A charter initiative is being sought in Kent with the goal of challenging "corporate personhood" locally and nationally by gathering input from city residents during a public hearing each election cycle.
A citizens' group is planning to place the city charter amendment on the ballot through petition initiative. If approved bv voters, the initiative would require Kent City Council to designate a "Democracy Day" during the first week of October each year in which a local, state or national election is held in Kent.
Democracy Day would involve a public hearing sponsored by the city where citizens would discuss corporate influence on city politics by way of campaign contributions.
The charter amendment would require the meeting to be publicized on the city website and in local media. Residents in attendance would be allowed to speak on corporate personhood, money in politics and other related topics for five-minutes each. These remarks would be required to be sent to elected state-level representatives, congressional representative and senators from Ohio.
According to the petition, the letters after each Democracy Day forum would be intended to inform and remind elected leaders that the Kent community rejects the notion that corporations are people and that money can be treated as speech, as the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in its Citizens United decision. The goal of the public hearings is to eventually influence a change in the U.S. Constitution to end these legal concepts.
Kent resident Lee Brooker said the charter amendment is intended in part to serve as a model for other communities while engaging the local residents in an important political conversation.
"There's value in and of itself in Kent's going on record as a progressive community, rejecting the unacceptable notions of corporate personhood and money as speech," Brooker said. "The mandated annual public hearing will also be a valuable event, hopefully involving KSU faculty and students in the discussion, making for a vigorous town and gown event."
Contact this reporter at choward [at] recordpub.com or 330-298-1126