Diogenes the Cynic spent much of his life in search of an honest man. To the best of my knowledge, he didn’t find one.
He probably spent too much time around the politicians of his day.
Poor old Tom Zawistowski must know how Diogenes felt.
Mr. Zawistowski is president of the Ohio Citizens Political Action Committee.
This week, he began distributing a House speakership survey to all Ohio Republican House members.
As of this moment, the only House member who has responded is the conservative Clermont County Republican, Rep. John Becker.
According to a news release from Mr. Zawistowski, Rep. Becker tells the citizens of the 65th District (and the state of Ohio) that he “voted for Representative Jim Butler for House speaker because he appeared to be the candidate most substantive.”
Representative Butler, of course, lost to Rep. Cliff Rosenberger of Clinton County.
That’s all well and fine.
But Mr. Zawistowski – and others – would like a little more transparency regarding the political process. (Good luck with that.)
“Surveys are being distributed to all Republican Ohio House members so that the citizens they represent can know, before the official vote in January, who their representatives intend to support for speaker of the Ohio House and why,” Mr. Zawistowski said.
“They are also being asked to assure voters that their speaker vote is consistent with the Ohio Constitution and the promises they campaigned on during the past election.”
Both requests seem reasonable enough.
“The issue comes down to elected members of the Ohio House defending the right of all citizens to be represented in the Ohio House by the people they elected,” Mr. Zawistowski said. “Will their vote for speaker ensure an independent Ohio House not controlled by the governor, as required by our Constitution?”
Again, reasonable requests.
Sadly, those in political power look at people like Mr. Zawistowski as if he’s tilting at windmills. (He isn’t.)
As someone who was (but no longer is) a registered Republican for more years than Cliff Rosenberger has been alive, I can assure you that the questions raised by Mr. Zawistowski deserve answers from elected officials. I can further assure you that no answers will be forthcoming. Trust me.
Republicans own Ohio at this point in time. They will not debate their opponents during the campaign season. They refuse to answer questions from the public and press, if those questions are too tough. The locals follow the state’s lead, too. Let there be no doubt. (Obama’s Jonathan Gruber isn’t the only one playing taxpayers for fools.)
Ohio Republicans often stretch the limitations of their own arms, patting themselves and each other on the back. Last week, Gov. Kasich complimented the new House speaker on his secret-ballot victory and mentioned his alleged commitment to attracting new jobs in the 91st House District. The governor did not mention any specifics as how the speaker-elect attracted these jobs or where they might be or what they might pay. (The new House speaker has created zero jobs and he knows it.)
According to Policy Matters Ohio, “Ohio’s 12-month job growth rate did not break 1 percent (0.7 percent), including the 1,000 jobs gained in October and an upward revision of the gain previously reported for September. Over the same time, the national growth rate (1.9 percent) was more than double the state’s. While the country has recovered the jobs lost during the recession and has grown by an additional 1 percent, Ohio still needs 110,900 jobs (2 percent), just to get back to our pre-recession job count.”
From those of us who have spent 40 years or more working in the private sector, Policy Matters Ohio seems more accurate than the Ohio GOP Machine, which, upon learning that a private company just hired a new employee, immediately takes credit.
We have witnessed similar political expediency in Highland County when one of the few remaining local manufacturing entities added a few jobs and a dubious politician quickly claimed credit. (We’re still waiting for confirmation from the company.)
What’s painfully obvious to anyone who’s watching is this: Ohio Republicans are quick to take credit for whatever success stories they can find. But don’t expect them to accept any blame for the failures.
Let’s consider the latest local ventures at taxpayers’ expense.
Less than five years ago, Highland County had one economic development director. The position was eliminated, as commissioners said it was no longer feasible.
Today, the city of Hillsboro has announced that the mayor’s erstwhile real estate agent is now the new economic development director for the city. Meanwhile, the county has announced that it, too, needs an economic development director.
And at what cost?
And at what return on (taxpayers’) investment?
Less than five years ago, Highland County Republicans decided that one economic development director was an excessive expense. Today, two are a necessity.
Perhaps they are in direct competition?
It reminds me of the joke the late Roy Gabbert used to tell me. “When I first opened my law practice in West Union, I almost starved. Then, another lawyer moved to town and we both got rich.”
Reasonable minds might suggest that these two new directors of economic development work together and avoid costly and unnecessary duplications of services – all at taxpayers’ expense.
Reasonable minds also might suggest that the employers of these directors present an outline to the public of their respective duties and expectations. Surely, they will be expected to bring in sufficient new revenues to justify their positions.
If not, let’s refer back to the local Republicans’ decision of March 2010 (http://www.highlandcountypress.com/main.asp?Search=1&ArticleID=2288&SectionID=2&SubSectionID=20&S=1).
In March 2010, the county said: “Due to limited funds and our access to Rafael Underwood, who is a regional economic recovery coordinator for Highland, Clinton, and Fayette counties, we are moving in this direction. Rafael has been very instrumental in other areas of economic development. We are, therefore, taking advantage of his connections with the Ohio Department of Development to further Highland County economic development and to pursue a regional view that can, hopefully, benefit this entire area.”
That was the last time Rafael Underwood was discussed in open session at the Highland County Board of Commissioners’ meetings. Why?
Diogenes would understand.
Rory Ryan is publisher and owner of The Highland County Press.