Monday, January 10, 2011

Brother, can you spare a dime?

Every news cycle, it seems, brings us a story of another entity that is broke.

Late last week we learned that the Tuscarawas Community Improvement Corp. will run out of operating money as early as next month. If ever there were a need for the CIC, which has worked since 1963 to encourage economic development in Tuscarawas County, it is now.

Despite the negativity that seems to permeate the atmosphere around here, the county is poised to take advantage of emerging industries. The infrastructure -- the high tech park off University Dr. in New Philadelphia -- is in place. And an incubator will be built in the park in the near future.

This is not the time for the CIC to fade away. The county needs this private sector/public sector partnership to continue its work.

The CIC has asked for short-term financial help from the county commissioners, all of whom at one time or another underscored economic development as a major issue in their campaigns for office.

(OK, I have no citations for that statement, but tell me it's not true. I'd argue that "economic development" has been a campaign plank for every commissioner and mayoral candidate in the last 30 years.)

I would hope the commissioners come to the CIC's salvation in the short term. In the long term, I guess this county needs a philanthropist who believes in the CIC's role and mission and is willing to fund it well into the future.

* * *

Also broke, of course, is Twin City Hospital, which filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy last October. From what I'm hearing, there will be no forthcoming partnership with Union Hospital.

There was a hint of that fact in the paper last month. Union CEO Bruce James was asked if Tuscarawas County could support two hospitals.

“I don’t know that I have a good answer for that," he said. "I want to do what’s best for health care in Tuscarawas County.

“We can’t afford to have two unhealthy hospitals in the county.”

It's well-documented that the demographics of the Twin City area have not been kind to Twin City Hospital. A very small proportion of emergency room patients is actually admitted to the hospital, which means there is a very large proportion of emergency room cases that are not emergencies. And those kind of patients usually are not paying for services rendered.

And that's just one symptom of trouble.

Certainly a healthy, vibrant Twin City Hospital was a worthy goal for numerous well-meaning folks in the Uhrichsville-Dennison area. But it now appears that the operation of a full-service facility in that part of the county is unworkable in today's economic environment. So, don't look for a Union Hospital bailout. It's just not going to happen.

I look for the bankruptcy court to affirm that conclusion soon if it hasn't already.

* * *

I wanted to give Gov. John Kasich the benefit of the doubt, but his desire to bar the press from his swearing-in ceremony leaves me wondering.

Can this guy be trusted?

Certainly if I was advising him, I would have told him that trying to keep the press out of a swearing-in ceremony was a move that would have worked well in the cold war Soviet Union, but never in America. (Full disclosure: I electronically moved my resume to Kasich, but have heard nothing. Bummer.)

Kasich, as you probably know, relented on the swearing-in ceremony, which was moved to the statehouse and opened to the press. Still, it makes me curious about what else he'd like to keep under wraps and out of the public's view.

I suspect there will be plenty of closed-door meetings. Feel comfortable about that?

* * *
Let's play "You Be The Editor."

Last Friday, members of the Kasich administration celebrated at Cleveland's Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

In reporting the story -- written by a female -- the Plain Dealer offered us this little tidbit:

(Lt. Gov.-elect Mary) Taylor, 44, looking like a Hollywood star in black satin pants, a black leather jacket, low-cut black-and-white blouse and a pink and glittery silver necklace, said that she appreciated the people of Ohio.

When I read the passage, the editor in me cringed. Was this sexist? Was it necessary to the story? Should it be included in the story?

Further down in the story, we learn that Kasich wore an open-neck shirt, blue blazer and dark pants and that other attendees had worn fur coats and even tennis shoes.

If you were the editor, would you keep the Taylor description in the story, tone it down or abandon it altogether? I'll give my answer in an addendum after readers (hopefully) weigh in.

* * *

I feel the same way about the Arizona shootings that I did about the Virginia Tech massacre: We don't do a very good job of identifying dangerous people with mental health issues and then preventing them from owning and using firearms.

I don't blame Sarah Palin, conservatives, liberals or talk show hosts. (That's not to say we shouldn't civilize the debate.)

What is emerging about Jared Lee Loughner is that he is very mentally ill. And how do we protect ourselves against someone who is mentally ill and has access to guns and ammo?

It would make sense to remove him from the equation before he removes you. I can think of a few ways one could do that, but none of them are currently legal.

And I'm not sure any gun control legislation will totally protect the rest of us from the criminally insane. Somehow they'll find a way to carry out their demented acts of violence. It seems they always do.

No answers here. Only questions.


Anonymous said...

I support the CIC, they helped keep our Dover factory afloat in the 80's, I have to think that they saved our jobs. We are still here.

TCH - do we really need it or would it just be nice to have.

Kasich - the article that you cite might support why he did not want his private ceremony reported as who dressed how, ate what and could not dance,

just saying.

biggdbo said...

Not sure what the attire has to do with the story. Unless it's a fashion story, but that doesn't appear to be the case here.

I guess you could argue that it gives it "flavor" - or something. I wouldn't agree, but someone could argue that. Still, the "Hollywood star" part is too much opinion and too much fluff for a news story.

Quaker Maniac said...

The options before Tuscarawas County commissioners on this series of requests are limited, to say the least. Choosing to support the funding - even at reduced levels - will challenge an already struggling budget. To deny the requests in part or in whole will weaken the public-private CIC partnership to the point that it may have to close up operations.

If the commissioners choose to provide funding, they also must explain why and how the CIC is different and necessary compared to the other entities vested with economic development activities. The county budget already supports its own Economic Development office and staff, and provides health care benefits for the employees of the Tuscarawas County Port Authority.

The logical question then is: Could the county Economic Development Office or the Port Authority individually or in a partnership, take over the duties of the CIC, including marketing and management of the High Tech Park? If they can, the funding can be used for other projects and the CIC folks can become supporters of the other agencies.

Tough times call for tough choices.