Thursday, June 6, 2013


The Stark County Political Report has been tracking state Senator Scott Oelslager (Republican - Plain Twp - 29th Ohio Senate District) for the better part of a week now on his stepping back from openness and transparency in government.

It all started with a blog last Friday (LINK) which revealed that he, Kirk Schuring (Republican - Jackson Township - 48th Ohio House District) and Christina Hagan (Republican - Marlboro Township - 50th Ohio House District) voted with a majority (all Republicans) in accord to the Republican Kasich administration desire to insulate JobsOhio (a "private" enterprise corporation running economic development for the "people" of Ohio) from the audits of State of Ohio Auditor (SOA) Republican David Yost notwithstanding that about $100 million of the people's money is under the control of JobsOhio.

No surprise at all here in the Schuring and Hagan votes.  Both have pretty much have been Kool-Aid drinking imbibers with whatever the Kasich folks have wanted from day one of the administration beginning on January 1, 2011.

Moreover, neither has anywhere near the historical strong record supporting democratic enhancements to Ohio local government as does Oelslager with his going back years involvement with improving openness and transparency in government over the course of 25 years as a member (varying between the Senate and the House) in the General Assembly.

While there was no vote by Stark's legislative delegation on the matter, it became conclusively apparent that the Kasich administration is identifying itself more and more as a matter of a pattern as being "anti-democratic" in allowing Kasich appointee and director James Zehringer of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR)  to, through Stark Countian (Lake Township) Richard J. Simmers (Chief, Division of Oil and Natural Gas) to basically shutdown the right of Ohio's to redress their grievances at what in reality is a "public meeting" context.  Moreover, the attending public was prohibited from videotaping or audiotaping the event in seeming contravention to, at least "the spirit of ," the Oelslager shepherded Open Meetings Law.  LINK to prior SCPR blog for details.

The noteworthy thing about supposedly "open meetings" enhancer Oelslager is that he has not uttered "a peep of protest" about the ODNR anti-Open-Meeting-Law stance.

To complete "the hat trick," Oelslager announced this past Tuesday that as the Senate Finance Committee chairman he was supporting a direct attack on the Open Meetings Law.

As put by  Chrissy Thompson of the Cincinnati Enquirer (Bill would expand secrecy on economic development deals, June 4, 2013 LINK):
Local governments could discuss economic development in secret under a change to the Ohio Senate’s latest version of the 2013-2015 budget.

The amendment, unveiled Tuesday in the Senate Finance Committee, would create an exception to the Open Meetings Law: Governing bodies could call closed sessions to discuss businesses’ requests for tax breaks.

Committee Chair Scott Oelslager, R-North Canton, said those discussions include businesses’ “proprietary information.” Requests to keep that information secret should be honored because it relates to job creation, Oelslager said.  (emphasis added)
Consequently, the SCPR no longer counts Oelslager as among the champions of citizen oversight of government operations.

The Report never again wants to hear Oelslager to tout his historical embrace of citizen rights to be seen, heard and accounted to by their state and local government.

His actions over the past week have obliterated any claim he might have had as being a man "by, for and of the people."

So why this change?

To the SCPR, it is pure political ambition.

Only recently (probably co-incidently with the election of Kasich) has Oelslager reclaimed the attention of Statehouse Republicans as being a viable candidate for leadership in the Legislature.

With the takeover of the General Assembly in recent years by the Tea Party wing of the Ohio Republican Party a few years ago, Oelslager (generally thought to be one of the few remaining vestiges of "moderate" Republicanism) was left on the outside of the legislative process looking in as the right wingers commandeered key committee posts to do as they willed with the substance and processes of Ohio government.

Somewhere along the line Oelslager has signaled to the right wing GOPers that he is willing to play ball with them.

Okay, the question is still on the table:  why?

The SCPR thinks because he likely does not have all that many years left in the Legislature, Oelslager realizes that time is running out for him to either become president of the Senate (or because he may be term limited out of the Senate before that can happen) or Speaker of the House.

Hence, he had better get in line with the political make up of the Republican side of the Ohio General Assembly.

Alternatively, he could be looking at a cabinet position with the Kasich administration.

But anyway one cuts it, Oelslager's abrupt change from being a key supporter of building up our democratic-republic to a destroyer, must be wrapped up in a cloak of political ambition.

For the sake of personal political achievement, Scott Oelslagers appears to have become a Kool-Aid drinking partner with Republican Governor John Kasich.

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