Warrior of the Week: Governor John Kasich

There comes a chance only a few times in a century for people of a state, or nation to define themselves through their actions in a great epic battle of some age-long warfare. Battles and wars are not always fought with bullets, knives, aircraft or missiles. Some of the most violent battles in the history of the planet never directly shed a drop of human blood, but created ideology that steered the course of the human race through ideas. Those battles take place in courthouses, statehouses, and Capital Hill where the warriors dress in business apparel wielding pens across paper with destructive effect.

Such activity is not what many in mainstream America consider to be war however, and that is why organized labor and other progressive platforms have migrated like a sickness into our legislative process to the point where it threatens our very existence. Collective bargaining has been for Ohio a kind of Trojan Horse where on the outside it’s an appealing device, but hidden within is an army intent to devour everything in its path once behind the walls of their enemy.

Ohioans are now aware that something is wrong behind our walls, from within our state borders, and they elected a governor in John Kasich to deal with that threat directly, and swiftly. That threat is nothing short of our economic vitality and future survival. So it is with great honor that I name Governor John Kasich as the “Warrior of the Week” while he must look out across the lawns of the statehouse in Columbus and see the mass of people intent on further destruction of our state economy and hold steadfast to the ideas for which he believes.

Such boldness as exhibited by Governor Kasich is rare in people, as the intent of these protests that will intensify at the start of Februarys last week, is to rattle his mind. Listen to Kasich behind the scenes here.

Those protestors, many of which are good people caught up in a bad system, just as soldiers on a battlefield are not evil taken by themselves, yet the minds behind the movement represent much of what’s wrong with our State and Nation. The architects of these protests reveal their malicious intent behind protest signs and chants. Sadly the majority of the state that stands behind the Governor is busy at their work, contributing to their families, and communities. While the protesters hope to erode away the resolve of our elected representatives with mass, the truth of their strategy will soon collapse the protestor’s objective.

As seen in Wisconsin, doctors have been on hand to pass out “false” doctors excuses so those teachers protesting can still retain their jobs. As groups like SEIU and the Huffington Post have put their resources to work in an attempt to apply “mass” bringing in people from out of the state to make the movement appear larger than it is, the reality is that hotel rooms and local economies are seeing business that they otherwise wouldn’t have experienced, and that is good for the cities of these protests. The protesters do not have the financial resources to maintain crowds of 70K or more for long. They will run out of sick days and vacation time in the not too distant future. The shock factor and media blitz will wear off and the reality of the situation will become obvious quickly. The true majority will finally have its voice heard over these loud chants from the minorities that pack these state houses. For the way to beat the protestors is to take away their quick emotional victory and spend them into their own destruction, which is what, will happen.

Governor Kasich in Ohio is the kind of man that sees through the chaos to the end result, and that makes him unique. I personally hope that SEIU and the President’s Organizing for America groups send a lot of people to Columbus. Ohio’s hotel chains and downtown businesses will enjoy the increase in business. But the intimidation that is intended will fall on deaf ears, because Governor Kasich is not governor of Ohio to be a career politician. Kasich is Governor of Ohio to do a specific job, and that’s what he’s doing.

I can say that I know many thousands of people in Southern Ohio that are behind his efforts and the efforts of Shannon Jones, along with all the bold legislators that are taking the big steps to do truly good things in the face of attempted coercion.

There isn’t any walking the plank alone this time for this Governor. Ohio has over a decade of frustration that is ready to be unleashed at the voting booth. Governor Kasich is just the first of these reformers. So after the protestors in Columbus run out of their own sick days, and money, once the hotel rooms are back to regular occupancy, Kasich will have a passed Senate Bill 5 in front of him to sign. And he has an entire state hungry for his signature. And for a change, Ohio has a governor with the guts, and fortitude to put a signature on a document like S.B.5 and to win a victory on this battlefield for the fate of Ohio’s future that will live on for generations.

Rich Hoffman

https://overmanwarrior.wordpress.com/2010/12/04/ten-rules-to-live-by/
http://twitter.com/#!/overmanwarrior
www.overmanwarrior.com

The Sexy Senate Seduction of S.B.5: An introduction to collective bargaining reform in Ohio

What’s better than sex?  I’m talking about the kind of sex that people fantasize about in their deepest darkest secrets. It’s Senate Bill 5 otherwise known as SB5

Oh yes, SB5 is one of the most exotic, sexy pieces of legislation ever to grace paper and to come from the lips of a State Senator Shannon Jones. The dialogue and beauty of the text is enough to turn the coldest heart into a lavish, promiscuous, insidious romantic.

So what is this salacious document that I’m speaking so highly of? It’s the first, most aggressive legislation since the infamous 1983 act in favor of collective bargaining implementation, to be enacted in an attempt to stop the bleeding that public employees represented by unions are imposing on tax payers. For more than 27 years this law has remained unchanged and has strangled the State of Ohio in being able to create a positive business atmosphere that will attract business and bring jobs to Ohio. The organizations that stand behind the collective bargaining law of 1983 have little understanding of business and have over those 27 years helped create a complex puzzle that is straining the states pension system and a host of other labor related issues.

This bill is proposed by Senator Shannon Jones of Clearcreek Twp of the 7th District has the direct support of Governor Kasich and will take a major step in the direction of solving that puzzle by taking off the shackles that are draining the tax revenue flowing to the state from the caretakers of Ohio, the tax payers.

Listen to this guy. He’s why we need SB5. It’s people like him that go to those collective bargining rallies.

Among the many items in the bill the primary reforms are:

• Eliminates collective bargaining for state employees and employees of higher education institutions
• Existing collective bargaining agreements (CBAs) covering those employees expire according to their terms
• Eliminates salary schedules and step increases and replaces them with a merit pay system
• Eliminates continuing contracts for teachers after the bill’s effective date
• Eliminates teacher leave policies in statute and requires local school boards to determine leave time
• Eliminates seniority as a sole criterion for Reductions In Force (RIFs)
• Removes healthcare from bargaining and instead permits school boards to govern healthcare benefit plans for employees
• Requires employees to pay at least 20% of their healthcare costs
• Allows public employers to hire permanent replacement workers during a strike
• Limits bargaining for local government employees (including school districts) to issues of wages, hours and terms and conditions of employment
• Eliminates binding arbitration for police and fire
• Abolishes the School Employee Healthcare Board
• Prohibits school districts from picking up any portion of the employee’s contribution to the pension system
• Allows a public employer in “fiscal emergency” to serve notice to terminate, modify or negotiate a CBA
While much of this bill will focus on the state, it will immediately bring transparency to localities. No longer will local school boards be able to blame the state for policies created and imposed on the districts. Step increases by teachers will now be considered raises, as they should be and school boards will be given much more independence on solving their own problems. Immediately SB5 will make changes to teacher’s contracts and benefits:
• S.B.5 eliminates new continuing, contracts after the bill’s effective date.
• The bill eliminates teacher leave polices from statute and instead requires local boards of education to establish general leave policies for employees who are not covered by a CBA.
• The bill abolishes the School Employee Health Care board and instead permits boards of education to govern health care benefits for employees.

For all these reasons and more SB5 is a bold bill that has the kind of power to seduce business back to Ohio and once again make attractive enterprise not only in bringing jobs back to the state, but to reduce the impact of the syndicate style unions that feed directly off tax payer funds, particularly in education, and allows the money to go where it’s needed. Such a step has been needed for many years but lacked legislators and a governor with the kind of courage needed to implement it.

But like any great romance, there is always a jealous lover, the overly dependent jealous spouse that lives like a leech off the life it professes to love. Below is the press release from just such a jealous, over imposing leech of the state, the OEA. They quickly seek support from their members to attempt to strong arm the bold legislative movement occurring in Columbus. Read for yourself their words and bullet points below.

OHIO EDUCATION ASSOCIATION OPPOSES SENATE BILL FIVE

For Immediate Release
Contact: Michele Prater
614-227-3071; cell 614-378-0469
Ohio Education Association opposes Senate Bill Five
Legislation will weaken public service to Ohio’s children
February 9, 2011
(Columbus) – The Ohio Education Association (OEA) is gravely concerned that the Ohio Senate is not making Ohio’s children a priority. In a tough economy and facing a major budget deficit, Ohio must focus on the essentials, and nothing is more essential than giving our children a quality education that prepares them for good jobs.
Sen. Shannon Jones’ legislation, Senate Bill 5 (SB 5), proposes to drastically curtail collective bargaining rights, ban public employee strikes, end collectively bargained salary schedules for public employees. SB 5 targets all state workers and all Ohio higher education employees, including OEA members at Columbus State, Youngstown State and other public colleges and community colleges, as well as OEA’s State Council of Professional Educators (SCOPE) bargaining unit whose members educate incarcerated adults and youths.
OEA believes collective bargaining helps educators pursue the classroom conditions, tools and support that contribute to the kind of high quality 21st century education essential to preparing students for jobs and successful careers.
Collective bargaining is a problem solving tool that shapes working conditions and improves learning conditions. Since 1983, Ohio’s collective bargaining law has created a framework that has made strikes rare and short in duration. OEA affiliates negotiate effectively to avoid strikes and disruption for student learning.
Senate Bill 5 serves to weaken Ohio’s entire middle class. Rather than creating jobs in Ohio, this legislation will hurt local communities stifling job growth.

OEA’s asks you to remember that:
• Collective bargaining allows educators a voice in improving opportunities for Ohio’s students, better classroom resources and improved teaching and learning conditions
• Teachers know best what’s needed to improve student learning , and collective bargaining gives them the opportunity to focus on teaching rather than time consuming employment issues
• Educators, like all public employees, are an integral part of the fabric of Ohio’s communities. Senate Bill 5 weakens Ohio. Rather than creating jobs, this legislation will hurt local communities, reversing Ohio’s positive economic outlook
• Ohio’s collective bargaining law has created a framework for problem-solving that has made strikes rare. OEA affiliates negotiate effectively to avoid disruption for student learning
• In a tough economy, with Ohio facing a major budget deficit, we must focus on the essentials. Nothing is more essential than giving our children a quality education that prepares them for good jobs.

I have heard in the course of my involvement in education reform virtually every one of those bullet points provided above. They use words like “weaken” and “children” and “hurt” as an attempt to stir up the thoughtless escapades of their followers who will repeat those same lines to the papers and other news organizations. However, the architects of those words have zero experience in creating jobs and creating prosperity. All they have experience in is feeding off society and convincing them that their services are so central to the jobs they are employed by that their reality can’t see the truth. But they have to believe it before they can convince taxpayers how important they are. What they don’t understand is that the regulations they have brought to the State of Ohio have only increased in the last 27 years and the monster they’ve created shows no sign of getting smaller. Under the path of collective bargaining, that monster will require more and more tax money until the system will collapse under the weight of their impositions.

There isn’t a successful formula for collective bargaining in the entire world that has sustained itself over time. The attempts tried have everywhere proved dismal failures, and under SB5 our state government has taken the first bold step to get the state healthy again. The rhetoric of the shallow rooted, selfish protectionists of the status quo will continue to rant the statements similar to the OEA Press Release. But none of them have a real plan. They are scrambling instead to find a way to keep the ponzi schemes going just a little longer because the tragedy for them is that they built their whole lives around those ponzi schemes, and it’s evident now that they won’t get out of the scheme what they invested.

For the rest of us, that chose to work outside that insidious system, and work for ourselves, or companies not tied to collective bargaining, our investment in long term longevity over short term gain proved the wise path. And it is our strategy that must be passed on to the rest of the state for the state’s health and future fortune.

Like all good love-making, sex is best when not rooted in selfish aims, but the mutual benefit of both partners. And the good lover knows what their partner needs even if the partner is obscure to the fact. So the sex is best when not done for the benefit of the giver, but for the receiver.

And that’s why this bill is so sexy. It’s what’s needed even when all parties aren’t aware that they need it. When the bill SB5 is thrust forward into the canvas of Ohio History much to the dismay of the intended object, the real impact will be felt only when selfishness flees the proceedings and both parties work together for mutual bliss.

They’ll thank you later………………..

But as many of you reading this know, sex is not good when third parties are involved and act as agents and matchmakers. That has been the role of collective bargaining in the State of Ohio. And that’s why we need to bypass the matchmakers and head straight for the bed.

Rich Hoffman
http://twitter.com/#!/overmanwarrior
www.overmanwarrior.com

The Lakota School Levy and the Infamy of Bad Decisions.

I have said a lot about education, and the danger of institutional behavior.  But this is not intended to further analyze that issue.  This is to cover the Lakota School Levy which is on its second attempt in 6 months and promises to be a particularly bloody fight this time around. 

So let me set the stage:

The teachers have just agreed to a pay freeze under a union contract that took months to arrive at.  The districts developers are looking at a tanked economy where many, many properties are left without tenants to support the tax requirements.  The public in general are also feeling the heat of the recession, which after the smoke clears in historical context, is probably a legitimate depression, and many are barely hanging on to their homes as they are victims of the housing bubble.  Lakota has been around a while, so there are a large number of senior citizens in the district that are on fixed incomes and without children in the district, and their charity is strained to a breaking point.  There is a governor in Strickland that is a big government guy, who is tight with labor unions as his base support, and is very close to the president of the United States, who shares much in common with Ohio’s governor.  To both men, Ohio is a battle ground state where much is at stake politically and the nation is watching closely.  And in that context, Lakota is the 7th largest school system in the state.  It is Ohio’s largest “Excellent” district nine years running with distinction two years in a row. 

I contemplated this heavily while practicing in my back yard.

And it really is that simple if you take the emotion away.

The opponents of the levy have joined together, with myself being in that category.  We’re against it for all different reasons.  Mine are that I see the school system displaying the same types of problems we have in government, where accountability is hard to come by, and everything is fixed by spending more money.  And the school government is so big; it’s folding over its own weight financially.         

The Pro Levy people are typically residents that have children in the school system, and many of them moved to the district because of the schools.  And they are threatening to move if the levy fails to a district that supports levies.  The rest of the supporters are employees of the school system in some way and of course they are concerned about the passage of the levy for their own financial stability. 

I listen to the values of the school system and the things they are proud of, like a 90% college attendance rate, a graduation rate of 94.7%.  A student attendance rate of 96.5%.  During 2009-2010 there were 11 National Merit Semi-Finalists.  There was 1 Presidential Scholar in 2008.  They operate at a spending rate per pupil of $9,503 while the State average is $10,253, so on paper, everything sounds profitable. 

But to my thinking, all those statistics are a smoke screen.  All the attendance stats are to the credit of the parents, who obviously care enough about their children to buy a home in a great school district, so naturally, those kids will go to college, attendance will be great, and there will be national honors in a group that has parents that takes education seriously.  And while it is commendable that the school district does operate under the average, it does not question whether or not $9,000 per child actually translates to true excellence.  It doesn’t take much to poke holes in the aspects of their public service that they take pride in; because most of the merit is simply items they are taking credit for.  In fact, I think it is cowardly, to ride on the back of exceptional students, and caring parents, in order to secure funding for an institutional giant that serves as a catalyst for a powerful union. 

That is the beginning of the problem.  Over the years, the Lakota Education Association has grown in power and influence, and this of course leads to the overall problem of political backing of the National Teachers Union which is an organization that I don’t wish to endorse, because the money given to this organization often goes to political agenda’s that I do not support.  Judy Buschle, who just recently announced she was stepping down as the LEA President, has served as the Ohio Education Association board of directors and the National Education Association Resolutions Committee and is a particularly powerful influence locally, and has successfully negotiated many contracts with a bewildered Lakota board of education committee and lap dog superintendants obviously intimidated by the power of the LEA.  In fact, Buschle has been so successful, that the average wage for a teacher at Lakota is $59,000 without any further benefits considered.  And I make that assessment by attending a school board meeting.   I did so after the last levy failure to see if my opinion of the whole situation had been wrong.  I left that June meeting utterly disgusted.  The board was completely outmatched by the union presence.  Don’t believe me, watch the tape.  They film it and have it available for you to judge.  The union people including Mrs. Buschle sat right behind me and were absolutely disrespectful during the meeting.  It was so bad that a parent took the podium and shouted down the union people, blaming them for the anger from the community as to why the levy failed in May.  I left that meeting realizing that everyone in the administration was over their head with the size of the problems they were trying to solve, and the union controlled everything.  So there wasn’t anything they could tell me that would earn my vote until they made serious changes to their leadership structure and outside influence.   

If you’re like me, a person that loves traditional American values, small government, and is suspicious of institutional influence, it is not an option to indirectly supply money to an organization that will then support a governor like Ted Strickland, or a President like Obama.  Even if I did want to give money to the school, because I don’t want my money indirectly converted to union support for a politician that will then in turn come after the way of life that I personally value.  The presence of the powerful union creates a barrier between a person like me, and the school system that I value because I disagree with the philosophy of that union and the politics they represent.  They certainly have a right to exist, but not from the funding of my tax dollars.    

The indirect nature of course comes from the union dues of the teachers, which are paid with our tax dollars.  And because their contracts make them very secure, and keep the highest paid workers the longest, letting go of the teachers with less tenure when they must, those union dues are then funneled to political activity.  Not the kids.  Nothing against Mrs. Buschle, but my political affiliation is much different than her’s, and I don’t wish to support her activity with my money.  So for me, that is the number one reason for not voting for the levy.  No matter how many presentations they present to plead to the public, they still have a costly union that stands between the school system and the public.  As long as that exists, it prevents my full support in a school system.

This isn’t new for me.  I’ve been against union activity for many, many years.  I worked for one once, and it was very contentious and filled with many stories that will be told around water coolers for years.  Many of those stories involve conflict.  I have no tolerance for thug like behavior that comes from pack mentality that often comes out in strikes and threatened union stewards.  I personally blame that type of organization for making America less competitive and responding slowly to changing economic conditions which have resulted in exporting jobs to China, and India.  And such an organization even locally migrates influence up the ladder to large global affiliations that conduct political movement that by-passes our ability to vote.  I can see a time when unions did some good, but as they’ve evolved, they just kept growing to where they became as bad as the companies they originally sought to protect people from.    

But many dissenters to the levy are voting strictly on cost.  They may have been generous in the past, but can no longer say yes because now they are hanging on in a tough economy.  And while many would love to pay the levy, they simply can’t because the taxes are just too high.  It doesn’t matter if it’s a business, or a residential property, the taxes have reached a place where too much is just too much. 

In response the school system is doing the predictable thing; they are making threats, by passing out on the first day of school literature for kids to send home to their parents lobbying for the levy.  Such literature professes that the school system will have to cut an additional $12 million to the $13 million that have been made already.  There will be increases in class size, cuts to two thirds of the athletic budget including elimination of junior high athletics, the termination of 130+ additional teachers and staff, and many other issues.  Superintendent Mike Taylor made the comment that people can’t expect to see the same good school system if all these cuts are made. 

The reality is that the State and Lakota are pointing to one another.  The state needs Lakota and its success.  And Lakota blames the state for unfunded mandates as a rationale for funding.  And they count on the naïveté of the public to not look closely at the shell game.  The confusion has essentially created a revenue stream that is very lucrative to those who work in education.  And because of the union contract, most of the district’s funding is locked up.  So they can only be minimally efficient. 

Stories like we’ve heard of Butler Country Auditor Roger Reynolds who just refunded $502,186 back to the community, won’t happen in Lakota.  In fact, Lakota is getting back $120,600 from Roger’s office.  Roger achieved this savings by reducing overhead and administrative costs by 35% or otherwise $2.1 million since he took office in 2008.  When Lakota cuts, they say we are losing services.  When Roger does it, he is giving money back to the community.  That’s the philosophic difference.  The cuts Mr. Reynolds did were true, efficient cuts and quite extraordinary taking into account that the size of the Auditor’s office doesn’t come close to the enormous size of the Lakota school system.  The cuts Lakota did are cosmetic cuts that should have been done all along. 

For my support, Lakota would have to separate itself from a teachers union.  There is nothing about that relationship that I feel good about.  I simply don’t want my hard earned money going to union support that will be used against me politically.  That would be foolish.  But I suspect that the rest of the community would require a business manager that could come into the school system and dramatically cut costs in a way that Jack Welsh did for GE, and similar personalities have done when costs migrate to unsustainable levels in large organizations.  The community just doesn’t have the money to support levies the way they have in the past, and now we’ve reached a diminishing return.  The growth was caused by aggressive development, and the school system grew because the people moving to the district came here for the schools.  The funding problem comes from the fact that wages migrated out of a zone that a community can fund, and the school system, and the rest of public education is guilty as well, did not stay within a reasonable budget, but allowed things to get out of control.  Dramatic restructuring of their funding practices and revenue stream will have to be implemented, and they’ll have to do it while still performing at a high level.  And the state of Ohio has to properly fund our schools, because we also pay taxes to the state and expect that money to be used where we need it.  And our schools need it.    

If the levy fails, and the pro levy people leave, like they threaten I know the district will survive.  I lived in the district back in the days when Lakota was rural.  Lakota was a good school then, and it will always be, because a school reflects the community, and the community has good people in it.  If the new comers move out, they’ll just overload another district the way they have Lakota, in search of quick and easy answers which never come.

It is naive to even consider that throwing money at Lakota’s problem will solve anything. The solution to the problem will be tough, but starts with understanding that the school system is not the community.  The community will always be good if the people in it are excellent.  It is only natural that kids that come from good people will make a school system good too. 
But the teachers and administrators don’t make good kids or good people.  Parents do that.  Don’t let them take credit for the things you’ve done as a parent.

Rich Hoffman

www.overmanwarrior.com