first_img“I thought the \ gubernatorial debate was just an embarrassment,” Levine said. “We have a democracy that depends on citizens making informed decisions. If we’re not having full debates, citizens aren’t able to make informed decisions.” Levine insists his bill isn’t intended to give either party an advantage, saying that since the seat will be open, nobody knows who the nominees will be in 2010. He hopes his bill will be picked up in the spirit of reform as legislators consider bills on redistricting, term limits and campaign finance. Three debates open up the possibilities, experts say, for more insight into the character, personality and philosophies of the candidates. “It’s important because it’s one of the few opportunities where voters can decide for themselves,” said Barbara O’Connor, director of Sacramento State’s Institute for the Study of Politics and the Media. “They can watch someone answer questions without a script in front of them. They can frame how they feel about someone non-verbally. They view debates as more truthful because they know people can’t mask discomfort in a live setting.” Ned Wigglesworth, policy advocate for California Common Cause, said moving to three debates would send a clear message that the gubernatorial race is critical and that the issues are not so easily condensed into 30-second sound bites. “It would mean greater reflection among voters, greater investment in the elections,” he said. “A lot of voters want easy, clear choices, information in easily digestible forms. A lot of people would rather have information spoon-fed to them rather than take the time to do the research on candidates. Having three debates during the week at night makes it easier for them to take part.” Voters apparently want debates, even if dismal ratings might suggest otherwise. Typically, according to surveys since 1998 by the Public Policy Institute of California, nearly three-fourths of voters say debates are somewhat or very important in deciding their vote. But others see debates as a relic of a previous age, especially in this day of the ubiquitous remote control in the hands of an audience with an increasingly shortened attention span. By their nature, debates create a distance with viewers now accustomed to interactive media, said San Francisco State professor Melissa Camacho, an expert on mass media and culture. Candidates come off as well-coiffed, stage-managed, overly prepared mannequins, throwing out practiced one-liners that only appear rehearsed and manipulative, she said; they hew to stale talking points and policy positions that make little sense to the real lives of people. “We’re a public that demands more connection with our political leaders,” Camacho said. “Debates don’t do that, not in the way they’re structured. There have been efforts to make them more palatable, like the town-hall forums that Bill Clinton started, but they really haven’t been successful. The problem is that the only way you can get a lot of viewers’ interest in politics is through entertainment.” Stan Statham, who is president and CEO of the California Broadcasters Association, also isn’t sure voters would tune in to more debates. He also acknowledges that it would cost stations millions in advertising dollars to air more debates. Still, Statham is ready to support Levine’s legislation. “Anything that would inspire and/or force candidates to participate in debates, we’d love it,” said Statham, a former Republican legislator who moderated the 2006 debate. “The only problem is that by the second and third debates, people are watching the fifth reruns of `M*A*S*H*.’ They’ve made up their minds.” [email protected] (916) 441-2101 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! Assemblyman Lloyd Levine has a plan to transform California’s apathetic masses into avid political consumers – or at least better informed ones. Levine, D-Van Nuys, is pushing a bill that would require not one, not two, but three general election debates between the two major candidates for governor. The bill, AB 970, which is scheduled for its first hearing later this month, would also create a debate commission that would tinker with various formats to generate greater interest. “It’s the marketplace of ideas,” said Levine, a third-term lawmaker who also has proposed banning less efficient light bulbs and mandating greater care of elephants, and is a co-author on a bill to allow assisted suicide. “Will it spur interest? I hope so. Some will see all three, but they’ll at least have more opportunities to see one. Those who do see all three will be more informed to make a decision.” But whether that comes to pass is subject to its own debate. Levine is bucking California’s history of limited debates, not to mention television viewers who are more inclined to watch sitcom reruns, a general hostility toward politicians, and everyday distractions. “Everyone’s busy. They’re all multi-tasking,” said Arthur Asa Berger, an author on numerous books on the media and culture. “There are so many distractions and news is so bad, people are tuned out. People find ways to keep their lives busy, so I don’t know if more debates will make that much difference.” Debates will continue to be useless, Levine said, if incumbent governors are able to dictate the terms, largely to insulate themselves from exposure that could hurt them in the polls. Since the 1970s, no incumbents have agreed to more than two debates, and no incumbents have been unseated in that time. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger continued the tradition last year, even refining the art of limiting his exposure by holding the sole debate on a Saturday night – typically the lowest night for viewership – up against playoff baseball and college football games. His campaign advisers also carefully set the rules, requiring both candidates to sit at a table with the interviewer, giving more the impression of a friendly conversation than a back-and-forth debate. His Democratic challenger, Phil Angelides, complained to no avail that it signaled to voters that it wasn’t a serious confrontation. last_img

first_imgEight out of nine Gardai serving in Gaoth Dobhair could not carry out their duties in the Irish language, an investigation has found.The investigation was carried out by An Coimisinear Teanga, Sean O Cuirreain.The findings of his report has been published today in An Coimisinéir Teanga’s Annual Report for 2011. It found that the Garda Commissioner failed to comply in this instance with a provision of An Garda Síochána Act 2005 which requires that members of the force stationed in the Gaeltacht should be sufficiently competent in Irish to enable them to use it with ease in carrying out their duties.A further statutory provision of An Garda Síochána’s language scheme under the Official Languages Act was also breached.The investigation arose from a complaint from a native Irish speaker who was unable to conduct his business through Irish with Gardaí in Gaoth Dobhair.The investigation, which commenced in February 2011, was temporarily set aside when Garda authorities increased to three the number of Irish speakers assigned to the station. However, the investigation was recommenced when no further progress was reported and a formal finding of non-compliance was made by An Coimisinéir Teanga in December 2011.An Coimisinéir Teanga made a series of recommendations to be implemented by the Garda authorities within a nine-month period to ensure full compliance with the statutory requirements.Speaking at the launch of his Annual Report for 2011, An Coimisinéir Teanga, Seán Ó Cuirreáin, said that the status of Irish as a community language in the Gaeltacht was more vulnerable now than at any time in the past.He added the State can hardly expect the Irish language to survive as a community language in the Gaeltacht if it continues to force people in those areas to carry out their business with the State through English.An Coimisinéir Teanga’s Office dealt with 734 new complaints about difficulties with state services in general through Irish during 2011, an increase of 5% on the previous year. Half of the complaints came from Dublin City and County and a further 21% came from Gaeltacht areas. The vast majority of complaints were resolved informally without resorting to statutory investigations.An Coimisinéir Teanga also published a special report today which he has now laid before both Houses of the Oireachtas. The report relates to the Department of Social Protection which was found to be in breach of statutory language provisions but failed to take corrective action. Two separate investigations found that the Department did not comply properly with its statutory language obligations with regard to the awarding of bonus marks for proficiency in Irish and English in specific internal promotion competitions.The system for the awarding of bonus marks for proficiency in the two languages was established in 1975 to replace the previous system of “compulsory” Irish. The investigation found that the Department had a statutory duty to award bonus marks for competence in Irish and English to suitably qualified candidates and that the Department was in breach of this provision when it limited the award of the bonus marks to candidates who had progressed to the final stage of promotion competitions. “The flawed approach adopted by the Department appears to be mirrored across the Civil Service and is clearly partly to blame for the marginalisation of Irish within the workforce in the sector,” according to An Coimisinéir Teanga.The Department did not appeal An Coimisinéir Teanga’s findings to the High Court on a point of law as permitted by legislation, but, neither did it implement the recommendations of the investigations. “In reporting this matter to both Houses of the Oireachtas, I have concluded my work on the issue and it now falls to the Oireachtas to take whatever course of action, if any, it deems appropriate in the circumstances” said Mr. Ó Cuirreáin. In addition to its ombudsman service, the Office of An Coimisinéir Teanga also carried out a series of audits of Government departments and other public bodies during 2011 to verify compliance with provisions of language legislation.The Office also published a series of recommendations in relation to amending provisions of the Official Languages Act which is being reviewed as part of the programme for Government.Mr. Ó Cuirreáin said that the system of confirming language schemes which is at the heart of the Official Languages Act has all but collapsed. During 2011, the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht confirmed only one new language scheme.In total, 105 language schemes have been confirmed by the Minister to date, but by the end of 2011, 66 of these had expired. This means that no second scheme has been confirmed for two thirds of public bodies. While the first scheme remains in force, no plan was put in place for an increase in the supply of services through Irish from those public bodies.At least 20% of the language schemes had expired for more than three years and a further 20% for more than two years.The following were among the public bodies whose language schemes had expired for more than three years at the end of 2011: the Office of the President, the Arts Council, Office of the Ombudsman, the Courts Service, Galway County Council, the Revenue Commissioners, and the Department for Education and Skills.In addition to the above, 28 other public bodies had been asked to prepare a first draft scheme but by the end of 2011 these schemes were not yet confirmed by the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht. In the case of ten of those, more than five years had elapsed since they were initially asked to prepare a draft scheme. The report also notes that four years and seven months had elapsed since the HSE on a national basis was requested to prepare a draft language scheme and almost three years had passed since An Post was asked to do likewise. More than two years had passed since the Office of the Houses of the Oireachtas, RTÉ and the National Roads Authority were asked to prepare draft language schemes.By year end, no language scheme had been confirmed for the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, which was formally established on June 1st 2011.“There can be but one conclusion: this important element of the language legislation is now, for all intents and purposes, in crisis,” according to An Coimisinéir Teanga.EIGHT OUT OF NINE GARDAI IN DONEGAL GAELTACHT COULDN’T SPEAK IRISH – REPORT was last modified: April 24th, 2012 by StephenShare this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Tags:An Coimisinear TeangaGaoth DobhairGardaiirish languageSean O Cuirreainlast_img read more