Can’t Recall Government?

San Diego Review August 1, 1995

Can’t Recall the Government?

Then Let’s Recall the Smog!

by Dwayne Hunn

 In the summer of 1968 Edwin and Joyce Koupal were immersed in gathering signatures to recall Governor Reagan, which included the complex, time-consuming re­quirement of matching the gathered signatures with names and precincts. (Thanks partially to the later efforts of People’s Lobby, that laborious cross filing process is no longer required.)

In that same summer Ronald Reagan threw his hat into the presi­dential ring, which pit the rookie, charismatic, right-hook develop­ing governor of the nation’s most productive state against the come­back, cagey and savvy. inside-the-ropes conniver, Tricky Dick Nixon. The last thing not-yet Teflon-protected Governor Reagan needed as he stepped in­side the presidential ropes, was a successful recall campaign mounted by a 41-year old high school drop-out and political nov­ice, who had just registered to vote.

Cannon Ball Berg, Ed’s side­kick, recalls the August 1968 day when they delivered the recall sig­natures to the Secretary of State’s office just before the 5:00 p.m. closing time. To this day, Canon Ball Berg remains amazed at the counting efficiency of the Secre­tary of State’s office in that pre-computer age.

At signature filling time, Governor Reagan was in Florida at the Republican National Presidential Nominating Convention. By 10:00 p.m. Florida time (7:00 p.m. Califor­nia time), Gov. Reagan announced the recall effort had gathered only 550,000 of the required 700,000 sig­natures needed for the ballot.

Well, the former used car sales­man had taken his jazz man antics into big time politics and failed. That, however, didn’t cause him to pack up the band and find a real job. Instead, the recall campaign, which the Koupals had based in Los Angeles, where the people were exposed to the wretched air. And Edwin Koupal, the kid who probably left for the mer­chant marines before he took a high school civics class, pinned the blame for the putrid, smog filled air on — the politicians.

The Koupals began learning about smog from a mostly silver-haired led group called Stamp Out Smog. Soon they became leaders and soon formed their own group— People’s Lobby.

If you think low-lead gas, nuclear power plant construction moratori­ums, banning DDT usage, and lowered sulfide oxide emissions from diesel fuel are beneficial envi­ronmental developments — then read some of the upcoming columns. The Koupals and People’s Lobby may have done more than any other individuals and organization to move California and the nation into embracing those changes.

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