It may not be visible to the naked eye, but it’s there.
Major fault lines run through the seemingly smooth surface. Deeper still, there runs a river of molten lava, hissing and spitting with furious energy. The pressure builds silently. It builds ever so slowly.
And then, BOOM! The pressure shatters the calm surface, the splits blow open, and the lava spews forth, engulfing everything in its path.
No, we’re not talking about the geology of earthquakes and volcanoes. We’re talking about City Politics.
Actually, the splits are often quite visible. The Ds have had their infamous rifts, most notably in oh five when Carty ran against the incumbent Mayor Jack Ford. La- bor unions split over that one, with some backing the Fink and others favoring Smilin’ Jack.
The Rs split has been more recent, with battles over Party leadership and candidates with deep Repuglican roots hiding behind the slimy label of “Independent.” But most of these rifts have been smoothed over in the past year, with the Ds playing nicely in the sandbox under the leadership of Ron Rothenbuhler, the Rs getting along with their erstwhile “Independent” types, and the unions finding solidarity in the threats posed by the incumbent Guvnah, John Kasich.
The latter Kumbayah moments have been most notable. Nothing brings factions together like a threat to survival. The challenge posed by SB 5 in twenty eleven, and the resulting Issue Two fight to repeal it, brought the labor movement together like nothing be- fore. Now states to Ohio’s west and north have passed so-called “Right to Work” legislation that could deal a final death blow to the ability to organize workers.
Toledo’s unions have made defeating John Kasich and his possible backing of similar legislation in Ohio their top priority.
That translates pretty easily into putting a big fat target on the back of Toledo’s incumbent mayor, Hizzoner Mikey P. Bell. Kasich has referred to ol’ Bellbot- toms as his “buddy,” the only mayor of a large Ohio city that stood with him in the Issue Two fight. Bellbottoms has further angered unions by declaring City contracts null and void when he first took office and pushing to privatize refuse collection.
The fear is a re-elected Mikey P. will campaign actively with Kasich next year, giving him free rein in Ohio’s fourth-largest city. Bell also would likely back a “Right to Work” initiative and push for further privatiza- tion of City services, potentially reducing union jobs in the public sector. Unions across the city agree. Bell has got to go.
That call first manifested itself in another split, wheth- er to back Anita Lopez, as most unions did, or D. Mike Collins. Now that A Lo tripped over her own inability to construct coherent sentences and didn’t pass the Primary test, the unions are regrouping solidly behind Collins.
The next step was to bring the Democratic Party along for the ride. See, due to a number of structural failings, most notably having two horses in the race that split a large aggregate vote total, no Ds cleared the Pri- mary Election on the road to November. What is a solid Democratic voting bloc to do?
Labor pushed hard for the local Ds to throw their support to Collins. But in a contentious Executive Comm meeting, the motion lost by a one-vote margin.
So the Ds couldn’t get a candidate through to challenge Bell, then wouldn’t back the remaining pro- labor “Independent” candidate despite the urging, plead- ing, and threats of organized labor.
Pop goes the weasel
BOOM! The pressure has shattered the calm surface, the split has blown open, and the lava is coming hot and heavy. Yvonne Harper, former Executive Director and leader of the Ds screening committee, who openly spoke out against the Collins endorsement, has been ousted. She is fighting mad, as is a large segment of the African American community. It might look a bit curious that Rothenbuhler, the nominal head of the Ds and a white male, remains in place, while Harper got thrown into the volcano.
Also in the center of the fissure is good ol’ Smilin’ Jack, a Bell supporter in oh nine, who has turned his alle- giances and really wants Bell defeated. Ford didn’t screen with Harper’s committee for the Party endorsement, and has had previous run-ins with Harper. He has been court- ed actively by the Party to join the endorsed slate, and by candidates to throw his support their way.
Meanwhile, the unions are split over whether to con- tinue support for the Democratic Party that didn’t see things their way, and leadership in the African American community is split over how to react to Harper’s ouster and Ford’s alleged role in the decision. These are two im- portant segments of the D electorate.
Stay tuned, folks. The lava from this political Krakatoa has just begun to flow.