Mike Knisley a paid lobbyist?
Our Mike Knisley … the Mike Knisley who graduated from Elida High School in 1978 and spent the next 40 years surrounded by pipefitters, welders, plumbers and electricians.
Nah. It can’t be.
“I have a hard time believing it myself,” said Knisley, acknowledging that in his new role as the statewide leader of the Ohio Building and Construction Trades Council, he spends more than 5 percent of his time meeting with legislators. According to the state of Ohio, that makes him an official lobbyist.
Still, the title just doesn’t seem right.
After all, your typical lobbyist is one of those people who after they shake your hand, you cannot get to a restroom quick enough to scrub it with soap and water. Too many lobbyists are professional weasels, hucksters, sneaks and back-stabbers. And those are the nice things we can say about the them.
Knisley, meanwhile, is just like his name implies — a nice guy. He’s honest, respectful, dependable, loyal, and most of all, open-minded.
That’s why he’s been one of the most trusted labor union leaders in the Lima region the past 14 years.
“It’s always served me well to listen to what people have to say before speaking,” Knisley said. “I’ve noticed that’s true with the older legislators, too, guys like Bob Cupp. The newer politicians are quick with the mouth sometimes, although they’re not as bad on the state level as they are on the federal level.”
Knisley has been on the job just two months and already has parked his Chevrolet Traverse at work sites in all four corners of the state.
Southeast Ohio sees 6,000 union tradesmen working on a $10 billion ethanol cracker. “It’s a six-year project where shale gas will be turned into ethanol. A six-year project is like a lifetime for construction workers.”
South Central Ohio sees cleanup work on the uranium enrichment plant in Piketon. Among the many things happening in Columbus is the construction of a new firehouse.
“Ohio has a lot going for it right now. You really see that in the construction work happening all over the state,” Knisley said. “I want to continue to expand the Building Trades’ presence across the state and develop regional strategies to spur economic development.”
At age 58, the new job has been a lifestyle change for he and his wife Kate. They have a condo in Grandview but still come back to Lima on weekends. He’s working on mastering the tricks of Columbus traffic.
“On Monday mornings, I leave Lima around 5:30 to avoid the morning rush to work in Columbus. It’s funny because I have the longest drive in, yet I’m one of the first people to work. At the end of the day, if you don’t leave work between 3:30 and 3:45, you might as well wait until 5:30 or so.”
The new job was one he couldn’t turn down.
“Leaving the Lima region has been bittersweet. I was extremely involved locally with the Plumbers and Pipefitters as well as the Lima Building Trades Council. Those years will always be special to me,” Knisley said. “I was just given a great opportunity …. to be able to lead the 100,000 men and women who put a hardhat on everyday, building the state of Ohio.”
ROSES AND THORNS: There’s a special spot in the rose garden for firefighters this week.
Rose: Leipsic firefighters used drones while fighting a downtown fire that destroyed two buildings and damaged two others. The drones had thermal imaging capabilities that helped firefighters direct hose streams and hit hot spots, said fire chief Neil Goodwin.
Rose: To David Coulter, of the Lima Fire Department. His passion for teaching EMS first-responder courses at Apollo Career Center and Rhodes State earned him Firefighter of the Year honors from the Lima Noon Sertoma Club.
Rose: To Keith Cheney. The Allen County Republican Chairman once again showed his ability to bring in a GOP all-star to pump up the local base. This time the visit was from Donald Trump Jr. and his girlfriend, former FOX news anchor Kimberly Guilfoyle.
Rose: It took Lima Police just a few hours to lock up William Miller and Christopher Spicer. They were found with evidence in hand after slipping through the roof of Daryl and Daryl’s Pizza and Wings on Robb Avenue and making off with its cash.
PARTING SHOT: You know your job is secure when nobody else wants it.
Jim Krumel is the editor of The Lima News. Contact him at 567-242-0391 or at The Lima News, 3515 Elida Road, Lima, Ohio 45807.