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LWV League of Women Voters of California
California State Government October 7, 2003 Election
Smart Voter Full Biography for Dick Lane

Candidate for
Recall of Gray Davis; State of California

This information is provided by the candidate

Why Dick Lane?

At age 19, I worked as a spy in Russia and China. At 23, I helped people escape across the Berlin Wall. In 1975, I rebuffed a KGB attempt to recruit me, while I was studying at Moscow State University. Later, I smuggled high tech printing equipment into the Soviet Union for use by the Christian Democrats and after the fall of communism, I was instrumental in establishing exchange programs between the California State University system and several universities in Russia. Leadership is a part of my makeup.

I was born on the first day of spring 1938, in Portland, Oregon. Six years later, my family moved to Los Angeles to be with my grandparents, who had taken on the responsibility of managing a small hotel owned by his Japanese friend, interned for the duration of the war.

I had the normal childhood of scouts, summer camp, paper routes, etc. My father sometimes took my younger brother, David, and me shooting in the dry riverbed of the Rio Honda. That experience later helped me earn a merit badge in marksmanship and eventually become an Eagle Scout. What was not normal was the divorce of my parents and the hard work laid on my mother to raise two boys as a single parent.

My interest in politics began very early. Coming from a Democratic family, I felt called upon to defend President Truman when he fired General McArthur to my sixth grade teacher, Mrs. Wolfe; bless her soul. She made me stand up for what I believed. In 1952, I plunged into the local effort to elect Adlai Stevenson and John Sparkman. I worked alongside George Brown, who later became the dean of the California Congressional delegation. I followed the McCarthy hearings with intense interest. The American Legion post in Monterey Park sponsored my participation in Boys' State, a week long intensive experience in community organizing and building held in Sacramento. Throughout my years at Mark Keppel High School, I was active in the National Forensic League, specializing in debate and impromptu speaking, and Jr. Statesmen, a fantastic youth organization that held annual conventions in the chambers of the California Assembly, planting dreams of public service in many young heads.

My focus on politics was a normal part of my upbringing. My mother was the president of the local Democratic club and active in establishing Alan Cranston's CDC, California Democratic Council. Her connections certainly smoothed the way for me to land a job with Assemblyman, later Senator, Al Song, the first Korean American elected to the California legislature. I managed Al's office in East Los Angeles, taking care of constituent needs and acting as liaison with MAPA, the Mexican American Political Association.

Throughout my high school years, I worked as a delivery boy for our local Rexall pharmacy and saved enough money for a six-month bicycle tour of Europe. Our local Rotary Club named me their ambassador, which gave me entree to all the Rotary clubs of Europe and introduced me to some very fine dining, as well as some very community-minded business people. In Vienna, I chanced to meet a group of visiting Hungarian librarians, who two months later participated in the heroic uprising in Budapest.

The travel bug bit me deeply, so in summer 1957, I went back to Europe, but this time, to Eastern Europe. I attended the World Youth Festival in Moscow, when Nikita Khrushchev tried to show the world how open the USSR had become. It was there that I come into contact with some very anti-communist Russians, ready to work for the liberation of their homeland. During the Festival, the entire American delegation of several hundred was invited to visit China. The Dulles State Department put great pressure on us and the number of eventual participants fell to 43. We traveled via the Trans-Siberian railroad to Beijing, from where we launched upon a six-week tour of the entire country, culminating in meetings with Mao Zedong, and Zhou Enlai. For me, the highpoint of the trip occurred on October 1, China's national day, when we stood on the dais, watching more than a million people pass by below on the vastness of Tiananmen Square. I believe the invitation was China's first attempt at what later became known as ping-pong diplomacy.

These formative experiences come together in my college major of political science. I was fascinated by history, law, comparative government and languages. Upon completing my BA at Cal State LA, I returned to Europe to study Russian and German at the interpreters' institutes of the University of Mainz and later the University of Heidelberg. To practice my Russian, I joined in the life of an Orthodox monastery on the outskirts of Munich, where my principal responsibility was keeping a field of organically grown cabbages free from caterpillars. In 1963, I met and married a beautiful French girl. Just before the birth of our first daughter, Alexandra, we moved to West Berlin, where I turned again to the study politics at Berlin's Free University.

We came back to the US and I began teaching English as a Second Language at Roosevelt High School in East Los Angeles. In 1969, I completed my MA in political science at Cal State LA and entered upon a doctoral program in international relations at USC. Six years later, I wrote my Ph. D. dissertation, while working with Bertram Wolfe, the American doyenne of Russian area studies, at Stanford's Hoover Institution.

My interest in comparative linguistics moved me to write a textbook series on English as a Second Language, which is now available on the Internet at for free. With my ESL system, aimed especially at adults, a person can go from zero to college in nine months. That's how I made my living from 1980 to 1986, as owner of the English Language Institute, in Palo Alto.

For the past 17 years, I have taught at San Jose State University in various departments, including political science, linguistics, and psychology. My continual association with young people has been an exhilarating experience. However, learning and teaching conditions have declined in recent years. To try to halt this erosion, I joined the California Faculty Association to lobby legislators in Sacramento for change.

In fall 1995, when Norm Mineta, who was representing Silicon Valley's 15th Congressional District, resigned, I took out papers to run for Congress, along with Tom Campbell and Jerry Estruth. At first, it looked as though we were going to have a Tom, Dick and Jerry race, but I was prevailed upon to withdraw so as not to split the Democratic vote and became co-chair of Jerry's campaign. Amazingly, Tom Campbell became congressman in a district with 60% Democratic voters. In the next regular election, I won the Democratic nomination in a seriously contested primary. But I was unable to overcome the incumbency factor and Tom won in November. The same scenario was repeated two years later, in 1998. These two campaigns taught me a lot about both the substance and organization of electoral politics. They were noteworthy in that I was one of the first candidates to make extensive use of the Internet.

I sought public service because of the issues. In both elections, I had the backing of unions and environmental groups; the Green Party of Santa Cruz endorsed me. And I drove up to the redwoods to add my voice for the preservation of Headwaters reserve. I ran on a platform of single-payer health care for all, stopping the privatization of Social Security and campaign finance reform. I was endorsed by NOW for my support of a woman's right to chose.

One of the best things to come out of the experience was being able to name my mother to the Electoral College, which she still considers one of the high points of her life, along with attending the presidential inauguration in Washington, DC.

I took out papers for the California gubernatorial race on July 29, when I concluded the state Democratic Party needed plan B. All the polls showed Gary Davis losing support and without a viable Democratic alternative on part two of the ballot the Republicans would win by default. A Republican governor would not get the time of day from the legislature and California would suffer three years of stagnation, which is something all concerned citizens must consider very seriously. Where will we be on October 8?

There are 135 candidates on the ballot, but only three of us have ever won an election- Senator McClintock, Lt. Governor Bustamante and I. Cruz Bustamante is a great Lt. Governor. Along with millions of other Californians, I voted for him. I don't want him to lose his job and the best way he can stay in office is if I win.

Much of the media have concluded that 135 are too many. I disagree. I think the large number of candidates shows the health of democracy in California, after all we have more than 35 million people living in the state. I am sorry to say only about 15 million are registered voters. Estimates are that because this recall has energized so many, half of them, or 7.5 million, will actually vote. Therefore, I can win with 3 million votes, which is quite doable.

A look at the candidates shows all the top Republicans to be mega-millionaires, which is a bit odd considering the average wage in California is about $33,000 a year. There is no reason for a working person to vote for a multimillionaire, unless he or she believes in wealth by association.

I am running for Governor because our state needs change. As a Democrat, I am very disturbed about what has happened to my party. It seems to have become a coalition of victims groups, instead of the party of working people. If elected, I will expect the immediate resignation of Art Torres.

Education is the most important issue facing our state. Every politician has promised reform but things just keep getting worse. If action is not taken immediately, 30,000 students will be denied admission to the state college system, this year. When considering the ripple effect of parents, siblings and relatives this means a minimum of 150,000 people will be adversely affected. I promise to ask the state legislature to provide the necessary funds to open classes for those who had expected to begin their university education this year. Education is the key to long-term personal happiness and economic security. I promise to reform our system of higher education so as to make certain our high school graduates have the opportunity to attend a first class university.

As a career educator, experienced in politics, I have a clear vision of a better future for our youth, in particular, and people of California, in general. I will push for a basic level of health care for all, similar to that enjoyed by people in Hawaii and Oregon. I will submit legislation to establish public financing, as already exists in Arizona and Maine, as an alternative in future statewide elections. I will seek to balance the budget by cutting waste and consolidating agencies, such as the State Teachers' Retirement System and the Public Employees' Retirement System. I will do everything possible to improve conditions for business, beginning with a reform of the state disability insurance program. My commitment to environmental protection is long term.

So, when asked why Dick Lane, you can now say that you know me well and I am the only candidate with the leadership ability and vision to improve life significantly for all Californians.

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Created from information supplied by the candidate: August 26, 2003 11:55
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