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Quit Playing Victim: Creating a Better America Takes Action, Not Finger Pointing

Fri, 2018-04-20 13:27

Quit Playing Victim: Creating a Better America Takes Action, Not Finger Pointing

What do you think about the state of our country today? And what is your opinion about our society?  These are things I think about every day.

I think our country is at risk—slipping out of our representative democracy that is formally called a republic and informally called a democracy. And my opinion about our society is that we blame problems on “those people” too much and don’t have enough collaborative problem solving.

And the result of this societal game of “victim, victim, who’s the biggest victim?” is detrimental to our civic health and community well-being. (If you just had a reaction to that statement, keep reading!)

My choice in life is to do something constructive and contributory — no matter my personal situation. And sometimes that’s really, really hard. Especially when I’m angry and just want to pile on to the blame game. The blame game is easy.

Citizenship is harder. Recovering a lost democracy is dang-near impossible. We all pick our battles.

My choice in life is to do something constructive and contributory — no matter my personal situation. Debilyn Molineaux, Co-Director of Bridge Alliance

We often do battle within ourselves, too. We value being rational and non-emotional. Yet as human beings, we are actually ruled by our emotions.

Some of the most rational people I know will passionately defend how non-emotional they are. It’s ironic. But almost every decision we make must be emotionally approved or we won’t do it.

In other words, does this decision feel right? What do we actually mean by “feels right?”

People describe this process of emotional buy-in as intuition, or a gut feeling, or heart-centered. It’s our way of checking for emotional safety as we live our lives.

This is a fallible system. It’s based on what we know and have experienced in the past.

The old, existing system doesn’t often say “this new, scary thing you’ve decided is OK with me!” Instead, it fights like hell saying, “No — don’t do that! Danger!”

And this is exactly the point. New and different = danger. Old and comfortable = safe.

But what if old and comfortable were not safe? This is when we often decide to venture out and try new things. Our country is at this point, right now — old and comfortable = danger. It’s time for us to have an adventure together. All. Of. Us.

By the way, this emotional buy-in is not a bad thing, it is necessary. It’s also what allows us to be manipulated by marketers, political campaigns and politicians. And it’s time to break free of this manipulation.

Back to “victim, victim, who’s the victim?” In our society, some people have been disadvantaged while others have been advantaged. This is where “the biggest victim” game comes in.  

As we struggle to be seen, to have our grievances heard, we end up competing for attention. People who are privileged, still get to choose whether or not to pay attention and/or assist.

We are on a shared adventure to fulfill the mission of our founders — e pluribus unum. Debilyn Molineaux, Co-Director of Bridge Alliance

My assertion is that the system itself will only perpetuate more of what we already have. Creating a different future, where people are both responsible and empowered, will require us to have tremendous courage. Courage to look for evidence that supports or refutes our emotional safety check.

No longer is, “I have a good feeling about this” enough to justify our personal or collective decisions. Because what your gut tells you and what my intuition tells me are likely different things.

And until we listen to each other, talk, connect and deliberate in good faith, we are more likely to be manipulated. A strong connection among citizens in communities, where your gut feeling wants to include what I know intuitively, puts the current system on notice.

We are on a shared adventure to fulfill the mission of our founders — e pluribus unum.  

Here’s a good place to get started.  

Participate in the National Week of Conversation. It kicks off Friday and runs through Saturday 4/28. Steel your courage to reach out and have a conversation you would have avoided.

Start by remembering a few things we have in common:

  • We are all human beings
  • We all live on Spaceship Earth
  • We all want to leave a better planet for our kids
  • We all enjoy the rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness

As you participate in one or more conversations this week — whether in line at the grocery store, with your neighbors or one of the hundreds of events being hosted in-person or online, be curious about someone else. And think about walking a mile in their shoes.

Please share your pictures and stories at

Read More Articles by Debilyn Molineaux

Photo Credit: amasterphotographer /

Debilyn - Independent Voter Network: Unfiltered News

The Predicament of Polling

Fri, 2018-04-20 11:00

The Predicament of Polling

If 2016 taught me anything, it is how disastrous political polls have become. And as we head into the 2018 midterms, we should take a hard look how we are conducting them, crunching the numbers and using the results. Voters deserve it.

On November 2nd, 2016 Marquette University Law School in Wisconsin issued it’s highly regarded presidential polling results. It was memorable for two reasons. The first reason is that it was conducted between October 26th through the 31st, the time frame in which former Director of the FBI James Comey told Congress of his investigation into Democratic Candidate Hillary Clinton’s private email server and respondents didn’t seem phased.

And yet, out of the surveyed 1,255 likely Wisconsin voters, Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton was tipped to win by 46 percent, with 40 percent supporting Republican candidate Donald Trump.

Charles Franklin, the director of the school’s election poll, surmised that “Concern about Clinton’s use of a private email system does not appear to have shifted much in the wake of the FBI news.”

The second reason this poll is memorable for me is that Trump immediately slammed the breaks on his impending Wisconsin rally. Afterall, the Marquette poll had been spot on in the 2012 and 2014 elections. But a few days later he won the state. And then he flipped the Midwest. One after another Iowa, Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, and Pennsylvania fell to the Republicans, and nearly all reputable state polling missed it.


It didn’t use to be this hard. Just a few decades ago pollsters dealt with an expected 20 to 30 percent non-response rate. It’s much higher now. And so is the cost and time required to get good results.

“The first big problem isn’t anything nefarious; it’s part lazy collection and cheap skating the process,” says Steven Moore, a veteran public opinion researcher. He says that dealing with sample populations now compared to 20 years ago is, “Like comparing apples to broccoli.”

“If you have a jar full of red and blue jellybeans if you shake it up for like 5 minutes thoroughly every time and then pick one out, and then shake it up again for like 5 minutes and take one out its probability theory,” says Moore. “But now, only the 5 percent at the top get shaken up. While 95 percent of the jellybeans are at the bottom not shaken and those could be all red.”

Online polling can be notoriously skewed if not done carefully, and it isn’t accurate in low population areas. Mail-in poll response rates have dwindled according to the Columbus Dispatch. It’s famous mailer got it wrong the week before the presidential election as well. Also, its budget had been cut which meant less staff to help and fewer polls conducted. A common story.

As for dialing up an American, nearly everyone screens unknown numbers with caller ID. And take a guess who actually answers the landline calls? “If we just called land lines then 75 percent of our respondents will be 55 or older,” says Moore. It’s not surprising, because most of America doesn’t use a landline anymore.

In 2016 the nation had just hit the halfway mark; fifty percent of all American households operated with only a cell phone according to the Centers for Disease Control. Now that number is nearer 53 percent. The less expensive automated dialing and questioning, known as ‘robocalling’, used on landlines is illegal on cell phones; instead hired staff must hand dial, which is costly.

“You’ve got to split it up properly,” says Jim Hobart, of public opinion strategies. “A 60/40 ratio of cell phones to landlines is good. Then, if you need Spanish language interviews, it’s more money and more time.”

Jim Lee owns the Susquehanna poll in Pennsylvania, which incorrectly called the 2016 race for Clinton. With a 50/50 ratio on automated versus person-to-person questions, his people still got it wrong. “Half of the surveys were done by live interviewers, and that group found Clinton winning by eight,” he said. “The automated interviews had Trump winning by two.”

Maybe Trump voters didn’t want to admit to a live person how they would vote? Perhaps the questions were loaded or leading or vague? The public usually never finds this out, because it isn’t commonly addressed in the media and its time to change that.


Manners Makes A Difference

Words matter and carefully constructed words in a poll take time and attention to detail.

“It didn’t speed up the process let’s put it that way,” says Deborah Devedjian, the founder of The Chisel. It’s a 100% bipartisan civic platform which recently undertook a pretty intimidating project centered on neutral, bipartisan polling.
The Chisel formed a coalition of 30 partner organizations from across the political spectrum that spent months constructing a groundbreaking survey of 1,318 eligible voters to pinpoint where Americans diverge and agree upon their values.
Now published in book form, the What’s Your American Dream? survey throws water on the common argument that America is fundamentally fractured.

The coalition combed liberal and conservative media to pinpoint the topic areas most commonly covered in the news and came up with 34 focal points. One of those was K-12 education. An example question: “What is your #1 goal or aspiration to make your American dream a reality for PREk-12 education?” Respondents were given “goals” to achieve a great k-12 education system.

The top three goals ranked in that category matched perfectly for the vast majority of respondents across the political spectrum. And the top goals for achieving a perfect outcome in all 34 question categories matched for 53 percent of the survey questions regardless of political affiliation.
Respondents also commented on their decision for each topic – 5,000 in all.

The survey questions, their wording, their order, the method of delivery, how respondents were accessed including through coalition’s respective membership rolls and websites, even the language, and graphics used went through painstaking analysis to keep it all neutral.
“What is the intention going in? How are the questions phrased? People might sense that there is a loaded aspect to it. And then you have bad data, and then people talk about it as if it’s real and then away it goes in the media.”
The point here is that a large group of people with vastly political ideologies acted on an expensive, time-consuming, bi-partisan idea for the good of the voter and it worked.

Devedjian says she knew she wasn’t getting the whole story based on widely cited polls cited back in 2016, and the media didn’t help. “The questions were so loaded that they were toxic. The questions were fundamentally so skewed that pollsters couldn’t get correct numbers, ” she says. “That’s why so many polls couldn’t figure out what was happening in the 2016 election. Five years from now, how are polls going to be conducted? What are we moving into?”

Good question.

While pollsters scramble to revise methodology, it may help to take a cue from The Chisel and double check their methods and prognostication.

Want to see a pretty good indicator of pollster bias in 2016? Check out Nate Silver’s ranking over at FiveThirtyEight.

Lindsay - Independent Voter Network: Unfiltered News

“Stupid and Frivolous”: SDSU West Strategist Slams SoccerCity Lawsuit

Thu, 2018-04-19 19:17

“Stupid and Frivolous”: SDSU West Strategist Slams SoccerCity Lawsuit

This week, Attorney Michael Attanasio and those representing the SoccerCity initiative filed a lawsuit to toss out the SDSU West initiative on the grounds it violates state law. Attanasio said, “Public university names are the property of the state and its citizens, and this law was specifically intended to prevent their exploitation by private business interests.”

The suit claims the SDSU West effort violated the provisions of California’s Education Code by using the SDSU name in the title for a private development.

SoccerCity representatives, who were invited to be part of this story but have not yet committed, say SDSU West tricked voters into signing the petition.

The suit is the latest twist in a vicious mudslinging battle that will likely continue all the way until the November election. And it is particularly interesting in that until recently, FS Investors and SoccerCity have been courting SDSU West to partner with their proposal.

Clearly that courting is now over.

Tom Shepard is a campaign strategist for SDSU West and he joined me on the phone to discuss the lawsuit and campaign.

Initial Thoughts on the Lawsuit

“My first thought was it’s an acknowledgement that the FS Investors group realizes that their initiative is going to lose and they’re moving towards Plan B, which is to try to keep the SDSU West initiative off the ballot.  I assume they must have anticipated there would be negative reaction by voters to the fact that they’re trying to eliminate the only choice that exists to their project and must have factored that in and realized they didn’t have a chance of succeeding on their own and had to do something.”

My first thought was it's an acknowledgement that the FS Investors group realizes that their initiative is going to lose and they're moving towards Plan B, which is to try to keep the SDSU West initiative off the ballot.  Tom Shepard, SDSU West Chances the Lawsuit Will Succeed 

“The lawsuit itself is just plain stupid and frivolous, the points they are making are simply not correct. The election code and the education code specifically provides for use of an institution name on a measure like this and, other than their attorney’s making some money by filing a lawsuit I can’t imagine what makes them think there are any prospects for success here.”

Hundreds of Millions of Dollars At Stake

“FS has a lot of money at stake here they’ve invested a fair amount in getting this far and they stand to make hundreds of millions of dollars if they can convince voters to support their initiative, so I suppose with stakes that high it shouldn’t be surprising they are engaging.”

The lawsuit itself is just plain stupid and frivolous, the points they are making are simply not correct. Tom Shepard, SDSU West Certain FS Attorney’s Stand On Shaky Legal Ground?

“Yes. We looked at all those issues when City Councilman Scott Sherman’s memo came out. We thoroughly researched them and there’s no basis in either the election or education code for making that claim.”

If Soccer City Comes Up Short, Let’s Make Sure SDSU West Doesn’t Either. New Strategy?

“Yes, I think that’s their strategy now . They did extensive polling last month and we don’t have access to the results, but I think what you’re seeing now is a coming to terms with the fact that their Soccer City initiative is dead on arrival at this point, and the best they can hope for is to defeat our measure or keep it off the ballot. And then cut some sort of a deal with the city after both measures go down.”

Jeff - Independent Voter Network: Unfiltered News

Reality Check: Do Online Companies Really Care About Your Privacy?

Thu, 2018-04-19 18:12

Reality Check: Do Online Companies Really Care About Your Privacy?

The Facebook scandal involving personal data mishandled by Cambridge Analytica has raised concerns over the privacy of the information we share on our social media accounts.
Some countries have gone as far as to legislate Internet data privacy with laws granting the “right to be forgotten.”

Yet Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg says we don’t need such regulations here in the states. Is he right?

This is a Reality Check you won’t get anywhere else.

It’s an unsettling thought: your personal data, being manipulated on a global scale. Where you live, what kind of car you drive, how many children you have, what food you eat, how much money you earn, what clothes you wear, how you exercise, the list goes on and on.

While other countries are tightening laws on Internet privacy and how corporations can use your data, such as the UK’s data protection law with its “right to be forgotten,” the United States seems to be stuck in the 1980s on the issue.

In California, privacy is a right in the state constitution. “Privacy” was added to the state’s “inalienable rights” by the legislature in 1972.

And though California has been a leader in privacy, the last meaningful update to the state’s privacy laws was in the 1980s, long before today’s technology.

For context, Census data shows that in 1989, 15 percent of American households owned a computer.

In California, privacy is a right in the state constitution. 'Privacy' was added to the state’s 'inalienable rights' by the legislature in 1972. Ben Swann, independent investigative journalist

Today, according to Pew Research, 77 percent of Americans have a smartphone — a computer in their pocket or purse.

And in 2015, those smartphone owners used about 27 smartphone apps per month, according to Statista.

Just think about all of the information you give to the apps on your smartphone. Do you read their terms of use?

You know you don’t. And yet, a California-based group called the Californians for Consumer Privacy has raised concern about how our information is collected and sold.

From that group came the California Consumer Privacy Act. The act is intended to not only hold major corporations making $50 million per year or more responsible for their consumers’ data, but also gives Californians the right to know where and to whom their data is being disclosed or sold, and if their data is being properly protected.

There’s nothing in California today that allows users to see what data has been collected on them. And data is being collected everywhere you go.

From the checkout at Target, to your Facebook account, browsing the Internet or even just walking on a city street — credit cards are being swiped, messages are being shared, and cameras are recording.

So are the rules of how businesses use your data fair and respectful of your privacy?

One of the key aspects of the California Consumer Privacy Act is a right of action against companies that store data, but have not taken reasonable steps to secure that data. That means consumers can sue companies that didn’t protect their data.

What exactly “reasonable steps” means needs to be fleshed out in the courts, but there are plenty of examples of companies that didn’t take “reasonable steps” until after data was compromised.

From December 19, 2013, “Target says hackers breached its system and stole 40 million credit card numbers.”

One of the key aspects of the California Consumer Privacy Act is a right of action against companies that store data, but have not taken reasonable steps to secure that data. Ben Swann, independent investigative journalist

From September 18, 2014, “Almost immediately afterword broke that Home Depot had been hacked, security experts were noting that the breach was likely even worse than the massive Target that had preceded it.”

From October 2, 2014, “JP Morgan just revealing that an August data breach could affect 76 million households.”

From February 5, 2015, “One of America’s largest health insurers, Anthem, this morning confirmed a massive data breach. Reports say hackers may have stolen up to 80 million records. No credit card or medical information is in danger, but Social Security numbers, birthdays and addresses may have been compromised.”

What you need to know is that when we provide information to a corporation, we establish a relationship.

We believe the corporation will use our information for the purpose of their service. Once your information is outside of the intended use, it’s nearly impossible to control it.

And third-party sharing of your data allows it to be used, shared and disseminated without any control on your part. Big data is a powerful force in the United States.

But should big data be allowed to do whatever it wants with your information? If not, how do we, as the public, get some control back?

Let’s talk about that, right now, on social media, while someone collects our data.

Editor’s Note: This video and transcript originally published on, and has been modified slightly for publication on IVN. It was republished with permission from Truth In Media. 

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Ben - Independent Voter Network: Unfiltered News

Orange County’s “Bitcoin Candidate” Wants to Represent Disruptive Tech in Congress

Thu, 2018-04-19 13:55

Orange County’s “Bitcoin Candidate” Wants to Represent Disruptive Tech in Congress

2018 may see the first “bitcoin candidate” elected to Congress.

Many political candidates are jumping on the opportunity to raise campaign funds by accepting donations in cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, which are free market, private currencies competing against the U.S. dollar and all other sovereign national currencies.

Candidates like Andrew Hemingway who in 2014 became the youngest gubernatorial candidate in New Hampshire history, are making U.S. political, financial, and tech history by accepting digital crypto coins.

Austin Peterson, who is running for the Republican U.S. Senate nomination in Missouri this year, has received 24 contributions in bitcoin in 2018, including the largest cryptocurrency contribution in federal election history– worth $4,500 USD.

“Crypto” is short for cryptography, a very clever use of certain mathematical principles to basically scramble digital information into completely unintelligible static that can only be restored to its original, meaningful state with a private “key” (a random string of numbers of letters) kept secret by the key holder.

It’s a means of keeping information secure and private, and it is deployed to devastatingly practical effect by many cryptocurrencies as a form of electronic verification to prove mathematically how much money is in each person’s account and what transactions have been made between accounts.

In California’s Orange County, tech entrepreneur Brian Forde is taking it even further. He’s not merely accepting bitcoin for campaign contributions. In his bid for the Democratic Party’s nomination to unseat GOP incumbent Rep. Mimi Walters in the crowded race for CA 45, he’s dazzling crypto investors with the hopes that he can be the friend they need in Washington.

Forde is a California tech entrepreneur who was a White House senior advisor in the Office of Science and Technology Policy for cryptocurrency in the Obama Administration.

Bloomberg Businessweek reports:

‘It’s Forde’s expertise in cryptocurrency that’s attracted marquee Bitcoin evangelists such as Pete Briger of Fortress Investment Group; Brad Burnham of Union Square Ventures; the investor Mike Novogratz; and famed Facebook litigants Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss, who founded the Gemini cryptocurrency exchange. “Brian understands the power of emerging technologies and how to foster and shape them in a way that has a positive impact on people and organizations,” says Tyler Winklevoss.’


‘Forde’s Bitcoin bona fides are so strong that many of those donors have contributed actual Bitcoins to his campaign rather than write a check, the old-fashioned way. Federal Election Commission records indicate that although his campaign is barely six months old, Forde has already amassed more Bitcoin contributions than all previous congressional candidates combined.’

With $1.2 million in total campaign contributions, Forde has amassed a war chest larger than any of the four other Democratic contenders in CA 45. Should he face Rep. Walters in the general election, it will be an interesting race, because Forde represents disruptive Silicon Valley-style finance, and Walters, who has served in Congress since 2015, represents traditional, Wall Street finance.

She was an Investment Executive at a major Wall Street finance company, Drexel, Burnham & Lambert, which was forced into bankruptcy in February 1990 while Walters was working there due to its involvement in illegal activities in the junk bond market.

The traditionally Republican district is very much in play this year.

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W. E. - Independent Voter Network: Unfiltered News

An Insult to Voters: The Legislatures in Maine and Utah are Out of Line

Wed, 2018-04-18 20:09

An Insult to Voters: The Legislatures in Maine and Utah are Out of Line

As independent voters, we’re all about ensuring that power resides with “the people,” but what does that mean?  Can “the people” have too much power in a representative, constitutional democracy?

Recent developments in Maine and Utah this week (discussed below) have me thinking about this.

I’m also asking this question because here in New Hampshire, as in many other states, voters don’t have the right to adopt or repeal laws by initiative or referendum.  When it comes to enacting the types of good government and electoral reforms that independent voters would like to see, we’re at the complete mercy of the legislature, and legislators are often resistant to changes that have any chance of disturbing their power.

Those opposed to giving “the people” the power of initiative and referendum argue that the legislature already represents “the people.” They assert that the ideal government, as established by the Founders, is a representative democracy rather than a direct democracy.

Thus, the people-at-large are not supposed to make the laws; they’re only supposed to vote for representatives, and then those representatives make the laws.

When it comes to enacting the types of good government and electoral reforms that independent voters would like to see, we’re at the complete mercy of the legislature, Tiani X. Coleman, IVN Editorial Voice

Though not exactly on point, related conflicts are currently playing out in Utah and Maine.

In Utah, the legislature is scheduled to hold a veto override session on Wednesday, April 18, in a “turf war” with the governor over proper separation of powers. They want lawmakers to be able to intervene in court to defend the laws they pass, something that has traditionally been reserved for the attorney general’s office, potentially setting up the state to be represented by two separate, conflicted counsel at the same time.

The vetoed bill budgets $700K to hire three attorneys and staff for the legislature to defend laws in court (even though this is the job of the attorney general’s office and the legislature already has legislative counsel to help with drafting laws). Is it appropriate for the legislature to cross over into the executive realm when they don’t like the way the executive branch is doing its job?

In Maine, the legislature is also fighting for more power. After “the people” passed a citizen initiated referendum in November 2016 in favor of ranked choice voting, the Maine Senate insisted on obtaining a Supreme Court advisory opinion before the law had even been implemented.

When the court indicated that only a portion of the law conflicted with the Maine Constitution and that the other portion could go forward, giving the legislature time to amend the Constitution so that all of it could proceed, the legislature instead worked to delay and effectively repeal the law.

“The people” of Maine answered back again by securing enough signatures to allow RCV to go forward for the June 2018 primaries, and to place the question before the voters again (revised to decidedly not conflict with the Maine Constitution) to secure implementation of RCV in the 2018 general election.

When the Maine secretary of state seemed to waver on going forward with the June primaries, the Committee for Ranked Choice Voting immediately sought a temporary restraining order – which was granted earlier this month by the Superior Court – requiring the Maine secretary of state to continue implementing ranked choice voting for the upcoming June primary.

Nonetheless, even though the secretary of state is able to implement RCV in time for the June 12 primaries without any additional funds or new legislative action, the Maine Senate has demanded complete control.

The Senate brought a whole new set of legal challenges, claiming the secretary of state lacks the power to “fill in the gaps” so-to-speak, without further legislative action, to implement what the people have passed.

It should be noted that on this point, the secretary of state disagrees with the Senate, claiming broad discretion in the implementation of election laws.  Thankfully, the Maine Supreme Court just ruled to affirm the Superior Court, requiring the secretary of state to proceed with the June primaries, using ranked choice voting.

Let me first make clear that I agree that government generally works best as a representative democracy, and I find direct democracy to be impracticable in most circumstances.

I also believe that the concept of “separation of powers” provides for the kinds of checks and balances we need on each branch’s respective power, and I’m generally opposed to one branch overreaching into another branch’s realm.

Even so, while I believe that the problem in Maine is different than the problem in Utah, in both cases, the legislature is out of line.

In Maine, the legislature is effectively working to shut out the voice of “the people,” and is not representing “the people” at all.  In Utah, the legislature is engaged in a “power grab,” and isn’t respecting the separation of powers.

While I believe that the problem in Maine is different than the problem in Utah, in both cases, the legislature is out of line. Tiani X. Coleman, IVN Editorial Voice

The initiative and referendum process is designed to be used rarely, as a last resort when the legislature fails to represent “the people.” When used as such, it’s a good check on whether the legislature is suitably representing “the people.”

In Maine, “the people” do have the power of initiative and referendum, and when “the people” appropriately exercise it, the legislature is out of line to try to thwart it or not allow for its implementation.

In Utah, it would be more palatable if the legislature had made a provision for particular, rare instances when it might be appropriate for them to be able to intervene; but the bill they’re attempting to pass via override doesn’t limit the legislature, but rather gives it carte blanche power to intervene.

As most active independent voters know, the biggest problem here is that our elections themselves fail to give “the people” full power in electing their representatives. When the voice of the people isn’t effectively reflected in our elections, then it’s likely the people won’t be fairly represented by the legislature.

If people are worried that measures such as initiatives and referendums are giving the people-at-large powers that should primarily be reserved for the legislature, then those same people should demonstrate their commitment to allowing “the people” to exercise their full power in electing their representatives.

What does it mean for power to reside with “the people”? It means we have completely fair and open elections. The best way to give power to the people is by having open primaries, not controlled by the parties; by using election methods – such as ranked choice voting – that better allow the will of the people to be reflected; by doing away with the problem of parties controlling redistricting and gerrymandering districts; and by changing the way campaigns are financed so that the big donors don’t exert such lopsided control over our elections and the representatives elected.

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Photo Credit: W. Scott McGill/

Tiani X. - Independent Voter Network: Unfiltered News

Lawmakers Join Powerful Coalition to Cure America’s Toxic Political Environment

Wed, 2018-04-18 16:14

Lawmakers Join Powerful Coalition to Cure America’s Toxic Political Environment

Most Americans agree that civility (more precisely, the lack of it) in American politics is a problem. Many would say our apparent inability to engage in respectful and nuanced conversations has hit a crisis level.

That is why April 20-28 has been declared the National Week of Conversation by the Bridge Alliance, a coalition of several civic action groups founded by people from across the political spectrum.

One hundred organizations are sponsoring the National Week of Conversation (NWOC). Events will be held in cities across the country. It is a week “for mending America one conversation at a time,” according to the NWOC website.

And while our elected officials are often at the heart of the ongoing partisan bickering, several are joining the Bridge Alliance and its partners to offer a better alternative than the toxic, hyper-partisan status quo.

From the Halls of Congress to Your Community: The Growing Demands for Civility

The national community organizer for the National Institute for Civil Discourse, Cheryl Graeve, explained in an interview for IVN that some of the events policymakers will be a part of will be open to the public, while others will be more personal and private.

“For example, Ohio members of Congress Steve Stivers (R) and Joyce Beatty (D) have established a Congressional Civility and Respect Caucus, and on April 26 — up on Capitol Hill from 9 to 10 am — they will be having a conversation, in which they have invited their caucus to attend,” she says.

Most people probably don’t know there is such a thing as a Congressional Civility and Respect Caucus in Congress. It was created in January by Stivers and Beatty to encourage civility and respect in political discourse on Capitol Hill and in every congressional district.

“Joyce and I don’t always agree on how to solve the issues facing our nation, but we find common ground where we can. More importantly, when we do disagree, we don’t vilify one another,” said Stivers upon announcing the new caucus.

Video Source: NBC4 WCMH-TV Columbus

Graeve notes that members have to join the caucus in bipartisan pairs. In other words, if a Republican wanted to join the caucus, he or she would have to join with a Democratic colleague.

“It’s a beautiful model of coming together across the aisle to be part of rebuilding and reweaving a more civil fabric in our country,” she says.

Stivers and Beatty also invited members of another civility caucus — the Honor and Civility Caucus — started by US Reps. Mike Johnson (R-La.) and Charlie Crist (D-Fla.). Approximately 60 members in total have been invited to this public event.

Then there are more private and personal conversations that will happen between state and local policy leaders, faith leaders, and candidates that will seek to foster productive conversations on the biggest issues in each participant’s respective community.

It's a beautiful model of coming together across the aisle to be part of rebuilding and reweaving a more civil fabric in our country. Cheryl Graeve, National Community Organizer for the National Institute for Civil Discourse

“Sometimes, those conversations which we hope will both foster relationships and help us explore what we may do together as citizens and policymakers and the media to improve the tone of our conversations and public discourse — especially as we look at 2018 now — sometimes those conversations can happen in a more authentic and personal and deep way when they are outside the glare of the public spotlight,” Graeve explains.

The media might not like it. There might even be some skeptics among voters, but I can personally attest to the substantive and honest conversations that can happen in this environment.

I have covered an annual conference put on by the Independent Voter Project (a co-publisher of with exactly this intent in mind — get policymakers and industry leaders together, away from the media’s glare and partisan political environment — to discuss real problems and real solutions.

There is no talk of legislation. There are no backroom deals behind closed doors. There are no talking heads in the media or partisan pundits who can cherry pick soundbites to fit a particular narrative and distract from the big picture. Just real talk and real solutions.

Relationships are formed. Issues are flushed out. Conversations that are deep and raw set the stage for future collaboration and problem solving, and are free from partisan barriers that might otherwise get in the way in a more public setting.

Overcoming Our Biggest Hurdles

The general perception is that our nation has never been more divided. It’s constant political warfare between conservatives and liberals in this country over every issue, and we can’t even agree that the sky is blue.

Yet, that is not entirely true.

Public opinion polls show that Americans are more aligned on many issues than ever before. On gun issues, on immigration, on jobs, Americans can find common ground on several topics.

But when we watch cable news. when we spend just five minutes on social media, it almost feels like our country is on the brink of another civil war — because the media and the most polarizing voices online capitalize on division and reactionary politics.

ALSO READ: Stop Bickering and Start Talking: National Week of Conversation Starts April 20

And now, the biggest political divide in the US has less to do with individual issues and more to do with a team sport mentality. Republican versus Democrat. Conservative versus liberal. Rich versus poor. Urban America versus rural America.

“When candidates or elected leaders lead with a civil framework, they often get pushback. They don’t get covered in the media. It’s the drama that tends to rise to the attention level, unfortunately, in the media as opposed to all the work that is being done in concert with each other [to heal divisions],” explains Cheryl Graeve.

The impact this has on the body politic is devastating. Politicians become entrenched in the ideological corners of their respective parties. Nothing gets accomplished. And as a result, people lose trust in their elected officials and the process.

It's the drama that tends to rise to the attention level, unfortunately, in the media as opposed to all the work that is being done in concert with each other (to heal divisions). Cheryl Graeve,Cheryl Graeve, National Community Organizer for the National Institute for Civil Discourse

There is a hunger, however to rebuild what Graeve calls the “civic, civil, respect muscle” in America. Voters want it, but they don’t necessarily know how to achieve it.

That is where organizations like the National Institute for Civil Discourse and the Bridge Alliance and its partners come in.

“We are looking at this year and asking Americans — we’re asking voters, we’re asking candidates, communicating with the media, too — about what we can do together to improve the tone of our 2018 elections,” says Graeve.

“We have had some experience with conversations where we bring together the public, candidates, and journalists around a visioning question for our country about how we want to operate together, how we expect to be in a relationship with each other, how we understand each other, and what our commitment is to our democratic republic.”

Graeve adds that the NCID and other collaborative organizations in the space are having conversations with diverse stakeholders at the community level, and have the tools and resources to help build a skillset around listening across divides for differences and understanding.

“I think what’s important is showcasing these stories where people relate to each other across their differences. They come out in a stronger, more civil relationship with each other, and come out of those conversations with a profoundly different understanding. We are not partisan labels; we are human beings that are grounded in shared concerns and shared hopes,” says Graeve.

And Graeve says she and others at NCID hope that the National Week of Conversation will result in more of these stories being highlighted.

The National Week of Conversation

Events will be held in cities across the country through April 20-28, encouraging more civil, respectful, and nuanced conversations on the biggest issues facing the US today — including guns, immigration, health care, jobs and the economy, and more.

A project of the Bridge Alliance Education Fund, 100 organizations are sponsoring the National Week of Conversation, including the National Institute for Civil Discourse, AllSides, the L1sten First Project, Living Room Conversations, Big Tent Nation, and the National Coalition for Dialogue and Deliberation.

People can get involved by finding a local or online conversation or hosting their own. To get more information, visit, and follow for exclusive coverage.

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Photo Credit: Nong Mars /

Shawn M. - Independent Voter Network: Unfiltered News

America’s Finest City? San Diego’s Median Home Price Skyrockets

Wed, 2018-04-18 14:14

America’s Finest City? San Diego’s Median Home Price Skyrockets

A new report by the California Association of Realtors released Tuesday notes the median price of a home in San Diego County reached a record $625,400 in March.

The reason for the spike according to experts, a lack of inventory. A typical home is on the market only 13 days before being sold, compared to a statewide average of 23 days.

The news comes as the San Diego City Council’s Smart Growth and Land Use Committee is hosting a workshop Wednesday. Committee Chairwoman Georgette Gomez will lead the workshops, which will include discussions of methods to preserve existing affordable housing and strategies to prevent residential displacement. Gomez said, “Preserving our current affordable housing units in San Diego and ensuring San Diegans are not being priced out of their neighborhoods without adequate protections is extremely important.”

Recommendations also will be made to the Planning and San Diego Housing commissions regarding best practices to maintain rental housing stock for low-income families.

Realtors’ Senior Vice President and Chief Economist Leslie-Appleton-Young said,“Inventory still remains tight, which is driving home prices higher.”

The median price was up 9.5 percent from a year ago, while the number of sales declined 10.4 percent. Steve White is the association President, he said, “Sales in the Southern California region have cooled for the past five months, even in the more affordable Riverside and San Bernardino areas.”

The data is based on information collected by the association from more than 90 local Realtor groups and multiple listing services statewide.

Jeff - Independent Voter Network: Unfiltered News

BREAKING: Supreme Court Victory for Maine Ranked Choice Voting

Tue, 2018-04-17 21:47

BREAKING: Supreme Court Victory for Maine Ranked Choice Voting

PORTLAND, MAINE — Today, the Maine Supreme Court affirmed the right of the Maine people to choose the way we elect our leaders by upholding the Ranked Choice Voting law and paving the way for Maine voters to be the first in the nation to rank their choices for gubernatorial, congressional, and state legislative candidates in the June 12, 2018 primary.

The Supreme Court’s decision allows the Order issued by Superior Court Justice Michaela Murphy on April 3, 2018 to stand.

Today’s decision by the Maine Supreme Court confirms that the Maine people are sovereign and have the final say. Kyle Bailey, Campaign Manager for the Committee for Ranked Choice Voting

“Ranked-choice voting is the current statutory law of Maine for the primary elections to be held on June 12, 2018,” wrote the Justices in their 22-page unanimous decision. “The consistent and explicit purpose of the citizens’ initiative and the people’s veto has been to transition Maine elections to a system of ranked-choice voting.”

“With today’s decision, the Supreme Court has allowed the June 12 election to move forward and has put to bed lingering questions about the constitutionality of Ranked Choice Voting for use in primary and federal elections,” said Katherine Knox, attorney for the Committee for Ranked Choice Voting. “Litigation also revealed the true cost of implementing Ranked Choice Voting at just $89,000.”

“The Maine Legislature has changed or repealed all four of the initiatives passed by Maine voters in 2016. Today’s decision by the Maine Supreme Court confirms that the Maine people are sovereign and have the final say,” said Kyle Bailey, Campaign Manager for the Committee for Ranked Choice Voting.

“Ranked Choice Voting gives voters more voice and more power in our democracy. It is simple and fair,” said Cara McCormick, Treasurer of the Committee. “Today, the Committee and its thousands of volunteers, rededicate our efforts to supporting a “Yes” vote on Question 1 to protect ranked choice voting and honor the will of the people.”


Read The Latest

Photo Credit: Joseph Sohm /

Committee for Ranked Choice - Independent Voter Network: Unfiltered News

County of San Diego Joins Fight Against Sanctuary City Laws

Tue, 2018-04-17 18:09

County of San Diego Joins Fight Against Sanctuary City Laws

It’s no secret the State of California is tearing at its political seams, careening towards a tipping point with the Sanctuary City battle leading the way.

TWO of the states THREE largest counties, both in Southern California, have now voted to oppose SB-54, the bill that limits law enforcement cooperation with federal immigration authorities.

San Diego and Orange counties represent more than 6 million people. Los Angeles County, which hasn’t weighed in on the subject, represents some 9 million.

The board of supervisors representing San Diego and Orange County have made it crystal clear they do not agree with Sacramento politics and are concerned with the “public safety shortcomings” SB-54 could bring.

By a vote of 3-1, the San Diego County Board of Supervisors supported the Trump administrations lawsuit that states SB-54 is unconstitutional. Supervisors Kristin Gaspar, Dianne Jacob and Bill Horn led the effort with yes votes, Supervisor Greg Cox voted no, Supervisor Ron Roberts was not in attendance as he was traveling out of the country.

Gaspar and Jacob issued the f0llowing statement:


The deadline to join the federal lawsuit has passed, but Supervisor Gaspar said the issue will most likely go to appeal and at that time, the county will file their amicus brief produced by County Counsel. Supervisors said this was not a symbolic gesture:


Some Spoke In Favor of SB-54

Several speakers turned out to speak for and against their particular political point of view.

Margaret Lindner of Carlsbad said she served in the military and was very concerned with the issue at-hand, “I’m terrified that this group of supervisors might join the Trump lawsuit. I just moved here from the very gerrymandered state of Pennsylvania and wanted to get away from political . I served our country and I’m concerned we’re going back to the Cold War. I implore you to not shame yourself with a for vote.”

Some Spoke Out Against The State

Veteran Jose Velasquez had pointed comments for SB-54 supporters, “I’m with Trump. These laws that are in place are endangering us. When did the state decide that illegals have more rights than citizens. You start working with ICE, you start working with law enforcement, I’m sick and tired of hearing I’m a racist for standing up for the constitution.”

Brown Blames “Low-Life Politicians” For Mess

Responding to the “mess” in the his state, reports that Gov. Jerry Brown at the National Press Club in Washington D.C. on tuesday said the immigration debate “has become” an inflammatory football and said “low-life” politicians are to blame for turning this into a political snowball.

Supervisor Dianne Jacob took issue with Jerry Brown’s comments and said, “I think there’s a message here, and the message is this, that those who are representing us in Sacramento do not represent the people.”

Los Alamitos Ramps Up Attack on SB-54

With the San Diego County Board vote and the Los Alamitos City Council vote Monday, 14 cities and counties in California have now voiced support for the Trump administrations lawsuit and effort to repeal SB-54.

The Los Alamitos vote was unique in that it was the only city that passed an ordinance. Los Alamitos declared itself legally exempt, saying the federal government — not the state — has authority over immigration. The other jurisdictions have passed anti-sanctuary resolutions or voted to join the lawsuit.

Signed Into Law October 2017

On October 5, 2017, Gov. Jerry Brown signed SB-54 into law. It was authored by Democratic Sen. Kevin De León who is running against Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein. De León said of SB-54, “California’s local law enforcement cannot be commandeered and used by the Trump Administration to tear families apart, undermine our safety, and wreak havoc on our economy. The California Values Act will limit immigration enforcement actions at public schools, hospitals and courthouses where all California residents should feel safe, regardless of immigration status.”

SB-54 is now part of a lawsuit brought by Attorney General Jeff Sessions and the Trump administration calling the bill unconstitutional.

Jeff - Independent Voter Network: Unfiltered News

Don’t Settle for “Fake Belonging” — In Society or Politics

Tue, 2018-04-17 15:07

Don’t Settle for “Fake Belonging” — In Society or Politics

We human beings have an intense — an inherent — need to belong to a group. In our “cave days,” it was important for the survival of our species to be connected and work together.

As we’ve evolved, physically, emotionally and societally, belonging has been equally important to our survival. Our community provides acceptance, support, and values.

It’s the “something bigger than ourselves” that provides meaning to our lives.

Belonging and connection means having a sense of purpose, which allows for happiness. We are meant to be in groups. No one is an island. No. One. We are wired for community.

To which communities do you belong?

The opposite of belonging is alienation — we are isolated from others.

Alienation may take emotional or physical form. Sometimes it’s being shunned by family, friends, peers. Or it’s being made to feel wrong, demeaned or subhuman, with a threat of exile. It feels like loneliness, depression and anxiety.

We are meant to be in groups. No one is an island. No. One. We are wired for community. Debilyn Molineaux, Co-Director of Bridge Alliance

And when alienation occurs in children, it is nearly impossible to become a contributing member of society as an adult. Alienation from one community will make us vulnerable to radical ideology — because we would rather belong to a gang or violent group than be isolated.

Extremist groups are more than willing to provide a purpose — promising a meaningful life.

From which communities are you alienated?

One of the challenges we experience in the United States is the appearance of belonging while feeling alienated. Let’s call this “fake belonging.”

Think about what you do in your spare time — it’s likely in-home entertainment, social media, and video games. Or social gatherings with like minds — so we can “keep the peace” and not be irritated.

We’ve indulged ourselves with confirmation bias and instant gratification. We feel like we deserve to have things our own way — and end up lonely for authentic belonging.

The values still exist, but we don’t often tend to them or talk about them. We settle for fake belonging where we are not truly known to others in our lives.

Fake belonging is a pandemic.

Recovery will require a mix of patience and impatience. Patience for each other and for ourselves. Impatience to begin the work of real connection and real belonging.

We feel like we deserve to have things our own way -- and end up lonely for authentic belonging. Debilyn Molineaux, Co-Director of Bridge Alliance

People who belong – who already feel connected — know they are worthy of love and belonging. This is the secret. Our impatience should be focused on any feeling of unworthiness that comes up.

Unworthiness is what disconnects us from one another — which leads to hiding who we are, which leads to fake belonging. See the cycle?

In Brené Brown’s iconic Ted Talk on the “Power of Vulnerability,” she recounts her search for a happy life through science. She wanted to develop a happiness formula, that once followed, would produce the happiness result.

What she discovered, was that happiness is about real belonging.

Belonging is based on our ability to connect. And connecting to others is based on our ability to be fully seen — to be vulnerable, without knowing any result is certain.

In other words, we have to be willing to risk ourselves in order to feel real belonging. Anything less is fake belonging. And our hearts know the difference.

In our world today, we have many ways to pretend we belong. We use our devices to communicate. We revel in the number of “friends” or “followers” we have on social media. We indulge ourselves with food, alcohol and drugs to numb out and eliminate the empty sense that we are alone.

We have to be willing to risk ourselves in order to feel real belonging. Anything less is fake belonging. Debilyn Molineaux, Co-Director of Bridge Alliance

We long to be part of a community. But we have very few places where we can connect at a deeper, personal and yes, vulnerable level. These are the opportunities we need to seek out — using our impatience.

Once there, we can be patient with ourselves and others.

In this moment, I invite you to throw out fake belonging and seek your heart’s desire. Here are a few ideas to get you started.

  • Every morning, notice what you reach for first — a loved one? A device;
  • Notice your breathing and count your breaths;
  • Practice “I am enough” as a mantra or feeling;
  • Spend some time in nature – the more the better;
  • Commit to being authentic and present with others (hint: it helps to leave your device at home on a regular basis — or turn it off and take a break.);
  • Take a walk with a friend; or
  • Have a dinner party or potluck with good food and good conversation where it is explicitly ok to disagree with each other–and enjoy it!

We deserve to be loved and belong.

Together, we can end this pandemic of fake belonging. We can offer ourselves to be truly seen, accepted, and loved. If there are other ways to experience belonging, they have yet to be exposed.

Until then, let’s belong with each other, as Americans, and continue our journey as fellow human beings.

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Photo Credit: Tero Vesalainen/

Debilyn - Independent Voter Network: Unfiltered News

GOP Rep. Roskam: Corporate Drug Pricing “Outrageous”

Tue, 2018-04-17 13:28

GOP Rep. Roskam: Corporate Drug Pricing “Outrageous”

Rep. Peter Roskam thinks corporate drug pricing practices are “outrageous,” “indefensible” and “won’t stand up to scrutiny” that his Congressional sub-committee may give them.

Roskam, a Republican from the Chicago suburbs, is an authority on drug pricing, in the literal sense of the word. As the new chairman of the Health Subcommittee on the House Ways and Means Committee, Rep. Roskam has legislative authority over drug pricing in America.

In full disclosure, I was Roskam’s chief of staff between 2007 and 2013. Roskam was named chairman of the Health Subcommittee shortly after I became the Healthcare Editor at IVN – a remarkably lucky break for my new editorial aspirations.

The subject of his ire is something known as a “gag clause.” While you may assume that your pharmacist is working in your best interests, if her pharmacy’s contract with its pharmacy benefits manager (PBM) has a gag clause, she is not. A gag clause puts your pharmacist in violation of that contract if she informs you of cheaper alternatives to the high-priced prescription drugs you are purchasing.

What does this mean to you? It means that if your insurance co-pay is more expensive than the cash price for your medication, your pharmacist cannot inform you that you can save money.

What Are PBMs?

Polling by the National Community Pharmacists Association show that some 59% of pharmacies across American have contracts including gag clauses.

Contrary to conventional wisdom, it is not Big Pharma using such deceptive business practices. Just three corporate giants control 80% of retail drug pricing – CVS Caremark, OptumRx (a division of United Healthcare) and ExpressScripts.

Known as pharmacy benefit managers, or PBMs, these companies negotiate prices for buying prescription medication from manufacturers as well as retail prices for pharmacies. Additionally, they negotiate the insurance co-pay amount consumers will pay, and how much insurance companies receive from their insured purchasing prescription drugs.

So PBMs seem to be in the middle of all drug transactions.

But some of this is speculation. Roskam points out that the way PBMs do business is “fairly mysterious.” The Congressman says PBMs are begging the questions “What do they do again? How are they doing this? What is the value proposition?”

And those are the types of questions Congress should be asking. PBMs don’t take the risk of developing and manufacturing drugs. They don’t incur costs warehousing or distributing drugs. PBMs don’t risk holding inventory for the retail market.

Yet they hold enough power in the drug pricing value chain to make pharmacists agree to the gag clause, and practice which skates on the edge of violating the American Pharmacists Association code of ethics. And PBMs make huge amounts of money.

Roskam’s Bipartisan Approach

This is an issue that has fostered bipartisan cooperation and Roskam has allies with whom he works on the other side of the aisle. Roskam’s friend, colleague and occasional dinner partner, Democrat Peter Welch of Vermont, has introduced legislation to reign in PBM drug pricing practices.

Other member of Congress are speaking out about unfair business practices on the part of PBMs. The list includes Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR), Rep. Doug Collins (R-GA) and Rep. Buddy Carter (R-GA), the only pharmacist in Congress. Look for a future in-depth piece on Carter’s views.

Roskam has long been an advocate for sensible bipartisan solutions in Congress. He is currently leading a bipartisan effort to combat opioid abuse. He was also part of a bipartisan group of members of Congress that stood up to BP when the oil company dumped toxic chemicals into the Great Lakes.

Future of the Gag Clause

Roskam sees a lot of scrutiny of PBMs in the near term. He feels like “…just looking at things, at a Congressional level, can have influence on behavior.”

As Roskam describes the gag clause in the contracts between PBMs and pharmacies, he predicts “…that won’t be happening at some point in the foreseeable future.”





Steven - Independent Voter Network: Unfiltered News

10 Data Breaches That Make Facebook Look Like Ft. Knox

Tue, 2018-04-17 12:34

10 Data Breaches That Make Facebook Look Like Ft. Knox

It’s strange that Mark Zuckerberg was summoned to testify before the United States Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, one of the biggest committees in the U.S. Senate, and one of the most unconstitutional.

It’s not like he was suspected of breaking any laws, so how is it any of Congress’ business anyways?

Unless he broke the law, the principles of a free market within a constitutional republic (which happens to be the form of society America aspires to be) would dictate that he should only have to answer to his platform’s users, customers, and shareholders.

But if consumers are concerned about protecting their own data, they should exercise some independence from Washington and educate themselves about the extent of data breaches.

That would at least be a good first step.

Here are 10 data breaches that make Facebook look like Ft. Knox for all of your stupid selfies and vacation photos:

1. Equifax 2017In 2017 the credit bureau giant experienced a massive cybersecurity breach which exposed the personal information of almost 143 million Americans, including names, Social Security numbers, dates of birth, addresses, and some driver’s license numbers. Equifax also said about 209,000 U.S. customers’ credit card information was compromised. What a nightmare!

2. Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz 2017 – It emerged in 2017 that Imran Awan, the corrupt IT staffer working out of Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s office, had compromised sensitive U.S. congressional information by sending it outside the network of House servers in violation of Capitol Hill information security policies. Many sitting members of Congress may have had their House emails breached in a case that is still unfolding.

3. Grindr 2018 – Earlier this year, Grindr, the dating platform primarily used by gay, bisexual and transgender men drew heavy criticism from the LGBT community and some privacy advocates when it was revealed that the dating app company had shared the HIV status of its users with third party companies.

4. NSA Wiretapping 2013 – In 2013 Edward Snowden, a former CIA employee and NSA contractor working as a high level intelligence analyst at an NSA facility in Hawaii, went to The Guardian, The New York Times, the Washington Post, and Der Spiegel to blow the whistle and inform the American public that the NSA has been collecting and storing massive amounts of your personal data including text messages and the metadata of your phone calls, which you thought was all private. Clearly unconstitutional.

5. Google / YouTube Ad Network Targeting Children 2018 – The most successful YouTube channels all know about how profitable kids’ channels are on YouTube. With ads for toys and video games and kids’ movies, they monetize at a significantly better ad payout per view than other genres.

What parents need to know is that Google is collecting information constantly on what their children are watching and how they respond to ads, in order to create super-refined, irresistible ads, and to suggest more content to watch that is tailor made to keep your children addicted to YouTube and trained up to be perfect aspirational consumers, not like– seekers of truth, or engaged civic leaders, or empathetic, well-rounded good people.

6. Target 2013 – In 2013 customers were rocked by the revelation that a data breach of Target Stores had put the credit card numbers and personal data of literally millions of Americans into the hands of cybercriminal hackers. The market did punish the successful and stylish retail store chain with a marked drop in sales.

7. Mt. Gox 2014 – Launched as an exchange for Magic The Gathering cards to be sold like stocks, in a story stranger than fiction, the website Mt. Gox made a major pivot and decided to become an exchange for Bitcoin after the innovative digital money system made its debut. By 2014 it was handling more than 70 percent of bitcoin transactions world wide, but clearly cut some corners on security, because in February of 2014, Mt. Gox closed down and filed for bankruptcy, announcing that 850,000 bitcoins (at that time worth a total of $450 million USD!) it was holding for its customers had been stolen out of its computer system by hackers.

8. Uber 2016 – In 2016, just two hackers were able to breach Uber’s computer system and steal the personal information of 57 million Uber users and 600,000 drivers, including names, email addresses, and mobile phone numbers. The thing is, Uber took nearly a year to disclose the fiasco to the public, and amazingly paid the hackers $100,000 to delete all the info with no way of verifying if they did! The ride sharing company’s CSO was fired.

9. NARA 2008 – In 2008 the National Archive and Records Administration compromised the data of 70 million U.S. veterans when a hard drive containing their names, contact info, and Social Security numbers stopped working. Instead of being destroyed on-site, the drive was sent off-site to a government contractor to be scrapped, but it is still not clear if the drive was ever actually destroyed.

10. eBay 2014 – In May 2014 the online auction and digital shop website reported a cyberattack which had compromised the names, addresses, birth dates, and passwords of every single one of its 145 million users at the time. It faced public criticism in the media for the breach, but profits seemed unaffected by the breach.

W. E. - Independent Voter Network: Unfiltered News

From Nazis to Syria: How Should America Deal With Dictators?

Mon, 2018-04-16 17:22

From Nazis to Syria: How Should America Deal With Dictators?

In the context of such political contention in the United States and around the world, it is reassuring that a point which can be agreed upon is that the use of chemical weapons is simply unacceptable. One must applaud the condemnation of them and our resolve in halting their use.

However, the U.S., British, and French response to Syria’s use of such tactics raises multiple concerns about the future. While the administration stated it was focused on “deterring” the future use of chemical warfare, two fundamental questions remain:

Was the response sufficient and how does the U.S. refrain from becoming overly involved in another international conflict?

History illustrates how slight involvement in foreign affairs can lead to greater involvement in a relatively quick timespan. Consider the Second World War. In retrospect there is no question the Nazi and Japanese regimes and ideology needed to be confronted.

There are two similar questions from that era that may be applied to the volatile context of today.

The first is what allowed those totalitarian regimes to expand to the point that it became a second world war? While both countries expanded, those not directly invaded enabled the rogue regimes by their lack of adequate response in opposing them.

By the end of the 1930s, the point of no return appeared close, specifically in Europe. Hence the phrase, “nip it in the bud,” seemed like an understatement — both then and now.

The second question is how did this result in American intervention? This answer is obviously seen partially in the former.

But it would be oversimplifying America’s path to war to simply state Europe should have enforced the Treaty of Versailles in regards to Hitler’s actions, for instance. The First World War left a significant impression, which in part led to Germany’s aggression as well as the insignificant response to it.

Despite the overarching sentiment of isolationism, incrementally America became more involved through aid to its allies prior to joining the war.

Additionally, with economic sanctions and a presence in the Pacific, the U.S. came closer to war with Japan. Taken as a whole, that limited, yet growing U.S. involvement arguably made war practically inevitable when considering the ideology of expansion adopted by the two rogue nations.

While entry into the Second World War was easily justified and yielded advantageous results, other wars that America has entered into, through similar paths, have had different outcomes. Either way, the two core questions remain the same.

It is interesting that America’s rise as a world leader following WWII is one of several prominent reasons that the U.S. struck Syria once again in 2018. Anyone who cares, even in the least for humanity, should applaud that move.

But let us not forget the history of the 20th century. We must ask the crucial questions of whether or not enough was done to protect the innocent from such future atrocities and sustain U.S. leadership in the region — but not so much as to become a catalyst for America to be pulled into another extended and costly foreign conflict.

As with all international issues and debates, there is rarely a clear answer, but history lends itself well to the pursuit of one.

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Photo Credit: Rena Schild /

Dale - Independent Voter Network: Unfiltered News

County of San Diego Poised To Join Sanctuary City Lawsuit

Mon, 2018-04-16 15:46

County of San Diego Poised To Join Sanctuary City Lawsuit

The County of San Diego appears to be on the verge of joining other local governments in California and their Sanctuary City lawsuit.

At a rally Monday, community leaders, activists and political candidates urged the county to join the effort already taken by at least a dozen other local governments. The lawsuit says no to SB-54, the bill Sacramento passed which limits cooperation between federal immigration agents and local law enforcement and provides protection to unauthorized immigrants in public schools, libraries and medical centers.

Two weeks ago, the City of Escondido voted to join the lawsuit. That city’s mayor Sam Abed spoke at today’s rally, “I swore to defend the constitution and to keep my community safe and opposing SB-54 is at the core of my mission personally and for my city.”

The County of San Diego will take up the issue Tuesday in closed session. Sources have told IVN San Diego that the county has the three votes needed to join the lawsuit. It’s expected conservative leaning Supervisors Dianne Jacob, Bill Horn and Kristin Gaspar are going to vote in the affirmative.

The County of San Diego currently has 3.3 million people and would join Orange County as the largest communities to join the suit.  Orange County represents 3.2 million people.

PPIC Statewide Poll

A recent poll conducted by the Public Policy Institute of California asked respondents to consider one aspect of this debate, children and schools.

The question might be a window into just how state officials will combat the growing outrage by city’s and counties over SB-54.

The question asked: Do you favor or oppose your public school district designating itself as a sanctuary ‘safe zone’ to indicate it will protect its undocumented students and their families from federal immigration enforcement efforts?

The results:

Dem 88% favor

Rep 17% favor

Ind 55% favor

How Did We Get Here?

Illegal immigration has been a hot topic across the country since President Trump campaigned in 2016 on promises of tougher enforcement and a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border.

Although immigration has been an issue in California long before the president campaigned on the issue. The state passed a measure backed by Republican Gov. Pete Wilson in the 1990s to deny public health care and education to immigrants in the country illegally. The bill was overturned but in the nasty two-party partisan divide in California, it has served as a morality wedge in the conversation, essentially the GOP are perceived as the “bad guys,” the Dems being the “good guys,” and independents are the “sensible” voting bloc both parties are clamoring for.

In recent years, California Republicans have taken a less strident approach to immigration in a state where one in four people are foreign-born. But the Trump administration lawsuit has energized many in a party that has been rendered nearly irrelevant at the state level, where Democrats control every key office.

Jeff - Independent Voter Network: Unfiltered News

Independents Rally to Break Two-Party Model of Hypocrisy and Gridlock

Mon, 2018-04-16 12:34

Independents Rally to Break Two-Party Model of Hypocrisy and Gridlock

Welcome to our weekly post, Independent Action, where we let you know the important moves Independent candidates and organizations made over the past week.

Governor Bill Walker of Alaska passed HB339, a bill “that gives parents and teachers certainty that Alaska schools will be funded every year.” You can find his full statement on the passing of the bill below.

I thank the House of Representatives for passing HB339, a bill that gives parents and teachers certainty that Alaska schools will be funded every year and helps create a #SmarterAlaska.


— Governor Bill Walker (@AkGovBillWalker) April 15, 2018

Craig O’Dear, an Independent candidate for U.S. Senate in Missouri, received some publicity from the Kansas City Star. The author writes in her opinion piece, “O’Dear is right about where we are, and correct, too, that this model mandates that all political adversaries be cast as not simply mistaken but evil. One of his obstacles, though, beyond Hawley and McCaskill, who are in what’s expected to be one of the closest races in the country, is that their contest may well decide control of the Senate.”

To read the full article, click here.

Noah Dyer, an Independent gubernatorial candidate in Arizona, released a video called Conservative Cannabis.

According to the candidate’s studies, “legal cannabis will grow the Arizona economy by $3 billion, create 50,000 good jobs, bring in hundreds of millions in tax revenues, and reduce judicial and correctional costs.”

Noah said, “Though I have never used cannabis, advocating for legal cannabis is important to me because it’s the right thing to do. I’ve talked to thousands of Arizonans, and one issue about which we’re united is that we’re ready for legal cannabis. People who use cannabis are tired of living in fear, and people who don’t are tired of wasting resources on arresting, prosecuting, and jailing cannabis users. We’re also tired of missing out on the economic opportunities that cannabis provides.”

You can see the video below:

Ones to Watch For:

Joe Zwier, an Independent candidate for Wisconsin State Senate (WI-05).

Paul Hamlin, an Independent candidate for the House of Representatives in New Jersey (District 1).

Tim Canova, an Independent candidate (recently left the Democratic Party) for Florida’s 23rd congressional district.

Nick Thomas, an Independent candidate running in Colorado’s 2nd congressional district.

© 2018 Free Wheel Media. This article originally published on FreeWheelUs, and has been republished in its entirety with permission and by request of Free Wheel Media.

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Photo Source: O’Dear for Missouri Facebook Page

Free Wheel - Independent Voter Network: Unfiltered News

Trump “Strikes” at Russia, Syria in Twitter War

Fri, 2018-04-13 17:36

Trump “Strikes” at Russia, Syria in Twitter War

In a move that has become so common, President Trump took to Twitter to taunt his adversaries in recent days; this time it was Russia. Russia and the United States are at odds over if and how to deal with Syria after the poisonous gas attack that the Syrian government unleashed against some of its people last week.

In the wake of the widely publicized chlorine gas attack, the Syrian capital braced for another round of airstrikes, worse than those ordered by President Trump last year in response to a separate chemical attack that saw 59 Tomahawk missiles lobbed into the embattled country.

Complicating the issue is Russia’s support of Syria and her extremely contentious relationship with the United States, something the president blames on the “Democrat loyalists’” investigation into tampering with the 2016 election by the Russians.

Not helping the situation is the president’s Twitter taunting, all but threatening to start World War III — something that would be ill advised for a host of political, financial, and military reasons. Syria is also supported by Iran, so if not handled very carefully, this really could shape up like another “axis of evil” reminiscent of World War II.

No announcement has been made confirming that those strikes would, in fact, occur or when, but the president closely huddled with his military advisors in the days following the attack, reviewing all his options.

“Russia vows to shoot down any and all missiles fired at Syria,” Trump tweeted early Wednesday. “Get ready Russia, because they will be coming, nice and new and “smart!” You shouldn’t be partners with a Gas Killing Animal who kills his people and enjoys it!”

Some say that the president’s tweets are a strategic blunder, that he never should have said anything about possibly planning airstrikes. But the National Defense Strategy written by Defense Secretary Jim Mattis says, “Be strategically predictable, but operationally unpredictable.”

What that means is that sending a tweet to warn that a strike is coming, without saying when, is perfectly ok.

For Syria’s part, they deny that the chemical attack ever occurred, saying that the U.S. is just using the story as an excuse for “reckless escalation” and that the United States government “has sponsored and is still sponsoring terrorism in Syria.” Those are the words of the Syrian Foreign Ministry.

Russia also denies that the attack took place. However, going one step further, Alexander Zasypkin, the Russian ambassador to Lebanon has said that Russia vows to shoot down any missiles launched into Syria and to attack the launch sites, namely American war ships.

Blood and urine samples in U.S. custody show that the weapons were, in fact, used.

The United Nations Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres says he is “outraged” by the reports and wants an investigation into the reports of the attacks.

The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, an international watchdog agency, says it will “soon” be sending a team to Syria to investigate the reports of an attack and that it is currently gathering all available information. The problem is that all that information is coming from Russia and Syria, so its veracity is already called into question.

In addition to the U.S., France and Britain would also likely take part in any response to the gas attack. The French president, Emmanuel Macron has publicly called for a strong joint response that targets Syria’s chemical weapons without escalating the ongoing war, while Britain’s prime minister, Theresa May, has not said if British forces would take part, but she also met with advisors.

Germany has said it would not take part in any military action, though it did condemn the attack, and said that a strong message needs to be sent. Since the end of World War II, Germany has been reluctant to participate in any sort of combat operation, instead restricting itself to supportive roles.

There are approximately 2,000 military personnel currently in Syria serving in support and advisory roles to the local militias fighting the Bashad regime. President Trump has said he wants to bring those troops home, but their withdrawal is not currently planned.

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Photo Credit: Sergey Kamshylin /

Wendy - Independent Voter Network: Unfiltered News

5 Groundbreaking Bills to Protect Child Wellbeing in the US

Fri, 2018-04-13 15:46

5 Groundbreaking Bills to Protect Child Wellbeing in the US

Every parent wants a healthy child, right? Too often, though, people neglect to consider just how much the events of childhood can leave a lasting impact on a child.

For example, we have only very recently started to understand just how much mental illness is impacting the current younger generations, and recent conversations in the gun control debates have drawn new attention to the high number of young people living with mental health issues.

New laws are being designed to give young people the best chance of overcoming some of the common threats to their mental health and stability so that they can live more productive and happy lives. Let’s take a look at a few of the bills that are currently in the works.

Suicide Prevention — Indiana

This bill, Indiana’s SB0230, establishes that the division of Mental Health and Addiction is responsible for suicide prevention. It creates a mandate for the state to educate healthcare workers about how to cope with the risk of suicide through research-based training. Teachers are included in those who will be trained.

The hope is that all healthcare workers, and specifically teachers will better be equipped to recognize the signs of a suicidal child. The bill has passed and is currently waiting to be signed.

Foster Child Psych Drugs — Illinois

Illinois bill HB0281 applies to medicine to treat mental conditions. Psychotropic drugs have evolved a great deal since the early days of Prozac and Xanax, but it is still important to consider whether they are necessary in treating children. You may recall the way that drugs like Ritalin have been over-prescribed to young people.

New laws are being designed to give young people the best chance of overcoming some of the common threats to their mental health and stability so that they can live more productive and happy lives. Kate Harveston, IVN Independent Author

The bill is in committee and has not yet been the subject of a vote at the time of writing.

For foster children, those living in group homes, in a juvenile facility or in custody of the state, this bill defines a set of conditions that must be met for the use of psychotropic drugs to be authorized. They may not be used as punishment for bad behavior, and guardian families are required to undertake specific reporting practices if caring for a child who uses psychotropic medication.

Protecting Sexual Abuse Victims — Pennsylvania

Already in place in the Pennsylvania Commonwealth, this bill named HB631 sets forth a number of provisions designed to keep children safer from registered sex offenders. It requires registered sex offenders who max out their sentences to serve three years of probation after leaving incarceration.

Additionally, it makes the act of lying to a police officer about the location of a known sex offender or to house such a person against the conditions of their release illegal. Children cannot legally be left in the care of a registered offender, and intimidating victims of sexual assault is made illegal. The multi-faceted bill tries to be thorough in protecting children and keeping offenders under control.

No More Fees for Juvenile Hall — California

California’s SB190 lifts the requirement for families of children with mental health issues to pay administrative fees if their child is placed on probation, housed in juvenile facilities, or on home detention. A large contingent of these families are low-income or minority families, so with this bill, the state attempts to avoid crippling financial impacts if their child is sentenced. This bill is already in place.

Child Neglect — Utah

Just coming out of committee and waiting to be voted on at the time of writing, Utah’s SB0065 gives some clarification to an existing Utah statute which mandates that nurses and other medical professionals who believe that a child has been subject to neglect or abuse or is in conditions that will reasonably result in neglect or abuse that must be reported to the division or local law enforcement.

Language always has the potential to be a challenge with laws, so this amendment adds information to the definition of “neglect.” It stipulates that clergy members are mandatory reporters in addition to medical professionals and allows children who are being interviewed about sexual abuse to have a support person with them—that person cannot be suspect of being involved in the abuse.

The Impact?

Many of these laws seem fairly commonsense — one would think they should be effective everywhere. And, indeed, they should be. However, it’s important to at least recognize the states that are finally taking it on themselves to better protect our children.

Mental illness has been in the news a lot recently, mostly due to its clear correlation with acts of violence. Mental illnesses often develop as a result of childhood trauma, so all of these bills have the potential to ultimately impact some young person somewhere.

The concept of mental illness still has a variety of negative stigmas and falsehoods wrapped around it, and until we start recognizing that, we are going to continue to face catastrophes as a result of mental illnesses that are left unchecked or are not properly cared for.

We do need better gun control laws, but we also need to be paying attention to the welfare of the young people who may have sought out those weapons. Expect to see more bills like these — aimed at improving the mental stability of young people — on the table in coming years.

We have seen the impact that mental illness, and adversity combined with mental illness, can have on a child’s life. Eventually, when those children grow into adults, they are going to comprise the primary voting and governing body of society.

We owe it to our children and to ourselves to foster generations of youth that are self-aware, well-adjusted contributors to society. This will, in turn, help us work toward a more educated and competent voting and governing populace, which will help us to build the future that we want for our country.

It is only right that we should try and provide a better experience for our children early on, in hopes that they can grow into functional, happy members of society.

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Kate - Independent Voter Network: Unfiltered News

With Straight Face, Penn. Politician Says Legislators Are “Most Accountable” to Redraw Electoral Districts

Fri, 2018-04-13 14:46

With Straight Face, Penn. Politician Says Legislators Are “Most Accountable” to Redraw Electoral Districts

A bill in the Pennsylvania House to create an independent citizens’ redistricting commission was rewritten to give the legislature even more control over the legislative redistricting process.

Don’t worry. I did a double take the first time I heard about this story too.

According to Republican State Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, Pennsylvanians should trust that he and his colleagues are the most accountable to voters to redraw districts in a way that provides the best and most accurate representation.

It’s not like Pennsylvania was just forced to redraw its congressional map because the courts found that it constituted a partisan gerrymander and therefore was unconstitutional. Oh wait…

Read More

This is the actual quote from Metcalfe, who chairs the House Government Committee:

“The best way to make sure we have citizens actually being the ones redrawing, citizens who are held accountable to their fellow citizens who elect them to office, and are not just going to go away after the work is done, and be held accountable in the future for their decisions, is to totally gut and replace this bill.”

In an ideal world, yes, lawmakers would be accountable to voters to make decisions that best represent them, and the people would provide a check on these lawmakers.

But state lawmakers — through gerrymandering — get to pick the voters they are accountable to, and thanks to party primaries, they only have to answer to their party’s base most of the time.

The original bill — which was stalled in committee for 11 months — proposed an amendment to the state constitution that would create an independent citizens’ redistricting commission to redraw state legislative and congressional districts.

The new version reportedly calls for six lawmakers to be directly involved in the redistricting process, and cuts out the governor, who has the power to sign or veto maps, essentially giving the legislature even more power in the process.

It’s a mind boggling story, to say the least. Check out more on it here.

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Shawn M. - Independent Voter Network: Unfiltered News

Unrig the System: Reforms To Change America

Thu, 2018-04-12 19:24

Unrig the System: Reforms To Change America

Many Americans are currently wondering, “Why don’t our elections result in governments that implement thoughtful, public interest policies that are supported by the majority of Americans?”

The reason is process. Most of us worry about policies — How much are we taxed? How well are the roads maintained? Or worse, we are being distracted by issues that divide us, rather than paying attention to the rules by which we elect leaders and how we are governed. That has led to an unhealthy democracy. Process matters.

The American Revolution was fought over process. Taxation without representation wasn’t about taxes but about the lack of representation in deciding which taxes should be assessed and how the money should be spent. The U.S. Constitution wasn’t a list of policy initiatives; it was a document to fix the faulty processes adopted in the Articles of Confederation.

If we want a healthy representative democracy which acts in our best interests, then we must change our system of elections to make them more democratic.  These reforms should be specific to local concerns that are not being met.

In Oregon, the reforms we are calling for build upon work done by other independent movements and are intended to allow us to build a broad coalition, one that includes not just moderates or Independents, but also progressives, constitutionalists, Republicans and Democrats who are frustrated by our political process.

Our Theory of Change:  America is undergoing a political revolution.  

In 1961, 97 percent of Oregonians were either Democrats or Republicans, and only 20 percent of Americans thought of themselves as “independents”.  Today, more than 40 percent of Oregonians are Independent, non-affiliated or members of minor parties, while 46 percent of Americans consider themselves politically independent.

There is a broad sense among voters that ordinary citizens do not have much influence on public policy compared with powerful special interests.  This is confirmed by studies at both Princeton and Northwestern University, which found in 2014 that “economic elites and organized groups representing business interests have substantial influence on U.S. government policy”, while average citizens and mass-based interest groups have little or no influence.
Yet voter frustration with the political system and the independent revolution it is fueling have not produced many independent candidates. Those that do run often have a hard time gaining traction in elections, regardless of their qualifications.

Part of the reason for this is that the two major parties control our election laws.
Under our current duopoly, the Democratic and Republican Parties – the legacy parties — have used their control over government to create legal barriers for new party candidates.   Legacy party candidates, operatives, and the special interests within their parties want it that way. Why would they desire any change to a system that gives them complete control?

If we want better government, we need better choices and choices that are not beholden to the legacy parties.  That means removing barriers to protect the status quo that has been built up over decades.  We can accomplish that not only by electing candidates to legislatures (though that should remain a priority), but also through legal channels, such as lawsuits, the legislative process, and in states like Oregon that have Initiative and Referendum laws and allow ballot measures, directly at the ballot.

Reforms should be determined by local concerns and while recognizing the rights of the Democratic and Republican legacy parties, nevertheless work to reduce or eliminate barriers to competition those parties have created and make reforms that allow voters to make informed choices.

Our party supports the following such reforms in Oregon that will make our political process more responsive to ordinary citizens.  We encourage national organizations to consider supporting similar reforms.

Campaign finance reform:  These reforms generally include limits on campaign contributions and independent expenditures on electioneering as well as increased transparency and disclosure of who is providing the funds for political ads (including in the ads).
Non-partisan redistricting:   Gerrymandering is one of the main sources of political dysfunction in Oregon and America.  When partisan legislators and political operatives are allowed to draw legislative lines, they invariably draw them in a way that increases partisan benefit and weakens competition.

Small donor elections:  Legacy candidates are tied to the Democratic and Republican money machines as well as the special-interest lobby.  Just a handful of wealthy individuals and organizations accounted for 97 percent of the $130 million that was raised and spent on campaigns in Oregon in 2016.  This spending far exceeds the ability of community-based candidates to compete, unless they can spend hundreds of thousands of dollars of their own money or unless they are willing to cater to the same special interests.

Multi-member legislative districts:  Oregon’s current system of legislative apportionment, which allows only one member per small legislative district, could be improved by returning to multi-member districting.  Larger legislative districts are more difficult to gerrymander, and many multi-member systems enable stronger competition by third parties and unaffiliated candidates.

No public money pumped directly into political parties:  Currently, Oregon state government grants more than $5 million dollars per biennium directly to the partisan (and secret) activities of the Democratic and Republican caucuses in the Oregon Legislature.  We propose to eliminate this funding.

Political change is not being stymied by lack of ideas or voters’ preference for the current system. It’s being stymied by our election processes which – even if logical when enacted decades ago –  now often act as barriers to change that are well understood and defended by those holding power.

By unrigging our political system, we can ensure that all people, of every political persuasion, will be treated more fairly by our political system. That will produce a more accepting society which is truly reflective of the will of all people rather than an unpopular government that imposes the desires and agenda of the special interests.

These few and meaningful reforms will go a long way toward making our democracy healthier, more meaningful, more responsive and more respected by citizens. The Independent Party and its members will continue to fight for the process reforms that are necessary to cure our unhealthy democracy. We encourage others to do the same around the country and could use your help in Oregon.

Sal - Independent Voter Network: Unfiltered News