Saturday, July 17, 2004

An open letter to Arcata City Councilmember Elizabeth Conner

Dear Councilmember Conner, 

At the July 7th Arcata City Council meeting you expressed concerns about the No Confidence resolution and promised to work on an alternate version.  Now that you have provided a draft (below) I must thank you for keeping your word and joining me in efforts to realize the fundamental changes in our electoral system necessary for a truly participatory democracy.  Please send me any revisions that may occur so that the GuvWurld blog can continue the transparent public service of keeping our community informed and participating. As I read it now, it appears we both advocate:
Knowing that we share these goals makes it seem like no matter what language gets passed we will be lauded for so directly addressing these matters at this moment in time.  I invite you to join me in taking an additional and even more meaningful step.  Let's devote ourselves to enacting these changes rather than merely calling for them.  Only one of these is the real goal.  The other is an alternative that echoes the very problem we have been discussing; a kind of passivity that allows the myth of democracy in America to continue.  We have already agreed that action must be taken, rather than just encouraged.

Your resolution is called "Building Confidence."  I like your phrase and favor adding it within the body of the No Confidence resolution.  You are saying explicitly what is most clearly implicit in the No Confidence resolution.   Conversely, by overtly stating there is NO BASIS for confidence, we are directly addressing the unstated underpinning of your resolution.  I hope I haven't misunderstood you, but as far as I can tell, there is still nobody who wants to take the position that there IS a BASIS for confidence.  There is currently no foundation for us to "build" upon.  What better position for us to take than one that is unopposed? 
In addition, to help us achieve our aim, for three months the No Confidence Movement has grown through acceptance of this paradigm.  It equates with a tag line: we are taking responsibility for not allowing ourselves to be lied to anymore.  If the extent of our accomplishment is calling for change that doesn't occur, elections will continue to be untrustworthy.  Nobody will argue directly that we should allow ourselves to be lied to, so let's consider the net effect here.
In sharing this letter openly it is my hope that community members will understand the subtle differences in our otherwise united front on electoral reform.  Ideally you will be hearing from more of them in the next several days and especially at
City Hall next Wed (7/21 7pm) when the Council convenes.  In the ongoing GuvWurld spirit of public service, below I have also provided contact numbers for all the Councilmembers. 
Again, Councilmember Conner, I want to sincerely thank you for bringing this degree of  scrutiny so far into the public spotlight.  If it is ultimately to matter, our leadership, yours and mine, must deliver results.  Please revisit the
No Confidence resolution as the strategy most likely to bring us to our shared goals.  
In Respect and Peace
Robert Ornelas, Mayor - (707) 822-5953
Michael Machi, Vice Mayor - (707) 269-0394
Connie Stewart - (707) 822-5953
Elizabeth Conner - (707) 441-9776
David Meserve - (707) 441-9846
"Building Confidence Resolution"
Whereas the City Council of the City of Arcata wants voters to participate in and have confidence in democratic elections; and
Whereas voting exclusively by electronic and computer voting machines without a paper record could be subject to, or perceived to be subject to, manipulations; and
Whereas widespread disenfranchisement of eligible Black, Hispanic and college-student voters by voter roll purging occurred during the 2000 presidential elections; and
Whereas winner-take-all elections can serve to limit representation of diverse political points of view while instant run-off voting would allow for more democratic elections for less expense; and

Whereas campaign finance reform legislation is needed to limit the influence of large corporations and other private interests on U.S. elections; and
Whereas it is vitally important that citizens who vote in the United States know that their vote will be fairly counted;
Now therefore be it resolved that the City Council of the City of Arcata does hereby support and encourage citizens to get involved in efforts to enact campaign finance reform, instant run-off voting, proportional representation and other efforts to promote democracy and increase confidence in U.S. elections.
Be it further resolved that the City Council of the City of Arcata does hereby express our grave concerns about purging of voter rolls leading to further disenfranchisement of Black, Hispanic and other voters and about the use of electronic voting without a paper trail.
Be it further resolved that that the City Council of the City of Arcata does hereby express our appreciation to the California Secretary of State, Kevin Shelley, for excluding the use of electronic and computer voting machines in California.
Be it further resolved that the City Council of the City of Arcata encourages all eligible citizens to register and vote.



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