People opposed to SB5 must actively debunk Republican sophistry about the bill. Everyone knew this was coming and we all knew they would use skewed statistics to try to scare people into voting for their cause. It's all they have and over the last few months it has become clear that anyone remaining in the Republican Party is nothing but a vitriol liar at heart. Take for example this ridiculous statistic released by the "Building a Better Ohio" pro-SB5 campaign.
"labor costs are now consuming upwards of 80 percent of local budgets, and taxpayers are tired of paying higher taxes to foot the bill."
I love how they slipped in "upwards" into the sentence, meaning, it's a worst case scenario and they give no citation. How can we trust that statistic at all?
It's just another Republican lie.
They lied when they said SB5 was about balancing the budget. They lied when they said "we're broke," and then turned around and passed a budget that increases from $52 billion to $56 billion. They lied when they said this was about the taxpayer. (public employees are taxpayers)
They also try to make public employees out to be a parasite on finances, but that's just as ridiculous as a company complaining that all of their employees are just a parasite on their resources - everyone here is working and everyone is earning their keep.
And now they are lying that this is about local governments and helping them get their budgets under control. But local governments wouldn't have had this problem if the state (i.e. John Kasich and the Republicans) didn't screw them over by defunding them.
The Akron Beacon Journal states:
Today, under intense pressure from every side except the destroy-the-Earth-because-Jesus-is-coming ultra-right, Gov. Kasich vetoed HB 231. It declared a disturbing open season on private interests withdrawing water from Lake Erie without concern for whether it damaged the lake's fragile ecosystem.
The bill alarmed other states around Lake Erie, and both former Senator George Voinovich and Governor Bob Taft piled on, urging Kasich to veto the reckless bill.
Yet some short-sighted legislators from districts near the lake voted in favor of the bill, including Mike Dovilla, Marlene Anieski, and Nan Baker. Let's remember this on election day next year.
Here's a great question you won't find in the Plain Dealer. What "gift for Speaker" did Steve LaTourette buy for $4,345.00 at Tiffany's in New York on January 12, 2011? Man of the people. Yep. These are they type of shenanigans that go on all day long in Washington and the main street media looks the other way. A $4,000 "gift" from one man to another? And they are both elected officials from Ohio. And they are both consistently voting to undermine the safety net of all Ohioans. They both voted to cut Medicare...although Steve promptly then went to a room full of seniors in Chagrin Falls and told them "the vote makes no sense at all". As reported in the Chagrin Valley Times, "but no one in the room asked why he voted for it" of course. Now here is an interesting piece of work. (1) Go to Tiffany's and buy the Speaker a $4,000 trinket; (2)vote to defund medical care for seniors; (3) vote to deny medical benefits for first responder firefighters; (4) accept $5,000 contribution from the morons in Washington who claim to represent firefighters in IAFF, AFL-CIO; go home and get a pat on your back from your wife the lobbyist for a good day's work.
Yesterday Ohio congresswoman Marcia Fudge (Oh-10) hosted a press conference in Washington D.C. with a group of progressive congresspersons from around the country (including Tim Ryan, Betty Sutton and Dennis Kucinich from Ohio) and civil rights leaders to discuss the bills Republican legislatures around the country are passing to make voting more difficult, especially for urban, poor, elderly, student, and minority voters.
As Fudge said at the press conference, "It is one of the most important issues we can be talking about, the issue of voter suppression."
"I come from the state of Ohio and we have one of the most draconian voter suppression bills in the United States," she says. "If in fact we are going to have a society that involves all of its citizens we cannot allowed these kinds of bills to be passed by legislature after legislature and legislature."
"It's hard to believe in America in 2011 we're still dealing with an issue so fundamental to democracy," says Youngstown's Tim Ryan. No kidding.
Wisconsin Representative Gwen Moore presents shocking figures on who doesn't have a photo ID in her state that makes vividly clear exactly who photo ID laws are intended to disenfranchise.
As Betty Sutton (Oh-13) says, these laws "strike at the very heart of our democracy." She calls this an "insidious movement being perpetrated by those who perceived the voters who will be disenfranchised as voters who will elect Democrats."
[Editor's note: The ground water number has been corrected from 2 million gallons to 300,000 gallons of water. The ground water number seemed to have fluctuated from a couple of different sources, but the number has been correct to reflect the latest information from the Plain Dealer. The number comes from this story:
You know a bill has to be horrendous when the Plain Dealer not only writes a stinging criticism of it, but also encourages citizens to voice opposition against it.
The bill they are opposing is Substitute House Bill 231. (aka HB 231)
It is truly a terrible bill that will allow private companies to drain Lake Erie by 5 million gallons a day. The bill also allows them to suck up ground water by 300,000 gallons and rivers and streams by 2 million gallons. The bill allows companies to keep draining no matter what. Even if extreme environmental damage shows up or they run the resources dry.
The Plain Dealer strongly states to John Kasich:
”Do not even flirt with this disaster in the making. Veto Substitute House Bill 231.
They finish with:
”PICK UP THE PHONE: Urge Gov. John Kasich to veto Substitute House Bill 231.
Let's all do so – and save our water! Call now.
The entire editorial can be found here:
In his statement calling on state Rep. Bob Mecklenborg to resign, ODP chair Chris Redfern brings up an interesting aspect of this curious case: who knew what when. It took more than two months before Cincinnati media — the Enquirer and WLWT Channel 5 News — provided bare-bones coverage of Mecklenborg's Indiana escapade back in April.
But did Republican leadership know back in April — and did the media? And did they squelch the story, and if so, at whose request? And why did the story finally come out?
We have learned one thing: about a week before the story became public at the end of June, Hamilton County Democrats opened their office on a Saturday mornng to collect last-minute signatures for the SB 5 repeal referendum. They found in the mail an anonymous envelope with no return address that contained a copy of Mecklenborg's arrest record. They forwarded it to Democratic officials in Columbus who provided it to the Associated Press. That may be where the Enquirer and WLWT got it. Or they may have gotten anonymous packages of their own.
And more curiosity: southwest Ohio Democratic activists tell us one of their number was told by an area Republican that the coverup went all the way up to the governor. But if so, which governor? Remember the incident took place in Indiana. That a Republican would say such a thing to a Democrat makes one wonder if that anonymous package may have come from a Republican fed up with Mecklenborg's inappropriate behavior and hypocrisy. Not every Republican feels that such behavior should be brushed off.
Chris Redfern, chairman of the Ohio Democratic Party, released this statement today:
"State Representative Robert Mecklenborg, of his own choosing, endangered the lives of his female passenger and that of the public when he chose to drive intoxicated in Lawrenceburg, Indiana, the night of Good Friday in April. While there are many questions yet to be answered, such as whether House Republican leaders, including Speaker Bill Batchelder were aware of the events of April 23 before news broke a few days ago, I believe Rep. Mecklenborg showed a disregard for his family and the constituents he is supposed to represent. He failed them. It is time for him to go."
So are you all hopped up after gathering signatures to put the SB 5 repeal on the ballot and ready to do it again?
Have we got the campaign for you!
Even as I write, Democratic activists are gathering the 1,000 signatures needed to get the ball rolling on repealing voter-suppression bill HB 194, a package of phony election "reforms" that just passed the legislature that are carefully crafted to keep likely Obama voters away from the polls or if they get there to keep their votes from counting. For instance, banning early voting on Sunday has nothing to do with religious fervor — it has everything to do with the fact that in 2008, black urban churches loaded people on buses after Sunday services and brought them down to the board of elections to vote. The bill is loaded with provisions like that, some of which purport to protect against nearly nonexistent "voter fraud," others which don't even pretend to be necessary.
The thousand signatures, which should be gathered by the end of this week, are sent to the attorney general and secretary of state to get the petition language approved. Then we hit the street again to gather another 231,000 signatures, this time by September 29. We can do this. If we can get 1.3 million signatures to repeal SB 5, we can get half a million to ensure fair elections.
Now some of you may be saying, won't running two campaigns at once spread our resources thin? Well, here's the good part: the deadline for going on this November's ballot has passed. Once we have the signatures, the issue will be slated to go on NEXT November's ballot.
And in the meantime, HB 194 can't go into effect. That's right — these tactics can't be used to try to defeat Obama in Ohio by denying his voters the vote.
So, Mr. Batchelder, how long did you know about Mecklenborg's little escapade? And don't you just love how they seek "treatment"? For what? Being a hypocritical jerk? Sorry to inform them that theres probably no "treatment" for that.
Here's the latest — too late, in my opinion. I'm sure Batchelder et al were hoping this would just blow over.
"Ohio House Speaker William Batchelder said in Columbus Wednesday that it is time for State Rep. Robert Mecklenborg, R- Green Township, arrested in April on a DUI charge, to step down.
Mike Dittoe, Batchelder's communications director, said the speaker told statehouse reporters Wednesday that "Rep. Mecklenborg is seeking treatment at this time."
"The speaker said he wants to see Rep. Mecklenborg sort out his life and this is obviously a difficult time for his family, but ultimately, he is going to have to leave office,'' Dittoe said.
So far, though, Mecklenborg - who was arrested April 23 in Lawrenceburg, Ind. - has not done so; and could not be reached for comment Wednesday.
He was not in Columbus Wednesday for the House session.
"If he has lost the support of the House leadership, it will make it very difficult for him to be an effective legislator,'' said Alex Triantafilou, chairman of the Hamilton County Republican Party.
Dittoe said that the speaker did not know the nature of the treatment that Mecklenborg is receiving.
Mecklenborg, a 59-year-old married father of three, was pulled over by a Dearborn County sheriff's deputy because there was a front headlight that was out.
The officer told Mecklenborg that he could smell alcohol on his breath and said his eyes were bloodshot. The third-term state legislator - a lawyer - refused to take a breathalyzer test and failed three field sobriety tests.
A later blood test showed that his blood alcohol content was above Indiana's legal limit.
John Kasich was on MSNBC’s Morning Joe today.
He continued to propagate outright lies that have been debunked. First and for most, he continued the lie that he got us out of an $8 billion deficit. It’s been reported by several newspapers that there never was an $8 billion deficit. The Plain Dealer states:
”The $8 billion figure seemingly has been cited 8 billion times in the contentious debate on the state budget for 2012-13, with Kasich and GOP lawmakers taking credit for closing the huge gap. After House Republicans approved their version of the budget May 5, they even sported buttons saying "$8 billion" with a slash through it.
But some Democrats and their allies have questioned whether the hole was really all that big. And they have a point.”
After doing some analysis they conclude:
”Add up all the extra revenue and you get $1.6 billion to $1.8 billion. So the real deficit is actually turning out to be about $5.9 billion to $6.1 billion.”
$5.9 billion to $6.1billion…
And keep in mind that Kasich’s new budget increases by $4 billion. The increase is from $52 billion to $56 billion.
John Kasich also boasts about increasing school “choice.” What Kasich forgets to mention is that “choice” was made possible by steering millions of dollars to his for-profit charter school friends where the executives make million dollar salaries and it sells out Ohio's firefighters, police officers, teachers and middleclass communities.
Even though he won't fess up, because he doesn't seem to feel he's answerable to mere voters but only rich corporate donors, it's clear that Josh "The Empty Suit" Mandel is running for Sherrod Brown's U.S. Senate seat. It's equally clear he plans to tell the public as little as possible about what he stands for and hopes he dupes a lot of people into voting for him because he's a youthful, clean-cut VETERAN VETERAN!! VETERAN!!!!
Obscure former legislator Kevin Coughlin from the Akron area wants the job too, and to the amusement of Democrats, he's released a video that hopefully will make Mandel's path a little harder:
The video shows a VERY youthful Mandel, then a college student at OSU AND a College Democrat, cheering on presidential candidate Al Gore in 2000.
Uh-oh. With Republicans having veered to the far far far right these days, this won't play too well with likely primary voters.
Now, a candidate that had the courage of his (new) convictions would come out very publicly and explain to his rabid base exactly why he had a 180 degree turnabout in his political proclivities. He would tell the public what sort of revelation he had that caused him to turn his back on what he believed in the past and adopt a whole new ideology.
Josh Mandel is not that candidate. As he's shown us so far, his tactic is silence and vagueness, hoping that voters will read onto the blank slate that he is whatever they want to see. It's insulting to voters, and it leads naturally to suspicions that he is nothing more than a cynical and ambitious opportunist, looking only to enhance his personal stature and power and not at all interested in honestly representing the people of Ohio.
From my friend Jill Miller Zimon I saw this link to the story in the Columbus Dispatch about Governor Kasich's appointments to his "JobsOhio" board:
She's concerned that there's only one woman out of eight appointees (one more remains to be named).
I looked at the list and something else entirely disturbs me:
"The board, appointed by Kasich, consists of Kvamme, Ohio State University President E. Gordon Gee, former Ernst & Young and Cleveland Cavaliers executive James Boland, Bob Evans executive Steven A. Davis, the Cleveland Clinic’s C. Martin Harris, Marathon Petroleum’s Gary Heminger, Procter & Gamble’s Bob McDonald, and Pamela Springer of Manta Media."
This just isn't a list of people who, for the most part, are engaged in the industries and job generators of the future. It's mostly a last-century list that's very backward-looking. Where is renewable energy or biotech, for instance? Aren't these the things we've been told we need to invest in? Marathon Petroleum? Really? That seems to be a growth industry only for the profiteers at the top. It's a shrinking industry we need to be backing away from.
And Bob Evans? Shame! To even suggest that fast-food jobs are the future of the state is insulting. This is a company that is on the top ten list of companies whose employees make little enough that they qualify for tax-funded benefits. Creating low-wage junk jobs does nothing for the state's economy — even assuming any will be created once teachers and police officers and nurses and sanitation workers no longer have the money to treat the kids to Bob Evans on the weekend.
And what can a lawyer/Cavs executive bring to the table except ways to extort money from taxpayers for private benefit? Maybe I'm a tad suspicious but I have to wonder if that's what this whole board is primarily about.
In a no nonsense editorial the Plain Dealer explains why John Kasich needs to kill HB 231.
HB 231 is a bill that would allow private companies to drain Lake Erie by 5 million gallons a day.
The Plain Dealer explains that one of the effects of draining the Lake could be rampant growth of toxic blue-green algae. The algae thrive in low water levels and they produce a toxin that is harmful to both animals and humans.
The Plain Dealer states:
"Toxic blue-green algae already poses a significant threat to Ohioans' health, drinking water and $10 billion-a-year tourism industry. Scientists refer to the environmental eyesore as cyanobacteria. It is an apocalyptic shade of green and smells as gross as it looks. It produces a toxin, microcystin, that is harmful to humans and animals. It blooms bigger and earlier each year, fed by phosphorus that pours into the shallowest and warmest of the Great Lakes from farms."
"Less water in the lake means more concentrated levels of phosphorus, which means more blue-green algae."
And finish with simply:
"Kill the bill, Gov. Kasich."
Let's all hope he does.
The entire editorial can be found here:
What a difference a few months make. Just two months ago President Obama announced Osama bin Laden was dead. Then just a few weeks later it was announced that Chrysler had repaid its bailout loans. It was proof that the stimulus worked. The automotive industry is healthier than ever and hundreds of thousands of jobs have been saved.
On Friday it was announced that job growth was smaller than expected. People began panicking. But if one looks at the numbers, the economy is doing much better than people are being led to believe.
On the same Friday the low job growth numbers were released, the Dow Jones finished at 12,657 points. For anyone who follows the stock market, until the beginning of this year, the Dow Jones has NEVER been over 12,000 points. In the last six months it has risen an astonishing 600 plus points. This number may fall somewhat, but it will be down from record highs.
The NASDAQ is also trading at new highs. On Friday it finished at 2,859 points. This has been a gigantic recovery from trading below 1,400 points in 2009. All the recovery has happened while Barack Obama has been in office.
Stalling economy – uh, no.
Corporations are seeing record profits and overall, seem to be healthy. Here are a couple of articles…
On Friday it was announced that the private sector added 57,000 jobs. Although the number is lower than what some people were hoping, it marks the 16th consecutive month of private sector job GROWTH. Again, that’s 16 straight months of private sector job GROWTH.
What brought this down was firing in the PUBLIC sector. Hello, John Kasich. Hello, Scott Walker.
The public sector lost 39,000 jobs. And almost all of the jobs lost were TEACHING jobs.
Currently there is a bill (HB 231) sitting on John Kaisch's desk that will allow private companies to drain Lake Erie by 5 million gallons a day. Ground water from Ohio can be sucked out by 2 million gallons a day. And streams and rivers can be depleted by 300,000 gallons a day.
Even worse, if environmental damage shows up, because of these depletions, private companies still don't have to stop the withdrawals. If fish and wildlife die off and flush wet lands turn to mud - the withdrawals can still continue.
The legislator, Lynn Watchmann, who sponsored this bill stands to personally profit from it. He is the President of the Maumee Valley Bottling Company and a board member of the International Bottled Water Association. Nice, huh?
On June 17 the Cleveland Plain Dealer wrote:
"Other states have managed to enact legislation limiting water withdrawals from their sections of the Great Lakes that conforms with the binding 2008 Great Lakes Compact.
But Ohio seems to be stuck in a time warp, with some lawmakers still in denial about the need to protect the region's most precious natural asset. They apparently would prefer to transform Lake Erie into a resource to be plundered for profit."
The entire editorial can be found here.
The Ohio Republican leadership (John Kasich, Bill Batchelder, Tom Niehaus, Jon Husted and David Yost) will soon draw new Legislative and Congressional districts. There's little doubt that the districts they draw will be wacky, crazy and extreme.
The League of Women Voters has a competition to see if the people can draw better, more rational redistricting lines than the Ohio Republican leadership. There's little doubt that they can.
So take a shot at it. Follow this link to enter the competition and create your map.
You'll get everything you need to do this online and you'll be working with the same data that the Ohio Republicans will be working with. There's also cash prizes for the winners!
"The following statement was made by Brian Rothenberg, Executive Director, ProgressOhio:
The question Ohioans should ask is why would their neighbors want to take away small business tax credits for Ohioans, funding to fill the donut hole for senior citizens, an end to pre-existing condition clauses and the right for young people to be on their parents' insurance. Despite their claims, if they succeed, many of these hard won rights will be taken away from Ohio families.
The lack of public support for the amendment to take away your health care is glaring as it took them almost two years to collect the amount of signatures they filed today.
The promoters of this amendment that will take away your health care rights are part of a political network determined to use any issue to score political points. In this case, the casualties will be Ohio citizens who will be denied the basics of having access to health care.
A coalition of groups including health care advocacy organizations, nurses and others will be working to review the petitions. It is still a long way from the ballot box."
As most of us know, there's been a lot going on in the state legislature this year, very little of it good for the citizens of Ohio. If you'd like to get an accurate update, tonight is your chance. State reps. Nickie Antonio and Mike Foley and state senator Mike Skindell, all representing areas on the west side of Cuyahoga County, are holding a public meeting tonight at the Metroparks Ranger Station at 4600 Valley Parkway in Fairview Park, across from the Big Met golf course, at 7 p.m.
This is what they sent out about the meeting:
"Here's a preliminary list of things we will go over: What the Republican majority pushed: State Budget that just passed, SB 5 (attack on workers), drilling in parks, guns in bars, voting/election issues, Great Lakes Compact bill (which probably violates the compact), cuts to local governments, more tax breaks for the rich (estate, investment, income), Republicans (failed, thank goodness) attempt to have Ohio opt out of healthcare reform.
Stuff we worked on: real Jobs - WPA-style legislation, protection of Great Lakes, single- payer health care, fighting back on facking, pushing for a fair tax system, working on the SB 5 referendum, trying to protect public education and opposing bad charter schools proliferation, ... and lots more."
This is a great chance to hear and talk to the type of legislators we need a lot more of, and to learn how you can support them in their effort to beat back initiatives that hurt most of Ohio's citizens.
This is not a fundraiser; there is no charge and no RSVP is required. You don't need to live in their districts. Go to http://www.mikefoley.us/ for information.
Let's be clear, John Kasich didn't balance anything. His budget kicks the can down the road to local municipalities and starts Ohio off in a deficit. While he jets off on vacation, local municipalities are left to deal with problems that he chose not to. At least one Ohio newspaper gets it - The Akron Beacon Journal. They recently wrote an editorial starting...
"John Kasich congratulated himself and his fellow Republicans in charge of the Statehouse. The governor reveled in passage of the new, two-year $55.7 billion state budget. “It wasn’t easy,” he explained in a statement on Wednesday afternoon, “and it took courage — it always takes courage to do the right thing — and I’m proud to count myself in the camp of the courageous today.”
There were elements of political bravery, especially in the governor holding firm against the influential nursing home industry. For the most part, the budget reflects what the Kasich brand of Republican long has pledged to do: reduce taxes and slash spending.
Do what you want? Armed with large majorities in the legislature? Not exactly courageous.
The governor boasted: “Ohio’s becoming jobs-friendly again because we refuse to kick problems down the road.” Refuse? Try again. This budget leaves the hard decisions to cities, school districts and others at the local level. A key component in the balancing act of Kasich and his legislative allies involves whacking revenue sharing with local governments, a shift of roughly $2 billion."
The entire editorial can be found here.
Michele Bachmann's ties to Janet Porter - - Woman who believes, if you voted for Obama, you're going to hell.Submitted by Derek K on Wed, 07/06/2011 - 5:33pm.
People for the American Way, has been tracking Michele Bachmann and her radical Christian beliefs.
In 2009 she was a featured speaker at a conference organized by Janet Porter. Anastasia has written a little about her and her anti-abortion stance. In a word, Janet Porter is nuts.
She's heads up an organization called Faith 2 Action. The conference she organized was called "How To Take Back America." The main speaker was then presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee. With Mike Huckabee not running this cycle, Janet Porter, is searching for a new BFF. That person could be Michele Bachmann.
With this in mind, here's a little more about Ms Porter:
"It is probably impossible to overstate the extremism and lunacy of Janet Porter, whose radio program and Faith2Action.org website gives her a platform for promoting the most unhinged of conspiracy theories.
Porter is Mike Huckabee's biggest fan. She first fell in love when she organized the 2007 Values Voter Debate to which she had personally invited a gospel choir to sing "Why Should God Bless America?" and after which Porter (then Folger) declared that Huckabee had been revealed as the answer to Christians' prayers for a presidential candidate who shared their views, proclaiming him to be the "David among Jesse's sons." During the presidential primaries, she started a front group to attack Huckabee's arch nemesis Mitt Romney and wrote columns claiming that only Huckabee could prevent Hillary Clinton from throwing all Christians into prison and save her fantasy world from this "evil queen and her dragon of slaughter."
On the campaign trail presidential hopeful, Michele Bachmann, likes to tell people she was a foster mother to 23 children.
It's an attempt to make her look incredibly benevolent.
But the stunning number she cites raises a myriad of questions about her claim.
23 children - Mother.
Can she name all 23 of these children? Is she still in contact with any of them? Are there any pictures of them in family outings?
Some reporters have investigated her claims and have found details to be very murky.
According to the Huffington Post, Michele Bachmann, was contracted, notice the word contracted, by a private company to be a foster parent.
She was licensed in 1992 and children were placed in her home until 1998.
Six years - 23 children - Mother.
In a further investigation into her claim the number doesn't even stay the same. In 2000, she was quoted as saying that she had been a foster mother to 20 children. Neighbors and members of her church recall few sightings of any kids during that time.
It's hard to believe that Michele Bachmann was a mother to a majority, if any, of these kids. If anything, what she provided was a very temporary place for them to stay while they were being shuffled through the system. According to the agency she was contracted through, some of the kids stayed with her for only a month. How can anyone get to know someone in a month much less be a mother to them?
There can be a lot of contempt wrapped up in the two-letter word "so," especially in the mouths of Republicans.
A few years ago, an interviewer said to Dick Cheney that many Americans no longer thought the wars were worth it.
He responded "So?"
Early this year, John Boehner was asked how he would feel if his slash-and-burn budget cuts caused widespread job loss.
"So be it," he responded, oblivious to the pain of families struggling with unemployment.
And this weekend, while being interviewed on Face the Nation. John Kasich responded to a question about the political price he's paying for going against everything Ohioans want to see done by saying "So what?"
(The interview is a priceless piece of delusion, illogic, arrogance and sociopathic lack of empathy, if you can stand watching it).
So much meaning packed into those two words that ultimately mean "I don't care what any citizen in Ohio wants — my ideology and slavish devotion to the welfare of the rich are absolute."
"So what if you lose your job?"
"So what if your wages and benefits are cut?"
"So what if workers have even less power vis a vis their employers, already a tilted balance of power?"
"So what if your child's class size increases, and he can't get help he needs because staff has been laid off?"
"So what if I take your tax money and redirect it to failing for-profit charter schools run by some of my biggest campaign donors?"
"So what if the services in your city or town deteriorate because their funding was stolen by the state?"
"So what if your local fees and property taxes soar just trying to keep things from falling apart?"
"So what if I sell off your turnpike and tolls skyrocket so you can't afford to use it anymore?"
"So what if I choose to ignore the state constitution and then get all pissy when I get called on it? Constitutions are for the little people, not for me."
In 2007 Matthew Barrett a Democratic State Representative went to Norwalk High School to give a talk about government to one of their classes. When he turned on his computer and brought up his presentation pictures of half naked women flashed through it. The incident was reported in several newspapers from the Toledo Blade, to Sandusky Register, to the Lorain Morning Journal, and it was covered by the Columbus Dispatch.
Matthew Barrett was (and as far as I know, still is) married at the time of the incident. He was the father of four young children. He initially stated that it was his young son who downloaded the pictures onto a flash drive that appeared in his presentation. Appropriately, there was an investigation into this by the Ohio State Patrol.
After the investigation was completed, it was found that Barrett lied about the incident. He knew the half naked women who had popped up in his presentation and had requested they send him the pictures via email. He was to blame for the incident.
When then house minority leader Joyce Beatty found out that Barrett had lied, she asked him to resign immediately. And he did. The story was covered well by the Columbus Dispatch.
Ohio has recently learned of a situation not unlike this involving a Republican state representative - Robert Mecklenborg. His case contains actual illegal behavior as he was caught operating a vehicle while intoxicated (OVI). Thus far, there has been scant reporting about this incident, which appears to involve a cover up. It took weeks for any information to surface about it.
UPDATE: While Mecklenborg is on the House Ethics Committee, he is not its chair. The story below has been updated to reflect that reality, and we apologize for the error.
Editor's Note: I originally submitted this as an editorial to The Plain Dealer, Columbus Dispatch, Toledo Blade, Canton Repository, and Youngstown Vindicator. Given its content, it is not surprising that none chose to run it. I'm now sharing it here, in the hope that we might, together, keep the pressure up on a very telling story.
Edward R. Murrow – the model of the modern journalist – once said, “The obscure we see eventually; the completely obvious, it seems, takes longer.”
Perhaps this explains the failure of Ohio’s journalistic community to recognize and report on the biggest news story of the week not related to the state budget. In April, House Ethics Committee member Robert Mecklenborg (R – Green Twp.) was arrested in Indiana for driving under the influence of alcohol, with Viagra in his system and a 26-year-old woman with associations to a strip club in his passenger seat.
That the married Mecklenborg was escorting a much younger woman is salacious. That he was drinking and driving is inexcusable, and that he was doing so in another state despite his lofty position embarrassing. Yet none of these stories has been covered in any depth by a major Ohio newspaper or TV station outside Mecklenborg’s hometown. Editor's Note: The inimitable Connie Schultz wrote about this story this morning, and it's worth a read.
If Murrow’s logic follows, the obscure story here – the tawdry details and whether or not Mecklenborg is forced to resign – will make itself clear soon enough.
The more obvious story, however, is the one that no news organization in Ohio seems willing to cover. House Speaker Bill Batchelder (R – Medina) released a statement on the incident this week calling Mecklenborg “a dedicated public servant” with “an exemplary record of serving the people of Ohio,” and asking the media and the public to respect Mecklenborg’s privacy. He also officially denied prior knowledge of the incident. Despite the denial, Batchelder’s statements raises two obvious questions – what did the Speaker know, and when did he know it?
One cannot help but wonder. In the nearly three months since his arrest, Mecklenborg has continued serving on the Ethics Committee, sponsored a bill to require photo ID for Ohio voters and restrict access to the polls, chaired the committee that voted to allow guns in Ohio bars, and compared proponents of a woman’s right to choose to 1920s Nazis on the House floor. He has been a major player in major legislation, and undoubtedly worked closely with Batchelder on at least some of these initiatives. If the Speaker knew nothing of this incident, it raises the question of his ability to effectively lead. If he did know, it raises serious ethical questions and, sadly, the specter of a cover-up.
An opportunity to question Batchelder on this issue arose Friday during the Speaker’s press availability with Governor Kasich and Senate President Neihaus. The press corps punted, choosing instead to write about the Governor’s qualms with the tactics of minority Democrats.
Murrow also said, “To be persuasive we must be believable; to be believable we must be credible.” Without further inquiry into this incident and the Speaker’s role in it, Ohio’s news organizations risk losing not only their ability to persuade Ohioans on the important issues we face, but their very credibility. The stakes are high in Ohio – and we cannot afford such a loss.
The following video from Marc Kovac of Ohio Capital Blog has been making its way around the internet. It features John Kasich in a tirade concerning the horrible partisanship he feels he's been facing.
In a total disconnect from reality, he acts as if it's never existed before in politics. What happened to the gentler times like the mid-nineties when people reached across the isle to find comprise, he wonders.
I'm pretty sure it was during this time that the Republicans came up with the whole idea of zero compromise.
In addition, this has to be one of the most partisan budgets ever passed. One example would be the windfall it creates for for-profit charter schools, which, is at the expense of local communities.
John Kasich's bizarre tirade shows he is not a well man.
In the video, after he starts off with his odd premise that extreme partisanship has just popped up, he states…
"What's happening in Ohio now is that if you don't win, you sue, or make a pubic records request ... slow down the process”
Slow down the process?
I thought that was the whole basis of our governance – a well thought out debate. I thought we were supposed to be governed on a system of “checks and balances.” Was legislation ever supposed to fly through the legislature?
He then says…
”It’s all in the selfish pursuit of power”
Selfish pursuit of power?