Posts Tagged ‘GOP’

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.

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Making Lemonade Out Of Lemons

February 12, 2018

Remember Governor Kasich’s 20 million dollar solution to Ohio’s opioid epidemic? Of course you do. Spring of 2017 Ohio’s presidential wannabee offered a high tech solution to the epidemic. He put money down, no, not separately in the budget but by offering $20 mil in Ohio Third Frontier Funding to innovators who come up with high tech solutions. This was touted as a win-win for Ohio. The opioid addiction scourge would be addressed while Jobs! Jobs! Jobs! would be provided through the entrepreneurial endeavors of Ohio based new technology providers. Well, back in December of 2017 $10 mil in winners were announced. One winner was Elysium Therapeutics. “It is developing a new kind of pill that would limit how much of the painkilling substance would be released into the body.” “Other projects that got state money include programs that use analytics to identify and prevent addiction, other types of pain management devices, and a web-based service that can streamline recovery services.” (Ohio Awards $10 Million For New Technology Projects To Fight Addiction By Andy Chow for WKSU,12-7-17) . This week Analysis noted a story out of Cleveland. Various reports but Analysis will reference “Cost of methadone treatment skyrockets leaving local treatment center to scramble for funding” by Brenda Cain for Cleveland.com, 2-7-18. “The price of methadone is skyrocketing — from $1 per dose to more than $14 per dose — at one local addiction clinic. Funding for the drug, which interrupts the symptoms of withdraw in recovering addicts, has run out, leaving the agency to scramble for options for its patients.” “Community Action Against Addiction (CAAA), one of two nonprofit suppliers of the drug in the region, told cleveland.com on this week that the abrupt price hike is the result of a loss of funding.” “Clinical Director Mary Bazie said the agency has stopped accepting new clients, unless they are covered by insurance or can self-pay. CAAA has a team of caseworkers helping existing clients, many of whom have low incomes, find other ways to pay for their medication. “Treatment saves lives and we have no intention of just pricing people out of their medications without trying to find alternatives for them,” Bazie said. The agency dispenses an average of 570 doses of methadone every day. Methadone is used to treat heroin abusers and people who have become addicted to opioid-based painkillers. The drug interrupts the symptoms of physical withdrawal from drug abuse. In an email, received Thursday, CAAA Chief Executive Officer Gladys Hall clarified that the potential price hike is not an increase in cost for the methadone, itself, but rather for the entire treatment process — which includes: a daily dose of methadone or Suboxone; random monthly drug testing, medication monitoring, medical consultation, initial physical examination, annual follow-up physical examination, annual tuberculosis test, individual and group counseling, as well as Narcan training and education.” The funding loss was through the Cuyahoga County ADAMHS (who of course gets their funding through other public sources). “Those affected by the price increase included the working poor who earn too much to be eligible for Medicaid and patients who have allowed their Medicaid coverage to lapse, or have shifted to Medicare, which doesn’t cover addiction medication.” Analysis can’t help but note that the Ohio Governor’s magnanimous solution is not one the governor or state would take with regard to the current flu epidemic. The win-win solution proffered by the Governor is characteristic of a perpetual motion machine solution to social problems continuously promoted by the GOP – whether Kasich or Trump GOP matters little. This mechanism prioritizes any opportunity to create wealth in the midst of dire public need. One of the oldest proven methods for recovering addicts to function as productive members of their community is jeopardized by the Pollyanna precedence of making lemonade out of lemons.

Ask Any Republican

January 13, 2018

Ask any Republican, and the chances are good, that the Republican won’t recall or repeat what was said. Go ahead. Ask ‘em. Josh Mandel has left the leadership stage of the Ohio GOP. No asking him. “Not a career politician” GOP U.S. Representative Jim Renacci has stepped in to fill the void in contention for the upcoming Senate seat (“When President @realDonaldTrump asks you to run — you do it. That’s why I am proud to announce that I am running for the United States Senate! I’m ready to fight for the Trump agenda and get things done in the Senate!#MAGA”). Well, Mr. Not-A-Career-Politician? “I’ve said all along the president many times says what people are thinking. I learned as a business guy that you have to be careful what you say because people pick everything up. Believe me, I’ve learned that when you’ve got a mike on, you’ve got to watch what you say.” “I know it’s difficult for the president because many times you want to say what you are thinking but in the end, I know a lot of times he is saying what people are thinking,” And he’s “a business guy going into a political career.” What could be more Republican? And as we all know from our Conservative hymnals, business guys are our salvation. What about a more contemplative, prayerful Conservative? Like Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (GOP U.S. Rep from Wis.): “The first thing that came to my mind was very unfortunate, unhelpful, but you know what I thought of right away? I thought about my own family.” Atta (good Conservative altar) boy, Paul! And the Newark Advocate’s tireless investigative reporters got these responses from our own GOP Licking County Commissioner Tim Bubb: “ .” GOP Newark Mayor Jeff Hall: “ .” GOP Licking County Prosecutor Bill Hayes: “ .” GOP State Senator Jay Hottinger: ” .” And (not a politician) business guy Steve Layman: “ .” Analysis finds it reassuring to learn “what people are thinking.”  Ask any Republican, and the chances are good, that the Republican won’t recall or repeat what was said. Go ahead. Ask ‘em.

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

2018

January 1, 2018

With 2018 Analysis must admit that it has reached the end of analysis. What’s that mean? Sometimes “end” can mean finished (“The End” of the movie), sometimes “end” can mean conclusion (the projected end of a process), and sometimes “end” simply means that all the elements or reason’s for defining or pursuing something have displayed themselves, made themselves apparent, and there are no more elements to be determined or reasoning to be defined. After 5 years of writing, Analysis feels it has reached that point. The Longaberger Basket Building would be the case in point. (A ‘big vision’ in store for Longaberger basket building, Bethany Bruner and Maria DeVito, Advocate, 12-29-17). Analysis even questions the need for referencing the reporting. Previous blog essays have followed this debacle for years, almost from the inception of Newark News Analysis. Yet in Bruner and Devito’s report we read “The financial terms of the deal were not immediately available.” Why not? Poor investigative reporting or another case of “public private partnership” where the “private” doesn’t have to reveal how it is using the “public”? Wiki “corporate welfare.” Again, Analysis can point to what we do know, as reported previously (and once again on the 29th) the sale involved the city forgiving what was owed to it through various taxes, fees, and penalties. And the entire city administration and council were on board for that (“Licking County Treasurer Olivia Parkinson said the county is supposed to be receiving a check early next week for a “big chunk” of the back taxes Longaberger had owed. Parkinson said the new owners are planning to file an application to have the penalties of the most recent taxes owed remitted. Newark City Council had passed legislation earlier this month to allow the city to release some or all of the liens for unpaid water and sewer bills and other money owed by Longaberger in an effort to move the sale forward.”). The shapeshifter mayor of Newark (Jeff Hall) likewise speaks out of both sides of his mouth – “”But we do know it’s going to be a tax producing property again,” he said. “It’ll be a good asset in community instead of sitting as a vacant building deteriorating.”” “Hall said while the basket building is not very old, it is unique enough to qualify for historic tax credits. Coon will still have to apply for the tax credits, Hall said. “Without even that potential, it wouldn’t have been of interest to him,” Hall said. Hall said once the final plans are announced, it could take years before renovations are complete.” Newark’s Mayor belies his own public tax payer paid position by flaunting the new owners’ potential to not only NOT pay taxes, but also to be reimbursed by tax payer funds (“historic tax credits’). This in itself begs the questions of abatements during the “years before renovations are complete” and it becomes “a tax producing property again.” If you think this is just another manifestation of MAGA, you’d be more than correct in that the building would have to generate a ridiculous amount of tax revenue in its later years to offset the enormous bath the City and County have taken, something the early years of active business occupancy never produced. And what if the new owners choose to just flip their new acquisition? Of course, we also read “”It has been fun watching the progress in the Downtown and I’m excited to be a part of the movement,” he [Steve Coon, “a Canton-based developer who owns Coon Restoration, and his partner, Bobby George, of Cleveland, closed on the building Friday afternoon.”] said in the release. “The Longaberger Basket Building is known all over the world and I can’t tell you how excited I am to preserve and renovate this building and put it back into use.”” Where have we heard that before? (Clue– current and past owners of Longaberger since Dave’s demise) Who wouldn’t be giddy when they not only pay pennies on the dollar for real property, with few if any tax liabilities, but likewise elide full disclosure on the overall costs/benefits of the “public private” deal? We’re dealing! Shapeshifter Mayor Jeff Hall will probably pave the Cherry Valley Rd. dead end as well as the east of Dayton Rd. portion of East Main Street and sell it as “shine.” And city leaders will buy it and drink it! No, Analysis has reached its end. In the essay “Steve Bannon Declares Jihad On Infidels” (10-18-17) Analysis quoted Alternet’s Ivy Oleson’s embedded reporter’s report ““This is when I realize that what Ivy [Ivy El Zaatari, the Leadership Institute organizer/instructor] means is that Conservatism appeals to people on a level above facts: religion. Conservatives are skipping right over the whole logic bit and get straight to the good stuff. Ivy is hinting around about “philosophy,” because, like she said, “I’m talking about Conservatives, not Republicans. [..] They talk about their Bibles as much as their Constitution.” Sell ‘em a fantasy, and one with a moral, religious backing as well. Ivy has been trying to get it through our heads that the fear of God is how you can get people to vote against their best interests.””

Right

December 12, 2017

Computer dictionary gives: “a moral or legal entitlement to have or obtain something or to act in a certain way”. WIKI, from Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, elaborates: “Rights are legal, social, or ethical principles of freedom or entitlement; that is, rights are the fundamental normative rules about what is allowed of people or owed to people, according to some legal system, social convention, or ethical theory.” In a 12-11-17 Washington Post Op Ed piece, Emily Miller (deputy press secretary at W’s State Department) writes about the current proposed federal Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act. Notable: “Donald Trump is the first president who has a concealed carry permit. Trump is one of more than 16 million Americans with a concealed carry permit legally exercising the Second Amendment right to bear arms. Now that Trump is president, gun owners are pushing for legislation to make it federal law that a permit to carry a gun be valid when crossing state lines, just like a driver’s license.” Analysis finds the correlation to “driver’s license” to be abhorrent to the notion of “Right”, something near and dear to 2nd Amendment aficionados. Further on she drills deeper with: “The Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act allows a qualified individual to carry a concealed handgun in any other state. The bill says the person must be eligible to possess a gun under federal law, meaning that he or she is not a felon, dangerously mentally ill, a domestic abuser or any of the other disqualifying factors for having a gun. The bill specifies that a person carrying a concealed gun must have valid photo identification on hand. Also, the person has to have either a valid concealed carry permit or be eligible to carry concealed in his or her state of residence if the state has “constitutional carry” (which means it doesn’t require permits for law-abiding citizens).” Analysis finds this to be a “Right” that is qualified with layers of who has the right and who doesn’t (If sexual harassment were considered as domestic abuse, the apprentice president’s CC permit would be in jeopardy!). This is something 2nd Amendment followers have vehemently denied as part of their “right to bear arms” without qualifications, in the same vein as the right to practice religious belief, the right to speak freely, the right of the press, etc. (see dictionary and WIKI above). After this she writes: “A key addition to this bill from previous versions is that if the gun carrier is arrested and charged for carrying in another state, but then found innocent because of this law, the state pays the defendant’s legal fees and the defendant has the right to bring a civil action for damages.” Analysis finds this very curious (and disingenuous to say the least). The mindful reader will immediately recognize this provision as the one that Big Pharma’s Dale Butland (the opposition spokesperson) used extensively to denigrate Issue 2 in Ohio’s 2016 election (you know, the drug price control thing). Now it is OK with regard to concealed carry across state lines. Analysis likewise notes the distinction, in regards to Right, of the “concealed carry permit” legitimization of some states within the US, and the “constitutional carry” of other states, which doesn’t require a permit. In an interview with Columbus Police Chief Kim Jacobs (Columbus Police Chief: ‘Our Resources Are Being Taxed’, 12-11-17) Adora Namigadde for WOSU records the Chief as saying: ““Our resources are being taxed. Our overtime is significant at this point because of the increases. And our garage was full over the weekend, Saturday night, with cruisers that are arresting people,” Jacobs said. “It’s not that we don’t arrest people. We arrest people all the time, many times for violent crime and carrying guns.”” Analysis clearly points out that the Chief is charged to consider “carrying guns” in a much different manner than 2nd Amendment Right stumpers, or the proposed Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act. “Well, this is an approach to the second amendment “Right” as an entitlement, a privilege that can be lost if not meeting certain qualifications, mumble, mumble, etc. (with lots of hand waving)” say the stumpers. Not like the “right to remain silent” Analysis concludes, but a qualified privilege and entitlement. More like a driver’s license with photo ID, or state authorized photo ID to exercise the right to vote, or an official party in power imprimatur as to what is considered as news (and what is discredited as fake). Analysis notices a drift in the definition and application of “Right” from something inherent, unearned and undeniable to something which is a purchased entitlement, maintained through privilege and status. That’s not right.

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.

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!