Resource: Organizing at the Municipal Level


From David Meimers of Bloomingdale; description of an organizing plan that begins at the municipal level and eventually moves to the state (and national) level:

Our goal is to attempt to build consistent numbers of people in each community prior to going to Village Hall Council meetings. The idea is to build a steady and growing presence and broad community support so that when we attend Village council meetings there is enough "mass" and enough "local people" understanding and in support of the issue so that we could at some point begin to ask for Village Resolutions supporting Single Payer Health Care.

It is fine to start that "mass building" anywhere. The reason I believe consistency is important is because if the politicians do not feel that it is going to assist them in any way getting re-elected they will not support it. Politicians in general respond to their electorate when we demonstrate and rise up in mass. If they do not feel that the vibe in the room is widely shared (especially here in Republican communities) it is easy to say something like, "thank you very much, we will take that under advisement, perhaps we can discuss that at the Committee level" and it gets buried in Committee. Without mass and grass roots pressure that item dies in committee and will never see a vote. It takes consistent pressure and visibly growing numbers to move it to a voting agenda. To get a YES vote requires the board to feel that without it they may lose the next election. That's the pressure they need to feel.

I've watched our Village Board crumble and alter things when a handful of dedicated citizens come week, after week, after week and grow in numbers. PETA came regularly because of what they perceived to be the unfair treating of animals at a local shelter. They started with a few, grew each week, in the end the Attorney General of the State was involved with getting the animal shelter closed down. It was incredible to watch their passion. They even came back to the Board in mass weeks later because the sign was still up and someone left a few kittens outside the door. The next day the Village wrapped the sign in Dark Plastic. Truly amazing.

I believe we need Village Team Captains. People in charge of mobilizing dozens of people in their community. Sort of like "committee chair people". Each party has Committeemen and Committeewomen in charge of mobilizing people door to door. That turns into votes and movement of issues. It's community organizing.

I have to believe that even more unleashed passion is out there for health care reform. Every Village must have dozens of health care horror stories and those are the people we need to reach and then reach further. Their loved ones. The strain from double digit year after year heath care expenses. The inconsistency from employer to employer plan designs. The uncertainty of whether or not their would be coverage at all or a lousy HMO next year with a small network of already overflowing providers.

It's not enough to show up once. Village halls need to be packed every time Single Payer is on a Village Hall agenda. We need organized spokes people that can deliver a Win-Win Republican style presentation. Several visits need to be made before the "ask" for a resolution.
Educating the Board
Stories from the Community
Petitions within the community
Packed Village Board Meeting(s)
The Ask - the Re-ask and finally the Demand for a resolution

Each Village resolution then can build on the prior one.

The next time we go to Springfield we should set a goal of 50 buses. Each community delivering one full of people and even more full of signatures on pages.

I think we need a plan and a strategy for building a database and getting signatures by voting district and community.

It is very easy to get on a Village Agenda. Talk to and persuade a Trustee or the Mayor and make the presentation. But to get a vote is not easy. To get a Yes vote is even more difficult. It takes a strategy.



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