Drumbeat San Diego Session: Citizens' Oversight Projects

CITIZENS' OVERSIGHT PROJECTS: http://www.citizensoversight.org/


How to we most effectively engage our government to actually see results? Vote? Protest? Join Facebook causes or click on email petitions? Citizens' Oversight Projects (COPs) has produced proven results, such as helping to stop the expansion of Blackwater in East San Diego County, halting patently religious and partisan videos being played on the government TV channel, and blowing the whistle on insider deals and scams.

Presenter: Ray Lutz, founder and National Coordinator of COPs, 2010 candidate, 52nd Congressional District.

It's a sad fact that most local governmental meetings have no citizens attending, following the agenda, and asserting their rights to speak to limit excesses of elected officials and staff members. With no outsiders in the room to watch the actions of these officials, they frequently get off track, resulting in decisions fraught with conflicts of interest, insider deals and improprieties. Staff members will not speak out and risk their jobs, the news media no longer covers these local meetings, and even if they do, it is still up to citizens somewhere to speak up. There is no substitute for oversight by citizens. As Supreme Court Justice Brandeis said, the most important office in any democracy is that of the citizen.

The COPS program trains and deploys citizens to engage in local government meetings and provide essential oversight.

In this session, we will cover:

  • The problem - our government runs open-loop with almost no oversight or citizen feedback.
  • COPS is the most effective way to make a difference -- learn why.
  • Success stories and COPS history -- Blackwater, religion vs secular government, insider deals.
  • How to become a COP -- select a body and start attending.
  • Basic rights in meetings, including the Brown Act, CPRA requests, and rules of order.
  • CopsWiki - the online wiki collaboration platform based on foswiki (Free Open Source Wiki) the most powerful collaboration platform available.
  • How we organize our work on the CopsWiki platform.
  • The future of COPs -- how we plan to deploy the model on a national basis.

One goal of the session will be to help attendees become COPS participants:

  • Become an affiliate of the COPS network of activists.
  • Select a body to attend, usually requiring a commitment of one or two meetings per month.
  • Acquire the COPS handbook as a quick reference as you deploy to your oversight duties.
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