Jill of Writes Like She Talks had forwarded a link to a WCPN podcast addressing Issue 6. Melanie Elsey, co-hair of Vote No Casinos, and Dr. Bradley Pressman, co-founder of MyOhioNow, the organization sponsoring Issue 6, joined host Dan Mouthrop on WCPN’s Sound of Ideas on the morning of Tuesday, October 21st. My first reaction, while listening to the podcast, was “They’re allowing Pressman to dominate the discussion. Pressman talks in the loudest voice, and talks the most. Though there are some challenges put to Pressman that he doesn’t aptly respond to, if one wasn’t listening to the content closely, one would conclude that Pressman was permitted to speak with too much authority.” I, myself, wanted to jump into the debate and start challenging Pressman, because I felt that the host and the other guest weren’t challenging him enough. So I wrote an e-mail back to Jill, and in the intro I said, “Thanks, Jill. I’ve been listening to the podcast. Unfortunately, the pro-gambling advocate dominated the discussion throughout, so I don’t think I’ll link to this on my blog.” While the arguments against Issue 6 are there (You can listen for yourselves at the links above.), Pressman bullies his way through the debate, and I didn’t think it would be the most persuasive case I could make on my blog against Issue 6.
This morning, however, I ran across this piece of information from Daily Briefing, the online political blog of the Columbus Dispatch. It seems that MyOhioNow only participates in debates that allow them to have an advantage!!!! Well, well, well. How about that?
So, what is it about the debate that wouldn’t allow MyOhioNow to enjoy an advantage? Was it a scary debate opponent? Nope. The opponent would have been a representative of No on 6, a campaign committee that Argosy casinos is a stakeholder in. I told Jill in an e-mail, “Part of what’s inhibiting the debate against Issue 6 is that Argosy’s voice is one of the loudest voices against it, and Argosy obviously doesn’t make any case against gambling. Argosy only make cases against the monopoly and the wording of the constitutional amendment.” There’s a lot that can be said against Issue 6 from the standpoint that the constitution is being amended, that the proposal is for a monopoly, and that the wording of the proposal is reckless, (like the point Crabby Fat Guy makes here, or the point Word of Mouth contributor Kalin Stipe makes here) to be sure, but there’s a fuller scope of challenges one can make against casinos, as I did in my first blog entry about it, and as I did when I challenged gambling, itself, on the basis of economics. There’ll be no one participating in the debate who would challenge the greed of both MyOhioNow AND Argosy, like the points made here, here, and here. In summation, the debate opponent will not be a formidable one. That’s not the reason why MyOhioNow wants to back out.
The objection to the debate was that it was to be hosted by the League of Women Voters of the Greater Dayton Area! Say WHAT??!!! The League of Women Voters scares the bejeebers out of MyOhioNow? The same League of Women Voters that host candidate and issue debates through various local chapters throughout Ohio and the rest of America? My goodness, as a state rep candidate, I’ve participated in candidate forums hosted by Oberlin’s chapter the League of Women Voters TWICE, once in 2002, and again in 2004. What’s the big deal? If you visit the website of the League of Women Voters of Ohio, you can find this statement:
The League of Women Voters of Ohio (LWV-Ohio) announced its opposition to state Issue 6, the proposed constitutional amendment authorizing a privately owned casino in Clinton County. LWV-Ohio’s stand is based principally on its public policy position on the Ohio Constitution, adopted in 1968 and readopted every two years since then. This policy states that the Ohio Constitution should be a clearly stated body of fundamental principles, and provide for the flexible operation of government. LWV-Ohio believes that Issue 6’s designation of a specific 94-acre parcel of land for a casino is too narrow a concept to be in the constitution.
LWV-Ohio also found Issue 6 at odds with another of its long-held public policy positions that states Ohio taxes should be fair and equitable. LWV-Ohio believes Issue 6 grants a disproportionate share of the casino’s tax revenue to Clinton County.
LWV-Ohio President Linda Lalley said the LWV-Ohio Board carefully weighed the pros and cons of the issue in reaching its decision. She emphasized, “The Ohio Constitution is the foundation of our state’s governance. It should be—it must be—a clear set of fundamental principles that guide our state. It should not be a pile of Post It Notes for special interests.”
I LOVE that last part that says the Ohio Constitution should not be a pile of Post It Notes for special interests. That’s sheer genius! I LOVE IT!!!
I guess it’s that sheer genius that MyOhioNow is scared of? But wait! They’re just the host of the debate, for crying out loud, they aren’t a participant in a debate! What’s to be scared of? John McCain and Sarah Palin had to participate in debates moderated by news anchors that favor Obama. So what? I don’t know if any of my debates as a candidate ever took place in a neutral or friendly setting. When I was running as a Republican candidate, I was in the 56th Ohio House District, which has a Democrat index of 70%. I spoke and had question and answer sessions in front of labor unions. Oberlin’s chapter of the League of Women Voters is non-partisan, like any chapter of the organization is. But, let’s be serious, I was an Oberlin resident in 2004, and I can tell you that registered Democrats outnumbered the registered Republicans by a factor of 25 to 1 in my precinct. I think it likely that, though the League was non-partisan, more of the members were Democrats than they were Republicans, just as the Oberlin community, itself, has many more Democrats than Republicans. Following MyOhioNow’s reasoning, I should have reconsidered. What was I supposed to do? Have a hissy-fit and refuse to appear? Nonsense. Did I want to represent my community in the Capitol or not? Of course I participated. While MyOhioNow says they’ve debated their opponents 20 times or so (a number that’s inflated by the times they’ve appeared before editorial boards), this is an opportunity to participate in a debate that has a target audience of Clinton County, the location of the proposed casino, itself. So, does MyOhioNow want to be part of the Clinton County community or not? Their actions say, NO, they just want to exploit the community.
MyOhioNow referred to the League of Women Voters as a “firing squad.” That’s absolutely outrageous. The League does not conduct debates in such a manner. If I were a Clinton County resident, I’d be offended by MyOhioNow’s lack of neighborliness and demonstrated lack of wanting to be held accountable to the community by way of dodging this debate. If I were a member of the League of Women Voters, I’d also be offended at the “firing squad” description. There are so few outlets for political speech that don’t cost money to a campaign. The League of Women Voters is a godsend for providing opportunities to have voices on the candidates and issues be heard. I’m very grateful for the opportunities the League afforded me to have my say in a public forum.
If we are witnessing this slippery ducking-and-dodging now, before we’ve even voted, I think it’s predictable how MyOhioNow will behave afterward, if Issue 6 were to be approved. Let’s not approve it. Vote NO on Issue 6.