Friday, June 26, 2009
I have posted my new e-book, We Do Not Consent, Volume 2 (free .pdf) and launched my new video blog, Manifest Positivity (http://ManifestPositivity.blogspot.com). WDNCv2 is made up of essays previously published here at the WDNC blog, book-ended and given context by a previously unpublished intro and epilogue (both reprinted below), as well as a glossary that now also appears at Manifest Positivity (please click the book or new blog to read that, a frame of reference for terms cultivated and simply used a lot in my past and future public service work).
This is the same combination of steps I took three years ago when I launched the WDNC blog in conjunction with publishing the first WDNC book (free .pdf) as a collection of essays from my previous blog, GuvWurld. There is a strong sense of continuity through all these projects, as summarized in Manifest Positivity's statement of purpose:
The Manifest Positivity blog exists to: help people and groups achieve their public service goals; promote the general idea of transparently using media to do this whenever possible (advocacy journalism); and create a web-based TV talk show dedicated to this approach. There is an emphasis on changing the relationship of power between We The People and the corporate/military/government/media juggernaut. Such change is, by definition, peaceful revolution. We do this from a place of love, not anger, practicing presence and pronoia (terms linked in this paragraph point to their respective entries in the glossary).Though there are already a few posts at Manifest Positivity, I will make just one more entry here at WDNC in the next few weeks when hard copies of the new book are available for purchase. Between now and then I will be looking for some testimonial quotes for inside the book's back cover, as well as for the sidebar of the new site. Please contact me if you'd like to contribute your thoughts. Meanwhile, the new blog has separate (and more varied) subscription options from WDNC, so please pick your favorite method and be sure to sign up to receive updates from Manifest Positivity.
I'm tempted to call this a bittersweet moment, but really it is entirely a good thing. Thank you to everyone who has read any of my work over the years. This is far less an end and much more a new beginning.
It seems I have been making media content my entire life, beginning as a small child in the mid 1970's when my Grandpa Jimmy used to interview me and coax me into singing songs on his tape recorder and home movie camera. Through elementary school and junior high, my friends and I expressed our creativity in similar forms, narrating our own episodes of The Twilight Zone and orchestrating the Froot Loop Ballet. In high school I was the editor of my school newspaper, a stringer for the local PennySaver, and a contributor to a monthly newspaper by and for teenagers. At Cornell University I earned a B.S. in Communication and started what became a ten-year stint as a radio DJ at various stations in upstate NY.
I moved to San Francisco in 1999. It took a while to find my new voice as I began to dabble in what I first thought of as activism and later reframed as public service. Starting in 2002 I engaged in what I defined as advocacy journalism: working for change in the world and then writing about those efforts in a way intended to transparently support the achievement of these goals. I recently learned that Wikipedia has an entry for advocacy journalism that uses my definition and cites a 2004 essay of mine as the first reference source.
Also in 2004, shortly after moving to Humboldt County, CA, I began focusing on election integrity. I launched the GuvWurld blog (http://GuvWurld.blogspot.com) and promoted the Voter Confidence Committee, which I co-founded. In 2006 I published We Do Not Consent, a free online e-book like this one, comprised of 20 essential essays from the GuvWurld blog. The focus then, as now, was to showcase advocacy journalism with a twin emphasis on the nature of corporate media and how our so-called "elections" are conducted.
Through countless public speaking appearances, media interviews, and letters and op-eds published in various newspapers, it became a common experience for me to be approached by people wanting to tell or ask me about the latest outrage related to unverifiable, secret vote counting. I recently retired from the VCC and hope that my future work will bring similar or greater recognition to the advocacy journalism approach itself. And from here we have the jumping off point for this second volume of essays.
When I published my first book I used the occasion to suspend the GuvWurld blog and launch a similar one called We Do Not Consent (http://WeDoNotConsent.blogspot.com). As I write this, the WDNC blog is about to become a completed project, with this collection of its most important essays creating a bridge to my next blog, Manifest Positivity (http://ManifestPositivity.blogspot.com). The new site will rely heavily on videos and document my intention to launch a web-based TV talk show using what I have been calling the Project-Based Format. This will bring advocacy journalism much more to the foreground and place election integrity into a broader range of causes that will be addressed and advanced.
So thank you for opening my book. If you are looking at a computer, you will notice underlined phrases throughout this document. Some of these links are internal navigation for the book, and some will take you to the original source on the Internet. If you are holding a book in your hand then these underlined phrases are more like flags for things you could research further by calling up the free online version of the book (http://tinyurl.com/d6cenj) or by visiting the original WDNC blog posts whose URLs are included at the start of each essay.
It is my hope that you will be inspired to act in the spirit of public service using the concepts, strategies, and theories presented on the pages that follow. Most importantly, I believe our future survival requires that we protect ourselves from the Weapons of Mass Deception that the corporate media have become, and that we do this by turning the weapon itself into a tool for our collective benefit via advocacy journalism.
--Dave Berman, May 2009
Epilogue: The Next Chapter
As mentioned in the introduction to this book, at the same time this book is becoming available I am launching the Manifest Positivity blog (http://ManifestPositivity.blogspot.com) and acting to breathe life into the Project-Based Format idea for a talk show. This will allow my advocacy journalism to highlight and promote a broader range of public service and a deeper connection to personal and spiritual growth. I will recommend and continue to reference two books that have greatly benefited the evolution of my own path.
First is Eckhart Tolle's "A New Earth," a very popular book that has helped me view ego in a new way, separating my sense of self from the thoughts and emotions I have, ultimately leaving me happier, more loving, grounded in the Now, and better able to calibrate the intensity I project (in a word, present). I have discussed this book with dozens of people, one of whom recommended another powerful paradigm changer, Rob Brezsny's "Pronoia," which essentially is the belief that the universe is conspiring on your behalf.
I have noticed repeatedly throughout my life that when a big lesson comes along, and I think I've got it, other examples appear as reinforcement. At a recent concert, I heard Spearhead singer Michael Franti say that the change we want to create must come from a place of love and not anger. This same week I am reading "Strength to Love" by Martin Luther King, Jr.:
In some ways, you could say the way I view the world has been changing. At the same time, the glossary that follows commits me to continuing to work within definitions summarizing the worldview found in the essays you've just read. I am no less convinced of the myths of democracy and capitalism in America; just as certain that all the classic traits of fascism exist here now; and only more sure that Peaceful Revolution is STILL necessary, NOW! I'm not even looking to change what I'm going to do about it so much as how I'm going to go about it. Commencing video blogging and at long last directly pursuing the talk show represent what would be better. Aspiring to pronoia is the least I can do. It has inspired my latest meme:
Only through an inner spiritual transformation do we gain the strength to fight vigorously the evils of the world in a humble and loving spirit. The transformed nonconformist...recognizes that social change will not come overnight, yet he works as though it is an imminent possibility.
--Dave Berman, May 2009
(A portion of this essay is excerpted from "My Present Path Toward Advocacy Journalism (aka Reflections On Independence, Volume 6)," originally blogged on April 9, 2009 at
Sunday, May 31, 2009
Since there haven't been any updates to the We Do Not Consent blog in May I want to share two pieces I had published elsewhere this month, as well as ask for help with my new website. Below is an article from the latest Vets For Peace Chapter 56 newsletter, The Foghorn, describing a recent encounter with a US soldier refusing to return to duty in Iraq. Beneath that is a letter I wrote to the Eureka Times-Standard in response to an editorial that has since disappeared from its website. It doesn't come up via various cache searches either, which is very lame. This is why the GuvWurld News Archive exists, though unfortunately I didn't save this particular editorial. (On the plus side, last week contributing editor Jane Allen restored more than 1500 articles to the archive. These have been missing since last year's hosting migration and represent nearly 25% of the current site.)
But first, as mentioned here last month, I'm soon going to stop posting at WDNC. I have finished assembling my new free e-book, We Do Not Consent, Volume 2, containing 20 of the most essential WDNC blog posts. The release of the book will coincide with the launch of my new video blog, which needs help! Web design is not my greatest strength. My ideas for the new site go way past what you see here at WDNC, and need to support the seriousness of the Project-Based Format talk show proposal.
All of this is explained in great detail in an interview I recently did with Tom Pinto that will be published in the Steelhead Special in July. So while I've been traveling through most of this spring I've been pretty relaxed about moving this all forward. Now the new site has become somewhat of a bottleneck for a lot of the related projects and the Steelie's publication has begun to loom as a deadline. Please contact me if your web design skills can help take this all to the next level. Is it the least you can do?
Veterans For Peace Chapter 56
June 2009 Foghorn
It Takes Courage To Resist
By Dave Berman
Everyone who attended the May 2009 meeting of VFP-56 will long remember the guest who joined us that night. "Hugh" (a pseudonym) was recently back from serving in Iraq. Clean cut and well dressed, when asked for his story, the soft spoken man told us he was 29 days AWOL and would technically be considered a deserter the following day.
Seemingly without hesitation or reservation, members offered safe crash space, camping gear, and a bucket we passed around that quickly filled up with money. It was a VFP-56 meeting, after all, so I would expect nothing less.
Hugh told us he was walking away from the military with two confirmed kills on his conscience, plus the memory of seeing the violent death of Alex, the buddy with whom he had enlisted. Hugh thoughtfully put himself in the shoes of Iraqis, pondering what we would be doing if a foreign force invaded and occupied our country. The war is illegal and based on lies, he said. Understanding the risks of both returning to Iraq and refusing to do so, Hugh said earlier that day he had attempted to go public with his story but the local TV station told him he was not a credible source (is that the pot calling the kettle black?).
Following the meeting I waited my turn to have a few words with Hugh. Handing him my business card, I offered to help him get his story out if he decided to continue trying to go public (he has not reached out to take me up on this offer, which still stands). On the back of the card I wrote www.CourageToResist.org, the website of a group dedicated to helping those who refuse to fight in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The seeds of Courage To Resist were first planted in the Bay Area in February 2003 when Marine L/Cpl Stephen Funk became the first military serviceperson to publicly refuse to fight in Iraq. By May 2005, CTR launched more formally and now operates as a 13 member collective with three paid staff, over 2000 donors, and services including "political, emotional, and material support to all military objectors critical of our government's current policies of empire."
In addition to supporting the well-known Lt. Ehren Watada, the CTR website also features profiles of Cliff Cornell, Robin Long and dozens of other people whose names and stories should be known throughout the broader peace movement. According to CTR:
"In the past few years, tens of thousands of service members have resisted illegal war and occupation in a number of different ways - by going AWOL, seeking conscientious objector status and/or a discharge, asserting the right to speak out against injustice from within the military, and for a relative few, publicly refusing to fight."
Tens of thousands. Let that sink in. 10,000 x ? We are always so much stronger than we realize. I'm reminded of the excellent documentary Sir! No Sir! Perhaps it is time for VFP-56 to sponsor another screening?
CTR Project Coordinator Sarah Lazare says their message for soldiers is "if you have the courage to resist, we have your back." Hugh heard the same from VFP-56, that he should regard us as family, and that if he is in our area he is welcome at our future monthly meetings.
Letters to the Editor
Posted: 05/13/2009 01:15:31 AM PDT
I agree with the general sentiments of your April 26 editorial, "Better Together," saying that "together we all stand a better chance of getting through this penniless season than we do apart," and "money can never replace a community's soul."
Of course you are also correct that recent news has made it impossible not to notice the "economic meltdown," and that the "nation's headline writers" are "prone to hyperbole," while "understating the magnitude" of our current financial crisis.
What a rare and welcome treat to see you acknowledge that the media typically does not offer an accurate portrayal. This admission makes your opening paragraph seem downright silly -- nobody is looking to this or other newspapers for "leadership in how to navigate treacherous waters."
The public would be well served and content if we could merely rely on you for an accurate depiction of reality, one which recognizes the fiscal collapse has been (inevitably) coming and visible for years, far longer than "the past several weeks." With bankruptcies everywhere and newspapers disappearing, you stand little chance of survival by continuing to pretend things are mostly normal.
Monday, April 20, 2009
Brett Kimberlin from Justice Through Music checked in this weekend to let me know the music remake idea I gave him last February has now been recorded by his band Op-Critical and there is a video at YouTube. The original seed of my idea was to turn the 1971 Ten Years After song "I'd Love to Change the World (But I Don't Know What To Do)" into an encouraging and empowering anthem "I'd Love to Change the World (And I Know Just What To Do)." This is an example of a "yes, and..." response.
I think they did an excellent job on the music and lyrics, and on the video. Toward the end there are several websites displayed that all aim to get people involved in public service. Of course it is great that more people are volunteering, and in various ways building community.
When thinking about how to get involved, it is worth considering whether we are better served working through or with government created projects or instead on our own in autonomous citizen organized efforts. This may not be an all or nothing choice, though I personally prefer the latter. To follow news about such work, there is a new category called DIY in the GuvWurld News Archive. This too was created in the spirit of "yes, and..." when GuvWurld contributing editor Jane Allen recently sent me a CNN story she found inspiring:
Island DIY: Kauai residents don't wait for state to repair roadPlease contact me if you see an article that would fit in the DIY archive category, or can tell me about work happening in your community where people are collaborating to meet the needs government won't or can't address.
By Mallory Simon
updated 3:44 p.m. EDT, Thu April 9, 2009
(CNN) -- Their livelihood was being threatened, and they were tired of waiting for government help, so business owners and residents on Hawaii's Kauai island pulled together and completed a $4 million repair job to a state park -- for free.
Polihale State Park has been closed since severe flooding destroyed an access road to the park and damaged facilities in December.
The state Department of Land and Natural Resources had estimated that the damage would cost $4 million to fix, money the agency doesn't have, according to a news release from department Chairwoman Laura Thielen.
"It would not have been open this summer, and it probably wouldn't be open next summer," said Bruce Pleas, a local surfer who helped organize the volunteers. "They said it would probably take two years. And with the way they are cutting funds, we felt like they'd never get the money to fix it."
And if the repairs weren't made, some business owners faced the possibility of having to shut down.
Ivan Slack, co-owner of Napali Kayak, said his company relies solely on revenue from kayak tours and needs the state park to be open to operate. The company jumped in and donated resources because it knew that without the repairs, Napali Kayak would be in financial trouble.
On a related note, Naomi Klein's latest article at The Nation (and here at Huffington Post) offers a new "lexicon" for Obama supporters facing cognitive dissonance about the President's mixed performance thus far. Examples include Hopeover, Hoper coaster, Hopesick, and ultimately a more optimistic (para)phrase channeling legendary broadcaster and author Studs Terkel, Hoperoots: "It's time to stop waiting for hope to be handed down, and start pushing it up, from the hoperoots."
Thursday, April 09, 2009
This is the sixth essay in my not quite annual series of Reflections on Independence. In the past I've published these thoughts around July 4. By that time this year, however, I'm expecting my advocacy journalism to be in a whole new place, to which this begins the transition. I will probably only make a few more posts here at the We Do Not Consent blog. Then, as with the suspension of my prior blog, GuvWurld, another free e-book compiling the most essential pieces from WDNC will serve to promote the launch of my next site, a video blog.
For the last six plus years I have done this public service work while assiduously avoiding reference to my wife and the business we built together. At the end of last year I exited our professional partnership, and our divorce will be final soon. This has given me time and space to create the life I'd like to lead now, a natural extension of the communication strategies and organizing experiences I've blogged about, and most definitely a new debt-free era of multi-faceted independence.
Friday morning I'll be embarking on an extended road trip, itself a reflection of my new independence. I'm hoping to have a new video camera by next week and possibly to begin posting content by the end of the month. The reunions I'll have between now and then are all with people who have greatly supported and deeply affected this part of my life. I eagerly anticipate the opportunity to explore the nature of my future collaborations with these folks.
In addition to the emphasis on video, I can also say at this point that my next blog will launch with a glossary I have already written to summarize and define the dozens of terms and concepts I have coined and cultivated over the years. I intend to continue developing these ideas, using them to create a talk show based on the Project-Based Format (see Time To Check Your Least, 11/24/07). In the long run, the glossary will grow and expand, providing a frame of reference companion piece for the program.
The launch will also include publication of a proposal detailing how the show would work, to be followed later this spring by a demo of the program. In a nutshell, I am going to be seeking out people and organizations doing public service to ask: If you had unfettered access to media to promote your work, what would you do? How would you use this exposure to achieve your goals? This is where the content will begin to come from for the talk show. I welcome e-mail from those ready to participate. Here are just a few of the topics I think we can advance:
Helping returning veterans re-adjust to society; Understanding environmental implications of diet; Building sustainable local economies; Triple bottom line; Green building; Alternative energy and transportation; Emergency preparedness; Identifying edible plants; Supporting conscientious objectors and war resisters.
Basically, if your work empowers people at the grassroots, I want to hear from you. If you are a citizen journalist making independent media, let's work together. If you are about manifesting positivity, building the better world the corporate/military/government/media juggernaut doesn't even want us to imagine - we are on the same page. E-mail me.
Meanwhile, independence has already allowed me to volunteer on several other projects, including the art site BARDoodle; the future wilderness therapy retreat now called Veterans Spirit at Incopah; the media committee of Vets For Peace Chapter 56; and the next edition of the independent magazine The Steelhead Special, due out July 4. This issue of the Steelie will demonstrate multiple examples of advocacy journalism through interviews with various Humboldt community organizers, including one that Tom Pinto and I will conduct in May. By the way, I recently learned that Wikipedia has an entry for advocacy journalism and this 2004 essay of mine is cited as the first reference source.
I can't say any of this will be in a context that is more or less political than I've been until now, but I can say my changed circumstances and personal growth will be evident. For now I'll just recommend two books I've recently gotten a lot from. First is Eckhart Tolle's "A New Earth," a very popular book that has helped me view ego in a new way, separating my sense of self from the thoughts and emotions I have, ultimately leaving me happier, more loving, and better able to calibrate the intensity that I project (in a word, present). I have found myself discussing this book with dozens of people, one of whom recommended another powerful paradigm changer, Rob Brezsny's "Pronoia," which essentially is the belief that the universe is conspiring on your behalf.
This is quite a departure from my previous Reflections on Independence, all of which were written during the Bush regime, all harkening to the Declaration of Independence as the master change manual bequeathed to us by the nation's founders. In keeping with tradition, I have posted the historic document in full below and encourage you to read or hopefully re-read what may be humanity's most hopeful and inspiring expression of freedom.
When we remember that our rights are unalienable; that government exists only to secure, not create or grant, these rights; that government legitimacy derives entirely from the Consent of the Governed; when we Reflect on Independence, we realize our Life, Liberty and Happiness are birthrights to preserve and never give up, never allow ourselves to be denied; we realize our Consent must no longer be taken for granted lest we sabotage ourselves through complicity in the harm being done to us all; and we realize that nothing less than "our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor" are at stake - both what we stand to lose and what it will take to survive, sort of a cosmic use it or lose it.
Reflections On Independence 2002
Reflections On Independence 2003
Reflections On Independence 2005
Reflections On Independence 2006
Reflections On Independence 2007
July 4, 1776
The Unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united* States of America.
When, in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the Political Bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the Powers of the Earth, the separate and equal Station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent Respect to the Opinions of Mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the Separation.
We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness -- That to secure these Rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just Powers from the Consent of the Governed, that whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive to these Ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its Foundation on such Principles and organizing its Powers in such Form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient Causes; and accordingly all Experience hath shown that Mankind are more disposed to suffer, while Evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the Forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long Train of Abuses and Usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object, evinces a Design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their Right, it is their Duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future Security. Such has been the patient Sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the Necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The History of the present King of Great- Britain is a History of repeated Injuries and Usurpations, all having in direct Object the Establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid World.
HE has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public Good.
HE has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing Importance, unless suspended in their Operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
HE has refused to pass other Laws for the Accommodation of large Districts of People, unless those People would relinquish the Right of Representation in the Legislature, a Right inestimable to them and formidable to Tyrants only.
HE has called together Legislative Bodies at Places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the Depository of their public Records, for the sole Purpose of fatiguing them into Compliance with his Measures.
HE has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly Firmness his Invasions on the Rights of the People.
HE has refused for a long Time, after such Dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative Powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the meantime exposed to all the Dangers of Invasion from without, and the Convulsions within.
HE has endeavored to prevent the Population of these States; for that Purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their Migration hither, and raising the Conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
HE has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.
HE has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the Tenure of their Offices, and the Amount and Payment of their Salaries.
HE has erected a Multitude of new Offices, and sent hither Swarms of Officers to harass our People, and eat out their Substance.
HE has kept among us, in Times of Peace, Standing Armies without the consent of our Legislature.
HE has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to Civil Power.
HE has combined with others to subject us to a Jurisdiction foreign to our Constitution, and unacknowledged by our Laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
FOR quartering large Bodies of Armed Troops among us:
FOR protecting them, by mock Trial, from Punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
FOR cutting off our Trade with all Parts of the World:
FOR imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
FOR depriving us in many Cases, of the Benefits of Trial by Jury:
FOR transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended Offences:
FOR abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighboring Province, establishing therein an arbitrary Government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an Example and fit Instrument for introducing the same absolute Rule into these Colonies:
FOR taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
FOR suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with Power to legislate for us in all Cases whatsoever.
HE has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.
HE has plundered our Seas, ravaged our Coasts, burned our Towns, and destroyed the Lives of our People.
HE is, at this Time, transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the Works of Death, Desolation, and Tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty and Perfidy, scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous Ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized Nation.
HE has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the Executioners of their Friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.
HE has excited domestic Insurrections amongst us, and has endeavored to bring on the Inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known Rule of Warfare, is undistinguished Destruction of all Ages, Sexes and Conditions.
IN every stage of these Oppressions we have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble Terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated Injury. A Prince, whose Character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the Ruler of a free People.
NOR have we been wanting in Attentions to our British Brethren. We have warned them from Time to Time of attempts by their Legislature to extend an unwarrantable Jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the Circumstances of our Emigration and Settlement here. We have appealed to their native Justice and Magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the Ties of our common Kindred to disavow these Usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our Connections and Correspondence. They too have been deaf to the Voice of Justice and Consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the Necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of Mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace, Friends.
WE, therefore, the Representatives of the UNITED STATES of AMERICA, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the World for the Rectitude of our Intentions, do, in the Name, and by the Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly Publish and Declare, that these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be, FREE AND INDEPENDENT STATES; that they are absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political Connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as FREE AND INDEPENDENT STATES, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which INDEPENDENT STATES may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm Reliance on the Protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.
· New Hampshire: Josiah Bartlett, William Whipple, Matthew Thornton
· Massachusetts: John Hancock, Samual Adams, John Adams, Robert Treat Paine, Elbridge Gerry
· Rhode Island: Stephen Hopkins, William Ellery
· Connecticut: Roger Sherman, Samuel Huntington, William Williams, Oliver Wolcott
· New York: William Floyd, Philip Livingston, Francis Lewis, Lewis Morris
· New Jersey: Richard Stockton, John Witherspoon, Francis Hopkinson, John Hart, Abraham Clark
· Pennsylvania: Robert Morris, Benjamin Rush, Benjamin Franklin, John Morton, George Clymer, James Smith, George Taylor, James Wilson, George Ross
· Delaware: Caesar Rodney, George Read, Thomas McKean
· Maryland: Samuel Chase, William Paca, Thomas Stone, Charles Carroll of Carrollton
· Virginia: George Wythe, Richard Henry Lee, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Harrison, Thomas Nelson, Jr., Francis Lightfoot Lee, Carter Braxton
· North Carolina: William Hooper, Joseph Hewes, John Penn
· South Carolina: Edward Rutledge, Thomas Heyward, Jr., Thomas Lynch, Jr., Arthur Middleton
· Georgia: Button Gwinnett, Lyman Hall, George Walton.
* Although this capitalization of "united" differs from the images of copies of the Declaration of Independence viewable at the Library of Congress's Web site (*http://www.loc.gov/), it follows the capitalization found on the images of the Declaration of Independence held by the National Archives and Records Administration (*http://www.nara.gov).
Labels: A New Earth, Advocacy Journalism, Bardoodle, Declaration of Independence, Eckhart Tolle, Incopah, presence, Project-Based Format, Pronoia, Reflections on Independence, Rob Brezsny, Steelhead Special
Monday, March 16, 2009
Peter B. Collins announced on his syndicated talk radio show this past Friday (.mp3 via BradBlog.com) that his last show in its current "configuration" would be next Friday, March 20. Listeners are rallying to reverse this decision, and what I'm writing is an urgent plea for your help. Below is an explanation from Peter's website explaining this "tough decision", but first let me tell you the why and how to save the show.
Peter's reporting, coverage and exploration are unmatched on topics such as election integrity, 9/11 truth, depleted uranium, grassroots activism (more properly called public service), and others distorted or blacked out by the corporate/military/government/media juggernaut. Of all the talk show hosts I've heard, PBC is the most respectful of listeners, guests and callers, who are rarely interrupted and never shouted down, always allowed to make their point even when in disagreement with "the humble host." This show smartens us up rather than dumbing us down.
On Sunday night I made a bunch of phone calls adding up to $1,160 in pledges and donations to keep Peter on the air. Others are doing similar outreach and so I ask what is the least you can do? Can you pledge $10 per month for six months? At this rate just 500 regular sustaining contributions would keep the show on the air. This is how we vote with our dollars, and put our money where our mouths are. Click here to visit Peter's donation page (scroll to bottom for donation button).
We all know that not everyone can afford even $10. So maybe the least you can do is tell a friend who perhaps donates and/or tells another friend. Perhaps you own a business, or know a business owner you can encourage to advertise to a very smart and conscious audience. Speak up for (and on) our supposed public airwaves. We're past use it or lose it - we must reclaim what is ours, support and protect it dearly.
Try this: Imagine the PBC show as our after school club where we get together to stay informed and involved, a rare progressive media forum that supports real world work for change. If you can, pay some monetary dues. For the rest, dues means participating. Listen live all this week (and hopefully beyond) from 3-6pm PT via www.PeterBCollins.com.
I've mentioned my respect, appreciation and admiration of Peter B. Collins on the We Do Not Consent blog many times these past few years, often referring to my appearances as a guest or caller on the show. I was honored to be part of two live broadcasts from here in Humboldt, CA, and even one visit to the secret PBC studio location in the Bay Area (when he signed on to the open letter to the media from the media). Brad Friedman at BradBlog.com has been a much more frequent guest, contributor and even fill-in host, and has posted his own reflections that have prompted much fan-to-fan discussion of how to save and subsequently sustainably support this vital program.
* * *
"I made a tough decision..."
On Friday, I delivered the news of my decision to end the daily broadcasts of the PBC Show.
Our last live broadcast will be Friday, March 20, which will replay on some stations through March 22.
Since we started on KRXA in 2005, I've been covering the costs of producing the show and delivering it to our affiliate stations by satellite. With phone bills and the other expenses, it adds up to more than $5,000 a month. We get a little advertising revenue and some generous listeners contribute, but most of it is absorbed by my small business, Collins Media Services. Until last summer, I was able to cover the costs from my work as a radio producer and consultant. Like everyone else, the Bush recession has hit me hard.
To make money in syndication, we need to be on 20+ stations and at least one of the big 3, NY, LA, Chicago. As an independent, self-syndicated show, we've had to compete with Air America, Dial-Global and Nova M programs, and for various reasons, the PBC Show didn't break through. Air America is the brand that most people connect with progressive talk radio, and their bankruptcy and sequence of blunders has, unfortunately, defined our collective efforts in a negative way that has provided an easy target for the non-liberal media. As a result, the total number of stations offering progressive talk in the US peaked at about 105 in 2006, and is now around 70. Miami, DC, and even Ann Arbor have lost their progressive stations in the last month.
Over the past 3.75 years, I've tried it all. I pitched all of the Air America programmers except the current one, who never returned my calls or emails. I was offered a deal by Nova M, but they reneged in a bizarre story I'm saving for my talk-n-tell book. Air America just announced that Montel Williams will be their new offering in the Thom Hartmann time slot, which tells us that Jerry Springer's flameout was just their first attempt to retread a tabloid TV host as a "progressive" radio host.
As I said on Friday, I'm very proud of what we've done here, and grateful to my partner, Kathee Shatter, for indulging my risky business, and to two exceptional producers: Matt Renner (now DC editor at Truthout.org) and Katrina Rill. Katrina was with me when we euthanized my satellite radio show, and I'm sorry she has to go through it again.
I'm grateful to every listener, even the ones who think I'm full of it, for taking the time to listen. And to those who called and emailed and sent letters and checks, I couldn't have done this without you. To the many fine guests who spent time on the show, and especially to the regulars, I thank you for your immeasurable contributions to my program and to the knowledge base of my listeners.
Thanks for all the emails in response to this news, I will try to answer as many as I can, and all will be saved so we can notify you of future plans. I'm not going away, and may launch a podcast and/or weekend radio show after I take a break to recharge and re-wealth. Special recognition to generous individuals who have clicked on "You Can Help" and made contributions, including the whopper from Seattle. Your contributions will be used to retire some debt, pay off the bills and give Katrina and Nick something extra for their dedication. No pressure, no guilt, but if you can help, you have my gratitude.
Many people who heard the $5,000 monthly cost figure have emailed to pledge $10 a month and said, "how do we find the other 499?" We have tried that to some extent, but I don't want to turn the show into a pledge-a-thon, 'cause I listen to the radio, too, and don't like them. Plus, I'm well aware that many of my listeners can't even spare $10 a month right now. Overall, I don't think we can shift to a voluntary subscription plan to produce a reliable funding stream.
If you disagree, email me: email@example.com Tell me if you're willing to subscribe for at least 6 months, and how much you can pay. If enough people respond by Monday night 3/16, I will make a final review of this decision. Dave Berman in Eureka, Tom McAfee in SF, and Aldous Tyler in Madison have offered to coordinate this kind of effort, but I need to give them your names and emails.
Keep listening this week, call in when you can–we'll try to get allof our favorite guests to check in, too.
Please help save the Peter B. Collins Show...
Monday, January 12, 2009
According to the agenda, this Tuesday the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors will consider a proposal from Registrar of Voters Carolyn Crnich, who seeks approval for the purchase of Hart InterCivic eScan optical scanners to replace the similar Diebold/Premier equipment used to "count" votes here since 1995. Linked from the agenda is a 22 page .pdf called Voting Modernization Project Plan Phase II. From page two:
Because of the current fiscal crisis in the State of California, the voting Modernization Bond funds designated to cover this project were frozen by the State Treasurer on December 19, 2008. We will return to your Board for change order and funding plan approval once the funding plan is developed and approved by the Secretary of State. The delay in obtaining these funds should not impact the approval of the concept of this plan.As previously reported at WDNC, the Registrar has created a sense of urgency around this proposal (reinforced by quotes in a Eureka Times-Standard Sunday cover story that is oddly absent from the paper's website). But how can she expect the Supes to hurry up and approve a proposal for a purchase requiring funds that are not currently available and which would be based on a contract that has not been made public? Further calling this urgency into question, from page 6 of the same agenda attachment:
Because there is currently no county-wide election scheduled until November 2009, full implementation of the system will be possible before the next election.One other quick point about this implementation plan. On page 9 it calls for "sleepovers," a period of two days prior to the election when precinct inspectors will have the eScans in their private possession. This is despite myriad warnings, even in the California Secretary of State's own Top To Bottom Review of Hart voting systems. From that report:
Conclusion (p.16):No procedural mitigation defeats unfettered access to machines that can be undetectably manipulated. In addition, deletion of audit trails occurred in this past November's election, as revealed by the Election Transparency Project (ETP). Volunteer Parke Bostrom commented on this in a quote previously posted here at WDNC and also found in this December 8 article at Wired.com:
Although the Red Team did not have time to finish exploits for all of the vulnerabilities we discovered, nor to provide a complete evaluation of the Hart voting system (System 6.2.1 [now proposed for Humboldt]), we were able to discover attacks for the Hart system that could compromise the accuracy, secrecy, and availability of the voting systems and their auditing mechanisms. That is, the Red Team has developed exploits that – absent procedural mitigation strategies – can alter vote totals, violate the privacy of individual voters, make systems unavailable, and delete audit trails.
This means the audit log is not truly a "log" in the classical computer program sense, but is rather a "re-imagining" of what GEMS would like the audit log to be, based on whatever information GEMS happens to remember at the end of the vote counting process.Bostrom is referring to the Diebold central tabulation program responsible for the 197 secretly deleted ballots, though the point is the same with Hart's equipment. Beyond undetectable manipulation, the system can cover its tracks, destroying assurances of built-in memory redundancies and making a mockery of logic and accuracy testing.
The We Do Not Consent blog on Friday posted an announcement from the Humboldt County Republican Party that it has adopted a resolution in support of a public discussion process prior to a vote by the Supervisors on Crnich's proposal. In Sunday's (so far) print-only T-S article, Eureka City Councilman Larry Glass adds, "I think that's an issue that I'd like to see get some more public dialogue, and I'm going to try to make a point of contacting the supervisors and expressing that." Another member of the Council assured me he will attend Tuesday's Supes meeting to make this point in person.
The Voter Confidence Committee, which I co-founded nearly four years ago, distributed an e-mail newsletter on Sunday evening encouraging supporters to attend Tuesday's meeting, or at least to call Supervisors with some or all of the following messages:
--We want and are entitled to have a choice and a say in how we count our votes;There has been other recent media coverage of this developing story. In the third hour of Friday's Peter B. Collins show, I spoke with PBC and Brad Friedman about the day old announcement of a second discrepancy found by the ETP, showing 57 ballots were scanned twice into the official certified results.
--This plan calls for $600,000+ of public money to be spent, and any expense this size deserves careful public scrutiny;
--Prior to voting on the proposed plan, the responsible thing is for the Supervisors to invite the public to participate in the decision making process;
--In any case, there is no reason to rush this decision as the funds for this purchase have been frozen by the State Treasurer;
--The proposed replacement equipment are still secret corporate vote counting machines (a "false alternative");
--State-sponsored reviews of the proposed replacement machines have revealed many problems; we do not want to repeat the past mistake of investing in flawed technology despite knowing of the risks and warnings;
--The manufacturer of the replacement machines has withdrawn from the federal certification process, meaning no software or security updates of any kind will be possible, and no newer versions will be available.
After a commercial break (edited out of linked recording), we got into discussing Tuesday's upcoming Supes meeting and were then joined by a surprise phone call from Crnich. She has appeared on PBC's show many times before, and this is not the first time she has called in immediate response to my presence on the show. There was an unusually long and uninterrupted segment where Friedman challenges Crnich in ways that just have to be heard, including telling her flat out in the end that she should slow down and allow more public input. Overall, I come on the show at about 16:30 into the recording; Crnich joins around the 24 minute mark.
Finally, borrowed from the VCC newsletter, a summary of recent related links:
North Coast Journal, 12/4/08, Election Results: Wrong
Eureka Times-Standard, 12/5/08, Software glitch yields inaccurate election results
Eureka Times-Standard, 12/7/08, Local elections office commended
Eureka Times-Standard (editorial), 12/7/08, A glitch that should never have been
Wired, 12/8/08, Serious Error in Diebold Voting Software Caused Lost Ballots in California County
Wired, 12/8/08, Unique Transparency Program Uncovers Problems with Voting Software
Eureka Times-Standard (Letter to the editor), 12/10/08, Who Dares Defend Diebold?
We Do Not Consent blog, 12/17/08, Humboldt's False Alternative to Diebold
North Coast Journal (Letter to the editor), 12/18, Has Humboldt Hit a Tipping Point?
Eureka Times-Standard, 12/22/08, Registrar of Voters considers dumping equipment
Eureka Times-Standard, 12/29/08, Federal election commission eyes Humboldt
We Do Not Consent blog, 12/6/09, Exclusive: Humboldt's Secret Hart Attack
We Do Not Consent blog, 12/9/09, Humboldt Republicans Call For Public Discussion of Proposed Voting Machine Switch
Eureka Times-Standard, 1/10/09, New error found in county election results
Eureka Times-Standard (Editorial), 1/11/09, Thank you, Humboldt County Transparency Project
* * *
Friday, January 09, 2009
This is the second of two breaking stories from the Humboldt County, CA election integrity scene on the evening of January 8...
The county Republican Party has issued a press release, shown in full below, announcing their adoption of a resolution in support for a "public discussion process" before the Board of Supervisors votes on the proposal from Registrar of Voters Carolyn Crnich to switch from Diebold/Premier "election" machines to similar equipment made by Hart InterCivic.
The We Do Not Consent blog broke the news of the Registrar's proposal in a December 17 exclusive. A subsequent WDNC exclusive ran earlier this week revealing Crnich had previously divulged her plan at a public meeting of the Election Advisory Committee, requesting that attendees keep it secret.
In those articles, as well as my letters published in the Eureka Times-Standard and North Coast Journal, I have been advocating for a public process to evaluate multiple alternatives to the Diebold system currently used in Humboldt. Of course, I don't think we're going to see anyone cry or even resist giving up on Diebold. In fact, we ought to have a damn party! The way I see this unfolding situation is as a giant victory slathered in opportunity.
Parke Bostrom, who has been involved in most if not all developing Humboldt election integrity stories in recent months, authored a petition featured in my last post that outlines a specific public process for the county to consider.
The Republican resolution below stems from their Thursday night meeting, which Bostrom attended as part of a broader outreach effort to media, community groups, and local elected officials aimed at creating more support for encouraging the Board of Supervisors to take this path next Tuesday, January 13, when the Registrar's proposal is expected to appear on their agenda. If you can lend your voice, please be at the county courthouse at 5th and I Streets in Eureka at 9am. You can also scroll to the bottom of this page to find phone and e-mail info for the Supes. Let them know:
We love the idea of getting rid of Diebold but we must slow down and have a public evaluation of alternatives rather than rushing into another secret corporate vote counting system as the Registrar of Voters, Carolyn Crnich, is recommending - secretly, at that.Bostrom is also a pivotal player in the Election Transparency Project, a volunteer citizen-developed and Registrar supported audit project that uses an off the shelf office scanner and open source software to make images of all the ballots cast in an election. An initial review of the data from this past November's election revealed that Diebold's central tabulation program, GEMS, had secretly deleted 197 ballots, causing the Registrar to certify inaccurate results. The news became a national story. The ETP has now found another discrepancy, the second of the two breaking stories...
* * *
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: M. Parke Bostrom, 707.733.4201, firstname.lastname@example.org
At the January 8th meeting of the Republican Party of Humboldt County,
central committee member M. Parke Bostrom moved that the following
resolution be passed:
The Republican Party of Humboldt County calls upon the Humboldt County
Board of Supervisors to delay voting on the proposed plan to purchase
new elections equipment until there has been a reasonable period of
time for a public discussion process.
Humboldt County Registrar of Voters Carolyn Crnich was present at the
meeting to swear in all the committee members. Crnich stayed for and
participated in discussion with Bostrom regarding his resolution.
Prior to a vote on the resolution, party chairman Patricia Welch left
the chair and said, "As a Republican, I believe that anytime the
taxpayers' money is spent, it is important that there is an
opportunity for public discussion, and therefore I urge committee
members to vote in favor of the resolution."
The resolution passed in a nearly unanimous vote. The Republican
Party of Humboldt County is the first organization to pass a
resolution on this very important matter.
Additional contact info:
Chairman, Humboldt County Republican Party
Northwest Regional Vice Chairman, California Republican Party
Thursday, January 08, 2009
Humboldt Election Transparency Project Identifies Another Discrepancy In November's Reported Results
This is the first of two breaking stories from the Humboldt County, CA election integrity scene on the evening of January 8...
In a message posted just before 5pm Thursday at the Democracy Counts blog, Mitch Trachtenberg and Humboldt County Registrar of Voters Carolyn Crnich made a joint statement announcing the Humboldt County Election Transparency Project (ETP) has found a second discrepancy in the results of November's election, which Crnich certified as accurate in early December, just prior to discovering the Diebold central tabulation program, GEMS, had secretly deleted 197 ballots from the total count.
Joint Statement on the November 2008 Humboldt County Election ResultsThat last line about no outcomes being affected, while I don't doubt it, seems almost obligatory to the point of cliche in these types of stories, like many a government-issued denial ("the US does not torture," or even, "I did not have sexual relations with that woman"). Even given the benefit of the doubt, things look very wrong and smell foul. But hey, what's a little secret vote counting among friends, right?
Humboldt County Clerk and Registrar of Voters
Humboldt County Election Transparency Project volunteer
January 8, 2009
As we've compared the results from Humboldt County's official count with the independent count Mitch has conducted with his Ballot Browser independent vote counting software, we've found two additional issues.
First, the Election Transparency Project had scanned the front side of 63 ballots twice (once upside down); these duplicate scans will be removed from Ballot Browser's counts.
Second, the Elections office appears to have scanned 57 ballots into the Diebold GEMS system twice -- these duplicates need to be removed from the GEMS results.
The numbers from the two systems are now extremely close, though not identical.
We believe many of the remaining variations may be a result of differing vote sensitivity between the Diebold system and Ballot Browser, with Ballot Browser's totals approximately 0.05% higher than those from the Diebold system (approximately one added vote per 2,000 counted vote opportunities).
The variations that remain do not affect the outcome of any races.
Since the news of the original GEMS failure, the We Do Not Consent blog has twice broken stories of the Registrar's rushed and hushed plan to replace GEMS and the county's Diebold optical scanners with similar eScans made by Hart InterCivic. Crnich told the Eureka Times-Standard "This plan that is proposed pre-dates any of the problems that were found to exist in this election."
I personally confirmed this quote with Crnich on Tuesday when she acknowledged having shared her plan in November with volunteers of the ETP, who were asked to keep it a secret.
Even prior to learning this, I had already written a series of articles and letters calling for a public process to evaluate multiple alternatives to the current Diebold system, which of course I'm thrilled we'll finally be done with. With cooperation from Parke Bostrom and others, an outreach campaign is underway aimed at getting the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors to create such a process at their January 13 meeting, when Crnich's proposal comes up for their approval. We are beginning to receive support from some perhaps unexpected places. That's the other breaking story, coming soon...
Tuesday, January 06, 2009
On December 17 the We Do Not Consent blog broke the story that Humboldt, CA Registrar of Voters Carolyn Crnich had announced to the Election Advisory Committee (EAC) the previous evening her intention to replace Diebold/Premier "election" junk with comparable secret vote counting computers from Hart InterCivic. I've posted a few times about the need for a public due diligence process around multiple Diebold alternatives, including a letter published in the Eureka Times-Standard and another that ran in the North Coast Journal. Both letters were based on the recent news of a Diebold programming failure that secretly deleted 197 ballots and led to inaccurate election results being certified here. Both letters were also written prior to learning about Crnich's proposed switch. Efforts to spark such a community dialog are happening today in multiple forms, and on the heels of a major new development.
In a phone call this morning, Crnich acknowledged that in November she discussed the planned changes with a small number of volunteers who were asked to keep it a secret. Parke Bostrom is an EAC and ETP (Election Transparency Project) volunteer who has also worked closely with Crnich as an election day poll worker and overall observer of the Elections Department. Yesterday Bostrom posted The "Spend Pork Wisely" Petition that begins:
Petition calling for public discussion of Humboldt County's plan to purchase $600,000 of Hart InterCivic eScan election equipment.The full petition text appears here and at the bottom of this post. Crnich has now tried twice without success to get the matter on the Supes agenda. As I noted on 12/17, her first attempt was for the December 16 Supes meeting, which would have done the deed even before fully revealing the secret at that night's EAC meeting - at which Crnich also said she had hoped to take delivery of nearly 80 new machines the next day in order to get a $28,000 discount offered by Hart if the deal could be completed by year's end.
WHEREAS, at the November 18th monthly public meeting of the Humboldt Election Advisory Committee, County Clerk, Recorder and Registrar of Voters Carolyn Crnich announced the Elections Office's plan to stop using the county's Diebold/Premier AccuVote/GEMS elections equipment and replace it with similar Hart InterCivic eScan equipment.
And WHEREAS, County Clerk, Recorder and Registrar of Voters Crnich then asked those attending the public meeting to keep this plan secret until at least mid-December, thereby minimizing the opportunity for public discussion of the plan prior to receiving approval for the plan from the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors.
The Humboldt Board of Supervisors met again today without taking this on, leaving us planning for a January 13 agenda item, but taking action now with outreach to media as well as the Supes and various local City Councils, whose members we hope will encourage the Supes to have a public process. Eureka Councilman Larry Glass encouraged such an approach when I spoke with him this past Saturday evening in his Old Town music store. (Also worth noting: Glass recently made news for heroically rescuing a would-be suicide jumper into Humboldt Bay).
My 12/17 exclusive landed as the top story on that day's Daily Voting News, compiled by John Gideon of VotersUnite.org. Two days later, BradBlog quoted me heavily and advanced Gideon's observation that Hart InterCivic had withdrawn from the federal certification process. Bostrom's petition puts a fine point on this:
And WHEREAS, the version of the Hart InterCivic eScan equipment the Elections Office is planning to purchase is also an old version of the eScan system, as Hart InterCivic has been unable to receive certification from the California Secretary of State for the most recent and up-to-date version of the eScan system.The Times-Standard has followed up twice since I broke the story of the proposed switch. In a quote of note in the December 22 article (archive), Crnich says, "This plan that is proposed pre-dates any of the problems that were found to exist in this election."
And WHEREAS, Hart InterCivic has withdrawn from the certification process and is not currently seeking certification for use in California of the most recent and up-to-date version of the eScan system; and consequently, so long as Hart InterCivic remains disengaged from the certification process, it will not be legally possible to apply any software upgrades that may be necessary to prevent future invisible failures of the old version of the eScan system
The same article also reports Congressman Mike Thompson sent a letter to "federal elections officials," about his concern over the invisible failure. I wonder if he knew then or even knows now that some votes for him were among those deleted (as Bostrom notes in the petition). I am awaiting a call back from Thompson's office in Eureka.
The T-S followed up again on December 29 (archive) reporting Thompson's letter got the attention of Election Assistance Commission Chairwoman Rosemary Rodriguez, who claims her horribly ineffectual board "doesn't have the authority or capacity to launch independent investigations." She does pledge, and seem to want a gold star for, her intention to "disseminate the contents of the Humboldt County report to elections officials from coast to coast [to] prevent similar problems from occurring elsewhere." What a good idea. If only it weren't the repeatedly unfulfilled yet HAVA-mandated purpose for her existence.
Also check out the first half of hour three of the December 19 Peter B. Collins show when I called in to discuss all this with PBC, Brad Friedman, and Harvey Wasserman.
Happenings in the Humboldt Elections Department have been making national news for a while now. Generally speaking, Crnich has earned lots of fans for her willingness to work with the great team of citizen volunteers that have made the ETP happen. In addition to Bostrom, credit, praise and thanks also rightfully go to Kevin Collins, Mitch Trachtenberg, and Tom Pinto.
With such involved interactions and access to Crnich, these guys have gained her trust and confidence, resulting in candid sharing of information. However, Crnich's request for secrecy, and the volunteers' granting of this request, is not the kind of transparency we deserve from our local government, particularly in the context of a so-called Election Transparency Project.
Asked to comment on Bostrom's petition, Crnich told me she is "ready to move forward," and the idea of slowing down for a public due diligence process would be a "serious impediment to progress" because it puts needed training on hold. While Crnich calls the lateral move from Diebold to Hart "progress," I see it as a false alternative.
I have been unable to reach Collins and Trachtenberg for comment on the petition and secrecy issue, however, Pinto provided the following in an e-mail early this morning:
In my opinion, citizens are being offered a disappointing menu of choices with regards to election systems. I really hope the CA Sec. of State will offer us the option of using an election system that incorporates open source technology. However, that option is not being offered at this time.I concede that I missed several consecutive EAC meetings at which Hart equipment was apparently discussed and even demonstrated (Crnich even chided me for this when I arrived at the December meeting). However, I do not think that these small and largely undocumented meetings, of a committee with no formal mandate from the county, constitute a sufficient public process. Pinto notes that "interested persons" have been given an opportunity to weigh in, but not enough has been done to make the community at large aware of the proposed switch to Hart, let alone interested.
I think that CC [Carolyn Crnich] has made an acceptable decision to purchase Hart eScan based upon what is being offered by the State and based upon the age and problems of our existing software. I think CC has researched it sufficiently and she expects it to save [Elections Manager] Kelly [Sanders] a HUGE amount of time. I'm glad the Humboldt County Election Transparency Project is in place to the catch poll worker errors and software bugs (regardless of which proprietary system we're using). I hope that more citizen volunteers will participate in the next audit.
I think CC has done a first rate job of reaching out to citizens to participate. She has given interested persons, such as the ones who attend the EAC meetings, sufficient opportunity to voice any concerns about the eScan. She has also invited the public to inspect these machines. I respectfully question whether there is sufficient need for creating a formal time period for additional public participation. I also doubt that the conclusion of such a comment period would result in any difference the current plan. However, I do not object to the creation of formal public comment period.
Bostrom's petition at least seeks to bridge this gap, also noting that the contract for the proposed switch to Hart has not even been made public yet. That aspect alone deserves rigorous public scrutiny. I'll have more on this developing story in the days ahead.
* * *
Petition calling for public discussion of Humboldt County's plan to purchase $600,000 of Hart InterCivic eScan election equipment.
WHEREAS, at the November 18th monthly public meeting of the Humboldt Election Advisory Committee, County Clerk, Recorder and Registrar of Voters Carolyn Crnich announced the Elections Office's plan to stop using the county's Diebold/Premier AccuVote/GEMS elections equipment and replace it with similar Hart InterCivic eScan equipment.
And WHEREAS, County Clerk, Recorder and Registrar of Voters Crnich then asked those attending the public meeting to keep this plan secret until at least mid-December, thereby minimizing the opportunity for public discussion of the plan prior to receiving approval for the plan from the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors.
And WHEREAS, on the evening of December 16th, at the next monthly public meeting of the Humboldt Election Advisory Committee, after 197 ballots had been invisibly deleted by an invisible failure of the AccuVote/GEMS equipment, when asked what the planned response to the invisible AccuVote/GEMS failure would be, and having been bumped from the overfull agenda of the Board of Supervisors meeting that very morning, County Clerk, Recorder and Registrar of Voters Crnich publicly announced the plan to purchase the eScan equipment.
And WHEREAS, the invisible failure of the AccuVote/GEMS system deleted 114 votes for Representative Mike Thompson; 102 votes for Assembly Member Wes Chesbro; 76 and 148 votes for, respectively, City of Eureka Councilpersons Linda Atkins and Frank Jager; 110 and 84 votes, respectively, for and against California's Proposition 8; 83 and 113 votes, respectively, for and against City of Eureka Measure J.
And WHEREAS, the invisible failure of the AccuVote/GEMS system is believed to be due to a bug in the old version of the GEMS equipment that is claimed to be fixed in the most recent version of GEMS available for use in California.
And WHEREAS, the version of the Hart InterCivic eScan equipment the Elections Office is planning to purchase is also an old version of the eScan system, as Hart InterCivic has been unable to receive certification from the California Secretary of State for the most recent and up-to-date version of the eScan system.
And WHEREAS, Hart InterCivic has withdrawn from the certification process and is not currently seeking certification for use in California of the most recent and up-to-date version of the eScan system; and consequently, so long as Hart InterCivic remains disengaged from the certification process, it will not be legally possible to apply any software upgrades that may be necessary to prevent future invisible failures of the old version of the eScan system.
And WHEREAS, the cost to purchase the old version of the eScan system will be in excess of $600,000 of taxpayer money.
And WHEREAS, as of January 5, 2009, the proposed contract with Hart InterCivic has not been publicly disclosed, and consequently there has not been any open public discussion of the specific plan to purchase the old version of the eScan system.
And WHEREAS, open public discussion of the plan to purchase the old version the eScan system is a reasonable step to take to reduce the likelihood of future invisible failures of election systems.
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that we, the undersigned concerned citizens call upon County Clerk, Recorder and Registrar of Voters Carolyn Crnich, and also upon the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors to take the following steps to promote public confidence in the outcome of future elections in Humboldt County:
1. The county SHALL issue a press release containing the proposed contract with Hart InterCivic and inviting the public to submit written questions, comments and concerns regarding the planned purchase and use of the old version of the Hart InterCivic eScan system.
2. Following the publication of the press release, the county SHALL give the public at least 2 weeks to submit such written questions, comments, and concerns.
3. At the end of the submission period, the county SHALL publish, in an electronic format, all the questions, comments and concerns submitted by the public.
4. Within a reasonable period of time thereafter, the county SHALL prepare written responses to all the public's questions, comments, and concerns. In preparing said responses, the county may, if it so wishes, consult with Hart InterCivic and/or any other parties.
5. When the county finishes preparing written responses, the county SHALL publish, in an electronic format, the public's questions, comments and concerns together with the county's responses.
6. Following the publication of the county's responses, there SHALL be a period of reflection. The period of reflection of SHALL be at least one week long.
7. Prior to the conclusion of the period of reflection, the Board of Supervisors SHALL NOT approve the purchase of the old version of the eScan system.
8. After the conclusion of the period of reflection, the Board of Supervisors may create an agenda item for an open public hearing of the request to purchase the old version of the eScan system.
9. Additionally, if the Board of Supervisors is interested in considering, in a thoughtful and deliberate manner, alternatives other than the purchase of the old version of the eScan system, we recommend to the board that now, prior to the purchase of the old version of the eScan system, is a very good time to consider any such alternatives.
Sign the Petition
Labels: Carolyn Crnich, Diebold, Election Advisory Committee, eScan, Hart Intercivic, Kevin Collins, Larry Glass, Mike Thompson, Mitch Trachtenberg, Parke Bostrom, petition, T-S, The Journal, Tom Pinto