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Friday, September 23, 2005

Ohio Reforms Resonate With Regular Ohioans

I just got back from Ohio, where four reform initiatives backed by Reform Ohio Now and TheRestofUs.org will be on the ballot this November.

My driver for the cabride in from the Columbus airport on Tuesday night knew all about the initiatives and about the unsuccessful strongarm legal tactics used by big money's front group Ohio First against the reform initiatives. He didn't have a tremendously high opinion of politicians of either party, saying "they're all crooked sometimes", and said he was going to vote for all four initiatives.

Then, after a couple days of meeting with coalition members and with the editorial boards of several southern Ohio newspapers, my driver for the (5 in the morning) cabride back to the Columbus airport had the same opinion about the initiatives as the first guy.

While the regular folks of Ohio recognize that their system of government is in dire need of repair, many of the state's politicians continue to insist that there's nothing wrong. A sitting governor convicted for the first time in Ohio history, millions of dollars in public funds missing and likely embezzled by a big-time campaign contributor who used his connections to land a fat investment contract from the state, hundreds of millions more missing from the same fund due to poor oversight by appointed officials, rampant cronyism, another group of elected officials scandalized by fundraising tactics . . . and nothing is wrong.

Talk about your rose-colored glasses.

Well, the voters of Ohio have an opportunity this fall to show the pols and their big-money backers a little taste of reality. If the four reform initiatives are successful, politicians will no longer have the power to draw the state's districts, the influence of big money on state governemnt will be decreased, voters will have more access to the ballots, and elections will be administered in a bipartisan manner.

With the reforms, the pols in the Buckeye State will be forced down from the ivory tower they have created themselves to actually pay attention to regular folks like the cabdrivers I met. In the process, democracy in Ohio can only get better.

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