Rob Nichols pleased the chairman of the Ohio Republican Party. Matt Borges applauded, via Twitter, a comment that Gov. Kasich’s press secretary made last week about a Democratic state lawmaker who is rightly curious about the recent and sudden departure of George Elmaraghy, the chief of the surface water division of the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency.
A respected veteran of the agency, Elmaraghy announced his resignation in a mysterious email. He alluded to making “every reasonable effort” to meet the needs of the coal industry yet still faced a request from the governor’s office to step down.
Did the governor’s office put the priorities of the coal industry ahead of sound stewardship? The Ohio EPA wouldn’t discuss a personal matter. It would defend its permitting process.
Enter state Rep. Debbie Phillips. The Albany Democrat asked the agency and the governor’s office to see the paper trail involving the decision. It was then that Nichols unloaded on Phillips, telling the Columbus Dispatch: “You would be hard pressed to find a job creator that she hasn’t opposed, vilified or protested at some point. If she had her way, we’d all be living on a collective farm cooking organic quinoa over a dung fire. So, I think we’ll take her views in context.”
At least, Nichols didn’t directly blame Phillips for losing 400,000 jobs. What remains missing is the context surrounding the Elmaraghy resignation. All that bluster, so delighting the party chief, wasn’t exactly an episode in transparency. Are Ohioans thus to believe that Elmaraghy wasn’t doing enough to accommodate the coal industry?