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       August 12 Group Discussion                                                                                     Please take one minute to evaluate our website. Click here to take the survey.

These comments are responses to the Civic Caucus interview with

Civic Caucus Interview Group Discussion
August 12, 2016

Your ideas are needed, and welcome,
on improving the public policy process in Minnesota


The Civic Caucus interview group today looked ahead to ideas that might be included in a report on generating innovative public policy proposals. Among suggestions: Keep in mind that much of Minnesota's quality of life has been maintained as a result of creative public policy decisions. Maintain a list of major unresolved public policy issues. Make study groups more representative of the population. Make the assignment, or the charge, as precise as possible. Don't assume everyone already knows what the problem is; learn first. Resist the temptation to seek quick answers. If it's a state-local issue, keep the proposals at the state-local level; resist the temptation to turn to the federal government for answers.
Addressing how to finance a proposal is essential; don't leave such questions for someone else. Recognize the potential of new ideas in unblocking contentious
gridlock. Acknowledge that new ideas, even if not perfect, are better than none at all; ideas from one source will stimulate more ideas from other sources. Don't let advocacy groups dominate the process; disinterested persons--as distinguished from uninterested persons--are urgently needed. Recognize that often problems need to be redefined before they can be solved. Look for a central message, not just a laundry list of proposed changes.

For the complete interview summary see: link to interview

Individual Responses:

Ann Berget
Lack of integrity in public life: a major issue, maybe the biggest.

Vici Oshiro
Very interesting summary.

Steve Adams
Somehow, I got on your email list several years ago and always find the summary email interesting, although I am not always familiar with the person being interviewed. I have a few questions, however:

1. Where are these interviews held?

2. Is the public invited to attend these interviews?

3. Have you ever thought of webcasting these interviews and allowing interested individuals to login and view them as they are happening?

As an elected official (Hopkins School Board) and a participant in many local and state election campaigns, I would appreciate having the opportunity to participate, even as a passive viewer.

Gail Kulp
Thank you for sending this report. I am new to Civic Caucus and have much to learn but embrace what I just read. 

Staying focused on the search to clearly define and identify potential  solutions to issues is essential. Working at the level closest to the areas of concern is challenging, but it allows participation by a more diverse group as long as they are identified, invited, welcomed and their voices are heard and acknowledged. 

I look forward to hearing more. 

Tom Spitznagle
Just one rather obvious observation:  the way people communicate and obtain information has changed dramatically (understatement) in recent years.  No longer are people dependent on traditional media for information (another understatement). 

It would seem useful to first better understand how various segments of our Minnesota society (by age, race, economic status, location, etc.) get most of their information.  Then a better understanding of how people determine what issues are important to them and how they are motivated to participate in addressing those issues could be achieved.  I suspect that the results of such a study would be very revealing.  My guess is that I would be surprised at the number, variety and types of issues that are considered high priority by various segments of our Minnesota society. 

When people would wait to read the local newspaper or watch the local TV news, these traditional media could focus people’s attention on the issues that the media decided were important enough to cover.  Now, the communication channels by which people get information are much, much greater.  Not just newspapers and local TV anymore but nationwide email networks, Internet websites and searches, Twitter, Facebook, cable news networks, blogs, Snapchat and much, much more.  A wide variety of interest groups can now identify (or create) a plethora of specific issues and then promote (or, alternatively, discourage and marginalize) these issues to specific segments of society in today’s communications world – and they can do this very efficiently – instantly and at low cost.

This proliferation of information sources can drive what people of unique, targeted segments perceive as important issues totally independent of what many or most other people are considering to be important issues based on the unique communication channels that they receive their information from.  Perhaps this is one reason why it is so much more difficult to obtain consensus on what is an issue worth pursuing and then develop an action proposal that garners public support sufficient to move towards implementation.

Wayne Jennings
I still like the old Citizens League process but with modifications. Rather than a committee of 60 that dwindles to 20, use our existing group of "wise" old people, possibly a couple more. Then pick one topic, one that is manageable, important and that we could reasonably influence. We would call in experts and advocates on the topic as we do now to inform our decisions on the one topic  Our concentrated listening analysis and reporting would be unlike that of other reports. Of course, we would produce a well-written,-informed report including a one page summary, which we and others would distribute to opinion leaders for understanding and action on the issue. Most issues are a tangled web of problems. mindreading and poorly researched solutions. They need clarity and direction.

To gain support, we would approach leaders of relevant organizations as appropriate, such as legislative committees, Senate and House leaders, Metro Council, etc. Also editorial writers, op ed pieces, neighborhood publications. Much of this could be by email but some in person. Funding for later stages would come from angels and non- advocacy and advocacy groups.



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

  John S. Adams, David Broden, Audrey Clay, Janis Clay, Pat Davies, Bill Frenzel, Paul Gilje (Executive Director), Randy Johnson, Sallie Kemper, Ted Kolderie,
Dan Loritz (Chair), Tim McDonald, Bruce Mooty, John Mooty, Jim Olson, Paul Ostrow, Wayne Popham, Dana Schroeder, Clarence Shallbetter, and Fred Zimmerman




The Civic Caucus, 01-01-2008
2104 Girard Avenue South, Minneapolis, MN 55405.
Dan Loritz, chair, 612-791-1919   ~   Paul A. Gilje, coordinator, 952-890-5220.

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