Kudos to the Ohio Senate, which passed a bill Tuesday applying the same public records rules to the new JobsOhio program as its predecessor, the Ohio Department of Development, has. (Read the story, OH Senate adjusts new jobs agency’s records policy.)
And double the kudos should go to Attorney General Mike DeWine, who expressed the concern in the first place.
I’m not sure how I feel about Gov. John Kasich’s administration’s claim that there was nothing to worry about in the first place. That’s usually how rights start eroding, when we accept that laws will only be used for good.
Public records and economic development can be a messy business. Over the years, I’ve heard countless businessmen say that releasing any information about their project before they’re ready will kill the project. (Incidentally, I’ve never actually seen that happen. Bravado?)
The reality is if you’re working through the state, using taxpayers’ money to lure a company into the Buckeye State, the taxpayers have the right to know what’s been offered, accepted and why. How would you feel, for instance, if donors to a politicians’ campaign received better incentive offers than backers of their opponents? There’s simply no way to hold people accountable for their without access to this type of information.
Some business people will label public records laws as anti-business, which drives me crazy. Every business person is perfectly welcome to work within the confines of non-governmental business development, where the bulk of business is done anyway.
If you want the taxpayers to help you along, you should expect your new investors to at least want to know where their investments go.