Governor Strickland is doing a round of “exit” interviews with the Ohio media to reflect on his Administration and to offer some thoughts about events since the election.

Strickland on Ohio’s unemployment:

According to the Associated Press:

"Our unemployment rate now is even with the national unemployment rate. First time that’s happened since December of 2002," he said. "So I’m leaving office having established, I believe, the foundation for future growth in Ohio, and I’m proud of that."

Our unemployment is still too high, but what most people fail to acknowledge was that Ohio’s unemployment substantially higher than the nation shortly before Strickland took office.  In fact it was over 1% higher, and that was considered during relatively good economic times.  As Jon Keeling used to point out (until the data proved them wrong), Strickland’s own council of economic advisors from the leading private financial companies in the State, had actually projected that Ohio’s unemployment rate would have gone UP, not down this year and stay well above the national average for several years.

Not surprisingly, Strickland also took the opportunity to say he hopes to make a major jobs announcement before the end of his term for a $1 billion investment that should create 1,300 jobs that average $50k a year in central Ohio.

Strickland on Senator Grendell’s admission he believed his hearings were conducted to “help” get Kasich elected:

On Senator Grendell’s admission that his hearings were conducted to help get Kasich elected:

Strickland said state Senate Criminal Justice Chairman Tim Grendell deserves to be investigated after he wrote GOP leaders that he "worked hard to facilitate John Kasich’s election" by holding high-profile hearings on the matter.

Grendell said he was only doing his job in holding the hearings, not setting out to hurt Strickland. "These people are trying to make political hay to cover their own trail when the sad truth is the governor and his staff mishandled that thing at the mansion, period," he said.

The facts are the facts:  Grendell has admitted in writing that he, himself, believed that the purpose of the hearings were to help get Kasich elected.  Grendell used his status as a private lawyer and chairman of the Senate Criminal Justice Committee to accuse several Strickland Administration officials of “perjury” and felony “obstruction of justice.”  These allegations were dutifully reported by the media throughout the State because they were sensational allegations the Grendell was making using his status as both a lawyer and Committee Chairman.   (Never mind that Grendell does little criminal justice legal work and another Republican attorney on the committee, Bill Seitz (R-Cincinnati) would later publicly disagree with Grendell’s “analysis.”

Of course, later, the career professionals charged to handle such matters waited until after the election to conclude that the criminal case that Grendell said he had “no doubt” existed and presented as a slam dunk lacked evidence to even pursue.

Grendell clearly has admitted to abusing his legislative office for nothing more than partisan gain in the hopes of unduly influencing an upcoming election.  At a minimum, he needs to be stripped of any legislative gavel if not outright removed from office.

Strickland also called re-appointing Charles one of the biggest political mistakes of his life.  He said he regrets re-appointing him.

Charles was re-appointed because Strickland was told that Charles could get the Coingate investigation concluded and that if he didn’t it would delay the investigation.  To date, Thomas Charles has not concluded the investigation into Coingate.  Last week during the announcement of his appointment as Kasich’s Director of Public Safety, Charles admitted during the press gaggle that he would not wrap up the investigation into Coingate.  And as far as we know, nobody, nobody, from Thomas Charles’ office has yet to conduct a single interview with Tom Noe… five years after it opened.  No Noe.  We are unaware of any pending Coingate-related prosecution left either at the State or federal level.  So the question remains, why hasn’t Charles’ office concluded its investigation in Coingate and what have they been waiting for?

We may never know.  And yet, Kasich is giving this guy a promotion.  A guy whose investigations have been so flawed, several Ohio courts called them unreliable and, in one instance, said they were based on evidence obtained by violation the civil rights of several individuals.   

Strickland on Republican’s war on public employee unions.

I should have probably bumped this up to the top.  I think this is one of the times Governor Strickland put his finger on the pulse of the situation and points out the absurdity of the Republican policies (Source: Columbus Dispatch🙂

In the governor’s theory, Kasich and legislative Republicans want to weaken public-employee unions by blaming their pay and benefits for the state’s economic woes. The real culprits for the worst recession since the Great Depression, Strickland said, are international forces and failure of the federal government to police greed on Wall Street.

"If we hadn’t experienced this major recession … we probably wouldn’t even be having the kind of discussions we’re having now about public employees," Strickland said. "But the recession provides the excuse for some to do what they have always wanted to do, and that is to lessen the influence and the power of organized labor, of just working people to be able to come together.

"I don’t hear the same kind of outcry about people who are making millions of dollars and still wanting even greater tax breaks. I don’t hear any blame being directed toward them necessarily for the difficult economy that we’re all dealing with. It’s the regular working guy, and that’s the way I feel about it."

You need to go no further that read the Chamber of Commerce’s report we discussed yesterday to see the math:

  • Public pension reform (cutting benefits/raising employee share): $176 million per biennium.
  • Cutting the State’s tax expenditures (special credits and deductions for industries and individuals to encourage certain economic behavior) $7.7 billion.  (Heck, even a 2% reduction in available tax expenditures, the Chambers of Commerce note, would save the State $154 million per year.   Read that again.  A 2% reduction in the State’s tax expenditures would save the State almost double the money the pension reforms the Chamber is pushing.)

Notice which one Kasich and the Republican legislative leadership is paying the most attention.

GOP Anti-union zeal

The idea that this State would be swimming in revenues, but for the public unions is a nice conservative distraction from the real root of the problem.  We’re lacking revenues voluntarily by passing tax cut after tax cut with no plans to pay for them.

After all, what does Governor-elect Kasich say he’ll do once he balances the budget?  He promises to then throw it back out of balance by pushing for more tax cuts, leading to more spending cuts, until Ohio no longer what is nearly half the source of all its revenue anymore. 

This isn’t about temporary belt-tightening during rough economic times.  That’s just an excuse.  It’s about taking a radical conservative economic ideology and trying to make it a reality.  These cuts Kasich and his allies aren’t just permanent.  They’re the sign of greater cuts yet to come unless they are stopped.

That’s the reality Ted Strickland tried to get Ohioans to see during the campaign.  Now, we’re seeing news of it every day.  And Kasich is still weeks away from coming into office still.  And he still hasn’t spelled out precisely what he plans to do.  But the hints we’ve gotten don’t look promising.

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