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Tales from a small town

Short stories about life in a small town. Non-fiction. Great reading.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

The editorial

Below is the e-mail I sent to the editorial editor of our local paper, which contains an editorial that I think will really stir the pot with all the rich folks in town. Some of them will love it, others will hate it, but if our paper publishes this editorial, it'll be the talk of the town!
In blue text is the e-mail to the editorial editor which contains the editorial in black:

The guy I work beside is an 'ol hillbilly from Kentucky. I've been telling him about how the CDF works; how they're intertwined with Putnam County's CIC - and the lawsuit going on between the CIC and the Putnam County Commissioners, and finally, I told him about my source who's telling me that Cooper Tire will release a bunch of stories about how they're losing money hand-over-fist as a justification for their upcoming announcement (according to my source) that they're going to shut down the Findlay Division. According to my source, the announcement will come sometime at the end of the first quarter or the beginning of the second quarter, 2006. I've never used this source before because I've never had occasion to, but I find it uncanny that so many articles about Cooper have been appearing in the paper lately.

The guy I work beside told me, that I should spice up the gravy. He said, "The gravy is the truth that's not being told: the spice is the truth." In my opinion, the truth that's not being told, is the way the CDF has been so smug about who they'll let in, and who they won't. The time is running short for me to consider little games like that to be cute. In black, is my editorial about North Baltimore's proposed economic development organization. This is one hot tamale!

Regarding the recent article in the Courier about the city of North Baltimore kicking around the idea of creating an economic development organization. Wait: before you stop reading this because you think economic development is a boring subject, please stop to consider that if you’re a blue-collar worker or a small business owner, how well your area’s economic development agency does their job, will affect your quality of life just as much as your credit rating.

You see, there’s a little secret that people who run economic development agencies don’t want the general public to know: as long as they get 51% of their annual budget from membership dues (private sources) they’re not subject to sunshine laws. That means they can receive their annual grants from the Ohio Department of Development, not to mention generous annual support from county and city funding – all sources of our tax dollars – and they don’t have to tell anybody about anything they do - or don’t do. That means they’re under no obligation to tell anyone which companies have approached them about locating here, or why those companies were turned away.

Economic development agencies who get 51% of their funding from member dues, are very picky about who they allow in their territory; and the reasoning behind who they turn away – and why - represents the best interests of their dues-paying members: not our interests. They have the ability to turn prospective companies away, because they decide who pays local real estate taxes, and who doesn’t. It doesn’t seem right, but that’s how it is, whether we like it or not.

If the city of North Baltimore forms an economic development agency, the Ohio Department of Development will be obligated to tell them which companies are thinking about locating in their area. If North Baltimore’s economic development agency gets 51% of their annual budget from taxpayer sources, they’ll be subject to sunshine laws, which means they’ll be obligated to tell us who is thinking about locating there. Let’s hope that’s the case, so the veil of secrecy can be finally lifted.