Here’s the state of Kasich on diversity in January:

“We pick people on the basis of who’s qualified.  We don’t pick them on the basis of quotas.  I mean I think quotas are yesterday.” Governor Kasich (01/02/11).

Back then, suggesting that Governor Kasich needed to have diversity in his Administration was akin, to him, to demanding that he engaged in illegal quota hiring. 

But last week, Governor Kasich called the diversity dust up one of his biggest regrets in his first 100 days: (Source: Marc Kovac @ Ohio Capitol Blog):

Then, late last week, Governor Kasich announced at a bill signing ceremony that he intends to push the State to do more to fulfill its goal of setting aside 15% of all State contracts to minority-owned businesses:

Kasich said he directed his cabinet to help the state meet the requirements of a state law that says 15 percent of Ohio’s spending on goods and services – construction contracts are exempted – should go to minority-owned businesses.

“He’d probably want a re-do on saying that,” said Kevin McDermott, a partner in the Columbus law firm Schottenstein Zox & Dunn who argued and won a 1998 federal case against Ohio’s construction set-asides. “People may not appreciate the legal ramifications of (Kasich’s) words, but set-asides have been frowned upon by the courts for a long time.”

The Ohio Supreme Court upheld the state’s set-aside program for goods and services, but McDermott thinks that it would be overturned in a federal court. [Source: Columbus Dispatch (04/22/11).

Of course, as often is the case with Kasich, he’s rhetoric seems deeply at odds with his budget.  As Clips & Comments noted a month ago, Kasich’s budget slashes funding for these minority and female-owned business programs by more than half.   As Pelikan noted in C&C, Governor Strickland signed an Executive Order in 2008 designed to promote the use of minority and female-owned vendors in state government contracts and began a reporting mechanism to see how well the various State agencies were doing it meeting the 15% goal.  By the end of his term, the Strickland Administration’s record was a mixed bag with only a third of his Cabinet agencies hitting the mandate for MBE vendors and a little over half of the Cabinet agencies hitting the goal for EDGE vendors.

Still, as a result of that executive order, state spending with such businesses increased from $95 million in FY 2008 to $403 million by FY 2010, an over four-fold increase.  Nonetheless, that didn’t stop at least one African-American business owners who sought State contracts from organizing a stock photo laden website called “BlackOut 2010” that called on African-Americans to sit out the 2010 gubernatorial election.

The 15% set aside was part of HB 584 that was signed into law by Governor Jim Rhodes in 1980.  And the reality is that since then the State of Ohio has never been closer to meeting the mandate than it was during Governor Strickland’s term.  We’ll see if somehow Kasich can do better despite the fact that he’s slashing the funding for the offices charged with overseeing compliance with these mandates.  And on this issue, we should fully support Governor Kasich.

Yes, you read that right.  We all must support Governor Kasich on this front or else the criticism over his lack diversity sounds like nothing more than meaningless partisan sniping.  Besides, we all know that there will be precious little support for the Governor within his own party on this front.  If, and I do mean if, Governor Kasich is serious about doing even better than Ted Strickland in meeting the minority/female-own business mandates in State contracting, then we must support him or else he can abandon them for lack of popular support.  Supporting Kasich, though, also means holding him accountable, such as questioning how he will do a better job if his budget calls in cutting over half the budget for the relevant agencies.

Not everything Kasich is doing is inherently evil, partisan, or wrong…just most of it.  For example, Governor Kasich has endorsed State Senator Bill Seitz’s (R-Cincinnati) sentencing reform platform and incorporated into his budget.  This would, among other things, finally eliminate the racist disparity between how Ohio’s drug laws treat crack cocaine possession compared to powder cocaine possession.  The sentencing reforms in the Governor’s budget is definitely a good thing from a progressive perspective as is the Governor’s promise to do more to make Ohio meet the minority business set aside mandate.

Those of you (not me) who support gun control laws would be happy to know that Governor Kasich was likely behind the mysterious end to consideration of laws that would allow a Carry Concealed Weapon (CCW) permit holder to carry a concealed weapon inside restaurants and bars where alcohol is served.

Do these things negate SB 5, Kasich’s economic policies, JobsOhio, or the draconian and unprecedented executive power grabs in the budget?  Not for me, and probably not for you.  But we’d be doing a real disservice if we didn’t take time to acknowledge the areas in which we can agree with the Governor and support him as he takes positions that go against what many in his party believe.

  • Fotogirlcb2002

    Yes this has been an issue for years ,,however most Ohio agencies do their best to conform to the 15% –Odot has done a great job meeting the requirements
    I hate to be a doubting Thomas but I wonder if this wasnt a law would he be fair about it –I think not ……..

  • Anonymous

    good story, it shows character when you can admit the other guy is doing something right.

    Too bad there are so many Ohoians who just blindly accept whatever their side tells them, regardless of if it is the right thing to do or not.

  • Guest

    Doubtful, because at his core he is evil. That includes being a misanthrope. His being a racist is included in his portfolio.

    I will cut him slack on the gun issue.

    He also want to pick and choose what laws he enforces or what part of our state gets funding. His dictatorship is arbitrary. like most dictators. Saying he wants to do something and doing it and proving it are each different. That is the mindset of the oppressor. The oppressor doesn’t get to say that he isn’t oppressing any more. The oppressor has to prove it. Then,”We” the oppressed decide that.

    To paraphrase George Orwell “Some animals are more equal than others”. True then; true now.

  • Rep. W .Carlton Weddington

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: APRIL 26, 2011

    Contact: Tamara Howard, Legislative Aide (614) 466-5343

    Statement from Rep. W. Carlton Weddington on Governor’s Remarks Regarding Minority-Owned Businesses

    COLUMBUS- Today State Representative W. Carlton Weddington (D-Columbus) released the following statement in response to Governor Kasich’s recent comments regarding the state more aggressively pursuing goods and services provided by minority-owned businesses:

    “Leadership begins at the top. Governor Kasich should have been showing he cares about including ethnic minorities by increasing their leadership roles within his own cabinet and state departments. But, he didn’t. Talk is cheap. Real action is what is needed. It is time for Governor Kasich to show a level of business acumen by embracing diversity and bringing people to the table who really know about increasing minority-owned business relationships with the state, something it appears his current confidants are not doing. I would be willing to help him if he asked and I am quite sure other members of the Ohio Legislative Black Caucus (OLBC) would be happy to lend a hand as we represent the majority of those minority-owned businesses seeking contracts with the state. I call on the Governor to do what the current law states and further commit through an executive order to reach the requirement of 15 percent of state spending on goods and services to minority-owned business and to continue to monitor this progress with quarterly reports. He should aggressively seek outstanding minority business throughout Ohio, the country and globally. If Ohio is truly open for business then it should be open for all Ohioans and if we are going to be leaders among the states, let’s attract businesses from countries around the world who are ready to do business with Ohio, like Brazil or Caribbean nations, or for that matter African nations. The Governor needs to put action behind the words he’s saying by not only supporting minority-owned businesses, but also by ending the disproportionate impacts to urban and minority communities in regards to education, access to quality healthcare, jobs and development within his current budget proposal.

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