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NCDD-DISCUSSION Home

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NCDD-DISCUSSION  March 2008, Week 1

NCDD-DISCUSSION March 2008, Week 1

Subject:

Re: seeking exercises that stimulate curiosity and uncover assumptions

From:

Michael Allan <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Michael Allan <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Mon, 3 Mar 2008 06:46:24 -0500

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (108 lines)

Kenoli Oleari wrote:

> Instead, if we took an approach where the real goals of communities were in 
> the forefront we might have a better chance of creating some different and 
> long lasting outcomes.  We might even begin to see self-activated 
> communities develop along with wonderful never-thought-of-before solutions 
> for achieving community goals.  It could even change the face of 
> "democracy" as we know it to something that is truly participative, 
> something that is proactive rather than reactive.

Along these lines, Kenoli, I recently received an email that addresses
a similar vision.  It describes how a community came together at the
grassroots, and began to plan its own future.

The email seems to have been misdirected.  It wasn't actually
addressed to me.  At first, I couldn't make sense of it -- it seemed
to depend on a new technology of some kind.  Eventually I figured out
the missing pieces.  (I'm an open source developer, working in social
media.)

The original message is appended below.  A version with the missing
technical pieces (as best I can resconstruct them) is posted on my Web
site (link below).  Cheers, -- Mike

  http://zelea.com/project/votorola/home.xht  


Date: Sat, 5 Sep 2009 18:51:44 -0500
From: Fanny <[log in to unmask]>
To: Jim Bolton <[log in to unmask]>
Subject: Re: Open Elections

> Linda blames you.  She says you were the first in town to vote.
> She says it's all your fault if she's become a rabble rouser!  :)

Not fair, I wasn't the first!  I may have been the first to vote for
*Linda*, but that's her own fault.  Because a few years back (you
remember, I told you about it) she organized the renovation of that
playground on Willow Street.  So I figured, she's buckin' for City
Council!  So I voted for her.  (But none of us really expected
anything to come of it, of course.  It was just something new, a
different kind of election.)

> ...told me it was a legal secretary, somewhere downtown, who started
> it all.  She was unhappy with the property tax increase.  So she got
> hold of a copy of the City's tax code; rewrote it; and started an open
> election for -- what did she call it? -- the 'Bylaw for Tax Reform'.

So that's where the bylaw came from... good for her!  It's true too,
that's the election that kick-started things.  I remember, it made the
local news.  Different versions of the bylaw were being drafted, each
with a different tax redistribution.  Some of them were pretty
extreme!  People were voting for one draft, or another.

I never looked at any of the drafts.  (I can't make heads or tails of
my own taxes.)  But Mark has a friend in accounting.  He knows all the
numbers.  We just voted for him.  It worked out well.  Whenever we had
questions, he had the answers.  So now he's our designated tax rep,
for future elections.

Linda foresaw what was coming.  She saved her candidate's bacon.  She
convinced her to keep out of the bylaw elections (there were several
by then).  The other Council candidates were staking positions, and
attracting votes because of it.  But she convinced her's to promise,
instead, to support the *winning* draft (whichever, it didn't matter)
and bring it to a Council vote.  The other candidates were torn apart
in the fray, but her's came up the middle ground!

> The part I never understood is how they could reach a consensus on the
> bylaw.  If City Hall were to propose the tax changes, then there'd be
> open debate, sure enough.  But everyone would be up in arms!  They
> would *never* come to an agreement...

I know, that's what I expected too.  And the news reports at the time,
they predicted the same thing.  Everyone figured we'd just divide up
into separate camps.  And I guess people did split up, at first.  But
whenever the votes had settled down into a clear division -- some
voting for one proposal, some for another -- the bylaw drafters
managed to bridge the differences.  Linda says they found compromise
drafts.  Or they just removed the difficult sections where they
couldn't agree.  So the drafts came together, bit by bit, and the
votes cascaded with them.

The biggest problem came afterwards.  After everyone had agreed on it,
the Budget Committee rejected it.  They said it had technical faults.
Council started to amend it.  That's when people really got up in
arms!  Eventually, the Mayor stepped in.  He said it wasn't their
bylaw to amend.  He asked us to reopen the election, and told the
Committee to negotiate directly with the drafters.  Eventually we
reached a second consensus.  (The Mayor now calls himself the 'Open
Election Mayor'.  He says his job was never so easy, as when he acted
on a clear consensus.  Instead of opponents at every turn, he found
allies.)

There's optimism in the air, Jimbo.  People have started drafting
their own planning documents, and voting on them.  Different cities
are sharing different visions.  People are talking.  Not long ago,
they'd have dismissed that kind of thing.  They'd have felt the
authorities had it pretty much wrapped up, and would do as they
pleased.  Now it's different.  Now, the feeling is, almost anything is
possible,

Fanny

---

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