April 17, 2014

Ohio’s Newspapers Got Pantsed by Plunderbund

Only 2 News Outlets Not Hypocritical are Associated Press, Ohio Public Radio

(C2 Note: I stand corrected, in part, on the Dayton Daily News and Plain Dealer mentions in the post below.)

Two hours ago, this story hit the AP wire:

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Amid pledges to slash government spending, Ohio’s next governor is preparing to pay some of his top aides significantly more than current Gov. Ted Strickland has paid his.

Gov.-elect John Kasich defended the higher salaries for his chief of staff, communications director, press secretary and others on Thursday after they were made public on the political blog Plunderbund. The figures were released later Thursday to The Associated Press through a public records request.

That would mean that the AP published at around 6:30 p.m.  Good for them, they were no doubt held up by Kasich’s first-class communications team’s aversion to transparency.  By my recollection from the Twitter blowin’ up this a.m. at around 10, that’s eight hours of part-time bloggers making the statehouse press corps look stupid.

If you’ve spent any time at all campaigning, working for an elected official or you’re just a political junkie, you know that the media have a fascination with reporting what every public servant makes.  “Joe Blow, 57, of Westerville was appointed director of We’re Here to Help.  Blow will earn $75,000 per year as director – blah, blah, blah …”

When Gov. Ted Strickland took office, each of his cabinet appointments’ salaries were reported.  When Strickland took office there was a nice spread in the Dispatch with all their smiling faces and their salaries printed underneath.  To date, the “old” media haven’t printed anything about what Kasich is paying his appointments.

But oh goodness, how about that upstart, Plunderbund?  They tell me they did what any citizen can do, they placed a public records request to begin finding out how Yosemite John’s yapping about out of control spending measures up against the first fiscal decisions he’s making as governor-elect.

The results were interesting. His chief of staff will cost taxpayers $170,000 per year, about $30,000 more than the good people of Ohio pay their governors.  The director of communications will make $130,000 per year roughly $40,000 more per year than Strickland paid his communications chief.

Now, the fact is, Plunderbund rolled this story out this morning and it was roundly ignored by the “Big Three” of statehouse reporting, The Columbus Dispatch, The Dayton Daily News and The Plain Dealer.  The Dayton newsers rolled out five entries in their Ohio Politics blog today, nothing on Kasich staff salaries.  The Plain Dealer covered the $400 million end of year budget surplus and some unfortunate souls at the Lottery Commission who lost their jobs, no salary story.  The Columbus Dispatch rolled out the coverage of Kasich’s latest cabinet picks and apparently forgot they have a politics blog, The Daily Briefing, which wasn’t updated all day – no salary story.

There are two possible reasons for what the kids like to call the “lamestream media” not pursuing the story today.  Neither are defensible.  One, perhaps they were embarrassed by being scooped by “amateurs” – whatever that means in today’s mediasphere. Or, two, perhaps they decided they couldn’t trust the blog or the source document Plunderbund posted with their story.  Question for that one is, why didn’t they pursue the story themselves?

The whole thing is hypocritical.  Kasich’s – and his team’s hypocrisy – for what appear to be exorbitant public salaries.  The media’s hypocrisy for not holding Kasich to the same standard Strickland and his team were held to on the public disclosure front.

Let’s hope the Fourth Estate in Ohio quits pissing around and starts holding every public servant to the same standard – no matter who gets the scoop.


  1. Modern Esquire says:

    Thanks for the kudos, but I’m actually going to defend the Fourth Estate somewhat.

    The Dayton Daily News was the FIRST outlet I saw that reported our story and they gave us credit:

    The Plain Dealer reported on it but buried the lede in this story as well, but did give us credit as the source:

    So, they did give us coverage. But the Columbus Dispatch is AWOL. The Blade has run AP’s wire story on their site already.


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