So, the assignment for this column was to grade Gov. John Kasich’s first year in office. I’m sure almost everyone expects me to give him a big, fat, red F-.
Wrong. Gov. Kasich gets an A+++. Not because he’s been a good governor. No, his administration has been a disaster. He gets a triple A plus because he’s done more to mobilize and energize the Democrats, Independents and disenfranchised Republicans than anyone since FDR uttered the famous phrase: “all we have to fear is fear itself.” And given his otherwise abysmal record, firing up our base and helping President Obama win Ohio may end up being the stellar accomplishment of his one — and I emphasize one — term in office.
Senate Bill 5
Let’s begin our Gov. Kasich retrospective with the obvious: Senate Bill 5. What a great gift! The governor supports an all-out attack on first responders, teachers, social workers who care for neglected and abused kids, and tens of thousands of other hard working men and women who serve the public. The GOP assault inspires rallies, spurs voter registration, helps Democrats build robust contact lists, and, perhaps most importantly, clearly reminds Ohioans just whose side the governor and his supporters are on. It was horrible public policy, but great politics for our side. Not so much for his.
Next let’s talk about economic development. His idea, set up a totally unaccountable entity called JobsOhio and keep its activities secret, including whether the money being doled out to businesses is actually generating a return for Ohio taxpayers. I guess we’ll just have to take the governor at his word and believe we’re getting something for the $100 million or more that will be handed out to business, including lots of his supporters, behind closed doors. According to a Jan. 31 story in the Columbus Dispatch, even Republican legislators have real problems with this scheme.
One more note on economic development. Although Gov. Kasich didn’t believe GM and Chrysler deserved government help and he and his buddies pilloried the president’s stimulus plan, he’s not shy about accepting applause for the positive things that are happening at Lordstown and the V&M expansion. Obviously, it doesn’t matter to him that both those projects were spurred by aid from the Strickland and Obama administrations and that he didn’t have anything at all to do with the progress we’re making. I guess when you’ve actually done nothing you have to take credit for someone else’s work.
Finally, and I only say finally because I’m limited in space, along with attacking working families and devising a double-secret plan to grow our economy, good ole Gov. Kasich helped push through a bill designed to undermine one of our most sacred rights: the right to vote.
Attack on freedoms
Unfortunately for him and for the eventual Republican presidential nominee, this attack on our basic freedoms has been stalled by the same type of referendum campaign that killed Senate Bill 5. That means that the millions of Ohioans who now understand exactly what he’s all about will be able to express their displeasure at the ballot box again in November.
That being said, here’s my hope for the remainder of Gov. Kasich’s term: More of the same. Please. Pretty please.
David J. Betras is chairman of the Mahoning County Democratic Party.