Joe Motil

City Council must have been in a generous mood earlier this week during its Monday meeting at City Hall when it handed out two 10 year 75% tax abatements worth $680,710 to Hubbard Park Place LLC and Brunner Building LLC for two separate building projects in the Short North with a total investment cost of approximately $46 million. Both projects will create eight full-time permanent jobs in the economically depressed area of the Short North.

Then came Ball Metal Food Containers turn. According to the Department of Development, Ball Corp along with its subsidiaries is “the world’s leading supplier of metal packaging to the beverage, food, personal care and household industries, aerospace and other technology industries servicing both the commercial and government sectors.” Council members felt justified in handing out another 75% 10 year tax abatement totaling $1,684,430 for Ball Corp’s $15 million investment into their existing facility on the West side of Columbus and the promise of 50 new jobs.

The Colorado-based Ball Corp’s total assets are a reported $7.2 billion. But City Council has deemed them another giant corporation desperately in need of some financial assistance so it can hang on. But if you rely on mass transportation to land a job there you can forget it. The facility lies outside of the 270 outer belt and “the nearest COTA transportation center is 1.4 miles away.” What more do you expect from an archaic power controlling At Large City Council form of government?

Here’s a little more food for thought regarding the Short North development handouts. Although the Dispatch accurately reported the beneficiaries were Hubbard Park Place LLC and Brunner Building LLC, they did not report that both are partially owned by locally-based Schiff Capital and the Wood Operating Company. Michael Schiff is the owner and founder of Schiff Capital and Mark Wood is the President of the Wood Companies.

A peek at the 2015 campaign finance reports of Council members Zach Klein, Shannon Hardin, Mike Stinziano and Jaiza Page (who ran as a “Team” in the 2015 General Election) shows contributions from both Michael Schiff and Mark Woods.

Our Council President Zach Klein received $5,000.00 from Woods and $1,000.00 from Schiff. Hardin’s gift was $1,000.00 from Schiff and $100.00 from Woods. And Michael Stinziano and Jaiza Paige both took in $1,000.00 from Mr. Schiff.

So a $9,100.00 investment into helping 4 of our current council members get elected, turns into a windfall in terms of a tax abatement for a couple of Columbus’s cash stricken developers.

If this isn’t money laundering I don’t know what is.

An elected official takes a campaign contribution from someone and then turns around and says thank you by reducing their property taxes by 75%. Whatever happened to all this talk about ethics and maintaining the public’s trust? Where is Tracey Retchin, the city’s new hotshot Chief Ethics Officer? What is her position on this? Why are we wasting our tax dollars on her non-action?

I think it is time to take this matter to the Ohio Ethics Commission.

Clintonville resident Joe Motil is one of Central Ohio’s most noteworthy and recognizable progressive activists. The former City Council candidate is best described in his own words: “I have fought side by side for the past 30 years with concerned citizens across the City of Columbus for Fairness and Equality. Experience Matters!”