Friday, May 25, 2018
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How do you keep them down on the farm?

COLUMBUS - You know things are getting scary at the Statehouse when Republican legislators start using George Orwell's Animal Farm to remind each other who they are (or used to be).

“Orwell writes of talking animals that overthrow the farmer to set up a reformed society in which `all animals are created equal,'” wrote state Sen. Jim Jordan (R., Urbana) and state Rep. Bryan Williams (R., Akron).

“However, it is not long before one group of animals takes over, and the rule is amended: `All animals are equal but some animals are more equal than others.' The ruling class had become precisely what they had initially sought to replace. The promise of change and reform rang hollow,'' the two conservative Republicans wrote.

Mr. Jordan and Mr. Williams addressed their communiqu to Gov. Bob Taft, Senate President Richard Finan, House Speaker Larry Householder, and the 80 Republicans in the 132-member Ohio General Assembly. It was a reminder that voters in 1994 enabled the GOP to gain complete control over state government after 22 years of Democratic rule by supporting “term limits, lower taxes, and respect for families.''

But now, with state tax revenue stagnant and spending tough to rein in, Mr. Taft is talking about adding more services to the sales tax base and closing tax “loopholes'' opened to benefit certain businesses.

Mr. Finan has opened the door to allowing horseracing tracks to install video gambling machines.

And Mr. Householder is testing the waters to expand term limits from eight to 12 years.

Republicans must turn away from those three proposals, Mr. Jordan and Mr. Williams implored.

“Orwell's book is a clear reminder that once in power, it is easy to forget what we stand for as a party. It strikingly illustrates the temptation to abandon the principles that the taxpayers and families of Ohio elected us to defend as soon as those principles are no longer politically expedient. If Republicans are to truly fulfill our promise of reform, we must remain committed to those ideas and beliefs that the voters charged us to defend and uphold,'' Mr. Jordan and Mr. Williams wrote.

So what do Mr. Taft and Janet Jackson have in common? Besides the fact they're both brunettes and have a weakness for nasty boys (Mr. Taft's campaign advisers), they both canceled European tours last week.

“The events of Sept. 11 have troubled me enormously,'' Miss Jackson said Oct. 1. “If anything happened to anyone on this tour, I could never forgive myself.''

The next day, Mr. Taft postponed his European trade mission from Oct. 20-27 to April, 2002.

Last week, a conservative think tank released a report outlining some ideas for the General Assembly on how to respond to the state Supreme Court's latest school-funding decision.

On Sept. 6 the high court said the new funding system is constitutional as long as the legislature dumped more money into public school for operating costs.

The Buckeye Institute for Public Policy Solutions said the legislature should consider:

  • Removing activist judges as provided in the Constitution “as a check against unconstitutional overreaching by the judiciary.''

  • Ignoring the Supreme Court's overreaching decisions by only passing on policy matters such as school funding or tort reform that the “General Assembly deems appropriate, as opposed to acquiescing to the court's unconstitutional mandates.''

  • Introducing a constitutional amendment “reaffirming the doctrine of separation of powers and restoring the General Assembly as the policy-making branch of government in Ohio.''

    Bill Phillis, executive director of the group representing the school districts that sued the state in 1991, compared the Buckeye Institute to a “hate group.''

    In an e-mail sent to school officials around the state, including Toledo Public Schools, Mr. Phillis wrote: “Unfortunately we have hate groups in the U.S.A. that take the law into their own hands and militant groups that defy the authority of government.

    “Now comes the Buckeye group that advocates that the governor and legislature defy the court. What would be next? Individuals ignoring court orders? What will preserve our social order if the salt (rule of law) is removed?''

    The Buckeye Institute didn't like that one bit. “Mr. Phillis' remarks are uncalled for and unfortunate, in light of the tragic events of Sept. 11,'' said Buckeye Institute President David Owsiany. “Reasonable people can agree to disagree about the constitutionality of the court's ruling. To compare any organization trying to uphold the principles of our constitutional government by advocating the use of checks and balances with a hate group is beyond belief. I can only wonder what he thinks about our Founding Fathers.''

    Jim Drew is chief of The Blade's Columbus bureau.

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