Posts Tagged ‘Newark Ohio’

We’ve Seen This Movie Before

June 24, 2022

            The nation’s news blockbuster this summer is God, Guns and Babies: God with the US Supreme Court ruling in favor of religious schools with equity of state public funding, Guns with the recent SCOTUS overturning of New York’s centuries old gun licensing regulation, and Babies with the Supreme’s latest hit single covering Roe. Is the reader beginning to detect a theme here? In Licking County Ohio the news has been pretty much a monogamous relation with Intel. Now Intel has floated the Idea of a possible split if they don’t get all of the expected dowry (kinda like old Elon Musk). Within the same week we get word that New Albany has agreed to a 30 year, 100% tax abatement for their suitor, Intel. Meanwhile, Intel has let slip that it won’t formally dive in without passage of the Chip legislation which has been languishing in congress. That legislation is to provide billions of dollars in federal subsidies to domestic micro chip manufacturers. No need to reference Fox Con’s Wisconsin debacle, heralded with much fanfare during the Trump administration (also another debacle, of a more sinister kind), and likewise on an enormous scale of jobs promised, economic redemption – Not! (but paling in comparison with Intel’s over the moon swooning) Licking County residents can’t tell if the current iteration of news they are forced to watch is a remake or rerun (does it matter?). They’ve seen it so many times before with the public private partnership deals made by JobsOhio, Grow Licking County, Newark Development Partners, as well as all the “just private” commitments to develop, only if the funding is provided by the state, county or municipality; usually in the form of tax credits (historic are the preferred genre), abatement or infrastructure subsidy, etc. They include, but are not limited to, things such as the Arcade, Central elementary apartments, “affordable housing” behind the north side Walmart (Not!), west and north Newark single family residential development, etc. All this involves community resources (public funding) used for the profits of private individuals (in archive news the Supremes designated corporations as individuals). It has all the earmarks of the “socialism” condemned by the right wing, free market fear machine. Only, because it is destined for Capitalist entrepreneurs, it can’t possibly be state sponsored socialism; more like state sponsored Capitalism which in the case of “Communist” China is considered negatively (how far off was Orwell?). The movie ends, as we all know, with the Intel tail wagging the Licking County dog.

Unspoken, And Unaccounted For

May 24, 2022

            Lots of continuous daily news dominates. In addition to the ever evolving Covid pandemic, there is the war in Ukraine, the politics of elections – current, past as well as upcoming – and the economy. Can’t forget the economy with its inflation, for which the preceding are given as reasons for its being. And here in Licking County Ohio the anticipated Intel workshop stains the daily news no matter what the reason (Analysis would say “sweatshop” but that’s no longer possible with the clean suits and clean rooms anticipated). Accompanying the near daily Intel stories are headlines like “280-acre commercial, industrial development coming to Harrison Township” (The Newark Advocate, 5-23-22) and other economic “growth” news. It is easy to overlook the weekly “Public Records” news published by The Advocate as this feature, easily obtained by the paper because it is a matter of public record (like the police blotter), has also been around for as long as, well, public newspapers. The 5-21-22 headline read “Public Records: Jersey Township property sells for over $4 million.” Both the headline, as well as the sale price, is not unusual. The history of area sales has been trending in this region for quite a long time. Market sale prices are not a “cause” of inflation, but certainly contribute. Scarcity is a primary “cause” of market pricing. Inflation’s poster child is the plethora of over priced flat screen TV’s available for immediate delivery. But Analysis digresses. It is hard to find “affordable” property transfers in the public records anymore. Million dollar plus sales are multiple each week. Most transfers are for residences in the 300K to 600K range. Below 100K is the exception. One thing unspoken with the market and inflation is that those earning a commission are experiencing a windfall despite doing no more actual work (labor) than if there were no inflation. Such is also the case with Licking County Ohio. For each $1,000 in sale price, the county receives a conveyance fee of $2. Considering, with Intel and all, that million dollar properties are now the norm, unexceptional, the County is taking in a premium of tax revenue without any additional labor. When it comes to County infrastructure spending (the “labor”), the County primarily draws on ARP, Federal Infrastructure Bill funding as well as State Intel assistance. Isn’t it time for Rick Black, Tim Bubb, and Duane Flowers to give back, and pay forward by investing public revenue in affordable public housing? The relationship between those without a house (the homeless), the scarcity of available affordable housing, and the million dollar real estate market couldn’t be any clearer.

One Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words

January 23, 2022

            The latest big news out of Licking County this past week also happened to make the national news. Intel is projecting to build (and install) a 20 billion dollar chip manufacturing facility (no, not the crunchy kind). It is to be located on the western border of Licking County with Delaware and Franklin Counties, just north of the New Albany business park complex. For someone visiting from Mars (no, not Elon Musk) it would only naturally look like an extension of Les Wexner’s New Albany (minus the white fence). Remember the multi million dollar freeway extension built specifically to link Les’s Easton with New Albany? But this digresses. Intel put out many “artist’s renderings” of the proposed project (does any reader recall the excitement over the artist renderings of the proposed “affordable” housing to be located behind Walmart on N. 21st St?). Most are from a drone cam point of view (surveillance is so today!). The prominent one being circulated the most shows a 7 story main building with the fab units receding to the zero perspective point in the back, and the main building surrounded by acres of parking lots (and cars) in the foreground. There is not a public transit kiosk or Disneyesque monorail terminal to be found. So much for IT being concerned with a carbon footprint, or building with the latter part of the 21st century in mind. No, it’s all going to happen by car over freeways, most of which lie outside Licking County. It is a race to the Los Angeles freeway rush hour bottom (or Boston, NYC, Chicago, or even, gasp, Cols.). But the breaking news announcement was staged in Newark, the county seat that identifies itself as just a small, all American town in the middle of a rural Ohio county. The fab plants’ location is a huge feather in the red MAGA cap of the county’s three GOP commissioners. It is something to continue the “Aw Shucks’ rural (us) vs urban (not us) identity paddy cake that has been going on for decades. Since the plant is on the margins of New Albany, and has access to CBus amenities, urban problems like affordable housing, child care, public transportation, hunger or access to medical care are someone else’s (what me worry?). The “Aw Shucks” rural small town of Newark can maintain its timeless aura, and appeal (like the pedestrian friendly downtown “destination” for which you need a car to access). Just so long as the 3,000 projected Intel employees pay the county taxes. JobsOhio has seen to it that Intel and its executives won’t.

The Role Of Flo In Learned Helplessness

January 2, 2022

            “Since winning a third term in 2019, Mayor Jeff Hall has faced some difficult times, including the death of Police Chief Steve Baum in March and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.” (Newark Mayor: Tough times in ’21; new leaders, housing, developments in ’22. Kent Mallett, Newark Advocate, 1-2-22). There’s an insurance company ad running currently in the media. In it Flo is trying to get a focus group to talk about the product they’ve just had the occasion to watch on the big screen monitor. Their response is “what product?” They have no clue what it is about since the video featuring the product seemed too much like an ad. They just block out ads that appear on screen. Mallett’s Sunday front page article would absolutely fit in perfectly with Flo’s promotion. Who reads this stuff? Unless you are integral to the operation of the GOP favorite’s machine (as Human Resource Director Bill Spurgeon must be), own properties in town (like Service Director Dave Rhodes) or are key to their development (as in Mark Mauter, Development Director), there isn’t much there for you. Sure, Covid is in the opening line, but other than being addressed as an inconvenience to the efficient operation of the business, er, city, it is regarded as a painless nuisance. When did you ever hear Mayor Hall come out and say “I feel your pain”? Suffering the pandemic akin to suffering the opioid/meth epidemic? Naaa. Any mention of the residents of Newark, the actual people, any insights on addressing their concerns or issues? Nada. As Mallett’s headline succinctly and pithily states, there isn’t anything covered that would fall outside the purview of the Newark good ole boy’s patronage network of property and largesse. Mallett affirms this by quoting the Mayor himself: ““Your job is always to try to hire within and try to see where your talent is,” Hall said. “I think that’s preferred. To properly manage this town, you’ve got to know the town. A lot of times you can attract people from outside the community, as larger cities do, and they don’t understand the culture, sometimes, in the community. I think they need to understand Newark pretty well. So, you’re always looking internal to see what can work.” (Kinda sounds like something Sparta Mississippi Police Chief Gillespie would say. Newark = Sparta? Naaa. Couldn’t be.)  Analysis finds it to be an understatement to speculate that most local readers just shut out this political ad. The three time mayor is pretty well counting on this. It is included in his plans to run for a fourth term.

Another Lesson In The Reproduction Of A Learned Lack Of Imagination

November 6, 2021

            The 2021 election was this past week. All 8 Newark City Council seats were contested. All 8 went Republican though two races involved incumbent Democrats and one open seat was previously Democrat. The national news spotlight was on what took place in states like Virginia, New Jersey, or cities like Seattle, Minneapolis, etc. Their spin and prognostications were all about the upcoming 2022 mid terms as well as 2024 presidential election. But Newark reality speaks even more sadly than any of these Nostradamus’ crystal ball gazing’s. Conventional analysis swirls around turnout, charisma and politics as a game. The Licking County Board of Elections gives county wide registered voter turnout at 24.2% of total eligible. Since the GOP won, there is no talk of fraud or the election being rigged. Low turnout seems to favor the GOP. Yet precinct statistics show that is primarily who turned out, with the 1st and 7th ward having a percentage of eligible voters casting ballots at just above 11%, and the  5th showing a close to 30%. Margin of victory, even with low turnout, was consistent with the state average of 55% to 45% (with Newark roughly 60/40). Flag loyalty (party designation) appears to continue as the dominant factor in voting preference. This was evidenced by the veritable lack of charisma with the majority of winning candidates. Given a police line up, most voters who cast ballots couldn’t pick out their next batch of city government, let alone individual ward representative. Veritable unknowns now decide for the residents of the 1st and 7th district. Again, low turnout has much to do with where to reside made by aspiring politicos. Finally, politics as a game. If it were so, then the next two years will witness a game played with all the playing pieces having the same color and significance. A perverse kind of equality by virtue of no difference. And that’s where Newark’s outcome speaks sadness. Difference has no seat on the 2022 Newark City Council. Difference will have no representative to plead its case, promote its ideas. Nothing to temper power or ambition. Main street has become a one way. Analysis finds a learned lack of imagination to be the primary reason for the abysmal voter turnout. Newark’s 2021 election results provide another lesson in the reproduction of a learned lack of imagination. Will a lack of imagination help solve the city’s very real problems in 2022?

Didactic Interlude

October 10, 2021

            This year’s Nobel Peace Prize recognized two journalists, Dmitry Muretov and Maria Ressa, “for their efforts to safeguard freedom of expression, which is a precondition for democracy and lasting peace” No coincidence that here, in the polarized politics of the US of A, journalists are the favored whipping boy of diverse ideologies. Here, in central Ohio, journalism is essentially whatever the Gannett corporation dictates it should be, retaining ownership of just about all the small town papers as well as the Columbus Dispatch (and many more outside the state’s center). How does all this square up — ”the precondition for democracy,” the media being the source of the demise of democracy, and the monopoly on what locals are privy to see and know about their small towns? Today’s Newark Advocate provides some insights as to how this is. The headline “Newark south end residents say they live in fear in their neighborhood” (Kent Mallett, 10-10-21) is pretty sensational. It effectively positions the reader’s response. The extensive article starts off with “South end Newark residents say they live in fear of people they see on the streets who may be on drugs or struggling with mental health issues, probably homeless, and possibly stealing from the area.” It then transitions to being about a “problem” (the source of the fear), and what is being done about it (the community’s response). This then transitions into how the problem is being dealt with by the city (the community) which covers police and carceral services as well as non city behavioral health resources. Mayor Jeff Hall, who is on record as being opposed to spending any city resources to address the problem, is quoted by Mallett: “Mayor Jeff Hall told the residents, “I’m sorry that’s going on in your neighborhood. It is a complicated issue, it’s not an easy one to fix, but that doesn’t mean we ignore it. We’ll have discussion. When you come in, we talk about it, so it’s not to deaf ears, trust me, we do talk about it.”” The bulk of the article bemoans a lack of police resources, the Covid challenge at the County jail, and the hope for a new outreach program through Behavioral Healthcare Partners of Central Ohio. Interwoven throughout the reporting is the underlying tacit understanding that homelessness, and the homeless, are “the problem” (for if they had a residence they wouldn’t be generating fear throughout the neighborhood). “It is a complicated issue.” (Newark Mayor Jeff Hall) Really? If your gas gauge shows empty, you fill up with gas to solve the problem. Speaking of which, the city promoted the destruction of perfectly sound, inhabitable community housing stock for the sake of the development of an urban truck stop on N 21st street (with no provisions for replacement). Mallett does let this slip (just barely) with: “The federal moratorium on evictions ended recently, and Licking County evictions have increased from 136 in the first quarter of the year to 158 in the second quarter to 219 in the third quarter.” But this is followed up by a one line nod to a grassroots effort to address this debacle. Analysis finds the bulk of the article to perpetuate the misinformation that homelessness and the homeless are “the problem” not able to be solved by city government resources. It furthers the misconception that evictions, as well as being without a house, are inextricably linked with criminality, mental health, and a lack of moral compass (aka personal responsibility). “It is a complicated issue.” (Mayor Jeff Hall) Bull shit. Other cities, both here in the US of A as well as abroad, have dealt with it through providing housing for those without any. In Newark the misinformation molding the perception of those finding themselves without a house is reproduced and perpetuated by a monopolistic news journalism which bolsters the ideological polarity that undermines “the precondition for democracy.” Nowhere in Mallett’s report was any alternative view, approach or outlook on the matter of housing those without a house presented. Across the US of A (as well as elsewhere) the problem is being addressed and met. Why not here?

Vigilante Justice – it’s not your grand dad’s variety anymore

September 2, 2021

            The news today was of the SCOTUS 5-4 decision to let stand, for the time being, a new Texas law outlawing abortion after 6 weeks of pregnancy. What makes the law unique and different from other state early pregnancy termination legislation is that it also outlaws state enforcement of the law’s mandate by government entities. It does, however, make provisions for a kind of citizen arrest, allowing for civil suits to be executed on anyone violating the law through being involved with the facilitation of an abortion after 6 weeks. This citizen enforcement, through civil suits, is a kind of vigilante justice in that the prosecution, as well as the police power, is left up to individual citizens. In the case of the Texas law, these vigilantes would be the collective of citizens found in the various right to life organizations. And Governor Abbot’s vigilante posse is saddled up and ready to ride. The AP’s Stephen Groves headlined “GOP-led states see Texas law as model to restrict abortions” (9-2-21) signaling that other states with GOP legislatures and governors are ready to follow suit (especially given the SCOTUS imprimatur). Based on its track record with ALEC and other “model” legislation, Ohio will no doubt join the other ditto heads. Today news pundits and analysts have parsed the SCOTUS decision with an eye on Roe v Wade. Analysis shows there is more at stake than that since at its core the law is about outlawing something locally which is currently legal federally by means of locally legitimated vigilante justice. It is the obverse of present day marijuana legislation locally made legal while federally being illegal. What if the federal law allowed for marijuana (or alcohol) possession/consumption and the local (state) law was modelled after the Texas anti abortion legislation that just went into effect? No government enforcement allowed but individual citizens could sue anyone aiding, abetting, or providing marijuana (sold or shared) with a minimum award guaranteed (essentially a bounty for enforcing the law). Hitting closer to home, or rather the homeless, we have Newark Ohio’s Mayor Jeff Hall who is all for homeless shelters, as long as they are not in the city of Newark. What if the GOP dominated city council would oblige the Mayor a’ la the Texas model? SCOTUS has ruled repeatedly that being homeless is not illegal. The Newark city council, with the mayor’s approval, could now enact a legitimate end run, forbidding government enforcement but allowing any citizen or posse to sue anyone who provides comfort, aids or recognizes the homeless within the city of Newark. This legal methodology could also be used to reintroduce legitimate redlining and racial segregation. The possibilities are endless. Vigilante justice – it’s not your grand dad’s variety anymore.

New Life For An Old Structure (Again)

January 15, 2021

[With the breaking of the latest news by the Newark Advocate’s Kent Mallett (Longaberger basket building won’t become hotel, on market for $6.5 million, 1-15-21) Analysis chose to rerun this oldie (but goodie) from 4 years ago (2-12-17). For those of you keeping score at home, this line from Mallett’s recent reporting is most telling: “The best use for the building will be its original purpose as office space, which will not require much interior work, [Brandon] Hess said. The remodeling to convert into a hotel had not begun, he said.”]

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?

Newark Ohio Iconoclash

June 21, 2020

In past posts Analysis has been following the current Iconoclash rather marginally. Nationally (and internationally) the monuments and names keep coming down, the latest being Monmouth University’s building named in honor of Woodrow Wilson. No such bounty of figurative sculpture or names to be found in Newark Ohio; mostly religious icon’s or heroes of industry found on church or business private property. Why’s that? The bronze figures around the square are a pre-MAGA visualization of life as it ought to be; more a tribute to the effectiveness of Walt Disney “in reverse” surveillance technology (if you are good, Mickey will smile on you) than celebrations of any specific person or individual. And the building names, or buildings themselves? Analysis began this blog over 7 years ago enumerating who owns downtown Newark. Most properties are gov’t, church, or corporate owned, with many corporate entities established for that specific property ownership. Ditto building names. The culture has been efficiently anaesthetized through the removal of any structure strongly evocative of history, or the repurposing of those deemed “interesting.” The blog followed the demise of the old Children’s Home on East Main Street, and the repurposing of the downtown Gazebo as replacement. And what of the Roper factory smokestack, the railroad roundhouse, or the east end hospital? Evidence of the city’s actual history has been erased and replaced by branding icon’s like the Basket Building, Canal Market (next to the moldy old county jail), and The Works (Ohio Center for History, Art and Technology). The “branded history” names follow the same “made for general audience consumption” fantasy history as the bronze figures scattered around the square. Yet nationally (and internationally) the statues and names keep coming down. The Iconoclash grows more intense, threatening to topple a Presidency. The optimists point to all this as a beginning, the beginning of a genuine conversation of history, race, and the continuous effects of slavery. An uncomfortable conversation to be had, we are told. Certainly not what one would celebrate with bronze figures around the Newark Courthouse Square. Why Not? The history of slavery and the US, both AS the US as well as with the creation of the US, is premised in a conversation far more uncomfortable than race. THAT conversation IS celebrated continuously around the Courthouse Square in downtown Newark. No matter the volumes of philosophic tomes justifying the rational legitimacy of private property ownership (9/10ths of the law), in the end it comes down to the history and origins of Capitalism. At some point, somewhere, Capitalism requires that something has been acquired from nothing, which allows for the establishment of property and value; whether it be the resources of an entire continent where the inhabitants are not considered human, or labor as a resource, by being considered as owned property (or indentured — as family). Something must cost nothing (be there for the taking, with or without guile). And it is this “costs nothing” which makes the conversation so uncomfortable, and uncertain, in Newark Ohio.

Downtown Abbey

September 6, 2019

Polarity comes in many shapes and sizes. Some may be completely surprising. One such is this week’s Our View from The Advocate Editorial Board (Our view: Downtown Newark a jewel for the entire community, The Newark Advocate, 9-6-19). A teaser headline for this editorial reads “Our view: Downtown Newark a jewel to be proud of.” The editorial itself is filled with kudos for the hard work, ingenuity and resilience of the downtown business community and “civic” leaders for changing the façade of the Newark courthouse square in a matter of 10 years or so. These are substantiated by “facts” which cannot be dismissed. Analysis found the line, “No longer is downtown simply home to attorneys and government workers as restaurants, shops and even manufacturing have recently opened.” to be disarming, an attempt to “bring us together behind a winning team.” Like a family house where renovations still leave the kitchen as kitchen, bath as bath (with maybe an addition) and rec area as rec, etc., so Newark’s downtown still is focused on the government as county seat (and municipal center). Restaurants are still in the same buildings as before; ditto offices, banks and retail. The editorial hints at the “behind the scenes” SID (Special Improvement District) helping to make it possible with its tax (that it gets to use on itself) and special rent-a-cop for parking enforcement. The board’s view just skims the government money that went into the “federally mandated project to reduce stormwater overflows” but doesn’t go further behind the scenes to expose the publicly funded tax incentives, tax credits and subsidies provided to make the jewel shine. Analysis finds it not to be a case of disparagement but rather an encouragement to point out that a truly great city has a vibrant downtown AND social responsible programs for what the vibrant downtown requires. Polarity need not apply. Newark’s “civic” leaders, unfortunately, prefer the polarity of This or That, but not Both. A city of 50,000+ would have some sort of reliable, fixed schedule, accessible public transportation. Newark has opted to have none with no taxi, fixed bus route, or on demand transportation available. During the jewel’s creation, no affordable housing was ALSO created. Newark’s mayor would prefer that those without a house live outside the city limits. The health department opts to deny the material existence of narcotics addiction through a focus on law enforcement, abstinence, and prevention rather than a hands on approach of a needle exchange and recovery centers. The list continues with community centers (youth as well as seniors), food banks and recreation facilities being mostly marginalized, away from the downtown center; access to which requires some form of transportation. A truly great city is not polarized. It is proud of what it has to offer its business community AND its resident population, BOTH. Newark can do better. What The Advocate editorial board presents is like a made for TV movie, a Downton Abbey of sorts, with its unspoken tale of those who serve and make the manor jewel possible without receiving any due. But then again, a really great city would have a news source that fairly and equally covers the landlords AND the tenants, BOTH.