Thursday, August 18, 2011

Ohio Governor Begs Labor Unions To Save His Ass And That Of The Ohio GOP!

Ohio Governor Begs Labor Unions To Save His Ass And That Of The Ohio GOP!

Want to see how a politician can, in an attempt to gain some short term public relations gain, cause himself long-term political harm?  Enter Governor Kasich who writes a ridiculous letter to We Are Ohio’s labor leaders demanding that they negotiate his surrender on Senate Bill 5 on Friday.

How ridiculous?
It starts with the new theory that Ted Strickland was really the genesis of SB 5.  What they’re referring to is Budget Planning and Management Commission that the Republicans in the legislature insisted be created in Governor Strickland’s first budget.  Except there was never any bipartisan agreement in the Commission.  The Republicans issued their own report, as did the Democrats.  Guess which one had the language saying reform of Ohio’s 1983 law regulating government employment polices was “long overdue.”

Yep, the Republicans’.  And guess who just happened to be one of the Republicans on the Commission who wrote this report?  Well, the head of the Republican delegation on the Commission was Shannon Jones… you know, the author of Senate Bill 5.  So… yeah.  Right of the gate, Kasich and the GOP legislative leaders are full of crap.
Remember when we falsely accused protestors of literally pooping all over the Statehouse?  Or locking you out of the Statehouse?  Or when we refused to hear testimony from SB 5 opponents?  Or when Kasich dismissed the protests against Senate Bill 5?  Or removed members of our own party who didn’t support SB 5 from key committees?  Yeah, don’t.  Cause that’s all water under the bridge… to Kasich, Batchelder, and Niehaus.  So is Kasich calling a cop enforcing a law designed to protect officers an “idiot.”  Or Kasich saying to conservative radio talk show host Willie Cunningham on 700 WLW that he doesn’t need to listen to or meet with labor on SB 5?  Yeah, now he needs to.
And that’s where Kasich’s lack of leadership really shines.  Note that the standard of what stays or goes in SB 5 is not the merit of the provision.  It’s no longer about “tools” for local governments, or reforms necessary for Ohio’s economic survival… the standard Kasich and the GOP legislative leadership lays down for what provisions stay or go in SB 5 is whatever the polls suggest is popular.

So much for the notion that John Kasich cares only about doing what’s right, instead of doing what’s popular.  Now, Kasich is saying that SB 5 should be determined not on merits, but on whatever the public will simply tolerate the GOP doing.
Two weeks ago, the Build a Better Ohio campaign reported confidence that they had a path of victory.  They claimed that the only reason that SB 5 was unpopular was because union bosses were lying about the bill.  Governor Kasich has repeated the same thing more times than we can count.

Now, Kasich admits that there are provisions of this bill that are genuinely unpopular on their own.  That complicates the messaging for the pro-SB 5 campaign considerably.
Where was this concern about bitter political warfare from Kasich, Niehaus and Batchelder months ago?  Oh, that’s right… we’ve been told to forget that.
Here’s the starting point for any negotiations on a new SB 5:
Only by wiping the slate completely clean, only by starting with a blank sheet of paper, can any talks truly be productive.  The Governor is a fool to insist otherwise.  There is no way labor can allow SB 5 to be the vehicle of any compromise.  It has become too politically charged of a document.  If Kasich wants to have productive talks, the parties must begin on equal footing.
And here’s the reality that the Dispatch, Governor Kasich, Speaker Batchelder, and Senate President Niehaus refuse to admit.  They don’t need to cut a deal with labor to knock SB 5 off the ballot.  They can knock SB 5 off the ballot on their own, without labor’s consent.  All it takes for them to do is to repeal the bill and start over.  Do that, and We Are Ohio would have no choice but to pull Issue 2 on the ballot.

There’s no way that you can have a vote to repeal a bill that has already been repealed.  There’s no point in We Are Ohio in keeping Issue 2 on the ballot if the General Assembly has repealed the bill.  Ironically, at the municipal level, the Ohio Revised Code makes it clear that if the legislative authority repeals an ordinance subject to a referendum before the vote there should be no vote on the referendum.  Ohio’s Revised Code has no express provision for referendum of state laws, but the principle should be the same.
If John Kasich and the GOP leadership was genuinely interested in a bipartisan compromise on SB 5, they’d repeal the bill.  Instead, Kasich is mandating a meeting with no promise of success.  It’s a closed door meeting, ironically, at the insistence of a Governor who claims one of SB 5’s greatest features is giving more transparency in negotiations with labor unions.  Not invited to the talks:  the press, the people, or a single Democratic member of the state legislature.

But Governor Kasich isn’t genuinely serious about a deal.  He’s doing this all for a public relations boost.  He said so himself:

"Just because we talk doesn’t mean we work it all out.”—Governor John Kasich [Source: Associated Press]

Think about that for a moment.  Kasich wants a deal but behind closed doors with a special interest group in which not a single elected Democratic legislator is allowed to participate.
There is absolutely no way you can look at the turn of events from February when Senate Bill 5 was introduced to today and not conclude that labor has already won.  John Kasich is on his knees begging, publicly even, that people forget the past seven months and cut him a deal that frees him from the blame of the divisive political war that he started with SB 5.

John Kasich told Republican audiences he’d break the backs of teacher unions.   Today, it looked the other way around.

Repeal, Then Deal: How Labor Broke Kasich’s Back, Pt. 2

Here’s some reaction from today’s press conference in which Governor Kasich offered to meet with labor leaders to discuss a compromise on SB 5.
First, the Governor:
"Just because we talk doesn’t mean we work it all out.” (talk about lowering expectations for a compromise out the gate.)
Senate Minority Leader Capri Cafaro (D-Hubbard):

“Governor Kasich and Republicans in the General Assembly have finally admitted that Senate Bill 5 went too far.   If they thought they could destroy collective bargaining in Ohio and get away with it, they have been proven wrong.  More than one million Ohioans have already sent a strong message that Senate Bill 5 should be repealed.
“The time to negotiate was during the legislative process, not 197 days after Senate Bill 5 was first introduced in the Ohio Senate.  Unfortunately, it has taken too long for the Governor and GOP leaders to acknowledge they overreached.”
State Senator Nina Turner (D-Cleveland):

I am utterly perplexed as to why the Republicans have waited this long to come to the table.  After months of playing politics with peoples’ paychecks, their new-found spirit of compromise seems a bit late. The time for negotiation was in the spring but they refused to take part.  Instead, they jammed Senate Bill 5 through the legislature.  They even ignored the advice of their own Republican members in refusing to compromise as they steamrolled the hard working people of Ohio.  Now, 4 months and 1.3 million signatures later, they see the writing on the wall.” 

Ohio Republican Party Chairman Kevin DeWine:

“While the Ohio Republican Party stands solidly behind the reasonable reforms of Senate Bill 5, we urge Ohio labor leaders to join Governor John Kasich and our legislative leadership in heeding the public’s calls for setting aside political differences in our shared desire to guide our state toward prosperity.”  (We stand behind Issue 2…. way behind… like pushing it in front of the bus behind.)
We Are Ohio campaign statement:

“We’re glad that Governor Kasich and the other politicians who passed SB 5 are finally admitting this is a flawed bill,” said Melissa Fazekas, spokeswoman for We Are Ohio. “Just like the bill was flawed this approach to a compromise is flawed as well. Our message is clear. These same politicians who passed this law could repeal it and not thwart the will of the people. They should either repeal the entire bill or support our efforts and encourage a no vote on Issue 2.”
And here’s the response from the Building Better Ohio campaign and the Ohio Chamber of Commerce (which just endorsed Issue 2) and Shannon Jones:
Silence can be deafening.

Repeal And Then Deal: How Labor Broke John Kasich’s Back, Pt. 3


Thanks to John Kasich, the pro-SB 5 campaign cannot credibly say that SB 5 contains nothing but necessary reforms for Ohio.  Thanks to John Kasich, they can’t say the opposition to SB 5 is based entirely on “lies” by union bosses.
And thanks to John Kasich, the GOP is splintering before our very eyes.  Yes, I realize we saw the leader of the House and Senate stand with Kasich.  But think about this for a moment.
Let’s say you’re a Lynn Wachmann or John Adams true believer in SB 5 type.  You know, a crazy person  who cares more about the rights of fetuses than firefighters.
How do you feel about the legislative leadership publicly inviting labor to come to the table with them and negotiate a deal on SB 5?  Do you not remember how much Lynn flipped out over Kasich’s veto on the Lake Erie water bill?!?
Let say you’re from a more moderate wing of the party (or represent a swing district in Ohio) and your arm is still in the cast from all the twisting it got to get your vote.  Say, like spineless lying weasel Frank LaRose (who had three people associated with him insist that he doesn’t support SB 5… right before he voted for it.)  How do you feel after making the tough vote for this bill.  A vote that was politically difficult for you.  A vote that may cost you your political career only to see the very people who twisted your arm attempt to avoid political harm from that same vote by negotiating a last-minute compromise.
How does the Ohio GOP and Building a Better Ohio (wait, that’s redundant) raise money on Issue 2 while opening calling for a compromise?  We need SB 5… unless we can get labor to agree to a watered-down version instead.  That’s hardly a rallying message.
Go look at the front page for the We Are Ohio campaign.  It’s a fundraising solicitation.  Simple message.  The same conservatives who claim that the Democrats and labor cannot possibly win this election being a “Party of No” ironically forgot how John Boehner became Speaker.  (In fact, his biggest problem as Speaker was to get his own caucus to stop always being the Party of No.)

For a one-day p.r. stunt, John Kasich has weakened the foundation for Issue 2, created resent in his relationship with members of his own party in the legislature, and looks like a weak leader desperate to claw back a massive overreach by an ideological and naive politician.
What’s a Republican facing re-election next year going to expect the next time the Kasich Administration asks them to take a politically tough vote for them? Pinkie swear after I make this vote if the heat gets too much for you you’ll publicly admit it was avoidable?!
John Kasich can expect several f’ yous the next time he comes calling.  Good luck with that turnpike privatization now, pal.
They can deny all they want that this has nothing to do with the fact that Issue 2 looks like it’s going to be defeated, leading to SB 5’s repeal, but nobody is buying it.  Not when the difference between the repeal side has a TWENTY-FOUR point lead.
We’ve heard all sorts of crazy rumors shaking out today.  Mostly, that Building a Better Ohio’s fundraising has been shockingly poor.  We can’t confirm because Building a Better Ohio, by legal design, has organized itself to avoid having to report as regularly and as transparently as We Are Ohio… this from the same campaign that asserts unions oppose public transparency in labor negotiations.
Even in discussing a compromise, Kasich shows how weak his own commitment to the provisions of SB 5 are. Under SB 5, such negotiations are supposed to be transparent, right?  Under SB 5, who gets the final say when labor and the management in government can’t agree on the issues?  Voters.
Not even SB 5 says voters only get their say so long as they side with Kasich.  What amazes me in this coverage is the traditional media who seem to want to fault labor for having this referendum vote.  It’s like they just realized in the past two weeks that there was this referendum issue, even though labor warned about this very public political fight the moment SB 5 was done.  Kasich said, “Bring It” until he realized too late that it was already brought.

Today’s event is more about Kasich’s faceplant on SB 5.  Or how his ham-fisted attempt to appear “reasonable” is really being seen as a weak, beaten shell of man.  It has impact well beyond SB 5.  Kasich spent considerable political capital on SB 5.
And for what?  The hope that a long-shot attempt to make labor look bad with a half-hearted public attempt to invite a compromise saves SB 5? That “plan,” if you call that only works if your base believes you never really meant to compromise and the moderate segment believes you did.  Was it worth it?  Kasich clearly thinks it’s not now.
But this was hardly third-dimensional chess.  We Are Ohio put Kasich right into checkmate by saying if the bill is repealed they’ll talk.  It’s hardly an unreasonable request, especially since most Ohioans want this bill repealed.  Wily E. Coyote had better designed traps than what Kasich attempted to lay in a p.r. move today.
And you can’t look at the recalls in Wisconsin and not see that Kasich sees move here.
There’s been a lot of talk about conservatives how the Wisconsin recalls were somehow a massive labor failure.  But two Republicans were recalled a year after the GOP showed massive successes in the State on essentially nothing more than voting to curtail collective bargaining rights.  The State Senate nearly flipped on nothing more than this issue.  Recalls are rarely successful, especially when it’s based on more than a person’s political vote.
Now, what the conservatives (and a lazy media) fail to acknowledge is that the Republican Party tried to do recall three Democratic State Senators in swing districts.  They targeted them for leaving the State to deny the Senate the quorum able to pass Walker’s anti-collective bargaining platform. 
How’d they do?  0-3.  They weren’t even close.  The Republicans said they would make the Senators who fled the State pay, labeled them essentially traitors to the State and their constituents.  Voters yawned and overwhelmingly voted to keep them in office.  Labor didn’t spend millions in Wisconsin in a vacuum.  There was another side equally spending millions.

Let’s also keep something else in perspective.  Opposition to SB 5 is still growing according to the most recent Quinnipiac Poll.  There’s no way Kasich did this unless Building a Better Ohio saw some horrible poll numbers for them.  Maybe a focus group expressed frustration with the Republicans refusal to try to reach a bipartisan compromise or something.  You would have expected, if you were a Republican, that the temperature would have cooled off by now.  Clearly, it hasn’t.

But this is like catching a guy in your home stealing your television.  With your gun in your hand and the click of the hammer pulled back, the thief looks up at you stunned he was caught.  He then offers you $50 for the television and then acts like you’re the prick if you don’t accept his offer.
Kasich thought he could become politically more powerful if he could just burn down the house of labor.  He used all his political capital as a new Governor as kindling.  Only problem is that he burned down his own house instead.  These mistakes sometimes happen to people who have more than one home.

The Cottage Industry Of Republican Consultants Trying To Negotiate A Deal On SB 5 

Earlier today, I received a call from Ohio Democratic Party Chairman Chris Redfern.  He told me on Monday Columbus Dispatch reporter Joe Vardon who reported on the “SB 5 compromise” story on Tuesday called him to ask him to respond to rumors that Kasich had reached out to Redfern at the Ohio Democratic Party about reaching a deal on Senate Bill 5.

M.E.: “And after you regained consciousness from laughing all the air out of your lungs, what did you tell him.”
An animated Redfern said it was categorically untrue that anyone had reached out to the Ohio Democratic Party to reach a deal, and if any would have approached him… well, let’s just say they’d get the Dick Cheney Wal Mart greeter treatment: 

The next day the Dispatch reported the same story with the Ohio AFL-CIO replacing ODP.  That’s how ridiculous this whole “SB 5 compromise” story has gotten.

Governor John Kasich has created a whole new industry in Ohio: Republican consultants specializing in failed attempts to get labor to reach a deal on SB 5 before voters get a chance to cast a ballot on Issue 2. 
In reaction to the overwhelming response of last night’s story about Mike Curtin and Kurt Steiner and their role behind the Dispatch’s phony SB 5 “compromise” meme, we’ve heard from multiple sources that they weren’t the only ones.  Former House Speaker Jo Ann Davidson and Chan Cochran have also reportedly reached out to Ohio’s labor union with trial balloons about reaching a last-minute compromise on Senate Bill 5 to avoid the need for a vote on Issue 2.

The ham handed way these attempts have been done is tragically laughable and shows just how desperate some are to make sure the people don’t get a vote on Issue 2 to repeal SB 5.
Chan Cochran is a former Rhodes press secretary and runs a public policy public relations consultancy company.  He obviously took it on the chin economically when the Ohio Democrats stormed the statewide offices in 2006.  In other words, there’s a reason these consultants are frantically trying to get a deal to avoid Issue #2… and it’s their pocketbook.
You see, there is absolutely no evidence, none, that any of these attempts to get a compromise is coming from Governor Kasich’s Administration.  Instead, what we have is not unlike the situation in 2006 when the GOP legislative leadership told then gubernatorial candidate that they would pass a weaker legislative version of his TEL amendment if he would pull the TEL amendment off the ballot because the GOP legislators were getting blasted for the massive cuts to libraries and local governments Blackwell’s amendment would cause.

It’s political self-preservation time in GOP lobbyist land.  After just spending four years in the wilderness economically, some of these folks believe that a campaign and vote on Issue 2 could set the GOP back for years.  And when GOP political dominance in Ohio is a major assumption of your business plan, you’ll do crazy things to protect it.  Like make unauthorized clandestine attempts to get labor to settle with John Kasich when “We Are Ohio” is sitting on a solid lead in the polls three months out. 
When the people who making a living off of politics start taking matters in their own hands, this is a sign that Republicans have lost faith in the Building a Better Ohio to save Senate Bill 5 and avoid lasting damage to the Ohio Republican brand.

John Kasich Ruined The Ohio GOP Political In Eight Months As Well As It Took Bob Taft Eight Years, Folks.  Amazing.
The law restricts collective bargaining rights for more than 350,000 teachers, police officers, state employees and others. It bans public employee strikes and gets rid of automatic pay increases, replacing them with merit raises or performance pay.
It allows public worker unions to negotiate wages but not health care, sick time or pension benefits.
The measure was approved by the Republican-controlled state Legislature in March amid shouts and jeers from protesters in each chamber. Kasich, a first-term governor, signed it the same month, but it is blocked from taking effect until voters have their say.
His offer for a compromise came after a Wisconsin law limiting collective bargaining rights for most state employees prompted voters last week to recall two Republican state senators who supported it.
Kasich and his Republican colleagues argue the Ohio legislation will help city officials, school superintendents and others control their costs at a time when they, too, are feeling budget woes.
Opponents contend the collective bargaining restrictions are an unfair attack on public employee unions that had worked cooperatively with their government employers for decades.
They accuse lawmakers of exploiting a state budget crisis to pass a measure unpopular with a majority of Ohioans.
Wow. This is quite a climbdown for Ohio Gov. John Kasich, as reported by the Columbus Dispatch:
Gov. John Kasich pleaded with organized labor leaders today to compromise on Senate Bill 5 and cancel a fall referendum on the controversial bill that peels back public employee collective bargaining rights.
Kasich said avoiding a fight over state Issue 2 is in “best interest of everyone, including public employee unions.” He asked the unions to “set aside political agendas and past offenses.”
But We Are Ohio, the coalition that is leading the effort to overturn the collective bargaining law, reacted negatively almost immediately.
“They can repeal the entire bill or join us in voting no on Nov. 8,” said spokeswoman Melissa Fazekas….
Senate Democratic leader Capri Cafaro of Hubbard said in a statement:
“The time to negotiate was during the legislative process, not 197 days after Senate Bill 5 was first introduced in the Ohio Senate. Unfortunately, it has taken too long for the governor and GOP leaders to acknowledge they overreached.”
As the Cleveland Plain-Dealer notes, a record 1.3 million signatures were collected to put the repeal question on the ballot, several times the number legally required.
… The hard-charging Kasich, who prides himself on never wilting to outside pressures, especially from media, said he yielded this time to editorials in The Columbus Dispatch and The Plain Dealer that called for the two sides to sit down and talk.
… Kasich says his timing has nothing to do with efforts to repeal the law, or with a recent Quinnipiac poll that shows the measure being defeated by a double-digit margin.
“This is not an effort that is being put forward because we fear we’re going to lose,” Kasich said.
The Quinnipiac poll, released in late July, showed voters favoring a repeal of SB5, 56-to-32-percent — a 24 point margin.
I see where Kasich is also continuing to press forward with plans to privatize the Ohio Turnpike, a proposal that calls for a 50-year lease of the facility to private companies in return for an estimated $3 billion. The deal could have implications for a proposal here in Georgia to build privately operated toll lanes along I-75 and I-575.
The Ohio project is inspired by the example of neighboring Indiana. But as the Cleveland Plain Dealer notes:
In 2006 Indiana struck a $3.8 billion, 75-year lease for its 151-mile toll road with a foreign consortium. The money has helped fund a 10-year infrastructure project across the Hoosier State. Kasich looks to Indiana as an example to emulate.
But tolls along the Indiana turnpike have more than doubled in just five years, the upkeep of the toll road and its rest stops has been criticized, and the company that leased the turnpike is now in danger of defaulting on the loans used to acquire the Indiana Toll Road, according to the Financial Times.
– Jay Bookman
Red Neck Ohio: From Toledo!
“Sorry, but most of the criminality comes from unions these days. Until the rank and file get a handle on this violence and hatred coming from their fellows, they all will, must, be tarred with the same brush. After all, they are in tacit approval of the violence. If there are more law abiding members than there are criminals in unions, it’s about time they spoke up, ran for office in the union, and began to start acting like true Americans and not socialist thugs that are more interested in extortion and willing to resort to violence unless they get their way.

Sadly, there seems to be no way to be a union-lover and be a true American. Unionism is as anti-American as you can get. It is anti-capitalist, it is anti-individual freedom, it is pro-violence, and relies on un-democratic, collectivist means to their end.”

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