Woman and man on ebikes

One. Never hesitating to get her name into print or what passes for City communications, councilor Barroso de Padillo subsidizes five e-bike sellers (Beechwold Bicycles, Franklinton Cycle Works, Johnny Velo Bikes, Orbit City Bikes, Paradise Garage) with public dollar handouts to private citizens for discounts on e-bike purchase.

The subsidy to the bike stores amounts to the City spending $250,000 for 100-150 residents. The handouts go to any household with an income of less than $150,000, far out of line with housing and other social assistance. This is capitalist socialism.

Readers: do the simple division of public subsidy to private interests for yourselves. Does this make economic sense for the public?

No mention is made that unlike its peer cities, Columbus’ own safe bicycle lanes system remains dramatically incomplete and unmaintained. Snow removal trucks fill the bike lanes. In the Columbus Way, the lanes stop and start at the behest of private businesses.

Nor is there a word about the lack of public transit or the plague of scooters, another domain in which Columbus achieves uniqueness. There is no policy or program. There is no awareness of either “the public” or multiple publics.”

The councilor’s office refuses to respond to residents’ inquiries on any issue.


Two. The City repeats over and over its distribution of “free gun lock and lock boxes.” This has been going on for more than a year beginning with Public Health, now Fire Stations.

Yet, the City makes no effort to coordinate distribution of locks and lock boxes to records of registered gun ownership. Why? Does that make too much sense? Or is it too hard to do?

Why not hire a private consultant—preferably outside the City—to recommend a private contractor—also outside the City—both at exorbitant rates with no-bid contracts? After all, that’s the Columbus Way.

That’s exactly what Andy G. has done by contracting his former employer, an electioneering communications firm, in Dublin, with no relevant experience, to “educate” the residents of the city about their upcoming new fake or non-district councilors. Of course, that ranks as one of the current administration’s frauds of the decade. “Districts” for communication while council remains elected at large. Since almost no one on City Council responses to emails, telephone calls, or postal mail (if delivered), who will actually notice any difference?  Oh, difference isn’t the point. Nor is democracy.

As to guns, there is still no word about a citywide responsible gun buyback program. As I have written, and proposed to councilors and Council, they work. They are not—yet, at least—forbidden by the state. Why?


Three. The City invested endless amounts of time, energy, and tax dollars in its promotion of a pseudo-safe “Red, White, and Boom” on July 3. None of that prevented the mass panic from a rumor of gun violence on site.

But not one word or police presence was devoted to prevention, cessation, or prosecution of illegal fireworks throughout the city from Friday through Tuesday. Why?

I also ask: why does Columbus not replace dangerous, polluting traditional fireworks with the sensational illuminated drones that are replacing explosives across the US and the world? No one is paying Andy and the gang, I venture to guess.

For years, I am verbally bombarded with the lie that Columbus has the largest city fireworks display in the Midwest/ Has no one heard of Chicago’s Grant Park and Lake Shore Drive? Or do we need to buy the City an atlas? Can they read maps? They have no knowledge of any other cities, let alone their own.


Four. Taking the prize for the week is the duo of Andy and City Attorney Zach Klein. Gushing and blurting out poor slogans in the Columbus Way, on July 6, with great fanfare, they announced their “Buckeye Deflection” plan. Whatever does that mean? At first, I thought it was Ryan Day’s new maneuver for his offensive line? Or a way to hide from the Michigan front line.

Learning that it purported to deal with shoplifting, my next thought was that it was protect Ohio State athletes or undergraduates from legal prosecution.

But no, it is a protection plan for Columbus retail merchants. In fact, the insertion of “Buckeye” into the slogan camouflages the fact that the City is one of five pilots of a national initiative by the Association of Prosecuting Attorneys in partnership with Justice System Partners, a private supposed non-profit whose website struggles with clear English expression.

While I fully support all worthwhile public programs that help everyone resolve the social and economic cause of all crimes, petty and non-violent, as well as more major ones, Buckeye Deflection is another poorly camouflaged deflection of its own.

Protecting retail merchants in no way meets the city-wide conditions of unsafety stemming from a failing police department, unsafe environment including streets and sidewalks, radical underinvestment in schools and job training, gross inequality in all dimensions including homelessness.

In fact, Buckeye Deflection’s failed deflection is yet another dishonest insult to all residents and taxpayers.


Finally, in between blaming the State of Ohio and parents for Columbus’ uncontrolled unsafety and violent crime, Andy adds a third ring to his circus. It is now the responsibility of “the public” to identify and report all violators of the law with no resources expended by the City.

The City of Columbus adds to its national uniqueness in becoming the largest city that accepts no responsibility for anything at all. This is one of many consequences of its anti-representative democracy, devotion to public over private, lack of relevant experience, and undisguised corruption.

What will next week bring, or not bring? The possibilities are endless.


Harvey J. Graff is Professor Emeritus of English and History at The Ohio State University and inaugural Ohio Eminent Scholar in Literacy Studies. Author of many books, most recently he published Searching for Literacy: The Social and Intellectual Origins of Literacy Studies was My Life with Literacy: The Continuing Education of a Historian. The Intersections of the Personal, the Political, the Academic, and Place is forthcoming. “Reconstructing the new ‘uni-versity’ from the ashes of the ‘multi- and mega-versity’” is in progress.