During the campaign, John Kasich heavily criticized Ted Strickland for having an interim director at the Ohio Department of Development before making her the permanent director.

image PolitiFact called this statement from Kasich “False” because it implied that there was no leadership in the office during that time when for the most part it was run by the same person.  But Kasich continued to use the line of attack, saying that the failure of the Strickland Administration in having steady leadership in the agency was a reason for Ohio’s economic problems during the Great Recession.

So, how has Kasich fared in his first six months with the agency?

Well, his first pick was Mark Kvamme, who had to withdraw because… well, he was constitutionally ineligible to hold the Cabinet post.

In mid-March, Kasich announced that Kvamme was being removed, but swore it had absolutely nothing to do with the fact that Kvamme was an unconstitutional pick, we understand that then Assistant Director Kristi Tanner was serving as the de facto director signing documents for the agency so its actions couldn’t be challenged by Kvamme’s incapacity to serve the office in which Kasich appointed him. The Administration then announced that it was appointing James Leftwich to serve as the Director of Development:

“The silver lining is that Ohio now gets the benefit of Jim Leftwich, whose organization and his leadership of it have been hugely successful in the Dayton area. While Assistant Director of Development Kristi Tanner continues leading my efforts to rationalize the Department and focus on the transition to JobsOhio, Jim will continue his economic development work but now at a statewide level. His willingness to step up and lead the Department of Development, and partner with Mark and Kristi in shaping Ohio’s future job growth strategies, is a big boost that I believe will continue to produce strong results.”—Gov. John Kasich (March 18, 2011 Press Release.)

Leftwich officially began serving as Director on March 28th.  

106 days later. . .


Kasich’s “big boost” is leaving with virtually no noteworthy achievements during his brief tenure. (Formalities of titles aside, shouldn’t a person that just served less than four months on the job before announcing they were leaving be considered an “interim” person?)  His achievements include the issuing of 43 press releases,  six of which were issued on his first day on the job.  One of his latest releases was announcing 330 jobs that Isofoton, a Spanish-based solar panel manufacturer, was creating in Ohio as part of its commitment to build its North American manufacturing center in Ohio (an economic development project that began under the Strickland Administration and was, in part, due to Strickland’s renewable energy portfolio mandate that Kasich so often derided on the campaign trail.)

Of course, Ms. Schmenk is also just really an interim person, too:

The legislation creating JobsOhio requires the Administration to issue a proposal by mid-August that outlines the future organization of the Department. Schmenk will oversee the drafting of that proposal and play a leadership role in its implementation going forward.

In other words, her job is to draft the legislation that is supposed to be issued next month that… essentially eliminates her job she is assuming that month.  She’s held the title of Chief Legal Counsel from the agency since… March 2011. 

Where will the duties of economic development go?  Well, going back to the March Dispatch story:

Scott Millburn, Kasich’s communications director, said the yet-to-be-appointed board of directors for JobsOhio would select its chief officer. When JobsOhio is up and running, the state will no longer have a development director position.

On Monday, the Governor announced his appointments to JobsOhio’s board (which, again, is subject to no legislative approval.)  During that announcement, Kasich was asked about Leftwich:

Asked if Leftwich still would play a role in job creation efforts, Kasich said: “He absolutely will. He’ll be there at this department. We’re just working through everything.”

24 hours later, Kasich was announcing Leftwich’s departure from the Administration entirely after serving a little over three months, which in Leftwich’s defense, is the current record for the chief economic development post in this Administration.

Anyway, back to the JobsOhio board, what was their first order of business, again?  That’s right, naming a chief officer to assume the responsibilities that the Director of the Ohio Department of Development has. 

They did name a chief officer at their first meeting…. Mark Kvamme was named Chief Investment Officer (CIO).  Actually, let me correct that.  He was named Interim Chief Investment Officer for JobsOhio.

Over seven months into his term, an Ohio will technically be on its FIFTH individual to be chiefly responsible for economic development of this State.  And it’s going to be the same guy who wasn’t constitutionally qualified for the job at the Ohio Department of Development… and he holds an Interim title.

Ted Strickland only had three Directors at the Ohio Department of Development over his entire term.   Kasich attacked him for letting someone hold the title as Acting Director for seven months before making her the full Director.  Yet, John Kasich has yet to go seven months with the same person having the job and will be on his FIFTH person come his seventh month in office.

What would Candidate Kasich say about such an Ohio Governor as Kasich has turned out to be?


That’s right.

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