Posts Tagged ‘Monoculture’

The Newark News Authority

January 27, 2015

An amazing piece of writing appeared in the 1-25-15 Newark Advocate. The opening line reads:
“It’s time for Etna Township and Grow Licking County to sit down and find a way to avoid competing against each other for new jobs.”
Four lines from the end:
“We don’t need our own communities competing against each other on anything other than the benefits of one site over another.”
Just the day before, this same paper ran a news article by Kent Mallett entitled “Seraphinea’s is closing downtown location, Wild Things will expand”. In it Mr. Mallett gives Seraphinea’s owner saying: ““Everybody is always concerned when a new place opens, but competition is a good thing,” [Edward] Roberts said. “It brings more people.””
For small business owner and entrepreneur Edward Roberts, diversity is welcome and beneficial, “competition is a good thing”. For Gannett Corporation’s Newark Advocate, the only paper in town (the only one holding a megaphone), “We don’t need our communities competing against each other”. Monopolies are derisive of diversity. The “competition” of difference is perceived as a threat, not a benefit. But wait, there’s more. It is an amazing piece of writing!

The same day that Seraphinea’s move was reported by the same paper, the same reporter disclosed that “Trulite Glass to close Hebron plant in spring”. Grow Licking County’s Dan Ever’s earned his salary and removed the county’s sole CIC from any proximity with an alibi that it was only a calculated business decision (““It’s the result of an acquisition of the company,” Evers said. “The decision was made at the corporate level, completely about consolidation of assets, and no reflection on the men and women at that company.””). The following day’s amazing editorial reinforced that position, “It’s foolish to blame a CIC or anyone when projects land at one location or another.” When you’re the only game in town, you are privileged to take all the credit when convenient, and eschew any taint of blame. So much for the benefits of competition.

Analysis finds that this amazing piece of writing (“County only needs 1 CIC to attract jobs “ 1-25-15) effectively insinuates that the fine people of Etna township are incapable of governing themselves, of determining what is in their best interest, and how they wish to be identified, defined, represented, or promoted; all the provenance and raison d’etre of self-governance. This is astounding in itself when one recognizes that the amazing writing’s author gives proof of this through stating that “Grow Licking County successfully campaigned to block Etna’s plan to ask voters for a new development district allowing for new taxes on existing businesses and their employees.” But as though this was not reason enough for the residents of Etna township to consider alternatives, the amazing writing’s writer promotes unity under the Grow Licking County aegis. To rub pepper spray in the eyes of democracy’s participants, the editorial gives no alternative other than “supporting the countywide CIC fully both in funding and public support.” The writer then goes on to say “In Etna’s case, the development needs and opportunities are no different than in other areas of the county competing for new businesses.” Analysis, and any other reader, clearly discerns that if you pay to be part of Grow Licking County, you will be represented by the CIC even though the public/private partnership already receives very public funding from the county tax payers. According to The Advocate’s editorial board, this same CIC is to maintain a monopoly of no competition while fostering competition through upfront individual community payment (this blog previously pointed out such contributions by Heath, Pataskala, etc. in addition to what the Licking County Chamber of Commerce receives from the county itself). Folks not paying, or paying enough, aren’t playing. “We don’t need our own communities competing against each other on anything other than the benefits of one site over another.” (so please pay, won’t you?) So much for democracy with its self-governance.

Amazing, simply amazing piece of writing. After that, maybe Gannett Corporation’s Newark Advocate should change its name to The Newark News Authority. No need to look anywhere else!

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Newark Selfie

January 12, 2015

The New Year serves up not only cabbage and pork but also reheated leftovers in the form of government self-reflection. One such deep dish helping comes from Licking County Commissioner Tim Bubb with a guest column in the 1-11-15 Newark Advocate. This follows the more formal fare of Newark Mayor Jeff Hall’s Address to the City Council (as reported by Joe Williams for the Newark Advocate 1-6-15). One would think that the two would be roughly parallel if not at least complimentary, given that Newark is the county’s largest concentration of people. One would be wrong. For the most part the two assessments are quite dissimilar. Commissioner Bubb’s offering features a generous portion of Grow Licking County for whom he cooks, er, he is on the board. His recommendation is a full plate of commercial offerings, primarily western and southwestern style. “Jobs, Jobs, Jobs” are the repeated staple. The Mayor serves up the same old hash but now highlighting a name change. As a requisite liability disclaimer, he rues his franchise’s legislated income erasure from the city menu. To alleviate heartburn, both cooks promote a healthy dose of the new and improved security service. Ask for it under the MARCS logo. Though not a product of either’s individual kitchen, both chef’s offer the projected Canal Market District as 100% local. In fact, the independently funded and outside originated dream whip is the one and only unaccomplished accomplishment within Licking County’s population center receiving rave reviews from both leaders simultaneously.

Who benefits?

Analysis recommends beginning with the heartburn alleviation. MARCS (along with the LC Regional Communications Center) makes it easier to deploy police from any jurisdiction with lightning speed, a veritable blitzkrieg of efficiency. This is timely relief, coming none too soon given the upcoming people’s exercise of democracy in 2016. Of course, the prime beneficiaries of corporate industries, such as Ascena, Bocchi Labs, etc. are the owners and corporate executives themselves (both US and foreign) who ultimately profit from the plethora of locals primed and conditioned for precarious employment, the custom made and cost free infrastructure catering, property and income tax breaks, abatements, credits, etc. Even the Advocate’s connoisseur editorial board recommends such a diet mainstay though their palate is partial to a Thornwood Drive expenditure to accompany the main course of Cherry Valley Interchange. Analysis yields the Canal Market District special, featured by both leaders, as somewhat indigestible. Its benefit defies even continuous regurgitation. Could it be simply for the trophy case or museum of great ideas? Not. “Jobs, Jobs, Jobs”? Not. Housing development? Not. Feeding the 20% of children who are chronically undernourished? Not. Providing overflow for the dynamic downtown commercial center? Not. A future financial district? Not. Increased tax revenue for Newark? Not (unless there is a charge for use of the heirloom parking garage, originally phase one of this epic recipe). Analysis shows places like London (England), Las Vegas (Nevada), etc. have constructed giant Ferris wheels that function as landmark attractions, magnets announcing the city center as a “destination.” Analysis speculates this might be more compatible with the “Je ne sais quoi” ambience that the pre-existing giant basket office building on the edge of town exudes. Along with Commissioner Bubb and Mayor Hall, those on board could look down on the greater population of Newark, maybe even take a selfie with the city’s people in the background!

Come Back To Us Barbara Lewis Hare Krishna Beauregard

March 8, 2013

The Newark Meijer is set to close in May. Thursday one of the employees was out near the entrance trying to fill a large pothole with a shovel and cold patch asphalt from a bag. Layoffs begin tomorrow. The north 21st Street neighborhood is occupied by three other supermarkets – Aldi, Kroger and Walmart. The present Connell’s/Ollie’s/etc. building further north once housed a Columbus based food retailer named Big Bear. That location was their attempt at a hypermarket (Harts and Big Bear under one roof), something the Michigan based Meijer pioneered and mastered. Big Bear also had stores in Heath at Southgate and downtown Newark (now Lil Bear). Big Bear folded taking down all its retailers. Giant Eagle, out of Pennsylvania, swept in revitalizing many of the supermarkets, including the Southgate store but not the 21st St. one. That location remained essentially neglected and vacant. It has only recently recovered full tenancy after extensive renovation. Going way back in the “way back machine” one finds a large strip mall at the southwest corner of Mt Vernon Rd. and Deo drive. It housed, among other things, a Kroger, Plaza Hardware, and even a Cinema. On north 21st St. was a discount retailer named Twin Fair. To get a feel for what a shopping experience was like there and then, visit LS Sales in Lancaster. The west side of 21st St south of Goosepond was a vast, unintentional wetlands – monoculture farming when it was dry, enormous amounts of ducks, geese, and amphibians when it was wet (this time of year). Indian Valley Plaza was built with Kroger committing as an anchor tenant. Plaza Hardware moved to where the new Mt. Vernon Rd. Goodwill outlet will soon open. Eventually the strip mall left behind sat empty and deteriorating for the longest time until finally being demolished. Meijer bought out Twin Fair and turned what was, at that time, a relatively new building into a hypermarket. This was quite exceptional for Meijer. Like Aldi, Meijer builds new, always promoting a consistent brand identity through its architecture. Arkansas based Walmart decided geese, ducks, and frogs look better on fabric and as lawn ornaments so they put up a parking lot. Aldi was the last to move in. Altogether, 48,000 residents can, within Newark itself, bring home the groceries from 3 large hypermarkets and one “efficiency” model supermarket on the north end of town, and one smaller store downtown. In addition, a smattering of small grocery stores throughout the other neighborhoods enables those without transportation to do likewise. Outside the city proper are the 4 large retailers (and Aldi) in Heath with Giant Eagle being the closest. For those wanting to leave an even larger carbon footprint, there is always the Aldi owned Trader Joes, etc. miles away (but “only minutes away” via the new freeways).

Walmart sits on 22 acres, is the largest retailer and the third largest corporation in the world. It offers banking services and green groceries. According to Wiki, “in 2009, it generated 51 percent of its $258 billion sales in the U.S. from grocery business.” It is a publicly traded company with just under half the shares owned by the managing Walton family. It actively resists any representation or organization by its employees. It is the biggest private employer in the world. Cincinnati based Kroger is one tenant of the Indian Valley Plaza that displaces 16 acres. It is a publicly traded company, the largest grocery chain and 2nd largest retailer in the US, and the 4th largest retailer in the world. Its employees are organized and represented by the UFCW (United Food and Commercial Workers). Recently it has posted higher than expected earnings in the 4th quarter of 2012. It has shown continuous growth for the past 37 consecutive quarters. Meijer is a private family owned and run corporation. The 21st St. location owns approximately 16 acres. The company was the first to offer self-service and shopping carts. It originated the super center hypermarket. It consistently ranks in the top 20 grocery retailers in the US. Giant Eagle is likewise privately held. In 2012 it ranked 21st among American Food Retailers. The employees in a limited number of its stores are organized and represented. Aldi is a private German discount supermarket chain. It predominantly offers a single label product line (store brand) with minimum labor being required to multi task at multiple positions. The owner of the branch of Aldi that is in America is the richest man in Germany having a worth of 17.2 billion Euros. The two co-owners (his relatives) of the branch that owns Trader Joes do not lag far behind with 16 billion.

Food in Newark. Surrounded by intensive monoculture industrial style farming that results mostly in inedible grain, Newark gets the vast majority of its food from outside, from companies likewise located outside. It is all trucked in, and all the retailers tout it as “the freshest available”. The monoculture farming surrounding Newark produces a harvest that can be used as food, or feed for animals utilized as food, or for ethanol to fuel the vehicles that get most of the residents to the food that they eventually put on their table, or to make the plastics within which they will carry that food through their entry door (most hypermarkets provide outlets for vehicle fuel). The produce of this industrial form of agriculture becomes comparable to steel, plastic resin, wood or bolts of fabric, a “raw material”. It can be “processed” into an entire array of things. One almost wonders whether someone like McDonalds won’t utilize it with 3D printers. As a commodity, it is the perfect stuff of corporate retailing. The Meijer store mirrors American juris prudence. The property owner can receive the benefits of incentives to locate and “improve” a parcel while bearing no responsibility for its demise, ultimately even benefiting in the end by having public funds used to demolish the discarded resource. Newark is uniquely positioned to illustrate this whereby corporate entities, “existing only in contemplation of the law”, receive all the benefits and rights of personhood, without any of the responsibilities. When the neglected shell of an enormous building or shopping plaza sits abandoned and deteriorating surrounded by a crumbling parking lot, it is only the “real” persons, the alive residents, who must negotiate its shabbiness and tolerate its aridity. Time passes and the resource is either redeveloped not as intended, or destroyed and left vacant. What Meijer discards could be the North 21st St. Market, ala’ the Columbus North Market (and other such “under one roof” diverse food retail centers). The monoculture thinking of the hypermarket with its international importation of processed food would receive very real and genuine competition. A single location under one roof would offer a diversity of food and locally produced retail products from equally diverse origins. Produce from area hoop houses, truck farms as well as from Amish biodiversity agriculture, all within close proximity to Newark, would really be “the freshest available” (Amish buggies often were spotted outside Meijer). Einstein is reported to have said that you cannot solve the problems you face through the same mindset that caused those problems. Diversity – something to consider.

“For if heartaches were commercials, we’d all be on TV”

John Prine

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