cbareport_Oct12 - page 10

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October 2012 CBA REPORT
feature article
E
“E
verybody complains about
incivility, but nobody does
anything about it.” So says
U.S. District Judge Sandra Beckwith, but
if it was true before, it isn’t any longer.
She and three CBA members, former
Mayor and U.S. Representative David
Mann, former CBA President Bea Larsen,
and former Sixth Circuit Mediator Bob
Rack have heeded the call of an ABA
Resolution that declared the state of
public discourse a threat to our democ-
racy and called on lawyers to provide
leadership to address the problem. And
address it they have, giving birth to
Beyond Civility: Communication for
Effective Governance, with the accent on
“Beyond.”
In the fall of last year the project’s
steering committee was formed of nota-
bles from the worlds of media, academia,
law, and politics (including the heads of
the Republican, Democratic, and Charter
Parties and the founder of the local Tea
Party).
Then, with small grants from the
Seasongood Good Government and Cin-
cinnati Bar Foundations, we contracted
with a communications consultant and
began inviting local elected and civic
leaders to participate in workshops where
they practice non-polarizing ways of
communicating about sensitive topics.
About fifty people, including the pres-
ent and future CBA presidents, state and
federal judges, city council members and
state representatives, and a host of other
civic leaders participated in introduc-
tory workshops held in the president’s
boardroom at Xavier University. On
August 24, 25 of them also attended an
advanced communication seminar held
at the downtown library and most will be
attending a third level training after the
November elections.
The website, beyondcivility.org,
identifies the participants, activities, and
objectives in detail. “We aren’t trying to
stop negative campaigning,” said David
Mann. “As long as it works we assume
candidates will keep doing it.” They are,
however, proposing communication
options for leaders with responsibilities
for governing constituencies with diverse
interests and points of view. The man-
tra in the workshops is that we always
have choices as to how we communi-
cate. Trainer Deborah Pearce, of Pearce
Community Group, explains that how
people introduce a topic or respond to
a comment can determine whether that
conversation moves forward, toward
learning and understanding, or ends
abruptly, perhaps with acrimony.
Another entry level group will start
up after the first of the year.
By the time this article is published,
the Beyond Civility group will have
announced a new initiative they’re call-
ing Side by Side. Modeled loosely on a
program sponsored jointly by the BLAC
and the CBA in the 80s, this program
will feature pairs of prominent political
leaders—one democrat and one repub-
lican, who will take turns responding to
By Robert R. Rack
Beyond
Civility
Conveners
Sandra Beckwith,
senior
United States district judge,
Southern District of Ohio,
Western Division at Cincinnati
David Mann,
attorney-at-law,
Mann & Mann; former mayor
of Cincinnati; U.S. representative,
1st District of Ohio
Planners
Bea Larsen,
senior mediator,
Center for the Resolution of
Disputes
Robert Rack,
retired chief
circuit mediator, United States
Court of Appeals for the 6th
Circuit.
Members
Gene Beaupre,
assistant
director, Philosophy, Politics
and the Public Honors, Xavier
University
Lou Blessing,
speaker pro tem,
Ohio House
Tim Burke,
chair, Hamilton
County Democratic Party and
president of the Democratic
County Chairs of Ohio
Bill Fee,
retired vice president
and general manager,WCPO-TV
Pat Fischer,
president, Ohio
State Bar Association; judge,
Ohio 1st District Court of
Appeals
Kevin Flynn,
president, Charter
Party of Greater Cincinnati
Dan Hurley,
producer and host,
Local 12 Newsmakers, reporter
for the station for over 30 years.
Jerry Newfarmer, f
ormer
Cincinnati city manager,
president and chief executive,
Management Partners
Yvette Simpson,
member,
Cincinnati City Council; counsel,
Ulmer & Berne LLP
Dale Stalf,
chair, litigation
practice group atWood &
Lamping LLP
Alex Triantafilou,
chairman,
Hamilton County Republican
Party
George H.Vincent,
managing
partner, Dinsmore & Shohl LLP
MikeWilson,
founder,
Cincinnati Tea Party, and
Republican candidate for state
representative
CBA Representative
Maria Palermo,
assistant
counsel, Cincinnati Bar
Association
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