This post is aimed primarily at letting everyone who expressed an interest in the Grants Pass Coffee Party but has been unable to attend know what’s been happening. First a brief history:
- March 13 — Party #1. Was just me. Used the time to practice getting a table, setting up my laptop, calling people I knew to let them know about the party. It was great to talk to some of my activist friends, some of whom I hadn’t heard from for years. Got emails afterwards from 2 individuals who indicated they were interested and wanted to be kept in the loop.
- March 20 — Party #2. Was me plus one=2. Much more productive. We learned about the coffee sphere, compared our results, and decided that we had broad areas of agreement in most areas of public policy from Health Care to Education and the Economy. This we actually knew in advance, but it was interesting to see it verified more or less objectively with the Coffee Sphere.
- March 27 — Coffee Party Summit. I was in Portland for the weekend and attended a local coffee party up there. What a surprise! I found out that, Dave Varner, the local organizer, had put out exactly the same amount of effort as I had, i.e., basically entering an announcement on the National Coffee Party Website, and here in the coffee shop were TWENTY interested people as a result. Wow. Lots of good conversation. The group was able to come to a consensus of sort that the most important area for improvement is in the area of funding for leglislative / political processes. Areas touched on were corporate personhood, campaign finance reform, the lobby system, life after public service (corporate-Congressional revolving door).
- April 3 — No party. Just recovering from last weekend.
- April 10 — That brings me to today’s party. Total attendance: Four! All right! The numbers are moving in the right direction. One of today’s attendees, Dale Matthews, is a candidate for County Commissioner. So, predictably, much of the conversation revolved around local politics. We learned there is a candidates forum being sponsored by The Daily Courier on Tuesday, April 20 at the Anne Basker Auditorium at 6PM. There was the expected grumbling about the lack of political education and general apathy of the County’s electorate. But there was general sense that the corrupting influence of money in evidence at all levels of our politics from national to local is less the cause than a result of a general decline in standards of public behavior in politics. To me, this suggests that the Coffee Party may be on the right track in insisting on civility in public discourse, as one area where standards seem in a precipitous slide at the moment, as a fundamental priority.
In attempting to come to grips with this reality, we observed there are certainly other areas of concern, e.g., dishonesty, cronyism, irresponsibility, i.e., lack of accountability, and excessive secrecy or lack of transparency in the handling of the People’s money. Not even going to mention incompetence or lack of managerial know-how. We generally agreed with the importance of a two pronged approach to addressing the preceding flaws:
a. Shine a bright light on the wrongdoing and
b. Run and elect better, more virtuous leaders.
Other suggestions that were made for improvements:
- Full public funding of County elections.
- A petition drive for amending the County Charter to allow election finance reform
- Better use of social networking technology to aid in achieving point a., above
I would add the following suggestions (not discussed directly today) which I intend to follow myself.