Posts Tagged ‘Citizens United’

C U And US

February 28, 2020

The daily news of “the 2020 Presidential election,” with all its analysis, projection and punditry, borders on boredom (noun, the state of being bored. Bored, adjective, feeling weary because one is unoccupied or lacks interest in one’s current activity). The GOP has its anointed candidate. The Democrat’s don’t. Amidst their embarrassment of riches they cannot seem to coalesce around a single precious gem, hence the ongoing contested spectacle. Each attempts to out-differentiate the other. All claim difference with today’s front runner, Bernie Sanders. Even Mr. Sanders’ closest kin, Elizabeth Warren, asserts major difference from Mr. Sanders. Analysis can’t help but wonder what the situation would be if there were two democratic socialist candidates in the contested field of Democratic Presidential wannabe’s. There are, after all, two self-funded billionaires. There are two women. There are two flyover country aspirants. And two east coast senators. What if there were two democratic socialists? Being able to imagine two greatly clarifies the muddled contested Democratic spectacle. What is grossly apparent, but goes completely unseen, would become categorized as one of many (two), and therefore not novel or unique. The “naturalness” of two of a kind (two self-funded billionaires, two Midwesterners, etc.) would offset the current outrageous audacity of difference presented by Mr. Sanders. After all, it is difference within ubiquity that becomes the natural prey of bullies. But who is the bully? In 2010, just a couple of years after George Bush’s financial meltdown, barely one year into the Obama Presidency, and well before the ACA or Occupy Wall Street, the SCOTUS handed down its Citizen United ruling, essentially extending the rights of personhood to corporate entities (on the basis of the 14thAmendment to the US Constitution). Money is speech. This was greeted with much handwringing, consternation and prognostication by the pundits and political class. What would become of our political process in this American democracy? Well, we’ve witnessed it. Voices, organizers and rallies by self-funded billionaire candidates are, yawn, part of the boring political spectacle (see “feeling weary…” above). Which brings us to the obvious that an imagined pair of democratic socialists would reveal: all the currently vying candidates for president of the US in the 2020 election, save one, want to reserve a place at the table for corporate persons (even though they don’t vote). Some want all the chairs filled by corporate persons (like the incumbent). Some a lot, some a few, some not many but still feel a need for their presence at the governing table. The only one who doesn’t believe that corporate persons (who do not vote) have a place at  the table in the governance of democracy is the democratic socialist. Right now there is only one. What if there were two?

Something For Something

November 1, 2019

How many readers have been to Walmart to buy something? It’s a simple operation, all too natural. One picks out the desired something, generic or brand name, goes to the check out, pays for it and walks out. End of conversation. Indeed, it can be done entirely with no conversation whatsoever. Using the self serve to scan the something, insert a plastic something and , Voila! One walks out the door, something in hand. Quid Pro Quo? Has the reader ever thought to call it that? But there was no conversation. According to the SCOTUS there was a conversation, though not a verbal word was spoken at the self serve check out. Money is speech, according to the Citizens United ruling. The plastic said “this for that” and the Walmart automated check out said “This for that, indeed!” Deed done. Who’d a thunk it? Like the caterpillar who couldn’t move when he was asked how he does it, it’s all so natural that it doesn’t cause any hang ups until attention is paid to the act itself. No quid pro quo in the exchange of money for service? No conversation if it is money that is being exchanged? ““Our intention is to make this a hotel and we’ve just got to make the numbers work,” he [Steve Coon with Coon Restorations] said. “It’s a heavy lift, but it’s a great project to spend the time on to make happen.” Coon says right now there is no price tag on the project, but he and his partners will be going after state and federal tax breaks as well as grants.” (Bryan Somerville, WBNS,10-21-19). Who’s talking? What are they saying? Quid Pro Quo? “Get over it. We do it all the time” (Mick Mulvaney). “Mayor Jeff Hall said the use of the building continues the Longaberger legacy. “It’s about a building that deserves the respect.,” Hall said. “A hotel is a perfect fit because it’s open to the public. Dave Longaberger would be happy with that. It’s the right people and the right property. These guys are not in the business of losing money.”” (Kent Mallett, The Advocate, 10-21-19). Speaking of money, and buildings: “”When you have a community our size, you can’t bring up the whole community at once,” Hall said. “You can’t fix every aspect of it. Downtown is a commercial district. If you put the dollars first in the commercial district, then raise those revenues, create some more jobs, it creates more funds to put in the neighborhoods. So, that’s the next step. “I think we’re moving in the right direction to keep that economic growth moving. It’s not easy. When we talk to employers they want to see nice downtowns, they want to see unique things to be considered for the short list for them to consider moving their company here.”” (Mallett, The Advocate, 10-11-19) ““Every once in awhile I’ve got to tell council members it’s all great ideas, but I got to pay the bills,” Hall said. “I appreciate Mr. Blake’s thoughts and surely understand all those conditions, but how are you going to do it? That’s something critical because it takes dollars. We have to deal with the money we have. Ideas are wonderful, but you’ve got to fund ideas. “I’d like to have a busing service, a fixed-route busing service. Can’t afford it. There are things you can’t afford. You reach a balanced budget by saying no to things.”” “Hall said the new fire station to be built on Sharon Valley Road is essential to reduce the slow response times in that area of the city, which has continued to grow. “That whole area has changed in 20 years, so as a result fire response needs to change,” Hall said. “Finding the location for a fire station is tough. If your house is on fire, you’d love for it next door to you. Every other day of the year, you don’t want it next door.”” “Hall said, “We have metrics and the metrics help make the (fire) decisions. That (East End) station out there was built when the Longaberger Basket had 500 employees. It does not anymore. We looked at need and run data. Nothing has suffered out there because of that station being re-used for another purpose.”” (Mallett, The Advocate, 10-20-19) “Incumbent Mayor Jeff Hall not only outspent his general election opponent, City Councilman Jeremy Blake, but the mayor had a large advantage in cash remaining for the final weeks of the campaign.” “Hall received donations from many of the business leaders in the area, as well as fellow Republican politicians. The mayor said it’s nice to have the support of the business community. “They say they believe in you and your results,” Hall said. “Certainly, we have had a plan for economic development. That’s something prior administrations didn’t necessarily have. It’s something that’s good for the community to be economically stable, so you don’t have to tax everyone.” Of the mayor’s 141 contributions, seven were at least $500, including: $1,200 from Realtors Political Action, of Columbus; $1,000 from Steven Hitchens, of Newark; $1,000 from Sean Weekley, of Newark; $500 each from Licking County Republican Boosters, Carol DuVal, of Heath, James Matesich, of Granville, and Duke Frost, of Newark.” (Mallett, The Advocate, 10-28-19). Analysis finds it curious that the major “issue” in the verbal conversation regarding the future mayor of Newark has centered on the projected Sharon Valley fire station. The incumbent (Jeff, “It’s about a building that deserves the respect.” Hall) is all in on the capital (building) expenditure without regard to the staffing (people employed) while the challenger (Jeremy Blake) is concerned with staffing concerns as a priority. A Google map shows the urgency of the “issue”: prime land to be developed residential just south of Log Pond Run, with an anticipated road extension from Baker Blvd. to the Evans athletic complex. Residential development is contingent on insurance underwriting which in turn is determined by, you guessed it, available fire service. The fly in the ointment for Newark’s future mayor is Le Hotel Baskeet that likewise will require insurance underwriting (“to make the numbers work”) which in turn will find a nearby defunct fire station on the east end. Newark extends northward to the Trout Club (and beyond), making closing the Hollander Street fire station untenable. Analysis shows having the “verbal” conversation of staffing capital (building) expenditure is a much more materially effective approach to the growing and changing community’s needs than the traditional “quid pro quo” money speech of Citizens United. Oh, and by the way, “Quid Pro Quo” is “something for something” in Latin.

 

 

 

 

Who Really Pays For The Wall?

January 7, 2019

The number one news story of 2018 by the Newark Advocate, according to the Newark Advocate, was the demise of Longaberger. To make a long story short, property in Muskingum County as well as Licking County was developed in order to manufacture and sell hand made baskets, home décor, etc. The central office building in Licking County was built in the shape of a picnic basket, handles and all. The company went through various reincarnations until it ran out of karma. The buildings and real property steadily lost value as their original use could not be easily replicated. What company seeks a picnic basket shaped office building? State Farm? They are actively seeking to shrink their footprint in Newark. On the other end of Newark sits the now defunct Meritor plant. Same game, different players. Who wants an antiquated former factory building? Down the road is the Newark Port Authority’s public money investment adjacent the still functioning Kaiser Plant. Like the Kaiser Plant, Meritor Factory and Basket Building, the new big box distribution centers, warehouses and manufacturing developments down 79 and in New Albany are tailor made for the prospective tenant. One sits idle, clean room and all, in the Port Authority development as the tenant did not materialize. The public funding of these developments can range from any and all of land acquisition, subsidies, infrastructure, tax breaks as well as tax credits. Grow Licking County, Newark Development Partners, along with JobsOhio justify this “public investment” in terms of potential income tax revenue to be earned through the employment opportunity as well as sundry commerce generated. Success stories such as Kroger’s Market Center occupying the long vacant Meijer grocery are touted while the vacant former Chesrown dealership less than a mile away are elided. The Market Center demolished the old grocery store in order to custom make the new one. The former Kroger store on Deo Drive is likewise vacant, though it is not a stand alone commercial building (part of a strip mall). The stand alone north Newark Walmart was built on a vacant wetland and one would like to believe that it is now no longer being subsidized by tax breaks and credits, but actually generating full property tax revenue. What all of these commercial developments, along with others, have in common is that they are real property “improvements” made with a specific and exclusive utility (and very limited at that). They are not interchangeable or variable like residential property development. As with the Chesrown, Meijer, Longaberger and Meritor real estate improvements (buildings), it is the tenant that brings value to the real estate, not the material improvement to the vacant land. The 1-6-19 NY Times ran an article by Patricia Cohen entitled As Big Retailers Seek to Cut Their Tax Bills, Towns Bear the Brunt. “With astonishing range and rapidity, big-box retailers and corporate giants are using an aggressive legal tactic to shrink their property tax bills, a strategy that is costing local governments and school districts around the country hundreds of millions of dollars in lost revenue. These businesses — many of them brick-and-mortar stores like Walmart, Home Depot, Target, Kohl’s, Menards and Walgreens that have faced fierce online competition — maintain that no matter how valuable a thriving store is to its current owner, these warehouse-type structures are not worth much to anyone else.” The “foundation” of the legal arguments is that appraisals of real property for tax reasons are based on comparable sales of like properties in the neighborhood. So if adjacent agricultural land is selling for $25K an acre, that’s the assessed taxable value of an acre of farmland. It matters little if it was a corn field, forest, wetlands or truck salvage yard. The same happens with residential properties. Now the corporate attorneys want ditto for commercial properties. Newark and Licking County residents would do well to check the easy money provided to corporate developers by Tim Bubb, Duane Flowers, Rick Black and Newark Mayor Jeff Hall through the likes of Grow Licking County and Newark Development Partners. “Businesses, of course, appeal property assessments as routinely as coaches work the refs. But this approach — labeled dark store theory by critics — significantly broadens the basis for those appeals while threatening to undermine municipalities’ ability to raise operating funds. “The potential for a domino effect of property tax appeals across the commercial and industrial portions of the tax base, which, were it to occur, could have a much more profound effect on some governments’ ability to levy” property taxes,” S&P Global Ratings concluded in a report last year. For a smaller town or school district, “the financial impact could be devastating,” said Scott Nees, a co-author of the report, noting that it could also threaten localities’ ability to borrow money.” “In the Lowe’s case, the company spent more than $16 million to buy the land and construct its 140,000-square-foot building less than a dozen years ago. The city [Wauwatosa, Wisconsin] assessed the spot in a bustling retail hub right off Highway 41 at $13.6 million. The company’s appraisal was $7.1 million, based on sales of empty and once empty buildings in other neighborhoods.” ““Either my property taxes are going to go up or my schools are going to suffer,” said Lisa Williams, who lives in a classic Craftsman-style bungalow a few minutes’ drive from Lowe’s in Wauwatosa, a comfortable suburb of Milwaukee. “The stores want to get all the benefits of being here without any of the costs.”” ““These warehouses are obsolete pretty much from the moment they build them,” said Robert Hill, a lawyer in Minnesota who has represented Walmart, Menards, Walgreens, CVS, Sturm Foods, United Healthcare and other companies. “It doesn’t matter whether they’re for sale in a suburb of Virginia or Nome, Alaska.”” Analysis finds that the GOP federal tax cut which mainly benefitted corporate interests was only an additional step in the redefinition of personhood by the SCOTUS ruling of Citizens United. It likewise clearly defines the GOP’s push to privatize America. Increasingly Licking County’s GOP administrators absolve local government from public service obligations because “there is no money” while subsidizing corporate “citizens.” Corporate persons “want to get all the benefits of being here without any of the costs.” Who really pays for the Wall, or schools, or roads, or water and sewage, or anything else for that matter?

 

Like A Perfect Storm

June 19, 2018

In the collage of images concerning America’s latest internment enterprise are some detainees dressed in the local native garb of place of origin, usually children. Most are dressed in everyday uniform “camouflage”, the non descript generic fashion offerings of Walmart or Target. Analysis is dedicated to the local, and the interface of the local with what is national or global in scope. Analysis has written (more than once) about public transportation, and the bias for autos and highways dating back to the Eisenhower Federal Highway Act of 1956. Analysis has written about Citizens United (more than once) and the influence of corporate wealth and lobbyist largesse in destroying the urban bus and trolley lines so Americans could “See the USA in their Chevrolet.” Analysis has written about the organizing savvy and expertise (more than once) of those aspiring for a single vision of America as it was (locally as well as nationally) fending off continuous threats in a politics of eternity; where there is no aspired future, no achieved goal, no progress or better but only the continuous replay of threats and adversaries to a vision of angst saturated security. Like a perfect storm, Hiroko Tabuchi headlined How the Koch brothers are killing public transit projects around the country (NY Times 6-19-18). “In cities and counties across the country — including Little Rock, Ark.; Phoenix, Ariz.; southeast Michigan; central Utah; and here in Tennessee — the Koch brothers are fueling a fight against public transit, an offshoot of their longstanding national crusade for lower taxes and smaller government. At the heart of their effort is a network of activists who use a sophisticated data service built by the Kochs, called i360, that helps them identify and rally voters who are inclined to their worldview. It is a particularly powerful version of the technologies used by major political parties. In places like Nashville, Koch-financed activists are finding tremendous success.” “One of the mainstay companies of Koch Industries, the Kochs’ conglomerate, is a major producer of gasoline and asphalt, and also makes seatbelts, tires and other automotive parts. Even as Americans for Prosperity opposes public investment in transit, it supports spending tax money on highways and roads.” “Nashville’s idea to invest in transit got off to a strong start. Introduced in October by Megan Barry, who was mayor at the time, it called for 26 miles of light rail, a bus network, and a 1.8-mile tunnel for buses and trains that would bypass the city center’s narrow streets. The $5.4 billion proposal, the costliest transit project in Nashville’s history, was to be funded by raising the sales tax city residents pay by one percentage point, to 10.25 percent, and raising other business taxes. A coalition of Nashville businesses urged voters to endorse the spending as vital to a region projected to grow to almost 3 million people by 2040, an increase of 1 million.” “Central to the work of Americans for Prosperity is i360, the Kochs’ data operation, which profiles Americans based on their voter registration information, consumer data and social media activities. The canvassers divided the neighborhoods into “walkbooks,” or clusters of several dozen homes, and broke into teams of two.” “Their data zeroed in on people thought to be anti-tax or anti-transit and likely to vote.” Etc. Etc. Etc. And, lest we forget, the (dark) money behind it all: “In Nashville, Americans for Prosperity played a major role: organizing door-to-door canvassing teams using iPads running the i360 software. Those in-kind contributions can be difficult to measure. According to A.F.P.’s campaign finance disclosure, the group made only one contribution, of $4,744, to the campaign for “canvassing expenses.” Instead, a local group, NoTax4Tracks, led the Nashville fund-raising. Nearly three-quarters of the $1.1 million it raised came from a single nonprofit, Nashville Smart Inc., which is not required to disclose donors. The rest of the contributions to NoTax4Tracks came from wealthy local donors, including a local auto dealer. Both NoTax4Tracks and Nashville Smart declined to fully disclose their funding.” Sound familiar? (hint: the VW union organizing effort subverted in like manner, in same state) A new trail of tears? Thursday evening, June 21, 2018 the Freedom School will air their last film of the series – You Got To Move: Stories of Change in the South (7:00 PM GMP Hall 350 Hudson Ave Newark). “In this recently re-released film from 1985, film maker Lucy Massie Phenix interviews people who describe how they learned to set aside their fears and work for change in their own communities on issues as varied as voting rights, segregation, union organizing, strip mining and toxic waste.” (from the promo) Given the ubiquitous use of “latest technology,” like i360, by both political parties as well as special interest groups like the NRA and Americans For Prosperity (all brought to you by the makers of Citizens United), what the local Newark Freedom School offers bears a striking resemblance to the local native garb worn by some of the Central American refugee children pictured on the screens of Americans’ visual device of choice – small pinpoints of genuine intimate color and style awash in a sea of generic conformity made possible by the latest technology.

In The Hall Closet

June 27, 2016

Newark once again is considering putting a personal income tax increase on the ballot (Newark voters may see income tax increase on ballot, Newark Advocate, 6-26-16). Go not so far back in the way back machine, dear reader, to an Advocate editorial at the end of 2015 looking forward to the upcoming year (2016 holds much promise for Newark, 12-27-15). In it the editorial board pinned all its hopes and confidence on the newly elected Republican majority, coupled with the Republican city administration (not to mention the State judiciary). Analysis wonders whether Mayor Jeff Hall kept his cheerleading outfit from the last income tax campaign. Will it still fit? We all seem to fill out around the middle with the passage of time and the same old same old. No mention of whether it is to be on the ballot in the fall, down ticket from the presidential and senate selections. Given the current “populist” penchant of the Republican party, the mayor better have some pretty good routines perfected. The lackluster, mediocre “Rah, Rah” of the previous campaign won’t cut it. Will the mayor take to tweeting instead of twerking? Then again, perhaps the behind the scenes politicians know something about the future of the Republican party post Trump that isn’t readily available to the rest of us, and that The Advocate has no financial incentive to reveal (or could it be, has financial incentive not to reveal? You choose). Do income tax increases loom in the every man’s paycheck with a Trump presidency? Has Ronald Reagan become an emoji? Pardon the digression. Analysis is more interested in the closet politicians, the behind the scenes persons who decide what the downtown should look like, what gets done, in what order, what roads to widen and change direction to accommodate their vision, what bridges to rebuild, what is under developed (and out of reach) and what is worth developing (and on the margins). Yes Virginia, corporations are now persons, closeted political leaders. Analysis finds the increased rate of taxation on the proposed income tax hike not to have been arrived at with the throw of a dart. The original lesser percent increase failed ballot approval. In accord with the new Trump logic, the administration doubled down on the increase. It will be absolutely fantastic. You’ll love it, a huge success. And we’ll get the out of town workers to pay for it! Analysis finds an income tax to be essentially a tax imposed on revenue generated. A personal income tax is one imposed upon the revenue generated by a person. Closeted politicians have successfully achieved income tax cuts, abatements and credits for their person while excluding their own revenue stream from any “personal” income tax. Operating “behind the scenes,” who is to question that the needs of the city can only be met by a personal income tax increase? Just arrived, by Amazon Prime and waiting in the Hall closet, is a brand new cheerleading outfit. Go Bucks!

Why Bernie Continues

May 23, 2016

When a SCOTUS majority decided Citizens United, media world was all a tizzy with speculation as to what the future of politics would be. The Move To Amend folks would like us to believe it will be a safer world if it were otherwise, not unlike the second amendment faithful whose credo is that if everyone carries a gun, society would be more civil and respectful. Then again, there would be no SCOTUS to turn to for a ruling questioning such an amendment as the court is, at present, evenly divided. To complicate matters even more, with the court’s Evenwel vs. Abbott ruling, it reaffirmed the basis of representation (within this representative form of government) to be persons – not specifically limited to those eligible to vote (see this blog A Bridge Too Far 12-13-15). A different definition of personhood may have resulted in a likewise different decision, founding representation on eligible voters and not a census count of persons – creating the dilemma of “free” persons (those who can and do vote) and others (veritable non-entities). This is a crucial distinction to bear in mind with regard to our electoral process (which the Move To Amend folks say is affected by the SCOTUS definition of person). As it stands currently, anyone can have a say. Ruled otherwise, only those who show up to vote have a say. But isn’t that what is actually present today? Jeb Bush had substantial financial backing (that speaks), and dropped out, as eventually did Ben Carson, Ted Cruz, etc. Finally, Ohio’s Governor John Kasich quit the race to represent the people as president because he wasn’t winning (anything at all – popular votes, delegates, or contested convention possibility). Enormous sums of money were spent by corporate “persons” in an attempt to ground the Trump jet. One of the outcomes of the SCOTUS C U decision (unanticipated by media world) is that elections (to date) are not about “buying” but “winning”. Like a sport or game, Americans associate politics, and elections in particular, with who wins (and gets to govern) and who loses (and is forgotten). Hillary plays the game so well that even before the first primary vote was cast, or caucus held, she was projected by media world as the inevitable winner. Indeed, according to the game as played by the Democratic Party, she was ahead in delegates before any voting started, always maintaining winner status with media world no matter the outcome of any primary election. Yet Bernie continues. Media world (which includes not only news and sports reporters but gamers, entertainers, gamblers, etc.) speculates his continuance is in order to be assured inclusion and input at the convention (“a place at the table”), or to affect the party platform, maybe even to obtain a position within a fantasized future administration, etc. Analysis finds these to be way off the mark. Analysis reveals the two SCOTUS rulings to be more informative and relevant in explaining why Bernie continues. Repeatedly this blog has referenced the 47% statistic that Romney cited only 4 short years ago. 47% of Americans have no net worth (either owe more than is theirs or are one step away from having their financial equilibrium upset and falling into debt). According to Romney, these are persons who can be bought (at that time a GOP twist of C U interpretation – to say the Obama administration was “buying” their vote). Likewise these are not persons who themselves can “buy” representation (an indebted 18 – 30 year old cannot afford to “buy” an election choice the way Las Vegas casino owner Sheldon Adelson can). Here’s the sticky part, the rub that explains Sanders’ continuous effort. Is this 47%, who cannot “buy” their speech, “free” to govern itself (eligible to vote) or are they other (simply counted for the sake of representation but no more voting individuals than corporations are)? Sanders’ continuous campaign, from before its inception, has been about this very segment governing itself through voting, the electoral process. Through his continued personal engagement as contested activity, this is an actuality, not a possibility, not an “if” proposition (“if you vote for me…”) – not a game or sport (all about winning). Donnie and Hillary are all about “winning” (the bread and butter of media world). “Winning” and self-governance are not one and the same. This difference explains why Bernie continues.

Ring That Bell

April 28, 2016

On 4-24-16 CBS 60 Minutes ran an exposé entitled “Dialing For Dollars” with Norah O’Donnell. “The American public has a low opinion of Congress. Only 14 percent think it’s doing a good job. But Congress has excelled in one way. Raising money. Members of Congress raised more than a billion dollars for their 2014 election. And they never stop. Nearly every day, they spend hours on the phone asking supporters and even total strangers for campaign donations — hours spent away from the jobs they were elected to do. The pressure on candidates to raise money has ratcheted up since the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision in 2010.” “By law, members of Congress cannot make fundraising calls from their offices. So both parties have set up “call centers” just a few blocks away. This is where the Republicans have theirs.” O’Donnell quotes Republican former Florida congressman and current GOP Senate primary candidate David Jolly: “It is a cult-like boiler room on Capitol Hill where sitting members of Congress, frankly I believe, are compromising the dignity of the office they hold by sitting in these sweatshop phone booths calling people asking them for money. And their only goal is to get $500 or $1,000 or $2,000 out of the person on the other end of the line.” How exactly does that work? Jolly: “We sat behind closed doors at one of the party headquarter back rooms in front of a white board where the equation was drawn out. You have six months until the election. Break that down to having to raise $2 million in the next six months. And your job, new member of Congress, is to raise $18,000 a day. Your first responsibility is to make sure you hit $18,000 a day.” Rick Nolan, Democrat Minnesota congressman, is quoted as saying: “Well, both parties have told newly elected members of the Congress that they should spend 30 hours a week in the Republican and Democratic call centers across the street from the Congress, dialing for dollars.” New York Democrat congressman Steve Israel concurred: “I’d have to put in about an hour, maybe an hour and a half, at most, two hours a day into fundraising. And that’s the way it went until 2010, when Citizens United was enacted. At that point, everything changed. And I had to increase that to two, three, sometimes four hours a day, depending on what was happening in the schedule.” Today, The Newark Advocate headlined that Licking County’s own congressional representative Pat “Tiberi eyes Senate bid in 2018” (Deirdre Shesgreen, Gannett Ohio, 2-27-16). “Earlier this month, the congressman’s campaign sent out a news release touting his fundraising prowess. The missive noted that Tiberi had more money in the bank than Ted Strickland, the former Ohio governor and Democrat running against Portman. Tiberi, who has a safe Republican congressional district, closed the first quarter of 2016 with nearly $4 million on hand, compared to Strickland’s $1.2 million.” Analysis finds this to be a sure sign of a hard worker. “Norah O’Donnell: You’re saying members of Congress are becoming like telemarketers? Rep. Rick Nolan: Well, 30 hours a week, that’s a lot of telemarketing. Probably more than most telemarketers do.” Pat Tiberi, hardest working telemarketer central Ohio has sent to Washington. Ring that bell!

Ohio House Bill 394

January 17, 2016

Writing for the Columbus Dispatch on 1-11-16, Catherine Candisky reported on Representative Barbara Sears’ Ohio House Bill 394 (Unemployment benefits changes would ‘dismantle’ anti-poverty program, advocates say). This stealth bill is plodding along the legislative track on its way to being signed into law by presidential wannabe John Kasich. “At a news conference on Monday in Columbus, Advocates for Ohio’s Future, a coalition of nearly 500 health- and human-services groups, said Sears’ bill goes further than any other state to limit benefits to the unemployed.” Currently the proposed bill is in committee, the house insurance committee (previous stomping ground of Newark’s Jay Hottinger who now is in the Senate). This combination of practically non existent press coverage, “grass roots” (conservative base) sponsorship, and radical sweeping change (from those ostensibly opposed to change) may have Ohioans waking up one morning not recognizing the state they live in. AP headlines like yesterday’s “Kansas’ uncertain state finances weighs on some lawmakers”(by Jim Suhr and John Hanna 1-16-16) and a plethora recently from the incredible tragedy in Flint Michigan (state fiscal austerity ahead of public health considerations) indicate determining that problems have been eliminated or don’t exist by legislative fiat simply doesn’t work. The outcomes can be severe. Candisky quotes Sears as saying “it’s just too late to start over.” (is it?), though she is entertaining amendments for those deemed exceptional. “The bill, she said, seeks to shore up Ohio’s unemployment-compensation fund by severely limiting benefits to workers who lose a job. According to an analysis by the independent Legislative Service Commission, H.B. 394 would reduce taxes paid by employers into Ohio’s unemployment compensation fund by $313 million on average each year through 2025. During that same time, benefits to workers would be reduced by an average of $475 million annually.” “In addition, the bill would: Reduce benefits to 12 weeks in times of low unemployment, tying Ohio with North Carolina for lowest in the country. Eliminate added benefits for workers with dependents. Mandate that employees work during at least three quarters in the year to qualify for benefits, a requirement in no other state. Disqualify from benefits any worker who violates their employer handbook, a requirement in no other state. Reduce benefits for senior workers based on the amount of Social Security they receive.” Last Sunday (1-10-16) The Newark Advocate ran Licking County Commissioner Tim Bubb’s “A look back and ahead for Licking County”. In true “year in review “ fashion, the accomplishments and successes of the Licking County Chamber of Commerce administered public/private partnership, Grow Licking County, were touted. Following SCOTUS Citizen United ruling precedent (that corporations are persons), the commissioner, and Grow Licking County board member, cited corporate entity after corporate entity responsible for the greatness of Licking County Ohio in the past and upcoming year. Not a single living human being was named in the entire column! Analysis finds no change in the county’s poverty within that period, nor any mention of it by Commissioner Bubb. At the end of her article Candisky reports “Sears said the trend toward part-time workers suggests Ohio’s tax climate is not competitive or attractive to businesses.” Do tell.

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.

Curiouser And Curiouser

October 27, 2015

The October 27, 2015 online Newark Advocate staff headlines “Park National reports income jumps nearly 10 percent”. “Park National Corp. announced net income for the third quarter was more than $20 million, an increase of nearly 10 percent compared to the same period in 2014.” Yadda, yadda, yadda. “The corporation’s net income for the year, through Sept. 30, was $60.1 million, compared to $59.7 million for the first nine months of last year.” More yadda. “The Park National Bank loan portfolio expanded during the third quarter. Loans outstanding on Sept. 30, were $4.96 billion, compared to $4.86 billion on June 30, an increase of $100 million, or an annualized 8.19 percent. Loan growth during the quarter increased across all loan categories, including mortgage loan growth of $10 million, commercial loan growth of $70 million and consumer loan growth of $20 million.” Readers cognizant of previous posts will be mindful to note that for a bank, outstanding loans are considered as assets (sources of income). The Advocate staff writes: “Total assets for Park National Bank were $7.2 billion on Sept. 30, an increase from $6.9 billion the previous year.” Analysis wrote all that in order to consider what the Christian Science Monitor came out with on the same day in an article by Husna Haq entitled “Bill Gates just endorsed socialism, sort of: A boost for Bernie Sanders?”. Though the bulk of the article is about America’s relation to socialism (both as policy and as linguistic term) broken down into demographics and history, Haq does more than use Bill Gates as a teaser: “In an interview with Atlantic that made headlines across the Internet, the former Microsoft CEO-turned philanthropist argued that “the private sector is in general inept” as a tool to manage climate change because “there’s no fortune to be made,” and that the only solution lies with government. Governments, he said, must dramatically increase spending on research and development to combat climate change. Private companies should play a supporting role by paying the costs of rolling out those technologies. “Yes, the government will be somewhat inept,” Mr. Gates said. “But the private sector is in general inept. How many companies do venture capitalists invest in that go poorly? By far most of them.”” Analysis finds this curious. The ONLY proposal for revenue enhancement embraced by the two candidates for mayor of Newark is some kind of income tax. But of course, this is not an income tax on the income of the newly created “persons” of corporations (see SCOTUS Citizens United ruling). It would be an income tax on the income of the other “persons” of Newark. Linguistically they appear identical, but somehow, policy-wise, they differ. ‘Nuff said. It is, however, very curious that for something that affects (and effects) us all, Mr. Gates places his trust in government and not private enterprise. The incumbent candidate for mayor of Newark prefers to rely on the private sector when it comes to something that affects (and effects) the residents of his city (like paving the streets). That is, until it comes to generating income, which is a horse of a different color (it would be politically incorrect to say “person of a different color” though it would imply that the income of one “person” can be taxed while that of another “person” cannot).

“O, what a tangled web we weave,

When first we practice to deceive!”

Sir Walter Scott, Marmion (1808), Canto VI, st. 17