Tag Archives: People’s Lobby (PLI)

Brief PLI history

(Slowly rebuilding web site.  Thanks for patience)

Political novices Ed and Joyce Koupal incorporated People’s Lobby Inc. as a 501 (c) (4) and then used its unique grassroots initiative process to help reform the political system.

On its second attempt a loose knit band of volunteers led by Ed and Joyce qualified the Clean Environment Initiative of 1972, and then led Gubernatorial Candidate Jerry Brown and Common Cause to enacting the Political Reform Act of 1974. In the process, People’s Lobby became a training center for those interested in using the initiative for political reform. Ralph Nader sought out People’s Lobby to lead the Western Bloc, a coalition of 18 states who launched initiatives from 1975 onwards to slow the development of nuclear power plants.  The nuclear industry spent millions to thwart the Western Bloc Safe Power initiative campaigns, but as the campaign educated America  the growth of nuclear reactors was stunted. 

On the other end of the political spectrum, some claim that Howard Jarvis, California’s tireless property tax reformer, learned from People’s Lobby how to finally pass the 1978 Jarvis Gann Proposition 13 Property Tax Reduction Initiative.

In 1977 former People’s Lobby members, John Forester and Roger Telschow convened Senate Judiciary Hearings on establishing a National Initiative Process.  Alaska’s US Senator Mike Gravel (1969-1981) was a member of those hearings.  His continued desire to see the National Initiative Process become part of America’s political rights ushered in a merging of People’s Lobby’s rich campaign history and present day educational goals with those of the Philadelphia II and Direct Democracy, non-profits he had founded.  In 2002 Senator Gravel joined the People’s Lobby Board as its President and Ed and Joyce Koupal’s goal of a National Initiative returned as a primary mission of the organization. 

For some history on People’s Lobby from a draft book and other sources, click::

Clean Environment Initiative Smog Campaign of 1972

Clean Environment Initiative Lessons

Political Reform Act of 1974

Western Bloc Safe Power campaigns of the 1970’s

In 1977 Senate Judiciary Committee held hearings on Senate Joint Resolution 67 (SJR 67) on the People’ Lobby initiated National Initiative Process, Voter Initiative Constitutional Amendment

Senate Judiciary Hearings  SJR67 Voter Initiative Constitutional Amendment 1977

Opening statements Senators Birch Bayh and  Abourezk

S. J. Resolution 67

Testimony of Joyce Koupal on SJR 67 

Testimony of Roger Diamond, PL Attorney on  SJR67 

Robert Redford support letter

Pat Buchanan support letter

In 1995 former Senator Mike Gravel placed an initiative on the Washington state ballot asking their Washington state citizens if they would vote to support a national initiative process.  With Washington’s Attorney General denying their citizens the right to vote on this issues, Gravel filed a certiorari petition to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Senator Gravel lights up Supreme Courts

For more information on Senator Gravel, Philadelphia II and his move to further the revival of the national initiative movement started by People’s Lobby, click to www.ni4d.org.

Through the 90’s the PLI Board began slowly easing back into the political scene by undertaking educational projects such as producing videos, writing columns, reporting on initiative movements, and attending conferences.

In 2002 PLI funded the three day Ed and Joyce Koupal Memorial Conference in Williamsburg, Virginia where the National Initiative for Democracy Act was vetted by 10 established scholars.  For that conference an edited version of Dwayne Hunn’s book on the Koupals and People’s Lobby was produced, Ordinary People Doing the Extraordinary.

Following the conference, People’s Lobby endorsed funding the national initiative campaign with a series of additional loans.  Those loans funded the Direct Democracy and Philadelphia II organizations, directed by former Senator Gravel, for use on the NI4D campaign.  PLI’s ($450,000 + interest) funded such undertakings as: an NI4 D dinner in Philadelphia, three month Maine NI4D campaign, NI4D’s on-line voting and donations programs, staffing, administrative, and legal costs into 2003.  In 2003 former Senator Gravel resigned from the PLI’s Board, as did his appointed Treasurer and his other board member friend who served during Gravel’s tenure as President of PLI’s Board.  

During the 2002 Maine National Initiative for Democracy Campaign and afterwards some former PLI workers expressed disagreement on Gravel’s NI4D campaign strategy and management.  

As of 2009 former Senator Gravel and his organizations have made no effort, despite repeated requests from PLI,  to pay on their Promissory Notes.  


Nader’s Top Ten

The Year’s Best Books

Read, Then Act

Ralph Nader’s Top Ten Book List for 2009

lists People’s Lobby’s…

  1. Ordinary People Doing the Extraordinary: The Story of Ed and Joyce Koupal and the Initiative Process

By Dwayne Hunn and Doris Ober.

This husband-wife team “just ordinary people,” in their words, started out powerless and in over a decade, largely in the seventies, built Initiative power to qualify reforms on the California ballot for the popular vote.  A story for the ages that strips away excuses steeped in a sense of powerlessness.  This small but invigorating paperback can be obtained from The People’s Lobby (www.peopleslobby.us) for $15, including shipping.  People’s Lobby, 1817 California St., Unit 201, San Francisco, CA 94109.



Others on the list include…

  1. Achieving the Impossible by Lois Marie Gibbs; Published by the Center for Health, Environment and Justice…
  2. Europe’s Promise: Why the European Way is the Best Hope In An Insecure Age by Steven Hill…
  3. Grand Illusion: The Myth of Voter Choice in A Two-Party Tyranny by Theresa Amato…
  4. Priceless Money: Banking Time for Changing Times by Edgar S. Cahn…
  5. Empire of Illusion by Chris Hedges…
  6. The Buyout of America: How Private Equity Will Cause the Next Great Credit Crisis by Josh Kosman…


  1. Getting Away With Torture: Secret Government, War Crimes, and the Rule of Law by Christopher H. Pyle…
  2. It Takes A Pillage by Nomi Prins…
  3. Censored 2010: The Top 25 Censored Stories of 2008-09 edited by Peter Phillips and Mickey Huff with Project Censored.

At the five day 2010 Global Forum on Modern Direct Democracy ‘s Jully 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…”

Koupal Tribute

 The drive toward a national initiative process

By Ralph Nader

Claremont Courier, November 27, 1974 updated by Nader in 2002 for Ordinary People Doing the Extraordinary.

Ed and Joyce Koupal, the indefatigable leaders of the People’s Lobby in California, thought Americans should rediscover those mechanisms of self-government–the initiative, the recall and the referendum, and they took their skilled signature-gathering experience nationwide to build support for a constitutional amendment establishing a national initiative and national recall.

In 1974 the Koupals were instrumental in the passage of the California initiative known as Proposition 9, the Political Reform Act providing for state campaign spending limits, disclosure of any potential conflict of interest by public officials, regulation of lobbyists and other “clean government” reforms.  In an expression of dismay over corrupt politics, Proposition 9 was passed overwhelmingly by over 3 million Californians.

Notice that it was the people who directly wrote and passed this state law, not the state legislature.  This is what an “initiative” involves — a process by which, ‘through petitions, a prescribed number of people may write proposed laws for direct submission to the voters.  Over half a million Californians signed the petition that placed Proposition 9 on the ballot.

In 1974 twenty-two states had a statewide initiative; 25 states had a statewide referendum (the process by which voters may repeal or approve a bill passed by the state legislature); 14 states had a statewide recall (the process by which voters may remove or retain an elected official).

These direct democracy measures were largely passed during the Populist-Progressive period of American history around the turn of and first decade of this century.  But they were dormant in most states, unused and almost forgotten by most citizens.  The Koupals wanted them revived to bring back democratic accountability to the people and make elected officials more accountable be­tween elections.

For almost a decade prior to 1974, the Koupals, operating out of their small print shop, perfected techniques of signature gathering.  They could marshal 10,000 volunteers in California almost immediately for a petition drive to get a measure on the state ballot.

In the 1970’s they also believed that what had been increasingly good for California should be good for America.  They wanted to test “whether the few, corporate and government organizations which hold so much of the country’s power can stand democracy in action — old-fashioned style.

Their proposed 27th Amendment to the Constitution back then read:

“The people of the USA reserve to themselves the power of the initiative.  The initiative is the power of the electors to propose laws and to adopt or reject them.  An initiative measure may not be submitted to alter or amend the Constitution of ‘the US.

“Every elected officer of the US may be removed from office at any time by the electors meeting the qualifications to vote in their state, through the procedure and in the manner herein provided for, which procedure shall be known as a vote of confidence, and is in addition to any other method of removal provided by law.”

One way a democracy withers away is by excessive delegation of citizen rights and powers to remote and unaccountable businesses and government bureaucracies.  To the extent that special interest groups buy, rent, misuse or manipulate elected or appointed government officials, democracy is overridden.

The revival of the initiative, referendum and recall in states that provide for them, the passage of similar measures in other states, and the adoption of a national initiative and recall would reduce citizen apathy and quicken citizen involvement in public matters.

The Koupals worked indefatigably and selflessly to put the people back into democracy.  More than anyone else they revitalized the use of the initiative, referendum and recall and put these vital citizen tools back into the mainstream of state politics.  They exemplified the extraordinary citizen’s citizen.”


“Ordinay People…” Why on Nader’s Top Ten

Ordinary People Doing the Extraordinary, The Story of Edwin and Joyce Koupal, Founders of People’s Lobby.  By Dwayne Hunn and Doris Ober.      Ralph Nader’s take on the book was…

The Year’s (2009) Ten Best Books

Read, Then Act


This husband-wife team “just ordinary people,” in their words, started out powerless and in over a decade, largely in the seventies, built Initiative power to qualify reforms on the California ballot for the popular vote.  A story for the ages that strips away excuses steeped in a sense of powerlessness.  This small but invigorating paperback  can be obtained from The People’s Lobby ( www.peopleslobby.us ) for $13.00, shipping included in that price. Check to People’s Lobby, c/o Marlene Hunn 1817 California St., Unit 201, San Francisco , CA 94109, 415-673-0369.

You may call 415-673-0369 to order the book.

Print and mail this form or insert your own order form and where the book(s) should be sent with $13. per book.

Beyond a purchase, why not consider setting up a…

  • Talk about the book.
  • Tell fun stories about working with Ed and Joyce Koupal and how their People’s Lobby (PLI) revived the grassroots initiative process, including how they pulled Nader through PLI’s doors.
  • Discuss reforms being called for on the initiative process.
  • Explain how People’s Lobby’s (PLI) launched the drive to establish a national initiative process and held three days of Senate Judiciary Committee Hearings on Senate Joint Resolution 67 to do so.
  • Dissect the failed National Initiative for Democracy Campaign of 2002.
  • Reveal how 2008 presidential candidate and former U. S. Senator Mike Gravel milked PLI of over $450,000 dollars (not including the promissory note interest signed off on and written by Gravel).
  • Show some Power Point slides that touch on the above
  • Answer your questions about PLI’s present day activities.
  • Maybe opine on why Nader admired the Koupals so much.

Why might this book be of interest to you or your friends?  Because:

  • People’s Lobby was the grassroots initiative factory that used NON-PAID volunteers to qualify two Clean Environment Initiatives.
  • Prepared California and its Assembly to usher in an era of environmentalism by failing to pass two Clean Environment Initiatives into law.
  • Established California’s Fair Political Practices Commission by passing California’s Political Reform Act with 70% of the vote.
  • Beat BIG CORPORATE AND PR money in doing so.
  • Directed the 18 state Western Bloc Nuclear Moratorium Campaign, which in many ways demonstrated a national initiative process and educated the nation on the dangers of nuclear power.
  • Held three days of Senate Judiciary Committee Hearings on implementing a National Initiative Process (leading to Senate Joint Res. 67 of 1977).
  • Funded and field-directed the Maine 2002 National Initiative for Democracy Campaign kickoff.
  • Sponsors today’s American World Service Corps (AWSC) Congressional Proposals and Fair Tax Bracket Reinstitution Act Proposal (FTBRA).

So, consider bringing together some  people to gain insights into what Ralph Nader calls,

“This small but invigorating paperback….”

“A story for the ages that strips away excuses steeped in a sense of powerlessness. “

Learn how the Koupals’ People’s Lobby:

Used to lecture (and tick-off) not only Nader but also Jerry Brown and other political luminaries (Reagan, Roberti, Lowenstein…) and institutional powers such as PG&E, Southern California Edison, nuclear, oil, auto…who instituted special training programs on how to handle Edwin Koupal.

And is working today to implement its citizen-initiated:

American World Service Corps (AWSC) Congressional Proposals and Fair Tax Bracket Reinstitution Act Proposal (FTBRA) to revitalize America’s character, economy, and standing in the world.


‘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.

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.


Alaskan Lightening Bolts Twice at Supreme Court?

San Diego Review July 1, 1996

Alaskan Lightening Bolts Twice at Supreme Court?

By Dwayne Hunn

Certiorari  is  a Latin term which in English practice became a  writ commanding inferior courts to return records for review by a higher court.   In 1925 Congress enacted the Judiciary Act to help lessen the Supreme Court’s work load, so the Supreme Court now  receives 4,000 – 5,000 annual requests for “certiorari” hearings.

The Court grants certiorari  only “where there are special and important reasons therefor.”   This amount to 10 to 15 percent of the certiorari petitions received in a given year. Ninety percent of the cases decided  annually by the Supreme Court started as a  writ of certiorari.

The Court’s work calendar usually runs from October to the end of June.  Rarely does the Court work into July, as it did in 1971 and 1974 when the Court dealt with the Pentagon Papers case and Nixon tapes, respectively.

Rarely does an individual bring more than one certiorari  issue to the Court.  However, in late June of 1996,  25 years after he  first appealed to the Court to allow the Pentagon Papers, which Daniel Ellsberg had leaked to him,  to be published by Beacon Press,  former Alaskan Senator Mike Gravel  (1969-81) is again tying  to appear before the  Supreme Court as a litigant.

Why? Because in 1995 the Washington State Supreme Court supported  its Attorney General in saying that its citizens didn’t have the power  to vote on Philadelphia II, Gravel’s effort to establish a National Initiative process.  Gravel sees this as, “Effecting peoples ability to act within a federal format.  It denies their sovereignty as federal citizens.”

Thanks to Supreme Court Justice Sandra O’Connor, Mike Gravel has been given until June 29th to prepare his appeal for certiorari.  If he is successful in persuading the Court that this is as an important an issue as  his last Pentagon Paper appeal, then he will probably have 45 days to prepare a brief for the Court.  During those days a number of Yale scholars will  help him prepare and argue the case in the fall….  Even the Yale scholars, however,  think his chances of getting certiorari or  “certified” are thin.

Back in 1971 Gravel’s chances of beating the Nixon Justice Department were thinner than erased tape.  Nonetheless,  thanks to Gravel, Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers many are a lot smarter on war, peace and the innards of government than we ever will be on  magically erased  words on about 13 minutes of thin tape.

Don Quixote knew that  unless you mounted   your  sturdy stead and charged the windmill with lance in hand, you would never know whether you might stick one  of the monster’s spinning blades.  Once stuck, a good knight can go for one helluva ride.

Gravel may be tilting with a supreme windmill, but if he hits  a blade he’ll  pull  the country along for an enlightening  political ride.

Update:  The US Supreme Court denied certiorari on Philadelphia II vs. Gregoire.

California Memorial Resolution

A Memorial Resolution

by Senator David A. Roberti

The Senate

California Legislature

WHEREAS, It was with the most profound sorrow that the Members learned of the passing of a determined political activist and the founder of the Peoples Lobby, Mr. Edwin A. Koupal, on March 29, 1976, at the age of 48; and

WHEREAS, Mr. Koupal, who, together with his wife, Joyce, founded Peoples Lobby in 1968, transformed the organization into a powerful reform voice though the use of the initiative process, with the capstone of his efforts being the passing of proposition 9, the Fair Political Practices Act, by the voters of the state in 1974; and

WHEREAS, His first grassroots effort to qualify an initiative for the ballot was the Clean Environment Act of 1972, and he led the initiative drive for the upcoming June Primary ballot for nuclear safeguards, Proposition 15; and, at the time of his death, he was attempting to add the initiative and referendum process to the United States Constitution; and

WHEREAS, A native of Eugene, Oregon, Mr. Koupal was a graduate of Sacramento High School; worked as a bartender, car salesman, and chicken rancher; and got his political start when he and his wife attempted to put together a recall campaign against Governor Ronald Reagan; and

WHEREAS, In anticipation of the June 1976 Primary ballot, wherein Proposition 15 seeks to place a moratorium on nuclear power plant construction in California, he allied himself and Peoples Lobby with consumer advocate Ralph Nader to form a new organization called the Western Bloc, and he was in charge of gathering signatures for initiative petitions in six western states to put the nuclear initiative on the ballot; and

WHEREAS, He was one of the strongest advocates in a line of California reformers who have kept alive the promise of Hiram Johnson to make the government of the state accessible and open to the people of the state: and the courageous command he took of his last days was as much a source of strength to his family and friends as his death is a source of sorrow to all of us; now, therefore, be it

RESOLVED BY THE SENATE RULES COMMITTEE, That the members express their deepest sympathies at the passing of Mr. Edwin A. Koupal, an, by this resolution, memorialize his illustrious record of personal and professional achievement, his dedication to democracy and political reform and the love and devotion he displayed on behalf of his family and friends; and be it further

RESOLVED, That suitably prepared copies of this resolution be transmitted to his wife, Joyce and children, Christine, Diane and Cecil.

California Senator David Roberti

1975-76 SRCR 304/EDWIN KOUPAL in Senator Roberti’s archives.

“Dream bigger.”

Raising the nation’s public policy IQ…Adding the National Initiative to Democracy’s Toolbox.
People’s Lobby Newsletter – Special Issue – May/June 1976


BY DWAYNE HUNN,  Member of People’s Lobby 

“Dream bigger!”


Ed Koupal, fresh from failing to re­call Reagan in 1968, came into the smog­gy Los Angeles skies like a breath of fresh air. Out of their ramshackle house, he and his wife gave teach-ins while they learned of smog. Around them gathered a group of “Crazies” and from that mind track came the first successfully sponsored grassroots initiative in California’s history. Millions of oil and nuclear industry dollars defeated that initiative, but it only toughened the Koupals and their still “crazy” but “wiser” Lobby.

The “Crazies” worked harder, laughed louder at their nastier political jokes, and vowed deeper to get the vested interests out of the political process. Because Ed felt it deeper, cared more, and worked harder, he became the super crazy, the giant among the lion cubs. By election night in November of 1974 those crazies became a power to be reckoned with in the state. Their Political Reform Initiative won with the largest plurality in California history.

Most people will remember Ed Koupal for his political accomplishments — the Clean Environment Act, Political Reform Initiative, numerous lawsuits. They will remember him when they continue to hear of People’s Lobby, that group Whitaker and Baxter Ad Agency branded as “long haired, mosquito worshiping radicals” in full page ads in 1972 that by 1974 had earned the L. A. Times title of “blue jeaned populists.”

To hundreds of blue jeaned populists he was a loved father, friend, rabble rous­er, troublemaker and joker. His wicked, cutting jokes and his quick hands kept everyone laughing, on their toes, and sometimes embarrassed. His vocabulary could make Richard Nixon’s expletive de­leted tapes a Sunday sermon in compari­son. His insights, organizing, and energy excited one to the successes that are possible in a sick political system.

Ink and paper will never capture Ed Koupal. How does one capture a man who, with no name recognition or money, builds what Ralph Nader calls the “strongest grassroots political organiza­tion in the nation”? What was it in the man that brought tears to Governor Brown? What kind of man is it that keeps his cancer down and secret till the inevitable end because he has “too much to do and no time for dying”? What kind of man chooses to die on his own terms — without pain killing drugs and life support systems? How do you measure one who plays Benny Goodman tapes, drinks wine and cracks jokes in his last days and buoys the grieving around him? The concentrated economic powers, the vested interests, and jealous sniped at him till the end. In the confines of that hospital, he confessed how they could have taken him out of his crusades. “If they would have given me a 21 piece band to conduct, I would have been out of their hair the next day,” said the grinning, diehard Dorsey trumpeter.

Burly Ed Koupal is gone now. His legacy is the accomplishments and goals of People’s Lobby. It is the footprint he’s left in the butt of many politicians. It is the hope he’s given many that the system can be changed. It is the indelible impression he has left on the minds and hearts of hundreds who were privileged to rub shoulders with him “in the trenches – out in the streets, getting signatures – where the people are.”

I spent April 3rd listening to eulogies. Listened to Tom Quinn say, “I’ve heard people say, ‘Ed Koupal is crazy, obstinate, stubborn.’ I agree. I’ve heard them say, ‘He is the most demanding and just about the nastiest man.’ I agree. The special thing about Ed that makes that okay is that Ed Koupal cared. He cared enough to do something. If you care, do, and fight enough, you will accomplish something. Ed accomplished something and now Ed’s fight must be our fight, if we care.”

I listened to State Senator Roberti say, “If Ed were looking down now, he’d be wondering what we were doing. He’d want everyone here getting signatures. His message to each of us was to churn up hell, in our own way. Ed would rather see us doing that than this.”

Hijinio Romo repeated Ed’s parting words to Joyce, “We’ve got it made – you don’t have to cry.” That, however, has not held the tears back. Those who frequented his machine-strewn house knew the loss. The loss was one of God’s great, angry men.

Society lost more, if they never knew this giant who was fighting the good war for them. Society never got to rub shoulders with him. Those of us who did – we cry because we wanted more time for more of him to rub off on us.

Ed had no time for movies. Instead, his life was an award winning movie- riddled with excitement, vigor, and courage. Ed had no time for reading books. Instead, he lived so he knew more than any college professor I had ever met.

Koupal’s words should be captured in movies, in books, and for college professors. They show where Koupal was going and where he wanted to take you and I. Culled from Steering Board Meetings, from the circuit, from company – some of these words I’d like to share with you:

During one of People’s Lobby’s many financial straits:

“I’d rather put social justice in the bank than money.”

On coming back from setbacks:

“Grass keeps growing out of free­way cracks. If you don’t drive on it for three hours, it keeps trying to get through.”

Berating us at a Steering Board Meeting:

“Dream bigger. Think bigger, and things will get bigger. No room in a strong organization for devil’s advocacy. We need positivism.”

Nader introducing the Koupals at the 1974 Critical Mass Conference in Washington:

“The Koupals, who face adversity as children face chocolate ice cream.”

Between the defeat of the Clean En­vironment and the victory of the Political Reform Initiative:

“Success is failure analyzed. Success is staying power.”

Lecturing Steering Board on the need to keep a head of steam:

“If you don’t have any goals, anything to go for – you’ll go flat, go broke.”

On how Ed keeps his crusading energy:

“I get up in the morning and read the Times. I see some more people getting screwed, and I’m peeved and have to do something.”

On how People’s Lobby was and should be seen:

“The California Reporter wrote that anyone against Proposition 9 — People’s Lobby will investigate.  We’re known as bastards. We want that reputation. Want to be known as honest, but hard bas-­tards. That’s what they respect out there.”

On initiative campaigns:

“Doing good is like fighting a war. When it starts, you can’t leave the war for casualties. Nothing takes precedence.”

On public financing of elections:

“Politicians don’t trust the poor and needy – they give them food stamps. People’s Lobby suggests the same for politicians. Instead of giving them money, give them public services – give them media, office space, etc.”

On the victorious election night for the Political Reform Initiative, telegram sent to the opposition, the-Public Rela­tions Firm of  Whitaker and Baxter:

Dear Clem

The people have won. Couldn’t have done it without you. Thanks,

On KCBS, San Francisco, after the Political Reform Initiative was law:

“We voted political reform into law… We, we the voters of Cali­fornia, voted to clean up cam­paigning. Well, there are campaigns going on right now and nothing is being done to police them. The nuclear initiative campaign is run­ning in high gear and the oppo­nents of this thing are not follow­ing the law we voted in…

“The problem is Dan Lowenstein has the mind of a social worker… He believes you can reform these politicians, get them to be good… Well, we’ve been trying that since the days of Arti Samish and it hasn’t worked… What you need to do is throw a couple of these poli­ticians in jail… whomever they might be. Throw them in jail when they break the law and then you’ll see all those politicians reforming. Unfortunately, that requires more than the mind of a social worker — that takes the mind of a cop.”

On what’s wrong:

“Freedom to do your own thing is not ‘freedom’. What we need to insure freedom is accountability.

 “Our politicians confuse freedom with license. The proper business of business is business, not government. The proper business of people is government.”

On involvement:

Americans are conditioned… Conditioned to go to a movie for $2.50 a week. Yet they won’t give $100 a year to clean up politics.

 “Talk to groups with a mission in your mind, with blood in your eye. Living in this country isn’t free. If there is no accountability — there is license. Get that point across to them.”

On making points in the media:

“Don’t let your mouth overtake your mind. Talk of what you know. Talk slow and deliberately. Use as few words as possible to make your points”

Don Koch on Ed and Joyce Koupal and People’s Lobby:

“Ed and Joyce are a national resource – they are not mere humans. I challenge anyone to find anyone in the last 50 years who could’ve formed this lobby. It is fundamental democracy.

 “Don’t sell this country short. No country is capable of containing this fantastic notion that the Lobby has now. It’s involved in the second American Revolution. It’s a high stepping organization — but it’s not elitist because no one is good enough. It’s most serious requirement is money – we need  one-quarter to one-half  million dollars to swing this national initiative.

Ed again, on the national initiative:

“The erosion of public confidence is due to the misuse of money and power. We’re creating the missing institution in the U.S. We’re putting checks and balances between the legislature and the people.

 “Marking a ballot every couple years is absentee management. Therefore we need the national referendum, recall, and initiative to be passed on in sacred trust to be proficiently used.”

Ed’s often-heard parting instructions:

“Don’t let your meat loaf. We gotta get boogieen …… “

Many of us will remember Ed – his thick hands, his bushy white sideburns, his strong voice that always cut to the heart of the issue – “Let’s quit the bull-shit and get to it!” Many will remember he cared – not for himself with his two worn suits, holes in shoes, boiled potato dinners – but for a country “out there.” He wasted no time telling you he cared -he spent all of his time and energy proving it.

We loved you, Ed. We’ll miss you. Watch over your Joyce. Only in having had such a giant as you, could she carry the loss.


“Ed Koupal was a rare spirit who followed his vision with a joy and relentless energy that this practical world finds hard to understand.”

                                      Edmond G. Brown. Jr.  Governor


Raising the nation’s public policy IQ…Adding the National Initiative to Democracy’s Toolbox.
L.A. Times, April 2, 1976


Edwin Koupal, who with his wife founded the People’s Lobby, died of cancer Monday at the age of 48. Here, Tom Quinn, chairman of the California Air Resources Board and a key aide to Gov. Brown, assesses Koupal’s stormy career.

                                                                     By TOM QUINN

If Ed Koupal had stayed in the used-car business, he would have run Cal Worthington out of town. But Ed turned his attention in another direction. He became California’s biggest and most successful purveyor of direct democracy.

Ed took the initiative process that Gov. Hiram Johnson gave this state in 1911 and turned it into a fighting art form. More than any other individual, Koupal deserved credit for putting the Political Reform Initiative, Proposition 9, on the 1974 ballot. The Nuclear Safety Initiative, which will be voted on this June, is also Ed’s work.

Koupal made lots of enemies — oil companies, electrical utilities and probably most politicians — because he was usually bullheaded, abrasive, mean and loud-mouthed.

But he was damn effective, and that’s what he cared about.

He could also be a good friend. The men and women who worked with him at the People’s Lobby and those of us in government who had the pleasure, and sometimes pain, of dealing with him gained an enormous respect for Ed.

For example, after helping write Proposition 9, he planned the petition circulation drive to qualify it for a spot on the ballot. He recruited and organized the volun­teers, then personally gathered signatures. During the campaign, Ed often spent his daylight hours circulating petitions and devoted his evenings to fund-raising and organ­izing.

When Proposition 9 qualified for the ballot, Ed took over effective management of the campaign. It bothered him that Common Cause, rather than the People’s Lobby, was usually given credit for the initiative, but he pushed his personal irritation aside and went out and gathered endorsements and finally votes.

Koupal was too young, too strong and too alive to die. Fortunately, he left something of himself behind: the People’s Lobby, which, I suspect, will continue to thrive. Many of his critics used to take some comfort from the belief that Ed was the lobby, that his organization had no independent existence. But that myth would have faded quickly if Ed’s political opponents had visited the lobby’s busy headquarters on Olympic Blvd. in Los Angeles.

The first time I dropped by, Ed’s wife Joyce, gave me the grand tour. Downstairs: mail room, offices, switch­board and kitchen. Upstairs: living quarters for the Koupals, their family and anybody else who needed a place to sleep while working on lobby business. Outside in the old garage: the People’s Lobby press.

One night some time later, I visited again and found Ed, Joyce and a few others engaged in a discussion of nuclear power with consumer activist Ralph Nader, who was one of Ed’s close friends. It was getting late, and Nader had a plane to catch. Since I had a car with seat belts, I was drafted as chauffeur. Ed and Joyce came along for the ride, and after Nader caught his plane we stopped at a restaurant in the Marina for a late night snack.

After an hour or two, I suggested it might be time to head for home. Reluctantly, Ed agreed, though it was clear he would rather have talked all night. Koupal, you see, didn’t have time for sleep. He was obsessed with one goal: improving government. I sometimes disagreed with the way he charged after that objective, but I never had any doubt about his sincerity or ability.

Neither did Nader, who asked Ed to put together the Western Bloc, a group formed to sponsor initiative campaigns against nuclear power in the Western states.

Ed Koupal may not have always been right, but he was consistently honest and effective. He touched and probably improved the lives of millions of Californians who have nev­er heard of him.

We should all be grateful that he decided to sell initiatives instead of used cars.

L.A. Times, 4/2/76


L.A. Times March 30, 1976


BY AL MARTINEZ  Times Staff Writer

Edwin Koupal, whose People’s Lobby gave voice to the voiceless through the initiative process, died Monday. He was 48.

Death came quietly in a hospital bed to the big and determined political acti­vist, who had been described as “one of God’s angry men.”

Koupal had been suffering from can­cer, and on Sunday night decided he wanted no further oxygen or intravenous treatment.

With him at the time was his wife of 27 years, Joyce, and a friend, Faith Keating.

“He told us not to cry,” Ms. Keating said. “He said he was satisfied with what he had done and what he had stood for. We played Benny Goodman tapes and drank wine.

“He didn’t even die like anyone else.”

Koupal — ex-bartender, ex-used car salesman and ex-chicken rancher founded People’s Lobby in 1968 with his wife, and together they turned the initiative process into a grassroots force that California had never seen before.

They sent an army of mostly young volunteers into the field in 1972 to gather 339,000 signatures and qualify the Clean Environment Act for the ballot.

Koupal hailed it as “the first successful grass-roots initiative campaign in history” — a campaign devoid of special interest money.

The issue, Proposition 9, went down to defeat, but it clearly established the lobby as a force to be reckoned with.

Two years later-and now boasting 20,000 members — the Koupal organization joined with Common Cause to qual­ify a political reform initiative for the bal­lot, and it won.

In the months before his death, Koupal was pursuing yet another goal — establishment of a national safe energy initiative campaign.

He and his wife had hammered out the platform of an organization called Western Bloc and had already qualified the proposition in California, Oregon and Colorado.

Koupal was a determined and effective campaigner whose passion for causes often led him against the mainstream.

Gov. Brown said Monday Koupal “was a rare spirit who followed his vision with a joy and relentless energy that this practical world finds hard to understand.”

Koupal had worked closely with then-Secretary of State Brown on the political reform initiative, a campaign that more than any other brought Koupal and People’s Lobby into strident visibility.

He was a man of abundant drive, and those in his way found themselves in the path of a  hurricane.

“I never met anyone quite like Ed,” said Thomas Quinn, chairman of the state Air Resources Board and former assistant secretary of state under Brown.

“He was a strong human being, a dynamo, and he made gathering signatures an art. To him, the petition was the highest form of democracy, the way people could control government.”

Quinn said that when the political reform initiative campaign began, he wanted Common Cause involved in order “to keep those crazy Koupals in line. But over the months I learned that it was the Koupals who kept the campaign in line.

“Without Ed, victory could not have happened.”

Quinn and others thought Koupal brought the techniques of a salesman to politics and used them with conscience and wit.

“He became angry,” Quinn said, “when that process was perverted and told his petition-gatherers to always be honest. But he would also show me what he had learned as a used car salesman.

“When you handed someone a clip­board to sign a petition, you handed it to him at an angle so that the pen rolled into his hand. Once they had the pen, they almost always signed.”

During the course of the initiative campaign, People’s Lobby and Common Cause were often at each other’s throats.

Common Cause was slow and deliberate in its efforts, and People’s Lobby — led by the hard-charging Koupals — was an earthquake.

Koupal would angrily storm out of meetings between the two organizations during the drafting of the initiative.

A third party said at the time: “Ed is a horse trader. When he threatens to walk out he’s just bargaining. It is irritating but effective…”

Koupal was born in Eugene, Ore. In 1964, he moved his family to Sacramento and to his first confrontation with the Establishment.

“We found,” he told the press, “that we were paying for sewers, sidewalks and streets that we didn’t have. On looking further, we also found that seven houses which did have these things didn’t have to pay for them.”

The Koupals went to court to fight an oil company’s threatened takeover of their sewer district, won, and were on their way.

A short time later, they tried to re­call then-Gov. Ronald Reagan and failed.

But then People’s Lobby was born, and the Koupals’ energies ever since were concentrated on that.

What the lobby became, by one definition, was “not an organization, but two people — Ed and Joyce — with a lot of true believers who follow an honest passion for political reform…”

Koupal, among his last words to his wife, said it differently. He said, “We’ve got it made.”

He also leaves three children, Cecil, Christine and Diane. Funeral services were pending Monday.

His requiem is encompassed in an observation by Tom Quinn.

“What we have here,” he said, “is the death of a salesman . . . in the best sense of the word.”


“He worked indefatigably and selflessly to put the people back into democracy. More than anyone else he has revitalized the use of the initiative, referendum and recall and put these vital citizen tools back into the mainstream of state politics. He was a citizen’s citizen.”

Ralph Nader