Posts Tagged ‘Newark Income Tax Increase’

Is Home Rule Homeless?

June 19, 2017

The recent news out of the Ohio legislature is the bait and switch (again) of the local government fund to balance the state budget. Jackie Borchardt, for Cleveland.com (6-16-17), headlines Ohio Budget Pulls $35 Million from Cities to Spend on Opioid Crisis. “Combined with a provision to give money to villages and townships, the budget halves the state’s local government revenue stream directed to the 614 of Ohio’s 940 municipalities that levy an income tax. Cities, counties, villages and townships were already anticipating an $89 million hit over two years because of declining state revenues.” Essentially, in exchange for agreeing to levy income tax on their residents (and guest workers) cities were promised a chunk of the state funding (“Senate GOP spokesman John Fortney said the city-specific funding is a “bonus payment” that would be better spent on treatment programs for people addicted to opiates”) Borchardt provides background perspective: “The fund was established in 1934 in a deal with local governments to create the state sales tax. When the state began collecting personal income tax in 1972, the legislature agreed to give a share to municipalities because the new state tax would make it more difficult to raise local taxes.” “In 2011, Kasich slashed the local government fund in half to help patch an $8 billion budget hole. The fund went from 3.68 percent of the state’s general revenue fund in 2011 to 1.66 percent today. The last state budget diverted $17 million from the city-specific funding stream to pay for statewide law enforcement office training and a state database tracking shootings involving officers. It also temporarily redirected about $24 million to townships and villages.” Reporting for the State House News service (6-14-17) Andy Chow headlines Local Government Group Criticizes Latest Budget Proposal. “Local governments are likely to see a loss of $150 million in funding from just the local government fund distribution and projects. The Ohio Municipal League’s Kent Scarrett says there are a lot of seemingly small changes in the Senate budget bill that could result in big cuts.” Unrelated, but certainly intimately connected and very relevant to the state legislature budgeting process is the continued legal struggle over Cleveland’s Fannie Lewis law. 6-15-17 Robert Higgs updates the situation with National Coalition Joins Cleveland Fight to Save Fannie Lewis Law (Cleveland.com). “Named for the longtime Cleveland Councilwoman Fannie Lewis, the city ordinance was enacted more than a decade ago to help combat poverty and to ensure that residents participate in the city’s economic development – and share in its prosperity.” “The Fannie Lewis law requires that on projects of $100,000 or more, at least 20 percent of construction hours be performed by Cleveland residents. At least 4 percent of that work must be done by residents considered to be low-income. Failure to meet the requirements results in a fine equal to 1/8 of 1 percent of the total contract cost for each percentage by which the contractor misses the goal.” “A year ago the Ohio General Assembly approved a bill that would have barred cities from enacting local hiring regulations in contracts for public improvements as Cleveland’s Fannie Lewis law does. Gov. John Kasich signed the bill into law last May. Cleveland sued the state last August, shortly before the law was to take effect, claiming it violated home rule powers guaranteed in the Ohio Constitution. In January, Common Pleas Judge Michael J. Russo issued a permanent injunction that blocks the state from ever enforcing the law. That led to the state’s appeal.” “The Campaign to Defend Local Solutions on Tuesday filed a brief in the 8th District Ohio Court of Appeals arguing in favor of the city’s position.” “”Cities across the country are under attack by overreaching state legislatures, and a preemption threat to one city is a threat to all,” Michael Alfano, campaign manager for the coalition, said in a statement. “Whether in Ohio, Florida, Arizona, or North Carolina, the rights of cities like Cleveland to enact laws that reflect community values must be defended.”” Analysis finds there to be no coincidence that one of the “national conversations” currently ongoing (after the 2016 presidential election) is over the urban/rural cultural divide. It likewise is no coincidence that cities are gerrymandered (and isolated) with Democratic party expectations by GOP dominated state legislatures (currently in the majority across most of America). Likewise, Analysis finds it no coincidence that “cities across the country” are effected by such budgeting. Remember ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council) of which Ohio’s governor and legislators are members? You know, the lobbying group that offers legislative templates that legislators have copied verbatim, even forgetting to change the name of the state to their own for which they are making law. Alfano raises suspicions as to the origins of such budgeting solutions. From ALEC’s home website’s “State Budget Solutions”: “Smart budgeting is vital to a state’s financial health. The ALEC State Budget Reform Toolkit offers more than 20 policy ideas for addressing today’s shortfalls in a forthright manner, without resorting to budget gimmicks or damaging tax increases.” Newark, of course, is at one with all this. Mayor Hall chose not to involve himself with the Ohio Municipal League’s initial complaint on Governor Kasich’s original budget manipulation, and the city council prefers to constantly defer to the state on most matters, even ones that have been voted on by its citizens through a ballot initiative (think marijuana, medical as well as misdemeanor). So much for getting the roads paved any time soon (but there will be a new bridge over 16 with “Downtown” written on it, in case one is lost).

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.

Dead Vote Casting

October 10, 2016

In a recent book review (Art beyond Itself: Anthropology for a Society without a Story Line by Nestor Garcia Canclini) Robin Adele Greeley writes “Yet it is precisely in contemporary art’s ability to capture this state of incoherence that Garcia Canclini situates its capacity to address our present condition.” Analysis finds this to be most applicable to the present condition of political discord today. To say “discourse” rather than “discord” would imply some form of coherence. After the weekend distortions of Wiki leaks, x rated audio releases and an ostensible “town hall” debate, contemporary art must find itself with a treasure trove of work. Indeed, to wish or long for a story line, one that America could look for to return to its past “glory days,” would be to desire a monolithic, totalitarian mindset; one that didn’t have to take diversity into account or deal with its consequences. Coherence would entail an all encompassing mindset immune to the plethora of difference found not only materially in people, wealth distribution and quality of lives, but also the even greater galaxy of information, data, facts, and descriptions given the “huge” array of media sources. Analysis believes any artwork would look and sound a lot like Sunday evening’s “town hall” debate where people were asking questions that weren’t being answered, giving answers to questions they weren’t being asked, ignoring the moderators, or not wishing to deal with any format at all. What may have appeared as discord and incoherence to contemporary aesthetic sensibility was actually a variety of individual all encompassing mindsets immune to diversity, unable to include what is not within their own single monolithic voice (no surprise anarchy never gets any good press!). Analysis finds it isn’t any wonder given the enormous amount of continuous imagery, descriptions, information, advertising, narratives, etc. coming from an equally dizzying array of sources. If I don’t stick to the script, bring attention to myself, then my brand identity will be lost. Analysis finds that maintaining brand identity requires continuous 24-7-365 attention. The jumble of incoherence known as contemporary politics creates an almost deafening Motown Wall of Sound, akin to white noise – present everywhere, eventually accepted as natural background, an unnatural form of silence. Closer to home, there is an almost deafening roar of silence regarding the upcoming Newark increase in income tax appearing on the ballot. The strategy, as presented by Newark Advocate reporting months ago, is for a campaign specifically targeting business and social organizations. At some point this campaign will need to come out of the closet and address those who actually vote, the residents of Newark. Though more convenient to address businesses entities and corporations, Citizens United still maintains that elections are determined by flesh and blood “persons” casting ballots (in person!). Analysis finds the dearth of campaigning for a “yes vote” within 30 days of voting, be it lawn signs, billboards, media ads, etc., to suggest that maybe those in city government not up for reelection may have already plotted a future course for the city. Business loathes the uncertainty of incoherence. The monolithic mindset is so much more convenient! Newark’s income tax increase has been relegated DOA, resulting in a kind of dead vote casting.

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.

Newark Income Tax OMG

July 16, 2016

An iconoclast is described by the dictionary as someone who attacks beliefs and institutions as being superstitious or in error. Over a decade ago Bruno Latour made a play on this with the term “iconoclash” to describe what he felt was the attack on beliefs and institutions worldwide. For Latour, situated in France, this had a lot to do with the tensions between Christian France and former colonial subjects entitled to citizenship but definitely not Christian (many of whom were second and third generation, born in France). Religious (of various beliefs) were attacking religious (of not their belief) as well as secular institutions (such as the state, corporations, etc.), and vice versa (secularists were attacking each other as well as the religious, etc.). The world was on the attack! In the inimitable style of Donnie Trump, Analysis would say that we may be. Then again, simple logic shows we may not (“I don’t know.” D.T.). To read news coverage and commentary, Donnie may be right. Then again he may not. Ostensible reasons for things like Donnie’s own wall (and many other “projects”), PAC ads for the 2016 election, the Black Lives Matter demonstration, the Brexit vote, etc. are all couched in terms of competition and contention – attack or defend. Do people go in the voting booth with such an inflated sense of potency, effectiveness and aggression? Or could something else be at play, invisible behind the curtain of the secret ballot? Latour misses the mark in our time. But he does offer an insight into what most of the high dollar media is missing. The corporate giants like to frame the referendum as a sporting competition – Britons competed to decide in or out. The out won showing the strength of the discontent, the desire to tear down the institution of the EU as in error. With the 2016 POTUS election, it is the match up of the “outsider” versus the “establishment” (bound to defend the practices of her predecessor). Kinda like a heavy weight title fight, huh? Locally, the Newark income tax increase was likewise framed when first initiated a couple of years back. The local media proclaimed the competitive effectiveness of the entire process with “The people voted it down.” But iconoclash it is not, for the next morning everyone gets up and goes to work at the same institutions with the same belief systems all neatly in place. Analysis finds something else to be at play here, something akin to iconoclash but only in appearance. The Brexit vote, the Black Lives Matter message, the statistical dead heat of two radically different presidential candidates may not be about attacking, or tearing down. The statisticians “dead heat” may not be based on “equal distaste for the candidates.” The Brexit vote, the 2016 POTUS statistics, Black Lives Matter, Newark’s income tax referendum may, in fact, be rather a statement of disbelief than one of active effectiveness, potency and aggression. Statements of disbelief usually follow the straight forward OMG of twitter. Choosing to use more characters, they are embellished with irony. Some may even descend to actual cynical commitment. But they are statements of disbelief and incredulity, not attacks on institutions or beliefs based in error or superstition. Analysis shows it is possible to disbelieve something without attacking it or tearing it down. The Black Lives Matter demonstration may be a statement of disbelief regarding the distribution of “equal justice for all” by those paid to ensure it. Brexit may have been the absence of belief in the effectiveness of EU membership (though the next morning everyone expected the same jobs, ease of travel and buying/selling of goods). The “statistical” 2016 POTUS dead heat may rather reflect equal disbelief in Donny’s simplistic nationalism as well as Hillary’s convoluted globalism. And in Newark, a no vote may not be about people wanting to have their infrastructure maintained. It may just be a statement of disbelief that revenue raised by the tax will actually be spent on the intended reason for the tax. After witnessing (repeatedly) how contributions made to NGO’s (like the Red Cross, Wounded Warriors, etc.) are spent for other matters than the one’s the donor intended, AND witnessing the preferential distribution of available funding by state, local county and city government to business related enterprises, a statement of disbelief is not only reasonable, but quite appropriate.

In The Hall Closet

June 27, 2016

Newark once again is considering putting a personal income tax increase on the ballot (Newark voters may see income tax increase on ballot, Newark Advocate, 6-26-16). Go not so far back in the way back machine, dear reader, to an Advocate editorial at the end of 2015 looking forward to the upcoming year (2016 holds much promise for Newark, 12-27-15). In it the editorial board pinned all its hopes and confidence on the newly elected Republican majority, coupled with the Republican city administration (not to mention the State judiciary). Analysis wonders whether Mayor Jeff Hall kept his cheerleading outfit from the last income tax campaign. Will it still fit? We all seem to fill out around the middle with the passage of time and the same old same old. No mention of whether it is to be on the ballot in the fall, down ticket from the presidential and senate selections. Given the current “populist” penchant of the Republican party, the mayor better have some pretty good routines perfected. The lackluster, mediocre “Rah, Rah” of the previous campaign won’t cut it. Will the mayor take to tweeting instead of twerking? Then again, perhaps the behind the scenes politicians know something about the future of the Republican party post Trump that isn’t readily available to the rest of us, and that The Advocate has no financial incentive to reveal (or could it be, has financial incentive not to reveal? You choose). Do income tax increases loom in the every man’s paycheck with a Trump presidency? Has Ronald Reagan become an emoji? Pardon the digression. Analysis is more interested in the closet politicians, the behind the scenes persons who decide what the downtown should look like, what gets done, in what order, what roads to widen and change direction to accommodate their vision, what bridges to rebuild, what is under developed (and out of reach) and what is worth developing (and on the margins). Yes Virginia, corporations are now persons, closeted political leaders. Analysis finds the increased rate of taxation on the proposed income tax hike not to have been arrived at with the throw of a dart. The original lesser percent increase failed ballot approval. In accord with the new Trump logic, the administration doubled down on the increase. It will be absolutely fantastic. You’ll love it, a huge success. And we’ll get the out of town workers to pay for it! Analysis finds an income tax to be essentially a tax imposed on revenue generated. A personal income tax is one imposed upon the revenue generated by a person. Closeted politicians have successfully achieved income tax cuts, abatements and credits for their person while excluding their own revenue stream from any “personal” income tax. Operating “behind the scenes,” who is to question that the needs of the city can only be met by a personal income tax increase? Just arrived, by Amazon Prime and waiting in the Hall closet, is a brand new cheerleading outfit. Go Bucks!