Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Monday, December 21, 2009

For true reform, we need merely look in the mirror.

"It is, of course, an unrealistic dream. Politics, image-making and sloganeering are easy. Governing - especially the nitty-gritty of state and local government - is hard. It has a way of tarnishing the veneer of idealism. And political idealism raises expectations that are almost impossible to fulfill, leading to disillusionment. Once the original idealism fades, as it did for Lindsay and Schundler and appears to have done for Suozzi, it is difficult to recapture.

The old Tammany Hall politician George Washington Plunkitt put it best over a hundred years ago: "A reformer can't last in politics. He can make a show for a while, but he always comes down like a rocket."

Of course a "single" reformer will ultimately fail if his or her reform is based upon personal charisma.

Where there is no structural reform, failure is almost always certain.

Where there is no participation by the governed, reform will almost always fail.

This is a story as old as recorded history, yet somehow we cling to the concept of being "saved" by an individual.

If someone wishes to show true reform, create a system where collaboration and the free exchange of ideas and methods is made dynamic and simple. "One Long Island" is an attempt at "creating" this type of system.

True reform will break the "cycle of stagnation" we currently find ourselves mired in, on Long Island and in the country in general. True reform will assist the public in creating a fair, just and efficient society in a way that no top down dictate can.

We are the "reformers."

For true reform, we need merely look in the mirror.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Unchain Long Island ...

"The media’s mistake with posting reader comments is in failing to uphold its old standard. Before online postings, there were letters to the editor. The traditional standard held that letter writers were identified and verified. But now that the media has taken a beating for elitism and liberalism and a whole host of other -isms, it wants to appear as if it suddenly cares what the reader has to say. So it’s thrown the standard out the window and wants to “engage the reader in the conversation.”

Reality check: For a conversation to take place, you need to show up for it. Once the media reports what it has to say, it walks away. A look at the online postings shows there’s no conversation between the public and media, or even among the public. It’s a cyber back alley strewn with negativity and needs to be cleaned up.

What should be dominating the public consciousness is what’s wrong with the local media infrastructure that allowed the major contender for ________ seat to bear a name unknown to 80 percent of the populace. Not enough coverage, that’s what wrong. What coverage appeared in Newsday was outweighed by the aforementioned commentary and suffered from probable bias, as reported by the Long Island Press."

Part of the problem on Long Island is that we tend to analyze the different "elements" that comprise Long Island separate and apart from one another. This is not unusual in that all of us have different areas of expertise in which we feel comfortable.

Part of the "One Long Island" series of ideas is way to "bridge" the different disciplines and to find common ground and common elements between them.

We all need to think in a "meta" sort of way. This is not an easy thing to do immediately, it is a skill to be learned and to be taught and passed on until it becomes the "norm."

Any of the "One Long Island" ideas may operate alone or in connection with one or more of the other elements of the concept. True, certain elements of the concept are necessary to do first (such as the "common language") but many of these are easily started because the technology is readily available. It just requires a little organization.

Once you have the framework in place true conversation may occur. And conversation not just based on visceral opinion but on real information and analysis and informed opinion.

The anarchy we see in today's media is most likely caused by the unknown. What is the role of media today and going forward? Where can we get our news unfiltered through the lens of opinion? Can we trust the media?

We've written before of the need for Long Islanders to form "collaborative constituencies" and in essence, inform themselves and their neighbors. The current anonymous postings may be cathartic and sometimes entertaining, but they do not substitute for real dialogue based upon a common "Long Island Philosophy."

The question then becomes, can we handle the truth? Can we work collaboratively? Do we want to be successful or do we enjoy and sometimes profit from the chaos?

I believe out of the current confusion, we will find a way to work collaboratively. I believe that certainly some of what we've proposed in "One Long Island" is essential to the "turnaround."

I know that there are more "intelligent" folks per square inch on Long Island than almost anywhere else on this planet.

Perhaps its time to open up the process and see how intelligent Long Islanders truly are.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Tools ... progress ...

"Long Islanders are gloomy and how they feel about their future is sobering. Clearly without active participation by Long Islanders, the regional economy can’t be expected to grow."

... and without a dynamic system which allows the participation of Long Islanders, from all walks of life, we can not expect the region to grow ....

This is the main thrust of the "One Long Island" series of concepts.

We can't expect a "spontaneous organizational" event to occur. We must give our citizens the tools and a framework within which to utilize these tools.

Then we will see progress.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Conversation is good ...

"This kind of silent revolution cannot begin and end at the polls, however. Nor can we expect a membership organization such as the LIA to advocate for real change. We, as individuals, business owners and civic leaders must be the alchemists of change and transmute the elements of our discontent into the golden solidarity of reform.

In Civil Disobedience, Thoreau writes “All men recognize the right of revolution; that is, the right to refuse allegiance to and to resist the government, when its tyranny or its inefficiency are great and unendurable.” The governing bodies that bleed New York and Long Island dry are not tyrannical but they are unendurable in their inefficiency. If we are to believe that civil disobedience is a uniquely human right in a free society, we must, therefore, resoundingly reject any further encroachments on our freedom and ability to prosper. Or as Thoreau suggests, “Let your life be a counter friction to stop the machine.

This may be a time of change on Long Island as, perhaps, it is finally recognized that the "old forms" and the "old ways"are not up to the task of serving the public.

Talking about what needs to change is important obviously, but frankly, until we do the difficult and rather boring (to some) task of creating an "structural environment" for dynamic and sustainable change, all the talk in the world we have little or no effect.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

What works?

"The new feature, to be formally introduced on Tuesday, is a tool to make it easy for YouTube users to submit clips that news media companies can choose to highlight. The site plans to sign up other media partners.

“We’re trying to connect media organizations with citizen reporters on YouTube,” said Steve Grove, the Web site’s head of news and politics."

OK so if it works for news, why wouldn't work as a collaborative tool for helping citizens connect with citizens (see IdeaTV in a previous post) on Long Island and in New York generally.

What ideas will reduce property taxes and create jobs? If there is a great idea out there (and there are) but implementation is blocked by one or more special interests, how does the "general" public overcome this obstacle?

Right now there is no effective method for the general public to "bypass" the traditional forms of governance. Part of the reason, as previously stated, is because there isn't any "normalization" of meta data. Also there isn't any method for dynamic analysis (see the 300 or so previous posts for details).

So, in essence, the public is constantly attempting to analyze a "shell game" to ascertain where the "marble" is located. In short the "game" is constructed in a way to be difficult and confusing.

Part of this may have been intentional, but most of it is the result layers of information, rules, laws etc. accumulated over the decades to the point now where it's so confusing no one really has a handle on what to do or how to do it.

Everyone may have an opinion (since admitting incompetence is never a good thing to do), but the truth remains elusive.

So can we "unwind" this mess and give the public accurate information and analysis?

Of course.

This is what we've been advocating over the past 15 years or so. A method for reform without a predetermined agenda.

Give the public the truth and let them (us) decide.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

More than hard data ...

"Those are two measures any taxpayer could support - if _________, and others who support the idea of school consolidation, come up with hard data to support them."

Correct. Hard data is required to make any responsible decision.

But it is more than hard data. It requires accurate, dynamic meta data and analysis of the type we have been advocating.

It requires data and analysis that is beyond reproach and in which all parties, most importantly the public, have had the opportunity to participate.

First we must build the requisite system for finding the truth. The truth will then become self evident.

Monday, November 9, 2009

A golden opportunity ...

The public’s in a bad mood...

Yes of course the public is in a bad mood.


Many reasons, but primarily because the public, which is generally ahead of the curve in understanding the need for change, is frustrated at the inability of the current "system" to implement reasonable and ordered change for the public good.

In short, a dramatic overhaul is required in the way we "think" about government (and those organizations which interact with government in some manner) and the way we "collaborate" with one another to bring about substantive and sustainable change.

It's about process, not revolution. It's about the empowerment of the public to govern themselves. Its about dynamic, accurate information and analysis presented in an common sense and understandable way.

Public anger will not be enough to change the current reality unless those who are put in position to effect the change required empower and enable the public to be an equal partner in the process.

The "One Long Island" series of concepts is a method to channel this "anger" into a new way of creating a sustainable and dynamic Long Island (or any region for that matter).

The anger will dissipate over time. It always does. But if we have not left a better "system" in its place, we will have lost a golden opportunity to make Long Island a better place.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Buckram Road "Random Music" CD ...

You can download it free here

Just go to where it says "go to the music page for more" and select the downward facing arrow. To listen instead of downloading select the right facing arrow.

The first 12 songs are from the new CD. The rest is older material and material from the first Buckram Road CD. CD number three should be out next summer.

It took me away from the Long Island Idea Factory for a few weeks, but I should be back posting a bunch of new ideas soon.

I tend to go from one creative outlet to another. It helps keep me sane.

Please drop me a line and let me know what you think.


Friday, October 23, 2009

Some additional progress ...

"The council also unveiled their new website, developed by Karma411.com, offering an information portal for all local chambers. This new technology provides a Web 2.0 tool which empowers all the chambers of commerce members to broadcast their news and events."

I was happy to play a small part in making this happen.

The Council is on the right track by setting a foundation for their members to interact with one another and with other entities employing Web 2.0 and Web 3.0 technologies. They have much more ambitious plans ahead. Congratulations to them for having the courage to change.

This is a central tenet in the "One Long Island" series of ideas.

Sustainability on Long Island will be achieved through collaboration and shared information, analysis and philosophy rather than wholesale "consolidation" which the people of Long Island have resisted for years.

Any consolidation must come "organically" and as a logical outcome to the hard work of providing accurate information, analysis and further, to achieving the trust of the citizens without which it can not be effective and sustainable.

Details in the previous 300 plus posts .... more to come.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Dynamic Collaboration Required ...

I think this shows a collaborative spirit and it shows that (Paterson) is listening to the concerns of Long Island,” Alexander said. “We have not seen this level of attention to organizations that really are working on a community level in the past. Past governors been attentive to lobbyists and business interests, but getting to the interests of small businesses, of community organizations and other not-for-profits, that shows a real commitment.

The "collaboration" part is a good sign.

Now we need to add the "dynamic" part to the "collaboration" part and make sure all voices are heard, both individual and organizational.

Also we should be reviewing and discussing the regional issues based upon a "normalized" data set and flexible analysis standards.

Meetings are great. But if there is no mechanism for follow up and "dynamic" collaboration the meetings will never be as effective as they could or should be.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Collaboration, not more bureaucracy ....

"....that includes Empire State Development, which does try to help the Island, but also has to look out for other parts of the state (such as Westchester, where OSI is going); the two county industrial development agencies, and town IDAs that do cooperate, but also compete. Our answer: We need a new structure - preferably a single regional voice.

Getting there won't be easy. The towns that have IDAs won't want to give them up. Nor will the counties. And creating a regional entity would require Albany action, which is as hopeless as it is oxymoronic."

The first step in creating a "regional entity" or a collaborative structure which has the same effect as a regional entity, is the creation of a dynamic "meta-zoning map" or land use map of Long Island and the normalization of the data and analysis we all use.

As it stands today, we are simply not prepared to take advantage of opportunities that may be available to us.

We do not need another level of bureaucracy. We need a dynamic system of collaboration that allows us the freedom to work collaboratively and rapidly.

Certainly changes in the law and new or amended legislation would make it easier to move quickly. Perhaps this is another reason a constitutional convention may be in order.

The One Long Island series of inter-related concepts is an attempt to build such a system.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Survival of the fittest ...

"On April 7, Gov. David Paterson stood in the Melville office of the New York State Department of Transportation and said Long Island’s construction workers were about to get back to work, thanks to the recently approved stimulus package trumpeted by the Obama administration. Also on hand that spring day: members of New York’s congressional delegation.

The big event turned out to be little more than a photo op.

“We don’t need photo ops,” said John Durso, the president of the Long Island Federation of Labor. “We need shovels in the ground and people at work.”

That hasn’t happened.

In fact, only 15 percent of the funding allocated to New York will be used to refresh the state’s decaying infrastructure. Instead, an overwhelming portion of the money went to fill the state’s budget gap ..."

Another example of a good idea not ready for implementation due, in part, to a lack of a dynamic, collaborative system on Long Island for turning good ideas (in this case much needed public infrastructure projects) into immediate action.

In short, we are not prepared to react, adapt and take advantage of rapid changes and opportunities in our environment.

In nature and business this is usually a fatal flaw.

The One Long Island series of dynamic "inter-related" concepts is an attempt to remedy this problem and create a platform for Long Island's future success.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

NYS Constitutional Convention

"A "People's Constitutional Convention" must tackle procedural challenges, restoring democracy in our government, realigning the concept of checks and balances that strengthen the division of power making certain one branch doesn't dominate another. To do this, the convention must be nonpartisan as well as demographically and geographically diverse so that every population is represented. We can achieve this, together."

Yet another call for a Constitution Convention in New York.

It's probably a good idea to "air out" democracy periodically.

However we can not have the requisite participation without first giving the public the tools to participate in a meaningful way.

The One Long Island series of dynamic ideas offer a blueprint for achieving this meaningful participation. It would make the NYS Constitutional Convention a living, breathing rethinking of how government works in collaboration with the public.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Another disconnected idea ...

"____________announced the formation of a "90/10 Coalition" that includes planners, educators, community groups, labor and others.

However, ________of the Long Island Progressive Coalition said at the presentation that she had not seen plans to make a grass-roots connection. "How do we get to my cousin, who doesn't go to these things?" Tyson said."

The One Long Island series of ideas encompasses the "grass-roots connection." This is a part of the "dynamic" concept we have been promoting.

Yet another example of potentially a good idea destined for a troubled implementation because of a lack of a "system" on Long Island for analyzing proposals and collaborating in an objective manner.

We should be able to simply "plug and play" ideas into the Long Island "dynamic grid", and get a reasonably quick and complete analysis of the pros and cons of a proposal and how to remedy any shortcomings.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Recreating New York: Part One

"A far larger force is at work. It's a wasting disease that has shriveled New York politics so badly that the futures of 18 million citizens are held hostage by the likes of ___________, so badly that powers have become afraid of their own voters. They muscled all comers from challenging in a primary and, now, for the governor's temerity of intending to stand as a candidate, they have brought the power and prestige of the President of the United States to bear on , reducing all parties in the process."

I redacted some of the above to make it a more general statement and to illustrate my point.

Some have called for a Constitutional Convention in New York. It may be the only way to establish a new "level" playing field for the average New Yorker (however defined).

We have opined here on a number of occasions of the need for a uniform, open and dynamic system of information sharing and verifiable standards of analysis that is available to all New Yorkers.

It isn't so much that the elected officials are afraid of all voters, as much as they are afraid of certain well organized constituent groups and the media generally. This is because organized constituent groups and the media have resources that the general public does not have access to in a way that allows their voice(s) to be heard effectively.

Many feel as though they must join a group to be heard.

The problem is that many groups are one dimensional in nature and in fact, are in competition with similar groups for primacy in this "one dimension."

There currently is no mechanism for comparing and contrasting public policy in an objective, non-partisan (however defined) manner.

So, presuming there is the collective public will to create a new "order" in New York, one based upon accurate verifiable data and analysis and one that allows for the full participation of the individual as well as the organization, can such a feat even be accomplished?

The answer is yes.

Utilizing some of the ideas on this site, it is relatively easy to create a system of full public participation. As we have stated, we must have the full participation of every New Yorker because the collective "mind" is more likely to come up with positive outcomes than those of a limited number of our citizens. We really don't know where the next stroke of "genius" may come from if we don't allow for the possibility that it exists and has an opportunity to be heard and vetted.

So then the individual, who may be interested in one or multiple issues may have the same power and influence as an organization or the media and as importantly, has access to other informed opinions which may moderate his own and assist in consensus building and compromise, key ingredients to a civil society.

More in part two.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Open information ...

"On Tuesday, Vivek Kundra, the federal chief information officer, unveiled Apps.Gov, a Web site where federal agencies will able to buy so-called cloud computing applications and services that have been approved by the government to replace more costly and cumbersome computing services at their own locations."

The same thing or a variant thereof, can be done on Long Island (and New York).

This is one of the ideas we are promoting with a Long Island "Open Code" Library and the Long Island "Cloud" Project, not only as a means for government to work more effectively, but for citizens to have access to the tools they require to more effectively participate in information exchange, self governance and verifiable news and information.

This idea gains even more currency with the push for a new constitutional convention in New York.

Without the "tools" required for participation, regular citizens will be effectively shut out from meaningful participation by better organized special interests and the established media.

Friday, August 28, 2009

More Citizen Alert ideas ...

"Three state senators called on Gov. David A. Paterson to sign into law a bill that would create a statewide e-mail alert program notifying people when a convicted sex offender moves into a neighborhood.

But the executive director of Parents for Megan's Law - a Stony Brook-based nonprofit group that provides the same service and allows visitors to its Web site to map where offenders are located with thumbnail sketches complete with pictures - said such a program may be redundant."

Here we have yet the latest example of a worthwhile program running into an "implementation" problem.

Putting aside the issues that the alerts should be more than email (xml etc) and as we have previously stated, ideas of this sort should be "plug and play."

That is, there should be existing, dynamic and flexible open standards in place to immediately execute the ideas of our elected officials and our concerned citizens and organizations.

"One Long Island" contains suggestions for this type of open system.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Citizen Alert Network redux ...

"The Nassau County Legislature unanimously approved a bill Monday creating a Silver Alert system for reporting elderly people who wander away, similar to an Amber Alert system in place for missing children.

"It was an idea that had been percolating in my mind since last year, when an old and dear friend of mine, Hal Doliner, got the car keys and drove off and ended up killing himself in a one-car accident," Legis. Wayne Wink (D-Roslyn) said after the vote.

"We have had too many cases of older people wandering off and winding up in hospitals before they are reunited with their families," Wink said.

The bill requires Nassau County police to establish a registry into which families can put the names of adults with Alzheimer's disease or dementia. Police would send out immediate alerts to the media, hospitals and other police departments if they are reported missing."

Here is another worthwhile program disconnected from other similar (Amber Alert etc) ideas.

If the county (and government in general, Long Island in particular) could establish a "set of flexible standards" as proposed here with the "Citizen Alert Network" along with other One Long Island collaborative ideas, it would be a simple matter for the police department to have this program up immediately upon passage.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Odds and ends ...

Sorry about the sparsity of posts lately. A combination of the summer doldrums and finishing up my new CD.

There never seems to be enough hours in the day.

A couple of things though ...

Congratulations to the Nassau Council of Chambers of Commerce on their new Web 2.0/3.0 project with Karma 411 , General Sentiment and others. I was happy to play a small part in getting that off the ground.

Also, please check out the new Long Island Blog Posts site by Bruce Chamoff's company.

Also I've been formulating and expanding my "dynamic legislation" concept.

I just find it incredible that we can't "normalize" of simplify (simplify, NOT make simplistic) and construct algorithms (fixed and ad hoc) that will allow legislators and the general public to analyze and determine the reasonable outcomes of legislation as a stand alone measure and in concert with existing legislation.

The very idea that local, state and federal bodies are passing legislation without reading it or understanding its impact should frighten even the most cold hearted cynic.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Solution to the problem?

"The way forward

So, how do we keep what we have and bring in more? One small bit of hope: The Long Island Regional Planning Council is calling a July 29 summit of key players. Good idea: Use the still-fresh pain of the OSI loss as a catalyst for action.

That's one baby step. What we need is the will and the sense of urgency to flex our regional muscle and grow a biotech cluster that will be a world-beater. We need to be like
San Diego, where Helicon fled. That city has enough biotech companies so that a scientist can feel safe in signing on with one, because if it fails (and many do), there are other jobs in the area. To grow companies and attract scientists to the Island, we need that same synergy here.

If the great science emerging from our world-class research institutions is to create companies that start and stay here, it's a lead-pipe cinch that we must speak with one voice, more loudly and persuasively than the competing regions. That's the real lesson of OSI

The "One Long Island" series of ideas are designed to do what the above commentator proposes.

No, it's not a "bolt of lightening" that will solve out problems overnight. But then again we didn't arrive at this position overnight either.

Long Island needs to be "reorganized." Methodically, deliberately and based in real data and collaborative analysis and action.

Isn't it lucky we have the talent here on Long Island already to do this work. Give them some minor initial funding and some cooperation and let them get the job done.

You'll be amazed how quickly it can come together.

Put aside the "old ways of thinking" about the issues and dissolve old alliances where necessary.

This is a new day and age. The tools are available if the mind and heart are willing.

There's really nothing left to talk about.

There's nothing left to do, but to do it.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Spending money wisely ...

"More than $2 million in Local Government Efficiency (LGE) grants were awarded for Long Island, Gov. David Patterson announced on Tuesday. The LGE funds will support projects that consolidate local government services to cuts costs, remove waste and make operations more effective."

It's good that the state is "spending money to save money."

A better use of the money, however and one that will have long term effect, is to help develop a system along the lines of "One Long Island."

Accurate information and objective analysis is the key to long term, positive change.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

A suggestion ...

"State law currently does not allow counties to abolish governments. The new law allows a county executive and county legislature to create a master plan, subject to a referendum, that could merge or dissolve local governments."

"The most dysfunctional city on the planet is going to tell us how to streamline government?" Southampton Village Mayor Mark Epley said of the bill signed into law Thursday by Gov. David A. Paterson. "What drives the tax bill on Long Island is the cost of education. That's what the state should be focusing on."

A suggestion.

Nassau and Suffolk are already in the process of doing a master plan for Long Island through the Long Island Regional Planning Council. My understanding, through discussions with those involved in the process, is that it will be collaborative, comprehensive, thorough and perhaps even dynamic.

Do we really need another master plan for one particular purpose?

Can't we yet see that most things we do on Long Island are interrelated?

Can't we yet base our decisions on a rational, deliberative approach such as (but not exclusively obviously) we suggest in the "One Long Island" series of concepts?

The truth is that no one has the information we need in a format that is usable for the intended purposes on Long Island or in New York State.

Until we make that a priority, we will continually be subject to "chasing our own tail" stuck in a cycle of stagnation.

One Long Island creates an "open system" for collaborative development.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

New York State Dynamic Constitutional Convention: Part One

The has been quite a bit of discussion lately about a New York State Constitutional Convention.

This has been motivated primarily by the "breakdown" in Albany and the impact it has had on New York citizens.

I would respectfully submit for consideration the concept of a "dynamic" constitutional convention based, in part, upon the preceding 300 posts (One Long Island/Long Island Constitutional Convention).


Because as history has repeatedly demonstrated, a "static" approach to major issues in inherently limited by its lack of flexibility and lack of "normalized" information and analysis.

More in Part Two.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Plug n' Play ...

Here is yet another good idea and worthwhile program to benefit those citizens with Alzheimer’s.

Here's the question. What similar types of programs are currently available and how are they run? What programs currently exist not directly on point but similar (Amber Alert etc) that might be used as a model?

We've previously opined on the need for a flexible "common language" for Long Island (and indeed New York State and maybe the federal government as well). Without this "common language" there is minimal coordination and much wasted effort.

If, for example, the Alzheimer's program (legislation) described above could be "plugged in" to an existing technical framework, it would be much easier to establish connections with "complimentary" programs and legislation.

One Long Island offers, among other concepts, ideas on how to create this "framework" for the rapid and collaborative implementation of public policy.

A "unified theory"of sorts for public policy.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Funny ... sad ...

Funny bit from The Daily Show on Long Island as the 51st state.

Funny, but illustrative of the way we are currently viewed.

"One Long Island" is a way to change this perception.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Yes we have no bananas ...

“I think we’re seeing a meltdown,” said Edward I. Koch, the former New York mayor. He added, “I believe it’s not only disgraceful, but it makes New York look like a banana republic.”

The natural tendency in times of crisis is to look for a strong "leader" to solve our problems.

I believe that the problems New York is experiencing are systemic and that they essentially require a reworking of how we govern ourselves.

The One Long Island series of ideas are an attempt to create an "environment" where ideas can be discussed and analyzed on a level playing field apart from the "political game" utilizing "normalized data. "

The problems we have are too large for "games."

Elected officials are certainly in the middle of all this, but so too are the many organizations and advocacy groups that have been created over the years in reaction to the "game." Certainly this "game within a game" will need to be reformed as well.

One Long Island attempts to return the large policy decisions of the day back into the hands of the general public.

This trust in the "collective will" has met with suspicion in the past. But in the past we have not had the technical tools at our disposal to engage in the type of collaborative meta-planning as we do today.

What will require "meta-leadership" is the will, strength and vision to give the public the tools we need to govern ourselves.

This is not difficult to do from a technical point of view, but it will require sacrifice by those who currently hold power and those who earn a living interacting with those in power.

Friday, June 5, 2009

LI Business News Editorial ...

Editorial: In the dark

by the Editors
Published: June 5, 2009
, ,

In case you missed it, New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo – yes, we’re also wondering why the governor wasn’t at the command – is pushing a bill that could lead to eliminating or consolidating local governments.

The N.Y. Government Reorganization and Citizen Empowerment Act, Cuomo’s baby, would make it easier for voters to erase special taxing districts, including entire governments.

And, understandably, the proposed bill received a resounding endorsement from business leaders and elected officials in county and state governments.

The argument: The extra taxing jurisdictions are placing an unnecessary burden on Long Island taxpayers, many of whom are already choked by the cost of living here.

Of course taxes on Long Island are extreme and, yes, the layers of government make it difficult to figure out which government entity is supposed to clear which street during a snowstorm.

This bill, which has bipartisan support, would help streamline government responsibilities.

But would it really lead to lower taxes? For many Islanders, school district charges make up more than 80 percent of their property tax bill.

Also, if we’re going to consider the removal of government layers, who is to say that the model used in smaller villages such as Patchogue and Babylon isn’t more productive than the town model, where garbage is often not picked up along highways?

Be careful what you wish for, lawmakers, the voters might be best served by eliminating you.

But generally speaking, Cuomo is right about what has crippled the New York economy. The state, and Long Island in particular, can’t survive without consolidation of some sort.

New York has 10,000 layers of government imposing taxes and fees.

That includes water, sewer and lighting districts.

Lighting districts? If something isn’t done soon, there won’t be any lights left to turn on.

My response:

You have identified a key point. Currently there is no adequate method of assessing the quality of services and the cost of similar services. In fact as Mr. Cuomo has said, he is not even 100% sure how many taxing jurisdictions there are.

That is unacceptable. How can you know how to solve a problem unless you have identified the problem in detail and explored all viable options?

This not the fault of Mr. Cuomo who I’m sure is doing the best he can within the existing structure, but it is a problem that needs to be addressed so that the public can feel reasonably secure that the changes being considered are viable and well thought out and that all informed opinions are heard (most importantly the public) on a level playing field.

This is because, in part, we have data and methods of analysis that are disjointed and not “normalized” on Long Island and New York generally. Also the information is generally if not always presented in a “static format” rather than a “dynamic format” making it difficult to compare and analyze the different options and to react to sudden changes in the “decision making environment.”

Consolidation is one method for change. “Dynamic collaboration” is another (explained here http://www.onelongisland.com) with some proposals on how to construct this new “dynamic environment.”

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Good article ...

Here is an well written article "A Wealth of Municipalities, and an Era of Hard Time" that raises a number of interesting points.

It does serve to prove our point however, that when it comes to rational decision making about the best method(s) for providing services, we are not all singing from the "same hymnal" with regard to data and analysis.

The first step in coming to a reasonable, collaborative resolution is the normalization of the data and the creation of "dynamic" system rather than the "static" system that currently exists.

Part of the One Long Island series of ideas is an attempt to remedy this problem.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Dynamic Action vs Unintended Consequences:Part I

Unintended consequences are outcomes that are not (or not limited to) the results originally intended in a particular situation. The unintended results may be foreseen or unforeseen, but they should be the logical or likely results of the action. For example, historians have speculated that if the Treaty of Versailles had not imposed such harsh conditions on Germany, World War II would not have occurred. From this perspective, one might consider the war an unintended consequence of the treaty.

Unintended consequences can be grouped into roughly three types:

Discussions of unintended consequences usually refer to the situation of perverse results. This situation can arise when a policy has a perverse incentive and causes actions contrary to what is desired.

The law of unintended consequences

The "law of unintended consequences" (also called the "law of unforeseen consequences") states that any purposeful action will produce some unintended consequences. A classic example is a bypass — a road built to relieve traffic congestion on a congested road — that attracts new development and with it more traffic, resulting in two congested streets instead of one.

This maxim is not a scientific law; it is more in line with Murphy's law as a warning against the hubristic belief that humans can fully control the world around them. Stated in other words, each cause has more than one effect, and these effects will invariably include at least one unforeseen side effect. The unintended side effect can potentially be more significant than any of the intended effects.


The idea of unintended consequences dates back at least to Adam Smith, the Scottish Enlightenment, and consequentialism (judging by results). However, it was the sociologist Robert K. Merton who popularized this concept in the twentieth century.

In his 1936 paper, "The Unanticipated Consequences of Purposive Social Action", Merton tried to apply a systematic analysis to the problem of "unanticipated consequences" of "purposive social action". He emphasized that his term "purposive action… [is exclusively] concerned with 'conduct' as distinct from 'behavior.' That is, with action that involves motives and consequently a choice between various alternatives".[1] Merton also stated that "no blanket statement categorically affirming or denying the practical feasibility of all social planning is warranted."[2]


Possible causes of unintended consequences include the world's inherent complexity (parts of a system responding to changes in the environment), perverse incentives, human stupidity, self-deception or other cognitive or emotional biases. As a sub-component of complexity (in the scientific sense), the chaotic nature of the universe – and especially its quality of having small, apparently insignificant changes with far-reaching effects (e.g., the Butterfly Effect) – applies.

Robert K. Merton listed five possible causes of unanticipated consequences:[3]

  1. Ignorance (It is impossible to anticipate everything, thereby leading to incomplete analysis)
  2. Error (Incorrect analysis of the problem or following habits that worked in the past but may not apply to the current situation)
  3. Immediate interest, which may override long-term interests
  4. Basic values may require or prohibit certain actions even if the long-term result might be unfavorable (these long-term consequences may eventually cause changes in basic values)
  5. Self-defeating prophecy (Fear of some consequence drives people to find solutions before the problem occurs, thus the non-occurrence of the problem is unanticipated)
We will attempt to explore over the next few posts how our concept of "Dynamic Action (or Dynamic Planning, Dynamic Legislation etc)" may potentially serve as a hedge against the unintended consequences of what appears to be the "correct" decision at a particular moment in time.

Friday, May 22, 2009

The County of Long Island: Part One

With all the talk of statehood for Long Island and the recent push for consolidation of various forms of government, it just stuck me.

Why not combine the two?

Why not reform all of Long Island into a powerful "semi independent" region capable of having its own constitution and rethinking and reinventing how all services are provided and how we leverage our educational organizations and business for maximum opportunity for all its citizens?

After all, couldn't we use almost all the ideas we've been promoting in "One Long Island" in the "reformation" of Long Island?

Sure we'd probably need fewer elected officials, but I mean, what the heck. Let's do it for the good of the citizens. Besides, a unified County of Long Island would have much greater political power in Albany because it would be less about traditional political affiliations and more about the citizens of Long Island. The "labyrinth" of divisions would truly be mended.

Why take half measures? Fix the problem across the board. In fact let's have a referendum on the idea. You know people are serious about real reform when the proposers actually have to sacrifice something themselves. And the only way to do that is through a "meta reformation."

We can have the newly constituted Long Island Regional Planning Council as the vehicle to craft the proposal. After all they are in the midst of a new "master plan" for Long Island anyway. Let's have a truly coordinated effort to solve our shared problems.

Also is it time for a New York Constitutional Convention? Do we have so many difficult issues to address that is is time for a New York reformation? Is this the best method for fundamentally restructuring government and addressing other important social issues?

Certainly we have the brainpower here on Long Island to figure it out. Perhaps One County first, statehood later after we've proven ourselves?

More in Part II

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Comments ...

Some good ideas in the proposal. More needs to be done however to determine the actual savings of the plan and the impact it will have on the structural governance of the service providers and the delivery of services. Also the legislation should include all governing bodies, not just those cited.

They did well with the information they had available, but Long Island (and New York) needs a more formal plan to normalize and analyze data and otherwise engage in “meta-planning” and “meta education.”

We should also use “collaborative technology” in a “dynamic” way so that the results of any report or proposal including the present “static” one, have broad support from the public based upon actual knowledge and input.

Congratulations on a good job however in “moving the ball forward” and engaging the public in an important issue. More here http://www.onelongisland.com

Review: Part One

I thought it was time to start a review (and possibly expand) on some of the 300 or so previous posts.

Simply stated, ‘One Long Island’ is a series of interrelated projects designed to foster productive collaboration on Long Island through the utilization of common technology, interdisciplinary education, public participation and a shared Long Island philosophy. In short it is a way to change the way we solve problems on Long Island in a sustainable manner.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Dynamic Ethics Commission?

"How emblematic is it of Albany's challenges that the latest scandal involves the commission that's supposed to oversee ethics and lobbying? It's over the Troopergate matter again, the scandal that doesn't seem to die. State officials must recast this commission into one the public can trust."

Can the public trust itself?

Perhaps the new "Commission" should be akin to a rotating jury process, although not quite as "open ended." After all there are laws to be followed and facts to be applied.

The idea is that if there is a large pool of individuals involved, from diverse backgrounds, it is more likely it is that the result will be fair.

Can any "commission" appointed by powerful people ever be truly independent? Perhaps. But usually elected officials appoint folks who generally think as they do, so there will always be some sort of bias, whether overt or unintentional involved on the selection process I would suspect. The current political culture is too strong to really avoid this result.

So how to select these folks? How do we provide them with accurate, unbiased information upon which to render an fair judgment?

First we have to reform how information is made available (as we have been talking about for the past 15 years or so).

Perhaps the ethics laws themselves should be reformed. Are they too stringent so as to stifle creative work and restrict attracting quality public servants in the state or are they not restrictive enough?

What levels of investigation are there? Perhaps certain categories can be handled by a smaller appointed "commission." Perhaps larger cases should have "regional" directors elected by the public. Elected members may have no political affiliation. Perhaps all cases should be handled by this larger commission.

After all if you wish to "regain" the public trust shouldn't you allow the public to be part of the process?

As with any reform, it is important to understand how the change will affect not only the area contemplated, buy any ancillary issue as well.

This why we advocate the "meta" approach for comprehensive change and the direct engagement of the public and additionally, providing the public with the tools they need to assist in their own governance.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Solution or Distracter?

Is this partial solution helpful or what we have referred to before as a "distracter?"

10,500 sounds like a lot of government, but is it really going to save money if you consolidate certain parts of government without first understanding how services are provided in New York and, more importantly, what the best alternatives are (see Best Practices Wiki, Virtual Constitution, Meta-Data Project etc in previous posts.)?

Once again we have a static report on which we purport to make sweeping legislative changes.

I personally believe it is a good thing to allow the public an easier route to modify their government through referenda. I would have regularly scheduled "cycles of referenda" in fact to keep the public engaged in a "dynamic process" rather than require the public to get signatures. I would also give the public broader powers to reform how they are governed generally.

Here I'm afraid is a partial solution which at the end of the day will not lead to significant cost reductions (especially on Long Island) because it does not include school districts and other large forms of government, where the bulk of the tax dollars go.

It also does not provide a clear methodology for determining cost savings based upon empirical data gathered neutrally and analyzed by collaborative means. How do I know this? Because it doesn't presently exist. But it should and it can with a reasonable effort.

Put simply. No one knows with any reasonable certainty the outcomes of their actions or legislation.

Again we have a lot of effort going for a partial solution when we can be putting more effort into crafting a broader framework for more sustainable progress in New York State.

The intent of the individuals involved, I'm sure, is noble and for the right reasons. But do we really need a another partial solution?

The problem may seem to be insurmountable, but it is not. It just takes a little organization and a little collaboration to unleash the immense talent of the individuals and organizations in our state.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Meta-analysis continued ...

"Last year, DiNapoli launched www.OpenBookNewYork.com, a website containing searchable databases of spending by more than 100 state agencies and more than 60,000 state contracts. It also includes school districts.

And there are other groups shining sunlight through the clouds on school districts as well. The
Empire Center for New York State Policy, an Albany-based think tank and project of the nonprofit Manhattan Institute for Policy Research, provides an easily accessible, easily searchable database for government payrolls, labor contracts and expenditures across the state—including school districts’ teachers and superintendents—through its SeeThroughNY Web portal (www.SeeThroughNY.net). "

All of the above projects (and others of a similar nature) are good and worthwhile. But, yet again, we see similar projects executed without "normalization" or a "common language."

Can they be converted to become part of the "whole" and thus more productive and useful elements? Of course.

Will they?

No, unless we (as Long Islanders and New Yorkers in this case) demand that they do.

This data, while useful, still does not allow us to engage in the "meta-analysis" we require to come to rational and collaborative decisions about our future.

At best this information is a beginning. At worst it allows advocacy groups of all stripes to pick and choose only the data they want from the data source(s) they wish to use to perpetuate their already established beliefs.

We can, and must do better.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Dynamic Legislation continued ...

"A proposal for political accountability: add up all the costs imposed on localities by New York State through its actions, then deduct all the benefits localities get from the state.

We’re unsure what the answer would be, but there is some anecdotal evidence that the cost to localities has been moving upward in recent months."

A good example of what we've been talking about. No one really knows the impact of their legislative actions.

To be fair, this is a longstanding problem and not just in New York State

However it is knowable.

As we've discussed here among other posts, we require a new methodology for coming to rational solutions.

More later ...

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Piercing the Haze: Part I

What is a "distracter?" A "distracter" is technology which is employed to make it appear that the provider is interested in your input or that the information you provide will be used for a constructive purpose.

The less cynical view is that the provider doesn't know any better and is using the technology because they feel they have to to look current. The more cynical view is that they do know what they are doing and are using the technology to promote a specific agenda while using the technology as a sort of "Trojan horse" to gain your trust.

Filters are those elements which prevent the public form getting accurate information.

So what we are attempting to do, in part, with the One Long Island series of ideas is to "pierce" the haze of filters and distracters toward a more unified "language." Yes there will still be disagreements on policy, but at least we'll all be "singing from the same hymnal" so to speak.

More in Part II.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Dynamic Legislation: Part II

We've posted previously about a dynamic legislative process and the need for a flexible "standard or normalized language" to be established in order to better coordinate policies and programs.

Generally we've restrained ourselves to the issues on Long Island and New York State (although the general principles we promote are applicable in many, if not all regions).

So the trick is to lessen the "gamesmanship" of policy making and promote a clear, rational model instead. Although some might say that the "gamesmanship" is what makes politics exciting and fun as well as giving the media and endless source of content. Nevertheless, we will go forward with our somewhat boring version of how to restructure our environment in order to be more productive.

Yes, but aren't you engaging in "social engineering" one might ask. Well, no unless you believe the public is incapable of creating a better model for itself than the one that currently exists.

No, I'm not talking about a "revolutionary idea" here. We are just taking elements of what currently exists and reconfiguring them in a way to be more productive and to create an dynamic environment (one that can quickly react and adapt to changes in the environment).

So how to create this "meta-democracy" with a minimum of disruption but with an eye towards the future?

Tough, but not impossible.

Let's not get hung up over issues like "term limits" because in reality the system dictates how people react not how long they've been in office. Yes the longer you're there the better you get at the "game" but we are suggesting that the game no longer works.

First, standardize or normalize in a dynamic and flexible manner "technical language" whether legislative, Internet or other. Language (in the broadest sense of the word) utilized by government should not look or behave differently whether it is at the local, state or federal level. A key element in public participation is the use of plain language and procedures to help coordinate and foster collaboration across the real and sometimes artificial boundaries we've established over the years. No, I'm not talking about "dumbing down" the language, but as it stands now it is getting in the way of active, real debate.

Out of time today .. more in Part III.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Organizational M Theory: Part II

Just an idea that continues to interest (puzzle) me.

That is applying M Theory to organizational theory and somehow incorporating it in to our "One Long Island" series of concepts.

What interests me currently is the fact that there are multiple "dimensions of spacetime" and that the same set of circumstances may have different outcomes in each of these dimensions.

It reminds me of Long Island, where we have multiple organizations/individuals and groups of organizations/individuals working on the same or similar problems in their own "membranes" and coming up with different results.

That isn't necessarily a bad thing if there is someway to "string" these membranes together to come up with the most effective outcome.

Just something I'm exploring, may or may not lead to anything.

As usual.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Almost there ...

Yet another indication that Long Island can create its own news and information portal apart from traditional media.

"The news business “is in a difficult time period right now, between what was and what will be,” said Gary Kebbel, the journalism program director for the Knight Foundation, which has backed 35 local Web experiments. “Our democracy is based upon geography, and we believe local information is such a core need for our democracy to survive.

So the idea, in part, is to take many of these "hyper local" sources (and traditional sources) and through collaborative technology (see many previous posts) create a verifiable and dynamic source of information and analysis for Long Islanders.

It is really closer to reality than one might think.

It is also a fundamental requirement for Long Island if we are to create an environment for comprehensive, collaborative, dynamic, sustainable, positive change.

Monday, April 6, 2009

To Tweet or Not to Tweet ...

OK. I admit it. I don't tweet.

I just must not be cool enough yet.

Or I don't have enough hours in the day to conduct a "stream of consciousness" seminar about all my daily activities.

Not that anyone would care anyway.

I do think Twitter has has a usefulness beyond the current "hip" factor however.

Random and seemingly inconsequential as most of the information may be, it is information that may point to a "collective sense" about certain issues.

This could be useful as one of many information source on Long Island and elsewhere if harnessed properly and integrated into other forms of information.

This is one of the applications of the Stony Brook "Lydia" program and its Web 3.0 view (please see previous posts).

Twitter, if collected and analyzed properly could actually be a useful tool in helping to form public policy and to be a part of the independent media collaboration we've spoken about among other applications.

So even apparently benign sources of information can be integrated into the "One Long Island" process and be put to work for the common good.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Reversing the Cycle: Part One

"In a true democracy, legislation becomes law after vigorous debate by well-informed parties who reach agreement for the betterment of the public.
In Albany, it’s different.

"Detailing the projects after the fact doesn't help," said Blair Horner of the New York Public Interest Research Group. "The public deserves to know how their money is being spent before the vote."

"The head of the region’s most powerful business group is calling the budget deal struck in Albany over the weekend a disaster for Long Island."

Seems that we have quite a few folks unhappy with the new New York State budget. Maybe more than usual this year.

This shouldn't come as a surprise as there is greater competition for dwindling resources (at least for the time being). Those in power do what those in power always do (with rare exceptions). Take care of the folks who put them in power.

So what are we poor New Yorkers to do? Accept the inevitable?

Just as with the federal budget, there doesn't seem to be a clear understanding of how "all the various parts" work together to form a just and productive society with maximum liberty and minimal governmental intervention.

Unfortunately, the more "passive" we are the more liberty we lose. Liberty is a "dynamic" active process which requires a good deal of public involvement.

It isn't entirely our fault that we have become "passive." We send "reformers" to Albany and to Washington don't we?

We do, and for the most part they try their best until they are crushed by the status quo and give up or conform.

So, again, what are we to do?

Probably the only way to effect substantive change is with an overhaul of the way we currently do business. Not an easy thing to accomplish when those controlling the purse strings and the legislative process are not prone to change.

It doesn't pay to get angry and accusatory, the situation is what it is and it will take time to change. Progressive, positive change is generally a slow, deliberate process.

The first thing we should require is "normalized" information and analysis across the board that is widely available and in user friendly formats (see previous posts). This will allow everyone to see what is before us in the cold hard light of reason.

The second thing we need to do is shed "organizational labels"and preconceived notions of what is before us. You may believe you are 100% correct on the issues, and indeed you may be. However, your ideas must be subjected to the same intellectual rigor as all other ideas.

The third thing we must do is create an open "dynamic" legislative process (see previous posts). We should use our public and private universities and others to design a "better" system. The "system" will ultimately assist the public in forming fair and impartial public policy.

To change, we must "think" differently and give the public the tools to change.

More in Part Two.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

No Change Without Knowledge: Part I

President Obama correctly assessed the public mood for "change" and indeed has tapped into something broader than that.

Significant change is upon us. It just may not be the change the President anticipates, or for that matter the change any of us anticipate.

Maybe it comes around on or about the beginning of a new century and is somewhat psychological in nature as much as real (we feel we must change because its a new century) or perhaps based on new economic, environmental and political realities. That is for smarter folks than me to debate.

Whether it is technological, scientific, generational, organizational or any other category we may mention, there is a thirst for "something different and presumably better."

So while the president and others have clearly seen that change is imminent and is doing his best to assess what this change means and to "lead" the country is a productive direction, it may not be completely possible unless we "empower" the public with the tools we need rather than stay mired in the politics of division.

Its one thing to say we want a unified and collaborative United States, it is quite another to give the public an easier route to accomplishing this task.

So, whether it is the current debate over executive bonuses at AIG, or how to fix the state budget or how to reform local government or schools or any number of important issues, the public feels somewhat left out of the process and angry and frustrated as a result.

Who do we blame? Who is in charge? Who knows how to fix the problem?

No one. Everyone.

You can not make significant, sustainable progress without an educated and engaged public.

You can not say you want public participation with a straight face and then not give the public the tools (please see the 300 or so preceding posts) to help govern themselves.

People must know the true cost of services or the true outcomes of certain actions.

Knowledge is key to sustainable, positive change.

We now have the technology to "tell the truth."

Do we have the strength to make real change and allow the "truth" to be told?

"Of course, it is not uncommon for complicated legislation to go through Congress with sections that escape detailed initial scrutiny."

Yes, but shouldn't it be?

More in Part II