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 Response Page - Durenberger Interview -      
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These comments are responses to the statements listed below,
which were generated in regard to the 
Dave Durenberger  Interview of

Policymakers would benefit from more reports with recommendations


Former U.S. Senator Dave Durenberger believes people in local public leadership positions today are as qualified or better qualified than people who held those positions 40 or 50 years ago. He does not believe the same to be true of elected officials at the state and national levels, because of ideological partisan politics, perennial elections and campaign financing.

He asserts that some of the institutional arrangements created in Minnesota in the 1960s and 1970s aren't working as well 40 or 50 years later. The Civic Caucus has an experienced membership, he says, who owe it to today's local leaders to help make these institutions function more effectively in what is now a different world. 

Durenberger says the Civic Caucus fulfills an important educational role by broadly distributing summaries of the discussions it convenes with people with ideas on important public policy issues. It's also important, he believes, for the Civic Caucus to put out reports with policy recommendations. But Civic Caucus members, he says, could also make a difference by using the instincts, expertise and wisdom of their years of public-policy experience to inform and mentor people currently in local and state public office.

He contends that passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) might bring a greater focus on the importance of strong local government in creating healthy communities, with its goal of reducing the 40 percent of health care costs that lie in the social determinants of health.

For the complete interview summary see: Durenberger interview

Response Summary: Average response ratings shown below are simply the mean of all readers’ zero-to-ten responses to the ideas proposed and should not be considered an accurate reflection of a scientifically structured poll.

To assist the Civic Caucus in planning upcoming interviews, readers rated these statements about the topic on a scale of 0 (strongly disagree) to 5 (neutral) to 10 (strongly agree): 

1. Topic is of value. (7.9 average response) The interview summarized today provides valuable information or insight.

2. Further study warranted. (8.1 average response) It would be helpful to schedule additional interviews on this topic.

Readers rated the following points discussed during the meeting on a scale of 0 (strongly disagree) to 5 (neutral) to 10 (strongly agree): 

3. Leadership today as good or better. (5.8 average response) People in public leadership positions today are as qualified as or better qualified than people in those positions 40 or 50 years ago.

4. Policy-making impaired by money issue. (8.1 average response) Policymaking is grievously disconnected today because of the prominence of money and the Supreme Court’s interpretation of freedom of speech.

5. Civic Caucus should mentor officials. (7.9 average response) People involved in the Civic Caucus could make a difference by mentoring people in local and state public office.

6. Civic Caucus should emphasize recommendations. (7.1 average response) The Civic Caucus should devote more time preparing its own recommendations for change in public policy and less time reporting on interviews with public policy thinkers.

7. Ideas from outside government needed. (7.6 average response) Elected officials are more likely to take action when more proposals for change are advanced by nongovernmental groups.

Individual Responses:

Dave Broden (7.5) (10) (10) (0) (10) (7.5) (7.5)

1. Topic is of value. Good general overview of the role of public policy groups vs. public and private sector.

2. Further study warranted. The number and styles of public policy organizations is complex and somewhat mixed in objectives and outcomes. An effective dialogue to sort out how public policy dialogue should and can … provide policy options for public decision is critical to the effectiveness of government and the public-private partnership. MN is a leader but is stuck in somewhat of a do-loop [with] little resulting action focus. How do we exit the do-loop?

3. Leadership today as good or better. This is true with the exception that public leaders perhaps rely too much on staff vs. the public policy leader doing his/her own thinking. Second, the topics of the dialogue seem to have evolved significantly which has shifted the focus away from priority policy and vision topics to special-interest topics.

4. Policy-making impaired by money issue. This is an excuse for the barriers to progress. Money is not the issue. [Shift] the focus to what the need and problems are first and then address funding and the influence of money and the dialogue will change.

5. Civic Caucus should mentor officials. Good idea, but now we need the process, etc.

6. Civic Caucus should emphasize recommendations. Civic Caucus balance is good-- a bit more of "so what" in each summary may be [needed].

7. Ideas from outside government needed. This seems to be the case, but proposals need to be evaluated on the merit regardless of where they are from.

Anonymous (10) (10) (2.5) (10) (10) (10) (10)

Fred Senn (10) (7.5) (5) (10) (7.5) (7.5) (10)

Don Anderson (10) (10) (7.5) (10) (7.5) (5) (7.5)

3. Leadership today as good or better. People are just as qualified but the use of these qualifications is what is questioned.

7. Ideas from outside government needed. However, nongovernmental groups outside of corporations are becoming less and less able to function because of lack of interest, i.e. Citizens Forums in Roseville. Organizations such as Lions, Kiwanis, Elks are having a difficult time in recruiting new members. This leaves only corporate structures in a position to make or comment of governmental issues.

Scott Halstead (2.5) (10) (2.5) (10) (5) (5) (5)

2. Further study warranted. Refinement of a process communicating with Senate and House Committees and State of Minnesota Staff Officials should be accomplished along with perhaps Public Television.

3. Leadership today as good or better. In the metro area, I fail to see that leaders look at the big picture. At the State and Federal level there are many candidates for office that lack qualifications and experience to be effective legislators.

4. Policy-making impaired by money issue. One of the worst decisions ever made by the Supreme Court. Perhaps it is time for a single 10-year term and specific time frames for submission of candidates’ names and qualifications from a committee such as the State of Minnesota and a time frame Senate approval of the President's nominee.

5. Civic Caucus should mentor officials. I think that mentoring would be very challenging. Communications through the public airways to citizens on important issues and meeting with staff and elected officials with responsibility for that issue.

6. Civic Caucus should emphasize recommendations. Unless the Civic Caucus has a lot more people/resources, there needs to be limits on its works. There probably needs to be volunteer presentation support and other assistance. The Citizen League proposal for the Met Council was wonderful work, but the State implementation is a disaster. You can't have change in policy when a new Governor appoints a new council. The Governor doesn't control other communities through appointing leadership. The council needs to represent the entire community. See the legislative auditor's report on the subject. Minnesota has terrible transportation management. That includes air, rail, pipeline, roads and bridges and transit.

7. Ideas from outside government needed. The medical marijuana issue certainly was a successful effort. Campaign reform and redistricting are essential to get politicians to respond to their entire constituency. Otherwise the parties and [money] make the calls.

Vici Oshiro (10) (10) (5) (10) (7.5) (7.5) (10)

1. Topic is of value. Please keep in touch with Dave even though they escape to California half of the year.

2. Further study warranted. See comment #1

3. Leadership today as good or better. Don't know enough of these people to make a reasonable judgment.

4. Policy-making impaired by money issue. But not always. We do manage to get some things done.

5. Civic Caucus should mentor officials. You can only mentor people who recognize their need for such and ask for the support. Didn't help me much to realize ex post facto how much mentoring I needed in several areas including both civic involvement and work.

6. Civic Caucus should emphasize recommendations. Sometimes the conversation may inspire someone else to pursue it further. Keep a good balance.

7. Ideas from outside government needed. And the reputation of the Citizens League helped and helps enormously. How much longer can we make that contribution?

Kevin Edberg (10) (7.5) (7.5) (10) (7.5) (7.5) (5)

3. Leadership today as good or better. I agree with Durenberger's assessment that the strength of local government officials is as good or better than 30+ years ago. I also agree that the quality of leadership at state and federal levels is not as good. I attribute a part of this to our public fascination with "politics" (e.g. the horse race and the discussion of "who's up and who's down") vs. our understanding and practice about distinctions of "governance" and policy.

4. Policy-making impaired by money issue. Citizen's United suggests that corporations have freedom of speech. Hobby Lobby suggests that closely held companies enjoy protection of freedom of/for religion. The discussions around foreign inversions (Medtronics/Covidien) ought to raise questions about the existence/status of corporate "citizenship". Bill George wrote on this topic in a piece in the Star Tribune some years ago. On many topics, he might be a useful candidate for a future interview.

Chuck Lutz (9) (8) (6) (9) (10) (9) (8)

Tom Spitznagle (6) (5) (4) (6) (6) (9) (9)

David Detert (4) (6) (2) (10) (8) (8) (4)

Hans Sandbo (7) (7) (8) (5) (7) (8) (9)

Wayne Jennings (8) (8) (8) (9) (9) (8) (8)

He gave good counsel and we should ponder these thoughts. We might consider ways and means for influencing policy even more. 

Marianne Curry (na) (na) (na) (na) (na) (na) (na)

I believe that the Supreme Court decision governing campaign finance will become the ruination of democracy: government of the people, by the people, etc.  States are in a position to do something about that issue; and the Civic Caucus should push for legislation with a question posed to our followers for signatures supporting limits and requiring disclosure by names of individuals: not just hiding behind euphemistic titles and corporate names.  This could make a dramatic difference in the way campaigns are conducted and the amount of money spent on slamming the opposition without discussion of the real issues before us.  I urge your board to consider this as an action agenda and seek sponsors actively.

Bright Dornblaser (10) (8) (8) (10) (5) (4) (7)

Mina Harrigan (10) (10) (4) (10) (8) (5) (8)

Reporting on interviews, yes.  Preparing recommendations, yes.  But the weak link is getting action on the recommendations.

Lyall Schwarzkopf (6) (6) (5) (3) (7) (5) (7)

Paul Hauge (7) (7) (8) (6) (9) (9) (9)

Roger A. Wacek (na) (na) (5) (10) (10) (5) (5)


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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