OUR VIEW: JobsOhio ruling closes the door

SUPREME COurt ruling closes door on public records access

Published:

The Ohio Supreme Court

has closed the door on JobsOhio, the non-profit entity created by Gov. John Kasich to oversee state economic development efforts.

The court issued a two-sentence judgment entry this week that dismissed a complaint requesting JobsOhio to fulfill a public records request. The decision affirmed JobsOhio's exemption from public records access, noting its status a private entity.

The ruling is in line with the rationale that led to the creation of JobsOhio. As a private, non-profit entity working closely with state agencies, it can conduct its business behind closed doors. Businesses considering relocating to Ohio or expanding their operations here can do so without public scrutiny, the tradeoff being jobs for Ohio vs. transparency in government.

The fact remains, however, that Jobs Ohio receives state money -- liquor revenues are among its funding sources ­-- and Ohioans have a right to know how the agency is using it. While JobsOhio is required to conduct a handful of public meetings and files disclosure documents about incentives it has awarded for economic development, the court's decision basically renders its operations off-limits to the public.

The Supreme Court has heard arguments in a challenge to JobsOhio brought by an advocacy group that contends it is unconstitutional because the state is prohibited from establishing private enterprises. A similar argument was made -- and ultimately dismissed -- in the bid for public records access.

There is no question that economic development is important, but not so important that the agency overseeing it is granted a blank check on how it operates. Secrecy in government raises the potential for abuse. Closing the doors and closing the records on decisions and decision-making is risky business.

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  • Careful there trawl, you may offend somebody with their snouts in the trough. There's no place for that in their Democracy.

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    Now, what was the Republican/conservative mantra of the 2012 election ..? .. That's right

     

    OUTSOURCING!! That private industry can do "it" better and cheaper. Maybe private industry can be more efficient but wouldn't we need see the books to know that?

    About 6 (?) years ago I saw where far as anyone could guess around $2,000,000 went missing from outsourced schools in Akron. That's all that could be guessed because the schools being privitized means they didn't have to open their books. And they didn't.

    I want to see the Conservative continue the fight for outsourcing when this ruling makes it obscenely clear that taxpayer money can be dumped into an outsource with no oversight or accountability.

    .

  • Yeah...jobs ohio should be as transparent as the national government...