A Ballot Committee of
Citizens for Limited Taxation & Government
PO Box 408 * Peabody, MA 01960
Phone:(617) 248-0022 /(508) 538-3900 E-Mail:
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*** Promise Update ***
Thursday, December 4, 1997

Greetings activists on this glorious day of success!

Oh sure, if you read the newspapers or watch the TV news reports, the glass is half empty.  But our petition is *alive,* even if on life-support for now, and that is fantastic— especially if you were in that gloomy Newton Marriot conference room on Tuesday night, after we had counted all the signatures for a *second* time, and still came out with the same total: 644 short!

But first, there’s something extremely important that was utterly misreported in today’s Boston Herald and I want this cleared up immediately before any further confusion (and even damage!) is done. It was a story titled "Term limits question axed, tax cut may not make ballot," by Carolyn Ryan and Maggie Mulvihill, they reported: ". . . [Jennifer] Peck said her group [CommFAST] hired organizers to gather signatures, as did Citizens for Limited Taxation [& Government] and proponents of a successful question to eliminate turnpike tolls."

That is a damnable lie and irresponsible journalism at its worst! We have *never* hired paid petitioners or organizers. Ever. And both of them should well have known it.

Carolyn Ryan called back today in response to Barbara’s and my numerous calls to the Herald from its State House bureau all the way up the feeding chain to publisher Patrick Purcell. Carolyn insisted she’d gotten her information from the State House News Service. Barbara asked her to read it. She started, stopped, and muttered, ". . . oh, oh . . . ‘*refuses* to use paid petitioners . . ."

The Boston Herald will publish an apology tomorrow (Friday) along with Barbara’s letter to the editor.
But back to my tale of clutching victory from the jaws of defeat!

On election night 1994, in the Boston hotel room my Committee to Repeal the Mandatory Seat Belt Law shared with CLT (which was fighting the TEAM-sponsored Graduated Income Tax ballot questions) and LIMITS (which had its second term limits proposal on the ballot), I watched the returns as our repeal was falling to defeat. An AP reporter came over and asked me if I was ready to concede the vote. I replied, "Concede hell; I may be beaten, but I’ll never surrender."

That’s exactly how I again felt on Tuesday night—and we still had 19 hours of life remaining before the deadline with the Secretary of State!

So we scrambled, pulled out all the stops to find those 644-plus signatures. I was positive we could find them— somehow; they were there—somewhere!

As soon as Barbara and I got back to my place, there were messages on my answering machine to return. One was from Sue Dowd in Longmeadow, reporting that the clerk there had called to tell her that her petition with 30 signatures had been certified; when was she going to pick it up? She asked me if our driver wasn’t going to pick it up, as we’d told her it would be. The clerk had failed to give Sue’s petition to our driver as instructed by our Letter of Authorization carried by every driver!

The next message was from Bill McKibben, offering to drive anywhere we might need to send him the next day. Bill left Wednesday morning for Longmeadow, and returned with Sue’s 30 certified signatures.

We called all our drivers and coordinators and asked them to call every city and town hall in the state and ask, "Do you have any petitions still your possession?" If yes, then "Do you have any letter ‘I’ petitions?" I put out our "ALERT!" to the thousand or so of you who receive these Updates and asked that you to do the same. It wasn’t long before the calls started coming in.

Anne Hilbert, our Weymouth coordinator, found 196 certified signatures "misplaced" and still in the Weymouth town clerk’s office and retrieved them. Westminster admitted to still holding another 27 signatures (which were picked up by former state Rep. Bob Hawke and relayed to Chip Faulkner, who hit the road from his Wrentham home Wednesday morning and kept in touch with me by car-phone relaying with others as I dug up more petitions). Rob Lamoureux, who provided Chip with the phone [I’ve got it here, Rob!], our Burlington coordinator, dug up another 37 from the Burlington town clerk, picked them up (making him late for work!), and relayed them to Faulkner.

57 good signatures were reported in New Bedford. A call to Ann Perry sent her rushing to the city hall to claim them as a call came in from the Cape reporting 28 signatures in Yarmouth. Norm Paley, our Plymouth County coordinator, jumped in his Land Rover and raced first to meet Ann Perry, then Harold Rusch, one of our Cape coordinators, then back to Boston to get the 88 signatures to us before the 5:00 PM deadline. I got a call from Helen Hatch of Wakefield that she still had her certified petition with 12 signatures, which Barbara, Pat Warnock and I stopped by and picked up on our way into Boston.

Governor Cellucci’s and Treasurer Malone’s campaigns, and Marc DeCoursey of the Republican State Committee, called us and offered to help, then began calling all the city and town clerks’ offices too. Tom Valle of the Cellucci campaign provided us with two drivers who raced out to Framingham and Lowell to grab a few more "misplaced" petitions. (Three of Joe Malone’s guys came up to the CLT&G office and helped us mule the boxes of petitions over to the Secretary of State’s office as well, and Joe met us there when we arrived for a brief congratulations.) By mid-afternoon many of the clerks complained that they were going crazy with all the calls coming in looking for "misplaced" letter "I" petitions!

When the mail arrived, in it was our self-addressed stamped envelopes from the clerks in the small towns in the western part of the state: 91 signatures from Belchertown, 47 from Pittsfield, a small handful more from, Russell, Southwick, Granville and Goshen.

When Chip Faulkner got back into the office, he called the Secretary of State’s Elections Division, asked, and discovered we had 161 certified signatures sitting there that people had mailed directly to the Secretary!

Those signatures put us at 115 certified signatures OVER the requirement—miraculously *WE * HAD * MADE * IT!*

And today, the Secretary of State’s Elections Division officially announced that we have made it—by 117 signatures!

[In today’s mail we received 31 more certified signatures in our self-addressed stamped envelope from Brimfield town clerk. They arrived too late to be of any use.]

Miraculously—and with a lot of help way above and beyond the call of duty! -- our dedicated volunteers pulled this one off in the 11th hour and fifty-five minutes!

But this was only the first battle in what is now, unfortunately of necessity, a drawn out war. Today the Tax Equity Alliance of Massachusetts (TEAM, aka "Tax Everything and More") and the Massachusetts Teachers Association ("More is Never Enough") announced their challenge of our signatures— hoping to do by technicality what they know they can’t do through persuasion if we get on the ballot: defeat the peoples’ initiative. I’m only surprised that the League of Women Vultures didn’t also join in with the usual suspects!

Oh but for just a couple thousand more signatures and this could have been avoided—but that was not to be, and we should be grateful we’re still alive to fight the next battle. But this defense and our likely counter-challenge, we expect, will cost us tens if not hundreds of thousands of dollars which we do not have just for the legal assistance and expenses. And it’s going to tie us up for months when we could have been doing something more productive (like anything). For us, the petition drive is far from over; we have just survived the first gauntlet.

But, assuming we can raise the funds for a respectable defense, it can certainly be done, as it has many times before.

CLT survived signature challenges in 1979-80 to both the Proposition 2 ˝ initiative for a law, and a Prop 2 ˝ constitutional amendment, because we got so few signatures on each that it was challengeable—which was when we learned the hard way the risk of attempting to carry two petitions at the same time, and why we NEVER have since. [Think about that for a moment and draw your own conclusions.]

The constitutional amendment, like term limits in 1992, was killed by the Legislature in their constitutional convention, so we had to settle for the statute, which still stands because we are ever vigilant in its defense.)

Opponents of rent control were challenged in 1993-94, and Denise Jilson and her folks were still able to come up with sufficient signatures to make it to the ballot—where rent control was repealed by the voters. (The challenges and legal expenses cost them about $200,000 and took flat-out work from December through May—just so you are aware of and keep all these costs in perspective.]

The Fair Ballot Access Committee fell just short of the required number of signatures, challenged, and recovered enough signatures that city and town clerks had disqualified to make it onto the 1990 ballot and the voters adopted it. We have that law to thank for the 8 ˝" x 14" petitions we all just carried around instead of those God-awful oversize petitions we used to have to cart about, and for now being able to *copy* petitions; not allowed before this law was approved.

It really is too bad that we couldn’t have picked up just another 2,000 signatures and made all of this unnecessary. But we didn’t. The upside is, I’ll bet that in the future NOBODY will ever take it for granted that "someone else will do it," or "why worry, they always pull it off." Or bite off more than they can chew.

And just think . . . every signature collected by those of you who took an active role in this effort was one of the signatures that put us over the top and gave us this incredible success!

Good job, and thanks again for being an important part of this most amazing resurrection in state petition drive history!

Chip Ford—

PS—From Barbara Anderson

I should send this myself but I’m too exhausted to make the effort, so I’m asking Chip to send it without changing a word.

Richard Friedman sent a message congratulating us and stating that some people would have given in to despair on Tuesday night when they were 644 down, instead of going out and finding enough missing signatures the next day.  I want you to know, I considered this.  I don’t think it even crossed Chip Ford’s mind.

And now, reading about our premature death in this morning’s papers, I’m mad as hell and almost as determined as he is that we will get to that ballot if we have to crawl there over the bodies of the entire Massachusetts Teachers Association.  Thanks to everyone who helped, and everyone who will.


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