Posts Tagged ‘Public Private Partnership’

Whatever Is Good Will Appear

February 9, 2020

In the previous post (Food For Thought, 2-6-20) Analysis wondered what the barriers of voter suppression were in Newark Ohio. Even more importantly, why was no one speaking of them? As a partial response to the novel coronavirus, a 1,000 bed hospital was just built in China in 10 days. The Empire State Building was built in one year, in the midst of the Great Depression. Last year an abandoned 9,000 square foot Family Dollar building was purchased with the announced promise of becoming a homeless shelter in the heart of Newark Ohio (Evans Foundation to buy former Family Dollar for Newark homeless shelter, Kent Mallett, Newark Advocate 7-27-2019). Also in 2019 the city’s public/private partnership, Newark Development Partners Community Improvement Corporation, “announced the purchase of the Arcade. The purchase includes all real estate located at 15 Arcade Place, including the entrances facing North Third and North Fourth streets, commercial property extending east and west between the entrances, approximately 22 commercial spaces inside the arcade and the potential for 15 to 20 residential units above the area.” (Historic downtown Newark Arcade sold, renovations planned, Benjamin Lanka and Kent Mallett, Newark Advocate, 11-23-19), also in the heart of Newark Ohio. Which development do you believe will be completed first? Indeed, to call the Family Dollar building a ‘development’ would be a gross misnomer, verging on (Gasp!) misinformation. Though the word ‘development’ appears in the name of Newark Development Partners, which was involved with both projects (along with Newark’s shadow prime minister, Dan DeLawder), the word ‘development’ doesn’t appear at all in Mallett’s Evans Foundation article. But the final lines of Lanka and Mallett’s Historic downtown piece say it all: ““Our community is excited about the progress that has been made downtown.  Sustainable success requires patience and investment into various aspects of the area, from physical improvements to business climate to residential opportunities and more,” [NDP Executive Director Fred] Ernest said in a release. [NDP Chairman Dan] DeLawder added, “This purchase was made possible through extraordinary philanthropic support from several local parties. We are grateful for the continued generosity of the Newark community in helping accomplish the goal to promote and foster economic development in our city.”” Through the legal entity (corporation) of a public/private partnership, public government becomes an enabler of private corporate development (not far removed from an addiction enabler). The Heath-Newark-Licking County Port Authority is an excellent example of this, constantly touting its money making commercial development adjacent to the Newark Heath airport. Indeed, it has been so successful in money making money that some years ago it purchased the PIME Seminary property for projected development 20 years in the future. Development is simply money making money. Only catch is that one has to have the money to make the money, which is where the government’s public financing comes in (along with tax abatements, credits, infrastructure improvements, etc.). Roughly half the residential housing in Newark is non-owner occupant (rental). It is easy to correlate 40% of Newark’s population with that of the rest of the country in terms of having less than $1,000 in liquid assets in case of emergency (one step away from being in need of a homeless person’s shelter). Add to this the average debt load (student, credit card, medical, etc.) and job precariousness… Where’s this population of citizens’ capacity to develop? Why bother? Best to leave it to the pros. This is readily evidenced by the recent replacement of banker Mark Fraizer’s Newark City Council seat by, you guessed it, NDP’s marketing salesperson Spencer Barker (touché, it is a time of no need for evidence or witnesses). Analysis concludes that pubic office seeking candidates touting the merits of development are one of the major vote suppression barriers utilized in Newark Ohio. When a candidate says “good for economic development” what she or he is really saying is “No need to come out and vote, folks. We’ve got this.” THAT’S voter suppression.

“Everything that appears is good; whatever is good will appear.” (Guy Debord)

 

Expecting Different Results

March 6, 2019

“The Bible tells us that there is a time and a place for everything under the Heavens. At this point in Ohio history, it is the time for us to INVEST IN OHIO!” Following the initial kudos and acknowledgements, this was the opening line of Ohio Governor Mike DeWine’s 2019 State of the State address. His primary focus of investment is the maintenance and upgrading of Ohio’s roads and bridges. Whereas John Kasich never failed to disparage his Democrat predecessor for leaving him a rainy day fund without any money, Mike DeWine revealed that he likewise has been left with a fund out of money, transportation. “The only difference is that the state has masked its problem by borrowing more and more money (none of which, by the way, has gone to our local communities). Well—now our credit cards are literally maxed out—and we simply cannot borrow any more—nor should we. Some may think that if we do nothing, the quality of our roads will somehow remain the same. Nothing could be further from the truth. The money the state has borrowed—that same money that has been propping us up—has now been spent. It’s gone.” Unspoken is that we (the GOP) have only ourselves to blame for it. Butt weight, there’s more. Not only was no mention made that this hollowed out account was left by the outgoing administration, but the outgoing administration’s “innovative new public-private partnership,” JobsOhio, was never once mentioned in the entire speech. Coincidence? Almost within the same time as the speech, JobsOhio released their annual report. “2018: A ‘record year’ for JobsOhio” by Thomas Gnau, for the Dayton Daily News (3-5-19) gives the numbers: “2018 figures offered by JobsOhio:• Total number of projects: 266• New jobs: 27,071 • New jobs payroll: $1.3 billion• Retained jobs: 69,905• Retained jobs payroll: $4.2 billion• Capital investment: $9.6 billion” As then Ohio Auditor and now Ohio AG Dave Yost showed only too clearly, the nitty gritty of these figures can never be known. How much of the $9.6 billion involved tax payer moneys, generated by liquor sales or otherwise? How integral was JobsOhio to the creation of the 27,071 new jobs? Would all or part still have become actual without JobsOhio intervention? JobsOhio takes no responsibility for the Lordstown shuttering (“out of their hands”) yet they take credit for new jobs carte blanche. The appearance/disappearance of JobsOhio during the State of the State speaks volumes without making a sound uttered by the current Governor (“It’s gone.”). Few remember when liquor was sold only in “State Stores”, but liquor sold in Ohio still is managed by the State with the difference being that no one but JobsOhio profits from the sales. It IS, by design, a public private partnership. In December of 2016 this blog wrote of one such JobsOhio “Capital investment” (Stormy Weather, 12-9-16) “JobsOhio Picks Up the $17M Cost for Prepping OH Cracker Site (Marcellus Drilling News 12-7-16). From that article (in the industry’s own words): “Clearing the site, which once hosted the R.E. Burger coal-fired power plant, was no small task. The power plant site, owned and (until 2011) operated by FirstEnergy cost $14 million for demolition, remediation and general cleaning up. An adjacent site (not owned by FirstEnergy) cost another $3 million to tidy up. All told it took $17 million to clean up the site and get it ready to begin construction. FirstEnergy is reported to have said they were “excited” by the opportunity to spend $14 million to clean it up. Wait, what? They wanted to spend the money? Well actually, no, they didn’t. FirstEnergy spent the money to clean up the site because they have been/are being reimbursed for the cost by JobsOhio”” No hydrocarbon cracking plant was ever built. The site sits “jobs ready”, or is that “investment ready”? But you can’t drive on it or use it to cross a river. Governor DeWine is correct. The money is gone, but he makes it sound as if someone just didn’t pay attention to Franklin in handling the Benjamins (“Neither a borrower nor lender be”). Truth is, along with the tax cuts it was given away to subsidize corporate wealth through JobsOhio. Now DeWine and the GOP want to “fix the problem” of this migration of funding resources through a regressive tax, paid by those on the other end of the corporate wealth spectrum. Butt weight, there’s even more with another priority proffered with this State of the State statement: “In the budget that I will propose, we will be creating a new public health fund, that will leverage resources through an innovative new public-private partnership to increase public health awareness and prevention strategies.” The GOP never gives up on insisting there is money to be made wherever there is public need. “Insanity is repeating the same mistakes and expecting different results.” (origin unknown).

Limited Horizon (Not A Cell Phone Provider)

November 18, 2018

Driving south on 33 in Hocking County, a bit before Athens County (the gateway to West Virginia), a traveler will pass without noticing a turnoff marked “Haydenville.” Woebegone it is not though it belongs with the family of “towns that time forgot.” Lining the main road through town (as well as the side streets) are what were originally identical houses, varying only in that certain stretches are of a markedly different model. The houses are all of ceramic block. There is even a church made of block as well as the post office. Haydenville was a company town for the laborers of the primary employer, the ceramic block factory. With the demise of ceramic products in the wake of plastic, the former manufacturing site has been replaced by a pallet factory. Both rely on an assumed abundance of area resource – first clay and coal, now timber. The housing is all that remains of what fueled the past. The area reveals a preponderance of ceramic block structures – barns, commercial buildings and residential housing. As one travels north their numbers diminish. Few are found around Newark though Hanover maintains an active brick works. Vestiges of a company town are not as overwhelmingly evident there unless one looks beneath the surface. At one time Granville was a mixed bag sort of company town. There was no one company but the laborers of the various enterprises resided there, in town. 50 years ago it began its current evolution of gentrification, outside investment, becoming a bedroom community for commuters to jobs located elsewhere. Conversely, most laborers for Granville’s employers commute from without. One of Granville’s largest employers (if not the largest), as well as land owner, is Denison University. In its autopoietic commitment of community leadership, Denison University is exploring partnering with a commercial developer to provide housing for its laborers, er, employees. What goes around, comes around. Company town ecology is difficult and complex. The benefits of affordable housing are offset by the inevitable company store aesthetic/ethic, mentality and doing. It may not be a choice of what form the pay takes or where the pay is spent, but it certainly influences the choice of employment, duration, wages and working conditions. The defunct liberal approach, long since upgraded to neo liberal, was that affordable housing is a ward of the state (federal, state, municipal). The chances for a snow ball in hell are better than affordable housing being the responsibility of the state in Licking County. The recent midterm elections verified that overwhelmingly. Ever open to compromise, the neo liberal approach embraces public private partnerships. Once again we’re back to betting on snowballs as in Licking County, and Ohio overall, those are reserved for subsidizing profit making enterprises. Which only leaves what Denison is exploring – private partnerships. But where else could today’s vast sums of cash for housing investment come from? Which begs the company town question. What if Walmart ventures into creating affordable housing for its employees? After all, they are Ohio’s largest employer. Or Amazon?  Or Licking Memorial Hospital? Analysis finds the realpolitik of affordable housing today follows the money. The recent episode with Newark’s Gardens On Sixth transitional affordable housing indicates some of the oppressive preconditions involved with private partnership funding of affordable housing. Haydenville celebrates (if you want to call it that) the effectiveness of big money’s involvement in providing a reliable labor force. It is difficult to deny the presence of affordable housing, water and sanitation for those who got up every morning to labor for the landlord. Of course, a company town is usually accompanied by a company store, a company utility plant, and maybe even a company golf course. The limited horizon always remains unchanging. Business thrives on reliability, eschews uncertainty.

Matters Of The Streets And Social Media

November 9, 2018

The impromptu late night demonstration outside the Washington DC home of Fox News’ Tucker Carlson was all over the media map this week (commentary as well as reporting). The event itself, as well as any media coverage (commentary or reporting), embodies the current socio-economic condition of American culture (political, economic and social). Some reporting of this particular event placed it in line with other such spontaneous “restaurant” protests (where various political leaders have been held to account while sitting down to enjoy a meal. Foodies will claim that everyone is entitled to enjoy a good meal). Analysis finds two of the many reports or commentaries available to further underscore American culture: Protesters Target Home Of Fox News Tucker Carlson by Ashraf Khalil for AP and Anti-Fascist Protesters Target Fox News’ Tucker Carlson At His Home by Antonia Blumberg appearing in the Huffington Post. Both are from the same date, 11-8-18. The contemporary “online” account of the Huffington Post favors the personal, social media oriented emphasis – “Police responded Wednesday night when anti-fascist activists showed up at the Washington, D.C., home of Tucker Carlson and began banging on the door and shouting threats like, “We know where you sleep at night.” The Fox News host wasn’t home and neither were any of his four children. But his wife was there and quickly locked herself in the pantry and called 911.” “Carlson has drawn criticism for his rhetoric on immigration, for routinely promoting vitriol toward Democrats, for defending nationalism and more. The host is well aware of the animosity of his critics. He recently complained he can’t eat at most D.C. restaurants because people frequently yell insults at him. “I don’t feel threatened, but having someone scream ‘Fuck you!’ at a restaurant, it just wrecks your meal,” he said on a National Review podcast.” and various online, social media only related responses and activities. The traditional AP account stressed what used to be referred to as an objective and factual event – “Washington’s Metropolitan Police Department reported that officers were summoned to Carlson’s home Wednesday evening and found about 20 protesters and a commonly used anarchy symbol spray-painted on the driveway. A brief video posted on social media by a group calling itself “Smash Racism DC” shows people standing outside a darkened home and chanting, “Tucker Carlson, we will fight. We know where you sleep at night.” [which rhymes]” “The Metropolitan Police said in a statement that they welcome and support all expressions of free speech and First Amendment rights but that “defacing private property” is an obvious violation.” as well as responses by various named individuals. Both reports gave the official Fox News statement. The difference in the two accounts highlights the distinction between “the streets” and online social media as contested places for the exercise of democracy, freedom and the exchange of ideas. We are all familiar with the POTUS dominant reliance of social media to intimidate, and its outcome. “The streets” have always been an open though un-secured environment (“They were threatening my family to get me to stop talking.” Carlson who “called in to talk with substitute host Brian Kilmeade.” and capitalize on the event). Which leaves the unanswered question – which is more civil, “the streets” or social media? Analysis uncovers the unspoken but even more pressing concern of civil discourse within the framework of public private partnerships. Given that Fox News is a de facto privatized ministry of information for the current administration (indeed many of the people working for the administration are from Fox, and vice versa), how can such an institution be politically confronted and held accountable within a civil landscape that gives legal precedence to the private (“”defacing private property” is an obvious violation.”). In Newark, how would, rather, how could one politically dissent or hold to account the policies of Grow Licking County? Demonstrations in front of the Licking Chamber of Commerce headquarters would be disparaged as a replication of the Carlson encounter. Ditto for any civil acts of protest towards policies or actions taken at the Canal Market, the Ice Rink, LC Transit or even JobsOhio. Analysis finds the split between “the streets” and social media to underscore the androgynous nature of public private institutions where accountability is forever deferred. Who benefits from the vast financial influx of tax payer funds? Who is ultimately responsible for the failed  transportation network in Newark? Are these matters of “the streets” or of social media?