By Dennis Polhill, 1997


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.

Some Facts about the Colorado Constitution

Compiled for Colorado Constitution Panel

By Dennis Polhill, March 4, 2008


Colorado’s Constitution is average.

  • It contains 45,679 words.

  • The longest is Alabama at 310,296 words.

  • The shortest is Vermont at 8,295 words.

  • The most amended is Alabama with 711 amendments.

  • The least amended is Illinois with 11 amendments.

Between 1912 and 2005 (93 years) the citizens of Colorado have considered 254 proposed amendments.

  • 125 were referred by the General Assembly.

  • 129 were initiated by citizen petition.

111 of the 254 (43.7%) proposals were approved by voters.

  • 69 of 125 (55.2%) of those referred by the GA.

  • 42 of 129 (32.6%) of those by citizen petition.

Nearly two-thirds of the amendments to the Constitution originate in the GA.

  • 69 of 111 (62.2%) were referred by the GA.

  • 42 of 111 (37.8%) originated by citizen petition.

Some of the 42 could have been statutory, but most of the 42 had to be Constitutional. Counting entails subjectivity. This author estimates that one quarter could have been statutory. Thus, the target universe is small (10 in 93 years).

The incentive for issue proponents to go statutory is in place.

  • 32.6% of initiated amendments pass.

  • 41.3% of initiated statutes pass.

  • The election advantage of statutes over amendments is 8.7 points.

  • That is a 27% increase in proponents’ prospect of prevailing.

Amendment 2002-27 (Campaign Finance Restrictions by Common Cause) added 5,685 words (over 10%) to the Colorado Constitution. Amendment 27 was the rebirth of statutory initiative 1996-15 after it had been unilaterally modified by the GA.

The disincentives for issue proponents to go the statutory route (as illustrated by 2002-27) have yet to be addressed.


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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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 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.

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.

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.

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.”

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.

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.

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?”

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.

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.

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?

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.

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 …”

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.

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.

By Dennis Polhill
UWSA-Colorado, Issues Chairman
for Denver Election Commission


“We must disenthrall ourselves from the past. Otherwise becomes a barrier to the future.”
– Abraham Lincoln

The American Civil War was the final desperate effort of agricultural society to survive against the onslaught of industrial society. The transition from first wave (agricultural civilization) to second wave (industrial civilization) transcended a 300 year period — roughly from 1600 to 1900 – and included social change so massive as to be beyond the human capacity to fully comprehend. Not only did this transition include the obvious Industrial Revolution and Civil War, but it included the Renaissance, the European scientific and cultural awakening and the American Revolution with its invention of democracy.

Common understanding of history gives us, at best, superficial understanding of these events: Feudalistic monarchs were rejected from France to Japan in successions of bloody civil wars. Most countries did not have the benefit of a profoundly deep intellectual and moral leader, like Thomas Jefferson. The norm after revolution was to have a decade of anarchy followed by a return to some form of authoritarian rule. Real democracy did not come to France for 100 years.
The systems of society must be compatible. To be compatible, they must be parallel. So as civilization moved to industry; all of its systems came to be factory-like. Labor was centralized; corporations became conglomerates; capital was centralized; fortunes were made for families such as Rockefeller,-Kennedy, Dupont, Carnegie, and Hughes; education become mass produced; cities grew; housing was massified; transportation was massified; the military became a machine; democracy was invented; political parties came into being; government became centralized and bureaucratic. Small farmers were dislocated. Artisans and craftsman were displaced. The farms that survived became factories. Dislocations produced disenfranchisement of group after group with the product labor riots, sabotage, violence, massacres, strikes, etc.

To say that the scale of social change associated with the transition from first wave to second wave was gigantic is an understatement.

Today upheaval, turmoil, and discontent can be witnessed at every turn. The scale of conflict appears to compound daily. Alvin Toffler defines the third wave as information civilization. Information civilization started about 1950 and its impacts have accelerated due to the introduction of the personal computer in 1980, and subsequently, Internet. Already a thousand individuals in the Denver Metro area have set up personal bulletin boards on their home computer (third generation Internet systems). It is predicted that Internet servers such as Compuserve, Prodigy and AOL will be obsolete and out of business in less than a decade. Some say that TV’s will be obsolete in five years. The transition to information civilization will be no less traumatic than to industrial society. Conceivably, the trauma will be greater because the time to adjust will be compressed. The fact that we are not more aware that we are in the midst of this giant change is simply a “forest for the trees” issue. One of the most difficult things in life is to maintain an objective perspective.

The move to information society cannot be stopped, slowed, or steered. Individuals and institutions with a vested interest in the second wave will do all in their power to resist change.
Industrial society gave both economic freedom and personal freedom to individuals. Information society will give even more economic and personal freedom to people.

Systems that were massified for industrial society now must be de-massified for information society. All of the systems that were made to look like factories must now be reshaped in order to respond to the unique needs and demands of individuals. Education, labor, capital and corporations must change. The entire thought basis upon which we have built regulation, legislation, political parties, and political processes is no longer relevant.

Attached is an article by Alvin Toffler that began to make some of this picture clear to me. This article motivated me to purchase and read all of his works. I recommend that you do the same. The third wave is the reason people are angry. The third wave is the reason UWSA exists and has clout. The third wave is the reason that the two parties are “out of it” – they have no clue and know not what to do. The third wave is why there is schizophrenia within UWSA – that is, 750 of the members clamor for a third party and 25o argue that a third party is not the solution. The solution is something bigger; something to be yet visualized and articulated.


Unfortunately, Toffler offers no specifics. The solutions are up to those who have the courage to innovate, to lead, and to implement. There is augmented risk to society in the fact that our political systems and leaders are lagging behind and are the least flexible systems of society. Instead of acknowledging that there is a problem (take taxation as an example) and leading, elected officials attack the people and/or citizen activists. This is 180 degrees in the wrong direction. Such conduct only increases the prospect of irresponsible acts by extremist kooks like Timothy McViegh. Because citizens enacted term limits and other controls when legislative bodies have a conflict of interest to act, elected officials moved to restrict the right of petition. This conduct will not get society where it needs to go. There will be more, not less, democracy in the future.

Four categories of change to come to political systems are minority power, semi-direct democracy, decision division, and PI-STEMS.

Minority Power – Majority rule is obsolete. It fails to account for impacts on minorities. It fails to measure how important an issue is to voters, what trade-offs people are willing to make, and whether the minority is injured beyond repair. It is likely that various forms of proportional representation, formalized systems of conflict resolution, and mechanisms that find and capture “efficient frontiers” in public policy will be invented.

Semi-direct Democracy – The form of democracy (representative democracy) invented by the Founding Fathers was appropriate for their time. At least 90a of the people were illiterate. The masses had to spend every waking moment in productive effort just to survive. Transportation and communication systems were primitive. Direct democracy carries the weight of “tyranny of the majority” (which is obsolete). Thus, semi-direct democracy is a moderate and reasonable middle ground reform. The initiative and referendum process should not be restricted or killed. It should be reformed, modified and expanded. Why do the people not have the right by petition to propose a bill, to modify a bill, to bind the vote of their legislator, to set up public hearings, to establish a legislative committee, to make a formal expression of priorities to the legislature either for policy action or for spending? Why do not the constituents of county and special district governments in Colorado have the right of I & R? These and other semi-direct democracy tools will come. When they do, the role of elected representatives will be vastly different.

Decision Division – Decision division is the collapse of centralized decision making. As the amount of information grows and as the pace of decision making necessarily accelerates, it becomes functionally impossible for decision making to be dominated by central control. Decisions that appropriately should be decentralized, delegated, and devolved, can be, will be, and must be reassigned. The Gulf War pitted a third wave army against a second wave army with predictably one sided results. As Don Shula once said, “people who know exactly what
to do, thrive under pressure.”

PI-STEMS – PI-STEMS are “Political Information Systems.” The role of the parties will be replaced by PI-STEMS. Soon the idea of a majority party will be obsolete. The information available to voters who wish to be informed about issues and candidates is slanted and appallingly deficient. Access to, information will be facilitated by various PI-STEMS, many through Internet. Voting records, ratings, etc. will soon be readily available. Competition between the two parties will motivate them to lead in the invention of some PI-STEMS that will, in turn, diminish the relevance of both parties. Already independent candidates and splinter third parties are mounting attacks against rules and procedures t-hat discriminate against their involvement in the process.

Of course, the scope of the ideas contained herein is trivial and in a few short years will appear as primitive as the Mayflower or the vacuum tube. But it is time that the discussion be opened and quickly expanded. We are on the verge of an opening of the democratic process: a second awakening of democracy. The appropriate conduct for political leaders at all levels is to be alert to the trend, to anticipate it, and to facilitate it. The sooner we can get in tune with the future, the sooner we can begin to share in the benefits the future will bring. Our generation has a destiny to reinvent democracy.










By Dennis Polhill

Research assistance by

Dominque Tarpey and Steve McWhirter





Presented at

American Legislative Exchange Council

Seattle, Washington

July 2004






At least 9 Presidents of the United States

issued public statements to Congress

indicating that the U.S. Constitution

required amending before

the Federal government could

become involved in Transportation policy.

In 2004 the question is rarely raised.




The controversy over whether the Federal government is permitted by the Constitution to be involved in transportation improvements began soon after adoption of the Constitution.

At least nine United States Presidents very strongly believed that the enumerated powers in Article 1, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution excluded Federal involvement in transportation improvements.  Evidence of their convictions is expressed in unmistakable terms in their veto messages.

CUMBERLAND ROAD – An ambiguity that emerged from early American history is the Cumberland Road.   The first Federal funded highway connected the head of navigation on the Potomac River (Cumberland, Maryland) to the head of navigation on the Ohio River (Wheeling, West Virginia).  Construction was authorized by Congress on March 29, 1806.  Contracts were issued in 1811, but the War of 1812 interfered and construction did not begin until 1815 and was finished in 1818.  America’s eagerness to solidify its claims on western lands was in conflict with Constitutional limitations on Federal authority.

In 1803 Congress passed the 5 percent law.  Five percent of the revenue generated from the sale of Federally owned public lands was deposited into a fund.  Funds generated from 60% of the five percent (three percent) were granted to the States upon admission to the Union for roads, canals, levees, river improvements and schools.  Funds generated from the remainder, two percent, were dedicated for constructing roads “to and through” the West.  Bitter debate ensued when the two percent funds were allocated in 1806 to build the Cumberland Road.  Jefferson chose expediency by not vetoing the bill, but issued his important message[1] to Congress later in 1806 suggesting that the Constitution should be amended to allow Federal involvement in “internal improvements.”

The Cumberland Road became so heavily used that it fell into disrepair.  When Congress sought to again intervene by establishing tolls for maintenance in 1822, Monroe issued his only veto, arguing that Federal collection of tolls implied a power of jurisdiction, that was not granted to the Federal government by the Constitution.  By 1835 the Cumberland Road was known as the National Road and extended into Illinois.  The dilemma was resolved when control was devolved to the respective States that operated it as a toll facility until toll roads were bankrupted by railroad competition.


JEFFERSON – In his December 2, 1806 message to Congress, President Thomas Jefferson considered the problem of a revenue surplus.  Reduction of the import duty on salt would give “advantage to foreign over domestic manufactures.”  Jefferson recommended “continuance and application to the great purposes of the public education, roads, rivers, canals, and such other objects of public improvement as it may be thought proper to add to the constitutional enumeration of federal powers.”  That is, Jefferson favored acceleration of Federal sponsorship, but was of the view that the U.S. Constitution must be amended to allow it.

Jefferson commented again on this topic in a February 14, 1824 thank you letter to Robert J. Garnett.  Garrett had given a copy of a book by Colonel Taylor, “New Views of the Constitution.”  The letter mentioned “the three great questions of amendment:” presidential term limits, popular election of the president, and giving to Congress the power over internal improvement on the condition that each State’s federal proportion of the moneys so expended, shall be employed in the State.

MADISON – James Madison, author of the U.S. Constitution, succeeded Jefferson as President in 1808.  In Madison’s last official act as President he issued a veto on March 3, 1817.  The bill, passed in February 1817, provided for setting aside the Bank bonus of $1,500,000 as a permanent fund for internal improvements.  To circumvent the constitutional prohibition, the bill language cleverly mixed rhetoric including “internal commerce,” “general welfare,” and “common defense.”  Madison replied specifically to each of these claims of authority.

Madison favored the policy but vetoed the bill as unconstitutional, “I am constrained, by the insuperable difficulty I feel in reconciling the bill with the Constitution of the United States.”[2]

He refers Congress to the Constitution, “The legislative powers vested in Congress are specified and enumerated in the 8th section of the first article.”  He adds, “The power to regulate commerce among the several States, cannot include a power to construct roads … without a latitude of construction departing from the ordinary import of the terms.”

“To refer to the power in question as ‘common defense and general welfare,’ would be contrary to the established and consistent rules of interpretation … such a view of the Constitution would have the effect of giving to Congress a general power of legislation … It would have the effect of subjecting both the Constitution and laws of the several States, in all cases not specifically exempted, to be superseded by laws of Congress.”  Finally, Madison points out “the assent of the States … cannot confer the power.”  In other words the states must agree by amending the Constitution, but may not agree to ignore its structurally imposed limitations on Congressional powers.  In the final paragraph Madison asserts, “that the permanent success of the Constitution depends on a definite partition of powers between the General and the State government, and that no adequate land-marks would be left by the constructive extension of the powers of Congress, as proposed in the bill.”

Madison’s veto message closed with sympathy for the policy objective, “I am not unaware of the great importance of roads … and hope that (the bill’s) beneficial objects may be attained …”

MONROE – James Monroe was elected in 1816 to succeed Madison.  His only veto was issued on May 4, 1822.  Monroe, like Madison and Jefferson, approved of the policy, but vetoed the Cumberland Road Bill as unconstitutional, “Congress does not possess the power under the Constitution to pass such a law.”[3]  Monroe reiterated Madison’s points, “This power can be granted only by an amendment to the Constitution.”  In addition to the indirect claims of authority refuted in Madison’s veto (commerce, general welfare and common defense), the Cumberland Road Bill claimed Congressional authority under post roads, the power to make all laws necessary and proper for carrying into execution all the powers vested by the Constitution in the government, and the power to make all needful rules and regulations respecting the territory and other property of the United States.  Monroe, “it cannot be derived from either of those powers, nor from all of them united, and as a consequence it does not exist.”  He closes by suggesting that “Congress (exercise) the propriety of recommending to the states an amendment to the Constitution.”  Monroe’s veto message is brief, less than two pages in the Congressional Record, but he elaborates exhaustively in his May 4, 1822 “Views of the President of the United States on the Subject of Internal Improvements.”  This document is nearly 30,000 words, is not part of the Congressional Record.[4]

JACKSON -Congress became more aggressive.  Andrew Jackson (President 1828-1836) vetoed four transportation bills as unconstitutional.  Like his predecessors he favored federal participation in internal improvements, but understood the Constitution as not allowing, and therefore prohibiting, it.  Jackson offered support to advancing the necessary Constitutional amendment by suggesting public agreement made the amendment possible, “If it be the wish of the people that the construction of roads and canals should be conducted by the Federal Government, it is not only highly expedient, but indispensably necessary, that a previous amendment of the Constitution, delegating the necessary power, and defining and restricting its exercise with reference to the sovereignty of the States, should be made.”  In other words, public consent made an amendment achievable and preservation of both the Constitution and State sovereignty requires it.  Congress elected to not advance the suggested Constitutional Amendment.

The Maysville, Washington, Paris, and Lexington Turnpike Road Company was vetoed as “unconstitutional”[5] on May 27, 1830.  This is one of the longer veto messages consuming 10 pages (over 6,000 words) in the House Journal.  Jackson reviewed the history of his predecessors on the question and summarized the arguments on both sides of the issue.  In the end he agreed with his predecessor-Presidents, “When an honest observance of Constitutional compacts cannot be obtained from communities like ours, it need not be anticipated elsewhere; and the cause in which there has been so much martyrdom, and from which so much was expected by the friends of liberty, may be abandoned, and the degrading truth, that man is unfit for self government, admitted.  And this will be the case, if expediency be made a rule of construction in interpreting the Constitution … No good motive can be assigned for the exercise of power by the constituted authorities, while those for whose benefit it is to be exercised have not conferred it.”

Jackson’s Maysville veto message reiterates language from the Monroe veto message supplement, which evolved into another criterion, “purely local character,” that appears in subsequent vetoes in various forms.  This is discussed in a subsequent section.

The Washington Turnpike Road Company was vetoed as “unconstitutional”[6] on May 31, 1830.

Jackson’s next “unconstitutional” veto was of “An Act to authorize subscription for stock in the Louisville and Portland Canal Company” passed near adjournment and he provided the veto message to Congress on December 7, 1830.  Again he refers Congress to the Maysville veto for edification.  “The practice of thus mingling the concerns of the government with those of the States or of individuals, is inconsistent with the object of its institution.  The successful operation of the federal system can only be preserved by confining it to the few and simple, but yet important objects for which it was designed.  A different practice, if allowed to progress, would ultimately change the character of this Government, by consolidating into one the General and State Governments, which were intended to be kept forever distinct.”[7]

Jackson’s last transportation veto as “unconstitutional” came on December 2, 1834 of “An Act to improve the navigation of the Wabash River.”  “I cannot refrain from expressing my increasing conviction of its extreme importance, as well in regard to its bearing upon the maintenance of the Constitution … the dangers of unconstitutional acts which, instead of menacing the vengeance of offended authority, proffer local advantages, and bring in their train the patronage …in my opinion, the Constitution did not confer upon (Congress) the power to authorize the construction of ordinary roads and canals … I could not consider myself as discharging my duty to my constituents in giving the Executive sanction to any bill containing such an appropriation.”[8]

TYLER – John Tyler vetoed as “unconstitutional” “An Act making appropriations for the improvement of certain harbors and rivers,” on June 11, 1844.  “At the adoption of the Constitution, each State was possessed of independent sovereignty … (which) expressly reserve(d) to the States all powers not delegated … (Congressional) power, in order to be legitimate must be clearly and plainly incidental to some granted power, and necessary to its exercise.  To refer it to the head of convenience or usefulness would be to throw open the door to a boundless and unlimited discretion and to invest Congress with an unrestrained authority.”[9]

Tyler also pocket-vetoed “An Act making appropriations for the improvement of the navigation of certain rivers” on January 28, 1845, but issued no veto message, suggesting that he had said all that he wished to say on the issue in his June 11, 1844 veto message.

POLK – On August 3, 1946 James Polk delivered a veto message to Congress for “An Act making appropriations for the improvement of certain harbors and rivers.”  The bill appropriated $1,378,450 to more than 40 objects of improvement.  Because of the “local character” of these projects, Polk said, “it is difficult to conceive … what practical constitutional restraint can hereafter be imposed … The Constitution has not, in my judgment, conferred upon the federal government the power to construct works of internal improvements … The approved course of the government, and the deliberately expressed judgment of the people, have denied the existence of such a power under the Constitution.  Several of my predecessors have denied its existence in the most solemn forms … The general proposition that the federal government does not possess this power is well settled.”[10]  Polk also advances a test for constitutionality originally laid down by Madison, “Whenever a question arises concerning a particular power, the first question is whether the power be expressed in the Constitution.  If it be, the question is decided.  If it be not expressed, the next inquiry must be, whether it is properly an incident to an expressed power, and necessary to its execution.  If it be, it may be exercised by Congress.  If it be not, Congress cannot exercise it.”

Polk issued a second veto of a transportation bill on December 15, 1847 of “An Act to provide for continuing certain works in the Territory of Wisconsin, and for other purposes.”  Polk’s first objection was the bill’s misleading title.  It passed on the last day of a session and appropriated $6,000 for “continuing” work, while $500,000 was appropriated for numerous new projects.  The veto message opens by referring Congress to his prior veto message of August 3, 1946 and referenced to comments found in the veto messages of Madison, Monroe, and Jackson.  Polk also quotes Jefferson’s 1806 message to Congress recommending “an amendment to the Constitution.”  Restating the obvious Polk writes, “No express grant of this power is found in the Constitution.”[11]

PIERCE – Franklin Pierce issued seven transportation vetoes, more than any other President.  “An Act making appropriations for the repair, preservation, and completion of certain public works theretofore commenced under the authority of law” was vetoed as “unconstitutional” on August 4, 1854.  This bill is “not, in my judgment, warranted by any safe or true construction of the Constitution.”[12]

His first veto message was brief because the bill reached him in the “expiring hours” of a session, but Pierce elaborates at length in his December 30, 1854 (read on January 2, 1855) message to Congress.  He recites the 10th Amendment to the Constitution as further evidence to clarify the intended specificity of the enumerated powers listed in Article 1, Section 8.  He reasoned, “If the framers of the Constitution, wise and thoughtful men as they were, intended to confer on Congress the power over a subject so wide as the whole field of internal improvements, it is remarkable that they did not use language clearly to express it.”  In response to the assertion that language in the Constitution’s Preamble inferred a power vested Congress with authority over internal improvements, he wrote, “To assume that anything more can be designed by the language of the Preamble would be to convert all the body of the Constitution.”

On March 3, 1855, Pierce vetoed “An Act making appropriations for transportation of the United States mail by ocean steamer and otherwise, during fiscal years ending the 30th of June 1855 and the 30th of June 1856.”  In addition to citing that the appropriation was both a bad spending priority and a poor policy, Pierce stated that the bill was “of doubtful compatibility with the Constitution.”[13]

Congress persisted by passing “An Act to remove obstructions to navigation in the mouth of the Mississippi River at the Southwest pass and Pass a l’Outre.” It was vetoed on May 19, 1856, with “my views were exhibited in full on the subject … the Constitution does not confer on the general government any express powers to make such appropriations.”[14]

“An Act making an appropriation for deepening the channel over the St. Clair flats, in the State of Michigan” was vetoed on May 19, 1856 as violating the Constitutional “restriction on the power of Congress.”[15]

“An Act making an appropriation for deepening the channel over the flats of the St. Mary’s River, in the State of Michigan” was vetoed on May 22, 1856, as “not a necessary means for execution of any of the expressly granted powers of the federal government.”[16]

“An Act for continuing the improvement of the Des Moines rapids, in the Mississippi River” was vetoed on August 11, 1856.  For elaboration Congress was referred to his prior veto messages.[17]

“An Act for the improvement of the navigation of the Patapsco River, and to render the port of Baltimore accessible to the war steamers of the United States” was vetoed on August 14, 1856.  Pierce again referred Congress to his prior veto messages.[18]

BUCHANAN – President James Buchanan vetoed “An Act making an appropriation for deepening the channel over the St. Clair flats, in the State of Michigan” on February 1, 1860, as “a violation of the spirit of the Constitution.”  Buchanan declined to provide a protracted reply, “The question of the Constitutional power of Congress to construct internal improvements within the States has been so frequently and so elaborately discussed that it would seem useless on this occasion to repeat or to refute at length arguments which have been so often advanced.”  Suffice it to say, he agreed with his predecessors.  He specifically refers Congress to the Polk veto of December 15, 1847 and offers, “The corrupting and seducing money influence exerted by the general government in carrying into effect a system of internal improvements might be perverted to increase and consolidate its own power to the detriment of the rights of the States.”[19]

ARTHUR – Chester A. Arthur was the last President to unambiguously express his Constitutional views in a veto message.  On August 1, 1882 he vetoed, “An Act making appropriations for the construction, repair, and preservation of certain works on rivers and harbors, and for other purposes.”  “I regard such appropriations of the public money as beyond the powers given by the Constitution to Congress and the President.  I feel the more bound to withhold my signature from the bill because of the peculiar evils which manifestly result from this infraction of the Constitution.”[20]

PRESIDENTIAL VETO SUMMARY – This research of transportation vetoes finds that eight president vetoed 19 transportation bills as unconstitutional violations of enumerated powers.  Jefferson provided the same language in his December 2, 1806 message leaving no doubt of his views on this question (Jefferson issued no vetoes during his presidency).  Links to Senate and House Journals where the exact and complete language of the respective messages may be reviewed are provided in Appendix A.


The most significant power of a President is the power to veto legislation.  Thus, a veto represents the most solemn and sacred act exercised by a President.  A veto may be advanced for any reason or no reason at all.  Most are due to disagreement over scope, methods, nature or priorities of legislation; or philosophical differences.

All Presidents wisely strive to sustain a positive and constructive working relationship with the legislative branch.  Clearly, all of the nine veto-Presidents (Jefferson, Madison, Monroe, Jackson, Tyler, Polk, Pierce, Buchanan, and Arthur) had the option to not use confrontational language by issuing their vetoes on other-than-constitutional grounds.  But they did not, inferring both a powerful strength of conviction and an enormous sense of obligation to express their Constitutional understandings.  That many also exercised these vetoes contrary to their own preference for policy, strengthens the message in their words.

Each of the above vetoes in effect accused members of Congress of ignoring their oaths of office to uphold the Constitution, of failing to comprehend the Constitution’s meaning and intent, or of being unwilling to abide by clearly enumerated Constitutional limitations.  Such accusations are neither trivial nor conducive to a positive working relationship.  Their principled stances provided no rewards.

GENERAL OR LOCAL BENEFIT – The views of the nine veto-Presidents above as represented by unmistakable language directed at Congress are unequivocal.  The specific views of other Presidents are less clearly decipherable from their veto message language.

The Jackson Maysville veto advanced Monroe language that evolved into criterion that appears in several subsequent vetoes in some form, “general welfare” of “purely local character” and eventually became the slippery slope that yielded current Federal involvement.  Did the vetoes of the subsequent Presidents seek to be more subtle and less offensive with their rhetoric toward Congress?  Did these words mean to say with less insult to the integrity of Congress, “unconstitutional under enumerated powers?”

This research does not attempt to comprehensively inventory all vetoes with this ambiguous language.  The cited veto messages sometimes included words like, “for the benefit of particular localities”, “of local interest”, or “lacking a general benefit.”  A partial list of such vetoes follows:

  • Benjamin Harrison, April 29, 1890 “a matter of local interest”
  • Benjamin Harrison, June 4 1890 “the public needs do not suggest or justify such an expenditure”
  • Grover Cleveland, May 23, 1888 “(not) necessary for the transaction of public business”
  • Grover Cleveland, May 29, 1896 “for the benefit of limited localities”
  • Grover Cleveland, July 7, 1896 “I (am not) satisfied that the legislation proposed is demanded by any exigency of the public welfare”
  • Theodore Roosevelt, March 3, 1903, “for local improvement”
  • Woodrow Wilson, July 11, 1918 “not in the public interest”
  • Herbert Hoover, July 11, 1932 “Fraught as it is with possibilities of misfeasance and special privileges”
  • Franklin D. Roosevelt, June 11, 1940 “the public interests are not such”
  • Franklin D. Roosevelt, August 2, 1941 “benefits of such expenditures are dependent upon local enforcement”


A Calvin Coolidge veto on May 18, 1928 comes close but does not quite state “local interest” as his reason, “Having in mind the increasing ability of the States to finance road construction due to the general adoption of the gasoline tax and the increase in revenue from this source which would accrue to States from roads.”  The State gasoline tax was a comparatively new innovation.  A Federal gasoline tax was, as yet, nonexistent.  Coolidge was, in effect, arguing against a Federal program of taxation and redistribution, the net effect of which would have advanced Federal involvement in State transportation decisions.


SEPARATION OF POWERS – As adherence to the Constitution slipped further from public perception, Congress acted to enlarge its power by including in legislation that Department Secretaries report directly to Congressional Committees.  Presidents objected to this infringement in another series of vetoes.  These are on Constitutional grounds, but because the limitations of Article 1, Section 8 seem to have been largely forgotten, the basis is encroachment on Executive Powers by the Legislative Branch.  These illustrate Congress’ insatiable thirst for more power.

  • Dwight D. Eisenhower, July 16, 1956 “violate the fundamental constitutional principle of separation of powers”
  • Lyndon B. Johnson, June 4, 1965 “undesirable and improper encroachment by the Congress and its committees into the area of executive responsibilities”
  • Lyndon B. Johnson, August 21, 1965 “repugnant to the Constitution (by) encroachment (on) the separation of powers between the legislative and executive branches”
  • Richard Nixon, April 5, 1973 “conflicts with the allocation of executive power to the President”
  • Jimmy Carter, July 10, 1978 “directs Secretaries to report to congressional committees”


INTERSTATE HIGHWAY SYSTEM – On June 29, 1956 President Eisenhower signed into law the “National System of Interstate and Defense Highways.”  Title II, the Highway Revenue Act, was its financial component that raised the Federal gasoline tax from 1 cent (implemented in 1932) to 2 cents (raised to 3 cents in 1958 and to 4 cents in 1959) per gallon and was scheduled to expire on June 30, 1972.  The 40,000 miles of new highways would be State owned and operated.  The Federal role was fiscal, to collect and redistribute revenues to expedite construction by States.  Conformity of construction among the States was an important goal of the legislation.  The Clay Committee estimated the total cost at $27 billion.  The bill authorized $25 billion.  By 1958 the system had increased to 41,000 miles at a total estimated cost of $41 billion.  In 1966 the Bureau of Public Roads became the U.S. Department of Transportation.  The Interstate System was completed in 1982.  In 1976 the Federal gasoline tax was extended and in 1990 increased from 9 cents to 14 cents.  Currently the Federal gasoline tax, at 18.4 cents, generates about $40 billion per year.

GROWTH OF PORK – In “Breach of Trust” former U.S. Representative Thomas Coburn of Oklahoma defines pork as “one member of Congress determines where the money is to be spent.”  Congress uses the friendlier label: “earmark.”  By this definition Federal Transportation Legislation contained only ten pork projects in 1982 at a cost of $386 million.  The 1987 bill contained 150 pork projects for $1,300 million, motivating a Reagan veto.   By 1991 the number of projects had grown to 539, at $6,200 million and the 1998 bill contained “a record shattering 1,467 pork projects for $9,500 million.”  “Shuster consistently argued that setting aside 5 percent … was a very reasonable thing to do.”  The debate had moved quite considerably afar from the points so eloquently articulated by Madison, and others.

Coburn elaborates on how these projects are generated by vote-buying.  Maverick Congresspersons who say, “My vote is not for sale” are punished.  The going rate of $15 million for a vote for the 1998 bill was corroborated by several Congresspersons.  House Transportation Chairman, Shuster, lividly denied the accusations as “McCarthyism.”  But Budget Committee Chairman, Kasich, called the bill an “abomination,” introducing a short-lived amendment to the bill that would reduce the federal gasoline tax to 4 cents per gallon.

TRUST FUND HISTORY – The Reason Public Policy Institute Policy Study 216[21] by Bob Poole in 1996 reviewed the history of the Federal Highway User Trust Fund, seeking to account for all costs in order to reveal a more accurate listing of donor versus recipient states aggregated over the life of the Fund.  Conventional wisdom is that 21 states are donor states.

RPPI reasonably underestimated the costs of Federal administration, mandates, delays and distortion of priorities.  This exercise revealed that the number of donor states is 33, 12 more than are generally considered donor states.  Because RPPI conservatively estimated and because other costs exist that were not included in the analysis such as the significant resources state and local governments use lobbying to recover “free money,” 33 donor states is an understatement.  In a yet-to-be-released CATO study, author Gabriel Roth, estimates that at least 42 states are donor states.  Thus, few states receive more money than they pay into the Trust Fund and the vast majority of states are injured by the continued movement of funds through the D.C. money-filter.  The value of money is not enhanced when it goes thru D.C.  A listing of the donor and recipient states based on RPPI’s 1996 research, along with their current representation in Congress is provided in Appendix B.

CONCLUSION – Notwithstanding, the Constitutional foundation, the historical evolution and the political promises, the trend toward higher levels of Federal waste, inefficiency and corruption should disturb all who care about good government.  This is exactly what the Polk veto of 1860 predicted, “The corrupting and seducing money influence exerted by the general government in carrying into effect a system of internal improvements might be perverted to increase and consolidate its own power to the detriment of the rights of the States.”

  • The Federal gasoline tax was created as a temporary tax to construct the Interstate Highway System.
  • The Federal gasoline tax has achieved it mission.
  • The Interstate Highway System was completed in 1982.
  • Since 1982 the number of “pork” projects has grown exponentially.
  • Continuation of the Federal gasoline tax is injuring transportation in at least 33 states.
  • The states injured by continuation of the Federal gasoline tax represent 88% of the U.S. House membership.
  • The Founders and several successor presidents stated that the U.S. Constitution does not delegate to the Federal government the authority to be involved in transportation improvements.
  • The Constitution has not been amended to allow Federal involvement in transportation.
  • All of the indirect claims of authority by Congress have been answered by the various presidential vetoes of proposed transportation legislation.
  • The warnings that ignoring the limits imposed by the Constitution would open the door to unbounded authority and centralization by Congress have come true.
  • The warning that money would become “corrupting and seducing” has come true.
  • The warning that ignoring the limits imposed by the Constitution would subjugate the states to Congress has come true.

State Departments of Transportation are sufficiently prepared to handle the added responsibility of prioritizing and managing their own transportation systems.  Devolving to the states responsibility for transportation is not only the right thing to do, but will result in improved fiscal efficiency and accountability.  After all, this is how the problem of the Cumberland Road was reconciled in 1835.  The era of massive transportation construction has ended.  The future challenge is to operate and maintain the world’s foremost transportation system with efficiency.  This cannot be achieved well with continuing top-down mandates.  Rather, devolution and liberalization of Federal restrictions will free those with the most innovative and creative leadership solutions to act.  There is a time to lead and a time to follow.  Less Federal involvement in transportation will facilitate more leadership in some, if not all 50, states, which will help America to be more competitive in this time of global competition for markets and jobs.  We owe it to the future to devolve transportation responsibilities to the states where they rightfully belong.












Reference Location

Link to Reference Location



Dec. 2 1806

Senate Journal



H.R. 29

March 3, 1817

House Journal


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H.R 50

May 4, 1822

House Journal


http://lcweb2.loc.gov/ll/llhj/015/0500/05590560.tif http://lcweb2.loc.gov/ll/llhj/015/0500/05600561.tif


May 4, 1822

Veto Supplement Not in Congressional




S. 27

May 31, 1830

Senate Journal


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H.R. 285

May 27, 1830

House Journal


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Dec. 7, 1830

House Journal


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S. 97

Dec. 2, 1834

Senate Journal

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H.R. 203

June 11, 1844

House Journal


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Jan. 28, 1845


No veto message.  Tyler’s previous veto on constitutional grounds infers that this bill might have been vetoed on similar grounds.



Aug. 3, 1846

House Journal


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Dec. 15, 1847

House Journal


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H.R. 392

Aug. 4, 1854

House Journal


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H.R. 595

Mar. 3, 1855

House Journal


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S. 1

May 19, 1856

Senate Journal


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S. 2

May 22, 1856

Senate Journal


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S. 14

May 19, 1856

Senate Journal




S. 53

Aug. 14, 1856

Senate Journal




H.R. 12

Aug. 11, 1856

House Journal




S. 321

Feb. 2, 1860

Senate Journal


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H.R. 6242

Aug. 1, 1882

13 Cong. Reg. 6758





















Congressional Votes



Alabama Donor



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Maryland Recipient



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17 Recipient States



33 Donor States



[1] See Appendix A for a link to the Congressional Record.[2] See Appendix A for a link to the Congressional Record.[3] See Appendix A for a link to the Congressional Record.[4] See Appendix A for a link.[5] See Appendix A for a link to the Congressional Record.[6] See Appendix A for a link to the Congressional Record.[7] See Appendix A for a link to the Congressional Record.[8] See Appendix A for a link to the Congressional Record.[9] See Appendix A for a link to the Congressional Record.[10] See Appendix A for a link to the Congressional Record.[11] See Appendix A for a link to the Congressional Record.

[12] See Appendix A for a link to the Congressional Record.

[13] See Appendix A for a link to the Congressional Record.

[14] See Appendix A for a link to the Congressional Record.

[15] See Appendix A for a link to the Congressional Record.

[16] See Appendix A for a link to the Congressional Record.

[17] See Appendix A for a link to the Congressional Record.

[18] See Appendix A for a link to the Congressional Record.

[19] See Appendix A for a link to the Congressional Record.

[20] See Appendix A for a link.

[21] http://www.reason.org/ps216.html

[22] http://www.reason.org/ps216.html

Following are the December 1999 observations of Dennis Polhill regarding the Confederate Constitution as contrasted with the U.S. Constitution:

  1. The structure of the Confederate Constitution (and government) was extremely similar to the U.S. Constitution.
  2. The Confederate Constitution was written with the benefit of over 70 years experience with the U.S. Constitution.
  3. Except for the provision of slavery, the Confederate Constitution offers some worthy innovations and improvements on the U.S. Constitution.
  4. The CC offers no Bill of Rights.  Rights are integrated with the basic document.  This was one of the difficulties that Thomas Jefferson had with the U.S. Constitution.  He said that attaching a Bill of Rights at the end made it appear as an afterthought.  For this reason he gave serious thought to and nearly did oppose its ratification.
  5. Article I delegates legislative authority to Congress.  In so doing the authority of Congress is enumerated in 18 sections.  These parallel the U.S.C. with variations such as the Post Office must operate out of its own revenue.
  6. Article I limits the powers of Congress in 20 sections that repeat most of the USC Bill of Rights.  #20 is an omnibus bill prohibition, meaning that no bill may have provisions attached to it that are unrelated to the title.  #9 requires that all appropriations be approved by a 2/3 super-majority of Congress.
  7. Article II relates to the Executive.  The President is limited to a single 6 year term.  All appointments (judicial and executive) are approved by 2/3 of the Senate.
  8. Article V in both documents deals with its amendment.  This is the most extreme variation between the two documents.  The CC takes away from Congress the power to propose Amendments.  Only States may propose Amendments.  When 3 (of 11 states = 25%) States concur on a proposed Amendment, Congress is obliged to convene a Constitutional Convention to consider the proposed Amendment.  When 2/3 of the States ratify, the Amendment becomes part of the Constitution.
  9. Elected Officials and Judges are bound by their oath to uphold the Constitution.
  10. The 9th and 10th Amendments to the USC (which reserve rights not specified to individuals and powers not delegated to the Federal government for the states) appear in the CC prominently immediately prior to Article VII, the ratification article. 



By Dennis Polhill

July 9, 2006

The Foothills Fire Protection District (FFPD) has long been the pride of Lookout Mountain.  Hundreds of people support the district both financially and by volunteering. In 1996 three small fire districts merged into a single district to share resources and capture economies of scale.  Its 85 volunteer firefighters would serve about 3000 resides scattered over the 25 square miles that surround Genesee in Jefferson County.  In retrospect those benefits seem fleeting as costs have escalated, the number of volunteer firefighters has shrunken by half and communications with the community have become strained.

No PrideNo one thought much of occasional assertions of malfeasance or impropriety, until last year.  The very next day after the June 2005 Annual Pancake Breakfast a sign went up proposing the construction of a “Taj Mahal” station addition.  If FFPD had had pride in what was being considered and confidence that it was defensible, they would have been more open and above board.  There is no better forum than the annual breakfast to share plans and ideas with the community.  That they chose otherwise suggests a hidden agenda.

Jeffco Planning – The next event was a Site Approval Hearing with the Jefferson County Planning Commission on June 22, 2005.  County staff incorrectly advised neighbors that the hearing was of no consequence.  Mostly hoping to learn what was in the works 30 to 40 people showed up at the hearing.  FFPD lied to Planning Commission when they asked whether there had been community meetings and outreach efforts.  The Planning Department staff recommendation to the Planning Commission was “minimal impact” and “recommend approval.”  However, when several citizens offered questions in testimony, three of the six members of the Planning Commission voted against the “minimal impact” conclusion.  A tie vote equals no action by the Planning Commission.  Evidently there is a proviso deeply hidden and generally unknown in county regulations that no action by the Planning Commission within 30 days is considered approval.  The Jeffco attorney alerted FFPD to this, but did not offer equal treatment to citizens.  Rather than inform the community or otherwise address the growing community concerns, FFPD eagerly grabbed at this loophole falsely claiming Jefferson County approval.

Minute-Readers – Seeking answers as to how and why things had gotten to this point, individuals read all of the Board of Directors meetings minutes over the prior 5 years.  Because FFPD insisted on $1.50 per copy, the readers made copies by taking photographs.  There was no record in the minutes of any decisions to build an addition.  Nor was there evidence of any of the appurtenant decisions, such as a decision to hire or pay an architect, or to allocate funds, conduct a property line survey, etc.  Neither was there a record of the “gift” from the tower companies or any record of discussions thereof.  The minute-readers did notice that the Board started adjourning into executive session at every Board Meeting beginning in October of 2004 without announcing an executive session agenda any more than to say “attorney client privilege.”  Interestingly, the minutes decreased in volume by about 25% starting at the same time as estimated by number of pages.  Is it possible that FFPD was violating open meeting rules and conducting business secretly?

Budget Off Limits – Other citizens with financial expertise began looking at the budget.  Of the $1 million budget, half was going to “administration.”  The accounting method used makes it difficult to ascertain specifics.  When specifics were asked at board meetings, citizens were stalled with the reply, “You must bring these concerns to the annual budget hearing meeting in November.”  When November finally arrived and the questions were being presented, the board (probably illegally) shut off public comment with, “We don’t have time for this” and quickly approved the budget.  They did promise to reply by letter which finally arrived in March (4 months after the fact … and many more months after various concerns were initially raised) with a statement that there would be a fee charged for further information requests and such requests must be filed under Colorado’s Freedom Of Information Act.  In 2003 the mill levy was increased from 8.0 to 9.196 without the knowledge or consent of taxpayers.

Gift, Bribe or Pay-Off – Along the way it was discovered that FFPD had received a “gift” of $280,000 from “local businesses” which turned out to be the broadcasters who wish to expand towers on Lookout Mountain.  The size of the building for the new tower required enhanced fire protection and it was claimed that donating the money to FFPD was the least expensive of three options.  FFPD was obliged to spend half on a new tanker truck and the remainder was extra cash.  When citizens asked to see a copy of the “gift” agreement, they were told “There is no agreement. The money is a gift.  There are no conditions on its use.”  It is unknown whether the “gift” was solicited by FFPD or offered first by the property owner.  Either way the objective judgment of FFPD became predictably impaired.  Some believe the “gift” from the beginning was a grand plan contrived by the tower owners to cause infighting within the community and to distract people from the tower issue.

Ineligible Director – Two of the five Board seats were due to be elected on May 2, 2006.  In January it became widely known that another Board member, Richard Kunter, who was elected to a 4 year term on the board in 2004, had sold his home in December 2003 and moved out of the district.  By law one ceases to be eligible to serve on a district board when one ceases to be eligible to vote in that district.  When Mr. Kunter was confronted about this, he requested the face-saving dignity of the opportunity to draft a formal letter of resignation and he agreed to act immediately in order that his successor could be determined via the May election.  When the resignation did not come, he was again contacted and he restated his prior intention.  This happened a third time.  Mr. Kunter indicated that he was being pressured by FFPD to stay on the Board.  See Appendix below for expanded details of events and facts that illustrate inconsistencies and prove the actions of the FFPD Board were intended to be manipulative and deceptive.

Vacating the Ineligible Director – The cut off date for candidates to declare for the May election was February 24.  Dennis Polhill contacted DOLA (Colorado Department of Local Affairs) in early February.  The DOLA person was extremely adamant that the Board member had ceased to be on the board the moment he moved out of the district, he was not entitled to the privilege of resigning, and that the third vacant seat must be immediately announced to the community and elected in May.  Since neither the FFPD Board nor Kunter were moving, Mr. Polhill crafted a letter repeating the DOLA comments, presenting it at the February 21 Board meeting.  One Board member said “The personnel committee was aware of the situation, had been looking into it for some time, and they would adjourn to executive session to consider it.”  FFPD issued a letter dated February 23 stating “the issue of Mr. Kunter’s qualification was brought to the attention of the Board of Directors for the first time.”  Evidently FFPD meant to say “for the first time in writing and any less notification does not count as notification.” Director Kunter knew and had discussed the situation numerous times with numerous people, including the Board.  And John Findling, another Board member, discussed this with at least one member of the community.  And Miller knew, because he was the chairman of the Board’s personnel committee and was the one who made the comment at the Board meeting.  It is very likely that all of the Board members knew.  That they failed to act in a timely manner is, at least, a clear dereliction of duty, if not a subversion of election laws and a conspiracy against voters.

More Deception – The February 23 letter also deferred to an impending review by the attorney of the Lookout Mountain Water District, that Mr. Kunter also served on, stating “qualifications … would have the same applicability.”  (Isn’t this interesting? This is the first time they know of the eligibility issue. Yet, they know the water district is reviewing the same matter.)  But when the water board met on March 13 and removed Mr. Kunter from the Board as ineligible, the FFPD no longer wished to conform.  Mr. Miller asserted in a newspaper column published on March 8, “He rents a room and maintains a voting address in the district.”  Not quite true: the voting address is his former residence (It is absurd to claim that because one fails to update one’s voter registration record that one is eligible to vote where one no longer lives).  As for the room, someone bumped into the wife from whom the room was supposedly being “rented” and when asked she stated unequivocally that Mr. Kunter was “neither renting a room nor residing with them.”

Denying The Right to Vote – This sequence of deceptions became publicly disclosed as a product of a face-to-face confrontation at the March 21 Board meeting.  Mr. Kunter stated “I do not want to cause any more problems.”  The FFPD attorney suggested that they would look into it (inferring that there might be a way for Kunter to continue on the Board).  The very incriminating exchange was captured on the FFPD tape of the meeting (Whether the tape still exists is unknown.  The minute-readers had asked for tapes when they discovered the minutes lacked critical information.  They were told tapes are destroyed after the written minutes are approved.  This seems like an odd practice (if legal), but it might be true).  Mr. Kunter resigned prior to the April 18 Board meeting.  But the damage had been done.  It was too late to announce the third seat for the May election.  Voters would not have an opportunity to vote to fill the third seat.  Special District Board vacancies that occur between elections are filled by appointment by the Board.  The practical result of these actions, whether intentional or not, was to deny citizens the right to vote; exactly opposite of the repeatedly stated intention of Mr. Kunter.  Was it Mr. Kunter or FFPD who contrived this result?  If the May election does not go to their liking, FFPD is empowered by their foot dragging and obfuscation to deadlock any reform actions by the new Board with a 2-2 vote, including appointment to fill the vacant seat.

Election Decisions – FFPD made a series of questionable, to say the least, decisions relative to the May election.  Every FFPD election in recent history (longer than a decade) has been by mail ballot.  Some voters who knew of the election expected to receive a ballot in the mail.  This would be a polling place election.  The pancake breakfast is held at the Lookout Mountain Station because it is most central to the population.  The single polling place in May would be at the Grapevine Substation.  Grapevine is a mere two truck garage that houses backup fire equipment that is rarely called out and virtually no ordinary citizen is aware of its existence or whereabouts.  It does not even have plumbing or a restroom.  The address of Grapevine on the FFPD web site was incorrect.  The only announcement of the election was a single legal notice in the Canyon Courier.  Normally there is at least a post card notice that an election is being held.  The Courier may be the closest there is to a publication of general circulation, but a small minority of citizens read it regularly.  When asked about the Grapevine polling place decision, a Board member said “The Lookout Mountain Station has to be ready to respond to a call.”  Yet, the same concern does not apply for other events, such as the Pancake Breakfast.  Is it possible FFPD was trying to make voting difficult?

Citizen Committee – Citizens had grown increasingly alarmed and an election committee was formed, Committee to Reform Foothills Fire Protection District.  The CRFFPD made two mailings to all voters in the district.  The second mailing merely restated the names of the reform candidates and when/where to find the polling place.  The first mailing included some background on the nefarious actions of FFPD, numbers to call to ask election questions, a map to the polling place and a copy of the application for an absentee ballot.  To insure that absentee ballot applications were not “lost in the mail,” the committee encouraged applicants to keep a copy of their application for their records and call the CRFFPD if they did not receive a ballot.  FFPD took offense to this precaution and rather than send absentee ballots to applicants, they sent a letter calling the precaution “an unlawful and unauthorized alteration,” clearly a tactic designed to intimidate voters and to suppress voting.  After a confrontation at the April 18 Board meeting, FFPD agreed to mail absentee ballots to all citizens who requested them.  Some damage was irreparable, because at least one person had to leave the country on business before finally receiving her ballot.  It was also discovered on April 18 that the DEO intended to be out of state for 5 consecutive days between April 18 and April 28 (the last day to request an absentee ballot) with no plan to distribute ballots.  Again due to confrontation by citizens at the April 18 Board meeting, FFPD finally agreed to make ballots available.

Election Day – On Election Day CRFFPD stationed several people at the I-70 exit nearest the Grapevine Substation with signs.  Numerous individuals indicated that they were unaware of the election.   The unofficial election results were Bartlett (414), Carney (412), and Wittrock (183).  The two reform candidates captured the two seats overwhelmingly with close to 75% of the vote.  In spite of FFPD efforts to obfuscate the election and suppress voting, voter turn out was nearly 20%.  In early March, when it was learned that voters would not be allowed to vote for the third seat, the third reform candidate (Steve Close) withdrew as a candidate to avoid diluting the reform vote.

Term Limits – Voters count on honest management of their elections.   When an individual is not eligible to run for office, the election official (typically the Secretary of State or a County Clerk) respectfully notifies the individual and declines to allow the name to appear on the ballot.  In 2004 FFPD appointed the district administrator as the DEO (Designated Election Official).  Thus, the district administrator, the employee of the Board, was put in a position to potentially deny ballot access to his bosses.  It was in 2004 that Mr. Kunter declared himself eligible to run for the Board after having sold his home in the district.  It was also in 2004 when Mr. Miller was permitted to run for another term.  Mr. Miller would not have been eligible to serve due to term limits.  FFPD has term limits of two four-year terms.  Mr. Miller served on the Lookout Mountain Fire District Board prior to consolidation in 1996.  As of the 2004 election he would have served over 8 years already.  Declaring one’s boss ineligible to run is not a good formula for long term job security.  Mr. Kunter also became a FFPD Board member as a byproduct of the 1996 consolidation and had served continuously, also exceeded his eligibility to serve under term limits.  Board Chairman, Jack McKenry, served on the Idledale Board for 15 years prior to consolidation and from 1996 to 2006 after consolidation.  The term limits clock for special districts started in 1994.  It is likely that McKenry was ineligible to serve after 2002, in which case a majority of those on the Board were not eligible to serve on the Board, raising questions about the legality of all Board actions over the period of time in question or even the ability to achieve a quorum to convene a legal Board meeting.

Attempted Cover Up – When the minute-readers announced at one of the Board meetings (probably September or October) that none of the actions relevant to the station addition were recorded in the minutes, FFPD attorney Scheurer recognized the difficulty and immediately attempted to cure the situation by proposing that the Board then pass seven retroactively effective motions.  The first was discussed but not voted on.  Evidently the Board did not comprehend the attorney’s efforts at damage control for failure to formally act on these important items of business.  Is it possible that these items were discussed and decided in the numerous “attorney client privilege executive sessions?”  Had the Board been conducting a series of “secret meetings?”

Filling the Vacancy – All three May election candidates attended the April 18 Board meeting and agreed to expedite filling the Board vacancy by advertising immediately for parties interested in being appointed.  With the election outcome so overwhelming, the rightful choice should be an easy one.  Three individuals applied and were interviewed by the full “new” Board prior to the June 20 Board meeting: Donna Wittrock the non-reform candidate who was overwhelmingly defeated in the May election; Steve Close, the reform candidate who withdrew when the third seat turned out to be unavailable for election; and Paul Wells.  In the interview Paul Wells was asked why he did not run in May.  Wells replied, “I did not know there was an election.”  He wasn’t the only one.  On June 20 the Board decided to vote on each candidate individually.  This decision about process doomed it to deadlock, notwithstanding a revelation by one of the carry over Board members that the May election actually expressed a message of concern-about-the-current-direction-of-FFPD from the community of some merit.  There was no such revelation, so the vote on all three candidates was deadlocked at 2-2.  Director Medved argued with backwards logic in favor of Wittrock, “She should be selected because she was on the May ballot and Steve Close dropped out.”  A motion was passed to send a letter to the County Commissioners requesting that they immediately intervene to break the deadlock.


More Scandals in the making – When people hear the FFPD story, they often react with, “FFPD is on the take.”  Until the truth is known, this remains a possible explanation.  Some suggest the motive is ego or political power.  FFPD is a tiny volunteer fire district. Why would Board members serving so many years jeopardize their service and risk their personal reputations over a petty power struggle?  The big picture is scary.  With over 2300 special districts statewide, there must be others that are as out-of-touch and out-of-control or self-serving as FFPD.  It is quite possible that multiple scandals of enormous proportions will one day explode into the limelight.  Worse yet, the citizens of Lookout Mountain are educated, successful, informed, engaged and affluent.  Thus, citizens elsewhere might find it more difficult to successfully confront similar situations.

Consolidated Elections – The County Clerks attempted to pass a “Consolidated Election” bill about ten years ago.  It would have moved all regular elections to November.  This would have reduced election costs and increased voter turn out.  Not everyone likes these two benefits. The Colorado Municipal League and the Special Districts Association are among Colorado’s most powerful lobby forces (read: taxpayer funded lobbying) and succeeded in deleting cities and special districts from the bill.  Outlawing obscure election dates (calling them “secret elections” is a minor exaggeration) is pro-democratic, pro-citizen participation, and pro-open government.  Some European countries require a voter turn out of 50% for an election to be valid.  Such a rule would end “secret elections.”  By manipulating election dates and election notices it is fairly common to see special district elections with single-digit voter turn outs.

When to Start – As for FFPD, the new Board has a lot of work to do.  Potentially every Board action over the last few years needs to be reviewed and validated or reconsidered.  They have to get a handle on the finances and extract FFPD from the perceived or real conflict of interest caused by accepting the tower money.  Until the vacant Board position is filled, FFPD will remain deadlocked and the large backlog of difficult work will continue to grow.  Lookout Mountain is fortunate and thankful that highly qualified and competent individuals continue to step forward and offer their time and talents in public service.


Supplemental information to paragraph above entitled:

“Ineligible Director”

Mr. Kunter indicated that he was in discussions with other FFPD Board members, its administrator and counsel, and was being urged to stay on the Board.  Mr. Kunter did not tender his resignation prior to the cutoff date.  A closer look at dates and information indicate members of the Board have not been telling the truth and were obviously attempting to frustrate the election process in an effort to control or at minimum deadlock the future Board.

January 26, the Paradise Hills Homeowners Association held its annual meeting at which a signed letter was read and called to the HOA’s attention, noting that Mr. Kunter, a former resident and member of the FFPD and Lookout Mountain Water Boards, had moved out of the district and raising issue with his continued service on both Boards.  At least two members of the FFPD Board (Findling and Miller) were immediately contacted regarding the issues raised in that letter, including Mr. Kunter’s seat.  One of the other Board members (Findling) immediately indicated he was not seeking a second term and that another member of the Board (McKenry) was term limited.

February 8, Mr. Kunter was contacted directly and was aware of those conversations and acknowledged that information about his seat on the Board had been circulated by those Board members initially contacted.  Mr. Kunter indicated he was inclined to resign but requested a few days to consider and discuss it with other members of the Board, its administrator and FFPD counsel.  In follow-up discussions, he reaffirmed his intention to resign.
February 20 (Monday), Mr. Kunter was again contacted and specifically noted that he intended to resign and was having discussions with other FFPD Board members, Administrator and counsel regarding this matter.  In the course of the conversation, he noted that he was being encouraged not to resign but that he was inclined to resign from the FFPD Board and let the community fill the seat in the May election.

February 21, the FFPD had held its monthly meeting where it was anticipated the Board would announce the resignation and third vacant seat for the May election.  However, to the public’s surprise neither occurred and the matter was for that meeting killed.  When a member of the community specifically asked about the Board’s determination and the status of the seat, Mr. Miller dismissed the question stating that the Personnel Committee is looking into it.

Unbeknownst to the public, Mr. Miller had already the day before (February 20), purportedly on behalf of the Board, submitted a letter to the Canyon Courier that was published March 8 in which he said “There is also some misunderstanding about a board member moving out of the district.  He rents a room and maintains a voting address in the district.  He is also in the process of buying property again in the district.  The separate attorneys for the two boards he serves (FFPD & the Lookout Water Board) consider that he meets the requirements for service to those boards and the community.”  Canyon Courier, Wednesday, March 8.  That however was false.

February 24 (cutoff date for May 2 election) Mr. Kunter was again contacted and again indicated he was inclined to resign and let the public fill his seat, but didn’t know if they would get it done yet that day, had been in multiple discussions with FFPD counsel (Scheurer) and other members of the Board about this matter, that he was being urged not to resign, and that he was told that there was no point in resigning yet anyway since the Board could not act on it before March.

March 13, only 3 business days after Mr. Miller’s letter appeared in the Courier, at the Lookout Mountain Water Board (LMWB) regular Board meeting was held.  Their attorney reported that he had determined that Kunter was NOT eligible.  The Water Board determined Kunter’s seat to be vacant.

March 22, via email and fax Mr. Miller and Mr. Scheurer were specifically challenged with respect to the contradiction.  Mr. Miller responded prior to the FFPD Board meeting later that evening saying “I had sent the published letter the Monday before the February board meeting shortly after hearing of the anonymous letter to the Paradise Hills Homeowners meeting.” And went on to say Kunter had said he was renting a room and that he had contacted Mr. Scheurer “and he concurred that the legal residence would be qualified.”

Later that evening, at FFPD Board meeting March 22, Mr. Scheurer first, and then Mr. Kunter presented a bit of a dog and pony show.  Mr. Scheurer opened to specifically state that he had not made a determination and did not have enough facts to do so.  Mr. Kunter further elaborated and reiterated an unbelievable story about renting a room on Lookout Mountain.   Community members took issue with the inconsistencies and the story, asking Mr. Scheurer to explain how he could advise Mr. Kunter (ethically or practically) prior to the February cutoff if now he did not have sufficient facts to do so.  Mr. Kunter was specifically asked how the spouse of the house in which Mr. Kunter was purportedly renting a room had no knowledge of such an arrangement.

March 22, Mr. Miller and Mr. Scheurer were asked to explain the contradictions between the Courier article, what had been announced by LMWB, what was known about the Lookout Mountain house story and what had been said at the FFPD Board meeting.

March 28, Mr. Miller responded indicating that he had sent his article in to the Courier February 20, the day before the February 21 FFPD Board meeting.  He did not respond to the inconsistencies.

March 29, Mr. Miller responded again that he only had the information he had “3 or 4 days” prior to the February 21 meeting (still unresponsive, but now clearly raising the question of why it hadn’t been properly and definitively addressed Kunter’s seat at the February meeting) – he then closed saying “And now it must be a moot point!!” (referring presumably to the fact Kunter was going to then resign…Mr. Kunter purportedly then resigned a few days later although he did not at the time circulate copies to others in the community).

April 18, Mr. Scheurer replied by fax basically acknowledging that he hadn’t made any independent determination but claimed to have been justified in deferring to and waiting for a decision from the LMWB (albeit a separate entity, separate district, and separately represented).

Basically, Messrs Miller and Scheurer had changed their story from that of promoting the rental argument, to now purportedly waiting for the LMWB.  Nobody was explaining why they hadn’t made the determination themselves in the first place, or how the Courier article and the later correspondence were so contradictory themselves, and with what LMWB did do March 13.

April 29, FFPD sent out a mailing just three days before the election, in which they inserted a specially framed “Editor’s note” stating “At the March FFPD Board Meeting, the Board heard that Director Richard Kunter’s qualifications as a director had been challenged because it was believed he was no longer a resident of the District…” and attempting to justify failure to act earlier on this matter or allow the public the ability to vote to fill the seat.   If the contradiction of that opening line was not enough, the balance of the piece was at least as significant for what it said had not happened as what it said had – it essentially said they had not themselves made any special investigation despite repeated contacts and information regarding the same since January, but instead drug their feet as long as they could.  And finally they had to acknowledge the situation by virtue of the fact that the LMWB, despite much later notice, took action and declared the seat vacant. The above quoted opening sentence itself misrepresented and fails to disclose that this matter had come to their attention already in January (if not earlier).  The above quoted opening sentence and the entire discussion is contrary to the so certain and strongly worded Courier article Mr. Miller acknowledged submitting already February 20.

Corroborating Proof – All of the above referenced specifics can be backed up with copies of letters, faxes, newspaper articles, meeting tapes, emails, and testimony of the various citizen-witnesses.

This sequence-of-events, outlined in this appendix begs the relevant question that Kunter was not entitled to a resignation nor was the Board entitled to procrastinate about critical election decisions per the DOLA comments in the paragraph above titled “Vacating the Ineligible Director.”  At some point this clearly dishonest, inconsistent and unethical behavior crosses the line into the realm of criminal.  The right to vote is a fundamental right and these people have not just denied it to 3000 FFPD voters, but put a lot of effort into the task.

A Citizen’s Guide to Redistricting Abuses

By Dennis Polhill


Representative democracy is a system of government whereby citizens rule the government through chosen representatives. In the U.S. representatives increasingly choose those they will represent, as elections tend to be predetermined by gerrymandering.

Originally the states decided their system of representation. At-large representation and single member districts have been the most common. Mixed representation systems and multi-member districts have been used. Only single-member equal population districts have existed since implementation of the 1962 Baker v. Carr U.S. Supreme Court ruling. The “one person, one vote” reasoning corrected outrageous population disparities among districts.

The U.S. House of Representatives with 65 members in 1788 grew to 435 members in 1910 and has stayed at 435. The U.S. Constitution requires that these be “apportioned” among the states based on population following the census. Congress must pass an apportionment statute each decade defining its number of members and the method of apportioning them among the states. Twelve U.S. House seats moved from one state to another to adjust for population changes after the 1990 census and again after the 2000 census.

The début of opposing political parties introduced the motivation for gerrymandering. Gerrymandering is named for the 1812 Governor of Massachusetts, Elbridge Gerry, who “packed” political opponents to yield more representatives for his party. By “packing” and/or “diluting” the opposition, the gerrymander exaggerates the influence of his ideological allies.

Proof that gerrymandering is active is overwhelming and indisputable. The surprise is how openly and with such great pride gerrymanders tout their work. The redistricting done in 2001 and 2002 will predetermine most election outcomes in the U.S. (particularly at the state and federal levels) for the next decade or more.

The Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s was the impetus for finally achieving equal population districts. The Voting Rights Act of 1965 required the creation of majority-minority districts. This has resulted in a greater number of minority elected officials. But evidence is surfacing that the ability of minorities to influence policy may be diminished by pro-minority gerrymandering.

The U.S. has always had a two party system; but it has not always been “closed” to third party challenges. Third parties regularly challenged the two parties with new ideas and occasionally displaced one of them. The advent of ballot access restrictions, beginning in 1888 has insured that the two parties cannot now be similarly challenged. This leads to an unhealthy complacency, stagnation of ideas, and lack of accountability for both parties and does injury to American democracy.

Turnover, as measured by the number of freshmen members, in the U.S. House has been as high as 74% in 1842, but has declined steadily to the current level of less than 10%. Subtracting turnover due to death, health, scandal, and indictment, leaves only 1% to 2% turnover due to election defeats. The U.S. Congress has become an aristocracy. Nearly 80% of U.S. House races nationwide are won with an overwhelming landslide (a victory margin in excess of 20%).

At the state level the problem is equally bad. Of the roughly 6000 state legislative seats elected every two years nationwide about 40% are so “safe” that one of the two parties declines to offer an alternative candidate. Profound insight and wisdom are not required to accurately predict the vast majority of state and federal election outcomes.

The trend to more gerrymandering should be no surprise. Lacking counterbalancing reforms, the introduction of powerful computers, extensive demographic databases and computer mapping tools, the gerrymander is executing his task with increasing skill and precision. More clear-cut abuses are forcing the courts to be more actively involved to moderate gerrymandering extremism. The barrage of post-1992 lawsuits will be eclipsed this election cycle.

The courts should not be the source for political leadership and reform. Judicial activism diminishes both the stature of the judiciary as well as the other branches of government. However, most political leaders acquiesce to their obvious conflict of interest. Perhaps the most viable path to cure gerrymandering abuses and to reform the redistricting process is via the exercise by citizen-statesmen’s of the initiative petition process in the states.

Redistricting can be improved by removing control from politicians and using rigid objective redistricting criteria, such as equal population, continuity and compactness.


“It used to be the voters chose the politicians,” said Rep. Tom Davis. “Now the politicians choose the voters.”[1] Technology has introduced a new era. One thing proven by the 2000 presidential election in Florida is that things will never be the same. Systems that worked adequately in the pre-technology era are ineffective for the new world. Those reluctant to embrace new technology are doomed to be manipulated by it. With respect to how we elect representatives we are already there.

The introduction of every new technology brings with it the opportunity to use it for good or ill. Thus far computing abilities, married with Geographic Information Systems and Census Bureau DIME files and TIGER files have been a boon to the gerrymander. It is time to rethink the relevance of districts and the decision-criteria for creating redistricts so the powers of these new technologies can be used to improve rather than injure self-government.

Democracy – Democracy is a form of government in which a substantial proportion of the citizenry directly or indirectly participates in ruling the state.[2] Under indirect democracy citizens elect officials to represent them. The word democracy is derived from the Greek words demos (“the people”) and kratia (“rule”). All citizens, rich and poor, participated equally in the Athenian direct democracy. However, only 10% of the people qualified as citizens; the remainder were minors, women, slaves, and foreigners. The Greek democracies eventually fell to imperial rule.

Rome developed representative democracy for a time with popular assemblies called “comitia,” in which the citizens met to elect officials and make laws. The comitia lost their power first to the aristocratic Roman Senate[3] and ultimately to emperors. Interest in democratic institutions was overshadowed by the need for security during the Dark Ages, yielding to rigid systems of feudalistic and monarchical government. Democratic ideas did not reappear on a significant scale until the 17th century. Over the centuries, councils of knights, church clergy and feudal lords advised their kings. At first council was mandated by the king; later they claimed advisory powers to their kings; and eventually they asserted themselves as representative bodies. The Baronial Council with its genesis from Magna Carta in 1215 eventually evolved over hundreds of years into the British Parliament.

The modern understanding of democracy is that citizens are sufficiently free in speech and assembly to form competing political parties and voters are able to choose among them in regularly held elections. All modern democracies outside of Europe and North America are products of the 20th century. Although most governments now call themselves democratic, many unaccountable political leaders dictate: “in the name of the people.”

Representation – Representation, in politics, is the type of democracy by which one person stands or acts on behalf of a larger number of individuals in formulating the policies and operations of a government.[4] Direct democracy is awkward and impractical. As people become more democratically enlightened, more peaceful and government functions become more devolved, opportunities for greater citizen participation will increase. Forms of democracy that exercise representation, indirect democracies, are called Republics. Republics that are too far removed or otherwise fail to represent the interests of their constituents may not work well. The inadequacy of colonial representation in the British parliament was a contributing factor to the American Revolution.

The notion of representation is complicated by two diametrically opposite views of the representative’s duty. The Thomas Hobbes view is that representatives are empowered by their election; unlimited in their subsequent authority to act. On the other hand, the Jean Jacques Rousseau view is that representatives must articulate the views of constituents; limited by the people’s will. Is representation defined by initial authorization or by final accountability? In the real world elected officials display a mix of both philosophies. The extent to which a given personality gravitates more to one extreme is reflected in their actions. Generally citizens are content to yield great latitude to their elected officials. When persistent excess is evident, citizens set new limits, such as the taxpayer revolts of the 1980’s and 1990’s that resulted in tax and spending limitations in many states and took the nation as near to a Federal constitutional convention as did woman’s suffrage and direct election of U.S. Senators.

Another controversy relates to when the representative should decide against the wishes of his constituents because of superior knowledge, enlightened perspective or refined judgment. A large number of elected officials are as content to dictate when they know little, as when they know much. Politicians and political institutions are not only reluctant to change; they are resistant it. The thought of them reforming themselves is a fantasy. They do not exercise leadership to invent mechanisms of improved governance. There is not a single issue that at least a few citizen-constituents could not add to the knowledge of their representatives. Yet, systems to incorporate citizen-knowledge into policy lag. Is there no will to improve governance?

Effective Representation – All forms of democracy give a voice to the majority. The challenge is how to effectively provide a reasonable voice to every minority. Fundamental individual rights are enumerated in and are protected by the Constitution. Ensuring that minority voices are considered during policy making is another matter. Majorities sometimes impose unfair burdens upon a minority. This problem is most grievous when the state involves itself in policies of redistribution and of rewarding the worthy through a modern pork-barrel spoil system. To consider the extent and implications of spoils upon representation, the role of constitutional protections to individuals, the ultimate minority in any society, or the proper role and size of government in society is outside the scope of this analysis.

Monolithic Constituencies – Constituencies are not monolithic. People are different and view issues differently. People who agree on one issue do not necessarily agree when the issue changes. The two political parties preserve control by perpetuating the myth that people view issues monolithically: “If you don’t agree with me on this, then you must agree with them on everything.” The form precludes that you might actually think and have unique perspectives that permit you rationally to possess a variable set of ideas, change your mind, or even oppose both party-lines. As society grows more complex, issues become increasingly multidimensional and less bipolar. When there are many perspectives, the number of minority views increases dramatically. Because the number of issues is very large and the different ways people see them is also large, the number of minority views is nearly infinite.

The Evolution of Districts – Four states did not have Congressional Districts in 1788 when the first Congress was elected. All members of the U.S. House from these states were elected at-large from their respective state. At-large means, everyone votes for each Congressional seat. If a sharply dividing issue defined the election of Pennsylvania’s eight Representatives, all eight seats might be captured by the 51% side. This effectively leaves 49% of the population without representation.

Single Member Districts – A step in the direction of curing the problem of minority representation was to create smaller geographic districts. Though it is not specified in the Constitution, the Founders intended that states would create districts. Geographic districts do not necessarily insure minority representation. All of Pennsylvania’s seats could be won by the 51% if they were uniformly distributed over the entire geography or if district boundaries were artfully gerrymandered to capture or exclude pockets of voters. Without gerrymandering the randomness of concentrated pockets of minority voting interest would allow large minority interests to achieve a majority in some geographic districts. The first Federal mandate of single-member districts came in the Apportionment Act of 1842.[5]

Creating districts was a prerogative of the respective state. Conformity and consistency among the states evolved slowly. By the time of the 1790 election, ten of fifteen states had created geographic districts (two states had a single representative and three states elected representatives at-large). County boundaries were sacrosanct; the notions of equal-population, continuity, and compactness had not yet been conceived.

At-Large Districts – The trend from at-large elections was slow. At least one state elected all of its representatives at-large through the election of 1862. In the 53 elections between 1864 and 1968 one or more states elected all of its representatives at-large in 36 (68%) elections. No state with multiple representatives has elected representatives at-large since 1968. The Civil Rights movement of the 1960’s resulted in a barrage of court rulings and Federal legislation that changed districting forever, mandating single-member districts and equal population on the grounds of “one person, one vote.”[6] Hawaii was the last state to use an at-large Congressional election in 1968; New Mexico used it in 1966. Redistricting difficulties produced concerns that Oklahoma would be forced to return to at-large elections in 2002.[7]

Mixed Representation – Sometimes states chose to have both a number of geographic Congressional Districts as well as other representatives elected at-large. In 1862 Illinois became the first state to mix geographic and at-large representation with thirteen geographic Congressional Districts and one seat at-large. Nine other states mixed representation after the 1870 census.[8] Indifference to equal population allowed redistricting to be bypassed. Because there was no Congressional reapportionment after the 1920 census, only four of 48 states did any Congressional redistricting prior to the 1922 election. When additional Congressional seats were apportioned to a state, the need to redistrict was sometimes postponed or skipped altogether by electing the additional seat(s) at-large. The number of at-large seats nationwide regularly spiked up in the election following the census reapportionment year and diminished in subsequent elections as redistricting was achieved. Had Utah prevailed in 2002 to capture a North Carolina’s seat, the additional seat could have been an at-large seat.[9] Similar problems arose after the 1990 census when a Federal court stuck down Florida’s 3rd Congressional District as excessively racially gerrymandered. As a quick fix one suggestion was to revert to the pre-census districts and to make the additionally apportioned four congressional seats at-large statewide.[10]

Internal At-Large Districts – Another approach used was internal at-large districts, sometimes called multi-member or plurality districts. A state with several representatives designated an area as a single district with a number of seats. This was first done in 1792. Massachusetts divided its fourteen seats into three Congressional Districts; two with four and one with two representatives; one representative was at-large statewide. Maine was part of Massachusetts in 1792 and was treated as a single district with three internal at-large representatives.[11] Massachusetts went to fourteen single-member Congressional Districts in 1794. In 1796 Pennsylvania made eleven single-member districts and one two-member district. After the 1800 census Pennsylvania was apportioned eighteen representatives, redistricted into eleven districts: seven were single-member; one was two-member; and three were three-member districts. Maryland also placed two of its nine representative in a two-member district. New York experimented with six two-member districts after the 1810 census. After 1830 the practice declined and it ceased after 1840.

Apportionment – Apportionment is the process whereby the members of the U.S. House are allocated among the states. “Representatives shall be apportioned among the several states … according to their numbers.”[12] The number of Representatives and the method of apportionment are not specified. Thus, there is an Appropriation Law approved by Congress in association with each census. It specifies the number of Representatives, the method of apportioning them among the states and the number each state shall receive. The size of the U.S. House changed regularly until reaching 435 members in 1910. The size of the House increased to 437 members when Alaska and Hawaii became states in 1958 but returned to 435 after the next census. Congress must choose from five known methods to apportion its members among the states. The Huntingdon Method has been used since 1950.[13] It first assigns one seat to each state and then distributes the remaining 385 seats. Although there has not been great controversy over this step, there is some. Utah contended in 2002 in a Supreme Court challenge that Congress erred in apportioning to the states and that Utah should have received a 4th seat that was mistakenly assigned to North Carolina.[14] The court ruled against Utah.


Republican Form – The Founders determined to “guarantee to every State a Republican Form of Government.[15]” This meant first that no state could have a monarchy; and secondly, of the many types of democracy conceivable, one that employed some form of elective representation was required. The specific design of a state’s “republican form” would be addressed outside of the U.S. Constitution. How many state representatives would there be; how would the representatives be chosen; how many branches and houses would there be; what qualifications might be there be for office; what would be the degree of and means of accountability; how would authority be granted or limited; what would be the state’s scope of responsibility; how much staff support would there be; what would be their compensation; what would be their privileges of office, and so on?

Initial Representation – Representation in the U.S. House shall be recalculated every ten years after the census beginning in 1790.[16] With no census data in 1787, the Founders agreed to 65 Representatives for the First Congress apportioned among the states as follows in Table 1.
Table 1



New Hampshire




Rhode Island




New York


New Jersey










North Carolina


South Carolina






Apportionment Ratio – The U.S. House would now have over 9500 members, if the ratio of one Representative to each 30,000 of population were still used. But the Constitution says, “at least 30,000,”[17] which gives Congress the authority to adjust its number of members. Fear of loss of influence because of heavy immigration and rural to urban migration motivated rural interests to stall the 1920 apportionment legislation for nearly a decade. Table 2[18] is a History of Apportionment of the U.S. House seats to each state after every census. Table 3[19] shows the History of Apportionment in terms of the Changes. Twelve U.S. House seats changed states after the 2000 census. The number of seats that change after each census will slow as each district grows to represent greater population. With growth geographic population density disparities will moderate, making the threshold for moving Congressional Districts among the states increasingly difficult to achieve. Table 4 shows Apportionment of House seats assuming Uniform Population Density across the entire U.S. Although uniform population density is not likely to occur, this table provides a glimpse of future possibilities. For example, it is very unlikely that Colorado would ever grow to exceed thirteen Representatives; and if this happens, it will not occur for many decades.

Table 2


Table 3


Table 4


Genesis of Parties – Aware of the difficulties they caused in British government, the Founders opposed political parties and naively anticipated that there would be none in the U.S. Evidence of their error soon surfaced in the form of increasing friction between the members of George Washington’s superstar cabinet. Believing that Washington too frequently sided with Alexander Hamilton, Thomas Jefferson resigned his post as the nation’s first Secretary of State in December 1793.[20]

The friction did not end there. Alarmed at Washington’s choice of John Adams to be his successor, Jefferson opposed Adams for the presidency in 1796 and 1800. The election of 1800 is called the “Revolution of 1800,”[21] referring to the first peaceful transfer of power between ideological opponents. Adams left in the night before Inauguration to avoid meeting Jefferson. Both the military and the judiciary had become heavily populated with Federalists. During the eighteen months that the Alien and Sedition Acts were in force 25 writers, publishers and printers were prosecuted[22] and ten were imprisoned for making statements against the government. They were freed and their fines returned in 1801. In his first inaugural address on March 4, 1801, Jefferson called for less partisanship. “Every difference of opinion is not a difference of principle. We have called by different names brethren of the same principle. We are all republicans; we are all federalists.”[23]

Text Box:   Elections are Destabilizing – The tension of the two-party doctrine identifies popular sovereignty with choice, and then limits choice to one party or the other.   Defenders of the closed-two-party system argue that it provides stability.  If stability is the critical measure, then their logic would weigh equally in favor of a monarch, a dictator, an aristocracy, or a one-party system. Such alternatives are absurd and fundamentally undemocratic.  Democracy is a relative term.  More citizen-control is generally better than less.  Democratically mature societies are more capable of keeping the stress of political conflict within a rational perspective.  No American was willing to harm himself or others over whether Gore or Bush became president.  The same maturity has yet to develop in younger democracies.  Who should decide how much democracy is right?  Believers in self-government owe gratitude to John Adams and Alexander Hamilton, defeated-Federalists, for their actions during the GERRYMANDERING

Text Box: Figure 1. Gerrymandered district as published in the Boston Gazette, March 26, 1812. Origin – As quickly as the U.S. decided to have Congressional Districts, the controversy about how to create them began. The reality of two competing parties was alive. The Democratic-Republicans (Jeffersonians) advocated the polar-opposite perspective to the Federalists (Hamiltonians). Elbridge Gerry, Democratic-Republican, signer of the Declaration of Independence, delegate to the U.S. Constitutional Convention, and fifth Vice President of the U.S. was Governor of Massachusetts. The Democratic-Republicans controlled the Massachusetts legislature and “packed”[24] known pockets of Federalist voters into a state senate district. This left a long meandering narrow Democratic-Republican district surrounding the Federalist district. Gerry disliked the district, but refused to veto it. The Federalist press likened the shape to a salamander and initiated the term “gerrymander.” [25]

How Gerrymandering Works – Consider a hypothetical state with ten districts. The Blue Party accounts for 41% of voters; the Yellow Party has 59%. If the Blue Party controls redistricting, it can maximize the number of Blue representatives by concentrate eight districts with 51% Blue voters. On the other hand, if the Yellow Party controls redistricting, the number of Yellow representatives can be exaggerated by “packing” the Blues into a few districts. This might yield four safe Blue and six safe Yellow districts. The Yellows may also “dilute” Blue representation by creating ten districts, each with 41% Blue population. At-large districts would yield ten seats for the Yellows.
TABLE 5[26]

Blue Population per District

Population Representatives












Blue %

Yellow %

Blue Seats

Yellow Seats




















Blues Packed

100% 100% 100% 100% 10%

















Blues Diluted


41% 41% 41% 41% 41% 41% 41% 41% 41% 41%





The potential effect of gerrymandering is not trivial. Blue’s 41% of the population might yield anywhere from zero to eight representatives out of ten. As long as gerrymandering is permitted, control of redistricting will have more influence on election outcomes than any other factor, including voters.

Gerrymanders also ply their talents locally. That is, the gerrymander can insure that Sally Smith ends up with a district friendly or unfriendly to her election. “Representative Peter Deutsch (D-Florida) chaired the Congressional redistricting committee in 1992, when he drew himself a House seat.”[27] It appears that Florida’s redistricting committee chairman in 2001, state Representative Mario Diaz-Balart, will also soon become a Congressman.[28] In North Carolina, “the chairman of the state redistricting committee is running for a new congressional seat that he himself mapped out.”[29] In 45 states redistricting is the domain of the state legislature.[30] The conflict of interest is brutally obvious when legislators are allowed to determine their own districts. To the extent that political parties cooperate and compromise with each other, the process degenerated into a conspiracy against competitive elections, undermining the notions of representation and accountability. At least 80% of the 80 state house seats in California will be “safe” as a byproduct of redistricting: 38 “safe” Democratic and 27 “safe” Republican.[31]

Gerrymandering Sensitivity – The example illustrated in Table 5 shows the possibilities when 41% of the voters favor the Blues. Figure 2 shows the effect of Blue-Controlled redistricting versus Yellow-Controlled redistricting as the percent of voters loyal to Blues varies. This illustration reveals that control over the redistricting process can result in a swing in representation of about five out of ten seats (50%).

Figure 2. The effect of redistricting control on the number of seats elected.

In the real world the gerrymander’s mission is complicated by additional variables: about one-third of voters are not affiliated to either party; about half of affiliated voters are not loyal to their party; 1% does not provide sufficient margin of risk protection for fixing elections; voter loyalties are not clearly identifiable or conveniently concentrated. That said, the concept holds true and gerrymandering at the beginning of the 21st century is as serious a problem as it has ever been in American history and he who control redistricting has an enormous advantage.

Redistricting Rules – Redistricting was a state-right. Federal Apportionment Statutes did not attempt to impose gerrymandering uniformity rules until 1842. That law required contiguous single-member districts. The contiguity requirement was the first Federal effort to reign in gerrymandering. No longer could a state use disconnected pieces to make up districts. The 1872 Act added the requirement: “nearly equal population.”[32] “Nearly equal” is not the same as “equal” and morphed into a subjective term. In 1901 the word “compact” appeared for the first time as a districting criteria. The Voting Rights Act of 1965 was one of many reforms during the Civil Rights Movement. It prohibits practices that “dilute the effectiveness of votes cast by racial and ethnic minorities” and prevents practices “designed to make it difficult for racial minorities to elect candidates of their choice.”[33] Redistricting has evolved from state-control to Congressional-control to court-control.

Malapportionment – Malapportionment is the process of creating districts with unequal populations. Although Federal law required equal population districts beginning in 1872, districts did not become equal in population until the Baker v. Carr[34] Supreme Court ruling of 1962. The logic of “proportionate share of political influence”[35] easily evolved to “one person, one vote,” when contrasted with outrageous population disparities. Tennessee had not redrawn its state legislative districts in over 50 years. Population migration from rural to urban setting resulted in over-representation of rural areas and under-representation of urban areas: de facto pro-rural/anti-urban gerrymandering. Baker v. Carr applied to Congressional and state legislative districts, but more importantly the court intervened, asserting jurisdiction as a “political concern.” Baker v. Carr distinguished, “the defense of political rights from imprudent intervention into political disputes.”[36] In 1946 the court had refused to consider, on the grounds that redistricting was a political concern outside the court’s jurisdiction, the Colegrove v. Green[37] case in which neighboring Illinois Congressional districts had population disparities of 8:1. In the summer of 1964, 130 resolutions and bills were introduced to restore Congressional jurisdiction over redistricting.[38] None passed. Remarkably similar to the Pope’s effort to invalidate the Magna Carta in 1216,[39] the actions of Congress illustrate that political institutions are incapable of reforming themselves and resist reform with every fiber of their might. The Baker v. Carr ruling was expanded by a flurry of court cases. The Reynolds v. Sims[40] case was against the Alabama practice used since 1901 whereby one-quarter of the population could elect a majority of state senators and representatives. Population variation between state house districts was as high as 41:1.[41] Chief Justice Warren wrote, “The weight of a citizen’s vote cannot be made to depend on where he lives. Legislators are elected by voters, not farms or cities or economic interests … The right to vote freely for the candidate of one’s choice is of the essence of a democratic society, and any restrictions on that right strike at the heart of representative government. And the right of suffrage can be denied by a debasement or dilution of the weight of a citizen’s vote just as effectively as by wholly prohibiting the free exercise of the franchise.”[42] Wesberry v. Sanders[43] reconciled a Georgia Congressional District population disparity of 3:1. Kirkpatrick v. Preisler tightened “nearly equal” to “no population variance is excusable without compelling evidence.”[44] In 2002 a Pennsylvania Court invalidated a Congressional redistricting plan supposedly because of a population disparity of 3/1000th of one percent.[45] Population equality, like continuity, has evolved to be a rigid objective redistricting criteria.


Color-Blind Society – In a truly color-blind society blacks and whites would be unaffected by race. All would consider the character, intellect, leadership and creativity of individual candidates and both blacks and whites would vote indiscriminately for candidates irrespective of race. In office the color-blind legislator would also advance color-blind policies. The same would hold for every race, nationality, religion, and ethnic group: Hispanics, Asian, Native American, Arab, Jew, Muslim, or Buddhist. This color-blind legislator would apply the same neutral values in formatting policy regarding other oppressed minorities; the disabled, obese, short, blind, baled, insomniac and asthmatic. The potential list of minorities is inexhaustible. Every conceivable trait of an individual personality might also be defined as an oppressed minority. Every possible combination of traits is another minority, each a potential victim of oppression. Even the context for traditional racial, religious and ethnic minorities is clouded as more families become inter-racial, inter-religious and inter-ethnic. Tiger Woods’ deflected focus from his ethnicity by labeling himself: Cablinasian (Caucasian, Black, Indian, and Asian). When America someday achieves this color-blind ideal, elected bodies will more closely approximate the demographic profile of the population. Congress will have more minorities, more women, more teachers and more engineers; and fewer attorneys and professional politicians.

America’s obsession with black racism is fueled by a history inconsistent with the Founding principles and the simple fact that the black minority is large (12% of U.S. population). How smaller minorities are handled will reveal how much has been learned from the sad and embarrassing plight of blacks. Are we truly as enlightened and compassionate as we convince ourselves we are?

Bad History – By the end of the Civil War, the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, ratified in 1868, stated that no law shall deny any citizen—determined now by birth or naturalization—the privileges of U.S. citizenship. This meant that the right to vote would not be denied or abridged to any male of 21 years of age. The 15th Amendment followed two years later, in an attempt to override state laws that directly prevented black suffrage. It stated that the right to vote would not be denied or abridged on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude. Laws disenfranchising blacks arose instituting poll taxes, literacy tests, vouchers of “good character” and disqualification for “crimes of moral turpitude.” These measures were successful at removing nearly all black legislators from state posts, and barring black voters from significant involvement for decades.[46] Figure 3 illustrates the disfranchisement of black voters following reconstruction that led to the elimination of black southern legislators by 1900, and the re-enfranchisement of black citizens after 1960.


Section 5 – Section 5 of the VRA lists sixteen states guilty of discriminatory redistricting practices. These states are required to submit redistricting plans for approval by the U.S. Justice Department. After the 1990 Census, North Carolina created a reapportionment plan with one of twelve Congressional Districts being a “majority-minority” district. Majority-minority means the majority of voters in that district are of a racial minority. But the Justice Department rejected the plan under the VRA stating that because 20% of North Carolina’s population was black, that North Carolina must have two majority-minority districts. This was the genesis of the infamous NC-12th Congressional District (Figure 5). It snaked along Interstate 85, occasionally ballooning out to capture pockets of black residents and, at times, remaining contiguous only at a single point. The district’s bizarre shape was challenged in Shaw v. Reno.[51] It was remanded by the U.S. Supreme Court to federal district court for review under strict scrutiny. The lower court upheld the shape, but the district was challenged again in 1996 in Shaw v. Hunt and the Supreme Court ruled against the shape.

Limits – The Shaw cases set an important historic voting rights precedent. It is possible to go too far in creating majority-minority districts. Voting rights observers eagerly await each successive court ruling for clearer direction as to how much racial gerrymandering is proper. A standard for compactness appears to be lacking, but a plausible means of reconciling apparently conflicting redistricting criteria has yet to be devised.

Black Representation – The VRA has resulted in greater numbers of black-majority districts and more black state legislators and U.S. Representatives. But whether these numbers have helped or hurt black representation is a different question. The VRA assumes that people vote racially. Gradual achievement of the color-blind ideal will reveal the impropriety of the assumption. “Is it better for political minorities to wield a modest amount of influence in many districts or substantial influence in only a few?” is the question posed by Columbia University political scientists in their work, “Do Majority-Minority Districts Maximize Substantive Black Representation in Congress?”[52] The professors found that dilution of minority influence in surrounding areas leads to an overall decrease in support for minority-sponsored legislation. Using regression they empirically determined that “Outside the South, substantive minority representation is best served by distributing black voters equally among all districts. In the South, the key is to maximize the number of districts with slightly less than a majority of black voters. We note that black candidates have a healthy chance of winning election outside majority-black districts and that the 65% rule enforced by the court is almost certainly too stringent; it dilutes rather than increases overall minority voting strength. Overall, maximizing the number of minority representatives does not, necessarily maximize minority representation.”[53] Another researcher interviewed all black members of the U.S. House in 1990 and concluded, “black representatives can win election outside majority-black districts by emphasizing issues important to their broad constituency and white representatives will advance some of the issues important to their black voters. A majority-minority districting strategy has only limited possibilities and multiracial districts offer the greatest avenue of advancing minority political interest.”[54] Craig Washington, black U.S. Representative from Texas in 1993, said, “If you have four districts in a state like Alabama, for example, with a sufficiently large black population to neutralize Republicans on some issues, and if you can create one black district by gathering up all the blacks, and in the process you lose the leverage that you had in the three other districts, then that’s foolish to me. Every time the one person votes for the things that the black community is for, the other three will probably vote against them.”[55] “Voices from within and without the civil rights community have begun to doubt the efficacy of majority-minority districts.”[56]

Contentment or Control – The U.S. has always had two dominant parties. Two major parties had far more support than other parties. The “winner-take-all electoral system ensures that we will have only two major parties.”[57] A major distinction between the 19th and 20th centuries is the movement to a closed-two-party system. The National Republican Party displaced the Federalist Party in 1820; the Whig Party replaced the National Republican Party and in 1854 the Republican Party replaced the Whigs.[58] Competition surfaced for the last time in the 1890’s when the Populist Party captured numerous Governor and Congressional seats. There has been no serious challenge to the two current major parties in over a century. Is this because of contentment or because two-party control?

Ballot Access – “The Democrats and Republicans, who control ballot access procedures, would have us believe that no major third party has emerged because the voters see no need for one. … voter apathy, low turnout and the decline in major party affiliation would seem to indicate otherwise.”[59] The parties have insulated themselves from competition with difficult and restrictive ballot access laws. There were no ballot access laws before 1888.[60] In 1924 a new party could reach the ballot in every state with 50,000 signatures, or 0.15% of voters.[61] A party can achieve the same thing in Russia now with about the same (0.15%) percentage. However, in the U.S in addition to the complexity of different requirements and deadlines in every state, the qualification requirement is estimated to have grown to over 3.5 million signatures,[62] about 3.5%, over 20 times more restrictive. The two parties do not impose similar restrictions upon themselves. “America’s ballot-access laws are so stringent, and third parties are repressed to such a degree, that the U.S. is probably in violation of the Copenhagen Meeting Document, an international agreement the U.S. signed in 1990.”[63] It states, “… respect the right of individuals and groups to establish, in full freedom, their own political organizations and provide such political parties and organizations with the necessary legal guarantees to enable them to compete with each other on the basis of equal treatment before the law and the authorities.” Billionaire, Ross Perot, spend hundreds of millions to overcome ballot access barriers, to mobilize disaffected voters, and to form the Reform Party. In 1992 he received 20 million votes, but no electoral votes. His staggering effort produced only minor shockwaves to the intransigent status quo.

Need for Competition – Closing off competition from third parties also closes off the two parties to new ideas, injuring them, the election process and the formation of viable and relevant public policies. The two parties need the threat of being displaced in order to be open to issues and ideas important to the people. Isolation from competition leads to electoral and policy stagnation. A USA Today/CNN/Gallup Poll found that “46% of Americans want to take on the two-party system”[64]
Voter Turnout – Observers lament the persistent decline in voter participation. “According to Census Bureau figures, almost 80% of the eligible population went to the polls from 1875 to 1892.”[65] Voter turnout is now less than 50%. Gridlock and low voter turnout are “signs of a two-party system that is not operating properly.”[66] The right of voters to abstain is as inherent as the voting right itself. Voter turnout critics see problems with the individuals who chose to not vote, but fail to recognize the deeper message sent by their refusal to vote. Efforts to make voting easier such as mail-in-ballots and early voting are good, but fail to address the serious problem that elections no longer matter.
Elections are Destabilizing – The two-party doctrine identifies popular sovereignty with choice, and then limits choice to one party or the other.[67] Defenders of the closed-two-party system argue that it provides stability. If stability were the critical measure, then their logic would weigh equally in favor of monarchy, dictatorship, aristocracy, or a one-party system. Such alternative forms are absurd and fundamentally undemocratic. Democracy is a relative term. More citizen-control is generally better than less. Democratically mature societies are more capable of keeping the stress of political conflict within a rational perspective. No American was willing to harm others or himself over the Gore or Bush vote-counting debacle. The same maturity is developing in younger democracies. Who should decide how much democracy is the right amount?

Believers in self-government owe gratitude to John Adams and Alexander Hamilton, defeated-Federalists, for their actions during the “Revolution of 1800.” This was the first example of peaceful transfer of political power between ideological opponents and teaches an invaluable lesson to other democracies and to subsequent generations. The U.S. might have gone down the path of violent civil conflict. But instead, the U.S. showed the world that elections are civilized tools for reconciling conflicts wisely.

Elections do fuel the same passions as violent conflicts. Election losers find no contentment in defeat. Therefore, every player who courageously congratulates his victor reinforces the legacy of Adams and advances the goals of civilized self-government for all people. Americans now share over 200 years of similar experiences. It seems trite, disingenuous and self-serving of those who suggest that more competitive elections would destabilize American society.


How Big? – As long as government is doles pork to its friends, the two parties must compete to determine the friends. This “modern spoil system” is the rationale for special interest campaign contributions as “investments.” Contributors are rewarded for investment. Some donors cover their odds by investing with both political parties. Privilege is financed at the expense of wise and fair public policy. Similar incentives were far less extreme in 1902 when all government combined consumed only 5.4%[68] of the nation’s wealth. The pork incentives worked and by 2002 combined outlays for federal, state and local governments consumed 32.1%[69] of the U.S. Gross Domestic Product. Over the last 100 years the U.S. economy has grown by 90 times; government has grown 5.9 times faster than the economy, to be 535 times bigger. Another source estimates consumption of the nation’s wealth at 43% and Nobel Prize Economist, Milton Friedman believes that 43% is low.[70] As government pork distribution grows, so do special interest campaign contributions. It would be unnatural indeed if enlarged rewards were not sought more aggressively with more funding. Counterbalancing systems that resist growth of the spoil system are inadequate.

Public Choice Theory – Every special privilege government grant does injury to every citizen. Though each tyranny is ever so small the net effect is not small and equates to a torturous death by a thousand cuts. Dr. James Buchanan earned the 1986 Nobel Prize in Economics for the development of “public choice theory.” The theory asserts that the behavior of political actors is predictable on economic grounds. That is, special interests succeed most when benefits are concentrated and costs are distributed widely. Public choice theory is proven by the disparity in testimony. In Colorado, “chances are 96% that a witness is a beneficiary”[71] of the bill. Before the U.S. Congress, a witness favors more spending over 99% of the time.[72]

Resistance is Futile – The cards are stacked such that even the fiscally restrained legislator is overwhelmed. In fact their willingness to resist diminishes with tenure. The spending that Federal legislators support increase by 8.5 times[73] after only 6 years of Federal service. It does not take long for them to learn that they can use the spoil-system to buy votes and media exposure with taxpayers’ dollars, a benefit of office that no challenger can match.

Election – The word election comes from the Latin electus meaning “to pick out” or “choose”. The dictionary defines election as: 1) The act or process of electing; The act or process of choosing a person for office, position, or membership by voting; An instance of the electorate’s exercising its function. 2) The fact or status of being elected.[74] All of these infer choice, competition, risk of losing and more. The data show that American elections no longer offer these elements. Lacking these features, Americans are fooled into believing that their votes matter.

Incumbent Protection Systems – Much has been written about the special advantages elected officials (especially Congresspersons) confer upon themselves to make challenges difficult. An abbreviated list of incumbent protection systems follows:

  • Pork to the home district. This type of pork takes the form of a museum, highway, disaster relief, etc. The impact on election competition is enormous.
  • Access to Media. They appear at every event, parade, disaster and catastrophe and are quoted. They orchestrate media coverage at will by releasing the results of a study, announcing a grant, calling for an investigation, or simply issuing a media advisory.
  • Name recognition. Over the span of election cycles, by repetitious drumbeat a name is conditioned into the psyche of voters.
  • Pork to special interests. Special interests reward a favorable voting record at election time with money and votes. Even a marginal voting record is preferred over an unknown challenger.
  • Closed Two-Party System. It insures that no third party or independent can mount a serious challenge.
  • “Safe” Districts. The two parties work together to minimize their respective election risk. It is better for the minor party to have a level of certainty regarding their base number of legislative seats.
  • Expensepaid District trips. Taxpayer-paid trips started in 1962 with three trips and increased gradually to become unlimited after 1977.[75]
  • Franking. This is a privilege that incumbent Congresspersons enjoy, whereby they send free mail to inform constituents. The average “frank” (from the Latin francus meaning free) allowance in 1995 was estimated at $109,000.[76] The frank rivals the average total funding a challenger is able to raise for the entire campaign.
  • Fundraising ability. U.S. House incumbents outspend challengers by five to one[77] and typically retain more in reserve for the next election than a challenger is likely to raise.
  • Constituent Services. Constituent service means bigger Congressional staffs. A single support person amounts to a taxpayer-paid re-election advocate. Before 1893 there were no personal staffs in the U.S. House. These grew to exceed 12,000[78] people in 1994. More constituent service safely secures more votes for the next election and leaves less time for the sticky business of legislating difficult policy issues. Less involvement in policy work also yields less exposure to voter accountability.

Imperial Congress – Table 6, U.S. House Turnover History, shows that Congress has become an aristocracy. The ratio of Representatives seeking reelection has increased
and their rate of reelection has also increased. Voters are increasingly obliged to return them to office hoping that they will recover pork due for taxes yielded. For most of history it was common for the number of freshmen in the U.S. House to exceed 50%. In 1842 the U.S. House had 74% freshmen. Total turnover in the second half of the 20th century has declined steadily to be less than 10%. The number of freshmen is an aggregate of all turnover factors. In addition to the occasional election loss, retirement, death, indictment, scandal and health are some of the other factors that elevate turnover numbers. As a matter of fact, losing an election is one of the smaller risk factors. “Many Congressmen feel that they’ve been elected for life. If they can control redistricting, stay alive and out of jail, they know that 99 times out of 100 they can have the job for as long as they want it,” said former representative James Coyne of Pennsylvania.[79]

Election year Prior # of memebers # who ran for re-elect # re-elected % of whole house who returned # members in this session # freshmen freshmen % of whole
1890 325 260 179 54.1 325 146 44.9
1892 325 264 208 62.6 356 148 41.6
1894 356 270 180 50.6 356 176 49.4
1896 356 288 210 58.8 356 146 41.0
1898 356 302 250 70.0 356 106 29.8
1900 356 303 268 75.1 356 88 24.7
1902 356 297 257 72.0 386 129 33.4
1904 386 338 303 78.5 386 83 21.5
1906 386 335 291 75.4 386 95 24.6
1908 386 354 310 79.3 386 76 19.7
1910 386 338 266 68.0 386 120 31.1
1912 386 341 280 64.4 435 155 35.6
1914 435 374 299 68.7 435 136 31.3
1916 435 400 351 80.7 435 84 19.3
1918 435 389 329 75.6 435 106 24.4
1920 435 385 314 72.2 435 121 27.8
1922 435 384 304 69.9 435 131 30.1
1924 435 401 357 82.1 435 78 17.9
1926 435 405 376 86.4 435 59 13.6
1928 435 404 364 83.7 435 71 16.3
1930 435 407 350 80.5 435 85 19.5
1932 435 392 271 62.3 435 164 37.7
1934 435 388 325 74.7 435 110 25.3
1936 435 388 340 78.2 435 95 21.8
1938 435 402 318 73.1 435 117 26.9
1940 435 407 361 83.0 435 74 17.0
1942 435 395 328 75.4 435 107 24.6
1944 435 405 357 82.1 435 78 17.9
1946 435 398 328 75.4 435 107 24.6
1948 435 400 317 72.9 435 118 27.1
1950 435 400 362 84.2 435 73 16.8
1952 435 389 354 84.4 435 81 18.6
1954 435 407 379 87.1 435 56 12.9
1956 435 411 389 89.4 435 46 10.6
1958 435 396 356 81.8 435 79 18.2
1960 435 405 375 86.2 435 60 13.8
1962 435 402 368 84.6 435 67 15.4
1964 435 397 344 79.1 435 91 20.9
1966 435 411 362 83.2 435 73 16.8
1968 435 409 396 91.0 435 39 9.0
1970 435 401 379 87.1 435 56 12.9
1972 435 390 365 83.9 435 70 16.1
1974 435 391 343 78.9 435 92 21.1
1976 435 384 368 84.6 435 67 15.4
1978 435 382 358 82.3 435 77 17.7
1980 435 398 361 83.0 435 74 17.0
1982 435 393 354 81.4 435 81 18.6
1984 435 409 390 90.1 435 45 10.3
1986 435 393 385 88.5 435 50 11.5
1988 435 409 402 92.4 435 33 7.6
1990 435 407 391 89.9 435 44 10.1
1992 435 368 325 74.7 435 110 25.3
1994 435 387 349 80.2 435 86 19.8
1996 435 384 361 83 435 74 17
1998 435 403 395 90.8 435 40 9.2
2000 435 401 392 90.1 435 43 9.9

Figure 4 shows turnover graphically. An aristocracy would have no turnover because of election defeats. Turnover in the British House of Lords, appointed for life, is virtually identical to turnover in the U.S. House. Thirty or forty fresh faces in a body of 435 and out of a population of 285 million people are hardly noticeable.

Figure 4. Freshmen in the U.S. House of Representatives.

The Full Federal Picture – Of the 435 seats in the U.S. House after the 1990 census, experts estimated that redistricting yielded about 100 competitive[80] seats nationwide. This means, of course, that 335 (or 77%) were not competitive. They were “safe” seats. These estimates are reinforced by the Landslide Index computed by the Center for Voting and Democracy. CVD defines landslide as a winning margin of 20%. In 2000 landslides occurred in 337 U.S. House races (77.5%).[81] Experts predict even more “safe” seats after the 2000 census redistricting is completed. “Amy Walter, the House analyst for the nonpartisan Cook Political Report, predicted that 50 seats will be contested by the parties in 2002.”[82] Mark Gersh, Democratic Party redistricting guru, predicted “50 to 55 competitive seats.”[83] Of the 105 seats from California, Texas and Illinois, no more than four or five races in those three states combined[84] are expected to be competitive. A mildly informed political observer should be able to accurately predict the outcome of 90% to 95% of the 2002 U.S. House races.

2002 Redistricting Manipulations – “The two major parties have once again carved up the United States into bizarre little fiefdoms.”[85] “Many of the new maps were created with the help of computer programs that allow parties to design, with pinpoint accuracy, advantageous districts.”[86] Professor Michael McDonald, a University of Illinois redistricting expert calls the Illinois map “probably the most egregious case of incumbent-protection gerrymandering in the history of the United States.”[87]

The notion of fairness and objectivity evades the redistricting process. The general shift of twelve seats (both after reapportionment in 1990[88] and again in 2000) from predominantly Democratic Party north and eastern states to predominantly Republican Party south and western states might predictably have strengthened the Republican Party in the U.S. House. After the 1990 census with a majority of 100 seats it was not so important to Democrats, but after 2000 the Republicans had a six-seat majority. Democratic Party strategists determined to negate this Republican advantage after 2000 through state redistricting. The Democratic National Committee budgeted $13 million to “minimize expected GOP gains”[89] by influence on state redistricting. Greg Speed, spokesman for the Democratic Party said, “Redistricting has been an incredible success so far for Democrats.”[90]

In West Virginia, the lone Republican Congressman will unexpectedly retain her seat because “two veteran Democrats declined to remake their own districts substantially.”[91] “Members (of Congress) are all concerned about making their districts better, even if they have good districts, said Rep. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio.”[92] When Brown threatened to run for governor against Republican Robert Taft, if he was not granted a “safe” seat, Taft made it clear that Brown’s Congressional seat was to remain “safe.”[93] In New York, “the goal is … to give as many legislators as possible seats so safe that nothing short of a murder indictment could pry them out of power.”[94] In Pennsylvania an incumbent Congressman opened a media campaign on behalf of his preferred district.[95] A typical tactic of the gerrymander is to place two incumbents of the same party in the same district. The longest serving U.S. House member from Michigan was expected to have a primary contest for the first time since 1964 because he was placed in the same district with another Democrat incumbent.[96] In Florida an incumbent Congressman hired a lobbyist to insure that he received his preferred district.[97] Congressmen in New York also hired lobbyists to help form a favorable district.[98] In effect politicians are choosing the constituencies they wish to represent. The realization that such events occur proves that politicians manipulate the redistricting process and that gerrymandering is as much a malignancy today as ever.

“If elected officials were half as imaginative at solving the problems voters care about as they are in perpetuating themselves in office, government would have a much better reputation and voters would be much less cynical.”[99]

Friction – It is only natural that the two parties have friction over redistricting, especially when gerrymandering is allowed. Friction is better than the alternative. Like children at play, tranquility should be the greatest concern. Less friction implies agreement and cooperation between political opponents, which ought to trouble all people interested in fair and competitive elections. Agreement between the parties to carve out “safe” seats is not an alternative to friction; it is a conspiracy against democracy.

Relief in the Courts – It is not the role of the courts to provide leadership for political reform when leadership is otherwise lacking. “In five states (Arizona, Hawaii, Idaho, New Jersey and Washington), Congressional redistricting is done by an independent commission. In remaining 45 states, redistricting is addressed by the legislature and the governors. When both houses of the legislature and the governor’s office are not controlled by the same party, an agreement often cannot be reached, and the redistricting map is then drawn by a court. … the political affiliation of the judges involved often makes a big difference.”[100] The naïve view is that the courts are objective, apolitical and above the political fray. Yet, in 2002 it appears that courts agree with redistricting when done by members of the same political party, and conversely: they change redistricting when the process was controlled by the opposite party. In Pennsylvania a Republican-created plan was overturned by a Democratic-controlled court.[101] In Michigan a Republican-created plan was upheld by a Republican-controlled court. And in Colorado a Democratic-created plan was upheld by a Democratic-controlled court. Redistricting problems invite the courts to enter the political realm and to exercise political will. Yielding to this temptation diminishes the stature of the court and compromises the court as fair arbiter for determining the rules of the political contest. Wise courts are well advised to stay clear of politics and to insist that redistricting be achieved with the utmost fairness and objectivity.

The Problem in the States – The problem of politicians creating “safe” seats for themselves is not limited to the U.S. House. Table 7 is a state-by-state itemization of the last five election cycles. “Safe” seats typically find a token opponent. But some seats are so safe that it is futile for anyone to bother. Of the roughly 6000 state legislative races nationwide elected in 1992, 1994, 1996, 1998, and 2000 one of the two major parties failed to field a candidate in 32.8%, 35.8%, 32.7%, 41.1%, and 40.6% respectively of those races. State-by-state detail data is presented in Table 7. In 1988 and 1990, 36.6% and 35.9% respectively of state legislative races were uncontested. [102]

In 1992 over half of the state legislative seats were uncontested in nine states, with Arkansas being the highest at 75.6%. In 1994, 1996, 1998, 2000 the number of states with over 50% uncontested state legislative races was twelve, six, fifteen, and eleven respectively.

In a North Carolina court case, plaintiffs submitted deposition testimony of John N. Davis, Executive Director of NCFREE, a nonpartisan organization, that has forecast North Carolina state election results since 1992. In 2000 Davis correctly predicted the outcome in 193 of 200 elections (96.5%).[103] Davis asserted that the number of competitive state senate seats had dropped from fourteen in 1992 to six in 2001 out of 50; and the number of competitive state house seats had dropped from 32 in 1992 to fourteen

in 2001 out of 120 seats. These percentages are strikingly similar to those for the U.S. House and are probably very similarly in most states. Defining a landslide win as 55:45, most Colorado state legislators win by landslides; specifically 83%, 80%, and 80% in 1994, 1996, and 1998 respectively.[104]


It is more comforting to believe that gerrymandering is a thing of the past, a political abuse long since corrected. But gerrymandering is alive and more severe than ever. In the early 1960’s, political scientists aware of computer capabilities forecasted an end to gerrymandering.[105] Columbia University Professor William Vickrey noted, “Whenever the drawing up of the boundaries is left even slightly to the discretion of an interested body, considerable latitude is left for the exercise of art.”[106] It was thought that technology would rescue society from partisan bickering avoiding unneeded criticism, court challenges, pressures and delays. The process would evolve to one of intellectual purity based on mathematically unique solutions.

Figure 5. 1812 gerrymander (left) and New York’s 12th Congressional District in 1992 (right)[107]

Figure 5 tells us that gerrymandering is as aggressive now as ever and that technology has made things worse, not better. The 1992 New York 12th Congressional District rivals the infamous 1812 Massachusetts gerrymander. The introduction of greater technological capabilities, coupled with the experience of 180 years has yielded the most sever gerrymandering of history. But New York is not alone. Other states display equal

Figure 7. Illinois’ 4th Congressional District in 1992[109]

excess with their 1992 districts. North Carolina is famous for creative work with the 1st and 12th Congressional Districts in 1992 (Figure 6). Not as well known, but easily as extreme was the job done with the Illinois 4th Congressional District in the same year (Figure 7). Figure 8 shows three Texas Congressional Districts (30th, 18th, and 29th) as gerrymandered in 1992 and in 1996 as less-gerrymandered subsequent to court actions.

the need for action. “New software has made it easier to draw more reliable electoral maps—i.e., to be more exact in your partisanship.”[114] New technology “has turned gerrymandering—sorry, redistricting—from an art into a science.”[115] “This time around, faster and cheaper computers have allowed more people with an interest in the outcome – such as House incumbents – to use that software for their own benefit.”[116]



The history of redistricting is essentially a story about correcting abuse by moving in the direction of harder-to-abuse, objective criteria. Subjective criteria, because they are judgment-dependent, will always be the victim of manipulation. Redistricting that is favorable to one group is equally injurious to others. Recognition of this reality is the basis for the current dilemma unveiled in recent court rulings against some VRA districts. Voting rights observers eagerly await successive ruling for guidance. The Court seems equally frustrated at the lack of more objectivity.

The foregoing discussion proves that the U.S. has severe election problems. Defining the problem correctly is half of the solution to the problem. The political realm seems so intransigent and so resistant to change that it might intentionally misdefining the problem in order to avoid the remedy. As James Madison said, “the truth is that all men having power ought to be mistrusted.” Beginning with Madison’s view leaves room for the occasional refreshing surprise of enlightened proactive political leadership.

The Broader Perspective – To focus strictly on redistricting cures, presupposes important questions. These are not mutually exclusive, meaning that any one or all can be implemented independently. None precludes the other. Any combination is viable. In addition to redistricting reforms, a hard look should be given to:

  • End the modern pork-barrel spoil-system.
  • Devolve government service.
  • Reduce the cost of government services.
  • Consider alternative representation systems.
  • Do no harm.
  • Reconsider ballot access restrictions.
  • Enlarge citizen participation systems.

Pork-barrel spoil-system – Voters are rational. The vast majority live without constant concern over personal injury, that political zealots might cause them. The freedom to focus on things relevant to their lives is positive. Political systems requiring less direct citizen-supervision would be viewed by most as an improvement.

Issues of true national concern are not particularly contentious. The two parties regularly form a unified front on national security, foreign policy, law enforcement, judicial administration, terrorism, trade, the economy, and more. Ideological differences about details stimulate debate and compromise to improve outcomes.

Petty partisan friction is more often than not over the distribution of spoils. The majority party takes credit for getting spoils to the right place. The minority party counters by pointing out the outrageous waste of taxpayer funds. These spoils are the “free money” boondoggles that would not happen except for “free money.” That these boondoggles would not happen without “free money” is proof that their value is less than their cost. Thus, all citizens are injured and are society more impoverished by “free money.” A system with less pork would enrich all. Deciding the special interest that should be winners or losers in the contest for pork is not the most important task of elected officials. Their talent and leadership should be freed to focus on important policy questions. Fewer spoils would leave less reason for partisan friction and diminish the incentive for aggressive gerrymandering.

The Founders warned that the natural course was for more power and control to gravitate to the central government. This is the reason they wrote a constitution that rigidly decentralized government functions. Irrespective of the forewarning and constitutional limitations, government has become too large and too centralized. Devolution, decentralization and privatization would free elected officials from the burden of the spoil system to do the job of setting important public policies that protect and improve the lives of the people.

Devolve government services – The implications of government redistribution policies would be lessened by devolving services to the lower levels. This will empower citizens with more customization of the services they elect to have. Congress’s conflict of interest to move in this direction raises questions about methods and systems to implement such policy, or for that matter any policy Congress does not like.

Reduce the cost of government services – When government services are privatized, individual taxpayers have more money, because of less tax, and individual consumers are empowered to use or not use the services they wish.

Alternative representation systems – The perception that single-member small geographic winner-take-all district elections are the only or best alternative should be challenged for what it is: an assumption. There is not sufficient knowledge or experience for informed evaluation. There are many ways to rethink how votes are counted, whether geography is more or less important than other factors, and whether larger districts with more representatives might result in better representation or better public policy. The alternative systems are too-many to discuss and consider in this work. Experimentation and objective evaluation of the effectiveness of every conceivable election innovation is encouraged. Such experimentation is easiest to first implement and observe at the local government level. Also, the risk of damage is lessened, isolated and more easily corrected at this level.

For more information about alternative systems, visit Elections: Results and Voting Systems at http://www.barnsdle.demon.co.uk/vote/vote.html or The Center for Voting and Democracy at www.fairvote.org. Books by Douglas J. Amy entitled Behind the Ballot Box: A Citizen’s Guide to Voting Systems and Real Choices/New Voices and The International IDEA Handbook of Electoral System Design by the international Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance are helpful tools in learning the functions of different electoral systems.

Do No Harm – Once there is common recognition of a problem, exuberance sometimes overshadows reason. The popularity of campaign finance limitations falls into this category of issues. The false assumption is that all parties will abide by the law and the influence of special interests will diminish, ultimately lead to better policy. Is it possible that CFR increases the advantage of incumbents over challengers? By what stretch of logic do people believe that Congress would pass any law that would give more advantage to their challengers than to themselves? In achieving the goal of a more level playing field so that there may be more competitive elections to gain greater citizen representation and better policy, CFR as it is currently conceived probably tips the field more in favor of incumbents and therefore is the wrong direction.

Reconsider Ballot Access Restrictions – All ballot access restrictions were put in place masked as needed reforms. Many of these do more harm than good and some may do no good whatsoever. These restrictions should be reviewed from the vantage of open, free and competitive elections. The method of modifying or lifting these is unclear, because of the hostility that state and federal legislators of both political parties have for political reform. Perhaps well-healed patriotic citizens will step forward in the exercise of the citizen initiative petition process in those states that allow it.

Enlarge citizen participation systems – Citizen involvement in government is a critical aspect of self-government that is under-appreciated and under-exercised. Citizen participation systems, such as the Initiative and Referendum process, merit considerable expansion. Systems that capture the right information at the right time and motivate good and timely legislation are pre-embryonic in development. Innovative students of democracy should exercise creativity to conceive and implement new and better systems. Systems that tap the vast wealth of knowledge and experience of the masses will evolve and will improve governance and will make the jobs of legislators less difficult.



Redistricting Reforms – Changes in the way districts are formed must be implemented immediately. In short, the fox must be removed from the henhouse. The political community must be disconnected from redistricting. Non-partisan or bi-partisan citizen commissions are insufficient. The Arizona model is a commission of two Democrats, two Republicans and one mutually agreed tiebreaker. This approach concedes that the process is and must continue to be politically dominated. When confronted with reform questions, the Arizona model degenerates to four partisans ganging up on one possible reformer. Worse, it concedes to subjective criteria and human judgment. As one of the five most reform-minded states, Arizona does not go far enough.

  • Install the Iowa System. “Iowa … draws the lines without referring to voter registration or even to where the state’s politicians live.”[117] The process of considering where an incumbent resides makes that a high priority redistricting criteria. It makes the process unnecessarily complicated and forces gerrymandering to accommodate incumbents. In effect this gives a heavier weight to incumbent residency than to rational formation of districts.
  • Install the Minnesota System. In many states senators are elected for 4-year terms with half of the senate elected every 2 years. In Minnesota senators elected in the census year serve a 2-year term so that the entire senate is elected from new districts after redistricting. The converse, the Colorado system, attempts to retain half of the senate in their districts while district boundaries change. This forces the redistricting process to consider where senators live and gives a heavier weight to the senator serving a full 4-year term than to the citizens choosing who should represent them.
  • “Nesting” should be considered. “Nesting” is the process of incorporating some districts completely within others. For example, a state with seven Congressional Districts and 35 state senators would first make its Congressional Districts and then make five state senate districts within each of the Congressional Districts. Among the benefits is that the messy task of redistricting is lessened.
  • Adopt and rigidly apply objective criteria. Objective criteria are those that are based upon fact and can be applied without the exercise of judgment. It took many years to fully implement the notion of equal population districts. Continuity is another objective criteria that initially did not exist, but was adopted and became accepted as a proper redistricting norm. Compactness should be added to the list of objective redistricting criteria.
  • Add Compactness as an objective redistricting criteria. Compactness, first mentioned in Federal law in 1901, has been clay in the hands of the gerrymander. Also required in many state constitutions, compactness sinks as a priority when it conflicts with the aims of the gerrymander. This conflict provides a clue. In order to gerrymander, compactness must be ignored. Installing compactness as another objective redistricting criteria would end gerrymandering.
  • Use technology to reduce gerrymandering. Eventually, possibly before the 2010 census, redistricting software will have the ability to create, evaluate, and compare a sufficiently large number of redistricting alternatives to insure that the most compact plan is found. Currently these software programs are effective at evaluating alternative plans. They should be used to apply a compactness measurement method.[118] Then the redistricting commission must be bound to select and implement the most compact plan.
  • Create positive incentives. Currently redistricting plans are devised and subsequently seek citizen input. Each political party uses redistricting software in private to find gerrymandered plans that benefit them. Then, they submit a plan to the redistricting commission. Any citizen should have an equal right to develop and introduce a plan. When the commission is obliged to implement the most compact plan, the citizenry will serve as a check against the possibility of both parties working together in private to create a mutually beneficial plan.

That things might stay the same or continue to regress is absurd. Soviet elections were less hypocritical. They made no pretense about being fair or competitive. Defenders of the status quo align themselves with Benito Mussolini, who said, “Give me the right to nominate and you can vote for whomever you please.” The many lawsuits about to transpire over 2001 redistricting will serve as a reminder that reform is needed.


Redistricting has come to mean gerrymandering. Gerrymandering is as widespread and as energetic today as it has ever been in U.S. history. The arrival of new technology has empowered the gerrymander. Under the control of politicians, redistricting is the most significant and controllable variable for predetermining the outcome of elections. Fewer elections are in doubt. To restore integrity to representative self-government in America:

  • Control of the redistricting process by the “political community” must cease.
  • Political criteria for redistricting, such as party, race, ethnicity and other demographic criteria and the incumbent’s place of residence must be replaced with objective criteria, such as equal population, continuity, and compactness.
  • Modern technology using rigidly applied objective redistricting criteria must be used to end gerrymandering.
  • The efficacy of single-member districts should be questioned. A wide array of alternative systems of voting and of representation merit experimentation and objective evaluation. These experiments may be most effective first at the local government level.
  • The rewards for gerrymandering should be diminished. Less tax money should be available for politicians to fund the current pork-barrel spoil-system.

Apportionment – Apportionment is the process of determining the number of Congressional Districts that each state shall have.

At-Large – At-Large representatives are elected from the full population of a state. When the first Congress was elected in 1788, the U.S. Constitution specified the number of representatives from each state. All representatives from each state were elected “At-Large” in 1788.

Cumulative Voting (CV) – Cumulative Voting is a system that allows the voter to express the strength with which they favor or oppose certain candidates. It is used in a multimember district. Each voter has many votes and may allocate them however desired among the candidates, including giving all votes to one candidate, distributing them among several candidates, or not using all of them.

Democracy – Democracy is a form of government in which a substantial proportion of the citizenry directly or indirectly participates in ruling the state.

Districting – Districting is the process of dividing a state or an area into districts. After the Congressional seats are apportioned among the states, each state divides itself into districts.

Gerrymander – Gerrymandering is the process of dividing a political unit into election districts to give a political party or interest group greater advantage.

Instant Runoff Voting (IRV) – Voters mark their priority preferences for candidates. The poorest showing candidate is eliminated from the list and those votes are reallocated to other candidates based on the voter’s second preferences. The process is continued until one candidate achieves a majority.

Malapportionment – Malapportionment is the process of apportionment where populations are not made to be equal between districts.

Majority-Minority District – A district in which a majority of the voters are of a minority; generally a racial or ethnic minority. Some sources use the term Minority-Majority or Black-Majority to mean the same.

Plurality District – A plurality district is an Internal At-Large district. It is a district that is represented by more than a single elected official.

Proportional Representation (PR) – Parties are allocated legislative seats in proportion to the share of the vote the party receives.

Representation – Representation, in politics, is the process by which one person stands or acts for a larger number of individuals in formulating the policies and operations of a government.

Safe Seat – A “safe” seat or safe district is one in which the outcome of an election is effectively predetermined because the party affiliation of voters in the district is sufficiently large to insure the outcome.

Voting Rights Act (VRA) – The VRA, a byproduct of the Civil Rights movement, became law in 1965 and protected the right of African American citizens to register and vote.

[1] “Redistricting Battles Come Down to Personal Issues as Well as Political.” By David Espo, Associated Press, June 18, 2002.

[2] Grolier Multimedia Encyclopedia, Deluxe Edition, 2000.

[3] Grolier Multimedia Encyclopedia, Deluxe Edition, 2000.

[4] Grolier Multimedia Encyclopedia, Deluxe Edition, 2000.

[5] “Behind the Ballot Box: A Citizen’s Guide to Voting Systems,” by Douglas J. Amy, Praeger, Westport, CT, 2000, p. 28.

[6] Baker v. Carr, 369 U.S. 186 (1962).

[7] “Oklahoma Plan May Force At-Large House Races,” by Chris Cillizza, Campaigns and Elections Magazine, May 1, 2002.

[8] “The Historical Atlas of U.S. Congressional Districts,” by Kenneth Martis, Macmillan Publishing Company, 1984, p. 5.

[9] “Oklahoma Plan May Force At-Large House Races,” by Chris Cillizza, Campaigns and Elections Magazine, May 1, 2002.

[10] “Oklahoma Plan May Force At-Large House Races,” by Chris Cillizza, Campaigns and Elections Magazine, May 1, 2002.

[11] “The Historical Atlas of U.S. Congressional Districts,” by Kenneth Martis, Macmillan Publishing Company, 1984, p. 52.

[12] U.S. Constitution, Article I, Section 2.

[13] “Congressional Redistricting: Comparative and Theoretical Perspectives,” by David Butler and Bruce Cain, Macmillan Publishing Company, 1992, p. 18.

[14] “Oklahoma Plan May Force At-Large House Races,” by Chris Cillizza, Campaigns and Elections Magazine, May 1, 2002.

[15] U.S. Constitution, Article IV, Section 4.

[16] U.S. Constitution, Article I, Section 2.

[17] U.S. Constitution, Article I, Section 2.

[18] Assembled primarily from data available in “The Historical Atlas of Political Parties in the United States Congress 1789-1989,” by Kenneth C. Martis, Macmillan Publishing Company, New York, 1989.

[19] Assembled primarily from data available in “The Historical Atlas of Political Parties in the United States Congress 1789-1989,” by Kenneth C. Martis, Macmillan Publishing Company, New York, 1989.

[20] “Thomas Jefferson – A Life,” by Willard Sterne Randall, 1993, Henry Holt & Company, P. 510.

[21] “The Federal Union,” by Hicks, Mawry and Burke, 1964, Houghton Mifflin Company, P. 302.

[22] “Thomas Jefferson – A Life,” by Willard Sterne Randall, 1993, Henry Holt & Company, P. 537.

[23] “Thomas Jefferson – A Life,” by Willard Sterne Randall, 1993, Henry Holt & Company, P. 548.

[24] “Bushmanders and Bullwinkles,” by Mark Monmonier, University of Chicago Press, 2001, p. 1.

[25] “Bushmanders and Bullwinkles,” by Mark Monmonier, University of Chicago Press, 2001, p. 2.

[26] Table is modified from “Congressional Redistricting: Comparative and Theoretical Perspectives,” by David Butler and Bruce Cain, 1992, Macmillan Publishing Company, p. 77.

[27] “A look at Florida Redistricting,” by John Mercurio, Campaigns and Elections Magazine, Feb. 7, 2002.

[28] “Familiar Faces of 2000 Recount Line up for Seats in Congress,” by Mark Silva, Orlando Sentinel, July 15, 2002.

[29] “How to Rig an Election,” staff, The Economist, April, 27, 2002.

[30] “As Redistricting Unfolds, Parties Leverage Power to Get More of It,” by David E. Rosenbaum, Campaigns and Elections Magazine, 2002.

[31] “Choosing a Future California Assembly,” by William Saracino, California Political Review, April 2002, p. 23.

[32] “The Historical Atlas of U.S. Congressional Districts,” by Kenneth Martis, Macmillan Publishing Company, 1984, p. 7.

[33] “Full Representation,” by Bob Holmes, Goro O. Mitchell, and Robert Richie, Southern Center for Studies in Public Policy and Center for Voting and Democracy, 2001, p. 2.HoHH

[34] Baker v. Carr, 369 U.S. 186 (1962).

[35] “Voting Rights and Redistricting in the United States” by Mark E. Rush, Greenwood Press, 1998, p. 37.

[36] “Congressional Redistricting: Comparative and Theoretical Perspectives,” by David Butler and Bruce Cain, Macmillan Publishing Company, 1992, p. 27.

[37] Colegrove v. Green, 328 U.S. 549 (1946).

[38] “Congressional Redistricting: Comparative and Theoretical Perspectives,” by David Butler and Bruce Cain, Macmillan Publishing Company, 1992, p. 28.

[39] www.iamm.com/uni-uni/caselaw.etc/magnacar.htm

[40] Reynolds v. Sims, 377 U.S. 533 (1964).

[41] “Voting Rights and Redistricting in the United States” by Mark E. Rush, Greenwood Press, 1998, p. 23.

[42] Reynolds v. Sims, 377 U.S. 533 (1964).

[43] Wesberry v. Sanders, 376 U.S. 1 (1964).

[44] Kirkpatrick v. Preisler, 394 U.S. 526 (1969).

[45] “Pennsylvania Redistricting Ruling Upheld,” by Steven Ertelt, Campaigns and Elections Magazine, April 12, 2002.

[46] “Before the Voting Rights Act,” U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, online at http://www.usdoj.gov/crt/voting/intro/intro_a.htm

[47] “The Effect of the Voting Rights Act,” U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, online at http://www.usdoj.gov/crt/voting/intro/intro_c.htm

[48] “Full Representation,” by Bob Holmes, Goro O. Mitchell, and Robert Richie, Southern Center for Studies in Public Policy and Center for Voting and Democracy, 2001, p. 2.HoHH

[49] “Full Representation,” by Bob Holmes, Goro O. Mitchell, and Robert Richie, Southern Center for Studies in Public Policy and Center for Voting and Democracy, 2001, p. 2.

[50] “Do Majority-Minority Districts Maximize Substantive Black Representation in Congress?” by Charles Cameron, David Epstein, and Sharyn O’Halloran, American Political Science Review, Vol. 90, No. 4, December 1996, p. 810.

[51] Shaw v. Reno, 113 U.S. 2816 (1993).

[52] “Do Majority-Minority Districts Maximize Substantive Black Representation in Congress?” by Charles Cameron, David Epstein, and Sharyn O’Halloran, American Political Science Review, Vol. 90, No. 4, December 1996, p. 794.

[53] “Do Majority-Minority Districts Maximize Substantive Black Representation in Congress by Charles Cameron, David Epstein, and Sharyn O’Halloran, American Political Science Review, Vol. 90, No. 4, December 1996, p. 809.

[54] “Black Faces, Black Interest: the Representation of African Americans in Congress,” by Carol Swain, Harvard University Press, 1993.

[55] “Do Majority-Minority Districts Maximize Substantive Black Representation in Congress?” by Charles Cameron, David Epstein, and Sharyn O’Halloran, American Political Science Review, Vol. 90, No. 4, December 1996, p. 798.

[56] Do Majority-Minority Districts Maximize Substantive Black Representation in Congress?” b by Charles Cameron, David Epstein, and Sharyn O’Halloran, American Political Science Review, Vol. 90, No. 4, December 1996, p. 798.

[57] “The Importance of Ballot Access,” by Richard Winger, 1994, Massachusetts School of Law.

[58] “The Importance of Ballot Access,” by Richard Winger, 1994, Massachusetts School of Law.

[59] “The Barriers to Third Parties,” by Editor, October 9, 1995, Rocky Mountain News.

[60] “The Importance of Ballot Access,” by Richard Winger, 1994, Massachusetts School of Law.

[61] “The Importance of Ballot Access,” by Richard Winger, 1994, Massachusetts School of Law.

[62] “Obstacles Litter Perot’s Path,” by Tony Snow, October 2. 1995, USA Today.

[63] “The Importance of Ballot Access,” by Richard Winger, 1994, Massachusetts School of Law.

[64] “Obstacles Litter Perot’s Path,” by Tony Snow, October 2. 1995, USA Today.

[65] “The Importance of Ballot Access,” by Richard Winger, 1994, Massachusetts School of Law.

[66] “The Importance of Ballot Access,” by Richard Winger, 1994, Massachusetts School of Law.

[67] “The Tyranny of the Two-party System,” by Lisa Jane Disch, Columbia University Press, 2002, p. 7.

[68] “Total Power of One in America,” by Fred Holden, Phoenix Enterprises, 1991, p. 386.

[69] “America Celebrates Tax Freedom Day,” Tax Foundation, April 2002, p. 2 & p. 10.

[70] “Gridlock in Government,” by Roger E. Meiners and Roger LeRoy Miller, Independence Institute, 1996, p. 15.

[71] “Who Testifies and Why,” by Dr. Barry Fagin, Independence Institute, Feb. 7, 2001, p. 1.

[72] “The Congressional Brainwashing Machine,” by J. Payne, Institute for Contemporary Studies, 1991, pp. 3-14.

[73] “The Longer They Stay, The More They Spend,” National Taxpayers Union, September 1, 1994.

[74] Webster’s Third New International Dictionary of the English Language, Unabridged, Merriam-Webster Inc., Publishers, 1993.

[75] “The End of Representation: How Congress Stifles Electoral Competition,” By Eric O’Keefe and Aaron Steelman, Cato Policy Analysis No. 279, August 20, 1997, p. 5.

[76] “The End of Representation: How Congress Stifles electoral Competition,” by Eric O’Keefe and Aaron Steelman, CATO Institute, August 20, 1997, p. 3.

[77] “How to Rig an Election,” staff, The Economist, April 27, 2002, p. 29.

[78] “Who Rules America: The People vs. The Political Class,” by Eric O’Keefe, Citizen Government Foundation, 1999, p. 33.

[79] James Coyne, letter to the New York Times, January 12, 1990.

[80] “Redistricting Creates Fewer House Battles Than Expected,” by Chris Cillizza, Campaigns and Elections Magazine, Oct. 24, 2001.

[81] www.fairvote.org

[82] “Redistricting Creates Fewer House Battles Than Expected,” by Chris Cillizza, Campaigns and Elections Magazine, Oct. 24, 2001.

[83] “Redistricting Creates Fewer House Battles Than Expected,” by Chris Cillizza, Campaigns and Elections Magazine, Oct. 24, 2001.

[84] “House Control Up For Grabs,” by David Espo, Campaigns and Elections Magazine, Jan. 20, 2002.

[85] “Redistricting Shifts Clout, But Plays it Safe,” by Liz Marlantes, The Christian Science Monitor, June 10, 2002.

[86] “Redistricting Shifts Clout, But Plays it Safe,” by Liz Marlantes, The Christian Science Monitor, June 10, 2002.

[87] “Redistricting Shifts Clout, But Plays it Safe,” by Liz Marlantes, The Christian Science Monitor, June 10, 2002.

[88] As Redistricting Unfolds, Parties Leverage Power to Get More of It,” by David E. Rosenbaum, Campaigns and Elections Magazine, August 13, 2001.

[89] “DNC Scales Back Redistricting Commitment,” by Ethan Wallison and John Mercurio, Campaigns and Elections Magazine, Jan. 24, 2002.

[90] “DNC Scales Back Redistricting Commitment,” by Ethan Wallison and John Mercurio, Campaigns and Elections Magazine, Jan. 24, 2002.

[91] “Redistricting Battles Come Down to Personal Issues as Well as Political.” By David Espo, Associated Press, June 18, 2002.

[92] “Redistricting Battles Come Down to Personal Issues as Well as Political.” By David Espo, Associated Press, June 18, 2002.

[93] “Redistricting Battles Come Down to Personal Issues as Well as Political.” By David Espo, Associated Press, June 18, 2002.

[94] “Time to Draw the Line,” by Editorial Staff, New York Times, May 11, 2002.

[95] “Members of Congress Fight Redistricting Battles,” by Chris Cillizza, Campaigns and Elections Magazine, Dec. 12, 2001.

[96] “Longest Serving Congressman Could Face Inter-party Challenge,” by Steven Ertelt, Campaigns and Elections Magazine, Jan. 2, 2002.

[97] “Florida Pols Hire Lobbyists to Help Protect Districts,” by Peter Wallstein, Miami-Herald, Nov. 28, 2001.

[98] “Redistricting Battles Come Down to Personal Issues as Well as Political.” By David Espo, Associated Press, June 18, 2002.

[99] “Pushing the Limits: California Legislators Try to Extend Their Terms — Again,” by John Fund, Wall Street Journal, June 12, 2002.

[100] As Redistricting Unfolds, Parties Leverage Power to Get More of It,” by David E. Rosenbaum, Campaigns and Elections Magazine, August 13, 2001.

[101] “Redistricting Challenges Heating Up,” by Robert Tanner, Associated Press National, May 6, 2002.

[102] “Ballot Access News,” by Richard Winger, Bx 470296, San Francisco CA 94147, 415-922-9779.

[103] Stephenson v. Bartlett, No. 94PA02, North Carolina Supreme Court, April 30, 2002, http://www.aoc.state.ne.us/www/public/sc/opinions/2002/094-02-1.htm

[104] “When Elections Are Not Elections,” by Dennis Polhill and David Ottke, Independence Institute, January 5, 2000.

[105] “Bushmanders and Bullwinkles,” by Mark Monmonier, The University of Chicago Press, 2001, p. 104.

[106] “Bushmanders and Bullwinkles,” by Mark Monmonier, The University of Chicago Press, 2001, p. 104.

[107] “Bushmanders and Bullwinkles,” by Mark Monmonier, The University of Chicago Press, 2001, p. 3.

[108] “Race, Redistricting, and Representation,” by David T. Canon, The University of Chicago Press, 1999, p.111.

[109] “How to Draw Redistricting Plans That Will Stand Up in Court,” by Peter S. Wattson, Minnesota Senate Counsel, October 3, 2001, p. 24.

[110] “How to Draw Redistricting Plans That Will Stand Up in Court,” by Peter S. Wattson, Minnesota Senate Counsel, October 3, 2001, p. 17.

[111] “How to Rig an Election,” staff, The Economist, April 27, 2002, p. 29.

[112] “How to Draw Redistricting Plans That Will Stand Up in Court,” by Peter S. Wattson, Minnesota Senate Counsel, October 3, 2001, p. 18.

[113] “How to Draw Redistricting Plans That Will Stand Up in Court,” by Peter S. Wattson, Minnesota Senate Counsel, October 3, 2001, p. 18.

[114] “How to Rig an Election,” staff, The Economist, April 27, 2002, p. 29.

[115] “How to Rig an Election,” staff, The Economist, April 27, 2002, p. 29.

[116] “House Incumbents Tap Census, software to Get a Lock on Seats.” By John Harwood, Wall Street Journal, June 19, 2002.

[117] “Time to Draw the Line,” by Editorial Staff, New York Times, May 11, 2002.

[118] Mathematicians have invented no less than two-dozen methods of measuring compactness. For more information about the various methods see: “Bushmanders and Bullwinkles,” by Mark Monmonier, The University of Chicago Press, 2001, p. 65.

By Dennis Polhill
CE 172 Urban Transportation Planning
Prof Matzzie

Table of Contents

I. Problem Definition

The first indication of an energy shortage came in 1965 with the Northeast blackout The problem became particularly serious in April of 1973 It was then that the U S became fully aware of its dependence upon foreign energy It was decided that the U S should strive to be energy self-sufficient by 1980.

A large portion of the US energy consumption is for the purpose of transportation This is shown by Figure 1, Energy Utilization Pattern – 1970 Transportation constituted 22 3;0 of the total US energy consumption.

Figure 01 – Energy Utilization Pattern 1970

Figure 1 also shows that vehicles are only 25Yo efficient in terms of useful utilization of energy consumed

The most significant utilizer of transportation energy is the automobile The automobile, in particular, has several inefficiencies inherent in its design and added by luxury providing subsystems Thus, the automobile utilizes the 25″0 useful energy output of the power-plant at an efficiency of about 2~~ for a total efficiency of 2TIo x 25;o equals 5%

Since oil creation in nature is a process which takes 600 million years, the supply of available oil, both globally and nationally, can be considered as a fixed and limited amount

The extent of available oil in nature is a question which has received much study. Two of the most reputable projections are shown in Figure 2.

Figure 02 – Oil Limitations

The above are facts and are sufficient to lead one to the conclusion that major changes are in order to reduce or supplement energy needs related to transportation

It is beyond the scope of this paper to study the feasibility of concepts which might reduce the need for transportation through changing life-style, such as mass utilization of advanced telecommunication systems or major adjustments in land use priorities In other words, it is assumed that there will be a need for automobiles in the future

It is also assumed that major technological changes in the automobile as we know it today are unlikely This assumption, though beyond the scope of this study, is somewhat substantiated by the recent United States Department of Transportation predictions for the year 2001:

1. There will be a greater variety of specialized – vehicles, powered largely by diesel and sterling cycle engines

2. Fuels will be 20-30i6 blends of methanol, diesel fuel, liquefied coal, gasohol or cellulose products

3. Fuel will be $2 00 per gallon but cost per passenger mile will have increased only 25-100io

4. Trucks will operate in designated lanes with a — single tractor pulling 3 to 12 trailers with axle loads of 40,000 pounds

5. Carpooling will be an established way of life

6. Control technology will have been developed and will permit vehicles to travel at much closer headways. All major cities will have exclusive bus lanes and several automobile restricted zones

II. Energy Alternatives

The sources of energy are: nuclear fission, nuclear fusion, geothermal, solar, wind, tidal, hydroelectric, chemical and fossil For practical use in transportation, all except chemical and fossil require the development of fixed-location electrical generating plants, electrical energy storage and utilization capabilities of automobiles Generating capabilities would have to be tripled to meet the transportation demand Considering the time necessary to develop generating capabilities and the retooling, capital investment and economic impacts on automobile related industries, it is unlikely that sources other than chemi-cal and fossil can be significantly implemented before 2000 as long as chemical or fossil fuel is available

As available oil reserves dwindle and as the rate of discovery of new reserves continues to decrease, the U S, will become more and more dependent on foreign oil The need for oil, per se, may be subverted by technological breakthroughs which appear to be near

Coal liquidification may be achieved by catalytic hydrogenation, solvent extraction, pyrolysis or indirect liquidification Several approaches to coal gasification are already in the demonstration phase:- Chicago, Illinois; Rapid City, South Dakota; Bruceton, Pennsylvania; Homer City, Pennsylvania (to open in 1976) The most ambitious demonstration plant is at New Athens, Illinois, and is under construction at an estimated cost of $237 million

It is reasonable to expect that a synthetic oil substitute derived from coal will be technologically and economically feasible by 1980 Commercial development of such processes is not likely to be sufficient to eliminate dependence on foreign petroleum until 1985

There is sufficient coal in the United States to last 400 years In addition the development of technologies to remove oil from shale are within sight At least 54 billion barrels of shale oil could be derived just from the deposits in Colorado, Utah, and Wyoming

If fossil fuel is to be used, the problem is somewhat complicated by the commitment of the U S to clean up the environment This commitment is expressed in the Clean Air Act of 1970 (PL 91-604) which established emission standards for passenger vehicles:

The use of fossil fuels is merely the process of releasing solar energy stored by plants in the form of chemical energy Other types of chemical energy may be utilized in resolution of the energy problem Such processes use energy from other sources in a more convenient manner The most promising form of chemical energy is hydrogen: Initial indications are that it can be used in gaseous form as a substitute for natural gas The application of liquid hydrogen to the transportation issue may be the simple solution to the complex problem everyone is looking for Hydrogen can be burned in either internal or external combustion engines Thus societal adjustment to a new system would be minimal The emissions from hydrogen combustion are water vapor No energy is created by the manufacture of liquid hydrogen Hydrogen must be generated by dissolution of water through electrolysis (or other process) The energy of electrolysis is equivalent to the energy of hydrogen combustion Thus, development of hydrogen technology would create a significantly increased demand for electrical power Therefore, chemical energy falls subordinate to the development of electrical generating capabilities originating from other energy sources Use of liquid hydrogen merely offers a perhaps more convenient way of trans-porting energy in the freewheeling vehicle Chemical energy is not a viable alternative energy source before the turn of the century Some interesting characteristics of liquid hydrogen are represented in Figure 3.

Figure 03

In summary, heat engine technology will remain the predominant form of powerplant for freewheeling vehicles through the turn of the century Subsequently, the United States will move more and more in the direction of the all-electric society The rate at which this change occurs will be dependent upon the progress of research in several areas Magnetohydrodynamics (MHD) could increase electrical generating efficiencies to 60,70 (almost double) PHD systems convert coal to hot gas that moves at high velocity through a magnetic field to produce direct electrical power Figure 4 shows the energy utilization pattern of an all-electric society.

Figure 04 – Energy Utilization (30 to 100 Years Hence)

III. Practical Alternatives – Description

Figure 5 shows eight practical alternative heat engines of which prototypes have been constructed and are being tested They are divided into two broad categories: internal combustion engines (ICE) and external combustion engines (ECE) Within the ICE category there are two types: spark ignition engines (SIE ) and compression ignition engines (CIE) Under SIE both uniform charge ignition (UC OTTO) and stratified charge ignition (SC OTTO) are applied Both the uniform charge and stratified charge are applied using both the reciprocating (conventional) and rotary (Wankel) principles

Figure 05 – Alternative Prototype Heat Engine Technologies

The CIE is embodied in the diesel. A rotary CIE would be possible but has not yet been attempted; only the reciprocating principle is utilized.

The ECE are divided into open cycles and closed cycles. The Brayton or gas turbine is the only prototype consideration in this category. Within the closed cycle group, both condensing working fluid and noncondensing working fluid are possible. The condensing working fluid is exemplified by the Rankine (steam) engine. The noncondensing working fluid is exemplified by the Stirling.

1 – 2. UC Otto – Figure 6 shows the operation of the conventional uniform charge, spark ignition, internal combustion engine Most people are familiar with its operation – intake, compression, power, exhaust The rotary engine uses the same (otto) cycle – intake, compression, power, exhaust, but accomplishes it by means of a rotary principle rather than a reciprocating principle The rotary appears not to offer significant advantages in fuel economy and emissions control over the reciprocating Figure 7 illustrates the rotary engine operation.

Figure 06 – Uniform Charge Otto

Figure 07 – Rotary Engine

3 – 4. SC Otto – Figure 8 shows the operation of the direct injection stratified charge, spark ignition, internal combustion engine- It utilizes the same principles as the uniform charge with the exception of the gas dynamics within the combustion chamber The principle of the stratified charge is to utilize variable fuel/air concentrations throughout the combustion chamber to maximize combustion, maximize power, and minimize emissions Several techniques have been attempted including use of precombustion chambers, direct fuel injection, and staged-combustion compound engines If the injection, ignition, fluid motions, and combustion can be made to follow the arrows in Figure 8, the full potential of low emissions and fuel economy can be realized The stratified charge principle is being used both in reciprocating and rotary engines

Figure 08 – Stratified Charge Otto

5. Diesel – The diesel engine is a compression ignition engine (CIE) of the ICE class It functions by intermittent combustion in which the fuel is ignited by the high temperature of the induced air after compression A diesel engine is shown in Figure 9.

Figure 09 – Diesel Engine

6. Brayton – The Brayton which is taken generally to be synonymous with the gas turbine is an external combustion engine (ECE) Figure 10 shows the hierarchy of Brayton type engines being studied Figure 11 illustrates the differences in operation of the four types of gas turbines.

Figure 10 – Brayton Engine

Figure 11 – Brayton Engine

7. Rankine – The Rankine engine is a closed cycle ECE Figure 12 shows several alternative types of the Rankine The Rankine is generally referred -to as the steam engine Its operation is illustrated by Figure 13

Figure 12 – Rankine Engine

Figure 13 – Rankine Engine

8. Stirling – The Stirling engine is a closed cycle ECE Its only difference from the Rankine is the fact that it does not condense its working fluid The advantage of this will become apparent in the comparative section The working fluid most commonly used is hydrogen rather than water in the Rankine The operation of the Stirling is exemplified by Figure 14

Figure 14 – Stirling Engine

IV. Practical Alternatives – Comparison

Figure 15 shows a plot of specific power (power per unit weight) versus specific energy (energy per unit weight) Specific power can be equated to acceleration and maximum speed. The Rankine and Stirling are lumped together and referred to as external combustion engines The several types of Otto cycles, including reciprocating and rotary engines and the diesel, are lumped together as internal combustion engines The gas turbine is represented separately as are fuel -cells and several types of electric battery vehicles Envelopes are generated The objective in this comparison is to maximize both power and energy (maximize both velocity and range) The superiority of the heat engine technologies reflects the need for additional research and development on the alternative technologies Among the heat engines the gas turbine appears to be superior

Figure 15 – Automotive Power Plants Specific Power vs Specific Energy
Figure 16 represents comparative emissions data The continuous combustion (ECE) powerplants have little difficulty meeting the emission standards The intermittent combustion (ICE) powerplants, with the exception of the diesel, can be squeezed to meet present statutory standards However, large ICE vehicles will have difficulty meeting the ultimate standards for hydrocarbons (HC) and nitric oxides (PiOx) at the same time

Figure 16 – Comparative Emissions

Figure 17 represents the comparative fuel consumption Both mature and advanced technologies are estimated and contrasted against the projected Otto technology Mature implies utilization of existing technology with minor improvements

Figure 17 – Comparative Fuel Consumption

Advanced implies some results from R & D efforts and is probably not producible until 1990 Among the mature technologies the Stirling is clearly superior Among the advanced technologies where gas turbine can more effectively exploit both high temperature capabilities and the potential for engine weight reduction afforded by ceramic materials, the Brayton takes first place over the Stirling

Figure 18 illustrates the projected energy consumption under three conditions:
1 No change in vehicle design or market mix;
2 The Otto engine evolves to the mature configuration; and
3 The Otto engine evolves to the mature configuration and then is replaced by the Stirling.

Figure 18 – Projected Energy Consumption.

The mature Otto would yield a 10% improvement in efficiency by 2000. The mature Otto replaced by the Stirling would realize a 37% improvement over no change by 2000

V. Powerplant – Independent Vehicle Improvements

From Section I, Problem Definition, it was stated that vehicle subsystems contributed significantly to the inefficiency of the automobile Thus, overall efficiency may be improved by powerplant-independent vehicle improvements Factors which effect vehicle efficiency are: weight, transmission losses, aerodynamic drag, accessories, and rolling friction By implementing vehicle improvements within present technological capabilities efficiencies represented by “intermediate technology” on Figure 19 can be realized (30’/ improvement by 2000) By implementing “long-term technology” those requiring some develop-ment and producible by 1985, a 43% improvement can be realized by 2000.

Figure 19 – Power Plant Independent Improvements

In addition to the above, some consideration is being given to the energy lost in braking. Braking accounts for 12:6% of the powerplant-independent losses. Several types of energy storing or energy recovery systems are being considered They include flywheels, batteries, and fuel cells

1. Flywheels – During braking energy which would normally be lost in heat in the brakes is transmitted to a flywheel and stored in the form of angular kinetic energy During acceleration the stored energy is transmitted to the wheels to reduce the load on the regular engine

2. Batteries – The principle is the same but not feasible with today’s battery technology During braking a generator is powered which charges storage batteries

3. Fuel cells – Where chemical energy may be utilized such as hydrogen, a hydrogen generating subsystem can be applied to the vehicle in which supplemental hydrogen fuel-is generated during braking through electrolysis powered by an electric generator attached to the braking system Advances are required before this system can become practical Other fuel cell fuels may include ammonia, hydrazine, or methanol

VI. Conclusion

The conclusion is inherent in the context of the report Heat engine technologies will dominate the transportation scene through the year 2000 (and possibly beyond 2050)

Energy supplies are available New technologies will create additional energy sources for heat engines Heat engine improvements can improve fuel consumption (37;o by 2000) Powerplant-independent improvements can reduce fuel consumption (43% by 2000) By 2000 it can be expected that heat engine powered vehicles will be nearly twice as efficient as those of today


Alternative Automotive Power Plant Research and Development for Improved Fuel Economy and Reduced Emissions, 19rJ5 General Motors Reports, programs of public interest, by John Chaplin

Automobile, The – Energy and the Environment, May, 1974, by Hittman Associates, in-c –

“Coal Liquefaction Rockets into Progress ” Industrial Research, February, 1976, p 28

“Contract Awarded for Air Cushion Vehicle ” New York Times, February 13, 1972, P• 40

“Energy Choices that Europe Faces: A European View of Energy ” by Wolf Hafele, April, 1974, Science, p 360

“Energy Crisis, The: Is it Fabrication or Miscalculation?” Environmental Science & Technology, April, 1974, p 316, y Esber Shaheen

“Energy Option: Challenge for the Future ” Science, September, 1972, p 875, by Allen Hammond

Energy Statistics – A Supplement to the Summary of National Transportation :3tatistics, August, 1, U S Department of Transportation

“ERDA’s Coal Program for Combustion, Liquefaction, MHD, Gasification ” by Robert Seamans, April, 1976, Professional Engineer, p 21

“Fluidized Bed Approach under Development for Coal Combustion -” by Henrik Harboe, April, 1976, Professional Engineer, p 24

“Flywheel in your Future, A ” Newsweek, February 11, 1974, p 98

“Highway and Transit Predictions for 2001 ” June, 1976, American City and County, p 96

“Hydrogen: A Future Energy Mediator?” Environmental Science _~ Technology, February, 1975, p 102, by Derek Gregory

“Liquid Hydrogen as a Fuel of the Future ” Science, October, 1971, p 367, by Lawrence W Jones

“Prognosis for Expanded U S Production of Crude Oil ” by Berg, Calhoun, Whiting, April, 1976, Science, p 331

Resources and Man, 1969, The National Academy of Sciences – Chapter 8, “Energy Resources” by M King Hubbert

“Role of Petroleum Liquids and Gas in U S Energy Supply Over the Next 25 Years, The ” by Arlon Tussin–, April, 1970, Professional Engineer, p 19

Should We Have a New Engine? – An Automobile Power Systems Evaluation – Volume I: -Summary August, 1T?5, by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory of the California Institute of Technology

Should We Have _a New Engine? – An Automobile Power Systems Evaluation – Volume II: Technical Reports August, 1975, by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory of the California Institute of Technology

Study of Technological Improvements in Automobile Fuel Consumption, Volume I: Executive Summary December, 1974, by Donald Hunter, for U S D O T and U S E P A

Study of Technological Improvements in Automobile Fuel Consumption, A~, Volume Il: Comprehensive Discussion December, 1974, by Donald A Hunter, for U S D O T and U S l: r k

Study of Technological Improvements in Automobile Fuel Consumption, A, Volume III A, December, 1974, by Donald A Hunter, for iJ S D O T and-M -S E P h

Study in Technological Improvements in Automobile Fuel Consumption, A, Volume III B December, 1974, by Donald A Hunter, for U S D O ` and U 6 E P 1r

“Synthetic Fuels: An Industry Struggles to be Born Amidst the Perils of Techno-Econo-Politics ” by Matthew Heyman, April, 1976, Professional Engineer, p 26

Technological Improvements to Automobile Fuel Consumption, Volume I: Executive Summary Jecember,1-574, by C W Coon for U S D T and U a E P A

Technological Improvements to Automobile Fuel Consumption, Volume December,-1974, by C W Coon for U S D O `l – and U S E P A

Technological Improvements to Automobile Fuel Consumption, Volume ~Z B December, 1974, by ‘ Coon for 5 D 7 ‘i’ and U S E P A –

Technology Assessment of the Transition to Advanced Automotive Propulsion Systems, _a May, 1974 by Hittman Associates, Inc

“Technology in the Coal Industry in the 1970’s ” by Leslie C Gates, February, 1971, Professional Engineer, p 33

“Transportation and the New Energy Policies ” Hearing before the Subcommittee on Transportation of the Committee on Public Works, U S Senate, December 11, 1973

“Transportation and the New Energy Policies (Truck Sizes and Weights)” Hearings before the Subcommittee on Transportation of the Committee on Public Works, U S Senate, February 20, 1974, February 21, 1974, and March 26, 1974

“Transportation to Become Dependent upon Electricity ” New York Times, May 7, 1975, p 16

United States Government Organization Manual 19 75,/19,76 by The Office of the Federal Register, General Services Administration

“Visions of the Future ” Speech by Norbert T Tiemann, Federal Highway Administrator, at the Salzberg Program, Syracuse University, April 2, 1976

Trends in the National Transportation Policy
by Dennis Polhill
C.E. 170 Transportation Characteristics
Instructor: Professor Athol
December 22, 1975

Table of Contents

I. Setting the Stage
1. Tradition
2. The First Legislation
3. The First Real Effort
4. Decline
5. The Federal Role
6. The “Good Roads” Movement

II. The New Era
1. The Federal Aid Highway Act of 1916
2. The Federal Highway Act of 1921
3. The Hayden-Cartwright Act
4. Toll Roads
5. Interregional Highways
6. The War Years
7. The Federal Highway Act of 1944
8. A Financing Problem
9. The Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1956
10. The Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1958
11. The Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1961
12. The Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1962
13. The Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1966
14. The Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1968
15. The Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1970
16. The Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1973

Long Distance Telephone interviews

I. Setting the Stage

1. Tradition

In early England monasteries were largely responsible for the maintenance of roadways. After Henry VIII dissolved the monasteries (1536-1539) the roads rapidly deteriorated. In 1555 the Parliament instituted “Statute Labor” which required four days work per year upon the roads by every parishioner. This is the source of the common law concept which has carried through to the American system. The effectiveness of this system was identified early in the history of the United States and adjustments were proposed.. In 1785 George Washington proposed abandonment of county- controlled statute labor in favor of contract work directed by a central authority. Governor Livingston of Pennsylvania in 1791 proposed that each county establish its own maintenance force to be paid by county taxes to “work faithfully instead of the ridiculous frolic of a number of idlers.”

2. The First Legislation

The first American road legislation was passed by the Virginia General Assembly in 1632. The Act was three lines and provided merely that roadways should be built.

The second action was taken in 1639 by the colony of Massachusetts. It was significant in that it was the first to mention right-of-way widths. In 1664 New York passed roadway legislation which specified standards (i.e., ten foot roadway width, stumps cut close to ground, and bridged). In 1704 the Maryland colony passed a law similar to New York’s with the addition of roadway markings (notches in trees).

In 1743 a charter was granted to the Ohio Company (private enterprise) to make a road across the mountains to the confluence of the Monongahela and Kanawha Rivers. This was the road which was used by General Braddock in 1755 during the French and Indian War. In 1758 General John Forbes made another road through Bedford and Ligonier for his successful assault on Ft. Duquesne in Pittsburgh. In 1775 the Transylvania Company was chartered with the purpose of making the wilderness road through the Cumberland Gap into Kentucky. Most American roads at the time of the revolution were mere pack trails. A few, mostly those mentioned above, were wide enough for wagons. Pounded stone was not implemented until 1832 and wood planks were not used until 1835.

3. The First Real Effort

After the Revolutionary war the federal government was interested in the development of roads for the purpose of maintaining the unity of the nation. As a carry-over from English common law local authorities were responsible for road repair. Local agencies demanded help from the States. The States were unable to help due to their war debts. Therefore, state governments met the challenge by chartering private turnpike companies with the authority to build roads and charge user tolls. Virginia granted the first such charter in 1785 but Pennsylvania rapidly became the leader in 1791 by adopting a statewide transportation plan for 68 road and navigation improvements. In 1808 the Secretary of the Treasury reported to Congress that Connecticut had 50 turnpike companies and 770 miles of road, and New York had 67 companies and 3,110 miles of road. Some turnpike companies were subsidized by the States through stock purchased on tax exemptions. Many were able to profit up to 15 percent per year, the maximum legal limit.

Four main transmountain roads were built to meet the demand for westward migration. The Lancaster Pike was ex-tended to Pittsburgh. In New York a road was built from Massachusetts to Lake Erie. The Cumberland Road was built. from the Head of Navigation on the Potomac River (Cumberland,

Maryland) to the Head of Navigation on the Ohio River (Wheeling, West Virginia), The Northwest Turnpike was built from Winchester, Virginia to a point on the Ohio River.

4. Decline

The Railroads came into the picture about 1830. By 1850 only a few turnpike companies and transportation companies had not yet gone bankrupt due to competition from the railroads. The growth of roadways, had reached a peak.

Turnpike companies stopped maintenance. Travelers refused to pay tolls because of the condition of the roads. Responsibility for roadways fell back to state and local agencies who were able to do little. The period from 1850 to 1900 has been labeled the “dark age of the rural road.” Basically the only new roads built during this period under federal subsidy were military wagon roads built by the Army Corps of Engineers primarily in the territories.

5. The Federal Role

In 1796, Colonel Ebenezer Zane chose his revolutionary war veteran bounty land warrant at the juncture of the Muskingum, Hockhoeking, and Scioto Rivers. He received special permission from Congress to make a post road from Limestone, Kentucky (now Maysville) to Wheeling, West Virginia. This was the first instance of subsidy by the federal government for roads. Zane’s trace, like the others started out as a pack trail, but its economic significance was rapidly identifiable. Heavy traffic caused Zane’s road to be chopped out wide enough for wagons by 1803.

In 1803 Congress passed the 5 per cent law. A fund was established in-which 5 per cent of revenues generated from the sale of federally owned public lands was deposited. Three per cent was granted to the States upon admission to the Union for roads, canals, levees, river improvements and schools. Two per cent was used for constructing roads “to and through” the west. -All 33 states admitted between 1820 and 1910 were subject to this law except Texas and West Virginia,”-which had no federal lands.

The two per cent is the interesting part. In 1806 Congress authorized these funds to be used for the construction of the Cumberland road, one of the four transmountain roads. Bitter debate developed in and out of Congress..

Strict constructionists to the constitution denied that the federal government had the authority to build roads, except in territories. Article X of the Bill of Rights, “The Powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.” Proponents of federal road building prevailed by citing the “General Welfare” clause of the Constitution. By 1813 the Cumberland road was open from Cumberland, Maryland to Wheeling, West Virginia. The road became so heavily used that appropriated funds were not sufficient for maintenance. Congress took action by authorizing tolls in 1822. President Monroe vetoes the act stating that collection of tolls implied a power of jurisdiction which Was-not granted to the federal government by the Constitution. In 1835 the Army Corps of Engineers conducted major repair and rebuilding after which the road was turned over to the States for operation as a toll facility.

In 1823 Congress granted Ohio a 120 foot R.O.W. and one mile of public land on each side to finance a road from eastern Lake Erie to the Western Reserve. In 1827 Congress subsidized a toll turnpike in Ohio from Columbus to Sandusky.

In 1827 Indiana used its land grant money to build the “Michigan Road” from Lake Michigan to Indianapolis and then to Madison.

In 1830 President Andrew Jackson vetoed a bill funding the Mayville turnpike in Kentucky stating and set-ting the national policy that “Internal improvements of a purely local character are not of national importance.” This reasoning negates the claim of highway proponents under the “General Welfare” clause leaving the “police powers” (State’s Rights) clause to prevail.

All subsequent federal legislation, even during the heavily liberal periods before World War I and during the depression, have been very careful not to challenge the precedents set by these two presidential vetoes. It will be interesting to-see what, if anything, evolves as a result of the 1974 Federal-Aid Highway Amendments signed into law by President Ford, January 5, 1975, which open the Highway Trust Fund to off-system projects.

6. The “Good Roads” Movement

The interest in good roads was revitalized in the 1880’s through the lobbying power of the League of American Wheelmen and other cyclist groups. In 1893 Congress established the office of Road Inquiry. The office had a budget of $10,000, one agent, and one clerk; was organized under the Department of Agriculture; and was to “make investigations in regard to the best methods of road making, (and) to prepare publications….suitable for…. disseminating information on this subject.”

Briefly, the Office of Road inquiry became the office of Public Road Inquiry in 1899, the office of Public Roads in 1905, the office of Public Roads and Rural Engineering in 1915, the Bureau of Public Roads in 1919. In 1939 the Bureau of Public Roads became the Public Roads Administration under the Federal Works Agency. In 1949 the Federal Works Agency was abolished. The Public Roads Administration became the Bureau of Public Roads again, temporarily under the General Services Administration (7/1/49 – 8/20/4.9) and finally under the Department of Commerce. In 1966.the Department of Transportation was established. The Bureau of Public Roads was transferred under this consolidation move and became the Federal Highway Administration.

In 1895, four passenger cars were registered in the United States. By 1900, 8,000 were on the roads. By 1910 there were 458,000. In 1904 the first complete inventory of public road mileage was conducted by the office of Public Road Inquiry. The United States had 2,151,570 miles of road.

Only 153,662 miles were improved with stone, gravel, or sand- clay surfaces. (A few were even better: the first brick street was constructed in Charleston, West Virginia in 1872; the first rock asphalt street was constructed in Newark, New Jersey in 1870; the first sheet asphalt street was constructed in Washington, D.C, in 1879.1 Not included in the total was 1,101 miles of stone surface toll roads in Pennsylvania and 497 miles of toll roads in Maryland. Ninety-three per cent of the nation’s roads were dirt paths. In 1891 New Jersey was the first state to pass a State-Aid Bill. It was also the first state to allow local governments to utilize debt services for road projects. By 1917 all states had adopted State-Aid legislation for roads. Roy Stone, first Head of the Office of Road Inquiry recommended that “object lesson roads” (experimental/demonstration) be constructed. Stone got approval but his budget remained at $10,000. He was forced to go to private and local sources for funds. Stone resigned in 1893. Martin Dodge, the new Director continued the demonstration road program. The “object lesson” concept was successful. Once it became widely known that “good roads” were a potential reality, the clamor increased. Congress would have to do something.

Even the railroads, secure in their position as the backbone of the American transportation system, got on the good roads bandwagon. The railroads had learned a hard economic lesson by yielding to pressures to build spur routes and duplicate parallel routes which never provided profits. The railroads were anxious to provide service to those unprofitable tributary routes through other means.

Finally, in 1912 Congress authorized $500,000 for an experimental program of rural post-road construction. It is interesting to note at this late date how cautious Congress is with regard to the precedents set by the vetoes of Presidents Monroe and Jackson. Under Article I, Section 8, Para-graph 7 of the U.S. Constitution, Congress is specifically delegated responsibility for postal roads. In fact, the appropriation was made through the Post Office Appropriation Act and States were required to come-up with two-thirds of the project costs. Only 17 states took advantage of the program. This was the only one of 60 federal monetary aid bills to pass in 1912. Consequently a Joint Congressional Committee was appointed to determine if and how federal funds could be used to aid highway construction. The report was submitted in 1915 and resulted in the passage of the Shackleford Good Roads Bill.

II. The New Era

1. The Federal Aid Highway Act of 1916

In 1916 Congress parsed the Shackleford Good Roads Bill, better known as the Federal Aid Road Act. This Legislation was revolutionary in concept and established the be-ginning of a new era in transportation. The Act circumvented established precedents by making the program optional to the States on the basis-of a 50 – 50 matching funds relationship. Each State was required to establish a state highway department capable of administering the funds. States received apportionments on the basis of formulas weighted by area, population, and rural mail route mileage (still relying on the post-road responsibility of Congress). The States retained the initiative and prerogative in proposing roads and types of improvements, the responsibility for surveys, plans, specifications, right-of–way acquisition, and contract administration. No tolls could be charged. Ownership and maintenance responsibility remained with the State. This act set the pattern for all highway legislation of the future.

The century long debate over the nature and intent of the Federal-State relationship had,~ in all practicality, been resolved. During conservative periods attempts have been made to swing back to the transitional “Federalism:” late 1920’s Eisenhower administration, Nixon administration; but it is unlikely that this will ever be successful.

The traditional interpretation of federalism as a strict division of responsibilities between the Federal and State Governments had been adjusted to, but not yet labeled, the “New Federalism.” The “New Federalism” is difficult to define but is generally described as a mixture of responsibilities, similar to a marble cake.

2. The Federal Highway Act of 1921

The Federal-Aid Road Act of 1916 authorized $5,000,000; $10,000,000; $15,000,000; $20,000,000; $25,000,000 for fiscal .,years 1917, 1918, 1919, 1920 and 1921 respectively. The pro-gram was an astounding success. However, in 1917 the United

States found itself in the midst of World War I. It was quickly discovered that the railroads were not capable of handling the increased demand for transport of war material. The trucking-industry was born. In one year the number of trucks in the country doubled. There were no load limits and during the spring thaw of 1918 even the best roads deteriorated. The poor condition of the roads and fuel restrictions helped trucking for hire to thrive.

After the war, road builders and truck manufacturers agreed on a truck capacity of 7 1/2 tons. The post office appropriation act of 1920 authorized $200,000,000 of additional funding for the 1916 road act. Also $139,000,000 worth of surplus war material and equipment was distributed among the State Highway Departments. The railroads were helped back on their feet by the Transportation Act of 1920. The Federal-Aid Highway Act was about to lapse. Another highway act was necessary to continue the program. The Federal Highway Act of 1921 was passed. A major provision of this act was the requirement that all State Highway Departments designate a system of principal roads which would be eligible for federal aid funds. The “Federal-Aid System” was limited to seven per cent of the total mileage in each state and subject to approval of the Bureau of Public Roads (to assure continuity between states). Congress appropriated $75,000,000 for fiscal 1922.

3. The Hayden-Cartwright Act

The Federal Aid Highway Act of 1934, better known as the Hayden-Cartwright Act, is significant in that it allowed the use of federal matching funds up to one and a-half per cent for surveys, plans, and engineering investigation. Highway planning was born. During the next two years, 1934 and 1935, Herbert S. Fairbank, Deputy Commissioner for Research of the Bureau of Public Roads became a strong and outspoken advocate of “Planning for Planning.” He is called the Father of Highway Planning. His recommended inventories required a great deal of man power. Under the National Recovery Act, manpower was made available for both highway work and planning. Requirements for state matching funds were temporarily lifted so that work could continue.

It was estimated that for each person working on the highways two other people were employed in the manufacture and trans-port of needed material and equipment. With the inclusion-of “WPA” funds, appropriations during the ’30’s went as high as $1.2 billion per year.

4. Toll Roads

During the 1930’s the Pennsylvania Turnpike was constructed between Harrisburg and Pittsburgh. It was planned and built by special state authorities, which used private engineering firms and financed the project with revenue bonds. During World War I2, heavy military use of the road proved valuable both to the turnpike authorities and the military. Increased traffic allowed the revenue bonds to be retired early and expeditions movement of war goods aided the military. This, with the increase in traffic after World War II stimulated growth of toll roads in several states.

5. Interregional Highways

The value of the Pennsylvania Turnpike was recognized before the war. In 1938 Congress directed the Bureau of Public Roads to study the feasibility of a toll-financed system of six superhighways. The report, “Toll Roads and Free Roads” was presented to Congress in 1939. The report stated that a 14,000 mile toll road system as suggested by Congress would not be self-supporting. The report went on to document the need-for a system of interregional super-highways with connections through and around cities. A 26,700 mile system was proposed with the suggestion that the federal government contribute more than the traditional 50 per cent federal share. In 1941 President Roosevelt appointed a National Interregional Highway Committee headed by Thomas MacDonald, Commissioner of Public Roads to look more closely at the concept. The value of the Hayden-Cartwright Act and Herbert Fairbank’s inventory of data for planning was realized. -In addition, Congress in 1943 requested the Bureau of Public Roads to make a study of the need for a nationwide expressway system. In 1944 a single joint report was submitted to Congress entitled “Interregional Highways.” The study considered many alternatives and recommended a 39,000 mile optimum network. The report called for “high standards of geometric design” and full access control. No cost estimate was made, but a $750,000,000 per year post war expenditure was suggested.

6. The War Years

A Federal Highway Act was passed in 1940 but little of the apportioned funds were utilized due to World War II.

In 1941 (less than three weeks before Pearl Harbor) Congress passed the Defense Highway Act. It authorized 75 per cent participation by the federal government but approved only projects on a designated strategic highway network. Roads which provided access to military establishments were subject to 100 per cent participation. In 1943 Congress amended the

Defense Highway Act so as to authorize expenditure of funds still remaining under the 1940 Highway Act. For the first time federal funds were allowed for right-of-way acquisition. The funds were used only for PS & E (plans, specifications and estimates) and for R.O.W. acquisition for two reasons: (a) critical material was needed for the war effort, and (b) Congress wanted to generate a reservoir of plans in order to start highway construction immediately after the war.

7. The Federal Highway Act of 1944

The Federal Aid Highway Act of 1944 required the designation of a “National System of Interstate Highways” not to exceed 40,000 miles. The Act also authorized $500,000,000 per year for the first three years after the war. The funds were restricted to a 45:30:25 ratio for primary, secondary and urban extensions, respectively. This distribution was later labeled the “ABC Program” and the ratio remained until-1973. The Act retained the provision which allowed the use of federal funds for right-of-way acquisition and established as a prerequisite to federal aid that traffic control devices must conform with uniform standards. The indirect or passive nature of this last requirement reflects the continued reluctance of Congress to confront the constitutional question of State’s rights. No funds were specifically designated for interstate construction.

On August 2, 1947, selection of the general locations of the interstate routes was announced. Much discussion between theStates, the Department of Defense and the Bureau of Public Roads had gone into the selections. A total of 37,700 miles was recommended. The remaining 2,300 miles authorized by Congress was reserved for auxiliary urban routes.

8. A Financing Problem

In 1952 the Federal Aid Highway Act authorized $25,000,000 specifically for the interstate system and equal amounts for 1954 and 1955. The 1954 Federal Aid Highway Act authorized $175,000,000 for 1956 and 1957 respectively. for the interstate system at 60 per cent participation. The program was ineffective. Federal authorizations were too small and States were unable to finance their portion. The first interstate highway cost estimate was $11.3 billion in 1949. At this rate, the interstate system would never have been completed. The cost estimate was increasing faster than the system was being built.

In 1953 the House Subcommittee on Roads conducted hearings and published the “National Highway Study.” The automobile manufacturer’s association had just completed a study which indicated that unsafe and inadequate highways were costing the nation’s motorists at least 3 billion dollars per year. In 1954 President Eisenhower described a “properly articulate highway system” in his message to the Governors’ Conference. In response the Governors’ Conference directed its Committee on Highways to prepare a special report to the President. The Kennon Committee Report went to the President with the message that the national government should assume primary responsibility for financing the interstate system. The Federal Aid Highway Act of 1954 directed the Bureau of Public Roads to make several extensive studies. One of these was the “Needs of the Highway System, 1955 – 1984” (March 1955) estimated the cost of the interstate system at $23.2 billion. Another was “Process and Feasibility of Toll Roads and their Relation to the Federal Aid Program” (April 1955). This report indicated that 6,700 miles could be financed by tolls; but that widespread interest in toll roads would soon end.

After the report from the Kennon Committee, Eisenhower” appointed the Advisory Committee on a national highway program, better known as the Clay Committee for its chairman. The Committee report “A 10-year National Highway Program” was presented to Congress in February 1955. This report set the estimate at $27 billion and recommended a 90 per cent ($25 billion) share for the federal government. The interstate system was to be constructed over a 10 year period and was to be financed by $20 billion of long-term bonds-which would have been-.repaid over a 32 year period from the existing 2-cent federal motor-fuel tax. Congress was not happy with the report: (a) the proposal placed a 32 year ceiling on ABC programs; (b) it would cost $12 billion in bond interest, and, (c) it removed fiscal control of the program from the hands of Congress.

Early in 1955 bills were introduced into both the House and Senate, but no legislation resulted. Although nearly all factions were in favor of the interstate programs, there was lack of agreement and compromise.

9. The Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1956

By the time Congress returned in 1956 pressure of public opinion had increased. Differing factions were ready for compromise. The pay-as-you-go concept was agreed upon.

A house bill was passed 4/17. It was amended and passed in the Senate 5/29. A compromise bill was developed by 6/25 and passed both houses on 6/26 by overwhelming majorities. President Eisenhower signed the bill 6/29. The National System of Interstate and Defense Highways was born. This Act is actually two acts. Title I is the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1956. Title II is the Highway Revenue Act of 1956.

Title z directs the Secretary of Commerce to cooperate with State Highway-Departments in the establishment of design standards (AASHO and BPR had already begun. The standards were completed and adopted by July 1956). Title I authorized 41,000 miles of interstate. Inclusion of existing toll roads in the interstate system was permitted (federal funds could not be applied to toll roads and the toll roads must be opened to free travel once the bonds are paid off). The Act limited vehicle weights and widths by adopting the AASHO limits or those of the respective state, whichever was higher. The Act expanded on a provision of the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1950 which established the requirement for public hearings when by-passing or going through a city. Advanced acquisition of right-of-way was permitted. The federal share was 90 percent. A generous ABC program was continued. The apportionment formula as applied to the interstate was to be changed, effective 1959. Subsequent apportionments would be on the basis of need, so that the entire system would be completed at the same time.

Title II created the funding mechanism which would make the interstate system possible. It created the Highway Trust Fund which is the source of federal matching funds.

Creation of the Trust Fund required several amendments to the Internal Revenue Code. Previously highway funding was taken out of the general budget. Similarly, highway revenues went into the general treasury. The idea behind the fund is simply to separate the highway money from the regular federal budget to require the highway users to pay for the highways. Highway. user taxes were increased for the period 7/1/56 to 6/30/72. The taxes are deposited in the Trust Fund and are administered by the Secretary of the Treasury. If a balance should accrue in the Trust Fund, the money was to be loaned to the general treasury under the same conditions as, but in place of, outside money. By 1969 over $160 million had been generated from interest on the Trust Fund balance. The highway user taxes and the Trust Fund have been one of the most popular taxes ever devised.

10. The Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1958

In January of 1958, as required by the Act of 1956, the Bureau of Public Roads submitted its first periodic estimate of the cost of completing the interstate system. Over a million man-hours went into preparation of the estimate. This was the first detailed estimate of the entire 41,000 mile system. It came to $37.6 billion (the $10 billion increase was due to four factors: traffic projections, $1.3 billion; local needs (dictated by congressional action), $3.8 billion; construction prices, $4.1 billion; and miscellaneous, $.8 billion). In addition, 1958 was a time of recession. Congress decided to accelerate the highway program as a cure for the economy. The Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1958 was passed. It increased interstate authorizations from $2 billion to $2.2 billion for fiscal 1959 and to $2.5 billion for each of fiscal 1960 and 1961. To avoid depletion of the Trust Fund the highway user taxes had to be raised in 1959.

11. The Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1961

The second periodic estimate of the cost of completing the interstate system was presented to Congress in January 1961. Over two million man-hours went into its preparation. $33 billion would be required to complete the system. It confirmed the estimate of 1958. The “Highway Cost Allocation Study” undertaken in 1956 was also presented to Congress in January 1961. The purpose of this study was to recommend a system. of equity by which costs and benefits to highway uses would be matched. The Federal-Aid Highway. Act of 1961 was passed, raising certain highway user taxes, establishing equity among users, and putting the Trust Fund back on a sound basis.

12. The Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1962

The need for an integrated transportation program and in-depth planning became apparent in 1962. AASHO, NACO, and AMA (National League of Cities) launched their “Action Program” which advocated urban transportation planning.

The National Committee on Urban Transportation had been advocating such transportation planning since its creation in 1954 by AMA, ICMA, ASPO, NIMLO, APWA, and MFOA. The Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1962 required a continuous planning program and called for greater cooperation among all levels of government. The Act stipulated that after 7/65 projects would not be approved unless they were based on continuous, comprehensive, and cooperative transportation planning. Congress repeated itself in regard to transportation planning in the Housing Act of 1961 and the Urban Mass Transportation Act of 1964. There was no question as to the position of Congress in regard to comprehensive, in depth planning, the integration of transportation systems, and cooperation between governments. The 1962 Act also required state highway departments to furnish satisfactory relocation advisory assistance to families displaced by the new interstates.

13. The Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1966

Four acts of significance to the highway system were passed in 1966. The National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act identified the necessity “to establish motor vehicle safety standards.” The Highway Safety Act attempted to establish a “coordinated national highway safety program.” It required states to establish an approved highway safety program. The Federal-Aid Highway Act merely appropriated revenues ($3:6 billion each for fiscal 1968 and 1969). The Transportation Act created the Department of Transportation.

14. The Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1968

The Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1968 created the “Traffic Operations Program to increase capacity and safety” (topics). There was $400 million authorized under topics on a 50 – 50 matching basis. Most states added 25 per cent for local governments making the local government share only 25 per cent. The 1968 Act also established appropriations for fiscal 1970 and 1971 of $4 billion each.

15. The Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1970

The Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1970 repeated the relocation assistance requirements of the 1962 Act. The relocation requirements were repeated again and expanded to all federal-aid projects by the uniform Relocation

Assistance and Real Property Acquisition Act of 1970. Another redundancy appeared on the environmental front.

The National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 establishing the E.I.S. (environmental impact statement) was passed.

The 1970 Highway Act repeated the environmental concern. The 1970 Act changed the participation ratio to 70 per cent federal for ABC programs. Topics was continued. The Trust Fund was extended to 1977 and $4 billion was appropriated for each of fiscal 1972, 1973 and 1974. The Highway Safety. Act was extended as Title II of the 1970 Highway Act. It is interesting to note that the Highway Trust Fund had proved so successful and so popular that in 1970 the Airport and Airway Development Act and the Airport and Airway Revenue Act were passed creating the Airway Trust Fund.

16. The Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1973

The 1973 Highway Act symbolizes the trend of changing priorities as the completion of the interstate system approaches and as the need for integrated transportation is recognized. Appropriations had peaked. The 1973 Act authorized only $3.25 billion each for fiscals 1975 and 1976.

The topics program was discontinued. In place of topics section 230 authorized off-system projects to eliminate safety hazards. Section 301 increased the appropriation under the Urban Mass Transportation Act of 1964 from $3.1 billion to $6.1 billion with 80 per cent federal participation from the Trust Fund. Section 124 opened the Trust Fund for bikeways and walkways: “sums appropriated …. shall be available for bicycle projects and pedestrian walkways…..”

The ABC (45:30:25) ratio was changed and federal participation on ABC projects was increased to 90 per cent.

The major change under the Federal-Aid Highway Amendments of 1974 was an additional provision for off-system projects. “These new funds may be used on any rural road or bridge which is toll free and not on a federal-aid system, and which is under the jurisdiction of and maintained by a public authority and open to public travel. The funds may not be used within the boundaries of any urban area with a population of more than 50,000.”

In the colonial period the emphasis was; against roads.

Roads could be used by the Indians and, therefore, were a liability. Most of the first roads were made by Armies as a necessity for making attacks. As the Indian threat decreased and as the population increased, crude roads, often only pack-trails were established. After the Revolutionary War there was a strong movement to provide roads and canals in an effort to tie the nation together, promote westward growth, and strengthen the economy through internal flow of goods. These roads were primary provided by creating private turnpike companies. With the development of the railroads about 1830 both the roads and the canals declined. The railroads maintained total dominance of the transportation picture until after 1900. The clamor for good roads by cyclists and the development of the automobile caused Congress to act. Legislation was passed in 1916 which allowed federal aid for highways without infringing on states rights. During World War I the importance of the automobile was realized and the highway program was accelerated. During the depression the highway program was accelerated even more in an effort to revive the economy. The highway system was doing so well that some thoughts were given to higher ideas such as planning and a nationwide system of superhighways. After World War II highway development was accelerated to provide the transition from war economy to peace economy. In-depth studies were conducted into the feasibility of an interstate system. In 1956 the Highway .Trust Fund was created and the interstate system was under way, top priority. The interstate system can be,attributed much of the credit for the booming economy of the 1960’s. The interstate produced a cost/benefit ratio of 2.9 on the basis of direct savings to uses along.

The peak has passed. The interstate is 87 per cent complete. Appropriations for highways has begun to decrease. What is in store, as evidenced by the planning requirements of the 1962 Highway Act and the increasing diversity of allowable applications of Trust Fund money by the 1970, 1973, and 1974 Highway Acts, for the future is a less concentrated, more general, integrated transportation policy. .


“Highways to Nowhere” by Richard Hebert, 1972.

“Mankind on the Move” by Christy Borth, 1969.

“Transportation Geography” by Michael Hurst, 1974.

“Future Highways and Urban Growth” by Wilbur Smith and Associates, 2/61.

“American Highway Policy” by Charles L. Dearing, 1941.

“Road to Ruin” by A.Q. Mowbray, 1969.

“Transportation Century” by George Mott, 1966.

“Locational Analysis” by Curtis C. Harris, Jr. and Frank E. Hopkins, 1972.

“The Urban Economies, 1985” by Curtis C. Harris, Jr., 1973.

“National Transportation Policy in Transition” by Herman Mentins, Jr., 1972.

“The Freeway in the-City” by the Committee of Urban Advisors for the FHWA, 1968.

“Traffic Operations Program to Increase Capacity and Safety (TOPICS): A Policy Evaluation” (Masters Thesis) by David Wright, 1969.

“Quarterly Report on the Federal-Aid Highway Program” by Norbert T. Tiemann, Administrator, FHWA, U.S. DOT, June 30, 1975 (released August 27, 1975).

“The Benefits of Interstate Highways”. by FHWA, U.S. DOT, 6/70.

“Social and Economic Effects of Highways” by the Socio Economic Studies Division, Office of Program and Policy Planning, FHWA, U.S. DOT, 1974; and the 1975 Supplement Thereto

“Highway Planning Technical Report – Financing Federal-Aid Highways – An Amplification” 7/74 by FHWA, U.S. DOT.

“The 1974 National Highway Needs Report” 1/31/75, by FFiWA, U . S . DOT. I

“Regional Decision Making: New Strategies for Substate Districts”. Volume I of Substate Regionalism and the Federal System, October, 1973, by the Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations.

“The History and Development of Road Building in the United States” by. Thomas H. MacDonald, October 6, 1926, paper #16-85, A.S.C.E. Transactions.

“United States Government Organization Manual” 1974,

-by The Office of the Federal Register, National Archives and Records Service, Governor Services Administration.

“Highway Statistics Charts” 1973, FHWA, U.S. DOT.

“DOT News” (U.S. Roadway Summary & Distribution) , released 12/31/74, FHWA, U.S. DOT. .

“Federal-Aid Highway Project Procedures” 9/18/74, FHWA,U.S. DOT.

“New ederal Funds for Rural Roads – The Off-System Federal-Aid Highway. Program” 5/75,” FHWA, U.S. DOT.

“The Federal-Aid Highway Program and Federal-State ; Relation ship” 1/75, FHWA, U.S. DOT.

“The- Administration of Federal-Aid for Highways” 1/57,by The Bureau of Public Roads, U.S. Department of Commerce. “Acquiring Your Real Property for Federal-Aid Highways” 8/75 Office of Right-of-Way, FHWA, U.S. DOT.

“History of Public Works in the United States” 1976, E(prepublication draft of Chapters 3 and 4) by APWA.

“The Federal Union” 1964, by Hicks, Mowry, Burke.

“The American Nation” 1965, by Hicks, Mowry, and Burke.

“The Policy Setting: Analysis of Federal-Aid Policy Alternatives” by Richard P. Nathan, Brookings Institute for the U. S. Congress Joint Economic Committee.

“The Highway Trust Fund” 5/69, The American Road Builder, by E. M. Cope (Chief, Highway Statistics Division, Bureau of Public Roads).

“Development of the Interstate Highway System” 8/64, by The Bureau of Public Roads, U.S. Department of Commerce.

“A Brief History of the Federal-Aid Secondary Road Program” 1972, by FHWA, U.S. DOT.

“Pending Legislation Affecting Federal-Aid Highway Programs” 11/?5, APWA Reporter, by Daniel J. Hanson, Sr. (Executive Vice President, American Road Builders Association). .

“Public Roads of the Past.- Historic American Highways” by American Association of State Highway Officials.

“Development of Roads in the United States” by The Bureau of Public Roads.

“Federal-Aid Highway Funding” 5/75, FHWA, U.S. DOT.

“Laws Relating to Federal-Aid in Construction of Roads” 1971, Compiled by The Office of the Federal Register.

Long Distance Telephone interviews

11/6 Management Information Systems, FHWA

11/6 John Sharp, Program Coordinator for Historical Development, FHWA

11/6 Mr. Burdell, Chief of Federal-Aid Division, FHWA

11/6 Richard Wineburg (an Aide to Mr. Burdell)

11/6 DOT Library Information Desk

11/6 Mr. Maloney, Part-Time Historical Consultant, FHWA

11/6 Mrs. Feldman, Public Affairs Office, FHWA

11/6 Mr, Highland, Public Affairs office, FHWA

11/7 Mrs. Ritter, Works for Mr. Maloney

11/10 Dr. Suelleri Hoy, Executive Secretary of American Public Works Association Bicentennial Commission

12/1 Ellis Armstrong, Chairman, APWA Bicentennial Commission

12/9 Mr. Moss, Legislative Aide for Representative Goodloe E. Byron

By Dennis Polhill


Federalism is a Constitutional Division of Authority and Functions between National and State Governments. Traditionally government policies particularly with respect to Federal Aid have attempt ed to conform with the rigid Constitutional Division of responsibilities. Until recent years, what Federal Aid existed, was applied primarily for educational purposes’. At various periods in History, it can be observed how attitudes of the time influenced the development of Federal Aid as _ contrasted with Traditional Federalism. The term “New Federalism” implies a dynamic, ever-changing relationship between the various levels of government. The existence of a “New Federalism” is a matter-of- ‘ fact which is evidenced by the enormous increase in Federal Aid in recent years. The question which remains is not whether or not it will be, but rather what form will it take. Revenue Sharing is just one of the “New Federalism” alternatives.


The History of Federal Aid goes back to pre-Constitutional Times. Under the Northwest Ordinance unconditional land grants were provided to the States for educational and internal improvements. In 1837 (Andrew Jackson) distributed, again unconditionally, a Federal Budget Surplus of five million dollars to the States proportioned to the states Congressional representation. This was the only program in American History that even begins to approximate what is known as Revenue Sharing today.

In 1862 Congress passed the Morrill Act which provided for land grants to the States to be used specifically for land-grant colleges. This Act is historic in that it defined the objectives to be met and outlined conditions for participation and supervisory procedures. The second Morrill Act, passed in 1890, provided cash payments annually to the States for the same purpose.

Until World War I most of the new programs were for Agriculture: 1887, Agriculture Experiment Stations; 1911, Forest Fire Protection; 1914, Agriculture Extension Work. The Forest Fire Protection Program required Federal approval of a State submitted plan and continued Federal inspection. These features have remained as key features of virtually all Federal Aids.

The World War I period was important in that new Federal Grants-in-Aid were initiated for Public Health, for Vocational Education, and for Highways. Following the war no new programs were enacted even though existing programs were continued and in some cases expanded.

Emphasis was placed on initiative at the State level, the Traditional Federalism. Several States adopted Social Legislation that was later used as a basis for new federal programs.

The Depression brought an explosion of new Federal Aids involving,

1) Precise definition of aided areas

2) The requirement of State plans in conformance with Federal Standards

3) State matching of Federal funds

4) The review and audit of aided programs by the relevant Federal Agency.

Some of the major new programs were: 1933, School Lunch Program; 1935, Old-age Assistance; 1935, Aid to Dependent Children; 1935, Aid to the Blind; 1935, Services for Crippled Children; 1935, General Health; and 1937, Low-Rent Housing. Many of these programs were interrupted during World War II but reinitiated in the post war period in 1953 the Eisenhower. Administration took office with a goal to make basic changes in the scope and character of Federal Aid Programs. The Commission on Intergovernmental Relations (Kestnbaum Commission) issued its report in 1955.

“The grants widest use has been in stimulating the States to launch or expand services for which State and Local Governments are generally regarded as primarily responsible. National Funds and Leader ship have stimulated State and Local activity in Agricultural Education and Research, Welfare Services, Public Health Services and Vocational Education, to site some prominent examples. In some of these fields the States or Localities had already made a start before the grant was made. Generally, though not always, the grants have produced notable spurts in State and Local Action, and the proportion of State and Local expenditures to Federal Aid-has shown a steady and substantial overall increase”.

In 1957 and 1958 the Eisenhower Administration’s Joint Federal-State Action Committee attempted unsuccessfully to eliminate certain Federal grants-in-aid in exchange for steps to turn over a compensating amount of Federal Revenues to the States. Despite Eisenhower’s efforts, Federal Aid Expenditures tripled to $7.3 billion over his Administration 1953 – 1961.

Under Kennedy and Johnson major new Federal Aid Programs have been established in Education, Antipoverty, Manpower Training, Mass Transportation, Mental Health, Air and Water Pollution Control and Aid to the Arts. Federal Aid has risen to $17 billion in 1968.


According to Richard Nathan who prepared the report “The

Policy Setting: Analysis of Post-Vietnam Federal Aid Policy Alternatives” for the U. S. Congress Joint Economic Committee, there are five major Federal Aid Alternatives:

A) Continued reliance on existing types of Federal Aid Programs
B) Revenue Sharing
C) Federal Tax Credit
D) Model Cities
E) Regional Aid Approach

A brief explanation of the five alternatives follows:

A) Continued reliance on existing types of Federal Aid Programs

As can be seen by the trends indicated under “History of Federal Aid”, Federal Aid traditionally has been restricted to categorical type programs. These can be subdivided into four types.

1) Narrowly Defined Formula-type Grants. These include formula-type grants for very specific purposes within major expenditure areas.
2) Highways and Public Assistance. These are formula-type grants for broad areas.
3) Broadly Defined Formula-type Grants. Aid is given to major functional areas with relatively few strings attached. This type of Traditional Aid most closely approximates the Revenue Sharing ideas. The Pre-Civil War grants and the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 fall into this class.
4) Project Aid. The use of project grants has in-creased in recent years. Project grants are used more at the local level while the various Formula type grants are primarily aids to the State level.

B) Revenue Sharing (Tax Sharing)

Revenue Sharing is the redistribution of Federal Tax Revenues back to various State and Local Governments with a minimum of restrictions.

C) Federal Tax Credit

This is intended to accomplish the same purpose as Revenue Sharing, shift power through money from the Federal Government to the State and Local Governments. The mechanism is to allow a tax credit rather than a deduction to the taxpayer. In other words, a percentage of Federal Income Tax would be credited against an individuals State Income Tax. This approach is favored by the U. S. Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations and the Committee for Economic Development. If implemented tax credit would stimulate states to rely more heavily on income taxation. Much could be discussed on the question of tax credit but it is beyond the scope of this paper to deal with the subject in more detail.

D) Model Cities

On January 16, 1966, President Johnson in a message to Congress recommended a $2.3 billion, 6-year “Demonstration Cities Program that will offer qualifying cities of a11 sizes the promise of a new life for their people”. The Federal Government would provide financial assistance under existing Urban Aid Programs, plus 90% of the cost of planning and development; special supple-mental grants of 80% of the total non-federal contributions required from projects under existing grant-in-aid programs; federal grants for relocation of families and businesses; and technical assistance to help carry out the program. On March 2, 1966, Mayor Jerome P. Cavanagh of Detroit, testified before the Housing Subcommittee of the House on behalf of the National League of Cities and the U. S. Conference of Mayors, “we should recognize that $2.3 billion is a start and nothing more.” The National Housing Conference and the National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials also questioned the adequacy of $400 million per year. In November of 1967 the program was enacted. In the June 11, 1975 Cumberland Evening Times, the Associated Press reported that of the only fourteen model cities nearly all were in serious financial difficulty.

E) Regional Aid Approach

Funds would go to regions on a basis patterned after the Appalachia Regional Economic Development Program enacted in 1965.


On October 20, 1972, President Nixon signed into law the “State and Local Fiscal Assistance Act of 1972”. Passage of this measure is the result of conservative efforts, in the light of the “New Federalism”, to attempt to redistribute power to State and Local Governments. Federal Aid prior to the Civil War resembled Revenue Sharing but was not enacted with this purpose in mind. This end was first eluded to by President Eisenhower’s Commission on Intergovernmental Relations (the Kestnbaum Commission) in 1955. The subsequently appointed Joint Federal-State Action Committee was unsuccessful at attempts to enact Legislation in 1957 and 1958. In Congress even Conservatives were reluctant to separate the taxing responsibility from the spending “FUN”.

In the Spring of 1964 Walter Heller, Chairman of the President’s Council of Economic Advisors introduced the Heller Plan to President Johnson. The Heller Plan recommended supplemental General Aid to the States with no conditions attached. In a speech on May 22, 1964, Johnson called for “New Concepts of Cooperation, a ‘Creative Federalism’.” In the early Fall of 1964 the Pechman Task Force reported to the President. Recommendations conformed with those of Heller with the exception of a few broad conditions to be placed on Aid. Pechman also suggested the use of tax effort and per capita income factors along with population in the distribution formula. President Johnson was very much in favor of the Heller-Pechman Proposals. During the end of the Presidential Campaign, October 28, 1964, the White House issued a Presidential Statement, “Intensive Study is Now Being Given to Methods of Channeling Federal Revenues to States and Localities”. The same day an outline of the Pechman Task Force Report appeared on page one of the New York Times; strong opposition arose from labor groups and federal officials. In mid December 1964, the President called a halt to speculation about the plan. In the 89th Congress twenty-five Representatives introduced various forms of Tax Sharing Legislation. In the 90th Congress fifty-nine House Bills and twenty-nine Senate Bills were introduced. A December 1966 Gallup Poll indicated that 70% of the American People favored a 3% distribution of Federal Revenues to States and Local Governments.

In 1969 Nixon took office. His position was one very favorable to Revenue Sharing. By February of 1972 discussion of the Mills Plan vs. the Nixon Plan was in progress. Compromise prevailed. The House passed a Revenue Sharing Bill on June 22, 1972 by a 274 – 122 vote. Senate was not satisfied with the plan and amended the House Bill. The Senate Finance Committee approved the bill on August 16, 1972. Nixon signed the Legislation into Law on October 20, 1972,


The “State and Local Fiscal Assistance Act of 1972” (P.L. 92-512) provides for the distribution of $30.2 billion over five years to 38,750 State and Local Governments with relatively few restrictions. In 1972 $5.3 billion was to be distributed ($25.47/capita nation-wide). The distribution formula is based on population, per capita income and Adjusted Tax Effort (ATE). State distributions are:

One-third State Government and
Two-thirds Local Governments as per formula

The act is administered by the Office of Revenue Sharing (Graham W. Watt, Director) under the Department of the Treasury. The function of the office is to maintain accurate formula data, calculate and disburse payments and audit usage of funds for applicable compliance.


State allotments are calculated by the Senate th’ree-factor formula and the House five-factor formula for each State. The higher figure is used and a11 States are scaled down proportionately to meet the allocation amount. Alaska and Hawaii are allowed an adjustment factor, 25% and 15% respectively. Within each State the State Government gets one-third. Counties (geographic, not political) receive a pro-portion of the remaining two-thirds based on population, A.T.E., and P.C.I. up to 145% but not less than 20% of the statewide per capita . entitlement. From the county portion, Indians and Alaskan natives receive a share on the basis of population; all townships receive a proportion equal to the proportion of township A.T.E. As compared to the total A. T.E. within the county; similarly for county governments; the remaining portion is for other units of local government. The division of funds among townships is done on the basis. of population, A.T.E. and P.C.I. up to 1451 but not less than 207. of the applicable per capita rate. Similarly for other units of local government. Only three of the five categories of local government are eligible: Counties, Townships and Municipalities, Special Districts and School Districts do not receive General Revenue Sharing Funds. ‘


Revenue Sharing may be used to pay operating and maintenance costs in any “Priority Expenditure Categories”: Public Safety (Police, Courts, Corrections, Crime Prevention, Fire Protection, Civil Defense, Inspection of Buildings, Plumbing, Electrical Facilities, Gas Lines, Boilers and Elevators); Environmental Protection (Smoke Regulations, Inspection of Water Supply, Sanitary Engineering, Collection, Refuse Disposal or Waste Recycling); Public Transportation (Highways, Bridges, Streets, Grade Crossings, Snow and Ice Removal, Transit Systems); Health, Recreation, Libraries, Social _.Services (Food, Clothing, Shelter, Daycare, Job Training); Financial Administration (Accounting, Auditing, Budgeting, Investing, Tax Collection, Fiscal Affairs). General . administrative costs such as the Chief Executive’s salary is not permissible. The act specifies that any ordinary and necessary capital expenditure authorized by State and Local Law is an appropriate use of General Revenue Sharing Funds. Budgeting, appropriation and use must meet State and Local Law requirements regarding use of a recipient’s own revenue. Revenue Sharing dollars may not be used to obtain federal matching funds. Recipients must observe nondiscrimination and labor standards. Money must be used, obligated or appropriated within twenty-four months of the end of the entitlement period. Funds transferred to private agencies or other units of government are still subject to a11 restrictions of the act.

A planned use report must be filed in the Office of Revenue Sharing prior to the beginning of each entitlement period. An actual use report must be filed by September 1, of each year. Both reports must be published.


Prior to the release of the first entitlement – following is a list of anticipated Revenue Sharing Applications.

California Cut Income Tax
San Francisco Equipment for Municipal Railway
Los Angeles Eliminate Budget Deficit
Ontario, California Eliminate Budget Deficit
Oregon Reduce Property Tax
Portland Public Works, Fire Stations, Recreation
Multnomah County Restore Previously Cut Services
New Mexico Education, Law Enforcement, Environmental Improvement and Economic Development
Oklahoma Education
Michigan General Fund
Detroit Forestall Additional Cuts in Services
Illinois Freeze Property Tax, Education
Wisconsin Reduce Property Tax
Milwaukee Prevent Additional Tax Increases
North Carolina General Fund
New York Balance Budget
New York City General Support of the City Budget
White Plains, New York Forestall Tax Increase
Mobile, Alabama Fire and Police Equipment
Atlanta, Georgia Salary Increases, More Police & Fire
Houston, Texas Public Works: Streets, Water, Sewe
Pine Bluff, Arkansas Public Works
Phoenix, Arizona Public Works: Streets and Sewers
Waterloo, Iowa Reduce Proposed Tax Increase
Lima, Ohio Capital Projects
Montana Capital Improvements
Mississippi Capital Improvements

During entitlement period 4 (July 1, 1973 – June 30, 1974) actual use as a percentage of all Revenue Sharing Funds distributed was as follows:

Public Safety 23%
Education 21%
Public Transportation 15%
Multi-purpose General Government 10%
Health 7%
Environmental Protection 7%
Recreation 5%
Social Services for Poor and Aged 4%
Other Uses 4%
Financial Administration 2%
Libraries 1%
Housing/Community Development 1%
Corrections Under 1%
Economic Development Under 1%
Social Development Under 1%

The actual use reports for entitlement periods 1, 2 and 3 and the planned used reports for entitlement period 5 indicate the same general distribution. The State level spending is: 52% on primary and secondary education, 8% on public transportation, 7% on health, 7% on multi-purpose general government and 6% on social services for the poor or aged. Local governments spend 36% on public safety, 19% on public transportation, 11% on general government, 11% on environmental protection, 7% on health and 7% on recreation. On a regional basis there are no significant variations in the above distributions. Of both State and Local Governments, 84% reported that Revenue Sharing had enabled them to avoid incurring new indebtedness, or reduced the level of new indebtedness.


Revenue Sharing was a God-Send to Local Government. Even though it amounts to little more than 3% of State and Local Government Expenditures, it has at least temporarily forestalled an impending financial crisis. For some, like New York City, Revenue Sharing came too late with too little. New York City has a debt of over $14 billion today. The development of the crisis situation could only result in the inevitable termination of Local government as an autonomous governing body. That is to say, Local government would either be drawn gradually (as the trend has been in the past) or be forced catastrophically be-coming some type of subsidiary of the federal bureaucracy. Improved transportation, communication and mechanized warfare have necessitated a trend toward more centralized government. Centralized government also allows more efficient administration of certain public services such as Social Security. Therefore, I personally feel that a trend back to Traditional Federalism is not realistic and not in the best interest of the Nation. But, I also feel that Local government should be a part of our government. Categorical type Federal Aid serves the interests of the federal bureaucracy and, therefore, is not an answer to preserving the system. Revenue Sharing seems to be the right idea but changes will be necessary. The problem with changes at this time is that all indications are that potential changes will not be improvements. The ink was barely dry on the Act in 1972 when the Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee was calling for amending legislation to impose supervisory controls.

His point has been proven to be well taken. A 12-member committee of the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineers recently concluded, “Local Governments and Agencies lack the planning and management personnel and capabilities necessary to meet decision-making responsibilities imposed by Revenue Sharing”. It cannot be denied that this problem exists. The mistake, however, is that every-one seems to be jumping to the conclusion that it is in everyone’s best interest to impose restrictions. If Revenue Sharing becomes categorical or “big brother” provides necessary management services, the program becomes just another extension of the federal bureaucracy and local government will never be able to develop self-reliance.

Where the First $5 Billion in “Sharing” Goes

Planned Use Report, Actual Use Report


1. Readings on State and Local Government Edited by Irwin N. Gertzog 1970 — Prentice-Hall, Inc.

2. The Politics and Economics of State-Local Finance by L. L. Ecker-Racz Prentice-Hall, Inc. — 1970

3. Financing State and Local Governments by James A. Maxwell 1966 — Brookings Institution

4. The New Federalism by Michael D. Reagan 1972 — Oxford University Press

5. General Revenue Sharing – Reported Uses 1973-74 Office of Revenue Sharing 1975

6. What is General Revenue Sharing Office of Revenue Sharing 1973

7. A Fiscal Program for a Balanced Federalism Committee for Economic Development 1967

8. Federal Revenue Sharing A New Appraisal The Tax Foundation 1969

9. One Year of Letter Rulings on General Revenue Sharing: A Digest Office of Revenue Sharing 1973

10. Legislative Analysis, Federal Revenue Sharing American Enterprise Institute 1967

11. Revenues, March 1975 Office of Revenue Sharing

12. Getting Involved, Your Guide to General Revenue Sharing Office of Revenue Sharing March 1974

13. General Revenue Sharing, Data Definitions for Allocations to to Local Governments Office of Revenue Sharing 1975

14. Regulations Governing the Payment of Entitlements Under Title I of the State and Local Fiscal Assistance Act of 1972 Office of Revenue Sharing 1973

15. State and Local Government by Russell W. Maddox and Robert F. Foquay 1975 — D. Van Nostrand Company

16. – The American City, June 1975 Unions Want National Urban Policy, Too P. 50

17. A.P.W.A. Reporter, February 1974 Revenue Sharing and Public Works P. 14

18. The American City, September 1974 Local Governments Can’t Handle Revenue Sharing, Report Concludes P. 108

19. Professional Engineer, February 1975 Innovative Technology and the Cities: A Marriage as Yet Unconsummated P. 16

20. The American City, May 1975 Cities Face Huge Fiscal Gaps P. 26

21. Politics in States and Communities by Thomas R. Dye 1973 — Prentice-Hall, Inc. P. 59 – 60 –P. 536 – 538

22. The American City, January 1973 Revenue Sharing Funds – How Do Cities Plan to Use Them? P. 12

23. Municipal Maryland, December 1972 Uses of Revenue Sharing

24. Nation’s Cities, October 1972 The Future of Revenue Sharing P. 4

25. Nation’s Cities, October 1972 Revenue Sharing Becoming Law P. 5

26. Nation’s Cities, October 1972 Provisions of the State and Local Fiscal Assistance Act of 1972 P. 8

27. Nation’s Cities, October 1972 Revenue Sharings New Data Needs P. 11

28. Municipal Finance Officers Association Newsletter, March 1, 1973 Revenue Sharing Regulations Released

29. Department of Treasury’s Interim Revenue Sharing Guidelines

30. Washington Report for State Legislators, September 21, 1972 Outline of General Revenue Sharing Bill (H.R. 14370)

31. Washington Analysis (National League of Cities) September 1972 General Revenue Sharing as Agreed to by Conferees

32. M.F.O.A. Newsletter, April 1, 1971 Special Federal Revenue Sharing

33. The American City, November 1974 Free Bus Service Increases Retail Sales P. 19

34. T.A.C., November 1974 Bill Would Extend Revenue Sharing P. 32

35. T.A.C., March 1974 Act Now to Preserve Tax-Exempt Municipal Bonds P. 108

36. T. A.C., January 1975 Revenue Sharing Reenactment is Top Priority for I.C.M.A. P. 61

37. T.A.C., March 1973 Revenue Sharing Could Shrink Bond Market P. 28

38. T.A.C., May 1972 Look Before You Leap to New Tax Source P. 37

39. T.A.C., October 1973 How California Cities Will Use Revenue Sharing P. 110

40. T.A.C., November 1971 Doubts Expressed About Revenue Sharing P. 16

41. The Policy Setting: Analysis of Post-Vietnam Federal Aid Policy Alternatives by Richard P. Nathan Brookings Institute for the U. S. Congress Joint Economic Committee

42. Public Works, February 1974 Revenue Sharing Uses Take Form P. 7

43. Letter Appointing Federal Members of the Joint Federal-State Action Committee, July 20, 1957 by Dwight D. Eisenhower From Public Papers of the Presidents P. 562

44. T.A.C., August 1974 Revenue Sharing to be Pushed P. 6

45. Lyndon B. Johnson: The Exercise of Power by Rowland Evans and Robert Novak The New American Library — 1966 P. 501

46. U.S. News & World Report, February 21, 1972 Tax Sharing: Mills Plan vs. Nixon’s P.151

47. U. S. News & World Report, October 9, 1972 It Is Official: Who Gets What From Revenue Sharing P. 94

48. U.S. News & World Report, July 3, 1972 Revenue Sharing: Who’d Get What P. 46

49. U.S. News & World Report, August 28, 1972 Revenue Sharing’s Chance P. 68

50. U.S. News & World Report, October 2, 1972 Revenue Sharing – Where the Billions Will Go P. 20

51. T.A.C., December 1972 House Appropriations Chairman Seeks More Control Over Revenue Sharing P. 10

52. Many other Newspaper and Magazine articles and Letters too numerous to list

NOTE: T.A.C. – abbreviated for (The American City)