The second full year of operation for the state’s public-private economic development organization was nearly as rocky as its first one. Gov. John Kasich has made it clear many times that he stands behind his keystone creation JobsOhio. At his final public speech in December, he called it “the most important economic development tool in America.”
“JobsOhio went through some political nonsense, and that – we’ve kind of cleared the brush on that, I guess they’ve kind of given up on that. And now this organization is starting to grow.”
A group critical of JobsOhio says the California native brought in to be its first president may have used that position to set himself up for a big payday later.
The liberal group Progress Ohio has been trying to find out about the deals Mark Kvamme has been striking with his firm Drive Capital since leaving JobsOhio. Progress Ohio’s Brian Rothenberg says based on a similar proposed deal with one of the state’s pension funds, Kvamme could net $9 million in fees, half a million in expenses and 20% of future profits from The Ohio State University’s investment in his company.
The Ohio Supreme Court says JobsOhio can’t be compelled to produce certain documents by the state’s public records law, because state legislators specifically exempted most of JobsOhio's records from that law.
The Columbus lawyer who filed the complaint was hoping that it would result in the Ohio Supreme Court making a final ruling on the constitutionality of JobsOhio. Victoria Ullman also worked on another suit filed by a coalition of liberal and conservative groups led by Progress Ohio. She’s a bit disappointed, but not discouraged.
State Auditor Dave Yost has completed his audit of the state’s non profit job creation company, JobsOhio. The report comes after a long fight with state leaders and the legislature. It doesn’t contain any big problems but it doesn’t say everything has been handled correctly either.
“This has been a difficult audit. And you know, there was some arm wrestling along the way," says Yost.
When Ohio Supreme Court Justice Paul Pfeifer lamented the courts' seeming lack of jurisdiction over Republican Gov. John Kasich's privatized job-creation board last week, he joined a growing chorus of the frustrated.
State lawmakers created JobsOhio in 2011 in a bill containing sweeping exemptions from public records and ethics laws.
Defenders of the corporate-style setup say JobsOhio files a long list of reports, disclosures and business filings. But it isn't only Kasich's political opponents who have raised concern.