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Government & Politics

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A Green Grassroots Revolution

Bill McAuliffe. Minneapolis-St. Paul Star Tribune, April 22, 2007.

Nan Skelton at the University of Minnesota brought this article to our attention, which she says is a great local story that shows the Mayors in St. Paul and Minneapolis beginning to make the paradigm shift to a culture of citizen-government partnership. The subtitle of this article is "It's called global warming, but cities and towns, including the Twin Cities, are waging the war."

Resource Link: http://www.startribune.com/462/story/1137316.html

A Guide to Participatory Budgeting

Brian Wampler.

Participatory Budgeting (PB) programs are innovative policymaking processes. Citizens are directly involved in making policy decisions. Forums are held throughout the year so that citizens have the opportunity to allocate resources, prioritize broad social policies, and monitor public spending. These programs are designed incorporate citizens into the policymaking process, spur administrative reform, and distribute public resources to low-income neighborhoods. Download the 32-page guide directly from the NCDD website.

Resource Link: http://www.thataway.org/exchange/files/docs/Wampler_PBGuide.pdf

A Public Voice '01: Money and Politics

Milton B. Hoffman Productions.

Each year, many public television stations around the nation air an hour-long program that features U.S. citizens deliberating in National Issues Forums around the nation. The programs also feature distinguished panels of nationally known political leaders, commentators and journalists meeting at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. to reflect on what this 'public voice' may mean in setting direction for America. The topics are different each year.

Resource Link: http://www.nifi.org

A Public Voice '98: Governing America

Milton B. Hoffman Productions.

Each year, many public television stations around the nation air an hour-long program that features U.S. citizens deliberating in National Issues Forums around the nation. The programs also feature distinguished panels of nationally known political leaders, commentators and journalists meeting at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. to reflect on what this 'public voice' may mean in setting direction for America. The topics are different each year.

Resource Link: http://www.nifi.org

A Simple, Open, Scalable and Distributed Platform for Public Discourse

Thomas F. Gordon, Fraunhofer FOKUS.

There is some current debate about the relationships between e-democracy, e-government and, more recently, e-governance. The most widely accepted view, and the view the authors accept for the purposes of this paper, is that e-democracy is a subfield of e-government. One of the main issues in the field of e-democracy, and one that the authors discuss in this paper, is how to best use information and communications technology to facilitate public consultation, deliberation, participation or 'engagement' in policy-making processes such as urban planning.

Resource Link: http://www.lri.jur.uva.nl/~winkels/eGov2002/Gordon.pdf

A View From the City: Local Government Perspectives on Neighborhood-based Governance in Community-Building Initiatives

Robert Chaskin and Ali Abunimah. Chapin Hall Center for Children at the University of Chicago, 1997.

A study of efforts by private foundations and others to spur the use neighborhood-based governance structures to support communities' overall development suggests they have met with general acceptance by local governments. However, some limitations remain in the eyes of public officials.

Resource Link: http://www.chapinhall.org/article_abstract.aspx?ar=1289&L2=63&L3=108

Against Deliberation

Lynn M. Sanders. Political Theory, 25, 347-364., 1997.

Deliberation, which has become a democratic standard in American political settings, has also an undemocratic appeal. Foremost among the undemocratic charges against deliberation is that its proponents cannot guarantee equality of opportunity to those who want to participate in it. Furthermore, critics of deliberation argue that the problem of ordinary citizens committing excesses when they participate in deliberative processes must be addressed. The advantages and disadvantages of deliberation are evaluated and an alternative model for democratic politics is proposed.

Resource Link: http://faculty.virginia.edu/lsanders/SB617_01.pdf

Americans for Informed Democracy's Organizers Toolkit - Reforming the U.N. for a Safer World

On March 21, 2005, UN Secretary General Kofi Annan presented a new report for sweeping reform in the United Nations, In Larger Freedom. In his report, Annan calls for a collective security system to fight terrorism, an enlarged Security Council, a revamped UN human rights system and new guidelines for military action. While the reforms are critical to the U.N.'s continued effectiveness in a changing world, questions remain as to whether the U.S. will support these reforms, which many advocates believe are necessary to address the pressing security and development imperatives of the twenty-first century, from the genocide in Darfur to the Millennium Development Goals.

Resource Link: http://www.aidemocracy.org/globalgovernance.doc

Americans' Role in the World: Building a More Secure Future (NIF Issue Book)

As the only superpower left standing after the Cold War, America exercises global dominance. Yet, the September 11 attack showed us that we are not immune to the world's problems. Powerful and prosperous, yet not universally liked, Americans are no longer certain about their security in the twenty-first century. This issue book presents four perspectives on the questions of what kind of world we want our children and grandchildren to live in and what we will have to do to achieve it.

Resource Link: http://www.thataway.org/exchange/files/docs/AmericasRole_IssueGuide.pdf

Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania

The Annenberg Public Policy Center has been the premier communication policy center in the country since its founding in 1993. By conducting and releasing research, staging conferences and hosting policy discussions, its scholars have addressed the role of communication in politics, adolescent behavior, child development, health care, civics and mental health, among other important arenas. The Center’s researchers have drafted materials that helped policy-makers, journalists, scholars, constituent groups and the general public better understand the role that media play in their lives and the life of the nation. The Policy Center maintains offices in Philadelphia and Washington D.C.

Resource Link: http://www.annenbergpublicpolicycenter.org

Benton Foundation

The Foundation works to realize the social benefits made possible by the public interest use of communications. Provides links to online tools for community organizing and community building.

Resource Link: http://www.benton.org

Beyond the Reinvention of Government

Alexandra Samuel.

For the past ten years, the Alliance for Converging Technologies team has tracked developments as they reshaped the business-government interface. They are now convinced that a more fundamental consideration of governance is urgently needed, aimed at producing a road map and migration plan for the shift from industrial to digital governance. This encompasses the challenge of reinventing government through electronic service delivery and public-private partnerships, but also extends beyond it by attempting a reformulation of the very notion of governance.

Resource Link: http://www.alexandrasamuel.com/governance/beyondreinvention.pdf

Bringing Citizen Voice and Client Focus into Service Delivery

Goetz J. Gaventa, A.M.. Institute of Development Studies at the University of Sussex.

This study, commissioned by the UK's Department for International Development, examines over 60 case studies of both public sector reforms to foster stronger client focus in service delivery, and civil society initiatives to demand improved services. It concludes that, for citizen engagement with public service providers to move beyond consultation to real influence, citizens must enjoy rights to a more meaningful form of participation. This would include formal recognition for citizens' groups, their right to information about government decision-making and spending patterns, and rights to seek redress for poor quality service delivery. Public sector providers, for their part, need assurances regarding the mandate and internal accountability of such groups.

Resource Link: http://www.ids.ac.uk/ids/bookshop/wp/wp138.pdf

Bringing Society In: Toward a Theory of Public Service Motivation

James L. Perry, Indiana University. Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory, Vol. 10, No. 2: 471-488, 2000.

This article seeks to develop a theory of motivation that 'brings society in' to the motivation equation and reflects variations across institutions in the motivation process. A literature review identifies anomalies in dominant theories of motivation and reinforces the need for models that are more inclusive of social and institutional variables. Foundational premises of a revised theory of motivation are presented. The paper concludes with a theory of motivation that accounts for motivational processes encountered in government and voluntary organizations.

Resource Link: http://jpart.oxfordjournals.org/cgi/content/abstract/10/2/471

Building New Political Actors: A Model for the Emergence of New Political Actors

Robert Axelrod.

The question of the aggregation and disaggregation of political actors is essential for the understanding of the future of global politics, both in terms of international security affairs and international political economy. A model based upon tribute is presented to show how new political actors can emerge from an aggregation of smaller political actors. The tribute model provides an existence proof that it is possible to use simple local rules to generate higher levels of organization from elementary actors. In particular it shows that a dynamics of 'pay or else' combined with mechanisms to increase and decrease commitments can lead to clusters of actors that behave largely according to the criteria for independent political states.

Resource Link: http://www.vf.utwente.nl/~hmiproj6/AL/Building.pdf

Building Participation in the New Scotland: Scottish Civic Forum First Review

Scottish Civic Forum, 2001.

The Forum's task is to translate the aspirations and rhetoric of 'the new Scotland' into reality. The Forum's broad aims are to push forward the boundaries of consultation, moving beyond the present system of limited consultation exercises to real engagement of civic society in a participatory, dialogic democracy. This paper talks of ways to build a Scotland in which all belong and can be heard.

Resource Link: http://www.civicforum.org.uk

By Popular Demand: Revitalizing Representative Democracy Through Deliberative Elections Highly Recommended

John Gastil. University of California Press, 2000.

Building on the success of citizen juries and deliberative polling, Gastil proposes improving our current process by convening randomly selected panels of citizens to deliberate for several days on ballot measures and candidates. Voters would learn about the judgments of these citizen panels through voting guides and possibly information printed on official ballots. The result would be a more representative government and a less cynical public.

Campaign Reform Issue Guide

Public Agenda.

When money changes hands in politics, a cloud of suspicion rises. Now so much money is changing hands -- upwards of $3 billion in a presidential election year -- the cloud never lifts. Running for office is an expensive proposition, particularly for president or for statewide offices like governor or senator, but the amounts that have changed hands in recent years are staggering. Public Agenda Issue Guides or “Citizen Choicework Guides” contain background information on the topic and present three different approaches to the issue for people to deliberate.

Resource Link: http://www.publicagenda.org/issues/frontdoor.cfm?issue_type=campaign_finance

Canadian Policy Research Networks Highly Recommended

CPRN creates knowledge and leads public debate on social and economic issues important to the well-being of Canadians. The birth of CPRN's Public Involvement Network (PIN) in 2002 reflects the growing conviction in policy circles that effective public policy requires effective public engagement.

Resource Link: http://www.cprn.ca

Capitol Advantage

Capitol Advantage is the nation's pioneer and premier provider of online and off-line grassroots solutions for corporations, nonprofit groups, associations, educational institutions and other organizations. Capitol Advantage affiliated companies, under the leadership of Robert Hansan, have a 20-year track record of helping citizens make their voices heard - from the school house to the White House, from Main Street to Wall Street.

Resource Link: http://www.capitoladvantage.com

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