On July 1, an initiative petition was presented to Cleveland Heights City Council by the local affiliate of Move to Amend Error! Hyperlink reference not valid. Move to Amend is a national grass-roots movement which seeks a city-by-city, state-by-state demonstration to the U.S. Congress of the need for a Constitutional Amendment to reverse the Citizens United decision of January 2010 and end the legal doctrines that corporations are people and money is speech. That decision of the U.S. Supreme Court opened the floodgates to money from corporate entities into the election process, seriously compromising the voice of “We the People.”
Over 3,000 signatures were gathered from enthusiastic Cleveland Heights residents between November 2012 and July 2013. Many of these were gathered because of the generosity and community spirit of two local businesses. Those who circulated petitions were welcomed to the entrance area and parking lot of Zagara’s Marketplace for several weekends, and Mac’s Backs on Coventry also gave significant support to our campaign.
In fact, speaking as one petitioner, I strongly doubt that our group could have accomplished our goal without the willingness of these businesses to permit us on their property. While we did petition door-to-door, it was time-consuming and yielded many fewer signatures per hour than meeting our fellow Zagara’s and Mac’s Backs shoppers to ask for their signatures.
By contrast, when I attempted to gather signatures at Cain Park while buying my season’s tickets to its events, I was told I “cannot do that here” by an employee. I was surprised since it seemed to me that I was engaged in practicing democracy, which I take to be a civic benefit, and as a taxpayer, also paying for such city facilities.
The older I get, the stranger things become. Businesses encourage democratic participation in the electoral process while my city government prohibits the same.
A hearty “Thank you!” to John Zagara and Susan De Geatano, whose companies once again show their civic spirit. I hope Zagara’s shoppers will remember that when they may be enticed by the coming South Euclid Walmart. Support local independent business. Shop Zagara’s and Mac’s Backs.