For this group, the Falls is becoming the preferred Garden of Eden for indignant right-wingers, like Myrtle Beach is for Ohio golfers. There have been previous Tea Party congregations there, and not an election passes that people like Rick Santorum doesn't show up on the Riverfront Mall to preach his final sermon before losing the Republican primary the next day. One of the reasons, I suspect is that Don Robert, Summit county Republican chairman Alex Arshinkoff's favorite mayor, presides over the city's political and spiritual agenda much of the time, completing the exercise with Arshinkoff, who serves as the tail wagging the tail.
For this year's tax day, the Republican headliners will be Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel, who slipped into the U.S. Senate race with a warehouse full of money before the big guys in Columbus could find somebody more likely to win; State Sen. Frank LaRose, who cast the deciding vote (after indicating that he wouldn't) to pass Senate Bill 5, which restricted collective bargaining and was destroyed in a referendum; and U.S. Rep. Jim Renacci, one of four congressmen who has a piece of Summit County following shameful GOP redistricting.
All would probably tell you that they are not really Tea Partyers, but this is an election year, so the safe thing to do is to attend these events to whip up the crowd by endorsing what Tea Partyers stand for. My ancestors had a clever way of innocently fending off such criticism. "Shou baddi aamel" - What am I supposed to do?"
A couple of things that don't make a helluva lot of sense to me: These anti-government blowhards are all on the government payroll with perks that you wouldn't believe. They also will be appearing on the Riverfront mall at the Pavilion, a convenient stage that was enabled by Federal tax money. (They didn't tell you that?)
Still more hypocritical is the fact that LaRose and Mandel are Iraqi vets who will be appearing to make hay in a town where the mayor would be expected to veto any move by City Council to give a same-sex marriage couple family rates at the Natatorium. Robart's position is even more repugnant in the fact that one of the spouses is a wounded Iraqi veteran. I doubt there will be a single word about this on April 15.
The issue isn't dead. Councilwoman Diana Colavecchio, a Democrat, says the six Democrats on council shares her belief that there should be equitable rates for all Natatorium members, but faced with a a threat of a veto she would fail to reach the 8-vote threshold to override Robart since the five Republican council members are siding with the mayor. One even expressed fear that otherwise he was afraid it would trouble some people, biblically.
On April 12, the matter goes back to the parks board with a possible opening. Both Colavecchio and board chairman Tim Gorbach, a Democrat, say they have dicovered a contradiction between two of the operations that the Board oversees- the Natatorium and Water Works Park. The latter has nothing in its rules denying a discount to same-sex couples but the Natatorium does. "It will take some time," says Gorbach, a Democrat who supports the couple's request, "but we'll have to find a way to reconcile the two to grant the discount."
That's the kind of leadership by him and Colavecchio lacking at City Hall, where religion and politics collide to enfeeble the idea of equality..