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They’re moving fast in Columbus



Published: Thu, March 10, 2011 @ 12:00 a.m.

They’re moving fast in Columbus

There is real danger in the body politic in the state of Ohio. The danger I am speaking of is the arrogance by which our governor and Statehouse have forged ahead to rewrite the rules governing both the private and public sector work force without thorough debate, or at lease debate that would give the public an opportunity to be well informed about the long-term consequences of the legislation found in House Bill 1 and the legislation in Senate Bill 5.

With the passage of House Bill 1, Gov. Kasich is quoted as saying “It is an historic day ... It will allow us to move at the speed of business ... and it is important that we move at the speed of business for one reason: People need jobs; with jobs comes hope.” We all want jobs, we all want prosperity for ourselves, our loved ones and our neighbors. What we do not want is to wake up one morning to find that House Bill 1 that sounded so hopeful is full of draconian measures that limit our ability to prosper and to be part of a meaningful conversation about work in this state. The nonprofit JobsOhio and its nine-member oversight board appointed by the governor may be the best thing in a generation for the working people in this state, but may also be the worst. The real danger is that this legislation is the first step in transferring public policy making away from free, open and accountable debate to that of private, corporate decision making that has no accountability to the people of this state. More pointedly, this legislature and the direction the governor seems to be taking us in is one in which the very foundations of public democracy is replaced by the privatization of elected governance. This is a danger like one we have never seen in this state and one in which the outcome appears inevitable.

With the passage of House Bill 1, Gov. Kasich is quoted as saying “It is an historic day ... It will allow us to move at the speed of business ... and it is important that we move at the speed of business for one reason: People need jobs; with jobs comes hope.” We all want jobs, we all want prosperity for ourselves, our loved ones and our neighbors. What we do not want is to wake up one morning to find that House Bill 1 that sounded so hopeful is full of draconian measures that limit our ability to prosper and to be part of a meaningful conversation about work in this state. The nonprofit JobsOhio and its nine-member oversight board appointed by the governor may be the best thing in a generation for the working people in this state, but may also be the worst. The real danger is that this legislation is the first step in transferring public policy making away from free, open and accountable debate to that of private, corporate decision making that has no accountability to the people of this state. More pointedly, this legislature and the direction the governor seems to be taking us in is one in which the very foundations of public democracy is replaced by the privatization of elected governance. This is a danger like one we have never seen in this state and one in which the outcome appears inevitable.

One short comment on the direction Ohio citizens can be sure is in their future is simply this, one of the cornerstones in the proposed Senate Bill 5 legislation is the dismantling of collective bargaining for public employees. If this governor would be elected president in 2012 (though he professes no such ambition), he would most assuredly push for federal legislation rescinding as much of the collective bargaining rights of private sector workers as he possibly could and with the make-up of the current Supreme Court he would no doubt be able to do the unthinkable.


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