Monday, October 28, 2013

Three not a crowd when OSU moves $50 million to a venture capitalist

Let us begin the week in Beautiful Ohio with a squinty look at the academic/political complex that is the pride of Gov. Kasich.   While public universities genuflect to the governor and legislature in hopes of squeezing out a few more public dollars for their campuses, Ohio State University and a private venture capital fund have worked out an investment scheme - private! -  that has been exposed by a couple of Plain Dealer reporters.

But only partly exposed because the major players in the deal aren't talking - enforced silence that Kasich honed from his days with the defunct Lehman Brothers.

Such ideas were seeded when Kasich replaced the state development department with a new office with the seductive  name of JobsOhio, a merger of two prized words in the governor's lexicon.  To protect the agency's virginity, it was guaranteed total secrecy in its stated workaday world  of creating new jobs in the Buckeye marketplace.

So now we are told that OSU has invested $50 million in the secret venture capital fund run by Mark Kvamme, who had directed JobsOhio until a a year ago when he left  to create his very own private fund. A close friend of Kasich, Kvamme isn't talking about the deal.  Nor is recently retired  OSU president  E.Gordon Gee, who surely knows a lot more about it as the widely reputed Wizard of Oz.

 And where will the invested money eventually land?  Only the privileged insiders to the flow know.  And given OSU's iconic position in the state's academic universe, it appears no one will find out soon.

As the PD's Brent Larkin observed  in a Sunday column,  OSU has long nurtured a bad habit of keeping blemished  episodes  under the radar.   He described the lastest stone-walling on major transfers of public money, as is this one, as an exercise in obfuscation".

Meanwhile, Mike Douglas  called it "coziness" in Sunday's Beacon Journal  but more gently  dampened  concern by describing Kvamme as a credentialed operative with success in his past who "may prove to be a winner" in this instance.

Kasich,  Gee,  Kvamme.  Connecting the dots can raise dark suspicions.  Coziness?   While we're waiting for transparency, it looks more like crony capitalism under a rock in the governor's office.

No comments: