End Corporate Rule working group report, 5/16/12
We met on 5/10 with the DACMA-west group to check in on signature-gathering and agreed to meet again an hour before Paul Cienfuegos’ talk on 5/15. On 5/15 we met and tallied signatures gathered in our district: we have about 170 so far. More sheets were duplicated and passed out for use in gathering signatures.
The website 2012ballot.com was developed further in order to be useful to those helping with signature-gathering for the ballot petition.
Several of us attended the talk by Paul Cienfuegos in Northampton which was put on by the Unitarian Occupy group (providing the space), Shays2, and our Occupy Amherst group. The donations there were roughly enough to pay the amount agreed beforehand to Paul.
A DVD, “Reclaiming Democracy: How Communities are Saying NO to Corporate Rights and Recognizing the Rights of Nature” was bought and we anticipate showing it in a public viewing in Amherst at a time and place to be determined later. It follows on the theme of Paul Cienfuegos and the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF.org)
End Corporate Rule working group report, 5/10/12
We attended the meeting on 5/2 of those working on the ballot initiative. The group is the western Massachusetts chapter of DACMA, the “Democracy Amendment Coalition of Massachusetts” which is a coalition of many groups working for an amendment. At this meeting, the group decided to affiliate with Move to Amend. Our OA working group seems to be a very important component of this DACMA-West group, perhaps even a dominant part of it.
We created a website 2012ballot.org which describes the effort to put a public policy question (PPQ) on the November ballot so that voters can express themselves on the need for a Constitutional amendment declaring that corporations are not entitled to the constitutional rights of humans, and that money is not “speech.” The purpose is for voters to put pressure on the state legislators to push for an amendment.
We put on the website the pdf’s for printing the state-required forms for signatures to be gathered for the PPQ, along with explicit directions on how the form is to be used to gather the signatures required, 1200 certified signatures per state senatorial district.
We arranged a meeting with Mark Hays, a state-wide coordinator with Public Citizen, to talk with us (and others we have invited) about efforts to have Massachusetts legislators call for a Constitutional amendment, these efforts being town meeting resolutions, our PPQ ballot campaign, and public education. This meeting will be 3-5pm in the Glass Room of the Bangs Center in Amherst, on Friday May 11. All people interested are welcome to attend.
End Corporate Rule working group report, 5/2/12
- With Carolyn Oppenheim of Shays2, and Paul Cienfuegos, we arranged Paul’s talk on May 15, and his workshop on May 20. Details of these are on line, for May 15 here and May 20 here. The Workshop is from 3 to 6 in the Amherst Congregational Church. The “fee” was negotiated to be a donation at the door, unspecified for his talk on the 15th and suggested as $10 for the workshop. Flyers for both events were prepared for distribution. They were passed out at the Jobs With Justice May Day event. Occupy Amherst was listed as a cosponsor of both events.
- We arranged a meeting with a senior organizer and Massachusetts coordinator Mark Hays of Public Citizen, for 3-5pm on Friday May 11, in the Glass Room of the Bangs Center, to talk with us and a few others about the Amendment campaign.
End Corporate Rule working group report, 4/24/12
- We had a very successful presentation with John Bonifaz speaking about the need for a Constitutional Amendment. He laid out the history of how we got to this place as the result of Supreme Court decisions in the past, and of its recent Citizens United decision. It was a very interesting and compelling talk. The talk was recorded and we will get it on the OA website soon. (See #3 below.)
- We have been in talks with Carolyn Oppenheim and Paul Cienfuegos about the possibility of using the 3-5pm Sunday May 20 time – normally an “Occupy Conversation” time – for a workshop to take the ideas he promotes, on Rights Based Activism, into action. We will ask the GA on April 25 whether they would agree to this modification of schedule. No other time, during Paul’s trip here from the west coast, is available for a workshop. (See #6 below.)
- We have made a connection with people working on the Amendment issue in Eastern Massachusetts and have obtained information needed for local “public policy questions” to be placed on local ballots, where people could vote on them in November, to ask our state legislators to push for a US Constitutional Amendment. (See #5 below.)
- On behalf of Occupy Amherst we endorsed the group Move to Amend. (see #9 below.)
- Roger tested his little projector and the internet connection in “our” room at Bangs to see if they could connect and project the Democracy School material. Probably OK. (See #7 below.)
- Other items in the 4/16/12 report below are still live topics but there is no action on them to report.
- We have continued to work on, organize, and embellish our website ( http://justiceandpeace.net/ecr.html ) which has many Resources on the effort to reverse “Citizens United” with a 28th Amendment, and more broadly to End Corporate Rule.
- We continue to work with a coalition containing ourselves, the Shays2 organization (which has worked on ending corporate rule for many years), and some others, to promote a Constitutional Amendment which would reverse some of the damage caused by the Supreme Court’s “Citizens United” decision, and move toward routlawing the current unlimited corporate spending on elections. The effort of this coalition is to get a “public policy question” on the November ballot, and we have been working on the wording for this question.
- We have arranged for a talk by John Bonifaz, co-founder and Director of Free Speech for People, in Amherst on April 23, titled “We the People, or We the Corporations?” You can see the flyer for this event at http://www.westernmassafsc.org/calendar/bonifaz423b.pdf
- About half of our working group attended the “99% Spring” training in nonviolence and people power, offered in Amherst.
- At that training we took part in a group meeting enthusiastically interested in the ballot initiative of (2) above, and collected about ten names of people willing to work with us and the coalition to move it forward, when many signatures have to be collected.
- With Shays2 we are involved with a talk by Paul Cienfuegos (read about him, and hear his talks, on our Resources page mentioned in (1) above ) on May 15, and quite possibly we will be organizing a “workshop” with Paul during his stay in our region, May 15-20. More about that when information becomes available.
- We are quite interested in offering “Democracy Schools” probably in the room where OA meets, breaking the 4 hours of video into perhaps two or three sessions with discussion of the issues. Deborah may be willing to enliven these sessions with a dramatic presentation she has created. These Democracy Schools ( http://www.celdf.org/section.php?id=110 ) are about bringing democracy down to the local level, taking charge of our environment whether doing so is consistent with local, state, and federal laws, or not. Should promote good discussion, and perhaps action.
- If there is interest we may organize a reading/discussion group to take up the excellent materials created by WILPF for the study of Corporations vs. Democracy. The materials are available online, free, a 250+ page pdf. http://www.wilpf.org/CPOWER_10sessions
- We propose that Occupy Amherst endorse the group Move to Amend ( http://movetoamend.org/ ) which is the most important group pushing for a Constitutional Amendment. You can see its proposed Amendment on our Resources page at http://justiceandpeace.net/ecr.html#M2Aamendment . This proposal is on the agenda for the 4/18 GA of OA.