Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Paul Jacob: Putting Citizens in Charge

Paul Jacob, president of Citizens in Charge and a senior advisor at the Sam Adams Alliance, will be speaking at the University of Virginia tonight at the invitation of Students for Individual Liberty. According to the email announcement of the event:

On Wednesday, April 2, Students for Individual Liberty at the University of Virginia will sponsor an address by Paul Jacob. His address, entitled "Why Government Wants You to Shut Up and Pay Your Taxes: Attacks on Voters," will begin at 7:30 p.m. in Room 222 of Cabell Hall at U.Va. The event is free and open to the public.

Mr. Jacob is a senior advisor to the Sam Adams Institute in Chicago. He has recently been involved in a legal controversy with the state of Oklahoma concerning the rights of citizens to place an initiative on the ballot in Oklahoma. Information about this controversy is available at
In anticipation of his speech tonight, Paul was a guest on Rob Schilling's afternoon radio program on WINA-AM in Charlottesville. I was there to get the interview on video.

In Part I, host Rob Schilling introduces his program, mentioning a "pizza and root beer" reception in the lobby of Lane Auditorium that will welcome Albemarle County citizens who will be attending the Board of Supervisors' hearing on the budget and taxes. He then introduces his guest, who begins his own remarks by talking about his experience in the term limits movement in the 1990s.

In Part II, Schilling and Jacob continue the discussion about term limits.

Part III opens up the discussion to other topics, such as eminent domain abuse and the Supreme Court's Kelo decision, as well as citizen initiatives to enact taxpayer bills of rights (TABORs):

In the final segment, Part IV, Jacob talks about the politically-motived prosecution of him and two colleagues who worked on a citizen initiative in Oklahoma. He describes how Oklahoma Attorney General Drew Edmondson brought felony charges against him and how the prosecution is designed to silence citizen activists who dare to oppose the interests of elected public officials:

One of the points that Paul makes in the last few minutes of the interview is that, unlike decades past, local political news can now become nationally prominent because, especially, bloggers write about it and draw attention to it. Public officials in Oklahoma can no longer misbehave and assume that citizen activists in Virginia won't hear about it -- or complain about it. So true.

Paul also explains, just before the end of the program, what Virginia voters can do to see that our laws are changed to allow citizen initiative in this state, a privilege enjoyed by voters in 24 other states but not in the Commonwealth. He says that voters should simply insist that politicians -- who hold all the cards now -- promise to pursue a constitutional amendment to permit citizens to initiate legislation that politicians refuse to consider because it adversely affects their (the politicians', not the voters') interests.

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