Ohio Guv Race: Weighing the Character Flaws and Measuring the Policy Gulf

The Ohio governor’s race seems to have turned on a character flaw of the Democratic candidate, Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald. The major news media have given wide and detailed coverage to the story that FitzGerald had been driving on an expired or temporary driver’s license over a period of ten years. Out of seven major newspapers’ endorsements, six have gone to the Republican and current governor, John Kasich. The most FitzGerald could muster was a "none of the above" from The Toledo Blade, which dinged him for a "casual approach to the law that would not befit a potential governor." Fitzgerald admits to the character flaws of procrastination and carelessness in this matter, and apologizes for taking "the focus off of the crucial issues Ohio is facing." But this story should not be the last word in the governor’s race. Kasich has also shown some troubling character flaws. And, more importantly, there is a great policy gulf between the two candidates that, given the governor’s agenda-setting and veto powers, would have a great effect on the people of Ohio.

The major news media have also reported several stories that show the character flaws of Kasich — though not so widely nor in such detail, and not in the heat of an election campaign. Let’s take the story of Kasich’s "idiot cop." The facts of this story are backed by a police dashcam video and a video of Kasich’s lecture to the Ohio EPA.

In 2008, Kasich, traveling on a freeway, cruises right by a state trooper on the berm with rooftop lights flashing (dashcam video 00:18). Contrary to law, he does not get over a lane nor slow down for the parked public safety vehicle displaying lights. Traveling right behind Kasich, a policeman witnesses the traffic violation and pulls Kasich over (00:38). Kasich says that he didn’t see the parked police car (1:25). After returning with the ticket, the policeman explains to Kasich that he will have to appear in court or get an arrest warrant (8:55). Kasich again says that he didn’t see the parked police car, and the policeman explains that, yes, the state trooper was there on the right-hand side of the road. In response to something Kasich says, the policeman consoles him saying, "It happens to everybody on occasion, sir, OK, you’re just gonna have to watch out." (10:15) Kasich asks if there is any way to just pay the fine. The policeman says no, and explains that by Ohio law, a court appearance is mandatory for this type of violation. Throughout this traffic stop, the policeman was the picture of a respectful, professional public servant.

Three years later, now-Governor Kasich, calls in the whole Ohio EPA for a talk. Kasich lectures them on customer service, as he had (falsely) blamed the EPA for delaying the permit for a gas-fueled power plant. As an example of poor customer service, he holds up the respectful policeman that had given him a ticket three years ago. "Have you ever been stopped by a policeman who was an idiot?" Kasich asks. But the crowd does not answer. "I had this idiot pull me over on 315," he continues. In Kasich’s story, there was no parked emergency vehicle, because "The last thing I would ever do would be to pass an emergency … are you kidding me?" And he faults the policeman for informing Kasich that he would have to appear in court or get an arrest warrant. Kasich says, "He’s an IDIOT!"  And continues, "You just can’t act that way, and what people resent are people who are in the government who don’t treat the client with respect.

So, the story of Kasich’s "idiot cop," seems to point out some character flaws of the governor. First, the fact that he denies seeing the emergency vehicle with flashing lights, I think points to either tunnel vision while driving or self delusion. Secondly, the fact that he still brings up this story with emotion three years later, I think shows that he carries a long grudge. Thirdly, the fact that he damns a perfectly respectful policeman, with the epithet "idiot," I think shows meanness, arrogance and maybe a lack of respect for working persons or public servants — or maybe just for those who have authority over him. And to hold that policeman up as an example of lack of respect, shows that Kasich doesn’t know the meaning of the word.

Now, let’s look past the character flaws and measure the policy gulf between the two candidates by looking at some of the issues:

  • Energy and Climate Change: Kasich and the Republican-controlled legislature have put Ohio’s clean energy and energy efficiency standards on hold. FitzGerald supports those standards and would promote clean energy business and research.
  • Tax Burden: Kasich and the Republican-controlled legislature have shifted the tax burden off of the rich and on to working persons, and look to do more of the same. FitzGerald would reverse this shift, including reinstating the homestead exemption for middle class seniors.
  • Workers Rights: Kasich tried to bust public servants unions with his SB5 law, and is staying mum about plans for a "right to shirk" bill. FitzGerald will veto any "right to shirk" bill.
  • Privatization: Kasich has diverted public school money to poorly-performing, crony-run, profit-taking schools. He has diverted the state’s liquor agency money stream to his privatized, opaque, poorly-performingself-serving state economic development agency. Kasich has also privatized the prison food service, resulting in maggots in prison food. FitzGerald is known for efficient government, and his county economic development agency operates in the open.
  • Education: Kasich and the Republican legislature have cut local public school funding, and lavished funds on poorly-regulated for-profit charter schools. FitzGerald would focus on creating quality public schools, bring in teachers to shape education policy, and stop teaching to the test. Also, FitzGerald has made college affordability a major plank of his campaign.
  • Race to the Bottom: Kasich has given large corporations incentives to move from one place in Ohio to another. FitzGerald forged a county-wide agreement to ban jobs poaching, where one town lures a business from another.
  • Abortion Rights: Kasich has signed into law 11 provisions that interfere with women’s reproductive health care. These include forcing a doctor to perform medically unnecessary tests, diverting cash support for needy mothers to bogus crisis pregnancy centers, putting a gag order on rape crisis counselors and defunding Planned Parenthood. Those are 11 provisions that FitzGerald would not have signed. FitzGerald’s running mate, Sharen Neuhardt, has served on the board of trustees for Planned Parenthood of Miami Valley.
  • Marriage Equality: FitzGerald is strongly for it; Kasich against it.

Please, be sure to vote on Tuesday, November 4th.


Kasich gets a ticket — dashcam video

Kasich lectures Ohio EPA.


the story “FitzGerald, lacking full license, apparently drove illegally after dropping off woman” – The Columbus Dispatch

ten years “FitzGerald went 10 years without valid, permanent Ohio driver’s license, records indicate” By Jackie Borchardt, Northeast Ohio Media Group; August 05, 2014

seven major newspapers’ Endorsing Kasich: Elyria Chronicle, Cleveland Plain Dealer, Columbus Dispatch, Akron Beacon-Journal, Canton Repository, Cincinnati Enquirer. Endorsing no one: Toledo Blade. I could not find endorsements by the Youngstown Vindicator or Dayton Daily News.

none of the above “None of the above” – The Toledo Blade, 2014-10-19

procrastination “FitzGerald admits to driver’s license mistake” BY TOM TROY; The Toledo Blade; 2014-08-07

carelessness “Ed FitzGerald can’t escape personal controversy on day of campaigning” By Brandon Blackwell, Northeast Ohio Media Group; August 08, 2014 a

apologizes “Ed FitzGerald apologizes ‘for any mistakes I made’ and pivots to algae while Gov. John Kasich ditches reporter” By Henry J. Gomez, Northeast Ohio Media Group; August 11, 2014

Kasich’s “idiot cop.” “Extended video of Kasich’s “idiot cop” traffic stop” By Joseph; Plunderbund; October 17, 2011

dashcam video “Extended Kasich Traffic Stop” – JosephPlunderbund’s YouTube channel; uploaded 2011-10-16

video of Kasich’s lecture “Kasich, Ohio’s governor, thinks cops that do their jobs are idiots” – YouTube user hematt100; uploaded 2011-01-28

calls in the whole Ohio EPA “Kasich publicly berates EPA employees then lectures them about talking to the press” By Joseph; Plunderbund; January 21, 2011

blamed the EPA “Governor Kasich caught lying to the press… by the Columbus Dispatch!” By ModernEsquire; Plunderbund; January 18, 2011

standards on hold “The battle of Ohio: clean energy vs. coal” by Richard Martin, Fortune; October 9, 2014

promote clean energy “Issues: Energy” – FitzGerald-Neuhardt for Ohio

shifted the tax burden “Cumulative Impact of Ohio Tax Changes Revealed” By Kelly Davis, Midwest Regional Director at ITEP; Tax Justice Blog; August 27, 2014

reverse this shift “Issues: Taxes” – FitzGerald-Neuhardt for Ohio

bust public servants unions “1.3 Million Signers, 6000 Marchers and a Semi-Truck Bring Referendum on Ohio SB5” by Quinn Hungeski, The Paragraph; July 3rd, 2011

right to shirk ‘“Right to Shirk” Undercuts the Right to Work’ by Quinn Hungeski, The Paragraph; February 12th, 2012

veto any “right to shirk” “Issues: Jobs and Economic Security” – FitzGerald-Neuhardt for Ohio

profit-taking schools “White Hat Management nears ONE BILLION DOLLARS in charter school funding in Ohio” By Greg, Plunderbund; February 24, 2012

poorly-performing “New Stats Prove Kasich, JobsOhio Have NO Control Over Jobs” By John Michael Spinelli, Plunderbund; August 19, 2014

self-serving state economic development agency “JobsOhio Board Chairman: We don’t need no stinkin’ transparency!”
By Joseph, Plunderbund; September 1, 2013

maggots in prison food “OCSEA Testimony Shines Light On Aramark Contract Infractions, Maggots In Prison Food” By John Michael Spinelli, Plunderbund; July 31, 2014

efficient government “How Ed FitzGerald Restored People’s Trust in Cuyahoga County, Ohio” – Governing

operates in the open “Issues: Accountability” – FitzGerald-Neuhardt for Ohio

focus on creating quality public schools “Issues: Education” – FitzGerald-Neuhardt for Ohio

forged a county-wide agreement “Issues: Jobs and Economic Security” – FitzGerald-Neuhardt for Ohio

11 provisions “Kasich TV Ad Touting Help For Women Fatally False” By John Michael Spinelli, Plunderbund; October 15, 2014

Sharen Neuhardt “About Sharen” – FitzGerald-Neuhardt for Ohio

strongly for it “Issues: LGBT Equality” – FitzGerald-Neuhardt for Ohio

* * *

By Quinn Hungeski, TheParagraph.com, Copyright (CC BY-ND) 2014

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