Posts Tagged ‘Rick Black’

And The Party Never Ends

November 17, 2022

            Back on 11-10-22 Fort Worth Texas U.S. District Judge Mark Pittman struck down President Biden’s student loan forgiveness program. “The program is thus an unconstitutional exercise of Congress’s legislative power and must be vacated,” wrote the judge. “In this country, we are not ruled by an all-powerful executive with a pen and a phone,” he went on to say. The ruling was heralded by critics of Biden and the loan forgiveness program comparing him and his action to that of a monarch. This critique is nothing new. Back in September “”The president isn’t a king. He’s not an emperor. And if he does something unconstitutional, hell yeah, I’m going to hold him accountable,” Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich told NPR in an interview.” (Morning Edition 9-30-22) Analysis finds Americans easily incensed over the prospects of a single individual wielding ultimate power but are, ho hum, OK with a single party doing ditto. An 11-14-22 Newark Advocate report, Commissioners’ deal with water, sewer district angers several communities, by Kent Mallett would be a case in point. Bear in mind that the recent midterms were unanimously won by the GOP in Licking County, with some races uncontested. It is safe to assume that those involved with this story are all of one and the same party. “An Oct. 6 Licking County Commissioners’ decision to extend the service area for Southwest Licking Water and Sewer District brought a flood of complaints Thursday from township and community officials in western Licking County.” “Monroe Township Trustee Troy Hendren said the commissioners told the townships they need to plan and coordinate, all while they were secretly working against the townships. “I was shocked when I heard this because when you guys talk, you’re always about ‘we need to work together and know what’s going on,” Hendren said.” “Jim Lenner, the owner of Neighborhood Strategies planning company and former Johnstown city manager, represented St. Albans Township at the meeting. He said the township learned of the agreement as it planned to approve its comprehensive plan next week. The township is located between Granville and New Albany. “It just was shocking for my clients and the people I’m working with that this monumental decision was made without input from (them),” Lenner said. “There’s other entities that could be servicing that area. That’s the concern and how you guys came to the decision to basically hand it over to the district to service that when you are in the middle of a water and sewer study. When St. Albans and most communities are all trying to plan, this bomb is dropped on us.”” “The commissioners said the amended map may go too far and maybe they should consider rescinding the agreement.” “”At the end of the day, it may end up being the way it is, if you can’t provide it and they’re willing to plan to provide it,” [Licking County Commissioner Tim] Bubb said.” Analysis finds Americans easily incensed over the prospects of a single duly elected individual wielding ultimate power but are, ho hum, OK with the same actions by a single duly elected party, in this case three individuals. Analysis finds there to be an interesting analogy between contemporary political parties and corporations. Corporations, entities which exist only in law, theoretically can never die. Long live the party!

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The Sound Of Silence

June 1, 2022

“The Gap report released jointly by the Coalition on Homelessness and Housing in Ohio and the National Low Income Housing Coalition shows a deficit of 254,545 rental units that are affordable and available to the state’s 443,717 extremely low income households. That equates to only 43 affordable units for every 100 households.” The report was issued 4-21-22. It followed data available through 2020 and does not include pandemic related housing stress. As pointed out by the report, rents jumped by an average 11% in major Ohio cities in 2021 (now, well into 2022, probably higher overall). “COHHIO Executive Director Bill Faith called on state leaders to invest $308 million of the $5.6 billion in State Fiscal Recovery Funds that Ohio received from the American Rescue Plan Act to address the affordable housing shortage.” Remember Steve Stivers, former US Congressman from a gerrymandered district that snaked from the margins of Upper Arlington to the depths of south central Ohio? Of course you do. Who could forget his opting out of representing his constituents for a job with the Ohio Chamber, and the Trump intervened special election that followed? ““Employees need a safe, decent, affordable home to raise healthy families and be productive at work,” Ohio Chamber of Commerce President & CEO Steve Stivers said. “This one-time investment of Ohio’s Fiscal Recovery Funds on affordable housing will create jobs in the near-term, and will strengthen our workforce for the long-term.”” Duh? But Steve’s not alone in his public aspiration. “More than 200 companies and organizations are supporting COHHIO’s affordable housing plan, including the Ohio Chamber of Commerce, Ohio REALTORS, the Ohio Bankers’ League, CareSource, Huntington Bank, Nationwide Children’s Hospital, PNC, and the Ohio Apartment Association.” It would be curious to learn if Park National Bank could be included. After all, Licking County’s Commissioners have a bit of an identity problem round about now. With Intel and all the big bucks development in the western portion, are we an urban center or an “Aw shucks” rural enclave encroached by modernity? No matter, “Erica Mulryan, Director of the Ohio Balance of State Continuum of Care, which oversees the homeless system in Ohio’s 80 non-urban counties, said rising rents and the lack of affordable housing are making it more difficult to get people out of shelter and into permanent homes. “Our agencies’ rehousing programs depend on private landlords to help get people out of homelessness. But it’s getting harder and harder to find landlords who are willing to partner with us,” Mulryan said. “Ohio’s rural and suburban counties desperately need more affordable housing.”” Get people out of shelter? What shelter? The leaders of Newark and Licking County have opted to not-be-able-to-afford-it. Meanwhile, in the county with a rural/urban identity problem, Kent Mallet gave this Economic Statistic in his Newark Advocate Answer Man column roughly a month after the Gap report: “The total volume of sold homes in Licking County through four months was $220,078,195. That’s a 21% increase from last year and a 51% increase from two years ago.” As pointed out in the previous blog posting, the county has increased its revenue stream in the last 2 years. This, in combination with the State Fiscal Recovery Funds included as part of ARP, makes the “can’t afford it” excuse rather disingenuous. Hear that silence? It’s not the duo of Simon and Garfunkel, rather the trio of Bubb, Black and Flowers, Licking County’s Commissioners.

Unspoken, And Unaccounted For

May 24, 2022

            Lots of continuous daily news dominates. In addition to the ever evolving Covid pandemic, there is the war in Ukraine, the politics of elections – current, past as well as upcoming – and the economy. Can’t forget the economy with its inflation, for which the preceding are given as reasons for its being. And here in Licking County Ohio the anticipated Intel workshop stains the daily news no matter what the reason (Analysis would say “sweatshop” but that’s no longer possible with the clean suits and clean rooms anticipated). Accompanying the near daily Intel stories are headlines like “280-acre commercial, industrial development coming to Harrison Township” (The Newark Advocate, 5-23-22) and other economic “growth” news. It is easy to overlook the weekly “Public Records” news published by The Advocate as this feature, easily obtained by the paper because it is a matter of public record (like the police blotter), has also been around for as long as, well, public newspapers. The 5-21-22 headline read “Public Records: Jersey Township property sells for over $4 million.” Both the headline, as well as the sale price, is not unusual. The history of area sales has been trending in this region for quite a long time. Market sale prices are not a “cause” of inflation, but certainly contribute. Scarcity is a primary “cause” of market pricing. Inflation’s poster child is the plethora of over priced flat screen TV’s available for immediate delivery. But Analysis digresses. It is hard to find “affordable” property transfers in the public records anymore. Million dollar plus sales are multiple each week. Most transfers are for residences in the 300K to 600K range. Below 100K is the exception. One thing unspoken with the market and inflation is that those earning a commission are experiencing a windfall despite doing no more actual work (labor) than if there were no inflation. Such is also the case with Licking County Ohio. For each $1,000 in sale price, the county receives a conveyance fee of $2. Considering, with Intel and all, that million dollar properties are now the norm, unexceptional, the County is taking in a premium of tax revenue without any additional labor. When it comes to County infrastructure spending (the “labor”), the County primarily draws on ARP, Federal Infrastructure Bill funding as well as State Intel assistance. Isn’t it time for Rick Black, Tim Bubb, and Duane Flowers to give back, and pay forward by investing public revenue in affordable public housing? The relationship between those without a house (the homeless), the scarcity of available affordable housing, and the million dollar real estate market couldn’t be any clearer.

What Kind Of Planet Are They Living On?

December 17, 2020

            The news of the past week seems to be supported by an undertow of statistics. A blur of staggering numbers appear to back everything up, whether it be Covid 19 rates, unemployment, potential relief funding, hunger, future evictions as well as current homelessness, etc. Not only that but Wall Street keeps climbing on the enormous debt and the potential for even more debt coming down the pike. Traditionally this would anticipate hefty Holiday Bonuses for traders and brokers. Will it be that way this year? Bucking a trend of traditional and inevitable thinking/reasoning seems to be an unpleasant necessity for regular folks, but is unimaginable for Newark area community leaders. Even a morbid change like the pandemic makes no impression. It used to be called “business as usual”, but what is the usual today? In Newark, Ohio, Kent Mallett’s report, headlined Licking County Courthouse windows to be replaced in 2021; cost at least $1.25 million (12-16-20, Newark Advocate), covers the exceptionally unimaginative. “Licking County Commissioner Tim Bubb said the project won’t be cheap, nor quick, but the time is right.” According to Mallett, Bubb says “”We want historically-looking windows with 21st Century technology. That’s going to be the challenge. It’s a process like a custom remodel. We’re putting it in there for the next half century.”” For this the commissioners are putting the residents of Licking County in deeper debt? Meanwhile, back at the ranch, the former Family Dollar store building, promised as a low barrier shelter and just blocks from the already twice remodeled Court House, sits cold, empty and vacant. Lines at food pantries are longer, including some “first timers” who not long ago volunteered at them. And… well, Analysis points to the above for the dizzying array of shared lack backed up by a passel of numbers all representing real situations or people. A rather bleak winter is upon us. But Tim Bubb and his fellow successful Republican leaders must dwell in the eternal sunshine of a bright tomorrow. ““We’re putting it in there for the next half century.”” The debt based capital investment that they are putting “in there”, the Halls of Justice, assumes there will be a “human resource” around to benefit. With no investment in this resource, what kind of “next half century” are they envisioning? One with pristine “historically-looking” buildings and people living in tents? What kind of planet are they living on?

Where’s Waldo, Er, Jeff Hall?

July 16, 2020

On 7-15-20 Ohio’s Governor Mike Dewine appealed to Ohioans to redouble their efforts in measures to counter the spread of the new coronavirus. Essentially, he said it was out last chance. We wouldn’t get another. The Ohio version of the pandemic would be out of control otherwise. Coincidentally, the 7-12-20 Sunday Newark Advocate editorial was “Our view: Licking County leaders must lead on coronavirus response.” They write “Our elected leaders must set an example for the rest of the community in how we respond to this crisis.” This was followed by some practical suggestions. No mention of what to do if you are losing, something Dewine’s leadership is ready to take on. Again, the Advocate editorial board pontificates: “Our elected leaders must be seen taking the coronavirus seriously. Why should residents wear masks when they don’t see their community leaders doing the same?” The Advocate editorial totally missed that the elected leaders of Licking County are indeed taking the coronavirus VERY seriously. They immediately self isolated and have maintained their distance from any public leadership whatsoever. Their self isolation insures invisibility which is just all too obvious. Unlike Dewine, they don’t wish to be associated with any sort of a losing effort. Give them a new building in an industrial park to crow over, or the opening of a shuttered restaurant. But anything outside of business and money making? Naaa. Analysis finds this in keeping with their track record. Public transit has been hemmed and hawed forever in Newark, no leadership there. Court evictions from sub standard housing requiring stricter codes, no leadership there. Lack of leadership on housing results in increasing number of citizens without shelter. This contributes to food insecurity, child neglect and abuse, and increases in addictive behavior. All from a lack of leadership on the part of those elected to lead. But then again, that would be leadership involving something other than the economic, money making kind.  Analysis also finds the Advocate complicit in glaringly eliding the absence of Newark’s elected leaders during this time of overwhelming crisis in Ohio (at least according to the Governor). This too is in keeping with the paper’s track record. Just as no one wants to be the leader on the losing side, so no one wants to be a cheerleader for that leadership. Give us a good business success story to cheer on instead. Otherwise, mums the word. The Advocates editorial board grossly failed to elaborate that leadership is multifaceted. It also has to do with sober projections of actions needed when things don’t look promising. The Advocate favors and stresses economic success and competence, especially at election time. As Dewine embodied, visible, present, at risk leadership is needed primarily when our side is not winning.

MIA

May 22, 2020

In one of the recent Le Show broadcasts Harry Shearer posed a rhetorical question in regard the journalistic/cultural slant on the current Economic Depression. He made the observation that for the last 2+ months all the articles, talking heads, etc. speak of the “economy shutting down.” In actuality, according to Mr. Shearer, only half the economy has shut down. In addition to certain segments of the economy which are booming (i.e. Amazon), the financial sector hasn’t exactly withdrawn into a shell. As of this writing the DOW is only 10% off from its all time high. Shearer has a point. Pre Covid 19 debt obligations have not “shut down” or disappeared. Credit card companies, mortgage servicers, utilities, etc. all still post their bills and collect on them (electronically, so convenient! Save a stamp and all). They, along with the Wall Street financiers, are doing OK, thank you. So it was curious to read the Washington Post article headlined: “U.S. taxpayers might lose money helping companies. Economists say it’s a good thing. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin acknowledged this week that some of the $500 billion in aid to companies might not be repaid.” As the article pointed out, Obama’s TARP Act, meant to address George W. Bush’s financial meltdown of 2008, lost some taxpayer money “But overall, TARP ultimately made several billion dollars as most companies repaid the loans and some of the stock the government took as collateral turned out to be worth a good bit more when it came time to cash in.” Trump/Mnuchin’s CARES Act isn’t structured around repayment or collateral. Besides, who would report if it failed? We’ve become so inured to Dear Leader’s policies and practices of big business – the firing of those deemed disloyal, the hiring of corporate executives to regulatory positions, the dismissal of regulations, the neglect of institutions, etc. – that we don’t notice their presence (or absence) in our everyday surrounds. Nothing comes from nothing, and what is favored nationally is ditto found locally. In a 5-19-20 article, Newark Advocate’s Kent Mallett headlined “Licking County Chamber announces Facebook grant for local small businesses”. “The Licking County Chamber of Commerce announced it will coordinate a $100,000 grant from Facebook to help support small businesses battling through economic challenges.” In the text Mallett quotes LC Chamber Pres and CEO Jennifer McDonald and Facebook’s Community Development Regional Manager Amber Tillman, and no one else. 5-22-20 Mallett headlines “Downtown Newark survey shows public uneasy about reopening businesses amid coronavirus”. “A Downtown Newark Association survey showed considerable uncertainty and unease about reopening businesses after a two-month shutdown to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus.” Again, he presents a stenographic rendition of the survey, quotes DNA President Trish Newcomb, and no one else. What do we elect civic leaders for? Where’s Newark’s Mayor Jeff Hall in all this? What about LC Commissioners Tim Bubb, Duane Flowers and Rick Black? Is there no interest that the Facebook grant money be distributed fairly, equitably and appropriately by those elected to insure such? Is there no want of direction, guidance and leadership on prudent measures for safely interacting within the war footing of a Covid 19 response? Have we become so lock step and attuned with the abdication of leadership and direction on the Federal level by our Dear Leader, as well as the journalists covering him, that we are OK with our own local MIA’s? Analysis finds that Harry Shearer  is right. Only half the economy shut down with the spread of Covid 19. The business half is still running everything. Only now they are doing it so overtly that the corporate news journalists don’t even bother with any other reality.

Will The Real Governing Body Of People Please Stand Up

November 29, 2018

Stand your ground, heartbeat bill, pastor protection, embryonic personhood, every new born shall possess a gun, if they cannot afford it, one will be provided for them…Just some of the endless priorities for legislation once electioneering days have passed. In the Ohio state house currently is House Bill 625 which “prevent[s] cities from passing taxes or bans on plastic bags and other disposable containers.” (Ohio House votes to block local bans, fees on plastic bags by Jeremy Pelzer, cleveland.com, 11-28-18) “Several business groups have supported the bill, including the Ohio Council of Retail Merchants, the Ohio Grocers Association, and the Ohio Manufacturers’ Association.” “The bill’s other co-sponsor, state Rep. George Lang of Butler County, echoed that [State Rep Scott Lipps’] sentiment. “The market can regulate itself – it doesn’t need the government to get involved in every aspect of what they do,” he said.” Licking County recently experienced ditto above with Kent Mallet reporting: Public opposition derails proposal for Licking County contractor registration (The Advocate 11-27-18). “The proposal, the result of a contractor registration review committee meeting monthly since March, would have required contractors to register with the Licking County Building Code Department prior to starting work. The registration would have been required for general, HVAC, fire protection, electrical, refrigeration and hydronics contractors. The fee was set at $100 annually for each contractor, with a $300 fine for failure to comply.” “The resolution, however, was on the commissioners’ Tuesday agenda with 24 others. The commissioners usually vote to approve all the day’s resolutions in one vote, but occasionally remove a resolution before approving the rest. McKean Township Trustee Dannette McInturff said, “They completely ignored the governing body of the people they’re trying to regulate. It is a shame the way it had to be brought to light. If not, it would have passed today. It is on the agenda for today.” For anyone confused the ”contract registration review committee” is comprised of the usual suspects, area business people, which likewise comprise McInturff’s “ignored governing body of the people.” Likewise this was never broached during the midterm’s contested commissioner race. “And, some said the issue should have been debated before the recent re-election of Commissioner Rick Black. Hanover Township Trustee Heath Smith told Black, “You get re-elected and two weeks later you’re trying to push this under the table. I think that’s kind of shoddy there.”” What if the “governing body of the people” takes the lead? Turns out there’s an app for that too. Ohio lawmakers seek to make it harder for voters to change state constitution (Jeremy Pelzer, cleveland.com, 11-28-18). “House Joint Resolution 19 comes after Ohio legislative leaders lamented what they said was a “cottage industry” set up to put frivolous amendments on the statewide ballot. Under the resolution, 60 percent of Ohio voters would have to approve a proposed constitutional amendment for it to pass. Currently, any proposed constitutional amendment — including HJR 19 itself — needs a simple majority of “yes” votes to take effect. It would also move up the deadline to submit the hundreds of thousands of petition signatures needed to put a proposed amendment on the ballot. That deadline is now in early July; the resolution would move it to April 1. In addition, each petition signature would only be valid for 180 days. Right now, there’s no expiration date for signatures. HJR 19 would also change the way Ohioans can force the state legislature to pass a law. Right now, a group can force lawmakers to take action on a proposal if it gathers a number of petition signatures equal to 3 percent of the number of voters in the last gubernatorial election (that number is 129,553, based on this year’s gubernatorial vote). If lawmakers don’t pass the measure within four months, proponents can gather signatures from another 3 percent of voters to put the proposal on the statewide ballot. Under the resolution, the initial signature requirement would be raised to 5 percent of the last gubernatorial vote. But if lawmakers don’t pass the measure within four months, it would go directly to the statewide ballot without needing any additional signatures. In addition, any law passed in this way couldn’t be altered or repealed by lawmakers for one year after its passage, under the resolution.” Paper or plastic? Another instance of something completely not on the horizon pre midterm election but now in play would be: Cleveland aims to provide free legal representation for tenants in eviction cases (Leila Atassi, cleveland.com, 11-28-18). It would be modeled after an NYC program that provides attorneys for those who face eviction. The current ratio of attorneys in eviction cases representing landlords/tenants is 90% of landlords and less that 10% of tenants. ““If someone is facing a life-altering proceeding, there is no justice if one side has an attorney and the other side does not,” [Right-To-Counsel Mark] Levine said. “… We should all be outraged by that. The landlords have built a business model that uses housing court as a weapon, knowing that it’s not going to be a fair fight.” In 2017, however, after three years of demonstrations, news conferences and petitions to Mayor Bill de Blasio, New York passed legislation providing legal representation in eviction cases to all defendants whose income is 200 percent of the federal poverty level or below. Since then, the city has seen a 24 percent reduction in evictions, with fewer cases filed overall. And 84 percent of tenants with representation are staying in their homes, Levine said.” Cleveland is considering this as the cost of the program is more than offset by the savings to “the cost of sheltering families, providing social services, and educating transient youth.” Paper or plastic? Home rule for cities with initiatives like this are once again vulnerable to being shot down by a state legislature with an enormous track record of doing just that, for “the governing body of the people”. “State Rep. Stephanie Howse, a Cleveland Democrat, said businesses also have a responsibility to work to better the communities they’re located in. She also suggested that House Republicans were hypocritical when it comes to how much power local governments should have. “It’s amazing how this body selectively makes decisions on when we want to have local control versus when we don’t,” she said.” (Pelzer, Ohio House votes to block…) In Ohio, who is “the governing body of people”?

Subtle Creep

May 2, 2018

In these recent years one often encounters articles and essays suggesting that democracy is on the decline. Could democracy have reached its end? With the various “revolutions” (velvet, orange, etc.) as well as the various “springs” (the Arab spring, etc.), great promise was forecast on behalf of democracy around the world. That all changed with the recent elections, in America and elsewhere. Head scratchers have attributed this to divisive power structures, social media, global technologies, etc. ‘Nuff said. Democracy is suspected of being under siege or threat locally as well as globally. Ever since the collapse of the Berlin Wall in the late 80’s, begrudging accolades have been festooned on the triumph of, not democracy, but capitalism. It has literally become the only game in town. Formally communist or socialist regimes have divested themselves of strict adherence to ideology and become, well, capitalist. Few holdouts remain in the world. “Communist” China is actually a state capitalism. Karl Marx (remember him?) couched much of his prognostication within the logic of dialectic. The online dictionary gives one definition as “inquiry into metaphysical contradictions and their solutions. • the existence or action of opposing social forces, concepts, etc.” It informs this with several examples, one of which is “Hegel applied the term to the process of thought by which apparent contradictions (which he termed thesis and antithesis) are seen to be part of a higher truth (synthesis).” Marx was much taken with Hegel and formulated most of his thought along Hegel’s dialectic. Put crassly, Marx’s dialectic follows the simplistic interpretation that as one aspect increases or grows, another diminishes and dies. This happens at one and the same time. Few who bemoan the demise of democracy, as well as those celebrating the success of capitalism, link the two. After all, western European democracy (which includes the U S) was established by avowed capitalists to function as democracy. So one would think the two would thrive together and be mutually compatible. Wrong. As capitalism succeeds world wide, democracy disappears. The antithesis of capitalism is not communism, but democracy. Case in point would be the recent courthouse lighting for the first Pride event in downtown Newark, Ohio. The back story is that 3 GOP commissioners, Duane Flowers, Rick Black, and forever commissioner Tim Bubb, formulated a strict ideological courthouse lighting policy after receiving a written petition to light the courthouse in rainbow colors for the first Pride event. The policy stipulates 19 colorations with no exception except if the commissioners decide to make exception (outside input excepted). Tim Bubb’s newly renovated courthouse, which includes fully computerized lighting, is now an issue of contention within the county seat. Analysis calls the reader’s attention to the 4-29-18 Newark Advocate Our View, submitted by the “editorial board” (they all sat together in one room and collaborated on the essay? Who wrote it? The reader is to believe that this is “the view” of the corporate entity): “But more importantly, the policy adopted is wrong for the community. The county should have an inclusive policy that allows outside civic organizations and events to petition for the courthouse to be lit in their colors. Such petitions should require those groups to cover the entire cost of programming and operating the lights, whether that’s $100, $1,000 or more.” This resembles a “reasonable” resolution until one does the math – the computerized lighting is already installed and paid for, there are 365 days in the year (not 19), and any teenager who has a smart phone where their hand ought to be could program the lights in less than half an hour. The Advocate’s resolution of this contentious issue embraces the SCOTUS Citizens United ruling whereby corporations are deemed “persons” and money is speech. What else would one expect from Our View’s corporate speak? No, it is a dialectical matter. As the purchase of elected officials and policies becomes more “natural” (capitalism) so the self-governance of the actual living inhabitants by the actual living inhabitants diminishes and dies (democracy).