Bridge collapse connected to democracy collapse

The collapse of the Miami bridge was due to shoddy construction, poor regulations and political influence. In other words, the bridge collapse is yet another example of a democracy collapse (to whatever extent one ever existed to begin with, which wasn’t much) — due in part to corporate constitutional rights and money defined as free speech which permit legalized bribery and corporate rule to continue and continue and continue… #MovetoAmend #Democracy #WethePeopleAmendment

https://www.cnn.com/2018/03/16/us/miami-fiu-bridge-collapse-munilla-figg-invs/index.html

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NEOhio AFSC March 25, 2016 Podcast

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Listen to podcast here

We summarize last week’s activities; share upcoming events for next week and interview Nathan Rutz, Organizer for the Communities United for Responsible Energy, a project of the Ohio Organizing Collaborative, on proposal of First Energy Corporation before the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio to increase fees to pay for their obsolute and polluting power plants (length: 38:43).

Response to PD article, “Lobbyist-tilted playing field favors FirstEnergy and AEP in Columbus”

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Lobbyist-tilted playing field favors FirstEnergy and AEP in Columbus: Thomas Suddes
http://www.cleveland.com/opinion/index.ssf/2015/12/lobbyist-tilted_playing_field.html#incart_river_home

My comment to this article (posted at end):

In a real democratic world, Mr. Suddes, citizens would win — every time. But that’s not our current “real world.” Sadly, that world is one where the Constitution has defined corporations as “legal persons” with inalienable Bill or Rights and other protections (including 1st Amendment “free speech” rights) and money is defined as equal to “free speech.” Both constitutional doctrines have permitted corporate entities and the super wealthy to hijack politics and government — including regulatory agencies which do a stellar job of regulating, though, not abolishing harms, regulating citizen input and activism, and shielding like a football offensive line We the People from those entities which have captured the regulatory agencies.

It’s an identical story on just about every issue that the corporate crowd cares about — identical regarding lobbyists with unequal political access, corporate campaign contributions (actually investments) drowning out the voices of the majority of citizens, a captured regulatory agency. Identical. No need to write another story from scratch. Just substitute corporations, # of lobbyists, amount of campaign money, and regulatory agency and voila — new story on a new issue which conveys the same exact story — that out country is broken because the system is fixed, which will remain so for ever and ever until we end the insanity via constitutional amendment of corporate “personhood” and money equaling “free speech.”

Move to Amend’s We the People Amendment, https://movetoamend.org/wethepeopleamendment, does just this. Citizens across the country, including Ohio, are working to put pressure on Congress to pass this amendment by building a grassroots movement. Ten Ohio communities have already passed council resolutions and 7 communities have passed ballot initiatives calling for this amendment. Many Ohio communities (including Cleveland, Newark, S. Euclid) are working for a November 2016 ballot measure.

This nonsense will never change by simply changing elected officials or laws. We have to change constitutional ground rules.

If interested in working on this fundamental form of change, email ohio@movetoamend.org.

 

Every Polluter’s Advocate

IEL

The record of Every Polluters Advocate (EPA) regarding the Industrial Excess Landfill (IEL) in Uniontown, Ohio has been for several decades pathetic at best. Their approach has been “dilution is the solution” remediation and “what you don’t test for you won’t find.” Several of the test wells that were considered “hot” were simply not tested.

We (Northeast Ohio AFSC) filed several Freedom of Information (FOIA) requests over several years. We received numerous receipts from the Department of the Army indicating dumping. This confirmed sitings by area residents who witnessed Army trucks bearing radioactive markings letting themselves in and out of the site over a period of time. We also received in the IEL file if I recall a document from the Mound nuclear weapons production site in southern Ohio indicating they transported material to the site. No doubt the haul was something like grass clippings and/or apple peelings.

Several area people, in fact, have died from cancers associated with radiation. A nurse at one time went house to house in the area and found an astoundingly high percentage of radiation related health concerns. Mere coincidence no doubt.

Chris Borello refuses to literally and figuratively bury IEL. Kudos to her.

Coverup and denial have been the major responses.

Harper points out an often forgotten reality. The site sits on a ridge with whatever dumped there flowing in many directions. Thus, the grass clippings, apple peelings and other supposedly too safe to worry about in the long term trash will be shared far and wide.

The EPA at the highest level has been hijacked by the corporate polluters and military. Sad fact…and reality…of many, if not most, of our regulatory agencies — they regulate/confine grassroots concerns/activism and shield those responsible for irresponsible actions.

Uniontown landfill Superfund site includes industrial, radioactive waste: Toxic remains
http://www.cleveland.com/akron/index.ssf/2015/12/is_groundwater_in_uniontown_oh.html#incart_m-rpt-1

Testimony at Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) Public Hearing on First Energy’s “Electric Security Plan” Proposal

Greg Coleridge / Monday, January 20, 2015 / Cleveland City Hall

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[Note: First Energy corporations wants PUCO guarantees on prices to subsidize it nuclear and coal power plants. Several hearings by the PUCO regulatory agency to receive public testimony are being held across Ohio]

I testify this evening not only as a consumer, but also as a citizen.

As a consumer, I’m concerned about the rising prices of energy that seem unwarranted and little more than a corporate bail out.

But as a citizen, I’m even more concerned — concerned about decision-making, power and democracy – as they relate to not only First Energy corporation but also the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO).

Former Cleveland Mayor Tom Johnson’s warning a century ago is still relevant today: “I believe in municipal ownership of all public service monopolies… because if you do not own them, they will in time own you, they will rule your politics, corrupt your institutions and finally destroy your liberties.”

First Energy corporation has certainly come to rule our politics and corrupt our legislative institution with their hot shot lobbyists and piles of campaign investments, I mean “contributions,” to many of the same Ohio legislators who voted to delay green energy standards.

photoBut it’s not just First Energy corporation that is a threat to our democracy. Regulatory agencies like PUCO, which shield corporate utilities serve to effectively absorb our time, energy and resources and to distract our attention from demanding statewide legislation, citizen initiatives and public hearings on the more fundamental issue of ending corporate owned utilities.

Past and more recent history demonstrates that public owned utilities provide more democratically accountable and cheaper energy. Samuel Insull was right a century ago about electricity being a “natural monopoly.” His belief, though, that regulation would protect utility monopolies from both private competition and outright public ownership was anti-democratic. Milwaukee Mayor Daniel Hoan in 1907 said it best about electric regulatory commissions: “No shrewder piece of political humbuggery and downright fraud has ever been placed upon the statute books. It’s supposed to be legislation for the people. In fact, it’s legislation for the power oligarchy.”

No matter the outcome of these hearings, the core problem is that We the People are not directly in control of our energy. Corporate utilities, using PUCO as a shield, are in charge. First Energy corporation’s market monopoly socialism in which “heads, they win, tails, we lose” both politically and in our pocketbooks doesn’t have to happen. It wasn’t always like it is now. It doesn’t have to continue.

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These hearings are akin to a democracy “theme park” that looks real and legit on the surface but distracts and distorts from the real issues.

Regulatory agencies regulate us. They regulate our ability to think outside the regulatory box – to imagine what real definition, power, control, and democracy could be.

Yes, the answer here tonight is to oppose the corporate bailout of First Energy. But the answer to the fundamental problem of private monopolies is more democracy through public control – the likes of which would make Tom Johnson proud.

We need to think and act not just like consumers, but also as citizens.