Saturday Forum Targets Reform
Published September 25th 2005 in The Eureka Reporter
On Saturday, a forum sponsored by the Humboldt County Democratic Central Committee and the California Clean Money Campaign will be held at the Wharfinger Building in Eureka to present information on election and campaign finance reform.

Speakers have been drawn from local and statewide organizations, according to the central committee.

Susan Lerner, the executive director of the California Clean Money Campaign (, will travel to Eureka from Los Angeles to speak on why and how elections should be publicly financed.

“The Clean Money system of full public financing of election campaigns is designed to break the link between large donations and public policy,” Lerner said. “The goal of the system is to shift the emphasis in campaigns from who has collected the most money to who has the best ideas and background.”

Assemblywoman Loni Hancock sponsored AB 583, which would bring about public financing of elections in California. Lerner will talk about the bill’s progress and the strategy for passage.

Alan Dechert of Sacramento is the president of the Open Voting Consortium ( and a master open-source computer programmer, according to the committee.

“Open-source software is in the public domain and Dechert became well known when he published an open-source Y2K tool kit that was widely used by businesses and governments around the world,” according to the committee’s news release.

The central committee said the Open Voting Consortium favors using open-source software to tabulate election results so that results can not be rigged.

“This concept is being studied by the California secretary of state and is being advanced as legislation (SB 370),” according to the committee’s news release. “According to Dechert, California could be using open-source election software as early as the 2008 presidential election and the software would be available free to other states.”

Californians for Electoral Reform ( will be represented by the group’s vice president, Bob Richard of Oakland, who will discuss electoral reform measures such as proportional representation and instant runoff voting.

“Instant runoff voting in single-seat elections, and proportional representation in multi-seat elections, will make elected officials more representative, reduce negative campaigning, and increase citizen participation in the political process,” Richards said.

Eureka resident Yvonne Doble will present on behalf of the Humboldt Coalition of Community Rights ( about the Humboldt County Initiative she and others are promoting to limit the amount of money spent by out-of-area corporations.

The ordinance that they will try to pass in the June 2006 election would restrict the amount of money that out-of-county corporations could contribute in any election to $25,000.

Patrick Higgins of the Humboldt County Democratic Central Committee will speak about the Take-Initiative campaign (, which is aimed at reforming the California initiative, referendum and recall process by disallowing pay for signature collection on petitions to qualify measures.

“According to a California Public Policy Research Center poll, 60 percent of Californians favored disallowing pay for signatures, so we think our could pass in November 2006, but it would still face legal hurdles because of Supreme Court precedents,” Higgins said.

He will also talk about how current initiatives being considered in the Nov. 8 special election were qualified and why those advanced by Gov. Schwarzenegger should be defeated, he said.

Doors at the Wharfinger will open at 9 a.m. for coffee and bagels and speakers will begin at 9:30 a.m. There is no charge for admission.