- Associated Press - Monday, February 10, 2014

Excerpts of recent editorials of statewide and national interest from Ohio newspapers:

The (Findlay) Courier, Feb. 6

Once again, last-minute maneuvering by the two major political parties will result in a “primary-free” gubernatorial election for Ohioans.

That’s too bad. In a state nearly split between conservatives and liberals, voters should have a say when picking a party’s candidate for such an important statewide race. More often, it’s state party leaders, not voters, who decide which candidate progresses to the fall election.

Contested primaries had once looked like a possibility in this year’s governor race for both Republicans and Democrats.

But the GOP primary ticket was cleared for Gov. John Kasich, who will be seeking a second term, when Ted Stevenot, a tea party favorite, dropped out less than a week after he had thrown his hat into the ring….

Democrats, too, had been staring at a primary matchup, until last Friday.

That’s when Hamilton County Commissioner Todd Portune withdrew his bid to go head-to-head against Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald.

Both Portune and Stevenot have since suggested they would have liked to have taken their campaigns a step farther, but were not encouraged to by officials in their respective parties.

That’s not surprising. The clearing of the gubernatorial ticket before a primary is long-established political strategy.

Party leaders like to avoid first-round fights which can divide the base. Granted, Portune or Stevenot may not have had a realistic chance of winning their respective party’s nomination in May, but they may have broadened the discussion….

Unfortunately, voters will only get to weigh in once, not twice.

Online: https://bit.ly/1ggc0Fu


The (Youngstown) Vindicator, Feb. 7

Given the low esteem that most people hold toward the U.S. Congress, it’s hardly surprising that many Americans have come to expect unethical, shady and seedy shenanigans as the norm among a sizeable chunk of the members and staff of the chief lawmaking body of this nation.

In fact, a recent Rasmussen poll found 60 percent of Americans believe most members of Congress are willing to sell their votes for cash or campaign contributions.

At the center of many of these congressional sell-your-soul deals stand lobbyists. Loopholes in ethics law governing lobbyists exposed by The New York Times (last) week only feed public cynicism. As The Times reported, many former senior staff members of U.S. representative and senators are grossly violating the intent of a 2007 law that requires a waiting period before they can lobby their buddies in Congress. The law imposes a one-year ban for senior staff and House members, and two years for senators….

A new study by the Sunlight Foundation found that the number of active lobbyists with prior government experience has nearly quadrupled since 1998….

We doubt that the revolving door can ever be completely stopped, but the speed at which it moves must be slowed. Revising the Honest Leadership and Open Government Act to close the loopholes would help the six-year-old law live up to its noble-sounding name and might clear just a little bit of the stink that far too many Americans still smell enveloping our nation’s capital.

Online: https://bit.ly/1jpSutN


The Ironton Tribune, Feb. 5

Taking the government to the people is what Ohio Gov. John Kasich has sought to do by moving his state of the state addresses to a different location each year.

Not only have the locations changed, but the general public has been afforded an opportunity to attend - and those are exactly the people who should be able to attend.

Up until three years ago, the governor would give the state of the state address at the Ohio Statehouse in Columbus. Since then, Kasich has spoken in Lima, Steubenville and this year will speak in Medina.

Those who want to attend the speech can enter a random lottery for tickets.

This is good news for anyone, Republican or Democrat, interested in the welfare of Ohio.

The opportunity to hear the governor address his constituents should not be available to only those who can afford it or those already sitting in government positions.

It is the everyday people who are impacted by the decisions of government officials and for that reason they should have the opportunity to see government at work firsthand.

Whether you agree or disagree with Kasich’s policies, the move to take the state of the state addresses to the people was a good move.

Online: https://bit.ly/1ehBHko


The Cincinnati Enquirer, Feb. 7

The people who run Clearcreek Township in Warren County are accused of hashing out the public’s business in private, then going into their regular meeting and voting.

It was “a pre-meeting before every meeting,” the township’s fiscal officer testified in court.

If true (the matter is still before a judge), it would certainly violate the spirit, and possibly the letter, of Ohio’s open meetings law.

But confusing the matter is the somewhat murky state of Ohio’s law governing what’s an open meeting and what’s not.

In some cases, sessions meant for fact finding, information gathering, or listening - even when a majority of board members are present - have been considered closed to the public. Indeed, the attorney representing the township, John D. Smith, has argued that the pre-meeting sessions were merely “fact-finding” gatherings and therefore not required to be open to the public….

The public should have plenty of notice and plenty of access to these deliberations, because they eventually form the substance of the laws and regulations that govern us. But that’s not always the case….

That’s why a bill now in the Ohio Legislature deserves to move forward.

State Sen. Shannon Jones, a Republican from Springboro, has sponsored Senate Bill 93, which would essentially broaden the definition of an open meeting and clear up what’s open to the public….

It would go a long way toward ensuring that the public has access to the decision-making process long before a vote is taken and can offer input and participate.

Online: https://cin.ci/1fT5B1g

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