Meeting Minutes from inSPIRE Social on March 31, 2007 

We had our third social event of 2007 at Jim's house in Seward Park. We had a nice turnout with over thirty guests to hear our guest speakers, Marcee Stone and Linda Boyd. Thanks so much to Jim for opening up his home!

First Keynote Speaker, Marcee Stone, Secretary and Chair of the Major Donor Committee for Washington Public Campaigns (WPC)

Marcee talked in depth and showed a PowerPoint presentation on the state of our electoral process today, with a focus on the impact of the campaign contribution process.

To put it bluntly, our government is for sale. Politicians focusing on campaign contributions and playing the game to get elected has polluted our electoral process. This process has resulted in a situation of corporations having extreme leverage over elected officials, which has given corporations the ability to bring fully drafted legislation proposals to legislators they have supported, and these legislators willingly agreeing to submitting this proposed legislation in an urgent fashion. In effect, corporations have been enabled to manage legislation to fit their corporate needs through the "buying" of elected officials.

The 2008 presidential race is forecast to exceed over $1 billion (that's over $1,000,000,000) in campaign costs! Money is clearly driving our electoral process.

How can this huge influencing factor of money in elections be countered? Through publicly funded elections. This is what Marcee and her organization Washington Public Campaigns have been working towards.

Publicly funded elections were passed in 2000 through the initiative process in Arizona and Maine. In Arizona the funding comes from directed taxes and surcharges. In Maine the funding for elections comes out of the general state funds. In both states the process is working tremendously well. Connecticut also passed publicly funded elections through their state legislature, but sadly this effort never then received the necessary funding.

There are many benefits to publicly funded elections. Not being beholden to big money for re-election, politicians can freely ignore the constant press of lobbyists. Laws can be passed based on public need rather than on requirements to win elections. Publicly funded elections bring in many more people into public discussion and our election process. In Arizona, voter turnout increased by 25% after elections became publicly funded! Competition for office is increased. Many more people are inspired and enabled to run for office, including a much more diverse make-up of candidates. Incumbents, who today are very much advantaged in an elections, are more fairly challenged, forcing politicians to focus more on the impact of their political actions on the people they represent rather than on their big donors.

Effectively, this clean election process enables elected officials to "get stuff done". Special interests can be stared down. Important bills on critical subjects have a much greater opportunity to be drafted, fairly debated and passed. Today, members of Congress in Washington DC spend approximately 2.5 days every week fundraising, which severely limits their ability to focus on legislation.

Ironically, businesses can also avoid being coerced into the political process. Today business frequently finds it necessary to provide financial support to many candidates and issues or face negative consequences. This pressure would be removed.

If adopted by our state, using pubic funds to run for office would not be mandatory. A candidate could choose the traditional route of privately funded campaigns. The mechanics of this new process would require candidates that choose to go the publicly funded route to seek constituent support of their campaign through $5.00 donations and signatures. When a required number of signatures are gathered, the candidate would receive a set amount of public funds to be used for campaigning. Once more signatures are gathered, more public funds are received. If a publicly funded candidate is competing against a privately funded candidate, public funding is provided to insure fair competition. This includes if the privately funded candidate gets "outside support" such as in the case of "Swift Boat Ads" that John Kerry faced. I.E., when outside money comes in, it can be countered.

The cost to taxpayers to publicly fund state elections is relatively low. Marcee's organization estimates the cost beginning at approximately $3.66 per state resident per year, but as time goes on, this cost could decline, as it has done in Arizona and Maine.

In Maine, three quarters of the state houses ran and won using Clean Elections. In Arizona, ten out of eleven statewide office holders ran and won using Clean Elections. These results are evidence that the process works and that publicly funded candidates are not severely disadvantaged against privately funded opponents.

Marcee's organization Washington Public Campaigns has engaged in a multifaceted approach in pursuing this cause. Incorporated in 2003, they have grown to over 2,300 members. Their key method for moving this cause forward is through public education efforts to create an effective citizens lobbying group. In January 2007 they sponsored four Town Hall Forums with a panel including elected representatives from Arizona and Maine. This forum was extremely well received.

inSPIRE member State Senator Eric Oemig introduced the Governor s judicial bill into the Washington State Senate this year. Other bills (the comprehensive bill and the local bill) were introduced by Representative Shay Schual-Berke, Rep. Joe McDermott, Rep. Mark Miloscia and Senator Jim Kastama for public financing. Unfortunately, these died in committee or were removed from the floor. The next step offered by the legislature was to fund an official study of publicly funded judicial races, but the funding request of $150,000 may not be granted. Opponents have been working hard against these efforts. For more information on WPC s legislative efforts, please see the website.

Marcee believes that eventual success will probably be achieved through the initiative process, possibly in 2009.

If inSPIRE members want to become involved in these efforts, Marcee encourages us to join WPC ( WPC is always trying to do more towards public awareness in regards to this issue, and is seeking contributions to assist in this effort ( People are encouraged to hold house parties and have speakers such as Marcee come and inform the guest as to how important this issue is. Marcee also encourages us to contact our legislators to voice our support for publicly funded elections (see specific bill numbers above). Go to and just type in your zip code to find your district number and the contact info for your representatives. It's best to go visit them, but at a minimum call them. Also, Marcee encourages people to write letters to our newspapers.

Second Keynote Speaker, Linda Boyd, Director of Washington For Impeachment and Eastside Fellowship for Reconciliation (EFOR):

Linda spoke about the urgent need to impeach President Bush and Vice President Cheney. She said we need to impeach to reinstate the constitution, and restore the rule of law in this country. Even if war ended tomorrow, we would need to impeach to ensure that future presidents do not abuse their powers.

Since September 12, 2001 the United States has been officially in a state of emergency which gives our president, George W. Bush special emergency powers. This State of Emergency has enabled President Bush to aggrandize his powers at the expense of the Constitution. The Bush Administration has worked hard keep Americans fearful since the attacks of September 11th, to shut down the political dialogue and dissent that would counter the Bush program.

Bush has referred to himself as "The Unitary President". This term is not anywhere in the constitution, and is a euphemism for the words tyrant and dictator. The Patriot Act and The Military Commissions act have dangerously eroded our Constitution, disabling our system of checks and balances. The Executive office has arrogated power from both the Congress and the Courts. Right now our 1st, 4th, 5th, 6th, and 8th Amendment rights are seriously eroded. It's especially grave that testimony coerced by torture is now admissible in US courts. We have a constitution in crisis, and Americans will have to fight to get it back.

Habeas Corpus is Latin, meaning "to have the body" This rule is over 800 years old, and comes to America through the British legal tradition. Habeus Corpus says there has to be a legal cause for a person to be held, that they must be formally charged and given due process. Under the Bush Administration, we have lost our right to Habeas Corpus.

Linda pointed out the the US Constitution has served us for about 300 years, and Habeus Corpus for 800 years, so protecting them is not a radical idea. Destroying these laws is radical and dangerous. Without a working Constitution and rule of law, our government is illegitimate.

Linda has never before been an activist organizer at this level . Her son was an infant at the time of the September 11th 2001 attacks. She feared that the aftermath to 911 would overshadow her son's life. After years of rising horror about the actions of the Bush Administration, Linda went to see a film, "Articles of Impeachment" and was so inspired by it that she immediately ordered 50 copies of the book and film, and got to work. This has included public education, writing an impeachment petition, gathering signatures, and lobbying. She has been joined by many activists in this effort, and has tapped into a huge groundswell of discontent about our government. This campaign has created a peaceful and legal way for people to stop this administration's abuse of power and threats to our Democracy.

There are four articles of impeachment on EFOR's petition to impeach George W. Bush and Dick Cheney. First is the illegal wire-tapping of American citizens, a felony under the FISA act. Bush committed fraud against Congress when he lied about it. Second is the fraud they committed when lying about the reasons for leading America into war with Iraq. Bush breached international treaties by starting the war and has committed war crimes. Third is that President Bush condones torture and extraordinary rendition, these are crimes against humanity, and breaches of international treaty. Fourth is their disdain for the law. This includes extensive use of Presidential signing statements, subverting the Constitution, removing Habeus Corpus and eroding civil liberties.

The campaign to impeach has grown rapidly because the public is outraged by government abuse. Linda was asked to become Director of the EFOR, and Washington For Impeachment was created. They gathered over 20,000 signatures on their petitions. inSPIRE member Eric Oemig agreed to sponsor a bill in the State Senate and successfully recruited eight other state senators to co-sponsor the Senate Joint Memorial seeking investigations of Bush and Cheney.

When EFOR held it's press conference in Bellevue to announce Eric Oemig's sponsorship, over 130 vocal supporters packed the room. Linda thought the size and passion of the crowd surprised Eric, and was the the first of many surprises. As expected, Republicans were against impeachment. It was surprising was that certain Democratic leaders lobbied hard against the impeachment effort. Congressman Jay Inslee and Senator Patty Murray lobbied against 8016, and asked State Senators to cancel the scheduled hearing for SJM 8016. They claimed that the impeachment should not be pursued at the State level, that it would divide the party, and that it would keep Democrats from doing their good work— for the next two years. Their not so good work— fighting the impeachment effort prevented the support of many Democrats in Olympia, and killed the companion bill in the House. Over 800 people showed up in Olympia to attend the Constitutional Crisis— event. On March 1st, a rally for 500 was held on the capitol steps, and impeachment supporters packed the Senate hearing room, and filled the overflow room with another 320 people. inSPIRE member Randy Gordon gave expert testimony at the hearing, as well as Colonel Ann Wright, Mayor Rocky Anderson, and Phil Burk. On March 18th, Eric and Linda spoke before an antiwar crowd of 3,000 at the ANSWER rally, commemorating the 4th years of war in Iraq, and calling for impeachment.

SJM 8016 has not moved out of committee. A debate on the issue of impeachment and the war is expected, date TBA. If SJM 8016 is passed, it will be sent to the floor of the House of Representatives, where it should initiate a debate about impeachment on the floor of the House, and encourage a Representative to Congress to rise to impeach. To date, seven other states have similar memorials: California, New Mexico, Vermont, Minnesota, New Mexico, Missouri, and Texas.

Eric, Linda, and other organizers for impeachment met privately with Ohio Congressman and Presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich. Kucinich expressed his admiration that the Washington For Impeachment efforts are highly principled, and focused on the constitution, rather than anger. He requested that we continue to create a groundswell of support for impeachment around the country, and send all resolutions in circulation to him, to strengthen his work towards impeachment. Impeachment is not off the table—.

Linda fielded questions and concerns. Someone asked what if we get Dick Cheney after impeachment? SJM 8016 seeks impeachment of BOTH Bush and Cheney, and investigations would implicate both. Someone expressed concern that impeachment efforts might keep Democrats from promoting good progressive policies . Linda stated that in reality, good progressive policies will likely face a veto by Bush, thus Progressive's need to impeach Bush to make headway. Most of the work of impeachment happens in committee, and the other work of Congress would carry on. Another concern is that impeachment might distract from efforts to end war in Iraq. Linda pointed out that this is a moot point, since Congress has just funded the war through the end of Bush's term, and hasn't asked for a pullout before 2008. Congress has failed to stop the war in Iraq. The best way to end this war is to impeach.

Linda believes that Democratic Party leadership wants to defeat impeachment efforts to insure Democrats a presidential victory in 2008. The war delivered Democratic votes in 2006. Dem's are betting that continued war will deliver a presidential victory in 2008. Linda is appalled by these priorities because every day people are detained, tortured and killed, and our constitution is deeper in crisis. A recent Newsweek poll showed that 58% of Americans support impeachment.

Linda indicated that impeachment is the first step necessary to restore Democracy. The second step is obtaining a clean and fair election process, as discussed by our first speaker Marcee Stone, and would include using paper ballots. The third step to end the abuses of corporate personhood.

A lively discussion ensued amongst our inSPIRE members regarding impeachment. Although no one voiced any support or defense of Bush and Cheney, many members indicated they were not convinced this was an effective strategy to employ. Although lively, this very civil discussion made showed our membership's respect for our "rules of engagement" with these social events, respecting the point of view of others and not engaging in political arguments during our formal discussions.

Linda encouraged inSPIRE members to remain active in regards to impeachment and to assist in the efforts of the Washington For Impeachment. Details on this process, information on becoming active and contributing can be found at Washington For Impeachment.

Many thanks to Marcee Stone and Linda Boyd for their informative and important talks!

Other announcements

Refurbishment of the Statue of Liberty at Alki Beach Libby, our birthday girl this Saturday evening (Happy Birthday to Libby from inSPIRE!) announced her efforts in regards to the refurbishment of the Statue of Liberty on Alki Beach.

A replica of the Statue of Liberty was placed at Alki Beach in 1952 by the Sea Scouts (Boy Scouts) as part of a national project celebrating their 40th anniversary of Scouting. This was just one of over 200 smaller Statues of Liberty placed in towns and cities in 39 states and 4 US territories/possessions (Canal Zone, Puerto Rico, Guam and the Philippines). Over the years, our statue at Alki had fallen into disrepair and badly needed mending. Two years ago, the Northwest Program for the Arts took the initiative to restore Lady Liberty by raising money to cast a new bronze statue and create a newly designed park area for her at Alki Beach. We are now ready to start Phase II (statue/base installation and plaza construction) and hope to complete this project with a grand unveiling ceremony sometime next year. Stay tuned through these Potluck Reports and also thru the new inSPIRE website to learn how you can buy a brick - or otherwise contribute to this exciting project. The 100th anniversary of Scouting is coming up in 2 years and we hope to help inspire and be a part of restoring the Little Sisters of Lady Liberty across the country.

April 18th Westlake Student Demonstration Jacque announced that a large student anti-war demonstration, including efforts to remove military recruiters from school campuses, will be happening on April 18th.

inSPIRE Book Club! We will be discussing Greed, Inc. by Wade Rowland at book club on Wednesday, May 2nd.

See you at the next inSPIRE meeting!


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Speakers Linda Boyd and Marcee Stone chat with Bill Alford.

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