As if we needed any more evidence as to why the Civic Commons wants its users to agree to be “civil” before engaging online, a Columbus Dispatch editorial declared last week, in regard to a social media incident involving the state Board of Education president, “This H-bomb is a dud: Invoking Hitler is unlikely to be a winning political strategy” and a highly regarded expert on online politicking likewise wrote of the same incident, “…dropping the H-bomb pretty much destroys the intellectual credibility of the dropper…”. That H-bomb, and many other words and utterances of name-calling, are the nuclear bomb equivalents of destroying any chance for meaningful, useful dialogue. And that is the opposite of what the Civic Commons seeks to promote.
Of course, linguistic laziness in unpacking and examining controversial topics isn’t committed solely by people in the poltiical arena. Last year, a food industry CEO apologized for comparing President Obama’s health care reform efforts to fascism because, as he admitted, the word “fascism” has “…so much baggage attached to it.” He went on to say that he thinks we need a new word to describe what he sees as the country, “…no longer hav[ing] free-enterprise capitalism in health care…[because t]he government is directing it.
Read the full post here.
By the way, did people realize that the originating incident came at the beginning of National No-Name Calling Week (my emphasis):
No Name-Calling Week is an annual week of educational activities aimed at ending name-calling of all kinds and providing schools with the tools and inspiration to launch an on-going dialogue about ways to eliminate bullying in their communities.
No Name-Calling Week was inspired by a young adult novel entitled “The Misfits” by popular author, James Howe. The book tells the story of four best friends trying to survive the seventh grade in the face of all too frequent taunts based on their weight, height, intelligence, and sexual orientation/gender expression. Motivated by the inequities they see around them, the “Gang of Five” (as they are known) creates a new political party during student council elections and run on a platform aimed at wiping out name-calling of all kinds. Though they lose the election, they win the support of the school’s principal for their cause and their idea for a “No Name-Calling Day” at school.
Motivated by this simple, yet powerful, idea, the No Name-Calling Week Coalition, created by GLSEN and Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing, and consisting of over 40 national partner organizations, organized an actual No Name-Calling Week in schools across the nation during the week of March 1-5, 2004.
What an interesting twist of fate is that?
I’ve sent this letter or a very near version of it to every member of the State Board of Education of Ohio, to Governor Kasich and to State Senator Lehner and State Rep. Stebelton who are Ex Officio members of the state board. I’ve had phone calls with both Mary Rose Oakar and with Ann Jacobs, both board members (Mary Rose is my state rep for the board and originally I only sent the letter to her). I’ve received a more or less pro forma email from Ms. Terhar stating that there’s not enough time to give notice for a special meeting so she says that she will speak on February 11. I wrote her back to assure her that she has a right to speak before that if she wanted to tell us she’s stepping aside as the board president and going for sensitivity training and social media bootcamp, rather than hide behind a rule. No meeting of the board is needed for her to announce a decision. Maybe for a vote on it, maybe, but certainly not if she wants to tell us all about it. In any case, my letter pretty much says it all. Also, if you are able, the next regular meeting is Monday, February 11 at 8:30am. It is a public meeting – please try to attend. They’re at the School for the Deaf in Columbus, 500 Morse Road.
Dear Board Member Oakar,
My name is Jill Miller Zimon and I’m a resident of Pepper Pike and therefore in your School Board district. My three children have attended the Orange schools, and two are still there (oldest is now in college). I’ve been dedicated to public education my entire life and find wholly unsatisfactory Ms. Terhar’s inability to comprehend that her actions this week have been inappropriate, offensive, inaccurate and unworthy of someone whom you and your colleagues have placed in the position as the nominal and actual leader of our state’s top public body related to the education of millions of Ohio children.
I realize that unless you were absent, you must have voted to affirm Ms. Terhar’s place as president of the Board (my understanding is she was re-elected to being president unanimously), but clearly the Board must possess better alternatives among the remaining 17 of you (I note that there is one at-large vacancy at this time). For if there is not a better option at this time than Ms. Terhar, we should all be questioning the fate of our state’s education system. I am asking you to do everything within your power to remove Ms. Terhar as president of the Board and install a member who can appreciate the wholly inappropriate actions and reactions of Ms. Terhar.
In addition, I would urge that the following steps also be taken:
1. Social media policy for the Board members be reviewed, modified and adopted as necessary.
2. Social media training for the Board members be designed, implemented and required for all Board members.
3. Sensitivity training be procured and implemented with all the Board members. Facing History and Ourselves is an outstanding, award-winning program that could be contacted, but groups like the Anti-Defamation League as well as the NAACP and I’m certain many others (we have the Diversity Center here in Cleveland) could also handle such an assignment. Read more
Filed Under Politics | Comments Off
I’ve been thinking on this situation for three days now and I’ve had many, many thoughts. (Basic recap: Ohio’s State Board of Ed prez, Debe Terhar, shared on her Facebook page a photo of Hitler that is accompanied by this quote, “Never forget what this tyrant said: ‘To conquer a nation, first disarm its citizens.’ — Adolf Hitler.” This quote has been debunked. Since its posting a few days ago, she’s taken down her Facebook page but is refusing to step down from the board or from the position of president of the board.)
Here are a few thoughts:
1. I work on a daily basis to get public officials to engage with, you know, the public. I don’t want less engagement between those two sets of stakeholders. I’m also an elected official, so I live this as well.
2. Engagement, like democracy, can be dangerous for public officials who do not comprehend that online engagement in particular wants to be public and, like heat seeking the highest points, engagement seeks out public forums.
4. I’m in my ninth year of engaging online and I trust its self-correcting nature, for me and for others. It’s why I don’t demonize it. But it requires humility and acceptance as well as confidence to stand up for what you’ve placed online, however you placed it there (including your original words or *just* sharing a photo or quote from another source, which then is open to being scrutinized, for that’s part of what social networking is all about – scrutinizing the networks of people or organizations we view online in order to understand the otherwise one-dimensional representations of themselves that they’ve placed online with their name attached to or affiliated with it) or apologize for it and explain yourself. If you are not prepared to do any of that, then get training before you engage online. If you are not capable of or don’t agree in doing any of that, please do not enter public office. Public office in the 21st century demands people who accept the public part and the public part, in the 21st century, includes the online public.
Now, here’s a little free advice Read more
By Jill Miller Zimon at 12:29 pm January 24th, 2013 in Politics | Comments Off
From the inbox:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
John O’Brien: 216.698.2099 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Nicole Dailey Jones: 216.263.4602, 216.338.0863 or email@example.com
MERGER STUDY KICK-OFF, COMMUNITY PARTICIPATION DESIRED
Cuyahoga County – The Shared Services/Merger Study for Moreland Hills, Orange, Pepper Pike, and Woodmere, Ohio is being launched through a series of public meetings on Thursday, February 7, and Friday, February 8, 2013.
These meetings will provide the community with an opportunity to learn about the study process and to join the conversation around both merger and shared services for these communities. Each meeting will include an overview of the project, information about some of the key characteristics of the four communities, an interactive live survey and a roundtable discussion of challenges and opportunities. The meetings will be moderated by the project consultant, the Center for Governmental Research of Rochester, New York.
Each of the meetings will follow the same format so attendance is only necessary at one of the four options listed below:
Public Meeting Information
Thursday, February 7th
- 1:30 pm – Woodmere Village Hall at 27899 Chagrin Boulevard
- 4:00 pm – Orange Village Hall at 4600 Lander Road
- 7:00 pm – Moreland Hills Village Hall at 4350 SOM. Center Road
Friday, February 8th
- 8:30 am – Pepper Pike City Hall at 28000 Shaker Boulevard
About the Center for Governmental Research:
CGR is a 98-year-old independent nonprofit strategic consulting and decision support organization with significant expertise conducting local government merger and shared service studies and developing implementation plans across New York and the Northeast. CGR is headquartered in Rochester, NY and was engaged by Cuyahoga County and the involved municipalities to serve as study consultant in December, 2012.
The latest NBC poll offers a nice recognition for today’s milestone reached by Roe:
According to the poll, 54 percent of adults say that abortion should be legal either always or most of the time, while a combined 44 percent said it should be illegal – either with or without exceptions.
That’s the first time since this poll question was first asked in 2003 that a majority maintained that abortion should be legal. Previously (with just one exception in 2008), majorities said abortion should be illegal.
In addition, a whopping 70 percent of Americans oppose the Roe v. Wade decision being overturned, including 57 percent who feel strongly about this.
There are many excellent pieces of writing reflecting on Roe to be found around the interwebz but here are a few I came across today:
Interactive: The Geography of Abortion Access (The Daily Beast)
Roe at 40: Judging a Mother’s Choice (NYT’s The MotherLode) but then be sure to read
Posts from young feminists (h/t to Sam Meier):
Pinterest has not category for political subdivisions or federal agencies, but that’s not stopping government entities from joining the newest social media darling, and a tool used by a very desirable segment of the electorate – women. From my post:
The Obama White House is no stranger to the tools of civic engagement. Its social media hub page, titled “Engage and Connect,” offers easy access to its Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Scribd, Flickr, Slideshare, LinkedIn, FourSquare and even GitHub accounts.
But the new kid on the block, Pinterest, is so new to the White House that it doesn’t yet have a space or icon there even though the White House started pinning a month ago. Reportedly, they started with this very visual tool because they see themselves as wanting to “make this the most open White House in history.” Let’s hope they remedy the absence of the “P” icon soon since, as you’ll see below, Pinterest appears to be 2013′s black for the public sector. There’s even hope that the Pinners That Be might be forced to include a “Politics” category, currently still absent from its pre-set list from which subscribers can choose.
Read the full post here.
Many political candidates don’t just have a fear of commitment. They have a fear of engagement. But with 2013 being a local government election year, voters should pull no punches in putting the question about committing to public engagement to the people who want their votes. Contrary to the immortal words of the ultimate Meatloaf song, we can’t just sleep on it. We want to know: what’s it gonna be, yes or no?
So often, we clamor to know how a candidate will vote on an issue he or she hasn’t yet faced. We provide hypothetical circumstances that we want them to imagine are real. Sure, plenty of politicians pick and choose issues about which they will shake their fist and blurt out a reliable yes or no (consider how few elected folks waffled on the Affordable Care Act; most knew what they wanted, the issue was whether they’d vote for what came before them). But mostly, we’ve come to accept as routine a refusal to comply with such a demand. It’s truly rare to see courage rear it’s head and and expose itself through the voice of a political wannabe as he or she, instead, silently calculates the local vote count that can be earned by resisting commitment.
Now, with the fear of engagement, there is hope. At least, I have hope.
Read about why I have hope here and add you thoughts in the accompanying conversation.
This topic is all the rage this week. Use the comments for discussion. Again, I go back to the esteemed Supreme Court Justice, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sandra Day O’Connor (comes at the 30 second mark) and their comments to Diane Sawyer in 2010. Btw, the whole clip is worthwhile to recall just how hard reaching parity has been and how nonpartisan this issue is:
Nine. I love that answer.
The video’s up for the most recent Feagler & Friends appearance:
I swish my hair too much, but I also never get seated in the last spot – see, Michael Heaton’s hair doesn’t have to swish at all – well, you know, Michael – the hair that’s there?
Diane Sawyer reports on the milestone met this year as 20 women come to serve in the U.S. Senate, the most ever:
But we can do better and we should. The U.S. House of Representatives is the most diverse ever, in part because the Democratic Caucus is, for the first time ever, is more than 50% women and minorities.
Why does this matter? Some people can’t help but ask that question. Read this article from National Journal about the insane difficulty reauthorization of VAWA (Violence Against Women Act) is experiencing and note in particular:
The 113th Congress, which gets sworn in today, will be the most diverse in our nation’s history. It will include 19 new people of color, the first Hindu representative and the first Buddhist senator, the first openly gay congressman of color, the first openly bisexual congresswoman, the first openly gay senator, and more female members than ever before. It still doesn’t come close to accurately representing the country it will govern. But it’s better than what we had before—and where the 112th Congress failed, the 113th very well may succeed.
The women in the clip above also address the question of why it matters. Honestly, though? I’m tempted to just say, “Because.”
Well, when it came to talking Browns. Sort of. You’ll see. Here’s the blurb:
Guest Analyst: Kevin T. Jacques, Boynton D. Murch Chair in Finance at Baldwin Wallace University—Congress and the President managed to avoid the ‘fiscal cliff’ but the tax bill for most working Americans is going up. A deal that raises marginal tax rates on the highest wage earners also allows a payroll tax break to expire, affecting wage earners at all income levels. Also going up are taxes on business and investors. Without a deal marginal tax rates would have gone up for most workers. Still looming are new debates over the federal debt ceiling and discretionary spending.
Roundtable: Michael Heaton, columnist, The Plain Dealer; Jill Miller Zimon, blogger, Writes Like She Talks; Ned Whelan, Whelan Communications.
Fiscal Cliff—the panel continues discussion about the fallout from the fiscal cliff resolution on New Year’s Day.
Browns Seek New Field Management—the new ownership team is shopping for a head coach and a general manager after the house-cleaning that followed the end of another losing season. Team president Joe Banner is busy interviewing head coach candidates, including University of Oregon’s successful coach Chip Kelly and Ken Whisenhunt, who once lead the Arizona Cardinals to the Super Bowl.
Armed Teachers? Hundreds of Ohio teachers signed up for firearms training in the wake of the latest deadly school shooting that took 26 lives in Newtown, CT. The gun owners’ advocacy group Buckeye Firearms Association offered free training for teachers and administrators, with the first class expected in the spring. The Association’s president says interest has exceeded expectations.
On the Way Out for Good—The Plain Dealer’s Minister of Culture, Michael Heaton, writes that many cultural icons are headed for the ash heap of history. Among utilitarian items on their way out are wristwatches, replaced by a multitude of tools that tell time; alarm clocks, made redundant by cell phones that have built-in alarm functions and the local post office, a business model that’s quickly fading in a digital world.