Thanks to fellow citizens who have exercised their First Amendment right "to petition the
government for a redress of grievances," the voters of Chagrin Falls and Gates Mills at
least will get to exercise their First Amendment right to freedom of expression on
Election Day. And that's exactly what they ought to do -- loud and clear.
It doesn't mean the federal and state governments, which have become more beholden
to corporate interests than to "government of the people, by the people, for the people,"
will listen. For too many politicians, money speaks louder than words.
That is precisely what Issue 34 on the Chagrin Falls ballot, titled, "Political influence by
corporate entities," addresses. Initiated by the group Move to Amend Chagrin Falls, it
calls for an "amendment to the U.S. Constitution declaring that only human beings, not
corporations, are legal persons with constitutional rights and that money is not the
equivalent of speech."
This national movement, which is born from the reactionary U.S. Supreme Court bare majority
ruling in the 2010 Citizens United case, seeks to restore the true meanings of
speech, personhood and democracy to governance of the United States. Real citizens
in Chagrin Falls can join others across the country in sending a message to political
leaders this Election Day, and they should toss those who refuse to listen out of office in
Downstream in the Chagrin Valley, an initiative petition by the group Citizens for the
Preservation of Gates Mills has advanced Issue 51 to the ballot in an effort to amend
the village charter to include a "community bill of rights." It seeks to restore the 1912
home-rule amendment to the Ohio Constitution that was usurped in 2004, when
legislators, induced by campaign contributions from the oil and gas industry, passed
Ohio House Bill 278.
By joining citizens in Broadview Heights, Mansfield and other Ohio communities, Gates
Mills voters have the opportunity this Election Day to send a message to political
leaders that conservative values like municipal home rule need to be protected, not
According to the proposed Gates Mills bill of rights, governments exist to "secure and
protect the rights of people and communities," and "any system of government which
becomes destructive to those ends is not legitimate, lawful or constitutional."
Actually, such basic tenets of American democracy should go without saying.
Unfortunately, the forces working against the people's constitutional rights need a firm
reminder. Are the citizens of Chagrin Falls and Gates Mills up to that challenge?