Posts Tagged 'Partisanship'



Leader Budish Disappointed in Partisan Appointment to Housing Study Committee

Ohio House Democratic Leader Armond Budish (D-Beachwood) sent a letter to Speaker Batchelder today raising concerns over Ohio Housing Study Committee appointments. House Bill 153, enacted last summer, included the formation of a task force to review the Ohio Housing Finance Agency. The task force is to include two members from each chamber appointed by the Speaker and Senate President, and tradition in similar situations has been to appoint one member from each party.  Speaker Batchelder appointed Reps. Cheryl Grossman and Peter Beck, both Republicans.  While Senate President Niehaus appointed one Democrat Sen. Mike Skindell, and one Republican Sen. Tim Schaffer. 

“I am deeply disappointed in the Speaker’s decision to insert partisan politics into the review of a well respected non-partisan and non-political agency,” said Leader Budish.  “I hope this is an unintentional oversight that we can remedy quickly.”

A copy of Leader Budish’s letter to Speaker Batchelder can be seen below.

Dear Speaker Batchelder,

With the Ohio Housing Study Committee set to begin its work this week to review the Ohio Housing Finance Agency, it has come to my attention that there is no Democratic representation on the Committee from the House.  As required in HB 153 enacted last summer, the Committee must include two members from each chamber of the General Assembly to be appointed by the Speaker and Senate President.  It was expected, both in the tradition of this institution and in the spirit of bi-partisanship, that one member from each party would be appointed to the Committee from both the House and Senate.

While President Niehaus has recognized the importance of providing bi-partisan balance on the Committee, I am disappointed to learn that you have instead chosen to appoint two members of your own caucus to the Committee, making the partisan legislative membership of the Committee 3 to 1 in favor of Republicans.  Given that the Committee is set to review an agency that has a board consisting of members appointed from both political parties, and the agency is widely viewed as a non-partisan and non-political entity, I am deeply concerned by your decision to tilt the legislative membership of the Committee toward a single political party.  It is my hope that this is simply an unintentional oversight on your part and not an indication of an attempt to bias the Committee’s work and findings.

Therefore, I ask that you reconsider your selection of House members and choose instead to appoint a member of the House Democratic Caucus.  I am happy to provide you with the name of a Democratic member who is willing and eager to serve on this important task force, and I look forward to working with you to remedy this oversight before the Committee begins its work tomorrow.


Sincerely,
Armond Budish
Minority Leader
8th House District

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Ohio gerrymander another GOP overreach

The Toledo Blade’s weekend editorial “Ohio gerrymandering another GOP overreach” is exactly what is happening here in Ohio.   The Republicans have rammed through countless extreme bills with Gov. Kasich at the helm and there is no sign of them slowing down. 

The new congressional redistricting map introduced and passed through the House in less than 48 hours and the proposed GOP drawn legislative maps will likely only further the political dysfunction we see in Columbus and Washington.  Blade Editor Dave Kushma wrote, “…The Republican elected officials in the Statehouse who are redrawing the districts for Ohio’s U.S. House delegation and General Assembly have made clear that their priority is making their party even more dominant. Promoting fair, competitive, and effective representation of Ohio voters for the next decade — especially in our part of the state — isn’t their concern.”

Democratic voters are being quarantined into roughly a third of the legislative districts and four congressional seats.  The result being some group votes will count significantly more than others.   In this broad and diverse state this kind of gerrymandering “turns the notion of proportional representation into a sick joke.”

Kushma continues writing, “On this issue and too many others, Gov. John Kasich and GOP lawmakers have adopted an “in your face — we’ve got the votes” approach that defies opponents to do anything about their overreaching.

“They identified worthwhile changes to the state’s collective-bargaining process for public employees and included them in Senate Bill 5. But then, because they could, they larded the law with union-busting provisions that have nothing to do with saving money or running government more efficiently. That generated a ballot challenge in November.

“Similarly, GOP lawmakers passed an election “reform” law this year aimed at voter fraud that doesn’t exist. The real intent of the measure is to make it harder for folks who generally don’t vote Republican to vote at all.

“And now the map flap. Although the controversy over the new congressional districts has dominated the debate in Columbus, the state Apportionment Board plans to vote this week on new legislative districts.

…”

Read the full editorial here.

Districts that GOP Once Admitted Hurt Ohioans, Now Becoming Reality

Ohio House Democratic Leader Armond Budish (D-Beachwood) said  that congressional districts that Republican leaders once said would ‘hurt Ohioans’ are now becoming a reality under the GOP’s new congressional redistricting plan (HB 319). In an effort to defeat a non-partisan redistricting reform ballot measure in 2005, Republican leaders decried districts that snaked across the state and broke apart communities.

“By their own admission, the Republican’s new partisan gerrymandered congressional districts will hurt Ohioans,” said Budish.  “In 2005, Republican leaders said that districts that ‘snake’ from one end of the state to the other do not serve the interest of Ohio voters, yet that is exactly what they are creating in their new congressional districts.”

In an effort to defeat State Issue 4 in 2005, then-State Rep. Kevin DeWine published a map to demonstrate what could happen under the proposed redistricting reform plan. In a press release titled, “DeWine Explains it All: New Proposal Would Hurt Ohioans,” he said that the reform plan would “break apart communities and neighborhoods, dilute the voting power of minorities and disenfranchise voters all across the state.”

Under the new GOP redistricting plan (HB 319), the 9th Congressional District snakes from Toledo to Cleveland along a narrow stretch of land, and sometimes water.  DeWine mocked the possibility of such districts in 2005: “I don’t think districts that snake from one end of the state to another serve the interests of the voters of Ohio.” (Gongwer, 9/29/2005).

“The map that DeWine and Republicans devised six years ago to scare voters out of nonpartisan redistricting reform has a remarkable resemblance to the new redistricting map Republicans have produced.  It carves up communities and snakes districts all across the state, allowing politicians to choose their voters,” Budish said.

In 2005, Republicans made an all out effort to stop a non-partisan plan for redistricting supported by the League of Women Voters and a coalition of “good government” groups.  As part of their effort to protect partisan redistricting, they created a scare tactic map which sliced and diced political subdivisions around the state.  However, the new partisan gerrymandered congressional map (HB 319) MORE egregiously splits apart counties (68) compared to the current district maps (44).  The new gerrymander is closer to the county splits proposed (89) in the scare-tactic map used to defeat Reform Ohio Now.

DeWine is now the Ohio Republican Party chairman.  His 2005 press release can be seen here, and the scare-tactic map used to defeat Reform Ohio Now can be seen here.

Click here to see House Bill 319, the proposed GOP congressional redistricting map.

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Dems Call for Slow Down of Redistricting Process

State Rep. Kathleen Clyde sent a letter to Rep. Matt Huffman, Chairman of the State Government and Elections Subcommittee on Redistricting, calling for a slow down on the process to pass a new congressional redistricting map.  In the letter Rep. Clyde states, “We need to step back and take the time to do this right with bipartisan support for whatever plan the legislature adopts.  We’ll need an emergency clause to act no matter our course of action, so there is no reason why we cannot take additional time for hearings and discussion.  Failure to do so ensures protracted legal battles, public confusion and uncertainty for voters and candidates across the state.”

A copy of the full letter appears below.

Dear Chairman Huffman,

I write to call your attention to the legal chaos that we are heading for at high speed.  With success looking more and more likely on the effort to referendum HB 194, we are almost certain to have a big problem with the timeline of upcoming election deadlines.  Without bipartisan cooperation, we will hit the December 7 candidate filing deadline for next year’s elections without first having the new congressional district lines in place.  Candidates will be required to file their candidate petitions by December 7 under the old congressional district plan and there is no provision in law to prevent this paradox. 

The primary is scheduled for March 6, 2012.  HB 194 would have moved the primary to May but that bill is likely to be on hold until November 2010.  The candidate filing deadline will be December 7, 2011, only 86 days away and within the typical 90-day waiting period before bills take effect.  Only a bipartisan vote of 66 members of the House can make a law take effect immediately and avoid the legal chaos that will ensue if changes are not made in time. 

Redistricting is moving fast and, despite the pleas of the public that we all heard when we traveled the state for regional hearings, the map under consideration has not been released to the public nor to members of the State Government and Elections committee.  Meanwhile, we have a possible vote scheduled for less than 48 hours from now. 

We need to step back and take the time to do this right with bipartisan support for whatever plan the legislature adopts.  We’ll need an emergency clause to act no matter our course of action, so there is no reason why we cannot take additional time for hearings and discussion.  Failure to do so ensures protracted legal battles, public confusion and uncertainty for voters and candidates across the state.  Politicians’ drawing the lines for maximum political advantage is not fair and has delivered extreme policies in Ohio and partisan posturing in Washington.  We can do better. 

Respectfully,

Kathleen Clyde
State Representative
House District 68

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“What’s wrong with the reapportionment process”

As the Apportionment Board met in field hearings across the state last week news media across the state have been covering this process. The Toledo Blade editorial board called last week’s hearings “little more than an exercise in failed public relations.” Excerpts of the Blade editorial “Remapping Ohio” follow:

“Ohioans finally have a map that shows how the boundaries of state legislative districts can be redrawn to make them more compact and competitive. The map didn’t come from the state panel that is charged with redistricting the General Assembly.

“The Republican-dominated board isn’t likely even to acknowledge the map’s existence. That’s what’s wrong with the reapportionment process.

“Once a decade, the Ohio Apportionment Board adjusts legislative districts to account for population shifts identified in the U.S. Census. Typically, whichever party — Republican or Democratic — has a board majority uses that advantage to draw districts to gain seats in the state House and Senate.

“This year, four of the five board members are Republicans: Gov. John Kasich, Secretary of State Jon Husted, Auditor Dave Yost, and Senate President Tom Niehaus (R., New Richmond). House Minority Leader Armond Budish (D., Beachwood) is the only Democrat.

“Among the Republicans, only Mr. Husted has expressed interest in making the process less partisan. Mr. Budish proposed several rule changes designed to expand public participation and make the process more transparent and less partisan. Republicans rejected them.

“The apportionment board just completed hearings across the state that offered the illusion of public input. But without even a tentative map to display, the hearings were little more than an exercise in failed public relations.

“Gerrymandering districts to maximize the political clout of either party is bad for democracy. It polarizes voters and encourages lawmakers to govern from the extremes rather than to seek consensus and compromise in the middle.

“When that happens at the state level, the result is the all-or-nothing partisan battle that surrounds Senate Bill 5. At the federal level, you get a minority of Republican lawmakers nearly pushing the nation into default in the debt-ceiling debate. That resulted in the first-ever downgrade of America’s credit rating.

“Into the state’s breach stepped the Ohio Campaign for Accountable Redistricting, a coalition of good-government groups including the Ohio League of Women Voters, Ohio Citizen Action, and Common Cause. They sponsored a contest that asked the public to draw redistricting maps that would enhance partisan competition, split as few counties and communities as possible, and reflect the true political makeup of the state.

“It turns out that creating legislative districts that strengthen the two-party system and encourage reasonable political debate isn’t difficult, once the politics are removed.

“The top-scoring map was drawn by Mike Fortner, a Republican state representative — from Illinois…”

 Read the full editorial here.

Dem Leaders Push To Make Maps Public

Ohio House Democratic Leader Armond Budish and Ohio Senate Democratic Leader Carpi Cafaro announced that they will be introducing companion legislation that would require the Apportionment Board to make new state legislative district maps available for public and board input in advance of the required approval deadline.

“Public input should not be ignored in the important process of drawing new state legislative districts,” said Budish.  “If the process continues as it currently is, the public will have almost no opportunity to provide input about how their communities might be carved up and who their representative might be.”

This week, the Apportionment Board is conducting field hearings throughout the state, but no maps are available for discussion and public participation has been limited.  Hearings in Toledo, Lima, Cleveland and Akron produced few witnesses and no one showed up to testify in yesterday’s Canton hearing.

“It’s just common sense that the time for meaningful input is after proposed maps have been released to the public rather than before,” said Senator Cafaro.  “Otherwise, we end up with hearings that are a public relations exercise instead of constructive dialogue.  Clearly this process must change so we have a more responsive and less partisan government.”  

Previously, Budish proposed six rule changes in the first meeting of the Apportionment Board, including allowing for public input and feedback through field hearings once actual maps had been produced and not just on the process of Apportionment as this week’s field hearings do.  He also sought to require the board to rank plans according to compliance with the Ohio constitution, federal law, and any objective criteria the Board saw fit.  All six rule changes were rejected along party lines.

The proposed legislation would require maps to be made public three weeks before the boards deadline to approve a plan. It would also require four hearings throughout the state for public input once maps have been presented and made public.

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MUST READ: Youngstown Vindicator “Ohio Republicans are to blame for partisan tone in Columbus”

The Youngstown Vindicator took Ohio Republicans to task for their rampant partisanship and hypocrisy since taking control of state government, suggesting that Gov. John Kasich and other GOP leaders should “begin listening to the Democratic opposition.” Excerpts from the Vindicator editorial follow:

“Ohio Gov. John Kasich, President of the Senate Tom Niehaus and speaker of the House Bill Batchelder, all Republicans, are either very good actors, or are politically naive. Given the results of last November’s statewide election in which Republicans swept all the offices, naivety is not an apt characterization of the three leaders. Therefore, we can only conclude that their expressions of surprise Friday at the absence of the heads of the state’s top public-employee unions to discuss the new collective bargaining law — commonly called Senate Bill 5 — was just an act.

“…It is ironic that the word negotiations is being kicked around now, when it certainly doesn’t apply to the process the Republicans adopted to ram through the bill that strips the more than 300,000 public employees of some of their collective bargaining rights that have been on the books for more than two decades.

“Indeed, a Democratic state legislator who has received high-praise from the governor for her willingness to work with the GOP majority on key measures had this say about the negotiating session: ‘Governor Kasich and Republicans in the General Assembly have finally admitted that Senate Bill 5 went too far. If they thought they could destroy collective bargaining in Ohio and get away with it, they have been proven wrong. More than one million Ohioans have already sent a strong message that Senate Bill 5 should be repealed.

“’The time to negotiate was during the legislative process, not 197 days after Senate Bill 5 was first introduced in the Ohio Senate. Unfortunately, it has taken too long for the Governor and GOP leaders to acknowledge they overreached.’

“State Minority Leader Capri Cafaro, D-Hubbard, and members of her caucus were ignored when the collective bargaining reform bill was being developed. When it became law with Gov. Kasich’s signature, the public-employees unions, along with the state Democratic Party, decided to put the measure up to a vote of the people of Ohio in the November general election. The petition drive for the referendum was a rousing success, and polls consistently show that SB 5 would be rejected if the election were held today.

“Kasich and the Republican controlled General Assembly now find themselves having to reach out to the opponents of the new law. They should not be surprised that their invitation to negotiate has been turned down.

“Ever since the GOP took control of state government in January, partisanship has been the order of the day in Columbus.”

Read the full editorial here.


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