Newsletter #9, June 2014

IT’S TIME TO CELEBRATE  to Get Big Money Out of Politics!

logo-header-4 Awards Dinner

WE WANT YOU to CELEBRATE WITH US and our special speaker, FRAN KORTEN!  WPC’s Awards Dinner, June 28th!

Fran Korten, publisher of YES! Magazine, a writer, thinker, and social change agent is one of our HEROES.  Based on Bainbridge Island, she leverages the ideas in YES! to inspire deep shifts at every level of society.  YES!  reframes the biggest problems of our time in terms of their solutions.  Come meet Fran and be inspired to action by her insights and passion.

It’s time to recognize other pro-democracy champions and get the latest report from the WAmend Coalition.  Partake of a great dinner, desserts, drink, live jazz, and stimulating, like-minded folks. We have a few other surprises in store – don’t miss it!
Questions?  Email alice@washclean.org

Progress in the U.S. Senate Towards a Constitutional Amendment

White House For Sale.from.Debbieby Evelyn McChesney

The US Senate Judiciary Committee held a historic hearing on June 3, 2014: the first hearing on a proposed constitutional amendment to overturn the results of the Supreme Court cases that have vastly increased the power of wealthy donors in elections, thereby drowning voices of the voters. Senator Patrick Leahy, Chairman of the Committee, opened the hearing with the following words:
” This morning the Senate Judiciary Committee begins its consideration of a constitutional amendment to repair the damage done by a series of flawed Supreme Court decisions that overturned longstanding precedent and eviscerated campaign finance laws.  Left unanswered, these rulings will continue to erode fundamental aspects of our democratic process.  It is time for Congress and the American people to act.”

Read More, including Guest Editorial by Jim Street
Public Financing of Campaigns in Tacoma? It’s Possible!

Tacoma-city-Logo-3by Susan Eidenschink

The City of Tacoma is in the process of a Charter Review, which takes place every ten years.  During this year’s review process public financing of campaigns was introduced, but not recommended by the review board.  However, two Tacoma City Council Members, David Boe and Marty Campbell, proposed the option of public financing of the campaigns for the mayor and city council members.  An article outlining this proposal and a letter to the editor in support of this proposal was published in The News Tribune in early June. At a public hearing on June 10, ten people testified in favor of public financing of campaigns in Tacoma City government, and no one testified in opposition. Tacoma’s City Council will determine the charter amendments to be placed on the November 2014 ballot soon.
Signature Gathering-Fun & Frustrating Update on I-1329

woman gathering signaturesby Ken Dammand

Working on Initiative 1329, from its creation and through the signature gathering process has been an interesting experience. Many dedicated people have given thousands of hours to the project. As of June 19th we have over 130,000 signatures with many more “in the pipeline!”  While this is aways from the number needed by July 3rd to get it on the ballot, it is nonetheless an impressive accomplishment.  Thousands of volunteer “person hours” standing in various gathering places have made a couple of things quite obvious.

First, and most encouraging, is that among those citizens who will stop to find out about Initiative 1329, roughly 80% agree and will sign the initiative.  Those who are still paying attention understand that the current system enables corporations and ultra-wealthy individuals to demand government policies that favor their interests over the common good.  The not-so-encouraging observation is that many people have become so discouraged or lazy that they regard petition gatherers as a nuisance rather than an opportunity to play their role as a citizen living in a democracy.  All in all, however, most of the interactions are supportive or at least interesting.

Win, lose, or draw as far as getting this on the ballot, we will use the number of signatures gathered as evidence of wide support for correcting the problem of money in politics.  We’ll continue our efforts to get the Washington State legislature to act on our behalf.  Being able to report that a relatively small number of volunteers were able to gather thousands of signatures should be very impressive.

If you happen to be among the many individuals who have taken petitions but have not yet returned them to the address on the bottom of the petition, please make a last effort to obtain signatures from your friends and neighbors, then send the petition sheets in by the end of the month.
Documenting the Rule of Oligarchy in America

by Phil Harrison

Although we all suspect that politics is largely dominated by wealthy interests, a recent study by professors Gilens and Page from Princeton and Northwestern University backs up this notion with data. Their study was based on a review of survey data collected over the years 1981 to 2002 in which people  were asked about 1,779 national policy preferences. The researchers then checked the historical record to see which policies were actually adopted and who favored them.

It is no surprise that the results showed policy decisions followed the preferences of the wealthy and the “estimated impact of average citizens’ preferences drops precipitously, to a … near-zero level.”  Even if a majority of Americans favored a particular policy change, it would not be adopted unless it was also favored by the elite.

The study has generated considerable commentary on the web and you can read more about it at:
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/04/15/government-wealthy-study_n_5154879.html

http://talkingpointsmemo.com/dc/princeton-scholar-demise-of-democracy-america-tpm-interview

 

The People’s Pledge Campaign: A Warren vs Brown Experiment

brandeis.quoteby Evelyn McChesney

Elizabeth Warren and Scott Brown negotiated an agreement in their Massachusetts Senate Race in 2012 that has come to be known as “The People’s Pledge.”  They agreed to reject outside advertisements on their behalf, stating that the candidates would “work together to limit the influence of third party advertisements.” If such an ad aired on television, radio, or in print, the candidate benefiting from the ad would donate, from their own campaign account, half the cost of the advertisement to a charity of the opposing candidate’s choice. In their Senate race in 2012, the Pledge worked and Scott Brown paid for two small ad buys by contributing to Elizabeth Warren’s charities.

Since 2012 “The People’s Pledge” has most often been used to advertise the fact that the opposing candidate refused to sign the pledge!  It makes a wonderful public challenge.  Candidates have used a refusal to participate in very creative ways.

Click here for more details:  http://www.peoplespledge2014.org