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The Pattern: Preserving Power at All Costs

Defying 1) Elections and 2) the Law to 3) Maintain Power
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CAUGHT ON TAPE: Last Thursday’s abruptly and improperly cancelled meeting (of the Ohio Teachers’ Pension Board) said it all: Ohio’s powers-that-be can’t even allow a single meeting to take place—not even one!—that they don’t control.

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Faced with that prospect—just the second half of a single meeting where power was out of their hands—the chairman of that pension board called a recess…

…then walked out:

That’s how much they fear not being in control.

Now, this outrageous behavior happened to be caught on tape thanks to good local journalism, but it’s not an isolated incident.

In fact, those photos above are perfect symbols of the broader pattern that keeps playing out again and again—never loosening their grip on power, even if means ignoring elections or court orders.

Here are more examples from the same pattern:

  • One year ago, the day before an election that would have seated a new majority on that pension board, the Governor illegally replaced another board member to stymie that election outcome. Again, so deathly afraid of a board majority not in their control that the Governor, even after being warned that doing so broke the law, blatantly did so anyway;

  • A few months before that, faced with a new state school board—again, because the voters had just elected three pro-public school candidates—the Governor stripped away most of that board’s prior powers. Later, the Governor openly violated a judicial restraining order to force that power-stripping plan through—lawlessness that gave the takeover the early momentum it needed;

  • And before that, the legislature and Governor simply defied (seven times!) a new independent state Supreme Court’s orders striking down gerrymandered maps. In the meantime, they changed the rules of Ohio Court elections as well as where judicial candidates appear on the ballot in order to favor their candidates beginning in the 2022 elections. So faced with the loss of control of the Court, they basically broke the law until they got that control back, then DeWine appointed an old family friend to take that fourth seat. Now that’s locking down power.

The theme: of late, when an election outcome threatens their grip on power in an institution they value, they simply defy the election and/or the law to avoid losing that power. Whether it’s stripping power from the institution, ignoring the rulings of that body, illegally changing the makeup of that body, or even cancelling the one meeting where they faced the prospect of someone else exercising power, they will do what it takes. (Heck, they even tried to to it in advance with Issue 1 last August!)

What To Do?

Importantly, let’s look at how they keep pulling this off.

When you take a close look, it becomes clear that key factors that help them get away with it all are: lack of accountability; hesitation to fight back from the other side; delays and lack of transparency. Again and again, these factors fuel the success of their tactics.

What’s the answer?

There are no easy ones when they will go this far to maintain power. But let’s at least reduce the factors that are guaranteeing their success:

One: voters need to be more and more aware that this is the standard operating procedure of those in power in Ohio (and other states, no doubt). That means we ALL speak out about it. And the press needs to describe it as plainly as I just have. (And like NBC4 did with the pension board situation.)

Two: when you see these antics take place regarding a certain institution, it’s a tell. It's a clue that whatever body they are willing to act this lawless over is a body with powers they greatly value. Which tells us we better value that body as well. We better pay attention to it as much as they are. Something is going on within that insitution that is hugely important to them, their backers, their agenda—so that institution needs to be hugely important to us as well.

Third: those with the power—starting with prosecutors—need to fight harder to bring needed accountability. Lack of fear of accountability is what allows them to do this again and again. Private attorneys can also seek accountability, and may need our help in doing so.

Fourth: courts need to see the pattern as well. And that when they allow these types of moves to take effect immediately, forcing the pro-democracy side to fight for years to try to undo them, it usually means the attack will work. Swift action by courts to stop these maneuvers in their tracks, placing the burden on the aggressors to prove their case before anything moves forward, would go along way in protecting critical institutions.

Unless all these things starts to happen, their often lawless attempt to maintain power—even in the face of election results that threaten tier power—will continue.

Please share this so people see it…

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