Posts Tagged ‘Newark City Council’

El SID And The Poppies

June 1, 2017

The current imbroglio obsessing Newark’s City Council is the future of marijuana in Nerk (whatever became of affordable housing? public transportation? drug addiction rehabilitation? Let alone street paving?). After dissing the local voters’ initiative to “decriminalize” its possession, the council now must wrestle with what to do with a medical legalization of this substance by the legislature (meant, at the time, to stave off a statewide citizen’s initiative). Having hemmed and hawed as long as they could, the good folks in the state’s executive branch need to finally implement the medical marijuana legalization. Ditto for Newark’s City administration. Analysis has already posted about the head slapping irony of citizens wanting something, voting for it (going through the democratic process of self governance) only to find their elected officials deciding something else is in the constituents’ best interest (another episode of Father Knows Best). Stealthily lurking behind all this is the gentrification of downtown Newark. This ongoing epic saga has unfolded over the past 10 years with nary a citizen vote. Conservative blame was needed as “conservative” by definition means “disposed to preserve existing conditions, institutions, etc. or to restore traditional ones, and to limit change” (none of which are found with roundabouts or a covered, block long outdoor entertainment loading dock). That nasty old federal EPA fit the bill marvelously, serving as a catalyst for all this “Federally mandated” change (kinda like “America First” being “printed in China”). So downtown Newark was, by hook or crook, going to be changed, gentrified. No one would vote on it. Everyone (who didn’t get to vote) would pay for it. The latest is the SID (Special Improvement District). This is a plan or rather, a gentrification technique whereby “property owners would pay 7.5 percent of the tax rate applied to the 2016 real property taxable value, providing the district about $110,000 annually. The assessment would first appear on their 2018 property tax bill. The tax would last five years, but could be renewed for an additional five years.” “Property owners must petition city council to create the district. The petition must be signed by the owners of 60 percent of the frontage feet along public rights of way in the district, or 75 percent of the square footage of real property in the district.” (Downtown property owners asked to join new taxing district, The Newark Advocate, Kent Mallett , 5-22-17) “The goal is to use property tax assessments from those within the district to pay for services such as parking maintenance, safety and security, litter control, graffiti removal, visitor ambassadors, special projects and marketing.” One of this blog’s first entries was in March of 2013, Ownership Of Downtown Newark. That research covered the area of this Newark SID. It revealed that close to 24% of the “property owners” within the area were either government entities or religious ones (neither of which would be assessed). At that time Park National Bank owned nearly 10% of all this area property (banks in total about 13%). Which leaves less than two thirds of the property owners to pay the SID. Why is a SID an integral part of gentrification? To increase property values (for the non voting property owners of the district – in 2013 Analysis also found that of the remaining not government, religious, or bank property owners, few were individually named, most were corporate legal entities) rents need to be higher across the board (like the neglected house on the block determining neighborhood value). A SID does specifically that. As a tax, it increases the property owner’s costs which in turn increases the operating expense for any business located there. Marginally profitable businesses will exit as they did prior to the large scale construction of downtown several years ago. Ditto for any other renters (i.e. residential tenants). Upscale enterprises (with capital backing) move in and, Voila! The SID has functioned perfectly as planned. In the meantime Newark’s City Council will wrestle with the tsunami of legalized marijuana while this disenfranchised mandate will pass like shit through a duck.

Who Are The Thousands Of Ohioans Using Marijuana?

February 28, 2017

Cleveland.com just headlined “Who are the 700,000 Ohioans receiving health insurance under Medicaid expansion?” by Rich Exner (2-28-17). It is an insightful synopsis of a state report by the Department of Medicaid for the Ohio General Assembly. Along with the requisite statistics, like “Among the 702,000 added to Medicaid: 43.2 percent were employed. 55.8 percent were men. 71.5 percent were white; 24.8 percent were black. 13.1 percent had at least a four-year college degree. 15.7 percent were married.” there was something that jumped out. “Before [Medicaid expansion in 2014]: Until the change, Medicaid was generally restricted to adults with income of less than 90 percent of the poverty level and only if they were also a parent, pregnant or disabled. After: Medicaid coverage was expanded to Ohioans age 19 to 64 with incomes at or below 138 percent of the poverty level. The threshold for a single person in 2016 was $16,394. The state reported 702,000 people were insured as a result of the expansion.” In this post Analysis would like to make use of a term entitled “the blue laws”. Wiki gives “Blue laws, also known as Sunday laws, are laws designed to restrict or ban some or all Sunday activities for religious reasons, particularly to promote the observance of a day of worship or rest. Blue laws may also restrict shopping or ban sale of certain items on specific days, most often on Sundays in the western world.” The day before Cleveland.com reported the statistics packed Medicaid report, the AP reported “Sessions: More violence around pot than ‘one would think’” by Sadie Gurman and Eric Tucker (2-27-17). In line with White House methodology on immigration and refugees, voter fraud, etc. the article states “”Experts are telling me there’s more violence around marijuana than one would think,” Sessions said. The comments were in keeping with remarks last week from White House spokesman Sean Spicer, who said the Justice Department would step up enforcement of federal law against recreational marijuana. Sessions stopped short of saying what he would do, but said he doesn’t think America will be a better place with “more people smoking pot.”” Before his confirmation hearings to become the US Attorney General, Jeff Sessions views were well known (as indicated in a previous blog posting). Upriver of that, before the November elections, the Ohio General Assembly staved off citizen’s initiatives by legalizing medical marijuana. In the same spirit of citizen initiative, the citizens of Newark voted to minimize the illegal status of marijuana possession within the municipality. As of the present (2-28-17) it is impossible to obtain or possess medical marijuana within the State of Ohio. The will of the Newark electorate is likewise irrelevant. “Before [Medicaid expansion in 2014]” those actually able to be covered by Medicaid were few and far between. Would it be fair to say that this was a “blue law,” “laws created to enforce strict moral standards.” (Wiki); a policy put in place at the time to “shame” the citizenry to claim ownership of their personal health? Some vehement agitation surrounds the current Medicaid debate. Little surrounded Sessions confirmation, nor surrounds the foot dragging and obfuscation of the Ohio Legislature as well as the actions of the Newark City Council and Mayor’s administration regarding marijuana legalization. Analysis finds the unifying force presented when blue laws are on the books to be a mystification. Was America great then because of “laws created to enforce strict moral standards.”?

It’s Troubling That People Face Different Charges For The Same Offense

November 20, 2016

In the pre-election post “What The Hell Have You Got To Lose?” (10-26-16) Analysis asserted its mission “to draw the link, to follow the thread between what is large and “out there” (as news, policy, etc.) and what is local, next door, just around the block.” The saga continues with the recent episode, “Smoke gets in your eyes.” 8-20-16 The Advocate’s Maria DeVito headlined “Newark officials not backing pot decriminalization.” “Mayor Jeff Hall said He doesn’t support the initiative as it is being presented because it goes beyond what has been done at the state level.” Further on: “Licking County Municipal Court Judge Michael Higgins, who wrote a letter to Newark City Council members earlier this year pointing out the difference between Newark’s law and the State law, said he doesn’t have feelings one way or another on the ballot measure. But he did say it’s troubling that people face different charges for the same offense.” Well, history shows the initiative to have been passed into law 11-8-16 by a majority of the electorate of the City of Newark. 11-11-16 DeVito headlines “Newark ignores newly passed pot decriminalization”. Notable: “[Law Director Doug] Sassen said there is nothing that requires the city to charge offenses under city law. “it’s just an option to pursue it and we’re going to choose not to pursue it.” He said.” The article stated Newark’s Police Chief Barry Connell’s accord with the Law Director. Analysis feels it is safe to assume ditto for the ever vociferous Mayor. On 11-14-16 The Advocate’s Kent Mallett headlined “Council members OK with decision to ignore new pot law.” Reporting that 100% of the City Council members were likewise 100% behind Doug Sassen’s policy decision. In a 11-20-16 letter to ed, the Law Director expounds on his policy: “If the initiative as passed were to be given full effect as suggested that would mean the conduct previously outlawed in these ordinances would be perfectly legal under Newark Law.” Well, yeah, that is how law making/changing is done (for some historic precedent Google “Newark City Council Pit Bull”). Analysis finds all this begs an awful lot of questions. Who makes the law? When is a law a law (not to mention the will of the people)? Which law is law? Who decides any or all of the above? Why does a city make laws to begin with? In the pre-election post of 10-26-16 Analysis claimed that “what the GOP candidate [and now president] is about, that has his party in a tizzy, can be found with that same party and electoral process here in Licking County.” Contemporary answers to some of the preceding questions might be found in the opposite direction – looking at the national and state news rather than just in Newark. The 11-18-16 Washington Post Wonkblog’s Christopher Ingraham headlines “Trump’s pick for attorney general: ‘Good people don’t smoke marijuana’”. Quoting the Trump administration’s AG to be, Jeff Sessions, (from a U.S. Senate Drug Caucus hearing in April of 2016): “We need grown ups in charge in Washington to say marijuana is not the kind of thing that ought to be legalized, it ought not to be minimized, that it’s in fact a very real danger.” Analysis finds this correlation with Sassen’s national counterpart to lead to various conclusions, all troubling and untenable. Is one to assume that Jeff Hall, Barry Connell, Doug Sassen and the members of the Newark City Council are the “grown ups” with the city’s electorate being children? How did the electorate get the right to vote if they are underage? Analysis finds more complications with all this. The same Advocate that published the Law Director’s letter also ran an older news item by its parent company, Gannett’s USA Today, headlined “Think tank calls on legislature to help rural Ohio”. The think tank (no, not Newark’s), being Cleveland’s the Center For Community Solutions, calls for what Analysis likewise pointed out in the 11-13-16 post, Make Licking County Rural Again. Both highlight the state’s withdrawal and redirection of funding, etc. resulting in the negligence and lack of affordable housing, public transportation, public health care, children’s services, etc. in Licking County and Newark. Yet, along with Sessions, Newark’s elected officials march lock step with the state. When will they diverge? When will they heed the children’s concerns? Analysis finds the local leaders response to the 2016 election results even more troubling, but from an ethical dimension. “Good people don’t smoke marijuana” determines, carte blanche, the morals that make America great. Unseen is the obverse. It also determines what is not good, immoral, without taking any recourse to the law and lawmaking. Such determination Newark’s elected leaders likewise choose to reserve for themselves. This is also evidenced in the same day’s paper that ran Sassen’s guest editorial alibi. In “Q&A: Offender list in Ohio brings up questions about cost” by the AP’s John Seewer, state legislators propose to expand the registry (and tracking) of convicted felons from those presently marked for life. Analysis wrote about the Steve Smith trial outcome back in 3-29-16 (Where’s The Crime In All This?). At the time Analysis was dumbfounded that a Marion County man convicted of drug trafficking that resulted in death (with a preponderance of evidence) could receive a lesser sentence than an isolated and unsubstantiated drug trafficking charge in Licking County. “Newark ignores newly passed pot decriminalization” says more for why “there is nothing that requires the city” to be fair, just, equitable or non-discriminatory in its interaction and treatment of citizens, underage or otherwise. To paraphrase Judge Higgins: “it’s troubling that people face different charges [and outcomes] for the same offense.”