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If Issue 2 is voted down, change still is needed



Published: Sun, October 23, 2011 @ 12:00 a.m.

By Todd Franko (Contact)


It looks as if Issue 2 will face defeat in two weeks, based on current polling.

And based on the mixed and conflicted Issue 2/Senate Bill 5 sentiments around the state, it’s probably best.

But what’s also probably best for Ohio is for the feverish debate that’s engulfed the state to continue and result in substantive change within government operations.

The Republicans overreached with SB 5.

It would be foolish for the Democrats to do the same in victory, by reaching too far back to a standard most Ohioans have decried — or should I say, most Ohioans who are not part of PERS, SERS, STRS, OPF, DROP or the assorted other clubs that have become pillars of government employment.

To have Issue 2 voted down is not to say the current standard is OK. In a recent Quinnipiac University poll in which 51 percent of Ohioans disapproved of Issue 2 as a whole, that same group also weighed in with this:

60 percent wants performance pay over longevity pay.

59 percent wants health-care payments of at least 15 percent for employees.

56 percent wants at least 10 percent of pension payments to come from employees.

I, too, am not a fan of the current government standard. But I’m also not a fan of leaving workers unprotected.

Locally, tick off the names of the officially troubled bosses, such as Lisa Antonini, Maureen Cronin, Jim Traficant, Jim Tsgaris. Then consider the bosses who are officially perplexing. It would be tough to subject hard-working hourly staff to the whims and compromises of such folks.

My other problem with SB 5 is that it targets the union jobs only and leaves unrestrained the actions of government bosses whose actions are hardly union-influenced. We’ve spent much of 2011 looking at county prosecutor Paul Gains’ spending decisions. And just two weeks ago, I was able to highlight the questionable pay raises at the Mahoning County Board of Health — where top health boss Matt Stefanak even forgot he got a January pay raise in addition to his June 2010 and June 2011 raises.

That’s not fixed with Issue 2.

But Issue 2 fixes many things, and it’s my hope that in its defeat, those things won’t be forgotten.

I polled some trusted friends this week — private-sector folks, but none whom I would call rabid crusaders in unhealthy areas. I asked:

What is it you truly want changed about the government work force and what do you want to maintain? The replies were heartfelt, and included:

“With all due respect to our public employees, the rest of us cannot afford the explosion of entitlement. Unfortunately, they have been given promises that cannot be kept re: pension, health care etc. I don’t blame them for wanting to preserve the status quo, but things change. My income has dropped over 50 percent in the last 10 years. So my wife works two jobs so our kids can go to college. Get over it.”

Cash-out policies for unused vacation/sick time must change, and add annual and measurable performance audits. Maintain the right for collective bargaining, and address the entry-level salary for police and fire in Youngstown, which is very low and potentially dangerous due to the quality of candidates.

“I actually have no qualms with salaries and, in fact, see where many jobs [teachers] should be higher than they are. But I cannot abide by the current pension and benefit packages. These are overly generous and will break our state and federal governments if not addressed. I think the current ads talking about how the law will create ‘unsafe’ conditions is a sham. Like in business, the bosses [elected leaders] set staffing levels, and they will be accountable if their staffing does not get the job done. We must have government we can afford, not the one we dream up in an all-inclusive fantasy.”

Todd Franko is editor of The Vindicator. He likes emails about stories and our newspaper. Email him at tfranko@vindy.com. He blogs, too, on vindy.com.


Comments

1block50(127 comments)posted 2 years, 9 months ago

Kasich and his fellow republican legislators gave their staffs ridiculous raises without so much as a peep from the media. The Columbiana County republican party chairman got a $60,000/yr patronage job from Kasich that requires him to work only 2 days every other month. 12 days a year for 60k. Where was your concern then? SB5, HB194, and the redistricting plan are political measures that insure republican control over the state for years to come. There is nothing noble going on here. Just union busting, voter supression and gerrymandering.

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2Stan(9923 comments)posted 2 years, 9 months ago

The problem isn't complex ! With more being unemployed less taxes are collected . To keep the status quo those paying taxes need to be taxed at a higher rate .

AUSTERITY IS ONLY FOR THE LITTLE PEOPLE AND NOT THE SPECIAL ONES !

Support government workers unions and you are supporting higher taxation . Their goal is to take more of your money . So your wages have been cut ? It is you who must make do on less .

http://www.thoughtsfromaconservativem...

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3theotherside(329 comments)posted 2 years, 9 months ago

For the 1000th time, almost 94% of public employees pay 10% into their pensions. Many pay 15% into their health care and the rest understand the need to do so. There is pension reform legislation sitting in limbo in Columbus as we speak because the republicans in control refuse to address it. Legislation that will make the retirement systems solvent for the next 30 years as the law mandates. Why the delay? Politics. So SB 5/Issue 2 has nothing to do with pensions except the faux claim about 10% contributions. And the real reason the republicans want SB 5 is the topic of your headline story today - union busting.

Vote No on Issue 2.

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4Philo(99 comments)posted 2 years, 9 months ago

In addition to the pension and benefit reforms, the legislature needs to pass a law that makes it illegal for any public entity to collect union dues for its employees. It's not the governments business to be a toll collector for the unions. The unions need to bill each of their members every month, quarter, etc., and then let the members write a check to their unions for their dues. These individuals would find out in a hurry just what kind of value the unions provide and where their dues are going.

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5paulparks(235 comments)posted 2 years, 9 months ago

Let me start by saying I support the passage of Issue 2.

Is it perfect? No. But it takes great strides towards leveling the playing field with public sector workers.

(By the way, I think the Vindicator's coverage of this issue has been very good. If you don't understand the issue, it's not the paper's fault.)

I understand the argument that some make that this bill over-reaches in achieving its goals. But doesn't the current system over-reach in the other direction?

Spineless elected officials give the public employees whatever they want - thus the current mess we are in.

I hope Issue 2 passes, but if it does not pass - at least we've made a start at "righting the ship of state."

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6notgvn(6 comments)posted 2 years, 9 months ago

Its clear the party in power overreached with this dangerous and unnecessary law. Its passage was nakedly partisan: One sponsor, committees shuffled at the last minute to get the right numbers, and stonefaced avoidance of the crowds inside and outside the Statehouse. Now a campaign of deceit, half truths and outright lies in support. This is no way to run a state. Public employees have ALWAYS recognized budgetary problems and tried to work with management. State employees accepted weeks of unpaid furlough days and salary freezes and so forth in the last contract. The Administration's sleight of hand by distracting voters by demonizing union public workers while gutting funding to local governments and schools and so forth is cynical in the extreme.

Taxpayers are stockholders in this state and should demand its governments managers to be good stewards of their lives and money. If their timidity in negotiating with their own workers leads to excessive contracts, vote them out! Senate Bill 5 just makes it easy for lazy or incompetent public managers to impose arbitrary cuts without regard to safety or fairness.

As a state employee and opponent of Am Sub Bill 5 I hope this newspaper will join the Athens News and the Akron Beacon Journal in urging Ohioans to vote NO on issue 2.

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7SAVEOURCOUNTRY(467 comments)posted 2 years, 9 months ago

PSYKER99,
you hit the nail on the head. Unions need to become stronger once again in the private sector. We need to STOP buying walmart and demand higher quality products that are 100% American made. Its funny how its ok to send business overseas, ship it back to this country, yet sell it as if American workers made it at high cost to the consumer.
If you love America, VOTE NO ON SB5!

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8ytown1(392 comments)posted 2 years, 9 months ago

What the public workers agreed to was not pay freezes, it was to agree to maintain the most costly items, the entitlements that we as taxpayers were never made aware of until this economic crisis we all find ourselves in.

As a small business owner, not only have we had pay freezes, we have seen a reduction of pay of 25-40% some years, along with less days off, and increases to health insurance, some years to the tune of 30-35%. We have been doing more with less for years I have to let you know. That is the norm now. Just ask any of your private sector working neighbors.

I know the public sector health insurance has seen increases such as these also, the only difference is the workers (Unions) have not shared the hurt that this causes. They have been dead set against to paying anything more than the pittance that they negotiated through arbitration, not collective bargaining. Agree to not to agree and blame the anonymous arbitrator is the way it is handled. It is not our fault is the smokescreen the politicians stand behind. No more is what I say, Vote Yes on Issue 2.

This bill addresses this with doing away with arbitration part of negotiations and will force the elected officials to make the decisions that the taxpayer expects or be voted out the next election, why do you think all of the local politicians came out against this bill? Accountability is something that they have avoided for some time.

Another piece of bad news I have for the ones against SB5/Issue 2, if this fails, good luck in getting a levy passed if these entitlement issues are not addressed as Todd has stated in the article. "It would be foolish for the Democrats to do the same in victory, by reaching too far back to a standard most Ohioans have decried — or should I say, most Ohioans who are not part of PERS, SERS, STRS, OPF, DROP or the assorted other clubs that have become pillars of government employment."

We will still have a large vote and the levies may be our only way to get the message across.

One more message I hear is turn off your cable, no more movies for a while, do away with other frivolous things so you can afford to pay more taxes. I say you cut your cable and eating out, so you can afford to pay for the higher insurance contribution and higher co-pays for your doctors and other health services. What is wrong with that thought? I bet you they will say not me, I deserve my nights out and my cable, I have worked for it, like the rest of us have not worked for it also. That is the mentality we as taxpayers are so against.

This bill is needed and it is needed now before it is too late and there is no other way but bankruptcy to fix it. I have a feeling that would be a real bad way to fix all of this mess.

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9meagain(80 comments)posted 2 years, 9 months ago

Many of the unions began retirement reform (more time on the job, more money in, less money out after retiring) long before SB5 was even an issue. Check out their own websites to see new retirement tables. Even without the passage of Issue 2 reform will happen.

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10doubled(210 comments)posted 2 years, 9 months ago

I agree that spending needs to be scrutinized to eliminate waste...and it would simply be a continuation of what public agencies have been doing for the past three years. That is, slimming down departments and doing the same - or more - with less staff. Over 1 billion dollars has been saved through simple cost cutting measures over the past three years - and all without a significant drop off in public services. But there's a catch. The citizenry can't have it both ways. That's just an economic fact.

Every person in business knows that a company's biggest expense is personnel..However, it is also the company's biggest asset. It costs a whole of a lot more to lose a good employee, have to go through the hiring process, and then train a new one -- and then hope it works out. So I agree with some of the "suggested" changes of tea party todd, but I'll add one to the mix....after those annual performance reviews -- the public employees who are effective, efficient, and produce results for their departments, get bonuses and/or raises... After all, that's how private businesses operate in order to retain their best employees. IF you want good service, then be willing to pay those who give it to you and don't run around screaming like banshee's if a solid, productive public worker gets a bump....Now, if lousy employees get raises or bonuses, then raise hell, if you want to. I won't have any issues with that. It's called Capitalism (the American way) --- you can never have it both ways -- you have to choose -- and, in the end, you always get what you pay for.

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11ytown1(392 comments)posted 2 years, 9 months ago

So NoBS your formula would be 3 police officers for every citizen and two fire fire fighters for the same?
You right size, not some infinite number you speak of,

No, You really don't think. Union Brainwashing has that effect.

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12walter_sobchak(1847 comments)posted 2 years, 9 months ago

It doesn't matter if you are for or against SB5. The system of public employment in Ohio, as currently structured, is not sustainable and needs to be revised.

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13CompMan(125 comments)posted 2 years, 9 months ago

I will vote NO on issue 2 because of the duality of treatment of employees vs supervisiors/legislators. That said, I will not support any issues or levys that call for increased taxes. This statement from a PD contributor is absolutely correct:
" When local governments are forced to reduce their workforces due to upward spiralling labor costs with little or no increase in revenues (read: taxes), perhaps the concept of taxpayers actually controlling their government and its costs will not seem so foreign, even for the public employee unions. There is nothing like a serious reduction in the workforce to bring clarity to an issue."

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14Westsider(222 comments)posted 2 years, 9 months ago

I am voting for SB 5 - because change must start somewhere. What mayor, council member, or trustee would deliberately understaff the police or fire departments? Binding arbitration is no better - if forced to pay higher wages than can be sustained - police officers and firefighters would be laid off anyway. Of course, that wouldn't give the anti-Issue 2 proponents the emotional ammunition they need.

What baffles me is that so many teachers are supporting the repeal of Issue 2 - because much of what affects them is already law. House Bill 153 became law in Ohio on September 29. I am not going to provide the details here - I am assuming that the pro-Issue 2 people have read all 304 pages of Senate Bill 5 and have also read House Bill 153.

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15doubled(210 comments)posted 2 years, 9 months ago

JMW - I'm curious to learn what the Unions lied about in their commercials re; SB5? Specifics, would be helpful. B/C I know that the Pro SB5 commercial had to be pulled from over 30 t.v stations b/c it intentionally misrepresented the image and statements of an Ohio citizen when she was actually speaking out against SB5. So can you provide any supporting facts to show where the Anti SB5 commercials contain lies about what SB5 actually contains.

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16AnotherAverageCitizen(1174 comments)posted 2 years, 9 months ago

I will vote NO on issue 2

I do agree some changes must be made. However sb5 takes too much bargaining away from union, that is the main reason I do NOT support sb5. Also since politicians and other select groups are not included in sb5 makes it all unfair. When kasich gave his staff such large raises, retroactive to January and he thought it was OK for them to get 10% raises in 4 months, and teachers deserve paycuts after several years, it Really turned me away of any chance of supporting kasich. If kasich came out and said ALL public workers in Ohio must pay xx% for medical benefits and retirement I could support that. But how kasick steamrolled this and his saying teachers unions are too strong strong turn me away from kasich support. His calling of police officers idiots, yes the ones who prtect him, shows how little respect he has for OUR law enforcement.

BYE BYE sb5

Vote NO on issue 2

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17samIam(211 comments)posted 2 years, 9 months ago

“With all due respect to our public employees, the rest of us cannot afford the explosion of entitlement. Unfortunately, they have been given promises that cannot be kept re: pension, health care etc. I don’t blame them for wanting to preserve the status quo, but things change. My income has dropped over 50 percent in the last 10 years. So my wife works two jobs so our kids can go to college. Get over it.”
Classic case of the tail wagging the dog only this time the tail will be cut off! YES ON 2 SAVE OUR STATE

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18fd6636(255 comments)posted 2 years, 9 months ago

lets revisit last February, when all this came about. the unions WANTED to discuss reform with our governor, and if most of you recall the response that kasich stated, and I quote: " EITHER JUMP ON THE BUS, OR GET RUN OVER BY IT". The middle class did not ask for this war, kasich did! We did not start this, but, by God I hope we finish this. The unions have given into consessions, and cuts, pay freezes, and thats still not good enough. SB5 wants TOTAL control over public workers which is dangerous, not only to citizens, but, to the workers themselves who work in public safety. The govenor and his "round table" of unproven, over paid favorites played lets make a deal earlier this year by pulling the "sit down and talk" stunt which no one bought. Sincere? hell no, even hard core republibs were like, that was bad!!! You had your chance to work things out, but your putting "the cart before the horse" could be the pro SB5'ers undoing. talk? over. let the citizens who this will affect greatly decide. Remember this: on pg. 132 of SB5, lawmakers, and Kasich cronies are EXEMPT from all what applies from here within SB5!!! Nobody gets any of the pie except those who made it. But, guess what? those who didn't get a piece, paid for it!!!! VOTE NO FOR ISSUE 2, IF YOU THINK ITS ALL GOOD, WAIT UNTIL THIS AFFECTS YOU!!!!!!!

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19Philo(99 comments)posted 2 years, 9 months ago

The one fact that people fail to realize is that government has absolutley no incentive whatsoever to run efficiently. Say what you will about profit motive but if privatizing government jobs will lower operating costs and slow the tax increases on my home and my poor widowed mother's home then I say privatize every government job that can be privatized. It's interesting that public sector union members have no problem paying a Boardman Firefighter or Police officer $90,000 per year, when people would stand in line to do that job for $50,000, yet those same public sector union members will drive across three counties to save $150 on the foreign car they drive. I say let the law of supply and demand work in the public sector too. Vote yes on Issue 2.

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20jmagaratz(162 comments)posted 2 years, 9 months ago

Collective bargaining is necessary for continuous improvement in management-employee relationships.

It is also consistent with the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church.

If contract expenses are out of control, then the blame must fall on the elected representatives who agree to items provided through collective bargaining. It is not logical to blame employees for the agreements.

If local elected officials cannot contain costs through negotiation, then it must be recognized that the cherished Conservative principle of local control is no longer viable and must be replaced with centralized Big Government Liberalism administered by Right Wing idealogues.

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21Woody(451 comments)posted 2 years, 9 months ago

Public Union reform worked in Wisconson:
washingtonexaminer.com/politics/2011/07/wisconsin-schools-buck-union-cut-health-costs

Vote YES for SB5, save Ohio.

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22jupiter(116 comments)posted 2 years, 9 months ago

for those that follow polls: 57% AGAINST ISSUE 2, 32% for it...i think that speaks volumes. No one is saying that reforms are not needed-SB5 is not the way to do it, however. And having the brain trust of Franko, de Souza and Rivers play cheerleader for it locally is a sure way to kill anything.
If Franko is so supportive of healthcare reform he needs to lead by example and go on a diet first.

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23fd6636(255 comments)posted 2 years, 9 months ago

Just watched debate for and against SB5. Speaker for SB5, was nervous, talked fast and seemed confusing at times. BECAUSE HE WAS GIVING HALF TRUTHS, AND HE KNEW IT!!!! Speaker against SB5, was calm, talked slow in a understanding manner, got the point across. To the pro SB5 camp: You couldn't find a better rep. that that? No wonder your getting slammed in the poles. SB5 has so many loop holes, and land mines in it that it will get voted down due due to it not making sense! Go ahead, try to read and understand it. If they dont understand it, they WILL vote no. By the way: Your man stated that safety forces will get laid off if it fails. how bout safety forces will be ELIMINATED just because if it passes. Why? because they can, thats why! Unlimited power that would be disasterous if placed in the wrong hands. This IS SB5!!! Do the right thing, follow what 57% of Ohioans polled are already doing: VOTE NO ISSUE 2!!!

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24Woody(451 comments)posted 2 years, 9 months ago

The exceptional middle class worker gets shafted by the Unions.

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25legend33(169 comments)posted 2 years, 9 months ago

"Vigilante justice is the only way" - Charles Bronson"

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26mjnovaksr(95 comments)posted 2 years, 9 months ago

If, by some chance, SB5 is defeated in this election, I agree that something still must be done. I'd like to see public sector employees with the same work rules, pay, benefits and hours we in the private sector currently enjoy. That is fair. Also, performance based retention and raises are a must in every public sector job just as in the private sector. Teacher tenure must cease...it has ruined our schools. If SB5 fails my advice to Columbus is pass each and every change in SB5 as a separate piece of legislation which will force all reps and senators to vote on each piece so we taxpayers (the 93% of us non-union taxpayers) know by their votes who we should retain and who we should reject in their next elections!! Ohio desperately needs these changes and our lack of attraction for businesses is clear indication of this. If you want Ohio to grow and prosper vote YES on Issue 2.... a NO vote will continue our slow spiral towards the bottom! I personally will never, ever vote for any new tax levy or continuation of an existing tax levy until I see dramatic progress in this area.

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27fd6636(255 comments)posted 2 years, 9 months ago

VOTE NO ISSUE 2. THIS IS UNION BUSTING. ASK MOST MAYORS IN THE STATE, THEY WILL TELL YOU THAT COLLECTIVE BARGINING WORKS!!! MOST OHIOANS ARE STARTING TO SEE THIS THAT IS WHY ISSUE TWO IS SUPPOSED LOOSING IN THE POLLS. MUST FIGHT THESE MIDDLE CLASS ROBBING BAST##DS UNTIL 7:30, NOV. 8TH!!! DON'T SLOW DOWN, IN OUR SIGHTS NOW!!!

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