Cleveland Heights' Democracy Day presented powerful testimony
Cleveland Heights City Council members, speakers and virtual viewers called January’s 8th annual Democracy Day public hearing “inspiring,” “informative,” and “enlightening”—hardly the “waste of time” claimed by Robert Shwab in a letter published in the March issue of the Heights Observer.
Federal and state court decisions, and laws created by the president, governor, U.S. Congress, and state legislature directly impact our city government and residents. Those decisions and policies are increasingly influenced by, and disproportionately benefit, the super-rich and corporations.
Most Cleveland Heights residents understand we don't live in a cocoon, which explains how 77% of voters in 2013 passed the local ballot measure calling on Congress to support a Constitutional Amendment ending corporate constitutional rights and political money in elections defined as free speech. That initiative also mandated, by ordinance, the annual public hearing in Cleveland Heights, where individuals can testify on the impact of big money in elections, and of corporate power on their lives and community.
Powerful testimony at this and previous CH Democracy Day hearings addressed the undemocratic influence of corporations on education, health care, energy, agriculture, transportation, employment, the environment and many other issues. One could add pandemic relief funds, which have gone disproportionately to large corporations, including Paycheck Protection Program funding intended for small business. Can anyone legitimately claim such policies and actions have no impact on Cleveland Heights and its residents?
It's true the ACLU supports corporate constitutional rights—at least its leadership does. Many of its members do not. The We the People Amendment is hardly radical.
As more people understand how our society has been captured and corrupted by the outsized influence corporations have gained via never-intended inalienable constitutional rights, support for House Joint Resolution 48 grows. More than 700 communities and 600 organizations are part of a growing movement to build power and a democratic culture to pressure Congress. Cleveland Heights’ annual Democracy Day plays an important role in this movement.
Greg Coleridge is outreach director of the Move to Amend Coalition and a Cleveland Heights resident.