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Bob and Harvey Discuss Gov. Kasich’s Environmental Record

rainbow bob

Fight Back – Episode: 08/28/15 Governor John Kasick’s (sic) environmental record

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10 Ways Kasich Hurts Ohioans

by Bob Fitrakis
OCTOBER 22, 2014

It’s hard to believe that our twitchy governor, John Kasich, is projected to easily win re-election. Remember, this is the man who went to Cleveland and told Browns football fans that he rooted for their arch-rival, the Steelers. But his real loyalty has always been to the rich and powerful. In the era of the Kent State shooting, he was one of Nixon’s Stepford-clone youth.

His new allegiance is to his media mentor, Rupert Murdoch. In 2012, the creator of right-wing agi-prop and faux news gave $1 million to the Republican Governor’s Association to get his bloviator elected in his first election. Kasich has returned the loyalty by pledging eternal fealty to “unnatural persons” called corporations.

After working for Murdoch and prior to being elected, Kasich spent his time hawking junk assets for the now-defunct Lehman Brothers investment bankers. He helped sell these worthless assets to the tune of $500 million into Ohio’s public retirement system, particularly the State Teacher’s pension funds. He made untold millions, which he refused to disclose, while looting the pensions of school teachers and public employees.

As soon as Kasich entered office he attacked the public employees he had just ripped off through Lehman brothers. On March 31, 2011, Kasich signed the draconian Senate Bill 5 into law. The new law required that no salary increases could be based on seniority and it drastically limited collective bargaining for the 360,000 public union workers in Ohio. Kasich told them to get on the bus, or get run over.

Now, the quirky governor’s campaign commercials claim he “listened.” Indeed, the bus was hijacked by working people in the form of 1.3 million signatures to repeal the bill. On election night 2011, Issue 2 supporting Kasich’s anti-union law failed 61 percent -39 percent.

Who Kasich really listens to is the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). More than three decades ago, this corporate front masquerading as an advocate for “limited government” and “free markets” began plotting to make the 1 percent richer and steal the wealth of our nation’s working class.

ALEC lists among its key founders Paul Weyrich, who openly advocates suppressing poor and minority voters, as well as the white supremacist, the late Senator Jesse Helms. Also on the ALEC website there’s a note stating “Among those who are involved with ALEC in the formative years were … John Kasich of Ohio.”

ALEC, now primarily funded by the notorious Koch Brothers, provided Senate Bill 5 as its model legislation and its legislation is a manual for destroying worker’s rights under the guise of “saving taxpayers money.”

WORKERS

Under Kasich, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia, Ohio stood as one of the two worst economies in the nation at the end of 2013. When he took office in January 2011, Ohio ranked 26th in private sector job growth. While Kasich is running hard as a “job creator,” the U.S. Department of Labor notes that the state is 46th nationally.

From January-August 2014, the Buckeye state gained a mere 5,289 jobs. Also, while the rest of the nation has regained all of the jobs lost during the 2008 economic meltdown, Kasich still needs to create 213,000 new jobs just to return to pre-recession numbers in Ohio. The Kasich campaign keeps reiterating that “Kasich works.” The question is, for whom? If re-elected, the rumor is Kasich will turn Ohio into a “right to work” state.

CHILDREN

Kasich’s ALEC handbook includes the destruction of public education. Since taking office, Kasich has cut more than half a billion dollars from public education in Ohio. He also has failed to change the unconstitutional funding formula for the state’s K-12 school system. He increased charter school funding by $57 million, in particular, rewarding White Hat Management that runs many of Ohio’s charter schools and whose owner is a big Republican donor.

ENVIRONMENTALISTS

When Ohio Governor John Kasich first took office, he killed a train line –meant to restore passenger service between Cleveland, Columbus and Cincinnati. Kasich’s reasons may have made sense in a Tea Party world. But some $400 million had already been secured. When it died, all that money left the state, along with untold jobs and income. Hugely expensive highway projects have followed with intense environmental damage and instant obsolescence. Columbus may be the western world’s largest capital city without passenger rail service.

This June, Kasich signed the controversial Senate Bill 310 that froze Ohio’s renewable energy and energy efficiency standards at their present levels for two years. A report from the Ohio Advanced Energy Economy documented that between 2009 and 2013, the law Kasich overturned – the Renewable Energy Standards (RES) law – cost $456 million to implement, but saved Ohio residents $1.03 billion.

Since RES was implemented, more than $1 billion had been invested in Ohio by private renewable energy companies, some who now say they will move out of the state. Six weeks prior to Kasich signing S.B. 310, oil magnate David Koch donated $12,155 to Kasich’s re-election campaign – the maximum allowed under law.

On people’s right to clean water, Kasich has been a complete failure. Not only has he allowed the people of Toledo to be afflicted by toxic water, he has also permitted radioactive fracking water to be dumped in our state from Pennsylvania and West Virginia.

In one of the most cynical moves imaginable, when it was discovered that the fracking water being shipped into Ohio from Pennsylvania and West Virginia had high rates of radioactivity, Kasich assigned the rangers of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources to solve the problem, relieving the more competent Ohio Environmental Protection Agency and Ohio Health Department of duty. These were the agencies that uncovered the radioactivity. And like his original mentor Nixon, Kasich developed a fracktivist “enemies list” targeting environmentalists for harassment.

WOMEN

While Kasich’s current commercials make him sound like the next best thing to feminist Betty Friedan, this June’s Cosmopolitan magazine ran an article entitled: “How Ohio Became One of the Worst States for Reproductive Rights in the Country.”

It is like a time machine taking us back to the 50s: a gag order on rape crisis counselors on talking about abortion, defunding Planned Parenthood, and the “heartbeat bill” banning abortions on pregnancies over 20 weeks. Because of Kasich’s and the state legislature’s new laws, abortion clinics all over the state are closing.

Regarding women’s income and employment rates, the Institute for Women’s Policy Research ranked the Buckeye State a mediocre 33rd out of 50 states in 2014 in economic opportunities for women.

LBGTQ COMMUNITY

On marriage equality, Kasich is a hater. He is fighting alongside Ohio Attorney General Michael DeWine to overturn federal rulings supportive of same-sex marriage in Ohio. One would think the ambitious Kasich would at least adopt the
decade-old 2004 George W. Bush strategy of being for “civil unions.”

He briefly embraced the position last year, before his spokesperson stepped in to clarify things – that Kasich didn’t really understand what civil unions meant, and the governor not support any recognition of any same sex relationships.

In his last year in Congress in 2001, the Human Rights Campaign gave Kasich a 10 percent out of 100 percent rating for supporting equality for LGBT people. Kasich still clings to Issue 1 from 2004, telling the Columbus Dispatch that “marriage is between and man and a woman.” Even if he occasionally invites a four-way with the Koch brothers.

TAXPAYERS

Kasich decided to balance the state budget on the back of local governments. He not only stripped half a billion from schools, but has decreased funding intended for cities, townships and counties. One of his techniques was ending the Ohio inheritance tax. The bulk of the proceeds from the inheritance tax went to counties and municipalities. The tax was progressive in nature, falling heaviest on the 1 percent (wealthiest people in the state).

Also, Kasich’s much-touted state income tax cut benefited his rich friends as well. The 21 percent decrease, to be fair, started under Governor Bob Taft, but the net effect embraced by Kasich was that very few of the tax savings were passed on to working and middle class Ohioans. If you made $40,000 a year, you paid $72.88 less in state tax under Kasich. If you made $206,250 a year, you’d pay $977.63 less. If you were one of Kasich’s millionaire donors you would have saved thousands of dollars a year.

Kasich has announced that his goal is to totally eliminate Ohio’s income tax by 2016. He plans to use the money in Ohio’s nearly $2 billion “rainy day fund” for a sound bite about how he’ll eliminate the income tax in Ohio as he runs for president that year. Ohioans will be further plagued by unconstitutional schools, vicious prisons, declining public services, deteriorating roads, bridges and sewage treatment facilities – public services formerly funded by the state income tax and inheritance taxes.

ELDERLY

Kasich eliminated a homestead property tax exemption cutting funds to thousands of seniors and disabled Ohioans. Budget analysts predict that Kasich’s defunding of public education and his inheritance and income tax cuts will raise property taxes by 12.5 percent to continue to fund schools. Seniors on fixed incomes will be hit the hardest.

WELFARE RECIPIENTS

In a cynical and shocking move, Kasich rejected a federal waiver in 2013 and instead reinstated Dickensian work requirements for the poor. With a bad economy, the federal government was allowing Ohio not to require hundreds of thousands of welfare recipients to report for make-work jobs. Social welfare agencies pointed out that it would cost more to pay staff to supervise the workers than the value of their work was worth. The Columbus Dispatch quoted Marilyn J. Tomasi, Vice President of the Mid-Ohio Food Bank, as stating, “What happened is the state rejected the waiver. 134,000 Ohioans showed up at food pantries.”

VOTERS

In a state where the Democrats, Republicans and Independents are fairly evenly divided, Kasich and his Republican cohorts have gerrymandered the Congressional districts to give 12 out of the 16 Congressional seats to Republicans and make sure that the seats are non-competitive.

The only reason Kasich has a chance of re-election in Ohio is because of our decade-long tradition of voter suppression. Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted (R) has decided that under the guise of “fairness” there will only be one early voting site in each of Ohio’s 88 counties, regardless of the county population. A county with over a million voters and a county with 10,000 voters have exactly the same number of locations to vote early – one.

Under Husted’s predecessor, Franklin County, with 1.3 million people, had five early voting sites.

Also, Kasich tried to eliminate the competition. Federal court records document that Kasich’s office directed the removal of the Libertarian Party from the ballot in Ohio earlier this year.

On the day the Libertarian gubernatorial candidate Charlie Earl announced his campaign and was showing 6 percent in the polls, Kasich and his Republicans partisans in the legislature set out to destroy the third party. First they outlawed the party, but a federal court blocked their attempt.

Using Republican political operative Terry Casey, the governor then orchestrated a challenge to signatures on the Libertarian Party candidates’ petitions. The Libertarians sued, then Kasich had his lackey, Jon Husted, appoint well-known Republican partisan Brad Smith as the supposed neutral arbitrator in the case. Smith was the intellectual force behind the infamous “Citizens United” decision that proclaimed corporations are people and donations to candidates are the same as free speech.

Kasich was successful in keeping a Libertarian opponent off the ballot and made the state even more repressive to minor parties, other points of view, and democracy.

PRISONERS

One of Kasich’s original budgetary plans was to further privatize Ohio’s prisons. He didn’t succeed with that plan, but did save the state money by hiring Aramark for prison food service, a company that is famous for serving prisoners maggots. A recent demonstration by prison workers and unions was prompted by budget cuts to prison security staff.

The Ohio Civil Service Employees Association [OCSEA] called our prisons “violently dangerous” for prison workers. Under Kasich, the prison population has risen, causing overcrowding and dangerous conditions for both prisoners and prison staff.

Of course, you can’t ask Kasich about any of these issues, since he refuses to debate his opponents and prefers to run 30-second propaganda commercials funded by the kleptocrats who made him governor –and want to run him for president in 2016.
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Bob Fitrakis is running as the Green Party’s Lt. Governor candidate in this year’s election. In 1992, Bob Fitrakis ran against John Kasich for the 12th Congressional district and Kasich refused to debate him then.

Original article published:
http://columbusfreepress.com/article/10-ways-kasich-hurts-ohioans

Reefer Blandness

By Bob Fitrakis
10-03-2014

Despite decades-old rumors that Kasich may be self-medicating, the Governor vowed that there will be no medical marijuana legislation passed in Ohio this election year!

In fact, this summer, his Public Safety Department deployed undercover officers into the Community Festival. These plainclothes officers spent their time writing tickets near the Ohio Rights Group booth that was collecting signatures to put medical marijuana on the ballot.

Kasich came into politics as one of Richard Nixon’s freshly-scrubbed “Nixon Youth.” It would be more understandable for Kasich’s undercover cops at Comfest to secure the best dope for their boss. But instead, they were there to show that John Kasich is tough on pot.

You may have missed it, but Democratic candidate for governor Ed Fitzgerald has taken the courageous stance of coming out in favor of medical marijuana. Well, it might not have been that brave. With 87% of voters in the Buckeye State in a recent poll supporting perhaps the world’s oldest medicine. And since he’s trailing incumbent Republican Governor John Kasich by 30% – why not go where the people are?

– The other gubernatorial candidate on the ballot this fall is Anita Rios of the Ohio Green Party. The Green Party has long been in support of the full legalization of marijuana and industrial hemp.

This sets up a wide spectrum of options for voters this year: Kasich’s Reagan-style “war on drugs,” specifically marijuana; Fitzgerald’s moderate endorsement of medical marijuana now that he’s not really campaigning; and Rios’ and the Green’s enthusiastic support for Washington/Colorado-style full legalization of marijuana and hemp.

The tragedy of Fitzgerald’s position is that he was very likely forced to sample marijuana after the headaches ensued from his severely bungled gubernatorial run. Still, he is to be commended for joining the 87% of the state who already understood the need for marijuana as medicine.

Kasich, the Koch brothers and Rupert Murdoch remain entrenched with the 13% still committed to fighting the demon weed. Although if the past provides any insight, it is likely that Kasich’s, the Kochs and Murdoch – like Ronald Reagan, Dan Quayle and Newt Gingrich – have all self-medicated at some point in time.
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Bob Fitrakis is on the board of the Ohio Rights Group and supports the legalization of medical marijuana. He is also on the ballot in Ohio as the Green Party candidate for Lt. Governor.

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Back To The Caves With Kasich

07-27-14
By Bob Fitrakis, Green candidate for Lt. Governor of Ohio

My good friend Harvey Wasserman calls it a “Solartopian Revolution.” In the marketplace of energy technology, solar and wind have won.
One politician stands as the symbol of reaction against Ohio’s sustainable energy future. His name is John Kasich, Governor of Ohio.
When he signed the infamous Senate Bill 310, freezing Ohio’s renewable energy targets and standards, he signaled his preference for the Jurassic Era. He should have changed his re-election campaign slogan to “Back to the caves with Kasich.”
What’s his motivation? Kasich is addicted to Koch. That is, the Koch brothers. Six weeks prior to Kasich signing SB 310 into law, oil magnate David Koch donated $12,155 to the Kasich for Governor campaign. That is the maximum amount allowed under law.
To support his first Ohio gubernatorial election, the Republican Governors Association gave Kasich a million dollars, thanks to Rupert Murdoch. Kasich showed his dedication to fossil fuels during his administration by strangling a Cleveland-Columbus-Cincinnati rail line and turning down $400 million from the feds.
Kasich’s embracing low-tech solutions, pollution and inefficiency is politically motivated. That’s why this year, voters should send him a message and go Green. The Greens propose a state investment bank that will target green investments. We are committed to making Ohio the first state where the majority of the energy on the grid is renewable and sustainable.

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Back To The Caves With Kasich

07-27-14
By Bob Fitrakis, Green candidate for Lt. Governor of Ohio
My good friend Harvey Wasserman calls it a “Solartopian Revolution.” In the marketplace of energy technology, solar and wind have won.
One politician stands as the symbol of reaction against Ohio’s sustainable energy future. His name is John Kasich, Governor of Ohio.
When he signed the infamous Senate Bill 310, freezing Ohio’s renewable energy targets and standards, he signaled his preference for the Jurassic Era. He should have changed his re-election campaign slogan to “Back to the caves with Kasich.”
What’s his motivation? Kasich is addicted to Koch. That is, the Koch brothers. Six weeks prior to Kasich signing SB 310 into law, oil magnate David Koch donated $12,155 to the Kasich for Governor campaign. That is the maximum amount allowed under law.
To support his first Ohio gubernatorial election, the Republican Governors Association gave Kasich a million dollars, thanks to Rupert Murdoch. Kasich showed his dedication to fossil fuels during his administration by strangling a Cleveland-Columbus-Cincinnati rail line and turning down $400 million from the feds.
Kasich’s embracing low-tech solutions, pollution and inefficiency is politically motivated. That’s why this year, voters should send him a message and go Green. The Greens propose a state investment bank that will target green investments. We are committed to making Ohio the first state where the majority of the energy on the grid is renewable and sustainable.

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Is there fracking fraud and lease flipping in Kasich’s Ohio? +Podcast

by Bob Fitrakis
April 18, 2013

The FBI and the state Inspector General’s office are investigating mineral rights lease flipping and falsification of public records in Noble County. Environmentalists claim this is a precursor to massive fracking planned in the rural Ohio area.

One family affected by this are the Bonds. They charge that state officials are harassing them and covering up the theft of gas and mineral leases at the behest of Ohio Governor John Kasich and his quest unleash the forces of fracking on rural Ohio.

The investigation focuses on Form 7, a public record that is filed with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) to identify who actually owns the mineral rights under the surface land. Each Form 7 is supposed to be accompanied by a mineral lease recorded at the County Recorder’s office.

In the Muskingum water conservancy area there are massive discrepancies between the Form 7s filed with the ODNR and the County Recorder’s records. Greg Pace, an environmental activist confirmed to the Free Press that at least one of the Form 7s appears to be fraudulent with a tampered notarized signature. “The fraudulent document has three different dates on it,” Pace commented.

The story begins with a November 10, 2011 call from Jeff and Kerri Bond to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) complaining that a brine tank owned by Jeff Miley, of Miley Gas Company, was leaking. ODNR inspector David Ball showed up and expressed little interest in the leaking Miley Gas tank. Instead, he insisted on inspecting the Bond’s gas well, which they use to heat their home. According to the Bonds, Ball told them “We’ll probably have to plug your well.”

Pace found it curious that the local inspector was “not focusing on contamination problems and didn’t want to pay a lot of attention to Miley Gas.” After the Bonds began to complain about Miley, brine from a tank began to leak into a pond on their property, creating a dead zone within the pond.

Dissatisfied with the ODNR, the Bonds turned to the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (OEPA). The OPEA never showed up. Instead, ODNR inspector Ball reappeared with more ODNR employees, Gene Chini and Tom Tugend, then-Deputy Chief of Oil and Gas at the state agency. According to the Bonds, Ball then told them if they didn’t shut up they would be written up for violations.

Suddenly, the Bonds were written up for an oil and gas well on their property that had been abandoned 35 years earlier. They claimed Ball trespassed on their property without their knowledge or permission and found and tagged the abandoned well.

The Bonds allege that another ODNR inspector Cindy Van Dyne also inspected their property and told them to “keep it quiet” about the leaking brine, or they would be written up. The Bonds claim Van Dyne told them not to make any problems because “Governor Kasich doesn’t want us to make waves so we really aren’t going by the rules right now.”

On December 22, 2011, the Bonds mailed Miley a certified letter telling him to stay off their property. A copy of the letter was also sent to Tugend at the ODNR. Soon after, inspector Ball re-entered the Bond’s 176-acre farm and cited them for having a 2 foot pipe coming out of the ground without any identification. When the Bonds called Tugend to complain about the latest violation charge from Ball, they allege that Tugend told them “You don’t know how big business works, Mr. Miley is using a guess-tometer and a gentleman’s agreement.” Then the Bonds claim Tugend laughed.

A week after the Bonds mailed the certified letter, the Bonds were ordered by a state inspector to plug within 60 days 12 wells on their property that they had been unaware of. The Bonds next learned that Miley was alleged selling gas to Gatherco without any meters recording the amount. Miley purportedly purchased old gas wells for scrap from the ODNR, but then began to pump gas from them.

In investigating these allegations, the Bonds found out that Miley owned 1200 gas wells, but none had tax I.D. numbers, that all of them had been filed with the County Recorder in August 2011.

The Bonds decided to retain an attorney and began to wonder about the relationship between Miley and Tugend.

On March 6, 2013, Kerri Bond met with the Ohio Inspector General and filed a formal complaint. The complaint alleged that Tugend allowed Miley “…to turn in 16 years of false production records on wells he doesn’t have any rights to.” The complaint went on to state, that there are “no meters on any wells – no Form 7s – no tax I.D. numbers!”

They also checked the box requesting “confidentiality,”

noting they did so “due to fear of retaliation – which is already happening.” The Free Press has also learned that Kerri contacted the FBI local office in Cambridge and filed a complaint as well.

The Bonds are also alleging that the Form 7s, used in legitimate transfer of deed for mineral rights, are being falsified in their area. This is at the crux of their complaint to both the state Inspector General and the FBI.

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Bob Fitrakis “Fight Back”: State of the State analysis with Dan Stewart

Bob interviews former Ohio State House Representative Dan Stewart, currently of Working America, on Ohio Governor Kasich’s State of the State address and the real state of the state.
Listen and call in this Wednesday, February 8, 2012
7 – 8 PM Eastern time
Call 877-932-9766

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Here’s how to call in to the LIVE INTERNET radio show:
(on your computer – not on your broadcast radio dial)
On Wednesday nights at 7:00 pm
Go to: http://talktainmentradio.com
Click on “Listen Live”
Call 877-932-9766

Listen to the show re-play on WCRS 102.1/98.3 FM community radio – Wednesday nights at 8pm eastern time

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Will The 1% Steal Ohio’s Labor Rights Referendum?

Will the 1% steal Ohio’s labor rights referendum?
by Bob Fitrakis & Harvey Wasserman
November 6, 2011

Tuesday’s most important vote is the repeal of Ohio’s vicious anti-labor Issue 2.

Polls show the repeal winning by 25% or more. But will it—like the 2004 presidential election—be stolen by the 1% intent on crushing working people and stealing huge sums of money?

Like Wisconsin’s millionaire assault on the bargaining rights of public unions, the thoroughly bought Ohio legislature has passed a draconian law aimed at crippling the organizing ability of working people.

The attack has the loud, persistent support of Wall Street’s hand-picked Governor John Kasich, who made millions as a Foxist commentator and Lehman bond dealer. Among other things, Kasich helped pawn $400 million in Lehman’s junk bonds onto the Ohio teacher’s pension fund, making him a multi-millionaire. Control of that money would be directly affected by the outcome of this referendum.

The legislature’s original passage of the anti-labor bill drew thousands of demonstrators to the statehouse lawn and key locations throughout the Buckeye State. The pre-occupy rallies got ardent support from progressive, union and working people across Ohio’s political spectrum.

But the vast, apparently virtually limitless resources of corporate America have been polluting the Ohio media, distorting the nature of the vote, aiming to thoroughly confuse the voters, who must vote no on this issue to defeat the bill. Since corporations are now considered “people,” with no real limits on what can be spent, the corporate anti-labor deluge has been horrific.

But that’s only the beginning. In 2004, the Ohio’s GOP control of the governorship and Secretary of State’s office made possible the theft of the presidency for George W. Bush. Though highly sophisticated exit polls showed John Kerry winning the state by more than 4%, the “official” outcome had him losing Ohio’s 20 electoral votes—and thus the White House—by more than 2%.

By all credible estimates such a shift of more than 6% was a statistical impossibility. It was primarily engineered by Bush consigliore Karl Rove and Republican Secretary of J. Kenneth Blackwell.

Rove and Blackwell helped knock more than 300,000 primarily Democratic voters off Ohio’s registration rolls prior to election day 2004. Despite the obvious irregularities that defined the registration process, voting procedures, ballot tabulations and final electronic manipulations, John Kerry conceded Ohio—and the election—with nearly 250,000 votes left uncounted.

In July of this year, www.freepress.org posted the architectural maps used in Blackwell’s 2004 voting operation in Ohio. His electronic reporting operation was designed by a partisan Republican firm, GovTech and linked directly to servers at the premier Republican and right-wing tech company SmarTech in Chattanooga, Tennessee. See New court filing reveals how the 2004 Ohio presidential election was hacked

In the 2005 election, a corporate coalition parallel to the one fighting to crush worker rights this year worked on a comparable Issue 2. In reaction to the theft of the vote in 2004, a popular uprising had designed that Issue 2 to make it easier for Ohioans to vote early by mail or in person.

Two days before the 2005 vote, the Republican-leaning Columbus Dispatch poll showed that Issue 2 passing by 26 points, 59% to 33%.

But, on that November 8 (the same day as this year’s vote), Blackwell oversaw the defeat of Issue 2 with the utterly implausible support of 63.5%. Once again, the shift from pre-election polling to final “official” vote count was a virtual statistical impossibility.

For Blackwell’s official vote tally to square with the pre-election Dispatch poll, there would have to have been an unprecedented 22% shift in the last days of the election cycle. Given the ability of the Ohio Secretary of State to easily manipulate voter registration and ballot counting, American democracy was severely crippled in that 2005 outcome, a defeat that may again come into play this Tuesday. (See Has American Democracy died an electronic death in Ohio 2005’s referenda defeats?)

This time around, the Republican-dominated Ohio legislature has already attempted to disenfranchise 900,000 Ohio voters—nearly 20% of the overall electorate. The vast majority of these newly disenfranchised citizens come from demographics indicating they are progressive voters who would vote to defeat Issue 2. Republican efforts came through HB 194, designed to make it difficult for the elderly, disabled, poor, and students to vote. Thankfully, a separate petition drive has temporarily blocked this latest reincarnaton of Jim Crow in the north.

But the GOP did kill early voting on the weekend before the election. This hugely successful expansion of the effective franchise had allowed tens of thousands of Ohioans to vote at public locations the Saturday and Sunday prior to the 2008 presidential election. This “excess of democracy” proved too much for the 1%, which got rid of it this year on the back of one of the legislature’s many anti-voter rights bills.

Greg Moore, head of the NAACP’s voting rights campaign, has said on Bob Fitrakis’s FIGHT BACK radio show (www.talktainmentradio.com) that Ohio’s Issue 2 may be the most important vote in the entire US this year. He also points out that in 2004 the right wing used a vote against gay marriage to attract conservative voters to the polls. This year the Republicans have put a symbolic anti-Obamacare Issue 3 on the ballot to draw out the same reactionary elements.

But the polling indicates that many of those who hate Obamacare also happen to be public employees, or friends and family of public employees – the targets of Issue 2.

Why is passing Issue 2 so important to these Republicans? If it passes, it will destroy the power of the public employee unions in the state. These unions remain the last base of money in Ohio politics for moderate, liberal and progressive candidates. The 1% has already been successful in destroying grassroots organizations that registered lower income voter, like ACORN.

Also, the pension funds the targeted unions protect contain hundreds of billions of dollars in workers assets. Defanged unions would be easy prey for the likes of Kasich, the former Lehman Brothers Uber-Vulture who got rich with the sale of over $400 million of junk assets to the teacher’s pension before becoming governor.

Essentially the weakened unions could lose control of the pension boards and the looting would begin anew.

Thus, even though the forces of democracy and unionization seem to have a substantial lead going into Tuesday’s vote, no electoral tally in Ohio is a safe bet. The theft of the presidency in 2004, and the huge reversal of the pro-democracy margin for Issue 2 in 2005—more than 20%—should remind us all that where billions of dollars and the rights of working people are concerned, the 1% will stop at nothing to steal an election.

It has been done repeatedly in Ohio. It could be done again on Tuesday. Let’s do all in our power to make sure Buckeye history does not repeat itself as both tragedy and farce.


Bob Fitrakis & Harvey Wasserman have co-authored four books on election protection. Bob’s Fitrakis Files are at www.freepress.org, where this article was first published. Harvey Wasserman’s History of the United States is at www.harveywasserman.com, along with Solartopia! Our Green-Powered Earth.

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The Most Important Election Issue In America: Issue 2 In Ohio

Bob Fitrakis
September 6, 2011

Labor Day has come and gone, but the real battle over whether workers are actually honored and valued in Ohio will be decided on Election Day in November. To understand what’s at stake, one must begin with the concept of American exceptionalism — the notion that America has its own unique political ideology embracing individualism and entrepreneurship.

The reality is that what makes America different from other western European democracies is simply its lack of a mass Labor Party or a Democratic Socialist Party. The Democratic Party is arguably the second most pro-corporate party in the western world, and President Barack Obama reminds us of this daily. Obama’s numbers have hit record lows with only 26% of the population having any faith in his economic policies.

In a time that cried out for infrastructure development and large scale jobs programs, Obama instead spent his political capital and three quarters of a trillion dollars in taxpayers’ capital bailing out the financial corporations that had wrecked the system and the large corporations known for investing in machines and people overseas, not American workers.

Only the Republican Party, captured by an unnatural coalition of Christian zealots and corporatists are more anti-labor. Thus, it is no surprise in the Buckeye State, when one of Rupert Murdoch’s right-wing populist mouthpieces John Kasich, seized control of the governor’s office and immediately followed the corporatist policies championed by Mussolini in Italy.

Kasich’s agenda of destroying the public sector unions embodied in Senate Bill 5, hides a deeper philosophical contempt for ordinary working people. Kasich has spent his whole life serving wealthy and powerful men at the expense of those who labor.

First, as a young college student in the 70s, Kasich came to prominence in Ohio by becoming one of Nixon’s squeaky-clean campaign-prop youth. After his stint in Nixon’s youth corp, he managed to get himself elected to Congress in 1992 after tying his campaign to the so-called Messiah, Rev. Moon, who had been linked at the time to the Korean CIA.

After leaving Congress, Kasich threw in with the hate-monger and illegal hacker extraordinaire Murdoch and his News Corp. The agenda of his three mentors — Nixon, Moon and Murdoch — has always been to destroy labor in the United States. All three have been masters of promoting so-called wedge issues to divide American working people along race, ethnic, and religious lines in order to deliver more power to a small group of their wealthy backers and friends.

In the fantasy world of America, still taught by mainstream political scientists, we live in a “pluralist” society where people make their political voices heard by joining groups. This concept developed in the 1950s by noted political scientist Robert Dahl. Like economist Charles Lindbloom, Dahl initially argued that the 50s corporations were counterbalanced by organized labor. This “countervailing power” created a certain equilibrium in American power.

As the U.S.-based transnational corporations grew larger and more global in the 1970s and union membership declined dramatically, Dahl began to rethink his political theory in a series of books. At the beginning of the 21st century, Dahl published “How democratic is the American Constitution?” arguing that the Constitution is far less democratic than we openly debate. His realization that two corporate political parties is simply one more than a fascist dictatorship, by that time, was dawning on the current remaining political science theorists.

So, as the major theorists of pluralism bemoan the rise of transnational corporate power and the decline of labor, Kasich’s attempt to squash in the former industrial state of Ohio is arguably the most important issue on the ballot this November in the United States.

If Kasich succeeds in destroying the public unions in Ohio, he will effectively destroy the last vestiges of organizations that allowed people who work for a wage or salary to actively participate in Ohio politics. With the destruction of the unions comes the new 21st century power slogan and sound bite fascism, where the population will be pitted against each other – new immigrant against old, Christians against Muslims, public workers with pensions against private workers whose pensions were looted or denied by corporations – while Kasich’s friends will get richer.

To honor labor in the aftermath of Labor Day, workers who value democracy must campaign and say no on Issue 2, the repeal of SB 5. But, beyond that, they need to develop new political organizations to express their discontent with the right-wing corporate Republican Party and their junior partners, the Democrats.

Bob Fitrakis is the author of The Idea of Democratic Socialism in America and the Decline of the Socialist Party a book of political theory on American exceptionalism.

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Corporate Union Busters Draw First Blood In Ohio

by Bob Fitrakis & Harvey Wasserman
March 3, 2011

The national corporate campaign to destroy America’s public sector unions has drawn first blood in Ohio.

But a counter-attack centered on one or more statewide initiatives or constitutional amendments has become highly likely.

While thousands of protestors chanted, spoke and sang inside and outside the statehouse for the past two weeks (SB 5 Rally), the Ohio Senate voted 17-16 on Senate Bill 5, a bill that will slash collective bargaining for state workers by banning strikes and giving local officials the right to settle disputes. The bill, among other things, also eliminates all paid sick days from teachers.

The vote came amid shouts of “shame on you” and widespread booing from the diverse crowd of teachers, police, firefighters, construction workers, state employees and more.

The bill decimates a legal framework in place since 1983. The vote was surprisingly close as six Republicans joined ten Democrats in opposition. The seventeen yes voters were all Republicans.

In order to vote the bill out of committee, Republican Senate President Tom Niehaus had to remove two key Republican senators who opposed the bill from crucial committees. Both Senators Scott Oelslager of Canton and Bill Seitz of Cincinnati were yanked from their posts. The removal of Seitz broke a committee stalemate and allowed the bill to come to the floor with a 7-5 vote.

Ultra-conservative Senator Timothy Grendell of rural Chesterland, Ohio demounced the bill as “unconstitutional” pointing out that it prohibits union members from talking with elected public officials during negotiations and labels such activity as an unfair labor practice. Seitz echoed this theme: “It’s an unfair labor practice if they exercise their First Amendment right to call up their Councilman.”

The bill now goes to the Ohio House, where it is fast-tracked and anticipated to pass by mid-March. In the House, the passage is being orchestrated by House Speaker Bill Batchelder. The

Free Press has reported in the past of Batchelder’s ties to the secretive Council for National Policy.


Chip Berlet of Political Research Associates describes CNP members as not only traditional conservatives, but also nativists, xenophobes, white racial supremacists, homophobes, sexists, militarists, authoritarians, reactionaries and “in some cases outright neo-fascists.”

The Democrats do not hold enough seats in either house to deny the GOP a quorum, as is being done in Wisconsin and Indiana.

Ohio’s multi-millonaire Governor John Kasich, who got rich selling junk assets as a managing partner for Lehman Brothers to public pensions in Ohio, will sign the bill as soon as he gets it. Kasich was selected last November with a large last-minute contribution from Rupert Murdoch. Kasich is also a former Fox news commentator, who emerged in Ohio politics as one of Richard Nixon’s freshly-scrubbed youth and was initially supported by followers of Reverend Moon.

Kasich has blamed budget problems on state workers. But a rich person’s repeal of Ohio’s estate tax has cost the state a long-standing multi-million-dollar revenue stream. Like Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin, Kasich also has rejected a big federal grant ($400 million) to upgrade the state’s passenger rail system, which would have created at least a thousand direct jobs and thousands more indirectly, along with a jump in state tax revenue.

Kasich meanwhile has given his chief of staff a substantial pay hike over that his predecessor. He has hired at least four commissioners to sit on a “job creation” panel with annual salaries of roughly $150,000 each. The commission has been structured to operate without formal accountability to the legislature or taxpayers of the state. Kasich has already succeeded in privatizing the state’s department of development.

Kasich tried to ban the media and the public from his inauguration. He has warned opponents that they had better “get on the bus or get run over by the bus.”

Unlike Wisconsin, Ohio has no recall law. The only apparent route to overturning this union-busting legislation may be with a statewide initiative or a constitutional amendment. As the statehouse filled with union protestors, talk spread of how and when that might be done.

Polls are showing overwhelming support for public workers, in part due to the blatant attack on Ohio’s police and firefighters who are now barred from negotiating on safety issues. The bill bans binding arbitration used in the past to settle negotiations, and instead allows management to pick the settlement it wants.

Ohioans may also consider a constitutional amendment to guarantee hand-counted paper ballots. Electronic voting is dominated here by the successor to the Ohio-based Diebold corporation and the ES&S corporation, and other Republican-controlled voting machine companies. The privatization of Ohio’s voting and voter registration rolls corresponded with a 5.4% shift to the Republican Party not predicted by the exit polls in the 2010 election. Exit polls showed Kasich losing the election.

Overall the architectural map of the Ohio election system appears to give private voting companies contracted to the Secretary of State’s office—currently headed by John Husted, a Republican—the ability to electronically select state office winners in a matter of a few minutes on election night. Husted has already introduced legislation to restrict voting rights through demands for photo ID and other measures aimed at students, the elderly, poor and other Democrat-leaning citizens. Without universal voter registration and hand-counted paper ballots, the Ohio Democratic party has little chance of winning statewide office for the foreseeable future, or of turning back legislative union busting.

Key to the national corporate strategy now playing itself out in Ohio is the destruction of the Democratic Party’s traditional base. It is also about trashing teachers, firefighters, police and other citizens who choose to work for the general good rather than individual profit. As Nina Turner, a Senate Democrat told the New York Times, “This bill seeks to vilify our public employees and turn what used to be the virtue of public service into a crime.”

It’s widely believed Kasich will next assault Ohio’s pubic school system, whose funding mechanisms have been repeatedly ruled unconstitutional by state courts. Kasich is a cheerleader for private charter schools. The GOP is expected to push a voucher program that would use taxpayer money to subsidize private schools for the rich.

David Brennan, owner of White Hat Management, a chain of private charter schools, has consisting been the leading donor to the Ohio Republican candidates. Former Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray filed a legal complaint against Brennan alleging that “White Hat’s management agreements with the schools are invalid because the public charter schools handed over nearly all funding – 96 percent – to White Hat and were given essentially no accountability or transparency as to how the funds were spent.”

Kasich and the GOP have already moved to gut environmental regulations and turn the state’s park system over to corporate extractors. He is also expected to attack legislation mandating advances in renewable energy while pushing for a new nuclear plant to be built in southern Ohio by corporations poised to cash in on massive federal subsidies being proposed by President Obama (Nuke giveaway).

While the mood of demonstrators yesterday at the statehouse was angry and defiant, there are no illusions about the stakes in this battle. Governor Kasich and his wholly owned Republican legislature are born of unlimited Citizens United corporate cash and rigged electronic voting machines.

It’s thus no surprise that the first serious blood drawn in this latest corporate campaigns to finally wipe labor unions off the American map has come in the Buckeye State.

The question now: can the unions effectively fight back, in Ohio and nationwide?


Bob Fitrakis & Harvey Wasserman have co-authored four books on election protection at http://www.freepress.org, where Bob’s Fitrakis Files books appear. Harvey Wasserman’s History of the United States is at http://www.harveywasserman.com. Originally published by http://www.freepress.org