When Ted Strickland appointed Marsha Ryan to head the Bureau of Workers Compensation he put a well-respected leader with many years of public and private sector experience (most recently vice president for customer operations for American Electric Power ) at the top of an organization nationally known for scandals and mismanagement (Tom Noe, Coingate, etc.)

Those scandals were the culmination of a lot of bad choices that were never called into question because Republican’s controlled the entire state. Excessive campaign contributions by questionable people with shady and often unethical goals eventually led to a 1996 law passed by the Republican-controlled General Assembly allowing state government entities like the BWC to make risky investments in the companies controlled by these big donors.

You’d think we would have learned our lesson about bad leadership choices and excessive privatization. But after Ms. Ryan resigned last week, and Kasich announced his choice for her replacement, I have this sickening feeling that we’re headed back in that direction.

Today Governor-Elect Kasich will announce that he’s planning to appoint State Senator Steve Buehrer to head up the Bureau of Workers Compensation and I thought we all deserved a quick overview of Buehrer’s legislative “successes”…

In 2005 he introduced a bill (HB 188) that would have prevented “the State of Ohio and it’s various agencies from providing ‘e-services’ if two or more private-sector business exist that provide the same information.” ODOT, Health and, of course BWC were included in the list. And if the agencies did provide valuable information like traffic reports or tax help online? Well the bill would have allowed those companies “to sue the state and collect damages.”

He’s also the guy who had the bright idea to shrink the size of the State Highway Patrol by establishing the Mission Review Task Force which “was established to review the operations and functions of the State Highway Patrol to explore opportunities to improve operational efficiency, identify overlapping services, and consolidate current operations.” I’m pretty sure nothing changed at the Patrol after months of hearings.

He was the guy who threw a fit in Senate Finance about how Governor Strickland’s proposals to raise fees in the budget constituted a tax increase even though he was also was the main sponsor of a bill to update regulation on telecom companies that introduced new, higher fees on consumers.

Beuhrer also sponsored a bill to “confirm the ten commandments as the moral underpinning of the state government of Ohio” and he co-sponsored Ohio House Bill 184, requiring school districts and community schools to display donated copies of the mottoes of the United States – “In God We Trust” – and Ohio – “With God, All Things Are Possible” – in school buildings.

But I think everyone’s absolute favorite piece of Buehrer legislation has to be the so-called Centaur bill that banned “animal-human hybrids”.

Based on Buehrer’s long and crazy list of legislation I think we can most certainly expect him to try to shrink the Bureau through privatization. I doubt highly that he’ll be able to save the state any money, though he might be able to direct some state dollars to his pals.

He might also try to get some God-related motto added to the Bureau’s letterhead and a big statue of the ten commandments displayed in front of every BWC office. Though I think he’ll be unable to accomplish these tasks either.

There is, however, one thing that I know for sure Steve Buehrer will accomplish at the BWC: absolutely no human-animal hybrids will EVER be sent a check if they are injured on the job.

 

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