ACLU to discuss their defense of Citizens United this Saturday in Columbus

The ACLU supported the Citizens United vs Federal Elections Commission (FEC) decision handed down by the US Supreme Court in January. Their support took the form of the filing of an Amicus Brief, which is a document submitted by a person or group with strong views or interest in the case but not a direct party to it.

The Ohio ACLU holds its statewide membership conference this weekend in Columbus
http://www.acluohio.org/Conference2010

Among the workshops will be this one on Saturday afternoon from 3:30-4:30 PM

Pay to Play: Repercussions of Citizens United

The U.S. Supreme Court decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission has many people dismayed, believing the ruling allows corporations to contribute to political campaigns. Join a lively discussion about the outcome of the decision and why the ACLU supported Citizens United.
Speakers include Scott Greenwood and Daniel Tokaji.

If anyone is planning to attend the conference (or lives near Columbus and could attend), please consider attending the workshop.

The ACLU needs to understand Citizens United wasn’t about free speech but rather about corporate personhood. The unelected, appointed-for-lifers of the Supreme Court falsely framed the case between limiting speech to have fair and free elections vs. approving corporate-dominated political influence to preserve free speech. This false frame evaporates if corporate personhood — the notion that corporations have constitutional “rights” — is renounced. As corporate anthropologist Jane Anne Morris has said, “Only if we pretend that corporations are ‘persons’ under the Constitution, is limiting corporate ‘speech’ a constitutional infringement.”

If you can’t attend the conference but are a member of the Ohio (and/or national) ACLU, contact them and express your concerns.

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Letter to Senator Sherrod Brown on BP and IEL

26. July. 2010

Sherrod Brown
United States Senate
Washington, DC

Re: Uniontown IEL Superfund Site

Dear Senator Brown,

Thank you for your leadership in speaking out and calling for the British Petroleum Corporation to be held responsible and liable for their role in the horrific ecological and economic disaster in the Gulf of Mexico.

There is yet another disaster connected to the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig – a political disaster. The British Petroleum Corporation acquired the authority in the past up to the present time to define the terms of drilling, oversight of the well, capping of the exploded well, and cleanup of the well.

This political disaster of the British Petroleum Corporation being in charge of these functions is due to political campaign investments (misnamed “contributions”), political lobbying, and influence over regulatory agencies (ie, Mineral Management Services, MMS, a part of the US Department of the Interior). The root of the problem is acquired constitutional rights that the BP Corporation and other business corporations have acquired over time.

These constitutionally granted rights have usurped the power of citizens to control their communities, nation, and natural world. The fundamental problem is not corporate power as it is corporate rule.

Your public statements to the media and your constituents concerning accountability of the British Petroleum Corporation is laudable. I hope they intensify to include issues of corporate rule or governance.

A somewhat similar environmental and political disaster exists closer to home in connection to the Industrial Excess Landfill (IEL) in Uniontown, Ohio. The corporate polluters here have also been put in charge of the so-called “cleanup.” The regulatory agency here, the EPA, has been compliant to the wishes of the corporate polluters. A real cleanup of IEL has not take place. Those responsible and accountability for the damages, cost and liability have not been brought to justice.

In the case of the Uniontown IEL, each of the three major cleanup components – the groundwater pump & treat system (that was to operate “in perpetuity”), the multi-layered cap to prevent rainfall infiltration of the waste, the expansion of the gas interception control system – have been replaced in favor of continued flushing the site into the area’s drinking water system.

Formal public hearings, legal comment periods and EPA written responsiveness summaries were conducted by US EPA per Superfund law prior to the first two components being legally removed from the EPA’s amended Record of Decision (ROD). Local citizens opposed both changes to the ROD. Citizens had no input, no due process, however, prior to the ending of the gas control system. This change occurred reportedly at the behest of a corporate polluter.

Shocked and dismayed by this apparent illegality by US EPA, Concerned Citizens of Lake Township (CCLT) turned to your office last year on this issue as well as the serious questions pertaining to radiation /Plutonium issues at IEL. CCLT asked your office to contact investigators and scientists who have provided critical information to the citizens group.

I was therefore very concerned to recently learn that your office had informed CCLT that EPA will not answer the Senator’s questions on these basic points regarding when such a hearing/comment period/summary might have taken place on the gas issue, perhaps unbeknownst to the citizens’ group.

Experts have cited at least 150 tons of toxic gases generated yearly at IEL. The Agency on Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR – an agency of the Center for Disease Control) expressed health concerns in a 1989 report connected to offsite migration of soil gases at IEL. The report stated: “Significant concentrations of soil-gas may be migrating offsite continually or periodically, but not detected by the present monitoring system…” and “An improved MVS system could intercept all significant quantities of migrating soil-gas.”

I appreciate your staff taking the time to continue pursuing the answers to these questions and others, which affected citizens, certainly deserve. Uniontown’s citizens have long since expressed many of the same concerns now being heard around the country regarding the BP Corporation and compliant regulatory agencies. Perhaps those concerns held are now better understood.

Please continue to raise concerns about the lack of accountability of the BP Corporation and the need for more assertive oversight. The same is called for in our own back yard at the Uniontown IEL and its corporate polluters.

I hope you’ll agree the rights and heath of citizens are the most important priorities.

Respectfully,

Greg Coleridge
Director
Northeast Ohio American Friends Service Committee

Opening Remarks at United National Action Conference

Saturday, July 23, 2010

Greetings! Good Morning!

My name is Greg Coleridge with the Northeast Ohio American Friends Service Committee and Northeast Ohio Antiwar Coalition

On behalf of the 31 cosponsoring organizations that comprise the United National Antiwar Conference, I welcome you to this historic national conference to bring the troops home now!

Our deepest thanks go out to the Albany area antiwar, peace and justice community who are our hosts, facilitated by Joe Lombardo.

There are roughly 600 of you in this space and thousands more who are watching the live stream of these proceedings from coast to coast and border to border…and beyond.

Those of us who are physically gathered here in Albany have a unique and privileged opportunity over the next 36 hours
– To actively listen to and learn from each other,
– To grapple together on some difficult issues, and
– Hopefully by early Sunday, to have democratically and inclusively agreed on an action plan addressing issues, approaches and strategies that can be taken back to national, regional and local organizations for their feedback and endorsement to end all US wars and occupations NOW!

This is the third national antiwar conference over the last 3 summers (Pittsburgh last year, Cleveland in 2008). There are a few common threads. Each has been larger in attendance than the preceding one. Each has built on the institutional successes and lessons learned from the last one. Each has served to establish and deepen relationships among activists from broad sectors of the peace and justice community. And each has taken place at a time of rapidly deteriorating political, economic, military and social conditions across the Middle East and rising and creating grassroots protests and resistance in the US and the world to the wars, occupations, attacks and planned assults in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Palestine, Iran and beyond.

This last point is significant. Many of you here and no doubt many more watching on their computers have been in the forefront of the varied protests and resistance against the unsustainable US policies toward the Middle East.

Policies of: More troops. More deaths. More money. More debt. More bombs. More injuries. More corruption. More occupations. More drones. More bases. More privatization. More advisors. More dehumanization. More blockades. More environmental destruction. More excuses. More myths. More delusions. More lies. Endless more. When is endless more sustainable?

In response, this past year people here and people watching have organized
– Rallies and marches to immediately end the Iraq occupation in all its forms
– Protests and sit-ins to end funding for the war and occupation in Afghanistan
– Boycotts and blockades of Israeli manufactured goods
– Calls to prevent attacks on Iran
– Flotillas to break the seize of Gaza
– Resolutions declaring that true security comes from spending money on jobs and education, not wars and occupations
– Campaigns to amend the US Constitution to abolish corporate personhood and the legal doctrine that money equals speech.
– And diverse forms of protests and resistance from diverse people who wear everything from military uniforms to keffiyahs to buttoned downed business suits to button plastered hats to marching shoes to anything colored pink.

It is you in this room, hearing this message and others who are not yet activists who are increasingly realizing the madness of it all. The tide is turning. Through actions and campaigns like those just mentioned, these unsustainable wars and occupations will end. They will end. And it will be because of what you have already accomplished added to what strategies and actions that will emerge from this conference

So welcome. Let us begin. Let us engage. Let us grapple. Let us do it with love and respect. But let us not forget our responsibility. To those abroad. To those here at home. To those not yet born who will have to inherit more violence, destruction and waste if we fail to force the politicians and militarists to do what they have not done on their own.

Let us unite. Nationally. As antiwar, peace and justice forces. In this conference. To end the wars and occupations in the Middle East NOW!

Buy Local Week – Voluntary vs Mandatory

July 1-7 was “Buy Local Week” in many communities in Ohio and across the nation.
Buying local promotes not only economic self-sufficiency but political self-determination.

Voluntary purchasing of local products or from local merchants unfortunately cannot be coupled with mandatory purchases by municipalities or states of local products or from local merchants. Preferential treatment against big box stores or transnational corporations violates the 14th amendment to the constitution the moment corporations gained corporate constitutional “rights” in the 19th century.

Such assaults against economic self-sufficiency and political self-determination will continue forever until corporate “personhood” is eliminated. The Supreme Court over the last century granted corporations 1st, 4th, 5th and other constitutional amendment protections. The recent Citizens United vs FEC decision permitting corporations first amendment “rights” to invest money from corporate treasuries for political expenditures is merely the latest attack on what’s left of our democracy.

Move to Amend (movetoamend.org) seeks to change the US Constitution to abolish corporate personhood. Corporations are not people. As a member of its national Steering Committee, I invite anyone interested in supporting this cause to join over 85,000 Americans who have signed up to join the effort.

Declaration of Independence from Corporate Rule

Ohio Speaking Tour of David Cobb
(Executive Committee Member, Move to Amend; Program on Corporations Law & Democracy (POCLAD) principal; Green Party Presidential Candidate, 2004)
Cobb will discuss the growing national movement to amend the constitution to abolish corporate personhood and create real democracy

Dates: June 28 – July 3
Monday, June 28 / Youngstown
Tuesday, June 29 / Columbus
Wednesday, June 30 / Athens
Thursday, July 1 / Wooster
Friday, July 2 / Cleveland
Saturday, July 3 / Akron

——-

Monday, June 28: Youngstown
7:00 PM, Talk, Lemon Grove Café, 122 W. Federal St.
Contact: Jacob Harver, 330-301-0282, jacob@lemongrovecafe.com

Tuesday, June 29: Columbus
7:00 PM, Talk, First Unitarian Universalist Church of Columbus, 93 W. Weisheimer Rd
Lodging in Columbus
Contacts: Doug Todd, dougsftc@yahoo.com; Karen Hansen, klh.ohio@gmail.com; Michael Greenman, 614-898-5825, mgreenman@wowway.com

Wednesday, June 30: Athens
7:00 PM, Talk, Christ-the-King Church, 75 Stewart St.
Contacts: John Howell, 740-592-5789, howell@frognet.net; Dick Hogan, 740-664-4028, greenfirecenter@gmail.com

Thursday, July 1: Wooster
7:00 PM, Talk, Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, 3186 Burbank Rd.
Contact: Dave Sears, 330-262-WNET (9638), RenDave@raex.com

Friday July 2: Cleveland
7:00 PM, Talk, Unitarian Universalist Society, 2728 Lancashire Rd., Cleveland Heights
Contacts: Lois Romanoff, 216-231-2170, loisromanoff@gmail.com; Greg Coleridge, 330-928-2301 gcoleridge@afsc.org

Saturday July 3: Akron
10:00 AM, Talk, Maple Valley Branch Public Library, 1187 Copley Rd., Akron
Contact: Mary Nichols-Rhodes, 330-957-6167, pdaohio@gmail.com; Greg Coleridge, 330-928-2301, gcoleridge@afsc.org