Posts Tagged ‘Newark Development Partners Community Improvement Corporation’

It’s Time To Defund CIC’s

April 1, 2021

            What is a CIC? The NDP (Newark Development Partners) uses the terms “Community Improvement Corporation” as part of their full name, so we’ll stick with that rather than “investment”, or the British “interest company.” In Ohio these are primarily public/private entities, or at least that is what their stakeholders claim. The “public/private” generally refers to the entire operation being funded by the public sector and administered by the private. Grow Licking County is funded not only by the county but also income from the various municipalities that it markets. Its administration is in the care of the Licking County Chamber of Commerce, a private entity; public sector funding, private sector spending. Amount of funding supplied by the public is readily available (thanks to freedom of information), how it is spent and the outcomes of that expenditure not so much. The term “public/private” is confusing enough. That probably stems from its oxymoronic character. And oxymorons, as we all know, are the preferred devices for the conveyance of magical thinking and mystical alliances. But what does “Community Improvement Corporation” mean? Or is it also an oxymoron, or a near kin? Analysis of the component terms may offer a clue. “Improvement” isn’t a toughie. Defined as “better” is sufficient for understanding. The dictionary gives two relevant meanings for “community”: 1. a group of people living in the same place or having a particular characteristic in common. 2. a feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals. For “corporation” only one: 1. a company or group of people authorized to act as a single entity (legally a person) and recognized as such in law. For “CIC”, no entries found. Again, we’ve hit the oxymoronic wall. Is it a community of improvement corporations? Or is it community improvement by corporations? The oxymoronic element appears to be the contradiction of people living in common fellowship and authority under force of law. Holy crime fighters, Batman! It sure looks a lot like another publicly funded service institution in crisis today. It is no coincidence that “authority” is used in another area public/private CIC – the Newark Port Authority. That “Community Improvement Corporation” is just soap suds to screen the laundering of money is quite apparent. And the washed sums are considerable. The Licking County Chamber of Commerce was the largest in Ohio when most of LC’s CIC’s were begun back in the early years of the Kasich administration. What “better” has the fellowship of people living in common have to show for all the wealth siphoned to the top? “Places to work” we are told. Employers stress their number one need is that workers have a reliable way to get to their jobs yet Licking County has no fixed schedule public transportation after all this time. Neighboring counties do though their Chambers of Commerce are dwarfed by LC’s. Ditto for affordable housing having been built over that period as well as presently projected. Lancaster (and soon Zanesville) have the Pearl House for those without housing while Newark has the promise of shopping in the waiting-to-be-historically-designated Arcade (and other rainbow stew propaganda). It’s time to defund Newark’s Community Improvement Corporations.

The Headline Says It All

March 14, 2021

            The Newark Advocate headlined “Four North 21st Street homes to be demolished for Sheetz gas station, store, restaurant” (Kent Mallett, 3-12-21). The story included the requisite song and dance of the company’s history, as well as the rigorous planning and zoning process activated with the, er, development. “The zoning certificate for the project will be granted when five conditions are met, [Newark City Engineer Brian] Morehead said.” There were photos of the houses to be leveled, interview with previous owner, etc. Besides, who hasn’t seen the Sheetz Truckstops when traveling on the interstate? A name you’ve grown to trust! Everything appears to be above board and legit, serving the beneficial interests of the community. Not. Four less homes to house the community. Earlier there was the overture to demolish another house at the corner of 21stand Church for the sake of another gas station/convenience store. When it comes to demolition the county land bank and Newark Development Partners Community Improvement Corporation can’t find enough, always in the name of development and growth. When it comes to finding homes for those without housing these city leaders are nowhere to be found (backing out of their commitment for a low barrier shelter on East Main Street). When it comes to developing housing, actually building affordable in town residences, the matter is poo-pooed for the razzle dazzle of River Rd. expansion, etc. Four less affordable homes is four less places to shelter in town Newark. The real “development” would be replacing these units with 4 new ones. A lack of housing is a lack of housing, and is a major contributor to the growing number of citizens without a house to call home. This is not complicated cause/effect reasoning. In the 80’s, New York City commercial investors bought up the in town residential properties for demolition and commercial “development.” This resulted in the overnight burgeoning of people on the streets without a house to call home. Remove the existing housing stock without replacement creates scarcity. Scarcity may be good for capitalism but it is bad if you need a roof over your head. No matter, Newark City government leaders are all patting themselves on the back for dotting all the i’s and crossing all the t’s in their quest to accommodate commercial “development.” But is commercial interest the public interest? Is the demolition of housing stock with no replacement in the interest of the public good? 

Welcome To Denial Ohio Jeff Hall Mayor

January 8, 2021

            Decades ago in Australia’s capital of Canberra (or thereabouts) there was a native people’s demonstration aimed at renaming the central plaza with its aboriginal name. By the most guileful of means, the existing “colonial” signs were replaced with ones bearing the “pre-colonial” name of the place. Something analogous ought to happen in Newark Ohio. In the midst of all the media outrage posted regarding the events in our nation’s capital (as Gomer would say; “Surprise. Surprise. Surprise.”) Newark Advocate’s Kent Mallett headlined: East Main Street building to become Newark thrift store, not homeless shelter (1-8-21). “The Evans Foundation, working with Newark Development Partners and the now-defunct Licking County Task Force on Homelessness, purchased the building in late 2019 and leased it to the city of Newark as a location for a low-barrier shelter serving the area’s growing homeless population.” The buried lead here is “growing homeless population”, not “building.” Mallett further expounds, later in the report: “The state’s annual count of homeless later this month will provide more data, but Tegtmeyer [Deb Tegtmeyer, director of the Licking County Coalition for Housing] said the problem seems to have gotten worse. “The feeling is that it has increased, primarily for single adults, Tegtmeyer said. “The waiting list for families is short, because funds are available for them. Single adults are kind of a bigger challenge. With the moratorium on evictions (extended to the end of the month), we’re trying to get a handle on what might be coming.”” Factually, the coldest part of winter is coming. But Analysis digresses. Leading civic leaders of Denial involved with the purchase/lease back in 2019 were also interviewed by Mallett. “Sarah Wallace, chairwoman of the Evans Foundation, said the time had come to do something with the building at 200 East Main St. “I worry because it’s been vacant all this time and no concrete plans have been made,” Wallace said. “We just can’t let it sit there vacant. It’s not good for anybody. The longer a building sits vacant, the worse it is. “I’m excited to get it into use for the community. The St. Vincent de Paul Center is busting at the seams and they are in the business of serving the homeless.”” Indeed! Analysis would have preferred hearing something more like “I worry because people have been without shelter all this time and no concrete plans have been made, We just can’t let them be homeless. It’s not good for anybody. The longer people are without shelter, the worse it is.” But then again, with Denial’s downtown redevelopment and all, it is Capital first (and capitalized!), people much later. Analysis digresses again! “Dan DeLawder, chairman of Newark Development Partners, a public-private community improvement corporation involved in the effort to open a new shelter, said converting the building into a shelter failed because of a lack of funding. “It’s still premature to say how we’ll go forward,” DeLawder said. “We need a sustainable funding source to operate a shelter, and we haven’t found a solution to that. We haven’t seen anybody raise their hands and say we can help on a regular basis. We’re really stymied.”” That’s showin’ ‘em leadership, Dan. Throw in the towel after receiving the first punch on the nose. Funny the NDP hasn’t quit with its Arcade project, purchased in Denial the same year as the Family Dollar building. Further digression, mutter, mutter. And finally, the mayor of Denial, formerly a chief proponent of shelters as long as they aren’t located within the city limits, let alone in the heart of Denial (where his office resides); “The mayor applauded the effort of the Evans Foundation and St. Vincent de Paul, and said the effort to help those suffering with homelessness continues. “I fully support the reuse of that building,” Hall said. “St. Vincent de Paul does a wonderful job in the community helping those less fortunate and getting needed supplies for those in the area. “They acquired (the building) in case it worked out to be a homeless shelter. The building doesn’t make or break a plan. It’s complex and challenging in a lot of areas. It’s not an easy fix and not reliant on one building.”” One less lease to clean up after. One less egg to fry. Welcome to Denial Ohio, Jeff Hall Mayor.

Free Market Economics

December 31, 2020

            “In our culture the concept of the market is akin to religion. In fact, for many people the fantasy that their life is shaped by a market is a substitute for thinking that it was shaped by a deity, or else the market itself is understood as a deity.” “A market is a way for people to distribute resources and goods. That’s all it is. The human race for most of its history has not used markets to do that. When I say distribute resources, I mean land. Who’s going to get what piece of land to cultivate?” (Richard Wolff from Occupy the economy: challenging capitalism by Richard Wolff; interviews with David Barsamian) 12-30-20 Henry Fountain writing for the New York Times headlines: Sale of Arctic Drilling Leases Draws an Unusual Taker. It May Be the Only One. “After a three-year push by the Trump administration to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska to oil drilling — an effort that culminated in a rush to sell leases before the White House changes hands — in the end the only taker may be the state of Alaska itself. With a Thursday deadline [12-31-20] for submitting bids for 10-year leases on tracts covering more than 1 million acres of the refuge, there is little indication that oil companies are interested in buying the rights to drill under difficult conditions, to extract more costly fossil fuels for a world that increasingly is seeking to wean itself off them. Amid the uncertainty, a state-owned economic development corporation voted last week to authorize bidding up to $20 million for some of the leases.” In Ohio, JobsOhio is “a state-owned economic development corporation”. In Licking County it would be Grow Licking County. And in Licking County’s seat of government, Newark, it would be Newark Development Partners. You can throw the Port Authority in there too as it likewise is an “economic development corporation” and covers a multitude of “governments.” The gist of Fountain’s article, you ask? “But if the development authority proceeds, it sets up the possibility that when the sealed bids are opened on Jan. 6, the state may find itself the sole owner of leases.” “He [Frank Murkowski, Lisa’s dad] also pointed out that because leasing revenue is split equally between the federal and state governments, if its bids were successful the state would be getting a unique deal. “You’re going to get half your money back,” he told the authority’s board. Only the state, he added, “can buy at a 50% discount.”” “In the [2017] tax bill, the sales were presented as a way to raise $900 million over 10 years for the federal treasury to help offset more than $1 trillion in tax cuts. But that figure has long been questioned by outside experts. An analysis last year by The New York Times suggested the actual amount would be about $45 million.” “The group [Taxpayers for Common Sense] said its most recent estimate showed that the federal treasury could receive as little as $15 million from the lease sales.” Where’s the market in all this? Indeed, where’s the market in the various tax abatements, credits and infrastructure enhancements offered by JobsOhio, Grow Licking County and the Port Authority in their offerings to secure corporate “investment” in Etna, Pataskala and the Rt 79 corridor? It certainly is about “Who’s going to get what piece of land to cultivate”. And what about Newark Development Partners purchase  and projected multi-million dollar “development” of the Newark Arcade being totally contingent on receiving government funded “historic tax credits” while the low barrier shelter “projected” by these same folks goes nowhere? “A market is a way for people to distribute resources and goods. That’s all it is.” Free and equitable, it’s not.

Super Dupe-er

October 30, 2020

            10-29-20 The Los Angeles Times headlined: Pebble Mine developer promised riches, but expects $1.5-billion subsidy from Alaskans (Richard Read). The story is full of the to-be-expected tales of political intrigue, corruption and environmental concerns that Ohioans have become accustomed to, locally with Larry Householder and HB6. But there is another aspect of the LA Times article which strikes closer to the heart of what is taking place in downtown Newark, something which informs analogously. It is important to note that, before diving into the unseemly details of all the intrigue, corruption, and environmental gore, Read does lay out the facts (guileful as they may be). “The company seeking to develop Pebble Mine in the headwaters of Bristol Bay has long promised that the controversial project would bring Alaska jobs, economic growth and tax revenue. But newly released undercover videos made by an environmental advocacy group show that Northern Dynasty Minerals Ltd. expects a massive state subsidy for the giant mine. In the recording, Ronald Thiessen, the chief executive, tells environmental activists — who are posing as potential investors — that the company plans to raise $4 billion from investors and secure another $1.5 billion from the state. He also says that if a federal permit under the Clean Water Act is denied for the copper and gold mine, his company will try to claim hundreds of millions of dollars in compensation from the U.S. government. “In our view it’s a ‘taking,’ an expropriation,” Thiessen says. “And if it’s determined to be a taking by the courts, we expect compensation.” The recordings were released Thursday by the Environmental Investigation Agency, which made them in August and September by duping company executives.” Two days prior the LA Times article Kent Mallett, for the Advocate, headlined: NDP leaders hopeful Arcade restoration project can secure ‘critical’ tax credits (10-27-20) which was a practically verbatim article written by him and published on 6-29-20 (Arcade renovation project could cost $15 million, needs tax credits). Along with the to-be-expected falderal of Arcade history, what is being uncovered, etc., both articles include the somewhat official looking economic details of projected sources of income (apartments and store/office rental) as well as the projected cost ($15 million). Neither story provides the crucial tax payer investment – the amount of the projected tax credit, without which all the Newark Development Partners (and city) become quite anxious for the fate of the white elephant they may have forced Tom Cotton to sell. An oversight on the part of Mr. Mallett? Doubtful. It is sad that Borat style guile would be needed to reveal the amount that the NDP is anticipating. Like the Pebble Mine enterprise, the Arcade project is relying on tax payer investment in the form of tax credits (money paid to the owner/developers – NDP). Northern Dynasty Minerals Ltd. anticipates tax payer investment to be approximately 27+% of the total needed. The same percentage calculated on NDP’s Arcade project would yield around $4+ million. Will we ever know? Will someone need to be duped to find out? Given the ditto articles by The Advocate (almost exactly 4 months apart), is someone perhaps already being duped?

Ouch!

September 25, 2020

            The truth hurts. 9-22-20 Newark Advocate’s Kent Mallett headlines Winter’s coming: Newark area homeless again without enough shelters. No, not winter, a not necessarily hurtful truth for some people (though maybe not those without shelter). But that another year dawns where, once again, there will be a scramble to “respond” to the truth of fellow citizens living with inadequate means to deal with what winter dishes out. Mallett’s story centers on the still defunct Family Dollar building (200 E. Main St.), purchased by the Evans Foundation and earmarked, at the time of purchase, to become a low barrier shelter for those with none. But first a round of studies with tax payer paid outside consultants to insure that it is done right (“Mayor Jeff Hall said although speed is important in opening a shelter, it’s most important to do it right.”). Along with the building purchase in 2019, Luken Solutions was contracted “to study the feasibility of operating a low barrier shelter.” There must have been an opt out clause in the agreement, as a year later Luken Solutions chose to exercise it (so much for Mayor Hall’s “speed is important”). Mallett quotes Trisha Pound, a member of the Licking County Task Force on Homelessness, who addressed the opt out by Sally Luken: ““The letter Sally wrote to us said she believed our community doesn’t want a low-barrier shelter. As someone that is a social worker in the community and knows how much we really need it, it’s alarming to me that a professional would say that they feel we don’t need a shelter or don’t want a shelter.”” (Ouch! The cat just clawed its way out of the bag. Remember Mayor Jeff Hall’s insight that he is all for a homeless shelter, as long as it is outside the city limits?). Another stakeholder, that vociferously embraced the Family Dollar building as a solution to those detracting from the renovation miracle of downtown Newark (Mallett pithily understates this “In the summer of 2018, the homeless problem gained attention when homeless persons were seen sleeping on benches around the Courthouse Square.”), tried to put a positive spin on Luken’s abdication: “Dan DeLawder, chairman of Newark Development Partners, a public-private community improvement corporation involved in the effort to open a new shelter, said someone needs to continue the work of Luken Solutions. “A number of things were accomplished by Sally and her work, not the least of which was to confirm that Licking County does have a need for an additional emergency shelter,” DeLawder said. “She did, in fact, confirm the need. We need beds. It’s as simple as that.”” Meanwhile, renovation work is going gang busters on Newark Development Partners’ downtown Arcade, also purchased in 2019. “Dan DeLawder, chairman of NDP, said, “We can’t pull this project off without tax credits. I don’t know how to do it, anyway. From a pure commercial perspective, tax credits will make this a possibility. We’re still in the early stages of development consideration. It’s just a massive project. It’s a very comprehensive effort underway to evaluate the facility and it is still too early to say a cost and what form or fashion it will be done.”” (Mallett again, 6-29-20 Arcade renovation project could cost $15 million, needs tax credits). Maybe declaring the Family Dollar building a historic landmark would get tax credits to build a low barrier shelter? Analysis finds the painful truth of “Winters coming: Newark area homeless…” to be the significant difference between, not only language but also the experienced actuality of, “dealing with homelessness” and helping people who are actually without housing, between quickly agreed upon “needs” and actual, acted upon wants (for an Arcade, Yes. For a low barrier shelter downtown, No!).

Under The Law Updated

November 24, 2019

Gasp! Looks like Newark Development Partners didn’t bother to wait for a determination on the legality of the state owning property to get into the ownership business under the law (the capitalist religion imperative of “money making money”). The Newark Advocate’s editor Benjamin Lanka and veteran reporter Kent Mallett teamed up to headline Historic Downtown Newark Arcade Sold, Renovations Planned (11-23-19). “The Newark Development Partners Community Improvement Corporation on Saturday announced the purchase of the Arcade. The purchase includes all real estate located at 15 Arcade Place, including the entrances facing North Third and North Fourth streets, commercial property extending east and west between the entrances, approximately 22 commercial spaces inside the arcade and the potential for 15 to 20 residential units above the area.” Will the Newark community be improved? Well, that rests on the shoulders of Spencer Barker who markets community and real estate for Newark Development Partners. Analysis shows it to be no coincidence that, out of all the available candidates to replace Mark Fraizer on Newark City Council, Jeff Hall and the others on the GOP’s central committee chose Spencer Barker. Butt weight, there’s more! America is unique among most of the world’s democracies. It’s chief executive is not only the nation’s figurehead (President) but also chief policy maker/executive (Prime Minister). It is not always so with America’s cities. Often there is a figurehead mayor and a city manager to implement policy. But these are the days of overt, “official” US State Department policy and covert, “shadow” US State Department operations. Analysis finds ditto happening in Newark. ““The Arcade area is a crucial part of the downtown district. It holds special value in our community’s heritage, and it has tremendous potential as the next step in the ongoing revitalization of downtown Newark,” said NDP [Newark Development Partners] Chairman Dan DeLawder in a statement. “We have a responsibility to be good stewards of this historical property and look forward to it becoming, once again, a unique jewel in our city.”” While Newark’s shadow Prime Minister is touting that the Arcade purchase “has tremendous potential as the next step in the ongoing revitalization of downtown Newark,” the figurehead Mayor will continue to say ““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.”” (Mallett, The Advocate, 10-20-19). Both will claim that the purchase and development, using public funds through a “Public/Private Partnership”, falls under the law. The capitalist religion law of “money making money”, that is. As cleveland.com’s Andrew J. Tobias put it “Any profit [from NDP’s ownership of the Arcade] could be plowed back into the organization to be given to other companies.” (11-21-19). The business of business is to follow the law of “money making money.” To do otherwise would be a crime. When it comes to community needs, like bus service, low barrier (even no barrier) shelters, community rec centers, or street paving, more first responders, etc., it will always be the mayor saying “Can’t afford it. There are things you can’t afford.”

This is all so sad that Analysis finds it calls for some comic relief. Politico’s Edward McClelland headlines How Reagan’s Childhood Home Gave Up On Reaganism (11-23-19). “In 2002, Dixon’s [Dixon Illinois] congressman, Dennis Hastert, then the Republican speaker of the House, passed a bill authorizing the National Park Service to buy the property and manage the house, as it does so many other presidential properties. The members of the Reagan home’s board of directors were aging and approached Hastert because they thought the Park Service might be a good candidate to carry on their work. They changed their minds, however, and spurned the help, in part because Congress wouldn’t match the millions of dollars private donors had invested in the property, and in part because that’s not how Reagan would have wanted it. “He didn’t think government needed to be involved in our daily lives,” Connie Lange, the executive director at the time, said of the 40th president. “And people really took that to heart here.”” “A year ago, Patrick Gorman, who became the foundation’s executive director in 2016 [coincidentally the year the home’s sugar daddy, Norm Wymbs, passed away], wrote a letter to the National Park Service, offering, at long last, to sell the home to the federal government. He understood, and sympathized with, the former president’s philosophy. But it had reached the point that clinging to Reagan’s anti-government principles might mean the demise of the most important tourist attraction in Dixon. He and the foundation were not willing to leave the home to the whims of the free market.” “Dixon’s current congressman, Adam Kinzinger, a Republican, “supports the National Park Service purchasing the site,” he said through a spokesperson. This time, the money to honor Reagan will have to come from a Democratic Congress. One factor in the home’s favor, however: The Park Service can name its own price.” “Gorman says he has “mixed emotions” about selling the anti-big government president’s house to the government. (Although maybe he shouldn’t: Despite Reagan’s rhetoric, the Park Service acquired plenty of land when he was president, including an $8 million purchase in the Santa Monica Mountains.)” “A lot of Dixonites have mixed feelings about the potential sale, too. “I don’t have a problem with it, because it’s struggling, and the Park Service can help,” says Marlin Misner, a former foundation board member who wrote a history of the boyhood home. “Whether they will or not, we’ll see. If you want to ruin a project, get the federal government involved.””

 

Under The Law

November 22, 2019

“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.” These words appear to express a very noble sentiment, They certainly assert a strategic outlook, one that defers immediate neighborhood aid for the eventual promise of neighborhood benefit to come. But does it serve the community’s interest, help the community’s needs? Analysis finds that, distilled, the strategy is simply a rehash of the fundamental tenet of the capitalist religion that “money makes money” (“If you put the dollars first in the commercial district,… it creates more funds”) The words (and strategy) are those of recently re-elected Newark Mayor Jeff Hall (The Advocate, 10-11-19). Reporting for cleveland.com, Andrew J. Tobias headlined: JobsOhio pushing boundaries by looking to be a part-owner of companies it supports (11-21-19). Analysis finds JobsOhio moving to put into action the Newark Mayor’s capitalist formula for success by “owning stakes of private companies”. “It’s an open question whether the new strategy means JobsOhio is interested in taking a venture capital approach — making a larger volume of risky bets on very young companies, hoping to strike it big if one is successful — or focusing on small, promising companies that are financially stable, but looking to expand. Any profit could be plowed back into the organization to be given to other companies.” “State lawmakers and then-Gov. John Kasich, a Republican, created JobsOhio in 2011 as a private non-profit to functionally replace a state agency that had led Ohio’s economic development efforts for decades. It’s exempt from state public-records laws, but the governor appoints its board members and helps hire its leader. DeWine picked new leaders, but opted to keep it basically intact upon taking office in January. Back when JobsOhio was still getting set up, Kasich considered allowing the organization to take shares of the companies it invested in. He even hired Mark Kvamme, a venture capitalist from California, to run it. Kvamme left the organization after less than two years, and now helps run a venture capital fund in Columbus.” “JobsOhio’s funding comes from the profits it gets running the state’s liquor enterprise, which netted $271 million last year.” “Beyond the political issues, there are also possible legal issues under the Ohio Constitution. There’s a story behind that — local governments and the state between the 1820s and the 1850s lost millions bailing out its bad investments in toll roads, canals and particularly, railroad companies. Citizens, alleging corruption, called for a constitutional convention in 1851. The result severely limits what the state can do when it comes to giving money to private businesses. The constitutional section flatly banning state ownership of private companies was so popular it wasn’t even debated, according to a 1985 article in the Toledo Law Review written by David Gold, a longtime staffer for the Ohio Legislative Service Commission. As one delegate at the 1851 convention put it: “And sir, we ask now, that debt-contracting, loan laws, and money squandering may forever be put an end to-that the whole system maybe dug up by the roots, and no single sprout ever permitted to shoot up again.”” “Still, Maurice Thompson, a conservative Ohio legal activist who was part of the failed lawsuit [2011 challenge to JobsOhio], said a legal challenge is still possible, although it would be hard to find someone with the standing needed to file it. “I think this has been a long time coming, given Gov. Kasich’s initial comments,” Thompson said. “I do think it’s unconstitutional.” “It’s already problematic that JobsOhio can spend hundreds of millions of our dollars with very little transparency or accountability,” said Janetta King, president and CEO of Innovation Ohio, a progressive think-tank in Columbus. “If it is now ignoring prohibitions in the state Constitution that were put there for good reasons, we should all be concerned.”” Is the reader concerned? Which brings us round to Newark and the recent election results. The entitled GOP (of which Newark Mayor Jeff Hall is a Central Committee member) recently appointed Spencer Barker to fill the seat left vacant by Mark Fraizer, who by appointment filled Scott Ryan’s legislative position (who left for the Third Frontier). Analysis finds all these resume’s curiously compatible with the law of “money makes money.” Fraizer is with giant Huntington Bank, while Barker markets community and real estate for Newark Development Partners (like JobsOhio, a public/private partnership) and Shai Commercial Real Estate. Analysis can only conclude that mini-me Grow Licking County (patterned from its inception on JobsOhio) is salivating while waiting breathlessly for JobsOhio’s investment strategy to be put into action. Analysis finds one place where the law (and raison d’etre) of “money makes money” is already in practice. The financial market (Wall Street) makes money by following the law. Analysis can’t readily ascribe any community, per se, benefiting from this practice under the law. Can you?

Who Really Pays For The Wall?

January 7, 2019

The number one news story of 2018 by the Newark Advocate, according to the Newark Advocate, was the demise of Longaberger. To make a long story short, property in Muskingum County as well as Licking County was developed in order to manufacture and sell hand made baskets, home décor, etc. The central office building in Licking County was built in the shape of a picnic basket, handles and all. The company went through various reincarnations until it ran out of karma. The buildings and real property steadily lost value as their original use could not be easily replicated. What company seeks a picnic basket shaped office building? State Farm? They are actively seeking to shrink their footprint in Newark. On the other end of Newark sits the now defunct Meritor plant. Same game, different players. Who wants an antiquated former factory building? Down the road is the Newark Port Authority’s public money investment adjacent the still functioning Kaiser Plant. Like the Kaiser Plant, Meritor Factory and Basket Building, the new big box distribution centers, warehouses and manufacturing developments down 79 and in New Albany are tailor made for the prospective tenant. One sits idle, clean room and all, in the Port Authority development as the tenant did not materialize. The public funding of these developments can range from any and all of land acquisition, subsidies, infrastructure, tax breaks as well as tax credits. Grow Licking County, Newark Development Partners, along with JobsOhio justify this “public investment” in terms of potential income tax revenue to be earned through the employment opportunity as well as sundry commerce generated. Success stories such as Kroger’s Market Center occupying the long vacant Meijer grocery are touted while the vacant former Chesrown dealership less than a mile away are elided. The Market Center demolished the old grocery store in order to custom make the new one. The former Kroger store on Deo Drive is likewise vacant, though it is not a stand alone commercial building (part of a strip mall). The stand alone north Newark Walmart was built on a vacant wetland and one would like to believe that it is now no longer being subsidized by tax breaks and credits, but actually generating full property tax revenue. What all of these commercial developments, along with others, have in common is that they are real property “improvements” made with a specific and exclusive utility (and very limited at that). They are not interchangeable or variable like residential property development. As with the Chesrown, Meijer, Longaberger and Meritor real estate improvements (buildings), it is the tenant that brings value to the real estate, not the material improvement to the vacant land. The 1-6-19 NY Times ran an article by Patricia Cohen entitled As Big Retailers Seek to Cut Their Tax Bills, Towns Bear the Brunt. “With astonishing range and rapidity, big-box retailers and corporate giants are using an aggressive legal tactic to shrink their property tax bills, a strategy that is costing local governments and school districts around the country hundreds of millions of dollars in lost revenue. These businesses — many of them brick-and-mortar stores like Walmart, Home Depot, Target, Kohl’s, Menards and Walgreens that have faced fierce online competition — maintain that no matter how valuable a thriving store is to its current owner, these warehouse-type structures are not worth much to anyone else.” The “foundation” of the legal arguments is that appraisals of real property for tax reasons are based on comparable sales of like properties in the neighborhood. So if adjacent agricultural land is selling for $25K an acre, that’s the assessed taxable value of an acre of farmland. It matters little if it was a corn field, forest, wetlands or truck salvage yard. The same happens with residential properties. Now the corporate attorneys want ditto for commercial properties. Newark and Licking County residents would do well to check the easy money provided to corporate developers by Tim Bubb, Duane Flowers, Rick Black and Newark Mayor Jeff Hall through the likes of Grow Licking County and Newark Development Partners. “Businesses, of course, appeal property assessments as routinely as coaches work the refs. But this approach — labeled dark store theory by critics — significantly broadens the basis for those appeals while threatening to undermine municipalities’ ability to raise operating funds. “The potential for a domino effect of property tax appeals across the commercial and industrial portions of the tax base, which, were it to occur, could have a much more profound effect on some governments’ ability to levy” property taxes,” S&P Global Ratings concluded in a report last year. For a smaller town or school district, “the financial impact could be devastating,” said Scott Nees, a co-author of the report, noting that it could also threaten localities’ ability to borrow money.” “In the Lowe’s case, the company spent more than $16 million to buy the land and construct its 140,000-square-foot building less than a dozen years ago. The city [Wauwatosa, Wisconsin] assessed the spot in a bustling retail hub right off Highway 41 at $13.6 million. The company’s appraisal was $7.1 million, based on sales of empty and once empty buildings in other neighborhoods.” ““Either my property taxes are going to go up or my schools are going to suffer,” said Lisa Williams, who lives in a classic Craftsman-style bungalow a few minutes’ drive from Lowe’s in Wauwatosa, a comfortable suburb of Milwaukee. “The stores want to get all the benefits of being here without any of the costs.”” ““These warehouses are obsolete pretty much from the moment they build them,” said Robert Hill, a lawyer in Minnesota who has represented Walmart, Menards, Walgreens, CVS, Sturm Foods, United Healthcare and other companies. “It doesn’t matter whether they’re for sale in a suburb of Virginia or Nome, Alaska.”” Analysis finds that the GOP federal tax cut which mainly benefitted corporate interests was only an additional step in the redefinition of personhood by the SCOTUS ruling of Citizens United. It likewise clearly defines the GOP’s push to privatize America. Increasingly Licking County’s GOP administrators absolve local government from public service obligations because “there is no money” while subsidizing corporate “citizens.” Corporate persons “want to get all the benefits of being here without any of the costs.” Who really pays for the Wall, or schools, or roads, or water and sewage, or anything else for that matter?

 

What Is This Nameless…

July 19, 2018

July 13, 2018 reporting for The Newark Advocate Kent Mallet wrote about Downtown Benches Becoming Beds For Some. The bulk of the article was about the Newark Development Partners, Safety Director, Mayor and how this is carryover from when the Gazebo was there (and why it had to go!). The buried lead at the bottom of the article (“Donna Gibson, director of operations for St. Vincent Housing Facilities, said they do drug testing for the 26-bed St. Vincent Haven men’s shelter and the 24-apartment Gardens on Sixth transitional housing. Those who test positive are not allowed in the facilities, but they try to get them help, she said. “We’ve seen a huge influx in people coming and asking for food, a huge influx of homeless people,” Gibson said. “We do the best we can with what we have. We’re full. We’ve never had a waiting list, but we’re telling people to come back.” Drug use has become an even bigger problem recently, Gibson said. “It’s been overwhelming lately,” Gibson said. “We’ve moved beyond an epidemic. It’s a plague. Meth seems to be the biggest problem we’re dealing with.””) speaks rather succinctly of the enormous reality of American bodies infected by addiction having no place to call home in contemporary America (literally homeless). Analysis finds many corollaries that illuminate this tragedy, outlining its invisibility. In his book, Between The World And Me, Ta-Nehisi Coates quotes from another author, another book (Thavolia Glymph, Out Of The House Of Bondage) – “And there it is – the right to break the black body as the meaning of their sacred equality. And that right has always given them meaning, has always meant that there was someone down in the valley because a mountain is not a mountain if there is nothing below.” In one of his lectures at The College Of France, Michel Foucault (French social/cultural critic and philosopher) asked two simple questions —

Question: What is a wage?

Answer: It is an income.

Q: What is an income?

A; It is a return on capital.

As Analysis has often indicated, with the collapse of the Berlin Wall there is only one game in town (or globally). That is capitalism. Like it or not, we are now all capitalists. Only no one told that to those bodies sleeping on the courthouse benches. Which makes for the quandary posed to the DeLawders and Laymans of the Newark Development Partners Community Improvement Corporation, and for Newark’s Safety Director Steve Baum as well as the unawares Mayor Jeff Hall (“said he had not heard about people loitering downtown or sleeping for extended periods on the benches.”). Without capital there is no income. Without income one cannot play the game, the only game in town. Those without income are not only homeless but likewise useless and worthless within capitalism (they have no capital). Today we are all entrepreneurs. Our equality is purchased by our entrepreneurship, some more equal than others. To be an entrepreneur requires some capital, any capital, even if only that of a body to be sold. What is this nameless body sleeping on a bench, this “someone down in the valley because a mountain is not a mountain if there is nothing below”?