Tuesday, March 1, 2011

A Sadder Spectacle at the Columbus Dispatch

Columbus Dispatch risks becoming irrelevant in labor battle

by Michael O'Brien

Newspapers have a long tradition in American politics of choosing up sides in bitterly fought political struggles and a free press is the backbone of any free society - but there in lies the rub. The Columbus Dispatch editorial board, abandoning all pretense of taking the high road, attacked former Ohio Governor Ted Strickland. The Dispatch naively, almost childishly chided the former governor for standing with Ohio workers and their families in the fight to retain basic labor rights. The Dispatch would have us believe that former office holders should “graciously” step aside, even in the face of a concerted effort to strip Ohio workers in both the private and public sectors, of their legal rights to organize and bargain.

The Dispatch seems to feel that once out of office politicians should “seek new avenues where their experience and understanding can make a difference…”. The key word in this statement is new. What “new” issues would the Dispatch suggest the former governor attend to?

Many of the issues facing Strickland during his administration were the same issues faced by virtually every governor in the country, brought on the near collapse of the national economy at the hands of the Republicans and Wall Street in 2008. Ohio’s budgetary woes were further compounded the poison pill pushed through by former Ohio Governor Bob Taft that called for unfunded and unfounded tax cuts.

The inequity in Ohio’s education funding despite, Ohio State Supreme Court decisions, was left to languish by two-term Governor Taft who chose to ignore the Court, dumping the problem in Strickland’s lap. Taft and the Republicans in the statehouse chose to kick the education can down the road. Yes, Taft has remained silent on Ohio’s problems but that makes sense given that, in 2005, Time Magazine named Taft one of the three worst governors in the country, and left office with an 18 percent approval rating.

Having struggled mightily to reform Ohio’s education system Strickland passed a series of reforms that while not perfect put Ohio’s education system on a more sustainable track, legislation that Governor Kasich is intent on overturning.

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