Elected mayor is a step toward more-real democracy

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http://heightsobserver.org/read/2019/10/02/elected-mayor-is-a-step-toward-morereal-democracy
by Greg Coleridge

People the world over are increasingly demanding a greater voice in the decisions directly affecting their lives, communities, nations and natural world.

Many/most government, corporate, media, educational and religious “leaders” are increasingly publicly perceived as unaccountable, not transparent, captured by special interests, corrupt and disconnected from the problems affecting people in their everyday lives. Rather than exploring real alternatives to our fundamental problems, our “leaders” seem visionless.

Our own nation’s history is filled with profound movements to give greater voice to citizens over elites. These include a colonial revolution against a self-anointed king; popular resistance to a new Constitution until the Bill of Rights was added; and social movements to provide voting rights to freed slaves, women, indentured servants and indigenous people, as well as to directly elect senators (formerly appointed by legislatures). Those who strive to end voter suppression, gerrymandering, big money in elections, and corporate personhood represent this movement today for real democracy. So do those advocating for ranked choice voting, direct election of the U.S. President and, specifically at the local level, direct participatory governance.

It is this spirit for a greater public voice that drives the effort in Cleveland Heights to popularly elect a mayor.

Let’s be clear: there is no single solution to the challenges Cleveland Heights faces, some of which are rooted beyond our community and beyond our ability to directly influence. All we can do is maximize opportunities for both residents and elected representatives to be mutually heard and accountable.

There is also no single form of government that should be seen as forever, or blindly believed to be adequate. Times change. Conditions change.

Choosing a mayor and appointing a city manager should no longer be “in house” decisions—actions beyond the reach of voters. Let Cleveland Heights voters decide.

Having city council selecting who will be city manager and who will be mayor isn’t remotely the same as citizens directly electing who will represent us and our interests in running the city. Accountability and responsibility under the current system is too dispersed. It’s too easy to pass the buck. We need a full-time mayor (with professional staff) who is directly accountable to voters.

There are those with concerns that a reformed system will invite outside influence from special interests who could flood the local mayoral campaign with political contributions. This implies that special interests currently have no influence on public policy-making, which is not true, though it may be more hidden. It also ignores the reality that politically astute Cleveland Heights voters will see through and reject blatant attempts by special interests to manipulate our elections.

Direct voter election of a mayor is consistent with the current trend to provide residents and citizens a greater authentic voice—which is essential to improve civil skills and competence, to increase a sense of community, and to make people feel more personally responsible for public decisions.

There will be many possibilities to tap our collective skills as we face a future of uncharted political, economic, social and ecological challenges. An urgent first step, however, is to transform the “in-house” selection of the mayor to a public election. Cleveland Heights is our collective “house.” All who dwell here should have the right to decide who will represent us.

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Greg Coleridge is national outreach director of Move to Amend Coalition, and a Cleveland Heights resident.

How Wealth RULES the World

HowWealth

This is worth the read!

Price’s invaluable work makes clear that not all forms of property are the same: some require fundamental legal protections, others are legally protected only because those of immense wealth and power make us think they should be. If we have any hope of creating authentic democracy (not recreating because we’ve never had at any time) in this country and beyond and protecting the ecosystem from corporate plunder, we must quickly move to the other side of the learning curve about property and how “property rights” have come to trump human and community rights and the rights of human beings to our livable habitat.

“How Wealth Rules the World” is both historical and contemporary; descriptive and prescriptive. It describes how the privileged transformed the best affirmations of the Declaration of Independence into a self-serving Constitution. The Contracts and Commerce Clauses have gutted the ability of local self rule. Numerous Constitutional Amendments that were intended to apply solely to human beings have been expanded to include the the rights of property to ensure that property owners forever expand their power and profit as they plunder abroad and increasingly in our communities.
Local laws promoting justice, sustainability and democracy are legally increasingly preempted by the state, state laws by the federal government and increasingly federal laws by mis-named international “trade” deals that are more about corporate rule than free or fair trade.

The prescription, as presented, is people organizing collectively to protect the most basic place that they readily identify — their community. The growing “community rights” movement that seeks to legalize democracy where they live is an extremely important strategy to not only resist the property right onslaught, but maybe more importantly lift up as a tangible alternative to the centralization and privatization of decision-making that is more real, inclusive and ultimately sustainable.

While no one movement is by itself the solution to the multitude of systemic crises we face, it’s one of the more important ones. Reading the book will help one much more understand how we got into our legal and constitutional fix, and a route out of it.

WE THE PEOPLE VS. CORPORATE RULE: IT’S UP TO US!

Greg ColeridgeRights & Democracy (RAD) and the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) host a community forum with guest speaker Greg Coleridge, Outreach Director of the Move to Amend campaign.

https://wordpress.com/post/createrealdemocracy.wordpress.com/5265

Constitution In A Box

ConstitutionBox

Testimony of Greg Coleridge
Democracy Day Public Hearing, January 17, 2019, Cleveland Heights City Hall

Think of the U.S. Constitution as a box. It symbolizes our democratic space, rights and responsibilities, and limits. It’s a space that allows our public officials and citizens to determine the kind of society – politically, economically, environmentally, socially – that we want. Its size has expanded with each of the 27 Constitutional Amendments, as were passed following democratic people’s movements. The box has also enlarged due to various interpretations of the Constitution by the Supreme Court.

But other Supreme Court interpretations have vastly decreased that democratic space – the box that we call our democracy. Many of those interpretations involved activist Supreme Court decisions that granted corporations with never-intended unalienable constitutional rights – rights that trumped people’s rights. Following each decision by the court, our democratic space contracted – the box became smaller.

Examples:

1819 – Corporate perversion of the Contract Clause
Dartmouth College v. Woodward. A corporate charter is ruled to be a contract and can’t be altered by government. States had less flexibility to use corporate charters as tools to define corporate actions.

1875 – Corporate perversion of the Commerce Clause
Welton v. State of Missouri, 91 U.S. 275. The Supreme Court begins a century long effort to frame every corporations action as a form of “interstate commerce” – which overrules the police power of cities and states to uphold their duty to protect the health, safety and welfare of their communities.

1886 – Corporate perversion of the 14th Amendment
Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad
Corporations are in effect granted equal protection rights under the 14th Amendment.

Louis K. Liggett Co. v. Lee (288 U.S. 517, 1933)
Florida voter passed a law that levied higher taxes on chain stores than on locally owned stores. The Supreme Court overturned the law citing the due process and equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment and the Interstate Commerce clause.

1906 – Corporate perversion of the 4th Amendment
Hale v. Henkel – Corporations get 4th Amendment “search and seizure” protection. The public no longer has the ability to publicly inspect corporate books and records to ensure accountability.

A 1978 decision prohibited OSHA inspectors from doing surprise inspections.

1922 – Corporate perversion of the 5th Amendment
Pennsylvania Coal Co. v. Mahon A regulation is deemed a taking. A corporation subject to certain regulations has to be compensated for lost future profits.

1974 – Corporate perversion of the 1st Amendment –
Miami Herald Publishing Co. v. Tornillo, 418 U.S. 241 – Corporations granted the right NOT to speak

They don’t have to reveal information, even if that information is important for public safety (i.e. toxins in food).

1980 – Corporate perversion of the 1st Amendment – Commercial speech
Central Hudson Gas & Electric Corp., v. Public Utilities Comm’n, 447 U.S. 557
Corporate “commercial speech” rights (to increase profits_ preempted the state’s right to protect the welfare of its residents.

1976 – Money equals free speech
Buckley v Valeo. Political money in elections is a form of constitutionally protected First Amendment “free speech.”

1978 – Corporate perversion of the 1st Amendment – political free speech
First National Bank of Boston v. Bellotti, 435 U.S. 765. U.S. constitutional law case defines the free speech right of corporations for the first time – the right to spend on issue campaigns.

2010 – Citizens United vs FEC
The ability to influence elections via money from wealthy individuals and corporations is expanded.

Our democratic “box” or space isn’t very large. So many people believe that what’s needed is simply to reverse Citizens United, end corporate political free speech and/or end “money is speech.” As you can see, however, our democratic space or box wasn’t nearly as large as it once was and needs to be before these Supreme Court rulings were made. It’s not enough to get big money out of elections before reversing the fact that our ability to self-rule has been inhibited by numerous court decisions.

That’s why Move to Amend calls for not only ending the constitutional doctrine that “political money is equivalent to 1st Amendment-protected “free speech,” but also calls for ending ALL forms of never -intended and at one time never-existing constitutional rights. Only a 28th Amendment that does both will enable government by We the People.

Move to Amend interviews

Conducted in Des Moines, Iowa on December 6.

7 minutes

 

18 minutes

What are Kavanaugh’s views on the rights of corporations?

AkronBeaconJournal-Masthead

Letter to the editor: September 8, Akron Beacon Journal
https://www.ohio.com/akron/editorial/voice-of-the-people/letters-to-the-editor-sept-8-what-are-kavanaughs-views-on-the-rights-of-corporations-children-in-the-shadow-of-polluting-plants

U.S. Sen. Rob Portman has said that Supreme Court justice nominee Brett Kavanaugh “interprets the law and the Constitution based on their words and original meaning and doesn’t try to influence public policy by imposing his own point of view.” This falls in line with Kavanaugh’s self-assessment that he’s simply an umpire who follows the letter of the law and Constitution.

If actually true, that’s terrific news for the increasing number of people in our country who’ve been victimized by corporations that have been shielded by never-intended constitutional rights — what some call “corporate personhood.”

The Constitution doesn’t mention corporations. That hasn’t prevented activist Supreme Courts for more than a century from overturning hundreds of local, state and federal laws protecting workers, consumers, residents and communities, as well as the environment, based on the illegitimate premise that corporations should have inalienable constitutional rights that were intended solely for human beings.

No public official ever voted to create or expand constitutional corporate personhood. No social movement ever organized for more corporate constitutional rights vested with the authority to preempt democratically enacted laws. It has only been unaccountable and extremist judges who’ve expanded corporate rights, leading to reduced human rights.

Since more corporate-related cases will come before the high court in the future, knowing nominees’ views on corporate personhood is legitimate.

As the original Constitution affirms no rights to corporations, “umpire” Kavanaugh should be crystal clear that he believes that the Bill of Rights, 14th Amendment and other constitutional protections should apply only to human beings. If he cannot, he should be opposed.

Greg Coleridge
Outreach director, Move to Amend Coalition
Cleveland Heights