Elementary politicsWritten by Michael Miller | Editor in Chief Emeritus | firstname.lastname@example.org
Feb. 27 began with a visit to a group of elementary students and ended with a forum for Lucas County Recorder candidates, with more common ground than such disparate events might be expected to engender.
St. Joseph School in Sylvania celebrates Right to Read Week with a series of student events, one of which features members of the local media visiting classrooms and reading books. I greatly enjoy these annual visits and the chance to talk to curious elementary students about books, language and media.
Librarian Mary Ann Wisniewski of the St. Joseph Right to Read committee invited me to participate again this year. She displayed great pride in the school as she led me to a table loaded with books to choose from for the elementary classes. Not seeing anything by Anaïs Nin or Stieg Larsson, I chose “The Legend of Ohio” by Dandi Daley Mackall and Chris Van Dusen’s “King Hugo’s Huge Ego.”
The first stop was Mrs. Becky Skelton’s fourth-grade class. The students listened closely to “The Legend of Ohio’s” story of Dikewamis, a young American Indian girl whose tribe migrated from the barren glaciers of the north seeking the fertile land they would name “Ohio,” for its beautiful river. The story focused on the importance of water and the conflict people felt as they tried to understand the decisions made by their leaders.
After the reading, the class asked several questions about media, writing and the role of an editor. We’re way past any cultural relevance for Lou Grant, so I always assume the fictional touchstone editor for younger people is J. Jonah Jameson from “Spider-Man.” There are significant differences between Jameson and I: he is a grouchy, rumpled, obsessed, finger-pointing, self-righteous, fashion-clueless cigar-chomper; I don’t smoke.
I read the same book to Mrs. Mary Jorgensen’s fourth-grade class, then walked to Mrs. MyLien Floyd’s third-grade class to read “King Hugo.” That book tells the tale of an arrogant, egocentric king who treats his kingdom badly. Hugo learns the error of his ways through the tough love (and magic spells) of a good woman. I greatly enjoyed reading the book, although I could not personally relate to it in any way.
The students in all three classes asked insightful questions about newspaper story choice, delivery and technology. They do not yet have a clear understanding of how media works, but they accept and trust it, like they still accept any authority figure’s declarations.
They’ll learn better.
The day that began with innocent children ended at the other end of the human spectrum, at a forum for the men running for Lucas County Recorder. Sponsored by The Children of Liberty and organized by that group’s John McAvoy, the forum attracted 35 people to the West Toledo Branch Library. There are three Democrats and one Republican in the March 6 primary. Two of the three Dems, Kevin Eff (pronounced “EEf”) and James Seaman, were present; Phil Copeland declined the invitation, to his abasement. Republican George Sarantou, who is uncontested and didn’t really need to attend, did so anyway, to his credit.
Outgoing Lucas County Recorder Jeanine Perry set the stage for the fierce competition with a brief presentation on what the recorder’s office does (spoiler alert: The recorder’s office is responsible for indexing and maintaining land records like deeds, liens and mortgages in addition to military records).
It was my job to introduce each candidate to the podium. I began a flawless presentation by mispronouncing Eff’s name as “Ef,” like the letter. Eff is a young attorney whose presentation focused on the recorder’s office and some of his ideas for improving efficiency. One of his ideas, potentially adding staff to the office, was not popular with the other candidates. Nor was Eff’s describing the other candidates as “career politicians” well received. Eff was also tripped up by an audience question about the employment structure of the recorder’s office and the ability to hire and fire staff. Eff is clearly a smart and ambitious man, and if this race doesn’t work out, he will hopefully continue to seek public service.
Sarantou and Seaman made similar presentations, more about their experience than about any clear plans for the recorder’s office. Both said the office needed to make do with its current staff and rejected Eff’s idea to expand the number of employees.
The three men took questions from the audience. Straying from the realm of recorder, some questions focused on the importance of water and the conflict people felt as they tried to understand the decisions made by their leaders. King Hugo rasied his head once or thrice, but I can not say with any certainty that he learned the error of his ways.
After the event, I spoke with a number of audience members, discussing media, writing and the role of an editor. They asked insightful questions about newspaper story choice, delivery and technology.
These are politically active people, and they have a clear understanding of how media works. They do not accept or trust it, any more than they accept any authority figure’s declarations.
They know better.
Michael S. Miller is editor in chief of Toledo Free Press and Toledo Free Press Star. Email him at email@example.com.
Tags: Anaïs Nin, Children of Liberty, Chris Van Dusen, Dandi Daley Mackall, George Sarantou, J. Jonah Jameson, James Seaman, Kevin Eff, Lighting The Fuse, Michael S. Miller, Spider-Man, St. Joseph School, Stieg Larsson