Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Capital University's Fuller Society holds successful public forum on statewide ballot issues.

Tuesday evening, The Fuller Society holds a public forum on the statewide ballot issues being presented to Ohio voters.

After the program segment on the ballot issues is completed, surrogates for the Republican and Democratic presidential candidates offer presentations.

Most members of the audience depart after the issues forum. The photograph above illustrates the smaller audience that remained for the presidential candidate surrogates.

The forum begins almost promptly, at two minutes after 6:00 p.m.

Bexley Public Radio attends and records the discussions on Issues 5 and 6.

If successful, Issue 5 will remove legislative limits on the charges made by payday lenders. Issue 6, if it is successful, will authorize a gambling casino in Clinton County.

The audience totals fifty-five. The audience appears to be mostly students.

Five members of the audience wear “Vote No Issue Five” tee shirts. Another audience member wears an oversized badge that also says “Vote No Issue Five.”

Later these members of the audience are identified as employees of payday lenders. Their jobs hang in the electoral balance. None of these employees circulated their resumes so they appear confident that the initiative petition will fail.

Including the Bexley producer, there are two media representatives working at the forum. One of these media representatives later identifies himself as a Capital student and also member of The Fuller Society. His name is Jed Cooper and he records the forum on video. Is he a media representative? He is kept in the count. Two media representatives are working at the forum.

There are also the two presidential candidate surrogates.

And Cynthia Duncan, the faculty advisor for The Fuller Society, stands in the rear of the audience. Her critical eye watches the details of the proceedings.

The total number of people in attendance is sixty.

Lucas Baker, a member of The Fuller Society acts as moderator. He runs a tight ship. Ten minute segments are really ten minutes long. His precision will make the editing of the recording easy for the radio station.

Baker introduces Jennifer Beck who opposes the casino issue. Beck is an efficient speaker. She has twelve points to make. She makes her points clearly, offers understandable reasons and finishes her presentation in the allotted time.

No one from the gaming industry appears. Rick Lertzman is scheduled to speak in support of the casino but turns out to be a no show.

I imagine that I hear two students in the audience wager at four to one odds that Lertzman will arrive at the Bridge of Learning at 7:00 p.m. The student offering the odds explains that nobody schedules an evening meeting at 6:00. Lertzman probably thinks it is scheduled for 7:00 p.m.

My own thought is that people in the gambling industry are unreliable and I’m not surprised that Lertzman doesn’t appear. Later I learn that Lertzman doesn’t appear at 7:00 p.m. He’s not there at 7:30 p.m. And he is not there at 8:00 p.m. either.

I’m not surprised. Lertzman, a man I’ve never met, fits my stereotype of someone in the gambling industry.

Next Lucas Baker introduces the proponents and opponents of Issue 5, the initiative petition to repeal legislative limits on payday lenders charges.

Bridgette Roman is the opponent and wants to end legislative limits on payday lender charges. Roman is an attorney. Her presentation is orderly. To make the point that Issue 5 threatens employment, Roman asks the payday employees in the audience to stand up. The five tee-shirted “Vote No” and one “Vote No” badge employees arise.

Nick Bates is a proponent of Issue 5 and wants legislative limits to be placed on the charges of payday lenders. Bates is a student in the dual law and divinity degree program at Capital University Law School and Trinity Lutheran Seminary. He is accompanied by Suzanne Gravette Acker.

The basic substantive disagreement of these two speakers is whether principles of Christian social justice or principles of Christian business judgment should control payday lending in Ohio. Of course, neither of the advocates was this specific in labeling the principles they were reasoning from.

At some point in Roman’s presentation, the proponents become upset and think that Roman is attacking them personally. Bates expresses personal pride in his own modest pay level and Craig is proud of her organization's tiny budget in comparison to the financial resources rallied against them.

The frisson of Craig and Bates is real but I do not comprehend what actually upsets them.

Lucas Baker notes that the final ten minute segment is complete and then offers the platform to a representative of the League of Women Voters who discusses Issues 1 through 5. This speaker also offers basic instructions and cautions about what to expect on election day at the polls.

The statewide ballot issues part of the forum concludes.

There is no applause when the speakers vacate the stage.

Bexley Public Radio disassembles its equipment.

Lucas Baker introduces the McCain and Obama surrogates.

I loiter in the hallway to pick up details about The Fuller Society that sponsored the evening event. Darious Fequire introduces himself as a member of The Fuller Society. Lucas Baker and Jacob Chapman introduce themselves as members. And finally, I meet Kristina McCann and Jed Cooper, also both are identified as members of the Society. Cooper I know as the media representative operating the video camera.

Fuller Society members. l to r. Jed Cooper, Kristina McCann, Darious Fequire, Lucas Baker and Jacob Chapman. Faculty advisor Cynthia Duncan declined the opportunity to be photographed.

Among the random bits and pieces that I learn is that the society’s purpose is to open up the political arena to students. This evening public forum is a success for that organizational purpose. A former Congressman is present. A representative of the League of Women Voters and activists from Cohio attend together with other lobbyists.

Other bits of information about the Society.

The Society is nonpartisan. The organization is named for Buckminster Fuller. Buckminister Fuller was a mid-20th century social scientist, philosopher, inventor, mathematician, and engineer. He was a syncretist who analyzed social issues from multiple disciplines of knowledge.

The Fuller Society approaches the understanding of social issues from a multidisciplinary standpoint.

The Society functions to provide students with opportunities for interaction with politicians, lawyers, interest group representatives and other social issue advocates.

The Fuller Society exists to serve educational needs of Capital University students by providing extracurricular
professional development and experimental opportunities.

The Society provides students with the opportunity to acquire an understanding of social issues that affect the structure and functions of American society.

Diverse political and personal views are encouraged and students are placed in situations that promote professional career preparation in an open and non-partisan environment.

Faculty advisor Cynthia Duncan says that all of the members are sophomore students and she is hopeful that this will give the organization stability and experience that will help it's growth during the next two years.

None of the Society members identifies himself to me as an officer of the organization. This omission is curious, particularly for an organization involved in political matters.

Politics is about titles and office. And here is a group that eschews any title but “member.” Interesting.

On the walk home, I speculate that The Fuller Society is actually modeled on one of the ancient Greek city-states that permitted no titles among its citizens.

I reject that idea and speculate on whether The Fuller Society is a front for a more insidious secret society. Now that is what this neighborhood needs. A collegiate secret society just down the street from our homes.

That is a story that would be fun to investigate.

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1 comment:

YesOn said...

I hope the people who attended this forum vote Yes on Issue 5! There's a broad group of leaders who recognize that we need to regulate the payday industry and stop them from preying on people who can't afford their deceptive terms. Yes on Issue 5!