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Petition Conventions -- Giving Teeth to Grassroots Politics

Recently the state of Washington enacted a Cap and Tax bill based on Al Gore's fantasies in the face of 40 tea parties all over the state. I am organizing an effort to get these appealed through the referendum process through a process I am calling "Petition Conventions." The idea is to bring economies of scale to grassroots politics to get measures on the ballot, bypassing politicians. This is a pilot project in the state of Washington, but if you are interested in other parts of the country I encourage you to do something similar. I also encourage you to let as many people know about this process (particularly, if they are in Washington State). Below is the letter I am sending out to people in Washington, if you are interested in the process (for more information see www.arminarm.org/petition).

People of the State of Washington,

If you have not heard, the "representatives" in Olympia passed two very controversial pieces of legislation over the past couple days,
apparently ignoring immense calls for change at "Tea Parties" hosted across the state:

4/14/09 They passed SB 5735 "Reducing greenhouse gas omissions." which is more appropriately called the Cap and Tax bill
Details at
4/15/09 They passed SB 5688 "Expanding the rights and responsibilities of state registered domestic partners."
Details at http://apps.leg.wa.gov/billinfo/summary.aspx?bill=5688&year=...

Both of these pieces of legislation are not likely to be popular with the citizens of the state of Washington. I will remind everyone that even California voters rejected state-sponsored gay marriage, and I doubt many voters are thrilled with the idea of paying higher taxes on energy in this economy to indulge the fantasies of one Al Gore. I believe that the people deserve a say as to whether they become law whatever their ultimate opinion on the issue.

Olympia has been getting away with murder for years without being challenged by the people. They have taken a surplus and in a few short years generated a larger per capita deficit than the state of California. The people have not challenged a piece of Washington state legislation in seven years. I believe this is the year we have to change this.

It only takes 120,577 valid signatures in the state of Washington to get ANY bill (excluding emergency actions) they pass up for challenge by the voters. That is only 1.8% of the population of the state, and citizens have until July 3rd to accomplish it. I believe that there are going to be MORE THAN ENOUGH angry voters willing to participate in the first referendum challenge in years. By the way, under Washington's Constitution we also have the ability to put up for referendum any PART of a bill that we object to. Do you think we out to take some appropriations bills and strip them of taxpayer wasting pork projects?

In fact, what I am proposing is that we use the potential firestorm of public interest in these issues as well as the overall inability of their political leaders to listen over the last nine months to propose alongside referendum challenges a variety of initiatives the politicians in Olympia refuse to even let out of committee. What I am proposing is a number of petition conventions across the state where we bring a large variety of issues to the voters. Potential ideas might include

1. A state sovereignty amendment
2. An act making the National Animal Identification System voluntary
3. A bill which cuts Olympia's pet pork projects to restore various
important services cut in the budget to try to compel the voters into
approving tax increases
The potential list is limited by only the imagination and the participation of our people.

Initiative Petitions require double the number of signatures, which I believe can easily be achieved given what I expect to be broad interest in citizens signing petitions to submit bills like SB 5725 and SB 5688 to a vote of the people. If you are really sick of what is going on in government, NOW is your chance to fight back without needing to get a new candidate into office. It is time to show the political class that the people mean business and the Tea Parties handled around the country were not just a lot of hot air!

I am envisioning a nonpartisan grassroots effort to get this going. We welcome sponsorship or publicity for this series of petition conventions from any and all organizations and are open to any and all potential initiative measures and referendum challenges. This is the people's petition convention, not that of any particular party or special interest group! What we are trying to do is bring economies of scale to the initiative process. We have a social network site (http://www.arminarm.org/network) which can be used for the process of collaboration statewide on this project. It is my current estimate that we need 300 volunteers spread across the state to make the referendum process work, and probably at least 600 to make the initiative process work (based on a 500 signatures per volunteer estimate). We will not ask anyone to do anything if we do not get at least 300 volunteers, because we do not want to waste anyone's time--so do not be dissuaded from volunteering worrying you will spend weekend or so on a project that has no chance of working. I am hoping, however, there are enough people who want to get involved that we have no problem even reaching the 600 mark, and hopefully many more!

Even if you do not want to volunteer, we want your feedback as far as what initiatives you want to see and ultimately signatures towards the issues you believe in. We also ask you to pass this along to everyone you know as getting the word out on this project is crucial to making it work. I see this as a dry run for what will be a substantially larger petition convention event in 2010 and beyond when we have more time to organize (and thus many, many more bills put to the ballot—effectively bypassing the politicians). Ultimately I want this project to serve as a model for states all over the country. For more information on this project go to our website http://arminarm.org/petition where you can also join our network to participate in the process. Please note for those worried about being spammed with emails, our network is separate and distinct from our email list (which you can be added to by hitting the "Join our mailing list!" button to the left on our homepage) and you can chose to receive only those updates you want from the network via email. If you want to volunteer but are unfamiliar with how to use social networks, send me an email at administrator@arminarm.org. We are also hosting a conference call to discuss this project on Sunday, April 19 at 7 PM EST (Phone Number: (724) 444-7444 Call ID : 43848).

Thanks, for your time. And, remember, with your help, we can take back power from the politicians in Olympia!

Arm in Arm