Tuesday, May 10, 2011


Newly appointed Ohio House Representative Christina Hagan (Republican - Marlboro) held a townhall meeting in Louisville last night at the Louisville Public Library.

The occasion?

Defending (after the fact) her vote to pass House Bill 153 (the house version of Ohio's 2012/2013 biennial budget) on a strict party line vote (59 Republicans for, 40 Democrats against).

It was obvious that Hagan is a rookie legislator by the manner in which she handled the meeting.  Far and away it was the show of her support brought in from Columbus (Representative Ron Amstutz of Wooster and Rep. David Hall of Holmes County).

Initially, after having Louisville Mayor Pat Fallot introduce her and Hagan making a few introductory remarks, she literally sat in the background as Amstutz and Hall stood front and center addressing the assembled crowd.  Only in about the last third of the meeting did she stand along side Amstutz and Hall as the trio exchanged viewpoints with the audience.

In general, it was a ruly crowd that showed up at the Louisville Public Library.  However, the trio of Hagan, Amstutz did get roughed up a bit.  Townhalls are known for such.

One of the displeasures uttered by a couple of attendees (probably about 50 or so) was how often legislation up for a vote come out on a strictly partly line vote. 

As can be seen in the video that follows is the "hem-hawing" around that went on in the responses by the trio (mostly Amstutz and Hall) on the obvious:  partisan politics is the order of the day in Columbus with the Republicans firmly in control in both the House and Senate).

One of the reasons that the Tea Party got going has been the public's frustration at the degree to which elected legislative Republicans and Democrats vote the party line.  Both elected Republicans and Democrats will look you in the eye and tell you they vote their conscious and more or less in their constituents' interests.  But practically nobody - except for highly partisan voters - believes them.

Apparently, they have nothing but contempt for the intelligence of everyday citizens.

An example:  when now Congressman Jim Renacci (Republican) took on then Congressman John Boccieri in 2007, he chided Boccieri about voting 94% with Democrat Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi.

Well, now that he is congressman guess who Renacci votes for?

You've got it Republican Speaker of the House John Boehner!  Not 94%, 95% or even 98%, but 100% of the time so far.

Talk about hypocrisy!

On the video that The Report has embeded in this blog, Representative Amstutz is seen giving examples of what he calls bipartisanship.  However, he does admit that "where the rubber meets the road" on the budget bill itself, it was a party line vote: 59 to 40.  Such is typical on any legislative measure which is the heart and soul of a political party position.  He doesn't tell the audience that in the debate and process leading to the passage of the budget bill Democrats offered 72 amendments:  none of which were accepted by Republicans.

Of particular interest to Stark Countians was an amendment offered by Democratic Representative Mark Okey (61st House District which includes eastern Stark County) for Ohio to place a two year moratorium on hydraulic fracturing for natural gas pending the outcome of a federal EPA study.  Its fate?  It was one of the 72 rejected out of hand by the Republican Party majority (including Stark Countians Christina Hagan [the 50th] and Kirk Schuring [the 51st].

Such is how Democrats and Republican elected legislators act these days and there are signs on the political horizon that being in lockstep with the party line is not playing well with rank-and-file voters.

Consequently, in time and increasingly so a credible more independent minded alternative will surface.

The SCPR does not believe the Tea Party is credible because it appeals only to right wing Republicans and their ilk.  The Tea Party is not a viable alternative for moderate Republicans (who are few in number these days), independents and centrist and left of center Democrats.

When a truly independent minded political party surfaces, then party line elected legislative Republicans and Democrats will be in "real" political trouble.  Few think this can or will happen in the American political system.  The SCPR is not among this set of political analysts.

The "day of reckoning" for elected party line Republicans and Democrats who prove to be party line-esque officials is nearer than most political observers own up to.  So the likes of Christina Hagan and Kirk Schuring (Republicans) and Steve Slesnick (Democrat), members of the Stark County delegation to the Ohio House, had better pay attention to the growing "anti-party line" emerging electorate or they will be ex-legislators in a hurry.

Voters should keep up the drumbeat of "not voting the party line" up in any and all contacts with their respective representatives.  Either they change from being party line legislators or they create conditions for the emergence of an independent minded set of replacement legislators or perhaps a credible alternative to the Tea Party that will eschew the party line and vote either their consciouses or their constituents' interests; not the party line.

Stay tuned on this matter.

Expect to hear more and more public discontent with party line voting to the point of Republican and Democratic offenders looking for a life outside the Legislature.

Here is the video on the audience member who chastised the legislators for their "party line votes."

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