If you need any further evidence that supporters of Senate Bill 5 are  becoming increasingly convinced that it will be repealed this November, enter today’s laughable editorial in the Columbus Dispatch (“Meet in the middle”)

We’ve heard this tune before.  We wrote about it back in June when Plain Dealer Kasich apologist Brent Larkin wrote the same thing.  If public polling didn’t show that 56% of Ohioans support repealing the bill, you wouldn’t see this nonsense coming out. 

But at least Brent Larkin admitted that it was Kasich’s heavy handed approach that doomed SB 5 from the start.  Guess who the Dispatch blames for the existence of Issue 2?  (Not John Kasich, but the unions):

“Gov. John Kasich previously has made overtures to union leaders for compromise, but so far, union leaders have not reciprocated.”—Columbus Dispatch editorial board, apparently while high or reporting from an alternate reality

Let’s cover the history of how we got here, again, since apparently the Dispatch has forgotten.  Here’s the record of John Kasich, the Compromiser:

  • March 2009: John Kasich tells the Ashtabula Republican Party that as Governor he wants to “break the backs” of teacher unions.  [Source: Columbus Dispatch]  The Kasich campaign did not shy away from the quote. Always a sign of a guy looking to strike a deal.
  • November 2010: Governor-elect Kasich, in his first press conference since winning the election, tells the media that his Administration will refuse to meet with teachers unions unless they first take out full-page ads apologizing to him publicly for what they said during the campaign about him.   What did they allege that Kasich said was false?  That he supported school consolidation and merit pay provisions for teachers, which Kasich has now pushed as Governor.

  • November 5, 2010: Governor Kasich tells a luncheon of lobbyists that people either get on board of the bus with him, or he’s going to run them over with it.  [Source: Columbus Dispatch “Kasich lays down the law to lobbyists.”]
  • December 2010:  For the first time ever, Governor-elect Kasich says he plans to push for collective bargaining reform that must (his word) outlaw all strikes, make going on strike a fireable offense, and prohibit binding arbitration.  In other words, what became what the Kasich Administration publicly declared the “must have” components of SB 5.

  • January 2011: State Senator Shannon Jones introduces a placeholder bill, assigned the name “Senate Bill 5.”  The entire substantive text of the bill states:  “It is the General Assembly’s intent that sections of the Revised Code be amended, enacted, or repealed to prohibit the state and state employees and state institutions of higher education and their employees from collectively bargaining, to abolish salary schedules for public employees and instead require merit pay, and to make various other changes to the Collective Bargaining Law.”
  • February 9, 2011:  Shannon Jones and the Senate GOP leadership unveils at the Senate Insurance, Commerce & Labor Committee the substantive text of Senate Bill 5.  Governor Kasich shows up at the committee hearing to give the bill his blessing… a rather unusual and highly visible way for a Governor to show his support for legislation.   The bill at this time takes all collective bargaining rights from state employees.  [Source: Columbus Dispatch, Dayton Daily News]
  • The next day, Governor Kasich addresses the Ohio Newspaper Association and informs them that if the Republican-controlled legislature doesn’t pass what he wants in SB 5, he’ll roll it into the state’s budget.  Everything Kasich delinates as “required” terms in Senate Bill 5 is in the bill when it eventually passes both houses and signed by Kasich months later.  In making his budget threat, it becomes clear in Columbus that Governor Kasich has set a deadline of getting the bill passed before the introduction of his budget in mid-March.
  • February 20, 2011: Ohio newspapers run editorials calling SB 5 an overreach and request that the legislature mend, but not end, public employee’s collective bargaining rights.  (Except for the Columbus Dispatch which gave an unqualified endorsement of the bill as drafted.)
  • April 6, 2011: Governor Kasich, in an obvious attempt to negotiate with labor over SB 5, comes out and publicly calls on the GOP legislature to re-incorporate parts of SB 5 into the budget (SB 5 Ep. II: Attack of the Clones) with the specific intent of frustrating organized labor’s referendum repeal effort.  The plan is abandoned after public outcry of over it… but not any from the Columbus Dispatch. [Source: Columbus Dispatch]
  • June 25, 2011: The Columbus Dispatch reports that the Kasich Administration is pushing for a scheme in which the SB 5 referendum is divided into multiple issues in the hopes that some of the components of it will survive a repeal referendum.  That plan is ultimately abandoned when attorneys from Secretary of State Jon Husted’s office, and then Husted himself, publicly says that such a plan is not permissible under Ohio law.

I’ve heard from more than one source that today’s push comes from Dispatch Associate Publisher Mike Curtin and former Voinovich press secretary Curt Steiner who pushed the “We Are Ohio” campaign with seeking to compromise with Kasich while the campaign was giving a presentation to Ohio Chamber of Commerce officials explaining to them why they should remain neutral on the issue.

It’s a completely made up story from the fevered imaginations of Curtin who hopes to see Kasich avoid a strong public rebuke in November.  There is absolutely nothing that Kasich has done to show that he attempted to reach a compromise with labor.  This whole idea of blaming labor for not reaching a “deal” to avoid this referendum issue is a political fiction.  There’s never been any attempt by Kasich at any point in this year to say he’d make a deal, nor has he done anything to demonstrate that he can be a trusted party in any such negotiation.

And yet, despite this seemingly impossible to ignore history by Kasich the Dispatch writes:

No matter which side wins the impending war over State Issue 2, the state will suffer deep and long-lasting wounds that will threaten its already fragile economy. At a minimum, labor-management relations will be set back years.

The referendum to keep or reject Ohio Senate Bill 5, the collective-bargaining-reform effort, will become a historic study in a avoidable tragedy.

Then the editorial goes on and suggests that “We Are Ohio” should consider working out such a compromise by August 30th.  Even though the legislature isn’t even in session, and there’s been nothing from Kasich suggesting he even wants a compromise.  Today’s Dispatch editorial suggests that if there is no compromise by the end of this month (even though there is no attempt by Kasich to make one), then it’s the fault of labor.  That’s preposterous. 

We Are Ohio” cannot possibly reach a deal with Kasich, make the legislature come back in session, introduce a bill, and get them passed through both houses of the General Assembly in the twenty-three days remaining. 

And Kasich has demonstrated by his actions throughout this mess that he cannot be trusted to negotiate in good faith.

But then the Dispatch gives another piece of political fiction:

In the former category, it is mathematically indisputable that Ohio’s taxpayers cannot continue to bear the runaway costs of public employees’ health-care and pension costs.

First, who has established that they are runaway costs?  Where’s the graphs?  The charts?  And nobody can show that taxpayers can’t bear it?  Even though John Kasich’s budget was able to meet these obligations without raising taxes or asking for a single concession by any bargaining unit? Kasich’s budget does not yet factor in SB 5.

Let’s recall that even under Governor Kasich’s own projections of the “savings” of Senate Bill 5 (that the author privately admitted in e-mails was indefensible) that it would only, at best, save the State $217 million a year.  While not exactly chump change, you also have to remember that this is a heavily politicized study created by the Kasich Administration to promote SB 5… and even their B.S. number is hardly within the realm of “mathematically indisputable” things Ohioans cannot afford.

Not when Kasich feels no qualms flying around the State on taxpayers expense four times as much as Strickland did in 2010, or when Kasich gives his top aides obscenely higher salaries than their counterparts in the Strickland Administration.  Or that Kasich lets countless members of his Cabinet and Administration double-dip.

Or that State Senator Kris Jordan and State Rep. Jarrod Martin can still collect a paycheck from the State.

It’s is absolutely absurd for the Dispatch to suggest that if Issue #2 goes to the ballot, it’s the unwillingness of labor to compromise.  It would have been helpful for the Dispatch to have been more critical of the process and content of Senate Bill 5 before it appeared to be doomed to repeal.

The reality is that the Dispatch and Kasich had no interest in compromising SB 5 when they thought they had all the votes that mattered (in the state legislature.)  And even when they didn’t, they could do things like toss Senator Bill Seitz off of a key committee rather than work with him to find acceptable legislative language.  But now, suddenly, they realize that they may not have the votes that matter after all.

Enjoy the ride, Dispatch.

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