Salt Lake MTA scores victory!

September 3, 2015

        It was a hallelujah moment! After 3 years of riding roller coasters and jumping through hoops, members of Move To Amend Utah stood in the City Council Chambers to witness the signing of a joint resolution between the Mayor of Salt Lake City, Utah and the Salt  Lake City Council. The resolution confirmed the overwhelming position of the people of Salt Lake City in their opposition to corporate personhood as well as to the Supreme Court's "Citizens United" ruling. The date was December 9th, 2014.
         It was a hard won victory .
         Move to Amend (MTA) was brought to Utah by a young firebrand, Ashley Sanders. A Utahn who had initially taken the MTA training in Humboldt County, California, Ashley was/is an enthusiastic, brilliant, people magnet. She organized classes on the insidious history of corporate power. She initiated the campaign that ultimately led us to this victory.
         Because of the importance of educating the public, we decided not to go directly to the SLC Council for a resolution but to get a vote on corporate ‘personhood’ and ‘money is speech’ on the city ballot.
          The beginning of the petition process was October, 2011. Because this had never been done before, there were setbacks. Petitions were finally given to us on February 22, 2012. That was the starting gate/date. In order to get on the 2012 ballot, 7141 signatures (which were 10% of those registered voters who had voted in the previous presidential election) had to be collected by April 15th, 2012.
            Approximately 75 volunteers flooded the parks, shopping areas, meetings, public buildings, etc, gathering what ultimately was 11,400 signatures! On April 15, we collectively biked bag-loads of petition pages to the county clerk’s office. On May 15, 2012, 7242 were verified. We were on the ballot! Or so we thought.
           After a grand victory party, we were informed that the city attorney’s office had "discovered" a fine-print wrinkle in state law.  A citizen’s referendum cannot be on the ballot if it does not result directly in actionable law.
           Several meetings were held with the lawyers and with members of the City Council. It was offered that, given the MTA effort as well as the response from the people, that the City Council would, at a cost of $90,000 from their budget, create an opinion poll, a precedent never before attempted. This was sent out to all registered Salt Lake City voters, on August 31, 2013.
             In October, 2013, The results of the opinion poll were announced. 89% of the voters who returned the opinion poll were opposed to corporate personhood, a stunning victory!
              What happened between that date and the final resolution, drafted by MTA 's Tom Huckin, is not really understood.. New City Council members were being installed, budgets were prioritized, etc. However, with persistence, the resolution was finalized and Salt Lake City joined ¬450 other cities in the US who are voicing opposition to what has been referred to as "arguably the worst decision made in the history of the Supreme Court."
           This marks the end of Phase One of the Move to Amend Utah effort and is the beginning of Phase Two, which seeks an ordinance to disallow contributions by corporations at the city level and limits individual contributions to no more than $500.
Additionally, other counties and cities in Utah are being sought for additional resolutions.
             So we continue to fight the good fight. At stake is democracy, Stay tuned.