Citizens hold power in democracy

May 4, 2017
Carla Rautenberg and Madelon Watts

Letter to the Editor:

Are Ohioans to be punished for behaving like actual citizens? The first three words of the U.S. Constitution are "We the People" – not "we the judges," "we the corporations," or "we the elected officials." In a monarchy, the monarch is sovereign. In a democratic republic, citizens hold the sovereign power. We'd better start acting like it.

In Geauga County, members of Protect Geauga Parks are doing just that. They are battling county Probate Judge Timothy Grendell, who apparently regards himself as a potentate and the Geauga Park District as his personal fiefdom. This affects all of Ohio because due to an unexplained (and inexplicable) act of the state legislature in 1917, one probate judge in each county holds the sole authority to appoint 3-member boards for that county’s park districts. Judge Grendell has abused that privilege by dismissing board members who disagreed with him, eliminating public comments at board meetings, supporting an executive director who refused to respond to written comments and dictating other egregious policies.

Now this: A proposed amendment to the state budget bill would give probate court judges more power over park districts, including the ability to fine or penalize outside groups that ‘interfere’ with a park district’s purpose or mission.

As volunteers with the Move to Amend Ohio Network, a nonpartisan citizens’ group, we seek to lift up the sovereign power of “We the People” by working for the passage of a 28th constitutional amendment stating:
- Only human beings, not corporate entities, are entitled to constitutional rights.
- Money is not equivalent to speech.

We as representatives of Move to Amend Ohio Network, stand with Protect Geauga Park activists as they courageously oppose Judge Grendell’s threats to democracy, and we hope all Ohioans will do so.

Carla Rautenberg, Cleveland Heights AND Madelon Watts, South Euclid

PGP Editor’s Note: On Tuesday, May 2, just prior to the publication of these letters in the Chagrin Valley Times, the Ohio House Finance Committee voted to remove HC 1793, the Grendell-Seitz amendment, from the budget bill. The full story of the House action can be found in previous articles on this website at the links below.

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