Second Annual Convention
Thursday, Oct. 30

RUTH CAPLAN, AfD Co-chair, convened the gathering:

So here we are in Atchison, Kansas! Just as it was appropriate to have our founding convention last year in Texas where Populism was born, it's appropriate to have our second convention in Kansas where the populist movement flowered. It grew out of farmers' efforts to free themselves from the shackles of the company store, and eventually shifted from efforts to obtain some justice from the system to recognizing injustice in the system itself.

Organizers had to overcome people's doubts at each step and work populism into existing concerns. The traveling lecturers said join the alliance AND form trade stores; join AND set up cooperative buying committees; join AND set up your own cotton yard. They put their message in language farmers could understand. The lesson to us: remember the AND.

Lawrence Goodwyn's history of the populists shows that a new culture was being born, one of resistance to monopolies. Throughout Kansas "where the farmers were rewarded with small successes, their respect for their own efforts and for their alliance grew." Farmers became a schoolroom of self-education.

The cooperative experiences of 1887-91 educated enough of the populists to make independent political action a reality. So here we are in Atchison, Kansas, in the late 20th century, with a president who thinks the bridge to the 21st century is a global system that threatens us. And what is our response?

It is the "Alliance for Democracy." The name gets politicians' attention. I got the ready signature on a statement of opposition to the Multilateral Agreement on Investment from Ron Dellums (D-CA), a liberal, and he sent me to Ron Paul (R-TX), a gun-toting libertarian, and he signed it too. The use of "democracy" evokes a fundamental power that talks of local control. But local isn't enough. Local cooperatives weren't enough in the 1890s to combat big banks. The urgent need for capital led to a deeper understanding of the economic system and to the idea of "sub-treasuries," where crops could be collateral for local low-interest loans until prices rose. Money was being created by the farmers with real work and products. The proposal was revolutionary--it went to the heart of the political system. But the populists couldn't muster enough political power to make it happen.

Economic alternatives are arising now that do go to the heart of the system. Community-supported agriculture sets up direct relationships between the producer and consumer and is a reinvention of the economy. Local currencies are working in British Columbia, Ithaca NY and elsewhere, involving directories of services and producers. As we rally against a global economy we can begin to build a local economy in our own back yards. We'll have something to put in after the AND.

TONY CLARKE, director, Polaris Institute

Canada too has a populist history. A convergence of populists and socialists in the 1930s was a force for progressive change and we're trying to rebuild that now against the corporate system.

Canada faced the reality of free trade in 1987, with the "Canada-US Free Trade Area" proposal, well before NAFTA. A broad-based social movement arose to oppose it because we defined the issue to let ordinary people plug into it without changing their daily concerns. The issue cut across everything--farmers, labor, health care, education, culture, social programs. We called it "a corporate agenda item" from the beginning.

We had been trying to change the government, thinking if we backed opposition parties they would stop the treaty. That was wrong, acting on the old model of social change as driven by the government. We didn't realize who's really driving the agenda now. We almost won in 1987--getting 53 percent of the vote but losing in Parliament--and we did get rid of the Brian Mulroney government in 1993. But the Chretien government has accelerated the free trade agenda despite opposing it during the campaign. This showed lack of attention on our part to where the real power was: we didn't target the corporations.

I went with Mexican journalist friends to a Nations of the Americas gala where heads of state and corporation CEOs were together. The journalists asked David Rockefeller what had changed since the 1960s, and he said corporations and CEOs had been on the sidelines then, but now were in the driver's seat, not only calling the shots but writing the documents.

We need to rethink our models for democratic social change. If we don't target what the corporations are doing we will miss the boat. Corporations spent 20 years making big government Public Enemy Number One; we have to make corporate power that enemy, starting now.

Corporate reinvention of government was systematic. The Trilateral Commission was set up to look at the global economy and decide what changes were needed, producing a "Crisis of Democracy" paper that said "excess democracy" was the problem--the John Maynard Keynesian system of lots of groups setting public policy along with government and corporations. The corporate chiefs organized to become more powerful: Business Roundtable here, the European Roundtable of Industrialists, and similar associations in Canada, Japan and elsewhere.

They did it. Now, 51 of the 100 top world economies are transnational corporations; corporations that once numbered 7,000 are now at 40,000-plus; they are consciously organized as political machines to move public policy and redesign the state to serve their purposes. The Keynesian model is gone. States do not function now in terms of people but as corporate security systems. This is codified through the World Trade Organization and trade agreements that lock in corporate power as the economic constitution of the new world order.

The Multilateral Agreement on Investment (MAI) proposal comes at a critical moment. The corporations want a global set of investment rules to regulate all economies. The MAI is a set of rules about what governments must do to facilitate trade. This is a total turnaround of government's original purpose in regulating trade to benefit the people.

When MAI was proposed through the World Trade Organization, developing nations were suspicious. Then the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD)--the club of rich countries that have 47 percent of all multinationals--proposed this "high standard investment treaty" itself. He and others revealed some of the documents in early 1997.

MAI is basically a charter for the rights and freedoms of transnational corporations. The meat of it is the "takings rule" that would say any effort to take property for a public purpose must be compensated adequately and fairly. That may look okay, but on the international commons of air, land and sea it takes from the public to serve private corporate power.

The bottom line: MAI is a set of power tools in the hands of corporations that would reshape government by ratcheting down laws they don't like.

-Governments would have to treat local and transnational corporations alike under all laws governing investment;

-Corporations would receive Most Favored Nation trading status.

In essence, MAI gives corporations the legal status of nations without imposing any obligations.

Countries now can regulate corporations, but under MAI, laws would not be enforceable unless they conform to MAI provisions. E.g,, national subsidies to local corporations would be struck down. Regulations on local banks would have to be the same for international banks. Under MAI's "rollback" and "stand down" provisions, a nation would have to produce a list of national, state and local laws that don't conform to MAI. That would then become a hit list for rollback.

To top it off, transnationals would be able under MAI to sue nations directly. Even under NAFTA a corporation has to convince its home government to take on another government if it's having trouble overseas, but not under MAI. Another tool is "lock-in": a country can get out of NAFTA with six months' notice, but MAI requires five years' notice, and then the rules still remain in place for another 15 years--i.e., it's a 20-year commitment even if you quit the day you join.

We must talk about this as a corporate rule treaty, for that's what it is. It hijacks democratic rights, and that's why it provides a broad-based issue around which to build a movement. Every local fight can be related to it--it's the framework. It's corporate power versus democratic control.

The moment is ripe: 1998 is the 50th anniversary of the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights, an idea MAI and the WTO directly challenge. We can use these symbols this year to remind people not to take their rights for granted. Like the corporations, we must look ahead 10, 15, 25 years. MAI is an occasion to broaden and deepen the long-term struggle, but it won't end there. We have lost our government and we must return to our populist and socialist roots to start the process of resisting corporate rule.


To move the focus off government, make more noise about the corporate connections it has. Start the education process: it doesn't matter whom you elect if the tools of corporate control remain in place. People must become aware that they no longer have a democracy. We can create a platform and demand that a party take it on, but no one yet is close to understanding what that will require.

Developing countries are resisting but they are being coerced into agreeing to MAI terms on threat of being isolated from the entire world economy. If we try to change MAI rather than defeat it, we'll get cosmetic fixes that accomplish zero. If we try to amend it to deal with core issues, the amendments will fail. Sidebar agreements won't have any effect unless the fundamentals change.

One way local corporations get around national restrictions now is to form joint ventures with foreign partners exempt from local laws, and this trend is accelerating.

In Canada, corporate influence has led to a 38 percent cut in three years of federal transfer payments to local jurisdictions. It's part of a plan to let services deteriorate so as to increase demand for "efficient" privatization.

To relate MAI to average farmers and inner-city residents, emphasize the export of jobs to poor countries that will accelerate while profits to US corporations rise. Don't rule out alliances among unions across international borders as a consequence.

RONNIE DUGGER, AfD founder and co-chair

I had a conversation with a Michigan State student who defined a happy, beautiful society as happy people working and being together. For two years we've been having this conversation about a paradigm shift in the world. The two political parties have been bought by corporations; people are beginning to understand that the issue is democratic authority vs. corporate autocracy. How do we get from here to There, the beautiful society?

Let's put ourselves There and see how we got to be happy people working and being together. We had to decide who should own what; set limits on total wealth; get control of our organization and the purposes of our work. We had to learn how to own, run and share the fruits of our own labor. We had to set limits on greed--on a person's total assets, or have a tax system that doesn't tolerate starvation. That is, Bill Gates can have all the ego satisfaction he wants but he can't have 40 billion dollars.

We're There where technology is not used against people, where we have possession of the whole social fund. Our culture is not dominated by television corporation owners; the airwaves are used for enlightening, for free and open democratic debate, to decide what it means to be a human being. Without reference to nationality, race, religion or prior condition of servitude, each person is equal in importance and value to every other on the face of the earth. Human values prevail among us, not the cold calls of the greed machine. People make a fair living with personal independence--and that means we had to cap the size of corporations and bring them down to human size.

To get There we had to turn the United Nations into a democratic union of people, not governments. We had to stop genocides-in-process, militarily if necessary: some of us had to go into the military and put our bodies between the killing machine and people. We had to democratize our foreign policy and take it away from the corporations. We redefined corporations as limited and ruled by people. We had to take the political party system into our own hands, either by reoccupying the dead and gutted Democratic Party or by creating a new one.

The media are ours and we are the medium. To get There, we will build one national people's movement. We will join our various organizations and passions into one effective coalition in action. First in states and then in regions; before that in neighborhoods where we're connected into each other's central nervous systems. We can speak to as many as will hear so as to bring all of us into action on short notice. We can persuade any of us to make any change we want. We need multimode feedback, a non-fail communications network among ourselves everywhere. We have to invent a fail-safe communications loop. We will start in our homes, with democratic conversations among friends, and we will go across the bridges and the tracks to where real people are suffering and struggle alongside them.

Happy people being together, using technology for people, not for profit--that's There. Here is here. We must take our own vision from there to here. We are on the lip of alliance, of fully articulating the vision inherent in our ideas and historical situation from the first. We are three or four months from completing that process. But we have yet to build the ship that will sail. We have been given pause by internecine struggles about procedure without substance; if we weren't such a powerful movement, that would have sunk us already. But we have got now through this valley of the shadow and have got to the high pass. Now we have to ask, "What do we need that we don't have in order to prevail?"

We need a people's movement that is independent of government and both political parties--locally, statewide and nationally. We must build at the same time a new global people's movement. We need the AfD as the organization that revives and teaches the population and is dedicated not to be this movement but to the precipitation of it, first here and then everywhere.

We badly need a worldwide union of workers. It's stunning how disconnected the peoples' movements of the world are. They need joining into one mass movement. We need democratically produced analyses of issues and proposed remedies. That's what this convention is doing. We need an educational consortium where we share what we know and listen to learn. We need action on issues, picking those most likely to produce the most results for the least investment of time, passions, work and money, and at the least necessary personal risk to ourselves and our allies.

We have an integrity requirement--that our actions not require economic means that we can't get if we don't sell out to the all-buying oligarchy. We have to practice actual democracy even if it means reinventing it so that no one is master and no one is slave. In our new AfD Constitution that is now under draft, officers should be removable for reasons of general dissatisfaction that don't have to be specified. Now that's a reinvention.

We can't waste time begging for reforms that the oligarchy wont allow. Begging for campaign finance reform on our knees? No. Direct action? Yes. We need our own mainstream media, a communications commons based on open and democratic use of the airwaves that people own. Then we need legal and constitutional action, each person taking responsibility for his or her own acts.

This is going to be a working convention, small enough that we'll get to know each other well. It's a second-wind convention, after a year in which we've been knocking the wind out of each other.

Atchison is Amelia Earhart's birthplace, "the city where dreams take flight." As Eleanor Roosevelt said, the future belongs to people who believe in their dreams, and our dreams are formulating themselves in our listening to each other. The test, however, is not in our dreams but in the mechanisms we create to have an organization that can get to the midpoint where our dreams can take off. We need the bookkeeper, event planner, typist, moneyraiser, organizer, speaker, thinker, recordkeeper, and people on e-mail. We must build an airplane that won't disappear over the Equator. Let's stand our ground and draw the line and build it.


Jo Seidita, committee chair, presented the convention rules (Attachment #1). She added Rules from Dear Abby: Learn to disagree without being disagreeable; be assertive but not abrasive; don't be judgmental; remember that eye contact, shaking hands and touching are important; be kind and courteous as civility is a sign of strength; speak softly; let your opponent withdraw; remember that attitude is more important than aptitude; show mutual respect; let people be heard without interruption; and remember that the shortest distance between two people is a smile.

MOTION from the floor to adopt the rules as presented.

Discussion concerned whether Section V on voting procedures would allow chapters to represent their members' divisions. Janet Harris, Baltimore MD, offered an AMENDMENT to allow chapters to represent their members proportionally, with weighted votes not necessarily constant within a delegation, so that chapter votes more accurately reflect their members' divisions on different issues.

Discussion concerned whether existing rules supported the proposed change; the relative time required by the two methods; and how cumbersome the change would be. Caplan suggested a trial period, but Harris rejected the idea on grounds that voting forms existed to make the procedure quick. Bruce Hunter offered a FRIENDLY AMENDMENT to make the change possible at the chair's discretion, but Harris rejected it, and he withdrew the amendment. She noted that nothing in her amendment authorized any delay of voting for caucus purposes.

VOTE: TO ADOPT THE AMENDMENT ALLOWING PROPORTIONAL REPRESENTATION: CARRIED on a voice vote without dissent or abstention (Attachment #2).

VOTE: TO ADOPT THE RULES AS AMENDED: CARRIED on a voice vote without dissent or abstention.


Seidita reported the Nominations Committee recommendations for convention co-chairs: AfD co-chairs Ruth Caplan and Ronnie Dugger. She made a MOTION to elect them by acclamation.



Seidita noted that this year's nominating committee was picked by the AfD national council, but that the convention would elect a nominating committee for 1999 officers. She described voting procedures and read the 1998 nominees:

--Co-chairs: Dugger and Mid-Atlantic Regional Rep. Sue Wheaton;

--Co-vice-chairs: Co-vice chair Kwazi Nkrumah and Nancy Price, Davis CA;

--Treasurer: Marie Smith, Kansas City MO [convention registrar];

--Secretary: no nominee;

--At-large delegates: Joe Seeman, Capital District of New York; Sarah Craven, Southeast Regional Representative; Arnold Stanton, Delaware at-large member; Marc Loveless, Chicago IL; Emilie Nichols, Denver CO; and Nancy Campbell, Columbia MO [convention coordinator];

--Nominations committee: Bob Comeaux, San Antonio TX, ombudsman; Laura Jennings-Cranford, Northeast Regional Representative; Ben Kjelshus, Mo-Kan chapter; Al Krebs, Washington at-large member; and Joanne Omang, AfD secretary.


Seidita introduced the proposed convention agenda (Attachment #3) and made a MOTION to adopt the agenda. Discussion concerned whether time to adopt resolutions had been included. It was agreed to add such time on Friday.

VOTES: TO AMEND THE AGENDA and APPROVE IT AS AMENDED: CARRIED by voice votes without dissent or abstentions.


Caplan presented the financial statement for the period June 1, 1997, through Oct. 1, 1997 (Attachment #4). She pointed out that the balance sheet reflects the costs of starting up the organization as an asset, with the associated debt as a liability. This includes expenses paid for out of pocket from personal funds by Dugger ($16,636) and consulting fees to co-vice chair Kati Winchell ($10,957) and Jonathan Fine of the Boston/Cambridge AfD ($2,000) in their early roles as national coordinator and executive director respectively. Caplan said regular financial reports would henceforth appear in Alliance Reports, most likely on a quarterly basis.


Committee co-chair Mike Givel said SAC had collected ideas for two years, beginning with those from nine "task forces" named at the last convention and continuing with locals' and individuals' suggestions. The AfD council at its February meeting recommended four short-term actions for 1997: a Declaration of Independence from Corporate Rule; opposition to the MAI; participation in The Other Economic Summit (TOES) during the Group of Seven industrialized nations' meeting in Denver; and a harvest food action campaign against agribusiness giants.

Members were solicited for longer-range suggestions and more than 200 were offered. Those were catalogued this summer for a two-stage straw preference poll. The outcome informed the convention delegates in their choice of eight proposed National Actions (which will receive AfD resources of funding, effort and time) and five proposed National Recommendations for Action (which will receive endorsements only). The convention will vote which of these to accept this week.

Givel urged delegates and members to join Action Development Groups, which will develop specific actions with specific, doable plans using available resources; and Issue Networks, which will discuss and report on more general goals and educational efforts.

He listed the following campaigns as top vote-getters in the preference poll:

--Launch corporate reform campaigns (to redefine corporate structure and function by preparing a model federal law; end corporate personhood; educate people about the Santa Clara decision; rewrite corporate charters; and elevate people's privacy rights over those of corporations);

--Stop the MAI;

--Reduce corporate welfare and giveaways;

--Bring in single payer health care;

--Redistribute economic wealth;

--Promote election campaign finance reform; and

--Use innovative media forms (video, cable/community TV, and pirate stations) to disseminate the AfD message.

Givel said the goal would be to build a network of people nationwide who will work to implement what we approve here in next few days. Finding allies is an action item by itself.

After discussion of relevant questions to ask about each proposal, the convention adjourned to group discussions of both new and proposed strategies and actions, with convenors as follows:

--MAI: Ruth Caplan and Dave Lewit, Boston;

--Campaign Finance Reform: Francoise Farron, La Jolla CA

--Corporate Structure and Accountability: Ronnie Dugger;

--Health Care: Calvin Simons, Santa Rosa CA;

--Food and Agriculture: Margie Eucalyptus and Ben Kjelshus, Mo-Kan;

--Membership and Coalition Building: George Ripley, Boulder CO; and Alliance Caravan, Ben Sher, Sacramento CA;

--Children's Rights: Nick Seidita, San Fernando Valley CA;

--Clearinghouse on Alternative Economics, with GEO Magazine: Alan Mathews, Reston VA;

--Fielding Candidates: Gary Dugger, Austin TX.

Sue Wheaton distributed materials for afternoon workshop sessions (Attachment #6), to be facilitated as follows:

1-Building and Sustaining Chapters: Jo Seidita and Sue Wheaton
2-Internal Communications and Building New Leadership: Garret Whitney and Joanne Omang
3-Networking and External Communications: Omang and David Lewit
4-Sharing our Visions and Strategies: Mike Givel and Nancy Price

At the evening plenary session, co-chair Caplan reported on AfD lobbying that in conjunction with AFL-CIO efforts had strengthened opposition in Congress to Fast Track authority for the President. Such coalitions would be essential in blocking MAI next spring, she said.


Boston-Cambridge MA: Dave Lewit--participation has stabilized at 20 regulars, a drop from the early days, but rose with the summer MAI conference and a strong follow-up mailing. Other AfD chapters were asked to find out from state attorneys general which laws MAI would challenge. The idea is to get someone in each AG's office looking into MAI and knowing what's at stake.

Indianapolis IND: Jack Miller--the local has two web sites and a speakers' bureau. Members' focus is on opposition to a new sports arena in Indianapolis, which has won them a good bit of TV coverage. A newsletter is going out; they almost have their 501(c)(3) and (c)(4) incorporation completed. They had a rally in May with "FOR SALE" signs in front of the statehouse: it got media attention and flak from the folks inside, who launched an investigation of how such a radical group had obtained access to the Indiana University mainframe computer for its Web site. Newt Gingrich said Indiana Mayor Steve Goldsmith was his favorite mayor, so the local wrote to the Justice Dept asking for an investigation of Goldsmith's finances and they have asked for details.

Pioneer Valley (Western Mass.):
Michael Wolff--With 15-20 paid members, a hard core of half a dozen works at building coalitions, which is easy in such a progressive area, and they are already an effective local force. The local helped start a coalition of 75 progressive organizations reaching to southern Massachusetts. On July 4, members read the draft Declaration at a popular farmers' market and got lots of signers. They hold a social potluck every month that's useful for recruiting.
They helped write and distribute a pamphlet on local farmers and produce that will be effective. Monsanto is doing genetic soybean research and some members are active against its local office. Others are working toward single payer health care.

Washington DC: Jim Schrider--Sue and Phil Wheaton, Ruth Caplan and Joanne Omang are among the DC activists. The local sent members to help organize the 4th of July event in Philadelphia. Its forum on the crack cocaine issue at Howard University was controversial, drawing Dick Gregory and San Jose Mercury News reporter Gary Webb and 600 people to hear them. It produced a connection between Webb and IPS that may lead to hearings/tribunals nationwide. The local wants to be of service to other AfD chapters for their work with Congress and in getting national information.

Campbell noted that the DC local hosted the national council meeting in February, and she introduced singer-songwriter Jim Bush of the North Texas AfD. He sang "Tree Huggers," "This Land is Your Land," and "Join the Alliance."

Birmingham AL: John Withrow--The group draws 3 to 13 at its meetings and wants ideas to increase membership. Dugger brought 'em out initially. Before she moved, former council member Sarah Craven led a boycott of area mushroom farms because of their working conditions. The group is trying to bring Richard Grossman to speak on nature of corporations, and is checking the Alabama corporate code to stimulate interest in changing it. Alabama is not an easy state to work in but the fight is worth the effort.

Chicago: Marc Loveless--the chapter has had organizational challenges: one activist died recently; post-1996 convention energy dissipated in trying to find the right leaders. But the number one industry in Chicago is politics and the phoenix rises. A planning meeting on the race for Rep. Sid Yates' 9th District congressional seat will lead to a People's Congress on it. Jim Hightower will come for a New Party event and Carl Bielby will host an AfD event for him. The state senate has asked Loveless to speak on campaign finance reform as an Alliance voice. Next year's Chicago goal is 30 convention delegates.

Mo-Kan: Frank Neff--Western MO and eastern KS members had been meeting before AfD's creation on progressive concerns. They have worked with other organizations; the Missouri Alliance for Campaign Reform is working now on a citizens' initiative bill. Neff testified on campaign finance reform before an interim committee of the state legislature on governmental organization. At the federal level, members got signatures for a Common Cause petition on Project Independence and delivered for the second time a printout of the 7,500 names on it from Kansas to the office of a state senator where a staff member had said he hadn't been getting any feedback. About 25 people were there from several groups. The local also joined Teamsters and other labor groups twice in making their views known, and they got some press coverage with a wheelbarrow full of "the real farm stuff" with a sign labeling it NAFTA. AfD is now getting some respect from the headquarters of some allied organizations. MO!
also helped organize the AfD convention.

Baltimore MD: Janet Harris--Dugger brought 50 people to a founding meeting in a March snowstorm and many are still involved. The local is meeting with a coalition on clean elections campaign in Maryland and starting other efforts.

Sacramento CA: Ben Sher--Organized just before the founding convention, the local has a solid core of 10 people who show up every two weeks. They demonstrated against the Democratic party for filing suit against the California CFR law. They picketed the statewide Democratic convention with 100 people, got on TV and did not get arrested. Some Hmong people joined the picket line to protest the U.S. sellout of them during Vietnam. The local organized a multicultural panel for Dugger's visit and now plan a March teach-in on corporations.

Campbell introduced folk singer Victor McManemy of Travers MI, who sang "Family Farmers," "Can You Feel Something Growing," and "I Can See a New Day."

Sonoma County CA: Calvin Simons--At the 1996 convention the local had just finished an action opposing the corporate takeover of a local hospital, but the takeover occurred, and the local's energy level declined. It formed working groups on corporate mapping, economic democracy, media study, and CFR. That is the most active now, and the chapter is seeking a plan of action, possibly from the convention. Dugger visited the area for four days, going to the Santa Rosa, Sacramento, Oakland, San Francisco and Davis chapters, and back to Santa Rosa for a Labor Day picnic. The Public Access Media Center let the AfD use new TV equipment and young filmmakers to tape the picnic, so the local has a 28-minute video good for recruiting and showing on educational or public access TV: $10 for anyone interested.

San Fernando Valley CA: Jo Seidita--the oldest AfD chapter meets every month, and even at 106 degrees they never have fewer than 25 members and often 100 or more attending. The chairman and CEO of Bell Industries, Ted Williams, spoke recently on responsible corporate behavior. People go every Saturday to protest the Disney Corp. labor conditions; many rode a bus overnight to protest strawberry workers' conditions. Several committees exist including one on education: it organizes an evening on one subject like the MAI, or sets up a speakers' training session, etc. Signs, brochures, fact sheets get produced. The local puts Dugger on KPFK public radio when he's in town and it generates phone calls for two or three weeks afterward. A profile article on the AfD in the Los Angeles Times generated a lot of interest too. In January the AfD will have a major fundraiser at the home of Stanley Sheinbaum, a prominent local progressive.

North Bridge MA: Garret Whitney--With 43 members (40 national), North Bridge hosts the national office. Two barn sales raised $4,000, of which $1,000 went to National. Constitutional issues absorbed them recently, but they cosponsored an MAI conference with Boston-Cambridge AfD last summer. They are active on CFR and the Massachusetts Clean Elections Campaign, modeled on the Maine initiative. They worked to make Nuclear Metals clean up its process for making the "sabots" that war games troops fire at each other, made of uranium that's still unacceptably hot. In Concord, Esterbrook Woods has five endangered species and Indian burial grounds right where the Army Corps of Engineers wants to put athletic fields. They staged a float in the local July 4th parade to start the Declaration of Independence from Corporate Rule, playing Jim Bush's song, and won a prize for the float with the most words.

Austin TX: Gary Dugger--With 37 national members, they made a statement on CFR, took part in the UPS strike, Earth Day celebrations (petitioning to get Jim Hightower on a local radio station--he is on now); and in the Oct. 4 National Day of Action on Sweatshops and Child Labor, gathering petitions. Now the local is organizing an MAI debate Dec. 3 involving Public Citizen and others. Members have done several radio interviews. The local held a party on July 4 and went to Auditorium Shores to perform a well-received guerrilla theater skit showing corporate fat cats whipping Third World child laborers, greedy politicians taking money, and a woman auctioneering a ballot box to the fat cats.

Davis CA: Nancy Price--some members and another new group, The Friends of Davis, protested a Borders Books set to be the anchor for a commercial development on the edge of Davis' traditional and as yet unmalled downtown. Davis already has eight flourishing bookstores, but wherever Borders comes in, most or all independent bookstores close within two years. The group was denied appeals by the city council and planning commission so have sued the city, the U of California at Davis (whose land is in question) and the developer. The $350/hr lawyer on the other side filed a dismissal mostion that will be heard in January. The group received a foundation donation and has a fiscal sponsor, so they can be a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) organization.

North Texas: Jim Bush--the local TXI cement plant, through a legal loophole, burns toxic waste as fuel and has applied for a permit to burn twice as much. The group Downwinders at Risk found out about a regulatory board meeting near the plant so built a fake smokestack and had a skit along the highway, getting motorists to honk for their benefit. Political action can be a lot of fun.

Jim Bush and Victor McManemy performed for the delegates songs of movement and hope.

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