In a hotly contested race for Ohio’s 21st House District, upstart teacher Donna O’Connor has pseudo-incumbent Mike Duffey on the defensive, attempting to change his narrative in the final days before the election. Duffey, incumbent by way of his district being redrawn to retain his hometown advantage, apparently never imagined that he be getting hammered by a female teacher with no political experience.
Yet O’Connor has demonstrated her personal work ethic exceeds his by being on the offensive this entire calendar year, knocking on doors daily since before winning a tight primary and earning the Democratic nomination. In the last few weeks, outside organizations have been spending money on this race in an effort to highlight Mike Duffey’s voting record in the house, a process that he believes is unfair, at least in the words of his friends and his wife who he put on a commercial to defend himself. We have yet to see an advertisement or commercial in which Duffey himself speaks up to explain his legislative choices. Duffey’s claims that he should not be accountable for his record fall significantly flat for three main reasons.
First, in 2011, Duffey voted to pass House Bill 153, Governor Kasich’s sweeping reform and budget bill that caused major changes in Ohio’s public education landscape. And while Lindsay Duffey claims in her brief commercial that “Mike has always fought for Ohio’s students and teachers”, the end results of House Bill 153 reveal cuts to public education of $1.8 billion. Aside from the money, HB153 also implemented a massive overhaul of the teacher evaluation system in the state of Ohio, including punitive provisions for the teachers working with Ohio’s most challenged children. Through this action, Mike Duffey affirmed his believe that public workers should be held accountable for their actions and outcomes.
Except for Mike Duffey, of course, who has been whining that these latest ads are “attacking” him and are unfounded. Yet when the teachers said that last year about House Bill 153, Duffey was silent. Bottom line: Duffey voted for accountability for public workers. Duffey is a public worker. Duffey should be held accountable for his work record too.
Second, Duffey has latched on to two local individuals in education in an attempt to play up his generosity in this area to counteract Donna O’Connor’s 19 years of actual experience in a school building. In a recent press release (paid for by Mike Duffey’s Campaign), the presidents of the two local school boards spoke out in his favor. They speak as individuals, though, as neither Board of Education followed their lead and offered him an endorsement. In the press release — written by the Duffey Campaign as it only included quotes by the presidents — there are two strange items — one an admission of truth, the other an easily refuted lie.
The truth — the press release confirms that Duffey was party to the drastic cuts to public education funding in Ohio. From the letter:
According to the state budget, $2.14 billion (75.9%) of the K-12 education cuts were the result of federal funding losses. Replacing that money would have required the state to either raise taxes or cut another area of the budget.
It is no secret that the federal stimulus money was going to end (by design) and that states had been offered that money to be able to get through the challenging financial times. State legislatures were expected to take that time to plan ahead and figure out how to replace that money when it expired. Additionally, the tough decision of raising taxes of cutting other areas of the budget were quite easy for Duffey — he did neither, simply letting the education money disappear from public schools. This is a fact, not an attack.
While his wife Lindsay is on television claiming that “Mike has always fought for Ohio’s students and teachers”, his actions on the state budget provide us evidence to the contrary.
The easily refuted lie is contained in a quote in the letter from the Worthington School Board’s Jennifer Best:
“The truth is that Mike Duffey saved all-day kindergarten from being shutdown,” said Best.
No, that is NOT the truth. On February 16, 2011, Mike Duffey voted yes on House Bill 30. The non-partisan LSC analysis of the bill contains a single sentence explaining the contents of its Local Impact Statement that is very, very clear on this topic: “Eliminates the requirement that school districts offer all-day kindergarten and abolishes the School Funding Advisory Council”
If that title is not enough, then a bullet point from the LSC’s Bill Analysis might help:
Eliminates the requirement that school districts offer all-day kindergarten and reinstates the permanent authority for most districts and community schools to charge tuition for all?day kindergarten.
Saved all-day Kindergarten? Really, Mr. Duffey? Fact, not attack.
And finally, Mike Duffey personally provided the most compelling statements about holding himself accountable shortly after he voted to pass Senate Bill 5 last year (March 30). Duffey was given the chance to provide a quote to the local ThisWeek Community newspaper, and he didn’t disappoint.
State Rep. Mike Duffey (R-Worthington):
“Although this was far from an easy decision, given the reaction of labor organizations to this legislation, this was the right thing to do because it puts final decision-making for collective bargaining in the hands of locally elected officials, such as city councils, school boards and the voters themselves, rather than unelected arbitrators from outside the community. This was the pivotal aspect of the bill for me.
“The only way S.B. 5 can be considered a bad decision is if you trust outside arbitrators more than your own local elected officials when it comes to bargaining with local government employees. While I understand the fear that this change in law creates, I believe in our local government officials and their ability to do the right thing and make sure public employees are treated fairly. At the same time, when times get tough and local governments need to make cuts, this allows them the flexibility to be fair in that regard, as well. And if you don’t agree, you can vote your local government officials out of office.”
It’s all in that last line:
…if you don’t agree, you can vote your
local government officials out of office.
Yep, that’s the plan. Fact, not attack.