It looks like Mr. big-Ideas, don’t-bother-me-with-silly-details Kasich is at it again. This time his lack of knowledge about state government and the budget process goes a step further when he actually threatens the Department of Corrections with severe budget cuts because he incorrectly believes they are whining, lacking ideas and leaking information to the press.
Ohio Capital Blog captured it all in this exchange between Bill Cohen and John Kasich:
(The prison discussion starts around 1:20 – but the intro is worth watching…)
The exchange starts when Bill Cohen asks Kasich about a recent report in which the Department of Corrections predicted that a 10% budget cut would require the state to close prisons and double-bunk inmates and might possibly lead to more prison violence.
Instead of admitting he has absolutely no information on the topic or knowledge of the situation Kasich acts annoyed and angry and starts attacking the Department as if the release of this information was a personal attack against him.
“Instead of people whining, why don’t they come and give us some ideas.” The rant turns sarcastic as Kasich makes a face and changes his voice (is that what he thinks Department of Corrections people sound/look like?): “oh everything is just great at the department of corrections”.
“Why don’t they come and make a suggestion? Because if they don’t want to make a suggestion“, he threatens, “we’ll write it for them.”
When Bill Cohen points out that the department has already endorsed a number of proposals to reduce the prison population Kasich interupts and says: “They ought to stop talking to the press and come talk to us.”
Here’s the thing about that: The Department of Corrections didn’t go to the press with this.
The Office of Budget and Management asked each department to make projections based on a potential 10% budget cut. As requested, the Department of Corrections made these projections and returned them to OBM (not to the press). And the Dispatch made a public records request for the information (something Kasich might want to familiarize himself with).
Not only did no one leak this information to the press, as Kasich accuses them of doing, according to the Dispatch, Kasich himself actually received the same information directly from the agency: “The dire warnings were among the initial budget estimates that state agencies were required to submit by yesterday to state legislative leaders and Republican Gov.-elect John Kasich.”
And regarding those suggestions that he was asking for? It turns out the department has been working on them for years.
Back during the last budget process the department put together a comprehensive sentencing reform proposal similiar to what Kasich rambles on about in this video. It was originally included in HB1 (the budget bill) but the legislature pulled out.
In addition, the state has been working on a year-long study with the Council on State Governments to look at ways to reduce the prison population. It will be up to Kasich to implement the recommendations from this study if he ever gets around to reading it.
In this video John Kasich seems to be quite surprised to find out that Bill Cohen knows more about an issue than he does. I don’t think anyone else is though. Bill Cohen does this for a living – and he’s pretty damn good at it too. It’s his job to know this stuff. One might argue that it’s John Kasich’s job too but, to be fair, he isn’t even governor yet – and he really hasn’t been engaged in any way in state politics in decades.
I can excuse him for not knowing everything that’s happened in a specific agency or around a certain issue. But it is very difficult to excuse him for being so rude and nasty and generally acting like a self-absorbed little kid by accusing an agency of not proposing solutions and of plotting behind his back to leak information to the press when, in actuality, they have already proposed tons of solutions, did not leak any information to the press, and sent the same information to him before it was published in the paper.
I can forgive Kasich for not being 100% up to speed on all of the issues the state is facing right now. But at the end of the day, that isn’t really his problem. Instead, Kasich seems to have all the traits of the absolute worst kind of leader: the person who doesn’t feel like he needs any information to make important decisions; the person who talks but never listens to the people who actually do have the necessary information; the person who uses threats as a way of compensating for his lack of knowledge.
For a guy who says he’s not out to make any enemies, he’s doing a pretty damn good job of it. And if he doesn’t change up his leaderships style soon – if he doesn’t start listening to the people who actually do know what they are talking about and stop threatening the people who are trying to help – he’s going to quickly find the budget process getting a hell of a lot more difficult.