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Developing Secrets

Other Editors Say...

Slipped into the Senate version of the two-year state budget is a provision that should outrage Ohioans– for its timing and substance.

The proposal would open the way for local governments to discuss behind closed doors the shape and detail of economic development projects.

That’s right: Decisionmaking about how to deploy public money, via such tools as tax incentives, would be shielded from public view.

The measure is brazen in that economic development has come to represent a core function of local governments, touching jobs, revenues and quality of life.

The argument has been made that the provision merely echoes the confidentiality allowed JobsOhio at the state level.

Actually, local governments would have more room to maneuver in secret– and at greater consequence.

Anyway, the cloak cast over the operations of JobsOhio hardly serves as an example worth emulating.

Many questions have surfaced quickly about the provision.

What, precisely, would be gained? Local governments already have too many avenues to executive sessions. Do they need another?

What about the role of the public, or those paying the salaries of public officials?

Where are the protections against the obvious, the likelihood of corruption following soon in the path of enactment?

Sounds like legislation conceived and advanced in a hurry?

There were no hearings on the proposal, let alone full debate.

State lawmakers long have been whittling away at openness and transparency in government.

Now Senate Republicans want local officials to shape economic development in secret.

What they lack is a good reason why.–Akron Beacon- Journal



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