Ed FitzGerald vowed Monday to pursue more transparency at JobsOhio if elected governor next year. But the Cuyahoga County executive and likely Democratic challenger to Gov. John Kasich acknowledged it would be tough to eliminate an institution written into Ohio law by a Republican-controlled General Assembly.
Even if FitzGerald wins, that GOP majority in the legislature is unlikely to evaporate.
“At this point in time, it’s what we have,” FitzGerald said of the privatized economic development agency during a news conference here at Ohio Democratic Party headquarters. “I don’t know if we would be successful overturning it.”
Kasich has pushed for JobsOhio to be exempt from state audits and open-records laws, asserting that the state’s job-creation efforts must move at the speed of business. FitzGerald and other Democrats have hammered away at the organization, though,characterizing it as a secretive, scandal-prone organization that benefits Kasich backers. They also contend that the agency is failing to measurably improve the state’s economy.
JobsOhio Chairman James Boland chalked up the agency’s challenges to public misperception in a recent interview with the Columbus Dispatch. “Do we have a problem? You’re damn right we do, because the people who are writing about us don’t know what the hell they’re talking about, and we’ve got to educate them,” Boland told the paper.
FitzGerald scoffed at that opinion Monday.
“I don’t think the problem is a PR problem,” he said.
Among other policy goals, FitzGerald said he would seek to reinstate the state auditor’s authority to fully review JobsOhio’s financial records. He also wants JobsOhio to adhere to the same “sunshine law” requirements that other state agencies must follow and to disclose completed agreements on a publicly accessible database.