On his first day of office, Governor Kasich mailed a letter with a copy of his Inauguration Speech attached to every State employee. In that letter, Kasich pledged:
We are going to help Ohio get back on track and we are going to do it by working together. As I said in my inaugural speech, which is attached, I believe very strongly that our only shot at success is to harness the combined energy, commitment, creativity and hard work of people from every corner of Ohio.
Our most important goal as the employees of the people of this great state is to help revive the economy so our neighbors can get back on their feet. We are up to the challenge because we are Ohioans. Together we can do it.
Little did anyone realize that this would mark the high water mark of Kasich’s personal relationship with State employees for the next 100 days.
Our most popular post in the first 100 days was Joseph’s post about Kasich giving his closest political aides–those coming directly from the campaign–massive raises compared to their counterparts in the Strickland Administration, while slashing the salaries of the lower level staff in the Governor’s office. As a result, several of Kasich’s campaign staffers get starting salaries higher than the Governor himself.
Kasich responds to our story by first (falsely) suggesting we were lying about the authenticity of the budget document we got from the Office of Budget and Management, and then by suggesting that Kasich needed to pay these higher salaries to keep these folks from going to private sector. Problem is, most of them have avoided the private sector like the plague their entire adult working life, much like Kasich has. The Dispatch later reports that Kasich continued the same pattern with his Cabinet, giving his closest political allies, like Mary Taylor and OBM Director Tim Keen, massive raises over their counterparts in the Strickland Administration. All of this has papers questioning Kasich over the double standard of his rhetoric against public unions and his treatment of his closest political aides.
But before we can even get to SB 5, we have to revisit Kasich’s first week in office and the Ohio EPA permit. In his first week in office, Governor Kasich is embarrassed by the Columbus Dispatch when it reports that the Administration’s claims that it cleared up a clean air permit within a day after it languished for 20 months was… well untrue, citing unnamed Ohio EPA employees as sources that the permit had already been prepared for execution by the Strickland Administration, but wasn’t prepared in time before the change of Administrations.
Kasich’s reaction to being misled by his own Cabinet director into unfairly attacking the dedication and vision of his employees was well reasoned and proportionate… nah, I’m kidding—he spent over $5,000 in taxpayer money to bus every Ohio EPA employee to Columbus for a Saturday meeting in which he and other Administration officials marched in and declared:
“You got a problem, come and see me. Come and see the director,” Kasich urged the crowd. “Be big enough to come in and confront me.”
Mind you, this is just the following week after he sent the letter I referenced at the beginning of the post. Oh, and this happened, too:
Three years after the fact, Governor Kasich cannot think about a minor traffic ticket without calling the officer an “idiot” repeatedly.
These events, these first two weeks of the Kasich Administration, become the backdrop for Kasich to begin the push for SB 5, collective bargaining “reform.”
SB 5 was railroaded through the State Senate in three weeks. The Senate GOP had to play so many games with the committee assignments that it drew a rebuke even from a Tea Party leader who supports SB 5 and was organizing counterprotests for it , the conservative Cincinnati Enquirer, and some guy named Lawrence O’Donnell.
Oh, yeah, and this happened, too:
What some had assumed would be a quick and effortless passage in the Senate that would make Shannon Jones destined for statewide political office eked by with a one-vote margin… that was heavily coerced according to Senator Karen Gillmor. Meanwhile, so rushed was the timetable to get something passed in order to avoid a potential Nov. ‘12 referendum vote, the Republicans in the General Assembly find themselves painted into a corner over what to replace binding arbitration. In the end, they essentially settle for the same unworkable “solution” that was passed by the House, handing the opponents of SB 5 yet another club to use in their referendum bag of weapons against the bill.
Crowds larger than we saw with the Tea Party gathered to protest in what was truly a bipartisan showing of mass opposition to SB 5. As proponents of SB 5 continued to publicly declare that there was a “silent majority” in favor of SB5, even one of the most conservative pollsters in America found that a decided majority of Ohioans can’t wait to repeal SB 5 this November.
Never before has a first-term Governor seen such widespread and open opposition to his agenda. If SB 5 is defeated in November, it will be the first time (I believe) in Ohio history in which voters rejected a major legislative initiative of a first-term Governor within his or her first year in office.
Who’s the idiot now?