Tag Archives: rick arnold

Too many tired, hanging curves?

San Diego Review   December 1, 1995

 Too many tired, hanging curves?

By Dwayne Hunn

Sometimes, like my hometown Cleveland Indians,  you get too far ahead of the curve…  When it happens in politics, you also don’t score much.

Getting ahead of too many curves in either game:  1) destroys confidence and passes bench  splinters 2) causes public policy grumbling during commercials of  Married with Children  3) teaches one to persist, adjust and wait till  they slip you a good, crushable pitch.

People’s Lobby  was ahead of  a lot of curves —  reviving the initiative for grassroots organizations, sponsoring initiatives to clean the environment and reform politics, training groups to do the same and  sending men to Washington to implement the national initiative and referendum.  Unfortunately, People’s Lobby’s truly big hitters went  up to the heavenly Big  League, and  for years the National I&R,  was left stranded on political bases.

Today new hitters step up to drive home that biggest political run. Rick Arnold’s highly successful National Voter Outreach,  which did 20 of the 66 initiatives in 1992 and 19 of the 76 that  qualified in 1994, has branched out to form the  American Initiative  Committee, whose goal is  to amend the  National I&R into the Constitution. Former Senator Mike Gravel wants to adopt a National I&R through a 1996 popular vote, re-enacting Philadelphia’s Constitution writing  of 1787.

Barbara Vincent, Director of  the National Referendum Movement (NRM), has another approach.   NRM also has a National I&R goal,  but intends to promote that by bringing the initiative process to the 26 states that still lack I&R rights 24 states possess.  NRM’s approach, dubbed the Tennessee Plan, attacks on three fronts:

1) Legislatures are lobbied to pass I&R legislation, while seeking the governor’s support;

2) Electorates  tests their constitutional right by placing  an issue on the ballot via petition;

3) Courts suits are filed under state and federal  bills of rights when the petition is denied.

In short, if  the politicians won’t pass laws to give  citizens the initiative and referendum, citizens put an issue on  the ballot without an initiative law.  When  the Secretary of State denies their legal ability to do so, they “sue the buzzards.”

Didn’t the King of England learn that  petitioning for redressing grievances is better than going to war?  Wasn’t a foundation of the Constitution the right of redress?   Wasn’t  the Bill of Rights,  ratified in 1791 three years after the Constitution alone was submitted to the states, added to guard against the abuse of people’s rights?  Wasn’t the right “to petition the Government for a redress of grievances” one of the key phrases in the First Amendment?

Doesn’t the 1983 Civil Rights Law stating, “No one can use even custom as an excuse to violate citizens’ civil rights…” receive its  legal forces from those founding tenets? Our rights emanated from our 1776 Declaration of  Independence, so shouldn’t  logical historians wonder why it took over 200 years for all the states to have the initiative and referendum?

If the three pronged attack doesn’t obtain timely results,  the NRM  has a “big squeeze” contingency that relies on Congressional supporters to pass a Uniform Act establishing the IR process for all the states.  The states would be required to provide initiative and referendum rights to citizens, as states retain discretion to set signature, filling requirements, etc.

Even before the tired but true 42 year old Satchel Page joined the Indians in 1948,  tired  politicians were heaving curve balls to keep the initiative out of  the peoples’ hands. Today, however, more hitters are digging in to crush hanging curves  into the I&R bleachers.