News Team, Assemble!

Well then. Here’s something you don’t see every day:

Ohioan, 94, wakes up to blimp that landed in yard

I would say that I somehow missed this story amongst the breathless tales of traffic accidents, drug deals gone wrong, and can’t-live-without health tips from our local evening news. Which is, come to think of it, exactly why I missed this story.

I just don’t watch the local news that much for all of the above reasons. We live near Columbus, which you may recall is the state capital of Ohio (unless you went to public school, in which case the answer is “C”). It’s also where “The” Ohio State University is located.

Being so close to a hub of such vitally important activity, with the potential to affect every citizen of our fair state, you’d think the local news would devote more attention to the goings-on within. If they did, we’d have known about the football team’s shenanigans and the coach’s willfull neglect of same long before the NCAA and Sports Illustrated twigged to it.

Oh, wait a minute. You thought I was talking about goings-on in the statehouse? Silly you. Based on the time devoted by our local press, you could be forgiven for thinking the Buckeyes are more important.

Which is another reason why I don’t pay much attention to the local talking heads. They’ve had their noses so far up OSU’s butt for so long, if Jim Tressel ever came to a sudden stop he’d need surgery to remove all of the overpriced haircuts from his lower intestine.

Of course, the bloom’s off that rose now but I still like the imagery.

Though I tend to ignore the local blowhards, I’m a current events junkie because so much (too much) of what happens inside of our legislatures has a direct impact on our personal lives.

Take Ohio’s Senate Bill 5. Please (ba-dum-dum).This was, is, and will continue to be the subject of heated debate. It’s our own version of Wisconsin’s collective-bargaining reform, which you may recall was the cause of some consternation in Madison last winter. SB5 has made things pretty ugly here in Ohio, though not nearly as intensely.

That’s probably because Ohio allows us to challenge legislation we don’t like through referendums, so the unions figured they were better off taking this to the ballot box instead of making fools of themselves on the statehouse grounds (which they did anyway, but again not as badly as the Wisconsin goons).

My opinion on the law is probably self-evident: I’m for it. Not because I’m a Scrooge who thinks teachers should make minimum wage, or firemen should be relegated to bucket brigades, or cops should be reduced to bullet-in-the-pocket Barney Fifes. Although listening to the unions, it appears that’s what they believe is in store for their membership if SB5 stands.

We’ve reached a point of diminishing return, accelerated by a bad economy. Those who serve the public can no longer expect benefits that aren’t enjoyed by the people who fund their paychecks. The money’s just not there anymore. Out here in the private sector, most of us have suffered three years of pay freezes, if not outright cuts, while our health insurance premiums go up year after year.

The unions may have to accept that the real benefit (besides a paycheck) that they’ll get from their jobs comes from personal satisfaction. I’ve always thought that was hugely important for teachers, cops, and firefighters; maybe not so much for Patty and Selma at the DMV.

There’s a great deal more to SB5, some of which I disagree with. But to expect the rest of us to fund benefit packages at a level we’ve never enjoyed is frankly obscene.

So what does any of this have to do with local news? Well, I just spent a couple hundred words describing a thorny issue that will affect everyone living in my state. My position and rationale should be quite clear to anyone who can read and understand English. Hopefully the underlying issues are equally clear.

Do you think the TV stations are talking about that? Think hard.

Ding! Time’s up.

The painfully small amount of attention they’ve devoted to this very big deal, in comparison to otherwise trivial events, is almost criminal. And when they do discuss it, it’s almost always about the “controversy” and little else. We all get why the unions are pissed. That’s extremely well understood. But a little more explanation of the actual issues, budget realities, and the consequences of our choices would be appreciated.

Keep it classy, San Diego…err, Columbus.

NOTE: This has been edited from a much larger, bloated, and meandering post. I’m no Hunter S. Thompson, thank goodness.

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