The Wizard of Oz involves Ohio politics

Published: Sunday, October 07, 2012 @ 12:00 AM
Updated: Sunday, October 07, 2012 @ 12:00 AM

“Who is this Wizard who speaks through various figureheads ….? Marcus Alonzo Hanna … a close adviser to (William) McKinley and the chairman of the Republican National Committee.”

— Rutgers Professor Hugh Rockoff

Oz is short for ounce.

The yellow brick road represents the gold bullion that once backed the dollar.

Dorothy’s slippers, changed to ruby for the Technicolor movie, were silver in the book and represent silver ingots.

Toto represents the nagging but politically ineffective voice of the teetotalers of the day.

These aren’t allegations being traded in the Sherrod Brown-Josh Mandel race.

They’re opinions of serious scholars who argue the 1900 Frank Baum classic “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” reflects the most pressing political issue of the 1896 presidential campaign and that era’s Populist political movement.

“Yes, I think it’s a story of Populism, sure,” said Larry Schweikart, professor of history at the University of Dayton. “The symbolism seems too much to ascribe to pure luck.”

The Oz-as-politics theme is of particular interest to Ohioans because the Wizard is thought to be Cleveland’s Marcus Hanna, Karl Rove’s role model.

Moreover, because of the stake farmers and laborers had in the political roil, Springfield newspapers of the time heavily endorsed the silver side, as did Springfield industrialist John Bookwalter, who in 1896 wrote the book “If Not Silver, What?”

A story, but more

In 1990 the respected Journal of Political Economy revived an academic discussion dating to the 1960s when it published “’The Wizard of Oz’ as a Monetary Allegory,” by Rutgers University’s Hugh Rockoff.

“Baum’s main purpose was to tell a story, and his need for symmetry, interesting characters,” prevented precise parallels, Rockoff writes. But the book is “rich in references” to the politics of the times, the author adds.

With the nation in an economic slide it wouldn’t face again until the 1930s, the 1896 election was a fierce fight between the Eastern financial and business establishment and the farmers and laborers of the South and West over what constituted “fair” money.

The financial establishment, championed by Ohio Republican William McKinley, argued that gold was the steadier commodity and its continued use would assured that any debts owed were paid back in dollars closest in value to the dollars lent. They also said the 16:1 ratio of silver to gold proposed by the so-called bimetallists would devalue the dollar and lead to wild speculation.

The bimetallists, led by Nebraska Democrat William Jennings Bryan, had two arguments with the gold standard:

• Because the limited supply of gold limited the supply of circulating money, parts of the United States didn’t enough cash on hand to do business. This proved a practical problem for Western farmers at harvest time and was a constant problem in the South, which had experienced massive bank failures during the Civil War.

• For many years, the stagnant supply of gold actually caused the value of the dollar to increase in a condition called deflation. As a result, debtors felt they were paying back more than they had borrowed when they paid back loans, although some historians argue the deflated prices farmers paid for other things evened things out.

If the gold-silver debate sounds strange 116 years later, some lines from Bryan’s famous “Cross of Gold” speech at the 1896 Chicago Democratic Convention could be used in this year’s campaign.

“There are two ideas of government,” Bryan said. “There are those who believe that if you just legislate to make the well-to-do prosperous, that their prosperity will leak through on those below. The Democratic idea has been that if you legislate to make the masses prosperous their prosperity will find its way up and through every class that rests upon it.”

Some argue that in “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz,” Bryan is the Cowardly Lion — cowardly because of his opposition to the Spanish American War and a lion because of his roaring power as an orator. Likewise, most of Dorothy’s entourage is a political coalition, in which the Tin Man represents factory laborers and the Scarecrow represents farmers.

For the Scarecrow

It was for the scarecrows that Bookwalter, president of Springfield’s James Leffel Co., wrote his campaign-year book “If Not Silver, What?”

“As one whose prosperity depends almost entirely on farmers,” Bookwalter wrote, “I have naturally thought most of the effect of monometallism has had, and will continue to have, upon them.”

So did The Sun, Springfield’s morning newspaper.

Reliance on the gold standard had caused, “a heavy increase in the burden of taxation and of all debts, public and private; the enrichment of the money lending class at home and abroad; (and) prostration of industry and impoverishment of the people.”

Down the road in Dayton, the Evening Herald argued the opposite.

“It is estimated that the stockholders of the silver mining companies number about 50,000 persons … considerably less than the population of (Dayton). To increase the(ir) already enormous wealth … we are asked to take a step that will add mountains of weight to the burdens … of our laboring millions.”

Dayton’s Evening News agreed, citing this paragraph from the Financial Chronicle of New York: “The only gainers by a dishonest money policy would be the big debtors, including all employers of labor, who owe great numbers of small creditors, such as depositors in savings banks, holders of insurance policies and men and women who work for fixed salaries and wages.”

Witch direction

As mentioned, the battle pitted different regions against one another. It’s for that reason, Rutgers’ Rockoff argues, that Dorothy is from Kansas, a hotbed of Populism, and that her house lands on the Wicked Witch of the East, representing Eastern banking interests.

The Good Witch of the North, where populism also was strong, gives Dorothy the silver slippers and sends her toward the Emerald City (Washington, D.C.) to confront the powers that be. And Glinda the Good Witch of the South, where Populism also took root, helps Dorothy return to Kansas.

Rockoff notes that when Dorothy and her coalition arrive in the Emerald City (a city the color of cash), they are ushered one by one into a round room (“The Oval Office?” he asks). During their separate meetings with Oz, “each sees a different character” in an exchange Rockoff says is typical of the different things people hear when talking to politicians.

“But who is this Wizard who speaks through various figureheads …?” Rockoff asks. “To a Populist at the turn of the century there is only one answer: Marcus Alonzo Hanna. A close adviser to McKinley and the chairman of the Republican National Committee, he was, in Populist mythology, the brains behind McKinley and his campaign.”

Upon taking office, McKinley arranged for Hanna to fill the U.S. Senate seat from Ohio vacated when he named Sen. John Sherman his secretary of state.

Local fallout

The Ohio Historical Society says that Springfield industrialist Asa Bushnell, whose opulent mansion on East High Street is now the Richards, Raff & Dunbar Memorial Home, was a “longtime foe of Hanna in the state (Republican) organization.”

Serving in his first term as governor when McKinley was elected president, Bushnell “delayed naming Hanna as long as possible,” the historical society says.

Bushnell was a partner in Warder, Bushnell & Glessner, meaning his economic interests were close to the so-called Silverites. But it’s not clear whether his differences with Hanna were over silver or due to Bushnell’s allegiance to his own political mentor, Joseph Foraker.

There’s no doubt, however, that after resisting Hanna’s appointment and then only narrowly winning a second term, Bushnell was aware of the real world power of the “man behind the curtain” in late 19th century American politics.

Man accused of killing ex-girlfriend, hiding body in car heads back to Lorain Co.

Published: Wednesday, July 19, 2017 @ 3:08 PM
Updated: Thursday, July 20, 2017 @ 7:20 PM

DASHCAM: Darke Co. police apprehend suspect in woman's death

An Elyria man accused of killing his ex-girlfriend and stuffing her body into the trunk of his car that crashed Wednesday in Darke County is on the way back to Lorain County.


  • Woman’s body found in trunk of car on Ohio 49
  • Body believed to be of Linnea Satterfield of Elyria
  • Driver Roy Owens Jr. is suspect in Satterfield’s disappearance

UPDATE@4:29 p.m.

A Darke County judge set a $1 million bond today for Roy Owens Jr., who is suspected of slaying his ex-girlfriend and hiding her body in the trunk of a Buick LeSabre.

>> FROM THE NORTHERN BUREAU: Troy girl id’d as victim pulled from river

The Elyria Police Department filed an aggravated murder charge Thursday against Owens, who will be extradited to Lorain County, court officials said. Owens agreed to return to Elyria by waiving an extradition hearing.

Roy Owens Jr in court for extradition hearing

UPDATE@3:32 p.m. (July 20)

Owens was scheduled to appear around 4 p.m. today in Darke County Common Pleas Court. We’ll have a reporter in the courtroom who will bring you the  latest development in the case. 

UPDATE @ 11 p.m. (July 19)

Police detectives from Elyria arrived in Darke County this evening to question Roy Owens Jr., the suspect in the disappearance of Linnea Satterfield. Authorities believe a woman’s body found in Owens’ trunk is that of Satterfield, who is Owens’ estranged girlfriend reported missing Monday by her family.

Owens and Satterfield are from Elyria, a Lorain County city in suburban Cleveland.

UPDATE @ 10:25 p.m.

A background check of Roy Owens Jr., 56, the suspect in the disappearance and possible death of his estranged girlfriend, Linnea Satterfield, shows four misdemeanor convictions in Lorain County.

Owens, of Elyria, was found guilty in 2002 for domestic violence and disorderly conduct; and in 2000 for carrying a concealed weapon and improper handling of a firearm in a motor vehicle. Also in 2000, a felony charge of possessing criminal tools was dismissed.

>> Read the latest local stories in the Miami Valley 

UPDATE @ 6:20 p.m.

Darke County deputies responding to a report of an erratic driver around 1 p.m. learned ahead of time the vehicle was connected to a northern Ohio crime thanks to witnesses providing a license plate number, Chief Deputy Mark Whittaker said.

“Meantime the car crashed. The car drove off the right side of the road and struck a utility pole, snapped the utility pole; it landed on top of the vehicle,” Whittaker said of the car responding deputies found in a ditch in the 8000 block of Ohio 49 near Greenville, north of Dayton.

ON THE SCENE: Caroline Reinwald on the scene of Darke Co. body found

Roy Owens Jr. was taken into custody without incident and was taken to a local hospital for evaluation before he was booked into the Darke County Jail on felonious assault and domestic violence charges. Elyria police signed an arrest warrant for aggravated murder today against Owens, Elyria police Capt. Chris Constantino said.

When deputies searched Owens’ 2001 Buick LeSabre, “we discovered what appears to be an adult female deceased subject in the trunk of his vehicle,” Whittaker said. The cause and manner of death will be determined by the Darke County coroner, he said.

Before Owens was arrested -- Constantino said Owens was only wearing socks and underwear -- witnesses said he at first appeared to be running away and that he had a knife and made statements that he would harm himself, Whittaker said. When deputies responded, Owens was near his car, did not have any weapons and complied with deputies’ orders.

Elyria police detectives are on the way to Darke County, and the sheriff’s office will work closely with them and provide whatever assistance is needed, the chief deputy said.

UPDATE @ 5:15 p.m.

A suspect in a woman’s disappearance who crashed his car into a ditch this afternoon near Greenville was arrested around 1:30 p.m. without incident, according to the Darke County Sheriff’s Office.

When deputies searched the car of Roy Owens Jr., 56, they found a deceased woman in the trunk. The body was believed to be that of 56-year-old Linnea Satterfield, who was reported missing on Monday from Elyria in suburban Cleveland.

Darke county body found

Blood and a sign of a struggle was evident Monday when Elyria police officers checked Satterfield’s home after her sister reported her missing. Officers found her vehicle in the driveway of her Eastern Heights Boulevard home, her purse inside the house and her cellphone stuck in a neighbor’s dryer vent, Elyria police Capt. Chris Constantino said.

Police also checked the home at 128 Charles Court she shared for about 20 years with Owens, her estranged boyfriend, but neither were there. Satterfield was believed to be held against her will or worse. A warrant was issued for Owens’ arrest on felonious assault and domestic violence charges, and a nationwide alert was issued, Constantino said.

CBS affiliate WOIO reported that Charles Court neighbors said Owens and Satterfield had a lot of arguments, some “really bad.”

Linnea Satterfield, left, and Roy E. Owens Jr.(

UPDATE @ 4:25 p.m

Roy Owens Jr., who was wanted for a possible kidnapping, was arrested in Greenville near Ohio 49 at around 1:30 p.m. Wednesday, said Capt. Chris Costantino of the Elyria Police Department. 

Darke County authorities then searched Owens’ trunk and found a deceased woman they believe to be Linnea Satterfield of Elyria. 

Elyria Police issued an alert for Linnea Satterfield on July 17, 2017, when her friends and family could not get in contact with her. 

Police advise Satterfield had recently broken up with her boyfriend Roy Owens Jr. and had moved into her own residence. 

Map: Elyria and Darke County

UPDATE @ 4:05 p.m.

A body has been found inside of a trunk in Darke County. The vehicle has been the focus of an investigation this afternoon on Ohio 49 North.

A suspect is in custody without further incident. 


We’re working to learn more about an investigation reported on Ohio 49 west of Ansonia in Darke County. 

>> Read the latest local stories in the Miami Valley 

Callers into this newsroom report Ohio 49 is blocked in both directions in the area of Hathaway Road for an apparent investigation involving the Darke County Sheriff’s Office. 

Scanner traffic indicates deputies responded to the area around 1:30 p.m. on a report of a suspicious man in the area. 

Dispatchers for the Darke County Sheriff’s Office said there was a crash reported in the area, but declined to comment further on the incident. 

We’ll update this page as we learn more. 

For updates and more news click here to download our free apps.

Clark County groups combine for hazmat training

Published: Thursday, July 20, 2017 @ 5:44 PM

Springfield fire recruits along with Springfield Regional Medical Center and the Clark County Hazmat Team trained on how to deal with a hazmat situation.

Firefighters and area health officials spent Thursday morning training to react in case of a major chemical spill or similar emergency.

The exercise, which lasted most of the day, was designed to give rescuers and staff at the Springfield Regional Medical Center hands-on experience with how to deal with emergencies involving hazardous materials, said Ken Johnson, deputy director of the Clark County Emergency Agency.

MORE: Clark County businesses, agencies to get $9M rebate from state

“A lot of them don’t usually get the opportunity to work together on something like this,” Johnson said of hazmat accidents. “It’s a great opportunity to bring multiple agencies together.”

The agencies set up a mass casualty tent where patients would likely be treated first before entering the Springfield Regional Medical Center in the event of a real chemical spill, said Kaiti Overholser, emergency management coordinator for the Springfield Regional Medical Center.

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The drill included the Springfield Fire Division and a county Hazmat truck, and the drill allowed hospital staff to practice going through a decontamination process with patients, she said.

READ MORE: Springfield hospital gets national certification for stroke care

“You never really know when something like this is going to happen,” Overholser said. “Our staff needs to be prepared in the event there’s a gas leak or any type of chemical spill. It’s always better to be prepared just in case.”

Firefighters acted as victims and were taken to the hospital, where they were taken to the casualty tent and underwent the decontamination process.

DETAILS: Springfield hospital CEO discusses drug crisis, growth

The training also offered firefighter recruits the opportunity to obtain training for how to deal with hazmat situations, said Lt. Jonathan Pirk, of the Springfield Fire Division.

“Just reading it in a book does not accomplish what they need to accomplish,” he said. “They need to physically accomplish the task.”

If swine flu breaks out, pigs at Clark County Fair may face kill order

Published: Wednesday, July 19, 2017 @ 11:28 AM

Clark Co. fair leaders taking precautions to protect against swine flu

The Clark County Fair Board wants swine exhibitors to take precautions before attending the fair this week after reports of swine flu in Ohio, but some parents are upset about what the precautions could mean for their children and their pigs.

Pigs at the Clinton County fair were found to be infected with a strain of the swine flu that can infect humans, Clark County Fair Board President Bill Agle said.

“We’re just trying to be proactive and trying to do anything we can to prevent any kind of issues,” Agle said.

The Clark County Fair will open to the public on Friday at 8 a.m.

RELATED: County fair-goers warned after reports of swine flu in Ohio

On Tuesday evening the fair posted to its Facebook page: “After speaking with the state vet, Dr. Forshey, we strongly urge exhibitors NOT to bring any swine that was exhibited at any county fair previously.”

The post also says that exhibitors shouldn’t bring hogs that show any sign of illness. There is potential, Agle said, that the junior show could be a terminal show — meaning exhibitors wouldn’t be able to take any hogs home and all pigs will be sold for slaughter.

“We’re trying to follow all the health protocols that we can to prevent any kind of illness,” he said.

That would only happen if swine flu was detected, he said.

“Our show won’t be terminal unless there’s some kind of an issue,” Agle said, “and we’re doing everything we can to be proactive on that.”

The fair vet will check on livestock each day of the fair.

“If we do see any issues we’ll immediately isolate those animals or send them home,” he said.

But some parents are upset about the prospect of the show being terminal, Fair Mom Jaime Florence said, because many kids want to show their pigs at other fairs.

“It’s a lot of work and responsibility,” she said. “So I know kids like to show at the state fair.”

Some people also like to take their pigs home to breed.

“You just have to respect their guidelines that they have to follow,” Florence said of the fair’s precautions.

A terminal show wouldn’t be ideal, she said, but, “as long as everyone gets to show I think that is more or less the most important thing.”

DETAILS: 2 children infected with swine flu after Clark County

The Facebook post says, “We recommend any swine returning home be removed Tuesday evening. We will also allow swine to leave on Wednesday night after the county farrowed show at the set times already established.”

Last year two children became sick with swine flu after attending the Clark County Fair. The recovered and the virus didn’t spread to anyone else, the Springfield News-Sun previously reported.

Visitors shouldn’t be concerned about the virus, Agle said. People will be safe, he said, as long as they wash their hands after visiting animal barns and before eating.

John McCain gave one of his biggest political speeches in Dayton area

Published: Thursday, July 20, 2017 @ 12:59 PM
Updated: Thursday, July 20, 2017 @ 4:21 PM

Sen John McCain announces Sarah Palin as his running mate on Aug. 29, 2008 at the Nutter Center at Wright State University. Dayton Daily News photo
Sen John McCain announces Sarah Palin as his running mate on Aug. 29, 2008 at the Nutter Center at Wright State University. Dayton Daily News photo

U.S. Sen. John McCain, who announced Wednesday that he has brain cancer, made the Dayton area central to his presidential run in 2008.

RELATED: Ohio, local leaders react to news McCain has cancer

McCain, R-Arizona, chose Wright State University in Fairborn as the place he introduced Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin to the world.

Standing onstage at Wright State’s Nutter Center on Aug. 29, 2008 - his 72nd birthday -  McCain made the announcement that Palin would be his running mate in the race against then-U.S. Senators Barack Obama and Joe Biden. For many Americans it was their first look at a woman who ultimately became a household name.

“I am very pleased and very privileged to introduce to you the next vice president of the United States… Governor Sarah Palin of the great state of Alaska,” McCain told the crowd.

McCain campaigned in southwestern Ohio several times before the announcement. he spoke to the NAACP annual convention in Cincinnati on July 16, and spoke in Lima on Aug. 8.

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Two days before his Dayton appearance McCain spoke by phone to a Dayton Daily News reporter. He was holding the Palin announcement close to the vest.

At the time the most prominently mentioned contenders for vice president were former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, former Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge and Sen. Joe Lieberman, I-Conn.

Asked if there was someone else he was considering whose name hadn’t come up, McCain joked, “Well there is one, Wilfred Brimley.”

“He’s a nice supporter of mine,” McCain said of the TV pitchman known for his oatmeal commercials. “Former Marine.”

During the interview McCain laid out an economic plan that included typical conservative fare - such as tax cuts and increasing the number of charter schools and vouchers for private schools.

But he also called for helping people refinance homes at risk of foreclosure, doubling the tax exemption for children and giving families a $5,000 tax credit to buy health insurance in those pre-Obamacare days.

RELATED: Local doctors: John McCain’s cancer is aggressive

As the country’s growing economic crisis threw people out of jobs and their homes, McCain said he was particularly concerned about heartland states like Ohio.

“We have seen manufacturing jobs flee,” said McCain. “We have people who are sitting around the table figurin’ out how they’re going to afford their health care and educate their kids. Many of (them) have recently and suddenly lost a job.”

McCain said he wanted to fund retraining programs and increase the availability and affordability of student loans. He said he would resurrect the auto industry using high tech, hybrids and electric cars and give people a $5,000 tax credit to buy an American-made electric car.

“We’ve got to get our transportation system, our automobiles, off of gasoline as much as possible,” he said. 

After the event in Fairborn McCain hit the the state hard through Election Day. On Oct. 27, he campaigned again in Dayton. He also had events in Cleveland, Columbus and Cincinnati.

Here’s the complete text of McCain’s speech in Fairborn on Aug. 29, 2008:

The following is the text as prepared for delivery of John McCain’s speech in Dayton, Ohio, as provided by the McCain campaign.

It’s great to be back in Ohio. We need to win Ohio on November 4th, and with your help we’re going to win here, and bring real change to Washington, DC.

It’s been a long campaign and we’ve heard a lot of words, and great campaign trail eloquence. The amazing thing is that we’ve learned more about Senator Obama’s real goals for our country over the last two weeks than we learned over the past two years. It is amazing that even at this late hour, we are still learning more about Senator Obama and his agenda. He told Joe the plumber right here in Ohio he wants to quote “spread the wealth around.” It’s always more interesting to hear what people have to say in these unscripted moments, and today we heard another moment like this from Senator Obama.

John McCain introduces his vice presidential selection, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, on Friday, Aug. 29, 2008, at the Nutter Center in Fairborn, Ohio. Staff photo by Lisa Powell(Lisa Powell)

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In a radio interview revealed today, he said that one of the quote — “tragedies” of the civil rights movement is that it didn’t bring about a redistribution of wealth in our society. He said, and I quote, “One of the tragedies of the Civil Rights movement was because the Civil Rights movement became so court-focused I think that there was a tendency to lose track of the political and community organizing and activities on the ground that are able to put together the actual coalitions of power through which you bring about redistributive change.”

That is what change means for Barack the Redistributor: It means taking your money and giving it to someone else. He believes in redistributing wealth, not in policies that grow our economy and create jobs. He is more interested in controlling wealth than in creating it, in redistributing money instead of spreading opportunity. I am going to create wealth for all Americans, by creating opportunity for all Americans.

RELATED: A look at Nutter Center events through the years