Commentary Forum: Ben Tompkins 4/26/11

JobsBlowhio

By Ben Tompkins

Benjamin Tomkins

I generally don’t get asked to write things like this. If any of you have bothered to read my bio, you might notice that I live in Colorado, and as such I’m not a natural go-to guy when Dayton needs some perspective on state and local political issues. It’s not that I can’t figure it out, but if you take a second and imagine how profoundly boring reading documents like the House Bill 1 (HB1), which establishes this JobsOhio nonsense, and then mining the Ohio State Constitution to cross reference the contradictions, consider what it must be like when it’s not even your own stomping grounds.
But in this instance, and I’m sorry to be a blunt prick about it, I think you guys could seriously benefit from some outside, objective opinions, because you seem to be oblivious to the situation. Oh, I read the bill in its entirety and checked out your constitution, and it has some insurmountable problems. Here’s the short list:
1. The state of Ohio is giving $1 million to JobsOhio and the governor, simply by virtue of being elected, becomes the uncontestable president of the board.
Constitution says: “The credit of the state shall not, in any manner, be given or loaned to, or in aid of, any individual association or corporation whatever; nor shall the state ever hereafter become a joint owner, or stockholder, in any company or association in this state, or elsewhere, formed for any purpose whatever.”
2-4. Who gives a crap? Valid as the next three issues are, once you knock off one of those the discussion’s over. It’s not like a law’s OK if it only violates freedom of the press OR equal rights but not both. Listen, if Governor Kasich being the de facto board president, wielding the power to appoint anyone he wants to the board of directors and occupying a position of total immunity from board sanctions, doesn’t equal “owned by the state of Ohio,” then I don’t know what does. Seriously, are we done here?
Look, I get that HB1 put in all this language that specifically says JobsOhio board members are not employees of the state of Ohio, but as Tyler Durden said in Fight Club, “Sticking feathers up your butt does not make you a chicken.” And as easy a target as blatant unconstitutionality is for the opposition, it PALES in comparison to the non-constitutional reasons that JobsOhio is completely insane. Oh baby, that’s where the real gold is. Check this steaming pile out:
So the whole idea with JobsOhio is that the state creates this non-profit corporation to negotiate with businesses to find out how the state can best encourage their growth by deregulating their respective industries. Why a non-profit corporation, Ben? Well, I’m glad you asked. Unlike the current state-run program which tries to do the same thing (badly) a non-profit corporation can act much more quickly because they don’t have to deal with things like accountability, disclosure and lobbying limitations. Of course the governor does, but the board of directors? To quote HB1:
B (1) …With the exception of the governor, directors and employees of JobsOhio are not employees or officials of the state and … are not subject to Chapter 102 … of the Revised Code.
Section 102 of the Revised Code deals with … you guessed it … disclosure
In a nutshell, while the governor has to tell you whom his is talking to and the price of the dinner/hooker an interested party bought him, everyone else can do whatever they want off the record.
So let’s say BP wants the governor’s ear to help get past some pesky safety regulations. They simply fly the board of directors to Czechoslovakia to partake in an evening of Kielbasas and sex industry workers completely off the books. And why didn’t we hear about this in one of those “public board meetings” Kasich is so proud of? Because HB1 gives JobsOhio the right to close to the public any board meeting that involves discussion of “business strategies.”
Read: “anything.” Besides, even though Kasich himself is required to disclose where and with whom he spends a company dime, that doesn’t mean an interested business can’t make a donation that happens to match his bar tab.
Listen, I have spent a lot of time thinking and researching this topic, and I believe the above information represents a distilled but very accurate account of JobsOhio. Governor Kasich is openly creating a state-run corporation to allow special interests to lobby him completely off the public record. So asking on behalf myself and everyone else in this country:
Why are you letting him do that to you?

Benjamin Tompkins is a violinist, teacher, journalist and critically acclaimed composer currently living in Denver, CO. He hates stupidity, and generally believes that the volume of one’s voice is inversely proportional to one’s knowledge of an issue.

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