In today’s letters column, David Pepper targets Mike DeWine and our Oct. 16 editorial defending the way the Ohio attorney general spent money from a national settlement with mortgage servicers. Ordinarily, we would let Pepper have his say. In this instance, he leaves too much unsaid.
Know, first, that Pepper, a Cincinnati Democrat, is seeking to unseat DeWine in next year’s general election. Also, this editorial page has applauded Pepper in the past, endorsing his 2010 candidacy for state auditor. Missing from his letter is that Ohio received $330 million in settlement money, the largest share going to borrowers in loan alterations or payments. Of that sum, $94 million went to the attorney general to spend at his discretion.
Of the $94 million, DeWine spent 81 percent on demolishing vacant homes, acting on the advice of many experts and advocates who argued that such action is crucial for neighborhoods to recover. That leaves the $18 million Pepper cites, $4 million of which he deems well spent, presumably the money routed to Ohio legal aid societies.
The remaining $14 million? Half went to the Safe Neighborhoods Initiative, starting in Akron, a promising effort to improve the quality of lives, reducing crime, increasing property values and building community. All of that translates into 93 percent of the discretionary money.
Did DeWine direct the rest to the Ohio Alliance of Boys and Girls Clubs and other causes related to children? Yes, he did, but that hardly merits the outrage Pepper continues to express.