By Joshua Benton
Blade Staff Writer
The Kirby family – wife Kathy and husband Albert – came away from last night’s Town Hall Forum more certain than ever how they’ll vote next week.
Trouble is, he’s voting yes; she’s voting no.
With eight panelists throwing out contradictory facts and figures – along with a healthy dose of their personal opinions – it’s not difficult to see how the Kirbys could draw different conclusions.
“We’ll sit down and hear each other’s arguments, but I’m going to vote my conscience,” Mr. Kirby said. “We’ll cancel each other out.”
Mrs. Kirby is working toward her master’s degree in education at Bowling Green State University, and she has a term paper on Oh io’s school-funding system due tonight.
After studying the issues for months, she believes Issue 2 would place an inordinate hardship on Ohio’s poor and might not solve the problem of fair distribution of education funding statewide.
“I still have a lot of questions,” she said. “I’m not sure the final result would be a better education for our students.”
But Mr. Kirby, who works in behavioral modification for Toledo Public Schools’ students at Linques Neighborhood Center, was convinced by state Rep. Lynn Olman (R., Maumee) that the issue’s many questions are outweighed by the extra funding for schools. He had been undecided.
“I feel that it would put more money into education,” he said. “I trust Representative Olman on that.”
Does that mean he doesn’t trust his wife?
“Well, we’re going to have our disagreements,” he admitted.
Others who listened in on the dialogue last night said they have plenty of additional information to think about, but most said they thought the anti-issue forces did a better job of making their case.
Some reacted strongly when Ron Marec, president of the Ohio Federation of Teachers, laid out a list of organizations that were for or against the issue. He said supporters were mostly “Columbus-based politicians” and state bureaucrats being extorted for their support, while community groups were in opposition.
“It did seem that more of your `people-type people’ were opposed,” said Toledo Councilwoman Edna Brown, who said she was “waffling” on her vote before last night. Now, after hearing Mr. Marec’s fiery rhetoric, she said she’ll vote no.
Several singled out state Sen. Linda Furney (D., Toledo), who has advocated an alternative plan that would widen the base of taxable goods in Ohio, while raising the sales tax by only a half a cent.
Mr. Kirby said he was swayed a bit by Ms. Furney’s argument that raising sales taxes and lowering property taxes would unfairly affect renters, who would get no property-tax relief and still get a sales tax increase, even though many renters are in a worse po sition than homeowners to pay more.
Mr. Kirby was extremely upset by that.
“I was very impressed with the senator,” said Amy Fenster, a Bryan high school social studies teacher who asked a question at the forum and opposed Issue 2.