Posts Tagged ‘Newark Think Tank’

Seat At The Table

January 20, 2017

The news of the last two months has been over charged with speculation and imagination as to “what the new administration will be like, do, etc.” In less than 24 hours the news will be what the new administration IS like, doing, etc. On the cusp of the change Washington DC’s The Hill reports “Trump team prepares dramatic cuts” by Alexander Bolton (1-19-17). “Staffers for the Trump transition team have been meeting with career staff at the White House ahead of Friday’s presidential inauguration to outline their plans for shrinking the federal bureaucracy, The Hill has learned.” “The proposed cuts hew closely to a blueprint published last year by the conservative Heritage Foundation, a think tank that has helped staff the Trump transition.” “The Corporation for Public Broadcasting would be privatized, while the National Endowment for the Arts and National Endowment for the Humanities would be eliminated entirely.” In parallel articles on this speculation, Deadline Hollywood claims that these three entities received .016% of the $4.6 trillion US budget in FY2016. Artnews reports that the NEA’s portion is .003%. The Hill goes on to state: “At the Department of Justice, the [Heritage Foundation] blueprint calls for eliminating the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services, Violence Against Women Grants and the Legal Services Corporation and for reducing funding for its Civil Rights and its Environment and Natural Resources divisions. At the Department of Energy, it would roll back funding for nuclear physics and advanced scientific computing research to 2008 levels, eliminate the Office of Electricity, eliminate the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy and scrap the Office of Fossil Energy, which focuses on technologies to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.” Last week The Advocate ran a routine announcement: “The Newark Think Tank on Poverty will have a general meeting from… Plans for 2017 will be discussed.” Along with many events, the weekend’s icy weather also cancelled this meeting. Analysis finds the final line of its announcement to be more than prescient. The Think Tank’s mission is to obtain “a seat at the table” that concerns its participants – Job and Family Services policy making, Food Pantry distribution decisions, public transportation initiatives, etc. Analysis shows that planning for 2017 may be time well spent by organizations like The Newark Think Tank. Speculative news reporting culminating in what The Hill just presented definitely interrogate whether it is safe to assume that there even will be a table to vie for a seat at in the new administration.

Make Licking County Rural Again

November 13, 2016

Analysis would like to cover the recent Newark Think Tank meeting held at the new Denison University Art Space at 23 W. Church on 11-12-16. The Think Tank continues to offer provocative and informative speakers at its monthly meetings. This time it was a combination of the Licking County Housing Coalition and Knox Area Transit (Public Transportation in Knox County). The focus of the Housing Coalition’s presentation was on the housing service being offered to veterans in Licking, Knox and Coshocton County. An incredible effort is being made to provide immediate service to any disabled vet or for any not dishonorable discharge vet no matter their background or history. This would include, but not be limited by, small dollar crisis support, immediate shelter, as well as longer duration shelter in the form of room and/or apartment location. Some insights not readily perceived were mentioned such as no new affordable housing is (or has been) created in the area, that apartment rents begin around $700 a month with rooms running at about $300 and that vets, like everyone else, have pets, history and other attachments that can make finding a residence trying. As one reason for the rate of rents increasing, the speaker identifies Licking County as an extension of the greater Columbus metropolitan area. Many fixed income residents find their monthly income to be only slightly higher than the rent. How do you pay for food, medicine, utilities and transportation? The latter was covered by the speaker from Knox Area Transit who described their ever growing public transportation services and what went into making it so. The service is county wide and supports a Mt. Vernon shuttle service (4 lines covering the entire city) that is curb to curb as well as a single line, stop to stop Mt. Vernon-commercial district-Gambier loop shuttle service. These cost a dollar a ride and operate during the day (week) and Saturday (as well as evening for the loop). Transfers are free within the system. The KAT also has the original, on demand transportation that Licking County Transit utilizes, charged on a per ride basis, door to door (schedule ahead). Analysis finds it important to note that most of Licking County’s elected officials like to identify Licking County as a “rural” county when discussing services or rather denial of services to its residents while Knox County really is primarily rural. Not only is it a county with a smaller population, but the city of Mt. Vernon is approximately 1/3 the size of Newark. Very startling to note is that none of the Knox County municipalities served by the KAT abut each other. Gambier or Danville are not just over the city line of Mt. Vernon as Granville or Heath are to Newark. In fact, the corridors of Buckeye Lake, Hebron, Heath and Newark, as well as Etna, Pataskala, New Albany and Johnstown are, for all intents and purposes, seamless except in name. It would have been an embarrassment for the Licking County Transit if it had also been asked to make a presentation (an employee in attendance as much as admitted so). Newark is a bedroom community for residents working “elsewhere”, with no “within the city limits” industrial/commercial development. The last census count reported by the Advocate gave non-owner occupant residential housing at 47%. Analysis finds perpetuating the great rural past as an alibi for the County’s negligence in providing metropolitan level services in affordable housing and public transportation to be tawdry, misinforming, and just plain wrong.

Licking County Prosecutor Race

October 11, 2016

In a previous posting (Unbearable 9-2-16) Analysis covered the FED UP rally in Newark on 8-31-16. At that event the recent desired change in disposition of the municipal police department was promulgated. Newark police would attempt to consider drug addiction as a disease if the afflicted turned themselves in at headquarters and requested help to overcome their problem. Otherwise, out on the streets, it would still be handled as a criminal offense. This was heralded as a good first step. At the Newark Think Tank prosecutor race candidate forum (10-8-16) the matter again came up as a topic of difference between Bill Hayes and Chris Shook. Mr. Hayes is not keen on the Newark PD program in that, as prosecutor, he stresses following the letter of the law. He would like to see any drug protocol changes across the board so that one municipality is not arresting a suspect that another municipality would be referring for treatment. Chris Shook would like to see a distinction made within the judicial proceedings for offenders where the court recognizes this as a disease (and mediates treatment), and cases where the treatment option would not be appropriate and possession remains criminal. Mr. Hayes is the current legislative representative for southeastern Licking County in the Ohio House (and has been) while Mr. Shook is active with the court in Franklin County (where there is a drug court for those vetted as better off in rehab than jail). As mentioned in Unbearable, at the rally the Ohio legislature was lambasted for caving to the lobbying of the pharmaceutical industry in failing to mandate prescription opioid pills be only available in a form that cannot be reconstituted for injection or inhalation, but can only be ingested as prescribed. “Too expensive” was the industry position. Mr. Hayes’ background making law, as opposed to “following” it, was not questioned at the forum, nor was his legislative record considered in light of his candidacy. Governor (and former presidential wannabe) John Kasich and Attorney General Mike DeWine have championed the elimination of pill mills (one stop prescription and dispensaries) in southern Ohio. Unfortunately the trail goes cold there with the business friendly governor and representative Hayes not wanting to ask who profits from all this. Analysis indicated that opioid addiction was “good for the bottom line” of the private prison industry (Unbearable). It is also good for the bottom line of the industry manufacturing and distributing the prescription pills. On the same day of the forum (10-8-16) Eric Eyre , Staff Writer for the Charleston Gazette-Mail reported on the ongoing prosecutorial action of the West Virginia attorney general with Cardinal Health of Dublin Ohio (a major source of “Jobs!” in the central Ohio region for those of you keeping score at home). From the article headlined “Drug firm shipped 241M pain pills to WV over five years, suit alleges”: “Oxycodone (sold commercially as OxyContin and Percocet) and hydrocodone (Vicodin and Lortab) are the most widely abused prescription painkillers, and contribute to more overdose deaths in West Virginia than any other drug. West Virginia has the highest drug overdose death rate in the nation, and the number of deaths climbed last year.” “Former West Virginia Attorney General Darrell McGraw filed suit against Cardinal Health in 2012, alleging the company helped fuel the state’s prescription drug problem by shipping massive quantities of pain pills to rogue pharmacies. Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, who lobbied for two drug trade groups that represented Cardinal Health before he ousted McGraw, inherited the lawsuit when he took office in 2013. He later stepped aside from the case after the Gazette-Mail reported on his ties to the drug wholesaler. His wife, Denise Henry, is a lobbyist for Cardinal Health in Washington, D.C.” (“Cardinal Health has paid Morrisey’s wife’s lobbying firm, Capitol Counsel, $1.4 million since Morrisey became attorney general, according to lobbying disclosure reports. His wife has lobbied for Cardinal Health on Capitol Hill since 1999. Cardinal Health also contributed $2,500 to Morrisey’s inauguration party in 2013.”). Back on track again, the public disclosures (something representative Hayes eschews and attorney Shook favors) show clearly that the opioid addiction epidemic is certainly good for the bottom line of more than just the private prison industry. Some items to note from the Gazette-Mail article : “Between 2007 and 2012, Cardinal Health shipped 85.5 million oxycodone pills and 155.6 million hydrocodone pills to West Virginia. That’s 154 doses of hydrocodone for every man, woman and child in the state over five years, and 85 oxycodone pills for every person.” “Over five years, Dublin, Ohio-based Cardinal shipped 8.8 million hydrocodone tablets and 1.8 million oxycodone pills to Logan County. Pharmacies in McDowell County, one of the poorest counties in the nation, received 3 million hydrocodone pills and 1.5 million oxycodone pills. “Cardinal distributed much of the fuel for the prescription drug problem in this state,” the lawsuit alleges.” Like with Wells Fargo’s recent massive credit service sales initiative (deemed marginally as well as outright fraudulent), there are similar reports of pharmaceutical industry giants employing like tactics in boosting sales. And the numbers show it. An American Journal of Public Health report from Feb. 2009 (The Promotion and Marketing of OxyContin: Commercial Triumph, Public Health Tragedy, Art Van Zee, MD author) gives: “When Purdue Pharma introduced OxyContin in 1996, it was aggressively marketed and highly promoted. Sales grew from $48 million in 1996 to almost $1.1 billion in 2000.” “OxyContin’s commercial success did not depend on the merits of the drug compared with other available opioid preparations. The Medical Letter on Drugs and Therapeutics concluded in 2001 that oxycodone offered no advantage over appropriate doses of other potent opioids.” “Purdue pursued an “aggressive” campaign to promote the use of opioids in general and OxyContin in particular. In 2001 alone, the company spent $200 million in an array of approaches to market and promote OxyContin.” Cardinal health is only one of a dozen prescription drug wholesalers operating in West Virginia. More recent statistics on sales and aggressive marketing strategy are available. Analysis indicates that separating making the law from enforcing it is not the same as being on this or that side of a curtain, as Bill Hayes would like voters to believe. Promoting a business friendly agenda (as Governor Kasich would put it) while solving a devastating social epidemic that implicates business, requires prosecuting all involved with the crime. ““This is not like you sold a broken toaster,” [WV Delegate Don] Perdue said. “You’re selling stuff that can break people. Drug wholesalers have not ever taken responsibility for this, but they’re part of the [drug] supply chain, and as part of that chain, they should be cognizant of that responsibility.” (Gazette-Mail)