Ohio2006 Blog

News, analysis, and comments on Ohio elections.

Tuesday, March 7

Gov: Strickland (D) Touts Ohio Turnaround Agenda; Blackwell (R) to Meet With Pastors Group

The gubernatorial campaign of Ted Strickland (D-Lisbon) has unveiled another chapter of his Turnaround Ohio plan, as detailed on his campaign website here. In brief, this phase aims to make sure Ohio workers have access to lifelong education and that Ohio employers have access to well-trained workers. I've attempted to extract the highlights of this part of the plan:

Getting Jobs Ready for Ohioans:
* Aggressively use Ohio’s workforce development system to support Ohio’s growth industries with high quality jobs.
* Provide an Ohio Workforce Guarantee, meaning that for every business that creates more than 20 quality jobs per year, the Strickland administration would make available free customized training and education through our community colleges and technical colleges, and for other businesses continuing to provide the Ohio Training Tax Credit.
* Target training resources to industries that provide high growth and good jobs by directing workforce training programs to high growth industry sectors.
* Develop the Ohio Skills Bank Program, to provide flexible funding to regional industry sector training consortia.
* Support community and technical colleges and Ohio’s adult career centers to develop credit courses to boost entrepreneurship and business survival skills geared to small business owners, managers and workers.

Getting Ohioans Ready for Jobs:
* Establish the “Ohio Open Door Card” for every Ohio adult learner, which will show in one place all their learning accomplishments, to help them access the maximum state and federal benefits possible to support their learning and receive effective placement counseling.
* Expand AccelerateOhio, a free, entry level certificate that will certify to employers that Ohioans have the skills to get and keep a good job.
* Use the bully pulpit of the Governor's Office to enlist business in our goals to encourage lifelong learning. Develop a partnership program with employers to give them full access to an online curriculum for workplace literacy skills.
* Help good jobs and qualified Ohioans find each other through a job matching system, better than the current system.
* Provide quality workforce data to Ohio businesses.
* Consolidate and strengthen Ohio’s workforce training system by rationalizing administration and funding of major adult education and workforce development programs at the state level.

A number of the specific components sound like they may be mere fluff, and others are just a promise to pursue existing programs more aggressively, but overall it seems like a decent set of measures and it displays a solid determination to make jobs and job training a high priority for his administration. Also, it seems to me that although many of the items need a lot more explanation before they can be properly evaluated, still Stickland is to be commended for being as specific and concrete as he has, given the early stage of this campaign and the constraints that face all candidates when it comes to delving into the details of policy positions. In any event, Strickland's positive focus on jobs and job training puts him in a very favorable light when compared to the mutual character assassination occurring among the Republican candidates, Ken Blackwell (R-Cincinnati) and Jim Petro (R-Rocky River), each running negative ads impugning the other's integrity.

More impressive than the document itself, however, is Strickland's ability to make his ideas come to life at a campaign appearance, as described in the Cleveland Plain Dealer here. Strickland spoke in a laboratory used by Sinclair Community College, known for innovative worker training. He used statistics to back up his plans to improve the state's Internet job board and to use state and federal money to better align job training programs with skills needed in the new economy. He pointed out that by 2012, almost 2/3 of the new jobs in Ohio will require some college education. Ohio has 1.4 million adults with no high school diploma and 1 million with some college but no degree. A two-year associate's degree translates into an additional $400,000 in lifetime earnings. Ohio presently spends $400 per year on a system of educating and training workers that is disjointed and fails to target resources where they are needed the most. "Clearly, money is not the issue with Ohio's work force training program," Strickland said. "Lack of leadership is."

Meanwhile, over on the Republican side of the race, I found this item very interesting. The Cleveland Plain Dealer "blog" Openers noted here that Blackwell will meet with United Pastors in Mission, a group of influential religious leaders from about 50 Cleveland area churches, in a private question-and-answer session at Cleveland’s Antioch Baptist Church on March 14th:

"Rev. Marvin McMickle, Antioch’s pastor, said the group is also inviting other area clergy to attend. Though McMickle, a Democrat, has been friendly toward Blackwell, he said the meeting is not an endorsement but a chance 'to create a dialogue' with him."
I take this as a sign of things to come from the Blackwell campaign. If he gets safely past the primary, expect him to push hard to gain a following among African-American voters by finding common ground with religious leaders and exploiting the sense among such voters that they have been taken for granted by the Democratic Party.

What's alarming to me is not so much that Blackwell is laying the groundwork for this strategy by meeting with Cleveland-area pastors now, but that I am waiting impatiently for Democratic leaders to reach out to them as well, and to other leaders in the African-American community. Fine, let Blackwell strike up a dialogue, but don't let that be the only dialogue going on! The time to heal old wounds and seek party cohesion is now, not later when voting day is upon us. Especially in light of the sore feelings among Democrats of color stemming from the heavy-handed process used to ensure the election of Chris Redfern as ODP Chair, it is imperative for Strickland and Redfern to approach African-American leaders now, and with appropriate deference, and seek their help to make absolutely certain that Democratic campaign efforts address the issues of greatest concern to African-American voters.

After writing all of the foregoing it came as something of a relief to me to read this piece in the Toledo Blade, revealing that Strickland met privately with Toledo political and African-American leaders when he was in town the other day. The thrust of the article seems to be trying to make a controversy out of Strickland's comment that he would make state employment available to former convicts. As a former prison psychologist, Stickland explained that the point he was making "is that people who served their time and are returned to their communities must become productive members of society." Elaborating, he said: "What I will try to do is have a policy that won't discriminate against people who served their time and returned to society." Nevertheless, the overall focus of the meeting was jobs and job training in general, and it sounds like it was productive:

[Toledo City Councilman Michael] Ashford said Mr. Strickland focused his remarks on "jobs, jobs, jobs" for Ohio and that more than half the audience signed up to volunteer for his campaign. Mr. Strickland called the event, and a smaller meeting with community leaders later Saturday in Mayor Carty Finkbeiner's office, a success.
"I came away feeling like I had a better understanding of the concerns of the folks in the community," Mr. Strickland said.

That's good, and let's have a lot more of it please.


At 11:29 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


The GOP Slime Machine has been waiting for Strickland to "Goof" and here are the headlines:

"Convicts Endorse Strickland"

"Tom Noe and Tom Delay can apply for a job in a Ted Strickland Admninstration".

Is this fair??


But who said politics ever had to be fair, because people are dumb enough to believe a split second sound-bite than take the time to read the who dang speech


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