Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Lack of disclosure takes away from real issues

As most of you who are regular readers know, I've come down pretty hard on Learn and Earn for the name and the manner in which they are trying to collect enough signatures for a constitutional amendment that will allow slot machine gambling. For me this is a matter of full and clear disclosure rather than taking an anti-gambling stance. It clouds everything, and when I heard my first Learn and Earn radio ad yesterday, I was even more disturbed than I felt viewing the future television ad. How can we have an intelligent and informed debate on the merits when it's not being promoted honestly?

Then today, I read this article in the Cleveland Plain Dealer about one of the organizations involved in collecting signatures for the proposed constitutional amendment to raise the Ohio Minimum Wage. The accusation being made is that ACORN (Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now) did not fully support paying it's own workers minimum wage. This Washington Times piece goes even farther and repeats the minimum wage issue but also brings up that a past attempt for ACORN offices to unionize was fought.

Some of these claims have been disputed, yet it appears there is some credibility to some of the accusations leveled against ACORN. Yet that's not my issue with this. My issue is here again we face a situation where the main focus of a proposed constitutional amendment will not be on the merits of the actual amendment but on side issues.

If there was full disclosure should they have selected ACORN to be a part of this? If the focus is going to be on this actual amendment why create the opportunity to have a side issue? It's the same as the Learn and Earn situation, both groups create discussion that will probably color public opinion in a negative fashion because of the manner selected to promote this.

We have already come to expect that politicans will not always be honest with us when they are campaigning, some will make promises they know at the time they are stating because it's what we as voters want to hear. Yet, if that happens we do have an easier recourse - we just select someone different. A constitutional amendment is a bit harder to change. Granted it's possible but, in my way of thinking even more care should be taken and an even higher level of honesty and full disclosure expected. The main focus should be on the actual merits of an amendment, that serves us all whether we end up being for one or against one.

(This post is for the Carnival of Ohio Politics, brought to you by Paul Miller of Northwest Ohio Net, stop by and visit him tomorrow morning to see what some of Ohio's best bloggers are writing about)


Me4Prez said...

I hope you can get more people to think critically like you do. Unfortunately we have a society of people distracted by bunnies when you talk about facts in an honest manner. What people want to hear is that it is good or bad. The best side at promoting themselves usually wins. Regardless of the issues merits

Lisa Renee said...

OMG! You had to mention bunnies didn't you?


Seriously though, I agree with you that too often it is who ever has the best marketing campaign rather than what the facts are. Part of that is sometimes it's not easy to get the facts. Especially when it comes to government and special interest groups. They would prefer you not have all of the information and not many people have the time or the energy to jump thru the hoops it takes to find information. It used to be what the media really focused on but now, even with the media you can't really be sure you are being given all of the information. Until enough people get fed up it's probably not going to change, so all we can do is keep getting out as much information as we can. That way we slowly increase the circle of knowledge.


Kate said...

Good post Lisa. A little transparency will go a long way.

It's ironic that some of the signature campaigns are held to a very high standard and yet, Learn and Earn can be completely deceitful and not be called on it.

Makes you wonder how that is happening...

Lisa Renee said...

Kate, I think what will happen is if Learn and Earn gets enough signatures to get on the ballot the opposition will start to advertise as well. There are several groups that have come out against this. History also shows that twice before when it was more openly described as gambling voters did not approve it. I'd much rather cut to the chase and have it be open and honest now rather than see the situation as present where you have people that signed this petition that didn't realize it had anything to do with gambling.

I have no problem with Learn and Earn (Even though I still disagree with the name choice) if they could raise the necessary signatures needed with full disclosure but it doesn't appear given the radio ad I heard yesterday or the other information out there that is going to happen at this point.

Lisa Renee said...

Interestingly enough - Learn and Earn is using the name of a program developed to help teens who have disabilities.


Anonymous said...

The minimum wage campaign in Ohio wouldn't exist without ACORN members and staff organizing it and pushing it. As for the minimum wage thing in 1995 - it was a stupid thing for a lawyer hired by the organization to argue, and ACORN's stance clearly supports raising the minimum wage for everyone (including its own workers).

Our organization's leaders led the successful fight for a minimum wage increase in 2004 in Florida, and are now leading minimum wage increase fights in several states.

Full disclosure: I worked for ACORN for several years and still work for a related organization.