Cleveland Democracy Activists Petition City to Call for Abolishing Corporate Personhood and Money as Speech

 Patricia J. Britt, Clerk of Council with Cleveland Move to Amend members Lois Romanoff, Diane Karpinski, and Chris Stocking.
July 6, 2016

[CLEVELAND, OHIO] Representatives from Cleveland Move to Amend (MTA) submitted a citizen initiative petition today to the City of Cleveland containing 8906 signatures. The initiative would create a city Ordinance calling on the United States Congress to introduce a Constitutional Amendment declaring that only human beings, not corporate entities, possess constitutional rights and that money is not speech and can be regulated in political elections. The Ordinance would also establish a city-sponsored biennial public hearing on these topics.

Five thousand valid signatures are needed for the measure to be formally considered by Cleveland City Council. Cleveland MTA organizers hope the initiative will be placed on this November’s ballot.

Move to Amend is a non-partisan national coalition of organizations and individuals who are working together to end corporate personhood and demand real democracy.

“The disastrous Citizens United ruling establishing that money is speech was built on past decisions that corporations are entitled to freedom of speech,” said Chris Stocking, Cleveland Move to Amend co-chair. “Move to Amend seeks to reverse these rulings by clearly establishing that money is not speech and can be regulated in political campaigns but also that only people, not corporations, have constitutional rights such as freedom of speech to begin with. Democracy means the people rule and that's what Move to Amend is all about. From ending chattel slavery to women's suffrage, politicians always had to be pressured to do the right thing and that's the kind of grassroots change Move to Amend seeks to bring about.”

“People thanked me repeatedly, as they signed my petition, for trying to end corporate rule,“ said Lois Romanoff, co-chair of Cleveland Move to Amend. ”One woman said angrily, ‘What do you mean corporations have freedom of speech!’ and went off to start a Move To Amend effort in her community.”

More than 650 communities nationwide have called on Congress to introduce such a Constitutional Amendment — either by council resolution or ballot measure, including 20 Ohio communities. MTA council resolutions in Ohio have been passed, to date, in Athens, Oberlin, Barberton, Fremont, Lakewood, South Euclid, Dayton, Canton, Oxford, Lorain, Bedford Heights, and Oakwood Village. MTA ballot measures have been passed by voters thus far in Ohio in Brecksville, Newburgh Heights, Defiance, Cleveland Heights, Chagrin Falls, Mentor, Kent, and Toledo.

The petition was filed with the Clerk of Cleveland City Council. The City has 10 days to validate the signatures. It less than 5000 signatures are valid, the City Charter allows a limited “second round” period to gather additional signatures.

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