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Leader Heard bummed over plant closure in her district

Ike Mgbatogu | 8/10/2013, noon
“It is unacceptable that Gov. Kasich’s economic development agency would recommend a deal that resulted in job poaching from one ...
Rep Tracy Maxwell Heard

COLUMBUS – Trying to get an explanation for anything from a sitting governor, especially if it is being sought by the leader of the opposition party often seems more like a fool’s errand than anything else.

It is really a boondoggle if the explanation being sought is a camouflaged criticism laced in partisanship involving a policy that the governor embraces as the bedrock of his economic agenda.

But that’s precisely what Ohio House Democratic Leader Tracy Maxwell Heard is expecting that Governor John Kasich do, that is, explain why his brainchild 'JobsOhio' recently approved a deal she said doomed a plant in her district, resulting in the loss of jobs for her constituents.

So far, as expected, it's been crickets from the governor. That deal, said Heard, led to the closure of TimberTech’s plant located in the South Side of Columbus.

Needless to say, she is fit to be tied about it.

“It is unacceptable that Gov. Kasich’s economic development agency would recommend a deal that resulted in job poaching from one Ohio community to another. The hard working men and women in my district who will lose their jobs because of this back-room deal deserve an explanation. I fear, however, that the dark cloud of secrecy surrounding JobsOhio will prevent the type of accountability that these hard working central Ohioans deserve,” said Heard.

That JobsOhio panophobia, in the eyes of Democrats, epitomizes everything that's wrong with JobsOhio. Apparently realizing that Kasich is more likely to ignore her broadside than offer the explanation she is seeking, a miffed Heard, for what it's worth, sought succor for her constituents from the higher power.

“My thoughts and prayers are with my constituents and their families who will lose jobs as a result of this deal.”

But for Kasich, who is constantly pushing back against what he sees as his opponents endless partisan caterwaul, and has been engaged in a full arm brawl with Democratic lawmakers on this matter ever since he launched the initiative soon after he took office in 2011, creating jobs is the basis for everything he does with JobsOhio. Yet, Heard and her colleagues disagree, maintaining that the entity's operation, for one thing, lacks transparency and accountability. That line of attack is sure to feature heavily in the upcoming gubernatorial contest between Kasich and challenger Ed Fitzgerald, Cuyahoga County Executive.

JobsOhio is the controversial economic development cabal established by Kasich to foster a jobs-friendly climate, lure companies to Ohio and create jobs for the unemployed. The governor pushed for it after decrying the waned effectiveness of a flaccid Ohio Department of Development, where the role of job creation resided before. He called the agency stale, torpid and woefully not up to the job of creating jobs in Ohio. He has pushed JobsOhio as his “top priority,” praising it as a catalyst for economic growth and as the linchpin of his remedies for Ohio’s deepening job woes.

But Democrats have rabidly disagreed with Kasich’s JobsOhio plan, fighting him each step of the way and ending up fanning the flame of hostility towards his administration.

Mgbatogu is a freelance writer and editor of Onumba.com based in Columbus. He can be reached by email at: Onumbamedia@yahoo.com