Friday, December 01, 2006

 

Sugarcoated failures

Apparently the some in the steno pool are going to let Bruce Johnson depart in honor, despite the near-consensus that Ohio economy is virtually directionless.
Johnson counts to his credit the attraction of more than 823 successful economic development projects that have generated nearly $10.6 billion in new investment in the state, retained 159,315 positions and created 64,235 jobs.
Taft also sings the high hosannas for Johnson's efforts:
"Lieutenant Governor Johnson played a pivotal role in transforming Ohio's economic development strategy and has effectively positioned the state to attract business investment in the future."
In fact, during his tenure, Ohio has sustained a net job lost of over 150,000 jobs including over 193,000 in manufacturing, has seen demands for food assitance rise by over 50%, and has earned itself and "F" for high education affordability (just to name a few metrics).

At least Johnson admits to what tune he was fiddling instead of doing his job:
"I'm proud of the many accomplishments we've made to improve Ohio's economy, including lawsuit and tax reform, which are making a tremendous positive impact on the state's business climate."
So, there you have it. Johnson's accomplishments for the last 5 years: less consumer protection and phoney tax reform. If we had another five years of this "positive impact" and some guy named Borat might be making a movie about us.

Good riddance, Bruce.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

 

More on Strickland/Fisher and economic development

It's obviously early in the process, so we are still looking for hopeful signs. We found some in a recent Ohio Public Radio interview in which the duo seem to hit issues of high interest to us:

Link to education? Check.

Link to health care? Check.

Pursue a unique strategy? Check.

Establish public accountablity method? Check.

And, here are a few particular tea leaves that Fisher left in his cup for observeers to pick through. Sure, some of its rhetoric, but actually some of phrasing he uses are more or less code words that are meant to signal to experts where they intend to go:
Every state has its own unique, natural strengths. We will inventory those strengths and invest in those strengths. And make Ohio first in areas where we can attract the best and brightest talent and the best and brightest companies and workers from around the world and the country.

. . .

You cannot separate out primary and second and higher education from economic development and growth. So obviously we have a strong interest in making sure that every child in Ohio graduates not just with a certificate of graduation but with a certificate of skills that helps them succeed in the global market place, and helps them get the best possible job, preferably in Ohio, where they can raise a family and live here for the rest of their lives.

. . .

Gov. Strickland and I talked about creating an economic growth scorecard by which we can measure our progress and you can measure our progress.
Again, we think there are a lot of reasons to be hopeful.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

 

Kilroy to play hardball with recount

Good for Mary Jo and her staff! Sounds like we'll have a lively fight to the end in OH-15, with the nation watching. From the Hannah Report (sub. req'd):
Facing a recount and 2,600 disputed provisional ballots, the campaign for Mary Jo Kilroy said Monday she was "ruling nothing out" in her ongoing battle for the 15th Congressional District.

That could include a possible court challenge, Campaign Manager Scott Kozar told Hannah News after the Franklin County Board of Elections named incumbent Republican Deborah Pryce the victor Monday morning.

. . .

Democrats said the electoral review was only just beginning. "It's basically election night at 2 a.m. - three weeks later. There's a lot to be resolved," said Kozar, pointing to thousands of ballots rejected in Democratic-leaning Franklin County. He said it was unclear how many registered voters were in the wrong precinct or otherwise disenfranchised. "That's all going to come in the coming days. There are probably a couple of categories, but we won't know until the recount is completed."

. . .

A number of questions around provisional voting have lain unresolved at the federal level since 2005, when Democrat John Kerry gave up on an election challenge in Ohio. Some states have elected to accept provisional ballots in the right county but the wrong precinct, while others have not. Ohio falls in the latter.

At the state level, the General Assembly has passed election reforms since the presidential election, though without Democratic support.

"It's the first time for a recount under HB3 (DeWine)," noted Kozar. "This is uncharted territory."

 

Fisher to oversee Ohio economic efforts

We think this is a good move on Strickland's part, and although it appears at first to just be a repeat of Taft's appointment of Bruce Johnson to head the DOD, it's not.

Johnson, for starters, never showed any particular finesse for economic development. Johnson' background was that he was a political insider who had worked as a corporate hired gun in one of the uber insider law firms, Chester Wilcox Saxbe. Johnson also worked as COS for former Columbus mayor Greg Lashutka (keep in mind that the high point of economic development under Lashustka was the opening of the now-deserted City Center Mall). Johnson, also served as a state senator on the Ways and Means committee.

But being a corporate lawyer, or a political staffer or a committee member tinkering with state taxes doesn't really help one understand anything about real economic development. As a matter of fact, we believe Johnson's background actually hurt him, and gave him a very narrow view of "what's wrong in Ohio."

Ideologically, Johnson was shackled with a trickle-down view of economics and a blind faith in the marketplace.

Worse, Johnson has absolutely no sense of economic strategy and in his world, unfortunately, that's great, because the marketplace will take care of that. All government has to do is prime the pump and urge the pigs to come drink at the trough.

Likewise, Johnson saw little value in developing broad relationships with stakeholders and partners. Little was done to bring together both business and labor groups. There was no outreach to the broad spectrum of economic think tanks around Ohio and the nation. And far too little was done to bring together and unleash the wealth of knowledge in Ohio's universities and academic institutions.

Thus, Johnson did little more than be the cheerleader for inane, silly initiatives like the Third Frontier, corporate tax overhauls, venture capital confabs and expensive "market Ohio" efforts.

And what did that get Ohio? Bupkus in regard to jobs. Unfortunately, Johnson's doofus approach also drove a lot of wedges between stakeholders.

As we have written in the past, Ohio's economic problems can't be solved with "better marketing" or "better access to investment capital" or "fewer taxes." Only simpletons, reporters and Republican ideologues buy into this crap.

Lee Fisher, on the other hand, is no slam dunk for success, but he gives us reason for optimism. Although a lot of people associate Fisher with being a legislator and attorney general, he has some decent management cred. Under his guidance, the Center for Families and Children had developed a reputation for results and well-run operations. Fisher also spent time on the Board of Directors of two publicly-traded companies, REX stores and OfficeMax.

Of course, running the AG's office is no easy task either. Skeptics may try to blow this off, but Fisher took the job seriously enough that he enrolled and partcipated in several senior management programs offered to executives at Harvard and the Weatherhead SoB at Case Western.

Fisher also seems to pride himself in being able to reach across broad spectrums of constiuencies to achieve specific goals.

Taxpayers clearly are demanding that something be done about Ohio's economic direction. This will be a tough job for even the best candidate, and we don't envy Fisher in this regard. The good news is that he can't really do any worse than his predecessors from the prior 16 years. But there are plenty of people in Ohio with some very, very good strategic concepts about economic development that can be tapped - if the political will is really there.

Monday, November 27, 2006

 

Oh yeah?

Picture 1

Perhaps "can't" was the best word for Deb's peeps to use in this situation, especially since the Dispatch - despite it's own silly reporting on the vote count - never was stupid enough to say it can't happen.

Now let's recall that the Dispatch's pseudo-analysis in fact did everything but guarantee that its endorsed candidate would be the winner:
If yet-to-be-counted votes follow patterns of those already tallied in the 15 th Congressional District, Democrat Mary Jo Kilroy would gain almost 1,800 votes districtwide on incumbent Deborah Pryce but still fall short.

. . .

There’s no reason to think that uncounted absentee ballots would favor either candidate in numbers greater than those already included in unofficial totals.

Scott Kozar, Kilroy’s campaign manager, said yesterday that provisional ballots will provide the Democrat’s hoped-for victory.

"When all those votes are counted, we’re going to swing it to victory," Kozar said.

DeStefano dismissed that as wishful thinking.

"Kilroy continues to play fast and loose with the facts, still claiming there is this gold mine of provisional (ballots) on campus when in fact there is not," he said.
In fact, as insiders can attest, the phrase, "There’s no reason to think that uncounted absentee ballots would favor either candidate in numbers greater than those already included in unofficial totals," was being thrown about verbatim by the Pryce camp before the Dispatch story was printed, and Nash, Haddix and Vitale should be embarassed for having been rope-a-doped on this matter.

Now, a Kilroy victory is clearly still a long shot. We think there is a lot of potential for a few more twists and turns in the vote count. Hope springs eternal, and all that . . .

But it's nice to know that several dozen sphincters at Pryce's HQ did the ole' squeesh-squish big time this morning.

 

Tom told to give it up

From the AP:
A judge today ordered a former GOP fundraiser convicted of embezzling from a state investment in rare coins to repay the state $13.7 million.

. . .

Also on Monday, Noe's former right-hand man pleaded guilty to tampering with records. Prosecutors agreed to drop a charge of engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity against Timothy LaPointe, who was once Noe's close friend.

 

More on the OH-15 recount

From the AP:
The official numbers are due at the secretary of state's office Tuesday, spokesman James Lee said. Once the state office verifies a recount is required, it would notify county election officials that they have 10 days to complete the recount. Lee said that notice could be sent Tuesday, which would mean the recount would have to be done by Dec. 8.

 

Recount triggered in Kilroy-Pryce race.

Fantastic, and, ahhhh, now things get interesting!

The AP reports that Pryce's lead has dropped to the level needed for an automatic recount:
The four-member Franklin County Board of Elections certified final vote totals that gave Pryce the victory in the 15th Congressional District over Democrat Mary Jo Kilroy by 1,054 votes, a net loss of 2,482 from Pryce's unofficial election-night count. The tighter margin is within the half-percent required to trigger an automatic recount, director Matthew Damschroder said.
Keep the faith!

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