Demonstrations outside the Ohio Statehouse provided lasting images from the debate over Senate Bill 5, a proposal to restrict collective bargaining rights for organized labor.
On Feb. 22, 2011, more than 5,000 union workers staged a raucous protest rally with colorful signs and bullhorns. Their target was Republican Gov. John Kasich and the GOP-controlled Senate that was pushing the bill.
Even Republican Senate President Tom Niehaus the next day grudgingly expressed admiration for the groups’ ability to coordinate so well and make themselves part of the lawmaking process.
But right after comments praising the protesters, Niehaus veered in a totally different direction, painting a different lasting image of the protesters at the Statehouse — one not quite so becoming.
"Unfortunately, we have documented instances where people defecated in the building. We have documented instances where they have written on the walls," Niehaus said. "This is the people’s house. I used to say treat it like it’s yours. Well, I don’t want it to be like it’s theirs if that’s the way they treat their own home."
Some union groups responded immediately, denying that a group featuring police officers, firefighters, teachers, nurses and others unionized workers would commit such vile acts in the storied building.
We looked into Niehaus' claim and rated it Pants on Fire
. It became one of our favorites from the year.