You won’t find this at KELOLAND or in the Argus Leader. This is the interview you’ve been waiting for. I had the opportunity yesterday to sit down and spend some time with Lisa Furlong, chair of South Dakotan’s for Fair Lending.
And as opposed to the type of person her opponents are making her out to be, guess what? She’s sweet, unassuming, and as nice as she could be. In other words, she’s your mom.
FIVE QUESTIONS WITH SOUTH DAKOTANS FOR FAIR LENDING CHAIR LISA FURLONG
I understand that this is the first time you’ve ever personally gotten involved in an effort like this. What made you decide to do this and is it what you expected it to be?
Well, this type of involvement is pretty new to me. I’m no politician or professional at this sort of thing. I just want to do what’s right for South Dakota.
I am a single mother of two teenagers, I work hard to provide for them. We attend church every week. I believe that everyone has a right to be treated fairly. People should have some sort of an expectation that there will be safeguards in place to protect them from unfair lending practices. At the same time though, there are those of us that might need somewhere to turn…you know…to cover things when times get tough – a kid’s broken arm or a car repair, for example. I don’t see why there can’t be some sort of compromise here. As a single mom I understand financial difficulties. I would hate to have families in a pinch have less options to help find a way to climb their way out.
What would your proposed measure do and how is it different from other payday lending measures being proposed?
Our measure strikes the right balance in protecting people from predatory lending and preserving free market principles to ensure their access to credit. In fact, many would say our measure goes even further than that of the proposed 36% cap. This is a constitutional amendment, so it will be harder for politicians to change down the road. It is also an 18% cap, which is half of what the other proposal is asking for. I think it is very important to point out that the 36% cap proposal is a change in state statutes, which the legislature can overturn. However, our measure places greater protections for borrowers in South Dakota by putting an 18% cap on interest rates right in the constitution – making it much more difficult for special interests and politicians to undermine or weaken it. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for the 36% cap.
Is this a “phony” or “fake” petition as has been suggested by those pushing competing measures, as well as some in the press?
Frankly, I think that is offensive. Our measure is thoughtful, reasoned, and just as real, if not more so, than any others out there. I’m not an Obama operative or a politician like the ringleaders of the other effort. I’m just a working mom. We have as much right under our state constitution to put our ballot measure before the people of South Dakota as anyone else. For anyone to say otherwise is somewhat arrogant and just plain wrong. I have not questioned the motives of others circulating competing measures. It is the South Dakota way to stand up for yourself and I think that’s what I am doing here.
There have been news stories recently about a man, “Deacon Pete,” or also known as “Floyd Pickett.” Leaders of a similar measure to yours have made claims that this man has been sent in from out of state to disrupt the business of those seeking to cap payday loans. What are your thoughts on this situation and has Mr. Pickett attempted to interfere with the efforts of your group at all?
You know, I have seen news reports on all that…and if what they are saying is true I…I think it is very unfortunate. I think it is very important that South Dakotans make the decisions here, not folks from out of state. I don’t know much more than what’s been on tv, but I’ve watched the same circus that everyone else has. And I do know that our supporters have been heckled and made to feel intimidated when they were trying to collect signatures at the fair, but I have no idea if that was by the same people as this guy…Pickett or Pete or whatever…or even supporters of other committees. I really don’t think it is clear who is behind it all or what the point of it is, but the whole thing seems like a big distraction. A big…unfortunate…distraction.
I know that you have put out quite a few statements as issues have come up, I know this because I am on the press list and receive your statements as I assume the rest of the media in the state do, but it seems that you don’t get the same level of coverage or deference as the competing ballot committee does. Do you agree with this assessment and, if so, why do you think this is?
Look, I get it. The mainstream media wants to sensationalize this story because a good fight sells. It’s certainly a bit frustrating to see so many of the news organizations take the side of one loud voice and report it as fact, often times without even mentioning that there’s another side or a different view. I think we are all used to the liberal media bias that exists these days. I guess it’s just part of what comes with this sort of thing nowadays and is what it is.
I certainly appreciate you for giving us a chance to talk about this effort though, Pat!
And Thank you for the interview Lisa. And for those of you who would like to take a look at the measure that started circulation today – you can read below – PP: