Tuesday, October 15, 2013

BGC video

City Government and Public Schools interaction

Funny to hear City Councilman Bruce Kraus ramble about PARKING as we were talking about kids and schools. He did so to make the weak point that City Council works hard (meanwhile most were absent) and tackles big issues ($200M parking in one time sell off) -- yet schools are about a zillion times more important and even operate with a larger budget than the city's.

Grant Street (City Hall) has a role to play. But golly, we don't have another generation or day to squander while we listen to how the "elders" walked to school in snow, uphill, blah-blah-blah.

Sadly, salvation won't come from council members. Another point, Mrs. D. Harris helped accelerate the downward spiral while she was on the PPS board.

They care. But, do they have much in terms of capacity for changes in this struggle is something to wonder about.

One-on-one, with one issue each, might yield some better results with those local politicians.

Crossing guards, police, security for 1 person.

Empty buildings, rehab, resale, for 1 other council member.

State support with Chelsa Wagner, perhaps.

Transportation costs, busing, integration, PAT/yellow bus issues, to another, perhaps Rev Burgess.

Yinzercation Blog about Moratorium on closing schools

Monday, October 14, 2013

Fwd: TONIGHT 6PM - Join us for "Identity: Citizen Journalism"

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: "Hill District Consensus Group" <hdcg@wildapricot.org>
Date: Oct 14, 2013 12:07 PM
Subject: TONIGHT 6PM - Join us for "Identity: Citizen Journalism"
To: "Mark Rauterkus" <mark@rauterkus.com>

2013-2014 HDCG Planning School

"Identity: Citizen Journalism"

Monday, Oct 14th @ 6:00pm
Hill House Conference Room B
1835 Centre Ave

"It is important to have a clear message to express the core values of the Greater Hill Districtundefineda  message that is consistent, unique and memorable, and that resonates with its diverse constituents.(Greater Hill District Master Plan, 2011)"

What is YOUR story? Join the Hill District Consensus Group and our guest speakers for a conversation about citizen journalism and how community members can shape neighborhood image and identity.

Featured panelists:
Elwin Green, www.HomewoodNation.com
Matt Hawkins, www.PostBlackHistory.net
Justin Laing, www.Hillombo.org

Food and refreshments will be provided. Please RSVP! shao@hdcg.org or 412-697-4692.

Click here for the Facebook event

About the Program Initiative


African American Cultural Legacy


District Identity
It is important to have a clear message to express the core values of the Greater Hill Districtundefineda  message that is consistent, unique and memorable, and that resonates with its diverse constituents.


Establish a recognizable graphic identity for the Hill. Mark the entrances to the Hill to welcome and encourage visitors and new investment. Keep residents and visitors informed about local initiatives, special events and other neighborhood news.


Copyright © 2012 Hill District Consensus Group. All rights reserved.
Contact email: info@hdcg.org
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Fwd: [DW] Minneapolis Mayoral campaign moves from lawn signs to Facebook ...

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: "Steven Clift" <clift@e-democracy.org>
Date: Oct 12, 2013 9:53 AM
Subject: [DW] Minneapolis Mayoral campaign moves from lawn signs to Facebook ...
To: <newswire@groups.dowire.org>

Or something like that ...

Dynamics of Minneapolis mayoral race unprecedented on many levels


Ranked-choice voting has prompted few candidates attacks. And there
are more debates and forums, fewer lawn signs — and extensive use of
social media.



It is highly instructive if you spend some time exploring the
candidates use of social media from:

When the Minneapolis Issues Forum was the only online civic
conversation in town over a decade ago, we saw far more leading
candidate activity there - http://e-democracy.org/mpls - In fact, the
current 3 term Mayor, RT Rybak credited his forum experience as a
major factor in his decision to run and announced his candidiacy on
the forum before he did it at a press conference. He told me that many
of his initial volunteers came from the forum. My view - in
competitive races, candidates will experiment. This is the first
highly competitive race for Mayor since 2001. And this cycle, Facebook
is a key "place."

Fast forward to this comment in the article by a Prof at St. Thomas:

This year, many of the 35 candidates have not held any news
conferences, or perhaps only one, probably to announce their

"They can't control the news conference as much as they can control
their own message through social media," notes Sauter. "Maybe this is
the harbinger of things to come where politicians are not going to use
the filtering device of the traditional media and try to shape and
control the message completely through social media."


And this is what I sense - candidates are given a fair amount of
control over the online spaces they host themselves (compared to our
forums where critics can reply with a megaphone) and with Facebook
advertising they can build up Likes that in theory give the candidates
increased access to more people.

So here are some candidates for Mayor, and Facebook likes:

Hodges - 3390
Winton - 3490
Andrew - 2855
Samuels - 881
Woodruff - 843
Cherryhomes - 559
Mann - 448
Cohen - 345
Hanna - 214

(You can find their pages from http://e-democracy.org/mpls13 )

In a city approaching 400,000 people (3.5 million in full metro), are
these big numbers? I am not sure. I don't have the exact number, but I
believe the current not running Mayor has over 20,000 addresses on his
official email newsletter. (Which was a legally public list until the
legislature quietly changed the law last year ... IMHO cementing an
incumbent advantage with the use of government communication channels
while also in theory removing the risk of commercial reuse of
government email lists. Of course here we have no incumbent

However, if you look at the image from the web page, it is actually
showing you "friend" requests from the personal accounts of
candidates. THAT is actually where local politics is going. Candidate
and elected officials are taking their semi-private interpersonal
relationships and converting them into semi-private online group

The current Mayor laments the fact that Facebook limits you to 5,000
friends. So if you want to be connected to power, you better become
their Facebook friend before they max out.

So, what I actually see is a troubling trend where the most engaged
from political and community activists to lobbyists to civil servants
are becoming hyper-connected in more PRIVATE connections.

I think like all Facebook users we get confused about what is public
and what is private that we post and when it comes to elected
officials they get confused as well.

I should note that many of the local political leaders are are my
friends on Facebook too. Once you are connected to enough political
types, Facebook recommends over and over again that you might know
people with with mutual friends and the political networkers just
start friending each other. (One thing to note for example - Andrew
has 1654 friends, 208 mutual with me, Hodges has 4960 friends and 311
mutual ... fyi RT Rybak's personal page shows 9,000+ "followers" which
is a feature that allows people to just follow you public personal
profile posts. - See - https://www.facebook.com/about/follow ... I
just turned this on for myself: https://www.facebook.com/stevenlclift
and I don't know that many candidates have turned this on. I would if
I were them.)

So, while Facebook might be great for networked campaigning, what
happens when the election is over? Will this same network broaden who
is involved in local democracy or will it is actually make
participation for everyday people and in particular less heard diverse
voices in the community harder? I see many people with power turn away
from more open engagement online and find it more comfortable with
their "friends" or people who "like" or "follow" them. So, while
Minneapolis is in its first "Facebook election" and in 2001 it had its
first "Internet election," I don't know that after the votes are
counted that governance will be more open, improved, or engaging
beyond those reached online in the election. Something to watch,
adjust, change ...

Oh, the REAL story online this election is the use of Facebook GROUPS
by Abdi Warsame - https://www.facebook.com/groups/Votewarsame/ - a
candidate for City Council with 2583 members. See:
 Only the incumbent sole Green council member Cam Gordon has a public
Facebook Group. If you really want a to use Facebook as a two-way
engine for supporter involvement, the Group frame is 10x more
democratizing than a more PR messaging oriented Facebook PAGE.

Steven Clift

P.S. It is very interesting to note which candidates have responded so
far to the Open Government survey out there by Open Twin Cities
(disclosure - I assisted with the questions):
- 3 of the so called "top" 8 candidates for Mayor (9 others did too)
have responded so far and there is no relation between their more
successful use of social media and an embrace of open government. With
council candidates we even have an unchallenged incumbent who replied.
I can personally say this is directly impacting how I personally view
the candidates, but how many "open government" swing voters are there
out there. :-)  My concern going back to EVERY election cycle since
1994 when I helped create the first election info website is that 99%
of those gaining power with our votes by engaging online essentially
turn-off the use of these tools to deeply engage the public two-way in
governance AND now with Facebook private life connections, I see more
and more in-crowd e-connecting actually making local democracy less
democratic and accessible.

Steven Clift - http://stevenclift.com
  Executive Director - http://E-Democracy.org
  Twitter: http://twitter.com/democracy
  Tel/Text: +1.612.234.7072

Group home for Newswire - Steven Clift's Democracies Online Newswire:

Replies go to members of Newswire - Steven Clift's Democracies Online Newswire with all posts on this topic here:

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Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Fwd: Once Again, the United States Opposes Democracy

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: "Andy Piascik" <andypiascik@yahoo.com>
Date: Sep 30, 2013 10:19 PM
Subject: Once Again, the United States Opposes Democracy
To: "andypiascik@yahoo.com" <andypiascik@yahoo.com>

This column appeared in a recent issue of the Connecticut Post in Bridgeport .
In Solidarity,
                           Once Again, the United States Opposes Democracy
                                                                                                                          by Andy Piascik
Virtually alone among nations of the world, the United States refuses to recognize the election of Nicolas Maduro as president of Venezuela. This, unfortunately, has become the norm in international affairs: the U.S. standing alone, or occasionally with Israel, Saudia Arabia or Great Britain. Like a bully in a schoolyard, the U.S. whines, demanding that it get its way or else.
            Or else. In this case, Or else could turn ominous for the people of Venezuela. They remember all too well that the U.S. instigated a coup that temporarily deposed the late Hugo Chavez, Maduro's predecessor, in 2002. In the eleven years since, Washington has continued to fund opponents of the revolution and foment strikes, demonstrations and general unrest.
            Such interference is the pattern of U.S. foreign policy. Profits of investors are preeminent and any person or movement seeking to take control of resources for the popular good is branded an enemy and treated as such. The following examples are just the tip of the imperial iceberg:
Iran, 1953: The CIA helped overthrow the popular anti-monarchist Mohammad Mossadegh,  largely because he nationalized Iran's vast oil resources, and replaced him with the Shah. Oil reserves were returned to Western control and 26 years of despotic rule followed;
Guatemala, 1954: The U.S. overthrew the democratically elected Jacobo Arbenz and soon turned Guatemala into killing fields. Earlier this year, former dictator Efrain Rios Montt was convicted of genocide by a Guatemalan court. Those in the U.S. who made the killing possible and profited most from it, however, remain at large;  
Vietnam, 1950's: After the Geneva accords of 1954 set up elections to unify Vietnam, the U.S. spent the ensuing years making sure no elections were held, knowing Ho Chi Minh would win in a landslide. Twenty years later, after American forces had killed four million people and destroyed three countries, the Vietnamese drove the U.S. out anyway;
Congo, 1961: Three months after Patrice Lumumba became the first democratically elected Prime Minister of the newly-independent Congo, the U.S. helped overthrow his government (he was executed by his captors several months later).  Soon thereafter began the murderous reign of Mobutu Sese Soku, who also embezzled billions of dollars, much of it "aid" from U.S. taxpayers, though successive American presidents were happy to look the other way because he ensured Western business elites easy access to the Congo's vast resources;
Brazil, 1964: Reformer Joao Goulart had been president for three years when the military, with U.S. support, overthrew his government. Fifteen years of despotic rule followed, as all traces of democracy vanished amidst an orgy of torture and killing; 
Indonesia, 1965: One of the bloodiest episodes in recent history began with a Washington backed and armed coup that resulted in the killing of approximately one million peasants and the installation of the dictator Suharto. Ten years later, Suharto invaded East Timor, again with crucial U.S. support (and weapons) and wiped out 30% of the Timorese population;
Dominican Republic, 1965: Shortly after the CIA assassinated long-time dictator and American puppet Rafael Trujillo because his act had gotten too extreme, Juan Bosch became president in the nation's first free election in 38 years. Five months later, U.S. backed generals ousted Bosch, and a groundswell of popular support for his reinstatement was snuffed out by a U.S. invasion. Another Washington puppet, Joaquin Balaguer, became president in a fraudulent election that took place with 40,000 American soldiers occupying the tiny nation and participating in the murder of Bosch supporters;
Chile, 1973: Much as it has done in Venezuela in recent years, the U.S. began funding oppositionists and fomenting strife as soon as Salvador Allende was elected president in 1970. With additional help from the U.S., the Chilean military overthrew and murdered Allende in 1973 and the long reign of fascist Augusto Pinochet began;
Haiti, 1990-2004: In a country that suffered one agony after another under U.S. playmates Papa Doc and Baby Doc Duvalier, a popular upsurge led by the Lavalas party swept Jean Bertrand Aristide into office in 1990. A coup three years later by generals close to drug cartels begat brutal repression until Washington allowed Aristide to return on the condition he implement harsh austerity measures. When he chose instead to push the widely supported program of Lavalas, the Clinton administration whisked Aristide out of the country at gunpoint. Haiti has been ruled by heirs of the Duvalier tradition since. 
 One dramatic change in the last 50 years is the consistent opposition of the American public to such interventions. This was perhaps best illustrated in the 1980's when U.S. solidarity movements undoubtedly prevented greater bloodshed in South Africa, El Salvador, Nicaragua and possibly other places. One striking feature were the thousands who travelled to work  alongside Nicaraguan peasants as well as to serve as a human shield, knowing the U.S. backed contras were less likely to murder Americans. The intelligentsia here, if it ever reported this remarkable phenomenon, surely prefers to forget; people in Nicaragua and the rest of Latin America, not to mention the Washington planners of contra terror, most definitely  have not.
Nicolas Maduro is not the issue. Hugo Chavez was never the issue and none of the individuals mentioned above were ever the issue. What was, and is, the issue is the effort of a galvanized populace to wrest control of their economic life from U.S. investors and the local stooges who do their dirty work. That is something the Super Rich here cannot abide, and all preventive measures are on the table, including war, unspeakable atrocities, even genocide. By remaining ever vigilant and supporting those throughout the hemisphere (indeed, the world) who work to create a new day, we can perhaps block further U.S. interference in Venezuela, not to mention Colombia, Bolivia, Mexico, Honduras and oh so many other places. 
 Bridgeport native Andy Piascik is a long-time activist and award-winning author who has written for Z Magazine, The Indypendent, Counterpunch and many other publications and websites. He can be reached at andypiascik@yahoo.com.