Gov. John Kasich, his allies and some media sycophants made great noise during Kasich's failed Presidential campaign that Ohio's governor was the "adult in the room" and the "prince of lightness."
Folks in Ohio wondered who they were talking about. Kasich's hard-ball right-wing politics of rewarding friends and punishing enemies in the Buckeye State was anything but genteel and grown-up.
Now the dust has settled and Kasich's once lofty favorability rating in Ohio has fallen to 50-50. Many state Republicans have turned against him and he breaks even only because some independents and Democrats have come his way because he opposed and refused to vote for Donald Trump.
President Trump has put Kasich in the doghouse by masterminding the defeat of GOP state chair Matt Borges, a Kasich protégé, and replacement with Trumpster Jane Timken.
Kasich's playground has been reduced from 50 states to one, Ohio, and his persuasive powers have been curtailed by term limits that will cause him to leave the governorship in early 2019.
Here is where my dream comes in.
On one hand I can be profoundly cynical about politics and politicians (see above), but on the other hand I can be a cockeyed optimist who dreams that people in power can get in touch with their better angels and start doing the right things.
And so I dream that John Kasich awakes tomorrow and starts acting like the adult in the room and the prince of lightness he was purported to be during his presidential campaign.
The New John Kasich would do the following:
1. Stop the business bromide bullshit that he is going to "Uber-ize" Ohio government. The smartphone/ride-sharing business is hardly worth emulating. It just agreed to a $20 million settlement for deceptive practices in California.
2. Quit the tax-cutting phobia. Ohio's monthly tax revenue is not matching budgetary needs because Kasich and the Legislature have insisted on the income-tax-cut mantra. If taxes has been left at six-year-ago levels, Ohio would have a $5 billion surplus, it has been reported.
3. Start helping the parts of Ohio that are hurting. Central Ohio with its state government, state university and cozy corporate collaboration is thriving, but the rest of the state is largely stagnating. Much of Ohio is "the land that time forgot." That is why it voted big for Trump and why the eastern and southern counties voted for Trump over Kasich in the GOP primary.
4. Curtail the charter schools. Most of Ohio's charter schools are lagging behind the public schools and some charters, such as the online ones, are apparently abysmal. Close most of the charters and put the lion's share of the diverted $1 billion into the public schools, who remain the bulwark of our democracy.
5. Drop the "diploma has to mean something" blather and start listening to the public school teachers and administrators. Thousands of young Ohioans will fail to graduate from high school in future years because non-educators are imposing unattainable standards.
6. Back up your promise to end the gerrymandering of Ohio Congressional districts. This has resulted in a 50-50 state having 12 Republicans and 4 Democrats in the U.S. House. Give the Legislature a deadline to act or you, the Governor, will launch a petition drive to put it on the ballot.
7. Stand up for women's health issues and a woman's right to choose. Why? Because you have teen-age daughters.
8. Become the leading Republican supporter of the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare. You used it to expand Medicaid to 700,000 Ohioans. Block Trump from taking away provisions that keep young adults on their parents' policies until age 26 and from taking away the requirement that insurance policies cover pre-existing conditions. Be remembered as the Humanitarian Governor.
9. Transform into the Prince of Openness. End the secrecy over the taxpayer money spent protecting you and paying for you and your entourage's travel during your presidential campaign. I'm guessing $2 million down the drain. And lift the veil of secrecy at JobsOhio while you are at it.
10. Do all this and you Kasich will be remembered as one of the best Ohio governors not as a prickly, alt-right political hack.
(End of dream.)
MIKE CURTIN FOR GOVERNOR. JIM TRESSEL, TOO
My attempts to create boomlets for Jerry Springer and Mike Coleman for governor in my last two columns have failed apparently, but I solder on.
This month I advance Mike Curtin, former editor and associate publisher of the Columbus Dispatch. Curtin most recently did four years as a Democratic state representative from central Ohio. He chose not to run for re-election this past November though he could have done four more years before term limits intervened.
Curtin has an encyclopedic knowledge of state government. He probably has experience running state government, too, since at times over the past 40 years, the Dispatch has virtually been in charge.
Henry Gomez of cleveland.com wrote recently that there are 17 names being bandied about to seek the Democratic Party nomination for governor in 2018. Curtin makes it 18.
John Damschoder, an erudite practitioner of Ohio journalism and politics, recently wrote in the Fremont News-Messenger that former OSU head football coach and current Youngstown State University president Jim Tressel should run for governor. I'd like to see Tress in the fray, too, so make it 19.
-- I perused my copy of the Saturday, January 21 Columbus Dispatch only to discover that it said "Sunday, January 22" at the top of page one. It felt like Saturday morning to me, so I looked at the front page of my copy the New York Times and it said "Saturday, January 21." Newspapers traditionally have been fussy about accuracy because it affects the believability of not just the news report, but the advertising as well. If the day and date gaffe was a function of outsourcing the copy editing and design of the Dispatch to the Gatehouse Media shop in Austin, Texas, let us grieve for the accuracy the Dispatch in the future.
-- The corporate makeover of the Dispatch showed up in the revitalization of its web site in late January. Turns out the design is a copy of one already in use by the Dispatch's much smaller sister paper, the Canton Repository. No biggee.
-- U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown is running scared to hold onto his seat in 2018, as well the Democrat should. Treasurer Josh Mandel is plotting a rematch, having mended fences with Ohio Republicans while cozying up to President Trump. Brown may not have a unified Ohio Democratic Party behind him because he did little to help Ted Strickland's ill-fated candidacy for the other Senate seat in 2016. Meanwhile, Mandel will be able to call on Trump to campaign for him in the economically troubled parts of Ohio swept by Trump that were once Brown strongholds.
While you still can,
Please send your thoughts and suggestions for future columns to ColumbusMediaInsider@gmail.com
(ColumbusMediaInsider, copyright, 2017, John K. Hartman, All Rights Reserved)