Bob Bytes Back Archive: 9/18/1996 Gutter Snipe

by Bob Fitrakis

What the hell is Cynthia Ruccia thinking? Ruccia, running for Congress in the 12th district against John Kasich, held a press conference last week questioning the Congressman’s living arrangement with a male aide in Washington. The Dispatch justly portrayed her desperate attempt to “out” Kasich as a descent into the “gutter.” What the Dispatch failed to note is that they pioneered such “gutter” politics against Kasich a few years back when they essentially used the same tactics.

If you remember, Johnny-boy was meeting with Hillary Clinton over the health-care issue in the pre-Newtonian days. The Dispatch ran a front page story describing the townhouse that John and his aide lived in and the lovely grilled fish prepared for the First Lady. Hugh DeMoss and I shared a laugh at the time over the Dispatch’s all-too-obvious displeasure with Congressman Kasich.

Although I disagree with Congressman Kasich on virtually every public policy issue, I believe his personal relationship with his aide or any other consenting adult is none of our business. Unsubstantiated gossip has nothing to do with political issues. And even if there was an ounce of evidence, what’s her point? One would expect more from Ruccia, a Democrat who decries the same tactics and moralizing from the far right.

Last time I wrote about Ruccia in a feature story suggesting the obvious-that the presence of longtime Democrat and former school board member Bill Moss was hurting her campaign-her attorney contacted Columbus Alive.

Her contempt for the First Amendment and her unprincipled attacks on Congressman Kasich should be rejected by the voters. Someone should have steered her away from the Mike Stinziano School of Campaigning.

Betty’s boop
Dog ate my homework, computer crashed, copy machine broke down. Just when you thought you’d heard all the lame excuses, Ohio’s Attorney General Betty Montgomery manages to take incompetence to the highest level. The Plain Dealer reported that Ms. Montgomery missed her deadline in a key court case because her copier broke. The good news is that the case involved Betty and the Guv’s attempt to foil Ohio’s Open Records Law by having state bureaucrats claim attorney-client privilege. Basically, they were creating a way to keep important or embarrassing information from the public. The Open Records Law is the state equivalent of the federal Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). These post-Watergate, so-called “Sunshine Laws” are indispensable checks on government corruption. We use the FOIA and the Open Records Law a lot at Columbus Alive.

The bad news is that she’s our state’s attorney. ” …and the line was too long at Kinko’s, honest!”

Out of the mouths of babes
It’s getting really weird in Worthington. The case of Worthington-Kilbourne student Max Seeman, who was hauled off in a police paddy wagon at the request of Principal Dianna Lindsay, continues to cause consternation. Much to its credit, This Week in Worthington reprinted the transcript of Seeman’s disciplinary hearing. The transcript clearly shows that Max was removed for not standing-even though he wasn’t required to stand-during a mini-version of a Nuremburg-style senior pride rally.

Well, seems at least one Worthington School Board member understands the difference between a police state and an educational environment. School board member Jim Timko called for an investigation of the incident in a letter to This Week. His authoritarian-worshipping colleagues on the school board immediately passed a resolution of censure and disapproval. They demanded that he not release confidential information, that he not speak on behalf of the board, and that he abide by the first two points or resign.

“They wanted to intimidate me and create the impression that I did something wrong,” Timko said. He said that his colleagues get elected and do “whatever the administrators want.” Their attitude is “we don’t make mistakes in Worthington,” he continued.

They accused him of violating confidentiality by responding publicly about the incident. Supposedly, his utterances as an elected official about a hearing purposely opened to the public by the parents of Max Seeman, with Channel 4 in attendance, somehow violated confidentiality.

Key point, Timko did not violate the confidence of the board by responding to a newspaper story. No one told the other educational jackboots on the Worthington board that something has to be a secret first to be considered confidential. Perhaps it was a breach of idiocy. He wasn’t dense enough to be on the Worthington school board.

On the plus side, students in Worthington Kilbourne’s American Radicalism class requested a discussion on the issue between Dr. Lindsay and Joan Seeman, Max’s mother. They must be reading too much Thomas Jefferson, Thomas Paine and Abe Lincoln.