Anything but Inactive
Your May 1997 edition contains a letter from Ben Coates concerning the Alliance
for Democracy in Indianapolis. His letter highlights our lack of action.
Our local group began in January 1996. Since our group began we have demonstrated
several times against building a New Arena for the Indianapolis Pacers out
of tax dollars. We have been on TV, radio, had letters published in local
newspapers concerning our protests on using tax dollars for the Mega-Millionaire
owners of the Pacers, and we have gathered petitions and sent them to the
City County Council. The Alliance for Democracy is the only organized resistance
to this tax dollar grab by the owners of the Pacers and their political
We have also demonstrated in front of the Indiana State House for Campaign
Finance Reforms. I spoke personally on Campaign Finance Reform at two different
meetings of the Legislators.
We cannot create a large activist organization overnight. Our Alliance Group
has its own Web Page. We have been anything but silent or inactive.
Indianapolis, IN 46268
Indiana Alliance is Active
As Coordinator for the Central Indiana Alliance For Democracy, I've been
amused at all the publicity we have received in the pages of the Progressive
Populist. It's good to hear from Phil Farruggio again even if it is
via Iowa! I hadn't heard a peep from him since December and I was beginning
to worry. (Nice photo, Phil. I hadn't realized how much you favor Tony Curtis!)
Phil's little story is one thing, but the letter in your May issue from
a Mr. Ben Coates deserves some comment. The most significant point is that
no one in our group has ever heard of Ben Coates. Even with my sleuthing
background (I have read the entire Hardy Boy canon), I can't figure this
one out! My wife suggested that he may be "a copy-cat disparager."
All this attention has moved us to make a partial list of our group's accomplishments.
In the past 12 months we have:
- Sent a delegate to the International Forum on Globalization in May
- Held monthly meetings;
- Testified at State Campaign Finance Hearings;
- Held a rally protesting the FBI refusal to investigate our Mayor while
he was running for Governor.
- Sent 5 delegates to the National Alliance Convention in Texas in November
- Sent numerous letters to the editors of local newspapers (published
and unpublished). Joined a letter-writing campaign that helped derail (for
now) the NAFTA highway in southern Indiana.
- Have been networking with at least 20 other groups. Have given gift
subscriptions for the Progressive Populist to several local groups
and libraries. Had a booth at Earth Day Indiana.
- Formed a Speaker's Bureau and spoke at several organizations about
The Alliance For Democracy.
- Set up a Web Site which has generated a lot of attention.
- Held demonstrations protesting the use of public funds for a professional
sports arena (during the NCAA Tournament and at City-County Council meetings).
Were the only dissenting voices at the only public meeting held about the
new arena. These have all led to television, radio and newspaper interviews.
- Joined the Restore Democracy Coalition in a protest of a Republican
fund raiser during the legislative session, which resulted in the fund raiser
being canceled. Also demonstrated in front of a Democratic Party fund raiser
in 20 degrees below zero weather.
- Co-sponsored and attended: Freedom of Information Seminar in Indianapolis
with Ralph Nader; a series of forums with Unity In Our Community; Hoosier
Environmental Council Congress. Co-sponsored and sent delegates to Independent
Progressive Politics Network in Decatur, Ill. Stood in for Ronnie Dugger.
- Held a "Statehouse For Sale" demonstration for an entire
day while the legislature was in session.
- Had a mass mailing of our first Newsletter.
We are all proud of what we've done here in a short time, and very proud
to be part of this remarkable national movement!
In conclusion I would like to ask Phil (who attended two Alliance meetings)
and Ben (whoever he may be) -- What good does it do to circle the wagons
and then fire towards the center? These unseemly, in-print sniping sessions
may boost one' s ego, but they drain energy that could be better spent advancing
the cause of democracy. The forces of unrestrained corporate greed must
rejoice every time they see us blazing away at each other, and that is a
JACK MILLER, Coordinator
Alliance For Democracy
Indianapolis & Central Indiana
PO Box 34133
Clermont, IN 46234
Phil Farrugio replies:
I'm glad you enjoyed my piece on Naptown and the non-existent populist alliance.
Interesting how when I was urging letter writing campaigns to the legislature,
etc., regarding the Maine Clean Elections [Act], you were silent. Interesting
when on Dec. 3, you sat silent as Ullman and Vaughn and the other clown
sabotaged our plans. Interesting how yourself and Pat have done nothing
but use rhetoric regarding publicly financed campaigns. Since December!
As far as lauding your alliance and their fight against a new arena in Naptown:
I agree wholeheartedly. However, the damn Capitol Building and State Legislature
is right downtown, Jack! Has your group ever protested vehemently, as populists,
against the scams created by this "one party" here in Indiana?
Where were the demonstrations demanding all money out of campaigns,
i.e. Maine? Where are your priorities, Jack? How can you call yourselves
populists with such tunnel vision? Fighting a new arena is all well and
good. Fighting for the right and access of citizens to run for elected offices,
locally, is better.
Now you tell the Progressive Populist your opinions about letters
commending my writing? Shame on you. Do yourself a favor, Jack: Stick to
cartoons. They're pretty good. Much better than your activism. You're in
the right place, Naptown.
Jack, perhaps the fault lies in the "titles and labels". Perhaps
Pat should push the "Prof" aside and be a citizen. Perhaps you
should push the labels of "Amnesty International" and "blah,
blah, blah alliance: etc. and be like me, a citizen, independent and seeking
change. The labels and titles can choke you, Jack.
Finally, my brief experience here in the "heartland" can be summed
up by this incident. I was pulled over last December by a sheriff's deputy.
He claimed I turned at a red light. I felt I didn't, already having been
in the intersection. When I politely told him so, he paused and answered,
"I wasn't going to pull you over, but when I saw your New York plates,
that did it!" A relative of yours, Jack? Or an alliance member?
I was completely appalled to read Molly Ivins' dismissal of the world's
environmental problems in her "Wasting Perfectly Good Anger" piece,
for which she invented the fanciful and oxymoronic term "international
biosphere". Usually Ms. Ivins shows commendable forethought and judgement
in her columns, but to lump global environmental problems in with "black
helicopter" conspiracies does a disservice to her reputation and abilities
as a writer and a thinking person. I respectfully ask Ms. Ivins to do a
little bit of reading on the subject before making such an ignorant generalization
in the future.
We must build some consensus and a coalition around the issues that matter,
and thus have some influence in the political wasteland that we all find
ourselves. It would behoove all activists and writers to stretch the boundaries
of their knowledge base a bit further and see the inextricable connections
between environmental and social problems.
Maybe we should worry less about the "liberal" press and more
about people writing for populist rags.
First Nations Health Project, Inc.
7435 SW 31st Ave.
Portland, OR 97219
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