GOP Ohio senators threatening to block Strickland appointmentsWritten by Staff Reports | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Some top Republican Ohio senators are threatening to block the outgoing Democratic governor’s selection of people who help choose textbooks, set tuitions, oversee millions of dollars in investments or hand out state money.
Gov. Ted Strickland remains on the job until Jan. 10, when Republican Gov.-elect John Kasich is set to be sworn in.
The Senate, led by Kasich’s fellow Republicans, is considering wholesale rejection of Strickland’s appointments to dozens of state boards and commissions taking away a key power traditionally allowed lame duck governors.
The move could affect about 200 appointments the governor is authorized to make before leaving office and some made before the election that are not yet confirmed.
At least one Toledo area resident is one of those who could possibly be impacted. Jerry Chabler, of Sylvania, a current member of the Toledo- Lucas County Port Authority was appointed to the Ohio Casino Control Commission by Gov. Strickland on Oct. 9. His appointment as well as several other members of the newly formed Casino Control Commission have not been confirmed by the Ohio Senate.
Term-limited Republican Senate President Bill Harris and his expected replacement to lead the chamber, Tom Niehaus, say a final decision hasn’t been made. But they said the chamber wants Kasich to have maximum flexibility for filling the positions.
Harris said some of Strickland’s appointees may have different perspectives on policy than Kasich and the Senate would be looking at other nominees who would have influence in policy decisions.
“I think the new governor deserves the right to have people that understand him and understand what he wants to do as governor to be in those critical policy positions,” Harris said.
Three Republicans in the GOP-led Senate have said they would vote to reject unconfirmed Strickland appointees who don’t resign. Keith Faber, David Goodman and Jim Hughes made their statements in interviews with Gongwer News Service and The Columbus Dispatch. Republicans hold 21 of 33 Senate seats.
Hughes, in The Dispatch, said, “The new governor should have the opportunity to appoint those people. If those people chose to resign, they could always apply to the new governor. If not, the Senate should respect the voters’ will and reject them.”
But Republican Sen. Kevin Coughlin told The Dispatch, “Unless there is an extraordinary problem with a governor’s appointment an ethical breach or a legal problem I don’t believe it’s our place to deny those appointments.”
Four years go when Republican Gov. Bob Taft made lame duck appointments, the Ohio Senate did not raise the same concerns, approving Taft’s appointments. Taft also made several judicial appointments in the Toledo area prior to his leaving office.
Republican Judge Gene Zmuda was appointed to the Lucas County Court of Common Pleas in December of 2006, as a replacement for Democratic Judge Thomas Osowik who won election to the Ohio 6th District Court of Appeals in November of 2006. Republican Michael Goulding was appointed as a judge to the Toledo Municipal Court to replace Zmuda by Gov. Taft on Jan. 2, 2007.
Toledo Free Press had an exit interview with Gov. Taft on Dec. 27, 2006, Taft hopes accomplishments are not lost in controversies.
Gov. Strickland was sworn into office on Jan. 13, 2007.
Strickland spokeswoman Amanda Wurst said the Democratic governor has been careful not to abuse his appointment power.
He passed up a chance to replace three Taft appointees to the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio, which oversees electric, gas and other utility companies, after a problem with the appointment process was discovered, and kept others on board who were named by Republican governors.
“It is hard to believe that the Senate would turn its back on tradition and, in an unprecedented and wrong approach, reject the appointments of honorable Ohioans seeking to serve their state for purely partisan political reasons,” Wurst told The Dispatch.
Many appointments are on little-noticed state boards and commissions, such as the Ohio Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday Commission.
Others serve pivotal roles in guiding state policy, grants and investments. Those include four unnamed members to the State Board of Education, various university trustees, members of the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation board, and a Third Frontier Commission member to help oversee Ohio’s signature high-tech grant program.
The Democrat-controlled Ohio House has no role in the appointment process
Associated Press contributed to this report.