My Guy Announces his Candidacy

Over the summer I was fortunate enough to get to work for Dan Malloy’s exploratory committee. Today I got to see him announce his candidacy in Hartford. Dan’s pitch is simple and compelling: he successfully ran Stamford and therefore has the experience needed to be successful in running Connecticut.

Dan is also participating in the Citizens’ Election Program. This program requires candidates to collect small donations from a large number of donors in order to get a grant to run their campaign with. This allows candidates to not feel indebted to large donors and spend more time talking to people instead of raising money. As a result the field of candidates for governor this year is larger than 2006.

To learn more about Dan check out his website or just ask me.


Sometimes it's the Little Things

Today I got the 4GB of RAM I ordered to upgrade my 13" MacBook Pro. Installing the upgrade was quick and painless procedure. However after I successfully installed the RAM the backlight on my keyboard stopped functioning. I called up AppleCare support and after a few prompts I was connected to Megan. The first surprise was that Megan did not seem to be from a foreign country. Second was the manner in which she counseled me through my new problem. She was pleasant and after informing me I was out of phone support she advised me of all my options. I was lucky because when I tried to reinstall the old RAM and I discovered I had knocked a ribbon cable that supplied power to the backlight out of its place. After replacing it my backlight came to life. This is the type of issue that likely would not have been noticed or solved over the phone. However I will never forget how painless and helpful my experience with AppleCare support was.

Theme Change and Update

I know I've neglected this blog quite a bit lately. I pulled a new theme for it from the Drupal theme gallery which I believe looks a bit cleaner than the previous one. I also cleaned up the spam. I hope to update this blog a little more frequently over the coming year. If you have suggestions on issues to write about or for a better theme please feel free to let me know.

Copyright via Creative Commons

Today I added a Creative Commons license to this blog. While you might not be familiar with Creative Commons if you’ve used a website such as flickr to host your images you may have already have encountered and even used it. The license I chose gives permission to freely use the content as long as proper attribution is made. There may be little to take and remix now but maybe in the coming year I will write an interesting post you want to build on or finally learn how to make the next viral video. If you are interested in more information just check out the Creative Commons website or click “read more” to see a video from Prof. Lawrence Lessig explaining the importance of Creative Commons. <!–break–>


On Citizens United v. FEC & The Citizens' Election Program

Imagine it is Election Day. You wake up, turn on your TV, and notice that every ad actually is a campaign commercial. You open up your bills. Inside is a candidate leaflet. Your credit card bill strongly suggests that you vote against your senator because he’s making your interest rates go up. On TV pharmaceutical companies start peddling politicians instead of pills. It may seem strange today but after the Supreme Court’s ruling, if Congress doesn’t act, it could become reality.

In its ruling the Supreme Court states, “the appearance of influence or access will not cause the electorate to lose faith in this democracy.” Yet our Congress currently has an approval rating lower than the British Crown at the time of our Revolution. Connecticut is no stranger to this problem. In spite of being cleared of wrongdoing many lost faith in Sen. Dodd after the Countrywide scandal. At the same time Sen. Lieberman is now derided as the “Senator from Aetna.” We cannot say for certain that our Senators made decisions based on influence but the mere appearance of it has certainly caused many to lose faith in their representatives.

In Connecticut we hit a low point when former Governor John Rowland resigned from office after being investigated after state contracts were awarded to businesses that performed construction on his home. Our state legislature built a path forward by creating the Citizens’ Election Program. For those that participate, private funds are now primarily replaced with a public grant. To qualify they must demonstrate their viability with donations between $5-$100 from a required number of Connecticut donors. Now a $5 contribution from a college student becomes just as important to fundraising as the $100 contribution from a CEO. Candidates can no longer appear influenced by campaign contributions because they are spread out among many small donors and eclipsed by a larger public grant.

Today the Citizens’ Election Program stands on shaky ground. A federal court ruling has placed the system in danger, and our legislature has yet to act to repair the defects. Unfortunately for us the Supreme Court may have rendered the issue moot. A public grant will be of little value to candidates that are drowned in the cynicism purchased by corporations and special interests. It is imperative that our state legislature work to preserve the Citizens’ Election Program and use whatever tools it has at its disposal to blunt the inevitable impact of this ruling on our state elections.

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This work by Matt Zagaja is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.