Daniel Leahy Oral History Interview


Daniel Leahy Oral History Interview
29 August 2017
30 August 2017
Daniel Leahy
Anthony Zaragoza
extracted text
Daniel Leahy
Interviewed by Tony Zaragoza
The Evergreen State College oral history project
August 29, 2017
Begin Part 1 of 2 of Daniel Leahy on 8-29-17
Zaragoza: Why don’t you just start by telling us your name?
Leahy: My name is Dan Leahy.
Zaragoza: Give us a sense of when you were born, where, where are you from?
Leahy: I was born and raised in Seattle, Washington. My dad ran a gas station in West Seattle, and we
lived there for the first few years; then we moved to Queen Anne Hill. I was raised in an Irish Catholic
family. Both sides were Irish Catholic. Went to Catholic schools. Ended up going to the Roman Catholic
seminary for four years at St. Edwards to be a priest. Did that for four years, and then I left and went to
Seattle University, and graduated in 1965 in economics and philosophy.
Zaragoza: Some events from your childhood, siblings, schools, turning points you’d like to talk about?
Leahy: I guess probably one turning point was the seminary. I was told the seminary was a place of
great academic excellence and blah blah, and that I should be a priest. I had priests in my family—my
cousins were priests, I had cousins that were nuns—so the idea of being a priest was something that, I
think, just flowed naturally as something I was going to do. But the seminary turned out to be an
extraordinarily cruel place, probably the cruelest institution I ever lived in. I think that really was a
major shift, when I left the seminary. Then, going to Seattle University, I became an organizer of events.
I don’t know where the organizing stuff came from, but I became a major organizer of student events on
campus, university events.
Zaragoza: What kind of events?
Leahy: Oh, Homecoming? I was the chair of the Homecoming Committee, which was a big deal. I was
the chair of something called University Day, which is a day in which everybody comes to campus to
learn about Seattle University. I chaired that. I also ran for student body president against a guy who
later became the great restaurateur of Seattle, Mick McHugh. Mick and I were contemporaries, and
opponents for student body leadership. I lost that election.
Zaragoza: Was it close?


Leahy: I have no idea. Mick was a great campaigner. He was one of the best hustlers Seattle’s ever
seen. Good guy.
I think probably the main event there that changed my life was I was an ROTC drill team guy. I
went every morning to practice at ROTC drill team at 7:00 in the morning. I was the guide-on of that
troop, and we marched all over Washington State, in formation. I started getting interested in the
Rangers, becoming a Ranger.
Zaragoza: What years are we talking about?
Leahy: We’re talking about 1961 to 1964, just before the buildup of Vietnam. Then, I think, the critical
point was one morning we were standing there in the gym, ready for inspection, and our sergeant had
put up a huge paper mâché person in front of us. As we stood there, he came charging through that
paper mâché person with his bayonet drawn, and he came up to each one of us and said, “The job of a
soldier is to kill, kill, kill.” Then he moved down to the next person. “The job of the soldier is to kill, kill,
kill.” And I walked out of the gym that day and said, “Whatever the fuck this is, I’m not doing it.” The
reason he was so hyped us was he had just gotten orders to go to Vietnam.
Anyhow, I got out of ROTC commitments. Then I heard about the Peace Corps. Of course, John
Kennedy, in our family, was close to God, and Jackie Kennedy was the Virgin Mary. When John Kennedy
said things like, “Ask not what the country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country,” and he
had started the Peace Corps thing in 1963, I asked my economics professor what country I should go to,
and she said, “Afghanistan.” She said, “You want to be one of many experts that know something about
India, or do you want to be the person that knows about Afghanistan?” I said, “I want to be the person
that knows about Afghanistan.” She said, “Then apply for Afghanistan.”
So, I applied for Afghanistan, and they said, “You could go to Turkey.” Of course, I had no idea
where Afghanistan or Turkey was. I looked up Turkey. It looked like it was close to the water, and I
figured, well, as long as I could get to the water, I’ll be fine. I took my first jet ride, from Seattle to
Portland, on a 727, which went up in the air, and then down, in about a half hour. [laughing] Got to
Portland, and I trained in Portland for a month, trained for two months in a village near Ankara and then
I went to live in a Turkish village for two years.
Zaragoza: Was this ’64-’65?
Leahy: I lived in a Turkish village from ’65 to ’67. I was two years in the Peace Corps in Turkey. That
was another just total mindbender, because I was an Irish Catholic boy, and I lived in a Turkish Muslim
village. I didn’t know what Muslims were, actually. I remember some guy—I don’t know if you want to
hear this shit—

Zaragoza: Yeah, definitely. Key stories from that Peace Corps time.
Leahy: The key story there was by the end of six months, living by yourself in a village, my Turkish was
pretty good. There were five mosques in my village. My village was pretty wealthy. And this one imam
asked me to explain the Trinity, in Turkish. I explained the Trinity in Turkish to him, and he looked at me
and he says, “That doesn’t seem to make any sense.” And I thought to myself, Jesus, you know, I think
you’re fucking right there. [laughing] That was the beginning of the end of my Catholicism. [laughing]
That, and sleeping with my first woman. That pretty much did it. That was the end of the church. Well,
not quite. I had to come back to the United States, and the church was supporting the Vietnam War,
and that pretty much did it.
The Peace Corps was an amazing thing for me, because it’s like when you travel overseas, you
learn not so much about the place you’re in, but about the place you came from, so I learned a lot about
the effect of the United States on the rest of the world, even in my little village.
The other thing about the Peace Corps was that it was a brand-new institution, and so all these
graduate programs were interested the Peace Corps volunteers—some odd breed of American—that
they could have in their programs. In my village, I actually got letters from graduate schools, asking me
to come to apply. I never imagined thinking of going to graduate school. But I got one from New York
University graduate school, public administration, international comparative public administration, with
a four-year straight doctoral NDEA Title IV fellowship, which was $300 a month, and all expenses, to go
to New York University.
Zaragoza: Before we move on to NYU, are there any other stories from that two years in Turkey that
you’d like to offer up? I only ask because I know that Turkey has been such a consistent part of your life,
at least the last several decades.
Leahy: Yeah. Well, I don’t know. There’s so much about Turkey that I learned. One was I was
extremely lucky to get to work with this person named Ibrahim Dokutkan, who was an agricultural
extension agent. Turkey was doing five-year plans, and the programs went all the way down to the local
village level. There had to be a certain number of projects you got done, and Ibrahim had all these
projects. I hustled $5000 dollars from CARE to support community development workshops for 50
village leaders and bought myself a motorcycle. I was the only motorized Peace Corps volunteer in
Turkey. I had my own motorcycle, a Czechoslovakian motorbike, Jawa 250.
Ibrahim basically used me as his field agent. I went and visited these 50 villages and said,
“Which project do you want to do?” Then Ibrahim would come out and do a project. One of the things
about Ibrahim was he was a dedicated developer, and loved the farmers. But he was also a man, in

some ways—I mean, he was—so he would go out and do a slideshow presentation on different
agricultural projects, and his presentations were always packed with villagers, and I never really knew
why. So, I decided to actually go to one of his projects. This probably isn’t a good story.
Zaragoza: Go ahead, keep going.
Leahy: Okay, so I went to one of his things. The villagers would be looking at how to produce chicken,
new chickens, turkeys, or cheese course, and this, that and the other thing. It was a slideshow, and
every once in a while, Ibrahim would put in a pornographic slide. [laughing] The villagers heard about
Ibrahim’s programs, and they would come, packed to the gills, waiting for that slide to pop in. He was
an extraordinary person, and changed the whole face of that valley.
Zaragoza: It seems like his technique was effective.
Leahy: His technique was effective, and we had chicken projects, turkey projects. That whole valley
now is an orchard valley. He got an irrigation dam built. That orchard valley produces fruits of all kinds
and fruit juices. It went value-added stuff, right up the line. Watching Ibrahim work was really
something, and I loved working with him. I went back to see him oftentimes, when he was alive. Even
when he was dead, I went to his graveyard.
Other things in Turkey? I don’t know, there’s just so much about Turkey. I traveled. I went to
the Kurdish area in 1965, and hung out with the Kurds in eastern Turkey. I really liked the Kurds a lot.
Their women weren’t covered. In eastern Turkey, the women wore sackcloth dresses—they were headto-toe covered—but not with the Kurds. I always liked the Kurds. I’ve been back to the Kurdish area a
lot over the years. I really enjoyed Van, Tatvan, Diyarbakir, and stuff. I don’t know what else about
Oh, I know. Yes. [chuckles] This actually shaped my life quite a bit. When I first got to my
province, which was Antalya, we were told to report to the governor. In my very modest Turkish, I
prepared my little presentation. I went into this huge office, and there was this man sitting down at the
huge desk, and I started speaking in my broken Turkish. He interrupted me by about my second or third
sentence, and he said to me, in perfect English, “How many states have you been in your own country?”
I said, “I’ve been to two, Washington and Oregon.” He said, “Isn’t that interesting. You come all this
way to help us out here in Turkey, and you don’t know your own country. Let me give you some advice.
After two years, why don’t you go back, and learn about your own country?”
I was, of course, totally embarrassed. But when I left Turkey, I promised myself that I would
travel to every state in the United States, which I did during the time I worked at Cornell. Every summer,
I got in my car, and I drove to every state in the continental US.

Zaragoza: Have you since completed that?
Leahy: Oh, yeah, I did it right away. I did it in the ‘70s. As soon as I had a job with a car. [laughing]
Zaragoza: You’ve been to Alaska and Hawaii now, too?
Leahy: I’ve been to Alaska. I have not been to Hawaii. But the continental, I did pretty good.
Zaragoza: You did.
Leahy: I definitely drove every state, once I got the money and the car, which was ’73.
Zaragoza: Let’s get into that period after, when you go to NYU, and Cornell. In New York state, what
were some of those stories that are important for . . .?
Leahy: Well, New York state, I came back from Turkey, and I got married to my college sweetheart
Marge Passanisi, in San Francisco. We both had scholarships to NYU, and we came and got a rentcontrolled, furnished apartment in Flatbush, and started going to school.
At the same time, I got an induction order to be inducted into the US Army in 1967. A lot of
people thought that the Peace Corps was an exemption to the draft, but it wasn’t. So, for the next two
years, I faced the prospect of whether or not to refuse induction into the US Army. That was one of the
The other context, of course, was the Vietnam War, which I, like most of my generation, had
read every book that was on the Vietnam War. Also, the black rebellion was going on. I just noticed
that there’s a movie about the Algiers Motel incident, and that was one of my first books. I read
Malcolm X, I read Claude Brown, Piri Thomas, all the books about—my newspaper was the Black
Panther Party paper. So, it was a combination of opposition to Vietnam, and to the growing—I was not
aware of the civil rights movement when I was in college. Not really. But I learned about it, and my
context was kind of the Black Panther Party, and antiwar movements, and building takeovers at
Columbia University. Mark Rudd was at NYU. He came down. I remember him talking at a rally.
NYU was occupations. We occupied buildings all the time at NYU. We occupied the Courant
Hall, which was a mathematics hall. We held it for four days. There was federal marshals outside. It
was a tumultuous time at NYU, from ’67 to ’70-’71. When we had taken Courant Hall, William Kunstler
came. This was during the Cambodia nationwide strike. There’s just nothing but stories about that
I was a full-time student in a program that was made up of part-time people. They were
primarily New York City administrators, and UN diplomats, and then me, with my fatigue jacket. The
dean, Dick Netzer, said he wanted to make a special door for me in the back of the college, so that I


could walk in that door rather than the front door of the graduate program. He was joking, but he
wasn’t really joking.
I was just wide open to learning about Vietnam, about Black Panther Party. My dissertation was
on the National Welfare Rights Organization, which, of course, nobody gave a damn about—black,
women—in the NYU program.
Zaragoza: And you have some early organizing during this time. Do you want to talk about some of
Leahy: I was living in Brooklyn, and I guess probably my first—I started this thing called the Community
Advocates something or another. I started realizing the resources that were contained on my block
alone could be advantageous to the community. I organized a thing called Reopen the Armory Program,
because there were a bunch of kids that used to play outside my door next to an armory that was
completely closed. The armory was a huge facility, and never used, so we started this program called
Reopen the Armory Program—RAP. That was pretty funny. We held events there.
We learned there about a Catholic technique. I remember that. That was the first time I
learned about that thing, because we had a program about the Reopen the Armory Program in the
armory. We invited everybody to come, and it was free. We put the two largest guys that we had at the
back of the room, and if somebody wanted to leave, they were supposed to make a donation. I
remember thinking it’s just like the Catholic Church. That’s one of the best fundraising techniques. You
invite people in for free, and then you charge them to get out. I think I really learned that in the Reopen
the Armory Program.
Then, I heard about some women that were being evicted from their homes because a hospital
wanted to expand. The Methodist Hospital, which was the first Methodist hospital in Brooklyn, was in
my neighborhood. So I went down and said, “Who’s being evicted?” It was a rent-controlled building
next to the hospital, and I asked for the eviction notice. It was a letter from the hospital, saying that
they were going to build a new medical facility, and “would you please leave?” I said, “This is not an
eviction notice, so I’ll settle this, no problem.”
I spent three years of my life fighting that. They eventually tore the buildings down. But that
led to my work for the Quaker Project on Community Conflict, because there was a plan to designate
certain medium-sized hospitals to be the hospital for the borough. All the 100-bed or smaller hospitals
were being closed, and a particular hospital was designated as the magnet hospital, and that hospital
was going to expand. That was happening in all five boroughs. We eventually found each other, and
that became the Citywide Save Our Homes Committee, and I worked with that. My project, the Tenants

of Methodist Hospital Association, was a part of that. That was a major organizing work. We pretty
much bankrupted Methodist Hospital, and certainly stopped it from expanding. It never expanded. It
torn down the unbelievably cheap rent-control buildings, but it never expanded. By the way, it wasn’t a
medical facility they wanted. They wanted a fucking parking lot for their doctors, who drove in from
Long Island.
I learned a lot about community organizing there. Built all kinds of coalitions. I also started
writing for the newspaper, the Park Slope News, which was a part of the Brooklyn News. That was one
of the ways I got extra money. I got paid $25 for an article. I basically wrote articles about all the
organizing campaigns, so it was our own little media thing. Then, of course, I’d print the article, and
reproduce it and pass it out.
I learned, I think, a lot of the community organizing techniques during those three or four years.
The Quakers were quite good at helping me learn about the question, is your work a movement-building
activity? Does your organizing work build the movement, or retard the movement? They were really
quite good with me. We did this poster once. I had this artist draw a poster of Methodist Hospital. On
one side of the poster was this kindly doctor, looking out in the community; and on the other side, it was
this pig, who was tearing down buildings, and making money for the medical industry. So, it was a twofaced doctor, and it was a great piece. I still have it.
The Quakers saw that, and they brought me in and said, “Dan, is this a movement-building
activity?” To make a long story short, we agreed that it wasn’t. The next poster we did was about
people in the community creating a preventive healthcare system that served the community, and also
preserved low-income housing. That became our poster, and that, to me, was a movement-building
activity. I sometimes disagreed with [the Quakers], like sometimes they’d offer workshops with the
Pentagon on how to have non-violence. I didn’t believe that shit, nor did I believe in getting arrested.
They loved getting arrested, but then they also had attorneys who would get them out of jail, whereas if
I got arrested, nobody was going to come for me, so I’ve never really believed in getting arrested. But I
learned a lot about community organizing during that years.
I also refused induction in September 1969 at Whitehall. That was postponed a lot by the great
work of Jane Alpert and the guy that died in Attica. What was his name? They blew up an induction
center, which slowed down the induction process. God, what was his name? Sam Melville.
So, I refused induction. Had to go up to see the FBI. They had an office at Hunter College, and I
walked in there. It turned out the FBI agent was from the University of Washington, and, of course, I


hated the University of Washington because I went to Seattle U, and the University of Washington was a
place, like my dad said, where you’d lose your faith. [laughing]
He wanted me to sign this form. He was really friendly, until he pushed this form over to me
and asked me to sign it, which was a waiver of rights form. I said, “You know, I’m sure you’re trying to
help me out here, but my attorney said I really shouldn’t sign anything, so I’m not going to sign this.”
After that, his feet came down off the desk with his fucking wingtips, and he said that I had to be
available to report to the FBI at any time, and all this other bullshit. There was a five-year statute of
limitations on that, so I decided to not get arrested or show myself to the cops for five years, because I
was afraid they’d pull up the fact that I had refused induction.
By 1969, really, it was no longer, I don’t think, a political event. I mean, when people refused in
’65-’66, that was a big deal. But they also got five years in federal prison. But by ’69, the Tet Offensive
had already happened. In the US, everybody knew it was an extraordinary waste of Vietnamese lives.
So, I was never prosecuted.
They tried to take my fellowship away, though, because when I was under an induction order,
they said that I was going to leave to go to Vietnam. My card, by the way, I had a red tag on it, and that
meant I was going to Vietnam, in my physical. When you go there in the morning for induction, they ask
you, “Who is going to refuse today?” It was bureaucratized. I raised my hand, and a bunch of other kids
raised their hands. I went and sat with them. Then we were separated from everybody else when we
refused, and we went in, one by one, into the officer’s office, and he’d ask you three times. “Daniel B.
Leahy, please step forward.” “Daniel B. Leahy, please step forward.” “Daniel B. Leahy, please step
forward.” I didn’t, and then he said, “Go see the FBI.”
I think New York was about organizing, and it was about a tremendous learning experience for
me. Also, I was doing my graduate work. Even though I never imagined that my graduate work was
basically in organizational theory and administrative systems, and I really learned about how
administrative systems and formal organizations work, I never really imagined that I would use that
against those same institutions and organizations. But I did. Because I can screw up organizations. I
really can. I can use their administrative process, to the extent possible, to slow them down, screw
them up, make the developer cost more money, all this other stuff. I learned administrative systems
and organizational stuff, and I think that became really helpful, both in labor organizing and community
organizing, which I basically ended up doing for the rest of my life.
Zaragoza: Then, from NYU, you go to Cornell. Key moments there?


Leahy: I worked for the Quakers for a couple years, organizing shit. And then, I got a job at Cornell
University. Cornell . . . [ sighs] . . . you know, in 1969, the black students took over Willard Straight Hall
with shotguns, and they demanded changes in Cornell University’s approach to black people,
communities, and people of color—although I don’t think there was that term then—but poor
communities, in general. Cornell University pretty much exploded with centers to absorb it. They
weren’t going to change their internal curriculum, but they were going to create centers. They created
an African American Center, research centers.
Then they created this thing called the Human Affairs Program, which was, there was a demand
that universities be “relevant,” in those days; if the African Studies Center was for African Americans,
the Human Affairs Program was for the white radicals. It was a really interesting program, because it
had sections, and sections were projects in various communities in Tompkins County, even beyond
Ithaca. You would get 10 students into each one of these sections—10 to 12 students from different
colleges at Cornell—and they would get credit for a year-long work in that section.
They experimented with sections throughout ’69 to ’73, and I was the first full-time director
hired, in the summer of 1973. I became the first full-time director with a salary of $14,000, which was
amazing amount of money for me, because I had been living on $300 a month from the Quakers.
Zaragoza: What kind of work did you do?
Leahy: I was the director. We had an assistant director, Virginia Jinx Dowd, and we had, I think, up to
10 at least, section leaders. We did everything. We were in the prisons. We were in Elmira prison. We
did cultural programs in the prisons.
I think we started the first—people say it’s true—women’s sexual harassment [program]. I think
our program coined the term sexual harassment. This woman I hired named Lin Farley, who was a
radical lesbian cab driver in New York City, I hired her. Even though she didn’t have a college degree, I
got her hired at Cornell. She started this women’s sexual Speak Out thing, in which only women could
come; which was a big deal because I defended her against the university that said it had to be open to
men and anybody else who wanted to come. I said, “No, it’s just for women.”
We had a Women and Work project; we had a Prison project; we had a Redevelopment project
in Elmira, New York; we did a project on Utilities and Energy, in which we researched all the private
utility companies, and started public power campaigns—municipal takeover campaigns—throughout
New York State. What else? We had a criminal justice—well, that was part of Prisons. Women and
Work. Banking and Finance. Energy and Utilities. Stuff like that.
Zaragoza: Any stories that highlight this period?

Leahy: There’s no reason to go into the main story, but the main story was a shift from servicing to
institutional attack. When I got there, the program was primarily about services. Like we had a Blue Bus
project that went with libraries throughout Appalachia. We had a downtown storefront that was a
service thing for welfare people. We basically shifted from service projects to focusing on institutions,
and attacking the institutions with either labor or community. That’s why it was on finance, utilities,
stuff like that. It was a big internal shift and a terrible internal fight that I led. I fired four people one
day, at the end of it, on the same day.
Zaragoza: You radicalized the program.
Leahy: I think I did, I’m not sure. But I definitely, I think, radicalized the program. I don’t know if that’s
the helpful term, but big fight. I learned a lot about that. I learned about firing people. I learned about
the necessity of supervising radicals. I hired radicals from all over the country, but I also learned that
once you get people hired, you have to supervise them. You can’t let them go on their own because
they don’t necessarily know what you’ve been thinking, or what the possibilities are.
But we did a lot of work. I would say the main successes were certainly the Women and Work,
with Lin Farley and Karen Sauvigné. They ended up starting a thing we started before they went called
the Working Women’s Institute. It started in Ithaca, and it became an organization in New York City
But I’d say the biggest thing was the public power fights. We started a Labor Action Coalition of
New York, made up of local labor unions. We started the People’s Power Coalition of New York.
Eventually, all of those organizations started focusing on the necessity of taking over private utility
companies and creating local, publicly owned systems at the municipal level. We were heavy into
organizing that.
One day, my administrative board, which was made up of all the deans of Cornell University’s
colleges, called an emergency meeting. The corporation counsel for Cornell University, who was a
conservative man—Neal Stamp—comes into the meeting and says, “Dan, I don’t know what this utilities
project is you have, but I want you to sterilize it.”
And then, the liberal, Alfred Kahn—Alfred Kahn was the guy who did the Utilities Act of 1934—
and he was a thespian, and he was the dean of Arts and Sciences College, and a liberal, nice man—he
said, “Dan, I wrote to Niagara Mohawk”—Niagara Mohawk was one of the seven major private utility
companies in New York State, and the one that was based in Syracuse—“and I said, ‘What has Niagara
Mohawk done for Cornell University?’ lately?” And he said, “Dan, they wrote back. They’ve done quite
a bit, and you’re going to have to get rid of this utilities project.” That was the liberal.

Of course, I went back to my staff, all these radicals, and we said, “Cornell wants us to terminate
our utilities project.” Of course, they all said, “Well, fuck Cornell.” So I wrote back and said, “We’re not
going to eliminate our utilities project.” About a month later, Cornell University sent out a press release
saying the Human Affairs Program was terminated as of June 1976.
So, we basically had a year, from January to June ’76, to spin off all of our programs, which we
did successfully with several of them—the women’s one, the criminal justice one, the labor one. The
People’s Power Coalition got spun off. It was already in the process of spinning off. But we spun off
most of them.
Then I got into my little car, with my typewriter and a credit card—since I didn’t have any
money—and drove across the United States [laughing] to Waterville, Washington, and got a job working
with my cousin in the County Fair, cleaning restrooms. [laughing]
Zaragoza: Let’s start the return to Washington. What’s the kind of work you do? What are the
highlights of this period?
Leahy: I think one of the highlights of that period was working at the County Fair for several summers. I
first started out working for the carnies in the dime pitch, and that didn’t make any money after eight or
nine hours of standing there hustling kids to throw the dimes at things they couldn’t hit. So I asked my
cousin for a job, and he said that I could clean the restrooms, so I ran a crew of kids cleaning the
restrooms, and I did that for a couple of summers, and made money.
One of the nice things that happened there was—this was after I was no longer doing it—I was
called up to the main stage of the North Central Washington Fairgrounds, and I was presented with an
award for having cleaned toilets. It was a lacquered toilet seat they gave me. I still have it.
And then, I was living in Wenatchee with my aunt, and I heard that the Chelan County Public
Utility District was having troubles with their public. I suppose I can tell this story. I got an interview
with the manager of the Chelan County PUD. The Chelan County PUD is the public organization in
Wenatchee, Washington for the county. They’re very rich. They own three dams. They pay extremely
well. It was a big organization. It had a unionized workforce, IBEW. It was quite the place. To get a job
with the PUD was a big deal.
I was proposing this project analyze the relationship of Chelan PUD to the public. I had been
taking these public policy classes at NYU, so I figured, well, I guess I’m a public policy consultant. I made
up this firm called Burke Leahy Associates—my middle name is Burke, but there’s Burkes all over the
place in Chelan and Douglas County, my mom’s family. I got an appointment with the manager, and
then I called up all my relatives and said, “Who knows this guy?”

My uncle, Joe, who was an insurance man in Spokane, said, “I know that guy.” He told me this
story. “At some point during the conversation with this man, mentioned that you know Joe Burke.”
What Joe had done was this guy’s brother had died without having signed his insurance papers, but
Uncle Joe took care of it anyhow. So, during the interview [laughing], I mentioned that I was the
nephew of Joe Burke, and I could see him click.
Anyhow, I got this job, $100 a day and all expenses, to analyze this thing. I, of course, worked
every day, because I was broke. I was making three grand or more every month. Cash money. I did a
six-month study, and in the course of doing that study, I discovered how the Bonneville Power
Administration, in alignment with the PUDs, were building five nuclear power plants, and why the rates,
for the first time in the history of Washington State, were going up rather than down.
I presented the report. This guy, who was kind of my manager or supervisor, said, “This is better
than a Ph.D.” And it probably was, actually. I did surveys of communities; I did a statistical survey of the
employees; I read every minute from the founding of Chelan PUD in 1937 the first vote; I read every
commission minute from then to the time that I did the study. Original documents. I went back and I
read all the original documents about why that thing was formed. Then, I made suggestions about how
to relate better to the community.
The commissioners asked that every copy of my report be brought in, and they destroyed most
of them, except for the people that printed the thing, which were the workers. They really liked me, so
they saved a bunch of copies for me. [laughing] But the commissioners wanted every one in, and they
got rid of them all. I wanted to send them back out to all the people that I had surveyed, but they
refused to do it. I basically was out of work, and I was never going to be hired as a consultant again in
the Chelan area. I was “irresponsible.”
I went looking for work, and I heard about this thing called the Nuclear Information Resource
Service—NIRS—which is still, as far as I know, a big one. It was going to be a foundation or richperson’s-funded organization to monitor nuclear power plant building in the US. I knew a lot about
Washington Public Power Supply System, and the effort to build five nuclear power plants. Actually,
they wanted to build 20 1000-megawatt nuclear power plants.
So, I went back to look at a job in New York, and then I heard about NIRS, and I flew down to
Washington, D.C. I was interviewed by this guy named Stanley Weiss. Stanley Weiss was a
multimillionaire guy, with homes all around the world. Young guy. After I interviewed, he said, “I don’t
trust anybody who doesn’t drink. Do you drink?” I said, “I certainly drink.” “You want to go drinking?”


We went drinking, and then, sometime in the late evening or early afternoon or something, he said, “I’m
going to go to Mark Raskin’s for a dinner. You want to come with me?”
Bethany Weidner: I’m just appearing as part of the story.
Leahy: To make a long story short . . . I’m not going to tell you that story . . . but I met Bethany there. A
couple days later, I flew back to Wenatchee. Then I got a check from Stanley Weiss for, I don’t know,
several thousand dollars, saying, “Come back to Washington, D.C. and get to know Bethany.” So I did.
I set up an office there, because Dennis Kucinich, in February 19-something, must have been . . .
where are we anyhow?
Zaragoza: He becomes the boy mayor of Cleveland in ’76.
Leahy: Okay, he was the mayor, but in February, he successfully defended the municipal electric system
against the bankers. That was a big deal. Me and Bethany were living with Gar Alperovitz and his wife
in D.C., and I came down, and I said, “We should take Dennis Kucinich’s victory and spread it across the
United States.” Gar said, “Let me make a phone call.”
He made a phone call to a guy named David Hunter, who was the main money mover in the
United States probably after the war to when he died. He ran a thing called the Stern Fund, which was
an indicator fund. In other words, if David Hunter gave you money, everybody else was going to give
you money. He called up Hunter—I didn’t know Hunter at the time—and Hunter gave me $5,000.
I set up an office in the same building that the Nuclear Information Resource Services was,
because it was run by this young woman named Betsy Taylor, who had gotten the job. I had an office
there in this brownstone in Washington, D.C., and one day, Stanley Weiss walked into my office and
said, “I’m thinking about setting up a new political party. You want to do that?” I said, “Fuck, I’ve been
waiting my entire fucking life to set up a new political party. Yeah.” He said, “I’ll raise a bunch of
money, and you set up a bank account.” I said, “Okay.” I set up a bank account in Washington, D.C., and
we started to organize the Citizens Party. Do you want to talk about that?
Zaragoza: Yeah, highlights.
Leahy: Okay, highlights. We set up a Citizens Committee first. Got a guy named Jim McClellan, and a
whole bunch of other people—Denny May—and set up an office, bank accounts, and started having
meetings around the country. Then we turned into a Citizens Party convention, which was in April 1979.
We had over 300 delegates from 30 states, the majority women. We had a disproportionate number of
African Americans, Native Americans. It was one of the best events I’ve ever been to in my life, and I
organized it. We had a big staff by then. I had a huge staff in Washington, D.C. I don’t know a long
story short.

Zaragoza: It would be good to hear one victory, one good moment. Then it would be good to hear
about the obstacles, or what ended up preventing it from reaching its potential.
Leahy: I would say that the dynamic is the same that you see today, so I’ll tell you about that. The
dynamic is, what part of your party organization wants to build the party? What part of your party
organization wants to run campaigns for elective office? The dynamic there was, all those people that
wanted to run Barry Commoner to be president of the United States, along with LaDonna Harris and all
those people that wanted to build party organizations, and have down-ticket people running for office in
states that had ballot status. Overcoming the ballot question in the United States is an enormous,
logistical difficulty, because it’s by each state, and each state has different rules and regulations. Getting
on the ballot with a new party is an enormous organizational task, so what happens is you default to
running as an independent. That’s what Nader ran as, an independent.
That was the tension throughout the party at all times, up even to the convention. Nonetheless,
that convention in Cleveland was an extraordinary event. I think that was the last time that a new
political party was available to the American people since that time. That was ’79-’80. I really do
believe that. I don’t think there has been anything equivalent since.
Zaragoza: Labor Party? Green Party?
Leahy: No, no. None of them came close to the organizational depth, range, coalitions. The Labor Party
was not that. I was at the Labor Party with Mazzochi. It was not that. The Green Party is a façade. But I
think that was the last one. It was an extraordinary example of coming together. Also, one of the things
that was very interesting about the Citizens Party is that a lot of the sectarian political groups were, I
think, so impressed by the possibilities of it that they stayed out of it. They came to the convention;
they were there, but they weren’t delegates. They were on the side. They were literature and stuff.
I appreciated that. Carl Davidson, for instance, was there, the old SDS leader. Others like that.
But they were on the side. I really thought that was an extraordinary—and I didn’t organize it that way.
I think that’s one of the things that it reflected. There was really extraordinary potential there. You had
Frank Black Elk. Black Elk gave an oration there. It was extraordinary.
Zaragoza: Are there any recordings of that still around?
Leahy: It’s all recorded, I think, as far as I know.
Zaragoza: I mean, there’s a dissertation in this for somebody, or a book?
Leahy: Yeah, there’s a book. Dan Lieberman wrote a book about it. I have all the files, by the way. I
have all the files of the Citizens Party—all the resolutions that were presented, all the organizational
shit—everything—downstairs, if somebody wants to write a dissertation.

I think that was an organizational achievement that was extraordinary. We had a lot of great
issue organizers around the country who believed that at some point, you’ve got to take government.
At some point, you either neutralize it or take it. And a lot of those people were anti-nuclear organizers,
renewal energy organizers, labor people, and I think that convention in Cleveland was one of the best
things produced.
The difficulty that crashed it was a charge of racism. Black leadership decided that Barry
Commoner was a racist. So, even though we had this extraordinary election of two women to be cochairs of the Citizens Party, one of whom was a black woman law professor, who later committed
suicide—beautiful woman, smart—she and another woman became the two co-chairs.
Then, right after we had this extraordinary election, on the floor and everything, the next day,
that young woman came to the podium and said she could not serve. Which I can’t tell you what a
fucking downer that was to everybody there. Of course, nobody would take the chair afterwards, and
so I chaired a two- or three-hour discussion afterwards, when she resigned. I don’t know what that
dynamic was. I don’t know where it particularly came from. There’s various people who believe that
that issue was used to stop the formation of a party. Don’t know.
The other thing I learned from organizing the Citizens Party was that the institutional function of
the Democratic Party is to prevent any new political party from taking place. That’s its institutional
function, and it’s done very well.
There’s another lesson, I think, that has to do with the relationship of funders to movements.
That’s another dynamic in the United States—especially in the United States—that prohibits, that
prevents, political parties from forming. Because in the United States, the rubric is still the same. Fifty
percent of the eligible people register. Fifty percent of those who register vote. So we have minority
elections all the time. My argument was the reason people don’t vote is there’s no political party for
them to vote for.
Here’s a story that illustrates that. A guy named John Anderson ran as an independent in that
election. He got eight percent of the vote. He did it with quote-unquote direct mail campaign, which
was a big deal at that time. New innovation. His fundraiser, the guy that designed his campaign, came
to me afterwards and said, “In looking at the returns, I noticed that a lot people said, ‘Why doesn’t he
form a new political party?’ So, I think it’s a moneymaking proposition. I don’t know what your political
party stands for, and I don’t care. But you give me 25 percent of the returns, and I will raise money for
your political party.” I took that to my board, and I said, “See? This is what I’ve been arguing all this
fucking time, and this person it backing me up. Let’s give him a contract and raise the money.”

What happened? Did they want that to take place? No. Do you know why? Because that
money would have flowed into the party structure. Up until that time, I was dependent on people who
would give me $20,000 checks, or $10,000 checks. An example of that is, prior to going to Cleveland for
the convention, I needed money to bring my staff and everything else to set things up. So the funders
came to me and said, “Dan, we understand you’re not all that pleased about Barry Commoner being the
nominee.” I said, “We have a nomination process. If there’s someone else that has gone through that
process, there’s going to be an election, whether or not if it’s Barry Commoner or this other person.”
They said, “We want you to guarantee that it’s Barry Commoner.” I said, “I’m pretty sure Barry
Commoner won’t have any problem beating this guy—he’s a nobody—but I’m not going to guarantee
Was there any money for me to take my staff to Cleveland? No. So, I did it on credit cards, and
then I set up a separate bank account in Cleveland where all the money from the registration fees came
into, which I controlled, and I paid off the staff that way. The point I was trying to make is that there is
all this money dynamic around movement organizations. It does make a difference where your money
comes from. You can’t say that it doesn’t.
So, I guess, those three things—one, the organizational accomplishment of the Citizens Party
was extraordinary; two, the question of whether or not race can be used to stop left movements from
advancing; three, the relationship between funders and movements—are three big lessons. And the
fact that the Democratic Party—I guess that’s the fourth lesson—is, in fact, institutionally—the way that
they function is this: a lot of Democrats, who were ready to move on, they said, came into the Citizens
Party formation. They would make arguments about your platform, or this, that or the other thing, and
they’d tone it down, or say, “You can’t really be that radical,” blah blah. After they toned all that shit
down, then they said, “Oh, we decided to stay with the Democratic Party, the good old Democratic
Party.” So, that’s what happens. And then, of course, they do their best to torpedo you. I think those
are some of the lessons of the Citizens Party.
Anyway, to make a long story short, I stayed on the executive committee, but eventually, I quit
trying to influence it, and started focusing on building a political party in Washington State.
Zaragoza: When a lot of folks think of you, they think of the Evergreen Labor Center, and we haven’t
talked any about labor. When does your involvement in organized labor begin?
Leahy: It began in June of 19 . . . 76, when a UE organizer named Ed Bloch wrote me a note and said
that he understands there’s this Peoples Power Coalition fighting nuclear power plants, and fighting for
rural energy, and he wanted a labor clambake of the same, and he wanted it separate.

I met with him, and he gave me books about the UE. I started reading about the UE, and a New
York kid gave me a book about the Seattle General Strike, which I had never heard of, even though I’d
been born and raised in Seattle. I started reading labor stuff, and learning about craft union versus
industrial unions and blah blah. By November, we organized this thing on labor, energy and power. Out
of that came the Labor Action Coalition of New York. I became the organizational director of it. It was
made up of primarily UAW, Machinists locals, furriers in New York, with Henry Foner, one of the Foner
brothers. I think it was primarily UAW and Machinists across New York State, from Buffalo across to
Albany. Our program was public power, full employment, and safe energy. Those three things.
It was during the time in which the utility companies were chasing manufacturing out of New
York State, and was going to the South. Supposedly it was going because of increased electric rates,
based on the increased reliance on nuclear power. People were looking for ways to keep the rates
down, and a UAW worker, who, as he said, swept floors in an auto plant in Massena, New York, led a
campaign to create a municipal electric system, and get power directly from PASNY. PASNY was the
Power Authority of the State of New York, which was created by Roosevelt. If you got power from
PASNY, you got it at cost, so you could reduce rates by 30 percent, which he did. His name was Max
Ryan, and we took Max Ryan’s example and decided to hold a municipal power campaign by labor.
So, that’s how I got into labor, and learned about labor. I had an excellent educator, this UE guy,
Ed Bloch. It wasn’t a big union. It used to be. It was the union that organized the electrical industry in
Schenectady, New York—Westinghouse and stuff—but it got red-baited out of existence, almost, after
World War II. But Ed Block, as a result of his position, knew how to work with other unions. He taught
me about how to work with other unions. We had 40 locals in this thing, and it existed way beyond the
time I left New York, run by a woman named Jinx Dowd, who was my assistant director at the Human
Affairs Program.
I learned a lot about labor then, and about this structure—craft unions versus industrial unions,
and what they could and could not do, and their histories and all that stuff. So, when I came to
Evergreen, [I] learned that Joe Olander had been at Florida International University or something in
Florida, [and] there was a Labor Center there. So, when we started organizing the Labor Center with
Olander, I, of course, said, “Hey, you had one of these things, so you know what they are.” And Patrick
Hill loved the idea of labor. Anyhow, that’s how I learned about labor.
Zaragoza: Between New York and the Labor Center, in the narrative, we were just getting you back to
Washington after the Citizens Party, back to building a political party here in the State of Washington.


Did you carry forth your labor background? Maybe you could talk about that homecoming in the early
Leahy: Yeah. And the other thing that from New York, the thing that I did in the Citizens Party, I
brought labor into the Citizens Party. That’s one of the things I brought in because of my experience in
New York. These guys, they needed to have labor. William Winpisinger was not going to vote for
Carter. I was in touch with William Winpisinger. They had a million-member Machinists Union. I met
with him and his assistants. They almost came completely into the Citizens Party.
I came back to Washington State, and the first thing I did was I went down to the Central Labor
Council in Wenatchee, Washington, and I thanked them for my education. Because the reason I was
able to go to Seattle University was that during the summers, I worked as a union laborer in Wenatchee,
Washington, for my uncle’s construction firm. Instead of making 75 cents an hour in Seattle, I made
$3.10 base, and sometimes almost $4.00 if I was blowing rock or laying pipe. So, I went to them and
said, “Thank you for my education.”
In my work in the Chelan PUD, when I got that job, I don’t know that other consultants would
have surveyed the workers, but I did. I surveyed all the workers. I didn’t just talk to the people out in
the community, I internally surveyed the workers. So, I think that was another expression of it.
When I started organizing the political party, I called it Progress Under Democracy. That was my
idea of organizing the political party, and it was listed as a minor political party in the state. What we
were going to do was we were going to, first, take over nonpartisan, non-party offices.
Because one of the things that happened to me in Washington, D.C. was I’d get into cabs and
say, “We’re organizing a new political party.” “Really? What’s it done so far?” “Well, [laughing] nothing
yet. We’re just kind of on our way here.” “Well, let me know when you’ve done something.”
So, I came to Washington State, and I thought, okay, so what we’ll do is we’ll take over PUDs
first, and show we can stop nuclear power plants and shift to renewable energy. Then we’ll take over
ports. PUDs are even-year elections, and ports are odd years. So we’d go from PUDs first, ports odd
year, and then we’d build up a record of what we’ve done, and we’d build up elective political
leadership. Then, we’d shift to a partisan party, and take on the Democrats and Republicans. That was
the idea.
There were 21 electric PUDs in Washington State, and I had a file on every one of them.
Because one of the things I learned was that sometimes people don’t run for office because they’re
afraid of being a fool. People that do run for office also don’t know how to run. They think it’s an issue
campaign. So, I had a file on all these things, and then I started looking for allies. Of course, one of the

allies was labor. Labor is exactly the same. The craft unions were out at Satsop and down in Hanford,
making money hand over fist, building projects that they had no respect for. Then, you had Machinist
Unions and other industrial unions, who were paying the price of higher rates.
I made an alliance with the Machinists Union, for instance, to help fund a campaign to take over
the PUDs, and stop nukes. It wasn’t the only one, but my labor politics was definitely involved in the
construction of Progress Under Democracy, and we ran a young machinist for office in Snohomish,
which was Matt Dillon—he won—and a pulp and paper worker out of Longview, Steve Farrell, who won.
We also ran other people. But part of Progress Under Democracy was that labor part, too. We were
very successful in 1982. We ran in ’80 and were not very successful, because a lot of people were
running like they were bringing around treatises about nuclear energy, and fusion, and fission. You
know, you need to learn how to fucking shake hands, and to have pictures of your family with you and
all that other shit.
By ’82, we had pretty sophisticated recruiting mechanisms, and also educational programs,
which we did in Wenatchee. We won 14 races in ’82. There were 26 commissioners up for election, and
I think only six left after 1982. We recalled two at once in Mason County. That was the first time, I
think, anybody ever recalled two people at once. That was led by Laurie Porter in Mason County.
It was an incredible victory, but here’s the thing that I’m thinking about right now. We elected
all these people, and then we were never able to reach them again. What happens to elected officials,
especially ones that are going to change policy, is that all the institutional forces surround them—their
managers, their attorneys, their consultants, their trade associations. They surround them, and make
sure that they won’t implement new policies. That’s the case now when we’re faced with Port races
here, right now. We have the possibility of majorities in Vancouver and Olympia, but I tell you, if they
get elected, they’re going to be surrounded by these institutions. And unless you move to the question
of governance, and how you’re going to get new managers, new attorneys, and get rid of the trade
associations and the rest, you will not be able to implement a fucking thing.
Zaragoza: Is it the local version of the Deep State? [laughing]
Leahy: No, it’s not the Deep State, because the Deep State is supposedly not seen. This is seen. You
can see these things. You know what a manager, attorney, trade association—the trade association for
ports, for instance, promotes fossil fuels. It’s obvious. They join lawsuits to stop citizens from stopping
these things. You know.
Anyhow, Progress Under Democracy won these great things, but we were characterized
increasingly as only interested in stopping nukes. And that’s what happened. We stopped nukes. We

stopped four and five nuclear power plants, but we couldn’t maintain the movement toward a new
political party.
At that particular moment in time, I came to Evergreen. I probably, along with Jim Lazar, was
probably the person most knowledgeable about the entire hydroelectric energy system of the Pacific
Northwest, as well as being intimately knowledgeable about the Washington Public Power Supply
System, the municipal bond market, PUDs in the state. The whole history of public power. I was full of
all that shit. When I came to Evergreen, I brought that all with me.
Zaragoza: What brought you to Evergreen?
Leahy: I got famous for a moment, which was definitely a mistake, as a part of the Washington Public
Power Supply System campaigns. I went on Town Hall at KOMO—Channel 4—with people that
supported the nuke plants. I got instantly famous, even to the extent that people would recognize me
on the streets of Seattle, and that was definitely a mistake.
What happened was that I could not get a job anywhere working as a consultant, because I was
simply too famous. Every time I’d try and get a job somewhere, there would be all this press about “This
was the person that created the $2.5 billion bond default, which was the largest municipal bond default
in US history.” Of course, I was proud of that, but that was when WPPSS plants four and five defaulted.
It was a $2.5 billion outstanding debt, and it became the largest municipal bond default in US history. As
far as I was concerned, I was part of creating that. That was just fine with me. But every local
government is dependent upon the bond market, so I wasn’t going to get a consulting job with any local
government anymore. Period. Even people that liked me weren’t going to touch me.
We left and went to Portugal, because we had to get out of the country, with a five-month-old
baby and a three-year-old boy. We went to live in Peniche, on the coast of Portugal. It was also the 10year anniversary of the Portuguese revolution, and to me, that was cute, so we went there.
The Sunday that I left for Portugal, I got the Seattle P-I, and in the paper was an ad for teaching
in the Masters of Public Administration program at Evergreen. And I cut it out. And when I got to
Portugal, I wrote a letter on Bethany’s Smith Corona portable typewriter, and asked for the job. That
was in April.
By June, I was in touch Ken Dolbeare, who was the director of the program, and they were trying
to fly me over for an interview, but they couldn’t make arrangements. So they told me to go on a
particular day to call Barbara Smith, who was the Academic Dean. So, I called Barbara Smith. I had to go
to a different village, because we didn’t have a phone in my village. Barbara said, “I’ve never hired a
person sight unseen before in my life, so don’t screw up.” [laughter]

I remember, I went to Coimbra later on, and there was a picture of an old-fashioned altar boy,
with a total white thing on it. I sent that to Barbara Smith [laughing] and I said, “I’ll be a good boy.”
Anyhow, unbelievable, I got a one-year contract teaching the MPA program. We came back
home in August, and I started teaching in the fall. Ken Dolbeare had already set up what I was supposed
to do in the MPA program, and my first class—do you want to talk about this stuff?
Zaragoza: Yeah, early experiences, first impressions.
Leahy: Yeah, I’ll tell you a story. Ken Dolbeare had this idea of recruiting people from Tacoma into the
MPA program, so he wanted someone to go to Tacoma to teach class, and get them to come to the MPA
program later on. So, I taught a class called Democratic Management at the Community Level, a fourcredit class, on Saturdays at the Tacoma campus, which at that point was below Pacific Avenue in a
second-floor building. I don’t know where it was.
I remember walking in there, and I was told I was supposed to report to someone named
Maxine Mimms. So, I walk into this classroom, and it’s full of these old grade-school chairs, with the arm
that you wrote on. I said, “I’m supposed to report to Maxine Mimms.” There was this woman sitting in
this chair, this grade-school chair, and she turns around and she looks up at me and says, “I like black
men, black women, white women and white men, in that order.” I said, “Yes, ma’am. Where’s my
classroom?” That was Maxine Mimms. [laughing] I loved that woman.
I started bringing in speakers. That was one of the things I did. I just looked at my notes. I
brought in 66 speakers in, from 1984 to 1987, half men, half women, into Evergreen during my classes.
One of the people I brought in was a commissioner for the Port of Tacoma. He was in a wheelchair. In
order to bring him up, they had to lift him up in the wheelchair, and bring him up, because there was no
nothing on the second floor, which is where the campus was. And I remember Maxine Mimms saying,
“We’re going get a new building.” [laughter]
That was really great, because I was teaching Vietnam vets—non-coms—who had retired. A lot
of them were non-coms, and they were retired Vietnam vets out of Tacoma, out of Fort Lewis. They
were going to my class.
Zaragoza: Did you ever talk to them about your induction refusal?
Leahy: I don’t think so. I remember some of the conversations were pretty fucking deep with those
guys. I was learning a lot.
What else I did, I taught a four-credit Public Policy class for full-time students. I did that twice, in
the fall and winter. I also sat in on the Political Economic Context. I wasn’t teaching, but they asked me


to sit in on the eight-credit class, because the MPA program was composed of six eight-credit sessions at
that time.
There were two things about my Public Policy class, my four-credit one for full-time students.
My first class was 10 weeks, and I had 13 books. At the end of my introduction of the class, I had two
questions. One guy said, “Are you kidding?” I said, “No, I’m not kidding. You’re full-time students, so
read these books.” The other person—his name was Ashu Rashuandari; he was a Pakistani kid or
something, I think—he said, “Listen, who is the public in public policy?” [laughing] I said, “Jesus, we’re
just starting this class, kid. Give me a break. It’s my first class. What do I know?”
What that did for me, that question, pretty much determined how I did my coursework over the
next two or three years. I started this bulletin board outside my office that said, “Who is the public in
public policy?” I did a class once called When the People Make Policy, in which I had what happens if
industrial labor makes policy? What happens if farmers make policy? What happens if women make
policy? I had books listed for each one of those, and people got to select a book and read it, and tell me
what they thought.
Then, I started researching the Washington Roundtable, because I thought it looked like it’s the
Zaragoza: Business Roundtable?
Leahy: Yeah, it’s called the Washington Roundtable. It was modeled after Business Roundtable. It was
set up in ’84 by George Weyerhaeuser. I started tracking it, and it became a part of my classes. I used
to make a list of everybody that was in the Washington Roundtable, and I’d present that list. It was
really interesting. I’d present that list every year to my Public Policy class and said, “Who are these
Some people would start listing them, saying who they were. A couple people would continue,
and they’d go farther in depth about who they were. In other words, everybody knew George
Weyerhaeuser, you know, the Weyerhaeuser Timber Company. But then, there was a couple of people
that would know more of these people, who they were. And you know who they were? They were
always the people that were in government. They were the ones that were in government. They knew
who these people were, because they’re the policymakers. It was always interesting. It was always the
I did a lot of research, and began to take—one of the things I noticed was a guy named Dye and
Domhoff. Nye said that they were elites that ran things, but basically, the elites are the way world
works, so here they are. Then Domhoff was critical of the way elites ran a democratic society. But they

both used the same chart to show how policy was made. So I, over the course of a couple years,
translated that chart into Washington State, and showed how it functioned in Washington State, from
the money, to how the policy is shaped, and then how it’s transmitted through various organizations to
the Legislature. So the Legislature became the proximate policymaker, but not the initiator of policy.
That’s pretty much what I did in Public Policy classes for three years.
Initially, I basically knew everything about Washington Public Power Supply Systems. That
meant I knew everything about energy, public policy, the populist history of Washington State. I knew
all that stuff, and I put a lot of that stuff into the classes.
Zaragoza: This is the ‘80s, so this is a time in which we see emerging, and beginning to take over, what
we now called neoliberalism. Given your study of the charts, and the way that that worked in
Washington State, maybe talk just a little bit about that early neoliberal history, as you saw it, as
someone who was studying policy initiation, implementation and the impacts.
Leahy: First thing was there’s no new money. Whatever you do, you have to do with existing money,
which meant no new taxes, no new structures. Whatever you have to do, you have to do with existing
money. That was one thing.
Then, there was a direct assault on public education by Weyerhaeuser and the Washington
Roundtable. What they chose was public education, because public education was a major cost of state
government. They determined to first change the curriculum. A, make sure that there was no new
money, and then, B, change the curriculum within that squeezed budget. They did those two things
successfully in Washington State. And, three, they eventually integrated Bill Gates into their group—he
wasn’t in it to begin with. It was still primarily utilities, manufacturing sector, and finance. But finance
got eliminated pretty quickly, because a lot of the banks got taken over. Rainier Bank, Seafirst Bank,
they all went out of business, and got taken over by larger entities, so the banking sector evaporated.
Then, the manufacturing sector slowly evaporated, and on came the information technology, Bill Gates
and boys.
So, they eventually integrated him into it, and he pretty much was the way in which they shifted
education from thinking to information gathering. They had a video that they used to promote their
education reform package, which was—I counted it. What’s the number of times a student faced a
computer, and the number of times a student faced a teacher in that video? It was 20 to one.
So, the assault on public education by the Roundtable, beginning in 1984-85, was certainly a
part of it. The no new money was certainly a part of it. Then, of course, the assault on labor, which was
ongoing, in terms of the construction trades. Construction in the United States used to be union, and

their first attack on the national level, and then here locally, was on the construction trades, on the
crafts. After the crafts, they went after the industrial unions—the IWA, the Machinists. That was taking
place during the time that I had come back here.
So, those three. No new money, no new taxes—whatever you’ve got to do, do it with existing
money; the assault on public education by the Roundtable, and then the assault on labor by national
forces and the Roundtable. I think those three things were indicative of the move, in terms of
Zaragoza: Were you studying these in your classes? How were you approaching this as you designed
programs, and the education that you offered at Evergreen?
Leahy: I did a chart. I used to do “How is public policy made?” I used the Washington Roundtable and
public education policy as the example of how policy is made. They were putting out reports on the
education system in Washington State, of the new curriculum, all this stuff.
I brought into the president of the Washington Roundtable to talk to my class. He later went on
the board of Evergreen. His name was Dick Page. I brought him in and said, “How come you’re
interested in education?” “Oh, it was a good field. Everybody loved education, of course, on the
Roundtable, so we thought it was a good feeling thing.”
I don’t want to shift, but also what I learned in looking at WPPSS—I think I probably did the only
class on the municipal bond market taught at the graduate level in the United States—but there, you
could see the shift. I never thought about this in terms of neoliberalism, but you saw the shift. Because
initially, they were going out to the municipal bond market to build nuclear power plants. But, by the
late ‘80s, they were building nuclear power plants in order to go out to the bond market. In other
words, finance had become dominant, just in that time. They were selling municipal bonds because
they were enormously enriching on the part of the people holding them, even though the underlying
thing, the nuke plants, were no longer viable. [chuckles] It was an incredible scam. It was one of the
biggest transfers of wealth in the United States from a regional, publicly owned asset, to private
bondholders. It was extraordinary.
Zaragoza: How does the default figure into that?
Leahy: The default was about two plants out of five.
Zaragoza: But did they get their money anyway?
Leahy: They got some of it, but not all. But the thing that’s still paying is the first three plants, because
those first three plants were embedded into the Bonneville rates. So, 50 percent of the power cost at


Bonneville is paying for three nukes. No one knows that, but it’s still the case. They’re paying for the
interest on those bonds.
Zaragoza: So finance is still making money off of it.
Leahy: Yes. Anyhow, I think the no new money, the public education assault, and the assault on labor
were certainly three critical parts of neoliberalism, and they were taking place here in Washington State
in the early ‘80s and mid-‘80s. I remember the State Labor Council had a convention during that time,
and the banner said “Organizing.” And I thought to myself, really? You want to organize? So, a part of
that was, okay, set up a labor education center and teach organizing.
Zaragoza: What year do you begin the Labor Center?
Leahy: When I was in the MPA program teaching. The MPA program was really great, because you
taught an eight-credit class, but you weren’t teaching 16. The other eight credits, you were supposed to
do community service as an MPA faculty member. My community service became organizing the Labor
Education Research Center.
First, I went around to every labor council in this state, and got resolutions passed, saying, “We a
labor education center at the Evergreen State College.” Then, I got a proposal for $139,000 inserted
into the Evergreen State College budget. Oftentimes, Evergreen really didn’t know that it was getting in
there, but I got it in anyhow. I think they were as surprised as I was that it was in there, but it got in
there for the ’87-’89 biennial.
I was doing classes. I started doing electives, and one of my electives was on the organized
labor changing situation for workers and their unions. That was on Saturdays, and I did a labor lecture
series, in which I brought in labor leadership from around the state to give lectures. I did labor films
every Saturday.
I started actually doing projects before the Labor Center was even funded. Because one of the
things labor union people were saying is “I’m kind of interested in labor education, but what would it
actually do?” So, for a year prior to 1987, we did Labor Center Previews, which we did on our own. We
did things about drug testing, and we did stuff about stewardship. There was a whole list of things. We
did about eight things during the course of the year from ’86 to ’87. The last thing we did in ’87 was a
summer school for union women, which actually turned out to be the founding event of the Labor
Center, because we had gotten the money.
Then we did a huge project for the Machinists Union. I had a staff of seven or eight people that I
hired. The Machinists Union at Boeing got, in their ’83 contract, a union contract. They had 1,000
stewards, and I don’t know exactly how, but I went up there and said, “We’ll do a steward education

program for you.” They hired me, and I hired a bunch of other people, and we designed their steward
education program for the 1,000 Machinists, including books.
John McCann, who was a student of mine, wrote a history of the Machinists Union as his MPA
applications project. I had another person that did a study of firefighters in Washington State, and that
became the beginning of the history of the State Council that’s called Fully Involved. But it began with
an MPA thesis on the firefighting organizing in this state. That was done by a woman; I can’t remember
her name. But John McCann’s book, called Blood in the Water, the Machinists Union printed 2,000
copies of that, and every steward got a copy of the history of the Machinists Union 751. McCann did
that as an MPA project. So a lot of the MPA people were doing labor stuff for me, too.
It was a full-fledged, all out movement to create a Labor Center, and we did it. Then, of course,
there was a big fight about who should be the director. By that time, a lot of formal labor people didn’t
want me, but they got me anyhow.
Zaragoza: Do you want to speak about why they didn’t want you?
Leahy: I think the State Labor Council, Larry Kenney, didn’t want me, primarily. He was the main
opposition. He didn’t want me because he wanted the Labor Center to be an affiliate of the State Labor
Council, which meant that if anybody came to a Labor Center event that wasn’t an affiliate of the State
Labor Council, you had to charge them more money. He didn’t want the Labor Center to be doing
anything, any work, for any labor union that wasn’t a part of the State Labor Council. Okay, well, that
eliminated probably a third of the labor—probably more than that, because the Washington Education
Association, which is 60,000 teachers, are not a part of the State Labor Council. The Teamsters, at that
time, weren’t part of the Labor Council. The Association of Western Pulp and Paper Workers—all the
paper mills and pulp mills—they weren’t a part of [the State Labor Council].
Zaragoza: So, in some ways, it was about independence. You were fighting for independence, and they
were trying to keep you from being independent.
Leahy: Yeah, so what we said was, “We’re available to anybody that bargains collectively.” That was
not something that Larry Kenney wanted, so he didn’t want me to be the director, and neither did some
of the other people, who were more conservative, people who—I won’t say this, but I will say this, they
certainly were not interested in having a Labor [Center] start off with a summer school for union
women. They didn’t want a Labor Center that organized an African-American Leadership Conference.
Our analysis was that labor does not move unless it crosses gender and race lines. When it
does, there’s expansion; when it doesn’t, there’s contraction. The Labor Center was dedicated to
crossing those two lines. We spent a lot of time bringing women in, and we spent a lot of time with

African-American Leadership Conferences, and also working with the farmworkers in Yakima. So, we
crossed those lines.
Another thing was that our Labor Center was not a labor-management cooperation center. If
you look at what labor centers were, including the one in Oregon, they are labor-management
cooperation centers. That pretty much was the model after World War II. The deal was made in 1955,
with the AFL-CIO joining. What was taught was labor-management cooperation. Any focus on
ownership, for instance, that was not a part of labor education. You were supposed to train people
about how to talk to management. Our analysis was that management wasn’t going to talk to labor
anymore [laughing], so something else is needed. If you remember right, there were lockouts. In this
time period, management wasn’t talking to labor, so we thought that labor probably should talk to
ownership, the capital. So that was another problem.
And then, we were focused on rank-and-file rather than on staff. We never had one education
program, in the time I was there—which was almost 10 years—that was for staff. Staff dominates most
labor unions, but we didn’t put on programs for staff. We put on programs for rank-and-file members of
unions. That was another rub.
So, it was a rank-and-file orientation; it was anybody that collectively bargained; and it was the
notion that we talked to capital. The Machinists Union is an example of that. Does a Machinist Union
business agent know their contract, chapter and verse? Yes. Do they know it cold? Do they know when
a violation takes place? Can they file a grievance? You bet your ass. But what if Boeing doesn’t want to
talk to you anymore? Who do you talk to? You need to know where Boeing’s going. You need to know
if they’re going to China. So, we were into corporate research rather than management research. That
was another thing.
There were lots of things, but it made our Center extraordinarily dynamic. We had enemies
everywhere. We had enemies in the Legislature, we had enemies in labor, and we had enemies at
Zaragoza: That’s where I wanted to go next. How was this Labor Center received at Evergreen? What is
the atmosphere like for the Labor Center in its early days? What were some of those less-than-friendly
relationships like with colleagues?
Leahy: At Evergreen, there’s dynamics there. One dynamic is Evergreen is a liberal arts college, and
master’s programs or any other programs that take faculty out of the undergraduate curriculum is
incorrect and wrong. So, one, I was on leave from undergraduate education. I wasn’t teaching in the
MPA program anymore, but I was not teaching the undergraduates. That’s one dynamic. So, it was a

waste of faculty time for me to be running the Labor Education Center. I should have been in the
undergraduate curriculum. That’s one dynamic, not a super-powerful one, but one that was there.
The second was Patrick Hill, who was a really good guy and very supportive, basically wanted a
labor studies program. He was Provost. Good faculty member. But he wanted a labor studies program.
He didn’t want a labor education center that did non-credit programs for labor union members. He
didn’t care about that. It was fine, but he wanted a studies program, and he expected me to do that,
which is why we started a part-time class. John McCann taught the first one, and then we hired Sarah
Ryan to teach the second one. But that’s where that came from. That’s where Sarah Ryan came from,
that’s where we got the deans to approve, I think, a four-credit or something academic class that we
helped—we didn’t hire that person, but it was kind of like our hire. The deans hired them, but
nonetheless, we pushed for that, and it was approved. But that’s all we did on that. That wasn’t a
major problem, I don’t think, but Patrick wanted that.
I know what the big rub was with Olander. He was pretty much amenable to things. I brought
him out to talk to the Teamsters and stuff like that, and he was an incredible speaker. He was just an
unbelievable speaker. He just charmed the shit out of them. Whenever we did programs and stuff, we
had all the diplomas signed by the President, and everybody got certificates from the Labor Center
signed by the fucking President of the Evergreen State College. They were amazed, because most of the
people, they got out of high school, but the idea of being in a college environment was brand new to a
lot of them.
So, he was very helpful. So was Patrick. But there came a time in which I didn’t talk to the
press, because I believed that I did not represent labor, and so I would not talk to the press. A lot of
times the press would come to Labor Education Center directors and say, “What’s the situation [around
the? 01:46:17] labor?” And they would talk their expertise. I figured that we were only about labor, but
we didn’t represent labor, and I wasn’t a spokesperson for labor, so I never talked to the press about
labor or strikes or whatever. Never.
But there was this one guy who interviewed me from the Guild Union of newspapers guys, and
he did a three-part interview with me. I talked to him because he was a union member, and it was a
union newspaper. It became this thing entitled “The Deal Is Dead.” It said that the post-World War II
deal with labor is gone—dead—any labor unions need to do something else. It laid out everything I
thought about labor, and about the Labor Center, and the rest.
Zaragoza: To use the terms that we’re using now, it’s the labor has switched from the Keynesian period
of the Deal, the Accord, into this neoliberal period . . .

Leahy: Yes, it was.
Zaragoza: . . . where that deal has been torn up.
Leahy: It’s been torn up. The social welfare floor is torn up, the regulatory floor is torn up, and labor
acceptance is torn up, so that deal is dead. And that was the title.
Zaragoza: What year was that, Dan, that that comes out? Is that late ‘80s, early ‘90s?
Leahy: Jesus, I don’t really know. We’ve been in the Labor Center for a while, so it must have been mid‘90s or something. They really came after me after that.
Zaragoza: Organized labor, or Evergreen?
Leahy: Organized labor. They wanted me gone. They brought me into a hotel room, actually, in
Snohomish in Everett one time, and pretty much threatened me. They wanted me to publicly rescind
what I said. [exhales quickly] Frightened me.
Zaragoza: I’ll bet.
Leahy: Anyhow, so they were definitely after me after that. I mean, people were saying that I didn’t
have any respect for their ongoing struggles, didn’t recognize any ongoing struggles. People in Tacoma,
some of those people. I don’t know where I was going with that story.
Zaragoza: We were talking about the relationship of the Labor Center with Evergreen. And then, you
didn’t talk to the press, but there was this Guild article.
Leahy: Yeah. I can’t remember. There was some meeting in which they brought Olander in, and they
basically raked him over the coals for . . . I don’t know whether it was because he appointed me.
Actually, that’s out of sequence. I don’t know what it was, but I remember Olander getting completely
ripped by Larry Kenney and the rest of them, and it was over me.
Zaragoza: So, some of the tension that you experienced with Evergreen was due to organized labor
inciting it.
Leahy: Oh, yeah. I don’t know that Evergreen really—other than the undergraduate stuff, did they
care? I don’t think they did. We brought a lot of labor support for Evergreen. There was a lot of labor
support for Evergreen. We brought a lot of people during the summers. We had summer camps, we
filled the dormitories. I don’t really remember a lot of tension with Evergreen. It was more the
Legislature wanted to get rid of us periodically, or sectors of organized labor wanted to get rid of us.
Zaragoza: Were you supported by colleagues? Were you embraced by colleagues? How did they feel
about the Labor Center as an institution at the college that you all worked at?
Leahy: We weren’t really that related, in some ways. We definitely had students as interns. I did
independent contracts with students, because I could still do that. I didn’t have any formal classes, but I

did independent contracts, I did internships, so I was still working with a lot of students. We hired
students. But colleagues? I think probably one of the most interesting programs—I know there was this
interest on the part of us integrating more.
One of the examples was with Sam Schrager. Sam Schrager was interested in having his
students interview people, and we had just gotten through with this oral history. One of the first things
we did when we organized in the Labor Center is we picked out the largest, most recent, and greatest
strikes in Washington labor history. Then, we went and found people that were participants in them.
We interviewed them in their homes, figured out what story they should tell, and then we brought them
back to Evergreen onstage. I interviewed Dave Beck, actually, onstage. We interviewed Machinists,
woodworkers, teachers, I think onstage, on panels. All that was recorded by those guys in the Media
After that, we had all these people, and we knew their name, address and phone number, and
Sam was interested in having his students interview people. So, we aligned with Sam, and we gave
them the list of all these people, and his students went out and interviewed those people. Then they
brought them back for a luncheon, I think, or dinner or something, at Evergreen, and introduced the
person that they had been interviewing to everybody else. That was one of the richest things that I
attended. I think Sam was a fairly new faculty member at that time, and that was really a great project
that we did.
I have to tell you this one story. This young woman introduced this Longshore guy, and he stood
up and he said, “I want to tell you all, you young workers, this story. There was a cowboy out there
looking for work, and he rode into this ranch one time, and he said, ‘You got any work for me?’ The
owner comes out and says, ‘Yeah, I’ve got work for you, and you can bunk over there, and I’ll pay you a
certain amount of money. But before you start working for me, I want to tell you something about
myself.’ And the cowboy says, ‘Well, what’s that?’ He said, ‘Well, I’m a man of few words. So when I
give a whistle, I want you to come a-running.’ The cowboy said, ‘I’m really glad you told me that,
because it turns out that I, too, am a man of few words. And so when you give that whistle, if you see
me going like this, and shaking my head, it means I ain’t a-coming.’”
I thought that was one of the greatest stories ever told to a bunch of young fucking Evergreen
students. And there were stories like that that went around the table, and I thought this was one of the
greatest transfers of worker wealth to young workers that I’d ever seen.
We also did an extraordinary conference with Linn Nelson. Linn Nelson’s work was with the
COSH groups in New York State, with the Occupational, Safety and Health groups. They’re called COSH

groups. So when she came to Evergreen, she had this real interest in labor and environmental relations,
and we put on this big conference with Lynn. Helen Lee organized it. I think it was called Workers, the
Environment, and something else. But we did that. That was another great example of the
collaboration that was possible.
We did a lot of work with Marge Brown, and the people in the Media Center. We did a lot of
video work. During the summer schools for union women, we structured it based upon cohort.
Everybody was in a cohort named by a famous labor history woman. So, they’d learn to function in a
group, and then the next day, we’d fill them full of information, and then the third day, they were
supposed to analyze that information.
End Part 1 of 2 of Daniel Leahy on 8-29-17
Begin Part 2 of 2 of Daniel Leahy on 8-29-17
Leahy: Okay, so the first day was a cohort group—learn how to function in a group—a group of 10
women. Then, feed them full of information. That was the second, whatever the theme was. And then
the third day was analyze and act. Act was always something that we built into ever Labor Center thing.
Every Labor Center thing was about history, political economy, and organizing. That was our pedagogy.
They always had to act on their analyses. The way they acted was they put on a 10-minute skit,
and the person that helped us with that was Marge Brown. We did it in the studio, with Doug and the
whole staff. Women had 10 minutes to go in the studio to set up, 10 minutes to shoot, and 10 minutes
to get out. There was another guy there, I can’t remember, with Doug [last name?]. Who was the guy
who ran the Media Center for a long time? Anyway, he was great.
What they’d do is we’d get out of there and do other things. We did evaluations. Then these
guys would put together the video, including background music. That night, we’d go into Lecture Hall 3
or 2 or something, and we’d show the videos on the big screen. [laughing] And we’d bring in wine, and
all kinds of other stuff. We’d sit there drinking wine, and watch these women perform, and man, it was
just incredible. So, the use of videos, and the use of that studio and stuff, was really an important part
of Labor Center work.
They also produced a 30-minute movie on the role of the union steward for the Machinists
Union project. We actually had an actor voiceover. We paid for a union woman to be the voice on that,
and we produced a professional, 30-minute video on the role of the union steward for the Machinists
Union, in that studio. So, we did a lot of work with the studio, with Lynn, and Sam. A lot of students, for
sure, came through the Labor Center and did a lot of work with the students. So, we were active that
way, I think, with Evergreen.

I can’t remember other . . . you know, I gave talks, of course, periodically. People would ask me
to give a talk, but I don’t remember doing that many talks on labor in other classes. Maybe I did, I don’t
Zaragoza: At some point, you transition out of the Labor Center. Maybe you want to talk about that.
Leahy: Yeah. When NAFTA started, we started doing tri-national work with the Labor Center. I
organized, in 1993, a conference on NAFTA and the future of public education. Raised a lot of money,
and brought 40 delegates from Mexico up. Actually, I was so frightened about money that I flew down
to Mexico City, and I handed out airplane tickets.
We brought up 40 delegates from educational unions in Mexico, Canadian unions. Quebequois
were there from Quebec. We had translation in three different languages. We had professional
translators we flew up from Mexico. We did it in the Communications Building, for three days. At the
end of that, we had this incredible program, but we had no mechanism to implement it.
So one day, I got a piece of paper from Pam Udovich, my great program secretary, and I said,
“Pam, what does this number mean after my name?” And she said, “That means that you have two
quarters of paid leave, Dan.” I said, “Are you kidding me?” She said, “No.” I said, “Okay, well, I’m
I took a year off, and me, Bethany and our two kids went to Mexico—lived in Zacatecas,
Mexico—and organized the Tri-National Coalition for the Defense of Public Education, with a conference
of February of that year, the next year, and whatever. I think it is a rule, it said if you take your
sabbatical, you owe Evergreen teaching. I felt it was probably inappropriate for me to come back and to
continue to run the Labor Center, so I said, “I’m going to give up the Labor Center, and come back to the
undergraduate curriculum.”
Helen Lee became the director of the Labor Center, and when I came back, I went into the
undergraduate curriculum and started teaching. I think my first class was with Stephanie Coontz in
America 2000, about youth in America. So, I shifted to the undergraduate curriculum. I taught with you,
taught with Jeanne Hahn, Chuck Pailthorp, Stephanie Coontz and Peter Bohmer. I don’t know who else.
Zaragoza: What were some of the memorable programs that you did during that time?
Leahy: Teaching with Stephanie Coontz was certainly memorable. She was one of the hardest working
faculty members I’d bumped in to. She was an extraordinary teacher, writing and analysis. She
oftentimes would write more back to the students than they would write in their papers. She was truly
extraordinary. And she was very famous at that time, because her book had come out, and she was on
TV. She’d walk in with her kind of short straight skirt on, and her books, tea in one hand and books in

another, just intimidating the shit out of these students. It was just wonderful to watch. I used to
imitate her.
Teaching with her was really a great way to enter into Evergreen. It was a freshman class. The
great thing about that freshman class was that I actually got to watch freshmen. I never saw MPA
students again, generally. But we taught that freshman class, and I’d watch the freshmen go through
the next four years at Evergreen, not in my classes but just around campus. I would see them come in
as themselves, kind of lonesome, and then the second year, they’d become whatever the current hit of
the day was at Evergreen. Whether it was purple hair or whatever it was, they’d join in on that. The
third year, you’d notice that they’d actually found something that they were seriously interested in, and
they’d be into it. The fourth year, they were somehow themselves, and ready to go out into the world.
It was really great to watch that.
That was one of the real benefits of teaching freshmen, even though my first lecture, I felt that I
really had to give my best stuff, so I really worked hard on this first lecture. But the class—I think this
was the class with Stephanie—started at 9:00 in the morning, and, of course, all these students were
barely awake. I was giving this talk, and I noticed the students were like starting to lean over and go
back to sleep. I’d say, “Hey, this is my best shit here! I want you to listen up!” [laughter] It didn’t make
any difference. They said, “We’re trying, Dan, but we were up till 2:00 in the morning.” So I never, ever
did that again, start a freshman class at 9:00, or any class at 9:00. Teaching with her was really great,
and then watching freshman students over the years, that was really fun.
I did a class on the WTO. We did that together, right?
Zaragoza: No, that wasn’t you and me.
Leahy: That wasn’t you and me? We did a class on the WTO, and I remember doing that class because I
remember Evergreen students on the radio talking about how the WTO was some corporate conspiracy.
I thought to myself, if those were my students, I’d be fucking embarrassed. So, I brought original
documents—which I tend to do—to my class. I taught a course on NAFTA, and I made them read
I taught a class on the Patriot Act, and my students actually read the fucking Patriot Act. It was
huge, but we broke it down into sections. We actually read the Patriot Act, and we actually NAFTA, and
Chapter 11. I really believed in original documents, and we did that with the WTO. We read original
documents out of Marrakesh on the WTO so students could understand the difference between the
WTO and the GATT agreement, which was, in fact, substantially different. One of the differences was
that the WTO was a governmental[ly] sanctioned, approved entity.

Zaragoza: Right, it’s an organization as opposed to an agreement.
Leahy: Yeah. And a governmentally sanctioned one. There was nothing conspiratorial about it. It was
public. The WTO class, almost all the class was up at the Seattle demonstrations in November ’99. That
wasn’t us?
Zaragoza: No, I didn’t get here until 2004.
Leahy: Okay. Well, that was an extraordinary event. This was a Political, Economy and Social
Movements class, and typically, we wouldn’t get into US capital until winter.
Zaragoza: Deal with the timing.
Leahy: The WTO was showing up in November. I went up to the meetings in June and July that were
being held at the Labor Council, getting ready for the WTO in November, and it was really unclear what
they were going to do. I said, “What I’m going to do is I’m going to back to Evergreen, and we’re going
to organize a conference in preparation for whatever you guys have in November.”
So me and Stephanie Guilloud put on this two-day conference, in which every actor that was in
the streets of Seattle was at Evergreen in October, prior to the November 30 event. Everyone was
there. The direct action people were there, environmentalists were there, labor was there, Native
Americans were there. Everybody and their fucking mother was there. Those people knew each other
by the time street shit happened in November. That was super fun, and working with Stephanie
Guilloud on that was really great. That was extracurricular activity, but nonetheless, we did that. Then I
started giving talks on the WTO in the fall. Students, unbeknownst to me, after the seminar, they’d go
out and start practicing direct action and shit. [laughing]
A lot of the leadership of Stephanie Guilloud, Rebecca Tilson, Steve Hughes, Jamie Erke. Those
people, a lot of the leadership, certainly the people that organized the Convergence Center on Capitol
Hill, those are Evergreen students from my class. People in charge of security, Evergreen students from
my class. They were the ones that were on the ground in Seattle. There were bigwigs there, but those
people held the ground, and they were Evergreeners. And I think only four of them went to jail. One of
them, we lost, Sara Vekasi. But I now know where she is. She’s actually down in West Virginia. But, you
know, extraordinary.
Zaragoza: Would you talk about the program that went to Mexico?
Leahy: Sure. One of the things that I was able to do as a result of my work with the Tri-National
Coalition was to learn about Mexico. I’d traveled to Mexico, I knew Mexico, so I thought, well, I could
bring students to Mexico. I’ve been reading about Mexico; I have a huge library on Mexico. I was so


into Mexico, I was reading the North American Free Trade Agreement in Spanish. I have a copy of it.
Zaragoza: Have you ever compared translations? Does the English version say the same as the Spanish?
Leahy: You can never fucking tell in Spanish. It never concludes, it just goes on for fucking ever. I would
know every word, but what was the meaning of that sentence? But no, I haven’t.
I had a lot of contacts in Mexico, and then, I don’t know where the idea came from, I just
thought, well, I could have a class on the creation of the Mexican nation state. Because I thought the
Constitution of 1917 was a very important document, and certainly, the revolutionary movement in
Mexico was one of the first of the twentieth century. I don’t know if this is true, but supposedly Maoists
studied Villa’s movements by train for the long march. I don’t know. But it was a significant beginning
of the twentieth century social revolution that got embodied in its constitution. There are things in the
Mexican Constitution that don’t exist in the United States. We never had a social revolution here. They
had a political and social revolution, so I thought it was really important to see.
I designed this Mexican Nation State class, which was composed of two things. One, a month of
travel from Chihuahua, following the route of Pancho Villa—whose name, by the way, was Doroteo
Arango, named after St. Dorothy—and then down to Chautla and Anenecuilco to where Emiliano Zapata
operated. And then, march in a May Day parade on May 1. And then go to San Patricio, which is on the
coast of Mexico south of Puerto Vallarta, which was a place that I had been going to for the past 10
years before this class started, because of the history of the Battalion of San Patricio, which I learned
about in Mexico. We argued that the reason that town was called St. Patrick’s, or San Patricio, was
because it was founded by former Battalion members.
We started doing projects with that community, so I knew it really well, and I knew that they
were building a new preparatory, or high school, in that town. So I made arrangements with them that
if I brought students down there, the parents of the people that wanted that school would put them up
in their homes for one month, and I would give them money—that I charged the students—to the fund
to build a new preparatorio.
So, I’d take the money from the students; I’d fly down to Puerto Vallarta; take the bus to San
Patricio; transfer three or four thousand dollars to that fund; and then, I’d fly up to Chihuahua and meet
my students.
I did that the first year. It had its difficulties, the first year, because it was the first time. I wasn’t
really geared into the cronista yet, but I learned about it during that time, that each town has a cronista


historian. So I kept track, and I met all the cronistas in the different towns that we’d go to. So, by the
time I did it two years later, those cronistas were a part of our curriculum.
But the first one, nonetheless, it worked. Their Spanish wasn’t that good, but while they
traveled for a month, they were supposed to pick a project. When we got to San Patricio for the second
month, they were supposed to present that project in the community hall in San Patricio. Those didn’t
work that well because their Spanish just wasn’t that good. That was a difficulty.
But nonetheless, that was the model. The model was travel for a month, using the cronistas as
guides. We’d start in Chihuahua. We’d go down to Hidalgo del Parral, where Pancho Villa was
assassinated, and we’d go down to his place where he retired to, which was his kind of communal land
thing, for his dorados. Then we’d go down to his battles in Zacatecas, and then down Guanequato, and
then to Mexico City. Then we’d go out to where Emiliano Zapata was—where he was born, where he
was killed—and out to his headquarters even, where he had his troops quartered. We went to those
places; and then we came back; marched in the international celebration of Workers Day in Mexico. Of
course, the Mexicans know about the struggle for the eight-hour day in the United States, and they
know about the Martyrs of Chicago. They know all that better than the Americans. So, we’d march in
the May Day parade, which was a million people in the streets every day of the International Solidarity
Workers. Then we’d get on a bus, and we’d go to San Patricio.
San Patricio was pretty much maintenance stuff. It was, how’s everybody doing? Negotiating
sometimes with the families, or if there was some problem inside the families that we maybe had to
switch to a different home. But I can’t remember doing much more than that, that first year, about
what that was. The community event didn’t work that well. But the Mexicans were extraordinary hosts,
of course. They would take people on little tours and stuff, but that was pretty much it.
Zaragoza: How many years did you do it?
Leahy: Two years later, I did it again. This time it was unbelievably organized. People had to read a
book before they went. It was called Mexico Profundo. It was just an absolutely great analysis, written
in the mid-‘80s, by a wonderful anthropologist who died a young death, unfortunately. His book was
extraordinary. It was about the fact that the indigenous part of Mexico was still there; that the mestizo
was a nice nationalist concept, but, in fact, was not a reflection of what Mexico was. And when you go
to Mexico, you see Mexico Profundo the minute you step across the border. So, they had to read that
and seminar on it before they left.
The second thing I realized that they had to learn, which I learned from the first group, but the
second group was we don’t come to Mexico to drink. First time I saw that, they went out to dinner and I

wasn’t with them, and I came into the restaurant and they were there, drinking away. I told the
restaurant to cut them off. And I said, “We don’t come here to drink. Maybe you think that’s what you
do in Mexico, but that’s not what we’re doing.” Plus, by the way, all of them had credentials at the
Battalion of San Patricio as cadets, so “You’re representing the battalion, too, so none of this bullshit.”
The second year was much better organized. I knew the cronistas now. They would all meet the
students, they would tell the history of the local towns, and the relationship of that to the struggles.
The research projects were much better, and it was a class that was designed for success. It really was.
Chris Ciancetta really helped a lot. She was the international person at Evergreen. She helped us orient
the students. They had to have letters of recommendation from Evergreen faculty that they were solid
business. I didn’t want any bullshit people down there. Anyhow, I can’t tell you how well it was
working. The literature was really great. We met in Chihuahua again, and we traveled.
I’ll tell you this story. We were in Hidalgo del Parral with a cronista, and the cronista said, “We
want you to march with the Mexican Army band and the rest of us in the celebration of Elisa Griensen
Day.” So we said, “Who is Elisa Griensen?”
Well, when Jack Pershing sent his troops down into Mexico to try and find Pancho Villa, as far as
they got was Hidalgo del Parral—which is on the border of Durango and Chihuahua on the southern part
of the border—there was a young German-Mexican schoolteacher who didn’t believe that there should
be an American flag posted on the main square, the Plaza de Armas, of Hidalgo del Parral. So, she went
to the mayor, and the mayor was a Caranza supporter, and said, “We’re in support of the American
troops trying to find Pancho Villa, so the flag stays.” So Elisa Griensen went back and got 25 grade
school kids, and came out and started stoning the American troops. And the cronista would name the
25 students. It was incredible. He would go right down the list, in his brain. He’d memorized them.
What they do is every year, they have an enactment at the local school. [laughter] So I went
back to my students and I said, “You know, we’re going to march, and listen to this presentation.” And
the students said, “Jesus, we don’t want to get stoned.” I said, “You’re not going to be stoned. Put on
your Battalion t-shirts”—because everybody had a Battalion t-shit. So, they all put on their Battalion tshirts, and there’s pictures of us marching along, right with the Mexican Army band right behind us.
We marched into this auditorium that was full of all of these people—students and parents and
all this shit—and before the enactment, this teacher comes out and says, “Before we start the
enactment, I want to tell you a story about the Battalion of San Patricio.” [laughing] He says, “One of
the reasons I’m doing that is because their descendants are here.” [laughter] And he made us all stand
up. [laughing] And these kids were completely floored. They stood up and everybody applauded them.

That sets the stage for what happened later, but nonetheless, that was incredible. We went
down [to] Zacatecas, where Pancho Villa was, and Felipe Angeles, who was his French-trained artillery
guy. Then we went down to [Juanowahto?], Mexico City. And then, we were going to march in the
parade. I’ve marched in that parade for years. No big deal. There’s no cops anywhere. A million
But two of our students, in their projects, they had gotten interested in this group who was
fighting an airport, and they were from a village called Atenco, outside of Mexico City. I said, “Well, go
out and talk to them.” They went out there and talked to them, and came back and said to us that the
Atenco farmers want us to march with them in the May Day parade.
Usually, I would check with my friends in Mexico to see if it was okay to march with somebody,
but for whatever reason, I didn’t. And I really didn’t understand the battle that had been going on
between the Atenco farmers—by the way, their position was “Emiliano Zapata, his revolution, gave us
this community-owned land”—which is called the ejido system in Mexico—“and we ain’t giving it up for
a fucking airport.”
My students came back and I said, “Okay, let’s march with them. So we’re going to meet them
on a reforma somewhere.” So we went out there—all students—and the Mexicans, they have a lot of
these guys that are plainclothes that are cops or something—they came up to us and said, “You guys
should probably move on, because there’s some bad people going to show up.”
We started getting dispersed, and the students all started walking away, and I don’t know where
I was. I guess I was walking away, too. We were headed back to this Zócalo, which is where the
marchers go into, which is the main square of Mexico, in front of the Plaza de Armas, between the
cathedral and the main national palace of Mexico. I think it’s the largest square in Latin America.
I started walking back, and I hear this honking, and turn [around] and all my students were in
the back of a pickup truck, with a bunch of bandanaed Atenco farmers with their machetes. Okay, so I
got in the pickup truck. We get out near Madero Street. Madero is a very narrow street that empties
into the Zócalo, and all the marchers go down Madero Street. Just before they get in, they wait a while,
so there’s empty space. The group, whoever the group is, runs into the Zócalo. So the Atenco farmers
stopped, and then they ran into the Zócalo with about 200 machete-wielding Atenco farmers, and 17
Battalion of San Patricio members and their faculty member, [laughing] because I had told them that if
we were going to march with them, let’s put on our Battalion t-shirts.
There were two main questions in the Zócalo that day on the part of the national media. One of
them was would the Atenco farmers get past the roadblocks that were set up to stop them from coming

into Mexico City? And, two, would they make it into the Zócalo? Not only did they get past the
roadblocks, but when they ran into the Zócalo, they were running in with the Battalion of San Patricio—
17 students and their faculty member. We became the major national fucking hit of the day on national
TV, especially when the national TV people put a microphone to my students, and said, “Do you realize
that you’re violating the internal politics of Mexico?” And my students said, “Viva la revolución!”
So, we get back to the hotel where I’d stayed for the last 10 years. It’s owned by the Teachers
Union. It’s right off the Zócalo. As I walk in, people are saying, “Dan, you’re on TV here.” [laughter] I
told all the students, right then, the rules, which included things like don’t put this in writing. Anyhow, I
went through the rules, and told them to stay in the hotel. The next morning—
Zaragoza: So you realized right away how serious this was.
Leahy: Yes, because of the national TV stuff. What they were saying was that we had come down to go
join the Zapatistas in Chiapas, and that we had interfered with the internal politics of Mexico, which is a
constitutional violation. That was the media rap. And then, of course, there were people outside our
hotel; the bad people were there. So, I told everybody to stay in. One person didn’t, and came back
extremely frightened.
Zaragoza: The bad people in terms of . . .?
Leahy: Undercover cops. I called up my Mexico friends, and they said, “Look, DF [Distrito Federal] is
controlled by the PRD [Party of the Democratic Revolution], and so it’s not controlled by the PRI
[Institutional Revolutionary Party] or the PAN [National Action Party].” The PAN was in the national
government at that time, Vincente Fox. “So, you’re okay. Don’t worry about it. No one will take you in
Mexico City.”
We were going to San Patricio the next day. We got up, and all of us, except one person—who
had decided to go back to the United States because she was pregnant, and didn’t think that she could
stay and eat the food in the village for a month—she stayed, but the rest of us got on an early-morning
bus and headed to San Patricio. You go through Guadalajara first, and then you keep going west.
We made it as far as just outside of Guadalajara, where we were stopped, and a large man in a
federal officer’s uniform and a shotgun, came on the bus and said, “Them.” And he pointed to all the
gringos. We got off the bus, and they started searching through our stuff to make sure that we had
something, I don’t know, they saw some flier or something about the march—[unintelligible 00:32:09]
or something—and then they put us in a van, and they drove us to the basement of the immigration


office in Guadalajara; held us there for a while, and then they put us back in a van. They drove us to the
back end of the Guadalajara Airport.
I thought that we were going to be taken back to Mexico City, and that’s when I actually got
nervous. But, in fact, they put us in the back of an Aero Mexico flight, and with one custodian, flew us to
Los Angeles. The student that waited, about 11:00 that day, a whole swarm of federal officers came into
the hotel and swept her up. The fact that we left early, they just didn’t get up early. Otherwise we
would have been in Mexico City apparently. But they brought her in. She said she was pregnant. They
forced a pregnancy test on her, and then sent her home. Eventually, she joined us. I didn’t know where
she was for three days. It was driving me fucking crazy trying to find her.
We came into LAX, and before we went through customs, I had everybody call. Because now,
it’s 2002, and I had no idea whether we were going to be put in jail or what when we go here. The
custodian guy gave us back all our passports. We went through customs, and nothing happened. The
customs guy said, “I heard there was some trouble in Mexico City. Welcome back,” he said. [laughing]
Zaragoza: You were expelled, that’s what happened.
Leahy: Yeah. The paper said that we were expelled for engaging in activities not authorized by our visa.
It didn’t list what those activities were, and it was not under the prohibition on engagement of political
intervention in the state of Mexico. So, we were not charged with a constitutional violation of
interfering in the internal politics of Mexico. Our paper said that we had engaged in activities not
authorized by our visa, which is a completely different chapter in the Mexican Constitution. So all the
press saying that we had interfered in the internal politics of Mexico was not true.
We came back here, and the demand on the part of everybody—and there was consternation
on the part of the Provost, who was a guy from Argentina or Chile or something—called me up and said,
“We should probably talk about what’s going on.” I didn’t disagree, but I was also busy with my
students because we had to complete the coursework and the evaluation process.
To make a long story short, some of my students were, in fact, related to Mexico, and wanted to
go back to Mexico. The demand on the part of the Counsel of Mexico was “You have to apologize for
interfering in the internal politics of Mexico.” I met with him and said, “If we write the letter, what do
we get?” He said, “We’ll see.” And I said, “Well, that’s not much of a bargain there.” I wanted the
expulsion annulled, and he said, “We’ll see about that.”
On the other hand, some of my students were . . . so, I wrote this letter, which was basically an
apology for what we did in Mexico. I met with my students here at my house, and showed it to them.


They read it, and they were furious at me for writing such a letter, and said that while capital could flow
across borders, why can’t solidarity? And they would never sign a letter like that. [laughter]
I redrafted the letter, and said basically that we didn’t go down there intending to march with
the people of Atenco, but we were proud that we did. We learned a lot, and thank you very much. I
sent that out to everybody I knew in the entire world. By that time, we had letters of support from
practically every Latin American union condemning Mexico for their lack of hospitality, and in support of
us walking with the Atenco farmers, and all this other stuff.
Meanwhile, when all those letters were coming in, there was over one month of letters into The
Olympian saying what fools we were, and how little we knew about Mexico. My students knew more
about Mexico than most Mexicans. They knew more about Mexico, and the Mexican law and
constitution, than anybody that fucking lived in Olympia. But we were characterized as people who
were kind of dumb Americans that didn’t know what we were doing. That went on for over a month.
I never went to a faculty meeting in my life, but I did go to a faculty meeting in the context of
this. By then, my class was done, and I had gotten all my anonymous evaluations, which I did every
class. I basically tried to explain what happened to the faculty, and then I read from one evaluation that
said, “If you ever go to Mexico with Dan, try and get evicted after you’ve had your home stay in San
Patricio.” [laughter]
I read that to the faculty, and I don’t know whether they were pleased or not. But there were
faculty that were saying that I had fucked up international travel. Not a lot, but some. But the thing
that Evergreen did—the deans at that time, who I won’t mention—took my Mexican Nation State class
out of the curriculum for the 2004 period. In other words, my class was every two years. It took an
enormous amount of organizational energy to get my class into the curriculum, in which I wasn’t at
Evergreen. I had money to travel, and my students and that program, how I moved the money. I had to
be approved. It was an organizational feat to get a travel program into Mexico for two months.
But now, Evergreen had a curriculum. It was in the curriculum now, so that meant every two
years, my class was going to be in the curriculum. So, in the midst of all this turmoil when I came back,
the deans canceled—they were making the curriculum for 2004—they took my class out, and they said,
“You’re not going back.” And I said, “We don’t know if we’re going back. We’re in the middle of
I negotiated to get that annulled for two years after 2002. We had appeals going on in Mexico.
I raised money. I got in trouble for raising money, but that’s another story. That was another thing that
happened to me as a result of this.

When they took it out of the curriculum without even asking me, I wanted to leave Evergreen
that day. Outside my office door was a huge whole wall of stuff I put up about different things, teaching
or other things. I took all that down. I wanted to leave. I called up TIAA-CREF and said, “Can I get my
money?” I wanted to leave. But I wasn’t 65, and I couldn’t get the healthcare stuff, so I ate it for two
years. As soon as 65 came along, I quit. But I was ready to quit when they took my class out. You asked
me about emeritus. That’s why I didn’t want emeritus.
End Part 2 of 2 of Daniel Leahy on 8-29-17


Daniel Leahy
Interviewed by Tony Zaragoza
The Evergreen State College oral history project
August 30, 2017

Leahy: With the WPPSS, I was on Town Hall, Channel 4, on KOMO, during the WPPSS fights. I was the
only person speaking against the four or five different nuclear power plants, and other people were for
it. They had me mic’d with a lapel on my chest, and at one point, I coughed, and put my hand on my
chest and it hit the mic. [laughing] Everybody went bananas.
Zaragoza: Where we left off, we were talking about your contribution to the undergraduate curriculum,
and you told us some stories about the WTO class, about the Mexico class, and I wanted to see if there
were some other classes that you wanted to talk about in those final years.
Leahy: I also talked about America 2000 with Stephanie [Coontz], which was really great.
Zaragoza: Yeah.
Leahy: We did a class on the question of social forums. This was after the World Social Forum in Porto
Alegre, Brazil. The question of the social forum was in the air, and the people at Atlanta—Project
South—agreed to sponsor the first US social forum. So, we did a class on social forums, the question
being whether social forums stimulate local social movements, or whether they retard them. We did a
whole class on the social movement. What we did was we roleplayed all the actors coming to the
Atlanta US Social Forum. Every person was, in fact, a member of the national planning committee. They
also researched the organization that they were part of. So each student was a member of the national
planning committee—that person—and then they researched that person’s organization. Then we
played the US Social Forum in the class. And, believe it or not, we pretty much came up with what
actually took place in the Social Forum later that summer.
Zaragoza: Yeah, because you then took down the summer class, in addition to the—
Leahy: Yeah, I took a summer class—nine students, I think—and we were part of the Social Forum. We
volunteered to do work down there. We were in Atlanta. We all stayed together in a funky motel. One
of the great things was that some of those nine kids actually bumped into the person that they had
played, and they knew them right away. [laughter] They knew everything about them.
But I thought was really interesting, because those kids, we roleplayed it, they stayed in their roles, and
we really pretty much came up with what the Social Forum itself was able to do in Atlanta. That was
2007, I think.
There was another class that Anthony [Zaragoza] and I did. We were supposed to do a class on China in
the spring. I had been reading for the last, I don’t know how long, about China. I still have a lot of books
about China. Then in September, after Katrina happened, we had our first meeting in the fall.


Anthony said to me, “I’m just going to say one word. New Orleans.” And I thought, you’re right. So we
switched, and we did a class on New Orleans in the spring. That was an extraordinary class, because we
had 50 students come into that class because they wanted to know what happened in New Orleans.
That was an extraordinary class. We read about New Orleans history, and about what the structure of
New Orleans itself was, what its relationship to the sea was ecologically, and then what took place
during the quote-unquote “rescue” time in Katrina, and what the plans were for Katrina afterwards.
I think that was one of the richest classes I was ever a part of. Part of it, of course, was because the
extraordinary interest on the part of students, but also because Anthony and I were able to set up a
really great structure for them to learn, which is what Evergreen is best at, really.
Zaragoza: We also played some strategy games in that one, which also turned out to be quite true. The
big thing of that, remember, was the conference that we put on. Do you remember the conference,
where the students showed all their research, and we had folks from around the country come and
speak? We had survivors who were based in Seattle come speak. You had gotten a firefighter to come
down from Seattle that had done a rescue mission. I had helped to get Jerome Scott. We got
Whatshisname from Common Ground. Don’t you remember?
Leahy: Oh, wait! Malik Raheem came up. That’s right! He stayed in the basement with his girlfriend.
Yes, that’s right.
Zaragoza: You told the story of him filling his suitcases with supplies to take back home.
Leahy: Yes, he was going around getting—I can’t remember—I think he was getting stuff for his housing
project, because some of the students went down there. Like that woman who became an attorney
that you knew.
Zaragoza: Elizabeth Hendren.
Leahy: Elizabeth Hendren and other people went down and worked on the housing projects and stuff.
Yeah, that was a super-rich class and conference. I had actually forgotten about that conference.
Zaragoza: Because we packed the Capitol Theater for Jerome Scott’s Project South and Malik Raheem
to speak.
Leahy: That’s right. Jerome Scott was here, and Malik, in the Capitol Theater. Yeah, that’s a great
resource I think Evergreen should use more often. We did it then. I did it once after the WTO, we
packed it after the WTO. We did it with the Iraq War thing once.
Zaragoza: Yeah, when Scott Whatshisname came. That’s right.
Leahy: Yeah, Scott.
Zaragoza: Former inspector.
Leahy: And Dahr Jamail. We did this thing called “Support the Truth.”
Another class I did was in 2005, I think, there was a worldwide demonstration against the Iraq War, and
marches all over the world. I think there was a feeling at that time that marching didn’t work, so I
wanted to do a class called Marching, and analyze what it takes to put on a march that’s visible long
enough so people see what it is you’re requesting.

It was probably the first class I ever did in which I only planned the first two weeks. Usually I plan all the
way through. Everything. But I only planned the first two weeks because I was looking for
opportunities, either for the students to march, or to participate in marching. But that class was really
great. I found a book down in California that was a history of why people march on Washington.
Because it was something that was developed over time, and slowly, it became something that a protest
movement or a social movement would do, march on Washington. We think it’s common now, but it
So, I found this book about why that became a part of social movement methods. We read that to begin
with, and then all the students took a particular march and analyzed the march. I had a whole list,
because I wanted to do manual about how, in fact, you move people over time in a marching formation.
So they all had to look at not just the goals of the march, but the internal logistics that it takes to move
people distances over time.
And [chuckles] I remember I decided to try and find a drill sergeant. I did find a drill sergeant who had
been a drill sergeant for something like 25 years. I don’t remember his name, but I met with him
downtown, and he asked whether he should come in uniform. I said, “Probably not. Just come yourself.
But I want you to talk about why you march.”
This was the very first class, so the girls’ basketball team comes in with their basketballs, and it turns out
that it’s 25 students. It’s full for a class that was only titled Marching. [chuckles] I couldn’t fucking
believe it. But anyhow, it’s full.
I turned to this man and I said, “Well, to start off, why don’t you talk a little bit about why the Army
marches.” He said, “Well, to get from point A to point B.”
And there was silence. I thought he was going to talk for probably a half hour, and I could figure out
who’s in the class, and what we should do next.
Then I said, “Well, actually, how did marching become a thing in the Army?” “Well, there was this
German drill manual that we found during the Revolutionary War, so we kind of adopted that, and that
became kind of our drill and marching manual.”
I wasn’t going to get anything more out of this guy, so I said to the students—this is really great—“Well,
I’ve reserved the gym, so shall we all go marching?” [laughing] They all jumped up, and we all went
over to the gym, and this guy put them in formations, and marches around. And while he was marching
people around in kind of basic military style—by the way, he had promised to teach chants, but to make
sure they were all clean. Because from my ROTC days, of course, I knew dirty chants. He said, “We have
team chants now in the Army.” That’s fine.
So, he was teaching them chants and stuff, but while he was doing that, he picked out three kids from
among the 25 in the class to teach them about replacing him, during the time we were there. I know
this guy had been looking at young people—18-year-old, 19-year-old kids—for 25 years, but that man
picked out the three leaders of our class—it was extraordinary, I thought—who became the leaders. I
don’t think it was because he chose them to do that, but they were the leaders of the class, however
that worked out. That was pretty extraordinary. I don’t know who he was, I forgot his name.


So, we did that, and all the kids made different presentations—Take Back the Night, the antiwar
marches, Gay Pride Parade—and they analyzed the goals and the logistics of the marching. It was really
great presentations. And then, they were supposed to come up with where they wanted to march
themselves. So I gave them three possibilities, and we had speakers come in to say you should do this
march, or that march. They decided to march against the Washington Assessment of Student Learning,
or the WASL, the standardized tests. All of them pretty much had taken it, because a lot of them were
from Washington State, and they hated the fucking WASL.
They decided to “[tossel? 00:12:23] the WASL,” and they made up chants, they made up signs, and we
marched from Evergreen down to Capital High School, and Capital High School down to Jefferson Middle
School. Then we went to Garfield, and then we went through downtown to OSPI. And we stopped at
each place. The reception was extraordinary.
We had a guy who was a bail bondsman from Centralia, and he became our guy in charge of the police.
He was great! Great, big guy. We made him in charge of the police. And we were all prepared. I can’t
tell you how we prepared. We had a backup car in case somebody couldn’t do it; we had the medical
team. Based upon Sun Tzu, we had all hand signals. Because one of the things about marching is you
can’t tell oftentimes what the front of the march is doing, so you lose contact. So, we came up with
these elaborate hand signals to say what we were doing or not doing. [laughing] It was an extremely
well-organized 20-person march.
We got to the Capital High School, and the first people that met us were the local cops. It was perfect.
So we sicced our bail bondsman on the cop. Then we went to Jefferson Middle School, and there was
nobody at Jefferson Middle School. We kept going, and the next one was Garfield. And Bruce Walton,
who was the principal for my sons, he brought everybody out of the school, and watched us walk by as
an example of what a march is, so the kids could see what a march is. It was really great.
To make a long story short, I bought everybody dinner at Ben Moore’s. But the next day, one of my
neighbor’s kids was at Jefferson Middle School. She was at our house for dinner, or I was at their house
for dinner, and she said, “Something really extraordinary happened today.” I said, “Really? What
happened at Jefferson?” She said, “The school was locked down.” I said, “The school was locked down?
Why?” “Because these protesters were coming by.” [laughing]
So, we got a cop, a lockdown, a general greeting. It was a truly wonderful example.
I guess the other thing about that class which happened was that we were practicing marching down the
back road, toward the back parking lot, down whatever that road is. And when we got through, we
came back and we decided to march through Red Square. So, in military formation, we marched
through Red Square.
The next day, the Cooper Point Journal said—they took a photo of us, apparently. We didn’t know this.
And then they did this thing “Another Day at Evergreen.” And that was really such a great event,
because everybody got to have a lesson about what the press says about something. It certainly wasn’t
another fucking day at Evergreen. Evergreen has never had a disciplined military march go through it.
We were the only ones that ever did that, because most people just kind of want to walk along and
scratch your nuts or something, but we marched in formation. So they wrote to the Cooper Point
Journal, and it was really great. That was a great class.

Zaragoza: That spring of ’08, I think.
Leahy: Yeah, it was near the end.
Zaragoza: That may have been one of the last.
Leahy: I think it was.
Zaragoza: Then you did that class in on pipelines. Do you want to comment on that? Because that
resulted in a big conference, too, where you had all kinds of folks.
Leahy: Yeah, that was later. I had been retired for, I don’t know, several years, but I got interested in
the movement of oil trains from the Bakken oilfields in North Dakota. They started making unit trains,
which is 100 to 120, so that’s three million gallons of highly flammable Bakken oil, moving on a train. It
was coming through our communities, and trying to move it to various marine transfer stations in
Vancouver, Grays Harbor, Tacoma, up the coast.
I started researching it, and decided to figure out how to stop it. I wanted to have—I got in the car, and
I went—like any organizer, you go horizontally to look for movements, or to even create one. So, I went
horizontally, and I talked to all the people in Vancouver, Longview, Grays Harbor, Tacoma, up in
Anacortes where they were building expansions of the Tesoro refinery. I talked to all the people. I went
to Spokane.
Zaragoza: Went to Quinault Nations, Spokane.
Leahy: Yeah, I went to Spokane, Quinaults, and talked to them about what they were doing. And one
thing that was very clear is that a lot of them were definitely on the ground, but they weren’t connected
to themselves, other than perhaps by email. But I think social movements only really develop with faceto-face interaction and contact.
So, I decided to pull them all together. But I needed a space. And the space I wanted to use, which I’ve
used before, was the Longhouse, because it’s a great space. But in order to get the Longhouse free, I’d
have to do a class. Plus, I didn’t have any money to finance a conference, because I was going to pay for
anybody who was outside the Olympia area—pay their travel costs—so that it’s equalized. So I needed
money, and I also needed staff, because I didn’t have any staff or organization.
Basically, what I did was I decided to sponsor an eight-credit class, summer class, at Evergreen, which I
was lucky enough to do, mainly because of Sarah Ryan, because I was way, way late. But Sarah Ryan
approved it, and I got on the curriculum. I got seven or eight students. I got their money, because I’m
kind of high on the pay list, I got $3,000 or $4,000 for that class, I think. That gave me the ability to
finance—because I didn’t need the money personally, so that was my pot to finance travel and
propaganda. And then, as a result of that class, I got the Longhouse free. I scheduled the Longhouse.
It turned out to be a region-wide conference, but initially, it was called the Statewide Strategy Summit
on Oil Trains. What we basically did was to show people the mainline constituents that were worried
about this new phenomenon. So, Native Americans spoke first, not only because it’s their place, but
because they were in the front foreground of fighting against oil terminals, coal terminals, and oil trains.
We had people from the Quinaults; we had a person from Athabaska Indians out of Fort McMurray. I
actually went up to Fort McMurray before the summit, and looked at the tar sands, because a lot of the

oil that’s coming down is not just Bakken and this tar sands’ oil. So, we had an Athabasca Indian; I got
him to come down. We had representatives from the Quinaults and two other—I can’t remember who
they were. But we had a panel, and then we had a labor panel.
Zaragoza: Lummi, right?
Leahy: Oh, yes, Lummi. Then we had a labor panel, and the labor panel was extraordinary. I had IBEW
there that does the electrical work inside the tunnels that these trains are stored in oftentimes, or
parked in. I had a guy who actually drives a 120-car oil train. I had Longshore from Vancouver, who
were nervous about having an oil transfer station on the Columbia River, and one other one. And then I
had community members, the people on the ground, like the people associated with the Sierra Club
down in Vancouver; the Friends of Grays Harbor in Grays Harbor; the people with Evergreen Islands in
So I had basically three strands of plenary presentations. There were several things that happened, but
one of the things that happened was workers are extremely matter-of-fact oftentimes about what
they’re doing. But in the middle of the conference, this man, I think his name was Rob Hill. He lives over
in Gig Harbor. He’s an engineer. He no longer does it, but he was driving 120-car unit trains up the I-5
He said to this crowd, “You know, you’d better be really strapped into that chair when you’re driving this
train, because if you hit a rough spot, all of a sudden, you have 100-plus cars that are rocking back and
forth, left to right. And you’ve got three million gallons of highly flammable Bakken oil slushing back and
forth, north and south. You’d better hold on or you’re going to get bumped off your seat.”
When he said that—and he was just saying that as a matter of fact, he wasn’t trying to scare anybody; it
was just a matter-of-fact statement—that thing just silenced everybody. You could have heard a pin
drop. There were 120, 130 people there. It was like, wow. It was something.
Then we had workshops, of course. Some people reported back; some people didn’t. Overall I think it
went pretty well. The difficulty was that there was supposed to be—it was planned to have—a
coordinating body set up, but the people responsible for setting up the coordinating body, that room
was full of existing Seattle-based environmental organizations. And as far as they were concerned, they
were already the leadership of the movement. So they, in my mind, didn’t want a coordinating
committee to take place. So it didn’t.
But one of the things I set up after that meeting, and that’s still existing, is a discussion group called the
Solidarity Round Table on Oil, and it’s sponsored by, and hosted by, the Washington State Council of
Firefighters in Olympia. About every three or four months, we have a strategic discussion about—it’s
usually—and we have it with 20 people at the most. It goes from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. It’s an update,
but it’s also a discussion of ongoing strategy. Sometimes we do sign-on letters; sometimes we just talk
strategy; sometimes we decide what we should do all together. But it is a discussion group, it’s not a
decision-making body. That means that people can come to that that don’t necessarily—they’re not
going to get tarred with any decision that’s made. We’ve had the Farmers Union come, Northwest
Farmers Union. Representative Kent Wright has come.
Zaragoza: Wasn’t there a rancher there at that conference?


Leahy: Yeah.
Zaragoza: You also brought someone out from Montreal, whose neighborhood exploded from—
Leahy: Oh, yeah, I forgot. We brought the people from Lac-Mégantic. Yeah, Jacques. Yeah, we brought
him out. That was really great. I forgot about that. Yes, we brought him all the way from Québec.
Seven hundred bucks. But we brought him out. He was wonderful. He stayed here, and he talked
about Lac-Mégantic, where 47 people, if I remember right, were killed by a train that ran into the town
and exploded. That town, by the way, doesn’t exist. They moved the town. Yeah, I forgot Jacques. He
was great.
As a result of that, every July, I think, there’s been memorials to those people that had died in that train
fire from Lac-Mégantic. We built a wall. People in Grays Harbor built a wall. They put all the names on
it. So that was an important thing that happened as a result.
The other things is that the leadership—from Vancouver to Longview, Kalama, Grays Harbor, here in
Olympia, up to Anacortes, some in Tacoma—they all know each other, face to face, and they still meet.
Now we’re focused on trying to take over the ports so that we can stop them being used as fossil fuel
export platforms.
But that was a great use of a summer class that I did.
Zaragoza: What year did you retire, Dan?
Leahy: I retired in ’08, so the winter of ’09, I think, I was officially gone. I retired when I was 65.
Zaragoza: You were mentioning earlier, when we were talking, that you didn’t want to do emeritus.
Leahy: Yeah.
Zaragoza: You were talking a little bit about that, and I wanted to hear more of your thoughts on why
you didn’t want to be emeritus.
Leahy: I just didn’t see any reason for it. In some ways, after the deans canceled my—right in the
middle of all the trouble with my Mexican class, they canceled my—this would have been 2004, because
we got expelled in 2002. But my class was in the curriculum for 2004. They took it out of the curriculum
right in the middle of all the controversy. And that really angered me a great deal, because it took a lot
to get that in. Plus, they didn’t know whether or not we were going to get it annulled and I’d be able to
go again, or anything.
That really soured me on Evergreen in lots of ways, or at least soured me on staying at Evergreen. I
certainly had a great time when I was at Evergreen, but I wasn’t interested in staying anymore. But I
couldn’t leave because I wasn’t 65, and I wasn’t Medicare eligible. So, I waited till I was 65 and became
Medicare eligible, which reduces your healthcare costs for myself and my wife. Then, I left right then.
There was a question of emeritus, which is something I realized that Evergreen wants. I didn’t ask for it,
but I kept getting these messages, first from the faculty, then the Provost. I think I even got something
from the President saying that there’s going to be an emeritus thing for you at some fucking board
meeting or something. I told the faculty or whoever it was I didn’t want it. I think I told the Provost I
didn’t want it. And then I had to write a letter to [Les] Purce, and I said, “I really don’t want it.”

And I never thought that it was something that Evergreen needed to do, but it became clear that the
institution needs it. I don’t need it. I don’t need a free pass for parking. I don’t need a free pass to the
fucking library, or free parking, or whatever you get when you’re emeritus. And I don’t need emeritus
after my name. I’ve always liked my name. Dan Leahy is just fine, and I don’t need emeritus after it to
make myself more than I am. Dan Leahy is fine. I don’t need emeritus after my name. So, that’s pretty
much why.
Zaragoza: In the time that you have retired, these last almost 10 years now, how have you used that
time instead of being emeritus, or whatever it may be?
Leahy: My wife, Bethany, and I have done a lot of traveling. In those last 10 years, we’ve lived overseas
in Europe. We’ve done at least a couple of six-month stretches. We lived in France for four months one
time, and then we traveled to Spain, we went to Morocco. We traveled again, we went to Ireland, to
London. We went to Greece. We volunteered in February 2016 with the refugees on the island of
Zaragoza: How long were you there, and what were you doing?
Leahy: We were there for one month, and we worked with a volunteer group. Lesbos was the island
where, in the spring, summer and fall of 2015, 850,000 people came onto the shores of that island,
primarily the north shore of it, which is four miles from Turkey. They came in rubber boats. All kinds—
families, kids, parents, old, new. Everybody. And that community on the north shore there—Molyvos
and [Scala Scandanios? 00:31:00]—absorbed all that. And then, once it became known, volunteers
came, and made it even more of an international event. It certainly helped, in lots of ways, and we were
some of the people.
We were living in Ireland. I read an article about the dirty girls of Lesbos—because there were a bunch
of Irish women who were in Lesbos, and what they realized was that there was an environmental crisis,
because a lot of the clothes that the refugees—they were wet, and they got rid of them. So they
decided to pick up all those clothes, so they set up a pickup distribution system throughout the island.
They picked up all the clothes, and then they laundered them, and then they redistributed them back to
the camps, along with also the UNHCR blankets, which were everywhere. So they became this
environmental clothing distribution and redistribution system. So, we read about it, and we thought
we’d go help.
We ended up working for a local NGO called Starfish, which was started by a restaurateur in this very
small—it would be like if, in Budd Inlet down here, where the restaurant is, if 850,000 people came into
that area, 2,000 people a day—and most of them were sinking offshore in these fucking rubber boats, or
other little boats that the smugglers stuffed them into—what would you do? That’s what was
happening in Molyvos. And the Greek people, who knew what it was like to come onshore from Turkey,
because they did it, almost a million people in 1923, when there was a population exchange. When
Turkey became a republic, there was an exchange of Christians and Muslims, and all the Christians were
supposed to come. Well, a lot of them came by boats from the Turkish shore, the same place that all
these Syrians, Iraqis and Iranis, Afghans were coming, escaping the bombing from the U.S.
We did port watch, which means you’re on duty to watch for people that might come into port, or into
shore. And if you did, you provided them with water, some basic food. You got them on a bus, and they

either went to a transition camp for a couple of days, or they went about 50 kilometers, to the southern
end of the island where the ferryboats were. They’d stay in an open camp there for a couple of days,
and then they’d get on a ferryboat and go to Piraeus, and then they’d try and go through Greece up to
Macedonia and into Germany.
We worked on that. We sorted clothes, we did sandwiches. We worked in the transition camp, and
then we worked also in the major camp down in Mytilini, at the southern end of the island. People
would come in, they would register, and then we had to get them housing. There were, I think,
something like 60 large kind of tent houses with a simple mat. There were no facilities in them, and no
They would come to our tent, and poke their heads in, and we would try and see who they were, if at all
possible, and put them in with other people. We’d try and put the Syrians together, and the Iraqis
together and the Iranis, the Pakistanis. We’d put all the men in those things. We stuck them in there
20, 30 people. And then, if they were families, they were three facilities farther up the hill that actually
had a kind of a dormitory thing. They had one bathroom in the dormitory. We were in charge of one of
the three. That was mainly for women and children. So, you’d sit there and help people get settled
when they’d come in, and show them what the deal was. We had clothes for them there, so sometimes
they’d come and get new clothes, the clothes we had for them.
But it was pretty good there, even though it was somewhat exhausting, because, of course, nobody
knew Arabic. I knew some Turkish. Some of the people knew Turkish because they had spent a couple
years in Turkey trying to raise money in order to pay the smugglers to come across to Greece, which was
We did that for a month, and then we traveled along the coast. We’d never been to Albania, so we
went through Albania and Montenegro, up the coast through Italy, and then back to Paris, and then
back home. But that trip was about six months, too.
Also, I always wanted to go to Mongolia. I always liked Genghis Khan, ever since I was a kid. So, on one
of these trips, Bethany went to Paris, and I stayed in Turkey, flew to Ulan Bator, and spent three weeks
out on the steppe looking for traces of Genghis Khan and the boys, which was super fun. I wrote this
thing about “Rules for Driving on the Steppe.” That was really great.
In 2010, Bethany wanted to go to Palestine, so we decided to fly into Jordan and go to Syria. We
traveled throughout Syria. We were in Damascus, Aleppo, went to Deir ez-Zor.
Zaragoza: This is before?
Leahy: This was just before. Bashar al-Assad was in power, but everybody was super hopeful. The
border with Turkey was open. There were all kinds of Turkish tourists in Aleppo. Bashar al-Assad had
given up the [Hottai? 00:37:20] Peninsula claim. [Hottai] is where [Al-Takia? 00:37:11] is, and it was
assigned to Turkey after the post-World War I settlement, but Syria always still claimed it. Syria had
given up the claim to [Hottai]. The border was open. There was lots of tourism. Big Turkish
construction outfits were in Syria taking advantage of the cheaper labor, which was non-union, unlike
the Turkish labor.


In lots of ways, it seemed extremely hopeful. The people were saying that Bashar was married to a welleducated woman, and that he’s going to be a lot easier than his old man, Hafez al-Assad, and things
were going to be good. We ran into just extraordinarily wonderful people. It was a country that was 30
years behind Turkey. I took a taxi from Aleppo to Antakya, and when you go into Antakya, the level of
development was so shocking, such a difference; whether it was environmental, hotel, tourism, all that
stuff, Turkey was 30 years ahead of Syria.
Nonetheless, there was a lot of hope there. Bethany went back and went to Israel and Palestine to meet
with people there, and I didn’t want to do that, so I went through Turkey, and then I hung out with the
Kurds. I really like the Kurdish people. I went to [lists several cities, need spellings 00:38:55]. Then I
flew back to Antalya, and then up to Istanbul. I met Bethany, believe it or not, when the [Mahdi
Marmia? 00:39:11]—remember that attack? Bethany actually flew back. I thought she was flying back
with the bodies, on the same plane that was taking the bodies back to Istanbul. Because it took her a
long, long time to get out of—but it wasn’t on the same plane. The press was all there. It was on a
different plane, but they came in at the same time.
We did that in 2010, and then just recently, I went back to Ireland, and then to Thessaloniki in October
of 2016. I volunteered for a month in a refugee camp called [El Pida? 00:39:58], which means hope—
just outside of Thessaloniki. I got an apartment in Thessaloniki. I took a bus every day. It was like a job.
I got up at 8:00, I went to get on the bus at 9:00, I was out there at 9:30, and I reported in to the kitchen.
And there, they had stainless kitchen facilities for 135 people, and the women would come in and cook
the food. Sometimes it was catered food that they cooked, or we cooked. But we shifted to a grocery
thing, where we basically bought foodstuffs. They would come at 11:00. We would have prepared all
the foodstuffs for distribution for distribution per family. That’s everything, eggs to flour to sugar to fish
to whatever, plus canned food that was donated. Everybody would get their portion, and then the
women would come into the kitchen and start cooking. My job was to sit inside the kitchen and make
sure that the little kids didn’t come in. So my job was to scare the little kids, and keep them out of the
kitchen, because I realized that this was actually the only time the women were left alone. So, it was
actually a really important job, and I did that.
Then I slowly started ingratiating myself with the women, because there was 15 stations, and each
station was a place for three families. So the three families rotated one of the 15 stations. All the
utensils were underneath in a large container. But if you’re a woman, and you’re cooking for all these
kids, that frying pan better be there. Sometimes it wasn’t there because the woman would take it to her
apartment, so the next woman would come in and there wouldn’t be any fucking frying pan. The first
couple of days, I realized that there was going to be a frying pan war.
I had raised $4,000 from friends, because the first time we went over, I didn’t ask for any money. When
me and Bethany came back, people said, “How come you didn’t ask for money?” So this time, I sent out
one request; people sent in checks for $4,000. Bethany put it in an account here, and I started buying
stuff for that kitchen. I bought everybody a brand new frying pan. I bought everybody a stainless steel
cooker. They had an extremely cheap two-burner hotplates that one of the burners wouldn’t work, or
they’d blow up, or the core would get burnt. So I bought everybody a 5-euro two-burner hotplate.
That’s how we used the money.
And then, it was a very interesting discussion, because there were two friends of Peter Bohmer’s—one
of them was a friend of Peter Bohmer’s—two guys—and I met with them. They said, “It’s interesting

what you’re doing, because when I was a young person, I was helping all the Afghans get to Italy. And
they were pursuing this dream of Europe. It was really funny, of course, because I didn’t believe in that
dream, but I was helping these people meet their dream, even though it was a dream. Why was I doing
that? So, I want to ask you, why are you doing that? Why are you helping these people pursue their
dream in Europe when it’s not there? Because one of the things you’re doing, Dan, is you’re buying
them all Arabic-English dictionaries”—which I was doing. I was buying everybody an Arabic-English
dictionary. He said, “Why are you doing that?”
I didn’t have an answer. So basically, what I did is I switched, and I started buying everybody ArabicGreek dictionaries. I became the main dictionary buyer in fucking Thessaloniki. Every bookstore knew
me, because I’d go in there and take all their dictionaries. I not only gave one to every household in [El
Pida?], but UNICEF was just starting to put the kids into Greek schools, so these little kids would get a
UNICEF backpack, and in the mornings, they’d get on bus and they’d take them into Greek schools for
the day. There was a Greek group there, so I talked to them and I said, “I’d like to give one to every kid,
and I’d I want to give one to every school.” They said, “Sure.” So we did that.
That was really fun. I stayed there for a month and did that. That was October 2016. I was just back
there again in Lesbos. In fact, I just got back a week ago.
Zaragoza: So you’ve done three different refugee support tours?
Leahy: Yeah. I was there in February 2016, October 2016, and I was just Lesbos in [EL Pida?] these past
two months in 2017. I spent the month of July on Lesbos, and then I spent 10 days in Thessaloniki. It’s
an extremely different situation now, so I didn’t do refugee work during that time.
Zaragoza: What’s the difference?
Leahy: It’s a long story, but the difference is that in March 2016, European Union changed its polices,
and they basically made a deal with Turkey, which they’re enforcing in other countries, which is basically
keep all the refugees in place in exchange for millions of dollars of euros. Do your best to keep them in
transition countries, like Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey, or Libya, and get rid of all the NGOs that are there,
because they basically tell the world what’s going on. So it became more and more difficult to be an
NGO in that context, because NGOs disagreed with a lot of what was going on, which was sending
refugees back to Turkey, which the EU decided was a safe country, and a lot of people don’t think it’s a
safe country. It’s against EU law to send people back to a non-safe country. They designated Turkey as
a safe country. They designated Kabul, Afghanistan as a safe country, and Germany is sending
planeloads of Afghans back to Kabul.
So, not only was there a program shift in March 2016 to keep refugees in the transition countries—
Turkey, which has three million Syrians in it; Lebanon, which has, I think, one-quarter of the population
is refugees; and Jordon—and pay them money to keep them there. And also, they initiated a return
policy, which meant that people really basically can’t get asylum, and they return them to the countries
of origin.
Zaragoza: So it’s a kind of not-in-my-backyard scenario.
Leahy: Not in my backyard, and we’ll pay you to keep them where they are. That meant getting rid of a
lot of the NGOs. A lot of the NGOs disagreed with the Turkey-EU deal. They also disagreed with the

notion of sending the refugees back, or keeping them in detention while they’re waiting to be sent back.
So [Morya? 00:47:45], which was the camp that I was in outside of the southern end of Lesbos, is not a
closed facility, but there are 4,000 people there. They can’t leave the island. They have geographic
detention. The refugees, if they’re on an island, they can’t leave the island. They couldn’t leave the
island after March 2016, so they’re stuck on the island. There’s no deadline when they can get off the
island. And if they don’t make it through the asylum process, they’re put into prison. They’re put into
detention. Then after detention, they try and send them back to Turkey, or to another country, if that
country is willing to take them. So Turkey is building detention camps right now in order to receive
people. What happens to them after that, who knows?
So it’s a very different scene, and [El Pido?] in Thessaloniki, which was really top-of-the-line—if there has
to be a refugee camp, [El Pido] was a top-of-the-line refugee camp—it is closed. They closed it. And all
the people apparently were distributed either to a European country—although I don’t think so—I think
they were put into apartments or hotels spread throughout Thessaloniki.
The Kurdish camp I was in, which was about a three-kilometer or four-kilometer walk from [El Pido]—it
had 1,000 Kurds in it when I was there in October 2016—that thing is pretty much empty. There are 200
young men there. What happened to all those Kurds, I don’t know. I know that they were willing to go
back to their homeland if they could go back by some route other than the sea. But I don’t know where
they went. And, of course, you can’t find that out. I went to [El Pido], and the kitchen was empty now,
and all the apartments were gutted. But they won’t tell you where people went.
So, we’ve traveled a lot. Actually, right after retirement, me and Bethany moved to Portland for three
years. We lived in an apartment. The reason we did that is because every senior would tell me—I’d ask
them what they were going to do after they graduated and they said, “We’re going to go to Portland.”
“Bethany, I think we should go to Portland.” So we rented an apartment in the northwest section of
Portland, and tried to hit every happy hour for three years in a row.
Bethany: Oh, Dan.
Leahy: It was true.
Zaragoza: Senior solidarity.
Leahy: Yeah. We had a great time there. But at the same time, we were involved in this community,
and we spent two years fighting to keep a 711 off the corner of Harrison and Division. We did that
pretty much while we were in Portland. We’d come back periodically for strategic meetings with the
neighborhood. But we had 60 people in this neighborhood that decided to stop that, and we did. As a
result, there’s a park there now. But that was the result of people in this neighborhood getting
together, and fighting a campaign to stop that from going on. Eventually there was a decision at the
Superior Court level to tell the city that they violated their own rules, and that they couldn’t have a 711
Zaragoza: And the one thing in this time that you haven’t talked about yet is the Wisconsin campaign.
Leahy: When was that? Do you remember?
Zaragoza: I thought it was 2012, but I could be off.


Leahy: Yeah. People in Wisconsin, they took over their state capitol. One of the things that was
wonderful about that was they said they wanted to walk like an Egyptian. [chuckles] Because Tahir
Square was going on, and I thought, damn, I want to get in on that action. I started calling all my union
friends, saying, “Get me back there.” But I couldn’t get back until the spring.
I took a job, working as kind of a senior organizer for SEIU, out of Milwaukee. Supposedly, my job was to
help the young organizer.
[Taping interrupted 00:52:11 through 00:52:23.]
Leahy: So I couldn’t get back there until the spring. But one of my friends was kind of high up in the—
what was it called?—Our Wisconsin, or We Are Wisconsin, or something. And she was from Chicago,
and she said, “I can look at your job.” So I went back there.
I knew the head of the SEIU, the guy who was a very interesting man whose name I’m not going to
remember. But I knew him by reputation, and I was really proud to be in his office. And I took a job, I
got paid, and got a place to stay. I stayed initially with the former Peace Corps volunteers from Turkey
that I knew. I called them up and asked if I could stay there. I stayed in their home for about a month,
and then I rented a place.
Basically, I tried to build a community base to the campaign. But, of course, even though all the rhetoric
was about we’re going to build an alliance of community groups that will exist way past the recall, that
really wasn’t the institutional motivation on the part of the main players, which was primarily AFSME.
What had happened was the Democratic Party and the AFSME unions shifted the movement to an
electoral recall campaign, to recall Governor [Scott] Walker.
The thing about recall is you don’t get to recall. It actually should be called replace, because a recall
election is about putting somebody else in office. It’s not about getting rid of the person in office, it’s
about replacing that person with somebody else.
What happened was they were going to replace him with the mayor of Milwaukee. The mayor of
Milwaukee was a terrible candidate, for lots of reasons. So, would the people of Wisconsin had recalled
Scott Walker? I think they would have, but were they going to elect the mayor of Milwaukee? No, they
weren’t. And there were a lot of mistakes made, I think, in the campaign, because they don’t think like
Nonetheless, one of the things that happened in Wisconsin—which is still the case, I think, in the United
States today—is that the organizers to recall Walker met their quota with the number of votes they
thought they needed to recall him. They actually met that. What happened to them was the precincts
and neighborhoods surrounding Milwaukee—which is all white—they voted in an extraordinarily high
percentage rates. They voted 85 percent of registered voters, and they won the vote, based upon that,
to keep Walker.
I spent time in the communities outside of Milwaukee. I formed a group, and we had forums, and had
presentations about what Walker was doing to the progressive infrastructure. Because Wisconsin I s a
progressive state, it’s not a populist state. It’s a state that La Follette and the Progressives created. The
university system was one of their greatest accomplishments, I think.
Zaragoza: Which has since been gutted by Walker.

Leahy: Yeah. And also, they lost, and so I think the AFSME itself, I think, doesn’t have—somebody told
me once, I don’t know any more—but they can’t have dues checkoff. It’s also the case with the
Teachers Union. And I think there’s also other restrictions, like I think you have to get re-sanctioned
each year or something to keep the union. It was Draconian measures.
So they were able, I think successfully, to weaken the union structures there, plus the public
infrastructure, plus universities and the rest. And it was clear that that’s what they were doing, but they
accomplished it.
One of the things that was happening then was Obama never showed his face in Wisconsin during all
that fight. Nothing. People of Wisconsin were left by themselves. So, they lost that campaign. And the
social movement that initiated it got redirected in the electoral arena to basically support Democrats,
and that killed it right there, I think.
I went back for the vote itself on my own. I rented a car, and I pretty much drove people to the polls in
the all-black neighborhoods of Milwaukee. Milwaukee is one of the most segregated cities in the United
States. I mean, downtown, for 60 blocks, going northwest, I guess, it’s all poor, African American.
Zaragoza: We’ve talked about a lot of things. I just want to give you a chance to see if there’s anything
else that you’d like to touch on, cover, a story you’d like to tell.
Leahy: [Sighs] I don’t think so. One of the great things about Evergreen I want to say is even when you
get disappointed sometimes, the students were the ones that were always extraordinary. I really found
the students at Evergreen to be people who are really prepared to experiment and learn, and do it in a
responsible, respectful way—with each other and with the faculty. And especially with my stuff, with
the communities that we got involved with, I thought they were really great.
And all the expulsadas, the people that got expelled from Mexico, I’m in touch with all of them. I’ve
been to most of their weddings. I know where their kids are.
I’ll tell you a great story, and then I’ll stop. [chuckles] When we were in Mexico, when we were
marching into the Zócalo, the Atenco farmers spotted the beautiful blonde, and her name was [Shawn
Keety Nelson? 00:59:56]. She was from Bellingham. And she was also a physically fit person. They put
her in the front lines, and she was the one that pointed the machete at the National Palace of Mexico,
along with the other Atenco farmers, and her picture became the hit of the day in a lot of the media.
A couple years ago, I got a mailing from her saying, “Dan, this is the first time in 15 years that I’m on the
front page of the paper,” and she was at a folk festival playing her banjo.
But I tracked her, of course, like I kept track of everybody else. She was a wilderness expert. She got
her Ph.D. in environmental sciences. Then the next thing I heard was that she had gotten a job as a
faculty member at a university.
Zaragoza: Do you know where?
Leahy: She got a job as the full-time faculty member in the MES program at the Evergreen State College.
[laughter] Which I think is great. And she’s going to be a great faculty member. I think maybe that’s
one of my best student stories. That’s a good one.
Zaragoza: Well, I’m sure somebody she will be interviewed for this project.

Leahy: Oh, yes, maybe. [chuckles]
Zaragoza: She’ll tell stories about you.
Leahy: Yeah, right. I don’t know about that. Anyhow, she’ll be a great faculty member at Evergreen.
Zaragoza: Thank you very much.
Leahy: You’re very welcome.