Choices, choices: Will the GOP’s new “Opportunity Zones” further incentivize the gentrification Deaf Gahan encourages as a DemoDisneyDixiecrat?

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A breathless tout of a press release ran under the radar at the end of last week owing to fireworks mania, and it reads every bit as dismally as if it had been submitted to the understaffed and hapless News & Tribune by One Southern Indiana itself.

Actually, since Wendy Dant Chesser is prominently featured, it probably was, and you can hear the advice from the 1Si break room: heck, just send it to the ‘Bune — they’ll print anything.

Note the euphoria over mere nominations to an awards program as yet largely undefined. There may be no winners to date, but the decision is coming soon, and the same old SoIn economic dishevelment grandees want you to know they’re on the scent of trickle-down, not to mention tinkle-over.

Five SoIN areas nominated for federal incentives program

SOUTHERN INDIANA — Five areas in Clark and Floyd counties have been nominated as Opportunity Zones, a federal program that provides tax incentives to attract private sector investment to low-income urban and rural communities. Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb announced Thursday that he submitted a total of 156 census tracts from 58 counties to the U.S. Secretary of the Treasury for the program.

  • Clarksville tract 18019050401 – The approximate 1400-acre tract is bordered by Browns Station Way to the north, the Ohio River to the south, Jeffersonville to the east, and New Albany to the west.
  • Jeffersonville tract 18019050199 – The heart of downtown Jeffersonville with the Ohio River to its south, across from downtown Louisville.
  • Charlestown tract 18019050903 – This tract is located adjacent to River Ridge Commerce Center (RRCC), the premier industrial park with 6,000 prime acres under development in the Midwest’s top-ranked business environment.
  • New Albany tracts 18043070400 and 18043070500 – Central to the City of New Albany’s recent reinvention and rise as a destination for traveling foodies, shoppers and residents alike, this census tract is ripe with opportunities for future growth.

A detailed map showing all 156 nominations

Let’s try to unearth a semblance of context. Whatever it is, this sorta/kinda/maybe “opportunity zone” covers vast tracts of SoIn near the banks of the Ohio, and it’s something to do with the GOP’s purported tax cuts and the pressing need for the rich to become even wealthier.

Opportunity Zones In Indiana

Public Law 115-97, also known as the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, allows the Governor of each state to nominate certain census tracts as “Opportunity Zones”.

This seems important: “low-income communities.” Is there smoke from third-floor windows yet?

OPPORTUNITY ZONES: A NEW INCENTIVE FOR INVESTING IN LOW-INCOME COMMUNITIES

The Opportunity Zones program is designed to incentivize patient capital investments in low-income communities nationwide. All of the underlying incentives relate to the tax treatment of capital gains, and
all are tied to the longevity of an investor’s stake in a qualified Opportunity Fund, providing the most upside to those who hold their investment for 10 years or more.

Spoiler alert: there also are dissenters, and some of them aren’t socialists like me.

Will Opportunity Zones help distressed residents or be a tax cut for gentrification? by Adam Looney (Brookings)

… There is no evidence that the design of Opportunity Zones will be as effective as Empowerment Zones or other redevelopment efforts, particularly when it comes to benefits to local residents. Moreover, the theoretical effect of the Zone tax subsidies on local residents is ambiguous. It’s a subsidy based on capital appreciation, not on employment or local services, and includes no provisions intended to retain local residents or promote inclusive housing.

I’m both repelled and fascinated for reasons of local propaganda and politics.

Imagine you’re Deaf Gahan (insert anguished scream here). Deaf’s a good DNC center-right Democrat, one presumably opposed to the GOP’s tax cuts even if he supports escalating the enrichment of capital accumulators, so long as they donate to Gahan4Life.

Now a Republican governor sitting atop a solidly Republican state apparatus has embraced a Republican-driven tax cut for wealthy investors, and that’s all hunky-dory, except by doing so, he has simultaneously declared Gahan’s anchor-laden Giddy Giddy City to be a Potemkin pretend-facade.

Actually, says Holcomb, downtown’s a low-income wasteland in need of rescue by wealthy, GOP-suckling hoarders — and of course, Dant Chesser nods vigorously in approval.

But downtown is Gahan’s triumph, isn’t it?

He says so all the time. From the moment Deaf was sworn into office, he’s been taking credit for single-handedly rescuing downtown from all those Democratic predecessors, whose names appear seldom in the victorious and increasingly Orwellian narrative centering on Gahan’s personality cult.

From Trump through Holcomb, and including Dant Chesser and other groveling functionaries, Gahan’s pride and joy has been pinpointed as an area of economic devastation meriting alms from the rich, effectively yanking a plank of the re-election platform out from under the mayor’s bunker-sore feet.

If downtown is so rosy that affordable housing units can be destroyed at will (see “Duggins Does the NAHA,” weekly in this space), then how can it be that the GOP is free to declare it a disaster?

It gets even trickier.

If Gahan fights against the GOP’s Opportunity Zone program, he’ll be depicted as rejecting worthwhile potential cash infusions; at the same time, seeing as one of many progressive cases against the zones involves potential gentrification, well, gentrification is exactly what Team Gahan’s been seeking all along.

Is Dear Leader for or against “opportunity zones”?

We may need a theologian to help unravel this pretzel, and fortunately, the nullpaper currently has two of them writing each Sunday. As for me, it’s perilously close to beer-thirty … and our overall problem hasn’t changed.

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