Posts Tagged ‘Public Transit’

Like A Perfect Storm

June 19, 2018

In the collage of images concerning America’s latest internment enterprise are some detainees dressed in the local native garb of place of origin, usually children. Most are dressed in everyday uniform “camouflage”, the non descript generic fashion offerings of Walmart or Target. Analysis is dedicated to the local, and the interface of the local with what is national or global in scope. Analysis has written (more than once) about public transportation, and the bias for autos and highways dating back to the Eisenhower Federal Highway Act of 1956. Analysis has written about Citizens United (more than once) and the influence of corporate wealth and lobbyist largesse in destroying the urban bus and trolley lines so Americans could “See the USA in their Chevrolet.” Analysis has written about the organizing savvy and expertise (more than once) of those aspiring for a single vision of America as it was (locally as well as nationally) fending off continuous threats in a politics of eternity; where there is no aspired future, no achieved goal, no progress or better but only the continuous replay of threats and adversaries to a vision of angst saturated security. Like a perfect storm, Hiroko Tabuchi headlined How the Koch brothers are killing public transit projects around the country (NY Times 6-19-18). “In cities and counties across the country — including Little Rock, Ark.; Phoenix, Ariz.; southeast Michigan; central Utah; and here in Tennessee — the Koch brothers are fueling a fight against public transit, an offshoot of their longstanding national crusade for lower taxes and smaller government. At the heart of their effort is a network of activists who use a sophisticated data service built by the Kochs, called i360, that helps them identify and rally voters who are inclined to their worldview. It is a particularly powerful version of the technologies used by major political parties. In places like Nashville, Koch-financed activists are finding tremendous success.” “One of the mainstay companies of Koch Industries, the Kochs’ conglomerate, is a major producer of gasoline and asphalt, and also makes seatbelts, tires and other automotive parts. Even as Americans for Prosperity opposes public investment in transit, it supports spending tax money on highways and roads.” “Nashville’s idea to invest in transit got off to a strong start. Introduced in October by Megan Barry, who was mayor at the time, it called for 26 miles of light rail, a bus network, and a 1.8-mile tunnel for buses and trains that would bypass the city center’s narrow streets. The $5.4 billion proposal, the costliest transit project in Nashville’s history, was to be funded by raising the sales tax city residents pay by one percentage point, to 10.25 percent, and raising other business taxes. A coalition of Nashville businesses urged voters to endorse the spending as vital to a region projected to grow to almost 3 million people by 2040, an increase of 1 million.” “Central to the work of Americans for Prosperity is i360, the Kochs’ data operation, which profiles Americans based on their voter registration information, consumer data and social media activities. The canvassers divided the neighborhoods into “walkbooks,” or clusters of several dozen homes, and broke into teams of two.” “Their data zeroed in on people thought to be anti-tax or anti-transit and likely to vote.” Etc. Etc. Etc. And, lest we forget, the (dark) money behind it all: “In Nashville, Americans for Prosperity played a major role: organizing door-to-door canvassing teams using iPads running the i360 software. Those in-kind contributions can be difficult to measure. According to A.F.P.’s campaign finance disclosure, the group made only one contribution, of $4,744, to the campaign for “canvassing expenses.” Instead, a local group, NoTax4Tracks, led the Nashville fund-raising. Nearly three-quarters of the $1.1 million it raised came from a single nonprofit, Nashville Smart Inc., which is not required to disclose donors. The rest of the contributions to NoTax4Tracks came from wealthy local donors, including a local auto dealer. Both NoTax4Tracks and Nashville Smart declined to fully disclose their funding.” Sound familiar? (hint: the VW union organizing effort subverted in like manner, in same state) A new trail of tears? Thursday evening, June 21, 2018 the Freedom School will air their last film of the series – You Got To Move: Stories of Change in the South (7:00 PM GMP Hall 350 Hudson Ave Newark). “In this recently re-released film from 1985, film maker Lucy Massie Phenix interviews people who describe how they learned to set aside their fears and work for change in their own communities on issues as varied as voting rights, segregation, union organizing, strip mining and toxic waste.” (from the promo) Given the ubiquitous use of “latest technology,” like i360, by both political parties as well as special interest groups like the NRA and Americans For Prosperity (all brought to you by the makers of Citizens United), what the local Newark Freedom School offers bears a striking resemblance to the local native garb worn by some of the Central American refugee children pictured on the screens of Americans’ visual device of choice – small pinpoints of genuine intimate color and style awash in a sea of generic conformity made possible by the latest technology.

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Why Didn’t Newark Bid On The New Amazon HQ Location?

October 29, 2017

Discussion and debate over climate change (reality, urgency and impact) continues to rage in much the same forum as the debate over confederate monuments and first amendment rights for the ideas espoused by Richard Spencer. All to which the best reply came from Eminem at the 10-11-17 BET Awards: “Any fan of mine who’s a supporter of his, I’m drawing in the sand a line, you’re either for or against, and if you can’t decide who you like more and you’re split on who you should stand beside, I’ll do it for it for you with this. Fuck you.” ‘Nuff said. Relevant and current with regard to Newark and Ohio would be asking the question “Why didn’t Newark Development Partners Community Improvement Corp, in conjunction with Grow Licking County, submit a bid to attract Amazon’s new headquarters?” Come on Fred, inform us. We all know what a talented and available workforce is located right here in the heart of Licking County, as well as oodles of available land that is being squandered on, well, farming. So what could it be? Possibly the third requirement in Amazon’s potential site shopping cart – available public transportation. What’s Senator Flake’s buzzword, Fred? Something about keeping quiet is being complicit. But Analysis digresses. Maybe there is something larger at stake than planning with a vision of the future. Amazon’s largest wind farm yet is up and running in Texas They have a total of 18 wind farms, with 35 more in the works. by Swapna Krishna for Engadget (10-19-17) Prior to its locating a distribution center in Etna, Amazon also invested in an Ohio wind farm to generate its electricity (freeing it from reliance on AEP’s subsidized energy). Notable from the article: “This isn’t Amazon’s first foray into clean energy. The Amazon Wind Farm Texas is among 18 others across the US, and the online retailer has another 35 in planning stages. Not only are they offsetting their carbon footprint, at least somewhat, but they’re providing more jobs and contributing to local economies. Kara Hurst, Amazon’s Worldwide Director of Sustainability, cites a company-wide goal of eventually powering their infrastructure using solely renewable energy.” Analysis is disinterested in why this potentially makes Austin Texas a top candidate for Amazon’s hub but it may shed light on active disinterest in Newark as well as Ohio (remember the projected east Main street solar energy “farm” under the Diebold administration that was soon scuttled under Mayor Hall?). 10-29-17 InsideClimate News’ Brad Wieners and David Hasemyer headlined How Fossil Fuel Allies Are Tearing Apart Ohio’s Embrace of Clean Energy With scare studies, policy drafts and political donations, industry groups turned Ohio lawmakers against policies they once overwhelmingly supported. This is a very long and in depth article for which Analysis can only give an inadequate synopsis with some notable quotes. Remember the 2008 Ohio alternative energy law setting percentage standards for energy sources in Ohio? Of course you do, but in case you forgot: “The law committed Ohio to cutting energy consumption by 22 percent by 2025 and diversifying sources so that 12.5 percent of its electricity would come from alternative energy sources—geothermal, biomass, wind, solar.” At the time it passed the legislature 93 yea to 1 nay and was signed into law. Fast forward to “Beginning in earnest in 2011, a network of coal companies, utilities, think tanks, nonprofit foundations and political action committees coalesced to roll back Ohio’s alternative energy initiatives.” “Citing the study, state Sen. Kris Jordan introduced a bill five months later to repeal the alternative energy standards. The measure didn’t make it out of committee, but Jordan, [Bill] Seitz and others kept at it, until, in 2014, they managed to secure a two-year freeze on meeting the annual benchmarks established under the 2008 law.” The “study” (“Beacon Hill Institute, then an affiliate of Boston’s Suffolk University”) and follow ups claimed significant costs to utility users resulting in loss of jobs and diminishment of Ohio’s desirability as a business destination (“More scare studies followed. In 2015, the Institute of Political Economy at Utah State University published a paper suggesting Ohio’s energy rules would kill off 29,000 jobs. Last spring, the Buckeye Institute, a free-market think tank across the street from the Ohio Statehouse in Columbus, modeled four economic scenarios; the rosiest estimated that the renewable and energy efficiency standards would cost Ohio 6,800 jobs and $806 million in GDP by 2026.”). The usual suspects are involved: “This network includes Americans for Prosperity, a foundation funded by the energy magnates Charles and David H. Koch; the Heritage Foundation, a Washington-based advocacy group known for its criticism of climate change science; and the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), another conservative nonprofit in Washington with Koch ties that frequently spoon-feeds draft legislation to state politicians.” Of course, as with anything dealing with real/fake statistics/science we also have “Beacon Hill later lost its Suffolk University affiliation because, a university spokesman told The Boston Globe, its research lacked rigor and tended to reach conclusions sought by its underwriters.” and “”Those studies are completely bogus,” said Terrence O’Donnell, a lawyer representing renewable energy developers at Dickinson Wright, a Columbus law practice. “The Utah one is the most ridiculous, because it blames everything that happened to the economy during the recession on the renewable portfolio standards. It’s laughable. There’s not one policy maker I know of who still refers to it.” The Buckeye Institute, he added, assesses “a fictitious Ohio law, not the one on the books.”” “Several other studies have concluded that Ohio’s energy rules have, on the contrary, created jobs and improved the economy. One, published by Ohio State University’s Center for Resilience, found that in 2012 alone, the law stimulated a modest .04 percent, or $160 million, in GDP growth statewide. According to the Ohio Environmental Council (OEC), the state added more than 2,300 renewable energy projects and 25,000 clean energy jobs since 2009. Not minus 29,000 jobs, but plus 25,000 jobs, and not based on a model, but on payroll and labor statistics” “So whose numbers are right? On behalf of Gov. Kasich’s office, Matt Cox, a Ph.D. from MIT and founder of Greenlink, a consulting practice in Atlanta, modeled three scenarios to try to determine if Ohio’s energy rules were too aggressive. Overall, Cox found that the rules generated more jobs, more GDP and, in time, lowered electrical bills.” “Seitz told InsideClimate News that Cox ought not to have factored public health impacts of air pollution into his study. Cox responded, “How can you do a cost-benefit analysis and not factor in a cost that is borne, not by the utility, but by everyone else?”” Yadda Yadda Yadda. As anyone familiar with the recurrent ad nauseam phrase “counter puncher” knows, real or fabricated, this can go on and on. Also mentioned in the article was the 2014 Energy Mandate Study Committee. “The EMSC counted 12 elected officials, among them Seitz, as members. These 12 collectively received $830,000 in campaign contributions from utilities, oil and gas interests, and coal mining companies, according to an investigation by the National Institute on Money in State Politics. Contributions from electric utilities to Seitz more than tripled after he began trying to dismantle the state’s renewable energy standards.” “The final Energy Mandates Study Committee report was a gift to incumbent utilities and gas and coal interests. It recommended an indefinite extension of the freeze on renewable standards and more or less mirrored a bill Kasich vetoed on Dec. 22, 2016, saying the measure could undermine the state’s improved business climate and prevent businesses and homeowners from saving money by saving energy. Undeterred by Kasich’s veto, [Bill Seitz’s] HB 114, the bill that passed on March 30, contains much of the EMSC wish list.” “His bill is now in the state Senate, where it may face an uphill fight.” “Andrew Kear, an assistant professor of political science and environment and sustainability at Bowling Green State University, said HB 114 can’t survive without substantial changes. He said any measure will have to recognize that renewable energy is an economic driver in parts of the state. “They have to get beyond the false dichotomy that it’s environment versus economy,” he said.” Whew! Analysis finds it imperative for Newark to let Jay Hottinger (and Fred) know that HB 114 is not in the best interest of Newark, or Ohio. Why didn’t Newark bid on the new Amazon HQ location?

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.

Public Private Partnership Government

August 7, 2015

The news this past week was of the partnership between the United Way (you know them) and LGS Staffing (a temporary labor provider). (Newark Advocate “Bus to New Albany jobs is possible for workers” 8-5-15) All the Grow Licking County success stories are having a bit of a challenge including those residents who reside in the Licking County seat of government. Newark City Government may collect part of the tax revenue from the industrial park workers’ wages in Etna but Newark residents certainly don’t reside there. Living in New Albany while working in their industrial park would be akin to having a champagne taste on a PBRB budget. So the subcontractor LGS Staffing (in partnership with the United Way) wants to sub subcontract public transportation (a bus) provided enough people sign up as temps with them. Quite a commitment, er? Will the bus have wi fi, individual cell phone battery chargers, and an on board restroom? Analysis finds this whole arrangement of precarious workers paying part of their precarious wages to their temporary job agency in order to get them to otherwise inaccessible employment to be rather regressive, to say the least. LGS could just as well have teamed up with some public housing coalition (or administration) to develop a village within the industrial park confines and an LGS company store from which the employee residents could buy all their needs. That would have required a permanent investment (and commitment) in the community, something a temporary agency is definitely not willing (or interested) in making. Besides, company housing and company store are so yesterday. Before the Great War (WWI), workers from Newark rode trains daily to mine coal in Perry County. If it was good enough for great, great grand dad, it’s good enough for me! Analysis finds the entire scheme, by the partnership of United Way/LGS, of charging for transportation to a minimum wage job while insisting that a minimum number of minimum wage workers be on board to be ludicrous. Not only is employment decided and designated by LGS (in terms of who works, when and where much as migrant farm laborers are “managed”) but the entire arrangement is about precarious work to begin with. In addition, although riding the same bus, solidarity between workers is already undermined by each rider continuously being apprehensive, and suspecting (blaming) the other if the arrangement falls through (how could you get pregnant and stop coming to work?). Analysis discovers this regressive (and oppressive) initiative to be not only indicative of the disingenuousness of its creators but also highlights the failure of the public private partnership government of Licking County. On the one hand, there is no end to the job creating success self-promoted by the private segment of the Chamber and its Grow Licking County – never within reach of any city residents. On the other hand, there is the abysmal failure of the public segment of this partnership, the county commissioners who prefer to remain silent partners and eschew any regional public transportation responsibility while actively cutting back on services – all in the name of fiscal prudence. Analysis has repeatedly emphasized the unsustainability of such a public private partnership government, one that favors the private profit at the expense of the public. Analysis doubts San Francisco Google employees contribute 12% of their pay back to Google for a bus ride to work.

Business First

June 17, 2015

“You’re fired!” Donald Trump expressed his intention to be elected president of the United States. His wealth and business acumen were emphasized as priority qualifications of net worth for the job. Recently it was announced that the Licking County Chamber of Commerce, currently headquartered in Newark, was the largest such business consortium in central Ohio. More recently the editorial board of the Newark Advocate emphasized the everyday disparity of 14 active duty firefighters charged to serve a population of close to 50,000. Prior to that the paper was championing the projected $3 million purchase of 300 acres of church property (PIME) by the Newark Port Authority for development 20 years hence. It was deemed an excellent investment in the community. No development of public transportation in central Licking County is projected. Indeed, the little available is continuously eroded. The Port Authority prides itself on developments conducive to science and technology. 20th century technology verified the paradigm of cause and effect. The paradigm of 21st century science is that of big data correlation. That the county seat of the area’s largest business collaboration is unable to pave its streets or hire enough firefighters is a correlation not implicated by the Newark Advocate editorial board. Nor was any correlation made of a publicly financed purchase of private property for the benefit of future business with no current expenditure on the development of any public transit access to the area. Perhaps mid-century business parks are projected to be fully automated.

“To be hopeful in bad times is not just foolishly romantic. It is based on the fact that human history is a history not only of cruelty, but also of compassion, sacrifice, courage, kindness. What we choose to emphasize in this complex history will determine our lives. If we see only the worst, it destroys our capacity to do something. If we remember those times and places (and there are so many) where people have behaved magnificently, this gives us the energy to act, and at least the possibility of sending this spinning top of a world in a different direction. And if we do act, in however small a way, we don’t have to wait for some grand utopian future. The future is an infinite succession of presents, and to live now as we think human beings should live, in defiance of all that is bad around us, is itself a marvelous victory.”

the late Howard Zinn (the last paragraph from the last essay, “The Optimism of Uncertainty”, in his book of essays, A Power Governments Cannot Suppress. 2007)

Just Say No

April 26, 2015

This all would be so funny if it didn’t hurt so many folks. No, not the fact that the city of Newark (and surrounds) is subsidizing the financial avarice of the Longaberger name. Remember what Dan Moder, executive of the Licking County Convention and Visitors Bureau, said back in October of 2013? Of course you do. In case that memory chip is acting up again how ‘bout: ““There is something to be said for brand recognition. People recognize it. They trust it. They believe in it.”” (“The More Things Change, The More They Remain The Same”. Kent Mallett reports Downtown Hotel May Become Double Tree (The Advocate 10-2-13). Now (4-25-15) Kent reports on the city that has never met a developer that it didn’t like . “The company is $250,000 behind on its tax increment financing payments to the city of Newark and Licking Valley School District and would be $350,000 behind by the end of 2015 without any payments, Licking County Auditor Mike Smith said. Overall, the company’s TIF payments to the city are $2 million shy of projections made in 1999 because of the late payments and a 2007 reappraisal that lowered the basket’s value. The city borrowed $3.2 million to make road and utility improvements on East Main Street and Dayton Road for the Longaberger development. The city has paid $6.8 million, including interest, but received just $4.1 million from Longaberger” (Longaberger struggles become city’s debt Kent Mallett, Newark Advocate April 25, 2015). “There is something to be said for brand recognition. People recognize it. They trust it. They believe in it.” With so many true believers maybe the big basket will become a church. The First (but not last) Evangelical Church Of The Gospel Of Endless Prosperity. “Get a handle on your unhinged life of trouble and toil!”

Back in July of 2014 Analysis composed a blog posting (Game Of Thrones) reflecting on the demise of The Trump Plaza, Atlantic Club, Showboat and Revel casinos in Atlantic City New Jersey (something Chris Christie doesn’t speak much about). Analysis revealed “Visions of the second quirkiest landmark building in the US being vacant due to foreclosure do not make for savory Newark tourism. Would it still be on the charter bus itinerary?” (Well? Would it?). In the aforementioned 4-25-15 front page article Mallett quotes Mayor Hall as saying “But is (foreclosure) a solution?” (would the tour busses still stop?) A little later he writes “The city received $25,587 in tax increment financing payments in 2014. The 1999 projections were for the company to pay $364,587 annually for city infrastructure improvements to the area. The valuation of the property was cut in half in 2007, making its obligations about $170,00 annually. Russell Mack, a board member of Longaberger parent company CVSL, said the company has no plans to sell the basket building and challenges its tax bill. “Property values in the area have fallen over the years,” Mack wrote in an email response. “We are working with our real estate advisers, and we are disputing the assessed taxable value of the Big Basket building.”” Wait until foreclosure and the assessed taxable value will be even less. Better yet Mr. Mack, wait long enough and the city will use state home owners’ mortgage settlement funds to tear it down. (many “too big to fail” casino’s have been demolished in Las Vegas as well as Atlantic City). But would the tour busses come for the grand implosion?

That same month in 2014 we find this in the Newark Advocate: “Transit Board may cut Sunday service: Director says money being lost with few people riding Jul. 10, 2014 by Emily Maddern ““We’re just trying to find a way to survive and not go broke,” he [Licking County Transit Board Director and County Commissioner Tim Bubb] said. “It’s unfortunate, but it doesn’t do any good if you have to go into the red and shut it down.”” Of course it doesn’t. The city (and county) have met plenty of developments they didn’t like. One was that of making an investment in a fixed schedule public bus line instead of in a multi story Medium Market Basket. The payoff by now would be the residents of Newark being able to access jobs outlying as well as purchase in town homes or remodel existing ones from the savings of taking the bus. Public Transit certainly would be a development (or at least most cities see it that way). Or perhaps investing in affordable housing in town. Ditto same paybacks without having to fund private developer hysterical tax credits, etc. The Medium Market Basket comedy, in a city that won’t even have a weekly Farm Market this year with which to fill anyone’s basket, reveals a tragic romance (at best): spurning mundane public development for the unrestrained lusting and pursuit of a private developer. A city that has never met a developer it didn’t like. Someone once promoted a campaign of “Just say no!”