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· March 12, 2013

Commentary: The Dispatch Embarrasses Itself (Again)

Ben Franklin famously said that only two things in life are certain: death and taxes.  Today, Ohioans can add a third certainty: that the Columbus Dispatch editorial page will always and forever see, hear and speak no evil of  John Kasich and whatever policies he happens to be pursuing at any given  moment. This week, Team Kasich is busily trying to stop Auditor of State Dave Yost from auditing the books of JobsOhio, Kasich’s private economic development corporation.  Never mind that watching over public money and making sure it’s spent correctly is Yost’s job description .  Never mind that it was the Dispatch’s  own reporters who uncovered the fact that JobsOhio somehow ended up with at least $5 million more in public money than the General Assembly authorized.  And never mind that Kasich’s attempt to stonewall Yost coincides, in what can only be described as a masterstroke of timing, with “Sunshine Week” — the week each year when Ohio newspapers laud, celebrate and cite the need for government transparency and open public records. What Kasich wants, Kasich gets.  At least from the Dispatch editorial page.  Elsewhere in Ohio, however, editors at newspapers as ideologically diverse as The Cleveland Plain Dealer, The Toledo Blade, The Canton Repository, The Akron Beacon Journal and The Youngstown Vindicator  are rising up and speaking out against Kasich’s attempt to shield JobsOhio from scrutiny. “Jobs Ohio must open its books” says the Plain Dealer.  “What is (JobsOhio) trying to hide?”  asks the Vindicator“We’ve had concerns from the beginning about secrecy that would cut the public out of the loop and make it impossible to judge the effectiveness of JobsOhio”, laments the Repository. And the Dispatch?  On Monday, the paper ran its obligatory “Sunshine Week” editorial praising “open records” and criticizing “secrecy.” They even quoted legendary journalist Bob Woodward’s dictum that “democracies die in darkness.” Yet for all its boilerplate blather about “sunshine”, the editorial somehow managed to avoid a single, solitary reference to the JobsOhio situation that is unfolding directly in front of the editors’ collective nose. But hey, transparency is one thing.  Politics — and furthering the Kasich agenda — is quite another. By ignoring the obvious, uh, elephant in the room, the Dispatch  editorial page  demonstrates once again that it long ago relinquished any pretense it may have once had to act as a public watchdog.  It now prefers — lo, revels — in a different role:  that of Kasich administration lapdog.

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