Want to see how a politician can, in an attempt to gain some short term public relations gain, cause himself long-term political harm?  Enter Governor Kasich who writes a ridiculous letter to We Are Ohio’s labor leaders demanding that they negotiate his surrender on Senate Bill 5 on Friday.

How ridiculous?

imageIt starts with the new theory that Ted Strickland was really the genesis of SB 5.  What they’re referring to is Budget Planning and Management Commission that the Republicans in the legislature insisted be created in Governor Strickland’s first budget.  Except there was never any bipartisan agreement in the Commission.  The Republicans issued their own report, as did the Democrats.  Guess which one had the language saying reform of Ohio’s 1983 law regulating government employment polices was “long overdue.”

Senator Shannon JonesYep, the Republicans’.  And guess who just happened to be one of the Republicans on the Commission who wrote this report?  Well, the head of the Republican delegation on the Commission was Shannon Jones… you know, the author of Senate Bill 5.  So… yeah.  Right of the gate, Kasich and the GOP legislative leaders are full of crap.

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Remember when we falsely accused protestors of literally pooping all over the Statehouse?  Or locking you out of the Statehouse?  Or when we refused to hear testimony from SB 5 opponents?  Or when Kasich dismissed the protests against Senate Bill 5?  Or removed members of our own party who didn’t support SB 5 from key committees?  Yeah, don’t.  Cause that’s all water under the bridge… to Kasich, Batchelder, and Niehaus.  So is Kasich calling a cop enforcing a law designed to protect officers an “idiot.”  Or Kasich saying to conservative radio talk show host Willie Cunningham on 700 WLW that he doesn’t need to listen to or meet with labor on SB 5?  Yeah, now he needs to.

image And that’s where Kasich’s lack of leadership really shines.  Note that the standard of what stays or goes in SB 5 is not the merit of the provision.  It’s no longer about “tools” for local governments, or reforms necessary for Ohio’s economic survival… the standard Kasich and the GOP legislative leadership lays down for what provisions stay or go in SB 5 is whatever the polls suggest is popular. 

So much for the notion that John Kasich cares only about doing what’s right, instead of doing what’s popular.  Now, Kasich is saying that SB 5 should be determined not on merits, but on whatever the public will simply tolerate the GOP doing.

Two weeks ago, the Build a Better Ohio campaign reported confidence that they had a path of victory.  They claimed that the only reason that SB 5 was unpopular was because union bosses were lying about the bill.  Governor Kasich has repeated the same thing more times than we can count.

Now, Kasich admits that there are provisions of this bill that are genuinely unpopular on their own.  That complicates the messaging for the pro-SB 5 campaign considerably.

Where was this concern about bitter political warfare from Kasich, Niehaus and Batchelder months ago?  Oh, that’s right… we’ve been told to forget that.

Here’s the starting point for any negotiations on a new SB 5:

Only by wiping the slate completely clean, only by starting with a blank sheet of paper, can any talks truly be productive.  The Governor is a fool to insist otherwise.  There is no way labor can allow SB 5 to be the vehicle of any compromise.  It has become too politically charged of a document.  If Kasich wants to have productive talks, the parties must begin on equal footing.

And here’s the reality that the Dispatch, Governor Kasich, Speaker Batchelder, and Senate President Niehaus refuse to admit.  They don’t need to cut a deal with labor to knock SB 5 off the ballot.  They can knock SB 5 off the ballot on their own, without labor’s consent.  All it takes for them to do is to repeal the bill and start over.  Do that, and We Are Ohio would have no choice but to pull Issue 2 on the ballot.

There’s no way that you can have a vote to repeal a bill that has already been repealed.  There’s no point in We Are Ohio in keeping Issue 2 on the ballot if the General Assembly has repealed the bill.  Ironically, at the municipal level, the Ohio Revised Code makes it clear that if the legislative authority repeals an ordinance subject to a referendum before the vote there should be no vote on the referendum.  Ohio’s Revised Code has no express provision for referendum of state laws, but the principle should be the same.

If John Kasich and the GOP leadership was genuinely interested in a bipartisan compromise on SB 5, they’d repeal the bill.  Instead, Kasich is mandating a meeting with no promise of success.  It’s a closed door meeting, ironically, at the insistence of a Governor who claims one of SB 5’s greatest features is giving more transparency in negotiations with labor unions.  Not invited to the talks:  the press, the people, or a single Democratic member of the state legislature.

But Governor Kasich isn’t genuinely serious about a deal.  He’s doing this all for a public relations boost.  He said so himself:

"Just because we talk doesn’t mean we work it all out.”—Governor John Kasich [Source: Associated Press]

Think about that for a moment.  Kasich wants a deal but behind closed doors with a special interest group in which not a single elected Democratic legislator is allowed to participate.

There is absolutely no way you can look at the turn of events from February when Senate Bill 5 was introduced to today and not conclude that labor has already won.  John Kasich is on his knees begging, publicly even, that people forget the past seven months and cut him a deal that frees him from the blame of the divisive political war that he started with SB 5.

John Kasich told Republican audiences he’d break the backs of teacher unions.   Today, it looked the other way around.

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