Posts Tagged ‘Grow Licking County Community Investment Corporation’

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?

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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?

The Patience Of Jobs

July 30, 2016

No, not Steve Jobs. Jobs, the Marxist definition of “selling one’s labor”. The 2016 presidential event has left the primary season behind and now has entered the final phase of two major party candidates with their pitch to the electorate. And once again, “establishment” or “outsider”, the pitch remains jobs. It is still not clear what the attraction is for the electorate of selling one’s labor, or what the magnetism is that sticks it to election cycle after election cycle, for as long as can be remembered. If there was anything to be learned from the Bush years, it was that profit margins are what drive Wall Street, and where the margin isn’t growing, the stock plummets. Where the money to be made is not “enough”, then the property is left to rot (see Where Credit Is Due 7-10-16 for how this happens locally, or remember the old Meijer store on 21st St.?). Yet both major party candidates are focusing their marketing on “the rust belt” promising, what else, jobs. In interviews with residents of these areas over the last 20 years they all ultimately admit “but those jobs are never coming back” (it is what comes after the “but” that is the working end of a “but” statement). Yes 20, as automation drove out a lot of those jobs with the dot com fireworks of the first Clinton administration. Today’s (un)employment statistics- local, statewide or even national- certainly don’t show what the imagined scenario promoted by the two major candidates portrays. By historic standards, it is at or near full employment. What puzzles the Federal Reserve is that, though on the cusp of being too low (contributing to inflation), there is little signs of inflationary trending. In his run for the White House, Ohio’s Governor campaigned, not on any appeal to “rust belt” marketing, but rather on Ohio’s low unemployment. Locally, former radio personality and current Licking County Commission megaphone Tim Bubb repeatedly uses “jobs” when cutting services to public transportation, family services and affordable housing while “spending” tax generated revenue on Grow Licking County (to which he is a board member), tax abatements, credits and incentives for existing/relocating businesses and development. “Selling one’s labor” is trotted out predictably when austerity is called for. When it comes to sharing (or showing) the wealth, then it is secret, “sunshine law” adverse public meetings that result in Bubb’s boondoggle cost overrun real estate projects. “[Auditor Mike] Smith said he heard last year the courthouse project would cost close to $10 million, instead of the initial $4 million cost approved by the commissioners.” (Kent mallet, Newark Advocate “Auditor: Courthouse cost spike to $10M unsurprising” 7-28-16) “In addition to the courthouse, the commissioners announced the Child Support Enforcement Agency building at 65 E. Main St., needs a repair and restoration project estimated to cost up to $3.8 million. The one-year project will be advertised in August, bids will be opened in September and it may be under construction this year, Bubb said. “The last I heard it was going to be $1 million (for CSEA building),” Smith said. “Why take a $700,000 building and put $4 million into it? You can build a new building twice the size for $3.8 million.” Bubb said he does not expect the final cost will be as high as $3.8 million.” Analysis finds no mention of jobs, “selling one’s labor” in any of these real estate partnership deals. It all is about spending the fruits of someone else’s labor. “”Our budget has increased by $45 million to $62 million and we’re still not socking any money away,” Smith said. “With our credit rating, we could borrow more money than we could ever pay back.” Bubb said the building improvements are not annual expenses and will save the county money in the long run, but the work can’t be overlooked any longer.” Analysis predicts commissioner Bubb will mouth the usual “jobs” austerity spiel when requests are made to fund services to county residents that these buildings are intended for (We can’t afford that. What we need is jobs incentives to businesses and Grow Licking County.) Will Licking County residents find a building at 65 E. Main all dressed up with nowhere to go?

Is Everyone Unhappy?

April 1, 2016

“I’m not happy unless you’re unhappy” seems to be an underlying, almost subliminal mantra within a good part of the political aspirant for the future of self-governance here in the US of A (both individual as well as ideological). Quick, without checking a smartphone, what was the reason given by the freshly, first time elected Mayor Jeff Hall for why Newark’s streets could not be paved? No, you don’t need to phrase it in the form of a question. That’s right, the bungled Longaberger public- private partnership. Well, just like Arnold, it’s back. The Newark Advocate headlines “Leaders discuss Big Basket future without Longaberger” by Kent Mallett (3-31-16). “The company [parent company JRJR Networks] owed $472,859 in delinquent property taxes for the Big Basket on Feb. 17, and will owe $568,132 at the end of the year.” But wait, superheroes “Mayor Jeff Hall, former Longaberger President Jim Klein, developer Jerry McClain, chamber President and CEO Cheri Hottinger, County Commissioner Tim Bubb, Newark Development Partners Director Fred Ernest, Grow Licking County Director Nate Strum and representatives from higher education and local foundations discussed ideas for the building.” Holy love handles, Bubbman, this could be fraught with danger! No problemo, Wan Woman “Hottinger said the building could be used for seminars. It has a large cafeteria area and a 100- to 120-seat theater, with a stage, several conference areas for board meetings or training. The building could have a tourism function to it, she said, but still needs multiple tenants and at least one pretty large company before it also could be used as a visitors’ center.” According to the official Licking County website “‘Grow Licking County’ is a Community Improvement Corporation and a cooperative effort between Licking County Government, The Heath-Newark-Licking County Port Authority, and the Licking County Chamber of Commerce.” “based at the Licking County Chamber of Commerce”. So much for getting the streets paved, Boy Blunder. On the state level we find “Republican Gov. John Kasich’s administration is moving forward with plans to require more than 1 million low-income Ohioans to pay a new monthly cost for Medicaid or potentially lose coverage.” (Waiver readied to require cost-sharing in Medicaid, Ann Sanner for AP, 3-31-16). For those of you keeping score at home, we just learned of Jobs and Family Services losing funding through a program promoted by Newark’s US Congressperson (and all around good guy) Pat Tiberi after losing previous funding from the State, never restored by its wannabe US president. That self same presidential candidate nationally justified his embrace of Medicaid (while vowing to destroy the ACA), on religious (compassionate) grounds. Folks are on Medicaid because they can’t afford medical care (let alone premiums). “But I can’t be happy, till I make you unhappy too.” Is everyone unhappy? Almost, but not quite! “Ohio assures profits for 2 energy companies” by Jessie Balmert for Gannett (3-31-16) reports that “The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio in a 5-0 vote Thursday approved plans from Akron-based FirstEnergy and Columbus-based American Electric Power that require customers to subsidize aging plants.” And “Ohio Consumers’ Counsel initially estimated the plans would cost customers as much as $6 billion over eight years. That amounted to an extra $800 for every FirstEnergy customer and $700 for every AEP customer over that time.” After what we’ve witnessed with the price of petroleum, FirstEnergy and AEP must be very happy. But wait, there’s more! “Republicans lied in Wisconsin: Here’s how you know the state’s voter ID law is a complete sham Wisconsin GOPers insisted the law wasn’t intended to suppress the vote. A new report suggests that wasn’t true” by Elias Isquith, staff writer for Salon (3-30-16). “On April 5, when voters cast ballots in Wisconsin’s Republican and Democratic primaries, the state’s controversial voter ID bill will face its biggest test since Governor Scott Walker signed it into law in 2011. For the first time in a major election, citizens will be required to show approved forms of identification in order to vote. The law mandates that the state run a public-service campaign “in conjunction with the first regularly scheduled primary and election” to educate voters on what forms of ID are acceptable. But Wisconsin has failed to appropriate funds for the public education campaign.” Not only that, but “the Government Accountability Board [“the nonpartisan agency responsible for producing voter education materials”] decided against making a formal funding request to the legislature, which had already introduced a bill to dismantle the agency.” Isquith concludes “With anywhere between 200,000 to 350,000 Wisconsin citizens potentially facing disenfranchisement, according to [Pro Publica’s Sarah] Smith’s report, the voter ID law is on pace to work exactly as intended.” Is everyone unhappy?

Is It Any Wonder?

February 17, 2016

“Contaminated Flint water among most expensive in the U.S.” Reuters reports 2-16-16. Let’s look under the hood: “The annual water bill in Flint as of January 2015 was $864.32 for a household using 60,000 gallons a year, said Washington-based advocacy group Food & Water Watch” “The second highest water prices in the country were in Bellevue, Washington, at $855.25 a year for 60,000 gallons of water. The least expensive water was in Phoenix, at $84.24 a year.” Desert models somehow age better. Must be because of the paucity of rain, winters without ice and salt….

How about this beauty: “Trustees agree to OK abatement for MPW Industrial Services” (Maria DeVito for the Newark Advocate 2-15-16). No need to test drive this baby, we’ve done it before (this blog’s “Limited Time Blue Light Special On Aisle 5” 7-30-14). Take a look at the lines on this model: “Trustee Charlie Prince said after the meeting that the trustees didn’t have the exact resolution, but he “didn’t want to continue the uncertainty” for MPW so the three trustees passed an intent to grant the 15-year, 100 percent tax abatement the company is seeking.” Not enough power for you? How about “MPW, an industrial cleaning and water purification company”? Customer satisfaction is number one. With extra added features like “The Ohio Tax Credit Authority approved today a 50 percent, six-year tax credit to MPW for creation of $1 million in new annual payroll.” (“MPW plans $4.4 million expansion, 25 new jobs” Kent Mallett for the same Newark Advocate 7-29-14). Something sweet to seal the deal? “The county will extend an existing sewer line from the Pilot Travel Center truck stop just north of Interstate 70 to the MPW facility at 9711 Lancaster Road SE. “That was a big part of the deal — connecting to a public system and off of a private system,” Bubb said.” (same Mallett article from 7-29-14). Hmmmmm. Not sold on the benefits? Bring us your best deal and we’ll beat it or give you… “The study – which looked at the 500 largest community water systems in 48 states – showed that private, for-profit water systems generally charged more than the public water systems that prevail around the country.” (same Reuters) “The county will extend an existing sewer line” for a private “cleaning and water purification company” to assist its business, earn a tax abatement, and collect a tax credit. We’re dealin’!

 

Ohio House Bill 394

January 17, 2016

Writing for the Columbus Dispatch on 1-11-16, Catherine Candisky reported on Representative Barbara Sears’ Ohio House Bill 394 (Unemployment benefits changes would ‘dismantle’ anti-poverty program, advocates say). This stealth bill is plodding along the legislative track on its way to being signed into law by presidential wannabe John Kasich. “At a news conference on Monday in Columbus, Advocates for Ohio’s Future, a coalition of nearly 500 health- and human-services groups, said Sears’ bill goes further than any other state to limit benefits to the unemployed.” Currently the proposed bill is in committee, the house insurance committee (previous stomping ground of Newark’s Jay Hottinger who now is in the Senate). This combination of practically non existent press coverage, “grass roots” (conservative base) sponsorship, and radical sweeping change (from those ostensibly opposed to change) may have Ohioans waking up one morning not recognizing the state they live in. AP headlines like yesterday’s “Kansas’ uncertain state finances weighs on some lawmakers”(by Jim Suhr and John Hanna 1-16-16) and a plethora recently from the incredible tragedy in Flint Michigan (state fiscal austerity ahead of public health considerations) indicate determining that problems have been eliminated or don’t exist by legislative fiat simply doesn’t work. The outcomes can be severe. Candisky quotes Sears as saying “it’s just too late to start over.” (is it?), though she is entertaining amendments for those deemed exceptional. “The bill, she said, seeks to shore up Ohio’s unemployment-compensation fund by severely limiting benefits to workers who lose a job. According to an analysis by the independent Legislative Service Commission, H.B. 394 would reduce taxes paid by employers into Ohio’s unemployment compensation fund by $313 million on average each year through 2025. During that same time, benefits to workers would be reduced by an average of $475 million annually.” “In addition, the bill would: Reduce benefits to 12 weeks in times of low unemployment, tying Ohio with North Carolina for lowest in the country. Eliminate added benefits for workers with dependents. Mandate that employees work during at least three quarters in the year to qualify for benefits, a requirement in no other state. Disqualify from benefits any worker who violates their employer handbook, a requirement in no other state. Reduce benefits for senior workers based on the amount of Social Security they receive.” Last Sunday (1-10-16) The Newark Advocate ran Licking County Commissioner Tim Bubb’s “A look back and ahead for Licking County”. In true “year in review “ fashion, the accomplishments and successes of the Licking County Chamber of Commerce administered public/private partnership, Grow Licking County, were touted. Following SCOTUS Citizen United ruling precedent (that corporations are persons), the commissioner, and Grow Licking County board member, cited corporate entity after corporate entity responsible for the greatness of Licking County Ohio in the past and upcoming year. Not a single living human being was named in the entire column! Analysis finds no change in the county’s poverty within that period, nor any mention of it by Commissioner Bubb. At the end of her article Candisky reports “Sears said the trend toward part-time workers suggests Ohio’s tax climate is not competitive or attractive to businesses.” Do tell.

Between The Lines

September 16, 2015

The 9-16-15 online Advocate reported “Dan Evers leaving as economic development director” (Kent Mallet). “NEWARK — Dan Evers, director of Grow Licking County and economic development director for the Licking County Chamber of Commerce, leaves Oct. 2 to become executive director of the Clinton County Port Authority.” The usual spend-more-time-with-the -family was given as the reason for the departure (“Family considerations also played a role in the decision, Evers said. “It enables me to be closer to my parents and children at a time when being closer to them is important,” Evers said.”). Of course, unmentioned was monetary remuneration, something arrived at only by reading between the lines (“ Rick Platt, executive director of the Port Authority, said he’s confident the county can find a successor, but he said a review of the position is in order. “We lost someone to another county, so we have to make sure we’re being competitive in personnel offerings,” Platt said. “We have to evaluate was there something we could have done to have prevented that.”). Remembering history also helps in reading between the lines, but then again, after the dissed pleas to remember history during the decision to destroy the old county children’s home, analysis shows that memory just can’t be taken for granted. Besides, a smartphone does it so much better! But remember please, dear reader, the plea made by Chamber President and CEO Cheri Hottinger to the county commissioners to increase enormously the amount budgeted for the Chamber, er, Grow Licking County public private partnership. Which, after this blog’s previous “Junk Science” post (9-10-15), really does beg the question of who was Dan Evers’ employer or boss – Mrs. Hottinger? The county commissioners? The tax payers of Licking County? Or the businesses which not only were his clients but also his employers (the Chamber, after all, runs Grow Licking County which is a public-private partnership run by the Chamber which itself is a private endeavor comprised of the folks who were Evers’ “clients”)? Did he even have a boss? ‘Nuff said, as mentioned in the “Junk Science” post, reading between the lines here was something more of an exercise in “an unthinking understanding, passed down through the years, about who and what deserves to command our attention” which most everyone already does without thinking! HOWEVER, Mallet’s line (from the article) of “Licking County’s employment and workforce have reached all-time highs this year as companies move to New Albany, Pataskala, Heath, Hebron and Johnstown. The number of manufacturing companies considering Licking County development sites has continued to increase during the last few years.” did not escape Analysis. Reading between the lines here requires a bit of an assist. That same day (9-16-15) online Reuters reported “U.S. household incomes slip, poverty rate up slightly in 2014” (by Susan Heavey and Doina Chiacu). “”In 2014, real median household income was 6.5 percent lower than in 2007, the year before the most recent recession,” Census researchers wrote [U.S. Census Bureau]. At the same time, the poverty rate ticked up to 14.8 percent from 14.5 percent in 2013, the data showed. Census researchers said the changes in both the median income and poverty rate were not statistically significant.” Reading between the lines of Mallet’s glowing assessment of Licking County progress, growth, and job creation under Evers’ Grow Licking County directorship requires asking a question the Advocate (definitely Kent Mallet’s employer) refuses to allow to even be asked: “What have we got to show for it?” One cannot answer this question in English. Speak American Sarah Palin insists! Au Contraire. Only by lapsing into European (or Asian) reverie and entering into a dream world (found there) do we answer the question. Yes Virginia, other modern industrial states have dependable public transportation whereby the residents of a county’s government and population center, like Newark, could access all these jobs in “New Albany, Pataskala, Heath, Hebron and Johnstown”. Remember history? Not too hard to recognize that Newark was not included with the “all-time highs.” And the streets still cry out for pavement. Analysis won’t even begin to address the obvious “U.S. household incomes slip”. Once again “Our news agenda reflects not a smoke-filled room but rather an unthinking understanding, passed down through the years, about who and what deserves to command our attention.”

Fie!

September 15, 2015

“ORIGIN Middle English: via Old French from Latin fi, an exclamation of disgust at a stench.”

While on the subject of referencing dictionary erudition, the Newark Advocate ran a self-aggrandizing editorial in its Sunday 9-13-15 edition (what other day could, or would, the Advocate bother to editorialize?). Shearer and company jumped on the all too obvious, overcrowded, and self-righteous opposition to the proposed “Marijuana legalization amendment” (Issue 3) by waxing eloquent on the wickedness of monopolies. “Most dictionaries define monopoly as “complete control of the entire supply of goods or of a service in a certain area or market” or “the exclusive possession or control of the supply or trade in a commodity or service.”” Where’s this definition when it comes to the Advocate (with its Grow Licking County partners) championing the ”jobs created” at the various industrial parks sprouting up in Etna, New Albany and Heath/Hebron? Today’s (9-14-15) online New York Times brought gravitas (and relevance) to bear on this question (Who’s the Boss When You Work for a Franchise or Contractor? 9-14-15). “In a decision that’s been called the greatest expansion of union rights in decades, the National Labor Relations Board has ruled that if a corporation uses contractors or franchisees, contract workers who unionize can negotiate with the parent company and their direct employer. Previously, unions could often only deal with the contractor or franchise owner, greatly limiting their bargaining power. Critics of the ruling say it unfairly makes corporations responsible for workers they haven’t hired and conditions over which they have no control.” In an accompanying article (Companies Must Take Full Responsibility for All Workers) Ruth Milkman writes “An even more significant ruling came in last week’s National Labor Relations Board decision involving Browning-Ferris Industries, which found that the corporation and its subcontractor were “joint employers,” each obliged to bargain with the union seeking to represent workers at a recycling plant. The reason is straightforward: Browning-Ferris sets the working hours and tasks to be performed, the subcontractor handles hiring and payroll, and both hire supervisors. This is all standard practice when large companies contract with staffing firms.” And staffing firms are definitely the only entry to jobs at these new Licking County work sites. Analysis detects a noticeable stench when temporary staffing firms are somehow deemed exceptional to the definition of ““complete control of the entire supply of goods or of a service in a certain area or market” or “the exclusive possession or control of the supply or trade in a commodity or service.””