Textual Miscellany

A June Miscellany
By Stephen Michael Kellat, MSLS
Head Writer, Erie Looking Productions

The Search For Studio Space

With the main move out of the way, we are kinda lacking in studio space. This is why the hiatus is running as long as it is. We are attempting to raise money and are looking at real estate. Three possible partners have been contacted but it is too soon to have heard back from them. There is a building previously used by a Charismatic Episcopal Church for sale that costs roughly ten thousand dollars in the Ashtabula Harbor Historical District. While the building is quite tempting and would make for a lovely base of operations, it is not yet economically feasible to purchase. The local real estate market is in fairly bad shape where there are an infinitesimal amount of properties for rent/lease compared to properties up for sale.

The World Radio Network

A private company based in England, World Radio Network provides transmission services for quite a number of content providers. Considering that some of the content they air is geekier and appeals to a narrower niche compared to LISNews Netcast Network programming, they've been contacted to see what cooperation is possible. We have not heard back yet if there are any opinions positive or negative about the programming we produce.

Voting & Intentional Self-Destruction

Over a year into the presidency of Barack Obama, the economy of the United States is hardly recovered. A meme on conservative websites for a while was to plot against the unemployment change projections of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act what the actual unemployment rate happened to be. That such diverged was mocked. When the divergence was significantly out of line from the projections used to sell what was popularly known as “stimulus”, the laughter turned to grimacing.

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act was sold as a panacea. There were some fundamental kernels of nastiness deep within the bill that continue to produce unintended consequences. This has been clearly seen in New Jersey where Andy Woodworth has assumed a role akin to a minor prophet of the Old Testament documenting not the decline of ancient Israel but rather the decline of libraries.

It is without doubt that the Recovery Act disbursed money to put people back to work. A trip west from Conneaut to Ashtabula on Interstate Route 90 here shows in fairly graphic detail the impact of money as new lanes are added to the highway. The disbursement of money from the United States Treasury came with strings attached. As there are no free gifts from the federal government to grant recipients, it bears consideration as to the consequences of those strings.

The term “maintenance of effort” sounds more like a euphemism for benign accounting issues. That term is hardly benign. A key condition for quite a bit of education funding and funding for road works was that the states had to agree to sustain funding for those areas at or above a minimum benchmark. Failure to comply with funding above that benchmark would disqualify the state from receiving federal funding in that area for a set number of years. Maintenance of Effort, which a term of bureaucracy, would perhaps more appropriately be termed “Advance Commitment To Spend Certain Funds Without Regard To Changing Circumstances For A Fixed Period Of Years”.

Considering the proportions of state budgets spent on education, road works, and the like it is hardly surprising that governors like New Jersey's Chris Christie have done what they have after their predecessors signed up for stimulus dollars that had strings attached. No powerful lobby acted to get provisions included in the Recovery Act to exempt entities like public libraries, parks, mental health care services, and the like from possibly being cut. With the top-down imposition of spending priorities with draconian penalties attached if a state made cuts, public libraries were among the targets set up with very attractive targets painted on them.

Until the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act expires, libraries are in a bind. Libraries are deemed from the top down to not necessarily be a funding priority. As education matters and road works gobble up quite a bit of state budgets, any growth in their funding consumption will threaten libraries. The Recovery Act insures education and road works will never be cut unless a state had almost a death wish to lose access to federal funding. There are no financial consequences if libraries are dealt budget cuts, though.

In the end, elections have consequences.

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