Posts Tagged ‘Economics’

Internationalism,It’s More Informative Than You Think

February 22, 2018

February 22, 2018 disparate professionals walked off the job in equally disparate locations on the globe. “Public schools across West Virginia are closed Thursday as teachers and other school employees hit the picket lines, demanding higher wages and better benefits. According to Dale Lee, president of the West Virginia Education Association (WVEA), teachers in all of the state’s 55 counties are participating in the planned two-day walk-out, and a group will march Thursday morning to the capitol building in Charleston. Organizers expect thousands of teachers to participate.” “The work stoppage comes after Gov. Jim Justice signed legislation late Wednesday night granting teachers a 2% pay increase starting in July, followed by 1% pay increases over the next two years. “We need to keep our kids and teachers in the classroom,” Justice said in a statement after signing the pay raise bill. “We certainly recognize our teachers are underpaid and this is a step in the right direction to addressing their pay issue.” But the bill did not address further concerns of teachers, including issues with the teachers’ public employees insurance program, the rising costs of healthcare, and a tax on payroll deduction options, according to Campbell [Christine Campbell, president American Federation of Teachers – West Virginia]. The pay raise, which amounts to 4% over the next few years, is a reduction from an earlier version of the bill that proposed a 5% total increase in wages, Campbell said, also remarking that teachers in surrounding states make anywhere from $5,000 to $20,000 more than teachers in West Virginia.” (West Virginia teacher walk-out closes all public schools, Sarah Jorgensen for CNN, 2-22-18) Writing for Great Britain’s Independent, Simon Calder headlines Air France Strike Grounds Dozens of UK Flights, Leaving Hundreds of Passengers Stranded, 2-22-18. “Tens of thousands of Air France passengers have been stranded by a coordinated one-day strike involving pilots, cabin crew and ground staff. The airline’s management has offered a basic increase of one per cent to staff, but the unions are demanding a six per cent rise. They are also unhappy about job losses and staff workloads.” Statista.com (the statistics portal) shows that worldwide, the airline industry showed profits for the last 8 years with each of the last three years nearly tripling that of the previous 5. Projections for 2018 are to be even larger. The wage increase for either public sector or private sector workers was 1%. Any coincidence? Before you answer that, consider the third meeting of the International Trade Union Network of Solidarity and Struggle 2018 recently held outside Madrid Spain; covered by Cole Stangler for In These Times, 2-20-18 (Meet the coalition building a global union movement against capitalism). “a four-day conference in late January attended by nearly 300 labor activists from 25 different countries and 35 different groups”. “A spirit of radicalism and internationalism runs deep within the Network of Solidarity and Struggle, a loose alliance organized by three national-level unions: Solidaires in France, the General Confederation of Labor (CGT) in Spain and CSP Conlutas in Brazil. All of these unions are on the left of their countries’ respective labor movements. “We need to function as a class, and for us having contacts is fundamental,” said José Manuel Muñoz Póliz, general secretary of the CGT, which claims to have grown to nearly 100,000 members in recent years and defines itself as anarcho-syndicalist. “The resolutions that are being passed here won’t be defended by political parties or governments: They’re being defended by workers.” Póliz said ties among union activists in different countries make the movement stronger as a whole — whether that’s by sharing information about broader threats like privatization and employer-friendly legal reforms or by adopting common actions and tactics. Because of the network’s commitment to working-class autonomy, he said it is more effective than the larger, more mainstream international union federations like the European Trade Union Confederation, whose agenda, he believes, is weakened by ties to parties and governments.” “Yet, activists at the conference insisted the U.S. labor movement stands to gain from a stronger dose of internationalism. According to them, it isn’t just a question of principle, but of practical advantage. In the day-to-day tussles between multinational corporations and labor unions, the latter often suffer from information deficiencies that hurt campaigns.” (sounds like something straight out of Hardt and Negri!) This in the age of information, information technologies and multinational media corporation control of information distribution (as well as misinformation dissemination). Though, on the same day, Dear Leader suggested paying teachers packing heat a premium bonus, the 1% pay increase offered WV professional educators differed not from the 1% increase a private corporation offered to its professionals. The only difference is in our ability to know that it is so. Internationalism, it’s more informative than you think.

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Arbitrary Notions About How Much Things ‘Should’ Cost

February 16, 2018

“The more books I read the more passionately I embraced the truth that widespread human well-being demands a system that clearly defines and protects private property rights, allows people to speak freely without intimidation or legal repercussions, refrains from interference with private parties’ agreements and exchanges, and allows human action—rather than arbitrary notions about how much things ‘should’ cost—to guide prices” (Charles Koch from 2015 Good Profit found as mission statement on Charles Koch Foundation website) Remember the Constitutional Convention to Balance the Budget initiative promoted by Ohio’s governor and other GOP leaders? Of course you don’t after the GOP’s tax cuts of December 2018 followed by the national budget just recently passed. Both covered the “deficit” in manure and kept it in the dark so it could mushroom. But back then “One of the two main groups pushing an Article V convention is the Convention of States, a project by Citizens for Self-Government, a nonprofit that doesn’t disclose its donors and has a variety of connections to David and Charles Koch, the billionaire industrialist brothers whose eponymous company is one of the country’s worst polluters and who have become synonymous with both overt and covert political spending in pursuit of limited government. Another nonprofit supporting the movement is the American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC, an organization “dedicated to the principles of limited government, free markets and federalism” that brings corporations and lawmakers together to draft model legislation that is then introduced in the states. ALEC doesn’t disclose its members, although the group’s opposition to climate change measures, gun control and voting rights has led to a recent exodus of member corporations and lawmakers.” (The Koch Brothers Want To Rewrite The Constitution Josh Keefe, International Business Times, 6-14-17) Locally ALEC’s agenda is heavily prevalent at Licking County GOP Commissioner Tim Bubb’s radio station. More on that later. All of these folk are elbowing each other to be in the driver seat of the Right To Work (but can’t get there because of lack of public transportation) bus. GOP state legislators “John Becker and Craig Riedel have proposed a package of six separate constitutional amendments that would limit how unions are funded, ban project labor agreements where the state or cities require union labor for construction projects and eliminate prevailing wage, which sets a floor wage for skilled labor on publicly funded projects.” “Their proposed constitutional amendments:

Private-sector right-to-work: Eliminates requirement employees pay fair share dues. Employees would have to opt in to pay dues.

Public-sector right-to-work: Eliminates fair share dues for public sector unions.

Prevailing wage: Repeals Ohio’s prevailing wage law, which sets a minimum hourly wages and benefits for skilled workers on certain projects. A standalone bill on this issue has not advanced in the Ohio Senate.

Dues withholding: Prohibits state and local government employers from withholding union dues or fees from workers’ wages. Unions could not spend dues on political activities without workers’ consent.

Project Labor Agreements: Bans state and local government entities from requiring project bidders or contractors to enter into project labor agreements, which are pre-hire agreements that set timelines for project completion and methods for resolving disputes, among other terms. A standalone bill was introduced during the last legislative session but did not pass.

Union recertification: Requires annual “recertification” where workers vote to renew public collective bargaining units.” (Right to work’ could be on the ballot in Ohio with support from lawmakers 1-23-18, Jackie Borchardt, cleveland.com) Another tact of the Koch ALEC coalition is the promotion and legitimization of parallel or multiple unions which can be “funded” variously (by foundations such as Chuck and Dave’s), and offer lower health care premiums, retirement, etc. (so laborer’s can have “choice”). Of course they also dilute any kind of worker negotiating capacity. All of which begs the question of why? Why, in a free market, is it so outrageous for labor to negotiate what it has to offer and contribute in return for an agreed upon wage?  “allows human action—rather than arbitrary notions about how much things ‘should’ cost—to guide prices” Maybe the GOP County Commissioner’s radio station could inform us as to the answer. In addition to school closings plus hogs and frogs reports, the service is underwritten by a plethora of advertisers. Vying for first and second position are not big box food stores and car dealers (remember public transportation?), but rather gun dealers and jobs creators – and we ain’t talking about temp services which were number one years ago. The jobs creators, the lions and kings of the Jobs! Jobs! Jobs! economy are now neck and neck with multiple gun dealerships, from feed stores to boutique “we aim to please” specialty shops (no bumps in price here). And the jobs creators aren’t advertising their products or services. They are looking for employees to fill positions right now. Analysis finds this unprecedented scale of help wanted advertising to be indicative of a wide spread lack, a need. For them to be profitable requires someone to tote that barge, lift that bale. “The Art of the Deal” isn’t required reading to recognize that when it comes to negotiating, admissions of lack, of need, are a vulnerability. One solution for a business to set the price (wages) while maintaining hegemony in negotiating working conditions and benefits (if any) is to eliminate collective representation. Collective representation is the only way that “allows human action—rather than arbitrary notions about how much things ‘should’ cost—to guide prices” of actual labor costs.

Cracks In The Clicking Economy

February 4, 2018

The recent testimonials from the Licking County transit board members left Analysis with a Karl Rove math aftertaste (from previous post: Though budgeted to employ 45 drivers, they can only fill less than 35 positions. Their wish list is 60!). One of the prime reasons given for the lack of drivers was new applicants’ inability to pass drug tests. This was likewise elaborated by Jay Hottinger in the meeting referenced. Indeed, even the Governor and his entourage of wannabees touts this same refrain. Ohio’s 77th district representative, Tim “Pee in the cup” Schaffer, gained notoriety for his repeated legislative attempts to purge the food stamp, TANF and unemployment compensation recipients through the use of “drug tests.” Just for tickles, how many people in the U.S. have a substance addiction? EZ to say illegal immigrants are criminals and killers. Not so EZ to verify the accuracy of the claim. This is not the case with statistics dealing with populations that are not illegal (are you legal?). LiveScience reports in September of 2016 that Federal estimates show over 21 million Americans afflicted with a substance addiction. Of these two thirds would be alcohol, one third drugs (prescription, opioid, etc.). Well, “How many people in the U.S.?” you ask. Good question. The Census gives an estimate of 323 million (latest). Well, EZ, just divide the users by the totality. Not so fast. True, true, true, some kids may be hooked on Bud Lite but according to Kaiser Family Foundation 24% of the U.S. population is under 18 (you wouldn’t want to thin the CHIP enrollment through drug tests, would you?). Then again Kaiser lists 15% of the total population being over 65 (generally not considered in the pool of eligible workers). This leaves 61% of the total population eligible for employment. 197 million Americans are lumped into the employment eligible pool. 21 million of that has substance abuse issues, just over 10% of the normally considered work force population. We are told that our unemployment rate is just over 4%. Analysis finds there to be people already employed with substance addictions. But drug tests don’t screen for alcohol (which is legal). So one third of substance addiction in the U.S. is drug related (which is screened by Tim Schaffer’s test of choice). 7 million Americans with drug substance addictions is 3.5% of the eligible work force and not likely to pass a urine test. Which leaves roughly over .5% of eligible working age Americans (currently unemployed) to fill the 4% unemployment gap that drives so much of the “Jobs, Jobs, Jobs!” rhetoric. No wonder the Karl Rove math leaves so many people scratching their heads! True, true, true the “elderly” over 65 are plagued by substance abuse. Analysis also finds them still working. Likewise true that pre 18 year olds are working, but likewise also entering into substance addiction. Analysis finds the inability to fill jobs to be a very real need, though 5% unemployment was traditionally considered full employment as 5% were deemed “unemployable”. I guess the clicking economy is operating on an accelerated efficiency. Every man, woman, child and machine must be at full capacity to keep up with the global competition. Please excuse the digression. Analysis finds the actual “employable” population statistic to have a great bearing not only on transportation’s importance as a public service, but the real rate of earnings (wages), as well as the real need for immigrants. Then again, we could all hold two jobs in order to make America great again.

Be Active In 2018

January 6, 2018

Analysis woke to find sub zero temps and a wind chill alert for central Ohio, AND a Washington Post headline reading: Hawaii has record-low unemployment and it’s not a frozen hellscape. Why are people leaving? (Andrew Van Dam, 1-5-18) Huh? What is wrong with this picture? “Preliminary data back up the notion that Hawaii residents are continuing to vote with their feet. Moving company Atlas Van Lines found that, among its customers in 2017 (through Dec. 15), there were three moves out of Hawaii for every two moves in. The state is clearly a very nice place to visit. But it’s getting harder and harder to stay.” Dope slapping the side of the monitor for an attitude adjustment didn’t seem to help either. “Hawaii has the lowest unemployment rate of any state in recorded history, a good economic outlook, and — most attractive at this time of year — little chance of polar vortex or ‘bomb cyclones’. Yet in 2017 its population fell for just the third time since statehood in 1959. It only dropped a tenth of a percent, but that’s a worse showing than all but four states (Wyoming, West Virginia, Illinois and Alaska), according to a recent Census Bureau release. Which brings us to the core conundrum: people are leaving Hawaii even though the labor market is stronger than on the mainland, and even though it’s the high 70s in Honolulu this week. What could possibly be driving them away?” Do tell. “The preliminary seasonally adjusted [unemployment] reading for November was 2.0 percent — the lowest of any state since the Labor Department started keeping track in 1976, and less than half of the 4.1 percent national rate reported in November.” “A recent report from Bonham’s organization  [“Carl Bonham, economics professor and director of the University of Hawaii’s economic research organization”] projected continued growth for 2018, based on another record year of tourist arrivals, steady activity in the construction sector, and growth in health and tourism jobs. So why is anyone leaving? One answer trumps all others: home prices. Hawaii has the most expensive housing in the nation, according to the home value index from housing website Zillow. Rent costs trail only D.C. and (in some months) California. Overall, Hawaii had the highest cost of living of any state in 2017 (D.C. was higher), the Center for Regional Economic Competitiveness found, and housing was the main driver. It’s always been expensive to live in Hawaii, but it’s getting worse. There’s just not enough housing on the islands, and Hawaii now has one of the worst rates of homelessness in the country.” The morning’s Newark Advocate headlined their parent company’s USA Today: Report: Columbus among top 10 trending destinations in the world (Chris Pugh, 1-6-18). “The study, released this week by travel booking website Airbnb, lists the Ohio capital as the sixth most trending destination in the world based on bookings for the first part of 2018.” ““In the United States, Midwestern cities like Indianapolis and Columbus are seeing some of the strongest growth, driven by booming downtown districts humming with new restaurants, nightlife, and local arts,” the report reads.” Analysis recalls in the past Newark Mayor Jeff Hall making statements like wanting downtown Newark to be a “destination.” Butt weight, maybe that’s coming into fruition. The previous days Advocate headlined: Newark may see downtown, north end developments (Kent Mallett, 1-5-18). “Momentum from a flurry of recent Newark improvements should continue in the new year, according to commercial developer Steve Layman. Development should begin on the vacant city block bordered by South Third, South Fourth, Market and West Main streets. Front Room Furnishings will occupy the former Connell’s Furniture space on North 21st Street. And, the former Kroger property on Deo Drive could be developed this year. Other downtown and north end sites also have potential. “Newark is constrained a little bit because of available land, suitable and available for development,” Layman said. “But, I think there will be infill development — apartments, condominiums and medical offices. “The economy is good, there are jobs aplenty, and the cost of living is moderate. There’s good value here.”” More shine being peddled from the Hall of Newark: “While other cities are talking about what they can’t do, Newark is talking about what it is doing, Mayor Jeff Hall said. “You kind of have to get out and see what’s going on around and there aren’t a whole lot of cities in Ohio that got a lot going on,” Hall said.” Newark may not be an island. What is happening in Hawaii is relevant to Newark. Analysis has also recently noted that Columbus was ranked second in the nation in terms of economic inequality. The last Analysis checked, tourism is considered a service industry (along with “restaurant, nightlife, and local arts”). Service jobs make up the bulk of Layman’s “jobs aplenty.”  Where are these folks to live? And how are they to get to work from there? Nowhere in Mallett’s journalism was any mention made of affordable housing, the homeless or the inability to get to work within a greater Newark metro area of well over 50,000 lacking fixed route/schedule public transportation. Layman and company simply assume that if their real estate values increase (development), unemployment is low, and the cost of living is moderate for the upper third of wage earners, then all problems are solved (the “rising tide” article of conservative faith). The actuality of Hawaii begs to differ and throws a kink into this faith based gospel of eliding very real social problems. After all, pushing the problem somewhere else is no solution when there’s no ocean between. Eventually they bump into each other. Selling “Shine” is what our tabloid president does. Admitting the problem and addressing the reality of affordable housing and public transportation needs is a very doable first step.

Due to weather event the meeting below has been rescheduled for February 3, 2018, 10-12. See you there.

Jan 13 Transportation Meeting

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!

Duck Soup

September 26, 2017

From this blog’s 6-1-17 posting (El SID And The Poppies): “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.” The Newark news of today and the past week confirms this. From the Newark Advocate these headlines “Newark City Council rejects medical marijuana zoning proposal” (9-26-17), “Gazebo to move from courthouse grounds to former children’s home site” (9-26-17). Prior to that “Special tax coming for downtown Newark after Newark City Council approval” (9-21-17) and “Parking around Licking County Courthouse — ‘bad idea’ or ‘a winner’” (9-22-17). In the 9-26 Gazebo article Kent Mallett writes “The Children’s Home was demolished in 2013. It was built in 1886, serving as a county children’s home before it was decommissioned in the 1970s. It later housed county offices and a medical clinic before closing in 2009.” Sub-context to Mallett’s historic context is that justification for relocating the county jail to a “new” building on East Main was that the old jail was encrusted with black mold – impossible to eradicate (and therefore unhealthy). In 2009 commissioners chose to neglect upkeep on the Children’s Home while maintaining the “old” jail for storage. A central decision maker resulting in the Children’s Home being demolished and the “old” jail being maintained was current commissioner Tim Bubb. In the 9-22 Parking article Mallett again provides context. After reporting the meeting location as the Double Tree hotel, he states “The meeting, by Newark Development Partners community improvement corporation, included several small group discussions and reports, and presentation of a downtown parking study by OHM Advisors, a Columbus architecture, engineering and planning firm.” No decision has been made regarding the proposal promoted by NDP. Analysis finds the 9-26 Gazebo article indicates otherwise. Again Mallett, “Bubb added, “It was the only place in downtown you could do a performance. Now, the Canal Market provides a much better venue. The gazebo, in my observation, lived its life as a performance venue.”” Analysis discovers this to be the same authority on the “life” (and death) of the Children’s Home. Sub context on the Canal Market goes back to these same days (of jail, Children’s Home, and square renovation). The Canal Market was the “dream’ of a local philanthropist who controlled the essential property (adjacent the “old” jail). Analysis surmises he would not commit to “renovate” this property and materialize his dream unless the surrounding county/city did likewise (parking garage construction being the initial goodwill gesture). No coincidence that the jail was saved while the Home disappeared (and the jail as a public transportation hub was completely dissed). No coincidence that moving the gazebo was sooo important at the start of the courthouse renovation. At the time Newark resident appeal prevented the earlier move, now in play for projected parking space. In the 9-21 Special Tax article Maria DeVito writes “Now that the district has been approved by council, the next step is to create a board of people who will run the district, Ernest said. The board will have five people on it. Three who are voted on by the property owners within the district, one appointed by the mayor and one appointed by city council, Ernest said. It will be up to the board members to decide what the district should use the money for each year out of the parameters that have been set up by the district, which include services such as parking enforcement, safety and security, litter control, graffiti removal, visitor ambassadors, special projects and marketing, Ernest said.” Analysis finds this to be the same Fred Ernest, head of the Newark Development Partners (integral to downtown gentrification). Analysis finds that nowhere in this convoluted history of manipulation of public spaces, public funding, and public “interest” is there any voter input. Nowhere is there resident input. The parking meeting like the much earlier courthouse square design meeting were both held at the hotel, a member of the NPD (not at a public space like the library, school auditorium, etc.). While Rome burns (or in this case is gentrified) those elected to represent the residents of Newark are more concerned with nitpicking marijuana distribution center location (“The state has already prohibited dispensaries from being located within 500 feet of a school, church, public library, public playground or public park. Mangus’ proposal also would have prohibited dispensaries from being 500 feet from a residentially zoned area.” “Fraizer would also like for dispensaries to not be allowed with 1,000 feet of a school, church, public library, public playground or public park.” 9-26 Council Rejects). More circus? “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.”

The New Normal

August 31, 2017

The average citizen resident of Newark pays income tax, and more, and in return expects competent administration of city services like road access, police and fire protection, water, sewer, etc. etc. Not unusual. Residents of municipalities have never had reason to think twice about whether an inappropriately parked car will be ticketed, a vandalized street sign will be repaired, a littered and overgrown lot will be rectified, or that their duly compensated mayor will represent the city as the best there is. Now we read this by the Advocate’s Maria DeVito: “Newark Development Partners board members are seeking to create the district and have gathered permission from the required 60 percent of property owners in the area. The goal is to use property tax assessments from those within the district to pay for services such as parking enforcement, safety and security, litter control, graffiti removal, visitor ambassadors, special projects and marketing. If approved, 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 by the property owners. (New downtown property tax gets initial approval from Newark council, 8-29-17). This is the Special Improvement District Analysis covered in past postings. DeVito’s final words include: “If council approves the district, property owners then elect property owners within the district to a leadership board. The district board determines how much of the available money is devoted to the various services.” On 8-30-17 The Miami Herald’s Kristen M. Clark headlined “DeVos had a public agenda for Florida schools meetings … and a private one”. From the report: “A day after visiting a private religious school and a public charter school in Tallahassee, U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos spent Wednesday speaking behind closed doors with various education stakeholders, business leaders and advocates in Florida’s capital city. The events were not disclosed on DeVos’ public schedule, as her office deemed them “private” activities.” “Meanwhile, DeVos’ office also did not disclose — nor offer a readout of — a meeting reportedly held earlier Wednesday with about a dozen leaders of business, higher education and advocacy organizations at the Florida Chamber of Commerce. The News Service of Florida reported that DeVos had a “warm reception” there and urged the leaders to “double down” on efforts to expand choices for students in kindergarten through 12th grade.” “She also urged a rethinking of the federal government’s role in the education system. “I think that there’s been an outsized footprint in the last couple, three decades on the part of the federal government in education,” she said. “And it’s my goal to extract us from a lot of those spaces. I will welcome your thoughts on what we need to be doing less of. And if there are areas to be doing more of, what are those areas?”” Shortly after the inauguration Rolling Stone reported; “Betsy DeVos just bought herself a nice little cabinet position. On Tuesday afternoon, most Senate Republicans – all but Maine’s Susan Collins and Alaska’s Lisa Murkowski – voted to confirm the billionaire Amway heiress as secretary of education. It cost her $115,000 in personal donations to sitting Republican senators; $950,000 more has flowed in from the DeVos family over the last three-and-a-half decades. And another $8.3 million from the DeVoses has gone to Republican super PACs in the last two election cycles alone. Not cheap! But it got the job done. And no one should expect her family’s financial manipulation of Republican senators to stop there. In fact, if what the DeVoses have done in Michigan is any indication, she and her family are likely just getting started trying to buy Republican support for their radical agenda.” (Betsy DeVos Just Bought Herself a Trump Cabinet Position. She and her family are likely just getting started trying to buy Republican support for their radical education agenda by Tessa Stuart, 2-7-17). Pre-inauguration Politico headlined “Trump rewards big donors with jobs and access Contributors who met with Trump gave about $59 million in support of his campaign and other Republicans, averaging more than $800,000 per donor.” by Isaac Arnsdorf, 12-27-2016. Analysis indicates that America is abandoning government by the people, of the people, for the people in favor of a two tier system that embraces government by and for those who can afford to pay, with the rest becoming those serving, or rather, servicing this government. After all, we are constantly reminded of how we now have become a service driven economy. Newark’s downtown SID confirms the two tier system. This is now the new normal.