Gov. John Kasich moved today’s speech to the Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber to save him travel time and help those attending the event avoid protesters, his spokesman said.
“If there are protesters or disruptions, it’s easier for [guests] to get in and out” of the new location, said Rob Nichols, Kasich’s spokesman.
The luncheon is being held at a hangar at the Youngstown-Warren Regional Airport in Vienna.
Local union members, their supporters still plan to protest across the street from the entrance to the airport on Youngstown-Kingsville Road, said Andy Richards, spokesman for the Ohio AFL-CIO.
The protesters object to a Republican bill, supported by Kasich, also a Republican, to eliminate collective bargaining for state employees, and his “anti-worker tone,” he said.
“People are trying to get their voices heard, and he doesn’t want to talk with people about this issue,” Richards said. “Instead, he’ll be spending taxpayer money to fly into the airport and for increased state police presence.”
The noon luncheon was to be at Leo’s Ristorante on East Market Street in Howland.
“The guests will have easier access” to and from the event, Nichols said. “We think it will be a lot smoother.”
About 1,000 protesters showed up Tuesday at the Canton Regional Chamber of Commerce’s annual banquet at the city’s Memorial Civic Center, according to an article in The Canton Repository.
Thousands have gone to the Statehouse last week and Tuesday to protest the proposal.
“He’s running and hiding from those who want to show their disagreement with the way he governs,” said state Rep. Robert F. Hagan of Youngstown, D-60th, a vocal opponent of the collective-bargaining bill.
State Rep. Ronald V. Gerberry of Austintown, D-59th, who is attending the luncheon, said of Kasich: “You can run, but you can’t hide when you’re the governor. The governor doesn’t want to see or hear criticism of decisions he’s directly involved in. This is unheard of.”
Also, Nichols contends the new location “saves about an hour in travel time” for Kasich. The governor’s plane will fly to and from the airport.
Online searches of the travel time between Leo’s and the airport by The Vindicator show that trip is 10 to 15 minutes each way.
Gerberry laughed at the time-savings reason saying Leo’s is very close to the airport.
The Kasich luncheon has been planned for several weeks. It wasn’t until Monday that Kasich’s staff asked the event be relocated.
When asked why the venue change came so late, Nichols said, “It’s the way it came together.”
Kasich plans to discuss his vision for making Ohio more competitive to businesses and outline his JobsOhio plan, which was signed into law last week. The plan privatizes the state’s economic development efforts.
The Kasich luncheon sold all 480 tickets available 24 hours after the event was announced, said Thomas Humphries, chamber president and chief executive officer.