Tag Archives: Western Bloc

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

‘God’s angry man’ told us so

Published Marin Independent Journal, October 26, 1994


‘God’s angry man’ told us so

Since IT’S NEARING election time, I wandered to Ross Perot’s  Autumn ’94 “Let’s get ’em!” Marin Civic Center rally. Then I went to a Kathleen Brown meeting, where they scrutinize for spies as they manufacture and hand out yard signs. I went because I once did some political stuff.

Whether I worked for brother Jerry Brown or in­troduced George McGovern to a crowd of 15,000, my political work taught me that awe and adulation ain’t deserved for most who play the game. There’s only one political guy I look back on and always up to.

Leading jazz bands was his love. Selling used cars was one of his jobs.

When his car dealership owner went to jail, Ed Koupal threw such a giant “Jail Sale” that Sacramento’s dealers forced Ford to squelch his “marketedly incorrect” but hugely successful gambit. When Reagan cut state budgets by closing homes for the infirm, Ed mounted a recall that stunted Ron’s early presidential aspirations.

When Ed gagged on L.A.’s smog, he formed People’s Lobby, revived the dormant initiative process for grass roots organizations and, with a $9,000 budget, put the Clean Environment Initiative on the 1972 ballot. When big money nuked our efforts to lower the lead content in gasoline, reduce sulfur-dioxide emissions in diesel fuel, ban DDT and stop construction of nuclear reactors, Ed taught us to get even by leading the 1974 Political Reform Initiative to a 70 percent victory.

Common Cause and Jerry Brown joined that crusade. Back then, candidate Jerry didn’t sound like Edwin Koupal.   Today, minus  Ed’s pork-chop sideburns, humor, fun and commanding presence, Jerry often echoes him: “Only Nader deserves to stay in Washington.”

To Ed, political icons weren’t good enough. Once, Ed chewed into Nader: “If you wanna get something done, don’t waste time trying to reform the system or begging politicians to do it right.

‘Write your own damn laws. Recall the bums and put the really_ _ _ _ _ _ ones in jail.”

Nader said, “Show me.” Ed organized Western Bloc, a coalition of 15 initiative states to stop nuclear reactor construction.

Western Bloc instituted the National Initiative, Referendum and Recall (NIR&R) as the 27th (then) amendment to the Constitution. It picked up 55 co­sponsors and support from Jack Kemp and Recall Ronnie. Unfortunately, columnist Tom Wicker was prophetic: “No one need worry, however, about Congress taking plenty of time to study these particular reforms, striking as they do at Congressional power.”

When Ed Koupal, “one of God’s angry men” left for heaven in 1976, most of the 50 “long-haired, crazy and radical People’s Lobby mules” took refuge from a political scene that had lost the only guy they knew deserved awe and adulation. Today, the direct democracy tools he wanted constitutionalized still seem needed.

Some politicians skirt the need, saying, “The initiative process is too complicated for regular folk! A National IR&R would be ghastly!”

“Too complicated” for the regular folks who employ highly paid politicians? If our employees can’t “KISS” (keep it simple, stupid), maybe we ought to add a jazz man’s song score that will at least make them dance.

California’s initiatives are judicially limited to one subject and are generally from two to 20 pages. “Keeping it simple, stupid” is easier in initiatives than in those 1,500-plus-page Congressional omnibus pork bills. Few legislators read those bills. Knowing only generalities, they vote as their specially interested parties dictate.

Democracy ain’t a box of chocolates. Today’s world is harder to chew and digest. So if you’re growling a lot, consider exercising the National Initiative and abiding by the People’s Lobby adage, “Final responsibility rests with the people, therefore never is final authority delegated.”

Dwayne Hunn, a resident of Mill Valley, is working on a book about the National IR&R and will be teaching at the University o[ San Francisco. People’s Lobby‘s mailing address is 5075 Charmian Dr., Santo Rosa 95409.

Western Bloc

Raising the nation’s public policy IQ…Adding the National Initiative to Democracy’s Toolbox.
Western Bloc Safe Power Campaign   

From draft book on the Koupal’s People’s Lobby by Dwayne Hunn.

Most of us held Nader in revered status, but Ed, before he met Nader, had often knocked him at Board meetings saying, “He just wastes a lot of energy putting words in the papers.  If he wants to make real changes in this nation. he ought to get on the national initiative band wagon…”

In November of 1974 Nader was about to host anti-nuclear activists from across the country for his Critical Mass Energy conference in Washington D.C.

After the Lobby-driven 70% ballot victory with the Political Reform Act in 1974, and because the Lobby had been one of the pioneers in the anti-nuclear movement with the Lobby’s 1972 Clean Environment Initiative, Ed and Joyce were invited to the conference. A rumor that drifted among Lobby mules at that time was that Nader’s staff wanted to shield Ralph from the “crazy” Ed Koupal. Shielding doesn’t work too well when you put Ed in front of audience where he initiates the tune and brings the crowd cheering his way.

They (Ed and Joyce) brought with then, besides their usual threadbare clothes, news of a California initiative petition for a statewide law that would stop nuclear power cold — possibly even result in its eventual complete shutdown in the nation’s most populous state. California environmentalists, with the official backing of the increasingly anti-nuclear Sierra Club, had launched their petition drive that same month. The goal of the effort was to put the proposal on the June 1976 statewide primary ballot.[1] For the Koupals, however, the goal was to turn a statewide initiative into a multi-state initiative, thereby  demonstrating the possibility of an entire section of the country voting on the same proposition —— a prototype national initiative.

Over a thousand citizens from at least 40 states attended the conference including more than one nuclear industry spy. When Ed recognized one industrial spy as having been his opponent in numerous debates over the 1972 Environment Initiative, he greeted the man, Hal Stroube, with typical bravado. Koupal told him he looked like a basket case who should be in a hospital, and perhaps he got that way from hanging around too many nuclear plants. According to Joyce, Stroube beat a hasty retreat and was not seen again at the conference.[2]

Ed’s talk and conference workshops on how to do the Lobby’s table method of collecting signatures went over so well that activists from Washington, Oregon, Colorado and several other states asked for help in organizing anti-nuke initiative campaigns.  Nader agreed to help finance the organizing trips through some of those states.

Over the next months Ed would take some all day and all night drives through those states and convince Lobby mules Telschow, Forester and Masche to serve as state campaign organizers.  The Lobby could only pay Telschow and Forester $99 per month and Masche, with a wife and two children $300. per month.  By the time the three returned for a 1975 Lobby Board meeting, they learned that they were to be:

spearheading a national movement known as the Western Bloc. The original goal of anti-nuclear initiatives in three states had been expanded to include fourteen western states, which would, in theory, create a solid “Bloc” of opposition to nuclear power covering nearly half the land area of the continental United States. The nation’s first national initiative drive had begun.[3]

By 1975 the nation’s best known car safety and consumer advocate started appearing at the Lobby’s door to hang out with one of California’s better used car salesmen and music makers. Nader made several visits to the Lobby and got to know Ed and Joyce, learning “what made the Lobby tick.”  He often questioned them on their special relationship and seemed intrigued as to how they made their intense political reforming work within a family and husband and wife context.

Nader was becoming enthused with the national initiative idea and saw it as a tool to address environmental and big money issues in politics. As Sonia put it, “Ralph wanted Ed to succeed with the national initiative idea because he saw it as a means to take care of environmental and big money issues…. Ed came out of a meeting with Nader and ”was jacked saying, ‘we’re going to Critical Mass and we’re going to talk about the national initiative.’”

Critical Mass 1975 was another huge conference drawing activists from all corners of the country. During the Conference a candlelight march went to the Capitol steps in honor of Karen Silkwood, a nuclear plant worker who mysteriously died in November of 1974 in a car accident shortly before she was to meet with reporters over nuclear plant safety issues.[4] Ed’s mantra, “If you want to change the country, you’ve got to be able to make and thereby change the  laws it runs on…”  now made sense to a crowd hungry to control the spread of what they considered to be dangerous nuclear power plants.

While the Lobby was gearing up for nuclear fission games, the murky and muddied political enemies it had made in Sacramento were not about to let it concentrate without dishing out some headaches.  The Lobby’s clean and hard hitting reputation caused more and more people to treat it as the peoples’ ombudsman where they could send information that caused more and more headaches for many less than enlightened lobbyists and politicians.[5]  The muddied politicians wanted to get even.  Since they had trouble sullying the Lobby name, they did what they thought was the next best thing.  They tried taking Peoples Lobby’s name.

What was angering the politicians?  Not only was People’s Lobby continuing to attack politicians who veered off course, but it was also attacking the recently installed officers of the Fair Political Practices Committee, the committee People’s Lobby had established to enforce the laws established by the Political Reform Act of 1974.  Now, not only the vested interests but the politicians and bureaucrats involved with enforcing the Political Reform Act and its laws were upset with People’s Lobby.

What was People’s Lobby charged with?  Not paying taxes.  The non-profit People’s Lobby’s corporate status was not suspended for not paying taxes.  The corporate status was suspended for not filing mundane governmental forms that thousands of corporations forget to file each year.

What were some of the government’s abuses of power against People’s Lobby?  The Franchise Tax Board wrote an unprecedented, seemingly personally crafted letter meant to cripple People’s Lobby.  This unprecedented letter was unprecedentedly hand delivered to the Agricultural and Services Secretary Rose Bird, Controller Ken Cory and Governor Jerry Brown.  No letter or delivery process remotely resembling this was ever done to the over 25,000 corporations who face suspension each year for failing to file their corporate papers on time.[6]

Peoples Lobby, like thousands of other corporations, forgot to file the fee. Consequently a bar, then named the Brass Rail[7],  that lobbyists and politicians would frequent by walking for three minutes out the Capitol’s side door and into the Sacramento Mall, paid the filing fee and took  the Lobby’s name.  In return, the Lobby paid the filling fee on a dozen corporations, including the then famous Helena Rubenstein Corporation.

The result of this attempt to intimidate People’s Lobby?  In a short period of time, the state backed off as the Helena Rubenstein  Corporation, or Credit Bureau of Sacramento County and at least ten others were ready to give up their functioning names to the Lobby.

Those cosmetic shenanigans meant little to Ed as he stepped onto the Critical Mass stage to inspire the crowd to fight the Western Bloc campaign, and begin what he saw as a scrimmage prior to a National Initiative Campaign.

Footnotes at page end.

Statement By Edwin A. Koupal, Jr.

at Critical Mass 75

November 17, 1975

I would like to take some time this morning to explain to all of you and to the Members of Congress here today what we as citizens have learned about the power of politics and the politics of power in the past year since CRITICAL MASS 74.

Behind you is a map of the United States. The sections of the map in red represent the Western Bloc states—states that have the initiative process and are involved right now in signature gathering or writing initiatives. This amounts to over two-thirds of the land mass of America. That’s political power!

The Western Bloc initiative petitions are precincted petitions of registered voters, people who voted at least in the most recent election in each state, people who put you members of Congress in office; people who hire you to represent them in Washington, D.C. Ours are signatures of over 1 and 1/2 million people all across America. That’s a provocative statement! And our signatures are committing various states across America to the ballot box on this all important issue of nuclear power.

The reason that we’re doing this is quite obvious. First, our political establishment in America obviously broke down on this issue, and, as many times has happened in America, the people are ahead of their elected officials.

We’ve seen the danger of atomic power. We tried to tell our elected officials before we got involved in this situation about the danger, and we did it in spite of the normal political frustrations that. so many times abound. We picketed and we boycotted and we leafletted and we appeared before committees and commissions and testified and did all of the political exercises and went through all of the frustrations that are demanded of people here in America. But the ultimate question, the one that really counts, is “do we really get what we want in the statute books?” Because in America, we are a land of law, and we deal best from the statute books. That is what really controls our society: the law.

But thankfully, in twenty-two states in America, we have a process of self government. WE the people believe that self-government far exceeds good government. Self-government is a process through which we can work around your honorable body of representative government, and bodies like yours all across America in various state capitals, when you are not responsive to the people’s needs. That is, we can write our own laws, we can go out and gather signatures, and we can go out directly to the electorate, which eventually leads us directly to the statute books with a peoples’ law. We can guide America the way we want it, without our hired hands getting involved.

.Now, to give you Members of Congress an idea of what you’re confronted with here in Washington: you have a national campaign coming up. Wouldn’t it be nice if we gave America some nice leadership on her 200 year birthday?  But wouldn’t it be even better if we gave America a 200 year gift of safe power and a better social existence?

In California, more than a million signatures have been gathered on the nuclear issue. California has qualified a safe power ballot proposition. It will be voted on during the primaries and that’s going to give some national politicians some fits because they’ve got to speak to California. There’s a geographic reality about California:  we’re bigger in area than the nation of Japan. One out of every ten persons in the United States is a Californian. We’re eleventh in gross national product for the whole planet and sixth. in budget. When the national politicians come out there and want the Californian’s vote, we’re going to want to know how they feel about the most important issue on our ballot in June, and that deals with safe power.

Oregon has qualified a safe power ballot proposition. Of course, Oregon has always led the nation in areas of safe environment and better living for people on earth.

Washington state will start gathering their signatures in January because of a kink in the law. It’s nice that the political spectrum in America has given us the right of self—government, but there are always certain little kinks to try to keep it away from us. It’s one of those things where we’ve really got it, but we really don’t have it, unless we work really, really hard in order to do it. Washington state is one of those situations.

Some of the states that are now gathering signatures on safe power initiatives include:

•   Montana. It’s over half qualified and they have until July to gather another 15,000 signatures. I think that if they ‘really got it cranked up, they could do that on a weekend and still go to church on Sunday morning.

•   North and South Dakota will be gathering their signatures in a few weeks.

•   Colorado needs 65,000 signatures. It was reported this morning that they have 35,000. Hooray for Colorado!

•   Not to forget Oklahoma. Oklahoma will be starting the latter part of December. That’s the home of Karen Silkwood, with ole’ Kerr-McGee sitting right in the middle of it. They’ve got all kinds of reasons to move on it. We’re going to get them now in Oklahoma, aren’t we!

•   Missouri’s writing its document now, along with Arkansas and Michigan.

•   Maine is gathering signatures. It will qualify – – no doubt about that. It’s a beautiful state and we’ll get it on there.

•   Iowa and Kansas. They have self- government there, but it’s not the initiative process; they only have the right of recall. I’d prefer to call it vote of confidence, or – – if you will – –  way to fire your elected employees when we, as employers, find that they are not responsible or responsive to our needs and requirements. So in Iowa and Kansas, there is a great move to find the elected officials who are not too responsive to the people’s needs in this all-important area.

Let me give you a little background on these signature gathering campaigns and the Western Bloc. This whole thing started about a year ago, after the last Critical Mass conference, Ralph Nader and myself sat down and said, “now what can we do?” We realized that at that point we really had to get to the statute books in order to really make the changes. Why don’t we try a couple of states – – Washington, Oregon and Colorado, for example – – and see what we can do?

As we got into these states – – to give you an idea of  the overwhelming necessity for you to begin to realize what’s really going on out there – – people from other states with the initiative process begged to have our organizers come in and train them to gather signatures and qualify initiatives; show them how to become a part of this massive Western Bloc movement.

We will soon have somewhere between 1 3/4 and 2 million signatures of qualified voters. That’s political power. That’s what hires you people. That’s what makes you tick. No more picketing and boycotting, no more fooling around with leaflets, no more testifying before committees. You see, that’s over now, because we’re going through the very process that built America and made America strong, and that’s the ballot box.

One more thing in closing. I want to point out that the Western Bloc – – as an organizer and a worker – – setting these states into motion, is spending less than $17,000 to do this. That shows that the people want it. You see, when people are on the move, money is insignificant. When you have to buy a candidate or sell a Ford – – or sell a Johnson or sell a Nixon – – it takes millions of dollars. But when you have an issue, it takes people. People will win!

Initiative campaigns that are people based have a wonderful synergy.  Grassroots campaigns rejuvenate the political bloodstream of America.  They force debate, discussion, thought and creativity.  In the end they educate vast numbers of American much beyond what their too often tight lipped and tightly vested representatives want them to learn.

When all the polls closed of what totaled 18 safe power,  anti-nuclear initiatives, none passed.  But suddenly American knew so much about this proclaimed  “source of power that would be too cheap to meter…blah, blah..” that few people wanted it in their backyards.  Suddenly big utilities who spent millions and millions to stop the initiatives from passing, stopped applying for nuclear construction permits.

The Lobby’s National Initiative scrimmage woke up the nation on nuclear power’s dangers.

[1]  This became Proposition 15, the Nuclear Power Plants Initiative which qualified for the ballot but was  rejected at the polls in 1976

[2]   From a David Schmidt letter to Joyce Koupal seeking editing comments prior to publication of his book, Citizen Lawmakers.  (Might be around page 33 of that letter.)

[3] Ibid. Schmidt letter to Joyce Koupal..

[4] The 19__? (get date) movie ‘Silkwood’ was made based on her life.

[5] Some examples of information coming to Lobby.  Source ‘Sonia remebers’ on People’s Lobby website. “Roberti and (Ed) he used to have long discussions about politics in general and how long a person could be effective.  It’s kind of interesting because every time I think of David Roberti I think of how long he’s lasted in the political system.  And one of Ed’s and Roberti’s favorite conversations was that you couldn’t last long because you get co-opted. You know, how long can an organiza­tion last.  Ed used to have this great line about the lung asso­ciation, ‘You know for years and years it was called the tubercu­losis association.  But they found a way to cure tuberculosis, but the organization had to live on so they called it the lung asso­ciation because no one will ever cure lung.’

“He was always very supportive of David Roberti and David always gave him inside information.  I know they talked on the phone.  He would call the office.  It was really quite a really terrific bunch of people that would call the office.  I remember Gann (Paul) used to come through and Ed would give him a bad time. And the Gray Panthers would come through and they’d always flock toward Ed and he’d always give him his two cent… They’d have a little bullshit session…

[6] People’s Lobby Newsletter of September-October 1975

[7]  Ibid. Schmidt letter to Joyce Koupal..