Years of dealing with prison inmates prepared Sheriff Jones well as he faced a Tea Party crowd with his arms crossed, mustache pointed out to the multitude of more than 350 who deeply support his position on immigration reform, but were heart-broken with the knowledge that Jones was set to be an anti-S.B.5 spokesman. The controversial bill passed by Governor Kasich early in 2011 takes major steps into limiting the monopoly control of public sector unions against the tax payer, and the Sheriff being a public worker himself is against such reforms.
I went on 700 WLW with Doc Thompson July 20, 2011, the day after, to discuss the monumental event which felt more like a civil war where family member against family member were fighting it out from ideological differences and in this case only one side is right, and one side wants to keep the status quo to their benefit.
The West Chester Tea Party has a great group, and this was the first time I had been to one of their meetings which was held in the phenomenal Entertrainment Junction situated right of I-75 at the Taylorsville exit. Entertrainment Junction is one of the largest indoor train displays in the world and the entrance is a replication of Old West Chester and would be just as home at the Epcot Center in Disney World as it is in the heart of West Chester. Visually, it is one of the most visually spectacular venues to hold a Tea Party meeting that exists anywhere. So it didn’t take much to convince me to attend, since I look for excuses to be near model trains and displays of creativity which permeate from every orifice of this incredible venue which is the home of the West Chester Tea Party on a regular basis. The tipping point for me was the Sheriff himself.
Sheriff Jones worked with a group of us from the Liberty Twp Tea Party on a video that we did about immigration reform. You can see that video below. I’ve seen the Sheriff on several occasions since then and respect him for his love to fight, because we share that love. But he’s been on the opposite side of arguments with the Tea Party before, so this S.B.5 issue isn’t the first. During the winter of 2011 he was pushing for a sales tax increase in Butler County that I and other members of the Tea Party resisted him on. You can read that article here: CLICK.
But this event was different, because Sheriff Jones represents exactly what the problems are in reforming government to a smaller, more accountable organization. He epitomizes the best of what the public employee has to offer, so the opponents of S.B.5, which includes Progress Ohio, the exact opposite type of organization as that from the Tea Party is using the Sheriff and his reputation to hide their malicious intentions with budget breaking government expansion. So that makes Sheriff Jones the enemy to reform which hurts.
But that didn’t stop many of my friends, all readers of this forum, some I had met, some I had met for the first time in person at this venue, from coming to this meeting ready for a fight. My friends are at all different levels of political involvement, and it was fun for me to be near so many of them in one place. As my wife and I parked our motorcycle when we arrived, we were instantly hit up by a couple of them who had their cars decorated with symbols of FREEDOM. There was no shyness in these people, as they were poised for battle not with guns and bayonets, but hand-made signs, T-shirts, bumper stickers, and books, which are in many ways more powerful than actual weapons. Knowledge is power! I barely put my kickstand down before I found an armful of patriotic T-shirts and reading material that will find their way into future posts on these pages.
The deeper I proceeded into Entertrainment Junction toward the meeting, the more it felt like a family reunion from Overmanwarrior’s Wisdom. I knew I had a lot of readers, but I had been assuming that many of them were people angry with me. As I signed in, I realized how much this web forum had grown, and I had a new idea of just how many people are reading it everyday, which I take as an extreme compliment. I started this site not to represent any particular Tea Party group, or any group of any kind. I wanted it to be the purest voice I could offer, without money involved to corrupt it, to feed the many Tea Party’s and others out there who want information that the newspapers won’t or can’t cover. So I was very enchanted to find so many people wanting to shake my hand and tell me how much this forum means to them. As I took a seat in the front of the room, I was surrounded by over a dozen direct fans and many others that I had just had the pleasure of putting a face to. Two of my friends, (two crazy women) took a seat on the opposite side of me from my wife and were very vocal during the meeting, especially with Sheriff Jones.
Cyd is a name that contributes frequent comments to Overmanwarrior’s Wisdom, and had never met Sheriff Jones before when she walked up before the event began and said, “Hi, I’m Cyd, and we are going to kick your ass on S.B.5.”
In the middle of the large conference room were hundreds of seats surrounded in every direction by model train displays. I couldn’t help but be impressed. As the meeting progressed and it was time for Jones to speak he stated his position on immigration reform, which is a no-brainer with a group like this. Then he spoke about S.B.5.
“I know everyone in this room is probably for Senate Bill 5,” Jones said, over his crossed arms, feet positioned confidently to match the width of his shoulders, projecting a willingness to fight anyone who cared to challenge him, which I’m sure was the intended effect. “My wife doesn’t agree with 100% of what I say, so you guys aren’t any different.” With that statement the Sheriff had skillfully taken the edge off an otherwise hostile crowd. The women on my right, Cyd and her best buddy Jorjann were very rambunctious standing up at times to cheer or protest what they were hearing.
After the Sheriff’s speech he took questions which I was one of the first in the form of an open debate. I expressed my mixed feelings about him and Bill Cunningham and how they had wanted change, but are now resisting change because they think the change was too much? I said I thought they’d be the first to stand behind a hard-nosed governor who made a tough clear-cut decision that was knowingly unpopular but much-needed for the necessary reforms in government. I also said to him that I thought it was unfortunate that he was being used by organized labor as a spokesman to hide all the terrible situations in the state teachers unions that are the real target of S.B.5.
This prompted another question from another friend of mine, who stated, “Sheriff, it is obvious that you are the exception to the rule, but the rule is that many do not operate as you do, especially in education. They do not make the hard decisions that you make and this is why we need S.B.5, to protect us from cost overruns by governments less skilled than you.”
There were many other questions along those lines with similar answers. But for me the climax of the evening came from a teacher who stood proudly and proclaimed, “Sheriff, something must be done. I am forced by my union to pay dues to things I do not support. I must watch as principals and administrators who are corrupt get away with excessive dishonesty and we all know it. The teachers union is all about power and I want out of it. What am I to do?” She went on for quite some time like that and the room had grown so quiet that a spider crawling on the wall behind the Sheriff could almost be heard. The Sheriff really didn’t have anything to say to all that. “I’m just the Sheriff,” he offered.
At the end of the meeting everyone shook hands. “Good luck,” the Sheriff said to me as he stepped from the front to leave toward the back of the room. I believe he sincerely meant it. I think if he wasn’t a public employee himself responsible for many personal friends and family members who are in law enforcement; he’d be on the same side as I am. He is a victim of circumstance. But that still doesn’t change the fact that he’s on the “other” side on this issue and is unfortunately a figure that must be dealt with because of his proudly self-proclaimed, “BIG MOUTH.”
That took me by surprise a bit. She went on to tell me stories about how she teaches her students about Atlas Shrugged, and Lord of the Rings, which left me wondering how many other teachers were out there just like this woman, caught in a terrible system, wanting to break out and excel….to be great, and to really teach their students things instead of some union enterprise dictating her stamina.
In a nutshell she had just made the statement of why we need S.B.5. Sheriff Jones and those like him in the public sector are just protecting the status quo. They don’t want change because that change will be painful to them. But S.B.5 is needed for women like the brave teacher who stood up at a Tea Party meeting and proclaimed that change was needed, that she wanted to be free of the tyranny by a terrible union that is holding her back as an employee so that the average can flourish and the best can be suppressed. And her union dues are used to purchase political influence, against the teachers will, and she wants out of it.
S.B.5 will not only help tax payers control their local costs more effectively, but it will be the first step into freeing good teachers like the woman who spoke up in a model train filled room full of eager, heart-broken patriots, facing a Sheriff who is the spokesman for big labor and getting back the non-committal answer……..”I’m just the Sheriff.”
After the meeting some of my other friends, people who have been with me for a long time, back when we did the video with Sheriff Jones for the Liberty Twp Tea Party, invited my wife and I to Graeters to have some ice cream. We met them there as the sun set and heat storms dotted the horizon. We ate our ice cream outside on the patio by a cleaver looking fountain. My friends wanted updates on all my wife and I’s recent activities and we swapped stories as the wind picked up and cooled down a day that had been well over the 100’s in heat index during the day. Warm air was rapidly escaping into the emerging clouds building in the darkness above. I could smell rain building in those clouds but I didn’t care. As I finished my hot fudge sundae I thought about the Sheriff and how soon he’d be on TV, speaking against S.B.5 on spots already purchased by groups like Progress Ohio. The Sheriff would be speaking based on his limited experience as “Just the Sheriff.” But millions of voters would believe everything he said because they are too lazy to get the facts. Meanwhile, there are many thousands of teachers stuck in a bad system just like the woman who spoke, and I wondered if people would come to their rescue. Would they have the courage? Would they do the right thing?
The remainder of our friends left for the night leaving my wife and I to ride home in the sputtering rain on our motorcycle. My wife pushed her head against my back to prevent some of the heavy rain drops from pelting her, because at speeds over 40 MPH each strike of rain is like being jabbed with a needle. But for me, there is no place to hide, to tuck my head away for protection, which appeared to be the appropriate metaphor for what was happening. S.B.5 will be painful for many people. It will be painful for the public sector unions. It is painful for people like me who have to go against people who would otherwise be friends if not for their position on repealing the bill. But the right thing to do in protecting S.B.5, and that is for the benefit of all society, is to take the pain and trudge ahead, to not become distracted and crash with indecision.
As I pulled the motorcycle into the safety of our garage from the lightning filled skies and pouring rain, my wife and I were soaking wet, but happy to have arrived home intact. And the day after the election in November will bring a similar emotion even though the pain in getting there will be difficult. Because in the game of politics, the statement, “I’m just the sheriff,” means “we will not dispute facts, but argue emotion, in the pursuit of a political system that has been built by generations and it won’t end on my watch.” But it has to end now or later, and at some point in the very near future it will end whether we decide for ourselves to act, or circumstances force it upon us, because the rain clouds are forming and it will rain.