Posts Tagged ‘Licking County Public Transportation’

Between The Lines

October 22, 2020

            Recent news out of Newark Ohio is the dedication of the recently built Sharon Valley fire station (Newark officials anticipate lives saved with reduced response times from new firehouse Michaela Sumner, Newark Advocate, 10-20-20). Also in the news, same day, was the projected expansion of bike paths, etc. (Transportation plan would extend bike paths, add sidewalks Kent Mallett Newark Advocate). The two stories share a lot in common and inform between-the-line readers of political priorities. Though the fire house story is primarily good times are to be had, the fire station originally started out much as the bike path story. It was projected. Then rapidly built. Both projected desires rely on leveraging and/or spending other people’s money (“The Granville Road path is being designed now and expected to be completed in 2023 or 2024. The cost of the path extension project is about $500,000, with the city paying 20% and Licking County Area Transportation Study paying 80%.” “[Newark Division of Fire Chief Patrick] Connor noted a new ambulance was purchased through CARES Act funding, and the fire engine is new to the city.”). Leveraging and spending other people’s money is, well, pretty much the American way. Privately, one needs only look at the enormous amount of debt carried by average Americans to witness leveraging and spending other people’s money. Most people buy as much house as their down payment will leverage.  In country and western speak it is “having everything that me and the bank would own.” Publicly, it is how roads get paved, buildings built or remodeled, downtown squares updated. There is a downside – “As the conversation about adding a new fire station in Newark has increased in recent years, so did concerns about how the city would increase staffing and equipment to cover a new firehouse.” Running the darn thing and maintaining it cannot be leveraged. But what gets leveraged, and what is shelved as a pipe dream “we cannot afford” by civic leaders? The between-the-lines answer would include the low barrier shelter at 200 E. Main St. (projected at about the same time as the fire station) as well as fixed route/schedule public transportation within the same region that LCATS is funding bike paths and sidewalks. The political priorities announced by the opening of a fire station, located in an area ripe for development, and bike paths, to and fro that area, is loud and clear – “We don’t want the homeless to have a home in Newark, nor a ways to get around for those unable to purchase (and maintain) an automobile.”

Advertisement

Not Quite Ready For Prime Time Stand Up

March 6, 2018

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before. A young man at the corner of Cedar and East Main asks a bent over elderly gent how he could get to the hospital (or Zanesville, Columbus, or New York City, any or all of the above). “Can’t get there from here, Sonny” replied the octogenarian. (Thank you, thank you very much. You’re too kind) Unfortunately the old coot would be correct. Just prior to the old coot’s infancy, there was an interurban that operated from Newark (and surrounds, like Granville) to Moxahala Park just south of Zanesville. The park is long gone but the vestige of the town remains in its name (the tunnel at Black Hand Gorge isn’t because someone wanted to remove everything that wasn’t a tunnel). From the same period, Cedar Point benefitted and grew from the public transportation provided so park goers could get from Cleveland to Sandusky. There was city wide public transportation in Newark as well as passenger train service to Anytown USA (what do you thing that “station” is just south of the Canal Market?). Half way to now, the grey dog stopped in Newark. Now to access the grey dog requires getting to Zanesville or Columbus (“can’t get there from here”). Flying to NYC involves the same “can’t get there from here.” Newark, another “destination” like Moxahala? “The future is flying cars!” we are told. Those unable to afford a new one can just make do with a used one. Maybe it won’t fly as high, or as long, or crash and burn, but they will have to make do. It’s all about the future (everything’s up to date in Newark city!). Unfortunately right on, but wrong. The future is self driving cars, autonomous vehicles. And in case you were thinking of buying a used one, read the tea leaves again. The big car makers aren’t collaborating with the big internet companies in order to sell these puppies. The major hurdle yet to be resolved is liability (and yes, Virginia, congress will have to pass laws). Which precludes much individual ownership. More like buying a service and paying whatever the service provider charges whether you use it or not. Sound familiar? Sigh! But then again there’s always the future, like hyper loop. There’s even talk of running one from Cleveland to, you guessed it, Cedar Point (get to the Point). But these, like the old interurbans, will be “mass” public transportation – i.e. lots of folk traveling in the same compartment. OMG The future is actually Public Transportation! Yes, Virginia, busses, light rail and autonomous vehicles are all part of the future unfolding before us. So much for flying cars. The last time the future roared through these parts, Newark was left behind and its downtown languished. If you don’t wish for a Ground Hog Day scenario, come to the Public Transportation meeting at Trinity Episcopal Church, 76 E. Main, 10 – noon, Saturday March 10 and help plan the future. “What possessed Analysis to go in depth on something like this” you ask? “Local leaders receive award for historic preservation efforts” Kent Mallet headlined for the Advocate, 4-5-18. “The award recognized preserving historic assets, including the investment to preserve the Licking County Courthouse, historic rehabilitation in downtown Newark, and advocacy for the World Heritage designation that includes the Newark Earthworks.” Unfortunately, you “can’t get there from here.” Thank you, Thank you very much. You’re too kind!

Red Herring

March 4, 2018

Red herring: “noun, something, especially a clue, that is or is intended to be misleading or distracting.” No, Analysis is not going to consider immigration (DACA has run out), nor how hot one has to be to obtain an “Einstein visa”, or the links of chain implicated by such legitimation. Rather, Analysis would like to stay with a recent interrogation – reliable, accessible, affordable and sustainable Public Transportation in Licking County. Though the need for Public Transportation has been covered many times in the past, a recent study jumps out with its contribution to the current urgency. Late last week an MIT study was released that was covered by many news outlets. Analysis will quote from “Uber, Lyft Drivers Earning A Median Profit Of $3.37 Per Hour, Study Says” by James Doubek for NPR (3-2-18). “A working paper by Stephen M. Zoepf, Stella Chen, Paa Adu and Gonzalo Pozo at MIT’s Center for Energy and Environmental Policy Research says the median pretax profit earned from driving is $3.37 per hour after taking expenses into account. Seventy-four percent of drivers earn less than their state’s minimum wage, the researchers say.”  Inevitable “push back” will be around the methodology (as it usually has been with tobacco effects studies, the demise of the honey bee studies, and climate change studies, yadda, yadda). “The conclusions are based on surveys of more than 1,100 drivers who told researchers about their revenue, how many miles they drove and what type of car they used. The study’s authors then combined that with typical costs associated with a certain car’s insurance, maintenance, gas and depreciation, which was gathered in data from Edmunds, Kelley Blue Book and the Environmental Protection Agency.” “Drivers earning the median amount of revenue are getting $0.59 per mile driven, researchers say, but expenses work out to $0.30 per mile, meaning a driver makes a median profit of $0.29 for each mile.” Analysis finds a local area university reimburses its employees at 54.5 cents per mile, the IRS rate for personal vehicle deduction. This corroborates the claim that “MIT authors also calculated that it’s possible for billions of dollars in driver profits to be untaxed because “nearly half of drivers can declare a loss on their taxes.” Drivers are able to use the IRS standard mileage rate deduction to write off some of the costs of using a car for business. In 2016, that number was $0.54 per mile. “Because of this deduction, most ride-hailing drivers are able to declare profits that are substantially lower,” researchers write. “If drivers are fully able to capitalize on these losses for tax purposes, 73.5% of an estimated U.S. market $4.8B in annual ride-hailing driver profit is untaxed,” they add.” Of course, an Uber spokesperson said of the study that “its methodology and findings are deeply flawed.” Yadda, yadda. In light of the recent meetings on Public Transportation in Licking County, the study nets a plethora of quandaries. No, not the need for more immigrants to work at jobs that don’t pay enough to sustain minimum standards of living, let alone allow one a future. “Uber and Lyft both have “notoriously high” turnover rates among drivers. A report last year said just 4 percent of Uber drivers work for the company for at least a year.” And the existing LC Transit Board says it has a hard time retaining drivers! A bulwark of the GOP solution to most problems (in Licking County, Ohio, and the nation) is to opt for the free market to “take care of” the problem through the incentive of tax credits, abatements and cuts (or no tax at all! see recently passed US tax code with its partiality to business tax cuts). Indeed, we are repeatedly told by Republican free market ideologues that “the market” is the solution to all problems, including epidemics, health care for all, as well as individual retirement (Dear Leader or John the governator makes little difference). “Both Uber and Lyft have been fighting legal battles for years against initiatives to classify their drivers as “employees” instead of “independent contractors” — meaning drivers don’t receive benefits like health care or sick leave.” Contractors (whether independent or not) are what currently the LC Transit Board, as well as others, rely on as a solution for public transportation needs. “According to MIT researchers, 80 percent of drivers said they work less than 40 hours per week. An NPR/Marist poll in January found that 1 in 5 jobs in the U.S. is held by a contract worker; contractors often juggle multiple part-time jobs.” Analysis finds that though ride sharing (contractors) may appear to be affordable and accessible, it is actually unsustainable and unreliable. Promoting a virtual platform as a solution for Public Transportation in Licking County is in fact, if not intent, misleading and distracting.

In Need Of Invitation,Not!

February 3, 2018

As rescheduled, the Community Meeting For Public Transportation presented by the Freedom School in Licking County took place at Newark’s Trinity Episcopal Church, Saturday morning (2-3-18). It was very well attended by those affected by the glaring inadequacy of Newark’s public transit, people actively engaged with public transportation as well as community advocacy, and a smattering of politicians. The dense population of attendees “in the know” spoke out about the need for public transportation, the various actually existing incarnations present within other Ohio municipalities and counties similar in size to Newark and Licking county, and various wish lists for our own situation. There were attendee testimonials of the absolute maddening INABILITY to rely on Licking County’s current mode for any kind of scheduled/rescheduled appointments, job access or medical/disability necessities. Maps and statistics from the failed 2011 attempt’s researched studies showing the concentration of those who would benefit most from such access and the prime destination on the other side of town (or county) were trotted out. In addition, recently updated census statistics showing the area’s 21% poverty rate as well as over 50% ALICE “one step away from poverty” rate were cited. These in turn were reinforced by anecdotal evidence. Yes, Virginia, there is a great need for public transportation in Newark and Licking County. All the facts, reasoning and logic were plainly on display. Invisible was the Central Ohio business community. No one from Licking County/Newark’s large employers took an interest, showed up, or spoke up (out walking with a doc?). It was mentioned that they needed to be invited. Analysis finds this already to be an elitist class approach as a large crowd actually appeared without invitation, from contemporary postings and announcements re: the community meeting (no RSVP required). Their lack of presence appears to indicate that the large businesses in Central Ohio have no “need” for public transportation. But this is the irony of it all. Amazon gives it as a prime criteria for location of its projected 50,000 employee HQ. Several recent news reports show employers in Ohio reaching to Puerto Rico to enlist workers for jobs going unfilled (and paying their first 3 month’s housing, education, etc.). At a Newark Think Tank on Poverty meeting with Jay Hottinger, Mr. Hottinger initiated the conversation by stating his recent interaction with business leaders reveals that they can’t find employees to fill their job vacancies. Continuously we are told by our government “leaders” that there are jobs out there going unfilled. This was likewise borne out at the meeting itself by testimony from administrators of Licking County’s current system . Though budgeted to employ 45 drivers, they can only fill less than 35 positions. Their wish list is 60! Yes, Virginia, large businesses need people who can get to work. Analysis finds it indisputable that the “really clicking” central Ohio economy needs people who can show up to fill job offerings each and every day, reliably. Analysis likewise finds it appalling that these same “needy” businesses couldn’t be bothered to show up and take an interest in helping to create a solution.

Next meeting in 3 weeks, be there.

Alternative Facts Indeed!

January 25, 2017

Media world is all abuzz these days over “Alternative facts” with Amazon showing George Orwell’s 1984 shooting to number one in sales and many journalists (finally?) taking a stance and calling “alternative facts” just plain lies. Double speak or lies, facts don’t exist in a vacuum but are always found clustered with many of their friends and associates – namely context and environment. Analysis finds the following “tale of the tape” to exemplify the way facts change with regard to context: How many times has this blog quoted former president of Licking County Commissioners, Tim Bubb, as saying “We just can’t afford that.” One case of the “that” is public transportation, especially in the metro Newark area. 1-25-17 The Plain Dealer’s Ginger Christ headlines Public transit funding crucial in strengthening Ohio, report says. “In the report, Policy Matters, a nonprofit organization funded by foundations and community groups, points to the tax cuts made under Governor John Kasich as partially at the root of the state’s troubles in education, workforce, poverty and hunger.” “Ohio funds only 1 percent of public transportation in the state. Yet, the Ohio Department of Transportation’s Transit Needs Study said the state should provide 10 percent of transit’s funding.” Same day Jackie Borchardt of Cleveland.com headlines New scorecards show fiscal health of Ohio’s cities and counties, covering Ohio Auditor Dave Yost’s recently released report. Same day, same story only reported by AP in the Newark Advocate headlined State auditor report shows stressed Newark finances. “The auditor’s scorecard measured 17 “financial health indicators” for all 247 cities and 88 counties in Ohio. In each area, local governments were awarded a green, yellow or red mark to indicate a positive, cautionary or critical outlook, respectively, from data last collected in 2015.” (Borchardt) “Historical data indicates entities with at least six “critical” indicators or a combination of eight “critical” and “cautionary” indicators have ended up in a state of high fiscal stress, according to Yost. Newark had five cautionary indicators and two critical indicators for a total of seven.” (AP) Analysis looked at the database and found that Licking County was all green save for one category yellow – “for its ratio of debt service expenditures to total revenue.” (AP) Debt service is what is involved with long term loans or bonds, as in capital improvements. “”It’s an arbitrary set of standards they’ve applied to cities and counties,” Bubb said. “It’s just a number they pick. I take it as a good report for Licking County. I think it’s a compliment to us.”” (AP) 1-16-17 The Dayton Daily News’ Will Garbe and Laura A. Bischoff headlined RTA, other transit authorities could lose strike option Local lawmakers say RTA strike’s impacts shouldn’t be repeated and the state needs to take action. [RTA is Regional Transit Authority, akin to Licking County’s save it has fixed scheduled routes within Dayton, etc.] “Two state House Republicans intend to introduce legislation to prohibit Ohio’s public transit unions from starting strikes like the one suffered last week by the Greater Dayton RTA, the Dayton Daily News has learned. State Reps. Mike Henne and Jeff Rezabek — both Republicans from Clayton — intend to “introduce legislation requiring transit employee unions and local transit authorities to submit to binding community arbitration,” according to an internal Ohio House memo obtained by the newspaper.” Shades of Senate Bill 5! Some of the reasoning quoted by the Daily News is significant: ““I think we need to have a discussion around the best solution to make sure this can never happen again,” said Antani [State Rep. Niraj Antani, R-Miamisburg], who worked to bring the parties to the table on the eve of the strike. “Just like police and fire, the RTA is an essential service for these people trying to get to work and provide a livelihood to their families.”” “The memo from Henne illustrates the impact of strikes not only on riders, but “businesses and the local economy by preventing employees from getting to work and consumers from reaching their destinations.” “With police and fire, we do not allow them to strike and we require them to go to binding arbitration because they provide a service that cannot be interrupted,” Henne said in an interview. “My contention is the regional transit authorities have an economic value to the community that should not be interrupted.”” According to the database of Yost’s recent report, the city of Dayton is akin to Licking County – all green with one cautionary yellow. But Montgomery County, location of the RTA, is not, having three yellows, the rest green. Is public transportation “essential service”, vital to “businesses and the local economy” by getting employees to work and consumers to their destinations – “a service that cannot be interrupted”? If so, what does Commissioner Bubb base his refusal of Public Transportation priority on? Analysis finds that facts within context would indicate that Newark’s financial stress would be greatly relieved if the County Commissioners, who meet (and sit) in the county seat, would substantially invest in expanded and fixed schedule public transportation “an essential service for these people trying to get to work and provide a livelihood to their families.” Alternative facts indeed!

Biopolitics Laid Bare

August 13, 2016

Analysis often lists “hegemony” as a tag line for many of its posted essays. Within any conversation, discussion, or exchange of ideas, it is assumed that there will be more than one point of view. Hegemony doesn’t negate this outlook. What it does describe is that one point of view or outlook dominates the exchange by determining format, or prioritization of hierarchy, or the agenda of ideas. Some ideas will be energetically contested while others will be so marginalized as to never find voice. Currently, in Ohio, there is a very contested exchange of ideas over the nature of state sponsored (paid for) education. The state constitution mandates education as a required state concern. The current Department of Education was caught with its pants down regarding charter school oversight, especially in regard to online schooling. The State Auditor has been vocal in advocating for better control, “accounting”. Results range from new legislation “to give an accounting” all the way to Ecot (major online school) being required to account for when its students attended and what they received for this attendance, etc. The “to give an accounting” screw primarily turns on money spent (by the state) and what is received in return (much as a purchase at a big box store is defined). The intricacies of what is learned, how much it costs, and whether it is comparable with brick and mortar educational facilities is what complicates the online analysis (how “to give an accounting”). After all, there is no little teacher on the other end of an online educational program to teach math, history or Spanish. It is only soft ware, 1’s and 0’s. Yet the demand remains for determining (and verifying) a return on money spent per pupil in either pedagogy. What ties the discussion together, makes it possible, is the self righteous predetermination of “performance” as a basis to assess the return on investment. (starts to sound a lot like the marketing of stocks, doesn’t it?). Hegemony reveals itself when one questions the value or worth of the cost of a school nurse, the guidance counselor, individual sports coach, school social worker or psychologist. Just how does one (the legislature) factor in the return on investment via the outcome or “performance” of individual students for these disparate education contributors? The hegemony of the debate, the dominance of the financial mode for determining the benefits of public education, through whatever means, is clarified when one considers other forms of public sponsored or funded interaction akin to education. Public transportation readily comes to mind. Though Licking County’s response to the need of public transportation certainly continues the hegemony of financial return (with service very much established around this priority), large city fixed service mass transit elides this hegemony. Like public education, public transit is considered a given requirement. Yes, bus routes must have limits (starts and ends), and yes, certain frequencies must be established, and stops determined, but after that, there is no channeling of ridership as to who goes where, and how often. Subway systems and light rail are accessible for riders no matter what, unfettered by any requirement of justification for their efficacy. Another example would be public libraries which promote various, often disparate resources for use by any (and all) with few necessities of legitimation by the user. We’re not talking rules here, but giving an accounting for resource availability. The hegemony of performance with financial accountability at the heart of the public education debate is evidence of what theoreticians describe as biopolitics. Black Lives Matter is just one of many responses to the politics of authority, where a monarch, dictator or “police” authority rules through intimidation or overt power (might makes right). Most modern “democratic” states rely on other measures to insure that taxes get paid, the state is secure internally/externally, and that its citizens can live out their lives (raise families, pursue interests, care for themselves and loved ones, etc.). Differing from authoritarianism, biopolitics relies on the biological development of the individual, and hence the citizenry. Through various means, biopolitics determines a pool of soldiers, or medical practitioners, truck drivers and school teachers, etc. to avail itself for the good of the state. The current debate of performance based accounting for the efficacy of any state sponsored schooling reveals the working of biopolitics within the functioning of Ohio’s “real” governance. Although an American democracy where each should be able to determine their own path, the State of Ohio is determining resource allocation only on the basis of how it promotes the aspirations of the state (which currently are totally market driven). Unlike public libraries or public transportation, where the individual user can determine the actual use (or not) of the public resource, the hegemony of “performance” and financial return on educational spending determines the orientation and development of the biological individual public education is meant to serve. Education as a resource for the citizens of Ohio becomes education as a response to the demands of the market. This is biopolitics laid bare.