This controversy is getting bigger in Ohio, but everyone should be questioning these “public-private partnerships” in my view, because we’re not equal partners. The private side write some very favorable accountability and transparency terms for their end:
The Republican state auditor is demanding access to financial documents, Democratic lawmakers are demanding more public scrutiny of the nonprofit JobsOhio, one Republican leader is chastising both of the former, and Gov. John Kasich is calling the whole thing a misunderstanding over a complicated issue.
Such was the status Thursday in a growing controversy over the private office that coordinates the state’s economic development programming, the millions of dollars in public funding it has received and the lack of public information on the nonprofit’s spending and donors.
“Sometimes you read things and it appears one way,” the governor told reporters Thursday. “It’s really just a little disagreement about how we should proceed. The simple fact of the matter is I favor all public money being able to be audited by our state auditor, plain and simple. … But you don’t want to go in and audit the private books of private industry by the auditor. That’s beyond his authority.”
The brouhaha focuses on JobsOhio, the nonprofit created by Kasich and lawmakers two years ago to reach out to existing companies and firms thinking about expanding into Ohio, negotiating economic incentive packages and helping to commercialize research and technologies developed at the state’s universities.
Most of JobsOhio’s dealings are conducted outside of the public spotlight, a setup supporters say is needed during business negotiations.
But documents also indicated the nonprofit has received more than $5 million in public funding, and a number of employees received six-figure salaries.
Auditor Dave Yost this week issued a subpoena seeking financial statements, “bank statements for ALL accounts,” lists of JobsOhio contributors and other documents.
The subpoena requires JobsOhio representatives to appear at the auditor’s office March 19 to turn over the documents and provide additional testimony.
“The governor and I have the same goal: to make sure JobsOhio’s money is working for the people of Ohio — creating jobs and growing this economy for our families,” Yost said. “It’s important to look at the total picture. The private bond proceeds trace directly back to the public money.”
State Rep. and Democratic Party Chairman Chris Redfern called JobsOhio “Gov. Kasich’s re-election slush fund” and criticized the nonprofit for being “shrouded in secrecy.”
There’s something really wrong with this. They’re setting these things up to “cut red tape” and “innovate” but what’s really happening is they’re getting around state law. The laws were put in for a reason, and it was (everyone pretend to look shocked at this next part) corruption.
This idea that states like Ohio put in disclosure laws because they sought to get in the way of “innovation” or “add red tape” is just ridiculous. That isn’t what happened. They put in sunshine and disclosure laws because they’re stewards of public money and the public has a right to to know where it’s going. If that bothers wealthy people or business entities, if they see that as an impediment they have to circumvent, I am truly sorry but that’s, you know, democracy. It’s a pain in the ass, almost by definition.
It doesn’t really matter if they commingle “donations” with public money. We’re not begging them to chip in towards our “start up” state government. Why are we being so polite and coy about this? We don’t want to insult these wealthy people and powerful business entities and question their intentions? The minute they took public money they opened themselves up to disclosure. It isn’t personal. They’re not some special, protected class of public money recipients because they put in some of their own. Hell, I didn’t even ask for it, and I don’t want it. I think it comes with strings and at a price, obviously. I want to know what they got in exchange. I want to look a gift horse in the mouth, as the saying goes. Is that so wrong and cynical and “mean” of me?
Forum Transmitted Disease
Horseshit. I work for a defense contractor, small, no stock. We’re the very definition of a private company. We get audited ALL THE FUCKING TIME by any government agency that feels like doing it, because we take government money. We have to account for every goddamned cent, and that’s written into the FAR (federal accounting bible, for those so lucky as to not know). No such thing as “private books” when you take money from the US Government.
If we didn’t take public money, we wouldn’t have to comply with any audit requests save those from the IRS. Period. Kaisch is trying to cover for his buddies having stole a bunch of money and spending it on hookers and blow, plain and simple.
@Forum Transmitted Disease:
I think it’s just stunning. Now you can’t even ask what they’re doing. They’re private! They cannot be subjected to an audit, because then people would know what they’re doing.
This is his actual argument. Not only that, but Republican lawmakers are taking it up. They’re going to pass a law to deny access. I mean, Jesus. Could they have any less respect for us?
I’m shocked! Didn’t Romney prove that secret accounting doesn’t matter?
I get the feeling we’ll all find out that the answer is “yes”.
It really pisses me off when someone not too bright tries to bullshit his way through something like this, assuming we’re all idiots.
(ETA – Yeah, I know it was rhetorical.)
The new PA attorney general has declared illegal Governor Corbett’s single-handed sale of the state lottery to the only bidder. There is a pause now, while he decides whether to sue or try to get the legislature to write his laws and the Bureau of Gambling Control to agree to allow the Brits keno.
In the meantime, he’s trying to sell the state liquor stores and frack state forests.
I love the assumption of good will and honesty because it’s private. If you’re at all curious about this quasi-state unelected government you’re just an ungrateful asshole. Can you imagine if elected officials were treated this way, when they handle public money? “How DARE you! Any more impertinent questions and I take my talents ELSEWHERE”
I would know nearly nothing of Ohio politics if not for you, so thank you.
Forum Transmitted Disease
I might add that by this logic, limiting what a welfare recipient spends their money on, or drug testing them, would be illegal.
And next comes school money.
Look at who’s profiting – charter schools today usually mean for profit businesses that rack up $$ while hiding poor performance.
It all makes sense when you understand the goal of Republicans is to shovel as much public money into as few private hands as possible.
A few of them get the gold mine, the rest of us get the shaft.
I’m so glad you’re on this, Kay, and I hope you keep hammering away. It doesn’t pass even the slightest scrutiny: if government can perform a given function, whether running schools, post offices, or prisons, for a certain price, we are supposed to believe that private businesses can perform the same functions better and cheaper, while skimming a hefty profit off the top? How does anyone believe this is possible? If someone is making profits off of our schools and prisons, the teachers and prison guards are going to be poorly-paid, the facilities are going to be poorer, and some hotshot is going to be whistling all the way to the bank, while we’re left wondering why all our kids have flunked out of schoold and are in prison now.
Sadly, you’re just getting started. Once the for-profits are regulated, you’ll see them fail, close and re-open. They simply change the legal “shell” that surrounds the particular entity.
Ohio was in the forefront deregulating schools. The scams get more sophisticated as states RE regulate.
Kasich is right about one thing. This is “complex”
“How DARE you! Any more impertinent questions and I take my talents ELSEWHERE”
Wouldn’t that be nice?
It wouldn’t be proper grift if it wasn’t complex enough to cover up the theft.
How dare you question free-market Jesus!
Can we turn down the money? “Thanks so much, but we elect leaders here”
I have a radical idea. They could run their business, and if they want to run the state or country they could run for office!
From an article in the Cleveland Plain Dealer dated 1-21-11 prior to the legislation’s approval:
Who could have known?
Excellent, excellent post.
Those two statements seem somewhat out of agreement.
Blasphemy that is, electing honest leaders, that’s just blasphemy.
Here in NY, if you receive public money from the state, you are subject at any time to an audit by the State Comptroller. The Albany paper usually has a story or two of some idiot who thought they could use the money improperly and got caught.
Seriously, how tough is this? You’re handing over a bunch of money to run a state program and you don’t want state auditors to check the books? Call the FDA, something smells… like rotten fish.
a hip hop artist from Idaho (fka Bella Q)
The Fox News Personality and his cult of cronies insult us once again, or continue to do so, as the whole Jobs Ohio episode shows.It’s not like they’re trying an end run around the state constitutions or anything.
Republicans have no problem auditing Planned Parenthood over expenditures of public funding, but when it’s their sacred cow it’s another question entirely.
GOP them. GOP them to oblivion.
When the JobsOhio CEO has to fly away suddenly to Brussels for an important, unexpected, meeting and a flunky hands Ohio an empty suitcase to deliver to some JobsOhio flunky in Toledo, Ohio should check the lining.
Does Ohio have any money? It might be in big trouble. Maybe Kay can post the names of its next of kin in case it disappears.
Commenting at Balloon Juice since 1937
JobsOhio has created some six figure jobs. Must be nice to be a ‘Friend of Kasich’.
@Gretchen: Because the Free Market is Just Better. Because Efficiency or Competition or some shit.
You are basically arguing against a religious doctrine. It is axiomatic that private is better, because private is better. Any evidence to the contrary will be ignored.
Private = efficient, honest, productive, wonderful
Public = wasteful, corrupt, unproductive, evil
What could be simpler?
@Lurking Canadian: Free Market Jeebus cannot fail, He can only be failed.
“Innovate,” my ass. I watched a 2-hour JobsOhio meeting on the Ohio Channel and it is nothing but a scam. Their bright idea is a “forecasting tool” that companies are supposed to use to predict how many and what kind of workers they will need in the future. Based on that, JobsOhio will set up training centers to fill the need.
Unfortunately, businesses have come back and said there’s no way to predict what they will need, which has made King John very unhappy. He sat at the table, looking very disengaged, piping up occasionally to tell the board members that it was their job to get businesses to use the tool, and without it, their efforts would be unsuccessful.
Then, about 2/3 through the meeting, he interrupted whoever was speaking, said he knew more got done when he wasn’t around, and then stood up and left without another word.
He was getting dangerously close to “working”. He can’t tolerate that.
It is not just a disclosure law. The Ohio Constitution prohibits the investment or commingling of public funds into a private entity. This has been true since about 1855 when Ohio voters passed an amendment to the Constitution after canal funds became corruptly interminged with private funds. Of course, King Kasich regrds the Ohio Constitution as a pesky “job-killing regulation”, but fortunately, the State Auditor appears to think differently. Even the supine, Kasich worshipping lapdog Columbus Dispatch is following this story.
And the upper management are going to be much more highly paid than their public counterparts, and much more likely to send cash to pro-piratization politicians. It’s a feature, not a bug.
You know the old Republican saying: Transparency for thee but not for me.
Aside from enabling cronyism, many of these PPPs are really just mechanisms for governments to use non-union (aka cheap) labor for the same jobs that government employees used to do. Just another example of wealthy people using Republican-controlled government to sap money directly out of the middle class.
keep on it kay
Hey, all the best corruption is innovative!
Nope, you just might have to bury that fucker.