Cleveland Move to Amend Meeting Report

November 21, 2012

Jefferson Branch Library
Saturday, November 17

16 people attended the meeting.

PRESENTATION: John Ryan, State Director for Senator Sherrod Brown, spoke. He said at least $60 million dollars was spend against Senator Brown. Josh Mandel raised and spent $20 million himself. Of this amount, $10.9 million was spent on advertising. The remaining $40 million was raised and spent by outside groups (including $12.5 million from Karl Rove's group(s) alone). Of this total, $31.5 million was spent on advertising, $7 million on mailing and $2 million on polling and production.  All this money in elections, especially from outside sources, led to the incredible negativity in ads and overall tone. The result is citizen disillusionment, which carries over after the election itself. It also means candidates, be they challengers or incumbents, must spend an enormously large amount of time raising money — which almost no candidate likes compared to meeting, listening to and talking with  "average" people. In terms of reforms at the federal level, Sen. Brown favors increased disclosure of funding sources — believing that those who create ads which contain outright lies or are simply negative to turn people off will be less inclined to do so if they must have their names listed in the ads. Ryan and Sen. Brown were open to learning more about Move to Amend and our goals.

STRATEGY:  We spoke about what we would like to see regarding moving Move to Amend in Cleveland. In light of the overwhelming positive response from people across the country via ballot measures during the recent election (over 150 municipalities passed MTA ballot measures, including Brecksville and Newburgh Heights in Cuyahoga County), it was agreed to ask for a meeting with Cleveland City Councilpersons Brian Cummins and Jay Westbrook to ask if they'd be willing to introduce an ordinance calling on city council to place a Move to Amend initiative on the ballot for November, 2013. The initiative would ask our congressional delegation to pass a constitutional amendment declaring:
Only human beings, not corporations, are legal persons with Constitutional rights, and
Money is not equivalent to speech, and therefore, regulating political contributions and spending does not equate to limiting political speech
It was discussed and agreed that we need to connect this issue with other issues and groups in the community.

Lois and Greg agreed to followup in setting up a meeting.

-- Lois Romanoff, loisromanoff [at]