Country Crossroads by Matt Reese
The moon was out just after mid-day in Licking County last month after Lori Lawrence, an OCJ marketing specialist, confronted some signature gatherers at a Licking County Kroger.
Lori was leaving the store after getting some groceries when she spotted the two male 20-something paid signature gatherers roaming the parking lot. They were trying to drum up support for the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) ballot measure this fall.
The group needs 402,275 valid signatures by June 29, which means they will likely need over 500,000 actual signatures, to have enough legitimate names on the list to get their measure on the ballot in Ohio. The group was off to a surprisingly slow start earlier this spring with signature numbers that were far below what HSUS was hoping for.
To remedy the problem, HSUS sued the state of Ohio over a statute that was written to make sure only Ohioans could gather signatures to change state laws. HSUS won the legal battle and then let loose with paid signature gatherers around Ohio to make a major push for the November ballot.
This meant that for much of June, these signature gatherers could be found around Ohio working to strategically gather signatures in the counties that they most needed them. In many cases, they ran into folks like Lori who were not so supportive of their cause. As Lori left the store with her two children, she was approached by the signature gatherers who asked, “If you support the humane treatment of animals in Ohio, could you please sign this petition?”
She had a few words for them: “This is my county and my home and what you are doing will affect my farm, so get out of here.”
After putting her two very embarrassed children in the car and telling them “do not get out no matter what happens,” Lori went and confronted the signature gatherers, again asking them to leave. The two young men again refused to leave the private property (owned by Kroger), so Lori went and talked with the manager of the store. She found out that this was the second time in two days that the signature gatherers had been asked to leave so the manager advised that Lori call the police, which she did.
Lori then called her husband who said, if needed, he would come bail her out. After that she went to again confront the two young men. For every person they would approach, Lori would explain that these people were not from Ohio and were trying to change our constitution in a manner that would cripple Ohio’s agricultural industry.
The two young men did not seem to like this at all. They offered Lori some choice phrases regarding her lips and where she should place them. Then, one of the young professionals proceeded to drop his pants and bend over to illustrate and offer clarity to his previous statement.
Shortly afterward, the police arrived and escorted the fine young men from the premises. Lori returned victorious to her car to find her not-any-less-embarrassed children waiting for her and seemingly ready to head home.
We do not yet know if HSUS actually got the necessary numbers for the ballot, though many assume that they will courtesy of the assistance of such fine young people trying to make a difference. Similar stories (minus the mooning) were popping up all over Ohio in town squares, DMVs, public libraries and other places. The signature gatherers are permitted to be present on any public property and it sounds as if they had a fair amount of success.
Only time will tell the end result this November, but either way, it seems that we have all lost a little something if tactics such as these are permitted to make a mockery of our laws and state constitution. If you don’t believe me, just find an HSUS signature gatherer and ask them where — top or bottom — they think Ohio’s agricultural voters rate. Maybe they will show you.