Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Model Ordinance

Please feel free to use this template to design one appropriate for your town or county.


The people of Corvallis, Oregon, hereby ordain the following and instruct the City Attorney to insert these words in an orderly manner into the Corvallis Municipal Code:


This ordinance is designed to empower any candidate for public office to run a viable campaign in Corvallis, Oregon through communicating with voters, regardless of that candidate’s financial status, by giving free media airtime to qualified candidates.


“Qualified candidate” is a person who has met the legal requirements of filing for office necessary to be listed on the ballot in Corvallis and has presented to the Benton County Auditor a petition of support for candidacy signed by at least 1% of the eligible voters of Corvallis. Candidates may be jointly listed on the same petition.

“Media outlet” includes every television or radio station broadcasting over the public airwaves from within Corvallis and every cable television service with customers living inside Corvallis. Others who seek to inform the people of the region may choose to be included in the definition of media outlet.

“Campaign communication” means messages to the public, consistent with FCC regulations and about the advantages of electing a specific candidate. For the purposes of this act, these messages may not include statements about the disadvantages of an opponent.


Effective upon passage of this ordnance, as a condition of maintaining public trust, each media outlet shall provide without charge to each qualified candidate an equal amount of airtime for campaign communication. Said airtime will include at least 30 minutes per qualified candidate in each of the three months prior to the election for which the candidate is qualified. In addition, if any media outlet provides airtime to a candidate or any person expressing an opinion about the election for pay, that same media outlet shall provide equal time at no cost to each qualified candidate seeking election to the same position.

Whenever a qualified candidate is provided airtime by a media outlet as required by this ordinance, that candidate may choose the scheduled distribution of that airtime, within the constraints of the station’s normal scheduling practices. For example, one thirty-minute segment is the equivalent of thirty one-minute segments or one fifteen-minute segment plus three five-minute segments, assuming that the station regularly airs segments of each of these lengths. Each segment will air at whatever time the qualified candidate may specify.

The qualified candidate may decide whether the campaign communication is to be recorded elsewhere or within the facilities of the media outlet, or broadcast live. The media outlet may require that the campaign communication meet the definition in this ordinance and any reasonable technical standards, as long as those standards are no more stringent than for paid advertising.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Bike4Peace 2010

I'm so excited about the ride coming up this summer. It seems we'll have converging rides from south and north meeting us in DC. I'm sure the community discussions will change lives. And I know riding will change mine.

I've been working to promote the ride on all the social networks, driving my friends and family insane with the repetition. Latest is this fun petition:
If enough people sign it, it could really help us to get some momentum with the media.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010


A big chunk of my life has engaged me as a citizen lobbyist. Because I was expelled for long hair, I spent what would have been my junior year in high school in the Montana State Legislature. It was very empowering. I learned that one voice speaking truth can accomplish a lot. To this day I contact my representatives at every level of government frequently.

But I have no hope for a benevolent government that solves our problems. It will take every ounce of energy just to limit the federal government from becoming even more oppressive. Our Congress, supported by Presidents of both parties has doubled the national debt with unconscionable giveaways to corporate fat cats. We have a greater percentage of our population behind bars than any other society. Our military occupies more than half the countries on earth and threatens the others. We keep paying more and more to a system that actively recruits its own enemies before torturing and killing them and any innocent who gets in the way.

Even our state governments are composed of the best politicians that money can buy. The divide and conquer, two party system has us fighting tooth and nail over who can marry, while there's barely a word about gutting effective social programs and building more prisons. Perhaps some day we can retake state institutions with democratic action, but we'll have to learn a new way to play the game first. Politics as usual will only make the situation worse.

My greatest hope for the radical governmental reforms we need rest at the most local levels. We can build a multiparty democracy from the grassroots by restructuring local governments. When the City Council is elected by Proportional Representation and the County Executive chosen through Ranked Preference Voting, we'll be setting a good example for surrounding communities. Any jurisdiction has the authority to require broadcasters, including cable TV, to provide free, equal air time to every candidate who qualifies by collecting voters' signatures.

When it comes down to it, good government has to be based upon free choices of individual citizens. No benevolent patriarchal system will enforce good behavior without corrupting into an oppressive autocracy. As a community, we can democratically decide how we will empower people to do the right thing. By teaching effective nonviolent techniques, we can encourage every person to behave in a way that supports the community upon which we all depend. This normal healthy behavior has been modeled in indigenous communities around the world.

So this is my litmus test for social change proposals. Does it recognize the healthy flow of power from diverse individuals? Does it empower good behavior? I will not support top down, force fed solutions. I will not pay taxes to governments that work that way. I will not work for nor buy from corporations that support a corrupt hierarchy. My energy will go into worthwhile empowering projects at the local level. I hope you can say the same.