San Diego Review June 1, 1995
Flushing and stepping in it
more of the story of Ed Koupal, People’s Lobby founder
by Dwayne Hunn
By the early 60’s the standout young kid who grew into an exceptional jazz musician was now a super used car sales manager with a posh suburban home. Comfortable and non-voting, he epitomized the “silent majority.” Then Ed flushed once too often.
Hearing some gurgling sounds and sniffing some pungent odors from his subdivision’s bowel movements, Ed got his political feet wet and dirty in sewer agency politics when he learned that some sweet smelling home owners in his subdivisions were not paying there fees. He also learned that a related economic beneficiary was an industry player who helped supply the nation’s lifeblood — Sunset Oil.
Sunset Oil wanted to develop nearby Whitney Ranch in Rockland. The company conveniently proposed, with the assistance of a bill proposed by Senator Lunardi, that a district be created within a district — which the taxpayers of Placer County would have to support. Users of this district would get a lot more than just free sewer usage. To Ed and his neighbors this seemed like another scam and their group, the Tommy Knockers — named after Irish elves who warned miners of impending shaft dangers, brought a $26 million suit to plug the shaft.
After tasting the sewage of politics, Ed rolled out of the silent majority’s bed. His senses would never be the same. His subsequent political acts proved that.
What sensible politician neophyte would respond to little old ladies asking him to get rid of newly-elected Governor Reagan in the mid 60’s? So what if the ladies complaints centered around Reagan’s proposed elimination of 3,700 jobs at hospitals, elimination of fourteen state outpatient clinics, and the assumption of community mental health care by county centers and similar cuts in welfare and educating programs? What could a used car salesman, a voting neophyte, do to the handsome governor of America’s most powerful state?
Well, as practical wife Joyce pointed out, when about half the people get upset with someone — something can be done. Around that dissatisfaction level, which L4 Times editorials helped build, Tommy Knockers Ed, Joyce and Cannonball Berg visited with Nancy Paar in San Francisco, who had once tried to recall Reagan. After disagreeing as to whether a Recall Reagan campaign should be run from San Francisco or Los Angeles, the Tommy Knocker contingent split for where the smoggy numbers lived — to recall a cinematic charismatic connected governor.
The Koupals left a comfortable lifestyle. Their kids would never again have the traditional family outings or closeness. Politics without the perks inundated their lives — crusading on a shoestring budget became their livelihood.
From a group of youthful political idealists, they grew a shrewd, street-savvy staff. From the open-minded of California, they grew a national client base of initiative producers. To the likes of Ralph Nader and Jerry Brown, they taught political karate that Harvard, Yale, seminaries, Zen and good government groups hadn’t even envisioned.