• The Act 2 Reforms
  • The Act 2 Reforms
Act 2 Inc
Lakewood, Colorado  80226

OUR HISTORY

What Legacy Will We Leave Our Children?

EARLY FOOTSTEPS, 2002-2013

After retiring in 2002 I developed a keen interest in government and read avidly, collecting a library of more than 100 books on the subject. The more I learned, however, the more discouraged I became with the way our federal government worked. But I found I was not alone in my despair: surveys showed the public trust in the government was sinking to levels unthinkable in earlier times.

 

To vent my frustrations, I began writing short essays on the need for governmental reform, which evolved in three stages: at first, the writing was random and unfocused; by 2010 it had grown into a small book and website that broadly covered policy issues that I felt needed to be changed; then in 2013 it occurred to me that the only way we could achieve reform in our highly politicized federal government would be to concentrate first on the processes of the federal government. and leave policy issues to be dealt with after we had repaired the structure of the government. I was convinced that well-crafted reforms could encourage good government. With a properly functioning government, I would expect to see better results on policy coming out of Washington.

 

From my studies, I had concluded that a successful democracy needed both an effective government and an informed electorate, so reforms should be directed to these two objectives. But since I felt that efforts to better inform the electorate could encounter conflicts with our right to free speech, I decided to focus my initial reforms on creating an effective government. That in itself would be a sizable undertaking. You will note that this does not require touching any partisan policy issues; it only considers the effectiveness of the government (or in simple terms, how the government works). And to increase our chances for success, I maintained a strict policy of embracing only non-partisan reforms.

 

THE LAUNCH IN 2014

 

I started with a wide canvas of reform ideas, which would have been too complex to embrace immediately. So I narrowed the field to these five reforms that I felt could transform the federal government into an effective and more efficient organization: (1) enforce the Rule of Law against federal employees, (2) restrain overreach by the executive branch, (3) force Congress to consider all claims on the federal purse in the annual budget, (4) invoke term limits on the federal judiciary and Congress, and (5) impose election finance reform.

In June of 2014, two highly regarded political observers published articles in the Wall Street Journal that supported my assessment. The articles were by William A. Galston, senior fellow of the Brookings Institution and former domestic policy adviser in the Clinton White House, and the late Francis Fukuyama, an author, senior fellow at the Freeman Spongli Institute for International Studies, and member of numerous boards for influential international groups. Here’s some of what they had to say:

 

  • “Amid this welter of statistics, one thing is clear: The U.S. government has become dysfunctional and there is shared responsibility to fix it. Leaders must behave differently, which will not happen unless the people insist on a different kind of governance.” (Emphasis added) – Galston

  • “Proponents of democracy focus . . . on limiting the power of tyrannical or predatory states. But they don’t spend as much time thinking about how to govern effectively . . . . Americans, more than other people, often fail to understand the need for effective government, focusing instead on the constraint of authority.” (Emphasis added) – Fukuyama

My goal may have seemed impossibly bold and ambitious, but as I went to work it appeared achievable. Constitutional amendments appeared that were simple in concept yet profound in impact, and I began molding a message for delivery to the public. My wife and I then began the effort to start a movement with these short term goals:

  1. Analyze governmental problems and identify the underlying causes of the dysfunction.

  2. Develop proposed solutions for these underlying causes.

  3. Write descriptions of the causes and solutions (a Message) that would inspire and motivate the public and elected officials to take action on the reforms.

  4. Develop an attractive website to reach the public, Congress, and state legislators with the Message.

  5. Consider various avenues of communicating the Message to the public and elected officials; conduct market tests of selected avenues.

  6. When the Message has been refined and finalized and communicating avenues have been evaluated, implement broad outreach programs to publicize the reform program.

  7. Obtain endorsements from authority figures that are known to and respected by the public.

  8. Establish a presence in the Washington DC area to work effectively with Congress on the reforms.

  9. Find other sources of funding to supplement the seed money the Keeneys were committing.

  10. Establish and maintain good business practices in the management of Act 2 Inc, a Colorado non-profit corporation that is the sponsor of the Act 2 website and Movement.

 

 

 

PROGRESS IN 2015

 

​In 2015, we made substantial progress on our short-term goals:

Goal #1 – Analyze Problems: The study of the problems was completed and documented in a booklet.

 

Goal #2 – Find solutions: Proposed amendments were drafted and reviewed with Robert G. Natelson, a consultant and nationally recognized constitutional scholar. The draft was edited and portions were rewritten by Natelson, with the final versions printed in a booklet.

 

Goal #3 – Write Literature: Additional literature was written for use in the outreach program tests.

 

Goals #4, 5 and 6 – Test Communication Channels: A large Denver strategic marketing company was engaged to design and implement a website intended to attract interest and support from the public, including management of social media programs. One of their senior staff had extensive experience in local government, Chamber of Commerce leadership, and in building grassroots movements, and he was assigned to act as our consultant. These steps followed:

  • The consultant recruited a group of volunteers to assist at the events described below.

  • The consultant assembled a focus group to discuss the Act 2 reforms.

  • The consultant made two trips to Washington DC to visit a number of organizations interested in governmental reforms to make them aware of our plans and look for possible synergies.

  • The consultant attended the annual meeting of the Leadership Program of the Rockies; 500 booklets were included in attendee literature packets.

  • The consultant gave a talk and distributed literature to a Rotary Club luncheon. 

  • We rented a booth at the three-day annual Western Conservative Summit in Denver (attendance of approximately 4,000), and the consultant and volunteers distributed more than 500 packets of literature there.

  • We rented a booth for the Parade Day of the annual Western Welcome Week in Littleton CO (attendance estimated at nearly 100,000), and the consultant and volunteers again distributed more than 500 packets of literature.

  • We joined a group in Denver that was working to promote an Article V convention of states to propose constitutional amendments.

  • We established a relationship with the American Legislative Exchange Council to facilitate communications with state legislators and joined the ALEC task force on Federalism.

  • We sponsored a reception in Washington at which ALEC announced the formation of a liaison with Congressmen that were formerly ALEC members when they were state legislators; we distributed literature at this and other ALEC meetings of legislators.

  • Our constitutional scholar gave a talk on Act 2 to a national meeting of about 100 state legislators, distributing literature to them.

  • After each public event, I watched the metrics of the website. The results were disappointing; the events appeared to have no lasting effect.

  • In December 2015 our initial direct mail outreach with the Act 2 Reform Blueprint was launched (1) to the public in a mailing to 130 family, friends and acquaintances; (2) to more than 150 executives in organizations that we consider to be candidates for collaboration with the Act 2 Movement; these executives could be instrumental in spreading the word through their national membership networks, and we hoped some would advocate for our reforms with Congress; and (3) to 50 leaders in Congress, in the Senate and House.

Goal #7 – Obtain Endorsements: We were reluctant to approach potential endorsers until we had confirmation that the Message was ready for prime time, and before that happened we were dissuaded from this step when we were advised by other experienced reformers to avoid endorsements. Their experience had shown that endorsements could create adverse reactions if the endorser was too partisan or otherwise was seen as carrying political baggage. Consequently, we decided against seeking endorsements at that time.

 

Goal #8 – Establish a Washington Base: In December 2015 we decided it was time to explore setting up a presence in the Washington DC area to begin working to educate Congress on the benefits of our reforms. We were introduced to two experienced lobbying firms in DC that advised us on the merits and projected cost of mounting a lobbying effort. Their estimated cost of $1.5 to $2 million (with no assurances of success!) was beyond our capability, and we did not pursue it.

 

Goal #9 – New Funding: With our Message defined and the new website in place, we felt we were ready for a significant expansion of outreach, which would require new sources of funding. In September 2015 we submitted an application to the IRS for recognition as a tax-exempt organization under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, which would facilitate this fund raising. On December 10th the IRS gave us a favorable ruling, so future donors to Act 2 Inc could be assured that their donations are tax deductible.

 

Goal #10 – Good Management: All corporate legal filings are kept current; a robust accounting system was installed with financial statements issued on a regular basis; and work commenced to expand the Board of Directors, to give majority control to outside (unaffiliated) directors.

 

 

ACTIVITY IN 2016-2017

 

Based on what we had learned in our work of 2014-2015, we evaluated our results and planned our next steps:

  • When Act 2 is presented to the public, the typical reaction is uncertainty: the reforms seem to make sense, but the individual’s limited knowledge of how our government works makes them feel they are not qualified to pass judgment on the proposals. They need someone they know and trust to recommend the program to them. This will give them permission to take a stand and support the Movement. This suggested that we should turn to Congress and/or state legislatures rather than pursue a grass roots strategy.

  • Based on the material we had developed and distributed at the various events, we decided to write a few new pieces of literature with a strong focus on our most urgent problems and solutions for them. This was done in a booklet titled Our Moment for Greatness, and we 5 were satisfied that this Message was ready for broad exposure to the public, Congress and state legislators.

  • We decided that we needed a new website that delivered our message more effectively than our first one; it was to be based on the Message in the new literature. A firm located on the East Coast with a successful background in public policy outreach was engaged. They developed this new site (including social media programs) with completion in early 2016.

Because of the growing partisanship and dysfunction in Washington, we turned our focus to state legislatures. Article V of the Constitution makes provision for reform through amendments, which may be originated by a super-majority vote in Congress or by application of two-thirds of the state legislatures, and a number of other reform groups were pursuing the state path. We decided that this was the only viable path today.

We completed the message rewrite and in late 2016 began a search for an Executive Director. Meanwhile, in late 2016 a personal matter intruded: my wife and I decided it was time to downsize and move into a senior community. The search for a suitable facility, downsizing of furnishings and disposal of the excess, and move to the new space took about nine months. That effort left little time available for Act 2, so it lay dormant.

 

 

 

2018 & 2019: A NEW STRATEGY

 

During 2018, reports from other Article V reform movements were not encouraging: no significant progress had been made. This made us reluctant to start the multi-year task to seek favorable actions from legislatures in 34 states, and we began considering a new and different approach of trying to combine the efforts of all Article V movements into one coordinated group. In December we decided to suspend our marketing efforts and take the month of January 2019 to review our options.

In that process we met Neal Schuerer, who presented us with a proposal that we temporarily suspend promotion of the Act 2 reforms and focus on helping legislative leaders in mobilizing the states to call for a convention. He pointed out that we could utilize state applications that had been approved in previous years (there are more than 250) and aggregate them with new applications. An analysis of those older applications indicated that about 30 were still valid for calling an open (plenary) convention, which would dramatically reduce the size of new actions required by states. We concluded that this approach was a game-changer, and hired him as Executive Director on February 1, 2019 to pursue this strategy. After a convention has been called, we will present the Act 2 proposed reforms to the convention for consideration.

With our support, a core group of legislative leaders from Ohio, Iowa and Wisconsin have formed the Assembly of Legislative Leaders (ALL) with a mission to call a convention of states under Article V of the US Constitution. Neal will attend about 10 meetings of national legislator organizations this summer to promote and build the ALL organization. We have drafted new literature to support this effort. Our target is to convene a convention within 18 months.

 

May 2019