Mount Vernon News Aids Union Redistricting Takeover
Mount Vernon News promoted the union-driven Voters First Ohio campaign by excluding key details from a June 19 story entitled “Put ‘Voters First’ when redistricting.” Covering a June 18 Knox County Democratic Women meeting, reporter Rhonda Bletner relayed Voters First talking points from League of Women Voters of Ohio director Ann Henkener without providing needed context.
In the fifth paragraph of her story, Bletner wrote, “The Republican Party happened to control the governors office and had the majority in both chambers of the Statehouse. The redistricting process created districts that favor the interests of Republicans, Henkener said.”
By design, Ohio’s current redistricting process is controlled by Ohio’s elected officials. The Republican Party did not “happen” to hold the governor’s office and the General Assembly in 2011. Ohio voters elected a Republican governor, representatives, and senators in the November 2010 election. Downplaying the importance of elections makes existing map-making procedures seem arbitrary and unfair, to the benefit of Voters First.
In the following paragraph, Bletner relayed another Voters First meme from Henkener: “She described Ohio as a state almost equitably divided between Republicans and Democrats. But when redistricting results in a 12-4 split with the Republicans coming up with 75 percent of the representation, ‘Thats manipulation,’ she said.”
When the Congressional map was being redrawn in 2011, Republicans held 13 seats and Democrats held 5 seats. Republican officials removed one district currently held by a Republican and one district currently held by a Democrat from the new map. Voters First deceptively avoids this fact, but Mount Vernon News should have included it.
When identifying Voters First in more detail, Bletner wrote, “So Voters First, a coalition of ‘good government’ organizations is proposing a more fair, nonpartisan way of drawing congressional and legislative districts and hopes to put the issue before Ohio voters this November.”
Bletner then listed a number of Voters First partners. Of the many labor unions backing Voters First, Bletner mentioned only the Ohio Education Association (OEA) and AFL-CIO, listing them sixth and seventh of ten groups. Bletner did not list union front We Are Ohio and failed to note that the Voters First amendment was written by two Democratic donors.
Media Trackers has reported that Voters First leans heavily on League of Women Voters to conceal the fact that unions are driving the campaign. As of May 29, all Voters First petition locations were OEA, AFL-CIO, or ProgressOhio offices. On June 11 the petition locations included a wider range of union halls, but union-funded ProgressOhio remained the only site not directly controlled by a labor union. As of this writing no locations are listed on the Voters First website.
Voters First, aided by Mount Vernon News and The Toledo Blade, is a union campaign masquerading as “fair” and “non-partisan.” The redistricting process that would be created by the Voters First amendment would exclude many non-union politically active Ohioans, and includes requirements for bipartisanship which union bosses could easily circumvent by stacking the panel with Democrats and pro-union Republicans.