Voice for Democracy


Newsletter of the Northern California Citizens for Proportional Representation



A Conference on PR, Reapportionment and Voting System Reform


     Mark you calendars for Saturday and Sunday, September 12 and 13!  We are co-sponsoring a conference on the basics of proportional representation to be held in San Francisco at the California State Building, 505 Van Ness at McAlister.  "Our goal is to educate and empower ourselves to go beyond discussing the problems inherent in our electoral system.  We will develop an action plan to bring about more representative democracy.  With less apathy, there will be a turn toward participation and individual responsibility for the collective process." - John B. Anderson, President of the Center for Voting and Democracy.


     After registration at 8:30 a.m., the keynote address will set the tone of Saturday mornings work: a Public Hearing on Race, Reapportionment, and Representation. Testimony on the need for reapportionment reform will be heard from, among others, Connie Rice, NAACP-LDF, Denise Hulett, MALDF, Sheila Jordan, former city councilor-Oakland, Roy Ulrich, Common Cause, and Bonnie Tang, Asian Pacific American Legal Services.


     Saturday afternoon’s three hour-long sessions of workshops and panels begin with West Coast CV&D Director Steve Hill's "ABC's of Voting System Reform."  This session from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. offers four more panels including "PR and Campaign Finance Reform: Complementary Reforms?" "Representation of Women," "PR Around the World," and "The Courts and Reform."


     With  this issue of the newsletter we're starting something new--simultaneous annual membership renewal to Northern California Citizens for Proportional Representation.  We are including renewal forms and envelopes - minimizing our work in contacting you and your work in remembering to follow up.

     Please renew by filling out the form and mailing it with your check in the enclosed envelope.  Your support helps us keep in contact and provide you with important information about NCCPR.  Ours is a reciprocal relationship - you need to hear from us and we need to hear from you!  (Also see “The Sustainer Program”, on page three).

     Here's to a great year of PR communication and joint work.

The Presidents, Vice-presidents and Board


     Session Two from 2:30 to 3:30 p.m. features a workshop/panel: "How Do You Count Those Transferable Ballots, Anyway?" moderated by Jim Lindsay of NCCPR. Planned concurrent panels include: "Hitler, Coalitions and Complexity: Impact of PR on Policy-making," "Foundations and Political Reform," and "The Voting Rights Act and Representation of Minorities."                                         

Planned concurrent panels include: "Hitler, Coalitions and Complexity: Impact of PR on Policy-making," "Foundations and Political Reform," and "The Voting Rights Act and Representation of Minorities."

   The third and final session from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. will discuss voter participation, media coverage, and PR in California, Texas, Illinois, and New Mexico. 

   Sunday's workshops will be devoted to training activists in the fine points of their local work.  Speaker training, organization of state and local chapters, and the role of minority parties in advancing reform are among the workshops planned for Sunday morning.

   That afternoon's plenary is entitled, "2020 Vision: Real Democracy and How to Get There," with John B. Anderson, President of  the Center for Voting and Democracy, giving the opening remarks and Rob Richie, Executive Director of CV&D moderating.  Panelists include Zach Pollet, ACORN, Kathy Spillar, Feminist Majority Foundation, and Carol Miller, New Mexico Green Party.  After the plenary, from 2:30 to 3:30 p.m. there will be small group sessions, followed by a closing plenary session from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. with report-backs from the small groups and parting comments by CV&D. 

   The cost of the conference is $30 for the full week-end, $20 for one day (breakfast and lunch included), after 9/1/98, $40 and $25 respectively/scholarships for low income.

   Juices, tea, coffee, water, fruit, bagels and sweet rolls will be served both mornings at 8:30 a.m. registration. Lunches will be catered in the cafeteria both Saturday and Sunday.

   For registration information contact Steve Hill, CV&D West Coast Director, (415) 665-5044 or e-mail to voteaction@hotmail.com or see www.fairvote.org.

   Since NCCPR is co-sponsoring this event, we ask you to volunteer for tasks on both days.  Call Steve and let him know what you can do.


What’s happening in your neck of the woods by Jim Lindsay, V.P. Local Chapters


Things tend to slow down a bit in the summer due to vacations and the like, but here is what is happening.


SAN FRANCISCO CPR  is still focusing on promoting IRV for governmental elections.  A strategic decision was made not to push to get it on the November 1998 ballot, because there would not be enough time to educate the public prior to the election.  SF CPR meets monthly -- contact Wayne Shepard at 415/681-2580 or pauldebits@juno.com  for more information.

ALAMEDA COUNTY CPR is focusing on getting non-governmental groups, especially colleges and high schools, to use PR and IRV.  It is currently doing research and making contacts at several colleges and high schools.  It meets every two months, contact Jim Lindsay at 510/527-8025 or jimlindsay@jerel.com  for more information.

SANTA ROSA CPR has two new co-coordinators: Morgan Vierheller (707/545-5011, mrgnsms@metro.net) and Al Liner (707/579-5885).  They will start in September.  We wish to thank Cathy Allio, the outgoing coordinator, for all her hard work.  Cathy plans to stay very active in the chapter, but just can't do coordination right now.

CHAPTERS IN FORMATION !  Sacramento County has enough members to form a chapter, we need to find one or two coordinators.  Santa Clara County has enough members, too, and we have one co-coordinator, David Olsen (408/226-9425, david.olsen@idt.com), but we still need one more.  Contra Costa County has almost enough members. 

TRAINING PROGRAM  From October there will be seminars most months.  Some of these will be focused on local chapter coordinators, others are suitable for those seriously interested in PR.  Tentative Schedule:  October -- Speaking 201  Making a Basic PR Speech:    November -- Leadership 101 Principles of Leadership:      December -- Organizing 101  Basic Organizing:   Details next issue!

If you live in any county that doesn't have a chapter yet, and you'd be willing to coordinate or co-coordinate a chapter, call Jim Lindsay at 510/527-8025.





     The 1998 AGM took place in the meeting hall of the historic and beautiful Golden Gate Valley public library in the Pacific Heights neighborhood of San Francisco.  The over twenty attendees left-off basking in the library's sunny courtyard to participate in the afternoon's business of winding up a year's  activities and planning for the next.

     Among those in attendance were new student representatives from the University of California at Santa Cruz and San Francisco State University. Libertarian, Peace and Freedom, Green, Democrat, and Republican Party members came from Northern California counties of Alameda, San Francisco, Santa Clara, and Contra Costa.

     Alpine county Professor Wilma Rule gave a focused presentation on a new book she is writing on PR's usefulness in getting women elected.  She also told us of  work she is doing with women's organizations, such as the National Women's Political Caucus, which are beginning to look at PR to increase representation of women in Congress.

     First order of business was a short presentation by co-presidents Barbara Blong and Betty Traynor who summed up the work of the past year and emphasized the importance of education for the coming year.

     Secondly, vice-presidential updates were given.  Jim Lindsay explained local growth and activity, member- ship work, and volunteer recruitment.  Within his national and state report, Steven Chessin discussed the status of the McKinney Bill and his considerable progress working for PR within the California Democratic Party, the national and California League of Women Voters, and the California chapter of the National Organization for Women.  Pete Martineau's administrative report and Nat Lerner's newsletter/brochure reports were given in abstensia.

     Finally, we passed a fiscal year budget (June 1998 - May 1999) of $8500, based on a projected income of approximately $6000 from renewals and donations, presented by Treasurer, Marda Stothers.

     There followed an hour-long discussion of regional and national PR activities.  Steve Hill, West Coast Director of the Center for Voting and Democracy, told us about the Center's activities, particularly its research on re-districting, and plans for the PR conference in San Francisco in September (see accompanying article), co-sponsored by CV&D and NCCPR.

     While most of us were deep in discussion, Steve Willits was using choice voting (formerly called preference voting) to count the ballots for the nine new Board members.  After 10 rounds with 55 qualified ballots counted, Jim Lindsay, Steve Hill, Pete Martineau, Steve Chessin, Betty Traynor, Barbara Blong, and Marda Stothers were re-elected, and Joan Strasser and Richard Winger won first-time election.  The new by-law amendment to add Board members so all political parties are represented passed 48 for with 4 opposed.

     The last 30 minutes of the meeting was a brain-storming session on a "To Do" list for the coming  year.  Ideas included completing our informational brochure for tabling and other uses, making sure Doug Amy's book, Real Choices, New Voices, and new shortened booklet, Proportional Representation: The Case for a Better Election System,  are available in local public libraries, as well as to chairs of political science departments, getting local organizations to use or endorse choice voting, and getting more sponsors for the McKinney Bill.

     After the meeting, Richard Winger hosted a great buffet supper party with fine foods prepared by Marda Stothers.  Audio and video tapes about PR were listened to, watched, and slept through (we have photos to prove it),  during an evening of  impassioned PR discussions.  A great time was had by all and we hope next year's AGM party features double the amount of salmon mousse.





Do you want to financially support NCCPR and CV&D ? Then the Sustainer Program is for you!


You agree to a certain amount per month, and decide how much goes to CPR and how much to CV&D. You can be billed monthly, every two, three, four, or six months -- it is up to you! The minimum is $5 a month to CPR.  You will become a “Sustainer Member”, and will be thanked publicly in the newsletter, but not billed in the annual billing.


For details contact Jim Lindsay  at 510/527-8025


Santa Clara County moves towards IRV


The Santa Clara County Charter Review Committee (CRC) started meeting in Oct. 1997 to consider revisions to Santa Clara County's charter.  Two of the ideas proposed by NCCPR members were switching to a system of  PR  for the Board of Supervisors, and using Instant Runoff Voting (IRV) for the other positions (Assessor, County Sheriff, and District Attorney).  Currently, the Board is elected by district, and all elections require a runoff in November if no one gets a majority in the June (or March) primary.

     In March 1998 the CRC dropped proportional representation as "too complicated" (their assessment), but was intrigued by the concept of IRV. 

     At its June 22nd meeting the CRC decided to recommend amending the Charter to allow (but not require) the use of IRV, once the

technology to handle it was available.  (The county currently uses the punch card PollStar system which is not amenable to IRV, but does plan to eventually upgrade to a system that could accommodate IRV.)

     This recommendation will go before the Board of Supervisors at a public hearing scheduled for August 4th.  If the Supervisors accept the recommendation, the proposal will be on the November ballot!


Voice for Democracy is published by Northern Californians for Proportional Representation.

Our web site at http://worldview-bbs.com/~cpr/ has more up-to-date information. Please submit articles/letters for publication to: c/o Nat Lerner, Voice for Democracy, 1106 Pajaro Street, #4, Salinas, CA. 93901 or e-mail to NL0916@sprynet.com.




   Voice for Democracy

Northern California CPR

P.O. Box 128

Sacramento, California 95812