Archive for the ‘News’ Category

We’ve Seen This Movie Before

June 24, 2022

            The nation’s news blockbuster this summer is God, Guns and Babies: God with the US Supreme Court ruling in favor of religious schools with equity of state public funding, Guns with the recent SCOTUS overturning of New York’s centuries old gun licensing regulation, and Babies with the Supreme’s latest hit single covering Roe. Is the reader beginning to detect a theme here? In Licking County Ohio the news has been pretty much a monogamous relation with Intel. Now Intel has floated the Idea of a possible split if they don’t get all of the expected dowry (kinda like old Elon Musk). Within the same week we get word that New Albany has agreed to a 30 year, 100% tax abatement for their suitor, Intel. Meanwhile, Intel has let slip that it won’t formally dive in without passage of the Chip legislation which has been languishing in congress. That legislation is to provide billions of dollars in federal subsidies to domestic micro chip manufacturers. No need to reference Fox Con’s Wisconsin debacle, heralded with much fanfare during the Trump administration (also another debacle, of a more sinister kind), and likewise on an enormous scale of jobs promised, economic redemption – Not! (but paling in comparison with Intel’s over the moon swooning) Licking County residents can’t tell if the current iteration of news they are forced to watch is a remake or rerun (does it matter?). They’ve seen it so many times before with the public private partnership deals made by JobsOhio, Grow Licking County, Newark Development Partners, as well as all the “just private” commitments to develop, only if the funding is provided by the state, county or municipality; usually in the form of tax credits (historic are the preferred genre), abatement or infrastructure subsidy, etc. They include, but are not limited to, things such as the Arcade, Central elementary apartments, “affordable housing” behind the north side Walmart (Not!), west and north Newark single family residential development, etc. All this involves community resources (public funding) used for the profits of private individuals (in archive news the Supremes designated corporations as individuals). It has all the earmarks of the “socialism” condemned by the right wing, free market fear machine. Only, because it is destined for Capitalist entrepreneurs, it can’t possibly be state sponsored socialism; more like state sponsored Capitalism which in the case of “Communist” China is considered negatively (how far off was Orwell?). The movie ends, as we all know, with the Intel tail wagging the Licking County dog.

Anticipation

June 12, 2022

            Intel is ever present with any edition of the Newark Advocate. There seems to be an entire industry devoted to the anticipation of an event being more important than the event itself (which may account for the eventual lack of actual planning since the anticipation of the event displaces the event itself. We rather prefer to plan for the anticipation). This characteristic of the American culture is to account for OSU football (and back to school) occurring in July, Halloween in September and Christmas at Halloween!  What was missing in the local news this past week was of a Newark March For Our Lives event. Although Newark took part in the original, this past week’s non existent event may be attributed to lack of institution, or interest. Unlike interest, which can wax and wane, institution covers the irregularities and gaps to provide a structure for the repetition of events like March For Our Lives. But then again, who funds our institutions has proven to be determinate of what the interest is. Nationally, in the news this past week, there was the initial presentation of the January 6 commission. Conservative critics, like David Brooks, say the effort is wasted – too much focus on the past, not enough addressed to rectifying the divisiveness of the present through future solutions. Analysis indicates the findings of this congressional commission to be akin to a lifeline. Without it there is absolutely no possibility of bridging the divide. Its findings provide a slender thread of closure. Would you prefer a lifeline of truth and facts, or one composed of lies? The same “emphasis of the future” was the criticism of South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation commission’s activities. Focused on the past, it did provide a tangible basis for going forward. Analogous to this is our present Jan 6 commission in Washington. Sure, it would be great if the entrepreneurs of the insurgency were jailed. Without being cynical, but rather realistic, no one was ever jailed for the 2008 financial meltdown. Also no truth and justice commission investigated it. Maybe if there had been such an actual, in depth, day by day analysis, it wouldn’t be so difficult to locate the source of today’s out of hand economic inflation. Dealing with the uncomfortable at hand tends to lessen the recurrence in the future. But then again, American culture is all about anticipation, and the future.

The Sound Of Silence

June 1, 2022

“The Gap report released jointly by the Coalition on Homelessness and Housing in Ohio and the National Low Income Housing Coalition shows a deficit of 254,545 rental units that are affordable and available to the state’s 443,717 extremely low income households. That equates to only 43 affordable units for every 100 households.” The report was issued 4-21-22. It followed data available through 2020 and does not include pandemic related housing stress. As pointed out by the report, rents jumped by an average 11% in major Ohio cities in 2021 (now, well into 2022, probably higher overall). “COHHIO Executive Director Bill Faith called on state leaders to invest $308 million of the $5.6 billion in State Fiscal Recovery Funds that Ohio received from the American Rescue Plan Act to address the affordable housing shortage.” Remember Steve Stivers, former US Congressman from a gerrymandered district that snaked from the margins of Upper Arlington to the depths of south central Ohio? Of course you do. Who could forget his opting out of representing his constituents for a job with the Ohio Chamber, and the Trump intervened special election that followed? ““Employees need a safe, decent, affordable home to raise healthy families and be productive at work,” Ohio Chamber of Commerce President & CEO Steve Stivers said. “This one-time investment of Ohio’s Fiscal Recovery Funds on affordable housing will create jobs in the near-term, and will strengthen our workforce for the long-term.”” Duh? But Steve’s not alone in his public aspiration. “More than 200 companies and organizations are supporting COHHIO’s affordable housing plan, including the Ohio Chamber of Commerce, Ohio REALTORS, the Ohio Bankers’ League, CareSource, Huntington Bank, Nationwide Children’s Hospital, PNC, and the Ohio Apartment Association.” It would be curious to learn if Park National Bank could be included. After all, Licking County’s Commissioners have a bit of an identity problem round about now. With Intel and all the big bucks development in the western portion, are we an urban center or an “Aw shucks” rural enclave encroached by modernity? No matter, “Erica Mulryan, Director of the Ohio Balance of State Continuum of Care, which oversees the homeless system in Ohio’s 80 non-urban counties, said rising rents and the lack of affordable housing are making it more difficult to get people out of shelter and into permanent homes. “Our agencies’ rehousing programs depend on private landlords to help get people out of homelessness. But it’s getting harder and harder to find landlords who are willing to partner with us,” Mulryan said. “Ohio’s rural and suburban counties desperately need more affordable housing.”” Get people out of shelter? What shelter? The leaders of Newark and Licking County have opted to not-be-able-to-afford-it. Meanwhile, in the county with a rural/urban identity problem, Kent Mallet gave this Economic Statistic in his Newark Advocate Answer Man column roughly a month after the Gap report: “The total volume of sold homes in Licking County through four months was $220,078,195. That’s a 21% increase from last year and a 51% increase from two years ago.” As pointed out in the previous blog posting, the county has increased its revenue stream in the last 2 years. This, in combination with the State Fiscal Recovery Funds included as part of ARP, makes the “can’t afford it” excuse rather disingenuous. Hear that silence? It’s not the duo of Simon and Garfunkel, rather the trio of Bubb, Black and Flowers, Licking County’s Commissioners.

Unspoken, And Unaccounted For

May 24, 2022

            Lots of continuous daily news dominates. In addition to the ever evolving Covid pandemic, there is the war in Ukraine, the politics of elections – current, past as well as upcoming – and the economy. Can’t forget the economy with its inflation, for which the preceding are given as reasons for its being. And here in Licking County Ohio the anticipated Intel workshop stains the daily news no matter what the reason (Analysis would say “sweatshop” but that’s no longer possible with the clean suits and clean rooms anticipated). Accompanying the near daily Intel stories are headlines like “280-acre commercial, industrial development coming to Harrison Township” (The Newark Advocate, 5-23-22) and other economic “growth” news. It is easy to overlook the weekly “Public Records” news published by The Advocate as this feature, easily obtained by the paper because it is a matter of public record (like the police blotter), has also been around for as long as, well, public newspapers. The 5-21-22 headline read “Public Records: Jersey Township property sells for over $4 million.” Both the headline, as well as the sale price, is not unusual. The history of area sales has been trending in this region for quite a long time. Market sale prices are not a “cause” of inflation, but certainly contribute. Scarcity is a primary “cause” of market pricing. Inflation’s poster child is the plethora of over priced flat screen TV’s available for immediate delivery. But Analysis digresses. It is hard to find “affordable” property transfers in the public records anymore. Million dollar plus sales are multiple each week. Most transfers are for residences in the 300K to 600K range. Below 100K is the exception. One thing unspoken with the market and inflation is that those earning a commission are experiencing a windfall despite doing no more actual work (labor) than if there were no inflation. Such is also the case with Licking County Ohio. For each $1,000 in sale price, the county receives a conveyance fee of $2. Considering, with Intel and all, that million dollar properties are now the norm, unexceptional, the County is taking in a premium of tax revenue without any additional labor. When it comes to County infrastructure spending (the “labor”), the County primarily draws on ARP, Federal Infrastructure Bill funding as well as State Intel assistance. Isn’t it time for Rick Black, Tim Bubb, and Duane Flowers to give back, and pay forward by investing public revenue in affordable public housing? The relationship between those without a house (the homeless), the scarcity of available affordable housing, and the million dollar real estate market couldn’t be any clearer.

In The Presence Of Myths

May 8, 2022

            In America, today is celebrated as Mothers Day. It is no coincidence that America’s First Lady met up with Ukraine’s First Lady on this unofficial state holiday. Although the news of Ukraine has been “The News” for quite a while now, it was displaced this week by the auspicious SCOTUS leak re: Roe V Wade, declared as “settled law,” being overturned. Analysis finds it no coincidence that the leak was made the week prior to the celebration of Mothers Day. Ostensibly, the draft of Justice Alito’s opinion has been around for the last 2 or more months. In terms of “the culture wars,” what would be a better time to give a peek to this writing on the wall? All the Sunday yak shows, editorials and comedy commentaries are centered on this dominant news. Analysis finds the timing to be perfect. It is no coincidence, no getting away from it, that “the conversation” is framed and couched  in terms of motherhood (much as “conversations” re: marijuana or firearms are framed in terms of “gateway drugs” or 2nd Amendment Rights). Tradition, found in the use and meaning of words and concepts, sets the stage and frames “the conversation” no matter how much factual evidence may indicate a completely other scenario. Analysis finds it to be no coincidence that the convenience of the appeal to tradition is the foundation of the appeal of Conservatism. Fact based science or argument requires much more work. “The good life” shouldn’t involve work. As Graeber and Wengrow end their book, The Dawn of Everything, “We know, now, that we are in the presence of myths.” (p. 526)

In Which The State Does Not Exist

April 2, 2022

            In the previous post (3-27-22), Analysis considered an alternate look at the state, one in which the state itself was the disguise. The quote from Graeber and Wengrow’s book was focused on “the realities of power.” Analysis gave three examples of where it ostensibly looks like the state is about the business of running or solving things (wielding power) where in actuality it is only a front for an unnamed source. In 2 of the 3 presented (if not, in essence, all 3) the unnamed is the market, which the state is committed to keep “free” (at the expense of the rest of us). The quote suggested an alternate view can be achieved by looking where the state is not. A Washington Post article entitled Corporate landlords are gobbling up U.S. suburbs. These homeowners are fighting back. (Peter Whoriskey and Kevin Schaul, 3-31-22) does precisely that. No news here in Licking County Ohio that the anticipated Intel chip facility is the dominant news without a day going by that some feature of it doesn’t appear. Unwritten (specifically) is the likewise near daily pressure on homeowners to sell their property to “investors.” The red hot real estate market is fueled by cash only offers, driving prices up. The Post article sheds some light on this market (which has got to be free): “As investors have targeted the American suburbs, faraway companies have begun to take over entire blocks. Last year, investors bought nearly 1 in 7 homes sold in the nation’s top metropolitan areas – the most in two decades of record-keeping, according to a Washington Post analysis of data from realty company Redfin” “In Charlotte and surrounding Mecklenburg County, landlords backed by Wall Street own roughly 11,500 houses – more than 4% of single family homes, according to an analysis last year by the University of North Carolina at Charlotte Urban Institute. Most of the houses are in the starter home price range, “likely putting the most pressure on the lower end of the market,” said the institute’s Ely Portillo. Most of those purchases were made by one of six major out-of-state companies: Progress Residential, American Homes 4 Rent and Invitation Homes each owned more than 2,000 homes, according to the Urban Institute analysis, while Tricon, Amherst Residential and FirstKey each had more than 1,000 homes. Faced with this surge of corporate landlords, many homeowners associations have begun to fight back.” “Using the same legal authority that allows homeowners associations to punish people who fail to cut their grass, the [Charlotte, NC] Potters Glen board erected a hurdle for investors: a new rule required any new home buyer to wait two years before renting it out.” Other HOA’s in the area followed suit with varied duration of ownership and rental use restrictions. None outright ban rentals but rather are aimed at slowing the rate of return for non-owner occupant investment purchases (with their immediate profit expectations). For better or worse, HOA’s are grassroots democratic endeavors. Essentially they operate where the state is not. Much like unions they rely on active and engaged participation to be effective. And they can be squelched. In Ohio there are a plethora of laws continuously passed within the state legislature denying the Ohio constitution’s right of home rule. Like labor unions, HOA’s are formed and operate where the state does not exist (for the state masks the unbridled market). The implications of all this for Newark Ohio are staggering. As Analysis has repeatedly pointed out, just under half of all Newark residences are non-owner occupant (rentals). By definition HOA’s are comprised of owner occupants. At best, HOA’s are only a partial solution to the expanding domination of the free market.

The Mask

March 27, 2022

            “To understand the realities of power, whether in modern or ancient societies, is to acknowledge this gap between what elites claim they can do and what they are actually able to do. As the sociologist Philip Abrams pointed out long ago, failure to make this distinction has led social scientists up countless blind alleys, because the state is ‘not the reality which stands behind the mask of political practice. It is itself the mask which prevents our seeing political practice as it is.’ To understand the latter, he argued, we must attend to ‘the senses in which the state does not exist rather than to those in which it does’. We can now see that these points apply just as forcefully to ancient political regimes as they do to modern ones – if not more so.” (Pg. 430-31, The Dawn Of Everything: A New History of Humanity, David Graeber and David Wengrow) Lots of fanfare accompanied the signing into law of the bipartisan, big bucks infrastructure bill last year. The major political elites promised to finally address the issue of crumbling bridges, highways and other existing deteriorating physical necessities of a functioning community. Barely a whimper was noticed when it was disclosed that, here in Licking County, the petite political elites (the county commissioners) would choose to use the bulk of their allotment to build up the infrastructure required to support the anticipated Intel facility in Jersey Township. Undisclosed, except to the discerning, was the remarkable coincidence that the Intel negotiations took place concurrent with drafting of the bipartisan infrastructure legislation. What’s behind the mask? Currently other petite elites, Ohio House representatives Diane Grendell and Sarah Fowler Arthur, are co sponsoring Ohio HB 327 To amend sections 3314.03 and 3326.11 and to enact sections 3313.6027 and 4113.35 of the Revised Code to prohibit school districts, community schools, STEM schools, and state agencies from teaching, advocating, or promoting divisive concepts. Recently Representative Arthur was on record saying both sides of the holocaust should be presented when discussed. Is the mask a good fit? It was recently pointed out that in Zanesville Ohio “Only around 10% of the people who applied for a [Section 8] voucher in 2021 were actually housed, largely due to a lack of inventory.” “The Housing Choice Voucher Program [Section 8] is a federally-funded program that works as a way to help very low-income, elderly and disabled people pay their rent.” “That means around 90% of the people who currently need subsidized housing in Muskingum County aren’t able to get it. There simply aren’t enough landlords accepting vouchers and available units approved by federally set standards, according to ZMHA.” “”There’s a lot of reasons we struggle, but really right now it’s not as profitable here as it is in other communities,” Zanesville Community Development Director Matt Schley said. “It’s all about what the market can bare.”” (Zanesville’s lack of Section 8 housing leads to homelessness, instability Erin Couch for the Zanesville Times Recorder, 3-27-22) Does the market buy and sell masks?

Adding Insult To Irony

February 24, 2022

            Although the major news event of the week is happening overseas with the fascist takeover of the sovereign nation of Ukraine by we-never-can-forget-being-Soviet Russia, S*** still happens here in Ohio. The super majority GOP Ohio legislature has been busy, though not on the constitutionally mandated, and Ohio Supreme Court ruling required, drawing of non-gerrymandered redistricting maps. It must be in the genes, this disregard of what 70% of the electorate voted in, as well as contempt for Ohio Supreme Court rulings (see school funding rulings for the last 20+ years). No, Ohio’s GOP legislators have been so traumatized by the events that happened in the nation’s capital on January 6, 2021, that they could only focus on affairs of the heart (Ohio being the heart of it all, etc.). All GOP (all the time) sponsored Ohio House Bill 109 just passed the house and is currently in the Senate (on its way to the governor). It seeks “to increase penalties for certain assault, vandalism, and riot offenses, to allow peace officers to bring civil suits against persons participating in a riot, and to prohibit bias motivated intimidation of first responders.” Although not a co sponsor of HB 109, Newark’s own Mark Fraizer IS a co sponsor of sister legislation, Ohio HB 325, currently wooing support in the Ohio House. This proposed revision of the Ohio code is “regarding a political subdivision’s emergency powers when suppressing a riot, mob, or potential riot or mob and the preservation of rights regarding firearms during an emergency.” The allure that seduced Mr. Fraizer is the staunch protection of Second Amendment Rights during a riot, mob, or emergency (or all of the above). Briefly stated, it disallows Ohio Constitution Home Rule provisions during such events by disallowing any action restricting firearm, ammunition or explosives sale or possession, etc. in managing such events. You can close the liquor stores and gas stations, but you can’t shutter the gun dealers. Ohio HB 109 takes what is already legislated as unlawful (your assaults, vandalisms and sundry riot offenses), and makes them even more illegal with the added onus (à la Texas abortion ban) of allowing civil suits to be brought against demonstration organizers (organized demonstrations corrupted by already illegal violent acts). Analysis can only show that these legislative ventures are meant to aid GOP political subdivision administrators and prosecutors to follow the law in such emergencies, especially after the directive by the Republican National Committee that such occurrences are “legitimate political discourse.” Atta Boy, Mark! You let ‘em know a thing or two about legitimate political discourse. Returning to the major news of the week, happening overseas but once again in everyone’s living room, Analysis marvels at the President’s chutzpa in requesting that Americans look to tighten their belts during a war we are not even engaged in. This, since the inception of the all volunteer professional U.S. military, after how many active wars (your Gulf War, your Iraq War, your 20 year Afghanistan War, your War on Terror, etc.) where Americans were specifically instructed to go out and buy Hummers and spend like there’s no tomorrow. And now, all of a sudden, tomorrow is here?

The Healthy Practice Of Democracy

February 12, 2022

            In the news this past week was a city council meeting in Yellow Springs Ohio. Or shouldn’t we rather say the news was Dave Chappelle at a city council meeting in Yellow Springs Ohio? After 4 years of the Trump Presidency, we’ve all learned that celebrity place-ment makes a difference, especially in regards to civic proceedings. And the place of the celebrity in this proceeding made all the difference in the world. It also gives an enhanced meaning to “legitimate political discourse.” Like the January 6 original “legitimate political discourse’’, this one was also recorded on video. What we all can see, time after time, is a man getting up to address the city council with regard to proceedings over projected residential housing development. In no uncertain terms the man addressed the council as “clowns’ and told them he would withdraw his own projected development investment if the plan under consideration was passed. There was no back and forth, question and answer for the man was a celebrity. The celebrity was area resident, Dave Chappelle. After the “exchange’ (Not!), rather “legitimate political discourse”, the council withdrew the plan under consideration and approved the one amenable to the celebrity. End of story. Not! The media, both social and commercial (though both are commercial) picked up on the local Ohio story and made it national news.  Some critiqued the celebrity as stifling the development of affordable housing. Others claimed that to be a “smear” of the man. Celebrity smeared or not smeared became the focus of the news story. Analysis finds the event to be very informative and instructional for why, in our contemporary moment, we cannot deal with any of the “crisis” situations that confront us and grow with continued inattention. The Yellow Springs city council was considering two projections for residential land development. One, limited by the land size, offered roughly 100 single family homes to be built on the parcel. The other offered roughly 50% more units but in a mix of single family houses, town houses and apartments. This latter plan offered 2 acres for development as “affordable housing” (built by someone, at some time not specified). After the videotaped “legitimate political discourse” the council opted for the lesser unit single home plan. Not part of the celebrity obsessed media coverage was the ordinary acknowledgement that such council considerations are taking place practically everywhere nationwide. Nor was any attention paid to the fact that continuous expansion through single family housing developments is central to sprawl. And sprawl is unsustainable. The discourse or reasoned exchange (when it doesn’t include celebrities) usually is around low density single family residences and high density multi family housing. The MAGA dream of the 1950’s single family home promise (along with a chicken in every kettle) is incredibly outdated for the current time and concern with global warming. Celebrity investors rely on the promise and keep it on subsidized life support. In the end, there is zero affordable housing projected for Yellow Springs. Again, the same scenario finds itself repeated nationwide. Butt weight, there’s more. Part of the celebrity’s defenders  say new housing is win-win no matter what, and the ripple effect is that it opens up older “undesirable” units as  affordable housing (the rising tide lifts all boats argument). Not necessarily so. The moneyed are always at hand to buy up older residential units to convert (invest) into medical offices, strip malls, convenience store gas stations to serve the new arrivals to the upscale single family housing development. Chappelle himself was threatening to pull just such an investment in a projected comedy club in town. Again, the folks who will be employed at these newly created “jobs” enterprises will need to find affordable housing somewhere else as there will continue to be none in the town where they are  employed, necessitating a lengthy daily commute. This also is unsustainable for global warming, and any public transit solutions are doomed to meet the same fate as affordable housing (public transit fits in well with high density neighborhoods). Once again, the same scenario is replayed across the US. But not covered at all by the celebrity obsessed  media is the debilitating damage  wreaked on democracy when a wealthy celebrity, one member of the 1% in this country, can so easily and effortlessly determine institutions and policy for the entire community. This is not only unsustainable, but detrimental to the healthy practice of democracy.

Olympic Schemes, Er, Dreams

February 6, 2022

            Much as it may come as a surprise to Whoopi Goldberg, the 1936 Summer Olympics was organized specifically to frame the superiority of the master race that was hosting them. Adolf Hitler was still somewhat stuck in the past by intending to accomplish this outcome (of racial superiority) through what manly man Charlie Sheen would call “Winning!” Hitler relied on past precedence to showcase this “winning’ as making for an irrevocable argument of dominance. Whoopi would be not as surprised to learn that the Third Reich’s Propaganda Minister, Joseph Goebbels, was way ahead of the curve in terms of framing the accomplishments of the Third Reich and doing what we call today “marketing.” Most would be surprised to learn that the closest of Hitler’s cronies, the self same Goebbels, was an exceptionally well educated man with what would be considered today as a high IQ. But Goebbels’ (along with Hitler) subordinated this mastery of propaganda for the end of “Winning.” Such was the still prevalent mindset of the 19th century well into the 1930’s. Today, with the 2022 Winter Olympics, the propaganda itself is the desired end. Winning is irrelevant. Whereas Goebbels tried to market his message to any and all comers, Xi Jinping confidently has chosen his audience strategically (much as gerrymandering chooses voters for the party that draws the maps). In a way, he is preaching to the choir. The Olympics (and its athlete participants) have been usurped, co opted as a spectacle to highlight the future. And the future is manufactured. China is the world’s manufacturer (the recent Christmas “supply chain disruption” confirms this). Everything at the current games presented to those privileged to look is manufactured – the snow, the ice, the robots, the robot prepared and served meals, the mountain, etc. The “winter time sports” is completely divorced from anything winter (natural or historic). Xi’s mastering and maturing of Goebbels origination by making propaganda the end (and leaving the “Winning” to take care of itself) is not only brilliant but very instructive and informative of the time we live in. The 2022 Winter Olympics is more of a World’s Fair than a celebration of seasonal sport. Global warming scientists say such spectacles are limited in site and duration. Analysis finds all this informative and insightful with regard to the recent projections of the Intel chip manufacturing facility in Licking County. Like the renovation of the Arcade in downtown Newark, it looks like it will happen as long as the public money is there. Should supply chain issues be once again assured, not so much. The curious analogy which the two Olympic examples suggest is that the reception of the announcement by local county and state leaders of Intel’s decision closely mirrors that of Goebbels and the Nazi’s in the 1930’s.  It is couched and mired in the past, the 20th century outlook with its factory production thinking. Whereas Intel’s disposition is more in line with Xi’s China, the future, and fabricating everything with no regard to context or surrounding. Intel will have its way no matter the burden placed on the surrounding community, be it water supply, environment, housing, traffic congestion, or quality of life.