Gov. John Kasich

Kasich can laugh about car crash

Do you believe in karma?

Karma is a funny thing, you never know when it is going to tap you on the shoulder or, in Gov. John Kasich’s case, hit you from behind.

 Karma is defined as actions that determine future state. In Hindu and Buddhist philosophy, the quality of somebody’s current and future lives as determined by that person’s behavior in this and in previous lives. In Biblical terms, it is known as you reap what you sow. This week an odd chain of events came together to make Gov. Kasich a believer or as he said he gets the “joke”.

Karma set in motion

The beginning of the story goes back to 2008 when Kasich was pulled over and cited by Officer Robert Barrett for not moving over to give room to a stopped emergency vehicle with its lights flashing. In response to this incident, last year Kasich publically berated the officer calling him an idiot multiple times. Also last year, shortly after taking office the new governor stated that there were going to be changes made and if you weren’t on the bus, the bus would run over you. (see So what are the chances that the governor would be hit from behind by a bus and the investigating officer would be none other than Officer Barrett? That is truly karma at work.

Officer Barrett, who works freeway patrol, responded to a reported crash on I-71 in Columbus in a construction zone. Gov. Kasich and a few of his staff were returning from a speaking engagement when their SUV was hit from behind when a charter bus slammed into a stalled car thus causing the disabled car to ram into Kasich’s vehicle. All in Kasich’s vehicle were wearing seatbelts and no one was injured.

Did I fortell the future?

I have written about the governor and his policies several times during the last year generating varied responses from good to scathing. All articles were regarding SB 5 which was defeated in the November election. My objection to the bill was its treatment of teachers and education in general. I was particularly proud of a satire piece I did last April 1, 2011. In my humble opinion it was a brilliant piece of writing but it angered someone to the point of destructive behavior, I guess they couldn’t take a joke—see BREAKING NEWS: GOVERNOR, LEGISLATORS AGREE TO TEACH IN PUBLIC SCHOOLS are a few excerpts which seem particularly appropriate in light of this week’s events:


In light of the recent controversy regarding teachers and SB 5, governor Kasich and many legislators have agreed to teach in public schools for the next grading period.


They agreed to remain in the classrooms the entire grading period stating, “How hard can it be?” They continued that they look forward to the comfort of leaving work at three o’clock daily so they can catch up on much needed sleep and workout time. When reminded they would have to prepare lesson plans, grade papers, and arrange graphic presentations they said they would refer these duties to their able aides. When reminded they would have no aides or secretaries for paper work and classroom presentations, governor Kasich replied, “Then I will just talk to them all day as I have done on the campaign trail and at Fox News.”


In addition, governor Kasich agreed to take on the extra duty of driving a school bus. Referring to his recent comments that he is driving the bus and you are either on it or you will be run over, Kasich pointed to his excellent driving record. He stated that he drove SB 5 over bumpy roads to adoption and feels navigating a school bus will be no different. When asked about his confrontation with a state highway patrol officer regarding a traffic violation, Kasich stated he felt certain that incident did not disqualify him from driving a bus. As governor he would see to it there were no obstacles ahead….


When asked about the significance of announcing this plan on April first, Kasich said he saw no correlation between the timing of the announcement and April Fools Day.


Kasich commented on the accident saying, “It’s sort of funny, in life, you’ve got to take as well as you give…. You hear jokes about all this, it’s fine,” Kasich said, chuckling. “I’ll tell you one thing, I’m really glad no one was hurt. … “

What is strange to me is that this is the third time in a month I have written about karma (see Although I believe that what goes around comes around I’m not a fanatic about karma and, therefore, find the need to write about it three times in one month a bit strange. Is the universe trying to tell me something? If so, I hope I have put enough good vibes out there to merit some good karma.


For more information about the governor’s mishap, click on the link to the Columbus Dispatch below. In spite of my disagreements with the governor’s policies I am glad he and his staff were not injured and he has a sense of humor about the incident. Maybe he would even like my April Fool’s satire.


Kasich can laugh about car crash.

What can we learn from Ohio’s animal Armageddon?

Jungle Jack Hanna, known as much for his zany humor as for his love of animals, was near tears as he described the carnage after 49 exotic animals escaped from a Zanesville, Ohio farm. He described it as if Noah’s Ark wrecked in the middle of Zanesville.

As Sheriff Matt Lutz described the activities in his morning press conference, my attention was on Hanna’s face. When I saw this usual jovial man fighting tears I suddenly realized the enormity of the situation. The sheriff’s deputies shot 48 animals including 18 rare Bengal tigers and 17 lions after exotic animal owner, Terry Thompson, released all the animals from their cages and then took his own life. One animal, a monkey, remains missing and is believed eaten by one of the big cats.

In all, more than 50 exotic animals including bears, tigers, lions, wolves, and monkeys were released from their cages. When officials arrived, six remained in or near their cages and were able to be rescued and transferred to the Columbus Zoo.

Neighbors described the scene as sounding like a war zone with one man estimating at least 350 shots were fired. When deputies arrived at the farm they had a little over an hour of daylight left to corral nearly 50 wild animals. Their first concern was the safety of the people—and that is as it should be. Law enforcement officers don’t travel with tranquilizer guns and the only choice they had was to shoot the animals. Jack Hanna supported Sheriff Lutz’s decision. The sheriff said that if the incident had happened during daylight his decision and approach would have been different.

It is a tragic incident. Many animal lovers have been angry over the deaths and Jack Hanna and the sheriff have even had death threats. As an animal lover I was sickened by the sight of the many proud, beautiful animals laid out ready for burial. However, I’m sure no one was more upset over the events than Hanna himself.

Animal rights lovers have a right to be angry but their anger should be directed at Ohio’s lax laws rather than the innocent people caught up in the nightmare. Ohio is one of several states with no rules or regulations regarding private ownership of exotic animals and even holds auctions regularly. Wayne  Pacelle, head of the Humane Society, equated Ohio to the Wild West.

What makes this incident even more tragic is it could have been avoided if an agreement negotiated by former governor Ted Strickland had been allowed to continue under the new administration. Pacelle said the Zanesville situation could have been prevented if Kasich had extended and enforced an exotic-animals ban signed by former Gov. Ted Strickland before leaving office in January. The ban was the last component of an animal-welfare deal worked out by Strickland, the Humane Society, Ohio Farm Bureau and others.

When Kasich took office he allowed the ban to lapse in April saying it was difficult to enforce and had no funding.  Bill Damschroder, chief legal counsel for the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, the agency that would have enforced the animal order, said he determined that it “exceeded the agency’s authority.” Damschroder said legislation was not in place that empowered the agency to do the things required by Strickland’s order. In addition, it allocated no resources for statewide enforcement.

Countering the argument, Dan Kobil, constitutional-law expert at Capital University, said that it is “at least strongly arguable that the governor has authority to issue an executive order to direct the ODNR to make rules protecting the state’s property … from exotic animals.” The governor seems to have very broad powers to issue executive orders. The only apparent limitation is action that would violate antitrust laws.

Janetta King, who was Strickland’s policy director, said that no one challenged the policy at the time. She said that ODNR has very broad authority to regulate wild animals.

Under Strickland’s order it required owners to register exotic animals with the state by May 1, 2011. It also prohibited anyone with a conviction involving abuse or neglect of animals from owning exotic animals. Thompson did have animal-cruelty and other related convictions in 2006.

In hindsight, it appears that the policy was indeed workable using executive order and giving ODNR the ability to enforce the regulations. This leaves only the second part of Kasich’s argument viable—lack of money. Was the plan scrapped at the altar of finance? If that is what happened, then it is a travesty.

Law enforcement officials know of many cases in their districts where individuals own one or more exotic animals. Several years ago a lion was spotted in our sleepy town of Gahanna. The “Gahanna lion” became a joke but we now see it was no laughing matter. Compounding the irony is the fact that the local high school mascot is a lion. Many people didn’t believe that a lion was on the prowl but it was first sighted by a police officer. He was quoted as saying that when he keyed the mike to tell HQ about his sighting he knew it would not be believed. Later I learned from a police officer that they knew of a property within a few miles of where we live that had a lion in a pen behind their house. The police department thought the lion might have escaped his enclosure and was wandering the area. The lion was never captured despite several sightings.

If some laws and regulations were in place then law enforcement would be able to eliminate these dangerous “pets”. Sheriff Lutz said they had been to Thompson’s property many times but because these animals were pets and not used for entertainment or sold they had no jurisdiction. Can a lion, tiger, or bear really be a pet? Even those hand raised and bottle fed can strike a death blow in a blink of an eye. A veteran Ohio animal rescue officer said that at least 20 private owners around the state have a least 20 exotic animals. “That is only the ones they know of, there could be many more across the state.” He added, “We’ve got houses full of pythons. These individuals will go unknown until there’s a house fire or something like that.”

This madness needs to be stopped now. Do you want to live next door to a house full of deadly snakes; or have lions, tigers, bears, and wolves in the woods behind you? The first sighting of the Gahanna lion occurred just a couple of miles from where I live in a heavily populated community.

One bright spot from this disaster is that a bill was introduced in the Ohio legislature today.  State Rep. Debbie Phillips’ bill is similar to the one championed by Gov. Strickland. Included in the bill is a requirement to embed electronic devices for tracking if they escape. It also includes an emergency clause to take effect immediately if passed. It permits existing owners of exotic animals with federal licenses to keep their animals.

An end to this insanity must come soon. Since 1993 Ohio has had 84 incidents and 10 deaths. Animal lovers everywhere call on the governor and legislature to put politics aside and pass legislation that protects both people and beasts. Remember the 49 animals that died a senseless death. If there is a next time men, women, and children could be included in the fatality count.

Only by the grace of God was no one killed in this animal Armageddon in Zanesville. We might not be so lucky the next time.



Fracking Fray Still in the News

Even though I haven’t discussed fracking lately it is still very much in the news. Over the weekend it was revealed that what appears to be a handbook for conning (or convincing) landowners to sign leases for natural gas drilling was found by a Greene County resident near her driveway.

The handbook outlines tactics and talking points for “landmen” or door-to-door energy company representatives. It paints Ohio residents as friendly but gullible and advises the representatives to deal with the men whenever possible warning that the women will ask more questions and the men are more likely to sign. It also instructs the landmen not to mention groundwater contamination or lost property values and to downplay natural gas drilling and rather emphasize they are drilling for oil. It also says to describe the hydraulic fracturing drilling process (fracking) as being radioactive free even though it concedes that it is not.

Many Greene County residents and environmentalists feel the memo belonged to Jim Bucher, a landman for West Bay Exploration Co., based in Traverse City, Mich.; however, executive vice president Tom Stewart of the Ohio Oil and Gas Association is convinced the memo is a hoax backed by the environmentalists.

Laura Skidmore,who found the memo inside a binder, said she was stunned by the contents. Residents say many of the talking points outlined in the memo were used by Bucher in his talks with the residents. Beginning last fall Bucher began sending packets containing lease documents to Greene County residents and followed up with home visits and phone calls. Meanwhile, local environmentalists were busy educating the public as to the hazards of natural gas drilling and fracking and the documentary Gasland was shown at the local theater.

Skidmore and her neighbor, T.J. Turner, took the notebook to Victoria Hennessey, president of the Greene County Environmental Coalition, who took action to publicize it. She scanned the memo and posted it on the organization’s website, called the media, and notified lawmakers. The memo can be viewed at

Please click on the link above and read the memo—it is quite an eye-opener.

Also in the news, big figures are being thrown about by oil and gas companies. The Chesapeake Energy Company said it expects to generate $15 billion to $20 billion from drilling in the Utica shale in eastern Ohio. For a comparison, Ohio had $665 million in oil and gas production in 2009. These are figures from only one company but several other companies are also planning to enter the state such as Devon Energy, Anadarko Petroleum Corp. and Chevron Corp. These figures from the Oklahoma based Chesapeake Co. are significant as they represent the first estimates related to the Utica shale in Ohio. The Marcellus formation is already producing returns in the southeastern part of Ohio, Pennsylvania, and nearby states. These formations have previously been inaccessible but with the introduction of hydraulic fracturing or fracking the rich gas can now be harvested from the shale.  The Utica shale is several thousand feet below the Marcellus layer and runs across the eastern half of the state, including the Columbus area.

 “There is a great deal of potential, but it’s really hard to determine how big it will be,” said Jerry Jordan, chairman of Knox Energy in Columbus. His company owns about 500 oil and gas wells in central Ohio. If the Utica lives up to its promise, Knox is one of many local businesses that stand to share in the windfall because of existing lease rights.

Jordan, 75, comes from an oil-business family, and he has been in the business all of his life. That experience, along with his training in geology, makes him skeptical when big numbers are thrown around. He points out that most of the state’s oil and gas companies are family owned and cannot compete with larger corporations who can afford to drill deeper into the Utica layer and maintain a series of wells. This could mean most of the profits will go to larger companies out-of-state.

However, as I have written about previously, this process comes with many risks including contamination to air and water including ground water and drinking water. In addition, the EPA has raised concerns about the disposal of the liquid waste that is a byproduct of fracking.

“We’re really pretty far from where we need to be in order for this activity to take place in Ohio, to protect our natural resources and community health,” said Ellen Mee, director of environmental-health policy for the Ohio Environmental Council, an advocacy group. She urges the state to look at what is happening in other states. She also points out there is now more doubt about shale gas than publicly portrayed. A report was published in the New York Times citing internal emails from the industry voicing doubts.

Gov. John Kasich told the Columbus Metropolitan Club recently that shale gas is “the revolution that’s come to Ohio.” He said the state needs to “answer the environmental concerns that are out there” and that “Ohio can be the model for how to get this right.”

I’m hoping this is one promise a politician can keep. I am not entirely against harvesting this resource. After all, I like an environmentally controlled house that is cool in the summer and warm in the winter just like everybody else. And we all agree this state could use another source of income. But I also want to know that the air we breathe and the water we drink is safe and clean. The challenge before our state leaders and citizens is to make these two elements compatible. Can we harvest this natural resource in a safe and clean manner without harming our environment? The challenge is now before Ohio to make us a leader in the field.