Archive for September 2012

TELL JON HUSTED TO LET CITIZENS IN 2 OHIO COMMUNITIES VOTE ON BALLOT MEASURES ADDRESSING CORPORATE PERSONHOOD & MONEY AS SPEECH

09/06/2012


BACKGROUND
Citizens in Brecksville this summer collected more than enough valid signatures on an initiative petition to qualify for this November’s ballot. The citizen initiative calls for: • Creation of one city-sponsored public hearing on a “Democracy Day” every other year to examine the impact of political contributions of corporations, unions, PACS and Super-PACS on the City. • A letter from the Mayor to federal elected officials stating that Brecksville citizens support a constitutional amendment declaring that 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 is not equivalent to limiting political speech.
Meanwhile, Newburgh Heights Village Council voted unanimously this summer in support of an ordinance introduced by the Mayor asking voters to support: • An annual Village-sponsored public hearing on the impact of political contributions by corporations, unions, PACs and Super PACs on the Village. • A written notice from the Mayor be sent every year to their federal elected officials stating that the citizens of the Village support a constitutional amendment declaring that 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 is not equivalent to limiting political speech.
WHAT HAPPENED
On August 28, the Cuyahoga County Board of Election split 2-2 to whether both items should appear on the ballot (both Democrats supported the measures, both Republican opposed them). The tiebreaking vote now rests with Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted. Oddly, the Board lumped both measures together in one vote – even though their exact language, paths to gain ballot access, and opposition to them are different.   The Mayor and Council of Brecksville opposed the citizen initiative — claiming the Ohio constitution restricts municipal initiative powers to only questions which municipalities can control by legislative action. They charge limiting federal campaign spending or amending the U.S. Constitution are not issues the City can control. There was no direct opposition to the Newburgh Hts. ordinance. In fact, the Board several weeks ago approved summary language or their ordinance to appear on the November ballot.
5 TALKING POINTS
Mr. Husted. I urge you to break the tie vote of the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections in support of the citizens of Brecksville and Village of Newburgh Heights who wish to place measures on this November’s ballot.
1. The CENTRAL ISSUE before you is not about whether municipalities can control federal campaign spending or amend the U.S. Constitution. It’s about whether voters can under the Ohio Constitution authorize municipal public officials to (a) hold a public hearing – regardless of the topic, and (b) write a letter to state or federal public officials – regardless of the topic.
2. IT’S STANDARD PRACTICE for municipalities to hold public hearings either during or separate from their regular council meetings. It’s standard practice for councils and mayors to send communications (either in the form of passed resolutions or separate letter by Mayors) calling on state and federal officials to support or oppose a wide range of topics that municipalities have no direct control over – i.e. health care, guns, abortion, labor rights, federal trade agreements, even support for various organizations and groups.
3. The citizen initiative is one of several democratic reforms passed by Ohio voters 100 years ago in 1912 to directly create meaningful laws (i.e. something more significant that determining the state flower or fight song). If citizens can’t authorize public officials to hold one public hearing and write one letter every year or every other year, then a mockery has been made of the intent and spirit of the democratic power vested in voters through the citizen initiative.
4. In the case of Newburgh Heights , their Mayor and Village council unanimously supported placing their ordinance on the ballot. If they had simply passed the measure themselves, it would have been constitutional. But by letting voters decide directly, some charge that it’s unconstitutional! This makes no sense. What does it say about our state and democracy that elected officials have more democratic rights that the citizens who elect them?
5. LET THE PEOPLE DECIDE. Voters and public officials have fulfilled their constitutional duty to qualify these measures for the ballot. Voters should determine the ultimate outcome of these measures.
CONTACT OHIO SECRETARY OF STATE JON HUSTED
Phone: (614) 466-2655, or Toll Free (877) 767-6446)
Email form at http://www.sos.state.oh.us/SOS/agency/about/contactall.aspx

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