The Mendocino County Board of Supervisors has voted unanimously to place a "Citizens Advisory Measure to End Corporate Rule and Defend Democracy" on the November 2012 ballot for Mendocino County. The measure asks voters if their elected representatives should be instructed to enact resolutions and legislation calling for an amendment to the United States Constitution to establish that only human beings and not corporations are endowed with constitutional rights, and money does not constitute speech and political spending can be regulated. The Board of Supervisors action was sponsored by Fifth District Supervisor Dan Hamburg.
Beginning in March and finishing in June, about 80 volunteers from the Move to Amend Coalition of Mendocino County collected 5,661 signatures from county voters to put the measure on the ballot. Elections official County Clerk Sue Ranochak certified the group had collected enough valid signatures to qualify the measure for the ballot.
"I applaud the work the organization has done going out to the shopping centers and gathering places and educating people one to one," said Supervisor Hamburg.
To date, 11 other towns and counties nationwide have passed ballot measures calling for a Constitutional Amendment and 20 more are in progress. More than 128 town and county councils have passed resolutions calling for a Constitutional Amendment to "End Corporate Personhood," including Mendocino County towns Point Arena and Fort Bragg, as well as major cities such as Los Angeles and New York.
"Corporate personhood" commonly refers to Supreme Court rulings that a corporation, a fictional "person" for legal purposes, has the same inherent Constitutional rights as a human being. The most recent example is the ruling in the Citizens United vs. Fair Elections Commission case of January 2010 in which the Court held that campaign contributions constitute free speech and cannot be regulated, thus overturning the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law. That ruling has proved to be controversial and has spurred a number of calls to reverse it by amending the Constitution. Previous Supreme Court rulings have overturned food labeling laws and worker and consumer safety laws, among others.
Move to Amend is a national grassroots organization formed to raise awareness of the problem of "corporate personhood" and mobilize a political movement to bring about a Constitutional Amendment firmly establishing that a corporation or other artificial entity is not a person with constitutional rights, and political spending is not free speech and can be regulated. The organization has grown to include over 100 local affiliates since its formation in January 2010.
Move to Amend Ukiah and Move to Amend Fort Bragg have formed the Move to Amend Coalition of Mendocino County to campaign for the citizens advisory to end corporate rule and defend democracy, which will be on the November Mendocino County ballot. The coalition is actively supported by residents throughout the county, including in Willits, Ukiah, Laytonville, Boonville, Potter Valley, Point Arena, Mendocino and Round Valley.
"This has been an all volunteer effort of ordinary citizens and the volunteers found that most people were eager to sign the petition. Many people were happy to take our flyers to learn more about the issue," said Margaret Koster, inland Co-Chair of the effort.