For immediate release, March 23, 2023
Contacts: Greg Coleridge, [email protected], 216-255-2184 | Dennis Slotnick, [email protected], 419-704-1863 | Brad Deane, [email protected], 440-488-1109 | Madelon Watts, [email protected], 216-291-4450 | Robert S. Belovich, [email protected], 440-503-8770
Citizens Testify at Local Public Hearings in Ohio to End Corrupt Elections and Corporate Rule
Twelve public hearings are taking place in Ohio this year on the corruption resulting from the explosion of money spent in political elections and multiple harms due to increasing corporate power to influence elections and public policies.
The hearings are a result of citizen-driven ballot initiatives organized by supporters of the national Move to Amend Coalition working to pass the We the People Amendment (HJR48), introduced again this year in the U.S. House of Representatives by Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D, WA).
The ballot initiatives called for municipalities to inform federal and state officials representing their municipalities that citizens support an Amendment to the U.S. Constitution establishing that a corporation is not a person and political money spent in elections is not equivalent to First Amendment-protected free speech. The ballot initiatives also mandated municipalities to send to those same representatives a summary of testimony presented at an annual or biennial municipal-sponsored “Democracy Day” public hearings. All 12 communities that organized successful ballot initiatives have hearings this year, 11 sponsored by municipalities.
The 12 communities with public hearings from February to September are Defiance, Mentor, Chagrin Falls, Painesville, Toledo, Brecksville, South Euclid, Cleveland, Cleveland Heights, Shaker Heights, Newburgh Heights and Kent.
Seven hundred communities and eight states across the country have passed municipal resolutions and ballot initiatives since the 2010 Supreme Court Citizens United decision calling on Congress to pass a Constitutional Amendment to abolish corporate constitutional rights and money defined as free speech. In addition to the 12 Ohio communities that organized ballot initiatives beginning in 2012, 14 Ohio localities have passed municipal resolutions. These include Athens, Oberlin, Barberton, Fremont, Lakewood, South Euclid, Dayton, Canton, Oxford, Lorain, Bedford Heights, Oakwood Village, Tallmadge, University Heights.
“People across our state and nation are increasingly aware of and working to resist the corruption of big money in politics and unaccountable power of corporations over literally every aspect of our lives,” said Greg Coleridge, Move to Amend National Co-Director and Cleveland Heights resident. “These public hearings are opportunities to not only oppose these developments, but to advocate for a fundamental solution to increase people power: enactment of the We the People Amendment that affirms the rights protected by the Constitution are rights intended only for human persons, not corporations, and that money spent in elections is not free speech and can be publicly regulated.”
"In Ohio we are directly witnessing catastrophic malfeasance by corporate profit interests: animal factory farm waste into lake Erie, toxic train wreck in East Palestine, massive corrupted buyout of Ohio elected officials in Energy policy with HR 6 and First Energy corrupting the Ohio House leadership. It’s time to end this with one single constitutional amendment,” stated Dennis Slotnick, coordinator of the Toledo Democracy Day hearing. "This year, presentations will include, but are not limited to: The climate crisis, healthcare as a human right, voter suppression, a clean and healthy Lake Erie, statewide energy policy, CAFOs & watershed management, jobs with Justice and labor interests as each relates to a corporation is not a person and money is not the same as free speech."
“We urgently need the We the People amendment to take back the power and ‘rights’ our government have bestowed on corporations. Most Americans simply don't realize the power corporations now wield over our health, safety, and public welfare. Nor do we understand the severe consequences of corporations having the Constitutional rights of citizens. The We the People amendment will return Constitutional power and ‘rights’ to the American people not just to the moneyed interests,” stated South Euclid Democracy Day public hearing organizer Madelon Watts.
"Democracy Day is important as we need to call attention to the solution to the problem of powerful unaccountable for profit interests, dominating our public discourse by polluting our politics and airwaves with destructive disinformation designed to divide and confuse our citizens,” said Painesville Democracy Day co-coordinator Brad Deane. “Their power is fueled by unchecked, unlimited, and unknown donations to an increasingly disconnected political class. We will only overcome this oppressive power by declaring corporations are not people and money is not speech. Thus, removing the shield and fuel from those who seek to unjustly dominate our democracy.”
"Brecksville voters enacted an ordinance to create a Democracy day in 2012. The ordinance provides for public hearings for citizens to express their thoughts on the influence of money in politics," stated Brecksville Democracy Day coordinator Robert S. Belovich. "This year the City administration refused to sponsor Democracy Day. Nevertheless Brecksville Citizens for Transparent Politics have picked up the ball and are providing a public hearing. All are welcome."
Move to Amend Ohio Democracy Day Public Hearings
Defiance (Initiative passed in 2013 by 67%)
February 9, 7 pm | Defiance City Hall
Recording at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GToGp15IxC4
Letter to editor, https://www.crescent-news.com/opinion/letters_to_editor/letters-to-the-editor/article_814aa644-b635-11ed-9417-4342250cd545.html
Contact: Dolores Whitman, [email protected], 419-633-9031
Mentor (Initiative passed in 2014 by 70%)
February 15, 5:30 pm | Mentor Municipal Center, Council Chambers
Contact: Dave Lima, [email protected], 440-220-0204
Chagrin Falls (Initiative passed in 2014 by 66%)
Wednesday, March 1, 7 pm | Chagrin Falls Township Hall
Contact Becky Thomas, [email protected], 440-247-6878
Toledo (Initiative passed in 2016 by 64%)
Thursday, March 23, 5 pm, Toledo City Hall
Contact: Dennis Slotnick, [email protected], 419-704-1863
Painesville (Initiative passed in 2020 by 78%)
Monday, April 3, 2023, 5:30 pm | City Hall, Municipal Court Room #1, 7 Richmond Street,
Contact: Brad Deane, [email protected], 440-488-1109
South Euclid (Initiative passed in 2016 by 77%)
Tuesday, May 2, 6:30 pm | S Euclid Community Center, 1370 Victory Dr, S.
Contact: Madelon Watts, [email protected], 216-291-4450
Cleveland (Initiative approved in 2016 by City Council following submission of 9000+ petition signatures))
May 8 (tentative), 5 pm | Cleveland City Hall
Contact: Steve Norris, [email protected], 440-532-0962
Brecksville (Initiative passed in 2012 by 52%)
Wednesday, May 10, 7 pm | Brecksville Community Center
Sponsored by Brecksville Citizens for Transparent Politics
Contact: Robert S. Belovich, [email protected], 440-503-8770
Cleveland Heights (Initiative passed in 2013 by 77%)
Wednesday, June 7, 7 pm (tentative) | Cleveland Hts City Hall
Contact: Carla Rautenberg, [email protected], 216-224-7679
Shaker Heights (Initiative passed in 2016 by 82%)
Monday, September 11, 2023 | Shaker Heights City Hall
Kent (Initiative passed in 2015 by 64%)
September | Kent City Council
Contact: William Wilen, [email protected], (330) 608-2553
Newburgh Heights (Initiative passed in 2012 by 73%)