to End the Iraq War: A Strategy to Put Antiwar Measures on City and County Ballots
Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has endorsed John McCain for president. He also vetoed a bill to place an initiative on the ballot asking voters whether they support withdrawal from Iraq. Schwarzenegger plans to cut $8 billion from next year’s state budget. Estimated cost of the Iraq War next year to California taxpayers: $19 billion (Bay Area cost: $5.3 billion). If the money from California taxpayers spent on the Iraq War went to state services or to federal aid to states instead, budget cuts would not be needed.
Thirty-one cities and counties in California have already passed resolutions against the Iraq War and/or in support of troop withdrawal, including the counties of Alameda, Marin, and Santa Clara and the cities of Oakland, San Francisco, Sacramento, and San Jose. If the city councils and boards of supervisors that have passed resolutions simply placed antiwar measures on the ballot, 25 percent of California voters would have a chance to vote to end the war. The addition of Los Angeles County alone would allow 40 percent of Californians to vote on the war. Suggested Text of the Initiative Shall the Congress and President of the United States end the U.S. occupation of Iraq and immediately begin the safe and orderly withdrawal of all U.S. troops and military bases, to be completed no later than November 4, 2009? Shall the taxpayers’ money being spent on the war be used instead to care for our veterans, help reconstruct Iraq, and provide funding for unmet needs here at home? Shall the U.S. government, in order to help end the Iraq War sooner and enable a safer withdrawal of U.S. troops, allow Iraqis to vote in a national referendum on whether U.S. troops should be withdrawn, and should it seriously consider their vote in planning for withdrawal?
The Iraq Initiatives Project was formed to encourage the placement of antiwar ballot measures on state, city, and county ballots throughout the country as well as in California. There is not enough time to get an initiative qualified for the statewide California ballot. There is still time, however, to get measures onto city and county ballots. We can do this by convincing county boards of supervisors or city councils to put them on the ballot. There isn’t enough time to gather signatures to place them on local ballots through formal citizen-petition initiative procedures. Wherever possible, county-level ballot measures should be pursued because they allow more people to vote on the measure than doing it city by city. If the board of supervisors is not liberal enough, then try placing a measure on the ballot through the city council.
The principal concern of local governments this spring and summer will be budget cuts. The budget crisis provides an opportunity to broaden the coalition in support of placing these initiatives on the ballot, by linking the cost of the war to state and local budget cuts, and by convincing local government officials that ending the war soon will be essential if any help is to come from the federal government.
Deadline for city councils and boards of supervisors to place measures on the ballot: August 8.
This strategy is really brilliant. The value of the initiatives here is to educate and engage more Americans in the peace movement’s agenda and to build a greater mandate [for withdrawal]. The value of a referendum in Iraq is much greater. If it passed (as it would), it would undermine the occupation.
--Tom Hayden, February 28, 2008 California Cities and Counties That Opposed the War Before It Started or Have Called for U.S. Withdrawal
Bay Area Cities That Have Passed Resolutions (listed by county)
Alameda (oppose war)
Berkeley (oppose war, support withdrawal)
Emeryville (oppose war)
Oakland (oppose war, support withdrawal)
Contra Costa County
El Cerrito (oppose war)
Richmond (support withdrawal)
Fairfax (oppose war)
City of Sacramento (support withdrawal)
Santa Clara County
Palo Alto (oppose war)
San Jose (oppose war)
Santa Cruz County
Santa Cruz (oppose war, support withdrawal)
Cotati (oppose war)
Sebastopol (oppose war, support withdrawal)
Davis (oppose war, support withdrawal)
The Rest of the State
Humboldt County: Arcata
Los Angeles County: Culver City, Los Angeles, Malibu, San Fernando, Santa Monica, Topanga, West Hollywood
Mendocino County: Ft. Bragg, Mendocino, Point Arena, Ukiah
San Luis Obispo County: San Luis Obispo
Santa Barbara County: Santa Barbara
List taken from Cities for Progress, www.citiesforprogress.org. It has links to the text of some of these resolutions.
The Cost of the War to Bay Area Cities and Counties in 2008
If President Bush’s FY 2008 budget request for the war in Iraq is approved, it will cost California an estimated $19.7 billion. The Bay Area cost is $5.3 billion. Taken from National Priorities Project, www.nationalpriorities.org
Yolo County, $106 million
What You Can Do 1. For more information about this strategy, visit the Ecumenical Peace Institute website, www.epicalc.org.
2. Hold meetings to consider this strategy in your county or city. If you are interested in helping get an antiwar measure on the ballot in Alameda County, contact Janet Gibson c/o the Ecumenical Peace Institute.
3. Donate. Make your check payable to the Ecumenical Peace Institute, and earmark it for the Iraq Initiatives Project. Ecumenical Peace Institute/Clergy and Laity Concerned, P.O. Box 9334, Berkeley, California 94709.
We are faced with the fact, my friends, that tomorrow is today. We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now. . . . There is such a thing as being too late.
-- Martin Luther King Jr., “Beyond Vietnam,” speech at the inaugural meeting of Clergy and Laity Concerned, April 4, 1967