On Oct 19, 2011 the Kasich-appointed members of the Ohio Casino Control Commission voted to have the Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI) provide security for the first two casinos to open in Ohio.
The Ohio State Highway Patrol (OSHP) had also been lobbying for the job even though the Patrol is currently limited to investigating and providing security on state property. The casinos are private property so choosing the patrol would have been a big expansion of their power. BCI makes a lot more sense as the option and the Commission realized that and made the logical choice.
So imagine everyone’s surprise when State Rep. Lou Blessing suddenly introduced a bill (HB386) that would put the Patrol in charge. Even fellow Republican Matt Huffman was shocked: “I have genuine concerns about expanding the jurisdiction of the Highway Patrol onto private property,” said Huffman.
So why, you might ask, would Blessing attempt pass legislation that directly circumvents the authority of the Casino Commission and overturns the decision they made over a month ago?
The short answer: Speaker Batchelder told him to. (or so we’re told)
The longer answer is, well, slightly longer. And it comes in multiple parts.
1. Kasich and Batch are power hungry.
Not a new story here. This is the second example this week Kasich and Batchelder trying to play rough on the turf of another Republican.
Kasich has never hidden the fact that he wants to consolidate power and control every facet of state government himself. And since BCI is controlled by the Attorney General’s offfice, outside of Kasich’s control, that’s a problem for him. The Patrol, however, falls under the control of the Department of Public Safety, which is run by Kasich appointee and polical ally Tom Charles. So who should be running the show? Using Kasich’s power-hungry logic, the question kind of answers itself: HIS people. And… bam. control goes to the Patrol.
2. Tom Charles wants the Highway Patrol to be the State Police.
Charles spent many years at the Patrol before being appointed to Inspector General (and later being appointed by Kasich to his current position as Public Safety Director). He’s never made a secret of the fact that he wants to greatly expand the power and jurisdiction of the Highway Patrol, turning them into a State Police-type organization with statewide security, policing and investigative powers. Now he has the chance and, more importantly, the leverage to do it because…
3. Kasich and Batchelder owe Charles. Big time.
As Inspector General, Charles led a number of investigations intentionally aimed at politically embarassing Governor Strickland, most memorably the ridiculous, purely political “Tobacco-gate” investigation which Modern covered thoroughly last year. Charles got the Public Safety appointment for his efforts. And he’s likely to get whatever else he asks for in the future, including the expansion of Patrol powers whenever the opportunity arises.
For example, we’ve also heard Kasich is planning to issue an executive order giving the Patrol jurisdiction in the newly privatized prison on Conneaut.
4. Batchelder LOVES the patrol
We’ve heard Speaker Batch loves the Patrol – though you’d never know that by his support of Issue 2/SB5. It’s rumored he carries with him an Honorary Trooper badge everywhere he goes. He also appointed former Patrol Colonel Richard “Butch” Collins as Assistant Sergeant at Arms in the House.
Since they took control of the state last year, Kasich and Batchelder seem to think they can just change the rules on the fly. And they don’t seem to care who they piss off in the process.
Kasich has absolutely no problem undercutting his own appointees and allowing their decisions to be overridden as long as it helps his own cause of power consolidation. And Batchelder and his legislative allies are more than willing to help.
Personally, I’m a little leery of a state police organization under the control of Charles and Kasich that’s been granted jurisdiction over private businesses in Ohio solely through the waving of Kasich’s magic, executive order wand. Our Highway Patrol is a highly respected organization with nearly 80 years of dedicated service to the State of Ohio. It would be a damn shame to see their image tarnished by Charles, Batch and Kasich’s personal lust for power and control.