district, property owners then elect property owners within the district to a leadership board. The district board determines how much of the available money is devoted to the various services.” On 8-30-17 The Miami Herald’s Kristen M. Clark headlined “DeVos had a public agenda for Florida schools meetings … and a private one”. From the report: “A day after visiting a private religious school and a public charter school in Tallahassee, U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos spent Wednesday speaking behind closed doors with various education stakeholders, business leaders and advocates in Florida’s capital city. The events were not disclosed on DeVos’ public schedule, as her office deemed them “private” activities.” “Meanwhile, DeVos’ office also did not disclose — nor offer a readout of — a meeting reportedly held earlier Wednesday with about a dozen leaders of business, higher education and advocacy organizations at the Florida Chamber of Commerce. The News Service of Florida reported that DeVos had a “warm reception” there and urged the leaders to “double down” on efforts to expand choices for students in kindergarten through 12th grade.” “She also urged a rethinking of the federal government’s role in the education system. “I think that there’s been an outsized footprint in the last couple, three decades on the part of the federal government in education,” she said. “And it’s my goal to extract us from a lot of those spaces. I will welcome your thoughts on what we need to be doing less of. And if there are areas to be doing more of, what are those areas?”” Shortly after the inauguration Rolling Stone reported; “Betsy DeVos just bought herself a nice little cabinet position. On Tuesday afternoon, most Senate Republicans – all but Maine’s Susan Collins and Alaska’s Lisa Murkowski – voted to confirm the billionaire Amway heiress as secretary of education. It cost her $115,000 in personal donations to sitting Republican senators; $950,000 more has flowed in from the DeVos family over the last three-and-a-half decades. And another $8.3 million from the DeVoses has gone to Republican super PACs in the last two election cycles alone. Not cheap! But it got the job done. And no one should expect her family’s financial manipulation of Republican senators to stop there. In fact, if what the DeVoses have done in Michigan is any indication, she and her family are likely just getting started trying to buy Republican support for their radical agenda.” (Betsy DeVos Just Bought Herself a Trump Cabinet Position. She and her family are likely just getting started trying to buy Republican support for their radical education agenda by Tessa Stuart, 2-7-17). Pre-inauguration Politico headlined “Trump rewards big donors with jobs and access Contributors who met with Trump gave about $59 million in support of his campaign and other Republicans, averaging more than $800,000 per donor.” by Isaac Arnsdorf, 12-27-2016. Analysis indicates that America is abandoning government by the people, of the people, for the people in favor of a two tier system that embraces government by and for those who can afford to pay, with the rest becoming those serving, or rather, servicing this government. After all, we are constantly reminded of how we now have become a service driven economy. Newark’s downtown SID confirms the two tier system. This is now the new normal.

Licking County Has No Housing Problem

August 27, 2017

A seemingly mundane article headlined the 8-27-17 Sunday Advocate. County auditor may reject additional borrowing, cites state report by veteran Advocate journalist Kent Mallet reports on the fiscal condition of Licking County and its municipalities. Of note is “The state auditor’s financial health review of the 2016 performance of Ohio cities and counties shows Licking County government with 15 positive outlooks, one cautionary and one critical. The critical category is debt service expenditures to total revenue.” with the usual no problemo rebuttal “The commissioner [Tim Bubb] said he takes seriously the review from the state auditor, but maintains the county is in good financial shape. “It’s something we need to look at, but we’ve borrowed cautiously and have debt service capacity to repay it,” Bubb said. “If repayment was questionable, we probably wouldn’t have done the borrowing.”” Is it a problem? When is a problem a “problem”? Appearing the same day but requiring enormous commitment to read was an in depth Pro Publica/New York magazine publication entitled Is Anybody Home at HUD? By Alec MacGillis (8-27-17). The article describes a mini me version of the White House administration in terms of one of its cabinet positions – HUD. Along with the usual intrigues of nepotism and secrecy (press coverage suppression/manipulation) is a harrowing trail of fiscal activity. Analysis finds the article itself would justify its own post but must note only some of what is relevant: “HUD has long been something of an overlooked stepchild within the federal government. Founded in 1965 in a burst of Great Society resolve to confront the “urban crisis,” it has seen its manpower slide by more than half since the Reagan Revolution. (The HUD headquarters is now so eerily underpopulated that it can’t even support a cafeteria; it sits vacant on the first floor.) But HUD still serves a function that millions of low-income Americans depend on — it funds 3,300 public-housing authorities with 1.2 million units and also the Section 8 rental-voucher program, which serves more than 2 million families; it has subsidized tens of millions of mortgages via the Federal Housing Administration; and, through various block grants, it funds an array of community uplift initiatives.” Some giving rather ambiguous clarity as to the thinking, direction and leadership of its head, Ben Carson, would be: “On March 6 [2017], Carson arrived for his first day of work at headquarters. In introductory remarks to assembled employees, after he’d gotten the mic back from his wife, he surprised many by asking them to raise their hands and “take the niceness pledge.” He also went on a riff about immigrants arriving at Ellis Island, capped by this: “That’s what America is about, a land of dreams and opportunity. There were other immigrants who came here in the bottom of slave ships, worked even longer, even harder, for less. But they, too, had a dream that one day their sons, daughters, grandsons, granddaughters, great-grandsons, great-granddaughters, might pursue prosperity and happiness in this land.”” ““You know, governments that look out for property rights also tend to look out for other rights. You know, freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom of all the things that make America America. So it is absolutely foundational to our success … On Sunday, I was talking to a large group of children about what’s happening with rights in our country. These are kids who had all won a Carson Scholar [an award of $1,000 that Carson has sponsored since 1994], which you have to have at least a 3.75 grade-point average on a 4.0 scale and show that you care about other people, and I said you’re going to be the leaders of our nation and will help to determine which pathway we go down, a pathway where we actually care about those around us and we use our intellect to improve the quality of life for everyone, or the pathway where we say, “I don’t want to hear you if you don’t believe what I believe, I want to shut you down, you don’t have any rights.” This is a serious business right now where we are, that juncture in our country that will determine what happens to all of us as time goes on. But the whole housing concern is something that concerns us all.” [5-2-17 speech to the American Land Title Association]” with the more recent clarification “(Just last week, Carson said, in the wake of racially tinged violence in Charlottesville, that the controversy over Trump’s support of white supremacists there was “blown out of proportion” and echoed the president’s “both sides” language when referring to “hatred and bigotry.”)”. Oh, the fiscal element in all this – “After word emerged in early March that the White House was considering cutting as much as $6 billion from the department, Carson had sent a rare email to HUD employees assuring them that this was just a preliminary figure. But as it turned out, Carson, as a relative political outsider lacking strong connections to the administration, was out of the loop: The final proposal crafted by Trump budget director Mick Mulvaney called for cutting closer to $7 billion, 15 percent of its total budget. Participants in the Section 8 voucher program would need to pay at least 17 percent more of their income toward rent, and there’d likely be a couple hundred thousand fewer vouchers nationwide (and 13,000 fewer in New York City). Capital funding for public housing would be slashed by a whopping 68 percent — this, after years of cuts that, in New York alone, had left public-housing projects with rampant mold, broken elevators and faulty boilers.” The previous day (8-26-17), reporting for AP, Jeff Martin and Robert Ray headlined Homeless wary as Atlanta closes its last-resort shelter. Of note: “For decades, as many as 1,000 people with nowhere else to turn could come off the street at Peachtree and Pine, no questions asked. But years of litigation wore down the shelter’s operators. After epic battles against the city, tuberculosis, bed bugs and other hazards, the Metro Atlanta Task Force for the Homeless settled out of court and sold its enormous industrial building to Central Atlanta Progress, a downtown business group.” “Atlanta, however, is closing Peachtree-Pine without having first developed the capacity to replace it, said Anita Beaty, who retired six months ago as executive director of the task force. “It’s a terrible mistake,” Beaty said. “The forces in Atlanta who don’t want homeless people visible — and certainly not on Peachtree Street — are extremely powerful.” The shelter occupies some the most valuable real estate in the South, a few blocks from the 55-story Bank of America Plaza, the city’s tallest skyscraper. Its occupants mingle with business executives and theater patrons on a stretch of Peachtree that includes the iconic Fox Theatre and the Georgian Terrace Hotel, where Clark Gable and other Hollywood stars stayed for the Atlanta premiere of “Gone With The Wind.” “All they want to do is build high-price housing that most people are not going to be able to afford, and that’s not just down here — that’s everywhere in the country,” said Anthony Murphy, 68, who has lived at Peachtree-Pine since 2011.” And the concluding “Having “low-barrier” shelter beds available to people who have been told they can’t stay elsewhere is a matter of life and death, said Carl Hartrampf, who has run the task force since Beaty left. “I believe they’re going to find out they need more than they think.”” Analysis indicates likewise.

 

An Inconvenient Truth

August 19, 2017

August 9, 2017 Time’s Katy Reilly headlined Senator Suggests McCain Voted Against Obamacare Repeal Because of His Brain Tumor. “Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson, a Republican, suggested Tuesday that John McCain’s brain cancer diagnosis might have affected his decision to vote against GOP efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act. “Again, I’m not going to speak for John McCain. You know, he has a brain tumor right now, that vote occurred at 1:30 in the morning — some of that might have factored in,” Johnson said in an interview Tuesday on AM560 Chicago’s Morning Answer, which was published by CNN on Wednesday.” Evidence of McCain’s blood clot procedure that revealed a glioblastoma tumor were visible on his forehead above his left eye. Johnson’s speculation apparently stemmed from that physical evidence. But what if there was no scar, no visible interface with the presence of illness or medical procedure? Cleveland.com’s Peter Krouse headlines Cuyahoga County’s top judge, John J. Russo, and Prosecutor Michael O’Malley moving ahead on justice reform (8-18-17). “Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Administrative Judge John J. Russo asked a question of his audience on Friday at the City Club of Cleveland. What’s the largest hospital in Ohio? “The institution,” he said, before waiting for an answer. And by that he meant he meant jails and prisons. While a federal consent decree requires Cleveland police officers to become better trained at dealing with individuals with mental health issues, the county also is better served by having drop-off points where police can take those individuals in lieu of jail. Russo said Common Pleas Judge Hollie Gallagher and County Law Director Robert Triozzi are among those working to bring support services to those drop-off points and that a model in use in Broward County, Fla., will be studied.” Analysis found this from the Broward County’s Policy 508 (updated May 17): “The purpose of this policy is to direct Department sworn personnel through a continuum when handling situations involving individuals in need of mental health services, especially in cases where an arrest may not be the best course of action. When an officer responds to a mentally ill person call or during the course of any investigation determines that they are dealing with a mentally ill person, they may initiate any of the following procedures. The goals of the Mental Health Policy are to provide immediate response to and management of situations where the mentally ill are in a state of crisis; prevent, reduce and/or eliminate injury to both the consumer and the responding officer; find appropriate care for consumers; reduce consumer recidivism and to insure the individual receives the proper mental health services and the proper diversionary steps are taken for the safety and welfare of the mentally ill person or others.” This is something that Newark, along with Licking County and its prosecutor, would be well advised to consider. After all, most illness does not announce itself with a mark on the forehead. Is it the business of the police to consider the nature of a disturbance? Do they need to be trained in that? Are we asking them to be more sensitive, more insightful than ordinary citizens? Analysis finds these questions very relevant. Answering them might reveal an inconvenient truth (to quote past VP Gore). Reporting the same day for the same cleveland.com, Eric Heisig headlines Akron federal Judge John Adams investigation explores the line between meanness and possible mental illness. From that report: “These [various previous stated] events, along with other antisocial behavior are chronicled in a pair of disciplinary decisions publicly released this week that give insight into why a special investigative committee ordered Adams to undergo a mental health evaluation by an expert the committee hired. A panel from the federal judicial conference sanctioned Adams and again ordered him to undergo the evaluation, which he has so far refused to do.” “An investigation into Adams — plucked from the Summit County bench and appointed by President George W. Bush in 2003 — began in February 2013. Four federal judges in the Northern District of Ohio made a formal complaint to the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati. The appeals court formed the special committee – itself a rare step, as numbers from the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts show that four or fewer special committees have been formed annually in recent years to investigate the thousands of judges in the federal system nationwide. The special committee worked in secret — though many lawyers and court watchers knew about the probe – and a hearing was held in 2015. All the while, Adams continued to hear criminal and civil cases, and the appeals court continued to review Adams’ cases. Throughout this time, the appeals court overturned several of his rulings, removing him from a decade-old lawsuit involving Akron fighters and a criminal case in which a defendant said he did heroin with members of Adams’ family. The special committee’s findings led to the 6th Circuit Judicial Council’s decision to discipline Adams in February 2016. They reprimanded him and decided that he could not hear any court cases for two years.” “The special committee believed that Adams might suffer from an impairment that prevents him from maintaining professional relationships with his colleagues, prevents him from taking on the responsibilities as a member of the court and causes him to make “unfounded and destructive attacks against his colleagues,” the Judicial Council’s decision says. After Adams refused to undergo the exam, the special committee’s psychiatrist looked at provided information provided and concluded there is “a reasonable basis for concern as to Judge Adams’ mental or emotional state,” the decision says. “The data available so far do not suggest a mental state of psychotic proportions, but do suggest significant personality traits that may have contributed to the current concerns,” it continues. The 6th Circuit Judicial Council wrote that Adams should retire if he continued to refuse to undergo the ordered mental health exam. Adams appealed, and the Committee on Judicial Conduct and Disability of the Judicial Conference of the United States took up the case. That panel released its decision Monday and mostly upheld the Judicial Council’s findings and discipline, absent taking away Adams’ docket.” Analysis reveals that ordinary citizens, voters, need to be cognizant of this possibility not only with those suspected of violating the law but also with our elected and appointed officials. Well trained law enforcement officers will provide immediate medical care for those suffering apparent (or suspected) physical impairment or trauma. Now we are requesting such acuity and appropriate response for a not easily diagnosed mental dysfunction. And what of those we’ve elected? Do we ever allow for any health condition other than a readily apparent and diagnose-able physical ailment?

 

The League

August 6, 2017

One of the bright spots in the news of Licking County this past week pretty much flew under the radar, for all intents, unheralded. The online Newark Advocate (8-3-17) listed “Letter” under the news labeled “Granville.” Clicking the item revealed a page headlined “Letter: League of Women voters forming”. Analysis surmises it must have been a letter to the editor of The Granville Sentinel, a Gannett subsidiary. Notable is: “A chapter of the League of Women Voters (LWV) is forming in Licking County. The history of the LWV goes back almost 100 years nation wide. It once had a strong and active presence here until the local chapter disbanded in the 1990s.” and “The LWV is always firmly non-partisan with regard to candidates, but on some policy issues it takes a stand after reaching consensus based on research and discussion.” Policy issues would primarily be issues around voting rights, voting access and organization which are an integral part of the league’s 100 year history. Unmentioned by the letter is the absence of participation by young Americans in the organization (both women and men), leading to a decline in League membership as well as League sponsored events nationwide. You can only rely on the elderly (though they don’t think of themselves as such) for so long before fatigue or natural attrition sets in. Other local organizations, such as the NAACP, The Poverty Think Tank, etc. face a similar challenge. This has not been a factor with commercially sanctioned civic organizations, such as the Chamber of Commerce, who rely on the profit incentive to solicit and retain members. Of course, commercial organization implicates paid administration whereas those running the League at the start-up, local level are volunteers. A vibrant local chapter of the League is able to organize, publicize and activate educational community issue forums as well as candidate debates. A “Candidate debate” differs markedly from the “meet the candidate” events sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce, primarily in terms of organization and sanctioning. No League member “benefits” from “sponsoring” the event (usually held at a public space rather than a hotel, private facility). Candidates agreeing to participate receive their party’s representative on the question screening panel. Questions are submitted before hand, screened by the League organization with input from the party reps – GOP, Dem, Green, independent, etc. The questions are screened for purposes of filtering out blatantly promotional, biased, or gotcha questions, sometimes edited to maintain intent but neutralize presentation. Candidates receive advance copy of the debate format, but not the questions themselves. This stresses the importance for their being knowledgeable of the substance as well as their own positions in responding to the questions. It also facilitates spontaneity. The monitor runs the debate but has no input on the questions themselves (as opposed to the Chamber’s previous format of having the Advocate editor present questions and stimulate responses. Many Advocate advertisers, as well as the Advocate itself, belong to the Chamber). There is a separate time keeper allotting each candidate equal time in toto (use up too much time in a single grandstanding response means you lose it in your closing statement). In this manner, unlike “meet the candidate” debutante events, League candidate debates are rather rigorous, something Licking County might find quite refreshing. The letter ends with “If you would like to be included in the communications about forming a LWV chapter in Licking County, please call Rita Kipp at 740-525-2287.”