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essential information on public issues and proposed solutions


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 Response Page - Civic Caucus Strategic Plan Discussion  -      

These comments are responses to the questions listed below,
which were generated in regard to the
Civic Caucus Strategic Plan Discussion of

The Questions:

_7.5 average_____ 1.  On a scale of (0) most disagreement, to (5) neutral, to (10) most agreement, what is your view on whether Minnesota is losing its reputation as a state that demonstrates the best in representative democracy?

_8.4 average_____ 2.  On a scale of (0) most disagreement, to (5) neutral, to (10) most agreement, what is your view on whether the Civic Caucus process of enabling citizen involvement electronically without requiring face-to-face meetings should be further encouraged? 

_5.9 average_____ 3.  On a scale of (0) most disagreement, to (5) neutral, to (10) most agreement, what is your view on whether the Civic Caucus approach should be absorbed into a much expanded communications strategy that includes vastly more issues and participants? 

Bill Frenzel (8) (10) (5)

Question 1:  MN is pretty much like other states now - politically polarized with a turned-off constituency.

Question 3:  Easy to dream; hard to accomplish with current resources.

Jim Bartholomew (3) (7) (6)

Pat Lichty (10) (6) (5)

Paul Anton (10) (8) (6)

Bob White (9) (9) (4)

Question 1: The loss is puzzling.  MN has a notably articulate governor, though in my view his obduracy has done the state a disservice.  Speaker Kelliher strikes me as one of the best in a long time -- crisp, informed, engaging, shrewd, non-dogmatic.  Perhaps the old-style combativeness of the Senate majority leader contributes to the stasis, but I don't know Pogemiller well enough to make that diagnosis definitive.

Question 3: The caucus has done such good service, while reasonably expanding its audience, that I would be wary of taking on "vastly more issues and participants."

Donald H. Anderson (10) (10) (10)

Based on the extreme statements, primarily by the right, the average person gets turned off on government in general and would rather watch and listen to some other activity and wish that government would go away. They don't realize they are the government controllers.

Bert Press (7) (10) (10)

Alan Miller (8) (8) (9)

Jan Hively (4) (10) (3)

Question 1: My sense is that people from other states perceive the visible conflict between our governor and the legislature and the court battle over the votes for Senator as reflective of energetic representative democracy -- although not efficient nor effective governance.

Question 2: As described in the summary, the key elements include:  1) dissemination via e-mail of well-written summaries of group interviews by informed citizens of  decision makers and opinion leaders on key topics; and 2) the process for readers to respond quickly via e-mail to a few well-written questions.   What needs to be addressed is the "Then what?" issue....  On a few key issues, the Civic Caucus has integrated information from interviewees with opinions from readers to create a report with recommendations.  How can this material be disseminated to maximize follow through on the recommendations?  

Question 3: I don't think that the approach should be expanded or replicated until the "Then what?" question is answered.   Once the process is honed, my preference would probably be to replicate use of the process in other locales rather than to "include vastly more issues."

Charles Lutz(8) (9) (5)

Bill Hamm (7) (5) (5)

Question 1. Yes, but not because of partisan bickering, rather due to our continued slide toward a central planning model and away from local decision making and control.

Question 2. While it does appear to involve more people in reality what it does is create a second class tier of involvement. Those of us in that second class tier are really not involved in the decision making process but merely responding to the leading way in which many of these questions are put to us. While I agree with the concept of increased involvement, I am not sure by any reasonable assessment that it is clear whether it has made you a more representative body or still a metro dominated think tank trying to justify its conclusions. In my eyes you still fail to reach a level of credibility that would make me give you any more than passing consideration as a legislator or Governor. It is very common for groups of over educated individuals to form groups such as yours to give added credence to their public power and importance with varying success.

Question 3. For what purpose? How would you suggest such an effort be used or misused? Are you a public education group or a public activist group or something else entirely? Is your goal to look good by bringing up more issues or is it to educate and represent the public you seem to claim to serve by pushing for solutions? Do you seek to serve the public, or a much narrower band of special interests and how does the public perceive you on this issue? There are a lot of questions here I sadly see you as an organization dodging. Having been a second class member for a year plus now, I keep hoping for some wider growth across all spectrums and some stronger inclusion and recognition of rural issues and concerns. The majority of such think tanks are biased one way or the other most intentionally, the civic caucus is no different, recognizing and correcting those biases will go a long way to increasing relevance, credibility, and clarity on a state wide level. Just what is it you want to be when you grow up?

Rick Bishop (7) (10) (10)

Glenn Dorfman (5) (7) (5)

Question 1:  We are just becoming more like everyone else. That should be appealing to the sheep!

Question 2: I continue to strongly agree with Bob Dylan’s The times they are a’changin sentiment that older people tend to hold on to power too long rather than turning the reins of power over to younger people earlier. Given the increased velocity of political, economic, and social change, we must allow those with the largest stake to make the decisions that will affect their lives for the longest period of time.  While there is a place for us old duffers (as advisors), life is not a labor union, where seniority equals power. Politics would be significantly revitalized if “mothers and fathers throughout the land” would get out of the way to problems they no longer understand.

Deborah Anderson (8) (5) (8)

John Cairns (5) (9) (5)
I tend to favor doing a few things very well. I would like to spend some time with you after July 1 to see if I can be more involved.

Sue St. Germain (8) (5) (6)

Peter Hennessey (10) (0) (0)

Question 2:  In the spirit of reviving the economy by all constitutional means we can imagine, you must insist people be present in person to participate in your meetings. (Oops, you did do that; what are "internal" meetings? who is qualified to be part of the politburo?)

Question 3:  I propose a semiannual or quarterly week-long convention of the DFL rotated throughout MN at any venue capable of handling the crowds. The advantages are innumerable -- serious benefit to the local economy, fairly spread around the State; entertaining demonstration of how much the conventioneers care for the little people; collaboration only between people who are appropriately motivated and interested in a topic; limitation to topics that are of interest wide-spread enough to attract participants; etc.

James L. Weaver (10) (7) (7)

Al Quie

Question 1:   Political endorsing conventions have evolved so they kill representative democracy more than anything else in politics. Also, herds of citizens wearing t-shirts, crowding the capital, during session is not conducive to congenial disputation.                                                                                                                      

Question 2:  There is no substitute for face to face meetings but citizens need to engage electronically if they are going to learn and express themselves these days.           

Question 3:  Be cautious about diluting your work with too many issues but you could do more with the private sector issues.

David Broden (10) (10) (6)

Question 1:  We in Mn seem to struggling to move ahead and spend a lot of time looking for status quo solutions even with some new innovation on the table--the education legislation is an exception. We seem to be going elsewhere to copy others rather than others coming here to observe our leadership. Even in business we seek support outside the state rather than using our own resources effectively. Too often we are apologetic vs. seeking to get the leadership into the forefront. Part of this is clearly that we have shifted solution central from industry/business and citizens to the government or we have softened the partnership that was so present for years. We also have become much more metro focused rather than a state focused approach --this may be part of the problem. We are concerned about some simple fixes to how the process should work rather than getting more depth into the process at all levels. Bottom line is Mn continues to be among the best states but not at the level we were in the prior years.

Question 2: The media and communication process for all people has shifted and will continue to evolve. The Civic Caucus approach offers a very content rich and relevant approach to civic activity. Expanding the approach to a broader group--reaching statewide--and adding some way to use the Civic Caucus approach to enable face to face meetings or a video approach should be a priority.

Question 3: I will address this as two levels. First the level and focus of the group as currently operating is very effective and to try to expand to a massive size would result in dilution of the focus and effect. The core group focus should remain. I would add a second level that would take what the core does and reach out to a much larger group. A  two level approach maintains the same focus but begins to communicate the needs and actions etc.

Don Fraser (10) (10) (_)

Royce Sanner (7) (10) (0)

Clarence Shallbetter (6) (7) (3)

Question 1:  The challenge is not simply in Minnesota. It appears in most other states and in the federal government.

Question 3:  It's difficult to imagine what larger communications strategy will develop in this era of fragmented public affairs communications. We're having a difficult time trying to imagine what will effectively replace the role of informed journalists looking for stories , especially at the state, regional and local levels that help inform part of the citizenry when they go to vote. 

Lyall Schwarzkopf (10) (10) (7)

Ray Ayotte (5) (10) (7)

Gary Clements (7) (10) (0 or 10)

Question 1:  However, the points of despair and the points of triumph ebb and flow over time. This, too, shall pass.

Question 2:  However, it occurs to me that there is some truth in the old adage that the world is run by those who show up, and you don’t have to show up to participate electronically. It gives folks opportunity to digest wonderful information, and shoot back some thoughts, even as I’m doing now, but it doesn’t require any specific further action.

Question 3:  The wording here is problematic for me because I wouldn’t want to see the Civic Caucus “absorbed” into any other group or entity, so 0. However, I do think that growing the number of participants is important, if we value an educated and thoughtful larger citizenry.  The number of issues should be contained, as it has been, to identify and focus one by one on those things most currently in front of us as a state.

Joe Mansky (10) (10) (10)

Carolyn Ring (7) (10) (5)

Question 1:  That may be temporary as we and everyone else struggle through these economic times.  Right now the only thing most people around the country know about MN is we still do not have a Senator.  

Question 2:  As a participant I really think it is great.  

Question 3: Depends on the plan.
Scott Halstead (10) (10) (7)

Dennis Johnson (5) (5) (5)

Question 1:  It seems that in order to answer that question, there must be some consensus on just what constitutes a "State that demonstrates the best in representative democracy".  For example, you have the ultimate "nanny state" such as California that is first in everything from saving the planet to welfare for illegal immigrants, high taxes, gay rights, heavy regulation, big social programs, etc. etc. Of course, they are massively in debt and only a big Federal bailout can save them from bankruptcy. On the other hand you have a state such as Texas, which values freedom, low taxes, minimal regulation, opportunity, independence, and jobs.  California is shrinking, Texas has produced more jobs in the last few years than all other states combined. Every "nanny state" has massive debts, unemployment, corruption, losses of industry, etc. Opportunity states (few in number) have the opposite. Which is the better example of the best in representative democracy? Minnesota is leaning heavily toward being a "nanny state" but is still in a position to alter course. Isn't the best example of the best in representative democracy that which creates the highest incomes and standards of living for its citizens? The private sector does an infinitely better job of this if left unfettered to grow and succeed.

David Detert (10) (8) (7)

Wayne Jennings (6) (7) (6)

Kent Eklund (6) (10) (5)

State Rep. Andrew Falk (7) (6) (5)

Robert J. Brown (10) (9) (8)

Question 1: The election of Jesse Ventura “shocked the nation”, but not in the way he meant. Friends of mine in D.C. made comments to the effect that they would expect something like that in Mississippi or Louisiana, but not in Minnesota. The current disputed senate election makes people think we are like Florida in our inability to conduct an election. The extreme divisions between the major parties raises serious questions about our ability to govern ourselves, much less be in leader in resolving public policy issues.

Question 2: I think this should be encouraged, but I would hope this is not seen as a replacement for face-to-face meetings. We do need some personal meetings to build constructive relationships which are so lacking in the Minnesota policy area today.

Question 3: I think you are serving a very useful purpose. While it might be good to coordinate with other efforts, I would hate to see what you are doing being be subverted by becoming a part of someone else’s grand design.

Fred Senn (5) (10) (10)
Question 1:  I have no evidence of this.
Question 2 and 3:  I don't know about issues, but the concept of using new social media to broaden engaging policy discussions is wonderful - and should be explored further.

Shirley Heaton (0) (10) (0)

A lot of information to digest this time, so- o -o with my current hectic schedule I'll concentrate only on one suggestion in part 7: Remaining Agenda Items: namely inviting a foundation to finance and write a manual on the Civic Caucus' process. I strongly urge this be explored by a certified grant writer to determine the feasibility of this proposal. About 35 years ago after the Goldwater/Johnson election a couple of my friends, concerned that the country was headed towards a one-party system, was able to successfully tap the 20th Century Fund to bankroll a study which resulted in the publishing of the book Parties, by Alfred Knopf in 1972 (and which, by the way I am re-reading since I sense we are treading the same waters socially and economically which we did back then and I'm curious to reconsider what they discovered during those days).

Note I cited the grant writer be certified since foundations tend to prefer dealing with those who have the credentials to know the ins and outs of 'the game' of applying for funds. (Yes, I'm certified by the Rollins College Philanthropy and Nonprofit Leadership Center, here, in Florida but No, I am not available for the task. Sorry about that cuz the prospect presents a real challenge.)

Meanwhile, look forward to viewing the final strategic plan

Terry Stone (8) (10) (5)

Question 1:  Were it not for California providing protective cover, Minnesota could well be known as the loose canon of the north (løsn kanon av nord). Ya, sure, you betcha.

The Metro area seems to be the source of a lot of fanciful ideas about governance.  It is instructive that states without metro areas, e.g., South Dakota, North Dakota and Wyoming seem to have straightforward government. Makes you wonder.


Question 3: The dispositive question is whether the Civic Caucus work product is scalable. The product may be like bratwurst; wonderful in the two-ounce size, but a bit much in the 100-pound size. Everything, from Cheerios to shovels, has an ideal size. The present scale of Civic Caucus gives me what feels like a personal and meaningful contribution experience.


Currently, we seem to propagate more actionable excellent ideas than could be implemented in a lifetime--- on every issue.  The supply side is solid. There is always a need for growth on the demand side. To help us wade through this issue, we might ask ourselves whether a Vikings game might be improved with twice as many players on the field.  The affect of twice the number of fans is more clearly desirable.


Bright Dornblaser (10) (10) (5)

Question 3:  Neutral response because I do not know what the idea means and the effect on the current CC functioning.


Christine Brazelton (6) (9) (6)

The League of Women Voters does a great deal of research on various issues, but is losing membership as many younger women have less time for their traditional process of unit meetings to learn and discuss issues.  Perhaps there is room for a partnership of your email meeting methods with their in depth research.

Question 1:  This is in flux.  We have been the butt of jokes, (during the Ventura administration) and based on public comments by people like Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann, but there are many leaders in our state who are well respected on a
national level.


Question 2: This process is effective for getting more people involved.  My only hope is that background information and non partisan research can be included or attached to the summaries so that opinions are based on more than the summaries of the interviews.

Question 3: Perhaps not absorbed, but partnerships are helpful, and my response to question number 2 bears repeating here.


Paul Magnuson (8) (10) (7)



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, Marianne Curry, 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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