About Me

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Perhaps the best way to describe me is that I have gravitated toward the “road less traveled” in my choices.

 

Citizen Engagement and Empowerment


Virtually every country starts with an aspiration to give power to its people, but, over time, those who believe they are wiser, morally superior, or stronger take more power away from the people.  Left unchecked, even democratic governments encroach on the powers and lives of ordinary citizens.

How do we prevent that from continuing here and, in fact, reverse it?

We should make it easier for ordinary citizens to vote, to communicate with their government, to run for office and to contribute to political campaigns. Voting should take place over several weeks, and those registered to vote should be able to vote by mail or to receive their ballots in the mail and deliver their ballots in person.  We should schedule even primary elections this way.

We have made it very difficult for ordinary citizens to be heard on critical issues.  In Connecticut, many important meetings or hearings are held at the legislative office building in Hartford, when it is relatively easy to schedule multiple hearings at more dispersed and convenient locations around the State to get the public’s input.  We also should be using more digital tools to enable public input on issues.

Running for office has become extremely expensive, very degrading, and very complicated.  Many good people simply choose not to run, and many others are drained by the experience.  The ability to withstand the rigors of a campaign is a necessary skill, but it does not predict or indicate whether someone can govern once elected.

Contributing to campaigns has become more complicated, because of the various well-intentioned laws and regulations that have been put into place over the last four decades. 

Government officials also need to revisit past laws and regulations to see what should be discontinued or modified.  As Philip Howard, the founder of Common Good, has pointed out many times, laws and regulations, once enacted, stay in place forever, and strangle innovation and freedom.

Connecticut has a “part-time” legislature, which would appear to reduce the potential for corruption.  However, many legislators work in services firms through which they become instant “rainmakers,” because those seeking favors from them give their discretionary business.

Government will only operate consistent with our highest values and at its highest level of competence, accountability, transparency, fairness and trustworthiness if all of us stay engaged.

My wife had a recent conversation with an older Cuban man who said that the Cubans in the 1950’s were great business people who made money, built businesses, and enjoyed their lives.  They chose to ignore and disengage with government.  They did not see Fidel Castro coming, and they ended up losing the country they loved. 

Let’s not let that happen here!


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