Munroe Falls Protecting Democracy

Unpublished letter to the Akron Beacon Journal 
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To the Editor,

The Munroe Falls challenge before the Ohio Supreme Court on the control of gas and oil drilling is on one level about fracking. On a larger level it’s about democracy. Do local elected officials have the fundamental right to decide what takes place in their communities that directly impacts the health, safety and welfare of their residents or not?

The Beck Energy corporations of this nation have been escaping democratically enacted laws like Munroe Falls zoning statutes for more than a century. Their playbook has consisted of three strategies to shift decision-making from:

1.The legislative to the judicial arena. Judges are fewer in number and further removed from the public than legislators — thus easier as a group to politically influence. At the federal level it’s even better as judges are appointed.

2.The legislative level to regulatory agencies, which are often staffed by people who used to work for those they now regulate. Moreover, regulatory agencies are a buffer between corporations and the public. Unfavorable decisions can also be appealed to courts.

3.One level of government to another: local to state, state to nation, national to international. The higher the level the shift, the further removed from public influence and the greater influence of corporations. The 2004 Ohio law giving “sole and exclusive” authority to regulate drilling to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources was a double gift to energy corporations (shift to a regulatory agency AND to a high level).

These and other corporate powers will continue to be exerted to our political and economic detriment until we organize not simply to oppose this or that single corporate harm, but also in support of the Move to Amend Constitutional Amendment declaring that only human beings, not corporations, possess inalienable constitutional rights and that money is not free speech.

Greg Coleridge
Director
Northeast Ohio American Friends Service Committee
Address: 2101 Front St., #111, Cuyahoga Falls, OH 44221
Phone: 330-928-2301
Fax: 330-928-2628
Email: gcoleridge@afsc.org

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