Vote No on Issue 2

Liar, liar, pants on fire!

Vote NO on Issue 2

My conservative nature causes me to wince when I call a person a liar but in the case of Issue 2 there are no other words for what is happening. The supporters for Issue 2 have resorted to lies and smear campaigns to keep the legislation on the books that was SB 5.


Lie #1—State workers don’t pay their fair share for benefits

Gov. Kasich constantly says in his commercials that he is merely asking state workers to pay their fair share for benefits. He claims that he is asking state workers to pay 10 to 15% for their health care and retirement benefits. Well, guess what—they already pay that amount. My husband is a retired state worker and has paid into his benefits from the beginning. They also claim that it is unfair state and public workers get pension benefits for life! Yes, they do and should—those benefits aren’t a gift—they are what the workers have paid into instead of social security or a 401K. Considering the current debates nationally over social security, the Republicans should be happy with this because state workers do not get social security.

Lie #2—State workers are paid 43% more

State workers are paid 43% more! That is according to Kasich. REALLY? If that is true I want to know where all that extra money is. It certainly isn’t in our pockets. If public workers receive that much then everyone and his brother would be lined up for state jobs.

Lie #3—“Joe the Teacher” is no ordinary teacher

An ad which appears to be an ordinary teacher has been running in which he praises Issue 2. In reality, “Joe the Teacher” is Kyle Farmer, a self-described “political operative” who is chairman of the Fairfield County GOP. Farmer is not just an ordinary teacher but played a prominent role in Kasich’s 2010 campaign and has political ambitions of his own. It is rumored that he plans to run for the Ohio House of Representatives. Adding insult to injury, the small school district where he lives has already suffered a $330,000 in cuts or nearly 17% over the status quo.

Lie #4—Granny Gate

Perhaps the best example of the lies from this campaign is the now famous Grandma Quinn commercial in which the Vote Yes people took her emotional ad for voting NO, twisted her words, and took them out of context to make it appear she was in favor of Kasich’s SB 5. (See Opponents of “Vote No on Issue 2” stoop to new low—)Compounding this error was Kasich’s arrogant comment that he didn’t see anything wrong with this tactic saying “It is fine” and shifting the blame to his opponents who originally used the commercial.

Be reasonable and support the hard-working middle class

Now Kasich has become the smiling, innocent-looking face urging people to vote “yes” on Issue 2 and appealing to state workers that he is merely asking they pay their fair share. He is pleading for everyone to be “reasonable”. As I previously stated, state workers already pay their fair share so now it looks like it is time for Gov. Kasich to be reasonable.

State workers are not the problem. They are concerned, hard-working individuals who don’t deserve the blame for the economic mess this state is in—neither do the nurses, police, firefighters, or teachers. These are the people who make up the hard-working middle class that is quickly disappearing from the American scene.

This legislation is just another effort to decimate the middle class. The politicians turned their backs on this important segment of society when they passed SB 5. It took away the bargaining powers for unions in their dealings with government employees. Strikes are banned and so is binding arbitration for police and firefighters. In the event of a “stonewall” during negotiations, this bill gives the governing body rights to implement its own last offer, with no recourse for the unions/workers. This sounds dictatorial to me. Would you like to be in a job where you have no say in your pay or working conditions?

Behind the scenes stakes

Much more is at stake with the passage or failure of Issue 2 than just what may happen to government and public employees. It could also have a huge impact on the future of a two-party system in the state of Ohio and Gov. Kasich’s future in politics. When this bill went through the Senate, even Republicans in the Republican controlled senate foresaw problems and the bill narrowly passed by a vote of 17-16, even though they controlled 23 of the 33 seats.

Blind PAC arms of the Republican Party are pumping millions of dollars into the passage of Issue 2. This is seen as not just as an attempt to break the unions but also an attempt to weaken the Democratic Party. Traditionally the Democratic Party has been associated with the workers and the Republican Party has been associated with big business. Many see this campaign to break unions not only here in Ohio but other states as an attempt to weaken the Democratic Party over-all.  Dale Butland, a Columbus-based Democratic consultant, said many see the true motivation of this movement is to defund the Democratic Party and ensure a one-party rule….

Many agree that the world is not the same and changes need to be made. These are tough economic times and sacrifices are needed everywhere. However, when given the opportunity to voice their opinions and voluntarily work with management, the public workers have been very cooperative. They have given up over $1 billion dollars in pay and benefits over the last several years.

Be an educated voter

 Don’t fall for their lies. Let the legislators know that Ohioans are proud, responsible, and well-informed voters. We won’t allow one party or the other to impose heavy-handed, dictatorial measures on the workers of this state. A lot is riding on your vote. Support those who are the backbone of our society and vote NO on Issue 2 tomorrow, November 8.

 NOTE:  This blog post was written several days ago but when I tried to post it to my site the day before Election Day my internet connection mysteriously quit. Before posting I visited my blog site and I attempted to retrieve several articles from the Columbus Dispatch archives to add their links to the bottom of my post to verify facts within this text. During this research process my computer slowed to a stop until I could no longer access the internet. Now, the day of voting, my connection is again mysteriously restored. Polls will be closing within the hour and although it is too late to possibly influence anyone’s vote I am still posting this entry. I feel it contains important information people should know regardless of the outcome of the voting. Was I personally sabotaged and shut down by someone disagreeing with my politics? (It has happened in the past.) Did I pick up a virus from one the sites I visited? Or, was it fate? You be the judge. I will conduct an investigation and if I ever find an answer I will keep you informed. If any other bloggers have had a similar experience I would like to know. We must protect free speech.


Opponents of “Vote No on Issue 2” stoop to new low

Gov. Kasich and his political arm, Building a Better Ohio, whose goal is to squash public employees, teachers, firefighters, and nurses’ rights have stooped to an all-time low. Their deceitful actions should be enough to convince all voters that their intentions are not honorable.

Recently the Vote No on Issue 2 organization ran an emotional ad featuring a great-grandmother praising the actions of her local fire department for saving the life of her grandson and great-granddaughter, Zoey. In the ad she expresses gratitude for their quick response and urges Ohio voters to vote against Issue 2 so firefighters could continue to negotiate for proper staffing levels.

To her surprise she found her image and words were then used by the opposing team. Building a Better Ohio used her words and phrases and spliced them together with a female narrator saying that failing to pass Issue 2 will force firefighter layoffs, which threatens safety because communities have to pay for excessive benefits of public workers. The ad ends with Grandma Marlene Quinn’s statement about life or death.

“That’s the kind of stuff you just don’t do,” Jack Reall, president of the Columbus firefighters union, said of the ad. “This is a group that wants us to believe our politicians are going to do the right thing when it comes to safety, staffing, training. Then you turn around and make a decision like this.”

Running this blog I try to stay current of political events and therefore I have my name on various PAC lists to receive email updates. The first I heard of this development was a couple of days ago when I received an email from Quinn with the heading, “They’re lying”. She goes on to say, “I’ve lived a long time and seen a lot of things, but I’ve never seen a group of people sink so low. I think it’s dishonest and downright deceitful that they would use footage of me to try to play tricks and fool voters.”

Quinn adds, “’I’m outraged they are using my face and my words to push their harmful agenda. They certainly did not ask my permission. I feel violated.                                                                          

“These dishonest people support Senate Bill 5 and Issue 2. They want to take away collective bargaining rights from firefighters, police officers, teachers, nurses and other public employees. And they know that Issue 2 will make it illegal for firefighters to collectively bargain for safe staffing levels and harder for them to negotiate for safety equipment—which will lead to slower response times for the very crews that came out to save my Zoey.

“And in case it’s not already clear, I want to stop Senate Bill 5. Everyone should vote No on Issue 2. Marlene Quinn, Cincinnati Resident and Great-Grandmother.”

Jason Mauk, spokesman for Building a Better Ohio, said in defense of changing the Grandma Quinn’s ad, “Opponents of Issue 2 chose to use a personal story to make a political argument, but the same story makes an even more-powerful case for supporting the reasonable reforms we’re asking of our government employees,” he said. “Without Issue 2, our communities will continue to lay off police officers and firefighters because they can’t afford to pay them.”

Shockingly, when Kasich was asked about the ad he said it is fine. After a speech to the Independent Insurance Agents of Ohio Kasich told reporters, “Controlling your costs allows you to get it right, so I think we’ve been pretty factual about it,” Kasich continued. “The problem with the campaign – they’ve been emotional and we’ve been factual. And in campaigns, emotion usually wins. That’s kind of where we are.”

What makes this incident so outrageous is that Building a Better Ohio takes a very personal and emotional story from a private citizen and twists and exploits it to reflect their personal interests. If they had done this with a candidate it would not be quite as objective because the candidate is a public figure. Once a person runs for public office it is understood that he or she loses a certain amount of privacy. A lot of what they say or do is fair game for the opposition. This practice is sometimes unpleasant but expected as part of dirty politics. But, to do this to an ordinary citizen is despicable.

It is a very emotional story.  Zoey and her family could have died in the fire if it weren’t for the quick response and professionalism of the firefighters. Kasich’s Building A Better Ohio group recognized the human pathos in the story and, knowing they could never find a similar story to support their desire to cut benefits for public servants, they decided to use the story for themselves and create confusion among the voters.

Petitions circulated among angry voters backing the Vote No on Issue 2 and pressure was put on broadcast stations to remove the ad. Currently thirty stations have removed the ad but stations in Cincinnati and Cleveland, two of Ohio’s largest markets, are still running it. All network stations in Columbus saw the light and have removed the ad.

Joe Rettof, Finance Director of We Are Ohio, said of the ad, “I’ve worked in politics for a long time, but I’ve never seen anything as deceitful and disgusting as what Building a Better Ohio did to Marlene yesterday. They stole video of her clearly speaking out against Issue 2, chopped it up, and then spat it back out in a pro-Issue 2 advertisement. Marlene’s family and her great-granddaughter Zoey were the victims of a horrible fire on Cincinnati’s North Side last year, and this experience informed her stance on Issue 2. She was thanking the firefighters who risked their lives to save her family, and our opponents changed her fundamental stance on Issue 2 and then blatantly lied about it. Even worse, they’re standing behind the manipulated advertisement and spending millions of dollars to keep it on the air.”

To be clear, Issue 2 is the same thing as Senate Bill 5 that Kasich and the Republicans pushed through the state house at the beginning of the year. I wrote about it in Teachers Get No Respect, March 26; I Stirred Up A Hornet’s Nest, March 31; and Breaking News: Governor, Legislators Agree to Teach in Public Schools, April 1. Senate Bill 5 was passed into law but a recall was quickly put on the November ballot and what was Senate Bill 5 became Issue 2.

The bill provided measures that severely hamper nurses, firefighters, police, teachers, and public servants under the guise that they receive excessive benefits, according to Kasich, that puts a strain on budgets. I am a former teacher and my husband retired from the state’s Attorney General’s Office and I can assure you we never received excessive benefits. No one goes into the field of public service to get rich. Most of the people you find in these fields are doing their jobs because they felt a calling to serve.

Proponents for Issue 2 say it is reasonable to ask public workers to pay 10% to 15% of their healthcare and pension premiums; however, all public employees are already required by law to pay 10% of their pension and all state and county workers already pay 15% or more for their health care. Ohio’s teachers, nurses, firefighters and other public employees have already made great sacrifices that saved the taxpayers $350 million dollars to help fix the budget crisis. In addition, proponents say public employees need to make a sacrifice to reduce the state’s projected $8 billion shortfall. The truth is that Ohio is 44th out of 50 states in per capita spending on government workers. State employees have taken a pay freeze five times in nine years and have voluntarily taken additional sacrifices that saved $250 million in the budget and an additional $100 million in health care costs.

One of the most ridiculous claims of the proponents is that public employees are overpaid and they need to be brought in line with the private sector. In fact, according to a recent Rutgers University study, Ohio’s public employees earn 6% less yearly than their peers in the private sector and they earn 3.5% less on an hourly basis. The average public school employee makes only $24,000 a year and retires with an average pension of $900 a month and they do not pay into or receive Social Security.

Finally, another absurd statement is that public employees have too much power and the public agrees and they are merely making reasonable reforms to bring public employee salaries and benefits in line with their private sector counterparts. However, according to a recent Gallup poll, 61% of the public oppose taking away some collective bargaining rights of most public employee unions. In addition, a recent Quinnipiac poll found that only 34% of the people in Ohio support this proposal.

What State Issue 2 actually does is it takes away the rights and voices of those who faithfully serve our communities and state. It unfairly shifts the balance and all the power to management and virtually leaves the workers without a voice. Let us call this bill what it really is—an attempt to break the backs of the unions and it is supported by big business and corporations here and elsewhere in this country. Recent laws have made it possible for large donations to be made to political action committees anonymously. We know Ohio is a political swing state and wields a lot of influence in the political arena. Many influential people are watching what Ohio does with this political football.

Now is the time for your voice to be heard. Let the 99% speak up so the 1% can hear us loud and clear—we will not allow them to stifle us. We will not roll over and play dead while they take advantage of us. We will not fall for their propaganda and allow big business to take our rights away from us.

Speak up Ohio for your rights and vote no on issue 2.