Even in what should have been a crowning moment in his political career, Governor John Kasich looked absolutely miserable. And why not, he had what had to be one of the roughest transitions in memory for an Ohio Governor. Kasich was plagued by questions about transparency during his transition. By using a private corporation as his transition office, Kasich argued that those who applied for positions in his Administration was not subject to public records requests. He eventually relented.
Then, breaking with tradition, Kasich attempted to bar the media to his actual official midnight swearing-in, which had traditionally been reported by an Associated Press reporter providing pool coverage.
Our top (most read) post, perhaps for the year, was our original report that Kasich declared St. Patrick’s Day (in March) as Martin Luther King, Jr. Day in his first resolution as Governor:
As we spread news of Kasich’s gaffe, his office quickly tried to scrub the error, only to realize we had saved a copy of the erroneous resolution.
The resolution came at a time in which Governor Kasich was being criticized for the lack of diversity in his Cabinet. At the time, there were few women in his Cabinet, and even less racial minorities. This culminated in a meeting with the new Governor and the Ohio Legislative Black Caucus in which Senator Nina Turner reported that Kasich had told the legislators “I don’t need your people.” A Kasich spokesman later confirmed Turner’s account, but claimed the Governor meant help from Democrats, not African-Americans in general.
The second top story for us in January, and another top story for the year, was our story about how Governor-elect Kasich was planning on paying his staffers substantially more than their counterparts in the Strickland Administration. Kasich attempted to defend the salaries by pointing out he needed to pay more to attract people from going to the private sector. But then we pointed out that most of the people receiving the largest raises have avoided working in the private sector like it was the plague. Kasich would release a revised schedule that showed while top positions got raises, the lowest positions got large cuts.
In his first week in office, Kasich was busted by the Columbus Dispatch of grossly exaggerating the role of his Administration in issuing an air permit that it claimed languished under the Strickland Administration (in reality, the permit was approved and ready to be issued during the Strickland Administration.)
This all lead to Kasich beginning his term with one of the worst approval ratings for first-term Governors in Ohio history. (Spoiler alert: it didn’t get better for him.) Perhaps if Kasich had spent more time working on the issues that mattered to Ohioans as opposed to making sure ODOT’s cafeteria played Fox News.