Posts Tagged ‘Longaberger Basket Building’

New Life For An Old Structure (Again)

January 15, 2021

[With the breaking of the latest news by the Newark Advocate’s Kent Mallett (Longaberger basket building won’t become hotel, on market for $6.5 million, 1-15-21) Analysis chose to rerun this oldie (but goodie) from 4 years ago (2-12-17). For those of you keeping score at home, this line from Mallett’s recent reporting is most telling: “The best use for the building will be its original purpose as office space, which will not require much interior work, [Brandon] Hess said. The remodeling to convert into a hotel had not begun, he said.”]

Remember the basket building at the edge of town? Of course you do. Commuters driving by rubber neck daily for signs of decline, never admitting any morbid interest, but looking just the same. After a visit to the place by “business leaders”, and an assessment of futures value by Cheri Hottinger of what a great place it is (would make a terrific office of tourism), nothing else has been heard. But the tax bill increases, even as the City of Newark elides taking responsibility (or ownership). How about turning it into a state wide immigration reception and processing center? The Ellis Island of Ohio, right here in the heart of the heartland, downtown, er, town’s edge Newark! Think of the jobs it would create with the various state and federal agencies dealing with immigration, the requisite housing for new arrivals in a controlled centralized location, as well as the conference facilities for immigration related events, maybe even a living immigration museum, telling the story of where it all began (for some) (for most). The tour busses would return! A tourism center? Fuggetaboutit. Besides, immigration and the big basket share a lot in common. Cincy may have an underground railroad museum, but the interdependent story of African Americans and Euro Americans is not that of the immigrant. As Hegel pointed out, the master/slave relationship is a weird dialectic of power, need and reliance, both spoken and unspoken. The story of the immigrant, like that of the basket building, is one of uselessness, not being needed or wanted, being totally powerless (Will the building eventually disappear? Will the immigrant do likewise?). The alien architecture of the basket building is not located amongst the church spires and bank buildings of downtown Newark. Rather, like the alien immigrant, it is relegated to a specially annexed borderland of the city, out of sight, out of mind. The only company this alien construct has is the long distance relationship with the giant chair across the road. The immigrant shares a similar heritage with the building that bears the Longaberger nameplate hearkening an inspirational past of thriving and belonging, one that is forever lost, never to be revisited or regained. Ever present mourning, nostalgia and angst is an integral part of the immigrant life; something experienced only occasionally by Heisey, or Longaberger enthusiasts. The entire work ethic and skill that spawned the immigrant and the basket building is still looked upon with skepticism and suspicion in today’s America. Hand making baskets is akin to speaking another language. Unlike the basket building, most immigrants do not stay useless for long (or all arrive useless for that matter). Like Arnold Schwarzenegger, or Rupert Murdoch, most quickly assimilate into the conservative mainstream. But that’s a whole other story, one that the current administration might do well to consider (City, County, State, as well as Federal). So call your city council representative, the mayor, and county commissioners to tell them Newark needs immigrants. Better yet, call the folks with their hand on the handles of the basket building, Cheri or her husband, and tell them Newark needs an immigration reception and processing center. Like them, most immigrants come with one or both hands gripping the handles of their belongings. And the basket building even has those. What better place than the vacant basket building? What could be more perfect?

Something For Something

November 1, 2019

How many readers have been to Walmart to buy something? It’s a simple operation, all too natural. One picks out the desired something, generic or brand name, goes to the check out, pays for it and walks out. End of conversation. Indeed, it can be done entirely with no conversation whatsoever. Using the self serve to scan the something, insert a plastic something and , Voila! One walks out the door, something in hand. Quid Pro Quo? Has the reader ever thought to call it that? But there was no conversation. According to the SCOTUS there was a conversation, though not a verbal word was spoken at the self serve check out. Money is speech, according to the Citizens United ruling. The plastic said “this for that” and the Walmart automated check out said “This for that, indeed!” Deed done. Who’d a thunk it? Like the caterpillar who couldn’t move when he was asked how he does it, it’s all so natural that it doesn’t cause any hang ups until attention is paid to the act itself. No quid pro quo in the exchange of money for service? No conversation if it is money that is being exchanged? ““Our intention is to make this a hotel and we’ve just got to make the numbers work,” he [Steve Coon with Coon Restorations] said. “It’s a heavy lift, but it’s a great project to spend the time on to make happen.” Coon says right now there is no price tag on the project, but he and his partners will be going after state and federal tax breaks as well as grants.” (Bryan Somerville, WBNS,10-21-19). Who’s talking? What are they saying? Quid Pro Quo? “Get over it. We do it all the time” (Mick Mulvaney). “Mayor Jeff Hall said the use of the building continues the Longaberger legacy. “It’s about a building that deserves the respect.,” Hall said. “A hotel is a perfect fit because it’s open to the public. Dave Longaberger would be happy with that. It’s the right people and the right property. These guys are not in the business of losing money.”” (Kent Mallett, The Advocate, 10-21-19). Speaking of money, and buildings: “”When you have a community our size, you can’t bring up the whole community at once,” Hall said. “You can’t fix every aspect of it. 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. So, that’s the next step. “I think we’re moving in the right direction to keep that economic growth moving. It’s not easy. When we talk to employers they want to see nice downtowns, they want to see unique things to be considered for the short list for them to consider moving their company here.”” (Mallett, The Advocate, 10-11-19) ““Every once in awhile I’ve got to tell council members it’s all great ideas, but I got to pay the bills,” Hall said. “I appreciate Mr. Blake’s thoughts and surely understand all those conditions, but how are you going to do it? That’s something critical because it takes dollars. We have to deal with the money we have. Ideas are wonderful, but you’ve got to fund ideas. “I’d like to have a busing service, a fixed-route busing service. Can’t afford it. There are things you can’t afford. You reach a balanced budget by saying no to things.”” “Hall said the new fire station to be built on Sharon Valley Road is essential to reduce the slow response times in that area of the city, which has continued to grow. “That whole area has changed in 20 years, so as a result fire response needs to change,” Hall said. “Finding the location for a fire station is tough. If your house is on fire, you’d love for it next door to you. Every other day of the year, you don’t want it next door.”” “Hall said, “We have metrics and the metrics help make the (fire) decisions. That (East End) station out there was built when the Longaberger Basket had 500 employees. It does not anymore. We looked at need and run data. Nothing has suffered out there because of that station being re-used for another purpose.”” (Mallett, The Advocate, 10-20-19) “Incumbent Mayor Jeff Hall not only outspent his general election opponent, City Councilman Jeremy Blake, but the mayor had a large advantage in cash remaining for the final weeks of the campaign.” “Hall received donations from many of the business leaders in the area, as well as fellow Republican politicians. The mayor said it’s nice to have the support of the business community. “They say they believe in you and your results,” Hall said. “Certainly, we have had a plan for economic development. That’s something prior administrations didn’t necessarily have. It’s something that’s good for the community to be economically stable, so you don’t have to tax everyone.” Of the mayor’s 141 contributions, seven were at least $500, including: $1,200 from Realtors Political Action, of Columbus; $1,000 from Steven Hitchens, of Newark; $1,000 from Sean Weekley, of Newark; $500 each from Licking County Republican Boosters, Carol DuVal, of Heath, James Matesich, of Granville, and Duke Frost, of Newark.” (Mallett, The Advocate, 10-28-19). Analysis finds it curious that the major “issue” in the verbal conversation regarding the future mayor of Newark has centered on the projected Sharon Valley fire station. The incumbent (Jeff, “It’s about a building that deserves the respect.” Hall) is all in on the capital (building) expenditure without regard to the staffing (people employed) while the challenger (Jeremy Blake) is concerned with staffing concerns as a priority. A Google map shows the urgency of the “issue”: prime land to be developed residential just south of Log Pond Run, with an anticipated road extension from Baker Blvd. to the Evans athletic complex. Residential development is contingent on insurance underwriting which in turn is determined by, you guessed it, available fire service. The fly in the ointment for Newark’s future mayor is Le Hotel Baskeet that likewise will require insurance underwriting (“to make the numbers work”) which in turn will find a nearby defunct fire station on the east end. Newark extends northward to the Trout Club (and beyond), making closing the Hollander Street fire station untenable. Analysis shows having the “verbal” conversation of staffing capital (building) expenditure is a much more materially effective approach to the growing and changing community’s needs than the traditional “quid pro quo” money speech of Citizens United. Oh, and by the way, “Quid Pro Quo” is “something for something” in Latin.

 

 

 

 

2018

January 1, 2018

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

Unedited

April 4, 2017

Analysis goes short. The Abra Cadabra of headline juxtaposition on the front page of the 4-4-17 Newark Advocate was irresistible. The large cap “Kasich, Others Tout New Amazon Center” directly over the smaller cap “Licking Co. files foreclosure on Longaberger Basket” invites “Now you see it. Now you don’t.” Meanwhile, back at the ranch, the Advocate’s new editor came out this past week. No big surprise in that it was the interim news editor, Ben Lanka. He even took the time to pen a personal column to introduce himself. Unnoticed (or should we say Un-edited) was the disappearance of the editorial/opinion section from the everyday, week day paper. Great for Gannett’s bottom line. Terrible for Newark’s readers’ need to know (you know, “Inquiring minds” and all). Gone are divergent points of view columns. Also the editorial cartoons (another reason for why “editorial cartoonist” has vanished from high school career day). And finally, absent and forever gone is the editorial itself, once a point of pride for most publications, expressive of the local news outlet’s leadership role in the community. But hey, Newark now has a new editor for its paper. As he puts it, “I’ve always believed as a journalist my most important role is to give a voice to the voiceless and to hold those in power accountable.” Analysis indicates that, without an everyday editorial/opinion page, this has the potential of being more magical than Penn and Teller!

New Life For An Old Structure

February 12, 2017

Remember the basket building at the edge of town? Of course you do. Commuters driving by rubber neck daily for signs of decline, never admitting any morbid interest, but looking just the same. After a visit to the place by “business leaders”, and an assessment of futures value by Cheri Hottinger of what a great place it is (would make a terrific office of tourism), nothing else has been heard. But the tax bill increases, even as the City of Newark elides taking responsibility (or ownership). How about turning it into a state wide immigration reception and processing center? The Ellis Island of Ohio, right here in the heart of the heartland, downtown, er, town’s edge Newark! Think of the jobs it would create with the various state and federal agencies dealing with immigration, the requisite housing for new arrivals in a controlled centralized location, as well as the conference facilities for immigration related events, maybe even a living immigration museum, telling the story of where it all began (for some) (for most). The tour busses would return! A tourism center? Fuggetaboutit. Besides, immigration and the big basket share a lot in common. Cincy may have an underground railroad museum, but the interdependent story of African Americans and Euro Americans is not that of the immigrant. As Hegel pointed out, the master/slave relationship is a weird dialectic of power, need and reliance, both spoken and unspoken. The story of the immigrant, like that of the basket building, is one of uselessness, not being needed or wanted, being totally powerless (Will the building eventually disappear? Will the immigrant do likewise?). The alien architecture of the basket building is not located amongst the church spires and bank buildings of downtown Newark. Rather, like the alien immigrant, it is relegated to a specially annexed borderland of the city, out of sight, out of mind. The only company this alien construct has is the long distance relationship with the giant chair across the road. The immigrant shares a similar heritage with the building that bears the Longaberger nameplate hearkening an inspirational past of thriving and belonging, one that is forever lost, never to be revisited or regained. Ever present mourning, nostalgia and angst is an integral part of the immigrant life; something experienced only occasionally by Heisey, or Longaberger enthusiasts. The entire work ethic and skill that spawned the immigrant and the basket building is still looked upon with skepticism and suspicion in today’s America. Hand making baskets is akin to speaking another language. Unlike the basket building, most immigrants do not stay useless for long (or all arrive useless for that matter). Like Arnold Schwarzenegger, or Rupert Murdoch, most quickly assimilate into the conservative mainstream. But that’s a whole other story, one that the current administration might do well to consider (City, County, State, as well as Federal). So call your city council representative, the mayor, and county commissioners to tell them Newark needs immigrants. Better yet, call the folks with their hand on the handles of the basket building, Cheri or her husband, and tell them Newark needs an immigration reception and processing center. Like them, most immigrants come with one or both hands gripping the handles of their belongings. And the basket building even has those. What better place than the vacant basket building? What could be more perfect?

We’re Dealin’

November 27, 2016

Political leaders are a lot like materializations of Hollywood aliens from space. In the run up to the election, they are all emphatic about how they will “fight for you”, “be your voice”, “serve your interests”, etc. Win or lose, after the election they disappear, as if beamed back up to the mother ship. 11-26-16 The Newark Advocate’s Maria DeVito headlines “Newark closes east end fire station for office space”. The article relied almost entirely on the announcement made by the Newark fire chief. In most cities the size of Newark such a statement would be made by the mayor. Analysis surmises the mayor must still be recuperating from his recent cage rumble regarding the city income tax increase. Ebulliently fighting for the interests and safety concerns of Newark’s residents can be, well, rather taxing. Maybe he lost his voice. Without a voice, how can one ever be expected to be the “voice” for the city’s residents (without a voice) affected by the closure? (Whew!) Analysis reveals the uncanny between DeVito’s report and the campaign claims of the defeated income tax increase. “Connor said the department has had 16 firefighters on duty a day most of the time this year, but for a large portion of the year, it has only had 14 firefighters a day.” Hmmm.?!! Careful Analysis finds “most of the time this year” and “a large portion of the year” to be synonymous – they mean one and the same thing! Then again, originally the income tax increase was to have “most of the” revenue dedicated to street paving and upgrades. Over the course of the year this morphed into “a large portion” going to paving along with police and fire. Just words, you say? Or perhaps this is just the deal making of brand marketing we’re all so familiar with? The label reassures that there are 16 (or “most” of the money will go to street paving) while the package only contains 14 (along with police and fire). The old, soon-to-go-into-foreclosure, multi story office space just down the road from the newly repurposed “fire station for office space” will eventually become public property (public office space?). Like “most” and “large portion” the word “public” is embraced by both the state and county, along with the city. Which “public” will our political leaders be fighting for? If the private building were presently occupied and handled as commercial business offices (pun intended), do you think the east end station would be closed? Even with DeVito’s reported lower percentage of fire and emergency runs, Analysis shows this would not be the case. Insurance actuaries use proximity to fire protection as a basis for determining risk and premium costs. This was the grounds of residential concern for Madison Township’s ending service, as well as for why large private manufacturing facilities (like Owens) often have their own first responders. Would our political leaders stand by idly while a private commercial enterprise burned through revenue, paying higher insurance premiums? Like the joint reaction to ignore Newark electors’ change to the city’s marijuana law (no pun intended), the closing of the east end fire station is another unfolding of “our guy won, deal with it”; the “our guy won” being the political party in charge at the local, state, and national level while the “deal with it” is a kind of pep talk for how we need to come together as a city, state, and nation (you know, “stiff upper lip” and all. Cheerio). As “our guy” was elected on the grounds of his attributed deal making prowess, thoughtful Analysis discerns we’ll be seeing a lot more “deals” in the days to come.

Marketing A Tax

July 28, 2016

Generally, once a month the Newark Advocate business section highlights local marketing guru’s by offering them their own full length columns. This is not to be confused with the regular “ace of trades” or local flavors reporting. No, the marketing pros “sell” Licking County and Newark with glowing reports on Grow Licking County’s success, or the Port Authority’s recent acquisitions (and projected plans) or how marvelous the redevelopment of downtown business is going. No problem. Analysis wonders whether these same marketing whiz bangs will devote their freely given column space to marketing Newark’s income tax increase. Not only that, but how will they market it? Johnstown has announced an anticipated income tax increase on the upcoming ballot which will double their current rate. Their tax increase marketing centers on growth. The town is projected to be a city after the 2020 census. All that growth requires a lot of municipal expense with increased demands on infrastructure, security services, etc. Driving through town the rapid change is evidenced primarily by the mushrooming of new residential housing, not downtown business expansion or industry. Unlike Newark, which is connected to Ohio’s major freeways through immediate access 4 lane highways (79 and 16), Johnstown has none. It is located at the intersection of two lane 37 and 62. Yet it has a very vibrant industrial park and manufacturing sector. Their tax increase marketing appears to target the all too obvious residential housing boom, not the commuting workers. Upper Arlington, surrounded by Columbus, is embroiled in a nasty recall over its recently passed income tax increase. Four council members who marketed the increase face removal over how the money was ultimately spent. Like Newark, the tax revenue was to go for infrastructure maintenance and improvement. The money was spent on redeveloping an old (and much loved) park so part of the park property could be commercially developed. The council members involved claim that was part of the marketing. Those who initiated the recall claim it was not included with the income tax sales pitch. How will Newark’s council and mayor market the upcoming tax increase on the ballot? With half of Newark’s council totally not on board and half facing the scrutiny that befell Upper Arlington’s public representatives, this is not an idle concern. Past expenditure of Newark’s ostensibly earmarked revenues for other projects benefiting the business interests which populate the business section of the Advocate are easily referenced, whether they be tearing down a deadbeat landlord’s building to provide additional municipal parking, prioritizing business street paving, or a back door purchase of a basket building. Analysis finds that overcoming the skepticism generated by the precedent of such past performance needs to be central for any Newark “vote yes” campaign. After all, what if the revenues generated by the tax were used to “save” the basket building? If it was, would anyone mount a recall? Marketing a tax, it’s best left to the pros.

Super Hero Welcome

April 3, 2016

Hot on the heels of disclosure that the indefatigable presidential candidate and never resting current Ohio Governor intends to require Medicaid recipients to hand over a monthly premium for the ACA empowered program or receive no health care, AND news of Newark’s own congressional representative’s aggressive drive to further cut Job and Family Services’ funding (in tandem with his tag-team partner, the hardest working presidential wannabe in America) Analysis uncovers “The controversial reason tens of thousands of people just lost their food stamps” by Max Ehrenfreund and Roberto A. Ferdman of the Washington Post’s Wonkblog, 4-1-16. During the Dot Com era of affluence (when the internet promised to be whatever its users wanted it to be) the postal worker’s son passed “welfare to work” legislation that is still in effect 20 years later (post 9/11, post the son’s own former employer- Lehman Bro’s – going belly up, post globalization and great recession). “Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R), who helped author the work requirement as a congressman in 1996, is among the conservative politicians arguing that able-bodied adults should not receive SNAP benefits if they are not working. At the end of 2013, Kasich decided not to request an extension of the statewide waiver of the work mandate, enforcing the rule in all but the most economically depressed, rural counties in Ohio. A spokesman for Kasich, a candidate for the Republican presidential nomination, said the reinstatement of the requirement would prod people to seek work in the improving economy.” Later they write “”Making people hungrier isn’t going to make them find work faster,” said Rebecca Vallas, managing director of the Poverty to Prosperity Program at the Center for American Progress, a left-leaning think tank. “One of the most helpful things for someone looking for work is helping them not worry about putting food on the table.”” Speaking of food, Analysis finds the preemptive planning and projection of the tattered Longaberger Basket case as a visitors welcome center by Newark’s Super Heroes ““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” to be irresistible (see previous post Is Everyone Unhappy?). After the county crusader’s unscripted dismay at cuts to Job and Family Services funding (“It’s just a (federal) line item, a drop in the bucket,” previous post Where’s The Crime In All This?), the Bubbman ultimately demurred, then deferred to Captive America Tiberi’s superior priority (““Maybe it’s not as effectively used elsewhere. I have no idea. For Pat Tiberi, it’s not just a Licking County question, it’s a United States question. I’m not going to be critical of Pat.”” The Newark Advocate, Flexibility of abuse grant attacked, praised by Kent Mallett, 3-29-16. Analysis recommends Better Living Through Criticism by A. O. Scott). Analysis finds more Donnie than Ted in the projected use of the failed public private partnership being “saved” by the continued infusion of “hard working [Newark} Americans’ tax dollars” (Captive America’s 3-27-16 guest column). This vampire embrace by the private parts of this failed public/private partnership producing a visitors welcome center while cutting off aid for non-voting youth and under employed/unemployed adults perfectly reflects the oligarchic Super Hero approach to self-governing democracy. The public part of the partnership must pony up while the private parts will only perform if paid (evidenced by one of the super heroes’ downtown historic school apartment project not proceeding without the guarantee of tax credit welfare checks). A giant market basket of commercial bounty made possible by the unseen working poor that rely on (equally) unseen food banks for their children and themselves is an accurate architecture for a Super Hero welcome.

Just Say No

April 26, 2015

This all would be so funny if it didn’t hurt so many folks. No, not the fact that the city of Newark (and surrounds) is subsidizing the financial avarice of the Longaberger name. Remember what Dan Moder, executive of the Licking County Convention and Visitors Bureau, said back in October of 2013? Of course you do. In case that memory chip is acting up again how ‘bout: ““There is something to be said for brand recognition. People recognize it. They trust it. They believe in it.”” (“The More Things Change, The More They Remain The Same”. Kent Mallett reports Downtown Hotel May Become Double Tree (The Advocate 10-2-13). Now (4-25-15) Kent reports on the city that has never met a developer that it didn’t like . “The company is $250,000 behind on its tax increment financing payments to the city of Newark and Licking Valley School District and would be $350,000 behind by the end of 2015 without any payments, Licking County Auditor Mike Smith said. Overall, the company’s TIF payments to the city are $2 million shy of projections made in 1999 because of the late payments and a 2007 reappraisal that lowered the basket’s value. The city borrowed $3.2 million to make road and utility improvements on East Main Street and Dayton Road for the Longaberger development. The city has paid $6.8 million, including interest, but received just $4.1 million from Longaberger” (Longaberger struggles become city’s debt Kent Mallett, Newark Advocate April 25, 2015). “There is something to be said for brand recognition. People recognize it. They trust it. They believe in it.” With so many true believers maybe the big basket will become a church. The First (but not last) Evangelical Church Of The Gospel Of Endless Prosperity. “Get a handle on your unhinged life of trouble and toil!”

Back in July of 2014 Analysis composed a blog posting (Game Of Thrones) reflecting on the demise of The Trump Plaza, Atlantic Club, Showboat and Revel casinos in Atlantic City New Jersey (something Chris Christie doesn’t speak much about). Analysis revealed “Visions of the second quirkiest landmark building in the US being vacant due to foreclosure do not make for savory Newark tourism. Would it still be on the charter bus itinerary?” (Well? Would it?). In the aforementioned 4-25-15 front page article Mallett quotes Mayor Hall as saying “But is (foreclosure) a solution?” (would the tour busses still stop?) A little later he writes “The city received $25,587 in tax increment financing payments in 2014. The 1999 projections were for the company to pay $364,587 annually for city infrastructure improvements to the area. The valuation of the property was cut in half in 2007, making its obligations about $170,00 annually. Russell Mack, a board member of Longaberger parent company CVSL, said the company has no plans to sell the basket building and challenges its tax bill. “Property values in the area have fallen over the years,” Mack wrote in an email response. “We are working with our real estate advisers, and we are disputing the assessed taxable value of the Big Basket building.”” Wait until foreclosure and the assessed taxable value will be even less. Better yet Mr. Mack, wait long enough and the city will use state home owners’ mortgage settlement funds to tear it down. (many “too big to fail” casino’s have been demolished in Las Vegas as well as Atlantic City). But would the tour busses come for the grand implosion?

That same month in 2014 we find this in the Newark Advocate: “Transit Board may cut Sunday service: Director says money being lost with few people riding Jul. 10, 2014 by Emily Maddern ““We’re just trying to find a way to survive and not go broke,” he [Licking County Transit Board Director and County Commissioner Tim Bubb] said. “It’s unfortunate, but it doesn’t do any good if you have to go into the red and shut it down.”” Of course it doesn’t. The city (and county) have met plenty of developments they didn’t like. One was that of making an investment in a fixed schedule public bus line instead of in a multi story Medium Market Basket. The payoff by now would be the residents of Newark being able to access jobs outlying as well as purchase in town homes or remodel existing ones from the savings of taking the bus. Public Transit certainly would be a development (or at least most cities see it that way). Or perhaps investing in affordable housing in town. Ditto same paybacks without having to fund private developer hysterical tax credits, etc. The Medium Market Basket comedy, in a city that won’t even have a weekly Farm Market this year with which to fill anyone’s basket, reveals a tragic romance (at best): spurning mundane public development for the unrestrained lusting and pursuit of a private developer. A city that has never met a developer it didn’t like. Someone once promoted a campaign of “Just say no!”