As we reported on Friday, Kasich finally gave up the fight to keep Mark Kvamme on as head of the Department of Development. Kvamme, a venture capitalist from California, is constitutionally forbidden from serving in this position because his is not an Ohio resident. He will be replaced with James Leftwich from the Dayton Development Coalition (DDC).

The announcement of Kvamme’s departure initially seemed like good news. But the more I find out about Leftwich and his time at the DDC, the more this appointment scares the crap out of me.

While Kvamme and Kasich were still dreaming about their JobsOhio plan, trying to figure out how they could give tons of public money to a private development organization with almost no oversight, James Leftwich was living the dream at the Dayton Development Coalition.

Much like Kasich’s JobsOhio, the DDC is a private organization that receives millions in public funding and hands out secret bonuses to its already well-paid employees.

As David Esrati pointed out in December:

While every single community has been asking employees for concessions, laying off staff, not filling positions and cutting budgets- the Dayton Development Coalition continues to behave like Wall Street bankers- drinking champagne and eating caviar while being handed our tax dollars. They are going to give themselves raises of 5% to 24% on their already overly inflated salaries.

While the DDC refuses to release the bonus amounts received by its employees (obviously!), the Dayton Daily News did report that Leftwich received $257,000 in base salary last year and we know that bonuses for senior staff often hit 24% – which would push Leftwich’s total compensation to nearly $320,000!

The other interesting fact about Leftwich: he was running the show at the DDC in 2009 when the NCR corporation left Dayton and moved to Atlanta.

I bring this up because John Kasich absolutely loves to talk about the NCR move. It was one of his big campaign talking points: Ted Strickland let NCR take 1,300 Ohio jobs to Georgia. Kasich mentioned it again in his State of the State speech. And it’s one of the primary examples Kasich uses when he explains why we need to take all of our development money and our liquor profits and send them to JobsOhio.

It’s very hard to seriously blame NCR’s move on Governor Strickland, who was busy leading the state through the worst economic crisis since the great depression at the time. Leftwich and the DCC, on the other hand, were supposed to be focused on economic development in the Dayton area. If it was anyone’s job to keep NCR from leaving Ohio, it was Leftwich’s. He only had one job. And he was paid twice the Governor’s salary to do it. And he still failed.

The DDC and Leftwich proved a long time ago that they weren’t capable of keeping a company like NCR from leaving the state, and yet Kasich has based his entire development strategy on the same model the DDC uses and hired the guy who was most responsible for the NCR loss to a new job where not losing NCR seems to be the only job requirement.

And here’s the other thing about the DDC: due to their lack of oversight, they has been involved in a number of pay and spending scandals, the biggest one involving the DDC paying hundred of thousands of dollers to the Turner Effect, a company run by Rep. Mike Turner’s wife, based on a no-bid contract. Conflict of interest here should seem obvious:The DDC directly lobbies Congress for federal funds and they have figured out a way to funnel tons of cash to the wife of a congressman.

Rep. Mike Turner, by the way, was named one of the top 20 most corrupt members of congress in part because of this scandal.

Kasich claims we don’t need more oversight of JobsOhio even though groups like the DDC serve as proof that limited oversight regularly results in financial scandals.

Kasich claims we need JobsOhio so we can prevent companies like NCR from leaving the state, and then he hires the Dayton Development Coalition’s James Leftwich completely ignoring the fact that Leftwich and the DDC already proved themselves unable to keep NCR from leaving.

The absurdity of the situation would actually be pretty funny if it wasn’t so disastrously sad.

  • clambake

    Wow. That’s pretty damning. This info needs to be on the front page of the Dispatch, but I’m not holding my breath after that interview with Kvamme. What a bunch of softballs thrown his way.

  • Victoria

    I assumed he may hire someone we would not like–he is not going to hire someone we like of course. But someone who actually lives here will be held accountable more easily than the hit and run venture capitalist, Kvamme. Leftwich will have signature authority in the agency and we will be able to obtain info about him as he tries to destroy the agency. We know how much he is being paid and no legal bonuses can come to an agency head.
    I lived in Dayton for awhile, and there is no company that has ever been loved the way Daytonites loved NCR. If Leftwich is actually from Dayton, and not some fly by night guy like Kvamme, he would not have sent them away or failed to try to keep them. However, it is my understanding the NCR left for one reason–so the CEO could be closer to trendier areas where he likes to hang out. The board of NCR made him promise to move to Dayton, he lied then they let him move the company. No one could stop it. (I wish Ted would have done better damage control on that)
    Sounds like the Bob E. scenario though so I could be wrong.
    The Kvamme lawsuit was about Kasich violating the constitution, and as you noted in the story, the first thing Kasich did as governor was unconstitutional and he was caught. I found and it you guys let people know it was happening in a broader way than I can. This is only part of a long war. But we won the first skirmish. But it is a victory that he cannot take away.

  • The DDN isn’t known for its accuracy- the DDC claim that the number they pulled is total compensation (still high considering our County Administrator, with a huge budget and thousands of employees makes under $200K).
    The DDC’s previous director, J.P. Nauseef made close to $400K or slightly over. He got the push out over the Turner thing- but, hasn’t had to suffer since- being lionized and proselytized as the second coming receiving awards and being taken care of.
    Turner’s wife finally bailed on her company- which even had a GSA schedule and did work for the Army Corps of Engineers while her hubby sat on the House Appropriations Committee and the Defense appropriations committee. She even did work for the Home Depot PAC out of Atlanta- from Dayton:
    She’s now firmly in bed with the Kettering Health Network- who are major donors to the politician du jour. They were having Medicaid problems- what better way to get the Feds off your back than to hire a congressman’s wife.
    The real crime with NCR is that Bill Nuti still has a job. He’s pillaged the company- while lining his pockets with tax dollars-
    Including a million and a half from the tax payers in NY to move corporate offices there- before the deal to go to GA.
    Thanks for using me as a source. I typically beat the DDN by a long shot.
    The real story of failure by the DDC comes as a case study- Qbase.
    But, having 17 employees all donate $1000 to Congressman Austria the same week- took the DDN a year and a half to cover- and brought the FBI to my door….
    keep up the good work.

  • Ohiojerry

    Crooks like Geese ….. They all flock together and make a mess everywhere they go!!!!

  • Thanks David. You had so much great material on your site that I found it difficult to keep my post focused on the topic.

  • ThatDeborahGirl

    DDC sounds like the same thing we have here called the Cincinnati Center City Development Corporation (3CDC). They are the corporate arm of Cincinnati and it seems the goal of our city is to sell the entire city to them, one piece at a time. Of course they always say 3CDC just oversees the “management” functions of whatever we’ve sold them from Fountain Square to the latest scheme to sell them the Cincinnati Water Works while we “lease” it back. Sound familiar?

    And it never ceases to amaze me how anyone sitting on a board of their latest “project” is always a who’s who of CEO’s and relatives of rich folks from old Cincinnati families with money who’s name’s are on streets or buildings.

    It seems city by city, state by state, Republicans are not going to be happy until the entire country is run like a corporation by corporations with nothing belonging to the public at all. I suppose there can be no freedom if everything is privately owned.

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