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 Response Page - Broden  Interview -      

These comments are responses to the questions listed below,
which were generated in regard to the
David Broden Interview of


David Broden, defense consultant, speaks of the need for a single, integrated state vision toward which the priorities of both the private sector (business and non-profits, etc.) and government can be targeted. He reflects on Civic Caucus interviews of recent years calling for a unified, shared sense of direction. He suggests a process for establishing a joint public-private effort to work toward consensus on a vision for the state. Such a state vision, he contends, must evolve by building on the visions crafted by individual organizations to provide an integrated focus benefiting greater Minnesota and having "ownership" by all citizens. Broden summarized by encouraging organizations that have worked to define such visions to seek to link common vision themes to this objective at the state level.

For the complete interview summary see:

Response Summary: Readers have been asked to rate, on a scale of (0) most disagreement, to (5) neutral, to (10) most agreement, the following points discussed by Broden. Average response ratings shown below are simply the mean of all readers’ zero-to-ten responses to the ideas proposed and should not be considered an accurate reflection of a scientifically structured poll.

1. No defined state vision today. (8.7 average response) There is today no Minnesota vision, public of private, toward conscientiously moving the state in a clearly defined direction.

2. State is rudderless. (8.0 average response) Without such a vision, the state appears to have become rudderless in priorities and direction during an increasingly tumultuous time.

3. Positive vision to link public, private. (9.3 average response) A vision should project a positive view of Minnesota’s future and of its government, economy, and citizens. It should enable linking public and private organizations, and be adaptable to rapidly changing circumstances.

4. Ownership important. (9.6 average response) A successful vision needs ownership on the part of those who work together to create it and it must connect to those on whom the vision impacts--citizens and groups statewide in all demographic and economic categories.

5. Use work of individual organizations. (7.9 average response) Visions and strategic plans that are emerging individually in organizations across the state should be resources for developing a statewide vision.

6. Broad representation needed. (8.2 average response) To produce a vision a statewide public-private team should be established, broadly representative of geographic, demographic, governmental, economic and other interests.

7. State vision unworkable, unnecessary. (4.3 average response) No such vision is possible. Groups of all types in the state have their own—often conflicting—ideas about the future. The direction of the state is determined in the hard-fought political arena.

Response Distribution:

Strongly disagree

Moderately disagree


Moderately agree

Strongly agree

Total Responses

1. No defined state vision today.







2. State is rudderless.







3. Positive vision to link public, private.







4. Ownership important.







5. Use work of individual organizations.







6. Broad representation needed.







7. State vision unworkable, unnecessary.







Individual Responses:

Don Anderson (10) (10) (7.5) (10) (7.5) (10) (10)

Roy L. Thompson (10) (10) (7.5) (10) (7.5) (7.5) (0)

6. Broad representation needed. It seems to me that some type of an educated society is essential for wise, variable, and changing situations. Decisions for and about all government, manufacturing, recreation, health and even education should be based on knowledge not "Stadium" mentality. "Stadium" mentality has its place in drawing people together but true basic information can only be collected, evaluated and implemented by a knowledgeable society. I think any vision has to encompass greater emphasis toward training & education.

W.D.(Bill) Hamm (5) (2.5) (10) (10) (0) (7.5) (0)

1. No defined state vision today. We do have a failing vision in place now that makes us one of the 16 most racist states in the nation. We are harvesting blacks and Native Americans to fill our prisons and keep public employees working. This negative vision has gradually undermined our state deeper every year for over 35 years now. It undermines every part of our economy. Prof. Angela Davis of California explains how this effort sucks up education, healthcare, and social service dollars while undermining our efforts to move ahead.

2. State is rudderless. Our rudder right now is heading us toward an increasingly radical police state that has no connection to the needs of the working class. It has rather become a battle for power between the very rich and the public employee middle class, which has become increasingly self-serving.

3. Positive vision to link public, private. We have been drifting steadily away from that kind of vision since we accepted the premises of the Nixon war on drugs legislation that was just a the beginning of the "New Jim Crow" as described by Michell Alexander. We are now incarcerating 9 times as many people of color as whites over use of a non-toxic medicinal herb that has been continual use by humans for over 15,000 years. This is blatant racism and undermines any vision attempt in Minnesota.

4. Ownership important. It is pretty hard to take ownership of such blatant racism. The police state logic that attacks our minority and poor citizens at will does not leave much room for conscientious building.

5. Use work of individual organizations. These competing, self-serving visions have little to do with the common good.

6. Broad representation needed. Herein lies the problem: who chooses the stakeholders and how will they be chosen? Who do we trust to do this honestly in our present state of racism?

7. State vision unworkable, unnecessary. The goal is quite achievable, but only if we are willing to put all issues and how they affect our state on the table. The other part of this will be the ability to limit special interest input to their population size rather than stacking the deck against the majority of working class people.

Mary Rossing (10) (10) (10) (10) (7.5) (7.5) (2.5)

Pat Barnum (7.5) (2.5) (2.5) (7.5) (7.5) (2.5) (7.5)

2. State is rudderless. The state government is rudderless, but it's more because of the Governor and his administration, and the inability to work with the legislature, than anything else. The state's private sector may benefit from a shared vision for the future of Minnesota, but I am very leery of anything that the government decides is a mission and then rewards or punishes the private sector over.

3. Positive vision to link public, private. First sentence, agreed. Second one, this sounds like the beginnings of a march towards more and more government oversight and control of the private sector, and less independence for the market to choose the winners and losers.

6. Broad representation needed. Disagree that the public sector should have much to do with this, and certainly would disagree that funding developing of such should come from public funds.

Chris Brazelton (10) (10) (10) (10) (5) (10) (2.5)

2. State is rudderless. Worse, those with competing priorities are pulling us apart, creating animosity and rancor, leading to less cooperation and driving us further from any resolution.

5. Use work of individual organizations. They could be a starting point, but caution that the originators of those plans may be more likely to resist change and adaptation to a wider agenda.

6. Broad representation needed. The team could open the initial brainstorming session up via multiple media sources to gather input from the public, then phase two would be narrowing the ideas into a concrete list free of redundancies, then phase three would allow the public to vote on priorities. The more buy-in that is allowed at the various phases of development, the more buy-in that the public will have in the finished product.

7. State vision unworkable, unnecessary. It doesn't have to be this way. In fact, unless we can come up with a vision that has buy-in from all sides, we will continue to have partisan public fights about what direction we should take. If the public can agree that we want a strong business foundation that requires strong education of the future workforce, reduction of street crime through reduction of poverty and homelessness etc. then we can find more common ground about how to get there, and spending priorities evolve from that vision.

Bob Mairs (10) (7.5) (10) (10) (10) (7.5) (10)

1. No defined state vision today. None that I know of.

4. Ownership important. Should be broadly enough stated to allow for some variation in interpretation by various parties

6. Broad representation needed. How do you reconcile extreme viewpoints by some or many organizations ?

7. State vision unworkable, unnecessary. A vision is possible but the steps to fulfill it may be difficult to define.

Charles Denny (10) (10) (10) (10) (10) (10) (7.5)

Ralph Brauer (2.5) (0) (10) (10) (10) (2.5) (2.5)

1. No defined state vision today. I would moderately disagree with that. The no-taxes, no-government types have a vision. In fact right now it is the only vision out there. The problem is there is no "competing" vision in the political arena.

2. State is rudderless. Far from being rudderless, the state's direction has been quite clear since the Pawlenty Administration--no taxes, severe cutbacks in government services, cuts in local government aid and support for education. Its vision is that of supply-side economics: severely cut taxes and government services and put the money in the hands of the wealthy and that will generate new jobs and opportunities. It's not a rudderless ship; it's a ship that has gone sadly off course and is headed for the rocks.

5. Use work of individual organizations. A function the Caucus could perform would be to maintain a "vision repository" on the web where organizations would be invited to post their visions so others could see them. This state has never lacked for good ideas, but right now we are not hearing about them.

6. Broad representation needed. I am not sure at this point we need "A Vision" that everyone has to buy into. What we need is more of a pragmatic approach that nurtures a variety of visions and approaches to see what works. Left out of this list is what Peter Senge strongly recommends--all visions need to be systemic. Most major corporations today model the potential systemic impacts of visions and strategic plans. Minnesota does no system dynamics modeling.

7. State vision unworkable, unnecessary. Although I am skeptical of a single, monolithic vision, the current toxic political atmosphere, especially that driven by a refusal to compromise is killing our state. When one side refuses to consider any revenue enhancement you have the equivalent of someone who insists on driving a straight line even when there is a curve in the road because there is a cliff up ahead. There is a famous scene in Rebel Without a Cause where two teenagers engage in a "chicken" contest to see who will be the last to leap from a car that is heading towards a cliff. One of them accidentally gets his jacket caught in the door handle and is killed. In today's game of political chicken the risk is high that one side may suffer the equivalent of getting its jacket caught in the door handle and take the state over a cliff.

Jeff Spartz (10) (10) (10) (7.5) (7.5) (10) (2.5)

1. No defined state vision today. The state abandoned formal long range planning about 1997. What we have now is quite a logical outcome of that decision. I've had legislators tell me (straight-faced) that the budget is the strategic plan.

Robert J. Brown (10) (10) (10) (10) (10) (10) (5)

Until someone comes forth to lead it is not going to be possible to develop a coherent and useful vision. The elected leaders don't seem to have the breadth of vision themselves to do this or they are hampered by their commitments to special interest groups. I would suggest a team headed by Mitch Pearlstein and Dane Smith, responsible think tank leaders from the right and left, might be the kind of people who could together make this happen.

Chuck Slocum (5) (8) (10) (10) (10) (10) (5)

1. No defined state vision today. No single, agreed upon vision but many visions exist, both official and unofficial.

2. State is rudderless. Some agreement on sustained budget containment at or below the rate of inflation exists at the state and local levels, but no real vision.

6. Broad representation needed. It is worth a shot!

7. State vision unworkable, unnecessary. Much more can be done regarding creation of a long term Minnesota vision.

Comment: Whatever it is called—a public/private partnership commission (is) OK by me—a Minnesota vision is the kind of thing that the Civic Caucus can effectively propose and devote some substantive energy toward causing it to happen.

Thanks to the Civic Caucua and Dave for their work thus far.

Richard McGuire (10) (7) (10) (10) (7) (5) (7)

Chuck Lutz (10) (9) (10) (9) (8) (10) (0)

Wayne Jennings (8) (7) (10) (10) (10) (10) (1)

A well-crafted vision or motto could be inspiring but runs the risk of being trivial or pompous. There must be people who are good at this sort of thing and could propose some ideas to jumpstart the action.

Carolyn Ring (10) (10) (10) (10) (8) (10) (3)

The Planning Agency never seemed to have a mandate or long range plan. The need for a statewide "vision" is imperative. We now have everyone going their own way and no consistent plan or goal for the state. Remember when JFK said we would go to the moon. Everyone got behind it and we did.

Peter Hennessey (na) (na) (na) (na) (na) (na) (na)

I can't agree with anything this speaker has presented. Any talk of "vision" and anything "public-private" smacks of a neo-Stalinist five-year plan. The beauty of free enterprise uncontrolled and un-visioned by government or NGOs is that individual entrepreneurs and enterprises seek their own goals, and market response determines what works and what is desirable.

Please thank the speaker for his effort. I know he thinks he means well, but, one old fogey to another, the road to hell is paved and always was paved with good intentions.

Tom Spitznagle (10) (10) (10) (10) (10) (10) (8)

Any enterprise, public or private, must have a vision, goals, objectives and various levels of dynamic strategic and operational plans in place in order to be successful. Otherwise, without any idea of where an organization wants to go, then any "destination" is acceptable. The current structure of Minnesota state government does not lend itself very well toward running a large, complex enterprise (I.e. - Minnesota) in an efficient, customer-oriented fashion. It's obvious to anyone who has not previously been conditioned by extensive experience in state government.

Lyall Schwarzkopf (9) (9) (9) (9) (7) (8) (6)

John Milton (8) (10) (10) (10) (7) (8) (2)

We had a vision, despite the national trend toward polarization, until the reign of Tim Pawlenty. Recommend that everyone read the new book by Thomas Mann and Norm Ornstein. (The situation is) worse than it looks.



The Civic Caucus   is a non-partisan, tax-exempt educational organization.   The Core participants include persons of varying political persuasions, reflecting years of leadership in politics and business. Click here  to see a short personal background of each.

   Verne C. Johnson, chair;  David Broden, Charles Clay,  Bill Frenzel, Paul Gilje,  Jim Hetland,  Marina Lyon,
Joe Mansky,  John Mooty,  Jim Olson,  and  Wayne Popham 

The Civic Caucus, 01-01-2008
8301 Creekside Circle #920,   Bloomington, MN 55437.
Verne C. Johnson, chair, 952-835-4549,       Paul A. Gilje, coordinator, 952-890-5220.

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