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Newsletter – October 2021

Welcome to the Halloween edition of Speak Up for Good Government! Although Halloween is one of my favorite holidays, I will try not to make this month's newsletter too spooky.

Establishing and enforcing strict rules to prevent conflicts of interest will go a long way towards establishing the effective and accountable government we want and need. Late last month, Issue One sent out an email that summarizes their research on "How leadership PACs became politicians' preferred ticket to luxury living". Simply put, "some politicians are amassing money from special interests in their leadership PACs to foot the bill for meals at fancy restaurants, trips to elite resorts, rounds of golf at premier courses, and more." Here's a link to a petition that urges Congress to close the loop

that allows politician to use funds from leadership PACs for personal


Last month, I mentioned The American Society for Quality Government Division's Election Integrity Working Group. That team has established a Center for Electoral Quality and Integrity (CEQI). The vision for the CEQI is to be known as a resource that government leaders and citizens turn to regarding the standardization of election processes that ensures the highest possible quality and integrity. I share their belief that it's possible and essential to make it "easy to vote and hard to cheat." My understanding is

that Kentucky is a best practice for this principle.

I continue to be very interested in the work of Voice of the People. Their

work strongly supports and promotes an active partnership between the public

and our elected officials. Check out this Policymaking Simulation on paid family and medical leave legislation in front of Congress. In this simulation, you will be introduced to the proposal that would guarantee up to 12 weeks of family or medical leave per year for all workers and cover the cost of two thirds of workers' earnings during that period. Once you finish the simulation, you'll have a chance to send your recommendation to your Congresspeople.

Last week I attended Global Fact 8, a virtual conference dedicated to fact-checking worldwide. As indicated by the title, this is the eighth year of the conference, with the last two years being virtual due to the pandemic. I was struck by the truly global nature of the conference with presenters and attendees from all over the world. The work of fact-checkers and the International Fact-Checking Network is truly critical to ensuring

the availability of accurate and unbiased information.

Some key takeaways from the conference:

  • Tech, including the Google News network, TikTok, and Facebook were sponsors and active participants in the conference.

  • The role and responsibility of tech regarding disinformation and the impact of social media on children, etc. are worthy of scrutiny and potential regulation.

  • Although it could be argued that tech's active involvement in the fact-checking community might be somewhat self-serving, I came away with the impression that they are vested in fact-checking and it would be most effective for dialog to be collaborative with broad-based representation on panels that draft future regulations. Those panels should include social media representatives and everyday users.

  • As I read in one article this morning, Facebook failed or struggled to address the issues related to "Stop the Steal" groups and posts immediately after last year's election. Bottom line, although social media has some culpability in the spread of disinformation, I believe we will be better off if they are involved in crafting solutions.

  • There is a fine-line between censorship and promoting factual information.

  • Fact checkers are subject to considerable harassment in their work.

  • Effective fact-checking requires access to good/reliable underlying data. This is part of the challenge of making fact-checking quick and easy for the "average person".

Speak Up for Good Government has been primarily a source of information for newsletter recipients and subscribers. In order for us to achieve our objectives, we need to be part of an active grass roots movement that advocates for and facilitates change. Next month we hope to unveil our new and improved website that will include calls to action and will ultimately facilitate online dialog and collaboration. As such, I will be promoting active engagement and feedback initiated through these newsletters and through the website.

To start the engagement and feedback, I'd like your opinion on whether I should add a tenth principle that speaks to gerrymandering. It seems to me that a truly representative Congress will be more responsive and more able to come up with common sense solutions that solve our critical problems. I was reading an article last week that detailed the diminishing number of competitive districts and the impact that has on reducing collaboration and increasing polarization. Let me know your thoughts on adding a gerrymandering principle. I've added voting buttons to this email that should make it very easy for you to let me know whether a gerrymandering principle should be added. I look forward to your feedback!

Anticipated themes for next month include the rollout of our updated website and an update on outreach to some of the organizations I have previously connected with.

Have a great Halloween and a safe and restful Thanksgiving.



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