Posts Tagged ‘Public/Private Partnership’

Make America Enjoyable Again

November 9, 2016

In continuation with the previous post, Analysis would like to further consider the implications of being able to “enjoy whatever is next.” This is a more than relevant and pertinent topic given the outcome of the 2016 presidential election. That exercise in democracy has produced a rather extensive and thorough, monolithic power grid with a “non politician” brand CEO at its core. With all due respect to John Kasich, unlike past single party monopolies this one will be a voter approved and sanctioned public/private partnership sporting blatant (and unabashed) corporate business involvement throughout. One of the ways that Americans enjoy whatever is next has been through getting their news from non-news media entertainment (like the late night talk shows, The Daily Show, SNL, etc.). Will this continue to be the case? Unlike the current president, the recently elected one has shown a certain propensity for not favoring such sources for any unflattering or critical accounts. And the future prez can be a touch vindictive, eager to unleash his legal beagles at the slightest scent of libel. Where have we seen something akin to this? Back during the W presidency, a similar situation existed with the federal funding of public broadcasting. Unable to eliminate it entirely, control of programming format and content was coupled not only with cuts in funding, but also through incorporating the vice president’s wife in program development and approval. The outcome of this near monolithic mechanism was the revamping of public broadcasting programs, time slots, reporting, and even on air presentation. Political, ideological, and art content was supplanted by business, economics and history (mostly of wars). Anyone who first met Sanders on Moyers remembers the disappearance, reappearance and eventual demise of that critical PBS show. Along with programming came ubiquitous “discrete” advertising that snuck in and grew like Topsy (even Austin City Limits sports Inbev’s King of Beer, at least twice with every airing). But now, the same or similar is likely to befall the purveyors of private broadcasting given that “media” has always been about selling. It is not about information dissemination, discussion or entertainment. The entertainment is there to sell product (as well as ideology) much as the NFL is there to sell ideology (as well as product). Given the anticipated shift in dispersal and distribution of power centers, Analysis finds it doubtful that Americans will enjoy whatever is next through getting their news from sources such as Colbert, Stewart, Oliver, etc. SNL may finally retire, er, be forced into retirement (and further syndication). Media exists solely to sell. Whose brand sells will ultimately determine media access. And we all know what brand that is. After all, what else is there but to make America enjoyable again!

On An Aspirin Regimen

September 16, 2016

The appeal that Donnie Trump has for many voters is that he is a businessman, ostentatiously big business. Repeatedly, in media street and diner interviews one hears “it would be a good thing to have a businessman in the White House (not a politician).” In Newark, Grow Licking County, a public/private partnership administered by the Licking County Chamber of Commerce (the largest such in central Ohio) but funded by the county government, is lauded as the success driver for attracting “jobs” to this area (business knows business!). Another public/private partnership in Newark is the Canal Market District Farmers Market, an updated enhanced version of a previous Chamber sponsored market. The new Farmers Market is touted as a success by the Market, the Chamber and local politicians. Customers are reassured that all the vendors have been thoroughly checked out by the Market master and can be trusted to provide safe and reliable products. Central Ohio consumers like to know where their food is coming from, we are told (by the same market master). After all the Dole produce recalls, Chipotle contamination and Jeni’s Ice Cream repeated shut downs, it is heartening to hear that someone is being stringent in requiring that food be handled properly. After all, food is a very BIG business. 9-15-16 Carey Gillam posted “FDA Finds Monsanto’s Weed Killer In U.S. Honey” (Huffington Post). Some excerpts: “In examining honey samples from various locations in the United States, the FDA has found fresh evidence that residues of the weed killer called glyphosate can be pervasive – found even in a food that is not produced with the use of glyphosate. All of the samples the FDA tested in a recent examination contained glyphosate residues, and some of the honey showed residue levels double the limit allowed in the European Union, according to documents obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request. There is no legal tolerance level for glyphosate in honey in the United States. Glyphosate, which is the key ingredient in Monsanto Co.’s Roundup herbicide, is the most widely used weed killer in the world, and concerns about glyphosate residues in food spiked after the World Health Organization in 2015 said its cancer experts determined glyphosate is a probable human carcinogen.” “In addition to honey, the records show government residue experts discussing glyphosate found in soybean and wheat samples, “glyphosate controversies,” and the belief that there could be “a lot of violation for glyphosate” residues in U.S. crops.” “In the records released by the FDA, one internal email describes trouble locating honey that doesn’t contain glyphosate: “It is difficult to find blank honey that does not contain residue. I collect about 10 samples of honey in the market and they all contain glyphosate,” states an FDA researcher. Even “organic mountain honey” contained low concentrations of glyphosate, the FDA documents show.” “The FDA routinely looks for residues of a number of commonly used pesticides but not glyphosate [an herbicide]. The look for glyphosate this year is considered a “special assignment” and came after the agency was criticized by the U.S. Government Accountability Office in 2014 for failing to test for glyphosate.” “Like the FDA, the USDA has dragged its feet on testing. Only one time, in 2011, has the USDA tested for glyphosate residues despite the fact that the agency does widespread testing for residues of other less-used pesticides. In what the USDA called a “special project” the agency tested 300 soybean samples for glyphosate and found more than 90 percent – 271 of the samples – carried the weed killer residues.” “Both the USDA and the FDA have long said it is too expensive and is unnecessary to test for glyphosate residues. Yet the division within the USDA known as the Grain Inspection, Packers & Stockyards Administration (GIPSA) has been testing wheat for glyphosate residues for years because many foreign buyers have strong concerns about glyphosate residues. GIPSA’s testing is part of an “export cargo sampling program,” documents obtained from GIPSA show. Those tests showed glyphosate residues detected in more than 40 percent of hundreds of wheat samples examined in fiscal 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012.” Monsanto, the business, markets Roundup in conjunction with Roundup ready seeds as intellectual property, requiring a signed contractual agreement to abide by company terms for its use (much as software is sold). Too many instances have been recorded of transgressions, intentional or unintentional (like the wind blowing pollen unto a neighbor’s field producing traceable varieties in violation of the intellectual property agreement), where Monsanto, the business, has sued to protect their brand. Where have we seen that before? Currently Monsanto is being bought out by Bayer, the aspirin folks.

Large Margaritas

May 26, 2016

A quarter of a century ago there was a Mexican themed restaurant in Columbus located on High Street, just north of Hudson. It was trendy then to take in the latest food and drink start ups, much as seeing the latest movie release is today. The major draw was the huge (pre- Bernie, Trump and Hillary) margaritas, a must have if dining there. The place was very dark and dimly lit. The nothing-to- write- home- to-mother- about food was brought to the table by little street urchins with even a bit of mariachi music wafting in the air. Down home Mexico! Did Analysis mention that the margaritas were huge? Soon the place was closed up by the health department, and the proprietor (who personally served each enormous margarita with a welcoming grin) found himself in jail for violating child labor laws, working after hours, etc, (and maybe more). Protestations of family values aside, the kids weren’t exactly all his. This past week’s news related reporting dominating The Newark Advocate took Analysis back in the way back machine. Various testimonials were penned by Luconda Dager, Nathan A. Strum and Bryn Bird celebrating the economic vibrancy and success of Licking County business development, and how much good it is bringing to our area, our neighborhoods, our own back yard. Indeed, the Bird article touts the imminent (and inevitable?) wonderfulness of the new Farmers Market to open next to the historic county jail (fair trade/unfair trade, you get to experience a twofer with one stop). Bird is not alone. Various other news reporting, on other days, elaborate the inevitable (and imminent?) success of the nascent enterprise to be. This is not unusual reporting for the Advocate (as well as most large media outlets). In essence, the “news” reporting is one huge infomercial. Analysis witnessed this recently with the FamFest (second year in a row). Afterwards, not a peep of critique was reported as to the actual event itself. Considering the genealogy and history of funding and organization, the grand opening of the new Farmers Market will probably receive at least a photo spread. Trendy events usually warrant imagery, sans a wordy critique. An equally celebratory article, likewise of a business oriented nature, was “Grant may be sought to clean up gas station site” by Kent Mallet. The mayor (a land bank board member) and his administration are all a gush that they may obtain funding to rid the city of the derelict gas station at Mt. Vernon and Deo Drive (a veritable museum of how life was a quarter of a century ago before Obama stimulus money made the Deo Drive extension a “shovel ready “ priority). “Deputy Licking County Auditor Roy Van Atta, executive director of the land bank, said the site could be cleaned even without the grant, but it would cost about $80,000 to dig out the tanks. It could then be marketed for sale, possibly to an adjacent property owner, before the end of the year.” Of course, the property is virtually even more unmarketable than the South Second Street fraternal hall recently “sold” by the Licking County Land Re-utilization Corporation (for $100). The old gas station, as well as the defunct car wash across the way, had their useful life terminated when the extension relegated them to only one driveway for entrance/egress. But, as far as business is concerned, there is much to be celebrated by the Newark administration. At least for “Newark Service Director David Rhodes, who owns the adjoining property for his storage units.” Analysis projects more celebration with storage unit development in the future. Another story, also by Mallet, “County children services levy not covering expenses” was quite troubling, not celebratory in the least. Put bluntly, the County cannot afford to care for the abused, neglected and unfortunate minors entrusted to its care by statute. Analogous to the anecdote at the head of this posting, all is large margaritas for the business community. When the lights come on, the family value oriented businesses eschew these children as not exactly theirs. Is it so hard to imagine Cheri Hottinger and the Chamber celebrating, in partnership with the county, that funding is guaranteed for every client of Licking County Jobs and Family Services?

Super Hero Welcome

April 3, 2016

Hot on the heels of disclosure that the indefatigable presidential candidate and never resting current Ohio Governor intends to require Medicaid recipients to hand over a monthly premium for the ACA empowered program or receive no health care, AND news of Newark’s own congressional representative’s aggressive drive to further cut Job and Family Services’ funding (in tandem with his tag-team partner, the hardest working presidential wannabe in America) Analysis uncovers “The controversial reason tens of thousands of people just lost their food stamps” by Max Ehrenfreund and Roberto A. Ferdman of the Washington Post’s Wonkblog, 4-1-16. During the Dot Com era of affluence (when the internet promised to be whatever its users wanted it to be) the postal worker’s son passed “welfare to work” legislation that is still in effect 20 years later (post 9/11, post the son’s own former employer- Lehman Bro’s – going belly up, post globalization and great recession). “Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R), who helped author the work requirement as a congressman in 1996, is among the conservative politicians arguing that able-bodied adults should not receive SNAP benefits if they are not working. At the end of 2013, Kasich decided not to request an extension of the statewide waiver of the work mandate, enforcing the rule in all but the most economically depressed, rural counties in Ohio. A spokesman for Kasich, a candidate for the Republican presidential nomination, said the reinstatement of the requirement would prod people to seek work in the improving economy.” Later they write “”Making people hungrier isn’t going to make them find work faster,” said Rebecca Vallas, managing director of the Poverty to Prosperity Program at the Center for American Progress, a left-leaning think tank. “One of the most helpful things for someone looking for work is helping them not worry about putting food on the table.”” Speaking of food, Analysis finds the preemptive planning and projection of the tattered Longaberger Basket case as a visitors welcome center by Newark’s Super Heroes ““Mayor Jeff Hall, former Longaberger President Jim Klein, developer Jerry McClain, chamber President and CEO Cheri Hottinger, County Commissioner Tim Bubb, Newark Development Partners Director Fred Ernest, Grow Licking County Director Nate Strum and representatives from higher education and local foundations” to be irresistible (see previous post Is Everyone Unhappy?). After the county crusader’s unscripted dismay at cuts to Job and Family Services funding (“It’s just a (federal) line item, a drop in the bucket,” previous post Where’s The Crime In All This?), the Bubbman ultimately demurred, then deferred to Captive America Tiberi’s superior priority (““Maybe it’s not as effectively used elsewhere. I have no idea. For Pat Tiberi, it’s not just a Licking County question, it’s a United States question. I’m not going to be critical of Pat.”” The Newark Advocate, Flexibility of abuse grant attacked, praised by Kent Mallett, 3-29-16. Analysis recommends Better Living Through Criticism by A. O. Scott). Analysis finds more Donnie than Ted in the projected use of the failed public private partnership being “saved” by the continued infusion of “hard working [Newark} Americans’ tax dollars” (Captive America’s 3-27-16 guest column). This vampire embrace by the private parts of this failed public/private partnership producing a visitors welcome center while cutting off aid for non-voting youth and under employed/unemployed adults perfectly reflects the oligarchic Super Hero approach to self-governing democracy. The public part of the partnership must pony up while the private parts will only perform if paid (evidenced by one of the super heroes’ downtown historic school apartment project not proceeding without the guarantee of tax credit welfare checks). A giant market basket of commercial bounty made possible by the unseen working poor that rely on (equally) unseen food banks for their children and themselves is an accurate architecture for a Super Hero welcome.

Is Everyone Unhappy?

April 1, 2016

“I’m not happy unless you’re unhappy” seems to be an underlying, almost subliminal mantra within a good part of the political aspirant for the future of self-governance here in the US of A (both individual as well as ideological). Quick, without checking a smartphone, what was the reason given by the freshly, first time elected Mayor Jeff Hall for why Newark’s streets could not be paved? No, you don’t need to phrase it in the form of a question. That’s right, the bungled Longaberger public- private partnership. Well, just like Arnold, it’s back. The Newark Advocate headlines “Leaders discuss Big Basket future without Longaberger” by Kent Mallett (3-31-16). “The company [parent company JRJR Networks] owed $472,859 in delinquent property taxes for the Big Basket on Feb. 17, and will owe $568,132 at the end of the year.” But wait, superheroes “Mayor Jeff Hall, former Longaberger President Jim Klein, developer Jerry McClain, chamber President and CEO Cheri Hottinger, County Commissioner Tim Bubb, Newark Development Partners Director Fred Ernest, Grow Licking County Director Nate Strum and representatives from higher education and local foundations discussed ideas for the building.” Holy love handles, Bubbman, this could be fraught with danger! No problemo, Wan Woman “Hottinger said the building could be used for seminars. It has a large cafeteria area and a 100- to 120-seat theater, with a stage, several conference areas for board meetings or training. The building could have a tourism function to it, she said, but still needs multiple tenants and at least one pretty large company before it also could be used as a visitors’ center.” According to the official Licking County website “‘Grow Licking County’ is a Community Improvement Corporation and a cooperative effort between Licking County Government, The Heath-Newark-Licking County Port Authority, and the Licking County Chamber of Commerce.” “based at the Licking County Chamber of Commerce”. So much for getting the streets paved, Boy Blunder. On the state level we find “Republican Gov. John Kasich’s administration is moving forward with plans to require more than 1 million low-income Ohioans to pay a new monthly cost for Medicaid or potentially lose coverage.” (Waiver readied to require cost-sharing in Medicaid, Ann Sanner for AP, 3-31-16). For those of you keeping score at home, we just learned of Jobs and Family Services losing funding through a program promoted by Newark’s US Congressperson (and all around good guy) Pat Tiberi after losing previous funding from the State, never restored by its wannabe US president. That self same presidential candidate nationally justified his embrace of Medicaid (while vowing to destroy the ACA), on religious (compassionate) grounds. Folks are on Medicaid because they can’t afford medical care (let alone premiums). “But I can’t be happy, till I make you unhappy too.” Is everyone unhappy? Almost, but not quite! “Ohio assures profits for 2 energy companies” by Jessie Balmert for Gannett (3-31-16) reports that “The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio in a 5-0 vote Thursday approved plans from Akron-based FirstEnergy and Columbus-based American Electric Power that require customers to subsidize aging plants.” And “Ohio Consumers’ Counsel initially estimated the plans would cost customers as much as $6 billion over eight years. That amounted to an extra $800 for every FirstEnergy customer and $700 for every AEP customer over that time.” After what we’ve witnessed with the price of petroleum, FirstEnergy and AEP must be very happy. But wait, there’s more! “Republicans lied in Wisconsin: Here’s how you know the state’s voter ID law is a complete sham Wisconsin GOPers insisted the law wasn’t intended to suppress the vote. A new report suggests that wasn’t true” by Elias Isquith, staff writer for Salon (3-30-16). “On April 5, when voters cast ballots in Wisconsin’s Republican and Democratic primaries, the state’s controversial voter ID bill will face its biggest test since Governor Scott Walker signed it into law in 2011. For the first time in a major election, citizens will be required to show approved forms of identification in order to vote. The law mandates that the state run a public-service campaign “in conjunction with the first regularly scheduled primary and election” to educate voters on what forms of ID are acceptable. But Wisconsin has failed to appropriate funds for the public education campaign.” Not only that, but “the Government Accountability Board [“the nonpartisan agency responsible for producing voter education materials”] decided against making a formal funding request to the legislature, which had already introduced a bill to dismantle the agency.” Isquith concludes “With anywhere between 200,000 to 350,000 Wisconsin citizens potentially facing disenfranchisement, according to [Pro Publica’s Sarah] Smith’s report, the voter ID law is on pace to work exactly as intended.” Is everyone unhappy?

Ted Cruz Joke

March 18, 2016

What’s the difference between Ohio Governor John Kasich and Ted Cruz? U.S. Representative Pat Tiberi and Ted Cruz? Licking County Commissioner Tim Bubb and Ted Cruz? Give up? Kent Mallett may be of some assistance on this one. The online Newark Advocate of 3-17-16 has him reporting “County lobbies feds to keep Children Services funding”. Ohio Governor John Kasich economized by shorting Licking County Jobs and Family Services and never including them in the state’s economic comeback he constantly crows about on the campaign trail. “During the recession, in 2008-09, the county lost about $200,000 in state funds, which could be used to match federal funds, Fisher [John Fisher, director Licking County Jobs and Family Services] said. None of those funds have ever been replaced by the state, he said, despite repeated requests.” Now the area’s U.S. Congressman is following the presidential wannabe’s lead by doing ditto. “Fisher told the commissioners the proposed bill before the House Ways and Means Committee would take away more than $400,000 the county agency uses each year to pay staff to investigate reports of abuse and neglect, mostly against children, but also against older residents. Fisher discovered later in the day that the committee had already voted to eliminate the funds, moving the bill onto the full House leadership, which will evaluate it. U.S. Rep. Pat Tiberi, R-Genoa Township, a member of the committee, voted with the majority in a 20-16 vote.” Commissioner Tim Bubb, all in a tizzy over losing County revenue and perhaps being asked to fund some service that benefits county residents instead of economizing (cutting back as he did with county wide public transit), feigned leadership by rushing downstairs to voice his displeasure with the representative’s representative (“The commissioners suggested walking down to the building’s first floor, where a representative from Tiberi’s office had office hours.”). “Commissioner Tim Bubb told Stefanov [Joe Stefanov, representative Tiberi’s representative]: “In Licking County, Mr. Fisher has nowhere to go other than back to the county general fund. It’s just a (federal) line item, a drop in the bucket, but we would all feel it very painfully, and the children would feel it.”” In a separate article on the same day (Commissioners’ approval completes MPW abatement saga, 3-17-16) Mallett reports on the commissioner’s emulation of the governor’s continuous economizing. He is quoted as saying how happy everyone should be, especially the children of Lakewood Schools, to take a funding cut in order to boost the bottom line of a private corporation doing business in Ohio (“”They’ve all gotten to know each other better,” Bubb said. “Even though it was a little awkward, the way it played out, the end result is the right thing happened and the relationships have improved greatly.” MPW leaders toured the schools and school officials visited the industrial cleaning and water purification company just south of U.S. 40 and west of Hebron. “They’ll probably be a better community for it, with possibly MPW doing more with Lakewood,” Bubb said. “It’s all good, I think.””). Ted Cruz’s position is that government’s role is to get out of the way of churches and private enterprise so that they can do what they do best, provide service and make money; at most be included as part of a public private partnership (with the emphasis on “private”). Are Lakewood schools to look forward and rely on charitable contributions dangled down on strings when MPW is pleased and sees fit to do so? Will Licking County Children’s Services be replaced by evangelical outreach, charity in the name of the Lord? What is the difference between Cruz and Kasich, Tiberi and Bubb? We turn to Mallett again. As he reported the previous day (Port Authority plans $31 million in capital projects, 3-16-16), the public private partnership of the Heath-Newark-Licking County Port Authority has decided to demolish the building housing the Heath City Rec Center, another service offered to Licking County’s residents and children hitting the chopping block. “”We’re not dying to tear it down, but we need to be prudent,” Platt [Port Authority President and CEO Rick Platt] said. “We’re not in the rec center business, as a port authority. You either plan to invest or remove the building. We’re not going to make any investment in the rec center. It’s not producing revenue. Without some outside source, we need to prepare for it not being usable anymore.”” The joke is the children of Licking County need to “take a shower and get a job” (former presidential wannabe Newt Gingrich) and begin “producing revenue” instead of playing. The funny thing is this joke has no end, and no punch line.

By Any Other Name Would Smell The Same

February 25, 2016

Transparency International puts out a yearly Corruption Perception Index ranking the least to most corrupt countries in the world. Last year’s index (2015) covered 168 countries and found Denmark, followed by Finland to be the number 1 and 2 least corrupt countries. Somalia and North Korea were tied for most corrupt, followed by Afghanistan. The US was ranked at number 16 least corrupt (we’re not number one, not even in the top 10). Analysis ponders how such determinations can be made. There are no separate bank teller windows marked “Bribes, Kickbacks and Extortion: Payments and Withdrawals”. In all these countries, government officials (as well as un-officials) will simply say “Well, that’s the way it is done around here.” Obviously corruption must be determined through analysis – careful study of theory (the articulated framework of governance, like representative democracy, monarchy, war lord, etc.) and practice (verifiable evidence of what is done and how). Recently the Newark Advocate (2-23-16) presented a staff written, self-congratulating public service article (“Govdeals sales reach $1 million for county”). Of note would be the theory that, in a self-governing democracy, the trust of those governed should be confirmed by the government’s practice. The practice is the sale of government acquisitions openly to the highest bidder (“sales of unneeded, obsolete, surplus or confiscated property”…” through the online auction site”). These acquisitions are said to include “computers, automobiles, office equipment, jewelry, coins, telephones and other items”, also known as chattel. Analysis finds little need by government for “jewelry, coins, … and other items” except for law enforcement sting operations…? The government must have acquired these (“unneeded, obsolete, surplus or confiscated property”) through various and sundry means. Only a few days prior, one of these means was reported on by the very same newspaper. Again, in a self-laudatory piece (“Land bank to eliminate Second Street eyesore’ by Kent Mallett, 2-18-16), the government, consisting of the “Licking County Land Reutilization Corporation”, completed the acquisition of one property from a projected many throughout the county, also known as real property. The one (“the former lodge at 87 S. Second St.”) is to be disposed of by sale (“for $100”) to “Gutridge Plumbing”, which incidentally also happens to have “purchased area properties and removed homes in poor condition on Spencer and First streets.” When it comes to chattel, Licking County government seems only too eager to confirm the public trust through open sale. With real property, something else is preferred. Real property distinguishes itself from chattel according to Anglo Saxon legal heritage, which predates the US Constitution and is incorporated within. It is one of the foundations and fundamentals of power. The US Constitution affirmed this basis of power by granting real property holders equal legislative power to that of the voting demos, a senate to counter a house of representatives. Ditto is found with state government in Ohio. “Possession is nine tenths of the law” may be a cliché except that county government is deeply implicated in maintaining this, proving and verifying real property as opposed to chattel (through recorder, auditor, assessor, engineer, etc. and the laws mandating it). The transference of real property is a transference of power. Unlike the sale of chattel (“through the online auction”), the non-conforming “sale” of real property by “The County Land Bank board [which] includes [County Commissioner Tim] Bubb, [Newark Mayor Jeff] Hall, County Commissioner Duane Flowers, Licking Township Trustee Joe Hart and Licking County Treasurer Olivia Parkinson” to someone who has previously “purchased area properties and removed homes in poor condition on Spencer and First streets” is actually an arbitrary transference of power, by fiat, without public regard (not an open sale). “Well, that’s the way it is done around here.”

Is It Any Wonder?

February 17, 2016

“Contaminated Flint water among most expensive in the U.S.” Reuters reports 2-16-16. Let’s look under the hood: “The annual water bill in Flint as of January 2015 was $864.32 for a household using 60,000 gallons a year, said Washington-based advocacy group Food & Water Watch” “The second highest water prices in the country were in Bellevue, Washington, at $855.25 a year for 60,000 gallons of water. The least expensive water was in Phoenix, at $84.24 a year.” Desert models somehow age better. Must be because of the paucity of rain, winters without ice and salt….

How about this beauty: “Trustees agree to OK abatement for MPW Industrial Services” (Maria DeVito for the Newark Advocate 2-15-16). No need to test drive this baby, we’ve done it before (this blog’s “Limited Time Blue Light Special On Aisle 5” 7-30-14). Take a look at the lines on this model: “Trustee Charlie Prince said after the meeting that the trustees didn’t have the exact resolution, but he “didn’t want to continue the uncertainty” for MPW so the three trustees passed an intent to grant the 15-year, 100 percent tax abatement the company is seeking.” Not enough power for you? How about “MPW, an industrial cleaning and water purification company”? Customer satisfaction is number one. With extra added features like “The Ohio Tax Credit Authority approved today a 50 percent, six-year tax credit to MPW for creation of $1 million in new annual payroll.” (“MPW plans $4.4 million expansion, 25 new jobs” Kent Mallett for the same Newark Advocate 7-29-14). Something sweet to seal the deal? “The county will extend an existing sewer line from the Pilot Travel Center truck stop just north of Interstate 70 to the MPW facility at 9711 Lancaster Road SE. “That was a big part of the deal — connecting to a public system and off of a private system,” Bubb said.” (same Mallett article from 7-29-14). Hmmmmm. Not sold on the benefits? Bring us your best deal and we’ll beat it or give you… “The study – which looked at the 500 largest community water systems in 48 states – showed that private, for-profit water systems generally charged more than the public water systems that prevail around the country.” (same Reuters) “The county will extend an existing sewer line” for a private “cleaning and water purification company” to assist its business, earn a tax abatement, and collect a tax credit. We’re dealin’!

 

Goes Without Saying

February 9, 2016

News flying low and slow under the radar today concerns The Sparta in downtown Newark. Analysis notes not saying “The Sparta Restaurant” for The Sparta happens to be one of those shape shifting entities akin to a chameleon. No sooner than one reaches for “restaurant” than one is holding on to Project Main Street. As far as news is concerned, restaurants in downtown Newark come and go, primarily for aspirational reasons, money and business. But The Sparta is not a business though it is a restaurant; more of that shape shifting DNA. From the economists’ statistical standpoint of start up success, flower shops do best. Fastest failures are restaurants (see above “come and go”). Economists claim it takes 3 years for a restaurant to establish any sustainable potential. The Sparta is past that. What gives (or takes)? Anna Jeffries’ report “After three years, Sparta seeking community support” (2-5-16, Newark Advocate) provides the closest to a selfie of the shape shifting Sparta possible. The article presents future aspirations (“Raising the $10,000 by April will help the business, but it’s not the only solution, he said [“Allen Schwartz, acting president of the Sparta’s board”]. The number of meals sold every hour needs to increase by two to keep the restaurant in the black.”) as well as start up intentions (“He [Chris Ramsey, former Sparta owner and Project Main Street originator] opened the restaurant with a plan to offer jobs to people who wanted to be trained to work in the restaurant industry. His long term goals included creating a community supported agriculture program to grow locally-produced food, launch a green-jobs training program and convert the second floor of the Sparta into classroom space.”). But what is Project Main Street? Like all of today’s presidential candidates say – you can go to the website for specifics on mission statement, policy, etc. Much like the poor, Jeffries’ article reveals The Sparta’s great (and urgent) need. Most poor want better than what they have which, if they are poor, they may have in name only, or not at all. Precarious would best describe it. Unlike the poor, The Sparta has a rich network of like minded entities of goodwill. Indeed, merging with Goodwill would be one outlet from poverty. The two shape shifting entities compliment each other by maintaining analogous descriptions of being not for profit while operating as a business. Businesses that are not really businesses but embrace business because, well, it’s good business! From “Newman’s Own” to “Wounded Warriors” Americans are not only familiar with but inundated by shape shifting entities whose mission statements consist of service and community, that are in the business of serving the disadvantaged, which often extends to the poor. Analysis finds all of this implicates an “advantaged” lurking somewhere. This becomes a bit unsavory determining who’s in, who’s out, who is rich and who is poor, the advantaged, the disadvantaged, and who’s responsible for what. These shape shifting businesses differ from religious institutions who answer to a higher calling. They also differ from public, democratically instituted and maintained providers like the library, senior centers, public arts organizations and public schools. Shape shifters, like The Sparta, superficially resemble today’s ever growing public/private partnerships. The resemblance fails in that though shifty, public/private partnerships have no shape. Analysis finds this to be yet another option for The Sparta – becoming shapeless by being subsumed within the Licking County Chamber of Commerce that administrates the Grow Licking County public/private partnership. A theoretical option is relocation. SPARK has relocated its art workshop from downtown Newark to Granville. A “Goodwill” type local donation business once operated in Granville for the benefit of Licking Memorial Hospital. The business is gone, no longer needed by Granville or the community hospital. But the volunteer and goodwill potential remain. Local business, local donation, locally sourced, all involve location. Such a move might entail a loss of property, history and personal identity through the rupture of re-location, but what poor person hasn’t been subjected to that?

The Man Who Never Returned

November 11, 2015

Old MTA song about a poor fellow (Charlie) who boarded the metro train in Boston with enough money in pocket to pay his fare only to learn that the fare had increased while he was in transit (kinda like the price of gas going up 20% while grocery shopping. Should have bought it before.).  “When he got there the conductor told him, “One more nickel.” Charlie could not get off that train.” The song is also known as “Charlie on the MTA” by Jacqueline Steiner and Bess Lomax Hawes, 1949. The chorus, that is repeated while the story is told, ends with “He may ride forever ‘neath the streets of Boston. He’s the man who never returned.” Analysis finds this to be an unforeseen outcome of pay to ride while on board. Much as pay to stay has unforeseen pitfalls. Jessie Balmert (“ACLU: Don’t charge Ohioans for jail stays” 11-9-15, Gannett) covers a report released by the ACLU on county lock ups charging incarcerated inmates for their stay. Reuters gives a different perspective in “Ohio pay-to-stay prisons saddle poor inmates with debt: ACLU” (11-9-15) by Kim Palmer. Though Balmert’s headline admonition appears to evoke “Spare the rod” sentiments, Palmer’s report has better math. Balmert states “The Licking County jail assesses a $10 initial booking fee and a daily fee of $60, according to the report. The jail where Mahoney stayed in Marion County has one of the highest fees in the state: a $100 booking fee and $50 per day. That amounts to $1,600 for a 30-day sentence.” Even Karl Rove would have to admit that the same stay in the Licking County lock up would cost the inmate another $210. Where’s someone who has committed petty theft for monetary gain supposed to come up with that kind of cash? Unlike Balmert, Palmer actually quotes from the report (maybe even read it): “”Pay-to-stay jail fees are the next generation of unending debts that seek to tether low-income people to the criminal justice system,” the report states. “These fees are insidious: loading formerly incarcerated people with increasing amounts of debt make it nearly impossible for even the most well-meaning person to become a productive member of society.”” According to Palmer, 40 of Ohio’s 75 counties charge for incarceration. If Licking County were in Louisiana, failure to pay the 30 day lock up charge would result in, you guessed it, further incarceration (“Poor old Charlie!”). Some states further incarcerate those failing to pay fees and costs associated with their convictions/incarceration (“Did he ever return?”). In the spirit of “new” journalism, Balmert attempts to present “the other side” with: ““It’s unfortunate that we have people in any economic situation that are committing crimes,” said Robert Cornwell, executive director of the Buckeye State Sheriffs’ Association. “But there is a cost to that.”” China is way ahead of the executive director on that one. With capital punishment cases, the kin of the deceased are presented with the bullet and a bill for the cost of execution. A Kafkaesque speculation would be the eventual fee and charge for the cost of execution levied on the estates and survivors of those subjected to capital punishment here in the U.S. Failure to pay in Louisiana (and elsewhere) would rekindle the cycle all over again. Will the circle be unbroken?