Republicans have controlled Findlay government since God knows when, and yet our flood problem goes unfixed. Over the course of the years, Findlay has suffered many major floods and the Republicans never seem to make flood controls happen. In 1962, after two major floods in one year, (1959) Findlay managed to get a study completed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, but Findlay never executed flood controls. In 1981, a major flood which was ranked number two at the time in Findlay’s History resulted in no action. 1997, another flood that at the time ranked number 5 on the list of Findlay’s worst floods, no action. All told, Findlay has had 23 major flood events since 1913, yet only after the 2007 flood, when Marathon questioned its commitment to Findlay without a solution to the flooding issue, did the local Republican officials get flood control “religion”. And even then the effort to bring flood controls to Findlay had to be taken up by a private group.
So here we are in 2011; this September the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is going to present us with another plan and the question is can Findlay execute. I believe that we have the local political will and the public support to physically build flood controls. The real hurdle is funding. How do you pay for a major public works project, like flood controls, in Findlay (and Ottawa)? The only real answer is Federal funding.
Given the current “political environment”, many in Findlay have given up any hope of Federal help with our flood control projects. The Courier and Tony Iriti have floated the idea that Findlay could fund the flood controls one hundred percent with local monies. How much will flood controls cost? Well, no one really knows yet. I have tried very hard not to engage in the speculation that has all too often surrounded the discussion of flood controls. But for a moment, let’s say that the flood controls would cost something north of 100 million dollars. What would be the effect of a tax on our local community to raise that kind of money? My fear is that the tax needed to locally fund flood controls would be an unacceptable economic burden on our tax base, putting Findlay at a long-term economic competitive disadvantage. The economic impact of locally funded flood controls could be just as damaging to our local economy as the economic impact of the flooding itself. The only way to avoid a paralyzing choice between another devastating flood and a devastating tax burden is with a large Federal funding match for our flood controls project.
So the question before us is: Can our Republican representatives at the state and federal level make federal (and state) funding happen? Are they even willing to try? In his last campaign, Cliff Hite proudly told us how, as Ohio Representative for Findlay, he demanded three million dollars from Governor Strickland for flood controls in Findlay. Has (now Ohio Senator) Hite made the same demand from Governor Kasich? Why not? Were Governor Strickland’s budget issues any less pressing than Governor Kasich’s or does Senator Hite feel that Findlay’s flooding issues no longer rate a state spending priority?
Where is Governor Kasich on this issue? Is he pressing his friends in Washington like John Boehner for help in Findlay? Is our new Republican U.S. Senator Portman looking out for Findlay? And what about our U.S. Representative, Jim Jordan? If there is anyone in Government that should be leading the charge to fix the flooding issues in Findlay it should be Congressman Jim Jordan.
Why can Republicans take Findlay for granted and ignore the flooding problems in Findlay? Because they know that no matter what, Findlay and Hancock County are going to vote Republican! Republicans do not have to help because Findlay and Hancock County are a “safe” city and county.
The only state or federally elected official that has shown any real effort and willingness to help Findlay is Democratic U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown. Our Republican friends are too busy protecting their anti-government ideology as they eye their next advancement in political office. As Governor Kasich sets the stage for a 2016 Presidential run and Jordan plots his chances for, ironically, Sherrod Brown’s senate seat, doing anything to bring federal money to Findlay to fix the flooding issues does not fit their agenda.
It is not about really serving the interest of Findlay, it is about using Findlay as a stepping stone to that next higher office. We can expect no help from the Republicans with funds for flood controls in Findlay.
So let me lay out the bottom line for you. If you want real comprehensive flood controls in Findlay, we need Federal funding. If you want federal funding for flood controls we need to let the Republican Party know, loud and clear, that we will support Democrats to get our flooding issue fixed!