Last night, the Columbus Dispatch confirmed just about every aspect of our own coverage of the attempt of “Building a Better Ohio” to surrender and attempt to reach a deal on a version SB 5 could live with.  The only aspect of the coverage it continues to refuse to recognize, of course, is former Dispatch COO/Associate Publisher Mike Curtin’s role in attempt these talks.

Here’s what the Dispatch has finally confirmed:

Sources said that in June, Ohio Education Association vice president William Leibensperger and AFL-CIO president Tim Burga met at least twice with former Republican Ohio House Speaker Jo Ann Davidson and Chan Cochran, a confidant of Gov. John Kasich’s.

Which is what we reported originally on Thursday.

The meetings were facilitated by Curt Steiner, a political consultant and former chief of staff for both Gov. George V. Voinovich and Davidson, and Michael Billirakis, a former president of the statewide teachers union.

“I just saw an opportunity to hit the reset button,” Steiner said, declining to confirm the meeting’s participants.

We originally reported on Steiner’s role on Wednesday.  Note, the story only says that they were “facilitated” by Steiner and Billirakis, who, I admit, I had not been told was informed.  But it does not address what we reported on Wednesday, which was the main push for these talks was coming from Mike Curtin.  We stand by our story because our sources continue to maintain this, and neither the Dispatch, nor any other outlet has actually said otherwise.

And there’s this major point, too:

Kasich spokesman Rob Nichols said Kasich would be interested in seeking a deal and that “the people at the table had the confidence of the administration.”

But Nichols also said Kasich did not initiate the June discussions.

In other words, the Dispatch’s newsroom on Friday confirmed what we wrote on Sunday: that the Dispatch’s editorial board was lying in claiming that Governor Kasich had made an offer to settle on SB 5 with labor.

I don’t need to talk to those people.”—Governor Kasich on 700 WLW when asked by conservative radio talk show host Willie Cunningham why he refused to meet with labor over SB 5.

If these talks did reflect the views of the Building a Better Ohio campaign, then according to the Dispatch, here’s what they have considered expendable provisions of SB 5 (i.e. “unnecessary ‘reforms.’”)

  1. Getting rid of binding arbitration entirely and instead modifying binding arbitration;
  2. The return of all non-public safety employees to have the right to strike;
  3. The ban on “fair share” contributions would be lifted;
  4. Republicans also might have been willing to hedge on a provision of Senate Bill 5 that outlaws seniority as a determining factor for layoffs’;
  5. Other economic issues such as merit pay and non-economic factors such as the education reforms included in the bill were on the table as well.

In other words, this supposed deal included what Governor Kasich had called all the way back in December 2010 the “must haves” of collective bargaining reform.  The Dispatch, amazingly (or not), never gets Kasich or his spokesman Rob Nichols to specifically state whether they had actually signed off on the framework of such a deal!  A deal that would be DOA among the House Republicans who added many of these provisions (such as the “fair share” ban) at the insistence of Americans for Prosperity.

And what was the leverage being used against these two labor leaders to encourage them to do a deal?

Steiner and Billirakis both forecast a bruising fall campaign that might not end after the referendum, predicting a Republican attempt to re-institute Senate Bill 5’s provisions piecemeal in future legislation even if Ohio voters defeat it in November.

“It makes sense that we try to negotiate and put something in place now because, if the referendum is successful, I assume there are going to be attempts to start passing parts of it piecemeal, and this could go on forever,” said Sen. Kevin Bacon, R-Minerva Park, who was closely involved in the passage of Senate Bill 5.

The threat was that the GOP legislature might attempt to repass SB 5 piecemeal.  A threat that would still exist whether labor made a deal or not.  The participants from Building a Better Ohio honestly couldn’t credibly tell labor that if they made this deal the GOP legislature wouldn’t then try to move the ball back towards SB 5 in future legislation anyways.

So what would labor have gained from the deal except a bruising political fight?  Nothing.  They would have created a political precedent that the GOP can pass on a strict party-line vote horrible anti-union legislation while shutting them out of the process over bipartisan opposition, and then ultimately cave and accept some provisions with nothing more than a non-binding promise that the same Republican legislators won’t try to pass the bill again in the future if it’s repealed.

It’s nonsense.  There’s no real binding promise from the Republican side in these talks.  And if a majority of Ohioans rise up and strike this bill down only to have the GOP legislature turn around and attempt to repass portions of it again, then there won’t be a GOP legislature anymore.

I’m sorry, but despite how popular the GOP might think some provisions of this bill may be, they got to know that the public is not going to like hearing the legislature retackling an issue they just repealed.  It’s a bluff, whether the GOP knows it or not, it is.

But note when this all took place … back in June.  That means before the “We Are Ohio” campaign had even filed the signatures, there were Republican political consultants, fearful that SB 5 and a vote to repeal it might spell doom for the Republicans come 2012, already trying to negotiate their way out what Tom Niehaus, Kasich, and Batchelder all called the most important item on their legislative agenda before the budget.

I’ll admit I’m stunned just how much Building a Better Ohio supposedly was willing to gut SB 5, but they would have had to rely on Democratic support to make such a deal law because there’s no way this current Republican bunch in the General Assembly would pass this deal on their own.

It tells you how absolutely phony the supporters of SB 5 claims are that these provisions are all necessary.  Jo Ann Davidson is officially with the Building a Better Ohio campaign.  And yet, Joe Vardon of the Dispatch reported a month after these talks happened how Building a Better Ohio was “confident” that Ohioans would not repeal SB 5.  Then a week to the day of that story, the Dispatch’s editorial board mentions attempts to reach a deal on SB 5. 

And yet, here we are a week later, and the Dispatch refuses to acknowledge that which every other person who has read this has realized:  there is absolutely little confidence among SB 5 supporters that they can avoid its repeal.  The only thing they can say in response is to threat labor that the GOP won’t learn its lesson and will ignore the will of the voters.

Good luck with that, fellas.

  • Anonymous

    This whole backroom deal thing is incredible.  What I wish would happen now is that another media outlet, TV or newspaper, would cover the role of The Dispatch in this non-story.  The Dispatch is getting a free ride in Columbus because nobody other than Plunderbund is reporting on their shenanigans.  If you only read The Dispatch, it looks like the sides are meeting to stop the referendum, but Labor is being vindictive. 

    Please keep up the great work, PB.  You are needed now more than ever. 

  • Anonymous

    Hey, we’re a media outlet aren’t we?  It’s not ALL snark, all the time.

  • Anonymous

    Once again, Modern delivers the goods!  Did you notice the article did not say who initiated the meetings?  Seeing as how Columbus has one newspaper and they appear to be micromanaging this hardline Kasich/Republican agenda, I wonder how much more information is not getting out to the people?  Any suggestions as to how we can get more people informed about how the Dispatch is involved in these shady deals?

  • just saw the RIP HEADSTONES..HOW APPROPRIATE..

  • WHO? Very few are readn the Columbus Disgrace…or r payn any attention to it…hear that? ..its Democracy..n Justice..coming to a town near u..

  • The people know..n many arent reading the Disgrace..word of mouth..people r talkn about it everywhere..They r fed up…The Murdock..hackn n faux exposure surprised many but now r just sick of the lies/deceit..hittn their pocketbooks now..n the onslaught of bills, wisconsin, etc..debt ceiln..they r fed up..

  • Sluggo

    They are just trash talking now.  

    Let’s do a thought experiment.  Let’s imagine the poll numbers are reversed and there were barely enough signatures for referendum.  Raise your hand if you think that representatives from Building a Bitter Ohio would have a secret meeting to hatch out a deal. 

    I thought so.

    Now imagine that the meeting did result in a deal.  In the midst of gathering over a million signatures (the unofficial figures in early June were well over 800k) and after all the white hot hate rained down on the unions from Kasich and the Republicans, two union officers are supposed to come back to their membership with a deal that can’t be enforced and gives up all their leverage?

    Kasich, who has shown himself to be nothing but spiteful toward those he perceives as enemies regardless of party, who has taken every opportunity to tout how necessary SB5 is locally and nationally, who told the party faithful he was going to “break the backs of unions in public schools”, is going to sign a bill repealing SB5 and publicly congratulate the unions  on their willingness to be reasonable?  Really?

    If the unions don’t agree and SB5 loses as both sides expect, then the Republicans are going to come back and spite the voters by passing parts of an unpopular bill piecemeal?  Only if they are political suicide bombers.

    These guys make Hedley Lamarr look like a genius.

  • Sluggo

    They are just trash talking now.  

    Let’s do a thought experiment.  Let’s imagine the poll numbers are reversed and there were barely enough signatures for referendum.  Raise your hand if you think that representatives from Building a Bitter Ohio would have a secret meeting to hatch out a deal. 

    I thought so.

    Now imagine that the meeting did result in a deal.  In the midst of gathering over a million signatures (the unofficial figures in early June were well over 800k) and after all the white hot hate rained down on the unions from Kasich and the Republicans, two union officers are supposed to come back to their membership with a deal that can’t be enforced and gives up all their leverage?

    Kasich, who has shown himself to be nothing but spiteful toward those he perceives as enemies regardless of party, who has taken every opportunity to tout how necessary SB5 is locally and nationally, who told the party faithful he was going to “break the backs of unions in public schools”, is going to sign a bill repealing SB5 and publicly congratulate the unions  on their willingness to be reasonable?  Really?

    If the unions don’t agree and SB5 loses as both sides expect, then the Republicans are going to come back and spite the voters by passing parts of an unpopular bill piecemeal?  Only if they are political suicide bombers.

    These guys make Hedley Lamarr look like a genius.

  • Sluggo

    They are just trash talking now.  

    Let’s do a thought experiment.  Let’s imagine the poll numbers are reversed and there were barely enough signatures for referendum.  Raise your hand if you think that representatives from Building a Bitter Ohio would have a secret meeting to hatch out a deal. 

    I thought so.

    Now imagine that the meeting did result in a deal.  In the midst of gathering over a million signatures (the unofficial figures in early June were well over 800k) and after all the white hot hate rained down on the unions from Kasich and the Republicans, two union officers are supposed to come back to their membership with a deal that can’t be enforced and gives up all their leverage?

    Kasich, who has shown himself to be nothing but spiteful toward those he perceives as enemies regardless of party, who has taken every opportunity to tout how necessary SB5 is locally and nationally, who told the party faithful he was going to “break the backs of unions in public schools”, is going to sign a bill repealing SB5 and publicly congratulate the unions  on their willingness to be reasonable?  Really?

    If the unions don’t agree and SB5 loses as both sides expect, then the Republicans are going to come back and spite the voters by passing parts of an unpopular bill piecemeal?  Only if they are political suicide bombers.

    These guys make Hedley Lamarr look like a genius.

  • A bruising political fight lasting long after the fall election? Yep.

    >:-)

  • Anonymous

    Too little, too late for the SB5 supporters.  Kasich and the pirates set the tone toward division before they were even elected, they will never be able to convince me that they want to repair the damage they have done or are contemplating doing.  There is no redemption for them or their plans and the only way to bring Buckeyes back together is to remove them from office and insure that they never get another opportunity like the present one again.  And the tea-baggers can go suck bay water through a soda straw, the wimps!
     

  • Anonymous

    Sorry, I was over at The Dispatch site commenting on how the “people” want to cut a deal on the SB5 referendum. 

    Anyway, Paula, I would say that a substantial number of people still read The Dispatch, unfortunately.  They have a monopoly on day-old news in this town and they also have coupons and cover OSU football.  So if you read them a few times a week or visit their site a few times, you’ll get a one-sided version of the truth and that’s all you’ll get.  Take it from me, a person who moved here from Chicago a few years ago.  It takes some time to find out the other venues out there for news and discussion in Columbus.  Heck, I’m still learning how to slow down to the pace of Ohio.

    And Mods, you should be cutting a deal with The Blade or WCMH or somebody and providing them content.   They may not have the feet on the street to do the job, but you do.  At the very least, Ch 4 should have a link to your site. 

  • This all seems to be political speculation and spin while trying to get what they want. Not going to work and I am not scared. Who in their right mind would want to continue to commit hairy carey with their political profession with parts and scrapes of SB5.  This is just nonsense talk hoping someone falls for it.

  • At the beginning of all this a neighbor around the corner had a tea bagger sign in their yard. They live only a few hundred feet from our middle school. When all this started to go down so did his sign. That says it all.

  • At the beginning of all this a neighbor around the corner had a tea bagger sign in their yard. They live only a few hundred feet from our middle school. When all this started to go down so did his sign. That says it all.

  • Hungry Coyote

    Apparently the republicans believe that compromise means getting 98% of what they want, let the voters decide in November.

  • Modern, I am curious if you know if Curtin actually attended 1 or more of those June meetings.  That would be the smoking gun and nail the involvement of the CD…Jim, Columbus 

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