Posts Tagged ‘Community’

Peter Lives In Newark

December 3, 2017

With the previous post (11-25-17 It May Not Be Racial, But It Is Very Real) Analysis continued the relationship of homeownership and politics in Newark with a look at the material effects of redlining, steering and reverse redlining in the area. This was primarily a historic reckoning with comparison to like events in other communities. Headlining “Licking County 911 Center moving to Heath” The Advocate’s Kent Mallett (11-28-17) gives a current materialization of these trends in policy today. “The Licking County Commissioners and the Heath-Newark-Licking County Port Authority reached agreement on a 10-year lease for use of an 8,500 square foot facility north of the Horton Building.” “The agreement allows the 911 Center to vacate a 25-year-old building that has been settling for years and has structural problems, at 119 East Main St. The 911 Center and Licking County Sheriff’s Office dispatching merged into the new center in 2014. The Ohio Facilities Construction Commission shared concerns about the East Main Street building’s structure with the commissioners in July, citing a report recommending the building be abandoned and demolished due to the probability of excessive settlement, a sudden and abrupt drop and the possibility of a sinkhole.” “Rob Terrill, the 911 Center coordinator, said the new center will allow for 20 dispatch work stations, instead of the current 14. The Emergency Operations Center, now in the basement of the Licking County Sheriff’s Office, will also move into the Heath building.” “”I think we’re saving the taxpayers money by not going to an interim site and then a permanent site,” Commissioner Tim Bubb said. “One move is better than two. We’ve got enough time to do it right the first time. We found a long-term home for the 911 Center that makes sense. This is a very good solution.”” Is it? What is being solved? Analysis reveals more questions than answers, problems than solutions. None of which are being asked (or answered) by Mallett, community “leaders”, or members of Newark’s city council (more interested in raising their standard of pay than the standard of living in their community). There aren’t any vacant 8,500 square foot buildings within Newark City Limits? Another abandoned building/vacant lot to be found on East Main Street? And what of the loss of related city commerce and income tax revenue from the jobs not only moved from the current site, plus the ones from the Emergency Operations Center, but also the added new positions and related business? “”It is a place, even though not an Air Force base, the presence there is very security-minded,” Platt said. “We’ve had a 55-year history of a national security workload. This is a natural fit to continue that legacy. I’m confident our tenants will welcome having them on campus.”” Even though Newark’s champion and number one salesman and promoter justified the late night gazebo demolition with a rational of “Security concerns, Hall said, played into the decision to avoid having people sitting at tables, with backpacks, near the government building.” (Advocate 10-6-17), his silence was deafening when it came to the move of the 911 Center out of Newark and west to Heath. Where were the dump trucks filled with sand during the recent court house lighting that attracted huge crowds on the open streets of Newark’s courthouse square? Do terrorists take a break during the holiday season? Do “security concerns” only arise when there is profit to be made? No, this call center move was just another materialization in the continuing history of redlining and steering in Newark. Mallett et al fail to ask “Who sold them on this move?” As well as “Who benefitted from this long term lease agreement?” After all, Bubb and company all are members of the Port Authority (a public/private partnership). According to past Advocate reports, this is where the hottest commercial real estate is to be had. Why does a tax payer government office need to be located in the high rent district, the area’s version of Trump Tower? Analysis finds it to be a matter of religious belief, a cliché of robbing Peter to pay Paul (see this blog 10-18-17, Steve Bannon Declares Jihad On Infidels). Only in this case Peter lives in Newark, and Paul is anywhere but Newark.

Advertisements

It May Not Be Racial, But It Is Very Real

November 25, 2017

Analysis has found itself considering the close relationship of home ownership and politics in Newark Ohio. Many statistics and definitions must be borne in mind for insights, some of which have been covered extensively in past posts. Some, such as the near 50% of residential housing being non-owner occupant or the low rate of voter turnout, are essential to continuously bear in mind. Others, such as the existence of polarization, gerrymandering or redlining, are a little more difficult to grasp. The interrelationship of all of these does not materialize trippingly on the tongue. Redlining is described readily enough on Wikipedia. However, it is generally associated with racial segregation. According to the census bureau, Newark’s racial diversity is way below the national ratio. As mentioned in the previous posts, polarization appears non-existent within the workings of Newark City Council. And with at large council representation, gerrymandering would be difficult to ascribe to the city’s ward/at large governance. But the recent late night gazebo move brings polarity to the fore (ranks closed tightly along party lines) And past Newark Advocate reporting that has questioned why so many of Newark’s representatives, government administrators and “leaders” all reside in the 5th ward makes gerrymandering more than real for Newark voters. Redlining? In Newark? Naaa. Redlining, steering and reverse redlining have primarily been associated with racist dispositions and denial of access to opportunities. The recent T Day week end Columbus On The Record featured a rerun of a Chasing The Dream panel. One of the panelists, Beth Gifford of Columbus Works, described a recent drive through the streets of her childhood neighborhood, the south side of Columbus. She said it doesn’t look much different today than a half century ago, except the places of employment are gone (manufacturing base) and the stores have disappeared along with it. Only the residences remain, more of which become rentals with each passing year. The south end of her youth was a vibrant mix of restaurants, bars, department stores, large and small employers and church/community identity, etc. Sounds a bit like what currently comprises Newark’s 1st, 2nd, and 7th ward, doesn’t it? Like the south side Columbus of Gifford’s youth, the east side of Newark was an equally vibrant mix of employment, residences, stores, restaurants and church/community identity. For reason’s beyond the scope of one page posts, Newark’s “leaders” decided (a half century ago) to relocate the hospital from its east side home to the farm fields of the west side, on West Main Street. This was accompanied by development of employment facilities as well as housing, schools, churches, etc. (all the ingredients needed to form “community” according to Chasing The Dream). Ditto the north side, all of which currently comprise Newark’s 3rd, 5th and 6th wards. While these political districts flourished, the 3 on the east side languished. “Well, it’s where people want to be” we are told. Analysis finds this a cliché way of avoiding the answer to the more pressing question of who sold them on this end of town? And who financed it?  Just as today all the “commercial development” and places of employment magically appear outside the Newark City limits (for reasons only known to Grow Licking County and Newark Development Partners), so half a century ago Newark began expanding away from the east end. Not that there wasn’t open farmland or highway access on the east side. And someone thought it was a “safe bet”, “good investment”, “progressive thinking” to provide residential loans as well as underwrite business/commercial ones. Now it may have nothing to do with race, but providing mortgages for one area and eschewing another defines redlining. Aggressively selling one area while disparaging another likewise approximates steering. Saying it’s “too costly” or “risky” to finance maintaining properties in a designated area is akin to reverse redlining (driving up the cost for residents who own these properties). So redlining has history in Newark. The relationship to gerrymandering (and polarization) is apparent when one considers what areas comprise the wards and where the boundaries are drawn. It may not be racial, but it is very real.

In Defense Of Being Homeless

November 16, 2017

Regular Newark News Analysis readers can’t help but notice that recent posts have swirled around real property ownership and housing, directly or indirectly. “Homeownership doesn’t build wealth, study finds” headlines Diana Olick for CNBC (11-16-17). Intriguing! Analysis required reading. “”On average, renting and reinvesting wins in terms of wealth creation regardless of property appreciation, because property appreciation is highly correlated with gains in the traditional financial asset classes of stocks and bonds,” wrote study co-author Ken Johnson of FAU’s College of Business [Florida Atlantic University], in a release.” This seems to be the keynote quote pursued (for actuality, efficacy) throughout the article. What follows are the pros and cons of renting versus owning with back up insights for the period covering 2008 (when the real estate bubble burst) to the present. “Still, researchers in the study claim the adage of “throwing your money away on rent” doesn’t hold up. That is because it assumes that the extra money a renter saves by not owning a home and not saving for a down payment is simply spent on goods or services and not invested.” Well, that seems clear enough. “In other words, the rent argument works only if the renter invests the rental savings instead of consuming the money.” The article then localizes the theory. “The researchers therefore went city by city, measuring home price appreciation against a portfolio of stocks and bonds that were equal in volatility. “To have a fair race, that reinvestment into stocks and bonds has to be as risky as that particular housing market,” Johnson said.” Put crassly (and simplistically) if a homeowner considers what she pays monthly for principle and balance on her mortgage against how much (percentage wise) her real property investment made (appreciates), that margin would be less than a renter, renting the same size, quality property would have if the difference between the monthly cost of renting and the mortgage amount was invested in “”stocks and bonds.” Gasp! Butt weight, there’s more. The buried lead appears at the end, after a breakdown on the requirement “if the renter invests the rental savings instead of consuming the money.” That buried lead throws shade on the initial quote by Johnson pursued throughout the article. Here it is: “As long as home values don’t fall, which has historically been the case in most markets, with the glaring exception of the last recession, homeowners are building a nest egg. They had also been getting a tax advantage. That is now at risk in the Republican tax plan, which curbs the mortgage deduction and in the Senate version, wipes out the property tax deduction. Real estate can still be a good investment, according to Johnson, but not necessarily living in the home you own. Being a landlord or investing in real estate-related stocks and commodities can be more lucrative that keeping all your capital in the nest.” Not surprising given the “Me first” focus of the apprentice president and his MAGA emphasis, and Wall Street’s insatiable demand for more sources of capital. But “Me first” “landlord[s] or investing in real estate-related stocks and commodities” don’t make neighborhoods (or community). What more, stock and bond ownership doesn’t equate with the quality of life issues associated with community. But investment is touted as the primo path to greatness, success and wealth (the GOP use this line of argument to justify the recent tax bill and its permanent corporate tax cut, etc.) How’s that in actuality? Reporting for The Independent Clark Mindrock headlined “Trump’s top economic adviser can’t contain his surprise after CEOs say his tax plan won’t make them invest more” 11-15-17. “During an event for the Wall Street Journal’s CEO Council, an editor at that newspaper turned to ask the room a question: “If the tax reform bill goes through, do you plan to increase investment — your company’s investment, capital investment?” Prompted to raise their hands if so, very few shot their palms into the air. Mr. [Gary] Cohn, the White House Economic Council director, smiled uncomfortably at the response. “Why aren’t the other hands up?” he asked, making a joke out of the spectacle. But experts say that it isn’t hard to figure out why corporations might not want to take savings from cuts to the corporate tax cut and pump it back into their companies — all you have to do is look at who actually benefits financially from the cuts. Citing a recent Moody’s report that estimate that the Trump tax plan would yield just a 0.3 percent economic growth rate for 10 years before a likely decline, Brooking Institute senior fellow William Gale noted that business leaders might be expecting declines in the long term.” Analysis shows there is more to the homeownership’s study than the math provides. The renter’s surplus investment (which will make her wealthy) can only be made with companies that themselves are reluctant to invest. “Being a landlord… can be more lucrative that keeping all your capital in the nest.” “Real estate can still be a good investment, according to Johnson, but not necessarily living in the home you own.”

Newark’s Likely Voters

November 9, 2017

Originally Analysis was going to cover the recent election. Reuters (amongst others) reported “Maine governor says he will not expand Medicaid despite vote” by Gina Cherelus, 11-8-17. Déjà vu all over again with “About 60 percent of voters in Maine approved the ballot proposal in Tuesday’s election, according to the Bangor Daily News, making the state the first in the country to vote to expand Medicaid, the government health insurance program for the poor and disabled.” GOP Governor LePage refuses to implement it. Sound familiar? Hint: Marijuana. That’s right, a citizens’ initiative approved by the voters of Newark re: marijuana possession in Newark was ditto refused to be implemented by GOP Mayor Hall. More recent is the cavalier late night destruction of the gazebo vociferously opposed by residents, all to no avail. These left Analysis with the question “why is the will, and vote, of the people (citizens) so impotent within a government founded on democracy?” Presently the Democrats are all Broadway musical happy after limited “victories” this just past election but, again, Newark doesn’t reflect that. This blog’s previous post displayed the inadequate attempt by Lesha Farias’s service organization to affect Fred Ernest’s 10 year “vision.” Couple that with the very low turn out Monday (11-6-17) to “protest” the demise of the gazebo and the question gets even thornier – where is the democracy in Newark? And if it’s missing, why? Again, (11-9-17) Reuters headlines “Trump’s low approval rating masks his support among likely voters” by Chris Kahn. Couple this with the actual voting outcomes reported by The Advocate (GEMS Election Results from 11-8-17). For overall county election races (like the muni court judgeship) 29.1% of eligible voters turned out. Now “likely voters” looms large. Analysis finds that though urban precincts encompass more registered voters, rural district issues and races attracted a greater percentage of voters, though lesser in number. Newark precincts involve 4-6 thousand voters each and were turning out roughly 24-25% of them to decide the contest. That’s less than the county actual (likewise likely) voter percentage (29%). Most rural precincts show way less than 2,000 possible voters (many less than 1,000) with turn out being 33-35% (Northridge School’s district precincts turned out over 50%!). Many have repeatedly asked “Why is turnout, interest and active engagement so low in the very urban city of Newark?” That is, why does the description “likely voter” include so few already registered voters in Newark? Those paid to know offer many theoretical possibilities – culture, economics, education, disinterest or even distrust of government. Analysis considers a material actuality. “Landlord doubles rent, evicts nuisance tenants to improve property” by Shelly Schultz for the Zanesville Times Recorder (11-8-17). “Following an abatement warning, the owner of an apartment complex located at 1252 Edwards Lane issued residents a zero tolerance notice for illegal activity and nearly doubled the rent.” The back story to which is “In September, several residents converged on the public safety committee complaining of a sudden increase in prostitution and drug activity in their neighborhood.” Somewhat deeper: “Tenants who have been identified as a nuisance have been evicted, according to Horvath. The rent has increased from $300 to $500 and heading towards $600. The property now mandates a background check on tenants.” (“Eriech Horvath of Newark, owner of Stone Works Development, purchased the 22 unit apartment complex in March and said he has been working diligently to clean it up.”) Back story to the back story would be from WHIZ’s report of “Zanesville Police Dept. cracking down on nuisance homes” by Matthew Herchik 6-30-17. “To be able to move forward with a nuisance abatement, [ZPD Police Chief Tony] Coury says they must prove that the house is in fact a “nuisance,”” “The ZPD has been working in conjunction with the city Law Director as well as the Prosecutor’s Office to make these homes a bigger focus.” And finally, the back story to the whole story is the Ohio Revised Code 3767.01 and .02 which define “nuisance” and “nuisance homes”. All of which sounds pretty sensible when dealing with crime and violence until one makes the connection that Mr. Horvath is using the imminent power (and actions) of the prosecutor/law director/police to justify evicting tenants and upping the rent on his recently acquired property. Given that 48% of Newark’s residential housing is non-owner occupant (rental) and that the census bureau shows over 40% of the US population as having no net worth (living pay check to pay check) it is little wonder that, though greater in numbers, so few registered voters are “likely voters” in Newark, let alone actually voting in elections. Not wanting to rock the boat and potentially be evicted from one’s rented home (for whatever reason, be it the inability to suffer an increase in monthly rent or “nuisance” designation) is a very normal response to being asked to engage in a political process. Analysis shows that having a home to come home to matters a lot.

 

 

A Mighty Fortress Is Our Homeowner

November 3, 2017

A weird news coverage article appeared out of thin air in The Advocate 11-3-17. Maria DeVito headlined Group thinks Newark vision plan didn’t account for whole city. The article primarily covered the 10 year “vision plan” currently in play with Newark Development Partners and what transpired at their recent meeting (11-2-17). There is little grounding for Analysis in the world of dreams and visions. A 10 year “vision” differs little from a 5 (or 10) year Stalin era “plan,” except in the execution – who does what and how. As mentioned in this journal’s previous post, the current political administrations of Mr. Hall and Mr. Bubb, along with Grow Licking County and Newark Development Partners, couch everything in terms of “the economy versus…” Fred Ernest’s development franchise engages in an ethereal dance in sync and lock step with the team on this “vision” quest as well (could Dancing With The Stars be far off?). Besides, the best laid plans of mice and men can change in a heartbeat if PNB should opt to relocate to New Albany (happens all the time. Meritor is still sitting vacant). One thing in the article jumped out, primarily in terms of its lack or absence. That lack or absence spoke volumes in terms of what Lesha Farias and The Newark Think Tank on Poverty were attempting to convey (but failed according to DeVito’s reporting). “”It’s not the community’s plan,” she [Lesha Farias] said. “It’s the people that they wanted to make the plan making the plan.”” Who is “they”? The article (or Farias) never makes “their” identity apparent. What is apparent though, and does give direction as to what Farias was trying to express, is the glaring lack within the “Seven Pillars” envisioned by the “vision.” Sounds almost biblical, doesn’t it? “Seven pillars are identified in the plan: image and brand; public safety; mobility and transportation; neighborhood revitalization; vibrant downtown; arts and recreation; and quality education.” Notice anything absent? Hint: you can probably buy the Basket on the edge of town for what it costs to make a McMansion on an out of town rural acreage. That’s it, housing! What never figures into the celestial fluff of the “10 year vision” is the actuality of the preponderance of non-owner occupied residential housing that IS Newark, not some pie in the sky “image and brand(ed)” “neighborhood(s).” Remember “Welcome to Old Town West” along West Church Street? Does it look different today than it did 25 years ago during the heyday of its promotion? What makes the difference answers the “Who is the “they”?” The current ongoing conversation/debate nationally is the new GOP tax overhaul, the central pillar being slashing the corporate tax rate by over 40% of the present. The GOP claims corporations will “reinvest” that windfall in higher wages and new jobs. In the 1980’s and 90’s it was established policy that corporate America’s first allegiance is to the share holder evidenced by the resulting consolidations, mergers resulting in plants being padlocked and wages remaining stagnant to this day. But with Newark Development Partners’ “vision” the actuality of that experience becomes unmentionable – it lacks presence. The last time The Advocate cited non-owner occupant housing in the city of Newark it was around 48%. An underlying principle of “neighborhood revitalization” in almost all urban areas is the emphasis on those who live in a neighborhood having “ownership” of that neighborhood (and yes, Virginia, Newark is urban). Like corporations, landlords’ allegiance is not with the neighborhood, but with a return on investment. Recently it was revealed that the second most segregated city in the US, segregated in terms of income disparity, is Columbus Ohio. On the basis of this finding WOSU has been running a series entitled “Chasing the Dream” (wosu.org/chasingthedream). As pointed out in this series people living paycheck to paycheck, as well as red lining, planned development and gentrification (with its higher tax valuation) make home ownership out of reach for most. Along with public transportation (the number 1 issue for sustainable jobs), affordable housing is essential for any kind of sustainable development. Of course that would mean disruption with regard the sacred cash cow. Of course that would mean a disruption in who could own a piece of Newark. Lending institutions (like PNB) would need to create financial instruments making homeownership possible (like low interest or subsidized loans, inclusive lending practices, low or no down payments, etc.) and the city/county would need to create abatements and tax breaks for individual home buyers (versus developers!). The “they” that Farias was alluding to becomes very apparent when the glaring lack of the “Seven Pillars vision” manifests itself. A mighty fortress is our home owner!

How Citizens United Matters In Newark Ohio

October 3, 2017

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

The League

August 6, 2017

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

El SID And The Poppies

June 1, 2017

The current imbroglio obsessing Newark’s City Council is the future of marijuana in Nerk (whatever became of affordable housing? public transportation? drug addiction rehabilitation? Let alone street paving?). After dissing the local voters’ initiative to “decriminalize” its possession, the council now must wrestle with what to do with a medical legalization of this substance by the legislature (meant, at the time, to stave off a statewide citizen’s initiative). Having hemmed and hawed as long as they could, the good folks in the state’s executive branch need to finally implement the medical marijuana legalization. Ditto for Newark’s City administration. Analysis has already posted about the head slapping irony of citizens wanting something, voting for it (going through the democratic process of self governance) only to find their elected officials deciding something else is in the constituents’ best interest (another episode of Father Knows Best). Stealthily lurking behind all this is the gentrification of downtown Newark. This ongoing epic saga has unfolded over the past 10 years with nary a citizen vote. Conservative blame was needed as “conservative” by definition means “disposed to preserve existing conditions, institutions, etc. or to restore traditional ones, and to limit change” (none of which are found with roundabouts or a covered, block long outdoor entertainment loading dock). That nasty old federal EPA fit the bill marvelously, serving as a catalyst for all this “Federally mandated” change (kinda like “America First” being “printed in China”). So downtown Newark was, by hook or crook, going to be changed, gentrified. No one would vote on it. Everyone (who didn’t get to vote) would pay for it. The latest is the SID (Special Improvement District). This is a plan or rather, a gentrification technique whereby “property owners would pay 7.5 percent of the tax rate applied to the 2016 real property taxable value, providing the district about $110,000 annually. The assessment would first appear on their 2018 property tax bill. The tax would last five years, but could be renewed for an additional five years.” “Property owners must petition city council to create the district. The petition must be signed by the owners of 60 percent of the frontage feet along public rights of way in the district, or 75 percent of the square footage of real property in the district.” (Downtown property owners asked to join new taxing district, The Newark Advocate, Kent Mallett , 5-22-17) “The goal is to use property tax assessments from those within the district to pay for services such as parking maintenance, safety and security, litter control, graffiti removal, visitor ambassadors, special projects and marketing.” One of this blog’s first entries was in March of 2013, Ownership Of Downtown Newark. That research covered the area of this Newark SID. It revealed that close to 24% of the “property owners” within the area were either government entities or religious ones (neither of which would be assessed). At that time Park National Bank owned nearly 10% of all this area property (banks in total about 13%). Which leaves less than two thirds of the property owners to pay the SID. Why is a SID an integral part of gentrification? To increase property values (for the non voting property owners of the district – in 2013 Analysis also found that of the remaining not government, religious, or bank property owners, few were individually named, most were corporate legal entities) rents need to be higher across the board (like the neglected house on the block determining neighborhood value). A SID does specifically that. As a tax, it increases the property owner’s costs which in turn increases the operating expense for any business located there. Marginally profitable businesses will exit as they did prior to the large scale construction of downtown several years ago. Ditto for any other renters (i.e. residential tenants). Upscale enterprises (with capital backing) move in and, Voila! The SID has functioned perfectly as planned. In the meantime Newark’s City Council will wrestle with the tsunami of legalized marijuana while this disenfranchised mandate will pass like shit through a duck.

All Dressed Up With No Bear To Go

January 16, 2017

Analysis can’t help but reflect on the closing of the Lil Bear in Downtown Newark. Yikes! This kind of reflective Analysis is a sign of aging. Didn’t anyone see it coming or was it as much a surprise as the passage of years on the critical writing of this blog? Does short term problem solving totally pre-empt long term thinking in the demands of today’s new capitalism? When this blog began the court house square in Newark was a counterclockwise one way, there were residential properties between Locust and the freeway, Canal Market was a parking lot and the Children’s Home was still standing on East Main Street. OK so The Advocate did an end of year countdown of “improvements” to Newark (a good bit of it new restaurants and businesses opening where others had previously been). But prior to the recent accomplishments, at the start of this blog, there were information news releases promoted by Grow Licking County, Downtown Business Association, Newark Development Partners, etc. And “consumer’s choice” sessions held at the hotel (same building, different name), library, etc. where residents could view various plans for projects and “pick” the development they preferred (not that it made any difference, but it was projected to feel like it did). As essayed in those early postings, the emphasis on the part of the planners and developers was to get people downtown. And the best way (according to the developers) was to make it easier for automobiles to do that (the idea of self-driving cars was still a ways off. Self-shopping cars to come?). A deaf ear or blind eye was turned to any conversation or serious consideration of any other form of mobility and access – pedestrian, bicycle, wheel chair, etc. The “choices” for decisions re: the square, one way street changes, downtown entrance/egress, were primarily cosmetic. It was already decided to tear down the Children’s Home, save the old jail in its stead, fulfill a philanthropist’s dream for the adjacent Canal Market, etc. etc. etc. All this was promised to bring the young urban hipsters into the downtown (again?), with tax credits and abatements renovating long vacant (and rotting) second and third floor building spaces so they’d have a place to rent. The new Canal Market District Farmers Market would make Newark a destination shopping attraction. Well, that market doesn’t open for at least another 6 months. What destination shopping attraction will the young urban hipsters (as well as ensconced area residents) utilize in the meantime when it comes to getting groceries and household necessities?  The food pantry outlets are already strained. Analysis would surmise that those with private transportation, cars (the developer’s preferred means of transportation), will use the new planned thoroughfares to access marginal shopping destinations for their everyday necessities. The attraction of downtown living was touted as ease of walking to jobs, not needing a car, etc. True, Analysis was amongst those who criticized much of the urban planning involved – the discipline and punish icon of the old pokey over the care and nurture history of the Children’s Home, the lack of pedestrian priority, the lack of public transportation to accompany the development, etc. Others, at the time, critiqued the process involved as well as the plan with the possibilities of failure. Unfortunately, no one bothered to imagine success. What if the new urban plan succeeded? The vast planned capital improvement project that is downtown Newark today implicated the end of the Lil Bear. Success is articulated through the fruition of the downtown’s capital improvement planning. Unfortunately for the Lil Bear, the onus was on “capital improvement”. Would the tax credits, abatements, and incentives that the McClain’s, Wallace’s, Layman’s and Argyle’s received have made any difference to the inevitable extinction of the Lil Bear (and others that likewise went belly up and departed)? Not. That would have required planning around human activities and processes, something that capital investment, by definition, ignores. What does success look like? What is it to live in this planned success projected for an actual human social community? Will all this capital invested in the downtown leave Newark all dressed up with nowhere to go?

Enjoy Whatever Is Next

November 7, 2016

The last line of the book jumped out and spoke to the day, the times: “we can be communities or networks that enjoy whatever is next.” The drumbeat pervasive throughout the last 18 months, no matter the source, has been that we will be a community or network that will suffer whatever is next. The last line of the book spoke from what, to now, has been the excluded middle, between the two polarities of ostensible adverse difference here in the US. Then again, that unvoiced excluded middle, the one that looks to “enjoy whatever is next”, is what will actually carry on. This unarticulated, excluded voice inadvertently and unselfconsciously reveals the selfie of a contemporary US obsessed with discomfort, dis-ease, stress and disaster – things to be “suffered”. It was the best of times, the worst of times, not. This is a time where the absence of enjoyment has been imposed on all as a given, something needing to be enforced for the public good. Is it criminal to “be communities or networks that enjoy whatever is next”?