Needham Patch: Democracy Amendment on the Needham Ballot, November 6

From the Needham Patch – [On election day, Nov. 6,] Needham residents will  join more than 150 communities across Massachusetts in voting on a nonbinding question that, if approved, would direct legislators to overturn the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United decision through an amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

“It’s saying that we the people, who are voting on this, want Congress to pass a constitutional amendment that says that corporations do not have the same rights as human people and that the legislature should be able to pass laws regulating political spending and campaign contributions,” said Harmony Wu, a Needham activist and supporter of the issue.

Many Needham residents saw a similar question at the 2012 Annual Town Meeting, when a majority of members approved the measure following about an hour of debate. The Town Meeting article urged the town’s state representatives to support a constitutional amendment.

In June, the Massachusetts legislature did pass a resolution that called upon Congress to enact a constitutional amendment.

Proponents are hoping the response to this new question—which represents the voices of thousands of voters across the commonwealth—will further underline the importance of a constitutional amendment.

“It’s nonbinding, and some might say, what’s the point?” Wu said. “The bigger rationale is that this is an avenue by which people have to organize and mobilize, and when we do this, it becomes part of a large voice calling for change. We’re just trying to make it so that the powers that be can’t ignore this movement.”

Because the threshold for getting a question on the ballot for a senate district is higher than getting a question on the ballot for a legislative district, and the efforts to collect signatures by the deadline were divided, Needham residents in each of the town’s two districts will see different[ly numbered] questions on Nov. 6, [with slight variations in wording,] Wu said.

Voters in precincts A-C, I and J will see a question instructing both the senator [Richard Ross, R] and the representative [Denise Garlick, D] to support an amendment (Questions 4 and 5), while voters in precincts D-H will only see a question instructing the representative [Denise Garlick] to do so (Question 5).

The wording of all questions is as follows (substituting senator or representative depending on the [precinct]):

Shall the state senator [or state representative] from this district be instructed to vote in favor of a resolution calling upon Congress to propose an amendment to the U.S. constitution affirming that (1) corporations are not entitled to the constitutional rights of human beings, and (2) both Congress and the states may place limits on political contributions and political spending?

Placing the questions on the ballot at an election with a highly anticipated turnout will also help make voters more aware of the issue overall, Wu said.

“It’s a public education campaign as well. By seeing the question on the ballot, it increases awareness,” she said.

Read More: http://needham.patch.com/articles/needham-voters-to-see-citizens-united-questions

MORE INFORMATION, on this site, ABOUT THE DEMOCRACY AMENDMENT: Question 5 in Prec.D-H, Question 4 in Precincts A-C, I-J:

Stacie Shapiro: Thank You!

Letter to Needham Times:
Thanks to all who supported the effort to pass a resolution at Town Meeting, putting Needham on record in opposition to the Supreme Court’s “Citizens United” ruling.
This ruling, narrowly decided by a 5-4 vote, gives Corporations “Free Speech” protections under the first amendment, and thus allows corporations to engage in political expenditures in a way that was previously not permitted.
People from all political affiliations and economic standings have strongly criticized this decision, acknowledging the potential for corporate dollars to overwhelm and distort the electoral process.
 Concerns about this decision inspired a group of Needham residents to join a growing movement across the country of people seeking a Constitutional Amendment to rectify the problems associated with the Supreme Court ruling. Continue reading

Boston Herald: 56 Mass. towns urge Congress to reverse Citizens United

Amherst, Boston and Cambridge are among 56 cities and towns across Massachusetts that are calling on Congress to pass an amendment overturning the Citizens United Supreme Court ruling, which has opened up new opportunities for unlimited amounts of corporate and union funds to influence elections around the country.

The court, in a 5-4 ruling two years ago, ruled that restrictions on corporate expenditures in elections violate constitutionally protected free speech rights.

According to the Democracy Amendment Coalition of Massachusetts, they hit the 50-community milestone on May 14 when town meetings in four communities approved resolutions calling on Congress to pass a constitutional amendment overturning the court’s ruling in Citizens United v. FEC.

Read More at this link

Boston.com: Needham Town Meeting Calls for Constitutional Amendment

Boston.com: Needham Town Meeting calls for constitutional amendment on campaign spending

Lois Sockol, who spoke at Town Meeting in favor of Article 23

Many argued that though the article ostensibly deals with a national issue, the issue of possible political corruption could have local effects.

“None of us, none of us, unless we hide under a rock, can not be influenced by the electoral process and the people in power,” said Lois Sockol.

Citizens United, she said, tore the fabric of American democracy.

“Big money has a powerful fist, more powerful than any individual.

Nowhere in the equation of big money and the individual is there basic equality.

By this very inequality, unlimited contributions undermine the basic American creed,” she said.

“We are a government of the people. By the people. And for the people.”

Needham Citizens Tell Town Meeting: Vote YES on Article 23

As part of our preparation to present our citizens petition to Town Meeting, we asked Needham residents to weigh in. At a small number of community gatherings (including LWV Candidates’ night) and online, over 100 people signed their names in support of passing Article 23.

Town Meeting Members, these are comments from your constituents:

We need to do all we can to eliminate Super PACS. Thank you.

Thanks for doing this.

The US is teetering toward democracy and welfare for the corporations and very rich–with the rest of us left in the dust.

We need to restore some sanity and some equanimity to the election process. This is a first step–let’s take it together.

Free speech belongs to the citizenry.  A corporate entity does not enjoy the same rights as citizens and should not be given this overwhelming financial advantage over each individual voter.

In a democratic republic, politicians should serve the people – all the people, not just the highest bidder.  Corruption is bad enough without letting businesses looking for favors fund candidates to do their bidding; or worse, pay off both sides with funds to ensure they can’t lose.

Since Congress won’t take action, the people need to. This is one of the most important issues of our time. Thanks for doing this.

A terrible hurt has been thrust upon the public by the indefencible decision made by our Supreme Court-it’s a licence to buy elections for those with the most money.

Corporations are not citizens because their decisionmakers’ first loyalty is to their shareholders’ interests, not those of the nation, even if those interests conflict.  If they were citizens, they would be traitors. Corporation members already have the rights and responsibilities of citizens as individuals; they should have no added power to influence public affairs as corps. Incorporation protects them from personal accountability for their actions as a corp. No accountability, no rights.

Town Meeting is my voice, representing real people–not corporations. Let’s use the people’s voice –Town Meeting–to return our democracy back to the people!

I fully agree with the warrant article. 

Town Meeting Members can request the list of names by emailing WethePeopleNeedham@gmail.com. Continue reading

Constitutional Amendment: An Overwhelmingly Popular Idea

American as Apple PieWhen an overwhelming majority of Americans–regardless of their political leanings–in poll after poll show that they are sick of the campaign funding system we have, suspicious of the government it creates, critical of the ‘Citizens United’ ruling, and supportive of a Constitutional Amendment to start to fix all of this… 

Town Meeting’s upcoming vote on Article 23 is about the most un-controversial action we can take!

Though the policies and the legalese can become complex, at the end of the day, the issue is simple: corporations–economic entities with a legalistic ‘personhood’ structure–are not people, and are not protected by the Bill of Rights.

When the highest bidder can buy our elections, your single vote counts less and less. Our ability to decide what we want for our town–our local control of our priorities and values–is undermined at the very foundation.

Our forefathers left England to escape a system where the aristocracy controlled everyone’s fates. But we have allowed that same scenario to be recreated in our campaign financing system, and Citizens United just made it worse.

The politicians who are now enslaved to the corrupting system cannot be relied on to advance the changes we need. It has to start with the People.

Let’s do this!

See you Monday.

Vote Postponed Until MONDAY!

At Town Meeting tonight, Article 23 (“Overturn Citizens United”) did NOT come to a vote, due to the late hour. Proponents for Article 23 postponed the vote until after the Special Town Meeting on Monday, 14, 2012.

This conversation is important, and we did not have enough time remaining before the 11PM adjournment to allow the full conversation from Town Meeting Members.

And so, we are looking forward to taking this up FOR CERTAIN on Monday evening!

Town Meeting Members, with this unanticipated delay, we welcome you to explore the site more fully.

Needham citizens–with the extra time, contact your Town Meeting Representatives and ask them to support Article 23, and start the process of overturning ‘Citizens United’!