Posts Tagged ‘Grow Licking County Community Investment Corporation’

It’s Time To Defund CIC’s

April 1, 2021

            What is a CIC? The NDP (Newark Development Partners) uses the terms “Community Improvement Corporation” as part of their full name, so we’ll stick with that rather than “investment”, or the British “interest company.” In Ohio these are primarily public/private entities, or at least that is what their stakeholders claim. The “public/private” generally refers to the entire operation being funded by the public sector and administered by the private. Grow Licking County is funded not only by the county but also income from the various municipalities that it markets. Its administration is in the care of the Licking County Chamber of Commerce, a private entity; public sector funding, private sector spending. Amount of funding supplied by the public is readily available (thanks to freedom of information), how it is spent and the outcomes of that expenditure not so much. The term “public/private” is confusing enough. That probably stems from its oxymoronic character. And oxymorons, as we all know, are the preferred devices for the conveyance of magical thinking and mystical alliances. But what does “Community Improvement Corporation” mean? Or is it also an oxymoron, or a near kin? Analysis of the component terms may offer a clue. “Improvement” isn’t a toughie. Defined as “better” is sufficient for understanding. The dictionary gives two relevant meanings for “community”: 1. a group of people living in the same place or having a particular characteristic in common. 2. a feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals. For “corporation” only one: 1. a company or group of people authorized to act as a single entity (legally a person) and recognized as such in law. For “CIC”, no entries found. Again, we’ve hit the oxymoronic wall. Is it a community of improvement corporations? Or is it community improvement by corporations? The oxymoronic element appears to be the contradiction of people living in common fellowship and authority under force of law. Holy crime fighters, Batman! It sure looks a lot like another publicly funded service institution in crisis today. It is no coincidence that “authority” is used in another area public/private CIC – the Newark Port Authority. That “Community Improvement Corporation” is just soap suds to screen the laundering of money is quite apparent. And the washed sums are considerable. The Licking County Chamber of Commerce was the largest in Ohio when most of LC’s CIC’s were begun back in the early years of the Kasich administration. What “better” has the fellowship of people living in common have to show for all the wealth siphoned to the top? “Places to work” we are told. Employers stress their number one need is that workers have a reliable way to get to their jobs yet Licking County has no fixed schedule public transportation after all this time. Neighboring counties do though their Chambers of Commerce are dwarfed by LC’s. Ditto for affordable housing having been built over that period as well as presently projected. Lancaster (and soon Zanesville) have the Pearl House for those without housing while Newark has the promise of shopping in the waiting-to-be-historically-designated Arcade (and other rainbow stew propaganda). It’s time to defund Newark’s Community Improvement Corporations.

Free Market Economics

December 31, 2020

            “In our culture the concept of the market is akin to religion. In fact, for many people the fantasy that their life is shaped by a market is a substitute for thinking that it was shaped by a deity, or else the market itself is understood as a deity.” “A market is a way for people to distribute resources and goods. That’s all it is. The human race for most of its history has not used markets to do that. When I say distribute resources, I mean land. Who’s going to get what piece of land to cultivate?” (Richard Wolff from Occupy the economy: challenging capitalism by Richard Wolff; interviews with David Barsamian) 12-30-20 Henry Fountain writing for the New York Times headlines: Sale of Arctic Drilling Leases Draws an Unusual Taker. It May Be the Only One. “After a three-year push by the Trump administration to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska to oil drilling — an effort that culminated in a rush to sell leases before the White House changes hands — in the end the only taker may be the state of Alaska itself. With a Thursday deadline [12-31-20] for submitting bids for 10-year leases on tracts covering more than 1 million acres of the refuge, there is little indication that oil companies are interested in buying the rights to drill under difficult conditions, to extract more costly fossil fuels for a world that increasingly is seeking to wean itself off them. Amid the uncertainty, a state-owned economic development corporation voted last week to authorize bidding up to $20 million for some of the leases.” In Ohio, JobsOhio is “a state-owned economic development corporation”. In Licking County it would be Grow Licking County. And in Licking County’s seat of government, Newark, it would be Newark Development Partners. You can throw the Port Authority in there too as it likewise is an “economic development corporation” and covers a multitude of “governments.” The gist of Fountain’s article, you ask? “But if the development authority proceeds, it sets up the possibility that when the sealed bids are opened on Jan. 6, the state may find itself the sole owner of leases.” “He [Frank Murkowski, Lisa’s dad] also pointed out that because leasing revenue is split equally between the federal and state governments, if its bids were successful the state would be getting a unique deal. “You’re going to get half your money back,” he told the authority’s board. Only the state, he added, “can buy at a 50% discount.”” “In the [2017] tax bill, the sales were presented as a way to raise $900 million over 10 years for the federal treasury to help offset more than $1 trillion in tax cuts. But that figure has long been questioned by outside experts. An analysis last year by The New York Times suggested the actual amount would be about $45 million.” “The group [Taxpayers for Common Sense] said its most recent estimate showed that the federal treasury could receive as little as $15 million from the lease sales.” Where’s the market in all this? Indeed, where’s the market in the various tax abatements, credits and infrastructure enhancements offered by JobsOhio, Grow Licking County and the Port Authority in their offerings to secure corporate “investment” in Etna, Pataskala and the Rt 79 corridor? It certainly is about “Who’s going to get what piece of land to cultivate”. And what about Newark Development Partners purchase  and projected multi-million dollar “development” of the Newark Arcade being totally contingent on receiving government funded “historic tax credits” while the low barrier shelter “projected” by these same folks goes nowhere? “A market is a way for people to distribute resources and goods. That’s all it is.” Free and equitable, it’s not.

Under The Law

November 22, 2019

“Downtown is a commercial district. If you put the dollars first in the commercial district, then raise those revenues, create some more jobs, it creates more funds to put in the neighborhoods.” These words appear to express a very noble sentiment, They certainly assert a strategic outlook, one that defers immediate neighborhood aid for the eventual promise of neighborhood benefit to come. But does it serve the community’s interest, help the community’s needs? Analysis finds that, distilled, the strategy is simply a rehash of the fundamental tenet of the capitalist religion that “money makes money” (“If you put the dollars first in the commercial district,… it creates more funds”) The words (and strategy) are those of recently re-elected Newark Mayor Jeff Hall (The Advocate, 10-11-19). Reporting for cleveland.com, Andrew J. Tobias headlined: JobsOhio pushing boundaries by looking to be a part-owner of companies it supports (11-21-19). Analysis finds JobsOhio moving to put into action the Newark Mayor’s capitalist formula for success by “owning stakes of private companies”. “It’s an open question whether the new strategy means JobsOhio is interested in taking a venture capital approach — making a larger volume of risky bets on very young companies, hoping to strike it big if one is successful — or focusing on small, promising companies that are financially stable, but looking to expand. Any profit could be plowed back into the organization to be given to other companies.” “State lawmakers and then-Gov. John Kasich, a Republican, created JobsOhio in 2011 as a private non-profit to functionally replace a state agency that had led Ohio’s economic development efforts for decades. It’s exempt from state public-records laws, but the governor appoints its board members and helps hire its leader. DeWine picked new leaders, but opted to keep it basically intact upon taking office in January. Back when JobsOhio was still getting set up, Kasich considered allowing the organization to take shares of the companies it invested in. He even hired Mark Kvamme, a venture capitalist from California, to run it. Kvamme left the organization after less than two years, and now helps run a venture capital fund in Columbus.” “JobsOhio’s funding comes from the profits it gets running the state’s liquor enterprise, which netted $271 million last year.” “Beyond the political issues, there are also possible legal issues under the Ohio Constitution. There’s a story behind that — local governments and the state between the 1820s and the 1850s lost millions bailing out its bad investments in toll roads, canals and particularly, railroad companies. Citizens, alleging corruption, called for a constitutional convention in 1851. The result severely limits what the state can do when it comes to giving money to private businesses. The constitutional section flatly banning state ownership of private companies was so popular it wasn’t even debated, according to a 1985 article in the Toledo Law Review written by David Gold, a longtime staffer for the Ohio Legislative Service Commission. As one delegate at the 1851 convention put it: “And sir, we ask now, that debt-contracting, loan laws, and money squandering may forever be put an end to-that the whole system maybe dug up by the roots, and no single sprout ever permitted to shoot up again.”” “Still, Maurice Thompson, a conservative Ohio legal activist who was part of the failed lawsuit [2011 challenge to JobsOhio], said a legal challenge is still possible, although it would be hard to find someone with the standing needed to file it. “I think this has been a long time coming, given Gov. Kasich’s initial comments,” Thompson said. “I do think it’s unconstitutional.” “It’s already problematic that JobsOhio can spend hundreds of millions of our dollars with very little transparency or accountability,” said Janetta King, president and CEO of Innovation Ohio, a progressive think-tank in Columbus. “If it is now ignoring prohibitions in the state Constitution that were put there for good reasons, we should all be concerned.”” Is the reader concerned? Which brings us round to Newark and the recent election results. The entitled GOP (of which Newark Mayor Jeff Hall is a Central Committee member) recently appointed Spencer Barker to fill the seat left vacant by Mark Fraizer, who by appointment filled Scott Ryan’s legislative position (who left for the Third Frontier). Analysis finds all these resume’s curiously compatible with the law of “money makes money.” Fraizer is with giant Huntington Bank, while Barker markets community and real estate for Newark Development Partners (like JobsOhio, a public/private partnership) and Shai Commercial Real Estate. Analysis can only conclude that mini-me Grow Licking County (patterned from its inception on JobsOhio) is salivating while waiting breathlessly for JobsOhio’s investment strategy to be put into action. Analysis finds one place where the law (and raison d’etre) of “money makes money” is already in practice. The financial market (Wall Street) makes money by following the law. Analysis can’t readily ascribe any community, per se, benefiting from this practice under the law. Can you?

Half The Story – But Which Half?

April 3, 2019

Ohio’s Lieutenant Governor swung by Licking County to talk to some folks about some things near and dear to his heart. You remember John Husted. The same John Husted who as an elected representative was caught in a bizarre court case regarding being a representative of his district in Dayton all the while living with his family in a home in Upper Arlington; except that his “residence” in Dayton was unoccupied. Paying the water bill satisfied the courts that he was a lawful “resident.” Apologies for the digression but it was irresistible. No, John didn’t talk about affordable housing with the Newark Homeless Outreach at City Council. Nor did he speak about state initiatives to deal with methamphetamine abuse at a Newark Think Tank on Poverty meeting. No, Republican Lieutenant Governor (and wannabe future Governor) Husted’s heart embraced “Workforce development is the most important issue the state faces, Lt. Gov. John Husted told a Grow Licking County investor’s breakfast crowd Tuesday at The Granville Inn.” (Lt. Gov. Husted: Workforce development is Ohio’s most important issue Kent Mallet for the Newark Advocate, 4-2-19) Mallett is rather succinct: “”It is, by far, the most important issue we face,” Husted said. “Everywhere we go, this is the No. 1 issue. What we have to do is be a magnet for talent. The people, the communities, the states that get this right, will see greater prosperity. “Talent can mean a lot of things to a lot of people. For some, it’s someone who can pass a drug test and show up for work five days a week.” For others, he said, it could be someone with a doctoral degree. Adding to the challenge, he said, is the reality that more Ohioans will turn 65 years old than 18 years old during the next decade, dwindling the workforce further. Employers need mechanical engineers and electrical engineers, for example, Husted said.” Curious how the recent announcement of a new building to be constructed at OSUN COTC fits right in to that. Another digression, mea culpa. The next day the NY Times headlined “Short of Workers, U.S. Builders and Farmers Crave More Immigrants As a tight labor market raises costs, employers say the need for low-wage help can’t be met by the declining ranks of the native-born.” (Eduardo Porter, 4-3-19). Gasp! Significant numbers from the article: “The tightest labor market in more than half a century is finally lifting the wages of the least-skilled workers on the bottom rung of the labor force, bucking years of stagnation.” Not exactly mechanical or electrical engineers. “But to hear builders tell it, the rising cost of their crews reflects a demographic reality that could hamstring industries besides their own: Their labor force is shrinking. President Trump’s threat to close the Mexican border, a move that would cause damage to both economies, only adds to the pressure. Immigration — often illegal — has long acted as a supply line for low-skilled workers. Even before Mr. Trump ratcheted up border enforcement, economic growth in Mexico and the aging of the country’s population were reducing the flow of Mexican workers into the United States. The number of undocumented immigrants in America declined to 10.7 million at the end of 2017 from a peak of over 12 million at the height of the housing bubble in 2008, according to the Center for Migration Studies.” “The problem for builders is that the recovery in home building has outpaced the growth of the construction labor force. Housing starts have picked up to a pace of 1.2 million a month, more than twice as many as at their trough in April 2009. The number of nonsupervisory workers in residential construction, by contrast, has increased by only 40 percent since hitting bottom in 2011, to about 530,000.” “Were it not for immigrants, the labor crunch would be even more intense. In 2016, immigrants accounted for one in four construction workers, according to a study by Natalia Siniavskaia of the home builders’ association, up from about one in five in 2004. In some of the least-skilled jobs — like plastering, roofing and hanging drywall, for which workers rarely have more than a high school education — the share of immigrants hovers around half.” “For all the fears of robots taking over jobs, some economists are worrying about the broader economic fallout from a lack of low-skilled workers. And businesses across the economy are complaining that without immigration they will be left without a work force. “It is good for wages to go up, but if labor is at a point where employers can’t hire, it is reducing growth,” said Pia Orrenius, an economist with the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas. “There’s also considerable wage pressure in small towns and cities that are depopulating, but that is a sign of distress, not of rising productivity.” The labor crunch is likely to persist for some time. The Pew Research Center projects very little growth in the working-age population over the next two decades. If the United States were to cut off the flow of new immigrants, Pew noted, its working population would shrink to 166 million in 2035 from 173 million in 2015.” Double Gasp! Work force development may be near and dear to Mr. Husted’s heart as the most important issue facing the state, but this is only half the story. In disguise, the Republican in Mr. Husted is promulgating a white power movement theme, since we don’t have to address what historically really made America great – immigrants. The vitriol, diatribes and lies (some just call it hate) directed at immigrants defies their underlying value to the country as well as Licking County. Velvet Ice Cream (poster child of Grow Licking County) was an immigrant contribution. “Many of the high school students who would replenish the pipeline of carpenters, plumbers and electricians are undocumented immigrants. “Half of the kids in the high school carpentry programs are DACA kids,” said Mr. Hoffmann, the Dallas builder, referring to a program that allows unauthorized minors to stay in the United States. “They are not documented, so we can’t work with them.”” (Porter, NY Times) “”You get what you reward,” Husted said. “Whatever society celebrates, it gets more of. I’ll do signing days at tech schools.”” (Mallett, Newark Advocate) Triple Gasp!

What A Concept!

February 24, 2019

In the past year plus, Amazon had courted a vast number of American locations for establishment of its HQ2. When the dust had settled, it announced two HQ2’s – one in the greater DC area, and one in NYC, the borough of Queens to be specific. This came as more than a double whammy to those urban centers who earnestly offered to give all (and more) to have the mega giant’s home (away from home) office in their neighborhood. Popular discontent with the prospect of thousands of more employees, commuters, urban upheaval and displacement due to real estate values rising, gentrification, etc. while infrastructure costs, schools, and medical care, emergency services would receive no commercial Amazon support, created a popular uprising. Amazon withdrew its 2 HQ2 vision (and had to settle for just one). Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and her followers were credited (or blamed) for the erasure of the dream (or scheme). Many critiqued the outcome on the usual suspects attributed to “growth” in Licking County by Newark’s GOP mayor, the GOP county commissioners and (the GOP) Grow Licking County – “Jobs!” would bring wealth into the hood and revitalize the neglected economy. In Queens, it isn’t exactly vacant farm fields that would get transformed but the populace recognized early on that their rents would go up, along with their taxes and commute times (even for groceries). Real estate values going up is great for those who own it to make a financial killing (investment), terrible for those who depend on it to stay alive (for their livelihood or as a place to live). Analysis can only find that the folks in Queens could discern the difference. On the other side of the Atlantic an analogous situation exists with the slow motion train wreck called “Brexit.” London has been the traditional financial equivalent of Wall Street (indeed, many Newark consumers have their loan and credit card interest rates tied to the LIBOR rate which finds its home in, you guessed it, London). The various global banks and commercial entities which had their HQ1 (or 2) in London are now exiting. “Which City Is Winning the Race to Be Europe’s Next Finance Hub? None” by Sophia Akram appeared in Ozy (2-24-19). Seems no single European city will take in the financial refugees. Cities like Frankfurt, Paris, Dublin, Madrid, Milan, Amsterdam, etc. have suitors and potential mates but each only a few. No city wants them all. The usual suspects (covered by the AOC confrontation in Queens) are listed: “These growing pains — overpopulated cities, purpose-built towns and spillover into neighboring areas as well as soaring rents and property prices — aren’t surprising, says O’Malley [Eoin O’Malley, associate professor of politics at Dublin City University]. And how governments deal with them could determine whether these cities can truly cash in on the opportunity presented by Brexit, he adds. “Whenever you’re bringing in relatively high-paid jobs, it’s probably displacing the people living in those areas to the outskirts of the city,” says O’Malley. “There’s a lot of pressure on the government to build more social housing, and that’s probably the big issue in Irish politics at the moment.”” Gasp! Government build more housing? What a concept! Try selling THAT to Tim Bubb, Nate Strum or Jeff Hall. “And it will take time for the cities bidding to replace London to be able to fully absorb the incoming demand from foreign firms and professionals. O’Malley says Dublin, for instance, currently lacks adequate affordable housing, transport infrastructure and non-Catholic schooling.” “[Paris] is preparing for what O’Malley warned would become the gentrification that pushes residents from the city to its suburbs. The city, meanwhile, is expanding the Paris metro system to cover a “Greater Paris” metropolitan area.” Double gasp! Metro system expansion? What a concept! Grow Licking County prefers good ole self reliance, thank you (“Nate Strum, economic director of Grow Licking County and the Licking County Chamber of Commerce, said a new effort will focus on unemployed in neighboring counties with higher unemployment.” Mallett, Advocate: Employers thinking outside box on job recruitment, retention, training 2-22-19). The good folks in Queens heeded the USPS motto; “If it looks too good to be true, it probably isn’t true.” But the real concept camouflaged in all this (but staring us right in the face) is the dispersion of wealth. Since Occupy back in 2010/11, the public consciousness has grown with regards to wealth distribution and income inequality in the U S and abroad. Most are cognizant and articulate with the 1%, 99%  concept. Locating all the wealth within one sector seems to have been actually undermined by the likes of AOC and the Queens resistance to Amazon’s HQ2. And Brexit, no matter how it turns out, has likewise created a rupture in the concentration of wealth within a limited geographic location. It is a crack, indeed a relatively minor one, but Analysis does find that it makes factual the redistribution and dispersion of wealth, affecting more than just an exceptional few. Triple gasp! Wealth redistribution? What a concept!

Who Really Pays For The Wall?

January 7, 2019

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

 

Why Didn’t Newark Bid On The New Amazon HQ Location?

October 29, 2017

Discussion and debate over climate change (reality, urgency and impact) continues to rage in much the same forum as the debate over confederate monuments and first amendment rights for the ideas espoused by Richard Spencer. All to which the best reply came from Eminem at the 10-11-17 BET Awards: “Any fan of mine who’s a supporter of his, I’m drawing in the sand a line, you’re either for or against, and if you can’t decide who you like more and you’re split on who you should stand beside, I’ll do it for it for you with this. Fuck you.” ‘Nuff said. Relevant and current with regard to Newark and Ohio would be asking the question “Why didn’t Newark Development Partners Community Improvement Corp, in conjunction with Grow Licking County, submit a bid to attract Amazon’s new headquarters?” Come on Fred, inform us. We all know what a talented and available workforce is located right here in the heart of Licking County, as well as oodles of available land that is being squandered on, well, farming. So what could it be? Possibly the third requirement in Amazon’s potential site shopping cart – available public transportation. What’s Senator Flake’s buzzword, Fred? Something about keeping quiet is being complicit. But Analysis digresses. Maybe there is something larger at stake than planning with a vision of the future. Amazon’s largest wind farm yet is up and running in Texas They have a total of 18 wind farms, with 35 more in the works. by Swapna Krishna for Engadget (10-19-17) Prior to its locating a distribution center in Etna, Amazon also invested in an Ohio wind farm to generate its electricity (freeing it from reliance on AEP’s subsidized energy). Notable from the article: “This isn’t Amazon’s first foray into clean energy. The Amazon Wind Farm Texas is among 18 others across the US, and the online retailer has another 35 in planning stages. Not only are they offsetting their carbon footprint, at least somewhat, but they’re providing more jobs and contributing to local economies. Kara Hurst, Amazon’s Worldwide Director of Sustainability, cites a company-wide goal of eventually powering their infrastructure using solely renewable energy.” Analysis is disinterested in why this potentially makes Austin Texas a top candidate for Amazon’s hub but it may shed light on active disinterest in Newark as well as Ohio (remember the projected east Main street solar energy “farm” under the Diebold administration that was soon scuttled under Mayor Hall?). 10-29-17 InsideClimate News’ Brad Wieners and David Hasemyer headlined How Fossil Fuel Allies Are Tearing Apart Ohio’s Embrace of Clean Energy With scare studies, policy drafts and political donations, industry groups turned Ohio lawmakers against policies they once overwhelmingly supported. This is a very long and in depth article for which Analysis can only give an inadequate synopsis with some notable quotes. Remember the 2008 Ohio alternative energy law setting percentage standards for energy sources in Ohio? Of course you do, but in case you forgot: “The law committed Ohio to cutting energy consumption by 22 percent by 2025 and diversifying sources so that 12.5 percent of its electricity would come from alternative energy sources—geothermal, biomass, wind, solar.” At the time it passed the legislature 93 yea to 1 nay and was signed into law. Fast forward to “Beginning in earnest in 2011, a network of coal companies, utilities, think tanks, nonprofit foundations and political action committees coalesced to roll back Ohio’s alternative energy initiatives.” “Citing the study, state Sen. Kris Jordan introduced a bill five months later to repeal the alternative energy standards. The measure didn’t make it out of committee, but Jordan, [Bill] Seitz and others kept at it, until, in 2014, they managed to secure a two-year freeze on meeting the annual benchmarks established under the 2008 law.” The “study” (“Beacon Hill Institute, then an affiliate of Boston’s Suffolk University”) and follow ups claimed significant costs to utility users resulting in loss of jobs and diminishment of Ohio’s desirability as a business destination (“More scare studies followed. In 2015, the Institute of Political Economy at Utah State University published a paper suggesting Ohio’s energy rules would kill off 29,000 jobs. Last spring, the Buckeye Institute, a free-market think tank across the street from the Ohio Statehouse in Columbus, modeled four economic scenarios; the rosiest estimated that the renewable and energy efficiency standards would cost Ohio 6,800 jobs and $806 million in GDP by 2026.”). The usual suspects are involved: “This network includes Americans for Prosperity, a foundation funded by the energy magnates Charles and David H. Koch; the Heritage Foundation, a Washington-based advocacy group known for its criticism of climate change science; and the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), another conservative nonprofit in Washington with Koch ties that frequently spoon-feeds draft legislation to state politicians.” Of course, as with anything dealing with real/fake statistics/science we also have “Beacon Hill later lost its Suffolk University affiliation because, a university spokesman told The Boston Globe, its research lacked rigor and tended to reach conclusions sought by its underwriters.” and “”Those studies are completely bogus,” said Terrence O’Donnell, a lawyer representing renewable energy developers at Dickinson Wright, a Columbus law practice. “The Utah one is the most ridiculous, because it blames everything that happened to the economy during the recession on the renewable portfolio standards. It’s laughable. There’s not one policy maker I know of who still refers to it.” The Buckeye Institute, he added, assesses “a fictitious Ohio law, not the one on the books.”” “Several other studies have concluded that Ohio’s energy rules have, on the contrary, created jobs and improved the economy. One, published by Ohio State University’s Center for Resilience, found that in 2012 alone, the law stimulated a modest .04 percent, or $160 million, in GDP growth statewide. According to the Ohio Environmental Council (OEC), the state added more than 2,300 renewable energy projects and 25,000 clean energy jobs since 2009. Not minus 29,000 jobs, but plus 25,000 jobs, and not based on a model, but on payroll and labor statistics” “So whose numbers are right? On behalf of Gov. Kasich’s office, Matt Cox, a Ph.D. from MIT and founder of Greenlink, a consulting practice in Atlanta, modeled three scenarios to try to determine if Ohio’s energy rules were too aggressive. Overall, Cox found that the rules generated more jobs, more GDP and, in time, lowered electrical bills.” “Seitz told InsideClimate News that Cox ought not to have factored public health impacts of air pollution into his study. Cox responded, “How can you do a cost-benefit analysis and not factor in a cost that is borne, not by the utility, but by everyone else?”” Yadda Yadda Yadda. As anyone familiar with the recurrent ad nauseam phrase “counter puncher” knows, real or fabricated, this can go on and on. Also mentioned in the article was the 2014 Energy Mandate Study Committee. “The EMSC counted 12 elected officials, among them Seitz, as members. These 12 collectively received $830,000 in campaign contributions from utilities, oil and gas interests, and coal mining companies, according to an investigation by the National Institute on Money in State Politics. Contributions from electric utilities to Seitz more than tripled after he began trying to dismantle the state’s renewable energy standards.” “The final Energy Mandates Study Committee report was a gift to incumbent utilities and gas and coal interests. It recommended an indefinite extension of the freeze on renewable standards and more or less mirrored a bill Kasich vetoed on Dec. 22, 2016, saying the measure could undermine the state’s improved business climate and prevent businesses and homeowners from saving money by saving energy. Undeterred by Kasich’s veto, [Bill Seitz’s] HB 114, the bill that passed on March 30, contains much of the EMSC wish list.” “His bill is now in the state Senate, where it may face an uphill fight.” “Andrew Kear, an assistant professor of political science and environment and sustainability at Bowling Green State University, said HB 114 can’t survive without substantial changes. He said any measure will have to recognize that renewable energy is an economic driver in parts of the state. “They have to get beyond the false dichotomy that it’s environment versus economy,” he said.” Whew! Analysis finds it imperative for Newark to let Jay Hottinger (and Fred) know that HB 114 is not in the best interest of Newark, or Ohio. Why didn’t Newark bid on the new Amazon HQ location?

Bowling For Community Connectors

December 14, 2016

Language can be revealing. The extended presidential election of the past two years speaks eloquently to that. Words matter (though not always in color). Remember the brouhaha in Florida over whether the state employees were allowed to utter “climate change”, “global warming” or none of the above? Analysis finds it most revealing when words morph into other meanings than those intended. Case in point – the word “funding” has morphed into “investment”. The dictionary meanings are not at all the same. The primary meaning given for investment is “the action or process of investing money for profit or material result”. Secondary meanings all embrace return “worth buying because it may be profitable or useful in the future” and “an act of devoting time, etc. to a particular undertaking with the expectation of a worthwhile result”. Funding is simple “money provided, esp. by an organization or government, for a particular purpose.” [as well as the act of doing such]. Not complicated, but notice the shift in usage: Grow Licking County seeks additional investors in 2017 Kent Mallett , The Advocate, 12-14-16 – “Nate Strum, economic development director for the Licking County Chamber of Commerce and Grow Licking County, said he’d like to see about 50 investors in 2017.” “The organization received contributions from 31 investors in 2016, including $150,000 from the Licking County commissioners. Other top contributors were: Heath-Newark-Licking County Port Authority, $25,000; city of Heath, $12,000; and $10,000 each from the cities of Newark and Pataskala, the villages of Hebron and Johnstown, Energy Cooperative, and the Newark campus of Ohio State University and Central Ohio Technical College.” Even GLC member and County Commissioner Tim Bubb got in a plug “”Grow Licking County should be invested across the county, from all sectors,” Bubb said. “It sends the right message. Early investors did so without a track record. This shouldn’t be that painful because the results are there.”” What Analysis finds painful is that over half the funding for GLC comes from sources that themselves are funded by, well, public funding. Is this a trend? In his 2014 State of the State address Ohio Governor Kasich spoke “And we’re going to launch a new initiative, Community Connectors. It’s an initiative to support the best ideas in our state for bringing together schools, parents, communities, community organizations, faith-based groups, business leaders, and, of course, our students in mentoring efforts based on proven practices. We’re going to ask you, the Legislature, to take the $10 million from casino receipts, and we’re going to ask you to create a program that will give these communities a $3 match for every dollar they put in to build these mentoring efforts.” June 2014 saw fruition of Community Connectors with Kasich signing House Bill 483. 12-14-16 The Dispatch’s Mark Williams headlines Kasich panel suggests ways to prepare Ohio kids for jobs. “Ohio Gov. John Kasich appointed a panel composed of legislators, business leaders, labor leaders, educators and others to examine ways to make students better prepared to enter the workforce. Business leaders could one day serve on local school boards in a nonvoting capacity. More internships and apprentice programs would help students learn about — and prepare for — careers. Teachers would have opportunities to spend time in the workplace to learn more about what their students need to know to be successful in the workplace. The ideas were among proposals released Tuesday by Gov. John Kasich’s Executive Workforce Board. The recommendations are meant to address, among other things, longstanding employer complaints that they can’t find people with the right skill set to fill jobs.” “One recommendation is for local school boards to appoint three nonvoting members to represent local business interests and for school officials to get involved in local business groups. The report suggests teachers could get credits as part of their license renewals for externships so that they could gain a better understanding of business needs.” Analysis notes the slippage from “funding” to “investment” by the expectations “for profit or material result.” But The Dispatch was too kind in its reporting of what those results were to be. 12-18-14 The Plain Dealer’s Patrick O’Donnell headlined Schools need a religious partner if they want any of Gov. Kasich’s student mentorship money. “HB 483, as it went into law, makes faith-based organizations an option equal to “civic organizations” and business, but not a requirement.” But “Any school district that wants a piece of that state money must partner with both a church and a business – or a faith-based organization and a non-profit set up by a business to do community service. No business and no faith-based partner means no state dollars. “You must include a faith-based partner,” United Way of Greater Cleveland President Bill Kitson, told potential applicants at an information session the United Way hosted Thursday here in Cleveland. Kitson sits on Kasich’s advisory panel for the program, called “Community Connectors,” which is taking applications for grants now.” No matter the nitty gritty of the outcome or present status, “funding” has morphed into “investment” with the emphasis on “for profit or material result.” The old joke was about “revenue enhancement” being used to elide pronouncing the word “tax.” Last word, er, joke: “Kitson noted that $10 million is not a lot of money. The United Way, he said, is spending $2.5 million to service people in 25 Cleveland schools – about a quarter of the schools in the district. Doing that for the whole district would cost $10 million – the same amount available statewide for Community Connectors – so the state program will likely tackle single schools or just a few at a time.”

On An Aspirin Regimen

September 16, 2016

The appeal that Donnie Trump has for many voters is that he is a businessman, ostentatiously big business. Repeatedly, in media street and diner interviews one hears “it would be a good thing to have a businessman in the White House (not a politician).” In Newark, Grow Licking County, a public/private partnership administered by the Licking County Chamber of Commerce (the largest such in central Ohio) but funded by the county government, is lauded as the success driver for attracting “jobs” to this area (business knows business!). Another public/private partnership in Newark is the Canal Market District Farmers Market, an updated enhanced version of a previous Chamber sponsored market. The new Farmers Market is touted as a success by the Market, the Chamber and local politicians. Customers are reassured that all the vendors have been thoroughly checked out by the Market master and can be trusted to provide safe and reliable products. Central Ohio consumers like to know where their food is coming from, we are told (by the same market master). After all the Dole produce recalls, Chipotle contamination and Jeni’s Ice Cream repeated shut downs, it is heartening to hear that someone is being stringent in requiring that food be handled properly. After all, food is a very BIG business. 9-15-16 Carey Gillam posted “FDA Finds Monsanto’s Weed Killer In U.S. Honey” (Huffington Post). Some excerpts: “In examining honey samples from various locations in the United States, the FDA has found fresh evidence that residues of the weed killer called glyphosate can be pervasive – found even in a food that is not produced with the use of glyphosate. All of the samples the FDA tested in a recent examination contained glyphosate residues, and some of the honey showed residue levels double the limit allowed in the European Union, according to documents obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request. There is no legal tolerance level for glyphosate in honey in the United States. Glyphosate, which is the key ingredient in Monsanto Co.’s Roundup herbicide, is the most widely used weed killer in the world, and concerns about glyphosate residues in food spiked after the World Health Organization in 2015 said its cancer experts determined glyphosate is a probable human carcinogen.” “In addition to honey, the records show government residue experts discussing glyphosate found in soybean and wheat samples, “glyphosate controversies,” and the belief that there could be “a lot of violation for glyphosate” residues in U.S. crops.” “In the records released by the FDA, one internal email describes trouble locating honey that doesn’t contain glyphosate: “It is difficult to find blank honey that does not contain residue. I collect about 10 samples of honey in the market and they all contain glyphosate,” states an FDA researcher. Even “organic mountain honey” contained low concentrations of glyphosate, the FDA documents show.” “The FDA routinely looks for residues of a number of commonly used pesticides but not glyphosate [an herbicide]. The look for glyphosate this year is considered a “special assignment” and came after the agency was criticized by the U.S. Government Accountability Office in 2014 for failing to test for glyphosate.” “Like the FDA, the USDA has dragged its feet on testing. Only one time, in 2011, has the USDA tested for glyphosate residues despite the fact that the agency does widespread testing for residues of other less-used pesticides. In what the USDA called a “special project” the agency tested 300 soybean samples for glyphosate and found more than 90 percent – 271 of the samples – carried the weed killer residues.” “Both the USDA and the FDA have long said it is too expensive and is unnecessary to test for glyphosate residues. Yet the division within the USDA known as the Grain Inspection, Packers & Stockyards Administration (GIPSA) has been testing wheat for glyphosate residues for years because many foreign buyers have strong concerns about glyphosate residues. GIPSA’s testing is part of an “export cargo sampling program,” documents obtained from GIPSA show. Those tests showed glyphosate residues detected in more than 40 percent of hundreds of wheat samples examined in fiscal 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012.” Monsanto, the business, markets Roundup in conjunction with Roundup ready seeds as intellectual property, requiring a signed contractual agreement to abide by company terms for its use (much as software is sold). Too many instances have been recorded of transgressions, intentional or unintentional (like the wind blowing pollen unto a neighbor’s field producing traceable varieties in violation of the intellectual property agreement), where Monsanto, the business, has sued to protect their brand. Where have we seen that before? Currently Monsanto is being bought out by Bayer, the aspirin folks.

Refreshment Opportunity

August 29, 2016

A teaser. Really. But oh, so revealing. “Is city corporate park about to land first user?” (Chad Klimack, Newark Advocate, 8-25-16) reports “on the potential economic development opportunity” of (what the Kasich administration defines as) a “Job Ready Site”. Analysis notes “the “opportunity” apparently concerns the city’s long-vacant Job Ready Site, which covers nearly 300 acres inside the 500-plus-acre corporate park.” Lest, dear reader, one believes that “the city’s…” designates ownership, the article later clearly points out that “Pataskala’s corporate park is privately owned”. Significant for Analysis is that “Pataskala officials and their county counterparts have been bullish on the corporate park ever since the opening of the extended Etna Parkway in 2011. The county used a $3.4 million state Job Ready Site grant — and contributed almost $3 million of its own money — to build the road. Officials argued it would open up the site to development by creating an easier connection between U.S. 40 and Broad Street.” Equally significant for Analysis is the anecdotal narrative (that never was) “City and county officials may be hesitant to comment because they have come close to landing a user before — only to see the company go elsewhere. An unnamed data center sniffed around the park in early 2015. Representatives even submitted a rezoning request for 212 acres inside the park, but they ultimately pulled the request.” Of course, Grow Licking County has a complete array of tax credits, abatements, subsidies and incentives to consummate the art of the deal. Analysis wonders whether 5 years of inactive vacancy is a sign of success or failure (on the part of Grow Licking County)? The tax payers have provided well over six and a half million dollars for some privately owned property to become profitable. This is done with the “hope” of jobs being created. Would they do this for a hot dog vendor who wanted another cart and was willing to hire an employee to man the cart? Restrain your guffaws, please. What of a “mom and pop” (such a thing still exists?) restaurant, garage, or small farm wanting to add another location or expand? Would the county commissioners fund that job creation? No, of course not, it would have to be really big before… That is the “natural” expectation that drives the repetitive behavior (we all recall the definition of insanity and repeating behavior that doesn’t work). How big? What makes it big enough to qualify? Analysis would like to look at this from a more contemporary perspective. To be really big means big wealth. Big wealth can’t be idle, it is supposed to create even more wealth. The power of wealth, also known as capital (from whence comes “capitalism”), is that it can create value. Big wealth (capital)) calls the shots (“only to see the company go elsewhere” So much for some governor or president being credited for creating…). Capital (big wealth) determines value. The “natural” expectation is that the “privately owned” land has some value. The actuality is that capital (big wealth) alone determines value, hence the almost 7 million spent by the tax payers wooing big wealth (naturally described as “opportunity”). Where have we seen this before? Analysis finds this repeatedly playing out in the kabuki of the 2016 presidential contest. Indeed, in recorded interviews, the Republican candidate for president has repeatedly said that his value (net worth) cannot be pinned down because that changes with however it is he feels about his personal worth on any given day. Substantiating his expressed policy position is the adamant refusal by the GOP candidate to release his tax returns. Doing so would assign him a specific value, limiting the “opportunities”. A key component of “opportunity” is such “feeling” toward value. Analysis found this term appeared 6 times in Klimack’s little article. The rival on the DEM side is just too happy to establish her own value, believing such inherent worth justifies “receiving” mega bucks in multiple speaking honorariums. The big wealth (capital) accumulated from these brief speaking stints have helped create the candidate’s value, entitling her to address things from the side of capital (big wealth) while promoting the neo liberal mantra of “opportunity” for all. In 2016 the American electorate has presented itself with the choice of “wealth determines value” or “value determines wealth”. Would the reader prefer a Pepsi or a Coke?