1._7.4 average___ On a scale of (0)
strong disagreement, to (5) neutral, to (10) strong
agreement, should the Civic Caucus become a more permanent
2._8.6 average___ On a scale of (0)
strong disagreement, to (5) neutral, to (10) strong
agreement, is the Civic Caucus offering a unique service?
3.On a scale of (0) totally unimportant, to (5) neutral, to (10) most
please rate each of the following aspects of Civic Caucus activity:
a._8.9 average___ Continue as an on-line,
b._8.6 average___ Continue weekly
interviews, circulating summaries, inviting comment
c._9.3 average___ Issue occasional
statements with recommendations
d._9.7 average___ Concentrate on issues,
e._9.8 average___ Be strictly
f._9.2 average___ Help Minnesota regain
its role as a leading-edge state on public policy development
g._7.4 average___ Focus on issues of
government structure as distinct from operations
h._8.7 average___ Welcome participants of
all ages and experience
i._7.9 average ___ Make a special effort
to attract participants with long experience in
j._6.3 average___ Give opportunities for
participants to communicate directly with one
k._5.3 average___ Place interviews on
audio or video
l._7.1 average___ Continue to explore
collaboration with other organizations
What an excellent summary of issues, challenges and opportunities.
From my perspective, you are extremely effective operating in the way
that you do right now. Succession planning and a bit more stability in
the fundraising are normal activities for any organization but that
does not dictate a big shift in how the Civic Caucus functions or is
structured. The Civic Caucus is unique, it should go on for many
years, and it should remain lean and virtual, in my opinion. Thank you
for what you do.
Glenn S. Dorfman
1. No. Minnesota already has too many organizations "thinking and
talking about public policy. We need organizations of individuals
willing to move an agenda forward "in the arena."
2. There is nothing particularly unique about the Civic Caucus.
I value this effort because I believe in diversity of information
sources. I don't believe this service is unique. It does have the
potential of offering more in depth information, much the way a Q and
A sidebar to a news story provides a bit of depth and perspective to
the reporting. I am a member of Citizens League and an avid consumer
of many news sources and commentaries (e.g., Dave Durenberger's
Commentary from NIHP, etc.). I'm gray haired. Is there a way to
recruit young people to your effort?
A broader base of financial support is needed. Start with asking for
donations with a specific overall goal which is stated. A succession
plan is needed for Paul's role and the members of the core team.
Fankly, using retired folks who will volunteer most of their time is a
good idea. The model is a good one. You use the internet well. Perhaps
video of the sessions would add to it. I don't perceive a need for
communication beyond the essential communication of responding to your
questions related to a given session and the occasional position
paper. It is essential that the position papers be well documented and
accurate. I am quite disappointed in the performance of the Citizens
League and hope that it improves as Sean would like it to. Staying in
touch with the CL is important but I see the organizations as having
different missions and different approaches.
I like the change to PDF file.
The CC seems to know who it is; be who you are, you are providing a
unique, worthy and cost effective service to many. Be professional and
plan your work, then, work your plan--be intentional The notion of
being nonpartisan is very important.
Focusing on a few of the most important ideas and sticking with them
is worth considering. Reach the younger generations through
internships, neighborhood, campus, etc. briefings and meetings on the
BIG IDEAS, etc. This could be accomplished at little or no cost to CC.
Nothing prohibits the group from being statewide, national, etc.
"without borders" as folks from all over have worthwhile ideas to
The idea of formally helping to frame and shape workable policies for
our future is very positive.
The idea of more formally "mentoring" current and future community
leaders is attractive and one which is consistent with the idea of
assuring a prosperous, successful future
The idea of being a sounding board for future governors, planning an
election or two ahead, intrigues me and builds on the "senior
statesman" and "behind the scenes" nature of the CC inner group
Website meeting summaries do not include any reader comments, as far
as I can tell.
Personally, I appreciate the straight forward written reports and
would likely not watch web videos, etc. The extra cost for the "glitz"
might even distract from the serious, bare bones nature of the CC.
f._8_ Help Minnesota regain its role as a leading-edge state on public
That sounds good, but I am not sure how this group can restore that
leading-edge that you are talking about. I do believe that this group
helps in that process.)
g._5_ Focus on issues of government structure as distinct from
I am not sure what you are referring to in this question?
h._10_ Welcome participants of all ages and experience
I appreciate that finally, someone is allowing me to have a voice,
even though I do not walk the halls of the state capitol except as an
j._10_ Give opportunities for participants to communicate directly
This could be a great idea to annually have a get together. This could
be your major fundraiser, especially if you only have a budget of
$35,000! You could sponsor a speaker, open up a live forum for
discussion of a particular hot topic and this would be a great way to
get people actively involved.
k._10_ Place interviews on audio or video
This would be fairly easy to do with Youtube.
l.__5_ Continue to explore collaboration with other organizations.
I do like the independence of this group. I have appreciated its
nonpartisan members, subjects and way that they do achieve this as
well as possible. I would hate to lose this source now that I have
found it. It has been a great way to find out what others are thinking
on different subjects.
I also appreciate the fact that this group is very capable of getting
out information without actually taking away time to meet together. I
have a number of meetings that I attend weekly and to be able to pick
up and discuss this topic at anytime, day or night is a pleasure. You
had mentioned that you may only have 30 people respond to comments of
the 1000 emails that you send out. I wouldn't worry about that because
if you met in person there is no way that you would have time for even
30 people to respond to questions in an hour meeting.
I can help you explore video as an option. See our new website
www.gpgrouptv.com. A friend of mine put this together.
I enjoy the Civic Caucus interviews. It's a great way to stay informed
Keep up the good work.
1._7__ On a scale of (0) strong disagreement, to (5) neutral, to (10)
strong agreement, should the Civic Caucus become a more permanent
I'm not clear on the implications of this.
I would hate to see Civic Caucus become "just another" opinion group.
I am particularly concerned about opening the group to too many folks
without experience or expertise in gov't or in the content area being
explored. The expertise of the interviewees and the interviewers sets
CC apart from other similar groups. Strict non-partisanship is also of
the utmost importance.
The Civic Caucus email really is a unique contribution to the policy
community and I would hate to lose the nuance or straightforward
aspects of its current style. To be blunt, though, I don't think I
would like to see stronger recommendations coming from what seems, at
least now, like a closed core group. The Citizens League has an inside
group, too, but is always open to new people who are not necessarily
the thought leaders of today. I actually like the process and simple
(no color!) style of the current emails. Thank you for your work.
Civic Caucus provides a significant and unique service and is well
organized and focused as is. I appreciate the opportunity to "sit in"
on conversations with leaders, thus becoming better informed on
issues. You operate with minimal cost and that's great as long as
there are the public spirited volunteers such as yourselves. If CC
became more complex, expenses and personnel costs would rise
significantly and ultimately jeopardize the program.
Today's society causes all of us to be supremely busy, yet want to
keep up and understand community needs and solutions. CC helps
enormously with this. There may be enhancements you will make but none
are needed for me. You could go to biweekly sessions to lessen the
pressures on yourselves or simply skip weeks from time to time.
One area for growth involves outreach which you comment on
appropriately. I say if we have 1,000 people following the discussion,
that's quite good and can only grow through word of mouth. If there
are alliances such as the Citizens League that offer additional
exposure and sharing of our important conversations and findings, all
the better so long as it doesn't take a lot of effort and expense.
Yes, I would be glad, as I'm sure others would, to contribute
financially to help with costs. One advantage of the present
arrangement is your independence of judgment which I would want to see
My deepest thanks for your selfless community work!
This 1-to-10 business leaves something to be desired and you
desperately need to upgrade your format and the whole look of your
process. But I think you are providing a very valuable service and I
hope you thrive and survive. We at Growth & Justice have been
participating in your discussion processes (wish we had time to weigh
in more often) and we will continue to do so. We need more
non-partisan, community-building, civic engagement groups, not fewer.
The survey findings represent very good guidance
Succession planning is critical. The service is too valuable to lose.
Three people should not need to carry the financial load. Voluntary
contributions might help some.
While transferring leadership to the CL has some appeal, it has its
funding and staffing problems and it could be difficult to assure the
focus of talented leadership the Civic Caucus has enjoyed.
Collaboration underway while useful does not assure needed succession
planning. It does, however, provide a means for translating CC
findings into state policy development.
A marketing study would be very useful, eg. to understand whether the
legislators consider the information to be redundant to that received
from the many other inputs they regularly receive.
Measurement of CC results for improving MN policy would be
illuminating and potentially disquieting. One hopes and informed
citizenry makes a difference. Would be interesting to learn if it is
so and how, whether it is limited to certain types of issues or timing
and for what groups, for example.
A permanent organization which continues and expands the approach and
size of the organization with focus on the work of the core group and
use of website will continue to build on a unique organizational
concept reaching individuals with public policy interest via web
communication which is pertinent and has depth. This value suggests a
Definitely a unique approach which brings opportunity for
participation to many who do not have the time etc. for extensive
meeting etc. The depth reaches the fact that many organizations simply
do not get to the point etc. email communication and dialogue is a
very strong and effective tool.
Hopefully, it doesn't become another think tank with director and
staff seeking community financial assistance.
"e" is extremely important to get your findings and message out.
I do not feel that the Caucus is open enough. I get the impression
that the interviewers are always the same and comprise a select few.
This is the first time I have been aware of a schedule of events.
Nowhere is there a time or place, It seems to me the Caucus is getting
a very parochial view using the same interviewing staff and gives the
impression of a closed society.
I think CL should utilize the CC interview/comment approach to get
broader participation in development of policy issues and I have
recommended it several times. It is wonderful educational approach for
busy people that are unable to participate otherwise.
Donald H. Anderson
One difficulty in today's society is getting people to join
organizations. The Caucus format provides the opportunity of getting
messages across but at the same time allows a person the time to carry
on other activities.
My comments will be on the aspects I didn't rate a "10".
b. While I read the results of the weekly interviews, I wonder if this
is too frequent for some very busy people and they will start looking
at the Civic Caucus emails as spam and thus not read things as
carefully as they might(or read them at all.)
g. It is easier to avoid being perceived as partisan when you focus on
structure (a traditional "good government" approach), but the
operations must also be addressed if we hope to best serve the needs
of the people. The best structure can be like an empty building unless
we deal with what is inside.
i. It makes sense to get the benefit of the experiences of old timers
as long as it is balanced by people with fresh ideas and new
approaches. And if you were to start this type of program 20 years
from now would you think you would get a lot of benefit from the
experience of those many narrow minded types in public office today
who would be the "participants with long experience" in the future?
j. and k. I don't think I would probably take advantage of either of
these ideas, but I am sure others might enjoy them. The electronic
copies of the interviews might be good to be made available to
l. I think collaboration with a variety of organizations might be
good, but I would hope you wouldn't consider merging or being absorbed
into another organization - you would lose the uniqueness of this
group which I believe is a benefit to the state. In order to maximize
your impact (and as part of your marketing program to get the Civic
Caucus better known)I would suggest you collaborate with different
organizations on different topics. For example, I know that our Public
Policy program here at St. Thomas would be willing to work with you -
as would programs at other educational institutions and other NGOs
interested in public policy in Minnesota.
As my replies indicate, I think the caucus does invaluable work. It
does need a longer-term succession and finance plan, and ways to
measure participant interest, but should be wary of any ideas for
sweeping change. The relatively small percent of participant response
is, I suspect, more a sign of reluctance by individuals to take time
for elaborate comment than lack of interest.
Also, beware of overload: Your inclination not to send more
comprehensive information is in my view exactly right. The intensely
curious folks can go to your web site.
And don't underestimate the caucus's value, even if it gets little
attention from media. The value to its audience is great, and as the
audience grows, so will its influence. In Madison last week I visited
with a daughter who's a senior analyst at a think tank based at U of
Wisconsin (Center on Wisconsin Strategy has the world's best acronym
-- COWS). She is mightily impressed with the caucus's nonpartisan
work. So would the UW's ex-chancellor, who recently resigned with an
article in Madison Magazine blasting that state's polarized politics,
which he views as much worse than MN's.
It's worked well to date, but it has been a labor of love a few who
have been willing to make the time and talent investment. I don't
think that it can succeed without that kind of continued commitment of
a.____ Continue as an on-line, "virtual" organization
- mostly, but maybe not entirely virtual
b.____ Continue weekly interviews, circulating summaries, inviting
at least for now
d.____ Concentrate on issues, not candidates
e.____ Be strictly non-partisan
f.____ Help Minnesota regain its role as a leading-edge state on
yes, IF we can
g.____ Focus on issues of government structure as distinct from
structure and policy
h.____ Welcome participants of all ages and experience
i.____ Make a special effort to attract participants with long
and help "season" those with less experience
j.____ Give opportunities for participants to communicate directly
Yes, I'm thinking about ways to do this.
k.____ Place interviews on audio or video
Use video only if it adds important information (e.g., charts). Video
of people talking not worth it.
l.____ Continue to explore collaboration with other organizations
No opinion. Depends on what you are trying to accomplish.
Glad to see that you added Marianne Curry and Carolyn Ring to group.
Hope they continue to be part of the core group.
Thoughts on succession: Verne and Paul could each have an alternate
who can take over at least temporarily if either should become
unavailable. Alternate (and perhaps others) should have copies of
important records (e.g., correspondence granting 501 (c) 3 status, any
filings with Secretary of State or other official bodies) and database
updated at least monthly and maybe more often. These alternates can
keep the operation going until more permanent arrangements can be
Thoughts on virtual only: Have you every polled the group to see if
they would like to meet occasionally for a program addressing some of
the issues considered in weekly interviews? Another group I'm involved
with had several programs at Ukrainian Hall on Main Street on Sunday
afternoons. Very friendly venue, simple refreshments - beverages and
cookies - round tables for 8-10. My guess is some would enjoy once or
twice a year - spring and/or fall. Skip winter and summer when some of
the natives escape and some of those who remain want to stay inside
and not venture forth.
Making weekly emails more appealing: OK, but please don't make them
very busy. Most in your audience are used to dealing with information
presented in straightforward manner.
"Civic Caucus is playing a very significant role in keeping government
structure....high on its priority list." Please elaborate - not on
issue but on role of CC.
MN only: Hope you interpret this very broadly. What we do in MN very
much intertwined with US and world and I believe more recognition and
discussion of this would be valuable.
Appreciated list of upcoming meetings.
State Sen. Sandy Rummel
Maybe instead of weekly interviews, do monthly... Gets to be overkill
3 a. - This one way to continue, but it may not be the only way.
3 b. - Same thing. This is one useful M.O., but CC may find others,
3 c. - Key word here is occasional. CC need not comment on everything.
3 d, e, f, g. - For me these make up the fundamental description of
3 h, i. Both of these are not fundamental, but very important.
3 j. Seems reasonable, but I'm electronically challenged.
3 i. I'm still challenged. Sounds expensive.
3 l. I'm for collaboration wherever it helps, but I remain suspicious
Special comment on 3 f.: For me, help is the key word. CC's job is to
help make all decisions informed decisions. Thereafter, the good
burghers of Minnesota can decide
for themselves whether they want MN to be "leading edge" or a slow
I put a "10" on everything but "k". Recordings might be OK for
archival purposes, but Paul's summaries are a critical value-add for
non-core participants like myself.
The reason I disagree with making the organization permanent is that
after a period of time, protecting, defending and enhancing the
organization itself becomes important, competing with the actual
mission of Civic Caucus. It is the kind of people that lead and guide
Civic Caucus that make it so worth while. People like you organize and
operate in whatever way makes you most effective and integrity is
built into your souls through decades of decisions.
I can tell you I've very much enjoyed Civic Caucus! Keep it going.
I think the CC should remain as it is. That said, it seems like some
succession planning is the order of the day.
I do not like PDF files; I cannot copy them and do not like reading
things of this caliber on the computer because it is easier to go back
and read them again. I was so glad to run into Paul Gilje at a recent
meeting. Got my name added because I can make up my own mind but
having analysis from different points of view and facts stated with
differing emphasis is not only helpful but imperative.
Minnesota must regain its position as a leading hot bed of state-based
policy innovation. This should be a clear, distinct pillar of the
I had a meeting this morning with Sean Kershaw at their offices; I
will be working with the League increasingly so: either by assuming a
position on the board, or as an associate with the board.
A critical piece to both the League's work and the Caucus is figuring
out how to move ideas once they become identified and developed. Both
groups help to build a 'civic capacity,' especially the Caucus with
its impressive work. But there needs to be tangible action to raise
money, garner media attention, and achieve the Caucus's aims at
furthering good governance.
I think the Caucus should raise money; you guys shouldn't have to
cover costs yourself.
Media is not picking up the Caucus's signed letters. Partnering with
MinnPost can help here. But, there's something more fundamental: the
ideas need to be brought to bear. The Caucus has such powerful
membership; the true organizational challenge will be figuring out how
to leverage this behind ideas in order to 'do' things.
Here the League is making progress: they are looking to use the
Internet to help local groups of people identify and respond to issues
of concern. The League will provide the conceptual framework for
articulating concerns, and provide the tools to help frame solutions,
to set a plan, etc. It is a way to empower smaller groups; to
decentralize without needing to include everybody in a
directly-democratic vein. Figure that one in ten makes it from an idea
to a small group with a 'plan.' Suppose one in four of these cohorts
does something good. Not bad. Sounds like a decent program of
innovation for any corporation. Costs nothing, really.
As a friend and colleague with the tech guy who is putting this
program together, I am helping advise in this program's development.
This may or may not be instructive to the Caucus' work.
You probably don't need to do weekly interviews: bi-weekly or even
tri-weekly would be sufficient—if the freed energies could then go
On being welcoming to all ages and experiences: I think it is best you
leave the masses to the Citizen's League. They are better suited for
it; I strongly believe the Caucus is best served by having competent
leadership (unrestricted regarding age and background), backed by
powerful, influential, and/or change agents of the region. I think
that while the group should not be elitist, it should be filled with
the elite. This will compliment the Citizen's League's approach to
mass involvement, especially among youth, in their projects and
I represent a generation removed two- or even three-times from those
of you running the Caucus. One of the great challenges for a group
like yours when trying to include younger folks is in identifying
those of us who are emerging as leaders with capacity to share the
baton. Education|Evolving has found a few of us, and guys like
Kolderie, Graba, Curt Johnson, John Boland, Ed Dirkswager, Dan Loritz,
and others have had no trouble bringing us on board; sharing
I suggest you look to bring some younger folk into the fold, in some
capacity, especially those (I would include myself) who are deep,
serious thinkers and who have already shown competence at high levels
and with complex issues of public importance. You don't want just any
kid—nor would I in your shoes.
Kolderie articulated well in your most recent interview with him that
the civic powerhouses of the 20th century are no longer. Here young
folks can help figure out how to build and leverage a new civic
capacity. That said, the same skills are required today for public
policy analysis and development than the 1960's. Young people must
assume the humility to understand this. You, the veterans, will need
to mentor the coming generations in these skills.
Become 'permanent,' but not heavy. Stay nimble, with a small group of
leadership. With staff comes an office. Watch out for this. I do think
E|E has come up with a very useful model, arranging a partnership to
move away from reliance too much so on Ted and Joe. They're getting up
there, too. The partners of E|E are complimented by associates and
advisors, two other categories we have created. We have a desk in
someone else's office, but not our own office. We are a virtual group.
Somehow the Caucus will need to come up with its own system. If two of
you decided tomorrow you had to set the Caucus aside—health,
family—what would happen to it? Would its mission be passed on?
I don't think the League and Caucus need to merge at any
point—probably shouldn't—but they can partner formally and informally.
Eg: as the League's technology strategy develops, it may be
At some point in the future, I s'pose, it would be good to sit down
and hash some of this out further. Thanks for all the work you do.