Hot Corner: So-called developmentWritten by Don Burnard | | firstname.lastname@example.org
So far, Gov. John Kasich seems to be a shoot-from-the-lip kind of guy. He often makes statements that don’t seem to have a very factual basis, but has rather an almost sanctimonious air that whatever pops into his brain at any given moment is sure to be the answer to all our problems. Of course, if pressed for details, he clams right up and moves on. This has been the modus operandi for his much vaunted JobsOhio program. The more that comes out on this program, the more it seems to be a scam to let Kasich’s financial buddies cut a fat hog in the derriere at the taxpayer’s expense.
The idea of privatizing economic development was sold to us as having great success in other states during the campaign. Florida in particular was held up as a shining example. The blog Plunderbund has reported extensively on what’s in play with this subject and the problems with this entire JobsOhio scam. The newly elected Republican governor of Florida, Rick Scott, recently announced that he was pretty much ending Florida’s experiment with public-private economic development and returning most of those responsibilities to a reinstituted Department of Commerce. This was done with the blessing of the bigger business players in Florida, many of whom led the fight in 1996 to disband the old Department of Commerce.
A Jan. 27 article in Bloomberg stated, “Business leaders Thursday were quick to applaud Gov. Rick Scott’s proposal for reviving Florida’s Commerce Department to streamline economic development efforts. Associated Industries of Florida president and CEO Barney Bishop said attracting new businesses and jobs requires a different approach than what Florida is doing now.”
This is the program that Kasich said was going to completely change the way we do business in Ohio to create jobs. So far, it has created a small number of extremely high-paying jobs for several well-placed cronies, but according to the GOP governor and business leaders in Florida, it is unlikely to do the job we need done in Ohio. Another thing to consider is that the top three states with these types of plans also lead in unemployment rates. I fail to see the upside here for the average Ohioan. Oh well, it’s a good plan if you’re a venture capitalist commuting to Ohio from California to run it.
When we look at the bill, HB1, it’s even scarier. We’re setting up a taxpayer funded state agency that the bill states specifically is not considered a state agency. Huh? Governor Transparency has set up a program that basically removes all oversight, accountability, openness about where the taxpayers’ money is being spent, and allows the employees to lobby while they work! They are not subject to audits by the state auditor, nor subject to state ethics laws. They are not subject to oversight or investigation by the inspector general. They are not considered to be state employees and are not subject to public records laws, including the governor when he is acting as the chair.
The only reports the public will get will be self-analyses of how they basically feel they’re doing. This is what passes for transparency with King John, evidently. I’ve got a bad feeling about this. Apparently, so do all the major newspaper editorial boards in Ohio, with the exception of The Columbus Dispatch (the newspaper equivalent of Fox News). The only good thing I see coming out of this is watching an interesting fight to see who gets the next Pulitzer Prize for reporting on Ohio corruption. This is going to make Coingate look like Amateur Hour. I can hardly wait for the letters and e-mails from all the self-professed libertarian money managers who write me to start rolling, in explaining how wonderful all this is going to be.
An interesting side note was provided by Mark Kvamme, the aforementioned commuting venture capitalist Kasich chose to lead JobsOhio. In an interview with Ann Fisher on WOSU in Columbus, Kvamme stated that what set Ohio apart was its central location and excellent transportation: “We have rivers, we have railroads.” When Fisher asked him how that squared with turning down $400 million for passenger rail, he said she’d have to take that up with the governor’s office. No mention of the fact that his home state of California got that money.
Another big thank you to the diligent team at Plunderbund for doing the job that the mainstream media is largely ignoring.
E-mail columnist Don Burnard at email@example.com