A couple reporters made news of their own recently by citing Plunderbund reporting that has blown the lid off the fiasco of Ohio’s for-profit charter school system and people involved with it that have admitted to criminal activities.
A day doesn’t go by now that Gov. John Kasich is running for his political life in New Hampshire that The Columbus Dispatch and The Cleveland Plain Dealer and to a lesser extent The Cincinnati Enquirer don’t offer multiple, gratuitous headlines that push the term-limited governor’s long-shot presidential campaign.
Legacy print newspapers like them are engaged in sycophancy coverage of Mr. Kasich that is so biased for the 63-year old leader that their readers can honestly ask themselves whether these powerhouse newspapers have effectively become ex-officio house organs for him, his errant policies and shady administration.?
Tanks For Nut’In
The answer, of course, is they have. Compromising their once coveted status as honest Fourth Estate communicators, these corporations have ruptured their relationship with the public by turning a blind eye to crimes happening in plain view.
It would be good reporting to cite Plunderbund for the many scoops it has broken, based on public records that plow the ground for secrets Mr. Kasich and his PR handlers would rather keep living in the shadows. While many issues fit the bill, there is one really ripe one that rises above the others.
The Ohio scandal that could topple Gov. Kasich’s quest for the White House— that none of these newspapers seem at all interested in investigating—centers on the husband of Gov. Kasich’s former chief of staff turned presidential campaign manager, Beth Hansen. Her hubby, David Hansen, joined Team Kasich as director of school choice under the governor’s hand-picked Superintendent of Education, Dr. Richard Ross.
David Hansen violated state and likely federal laws when he intentionally falsified school data that made poor performing for-profit charter schools look better than they were in order to still receive state funding. The data that David Hansen scrubbed became the basis for a grant Ohio sent to Washington. Unaware of Mr. Hansen’s crimes, which have been allowed to wither on the vine by Gov. Kasich’s conflicted Inspector General Randall Meyers and Franklin County top cop, Prosecutor Ron O’Brien, the Federal Department of Education awarded Ohio $71 million in grant funds that have since been frozen awaiting further review by officials.
When powerful legacy newspapers like The Columbus Dispatch want to win awards for investigative journalism, pursuing people or institutions deemed to have done wrong is done using all their resources, with little if any quarter given when the dogs are let loose. Nothing pleases these news corporations more than pushing city, county or state lawmakers to take action based on their reports.
Democratic Attorney General Marc Dann, for example, underwent a steady drumbeat of articles that drove him from office, with his fellow Democratic officeholders shoving a shiv in him to appease both Republicans and media allied with them. Investigations into falsifying attendance records at Columbus Public Schools showed exactly how big newspapers with big reporting teams can slice, dice and skewer when they want to.
Their investigative reporting on these and other issues leads to the question: why has David Hansen’s clear violation of state and possibly federal law been allowed to fade away? If the husband of a governor’s most important staffer was hired over other maybe more qualified candidates and committed the same crime, would these same publications, or even a law enforcement authority, refuse to report or take legal action?
Original reporting at Plunderbund sounded alarms when Republicans on the Franklin County Board of Elections were discussing whether to hire Mr. Hansen to be in charge of early voting in the county. For the record, and maybe because of our work, he wasn’t.
For Gov. Kasich, Mr. Hansen and his criminal deeds have been allowed to evaporate into thin air following his public admission to stipulated illegal activities. The cheer leading articles that regurgitate Mr. Kasich’s carefully crafted narrative of being the only Republican doing the Lord’s work are clear evidence to just how in-the-tank they are for this governor.
By default, it seems, investigating this story has fallen to the small but fierce news center called Plunderbund, which for neophytes is shorthand for political corruption. Meanwhile, don’t expect any or all of the Big Eight mainstream newspapers to give credit where credit is due.
When a couple reporters working at traditional print publications cite PB’s reporting, it’s worthy to note it. The Toledo Blade and Esquire Magazine have moved to the front of the class with reporting on Mr. Hansen and Ohio’s for-profit charter schools that includes Plunderbund. David Hansen’s illegal actions with respect to Ohio’s charter school industry should only add to taxpayer confusion about why Ohio’s education system has declined from a one-time top performer under former Gov. Ted Strickland to a national joke under Gov. Kasich’s leadership.
Kudos go, therefore to Charles P. Pierce at Esquire Magazine and Marilou Johanek at The Toledo Blade for being honest journalists unafraid to both include Plunderbund in their reporting and take on the billion-dollar mess in Ohio.
When the Boston Globe endorses Gov. Kasich in New Hampshire as it did recently, its positive talking points on behalf of Mr. Kasich make Plunderbund visitors either cringe or cry because they know how false and fabricated they are. In it’s editorial endorsement of Gov. Kasich, The Concord Monitor has clearly chugged a gallon of Kasich Kool-Aid to arrive at its conclusion given his fabulous faulty record in Ohio.
“The difference between Kasich and some of his opponents, however, is that Kasich doesn’t use his bluntness as a campaign prop,” the Concord Monitor wrote. “He is an old-school, pragmatic leader of high character and decency who doesn’t want to waste valuable time – his or voters’ – by wallowing in the political muck of the moment….”
News flash for Concord Monitor staff, Gov. Kasich is the quintessential politician. He’s deeply mired in the muck of politics even though he pretends to be above it. His ideology, matured during the era of Ronald Reagan, doesn’t work. Mr. Kasich being a jerk, an observation not exclusive to Plunderbund but to other journalist who have spent time with him, is pawned off as him being blunt and candid, when it’s a manifestation of his peculiar personality disorder that has rewarded him for being jerky. For proof, maybe the Plain Dealer should put back up the video it took down in the fall of 2014 of John Kasich acting like a petulant teenager forced to do something he didn’t want to do, answer questions with his challengers sitting next to him. Team Kasich saw how bad it was, and asked the Cleveland paper to take down. (Clips of the video can be found here)
The Boston Globe and the Concord Monitor may not understand just how wed he is to ideas that don’t work, and that Democrats and Republicans alike no longer support. Protect reproductive rights and women’s health care, guaranteeing equal rights to LGBT individuals, enacting commonsense gun control, protecting the climate, fixing a broken immigration system, protecting and expanding social safety nets, passing laws that reduce the influence of big money on democracy, improving the education system, raising the minimum wage, passing family and paid sick leave, enacting legislation to protect communities of color from abuse by the police and expand voting access are all not on Gov. Kasich to-do list in Ohio, and they won’t be on his Washington to-do list either.
Balancing budgets, as Gov. Kasich say he’s done at the Federal and state level and wants an amendment to the U.S Constitution to do, is not the important issue. The important issue is how budgets come into balance. For Gov. Kasich, taking from those who can least afford it and giving it to those who least need it is a continuing goal that exacerbates income inequality and turns government into a cash cow to be milked at will, especially when a hard-right legislature goes along for the ride.
Don’t Forgive Them, For They Know Better
A keen observation that foreshadowed the Globe’s enchantment with the “Happy Warrior” persona can be found in The Columbus Press Press. It’s too bad that the Buckeye and Beltway bubble on the governor doesn’t allow for disruptive journalism of that kind and quality penned MediaInsider Jack Hartman. With a PhD in journalism and decades of teaching it to college students, Mr. Hartman as much as foretold the story in “Kasich Cons New York Times”
To the army of Big Eight Ohio news staff and national reporters who are afraid or too uninformed to confront Ohio’s so-called CEO on his many conflicts of interest and morals, it’s not too late to start doing your job by starting with renewed questioning of John Kasich about what’s happened to the “Ohio Miracle,” especially in education, he used to boast about? Freedom of the press and the First Amendment are of little use if the Fourth Estate can no longer keep up with leaders of the Fifth Estate like Plunderbund.