Record Courier / Kent, Ohio / Sept 25, 2022
Democracy Day public hearing
Our election system is broken because of the destructive influences of money in politics and the misguided notion that corporations may claim constitutional rights. With these rights, they are able to spend tremendous amounts of dark money through organizations and PACs to support the candidates who will serve their needs. And their primary need is profit. While profits are essential in a capitalist system, the needs of “we the people” should be primary since we are also a democracy.Read more
DEMOCRACY DAY FOR “WE THE PEOPLE”
FirstEnergy’s headquarters in Akron. Source: Google Maps.
August 23, 2022
Presentation by and discussion with Dennis Kucinich
Former Mayor of Cleveland, Ohio State Senator, U.S. Congressperson and Presidential Candidate
Author of The Division of Light and Power
Sponsored by Ohio Move to Amend
This was part of the "testimony" presented at the Cleveland Heights Democracy Day Public Hearing on June 9, 2022
Ohio’s history is not just about “the mother of Presidents”, where and when its wartime battles took place, or which Ohioans flew into space. Its hidden part is the story of the struggles of the many people who sought to amake the basic decisions affecting their own lives free from external control. It’s also the story of the few who imposed control over Ohio’s majority of people and resources using the business corporation as their primary vehicle. These stories are enormously relevant today. The first seven questions and answers below are excerpted from Citizens over Corporations: A Brief History of Democracy in Ohio and Challenges to Freedom in the Future, available from [email protected]Read more
Public Hearing hosted by Cleveland Heights City Council and also livestreamed on June 9, 2022
[click on image to watch the hearing]
It was announced that U.S. House Joint Resolution 48, “Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the United States providing that the rights extended by the Constitution are the rights of natural persons only,” and also establishing that money is not speech, has attained 94 co-sponsors in 117th Congress, an all-time high. Members of the Ohio Congressional delegation Marcy Kaptur and Tim Ryan are co-sponsors. Cleveland Heights and other 11th district citizens who have been actively lobbying Rep. Shontel Brown to co-sponsor hope that she will do so soon.Read more
May 29th, 2022 Show
The Ohio Advocate
Matt and Justin give an update on the redistricting battle in Ohio, and discuss Starbucks unionization efforts, police surveillance networks, the fight to get marijuana legalization on the ballot this year, and issues with Youngstown's water meters.
Kathleen Caffrey interviews Greg Coleridge from Move to Amend Ohio about their efforts to reduce the effect of money in politics, and their current fight to revoke FirstEnergy's corporate charter.
Introduction to Newburgh Heights Democracy Day
Carla Rautenberg, Cleveland Heights
Good evening. It’s a privilege to be here in Newburgh Heights for your 2022 Democracy Day public hearing. Thank you, Councilwoman Traore, City Council members and Mayor Elkins, for inviting members of Cleveland area Move to Amend chapters to attend tonight.
As some of you know, but others may not, the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision of 2010 led to a national movement to take back the U.S. Constitution after it was usurped by the twin demons of corporate personhood and money being considered free speech. The national, non-partisan organization leading that movement is called Move to Amend. We have proposed, and convinced Congress members to co-sponsor, House Joint Resolution 48, which supports the We The People amendment to the U.S. Constitution. It essentially states that 1. Corporate entities are not people and therefore cannot have constitutional rights and 2. Money does not equal free speech. This message resonates with citizens across political boundaries and across the country.
Newburgh Heights joined this movement early on. In 2012, Brecksville and Newburgh Heights were the first two cities in Ohio whose citizens voted for ballot issues declaring support for such a constitutional amendment! The issue you and your fellow Newburgh Heights citizens passed—by a 73% yes vote! – is an ordinance declaring support for the We the People Amendment. It also established regular public hearings like this one, informally called Democracy Days, at which citizens can testify to the harms caused by corporations having never-intended constitutional rights, and by money being considered free speech.
As trend-setters, you should be very proud because since then, Ohio voters have passed ballot initiatives similar to yours in:
Defiance and Cleveland Heights, in 2013
Chagrin Falls and Mentor, in 2014
Kent, in 2015
Toledo, South Euclid and Shaker Heights, all in 2016
and Painesville, in 2020
In 2016, the City of Cleveland passed an ordinance supporting the We the People Amendment and establishing biannual Democracy Days for 10 years. In addition, 12 Ohio city governments have passed resolutions calling on Congress to introduce the We the People Amendment. Because of all this support in her Congressional district, we were able to persuade Rep. Marcia Fudge to co-sponsor HJR-48 in the 116th and 117th Congresses. We are lobbying Rep. Shontel Brown to follow in her mentor’s footsteps and do the same. 90 co-sponsors have now joined the lead sponsor, Rep. Pramila Jayapal of Washington state.
Meanwhile, we are wondering: how can First Energy be allowed to stay in business after it paid $60 million to Ohio legislators to directly defraud all of us – Ohio taxpayers? You might think the Ohio Constitution offers no remedy for this, but it specifically provides for revoking the charter of a corporation that acts beyond its authority. Bribery and money laundering certainly qualify. So Ohio Move to Amend is asking CAN WE PULL THE PLUG ON FIRST ENERGY? We will hold a virtual forum on this topic on Saturday, May 14 at 10:00 a.m. in order to explore:
- Could we do it? If so, how?
- Is it even a good idea?
- Without First Energy, where and how could we get our electricity?
- Any other implications?
We’ll pass around a sign-up sheet for those who would like more information about this, and/or our other activities.
You may have heard various politicians talk about passing legislation to deal with corporate power or money in politics. That won’t do it. Any laws attempting fundamental reform of the U.S. political system can and will be ruled unconstitutional. The Supreme Court precedents began way before Citizens United in 2010 and in fact date back to 1886!
Only passing a constitutional amendment like U.S. HJR-48 will allow us to reclaim our government from the control of multi-national corporations and wealthy individuals.
Now, my colleague David Berenson and I would like to share a little 5-minute skit about corporate personhood we hope you will enjoy.Read more
Remarks by Greg Coleridge
January 3, 2022
State of Ohio
Subject: Charter Revocation of FirstEnergy Corporation
Attorney General Yost,
We call on you to commence the revocation of the charter of FirstEnergy Corporation, a legal creation licensed in the State of Ohio by bringing an action in quo warranto as provided by Ohio Revised Code § 2733.02 to § 2733.39.Read more
by Mike Ferner | March 30, 2022
Why are we here today?
The short answer is that in 2014, Toledo’s Move to Amend chapter collected 10,000 signatures, led by the tireless Doug Jambard-Sweet, to place an initiative on the 2015 ballot. It passed overwhelmingly and did two things:
- First, Toledo joined over 600 towns and cities telling Congress to pass an amendment to remove constitutional protections like free speech and equal protection from corporations and rule that money is not the same thing as speech.
- Second, it established Democracy Day in Toledo – something that was a first among cities endorsing the amendment
The longer answer is from a special page in Toledo history.
Our Waite High School was named after a Chief Justice of the Supreme Court and Toledo attorney, Morrison R. Waite, appointed by his fellow Ohioan, President Grant.
Just like Amazon and other trillion-dollar corporations of today, after the Civil War, railroads were the Big Kahunas…so much so that a majority of Supreme Court justices were railroad attorneys or directors, including Waite himself.
Flush with war profits, railroads tried repeatedly to win constitutional protections intended for human beings, but state and federal courts swatted them away, insisting that corporations were paper creations of state legislatures and not entitled to any rights beyond those lawmakers wished to extend.
In 1886, Southern Pacific Railroad appealed a taxation decision by Santa Clara County, California, claiming a violation of equal protection under the 14th Amendment. This time Waite and his court agreed, opening the floodgates.
We should note that the 14th Amendment was ratified in 1868 to protect the rights of newly freed slaves. But as Justice Hugo Black wrote, 50 years after its adoption, “Of the cases in this court in which the 14th Amendment was applied…less than one half of one percent invoked it in protection of the Negro race, and more than fifty percent asked that its benefits be extended to corporations.” And that, if we needed it, is proof that enough money will buy clever enough attorneys.
After Santa Clara, corporate attorneys won other protections meant for people, such as the 4th Amendment, so they could refuse government demands for documents or OSHA inspectors without a warrant; like the 1st Amendment, as recently as the late 1960’s, early 1970’s and up to Citizens United in 2010, all of which equated money with speech, allowing nearly unlimited corporate influence over elections…to say nothing of the unlimited “free speech accounts” of Raytheon, Boeing and Lockheed-Martin corporation lobbyists who know better than anyone that even losing wars make money.
For decades, battles raged in legislatures and courtrooms to determine if corporations would remain subservient to the public. People expected their public officials to do so and when they did, they generated decisions like this one in a case brought by Ohio’s Attorney General against a company that wanted to put lord-knew-what into margarine and sell it in stores. The Ohio Supreme Court revoked the company’s charter and wrote:
(Monnett vs Capital City Dairy Co.)
"...It could not have been the intent of the general assembly, in enacting laws permitting the formation of corporations, to give them power to override the state...The time has not yet arrived when the created is greater than the creator....In the present case the acts of the defendant have been persistent, defiant and flagrant, and no other course is left to the court than to enter a judgment of ouster (of the company charter) and to appoint trustees to wind up the business of the concern."
In a local example from 1992, Toledo City Council placed proposed charter revisions on the ballot to establish districts and eliminate the city manager position. From where you’re sitting, I also proposed a limitation on campaign contributions, and received my first lesson on the Buckley v Valeo decision that struck down the ability of government to do that.
Corporations use constitutional protections to force local governments to accept toxic waste dumps or big box chain stores, or the transport of radioactive waste, or to deny the 60% of Toledo voters who approved the Lake Erie Bill of Rights. Law Director Dale Emch could give you many more examples of what’s politely called federal preemption.
By the mid-90’s, a few environmental activists realized we were getting nowhere fast. We might win a limited victory over some single harm, but corporations’ power never lessened. Their political power increased with their economic power.
We needed to think and organize differently. The regulatory agencies set up through the 20th century were there to regulate citizens, not corporations.
So, we decided to learn how corporations came to rule. Led by a visionary researcher and activist, Richard Grossman, a number of us formed the Program on Corporations, Law and Democracy.
That spun off the Community Environmental and Legal Defense Fund, which began by organizing against a Pennsylvania hog feeding factory – not on narrow EPA or zoning regulations, but by asserting a township’s right to determine what kind of industry it would accept. That led to international organizing for the rights of nature which continues to this day.
Also spun off of Grossman’s work was Move to Amend, which brings us to today’s hearing.
Move to Amend’s goal – to strip corporations of constitutional protections and rule that money is not speech is now House Joint Resolution 48, with ninety co-sponsors in the U.S. house, including Marcy Kaptur and Cleveland’s Tim Ryan.
Today, we celebrate the opportunity voters created to learn from history, discuss what corporate rule means today and think about how we can use the power of democracy to create the kind of life we and the planet deserve while there’s still time.