November 11, 2013

How Big Money And Big Media Undermine Our Democracy

I HAPPENED to be channel surfing yesterday and hit upon an interesting conversation between John Nichols, Robert McChesney and Bill Moyers about the dangers of money and the media election complex. The reporters have a new book out entitled, "Dollarocracy: How the Money and Media Election Complex Is Destroying America."

It was a fascinating question and answer session. “Democracy means rule of the people: one person, one vote,” says McChesney, a professor and leading scholar of communications at the University of Illinois. “Dollarocracy means the rule of the dollars: one dollar, one vote. Those with lots of dollars have lots of power. Those with no dollars have no power.”

Nichols, Washington correspondent for The Nation, tells Moyers: “Dollarocracy has the ability to animate dead ideas. You can take an idea that’s a bad idea, buried by the voters. Dollarocracy can dig it up and that zombie idea will walk among us.”

Below is a video that you can view. It's worth the time!

November 10, 2013

Billy Collins Comes To Town

POETRY IS alive and doing well.

Billy Collins, former United States Poet Laureate, gave a poetry reading on November 9 at Kepler's Book Store in Menlo Park. Mr. Collins entertained the 300 attendees with his sense of humor as well as his poetry taken mainly from his new book, Aimless Love.

All of my District 4 staff attended the special evening as well as San Mateo County's 1st Poet Laureate, Caroline Goodwin along with two members of the selection committee. Kepler's was good enough to give Caroline and I a very special introduction.

What was originally a campaign issue for me - encouraging the arts, humanities and reading - turned into the poet laureate program. After getting elected in November 2012 and taking office on January 7, 2013, I was fortunate to have the opportunity to introduce the legislation in our county that created its first poet laureate program. Following approval by the Board of Supervisors, we set about creating a selection committee that eventually reviewed the 15 applications that were received. A rigorous selection process followed and concluded with finalists being asked to give a poetry reading and answer questions about what they would do as the county's poet laureate.

Needless to say, Caroline Goodwin shined through the entire process and will begin her official duties on January 1, 2014.

Below is a picture of Mr. Collins autographing his book for me as well as a short video of the crowd that came to see him.

November 8, 2013

Check out iCitizen - A Civic Platform For Your iPhone

iCITIZEN IS a civic platform, designed with the idea that an informed and engaged electorate can revolutionize government. The application tracks elected officials and the issues you care about in real time. You can take part in polls to let your representative know where you stand on hot-button topics. The application allows you to do all of this from the palm of your hand - your smartphone.

Visit the iCitizen site here >

November 6, 2013

Fatherhood Collaborative in San Mateo County

THIS SHORT video provides some insight into support of children and families in San Mateo County, the experiences of fatherless children and the need to continue to advocate for and promote more father-involvement and responsible parenting. This video was produced for the 2013 Dads Count Breakfast and Family Friendly Employer Awards Ceremony honoring The Honorable Jerry Hill, California State Senator.

Fatherhood in San Mateo County from Fatherhood Collaborative on Vimeo.

November 4, 2013

No To Internet Voting In British Columbia - For Now At Least

THE INDEPENDENT Panel on Internet Voting in British Columbia has issued its draft report on that topic. They recommend against implementing Internet voting at this time.

Input is requested on the preliminary report through December 4, 2013.

To guide members of the Legislative Assembly, and potentially local government officials, in their task of weighing the benefits and risks of Internet voting, the panel sets forth the following recommendations:
  1. Do not implement universal Internet voting for either local or provincial government elections at this time. However, if Internet voting is implemented, its availability should be limited to those with specific accessibility challenges. If Internet voting is implemented on a limited basis, jurisdictions need to recognize that the risks to the accuracy of the voting results remain substantial.
  2. Take a province-wide coordinated approach to Internet voting.
  3. Establish a technical committee to evaluate Internet voting systems and support jurisdictions that wish to implement approved systems.
  4. Evaluate any Internet voting system against the principles established by the panel: 
-Ballot anonymity
-Individual and independent verifiability
-Non-reliance on the trustworthiness of the voter's device(s) One vote per voter
-Only count votes from eligible voters
-Process validation and transparency
-Service availability
-Voter authentication and authorization

Read the report here >