Monday, June 24, 2013


Revised and Updated at 08:51 AM.

On May 29, 2013 Republican state Rep. Christina Hagan (Marlboro Township) voted for SB 67.

SB 67 was rushed through passage in the Ohio House on the 29th and on the 30th in order to insulate Jobs Ohio (which uses public money in the context of being private entity to do economic development for the state of Ohio) from audit by the State of Ohio Auditor (Republican David Yost).

On June 21st she was writing a press release touting how much she was for "open government" witness, not her effort, but that by the Joint Committee on Agency Rule Review (JCARR) to put up a website to allow Ohioans to track rules implemented in the way of fleshing out Ohio General Assembly (OGA) passed legislation.

To demonstrate how skilled she has become at being disingenuous in her short time in Columbus, she in the press release on the 21st (LINK) did a tortured equivalency between JCARR's website initiative and one of two bills she has offered this legislative year, namely HB 10.

HB 10 has to do with local government fiscal accountability.  Not quite the definition of open government, no?  Moreover, it appears that the bill is going nowhere on a fast track witness this status report on the Ohio House's website (LINK).

While in an overall sense the SCPR does not believe that Hagan is supportive of opening up government to public access, she does deserve some credit for co-sponsoring with state Rep. Mike Duffey (R - Worthington) an OhioData Initiative measure in the currently being negotiated (between the House and Senate in conference committee) state budget bill whereby $3.5 million in grants would be made available for local governments (cities, villages and townships) at $10,000 per grant to come up with online ways and means for the general public to access local databases so that the public can know more about the operations of local government units.

According to Jim Siegel (Columbus Dispatch, April 29, 2013 re:  Easy access to local government access sought), the program has:
... the goal of one day having all local governments posting their public data online in a uniform, digestible and easily accessible format.
However, there several criticisms of the bill.

One being that the bill to be an effective lure to local governments needs to be funded at a much higher level to cover the approximately 2,300 local government units which exist in Ohio.  Originally, the proposal was for $25 million.  However, it has been watered down to $3.5 and therefore is more resemblent of tokenism rather than a "real" effort to data out to the consuming public.

Another is that the legislation is "permissive," meaning that it is an option on the part of local governments as to whether or not to participate.

Yet another is that it appears that informing the general public better about the ins and outs of local government is not the primary goal of the legislation.

Rather, it appears, to be primarily about providing a treasurer trove of information to enterprising individuals and companies to convert "paid for by the taxpayer" public information into a profit-making activity.

What should happen is that the state should flat-out allocate $10,000 to each and every Ohio local government (perhaps, with a qualifier in terms of population base) and "require" each and every unit to submit a plan to the state whereby taxpayers and citizens have better access to information about their local governments.

In sum, the SCRP sees the Duffey/Hagan proposal to be mostly "window dressing" which is line with the growing perception that the Statehouse Republicans are more interesting in concealing information than making it readily available.

A couple of days ago The Cleveland Plain Dealer (Robert Higgs - Changes pending in the General Assembly could reduce Ohioans' access to public records, meetings of public bodies) did an excellent summary of the assault on openness in government which is currently in process of being put together by the Republican caucuses of the House and Senate.

Higgs offers this statement
One open government advocate estimates that lawmakers have proposed at least 10 measures that would affect Ohioans’ ability to keep watch on their government.
It is likely that most if not all of the Republican legislators put out similar releases inasmuch as they have to be feeling the heat being put on by media across Ohio to back off the assault on America's/Ohio's democratic/republican form of government.

Some of the ten bills which have either passed or pending include (according to the PD report):

  • A bill that would close the doors at meetings to discuss complaints of misconduct by fiscal officers, from county auditors and treasurers down to those for schools, towns and townships.   ...
    • The bill would not only exempt the meetings from the state’s open meetings law, but also seal records from the meetings unless specifically made public by the Ohio attorney general.
  • A bill that would allow public bodies to privately discuss applications for certain public economic development assistance for businesses. ...
  •  A bill that would repeal part of Ohio’s concealed carry law that allows journalists to review records on issuance, renewal, suspension and revocation of state permits to carry a concealed weapon.
  • [A bill that] deal[s] with school security plans that secretly designate which employees may carry concealed handguns in school safety zones.
  • [A bill] blocking online access to some information about auto accidents that involve minors, and 
  • [A bill which institutes] prohibition on acknowledging when a person under age 21 is confined in an adult detention facility.
The media and everyday citizens should be blitzing the Legislature with protests and opposition to the emerging pattern of anti-open-government legislation that is pervading the Ohio General Assembly.

And, Ms. Hagan, in the name of probity and telling the who story needs to be addressing her caucuses' formulation and championing of more and more secret government.

Being the Republican loyalist she is, for those votes which have not occurred SCPR readers can be sure that she will be among the "ayes" have it!

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