Statewide Public Hearings to be Held on Influence of Money in Elections and Corporate Power

February 4, 2019

For Immediate Release

Contact: Greg Coleridge, 216-255-2184, greg@movetoamend.org/ohio [at] movetoamend.org/

Eleven public hearings will take place across Ohio this year on the growing harms of political money in elections and corporate power to communities, the state and nation.

The municipally sponsored hearings are required following citizen initiative ballot campaigns passed by voters or enacted by municipal councils since 2012.

The initiative petition drives were launched by local organizers connected to the national Move to Amend campaign, which calls for Congress to pass and for states to ratify a 28th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The proposed Move to Amend amendment language on all the enacted initiatives declare "that only human beings, not corporations, are legal persons with constitutional rights, and that money is not equivalent to speech, and therefore regulating political contributions and spending does not equate to limiting political speech." Ballot initiatives are one strategy the national group uses to educate and organize to build a national democratic movement for the constitutional amendment. 

A provision of each of the citizen-initiatives is an annual or biennial city-sponsored public hearing, identified in most communities as "Democracy Day" public hearings, on the impact of corporate personhood and money as speech on the community and its citizens. A summary of each hearing is to be prepared by the municipality and sent to federal and state elected officials.

One of the 11 communities, Cleveland Heights, already held their "Democracy Day" hearing on January 17 at Cleveland Heights City Hall. Twenty people testified at the sixth annual event on various aspects of how laws, regulations and constitutional rights meant to safeguard the health, safety and welfare of individuals and communities have been hijacked by corporations and wealthy individuals to serve their own narrow interests. A summary of presented testimony from that hearing is at https://movetoamend.org/summary-testimony-cleveland-heights-democracy-day

The remaining 10 communities that will hold "Democracy Day" hearings this year, beginning next week, are Mentor, Defiance, Brecksville, South Euclid, Cleveland, Newburgh Heights, Shaker Heights, Toledo, Chagrin Falls and Kent.

Several hundred local communities across the country and sixteen states have passed ballot initiatives with similar constitutional amendment language over the last few years. Ohio is the only state, however, containing the provision mandating municipally sponsored public hearings.

"The perversion of constitutional rights by corporations and expenditures of increasing sums of money in elections are resulting in ever-increasing harms to people, communities, the environment and what remains of our republican form of self-government," said Greg Coleridge, national Outreach Director of Move to Amend, who lives in Cleveland Heights.  "The increasing political and economic power and rights of corporations and the super wealthy to influence not only our elections, but public policies on health care, education, food, jobs, transportation, and the climate have profoundly reduced the rights of We the People to protect the health, safety and welfare of ourselves, families, communities, nation and what remains of the natural world. 'Democracy Day' public hearings are one way in Ohio Move to Amend expands awareness and builds the 'people power' grassroots movement essential to influence our elected officials to pass our constitutional amendment."

Move to Amend supports the We the PeopleAmendment. Sixty-six U.S. Representatives in the last session, including Representatives Marcia Fudge, Marcy Kaptur and Tim Ryan, endorsed the measure. It will shortly be introduced in the new session of congress. A companion Senate version will also be introduced in 2019. The language of the Ohio-enacted initiatives is consistent with the We the People Amendment.

In addition to the 11 Ohio communities that organized successful citizen-initiative ballot initiatives, city or village councils in 11 other Ohio communities since 2012 passed resolutions calling for the same constitutional amendment. These communities include Athens, Oberlin, Lakewood, Bedford Heights, Oakwood Village, Dayton, Barberton, Fremont, S. Euclid, Oxford, Canton and Lorain.

For more information, contact the Ohio Move to Amend Network at ohio [at] movetoamend.org.

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The scheduled dates (to date), times, and locations of each of the public hearings -- along with contact persons and contact information:

 

Cleveland Heights - January 17, 7 pm

City Hall , 40 Severance Cir - Carla Rautenberg, 216-932-5618, Carla [at] Simmertildone.net

 

Mentor - February 6, 6 pm

Municipal Center, 8500 Civic Center Blvd - David Lima, 440-255-4516, davidlima246 [at] gmail.com

Defiance - February 14, 6:30 pm

City Hall , 631 Perry St. - Doloros Whitman,567-239-5903, whitmandb [at] williams-net.com

 

Brecksville - February 26, 7 pm

Human Service Center, 2 Community Dr - Rose Petsche, 216-409-9642, rrpets [at] sbcglobal.net

South Euclid - May 2

City Hall, 1349 S Green Rd - Madelon Watts, 216-291-4450, madelonwatts [at] gmail.com

 

Cleveland - May

City Hall, 601 Lakeside Ave - Lois Romanoff, 216-231-2170, loisromanoff [at] gmail.com

Newburgh Heights – spring

Village Hall, 3801 Harvard Ave - Mayor Trevor Elkins, 216-225-1037, t.elkins [at] newburghhtsoh.gov

 

Toledo – spring

City Hall, 1 Government Center - Tony Szilagye, 419-376-3660 3000aws [at] gmail.com,

Chagrin Falls – spring

Village Hall, 21 W Washington St - Becky Thomas, 440-247-6878, robrebthomas [at] gmail.com

 

Shaker Heights – September 9

City Hall, 3400 Lee Road, Kathy Hazelton, 216-224-4945, kathyhazelton [at] gmail.com

Kent – fall

Kent City Hall, 320 S. Depeyster St. - Bill Wilen, 330-608-2553, wwilen [at] kent.edu

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