Cleveland citizens decry impact of Citizens United case at first Democracy Day hearing

DemocracyDay

Hearing prompts calls to curb corporate campaign influence

By Robert Higgs, cleveland.com

http://www.cleveland.com/metro/index.ssf/2017/05/cleveland_citizens_decry_impac.html#incart_river_home

Cleveland initiative opposing Citizens United should have gone to city voters: Lois Romanoff and Chris Stocking (Opinion)

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Great piece posted on cleveland.com…

I offered many reflections in the comments section at the end.

http://www.cleveland.com/opinion/index.ssf/2017/03/cleveland_democracy_day_is_wel.html#incart_river_home

Portman could pass on DeVos

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There is a major effort to pressure U.S. Senator Rob Portman from Ohio to vote against the confirmation of Betsy DeVos for Education Secretary. The reasons are many.

One includes DeVos having “contributed” (more like invested) in Portman’s political campaign. Supposedly the vote is 50-50.

Portman, however, doesn’t have to vote NO for DeVos for her to be forced to return to oversee her failing for-profit charter schools in Michigan. Portman could sit on his hands and not vote at all.

The result would be identical.

Here’s a chance for Rob to show he’s above even the appearance of a conflict of interest. It would be a sign of integrity to recuse himself for being anywhere near the Senate floor when the vote comes up. He wouldn’t have to officially side with the Democrats — just go his own independent way by taking a pass.

Addicted politicians to political investments oppose importing cheaper Canadian drugs

 

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A simple amendment to a bill in the U.S. Senate was introduced Wednesday night urging the government to permit U.S. residents to purchase pharmaceutical drugs from Canada. The practice is currently illegal.

Canadian drugs are much cheaper than those purchased in the US, not because of their inferior quality, but simply due to government price controls. The United States is the only industrialized country that does not use price controls for pharmaceuticals.

The amendment introduced by Senator Bernie Sanders failed 52-46. That’s not surprising in one sense given the political views of Sanders compared to the majority of the Senate. However, what was surprising was who voted for and against the amendment. Thirteen Republicans and a majority of Democrats supported the Sanders amendment, while 13 Democrats and a majority of Republicans opposed it.

A 2015 poll found that 72 percent of Americans support Canadian drug importation. President-elect Donald Trump also campaigned on a promise to allow for importation.

Those opposing the amendment claimed safety issues. This is a smokescreen.  Do we really believe Canadian drug standards are fundamentally different that here? Besides most Canadian drugs are originally manufactured in the United States.

No. A big reason for the vote was money – not the high drug prices, but the Senators drugged and addicted to political campaign donations…or investments from big Pharma – that is pharmaceutical corporations.

Leading the way among the 13 Democrats who opposed the Sanders amendment was New Jersey Senator Cory Booker, perceived as an early front-runner for the 2020 Democratic Presidential nomination. Over the last 6 years, he received $267,338 from Big Pharma. Many pharmaceutical and biotech firms reside in New Jersey. Other Democrats who opposed this reasonable measure were Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) who received $254,649; Robert Casey (D-PA) who received $250,730; and Michael Bennet (D-CO) who received $222,000.

By the way, Booker is also a Wall Street favorite. Securities and investment firms donated/invested $1.88 million to Booker during the 2014 midterm elections – ahead of all other 99 senators. Second was Mitch McConnell.

This behavior doesn’t do much for the reality, or even the perception, that politicians – Democrats and Republicans — are listening to average people. Another example of the disconnect between what people want and, in this case, the policies we don’t have. Another example of the hijacking of what’s left of our democracy through the addiction of corporate campaign cash. Another example why we need to abolish corporate personhood and money as speech through the Move to Amend We the People Amendment. And another example of why we can’t leave it to those we elect to represent us.

We must take charge – educate others, organize, mobilize and pressure politicians to do what’s just.

Giving limits for city candidates would more than triple since 2010 with new proposal

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By Doug Livingston / Beacon Journal staff writer
December 19, 2016
http://www.ohio.com/news/local/giving-limits-for-city-candidates-would-more-than-triple-since-2010-with-new-proposal-1.734533

The reporter didn’t quite get it right regarding what I said needs to happen — not just public financing, but ultimately a constitutional amendment to abolish corporate personhood and money as speech.

Cleveland City Council passes ordinance on corporate power and money in elections

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NEWS RELEASE

Contacts: Lois Romanoff, 216-231-2170, loisromanoff@gmail.com
Chris Stocking, 440-376-8400, Christopher.Stocking@gmail.com
Diane Karpinski, 216-921-2474, ms.diane.karpinski@gmail.com
Greg Coleridge, 216-255-2184, gcoleridge@afsc.org

For immediate release, December 8, 2016

Cleveland City Council passes ordinance calling for U.S. Constitutional Amendment on corporate power and money in elections; creates biennial Democracy Day

[Cleveland, OH]  Cleveland City Council Monday night passed an ordinance calling on Congress to enact a Constitutional Amendment ending constitutional rights for corporate entities and to money being defined as free speech. The ordinance also establishes an every-other-year “Democracy Day” public hearing that will address the impact on the City of political contributions by corporations, unions, Political Action Committees, and Super-PACS; the first to be held in May, 2017

The Cleveland Move to Amend (MTA) campaign, part of the national Move to Amend movement that is proposing the Constitutional Amendment, had submitted last summer more than 5000 valid signatures by volunteers required by the City Charter to place the initiative on the ballot.

“We thank Cleveland City Council for taking a position on this important national issue,” said Lois Romanoff, co-chair of Cleveland Move to Amend. “We feel local public officials need to oppose the growing corrupting influence power corporate entities in our society and big money in our elections. It’s clear from the recent election that voters believe government has been captured by interests who don’t represent people without money or power.”

“We urged City Council to place the citizen initiative on the ballot for voter consideration rather than simply enact the initiative, said Chris Stocking, co-chair of Cleveland Move to Amend. “We feel these issues are important enough to have not only Cleveland public officials take a position, but Cleveland citizens. A ballot measure would have given us the opportunity to broadly discuss with the community the many problems connected with corporate power and large campaign contributions from the super wealthy.”

“While we had hoped Cleveland City Council would have permitted our initiative to go to the ballot, we look forward to working with them to hold the first biennial Democracy Day public hearing next May,” said Diane Karpinski, member of Cleveland MTA. The hearing will be an ongoing arena to shed light on the problems of and alternatives to corporate constitutional rights and the rights of unlimited money being spent in elections.”

“Hundreds of communities across the nation have already enacted municipal resolutions and/or ballot measures in support of this Constitutional Amendment,” said Greg Coleridge, Move to Amend Ohio coordinator and Director of the NE Ohio American Friends Service Committee. “Twenty two communities in Ohio have, to date, taken a stand — 12 via municipal resolution and 10 by the ballot, including this past November with 82% of Shaker Heights voters and 77% of South Euclid voters.”

Citizens in Brecksville, Chagrin Falls, Cleveland Heights, Defiance, Kent, Mentor, Newburgh Heights, and Toledo previously passed a similar ballot initiative while the communities of Athens, Barberton, Bedford Heights, Canton, Dayton, Fremont, Lakewood, Lorain, Oakwood Village, Oberlin, Oxford, and South Euclid passed city council resolutions supporting the Move to Amend-backed Constitutional Amendment.

Move to Amend support the We the People Amendment, HJR 48. It’s co-sponsored by 22 U.S. Representatives.

# 30 #

‘We the Corporations’ or ‘We the People?’

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http://www.heightsobserver.org/read/2016/09/30/we-the-corporations-or-we-the-people

On Sept. 14, State Representatives Kent Smith (District 8) and Nickie Antonio (District 13) announced their primary co-sponsorship in the Ohio House of Representatives of a resolution calling on “legislators at the state and federal level and other communities and jurisdictions to support an amendment to the United States Constitution that would abolish corporate personhood and the doctrine of money as speech.”

Also present at the Sept. 14 press announcement, held in South Euclid, were 30 Move to Amend supporters, and State Senator Michael Skindell (District 23) who introduced an identical resolution, SR 187, in the Ohio Senate in 2015. State Rep. Janine Boyd (District 9), who represents Cleveland Heights, University Heights and Shaker Heights, is one of 11 co-sponsors of the House resolution, which has not yet been assigned a number. The text of SR 187 is here: http://bit.ly/2d3ywoj.

Why this resolution, and why now?

Many Americans became aware that corporations claim the constitutional rights of actual persons—and that huge amounts of money, often from secret sources, rules our politics—only when the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United decision made it glaringly obvious. Since then, various constitutional amendments have been proposed to overturn Citizens United, but this is not enough.

Cleveland Heights resident Greg Coleridge of Ohio Move to Amend explained, “Simply reversing Citizens United, or even overturning the 1976 Supreme Court decision that first equated money with free speech rights, leaves in place other tools corporations have corrupted to assert their rights over those of actual people—namely the 4th, 5th and 14th Amendments and the Commerce Clause. Only by denying corporations legal personhood can We the People (re)gain the authentic right to decide what takes place in our communities, nation and world.”

Move to Amend’s “We the People” Amendment is the only proposed amendment that would end both constitutional rights for corporate entities (including unions) and the definition of money as “free speech.” It is gaining traction in local, state and national jurisdictions:

  • House Joint Resolution 48, introduced in the 114th U.S. Congress by Richard Nolan (Minn.), has attracted 22 co-sponsors from 15 states, including Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur (Ohio District 9), who signed on after her constituents passed local resolutions and ballot initiatives. (https://www.congress.gov/bill/114th-congress/house-joint-resolution/48.)
  • Initiatives fundamentally identical to that passed in Cleveland Heights have been approved by voters in eight Ohio municipalities, including a 64 percent “yes” vote in Toledo in March 2016.
  • Registered voters have put initiatives on the November ballot in Shaker Heights (Issue 95), South Euclid (Issue 102) and Newark, Ohio.
  • A ballot initiative campaign is starting up in University Heights. (E-mail heightsdemocracy@gmail.com for information.)
  • Municipal councils in 12 Ohio communities have passed resolutions supporting the “We the People” Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
  • The Ohio Move to Amend network of grassroots activists is growing, with affiliates and partner groups in Athens, Brecksville, Chagrin Falls, Cleveland, Cleveland Heights, Columbus, Dayton, Fremont, Kent, Mentor, Oxford, Shaker Heights, South Euclid and Toledo.

SR 187 and the House companion resolution have been introduced in the 131st General Assembly due to the efforts of hundreds of Ohioans from around the state who spent thousands of hours promoting local resolutions and collecting the signatures of tens of thousands of registered voters to put the nonpartisan Move to Amend on their local ballots.

Whether the issue is charter schools, food safety, climate change, economics, trade, world peace or health care, corporations are using never-intended constitutional rights to control the outcomes. Passing an amendment to the U.S. Constitution requires a long view and hard work; it took 72 years for women to win the vote. Like women’s suffrage, Move to Amend poses a fundamental question: In a democratic republic, who rules?

Carla Rautenberg and Deborah Van Kleef

Carla Rautenberg is an activist and a lifelong Cleveland Heights resident. Deborah Van Kleef is a musician and writer, who grew up in Cleveland Heights and has lived here as an adult for over 30 years. Contact them at heightsdemocracy@gmail.com.