In a conference call coordinated Wednesday by Democratic Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur, that featured eight other federal and state Democratic officeholders, Rep. Theresa Fedor of Toledo, responded to the resignation of David Hansen, the husband of Gov. John Kasich’s chief of staff who moved from heading of the governor’s staff to heading up his presidential campaign.
David Hansen’s swift resignation from the Ohio Department of Education as school choice director, following news that he scrubbed charter school data harmful to the charter school industry and some of its biggest sponsors, demands more questions from media, not fewer as Gov. Kasich wants.
Will Media Let Hansen Walk?
Collectively, with several major Buckeye newspapers leading the way, there was a drum beat of articles last year that ground down the governor’s Democratic candidate, Ed FitzGerald, over missteps and miscues, creating saturated coverage that helped Gov. Kasich win big in a very low turnout election. Seven members of The Ohio State School Board now want to investigate David Hansen’s resignation. Gov. Kasich is irritated, according to reports, saying any investigation into Mr. Hansen is “political,” and now that the Choice Director has resigned, the story and any investigation of it should also end.
“Does anyone care to comment in general on Kasich’s embrace of charter schools to the tune of billions in taxpayer dollars in spite of their poor performance, and should media let the story die as the governor instructed them to do, or should they pursue it with the same zeal they pursued FitzGerald’s minor problems?” I asked.
Fedor Hints At Kasich Camp Criminal Activity
Rep. Fedor said more transparency on Mr. Hansen is needed because “charter school data helps parents know which schools will best prepare their children for success.” She added, the probe seven members of the OSB want to conduct is needed because it could lead to “criminal activity” as more sunshine lights up why Mr. Hansen, who tampered with data at the Buckeye Institute, a group he worked for before Gov. Kasich brought him to ODE, did the same thing at the state level?
“Parents need to know the honest truth about the quality of that school,” she told reporters. Fedor’s concern is that charter school sponsors, some of whom are making millions, are returning some of that money back to Republicans through campaign contributions. She called that activity “unscrupulous,” and said media is ignoring these funds returning to the campaign coffers of Gov. Kasich and other pro-charter school officials. She vowed she won’t give up her fight to save funding for children, so they don’t get a failing system.
Cuyahoga County Democratic Chair Stuart Garson added, “When Democrats step out of line, smash us, no one should give us a pass.” He said media is needed more than ever, along with scrutiny and involvement. “We need you [media] even more, we cannot have a government run by private donors, and this is what’s happening in Ohio.”
Rep. Dan Ramos said media should shine a bright light on everything that’s happening in Columbus [state capital] at the Ohio Department of Education. Ramos doesn’t like the upcoming take over of Youngstown, then Lorain schools, because it will take away democratically elected school boards in these areas. Ramos offered his own view of why Mr. Hansen scrubbed the data he did. “The job of the staff, be it at the executive or judiciary branches, is to do what their bosses say. We need to determine, unless they were directly violating an order from the governor, they were carrying out the wishes of the governor, who favors charters over public schools. It take rights away from even being involved in schools.”
Roughing Up Republicans
Congressman Kaptur reminded those on the call that Ohio’s primary isn’t among the early states, but the 22nd primary state. Ohio is pretty fifty-fifty, Democrat versus Republican, but the GOP has a strangle hold on Ohio, the quintessential swing state. She complained that the vote is being “tamped down” by about a quarter, that the economy is growing but it wouldn’t be as good as it is but for President Obama’s policies. She criticized Gov. kasich for turning down $400 million in railroad improvement funds that would have modernized Amtrak. “That cost us dearly; we lost the opportunity to separate freight from passenger rail.” Republicans hold a 12-4 majority in the state’s delegation to the U.S. House of Representatives, a situation she attributed to extreme gerrymandering.
Congressman Tim Ryan said there’s a “hostile take over of the Republican Party by Donald Trump” and a “battle of billionaires Goliaths.” In Ohio, Congressman Ryan said there are some gains, but he cautioned that “most families are squeezed with cost of everyday life, they’re not making as much as they were just a few years ago,” he said. Ryan said Republicans want scapegoats, like teachers, firefighters, and unions.”
Democrats said that total takeover of Ohio by Gov. Kasich and Republican colleagues has resulted in energy efficiency standards being rolled back, access to health care being attacked, with more difficult options for Ohioans to exercise their right to vote. Republicans wanted the auto-industry to go bankrupt, criticizing President Obama from refinancing that saved tens of thousands of Ohio jobs. Gov. Kasich, who made the cut list for Fox News’s debate in Cleveland Thursday, passed budgets that raised taxes on working families while giving tax cuts to the wealthiest Ohioans.
It’s these same priorities, they all said, that are “reappearing in the stump speeches and talking points of the candidates taking the stage this week and others seeking the Republican nomination.” Ohioans are facing tough times with weaker economic growth, so looking at how “outdated, unimaginative policies will further impact Americans” is justified. Officials on the call included: Representative Marcy Kaptur, Representative Tim Ryan, State Representative Nickie Antonio, State Representative Teresa Fedor, State Representative Dan Ramos, State Representative Alicia Reece, Cuyahoga County Democratic Chair Stuart Garson, North Shore Federation of Labor (AFL-CIO) Executive Secretary Harriet Applegate and Cleveland Teachers Union President David Quolke.