Ned Crosby and
John Hottinger propose a new citizen based organization be created to
help address Minnesota's structural problems with its state budget.
Crosby and Hottinger propose a randomly selected, 1,000-person
Minnesota Citizens Assembly, carefully selected by age, education,
gender, geographic location, race and political attitudes. A citizensí
"jury" would be selected from this pool to hold hearings, highlight
budgetary issues and propose solutions to the Governor, the
Legislature, the Citizens Assembly and to people throughout the state.
Large financial contributions would be sought for a statewide
For the complete
interview summary see:
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 Crosby and Hottinger.
ratings shown below are simply the mean of all readersí zero-to-ten
responses to the ideas proposed and should not be considered an
accurate reflection of a scientifically structured poll.
(4.3 average response)
The absence of
credible grassroots proposals is a significant reason for Minnesota's
failure to address long-term problems in its state budget.
(4.1 average response)
Citizen Assembly with 1,000 persons, randomly and demographically
selected throughout the state, should be created to propose solutions.
(4.9 average response)
philanthropic contributions in the millions of dollars will be needed
by such an assembly to effectively communicate with the Governor,
Legislature and the broader public.
Dave Broden (10) (10) (5)
Grassroots Lacking. The lack of "true citizen bottoms up" input and
action to an approach is definitely a weakness in the civic
involvement process in Minnesota and across the nation. It appears
that far too many of the proposals and ideas come only from "experts"
who are existing only for the purpose of studying issues and coming up
with ideas and most likely have no real life interaction. This does
not allow the citizen feedback or reaction to proposals to evolve
effectively or build in ideas from the people. While this is a very
prairie populist approach it has shown that it works because it
connects people with the process. Currently proposals come primarily
from the elected officials, their professional staff, study or
foundation groups etc. The few that are from the citizens often get
rolled over by the professionals. We should not have professionals
defining the answers only tailoring the input and shaping the final
content--citizen input will add a new and fresh direction.
Citizen Assembly Needed. Some of the best ideas in Minnesota
government evolved when Minnesota had what was described as a citizen
legislature. This is not possible or even worth considering in the
21st century. There is a need to have a forum to capture the citizen
input --the idea of a concept such as the citizen assembly is
intriguing in that it provides a minimum structure on a statewide
basis in which people can participate in the dialogue on key issues
and there is a built in focus to the organization.
Contributions Necessary. The issue of how to form, evolve and
maintain such an organization will require discussion, debate, and
consideration of how to achieve the structure and capability to make
such a group work effectively. Certainly funding will be needed but
how much and how it will work and who will be involved must be
addressed. I would not throw the concept away because funding cannot
be found. Start small; use prototypes; connect with other specific
groups; leverage other capabilities; use the social networks. All can
be applied in some way.
Anonymous (0) (0) (0)
Vici Oshiro (2.5) (5) (10)
Contributions Necessary. What we need (are) legislators with the
wisdom to confront the problem honestly and the guts to advance a
realistic budget. Minnesota CA might help educate the public, but
legislators and a governor can and should do that job. This will be
more effective if they manage to do it together. That means
Michael Martens (0) (0) (0)
Grassroots Lacking. This is a back-handed way of saying that the
Civic Caucus has been wasting its time. That some new group/body
other that the Civic Caucus and groups like it needs to be formed to
do the job that the Civic Caucus and groups like it are unable to
do. If existing groups cannot get the governor and legislature to
make "hard choices" that need to be made; why will this new group be
Citizen Assembly Needed. Minnesota does not need another group. It
has far too many groups already. It needs for about 25% to 50% of the
existing groups to be disbanded or combined with other existing
groups. The problem is not knowing what to do. The problem is
overcoming the lobbying of special interest groups and groups that
want to keep the status quo. Examples: The Indian tribes spend
lots of money on lobbying to prevent the expansion of non-Indian
gaming. Non-Indian gaming could raise "lots of money" that could be
spent on early childhood education and repairing roads and bridges
etc. Private industry has eliminated defined benefit retirement
plans. All public employee unions still have defined benefits
retirements plans. Defined benefits retirement plans should be
eliminated for public employees, one can be sure that all public
unions will very vigorously fight this.
Contributions Necessary. The governor and legislature should respond
(to) private citizens asking for change if enough citizens ask for the
same change. Because the Governor and legislature know that they will
not be re-elected if they ignore the will of the people
Bob White (5) (5) (7.5)
Carl Scheider (5) (7.5) (7.5)
Citizen Assembly Needed. It's a good idea, and excellent idea, but .
. . it will cost way too much and the elected folks will likely ignore
Contributions Necessary. Yep - and it won't be worth it as the
legislature will ignore it. See M. Scott Peck, A Different Drum.
The real trick is to get the elected representatives to trust each
other. Peck found out that it takes at least 3 days of daily
interaction before any trust develops. Try that - put them all in a
resort for 4 days, with workshops and ideas that would be done to the
citizensí jury - and they will begin trusting - and they will have to
do what they think they should do. And I bet we can find people to
contribute to that idea.
Don Anderson (7.5) (7.5) (10)
Citizen Assembly Needed. It is worth a try. The present governmental
setup doesn't look to realistic solutions, only what will bless the
ones' who financed their campaigns.
Contributions Necessary. Is it possible to get contributions from the
present campaign funders?
Peter Hennessey (2.5) (2.5) (2.5)
Grassroots Lacking. The two qualifiers, "credible" and "grassroots"
make this question meaningless. Let's say the "grassroots" still have
some common sense and point out that the State simply must live within
its means. That is, cut expenses back til they are covered by current
tax receipts. That idea will be dismissed as not "credible" because
the State has billions and billions in unfunded liabilities and
contractual commitments for pensions, welfare, education, etc. You
can't escape the fact that good ideas come from good fundamental
assumptions, good philosophies; and vice versa.
Citizen Assembly Needed. So sorry, you lost me at "1000" and
definitely at "randomly selected [pool], carefully selected by..."
Whatever you are trying to do, your statistically valid population
sample will get biased by one simple fact; the participants will have
to want and be able to serve. Are you proposing to dissolve the
Legislature and replace it with this MCA?
Contributions Necessary. Says who? Are we to believe that a committee
of this size could not make news, attract enough attention to get on
the news and talk programs for free? That a governor and other
politicians would ignore such an assembly?
Dennis L. Johnson (0) (0) (0)
Grassroots Lacking. The unskilled, unprincipled, and inept people we
elect (are) the reason for the failure to address long-term problems.
They have no interest beyond the next election and act accordingly.
Citizen Assembly Needed. Selected by who? We already have a
citizensí assembly - it is called "voting".
Contributions Necessary. These millions of dollars of contributions
can better be used elsewhere - why do we need a parallel government
with no legislative powers, when all we need to do is stop electing
progressives who love to spend other people's money until it is all
gone. The problem is not the lack of ideas, it is the lack of
D. (Bill) Hamm (0) (0) (0)
Grassroots Lacking. There are plenty of grass roots proposals now on
the table but no one in power is listening.
Citizen Assembly Needed. Just another group of Socialistic idiots
trying to further empower their inner core. I most certainly would not
trust these to lefties to select my demographically random
representation. This is total political ignorance.
Contributions Necessary. With the present socialist bias built into
the boards of so many of these foundations that you would be using to
finance this, it undermines any ideal of evenhandedness.
Anonymous (2.5) (2.5) (5)
John Sievert (0) (0) (0)
Grassroots Lacking. It's not that we don't know what to do it's that
our legislators and population lack the will to do it.
Citizen Assembly Needed. We have an assembly to do this called the
Legislature. Why do we need yet another one but one of people
uneducated in the problem?
Contributions Necessary. The whole thing is a bad idea. In fact,
it's a horrible idea. We have an elected body that we have put in
place to do the job. They need to sit down and do it. Yes, that
takes courage and it's about time they showed some. This is the worst
idea I've heard in a long, long, long time.
Bruce Lundeen (7.5) (7.5) (7.5)
Anonymous (0) (0) (0)
Citizen Assembly Needed. We already have such an assembly - the state
legislature. Creating a shadow legislature will not solve the problem
and is a step toward initiative and referendum.
Contributions Necessary. I organized a national political initiative
of 39,000 people online using free or low-cost tools. Again, it seems
a more cumbersome and larger recreation of an already existing
Mina Harrigan (6) (3) (5)
Plenty of groups
(are) currently attempting to influence state government
decision-making---we need to encourage/facilitate them working
together--not just create a new one.
Tom Neuville (1) (4) (9)
I don't think the
assembly would aid the process any more than current polling and
Will Shapira (na) (na) (na)
according to his/her ability, to each according to his/her need." I am
all for Dayton's "tax the rich proposals." The rich take the most out
of this terribly imbalanced society so the rich should put the most
back in. How about a wealth tax as they have in Norway and other
countries; it is spelled out in thenation.com Dec. 13. If it can work
at a national level, it can work at a state level. It's long past
time for the rich to pay their fair share of the state's most pressing
needs including dealing with the $6.2b shortfall. You see what eight
years of neo-conservatism from the statehouse did to us; give Dayton's
proposals a chance and urge him to extend them much farther
ideologically. We have a great socialist tradition to draw upon. It's
time to exhume it and breath new life into it!
Barbara Glaser (na) (na) (na)
Citizens League take on this project?
It seems a shame to create and fundraise for yet another organization.
William Kuisle (1) (1) (0)
This is a Republic
where we elect folks to represent us. Not a citizen's jury. The
thought that a new PAC would start beating a drum and running ads
scares me. Elections have become confusing enough.
Bill Jung (4) (3) (5)
I have suspicions
about what is proposed. I must ask, Who will choose the participants?
Will the PAC be non-partisan? Will the proposed advertising turn out
to be self serving and counter productive like that of Education
Minnesota? Will those who give the largest donations end up having
influence as to policy? History shows this to be true. Over all, I
smell a fish. It has happened time and time again, the agenda with the
dollars tends to become accepted whether it is good or bad. How much
can a voter get from a thirty second commercial? I say not much at
With the arrival of the Tea Party on the political scene, do we not
present, a groundswell of grassroots activism? Anyone who knows
the design of our political system knows we are meant to be
represented by a
citizen legislature. We do not need another layer added to it.
I agree that we need more citizens active in politics, but also
believe we have
too many PAC's pushing narrow, self-serving agendas upon us and our
Educated voters are the key to success in Minnesota. Education in both
and state constitutions, and the history and beliefs of our nationís
Fathers is essential to an educated voter. This should be first and
any effort to build a better Minnesota. Beyond that, we as voters need
candidates for office willing to view first and foremost, whether any
piece of legislation conform to the Constitution for the betterment of
as a whole.
(5) (5) (0)
Roger A Wacek (10) (10) (5)
Fred Senn (5) (3) (10)
idea, but not one I would support. The concept of informed political
will is important. We already have two great groups, Citizens League
and your own Civic Caucus doing the homework. Give them $500 million
for communications and see what happens. The problem with this concept
is that a randomly selected "jury" will not have the interest or
background to get to a sound proposal quickly.
Robert J. Brown (5) (0) (0)
This looks to me
to be an effort to put a lot of money into this Citizens Jury program
that still will not have any significant impact on the legislative
process. What is needed is a serious multi-partisan effort to get
citizens to participate in the political caucuses and primary
elections. As long as the two major parties are getting narrower and
narrower in selecting candidates and developing platforms these
political science exercises will have no impact.
Chuck Lutz (6) (7) (10)
John Milton (10) (10) (10)
Leanne Kunze (10) (0) (10)
On first glance,
itís a great idea. The Minnesota Legislature is supposed to be a
Citizen Legislature...maybe we should fix that discrepancy first
before spending additional public funds on something many would see as
"growing government." Campaign finance reform, reining in special
interests and real consequences for violating public trust would allow
for that cross-section of citizens to have faith in entering the race
and serving in their Citizen Legislature. As far as productive Public
Service Announcements...if you get special interests out of media
(including their corporate influence) then they will be trusted to
provide real information from several perspectives and allow the
average citizen to engage in thinking for themselves and the greater
Peter Heegaard (10) (10) (10)
Itís a tall order
but I think worth it, so I give it a 10 all the way.
CamA. Gordon (2) (7) (7)
John Nowicki (0) (0) (nc)
another lobby group
Larry and Ann Schluter (6) (8) (7)
idea. With such a large problem it would be interesting to see how
this would work.
Scott Halstead (2) (2) (2)
Establishment of a
citizen assembly may not be very representative of the citizens of
Minnesota. It would take a lot of money and the sources of the funds
(are) likely to create more problems. I would prefer that a report
card of the Governorís and legislatureís performance on the primary
issues be established followed by communication through various media
Anonymous (na) (na) (na)
Did anybody ask
these guys (a) whether 'budget problems' means the coming biennium or
the longer-term balancing of revenues and expenditure; and (b) whether
their notion of "solving the problem" includes any
other-ways-of-doing-things as well as just cutting-and-taxing?
In general this has the same problem as the current Citizens League
efforts. It doesn't have a way to introduce any new thinking into the
discussion. It's: Haul out all the known ideas; ask people which they
prefer. The CL is doing this currently with transportation: "Do you
favor more roads/cars or more LRT?"
An important question, I guess, is how to get any new ideas introduced
into these public-discussions . . . since groups like MCA and the CL
continue to promote this process.
Obvious the old CL process had a way, but staffing is hard to come by
On the other hand, information is a lot more accessible these days:
I'm not sure some work by volunteers couldn't see beyond the
current/conventional opinion on a number of these questions.
At any rate: I do think these folks need to get challenged on this.
Chuck Slocum (5) (8) (5)
Grassroots Lacking. Very difficult
to gain consensus here. The long-term difficulty of the problem and
its complexity are also major factors.
Citizen Assembly Needed. Agreed;
little to lose and lots to gain.
Contributions Necessary. No doubt,
to implement this idea it will cost money but I need more information
about how millions of dollars will be needed to make the exercise
Thanks for this
report. The Citizens Jury idea has real value and could be most
helpful hereÖtoo late for 2011 session. There are very tough choices
that must be framedÖthe up front buy in of elected officials and the
General Public is essential to have any kind of an impact. Thinking
through the next decade would be helpful in the 2013 and beyond
Quie (0) (0) (0)
Rick Bishop (7) (5) (7)
Might be a good
idea, yet isn't that why we elect officials...politics aside?
Wayne Jennings (8) (9) (5)
Give it a try. The present is not working now.
Terry Stone (0) (0) (0)
Ideas, both good
and bad are in surplus sitting on dusty academic shelves and policy
analyst's file cabinets around the state. There are enough solid
political ideas on the Civic Caucus website to run seven earth-sized
planets with a balanced budget, a National Park and two wind turbines
for each citizen and no poverty.
A citizen assembly cannot be selected both randomly and
demographically. Would we also select them for problem-solving skills,
the ability to read, leadership skills and a fundamental understanding
of political science?
How can one select for race, but ignore religion and culture? Who will
represent the apathetic?
Citizens cannot be screened and selected for political attitude
because (among other reasons) it's a dynamic phenomenon that is
perturbed by the very process in which the citizens are asked to
participate. The citizenís jury that became disoriented and mentally
compromised after five days, then decided to tax themselves to solve
the budget deficit demonstrated this. Imagine if they had holed up for
ten days. Clearly we would be talking cannibalism.
Let's just use the Tea Party as our Citizens Assembly; they seem to
have randomly and demographically selected themselves and they seem to
be having considerable success while making welcome waves. They don't
ask for grant money and they communicate fairly well; and they write
well--I've seen their signs.
Bright Dornblaser (2) (1) (1)
Tom Swain (7) (2) (5)
and potential solutions are too complex in my judgment for this kind
of undertaking. Furthermore, special interest would torpedo the
juryís recommendations. What's needed is top business/public
leadership for the cause. Find a couple of Win Wallin, Chuck Denny,
or Ken Dayton to take on the problem.
Carolyn Ring (4) (3) (8)
We do have
representative government. Citizens should be encouraged to
communicate with their representatives. I am not convinced an
assembly of 1,000 persons, structured as explained is a viable answer.
Shirley Heaton (10) (10) (10)
because I see the same situation here, in Florida. As for the concern
that the same people participate in gatherings such as Town Hall
Meetings, I wouldn't worry about that. My past experience in Community
Relations proved that it is always the locality 'brokers' who
influence the others so the 'trick' is to get them to promote the
correct message. I'm certain I join others in watching this effort
Tom Spitznagle (3) (4) (5)