image0017

Libertarian Crusader Diaryimage0038

1996 Campaign Era

Published by Gary L. Fincher

Volume I, Edition III – August 19, 1995

Tucson, Arizona

 

 

 

image0055

From Arizona to Arizona

 

 

When we left you last, we were still in Maryland (mid-May) about to take off for Arizona to work on the Libertarian Party voter registration drive down there. What a wild series of events that have transpired since then, however!  Who would have thought that not only would we leave Arizona, but that we would actually leave here only to return again later and spend some time in Maryland before coming back for Arizona II.   But that’s just what happened. Read on to see how it’s going, but first let’s recap:

 

The drives in Alabama and Maryland went fine, but upon leaving Maryland’s Eastern Shore, the inauspicious loss of the car air conditioning happened as if to foreshadow what lay ahead.  Thus the trip from Ocean City to Washington, D.C. to turn in our last batch of signatures was a little uncomfortable in the late-spring Maryland warmth, but nothing compared to say, west Texas without A/C or let’s say.. .Phoenix, Arizona, on foot.

 

Washington was pouring rain after we turned in our signatures to David Morris and dropped by the LP national office to get some literature to take with us to Arizona.  Our car was packed to the max as we hit the Beltway and on into northern Virginia.   The plan was to drive as far as we could get before bedtime and then get up the next morning and fix the air conditioning at a Ford dealership.   As it happened, we stayed the night at Harrisonburg, Virginia, but when we tried to get the A/C fixed, we were told that we’d have to race down to Roanoke (Va.) where they were better equipped to handle our problem.

 

In Roanoke, however, we were told that it was too late in the day for them to do any work on our car that we’d have to wait until the next morning, as if we could afford another motel room.

 

Frustrated, we decided to “drive on”, but not before we took a little ten-mile tour of the Blue Ridge Parkway.  Then, we decided to drive all night until morning, where we’d see about getting the car fixed wherever we happened to be.  The problem of not having an air conditioning in our car really annoyed us, but little did we know what kinds of problems awaited us.

 

Driving through eastern Tennessee it began raining hard, then a little harder, then so hard we couldn’t even see the road.   At one point we passed through what we later discovered to be a tornado, which tossed our car around a little. The heavy downpour delayed us a couple of hours but finally we got back on the road and hit Memphis at about eight in the morning.   At a Memphis Ford dealership we discovered that our Freon leak, probably due to hitting a curb too hard, wasn’t covered under warranty and that we’d have to survive without cool air for a while.

 

As we were enroute to Tucson, Arizona, to check in for work on the voter registration drive, we had a ripe opportunity to stop by Texas to visit family, including my daughter Jenny, and for me to show Kay the area where I grew up and spent much of my young adulthood.  Thus it was that we crossed over from Arkansas and Kay got her first glimpse of the Lone Star State.

Texas stopover on the way to Ariz.

Texas stopover on the way to Ariz.

Gary watches daughter Jenny

Gary watches daughter Jenny

The first item on the Texas itinerary was to stop by and see my longtime best friend Scott Eller who lived in the Cleburne (south of Fort Worth) area, but our late arrival and the fact that we were unsuccessful in reaching him by phone hampered our ability to connect with him and so we ended up driving up to my hometown of Moran, Texas (population 250).

 

At Moran, we stayed the night at my sister’s (Lisa) and visited with her and her son Rocky and made a brief drop-in at my mother’s, who still lives in the house where I was raised.

 

The key part of the Texas stopover was to be in Brownwood, where Kay and I got to visit my 10-year-old daughter Jenny and other members of the family on her mother’s side at the Harris’ home. Jenny’s uncle James was the facilitator of the visit and we spent a quite satisfying weekend (May 20—21) interacting with my daughter, the first time I’d seen her in a year and only the 4th time since 1988.   She has since turned 11 (July 9) and is growing up without me…

 

On our way to Tucson, we stopped off at the border town of Juarez, Mexico and tasted some of the flavor south of the border. Then we took a drive up to White Sands, New Mexico, and took pictures and marveled at the pure white gypsum sands. Just after nightfall on Monday, May 22, after driving all night and all day, we rolled into Tucson, Arizona.

Kay as we cross into New Mexico

Kay as we cross into New Mexico

Gary at White Sands Nat’l Mon., NM

Gary at White Sands Nat’l Mon., NM

 

  

At a Denny’s restaurant in Tucson, we met with Al Anders, who advanced us a seed of cash and oriented us on the drive. A major logistical disadvantage was that, unlike other LP drives we’d been on, our housing wasn’t subsidized by the party; motel rooms promised to eat up a significant portion of our earnings.   

 

We worked a couple of days in Tucson to earn initial operating cash, but it was agreed that since Arizona’s second-largest city was teeming with people already working on the LP registration drive, Kay and I would move up to metropolitan Phoenix, where half the state’s population resides.

 

Phoenix, at almost a million in population, with surrounding suburbs that bring the area’s population to over 2 million, would be the logical place to work, we figured.   Having an urban Mecca that size all to ourselves seemed like a dream come true. Let everyone else fight it out for registrants in the smaller Tucson, we reckoned – we’d clean up on the virgin territory of Phoenix and Maricopa County.

 

As it turned out, Phoenix, in the Valley of the Sun, was at least several degrees hotter (highs of about 1O9˚) than Tucson and the “urban Mecca” was just a sprawling slum. The redemption was Tempe, with Arizona State University, with its plethora of open-minded students willing to advance the LP’s ballot access plight. The cream of Maricopa county suburbs, Tempe lay 10 miles east of downtown Phoenix, but was well worth the drive from our inner-city motel room, where we picked up most of our registrations at the outset. But then disaster struck.

 

On Wednesday, May 31, while Kay and I were taking a mid-morning siesta, Ford Motor Credit came and took away the one tool we had for maintaining any semblance of comfort in the hot Arizona desert — our 1993 red Ford Escort. After that, it went downhill fast and marked the beginning of a hard summer to say the least.

 

John Robertson, 54, a salty veteran of countless petition and voter registration drives for the LP going back to the mid-70s, at first came to our assistance at least in helping us get places to work. John provided us with a table and showed us how to work spots the “table method”, i.e., how to work sitting down behind a table getting peoples’ attention and luring them into our operation (a setup complete with table, signs and banners) and sign the registration forms. This was in contrast to working the “loose board” method, i.e., approaching people on foot, clipboards in hand, asking them to fill out the forms minus a prop. Thus John’s primary contribution to us was showing us how the table method could bring in numbers while allowing us to work off our feet.

 

However, this did not even begin to alleviate our hardship.  While John gave us a ride here and there at the outset, it wasn’t long before his coming around to take us on location began to be curtailed and we were pretty much on our own, left to rely on buses, taxis and, all too often, on our own two feet.

 

The loss of the car led to a sharp downturn in earnings which led to our loss of the inner-city motel room and for a while there we were between motel rooms, with no place of our own to stay. A few days we were at the home of one of John’s friends, Greg Campbell, 45, a New Alliance Party (Marxist policies) activist running a low-budget campaign for mayor of Phoenix. In fact, Kay and I helped him get signatures for ballot access in hopes that he’d help us get a set of wheels in return. But we soon concluded that this was only wishful thinking on our part.

 

Frustrations caused by having to carry around a table and chair on foot in the 109° Phoenix heat, compounded with the logistical hardship caused by being 120 miles away from the base of operations (we had to go to a copying center and post office in order to turn in copies of our forms by mail to Tucson and then wait for a check to arrive and we had to make our way down to the Maricopa county elections office to turn in the original forms) proved too much for us. Kay and I talked about it and decided to give an ultimatum to Perry Willis (LP national director in Washington) which involved asking for a housing subsidy and assistance in getting effective transportation (Kay was still in negotiation with Ford to get our car back). When our terms were not met, and in fact funding from the national LP was cut off, leaving only the self-financing Tucson drive in progress, we decided it was time to jump ship. In addition to those concerns, Al Anders had gone incommunicado, there were tensions between us and the Tucson coordination, and the still-unresolved feud between the Pima county (Tucson) and the Maricopa county (Phoenix) affiliates was still raging. (More on this ahead.)

 

While Kay and I were considering the terms of our ultimatum, we were tentatively preparing to exit Arizona, and as the heat was a major factor, we obviously needed to go someplace with cool weather. It turns out that a major heat wave was gripping the eastern two-thirds of the country, so our logical choice was the Pacific Northwest – from Alaska down to northern California.   After making several phone calls to check out the employment outlook in that region, it was decided that we’d fly to San Francisco, where highs were normally in the mid-60s.

Gary with John Robertson in Phoenix, Ariz.

Gary with John Robertson in Phoenix, Ariz.

Flying out of hot Phoenix for S.F., Calif.

Flying out of hot Phoenix for S.F., Calif.

On June 29, fully realizing that we had left most of our personal items with Al in Tucson and was prepared to never see them again, we took an early flight out of Phoenix and touched down in California’s Bay Area around 9:30 a.m.   We would spend over three weeks in California before being summoned to work on a two-week petitioning project in Baltimore, Maryland.   We had thought that after spending a couple of weeks in Maryland that we’d return to California to spend the rest of the summer, but it turns out that while in Baltimore, Al contacted us with an offer to come back to Tucson that we couldn’t refuse, so on August 10, Al met us at the Tucson airport and here we’ve been for over a week, working on the same voter registration drive.

 

The Arizona Registration Drive

 

Since the Maryland LP ballot status drive ended on May 17, only three ballot access projects have been underway: 1) A petition drive in Nebraska for statewide party status, which is being worked on by one individual, Nebraska LP member Jerry Kosch; 2) A petition drive in Oklahoma, which was contracted out to a petitioning company, National Voter Outreach, utilizing hired local  employees at rates far below the market rate for  traveling petitioners; and 3) the aforementioned voter registration drive in Arizona that we’re working on now, our second stint on this very drive.

 

The Arizona drive is unique for several reasons.   First, there’s a hostile political climate, not externally but within the Libertarian Party itself in Arizona.   While meeting with former Arizona resident Perry Willis at the national headquarters in Washington in May, Kay and I were apprised of the situation, so we had an idea of internal conflict before we even came down.   However, we thought we’d be working on a benign project which would be separate from any internal squabbling.   We didn’t realize that the registration drive itself served as a tool for one of the warring factions.

 

To explain the situation as briefly as possible:

 

The rules that govern the state party organization and its conducting of business are the state party constitution and bylaws.   Under these charters, a state party organization is created and maintained and officers elected.   As of the November 1994 elections, Rick Tompkins of Maricopa county (who’s now a contender for the LP presidential nomination), has been serving as state chairman, heading a state executive committee of officers from across Arizona.

 

It turns out that in Arizona, the Libertarian Party is well respected and has widespread recognition among the voters.   Libertarian candidates usually get between 5-38% of the vote, depending on the office.  But the strongest area in the state for the LP is Tucson, and we always get higher vote totals than in Phoenix or statewide.

 

The problem is with Arizona state election law.   If a candidate for statewide office achieves more than 5% of the vote statewide, then his party will be recognized as a qualified party statewide.   But if the same candidate scores more than 5% of the vote in only one particular county, then his party is only recognized in that county.   This is what happened in Tucson.   The LP is a qualified party only in Pima County, but nowhere else in the state.   Arizona state law contains provisions for a qualified party to elect party officials. Pima County is the only county in Arizona with such “rights”, Pima County could claim, pursuant to Arizona law, to be the only recognized “party officers” in the state.

 

Neither the national party’s constitution and bylaws, or that of Arizona’s, recognize state law as being able to supersede our own internal rules of procedure.   In fact, case law precedent suggests that it is unconstitutional for a state to interfere with the internal organization of a political party.   But sure enough, a “coup” was attempted.   Peter Schmerl, chairman of the Pima County LP, ran with state law and established a slate of party officials in Pima County, who then claimed to be the new state party executive committee.   Schmerl notified Rick Tompkins to inform him that he (Schmerl) would now take over as “state chairman”.

 

This now pitted the Maricopa group against the Pima group, both claiming to be the legitimate state party executive committee.   Tamara Clark has since succeeded Tompkins as chairman, but the feud is unresolved and (I suppose) is headed to court.  The national LP only recognizes the Tamara Clark-led group, and I have to say that I agree: our own party rules supersede state law.

 

But here’s the twist:  the voter registration drive was conceived by Schmerl and initially funded locally in Pima County.   The recognized state party was against it, even though national, willing to fund ballot access for Arizona Libertarians but not willing to get involved in the feud, sent $9,000 down to Alexis Thompson, an independent petition coordinator who just happens to be a Libertarian and who just happens to live in Tucson.   While Kay and I were working in Phoenix, we sensed some resentment with Maricopa county members, although state chairman Tamara Clark softened her stance with me as time went on and was friendly to us.   Yet we were in Phoenix working on the opposing faction’s project.   But when the $9,000 that national sent was exhausted, the drive and the funding receded back to Pima county.   Thus it was we were asked in a June 28 memo from Alexis to desist working in Maricopa County.

 

Another aspect of this drive that made it different from any other LP drives I’ve been on is that, since the national ballot access committee and Bill Redpath is not involved in this, there were initially no provisions to cover our housing.   This impaired our ability to make any money, as it seemed that it took all we made just to pay for motel rooms.

 

But the most interesting aspect of this drive is that, as I mentioned in the last edition of LCD, it’s a voter registration drive, not a petition drive.

 

When we learned about this drive, and were arranging to come down here, we were intrigued by the prospect of working on something different than a petition drive.   We had been used to petitioning in Alabama and Maryland and knew how it could be sometimes difficult to talk people into signing their names to let us as Libertarians take part in the democratic process.  It wasn’t always easy.  We imagined it must be many times more difficult to convince someone to actually become a registered Libertarian or change their registration from another party to Libertarian.   It seemed like a challenge, to say the least.

 

Inserted with this edition is a specimen copy of the official Arizona voter registration form. From this, you can get an insight into what exactly we’re doing here.

 

 

image0211image0192

Basically, what we’re doing is ballot access via boosting our permanent level of voter registrations rather than ad hoc petition drives every election year. In Arizona, there are three ways to achieve ballot status: 1) by collecting over 20,000 valid signatures by petition in the corresponding election year; 2) by having received 5% of the vote statewide in the appropriate statewide race; or 3) boosting the level of voter registrations up to a certifiable level (in this case, near 15,000).   Since petition drives are prohibitively expensive and 5% statewide is too difficult to obtain precisely due to the lack of campaign funds that had to be spent on the petition drive), it was decided that it would be more cost—effective in the long run to do a “once-and-for-all” drive for ballot access via increasing our voter registrations to over 15,000.  Once we’ve reached the necessary 15,000 (est.), the Libertarian Party in Arizona will have the same standing as the Democrats and Republicans and will be able to run candidates automatically, have a primary, etc.  This, of course, will free up resources from ballot access to use to campaign against the two antiquated parties.

 

What the task involves, quite bluntly, is to ask people to register Libertarian.  Fortunately, this is not as difficult as it may seem.  The approach is just a variation of the approach we’d use for a ballot access petition.   Whereas in petitioning we’d ask someone (who’s a registered voter already) if they’d sign a petition so that we can run candidates on the ballot and participate in democracy, we’d simply ask someone (whether they’re already a voter or not) if they’d “register as Libertarian so that we may become a qualified party in the state, thus giving the voters something besides Democrats and Republicans to vote for.”   By saying that this way voters of Arizona will always have three parties to choose from rather than merely two, and that, moreover, they could still vote for anyone they wanted  (in the genera? election, but not in the primary), it weakens any reservations they might have for doing it.  Yet when you consider that, for a lot of people in Tucson, registering Libertarian is a “cool” thing to do, it’s not extremely difficult to get people to “take that step”.

 

Actually, a lot of people we register weren’t ever registered before and could care less which party they registered under. We get a lot of young people registering for the first time who pretty much see past the “two-party” myth.  I’ll even use that in my approach: “Register Libertarian to help break up the two-party monopoly!”   Still another bloc of people we get is the ones who are either disenfranchised by the two big parties or who are disgusted with their politics-as-usual platform.

 

The past few days, Kay and I have been taking our roll-up table, two chairs, “Register to Vote Here” signs, along with our stand—up sign that says “Fight Violent Crime and Political Corruption – Register to Vote Libertarian”, and setting up outside traffic court downtown.   We adorn the table with clipboards, registration forms and LP literature and call out to people to register Libertarian.  Working six to seven hours during the business day, Kay and I are able to pull in between 30 and 60 registrations per day (In Phoenix, we were doing 50-70 per day).

 

Another contingent of workers, including Al, is taking a starkly different approach: capitalizing on the very strong pro-legalization of marijuana sentiment here in Tucson.  It seems that they set up downtown with the same table and chairs, only using a marijuana leaf banner and calling out to people to “register to vote with a party that supports the legalization of marijuana”.   This approach, surprisingly enough, is netting more registrations per day than our approach, prompting us to consider switching approaches.   My reluctance to that approach stems from the fact that I’ve never been a part of the marijuana culture (never used it, never will) and feel uncomfortable at the prospect of people thinking I advocate the use of marijuana (rather than simply being opposed to criminal sanctions against its use).

 

Registering voters in Phoenix

Registering voters in Phoenix

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cable car in San Francisco

Cable car in San Francisco

San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge

San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge

and we found the city to be quite beautiful and charming and chilly. As Mark Twain once said, “The coldest winter I’ve ever spent was ~a summer in San Francisco.”

 

On the 4th of July, we took the underground rail across the bay to Berkeley and wandered around the campus of the University of California, then met with some directors of Voter Revolt, a petitioning firm located near the campus.  Their petitions paid a paltry $ .35 per signature, but sought to impose price controls on the legal and insurance industries and we had to wait a week and a half to get paid (not an option, as our funds were depleting fast).

 

On the morning of July 6, we got a call just before checkout time at our San Francisco hotel from Eileen Ray, manager of a petitioning company in Sacramento.  She wanted us to get on a bus and immediately come to California’s capital where she would see to it that we were taken care of and paid as often as we wanted. Her petition, sponsored by the legal profession itself, was the flip side of the price control coin, a more “market-based” approach.

 

Given those terms, we had no choice but to leave cool and breezy San Francisco and travel 90 miles northeast to Sacramento, where highs in the daytime topped 100 but nights were cool and comfortable.

 

The petitioning climate was not as great as we’d anticipated, and we were still on foot (but no table and chairs to carry). The issue didn’t excite people but Kay and I could get maybe (collectively) 100-150 people per day to sign it. Store managers still discouraged our collecting signatures with a vengeance, despite the California “law”.  Eileen was constantly hiring more and more petitioners, creating heavy competition for fresh voters and petitioning sites. And finally, all the money we made went into paying for motel rooms.

 

Kay and I spent 2½ weeks in Sacramento, getting to know the bus lines, light rail service and store locations. It wasn’t a really easy time we were having, but we were simply “getting by”. We talked of getting caught up and hitchhiking up the Pacific coast to Vancouver, British Columbia (where Kay once lived for 2 years in the 1970s), but we never got caught up.

 

Then, our big break (or so we thought) happened. David Morris (Maryland drive) called and wanted to fly us out to Baltimore to work on a two-week ballot drive for an LP city council candidate. Our housing would be fully taken care of and we figured we could get caught up that way. We’d be able to make some money and have a little emergency stash when we got back to California.  Dreaming.

 

Maryland – Again

 

On July 21, David called to tell us that he was coordinating the petition drive to get Baltimore Libertarian Lorenzo Gaztanaga on the ballot to run for city council. He needed 1,700 signatures by August 7. And he figured Kay and I would be all he needed to get the job done.

 

Having known and worked for David before, we were glad and honored that, he thought highly enough of us to want us to come to Baltimore to help him.  We had just, in fact, been reminiscing about’ Maryland and how the last time we were there (May) we had a car. Things there weren’t so bad either, for I was able to get ‘(by myself) 150-200 signatures @ $ .75 apiece on a good day.  Oh, the good old days of Maryland in the springtime. We even harkened back to the day we rode ‘the paddleboats in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor and the day we tried petitioning on opening day at the Oriole’s game at Camden Yards.  And, remembering the bustling crowds at Baltimore’s Lexington Market downtown, getting 1,700 signatures in two weeks should be no problem. So sure, we’d go out to Baltimore and help him out.

 

Jesse Markowitz, chairman of the Maryland LP, sent by Federal. Express to our Sacramento motel room two plane tickets he’d gotten on frequent flier miles.  One of them was in Kay’s name, but the other was in Jesse’s name and Jesse called me to say that I had to travel as “him”.

 

Kay and I were actually looking forward to the break and what we thought would be “easy petitioning”. Instead, we were confronted with a nightmare.

 

After taking the “red-eye” overnight flight from Sacramento, changing planes in San Francisco and Pittsburgh, we were greeted at Baltimore-Washington Int’l Airport by LP ‘member Kevin Schaefer and taken to his home in ,Ellicott City, Maryland, to “rest up” before hitting the streets.

 

It was then that we were confronted with the awful news -the signatures could only come from one narrow Baltimore city council district in ‘the midst of the longest heat wave in Baltimore history.

 

David coordinated by phone, but it was the candidate himself – Lorenzo – and his wife. Susan who provided most of our support. Lorenzo rented a motel room for us on Pulaski Highway, which was situated on the most inefficient bus route on probably the most inefficient bus system in the country. Travel to locations was nothing short of a pain in the rear end’ and temperatures were hovering above and below 100 (rare for the east coast) with extremely high humidity.  The muggy heat was so oppressive we flirted with heat exhaustion’ the entire time. One day the temperature even hit a stifling 103°.

 

On top of all this, the locations within the 3rd councilmanic district had light foot traffic and we seemed to exhaust our supply of fresh eligible voters after the second consecutive day at any one location. The first couple of days of the drive proved us to have an unacceptable validity rate, but when we began to qualify the voters by heavily scrutinizing their district residency, our volume plummeted. Kay and I subsequently would have (collectively) a high signature day of 143.

 

It became so increasingly difficult to pull in adequate volume that David had to bring in reinforcements – Darryl Bonner from L.A., Kris Williams from D.C. and countless Maryland volunteers.

 

The district Lorenzo was running in was predominately black and the Democrat “machine” ruled.  The incumbents were all Democrats – O’Malley, Cunningham and Curran – and we tried to avoid publicizing Lorenzo’s Libertarian affiliation lest we fail to get any signatures at all in that hostile political climate. Kay and I took the approach that we were asking voter-s to help us “get a friend of ours on the

ballot”, but I suspect some of the black voters were racially biased, refusing to deal with us because we were “white”.  You could definitely get a sense of that. And the fact that. Lorenzo was Cuban—born I think didn’t make any points with some in that demographic group.

 

Actually, Lorenzo, a purist “anarchist” Libertarian was very articulate and well-versed in the issues.  He had already appeared at several candidate forums and did well describing pure libertarian solutions as superior to statist, collectivist attempts to solve problems government itself had created.  A couple of his would-be opponents signed his petition, but the most powerful incumbent, O’Malley, refused when I gave him the opportunity.  Apparently, O’Malley wants to win, not by fairly competing in a level game, but by excluding as much of his competition as he possibly can.

 

After everything was settled, the drive had produced almost 2,600 signatures, which meant a 57% validity rate would be needed to net the 1,700 he needs.  Kay and I didn’t make much money, and would have had to face Sacramento petitioning in worse shape than when we left, if not for Al’s proposition from Tucson, which we both agreed would be better for us and for the LP.

 

After flying to Charlotte, then San Francisco, we took a Greyhound bus to Sacramento, where we made arrangements to get to Tucson for our return to the Arizona registration drive.  We missed our flight on August 9 and had to stay an

extra day in Sacramento but the flight to Tucson was kind of nice.  We flew out of Sacramento with the splendid Sierra Nevadas out our left-side window and soon touched down in Los Angeles. Leaving Los Angeles was spectacular, as we flew right over the blue waters of the Pacific Ocean and saw the rugged coastline and the city against the mountains for a while, then saw wide-open desert in southern California and Arizona before reaching Tucson, where Al picked us up to take us to our new temporary home.

 

Victory in Ocean City

 

All bad news didn’t come out of Maryland, however. This is a follow-up to a story I did in Volume I, Edition 2 – May 16, 1995 of LCD (Ocean City Difficulties): We won!

 

In that story, I wrote how Kay and I got accosted by the Ocean City police on May 13 and were threatened with arrest for petitioning on their public boardwalk. It seems the Ocean City council had just passed what they called an “emergency ordinance” banning ‘soliciting’ on the boardwalk, a measure in irreconcilable conflict with an earlier measure called the Bill of Rights.

 

Note that the ordinance, while speaking of “soliciting”, never even mentions “petitioning”, yet we were cited for violating an ordinance that ostensibly covers an activity the police knew we never engaged in.

 

The soliciting ban was enough for the Maryland chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union to take the Ocean City council to federal court in Baltimore, but apparently misapplying the ban to cover petitioning, specifically protected in the First Amendment, was all the ammunition the ACLU needed to blow Ocean City out of the water.

 

While in Phoenix in June, Jesse Markowitz called me to ask if I’d issue a statement to the Maryland ACLU in preparing their case. When a spokesperson for the ACLU called me the following day, I gave her a statement of what had transpired and faxed her a copy of a letter I wrote to the editors of Ocean City Today. The text of that letter was reprinted in the aforementioned story in LCD. In the letter, I used strong language to describe the draconian policies and tactics of Ocean City officials, such as, “…a ban.. .smacks of treason,” and that, “denying us access to a busy public thoroughfare is nothing less than obstruction of the democratic election process.”

 

When Kay and I were in Baltimore in July, David Morris told me that the Maryland ACLU notified Markowitz that the case had been won (the Ocean City ban was overturned) and that the only reason the landmark case could have been won was due to the involvement of Kay and me, and Ocean City’s

misapplication of the ban, on petitioning. In other words, the ACLU said that had Kay and I not been kicked off the boardwalk May 13, Ocean City would have prevailed in the case. Bravo!

 

Panning for Gold in the Arizona High Country

 

The earlier Arizona experience wasn’t all bad either.  Despite the fact that no, we didn’t get to see the Grand Canyon together, we did get to escape Phoenix on Memorial Day (we still had our car then) to the cool clime of Prescott, some 100 miles away.

 

Kay’s sister Wendy and brother-in-law Tim live in Prescott Valley and the drive from Phoenix is memorable. It was an unbearable 105° in the Valley of the Sun but about 80 miles up Interstate 17, the temperature suddenly dropped about 40 degrees as we climbed into higher elevations.

 

It was a nice 65° or so at Tim & Wendy’s house.   After a few hours of cordial conversation, they decided to take us to a cabin they owned in the mountains, where we felt we were a world away from the Phoenix-area desert.

 

The cabin stood on a hillside right over a rippling mountain creek and, in a move that I thought was really cool, Tim took out an old scraped-up pan and we shuffled our way down to the water to, that’s right, pan for gold. I was a

prospector for a day – Yahoo!

 

Well, there I was, squatting down on an unknown creek in the Arizona High Country, panning for gold. I just knew there had to be gold in them thar hills and, sure enough, Tim’s gentle guidance paid off – I STRUCK GOLD!!!

 

Well, it was only a speck, mind you, but a bright shiny yellow substance no one could deny was gold. I stared at the microscopic flake on the end of my finger as I made my way back up the road to the cabin. My first gold discovery. But then a funny thing happened – I blinked and all at once the gold had disappeared. So much for that claim I was gonna put in.

Gary strikes gold in Arizona high country

Gary strikes gold in Arizona high country

Even though my first “dust” was gone as fast as it had appeared, I’ve got the photographs to prove I once took a precious metal from raw Mother Earth and had it in my possession for a brief shining moment. I’ll never forget my 24-karat experience.

 

Our Home Until October 7

 

Kay and I will be settled in our Tucson abode for another 6 weeks – until October 7.   This is the most stable we’ve been since February.   Hard to believe, but we haven’t even gotten any of our mail since April.  Now, we’ve finally an address and phone number; we’re a stationary target again.   Please take note of our new address: Gary and Kay Fincher, 1411 N Alvernon Way t2lO, Tucson, AZ 85716.   And our new phone number: (520) 321—4162.   We’re starting to miss all our friends and family, so please write and call. And remember, it’s a limited time offer that ends October 7.

 

Political Commentary:  USA Today and CityVote

 

I’m optimistic for once. A few years ago I was a discouraged freedom fighter. As recently as 1990 I thought libertarian ideas would never get off the ground, no mind the purity and rightness and workability of our principles. There simply were no indications that in this country, there was any mindset of breaking the shackles of government. Now, I must admit there’s light at the end of the tunnel.

 

First, a front-page article in USA TODAY (The GenX Philosophy, July 26) extolled the virtues of libertarianism and even discussed the Libertarian Party and mentioned my friends Jesse Markowitz and Kevin Scheunemann.

 

The gist of the story was that the younger generation is increasingly turning to a libertarian philosophy of laissez faire and “live and let live” approach to government.

 

Some notable quotes from the USA TODAY article, written by Dierdre R. Schwiesow:

 

“The old left-right paradigm is not working anymore.. . coming down the pipe are an extraordinarily large number of fiscal conservatives who are socially left.”

 

“What liberalism was to the sixties and conservatism was to the eighties, libertarianism may be to the youth of the nineties.”

 

“In the sixties (youth) asked the same government that had been oppressing them to solve all of their problems.”

 

“The Libertarian Party has seen a 20% growth in membership this year.. .as many as 40% of the newcomers are in their 20s.”

 

“Although libertarianism blossomed in the 18th century, the Libertarian Party wasn’t founded until 1971.. .it now has 150 officeholders.”

 

A January 20 article in Wall Street Journal mirrored the same libertarian trend in the general electorate…

 

The second reason for optimism I mentioned was the newly announced CityVote. CityVote is a multi-city, non-binding presidential preference poll that will be conducted in conjunction with local elections taking place on November 7

in at least 16 cities, including Baltimore, Minneapolis, Boston, Tucson, Spokane, Rochester (NY) and Boulder (CO).

 

CityVote was conceived by political leaders in those participating urban areas to “encourage candidates and citizens alike to exchange a broad range of views about how best to overcome the urban problems that exist throughout our country,” according to CityVote director Larry Agran of Irvine, California.

 

The exciting news is that three nationally-televised presidential debates will be broadcast on C-SPAN and PBS, and that Libertarian presidential candidate Harry Browne is one of the 12 candidates who qualified

 

According to Libertarian Party News, the twelve candidates who qualified were: Democrats Bill Clinton and Lyndon LaRouche; Republicans Bob Dole, Phil Gram, Pete Wilson, Pat Buchanan, Lamar Alexander, Arlen Specter, Bob Dornan, Richard Lugar and Alan Keyes.  Libertarian Harry Browne was the only non-Democrat/Republican candidate to qualify.  It’s clear to me that all that’s needed for the Libertarian Party to begin to make major dents in the electoral process is to have our nominee participate in the regular presidential debates on network TV of the election year.  1992 LP nominee Andre Marrou was shafted by the Establishment and shut out of the debates even though he met all the criteria, including be on the ballot in all 50 states. Perhaps after CityVote there will be a public outcry if the 1996 LP candidate is ignored by the debate sponsors.

 

 

Next Issue (April 2, 1996):

https://libertycrusader.wordpress.com/libertarian-crusader-diary/archived-back-issues/april-1996

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s