Posts Tagged ‘Newark Mayor Jeff Hall’

Be Active In 2018

January 6, 2018

Analysis woke to find sub zero temps and a wind chill alert for central Ohio, AND a Washington Post headline reading: Hawaii has record-low unemployment and it’s not a frozen hellscape. Why are people leaving? (Andrew Van Dam, 1-5-18) Huh? What is wrong with this picture? “Preliminary data back up the notion that Hawaii residents are continuing to vote with their feet. Moving company Atlas Van Lines found that, among its customers in 2017 (through Dec. 15), there were three moves out of Hawaii for every two moves in. The state is clearly a very nice place to visit. But it’s getting harder and harder to stay.” Dope slapping the side of the monitor for an attitude adjustment didn’t seem to help either. “Hawaii has the lowest unemployment rate of any state in recorded history, a good economic outlook, and — most attractive at this time of year — little chance of polar vortex or ‘bomb cyclones’. Yet in 2017 its population fell for just the third time since statehood in 1959. It only dropped a tenth of a percent, but that’s a worse showing than all but four states (Wyoming, West Virginia, Illinois and Alaska), according to a recent Census Bureau release. Which brings us to the core conundrum: people are leaving Hawaii even though the labor market is stronger than on the mainland, and even though it’s the high 70s in Honolulu this week. What could possibly be driving them away?” Do tell. “The preliminary seasonally adjusted [unemployment] reading for November was 2.0 percent — the lowest of any state since the Labor Department started keeping track in 1976, and less than half of the 4.1 percent national rate reported in November.” “A recent report from Bonham’s organization  [“Carl Bonham, economics professor and director of the University of Hawaii’s economic research organization”] projected continued growth for 2018, based on another record year of tourist arrivals, steady activity in the construction sector, and growth in health and tourism jobs. So why is anyone leaving? One answer trumps all others: home prices. Hawaii has the most expensive housing in the nation, according to the home value index from housing website Zillow. Rent costs trail only D.C. and (in some months) California. Overall, Hawaii had the highest cost of living of any state in 2017 (D.C. was higher), the Center for Regional Economic Competitiveness found, and housing was the main driver. It’s always been expensive to live in Hawaii, but it’s getting worse. There’s just not enough housing on the islands, and Hawaii now has one of the worst rates of homelessness in the country.” The morning’s Newark Advocate headlined their parent company’s USA Today: Report: Columbus among top 10 trending destinations in the world (Chris Pugh, 1-6-18). “The study, released this week by travel booking website Airbnb, lists the Ohio capital as the sixth most trending destination in the world based on bookings for the first part of 2018.” ““In the United States, Midwestern cities like Indianapolis and Columbus are seeing some of the strongest growth, driven by booming downtown districts humming with new restaurants, nightlife, and local arts,” the report reads.” Analysis recalls in the past Newark Mayor Jeff Hall making statements like wanting downtown Newark to be a “destination.” Butt weight, maybe that’s coming into fruition. The previous days Advocate headlined: Newark may see downtown, north end developments (Kent Mallett, 1-5-18). “Momentum from a flurry of recent Newark improvements should continue in the new year, according to commercial developer Steve Layman. Development should begin on the vacant city block bordered by South Third, South Fourth, Market and West Main streets. Front Room Furnishings will occupy the former Connell’s Furniture space on North 21st Street. And, the former Kroger property on Deo Drive could be developed this year. Other downtown and north end sites also have potential. “Newark is constrained a little bit because of available land, suitable and available for development,” Layman said. “But, I think there will be infill development — apartments, condominiums and medical offices. “The economy is good, there are jobs aplenty, and the cost of living is moderate. There’s good value here.”” More shine being peddled from the Hall of Newark: “While other cities are talking about what they can’t do, Newark is talking about what it is doing, Mayor Jeff Hall said. “You kind of have to get out and see what’s going on around and there aren’t a whole lot of cities in Ohio that got a lot going on,” Hall said.” Newark may not be an island. What is happening in Hawaii is relevant to Newark. Analysis has also recently noted that Columbus was ranked second in the nation in terms of economic inequality. The last Analysis checked, tourism is considered a service industry (along with “restaurant, nightlife, and local arts”). Service jobs make up the bulk of Layman’s “jobs aplenty.”  Where are these folks to live? And how are they to get to work from there? Nowhere in Mallett’s journalism was any mention made of affordable housing, the homeless or the inability to get to work within a greater Newark metro area of well over 50,000 lacking fixed route/schedule public transportation. Layman and company simply assume that if their real estate values increase (development), unemployment is low, and the cost of living is moderate for the upper third of wage earners, then all problems are solved (the “rising tide” article of conservative faith). The actuality of Hawaii begs to differ and throws a kink into this faith based gospel of eliding very real social problems. After all, pushing the problem somewhere else is no solution when there’s no ocean between. Eventually they bump into each other. Selling “Shine” is what our tabloid president does. Admitting the problem and addressing the reality of affordable housing and public transportation needs is a very doable first step.

Due to weather event the meeting below has been rescheduled for February 3, 2018, 10-12. See you there.

Jan 13 Transportation Meeting

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2018

January 1, 2018

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

What Is A Symbol Worth?

December 18, 2017

No, not what is its symbolic worth, but what is it worth to keep around, to have and to hold? What is the value of the Liberty Bell, the Statue of Liberty, the White House, etc. ? The USS Constitution, is it a symbol or a naval vessel? The Navy just spent part of its military budget to refurbish Old Iron Sides, which it still considers as a commissioned naval vessel. Its value as a warship is dubious, as a symbol, priceless. At its 12-18-17 meeting Newark City Council was confronted with this very question, and missed the opportunity to answer it. Curiously, the public comment on the value of the Gazebo was heard only as cost by the council members present. WIKI gives “In mythology, folklore and speculative fiction, shapeshifting is the ability of a being or creature to completely transform its physical form or shape. This is usually achieved through an inherent ability of a mythological creature, divine intervention, or the use of magic.” This would be an apt description of the Marvel Comics’ character of those elected, seated and charged with doing the public’s bidding. In his State of the City address, Mayor Hall touted “due diligence and open dialog” in helping to create the “improved destination” of downtown Newark, thanks in large part to all the business driving these improvements. He was long on praise for the purchase of the Cherry Valley Lodge but lost for words on the Basket Building debacle. It is reassuring to note that Newark is “poised to have another great year in 2018 with growth and improvement.” Several public comments inquired as to where the funding came for the late night massacre of the Gazebo, and what drove the decision. The halls of City Hall reverberated with innuendo regarding Hall’s move, saying the prime contractor for the courthouse renovation had “gifted” the labor, logistics and storage, eventually to be reimbursed with its reconstruction on the East Main Street site. The back story to this was all the closed door, county shapeshifter meetings held within the county annex years ago that awarded the courthouse renovation bid without regard of Ohio’s sunshine laws or competitive bidding. Other myths embraced by the city council shapeshifters were ones promoted by council person Lang regarding who he represents and why he should bother to value some community symbol. His reasoning was that his constituents don’t care. “What’s a gazebo?” he was told by one constituent, “I never go downtown” to the “improved destination.” This is the same myth that promotes publicly funded sports stadiums and convention centers as being of vital interest to the citizens of a community while appealing for those outside the community to partake and journey to the “improved destination” (and don’t forget to bring the plastic). This was another touted myth: “Have to work with private businesses” said the departing Carol Floyd. It seems the emphasis on the importance of business paying for it all (as well as benefitting from it all) by the cost conscious shapeshifters didn’t jibe with the public commenters impassioned pleas for the return of the gazebo. Stuart’s Opera House in Nelsonville just held a grand (re)opening. The back story is that years ago Stuart’s faced what Mayor Hall describes as “urban rehab” (demolition). Community funds were raised to restore it (and that included much more than the immediate constituency of the City of Nelsonville proper, Council Shapeshifter Lang). Shortly before its opening a fire destroyed the newly refurbished Opera House. Again the community raised funds to rebuild what was destroyed and eventually opened historic Nelsonville’s downtown symbol. Now another fire next door in 2015 almost reached the theater. Again the community was asked for funding to renovate and expand Stuart’s to its original. 12-7-17’s “The Next Stage Curtain Call Grand Opening” includes a new 4,000+ square foot lobby, and an Education and Community Center (The Athens News 12-4 and 12-7-17). Unsubstantiated is the claim that over $4 mil in funding was provided by the Nelsonville community to vitalize this symbol.  Analysis finds that to be the real sadness of the 12-18-17 Newark City Council meeting. The public commenters were saying “Why don’t you include us instead of pushing us out of downtown gentrification?” The shapeshifting council members were hearing “What will it cost in budgeted dollars and cents?” Even “open dialog” proponent, Jeremy Blake, used this as a reason for not offering an amendment (“the numbers just aren’t there”). Analysis finds the real pain to be that both sides are united in overwhelming agreement that the Gazebo most certainly is a symbol. Jefferson Davis monuments disappear because they are deemed divisive. We are unified by the Liberty Bell, the Statue of Liberty, the USS Constitution, Stuart’s Opera House and the Newark Gazebo. What is a symbol worth?

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).

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.”?

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.