International


Moldova

By Dennis Polhill, 1997

BACKGROUND

The fall of the Berlin Wall on the other 9/11 … November 9, 1989, symbolized a blow against repression and on behalf of liberty. Eastern European Communist dictators subsequently fell in weekly succession. The USSR was composed of 15 “independent” Republics (When Lenin wrote the Soviet Constitution, the American Civil War had been relatively recent. Lenin wrote his constitution to avoid similar events among his Union members, pledging that each republic to join the Soviet Union would remain independent and free to leave at their pleasure. The reality of this promise proved otherwise). In the face of economic turmoil in 1991, Soviet Union President, Mikhail Gorbachev, sought to consolidate his power by reaffirming the Soviet Constitution with their first national referendum vote. Discontent among the participants resulted in inconsistencies. Some independent republics refused to participate in the referendum or neglected to schedule the election. Others placed other issues or qualifying conditions on their ballots. In the end, the largest referendum in world history reaffirmed nothing other than the independent republics may be independent after all. Gorbachev was still president, but president of nothing. There no longer was a Soviet Union. The USSR had an aggregate population of 300 million. When the 15 independent republics went their separate ways, Russia remained with a population of 150 million with Boris Yeltsin as its president.

Throughout the remainder of 1991 the Newly Independent States busily adopted new constitutions. Among other things and departing from socialist tradition these constitutions recognized the right of individuals to own property. Government bureaucracies resisted the creation of property rights by roadblocks of all kinds. As time passed, the natives grew increasingly restless asking “The constitution says I can own property. Where is my property?”

The various former Communist states attacked the problem differently. In Russia and Mongolia, having been under communism for over 70 years, there was virtually no living memory of property ownership. Others, such as Czech, had become communist after WW II and the elders remembered the property they once owned. In Czech, anyone who could prove their property ownership prior to confiscation had it returned on Feb. 1, 1993. So by a date-certain all property in Czech was either returned to its original owner, was in dispute because ownership evidence was inconclusive, or there was no claim and the state could dispose of the unclaimed properties by other means. Not knowing how to approach the task, most former Soviet Republics did little or nothing.

By 1996 the rumblings among the masses were noticed by USAID who wisely went to the most obscure piece (Moldova) of the FSU to find the most obscure collective farm (Mayak) where they paid all of the bribes, extortion and outrageous fees to subdivide the farm so every individual could have their own small farm. To grasp the scale of a collective farm, Americans should think of rural Iowa where an entire county would be a collective farm. The county would have a population of 1000 people. About half of the population would be farmers. The other half would be teachers, doctors, mechanics, etc. in a centrally located small town. When the subdividing was done, land titles were issued in a formal ceremony in January 1997. The emotional experience garnered major media coverage throughout the FSU, but none in the U.S.

USAID had proven issuing property to the people was possible. The next goal was to make it repeatable. Doing it a second time was not sufficient. This time USAID wisely refused to pay the bribes, etc., recognizing that the subdividing costs exceeded the property value. If the transaction costs exceed the value of the property, there could never be a secondary market. There would never be another sale after the initial subdivision.

USAID determined to do 70 collective farms, offering contracts paid in U.S. dollars to surveyors who would leave their government jobs to establish their own firms to do the work. Each surveyor would have several farms in their part of the country. The compensation would work out to about one dollar per parcel, which was a little more than a man-day equivalent (comparable to the U.S.). The economy of scale made this practical for the surveyors and workable for establishing a secondary market.

The bureaucracy was not happy with the USAID plan. Their gravy train of bribes, extortion and fees was at risk. When the program was announced one of the government ministers went on national TV demanding that the program be boycotted. Fortunately Paul Revere is alive and well (he just happens to not live in the U.S.). Sergi Gori was a 26 year old surveying instructor who reasoned, “They have lied to us forever about everything. Now they tell us to boycott. Therefore, the right thing must be the opposite of what they say.” Sergi was the first to sign a contract. As soon as there was one leader, there was a second and a third and finally 10 private companies existed. USAID had created a private sector for surveying and consulting engineering in Moldova.

When the wall came down, President Bush created a non-profit organization, CDC (Citizens Democracy Corps). It was a data base of resumes from volunteers. CDC matched resumes to requests for help. I had submitted a resume. The USAID subcontractor, Booz, Allen, and Hamilton, submitted a request for a surveyor who had left his government job to establish his own company as an advisor to the 10 new Moldovan surveying companies. My phone rang. They wanted me to go to Moldova for 2 months to fulfill this purpose. Had I not previously visited USSR, Czechoslovakia, and China, my apprehension would likely have been too great to accept. The diary of my time in Moldova follows.

The successful subdivision of the 70 collective farms in Moldova was of great interest throughout the Former Soviet part of the world. Georgia, instantly copied the Moldova program and was the first country to subdivide all of its collective farms. Ukraine being larger, more bureaucratic, and more corrupt, was still struggling to divide its farms in 2009. Moldova subdivided all of its collective farms defining property for all of its 4 million people. When the project was complete, the market for surveying shrank and several of the 10 surveyor-entrepreneurs went in different directions. One of the 10 businesses failed. At least two did collective farm subdividing in other countries. One used his surveying profits to buy a restaurant. One bought a prime piece of real estate in his town center and built an office building. Several serviced the secondary market for land transactions. Sergi relocated to his home town and established a chicken processing business.

Each collective farm elected both a Mayor and a President, both elected by the same population. The President of the collective farm managed the farming. He decided what crops would be planted in which fields, when they would plant, fertilized, irrigated and harvested and which workers would go to which fields on which days. The Mayor managed the remainder of the collective farm activities: doctors, teachers, mechanics, etc. The subdivision process was complicated by the fact that the people knew which parts of the collective farm were most productive. So a complex land fertility index system was established so those who received less productive land would get more land. Because wine is so important to the Moldovan culture, each farmer received 3 parcels: tillable land, orchard, and vineyard.

Non-farmers received a “garden plot.” Many of these garden plots turned into building lots, as they eagerly sought escape from city tenement life. In other words, where suburbs had previously not existed because the state prevented it, given a modicum of freedom the people busily invented suburbs. I witnessed the same thing in Cancun, Mexico. There, with a rented car, in addition to the normal tourist sights, I drove away from the beach as far as the road went. There, just like the people in Moldova, people were busily busting their butts to build single family dwellings from nothing. No money, no tools, no vehicle … carrying a couple of brick on their back for miles to add it to THEIR home.

Once the Moldovan farmers had their own land, they could make their own choices. Some would sell to send their child to college or lease to their neighbor, or farm it alone. In many cases they chose to re-collectivize, working together to operate one large farm, often under the leadership of the former president of the collective. About half of the farmers in each collective chose to go this route, the one they knew best. Each individual still had title to his land and could leave or sell at his sole discretion. Mongolia privatized its collective farms by creating an enterprise for each collective farm with the same boundaries and functions as the original collective farm … and each farmer then received ownership (or stock) shares in the enterprise.

CULTURE STORIES

I often relate stories of my personal experience in Moldova of how socialism injured the culture, the work ethic, the morals, and more, but have been derelict in not documenting these for future reference by others.

Apples: The one I have told the most often is about apples. When communism collapsed, so did the food distribution systems. So a farmer had a pile of apples he had harvested and says to me, “My apples will rot.” I reacted the same as every American I have told this story to by saying, “I don’t see a problem. Throw them on a truck and take them to town. Problem solved. Better yet, buy up some more apples, load them on a barge and take them to Istanbul and make even more money.” Farmer: “I could never get permission to do that.” The reaction of every American: “These are my apples. No one better get in the way of me selling them.” How is it that an American instantly knows the solution and no Moldovan does? The story exposes a corrupting influence of socialism on the culture. People are afraid to make decisions and to take action.

Peace Corps: Conceptually I think the Peace Corps is a good thing. But one has to question how the U.S. uses and manages it when one observes what I saw in the field. A couple examples follow.

Central Planning: I was tasked to attend a meeting. One of the presenters was a Peace Corps volunteer. After making several idiotic statements such as there no longer being any fish in the oceans, he responded to a local question about how Moldova should fix its economy. The Peace Corps volunteer commented, “You need more central planning.” Well, former Communists may not know much, but I will go out on a limb here and suggest central planning is one thing they know is wrong. This adds up to at least two massively misleading comments in one short presentation. If the Peace Corps is dispatched to help people, volunteers should know enough to ‘first do no damage’ … and try not to say anything when they don’t know anything. Moldovans are economically poor and not many of them will ever have the opportunity to visit the ocean to learn that they were misled.

Propaganda: I’m not remembering the details of how this came to happen. I was out in some remote part of Moldova, probably visiting one of the surveyors and there was a local NGO (non government organization) to which had a veteran Peace Corps volunteer had been assigned and with whom I was to meet. The telephone system in Moldova was unreliable but a meeting was finally set up. I arrived at the appointed time, 10:00 am. The guy was not there. After a time the NGO manager tried to phone him. Finally someone was sent to retrieve him. When he appeared, he demonstrated perhaps the worst attitude problem I have ever observed. He was obviously sleeping in intentionally to avoid meeting with me. He joined PC after serving in the U.S. military and had a prior PC assignment in Africa and he was in his second tour in Moldova. Evidently his only job with the NGO was to keep their two desktop computers working, so he probably did not put in very many hours … making the meeting with me a big imposition on him. Early in our exchange his problem was revealed so I got him outside the office so fewer of the locals could listen to his rants. Basically, he had adopted the belief that the Peace Corps should not be in Moldova because unlike Africa, Moldova had electricity part of the day. He called the PC presence in Moldova “propaganda.” Right or wrong on this point, Peace Corps volunteers are representatives of the U.S. (supposedly ambassadors of goodwill) and convey more by attitude, outlook, and behavior than anything they can do physically. This guy was out of his mind and probably should have been terminated. Where was his supervisor and why did they allow this negative individual to damage both the U.S. and Moldova by his presence?

Overhead Cost: Early after my arrival in Moldova, many of the new surveyor entrepreneurs were assembled for dinner so they could meet each other and gain some confidence in the project they were about to undertake. My assignment was to stay close to Peter, probably the most entrepreneurial of the surveyors and probably the strongest leader. Peter was a realist and expressed his fear, “If the communists come back, we will be the first to be hanged.” I assured him that could not happen. Because of how the seating worked out, Peter and I ended up with 2 translators. When we got into more of a business discussion, I noticed difficulty when I used the word “overhead cost.” The translators talked to each other and in the end Peter had a blank expression. I knew we had not communicated. My office was a bull pen with about 12 people: 6 translators, 3 surveyors (They were the big picture surveyors, not the contractors. These were probably the 3 most technically competent surveyors in Moldova), me and a few others. I went to the head translator and said, “I think there is a problem translating the word ‘overhead cost.’” Everyone went to the other side of the room and formed what looked to me like a football huddle. There was lots of noise and activity. Finally one of them approached me saying, “We know the meaning of overhead cost. It is when a project does not have enough money.” I said, “No. That is over run.” So, the moral of the story is, socialists understand a project running out of money, but have no clue about indirect costs … non-project related costs … overhead cost. I prepared a hand out defining overhead cost which went to all of the surveyors. It was Managerial Accounting 101 on one sheet of paper.

GPS: One of the 3 main surveyors came over to my desk one day asking, “Is GPS real?” Being the technical expert that he was, I thought the question somewhat odd. I started into explaining as best I could 3 dimensional triangulation and he interrupted saying he knew all of that. He wanted to know whether satellite global position was real and currently functioning technology. Are there really satellites up there that can do this? Wow!! I think GPS requires a fleet of 28 satellites. Both the U.S. and the USSR had their own fleet. But the Soviet GPS system was available only to their military. Meaning not even their most competent technical people were sure that GPS was real. So the correct answer to his question was “yes.” Now, how to prove it to him? Is it fair to conclude that the more secrets a government has from its people, the more authoritarian it is? I think so.

Profits: Under socialism, “profit” is a word that does not exist. So, the survey firms were getting familiar with some new verbiage. I was meeting with one of the surveyors. We had a long discussion about the best way for him to get his phones answered while he was away. He had hired a neighbor lady, who apparently did her job randomly and to her personal satisfaction, not his. Most of his calls were not being answered. Those answered rarely resulted in a message. We talked about him getting an answering machine. His objection was a machine costs more than a person. But the person is not doing the job. So it went. In the U.S. we fire such people. Evidently the lady harbored no such fear. She gets paid; any work she does is a bonus. As we parted he commented on how much money he would make now that he is a private business. Somehow he got it in his head that a 15% profit was automatic … an entitlement. To make him think about it, I said, “Maybe. More than 15% if your get the work done faster and less if you get the work done slower. And if you have to do the work a second time to get it right, your profit might be negative.” There was no evidence of any planning that would help him complete his projects efficiently. By contrast, in a similar discussion with Peter, he brought out a ledger book, where he had set up pages for each project and broken each project into tasks including time and cost estimates for each task. At the end he included a 10% contingency for unexpected difficulties and figured on doing all of the work with 50% of the contract amount … meaning, obviously, his intent was to make 50% profit. My guess: it was more likely that Peter got his 50% than the other guy got his 15%.

Roofs: While visiting the surveyor in northern Moldova and driving thru his town, I observed that the roofs on most of the houses appeared to be made of aluminum. He confirmed my observation. I said, “Aluminum seems to be a very expensive way to make a roof.” He said, “No. The aluminum is free.” As it turns out before the fall of the USSR, there had been an airplane factory in this town with most of the population working in it. The often heard Soviet maxim came to mind, “They pretend to pay us and we pretend to work.” Evidently this means, if you don’t like your wages, you are entitled to steal from your employer. Further, there is apparently no shame to this theft as most of the town had turned their homes into billboards announcing that they are thieves. Again socialism has worked to undermine the moral fabric of the culture on multiple fronts. When the Soviet Union fell, pessimists said it would be a generation for their economies to recover. Before their economies can work, they must have basic morality. Perhaps the pessimists were not pessimistic enough. How do they ever get this entitlement mentality and the immoral behavior that goes with it out of their thought process?

Street Sweeping: Many mornings I went jogging about 6 am and the streets were filled with hundreds of people sweeping the leaves by hand from the streets and sidewalks. Finally I asked Tonya (my translator) about this. First, why does this need to be done daily. Second, why not get the workers real brooms (instead of the thatched twig brooms they use) to be more efficient. Third, why not do it with a machine. She said with a straight face, if they did it more efficiently, those people would be without jobs. I said, no they would be free to do other work. She did not grasp my point. Socialism had deprived her of an understanding of the importance of the individual and the value an individual can contribute to society.

CIA: Each evening I walked down to the park to buy ice cream. One night one of my translators was there with her boyfriend, an attorney working with us to write Moldova’s first land code. I bought them ice cream. Sitting on a park bench, they finally got up the nerve to ask the question that had been bothering them. “Everyone says that the CIA tells the Americans here what to do.” Me: “Two things about that. First, thank you for having the comfort with me to ask the question. And, second, by asking the question, that tells me you don’t understand Americans very well. If the CIA did that, every American I know would instantly do the opposite of what they are told to do.” I left them to ponder. For me it was one more example of the authoritarian state imposing on its people and beating them down (subjugating them) to the point that they don’t know any longer what is true or not true. The corrupting influence of socialism has struck again.

Students: After many trips to the park and near the end of my stay, a group of 5 or 6 college students recognized me as a regular and approached as I enthusiastically ate my ice cream. They asked to confirm what they already knew … I was American on short term stay. They asked 3 simple questions about America which I answered as best I could and they summarily departed. I would have preferred to chit-chat longer. First they asked about Americans speaking second languages. I said there was essentially none (most folks here speak 5 or so languages. Not so much as a product of American being ignorant, but as a product of the countries being small and close … so they gain exposure from a young age). To the extent that there is a second language, it would be Spanish and I guess that 5% of Americans can speak it. Next they asked about race. They wanted to know how many blacks there were in America. I didn’t know but guessed it was less than 20% (the correct number is near 12%). They were shocked … probably because of sports events and entertainment they have seen on TV. They thought the U.S. was majority black. I don’t recall the third questions, which tells me it is a good thing to be writing some of this down.

Orange Juice: There were other volunteers besides me and the Peace Corps. These tended to be business people trying to do what they could to help. Most would come for a shorter time (more typically 2 weeks) and work with a single company in an industry with which they had experience. Factories were now called “enterprises.” The same people worked at them with the same management structure as under communism, but ownership had been transferred from the state to the people via a voucher system which ended with people owning shares of stock. I had met another American on his way home as I arrived. He had set up the Moldovan stock exchange and advised me to go look. I did and the guard was about to harass me until I said “Americanski” and then I had my run of the place and took some photos. It was a large room with 50 or more computer stations. But no people were there; nothing was happening; no stock was being traded. Because the stock was not paying dividends, it had no value and no one had the incentive to speculate and trade. I always wondered whether someone could buy all of the worthless stock for all of the worthless companies for peanuts and just sit on it … or change the incentives so people actually started to do their jobs. Back to orange juice … another volunteer I met was assigned to help an orange juice factory. We met 3 or 4 times. He was very frustrated and did not know what to write in his final report. The orange juice factory could not make money. It could not generate enough revenue to pay its people. So they paid them in boxes of orange juice … which made the black market problem worse … and further damaging the tax revenue stream needed to fund the government. Under communism there was no sales department and no marketing department, but they had 30 or so people in accounting calculating what the fee should be for a box of juice. The factory produced 2 sizes: 400 milliliters and 500 milliliters. Evidently, no one ever thought that the consumer might prefer a family size or anything else … but this is socialist culture, so not to worry, no consideration for consumers is given or expected. I suggested that maybe he should recommend that half of the accountants become sales representatives … even though the personality types for those two functions tend to be opposites. Thus, this recommendation would be convenient and compassionate (not firing the excess accountants), by design it was high risk, meaning even though the organizational structure would be improved, chances of success due to personality miss-match would likely be a problem. Under communism everyone’s job is safe, even the manager. So the idea of the manager holding an underperforming worker accountable or being accountable himself is another cultural issue. When the state privatized the enterprises, it kept 10% of the stock shares. If they really wanted their factories to start performing, they could divest that stock. It is wrong for the state to hold stock anyway. State minority stock holdings diminish the value of both the enterprise and all stock shares. The state could issue minority shareholder rights to itself and by so doing control all decisions with just a 10% share. One means of divesting could be to offer the 10% as a performance incentive for the CEO … or it could be a discounted purchase offered to the CEO based on performance of the enterprise … a stock option. I don’t know what was recommended.

Agricultural economics: Another volunteer was a Rhode Island university professor. He showed me the teaching aids he had created to use with his farmer-students. Unbelievable: It was first grade stuff. If you plant corn, seed cost this, fertilizer costs this, yield is this, sales price is this and revenue minus expenses is net. Repeat the exercise for wheat and beans etc. and then the farmer can make a rational choice about which crop to plant.

Opportunities: The last time I met with all of my surveyors before I came home, I offered them a challenge. Knowing how inept the average CEO was in Moldova, I suggested the room was filled with some of the best entrepreneurial talent in Moldova, because they had incurred expenses, they got the job done and they made money. How many others in Moldova have this experience? My parting homework assignment: go home and read the front page of your local newspaper and identify a minimum of 5 business opportunities that you might have interest in. I don’t know that they did their homework. Most of them seem to be doing OK now from the little I know. Peter is the only one who has managed to learn English. He now has email and is my only remaining contact in Moldova. Because of ongoing corruption in Moldova, he is considering immigrating to Czech.

Mass transit: Chisinau had trolleys. The fare was 1 cent (U.S. equivalent). But this is a socialist culture, so no one paid, except for the ignorant tourists (silly me). Probably the most thriving industry in the country was mobility. Vans could not be imported fast enough. They had invented the jitney industry (outlawed in the U.S. because it is more efficient than buses). A jitney is a van that runs a semi-fixed route, picking up and dropping off customers at the customer’s convenience. The fare was $1.00 per trip, but people willingly pay 100 times as much as the trolley because it got them where they need to go, when they need to get there. Perhaps jitneys are a concept that can be legalized someday in the U.S. … more mobility for less cost and at higher value to the consumer.

Corruption: Moldovans always had questions about America. During an interruption to one of the surveyor meetings, someone asked. “How can we ever succeed with this corruption and the Mafia stealing from us?” Those who know me would be shocked that I had an accidental astute reply. “Because you know that the U.S. had periods like this in its history (cowboys and Indians and train robbers and prohibition) and the U.S. made it thru successfully and is now better because of that experience, tells you there is an end possible. And because you know this history, you can get thru this period in your history faster than the U.S. was able to.”

Oklahoma City: In a similar setting the question came up about the Oklahoma City bombing. I said, “There are crazy people everywhere.” It was fun to watch them look at each other, starting to nod and smile. Every family has a crazy cousin.

Race Riots: Another time the locals were shocked to learn that the U.S. race riots were real. Communists had made a big point of these to illustrate the evils of capitalism. They said, “Because they lied to us so often, we never believed the race riots were real.” Amazing!! The lesson from this for the U.S. is our government should lie less in order to sustain credibility.

Ethnic Friction: I often practiced my “buna dimi natsa” (good morning in Romanian) with the locals. Frequently someone would correct me with, “Oh, he’s ‘Russian’ and cannot understand you.” Well, “Russian” did not mean he was Russian. Rather, it meant he was not Moldovan, which in turn meant he was not welcome and did not belong here. Many of these “Russians” were born here and simply never learned to speak Moldovan. In speaking with a tourist translator, she mentioned she was Bulgarian. I said, that is very interesting; how long have you lived in Moldova? She said, “300 years.” By that way of thinking not many of us are Americans.

DIARY

May 11, 1997 – Sunday – 9:30 am … Left Denver on Delta Airlines, changed in Cincinnati. Laid over 5 hrs. in Frankfurt, Germany. Spoke with German and Lituanian on airplane. Arrived Frankfurt 6:00 am. Tried internet phone in Frankfurt airport … it failed to send my emails, but did not fail to take my money.

May 12, 1997 – Monday – 11:15 am … I departed Frankfurt to Budapest on Malev (Hungarian Air). Arrived 1:00 pm. 50 to 100 soldiers were guarding Budapest airport. I took a taxi ($13.00) to second airport to catch the connecting flight. I tried to speak with young Hungarian mother with 2 year old daughter returning from L.A. The Hungarian language is different from the Slovak and Romance languages. On same flight was U.S. West cell phone system man from Tennessee going to Budapest. He gave me melatonin to help with sleep. They were putting up cell phone towers and mounting a cell phone on the walls of the homes, skipping the land-line step. Moldova Airlines was a turboprop. They served much wine and Champagne and bread with a meal. I sat with the head of the Moldova Chamber of Commerce. I was charged extra for my suitcase. I arrived in Chisinau at 6:00 pm. Irina of VOCA and a driver picked me up. She graduated high school in Kansas City. At my apartment I met Ludmila, who was with the Center for Private Business Reform (CPBR). In transit I also met Jerry and Julie Mosher and Joe Saunders from Georgia. They were building a Baptist Church.

May 13, 1997 – Tuesday – 5:00 am … Up. Jogged 33 minutes to McDonalds and back. 8:45 Irina arrived. We walked to the BAH (Booz, Allen, Hamilton) office. Met Bob Cemovich (boss), Al Slipher (second in command) and other BAH staff. My office is with five translators and three surveyors. Tanya (head translator) talked the most. Another American engineer will arrive soon to help with the project. Had lunch in office for $1.60. Veal, noodles, bread and coke. I did not eat cucumber salad. Mid-afternoon apple juice. Igor set up my computer with email address and delivered my emails (8). The office is open 24-7 hours with security guard. Too late to change money. Banks close at 6:00. Phoned Ludmila and Joe Saunders – Emailed Debby and Brian Propp (a friend with state department stationed in Kiev, Ukraine) and Doug Till (writing an Independence Institute paper).

May 14, 1997 – Wednesday – Today was a big day. I was the first one in the office at 8:00. Did some emails. Changed $100 to Lei. Met Steve, U.S. attorney working on enterprise sales. He was very frustrated. The government does not want the people to own property. He says the entire program is at a standstill. Clearly, the most important thing that needs to be done is to move the government out of the way (sound like the U.S.). I spoke a long time with Tonya, chief translator, regarding resistance to privatization. She is 27 and seems to understand markets. Evening was a dinner. I should have had my camera – a historical event. Several (about 5) of the survey firms were present. The purpose was to let them know that they are not alone. They are being pressured and intimidated because they are staking out the land for private ownership. I was assigned to sit with Peter from Cahul (the south). BAH is concerned that he is undertaking too many farms and will lose control. Peter is a university professor with two sons. One plays college basketball. Peter seems very competent. Part of the reason he is getting much work is that the farmers are coming to him. It seems that he is effective at the difficult task of reconciling disputes among the farmers so that the subdivision and privatization may move ahead. Once the farmers agree among themselves, the power of the government officials to frustrate the process is gone. Peter understands the need for property rights and said he “would be the first to be hanged if the communists returned.” I said it was impossible … but his concern illustrates the fear and pressure the surveyors are under. I could barely contain tears many times as we spoke. Who knows what they are going thru, and how important it is, not just to their freedom but to the freedom of all people everywhere?

May 15, 1997 – Thursday – Ran again … every day so far … 30+ minutes. Got to office at 8:30. Emailed attached file to Doug Till and suggested to Dave Bishop that he contact John Semmons. Bob Cemovich took me to the weekly embassy meeting with 6 or 7 U.S. entities cooperating on various aspects of privatization. A good, but too short, talk with Bob in the car. He was impressed with my Marshall Plan research of 1993 (not published). We will do lunch Saturday. At noon I went to VOCA office and met the people there: Irina, Elaina, Visili, Sergi, Giani. VOCA will pay me $10/day and they gave me $200 in advance. BAH will pay the same. … So I will probably take more money home than I brought. I went to Ukraine Embassy for a Visa to visit Ukraine, but they are open only 10 to 12 on M, W, & F. Went on Crivoca Winery tour. It is like a city 200 meters (600 feet) underground. Blocks of limestone are carved from underground to use for building and the remaining tunnels are the winery. The tunnels are 120 km (75 miles) in length. 1,000,000 bottle so wine are stored here. We were forced to try 12 different kinds and they gave two bottles as samples to each person. I spoke at length with Valery Efimov (CPBR) about the problems of the privatization program. Vouchers were issued to all citizens and exchanged at auctions for stock in 1500 companies. Some stock and some companies are still held by the state. Very few companies pay stock dividends and because the state has some stock in every company, it wants veto power over decisions. Mike from MOP (Ministry of Privatization) forced me to drink too much wine. Had dinner with Ludmilla (the VOCA-landlord facilitator). Watched video of Rumanian folk dances. Bed at 11:30.

May 16, 1997 – Friday – Up at 4:00 am – Ran around lake. Wrote in diary. In office at 8:30. Sent emails. Met Rick, the surveyor who just arrived from Florida, not licensed, but a competent hands-on surveyor. Lunch with Rick and Tanya at Turkish restaurant. A long meeting before and after lunch regarding the steps to convey land. Salary for entry level teacher is 80 Lei (what 3 of us paid for lunch today) = $17/month. Office has wine and cognac after work. Drank too much … again … there seems to be a theme here.

May 17, 1997 – Saturday – Overslept. Up at 8:00. At office at 9:00. More too-long meetings before and after lunch regarding coordinate systems, aerial photos, maps, and other procedures. Lunch with Bob C. (Mexican) making some goal decisions. Talked again about Marshall Plan. I will give talk to Moldovan attorneys about term limits and petitions. I will go on a bunch of 2 day trips to visit the fledgeling surveying companies and evaluate their procedures. Left at 4:00. Bought a 2 liter bottle of Coke for 9 Lei. I got an ice cream bar for 1.6 Lei. I could not find grocery store or bread. Home, nap, CNN (European … I learned more about the impending election in France than any American wants to know). Filtered water and studied history of the one collective farm that has been privatized. Called Deb and Tyler. Bed at 1:00 am.

May 18, 1997 – Sunday. Up at 8:30 am. Ran around lake. Took pictures of apartment. Inventoried the gifts I had brought. Wrote plan on how to approach surveying companies on their business procedures. Ran into Bob from N.C. in the park, listening to band. He and his wife were with 2 other Americans, elderly ladies from Peace Corps. Bob is retired and used to work in finance … and is working with CBPR to help a canning company. Went to circus with Ludmila. Brought a loaf of bread. A big park I walked past had flower vendors side by side (probably more than 50 of them). Called Deb. In bed at 11:00.

May 19, 1997 – Monday – 6:00 am. Ran lake. Many soldiers running also. About 8 groups of 12+. I have been going past the U.S. Embassy to get to the lake. 8:00 at office. Typed memo to Bob.C. Went to Ukraine Embassy again, trying to get them to give me a Visa. Must have a letter of invitation stating purpose. I told them my purpose was to spend tourist dollars there and I knew no one who could supply such a letter. I asked why they were making it so difficult and I might not go. They acted disappointed that I might not go, saying “those are the rules.” Plus, they wanted $50. Maybe it would have been simpler if I offered the $50 first. Later, I changed $100 to lei. Lunch with Sean Carmody, American head of VOCA. Reached David Nolan at Peace Corps. We will try to do dinner next week end. Received 11 emails. Met with Bob C. regarding scope. Studied list of contractors and collective farms, mapping some of the locations. Phoned APFC … Elaine on vacation, spoke with Nancy. Figured out how to check my VM box in Denver. The phones and phone switching system uses the old dialers. So after I’m in the mail box, I switch the phone to “tone.” One of the Moldovan attorneys, Viorelia, turned 25 today. Birthday party at 5:30. I gave 5 lei ($1.00) for her gift. Bob says they find a reason to drink 4 nights per week. Home at 7:30. I walked to grocery store to buy bread, orange juice, vegetable oil, jelly, coke. Asleep at 11:00.

May 20, 1997 – Tuesday – 5:30 am … no running today. Meeting at 7:00 at office to drive to Balti (Moldova’s second largest city and a manufacturing center), where a collective farm was being surveyed. Got back at 10:00 pm. Beers with Rick at Dache Hotel. Home at 11:00. Took 2 cars. Rode with Oxanna and Rick. Met with Mircea Ginju, the surveyor-entrepreneur in Balti area (pronounced “belts”). We looked at his computer and maps. Mircea showed us a Mylar 1:10,000 orthographic map flown in 1987. It shows contours and buildings. Similar maps exist for each collective farm in the country. We had coffee with Mircea. Then we went to the “8 Martie” collective farm associated with the village of Hisnasenii near Cubolta, about 20 km north of Balti. This collective has about 2500 people … 600 retired, 300 children, a school, hospital, 1000 homes, 600 farm workers. We observed Ginju’s field crew surveying a vineyard. Procedures were normal, using 30 year old 30” theodolite and inverted stadia rod. We visited the Primaria (mayor) and president of the collective farm. Both were recently elected as communists in the first ever contested elections. They have lost links to markets and are having difficulty selling their goods. They started building a canning factory but ran out of money. No restaurants for lunch so the school cooks did up some stuff. Lunch went from 1:00 to 5:00. I drank about one tenth of the required alcohol intake which was twice my normal allotment (Evidently, disappointed at my meager alcohol intake, the mayor tried to gain favor by giving me one of the ladies. One would assume they were beyond this level of maturity. I declined his gracious offer in the most diplomatic way possible. I had more drinks). The mayor and the president are torn, but committed to privatization reforms. Back to Balti and more drinks with Ginju and his crew. Finally, we left at 7:00. At the collective also was a representative from MOP (Ministry of Privatization who was paid by CBPR = USAID), Folotorier Pefres, from Socora, even farther north. He pushed hard for a visit to Soroca, MOP. The perspective on this is the sacrifice these people are making for their children. They gave up a level of material security and no freedom so the next generation could have some freedom and opportunity … totally opposite to the U.S. whose policy is to enslave our children with unthinkable debts, taxes and financial burdens.

May 21, 1997 – Wednesday – 6:00 am up and around the lake. Connected with Brian Propp and scheduled lunch Thursday. I got a massage at Dachia Hotel. It was 1 hour for 40 lei = $9.00. She worked hard on beating up my skin but did not do much for the muscles. At the office at 9:00. We discussed the adequacy of Co-Go (coordinate geometry software) program being developed locally. Phoned producer in U.S. – has demo on internet. I located more of the collective farms on the map. I met with Al Slipher about going to survey firms. I met with Vicili Yakub (BAH staff surveyor, Moldovan). Peter from Cahul will be in Friday. 7:00 met Bob and Henrietta Wolbering from N.C. for dinner. I had pork, French fries, bread and wine. Bob is working with a cannery. They have no perception of costs. He gave many stories of pricing stupidity. Like a package of orange juice with 15% more volume priced at 6 times the other package. They mix fixed and variable costs. Excess inventory. Overhead. He had prepared no materials that would be useful for the surveyors. Home at 10:00. To bed at 11:00. Awakened at 3:00 am by the light of the full moon coming in my window.

May 22, 1997 – Thursday – 6:00 am up and around the lake. Confirmed lunch today with Propp. He has a car and will pick me up at the office. More meetings about maps and coordinates. Lunch with Brian at Old City Café … steak and French fries. Discussed Reform Party (this is where Brian and I first met in Colorado) and taxation. His wife, Loella is still in Kiev. His daughters are in Denver. Oldest (20) gets married in July. We will try to do dinner tonight. We will try to meet with Perot when he comes to Denver. After lunch met Sergi Gori, surveyor-contractor. He was the first to sign up, 20 minutes after minister asked all of them to boycott. He is a young professor who works out of his home and has two field crews. I will meet with him again next Thursday. Beers with Bob C., Rick, Allan, Steve, and Joe Murphy. Murphy is helping set up stock exchange. Of the 80 companies, none pay dividends. He is going home due to funding cuts. Bob C. asked for copy of my Marshall Plan research. I went back to office to send emails. I went to park for dinner … ice cream. Bob Wolmering (NC) was out for a walk. We walked together to my place and had wine. Cleaning lady had left flowers. It rained. He went home at 10:00. Propp called for dinner at 10:00 … declined … too late. He was working on press release for container of medical supplies arriving in morning from U.S. military base closing in Germany. To bed at 11:00.

May 23, 1997 – Friday – Mosquito woke me up at 5:00; out of bed at 7:00. No running. Called Debby from office 8:15. Surveyors were in to get paid. I met more of the surveyors. Got schedule commitments for the next 2 weeks. Tonya (the elder of the 2 Tonyas, not the boss-Tanya) will be assigned my permanent translator. I must begin assembling materials for my field visits. Anna (the tall translator) is 20 today, birthday party. Home early and worked on calculating average durations of the 11 work tasks. Lunch with Al, Rick and John. John has a 5 day business course … 1 day of accounting and finance. I will review it with John and try to schedule for the week of June 9. I spoke with Galina. She will try to teach me some Romanian. One day per week for 1 hour for $5.00. Starts Sunday. I will meet Dave Nolan, Peace Corps, Sunday afternoon. Called Debby and Tyler at 1:00 am.

May 24, 1997 – Saturday – Up at 7:00 am. Ran lake … picked up some speed. Finished durations. To office at 9:00. No one was in except a group debating coordinates. Found and read public opinion poll of Moldovans regarding media. Received Kiplinger from Debby by email. Sent emails to Cameryn at the Independence Institute and Anne Campbell, regarding her PhD. dissertation. Lunch with Rick, Gregori Brianu (the lead local BAH surveyor) and John (driver) at El Paso Café. Meeting at 2:00 at CPBR regarding status of 70 farms. Returned to office. Beers with Allan and Rick. Home. Walked to Fidesco (grocery store) to buy bread, cheese, orange juice, cookies, pretzels. Stopped for hot dog and ice cream at park. Walked home a different route … past “the” cathedral. Priests are regularly seen on the streets collecting donations to rebuild the bell towers that the communists demolished throughout Moldova. I made a list of my TV channels, so I would know which language is being spoken on each. Napped; wrote in diary; and snacked on bread and cheese.

May 25, 1997 – Sunday – I was annoyed by a mosquito all night (I bet his name was Dennis). Up at 8:00. No run. Romanian lesson is at 11:00. Galina is the first local to express discomfort with the number of local “Russians.” $5.00. Same time next Sunday. I tried to meet, but could not find, Dave Nolan at the lake. Too many people; a concert. We will do lunch Monday. Sean Carmody, sick, cancelled dinner. Elaina, Sean’s secretary, got a business degree in the U.S. and is studying for a second business degree here. She confirmed that there is no word for “overhead cost,” nor is there any understanding of it. Even her professors have no understanding of it. I wrote some stuff to explain overhead cost to the surveyors. Meet the Press was on TV in the evening but was a rerun from many months prior. It rained constantly from 2:00 pm on. Killed the mosquito. Listened to Romanian language tape. To bed after midnight.

May 26, 1997 – Monday – Up at 6:00 am; ran lake; 8:30 at office. I immediately started an argument among the locals by asking about “overhead cost.” They finally decided it is when a project budget must be increased. “Indirect costs may be what we call overhead.” Met surveyor #7. Lunch with Dave Nolan and Kelly King of the Peace Corps. Dave is working with non-profits, NGOs (non government organizations). Kelly is on a collective farm helping teachers. She is from Virginia, has been here two years and goes home in August. She goes to the Peace Corps office weekly in Chisinau so she can get a shower. Changed $100 to lei. Bought coke. Another massage by Nina at Dachia Hotel for left lower back pain. Back to office. Robert Mitchell, American attorney who is helping local attorneys write land code, and I had dinner. Back to the office. It was too chilly for a T-shirt. Home at 10:00 and to bed at 11:30.

May 27, 1997 – Tuesday – Up at 6:00 am. Slept well; no mosquito; reasonable temperature; no run. To the office at 7:00; woke up security guard. Phoned Peace Corps guy in Cruileni; he will be in office Thursday afternoon so we can stop to talk with him then. Completed a bar chart for surveyors. Left my Marshall Plan file for Bob C. Lunch at office, beef stroganoff. Copied project management manual for surveyors. Talked with NewBizNet about seminar for surveyors. In bed at 11:00.

May 28, 1997 – Wednesday – Awake at 6:00 am; laid in bed thinking about surveyors until 8:00. Organized papers. To office at 10:30. Lunch at office was chicken and mashed potatoes. Met with NewBizNet again. Tanya, head translator, tries to learn 10 new English words each day, so it is a game at lunch to try to stump her. Found a bread place between home and office. Got a loaf of French bread and ate it all. Tanya wants to come to U.S. Reviewed papers for tomorrow.

May 29, 1997 – Thursday – Up before 6:00 am; ran lake; office at 8:00. We headed for Criuleni at 8:30 to meet with Sergi Gori (surveyor) at his office. We discussed his business plan, bar chart, corporate goals, balance sheet, and overhead costs. Lunch with Sergi and his parents. He is 25 was a teacher of surveying. He will succeed. Stopped at the MOP regional office to meet Richard Corey, Peace Corps. He had nothing to offer and thinks the Peace Corps should not be here. PC presence here is “propaganda, not humanitarian assistance.” I gave him a mini-cheerleader speech. I doubt that he is capable of much leadership. We picked up Adrian (computer guy) who we had left with Sergi. Back to the BAH office at 4:30. Home; then to the park for hot dog; phoned Larissa in Moscow and Brian Propp in Kiev. To bed at 11:00.

May 30, 1997 – Friday – Up at 6:00 am; no run; at office at 8:00; did emails. Loretta (USAID) is scheduled to go with us to Orhei; need a bigger car. When she arrived, we learned she could not go; back to plan A. We got to Orhei at 9:30. Vlad Sevcenco and Efim Trajanovsky, partners, were not ready. Vlad seemed to have a good handle on the money. He acted as if he understood “overhead cost.” Vlad had little interest in surveying and is involved in other entrepreneurial ventures. They moved the conversation to marketing. We discussed brochures and statements of qualifications. They want to do GIS conversion work. I left them a Walsh and Associates (environmental engineering firm in Colorado) brochure. They had planned lunch at collective farm and tour of the castle (most of the castles in Moldova had been dismantled during the Islamic occupation). Because we had to be back at 2:00 for a meeting, we had a quick restaurant lunch and skipped the castle tour. I left them a U.S. Atlas and maps of Colorado and Denver. At lunch they wanted to discuss political corruption; I tried to match their stories with mine about the U.S Congress and the need for term limits (I think they won this contest). We got back to the office at 2:30. Did a few emails to home and others. There was a formal dinner at Caacho Restaurant at 7:30 with Loretta, Al, Steve, and Millie (Steve’s wife). Home at 10:00; to bed at 11:00.

May 31, 1997 – Saturday – Up at 6:00 am; at office at 7:00. We picked up Vicili on the way to Cahul. We could see Romania on the other side of the Prut River (the border), but not time or visa to go there … maybe later. We met Nellie, Peter’s wife and technical manager. Peter just executed a 5 year lease for his office at the Institute. It was free in exchange for computer training of students. He already has a bar chart and budgets per task on each project. He has two contracts to survey farms separate from BAH at twice the fee. We got into a deep discussion of overhead. He attended a state sponsored seminar on marketing. He thought it was poorly done because it was from the “old system” perspective. He has 7 employees, including two new engineers. He keeps a daily diary with production rates of each person and crew and weather, etc. He knows whether or not work is getting done. We arrived at 9:30; had lunch at noon; left at 1:00; back in Chisinau at 4:00. We had a nice discussion in the car with Visili and Tonya about Jefferson, the American Revolution, the French Revolution, Marx, Lenin, freedom, etc.

June 1, 1997 – Sunday – Up at 7:00 am; ran lake; good finish; Romanian lesson at 11:00; studied Romanian most of the day; called Debby; listened to sales tapes; took notes for surveyors; went to park for ice cream; bed at midnight.

June 2, 1997 – Monday – Up at 7:00 am; no run; office at 8:00; 22 emails; wrote status report of the first 3 visits; met with NewBizNet about June 11 seminar; brainstormed with Steve about stagnated status of land privatization of land owned by 2400 enterprises (factories). Conclusion: two groups of seven enterprises operate in friendly environments and can proceed to create the seed for a private land market. A market does not exist until there is a second sale. I ran into Diona (translator) and Andre (attorney) holding hands. They are a pair but he won’t say his age because he thinks he is too old for her. We talked about Mafia, parliament, corruption, etc. I bought them ice cream. Finally Diona asked if the rumor was true. “Are the Americans here CIA or coached by CIA?” She would not have asked if she did not know in her heart it to be untrue. Andre was a prosecutor before going to work for BAH and knows Mafia to be real. I met 2 girls (maybe 11 and 8). They spoke a little English. I gave them gum. Elaina from VOCA called and wanted to reschedule lunch. I called Ludmila to discuss Brian Propp job prospect, laundry and CPBR training. Today I started to get a better sense of the animosity between locals and ethnic Russians. It was a brief discussion with Lena about her moving to Moscow … that made things said by others come together (Tonya, Ludmila, Oxanna, etc.). It is not so subtle. The “Russians” are clearly not welcome and they feel it.

June 3, 1997 – Tuesday – Up at 6:00 am; ran lake; record speed; finished status report. Long meeting with Allen. He asked again if I would stay longer. I will consider. He is questioning the foreign policy objective because some programs are working in opposite directions. Anna’s (the tall) entire job is to translate newspaper articles to English. She will give me copies. I met again with NewBizNet. They did not get pricing done. I sent 5 emails (McKenna, Hosken, Merrick, Sellards, Kaufman) about the possibility of subcontracts to local firms. Adrian Cazacu is very interested. I called my vm and Cameryn at the Independence Institute. Re-emailed to Cameryn. Another BAH after-work drinking party. Had one and left. Organized for trip; CNN: McVeigh was found guilty.

June 4, 1997 – Wednesday – Up at 5:00 am; no run; packed for overnight; at office at 7:00; at Mircea Ginju’s office in Balti at 9:00; 2 hour meeting; Mutu (third BAH surveyor) needed to stop at CPBR regional office. We visited a nearby Orthodox Church while waiting for Mutu. It had no chairs and no pews. The people stand for an entire 3 hour service. I took pictures. The priest would not let me ring the bell. On to Floresti to meet with Grigore Ursu. Like Ginju, Ursu was preoccupied with the many activities of running his business. Cazacu did computer training of two employees while we talked. We had chocolate and cokes. No lunch. On to Brinceni to meet with Valentine Gauzin. We arrived at 5:30. He was in a meeting after which he had to go home to get his computer (It was not safe to have it at his office). Here is an example of the ethnic friction: Gauzin was born and raised in Moldova, but because he speaks Russian and not Moldovan he is considered “Russian” and is not welcome in his own country. He considers himself Ukrainian first, partly because the far north tip of Moldova was once part of Ukraine and partly because he feels unwelcome in his country. Under Soviet Union domination, Russian was taught as the first language. The byproduct is 100% of Moldovans speak Russian and 50% speak Moldovan. Moldovan is a dialect of Romanian. Russian and Ukrainian are both Slavic languages and are similar. Romanian is a Roman (Romance) language with many words similar to English, French, Italian, etc. Computer work (installing printer) was cut short when power went out. Went to dinner at 8:00, thinking it would be quick. Power went out again during dinner. We had planned to stay overnight but Tonya was emphatic that it would not be enjoyable so we left for Chisinau at 10:30, arriving home at 2:30. Tonya argued that since we drove half of the night, we did not have to work the next day. I said, no, I am here to get as much stuff done as I am able.

June 5, 1997 – Thursday – Up at 9:00 am; ran lake slowly; dropped a pound to 81 kilos, probably due to less food and alcohol yesterday. I got to the office at noon. I met with the other far north surveyor that we missed on our trip (Marcel). He is young and sharp and split off from Gauzin (partners, now competitors). I resent some emails that may not have gotten thru. Internet access is limited. The system collects them and they go on line once or twice per day and send them in batches. Had dinner at Robert Mitchell’s home with Sean Carmody. Later we went to play pool. Home at 10:00; bed at midnight.

June 6, 1997 – Friday – Up at 6:00 am; no run; office at 8:30; gave Lena $20 for Ukraine Visa. She will bring it back this afternoon. Grigori Brianu (local boss of everything, subordinate to Bob C.) wants to postpone seminar. I will develop a new plan. He wants survey companies focused on technical and production tasks. Beers after work with Joe Murry (his program was cancelled) and Al Slipher. Both have many complaints about U.S. foreign policy objectives. Joe has week off; then new assignment in Bosnia. Al and I discussed Marshall Plan at length. Home at 9:00; called Deb and Tyler.

June 7, 1997 – Saturday – Went to Hinchesti to meet with a survey firm, 2 partners. Back at 1:00; Romanian lesson at 2:00. John, my driver, showed me Chibanu’s house (outgoing MOP head was caught in a scandal), about one block from my apartment. Dinner with Sean Carmody and Nora Dudwick (World Bank) spawned interesting discussion about Moldova. I challenged Sean to offer a solution. Sean is at the end of his 3 year learning curve and is looking forward to leaving. Nora is also working on the farm privatization program and will be here 1 ½ weeks from DC and is fluent in Russian. Her Jewish parents left Ukraine in 1920. She is an anthropologist and will study poverty and hunger on farms. I suggested making the president of the collective farms (soon to be unemployed) the marketing agents for the farmers.

June 8, 1997 – Sunday – 7:30 am left for Ukraine with Oxanna and Valery, her husband, a driver. Got home at 7:30 pm; 3 hr drive each way. At the border they would not let Oxanna cross because her passport had expired. So she got out of the car and walked across, no problem. Coming back I lost count after 10 stops to cross the border (probably close to 14). Oxanna walked across again. There are two borders: Molodova-Transdneister and Transdneister-Ukraine. Transdneistria is the part of Moldova on the east side of the Dniester River. It is a breakaway region, as if Moldova is not small enough, roughly a million people who prefer to be an independent state. Their second choice would be to annex to Ukraine. The least tolerable option to them was to be part of Moldova. There was a mini-civil war here in 1993 that resulted in several hundred deaths with no coverage by the American media. Our first stop was the Black Sea; lots of fat people; 11:30; no one topless. We took a tram to get back up the hill … it did not slow down for boarding … very dangerous. I took 1 ½ rolls of pictures. In a courtyard one group of apartments took up a full city block, with a communal central courtyard where children played and people fixed their cars. There was one entry way to the center; the apartments face the courtyard. We toured past opera house, mayor’s office, Pushkin’s house, several weddings, new port built by Italy in 1992, flee market. We had Cokes and snack … then to parliament, founder of Ukraine (missed the name), Odessa City Limits sign, emissions test, street cleaning, catacombs (freedom fighters hid in the catacombs during WW II … 2000 km (1250 miles) of tunnels under city, service station, water tower, well. Paid them $90 in one dollar bills (what they wanted). I will use the rest of my one dollar bills the next time I change money.

June 9, 1997 – Monday – Up at 6:00 am; ran lake; OK time; detour to avoid dogs; office at 9:00; worked all day on 18 emails; home at 5:30; massage for 10 lei ($2); hamburger at Turkish restaurant.

June 10, 1997 – Tuesday – Up at 6:00 am; no run; office at 8:30; package from U.S. with Independence Institute Issue Paper in need of edits. Bought wine to take to Debby and plastic blocks for Oxanna’s daughter. Not feeling 100%; maybe one of those bugs finally got in. 14 emails; home early; stopped at grocery store for bread and orange juice. Ludmila came over to brainstorm on her job prospects. She left at 9:30. Cleaning lady did not come (a friend died). So, tomorrow I wear twice used socks and shorts … standard procedure for the locals. When we went for the overnight trip to Balti, I was the only one with an overnight bag.

June 11, 1997 – Wednesday – Up at 6:00 am; ran lake; office at 8:00; met with Bob C. and Al; 10 emails. I will do a status report to send to the survey companies. I am to consider a return trip in November. I met with two of the NewBizNet professors. I went to the National Palace with Ginadi (IESC) and a new batch of American volunteers to see local cultural concert; very interesting; colorful costumes; many violins; lots of yodeling and screeching-type singing; accordion; many people (maybe 3000). Diona and Andre were there. People from the audience took flowers to the performers after each number. A new minister of privatization (MOP) was appointed today (Urie Badir who was part of the agency that audited/investigated Chibanu).

June 12, 1997 – Thursday – Up at 6:00 am; ran lake; new personal best; late to office at 9:00; took a long time to stop sweating; down to 81 kilos = 178 pounds. Made notes for presentation to attorneys. I received my Issue Paper on I&R from the Independence Institute. I bumped into Mike from Ohio on the street; he was part of Ginadi’s new IESC group. We will meet tomorrow for breakfast. I went on a picture taking circuit: parliament, presidents house, primaria (mayor), sock exchange, embassy, lake, bought shirt for Debby. Ran into American kids – Baptists. I re-read my Issue Paper. I got home at 5:30 and returned to park at 6:30 – Baptists were singing and handing out literature. I met local students on park bench: Mark and Nat. Went to Sean’s; met David and Amy(?). She is pregnant. He is an MBA working on privatization of businesses … stock sales. Home at 10:30; to bed at 11:30.

June 13, 1997 – Friday – Up at 7:00 am; no run; met Mike and Kedwick for breakfast at Dache Hotel … 10 lei = $2 for buffet. They are IESC volunteers. Mike is in bottle production. Kedwick is in corrugated boxes (looking at $6 million investment). Changed $100 in one’s to lei. Breakfast was slices of ham, cheese, salami, boiled eggs, boiled potatoes, cake, bread, apple or prune juice, instant coffee or tea, cottage cheese, corn flakes and other unrecognizable stuff. A new translator, Radu, (the only male) started today. I went to the library to write and to search for English newspapers. Lots of young people studying. I did more writing at home. I went to the park at 6:30 to meet the students from yesterday “Nat” is “Natasha.” Instead of Mark was another Ludmila. We walked to Wam (McDonalds). I think they were too poor to have eaten there on their own and too polite to ask for anything. 3 cokes, 3 French fries, and 3 burgers were 42 lei ($10) … very expensive in local terms. Burger was normal. Fries were better than U.S. Wam looks and feels like McDonalds, but the arches are upside down … thus “W” instead of “M” … evidently they were not a real McDonalds … but close, nonetheless. We met a university friend of theirs from Syria who took our picture in front of Wam. Nat and Ludmila were both 20. They will be English teachers in 2 years. Ludmila is from Hincesti, Nat from far north. Nat’s first language is Ukrainian, then Moldovan, Russian, Spanish, and English (so she is speaking with me in her 5th language). They laughed that I have only one language (the truth is I’m still working on that one). Ludmila has the same languages in the same order without Ukrainian because Hincesti is more central Moldova. By the time we walked back to the park, Mark and another guy were there. We talked until 9:30; everyone went home.

June 14, 1997 – Saturday – Awake at 6:00 am; no run; laid in bed thinking about things until 8:00. I remember Nat asking about corn flakes. She has never had any. I arrived at office at 9:30; home at 1:00; went to park at 2:00; tried to write for surveyors; Nat and Luma (Ludmila) appeared at 3:00. We took a trolleybus to a lake, picking up Mark, his brother (Rado), and his wife (another Ludmila) on the way. While they were swimming, other young people came and asked about America. The parents of these kids are 34 to 40 years old. They keep saying, “There is no hope here. The country cannot be fixed. The government is too corrupt.” As soon as one group left, another took their place. I gave them Reagan coins (that I had purchased at the U.S. Mint in Denver) and U.S. flag pins. We took the trolleybus back to Pushkin (my) Park where I bought four of them Cokes for 25 cents each. I spoke with another young Moldovan who had just returned from America. He asked about my Bronco t-shirt. He was on a tour of U.S. military bases, visiting 5 states. I was home at 9:00 and made some of the pop corn I had brought. It came out well this time. Watched a Dan Aykroyd movie in German. An alien from outer space, disguised as Kristi Brinkley, came to destroy earth, but married Aykroyd and they saved the planet … thank God. Bed at 11:30.

June 15, 1997 – Sunday – Up at 7:00 am; ran lake; called Deb and Tyler. They were watching Saturday Night Live. 8:00 am Sunday is 11:00 pm Saturday in Denver. Debby thought I was in a bad mood because I complained about everything. She is always right. Maybe I have been gone too long or maybe it is because I am stalled temporarily in helping the surveyors. No Romanian lesson today (a good thing since I did not do my homework). I meet other Americans at 10:00 at Dache Hotel to travel to Orhei Monastery. Mike (bottling expert) is from St. Louis. Kedrick (box manufacturing) is from Florida. Rhode Island professor, David, teaches farm economics. A German couple now living in Texas is helping in restaurant management. And a new lady from Florida … basically the same group that was at the Wednesday evening concert. The monastery was the same as Odessa catacombs and Cricova Winery … limestone building blocks are mined leaving tunnels. Monks hid here during feudalistic times. Ceiling was 5 feet high. Each monk had a 5 x 5 x 8 room. On the top of this mountain is a village with a church, the oldest known remains in Moldova (300 B.C.) We got good pictures inside the Orthodox Church. The locals invited us to share lunch with them. Today is “Dominica Mare” (Great Sunday) celebrating that all of the crops have been planted. Colorado is famous here for the Colorado Beetle that eats their crops. We skipped the second stop in order to get Mike to the airport on time. I gave gum to the kids (about 10 years old) at the monastery. I walked from Dache Hotel to apartment with Kedrick. His apartment is in the next building. I went up with him to get papers I had loaned him. We will have dinner later. Nap. I gave gum to kids outside of my apartment. Three of the older girls (10 to 12) looked at U.S. maps and my family photos. They spoke a little English. I ran into Nora Dudwick (World Bank) at dinner. Ked gave her a hard time because she lives in DC and is a Democrat. She leaves tomorrow and will send a copy of her report to me in a month.

June 16, 1997 – Monday – Worked at home until noon writing report to surveyors. Changed $100 to lei and got 457 one-lei bills. My phone bill is 586 lei = $130.00. I spoke with Moldovan attorneys about term limits and petitions. I got home at 8:00. Gave more gum to kids. A mom insisted that I teach her 8 year old son English. She wanted to pay. Hot dog for dinner.

June 17, 1997 – Tuesday – Up at 5:30 am; ran lake; early to office to revise and finish surveyor report. I turned in report to Al and Bob C. I went to see conference room with Lena. I changed more one dollar bills to lei. Went to Fantasy Store and got more Moldova shirts. I had lunch with Sean, who is writing up VOCA paper work for me to return in November. CDC has no more funding. Evidently CDC had funding for just one Moldova volunteer for 1997. I met Salvation Army group in shirt store (Fantasy). They are building Methodist Churches here. They have built 6 churches so far. I went to the National Library (biggest library in Moldova), but they had no newspapers in English. I got 2 more rolls of film, which looks standard but the box is written in Russian. I got books from Gianady (IESC is another brand of CDC and VOCA) on writing business plans. I spoke with attorneys again. They want to meet again after my Issue Paper on petitions is translated. I exchanged one of the t-shirts. I saw Mark and Nat in the park … no time to talk. I was late to meet Victor. But Victor wanted to play and his parents wanted to talk. The other lady’s husband is General or Secretary of the Army. They said Chibanu (the old MOP) lives in my building, but they declined providing an introduction. TV is either Charles Bronson speaking Italian or Beethoven in French. NBC (English) had golf. To bed at 10:30.

June 18, 1997 – Wednesday – Up at 6:00 am; ran lake; Tom Brokaw is on 7:30 to 8:00 … not enough time to do both. Late to office at 9:30 … worked on hand outs for Monday seminar … forms and questionnaire also. Home early at 5:00. Got call from Lena that apartment was OK. Celebrated by making (filtering) water. I had been letting my inventory decline. Found Mark and Nat in the park. They decided in the last couple of days they are a couple. We discussed Nat’s “impossible” goal … to visit America. Now I think she knows her goal is achievable. I bought them hamburger and coke at Turkish restaurant … $3 for the 3 of us. Mark has political aspirations … wants to start a new political party. Home at 9:30. Vacili from VOCA called and said I had to change apartments. Moldova Air allows only 64 kilos for my return flight baggage. So I will leave my surveying books for my friends here when I go back to the states.

June 19, 1997 – Thursday – Up at 6:00 am; raining; no run; to the office at 8:30. Saw Ked in front of Dache Hotel. He is 77 and here until June 26 and interested in going to Romania. I will do some more research. My apartment status turned into a crusade at the office today. Everyone got on it and refused to let me move to another place. Finally it was settled. I would not have to move. Home at 6:00 to rest. Left at 6:30 for Bob’s, buying Champagne along the way for $4.00. His wife made pork chops. Bob, Robert, Tanya, Al, me, Mitzi (Bob’s wife) were all from the office … plus Melissa (from U.S. Embassy … she is the consular who decides visas). Bob graduated from U. of Illinois in 1986 and then went to law school in Wisconsin. Al left early to pick up his wife at airport. Home at 11:00. Bob insisted that a car take Tanya and me … I never thought of it as unsafe before. To bed at midnight.

June 20, 1997 – Friday – Up at 6:00 am; ran lake; good time; met Ked at Dache Hotel for breakfast and to discuss possible Romania trip. He has to work Saturday and the good stuff (Transylvania and Dracula’s Castle or Bucharest) is too far for a one day trip. I met Brian Propp for lunch again. He seemed a little preoccupied. Maybe he has been here too long or has attended too many of those vodka bashes. We talked about funding for political reform initiatives in the U.S. He will be in Denver mid-July. Today, Bob C. asked if I would come back for pay … he wants 6 a month commitment. Ilia’s birthday today (the lead Moldovan attorney) … birthday party after work. Galina (my Romanian teacher) is applying for job in my building. Home at 8:00; more rain. Today they fired Oxanna. She is upset. They won’t even give her a good reference. Someone said she came in late too much. There must be more to it than that. I tried to learn to record on VCR … too tired. Bed at 11:00.

June 21, 1997 – Saturday – Up at 6:00 am; rain; no run. Ked called at 8:00 … went to Dache Hotel again for breakfast … fried eggs, pancakes, bread, coffee, cheeses and meats, corn flakes (which I screwed up by putting milk on them). The eggs hit the spot. I stopped to pick up bread, Coke, and orange juice on my way home. The cleaning lady failed to change burned out light bulb in bathroom so I swapped with the one on my balcony. I worked at home most of the day. Several phone calls … wrong numbers. I started organizing to return to the U.S. Decided which gifts would be best for which individuals. I wrote in the books I would leave for the surveyors. Went to the park. Read some Adam Smith.

June 22, 1997 – Sunday – Up at 6:00 am; ran lake; to office; checked emails; organized for seminar; met Ked at 9:30 for breakfast at Dache … no eggs today but ate too much anyway. 10:15 IESC/CDC/VOCA volunteers gathered to go to Pushkin museum (Pushkin lived 1799 to 1837, was anti-Czar, was part Arab [or black], and was exiled from Russia to Chisinau for 3 years. He was a philosophical Jeffersonian). I gave a Reagan coin to museum curator and to translator/guide. David, the R.I. professor, tried to convince me Reagan was evil. After the second museum I went for a Coke with the professor, Ted (the walnut expert from San Francisco) and Tom and Dee (new couple from Minn.). On my way home I met 20 to 30 Peace Corps volunteers in Pushkin park. We spoke for 30 minutes. One wanted AOL access number, which I will get to her. They get 3 months of language training and orientation before being assigned. They know not where or what they will be assigned … probably schools, hospitals and a few businesses. I didn’t tell them how tough it would be in the villages. Home to change for the ballet. Met Ked. Saw Robert, Verelia and her boyfriend at ballet. Went to dinner with Ked, Tom, Dee at Sea Beka Hotel. $10/person. At home I called Ludmila to tell her of Tom’s interest in attending seminar. She will drop him at 10:00 tomorrow. She has internet access.

June 23, 1997 – Monday – Up at 6:00 am; no run; office at 7:30; 175 month anniversary today; card from Deb (no small task in that the mail service here is dysfunctional. To get anything from the U.S. it has to be sent to the mail person at the BAH office in DC and once or twice per week, a package is overnight mailed to BAH-Moldova). Tonya and Lena and I went to the Soros Building at 8:30 to get the room ready. Surveyors were late. We started with 4 at 9:30. 3 came later making 6 of the 9 companies present. Paul Morris (USAID) came at the end of the day to speak. Afterwards had beers with Djiganskii and Gori and Fidui … fun but awkward with no translator. More beers later with Rick, Al, Bob, and Robert. Seminar ratings were all 9s and 10s out of 10 (they must be afraid to tell the truth). Good enthusiasm all day. Many questions; most took notes. Saw Nat and Ludmila in park and gave them Colorado Rockies baseball caps. They were very excited. They took a third for Mark; he was in exams. Nat thinks her parents hate her (typical among teenagers). I asked her to explain, then, why they were sending money for her college; checkmate. She will phone her mother tomorrow. Her father died when he was 27. Her mother remarried so she has a half-brother who is 15. Home at 9:30. Bed at midnight. Got up at 3:00; watched TV; ate; back to bed.

June 24, 1997 – Tuesday – Up at 6:00 am; ran lake; breakfast at Dache with Ked and Ted. They both leave tomorrow at 5:30 am. 9:00 at office. I tabulated the results of seminar. Discussed return trip with Al. I will meet with Sean and Lena tomorrow about report they want written. I had lunch with Rick. He has 26 people working in Minnesota on pipeline project and will go to Siberia for gold mine survey. He thinks he can get a PhD from Siberia for $100.00. If so, I think I’ll ask him to get one for me too. I gave Bronco sweatshirts to Tonya and Lena. Both acted over excited, but Lena was most excited. She was jumping up and down, literally. It was embarrassing. I tried to be invisible. Very humid; raining; home at 5:00; got bread and orange juice; read Moldova constitution. It is not a constitution. It fails to recognize the people as sovereign or limit the government. Plebiscites (referendums) may be advanced for a vote by parliament. They have an initiative process but the president or 1/3 of parliament must agree for it to go to the ballot. I will do a report for the surveyors on the seminar results. I met Robert and Sean for beers and pool. I gave more gum to the kids near my apartment. I tried to talk with them; one girl (about 12) tried to act as translator. Home at 9:30; cable TV is out; returned call from Tom. He wanted to meet for beer tonight; maybe tomorrow. I read the professor’s (Dave Brown) report and western NIS report (Ked). Bed at 11:00. It cooled off a lot after the rain. Neck hurting less; left thumb still numb; stress or boredom.

June 25, 1997 – Wednesday – Up at 6:00 am; no run; call from Tom; a reception tonight at Peace Corps at 6:00. I reported to Bob C.: … Moldova has no constitution. He, an attorney, was interested in the thought process. The Stewart from Stewart Title Company is due in later today. Dinner is scheduled with him Thursday evening. I worked on surveyor status report. I met with Sean Carmody. He said I should get $45/day and CDC will pay when I get home. Therefore, I paid him back the $200 Vasili gave me from VOCA. He also gave me the apartment receipts to submit to CDC … so VOCA can be reimbursed. He will call me in July when he is in Iowa. I had lunch with Elana (Helen) from VOCA. She wants a final report and to follow up with all surveyors in 3 months. I went to Peace Corps at 6:00. There was a presentation by two PC volunteers who were working in northern regional offices. Afterwards I spoke with ABA representative, UN, and Melissa (from Cahul) and Victor (who is recruiting 100 Moldovan business owners to go to the U.S.). He will come to surveyor meeting on Monday. I saw the children near my apartment; more gum; they were making dinner (mud). I deferred eating any. I practiced high-fives with two 2 year olds. I showed my family pictures to the older ones. I went to park. Nat and Mark were there wearing Rockies caps. I tried to explain to Mark that Moldova does not have a constitution. He knew it had been written and adopted by the Communist parliament without citizen approval. I tried to explain “why” it was deficient, but the ideas are too difficult for Nat to translate. Mark’s friend finished exams and will be a doctor. He will look up the name of the Australian doctor who discovered the true cause of ulcers. Home at 10:30; bed at 11:30.

June 26, 1997 – Thursday – Up at 6:00 am; rain; no run; office at 8:00; worked on report to surveyors. I had lunch with Stewart Morris of Stewart Title. After work I had beers with Rick, Iacub, Mutu (surveyors), and Rado (translator) for $20 until 8:30. Mutu opened up on politics and thinks there will be 100% turn over in parliament elections due to lies. Social Democrats control now. Rick promised to bring GPS locator and their eyes lit up like little kids. Mutu knows at least 50 additional farms that can be subdivided immediately without controversy, but CPBR will not change the list. Next batch of farms would go better if surveyors could do all of the work without CPBR (CBPR’s roll is to reconcile conflicts among the farmers). I ran into Nat, Mark, Luma in the park. Mark had gotten a copy of the Moldova Constitution and was reading it. He finally understood when I pointed to Article 141. I will get him a copy of the U.S. Constitution (although it contains the same flaw). I met 5 new Westerners (Scott, another American, two Brits, and a Belgium). Home at 10:00; to bed at 11:30.

June 27, 1997 – Friday – Up at 6:00 am; no run; too lazy; office at 8:00. I worked on the surveyor report all day. It will be too long but I think it will be helpful to them. Tanya (older) and Rado have been struggling to translate my paper. Today is Igor’s birthday … party from 6 to 8; left to go to grocery store and to avoid excessive drinking. I worked on surveyor report at home. I went to park at 9:30 for ice cream. Doina and Andre were there. Nat and Mark went away for the week end. I introduced Lena, the Jewish girl, and Larry from Kentucky, and moved on. He is working on the same bottle plant that Mike was here to help. He will try to get me a tour tomorrow. Looks like no chance to go to Romania. I watched 70s movie until 1:00 am; the “Runner.”

June 28, 1997 – Saturday – Up at 7:30 am; stretched during NBC news (2 weeks old news); ran lake; good time; under 25:00 minutes; to office at 10:00. Tonya (older) and Gregori Breanu were working. Bob C. was in and out. Sean and Robert called to invite me to go with them to the country for a picnic; declined. Brain went on strike and stopped working at 4:00; changed $100 to lei. I went to museum to get ear rings, to Fantasy for runner and to outdoor market for flute (the $30 price negotiated quickly to $20). I got jewelry box for Tyler. He can put junk in it. Quiet. I went downstairs to read where kids are. Only 3 kids tonight: 6, 5, and 3 years old. We drew on the sidewalk.

June 29, 1997 – Sunday – Up at 6:00 am; no run; office at 8:00 to work on report; tired. Got coffee at Dache for 1 lei. Home at 3:00. Tom and Dee (Minn) called to go to Hans and Dorothy’s (from Texas) restaurant. Stopped for desert on way home … sold out. We went thru Pushkin Park. No Nat or Mark tonight. I got home at 9:30. Kids were not out; to bed at 11:30.

June 30, 1997 – Monday – Up at 6:00 am; ran lake; office at 8:30; finished surveyor report. I met with surveyors most of the day. I finished the CDC exit report. Dave Nolan will come for my clothes Wednesday at 9:00 am … he will take most of my clothes to a charity. Home at 5:00. I met Tom and Dee for desert. I showed them my apartment. I introduced them to some of the kids. I met Nat and Mark at the park. I gave him U.S. Constitution and my comments on it and Moldova Constitution. Home at 9:30. Cable TV channels are scrambled, several are not working. Others are on different channels. I gave Tom and Dee blank video tape, phone # list, list of restaurants, business cards. In bed at 10:30.

July 1, 1997 – Tuesday – Up at 6:00 am; ran lake; OK time, but not fast enough; sorted out clothes. One of the surveyors said I gave him “confidence.” Another showed delight at a comment in my letter. Maybe my trip was a success. I met with VOCA for exit interview. Sergi will pick me up Thursday at 5:45. He says I am allowed 60 kilos (easy with no books and minimal clothes); called Deb; Hayden (grandson) was born June 23; she sent several emails that did not arrive; the entire country has been email-down for several days; translators were shocked that I failed to find out if Hayden was a boy or a girl. Elana (VOCA) visits U.S. this year and will try to come to Denver for a few days. I went with Bob C. for exit interview with U.S. Ambassador John Stewart and Paul Morris for 30 minutes. He was very personable (after all he is a politician). When they asked about the surveyors finishing on schedule, Bob had a chance to open up on bureaucratic resistance; perfect timing for perfect opportunity. Mutu got a copy of a title certificate for me to take to U.S. So I cautiously gave him my trigonometry calculator. I was fearful of insulting him. He explained that he needed it because he must use book tables and interpolation. I was so in disbelief he got the tables out to show me. Beers with Rick; home at 7:00; sorted out clothes for morning.

July 2, 1997 – Wednesday – Up at 6:00 am; last day; no run; sorted and packed. Dave Nolan picked up clothes and food for Peace Corps at 9:00. I got to office at 9:30; still no email; purged files; office is in turmoil due to government interference with titling process. 10:30 Ludmila (attorney) and Tonya (older) and I went to meet NGO president (family and children issues). Ludmila is part of NGO (non-profit). President is also a Vice-minister and wants to do a petition drive. Moldovan constitution allows it, but does not define procedures and parliament has the power to ignore it. She said she could talk for only 30 minutes. But she didn’t stop talking for 1 ½ hours. We walked back to office. I took pictures of underground pipes for central heat. I went to Fantasy store and spent most of remaining lei on serving tray. I got to office in time to have lunch with translators; back at 2:00. Computer system is up and got a few emails but not of the ones sent by Deb and Tom. Responded to Dane Waters (USTL); I had filed term limits initiative petition for November 2008 ballot from here with State of Colorado by fax. I met from 3 to 4:30 with attorneys who had read my II IP on I&R … we also discussed Moldovan constitution. More emails. Party at 6:00; gave me a wedding shroud; I gave out sweatshirts, baseball caps, coffee cups and gum. I gave Tonya T. (head translator) one of my cameras. Translators, Robert, Rick, Lena and Yuri (courier) and I went for dessert (the bird egg shell stuff Dee likes). I went thru the park at 9:00. Nat and Mark had just left. I sat with the two who could not speak for a few minutes. Three of their friends arrived. One could speak only French (when I speak French I end up with diesel in my gas tank … so no way for me to communicate … I also failed Romanian lessons). The other 2 could speak a little and had 6 questions and left as soon as I replied. There questions were about crime, second languages, race and women’s rights in America. They are generation X and feel that there has been “no change” in Moldova. Home; called Oxanna and Ludmila for last time; finished packing; no TV; to bed at 11:00.

July 3, 1997 – Thursday – Up at 5:00 am; closed suit cases; 2 instead of 4; called Deb and Christa. Sergi was on time at 5:45. I sat next to girls from Italy on airplane. I met a Russian in Budapest airport who spent 5 years in NYC and is returning to get his MS degree. Actually, he is Moldovan, from Transdniestria. He gives “Russian” answer for Americans because most Americans do not recognize Moldova or Transdniestria. Hungary airport is like modern times: glass, light, clean, services …. I think I am back to the other world. Four Baptists are on the flight returning to U.S. One said he has been coming to Moldova for 4 years and Moldova is rapidly changing. His perspective is probably more accurate, but the local Gen-Xers have another view.

EPILOGUE

Bob Cemovich, the head guy, saw the project to completion and stayed in contact with me for a few years.

Allan Slipher, Bob’s #2, finished in Moldova and ended up on another project in Bratislava, Slovakia. I offered to introduce him to some friends I knew there including the former Ambassador, Josef Sestak, but got no reply.

Steve, the lead attorney and #3 in command, took on the identical project in Georgia. Partly because of reform-minded Eduard Shevardnadze, President and former USSR Foreign Minister and reformer with Gorbachev, farm privatization in Georgia advanced quickly and was completed before Moldova’s. No doubt Steve’s experience in Moldova helped to expedite the quick result.

Robert Mitchell, attorney, helping to write the land code, was from Seattle, but it seemed like he never lived there. After Moldova he went on to help with a land reform project in Indonesia. That was the last I heard from him.

Sean Carmody, VOCA, from Iowa was burned out and left the foreign service, but got a job with the Federal government in DC, helping to gain approval of African-grown crops for importation into the U.S. His first Peace Corps assignment had been in Africa from which he had told stories of racism. Early after his arrival there shots rang out and 2 fellows ran down the street laughing that they had killed someone who was, evidently, the wrong shade of black. And he told of the little girl who died because the father would not allow Sean to take her to the hospital. Sean also served in the PC in Korea where he met his wife.

Peter Djiganshi, surveyor-entrepreneur, learned to speak English, stayed with us in Denver for 2 weeks and now does regular (every couple of months) emails with me. His younger son (Gene) graduated in finance from a college in Budapest, which required an internship. We got one set up for him in the U.S., but the U.S. State Department refused to allow him a visa (both Gene and the U.S. are worse off due to this … lose:lose). Peter bought a prime piece of real estate in the city center of Cahul and built an office building there. He had duel citizenship with Ukraine and subdivided several collective farms there. He also bought the records of several of the other surveyors and kept his survey crews busy doing surveys for resale of farm parcels. He is frustrated at the corruption in Moldova and is considering migrating to the Czech Republic. He also spent a few weeks in New Zealand exchanging knowledge of wine growing and production.

Sergi Gori, surveyor-entrepreneur, finished his contracts, pocketing enough money to build a chicken processing factory in his home town. I recall him teasing me about going to help the people in Africa next. I said that will be for the next generation of entrepreneurs … meaning him. He smiled, knowing I trusted him to carry on the cause of liberty someday.

Mircea Ginju, surveyor-entrepreneur, finished his projects and used his profits to go into the restaurant business. He always carried a pistol.

Tonya B., was my translator (the elder Tonya). We exchanged emails for a few years. She and her husband did not feel welcome in Moldova and were labeled as “Russian” even though they had never lived in Russia. They moved to Moscow. They had one daughter who attended college in Florida.

Tonya T., (also spelled Tanya) lead translator, exchanged a couple of emails, but she was a workaholic and had less time to be social.

Vicili Yakub, one of the three Moldovan surveyors on BAH staff. He seemed to be the most technical of the three. Gregori Brianu (built like an NFL lineman) was the boss of all the locals, and so was more the big picture guy and did the hiring and firing. Mutu seemed to be the make-things-happen quietly behind the scene personality type. Yakub is the one who wanted to know whether GPS is real. Peter reported that Yakub had suffered a heart attack and died.

Ludmila Sviridov, was my go-between with my landlord. We continue to do emails on occasion. In 1997 she was very worried about her daughter who was in college but paying too much attention to a male. She was lonely and sought marital advice from, of all people, me. Translators are exposed to a lot. In addition to language they learn culture, and people and trivia. (I saw the same thing in Egypt … a wise, alert, and informed 30-year-old taxi driver … with no real education, but knew plenty). I suggested that she was probably too cosmopolitan because of the exposure she gained by translating, to be able to find the right man among the local Neanderthals. Thus, she would do better to shop among the westerners she meets. Sure enough, she married a German and now lives in Frankfurt. She visited the U.S. several times, including Denver once.

Kedwick Martin is the volunteer from Florida and expert in box manufacturing. We continue to exchange Christmas cards annually. Until typing this, I had forgotten that we had had so many meals together.

David Brown, the R.I. university professor and I always exchange Christmas cards. He is always appreciative of the tiny tidbits I am able to provide, usually from either Peter or Ludmila, my only two remaining sources of information.

Ludmila Svirina, the lead local attorney. We exchanged a few emails. I did not get to meet her children.

Cazacu, there were 2 Cuzacus, a father and a son, both computer geeks working together on the project. The son was developing the coordinate geometry software. The father did training and installations. The father told of when the Communists came and confiscated all of the property. Many land owners were murdered. He was lucky and was shipped to a gulag in Siberia. When he got back from Siberia, his intellect was recognized and he became an “economist.” Under Soviet Communism, economist means central planner … the level of economic understanding of a Soviet economist is a question. I was sorry that I did not have the opportunity to learn more from him.

Citizens Democracy Corps: I got one additional invitation from CDC to go to Sakhalin and help a local paving contractor decide which paving machine to buy. I suggested the Sakhalin guy should go look at the machines in action. They did not call again. Sakhalin Island is part of Russia, but is the island immediately north of Japan, used to be part of Japan and is primarily Japanese culturally. I may have blown my best chance to see that part of the world.

Brian Propp, my friend from Denver, served in the Ukraine for 10 years before being transferred to DC for a year or two. We met in DC during one of my visits there. He retired and moved to northern Colorado to start an energy conservation business.

Constitution: Annoyed at persistent friction between Parliament and the President, the Parliament (who has unilateral power to amend the constitution) sought to eliminate such friction by changing the presidential selection process. Henceforth, instead of election by the populace, the President will be chosen by the Parliament. This change happened shortly after my stay, later in 1997. Shortly thereafter, Parliament announced an amnesty for those with illegal weapons … they could turn them in to the government without fear of penalty. To this I say, how interesting … that the government would seek to protect itself against insurrection when it is taking actions that might incite insurrection.

Diary

Somaliland Election Observation

Dennis Polhill
May 26 through June 8, 2001

In 2001 the Initiative and Referendum Institute was invited to be the official election observer for the election ratifying the constitution of Somaliland.  Somalia became a nation when European nations divested themselves of colonies throughout most of the world.  Somalia had been 2 parts: Italian Somalia (south) and British Somalia (north) also known as Somaliland.  Because both were given independence within a week of each other, there was an immediate local clamor for “one Somalia.”  Only problem, the north did not agree to the merger terms of the south and conversely, the south did not agree to the merger terms of the north.  The south is about twice the size of the north in area and population.  The world community came to recognize one Somalia.  Yet those in the north never considered themselves part of the south.  Many African nations were pawns of the Cold War.  After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Somalia fell into anarchy as warlords dominated.  This event allowed those in the north to assert their position.  They declared independence, set up a government and wrote a provisional constitution.  After a few years the Constitution was to be ratified by vote of the populace.  IRI agreed to take on the task and Dennis Polhill being Chairman of the Board of Directors of IRI was the leader of the group of election observers.  Like the old cowboy movie, “The Magnificent Seven” I headed out collecting compatriots as we made our way to our destination.

May 26, Saturday — Debby and Tyler drove me to DIA. Stopped for late lunch at Hops. One hour line at Lufthansa to check in. No concern with 14 canisters of pepper-spray in my suitcase. Karen Benker, former RTD board member was on the flight to Frankfurt and sat on other side of airplane and one row ahead of me. I was forced to say hello to her as we both searched for connecting flights. Departed DIA at 5:30 pm and arrived in Frankfurt at 11:30 am.

May 27, Sunday — Arrived on time in Frankfurt. Had 2 hours between flights. Stacy, Alex and Sasha who flew together from DC and I boarded the plane to Dubai together. Scott from Chicago, Dave Byrd from DC, and Derek and Dave M from San Francisco were to be on the same flight but no one knew them. After boarding Stacy found Scott and Dave M. I got the flight attendant to make an announcement and we found the remaining two. Derek was sitting in the seat in front of me. We departed Frankfurt at 1:20 pm and arrived in Dubai, capitol of United Arab Emirates, on time at 9:30pm. Although it would have been more direct to go over Saudi Arabia, the flight went over Tehran, Iran. We were met by a Ramada Inn representative who helped us thru security and customs. At the hotel we were met by 2 representatives of the Somaliland Forum who offered snacks and drinks. Adrian from Switzerland was already at the hotel. Our group now numbers 9. Everyone was anxious to clean up and rest.

May 28, Monday — We received wake up calls at 1:30 am in order to get to the airport in time for our 4:00 am flight. It was a Soviet IL-18 with 4 turboprop engines. It reminded me of my first flight on a Mexican airline: no safety instruction and small fans for air circulation. We got the tail of the plane, which was separated from the remainder of the airplane by a curtain. A couple other people also sat in our area. The sun came up over the Gulf at a little past 5:00 am. Instead of stopping for gas in Berbera, Somaliland, we stopped in Yemen. There were quite rugged mountains that nearly reached the ocean. The airport was scattered with scavenged hulks of parted out Migs. Arrived in Hargeisa, the capitol city, about 10:00 am.

We were met by Omar and Abdul. Abdul is the Speaker of the House and is vice chairman of the referendum committee. After a short briefing at the airport they took us to our hotel. The city had been leveled by shelling and bombing by the Somalia government in 1988. Only the main road is paved, but is very rough. The norm is gravel, dirt or sand. The temperature is more moderate than expected: 90s. Humidity is high. Hargeisa is at 1000 feet and the breeze is constant and strong.

Our hotel is Maansoor, probably the best in the country. It has a shower but no hot water and no air conditioner, just a ceiling fan. The rooms are a little larger than average, maybe 200 square feet. Ceiling is 8.5 to 9 feet. Floor is tile. Lighting is poor and the power was off for several hours in the afternoon. I have a color TV with cable … about 13 inch screen but the only station in English is CNN (European CNN, not American news). The bed is 2 single beds pushed together with a top and bottom sheet. They are mattresses on wood, no springs.

We checked into our rooms and had a couple hours to rest and get organized. Omar and Abdul picked us up for lunch at 1:00. We drove to another place in the city where we met the 7 people from the South African group and shared lunch with several dignitaries. I sat with the Minister of the Interior and Edna the former wife of the president. Edna is a former nurse and midwife and is putting all of her energy into building a 100,000 sq. ft. hospital. She insisted that we come to visit her hospital and have lunch. We agreed but after the election. After the Minister welcomed us, I had to reply on behalf of our group with one of my famous one-minute missives.

At the hotel our cell phones soon arrived. They were new and smarter than my own. We distributed a phone number list to everyone. Then we reconvened in the conference room next to my room. There we discussed our approach to the project and distributed the pepper-spray. We adjourned at 3:30 in order to have an hour to rest for our 5:00.

At five we met again with Omar and Abdul. Abdul had prepared a map of the country and distributed copies of three reports. He reviews their organizational structure and procedures for managing the election.

At 7:00 we went to the presidential mansion to meet the president. He gave a long speech. I gave a short one. A few photos were taken.

Back at the hotel I went to bed as the others had dinner in the lobby.

May 29, Tuesday — Breakfast in the lobby. 10:00 meeting did not start until 11:00. Omar took me to pick up a Canadian married to a native: Matt Bryden (00 1-252-2-426-820 Bryden@wsp-International.org).  His group authored “A Self-Portrait of Somaliland.”  Abdul distributed maps of the 6 regions and we decided who would cover each:
• Awdal (north west) — Sasha Bruce and Dave McCuan
• Sanaag (north east) — Derek Cressman
• Togdheer (south central) — Alison Puranik and Scott Kohlhass
• Saaxil — (north central) — Dave Byrd and Alex Mundt
• Woqooyi Galbeed (Hargeisa) — Dennis Polhill, Stacy Rumenap and Adrian Schmid

Adrian was reassigned from Sanaag to Wojooyi Galbeed because the trip to Sanaag required a flight, which arrived after opening of polls there; because the region has comparatively few polling places (20 to 30); because 3 of the 7 South African observers were planning to work the same region; and because the Woqooyi Galbeed (Hargeisa and surrounding area) region has many polling places (over 160).

The ballot boxes were brought to the meeting for display. They are about 2 feet cubes made of half-inch wood with a hinged top with a slot for ballots and a padlock. There was some mention of the selection of colors. Red and green were rejected as too confusing; they claimed that white, in their culture was not necessarily perceived as good, as it is in western cultures. As an example, Islamic burials require that the corps be wrapped in white cloth. A third and similar but larger box had 2 padlocks and contained all of the necessary equipment for the polling place. All 3 boxes were marked with the polling place number.

In the third box was 1500 ballots, a registry for voters, a logbook for incidents (notations for those needing assistance voting, sicknesses, changes in polling staff, etc.), candles for darkness, posters showing this as a polling place, copy of the constitution for posting, a rubber stamp and ink pad for stamping the polling place number on each ballot, dye for marking the hands of those who voted. After voting the remainder of the materials are returned to the materials box and locked. The ballot boxes are sealed and stamped across the seal with the number of the polling place, and are transported to the District office for counting.

Five of us walked into town for a local lunch. They had no menus, received spaghetti on one plate, and got no silverware. They did get newspapers to use as napkins. The bill was $10 until they paid and then the owner asked for more money.

Everyone went to visit Arabsiyo, a farm village about 30 minutes away. The road was paved. We passed 3 checkpoints with gates, no guns. They said the checkpoints were to tax trucks. Each checkpoint presented an opportunity for vendors to set up and sell. The city was next to a dry riverbed. They had dug 2 wells and were pumping water for irrigation. A large variety of fruit trees, vegetables, and plants were thriving. The dry river is a flooding hazard during rain. The city was about 10,000 people. It had been destroyed by artillery bombardment during the genocide. The locals were rebuilding: some on the same lots, but most had moved to a fresh part of the city.

We wandered the streets to observe the damage. The locals were shy, but increasingly came forward, waved, got closer and said hello. Stacy bought a scarf, which made her part of the clan. A little girl (about 3) came up and touched David Byrd’s hand. I told him, he was now officially married. I gave my two pens to two girls about 10 years old and took their picture. The primitive stores were stocked with a large variety of goods: pots and pans, suitcases, drugs, lanterns, etc. At sundown they chewed Kat, the leaf of a plant that gives a nicotine-high. Alcohol consumption is prohibited under Islam. We had tea and rushed back for dinner.

Dinner was at 7:30 at the Hotel. Matt and his wife, Edna, the South Africans, some of our hosts and several others shared dinner. One of those we did not know before dinner was a French journalist stationed in Nairobi. About a dozen of us discussed the referendum, what it might mean for Africa and how the world community might react.

In my room, I phoned Dane and Debby and tried to get organized for Wednesday.

May 30, Wednesday – Breakfast meeting at 8:00 am to review everything and to answer last minute questions. Ahmed distributed tee-shirts, which were indicated to be our badges for entry to polling places. We decided to not wear them but have them available, because we think the words might read “vote yes.” Everyone seems to be ready. At 9:00 everyone went to the mass gravesite SW of the city. This was where several thousand of the 50,000 killings took place. The military headquarters was close. The hill behind the HQ had a little observation house on top, which was used to direct the artillery bombardment of the city. The mass graves were discovered when the floods came and washed some bones up. Now, because the bodies have little cover, the mounds they are under are eroding and more are appearing. The locals killed a poisonous snake near our walk. We also saw a school, not in session. Alex and Dave B. could not attend as they left at 10:00 for Berbera. We had lunch in the lobby. Others left for their regions. Derek’s flight to Sanaag is still being worked out. Abdul brought more maps and will return at 6:00 pm with a more detailed map and polling locations for Hargeisa. Amed will take the remaining 4 of us at 4:00 to the market.

The Awdal and Togdheer teams left and all 3 teams checked in as planned. No problems. All phones are working; accommodations are acceptable, etc. Alison will be the Togdheer rover but the rain-washed out the road and she will not be able to make as much coverage as planned.

At the market it rained soon after we arrived. Lots of people; lots of vendors. Met a native who lived in Lakewood, Colorado for 10 years. Bought two scarves (shalmet) for Deb, et al. Will get 2 more later … $5 each.

Rushed back to meet Abdul at 6:00. He had more maps and info on polling places. We learned that he had 3 years of military training in USSR. At this point the airplane to Sanaag is off. So we have 4 IRI and 5 South Africans to distribute throughout the Hargeisa region. The region has 10 districts and 165 polling places. The South Africans agreed to cooperate with our plan and to not double cover locations. As soon as we had it figured out as to who would be city vs. rural, fixed vs. rover, and IRI vs. S.A., it was announced that they had procured an airplane. Derek and 3 South Africans would go to Sanaag in the northeast. After crossing their coverage off the list we decided to make no changes with regard to the remainder.

All seems to be ready.

May 31, Thursday (Election Day) — The local people perceive the election as independence. Passage is virtually certain. The leaders know that the election is not independence, but is a step toward international recognition and in turn a step to independence. The goal seems reasonable in light of the genocide committed by Somali soldiers against unarmed civilians. Somalia has a high level of conflict and disorder; Somaliland is independent and productive. It seems that both would be better off by the split; perhaps more significant Somaliland would benefit and Somalia would not be injured.

We must meet our cars at 5:00 am. There was resistance to the time, but we had to insist in order to be at polling places prior to opening of the polls at 6:00.

Lots of observations in addition to the notes in my election-day log kept of the site I observed plus a log of contacts with folks in the field. No time now; will enter more latter.

June 1, Friday — Up at 6 for Radio Africa interview at 6:30. They did not phone. “Class” will pick me up at 7:30 to be at the counting station by 8:00. All of the ballot boxes had arrived overnight. But someone was not present; so no counting was happening.

Counting began at 10:30 and went until 5:30.

Waiting for the counting to begin a polling station chairman showed me his bullet scars. He gave me the Somaliland name: Guiliasamo. I used it thru the day and it stuck. It is after the area of the city where my counting station is located and means Happy Village.

Ahmed picked me up at closing time. We stopped at the market and he bought gifts for me. Then we stopped at his home to meet his 2 month old son, Mohamed, and wife, Simson. At the hotel I took a quick shower and met Stacy, Adrian, and Derek for dinner. We were interrupted by several calls from the out-teams. They will check out of their hotels and work their way back to stay tomorrow night in Hargeisa. They will stop at as many intervening counting stations as possible on the way. Derek will rove Hargeisa counting stations tomorrow. I will go to the national headquarters to see how they will receive information.

June 2, Saturday — Another counting day. I will go to the National Referendum Committee headquarters.

The outer region folks will do final observations and stay in Hargeisa this evening. Derek and Stacy will rove Hargeisa and Adrian will return to Gabiley. Adrian is doing some analysis of this location. Claude from South Africa may accompany Adrian.

The National Referendum Committee is not ready in the morning. They called and I went at 3:00. Abdul, another committee member, the computer guy, and one other person were sitting on the floor without shoes waiting for calls to come in. We learned that the counting districts would total their polling places and phone (or radio) in their results. Then before being released to the public they would be further aggregated by region. Six sets of numbers would be known publicly. The rationale is that some voters were not happy with the place that they had to vote and might be upset at knowing the polling place detail. All data will be available to IRI, but polling station detail may not be available for a week or more.

We went for dinner with President Igal at 7:30. Many TV cameras, pictures, recorders, entertainment and many dignitaries were present. Igal gave a brief speech. I sat at the head table next to Abdul. Abdul never married and has no children. He and a Soviet woman wished to marry but he could not stay in Moscow and he felt she would not be happy in his culture. He is 50. He has a level head and is very well reasoned and statesman-like. I suggested he might run for president and he said maybe … but he seems to be more of a reformer and crusader than a politician … so my bet is that he will not run for that office. Back to the hotel at 10:00 and listened to a debate between Derek and Dave M. on sovereignty and self-determination. They were saying the same thing, so the debate was over semantics.

Calls to Dane and Deb … to bed too late: 1:00am.

June 3, Sunday — A visit by Montezuma. Met several group members at 8 am for breakfast and planning for the day. Sasha and Dave M. went to visit the Vice President. Dave B. and Alex will go to the mass graves. Alex will interview Abdul at the election headquarters about election procedures. Alex will also on Monday June 11 go to IFES in DC, copy a similar report as a sample and email its outline to the group members. Stacy went to another counting station. Derek is sick in bed. I went to rest.

A local book writer in search of a publisher came for publishing ideas. I was not much help, but Alison suggested he pursue a South African publisher and publishing agent. He agreed and will contact one of the two remaining people from the South African delegation.

Omar phoned; the national referendum committee was receiving results. I rushed over to the office of the Minister of the Interior. Complete data was available for only 3 regions, but I left a disc to copy the data onto and got a commitment that their computer guy would email the final poll by poll results. There will be another election before the end of the year and another soon thereafter. The first will be for local representation (cities, etc.) and the latter will select the legislature and the President. The latter may be divided into more than one election. I will return to the committee office after going to the market this afternoon.

Back to the hotel. No lunch; rest. 4:30 left for market. Bought scarves (shalmet) and a pen for Tyler. On the return we stopped at an orphanage not far from the hotel. We had dinner in the lobby. I sat with Dave M. and Sasha. The other table was Alex, Dave B., Scott, and Stacy. Allison came out but seems to be getting sicker. I took her water and Sprite. Derek came out and seems to be recovering.

Returned to my room at 9:00 to phone Dane and Deb.

June 4, Monday — Slept good. Breakfast at 7:00 to see group off at 8:00 for Ethiopia. I decided to stay so that the locals would not think we were mooching, to make sure Allison was OK, and in case something important finally happens. No sooner than they had gone and Omar indicated that there would be a press conference at 10:00 announcing the complete election results. We picked up Matt (the Canadian) and went to the Hargeisa Club for coffee to wait. There we were joined by Allison and discussed the reaction of the international community. Matt tried to explain why the UN was conflicted in its view of Somaliland. He will go to NY in 2 weeks to meet with several Somaliland experts. His office is in Nairobi. The UN officer in Nairobi seems to be a big part of the problem.

Derek had a copy of an IFES report. I will copy the table of content for all and the full report for myself.

The press conference was in the chambers of the House of Representatives. Abdul opened the conference. The 2 remaining South Africans attended. There were speeches by the Minister of the Interior, by Abdul, and by the Chairman of the House of Elders. An Islamic prayer was given. All of the numbers were read by region and a copy was distributed. Four of the 6 National Election Committee members signed the final result. The 2 who did not sign are in remote rural areas. There was 1,188,154 total votes cast, of which 1,182,859 were valid. Of those, 1,148,399 voted “yes” and 34,460 voted “no.” “Yes” carried with 97.09%.

We returned to the hotel to await arrival of our team and to go to lunch at Edna’s Hospital.

Met John Drysdale who came here as a British Army officer in 1943 and stayed. He lives near Gabiley and is operating a charitable entity to survey land and issue titles to farmers very similar to my Moldova project. We took up a collection to give to Edna’s Hospital. She got $400.

The IRI observation team met in the lobby for dinner at 7:30 and to discuss the final report organization and assignments. I typed a revised outline and distributed it.

June 5, Tuesday — Up at 7 again. I had breakfast in the lobby with some team members. Omar, Ahmed and the Mayor picked us up at 9:00 for a tour of the countryside and picnic. We stopped at a water pumping station. The road followed a 15 inch steel pipe, which brought water to Hargeisa. Because there is no electricity, the pumping station used diesel engines to run the pumps. The pumps boosted the water through the pipes. Chlorine was added at this location and that is the extent of their water treatment. They deliver 6,000 cubic meters of water per day to Hargeisa. Average use is 14 liters per person per day … about 3 ½  gallons per person. We drove another 15 kilometers, which was a 1 km. walk from a groundwater well. Most of the driving via 4×4 was in a dry soft sand riverbed. The submersible pump was 90 meters deep and groundwater level is about 30 meters. Fuel has to be delivered to these locations daily to run the pumps. Twelve wells feed the water system. Adrian took one of the cars to meet his airplane. Stacy tried to kick down a giant anthill. We got more camel photos. A caterer showed up with Chinese food. The Mayor did his noon prayer (Moslems pray 5 times per day).

One of the cars got a flat coming. Going back a broken four-wheel-drive got stuck in the sand. About a dozen people had to push to get it out.

Hassan Hussien (hargeisa@bgtinet.com … phone = 5297), reporter for Maandeeq Newspaper, arrived at 5:00 for our scheduled interview. Afterwards he translated a note for Derek and we exchanged emails. He will bring extra photos he has taken so that we may use them in our report if we wish.

The Vice President was not able to join us for dinner as planned. In his place our host was the Foreign Minister and the Minister of Coastal Development. We discussed the possibility of oil and mining of gems, as well as the prospect of acceptance by the international community. We got back to the hotel at 9:30. Omar told Derek that the BBC Somalia radio had reported that no one voted in Erigabo. Derek was there and observed voting in 4 locations where people were standing in very long lines to vote … concurring with the results reported by the National Election Commission. We notified Dane and went to bed.

June 6, Wednesday — Our last full day. Lots to accomplish. Abdul arrived at 9:30 with the national committee member from the Sool region to review election procedures and how decisions were made. Derek, Dave B., and Alex questioned Abdul. Excellent meeting. Omar brought the video people who had prepared a tape of the election for us to take home with us. I will have to convert and make copies. They also will drop by a documentary of the war for us to take home. Dave and Dave got in their meeting with the Information Minister.

I drafted a statement to release to the media tomorrow at the airport. Others have reviewed it and offered suggested edits. I completed a map with the region boundaries and counting district numbers properly located … and distributed copies.

Omar took the entire group to lunch with the Foreign Minister, his former boss. Sasha was upset because she had plans to have lunch with another person.

Most of the group went again to the market. I stayed to meet the book author and to communicate with Dane about the press statement.

Abmed is 38 years old. His father died when he was 8. He wants us to come to his home for tea tomorrow.

June 7, Thursday — Supreme Court. Press Conference at the airport.

Derek, Stacie, Scott and I met with Omar, Abdul and the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. The court must ascertain that the law was followed and that the election was fair.

Thusfar, there have been very few complaints and none of substance. We had a photo in the chamber chairs and I made a few decrees.

The group went to Ahmed’s home for tea at 11. We returned, packed, turned in our cell phones and headed to the airport. On the way we stopped at Edna’s hospital to pick up some papers for Stacie and David. David is writing a piece about her. At the airport we had to wait for passengers from a connecting flight. The press statement was brief and uneventful. We departed 2 hours late but arrived in Dubai early because there was no intervening stop for gas.

In Dubai finding our luggage and checking back through security was somewhat of a hassle. I was able to change my return ticket to the Frankfurt-Denver direct, non-stop flight. We had beers at an Irish Pub and some were compelled to visit the McDonalds.

In the Pub David M. recognized a British journalist with whom we shared our entry flight Dubai-Hargeisa. He spent a little time in Hargeisa and flew Hargeisa-Mogudisu to train journalists there. He had one unit of security: a sawed-off pickup truck with a machine gun installation and 8 armed guards. He said that he regularly heard random gunfire and about 4 times per day heard a firefight. He was hesitant to say whether he might return, but offered that he never felt personally or directly threatened.

June 8, Friday — We arrived in Frankfurt at 6:30 am. We said our goodbyes as everyone went different directions. I had to pick up my boarding pass and would try to get an earlier flight. At first they forced me back to my original flight. But upon checking they found that the travel agent had cancelled my itinerary completely. Somehow this freed them to put me on the direct-non-stop flight. I still waste 6 hours in Frankfurt, but arrive in Denver 5 hours early.

The Friday USA Today had no information about the Thursday evening Avalanche game. I found a clean and spacious bathroom and shaved, etc. I then found a snack bar with an isolated corner just for me with a power plug. A croissant and water was $5.00.

I arrived in Denver at 3:30pm, but Deb was too busy (she says) to pick me up.

June 9, Saturday — Avalanche beat NJ in game 7 to win the Stanley Cup.

This paper is a chapter from The Battle Over Citizen Lawmaking. You can purchase the book here. Also see the original version of Democracy’s Journey prior to editing.

By Dennis Polhill

Many historians will argue, and I will agree, that Democracy has its roots in Greek and Roman history. However, for the sake of time and space, I have chosen to begin the discussion of “Democracy’s journey” in the period of English history that immediately preceded the founding of America. This is relevant in my opinion because it is the undemocratic underpinnings of English governance during this period of time that lead to the push for freedom in America and eventually the adoption of initiative and referendum.

Historical Backdrop
The dominant form of government throughout all of human existence has been Kings. Sometimes called Caesar, Czar, Pharaoh, Caliph, Emperor, Kaiser, or Chief, the system was the same. One man determined all aspects of life for all of the people. Because “the King was the law” fairness and consistency were no more than occasionally dreamt ideals. Individual rights existed only to the extent that the King granted them. Because Kings were granted their power to rule from God, the King’s eldest son typically became the next King.

As society grew larger, it was increasingly difficult for Kings to oversee an enlarging geography. As a result the system of Feudalism, using lesser Kings called barons, earls, and lords evolved. To administer the increasing number of items requiring the attention of the King, the corps of advisors in service to the King grew larger, more bureaucratic and more corrupt. Together the King, the barons, earls, lords, and their advisors, made up society’s ruling class, called the aristocracy. Slavery was common and non-slaves were not much better off. The role of commoners or serfs in this caste system was to work and to pay tribute.

Island Feudalism Leads to Laws
England was somewhat insulated from the more frequent Feudalistic conflicts of mainland Europe. Thus, internal domestic concerns reached
center stage sooner. The natural tension between the King and his barons, earls and lords came to a head in 1215. A collection of barons had mutinied, defeating the King’s army. The Magna Carta was then drafted and defined Feudalistic Rights in 63 written articles. The single revolutionary notion achieved by the Magna Carta was that there should be limitations upon the absolute power of the King. The Magna Carta was a necessary step, but more time would be needed to invent democracy.

The Magna Carta did more to help the barons than the commoners. It reorganized the judicial system; it abolished tax assessments without con-sent; it standardized penalties for felonies; and trials were to be conduct-ed according to strict rules of procedure. Although the Pope voided the Magna Carta, it was reissued in 1217. In 1258, again over taxation, the barons revolted, forcing the Baronial Council to become permanent. The permanent Baronial Council was the first vestige of the House of Lords of Parliament. The Magna Carta was modified and confirmed by Parliament in 1297.

Conflict over the divine right of Kings versus limitations on his powers continued for centuries. In the 17th century, religious fragmentation and persecution, and the lack of individual liberties, fueled internal turmoil and emigration to the New World. Royal abuses had become so extreme that in 1628 Parliament passed the Petition of Rights. The Petition enumerated abuses and asked that they cease. The King responded by forcing Parliament to adjourn and imprisoning parliamentary leaders. An eleven years religious war against the Scots forced the King to convene Parliament to raise taxes. Unfriendly to the idea, Parliament was immediately adjourned and a new Parliament convened in 1640. But the new Parliament was even less friendly to the King and quickly arrested and executed one of the King’s closest advisors for treason, emphasizing the view that the King and his advisors were not above the law.

Soon after, a national referendum was proposed on the abolition of the monarchy and the House of Lords. The House of Commons was created which would be elected by universal male suffrage but limited by a bill of rights. However, the King refused to cooperate and was convicted of violating his coronation oath by attacking the people’s liberties, and was publicly beheaded in 1649. Parliament took unilateral control of government under the dictatorial leadership of Oliver Cromwell. The state-preferred religion changed, but religious persecution continued. Parliament was purged and Cromwell cruelly suppressed the Irish and Scots. Soon, the Commonwealth began to crumble. Upon Cromwell’s death, his son proved too weak to maintain control and so the son of the beheaded King was asked to return in 1660 and the Monarchy was restored.

John Locke
Events during this period influenced the thinking of John Locke, arguably the foremost political thinker of all times. Locke was born in 1632 and was educated at Oxford University. After teaching briefly, he became a physician. Uncomfortable with the restoration of the monarchy, Locke went to France in 1675. He returned in 1679 only to discover religious persecution as rampant as ever, and returned to the Continent until 1689. He was a philosophical empiricalist emphasizing the importance of experience and experimentation in the pursuit of knowledge. His two most important writings, Essay Concerning Human Understanding and Two Treatises o f Government were written in 1690. Locke attacked the theory of divine right of Kings and argued that sovereignty resided with the people, not the state. The state was limited by civil and “natural” law. It was government’s duty to protect natural rights, such as life, liberty, property, and religious freedom. He advocated checks and balances via three branches of government and separation of church and state. Locke held that revolution was not only a natural right, but also an obligation.

The contest for supremacy between the King and Parliament continued after Cromwell’s death. Finally the divine right of Kings ended with the Glorious Revolution in 1688. In a Parliamentary vote, the Crown was taken from James II and offered to William and Mary conditioned upon a written Declaration of Rights, which enumerated rights in similar fashion to what was to become the Bill of Rights in the U.S. Constitution.

Evolution of Sovereignty
During this period, John Locke introduced the next revolutionary notion: that the people were sovereign, not the King. The King-by-proxy government of the American colonies, proved both ineffective and largely irrelevant to the increasingly self-reliant colonists.

Locke’s ideas soon took hold in the American colonies. Thomas Jefferson, a reader of Locke, based many of his beliefs on Locke’s theories, which can easily be seen in his writings. A perfect example is Jefferson’s belief that “[t]he people.. . are the only sure reliance for the preservation of our liberty.” It’s that principal, that one simple statement, that best summarizes not only Jefferson’s and Locke’s beliefs, but also the beliefs that America was founded upon.

The Evolution of Initiative and Referendum in the United States
It wasn’t long before the American colonies had tired of the undemocratic governance by the Crown and soon gained their independence. Then came the tough job of designing a system of government that would recognize the sovereignty of the people while creating a strong government that would insure the stability of a newly formed country. Even though many historians believe initiative and referendum was a subject of discussion, it was left out of the original constitution- as was women’s suffrage and the abolishment of slavery.

However, Jefferson was a strong and vocal advocate of the referendum process, which in his view recognized the people to be the sovereign. Where-as the King of England spoke of his power to govern being derived from God, Jefferson knew that those chosen to represent the citizenry as envisioned in a republican form of government were only empowered by the people.

James Madison, as did Jefferson, knew too well the possibility that in a republic, those chosen to rule can and would on occasion become consumed with their power and take actions not consistent with the Constitution- actions that represented their self-interest and not the interest of the people. For this reason, a series of checks-and-balances were placed in the U.S. Constitution in order to right the errors caused when elected representatives chose to rule unconstitutionally or in their own self-interest. Not only did the Founding Fathers create these checks-and-balances by one branch of government over the next, they created a provision in Article V of the Constitution that allowed the people the right to make change and/or restore our Constitution absent action by the Government. Unfortunately this process still relied on some form of action by those in power and therefore can be argued as being unusable by the citizenry since it has never been utilized in over 200 years.

The Founding Fathers at the state level created republican governments on a smaller scale that mirrored that of the Federal Government. In these constitutions a series of checks-and-balances were created to take into account the possible abuse of power by elected representatives and to protect the people from an out of control government- when and if that were to happen. But what the citizens began to realize in the late 1800s was that no matter what checks-and-balances existed, the people had no direct ability to reign in an out-of-touch government or government paralyzed by inaction.

Then came the Populist Party of the 1890s. Its members had become outraged that moneyed special interest groups controlled government, and that the people had no ability to break this control. They soon began to pro-pose a comprehensive platform of political reforms. They advocated women’s suffrage, secret ballots, direct election of U.S. Senators, primary elections and initiative and referendum. Difficult as it would be to envision modern political systems without these reforms, they were considered quite extreme changes in the 1890s.

Perhaps the most revolutionary Populist reform was initiative and popular referendum. These forms of initiative and referendum, as well as the already established legislative referendum- which Jefferson championed in the late 1700s- acknowledged that the authority to legislate and govern was delegated by the people and reaffirmed that the people were the only true sovereign- as Jefferson and Locke had envisioned. They right-fully believed that government without the consent of the governed was tyranny and because authority, but not responsibility, can be delegated, a mechanism to un-delegate, when appropriate, was a proper check on the process of legislating.

It should be noted and emphasized that the move to establish initiative and referendum was not a movement to change our system of government or abolish representative government- but to enhance it. Our Founding Fathers at the state and federal levels created wonderful documents, but they were documents based on compromise. They realized that they would need to be changed which is why they created a mechanism to alter them when necessary. The system of checks and balances were created as a theoretical system based on how to check the power of one branch of government with another- but it was an unproven system. As time progressed, the citizens discovered that this theoretical system of checks and balances at the state and federal level worked- but not good enough- for their were times when elected officials chose not to act in the people’s best interest. For this reason, the Populists/Progressives strove to strengthen the system of checks and balances on government at the state level and advocated the initiative and referendum process. Additionally it must be remembered that we have two tiers of Founding Fathers in this country- those at the federal level and those at the state level. The Founding Fathers of Oklahoma and Alaska, for example, chose to put initiative and referendum in their states’ original constitutions. It would be wrong in my opinion to pass judgment that the Founding Fathers at the state level were in some way inferior to our Founding Fathers at the federal level.

In 1897, Nebraska became the first state to allow cities to place initiative and referendum in their charters. One year later, the Populists adopt-ed methods from the 1848 Swiss Constitution and successfully amended them into the South Dakota Constitution. On November 5, 1898, South Dakota became the first state to adopt statewide initiative and popular referendum. Oregon followed in 1902 when Oregon voters approved initiative and popular referendum by an 11-to-1 margin. Other states soon followed. In 1906 Montana voters approved an initiative and popular ref-erendum amendment proposed by the state legislature. Oklahoma became the first state to provide for the initiative and popular referendum in its original constitution in 1907. Maine and Michigan passed initiative and popular referendum amendments in 1908.

In 1911 California placed initiative and popular referendum in their constitution. Other states were to follow- but even with popular support in many states, the elected class refused the will of the people and did not enact this popular reform. In Texas; for example, the people actually had the opportunity to vote for initiative and popular referendum in 1914, but voted it down because the amendment proposed by the legislature would have required that signatures be gathered from 20% of the registered voters in the state -a number twice as large as what was required in any other state. The proponents for initiative and popular referendum felt it was more important to get a useable process than one that would have maintained the status quo and provided no benefit to the citizenry. However, the legislature used this defeat as an excuse to claim that initiative and popular referendum was not wanted by the people and therefore effectively killed the movement in Texas.

Eventually, between 1898 and 1918, 24 states adopted initiative or popular referendum- mostly in the West. The expansion of initiative and popular referendum in the West fit more with the Westerners belief of populism- that the people should rule the elected and not allow the elected to rule the people. Unfortunately in the East and South this was not the case. Those that were in power were opposed to the expansion of initiative and popular referendum because they were concerned that blacks and immigrants would use the process to enact reforms that were not consistent with the beliefs of the ruling class.

In 1959, when Alaska became a state, the citizens had adopted the power of initiative and popular referendum. Then in 1972, Floridians adopted statewide initiative. Mississippians in 1992 restored initiative and referendum to their constitution, 70 years after the state Supreme Court invalidated the election creating the process. Mississippi became the newest and last state to get this valuable tool.

The credit for the establishment of initiative and popular referendum in this country belongs with the Progressives. They worked steadily to dismantle the political machines and bosses that controlled American politics by pushing reforms eliminating the influence the special interest had on political parties and the government. Their goal, as is that of today’s proponents of the initiative and popular referendum, is to ensure that elect-ed officials remain accountable to the electorate.

Conclusion
The evolution from tyranny to democracy has been a long and difficult road- a road that is never ending. But as you can see, the evolution of initiative and referendum is not contrary to the evolution of representative democracy- but an enhancement to it. The two are designed to work hand-in-hand with each other. The following chapter by Rob Natelson specifically addresses this issue.

The long journey for democracy that began with the Magna Carta is far from finished. Though its future form may be unclear today, we can be certain that democracy will increase and that initiative and referendum will play a role in determining future democratic systems.

Initiative and Referendum Historical Timeline
This information compiled from research contained in David Schmidt’s Citizen Lawmakers and from independent research conducted by the Initiative & Referendum Institute.

1775 In his proposed 1775 Virginia state constitution, Thomas Jefferson includes a requirement that the constitution must be approved by the voters in a statewide referendum before it can take effect. Unfortunately, because he was hundred of miles from Virginia at the time attending the Continental Congress, delegates to the Virginia Convention did not receive the proposal until after the convention was already over.
1776 Georgia delegates gather in Savannah to draft their state’s constitution. The constitution includes a provision that would allow amendments whenever a majority of voters in each county signed petitions calling for a convention, but the provision is never invoked.
1778 Massachusetts becomes the first state to hold a statewide legislative referendum to adopt its constitution. The voters reject it by a five-to-one margin, forcing the legislature to rewrite its proposal.
1792 New Hampshire becomes the second state to hold a statewide legislative referendum to adopt its constitution.
1830 Voters in Virginia demand the power to veto amendments to their state constitution and are given it.
1834 Alabama, Connecticut, Georgia, Maine, Mississippi, New York, North Carolina, and Rhode Island adopt provisions preventing their state constitutions from being amended without the approval of the voters.
1848 The Swiss Constitution includes provisions for initiative and popular referendum.
1857 Congress requires that voters must approve all state constitutions proposed after 1857.
1885 Father Robert Haire, a priest and labor activist from Aberdeen, South Dakota, and Benjamin Urner, a newspaper publisher from New Jersey become the first Americans to propose giving the people statewide initiative and popular referendum power.
1897 Nebraska becomes the first state to allow its cities to use initiative and popular referendum.
1898 South Dakota becomes the first state to adopt statewide initiative and popular referendum.
1900 Utah becomes the second state to adopt statewide initiative and popular referendum.
1901 The Illinois legislature creates a statewide nonbinding advisory initiative process.
1902 Oregon becomes the third state to adopt statewide initiative and popular referendum. In Illinois, using a statewide nonbinding advisory initiative process, citizens place an advisory question on the ballot asking whether or not Illinois should adopt a real initiative and referendum process-voters say yes, but the legislature ignores them.
1904 Oregon is the first state to place a statewide initiative on the bal-lot. In Missouri, voters defeat a measure that would have established statewide initiative and popular referendum.
1905 Nevada adopts statewide popular referendum only.
1906 Montana adopts statewide initiative and popular referendum. Delaware voters approve an advisory referendum put on the bal-lot by the state legislature, asking whether they want the initiative process- but the legislature ignores the mandate.
1907 Oklahoma becomes the first state to provide for statewide initiative and popular referendum in its original constitution.
1908 Michigan and Maine adopt statewide initiative and popular referendum. Unfortunately, Michigan’s initiative procedures are so difficult that, under them, citizens are unable to place a single initiative on the ballot. Missouri adopts statewide initiative and popular referendum.
1910 Arkansas and Colorado adopt statewide initiative and popular referendum. Kentucky adopts statewide popular referendum. Illinois voters again approve a citizen- initiated nonbinding advisory question in support of statewide initiative and popular referendum- and the legislature again ignores them.
1911 Arizona and California adopt statewide initiative and popular referendum. New Mexico adopts only statewide popular referendum.
1912 Idaho, Nebraska, Ohio and Washington adopt statewide initiative and popular referendum. Nevada adopts a statewide initiative process, complementing its statewide popular referendum process adopted in 1905. A majority of Wyoming voters voting on a constitutional amendment to adopt statewide initiative and popular referendum approve the amendment; but Wyoming’s constitution requires that all amendments also receive a majority vote of all voters voting in the election, regardless of whether or not they vote on the actual amendment itself- so the measure fails. A majority of Mississippi voters voting on a constitutional amendment to adopt statewide initiative and popular referendum also approve the amendment; but, like Wyoming, a constitutional requirement that all amendments also receive a majority vote of all voters voting in the election, defeats the measure.
1913 Michigan initiative and popular referendum supporters lobby the legislature to pass amendments simplifying its statewide initiative and popular referendum process, a process so difficult that it is unusable. The legislature passes the amendments and voters approve them.
1914 Mississippi and North Dakota adopt statewide initiative and popular referendum. Wisconsin and Texas voters defeat measures creating a statewide initiative and popular referendum process. A majority of Minnesota voters voting on a constitutional amendment to adopt statewide initiative and popular referendum approve the amendment; but Minnesota’s constitution requires that all amendments also receive a majority vote of all voters voting in the election, regardless of whether or not they vote on the actual amendment itself- so the measure fails.
1915 Maryland adopts popular referendum.
1916 A majority of Minnesota voters voting on a constitutional amendment to adopt statewide initiative and popular referendum again approve the amendment; but the Minnesota constitution’s requirement that all amendments also receive a majority vote of all voters voting in the election, regardless of whether or not they vote on the actual amendment itself- again dooms the measure.
1918 Massachusetts adopts statewide initiative and popular referendum. North Dakotans vote and approve a more lenient initiative process. The amendment passed by the North Dakota legislature and adopted by the voters in 1914 had such strict procedures that no initiatives qualified for the ballot in the following election, so initiative proponents put an initiative on the 1918 ballot to ease the procedures.
1922 The Mississippi Supreme Court overturns Mississippi’s initiative and popular referendum process.
1956 Alaska adopts statewide initiative and popular referendum as part of its new constitution.
1968 Wyoming adopts statewide initiative and popular referendum. 1970 Illinois adopts a very limited initiative process.
1972 Florida adopts statewide initiative.
1977 Hardie v. Eu is decided by the California Supreme Court which finds unconstitutional the Political Reform Act’s cap on expenditures for qualifying ballot measures since it violates the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. The District of Columbia adopts initiative and popular referendum. The U.S. Supreme Court rules in First National Bank o f Boston v. Bellotti that state laws prohibiting or limiting corporate contributions or spending in initiative campaigns violates the First and Fourteenth Amendment.
1980 For the third time, a majority of Minnesota voters voting on a constitutional amendment to adopt statewide initiative and popular referendum approve the measure; but for the third time the Minnesota constitution’s requirement that all amendments also receive a majority vote of all voters voting in the election, regardless of whether or not they vote on the actual amendment itself dooms the measure. The U.S. Supreme Court rules in Pruneyard Shopping Center v. Robins that state constitutional provisions that permit political activity at a privately- owned shopping center does not violate federal constitutional private property rights of owner.
1981 The U.S. Supreme Court rules in Citizens Against Rent Control v. Berkeley that a California city’s ordinance to impose a limit on contributions to committees formed to support or oppose ballot measures violates the First Amendment.
1986 Rhode Island voters defeat a measure establishing statewide initiative and popular referendum.
1988 The U.S. Supreme Court rules in Meyer v. Grant that states cannot prohibit paid signature gathering, saying that initiative petitions are protected political speech.
1992 Mississippi adopts statewide initiative for the second time.
1996 Rhode Island voters approve a nonbinding advisory question put on the ballot by the legislature asking if they would like to have a statewide initiative and popular referendum process- but the legislature ignores them.
1998 The Initiative & Referendum Institute is formed to study and defend the I&R process on the 100 year anniversary of the adoption of the statewide initiative and popular referendum process in America
1999 The Minnesota House of Representatives approves a constitutional amendment that would establish a statewide initiative and popular referendum process. The U.S. Supreme Court declares in Buckley v. American Constitutional Law Foundation that, among other things, states cannot require that petition circulators be registered voters.
2000 The Minnesota Senate kills the initiative and referendum bill passed by the House the year before. The Initiative & Referendum Institute files suit against the U.S. Postal Service’s 1998 prohibition on collecting signatures on initiative petitions on postal property.

This is the original version of a chapter from The Battle Over Citizen Lawmaking, prior to editing. Also see the published version.

By Dennis Polhill

The most significant idea of the second millennium is that government powers must be limited. This is the foundation principle for democracy.

HISTORICAL BACKDROP
The dominant form of government throughout all of human existence has been Kings. Sometimes called Caesar, Czar, Pharaoh, Caliph, Emperor, Kaiser, or Chief, the system was the same. One man determined all aspects of life for all of the people. Because “the King was the law” fairness and consistency were no more than occasionally dreamt ideals. Individual rights existed only to the extent that the King granted them. Because Kings were granted their power to rule from God, the King’s eldest son typically became the next King.

Before there were big Kings, there were little Kings. Living in caves, the little Kings gained their initial power by brute force. They decided who would and who would not eat; what crimes would receive what punishment; and when to raid and pillage the neighbors.

As society grew larger, little Kings became big Kings. It was increasingly difficult to oversee an enlarging geography. As a result the system of Feudalism using lesser Kings called barons, earls, and lords evolved. To administer the increasing number of items requiring the attention of the big King, the corps of advisors in service to the King grew larger, more bureaucratic and more corrupt. Together the big King, the lesser Kings, and their advisors made up society’s ruling class, called the aristocracy. Slavery was common and non-slaves were not much better off. The role of commoners or serfs in this cast system was to work and to pay tribute.

ISLAND FEUDALISM LEADS TO LAWS
England was somewhat insulated from the more frequent Feudalistic conflicts of mainland Europe. Thus, internal domestic concerns reached centerstage sooner. The natural tension between the big King and the lesser Kings came to a head in 1215. A collection of barons had mutinied, defeating the King’s army. Magna Carta in 63 written articles defined Feudalistic Rights. The single revolutionary notion achieved by Magna Carta was that there should be limitations upon the absolute power of the King. Magna Carta was a necessary step. But more time would be needed to invent democracy.

Magna Carta did more to help of the barons than the commoners. It reorganized the judicial system; it abolished tax assessments without consent, which eventually grew into Parliament; it standardized penalties for felonies; and trials were to be conducted according to strict rules of procedure. Although the Pope voided the charter, it was reissued in 1217. In 1258 again over taxation the barons revolted, forcing the Baronial Council to become permanent. The permanent Baronial Council was the first vestige of the House of Lords of Parliament. Magna Carta was modified and confirmed by Parliament in 1297.

Conflict over the divine right of Kings versus limitations continued for centuries. In the 17th century religious fragmentation and persecution fueled internal turmoil and emigration to the New World. Royal abuses had become so extreme that in 1628 Parliament passed the Petition of Rights. The Petition enumerated abuses and asked that they cease. The King responded by forcing Parliament to adjourn and imprisoning parliamentary leaders. An 11 years religious war against the Scots forced the King to convene Parliament to raise taxes. Unfriendly to the idea, Parliament was immediately adjourned and a new Parliament convened in 1640. But the new Parliament was even less friendly to the King and quickly arrested and executed one of the King’s closest advisors for treason, emphasizing the view that the King and his advisors were not above the law.

A national Referendum was proposed on the abolition of the monarchy and the House of Lords. A House of Commons would be elected by universal male suffrage but limited by a bill of rights. The King refused to cooperate, was convicted of violating his coronation oath by attacking the people’s liberties, and was publicly beheaded in 1649. Parliament took unilateral control of government under the dictatorial leadership, Oliver Cromwell. The state-preferred religion changed, but religious persecution continued. Parliament was purged. Cromwell cruelly suppressed the Irish and Scots. The Commonwealth began to crumble. Upon Cromwell’s death, his son proved too weak to maintain control and the son of the beheaded King was asked to return in 1660.

JOHN LOCKE
Contemporary events evidently influenced the thinking of John Locke, arguably the foremost political thinker of all times. Locke was born in 1632 and was educated at Oxford University. After teaching briefly, he became a physician. Uncomfortable with the restoration of the monarchy, Locke went to France in 1675, returned in 1679 to discover religious persecution as rampant as ever, and returned to the Continent until 1689. He was a philosophical empiricalist emphasizing the importance of experience and experimentation in the pursuit of knowledge. His two most important writings, Essay Concerning Human Understanding and Two Treatises of Government were written in 1690. Locke attacked the theory of divine right of Kings and argued that sovereignty resided with the people, not the state. The state was limited by civil and “natural” law. It was government’s duty to protect natural rights, such as life, liberty, property, and religious freedom. He advocated checks and balances via three branches of government and separation of church and state. Locke held that revolution was not only a natural right, but an obligation.

The contest for supremacy between the King and Parliament continued after Cromwell’s death. Finally the divine right of Kings ended with the Glorious Revolution in 1688. In a Parliamentary vote the Crown was taken from James II and offered to William and Mary conditioned upon a written Declaration of Rights, which enumerated rights in similar fashion to the U.S. Bill of Rights.

CONTRASTING CONSTITITONS
Other than the three great Charters of English liberty discussed above (Magna Carta, Petition of Rights, and Declaration of Rights), Great Britain has no written constitution. Many consider the three great Charters to comprise Britain’s constitution. The British constitution makes no mention of governmental structure; only rights.

Interestingly, the U.S. Constitution, as it emerged from the 1787 Constitutional Convention was the opposite. It focused on governmental structure only and made no mention of rights. So, what is a constitution? Dictionaries and encyclopedias avoid a comprehensive definition.

LESSONS LEARNED FROM IMPERIALISM
In the middle of the second millennium the two major contestants in claiming the World were Britain and Spain. Colonization meant the superimposition of language, laws, culture and government from the motherland. A look at the human condition today in the respective colonized countries is instructive. In virtually every case the English speaking ones are better off than the Spanish speaking ones: stronger economies, human rights, more individual wealth, bigger players in the global economy, lower poverty, less disease, longer life expectancy, higher education, more evolved democratic processes, etc. Did the British pick better countries to colonize or is there another reason? If the success of the British colonies happened to be the product of natural resources, genetics, climate, the efforts of an individual political leader, or a few technological breakthroughs, the result would be random. Because the result is virtually universal, the defining variable must be a component of the British culture. It must be the system of rights, laws and government. That no man is above the law: the rule of law, is not a trivial contribution.

EVOLUTION OF SOVEREIGNTY
Magna Carta simply established that government should be limited. For nearly 500 years the concept of limits was refined and solidified. Then John Locke introduced the next revolutionary notion: that the people were sovereign, not the King. The King-by-proxy government of the American colonies, proved both ineffective and largely irrelevant to the increasingly self-reliant colonists. They would soon be ready to put Locke’s ideas into practice.

New England Town Meetings date back to the early 1600s. Elections of leaders occurred from the beginning of colonization. Thomas Jefferson suggested in 1775 that the proposed Virginia Constitution be approved by a vote of the people. In 1778 Massachusetts was the first state to hold a statewide referendum to adopt its constitution. It failed and had to be rewritten. New Hampshire adopted its constitution of 1792 by statewide referendum. When the Virginia Constitution was rewritten in 1830 the people took from their legislature the unilateral authority to amend their constitution. In 1834 eight additional states made changes to recognize the people’s sovereignty. Today 49 states acknowledge the sovereignty of their people by requiring that proposed amendments to the state constitution be approved only by vote of the electorate. Delaware is the only state that permits its legislature to amend its state constitution.

Thomas Jefferson had a firm grasp of Locke’s ideas and assigned it such importance as to advocate that it be one of three mandated readings for all students. Over 100 years Locke’s junior, at 33 Jefferson shook the foundations of conventional thinking by writing in 1776, “… to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.” Remembering their comparatively recent experience with Cromwell, the British aristocracy accepted the notion of self-government with bemusement. The first real experiment in human history with self-government had begun.

REPUBLICAN FORM OF GOVERNMENT
Article IV, Section 4 of the U.S. Constitution states, “The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government …” This meant free, open, and competitive election of representatives. The concern in 1787 was that if the people of one State chose a monarch or dictator, that the inevitable friction and thirst for political domination would undermine and destabilize their experiments in self-government in other states. It is contrary to the notion of self-government to suggest that this clause infers any further limitations on how people might decide to govern themselves.

MANAGEMENT THEORY
Management students learn to lead by exercising the principles of management: planning, organizing, directing, and controlling. Subordinates are empowered to achieve their charge by the delegation of authority. Though authority is delegated, responsibility is not. Because responsibility is maintained, the manager is obliged to oversee the progress of work. When subordinates deviate from the work plan or fail to be productive, the manager takes corrective action. Tasks that require a comprehensive vision or far-reaching strategic decisions cannot be effectively delegated. The responsibility of controlling the work implies that the manager may occasionally find it necessary to un-delegate tasks, taking things into his own hands. Usually un-delegating fills a subordinate’s skill gap helping good workers to become better. Occasionally the subordinate is generally incompetent or insubordinate and the manager is compelled to take more extreme action.

Of course, the people must be the boss in any model of democratic government. This is widely understood and frequently underscored. The U.S. Constitution opens with “We the People” and goes on to make numerous limiting and insensitive pronouncements such as “Congress shall make no law …” Article I, Section 1 says, “All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress …” The people delegate to Congress the authority to legislate, but limited the extent of the delegated authority by the phrase “herein granted.”

State constitutions replicate the tone and terminology. In Colorado, Article V, Section 1 opens with “The legislative power of the state shall be vested in the general assembly consisting of a senate and house of representatives, both to be elected by the people, but the people reserve to themselves the power to propose laws and amendments…” Here the sovereign people delegate the authority to legislate to the general assembly, but the people are also making it absolutely clear that they are not delegating all legislative authority. They “reserve to themselves” the power to legislate when they so choose.

INSUBORDINATE LEGISLATORS
The contempt that legislators hold for petitions is not surprising. To them any petition on any subject is a personal insult. It is like saying, “You didn’t do your job. So let’s go see what the boss has to say about it.” Any person with enough talent and pride to be an elected official would naturally be offended.

However, when offense turns into action to strangle the process, the very person elected to protect and defend democracy, his constituents, and the Constitution crosses the line by subverting the institutions he swore an oath to uphold. Icon of democracy reverts to subversive tyrant. As stated in the Declaration of Independence, “A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may defined a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.” Penned in 1776 with King George III in mind, the phrase is surprisingly fitting for some of today’s political operatives.

Legislative attacks on the petition process are too many to discuss thoroughly. Most Initiative states observe at least one attempt per year to restrain the petition process. In 1999 there were over 100 such bills in the state of Oregon alone. The State of Colorado has been humiliated twice on the national stage for passing acts subversive to democracy, when the U.S. Supreme Court struck down legislatively imposed petition restrictions. The Court’s view is that whether the state has petitions is determined by the people of the individual state. However, once the state has the Initiative and Referendum (I&R) process, the First Amendment, protection of free political speech rules. Thus, reasonable regulations that facilitate and augment the process are permissible. Restrictions are not.

CONFLICT OF INTEREST
The petition process is daunting to undertake. Most people who consider a petition decline to pursue it. No one exercises the petition process when any other path is available. A review of the subject content of various petitions reveals the obvious. Petitions deal with two types of issues: conflict of interest issues and too-hot-to-handle issues.

Conflict of interest issues are those that are impossible for legislative bodies to address honestly due to their position. Examples include: compensation and benefits, districting, terms of office, recall, campaign finance limitations, term limits, tax and spending limitations, and regulations of the I&R process. Basically any issue that limits the power of politicians or government is a conflict of interest issue. Expecting the legislature to fairly deal with any of these examples is like asking a first grader to set his own bedtime. It just doesn’t work.

Too-hot-to-handle issues are those that carry a political price that legislators are unwilling to pay. These include those that are offensive to any side of any issue. Politicians who wish to be reelected are careful to not offend any lobbyist constituency or any grassroots group. Thus, issues with even a moderate degree of controversy tend not to be addressed in the legislature.

SPECIAL INTERESTS
The history of special interests is well-known. After the Civil War railroads and other business interests gained enormous influence over legislative bodies. Inordinately fraudulent elections placed tremendous control in the hands of corrupt political party machines. Legislators were openly purchased. Policy meant the allocation of privilege to the few. In response to criticisms insiders strove to clarify the forms of graft that were proper. Outraged groups of reformers came together first in the Populist movement of the 1890s and again as the Progressive movement of the 1900s. Betrayed by their political leaders, they advocated reforms that enlarged the democratic process by limiting the powers of their elected officials. Some of the advocated reforms included woman suffrage, secret ballots, election of U.S. Senators, primary elections, election of judges, recall petitions, Initiative petitions, Referendum (legislative challenge) petitions, voter registration, no straight party ballots, nonpartisan municipal elections, and many more.

No doubt these insiders referred to the insurgent Populists and Progressives as “special interests.” From their perspective the label was accurate. The insurgents did have different interests. Because any group of like-minded people may be referred to as a special interest, a clearer definition of the term “special interest” is needed.

Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary defines special interest as “a person or group seeking to influence legislative or government policy to further often narrowly defined interests.” By this definition, because the Populists and Progressives were motivated on behalf of the general interest of society, they were less of a special interest than were the railroads. The word “narrowly” is key to the definition. When a broad segment of society stands to benefit from an idea, then advocacy is, by definition, not that of a special-interest.

With a clearer understanding of the term “special interest,” a closer look at what happens under the Capitol dome, is instructive. A February 7, 2000, research paper by Professor Barry Fagan, “Who Testifies and Why” tabulates all testimony on all 60 bills heard in 1999 before the Colorado Senate Finance Committee. Sixty two percent of the bills concentrated benefits narrowly. Equally important, Professor Fagan discovered that, “…chances are 96 percent that a witness is a beneficiary of that bill or representing someone who is …” Fagan explains the imbalance by public choice theory. Most witnesses are motivated by self-interest and come to testify when the benefits of testifying outweigh the costs. This occurs most frequently when benefits are concentrated narrowly. When a bill is structured as special interest legislation, favorable testimony is abundant. The legislative process sinks to the level of special-interest autonom. A similar study by James Payne, “The Public Interest,” revealed that Congressional testimony for more spending was favored by the ratio 145:1.

To state that the legislative process is heavily influenced by special interests may be an understatement. A quick look back at the list of examples of initiative petitions in the previous section, “Conflict of Interest,” reveals that hardly any are issues with narrowly concentrated benefits. Clearly the petition process is less influenced by special interests than is the legislative process under the Capitol dome.

In a March 1997 paper “The Citizen’s Initiative and Entrepreneurial Politics,” Professor Anne G. Campbell concluded, “… the initiative process in Colorado has been used primarily in attempts to benefit the public interest, and that it has rather infrequently been used to promote the objectives of special interests.”

WHAT THEY SAY ABOUT PETITIONS
As it is said, “A half truth is a whole lie.” Politics has become the deceitful art of stating half-truths. Half-truths are especially effective in misleading the less informed for the short term. This is why negative campaigning is so effective. If the opposition objects, then the false claim gains legitimacy.

From the discussion in previous sections it is known that those who dislike petitions most are those with the greatest stake in the legislative process: career politicians, lobbyists, and special interests. These groups tend to be especially well-practiced in the art of manipulating rhetoric to suit their purposes. Following is a list of the 14 most commonly heard complaints about petitions as stated by petition opponents:

1. Initiatives are the tool of special interests.
2. Initiative campaigns are influenced by money.
3. Voters are incompetent to decide complex issues.
4. Initiatives are poorly written.
5. Initiatives are often unconstitutional.
6. There are too many initiatives on the ballot.
7. Initiatives cause ballot clutter.
8. Voters do not like long ballots.
9. Initiatives benefit one philosophy.
10. People vote selfishly.
11. Many initiatives are bad ideas.
12. Initiatives place extraneous material in the Constitution.
13. Initiatives create tyranny of the majority.
14. Initiatives make the Legislature unnecessary.

A more extensive discussion of each is provided in “Are Coloradans fit to make their own laws?” By Dennis Polhill, Oct. 1996 which can be found at http://www.i2i.org/suptdocs/issupprs/ip0896.htm or http://www.iandrinstitute.org/indepth/document1/introduction.htm).

These 14 statements are more accurate when reworded slightly:

1. Initiatives provide a means of legislating when special interests control the Legislature.
2. Initiative campaigns make it more difficult for money to influence legislation.
3. Voters are competent and conscientious to decide complex issues.
4. Initiatives are not as poorly written as most legislation.
5. Initiatives are rarely unconstitutional.
6. More initiatives appear on ballots when the legislative process is not working properly.
7. Ballot clutter is augmented by old ballot format and voting procedures.
8. High voter turn out proves that voters want to vote on issues.
9. Initiatives are used by every political philosophy.
10. People vote thoughtfully.
11. Many initiatives are good ideas.
12. Initiatives rarely place extraneous material in the Constitution.
13. Initiatives can not cause “Tyranny of the Majority.”
14.Initiatives focus the legislature on issues relevant to voters.

HOW MANY ARE TOO MANY?
In all of Colorado history only 61 petitions have made it into law. The process is so difficult that the vast majority do not succeed. About 70% are defeated in election. But only one in 10 or 20 reaches the ballot at all. Hundreds more are never attempted either because people are unfamiliar with their right to petition or because they lack the resources to undertake the difficult petition process.

Because the Colorado General Assembly passes about 300 laws per year, the 61 petition-laws represent close to 0.2% of all laws. Stated in reverse: 99.8% of all Colorado law is made in the General Assembly.

These numbers overstate petition activism. At the local government level far fewer than 0.2% of laws come from petitions. Fewer than 5% of Colorado’s local governments have the petition process and those with it rarely exercise it. At the Federal government level no laws are the product of petitions.

The 0.2% also overstates petition activism at the state level nationwide. The majority of States (26) do not have the initiative petition. Several of the remainder 24 State procedures are so restrictive that the process is rendered dysfunctional. For example, scholars frequently do not even count Illinois among the list of states with I&R and the Mississippi process is so difficult that only two petitions have ever succeeded in appearing on the ballot. Of the states where petitions are most active, only two states have more petitions appear on the ballot than does Colorado. That means 47 states (94%) have no petitions or fewer petitions than Colorado.

Comprehensive data is not available to calculate an absolute number, but conceptual generalizations are possible. Less than 0.1% (1 in 1,000) of state level laws result from a petition. Possibly as little as 0.01% (1 in 10,000) of all laws come from a petition.

DIRECT DEMOCRACY
The term Direct Democracy infers a system of democratic government in which citizens are consulted on all decisions. Conversely, Indirect Democracy is a system of democratic government through elected representatives. One hundred percent implementation of either extreme is improbable and generally undesirable.

Absolute Direct Democracy, although increasingly achievable via modern technology, would quickly wear on the interest and patience of most people. Average citizens would be buried with hundreds of daily decisions regarding issues impossible for most to become adequately educated about: should the police chief received a raise, be fired, be commended, or be reprimanded? Clearly, smaller, decentralized, more devolved units of government may more effectively deal with direct involvement of their citizens. The Swiss Landsgemeinde predating 1294 and the pre-Revolutionary War New England town meetings (banned by Britain “for better regulating the government…”) provide evidence. Small groups quickly discover it expedient to divide work and specialize. Management expert, Tom Peters claims that groups begin to become bureaucratic when they grow to five people. Bureaucracy is the negative byproduct of work specialization.

Absolute Indirect Democracy is equally infeasible. In the Management Theory section it was revealed that the boss (the sovereign people) must never delegate certain tasks and must sometimes un-delegate tasks. It was also learned in the Conflict of Interest section that there are issues impossible for legislators to address honestly and other issues too difficult for legislators to resolve.

Sometimes the term Direct Democracy is used in a pejorative sense. The context leads people to believe that any more citizen participation might result in chaos or an end to life as we know it. As was discovered in a the discussion of Special Interests, a look at who is making such claims may be more informative than the actual words.

Although an Initiative petition is an example of Direct Democracy, it alone is not Direct Democracy. It would be less misleading to apply either the term Direct legislation or citizen participation.

As the wise old man said, “If you don’t ask the right question, you cannot get the right answer.” The Direct Democracy question is more accurately about “What is the appropriate level of citizen participation in their government?” Though a specific answer is currently unavailable, the vast majority of people concur that there will be more citizen participation in the future. The underlying questions are, “How soon will there be change? What form will the change take? Where will the leadership come from? Who should decide?”

DO PETITIONS DOMINATE THE PROCESS?
Knowing that at least 99.9 percent of laws come from elected officials, makes it difficult to reconcile the domination claim. It is unlikely that the average petition law is over 1000 times more important than the average legislated law? Respect for legislators might improve, however, if they passed fewer inconsequential laws. Knowing who opposes petitions and why from the discussion in previous sections, helps explain the source and motivation for this exaggeration.

But by the mere fact that they are statements from the boss, petition-laws approved by a vote of the people are and should be more consequential than legislated laws. A true representative would never dream of ignoring or subverting the stated will of people. The influence of petitions goes even farther. Failed petitions communicate much information about the concerns and priorities of the public. These expressed concerns of the general public often influence the legislative agenda. Agenda priorities suggested external to the General Assembly might be a disruption to an internally set agenda, but only if the internal agenda is out-or-sync with the people. A true representative welcomes such direction, because it allows him to do his job more effectively.

Because petitions are used by every political ideology, petition opponents can easily find examples offensive to anyone. The tax issue is an interesting study. Although some believe that taxes should be higher, the majority of people today feel that their taxes are high enough. This majority view is out-of-sync with the view of most legislators, as they frequently feel compelled to seek ways to circumvent the will of people. A recent study by University of California Professor John Matsusaka found that Initiative states are taxed 4% below the national average. Matsusaka also found during the 1930s, when the public had a greater interest in more government spending than did legislators, that Initiative states accelerated spending more rapidly than did non-Initiative states. Legislators are often out-of-sync with the people and petitions universally accelerate the democratic process, correcting the disparity.

Citizens take their voting franchise seriously. Exit polls regularly find that voters are more informed on most issues than they are on most candidates. Attempts to ascertain voter drop-off patterns are ineffective, because voters rationally skip issues they are uncertain about and seek out those issues they care about. States, like Wyoming and Minnesota, that count abstain votes (skipped votes) as something other than an “abstain,” misrepresent and distort the intent of voters.

Professors Caroline Tolbert, Daniel A. Smith, and John Gummel released new research that reverses a commonly held misperception. “The Effects of Ballot Initiatives on Voter Turnout in the American States” concluded that voter turnout was higher in Initiative states than non-Initiative states in every Presidential election and in every midterm election from 1960 through 1996. Initiatives appear to universally augment voter interest in elections.

HOW DOES MONEY INFLUENCE THE PROCESS?
Professor Anne G. Campbell has focused her research on the influence that money has on the outcome of issue elections. In a January 1999 paper, “The Effect of Campaign Spending on Initiative Campaigns,” Campbell concluded, “while overwhelming spending in opposition to a ballot measure can buy the defeat of initiatives, money has been singularly ineffective at buying the passage of initiatives.” This makes use of the process by narrowly defined special interests nearly impossible, unlike the legislative process.

The 1976 Colorado election was historic. Alarmed at the growth in the number of
Initiative petitions, opposition groups rallied to put a stop to it. Professor John S. Shockley tabulated that opposition spending exceeded proponent spending by over 10:1 on all issues combined. The opposition groups subsequently passed several laws restricting the petition process, several of which have since been stricken as unconstitutional. In 1996 when petition defenders attempted to protect petitions from continuing attacks by the General Assembly with the Petition Rights Amendment, opponents raised over a million dollars to perpetrate false campaign claims and defeat the measure.

In her new book, “The Populist Paradox,” Professor Elisabeth Gerber neutralized left-right ideological issue bias by aggregating all ballot measures in eight states over the period 1988 through 1992. Gerber found that 61 percent of all money spent in Initiative campaigns appeared on the opposition side. Gerber further found that 74 percent of opposition funding came from economic, professional, and business interests, the very same groups that are highly organized and well funded to affect favored outcomes at the state capitols. Regarding referred measure campaigns, Gerber further discovered that 70 percent of the funds came from the same groups who opposed initiatives and that 98 percent supported the measures drafted in the state legislature.

As measured by their spending, it can be concluded that those who work the Capitol like referred measures, but do not like Initiatives.

WHEN IS GOVERNMENT INTRUSION PERMISSIBLE?
The decade-ago collapse of Communism reminds us that political change comes in only two possible forms: violent and nonviolent. Though more lives would have been lost had Soviet troops been willing to fire on unarmed civilians, the transformation of Eastern European countries could have been less violent. Fewer lives might have been lost if the system had been open to continuous, gradual, peaceful change. However, it is not the nature of totalitarian systems to be open. Systems of democratic government, on the other hand, should be different.

But even in a democracy it is unrealistic to expect the status quo to reform itself out of existence whenever the need arises. The Initiative petition was invented as a pressure release valve to implement structural changes to the system peacefully. The Progressives used the petition as their tool to advance the remainder of their structural reform agenda (a partial list of their reforms is provided in the Special Interests section above). Term limits, tax limits, and campaign spending limits are current examples of structural changes that would be impossible without the petition.

In the Insubordinate Legislators section the view of the Court was mentioned: reasonable regulations to facilitate and augment the process far permissible; restrictions are not. When governments regulate petitions, they find themselves in an awkward position, at best.

Non-mandatory advice from government and other experts is desirable. Intrusion occurs whenever a government is in a position to exercise veto or approval power over a Petition. Some commonly observed intrusion points are: drafting of the scope, drafting the title, drafting a summary, estimating fiscal impact, determination of single subject, determination of Constitutionality, approval of petition format, drafting of voter information guides, and the counting and validation of signatures. Space does not permit discussion of each of these potential abuse points. Most people involved for the government are astutely aware of the inherent problems and work painstakingly in pursuit of fairness and objectivity. Unfortunately not all people are able to hold their personal biases in check. Minor rhetorical variations that might have devastatingly fatal consequences to a campaign or to the ultimate meaning of a proposal should be made only by the proponents. Anything otherwise, jeopardizes altogether the fundamental idea of the Initiative petition.

The rationale for intrusion is to protect voters from abuse and manipulation by overzealous proponents. This concern fails the logic test. It pre-supposes that someone is better able to screen for the truth and to objectively recast the message for public consumption. It also assumes that the election mechanism itself is an inadequate check against manipulation and deceit. These are both false, at least most of the time. But even if they were true, both thoughts are fundamentally undemocratic and bring to mind the famous Thomas Jefferson quote, “Men by their makeup are naturally divided into two camps; those who fear and distrust the people and wish to draw all powers from them into the hands of the higher classes, and those who identify themselves with the people, have confidence in them, cherish and consider them the safest and most honest, if not always the wisest, repository of the public interests. These two camps exists in every country, and, whenever men are free to think, speak, and write, they will identify themselves.”

There should be no doubt that an increasingly restrictive and closed petition process increases the risk of violence in America. Abraham Lincoln once advocated a national Referendum to reconcile the slavery issue. It is impossible to known whether the Referendum might have been effective in avoiding the Civil War, saving hundreds of thousands of American lives and immeasurable human suffering. But we do known the result without the Referendum and one cannot help but wonder, what would have been lost to have tried?

WHAT IS A CONSTITUTION?
A constitution is a written document of the people. It is the means by which the people agree to come together and operate as a civilized society. In so doing they define the structure of their government, establish separation and balance of powers between branches, and create limits. Clearly the entities created by the constitution are subordinate to it and may take no unilateral action to modify the constitution or to otherwise change its meaning. Such actions by any branch are grossly insubordinate and subvert the constitution, the process by which the government was created, the notion of sovereignty and the foundations for democracy. Only the sovereign people may make such changes.

“Natural” rights, sometimes called individual rights or fundamental rights, because they exist naturally, cannot be given or taken away by action of government. They should be itemized in the constitution in an un-amendable form. The primary reason for governments to exist is to protect and defend all “natural” rights for all of the people. Although a listing of “Natural” rights cannot be all-inclusive, the listing is important to facilitate their aggressive defense.

If the branches of government are separate and equal, then none is superior to the other. Thus, no branch is empowered to overrule another, when they are in dispute. A viable constitution must provide a means of reconciling such disputes. Disputes that cannot be resolved, probably necessitate action by the sovereign people.

Because the people may wish to modify either the structure of their government or the limits, a functional amendment process must be an integral part of any viable constitution.

A constitution for democratic government must:
1. Offer a list of “Natural” rights.
2. Establish the structure of government, including separation and balance of powers.
3. Define governmental limitations.
4. Include a method of reconciling disputes between the branches.
5. Provide a functional method of constitutional amendment.

A constitution that lacks one or more of these elements, may serve to provide civil society for a period of time. But lacking a key element, a constitution will eventually become dysfunctional and destructive to society. Once this occurs it may be necessary for it to be totally abandoned or replaced.

DYSFUNCTIONAL CONSTITUTIONS
The U.S. Constitution lacks a viable amendment process. Three quarters of the states must ratify proposed amendments. The problem is the source of proposed amendments. The founders anticipated that most proposed amendments would come from the states. But because Congress is in a position to block state-proposed amendments, no conflict of interest issues are addressed and governmental structure questions are rarely addressed. No state-proposed amendments have ever been released for ratification. Of those proposed by Congress, there have been over 10,000 introduced, of which 33 have been released for ratification and 27 have been ratified. Of the 27, numbers one through 10 plus 27 were drafted by James Madison as the Bill of Rights. Only a few (12,19 & 22) of the remaining 16 deal with change in the structure of government.

Forty-nine states have made 399 applications for a Constitutional Convention. Yet Congress stonewalls both efforts to convene a convention or to develop systems that might make a convention unnecessary. Congress’ thirst for power may make it the most tyrannical, undemocratic institution in America. Thomas Paine wrote as though he know the Congress of today, “Men who look upon themselves as born to reign, and others to obey, soon grow insolent; selected from the rest of mankind their minds are early poisoned by importance; and the world they act in differs so materially from the world at large, that they have but little opportunity of knowing its true interests … ”

The Confederate Constitution corrected some dysfunctional parts. It prohibited omnibus bills, required a supermajority vote for appropriations, and removed from the control of Congress the process of proposing amendments, requiring that 25% of the states concur on a proposal to release it for ratification.

Legislators that work to subvert the petition process in I&R states are insubordinate. Are Legislators in non-I&R states any less insubordinate? Hardly! Their arrogance and contempt for democracy is shocking. Evidently they believe that the state constitutional flaw that fails to provide a viable amendment mechanism somehow empowers them to deny the people’s will when they so choose. Legislators in non-I&R states are obliged to bring important issues before the people for their consideration, including the state constitutional amendment process itself. In 1906 the people of Delaware voted in favor of I&R with 89.1%. With this mandate the people have been patiently waiting for over 94 years for their honest and responsible representatives to implement the process.

The words of the Founders are often relevant today. In his 1776 book Common Sense Thomas Paine wrote, “We may be as effectively enslaved by the want of laws in America, as by submitting to laws made for us …”

SUMMARY
1. Magna Carta established that government must be limited.
2. John Locke reasoned that the purpose of government is to protect the “natural” rights of individuals.
3. The American colonies put the ideas of self-government and people-sovereignty into practice.
4. The ideas of democratic theory properly replicate those commonly exercise in management theory.
5. Attacks on the petitioner process by elected officials are acts of insubordination, were worse.
6. Petitions typically represent issues impossible for legislators to resolve.
7. Special interest groups find the petitioner process less friendly than legislation by elected officials.
8. The most commonly heard complaints about petitions are simply not true.
9. Less than one in 1,000 of our laws is the result of a petition.
10. A middle ground is preferable between absolute Direct Democracy and absolute Indirect Democracy.
11. Petitions help elected representatives to be more responsive and democratic.
12. Petitions increase voter turnout.
13. Voters are better informed on issues than they are about most candidates
14. Money is used most substantially by opponents to defeat petitions.
15. Government involvement in the petitioner process should be advisory only.
16. A Constitution is the people’s tool for defining and limiting their government.
17. A Constitution is dysfunctional when it lacks one of five major features.
18. Elected officials who refuse to correct dysfunctional Constitutional features are as insubordinate as those who seek to destroy the Constitution.

CONCLUSION
In all of human existence, life was mostly dictated by brutes. The comparatively recent invention of democracy has proven effective. Both human rights and economic freedoms have never been greater and are greatest where democratic processes are most evolved. The capacity of democracy to redefine itself is one of its most important aspects. Every time that democracy’s meaning has been questioned, the former definition was discovered to be too limited.

The U.S. may have suffered its darkest hour extending freedom to all races. But America’s largest war was insufficient to reconcile gender voting rights. This natural extension of democracy took another 48 years to achieve. But these, along with the civil rights movement of the 1960s, are only the best-known examples. Didn’t the Bill of Rights enlarge democracy? And the 12th Amendment that took selection of the President away from Congress? And what about the 19th Amendment that made U.S. Senators elective? And the 22nd Amendment that imposed term limits on the President? And didn’t many of the Progressives’ issues help to expand democracy: secret ballots, primary elections, voter registration, home rule, no straight party ballot, recall petitions, and Initiative and Referendum petitions?

Only by actions of tyrants has democracy been temporarily rolled back. There are no examples in the world were democracy was first enlarged and subsequently rescinded by democratic action. A recent poll revealed that petitions were popular among people in every state, but were most popular in those states with the Initiative and Referendum.

The long journey for democracy that began with the Magna Carta is far from finished. Though its future form may be unclear today, we can be certain that democracy will increase and that Initiative and Referendum will play a role in determining future democratic systems.

Force of Finance: Triumph of the Capital Markets

Force of Finance: Triumph of the Capital Markets

“The Force of Finance: Triumph of the Capital Markets” by Reuven Brenner, Stoddart Publishing Co. Limited, Toronto, 2002 and Texere Publishing London & New York, challenges unsupported conventional thinking in many areas including economics, finance, capital markets, prosperity, freedom and democracy.

“Prosperity is the consequence of one thing and one only: matching talent with capital, and holding both sides accountable,” as illustrated by the economic successes of 17th century Netherlands and the modern Asian Tigers. Brenner warns of the injury caused by public policies of confiscation and unproductive regulations, but reports, “for the moment, the U.S. alone has the fundamentals right.”

Chapter 2 considers the relationship between capital markets and democracy and elaborates extensively about the 1997 observations of Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., “democracy requires capitalism, but capitalism does not require democracy.” More simply stated capitalism thrives where democracy cannot. The legal recognition of private property, open capital markets and dispersion of political power augment both democracy and capitalism. More than any other single factor, “low taxes” bring “economic miracles.”

Brenner calls macroeconomics the “twentieth-century pseudo-science” because it is built on the false Keynsian view that governments can or should manipulate economic outcomes.

In Chapter 4 Brenner points out that “voting rights were not much of an obstacle to governments intent on doing harm.” Thus, Brenner reasons that democracy and capitalism are safer when politicians possess less, rather than more, power: “referenda significantly diminish the power of politicians and bureaucrats.” Experimentation with political change and tools of citizen involvement was truncated and stalled by the Great Wars, the Depression, and the Cold War; but now the time is ripe for renewed interest in reforms, which should be cause for optimism.

Chapter 7, titled “Extracting Sunbeams out of Cucumbers,” explores how “ideas that have no foundation gain scientific status.” For decades economists have used the lighthouse analogy to advocate government intrusion. If government did not provide lighthouses, then there would be none. However, private-sector lighthouses existed for centuries. How could so many great minds get this fact wrong? Ronald Coarse published the historical correction in 1974, but the false analogy continues to appear in new textbooks. Students “arrive at the intended but utterly misleading conclusion. The frequently repeated idea thus passes for fact.” “Students are not being taught science; instead, they are being taught obscure linguistic exercises masquerading as science.” “Matching ideas to real-world events is the meaning of being scientific. It is unscientific to either ignore or reject discovered patterns.” The non-science of the social sciences and humanities hide in a maze of obscure rhetoric designed to bar critical review by outsiders and to ridicule innovators as lacking understanding. “Aesop was right: Obscurity often brings safety.” It is the conformist who survives. “Followers are taught to be blind.” Chinese inventiveness ceased when state power increased; it always does.

That so many politicians and economist were attracted to Keynesian views is simply evidence that people respond to incentives. The opportunity for bigger and more intrusive government benefited both groups irrespective of whether the ideas had merit.

“Precedents are incorporated into behavior and institutions, and often outlive the circumstances that created them.” “Prosperity requires people to abandon old industries and old ways of doing things, and bet on new ones and new ways.”

“Backward-looking societies stay poor.” “Stable currency does not guarantee prosperity” … but “it is a necessary part.” “Out-of-the way Iceland, Australia, and New Zealand are all prosperous and technologically up to date. They are not close to either big markets or principal sea routes. … they have open capital markets.”

“In the absence of democratized capital markets, “freedom” is an empty word.” “With open markets the poor can move up.” “Limiting access to capital markets is the means by which groups can stay in power.” “Indeed, the democratization of financial markets and the adoption of the institutions of direct democracy are, the keys to lasting prosperity.”

“The United States has its share of bad laws, outdated regulations, complex taxes, and controls inherited from the past, many of these are still unquestioned.”

“… as a condition of receiving Western capital, countries should open up their financial markets.” Brenner predicts, “If Putin carries out his promise to impose a 13 % flat tax … Russia will soon prosper, attracting critical masses of talent and capital, reducing corruption, and leapfrogging over many other countries.”

In short “The Force of Finance” offers a comprehensive vision for freedom not yet appreciated by many leaders. All peoples will benefit when economic and political freedoms are enlarged. The key is the opening of and access to financial markets and the dispersion of political power, which tends more to interfere with, rather than facilitate, open financial markets. The sooner people gain the courage to confront and change archaic regulatory and political institutions the sooner people will benefit from increased wealth and freedom.

“The Force of Finance” is recommended reading for those interested in deeper understanding of the interdependency of economic and democratic freedoms.

Opinion Editorial

By Dennis Polhill

RTD’s FasTracks boondoggle is about much more than wasting billions of taxpayer dollars and the implementation of destructive policies. It is about increasing government control over people and redistribution of wealth. The damage caused by similar authoritarian policies has resulted in death and impoverishment for millions.

Philosopher Thomas Sowell notes, “…(leftists)… love to say things like, ‘We’re just asking everyone to pay their fair share.’ But government is not about asking. It is about telling. The difference is fundamental. It is the difference between making love and being raped, between working for a living and being a slave.” Joseph Sobran adds, “Today, wanting someone else’s money is called ‘need,’ wanting to keep your own money is called ‘greed,’ and ‘compassion’ is when politicians arrange the transfer.” Using words to mean other-than-their-meaning is demagoguery and serves to muddle the search for truth. Demagogues resort to spin when facts fail to support their biases. Coercive charity is not charity; it is Taliban-style tyranny. Morality has no merit when force replaces “free will.”

Socialism in all its forms is a failed philosophy. After Marx authored the Communist Manifesto in 1848, civilization was drawn hypnotically to Socialisms’ seductive false promises of plenty: “from each according to his ability; to each according to his need.” Abraham Lincoln countered with yet-to-be-proven wisdom, “the poor cannot be made rich by making the rich poor.” But Lincoln’s assertion was hypothetical and lacked empirical evidence that would eventually follow. All of the world’s nations gravitated to Socialism over the subsequent century. Because the United States drifted more slowly, it became an island of wealth and prosperity; an aberration to the abject poverty that humans had suffered in perpetuity.

Had Lenin lived, the twentieth century might have ended differently. Only 5 years after the Russian Revolution he recognized Socialism’s failings and advocated a return to “limited capitalism.” Later that year a stroke denied Lenin the opportunity to act on his revelation.

Lenin’s successor lacked the courage and strength to avert peril. Socialism requires conformity. Stalin dealt with the nonconformists. In “Poisonous Power,” psychologist June Stephenson estimates that Stalin was responsible for 50 million deaths.

Another version of Socialism surfaced with Adolf Hitler’s, National Socialism. He said, “Let them own land and factories as much as they please. The decisive factor is that the State is supreme over them regardless of whether they are owners or workers. All that is unessential; our socialism goes far deeper. It establishes a relationship of the individual to the State, the national community. Why need we trouble to socialize banks and factories? We socialize human beings.”

Hitler’s preaching motivated fellow-Austrian and economics professor, Friedrich Hayek to confronted Socialist dogma in “Road to Serfdom.” Hayek pointed out that all forms of Socialism lead to authoritarian tyranny. Hayek elaborated, “Whoever talks about potential plenty (under socialism) is either dishonest or does not know what he is talking about. Yet it is this false hope as much as anything, which drives us along the road to planning.”

The second half of the twentieth century ratified the views of Lincoln, Lenin and Hayek. Korea and Germany serve as indisputable proof. In each case a pre-existing nation was divided with each part pursuing the opposite ideological path. With identical history, geography, culture, climate, customs, language, and ethnicity, Socialism resulted in every form of injury and imposition upon the respective populations; conversely Capitalism resulted in wealth, abundance, freedom and opportunity. Other examples provide corroboration: Eastern versus Western Europe; Red China versus the Asian Tigers; and the Post-Soviet-Union performance of its various pieces. Not a single feature of Socialism can be offered as superior. Therefore, discussions about a middle ground, or trade-offs, or optimizing, are rather futile.

The experience of the twentieth century proves that no version of Socialism works. Ongoing experimentation serves no constructive purpose. Because a mixture that is half-poison and half non-poison is still poison, there is no yet-to-be-discovered third way. A hybrid system that is part Socialism and part Capitalism cannot save this failed ideology. Alternative labels, such as “progressive” or “liberal” merely distract bystanders from gaining understanding.

The significant wealth in American society works to hide the injury done by Socialist institutions, such as RTD. Competition can and will improve regulatory-protected, tax-subsidized, State-controlled monopolies in education, transportation, and Social Security. When these institutions are de-socialized, decentralized and de-bureaucratized, Americans will be freer, wealthier and better served.

The future is clearly in the direction away from Socialism and toward more individual freedom and more individual empowerment.

(c)2004
The Independence Institute
13952 Denver West Parkway, Suite 400
Golden, CO 80401
303-279-6536
www.independenceinstitute.org

INDEPENDENCE INSTITUTE is a non-profit, non-partisan Colorado think tank. It is governed by a statewide board of trustees and holds a 501(c)(3) tax exemption from the IRS. Its public policy research focuses on economic growth, education reform, local government effectiveness, and Constitutional rights.

JON CALDARA is the President of the Independence Institute.

DENNIS POLHILL is a Senior Fellow at the Independence Institute.

NOTHING WRITTEN here is to be construed as necessarily representing the views of the Independence Institute
or as an attempt to influence any election or legislative action.

PERMISSION TO REPRINT this paper in whole or in part is hereby granted provided full credit is given to the Independence Institute.

Opinion Editorial

By Dennis Polhill, Tiffany Dovey

Anyone who’s ever had the misfortune of traveling on I-25, or rather, of
sitting in the parking lot otherwise known as Interstate-25, knows that as
you head from downtown to the Tech Center things go from bad to worse.
T-REX will add capacity. But, will the improvements increase mobility?

Before T-REX, three traffic lanes in each direction served I-25 through
the Tech Center. T-REX improvements add one traffic lane and light rail in
each direction for $1.7 billion. The November 1999 election authorized
rail on the condition that at least 60% of the cost be borne by the
Federal government. The highway portion is financed by debt called
Transportation Revenue Anticipation Notes (TRANS). By exhausting future
revenues for immediate projects, Colorado’s ability to address future
transportation needs has been hampered.

Will Tyrannosaurus Rex, the dinosaur predator, gobble up gridlock or feast
on taxpayers?

Colorado’s Highway Users Tax Fund gets 22 cents per gallon of gasoline to
finance the state’s 85,412 roadway miles. Another 18.4 cents goes to the
Federal government to finance Interstate highway construction. Since
completion of construction over a decade ago, Congress has used the funds
for items increasingly unrelated to the stated purpose. The remainder,
about 62%, eventually finds its way back to Colorado, but with strings.
Penalties are assigned for failure to adhere to Federal mandates, like the
$50,000,000 against Colorado for not lowering DUI blood alcohol limits to
0.08 percent.

Fuel economy and diversion of funds to projects that do not significantly
enhance mobility increasingly erode the ability of the gasoline tax to
finance transportation. HUTF strength will probably diminish by one-half
to three-quarters over the next 20 years. Politicians who advocate
comparable increases will quickly be out of office. What to do?

Is there an alternative to tax increases? Gas tax dependence should be
phased out and replaced with a better, more market-oriented user fee:
tolls. Because construction of the interstate system is finished, enormous
resource transfers between states is unneeded. The Federal gas tax can be
quickly and significantly reduced or reassigned to the states.

Rush hour traffic jams prove that the system has more value at some times
and flat rate tolls are inadequate. Variable rate tolls are effective at
allocating the scarce resource of available capacity. Before T-REX,
traffic counts show that 43% of the capacity was unused. The most
congested road in Colorado could have served nearly twice as many
vehicles. Adding one lane to three lanes increases capacity by 33%.
Because most light rail users are former bus riders, light rail does not
significantly help congestion. Given that I-25 traffic increases 2.6
percent per annum, growth will consume most of the new capacity before
T-REX opens.

How can variable tolls help? By making the new lane a restricted lane it
can be shared by high occupancy vehicles (HOV), bus rapid transit (BRT)
and others willing to pay a toll (thus, the term “high occupancy toll” or
HOT lane). As demand on the system changes, a variable toll rate is
displayed on a message board, allowing drivers to weigh the urgency of
their travel against the current toll. Varying the toll with demand,
insures that the road never becomes congested.

Tolls are a better user-fee than the gas tax because individuals
experience the cost for service at the time benefits are delivered. Under
the collectivist gasoline tax users who consume more of the system gain
disproportionate benefits at the expense of others. This phenomenon, known
as the “tragedy of the commons,” is avoided with variable tolls.

“Let Those Who Receive the Benefits Pay the Costs,” Independence Institute
Issue Paper 13-99 by Stephen R. Mueller and Dennis Polhill exhaustively
evaluated 22 possible configurations for I-25. The scenario being
constructed in T-REX would generate about $600 million after operating
expenses, if the new lane were a HOT lane.

By using the power of the market, congestion-free, free-flow travel is
also available to both carpoolers and single occupant drivers.

So, what are the options? Colorado can either proceed accepting that the
corridor will soon return to gridlock, or the new lane can be changed to a
restricted lane before it is opened. The restricted lane insures that
corridor users benefit because they will forever have a free-flow travel
option; Colorado gains a windfall of millions of dollars; and the corridor
benefits by moving more people more efficiently. Only in the political
world could this decision be tough.

Is the political control of transportation more important than allowing
users choice and providing higher service at lower cost?

###
Copyright 2003 The Independence Institute

INDEPENDENCE INSTITUTE is a non-profit, non-partisan Colorado think tank.
It is governed by a statewide board of trustees and holds a 501(c)(3) tax
exemption from the IRS. Its public policy research focuses on economic
growth, education reform, local government effectiveness, and
Constitutional rights.

JON CALDARA is President of the Institute.

Dennis Polhill is a Senior Fellow at the Independence Institute. Tiffany
Dovey is a graduate of the University of Washington and a summer intern at
the Independence Institute. This opinion editorial is a summary of a more
extensive discussion in Issue Backgrounder, soon to be posted on our
website IndependenceInstitute.org.

NOTHING WRITTEN here is to be construed as necessarily representing the
views of the Independence Institute or as an attempt to influence any
election or legislative action.

PERMISSION TO REPRINT this paper in whole or in part is hereby granted
provided full credit is given to the Independence Institute.

Dennis Polhill was a member of the Washington DC-based Initiative & Referendum Institute’s Election Monitoring Team, which gave freely of their time in order to participate in this historic Somaliland National Referendum election.

I. Introduction

The Initiative and Referendum Institute (the Institute), an international non-profit organization based in Washington, D.C., observed the May 31, 2001 referendum in Somaliland, which unilaterally declared independence from Somalia in 1991. The borders of the country are the same as those of the British Protectorate of Somaliland that gained independence in 1960, when it united with the previously Italian Somalia later that same year. The referendum was called by the Parliament of Somaliland to ratify the constitution that was initially adopted in February 1997. At the invitation of the Somaliland government – with assistance from members of the Somaliland Diaspora organization known as the Somaliland Forum – the Institute observed the pre-polling, polling, ballot counting, and related political activities from May 28th to June 7th 2001.

The ten-person Institute delegation consisted of eight delegates from the United States, one from Britain and one from Switzerland. The delegation leader in Washington was Dane Waters, president and founder of the Institute, and the delegation leader in Somaliland was Dennis Polhill, chairman of the board. The Somaliland National Referendum Committee and the Somaliland Forum briefed the Institute delegation about election procedures, the constitution, and the background and history of the referendum. Upon arriving in Somaliland, the Institute delegation met and coordinated observation activities with a group of observers from South Africa. The Institute delegation observed 57 different polling stations in five of Somaliland’s six regions.

It is important to note the limitations of this report. With 600 polling stations in Somaliland, the Institute delegation made their best effort to get a truly representative sampling with only ten observers. In addition, the Somaliland government provided all transportation and translators. Although the observers generally agreed that genuine and sincere efforts were made to give us access to the polling stations the Institute wished to observe, and that our guides seemed to be giving us honest and accurate translations and explanations of events, our observations were nonetheless restricted by the circumstances. The Institute chose not to send any observers to the Sool region, which borders the breakaway Puntland region that is attempting to achieve an autonomous status within Somalia (Puntland claims some areas of Sool and Sanaag as part of its territory). The Sool region was considered to be the most volatile region of Somaliland with opposition to the referendum, and the most isolated and farthest away from the safety of the capital of Hargeisa. Similarly, in the Sanaag region where there was also some opposition, the Institute sent only one observer. Because of poor or non-existent transportation options, observers could not be sent to the more remote polling stations, which served many of the country’s nomadic and rural people. This report takes no position on Somaliland’s constitution, its independence, or its desire for international recognition. The job was simply to witness and view the referendum, and report on the conduct of the referendum, and whether and how it adhered to the legal procedures established for the referendum.

To develop a fuller understanding of the country and people, the Institute delegation met together and individually with scores of government officials, including President Egal, members of the Somaliland National Referendum Committee, the Speaker of the Somaliland House of Representatives, representatives from the Ministry of Information and the Ministry of the Interior, the Foreign Minister, various cabinet officials, the regional governors, and mayors. The delegation also met with business leaders, health community members, representatives of the local and international press, and members of non-governmental organizations providing international aid to Somaliland. The Institute delegation received an English translation of the constitution as well as primers on the history and economy of Somaliland.

Most people in the central and western districts, which are dominated by the majority Isaaq clan, were passionately in favor of the referendum. A “Yes” vote to the constitution was widely perceived as an endorsement of Somaliland’s independence and a rejection of rule from Mogadishu and Somalia. There was also widespread common sentiment that a “Yes” vote would send a message to the world that Somaliland deserved to be recognized. There was, however, political opposition to the referendum in some areas. This limited opposition appeared to be based more on a rejection of the current administration than on a rejection of the notion of an independent Somaliland. In the Sool and Sanaag regions in the east, which are heavily populated by clans other than Isaaq, some do not recognize the independence of Somaliland from Somalia and continue to consider themselves part of a larger Somalia.

While all members of the Institute delegation volunteered and donated their time for this two-week endeavor without compensation – many using their own vacation time – the Somaliland Forum paid for coach-class airfare from the United States and Europe, and paid for all food and lodging expenses while the delegation was in Somaliland.

Again, it is important to reiterate that this report seeks to give an objective, analytical and critical commentary on the referendum and how it was administered, without supporting or opposing Somaliland’s move for independence, its quest for international recognition, or the content of its proposed constitution.

Entire Report – Somaliland National Referendum: Final Report of the Initiative & Referendum Institute’s Election Monitoring Team (PDF)

Colorado Engineering Magazine, March and April 1990

A Soviet Journey

Editor’s Note: This is the first of two parts. The second will appear in the April 1 1990 issue.
by Dennis Polhill, P.E.

The American Public Works Association (APWA) extended to me the exciting privilege of being part of a trip to the Soviet Union. The trip, organized cooperatively by The People To People Program and APWA was from October 9-23, 1989. The invitation to APWA’s Public Works Technical Group was extended by the Soviet Union and was the first visit of a public works delegation to that country.

Our delegation was headed by Ron Jensen, Director of Public Works in Phoenix Arizona and APWA National Vice President. The group consisted of 45 professionals, nine spouses, two People To People staffers, two full time interpreters and a changing number of part time interpreters and local guides. Members from the United States and Canada represented a full scope of public works technical specialties. Although few members of the delegation had meet previously, we quickly formed into a cohesive and focused team which worked effectively in responding to many challenges we faced throughout the trip.

We visited Moscow, Pyatigorsk, Stavropol, Minsk, Leningrad and Helsinki, Finland. Our reception by the Soviets was outstanding. Perhaps they were expecting guests on closer terms with George Bush.

Since we were the first public works group from North America to visit the country, and partially due to the structures of Soviet government, many of our meetings were with highly placed government officials. They were exceedingly gracious, polite and generous with candies, pins, papers and alcohol. I rapidly learned the correct way to kick off a party, which lends someexplanation to the high rate of alcoholism in the USSR.

People we met were genuinely friendly, open and curious. Whenever I managed to be alone with a group of Russians, I was treated with high regard. Being a novelty is very good for the ego.

However, technical presentations were arduously slow and basic due to the interpreting delays and the need to build a base of common understanding. As with our technical sessions back home, the most useful information was transferred in small group round table question and answer sessions.

On our second day in Minsk, technical meetings with Soviet road managers were held. After lengthy introductory comments, the Soviets shared numerous technologies that were new to us. Among them were bridge-bearing devices, soil stabilization, concrete curing and concrete sealing. Additional effort will be required to investigate the feasibility of introducing these technologies to the United States and Canada.

During this meeting along with a representative of the Washington Chapter of APWA, I took the liberty of inviting the Soviet Technical Road Delegation to Washington and Colorado in April 1990. The Soviets accepted. Coincidentally, while in Minsk, we met a trade delegation from Colorado lead by Secretary of State, Natalie Meyer. A small group from each delegation participated in a joint press conference for the local media, in which I participated.

Travel and Accommodations

Intourist is a Soviet owned enterprise that handles accommodations for Western visitors. Thus hotels, buses, interpreters and other services were all provided by Intourist. In as far as it is possible this service provides Western style services for foreign visitors. Although accommodations were second rate by our standards, they were the best available in the Soviet Union.

Soviet hotel rooms have single beds with a single quilt like blanket which is covered by two sheets which are sewn together. Pillows are oversized, square and feather filled. Our rooms in Moscow had both mice and insects, while only insects prevailed in other cities. As top of the line hotel rooms, all had television, some color, some black and white, and some out of order. Programming by Western standards is second rate and poorly produced. I discovered it was not uncommon for a director to switch cameramen while one was napping.

There are six television stations in Moscow and three in Minsk. All, with few exceptions, sign off early in the evening and return to the air late morning. With a vocabulary of only 22 Russian words, it was impossible to understand the news.

A telephone call from Moscow to the United States costs $12.00 per minute and requires an appointment. In advance you have to decide when to call and how long your call will take. If operators are called for an appointment and do not speak English, they will hang up on you. We found that in such cases, it was best to enlist the help of babuskas which inhabit a desk on every floor in hotels, primarily to collect the keys of their guests when they quit their rooms.

My first call was scheduled at 11:00 p.m., or 2:00 p.m. in Denver. From this time, until midnight I had to wait for the call to go through. With no provided reason, it did not. Confronting the babuskas at 5:00 a.m. (who was asleep) I was told that all lines out of the hotel were busy and to try again. I got through to my wife at 6:00 a.m. Russian time.

Mealtimes were also different by Western standards. Breakfast is at 8:00 a.m., lunch (dinner) at 2:00 p.m., and supper generally at 9:00 p.m. Most of the food items were high fat and high cholesterol. Breakfast is bread, cheese, salami and eggs. Lunch typically is borscht (beet) or cabbage soup, bread, cheese, salami, raw or smoked fish, peas, fried potatoes, chicken, ham or beef. Supper, generally the same as lunch varied only in that vodka or cognac was served.

Bottled mineral water, banana soda, and at times a fruit punch beverage, were available. Coffee or tea (cha) was available after meals. Food was always cold, cold drinks were warm, hot drinks cold, and petrified sugar cubes refused to dissolve. Regular water (voda) and ice were a rarity. Due partially to service and custom, lunch and supper can take two hours. Dessert was always a vanilla ice cream more like a frozen yogurt. At a dinner in Moscow, mice were seen on the floor of the restaurant.

Generally, sanitary conditions were poor. Besides rodents and insects, the restaurant restrooms were co-educational and better described as pit stops. Many toilets were the no seat, squat variety. Toilet paper was at times issued by attendants, at times non-existent, and on most occasions appropriate for use in a woodworking shop.

The USSR and Its Government

With over eight million square miles, the Soviet Union is the largest country on earth. Only China and India have more inhabitants than the USSR’s 280 million. The country is composed of 15 republics. Fourteen are Soviet Socialist Republics (SSR’s), and the largest, Russia, is a Soviet Federated Socialist Republic (SFSR). The other republics are Armenian, Azerbaijan, Byelorussian (White Russian), Estonian, Georgian, Kazakh, Kirgiz, Latvian, Lithuanian, Moldavian, Turkman, Tadzhik, Ukranian and Uzbek SSR’s. These republics are broken into regions (oblasts), kroys (territories), autonomous republics or autonomous oblasts, of which there are 153.

Each republic has its own parliament, language, constitution and flag. According to the Soviet Constitution, each has the freedom to leave the union at any time. Estonia and Lithuania are currently testing the truth of the document. Our itinerary originally called for three days in Tallin the capital of Estonia, but this portion of the trip was cancelled without explanation.

Six percent of the population are members of the Communist Party. Historically, to be elected to any government position, one had to be a party member. Yet within the last two years, the names of non-party members have appeared on ballots and many have been elected. While the Communist Party is assured of a certain number of seats, it is probable that in the next election, non-party members will take a majority.

Nationally, the republics are represented in Moscow by the Supreme Soviet, much like our Senate and the Congress of People’s Deputies (the Soviet of the Union). Together these governing bodies have 1,499 members, as versus 535 in our House and Senate. As in the United States the words “government bureaucracy” prompt cynical and negative reactions. The Soviets suffer even more than we do from big government.

Perestroika and glasnost are starting to change the face of the country. Even Stalin, once seen as the father of the nation is now seen as a criminal and murderer. Five years ago it was dangerous to make such a statement to foreign visitors. While the two world wars cost the Soviets 27 million lives, Stalin is reported to have eliminated as many as ten million individuals, including intellectuals and divergent officials to consolidate and maintain his power. People still vividly recall the world wars. During WWII over 25% of the population in White Russia located between Poland and Russia SFSR was lost in over 1,000 concentration camps.

Highlights and Of Note

I found that many Soviets were reluctant to have their pictures taken. This may be a carry over from the paranoia of the Stalinist era. One night on an all night train journey from Minsk to Leningrad I spend two hours talking with Russians. Victor, a 25 year old agricultural engineer, struggled to be the interpreter. Eight to 12 people listened in to the discussion while I sat next to a 43 year old ship builder and his wife. Senior citizens who lived through Stalin and World War Two were noticeably suspicious of this session. As foreign guests we had sleeping berths on the 700 mile journey. Meanwhile, most locals sat up all night on benches with no padding and straight backs.

Also of note was a visit to Pyatrigosk, a resort city in the extreme south of the Russian SFSR. On the border with Georgia and near the Caucasus Mountains, Mt. Elbrus was visible. At 18,481 feet, this highest point in the range is where Noah’s Ark came to rest according to the Bible. The Caucasian race is believed to have originated in these mountains, giving origin to the name.

In Pyatigorsk we had an excellent day of technical discussions, then journeyed to Kishlavorsk, a source of natural mineral water that is believed to have curing properties. I tried it to be on the safe side. Part of the APWA delegation took a three hour bus trip to Stavropol. The city is located in the center of the district where Mikhail Gorbachev began his rise to power. Ours was the first delegation of any type to visit the city.

We were accompanied constantly by a high ranking dignitary, had two buffets within two hours, and were asked to participate in several cognac toasts. Each member of the delegation also received a bouquet of red roses. We drove by the buildings where Gorbachev lived and worked.

The only snow we encountered on the trip was the flight over Greenland. Everyone was surprised to hear of Denver’s snow storm on September 12th which prompted my chamber of commerce speech. I had an ongoing debate throughout the trip with the delegates from Washington as to who lived in the most beautiful state.

In general, the weather was partly cloudy or it was raining with only Colorado-style blue sky days four or five days. During a typical Moscow winter, temperatures will stay below zero for days on end.

To return to the Western world we had to pass through three Soviet and one Finnish check points. Two were superficial, apparently to look for anyone or anything that was only obviously out of the ordinary. The third check was more thorough and all luggage passed through x-ray machines. Three members of our party were randomly selected for detailed physical inspection of luggage. All passports were checked and visas confiscated. One member who had traded some of his clothing for an obvious Soviet Army trench coat passed customs.

Back in the West, Helsinki proved to be a first class city with the prices to prove it. Our hotel rooms were $230 per night and postcards a dollar each. A group of us negotiated a one hour taxi tour of the city which cost only $80 after negotiations. A small pizza was $12 and a Big Mac cost $5. Yet a group of nine was so happy to enjoy Western food again that $80 each for dinner seemed well spent. The hotel dinner cost only $48 per person. Helsinki, city of 500,000 came equipped with suburbs and graffiti. A big departure from the Soviet Union where it was the consensus of our group that much of what we observed seemed 30 to 50 years behind the United States.

 

Part 2

A Soviet Journey

Second of two parts. Part one appeared in the March 1990 issue of Colorado Engineering.

by Dennis Polhill, P.E.

Daily Life and Government Regulations

The ruble (R), divided into 100 kopecks is the currency. Generally, there is confusion on the part of the visitors and locals as to the value of the currency. Not allowed out of the country, foreigners must purchase notes upon entry. On my first day I purchased R62 at the official rate for $100. Yet, on the second day of my visit, I was approached on the street and purchased R100 for only $10. While it is illegal for Soviet citizens to possess foreign currency, many do as the ruble is actively traded on the black market.

(Editor’s note: The ruble, artificially maintained at an exchange rate of about $l.65 has, externally, been drastically devalued for limited international transactions. At this level, a ruble is worth about 18 cents, or close to the black market rate).

At the official rate, my call to my wife in the United States would have cost R95, or over $100. As I paid for the call with black market rubles, the call cost only $9.50.

Housing is owned by the government, and is very inexpensive, costing four to 20 rubles per month. A family of four typically lives in an apartment of 250 sq. ft. Singles are entitled to about 100 sq. ft. Apartments are typically in 12 story buildings which look old before they are finished as do most hotels. Even if construction is typically of poor quality, under perestroika, individuals will soon be able to purchase their apartments as condominiums.

Although there are not city limit boundaries with everything owned by the government, most cities are defined by enclosing roads. Buildings are built out from a city center as far as the roads, then stop. In Minsk, across from a final apartment building and a road, is an open field, unlike in the United States what buildings sit on a parcel of land are not representative of any land value.

It is interesting note that the architectural value applied to apartments is nonexistent. Colors or finishing receive little or no attention. While in Leningrad, we were driven by an apartment building which occupied an entire block. Our guide indicated that it was of the “old design” where each floor shared the kitchen and bathroom facilities.

The few single family homes available are farm houses owned by cooperatives. Note that parking is never a problem as few private citizens own automobiles.

While housing is inexpensive, wages are very low, between R100- 400 per month. At R400 a bus driver makes the most money, while the supervisor of the bus district who supervises 5,000 employees will receive R300 per month. Physicians receive R200,beginning teachers R120 (experienced R200), and senior technical people R120.

Officially, everyone has a job because this is government policy. A job is assigned when one leaves school. However, everyone is free to work anywhere by finding a job of his/her choosing on their own. Jobs are announced in newspapers. Most tasks are labor intensive and there is supposedly a national labor shortage. Of course, through Western eyes, there is enormous inefficiency and ineffectiveness built into their system. The incentives of higher wages or discipline for poor performance are virtually nonexistent. A trade union committee makes disciplinary and firing decisions.

Eleven years of school are mandatory. Elementary school begins at five and lasts four years. The last seven years are combined and referred to as “school.” There are no junior or senior high designations. Because of mandatory schooling, the literary rate is officially 99.6%, one of the highest in the world. Everybody learns some English, Russian (as the official language of the union), and the native language of their respective republic.

Students wear uniforms and must pass an exam to progress to the next year of study. Truancy is not a problem as parents see to it that children attend. When needed, teachers will visit and counsel the parents. By the age of 16, mandatory education is over. Most higher education programs require another five years of study. Musicians must study for six years.

Since, officially, all wages and pricing of products is fixed and controlled by the government, price inflation is non-existent. However, inflationary cycles can be felt depending on the availability of goods. Some citizens are able to bank savings in banks owned by the state and paying three percent interest. Individuals can take out bank loans at one and a half percent interest. As American capitalists we found this opportunity appealing.

Consumers have limited cash to purchase limited goods. Products are meticulously inspected by individuals who spend cautiously and negotiate fiercely. Even with everything owned by the government there is a significant amount of free enterprise emerging in the Soviet Union. The black market is enormous. Doctors who choose not to work for the state can free lance. Their clients are people who want a second opinion, or better treatment. One of our interpreters was a free lancer.

Although the black market is very active, there is no graffiti and no litter. The Soviet people take great pride in cultural things and civic buildings. Posing a question such as “How many people work for your city?” is very confusing to citizens. Everyone works for the city, the republic or the state.

Perestroika has charged all enterprises with the task of finding ways to generate hard currency. Cooperatives rent store space from the government, produce their own goods, and sell them for what the markets will bear. We were warned about the sophisticated and subtle prostitutes that frequent the tourist hotels. Yet, in this example of more free enterprise, none in our group reported on observing any.

Birth control is a disaster. The Central Planning Committee, for example, specifies the number of condoms to be manufactured per year regardless of demand. Currently, four are available per year to the typical family. While they can be purchased at any drug store, supplies are rare. Consequently, the abortion rate is among the highest in the world. One of our interpreters has had six in eight years. She was concerned as to whether or not she may be able to ever have children.

Like most European countries, the incidence of smokers is high, much greater than in the United States. Crime is rare in comparison. One night I walked through Moscow with a large amount of cash without any concern whatever. In a city of nine million this was pleasant. However, the owners of cooperatives are increasingly becoming targets of extortion as organized crime is emerging in theUSSR.

By Dennis Polhill

The American Public Works Association gave me the unique and exciting privilege of being part of an outstanding trip to the Soviet Union from October 9 to October 23, 1989. The trip was organized cooperatively by the People-To-People Program and APWA. The Public Works Technical Group was requested by the Soviet Union and was the first visit of a public works delegation to the Soviet Union.

Our reception by the Soviets was outstanding. They must have expected folks that were closer to George Bush. Partially due to the uniqueness of our group and partially due to the structure of their government, many of our meetings were with high ranking federal government officials. The people were genuinely friendly, open and curious. Whenever I managed to be alone with a group of locals, I was treated with great regard and friendliness. Being a novelty is very good for the ego.

The dignitaries were exceedingly gracious, polite, and generous with candies, pins, papers and alcohol. I learned the correct way to kick off a party — which explains a lot about their high rate of alcoholism.

Our delegation was headed by Ron Jensen, Director of Public Works in Phoenix, Arizona, and APWA National Vice President. Our group consisted of 45 professionals, 9 spouses, 2 People-to-People staff, 2 full-time interpreters and a variable number of part-time interpreters and local guides. The group was evenly distributed across the United Stated and Canada and across the full scope of public works technical specialties. Although few of the delegates knew each other previously, the group quickly formed into a coherently focused team that worked effectively in responding to any and all challenges.

We visited Moscow (5 days), Pyatigorsk (2 days), Stavropol (part of the group, 1 day), Minsk (4 days), Leningrad (1/2 day), and Helsinki (1 day).

In Minsk we coincidentally met a trade delegation from Colorado led by Natalie Meyer, Secretary of State. A small group from each delegation participated in a joint press conference for the local media. I had the honor of being selected to participate.

Technical presentations were arduously slow and basic due to the interpreting delays and the need to build a base of common understanding. As with our technical sessions back home, the most useful information was transferred in small group round table question and answer sessions.

There is some confusion in the Soviet Union over the value of the Rubel. Rubels are not allowed out of the Country. Similarly, it is illegal for a Soviet to possess any foreign currency. So Rubels have to be purchased after arrival. On the first day I purchased $100 worth of Rubels (62 Rubels) at the legal, government specified exchange rate. The second day I was approached on the street and bought 100 Rubels for $10.00.

Wages are low, between 100 and 400 Rubels per month. A bus driver is the highest paid job at 400 Rubels, the director of the bus district who supervises 5,000 employees receives 300 Rubels. Physicians receive 200 Rubels. Senior technical people receive 120 Rubels. Beginning teachers 120 Rubels; experienced teachers 200 Rubels.

Everyone has a job because that is the design of their system. A job is assigned when one leaves school. However, everyone is free to work any where by finding the job of his choosing on his own. There are job announcements in the newspaper. Most tasks are labor intensive and there is a national labor “shortage”. Of course, we see the enormous inefficiency and ineffectiveness built into their system. The incentives of higher wages or of discipline for poor performance are virtually non-existent. A -trade union committee makes disciplinary and firing decisions.

There is a significant amount of free enterprise in the Soviet Union. The black market is enormous. Doctors who choose to not work for the State can free lance. Their clients are folks who want a second opinion or who want good treatment. One of our interpreters was working freelance. Consumers have limited cash to purchase limited goods. These consumers inspect products meticulously, spend cautiously, and negotiate fiercely. Co-operatives rent stores from the government, produce their own goods, and sell them. Apparently Perestroika has charged all “enterprises” with the task of finding ways of generating hard currency.

Housing is owned by the government and is very inexpensive: 4 to 20 Rubels per month. A family of 4 typically lives in a 250 square foot apartment. New buildings look old before they are occupied. The same is true of their hotels; very poor quality. Perestroika will soon allow individuals to own a condominium.

Birth control is a disaster. The Central Planning Committee specifies the number of condoms to be manufactured. It is currently four per family per year. Anyone can buy these at the drug store, but, curiously enough, there is a supply shortage. They pick up the slack with abortions. One of our interpreters had 6 abortions in 8 years and now is concerned whether she may be able to have children.

It was the consensus of our group that the Soviet Union appeared to be 30 to 50 years behind the United States in most of the things that we observed.

On our second day in Minsk technical meetings with Soviet road managers were held. After lengthy introductory comments the

Soviets shared numerous (at least 6) technologies that were new to us: bridge bearing devices, soil stabilization, concrete curing, and concrete sealing. Additional effort will be required to investigate the feasibility of introducing these items to America.

As part of this meeting, I, along with a representative of the Washington Chapter, took the liberty of inviting the Soviet Technical Road Delegation to Washington and Colorado in April of 1990. The Soviets accepted.

We took an all night train ride from Minsk to Leningrad, about 700 miles. Our group had sleeping rooms. Most of the locals sat up all night on benches with no padding and straight backs. I spent about 2 hours talking with locals. A 25 year old agricultural engineer, Victor, struggled to be the interpreter. From 8 to 12 listened in. I sat next to a 43 year old ship builder and his -wife. The senior citizens who lived through World War II and the Stalin repression were noticeably suspicious.

In World War I the Soviet Union lost 7,000,000. In World War II they lost 20,000,000. White Russia, the Republic between Russia and Poland, lost 25% of its people in 1,000 concentration camps. In addition to war losses, Stalin is attributed with as many as 10,000,000 murders of his own people. Stalin’s approach to controlling the people was to eliminate leaders, intellectuals, and strong personalities who might challenge his authority. The fact that Stalin was a criminal and murderer is openly stated by Soviets. It was dangerous to make such statement to strangers only four or five years ago.

About 6% of the population of 280,000,000 belong to the Communist Party. Historically, to be elected to any government position, one had to be a Party member. Within the last two years the names of non-party members could appear on ballots. Many have been elected. The USSR is unlike Poland where the Communist party is assured a certain Number of seats. It is probable that non-communist party members will take the majority in the next Soviet election.

The Soviet Union is the largest country in the World with the third largest population (280,000,000). It is composed of 15 Republics, the largest of which is Russia. Others are White Russia, Ukraine, Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Kazakhstan, Kirgizia, Moldavia, Tadzhikistan, Uzbekistan.

Each Republic has its own parliament, language, constitution, and flag. Each, according to the Soviet Union Constitution, has the freedom to leave the Union at any time. Estonia is currently challenging the truth of the Constitution. Our original itinerary of 3 days in Tallin, Estonia’s capital, was changed without explanation.

Flying from New York to Moscow required a 4 hour layover in Frankfurt, Germany. In the airport several met and got pictures with Stephan Edberg (professional tennis). The Frankfurt to Moscow flight was shared with Edwin Moses, the Olympic hurdler. He was going to Moscow to speak on the Olympics.

Although the Black Market is very active, there is no graffiti and no litter. The people take great pride in cultural things and civic buildings. A question like “how many people work for your City?” is very confusing to them, in that all people work for the City, the republic, and the state (federal government).

The money system is simple. Like ours, it has only 2 denominations: the Rubel and the Kopeck. It takes 100 Kopecks to make one Rubel. Everything else is a multiple of the two. Rubels are paper and Kopecks are coins.

The evening of October 12 took our group to the Moscow Circus. Every act was incredible. Anyone going to Moscow should make a point of attending. The price is very low. One should plan ahead to be certain that it is not sold out.

Eleven years of school are mandatory. Four years of elementary school begin at age 5. The following seven years are combined and referred to as “school.” There is no junior or senior high school. Because school is mandatory the literacy rate is 99.6%. Everyone learns some English, Russian (as the language of the Soviet Union), and the native language of their respective Republic. Students wear uniforms ‘and must pass an exam to progress to the next year of study. Truancy is not a problem. Parents see that children attend. When needed, the teacher will visit and counsel the parents. Mandatory education is finished by age 16. Most professional education is 5 years: doctors and engineers. Musicians need 6 years.

The incidence of smoking is high, like other European countries. Of the countries I have visited, I would rank from highest to lowest incidence of smoking: Germany, France, Ireland, Britain, USSR, Canada, United States. My exposure to Mexico, Belgium, Switzerland, Italy, Austria, Caymen and Jamaica is insufficient for ranking.

Pyatigorsk is a resort city in the extreme south of the Russian Republic near it’s border with Georgia and near the Caucusus Mountains. From Pyatigorsk Mt. Elbrus (18,510 ft) was visible. Elbrus is the highest peak in the Caucusus Mountains and is where Noah’s Ark came to rest. The Caucasian race is believed to have originated in these mountains and, thus, the name. In Pyatigorsk we had one day of excellent technical discussions. From Pyatigorsk we visited Kishlavorsk, a source of natural mineral water that is believed to have curing properties. I tried a little of all of it just to be safe. Part of our delegation took a 3 hour bus trip to Stavropol. This is the center for a district that was headed by and catapulted Mikhail Gorbachev to national and world prominence. Ours was the first delegation of

any type to visit Stavropol. We were constantly accompanied by a high ranking dignitary, had two food spreads within 2 hours, every one received a bouquet of red roses, and we were forced to participate in several Cognac toasts. Needless to say, the bus ride back was much shorter. We did have time to drive past the buildings where Gorbachev worked and lived.

The only snow that we saw on the entire trip was when we flew over Greenland. Everyone, including Americans, was surprised to hear that Denver got snow on September 12. This always gives me a chance to give my Chamber of Commerce speech. I had an ongoing debate with the delegates from Washington as to who lived in the most beautiful state. On our return flight we had a brief stopover in Stockholm, Sweden, and I had to concede that Stockholm compared with Seattle in beauty …but the Broncos are still better than the Seahawks. None of the cities we visited had yet received snow. Several days were rainy (about 4 days). Evenings became chilly and windy. Temperatures were reasonable (about 50 degrees F most of the time). A typical Moscow winter reaches -20 degrees F. We had real Colorado-style sunshine with blue sky only part of the time 4 or 5 days. About 10 days were overcast for at least half of the day.

Helsinki is a first class city with the prices to prove it. Our motel rooms were $230.00 per might. Postcards were $1.00 each. We negotiated a 1 hour taxi tour of the city down to $80.00. A small pizza was $12.00 and a Big Mac was $5.00. A group of 9 delegates were so happy to be able to eat real food again that they went happily to an $80.00 per person dinner. Those who stayed in the hotel paid $48.00 for dinner. Helsinki has 500,000 people, graffiti, and suburbs.

Soviet motel rooms had single beds with a single quilt type blanket. The blanket was covered by two sewed-together sheets. This cover had a hole in the crotch area for changing the cover. The pillow was an oversized, square feather pillow. In Moscow the rooms had mice and bugs. In Pyatagorsk and Minsk the rooms had only bugs. The Helsinki rooms were better. Our rooms were Soviet Union top of the line and, therefore, had TV sets. Of the 3 Soviet rooms I had, one TV was black and white, one was color and one did not work. The programming was, at best, second rate. It was not uncommon for the director to switch cameras when the second cameraman was taking a nap. Moscow had 6 stations; Minsk 3. All but one or two stations signed off early in the evening and signed back on late in the morning. The 22 Russian words that I learned didn’t go very far to understanding the news.

Making a telephone call from Moscow to the U.S. is $12.00 per minute and requires an appointment. You have to decide when you will call and how long you will talk. If you call the operator for the appointment, they do not speak English and will hang up. The best chance is to enlist the help of your babushka. Every hotel has a woman sitting at a desk on each floor to collect keys when guests leave. My first attempted call was scheduled for 11:OOpm (2:OOpm in Denver). I had to be in my room from 11:00 to 12:00 to wait for the call to go through. It did not happen and I received no feed back. I went to sleep. At 5:00am I confronted my babushka. She was sleeping. All of the phone lines out of the building had been busy. They should be open now, would she try again. The call came through at 6:00am (9:00pm in Denver). My wife and I talked 13 minutes at a cost of 95 Rubels. Fortunately I was able to pay in blackmarket Rubels, so my cost was only $9.50.

The meals were different. Breakfast is at 8:00am; lunch (dinner) is at 2:OOpm; and dinner (supper) is at 9:00pm. Most of their food items are high fat, high cholesterol. Breakfast is bread, cheese, salami and eggs. Lunch is borscht (cabbage soup), bread, cheese, salami, raw fish (sometimes smoked), peas, fried potatoes, chicken, ham, or beef. Dinner is the same as lunch with cognac or vodka. Bottled mineral water, banana soda and sometimes a fruit punch type drink was available. Coffee or tea (cha) was served after eating. The sugar cubes were petrified and would not dissolve. Food was always cold, cold drinks were warm, and hot drinks were cold. Voda (regular water) and ice were rare and difficult to come by. Lunch and dinner can take 2 hours partially due to poor service and partially due to custom. Desert was ice cream; always vanilla; more like frozen yogurt. Once we had hot dogs for breakfast. In Moscow mice ran across the floor during dinner.

Since all wages and pricing of products is fixed and controlled by the government, price inflation of goods is non-existent. However, inflationary cycles are felt by the availability of goods. Some folks save money and can put their savings in a bank. Banks are all state owned and pay 3% interest. Individuals can take out bank loans at 1 1/2% interest. All of the evil American capitalists instantly knew what to do with this opportunity.

We were warned about the sophisticated and subtle prostitutes that frequented the tourist hotels. However, no one in our group commented on observing any. More free enterprise.

Returning to the western world required passing 3 Soviet checkpoints and one Finish checkpoint. Two were very superficial, apparently looking for anyone or anything that was obviously out of the ordinary. The third check was more thorough. All bags went through x-ray machines. Three from our party were randomly selected for detailed inspection of bags. All passports were checked and visas confiscated. Even Peter who had traded some of his clothes for an obviously stolen Soviet army trench coat made it through.

Many Soviets were reluctant to have their pictures taken. This may be a carry over from the paranoia of the Stalin era of repression.

The sanitary standards are poor. In Moscow mice ran through the dining room during dinner. There were mice and insects in most of our rooms. The restrooms in restaurants were co-educational and were better described as “pit” stops. Many of the toilets were the no seat, squat variety. Toilet paper was sometimes issued by an attendant, sometimes non-existent, but most times would have been more appropriately employed in a woodworking shop.

“Intourist” is a Soviet owned enterprise that handles accommodations for western visitors. Thus, our hotels were Intourist, our buses were Intourist, our interpreters were Intourist employees, etc. Intourist specializes in providing western style services for western visitors. Although our accommodations were second rate (by our standards) they were the best available in the Soviet Union.

Virtually everyone lives in an apartment (flat). Rents are from 2 to 40 Rubels per month. A family of four is allowed a flat of 250 square feet. Singles are allowed flats of about 100 square feet. A typical apartment building is 12 floors. Parking is not a problem because few individuals can afford a vehicle_ Although there is no city limit line (everything is owned by the federal government) they build these 12 story buildings up to the edge of the city and stop. In the United States the value of the land under the building is representative of the height of the building constructed upon it. In Minsk the end of the city is represented by a road. On one side of the road is a 12 story building, on the other side of the road is an open field. The architectural style applied to these buildings is nil. They are boxes with poor attention to color or finishings. The buildings look old before they are occupied. The few small single family homes are farm houses or are owned by “co-ops.” In Leningrad we drove by a building that was an entire city block. Our guide said it was of the old design where an entire floor would share the kitchen and bathroom facilities.

Crime is rare. I walked around alone at night with $1,000 cash without any concern what so ever. This would be five to ten years of wages to them. Moscow is 9,000,000 – about the same size as New York City. However, the owners of cooperatives are becoming targets for extortion, etc. from an emerging element of organized crime.

In the United States we have a committee of 100 (the Senate) and a committee of 450 (plus or minus) (the House of Representatives) trying to make the leadership decision of our Country. The Soviet Senate (the Soviet of the Nationalities) has 750 members and their House (the Soviet of the Union) has 749 members. The literal interpretation of the word Soviet is “Council.” As in the United States, the word “government bureaucracy” prompts cynical and negative reactions. Obviously, the Soviets suffer from more of the same problem that we have in the United States: too much big government.