New Techniques For
Improved Civic Governance

by Craig Carmichael
February 19, 2015

The governance list for Esquimalt, BC, Canada is:
Esquimalt@yahoogroups.com

Note: Yahoogroups was chosen because it has a primitive voting facility (the typical "illiterate's 'X'") tied to list membership.
(If anyone knows of other e-mail list hosts that have voting or polling facilites, please let me know!)

You may have read a draft letter (below) stating there's a web page here with further information.
There is presently no further information about the e-mail group list idea, but a sketch of a concept for
a web based election campaign central besides the e-mail group list follows.




"Election Campaign Central - Your City"


In order to know anything about those we are to elect, we need to hear and see them. We need to know what they're about. At all levels the mainstream media is doing a terrible job of telling us what the candidates are saying, instead offering their opinions and commentary on what we haven't heard. Only some ill-considered, and perhaps offhand or humorously intended, remark makes it to the news as a quote to enrage the public against a candidate, when we've heard virtually nothing else about the candidate. The only way candidates can get their views across is to pay for their own advertising, which eliminates all who aren't wealthy from serious consideration.

The Campaign Central will become THE place, known to all, where the candidates are permitted to speak for themselves for without charge, doing the job the media should have done and doing it much better.

1. Promotional video by Each Candidate for Mayor and Alderperson

Providing each candidate a free promotional video spot allows him or her to get their main points and general aims across to the voters, and it largely removes money and the biases of reporters and media from the campaigning. Beyond just a face, the videos may contain any charts, images, etc, that the candidate wishes to present.

[image/link to video] Mr. A, incumbent mayor & mayoral candidate

[image/link to video] Dr. B, mayoral candidate

[image/link to video] Mrs. C, mayoral candidate

[image/link to video] Mr. D, alderperson candidate
[image/link to video] Dr. E, alderperson candidate
[image/link to video] Ms. F, alderperson candidate
[image/link to video] Mrs. G, alderperson candidate
[image/link to video] Mrs. H, alderperson candidate
[image/link to video] Mr. I, alderperson candidate
...

2. Citizen Questions For Candidates

Mr. Q what about taxes?
Mrs. P what about roads?
Mr. J ...

3. Citizen Comments

Mr.W: Did anyone know that Mr. X, now running for alderman, was convicted of fraud in 2008 and fired from WC Bank? (Documentation links:___, ____)
Mrs L: Candidate Mrs. Y was very helpful in organizing our benefit two years ago.
Mr. Z: ...

4. Videos: Responses to Questions and Comments by the Candidates

Each candidate may choose to address none, any or all questions asked by the citizens, in audio, video or written format.

[image/link to video] Mr. A, incumbent mayor & mayoral candidate

[image/link to video] Mr. B, mayoral candidate

[image/link to video] Mrs. C, mayoral candidate

[image/link to video] Mr. D, alderperson candidate
[image/link to video] Mr. E, alderperson candidate
[image/link to video] Ms. F, alderperson candidate
[image/link to video] Mrs. G, alderperson candidate
[image/link to video] Mrs. H, alderperson candidate
[image/link to video] Mr. I, alderperson candidate
...




The Draft Letter: Civic Governance e-mail Group Lists

   We incorporate municipalities to do things collectively that are difficult to do individually, such as remove our trash and clean the streets. In allowing municipalities to levy taxes to fund these services, the BC government decided that average homeowning citizens shouldn't be burdened with property taxes, and created the homeowners' grant to cover taxes except on large or especially valuable properties, with most homeowners paying a token $1.

But over passing decades municipalities have taken on a life of their own, gradually taking on projects and tasks that far outstrip the real needs of the community. They treat us like "milk cows" with ever-growing taxation far beyond the grant, ever bloating the workforce whose salaries we have to pay. Retired people have to give up the equity in their homes to pay these taxes, so their heirs can get only a dollar fraction the government and the banks leave behind, instead of inheriting the home. And they place ever more odious burdens upon us with artificial, unreal and even contradictory expectations, expanding bylaws and regulations beyond reason as if we were their employees charged with keeping their properties to their specifications, instead of the other way around.

And municipal democracy has become something of a façade. Without delving into the unfair and obsolete "illiterate's X" voting system, we have virtually no basis for deciding who to elect, and no idea what the individuals do once elected. Council may be swayed by municipal staff who may or may not be putting community interests first, and who may have a limitied point of view. And what happens when those with their own agenda working counter to community interest entice or put pressure the elected? How do we ensure they are choosing wisely, and how do we call them to account if they don't?

It is essential that citizens take part in their own governance, but under the current antiquated proceedures for doing so, it's no surprise that most of us don't find the time to "fight city hall". We can't attend council meetings, start door-to-door petitions, and spend many hours a week to fight every issue where decisions we feel are adverse are being taken. Councils act in a vacuum without knowing what the public wants, seemingly almost always adding to our burdens rather than decreasing them.

To regain control of our affairs, then, we need to create a new simple and direct system of two-way communication, between all citizens who wish to contribute, and between them and those elected to serve them. The internet gives us means for doing this that didn't exist before.

E-mail groups can allow us to become aware of new issues as they arise and discuss them on our own time, without an arbitrary schedule and time wasted in travel and attending meetings just to learn the debate and perhaps say one thing. Posing of questions and choice ranking voting ("STV") must be available. Where one person is ignored, tens of people having a consensus will be listened to. Hundreds or thousands will be obeyed. It may seem almost a shocking concept that government should obey the people, but isn't that the way it's supposed to be?

With the open communication, this will gradually become a co-operative, consensus driven system of governance on all sides, which one expects will eventually migrate to higher levels of government in some form.


Read more at: www.saers.com/recorder/craig/cities/

I am starting the list for Esquimalt BC Canada.

Join the governance: Esquimalt@yahoogroups.com

When applying, you must give your name and address. Only addresses within Esquimalt are acceptable at this time.

If you have something you want done that is being ignored, if you feel more threatened or used than served by your municipality, why not join, or start, the e-mail discussion group for yours?

Craig Carmichael

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