Friday, July 01, 2005

My Regular Friday Night Thing

Reel Big Fish are in town and I'm not.
Have a safe and happy Independence Day!

It's ON

This is going to be an ugly ordeal.

Thursday, June 30, 2005

Blog Survey for those who are brave enough!

Take the MIT Weblog Survey

The Plight of Monroe Democrats

If it comes as a surprise to you that the New York Republican Party, and by extension, the Monroe County chapter of that party, is in some serious trouble, you should probably get caught up on events not happening in Fantasy Land.

The irony of the situation is that Monroe Democrats aren't exactly sitting pretty either. If anything, while they succeed due to their numbers, they fail because of their lack of organization. Take the revolving door on the county party Chair's office, the relatively empty money coffers, and the sheer volume of fringe groups attempting to weigh in on the balance of power. Whether the county Democratic Party is a microcosm of the state of the national party, it certainly proves that old Will Rogers quote, "I'm not a member of any organized political party, I'm a Democrat!"

The current issue of City Newspaper sums things up reasonably well in this article by Krestia Degeorge. The line that stuck out in my mind that illustrates the factional divisions that local Democrats face is here, when discussing the local chapter of Democracy for America:

"They're 15 strong, and they've got everyone intimidated, because that's 10 more than any other faction," says one party insider speaking on condition of anonymity."Everyone's trying to curry favor with them."

10 more than any other faction? I hope he's overstating that factions are typically made up of around five people. It seems to me, that if you can't get up there into the double digits for your pet project, you really shouldn't be out there pimping your faction. Your cause would likely be better served by forming factional alliances. All these little groups are out there sucking up all the air. Money, volunteers, and time are all commodities and if these local factions are so bound and determined to champion their pet project while the overall progressive infrastructure that is the Monroe County Democratic Party suffocates, then so be it. While I am a confessed progressive that has an interest in all this, I'm also fairly Darwinist when it comes to the ebbs and flows of power concentrations.

So whose fault is it? Well, I can say everybody. Hell, it's my fault. Why do people gravitate to these little factional groups? Maybe because so many of the other factions are inaccessible. And when I say inaccessible I mean, they aren't doing anything to raise their profile and build up membership. What is the local Democratic Party doing to get people involved? What kind of efforts are they putting into recruitment? Sure you can go to their site and sign up to volunteer. That's good. I mean it. Volunteering is one of the best things a person can do with their time. I should do it more often. I'm sure you should too.

But the problem is bigger than that. This isn't about putting in five hours at your church's rummage sale. This is about getting engaged in you community. This is about bringing people on board for your cause, because it is their cause too! Look at the webpage for the Monroe Democrats. They've got news on the party. The selections from their convention. Even a letter from Joe Morelle from when he became chair last month. They're letting people know what they're doing. There is no vision, no news, nothing to engage someone into being drawn into the party. Why should I volunteer? I don't know these people. They aren't speaking to me. They aren't reaching out to me. I don't understand why they choose the candidates they choose. Why shouldn't I primary against one of their appointees for a nomination? At least I know what I stand for, and maybe I can voice it better than they are.

And that's the problem all these groups have. They're all too concerned with speaking to potential volunteers and voters without ever pausing to listen; without stopping to answer some questions. Joe Morelle is new on the job and he's trying to form some solidarity quickly. So he's being heavy handed with the primary stuff, and I can excuse that if he does something else in its place. If the only way for new ideas to percolate up in the party is through primaries, then we have a larger issue.

Both the local progressive factions and the local Democrats have a problem. The solution is hard to figure, but I would start with some outreach. I'd start with some discussion. The Dems should start a blog on their site. At the very least, it would provide for some amount of interaction. A narrative that people can get to know. Blogging in the political arena has shown to be able to appeal to a broad number of people and speak to them personally where they are more apt to give up their time and money. Having some voice that people can become familiar with will lead to higher turnout for events and fund raisers.

Local progressives need to form a more coherent alliance. Look, some progressives will likely be at odds with each other. However, I can't fathom why members of Sierra Club, NOW, and NYPIRG can't all mobilize to support an event staged by Metro Justice. Building a network of support between progressive groups increases the likelihood that they'll all succeed. Setting up some kind of meta-blog would reduce the factional barriers between them all and help cross-promotion of their issues. Using something like Scoop to construct the blog would allow a reasonably good flow of ideas.

Clearly what you can take away from all this is the top down structure and my-issue-first mentality is going to squelch any progress possible by progressive people and their groups. All politics are local, and it doesn't look like many people are talking to each other back home.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

What is up with all the good news?

From a local perspective, I'm pleasantly surprised by the on-going barrage of hopeful business news regarding the region.

All these things, by themselves, seem small. They are. They're all merely footsteps in a long race, but they add up when you look at them in their entirety. Sometimes you hear so much from the crowds of people that love to point out that the area is in decline, that when you see information that indicates the opposite is true, you don't quite believe what you're seeing!

Well, the reports of Rochester's death have been greatly exaggerated.

And the negative attitude of these people stop at nothing to drown out the results of the hardwork of area leaders. This week, expect to read endless Letters to the Editor on how the relaunch of the Fast Ferry is already a disaster. Why do some people crave some schadenfreude at the expense of their hometown? What is the point? These people think the extent of government investment in the community should begin and end with filling in potholes. If they wanted to do something about it, they could always form a club of "Surly Rochesterians" and volunteer to help out. They could even get a little sign with their name on it.

I went off a little there, but I think you still get my initial point.

Something good is starting to happen here.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

When the Oil Runs Dry, I'd Rather Be In Rochester

I came across a great write up of why Syracuse is the place to be if (and when) Peak Oil hits. Steve Balogh, of Baloghblog wrote this number up and it's a quick and easy read. By no means is it a scientific study on the subject, but it raises good points that hold true for Rochester as well as Syracuse.

If you don't know about the idea of Peak Oil, you should check it out at Life After the Oil Crash. As presented at that site, it's pretty dire stuff. The writer is very "bearish" on the subject, but who knows what the effect of the ramping down in oil production will be? Give it a read, give it consideration, and then move on with your life.

However, I wouldn't write it off if I were you.