Tag Archives: People’s Lobby

Push Russia

How  to push Russia…

Recently National Public Radio commented that congressional candidates were debating about whether to campaign on the issues surrounding “Russia” in their upcoming elections

Why not “leapfrog” the typical Russian issues and press Russia, the U.S., and the world to do what world affairs and an angry Mother Nature is inconveniently demanding we do — dramatically expand our peaceful national service programs,  like Peace Corps, AmeriCorps, Habitat, Doctors Without Borders, Head Start, Mercy Corps, Oxfam, Americans Friends Service Committee, TechnoServe, Heifer, Red Cross, International Rescue Committee, State Conservation Corps, In-Need Schools, Hospitals Therapy Wards, Homes For The Elderly, etc.?

Then challenge Russia to create their own “Russian Peace Corps.”

In front of the world, urge Russia and the US to serve together doing Joint Peace Corps projects throughout the world, especially in those parts of the world where our sabers rattle too closely to theirs. Think Russian-US peaceful cooperation unlikely?  Look at our Space Station work.

We were once close to implementing a joint U.S.-Russian Peace Corps.  Let the visionary in Congress reintroduce an updated version of visionary  Congresswoman Boxer’s HR1807 of 1989.

John Kennedy would smile on those with the vision and insight to challenge the Russians to join us in peaceful development endeavors.  In addition, it would do wonders for improving our politics, public policy IQ, and standing in the world, while avoiding trillions of warfare dollars over the decades.

This wise talk about Russia would be a smart addition to any congressional campaign.








Or this?

Nader on Koupals’ PLI

At the five day Hastings Law School 2010 Global Forum on Modern Direct Democracy‘s July 31, 2010 evening reception, Ralph Nader was the featured speaker.  The last question Ralph answered during the Citizens in Charge reception before saying goodnight was:

“In the 70s, you referred to People’s Lobby as the best grassroots organization in the nation.    Why did you say that and what ingredients do you believe People’s Lobby had that may be needed or missing today?”

Ralph then spent several minutes giving glowing tribute to Edwin and Joyce Koupal’s People’s Lobby.  Paraphrasing Ralph, he said …

“People’s Lobby was the most powerful social organizing movement I have seen post World War II…

“The Koupal’s People’s Lobby could organize an initiative almost at will…

“They were opening the Colorado office to push their national initiative idea…

“At this Global Conference on Direct Democracy, you should be studying their little blue book (Ordinary People Doing the Extraordinary by Dwayne Hunn and Doris Ober) and committing the details of that book to your efforts…”

Unfortunately,video tape ran out just prior to Ralph’s tribute to two giants.


Obama’s ’08 support letter

Barack Obama

October 9, 2007

Dwayne Hunn

People’s Lobby Inc.

363 Jean Street

Mill Valley, CA 94941

Dear Dwayne,

Thank you very much for sharing your materials about the American World Service Corps.  Active efforts like yours make this journey worthwhile. I hope you will continue to follow our campaign for change. If you want to get involved right away, visit My.BarackObama.com and register for events in your area.

obama08 symbol sincerely-barackobama

Obama for America  * PO Row 8210  * Chicago, IL  60680 *  BarackObama.com






How to prepare for disasters

Marin Independent Journal                             

MARIN VOICE                                September 23, 2005

Dwayne Hunn

Another Katrina will happen.  Another earthquake will.  With Mother Nature stuff happens, and you can’t always avoid it.  However, you can competently and humanely temper its aftermath.

Another Iraq and Vietnam may happen.  Another extremist act may.  With politics and policies, stuff happens.  However, you can avoid a lot of stupid policies from becoming bloody economic disasters.

Ø      How?  By making Americans and the world smarter.

Ø      How do we do that?  Give Americans a visionary program in which a significant number serve, share, understand, learn, and teach their young.  From that, America grows a super majority of smarter citizens.  That super majority then votes America away from stupid, costly mistakes that cost us dearly in blood and economy.

Ø      What is that vision?  It’s the citizen-initiated World Service Corps proposed in Congress.

If passed in Congress this year, the proposed laws would annually ramp up America’s best resource until by the sixth year one million Americans, or .6 of 1% of those aged 20 – 60-plus, would voluntarily serve in their choice of the Peace Corps, AmeriCorps, Habitat for Humanity, Head Start, Doctors Without Borders, Red Cross, International Rescue Committee, OxFam, State Conservation Corps, etc.

Why would Americans volunteer to do the WSC?  Because Americans enjoy serving, like playing on great teams, and prefer building over wrecking.  In addition, the proposed legislation would offer simple, cost effective federal financial incentives to volunteers.

Upon completing service, WSC members would receive two years of community plus two years of state college tuition, equivalent educational loan pay off, or equivalent investment in Medical or IRA Accounts, which would be transferable to family relatives.  This updated mini GI Educational Bill of Rights gives the do-good governmental and non-governmental organizations the mix of enthusiastic, experienced, can-do Americans, aged 18 – 60+, who make the world safer and better.

In less dangerous and testing times, John Kennedy wanted the Peace Corps to put a million PCVs into the world.  Then, he felt, it would become a significant force bettering the world and America.  Today, one ofAmerica’s best and most cost effective programs has only about 177,000 returning Peace Corps volunteers.  The World Service Corps proposals legislate a million of our most cost effective resources into dealing with and learning from world and domestic problems.  It does so at a total (stipend plus incentives) annual cost less than 1/10th what it costs to maintain each of our military personnel, which is soaring past $500,000 each when supplemental and off-budget costs are added.  What a huge, long run cost and blood savings bargain.

Sure, a million WSC members physically improve the world.  They do so by working shoulder-to-shoulder with the world that wants to idolize them.  Perhaps more importantly, they enlighten the world’s superpower, whose steps can improve or destroy chunks of the world, by directly exposing Americans to global village needs.

Only about 15% of Americans take out passports.  Many of them have corporate or Club Med world experiences.  The WSC exposes more Americans to the classroom of world needs, so that their voting decisions are based on real life experiences, rather than on forgettable TV designed for couch potatoes.

The WSC raises America’s political and policymaking IQ.  That, then, keeps American voters from stumbling into shortsighted, costly, or bloody policies that we could avoid by pursuing visionary, practical, cost-effective policies.

Imagine, if the WSC had been running for years.  Its incentives would have inspired more states to start Conservation Corps.  The day Katrina struck thousands of those new and expanded state Conservation Corps, plus thousands of Red Cross, Americorps, Habitat, Doctors Sans Borders, International Rescue Committee, etc., volunteers would have been moving into Mississippi and Louisiana, with or without a Federal Emergency Management Agency passport.

We need peaceful, productive Special Forces to handle today’s special needs, as well as to reduce terrorist recruitment.

The World Service Corps www.worldservicecorps.us needs your local and national support.  Before the next hurricane or earthquake, before the next terrorist act, citizens need to enlighten local, state, and federal politicians, so they will enact the WSC legislation to send a million can-do Americans into our and the world’s classroom of needs.


Dwayne Hunn of Mill Valley is executive director of People’s Lobby and sponsor of the World Service Corps proposals.  He served in the Peace Corps.

Response to Denver Post

Response to Denver Post March 26, 2000 column by Bill McAllister

Broder:  Initiative process bypasses Constitution

From Dwayne Hunn  4-28-00

Sent letter/guest opinion response:

California, like Colorado, has seen much of its significant legislation crafted through the direct democracy hands of “The people.”  In Bill McAllister’s March 26 column “Broder:  Initiative process bypasses Constitution,” McAllister points out that author and columnist David Broder “trashes the initiative process as practiced in Colorado and especially California.”  Broder refers to the initiative as “a radical departure from the Constitution’s system of checks and balances” and laments that it has become a playground of special interests.

I expect Broder has not been a ‘man of the streets, a working-Joe Sixpack’ for a long time.  If he were, he might learn that for the involved-Joe the initiative is one of the nation’s most important checks and balances.  For Broder, whose profession introduces him to corporate execs and politicians, the initiative process form of law making may seem too rambunctious compared to those laws formed in committee rooms along lobbyist trodden marbled hallways.  Broder recognizes and fears “special interest money” in initiative campaigns, does he recognize and fear it along marbled halls?

In 1974 Californians, thanks to the leadership of Peoples Lobby, passed what was among the toughest campaign reform law in the nation and established the Fair Political Practices Commission.   Politicians wouldn’t reform so a band of volunteers, joined by Common Cause and gubernatorial candidate Jerry Brown, did it to them.  In 1978, after 16 years of low-budget trying, Howard Jarvis, who like hundreds of other groups over the years attended People’s Lobby’s initiative training sessions, convinced Californians to pass Proposition 13, which he described as the second American Tax Revolt.

Yes, Broder is right.  Today it is harder to find volunteer driven initiative campaigns.  Now professional initiative factories charge $1.00 + per signature and retain PR firms producing “slick television campaigns” that Broder fears.  Haven’t candidates, political action committees and corporations “slick campaigning”  us for decades?   Where in America’s political world does money not play a big and bigger role every year?   If money were a reason to cut down the initiative process then we should have buzz sawed most of our groveling-for-campaign-contribution representatives long ago.

The initiative process has often been the involved voters’ last check and balance to peacefully accomplish “significant” changes in the political process.  Even responses like this may not be printed in our check and balancing large papers because — why?  Maybe because they are owned by corporate, increasingly linked special interests who prefer the tidy view of Broder’s concept of representative government unhindered by direct democracy pressures from the people.

In the 70’s a few involved citizens warned  our leaders against building a reliance on nuclear power.  Moneyed interests trotted out experts to lecture the people on how little they knew and how it was best to leave these decisions to well educated representatives in Washington.  In 1976 Ralph Nader urged People’s Lobby to spearhead the 16 state Western Bloc Nuclear Moratorium initiative campaigns.  Those volunteer, activists-lead campaigns lost to much better financed special interest campaigns but, in defeat, Americans learned more than their representative form of government had told them about nuclear power.  From 1978 no new nuclear construction license permits were issued through October 1999.   Would such have happened as quickly without the initiative process?  Would the controlling railroad interests in California’s legislature have been driven out without Governor Hiram Johnson giving Californians the tools of Direct Democracy in 1911?  NO!

Broder pans Philadelphia II’s national initiative proposal as “ a system that promises laws without government.”  Yet it does not replace representative government.   The proposed national initiative process relies on debate, discussion, time and the votes of the people.   It is not “instant gratification,” as Broder portrays.

Our Constitutional powers emanated from the people.  So why shouldn’t Broder support giving the people another tool of democracy?  Americans have always been good at using tools to tinker and improve life.  So why not look at Philadelphia II’s Direct Democracy proposal as another tool that we can fashion to make the nation better?  http://peopleslobby.tripod.com/dirdeminit.htm

 “Final responsibility rests with the people.    Therefore never is final authority delegated. “

People’s Lobby’s motto has applied to Americans since our Constitution and applies here.

Dwayne Hunn, Phd., worked as a volunteer for People’s Lobby and is presently a board member.  Philadelphia II’s Direct Democracy Initiative can be reached at www.peopleslobby.us
From: Dwayne Hunn

To: Letters to Editor, letters@denverpost.com and bmcallister@denverpost.com


Response to Broder’s “Snake…”

Response to David Broder’s:   Dangerous Initiatives: A Snake in the Grass Roots,  April 27,  2000

David Broder’s “Dangerous Initiatives: A Snake in the Grassroots” implies his disdain for state initiatives and the budding national initiative process movement, dubbed Philadelphia II. Broder has concluded that if a national initiative process were established 1) money, 2) whimsical political urges and the 3) complexity of law making would subject Americans to “a system without government.”

  1. Money. Over the last century we accepted the definition of corporations as people and political expenditures as free speech (Buckley v Valeo 1976). Consequently, money will continue buying power and planting perceptions in every venue of life.  Hopefully, the nation will build on the majority opinion expressed below from the Nixon v. Shrink Missouri PAC (Supreme Court 1/24/2000) and soon take a few more steps toward controlling today’s excessive campaign expenditures:

“To the extent that large contributions are given to secure a political quid pro quo from current and potential office holders, the integrity of our system of representative democracy is undermined….

“Of almost equal concern as the danger of actual quid pro quo arrangements is the impact of the appearance of corruption stemming from public awareness of the opportunities for abuse inherent in a regime of large individual financial contributions…

“Congress could legitimately conclude that the avoidance of the appearance of improper influence ‘is also critical … if confidence in the system of representative Government is not to be eroded to a disastrous extent.’ ”

Such Court decisions will help Philadelphia II’s proposed National Direct Democracy Initiative process restore some integrity to campaigning, since its Section M proposes:

“It is the intent of this law that only persons are entitled to contribute funds or property in support of, or in opposition to, an initiative.  Contributions from corporations, industry groups, labor unions, political action committees (PACs), and associations are specifically prohibited.” (http://peopleslobby.tripod.com/dirdeminit.htm)

Laws, however, are not a cure-all.  Money will always find a means to influence laws, parties, representatives, perceptions — and initiatives.  Where does money not influence our lives?  The initiative process, however, is designed for “We the people..,” which means it offers itself for the moneyed as well as for the blue-jeaned activists.

In 1972 California People’s Lobby with $9,000 and about 50 dedicated volunteers qualified the Clean Environment Initiative, which then served as a precursor to the nuclear moratorium movement.  In 1974 it led the triumvirate of Common Cause and gubernatorial candidate Jerry Brown to gain a 70% vote for the Political Reform Act, which enacted the nation’s toughest campaign reform laws and established California’s Fair Political Practices Commission.  In 1976, urged on by Ralph Nader, it spearheaded the 16 states Western Bloc Nuclear Moratorium campaign.  The Western Bloc campaign is the closest this nation has come to a national initiative campaign.   Although over the next half dozen years all the initiatives lost to much better-financed corporate campaigns, Americans learned about nuclear power so that after 1978 no new nuclear construction license permits were issued through October 1999.  In 1977 Peoples Lobby assembled the 1977 Senate Judiciary Hearings on its proposed National Initiative process.  Those substantial political impacts were achieved using initiative tools under the leadership of an ex-used car dealer and his wife and volunteers who ate a lot of peanut butter sandwiches and boiled potatoes.

If real or perceived influence-buying money were a reason to do away with the initiative process, then we should have axed an astronomical percentage of our lawmakers long ago.  The way one controls money, connections, power – all those sometimes-corrupting influences – is the same way democracy grows in emerging nations.  You grow it by giving people empowering tools.  You give the people more and better teachers, schools, journalists, newspapers, and electoral opportunities and responsibilities.   The result is not just more jobs, health and wealth but a smarter populace whose constantly improving critical and analytical thinking skills insures the nation’s continued economic growth and good health.

  1. Whimsical American voters? In the 24 states that have the initiative process thousands of initiatives failed to get enough voters’ signatures to even make it to the ballot. From 1898-1998 those states saw 1,902 make it onto the ballot.  Of those, the people chose to pass 787 of them, or 41%.  In debating, learning and voting on those issues, citizens expressed their constitutionally guaranteed right to peacefully endorse or change facets of their governance.  The arduous initiative process and electoral debate guaranteed that their decisions were not whimsical.  In the process, involved Americans learned not only about their government but how they, the people, can change it with their own hands — just as their forefathers did.  And they can do it without throwing stuff in the streets or blowing up buildings.
  2. Too complex?  Probably 500,000 pages of legislation pass every session of Congress.  They are loop holed and pork barreled.  Congressional representatives are so busy going to meetings, hearings, lobbyists’ parties, addressing constituents petty and real concerns that they spend a lot less time studying the laws they pass and their effects than does the average initiative voter.    It’s a good bet average voters have as much or more common sense to dissect complexities as many of those being paid to represent them.

“At the Constitutional Convention in 1787, no voice was raised in support of direct democracy,” Broder has claimed.  Wait a minute!    Has Mr. Broder missed the point of that unconventional meeting?  Weren’t we then stuck under a government that was powerful, moneyed, whimsically taxing, and whose laws, to our simple forefathers, were complex?  Our forefathers didn’t have any legal authority to call a meeting and set up a government, did they?  Nonetheless, they unconventionally met and pulled together some primary principles that defined who they, and thank God, we, would be. In the course of spirited discussions, they fashioned principles around words such as: “We the people empower those to direct our affairs. We the people can dispose of those who wrongly employ that power.  Therefore, we the people can do anything in between employing and dethroning.  Furthermore, we the people don’t believe that because you wear fine clothes, have money, power, influence and say you are smarter than we are that you can run our lives better than we can ourselves.”

Mr. Broder, our forefathers used their initiative based on these first principles to directly democratize our Constitution that stands today.  By doing so they supported and lived “direct democracy.”  They supported it so deeply they put their lives on the line to pass it  to us.  As Founding Father Madison said, “The people” have the power to “just do it!”  We, “The people,” retain that power today – with or without spiffy athletic shoes.

Our People’s Lobby logo restates what has kept America’s democracy great, “Final responsibility rests with the people. Therefore, never is final authority delegated.”   Therefore one shouldn’t weaken the initiative process but consider well-reasoned approaches to spreading such an empowering tool to all Americans.  Americans like building a better mousetrap.  Give them the tools and additional responsibilities and they tinker and improve things. By plugging an educated and technologically attuned peoples’ direct democracy tool into our representative powered political grid, we strengthen our nation’s grass roots.

Dwayne Hunn, Phd., worked as a volunteer for People’s Lobby and is presently a board member.  Philadelphia II’s Direct Democracy Initiative can be reached at www.peopleslobby.net

To: letterstoed@washpost.com

From: Dwayne Hunn

Dangerous Initiatives: A Snake in the Grass Roots

By David S. Broder    Sunday, March 26, 2000; Washington Post

An alternative form of government—the ballot initiative—is spreading in the United States. Despite its popular appeal and reformist roots, this method of lawmaking is alien to the spirit of the Constitution and its carefully crafted set of checks and balances. Left unchecked, the initiative could challenge or even subvert the system that has served the nation so well for more than 200 years.

Though derived from a century-old idea favored by the Populist and Progressive movements as a weapon against special-interest influence, the initiative has become a favored tool of interest groups and millionaires with their own political and personal agendas. These players—often not even residents of the states whose laws and constitutions they seek to rewrite—have learned that the initiative is a more efficient way of achieving their ends than the cumbersome and often time-consuming process of supporting candidates for public office and then lobbying them to pass legislation.

In hundreds of municipalities and half the states—particularly in the West—the initiative has become a rival force to City Hall and the State House. (The District of Columbia allows voters to enact laws by initiative, but the states of Maryland and Virginia do not.) In a single year, 1998, voters across the country bypassed their elected representatives to end affirmative action, raise the minimum wage, ban billboards, permit patients to obtain prescriptions for marijuana, restrict campaign spending and contributions, expand casino gambling, outlaw many forms of hunting, prohibit some abortions and allow adopted children to obtain the names of their biological parents. Of 66 statewide initiatives that year, 39 became law. Simply put, the initiative’s growing popularity has given us something that once seemed unthinkable—not a government of laws, but laws without government.

This new fondness for the initiative—at least in the portion of the country where it has become part of the political fabric—is itself evidence of the increasing alienation of Americans from our system of representative government. Americans have always had a healthy skepticism about the people in public office: The writers of the Constitution began with the assumption that power is a dangerous intoxicant and that those who wield it must be checked by clear delineation of their authority.

But what we have today goes well beyond skepticism. In nearly every state I visited while researching this phenomenon, the initiative was viewed as sacrosanct, and the legislature was held in disrepute. One expression of that disdain is the term-limits movement, which swept the country in the past two decades, usually by the mechanism of initiative campaigns.

It is the clearest expression of the revolt against representative government. In effect, it is a command: “Clear out of there, you bums. None of you is worth saving. We’ll take over the job of writing the laws ourselves.” But who is the “we”? Based on my reporting, it is clear that the initiative process has largely discarded its grass-roots origins. It is no longer merely the province of idealistic volunteers who gather signatures to place legislation of their own devising on the ballot. Billionaire Paul Allen, co-founder of Microsoft, spent more than $8 million in support of a referendum on a new football stadium for the Seattle Seahawks. Allen, who was negotiating to buy the team, even paid the $4 million cost of running the June 1997 special election—in which Washington state voters narrowly agreed to provide public financing for part of the $425 million stadium bill.

Like so many other aspects of American politics, the initiative process has become big business. Lawyers, campaign consultants and signature-gathering firms see each election cycle as an opportunity to make money on initiatives that, in many cases, only a handful of people are pushing.  Records from the 1998 election cycle—not even one of the busiest in recent years—show that more than $250 million was raised and spent in this largely uncontrolled and unexamined arena of politics.

This is a far cry from the dream of direct democracy cherished by the 19th-century reformers who imported the initiative concept from Switzerland in the hope that it might cleanse the corrupt politics of their day. They would be the first to throw up their hands in disgust at what their noble experiment has produced.

The founders of the American republic were almost as distrustful of pure democracy as they were resentful of royal decrees. Direct democracy might work in a small, compact society, they argued, but it would be impractical in a nation the size of the United States. At the Constitutional Convention in 1787, no voice was raised in support of direct democracy.

A century later, with the rise of industrial America and rampant corruption in the nation’s legislatures, political reformers began to question the work of the founders. Largely rural protest groups from the Midwest, South and West came together at the first convention of the Populist Party, in Omaha in 1892. The Populists denounced both Republicans and Democrats as corrupt accomplices of the railroad barons, the banks that set ruinous interest rates, and the industrial magnates and monopolists who profited from the labor of others while paying meager wages.

Both the Populists and Progressives—a middle-class reform movement bent on rooting out dishonesty in government—saw the initiative process as a salve for the body politic’s wounds. An influential pamphlet, “Direct Legislation by the Citizenship through the Initiative and Referendum,” appeared in 1893. In it, J.W. Sullivan argued that as citizens took on the responsibility of writing the laws themselves, “each would consequently acquire education in his role and develop a lively interest in the public affairs in part under his own management.”

Into this feisty mix of reformers came William Simon U’Ren, a central figure in the history of the American initiative process. In the 1880s, U’Ren apprenticed himself to a lawyer in Denver and became active in politics. He later told Lincoln Steffens, the muckraking journalist, that he was appalled when the Republican bosses of Denver gave him what we would now call “street money” to buy votes.  In the 1890s, having moved to Oregon in search of a healthier climate, U’Ren helped form the Direct Legislation League. He launched a propaganda campaign, distributing almost half a million pamphlets and hundreds of copies of Sullivan’s book in support of a constitutional convention that would enshrine initiative and referendum in Oregon’s charter. The proposal failed narrowly in the 1895 session of the legislature, in part because the Portland Oregonian labeled it “one of the craziest of all the crazy fads of Populism” and “a theory of fiddlesticks borrowed from a petty foreign state.”

Eventually, U’Ren lined up enough support for a constitutional amendment to pass easily in 1899. It received the required second endorsement from the legislature two years later, with only one dissenting vote. The voters overwhelmingly ratified the amendment in 1902 and it withstood a legal challenge that went all the way to the Supreme Court.

U’Ren’s handiwork is evident today in his adopted state. The official voters’ pamphlet for the 1996 Oregon ballot—containing explanations for 16 citizen-sponsored initiatives and six others referred by the legislature—ran 248 pages.

It also included paid ads from supporters and opponents.

Money does not always prevail in modern-day initiative fights, but it is almost always a major—even a dominant—factor. In the fall of 1997, more than 200 petitions were circulating for statewide initiatives that sponsors hoped to place on ballots the following year. The vast majority did not make it. The single obstacle that eliminated most of them was the ready cash needed to hire the companies that wage initiative campaigns. In 1998, the most expensive initiative campaign was the battle over a measure legalizing casino-style gambling on Indian lands in California. The Nevada casinos, fearful of the competition, shelled out $25,756,828 trying  to defeat the proposition. The tribes outdid them, spending $66,257,088 to win. The $92 million total was a new record for California.

But of all the ventures into initiative politics that year, perhaps the most successful was engineered by three wealthy men who shared the conviction that the federal “war on drugs” was a dreadful mistake. They banded together to support medical marijuana initiatives in five Western states. The best known of them was billionaire financier George Soros of New York, who had made his fortune in currency trading. He and his political partners—Phoenix businessman John Sperling and Cleveland businessman Peter B. Lewis—personally contributed more than 75 percent of the $1.5 million spent on behalf of a successful medical marijuana initiative in just one of the states, Arizona. The issue isn’t whether medical marijuana laws are good or bad. As Arizona state Rep. Mike Gardner complained to me, “The initiative was part of our constitution when we became a state, because it was supposed to offer people a way of overriding special interest groups. But it’s turned 180 degrees, and now the special interest groups use the initiative for their own purposes. Why should a New York millionaire be writing the laws of Arizona?”

When I relayed Gardner’s question to Soros, he replied: “I live in one place, but I consider myself a citizen of the world. I have foundations in 30 countries, and I believe certain universal principles apply everywhere—including Arizona.”

It won’t be long before the twin forces of technology and public opinion coalesce in a political movement for a national initiative—allowing the public to substitute the simplicity of majority rule for what must seem to many Americans the arcane, out-of-date model of the Constitution. In fact, such a debate is already underway, based on what I heard at a May 1999 forum sponsored by the Initiative and Referendum Institute here in Washington.

  1. Dane Waters, the institute’s president, cut his political teeth on the term-limits movement, and the group’s membership includes firms in the initiative industry. But Waters strove to keep the forum intellectually honest, inviting critics as well as supporters of the initiative process. There was no doubt about the leanings of most of those in attendance. The keynote speaker was Kirk Fordice, then governor of Mississippi, who was cheered when he saluted the audience as “the greatest collection of mavericks in the world. The goal that unites us is to return a portion of the considerable power of government to individual citizens . . . and take control from the hands of professional politicians and bureaucrats.” Fordice, a Republican, noted that his state was the most recent to adopt the initiative, in 1992. Since then, he lamented, “only one initiative has made it onto the ballot,” a term-limits measure that voters rejected.“Thank God for California and those raggedy-looking California kids who came in and gathered the signatures,” he said. “Now the [Mississippi] legislature is trying to say we can’t have them come in, and we’re taking it to court.”

Then came Mike Gravel, former Democratic senator from Alaska and head of an organization called Philadelphia II, which calls for essentially creating a new Constitution based on direct democracy. Gravel’s plan—simplicity itself—is to take a national poll, and if 50 percent of the people want to vote on an issue, it goes on the next general election ballot. Then Congress would have to hold hearings on the issue and mark up a bill for submission to the voters. Once an issue gets on the ballot, only individuals could contribute to the campaign for passing or defeating it.  When I began researching the initiative process, I was agnostic about it.  But now that I’ve heard the arguments and seen the initiative industry in action, the choice is easy. I would choose James Madison and the Constitution’s checks and balances over the seductive simplicity of Gravel’s up-or-down initiative vote. We should be able to learn from experience, and our experience with direct democracy during the last two decades is that wealthy individuals and special interests—the very targets of the Populists and Progressives a century ago—have learned all too well how to subvert the initiative process to their own purposes. Admittedly, representative government has acquired a dubious reputation today. But as citizens, the remedy isn’t to avoid our elected representatives. The best weapon against the ineffective, the weak and the corrupt is in our hands each Election Day.

Ben White, The Post’s political researcher, assisted David Broder in the research for his book on the initiative process.

David Broder is The Washington Post’s senior political writer. This article is adapted from his new book, “Democracy Derailed: Initiative Campaigns and the Power of Money” (Harcourt).


A U.S. initiative can give us more clout

Published in Marin Independent Journal, Sunday, January 24, 1999A

U.S. initiative can give us more clout


INCESSANTLY, CONGRESSIONAL phones rang, faxes and e-mails flew. Americans thun­dered not over a maiming Asian war, all illegally conducted Central American war, or political party robbery and cover-up.

Nope, America responded to a soap opera splitting the G-string over the dictionary definition of’ “sexual relations.”A zealous attack on a handful of sexual foreplays inspired most experienced Americans to say, “Let it lie.”

That, however, didn’t stop a constitutional crisis over our representatives’ understand­ing of  “’high crimes and misde­meanors.”Explicitly revealing the sex lives of public figures has, howev­er, advanced sex education well beyond the doll-faced Ken and Barbie level.

Politics makes strange bedfellows. Supporters of a bifocaled and grown Ken named Starr have long opposed sex edu­cation in schools, yet they stand erectly by their man as he unzips what amounts to a $50 million sex cur­riculum that wows kids.

The thunderous debate should:

¨        Remind most Americans that common sense is not a prerequisite for holding office.

¨        Continue chipping away at the respect held for officeholders.

¨        Prepare America for a more European sexual at-tirade or a McCarthyist excursion into the personal lives of at least public officials.

¨        Make Americans wonder — if polls and communiques are ineffective in influencing our representa­tives: What additional tool will America need to make government more responsive?

With CNN, 24-hour radio and television news and talk shows, online interactive news, chat rooms, e-mail discourses, downloading government and ex­pert reports, instant books, sophisticated surveys, hard and electronic newspapers and magazines, Americans can validly wonder if today’s concerned and involved citizen can be more aware of issues than many elected representatives are.

Can it be that since our representatives’ work (talking to each other in endless committees and to their special-interest funders) deprives them of viewing TV soap operas, they now strain to create their own titillating soap rather than address the public’s needs?

A KGO radio talk-show caller recently said,  “Let’s recall these representatives who are so intent on im­peachment when we, the people, don’t want them doing that.”

The host replied that he didn’t think recalling U.S. representatives is possible. He is right. The people have the right to recall, referendum and initiative in about half the states including California, but not on the national level.

Perhaps this whole unbuyable soap-opera script will move the country closer to enacting a National Initiative, Referendum and Recall. If Congress feels that Social Security, health care, banking and educational reform, homelessness, poverty, food stamps, toxic cleanup, space exploration, balanced budgets, tax reform, fair trade, trade imbalances, jobs, drugs, crimes, merger mania, terrorism, weapons of mass destruction, Russia’s plutonium stockpile, national and world economy, foreign aid, improvement of air, water and food quality, military budgeting and enhancements are not as important as arguing over a dismissed case of alleged ‘sex-harassment and a definition of sex, then perhaps Americans ought to add more legislative options to their firsthand powers.

In an age when technology has put more Options in people’s laps and laptops — from buying to investing in education — perhaps it’s time to do the same with our democratic government.

Would putting the tools of national initiative, referendum and recall in the hands of citizens across the country do more to raise the IQ level of our nation and its elected representatives?

Such a debate may find support from both sides of the impeachment aisle. For those who think Con­gress can’t think straight, a U.S. Initiative, Referendum and Recall offers representative government yet another tool to increase its responsiveness.

For those fundamentalists who want to purify America’s sexy and lying ways, it offers a mechanism whereby dedication, hard work and their national organization can produce initiatives, recalls and referenda that further their own agenda.

Dwayne Hunn, who lives in Mill Valley, works with and sits on the boards of People’s Lobby, dedicated to educating citizens on initiative, political and economic issues, and of Philadelphia II, dedicated to implementing the U.S. Initiative.

Big Green must see big picture

Marin Independent Journal   Wednesday, May 10, 1995



 T 00 MUCH GREEN power? No, not enough true green power.

Most people don’t have time to become knowledgeable about environmental issues. They let only a few set the agenda for, and define, green power. They live in communities where they have little control over design. From the immigrant era through the Depression, when financial power and resources seemed limited, many designs gave us neighborhoods where amenities were within walking distance and neighbors lent eggs over fences.

Then came a war. Winning, we found we bad plenty of re­sources. We designed our living spaces accordingly, around the car, isolated from vibrant com­munity interaction.

Today, we import about half our oil, and a slug of our nation­al debt lies ignored in that bill. Today, the middle class seems to be shrinking and the poor growing. Consequently, the economics of greenback and people power is striking back at green leaf and mouse power.

If Marin and its 88-percent protected space are a microcosm of superbly organized Green Power, then Marin shares in provoking attacks that true envi­ronmentalists are about to suffer. Consistently, Marin’s established environmental movement has deft­ly used its network and media access to foist ruses involving density, traffic, open space, view corridor and neighborhood character to block the following:

  • Housing developments that would provide a fair number of moderately priced residential units and instead forced the building of a few pricey, ex­clusive units.
  • Healthy pedestrian-pocket communities near rail lines that enhance the economic viability of returning to environmentally sensitive trains and provide almost enough high-quality, affordable condos ~and townhouses to finally put two Marin cities in compliance with state housing laws.

Is that healthy Green Power? If Marin ‘a environ­mental power structure does not show opposition from the get-go, it bides its time with delays, calls for studies, etc., with no concern for the developer’s land, staffing costs or needs of the long-distance commuting middle class. Too often the developer,

trusting the faith of environmental­ists, believes he has addressed their concerns, only to rind that a last-minute attack leaves bun broke, exhausted or ready to accept whatever the supposed environmental group will allow.

What’s allowed seems good in the short run for the island of Marin, but in the long run it harms re­gional and global environmental and economic needs. Marin’s Green Power needs more true envi­ronmentalists such as the Greenbelt Alliance, which looks at the larger picture.

Marin’s environmental power structure sees little reason to work with businesses, councils and devel­opers toward a win-win solution that benefits mice, people, economics and the environment. Suppose a. developer took a large low-land parcel, proposed en­hancing a mouse habitat around an existing pond and then proposed a mixed-use development that provided affordable housing, a tax base, park, open space and view.

What would likely happen? The power elite, in­stead of working with the developer for the best regional win-win possible, would probably demand, “Since this was wetland 60 years ago, it should be returned to such today!”

Ah, for the way things were before we had 250 million Americans, before budgets needed balancing and we didn’t know Newt Gingrich could preach and teach.

Dwayne Hunn, a MW Valley writer, worked as a People’s Lobby Steering Board member on the Clean Environment Initiative of 1972.



Dear Ones

(Joyce Koupal’s “Dear Ones” letters to her children. Joyce shares some of the secrets of their successes and passes her loving thoughts on to her children.)

April 28, 1983

Dear Ones:

I know this is unsolicited, but  I have thought  for a long time that the following material was worth talking about.

This will be, of course, a rough draft.  I know you have heard most of this from time to time, but probably never in a structured way .

I hope it works for you if you decide it is worth you effort.  I will continue to work on the other parts as I can and send those parts along to you.  Please feel free to comment, I want to hear from you.


  1. Definite Chief Aim
  2. Self-Confidence
  3. Habit of Saving
  4. Initiative & Leadership
  5. Imagination
  6. Enthusiasm
  7. Self-Control
  8. Habit of Doing More Than Paid For
  9. Pleasing Personality
  10. Accurate Thinking
  11. Concentration
  12. Cooperation
  13. Profiting by Failure
  14. Tolerance
  15. Practicing the Golden Rule


A Master Mind may be created through the bringing together or blending, in a spirit    of perfect   harmony, of two or more minds.  Out of this harmonious blending the chemistry of the mind creates a third mind WHICH MAY BE APPROPRIATED AND USED BY ONE OR ALL OF THE INDIVIDUAL MINDS.  The Master Mind remains available as long as the friendly, harmonious alliance between the individual minds exists.  It will disintegrate and all evidence of its former existence will disappear the moment the friendly alliance is broken. (Laws of Success by Napoleon Hill)

These simple words were the keys to the success of People’s Lobby.  Ed’s death broke the Master Mind that we were operating with.

Faith, Carol and I  put one together for the printing   business but Faith’s negativity never allowed us to realize the full potential of the Master Mind.  Anyone can work on their personal development and strive to create a Master Mind group. It takes a lot of discipline.


When Ed and I met, his energy, enthusiasm and drive, carried me into his plans and goals.  We went together for a year and then were engaged for another year.  During that time we bought ten acres of land and started building our home.  We started developing a chicken ranch.  When we married, we held down five jobs between us.  I worked for the state days and evenings.  Ed worked on a chicken ranch days, worked as a stationary engineer at the brick yard nights and late afternoons we packed eggs on my father’s ranch together.  We bought a little donut shop and then traded our ten acres for a full line bakery.  We worked twenty hours a day, allowing only one hour for sleep in the morning and one hour for sleep at night.  We ended up in bankruptcy.  We went out to my father’s ranch and lived in the hired man’s quarters.  Ed worked on the ranch and we gradually regained our perspective.  The attorney that handled our bankruptcy became a partner in our new business venture – a beer bar, and we bought a new house.  I stayed home and looked after the kids and Ed worked long hours in the bar.  Our fine new partner swindled us out of the  business.  We were again broke and on the street, having lost our home along with the business.  We had always worked with enthusiasm, drive, determination tenacity and very hard work – and we always failed.

This was the lowest point in our lives.  We had no money, the heat had been turned off in the house and we were being foreclosed.  There was no food and we were too proud to ask for help from our relatives.  Ed got a job selling pots and pans door-to-door.  I went with him on his first call and he made the sale and got a small deposit.  We used that deposit money to buy some food and take it home to feed the kids.  Ed had to make that sale because we would not have had enough gas in the car to even get home.  We didn’t realize it. but this was the turning point in our lives.  We were never to fail again.

Wing Torn was the district manager for Presto Pride, the company that Ed went to work for that fateful day.  Door-to-door sales, and pots and pans, are the hardest training ground that any salesman can go through.  It was, and probably still is, the bottom of the barrel.  But Wing Tom believed in the power of positive thinking and he took that several steps further.  His sales meetings were study groups and we were encouraged to read a number of books having to do with the powers of the mind and discuss these books at our meetings.  You see, Ed dragged me into this process with him kicking and screaming.  I didn’t want to knock on doors, I didn’t want to sell pots and pans.  And, I didn’t do much selling, probably because I hated it so.  But I did learn Wing Tom’s secrets and Ed and I began to  put these secret into practice in our own lives.


We must start at the beginning and that means that one must put the mind into a receptive place.  Meditation, at  least two times a day, calms the mind. refreshes the body and generates an inner strength.

Find a quiet comfortable place.  That might mean that you lock your office door and turn off the light.  Try to find a chair that is comfortable if you can’t find a couch.  Close your eyes.  Take a deep breath and then deliberately, work on slowing your breathing by design.  Mentally tell yourself to relax.  Then, starting with some part of the body, usually your toes, think about relaxing until you feel that part slowly letting go.  Move on to the ankle and go through the same process until you feel the ankles letting go and then move on to the leg.  Slowly go through every part of your body until you feel soft and floating.  You should feel yourself slipping into an almost sleep.  You are slow and clumsy at first, but if you go through this process twice a day you can become very competent and put yourself into a relaxed state and out in about five minutes.  You will feel refreshed and ready for action.  The five minute relaxation process will replace two hours of nap time.


Essential to the discipline of success is the ability to train yourself in many new skills.  Power of positive thinking, self esteem, leadership and many other parts of success follow from eliminating all the negatives in your own selves.

One way to start -training yourself to think positively is to begin to think only in a positive way about everyone and everything around you.  Write a list of your associates and friends.  Write down all of the good things you can think of about these people.  In your present negative/positive mind it  may be hard to find good things to say.  But even if it is only one line, write it down.  Do the same thing with the things and locations around you.

Now for the hard part.  From today forward, every time you think about these people, or talk to them, you must put away the negative thoughts and only say or think positive things.   You must do the same thing for the things and locations around you.  You will find yourself slipping into a negative reply or negative comment.  You must listen to yourself, stop yourself, and change right there into the positive.  This is difficult and takes a while.  But the rewards are immense.  You are retraining yourself for success.  What you put out comes back to you a hundred  fold.

After a while, you will begin to- notice that there is a response to what you are doing.  I remember that Ed and I eventually realized that we were in perfect harmony – that we tried to describe as  “peace of mind. “  We were still in some difficulty  – work rig our way out  of our financial problems – but somehow it didn’t seem important anymore.   I went to work for Aerojet and Ed was selling cars.  We bought another house, a little house by the Sacramento airport.  We started moving up.


Well this is the beginning.  I hope you like it.  I  will appreciate your comments.  This is the first rough draft of what I hope will be a full paper worthy of someone’s attention.

Love  and kisses to you.  Hope to see you very soon.


Ma 7, 1983

Dear Ones:

Chapter two of my advice to you.  I hope that you have thought about what I said in my previous letter.  I have already found some problems. I hope that you will let me know what you have found in putting this information to use.

This material is in rough draft form.  I know that I do not write very well.  I am open to how you feel about this material.  I will probably be making my career out of this process, so it is important to you and me.

I hope it works for you.  Whether you decide it is worth you personal effort, I will continue to work on the other parts as I can and send those parts along to you.


  1. Definite Chief Aim
  2. Self-Confidence
  3. Habit of Saving
  4. Initiative & Leadership
  5. Imagination
  6. Enthusiasm
  7. Self-Control
  8. Habit of Doing More Than Paid For
  9. Pleasing Personality
  10. Accurate Thinking
  11. Concentration
  12. Cooperation
  13. Profiting by Failure
  14. Tolerance
  15. Practicing the Golden Rule


A Master Mind may be created through the bringing together or blending, in a spirit of perfect harmony, of two or more minds.  Out of this harmonious blending the chemistry of the mind creates a third mind WHICH MAY BE APPROPRIATED AND USED BY ONE OR ALL OF THE INDIVIDUAL MINDS.  The Master Mind remains available as long as the friendly, harmonious alliance between the individual minds exists.  It will disintegrate and all evidence of its former existence will disappear the moment the friendly alliance is broken. (Laws of Success b Napoleon Hill)

RELAXATION (Incorrectly labeled meditation)

A more correct definition of this process  is relaxation.  Moderation in all things is a by word for this entire process.  You don’t have to become a Yogi to start working on your mind to receive my information.  Two five or ten minute relaxation periods per day over several weeks or months will do wonders for your concentration.  See number 11 law.  You will also be able to use this relaxation to rejuvenate yourself when you are stressed, or have to work long hours.  So this process serves a two-fold purpose.  Let me know how you are doing  on this.


You may already have this securely cemented in your mind.  If you do, you are one lucky person.  What do you want from life? Where are you going to be and what are you going to be doing 10 years from now, 15 years, or 20? Or do you even know what you want from life 5 years ahead or even one year? Only you can decide.

You may have guessed, your father did know exactly where he was going.  His definite chief aim?  “To be a leader of many people.” The story of how he arrived at that aim may not have been something you have heard about.  He only talked of it a few times with me.  It was so crazy that most of the time he didn’t quite believe it all happened to him. But I remember his buddies talking about it really happening, and his army discharge was unusual (but real).  I’ll try to remember the story as he told it.

Ed was a musician.  He started out playing the trombone and late changed to the bass.  He had a “black” beat, so described to me by many black musicians.  He played with black groups.  Highly unusual during the forties as most of the country was segregated and of course very prejudiced.  But that didn’t stop your dad.  He always did what he wanted and never cared or thought about what other people thought of what he did.  This is an important difference.  One that you must cultivate and nurture in your own lives.  If you are ever to become a leader and develop initiative in your lives, you must give up the curbing of your decisions because of what others might think about that.  If you have accurate thinking (see 10 law), a definite chief aim (#l),   you will be making decisions and moving toward that aim and it will be correct for you.

At any rate, back to the story.  Ed was drafted into the army and, because he was a musician, was classified critically essential to the war effort.  Ed didn’t like the Army, he wanted to play music and play at having a great time in life.  Stationed finally in Texas, he was doing his duty daytimes, and playing jazz in the local town at night with a small combo made up of his Army buddies.  Most of these musicians were black.  In this town there was a small black church.  According to Ed’s buddies, miracles were known to happen in this church.  The congregation was made of  a black sect known as The Seven Sisters.  Don’t ask me any more about this, it is just what I remember Ed telling me.  At any rate, a member of this group was supposed to be able to heal people, foretell ones future, and do other kinds of things.  Somehow, Ed met this person and told him that his chief aim in life was “to get out of the Army as quickly as possible.” This person said that it was possible.   But that Ed would have to follow exact instructions.  Ed could not remember exactly what he had to do, but remembered that at a certain time of day he had to recite a passage out of the bible.  When a superior officer gave him an order, he was to clutch a “root” in his pocket, and quietly but firmly, refuse to obey.  He remembered that he was scared to death the first time he tried it, because he could have been court martialed or worse.  But, try it he did.  And, according to him, NOTHING HAPPENED.  He was not brought  up on charges, simply nothing happened.

This went on for several days or weeks.  Ed was getting impatient and went to see this person, and asked when all of this was going t o pay off with his discharge.  At this time in history, it took at least six weeks for someone to be “mustered out” of the Army.  That is, for someone who was NOT critically essential as Ed was, and someone who had served out his entire commitment of two or three years, these people could get out in six weeks.  Ed was told that if this was Friday night, he could expect to be completely discharged from the service by five pm the following Monday afternoon.  And, according to your  dad, that is exactly what happened.  Early Monday morning the Sergeant called him in and said, “You are critically essential, this is impossible, you can’t get out for six weeks at least, but go see the doctor,  you are being discharged.”  All through the day, each person he had to see told him the same thing.  And, at 5 pm that day, your father walked off the base a free man.  His discharge (and this is true) was a 501(c)(3) meaning that it was honorable, with all benefits due him, but if he ever wanted to get BACK into the Army, the Adjutant General of the United States had to give him the permission to do so.

Imagine if you will what our political enemies would  have done with that story if they had known.

At any rate, Ed was a free man.   He went to see the person from the church to thank him, and while he was there, that person told him that  he foresaw that Ed would “be a leader of many people” during his life.  Ed really struggled with this experience for many years.  He had had such a strong mind that it  was difficult for him to accept the fact that he had not only seen but been part of an occult type of thing.  He said many times that he didn’t believe in this experience, but he really held in the back of his mind those words “you will be a leader of many people.”  I didn’t realize it but I bought into his goal in life and we set out.  That is, we set out once we acquired the skills to do so through this process that I am relating to you.

And, didn’t he realize his secret goal? I now know that it is true.  And I think that is why he could die so peacefully.  He had attained his goal in life.   He “had it made”.

Well, you may not find your goal in life as easily or unusually as your father did, but find your goal you must.  One of the real and terrible problems of young people today is that you don’t have a goal in life.  People who lived through hard times rise up with definite ideas about what they don’t want and many times a clear goal of what they do want. They get the honing of purpose from a hard experience. Times have been too good.  But that doesn’t mean you  have to suffer to set goals.  But you must sit down and do some very serious thinking about it.  You must find out  what you want and  it must be real.  Then you will be able to  work out the steps you must take to get to your goal.

A word of warning.  That doesn’t mean that you will have a clear path to your goal.  There may be sidetracks and unusual paths you  will have to take to get to where you want to go.  But go you will!


It might help to get a big piece of paper and put it on you wall. Add some pictures of those things you want.  Money? A car? A house?  A family? A friend? A telephone call?  A letter? Whatever it is, paste it on the paper.  A picture in front of every, will help you imagine that it is a real part of  your life.  Sit down and look at this picture.  Play your relaxation game.  Then imagine yourself with this “thing” that you have in your goal picture.  See yourself holding it, touching it, putting it in your  pocket, living it, whatever.  Do this at least once a day.  It does help to put it in your life, then you will not rest until you really have it  in  hand.


This means exactly that.    How many time have you said to yourself, “I would do, it but . . . “.   “I would do it but . . .”  The “but” is your way of excusing yourself out  of success and attainment.  You but yourself  and then you don’t have to take  a chance or stick your neck out where others can see you fail.  I know this is true because when your father and I finally “went for it,”  we stripped ourselves  of all “worldly” goods and put ourselves in position where we had “-nothing to lose.” That was our way of handling our own “buts.”  Arid it worked for us.  That is because we viewed “viewed  “worldly goods” as important.  In order to “go for it” you do not have to give up worldly goods.  You simply have to stop letting the “buts” have their way with you.  Free yourself systematically from the “buts” in your life.  Do this consciously.  Now you know.  Now you can deal with it.

Want to be rich in money? You have to let go of the “but” if I  get rich ‘L won’t know what to do with my money? Or “but” others will  want to take   it away from me,  or “but” I really don’t deserve to be rich.   Or “but” I’ll have to, give up all my friends who really like me because they can feel sorry for me.  Etc.  Etc.  Etc.  You fill in the blanks.

Perhaps the biggest   one of all is “But” if I am rich  I’ll have to take charge of my own life and be responsible for me.  It is easier -to be a failure with all of those connotations.

Yes, I am guilty of all of this too.  But, I  am taking steps to  do something about it again.


Let’s talk about this one a bit.  The extra inch (or foot) in your work is very important.  It makes the important difference between “doing your job and collecting your money” and “doing you job and developing your opportunities.” When you hear someone say, “People don’t know how to work,” doing the job and collecting the money is usually the problem.  When someone has put everything they have into developing a business, they want to rely on staff that cares about what happens to that business.  One way you can graphically demonstrate your concern is to go the extra step.  The person who shows up on time, or is early for his jobs is the person who gets noticed by the boss. Developing your job, by giving it extra time and care, is rewarded by climbing the ladder of success.  Sometimes that is not true.  But because this process does not work with everyone you come into contact with, does not mean you should stop.  The truth is that if you are working toward your own life goal, you are really going the extra step for yourself.  And, by and large, you will see enormous benefits come back to you for your efforts.

Your dad and I used to say that we succeeded because we were willing and able to, work 24 hours a day to gain our ends.   The political community we were battling went home at five.  I know that part of that is true, but another element went into our success that meant we could not fail – The Master Mind.  At any rate, we always did put in that extra work, be it for an, employer or for ourselves.  The habit stuck because we had made it a habit in our lives.

Well, so much for a second round in my narrative.  I wish you well in your quest for knowledge.  I hope that this will help you on the road to your goal in life.  Let me know if it helps.  I love you.