Posts Tagged ‘Newark Ohio’

New Life For An Old Structure

February 12, 2017

Remember the basket building at the edge of town? Of course you do. Commuters driving by rubber neck daily for signs of decline, never admitting any morbid interest, but looking just the same. After a visit to the place by “business leaders”, and an assessment of futures value by Cheri Hottinger of what a great place it is (would make a terrific office of tourism), nothing else has been heard. But the tax bill increases, even as the City of Newark elides taking responsibility (or ownership). How about turning it into a state wide immigration reception and processing center? The Ellis Island of Ohio, right here in the heart of the heartland, downtown, er, town’s edge Newark! Think of the jobs it would create with the various state and federal agencies dealing with immigration, the requisite housing for new arrivals in a controlled centralized location, as well as the conference facilities for immigration related events, maybe even a living immigration museum, telling the story of where it all began (for some) (for most). The tour busses would return! A tourism center? Fuggetaboutit. Besides, immigration and the big basket share a lot in common. Cincy may have an underground railroad museum, but the interdependent story of African Americans and Euro Americans is not that of the immigrant. As Hegel pointed out, the master/slave relationship is a weird dialectic of power, need and reliance, both spoken and unspoken. The story of the immigrant, like that of the basket building, is one of uselessness, not being needed or wanted, being totally powerless (Will the building eventually disappear? Will the immigrant do likewise?). The alien architecture of the basket building is not located amongst the church spires and bank buildings of downtown Newark. Rather, like the alien immigrant, it is relegated to a specially annexed borderland of the city, out of sight, out of mind. The only company this alien construct has is the long distance relationship with the giant chair across the road. The immigrant shares a similar heritage with the building that bears the Longaberger nameplate hearkening an inspirational past of thriving and belonging, one that is forever lost, never to be revisited or regained. Ever present mourning, nostalgia and angst is an integral part of the immigrant life; something experienced only occasionally by Heisey, or Longaberger enthusiasts. The entire work ethic and skill that spawned the immigrant and the basket building is still looked upon with skepticism and suspicion in today’s America. Hand making baskets is akin to speaking another language. Unlike the basket building, most immigrants do not stay useless for long (or all arrive useless for that matter). Like Arnold Schwarzenegger, or Rupert Murdoch, most quickly assimilate into the conservative mainstream. But that’s a whole other story, one that the current administration might do well to consider (City, County, State, as well as Federal). So call your city council representative, the mayor, and county commissioners to tell them Newark needs immigrants. Better yet, call the folks with their hand on the handles of the basket building, Cheri or her husband, and tell them Newark needs an immigration reception and processing center. Like them, most immigrants come with one or both hands gripping the handles of their belongings. And the basket building even has those. What better place than the vacant basket building? What could be more perfect?

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All Dressed Up With No Bear To Go

January 16, 2017

Analysis can’t help but reflect on the closing of the Lil Bear in Downtown Newark. Yikes! This kind of reflective Analysis is a sign of aging. Didn’t anyone see it coming or was it as much a surprise as the passage of years on the critical writing of this blog? Does short term problem solving totally pre-empt long term thinking in the demands of today’s new capitalism? When this blog began the court house square in Newark was a counterclockwise one way, there were residential properties between Locust and the freeway, Canal Market was a parking lot and the Children’s Home was still standing on East Main Street. OK so The Advocate did an end of year countdown of “improvements” to Newark (a good bit of it new restaurants and businesses opening where others had previously been). But prior to the recent accomplishments, at the start of this blog, there were information news releases promoted by Grow Licking County, Downtown Business Association, Newark Development Partners, etc. And “consumer’s choice” sessions held at the hotel (same building, different name), library, etc. where residents could view various plans for projects and “pick” the development they preferred (not that it made any difference, but it was projected to feel like it did). As essayed in those early postings, the emphasis on the part of the planners and developers was to get people downtown. And the best way (according to the developers) was to make it easier for automobiles to do that (the idea of self-driving cars was still a ways off. Self-shopping cars to come?). A deaf ear or blind eye was turned to any conversation or serious consideration of any other form of mobility and access – pedestrian, bicycle, wheel chair, etc. The “choices” for decisions re: the square, one way street changes, downtown entrance/egress, were primarily cosmetic. It was already decided to tear down the Children’s Home, save the old jail in its stead, fulfill a philanthropist’s dream for the adjacent Canal Market, etc. etc. etc. All this was promised to bring the young urban hipsters into the downtown (again?), with tax credits and abatements renovating long vacant (and rotting) second and third floor building spaces so they’d have a place to rent. The new Canal Market District Farmers Market would make Newark a destination shopping attraction. Well, that market doesn’t open for at least another 6 months. What destination shopping attraction will the young urban hipsters (as well as ensconced area residents) utilize in the meantime when it comes to getting groceries and household necessities?  The food pantry outlets are already strained. Analysis would surmise that those with private transportation, cars (the developer’s preferred means of transportation), will use the new planned thoroughfares to access marginal shopping destinations for their everyday necessities. The attraction of downtown living was touted as ease of walking to jobs, not needing a car, etc. True, Analysis was amongst those who criticized much of the urban planning involved – the discipline and punish icon of the old pokey over the care and nurture history of the Children’s Home, the lack of pedestrian priority, the lack of public transportation to accompany the development, etc. Others, at the time, critiqued the process involved as well as the plan with the possibilities of failure. Unfortunately, no one bothered to imagine success. What if the new urban plan succeeded? The vast planned capital improvement project that is downtown Newark today implicated the end of the Lil Bear. Success is articulated through the fruition of the downtown’s capital improvement planning. Unfortunately for the Lil Bear, the onus was on “capital improvement”. Would the tax credits, abatements, and incentives that the McClain’s, Wallace’s, Layman’s and Argyle’s received have made any difference to the inevitable extinction of the Lil Bear (and others that likewise went belly up and departed)? Not. That would have required planning around human activities and processes, something that capital investment, by definition, ignores. What does success look like? What is it to live in this planned success projected for an actual human social community? Will all this capital invested in the downtown leave Newark all dressed up with nowhere to go?

Irony, Thy Name Is Newark

September 27, 2016

Reporter Sydney Murray writes “Filmmaker Michael Moore took to social media Sunday night to ask why the Midland Theatre wouldn’t let him film a live show about the upcoming presidential election.” (Michael Moore denied Midland Theatre show 9-26-16 Newark Advocate) The Midland itself gives many, varied and different self justifications, like “But officials at the Midland said in a post on its own Facebook page that the reasons for the denial of Moore’s request came down to the same three criteria they apply to all shows: timing, audience and finances.” The “Moore” interesting reasons come at the end of the article (of course). “But the Midland’s own social media response takes exception with Moore’s claims that he was banned from the theater. In addition to [Midland Theatre Executive Director Nancy] Anderson’s statements, the Midland Theater Facebook post said since Moore is a filmmaker and the show was not a film, it was unknown what the actual show would be, and whether or not there would be audience interest. Finally, the post says the performance was going to be a free event, but since the Midland still needed to staff the event and pay other fees, it was not a financially smart decision to host the show.” The irony of all this will not be missed by the engaged followers of the current rebranding of the new and hip gentrification called downtown Newark. After all, come the spring and downtown Newark will be turned into an independent film festival hub (Newark FAMFEST), centered primarily at The Midland, not profitable but funded just the same by outside contributors and dealing primarily with documentaries and Newark selfies. (Whew!) And who, dear reader, has had a more enormous impact on documentary film production (and town selfies) than Michael Moore? Irony, thy name is Newark.

 

Voter ID

September 14, 2016

“Evictions still on rise in Licking County despite recovery” headlines reporting by Jennifer Smola for The Columbus Dispatch (9-13-16). Smola writes that “The number of eviction cases filed in Licking County Municipal Court has steadily increased each year since 2010. Last year, the county logged 1,078 cases, an increase of 8.6 percent from a decade earlier, in 2006, before the Great Recession. The county is on track for a similar number this year, with 712 cases. The eviction hearings occur once every two weeks, and a court date late last month had 82 eviction cases — the most this year.” Later she reports the irony that “Regionally, mortgage delinquencies and foreclosure rates are down, according to a report last month from the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, which covers Ohio and parts of Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Kentucky. But despite those improvements, roughly 50 to 70 percent of low-income renters struggle with housing costs, the report said.” Bear in mind, dear reader, that Analysis has repeatedly covered the success story narrated by Tim Bubb and Grow Licking County. See his 2015 year in review (“A look back and ahead for Licking County” Newark Advocate 1-10-16). Indeed, overall unemployment places Licking County under 5%, within the state’s rate. And nationally the recovery is begrudgingly working, making the rich richer and the poor statistically not growing. So what gives with the growing evictions given the jobs are there along with “consumer confidence”? Smola considers “Despite low unemployment rates and reports of economic growth, the picture of recovery isn’t always as rosy as it’s portrayed to be, [local Newark activist David] Greene said. Wages remain low, and many jobs that are available locally are only part time, temporary or seasonal, he said.” Analysis reveals this to be an incomplete (and unsatisfying) explanation. A Wall Street Journal graphic from 6-21-16 (“Not Just the 1%: The Upper Middle Class Is Larger and Richer Than Ever” Josh Zumbrun) lists the various percentages of “class” population in the US. The poor (under $30,000 per year) at roughly 20%, the lower middle class (30-50,000) 17%, the middle class (50-100,000) comprises 32% and the upper middle class (100,000-350,000) at 29%. The rich (over 350,000) displace 2%. The 20% poverty rate has remained essentially flat lined for the last 50 years, yet evictions in Newark are growing. In a PBS Newshour article entitled “There’s less middle in the middle class as income inequality grows, Pew analysis finds” (5-12-16) Kai Ryssdal (Host & Senior Editor, PBS Marketplace) says “If you stop seven people — 10 people on the street, probably seven of them would say I am the middle class.” This is borne out by the WSJ “class” distinctions of “upper” middle class, middle class, and “lower” middle class instead of upper, middle and lower. Rich, middle class, and poor is how the politicians in this election year have divvied up the masses. More on this later. Ryssdal confirms Greene, but more completely: “Wages have been stagnant in this economy for decades now, right, which means incomes and household wealth are stagnant, which means there is more income inequality. And when you have income inequality, you have more going to the low end, you have more going to the high end, and those drivers of prosperity in America [the middle] are getting, as you said in the beginning, hollowed out.” The Pew findings, along with the WSJ article, find that although the poor and the rich have maintained the same percentage of population, the middle class (the middle) has shifted with roughly 2/3’s getting richer (increasing the percentage of the “upper” middle class) and 1/3 getting poorer (increasing the “lower” middle class). Not noted within the Fed report is that rents have been following the middle class, with landlords erring on the side of upward mobility in setting rents. More people today cannot afford rent though there aren’t statistically more “poor”. Politicians (Dem as well as GOP) have remained fixated on the rich, poor, middle distinction. With the poor remaining in stasis, no emphasis is placed on measures to create affordable housing. It is easier to speak of “jobs” as the solution. The 2/3 of the middle class that benefitted from the recovery would likewise explain the “base” that has materialized and supported the presidential candidacy of Donnie Trump. These folks have the most to lose with any political maneuvering that would integrate the “lower” middle class with the poor (creating an overall 37% of the population within a lower class status, in need of public support programs). It is this appeal to the fear of losing the gains accrued within the Obama recovery that drives the Trump candidacy. After all, the reality of loss is certainly manifest within the evictions suffered by those who did not benefit from the Obama recovery, the 37% in the lower class. Losses in the middle and “upper” middle class would not be found here, but rather in the Fed’s mortgage delinquencies and foreclosure rates. No wonder voter ID is such a huge issue. “If you stop seven people — 10 people on the street, probably seven of them would say I am the middle class.” But how many would identify as “upper’, middle or “lower” class?

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.

Where Credit Is Due

July 11, 2016

The news out of South Africa in the past half year is of public demonstrations, some of which have turned violent. The demonstrations are instigated by the perceived inequality, or lack of equal opportunity within the population. It primarily centers around the increase in the cost of public higher education, which in theory is to be available to all. The Zuma administration has met these protests with a censorship program based on a policy of “to show violence is to encourage it” resulting in a ban on news coverage of these demonstrations. This fueled a popular response, “Right2Know”, which in turn has ramped up even more demonstrations. Readers of this blog will recognize that the South African “right to know” appears quite akin to the “right to look” requisite for Analysis. Such measures to quell public unrest, and violence, would fail here in the US. The horse would never leave the gate. No, not because of opposition from the ACLU. “To show violence is to encourage it” underlies the nuanced, unmentionable marketing of the NRA and US gun manufacturers (“unmentionable” making for a twisted kind of self censorship). Sales of firearms (and the stock of their producers) are rising. Guns aren’t marketed like new cars or cell phones. Their marketing strategy is more like that of the Trump presidential campaign, reliant on current events and subtle insinuations (such and so MAY be…). Having the CDC study guns as a source of death, as a public health concern is a subtle encroachment of the constitution’s 2nd amendment (so celebrate your 2nd amendment rights by buying a gun. Hint, hint). The police themselves are under continuous imminent threat for their own safety. It is the citizen’s duty to help in keeping us all protected (purchasing a gun would contribute to public safety. Hint, hint). If only those good people victimized by mass shootings had each been carrying, the carnage would have been stemmed immediately (the only recourse to a bad person with a gun is a good person with a gun. Hint, hint). A “show violence but don’t encourage it” campaign would be of no consequence. It is the current status quo. “Just say no” (to showing or encouraging) was what Nancy Reagan championed with regards to the drug epidemic, and probably would be of equal effectiveness with gun violence. Analysis finds the last option, “to not show violence but encourage it”, to be the most intriguing. It almost sounds un-American. Scrutiny reveals it has the closest real life applications within US culture, primarily when it comes to marketing. “Don’t show it but encourage it” is almost the attitude toward pornography, gambling or bankruptcy. No need to look historically at the heady days of the Bush economy with its sub prime bundled securities and derivatives (all variations on don’t show but encourage). A recent Newark Advocate article (North Park Place project receives $250K in tax credits, Kent Mallett, 7-5-16) sheds light on the “don’t show but encourage” practice right here in downtown Newark. “Sarah Wallace, board chairwoman of First Federal Savings, and her husband, John, join Teri and Fred Lowinger, of Chicago, as building owners and partners in the project. Teri Lowinger’s grandfather was Herman L. Art, founder of nearby business H.L. Art Jewelers. “The tax credits make it possible for the numbers to work, to renovate these older buildings,” Sarah Wallace said. “My motivation is what can I do, personally, to help move Newark further forward.”” “Teri Lowinger grew up in Newark and wants to restore the building her grandfather once owned. The upper floors have been vacant for decades. “Teri is very excited about keeping the building,” Sarah Wallace said.” One aspect of the right to look is the right to entertain the question of why were these properties derelict and left neglected over the past 30 years? Aren’t the owners of these self same properties the very civic leaders who continuously championed Newark, and resented any criticism during this same time? If these self same properties had been left neglected and derelict within a residential neighborhood, like cars up on blocks or vacant houses and apartments (with “potential” value in their owners’ dreamed of future), would they still be around, let alone qualify for public funding and tax credits to “realize their potential” after 30 years? The reality with regard to the neighborhood, like that of the “endless” campaign to stem gun violence, is no. Public money would be found to demolish the structure and/or clean up the site (the self same public money that “demolishes” any restraints on gun ownership). What Analysis finds to be the insidious not shown, unseen here, is the certainty that many of these business (and civic) leader landlords who today celebrate their downtown revitalization (thanks to credits and breaks) promoted the development of Newark’s margins over the last 30 years. Their downtown holdings remained neglected and derelict while they hedged their bets. These self same likewise owned a stake in developing condominiums, housing and medical offices on the west side, and big box stores with strip malls on the north. Uptown, downtown, all around the town, credit is given to those who don’t show but encourage.

Out Of The Closet

June 25, 2016

The last of the Wolfe family to have been a publisher of the Columbus Dispatch passed away recently (The Dispatch having been sold last year). Obituaries, accolades and tributes remember him as being passionately involved in the formation and direction of Columbus though he preferred to work “behind the scenes”, not getting directly and openly involved in politics. Kinda like being a closet politician, huh? Newark appears to have a plethora of these, both currently in the political closet as well as those outed in passing. Presidential wannabe Donnie Trump has often described himself as such. A previous Newark Trump was a man named Kraner who piloted his own helicopter (OK, it was no jet). When one of the first area cell phone towers sprang up on Welsh Hills Rd. adjoining his estate, he declared it to be ugly, a hazard to his flying and swore to bring it down. It still stands. Mr. Kraner has passed on. This week America’s Trump appeared in Scotland at one of his golf courses. Coincidental with the UK’s Brexit referendum, media world linked the voting outcome with Mr. Trump’s own aspirations. Of course, the master of Twitter obliged. Analysis finds media world’s scoop to be incredibly incomplete, almost a tweet. Scotland had overwhelmingly voted in favor of remaining in the EU. Mr. Trump promoted the outcome as an awesome benefit for the Scots. The Scots themselves feel otherwise. They now want to break away from Great Britain and reconnect with the EU. Trump was at one of his newly developed golf courses to tout (what else?) its wonderfulness. Media world failed to mention that the golf course is an actual, historic wall built by Mr. Trump. Like Wexner’s buy out of properties to create the new (and improved) New Albany, Trump gobbled up properties on the site of his projected golf course. However, there were holdouts. Like Kraner, Trump declared these to be ugly and built an enormous earthen wall immediately adjoining their property in order to completely block their exposure to his golf course. The golf course side of the wall is landscaped to look like hills around the margins. Gated communities employ this same form of landscape architecture. Walls keep out more than just people. They also keep out what can be seen, and sees. For the Trumps of the world, there is no right to look. Like media world, Analysis does find a parallel between Mr. Trump’s 2016 presidential marketing, er, campaign and that of Brexit. Standing there in Scotland, saying that leaving the EU created greater value for Scotland (like tourism to fill his golf course) was superlative marketing. This was akin to selling coal to Newcastle considering that Scotland (like North Ireland) voted otherwise and are now moving to exit the UK. Here at home Analysis can imagine Trump appearing at a hospital proclaiming that it is in the best interest of public health not to have comprehensive national health care. Or consoling the next gun induced massacre occurrence by encouraging everyone to be armed at all times. Or telling precarious, part time, and temporary workers at a living wage rally that they should be thankful for a low minimum wage making their jobs possible. Like the Wolfes, Kraners, Wexners, etc. of the world, Trump is using his wealth and marketing to materialize his own personal vision. Unlike our local versions, he is not operating behind the scenes but in the open, out of the closet.

Large Margaritas

May 26, 2016

A quarter of a century ago there was a Mexican themed restaurant in Columbus located on High Street, just north of Hudson. It was trendy then to take in the latest food and drink start ups, much as seeing the latest movie release is today. The major draw was the huge (pre- Bernie, Trump and Hillary) margaritas, a must have if dining there. The place was very dark and dimly lit. The nothing-to- write- home- to-mother- about food was brought to the table by little street urchins with even a bit of mariachi music wafting in the air. Down home Mexico! Did Analysis mention that the margaritas were huge? Soon the place was closed up by the health department, and the proprietor (who personally served each enormous margarita with a welcoming grin) found himself in jail for violating child labor laws, working after hours, etc, (and maybe more). Protestations of family values aside, the kids weren’t exactly all his. This past week’s news related reporting dominating The Newark Advocate took Analysis back in the way back machine. Various testimonials were penned by Luconda Dager, Nathan A. Strum and Bryn Bird celebrating the economic vibrancy and success of Licking County business development, and how much good it is bringing to our area, our neighborhoods, our own back yard. Indeed, the Bird article touts the imminent (and inevitable?) wonderfulness of the new Farmers Market to open next to the historic county jail (fair trade/unfair trade, you get to experience a twofer with one stop). Bird is not alone. Various other news reporting, on other days, elaborate the inevitable (and imminent?) success of the nascent enterprise to be. This is not unusual reporting for the Advocate (as well as most large media outlets). In essence, the “news” reporting is one huge infomercial. Analysis witnessed this recently with the FamFest (second year in a row). Afterwards, not a peep of critique was reported as to the actual event itself. Considering the genealogy and history of funding and organization, the grand opening of the new Farmers Market will probably receive at least a photo spread. Trendy events usually warrant imagery, sans a wordy critique. An equally celebratory article, likewise of a business oriented nature, was “Grant may be sought to clean up gas station site” by Kent Mallet. The mayor (a land bank board member) and his administration are all a gush that they may obtain funding to rid the city of the derelict gas station at Mt. Vernon and Deo Drive (a veritable museum of how life was a quarter of a century ago before Obama stimulus money made the Deo Drive extension a “shovel ready “ priority). “Deputy Licking County Auditor Roy Van Atta, executive director of the land bank, said the site could be cleaned even without the grant, but it would cost about $80,000 to dig out the tanks. It could then be marketed for sale, possibly to an adjacent property owner, before the end of the year.” Of course, the property is virtually even more unmarketable than the South Second Street fraternal hall recently “sold” by the Licking County Land Re-utilization Corporation (for $100). The old gas station, as well as the defunct car wash across the way, had their useful life terminated when the extension relegated them to only one driveway for entrance/egress. But, as far as business is concerned, there is much to be celebrated by the Newark administration. At least for “Newark Service Director David Rhodes, who owns the adjoining property for his storage units.” Analysis projects more celebration with storage unit development in the future. Another story, also by Mallet, “County children services levy not covering expenses” was quite troubling, not celebratory in the least. Put bluntly, the County cannot afford to care for the abused, neglected and unfortunate minors entrusted to its care by statute. Analogous to the anecdote at the head of this posting, all is large margaritas for the business community. When the lights come on, the family value oriented businesses eschew these children as not exactly theirs. Is it so hard to imagine Cheri Hottinger and the Chamber celebrating, in partnership with the county, that funding is guaranteed for every client of Licking County Jobs and Family Services?

DIY Analysis

February 19, 2016

Analysis and theory, can’t find one without the other. Apple’s dictionary defines theory with “a supposition or a system of ideas intended to explain something, esp. one based on general principles independent of the thing to be explained” as well as “an idea used to account for a situation or justify a course of action”. Theory is often disparaged in favor of action or tradition, but even extreme conservatism (“because that’s the way it’s always been done”) is a theory in itself (“an idea used to…justify a course of action”). Sometimes theory is obvious, as in Kent Mallett’s “Land bank to eliminate Second Street eyesore” (2-18-16 Newark Advocate). Mallett quotes Newark Mayor Jeff Hall as saying “The purpose is to put properties back on the tax rolls.” That’s the theory. But wait, elsewhere Mallett writes “After the building has been razed, the vacant land will be sold to nearby business Gutridge Plumbing for $100.” and a little after that “He [Gutridge] said if the vacant building next to the Elks can someday be removed, the open space would be a good spot for a community center.” Does a community center put a property “back on the tax rolls”? Here’s another one for you. “CEO channels Bernie Sanders in opposing AEP and FirstEnergy plans” by Tom Knox for Columbus Business First (2-17-16). It covers the ongoing PUCO petition by AEP and FirstEnergy to bill Ohio electric users for keeping active and maintaining redundant coal fired power plants which are unnecessary and not profitable (kinda like a spare tire or battery, just in case…). Knox quotes competitor Dynergy Inc. CEO Bob Flexon as saying “For the Democrats, Flexon cited a way for Sanders to highlight his frequent and fervent lamenting of the country’s income inequality. “Bern runs around and he talks about how the game is rigged,” Flexon said. “The middle class is getting screwed. And quite honestly, folks, that’s how I feel about these PPAs. These only exist for Wall Street.” PPAs are power purchase agreements, long-term contracts that Ohio utilities American Electric Power Company Inc. and FirstEnergy Corp. want with their subsidiaries to reduce risk and guarantee income.” At the end he quotes him again with ““When Bernie Sanders says the middle class is getting screwed and Wall Street’s winning, this is an example of that,” Flexon said. “That’s what’s happening here and the only way you can fight it is to speak up. I’m going to lose the battle if it’s just Dynegy. We’ve been carrying the sword on this thing, fighting this thing and we’re just getting streamrolled by it.”” Which brings us back to theory, “a supposition or a system of ideas intended to explain something, esp. one based on general principles independent of the thing to be explained” as well as “an idea used to account for a situation or justify a course of action”. Sanders’ theory is the foundation of his presidential wannabeism. It certainly is not “the way it’s always been done”. Flexon’s theorizing about AEP and FirstEnergy’s proposed PPAs inadvertently exposes the more important, underlying theory of democracy (which Flexon appears to share with Sanders). Democracy itself, as a way of governing, is a theory, made possible only by a self governance through the active involvement and engagement of the governed into the affairs of governing (“That’s what’s happening here and the only way you can fight it is to speak up.” Sanders repeats an analogous appeal with all of his stump speeches.) Is AEP and FirstEnergy’s PPA proposal an example of the middle class getting screwed for the benefit of Wall Street? Is the game rigged?

The Year In Review

December 29, 2015

Walter Benjamin, the European critical thinker of the first half of the 20th century, conceptualized the future as an angel recoiling in horror before the onslaught of the present. Harry Shearer, the radio show host of the weekly “Le Show” (and former Simpsons voice, SNL cast member, etc.), culminates each year with a “Year In Rebuke” edition. Newark’s own Michael Shearer (Newark Advocate editor) devoted his December 27, 2015 editorial to a local year in review, filled with the accomplishments of the present that anticipate a future of progress and success (“2016 Holds Much Promise For Newark”). Michael’s angel of the future differs markedly from that of Benjamin or Le Show’s “Year In Rebuke”. For the editor of Newark’s only news source, the future lies with the Republican Party (“We hope Newark’s Republican administration and GOP-dominated city council will use their majority to responsibly and determinedly guide our city to sustainable prosperity and operational funding levels for many years to come.”); this in spite of the fact that THE news of 2015 constantly covered the incredible polarization and division of American civil discourse along party lines. This actuality of contention was continuously reported and commented on but never received attention in any media’s “year in review”. Many candidates for local office during the 2015 election made considerable effort to distance themselves from party identification and allegiance in order to better represent their constituents and enable the actual working of government to take on the challenges facing Newark in the upcoming year. Since 2010 we have had the party of the Advocate’s future hopes completely dominating Ohio’s legislature, executive branch, and judiciary. It has been pretty much ditto that on the micro level of Licking County and Newark municipal governance. Given Michael Shearer’s pinning his hopes on the performance of the past (embracing polarity over problem solving), it is not difficult to understand Benjamin’s angel of the future recoiling in horror before the onslaught of the present.