By: Thomas Austin, Executive Secretary
Isn’t it amazing how time flies. It was only nine short months ago that we were working to reject SB 5 and Issue 2. Today’s political climate has not improved since last November and the attacks on the public sector worker and the middle class continue. However, the OPBA’s Endorsement Committee has been hard at work. The committee consists of Executive Director Jeff Pedicino, Executive Secretary Tom Austin (Twinsburg Police Department) and Trustee Brian Johnston (Geauga County Sheriff’s Office). The committee, along with Justice Andrew Douglas have designed and implemented a system in which each political candidate requesting the OPBA’s endorsement must answer a series of 14 questions:
1. What office are you seeking?
2. Why do you seek the endorsement of the O.P.B.A.?
3. Do you have an opponent? If the answer is “yes,” please identify your opponent by name and explain why you would be the better choice.
4. Public safety depends upon the ability of the law enforcement community to combat crime. To do this effectively, law enforcement personnel must have rights protecting their safety and compensation and benefits that is both reasonable and competitive to sustain themselves and their families. To these ends, please respond to each of the following questions.
A. Do you and/or will you support a law which provides that the personal information (home address, spouse’s name, children, telephone numbers) of law enforcement officers and associated law enforcement personnel is exempt from the Ohio Public Records law, R.C. 149.43?
B. Do you and/or will you support a law which makes it a crime to knowingly make a false complaint against a police officer?
C. Do you believe that a police officer has the same right of self defense as all other citizens?
D. Do you believe that all law enforcement officers should be afforded minimum due process before being fired or disciplined as a result of a citizen’s complaint?
E. Do you believe that law enforcement personnel should have the right to join a union and collectively bargain to obtain their just rights and goals?
F. Ohio’s Collective Bargaining Law is codified in Chapter 4117 of the Ohio Revised Code. Recently this law came under attack. Do you support the Public Employees’ Collective Bargaining Law? If elected, would you oppose any effort to substantially change or repeal the law including the provision that provides for final and binding conciliation for law enforcement officers?
G. In the past, law enforcement officers have given up wage increases in exchange for improved pension benefits. Will you oppose all but reasonable changes in public employee pension benefits?
H. Do you believe that health care coverage for law enforcement officers should be provided by the officer’s employer so long as the employee pays a reasonable portion of the premium?
5. Do you believe that an employer should provide for full funding for bulletproof vests for law enforcement officers?
6. Are you in favor of or opposed to placing public pensions under the Social Security system? Will you decline to support any legislation proposing such an effort?”
7. Recently Issue 2 (S.B. 5) was defeated. If any legislation attacking collective bargaining rights was again proposed, would you publicly express your disapproval of such efforts?
8. Do you support health care coverage for law enforcement retirees?
9. What is your position, in criminal and civil proceedings, on supporting the exclusion of statements made by officers after being advised of their “Garrity Rights”?
10. Recently some persons have proposed a Right to Work law for Ohio. Are you for or against such a law? If against, will you publicly state your position?
11. Do you oppose the imposition of the death penalty for those individuals convicted of murdering a law enforcement officer?
12. Do you support the elimination of specific restrictions that currently exist on concealed carry permit holders that could endanger those in law enforcement?
13. Is there anything else you would like to add that would assist us in determining whether you should be endorsed by the O.P.B.A and its membership?
14. Completing this form is a requirement before a personal screening takes place. If you have met this requirement, are you willing to appear before the Screening Committee of the O.P.B.A.?
As of August 1, 2012, the following have received the endorsement of the OPBA: Ohio Supreme Court Justice Yvette McGee Brown, Justice Terrence O’Donnell and Justice Robert Cupp; Ohio Senator Tom Patton, District 24; and Representative Tom Warren, District 76.
The OPBA is committed to its members and will hold endorsed candidates responsible for how they respond to the OPBA questionnaire and vote on laws associated to their answers. One case that comes to mind is Ohio State Representative Mike Dovilla, a Republican from the 18th District. Former Executive Director Terry Gallagher issued an endorsement on behalf of the OPBA. This endorsement was based in part on an answer that Representative Dovilla supported the right to collectively bargain. During the SB5 battle, the OPBA found Representative Dovilla voted with his party line and in favor of SB5. The OPBA contacted Representative Dovilla and advised if he did not change his position on SB5 when it became Issue 2 his endorsement would be revoked. Representative Dovilla did not change his vote on Issue 2 and the endorsement was revoked.
Well, guess who is up for re-election now – Representative Dovilla. Please keep this type of information in mind when you cast your ballot in Representative Dovilla’s district or for others who may have voted against our profession in SB5/Issue 2.
As always, please know that your endorsement committee is here to represent the OPBA’s membership interests at the Ohio State and United States levels of government. Please continue to monitor OPBA.com for further endorsements. Finally, as many of you proudly displayed the bumper sticker during SB5/Issue 2 stating “We’ll Remember in November”, please again make sure your voice is heard by voting this November.