Feb. 19, 2024: This week’s editorials from Ohio newspapers


By The Associated Press

Toledo Blade. February 17, 2024.

Editorial: Gov.’s integrity suspect

Since winning his first election as Clark County prosecutor in 1976 Gov. Mike DeWine has held Ohio political office nearly continuously.

But he still has a lot to learn according to the revelations in the 50-page indictment released Monday by the Organized Crime Investigations Commission.

The task force probing for state law violations in connection to the FirstEnergy Bribery case that has already produced federal convictions of Former House Speaker Larry Householder and Former Ohio Republican Party Chairman Matt Borges, brought multiple felony charges against former FirstEnergy CEO Charles Jones, Lobbyist Michael Dowling, and former Public Utilities of Ohio Chairman Sam Randazzo.

Governor DeWine’s naivete, or worse, is revealed by the support for Mr. Randazzo as PUCO chairman by FirstEnergy. Mr. Randazzo’s utility regulation experience was as a lawyer representing the Industrial Electricity Users of Ohio. Mr. Randazzo was hired by the largest Ohio manufacturers to represent them in negotiating against FirstEnergy. Advocacy for a Randazzo appointment by the utility he was opposing should have been highly suspicious to the long-experienced governor.

The state charges track what FirstEnergy has admitted to in a federal plea deal. Mr. Randazzo collected more than $22 million from FirstEnergy for colluding with the utility against the interests of his large manufacturing clients. Anyone smart enough to be governor should realize if Mr. Randazzo was serving his clients well he would have been the last man FirstEnergy wanted as PUCO Chairman. An email from First Energy CEO Jones to Mr. Randazzo on the morning after his dinner meeting with Mr. DeWine and Lt. Gov. Jon Husted is unintentionally funny.

“When the Gov. Elect asked me about attributes I listed integrity,” the alleged briber said about the alleged recipient of the bribes.

If everyone is telling the truth the indictment reveals a heaping helping of incompetence behind the bribery conspiracy’s success. Mr. Randazzo told DeWine administration Chief of Staff Laurel Dawson that he had been paid $4.3 million by FirstEnergy as the final payment of a consulting contract. That payment was admitted to as a bribe to help FirstEnergy from his position at the PUCO in the utility’s federal plea deal.

It is a monumental failure by Ms. Dawson not to have told Mr. DeWine. She also claims to have kept a 198-page document from the governor detailing undisclosed financial ties between FirstEnergy and Mr. Randazzo prepared by Columbus attorney J.B. Hadden.


Youngstown Vindicator. February 18, 2024.

Editorial: End stalemate, approve HB2 for the Valley

Bring home the bacon.

We often hear that call to action when constituents are asked what they want most from their federal and state lawmakers. They want real dollars for real quality-of-life improvement projects in their own back yards.

Thanks to bipartisan action in the Ohio House earlier this month, state representatives have answered that call.

House Bill 2, sponsored by state Reps. Al Cutrona, R-Canfield, and Terrence Upchurch, D-Cleveland, sets aside a pot of $350 million for economic growth and community development throughout the Buckeye State. Its aptly named One-Time Strategic Community Investments Fund consists of unused millions the state has accumulated from federal COVID-19 funding and money Ohio didn’t spend from its general revenue fund because of the pandemic.

Thanks to the concerted efforts of the Mahoning Valley’s state House delegation, this measure — unlike many other capital spending plans in Ohio — does not treat our region like the state’s awkward red-headed stepchild.

Yes, the 3-C Corridor (Cleveland, Columbus, Cincinnati) does get more than its fair share of the pie, but the Valley for once does get a sizeable and appetizing slice.

Among the many noteworthy targets for funding in Trumbull County are:

• $500,000 for renovations to Eastwood Field in Niles.

• $350,000 to construct a community outdoor pavilion in downtown Cortland, which will host the Cortland Street Fair and food truck event.

• $345,000 for a Bloomfield regional emergency medical services building to serve northwest Trumbull County.

• $330,350 to protect the water quality at Mosquito Lake State Park.

• $250,000 to improve the Trumbull County Fair’s grandstand by replacing windows, repairing concrete and upgrading lighting.

Clearly, these funds would be transformational for the recipients, many of whom would spend months if not years trying to raise sufficient capital to carry their projects to the finish line.

Yet like most worthy initiatives emanating from our state capital, politics again rears its ugly head. In the House, for example, 19 nay votes came from Republicans still angry over last year’s election of Rep. Jason Stephens, R-Kitts Hill, as House speaker. They complained that those who voted against Stephens were left out in the cold with paltry scraps from the $350 million feast.

Now, as the bill has moved to the state Senate for final passage, the petty gamesmanship continues. Senate President Matt Huffman, R-Lima, said no deal has been reached between the chambers on spending and no actual discussions have occurred between the two chambers. Worse, he’s in no great hurry to act on the bill and hinted it may take until June to approve a final version.

Considering the state Senate has its own pot of $350 million from the One-Time Strategic Community Investments Fund to allocate as it sees fit, we would find the efforts to stonewall the $350 million the state House sees fit to allocate disingenuous and disheartening.

That is why we call on the Valley’s state Senate delegation — Sens. Michael Rulli, R-Salem, and Sandra O’Brien, R-Lenox — and other senators to break the deadlock, debate the merits of House Bill 2 and then act swiftly to approve these critical one-time funds.

Given the urgent need of these funds to carry out significant game-changing projects across the Valley and across the state, this is no time to allow that bacon waiting to be brought home for productive use to get spoiled rotten.

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