Friday, June 01, 2007

Grassroots Committee Report

The report that follows is a first draft of a proposed Grassroots Plan for 2007-2008 for the Montgomery County Democratic Party. This Plan was presented to the Executive Committee of the Montgomery County Democrats at their May 31 meeting for discussion. No action was taken. The Plan will be posted on the Montgomery County Democratic Party's web-site and the Grassroots Committee is scheduled to meet again on June 19 to continue to work on this plan and to incorporate any feedback.

Proposed Grassroots Plan
For The Montgomery County
Democratic Party

This Grassroots Plan seeks to bring to greater reality in Montgomery County this vision of the Democratic Party, and seeks to deliver this message to the grassroots:
The Democratic Party is the party of the grassroots, the party of the people. We are dedicated to advancing the common good, and dedicated to empowering the grassroots to effectively participate in their democracy.
To better fulfill this vision, and to better deliver this message, this Plan outlines actions to improve:
  • The degree and the way that we organize ourselves.
  • The degree and the way that we educate the grassroots.
As to organizational structure, this Plan recommends, in general, the formation of focused communities (Appendix A); as to education, the Plan recommends the development and wide use of video. The Plan recommends these actions:
  1. Organize by Ohio House Districts. Five District Teams should consist be formed and, initially, these teams should consist of the ward and precinct leaders within a particular Ohio House District.
  2. Organize by High Schools. Each District Teams should be subdivided into High School Committees.
  3. Establish nonpartisan partnerships to help advance educational efforts. Support the forming of high school Political / Video Clubs under the leadership of a nonpartisan group such as The League of Women Voters.
  4. Create two US Congressional Committees: one to work in the US 3rd Congressional District, and one to work in the US 8th Congressional District.
  5. Empower the precinct captains.
  6. Build a technological infrastructure.
  7. Create Alternative Media Realities via the internet.

Action 1: Organize by Ohio House Districts
This Plan recommends that Democrats in the five Ohio House Districts that make up Montgomery County organize themselves into distinct committees with descriptive names, such as District 37 Democrats, and, that the Ward Leaders and precinct captains within each District serve as the initial organizational committee and the initial leadership for each District Committee. The recommendation is that each District Committee initiate a web-site where data and information can be accumulated and where democrats within the district can communicate with each other. These web-sites should then be embedded into one web location.

One key purpose for forming these District Committees is the creation of infrastructure that will help assist primary candidates. A key purpose is to find and encourage good candidate to run in the Democratic primary -- with emphasis on finding Democrats to run as representatives in the Ohio House.

In District 39, Democrat Clayton Luckie is the only incumbent Ohio House member from Montgomery County that will not be prohibited, because of term limitation laws, from seeking reelection in 2008. This Plan proposes that Representative Luckie implement a model of democratic representation that uses technology to help him be a more effective representative, and that will establish a model of excellence that other Democratic Ohio House candidates in Montgomery County districts, in their campaigns, can promise to emulate. (See Appendix B.)

Action 2: Organize by High School Districts
The Plan recommends that each District Committee be divided into subcommittees, one for each high school within that district. Within each Ohio House District, each high school should become the center for grassroots activity and this activity will be coordinated within a community of voters who identify with that high school.

The Plan recommends that within each high school a Political / Video Club be formed in affiliation with a nonpartisan entity such as The League of Women Voters. The idea is that The District High School Committee should actively support these high school clubs with resources and encouragement, and the activities of the clubs should focus on education -- via research, events, dialogue, debates, etc. -- concerning issues and candidates and should produce videos that capture that education. The idea is that some or all of these high school clubs should identify with specific primary candidates that the club will support.

Action 3: Establish Partnership For Educational Efforts
It is a widely shared belief that the public should acquire a deeper understanding about public matters, and should become more actively involved in their democracy. The chance for us to accomplish the key task of effectively delivering our message to the electorate depends upon our helping the electorate become more informed, aware and thoughtful.

Helping the electorate become informed is a important goal for our party, but, this goal, by itself, is not a partisan goal. Our chance to accomplish this goal is improved by finding a nonpartisan means to focus our efforts, and one means to do that is to find a way to cooperate with a nonpartisan group such as The League of Women Voters. (See Appendix C.)

Action 4: Create US Congressional Committees
Two separate US Congressional Committees should be formed. One committee will focus on the 3rd US congressional district, and one committee will focus on the 8th congressional district. These committees will be responsible for in-depth research on Mike Turner and John Boehner and will produce videos that summarize their research. These committees will be responsible for building infrastructure within each district, vetting and encouraging possible candidates, and raising money for these congressional races.

Action 5: Empower the Precinct Captains
The Plan recommends that the role of precinct captains be enhanced and emphasized. Precinct captains would be united into common efforts that involve much contact and communication with the grassroots. This Plan recommends that precinct captains assume these roles: contacting voters in his or her precinct and finding information to be entered into a general data base collecting money within the precinct for use for use in precinct activities. For example, a precinct captain should acquire funds to help finance refreshments / food for neighborhood meetings, meetings in individual’s homes, block parties where candidates could appear, etc. Precinct captains should be provided with a variety of ways to raise money -- including selling items as fund raisers. This Plan recommends that up to 30% of money that a precinct captain raises may be kept by the precinct captain to help pay his or her own expenses.

Action 6: Build a technological infrastructure
This Plan recommends that Montgomery County Democrats build an infrastructure that will empower it to effectively communicate via video productions. The infrastructure must include the training of interested individuals and the creation of a physical space appropriate for video production. This Plan recommends that Montgomery County Democrats investigate the feasibility of building a broadcasting studio in its downtown headquarters.

Action 7: Create Alternative Media Realities via The Internet
The fact that almost 60% of households are equipped with high speed internet means that a viable alternative media can be created an operated with little expense. Such media could include live news casts and could maintain a library of video and graphic information. (See Appendix D.) Attracting sufficient viewers is the challenge and much of this Plan centers of creating an infrastructure that will produce videos and news of sufficient interest and quality that viewers will be attracted. This Plan recommends that the Democratic Party implement a Request for Proposal (RFP) process as a means to encourage participation. (See Appendix E.)

Appendix A: The Creation of Communities
Project Grassroots centers on forming communities of small groups. Meetings of these small groups will often occur via internet connection rather than at a geographic location.

Countywide Leadership Council
This group will include the County Chair or his designate, District Coordinators for each Ohio House District, and other invited individuals chosen because of their capacity to contribute to leadership.

Ohio House District Leadership
Each Ohio House District will have a District Committee chaired by a District Coordinator that will meet on a regular basis. This committee will organize events, strategize approaches, raise funds. The focus of the committee will be to create an infrastructure within the district, and to find and encourage primary candidates.

Media Teams
Within each Ohio House District, there will be media teams who will work together to produce videos for posting on the internet.

Design Team
A committee of experienced visual designers will create images for specific reasons based on raw material and design ideas provided to them.

News Teams
One option for a media team will be the creation and production of a news cast on a periodic basis. The idea is to create an alternate news media source for viewers in Montgomery County that will be broadcast on a regular basis on the internet using a variety of news teams.

Polling Teams
Individuals with expertise in polling will form teams for the purpose of polling voters in specific district concerning specific questions / issues.

Issue Teams
Teams of individuals will center on researching specific issues and topics and collecting visual and written material pertaining to these topics. These teams will become experts concerning their specific topics of focus. The result of this research will be the production of video and written presentations to be posted on the internet. Issue teams will envision and script their presentations and will work with a specific media team to improve that vision and to implement a final product. Issue teams will work with all announced Ohio House candidates in periodic seminar settings for the purpose of educating these candidates concerning the issues and topics with which the teams have gained expertise.

Candidate Teams
Each announced candidates for the Ohio House will organize campaign teams to
help with his or her candidacy. These teams will have access to receive help from the media teams and the issue teams.

Web-Site Team
All of the information gathered by the above teams will be synthesized into a cutting edge web site. A team will help design, maintain and constantly improve this web-site.

Democratic Clubs
A Democratic Club is any self selected group that organizes itself and is approved by the District Coordinator. A club may consist of only a handful of members or it may contain a large number.

Approval of a Democratic Club will be based on a list of criteria, the meeting of which will give assurance that groups who identify with the Democratic Party are legitimate groups. A Democratic Club may be internet based and may use such frequented sites as MySpace as their meeting location. A Democratic Club may organize for the purpose of supporting a specific candidate, may elect officers, etc. A Democratic Club may help organize events such as candidate debates or issue seminars, and may sponsor any of the various teams described above (issue, media, news, etc.) The hope is to create Democratic Clubs in district high schools who will be active in participating in Operation Grassroots.

Appendix B: Demonstrating an Exemplary Model
Of Democratic Representation
The question of how to communicate and meaningfully dialogue with constituents has been a a central challenge for effective democratic representation since pioneer days. Representative Districts have become increasingly more populated and therefore the amount of time that a representative can devote to one constituent, over time, has decreased dramatically. The smallest unit of state representation is huge. Each Ohio House District now contains over 100,000 voters and is divided into over 100 precincts.

Modern technology can help because now over 60% of household have high speed internet connection and are, therefore, able to stream live video over their computers and are able to communicate and download information very inexpensively. Modern technology makes it possible to accomplish what previously would have seemed impractical or impossible to even attempt.

In-Depth Interview
Periodically, via the internet, the State Representative could address his or her constituents via an open interview and respond in real time to live questions and comments.

Open Forum
Periodically, via the internet, meetings could be scheduled that would be open to all constituents. In these meetings current issues could be presented, questions answered, and opposing views acknowledged and responded to. At such meetings straw votes concerning issues of interest could be conducted and the results tallied for everyone to see.

District Representative Council
An elected Ohio House Representative should have a Representative Council that he or she consults with on a regular basis. In addition to identified Republicans and Democrats on this council, there should also be independent members as well. The Representative Council could serve as the eyes and ears of the elected Ohio House Representative and could keep him or her informed about the issues that are impacting the grassroots.

It is important for a representative to know how his or her constituents think about matters -- if he or she is to act as an effective representative. In the Representative Council, there could be straw votes, maybe broken down by party affiliation. And in this council the elected Representative would explain his or her thinking concerning why he or she voted in a certain manner. Again this could all happen via the internet and could be open for public observation.

A Permanent Record
The Open Forum and Representative Council would be live events -- open for anyone to observe. Only active Council members would be permitted to actively participate in some of the Council’s activities, but some activity would be open to everyone who wanted to log into the site. A video record of the council’s meetings would be posted on the Representative’s web site so that the council’s work could be viewed at any time.

Appendix C: Letter to League of Women Voters
Dear League of Women Voters:
One goal of The Grassroots Committee for the Montgomery County Democratic Party is to find ways for our party to effectively deliver its message to the grassroots. To accomplish this great goal we must find ways to educate the public.

The Grassroots Committee acknowledges that education best happens through nonpartisan approaches and, therefore, it urges the Montgomery County Democratic Party, if at all possible, to find a way to effectively collaborate with a a nonpartisan, educational group as part of a comprehensive education strategy.

The mission statement of the League of Women Voters reads:
The League of Women Voters, a nonpartisan political organization, encourages informed and active participation in government, works to increase understanding of major public policy issues, and influences public policy through education and advocacy.
To accomplish these great goals, The League of Women Voters, also, must find ways to educate the public. The Grassroots Committee would like to explore the possibility of working cooperatively with The League of Women Voters on a county wide educational effort to educate the public. The goal is to educate by creating opportunities for positive engagement and focused thinking, to educate by inspiring rational analysis, to educate by motivating inquiry. The goal is to enable and to inspire an increased number of Montgomery County voters to think for themselves, and to think with clarity and honesty.

This letter outlines an educational effort that the Grassroots Committee feels would help The League of Women Voters and The Democratic Party achieve their mutual goal of educating the public. We are asking for input concerning ideas for improvement and/or change in this first draft of this proposal,

Thank you for your consideration.

Letter to the President of The League of Women Voters
To: Sharon Harmer, President League of Women Voters
From: Mike Bock, Montgomery County Democratic Party Grassroots Committee

Dear Sharon,
I have enjoyed and appreciated talking by telephone with the office manager for Dayton's League of Women Voters, Sandra Mants.

Attached is a draft of a proposed Grassroots Plan that is being discussed by the Montgomery Country Democratic Party's Grassroots Committee. This Plan proposes that the Montgomery County Democratic Party find a way to work cooperatively with a nonpartisan organization that emphasizes educating the public concerning public and political issues and that encourages active political participation. The League of Women Voters is an excellent organization, and, in short, I feel that the Montgomery County Democratic Party should find a way to work positively with The League of Women Voters.

The Grassroots Plan proposes that Political / Video Clubs be formed in all Montgomery County high schools. (Maybe there is a better name.) These would be learning clubs that would invite students of all political backgrounds to participate. The emphasis would be on creating videos that would inform -- and then to use these videos as a means to communicate and to inspire reaction, more research, etc. These videos, in part, may be a response to a Request for Proposals made available to each school. And eventually these videos would become part of an extensive and cutting edge web-site. (See page 11.) My thought again, is that such a web-site could be a League of Women Voter's web-site and could be seen as an in-depth extension of your educational efforts.

The goal is, "to educate by creating opportunities for positive engagement and focused thinking, to educate by inspiring rational analysis, to educate by motivating inquiry." High schools would welcome a program of ideas and methods to bring such education to reality. I next intend on writing a detailed proposal to show specifically what such an education could look like, and how such an education could be implemented so that the requirement that it be nonpartisan will be convincingly demonstrated.
Sincerely, Mike Bock

Appendix D: A Cutting Edge Web-Site / Alternative Media
The Democratic Party must either create a cutting edge web site that will include these features below, or contribute to the efforts of a nonprofit group, such as The League of Women Voters, who would create such a web site. In one location, this web-site should include:
  1. An depth record of ongoing discussions of key issues facing the state, organized for easy referencing. This record will include video of thoughtful presentations that show in-depth analysis, video panel discussions, video individual reactions, and written reports.
  2. An-depth record of information concerning the position of member of the Ohio House of Representatives -- the responsibilities and challenges of the the position of House Representative. This information will include video interviews, video explanations, and, again, will be organized for easy and quick referencing.
  3. In-depth interviews with potential Ohio House candidates -- organized according to districts.
  4. Daily news casts at a specific time of day, created by rotating staffs, with each staff creating a weekly program.
  5. A easy way to reference prior news casts according to topic or person.
  6. A video record of primary events showing meetings of primary candidates in homes and neighborhoods.
  7. On-line surveys, straw votes, where visitors to the site where visitors can vote on specific questions.
  8. The calendar of events within a district such as club meetings or neighborhood meetings.
  9. Organized discussions broadcast at specific times that welcome participation of visitors to the discussion.
  10. The chance to vote on on-line contests and the subsequent posting of the results of these contests -- for video, electronic posters, news casts, etc.
  11. Periodic member meetings -- open only to paying members -- where issues of the district budget and overall strategy are discussed and settled by democratic processes. (See Appendix H.)
  12. The opportunity to make donations specified for specific purposes -- via paypal.

Appendix E
Sample Requests For Proposals

Sample #1: Request for Proposal
The Democratic Party is seeking art posters that will celebrate DEMOCRACY through compelling images. Such posters will:
  1. Be created as electronic images and will be dimensioned s that they will fill a physical image of 27 inches by 17 inches.
  2. Include in large print the word: DEMOCRACY (not necessarily all caps)
  3. Include an image or images that convey either a compelling meaning of DEMOCRACY or a compelling anticipation of or longing for DEMOCRACY (as in immigrants arriving in America). These images may be photographic or may be images of your own composition.
  4. Include the words:
Montgomery County Democratic Party
November, 2007 to November, 2008

The following prizes will be awarded:
1st prize Internet Vote: $50 2nd prize Internet Vote: $25
3rd prize Internet Vote: $15 4th prize Internet Vote: $10
5th prize Internet Vote: $10
Those posters selected for printing will be determined by judges and will be sold for $10 each with 50% of the proceeds going to the contributing artist.

Sample #2: Request for Proposal

  1. The Democratic Party is seeking short videos that celebrate DEMOCRACY. Such videos will:
  2. not exceed 150 seconds in viewing time
  3. be ideal for youtube or ipod viewing
  4. Include in large print the word: DEMOCRACY (not necessarily all caps)
  5. Include images that convey either a compelling meaning of DEMOCRACY and / or a compelling anticipation of or longing for DEMOCRACY (as in immigrants arriving in America). Include spoken words, including, if you so choose, interviews that highlight the importance or the value of DEMOCRACY
  6. Include the following written words on screen for 10 seconds or more:
Montgomery County Democratic Party
November, 2007 to November, 2008

The following prizes will be awarded
1st prize Internet Vote: $50 2nd prize Internet Vote: $25
3rd prize Internet Vote: $15 4th prize Internet Vote: $10
5th prize Internet Vote: $10

Sample #3: Request for Proposal
The Democratic Party is seeking a individual who will produce a short video concerning a issue facing Ohio voters. This video will not exceed eight minutes and will be part of a series of videos used for discussion purposes. this video will become part of an ongoing record on an interactive web-site.
The individual we are seeking will:
  • have access to video editing programs and high speed internet access.
  • have previously completed at least one advanced video project.
  • will use materials and videos collected by an issues team and a script outline produced by the issues team to create an edited video.
  • Will use advanced video techniques when possible and appropriate
  • will create a rough draft video and will revise based upon feedback from issues team
Upon completion of this video this individual will receive a certificate of appreciation and a detailed letter of thanks appropriate for inclusion in a resume. In appreciation this individual will also be credited on the web-site and on the video title and will receive a thank you gift to a local restaurant with a value of at least $50.

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