Posts Tagged ‘Central Ohio’

Not News?

March 9, 2016

Or at least not for central Ohio. 3-8-16 Alex Zielinski reports online for ThinkProgress “Ohio Planned Parenthood Clinic Vandalized, Called ‘Den Of Babykillers’”. Newark’s only newspaper, along with the Cols. Dispatch and TV channels (one of which is owned by The Dispatch’s former owners and two others affiliated with Fox) found no need to headline this on the 7th and 8th. Zielinski begins the report with “Staff of a Columbus, Ohio Planned Parenthood clinic were greeted Monday morning with a freshly painted message in red scrawled on the outside of their clinic: “SATAN DEN OF BABYKILLERS GOD SEE ALLLL Mark 9:14.”” Of note: “Monday’s graffiti is the first major act of vandalism to a Planned Parenthood clinic since an anti-abortion extremist killed three — and wounded many others — at a Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood in November.” “The act of vandalism comes exactly two weeks after Ohio Governor and presidential hopeful John Kasich signed a bill that would pull all federal funding from state Planned Parenthood clinics.” And ending with: “Similar to other state bills aiming to cut ties with Planned Parenthood, Ohio’s reasoning to enact this bill is entirely based on the misleading video campaign that says the women’s health organization profits off fetal tissue — a campaign that has been discredited by nearly a dozen state courts. More broadly, Ohio is one of the states with the most stringent abortion restrictions in the country. The rapid pace of clinic closures there over the past several years is second only to Texas.” Analysis questions whether this is not news because it is (Christian) domestic terrorism not affiliated with Islam and at a nascent stage, is politically inconvenient for a newspaper (The Advocate) that places its hopes with the Republican Party (see this blog’s 12-29-15, The Year In Review), or an embarrassment to an out of touch presidential wannabe who hearkens his bygone glory days on the campaign trail as reasons for being elected.

 

Is It Any Wonder?

February 17, 2016

“Contaminated Flint water among most expensive in the U.S.” Reuters reports 2-16-16. Let’s look under the hood: “The annual water bill in Flint as of January 2015 was $864.32 for a household using 60,000 gallons a year, said Washington-based advocacy group Food & Water Watch” “The second highest water prices in the country were in Bellevue, Washington, at $855.25 a year for 60,000 gallons of water. The least expensive water was in Phoenix, at $84.24 a year.” Desert models somehow age better. Must be because of the paucity of rain, winters without ice and salt….

How about this beauty: “Trustees agree to OK abatement for MPW Industrial Services” (Maria DeVito for the Newark Advocate 2-15-16). No need to test drive this baby, we’ve done it before (this blog’s “Limited Time Blue Light Special On Aisle 5” 7-30-14). Take a look at the lines on this model: “Trustee Charlie Prince said after the meeting that the trustees didn’t have the exact resolution, but he “didn’t want to continue the uncertainty” for MPW so the three trustees passed an intent to grant the 15-year, 100 percent tax abatement the company is seeking.” Not enough power for you? How about “MPW, an industrial cleaning and water purification company”? Customer satisfaction is number one. With extra added features like “The Ohio Tax Credit Authority approved today a 50 percent, six-year tax credit to MPW for creation of $1 million in new annual payroll.” (“MPW plans $4.4 million expansion, 25 new jobs” Kent Mallett for the same Newark Advocate 7-29-14). Something sweet to seal the deal? “The county will extend an existing sewer line from the Pilot Travel Center truck stop just north of Interstate 70 to the MPW facility at 9711 Lancaster Road SE. “That was a big part of the deal — connecting to a public system and off of a private system,” Bubb said.” (same Mallett article from 7-29-14). Hmmmmm. Not sold on the benefits? Bring us your best deal and we’ll beat it or give you… “The study – which looked at the 500 largest community water systems in 48 states – showed that private, for-profit water systems generally charged more than the public water systems that prevail around the country.” (same Reuters) “The county will extend an existing sewer line” for a private “cleaning and water purification company” to assist its business, earn a tax abatement, and collect a tax credit. We’re dealin’!

 

The Year In Review

December 29, 2015

Walter Benjamin, the European critical thinker of the first half of the 20th century, conceptualized the future as an angel recoiling in horror before the onslaught of the present. Harry Shearer, the radio show host of the weekly “Le Show” (and former Simpsons voice, SNL cast member, etc.), culminates each year with a “Year In Rebuke” edition. Newark’s own Michael Shearer (Newark Advocate editor) devoted his December 27, 2015 editorial to a local year in review, filled with the accomplishments of the present that anticipate a future of progress and success (“2016 Holds Much Promise For Newark”). Michael’s angel of the future differs markedly from that of Benjamin or Le Show’s “Year In Rebuke”. For the editor of Newark’s only news source, the future lies with the Republican Party (“We hope Newark’s Republican administration and GOP-dominated city council will use their majority to responsibly and determinedly guide our city to sustainable prosperity and operational funding levels for many years to come.”); this in spite of the fact that THE news of 2015 constantly covered the incredible polarization and division of American civil discourse along party lines. This actuality of contention was continuously reported and commented on but never received attention in any media’s “year in review”. Many candidates for local office during the 2015 election made considerable effort to distance themselves from party identification and allegiance in order to better represent their constituents and enable the actual working of government to take on the challenges facing Newark in the upcoming year. Since 2010 we have had the party of the Advocate’s future hopes completely dominating Ohio’s legislature, executive branch, and judiciary. It has been pretty much ditto that on the micro level of Licking County and Newark municipal governance. Given Michael Shearer’s pinning his hopes on the performance of the past (embracing polarity over problem solving), it is not difficult to understand Benjamin’s angel of the future recoiling in horror before the onslaught of the present.

A Bridge Too Far

December 13, 2015

Recently the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments for a case entitled Evenwel vs. Abbott. The plaintiffs (Pfenniger and Evenwel) argue that the legislative districts of the State of Texas, as currently drawn, do not accurately reflect the will of those eligible to vote. The plaintiffs contend the current districts are based on an elected state legislature representing a population and not an electorate, and therefore do not fairly or accurately enact the will of the voters (who assembled them). A district with a large population of eligible AND ineligible voters will benefit disproportionately while a district with more eligible voters and less ineligible ones will be penalized. For example: children, some convicted felons, prisoners, folks without a permanent address (homeless), non-resident aliens as well as illegal aliens are/may be included in the official U.S. Census along with eligible voters. An area with a large population of the former may necessitate 2 representatives in the legislature. An adjacent area may have a greater number of eligible voters. That adjacent area will necessitate only one representative, with a smaller overall census count due to less children, homeless, non-resident aliens, etc. The plaintiffs claim this to be a violation of the constitutional “one person, one vote”, that fair representation should be based on the number of voters, not population (voters and non-voters). Pfenniger and Evenwel are represented by the Project On Fair Representation, the same folks who, in 2013, precipitated the Court’s degradation of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. Political pundits, civil rights watchdogs, and cultural critics view this as just another attempt by a dwindling demographic to maintain their previous dominance of gov’t and its composition. Should the case be decided in favor of Evenwel, it would question previous constitutional mandates of basing representation on the U.S. Census count. State legislative representation/districts would be determined by individual state counts of eligible voters, something not currently done. Who determines eligibility (who is counted) as well as who does the counting (and how) is problematic, to say the least. Analysis finds the implications of this strategy, such an argument, to be short sighted, less beneficial than the plaintiffs intend, ultimately detrimental to their hopes of manipulating democracy. Currently, in central Ohio, someone like Pat Tiberi would be unaffected by the court ruling in Evenwel’s favor (“Under the Fourteenth Amendment, states are allocated House seats by “counting the whole number of persons in each state.”” ThinkProgress). However, Newark’s Jay Hottinger and Scott Ryan would be affected by this interpretation of “one person, one vote”. Currently, these state legislators can, justly or unjustly, accurately or deceptively, claim to represent those ineligible to vote in their districts – children, those deemed incompetent or ineligible, homeless, aliens, etc. After the SCOTUS Citizens United ruling, corporate “persons” must likewise be included in this group (thanks to the Court’s interpretation of the 14th Amendment). Even a casual glance at a publication like the Newark Advocate or a chance encounter with a legislator’s prepared presentation will evidence their commitment to representing corporate businesses within their district. If the Project On Fair Representation prevails then state legislators like Hottinger and Ryan will no longer be justified representatives of corporate businesses, and would need to couch their legislative practices in favor of business otherwise, i.e. as catering to the interests of non-voters. Along with children, aliens, homeless, etc. corporate businesses are ineligible to vote. Ultimately, a SCOTUS ruling in favor of Evenwel may result in a de facto practice detrimental to the ends for which the plaintiffs originally filed suit. The current status quo better serves their interests by maintaining the charade that elected state legislators legitimately “represent” the corporate entities within their districts. As the “Timken” redistricting in Canton showed, this is a very real and continuous priority and practice.

Between The Lines

September 16, 2015

The 9-16-15 online Advocate reported “Dan Evers leaving as economic development director” (Kent Mallet). “NEWARK — Dan Evers, director of Grow Licking County and economic development director for the Licking County Chamber of Commerce, leaves Oct. 2 to become executive director of the Clinton County Port Authority.” The usual spend-more-time-with-the -family was given as the reason for the departure (“Family considerations also played a role in the decision, Evers said. “It enables me to be closer to my parents and children at a time when being closer to them is important,” Evers said.”). Of course, unmentioned was monetary remuneration, something arrived at only by reading between the lines (“ Rick Platt, executive director of the Port Authority, said he’s confident the county can find a successor, but he said a review of the position is in order. “We lost someone to another county, so we have to make sure we’re being competitive in personnel offerings,” Platt said. “We have to evaluate was there something we could have done to have prevented that.”). Remembering history also helps in reading between the lines, but then again, after the dissed pleas to remember history during the decision to destroy the old county children’s home, analysis shows that memory just can’t be taken for granted. Besides, a smartphone does it so much better! But remember please, dear reader, the plea made by Chamber President and CEO Cheri Hottinger to the county commissioners to increase enormously the amount budgeted for the Chamber, er, Grow Licking County public private partnership. Which, after this blog’s previous “Junk Science” post (9-10-15), really does beg the question of who was Dan Evers’ employer or boss – Mrs. Hottinger? The county commissioners? The tax payers of Licking County? Or the businesses which not only were his clients but also his employers (the Chamber, after all, runs Grow Licking County which is a public-private partnership run by the Chamber which itself is a private endeavor comprised of the folks who were Evers’ “clients”)? Did he even have a boss? ‘Nuff said, as mentioned in the “Junk Science” post, reading between the lines here was something more of an exercise in “an unthinking understanding, passed down through the years, about who and what deserves to command our attention” which most everyone already does without thinking! HOWEVER, Mallet’s line (from the article) of “Licking County’s employment and workforce have reached all-time highs this year as companies move to New Albany, Pataskala, Heath, Hebron and Johnstown. The number of manufacturing companies considering Licking County development sites has continued to increase during the last few years.” did not escape Analysis. Reading between the lines here requires a bit of an assist. That same day (9-16-15) online Reuters reported “U.S. household incomes slip, poverty rate up slightly in 2014” (by Susan Heavey and Doina Chiacu). “”In 2014, real median household income was 6.5 percent lower than in 2007, the year before the most recent recession,” Census researchers wrote [U.S. Census Bureau]. At the same time, the poverty rate ticked up to 14.8 percent from 14.5 percent in 2013, the data showed. Census researchers said the changes in both the median income and poverty rate were not statistically significant.” Reading between the lines of Mallet’s glowing assessment of Licking County progress, growth, and job creation under Evers’ Grow Licking County directorship requires asking a question the Advocate (definitely Kent Mallet’s employer) refuses to allow to even be asked: “What have we got to show for it?” One cannot answer this question in English. Speak American Sarah Palin insists! Au Contraire. Only by lapsing into European (or Asian) reverie and entering into a dream world (found there) do we answer the question. Yes Virginia, other modern industrial states have dependable public transportation whereby the residents of a county’s government and population center, like Newark, could access all these jobs in “New Albany, Pataskala, Heath, Hebron and Johnstown”. Remember history? Not too hard to recognize that Newark was not included with the “all-time highs.” And the streets still cry out for pavement. Analysis won’t even begin to address the obvious “U.S. household incomes slip”. Once again “Our news agenda reflects not a smoke-filled room but rather an unthinking understanding, passed down through the years, about who and what deserves to command our attention.”

Public Private Partnership Government

August 7, 2015

The news this past week was of the partnership between the United Way (you know them) and LGS Staffing (a temporary labor provider). (Newark Advocate “Bus to New Albany jobs is possible for workers” 8-5-15) All the Grow Licking County success stories are having a bit of a challenge including those residents who reside in the Licking County seat of government. Newark City Government may collect part of the tax revenue from the industrial park workers’ wages in Etna but Newark residents certainly don’t reside there. Living in New Albany while working in their industrial park would be akin to having a champagne taste on a PBRB budget. So the subcontractor LGS Staffing (in partnership with the United Way) wants to sub subcontract public transportation (a bus) provided enough people sign up as temps with them. Quite a commitment, er? Will the bus have wi fi, individual cell phone battery chargers, and an on board restroom? Analysis finds this whole arrangement of precarious workers paying part of their precarious wages to their temporary job agency in order to get them to otherwise inaccessible employment to be rather regressive, to say the least. LGS could just as well have teamed up with some public housing coalition (or administration) to develop a village within the industrial park confines and an LGS company store from which the employee residents could buy all their needs. That would have required a permanent investment (and commitment) in the community, something a temporary agency is definitely not willing (or interested) in making. Besides, company housing and company store are so yesterday. Before the Great War (WWI), workers from Newark rode trains daily to mine coal in Perry County. If it was good enough for great, great grand dad, it’s good enough for me! Analysis finds the entire scheme, by the partnership of United Way/LGS, of charging for transportation to a minimum wage job while insisting that a minimum number of minimum wage workers be on board to be ludicrous. Not only is employment decided and designated by LGS (in terms of who works, when and where much as migrant farm laborers are “managed”) but the entire arrangement is about precarious work to begin with. In addition, although riding the same bus, solidarity between workers is already undermined by each rider continuously being apprehensive, and suspecting (blaming) the other if the arrangement falls through (how could you get pregnant and stop coming to work?). Analysis discovers this regressive (and oppressive) initiative to be not only indicative of the disingenuousness of its creators but also highlights the failure of the public private partnership government of Licking County. On the one hand, there is no end to the job creating success self-promoted by the private segment of the Chamber and its Grow Licking County – never within reach of any city residents. On the other hand, there is the abysmal failure of the public segment of this partnership, the county commissioners who prefer to remain silent partners and eschew any regional public transportation responsibility while actively cutting back on services – all in the name of fiscal prudence. Analysis has repeatedly emphasized the unsustainability of such a public private partnership government, one that favors the private profit at the expense of the public. Analysis doubts San Francisco Google employees contribute 12% of their pay back to Google for a bus ride to work.

Brown Shirts Don’t Make It

July 25, 2015

The news of the past weeks was more of the new normal covered by this blog, 12-16-14 “The New Normal”. “Well over 10 percent of the U.S. population suffers from a mental disorder and owns a firearm” (approx. 30 million people). Discharging the effects of that illness through acts of violence has continued as one of their viable options according to their subjective interpretation. Sick, yes? But after all, it is an illness, and the availability of weaponry is much like that of large screen TV’s, automobiles, or cookware. It’s there, so why not use it? Flying low under the radar in all this, unnoticed and unreported, is the tacit acceptance and growth of the brown shirts. Brown shirts? Weren’t they the ultra-conservative, paramilitary political organizations throughout Europe (and to a limited degree the U.S.) during the depression years of the 1930’s? Indeed, it was so. Back then, war correspondence showed uniformed participants engaged in violent struggles in Ethiopia, China, Spain, etc. Brown shirts were called brown shirts because, well, they wore brown shirts to reproduce an appearance of uniformity. Today’s wars, it’s hard to tell whose side you are observing. For the most part combatants wear whatever street attire fashionable in that part of the world, with organized armies even attempting to blend in, be camouflaged. Gang colors are so yesterday. With the recent news events, Newark made overtures to being included with the bigs along precisely those lines. After one of the now “new normal” killing events, individuals with high powered firearms appeared at various shopping centers and storefronts; the same weaponry used by the perpetrators of the recent attacks. The attacks, one at a church, one at a U.S. military site, and the latest at a cinema (again) spawned these individuals to take it upon themselves to set up a perimeter to protect the U.S. military (who is there to protect the U.S.). Confused? Don’t be. It is part of being human to continuously repeat traumatic events in the hope they will dissipate, go away (grainy Pearl Harbor film, Edmund Pettus Bridge footage, Dallas assassination film, 911 video, etc.). What differs here is that the event is not being repeated through representations (narrative or visual) but through performance. The exceptionalism this performs is troubling. Carl Schmitt pointed out that “the political sovereign is the person who decides on the state of exception.” And exception to the 10% statistics previously cited certainly applies here (any grouping finds 10% of members owning firearms and suffering illness). This was witnessed by a shot being fired by a display of those volunteers doing just such “service” in Lancaster. In other circumstances, the news media would have described this as a shooting took place at the mall or gunman fires shots, etc. In this case it was quickly dismissed as an exceptional “accident.” According to the 10% statistics (borne out by recent events), the perpetrators of the mass killings were mentally, socially, emotionally ill individuals who responded to their internal torment through recourse to readily available means. Only in these cases it was with firearms. Statistically, the targeting of this disturbed response is as random and unpredictable as the individual perpetrators themselves – a school, a church, a cinema, a restaurant, a worksite, a military installation, etc. But the new brown shirts will address all that with the exception of themselves at the same time being not included in the otherwise indifferent 10% statistics. Perhaps in the future their interrogating gaze will be determining entrance and egress at day care centers, convenience stores or wherever else they are compelled to display their traumatic repetition performance. “The political sovereign is the person who decides on the state of exception.” Uniforms are so passé. Street clothes and camo are de rigueur.

Twofer

March 12, 2015

The news about Buckeye Lake damn seems to be sweeping across central Ohio. In the week prior to the news, one all a gush political leader advocated changing Buckeye Lake, Ohio to Ohio’s Buckeye Lake. Now most folks living there, or having businesses there are pretty spooked, to say the least. Analysis is surprised no one has bothered to check the credibility of the bearer of this bad news, nor asked for an independent assessment to be made (a second opinion). Given the Corps’ track record, that might not be a bad idea. Not only was the Corps to blame for the ineptitude that caused the massive flooding along the Missouri River some years back, but they also are playing it fast and loose with keeping the Asian carp out of the great lakes (“Trust us.” they say as more and more evidence mounts). Not only have they totally failed in maintaining/restoring the Everglades (as they were charged to do long ago) but they are also the culprits for the flooding of an entire city, New Orleans (a US District Court ruled that it was a man made disaster, with the Corps being the “man making” part). It is common knowledge that for electric utility companies the perfectly serviced city is one without any trees. For the Corps, the perfectly engineered flood control is for an area without any water!

And Newark, Etna Township, Heath, etc. when have we heard this one before (as well as where have we heard this one before)? From the state up north (akin to our state of residence in so many more ways than just football), we read AP’s David Eggert headlining “Michigan paying the price now for tax plan to save business” (3-11-15). “The state would provide $2.9 billion in tax credits to help upgrade Michigan auto plants for the future; the carmakers would agree to add and keep factory jobs on their home turf.” “Four years later, few are saying the deals were a bad idea but any sense of celebration is long gone. The bill for the job rescue — and similar ones in other states that used tax credits aggressively — is now coming due and providing a lesson in the downside of such measures. The auto companies and many others are cashing in hundreds of millions of dollars in credits a year, cutting deeply into state revenues at a time when the budget should be flush with a rising economy. A projected $410 million budget shortfall is triggering cuts in funding for hospitals and diverting K-12 money to other purposes.” “Though its economy is improving and unemployment rate is at a 12-year low, Michigan is going to voters in May to approve a sales tax increase for road improvements it cannot afford.” “The tax credit backlash is increasing sentiment among some legislators for business to accept a larger burden. Snyder and the GOP-controlled Legislature also slashed business tax rates after he took office in 2011. “We’ve got major investments we’ve got to make in public education and infrastructure,” said Rep. Jim Townsend, the top-ranking Democrat on the House Tax Policy Committee, noting that Michigan companies paid the country’s third-lowest share of total state and local taxes in 2013.”

Analysis proffers this twofer in order to help define “infrastructure” as roads, bridges or damns, with “existing infrastructure” as roads, bridges and damns already in place, being used.

Rhetorical Manipulation

June 9, 2014

Analysis’s raggedy old Webster’s gives “the art of effectively using language in speech or writing, including the use of figures of speech” and “the undue use of exaggerated language; bombast” amongst its definitions of “rhetoric”. Couple that with commercial interest and you get slick Madison Avenue marketing. Case in point would be the recently enacted Ohio legislation SB 310 which, according to the Dispatch, John the Governator will enact. Cincinnati Republican State Senator Bill Seitz originally proposed SB 58, ending Ohio’s alternative energy requirements and standards. His rhetoric centered around “the market” and how these standards would cause the utility companies to charge higher rates. Zanesville’s Republican Senator Troy Balderson revamped the elimination idea with a “freeze” of these standards while the efficacy of the standards themselves are researched (effectively the same, but under the guise of a different rhetoric, temporary suspension versus elimination). His rhetoric centered on determining whether customer costs would be more or less with or without the standards. How noble! The liberals and greenies decry this as a Koch brothers and ALEC conspiracy. Given the preponderance of this very same kind of legislation appearing in state legislatures across the country coupled with the President’s initiative to call attention to global warming and tighten coal fired power plant emission controls, there’s some truth in that. But wait, there’s more. Though Ohio is not the heaviest user of coal in generating its electricity, it is up there amongst the top users. Some of that coal is from Ohio mines. Staying with coal is, to say the least, completely conservative (Webster’s first definition is “disposed to preserve existing conditions, institutions, etc.” Sounds about right). Further “market” rhetoric by conservative legislators is that alternate energy sources (like wind or solar) are currently only possible thanks to state and federal subsidies. Of course the senators elide their own subsidizing shale energy (fracking) with the current tax package that allows the industry to be excused from paying the commercial activities tax. These “elision” fields likewise avoid disclosing that the natural gas produced by this very process, is cheaper than coal to generate electricity. But this just leads to more rhetoric. What about the commercial interest motivating our conservative legislators?

Analysis has a recent AEP bill before it. 15% of this particular bill is attributable to various non-generation, transmission or distribution costs (what it takes to get Sparky from there to here). There is a “Retail Stability Rider”, a “Deferred Asset Phase-in Rider” and a “Phase-in Recovery Rider”. Still unfazed by all the riders? Well, how about the most expensive of the bunch, the “Customer Charge”? Yes, you read that right, a charge just for being a customer. All this thanks to our legislators, John the Governator, and PUCO, though the names have been withheld to protect the guilty. These charges are there because the various utility giants that have control over Ohio can put them there. Enough said. What about those utilities themselves?

6-8-14 Rob Wile for the online Business Insider reports “How Solar Will Destroy The Power Companies, In 5 Easy Steps”. Mr. Wile writes “Barclays recently downgraded the entire U.S. electric utilities sector to “underweight” on the threat posed by widespread adoption of solar-storage.” “The firm’s sweeping case focused in large part on debt markets’ apparent ignorance to challenge utilities are facing.” Wile gives the following five reasons for Barclays move: 1.Solar prices come down (Photovoltaic panels have dropped, and continue to drop in price. OK so much of that is due to subsidy but revisit the riders and customer charges as well as the recent tax package for fracking if you want to embrace that “market” rhetoric. Likewise Tesla has caused the price of storage batteries to continuously drop. Again, look at the legislators’ “laws” to keep Tesla out of Ohio). 2. The defection spiral commences (“Once the prices for everything get cheap enough, homeowners begin to leave the grid.” Duh!) 3. Utilities flail around in their state capitols seeking relief (already happening, dude) 4.The decommissioning process begins (“This is the key moment: Utility companies being forced to upgrade their plants in the face of a declining customer base. That’s a killer combination.”) 5. (this is the one that completely undermines “the market” rhetoric of our conservative legislators) The market turns (“In Germany, aggressive subsidies and a move away from nuclear led to an explosion of renewables expansion. Since the beginning of 2010 (though for reasons that go beyond simply that outgrowth), Germany’s two largest utilities had stock price declines of 55-60%, compared with a near 60% gain in the DAX.”) All this shows that the folks on Wall Street (company John the Governator used to keep when employed by the now belly up Lehman Brothers) know what is coming down. How do they know this?

Academics use a term called “disruptive technology” or “disruptive innovation” to describe what happens when what essentially involved a cumbersome or costly way of doing things is displaced by something, perhaps less comprehensive, but far more accessible and affordable. Case in point would be mobile communication devices (which once were incredibly cumbersome and expensive) and personal computers, now even smart phones. IBM, Hewlett Packard, the old Bell system and others all suffered as a consequence of disruptive innovation/technology (Kodak and Polaroid had to reinvent themselves thanks to digital imaging). Solar is likewise a disruptive innovation/technology. Folks like Seitz, Hottinger, Balderson and other conservatives, “disposed to preserve existing conditions, institutions, etc.” need to be told the jig is up. The rhetorical manipulations employed by them to insure their own reelection financing is failing (“Customer Charge” indeed!); failing on account of the very market they so ardently invoke as the fountain of all solutions for all problems. In the case of alternate energy, is it the market they are dissing, or is it their responsibility (as elected representatives) to solve problems? SB 310 creates one, solves none.

We The People

December 25, 2013

            Boy, talk about the end of the news cycle (see previous post)! To accompany the seasonal weather, a flurry of news came out of Etna Township just before the holiday. Timing is everything. All Newark Advocate, all the time. “Annexation prompts Etna trustees to file suit against commissioners” December 23rd. Cute headline, huh? We the people will be paying for both sides of that suit.  Some things to note from the article:

“The Etna Township Trustees have voted to sue the Licking County commissioners over a 1.2-acre annexation that the county panel approved on Taylor Road — one that placed the property in question in Reynoldsburg.”

“As for the road issue, the trustees note that the township will be responsible for maintaining a section of Taylor Road even though the bordering property is within city limits. The annexation also could upset the various costs the township and Reynoldsburg will pay for the multi-million dollar Taylor Road improvement project that is a little more than a year from going to construction.” And finally, the bottom line:

“The project has an overall price tag of about $3.6 million. Etna is paying the largest local chunk at $1.1 million, with the federal government covering roughly over $2 million.”

 

            The other story is “Etna trustees resist call for Burkholder removal” December 24. Of note:

“The Etna Township Trustees took no action Saturday on the request of the Etna Township Economic Development Committee that one of its members be removed from office for an alleged conflict of interest.”

“The alleged conflict is over Burkholder’s position as the Etna Township representative on the Southwest Licking County Community Water and Sewer Board and that group’s advocacy for inclusion in a new tax district being considered by the trustees.”

“The missive said that a majority of the economic panel requested that Burkholder “step down from the position…effective immediately.” The panel also passed a motion to recommend that the trustees remove Burkholder in the event he did not resign.”

“The trustees previously voted 3-0 to deny including the utility as a beneficiary of any new tax district. Schaff indicated he thought Burkholder was lobbying for the inclusion by his advocacy for the tax benefit. Burkholder refuted that viewpoint, saying: “I have not lobbied.””

Of particular interest is how the report ends: “Burkholder served one term as trustee but was defeated for re-election by current Trustee Jeff Johnson. The trustees not only named Burkholder to the two panels that created Saturday’s debate, but also named him as acting township administrator last spring when the post was created. Burkholder was one of two finalists for the permanent appointment before the trustees selected Rob Platte.”

 

            The interesting development, which will be lost in the post-holiday, weekend, New Year news cycle shuffle (much as trash collection gets moved about and forgotten) is the active and immediate opposition to this “new tax district” by the Licking County Chamber of Commerce (Chamber objects to Etna Township tax plan No action yet taken toward formalizing proposal Dec. 24, 2013 by Chad Klimack). The Advocate (and Chamber) were very generous in allowing the people a look see at the content of a letter posted December 24 addressed to the Etna Township trustees voicing the Chamber’s displeasure with this proposed course of action. Analysis recommends reading the entire article as well as online copy of the letter before it becomes a pay-per-view archive. Segments of Klimack’s report that Analysis found of interest:

“Evers [Dan Evers, economic development director of Grow Licking County] asked to speak at Tuesday’s special meeting, but since the meeting agenda included no space for public comment he was not allowed to speak. When asked about the letter and the chamber’s opposition to the proposed taxing districts, Evers said, “The principal concern is that it creates an unanticipated and potentially significant expense for existing businesses.” Evers, who said he did not have a list of opposing township businesses, added the chamber has reached out to various township officials to articulate their concerns regarding the proposal. Those discussions, Evers said, occurred in private.”

“The township’s economic panel has spent months debating the creation of a JEDD or JEDZ.”

“The difference between the two is a board or council can create a JEDD via a unanimous vote of its own, while a JEDZ must be created by a vote of the public. Etna Township currently is considering the creation of a taxing district that would cover 65 parcels and roughly 1,670 acres. Almost all the acreage would stand around the Interstate 70-Ohio 310 interchange or around Etna Corporate Park north of U.S. 40. The district near the interstate would encompass all four corners of the interchange and several existing businesses, including those on Columbus Expressway and Ohio 310, north and south of the interchange. The district encompassing the corporate park would include existing businesses inside the park, in addition to hundreds of undeveloped acres between U.S. 40, Mink Street and Refugee Road. [Etna Township Trustee John] Carlisle said the newest proposal, which would include a 1.5-percent income tax, if approved, could help the township generate money to pour into its roads. Township voters in recent years have defeated two road and bridge levies, leaving the fast-growing township without one.”

In light of the Taylor Road annexation, it gets even better: ““We’ve been tapping into our general fund to do road and bridge projects in the township because the road and bridge fund doesn’t have enough funds,” Carlisle said. “Everybody is stuck on the (Ohio) 310 bridge, but this is more than the (Ohio) 310 bridge. this is about doing some things in the township we would like to be able to do.” As Carlisle referenced, the Ohio Department of Transportation and Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission have pledged to fund the bulk of the $11-$12 million project to expand the Interstate 70/Ohio 310 interchange, but the township must come up with the remaining $2.6 million. It currently does not have that much money, Carlisle said. Hottinger references the multi-million interchange project in her letter. She said the chamber has talked to “a number” of [unnamed] businesses and property owners who view the project as “premature and perhaps unnecessary and/or ineffective.” Etna officials, in addition to officials from Pataskala, meanwhile, have championed the project, arguing it could reduce congestion and speed up commutes for residents from both communities.”

Who pays, you might ask? “A JEDD or JEDZ only taxes workers and businesses inside the district boundaries, and many of those workers, Carlisle said, come from outside the township. Roughly 10 percent of the people who work inside ProLogis Park live in the township, Carlisle said. The people who do not should help pay for the upkeep of the township’s roads since they use them, Carlisle added. “Every one of those people who work at the corporate park have to drive a township road to get there,” said Carlisle. The chamber would be more amenable to another taxing district, Evers said, if the township was again looking at placing one over undeveloped land.”

“In her letter, Hottinger argues the existing businesses in the township funneled significant investments into their facilities, and a proposed taxing district would generate no expanded services for them.” With the final line being:

“Still, Carlisle cautioned the township has not reached a decision on the matter.

“We’re open to discussions with (the county chamber),” Carlisle said.”

 

            In the 3-26-13 post entitled Ohio Tax Credit, Analysis gave an in depth look at JEDD’s, the Chamber, JobsOhio and Pro Logis, etc. Other posts have referenced these occurrences in Etna township, especially in terms of greenfield development (undeveloped farm land) for which Etna township was highly desirable. Analysis insists on historical context in evaluating these recent pressing developments (of how to pay for infrastructure development utilized by corporate entities as well as the people). One of the businesses included in the 310 interchange projected overlay hosted Governor Kasich and Mitt Romney in a large rally during the 2012 election. That business was touted as a model of how the business outlook is the answer to what we the people need. The Citizens United Supreme Court ruling should also not be overlooked for it enabled the National Chamber of Commerce to lobby unabashedly (and lavishly) for candidates and issues during that election. Lobbying discussed on the evening news out of Washington creates concern. Here we the people are witnessing it in our own backyard. Revolving door political administration occurring in Washington DC likewise finds itself reproduced with Mr. Burkholder’s résumé. Although the Supreme Court has extended 14th amendment rights of citizenship to corporate entities, unlike we the people, they assert their exception to funding infrastructure that they likewise use (“Every one of those people who work at the corporate park have to drive a township road to get there,”). These corporate “persons” could always claim they only access their buildings by helicopter or drones, but the freight, delivery trucks and airport shuttles beg to differ. The same folks who achieved Citizens United now have McCutcheon vs. FEC before the court, hoping to maintain the un-disclose-able privacy of their monetary stake, along with the privacy that the Chamber employs in establishing corporate exceptionalism from sharing in community infrastructure maintenance and development costs. They prefer to let we the people caught up in the rush hour traffic pay for it (as we go to and from our jobs at these very corporate facilities). Improvements “would generate no expanded services for them.” All this contributes to the income disparity within our country through the bifurcation of we the people into “Us and Them”. Corporate entities (considered persons by the Supreme Court) don’t need to address commonly shared problems through public means but are entitled to “Those discussions … [which have] occurred in private.” Who pays? The 90% of workers who “come from outside the township”. This all just multiplies and reinforces the us/them identity of we the people