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There’s a great old movie called “Teacher’s Pet,” made in 1958, in which Clark Gable plays a hard-nosed newspaper man named James Gannon. He’s in a feud with Doris Day’s character, who is a journalism instructor at a local night school. Gannon thinks going to school for journalism is bogus — the only real way to learn is to sweat it out in the newsroom: 

Teacher’s Pet (1958) Paramount Pictures

“So he’s got more degrees than a thermometer, so he speaks seven languages, so he’s read every book. So what? The important thing is he’s had no experience. He didn’t start at the bottom and work up. That’s the only way you can learn.”

Turns out, there’s lots of people who are starting to agree with Mr. Gannon and this week, National Apprenticeship Week, is dedicated to those kinds of people. I wanted to explore some of the reasons that the apprentice model is having a revival, why it needed a revival at all, and how it is affecting lives right here in Columbus.

I spoke with Beth Gifford, President and CEO of Columbus Works, to get her take on some of these national trends and how her organization is working to change things here. Columbus Works is a non-profit organization providing job training and placement services to area residents living in poverty who desire to advance to economic self-sufficiency through employment. Her insights into the local labor force were incredibly helpful as I started to tackle this question of “why don’t we work with our hands anymore?” 

Changing Attitudes About Work

First it feels important to address a mindset shift that seemed to occur sometime in the past 50 years. Many of our grandfathers worked with their hands. Throughout America’s booming years, there was ample manufacturing– especially in this part of the country. And then somewhere along the line, the idea of working with your hands became somehow less than. There were no shortages of jokes about plumbers or factory workers in sitcoms when I was growing up. It seems that almost everyone united under the premise that a four-year degree in a liberal arts discipline was somehow the pinnacle of education.

Slight hiccup: there’s not tons of practical use for those degrees without further training or even more advanced degrees…

Mike Rowe, the guy from the Dirty Jobs show, talks about this phenomenon all the time:

“I strongly support education in all its forms. I have a college degree, and as I’ve said many times, it’s served me well. But I believe society is making a terrible mistake by promoting college at the expense of all other forms of education. For instance, the surgeon […] will never make it to the hospital to successfully remove my appendix without a functional infrastructure, which depends almost entirely upon an army of skilled tradespeople. And yet, our society clearly values the surgeon far more than mechanic who keeps her car running, or the contractor who put in the roads that allows her to drive to the emergency room.”

America’s College Tuition Crisis

As the quotes above describe, one of the most obvious reasons that people are turning to trades, and one of the most vigorous topics of discussion in the US right now, is the skyrocketing costs of college.

Last year Time magazine looked back through their archives to see how the conversation on college costs had changed over the century they’ve been covering topics of interest to Americans. What they found was that while the costs of tuition have always been of concern to American families, the scale of those costs and increases is at an all-time high. Meaning that proportional to family incomes, the cost of attending college has been inflating exponentially.

While the costs of attending college are rising, the number of students attempting to attend college is also rising  (probably because of that perception that college is the only way to go). But a slimming margin of those people are actually finishing the degrees they set out to achieve. This means rising student loan burdens and declining diplomas. CNBC sites “over 44 million Americans collectively hold more than $1.4 trillion in student loan debt and only 54.8 percent of students graduate in six years.”

The Retiring Workforce

Besides the ever-blooming costs of college and the decreasing odds that those who start to pursue degrees will ever finish them… there is the aging workforce handling those skilled trades jobs Mike Rowe talks about.

During America’s booming manufacturing years, it was considered both lucrative and respectable to pursue a career in a skilled trade. Until, for some reason, we all changed our minds about that…  

Beth Giffords says that “for several decades it was not a priority to encourage youth or students to participate in apprenticeship programs. While there were still apprenticeship programs in place, there was little focus on encouraging participation.”

Now we’re in a collective position where the skilled workers are getting old and they’re ready to retire, but there’s almost nobody ready to take over for them. The stats on baby boomers currently holding skilled trade positions, and how few young workers are in line to replace them, are dumbfounding. Research conducted by Adecco says that by 2020 there will be 31 million jobs vacated by retiring baby boomers without skilled workers ready to take over. These are positions like electricians, HVAC techs, plumbers, pipe fitters, construction workers, and machinists.

But combating that paradigm we’ve created about the superiority of “thinking-based” collegiate careers versus labor-based skilled trades isn’t easy. I asked Beth Giffords about what has changed in the new wave of apprentice work, part of it seems to be effectively conveying the value of the training and part of it seems to be adjusting the nature of the work itself:  

Technical schools, educators, and employers are successfully marketing the value proposition of working in the skilled trades to students, their parents, as well as adults in career transition. Companies have enriched jobs in the skilled trades, to include technology and requiring decision making and judgement. This new skilled trade job is attractive to the 21st century worker.”

Earn While You Learn & Apprenticeship in Columbus

This movement towards experience-based learning has many advantages and there are groups right here in town working to train and employ apprentices in many different fields.

Columbus Works helps to bring people out of unemployment and into lucrative positions. And they’re very successful at it. Gifford says that “82% of our working Members retain employment. 10% have been promoted this year.”

We’ve written about Franklinton Rising, which provides training in construction and homebuilding, and the HireLevel Auto group which trains young people to be auto mechanics. Additionally, Columbus State provides incredible two-year degrees and many apprenticeship programs designed to put people to work quickly– sometimes while you’re still in school.

A Tale of Two Degrees

I am the recipient of a Bachelor’s degree in English from the Ohio University Honors Tutorial Program and I have been paying on a mounting pile of student loans for almost a decade now. Recently I refinanced them all into a single, giant payment and will hopefully kill them in the next 5 years, but those payments are staggeringly high and my path to my career was a winding one supplemented with lots of bartending.

My husband had a BFA in Painting and Printmaking that he was using to work at a string of local coffee shops until he decided to attend Columbus State for the Electromechanical Engineering Tech program. He was done in 2 years flat, we were able to pay for all of his schooling out of pocket as he pursued this degree and he started earning money (and credit towards his degree) at Honda during the second year of his program. Now he is employed on Honda’s maintenance team full time and could basically get a job anywhere on earth with his skill set. Plus he makes more money than me. (I’m clearly a convert.)

Beth Gifford talked about the life-changing aspect of the “earn while you learn” model, especially for people who were entirely out of work before pursuing their apprenticeship:

For adults transitioning from unemployment getting involved in an apprenticeship program increases their earning power in a shorter period of time. What may have taken 7-10 years in working their way up, maybe getting on-the-job training opportunities, can be completed in 3 years.

So, what kind of opportunities exist locally for people in skilled trades?

Short answer: tons.

Gifford said that “individuals who have completed a skilled trade apprenticeship program can expect to be in demand by employers all over the city.” Their opportunities can include “industries such as facilities management, building services, construction, healthcare, manufacturing, automotive services, transportation, air transport, and distribution.” Additionally, the “employees with excellent soft skills combined with their skilled trade credential can expect to be courted by multiple employers.”

I don’t know about you, but “courted by multiple employers” sounds to me like a pretty enviable position in 2017 America.

Feature photo by Adi Goldstein on Unsplash

One of my most haunting college memories is from a house party with a bunch of hockey players.

I was there with my former roommate– who was dating a hockey player– my cousin, and my very close friend. We had been drinking, as was customary for a Saturday night at OU, and I was admittedly pretty intoxicated.

At some point in the evening I entered the livingroom to see a very, very large hockey player face-down on the ground. It looked like he was passed out. Adrenaline kicked in and I immediately sprung into action. I was afraid he would puke and drown in it, or that he had cracked his head when he dropped, or I don’t even know.. just that he didn’t look right.

I ran over to him and began to try and flip him over to see if he was breathing, to see if he needed medical attention. No one would help me.

I was confused. I kept tugging on his arm and asking for help– this guy was huge. No one budged.

He wasn’t moving at all. I was getting scared and increasingly mad that everyone seemed to be standing in a circle around the edges of the room motionless.

After what felt like several minutes, this dude got up and started laughing. The room filled with garish, carnivalesque laughter.

He was fine. He had been faking it.

I was horrified.

I ran all the way back to my house. I felt so profoundly stupid.

How many of them had been in on it? My friend Nick consoled me as I sobbed on his shoulder, saying he couldn’t tell it was a prank either. My sweet little cousin said “I was one step behind you honey.”

I just kept saying “He looked like a ragdoll. I thought he was dead.

I think often about that night. It has stuck with me for nearly a decade now. That feeling of helplessness and embarrassment stemming from what should have been the right instinct. To run in. To protect. To help a human I thought was in danger. It was a filthy trick that I have never ever forgotten.

Each time a hazing or drinking death comes up in the news– like the recent tragic story of Timothy Piazza at Penn State— I relive the somewhat blurry moments of that hockey party.

As an adult with a child on the way, I again feel helpless when I hear stories like this. With the advent of social media, there is a new level of potential embarrassment and peer pressure layered onto the enormity of young adult social situations. What if someone had taken a video or a Snapchat of that moment in my life and broadcast it to the world? The multiplicitous eyes that could have mocked me or left sneering comments…

But when I think about it now, I’m so glad that the outcome was just me looking like a silly drunk girl. Because the outcome could have been a mother losing a son.

I’m glad I was wrong. I’m glad I looked stupid. I’m glad I was raised to be someone who runs in.

The details of Piazza’s death are stupefying. Not least of which is the fact that it took hours for anyone to call for help. If even one of those boys had the sense to run in, to help, to protect, maybe this story would have turned out differently.

Now the question becomes, in this modern age of swift and relentless judgment, how can we raise kids who are willing to run in?  Even when it means getting laughed at.

I think the answer is manyfold, but we can start with teaching empathy and personal responsibility.

Every time I made a poor decision, my parents would ask me something like “how do you think that made your sister feel?” I was trained to think about how my words and actions impacted other people. This doesn’t mean that I never do careless things, but it does mean that when my actions hurt another person, it bothers me deeply and I am compelled to rectify the situation.

As the oldest child, the heaviness of my role was constantly reinforced. I am responsible for not only my actions, but I am also a guide to the smaller people who look up to me. Sometimes the burden of this responsibility was stifling and overwhelming, but ultimately it made me very prepared for a world where many people are going to need many things from you. I think of myself as a steward of those in my care. If I let them down, I let myself down. When my child makes a decision that hurts another person or sets a bad example, I will ask them to think about the consequences of those actions.

This is how you build an internal compass. A compass that works no matter who is standing around watching, judging, trying to sway it.

The day after that party I called home. I couldn’t get it out of my mind and I was obsessively stewing on it. My mom put my dad on the phone. He asked if I had been drinking, a question I answered truthfully. And then he said he was sorry I had been tricked, that he was proud of my instinct to help and that I did the right thing…. even if I ended up looking like a fool. And I believed him.

It didn’t take the sting of embarrassment away, but it reinforced that compass they had worked so long to calibrate in me.

These aren’t new lessons. They aren’t tied to any specific faith. They are very basic ground rules for operating in a world with other humans. And it is high time they make a comeback.

As we explore the Franklinton community, with a documentary film and an ongoing series of articles, we’ve learned a lot about the opportunities and the issues facing the neighborhood. Our mission through all of this work has been to share the stories from all of the stakeholders involved and open up this conversation among the community.

The social conversations created around this work have been inspiring.

We’ve collected a few of the comments that best capture the overall sentiment from the community. And now we invite you to take these feelings outside of Facebook and into the real world by joining us at Strongwater Tuesday night November 14th at 5:30 for a Community Conversation.

Overall, there is a thirst from the community to explore this topic more and to know how businesses and residents are working together to build the neighborhood.

There’s an understanding that the new development will help the neighborhood grow and prosper. The community has excitement for this future growth.

Along with the excitement is anxiety about the neighborhood’s future. Residents want to make sure that the growth in Franklinton doesn’t happen without them. They want to be incorporated into the process.

People want to make sure that the improvements in the area don’t run out local, sometimes low-income residents. They want to have a say in the development process and insure that there is still room for affordable housing options.

We found similar sentiments when we constructed our Franklinton Wishing Tree at Independent’s Day this summer.

What do you think about the growth of Franklinton? Join us at Strongwater this coming Tuesday to hear your voice heard and be a part of the process.

 

Beer, equity, politics, hotel groundbreaking ceremonies… BrewDog doesn’t do anything standard.

In 2016, BrewDog, based in Aberdeen Scotland, announced they were going to open a brewing facility and taproom in Canal Winchester to support their expansion in the United States. They made quite the splash with this announcement by launching a crowdfunding campaign called “Equity for Punks”. Equity for Punks was the brewery’s way to connect with the community, giving them a chance to own a portion of the business. BrewDog bills itself as “an alternative business owned by thousands of people who love craft beer… [their] philosophy has always been to shorten the distance as much as possible between [themselves] and the people who enjoy [their] beers.” And everything they’ve done has supported this mission.

When BrewDog officially opened the doors to the brewery and taproom this past February, they quickly followed this with the announcement of the world’s first crowdfunded hotel and sour beer facility.

And, of course, this wasn’t going to be your standard hotel.

The DogHouse will feature a beer jacuzzi, beer spa treatments with bespoke hop oils, Punk IPA on tap in every room, and en-suite mini-fridges in the showers perfect for shower beers.

After raising a whopping $324,482 with the Equity for Punks campaign, more than four times their goal, construction on the DogHouse kicked off yesterday with the traditional golden shovel ceremony with actual explosions.

Since BrewDog’s announcement to come to Central Ohio, they’ve been anything but traditional and now we’re excited to see them blow shit up here in the US.  

When you think about your Christmas list, odds are it has just one or two tech or fashion items that are a little too extravagant to justify buying for yourself. There may be some useful things that you get each year, like underwear or socks, or maybe gift cards to pamper yourself… But when Besa’s Adopt-A-Senior holiday list came out on Wednesday, the items requested told a larger story about Columbus’ needy senior community.

Besa’s Executive Director Matthew Goldstein said “without these Secret Santas, many seniors would not receive holiday gifts. Their requests are humbling and beautiful—as is this entire program.”

  • Sondra is requesting a phone charger. She lives in an apartment by herself and enjoys talking with friends/family over her cell phone. Her charger is short and doesn’t reach her chair. Would be helpful to have a long charger so she can sit and talk more freely.
  • Phyllis has a dog named Conrad and he is her pride and joy. Phyllis and Conrad support each other everyday. She would like Conrad to have enough food and a dog bed to sleep on. Phyllis would also like a fuzzy blanket to cozy up next to Conrad.
  • Mary’s husband of 62 years passed away earlier this year and she has been looking for a hobby to keep her busy during the day. She likes to watch Bob Ross and is looking forward to painting along with him. She’s requesting a beginner’s paint set.
  • Opal would like a Bible and a cake pan to bake a cake for her grandson. But the Bible is first priority.
  • Wyoma loves doing puzzles and prefers them to be over 1000 pieces. She doesn’t have a preference for what the picture is, but she loves a challenge!

Many seniors on the list need help purchasing very basic items like toilet paper and dish soap, which most of us would never consider a holiday gift so much as a daily necessity.

It took all of 24 hours for every single senior on the list to be adopted and the local participants will spend more than $60,000 fulfilling the wishes of the seniors this year.  But there is still time to be involved by purchasing some of the “stocking stuffer” essentials. Check out the Amazon Wish List here or get involved at givebesa.org/adopt

Photo from Besa’s Facebook page.

Immigration has long been a controversial topic in American history. New immigrants in the United States have often been met with a sense of reticence versus the open arms that people find in modern-day Canada.

The United States, however, is no stranger to large populations entering at once. In the 1800’s, there was a large influx of Irish immigrants fleeing the deadly potato famine. In the late 1800’s, a large number of Italian immigrants came to work as unskilled workers. In the early 1900’s, over a million Mexicans came to the United States when they were fleeing the Mexican Revolution. Various issues around the world have caused people to flee to the United States from Cuba to Haiti, El Salvador to Kosovo, Germany to Somalia.

In Columbus, we are home to over 55,000 Somali immigrants, the 2nd largest population of Somalis in the United States. We also are one of the top 5 destinations for Bhutanese refugees.

Though sometimes used interchangeably in current conversations, a refugee, an immigrant, and an “illegal immigrant” are quite different. A refugee, as defined by the United Nations, is someone who is fleeing conflict or persecution. In the United States alone there are over 20 million refugees. Worldwide, there are over 65 million refugees.

An immigrant would be anyone moving to the United States with the intention of living here. With our family-based immigration system, there is an emphasis on family-reunification so people often come to the United States based on family relations versus the skills or education-based points system that Canada uses. The United States operates  with an emphasis on family-reunification, while Canada assigns points based on job skills, education, and language proficiency.

An “illegal immigrant” more commonly referred to as an “undocumented immigrant” is anyone who is living in the United States without permission – some people overstayed their visa, they entered without inspection, or they used a false document to enter. Desperate to escape the conditions of the home country, many of these people come from countries that do not allow them to be recognized as refugees by the United Nations, but they’re escaping many similar situations of violence and/or dire financial struggles in their home countries.

The United States has quite a rigorous process for the acceptance of refugees with an 18-month screening process. For each individual coming to the US, a rigorous vetting process occurs with a thorough review by federal agencies, background checks, in person interviews, health screenings, and cultural orientation. This year, the United States plans to allow 50,000 refugees to enter.

For many, the discussion of refugees and the hesitation about allowing them to enter comes down to safety concerns and the feeling that they will burden the economy. Recent studies, however, have found the opposite to occur. Though countries do incur a large upfront cost, it can be best viewed as an investment. Refugees often out-earn non-refugee immigrants and they add more value than the cost of receiving and resettling them.

In Columbus, we have resettled more than 17,000 refugees from around the world. In addition to refugees from Somalia and Bhutan, refugees also come from places such as Iraq, Burma, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Sierra Leone, and Liberia.

In Franklin County, studies have found that refugees are just about as likely as Franklin County natives to attend college. They are also entrepreneurial. There are more than 900 refugee-owned businesses in Central Ohio and those businesses employ more than 4,000 workers.

For a closer look at refugees in Ohio, you may want to see Bhutanese Nepali Neighbors: Photographs by Tariq Tarey at the Ohio History Center.

Photo by Nitish Meena on Unsplash

First, you might be asking “why Vancouver?”

Vancouver is a city that spent a lot of time, thought, and money to make their downtown livable and appealing to diverse array of residents. David Roberts, a reporter for Vox, extensively interviewed Brent Toderian about the city’s progress to its current “urbanist” success (I encourage to read all of these pieces they’re really intriguing). “Toderian was the Vancouver’s Chief Planner from 2006 to 2012, a time of furious change for the city that saw the 2010 Olympics along with a broad range of programs to increase density, non-auto mobility, and livability. He’s now a consultant to cities that want to move in the same direction.

Generally speaking, urbanism is defined the same way as city planning: forward thinking about the things (structures, infrastructure, resources, luxuries) people need to live in a certain city. This is all sounds like long term and high-level thought, right? Not always. As Toderian’s interview revealed, part of Vancouver’s success has come as much from the individual, small decisions as it does from the larger planning initiatives.

So what can Columbus learn from Vancouver as we get ready to level-up into “big city” status?

Here are 5 lessons:

A few ground rules go a long way

Why is Ohio so ugly? This isn’t the punchline of a coast-dweller’s joke… this is a sincere question. And I believe the answer is because we allow the free market to run wild without any unifying vision for how things fit together. Viola: strip malls as far as the eye can see. Unlike here, “in Vancouver, like few other North American cities, nothing is simply left to chance, or developers, or the market. There is a deliberative regulatory framework in place, and every decision within it is made consciously, working backward from a clear vision of the city residents want.”

“No Blank Walls”

Toderian talks about the importance of there always being something interesting at the eye-level as you walk through the city. Right now, in Columbus that means “mixed-use retail” on the ground level and then a high rise condo plopped on top. But what about street-level housing? Vancouver uses a street by street approach to this: some streets are primarily residential at eye-level and some are primarily commercial at eye-level. This mix is a key to functional neighborhoods, especially since there is only so much retail that an area can successfully support. But what about privacy?

 Toderian talks about smart ways that designers keep privacy for street-level urban residential properties. One common mistake is to put front doors and windows right on the sidewalks. But then “you can see into the windows. So people don’t use the amenities space and they close the blinds on the windows. And what you get is a de facto blank 

 

wall. Whereas, if you elevate [entrances], just a few steps — three or four steps — and design a semi-private amenities space, people will use it. They’ll keep their windows open.

Take the brownstones on Gay St. as a nice example of this design principle (minus the submerged units). Those tall staircases allow people to live with direct street access, but have a significant privacy barrier between their front doors and passing traffic.

Stop talking about the cost of houses, talk about the cost of cities

This is a great point that we might be a little guarded from in Central Ohio at the current moment. The affordability of city is too often determined by the cost of purchasing a single-family home. As cities scale up in size and density, that quickly becomes an inaccurate measurement of the cost of living there. We’d never think about cost of living in Manhattan by how much a freestanding home costs there… Toderian says we should “look beyond the price of buying a home, to the price of having a home.” This means everything that comes along with living in the area– rent, transportation, etc.– as a measure of whether an area is affordable or not.

Deliberate Integration Instead of Displacement

This is one of the biggest problems that fast-developing cities face and is best stated in Toderian’s own words:  

For decades, we’ve been requiring that 20 percent of space in all major housing projects be set aside for social housing [what Americans call “public housing”]. That requirement has been a powerful tool — finding and acquiring land or airspace can be the toughest part of a social housing project.

Part of the success of the program is that social housing is now built into all major projects around the city, in an integrated and often almost invisible way, with management programs to help that integration succeed.”

 

Stop Suburban Flee

How many people do you know that used to live in Short North, Vic Village, GV or downtown and then bought a house in UA, Bexley, or New Albany “for the school district.” This is the San Fransisco problem and we’re going to see lots and lots more of it. Why can’t families with kids live downtown?  They can in Vancouver.

Here are Toderian’s basic steps for making a family-friendly downtown

Want families & kids downtown?

1) ensure family-sized housing;

2) ensure daycare, schools & supports;

3) design the #publicrealm for kids.

 

Where do you see Columbus’ biggest challenges emerging as we develop? Tell us on Twitter.

Photo by Scott Webb on Unsplash

We recently introduced you to Franklinton Rising, a non-profit organization working to change the lives of teens and young adults by teaching construction skills and preparing them for full-time employment. The group is currently remodeling a home on Chicago Avenue. During my first visit to the house, I met 25-year-old DeVille Morrow. He has been with Franklinton Rising since March. My first impression of Morrow was of a soft-spoken, friendly guy who displayed a genuine love for building homes. But there is much more to Morrow’s story. The struggles he has had to overcome make his positive attitude and determination to succeed that much more inspiring.

Morrow moved to Columbus in 2011, but was born and raised in Chicago. He briefly told me about some of the activity he witnessed on a regular basis as a child– gang fights, shootings, drug deals, home robberies, and people dying. Morrow said he did his best to keep himself and his younger siblings away from the violence. He also said it was his older brother who taught him how to survive in such a rough environment. The reason that job fell to his brother was because Morrow’s father was not around to do it. He told me his father was convicted of murder when Morrow was just 3, and has been in prison ever since. The two have managed to sustain a relationship though, and his dad’s experience motivates Morrow to live a better life. “He always told me, be smart. To not let other people influence me… And I told myself, that if I had my own kids, I’d make sure I’m in their life. I’d show them a good path so they don’t have to go through struggles.”  

Morrow has stayed true to that promise. He has 3 young sons: DeVarrion, DeMonte and Dekhai. He’s raising the boys on his own. Morrow told me the children’s mother developed a cocaine habit in 2015. “My kids are perfectly healthy, I made sure of that… We see her every few months, but only if I take the boys to see her. Because she doesn’t make any effort. She doesn’t do what she needs to as a mother.”

Morrow described the difficulties that followed after his ex-girlfriend stopped helping with their sons. Morrow says she dropped the boys off one day in 2015 and never came back for them. Soon after, he lost his job because he didn’t have anyone to help look after the kids. The young family ran out of money, and had to go to a shelter. “We spent 1 month and 6 days in the shelter, before I was able to get an apartment.” 

Fast forward to today– Morrow is dedicated to sticking on an honest path in order to keep his family together. Morrow says he was briefly involved in some questionable activity around the time he joined Franklinton Rising; he needed the money to feed his kids. But Franklinton Rising enabled him to get off that path entirely. “If I would’ve kept going the other route, I probably would’ve ended up messing up, and having to start over… I made sacrifices taking on my 3 kids. I didn’t want them in different places. I made sure they were together, with me. I save as much money as I can, even if it’s just $10 per paycheck. I gotta work my way up… I’m trying to set a positive example for them, trying to make a good living and make stuff happen, so that they don’t have to resort to illegal ways to make money.”  

Morrow will complete his training by the end of November. Franklinton Rising is assisting in his job search.

Property taxes are dense, complex and not very much fun to calculate. But voters in Upper Arlington and New Albany need to pay attention to those pesky rates because they have school levies on their ballots on November 7. So, I spent a couple hours scouring the Franklin County Auditor’s website to save you the trouble!

Here we go:

Upper Arlington is asking voters to approve a combined 10.67-mill Bond Issue and Operating Levy.

  • The 6.92-mill Bond Issue would generate $230 million over 38 years. The money would be used to build a new high school, new elementary schools, to renovate existing school facilities, and to improve athletic facilities.
  • The 3.75-mill Tax Levy would help cover current day-to-day operating costs, like paying teachers’ salaries.

Now, how much would this cost you, the taxpayer? One mill is equivalent to $1 in taxes per $1,000 in taxable value. If you’re like me, trying to decipher the value of mills can be tricky and confusing. To make it easier, here are some property values to give you an idea of how much you would be paying if the Bond and Levy pass. All of these numbers are according to the Franklin County Auditor website, and are available to the public.

Property Examples, Based on 2016 Market Values:

Value: $106,200

  • Net annual taxes: $2,523.90
  • The new bond and levy would add $396.60 to this homeowner’s tax bill.

Value: $362,900

  • Net annual taxes: $7,819.88
  • The new bond and levy would add $1,273.04 to this homeowner’s tax bill.

Value: $620,000

  • Net annual taxes: $14,000
  • The new bond and levy would add $2,318.37 to this homeowner’s tax bill.

***Important note:*** The auditor’s site makes these calculations based on your home’s 2016 market value. If the value of your home rose in 2017, then your tax liability will have increased as well.

New Albany is asking voters to approve a 1.25-mill Permanent Improvement Levy, which would be in effect for 5 years. The money would be used for general maintenance and repairs.

Property Examples, Based on 2016 Market Values:

Value: $111,600

  • Net annual taxes: $2,562.52
  • The new levy would add $39.21 to this homeowner’s tax bill.

Value: $354,300

  • Net annual taxes: $10,480.76
  • The new levy would add $155.00 to this homeowner’s tax bill.

Value: $903,100

  • Net annual taxes: $26,714.52
  • The new levy would add $395.05 to this homeowner’s tax bill.

Crime victims have certain constitutional rights here in the Buckeye State. In 1994, 77% of Ohio voters approved Amendment 2, which is still in effect today. The law requires officials to inform victims when a suspect has been arrested, or when a convicted felon is eligible for parole. Victims are also promised “reasonable protection.” And the amendment requires that victims be given a “meaningful role in the criminal justice system.”

But what is a “meaningful role?” Critics argue the Amendment’s language was too vague, and did not go far enough. That is why there is now a call to strengthen victims’ rights and add more specific guidelines to the Ohio Constitution. This is where Issue 1 comes in.

The statewide ballot issue known as the “Crime Victim Rights Initiative” is a type of Marsy’s Law. It would replace current language in the Ohio Constitution and expand the rights of crime victims. The most significant changes include:

  • The right to refuse discovery requests by the accused
  • The right to be present and heard at all court proceedings, including the right to petition the court to protect the victim’s rights
  • The right to restitution

Let’s break this down. The “right to refuse discovery request” is a possible hiccup with the legislation. It means that the victim could not be compelled to turn over potential evidence, or submit to an interview request by the defense team. Opponents say this could disrupt and slow investigations. Ohio Public Defender Tim Young wrote the official argument against Issue 1. He makes the case that the legislation “conflicts with essential guarantees in the Bill of Rights, including double jeopardy, confrontation, and speedy trial – rights fundamental to our Founders. This amendment will result in increased litigation, increased costs to taxpayers, and will delay cases, only hurting victims.”

Moving on to the “right to be present and heard at court proceedings.” This bullet more clearly explains the victim’s right to have a “meaningful role” in the case. This change would allow  victims to have input on plea bargains offered to the defendant, and be able to speak up when the defendant is eligible for parole. Victims would also have the right to confer with the prosecuting attorney.

As for the “right to restitution” clause– it gives victims the right to sue the defendant for money, NOT the government. And that is what opponents of Issue 1 have a problem with. Tim Young writes, “The problem in Ohio is not the absence of victims’ rights, but the lack of a remedy when the government fails to carry out duties owed to victims.” To give an example: Imagine your house was robbed, and the culprit assaulted you during the attack. The criminal is arrested and convicted. Fast forward a few years, and the defendant is paroled. The government is supposed to inform you, the victim, that that person is now free. But if officials don’t inform you… nothing really happens. You, as the victim, are not entitled to restitution from the government, for failing to notify you that your attacker is out of prison.

Election day is Tuesday, November 7. 

Top Photo by Robert Hickerson on Unsplash