Saturday, November 28, 2015

Reducing sexual assault at Illinois colleges & universities

I would like Illinois to lead on reducing sexual assaults of Illinois college & university students.

I see some parallels to the issue of reducing fraudulent enlistments in military recruiting. These are difficult things to measure. But measurement is essential to determining if policies--like education--are effective at reducing the crimes.

I request an Illinois legislator sponsor a bill directing the Illinois Attorney General to design a system for measuring sexual assault of students at Illinois colleges & universities above a minimum size. It may be appropriate to have one minimum size for schools without dorms & campus housing and another for residential campuses.

Monday, November 23, 2015

US DOJ should investigate the cover-up of the murder of Laquan McDonald

Now that City of Chicago has been forced to release the video of Laquan McDonald's killing, the Cook County States Attorney has decided to charge the police officer who killed McDonald (Jason Van Dyke) with murder.

  • McDonald was killed on October 20, 2014
  • Judge Franklin Valderrama orders video released November 19, 2015
  • Van Dyke charged with murder November 23, 2015 

This timeline plus two other facts show intent to protect Van Dykeand deny McDonald justice.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Illinois Constitution should have soft term limits

Last night newly appointed Sen. Laura Murphy spoke to Northside DFA making the case for NDFA to endorse her and provide volunteers for her general election campaign in 2016.

Along the way Murphy spoke in favor of term limits for legislative leaders. If I'm not mistaken this idea came out of the Illinois Reform Commission 100-Day Report (April 28, 2009).

I don't understand how this approach can't be undermined by passing the title of legislative leader but the more powerful senator or representative remaining as the power behind the throne by controlling the key political committees.

But this blog entry isn't to discuss the shortcomings of that proposal, but to suggest something more promising, what I call "soft term limits".

In addition to standing for re-election against the candidates qualified for the general election ballot, a candidate would stand for election on whether this will be the elected official's last term. If over half the voters say make it her/his last term then s/he doesn't stand for re-election again.

Monday, October 5, 2015

State legislatures could pressure Congress to allow gun violence research

State legislatures can (and should!) take the lead on restoring public money being used to research gun violence.

Pro-firearms industry members of Congress have used both the law and intimidation to limit & restrict federal money from being used for research into gun violence (if the results of the research could be used to justify gun control).

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

some ideas to make Chicago more progressive

Email from United Working Families yesterday:
Just a reminder that tomorrow is the North West Regional Meeting for United Working Families at 6:00pm at 1184 N. Milwaukee Ave, Chicago, IL.

Please join the United Working Families and our partners and allies, including GIA Humboldt Park and One Two Punch, at the upcoming regional North West regional meeting tomorrow!

At the North West meeting we will be sharing exciting updates about our collective work both in the region and across the city. We will also help build UWF's platform to reflect our values and those of our neighbors across the city and state.This will be the working families' platform!

Come and help build an organization to hold our representatives accountable to the issues that matter to you and your neighbors.
I'm out of town, so I won't be able to participate. But I written some ideas for what should be part of the progressive agenda.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

a grassroots driven think tank based on NDFA model...

For a long time, I have been dissatisfied by US democracy.

Why can't regular citizens play a bigger role in writing legislation (and laws) without going through lobbyists & advocacy organizations?

I'm also a huge fan of the NDFA model of having the decision-making process of organization be driven by people who attend at least three meetings per year and do three volunteer activities.

What if there was a citizen think-tank that worked like NDFA?

There would be an agreement between members of the organization and members of the legislative body that would exchange:
  • Members of the organization would work on the re-election campaigns of the incumbents
  • The legislators would sponsor bills/ordinances that members of the group thought were good ideas

A member of the think tank has an idea on Issue X than s/he considers good public policy. S/he writes it and makes a presentation to the members of the think tank. If the idea is among the most popular, the think tank approves it and sends it to the legislators.

One of the legislators in the body (who was part of the agreement) would take lead. The other legislators who were part of the agreement would be expected to support the proposals emerging from the process. If they don't the think tank can withhold support at election time.

One reason this might be appealing to legislators is that they generally don't have enough staff to write bills. They often depend on the committee staff to write legislation. This means that it's hard to initiate legislation that doesn't have support of committee/part leadership.


Northside DFA: organizational responsibilities vs. winning elections

Yesterday at the annual Voting Member Retreat, there seemed to be some people who wanted to increase Northside DFA's winning percentage. The most grandiose version of this was suggesting if NDFA had done more then maybe Pat Quinn would have defeated Bruce Rauner or Chuy Garcia might have beaten Rahm Emanuel.

Northside DFA is responsible for recruiting new members* and getting members to volunteer on campaigns.

Candidates & campaign staff are responsible for winning. Deb Shore got her first endorsement from NDFA, but there were a whole bunch of things that contributed to her being elected that had nothing to do with NDFA. That sentence works just as well if you replace Deb Shore with John Arena or Will Guzzardi.

To use a metaphor from a movie (28 Days), Viggo Mortensen plays an alcoholic baseball pitcher in rehab with Sandra Bullock. He explains that pitching is about the mechanics of throwing a ball. Once the ball has left the pitcher's hand it's going where it's going. The pitcher can adjust things he controls. But there's a discipline to not being overly or inappropriately emotionally invested in results of things that have already happened or that can't be controlled.

NDFA has influence on how many people attend meetings and how many members volunteer. NDFA doesn't have enough control over whether individual campaigns win to make that a sensible metric for NDFA to evaluate the organization's performance.

When I was on a national PAC, Campaign for UN Reform PAC, I observed, it's easy to pick winners. How to pick winners?
  • endorse incumbents that are safe
  • endorse candidates with large warchests
  • wait until late in the cycle to make endorsements, eg Ameya Pawar
  • empower pragmatic people to veto endorsements of more ideological people
But, if your group or PAC seeks to move the discourse on issues, all these things are counterproductive.

I'll finish this blog entry with an idea from Rep. Jaime Andrade. Andrade said he got the following advice from a seasoned politician.
If you can't take their money and drink with them one day and then vote against them the next day, you shouldn't be in this business.
Here's the Carl Nyberg version:
If you can't deal emotionally with your endorsed candidate losing, stay away from electoral politics.