Barring a seemingly unlikely compromise between Ohio Gov. John Kasich's administration and those seeking to overturn the collective bargaining-limiting Senate Bill 5, voters will face a choice in November of whether to repeal the measure.

Barring a seemingly unlikely compromise between Ohio Gov. John Kasich's administration and those seeking to overturn the collective bargaining-limiting Senate Bill 5, voters will face a choice in November of whether to repeal the measure.

Ohioans also will be asked on election day if they want to amend the state constitution to prohibit passage of any local, state or federal law requiring the purchase of health insurance, one of the key components of 2010's federal health care reform law.

Between now and Nov. 8, voters can expect to be bombarded by pitches from either side of both ballot questions.

Local voters interested in hearing unbiased, academic points of view on Issues 2 and 3 will have opportunities next month, on Sept. 7 and 12, courtesy of the Council for Public Deliberation. The relatively quiet organization was formed in 1996-97 to "promote the concepts and practice of addressing public problems through public deliberation," as its website states.

David B. Patton, a professor emeritus at Ohio State University and a specialist in public education issues, is executive director of the Council for Public Deliberation.

"This is an effort that I originated, but I'm active with another group, called the Franklin County Consortium for Good Government, which puts on the regular candidate forums," Patton said last week.

The consortium has an established format of permitting attendees to pose questions to candidates or proponents of issues.

Sometimes, it has hired public relations specialists providing the answers on behalf of statewide issue supporters and opponents, according to Patton.

"In my opinion, the quality of the presentations and the quality of the following questions from the audience are way too focused on the fight between the sides and they do way too little to help the audience understand what the issue is about," Patton said.

That's where, he feels, the upcoming forums can fill a void.

Stephen B. Hills, associate professor emeritus of management and human resources at OSU and author of the 1995 book "Employment Relations and the Social Sciences," will discuss "Public-Sector Collective Bargaining in Ohio" on Wednesday, Sept. 7.

The topic on Monday, Sept. 12, will be "The Federal Health Care Insurance Mandate." Francis X. Beytagh, dean emeritus and professor emeritus at OSU's Moritz College of Law, will be the speaker. His teaching areas, according to the university's website, include constitutional law, administrative law, federal courts, civil and political rights and constitutional litigation, among others.

Both free public forums will get under way at 7 p.m. in the Columbus Metropolitan Library's Whetstone Branch, 3909 N. High St.

"Both sessions will last one hour and feature an academic presentation followed by audience questions and a moderated discussion," according to library spokeswoman Kim Snell.

"Obviously, they're geared to the two most contentious ballot issues that will be before the voters this fall," said Patton, who will serve as the moderator both evenings.

But rather than host a debate with people on either side of the issues shouting accusations at one another, Patton said that he wanted to enable voters to understand "the more basic issue at hand."

"I'm an optimist," Patton added. "I always think we can educate people toward good citizenship."

He pointed out that the presenters, like him, enjoy emeritus status at Ohio State.

"I know the old guys, but I don't think you get disqualified just because you're old," Patton joked.

The battle over the proposed repeal of S.B. 5, the Council for Public Deliberation executive director expects, will be "highly contentious and sound-bite driven," which is why Hills is being asked to more fully explain to people just what's at the heart of the issue.

"I've told him to just try to explain the theory and practice of collective bargaining in the public sector, especially in Ohio," Patton said.

The proposed amendment to Ohio's constitution blocking a major provision of what is sometimes derisively labeled "Obamacare," is more technically complex, which why is Patton settled on Beytagh to address Issue 3.

"He is an acknowledged expert on constitutional law and in particular the so-called commerce clause, which is at the heart of this," Patton said. "I'm going to expect him to talk about something very academically, legally complex in a way that people can understand."

More information about the Council for Public Deliberation is available at http://cdpohio.org.

kparks@thisweeknews.com

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