Direct link to this page: http://copswiki.org/Common/CopsFundraising
This topic will help us to organize our fundraising efforts. Citizens Oversight has reached a new level of activity and it is necessary to have more revenue to support these activities.
Grants & Crowdfunding
Citizens Oversight is now planning to seek grant funding for a number of projects. Funding for these projects may be a mix of direct grant funding and crowd-funding such as through fundly.com.
Citizen 2.0 Educational Program
Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis once said that "The most important office in a democracy is that of the citizen." Unfortunately, most people are not aware of their power, rights, or responsibilities as citizens and have very little experience engaging with local governmental agencies. As a result, most governmental bodies receive no oversight by citizens whatsoever, and this can result in waste, fraud, and abuse. Whether it is the local city council, hospital district, water district, airport authority, traffic commission, planning group, or any other elected or appointed body, citizen involvement is essential to improving decision-making and avoiding big mistakes, cronyism, discrimination, conflicts of interest, and outright fraud. The presence of just one citizen in the room completely changes the dynamics of these meetings, particularly if that person is willing to oppose bad decisions. No longer can the body say that "no one voiced any opposition."
The Citizen 2.0 Educational Program is based on video and multimedia learning to provide the basic tools needed to effectively attend public meetings, assert your rights and hold officials' feet to the fire. Grant funding is sought for the development of these video and interactive multimedia self-teaching tools to allow any citizen anywhere to join the expanding ranks of Citizens' Oversight Panelists (COPs) and participate with regional support groups to provide this desperately needed oversight.
COPs Government Mapping Project
Nowhere is there a central clearinghouse providing a "map" of our government. This is difficult for two reasons: 1) the sheer size of the government is immense, and 2) it is constantly changing so that any list is out of date, particularly if elected or appointed officials are included in entries for each body. COPs proposes that each governmental entity be asked to enter the information in our website database and to create a standard descriptor on their own website, similar to the RSS (really simple syndication) format which is used to describe data sources. Each entity would be asked to complete the data entry to describe themselves, as well as important characteristics COPS can used to evaluate each entityregarding openness and facilitation of citizen engagement. For example, we want to know: a) are their meetings scheduled for convenient times? b) Do they have a website? c) Do they post the long version of their agenda? c) How many minutes are provided to citizens for public comment? d) Can citizens use a video projector and/or document camera during the meeting? e) are they clear that citizens need not identify themselves to speak at the meeting? f) Is the meeting video recorded? Webcast? Are comments taken from on-line participants? etc. In addition to describing themselves, they are also asked about other entities they interact with or sponsor, so that our map will naturally expand to eventually cover all governmental bodies. For example, a City Council likely also has a number of commissions, "task forces" and other appointed bodies of an advisory nature (traffic, aging, recreation, reinvestment, etc.)
COPs Snapshot Protocol for Election Integrity
COPs has developed an innovative oversight methodology called the "Snapshot Protocol" which can detect central tabulator election fraud. This protocol can be implemented in any California County because California uses durable paper ballots (which can be recounted manually) and it is required that each county perform a post-election audit including a hand-tally of 1% of the precincts. The Snapshot Protocol is simple to deploy because it only requires that we receive a data file which is a snapshot of the election prior to the random selection of precincts involved in the 1% manual tally (and before the manual tally). In the November 2014 election, all 58 counties in California were contacted and requested to participate and many did. This project needs funding to perform the post-election data reduction and analysis and to further deploy the protocol to more counties in California and in other states.
Energy Utility Oversight
Due to our Shut San Onofre
project involvement, we intervened both in license amendments before the NRC (Nuclear Regulatory Commission) and proceedings at the CPUC (California Public Utility Commission). Subsequent to the $3.3 billion settlement on the San Onofre failure, we have filed a federal lawsuit in an attempt to get a better deal for ratepayers. Even moving the needle 1% would mean $33 million and a $10 refund to all ratepayers. We believe a reasonable resolution is about $2.8 billion less than the proposed settlement and about $1000 per meter in the affected area. In addition, we found that at the heart of the path of money from ratepayers to utilities is through the ERRA (Earned Revenue Requirement Accounts) which were set up in 2002 in response to the energy crisis of 2001, according to legislation called AB57. The state auditor recently said that "the commission lacks adequate processes to provide sufficient oversight of utility balancing accounts to protect ratepayers from unfair rate increases."
Fundraising for this project will kickstart a self-funding activity after getting it started because the CPUC offers "intervenor compensation" for intevenors that contribute meaningfully to the proceeding. Thus, covering overhead expenses for attorneys that work on a revenue sharing basis requires about $10K per proceeding, and any one attorney can probably handle 3 to 5 proceedings simultaneously, but no more than that. There is no limit to the number of proceedings that need oversight at the CPUC. Intervenor compensation is not available for NRC intervention.
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