Posts Tagged ‘Public Services’

Early Onset Of Collective Amnesia

February 14, 2021

            It has been pointed out by witty pundits that when breaking news, or national news, doesn’t match the Fox network’s outlook, the news conglomerate defers to some totally unrelated story that does, no matter how trivial or absurd. Not reporting the news of the day (or hour) is replaced by something other to occupy the viewer’s interest. This is very reminiscent of a parent’s attempt to assuage a child’s pre-meal hunger with activities in order to occupy their time. A similar deferral is currently being foisted on Newark Ohio. Indeed, this particular form of bait and switch is so ubiquitous that it is taken as normal. The Covid 19 vaccination roll out has been occurring, in Ohio, for quite some time now. Statewide we are told that 1 in 9 have been inoculated. The Licking County Health Department, for some unknown reason, has not been receiving an allotment and stopped their vaccination appointments/inoculations. In its stead, to keep the citizenry occupied, we have received an updated website with all kinds of bells and whistles, but no registry, no online appointment strategy. It is still appointment by phone (with registration to follow appointment confirmation). It is still appointments not being scheduled at the present time. Same cannot be said for LMH, a private hospital, which is still receiving vaccine allotments and scheduling appointments. But that is part of the normal, learned helplessness that Newark residents have been channeled into. Astute readers will recall that years ago the Newark Health Department was eliminated through a merger with the Licking County Health Department. “Greater efficiency and better service” were given as the primary reason for consolidation. It was the same reason given for the unified 911 call center. Ditto for the elimination of public transportation responsibility for its residents by the city of Newark. The demise of the low barrier shelter projected for the defunct Family Dollar building follows the same modus operandi. The deferral of “public” seems to be a particularly GOP characteristic, a party which has dominated city, county and state governance for years; for so long that its privatized outlook has almost become accepted as the norm. Now, with the Covid 19 vaccine, the privatization extends to its distribution (and subsequent deferral). Reliance on the vaccine administration is being shifted to the pharmaceutical monopolies of CVS and Walgreens. Their limited site dominance in the greater Newark area was made possible through buying out local pharmacies (more complicated than that but no space to address). Now they will “lead” in serving the public good. It needn’t be that way. West Virginia’s touted vaccine roll out success is attributed precisely to their abundance of local, non-franchise pharmacies. They, along with other states, register vaccine aspirants and THEN follow up with appointment time calls TO the aspirant, through the Health Department or pharmacy. Privatizing public services, whether health, transportation, housing, safety, education, etc. just doesn’t work and is NOT more efficient. A public service only works if it is always available and accessible to the public. Along with the disappearance of public space, the collective memory of public services is fading fast in Newark Ohio.

There Is An App For That

February 25, 2018

That seems to be a proffered solution to a good many problems these days. Although not everyone has a mobile cell phone today, let alone smart phone, there is no end to the app offerings available and in development (for purchase or even “free”). Entrepreneurs board this as Christopher Columbus did the Santa Maria. Apple has even trademarked the phrase. And yup, you guessed it, it was suggested as a partial panacea at the recent community Public Transportation meeting sponsored by the Freedom School of Licking County (2-24-18). “Parlance,” you say (“a particular way of speaking or using words, especially a way common to those with a particular job or interest”)? Yes, but Analysis finds more than that occurring here. Rather, it is more the embrace of a mode of conduct or behavior by the culture, the population contemporary with its use, that is significant; i.e. “texting” was in use, accepted parlance and part of the vernacular in Europe well before its nascence here in the US. Now it is ubiquitous everywhere. Would the reader oblige Analysis and kindly step into the way back machine. Not so far back, maybe set the time at about a century ago when village wide water and sewer first came to Granville. Prior to that? The reader’s imagination (or historic research) can fill in the everyday niceties. Well, OK, so far back is unnecessary. How about the historically uncomfortable, just recent past, like the 1980’s and water and sewer coming to Beechwood Trails (outside what was then Pataskala)? The upscale development was all individual well and septic. Some of the septic was not necessarily staying on the individual owner’s property, or worse yet, surfacing there. There was a lot of grumbling “I don’t need it or won’t use it” when a public water and sewer service was mandated by the county. Now, a good part of that area is covered by this public service and folks can’t imagine otherwise (like “texting” or “app”). People in Licking County relying on their own personal well for water can’t imagine the sense of a public service for that. Yet some pretty gnarly Ohio counties (like Gallia or Muskingum) have exactly that.  Two things became clear after the energetic and well attended Public Transportation in Newark/Licking County meeting. Amazingly enough the two are inseparable and require each other (don’t stand alone). One is the lack of political will by elected “leaders” to implement. It became surprisingly apparent toward the end of the meeting that all the elements needed to implement a working order are present. Like the scattered parts of a puzzle (or an IKEA purchase), some assembly is required, some leadership is needed to bring the pieces together. Neighboring communities are doing it (like Knox or Fairfield County). See above re: what a public service is. The second thing symbiotically attached to the “political” of elected “leaders’ was the stuff of app’s, texts, and public service. One participant ruefully pointed out that the major stumbling block to assembling the puzzle of public transportation in Newark/Licking County is that it is presented as an “entitlement” by the political “leaders”, rather than a “service”, like EMS, Fire, Police, water and sewer, etc. Analysis finds the community subjected to this  distorted imaginary in a myriad of ways – from economic class, racial, behavioral innuendo and stereotyping to large scale institutional (higher learning as well as business) promotion, advertising, and projection. We all know Grow Licking County and Newark Development Partners plan and project a gleaming Emerald City. But how ya gonna get there? (editor’s note: they were absent from the community meeting) Analysis finds that the everyday inclusion of Public Transportation as a service, not an entitlement, within the ubiquitous parlance would be a hefty start. Commenting on a mundane Facebook entry? Referencing the reliable, sustainable, affordable and accessible nature of public services like public transportation, would go a long way. “App,” “text,” “public water and sewer,” “911 caller service” became acceptable through entry into the parlance of the times. Their meaning was formed through their use in communication, language. Speaking of which the next community meeting of the Freedom School for achieving reliable, affordable, accessible, sustainable Public Transportation in Newark/Licking County is March 10, 2018, 10 -12, Trinity Episcopal Church downtown Newark. Be there.