Posts Tagged ‘Tim Bubb’

How Citizens United Matters In Newark Ohio

October 3, 2017

“Residents rally against move of gazebo from Courthouse Square” headlined today in the Advocate (Kent Mallett, 10-3-17). “Gazebo” will get tagged while “residents” will be taken for granted. After all, residents of a neighborhood association, block watch or school zone will often times coordinate to demand/petition council to address a safety concern, traffic situation, etc. And council will needs be attentive as residents vote, whether they own property or not. They reside in the voting precinct. Who else is there to vote? With Newark City Council’s recent passage of the downtown SID a curious twist has appeared in the neighborhood/council relationship. Essentially, the SID has created a “neighborhood association” which not only can demand/petition council equitably with any other Newark neighborhood, but has the added advantage of being semi-autonomous. The “persons” in this neighborhood are self-governing, something other Newark residential neighborhoods don’t enjoy. Membership has nothing to do with residency, and everything to do with property ownership. The “residents” of this neighborhood are likewise not voters (people with the capacity to vote). They likewise needn’t even reside in Newark (or Licking County for that matter). And yet they can make decisions as to the way their neighborhood is to be. Just as “old MacDonald had a farm” is a complete fabrication of the nature of farms and farming in the US today, so is the sole proprietor, owner-operator “mom and pop” account of business owners and business in downtown Newark. The vast majority of properties owned, businesses owned and conducted are within the structure of corporation (check deed title listings at the county engineers/recorders if you’d like. There is a map that lists who owns which parcel. Few of the names are individual entities). And as we all know, corporations are entities that exist “solely in contemplation of the law.” And thus do not vote. But wait, the highest court in the land ruled that they are “persons” (Citizens United ruling). So, as persons, they can politically organize, be semi-autonomous, and self-govern their neighborhood. What is the cost of admission to this neighborhood association? Well, exactly that. If you have money to spend, you are welcome downtown. Just passing through, keep moving (to another neighborhood). Don’t bring your own picnic to enjoy under the trees, or let the kids run around on the grass, or gather at the Gazebo. Grass, picnic tables and Gazebo are not part of the business plan for these “persons”. From Mallett: “The mayor said the Canal Market Plaza, opened last year just south of the Square, is a better place for concerts and community events, allowing performers and the audience to be under roof, out of the rain or sun. Hall did not attend the council meeting as he was home sick.” “Safety Director Steve Baum explained the gazebo is not compliant with the Americans With Disabilities Act, and its presence has become a security issue. “There are problems with homeless people sleeping under it, on it, around it,” Baum said. “Security is not the same for government buildings anymore. Our courthouse lawn is not necessarily the site for certain venues.”” Mallett quotes Carol Floyd, D-7th Ward who inadvertently blurts out what everyone knows but denies: “”I do not want us to become a community of ‘them’ and ‘us.’ I want to be an inclusive community that welcomes everybody, not us — the nice, normal people that don’t want the homeless or those who don’t have very much.” Thanks to the workings of Citizens United, the SID facilitates the downtown neighborhood’s charging admission. Well, OK, no ticket or reservation required. But you’d better bring a credit card or cash.

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Duck Soup

September 26, 2017

From this blog’s 6-1-17 posting (El SID And The Poppies): “Why is a SID an integral part of gentrification? To increase property values (for the non voting property owners of the district – in 2013 Analysis also found that of the remaining not government, religious, or bank property owners, few were individually named, most were corporate legal entities) rents need to be higher across the board (like the neglected house on the block determining neighborhood value). A SID does specifically that. As a tax, it increases the property owner’s costs which in turn increases the operating expense for any business located there. Marginally profitable businesses will exit as they did prior to the large scale construction of downtown several years ago. Ditto for any other renters (i.e. residential tenants). Upscale enterprises (with capital backing) move in and, Voila! The SID has functioned perfectly as planned. In the meantime Newark’s City Council will wrestle with the tsunami of legalized marijuana while this disenfranchised mandate will pass like shit through a duck.” The Newark news of today and the past week confirms this. From the Newark Advocate these headlines “Newark City Council rejects medical marijuana zoning proposal” (9-26-17), “Gazebo to move from courthouse grounds to former children’s home site” (9-26-17). Prior to that “Special tax coming for downtown Newark after Newark City Council approval” (9-21-17) and “Parking around Licking County Courthouse — ‘bad idea’ or ‘a winner’” (9-22-17). In the 9-26 Gazebo article Kent Mallett writes “The Children’s Home was demolished in 2013. It was built in 1886, serving as a county children’s home before it was decommissioned in the 1970s. It later housed county offices and a medical clinic before closing in 2009.” Sub-context to Mallett’s historic context is that justification for relocating the county jail to a “new” building on East Main was that the old jail was encrusted with black mold – impossible to eradicate (and therefore unhealthy). In 2009 commissioners chose to neglect upkeep on the Children’s Home while maintaining the “old” jail for storage. A central decision maker resulting in the Children’s Home being demolished and the “old” jail being maintained was current commissioner Tim Bubb. In the 9-22 Parking article Mallett again provides context. After reporting the meeting location as the Double Tree hotel, he states “The meeting, by Newark Development Partners community improvement corporation, included several small group discussions and reports, and presentation of a downtown parking study by OHM Advisors, a Columbus architecture, engineering and planning firm.” No decision has been made regarding the proposal promoted by NDP. Analysis finds the 9-26 Gazebo article indicates otherwise. Again Mallett, “Bubb added, “It was the only place in downtown you could do a performance. Now, the Canal Market provides a much better venue. The gazebo, in my observation, lived its life as a performance venue.”” Analysis discovers this to be the same authority on the “life” (and death) of the Children’s Home. Sub context on the Canal Market goes back to these same days (of jail, Children’s Home, and square renovation). The Canal Market was the “dream’ of a local philanthropist who controlled the essential property (adjacent the “old” jail). Analysis surmises he would not commit to “renovate” this property and materialize his dream unless the surrounding county/city did likewise (parking garage construction being the initial goodwill gesture). No coincidence that the jail was saved while the Home disappeared (and the jail as a public transportation hub was completely dissed). No coincidence that moving the gazebo was sooo important at the start of the courthouse renovation. At the time Newark resident appeal prevented the earlier move, now in play for projected parking space. In the 9-21 Special Tax article Maria DeVito writes “Now that the district has been approved by council, the next step is to create a board of people who will run the district, Ernest said. The board will have five people on it. Three who are voted on by the property owners within the district, one appointed by the mayor and one appointed by city council, Ernest said. It will be up to the board members to decide what the district should use the money for each year out of the parameters that have been set up by the district, which include services such as parking enforcement, safety and security, litter control, graffiti removal, visitor ambassadors, special projects and marketing, Ernest said.” Analysis finds this to be the same Fred Ernest, head of the Newark Development Partners (integral to downtown gentrification). Analysis finds that nowhere in this convoluted history of manipulation of public spaces, public funding, and public “interest” is there any voter input. Nowhere is there resident input. The parking meeting like the much earlier courthouse square design meeting were both held at the hotel, a member of the NPD (not at a public space like the library, school auditorium, etc.). While Rome burns (or in this case is gentrified) those elected to represent the residents of Newark are more concerned with nitpicking marijuana distribution center location (“The state has already prohibited dispensaries from being located within 500 feet of a school, church, public library, public playground or public park. Mangus’ proposal also would have prohibited dispensaries from being 500 feet from a residentially zoned area.” “Fraizer would also like for dispensaries to not be allowed with 1,000 feet of a school, church, public library, public playground or public park.” 9-26 Council Rejects). More circus? “The SID has functioned perfectly as planned. In the meantime Newark’s City Council will wrestle with the tsunami of legalized marijuana while this disenfranchised mandate will pass like shit through a duck.”

Licking County Has No Housing Problem

August 27, 2017

A seemingly mundane article headlined the 8-27-17 Sunday Advocate. County auditor may reject additional borrowing, cites state report by veteran Advocate journalist Kent Mallet reports on the fiscal condition of Licking County and its municipalities. Of note is “The state auditor’s financial health review of the 2016 performance of Ohio cities and counties shows Licking County government with 15 positive outlooks, one cautionary and one critical. The critical category is debt service expenditures to total revenue.” with the usual no problemo rebuttal “The commissioner [Tim Bubb] said he takes seriously the review from the state auditor, but maintains the county is in good financial shape. “It’s something we need to look at, but we’ve borrowed cautiously and have debt service capacity to repay it,” Bubb said. “If repayment was questionable, we probably wouldn’t have done the borrowing.”” Is it a problem? When is a problem a “problem”? Appearing the same day but requiring enormous commitment to read was an in depth Pro Publica/New York magazine publication entitled Is Anybody Home at HUD? By Alec MacGillis (8-27-17). The article describes a mini me version of the White House administration in terms of one of its cabinet positions – HUD. Along with the usual intrigues of nepotism and secrecy (press coverage suppression/manipulation) is a harrowing trail of fiscal activity. Analysis finds the article itself would justify its own post but must note only some of what is relevant: “HUD has long been something of an overlooked stepchild within the federal government. Founded in 1965 in a burst of Great Society resolve to confront the “urban crisis,” it has seen its manpower slide by more than half since the Reagan Revolution. (The HUD headquarters is now so eerily underpopulated that it can’t even support a cafeteria; it sits vacant on the first floor.) But HUD still serves a function that millions of low-income Americans depend on — it funds 3,300 public-housing authorities with 1.2 million units and also the Section 8 rental-voucher program, which serves more than 2 million families; it has subsidized tens of millions of mortgages via the Federal Housing Administration; and, through various block grants, it funds an array of community uplift initiatives.” Some giving rather ambiguous clarity as to the thinking, direction and leadership of its head, Ben Carson, would be: “On March 6 [2017], Carson arrived for his first day of work at headquarters. In introductory remarks to assembled employees, after he’d gotten the mic back from his wife, he surprised many by asking them to raise their hands and “take the niceness pledge.” He also went on a riff about immigrants arriving at Ellis Island, capped by this: “That’s what America is about, a land of dreams and opportunity. There were other immigrants who came here in the bottom of slave ships, worked even longer, even harder, for less. But they, too, had a dream that one day their sons, daughters, grandsons, granddaughters, great-grandsons, great-granddaughters, might pursue prosperity and happiness in this land.”” ““You know, governments that look out for property rights also tend to look out for other rights. You know, freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom of all the things that make America America. So it is absolutely foundational to our success … On Sunday, I was talking to a large group of children about what’s happening with rights in our country. These are kids who had all won a Carson Scholar [an award of $1,000 that Carson has sponsored since 1994], which you have to have at least a 3.75 grade-point average on a 4.0 scale and show that you care about other people, and I said you’re going to be the leaders of our nation and will help to determine which pathway we go down, a pathway where we actually care about those around us and we use our intellect to improve the quality of life for everyone, or the pathway where we say, “I don’t want to hear you if you don’t believe what I believe, I want to shut you down, you don’t have any rights.” This is a serious business right now where we are, that juncture in our country that will determine what happens to all of us as time goes on. But the whole housing concern is something that concerns us all.” [5-2-17 speech to the American Land Title Association]” with the more recent clarification “(Just last week, Carson said, in the wake of racially tinged violence in Charlottesville, that the controversy over Trump’s support of white supremacists there was “blown out of proportion” and echoed the president’s “both sides” language when referring to “hatred and bigotry.”)”. Oh, the fiscal element in all this – “After word emerged in early March that the White House was considering cutting as much as $6 billion from the department, Carson had sent a rare email to HUD employees assuring them that this was just a preliminary figure. But as it turned out, Carson, as a relative political outsider lacking strong connections to the administration, was out of the loop: The final proposal crafted by Trump budget director Mick Mulvaney called for cutting closer to $7 billion, 15 percent of its total budget. Participants in the Section 8 voucher program would need to pay at least 17 percent more of their income toward rent, and there’d likely be a couple hundred thousand fewer vouchers nationwide (and 13,000 fewer in New York City). Capital funding for public housing would be slashed by a whopping 68 percent — this, after years of cuts that, in New York alone, had left public-housing projects with rampant mold, broken elevators and faulty boilers.” The previous day (8-26-17), reporting for AP, Jeff Martin and Robert Ray headlined Homeless wary as Atlanta closes its last-resort shelter. Of note: “For decades, as many as 1,000 people with nowhere else to turn could come off the street at Peachtree and Pine, no questions asked. But years of litigation wore down the shelter’s operators. After epic battles against the city, tuberculosis, bed bugs and other hazards, the Metro Atlanta Task Force for the Homeless settled out of court and sold its enormous industrial building to Central Atlanta Progress, a downtown business group.” “Atlanta, however, is closing Peachtree-Pine without having first developed the capacity to replace it, said Anita Beaty, who retired six months ago as executive director of the task force. “It’s a terrible mistake,” Beaty said. “The forces in Atlanta who don’t want homeless people visible — and certainly not on Peachtree Street — are extremely powerful.” The shelter occupies some the most valuable real estate in the South, a few blocks from the 55-story Bank of America Plaza, the city’s tallest skyscraper. Its occupants mingle with business executives and theater patrons on a stretch of Peachtree that includes the iconic Fox Theatre and the Georgian Terrace Hotel, where Clark Gable and other Hollywood stars stayed for the Atlanta premiere of “Gone With The Wind.” “All they want to do is build high-price housing that most people are not going to be able to afford, and that’s not just down here — that’s everywhere in the country,” said Anthony Murphy, 68, who has lived at Peachtree-Pine since 2011.” And the concluding “Having “low-barrier” shelter beds available to people who have been told they can’t stay elsewhere is a matter of life and death, said Carl Hartrampf, who has run the task force since Beaty left. “I believe they’re going to find out they need more than they think.”” Analysis indicates likewise.

 

What We Have Learned From The Past Election

May 3, 2017

No, not the one in 2016 (that’s so yesterday). The recent one this past Tuesday, May 2nd. But first, as an opening act, Analysis would like to go back a little to a pre-election announcement, one not directly concerned with “local” politics (though all politics is local). On April 21st The Newark Advocate reported local civil engineers Jobes Henderson’s upcoming change of ownership. Actually the announcement was more in terms of their leaving the business on account of that pesky old ACA (Health insurance costs factor in Jobes Henderson sale Kent Mallett , Reporter). But the buried lead in the article was that they were being bought out by Hull and Associates which itself didn’t seem to be too bothered by that pesky old ACA (well, not enough to keep them from growing larger by buying out Jobes Henderson). Hmmmm, curious how business and the market work. Back to the election which is already in progress (CNN refused to run a political ad for the 2020 re-election of the current apprentice, er, president). The events of this past Tuesday refuted the leadership of Licking County’s own “brand” Commissioner (and the Advocate’s go to commission spokesperson), Tim Bubb. A minor, within the GOP family, dust up occurred between County Auditor Mike Smith and the commish. Seems the commissioner took it for granted that the business of government is business, and assumed 911 services are not unlike parks, aging or disability services, to be franchised separately by the county. Au contraire said Mr. Smith shortly before the election (Analysis finds it is always better late than never). The business of county government IS social concerns, and services like 911 are just that. The levy proposal was just a property tax increase dressed up like a township fire or school levy (and we all know what happens when you mix lipstick and pigs). The voters, those who bothered to vote, agreed. What we’ve learned: That capitalism is about capital. That the market is predicated on capital, and not social concerns (remember Jobes Henderson?). That government is about social concerns and services – keeping the water safe to drink, ensuring that sewage disposal is treated properly, maintaining public health and safety in more ways than that (including police, fire, emergency rescue and their dispatch), etc. May 3rd NPR’s Market Place reported, as a side bar, that on account of the current environment of mergers and takeovers, even large companies like General Mills are taking steps to avoid getting gobbled up (both literally and figuratively) (well, OK, they want their products gobbled up, literally). Mr. Bubb has been the champion of public subsidy for business and the market through everything from tax credits, specialized individual infrastructure improvements, to funding Grow Licking County, Newark Port Authority, yadda, yadda while cutting services in public transportation, Jobs and Family Services, housing and public health. With the recent election Analysis finds an inkling of discernment. The business of government isn’t “all about jobs.” The business of government is not to subsidize and fund the market. The business of government is social service, and government needs to address that concern.

Alternative Facts Indeed!

January 25, 2017

Media world is all abuzz these days over “Alternative facts” with Amazon showing George Orwell’s 1984 shooting to number one in sales and many journalists (finally?) taking a stance and calling “alternative facts” just plain lies. Double speak or lies, facts don’t exist in a vacuum but are always found clustered with many of their friends and associates – namely context and environment. Analysis finds the following “tale of the tape” to exemplify the way facts change with regard to context: How many times has this blog quoted former president of Licking County Commissioners, Tim Bubb, as saying “We just can’t afford that.” One case of the “that” is public transportation, especially in the metro Newark area. 1-25-17 The Plain Dealer’s Ginger Christ headlines Public transit funding crucial in strengthening Ohio, report says. “In the report, Policy Matters, a nonprofit organization funded by foundations and community groups, points to the tax cuts made under Governor John Kasich as partially at the root of the state’s troubles in education, workforce, poverty and hunger.” “Ohio funds only 1 percent of public transportation in the state. Yet, the Ohio Department of Transportation’s Transit Needs Study said the state should provide 10 percent of transit’s funding.” Same day Jackie Borchardt of Cleveland.com headlines New scorecards show fiscal health of Ohio’s cities and counties, covering Ohio Auditor Dave Yost’s recently released report. Same day, same story only reported by AP in the Newark Advocate headlined State auditor report shows stressed Newark finances. “The auditor’s scorecard measured 17 “financial health indicators” for all 247 cities and 88 counties in Ohio. In each area, local governments were awarded a green, yellow or red mark to indicate a positive, cautionary or critical outlook, respectively, from data last collected in 2015.” (Borchardt) “Historical data indicates entities with at least six “critical” indicators or a combination of eight “critical” and “cautionary” indicators have ended up in a state of high fiscal stress, according to Yost. Newark had five cautionary indicators and two critical indicators for a total of seven.” (AP) Analysis looked at the database and found that Licking County was all green save for one category yellow – “for its ratio of debt service expenditures to total revenue.” (AP) Debt service is what is involved with long term loans or bonds, as in capital improvements. “”It’s an arbitrary set of standards they’ve applied to cities and counties,” Bubb said. “It’s just a number they pick. I take it as a good report for Licking County. I think it’s a compliment to us.”” (AP) 1-16-17 The Dayton Daily News’ Will Garbe and Laura A. Bischoff headlined RTA, other transit authorities could lose strike option Local lawmakers say RTA strike’s impacts shouldn’t be repeated and the state needs to take action. [RTA is Regional Transit Authority, akin to Licking County’s save it has fixed scheduled routes within Dayton, etc.] “Two state House Republicans intend to introduce legislation to prohibit Ohio’s public transit unions from starting strikes like the one suffered last week by the Greater Dayton RTA, the Dayton Daily News has learned. State Reps. Mike Henne and Jeff Rezabek — both Republicans from Clayton — intend to “introduce legislation requiring transit employee unions and local transit authorities to submit to binding community arbitration,” according to an internal Ohio House memo obtained by the newspaper.” Shades of Senate Bill 5! Some of the reasoning quoted by the Daily News is significant: ““I think we need to have a discussion around the best solution to make sure this can never happen again,” said Antani [State Rep. Niraj Antani, R-Miamisburg], who worked to bring the parties to the table on the eve of the strike. “Just like police and fire, the RTA is an essential service for these people trying to get to work and provide a livelihood to their families.”” “The memo from Henne illustrates the impact of strikes not only on riders, but “businesses and the local economy by preventing employees from getting to work and consumers from reaching their destinations.” “With police and fire, we do not allow them to strike and we require them to go to binding arbitration because they provide a service that cannot be interrupted,” Henne said in an interview. “My contention is the regional transit authorities have an economic value to the community that should not be interrupted.”” According to the database of Yost’s recent report, the city of Dayton is akin to Licking County – all green with one cautionary yellow. But Montgomery County, location of the RTA, is not, having three yellows, the rest green. Is public transportation “essential service”, vital to “businesses and the local economy” by getting employees to work and consumers to their destinations – “a service that cannot be interrupted”? If so, what does Commissioner Bubb base his refusal of Public Transportation priority on? Analysis finds that facts within context would indicate that Newark’s financial stress would be greatly relieved if the County Commissioners, who meet (and sit) in the county seat, would substantially invest in expanded and fixed schedule public transportation “an essential service for these people trying to get to work and provide a livelihood to their families.” Alternative facts indeed!

Bowling For Community Connectors

December 14, 2016

Language can be revealing. The extended presidential election of the past two years speaks eloquently to that. Words matter (though not always in color). Remember the brouhaha in Florida over whether the state employees were allowed to utter “climate change”, “global warming” or none of the above? Analysis finds it most revealing when words morph into other meanings than those intended. Case in point – the word “funding” has morphed into “investment”. The dictionary meanings are not at all the same. The primary meaning given for investment is “the action or process of investing money for profit or material result”. Secondary meanings all embrace return “worth buying because it may be profitable or useful in the future” and “an act of devoting time, etc. to a particular undertaking with the expectation of a worthwhile result”. Funding is simple “money provided, esp. by an organization or government, for a particular purpose.” [as well as the act of doing such]. Not complicated, but notice the shift in usage: Grow Licking County seeks additional investors in 2017 Kent Mallett , The Advocate, 12-14-16 – “Nate Strum, economic development director for the Licking County Chamber of Commerce and Grow Licking County, said he’d like to see about 50 investors in 2017.” “The organization received contributions from 31 investors in 2016, including $150,000 from the Licking County commissioners. Other top contributors were: Heath-Newark-Licking County Port Authority, $25,000; city of Heath, $12,000; and $10,000 each from the cities of Newark and Pataskala, the villages of Hebron and Johnstown, Energy Cooperative, and the Newark campus of Ohio State University and Central Ohio Technical College.” Even GLC member and County Commissioner Tim Bubb got in a plug “”Grow Licking County should be invested across the county, from all sectors,” Bubb said. “It sends the right message. Early investors did so without a track record. This shouldn’t be that painful because the results are there.”” What Analysis finds painful is that over half the funding for GLC comes from sources that themselves are funded by, well, public funding. Is this a trend? In his 2014 State of the State address Ohio Governor Kasich spoke “And we’re going to launch a new initiative, Community Connectors. It’s an initiative to support the best ideas in our state for bringing together schools, parents, communities, community organizations, faith-based groups, business leaders, and, of course, our students in mentoring efforts based on proven practices. We’re going to ask you, the Legislature, to take the $10 million from casino receipts, and we’re going to ask you to create a program that will give these communities a $3 match for every dollar they put in to build these mentoring efforts.” June 2014 saw fruition of Community Connectors with Kasich signing House Bill 483. 12-14-16 The Dispatch’s Mark Williams headlines Kasich panel suggests ways to prepare Ohio kids for jobs. “Ohio Gov. John Kasich appointed a panel composed of legislators, business leaders, labor leaders, educators and others to examine ways to make students better prepared to enter the workforce. Business leaders could one day serve on local school boards in a nonvoting capacity. More internships and apprentice programs would help students learn about — and prepare for — careers. Teachers would have opportunities to spend time in the workplace to learn more about what their students need to know to be successful in the workplace. The ideas were among proposals released Tuesday by Gov. John Kasich’s Executive Workforce Board. The recommendations are meant to address, among other things, longstanding employer complaints that they can’t find people with the right skill set to fill jobs.” “One recommendation is for local school boards to appoint three nonvoting members to represent local business interests and for school officials to get involved in local business groups. The report suggests teachers could get credits as part of their license renewals for externships so that they could gain a better understanding of business needs.” Analysis notes the slippage from “funding” to “investment” by the expectations “for profit or material result.” But The Dispatch was too kind in its reporting of what those results were to be. 12-18-14 The Plain Dealer’s Patrick O’Donnell headlined Schools need a religious partner if they want any of Gov. Kasich’s student mentorship money. “HB 483, as it went into law, makes faith-based organizations an option equal to “civic organizations” and business, but not a requirement.” But “Any school district that wants a piece of that state money must partner with both a church and a business – or a faith-based organization and a non-profit set up by a business to do community service. No business and no faith-based partner means no state dollars. “You must include a faith-based partner,” United Way of Greater Cleveland President Bill Kitson, told potential applicants at an information session the United Way hosted Thursday here in Cleveland. Kitson sits on Kasich’s advisory panel for the program, called “Community Connectors,” which is taking applications for grants now.” No matter the nitty gritty of the outcome or present status, “funding” has morphed into “investment” with the emphasis on “for profit or material result.” The old joke was about “revenue enhancement” being used to elide pronouncing the word “tax.” Last word, er, joke: “Kitson noted that $10 million is not a lot of money. The United Way, he said, is spending $2.5 million to service people in 25 Cleveland schools – about a quarter of the schools in the district. Doing that for the whole district would cost $10 million – the same amount available statewide for Community Connectors – so the state program will likely tackle single schools or just a few at a time.”

Cleansing

December 5, 2016

“July 8, 1910 was a dark day in Newark, Ohio history. Carl Etherington, a detective with the Anti-Saloon League of Ohio, had come to Newark to raid saloons and speakeasies for illegal alcohol. Etherington shot local saloon owner William Howard in self-defense, and was taken to the jail. In retaliation for the agents’ activities, a mob formed. The crowd stormed the north side door of the jail, forcibly removed Etherington, and hanged him from a telephone pole on the southeast corner of the courthouse square.” (lcjail.org website)

“The historic Licking County jail could make money as a tourist attraction, but first, cash is needed to make required safety improvements. That was the pitch Licking County Governmental Preservation Society President Jim Young made to the Licking County commissioners on Tuesday…” “Commissioner Tim Bubb said the county has committed to so many costly projects, it’s not known whether the 2017 budget has room for any more. The Licking County Courthouse restoration, county annex and records center renovation on East Main Street, ongoing county bridge improvement program, and current Licking County jail maintenance combine for an expensive to-do list that will include borrowing money. “We have a lot of capital commitments,” Bubb said. “We don’t have enough money to do everything we need to do this year. I can’t remember us feeling any more pressure for capital dollars than we do this year. 2017 — you couldn’t ask for a more difficult year.”” “A philanthropic donation from the Gilbert Reese Family Foundation paid for last year’s exterior cleaning of the jail, at a cost of about $230,000. The cleaning transformed the blackened exterior to a reddish look.” (Commissioners consider improvements to historic jail Kent Mallett, The Advocate Reporter 11-29-16)                                                                                                     “In other cases, reappropriation on the part of an actor from the media or the government tends to legitimate politicians who want to look like heirs of the founding fathers or of the nation’s foundational events. Tourist industry practices bring a hegemonic modality with a different meaning. In either case, criticism usually focuses on the “distortion” of the monument’s original meaning, as if every building or object in the nation’s heritage were destined to remain forever unchanged – as if erecting a statue to commemorate a founding father or adapting a historic building to be repurposed as a bank or as government offices wasn’t already a contingent interpretation of its social meaning.” (Nestor Garcia Canclini “Art Beyond Itself” pg. 38) Both modalities are at play in Licking County today. The first: “Escalating renovation costs at the Licking County Courthouse, along with other capital improvements, spurred Auditor Mike Smith to question county spending decisions in a Thursday meeting with the county commissioners. Smith said he heard last year the courthouse project would cost close to $10 million, instead of the initial $4 million cost approved by the commissioners.” “In addition to the courthouse, the commissioners announced the Child Support Enforcement Agency building at 65 E. Main St., needs a repair and restoration project estimated to cost up to $3.8 million.” “Another building expense is the creation of a records center in a building at 675 W. Church St. purchased four years ago from the Licking County Board of Developmental Disabilities. The project has been estimated to cost from $1.5 million to $2 million.” (Auditor: Courthouse cost spike to $10M unsurprising Kent Mallett, The Advocate Reporter 7-28-16). The second modality is repurposing the old jail as a haunted hoochie: “The haunted attraction takes visitors through the historic Licking County Jail, filled with a “morgue from hell” and 30 actors dressed as zombies and vintage clowns.” (Mallett 11-29-16)                                                                                                               But wait, there’s more. The Advocate’s Kent Mallett headlines Care for abuse, neglected children breaking JFS budget (12-2-16). “”Paying for the care of the kids is obviously bankrupting us,” [Licking County Job and Family Services Director John] Fisher said. “We can’t just abandon these children. We can’t control who enters our services and who doesn’t. Our mission is to help families and children involved in abuse and neglect situations and do our best to heal that.”” “”We’ve got needs across the board,” Bubb said. “We don’t have these extra $1 million to $2 million we can keep throwing at things. We can’t sustain this going forward. We’re looking at some loss of revenue next year courtesy of the state.” The county’s foster care costs increased from $7.1 million in 2014 to $9 million in 2015, and on pace for $9.2 million this year. “We’re sitting here looking at the numbers and don’t see the faces,” Bubb told Fisher. “You see the faces. We’re frustrated too.”” Analysis finds this is where it gets kinda gnarly. Capital improvements, funded by long term loans, selling municipal bonds (a kind of mortgage due way off in the future), are a very sanitized expense on a budget sheet. They produce an immediate tangible result that can be pointed at. Contrary to Commissioner Bubb’s empathetic sigh of frustration, LCJFS operating expenses are always faceless. A wall greater and more effective than any Donnie Trump can fantasize insures that the needy stay out, the resources remain in. The wall consists of the legal statutes in place mandating the confidentiality and anonymity of the clients served by LCJFS. The artist Krzysztof Wodiczko is known for projecting historic images on a building or monument from that structure’s past, literally putting a face on a façade. Due to the wall, Analysis finds that one can (in actuality) only imagine projecting the faces of children and families held in “bond”age on the red stone of the old jail – prisoners of an economics that favors facades over faces, capital over persons. “Bubb said the building improvements are not annual expenses and will save the county money in the long run, but the work can’t be overlooked any longer.” (Mallett 7-28-16).

Follow Ups

October 29, 2016

This past week found numerous news items easily subsumed by those dealing with the run up to the election. Among these were two dealing with matters Analysis has covered recently. 10-26-16 Financial Times headlines “Renewables overtake coal as world’s largest source of power capacity Though coal still generates more electricity, wind and solar installations hit record”. Notable is: “Two wind turbines went up every hour in countries such as China, according to International Energy Agency officials who have sharply upgraded their forecasts of how fast renewable energy sources will keep growing. “We are witnessing a transformation of global power markets led by renewables,” said Fatih Birol, executive director of the global energy advisory agency. Part of the growth was caused by falls in the cost of solar and onshore wind power that Mr Birol said would have been “unthinkable” only five years ago.” “Average global generation costs for new onshore wind farms fell by an estimated 30 per cent between 2010 and 2015 while those for big solar panel plants fell by an even steeper two-thirds, an IEA report published on Tuesday showed. The Paris-based agency thinks costs are likely to fall even further over the next five years, by 15 per cent on average for wind and by a quarter for solar power.” A power plant’s capacity is the maximum amount of electricity it can potentially produce. The amount of energy a plant actually generates varies according to how long it produces power over a period of time. Because a wind or solar farm cannot generate constantly like a coal power plant, it will produce less energy over the course of a year even though it may have the same or higher level of capacity. Coal power plants supplied close to 39 per cent of the world’s power in 2015, while renewables, including older hydropower dams, accounted for 23 per cent, IEA data show. But the agency expects renewables’ share of power generation to rise to 28 per cent by 2021, when it predicts they will supply the equivalent of all the electricity generated today in the US and EU combined. It has revised its five-year forecasts to show renewables’ capacity will grow 13 per cent more than its estimate made just last year, mostly because of stronger policy backing in the US, China, India and Mexico. Here in Ohio, AEP has successfully pressured the legislature to call a “time out” on a previously legislated percent requirement for energy generated from renewables. AEP has unsuccessfully obtained a consumer paid subsidy for its unneeded coal fired power plants (to be kept in service as “back ups”). Failing that, they are now in the process of try to divest ownership of these power plants (selling them). Analysis finds Tim Bubb’s embrace of this corporation for its “investment” in the County subsidized Pastakala Corporate Park to be short sighted and uninformed. In an Analysis post entitled “On An Aspirin Regimen” (9-16-16) another, this time global corporate activity, was considered. Residual amounts of glyphosate are found in much of the basic food people have available to eat – even “organic” mountain honey. Studies of this resulted from the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) finding glyphosate (the major toxic component of Monsanto’s Round Up) to be a likely carcinogenic. Now in true Donnie Trump style we have this Reuters exclusive “WHO cancer agency asked experts to withhold weedkiller documents” by Kate Kelland (10-25-16). In the mode of suing the sources of criticism, and historically in the foot prints of the tobacco industry’s suppression/intimidation of research on the effects of nicotine (as well as energy industries’ like behavior in regard to global warming), “The World Health Organization’s cancer agency – which is facing criticism over how it classifies carcinogens – advised academic experts on one of its review panels not to disclose documents they were asked to release under United States freedom of information laws. In a letter and an email seen by Reuters, officials from the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) cautioned scientists who worked on a review in 2015 of the weedkiller glyphosate against releasing requested material. The review, published in March 2015, concluded glyphosate is “probably carcinogenic,” putting IARC at odds with regulators around the world. Critics say they want the documents to find out more about how IARC reached its conclusion.” “Its critics, including in industry, say the way IARC evaluates whether substances might be carcinogenic can cause unnecessary health scares. IARC assesses the risk of a substance being carcinogenic without taking account of typical human exposure to it. Glyphosate is a key ingredient of the herbicide Roundup, sold by Monsanto. According to data published by IARC, glyphosate was registered in over 130 countries as of 2010 and is one of the most heavily used weedkillers in the world. Pressure has been growing on the experts who worked on IARC’s glyphosate review in part because other regulators, including in the United States, Europe, Canada, Japan and New Zealand, say the weedkiller is unlikely to pose a cancer risk to humans.” The article primarily turns on the ownership of the research and the legality of its disclosure. IARC researchers work in various institutions and facilities worldwide, some of them government affiliated (like universities). Global corporate interests are also world wide and utilize individual national laws to force disclosure of findings while sanctioning their own research results as “private”, trade secrets. “Monsanto’s vice president of strategy, Scott Partridge, told Reuters he considered IARC’s actions “ridiculous.” “The public deserves a process that is guided by sound science, not IARC’s secret agendas,” he said. Responding to Reuters’ questions about the letter and email, IARC said it had been previously informed by experts on the panel who “had been approached by interested parties, including lawyers representing Monsanto . . . and asked to release private emails as well as draft scientific documents.”” Despite the quaint attraction of Newark’s Canal Street Market, Analysis finds this news to be further indication of corporate efforts to legally obfuscate what is in food and where it comes from. Analysis finds it hard to imagine vendors like the Byrd Farm informing their buyers that “Oh, by the way, what you just bought includes a healthy dose of glyphosate.” Glyphosate free? Not.

What The Hell Have You Got To Lose?

October 26, 2016

This election year in the US stands out with its, er, “unique” interpretation of democracy (As Harry Shearer says “We know how to run an election.”). Much has been said and written about the lack of empathy for the conservative GOP on the outcome of the primaries with its presidential candidate (“They got what they deserve.”). Much of that centers around non issue, non existent, non substantive quotes, talking points and headlines proffered by the self same candidate (“Well, it just may be… I don’t know”). Whether it be the overt saber rattling as an outcome of the party’s continuous active resistance to policies not embracing war, the disparagement of people of color, immigrants, “others” etc. after the party’s championing (pre-Scalia’s passing) conservative SCOTUS rulings in favor of dismantling affirmative action, voting rights, pay equity, etc. The latest is the conservative GOP’s squirming and disavowal when it comes to their presidential candidate’s claims of vote fraud; this after years of voter ID legislation, gerrymandering and disenfranchisement efforts – all based on the drum beat of (statistically negligible) “voter fraud!” The raison d’etre of this very blog is to draw the link, to follow the thread between what is large and “out there” (as news, policy, etc.) and what is local, next door, just around the block. Just as global warming is produced by individual (AEP) power plants, cars, trees being cut down (for Amazonian soy bean production), etc. so what the GOP candidate is about that has his party in a tizzy can be found with that same party and electoral process here in Licking County. In terms of leadership, the county commissioner race tops the ticket. The GOP incumbent boasts continuous leadership with the convenient alibi of being part of a troika for anything not. The county is flush with cash, businesses like Amazon are moving in with Jobs! and the courthouse renovations will include built-in Christmas lighting (that will last another 50 years!!!). Unexposed, lest their spirits haunt an otherwise fraud free election, is the lack of affordable housing implicating continuous evictions (for a county with a lower unemployment rate than the state, like working in Manhattan but can’t afford to live there), lack of fixed schedule public transportation to get to all these jobs (which fuels the evictions), lack of funding resulting in the county’s Jobs and Family Services having to “make do” with less and less (to temporarily rescue the folks affected by the lack of affordable housing without adequate transportation to get to the plethora of low paying precarious jobs in the county that Tim built), lack of affordable child care (for the working parent affected by the lack of affordable housing without adequate transportation to get to the plethora of low paying precarious jobs in the county that Tim built), as well as public health services. Most major metropolitan counties (in the US) include these matters within their county public services and provide for them – if not regionally, then locally. But shucks, we’re just a struggling rural county (there’s that city versus rural thread that dominates national analysis of the GOP presidential candidate’s popularity). What does the incumbent commissioner have to crow about? His vast real estate and business expertise, of course. As a sitting Grow Licking County board member (talk about rural! Nothing more rural than “Grow”) he knows a good buy when he sees one. And he has seen more than one. Like his party’s presidential candidate he has spent heavily on building, land, development and gambling interests. The $10 mil “gamble” spent on making private property in Pataskala “Jobs Ready” has been a shrinking violet wall flower as the dance of commerce swirls around it (not to mention the Port Authority futures’ “gamble” on the Diocesan PIME property). The commissioner’s heralding that finally a sizeable bean field of the Pataskala Corporate Park will sell to become an AEP storage facility obfuscates no real estate tax earnings for 15 years. Given the history of photography (from film to digital to smart phone and tablet), computers (from IBM main frame to PC to Dick Tracy, er, Suri wrist watch.) and telecommunications (from line phone to mobile phone to cell phones that operate globally) it is a big “if” whether AEP will be around much after that (remember IBM?). So another “For Sale or Lease. Will build to suit” sign will go up after the abatement runs out. Another savant commissioner coup is the millions spent to find a home for the homeless. No, not those homeless, but the courthouse records which got evicted from their attic roost in the, well, courthouse. They’re certainly not finding a home in the cloud (where the future would indicate they belong), rather two homes (emulating Donald’s know how that tax deductions allow for a second home. Can you say Mar-a-Lago?). Along with his party’s presidential candidate’s penchant for “private” (no, not locker room) wheeling and dealing, the incumbent LC commissioner hosted several “secret” meetings and conversations (in violation of legislation requiring openness and transparency) with the corporations that eventually landed the courthouse work without a contract (nice work if you can get it. The cost elevator clause is to die for!). Which leaves us with the one statement by the commissioner’s party presidential candidate that has had all the professional political pundits, analysts and talking heads miffed – “What the hell have you got to lose?”

The Patience Of Jobs

July 30, 2016

No, not Steve Jobs. Jobs, the Marxist definition of “selling one’s labor”. The 2016 presidential event has left the primary season behind and now has entered the final phase of two major party candidates with their pitch to the electorate. And once again, “establishment” or “outsider”, the pitch remains jobs. It is still not clear what the attraction is for the electorate of selling one’s labor, or what the magnetism is that sticks it to election cycle after election cycle, for as long as can be remembered. If there was anything to be learned from the Bush years, it was that profit margins are what drive Wall Street, and where the margin isn’t growing, the stock plummets. Where the money to be made is not “enough”, then the property is left to rot (see Where Credit Is Due 7-10-16 for how this happens locally, or remember the old Meijer store on 21st St.?). Yet both major party candidates are focusing their marketing on “the rust belt” promising, what else, jobs. In interviews with residents of these areas over the last 20 years they all ultimately admit “but those jobs are never coming back” (it is what comes after the “but” that is the working end of a “but” statement). Yes 20, as automation drove out a lot of those jobs with the dot com fireworks of the first Clinton administration. Today’s (un)employment statistics- local, statewide or even national- certainly don’t show what the imagined scenario promoted by the two major candidates portrays. By historic standards, it is at or near full employment. What puzzles the Federal Reserve is that, though on the cusp of being too low (contributing to inflation), there is little signs of inflationary trending. In his run for the White House, Ohio’s Governor campaigned, not on any appeal to “rust belt” marketing, but rather on Ohio’s low unemployment. Locally, former radio personality and current Licking County Commission megaphone Tim Bubb repeatedly uses “jobs” when cutting services to public transportation, family services and affordable housing while “spending” tax generated revenue on Grow Licking County (to which he is a board member), tax abatements, credits and incentives for existing/relocating businesses and development. “Selling one’s labor” is trotted out predictably when austerity is called for. When it comes to sharing (or showing) the wealth, then it is secret, “sunshine law” adverse public meetings that result in Bubb’s boondoggle cost overrun real estate projects. “[Auditor Mike] Smith said he heard last year the courthouse project would cost close to $10 million, instead of the initial $4 million cost approved by the commissioners.” (Kent mallet, Newark Advocate “Auditor: Courthouse cost spike to $10M unsurprising” 7-28-16) “In addition to the courthouse, the commissioners announced the Child Support Enforcement Agency building at 65 E. Main St., needs a repair and restoration project estimated to cost up to $3.8 million. The one-year project will be advertised in August, bids will be opened in September and it may be under construction this year, Bubb said. “The last I heard it was going to be $1 million (for CSEA building),” Smith said. “Why take a $700,000 building and put $4 million into it? You can build a new building twice the size for $3.8 million.” Bubb said he does not expect the final cost will be as high as $3.8 million.” Analysis finds no mention of jobs, “selling one’s labor” in any of these real estate partnership deals. It all is about spending the fruits of someone else’s labor. “”Our budget has increased by $45 million to $62 million and we’re still not socking any money away,” Smith said. “With our credit rating, we could borrow more money than we could ever pay back.” Bubb said the building improvements are not annual expenses and will save the county money in the long run, but the work can’t be overlooked any longer.” Analysis predicts commissioner Bubb will mouth the usual “jobs” austerity spiel when requests are made to fund services to county residents that these buildings are intended for (We can’t afford that. What we need is jobs incentives to businesses and Grow Licking County.) Will Licking County residents find a building at 65 E. Main all dressed up with nowhere to go?