Friday, August 30, 2013

Ed FitzGerald development deal has shades of John Kasich and JobsOhio deals he has criticized

WESTLAKE, Ohio -- When American Greetings was looking for a new Cleveland-area headquarters in 2011, Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald refused to offer financial assistance.

The public, he said then, shouldn't help a company leave one suburb for another.

With state tax credits dangled by Gov. John Kasich, American Greetings ultimately began planning a move to Westlake. FitzGerald, meanwhile, continued with a push to discourage the county's municipalities from "poaching" business from each other.

Two years later, FitzGerald has pledged a $3 million county loan to another local company relocating to Westlake. Equity Trust will take 100 jobs from Berea and 150 from Elyria in Lorain County and consolidate them in an old Cleveland Clinic building. The financial services firm also plans to add 100 jobs from Texas and hire 50 more.

FitzGerald, a Democrat, also is running for governor next year. His county and campaign aides said many factors determine which companies receive incentives and which do not. Comparing any two deals, such as American Greetings and Equity Trust, or a state project and county project – is not always fair because of certain variables.

But FitzGerald's opponents see an inconsistent approach toward economic development motivated by politics and indicative of how he would govern if elected next year.

Read the full story

Monday, August 26, 2013

These are what they are: 7 memorable quotes from Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson

Ask and you shall receive.

Two weeks ago in this space we highlighted seven memorable quotes from Ken Lanci, the only challenger to Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson in this year's election. Some wondered whether we also would take a look at some of our favorite Jacksonisms.

Perhaps we should dispense up front with "It is what it is," the signature, though somewhat underwhelming, phrase in Jackson's rhetorical cache. If Jackson speeches were a baseball team, "It is what it is" would be retired somewhere along the outfield wall. Besides, as we noted last time, even Lanci grabs hold of the verbal crutch from time to time.

So here are other quotes we find downright Jacksonian. Well, Frank Jacksonian, anyway.

Read the full story

Friday, August 23, 2013

Gov. John Kasich and Ohio Ethics Commission linked by political contributions, records show

With Robert Higgs

COLUMBUS, Ohio – The Ohio Ethics Commission, a state board responsible for navigating political conflicts of interest, has a potential blind spot of its own.

Three of the panel's five members, or their spouses, have contributed to Gov. John Kasich's campaigns over the years, an analysis has found. Kasich, a Republican, appointed or reappointed all three to their current terms.

A fourth member, appointed by former Gov. Ted Strickland, was a high-profile supporter of the Democrat's 2006 campaign and donated to his unsuccessful re-election bid. In recent years the board included other Strickland appointees who donated to Democrats.

"It is worrisome how politically connected those folks are who were appointed to this commission," said Catherine Turcer of Common Cause Ohio, a good-government group.

Political relationships between the public's watchdogs and the officeholders whose behavior they may be asked to evaluate are to be expected, observers say. State law requires half of the board's members to be Democrats, half Republicans. And in Columbus, a company town where the Statehouse is the factory, governors and others with appointing authority typically limit their searches to the connected and familiar.

Read the full story

Monday, August 19, 2013

Class warfare starts early -- and with a new twist -- in race between Gov. John Kasich and Ed FitzGerald

Already you can hear the class warfare hounds barking in the 2014 race for Ohio governor. Listen closely. The tone is a little different than in cycles past.

In 2010, then-Gov. Ted Strickland and his Democratic allies slammed Republican challenger John Kasich for the wealth he accumulated while working for Wall Street.

Kasich prevailed in a close contest. Now his GOP team, responding to conflict-of-interest questions about Kasich's economic development agency but also playing some offense headed into a re-election year, is scrutinizing his likely opponent's personal finances.

But where Strickland sought to make Kasich's wealth a liability with middle-class voters, Republicans are taking the opposite tack with Ed FitzGerald, the Cuyahoga County executive and likely Democratic nominee for governor. They openly are characterizing FitzGerald's lack of investments and savings as a major strike against him.

Read the full story

Friday, August 16, 2013

Ohio Gov. John Kasich is looking past 2014, setting the table for another White House run: Analysis

Gov. John Kasich often downplays whatever ambition he has to return to Washington, where he spent 18 years in Congress and pictured himself in the Oval Office.

Suddenly, though, national writers and pundits are noticing Kasich, whose last bid for the White House ended before primary season, in a new light. The Republican, who two years ago was as unpopular as they come, is now a trendy GOP pick for the presidency in 2016.

The reasons for this reversal of fortune are easily explained. Kasich never dwelled on his bruising fight with organized labor – a fight that ended with voters repealing GOP restrictions on collective bargaining. Overnight he changed his tune. Rather than selling weaker unions as a means to economic prosperity, he emphasized an unemployment rate that was on the decline and looked for the light at the end of recession's tunnel.

Read the full story

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Who does Ed FitzGerald want as his lieutenant governor? Here are four early possibilities

Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald, facing a clear Democratic field in his bid for governor, has shifted to a new phase of his campaign: identifying the right running mate.

The guessing game has begun, and so have some very preliminary discussions.
Tracy Maxwell Heard, the Ohio House minority leader from Columbus, said she spoke with FitzGerald several months ago about the possibility of joining his ticket.

"I had a conversation with Ed sometime back," Heard said this week. "I'm two months in as the new Democratic leader in the House, and that's kind of where my focus is."

Heard is one of several whose name is in the mix as political observers speculate on FitzGerald's choice. Others include Ohio Senate Minority Leader Eric Kearney and State Rep. Alicia Reece, both of Cincinnati, and State Sen. Lou Gentile of Steubenville.

Read the full story

Monday, August 12, 2013

As Ken Lanci gets 'biblical' in Cleveland mayoral race, here are 7 more of his memorable quotes

CLEVELAND, Ohio -- Mayor Frank Jackson, he of the catchall "It is what it is" campaign poetry, is a man of few words. Ken Lanci, his opponent in this November's election, is not.

Last week was merely the latest example.

While announcing plans to host a Sept. 15 prayer service and "community healing" event, Lanci told reporters for the umpteenth time that he is not political. Lanci, who runs a Cleveland printing company but had to lease an apartment in the city to meet the residency requirement for a mayoral bid, prefers to be seen as "biblical."

And later: Lanci responds.

Read the full story

Friday, August 9, 2013

In political role reversal, Ed FitzGerald playing the Romney to Ohio Gov. John Kasich's Obama

A year ago, President Barack Obama and Gov. John Kasich were Ohio's political odd couple. One was a Democrat, the other a Republican. But they had a mutual mission: To convince voters that the economic recovery had accelerated.

So as Kasich prepares his own re-election campaign for 2014, his message will sound a lot like the one that helped Obama win Ohio's electoral votes and a second term. And that leaves Democratic challenger Ed FitzGerald little choice but to borrow a bit from the playbook that Republican Mitt Romney used in his unsuccessful bid for the White House.

"They weren't worried about a governor's race," Terry Casey, a Republican strategist in Ohio, said of Obama's 2012 team. "They were worried about the presidency."

Read the full story

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Which Ohio House speaker prospect is contributing the most money to the Republican caucus?

If you're angling to become the next speaker of the Ohio House of Representatives, one reliable way to position yourself is by raising boatloads of cash.

Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted, a Republican who served as speaker a decade ago, rode his fundraising prominence to the top. Rep. Armond Budish, the last Democrat to hold the gavel, was such an ATM machine that the only question surrounding his 2008 ascendance was whether his party could pick up enough seats to crown him.

As we reported last month, the race is in full swing to succeed term-limited Speaker William G. Batchelder after the 2014 election. Frustratingly, no one with eyes on the job is saying much more than that, out of deference to Batchelder, a Medina Republican.

But in last week's release of state campaign finance reports were more indicators about the strength of the top prospects for speaker and other leadership spots. With the golden-rule lessons of Husted, Budish and others in mind, here's a look at which members, through their own campaign committees, contributed the most money to the campaign fund that benefits GOP incumbents and challengers.

Read the full story