Cleveland Democracy Day Public Hearing Testimony

Cleveland Ordinance 


106.01 Democracy Day; Public Hearing

106.02 Letter

106.03 Further Hearings

  • 106.01 Democracy Day; Public Hearing

Beginning in the year 2017, the Mayor and City Council shall designate one day in the second week of May following the November federal elections as "Democracy Day: A Call for a U.S. Constitutional Amendment." On this day, the Mayor and City Council shall sponsor a public hearing in a public space within the City. The City shall publicize the public hearing on its website and through area media at least one (1) month in advance of the hearing. The public hearing will examine the impact on the City of political contributions of corporations, unions, political action committees, and super-PACs. The Mayor and at least one (1) City Councilperson shall submit testimony at the public hearing. In addition, all citizens of Cleveland will be permitted to submit oral testimony for a period of at least five (5) minutes per citizen. The public hearing shall be held during an evening or weekend time. The City shall record the minutes of the hearing and make them available to the public no later than three (3) months after the hearing by posting them on Council's or the City's website.

(Ord. No. 1059-17. Passed 9-25-17, eff. 9-27-17)

  • 106.02 Letter

Within one (1) week following the public hearing, the Clerk shall send a letter to the leaders of the Ohio House and Senate, and Cleveland's U.S. Congressional Representatives, and both Ohio U.S. Senators stating that a public hearing was held to support an amendment to the U.S. Constitution declaring:

(a) Only human beings, not corporations, are legal persons with constitutional rights;

(b) Money is not equivalent to speech, and, therefore, regulating political contributions and spending is not equivalent to limiting political speech.

(Ord. No. 1059-17. Passed 9-25-17, eff. 9-27-17)

  • 106.03 Further Hearings

The biennial public hearings will continue for a period of ten (10) years through May 2027 or until a constitutional amendment reflecting the principles set forth in section 106.02 is ratified by three-quarters (3/4) of state legislatures.

(Ord. No. 1059-17. Passed 9-25-17, eff. 9-27-17)



Monday, May 10, 2021


Written: below


Steve Norris    Introduction    5:00

Hello, my name is Steven Norris. I'm cochair of Move to Amend Cleveland along with Lois Romanoff. We'd like to welcome you to Cleveland's Democracy Day Public Hearing.

Thanks to City Council members for hosting, thanks to the speakers for preparing testimony, and thanks to everyone watching for your time and energy supporting democracy.

Move to Amend is a grassroots organization working to end corporate dominance and build a vibrant democracy. Many people are familiar with the infamous Citizens United ruling which struck down campaign finance laws and

flooded the airwaves with attack ads, but the Supreme Court has been building corporate power for over a century. The first, fourth, fifth, and fourteenth amendments have expanded from their original intent as human rights to become a potent check on local home rule.

Across the United States, 705 communities and 7 states have called to end money as speech and corporate constitutional rights. 26 of Ohio's cities and towns have passed ballot initiatives or city council resolutions, including recently Tallmadge and Painesville.

Federally, congressional representatives Marcy Kaptur & Tim Ryan are cosponsors. In the Ohio Legislature, we'd like to thank sponsors Mike Skindell and Nikki Antonio, along with 8 House and 2 Senate cosponsors.

If anyone hasn't yet become a citizen cosponsor to the We the People Amendment, please join over 478,000 others and sign at Thanks!


Lois Romanoff    Charter Schools    7:07

Hi everybody, I'm so glad to be here. Thank you all for coming and especially

thank you Councilwoman Spencer for leading us today and so many of the staff people

who have helped too. I really appreciate all of your help.

I'm going to be talking to you today about charter schools. Charter schools are corporations. They often make a handsome profit for their owners. President Biden said he is against all for-profit charter schools, however charter schools often present a non-profit facade.

When a for-profit school appears to be a not-for-profit school, for example when the state of Arizona, which allows for profit organizations to hold a school charter. Charters are run for profit nearly always but they incorporate as non-profits.

This relationship enables charter schools to be eligible for federal funds that include IDEA, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and the federal program called Charter Schools Program. The charter industry is making a fortune, not just in Arizona but everywhere. Mainly through the money that comes from the government.

A recent change in Ohio's law is that the state now pays for the tuition of every child who goes to a charter school rather than the public school district paying for the tuition as it has been in the past. However this is still government money paying for charter students.

When most of us first learned about charters we were told that the families and teachers that initiated charter schools for children who because they learned differently, they were not considered handicapped.

But in fact when the first charter schools were opened in minnesota in 1992, within five years the schools that opened four of the now dominant brick and mortar for-profit charter schools began building their operations and at the same time the three largest online for-profit. Charters also began building their operations. Charter schools were designed as a business model.

They pay their teachers 50 to 40 percent less than a public school teacher makes. The teachers often do not have advanced degrees or the same educational experience as public school teachers have. Extracurricular activities such as music, drama, sports, and much stronger traditional schools are also available. Public schools have unions that also protect the rights and finances of their teachers.

The initiators of charter schools were rich entrepreneurs like Bill Gates, the Walton Foundation, the Walton people of Walmart, Reed Hastings of Netflix and many others whose goal is to end public schools entirely. We know this because of the lobbyists who work for them, and they do this because they hate things that are public. They think it is inefficient and they hate unions. That's the initiators of the schools.

Public schools are a democracy model also paid for by taxpayers, but not where a profit is the goal and where every child is welcomed. Where a school board is elected from the people who live in that community and know what the school needs.

Let's continue the democracy model and end education for profit. Thanks.


John Howell    Democracy and the Monetary System    12:01

Well I'd like to thank you all and congratulate you for this procedure you have for honoring democracy and pursuing it in this way. My name is John Howell from Athens and I represent two organizations: Democracy Over Corporations and the Alliance for Just Money.

The United States is of course a republic and in a republic the democracy depends upon the integrity of elections. Elections have become heavily influenced by money. Fortunately, elections are not totally under the control of money and I congratulate those public servants, many of you who do represent the will of the people.

We must protect the electoral process against attack by those who prefer minority rule. So wealth and power, as you all know, form a self-reinforcing cycle. The power part of that cycle must be attacked through such measures as the We the People Constitutional Amendment, as promoted by Move to Amend, that of course as you all know is the amendment to end corporate personhood and money as speech. The concentration of wealth itself must also be addressed. Onto the next slide please.

Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis once said we can have democracy in this country or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we cannot have both. Next slide please.

What is responsible for the extreme concentration of wealth we see today? Several things in our economic system share the blame including corporate monopolies, but the central mechanism of wealth concentration is the monetary system itself.

The monetary system is a system by which money is created and destroyed, by which money is issued and then withdrawn. It is the system that controls the money supply. Next slide please.

There are two kinds of money: currency, which is bills and coins, and account money. Account money exists only as numbers in accounts. In computers today about 95 percent of our money is account money. It is what you get paid with and what you pay your bills with. All account money is created not by government, but by private banks as they make loans.

Loans are not transfers from savers to borrowers. Loans represent the creation of new money. With every loan extended the money supply rises. As loans are repaid the money supply

falls. Banks collect interest on all the money in circulation and wealth concentrates into the financial sector. Next slide please.

For every dollar in circulation there's a dollar of debt. Without debt we have no money. But who gets the money and who gets the debt? The top one percent of the population holds 35 percent of the net worth and the bottom sixty percent hold only three percent of the net worth but they hold most of the debt.

New money created by bank loans goes to those with good credit ratings to those who already have money, not the public services. Next slide please.

It doesn't have to be this way. Article 1 section 8 of the Constitution authorizes Congress to create money. Government creation of money got us through the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, and the Civil War. It was money spent by government into circulation rather than being rent into circulation.

Government spending of money into circulation creates no debt. We need government creation of money now to face the challenges of our time the legislation to do that was introduced in congress in 2011 by Dennis Kucinich representing the Cleveland area but the bill was not acted upon. It needs reintroduction. Next slide please.

The current monetary system concentrates wealth. It fails to address the needs of people. It causes economic instability in the forms of booms and busts, recessions like we're all familiar with, which are bad for business and for people and finally it sustains poverty and financial insecurity.

Creation of money by the federal government can change this. It can provide funds for states, municipalities like Cleveland, and townships to meet community needs in education, housing, and health care and it can do these things without additional debt.

What we can do as a country should be constrained only by the real limits of raw materials and labor not by money. Money is limiting for you and me because we don't create money. The government can create money and it should. The final slide please.

So bank creation of money concentrates wealth and undermines democracy. Government creation of money distributes wealth and makes democracy possible. I urge you to advocate not only for the Constitutional Amendment that you've already spoken of but also for monetary reform. Thank you for the opportunity of being with you.


Dave Lima    A Decade of Super PACs    19:48

Thank you Councilmembers Spencer, Polensek, and Griffin. I'm glad to have you on our call today.

I am Dave Lima. I'm the coordinator of Mentor Move to Amend. I also serve on the coordinating committee for Ohio Move to Amend.

There has been ongoing tension in the history of the United States between legislative efforts to limit the influence of money and political power and judicial warnings and rulings curbing Congress's power to do so, particularly in the last 50 years. Legislative efforts and Supreme Court rulings have made pivotal changes to the role that money plays in our democracy. Efforts to restrict the influence of money have been rolled back largely based on the misguided narrative that artificial entities are people and money is equivalent to speech protected by the First Amendment.

In addition to previous court rulings, the Citizens United ruling effectively freed labor unions, corporations, and non-profit associations from restrictions on electioneering and allowed advocacy for the election or defeat of candidates. The court ruled that political action groups, Super PACs, can receive unlimited donations and make unlimited election expenditures so long as they do not directly coordinate with candidates' campaigns.

The Citizens United ruling rests on two assumptions that have since proven false. The majority reason that independent spending cannot be corrupted and that such spending would be transparent. The court's narrow interpretation of Corruption was limited to quid pro quo, which assumes a direct connection between donations and political favors. But the corruption influence of money on policy decisions and political priorities is much more nuanced. Over the past decade these special interests have spent unlimited and often undisclosed amounts of money to advance their agendas.

Impacts could be seen just five years after the ruling, in 2015. Analysts found clear evidence that a very small group of Americans, an elite club of wealthy, largely white, mega donors were wielding increasing influence in politics. By 2018 a Pew poll found that 75 percent of Americans believe government was run by a few big interests looking out for themselves. The Supreme Court also reasoned that unlimited spending would not be would not distort the political process because the public would be informed about funding for political activity.

The reality is that voters often cannot know who is actually behind campaign spending. So while Super PACs are required to disclose their donors, those donors can include dark money groups that obscure the original source of their contributions since dark money non-profits do not need to disclose their donors. They provide a back channel to inundate our politics with money from secret sources.

Now armed with 10 years of data we have a compelling picture of this disturbing trend. A massive influx of big money in politics. Just 25 ultra rich individuals account for close to half of the total individual donations to Super PACs from 2010 to 2020. The top five largest individual Super PAC contributors of the decade accounted for 28 percent of all donations.

The issue of money and policy in politics is also a bipartisan problem. In the 2017-2018 cycles of contributions, 45 percent of donations went to outside spending groups aligned with the Republican party and 52 percent went to spending groups benefiting Democrats. Various legislative efforts have been derailed by the courts claiming that artificial entities are people with First Amendment speech rights.

Since money has been declared speech, curbing such speech is a violation of the Constitution. This leaves us with no other alternative but to have a 28th Constitutional Amendment declaring that artificial entities are not people and money is not speech. Such an amendment would provide the opportunity for legislative efforts to correct this distortion of reality.

Thank you.


Steve Holecko    Campaign contribution scouting    26:05

Thank you. I'm speaking tonight on behalf of the Cuyahoga County Progressive Caucus.

The week before last we had a wonderful event in our city, the NFL draft. Before the NFL draft you had all kinds of scouting reports on the players who might be drafted, their statistics, how fast they are, how tall they are, how strong they are, who they played for. The analyzers are trying to figure out who's the best one to get picked. We of course are interested in who the Browns are going to pick.

We have a very important event coming up in our city and that is the Cleveland mayor's election. Right now we're in the campaign announcement season and after a candidate announces, the media does an article which is kind of like a scouting report. It indicates what public office the candidate has held what their position on the issues might be. But the most important aspect of that scouting report is how much money they have.

Let me just read you a few headlines and excerpts from the articles. I'm not going to read the candidate's name. If you're paying attention maybe you can guess who it's referring to.

Candidate A has more than 116,000 in his or her campaign account.

Candidate B: early campaign contributions make him or her an instant contender in 2021 mayoral race. has been raising money for months and has reported nearly $160,000 on hand.

Candidate C leads the pack of potential mayoral candidates in the money race and has more than $500,000 on hand.

According to most recent campaign finance report, Candidate D hasn't raised much money because of the job he or her has been working on.

Candidate E has raised more than $80,000 from June 29th to December 31st.

Now let me read you some other headlines that occurred over the last year from the start of the pandemic last march. Sherwin-Williams to begin headquarters construction but details predictively scant about $100 million public subsidized project.

Last December Cleveland okays unprecedented subsidy for rich Flats East Bank developer who can forgo property tax payment until 2071. Quick note, thank you very much Councilwoman Spencer for voting against that. In February Cleveland to give Rocket Mortgage another handout.

By the way four years ago a major issue in the mayor's race was of course the Quicken Loans Arena renovations and then the referendum. The referendum failed. The beautiful glass atrium and all of the renovations inside are now in place. It's still being paid for. It's still being paid for by portions of each ticket sold that would go to Cleveland's general revenue fund tickets being sold. Want to guess how far behind we are now? How many tickets have been sold in the last year to events at the arena?

Now those of us in the activist community call this the corporate welfare system but the gig is up even if you're not a member of the activist community. Candidates sometimes get caught and we saw this most recently with the HB6 scandal. And by getting caught I mean a vote so horrendous and a campaign contribution so horrendous that it can't be overlooked. The standard answer is "Oh, well yeah they gave me lots of money but that in no way influenced my vote." That's laughable and everybody knows it.

That's why we have very low voter turnout in the city of Cleveland. That's why last week there were a couple articles on the mayoral race which said candidates are plagued by low name recognition and these are the top candidates elected officials. Big names that we who are here tonight know but nobody else knows because the feeling is it's the same old, same old.

Now maybe, just maybe if we had publicly financed campaigns and the scouting report only issued positions on the issues previously held, if the public got wind that we were having an election about ideas and not money, we would have higher voter turnout and we would have a government truly of the people by the people and for the people.

Thank you.


Daryl Davis    Outline for Democracy Day testimony    32:34

Outline for Democracy Day testimony

My name is Daryl Davis. I live in the city of Cleveland. We have a crisis in our country that is destroying our quality of life and the planet.

We have lost control of our government to corporations and the false ideology that favors an interpretation of economic policy referred to as conservatism but is best defined as lawlessness.

Here are two examples of corporate control over the issues I am working on

Inappropriate Development- Here in the city of Cleveland the City Planning Commission, with the complicity of the Mayor and some, but not all City Council members, has moved to subvert responsible zoning and citizens’ right to exercise control of their neighborhoods in traditional and landmarked districts. Instead we have form based zoning that will eliminate BZA hearings for variances. Every decision in favor of developers is fortified with the opinion that developers face too much uncertainty in getting approval for projects that require as many as 12 variances and the cost destroys their profitability. They already have 15 year tax abatements, tax incentives, and financing arrangements that involve HUD money intended for affordable housing. Developers look upon successful neighborhoods as their god given opportunity with funding intended to restore struggling neighborhoods. If you wonder how this can happen I suggest you review the campaign finance reports of the council leadership fund.

Noise in the City – The constant din of trucks, construction equipment, and emergency vehicles sirens and amplified horns is one thing. Cleveland has ordinances against modified mufflers, boom speakers on cars, backyard fireworks, and speeding unlicensed dirt bikes and ATVs popping wheelies and zig zagging through traffic, but these laws are not being enforced. In an article describing the effects of excessive noise, Noise Free America states “Excessive noise has been linked to hearing loss, tinnitus, sleep deprivation, cardiovascular disturbances, mental health impairment, impaired task performance, aggressive behavior, and chronic fatigue.”  Manufacturers of this noise making equipment feel free to market their products with slogans described by Noise Free America as “vicious, anti-social advertisements” Sony’s slogan for its Xplod speakers is “disturb the peace.” Does anyone in this city’s government relish going up against Sony’s civil rights granted by its personhood? How about BP at the corner of Fulton and Denison, where the loud cars park at all hours of the night with their stereos booming.

Corporate oligarchs, not satisfied with winning every court case, formed the American Legislative Exchange Council. ALEC is a membership organization of corporations, trade organizations, and politicians. Sony is a member. The corporations write model bills that the politician members are required to introduce into their legislatures. Ohio’s ALEC State Chairs are Representative Scott Wiggam, a member of the House Energy and Natural Resources Committee and Senator Rob McColley, member of the Senate Energy and Public Utilities Committee. McColley introduced Senate bill 52 which gives local governments the right to hold referenda on siting of utility scale wind and solar installations. A list of all the state chairs (legislators) is readily available, corporate chairs are no longer listed. That should tell any savvy legislator where they rank in the ALEC hierarchy.

First Energy – has announced that it will cooperate with the Department of Justice in securing convictions of the indicted legislators in exchange for a deferred prosecution agreement which can allow it to avoid criminal charges. That is probably another indicator of which class of operators is more important.


Larry Bresler    Dark Money and First Energy; Voter Suppression    38:13

I'm Larry Bresler. I'm speaking on behalf of Organize Ohio and the End Poverty Now coalition.

As we're meeting, Democracy Day, we're not here just to promote the democratic process but to kind of stop the anti-democratic process that's happening in Ohio and across the country.

The first thing I just want to talk about briefly is: out of the End Poverty Now coalition, we started something called Utilities for All, which is an organization that works to stop utility shut offs and for fair rates. When we started, there was somewhat of a focus with us in terms of the shutoffs that had been happening with Cleveland Public Power and following some of the statutes, the ordinances in the city of Cleveland.

During that time, all of a sudden there was this widespread pamphlet that went out to every single resident city of Cleveland, certainly came to me. That was publicly critical CPP and it's despair just saying that the rates were bad and the service was bad. Nobody knew where this came from. Many people thought it came from our little group, which of course it did not. This came from First Energy. It was part of their dark money efforts to hurt CPP, hopefully to destroy it. Probably with the idea that First Energy would then take over Cleveland Public Power and that we do not have a choice anymore.

I was an individual back in the 1970s that worked hard, went door-to-door trying to fight to save at that time Cleveland Muni the municipal light system. Which we did and whatever the problems we have with CPP today, it still gives us a choice. It's a city-owned system that we want to support and the idea of this dark money coming forward it just kind of amplifies why we're here today. It took a long time for us to realize where that came from at the time although i think we all kind of assumed. So that shows why we need to stop the dark money, why we need the kind of efforts that are being done to change the laws that that allow this to happen.

The other thing I want to talk about very briefly is the wave of voter suppression laws that are coming across the country and here in Ohio. I really thought that we were going to buck them, we were like one of the two only like three states in the country where nothing had been introduced and my assumption was that because everything went so smoothly in the last election, not to say that there weren't problems in terms of some voter suppression, but the fact that the election went so smoothly that we weren't going to have a problem. That we weren't going to have the kind of voter suppression laws that happened. That could never happen in Ohio.

Of course we now have the first of those that just been introduced in the last week. It would limit drop boxes to one per county by the board of elections. So you only have one in Auglaize county, which is very sparsely populated. And you have one in Cuyahoga county and that one has to be at the board of elections. So as many of us remember the last one when they had those boxes there people were lined up not in cars and persons going all the way down to the Inner Belt, clearly not a safe thing. But that's what happened.

It would also limit to a substantial degree the curing of small mistakes on absentee ballots. We all make those kind of mistakes but now our votes are much more likely to be invalidated based on this. Legislation has been introduced, would now require two forms of identification rather than one to apply for absentee ballots.

Under this it would also limit early voting. Clearly this is the intent of this legislation: to hurt places like Cuyahoga county, particularly the city of Cleveland. We need to remember in the last election that this voter suppression already happened, resulted in only 53 percent of eligible Clevelanders voting compared to 68 county wide and in some of the southern and western suburbs it was as high as 84.

So I would ask our City Council members, our mayor, for us to join together to fight this voter suppression legislation that's currently in the House. We don't know what's going to be introduced in the Senate and we want to be able to promote democracy in a way that helps all of us.

Thank you.


Brian Houlehan    Medicare for All    44:18

Thank you Councilwoman and thank you Councilmembers for your presence here today.

I'm appearing on behalf of the Single-Payer Action Network, SPAN Ohio. What I'm here to talk about is a single-payer health care system.

Basically there are four components of a single-payer health care system.

One is that there can only be one source of money paying for all medically prescribed or emergency services. It could be a private or public entity with obvious oversight. Either way, it derives its power and thus authority from the fact that it's the only source of money paying for health care claims.

Number two, this one payer has the authority to negotiate prices for all drugs and medical equipment.

Number three this one payer has the authority to negotiate all costs for services provided by doctors.

Number four this one payer has the authority to negotiate all costs for services provided by hospitals.

So this in general, with variations, is the way it's done in every other industrialized nation in the world. An overwhelming majority of physicians in the US support single-payer, including Dr. Jonathan Ross who wrote a letter to the Toledo Blade. He's the past president of the Physicians for a National Health Program and he wrote that physicians share your concern about the scourge of surprise billing. That's another thing that we want to cure, it's but one symptom of a broken health care system built on administrative complexity and profiteering.

Seeking the care they need patients must contend with limited provider networks, co-payments, and deductibles. To provide care, caregivers must deal with hundreds of insurers, each with variable payment rules and requirements. Some hospitals now employ more billing clerks than nurses. To end this madness we need an improved Medicare for All.

The single-payer approach would reduce healthcare administrative waste by $600 billion yearly by some estimates. These savings can be applied to universal coverage of all medically necessary care, including dental, vision, and long-term care, without increasing total US health care costs. It would streamline, doing through one payer, freeing up hospitals and doctors to focus on patient care. Medicare for All would fund hospitals to publicly approve global operating budgets, providing a lifeline to struggling rural and urban hospitals.

For patients, Medicare for All would provide free choice of doctors and hospitals with narrow networks co-pays deductibles and surprise bills would be a thing of the past so that's from Dr Jonathan Ross.

Also what it would cure is medical bankruptcies. We find that every year in America, they estimate there are 500,000 medical bankruptcies a year because of the current healthcare system. Hospitals would save $35 billion a year by avoiding a pursual patients with unpaid bills.

The current healthcare system, public and privately financed now, costs America $3.5 trillion a year. Medicare for All by most estimates will cost $3 trillion a year. So it's a 500 billion dollar savings per year.

There are various studies, including one by the Yale medical journal the Lance that the state Medicare for All would save $450 billion a year. It would save 68,000 lives that are now being lost because people are uninsured or underinsured. Right now eight million Americans crowdfund for their medical care which is atrocious. It's abominable.

There's a Public Citizen study that came out a couple months ago that said that hundreds of thousands of deaths and millions of infections from Covid would have been prevented under a Medicare for All system. A congressional budget office study which most people think is authoritative says we could save $650 billion a year if we went to a Medicare for All system.

So why don't we have it in America? Well it comes down to money obviously and who's benefiting? So what we have is organizations like Americans for Prosperity, which is part of the Koch network. They finance what they call the Partnership for America's Healthcare Future. They're basically a lobby representing hospitals, pharma insurers, medical device makers, what I call medical industrial conflicts and they spend tens of millions of dollars in ads that dampen public support for Medicare for All.

So i just want to quote from a study by a couple of professors: Martin Gilens of Princeton and Benjamin Page of Northwest. They did a study and the central point of their study is that economic elites and organized groups representing business interests of substantial independent impacts on US government policy while mass-based interest groups and average citizens have little or no independent influence. The results they found provide substantial support for theories of an economic elite domination and for theories of biased pluralism but not for theories of majoritarian electoral democracy or majoritarian pluralism.

So effectively you know we're being outspent by this medical industrial complex and supported by their study so you know until we get a 28th amendment it's gonna be an uphill battle to achieve something like Medicare for All because corporations are considered people and money is considered speech.

So I thank you for your attention.


Steve Norris    Police Brutality Bonds    50:43

My testimony today is about police brutality bonds. ACRE, the Action Center on Race & the

Economy says police brutality bonds "quite literally allow banks and wealthy investors to profit

from police violence. This is a transfer of wealth from communities—especially over-policed

communities of color—to Wall Street and wealthy investors." In their report on police brutality

bonds, ACRE selected Cleveland as a case study. Cleveland issued over $12 million in

judgment obligation bonds, which Clevelanders will be paying until 2033, with an additional $7+

million or 3/5ths for investors.


How did the Cleveland Police Department owe millions for excessive force? High profile cases

included the killing of Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams, with 137 bullets fired into a car

after a high-speed car chase. 12-year-old Tamir Rice held a toy gun and was fatally shot within

seconds. Further, the consent decree showed a pattern of:

  • shootings and head strikes with impact weapons
  • The unnecessary, excessive or retaliatory use of less lethal force including Tasers,

chemical spray and fists

  • Excessive force against persons who are mentally ill or in crisis, including in cases

where the officers were called exclusively for a welfare check

  • The employment of poor and dangerous tactics that place officers in situations where

avoidable force becomes inevitable and places officers and civilians at unnecessary risk.


Individual police officers are virtually always shielded from court costs by departments. Further,

most police departments are insulated from budget cuts as settlement costs rise.

Settlements may contain "non disparagement" clauses or predatory silencing that give some

restitution to victims but prevent them from talking about the cases or officers involved.

Most cities are unable or unwilling to account for borrowing costs for settlements.

Cleveland raised taxes to cover the cost of consent decree compliance and borrowed to finance



As the consent decree ends, Cleveland faces the prospect of losing the Community Police

Commission unless action is taken. In addition to reducing police misconduct, over policing

must be reduced. Funding should instead be invested in community support and safety.

Requiring officers to have liability insurance would support victims of police violence without

adding to city budgets. If cities do wind up borrowing, investors should not continue to profit off

police brutality. The Federal Reserve makes cheap loans to corporations and it could loan to

cities without interest. This would remove corporate profit from the repair of police violence harm.


While police departments are a large portion of public budgets, there are additional costs hidden

elsewhere, such as school police, transit police, and federal programs like Operation Relentless

Pursuit that need transparency and a full accounting.


Ending police brutality bonds is an important step towards furthering racial justice and ending

corporate rule.


Diane Morgan    Campaign contribution limits    54:27

Thank you very much, I appreciate this and everybody who's contributed tonight.

I wanted to say that we're at a crossroads in our country and we've stared down the potential for fascism in this last election and the fight is far from over. Every day as you've heard we're facing unprecedented attacks on voting rights in states across the country including even Ohio. We need to have a more representative government.

We need campaign finance reform at all levels of government. This has to start here in Cleveland. The allowable donation amounts increased recently in Cleveland so that a donor can actually donate more to a candidate for mayor in Cleveland than to a presidential candidate. So rather than decreasing the amount that could be donated it has increased.

It's been found that in Cincinnati the donation level is now $1,100 per individual. This has helped to limit special interest investing in elections and it's also increased grassroots funding of campaigns.

In addition we need to eliminate dark money as has been said earlier. Non-profits and have transparency with PACs and Super PACs, the public needs to know who is financing campaigns whether they are political campaigns issue driven or valid initiatives like HB6. We can do all of this here by campaign finance reform in Cleveland. We just need to have the leadership with the vision to do this including elected officials and this is just one of the many reasons that we support Move to Amend.

The other thing that I wanted to talk about, which was touched on briefly by someone else, is the aspect of more representative government and having citizen input in our government. Large and small cities across America have public comment. There's been an effort that has been made now that's grassroots driven to provide public comment space at Cleveland City Council meetings. Today it was the subject of public comment and was taken up at committee. It's a start.

But our government should not be authoritarian. The only ones whose voices are heard are the special interests, special influencers or corporations. Decisions should not just be made, cutting citizens out of the decision-making process. One of the things I often think about, is it any wonder that city hall is mostly reviled? You've mentioned to someone the city and a lot of people look at the city as the enemy and they mostly feel disenfranchised and disengaged.

So we need to begin to build trust. Citizens need to feel that they are welcome. Part of planning for the future of the city and that there is transparency in decision making, including the budget process. We need to take a step in the right direction to build a more a democratic government by allowing public comment. That should be solidified by legislation, not by rules change.

I do want to just add one more comment: we at Our Revolution Ohio believe strongly when a candidate applies for endorsement they are required to take the Move to Amend pledge. I would encourage everybody to check that out. You can do it as an individual or as a public servant.

Thank you very much.

Dave Lima / Angela Simone    Democracy Day Speech 2021 HB6 and Cle PP combined    58:45

Dark Money Groups Involved in the Battle over HB6 and Cleveland Public Power

The Supreme Court said this wouldn't happen.  Corruption, that is, in their CitizensUnited ruling.  That's because the majority on the Court said corruption could onlyoccur if there was QUID PRO QUO.  Coupled with that they are argued that transparency would shine a light on transactions keeping the public informed who was supporting various candidates and issues.  They must not have heard of 501(c)4 organizations, social welfare organizations, organizations that don't have to report their donors and amounts contributed.  Dark money from these organizations are used to fund the coffers of candidates and various issues up for a vote by the people or by the legislature, like HB6.  These dark money groups have the ability to spend millions of dollars which is what they did in the campaign and subsequest referendum effort around HB6.  Beside the massive effort on the part of First Energy to influence passage there was also a concerted effort on the part ofOhioans for Energy Security to squash the signature collecting efforts of Ohioans Against Corporate Bailout that aimed to put HB6 on the ballot in November 2020. Ohioans for Energy Security began to place ads designed to scare people from signing the petition by claiming the Chinese government would take over our energy grid.  They even started a non-binding petition drive asking legislators to keep foreign interests out of Ohio's energy grid the aim of which was to confuse voters and make them think they had already signed the referendum petition.  Ohioans for Energy Security is one of those 501(c)4 organizations not required to disclose their contributors.

Corruption thrives right in our own backyard.  Back in 2018 a nonprofit, a 501(c)4

was formed with the help of First Energy Corp.  The organization called Consumers Against Deceptive Fees began work to “educate” Cleveland residents about the high fees charged by Cleveland Public Power.  This is but a local example of how corporations use nonprofits to shield the movement of political money in Ohio used to influence outcomes favoring corporations.  Let's face it folks, we're a CORPTOCRACY, largely ruled and influenced by their interests.  We know according to state records, tax filings and campaign finance reports Partners for Progress received $20 million from First Energy.  We also know as a result of the FBI's investigation of the Householder scandal that the funds Partners for Progress was holding eventually went to Consumers Against Deceptive Fees inthe amount of $200,000.  Additional money flowed into the nonprofit totaling more than a half million dollars with many of the sources still unknown, but we can guess.  Who would benefit selling electricity to the residents of Cleveland?  The contentious past relationship between Cleveland Public Power and First Energy is well known and appears to be ongoing.  If the FBI had not launched an investigation into the Householder situation we would still likely be in the dark.


Greg Coleridge    Cleveland Democracy Day Public Hearing 2021    62:59

Outreach Director, National Move to Amend Coalition

Corporations are not people and money is not speech are the two constitutional doctrines at root of the Cleveland initiative enacted in 2016. The same is true of the 704 other communities, 7 states and over 600 organizations that have taken formal positions supporting the Move to Amend initiative -- in addition to the 480,000 individuals who've signed a petition.

The We the People Amendment (HJR 48), which would abolish both of these bizarre doctrines, is more than simply overturning Citizens United and more than simply ending money as free speech. It includes ending all forms of corporate constitutional rights.

Without abolishing all corporate constitutional rights -- not simply political free speech rights -- this is what could happen. Four examples.

  1. Efforts by Cleveland city council or residents to, say, require a lawn care company to require the disclosure of specific toxic chemicals used on city or private properties could be challenged in court as a violation of that corporation's First Amendment right NOT to speak.
  2. Efforts by Cleveland city council or residents to require city inspection of a corporation to protect workers or the environment could be challenged in court as a violation of that corporation's Fourth Amendment privacy rights.
  3. Efforts by Cleveland city council or residents to protect homeowners from a company digging or drilling under private homeowners could be challenged in court as a violation of that corporation's Fifth Amendment takings rights to lost future profits.
  4. Efforts by Cleveland city council or residents to provide preferential treatment of locally owned businesses over a chain store that send profits outside the community could be challenged in court as a violation of that corporation's Fourteenth Amendment equal protection rights. FYI, the 14th Amendment was intended solely to protect freed slaves.

These examples of corporate hijacking of Constitutional Amendments intended exclusively for human beings doesn't includes the scores of times corporate entities have abused the Constitution's Commerce Clause to support corporate interests over the police powers of communities to protect the health, safety and welfare of residents.

My dad build an addition to our house pretty much all by himself. He said when doing so it was essential when planning each task to make sure the tools, material, time and energy were proportionate in scale to what was needed. Pouring 3 inches of a concrete base when 6 was required, using 2 by 2 inch lumber when 2 by 8’s were needed and pounding 1 inch nails when 2 inch nails were called for may look like a job well done, but if the thickness, width and length of materials didn't match the needed scale and proportion, the house would eventually crack, if not crumble.

The same goes for democracy. Believing we can create authentic democracy by simply or solely electing better representatives, passing the For the People Act (HR1) or having better regulations of political campaign spending or corporate harms is equivalent to insufficient thickness, width or length in building materials. They all may seem right, but aren't nearly enough in scale or proportion to address the fundamental, if not existential, crises we face -- political, economic and ecological.

We can't afford to be small when massive changes are needed to address massive systemic problems.

Only the We the People Amendment HJR 48 nails it.

Thank you.

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