Tuesday, September 16, 2008


A question that every Stark Countian ought to have on his or her mind?

What are taxpaying Stark Countians, Cantonians, North Cantonians, Massillonians and Allianceites getting for their economic development money?

Yesterday, the Alliance Review ran an outstanding AP wire piece which critiques how government accounts for our tax dollars in the area of economic development.

When the STARK COUNTY POLITICAL REPORT (The Report) visited with Democrat Mayor Francis Cicchinelli a few months ago, he decried the absolute need to ante up taxpayer money as a precondition to even begin discussions with companies about expanding in or relocating to Massillon. Cicchinelli doesn't like this reality, but a reality it is. Being kind, one would call this an "entitlement attitude," but to be brutally honest about this corporate economic development reality would be to term it: "we have you over a barrel and we are going to put the screws to you - grin and bear it."

A couple of days ago, The Report e-mailed Commissioner Todd Bosley an asked him whether or not Stark County could account better than Ohio does. No answer as of the writing of this piece. But The Report will be patient, with the storm and all.

The Report turns attention to Ohio House 50th District candidate Republican Todd Snitchler on this "reality." Here's a guy who has unbridled faith in the goodness of corporations and their "PR organizations" to wit: Stark County's local chambers of commerce and, of course, the Ohio Chamber of Commerce.

As far as The Report is concerned, Snitchler's fascination with the chambers has more to do with his deficient ability to think of new approaches to get at solving severe Stark County and Ohio economic problems than anything else. The chamber of commerce thing is a cover for his inadequacies to think outside-the-box. He is so utterly unoriginal in thought that he needs the chambers to have any economic program whatsoever, notwithstanding Ohioans' clear understanding that the Ohio Chamber of Commerce has been and continues to be a failed key player in solving Ohio's economic problems.

By his own account, his own Lake Development Foundation is floundering. How's that? Snitchler says on a video published by The Report (prior article) that the foundation has no money.

With ties like his, it is not likely that Stark Countians can count on him to push for greater accountability in the slipshod relationship between government and the corporate world on the matter of economic development.

Snitchler's only consolation in his race is that his opponent, Democrat Celeste DeHoff, is even more anemic on this front. All she has to do, if elected, will be to call on former state representative Johnnie A. Maier, Jr., (now clerk of courts in Massillon and chair of the Stark County Democratic Party and her chief sponsor) for direction. We all remember what a "giant of a legislator" he was in the Ohio House, don't we?

There is a growing citizen suspicion that taxpayers are getting worked over by companies who are working a system they invented and who are insulated from public scrutiny by bumbling government officials or those who are in the hip pocket of corporate interests.

We have "No Child Left Behind" to document achievement/non-achievement as a check on educators. But what to we have to measure how state and local governments are "investing" taxpayer dollars and whether or not recipient companies are producing according to their promises.

Ohio, for its part, in The Review piece admits that it has no way to tell whether or not the 200, 000 promised jobs over the past 10 years have materialized for the $1.7 billion in tax breaks, et cetera.

How about this for a laugh (to the lament of the taxpaying public)? Ohio is going after Skybus which is in Chapter 11 bankruptcy. What genius in the Ohio Department of Development (Lee Fisher?) helped this company with taxpayer money? A company which was offering $10 fares (a terrific business model). Gee, maybe it would have been prudent to require the company to post a bond with the state of Ohio?

All Ohio has is a fragmented, case-by-case, way to track. And currently, it is obvious that the fragmentation reduces to some Department of Development bureaucrat scrambling to come up with a scintilla of data to satisfy an inquiring newspaper reporter for the moment.

And remember, in January, 2006 Governor Strickland, in his Inaugural address, promised government accountability as well as personal accountability. Now, according to the AP report, in the light of big deficits that Ohio is currently running - there's a question: Is there money for devising a tracking system that will provide the promised accountability.

Returning, for a moment, to Todd Snitchler and his chamber friends. Next we will hear how requiring corporate accountability and requiring them to return taxpayer money for promises unkept will hurt Ohio's and Stark County's ability to compete.

The question: (Republican or Democrat) Will Ohioans, Stark Countians, Cantonians, North Cantonians, Massillonians, and Allianceites ever get accountability from our government executives? From beneficiary-corporate executives?

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