Saturday, August 13, 2005

 

RON: Why a redistricting change

The simplest reason for supporting the Reform Ohio Now amendment to end gerrymandering and turn district drawing over to an independent board is that nearly none of the Ohio House, Ohio Senate or Ohio Congressional races are competitive.

Consider these statistics about the margins of victory (MOV=winners % of vote - next largest vote getter) from the elections in 2004:
Ohio Senate (races 16 districts in 2004)
Districts with 10%>MOV - 1 (#20)
Districts with 20%>MOV>10% - 1 (#18)
Districts with 30%>MOV>20% - 6 (#2, 6, 8, 10, 16, 24)
Districts with 40%>MOV>30% - 5 (#4, 14, 38, 30, 32)
Districts with 99%>MOV>40% - 1 (#12)
Districts where winner was unopposed - 2 (#22, 26)
Average MOV - 38%
Thus, if we define a competitive race for the sake of simplicity as one there the MOV was less than 20%, then only 12.5% or 1 out of 8 races was competitive.
Ohio House (races in 99 districts in 2004)

Districts with 10%>MOV - 14
Districts with 20%>MOV>10% - 12
Districts with 30%>MOV>20% - 15
Districts with 40%>MOV>30% - 20
Districts with 99%>MOV>40% - 17
Districts where winner was unopposed - 22
Average MOV - 43%
Using the same definition of "competitive race" as above, 26% or about 1 out of 4 races was competitive. Although this is slightly better than in the Ohio Senate, the average MOV was much greater in the Ohio House races, in part because in nearly 1 out of 4 races the winner ran unopposed.
Ohio Congress (races in 18 districts in 2004)

Districts with 10%>MOV - 0
Districts with 20%>MOV>10% - 2 (#1, 4)
Districts with 30%>MOV>20% - 6 (#3, 7, 10, 12, 14, 15)
Districts with 40%>MOV>30% - 6 (#5, 8, 9, 13, 15, 16)
Districts with 99%>MOV>40% - 0
Districts where winner was unopposed - 2 (#6, 11)
Average MOV - 39%
Thus, 11% or only 1 out of 9 congressional races was competitive.

Using a MOV to measure competitiveness clearly has its limitations. However, for those trying to get their arms around how big of a gerrymandering problem we have in Ohio, these statistics provide an initial entry point.

 

Dann demands Taft fulfill disclosure promise - stalling continues

God bless State Sen. Marc Dann. What a ball-buster. He must be the thorn in Taft's ass that poke's him every time he thinks he can sit and get a breather.

After Thursday's news the the Ohio Ethics Commission was referring Taft's case to prosecutors, Dann reminded reporters of Taft's promise to release to the public a full financial disclosure "upon completion of discussions with the commission." [emphasis added]

As Dann notes, those discussions are over, and he has fired off a letter to the Governor demanding immediate disclosure:
In the last few weeks, you promised to make public details of your ethics violations upon completion of a review process by the Ohio Ethics Commission. Today it was reported that the Commission has finished its process and has taken the next step in its investigation and asked prosecutors to review your failure to report numerous free golf outings.

With those facts in mind, your disclosure of all gifts should be made immediately today.
Obviously, if Taft meant what he said he would have released the materials Thursday or Friday at the latest. That didn't happen, so Dann is correct in demanding immediate action. (Actually, Dann continues to argue that Taft has had no legal basis for withholding the information at any time during the Ethics Commission process.)

But, today's Dispatch indicates that Taft and his criminal lawyer are trying - at least in the short run - to backtrack on his promise. In stead of waiting until "completion of discussions" Taft and his attorneys have now moved the goal posts to "when the commission hands over the documents.":
The Ohio Ethics Commission completed that phase of the inquiry Thursday when it decided to refer the golf issue to prosecutors. Evidence, interviews and related material, along with a cover letter from the commission, are expected to be formally submitted to Columbus and Franklin County prosecutors by the middle of next week.

Taft spokesman Orest Holubec told The Dispatch that the governor intends to make the details public once the commission hands over the documents. [emphasis added]
At the risk of being accused of making a mountain out of a molehill, we gotta ask, why is Taft being given one hour, let alone one week, of leeway on releasing the information? Why isn't the headline to this story, "Taft continues to stonewall on gifts"?

We know it was Friday and the Statehouse press corps was probably doing their ole' sneak out of the cubicle early routine, but doesn't anyone besides the Blade's staff smell blood in the water for chrissakes?

Friday, August 12, 2005

 

"We don't talk about hypotheticals"

DDN reporter Bill Hershey today tells how Taft may be on the verge of joining a unique and exclusive group:
If the investigation into his unreported golf outings results in charges that end in a criminal conviction, Gov. Bob Taft could become the first governor in Ohio's 202-year history to be convicted of a crime while in office.

In addition, Taft, 63, would join a list of about a dozen other governors convicted of crimes in the post World War II political era, a dubious distinction for the great grandson of a president and the grandson and son of U.S. senators.

"I'm personally not aware of any Ohio governor being convicted of any crime while in office," said historian George Knepper, distinguished professor emeritus at the University of Akron and author of Ohio and Its People.

[. . .]

The minor nature of the possible charge against Taft, however, is almost beside the point, said [Larry] Sabato, author of Goodbye to Good-time Charlie: The American Governorship Transformed.

"His (Taft's) best-known characteristic until recently was integrity," Sabato said. "This would be a terrible blow to him personally and a giant black mark in the history of his family in Ohio."

If convicted, Taft would not be required to give up his office, but Sabato said the pressure on him to resign "will be enormous."
Taft spokesperson Orest Holubec refused to speculate on Taft's future:
As for the effect of a possible conviction, "we don't talk about hypotheticals," Holubec said.
The staff at the Hypothetically Speaking world headquarters feel honored to be ignored by Holubec.

 

Fedor gets it

Like State Sen. Marc Dann, State Sen. Teresa Fedor is starting to get good a framing the issue:
“This is America, and you shouldn’t have to belong to a country club to be heard in Columbus, Toledo, Bowling Green, or anywhere else,” Ms. Fedor said in a statement.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

 

Ethics report on OH Gov. Taft forwarded to prosecutors

From the Ohio News Network:
A state ethics board investigating Gov. Bob Taft's failure to report several golf outings indicated Thursday its inquiry was complete and it would forward the results to prosecutors.

The announcement by Ohio Ethics Commission Executive Director David Freel did not mention Taft or any details of the agency's investigation.

Taft, a Republican, has acknowledged the commission is investigating his golf outings but has repeatedly declined to comment until the process was complete.
The commission has "completed its investigation of matters before it and will be in contact with the appropriate prosecutors as required," Freel said.

Freel said he could not say more under state laws governing the commission.
Although Freel obviously does not address whether the commission believes Taft broke any laws, attorneys we have checked with indicate that the Commission would have not have another reason to forward its report to the prosecutor unless this was the case.
Rumors have been floating around the Ohio Statehouse for two weeks that Taft and his attorneys have already been in plea bargain discussions with prosecutors.

While nothing has surfaced to confirm that, last Thursday Taft released some information about 27 of at least 60 events or activities that the governor failed to disclose on mandatory financial statements submitted to the Ethics Commission.

 

Things that make Ney's sphincter pucker

Things like this:
AP NewsBreak: Miami Fraud Indictment Expected for Washington Lobbyist Abramoff

MIAMI (AP) - Federal prosecutors are seeking bank fraud charges against lobbyist Jack Abramoff, a key figure in investigations involving House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, The Associated Press learned Thursday.

The charges stem from the 2000 purchase by Abramoff and his partners of SunCruz Casinos and the alleged use of a fake wire transfer to defraud two lenders out of some $60 million to finance the deal, according to a federal law enforcement official.

A grand jury in Fort Lauderdale was expected to return an indictment against Abramoff and an associate, New York businessman Adam Kidan, 36, as early as Thursday, federal law enforcement sources said. They spoke on condition of anonymity because the grand jury indictment had not been unsealed and arrests were still pending.
What's this have to do with Congressman Ney? Abramoff and Kidan were apparently on business terms with Ney at the time the SunCruz dealings were going down. The Daily Delay Blog laid Ney's involvement and the outstanding questions for the Bob here.

 

Morris: The break in the silence

This column by the PD's Phillip Morris is a few days old, but is worth a read. It seems to correspond with what we are hearing from a lot of people on the street:
I also understand that we cannot abandon our soldiers or the mission, now that we've committed ourselves to a free and democratic Iraq. But what is the exit strategy? What if democracy doesn't root? What if the center doesn't hold? What if the violence and disorder continue to escalate, even if the new Iraq constitution is approved by the nation's parliament next Monday?

What then?

How much more American blood is worth a fledgling, prop-democracy at the epicenter of anti-Western thought, culture and values? How many more young Americans will explode, be permanently maimed or psychologically destroyed before we declare victory and allow Iraq to run its Darwinian course?

This administration owes answers, not just platitudes and hero-worship, to the deceased, their survivors and the rest of the nation. When will this nation know that the mission is complete?

[. . .]

There is said to be a tipping point in most wars - a point where the causalty rate becomes too high to sustain hostilities. But there is also a moral tipping point - a point where the purpose and conduct of the war is increasingly called into question.

Last week, Ohio and perhaps other parts of the nation moved a bit closer to that tipping point - a point that will be reached sooner in the current vacuum of clarity and certainty.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

 

David who?

The Ohio First! (love that exclamation mark) group is apparently being run by the Three Stooges.

Seriously, we blew out our milk and cheerios this morning when we read the following in the PD:
Ohio First spokesman David Hopcraft disputed assertions that the measures would increase citizen participation. [emphasis added].
David Freaking Hopcraft? Not THE David Hopcraft? This has got to be one of the funniest developments yet - maybe funnier than selecting the corruption-soaked Dick Finan to be OF!'s figurehead.

Dave Hopcraft was once the editor of the Plain Dealer who departed rather suddenly from that esteemed position. Editors normally don't just up and leave a job at a big paper like the PD. Rumors swirled at the time . . .

Later, Hopcraft become the paid blowhole for the "V Group", Paul Voinovich's company that was persistently involved in scandals and corruption charges.

But, Hopcraft was probably best known in recent years as the spokesperson for the Cleveland Browns traitor, Art Modell.

So, here we have it: the new "face" of Ohio First! is a guy who bolted from the PD under mysterious circumstances, became an apologist for a scandal-ridden politically connected business, and was palsy-walsy with one of the most hated team owners who sold out Ohioans at the drop of a hat.

With the outlines of résumé like that, and with an internet full of data miners willing to uneartch every bit of dirt that might exist about a fella' with a past, we expect that Hopcroft's tenure with OF! will be short - but interesting.

 

NY Times: GOP fears the spread of RON

Besides helping give the RON amendments campaign a bigger profile, today's story in the Times cuts to the heart of the matter for the RNC:
In a telephone interview, Mr. Finan said if the suit failed, a new group he had founded, Ohio First, would take up the cause with the expected backing of Republicans in Washington. Mr. Finan predicted that if the redistricting amendment became law, Republicans would lose six seats in the House of Representatives and that "you'll see this idea spread to other states."
Backing of Republicans in Washington? We hear they are already taking Finan, Kevin DeWine, Husted and others to DC to train them on how to fight RON.

 

PD says Kraftmaid/Masco tariffs are b.s. as reason for LaTourette CAFTA vote

Stephen Koff at the PD seems to be all over the LaTourette CAFTA vote like a bad after shave - and it's a good read.
So when U.S. Rep. Steve LaTourette said he suddenly learned that the company had been socked with tariffs on Central American plywood -- and that they jeopardized the company's jobs in Ohio -- he decided to vote for a controversial trade pact to eliminate those tariffs.

"Absolutely," he said after the vote two weeks ago, confirming that his motivation was solely to protect KraftMaid jobs.

One problem: No U.S. company has to pay tariffs on plywood from Central America, according to trade records reviewed by The Plain Dealer and interviews with industry and trade officials.
About 10 days ago, we were the first media source to suggest that KraftMaid's parent company, the large conglomerate Masco, may have had something to do with LaTourette's vote. We also noted that Masco chief Richard Manoogian had strong GOP ties and had personally given $100,000 to the RNC.

Koff, to his credit, also picks up on this train of thought:
But KraftMaid is owned by a larger corporation, Masco Corp., whose Michigan-based chairman is a major Republican donor. Richard Manoogian donated $115,000 to the Republican National Committee and its affiliates between 2002 and 2004, as well as $4,000 for Bush's re-election, records from PoliticalMoneyLine show. He has stayed overnight at the White House as a guest of Bush, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
Koff also seems to be giving low perfomance marks to newbie U. S. Trade Representative (and former OH-2 congressman) Rob Portman. Koff doesn't actually accuse Portman of spreading disinformation, but he comes awfully close, and maybe Koff has a few more shoes to drop on the Portman angle:
After his conversation with [KraftMaid President Tom] Chieffe, LaTourette asked U.S. Trade Representative Rob Portman's office about the issue, according to LaTourette's statement. Portman's office sent over a document listing plywood products, enumerating their 8 percent "base" tariffs and stating that CAFTA would eliminate those tariffs.

But that list is misleading, according to both a private and a government trade lawyer. It cites the tariffs charged under the United States' normal trade relations program but fails to note a crucial fact: "Base" tariffs on most Central American exports - including wood and wood products - do not have to be paid because of other exemptions already given by Congress.

So there was almost no risk that companies would lose their breaks even if CAFTA failed, trade experts said.

[. . .]

Portman's office acknowledges giving LaTourette a paper that made it appear CAFTA would eliminate the 8 percent tariffs. It defended its actions in interviews with The Plain Dealer over the last week, saying the existing plywood exemptions were not as sweeping as those offered under CAFTA.

"And this locks in the benefits and therefore locks in the supply" of plywood, said Matt Niemeyer, Portman's congressional affairs liaison.

Yet figures from the International Trade Commission, an independent panel, and the Census Bureau, citing tariff collections, show that to be an unnecessary distinction in the claim that tariffs were jeopardizing a big corporation.

Plywood was exempt before CAFTA - and still will be exempt when CAFTA eventually goes into effect.
Something tells us there is an enormous, behind-the-scenes story that explains all this. Given that LaTourette essentially cast the deciding vote, the implacations are huge.

Now, LaTourette is no dummy and he's usually not naive. So, did he get hoodwinked by Portman and KraftMaid? Did he let himself get hoodwinked by not asking too many questions? Did he get a call from Manoogian, himself? Did Portman know the tariff claims were bogus, and if so, who did he get clearance from in the White House to distribute the misleading info? And if Portman knew they were bogus, what is this going to do to his credibility as the Trade Representative?

We hope Koff will let us know.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

 

Noe pulled the plastic for Arnold

Round of golf for 4 at the Inverness Club: $340

Purchasing a 1858 Flying Eagle cent: $475

Dinner with Taft's chief of staff at the "Noe Supper Club" at Mortons: $1501

Buying the influence of a California governor: $10,000

Seats on the Turnpike Commission and the Ohio Board of Regents, and a key to the BWC cash box: Priceless

Some politicians money can't buy. For all the rest there is MasterCard .

 

RON files petitions with SOS

The Reform Ohio Now group held a news conference today and filed over 521,000 signatures, far exceeding the minimum required. The group also exceeded the signature threshold in over 75 counties, again far exceeding the minimum.

The good folks at Licking Co. PAC have most of the details here, and thanks to some of our labor friends, we can supply some photos of the newser and the unloading of the petitions below. The female at the podium is RON coalition staffer Scarlett Bouder. The male at the podium is a reporters best friend: The infamous Herb Asher!

DSCN6849
DSCN6827
DSCN6832

 

RON suit thrown out

We have always asserted that the Ohio First suit filed with the Supreme Court to stop RON was very weak. Apparently the Supreme Court agreed. From ONN:
The Ohio Supreme Court has thrown out a lawsuit from a group trying to keep three election-related issues off the November ballot.

The court unanimously dismissed the lawsuit filed by former Senate President Richard Finan on behalf of Ohio First, which he set up to fight the issues.
RON opponents are going to have little ground to fight the amendments or the petitions on technical grounds. Further, they simply can't fight the amendments on their merits until the amendments are approved by voters.

Ohio First and whatever anti-RON groups may have a few more legal tricks up their sleeve, but each is going to be a long shot, and each runs the risk of reinforcing the notion that the opponents want to rob voters of the right to pass some amendments that they believe will help clean up Ohio.

 

RON vs. TABOR redux - Was it something we said?

We've re-read a couple of times what we wrote yesterday about Blackwell taking his TABOR/LIE/TEL amendment off the ballot. Admittedly, we compiled some notes, made a few calls and wrote the piece in a major hurry so we wouldn't be late for a social commitment. We realize it wasn't our most coherent post.

Still, we aren't sure why good folks like the General at OH-02 have mistaken our comments to mean that we believe "that Republicans are pulling back because they support RON."

On the contrary. We thought we were asserting - and we want to make this perfectly clear now - that despite Bob Bennett's comments, we don't think Blackwell's decision had much to do with the RON amendments at all.

We think the behind the scenes machinations and arm twisting were based almost entirely on the merits of Blackwell's amendments and little else. To us, the "this let's us focus on defeating RON" explanation is essentially just some face-saving salve that Bennett cooked up to give Blackwell a way explain away his sudden change of heart.

And as for Republicans supporting RON, that certainly remains to be seen. Deb Pryce's statements weren't an endorsement by any means. It was simply a warning about the obvious mood in Ohio: that Republican opposition to the RON amendments could actually improve the chances of the amendments being passed.

We apologize for the cliche, but the GOP is truly between a rock and a hard place when it comes to RON. Everyone expects that they can easily raise $10-$15 million to fight RON. And everyone seems to believe that much of the guidance for opposing RON is coming out of DC.

The problem is that RON is already being framed (in a good way) as a David vs. Goliath, common people vs. big money, democracy vs. self-serving politicians, and citizens vs. unaccountable Republicans battle. A vicious, money-heavy anti-RON campaign will risk reinforcing the very frames that are causing RON to become more and and more popular. We aren't saying a dirty, Rovian campaign can't succeed, but right now we think the momentum is strongly in favor of the pro-RON forces. And, we think the anti-RON campaign without the presence of the Blackwell amendment will be pretty much the same as it would have been if he had gone forward to put it on the ballot.

And, we still stand by our belief that the pro-RON forces benefit from not having to compete with the anti-TABOR coalition for funds, volunteers, endorsements, etc. The parallel campaigns had caused significant strains and not a little grumbling. Some potential backers felt they had to put all their marbles in either one campaign or the other - but not both. Blackwell's retreat has pretty much made that a moot point.

Still, the fact remains that there is still a lot to learn about what motivated Blackwell to commit tabor interruptus. We heard rumblings of some more extensive political or financial deals involving Blackwell, with Bennett as the broker. Friends promise to fill us in in a few days.

 

Fingerpointing starts over Blackwell's retreat

Kenny Blackwell's decision yesterday to take his awful TEL amendment off the 2005 ballot has unleashed a lot of pent-up commentary from this fellow GOPers.

Betty Montgomery and her backers were among the first to come out blasting Blackwell's stumbling effort. From a report on WCPO-TV:
However, the pullback showed Blackwell's lack of support among rank-and-file Republicans, said Mark Weaver, a consultant to the campaign of Betty Montgomery, the state auditor who is also running for the GOP nomination for governor.
In the Dispatch, Weaver added a jab at the amendment itself:
"This is more of a campaign stunt than a serious policy idea."

Weaver also sarcastically raised some questions about Blackwell's support:
"It shows how weak his grassroots organization is," Weaver said. "He'll have more time to campaign for it in 2006, since he won't be our party's nominee."
The Dispatch story cited an unnamed source "close to Blackwell" (probably someone named Brennan) who claimed that "Republican leaders have pledged to work toward building a broader GOP coalition to back his amendment."

That's clearly bullshit since other Republicans are stepping up to take a swing at Blackwell and are making it clear that if a spending amendment passes, it's not going to look anything like Kenny's. Again from WCPO:
"It gives those of us that aren't sold on the TEL [tax-expenditure limits] as the ideal way ... to articulate that to the secretary of state," Harris said. "We agree to disagree at this point, but we continue to talk to each other."
Likewise in the Dispatch:
Senate President Bill M. Harris is opposed to the amendment, calling it unnecessary. And Speaker Jon A. Husted has said that the recently approved two-year budget increases are below what Blackwell proposes.
And the king of damning-with-faint-praise is GOP chair Bob Bennett:
Bennett said that although he doesn’t agree with everything in Blackwell’s amendment, he generally supports it.
And Bennett also says publicly that kissing one's sister isn't so bad either.

This doesn't make Montgomery, Weaver, Harris, Husted, or Bennett heroes by any means. They are just a little more political savvy and are trying to slide their pork-barrelled Third Frontier through the 2005 elections.

The reality is that the cyclone of support that is being generated for the three Reform Ohio Now amendments is going to rip the Republican ranks to shreds - as would Blackwell's amendment - and that facing both storms was more than the mainstream Republicans could take.

Monday, August 08, 2005

 

Breaking: Blackwell suspends TABOR effort

Whether you call it the TABOR amendment or the LIE amendment or a Tax Expenditure Limitation amendment, Sec. of State Ken Blackwell's efforts to hamstring government operations has suddently been been brought to a screeching halt today - at least for 2005 - just two days before the deadline for submitting the necessary petitions.

Blackwell is now vowing that they will move to put the measure on the ballot in 2006. And, GOP leaders are claiming, perhaps facetiously, that the move will help them focus on defeating the Reform Ohio Now amendments.

The issue now is, what happened to Blackwell, and what impact if any will it have on the RON amendments?

We're sure in the days ahead that there will be lots of speculation, debate and theorizing about how the brakes got put on Blackwell's trainwreck of a constitutional amendment, but it seems pretty clear that Blackwell must have been on the receiving end of a threat/offer he could not refuse.

Evidence? After months of thumbing his nose at the GOP establishment and positioning himself as the renegade and the only non-RINO in the party's gubernatorial stable, the press release today suggests anything but rebelious thinking:
"After consultation with legislative leadership, Ohio Republican Party Chairman Bob Bennett and TEL supporters, the committee decided this issue deserves the widest possible exposure and debate," said Citizens for Tax Reform Honorary Chairman, Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell. "The 2006 General Election ballot gives Ohio voters that opportunity."
Blackwell even goes so mainstream that he gives space in his release to allow Bennett to bloviate on his own:
"I applaud Ken Blackwell's leadership on this issue, and his decision to move the proposed amendment to the gubernatorial ballot is a service to the voters of Ohio. It gives Ohioans an opportunity to hear substantive debate on a major policy initiative before making a decision that impacts all of state government.

"This gesture by Secretary Blackwell will allow us to focus our resources this year on defeating the special interest amendments being pushed by pro-Democrat unions and liberal activist groups."
We have several opinions about what Bennett is saying. First, there is no - repeat, no - benefit to Blackwell to allow more debate on his amendment. As a matter of fact, all of the polls, focus group data, etc. that we've seen or had summarized for us indicates that Blackwells support decreases with debate. In other words, the more debate there is, the more skeptical voters become of his amendment and the more convinced they are that it is a risky gimmick.
We also don't buy this, "let's focus on defeating RON" line of thinking for several reasons. One big reason is that a lot of Republicans have no intention of opposing RON, and some may actually endorse it. Last week we had the interesting statements from Deb Pryce telling her fellow Republicans to wise up:
Ohioans likely won’t listen to incumbent GOP officeholders detailing the evils of the [RON] proposals.
Another reason is that the Ohio (and national) GOP seem in a panic about the Paul Hackett campaign and the mood of Ohioans. It's not that they are off message. It's that they have no message when it comes to running affairs in the state.

Some supporters of Blackwell's must have realized that his connection to the amendment and the pay-to-play links among his financial backers could make the whole thing blow up in their face.

Another flaw in the "focus on RON" thinking is that it also allows RON supporters to focus their efforts, too. It's been no secret that many of the same groups that have been opposing Blackwell's amendment are also behind the RON amendments. The competing amendments would have forced these groups to split their scarce resources and staff between the two campaigns. Now the decks are cleared for an all-out, pro-RON drive that we think would ultimately become the battle-tested structure to challenge Blackwell in 2006.

We use the subjunctive "would" here because we aren't convinced that Blackwell's amendment will be on the ballot in 2006, at least in its current form. Yes, we understand that Blackwell says he will file his petitions on Aug. 11 for 2006, but that doesn't really mean anything.

The fact of the matter is that the Republicans, themselves, have been trying to water down the amendment for some time. Support for softened legislative version never reached a critical mass this year, but there was plenty of debate and scheming behind the scenes, and now Republicans seem to be hinting that this is the direction they intend to go in 2006. For example, a bulletin from the Gongwer News Service (subscription required) raised this possibility:
Key Republicans have argued that a modified version of the plan would aid GOP election efforts in 2006.
Why a modified version? Because many Ohio business people and elected officials have what a mess Colorado's TABOR amendment has made of that state's educational, health care, tax and infrastructure systems. At the same time, many legal and public policy experts who have read over Blackwell's amendment have reached an opinion that it will trigger major service cuts, expensive special elections and a tidal wave of lawsuits. When even groups like the Ohio Chamber of Commerce express doubts about a Republican amendment, it's time to go back to the drawing board.

Pols and pundits will debate this development for sometime. It will be interesting to see what Betty Montgomery and Jim Petro have to say, publicly and privately.

Regardless, we see Blackwell's decision not to proceed this year as a sign of fundamental weakness. We strongly believe that the RON amendment backers are the only winners in the short run. Long term, we'll have to see how the various groups take advantage of the extra year, but we think that the chances are good that none of it will ultimately work out in Blackwell or the Ohio GOP's favor.

 

Strickland's website: It's alive!

A few weeks ago we ragged on the Strickland campaign for it's pitiful home page. Now we are pleased to note that his staff had made a substantial upgrade that even includes a blog.

Check it out.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

 

Blade: Ohio Second?

The Drew Crew is on the ball again:
Ohio First? Well, maybe second.

Ohio First, Inc., the nonprofit organization quietly created last month to fight proposed constitutional reforms of Ohio's election system, was incorporated in the state of Delaware.

"That tells us Republican politicians are so entrenched and arrogant that they don't get the fact that, if they're going to call themselves Ohio First, they should at least pretend that they are," House Minority Leader Chris Redfern (D., Catawba Island) said.

Ohio First opted not to file its incorporation papers with Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell's office and instead incorporated on July 6 as a religious nonprofit entity with the Delaware Department of State.

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