Cleveland Hts, OH: Speak up for democracy

Volume 14, Issue 1, Posted 10:47 AM, 01.01.2021

by Deborah Van Kleef and Carla Rautenberg

We imagine everyone will be glad to put 2020 in the rearview mirror. The ugliness of presidential politics, police brutality, and the COVID-19 pandemic have touched us locally and roiled the nation. As we write, not only is President Trump still disputing the election, it appears that Ohio electric ratepayers will be charged an extra $7 per month for the foreseeable future, thanks to our General Assembly’s failure to repeal their utterly corrupt creation, House Bill 6. These are failures, not of democracy, but of governments that serve the power of money, rather than the public interest. 

There will be plenty for citizens to address at Cleveland Heights’ eighth annual Democracy Day on Thursday, Jan. 28, at 7 p.m. For the first time, the public hearing will be virtual, livestreamed on YouTube. Whether as an audience member or a participant, please plan to attend. Do you have something to say about the corrosive effect of corporate power and big money on our democracy? You can speak for up to five minutes (about 500 words). Send your full name, e-mail address, and topic to Carla at [email protected] by Tuesday, Jan. 26, to receive a participants’ link. The link will also be posted on the city calendar.

In 2013, with a 77 percent “yes” vote, Cleveland Heights voters passed a citizens’ initiative calling for a 28th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution to establish that human beings, not corporate entities, have constitutional rights, and that money is not speech. The initiative also created, by city ordinance, an annual public hearing on these topics (Title 15, Chapter 183 of the Administrative code). Eleven other Ohio cities have passed similar initiatives, the most recent being Painesville, last November, with 78 percent voting “yes”. Note Painesville’s location in deep-red Lake County; this is not a partisan issue, and the supporting organization, Move to Amend, is non-partisan.

The 28th Amendment, which so many Ohioans and others across the country have voted to support, is House Joint Resolution 48. Its 75 co-sponsors include Ohio representatives Marcia Fudge, Marcy Kaptur and Tim Ryan.

Here is the full text of the 28th Amendement:

Section 1. The rights protected by the Constitution of the United States are the rights of natural persons only. Artificial entities, such as corporations, limited liability companies, and other entities, established by the laws of any State, the United States, or any foreign state shall have no rights under this Constitution and are subject to regulation by the People, through Federal, State, or local law. The privileges of artificial entities shall be determined by the People, through Federal, State, or local law, and shall not be construed to be inherent or inalienable.

Section 2. Federal, State and local government shall regulate, limit, or prohibit contributions and expenditures, including a candidate’s own contributions and expenditures, to ensure that all citizens, regardless of their economic status, have access to the political process, and that no person gains, as a result of that person’s money, substantially more access or ability to influence in any way the election of any candidate for public office or any ballot measure. Federal, State, and local governments shall require that any permissible contributions and expenditures be publicly disclosed. The judiciary shall not construe the spending of money to influence elections to be speech under the First Amendment.

Section 3. Nothing contained in this amendment shall be construed to abridge the freedom of the press.

If you see a big difference between how government works now, vs. how and for whom it could work following passage of the 28th Amendment, join Cleveland Heights Democracy Day on Jan. 28.