You have to wonder whether the Cleveland Plain Dealer‘s endorsement of Issue 2 has compromised its PolitiFact service as an objective arbitrator of factual claims in politics.  Until today, the only claims it has examined by Issue 2 supporters was whether Mayor Bell lost his job as a firefighter temporarily in the 1980s, a claim that nobody disputed, and whether Issue 2 would save money (a claim that has only been opposed based on the fact that we don’t know how much wages will be increased in bargaining to offset losses in benefits… a criticism that the Plain Dealer said was a valid caveat, and yet still rated it as “Mostly True” when similar caveats by We Are Ohio’s claims have resulted in “Mostly False” ratings.)

Today, the Plain Dealer‘s PolitiFact examined State Auditor Dave Yost’s claim: “The city of Columbus would save $41 million a year if employees had to contribute to their own, guaranteed-check pensions.”

How does Yost reach that figure?  Well, the Plain Dealer reports that Yost based it on a Columbus Dispatch article before the bill passed that analyzed what the fiscal impact of the bill would be if its provisions were in force today.  The assumption being that the ban of pension pickups was already in force.  If that were the case, the Plain Dealer finds that the figure is much lower because under Mayor Coleman, the city is expecting its union employees to contribute to their pensions.  In other words, the City of Columbus already requires them this year to contribute to their pensions, but at a much smaller saving since it’s not a total ban on a pickup yet.

But that’s not all.  The Plain Dealer glosses over the biggest fallacy in the Dispatch‘s and Yost’s claim.  Assume for the moment that SB 5 was signed into law and there was no referendum and it was in full force today.  Do you know how much the City of Columbus would save on pension pickups this year?  Nothing.  Not a penny.  Why?  Because under its express terms, SB 5’s ban on pension pickups and other common terms in collective bargaining agreements does not affect collective bargaining agreements already in place when the law became effective.

According to the Plain Dealer‘s own PolitiFact column:

Columbus picks up a portion of employee pension contributions under contracts with six unions. Topping the list are workers represented by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. They receive a 9 percent pickup, according to numbers Williamson shared. Workers in three other unions get an 8 percent pickup, one union gets 6.5 percent and another 5.5 percent.

The only way you get the $40 million in savings for every year is that you first have to presume that SB 5 is in effect and then you have to ignore the provision of SB 5 that says none of its terms are effective against existing collective bargaining agreements.  In other words, you suspend all reality. 

Since this point is being made as to why Issue 2 should not be defeated, it would seem relevant to point out that these claimed savings are entirely a political fantasy as they will not be achieved even if Issue 2 is not defeated in November.  Omitting that the validity of Yost’s claim about pension pickups in Columbus has no real bearing on Issue 2 is a shockingly flaw of omission in the Plain Dealer‘s “analysis” of the claim.

And that brings me to my larger point that the Cleveland Plain Dealer glossed over, the City of Columbus is already seeing savings in weaning pensions pickups in its collective bargaining agreements already within the construct of existing labor law.  Issue 2 is unnecessary to force this to happen as it’s occurring on its own.

By the Plain Dealer‘s own reporting, a person if presented the full facts on Issue 2 will realize that the City of Columbus will save no more money if it is passed and has already worked with its labor unions to ween the practice of pension pickups.  That’s what a full, factual analysis of Yost’s claims should have objectively concluded.  Now, it’s up to the Cleveland Plain Dealer to explain why it didn’t, and why anyone should view its PolitiFact service as truly objective.

  • Anonymous

    The Plain Nothing.
    Ever a bastion of disingenuity and intellectual dishonesty, that like Faux Noise, touts itself as fair and balanced.
    And they wonder why newspapers are a dying breed.

  • Anonymous

    Yes, Politi”Fact’ is very skewed to the right and has been for a long time. For instance, it rated Sherrod Brown’s  campaign “pants on fire” for saying that Josh “The Empty Suit” Mandel wanted to end Medicare. It’s hard to take the feature seriously anymore, because the Plainly Republican very selective in what “facts” it chooses to give weight to.

    By the way, the auditor’s name is Dave Yost, not Jim Yost.

  • Anonymous

    Whoops, corrected that.  Thanks, Anastasia.

  • what a good post! thanks a lot!

  • TDOhio

    PolitiFact Ohio is a joke. I rate it Half True, it is about Politics, but they don’t deal in facts, just their interpretation of the “facts.”  It has been significantly compromise by the PD reporters.  On Issue 2 specifically, they have selected items to rate that can be interpreted according to the bias of the paper and the reporter.  Thus far they have rated Pro-Issue 2 positively on all but one occasion, and Anti-Issue 2 posts in a negative light on all but one occasion.  It is not a coincidence that the PD supported Issue 2!  Also, the arrogance of the reporters is amazing, they refuse to respond to e-mails that challenge their facts, interpretation and/or bias.  They are clearly only accountable to their corporate bosses.

  • You know, I’m surprised that The Plain Dealer hasn’t stuck it’s finger in the air on this one. Even The Columbus Dispatch is writing (almost) fair and balanced (that’s the Webster’s, not Murdochs definition) articles about Issue 2. Methinks The Dispatch sees the writing on the wall.

  • Anonymous

    Politi-fact is a gimmick to get more people to read. Anything in the CPD is a lie unless there is some hard evidence like a pic.

    PolitiFact = politliar.

  • Anonymous

    The most hilarious “fact” ever printed in the Plainly Republican was when they said of Kasich “he has no time for divisive hot-button tactics.”

  • Anonymous

    The auditor’s name SHOULD be “David Pepper.” I can see why you’d want to shove this Tea Party clown as far out of your line of sight as possible.

  • N. F.

    Ohio Auditor Yost is just another Republican stooge without any real world experience except being a political hack. 

    It’s far cheaper for employers to fund retirement than it is to for the employer to give a cash equivalent raise to their employees.

    The dollar amount that an employer pays in indirect benefits, to fund the pension pickups, is not subject to the employer’s tax and fee burden, e.g., workers comp,  unemployment, local municipal taxes, the federal F.I.C.A. stuff  – all of this stuff is picked up and paid by employers based on the dollar amount of the actual payroll by employers.  Also, the employees taxes are lower since their income – for tax purposes – is lower.

    If any of the Ohio Republican morons had any real worlsd experience actually making a payroll and paying employer taxers while dealing with large numbers of employees they might be able to understand.  Yost, like most of the the rest of them, has little to no experience in actually doing what they are regulating and legislating.

    In Yost’s home county (Delaware ); the clerk of courts owes about a third of  million in IRS liens and the State Rep (Brenner) is the vice-president of his small business with his wife that owes about $70,000 in employer payroll taxes (now liens)to the IRS going back to March of 2010. 

    The Ohio GOP no skill, no experience, and little intellectual heft, just greed and politics at the expense of Ohio’s population and future.

  • Anonymous

    LOL…. Thanks again, Anastasia.

  • Anonymous

    Tea Party people call the Plain Dull a “Librul newspaper”


  • An acquaintance who is a GOP lobbyist cited Politifact in regards to one of We Are Ohio’s recent ads.  I looked through Politifact, realized that Politifact has John Kasich telling a fib over half the time, and then wondered if Politifact was always reliable and John Kasich was more likely to lie than to tell the truth, or if they were full of shit.  Of course, he then shifted the conversation.

    Why does a newspaper need a special section dedicated to calling politicians on their BS?  Does this ever get run in the paper?  I thought that’s what normal journalism was supposed to be.

  • I found lots of interesting information here.

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