Sunday, June 9, 2013

Ohio Senate suppresses open government

Contact your State Representatives and urge them to reject this amendment

Imagine another sweetheart deal for Mahogany's, the Empire Theatre, DiStasi's, or anything that involves spending large amounts of taxpayer money to subsidize the private business of a politically-connected individual.  Now imagine that you, the taxpayer, will not even know about it until after the final decision has been made.

Thanks to the Ohio Senate, this is one step closer from happening across Ohio.  The Senate added this provision to the state budget at the last minute.  It received no hearing or review. 
The language would permit public bodies to meet in executive session to discuss seemingly every matter involving economic development projects and government tax breaks and incentives designed to land jobs.
While the secretive spying from Obama's NSA takes the honors for this week's Wall of Shame, the Ohio Senate earned a highly Dishonorable Mention on their own.  This provision, if it stands, would allow governments to conduct important public business behind closed doors - the kind of business that is highly subject to abuse. 

As former Cincinnati Mayor Charlie Luken said:  You could drive a semi through this 'exception'.  Very very bad for the public's right to know.  Just the kind of thing that should be 'open'.  Exactly.  This is especially true as more and more government expenditures are touted as "economic development".  The stadiums, Freedom Center, and streetcar, for example, were touted as "economic development projects" when lobbying for taxpayer subsidies.  Should government funding for projects like these be decided in secret?

The Ohio Senate did a major disservice to Ohioans.  Fortunately for us, it is far from becoming Ohio law and we need to stop it.  The Ohio House now takes up the budget.  Please contact your Ohio State Representatives and urge them to reject this dangerous and reckless amendment.  Please also contact your Senators to let them know you disapprove of their action, and that you want this amendment left out of any further budget action.  Your right to be involved in your government is too important to let this slide. 

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