December 18, 2011

People's Convention of Florida: Political Reform Working Group

My plan for Saturday at the People's Convention was to drop in on each working group and videotape each of them in action. With imperfect timing, this proved difficult. I would hit one group mid-stride and not understand the context of a discussion. I would hit another group as they were trying to iron out their process. As a consequence, I settled in with the Electoral Reform section of the Political Reform Working Group. I was impressed with the breadth of knowledge, the level of passion, and the willingness to hammer out proposals in this Working Group. With just hours to come to agreement, the group ironed out many details of many diverse proposals.

I had hoped to capture the depth of discussion of the Electoral Reform group, but instead I captured the breadth of discussion.

Our fabulous minutes taker wrote down the ideas on which we reached consensus as demands. This was because he had to write it down in some way. To be clear, while I was there, there was no decision as whether these were demands, objectives, ideals, or something else entirely. Almost no time was spent discussing whether an item should be an amendment to the state Constitution, a bill, a non-binding resolution, or something else entirely. As you review the following list, consider that such language is inexact. Also keep in mind that these are the results of a Working Group. This set of proposals was not approved by the General Assembly.

  • VOTE: "We demand that all state elected representatives post public appearances prior to the appearance and post private meetings (including those in attendance of the meetings) on their official state website. We demand a repeal of the legislative body’s exemption to the Sunshine law."
  • VOTE: “We demand all votes to be made physically on paper ballots. These paper votes should be available for the public to see. We demand a ban on all privately controlled electronic voting practices as well. Any software used must be open-source.”
  • VOTE: “We demand a Florida state amendment to hold publicly financed election campaigns for Florida state officials”. This is directed at getting money out of politics.
  • VOTE: “We demand a Florida state amendment to institute a state holiday for labor whereby every 2 years THE OFFICIAL state/national Election Day is a holiday.” This is directed at increasing voter turnout.
  • VOTE: “We demand that those who are born in Florida are registered to vote at birth, but eligible to vote at 18”
  • VOTE: “We demand that voter registration can take place on the day of voting, at the actual voting booth. Those who are not registered before arriving at the voting facility should have the ability to register at the actual time of voting.”
  • VOTE: “We support senate bill 552 (the Ethical practices act of 2012)” This is legislation that would prohibit members of the FL legislature and their families from receiving financial gains from those companies that they are regulating.”
  • VOTE: “We demand our state legislature to pass a non-binding resolution to support the over-turning of ‘Citizen’s United vs. FEC’”
  • VOTE: “Require more transparency in lobbying registration and the way they report their contributions” *(wording inexact)

Is it time for a list of demands? Is the Occupy Movement ready for that stage? The folks in the Electoral Reform group were certainly ready to start this process. Consequently, I think now is a great time to start. However, I must also be clear that the priorites of the Movement are likely to keep changing. In fact, due to the huge number of proposals generated by all the working groups on Saturday, each working group was subsequently asked to pull together just ONE proposal for initial presentation to the General Assembly. The final proposals that reached consensus during the General Assembly of the People's Occupation of Florida have yet to be published. Once published, they will go back to the local Occupy General Assemblies to see which proposals receive consensus there.

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