By Brad Friedman on 4/27/2010, 1:20pm PT  

There are no mistakes. As fate, or someone's idea of a joke would have it, I find myself, by complete coincidence, at the Creekside Inn in Northern California today, on totally unrelated work, on the first anniversary of the sudden and tragic death of my friend and colleague John Gideon.

John, for those who may not know, particularly for those of you who have only found The BRAD BLOG over the past year, was for many years an integral part of this place. He was the co-founder of VotersUnite.org, the author of their indispensable Daily Voting News, which we ran virtually every single day here since Election Day of 2005, an irreplaceable friend, partner and frequent contributor here at The BRAD BLOG and an indefatigable and unwavering champion of Election Integrity, reform and voters' rights --- particularly of the right not only to cast a ballot, but to have that ballot counted accurately and transparently as per the voter's intent.

It was here at the Creekside Inn, a serene, modest hotel in Northern California set around a quiet ivy-lined creek, towering old tress and a lush green courtyard, that I, John's long-time Voters Unite co-founder Ellen Theisen and a small number of other dedicated folks from the Election Integrity movement in this country (shown here), crafted a deceptively simple mission statement of sorts, which we vowed to use as a yardstick for any and all future election reform initiatives. We came to call it The Creekside Declaration:

"Mission: To encourage citizen ownership
of transparent, participatory democracy."

- Creekside Declaration, 3/22/08

While John was not there in person, he certainly was in spirit. After hearing of the declaration, he began using the short statement of principle as his email signature line right up until his sudden passing one year ago today. He is here again, in both spirit and my heart, at the Creekside Inn today. That mission now continues in his honor.

His loss to us at the blog, in the EI movement, and to voters across the country cannot be adequately or fully described --- at least not by this writer.

And so, for whatever reason, one that I certainly couldn't even guess at right now, fate has returned me here today --- just the second time I have ever been here.

Well, may be I can take a guess. Perhaps it's John's handiwork somehow, trying to mess with my head, force me to remember how much I miss him on this day --- not that I need any such reminders on any day --- so that he can laugh and laugh and laugh about it all at my expense from the after life. If so, glad I could bring my old friend, confidante, partner and hero one last hearty chuckle.

So...

Has anybody here seen my old friend John?
Can you tell me where he's gone?
He freed a lot of people, but it seems the good they die young.
I just looked around and he was gone...