A Ballot Committee of
Citizens for Limited Taxation & Government
PO Box 408 * Peabody, MA 01960
Phone:(617) 248-0022 * E-Mail: cltg@cltg.org
Visit our web-page at: http://cltg.org
*** Promise Update ***
Monday, March 30, 1998

Greetings activists and supporters:

Today we are filing with Suffolk Superior Court our defense of the signatures the Teachers Union is challenging along with all our supporting documentation that we’ve committed the past few months or our lives around the clock to producing, as well as the signatures we’ve found that should have been certified by the city and town registrars but weren’t.  Here’s the score as we see it stand now:

With what we lost the state Ballot Law Commission, mostly signatures of either a husband or wife who signed for the other, we are 356 signatures below the required 64,928.

We are "conceding" 263 signatures that were certified but which we have been unable to find belong to a registered voter.

That puts us down 619 signatures below what we need to qualify for the ballot.

We will contest the remaining 821 signatures being attacked by the teachers because we have been able to identify the voter in the Secretary of State’s Central Voter Registry (CVR) or by other means; of those, we have 150 sure signatures according to city or town voter registration cards.

We will be challenging to add almost 2,000 signatures that should have been certified, but were not, which we have identified as being those of registered voters according to the Secretary of State’s CVR.

The oral arguments will be begin being heard on next Monday.

Along with all our briefs and documentation, I also filed the following affidavit, which I think sums up the situation as well as it can be done — and also sets us up for damages against the Teachers Union when we win!

Go get those b*****ds, Steve!

Chip Ford—


SUFFOLK, SS                                                            SUPERIOR COURT
                                                                       CIVIL ACTION NOS.
                Plaintiffs   )
v.                           )
SECRETARY OF THE             )
COMMONWEALTH OF              )
MASSACHUSETTS,               )
                Defendant.   )



I, Robert "Chip" Ford upon oath depose and state:

1.     I am one of the original ten signers of our initiative petition and reside at 22 Franklin St., Apartment 1, Peabody,  Massachusetts.

2.     I am co-director of Citizens for Limited Taxation & Government and have been since November of 1996. I am also co-chairman of its ballot committee, A Promise to Keep: 5%, and have been since July of 1997.

3.     A Promise to Keep: 5% raised $45,057.00 from 1,586 contributors for all of 1997; the average contribution was under $30.00. The committee spent $40,614.70 for our entire statewide signature drive and, due to additional costs incurred in December by this challenge, carried a liability of $15,025.05 at the close of the year. Except for our four paid staffers, the signature collection was accomplished entirely and exclusively by citizen volunteers.

4.     I have organized and served as state coordinator for six statewide initiative or referenda signature drives since 1986, and have served as an advisor or consultant to other signature drives.

5.     I obtained a CD-ROM copy of the Secretary of State’s Central Voter Registry (CVR) database in mid-December and converted it into a format usable by our volunteers and us. I designed our database program, based on the Microsoft Access database application program, for using this massive amount of data (some 3.5 million voter records, and over 600 megabytes in its original form). Because of its size, only my computer was capable of storing and handling the entire database.

6.     Because of the massive scope of our opponents’ challenge, I designed our master database program with the capability of being broken down into separate county databases and later re-merged, so we could provide our computer-literate volunteers with a manageable amount of complete and accurate data in a size and format that was usable by them. This task would have been impossible to accomplish without their help.

7.     The data we supply to this court is exactly as it appears in the Secretary of State’s CVR database. This is in contrast to data provided by our opponents, in which we have found typographical errors that do not appear in the Secretary’s.

8.     I have worked on this project in various capacities, but have personally overseen and coordinated all data entry and recovery, requiring of me some eighty to one hundred hours every week since mid-December.

9.     We have four paid staffers, who have all worked unconscionably long hours each week since mid-December, but we never would have gotten this far without the selfless work of a score of volunteers across the state and the hundreds upon hundreds of hours that they too have contributed since our opponents filed their challenge and objections.

10.    One of the opponents, Jim St. George of the Tax Equity Alliance of Massachusetts, was quoted in the March 9, 1998 issue of Beacon Hill as stating:   "This kind of a court case isn’t cheap, but from our funders’ perspective, it’s a hell of a lot cheaper than running a campaign for 10 months."

11.    We are seriously concerned for the future of the citizens right to the initiative and referendum process.

12.    It has become apparent that collecting the number of signatures required under Article 48 of the Massachusetts Constitution is only the entry fee to a legal challenge and months of calculated legal harassment by bankrolled opponents of the proposed measure.

13.    Though it cost our organization $40,000.00 and almost three months of ceaseless work by our staff and hundreds of volunteers to complete a statewide signature drive, it will cost far more to defend against this challenge and these objections. If we prevail, we will need to collect more signatures, which no doubt will again be challenged regardless of the number.

14.    In 1996, another of our initiative petitions was frivolously challenged before the state Ballot Law Commission on the grounds that we had "altered, mutilated, or defaced" our own petition when we hand-stamped in red ink our return address in a blank white spot at the top of each petition form. This tied us up for weeks and cost us tens of thousands of our donors’ dollars in legal and other expenses. In the end, the Commission unanimously ruled that the charge was frivolous and threw it out.

15.    Frivolous certainly, but it was an unnecessary financial and labor hardship upon us and our volunteers. Our opponents had at least accomplished one of their apparent objectives.

16.    They too had made a calculated investment and, as our present opponents have said of this case before you, ". . . it’s a hell of a lot cheaper than running a campaign for 10 months."

17.    There is currently another petition coming before the Ballot Law Commission (Electric Deregulation referendum). One of the grounds upon which its signatures, 12,000 more than required, is being challenged is that the proponents "altered, defaced, or mutilated" their petition, the exact same charge that in 1996 the Commission unanimously found to be frivolous when used against us. Still, the petitioners must bear the burden of defending themselves against a known-frivolous charge, with no consequences to the objectors.

18.    Initially, our present opponents challenged some 4,000 of our certified signatures before the state Ballot Law Commission. They dragooned under subpoena large numbers of citizens from across the state who had thought they were only signing a petition, frightening many especially the elderly, inconveniencing all, and bringing a pall over the process in the future. They have subpoenaed a multitude of city and town clerks and ordered them to appear with all their records only to sit idle for hours and days.

19.    They are now down to under 1,000 "objectionable" signatures, according to the data they provided to us last week. If the object of this exercise is to identify who is and who is not a legally registered voter, not merely to conjure up technicalities by which to deny a citizen’s voting rights in order to keep the initiative off the ballot at any cost, most of the opponents’ objections too are frivolous.

20.    We have countered most if not all of their objections. We have produced evidence in our defense of voters derived directly from the Secretary of State’s own Central Voter Registry and from other lawful sources. We have established that a large number of registered voters should have been certified by the city and town registrars but were not, a much more difficult standard of evidence to meet.

21.    Now we can only hope that this court in its wisdom and by its judgement will put an end to this harassment; not just for us but for the future of the citizens’ initiative-referendum process.

Signed under the pains and penalties of perjury this thirtieth day of March 1998.

/s/ _____________________


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You can e-mail A Promise to Keep: 5% at --> cltg@cltg.org
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