Yet another wake up call was delivered Friday to term-limited Ohio Gov. John Kasich to do what he’s refused to do so far to reverse his state’s earned title as posterchild for opioid-related overdoses.

Kasich, who despite being badly beaten last year in his second try for the White House, is playing his familiar game of hide-and-seek with national media on his intentions for 2020, and whether he’ll run for president a third time.

Using the same bob-and-weave strategy he used with state media in 2014, when the question he wouldn’t answer was whether he would run for president in 2016 if elected to a second term for governor, his new peek-a-boo campaign is working with national media, which despite every other measure boding ill for the lame-duck governor in 2020, thinks he’s a viable presidential candidate.

Kasick Fiddles For 2020

Kasich has used two pathetic and transparently false excuses to explain his foot-dragging on the opiate emergency issue back home: He says by law he can’t tap into the state’s rainy day fund, and wouldn’t do so because he thinks another financial crisis is upon the state.

Reducing the $2 billion he’s stashed there, after robbing local governments throughout his term, would leave Ohio short in weathering another economic downturn of the kind he and like-minded Republicans were responsible for creating after Wall Street and banks were deregulated, then sat idly by watching the housing bubble expand and burst, raining economic misery down across all states.

Two Democratic voices in Ohio’s Republican-controlled General Assembly tried to get Kasich’s attention again, this time with a letter asking him to do the right thing: Tap Ohio’s emergency fund to fund an emergency that’s killing eight or more people per day.

State Reps. Emilia Strong Sykes (D-Akron) and Tavia Galonski (D-Akron) Friday wrote letters to Kasich renewing calls for him to declare a state of emergency to combat Ohio’s worst-in-the-nation opioid epidemic.

President Trump, who doesn’t like Kasich for various reasons, declared the opioid crisis a national emergency, making Kasich’s refusal to do the right thing so look even more wrong, as a crisis that has links to more and better education and job opportunities continues while he bones up on foreign policy positions.

Both Democratic lawmakers say Kasich has repeatedly rebuffed Democratic calls to join six other states in declaring a statewide emergency, even though Ohio continues to lead the nation in opioid overdose deaths.

“Ohio’s rainy day fund currently sits at $2 billion dollars, a figure you say should be left to deal with a financial crisis,” Galonski said. “However, our communities are already in crisis. Families are struggling with addiction, children’s services are stretched thin and Ohio businesses are finding it harder to fill jobs. Our opioid crisis is crushing our bottom line. What companies want to move into a community overrun with overdoses? How can our kids focus on schoolwork knowing there is trouble at home? The opioid epidemic has far-reaching consequences that will only begin to be alleviated when we make real investments in treatment and prevention.”

Sykes called the governor’s bluff, saying he “continues to wrongly claim that he can’t declare an emergency to free up desperately needed funds to combat this illness that is devastating our state – though we’ve seen him do it as recently as last year to pay for extra security at the Republican Convention in Cleveland. We need real leadership on this issue that’s crushing Ohio families and our state’s bottom line. Summit County has been taking the lead on this issue in Northeast Ohio, but we can’t do it alone. Only a bold, comprehensive statewide plan can get Ohio back on the path to health and prosperity.”

Galonski knows a crisis when she sees one, and she sees one like everyone else, even if Kasich is blinded to it because he’s focused on his future, trying to boost his low-currency value as a presidential contender able to defeat the Donald, should the Donald still be president in 2020.

“Our opioid crisis is crushing our bottom line. What companies want to move into a community overrun with overdoses? How can our kids focus on schoolwork knowing there is trouble at home? The opioid epidemic has far-reaching consequences that will only begin to be alleviated when we make real investments in treatment and prevention.”

Ohio Burning From Overdosing

In separate news, the Drug Enforcement Administration is establishing six new enforcement teams focused on combatting fentanyl, a narcotic to treat severe pain. Two of the six locations are in Ohio, one in Cincinnati and one in Cleveland. The sites were selected based on the opioid mortality rate, the number of heroin and fentanyl seizures and where DEA determined resources could have the greatest impact.

Ohio U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown commented on the DEAs decision.

“Fentanyl has quickly become one of the biggest culprits of the drug overdoses tearing apart Ohio families, and this investment will mean more agents in Ohio working to stop the illegal forms of this drug from taking more lives,” he said.

With Ohio at the center of the epidemic, Brown says the formation of these DEA teams show the agency understands the size of the problem.

“Ohio needs every possible tool to keep heroin and fentanyl out of our state,” Brown said Friday via email.

Saturday is National Prescription Drug Take Back Day, and both Ohio senators in Washington, Brown and Rob Portman (R-OH), promoted the event featuring 250 sites where Ohioans can safely dispose of unwanted and unused prescription drugs.

National Prescription Drug Take Back Day is jointly sponsored by the U.S. Department of Justice and DEA, in an effort to provide safe, convenient and responsible means for disposal of prescription drugs, while also educating the public about the potential for abuse and medications.

 

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