Posts Tagged ‘JobsOhio’

We’ve Seen This Movie Before

June 24, 2022

            The nation’s news blockbuster this summer is God, Guns and Babies: God with the US Supreme Court ruling in favor of religious schools with equity of state public funding, Guns with the recent SCOTUS overturning of New York’s centuries old gun licensing regulation, and Babies with the Supreme’s latest hit single covering Roe. Is the reader beginning to detect a theme here? In Licking County Ohio the news has been pretty much a monogamous relation with Intel. Now Intel has floated the Idea of a possible split if they don’t get all of the expected dowry (kinda like old Elon Musk). Within the same week we get word that New Albany has agreed to a 30 year, 100% tax abatement for their suitor, Intel. Meanwhile, Intel has let slip that it won’t formally dive in without passage of the Chip legislation which has been languishing in congress. That legislation is to provide billions of dollars in federal subsidies to domestic micro chip manufacturers. No need to reference Fox Con’s Wisconsin debacle, heralded with much fanfare during the Trump administration (also another debacle, of a more sinister kind), and likewise on an enormous scale of jobs promised, economic redemption – Not! (but paling in comparison with Intel’s over the moon swooning) Licking County residents can’t tell if the current iteration of news they are forced to watch is a remake or rerun (does it matter?). They’ve seen it so many times before with the public private partnership deals made by JobsOhio, Grow Licking County, Newark Development Partners, as well as all the “just private” commitments to develop, only if the funding is provided by the state, county or municipality; usually in the form of tax credits (historic are the preferred genre), abatement or infrastructure subsidy, etc. They include, but are not limited to, things such as the Arcade, Central elementary apartments, “affordable housing” behind the north side Walmart (Not!), west and north Newark single family residential development, etc. All this involves community resources (public funding) used for the profits of private individuals (in archive news the Supremes designated corporations as individuals). It has all the earmarks of the “socialism” condemned by the right wing, free market fear machine. Only, because it is destined for Capitalist entrepreneurs, it can’t possibly be state sponsored socialism; more like state sponsored Capitalism which in the case of “Communist” China is considered negatively (how far off was Orwell?). The movie ends, as we all know, with the Intel tail wagging the Licking County dog.

Free Market Economics

December 31, 2020

            “In our culture the concept of the market is akin to religion. In fact, for many people the fantasy that their life is shaped by a market is a substitute for thinking that it was shaped by a deity, or else the market itself is understood as a deity.” “A market is a way for people to distribute resources and goods. That’s all it is. The human race for most of its history has not used markets to do that. When I say distribute resources, I mean land. Who’s going to get what piece of land to cultivate?” (Richard Wolff from Occupy the economy: challenging capitalism by Richard Wolff; interviews with David Barsamian) 12-30-20 Henry Fountain writing for the New York Times headlines: Sale of Arctic Drilling Leases Draws an Unusual Taker. It May Be the Only One. “After a three-year push by the Trump administration to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska to oil drilling — an effort that culminated in a rush to sell leases before the White House changes hands — in the end the only taker may be the state of Alaska itself. With a Thursday deadline [12-31-20] for submitting bids for 10-year leases on tracts covering more than 1 million acres of the refuge, there is little indication that oil companies are interested in buying the rights to drill under difficult conditions, to extract more costly fossil fuels for a world that increasingly is seeking to wean itself off them. Amid the uncertainty, a state-owned economic development corporation voted last week to authorize bidding up to $20 million for some of the leases.” In Ohio, JobsOhio is “a state-owned economic development corporation”. In Licking County it would be Grow Licking County. And in Licking County’s seat of government, Newark, it would be Newark Development Partners. You can throw the Port Authority in there too as it likewise is an “economic development corporation” and covers a multitude of “governments.” The gist of Fountain’s article, you ask? “But if the development authority proceeds, it sets up the possibility that when the sealed bids are opened on Jan. 6, the state may find itself the sole owner of leases.” “He [Frank Murkowski, Lisa’s dad] also pointed out that because leasing revenue is split equally between the federal and state governments, if its bids were successful the state would be getting a unique deal. “You’re going to get half your money back,” he told the authority’s board. Only the state, he added, “can buy at a 50% discount.”” “In the [2017] tax bill, the sales were presented as a way to raise $900 million over 10 years for the federal treasury to help offset more than $1 trillion in tax cuts. But that figure has long been questioned by outside experts. An analysis last year by The New York Times suggested the actual amount would be about $45 million.” “The group [Taxpayers for Common Sense] said its most recent estimate showed that the federal treasury could receive as little as $15 million from the lease sales.” Where’s the market in all this? Indeed, where’s the market in the various tax abatements, credits and infrastructure enhancements offered by JobsOhio, Grow Licking County and the Port Authority in their offerings to secure corporate “investment” in Etna, Pataskala and the Rt 79 corridor? It certainly is about “Who’s going to get what piece of land to cultivate”. And what about Newark Development Partners purchase  and projected multi-million dollar “development” of the Newark Arcade being totally contingent on receiving government funded “historic tax credits” while the low barrier shelter “projected” by these same folks goes nowhere? “A market is a way for people to distribute resources and goods. That’s all it is.” Free and equitable, it’s not.

Under The Law

November 22, 2019

“Downtown is a commercial district. If you put the dollars first in the commercial district, then raise those revenues, create some more jobs, it creates more funds to put in the neighborhoods.” These words appear to express a very noble sentiment, They certainly assert a strategic outlook, one that defers immediate neighborhood aid for the eventual promise of neighborhood benefit to come. But does it serve the community’s interest, help the community’s needs? Analysis finds that, distilled, the strategy is simply a rehash of the fundamental tenet of the capitalist religion that “money makes money” (“If you put the dollars first in the commercial district,… it creates more funds”) The words (and strategy) are those of recently re-elected Newark Mayor Jeff Hall (The Advocate, 10-11-19). Reporting for cleveland.com, Andrew J. Tobias headlined: JobsOhio pushing boundaries by looking to be a part-owner of companies it supports (11-21-19). Analysis finds JobsOhio moving to put into action the Newark Mayor’s capitalist formula for success by “owning stakes of private companies”. “It’s an open question whether the new strategy means JobsOhio is interested in taking a venture capital approach — making a larger volume of risky bets on very young companies, hoping to strike it big if one is successful — or focusing on small, promising companies that are financially stable, but looking to expand. Any profit could be plowed back into the organization to be given to other companies.” “State lawmakers and then-Gov. John Kasich, a Republican, created JobsOhio in 2011 as a private non-profit to functionally replace a state agency that had led Ohio’s economic development efforts for decades. It’s exempt from state public-records laws, but the governor appoints its board members and helps hire its leader. DeWine picked new leaders, but opted to keep it basically intact upon taking office in January. Back when JobsOhio was still getting set up, Kasich considered allowing the organization to take shares of the companies it invested in. He even hired Mark Kvamme, a venture capitalist from California, to run it. Kvamme left the organization after less than two years, and now helps run a venture capital fund in Columbus.” “JobsOhio’s funding comes from the profits it gets running the state’s liquor enterprise, which netted $271 million last year.” “Beyond the political issues, there are also possible legal issues under the Ohio Constitution. There’s a story behind that — local governments and the state between the 1820s and the 1850s lost millions bailing out its bad investments in toll roads, canals and particularly, railroad companies. Citizens, alleging corruption, called for a constitutional convention in 1851. The result severely limits what the state can do when it comes to giving money to private businesses. The constitutional section flatly banning state ownership of private companies was so popular it wasn’t even debated, according to a 1985 article in the Toledo Law Review written by David Gold, a longtime staffer for the Ohio Legislative Service Commission. As one delegate at the 1851 convention put it: “And sir, we ask now, that debt-contracting, loan laws, and money squandering may forever be put an end to-that the whole system maybe dug up by the roots, and no single sprout ever permitted to shoot up again.”” “Still, Maurice Thompson, a conservative Ohio legal activist who was part of the failed lawsuit [2011 challenge to JobsOhio], said a legal challenge is still possible, although it would be hard to find someone with the standing needed to file it. “I think this has been a long time coming, given Gov. Kasich’s initial comments,” Thompson said. “I do think it’s unconstitutional.” “It’s already problematic that JobsOhio can spend hundreds of millions of our dollars with very little transparency or accountability,” said Janetta King, president and CEO of Innovation Ohio, a progressive think-tank in Columbus. “If it is now ignoring prohibitions in the state Constitution that were put there for good reasons, we should all be concerned.”” Is the reader concerned? Which brings us round to Newark and the recent election results. The entitled GOP (of which Newark Mayor Jeff Hall is a Central Committee member) recently appointed Spencer Barker to fill the seat left vacant by Mark Fraizer, who by appointment filled Scott Ryan’s legislative position (who left for the Third Frontier). Analysis finds all these resume’s curiously compatible with the law of “money makes money.” Fraizer is with giant Huntington Bank, while Barker markets community and real estate for Newark Development Partners (like JobsOhio, a public/private partnership) and Shai Commercial Real Estate. Analysis can only conclude that mini-me Grow Licking County (patterned from its inception on JobsOhio) is salivating while waiting breathlessly for JobsOhio’s investment strategy to be put into action. Analysis finds one place where the law (and raison d’etre) of “money makes money” is already in practice. The financial market (Wall Street) makes money by following the law. Analysis can’t readily ascribe any community, per se, benefiting from this practice under the law. Can you?

NO COLLUSION

March 8, 2019

First things first, Analysis needs to bring context to today’s post through a follow up to the previous two. Fresh off the new Governor’s State of the State but still the same old marketing to Ohio residents as well as outside investors, we give some numbers (the theme of today’s post). “The average JobsOhio employee made six figures in 2018, records show” by Andrew Tobias for Cleveland.com (3-7-19). The headline speaks for itself. “The nonprofit’s top-paid employee was outgoing President and Chief Investment Officer John Minor, who made $621,322.62 in total compensation, which includes salary, 401k contributions and health care costs. That’s $86,863, or 16 percent higher than he received the previous year.” “The second-highest paid employee was Dana Saucier, the nonprofit’s vice president and head of economic development. He received $353,099.72. Chief Financial Officer Kevin Giangola received $240,486.96, and General Counsel Don Grubbs made $238,163.06. Two senior managing directors made $342,155.67 and $304,863.34; Kristi Tanner and Aaron Pitts” “In all, 39 employees received at least $100,000, and 11 received more than $200,000. The average employee’s compensation was $107,741.25, compared to $98,129.02 in 2017.” You do the math. But Analysis notes the new Governor’s State of the State. What does he make? And his cabinet? From the same reporter/news source (Here are the salaries for Gov. Mike DeWine’s top staff — and how they compare to John Kasich’s, 1-30-19): “State legislators voted last December to give state and county-level elected officials across-the-board raises. As a result, DeWine will make $154,248, while Kasich, whose veto of the pay-raise bill was overturned, made $148,315. We did not include this in our average salary calculations.” And what was the averages for cabinet and staff? “The average DeWine cabinet member will make $156,377, compared to $151,140, or about 3.5 percent more, for the same jobs in the Kasich administration.” “Along with salary data for cabinet members, the DeWine administration last Friday released a partial list for top, but not-cabinet level, administrative staff. Those staff made an average of $114,254, compared to $116,000 for the Kasich staff.” Still want a government job, Bunky? Analysis shows top public private partnership ones pay better. But who’s working for whom? And what are they getting for it? (that includes you, Bunky) Writing for the Washington Post, Christopher Ingraham headlines Household net worth falls by largest amount since the Great Recession, new Fed data shows (3-7-19). Of note: “Total household net worth is a measure of the assets — such as homes, stocks and bank accounts — owned by American families and nonprofits minus their debts. In the fourth quarter of 2018, it fell by about $3.7 trillion, a 3.5 percent quarterly decline. Going back to 1952, the start of the Fed’s data, only three quarters — the third and fourth quarters of 2008, and the second quarter of 1962 — posted bigger declines in household net worth, percentage-wise. The data shows that change was driven by the poor performance of the stock market in the fourth quarter of last year. The flailing market erased $4.6 trillion in assets from household and nonprofit balance sheets, which was offset somewhat by gains in real estate and other assets.” Been wondering why your rent has been going up, Bunky? “More important, most of the household wealth in the United States is owned by the country’s richest families. In 2016, for instance, the top 1 percent of families owned 40 percent of all household wealth, with the next 9 percent of families holding an additional 29 percent. That leaves 21 percent of the country’s net worth for the remaining 90 percent of American families. Furthermore, about half of American families don’t own any stocks, while the top 10 percent of families control about 84 percent of the stock market. Taken together, the numbers are a reminder that the stock market is not the economy, and that big national-level data sets may not necessarily reflect financial reality for typical American families, many of whom live paycheck to paycheck and struggle to meet even small unexpected expenses.” Speaking of expenses, numbers news came out this week that addresses just that: “In Blow to Trump, America’s Trade Deficit in Goods Hits Record $891 Billion” by Jim Tankersley and Ana Swanson for the NY Times, 3-6-19. ““All countries run trade deficits whenever they consume more than they produce,” said Kimberly Clausing, an economist at Reed College in Oregon. “And when we borrow to finance tax cuts, like we did with the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, we make these imbalances worse.”” “It is a case of textbook economics catching up with some of Mr. Trump’s unorthodox economic policies. Economists have long warned that Mr. Trump’s tax cuts would ultimately exacerbate a trade deficit he has vowed to reduce, as Americans, flush with extra cash, bought more imported goods.” Analysis can only conclude that the garage and yard sales market will rise in 2019 as average Americans will have so much more stuff to sell. No matter, as of this writing (3-8-19), Dear Leader’s morning constitutional tweet stresses once again, in all caps, “there is NO COLLUSION.” Confused, Bunky? By design, Bunky, by design.

Expecting Different Results

March 6, 2019

“The Bible tells us that there is a time and a place for everything under the Heavens. At this point in Ohio history, it is the time for us to INVEST IN OHIO!” Following the initial kudos and acknowledgements, this was the opening line of Ohio Governor Mike DeWine’s 2019 State of the State address. His primary focus of investment is the maintenance and upgrading of Ohio’s roads and bridges. Whereas John Kasich never failed to disparage his Democrat predecessor for leaving him a rainy day fund without any money, Mike DeWine revealed that he likewise has been left with a fund out of money, transportation. “The only difference is that the state has masked its problem by borrowing more and more money (none of which, by the way, has gone to our local communities). Well—now our credit cards are literally maxed out—and we simply cannot borrow any more—nor should we. Some may think that if we do nothing, the quality of our roads will somehow remain the same. Nothing could be further from the truth. The money the state has borrowed—that same money that has been propping us up—has now been spent. It’s gone.” Unspoken is that we (the GOP) have only ourselves to blame for it. Butt weight, there’s more. Not only was no mention made that this hollowed out account was left by the outgoing administration, but the outgoing administration’s “innovative new public-private partnership,” JobsOhio, was never once mentioned in the entire speech. Coincidence? Almost within the same time as the speech, JobsOhio released their annual report. “2018: A ‘record year’ for JobsOhio” by Thomas Gnau, for the Dayton Daily News (3-5-19) gives the numbers: “2018 figures offered by JobsOhio:• Total number of projects: 266• New jobs: 27,071 • New jobs payroll: $1.3 billion• Retained jobs: 69,905• Retained jobs payroll: $4.2 billion• Capital investment: $9.6 billion” As then Ohio Auditor and now Ohio AG Dave Yost showed only too clearly, the nitty gritty of these figures can never be known. How much of the $9.6 billion involved tax payer moneys, generated by liquor sales or otherwise? How integral was JobsOhio to the creation of the 27,071 new jobs? Would all or part still have become actual without JobsOhio intervention? JobsOhio takes no responsibility for the Lordstown shuttering (“out of their hands”) yet they take credit for new jobs carte blanche. The appearance/disappearance of JobsOhio during the State of the State speaks volumes without making a sound uttered by the current Governor (“It’s gone.”). Few remember when liquor was sold only in “State Stores”, but liquor sold in Ohio still is managed by the State with the difference being that no one but JobsOhio profits from the sales. It IS, by design, a public private partnership. In December of 2016 this blog wrote of one such JobsOhio “Capital investment” (Stormy Weather, 12-9-16) “JobsOhio Picks Up the $17M Cost for Prepping OH Cracker Site (Marcellus Drilling News 12-7-16). From that article (in the industry’s own words): “Clearing the site, which once hosted the R.E. Burger coal-fired power plant, was no small task. The power plant site, owned and (until 2011) operated by FirstEnergy cost $14 million for demolition, remediation and general cleaning up. An adjacent site (not owned by FirstEnergy) cost another $3 million to tidy up. All told it took $17 million to clean up the site and get it ready to begin construction. FirstEnergy is reported to have said they were “excited” by the opportunity to spend $14 million to clean it up. Wait, what? They wanted to spend the money? Well actually, no, they didn’t. FirstEnergy spent the money to clean up the site because they have been/are being reimbursed for the cost by JobsOhio”” No hydrocarbon cracking plant was ever built. The site sits “jobs ready”, or is that “investment ready”? But you can’t drive on it or use it to cross a river. Governor DeWine is correct. The money is gone, but he makes it sound as if someone just didn’t pay attention to Franklin in handling the Benjamins (“Neither a borrower nor lender be”). Truth is, along with the tax cuts it was given away to subsidize corporate wealth through JobsOhio. Now DeWine and the GOP want to “fix the problem” of this migration of funding resources through a regressive tax, paid by those on the other end of the corporate wealth spectrum. Butt weight, there’s even more with another priority proffered with this State of the State statement: “In the budget that I will propose, we will be creating a new public health fund, that will leverage resources through an innovative new public-private partnership to increase public health awareness and prevention strategies.” The GOP never gives up on insisting there is money to be made wherever there is public need. “Insanity is repeating the same mistakes and expecting different results.” (origin unknown).

Stormy Weather

December 9, 2016

Flying under the radar this week was the Ohio Governor’s speech on the floor of the Ohio House 12-6-16. According to Cleveland.com’s Jeremy Pelzer (John Kasich warns Ohio ‘on the verge of a recession’ 12-7-16) the former presidential wannabe “warned lawmakers Tuesday that Ohio is “on the verge of a recession” as state tax revenues continue to fall short of expectations.” “So far this year, the state has collected $259 million, or 2.8 percent, less in taxes than expected, according to preliminary data released by the Office of Management and Budget. In particular, state income is $153 million less than projected for the year and sales tax revenue is $109 million less.” Jeremy Pelzer prognosticates pithily: “In the past, Kasich has talked about the so-called “Ohio miracle,” touting the state’s economic resurgence along with tax cuts and building up a “rainy-day fund” of more than $2 billion – several times the projected shortfall this year – to draw upon during tough economic times. The governor has helped stock the rainy-day fund by slashing state funding for local governments across Ohio, forcing many cities and towns to raise taxes or cut services.” Analysis gleans that Licking County Commissioner Tim Bubb’s poker face is beginning to show (see previous posts). But not showing this week was the news of JobsOhio Picks Up the $17M Cost for Prepping OH Cracker Site (Marcellus Drilling News 12-7-16). From that article (in the industry’s own words): “Clearing the site, which once hosted the R.E. Burger coal-fired power plant, was no small task. The power plant site, owned and (until 2011) operated by FirstEnergy cost $14 million for demolition, remediation and general cleaning up. An adjacent site (not owned by FirstEnergy) cost another $3 million to tidy up. All told it took $17 million to clean up the site and get it ready to begin construction. FirstEnergy is reported to have said they were “excited” by the opportunity to spend $14 million to clean it up. Wait, what? They wanted to spend the money? Well actually, no, they didn’t. FirstEnergy spent the money to clean up the site because they have been/are being reimbursed for the cost by JobsOhio” “What is JobsOhio and where does it get all this money? Glad you asked! JobsOhio is a private, non-profit with a board appointed by Ohio Gov. John Kasich, which gets most of its operating revenue from taxes on liquor sales in Ohio. So raise a glass to the cracker, Ohioans. Your imbibing is helping to build it…” Back to Pelzer: “”There’s not going to be a lot of growth in any [state] program,” Kasich told reporters at the time. “It’s going to be tight. There’s not going to be an ability to give significant percentage increases.”” Gee Toto, I don’t think we’re in Oz anymore, just back in Kansas.

Wily Coyote And The Road Runner

June 18, 2014

Scott Walker and John Kasich both ran as the Republican Party’s candidate for governor in their respective states, Wisconsin and Ohio, in 2010. Both won by narrow margins. Both are governors of states in which their party also maintains the majority in the legislature. Both utilized this dominance to revamp their state’s economic situation through revisions to their state budgets. Out of the box, both made cuts to their budgets that involved how education, municipalities, public health services, infrastructure, etc. was funded. Both attempted to “rein in” public unions – Walker successfully retaining his grasp under duress, Kasich letting go without leaving any fingerprint. The similarities continue (for other reasons too involved for the limited capacity of Analysis), but ended with Walker’s successful (and historic) recall election defense. Today, both are running for re-election – Walker in a cliff hanger, Kasich quickly dusting his opponent. Apart from being fierce Big Ten rivals, the two states are remarkably alike, usually being lumped in with the category of “rust belt” or Midwest states. Today, their economies are likewise quite comparable in terms of unemployment levels, education capacity, legislature make up, voting demographics, etc. According to Scott Bauer of the AP (“Wisconsin’s Walker dogged by a promise not kept” 6-17-14) the anvil that dropped on Scott Walker’s current campaign fell in 2010 – “”I want my Cabinet secretaries to have branded across their heads, ‘250,000 jobs,'” Walker said at a December 2010 meeting of the Dairy Business Association. “I want them to know their job is on the line because my job is on the line to create 250,000 jobs in the private sector.”” To date current accounts given show only 101,000. “Walker has cited his own reasons, including uncertainty caused by his recall, concerns about the federal health care law and the sluggish national recovery.” In 2010 John the governator (to be) relied on the speed of the cavalry (“hold on, the cavalry’s on its way”), much as someone would say “the sun will rise again” at 4 in the morning. In 2010, his former associates on Wall Street noticed the trend was turning, the worst was over, and there was only one way to go and that was up (which is where the stock market currently has been in continuous record breaking territory). Aside from the difference regarding public employees, Kasich utilized his party’s virtual dominance in the legislature and state’s supreme court to implement something much more effective — JobsOhio. With jobs creation in the hands of a “public private” enterprise, John the governator raced away from the pitfall that has ensnared his Wisconsin counterpart. With JobsOhio being a private entity operating at the speed of business and sworn to secrecy, with an imprimatur provided by the dominant party’s legislature and affirmed by the party’s justices, catching a glimpse of the actuality of Ohio’s employment situation is highly unlikely. The speed of business is just too fast (high speed electronic trading and all). Bauer ends his article with this assessment: “Working with a compliant Republican Legislature, he has cut taxes by nearly $2 billion, saying the lighter burden would help both businesses and consumers. He also eased environmental regulations and made it more difficult to sue businesses. Although governors often pledge to improve the economy, other factors carry much more weight. “There’s no credible evidence that anything state governments do intentionally to create jobs actually work,” said McGee [UW Oshkosh economics professor Kevin McGee].” With JobsOhio operating at “the speed of business”, how are we ever to know?

Voter Information Guide

November 2, 2013

            This time of year newspaper editorials urge voters to be informed. Newark is no different. After running extensive articles on the various races, sides and issues, The Newark Advocate does just that; a thankless job. Two priorities stand out in the upcoming election – school funding and Newark City Council representation. Reasons giving for the various new or renewal school funding levies usually come down to cuts in state funding, changes to tax base, etc. Most of the districts have already implemented austerity measures on top of austerity measures and now must rely on the voters continued support. With the council representation, themes emerge, sound bytes, talking points. They may be block watch programs, police and fire protection, neighborhood revitalization, etc. All are pretty general. All are subsumed within the overriding consensus topic of jobs and economy. In that there is no partisan division.

 

            The Toledo Blade recently did an excellent job of reporting on the State of Ohio’s policies, practices and outcomes regarding jobs, jobs creation and the economics involved (loans, grants, tax credits, etc.). These speak directly to what the council candidates only spoke of in general, positive terms and what school districts have to “manage” as the new reality. The Blade covered the years 2007 through 2013, years of Democratic and Republican administration (truly no partisan division). The reports by Kris Turner are State Does Little To Track Jobs From Loans, and Millions Of Dollars Lost In Ohio’s Pursuit Of Jobs dated 10-27-13, Political Ties Aid Firms Seeking State Assistance 10-28-13, and Many Jobs State of Ohio Says It Created Don’t Exist 10- 29-13. The headlines speak for themselves. Recurring themes found such as lapses with vetting as well as verification mirror those that led up to the financial meltdown on Wall Street in 2008. As corporations are entities existing only in contemplation of the law (now having religious convictions!), they appear under various guises, affinities and subsidiary connections. Oftentimes their only contact point is a PO box in a distant city. “Today, many of the procedures that resulted in governmental lapses are now being performed out of the public’s view. At the behest of Governor Kasich, the Ohio Department of Development was eliminated and morphed into the downsized Ohio Development Services Agency in September, 2012. Criticism of the Department of Development was a staple of Mr. Kasich’s gubernatorial campaign in 2010. The new agency — per the Republican-backed legislation that created it — contracts some of its services from JobsOhio, a nonprofit that was created by the state, seeded with taxpayer money, and shielded by law from public scrutiny. JobsOhio now vets and collects information about companies that request state assistance. The information JobsOhio amasses is reviewed by the Development Services Agency. Neither entity would comment on whether that information is a public record. Unlike the Development Services Agency, JobsOhio is not required to disclose the details of its activities to the state auditor or the General Assembly.” (Millions Of Dollars Lost…10-27-13). An analogous situation exists within Licking County/ Newark revealed recently with regard the Arcade and the adjoining properties affected by an antiquated fire suppression system/red and white X status designation. Ownership of properties/business was listed as some corporation, which in turn was found to be part of some other company which were in turn found to be located within the holdings of some individual. Much of the debate regarding property maintenance in Newark centers on this issue of ownership, and responsibility. The Blade article found that when a corporation defaults, goes bankrupt or just disappears in the night, tracking down the loan money owed is next to impossible. The grants and tax credits used as incentives require no reimbursement. “The loan, grants, and tax credits Mr. Snyder’s [C. David Snyder, Cleveland businessman] companies received are an example of how business people use relationships with politicians to grow their companies. State financing is particularly attractive because it carries a lower interest rate than a bank loan. Even better, state officials sometimes dole out grants that don’t have to be paid back.” (Political Ties Aid… 10-28-13) Vetting, eligibility, verification and eventual collection (enforcement) of how the public’s money is spent finds itself with increasingly smaller departments and with no public disclosure now legislated as a prerequisite. Though not the size of the NSA, the secrecy clause, or default lack of accountability due to overworked, understaffed oversight can likewise be found in Licking County as well as Newark. Bullet points from The Blade’s series reveal some troubling outcomes. “Among the findings of the investigation:

■ Buckeye Silicon is one of more than a dozen examples of a breakdown in the vetting, oversight, and management of loans and grants awarded to companies.

■ The state routinely invests in businesses that have financial problems and legal troubles. It also awarded loans and grants to companies whose executives were hefty political donors or were connected to top politicians in Columbus.

■ About 50 percent of the companies that received grants to create jobs failed to live up to their state job commitments. Those businesses were paid $45.5 million, which is half the grant funding the state awarded to spark job growth.

■ Many state records detailing job creation related to grant funding contained inaccuracies, which skewed the total number of jobs created by 25,000.

■ In total, 25 percent of the firms that received loans issued during the five-year period needed more time to complete projects, couldn’t make payments on time, or closed. Those 51 loans represent $79.2 million, or about one-third, of the $235.8 million that was paid to companies.” (Millions Of Dollars Lost… 10-27-13)

“But The Blade’s investigation found a much bigger problem:

● Reports from businesses that have open grants — meaning they still are using state grant money — inflated job figures by 59 percent. The 294 reports that were reviewed stated firms created 27,815 jobs, but state officials said they created 16,458 jobs — a difference of 11,357 fewer jobs.

● Reports from businesses that finished spending state grant money show they failed to create 83 percent of the jobs they promised to the state. The 240 reports reviewed stated those firms promised to create 10,173 jobs, but said they created only 1,775 positions. Officials at Ohio Development Services Agency, however, claim those companies created 15,006 jobs.

Of the 534 grant records reviewed, 195 contained errors, including incorrect job-creation numbers. The Blade asked the state about each error it found and state officials replied with new data, which was used to determine if companies created or lost jobs. The corrected state data was not recorded on official documents, but was sent to The Blade via email.” (Many Jobs… 10-29-13)

 

            In light of the Blade’s reporting, it is disappointing to note that no candidate for representation on Newark’s City Council differentiated themselves regarding how the public’s money is spent in terms of the bi-partisan refrain of jobs and economics of jobs creation. The same means of attaining that goal favored by the State of Ohio are echoed within Newark municipal policy and practice. Carte Blanche management of public money’s directed at this outcome are vetted, verified, monitored and enforced by either private agency with no requirement of disclosure, or burden an understaffed, overworked public department. And the candidates take no issue with that!

            The school districts across the state formerly found themselves under attack by the very reasons that today the State (and local) legislature create as legal policy for purposes of “competitiveness” in jobs creation and economics. After repeated insistence that school funding had been misspent, frittered away on nonessentials, districts found themselves increasingly restricted in funding and use of funding by the State. Although always transparent by decree (local public funding), schools found they needed to be even more so in addition to being required to justify any actions taken through stringent accountability, testing and achievement results. This accountability of public moneys (on public schools) didn’t extend to the business driven model of charter or private schools which, like some of the examples given by The Blade, could just disappear off the radar screen like a blib, leaving parents (and local public schools) scrambling to meet the public education requirement of the students affected. The obsession with creating jobs/economics on the backs of the working people who provide the funding is creating a bubble akin to that which the school districts experienced over the last 30 years (educate by providing the latest technology, which somehow was never quite new enough). The only difference lies in the legislated non-accountability that the jobs creators enjoy; no testing or achievement standards. It is now virtually impossible to have a “results driven”, publically funded jobs creation economic in the State of Ohio, or locally for that matter. And the candidates found it of no importance in their appeal for votes.

           

Yes voters need to be informed and now, more than ever, they need to vote.

 

Secret Democracy

June 8, 2013

            Gannet presented (and contributed to) a Cincinnati Enquirer article dated 6-8-13 by Chrissie Thompson entitled “Secret meeting provision for local officials passes Senate. Reporting for radioactive fracking waste also added”.  Quick quotes from that article:

 

“[Bill] Seitz, R-Green Township, this week sponsored an amendment to the state budget that would create an exception to the Open Meetings Law, allowing local governments to call closed sessions to consider tax breaks for new or growing businesses.”

“Local governments should be allowed to discuss economic development in secret because state governing bodies already have that freedom, said Sen. Bill Seitz, who sponsored such legislation as part of the budget that passed Ohio’s Senate on Thursday.”

“Municipalities often compete with other neighboring areas over new businesses and the new jobs they bring, Seitz said. Local governments should have freedom to make tax-break offers privately to keep their competitive edge over nearby localities.”

““Practically everything (JobsOhio does) can be conducted without adherence to the Open Meetings Law. Your local elected officials, who are also laboring in the vineyard of economic development, ought to have the same flexibility for negotiating purposes,” Seitz told The Enquirer. “The public, of course, will know of every decision once it is made.””

 

            The last line, of course, is quite memorable since this is likewise the case within any totalitarian regime (nominally “democratic” or not). Yes, Mr. Seitz, there is no provision in the federal or state constitution granting citizens the right to look. That freedom was overlooked by our founding fathers. And yes again, Mr. Seitz, the public eventually does become informed “of every decision once it is made.”