An ENORMOUS thank you to the 768 (unofficial tally) voters in State College who voted for me to have a seat on Borough Council. I didn’t win that seat, but I estimated I would get about 200 votes. So getting almost four times that amount was a huge jolt of encouragement.
Thank you also to the people in and around State College who urged friends and neighbors to vote for me. I know that my perspectives and viewpoints are far outside the mainstream, and that it’s hard to have conversations about the things I write about and advocate. So I appreciate every single one of those conversations.
With the election over, I plan to return to focusing on publishing Bailiwick News.
I’ll try to tighten the focus on civics coverage, using State College Borough Council and a few other governing boards as case studies.
I’ll do some reporting and compare and contrast analysis, to unpack the differences between how we-the-people tend to think our self-government system works, with how it actually works in practice.
I.e., Local outcomes are pre-determined long before public meetings occur, because the range of options presented to elected officials has been narrowed to a tiny fraction of policy perspectives, controlled behind-the-scenes by unelected managers, corporate lobbyists and the state legislature and courts.
I also spent a good bit of time the last few months carving linoleum block type in 96-point font, for the purpose of printing custom posters on my self-built printing press (Owl & Turtle Press). I was inspired by a visit to Nashville’s Hatch Show Print last summer.
I built my printing press several years ago, and I have enough 10-point lead type to print a small newspaper in the event that computers and the Internet and photocopiers become unavailable.
For the last few years, I’ve mostly carved larger blocks of pictures, and created note cards and calendars.
But the moveable type for the posters is mostly inspired by my deep concern about the increasing marginalization of citizen voices during public meetings. Back in 2016, in State College, then-chair of Borough Council Tom Daubert pushed through what I dubbed the “Daubert Diktat.” It was “adopted” by council without any public comment and without even a vote on August 15, 2016. It was designed to further suppress any meaningful exchange of viewpoints between elected officials and the citizen-taxpayers they purportedly represent. (8.15.16 BC Daubert Diktat)
The Centre Region Council of Governments made a similar attempt to police the tone and content of public comment this past March, covered in the March 22, 2019 edition of Bailiwick News. A couple months later, at their June meeting, COG members backed off their effort to further kill public deliberation and the free exchange of ideas, settling for a short statement setting a five-minute time limit on public comment and noting that the COG General Forum chair can shorten that time at his or her discretion.
So my idea, for the moveable type, is to produce small posters that citizens can bring to public meetings, with short, legible feedback printed on them to facilitate silent, two-way, real-time communication between electeds and citizens.
Posters could say:
- “Good idea!”
- “Use the precautionary principle.”
- “We can’t afford that luxury.”
- “Unfunded mandate.”
- “This is an example of corporate Penn State burden-shifting.”
- “This is an example of state preemption of local self-governance.”
- “This is an example of a municipal solicitor narrowing your range of motion. Ignore him.”
- “Fuck you.”
So in the public meeting room, when a citizen wants to provide instantaneous yet silent feedback on what’s happening at the front, he or she can hold up a legible sign that corresponds, in full view of the electeds and in some case, the C-NET cameras.
Furthermore, electeds themselves can use printed posters to publicly, yet silently, indicate their views on topics under discussion, to whatever extent the electeds themselves believe that policy options are being unduly narrowed by unelected managers, and that deliberative opportunities – opportunities for one legislator to present information and analysis and persuasive language to other legislators, to change their minds – are being actively suppressed by the board chair and meeting “etiquette” protocols.
I have enough type carved to get started on this, and the posters are free.
Contact me at email@example.com to order.
Again, huge thanks to the voters who voted for me, and the supporters who supported me.
I will run again in 2021.