Gov. John Kasich entered the Republican race for president late Tuesday morning inside the student union at The Ohio State University in Columbus.  He became the 16th candidate to make his dream of leading the free world official. One of the governor’s new pitchmen, John Weaver, is on record saying his candidate’s success “is how he can translate what he’s achieved in the past into a vision that is understandable by average Americans where he wants to lead the country moving forward.”

Some of Gov. Kasich’s achievements don’t sit well with some caregivers whose family members got the short end of the budget stick this year when Kasich vetoed a facility closure commission. Created through bi-partisan support, the governor could have allowed it to study and produce recommendations on which tax-payer supported facilities, especially two developmental disability facilities where scores of the most troubled people in the state live receiving skilled services from skilled doctors, nurses and service delivery professionals, to close if any.

Now serving his final term, Gov. Kasich has spent years crafting a narrative that features his compassion for the less fortunate. What the former congressman who wants to return to Washington as president won’t mention in New Hampshire or Iowa or South Carolina is that his ill-advised veto placing two developmental disability centers on his budget chopping block is now the subject of efforts by two senators who, with the assistance of caregivers of family members at the DDS centers near Dayton and Youngstown, are trying to convince enough Republicans to join them in requesting a vote to override Gov. Kasich’s veto of a provision creating the Developmental Center Closure Commission [DCCC].

Veto Override

Two Democratic State Senators who first proposed the closure commission, Joe Schiavoni of Boardman and Capri Cafaro of Hubbard, penned a letter to Senate President Keith Faber, a close political friend of Mr. Kasich who on more than one occasion has kept controversial bills from reaching the governor’s desk to avoid any political problems for Mr. Kasich. The DCCC was proposed as a bipartisan response to the planned closures of the Youngstown and Montgomery Developmental Centers, then added to Kasich’s third two-year budget bill, House Bill 64.

Sens. Schiavoni and Cafaro wrote Sen. Faber: “We believe that by vetoing this well-vetted and widely supported provision the Governor is ignoring the will of the legislature and therefore the will of the people of Ohio.” Sources tell me President Faber had yet to respond. The DCCC would conduct further review and investigation before closing the state-run developmental centers.

The Youngstown center houses 86 residents, some of whom have lived there for decades. It’s scheduled by the Kasich Administration to close in June 2017.

Living In The Shades

One person who was in Columbus on Mr. Kasich’s presidential launch day takes exception to the governor’s salesmanship as qualified to be president. Robin Tarr, whose brother is one of the residents in the Youngstown facility, told me that support from the Ohio House to get the closure commission language in the budget was key, as was help from senators. Tarr holds out hope that Kasich’s misguided shuttering of the two facilities will be delayed if efforts by Schiavoni and Cafar and others take hold in the legislature. If the DCCC is created, by overriding Kasich’s veto, one seat would be occupied by one parent from one of the centers. The time frame for the commission’s review was extended from 30 days to 90 days, which seemed reasonable to Tarr and others with loved ones at risk if they’re forced to leave their current living state living quarters.

“We need to keep this in the public eye what he [Kasich] did turning his back on Ohio’s most vulnerable citizens as he gets ready to make a run for the big house,” she told me. “We would like to try to get a national audience,” she added.

To win a veto override of the governor, a risky proposition under any circumstances but one which takes on new challenges now that Mr. Kasich is running and would be embarrassed if his veto is overridden, it’s takes a two-thirds majority from the House [99 Members] and Senate [33 Members]. The “great governor can write or submit objections and we don’t know which way the house and senate will vote,” Tarr said.

Another person who has a loved one at stake, Peggy Cooley, has taken a page from Gov. Kasich’s book on being blunt and direct. “Kasich is a menace to society. He has shown that he despises the democratic process that allows U.S. citizens to speak up on issues that are important to them. Quite frankly, he just doesn’t give a damn about anyone but himself,” Cooley told me via email.

Gov. Kasich enjoys waxing compassionate, as he did Tuesday to his private audience of fans. While it may play well in his new TV ads introducing himself to early Republican primary state audience, those like Tarr and Colley who have seen him in action aren’t buying it. Compassion isn’t turned on and off like a light switch, as Mr. Kasich seems to think he can do when the situation suites his political ends. For Robin Tarr and Peggy Cooley, the money Kasich hopes to save by forcing their loved ones into risky private group home situations, that present challenges and uncertainties they don’t have to worry about under the dedicated professional care of skilled practitioners, amounts to bad governance, bad management and bad compassion.

As worthy as their cause is, it would be a national story if Gov. Kasich got trumped by a legislature dominated by Republicans as he makes his second try on the national stage. Gov. Kasich’s fortunes depend on people not knowing what he’s done to harm the most vulnerable patients that have come under his care as governor. His story of lifting people up is easily debunked, and Tarr, Cooley and many others are ready to take Kasich on if it means protecting those who would be harmed if his veto is allowed to stand.

 

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