You are here

Better Ombudsmen for China: A Risk of Real Democracy?

Politics, Governance, and Security Seminar by Michael H. Sommer, Visiting Scholar, Institute of Governmental Studies, UC, Berkeley.

February 10, 2009 12:00pm to 1:00pm

Dr. Sommer will make his presentation from his soon-to-be-published EWC Working Paper of the same title. He was America's first broadcast Ombudsman for the American Broadcasting Company, a highly successful program he created after a bill he wrote with Speaker Jesse Unruh to start a California Ombudsman failed to pass the Legislature for a second time. He and his ABC Ombudsmen College Intern staff processed more than 120,000 complaints from listeners over a four-year period with a success rate of 90%. His pioneering work received wide international recognition and special acknowledgment from the U.S. Congress.

Dr. Sommer and his wife, Dr. Veronika Sommer, also a EWC Visiting Scholar, are Visiting Scholars at the Institute of Governmental Studies, University of California, Berkeley. Both write columns for The Huffington Post. Their work on Chinese ombudsmen began when they were Visiting Fellows at the JFK School of Government at Harvard, and continued while Visiting Fellows in History at Yale, and Visiting Fellows in Political Science and History at Stanford. The Sommers have visited and written on China, last with Professor Joan Johnson-Freese of the Naval War College, on China's astronaut launches.

The ombudsmen concept originated in China. Dr. Sommer will weigh whether, appointing more and better Ombudsmen, given China's current state of governance, might lead to the risk of greater democracy for its people.

Michael Sommer was an advisor to nine U.S. Presidents and presidential candidates, including all three Kennedy brothers. As a journalist for the Los Angeles Times, ABC, and CBS, he won many of America's most prestigious awards, including the Peabody Award, two Emmys, four Golden Mikes, the California Newspaper Publishers Award, the Los Angeles Press Club Award, and the CBS News Fellowship to Columbia University as one of America's best news broadcasters.  The sommers have also served as senior advisors to three British Prime Ministers and three German Chancellors.

Primary Contact Info:
Name: Anna Tanaka
Phone: 808-944-7607