a scale of (0) most disagreement, to (5) neutral, to (10) most
agreement, what is your view on whether individuals pursuing a career
in elected office are less open to ideas for change than those who
seek elected office for only a limited time?
a scale of (0) most disagreement, to (5) neutral, to (10) most
agreement, what is your view on whether a bipartisan group of veteran
former political leaders should be invited to outline an agenda for
Minnesota's future to help advance constructive debate in the 2010
missing in this summary that you wish would have been addressed?
Begin right away
embarassing candidates who simply proclaim goals. Viz, for example, Ms
Kelliher this morning. The goals she proclaims are eminently worthy.
But it will not do for her to describe them as her 'issues'. An issue
exists where a disagreement exists. Who will disagree with anything on
her goals-list? Someone might 'take issue' by saying that other goals
are more important. But mainly issues are about 'how' . . . about
methods for achieving goals. The discussion needs to push candidates
to deal with the 'how'.
But, again: The candidates won't do this . . . aren't able to do this
. . . unless the people who work mainly with policy do a better job
than we have been doing lately of shaping the alternatives. If we do
that, then the candidates can decide: "I prefer to go with A rather
than with B". We all remember how this used to work.
Dorfman (5) (9)
Question 3: Minnesota’s politics has become more like the rest of the
nations and the odds of returning it or the country to the idyllic
days of old when a bunch of white boys ran things are over. We
collectively cooked this stew, which for the most part is more
inclusive, and therefore more divisive. Like all complex human
interactions/circumstances, there are trade-offs that must be made and
we are currently experiencing the negative aspects of the trade-off.
Somehow we came to believe that every individual opinion, no matter
how irrational or just plain stupid deserved consideration in public
debate. No one was willing to say no to anything or anyone for fear
that he/she would get upset. That foolish concern, part of “Minnesota
nice”, has not helped Minnesota solve its compound, complex problems.
improved communication and access to knowledge has made control of
message/agenda impossible. The 1960’s sowed the seeds of our current
conundrum with rational idealism like “question authority” (which was
smart since most authority lied during the Vietnam War) and “do it if
it feels good.” My father taught his four children that we should
suppress it if it felt good because self-control was, in his mind,
paramount to a rational society. He was, once again, correct. However,
despite the Great Generations sacrifices too many of them perpetuated
bigotry and sexism. Once again, a trade-off of enormous consequence
that was later changed and created its own set of trade-offs. So, we
are back where we started and I have given you too much about how we
arrived in this egocentric/individualistic/me- mess and why we are in
Zimmerman (8) (9)
Question 1: Over the past few years, I have met with and/or
interviewed several governors, senators, and other high-level
appointed officials -- always on matters relating to manufacturing.
While some of these people are likeable and seem sporadically
dedicated, I cannot say that they seem open to either new ideas or
supplemental information. Mostly what they seem to want is
reinforcement of what they said in their last speech. A prominent
friend from the University of Minnesota told me he had similar
experiences discussing his specialty where he very well known --
health care. Aristotle once said, "nothing enters the mind but
through the senses." If many, not all, of our current politicians were
trying to run a factory, they would fail because they would not spend
enough time on the shop floor. Some of our Minnesota politicians have
a certain "mule-like" stubbornness which rarely serves the state well.
Question 3: There
may be others who could contribute in addition to former elected
officials; academics, people who work in industry, welders,
hairdressers, and barbers.
Spano (0) (0)
Feels to me like
money is at the root of the problem. Ventura helped lead us into a
disdain for public service, and began our commitment to giving the
money back. Since we don’t have money to deliver service well, we
don’t do it. There’s a positive correlation between the level of
taxation and spending and the economic well being of states and
nations—the higher the taxing and spending levels, the better the
economic performance. Most people believe that correlation is
negative, but it’s not. Look it up. Now that we’ve gone from high
tax, high service (and good results) we’ve moved to medium to low tax,
medium to low service, and lousy results economically. A microcosm of
this whole trend: I was talking to regents about the light
rail/University controversy. As one of them noted: if we had a real
governor, this problem would be solved. Tim Pawlenty’s got the power
to settle this and other issues, but his never spending money game
means he won’t do it. It’s not just about being distracted running
for president. It’s about the whole idea that having government
accomplish anything is bad for us.
I’ve met a lot of
politicians, but I never knew one, that I can remember, who knew
whether or not he/she was in it for one term or 20. (Oberstar might
be an exception). It’s hard to imagine us getting governance right
when we’ve been denigrating it for so long now.
accomplishments are usually done by people with power. Ex-public
servants don’t have power. Arne Carlson’s been trying to bring the
Republican party into some semblance of positive accomplishment for
the past dozen years but it hasn’t worked yet.
Keller (10) (10)
Question 3: I
believe the discussion of issues should be extended to the leadership
of all 3 parties - full blown plans for the state, for which they
would take ownership, rather than sitting back and sniping at each
Quie (5) (8)
see that I am unusually ambivalent. I have been bothered by the fact
that our election system causes candidates to be less forthcoming than
in the past. Single issue groups have again found a way to put undue
pressure on candidates and elected office holders. The state budget
which is the biggest issue, will be solved. The constitution requires
it. The problem of K-12 educational achievement evidently need not be
solved, evidenced by the fact that our system has been noticeably in
decline for 40 years. The same must be true of our transportation
infrastructure. With all the work being done, I have never seen as
many highways with potholes not fixed by the month of August. The
legislature itself needs fixing. They seem incapable of proactive
solutions. It is not that the members individually lack competence.
The system needs revamping.
Deborah Anderson (7) (5)
Wright (10) (0)
Question 2: Replace "bipartisan" with "non-partisan and include
marginalized party leaders.
Oshiro (0) (8)
Question 1: I
don't believe length of service is determining factor here.
Question 2: This
will have limited impact, but it's worth the attempt. Be aware of
what other groups are doing. Growth & Justice having Mondale and
Carlson address some future issues on 9/22.
Olson (10) (5)
Question 3: Had
to comment on this discussion! As long as one party continues to try
to grow government and expand its power, and the other attempts to
reduce it to the founders vision, the battle will rage on. When you
refer to years past...remember, Kennedy would have been a Republican
by today's standards.
Slocum (5) (10)
Question 3: Let’s get the car on the road; those seeking the
governorship in 2010 are in need of substantive assistance that should
include some one-on-one mentoring from Civic Caucus insiders. Nothing
is more important.
Alison Krueger (9) (5)
Donald H. Anderson (4) (7)
Question 3: Has
anyone discussed using term limits as a means to remove professional
office holders especially at the legislative level?
Sharon Anderson (10) (5)
Frenzel (8) (7)
Question 1: In general I agree, but generalizations are dangerous.
The political system now seems to me to be ideologically polarized,
with all players resistant to any ideas advanced by the “other team”.
Question 2: I
wish there a better to advance constructive debate, but I can think of
Broden (7) (6)
Question 1: The trend to professional politicians in Minnesota would
support the view of protect the status quo due to the special interest
of each department or function that do the lobbying and provide the
campaign funds. Circle the wagons and parochial views are easily the
focal point and emphasis when the elected officials become
professional. Changing fund raising rules or term limits will not
change the environment for this situation. There needs to
be more attention to real citizen participation and input into the
process as well as citizen type legislative body. This is again a
reason for my idea for a third body to the legislature that works as
state planning agency and meets only for a short time each year or
every other year but must be citizens only to set some basic needs and
objectives for the house and senate to work on. The need to bring in
innovation, initiatives and experiments in government must again be in
the Minnesota mainstream--the professional elected officials do not
seem to be able to reach this position.
Question 2: The idea of the John Sampson proposal is good but should
not be the only approach.
I strongly support the idea of the "veteran leaders" but am bothered
by the lack of interest in seeking to find a group of the current
respected leaders and stakeholders to make some strong statements.
There must be link to the current citizens and the current problems of
the citizens across the state. If such a group or groups are formed it
must be representative of the statewide population and issues not
metro focus. This too is frustrating and will not work with the
outstate folks--why lead from an areas rather than from across the
Question 3: The theme that needs to be
developed must be positive statement and it must have content and
value--not something that suggests Minnesota is failing and must be
restored-- the message must say something about building Minnesota
for the future. I have suggested some themes so will not
repeat again. Cliches like Great Society etc. will not do the job etc.
Eklund (3) (3)
there for the long term or sort term is a function of elections, so I
think the personal view of the politician's career plans plays a
relatively small role. The recent decline by the governor to
participate in the leadership Summit gives me pause as to the
helpfulness or future of such a project. We may just have to wait for
the 2010 election, participate as best we can and hope for changes in
the governor's office.
Connie Morrison (5) (8)
Schubert (10) (_)
has become a "business" to advance oneself rather than "public service
for the greater good."
Question 2: I'd
simply invite "leaders," not limiting it to politics. Who have been
and are today collaborative changemakers in Minnesota for the common
good? That group will have a broader lens. We have to stop thinking
in "silos" and "personal interests." Everything is interconnected.
Just to look at politics for "leadership" in Minnesota won't get us
very far because there's very limited risk taking, collaboration and
innovation there today. There are a lot of Minnesotans outside of
politics who are doing significant innovation. They observe politics,
but don't wade into it as active participants because they see it as a
waste of energy and time and feel they can push the world farther,
faster outside of the political sphere.
Press (0) (10)
Clarence Shallbetter (8) (4)
It's not clear how
gathering together a group of veteran political leaders to identify
issues would be more effective than simply inviting them
individually. It's also challenging to figure out where wisdom for
the future lies. Is it in past political leaders, CEO's, system
thinkers, educators, community organizers, foundation staff or boards,
professional associations, attorneys, advocacy groups, etc.? The way
questions are framed will be at least as or more important than
identifying issue areas. Witness the current debate about health
Charles Lutz (5) (10)
Metropolitan Consortium is working with Peter Hutchinson
and the Bush Foundation on exactly the same issues that your recent CC
On the 2nd question, I support the effort, and suggest that it be
coordinated with our University/Bush effort.
Curt Johnson is at the center of our joint effort.
Steven Hardie (10) (7)
Malcolm McLean (5) (_)
Question 1: I am
waffling on this one. I suppose that a person intending to have a
long political career might not want too much rapid change, but that
is only a hunch. And a person who intends a short-term engagement may
be more willing to bet the farm on big change. But that, too, is just
a hunch. Incidentally, are there many who plan for only a short time
as an elected official? I had assumed that most if elected would
continue to serve until they lose an election or get old.
Question 2: I see
benefit in this. A sort of coalition of wise elders. Would political
parties welcome the formation of such a group or would they prefer a
situation they are more familiar with? Anyway, we need all the
disinterested, experienced, wise voices we can summon up. Go for it.
White (8) (8)
No doubt about it. You
have hit on a set of issues central to good governance. Good luck on
setting up your group.
Anderson (10) (10)
I strongly believe that
strict two-term limits for all public office holders would go a long
way toward encouraging broader civic involvement, less campaign
finance abuse, and more creative thinking on public policy questions.
Professional politicians cannot sustain the Republic without resulting
in the rise and fall of Rome. Our Constitution was designed to be
upheld by citizens with practical experience in the private sector,
not policy wonks and life-time office holders, whose self-interests
often checkmate the broader and moderate public interest.
I believe that former office holders do not necessarily have the
answers or even the right questions. We must create a broader,
intergenerational forum for public debate as an important part of
citizen and stakeholder responsibility. I also believe that
candidates who survive the primary process should be entitled to free
access to the public media through public service announcements.
After all, the public owns the airwaves. This would greatly reduce
the need to raise such large buckets of campaign money, since a
majority of that money is spent on media ads.
Terry Stone (5)
If the Civic Caucus commits
to taking a leadership position in the shaping of the 2010
gubernatorial race, a veteran bipartisan political panel would provide
a foundation for such an effort. I can see a press release titled,
What Media and the Voters Should be Asking their Next Governor --- the
questions that will define our future.
Debbie Frenzel (8) (10)
Bright Dornblaser (10) (10)
acceptance by all stakeholders of a commitment, a real commitment, to
the ideas of innovation and productivity as drivers of all our
policies, plans and processes. We are familiar with the barriers and
many of the means. What is missing is a commitment to a vision of
being an innovation state, a productive state. A top issue,
therefore, is how to develop such commitments.
As I have talked with VCs they comment on MN being MN Nice, on having
an image of meritocracy, not a driving commitment to excellence,
innovation. I do not recall their mentioning productivity but it
seems to me that unless they drive decisions in and out of government,
are a test of our decisions, we will not make the changes needed to be
all that we need to be for our future.
Richard McGuire (5) (10)
Erickson (10) (5)
Question 1: I
think those who plan to make a career of politics, think more about
how to get re-elected and less about how they can best serve their
Question 2: This
is a really good idea.
Robert J. Brown (10) (10)
Question 1: While
there are exceptions, those who seek careers in politics focus more on
themselves and the next step up the ladder rather than on commitment
to serve at the level they are now operating and they are less likely
to generate new ideas because they don’t have another perspective from
work in another field for part of their lives. Also, people with long
tenure in public office get comfortable with the status quo because
change is seen as threatening to their position.
mistakes we made in the 1970s was the creation of the “flexible
sessions” in the state legislature. I hate to admit it, but I was
intimately involved with the development of the idea working with
Peter Seed and his Citizens League committee. We thought we were
creating an opportunity to deal with emergencies ,do minor adjustments
in policy, and provide for some long range thinking in the even
numbered years, but others quickly pushed for and got annual sessions
with many other meetings to increase their income with per diems thus
creating a class of full time legislators and destroying our concept
of a citizen legislature. Having these full time politicians has had
two detrimental effects: the loss of people who have significant
non-government experience to give them perspective, insights, and
ideas in their role as policymakers; and having people in public
office who will do whatever they can to stay in office because they
need the job.
Question 2: I
would be happy to help make this happen. I have been supporting this
type of idea for some time, but have been discouraged because some of
the people who would be good at this are giving up on politics in
Minnesota as they see the narrowness and nastiness of the current
It is not enough
to get a small number of people together to plan an agenda. There must
be a broad based effort involving many organizations and institutions
to hold forums, distribute information, and generally raise public
awareness and knowledge if there is to be any hope of making
constructive change in the political climate and the development of
reasonable and responsible public policy changes.
Question 3: More
than I can comment on at this time!
I would highly
recommend any leadership Council have several ordinary citizens on it
to add the voice and value of their perspectives and to engage the
Citizens League and other citizen groups from the very beginning in
visible, viable roles if and when such a council is organized. It
is elitist to do anything less.
Ayotte (5) (9)
Norman Carpenter (6)(2)
We are losing our ability to assimilate
minorities...which impacts the human services tax policies.
Hauge (9) (10)
Question 3: Have
you asked the email participants if we agree that Minnesota is
slipping in its leadership position in relation to other states and
whether we agree with John Sampson's position on this issue?
Question 3: Yes,
how about improving the sense of collegiality among the members of the
Hennessey (10) (5)
Question 1: Now
you really hit a nerve.... These people call themselves "servants" yet
arrogate themselves perks that even medieval kings would not have
dared dream of. First of all, there should be an absolute ban on a
lifetime of "service." And if they really are "servants," then let
them do their public duty without any pay and benefits. There is this
nasty coincidence of poor public servants leaving public office and
almost instantly becoming fabulously rich -- Nixon, Gore, Clinton, and
an army of former prosecutors, regulators, etc., to cite a few
examples just in my lifetime. At least Carter had the family peanut
farm to go back to, and Reagan had his ranch, but he to was also
showered with benefits from concerned friends. Sure. I am sick of
Pelosi's Gulfstream jets, their private health care that the people
can't share in, their retirement at full pay and benefits for life
after just one or two terms, etc., all at government expense OK,
that's at the federal level, but CA is much the same, and if you have
a say in any of this in MN, don't let it happen.
Nobody who does
not have a private career, nobody who looks to government employment
as his career, should ever be elected to any office. People go into
government not for money but for power, and power makes them drunk far
worse than alcohol or riches. Nobody who has not had to meet a payroll
should be given power to regulate business. Nobody who has no
experience with how normal people live should be given power to
regulate their lives. Nobody who does not understand the limits and
distribution of power under our Constitution should be given power
that they can so easily misuse to intrude on the most intimate details
of our lives. The Founding Fathers saw public service as temporary,
undertaken with a sense of patriotic duty. Do a job, then go home.
Question 2: Oh,
what the heck, their ideas may not all be tired and discredited except
in the eyes of some rabid radicals. The great themes in politics and
government have not really changed in the five to seven thousand years
of recorded history. From Moses to the Greeks to Machiavelli to the
Founding Fathers to the present, we are still struggling to find the
right balance between individual rights and government power to do a
select few necessary jobs that only government can and should do --
common defense, domestic tranquility, fair and equitable justice, and
freedom to be all we want to be. Not much room for insane new ideas
there, in 1776 or in 2010.