Posts Tagged ‘Community Organizing’

Separate Reality

October 16, 2015

Only a fence post would have considered the recent Newark Advocate/Chamber mayoral “debate” without regard, reference, or remembrance of the current national candidate “debates’ (which have been drawing record viewership). Analysis was taken aback by the striking dissemblance of the two, the national and Newark’s. True, true, true, the local was not a production of any competitive capitalist endeavor like adversarial news organizations (CNN, NBC, Murdoch’s Fox). It cannot go unsaid that the Advocate is without competition in terms of Newark, and the Licking County Chamber of Commerce is the largest representative of business interest in central Ohio. The event site itself was one of Chamber membership. This difference must be noted in that it was unlike past candidate meetings/issue forums at different levels/different communities (national, state, and local) structured by social/community groups like the League of Women Voters, the NAACP, or even schools or institutions of higher learning. The mayoral debate’s structure, 100% by the business community within a private business setting (not within a 100% public space) set the tone, agenda, and format for the entire event. The recent national events, highlighting the “outsider” setting the tone or deciding the issues, was markedly absent. It was two different worlds. Newark’s incumbent stressed his accountant’s forte of, well, accounting. The challenger was not very challenging. Was this out of deference to the event’s organizers whom ultimately must be be served and defended? No one asked the question of how one candidate would be better than the other for a resident living on Maholm Street. That Newark has one of the highest percentages of non-owner occupant residential housing in Ohio was as absent as the Longaberger imbroglio. That the former site of the Meijer’s store on North 21st Street will have a new landlord was not. Creative alternatives to generating revenue for needed and essential public services, a mainstay of the national debates (be it subversive agitation or blustery braggadocio), were likewise MIA with the Newark version. Public transportation was mentioned as a nostalgic TV reminiscence – We’d love to visit Disney World, princess, but… (the reader can fill in the “Father Knows Best” scripted scenario). Analysis won’t even begin to consider other matters affecting (and effecting) the resident on Maholm Street that appear in the national debates but were curiously absent with the recent local edition. Does Newark exist in a separate reality?

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Community Organizers

October 13, 2015

Community organizers, remember them? No, I mean before they morphed into “social entrepreneurs”, with the ability to strike out on their own for whatever was near and dear to their fluttering hearts, and fund themselves independently (through a variety of public, private, as well as crowd sourcing means). By becoming “social entrepreneurs” they could legitimate an occupation in place of having to find employment with some social organization, which, after the financial meltdown of 2008 and the ascendency of fiscally responsible GOP legislators, has become a little scarce (to say the least). But now, community organizers are back, baby, in demand and on the help wanted roster (coming soon to a jobs fair near you!). Peter Overby for NPR reports “Koch Political Network Takes A Deep Dive Into Community Organizing” (10-12-15). According to Overby “It’s one small part of a long-range plan by Koch Network to build a seamless and legal system of local community and national politics.” Overby points out some of the organizing aspirations: “free market principles, limited government, libertarianism” as well as “the basic message of less government and regulation, more unfettered free enterprise”. Who knew?

“OVERBY: The irony here – none of this is new. Back in the 1880s and early 1900s, political parties were often involved in local communities, but more recently…

THEDA SKOCPOL: Parties have mainly been about raising money and running election campaigns.

OVERBY: Theda Skocpol is a sociologist and political scientist at Harvard. She also leads a group of progressive academics – Scholars Strategy Network. And she’s been studying the Koch Network for several years. She said Koch strategists are emulating what political parties and labor unions used to do. Does the left have anything like this anymore?

SKOCPOL: No (laughter) not even close.”

Then again, Analysis finds no irony in the time period during which community organizers fled that identification for the more lucrative “entrepreneur” association. Who would it surprise, after all, if, upon his term’s expiration, our former Chicago community organizer didn’t himself enter the Washington revolving door and become a top paid Koch consultant?