DOC meeting 7 p.m. at Wednesday, May 8, at UCM (basement), 18 N. College St., Athens

Some encouraging things:

1. Pennsylvania Court Deals Blow to Secrecy-Obsessed Fracking Industry: Corporations Not The Same As Persons With Privacy Rights (http://www.alternet.org/fracking/pennsylvania-court-deals-blow-secrecy-obsessed-fracking-industry-corporations-not-same).

The judge ordered the opening, i.e., making public, of a settlement between a fracking corporation and a family suffering damages from the fracking. The corporation had insisted that the settlement be kept confidential. This is the way oil & gas corporations suppress information about the harmful effects of fracking. The judge concluded that corporations have no privacy rights under PA law.

She writes, “If businesses had natural rights like people, the chattel would become the co-equal to its owners, the servant on par with its masters, the agent the peer of its principles, and the legal fabrication superior to the law that created and sustains it.”

This will be an opening to crack the secrecy around fracking by permitting scientists and activists to gather more systematically information about the effects of fracking on the environment and public health.

2. The state of Maine became the 13th state to call for a constitutional amendment to reverse the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision and permit legislatures to regulate and limit campaign expenditures. (http://www.mainelegislature.org/legis/bills/bills_126th/billtexts/SP054801.asp)

The list of discouraging things is unfortunately longer. There is much work to do. Someone pointed out that George Washington didn’t actually win any battles until the end of the war. We have to keep up our efforts.

Agenda

1. Update on the Bill of Rights campaign – Dick McGinn
2. Proposal for a 6 month schedule of programs including DOC meetings and public meetings sponsored by DOC – John Howell
3. Proposal for collating information from various economic areas, information which illustrates the need for a constitutional amendment to limit human rights to humans and restore the ability of “We the People” through our elected representatives to regulate campaign spending.
3. Other updates, issues and announcements from people in the group
4. A video on banking (time permitting)
See you at the meeting.

John

P.S. The notes from the Steering Committee are below. They flesh out items 2 and 3 above .

Notes from the Doc Steering Committee Meeting 4/20/13 1:30 p.m. at the Athens Public Library
Gini Coover, Dick McGinn, Richard Hogan, Greg Howard, Joann Dodd, John Howell
 General discussion
1. Greg told us about Allan Savory’s TED talk in which he argues that desertification and climate change can be reversed by heavy grazing (rotated) mimicking natural conditions
2. Dick posed the question as to why is it that the Supreme Court has final say in government decision-making(called judicial review), as in deciding the Bush–Gore contested election.
3. Dick suggested pursuing the use of home rule in Athens to address issues like healthcare and escalating utility costs, emphasizing local and regional steps that can be taken – imagining what “the republic of Athens” could do to address any particular issue.
4. Richard suggested the Transition Town model as appropriate for what we are trying to do. (See http://www.transitionnetwork.org/)
A proposal regarding structure of DOC meetings – John

1. As part of the education portion of our meetings over the next few months we accumulate a list of court cases and legislative actions at federal or state levels that illustrate why the corporate role in government decision-making must be checked. Here are some examples:
1) the court decision to strike down the Vermont law requiring the dairy industry to label its products as to reveal that the dairy animals had been treated with hormones to boost production, (based on free speech for corporations to limit information to the public)
2) the AgGag acts pushed by ALEC in states to prevent photojournalists from taking picturea in meat processing facilities to show how animals are handled (restricting the press so as to limit information to which the public has access).
3) the PA law that required challenges to permits released by the EPA for commercial enterprises like drilling or factory farms to be filed by lawyers (so private citizens of small towns couldn’t challenge these permits).
4) Repeal of the federal Glass-Steagall Act, passed in 1933 after the stock market crash, the act which required investment banking to be kept separate from commercial banking (to protect people’s savings from being jeopardized by banks using them for high risk investments).

These lists are then to be made available to present to the public, asking in each case,
Is this fair? Is this in the public interest? What needs to be done to change the situation? Constitutional amendment? Legislative action? Protests? Other? This builds the case for amendment.

2. John also proposed setting up a schedule of topics for the meetings for the next 6 months. Identifying the topic and a DOC member to leadership for the meeting, and, where appropriate the name of someone from outside of DOC to be invited to participate in the discussion.

Gini pointed out that it will be important to make clear to invited guest speakers that it is not sufficient to tell people how bad things are; people must also be given a way to change things.

Recommendations – (not written in stone!)
1. The May meeting will be a primarily a planning meeting to put these ideas into action.
A short video on monetary policy; making better use of media outlets; consideration of the schedule suggested below
2. The June meeting will be on energy and the environment. Names of people to invite were put forward, e.g., William Beale, Greg Kremer, Izzi Urieli. Could a local plan for sustainable energy be generated?
3. July – Topic will be agriculture. Greg Howard will host. Rich Tomsu was mentioned as someone to consider inviting.
4. August – Monetary – John Howell, host
5. September – Political front, home rule, local solutions – Dick McGinn, host.
6. October – Healthcare

Additional activities possible
A panel discussion of monetary policy – in the fall?
A CELDF Democracy School

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