Biennial Shaker Heights Democracy Day rules again in ‘23, letting off a little corporate steam

Updated: Sep. 19, 2023, 7:23 p.m. Published: Sep. 19, 2023, 6:21 p.m.

SHAKER HEIGHTS, Ohio -- City Council hosted its biennial Democracy Day earlier this month -- which Shaker residents overwhelmingly voted into existence back in 2016 -- seeking to reverse the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens vs. United ruling.

This in turn led to the “Move to Amend” initiative, seeking a return to the days when corporations were not considered people and money was not equivalent to free speech -- meaning that political campaign contributions could again be regulated.

It’s an opportunity to speak out in recognition of our democratic heritage and principles,” protesting the landmark 2010 decision “as well as other rulings opposed to our democracy,” Mayor David Weiss said before turning the floor of council chambers over to Organize Ohio Executive Director Larry Bresler, serving as emcee.

A Shaker Heights resident, Bresler went through some of the ongoing threats to democracy in Ohio, starting with restricting or just making it more difficult to vote, either by mail-in ballots or in person.

“While Ohio I.D. cards are free, you need to have your birth certificate, which can cost you $25 if you don’t have it lying around,” Bresler said, noting that college I.D.’s are not accepted at the polls. He believes that is “very intentional,” given the voting tendencies of many collegians.

And while Bresler was proud to see the turnout in Shaker for a special election in August that led to the crushing defeat of Issue 1, he warned that Ohio lawmakers plan to bring it back to the ballot again.

Zach Schiller, executive director of Policy Matters Ohio and a 40-year Shaker resident, spoke about state taxes on the rich that have been getting cut for the past 18 years.

And with those continued cuts, the Local Government Fund, an ever-dwindling formula distributed among Ohio’s cities, could soon be “wiped out.”

And on a local level, Schiiler noted that it’s now been a decade since the last of Ohio’s estate tax was repealed.

Schiller said Shaker received an average of $2.37 million a year from the estate tax, “and that’s not counting the $11.67 million the city received in 2006.”

Former Cleveland city councilman and current Shaker Square resident Jay Westbrook spoke on predatory lending in housing markets.


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