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Kasich quiet on poor 3Q JobsOhio report as high court rules group records secret

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There is good news and bad news related to JobsOhio. The good news for Ohio Gov. John Kasich, his administration and everyone associated with his secret nonprofit development group JobsOhio, created by a friendly Republican legislature that naturally wanted to aide and abet the state's go-go CEO-style chief executive after he won a skinny election in 2010, is the ruling Tuesday that the Supreme Court of Ohio will keep JobsOhio records secret

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Today's unanimous ruling of the court—SLIP OPINION NO. 2013-OHIO-5188, THE STATE EX REL. ULLMANN v. JOBSOHIO ET AL—was short but clear: "Upon consideration of respondents’ motion to dismiss, it is ordered by the court that the motion to dismiss is granted because JobsOhio is specifically exempted from the requirements of Ohio law [O.R.C. 149.43 by R.C. 187.04(C)(1)].

All justices with the exception of Justice O'Donnell shut down this latest attempt to peer into the inner workings of Gov. Kasich's privatized job development group. The court dismissed a complaint asking the court to force JobsOhio to produce documents requested under the state’s Public Records Act after ruling that the General Assembly has largely exempted JobsOhio from the state’s public records law.

Last month the court heard arguments related to whether certain petitioners have standing to bring an action against JobsOhio that if allowed could eventually lead to a decision that the secret group, which has used public liquor funds to raise billions over time, is unconstitutional.

The bad news for JobsOhio came without any fanfare at all, which for an administration that values lots of fanfare for everything else it does, spoke volumes to everyone interested in creating jobs in Ohio. With the release of federal and state unemployment statistics for September and October shows Ohio moving in the wrong direction when compared to an improving national picture, the disappointing third quarter report raises questions about a governor practiced in the art of reform who needs to be rehired by Ohio voters next year if he wants to keep his name prominently on the list of would-be presidential candidates for 2016.

Ohio Democrats, who have stumbled badly of late in the political flareup over tax liens and fines associated with their pick for lieutenant governor that won't go away and will play prominently in GOP campaign spots down the road, jumped on the poor performance news.

"It’s no wonder Governor Kasich’s controversial JobsOhio buried this embarrassing report,” said Jerid Kurtz, a spokesman for the Ohio Democratic Party, in an email to the media. "With Ohio’s unemployment rate worsening to exceed the national rate for the first time in three years, this report shows the Governor is doing less and less to help get Ohioans back to work."

In the third quarter report, JobsOhio’s self-reported "total jobs payroll" dropped more than 40 percent from their previous average quarterly payroll. Self-reported "total new jobs" also slipped nearly 18 percent below their quarterly average, while the "total number of projects" also dropped 10 percent. Kurtz linked the bad news from JobsOhio to a report by the Toledo Blade showing that many of the jobs the State of Ohio says it creates don’t exist.

"The rest of the nation continues to recover, but under Governor Kasich our state has fallen to 44th in the nation in job growth and 427,000 Ohioans are out of work,” Kurtz said, adding, "Our economy is headed in the wrong direction and instead of helping middle-class families, JobsOhio seems more interested in helping itself. Ohioans deserve better."

In an attempt to bury this bad news with more good news, Gov. Kasich announced the approval of assistance for 11 projects set to create 733 jobs and retain 310 jobs statewide. During its monthly meeting, the Ohio Tax Credit Authority reviewed economic development proposals brought to the board by JobsOhio and its regional partners, Kasich communicators said. "Collectively, the projects are expected to result in more than $35 million in new payroll, and spur more than $152 million in investment across Ohio."

Key words for the Kasich administration are "expected to result in," which as the Blade's extensive report shows, do not translate into jobs created.

Adding more concern to the theory that state tax breaks and subsidies are good for business—and therefore good for workers—is a study released Tuesday by Good Jobs First, a Washington-based non-profit, non-partisan research center promoting accountability practices in economic development and smart growth for working families.

In its study—"Companies Get Subsidies to Move, Mostly Leaving Hard-Hit Areas in Cleveland and Cincinnati Metro Areas—164 companies were given "lucrative property tax breaks as they moved facilities around within the Cleveland and Cincinnati metro areas." The subsidized relocations affected an estimated 14,500 workers, who were "overwhelmingly outward bound and by many measures fueled suburban sprawl, especially in the Cleveland region."

By dispersing jobs away from the urban cores, GJF said the relocations worsened inequalities in wealth and opportunity. "They moved jobs away from areas hardest hit by plant closings and with higher rates of poverty, unemployment and people of color to more affluent and less diverse areas," a media release from GJF said.

GJF is clearly aware of JobsOhio and the controversy roiling in the Buckeye State over its exemption from public scrutiny. "Ominously, Ohio’s economic development programs are becoming much less transparent, denying taxpayers the ability to see how their job investments are performing—or where," the group wrote today.

"Ohio’s enterprise zone program is so loose it has been perverted," said Greg LeRoy, the study’s lead author. "It has become pro-sprawl, which is tragic given that it was originally created to revitalize older areas." The study also examines Community Reinvestment Areas, a program succeeding enterprise zones.

Funded by the Ford Foundation, the research work is the largest study of subsidized relocations ever performed in the United States.

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