May 15, 2010

May 15, 2010 How to Inspire Voters?

Election Day -- make a day of it!  Start with a community breakfast, then an all day flea market and bake sale, and end with a community supper starting at 6 and going through the time the polls close. Miller Center would be a good place for the supper, in the community room. TV coverage of election returns on the big screen. Have to work this out with election officials so the community room is available.

How to Inspire Voters? Transparency is key, residents need to know what's going on and where candidates stand on the issues. We want FACTS, not spin and spin. We want public forums where residents ask clear questions. NPA submitted questions before the last forums, then Ch17 decided what questions to ask and didn't press for specific answers. We want to ask our own questions, and follow-up.

Candidate forums and community meetings: People don't like to feel manipulated. We know that control groups manipulate participants. For example, they may use a format where you listen to them talk, then you submit any questions you have, they choose what questions to ask, and may even rephrase them. If you disagree with them, you are discredited, or they won't call on you. If you head in a direction different than they want to go, they are the boss. Hands of people who agree with them go up around you, and those people are called on. They break people up into small groups and have their controllers and minions leading each group, deciding who to call on, and what to write down. To filter ideas from outsiders, or ideas they didn't expect and don't want, they use dots to prioritize which guarantees that the unusual idea drops off the list. So people who think different and may have good ideas are discouraged from participating. You end up with a group of like-mindeds.

Forget trying to get the schools to teach civics! Let's offer a basic community civics course at the Miller Center, with open enrollment. We can use a home-schooling civics book that is totally non-partisan, and have a multi-party teaching team. Hopefully new Americans would join us, and it would be a way to welcome newcomers to the neighborhood as well as to America. We talked about the experience of our ancestors coming to America, and imagine that they have a lot in common with all people migrating to this country seeking freedom and safety. We'd ask the NPA to sponsor the civics group weekly, and once a month meet before an assembly and prepare a dinner together.

How it must be if people are going to trust/respect elections:
1. Secure elections, everything done honestly without any appearance of wrong-doing.
2. Clear stands on issues from candidates.
3. A clear understanding of our government, historic truth, and the voting process.
4. Understanding what happens if government is corrupt so we know why we have to be scrupulous.
5. Today many people are asking: Where is the trust? Where did the money come from? Where did the money go? Is anybody accountable?

Work to do:

  • *Current checklists do not agree. Will look into this further.
  • *Compare VT Election Law to differences in Burlington election law.

May 11, 2010


Vermont ranks 25th among states on sunshine laws. There are 231 exceptions to our Right to Know law. Executive Sessions, once rare, now appear to be common place. Vermont needs a Secretary of State who will motivate the legislature to restore transparency to government. 

Advocate urges stronger sunshine laws in Vt.: Times Argus Online

May 29, 2010 ...By   By JOHN CURRAN Associated Press
Vermont, in particular, is lax on providing the tools for such reporting, Vermont Press Association Executive Director Michael Donoghue told the group.

The state's right-to-know law has 231 exemptions in it, and no enforcer, official or ombudsman to go to when public officials violate it, he said. Some states impose fines or jail time on public officials who violate open records laws.

"It's the only law in Vermont that I know of that has nobody enforcing what the Legislature has passed," said Donoghue.

In Burlington we are increasingly concerned about transparency in government on the local level. We rightly want to know how our tax dollars are being spent, what permits are being issued, and what decisions are being made on our behalf. Burlington doesn't have town meetings where we participate actively in the democratic process, so the best way to keep tabs on city government is by attending public meetings, watching CCTV, asking lots of questions, and scrutinizing public records.

Like the Zoning Activity Report:

May 9, 2010

City-wide, NPAs Are Enthusiastic About Campaign to Inspire Voters in November

At the Apr.27 meeting of City-Wide NPA steering committees representing all 7 wards in the city, everyone was enthusiastic about the idea of creating election day events that will create a festive atmosphere and motivate people to vote. The goal would be to increase turnout at the polls celebrating free democratic elections in a city known for it's political activism. Many ideas were shared, including parades, banners, community dinners, music at the polls, book and toy swaps, sales in local stores with discounts for families who show an "I Voted" sticker, free bus service for everyone, ice cream and hot chocolate. We'll be using the internet to search the world for great ideas. Secretary of State Candidates will be invited to present their ideas at a North End NPA on September 21 at the Miller Center. Election Day will be a friendly competition to see which voting districts (wards) can increase their voter stats. Each ward's turnout will be measured against their own personal best. The winner will be the City -- and that's all of us!  How's that for Win/Win all around!