By Marc Kovac
The current state commerce director is set to become the next state development director, under a leadership change announced by Gov. John Kasich on Thursday.
David Goodman’s Cabinet shift comes amid continued questions about JobsOhio, which spearheads the state’s economic-development efforts, and its relationship with the Development Services Agency, which apparently provided millions of dollars in funding to the private nonprofit without lawmaker review.
Goodman, who has served as head of the state commerce department since January 2011, will become DSA director Monday, replacing Christiane Schmenk. The latter was appointed by Kasich in July 2011 after serving as the agency’s chief legal counsel.
In a released statement, Kasich praised Goodman for his commerce work — “David’s led very capably at commerce; he has earned my confidence, and he has the right skill set to take DSA to the next level as Ohio continues to get back on its feet and create more jobs.”
Kasich also praised Schmenk— “She gladly took on some tough challenges, and I appreciate her work as we transitioned Ohio to a better, more modern job- creation strategy. We’re entering a new phase of that strategy with JobsOhio securing robust new funding and entering its second generation of leadership, so this hand-off to the next generation of DSA leadership dovetails with that.”
The governor’s administration denied any connection to Schmenk’s departure and the continuing brouhaha over JobsOhio.
“This is something that’s been in the works for two or three months and is part of the evolution of our economic-development efforts in the state,” said Kasich spokesman Rob Nichols. He added of Goodman, “He’s been a rock star for us.”
Statehouse Democrats, meanwhile, redoubled their criticism of Kasich, DSA and JobsOhio and calls for the nonprofit to turn over all of its financial books to the state auditor for review.
“If there is money that is moving that has not been approved by the Legislature and potentially someone had knowledge of the fact that they were moving money from one place to another without the authority to do it and spending that money ... now you get into the potential that there could be criminal activity going on,” said Rep. John Carney, a Democrat from Columbus who is among potential candidates for statewide office next year. “I think there’s questions about what money was spent, how it was spent, what was the knowledge of the individuals who were signing purchase orders for things for JobsOhio.”
He added, “The unwillingness to provide answers is fueling speculation that something is going on there.”