A Ballot Committee of
Citizens for Limited Taxation & Government
PO Box 408 * Peabody, MA 01960
Phone:(617) 248-0022 /(508) 538-3900 E-Mail:
Visit our web-page at:

ONLY * 8 * DAYS LEFT !!!
Before the Wednesday, November 19th Petition Drive Deadline with the City/Town Clerks

*** Promise Update ***
Tuesday, November 11, 1997

Veteran’s Day

Greetings activists—and especially you veteran’s; this is our day!

All of us petitioners have heard them all, the excuses why a citizen just can’t be bothered investing a few seconds to stop and sign a petition. But, in her bi-weekly Patriot Ledger column, Barbara captures the experience and, hopefully, opens the eyes of at least a few of the apathetic and ignorant.

While we’re racing down to the wire with *ONLY EIGHT DAYS LEFT* to sink or swim, I thought you’d find this energizing and get at least a small grin from our universal experience.

I hope when you’re done smiling, you’ll get right back out there and help us win this drive while there’s still time—ONLY EIGHT DAYS LEFT !!!

Chip Ford—

The (Quincy) Patriot Ledger
Saturday, November 8, 1997

The message is in the response
By Barbara Anderson

It’s 1775 and Norm is standing by the side of the Boston-Concord Road. As Paul Revere rides past crying, "The British are coming," a farmer and his wife walk out of the nearby woods. Norm asks them, "Will you help us fight the British?" "That’s OK," the farmer replies, "I’m all set." His wife nods pleasantly. "I really don’t have time right now," she explains.

This fantasy, unbidden, keeps returning to Norm’s head as he petitions at South Shore malls for the income tax rollback and term limits. I suspect that petitioners on all proposed ballot questions can relate to his frustration.

It’s not philosophical opposition that drives political activists mad. Most of us can handle the person who disagrees with us; if we’re experienced petitioners, we don’t waste our time arguing but go on to the next potential signer. We can also relate to people who want us to give them something to study before they sign; though we usually ask them just to help us place our issue on the ballot so all voters can study it, we give them what they want and hope they’ll return after they’ve read the material. Sometimes they actually do.

I have taken an informal poll of 1997 petitioners to determine what response to their request to sign makes them craziest. Everyone has chosen, "I’m all set" as the most common and incomprehensible; what does it mean? Norm’s partner Joan is tempted to begin her approach to passers-by with the question, "Are you all set?" just to get it over with.

For people like Norm and Joan who work at their jobs and yet spend hours on volunteer political activity, the "I don’t have time right now" response is especially difficult to bear. If they are spending their whole weekend petitioning, it seems a small thing to ask someone to pause for a moment and sign his or her name. This is a particularly interesting response on a tax cut issue: one reason people don’t have time is that they spend so much of their lives working to pay their tax, toll and fee burden.

For "good government" petitioners who work tirelessly to reform the system, the most maddening response is, "Why should I sign? It’s hopeless"—we’ve all heard that, right, Limits and Common Cause? You can agree or disagree with the solutions they’ve drafted, but don’t tell them that nothing will do any good; just the fact that volunteer activists care enough to get involved does good.

However, Common Cause can laugh about one response to its pitch of, "Sign here to get big money out of politics": "What will you do with the money when you get it out?" and other things said at mall petition tables: "I already gave at church"; "I already have AT&T"; and best of all, "I’d like two boxes of the mints."

A petitioner myself, I have been collecting remarks made to me when I ask people to sign our state income tax rollback petition. "The state needs the money" can be rebutted with reference to the giant state surplus, but what can you say to someone who says he likes paying taxes? Get help? Pay mine? One young woman told me that she didn’t want to cut the income tax rate because then she’d have less taken from her paycheck and wouldn’t get as much back in a refund at the end of the year. So much for savings bank accounts and the magic of compound interest.

Gary at the North Shore Mall was intrigued by the man he asked to sign who responded simply: "My name is Antoine." Maybe that meant he isn’t a registered voter in Massachusetts, as many people claim, some I’m sure truthfully. Petitioners at most malls have noticed an increase in the number of people who don’t speak English. I like to think they’re all tourists or immigrants who just got off the boat this year.

On the other hand, new citizens seem the most intrigued by the whole idea of the people making their own laws; imagine what this freedom of expression looks like to some of them. And hope that they never hear a long-time citizen saying what Harold of Free the Pike heard as an excuse not to sign his toll repeal: "They’ll never let you do it."

Well, sign a petition and let’s find out. I personally think that if enough voters take the time to sign by the Nov. 19 deadline, we petitioners and direct democracy will be . . . all set.

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