The top (most read) post in August was Greg’s post that explained how over 6,000 teachers were going to be forced to retake the PRAXIS exam thanks to Governor Kasich and State Superintendant Stan Heffner, whom we filed a complaint against with the Ohio Ethics Commission because Heffner was advocating to the legislature this very teacher retesting policy… while planning to take a job with the company that administers the test and which stood to gain thousands in new revenue thanks to the policy.
The biggest story of the month was Kasich’s public relations stunt to leak to the Dispatch that there had been some unauthorized and secret meetings between Kasich/Republican party establishment figures authorized to try and explore a deal on SB 5 and two labor leaders who met with them and left their members and the rest of the union coalition in the dark.
The story first came to our attention by way of a Dispatch editorial that opined, with mounting evidence of Issue 2’s defeat, that labor and Kasich should avoid all this nasty political campaign business and try to cut a deal before the legal deadline at the end of the month expired to withdraw a statewide issue from the ballot.
Then we revealed how the Dispatch had a personal connection in the story about these doomed negotiations (doomed because it was not clear if the GOP legislative leadership had signed off on quickly approving any changes to SB 5 that any such deal would have required). What was intended as a belated effort to try to present Kasich as reasonable and fair-minded and to paint labor as uncompromising instead made Kasich look incredibly weak and again called into question how much Ohio really needed SB 5 if Kasich was willing to wheel and deal in an attempt to get him out of a very public politically embarrassing defeat so early in his term.
Kasich then tried to cite the participation of two labor leaders (from different unions) in the failed negotiations as evidence that labor was divided on SB 5… it didn’t take. We Are Ohio indicated that they were willing to talk, but as a sign of good faith and a willingness to compromise, the campaign asked the legislature to repeal SB 5 and have the parties start with a clean slate. What we dubbed “repeal, then deal.” It was an effective counter to what most people concluded was nothing more than a p.r. stunt by Kasich that resulted in making Kasich look weak and ineffective.
And before you knew it, suddenly, Kasich was like—talks—what talks? Twenty-four hours after telling the media that he and the GOP legislative leadership were willing to do what it takes to try to reach a compromise to avoid a referendum, Kasich publicly blasted labor for suggesting that the legislature repeal SB 5 entirely first and then they’ll pull the referendum, giving the parties time to talk. Kasich pulled out of his own proposed talks and then had his spokesman criticize labor, saying their request was like demanding a winning lottery ticket. Except all public opinion polling data (the results released to the public and those kept private by the campaign) suggested it was the Governor’s side that had the odds of winning the lottery, which would have helped as the Building a Better Ohio campaign was not raising as much money as they expected.
To cap off the image as the “gang that couldn’t shoot straight,” just as soon as the Kasich talks failed, Building a Better Ohio came up with a brilliant talking point: it cited the mass layoffs of the village police department at the Village of Mt. Sterling near Columbus as an example of how Issue 2 would prevent layoffs and get local government spending in line. The only thing they overlooked is that if SB 5 were law, it wouldn’t have done a darn thing for the situation since the law wouldn’t apply to the Village’s government employees since, you know, the entire village was employed with non-union employees as required under existing Ohio labor laws.
We thanked our lucky stars that Washington doesn’t try to balance its books like Ohio has under Kasich and explained how such an approach at the federal level would hurt Ohio. We just could not shake the creepy revelations made by State Senator Kris Jordan that showed the domestic violence call at his house was not an isolated incident (and Jordan is amazingly is still in office.)
And in August, our prediction that the first three months as Ohio began to transition to Kasich “Jobs Budget” would be consecutive months of higher unemployment rates was confirmed as true. In fact, we pointed out that one of the fundamental economic assumptions of Kasich’s “Jobs Budget” is that it would be a drag on the economy:
As Kasich appeared preoccupied with trying to save face and paint the labor movement in a negative light over Issue 2, Ohio’s economy came dangerously close to sliding back into a recession.